Thursday, July 31, 2008

Seven Years Ago

I did not sleep well last night...too much tea and probably too much guacamole and salsa, too. Amazingly I don't feel too bad today; maybe it will catch up with me later.

Seven years ago I did not sleep well on the night of July 30th, either. Not because of tea and Mexican food, though! Instead, I was in a hospital bed, hooked up to monitors, with a nurse hovering around me trying to keep the Doppler monitor in place. A certain little boy was determined to wiggle around in the limited space available to him, so we had to keep shifting the device around to hear his heartbeat.

The nurse and I spent the night talking about various things that, in retrospect, seem rather odd. We discussed whether it was harder to drive in Boston or Chicago. Since she'd never driven in Chicago and I'd never been to Boston it was not a terribly productive discussion. :)

We also spent a lot of time telling the wiggly young man that he needed to turn around to be ready to be born the next morning. He listened to us, but was apparently confused about the directions because instead of turning all the way around from being head-up to head-down he decided to turn till he was sideways and stay in that position. Since he needed to be born quickly his position meant he would have to be delivered via C-section. The intensive monitoring was to try to determine how he would do once he was born, because he was not supposed to be born for another 7 weeks.

(I'll skip the long, boring explanation about my struggles to get and stay pregnant and why both my children were born at 33 weeks. Cliffs Notes version: probably caused by an autoimmunity problem, possibly related to the chronic pain condition I have, potentially treatable if God were to give us another baby at our advanced ages.)

So, on the morning of July 31st on 2001, Colin Thomas Roth was born. He weighed just under 4 pounds and he was very mad. :) When I finally got to hold him he felt like a little feather; in fact I wasn't sure if I was even feeling him or just the big wad of blankets he was wrapped in.

Seven years later he is not a little feather any more! Today he is a big moose and if he keeps getting taller and outgrowing shoes at the rate he is now, I predict he will be at least as big as his daddy and his uncles. Possibly bigger. :) Natalie just measured him and he is 4' 2".

So far today Colin has received a phone call from his friend, Mrs. B, and a visit from his friend, Mrs. S. He is very popular with the older ladies! Mrs. S. brought him a remote-control truck with race cars to go in it. This has been a wonderful diversion to keep him from going stark raving mad waiting till we celebrate his birthday tonight. It is so hard to wait for birthday parties when you are seven!

Colin requested grilled hamburgers and grilled sweet corn for his birthday dinner tonight. I just looked at the weather forecast and it looks like Tom might be grilling in the rain this evening. We'll also have birthday cake and ice cream, of course. Natalie is making and decorating the cake. It is in the oven right now and the house is starting to smell like chocolate...yum...

Here is a picture of the birthday boy this morning, with his usual cheesy smile. Happy 7th Birthday, Colin!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Is It Wednesday Already? Yikes!

Okay, while I'm waiting for our lunch to cook** here's a quick rambling update on life around these parts.

As some of you mentioned in the comments and in person, those weekend plans didn't sound particularly relaxing. I think it was relaxing for us because the weekend didn't involve outside commitments or much activity that was not of our own choosing.

Also, relaxing and restful are not the same concept in my mind. I can be relaxed and enjoying myself and then get up the next day and be totally exhausted. Which is how I felt Monday morning! Part of that has to do with the amount of social interaction I had on Sunday.

I hope nobody I know in person will take this personally; it is certainly not meant that way! I enjoy being with people, I like being with my friends, I particularly like hanging out with my family and/or my church family. But, as enjoyable as that is, it is utterly exhausting to me.

Reportedly there are people out there who get invigorated and energized being around other people. People who when they are by themselves get depressed and lack energy, and need to get out and see other people to feel good. I think these are the people who can be good sabbatarians and feel like they "rested" on Sunday. I put "rested" in quotes, because whatever else Sunday may be to me...the Lord's Day, a day of worship, a day of learning, a day of fellowship, a very precious day...it is not restful for me.

So, anyway, relaxing weekend followed by a tired Monday. But we accomplished a lot! Tom got the first vent installed. This is the one he could reach with my dad's ladder; the rest of them will wait till he can borrow a friend's longer ladder. But this one was a good trial run for him; it turns out the plans he made for installing the vents are going to work out pretty well. He got up early and was done with the vent by mid-morning so he avoided the worst heat of the day, too.

I got bread made (4 loaves), Natalie did the Aldi shopping for me, and we hit Costco on Sunday for a trunk full of groceries there. Now the freezer is back to being almost full, and the pantries likewise.

Plus I did get some stitching time...quite a bit, actually. A total of four hours on Saturday, broken into pieces, and two hours on Sunday afternoon. When my photographer gets a spare minute I will be able to post an update picture of Serendipity Sampler. It is not done yet, but getting there. If this week wasn't shaping up to be busy I would say I could finish it by next Saturday, but probably not at this rate.

Well, Natalie is pulling the lunch out of the oven, so time to go eat and catch up on online comics together. Tomorrow...time permitting...what I was doing 7 years ago. :)

**Oven Cheese Toast: spread butter very lightly on both sides of several pieces of bread. Lay bread slices on non-stick baking sheet. Place cheese slices of your choice on top of bread. Bung the whole shebang into the oven at 350 degrees until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Cut into strips, enjoy, and tell the complainer that once he is old enough to make his own lunch he can make whatever he wants. Remember that his favorite foods include steak and shrimp and reconsider your hasty words...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday and Weekend Doings

It feels like it has been a long, busy week! But today is Friday and I think we have a relaxing weekend planned for a change.

Tonight we're going to have French Bread Pizzas for supper, and we'll probably eat in the living room and watch a Jeeves and Wooster episode whilst eating. It's been ages since I've made French Bread Pizza, but we had some loaves of Natalie's homemade Cuban bread in the freezer from when we last had Cuban Sandwiches. So I decided to cheat, save time, and use the bread instead of messing with making a crust. And I guess I should be calling them "Cuban Bread Pizzas"....hmmm.

Tomorrow Tom is getting up on the roof and in the attic to work on a project he's been planning for a while. Our house has a ridge vent system in the roof, but it doesn't seem to remove enough hot air from the attic in the summer. With some of the very hot temps we've had this summer it has been hard to keep the house cooled down without running the A/C non-stop.

Tom monitored the attic temps and found it was getting as much as 30 degrees hotter up there than it was outside. So he's going to install some gable end vents up there to help move the hot air out a little better. This involves popping a few pieces of siding off, cutting some holes, installing vents and doing some sealing. And, of course, it also means climbing around on the roof. What is it about men and climbing on roofs? Oh well, it's better to be married to a brave man who climbs on roofs than one who would never consider doing something that dangerous!

Colin will probably be involved helping Tom. I'm not sure he's got his mountain goat skills yet, so he probably will not be up on the roof. Maybe he can go up and down the ladder to fetch things.

Natalie and I need to get some food in this house! We worked to use up stuff in the big freezer so we could defrost it, but that's done now so it needs to be refilled. A trip to Costco Sunday after church will help, but we'll probably also hit Aldi and Lowes for a few things tomorrow. We need to bake some bread tomorrow, too.

Hmmm...our relaxing weekend is starting to sound a bit busy! I think we'll have time in there to kick back and just enjoy being home. I want to get some serious needlework time in either tomorrow or Sunday afternoon. I've been trying to get Serendipity Sampler finished in time for the fair. Since that picture, I have finished three more segments and have a fourth almost completed. That will leave just the middle section to complete; unfortunately it is BIG. I would like to get all the outside part done this weekend and some sort of start on the middle.

I did get the Rose in Morning piece done some time ago, but I still need to figure out how I want to finish it. We have plenty of wall space left for framed pictures, but frames can get pricey. If I make it into a pillow, though, I need to find a pillow form the right size and a nice coordinating backing fabric. So, decisions and purchases to be made either way...

Well, Tom is home and he and Colin are bustling around gathering up their supplies for tomorrow's project. They've tried out the new siding removal tool and are impressed with how it works, and they've located the right size template for cutting the hole. Time for me to heat up the oven and pop in the pizzas so we can have some supper!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Temptation to be Mrs. Bennet

I don't know if I would have made this connection without reading this article by Nancy Wilson several years ago. Here's a little taste, but you really should go read the whole thing.

••But you may ask, "What's wrong with trying to find a nice Christian young man for my daughter?" It sounds like such a holy pursuit! First of all, why do so many mothers think it is their job to find a suitable husband for their daughters? Has your husband delegated this responsibility to you? "Honey, Susie is pushing twenty-two, so I'd like you to find a husband for her. Start going through the church directory and we'll have the young men over to dinner in groups of three." I don't think so.••

When I first read this, two or three or more years ago, I found it very amusing. Anybody who has read Pride and Prejudice or seen one of the film adaptations can probably picture a modern day Mrs. Bennet...gotta get these daughters married off, gotta find suitable husbands, oh my nerves, oh that husband who won't help, oh the regiment is in town!

When I found it amusing, though, my daughter was in her early teens. Now she's 18, going to be 19 soon, and what she wants to do with her life is be a wife and mother. So, even though I know better, I sometimes find myself thinking like Mrs. Bennet. Obviously we want her to have a godly husband most of all. But we go to a teeny tiny church and if I were to start inviting the young men over to dinner in groups of three we would run out of young men ridiculously quickly.

So, late at night, my crazy mind starts scheming, thinking of scenarios. Hey, we were in a good church back in Illinois when she was born. And she was born during the massive 1980s baby boom at that particular church. Lots of our friends had babies around the same time. And, believe it or not, some of those babies were boys. Hmm...our godly friends from College and Career Youth Group days might have eligible boys wanting wives. "Hey, honey, wake up...ROAD TRIP!! What...what do you mean you 'have a high respect for my nerves'? Ah, you do not know what I suffer!"

I can think of a bunch of really good reasons why it is SO stupid for me to be like Mrs. Bennet. Three will suffice:

1. God is sovereign. This is really the only reason I should need, but I am a weak bumbling human. God knows if Natalie will marry, and He will see to it that she meets the man without my crazy schemes.

2. Natalie isn't exactly desperate. She's 18, for goodness' sake! After all, I was not nearly as pretty and accomplished (and all those other Austen virtues!) as she is...and even I got married before I was too terribly old. Without having to go running after the regiment, even. :) There's plenty of time for her to meet someone before she's anywhere near to being an old maid.

3. I don't really want her to leave home anytime soon. She's my helper and my friend, and when she's not here I miss her a lot. It's going to be hard enough to have her gone two days a week for her new job...I don't want to think about what it will be like when she might be hundreds or thousands of miles away.

So, as you can see, this is one of those posts that I'm writing to make myself face the truth. Mrs. Bennet was an idiot and I don't want to be like her. So I need to keep reminding myself to trust in God for the future in all things...including my children's future spouses.

Spouses. Spouse(s).

I wonder what Mrs. Bennet's thoughts and strategies would have been if she had an unsocialized homeschooled son to marry off? :) Perhaps I should be thinking ahead...Colin's going to be 7 soon, after all.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Eureka!

Abomination! "Angel food cake is the abomination of the cake world!"

That only took three cups of tea, and the last one was watered down.

In other news, the Brown Sugar Pound Cake I made on Saturday turned out to taste very good, but not have the proper pound cake texture. According to the premium catalog for the county fair, the texture of my pound cake would be described as "soggy or sad". Sad pound cake. Pobre pound cake...no es triste?

I was telling a friend last night that Yankees do make pound cake, and that we like it heavier and moister than Southern pound cake. Upon further reflection (see above re: cups of tea) I realized that what I'm thinking of is Bundt Cake. Yankees make Bundt Cake, and Bundt Cake is moist and heavier and made in a fluted pan.

There isn't a Bundt Cake category at the fair, so I will not cast my pearls before swine. I will also not continue to labor under the deluded notion that I am capable of making pound cake. :)

PS. The mind-melding in this household could be frightening to an outsider. I finished folding a load of laundry, walked into my bathroom, and suddenly shouted "Abomination!" Instead of coming running to see if I was sick or merely addled, Natalie just hollered back "Oh yes, that's it exactly!"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Blight? A Scourge? A...a...where did my vocabulary go?

The cake pan is on the upper shelf of the lower cabinet, right where I can't see it when I look down. Tom offers to get it out for me. I tell him to get the "big cake pan", he grabs a 9 inch layer cake pan. No, the really big pan, the pound cake pan.

In his home, growing up, that pan was called the Angel Food Cake Pan.

Let us just pause a moment and weep for the tragedy that was my husband's childhood.

And then let us get back to trying to remember what THAT WORD is that means "blight" or "scourge" or something like that, but it seems like it should end in "-tion" or "-sion" for some reason. As in "Angel Food Cake is the long impressive missing word that means scourge of the cake world."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Girls' Night Out

Last night was Wednesday, and this Wednesday happened to be Men's Meeting night. Our church has regular all-church Bible study and prayer meeting (should "prayer meeting" be capitalized?) on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, and men's meeting (ditto on the capitalizing?) on the second and fourth Wednesdays. When there is a fifth Wednesday in the month we have regular prayer meeting. So we can have two regular prayer meetings in a row, but never two men's meetings. I think. My strategy is to listen closely to the announcements on Sunday morning to know where we're supposed to be on any given Wednesday night.

Anyway, last night was men's meeting, and last night it was held at our house. So, men's meeting at our house...where do the women go? My original plan was to grab my craft bag and a mug of water and hang out in Natalie's room with her. She's got a computer, a phone, a cell phone, the Internets, and a bed that can be sort of comfortable enough to sit on if you pile enough pillows behind your back.

But, in the end, we decided to get out of Dodge. First we thought we'd just go to Barnes and Noble, but I also wanted to go to Michaels, and then as we were getting ready to eat supper (leftovers!) we suddenly had the inspiration to go get something to eat first. I mean, we needed to get the car out of the driveway in plenty of time before the guys got there, right? :)

So, our first stop was Panera for paninis and people-watching. We saw Ms. No Visible Panty Lines and her date/work associate/friend/brother (he let her pay for her own food so we couldn't draw any conclusions from that). You know the fashion gurus make a big deal about being sure to have no visible panty lines under smooth clothing...but. (resisting pun, resisting pun) I won't describe her in detail, but let's just say that Ms. NVPL illustrated graphically for us all that sometimes it might be best to have those tell-tale lines rather than to leave your audience wondering if you decided to forgo the undies altogether.

Then there was Ms. He's Mine You Can't Have Him. She was accompanied by her date/boyfriend/fiance/husband and she apparently thought he was in danger of getting away. She had both of her arms twined around him at almost all times. Her strategy seemed to be to keep him in some sort of straight jacket of arm loops. He did not appear to be actively fighting this strategy, but neither did he seem terribly appreciative of it. As they stepped up to the counter to place their order, he had to shift a little to get an arm free to get out his wallet. Since his arm remained out of the grasp of Ms. HMYCHH, she took to holding onto his other arm while leaning heavily on him. When the girl behind the counter turned and smiled at him in a bland, non-threatening, polite customer service manner, Ms. HMYCHH took immediate measures to recapture his other arm and reinsert him in the straight jacket.

After Panera, we headed over to Michaels. I browsed the yarn department and tried, unsuccessfully, to come up with a way to make a nice afghan out of good yarn without paying much for it. Natalie, meanwhile, found a pair of shoes to buy.

Fueled by the excitement of unexpected shoe purchasing, Natalie then asked if we could go over to Shoe Carnival. Shoe Carnival plays annoying music very loudly. They also have a contract with a company that keeps them constantly supplied with whining, crying children. They have seats that look comfortable, but aren't nearly as comfortable as they look. Natalie tried on piles and piles of shoes, including one pair that made her yelp "ouch" the second she got them on her feet. After all that she ended up buying three pairs of shoes, so I guess we can call it a successful trip.

After that we headed to Barnes and Noble to look for gardening books. We looked through several and decided that the information we get off the Internet would be just as helpful as what was available in print. We also sat and flipped through lots of magazines, and drank Starbucks beverages. Natalie had a Frappucino and I had a drink called something like Creme of Double Chocolate Chips. It was like a chocolate milk smoothie. Very refreshing, but not as creamy as I thought it should be. When I got home and looked up the ingredients on the Starbucks site and found out it was 510 calories, I decided that in the future I would prefer a real chocolate milkshake instead. Starbucks doesn't sell those, though.

Finally we dragged our exhausted selves back home to find that the guys had had a great time with the men's meeting group. Colin had even swept the kitchen floor before we got home...which was probably just as well since the men and boys had enjoyed lots of cookies and popcorn in our absence.

I think Natalie is blogging this morning, so head over there and read a much less rambly version of our night out. Plus she'll probably have shoe pictures. :) And maybe she'll explain how she shut down The Flirting Guy at B&N with her patented Homeschooled Anti-Flirting Glare of Death. :)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Summertime...and the blogging is sporadic...

When I want to do some blog reading lately I find myself thwarted by so many bloggers who are too busy doing fun summery stuff to write blog posts. "Why don't these people blog?!!"

Ahem. Well, as I was saying.

•Last week my brother and 3 of his kids visited us from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday afternoon.

•Jim was here to seal Mom and Dad's driveway, something they've been wanting to get done for quite a while. I think all parties concerned decided that Tom wasn't going to seal it because he and I are on record as not liking the look of sealed driveways.

•We don't like our cement concrete patio and sidewalk to be brilliantly clean, either. The effect of years of red clay and fungus and whatever else stains concrete makes the surface blend into the natural surroundings instead of standing out and screaming "I am a PATIO!"

•That's our story, and we're sticking to it.

•Tom grew up with a gravel driveway and a very old patio. I don't remember all the driveways and patios of the houses I lived in growing up.

•When I was 8 we lived on State Street in Springfield, Illinois. Down the street from us lived an older man with a big two-car garage attached to his house. His driveway was sloped, creamy, smooth, polished concrete.

•I read a book sometime (I say that a lot, just don't ask me what book or when) in which a male character made a great point of emphasizing the difference between cement and concrete. Since then I have sincerely tried to use the right term.

•But in my heart of hearts that beige stuff patios and sidewalks and driveways are made of is "cement"

•I was 8, Jim was 6, David was 5. We had a pack of markers and were playing with them outside.

•I don't remember our driveway at that house, but it probably wasn't anything special. Certainly not something you could write and draw all over with markers.

•Unlike the one at the old man's house down the street.

•I don't know if we waited till we knew he was away from home, or if he was inside watching us out a window...perhaps admiring our masterpiece?

•I also don't remember feeling guilty about it AT ALL. At least not till Mom found out...and we probably just out-and-out told her about it. What mother thinks she needs to warn her kids not to write on someone else's driveway?

•I do remember her marching us back up there with buckets of cleaning solution and scrub brushes and making us scrub that driveway until it came clean. At least, I guess it came clean. I don't remember any further repercussions. Jim??

•Natalie, when she was 3 or 4 years old, drew all over the bottom of her bare feet with markers and then walked all over the living room carpet, leaving a rainbow of colorful little footprints.

•This was in a rental apartment with very nice newish carpet. Pale beige nice newish carpet.

•Fortunately the markers were the very new innovative washable kind, and fortunately they lived up to the manufacturer's claims.

•Colin does not have unrestricted, unsupervised access to markers. Apparently an old dog like me does occasionally learn a new trick.