Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Travelling Handiwork.

First off, this is one of the toughest things Ken has ever had to do. And I am so proud of him.


We could NOT have made it home without these cable chains. And for all the years that I lived in Snow Country, I've never driven on them before. Never even had a set. And now that I'm a thin-blooded Californian, I finally invest in a pair, and we use them the first time out.

Gah, Portland was a mess.

But we are at the old homestead now. And staying put. I have not conquered the phlegm (hello Sinus Infection. So nice of you to join me on the trip), but I'm feeling more environmental, as I am *going green*. The sinus thing has moved from the left side to the right side, and I'm hoping that once I use up every kleenex in my parents' house, it will move on to infest someone else.

Yeah. Pleasant!

Because I am sick, I did not go with my folks to visit my grandmother today. She was sounding pretty with-it yesterday when she called, and I'm hoping she can stay the course when I bring the kids down later this week.

Here. More photos:


The kids were fascinated with the snow. Yikes! It's cold! Who knew?

Federal Way rest area. Can't stop! The snow's picking up volume. Gotta make time!

"Mom! You can catch it on your tongue, and it doesn't hurt! It's cold, but then it's gone! This is the coolest stuff EVER!"

At the grandparents' house:

It was powdery snow, very cold, and impossible to turn into snowballs. But it crunched in a great way, and was wonderful for sledding that first afternoon.

Showboater MUST stand on sleds on the steep hill, and pretend to be snowboarding.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Shoe Garage

I've been listening to the new Bela Fleck album... a lot. (And I know it's called "Jingle all the way", but in my easily-amused brain, I'll always think of it as "Fleck the Halls")

The first song is Jingle Bells. But it's not just ANY Jingle Bells. The vocals are done by Tuvan throat singers. But because I'm not completely *up* on my Tuvan conversation skills, when I sing along, it sounds something like this:

Shoe garage
Shoe garage
Got a shoe garage
Yarga harga canna goo guh
Got a shoe garage

The kids sing the same words, too. They think it's hilarious.

Less than 17 hours until we leave for Canada. I've been watching the road conditions online and I'd like to curl up into a little ball and cry. Ouch!

I'm cursing the day that we traded in the 4x4 Pilot on the wimpy front-wheel-drive Odyssey.

No offense intended, Homer. I know that you can get us to Canada... eventually.

In shopping mojo news, I had to replace Nate's winter jacket. He had it until last month somewhere, when it suddenly went missing. I don't know WHERE it could be. So yesterday, I headed down to my local Savers thrift store, toting a bag of hand-me-downs, and found exactly ONE winter coat on the boys-outerwear rack. FOUR dollars! Woot!

And it was EXACTLY right. Bright yellow, puffy, and Just Nate's Size. It was filthy, but one trip through Mr. Washy and Ms. Fluff-Dry, and it's Just Like New, and smells like a spring breeze.

I also picked up some swim trunks for Skip. The kids always beg to stay at a "hotel with a pool" so I think we'll have to find a hotel with an indoor pool, because if we end up a hotel with an outdoor pool, we'll be doing more ice fishing than swimming.

Our garage door went belly-up yesterday. The spring is broken and the screw is stripped. When you lower it, it comes crashing down the last 3 feet with a finality. Like a guillotine. Yeah, that's safe.

Just one more house-expense to add to the list for next year.

Speaking of which. We're almost done picking things out.

We've got a nice marble for Ken's baking center counter, and we're close to getting the cabinets.

Here. Look at some samples.

There's the marble. Capuccino marble. I think Ken wants the cherry sample on the right side under it for the bake center. I'm leaning towards the alder on the left side for the cabinets in the rest of the kitchen. The flooring underneath is in the dining room. We'll be carrying that through the kitchen for the remodel.



I've moved the pets down to the kitchen counter.

And what's Ken, the man who balked at getting animals in the house, do?

He's All Over S'more. Making little coo-ing noises, giving her treats. Generally being a big softie.

It's hilarious.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Come on, get happy!

I swear, I am so behind the curve on this whole musicianship thing.

If we end up being the Partridge Family (as a couple friends have suggested), I'll be playing the role of Ruben, the dim-witted manager: benevolent, yet completely without a musical bone in my body in comparison to the rest of the family.

Look what greeted me this evening:

And the kicker? He put that thing in his mouth, and got a nice, even, rich tone out of that thing on the SECOND TRY! He's producing a tone that any middle school band teacher would be PLEASED to hear coming out of a 6th or 7th grade sax player.

I take limited solace in the fact that he hasn't got a clue about fingering.

In more 'come on, get happy' news, it looks like Midnight has recovered from whatever ailment he had earlier in the week. I was certain on Wednesday that I should be taking measurements for his Final Resting Place. He barely came out of his nest for 2 days. He staggered around. He didn't eat. He was weak. One of his eyes didn't open. He didn't appear to hear me. He wouldn't take food from my hand.

Then, suddenly on Friday afternoon, it was like he got an infusion of life and energy, and now he's back to his old self, although he's a bit slower, and a bit skinnier. I don't know what was up, but it hit him hard, and left nearly as quickly as it came. I still think he's pretty darned old for a European Black hamster, though.

Kelly is much buoyed, though.

One Christmas present down, several more on the needles.

This is the Elida Scarf, and it was a very easy knit. I think I might just do it again. I used a skein of Malabrigo laceweight in Apple Green, and 4.0mm needles. The thing is PLENTY long enough. Here it is stretching out to infinity...

(the first photo is a better representation of the colour, though).

I don't think I ever posted my Birthday Swag.

Kelly got me a lovely orchid. A lady slipper.

No. really. It's real. Honest.

It sits on my kitchen windowsill with the other orchids. It seems to be a good place for them. They thrive.

There was other stuff, too. Just nothing quite so organic (unless you could the alpaca yarn Ken got me for my next pair of socks)

We've met with our contractor. Kelly's BFF's dad just got his license, and he's gonna start tearing out our old ratty nearly-ready-to-fall-over-from-dry-rot kitchen in the New Year. I love what he did with his own kitchen, and he's got all the connections we need to get what we want. The fact that we're getting the "My daughter's best friend's parents" discount isn't too bad, either.

Question: How do you know that you're not a very consistent housekeeper?

Answer: When your daughter sees you washing the floor, and freaks out because "it might be dangerous!" and goes and makes you a sign for the day:

Ken was laughing at the fact that it was SO UNUSUAL to see the floor washed that Kelly felt she had to make a sign, so I said "Watch out, or I'll make an "Anion: Dry Floor" sign to go with it"

Yeah, I may not be that tidy, but I've got a good balance of Science Geek and Grammar Geek genes.

Another one of my Christmas decorations reminds me that I might have also had a 12 year old, if things had gone differently in 1996.

Our first miscarriage. I was pretty sure it was a girl, and I called her Hope. The picture is supposed to be a Christmas Angel bringing the Christ child to earth, I think, but when I saw this shortly after I got out of the hospital, all I could see was my baby being cradled back to heaven. I did the cross stitch on linen to work through the grief. Now, it's just a sweet reminder of God's comfort and blessings through hard times.


Have a bun.

You know you want one.

They're still warm. Just think how wonderful one would be with curls of Canadian butter melting over it's freshly-opened innards.

Heh. Did I mention I was trying to lose 10 pounds by Christmas?

Did I mention that I'm failing miserably at it?

Did I mention that Canadian butter is my downfall?

Excuse me. I need to go get a snack.

ps. I managed to score something from Kelly's Christmas List. Two things, actually.

1. she wanted a shirt with a star on it.

2. she wanted "sleeves" (these are like leg-warmers for arms. They have thumb-holes to keep them on the hand, and they go up past the elbow).

I killed two birds with one stone in this purchase:

Stolen Christmas Presents

Some of you may remember that last year, Kelly asked for (and received) a flute for Christmas.

She opened it:

And then she didn't see it again for a while.

Skip had a turn... (making sure everything "worked")

And then after all the kids were in bed, Ken had to make sure it worked, too.

I think for the first couple of months that the flute was in the house, Ken and Skip monopolized it apart from the little lessons they would give Kelly on 'how to make a sound with the mouthpiece'.

But now she's taking band at school, and the flute is most definitely hers. Possession being nine-tenths of the law, and all that.

Ken's Christmas present arrived by UPS yesterday...

It's something he's been wanting for a while, especially now that his kids all seem to have his band-instrument gene. (what happened to meeeee? Why didn't *I* get that gene, too? Whine whine whine)

He did all the research, and all the eBay bidding, and finally, the blessed moment finally came.

He won his glorious (and pricey - but not as pricey as if he'd bought it at a store) apple-of-his eye.

A soprano saxophone.

I was out at a dress rehearsal this morning (singing with a jazz quartet tomorrow afternoon) so Ken was in charge of getting the kids to Starbucks and Kung Fu. After that, he was going to be taking The Littles out to a Board Game afternoon with some friends, leaving Skip at home to take a shower, and get ready for his trip to Sky High this evening. I'd come home, make sure Skip had showered and eaten something, and then take him off. Our family, we are a well-oiled machine sometimes.

I come home from rehearsal, wondering if Ken had, perhaps, decided to feed the kids before going out gaming with them, and from the driveway, I could hear the strains of his Christmas Present, noodling around on scales and little snatches of tunes.

Oh well, I sighed, he decided against taking the little ones out gaming, and has instead stayed home to play with his present, which he SAID he was going to let me wrap up and put under the tree.

I was just getting up a good head of "I thought you were going to take care of the kids" and "You're not going to have ANYTHING to look forward to on Christmas morning" as I walked through the door...

And saw this....


Hi mom.... I wasn't expecting you... dad left, and... well... I wondered how hard it was to play a sax...

Are you going to tell dad...?


I won't if you won't.

Friday, November 28, 2008

For Comparison Purposes

Just to compare boy-lists with girl-list.

This is what Kelly compiled the other day. Then she formatted it, printed it out, and made sure I had it before it was time for me to go shopping this morning.

Kelly's Christmas List:

Black horse Webkinz
Manatee Webkinz
Clydesdale Webkinz
Pinto Webkinz
Big Horse stuffed animal
Shimmer Roll-on Fragrance(apple Blossom. Bath and body work)
Nintendogs (DS game)
Ipod(not HOT pink or Red)
Horse Models
A Little Black Pony(snicker snicker. I know this won't happen)
Animal Earrings
Garnet Earrings
Water Color Pencils
A Shirt With A Star On It
Blue Pom-Pom Jacket
Blue Fuzzy Slippers

And, just between you, me, and the lamp-post, I purchased NONE of those things, but she will be having a pretty Merry Christmas anyways. (Well, except for the Snow Globe that I bought her, and then dropped out of the back of my van onto the driveway while I was sneaking all the presents into the house tonight. Whoopsie. I now know what "a million pieces" actually looks like.

Christmas List Help

Ken finally lit a fire under the boys to type up Christmas lists.

Of course, it was after I had already gone shopping for the day. But the lists were waiting for me on Google Docs when I got home.

But I need a little help... Please!

Skip didn't want to write a list, so Ken started one off for him, reading along while he typed in the document...

"Things I want for Christmas, by Skip Parker... An orange computer. Orange pants. An orange shirt. An earring..."

At this point, Skip squealed like a girl, and wanted to take over the typing. There would be no earring requests.

But now I am at a loss. Here's his list, and I have NO clue what he wants...

Skip's Christmas List

  1. Computer that can play Starcraft 2 and Spore ( I like the one on page 84 of the Spore magazine)
  2. Starcraft 2
  3. H+H2.PC.V(H3.PC.V if out)
  4. AC.PC.V
  5. That book.
  6. Iron Man DVD

Er... what the HECK is H+H2.PC.V?

Or H3.PC.V?

And, um... AC.PC.V?

Anyone what to hazard a guess at what "*That* book" is? "Tropic of Capricorn"?

Oh well. he started off so well. I know EXACTLY which computer it is that he's got his eye on. Anyone surprised that it's orange? I'm not.

And while you're thinking about what those cryptic entries, numbers 3, 4, and 5 are, I distract you!


It's a low-budget Paris Hilton purse-pet.

Oh, and here's Nate's list:

Nate's Christmas List

  1. Manatee (webkinz)
  2. Skate or Ray (stuffed)
  3. Line Shirt
  4. iPod (not pink or purple)
  5. Bicycle
  6. Drum Kit
  7. A game
  8. Wall-E(DSgame)
  9. StarCraft2
  10. A computer (that works on StarCraft2)
  11. Spore Creatures (DSgame)

Well, nobody every will accuse him of aiming low...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving... under the wire

The day is nearly done, and I will be waking up in 4 hours to take my friend Toni on our annual 'get Christmas presents for the kids and husbands and then go out for breakfast while they are still sleeping' extravaganza.

But I did want to say Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. I am most thankful for all of you, and the chance to get to 'meet' you through this venue. And to those of you who I have had the privelege of meeting in person, I want to say that I truly feel blessed to have had that chance. The modern age is a magnificent thing, for bringing people like you into my life.

I'm getting into the groove of this late-season Thanksgiving, and it's starting to grow on me. And tomorrow? Tomorrow I get to put up the decorations.

Here's a taste of our Thanksgiving.

This is in our back yard. Yes, I'm evil. Thought I'd take a photo of the lemon just before I picked it to put into the apple/cranberry/raisin pie. That was a good lemon, too.

And here we have Ken's "I'm making too many dishes for the feast" coping-skillz t-shirt.

(rats, I thought that was in better focus when I uploaded it)

And what's this? Children wielding knives?

Yes, we put our slaves to work, making comestibles for our culinary pleasure. Cut those apples! And don't lose any fingers while you're at it.

And as a tip of the hat to the upcoming season, I pulled out ONE of my Christmas plates to put the cheese course on.

Here, you can see Ken's hands, building the pie. You can also see his father's wedding ring on his right hand. Look how similar it is to his own wedding band.

But now, I *MUST* get to sleep, lest I slumber in the chaos of Black Friday sales, and thus be accused of not bolstering the ailing economy enough.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I am avoiding big ugly jobs in my house by blogging.

Go me!


Last week, Ken had a Board Gaming Night, so while I was out with the kids in the afternoon (half days for parent/teacher conferences started last Tuesday. Kill me now!) I asked them what they'd like to have for supper, seeing as Dad wouldn't be around, and I was feeling generous.

Now, my kids are not exactly in the "Adventurous Eater" demographic, so I was pretty surprised to hear them all agree on "Fondue!"

Hello? When have we EVER had fondue in our house?

Oh! You mean... dipping anything edible into chocolate ganache? Of course you do.

So after lunch, we popped by the local grocery store, and everyone got to choose their favourite fruit. Then we went home, and got the homework out of the way (oh! They were SO cooperative, knowing that there would be no 'do I have to eat this?' food on the table that night. I really should pre-reward them more often)

Then it was Kung Fu time, and once that was out of the way, Let The Fondue Commence!

Skip was in charge of making the ganache. He's really quite the chef. And he can make any quantity, seeing as he's figured out the ratios, and has quite the facility with doing the cooking-math in his head.

He decided on TWO ganaches. One would be extra dark bitter chocolate ganache, made with Panther Bars (these 88% cocoa chocolate bars that are some 'save the endangered species' marketing wonder) The other one would be merely Dark Chocolate, made with Ghirardelli bittersweet chips. I know. The hardships, they overwhelm me.

And while he was cooking, Kelly and Nate were busy making the rest of supper.

(yes, start small with crescent rolls out of a tube...)

And I was put to work cutting up the fruit.

And then... HORRORS! I set up all the supper fixings on the coffee table in the family room, and let the kids WATCH TV while they ate. Seriously, I think they thought they'd died and gone to heaven.

(ok, so the peaches were out of a can. Skip's vote had been for nectarines, but YOU try finding nectarines in the middle of November. It's just not happening)

All in all, it was a pretty sweet supper. And even with the TV running in the background, I got a whole lot more conversation out of the kids than we normally get around the kitchen table with NO distractions.

Hmm. I think I may be reprieving this event in the future.

My hips won't thank me.

But my goodness, it sure was a nice treat.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Getting back into a groove.

Man, I must've blown the wad posting that last entry... SIXTEEN DAYS AGO. Egads. Oh, lots of stuff continues to go on, mostly with that "I'm barely holding on, but in a good way" sort of chaos.

And I know if I could just get into a routine (with a TON of stuff in my life) that things would just go smoother. Isn't that the same for everyone? Please, tell me it's the same for everyone.

So here I go. Fresh start every day, right?

Today, I give you a Pet Retrospective for the month.

Pet Number 1. Midnight.

He's a love. I truly think that he rides the short bus. He has no real sense of danger. No real desire for self-preservation, as it comes to the world of 'duck and cover', but he's not flighty and dare-devil, either. Either he's shooting blanks, or I cut short the little hamster-love tryst on November 5th, because there has been no baby action. We will try again in January.

Kelly and I took him outside yesterday. He enjoyed his time on the grass, and didn't get snatched up by a hawk, which is always a good day.

He's turning brown in his old age. A nice chestnut fade out from his blackness of babyhood.

Pet #2. S'more.

So, her little Hamster Palace that we bought for her when we got her? I hate it. It's atrocious to clean, and she spent all her time in her exercise ball, turning it into a nest/hoarde/potty. But she didn't go potty in the ball. She went into the tube-matrix, and peed in there, so she'd get pee all over herself while she scooted through the tubes, and then she'd back up against the air-holes in the exercise ball, and shoot her pee out through the gap, getting it all over the windowsill, the window, the dresser. It was a mess.

So I 'downgraded' her.

She changes it up every day. One day, she's sleeping in one corner, the next, she's made a big nest behind the wheel. Then she's shifting all the bedding to a new place. And she's SO cute when she sleeps.

And she went outside yesterday, too.

Pet Number 3....


A THIRD pet?????

Well, you see, Kelly had a cavity at this last dentist appointment, and she had to have a filling done.

And I'm a softie..

Here she is, waiting for the freezing to take effect. And while she was waiting, I let her phone her grandmother to tell her all about it.

And she felt all flubby and drooly after the (tiny) filling was done, so I told her that we'd blow off the rest of the school day.

But what to do with our "mom and me" time?

Well, we were REALLY close to PetCo....

Oh, the downfall of that place when matched with my miniscule restraint.

Meet Honey...

Honey (or, as I like to call him... "Bob") is a white Betta splendens. This picture isn't the greatest. But Kelly's quite fascinated with him.

OK, Maybe this will give me some kick in the pants to get blogging again.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Follies

Well, our family is going in eleventy-three different directions yet again.

This evening, Skip is off to play with his Jazz Combo (and can I just say that I *never* get tired of saying that?) at a school district fundraiser gala event, and Ken is taking him. After he finishes playing, he's gonna be taking dad out for sushi at our favourite sushi place. Yum.

But while he's doing that, The Littles and I will be heading across town to drop off ALL THE OLD BIKES at our pastor's house, because his father in law has a connection with this place that gives underpriveledged kids 'new' bikes. I hope our old bikes are in great enough shape, or that his connections can work miracles and make them all sparkly and new again. I'm glad they're getting new lives, and I'm VERY glad that they are Finally Leaving My Garage.

I've got onions sauteeing for French Onion Soup tomorrow evening, to go with the Butternut Squash bisque that I'm going to make, and the Corn, Chorizo and Chipotle chowder that Ken will make tomorrow morning. Yum, my mouth is watering.

Good thing that we'll be stopping at Dairy Queen before we drop off the bikes. Heh.

OH! And isn't this just the cutest treat? Hamster popcorn! And these little cobs are about as big as my thumb. I'm so easily amused.

On the knitting front...

Remember that glorious skein of yarn in the previous entry?

Tell me, how can something that glorious knit up into something THIS DRAB?

It's like those vibrant greens and blues just VANISHED when I wound that yarn up into a ball. And where did all that muddy black and grey come from?


Oh well. It's cashmere. It can't be ALL bad.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Blood Bath

Yesterday was my "do something nice, and go give blood" morning.

Considering my recent track record, I was pretty darned proud of myself that I made it to the clinic in one piece, with no surprise phone calls regarding the death/injury of any family members.

There was nobody around. I got right in.

I had a senior nurse who knew her stuff.

She gave me the wee-gauge needle, even.

Life was peachy.

Until the blood started flowing.

Then... ouch! It didn't flow, so she stripped the tubes (which hurts like a mofo, by the way). Then she pulled the needle out a bit. Then she pushed it in a little farther (eek!), then she asked for a 'fresh set of hands'. Then she asked me to flex my hand. Then she asked me to completely relax. (Yeah, YOU try to relax completely after all that).

The room was spinning and my eyes were crossing, and I've never had a donation take so long.


And then I got a present!

Looks like they'd poked right through the vein after all.

That bruise was actually a nice big sproingy blood blister last night. The kids were all impressed, and quite curious.

But hey, a small price to pay for what might save someone's life in the next weeks, right?

There was some activity in the neighbourhood the last few days.

Don't know what's up, but the kids are sure enjoying tracking the big white blimp.

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird... it's a plane...

It's a... cigar?

Shortly after that photo was taken, Kelly put down her jump rope, and Nate picked up a stick, and then... oh look! Shiny Things!

...and suddenly, Kelly has a big welt on her forehead, and nobody really knows what happened exactly.

Last night, Midnight finally figured out which end was up, and S'more finally started 'assuming the position'.

"Hamster Wedding Night".

And Kelly, watching the whole thing, said "Does it hurt when he climbs up on her? I think it would hurt. I wouldn't let a boy do that, even when I'm SIXTEEN!"

*stops breathing*

*clutches at heart*

*makes phone calls to nunneries*

On the off chance that Midnight wasn't, in fact, shooting blanks, Kelly and I have set up S'more in a cage that is far more 'watching the babies' friendly, and are now counting the days until the potential blessed event. November 21, if the literature is correct.

I have nearly finished the first of the Black Felted Wool Socks, and am taking a break by getting to work on something using the Cashmere-blend yarn I picked up in Victoria last month at dad's funeral.

*pets the beautiful yarn* You, my pretty, will never give my daughter ideas about misbehaviour when she's a teenager. Unless, of course, she starts to knit, and gets bitten by the 'Must Buy Yarn" bug. Oh dear. I hadn't thought of that...