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.