Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Year is Here

I think Leap Year Day is cool. Had I been born two days later, I would be celebrating my eighth birthday. Instead, I celebrated my thirty-second. I just love the weird juxtaposition that Leap Year provides.

But I didn't realize that it's a hard concept to explain to a five year old. As Cami and I were running errands, I tried to explain that the solar calendar doesn't quite mesh with the numbers on a paper calendar -- it doesn't sound very believable. Anyway, any day that is "special" but doesn't involve presents doesn't really count as "special."

But I was just thinking that for us this really is a Leap Year. We're leaping from two-kid status to three. We're leaping from eternal-student family to gainfully-employed family. And we're leaping across the Pond. Maybe it's not just Graham who should self-identify as a frog.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Simple Pleasures + One

I am far too often guilty of not taking time to smell the roses. (Although in my case, the scent of roses give me a headache.) I just don't take the 20 seconds necessary to make something pleasant something pleasurable. But yesterday I was better. . . .

1. Enjoyed the blue light that fresh snowfall gives. I read scriptures in bed by the peaceful glow from the window.

2. Made snowmen, snow angels (well, Cami did, since I'm too big in the tummy to do the necessary sit-up), and snow balls (with accompanying fight) with Cami & two of her friends. And then enjoyed the creamy loveliness of homemade marshmallows (something I've been contemplating for four years, but didn't try until four days ago) in hot chocolate Jason brought back from England.

3. Lit candles while I cooked lunch. I had an epiphany that made it even better: I could listen to David Lanz's variations on Pachebel's Canon in D on YouTube, rather than digging through tons of CDs that I haven't listened to in years. It's so beautiful -- the music & the candlelight fed my soul, even while I made homemade pasta sauce & then washed dishes.

And the + One: Jason and I went to The Frog and The Peach for an extravagant supper. I like it when my birthdays are celebrated that way -- not with fanfare, but as a reason to dress up & linger over marvelous food with marvelous company.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


"Sanctuary. Sanctuary." It's probably my favorite line in "Runaway Bride."

But I just read a reminder about the importance of creating a sanctuary as one creates one's home. When I was a teen, despite the physical and emotional chaos present, my house was the place with the open-door policy. Any of my friends could show up and hang out (as long as it wasn't a boy with whom I was "kissing friends").

That's what I want our home to be (minus the physical and emotional chaos). I wonder how that will work when we're immersed in another culture. Will Cami bring her friends home with her from school? When Graham's ten will we be surrounded by a crowd? And when the friends grow up, will they come to me & Jason to talk about the stuff that they just don't feel they can share with their own parents?

Of course, we have no idea how long we will stay in England. My parents have been in the same house for almost 32 years. Forever, by American standards, mere moments by European. But I suppose that constancy is part of what makes a place one's sanctuary. For my parents, it was a consistent location -- for me, I hope it's a feeling of love, fun, and joyous happiness.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What to do with a Book?

Anybody who knows us, knows that Jason and I are more "book people" than "TV people." In fact, when we moved from Washington State to Florida, we didn't have much by way of furniture, so we moved by mail. We spent about five hundred dollars on postage, most of which was media rate.

But now comes the time when the books get sorted into those "worthy" and "unworthy." I'd already begun that process, but Jason continued it today. I was surprised by some of those which didn't make the cut. Ender's Game and One Hundred & One Famous Poems are in the "get rid of" box. I'm proud of him for being willing to purge them from our shelves, and yet I think to myself, "What!?! These are great books."

Now I must face the truth with myself (again). The purge I'd done earlier were books I didn't want in the first place. The ones that somebody gives you & you aren't sure why. The ones that you stick on a shelf where they create some sort of gravitational black hole. When their gravity begins to suck you in, you break away by irritably muttering, "Why did he/she give me that. . .what made them think that's something I'd want?" and then feeling grouchy for the next twenty minutes.

The truth is that my "fluffy" reading is the books I'll have the hardest time leaving behind. The books that don't enlighten or enliven you at all. The books that I read when it's a rainy, gloomy day or I'm just feeling sorry for myself. The books that linger for weeks in the bathroom, because reading while taking a bath is bliss. Basically, the books that provide the mental escape from life.

So, what do you read? And what to do with books that must stay behind?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Life with Drugs

Graham had surgery this morning. Nothing significantly wrong, just a preventative surgery that we opted for while we have great health insurance. But in addition to general anesthesia, he had to to have a spinal block -- basically a baby epidural. When he woke up, he couldn't feel his legs, but he saw a toy in the recovery room that he really wanted to play with. Mean parents that Jason and I are, we did our best to help our splay-legged, I-can't-even-crawl, I'm-going-to-crack-my-head son across the hard, tile floor to the toy. It's obvious we're abusive, for as the surgeon passed the room, Graham yelled, "You GO AWAY!"

Monday, February 11, 2008

More cuteness

I realize I just posted a cute Grahamism last night, but he just did the funniest thing. Cami started this game a few nights ago at supper where we get different names. In the original round, I was "Shirt," Jason was "Milk," Graham was "Water," and Cami was "Foot". Well, Graham began a round about fifteen minutes ago, "Mommy, you are Pig" (you can guess how I felt about that). "Daddy, you are Horse." "Cami, you are Sheep." But he didn't self-identify. "Graham, who are you?" His reply was indistinguishable. It sounded like "I am Machine" or "I am my monster." So we started guessing, "Are you the Farmer?" "Are you a Cow?" No and no. But he helped us out: "Cock-a-dooooooooo." Rooster -- got it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

YOUUUU Take a Bath!

Graham has turned into a verbal echo. I think it started with this game that Jason plays during diaper changes. While Graham is prone to flailing around, he'll often calm down when Jason starts the "You are silly" game. Graham will echo with "You are silly" and it goes on and on.

The echo has spoken on his own, though. "You are Wallace [from Wallace & Gromit], Daddy!" Or "You take a bath, Mom!" as I'm on my way to the shower. But he won bonus charming-kid points Friday when I finished dressing him & said, "Graham, you are cute!" His response: "Youuuu are super-cute!"

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Moving and memories

Preparing for a international move has all sorts of unexpected advantages. For example, I've been able to turn down the multitude of solicitations for charities we've gotten phone calls for with the line, "I'm sorry I can't help right now, but we're getting ready to move out of the country." And the amazing thing is that the caller is so gracious about the rejection.

The other big advantage is that there's all sorts of projects-in-progress (ie. "I'll get to that someday") that are actually progressing. It's hard to justify moving something that is either broken or useless until some minor repair is done. So, I've gotten glass cut for several picture frames and last night I began to sort through letters I received as a missionary. It's amazing how there are some things which could only be classified under the heading of "love letters" that don't ever get opened. I know the handwriting, I can remember or guess what the contents are, and I know how those relationships ended. Those get recycled. Although it's wonderful to open a letter from Jason and read about what was on his mind as we were so far apart. These get kept.

The other wonderful thing was to read a letter that one of my dearest missionary companions had written while we were comps. She listed a bunch of "good things" about us being companions. I also found random "secret sister" notes of encouragement that I didn't remember. And photos, some of which aren't even too bad. But like the letters, there were photos that needed to be removed. So into the garbage they went. Now I just need to put the photos of moments worth remembering into a scrapbook. . .one more project-in-progress to complete.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Power of Suggestion

Do I have spoiled children? Probably. Over the past few days a Mac "Mini" has been delivered. . . first the insurance policy, then the cordless keyboard, and finally the Mini itself. By the third day, the FedEx guy actually said, "Hi, Starr, I'm back." Not only is he friendly, but he's consistent, unlike the UPS delivery people who generally leave our things six houses (and another town) away. (I found our long-missing digital camera on that porch last week -- it's been outside in horrible weather since the 12th of December -- so now I can be adding photos to the blog.)

The Mini is our "International Long-Distance Service" once we move to England. For those of you with webcams, iChat, AIM or Skype, let me know. We'll get some facetime. However, the reality is that the computer is for the kids. They kept interrupting Jason while he works on his dissertation, so we bought them their own computer. A bookshelf full of cooking stuff has been removed & the computer desk resides in the kitchen. This way I can watch what they're doing, as well as have easy access to recipes (today it was "semi-homemade refried beans" necessary to complete the chimichangas Jason was making for supper).

Yesterday was the first day that the kids could use the computer, which meant that except for the hour I took them to the park, they spent much of the day excited about this new toy. Cami's great love is watching Cosby Show clips on YouTube. And I love it, too. That was the entire purpose of Thursday nights when I was ten. . .I'm happy that my five year old thinks it's great. However, she found the clip where Cliff dreams he's pregnant. She only watched about 30 seconds of it, but it was enough. . .I'm suddenly feeling hugely pregnant. The sort of pregnant where you feel like your stomach is too big to carry an ex utero child, where you can't comfortably bend over & pick up toys, and where the last thing on earth you want is to have anyone touch you -- especially when it's kids climbing on (or rubbing) your tummy.

And the beauty of all this? In just two-ish months when the newest munchkin arrives, I'll be this big again.