On November 30, 1962, this lovely woman married a tall Air Force airman and began a journey that would take them across two continents, a small island in the South Pacific, and six states.
Three children, five grandchildren and one great-grandson later they are still going strong. They're trying retirement on for size and starting to plan where they want to go next. They've inspired many people with their devotion to God, family and country; with their pioneering spirit that has led them to do things like build their own house (and I do mean literally - other than foundation and roof) on 20 acres of land in what used to be the middle of nowhere, and fly planes across the country and the world (she was the first woman to solo a plane at the Aero Club in Guam).
They taught their children, by example, what exactly a work ethic is by working hard every single day, and taught them how to always take the high road, no matter what someone else is doing. They taught them that honesty really IS the best policy by being scrupulously honest in every single thing.
So, Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. I wish I had a picture of Dad to post here, as well, but all I could find was one from his Zorba the Greek days. I love you both very much.
And Mom - you are as beautiful now as you were in this photograph...
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I love being ridiculous. Especially with my kids, and especially when I do something outrageous and silly that they really aren't expecting. Let's face it - in general, moms are the serious order-keeping parents and dads are the silly ones. That's how it was when I was growing up, and that's pretty much how my family is now. I keep the peace, Dr. SmartyPants comes in and wreaks the havoc.
Every now and then, though - like my mother before me - I feel the urge do something absolutely ridiculous, and it never fails to delight my sons, especially if I can incorporate bodily functions or rude noises. (My mother never incorporated bodily functions or rude noises - I inherited that gift from my father.) My mom liked April Fool's jokes and got us every year with some prank or another.
My silliness tends towards making up songs about underwear or farts. To a certain aged boy - that's hysterical...especially if you MOM sings about it. I have no doubt that my boys will be singing the words I added to the classic one-hit wonder song "Mickey" which originally goes something like:
Oh, Mickey, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, Hey Mickey...Hey Mickey.
My version was close...
O D, You're so smart, you're so smart you make me...well, you get the idea.
They sang it to my MIL who refused to believe that I had anything to do with it. I had a version for J, too - but the word rhymed with cute.
Hey - you've gotta laugh, right? I mean, there's only so much joy you can get from getting all the laundry done in one day. I'm going to go break out my guitar and try to remember the words to the song I made up while we were camping...simply titled, "Underwear."
Listen for it on a radio station near you....
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I have a dog named Oscar who is perhaps the best dog EVER.
Unlike Chico, he doesn't snitch my chocolate or growl at my children. He's funny and quirky and way too smart. I swear he speaks English, or at least understands it, and I mean in the way that I understand English, not in a "sit, stay, roll over" way.
We adopted Oscar from the local humane society when he was just about 6 or 8 weeks old. He was so small, he could sit in my cupped hands. The folks at the adoption center told us he was a Boston Terrier/Jack Russell Terrier mix, and would probably grow to be about 15-20 pounds.
Right. He weighs about 50 right now, and that's not just because of his middle-aged paunch. I don't know what he is, but I wish I did, because I would have 5 more just like him, and breed them and sell them as the best dog EVER.
He's about 7 1/2 years old, now, just 6 months younger than my oldest son. His face is flecked with gray and his eyes are starting to dim a little, but he's still pretty frisky. We call him the bionic dog because he had to have surgeries on both of his rear legs to correct a congenital problem with his kneecaps and he recently had one of the toes on his front foot removed. Please don't ask me how much all of that cost, because I'll lie.
And I would pay it all over again if we could keep him forever.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Don't you just love to try new things? I do. I don't always succeed (I tried knitting - I really wanted to knit - just couldn't do it.) but I love to try. Sometimes I have to try things more than once to decide I can actually do it. I recently started playing guitar. I've tried on more than one occasion to play, but never could get my fingers to cooperate. But, over the summer I decided to try again, and lo and behold, something clicked and now I'm playing. I'm still playing basic stuff, but I've actually played complete songs. In public.
I don't understand people who don't want to at least try. My older son, D, is one of those people. He's usually content to just watch on the sidelines as others try new things. He's a great student of trying new things - it's the application of trying that he tends to skip. Until this fall, that is. He's played baseball for about three years, now - and has done pretty well - he's a great hitter. But this year he went up a league and they have the kids catching behind home plate. Totally new. The coach asked the kids who wanted to catch and D volunteered immediately.
I didn't know all this was going on until I saw him walk out onto the field with all the gear on. I couldn't believe it. I was so proud of him - he walked awkwardly and looked like it was hard to see out of the mask, but he didn't give up. The coach threw a ball at him that hit him in the facemask (on purpose) and he didn't even flinch. I was so proud. He TRIED! And he succeeded. He ended up being a pretty good little catcher.
I think the key to trying is to throw the fear of failure out the window. We need to redefine what it means to succeed. In order to succeed, one has to actually try, therefore success lies in trying, not in doing something perfectly. Perfection is boring, anyway.
So - go try something new. Pick one thing you've always wanted to do and just try it. It doesn't have to be big, and it doesn't have to matter a hill of beans in the long run.
Just try it.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Just in case you thought I forgot how to draw...
On Thanksgiving afternoon - post-turkey, I sketched this sailfish that hangs on the wall at my in-law's house. The whole family was gathered in the den watching "Miracle on 34th Street" and talking, and I sat and drew the fish. My MIL snagged this fish on a trip to Mexico many years ago. It's probably as big as she is, and I know it took her a very long time to reel in.
Now it hangs on a wall in Alabama, in a room filled with mementos of trips - other fish, two rams that my husband and his brother hunted when they were young. I sketched some of those, too - but this was my favorite. Maybe I'll show the others another day. There used to be two boars that were mounted over the entry to the den, but one of our dogs would freak out every time it walked in the room and run back and forth between the dining room and the den, trying to find the back end to the boar. They had to take them down.
They watch over us as we play and laugh and talk and share. The boys ask over and over again where they came from and who got it and how old their daddy was when it happened.
This one is my favorite. I had no idea sailfish had polka dots. What fun.
Even more fun - I have to share this little journaling moment by my youngest son, J. I carry a Moleskine cahier journal in my purse for the boys to sketch in or whatever - especially for during church when they get a little antsy. This is J's entry for the day. (you may remember the same sentiment here. He's on a roll.) By the way - you have to read phonetically. He's just 6, you no.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I find myself, sometimes, gazing so intensely at a problem that I can't see the solution. It's kind of like trying to find a faint constellation in the night sky - I look right where it is supposed to be and I can't see it, even though I know it is RIGHT there.
The key to constellation gazing is, of course, staring a little to the left or right of the actual location and letting your peripheral vision take over - suddenly the faintest of stars are clear and bright. It's the same thing with the problems and decisions we have to deal with every day. The harder we look at the problem, the harder it is to see the solution, even when you KNOW it is right there.
I've faced that recently in my own life. I had a decision to make and the answer was right in front of me and I couldn't for the life of me find it. I stared as intensely as D is in this picture, and it wasn't until I took my eyes off of it that the answer was clear. Part of the problem is usually that we are looking so closely at ourselves that we can't see what's going on around us, and that was the issue I was having. In making the "problem" all about me, I had lost sight of the solution and what was important.
It's another perspective thing, I guess. Maybe I should go back and edit the post where I claimed to have that perspective thing down pat. Apparently, I don't.
Now, if I could just find a way to apply this to chocolate - for some reason, my vision of chocolate becomes clearer the more I stare at it. And then it speaks to me. And then...
...well...I have to eat the problem...
Friday, November 23, 2007
Yesterday we at at my in-law's house - turkey, dressing, squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, rolls, roulage, buckeyes, brownies...
I gained 10 pounds.
Today we'll go to my parents' house and do it all over again. Mom had originally said she wasn't doing anything big, but I talked to her last night and she said she was just going to make turkey and ham and dressing, green rice, etc., etc., etc.
The good news is that I won't have to eat again until Christmas.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
It's Thankgiving Day, and I thought that would be a good time to reflect on all the things I'm thankful for. They won't be in any particular order - just as I think of them. Could be a long list...
a clear mind
my fabulous husband
art supplies and the ability to use them
camping gear and the time to use it
being able to hear
servers who actually remember your order without writing it down
the blogosphere ( I love you guys...)
Oh, how I could go on - but the coffee just finished perking...
Okay - now I think I'm done for a while. If something strikes me during the day I'll try to find time to write it down and share it. No really - I know it's Thanksgiving Day, but anything for you...
;-) Have a great Thanksgiving all you Americanos - everyone else - have a great day of thankfulness. Even in the midst of our crazy, flawed world, there are plenty of things to spark a little gratitude.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
...the chocolate-stealing perrito...
Funny story for ya - This is Chico. Chico was my mom's dog, but she was really busy working her last couple of years before she retired and Chico was a bit neglected and she asked me if we would take him - knowing that I'm a sucker for a cute little furry anything. So, we did. He was a bit of a pill when we first got him (thanks, Mom) but he's really mellowed out and is not so snappy as he was when he was younger. Could be because he's too fat to lunge at you anymore - I don't know...
Anyhow, one time, when Dr. SmartyPants was off at a SmartyPants conference I had gotten the boys to bed early and went off to find my purse, in which was contained a beautiful, king-sized Hershey's chocolate bar. Now - you know the one I'm talking about - twice as thick as a normal Hershey bar - rich and delicious? Yeah - that's the one. I found my purse, sitting on the floor in the dining room and opened it up...No. Hershey. Bar...
Anyone who knows me realizes that this was a major shock to my system - I'd spent all day thinking about that chocolate bar and how I was going to savor each individual chunk as it melted on my tongue. So - I started hunting, thinking that maybe I had taken it out of my purse earlier in the day and just forgotten about it. I couldn't find it anywhere. BUT - I noticed little Senor Chico cowering in the corner of my bed - little brown nose sticking out from under the bedskirt.
I lifted the bedskirt and lo and behold - under there was the contraband. Well, the evidence, anyway. The entire chocolate bar had been consumed by an 8 pound dog. He even ate some of the wrapper.
My first thought was, "I'm going to kill him." My second thought was, "I won't have to. He's eaten enough chocolate to kill himself." You know - chocolate isn't good for dogs. I watched and waited for him to go into chocko-shock, but it didn't even phase him. Not a bit.
Except for the guilt.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I woke up this morning, having had REALLY strange dreams last night where I was juggling about 6 different doctor apointments for myself, all within about a 3 hour time period, and getting more and more frantic as the deadline approached.
The night before I dreamed about snakes. I kept finding them in the house of a friend - they were hiding in the plants and slithering across the floor. I found one entire aquarium, covered by brown paper. It was on wheels and when I rolled it out and pulled off the paper, there was a large constrictor and a king cobra inside. The top was loose, so I decided to try and fix it. The cobra stuck his head out of the top and bit me on the hand. That's when I woke up.
What does all this have to do with the photo and title? NOTHING. I just felt like I needed to share - get it off my chest - release it into the ether. Thanks for listening.
Anyhow - back to victory! I love how kids celebrate a win. They go all out - yelling and shouting, whooping and hollering - arms raised up high in the air and faces full of absolute joy. I should point out that the celebration in the picture is in response to an imaginary victory - "Tony Stewart" up there in his #20 Home Depot car...umm...Big Wheel...just defeated a whole host of other "cars" including his arch-nemesis, "Jeff Gordon", also known as big brother D.
How often do we grown-ups do this? How often do we take such great delight in a completely insignificant thing that just made us feel good today? Not often enough, I'd say - at least in my case. Woo HOOO - I cleaned up my studio and now I can see the floor and actually work at the desk and reach my sewing machine where maybe I'll finally finish the cute glove doggie thing I'm making for my niece and the blue jean quilt I started 6 years ago!! *happy dance, happy dance* OH MY GOSH - there's a quarter-full bag of Kisses there on the corner of my desk - I can eat some chocolate later! *joy joy joy joy*.
There are 10 days left in this month. Let's all see how many completely wonderful, insignificant and beautiful victories we can find. If you need to do your victory dance in private, we'll understand...
Monday, November 19, 2007
There are so many textures to life. Some are rugged- weather and time-beaten, others are polished - made smooth by water or wind. It's the material that determines the outcome of weathering, not the weathering itself. Softer materials, like the barn wood in the picture, tend to show all the imperfections inherent in it over time, while hard materials, like river pebbles or sandstone outcroppings are polished smooth by water and wind. Their imperfections tend to be hidden over time.
People are kind of the same way, don't you think? I look at people like my grandparents who are resilient and strong, even well into their late 80s. They've been through The Depression, and World War II. They've lost parents and brothers and sisters, cousins and friends and a grandson. Their children have had their moments, too. They've lived and prospered and wept and celebrated. Their faces show their age to a degree, but their spirits have been polished by time. Their imperfections, at least to an admiring granddaughter, are smoothed away. They have seen so much loss and change and I've never once heard them complain about it or show any bitterness toward anyone or anything.
Others, much younger and made of much less hardy stock are so different. I won't call out names, but they've seen losses, too. They've been betrayed by friends and lost loved ones, but instead of being polished by those experiences, the experiences have gouged out great furrows in them. They may look young and impressive on the outside, but their souls are pitted and hollow. Their bitterness spills out onto everyone they come into contact with.
Is it just a generational thing? I don't think so - I've met people my grandparent's age that are just as bitter and resentful as some of the younger people I know, and I've met a few younger people who have been polished by life's wind and water and come out shiny and smooth. I'm not exactly sure what the right set of circumstances are that produce the different textures, but I do know this...
I want to be polished, not pitted. And I want my children to be polished, too. I want to be 90 years old and have my grandchildren look at me and see nothing but beauty inside my wrinkled exterior.
I'd rather be a river pebble than a barn board.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I need a recharge. Do you ever get that way? I've got a lot going on, as I'm sure everyone does this time of year, but I'm not enjoying it so much. It all seems a little shallow and hollow and pointless. That sounds harsh. I'm enjoying some things - some that I really never thought I would enjoy or even do, but the day-to-day stuff is a little empty.
It could be the change in gears here - I've really enjoyed this blogging every day thing. I'm finding it less difficult than I thought it would be to write an entry every day and I like sharing my photography, BUT...part of the general blandness to my days may just be the lack of drawing and painting. THAT has become so much a part of me, so maybe not doing it is causing me to slip into a little bit of a funk.
I don't know. Maybe I should quit thinking so much and go draw something - splash some paint around. My studio is all clean and pretty.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
It's Saturday, and I'm cleaning out my "studio." I call it a studio because it sounds nicer than "the extra bedroom where I throw all the crap I find on the dining room table until I can figure out a better place to put it or just chuck it out the window. Oh, and my easel is in there." Good Lord.
I'm like a bulemic when it comes to housekeeping. I keep every little scrap of paper and half-crayons and the entire sheet of stickers that has one lone sticker left sitting in the corner. Then, usually without warning, I wake up one day and purge all that out of the space. Why I can't just do it on a daily basis really astounds and baffles me. No - I wait until the worktable is piled so high with paper and glue and broken toys that the boys bring me to fix that I make one wrong move and the whole thing comes tumbling down on me.
I love to look at those home organization magazines with the perfectly organized home office/classroom/craft area/art studio/surgical theater and wonder why I can't create that. Then I flip to the back and the "resources" section and realize it would cost me $50,000 to install all the custom cabinetry. Ahhh...
This photo has absolutely nothing to do with all that. Sorry. But it does kind of remind me of wheat or hops or something and I sure could use a frosty cold...no. I need to keep organizing.
Friday, November 16, 2007
I've had this feeling lately of wandering around like a shadow through life. Do you know what I mean? I go through the motions and do all the things I'm supposed to, even the things I WANT to do, but I'm not sure it's making an impact on me or anyone else. What difference does it make to paint or draw or photograph or write about anything, anyway? It's not like I'm curing brain cancer. Hmm. Where's that perspective I was writing about yesterday?
Here's the thing. I've met a couple of the goals I set at the start of 2007. Here they are, as a reminder...
1. Hang some artwork in a gallery or art space, other than my own home...or the home of my mother.
2. Continue to draw from life, concentrating on the figure.
3. Further refine my "voice". Take stock in the things that inspire me, to which I find myself drawn, and combine them in a way that is distinctly me.
4. Write a coherent and succinct artist statement.
I've been juried into two shows and hung another painting in a member show. I've taken a life drawing class and really made progress rendering the human form in proportion. I wrote a coherent ans succinct artist statement, although I'm not so sure it actually describes my work.
Oh - I've just had an epiphany...it's number 3 on my list - that's the source of my shadowy feelings. The voice thing. Here's what I've noticed about my artwork over the last year. In some ways, I've been coherent - the Contemplation series has been good for that, but I started that over a year ago, and only finished one actually in this calendar year. For me, everything else has been all over the map, and I still haven't found something that moves me enough to delve into it. When I look at the paintings I've completed this year (far fewer than I intended, given how many blank canvases I have piled up in my studio) I realize that so many of them seem forced and stiff. They are colorful and bold, but they are starting to seem garish and a bit ridiculous to me, too.
It's funny. I don't feel that way about the portraits and figures I've drawn this year - the majority of those make me very happy and satisfied with the work. So does the apple I did back in April using the "flemish technique." Maybe the source of my artistic angst is really an impatience with the process of painting, and the realization that those paintings that I walk away from happy and satisfied require the most work from me, both creatively and technically.
I think it's time to begin the goals list for 2008 with a mind toward growth and development rather than just output. Maybe then I'll find my voice and my shadow will step back to where it belongs.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Have you ever known anyone that had perspective problems? Maybe you are one of those people with perpective problems, I don't know. Sometimes I am. But - you know the people I mean - the ones who worry and fret and obsess about what's going to happen in five minutes like it's the biggest thing in the world, when if they would just get a little perspective, they'd see that it was all going to work out okay. They just needed to look at it from a different angle.
I've been blessed throughout my life with the ability to see past the current situation and gain a little perspective on the trials and tribulations of life (at least most of the time). Some might say it's not really a blessing, because it does make me a little unsympathetic to daily crises. My little sister would often come to me wailing about some boy or another, or some situation or another, and I would always advise her to stick it out -don't worry - what will it matter in 5 years? I don't think she appreciated my advice. Sorry K.
Isn't it funny how two siblings can each have such different view of life? My kids are like that. My oldest son is an in the moment worrier kind of guy. He reacts to situations as if the world were ending and he completely falls apart when bad things happen. My youngest son has a more relaxed attitude about things, generally. Let me give you an example...about a year ago, one of our goldfish died. D fell apart as if it were his favorite uncle that always brought him chewing gum or something...I mean wailing, rending of garments, gnashing of teeth. Over a fish. J watched this drama for a few minutes and said (very compassionately, of course) "It's just a fish. We'll get another one. DANG." Okay - I added the DANG - but he felt it. I could tell.
Do you remember the scene from the movie Parenthood, when Steve Martin is watching his kid's school play and his youngest runs up on stage and starts wreaking havoc on the props? Through the whole movie, Steve Martin had been a worrier (which he passed along to his own son). He couldn't stand the chaos and uncertainty of life. I just love it, though when you can see the light go on his his mind, while watching his wife and grandmother laugh and enjoy the chaos, that this is all a roller coaster ride and we can either embrace the ups and downs as part of it, or spend our lives on the ground looking up at everyone else enjoying it. He begins to embrace the chaos and it turns his whole world around. He suddenly gained a new perspective.
Carpe Chaos, people...
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
My husband and I are going Christmas shopping this evening. I'm really not sure what to get the boys. They have so many toys - an entire closet full, really - what else do they need? Especially when they create such wonderful games from their imagination. Maybe I should get them more pillows, or an actual hurdle to jump over.
They set this up the other night, about an hour before bedtime. Then, they spent the next hour running and flinging themselves over the obstacle. Seriously - an hour. By the end of it, D had sweat running down the sides of his bright red face and he and little bro were cackling with laughter. Why don't they throw this much energy into cleaning their room? I guess it's not as much fun.
I love watching them do this - come up with an idea, make it happen and then throw themselves into the enjoyment of it. Sure, they knocked over pillows and tripped and stumbled, but an hour later they had perfected their Olympic style leaps and they went to bed satisfied with what they had accomplished.
Sometimes, I wonder who is learning and who is teaching here...
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The boys and I played around with the bulb function on my camera last night. It was fun and funny and silly and caused mucho howling laughter from the under 8 crowd. In this picture, J held down the shutter button while I drew a head with the LED flashlight that is usually attached to my keychain. D was in charge of turning the lights out once we were ready to go.
For more fun and games with the bulb setting - click on the Flickr banner in the sidebar...we made lightshows and ghost images - if you have kids, you should try it! If you don't, or yours all grown up and gone away - you should try it anyway!!
Monday, November 12, 2007
Have you ever wanted to be someone completely different than who you are? I have. I've wanted to be an astronaut, an adventurer, an actor on Broadway, a photographer for National Geographic.
I've wanted to be a veterinarian, a paratrooper and a novelist.
As a matter of fact, there are very few things that at some point in my life I didn't want to be. I changed my major a solid dozen times in the first two years of college, then I got a couple of degrees that I don't even use, except when there's an interesting program on Discovery and I need to explain some concepts to my kids.
Say it with me, "Lith-o-sphere...Lithosphere. Good job." If you are familiar with the term, you have either studied geology or you watch a great deal of educational television...
Okay - moving on...I have a point here somewhere. I think. Ah, yes - here it is. (I think it's the sinus meds that are making me so lalalala...) I believe, that regardless of your age or circumstances, you should be what you've always dreamed of being. Even if it is only for a day, or a week, or a month, or a year. Look into it! Always wanted to draw? DRAW! Always wanted to write a novel? WRITE! Always wanted to be a zebra? Well - you get the point. Life is too short to decide that trying is futile.
So, maybe you'll never be an astronaut, but I hear Space Camp is fun. I'll probably never be featured in National Geographic, but I will still take photographs of animals and nature just in case. Don't get me wrong - I love who I am - wife, mother, artist, friend - and I hope you love who you are, too...
...but dreaming and reaching are very good things...
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Don't you just love kids? No. This is not one of my boys. But hear me out. The boys and I were at the zoo the other day. We go fairly often - it's close by, we have an annual membership - it's safe and the boys can run and learn at the same time. Great fun, I tell ya.
So anyway - we had stopped at one of the snack stations to get drinks. The guys had gotten their drinks and wandered over to the side of the hut, and as I was paying, D yelled out "MOM!! Come here and see this!!" Now, understand that we are at the zoo - cool animals everywhere...white tigers and red pandas and lion cubs and elephants. I headed over to where he was standing and he points out this very large spiderweb glistening in the late morning sun.
We stopped and stared at it awhile, as if it were one of the enclosures the zoo had planned. Look at the intricate weaving - the way the strands are almost perfectly separated, the radial arms symmetrically arranged around the center. And it that center, perfectly still, the hunter waits.
Now, maybe you don't like spiders, but this is really beautiful. All located around the side of your favorite snack hut in the middle of a bustling zoo.
It gets my spider-senses tingling...
Friday, November 09, 2007
About 3 weeks ago I had an appointment with an orthodontist. He took molds of my teeth to make a plaster model; he took pictures with my lips all stretched back, etc. Not exactly a self-esteem building experience.
Yesterday I went back for the consultation, where I got to look, up close and personal, at my crooked teeth. Man. Okay - here's the deal. I'm 39 years old. I've had these crooked teeth most of my life. I never had the luxury of orthodonture as a child - my family wasn't poor, exactly, we just didn't have alot of extras. I also have very poor vision, so new glasses and contacts were the priority, not a little misalignment of the front teeth.
Mind you - they aren't grossly crooked. Other people have told me that they never noticed they were crooked at all. I notice, though. And not long ago, my oldest son, D, said "Hey, mom. You should get braces like Ashlyn's mom." So my kids notice. My husband says I'm beautiful no matter what my teeth look like, but that if I want them, get them. And he really means it.
But, they've always bothered me. Not on a huge level, but they bother me more than my bloggy bottom or the various patches of cellulite on way too many parts of my body, so I think I'll get them fixed. I think. I find that having wanted to do this for so many years, I am really struggling with commitment. It will take 2 years, a bunch of money and a bit of pain and discomfort, all for the sake of a pretty smile.
A pretty smile...
I love to smile.
You'll just have to call me metal-mouth, I guess.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Were you ever a pen pal when you were a kid? Do you remember the excitement of getting a card or a letter in the mail? My grandmother used to write me little notes or send cards and I would literally jump up and down with excitement when my mom told me I had one. It didn't matter what was inside, although that was special too...it was the event that was exciting. Someone cared enough to write my name on the outside of an envelope and stick a stamp on it and mail it off to me. And if it happened to be a box instead of an envelope...whoa...over the moon, I'll tell ya.
My kids are like that now. I love when the mail truck drops off a package from their Nanny and Pop-pop. They squeal at the door - "It's for us!!!! Mom...what is it...can we open it...nowmomnowholycowwhatisitwhoisitfrom?" What is it about the mail that excites us so much?
I still get pumped up about receiving mail. I even get excited when something I've ordered shows up. It's not a surprise. I PAID for it. But that FedEx truck rolls to the curb and the man in blue steps out with a little perfect Amazon.com package just for ME! WooHoo!!! Internet shopping was made for people like me. I don't get nearly this excited when I purchase something in a store and it gets shoved in a bag and I carry it home myself. There is something holy and pure about the package that arrives at your door, lovingly delivered by UPS or DHL or USPS or carrier pigeon. Bubble wrap and cellophane protect it from damage. There's usually a note that tells me how MUCH my order was appreciated and to PLEASE visit again soon.
I've got two orders out there right now.
I think I just heard a truck.
Gotta run. ;)
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
...the more they stay the same, no?
It's funny. At the beginning of the month, I decided I would spend November blogging thoughts on the year and highlighting photography, rather than other types of art, in hopes that it would take away the stress of having to make sure I had a DRAWING to post every day. It's been a nice change, I think (and I hope you think so, too). I'm not abandoning my drawing or painting - just shifting my focus for a month or so. Change is good. I like it.
Of course, in reality, it hasn't lessened my (self-induced, OCD) stress on bit. Now, instead of obsessing over which drawing or painting I'm going to post, I obsess over which photograph to post. I find myself wandering around the neighborhood with my camera at hand just in case I see something amazing that I have to blog about. I spend all this time going through pictures I already have taken, hoping to come across a masterpiece that I forgot about.
Then I worry that my writing won't convey what I really want to get across.
Then I realize I've been sitting in front of my laptop for an hour staring at the screen while drool runs out the side of my mouth and I have no post to show for all my anxiety.
Yes. I am just that sad. But - here's the good part. It's getting better. Doing it every day means that I get just a little bit LESS obsessive about every post. It means I am willing to accept that this is a darn good photograph and people might enjoy it.
And THAT is a very good change.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
My youngest son, J, always sticks his tongue out when he has to focus on something. He runs and jumps and bats like this and I'm always afraid he's going to bite it clean off someday.
Onto the musing...have any of the rest of you noticed how incredibly difficult it is to concentrate on anything? Just this week alone, I have to make sure that we all make it to 3 dentist appointments, an eye doctor visit, basketball tryouts, a field trip, Awanas, classroom mom time and a mission conference for church. That doesn't include posting on this blog every day, fixing breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, doing laundry, dishes, and scrubbing toilets, two days of homeschool, art lessons, supervising chores, doing more laundry and a whole other list of things I do that make my brain too tired to think of right now.
Thank God I don't have a job.
It's a wonder I ever get time to paint or draw with the kind of schedule we keep around here. But somehow I do. People ask me all the time how I have the time to do it? Well. I don't know. I come from a long line of busy people, I guess. I do it because to not do it would be akin to just not having the time to breathe today. I doodle on my lesson plans because they are sitting right in front of me. I carry a sketchbook with me everywhere I go because I know I'm going to have to wait for someone at some point. I rarely watch television, except for the morning news and a race or two on the weekends.
Sometimes I skip vacuuming.
And showering. But not so often as I skip vacuuming and dusting.
The reality is this: our house may not be in immaculate condition, but we're together and we're learning and we're loving each other and we make time for what is really important to us. We concentrate on family and education and God and sports because those are the things that are most important to us. I concentrate on art and photography and literature and building 20 feet tall steel sculptures because that is important to me.
The 20 feet tall steel sculpture hasn't happened yet, but I'm working on it. If could hold my tongue just so...
Monday, November 05, 2007
It's a question that we've often been asked, generally right after the "asker" has just asked the boys where they go to school, and then paused uncomfortably as if we were going to start speaking in tongues or something. I try to explain our school situation, which is unusual, as it is a combination of home and traditional schooling, where the boys attend a private school three half-days a week, and we homeschool the other two.
It's funny how this seems to relax them, as if it says perhaps we aren't so crazy after all. The next thing out of their mouths is usually something like this. "Oh, well - I just don't have the patience for something like that - I don't know what I would do if I couldn't get away from my kids for those hours." Yikes. I always want to ask them who taught their children to use the toilet, because that's a heck of a lot more patience-testing than anything we do. And, while I enjoy a nice break away from the kiddoes on occasion, I also really enjoy being with them. Maybe that makes me some kind of mommy-freak...I don't know.
In any case, our reasons are plentiful. We love the flexibility it gives us. No one asks for a doctor's excuse if the boys miss school. We just make up the work at home and it's like the absence never happend. If we want to have a long weekend, we can get our work done on Thursday and take Friday off - no problem. I know exactly how the boys are progressing - not just based on a progress report or report card, but because they have to read to me and do their math fact sheets right there where I can see them This actually helped us head off some difficulties with our oldest, who was having difficulty reading. He was in a classroom of 10 students, rather than one of 25+ and between his teacher and me, we realized quickly there was a problem and worked very quickly to get him back on track.
Another reason we homeschool is that we feel we are ultimately responsible for the information that goes into those malleable little minds. I don't want our county deciding when it is time for my children to learn about sex. I don't want my government telling my kids that it is okay to have sex as long as you use protection. See this article, if you haven't heard about THAT already...
I don't want my school board to tell my kid it is not okay to say a little prayer of gratitude when it's time to eat. Sure, someday they'll have to face those things and they'll have to figure out how to deal with them. I just want to make sure they have good information BEFORE it comes up, rather than after things have gone nuts.
The biggest reason, really, is this: I love watching them learn. I love hanging out with them and taking "field trips" with them and watching them experience life, rather than sitting in a classroom all day. I love it when I've just explained a concept to them and I can see the light go on in their beautiful little brains and they GET it. And then they talk about it the rest of the day, and want to call Daddy at work to tell him about it, too. I love that they love to learn because it's never boring and tedious (or usually not boring and tedious). I love that they are understanding that gaining knowledge is not only necessary but really, really fun.
Just sign me...
Sunday, November 04, 2007
On our last camping trip, we got up early one morning and walked down to the pier on the lake to go fishing. As we stepped out onto the pier, we saw this little deer swimming across the lake. Now, the lake is not very big - only a little more than 3 miles around it's perimeter, but this deer apparently did not have the time to go all the way around. She just went right through the middle of it.
I can't imagine that it was easier. It was cold, there were boats and more likelihood of meeting up with people - something a white tail deer in the autumn isn't really into, you know. But for whatever reason, she decided it would be worth her time to take the harder, but more direct, short cut.
So - it really got me thinking (as you've no doubt figured out). How many times do I walk all the way around an obstacle, because I know that I can get around safely, rather than just diving right in and getting wet? How many times do I look at a situation and decide that it's just going to get too uncomfortable if I go THAT way, even though my goal is right on the other side. How much time have I spent circumnavigating the lake so that my new shoes don't get wet?
Sometimes you just have to jump in all the way up to your eyebrows and wade through the mess in order to get over your fear of actually reaching the goal.
Hmmm. Or, maybe I just saw a pretty deer swimming on a cold October morning...
Saturday, November 03, 2007
- I get to be special without even trying, simply by being different from the rest, and
- I've always liked boys. Not just in the sense that girls like boys, but in the sense that boys are cool. They are loud and over-the-top and funny and they have awesome toys. I always had boy friends, until they got girlfriends and then their girlfriends didn't want their boyfriends to have girl friends. sigh.
Friday, November 02, 2007
My youngest son pulled me over to this leaf stain the other day. He thought it was so amazing and we stopped and examined it for a while and talked about why it was there. I had walked right by it a dozen or so times that day, taking photos of the kids playing, of the beautiful things framed by a deep blue autumn sky. I certainly wasn't thinking about looking down at the concrete driveway for beauty.
But he was. Of course, it helps that he's only 4 feet tall, but that's not the only reason. Children have a natural fascination with the world around them. They wonder and contemplate and meditate in ways that most adults have lost. We zip by this and that to get to the other and then complain once we are there that the time is going by too quickly. I'm very guilty of that. This year has flown by. Has time somehow sped up? Has the rotation of the earth increased just enough to take away a minute or two of each day?
No. But I've sped up. I walk quickly by nature. I walk more quickly by design. I do laundry instead of drawing with my kids. I take photos of the sky and forget to look at the ground. I forget that some moments are fleeting and I should take a moment to drink them in.
The leaf stain was gone the next day, but I have a photo of it, now. The wisdom and wonder of a six year old pulled me to it.
Thank you, J.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
One month of daily posts. OKay. Now - I'll just warn you all that I'm a great starter...finishing is often a problem, however. Like that time I started a daily yoga practice. I lasted about 2 days. Or the daily walking routine. 2 days. At least this involves sitting on my bloggy bottom instead of moving it.
30 days - 30 posts. How hard can it be?