Monday, March 29, 2010

Puzzling and Puzzling

This is my mother-in-law, Clementina, from North Carolina. She is amazing. At 85 her body is slowing down but her mind is "as sharp as a tack." She is witty and clever and kind and patient and understanding and REAL. Her optimism, sense of humor, and genuine love of life makes her a joy to be around.

And . . . she does crossword puzzles. Every day. In pen!

Aging well and gracefully has been on my mind in recent years. Being 40-something will do that, I suppose. A few months ago I decided to emulate Clem's daily ritual in hopes of somehow fending off the dreaded brain paralysis that often accompanies old age.

My local paper offers two different crossword puzzles nestled in with the comics. Of course, I DO NOT choose the New York Times one. Start simple and gain confidence, I say.

It has been frustrating and difficult at times, but also pretty fun.

My vocabulary of three and four-letter words has grown significantly. I am now able to define epee, olio, lea, and efts, for example.

My sweet mother-in-law regularly defeats my feeble attempts to complete the puzzles without "cheating" (i.e. searching the web for answers.) "Cheating" is the only way I will increase my vocabulary though, right?

Hopefully all this "across and down" reasoning is stimulating the development of new synapses and neuro pathways in my brain that USED to be able to integrate calculus equations and do regression analysis.

What will I be like 40 years from now when I am 85? If I can be just a wee bit like Clementina from North Carolina, I will be content.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sad Day

This afternoon Kellie and Abby took little Lyra into the veterinarian to get vaccinated. On the way back out to the car Lyra suddenly squirmed and jumped out of Abby's arms and raced frantically away. (Yes, we should have used a cat carrier, but we had never had problems before.) Lyra was shaking and scared at the vet and, I assume, escaped as soon as it was possible.

We spent nearly four hours searching the surrounding area, which included an RV storage lot, a power substation, fields, and two homes--all along a very busy and noisy road.

After Rachel's concert tonight we searched again in the dark calling and calling her name. Does she even know her name is now Lyra after only three months? I was hoping she would just recognize my voice--the voice that serves up her food.

Lyra is a true indoor cat and refuses to go outside. She much prefers to stay inside and to be in whichever room we are in. Because of her we truly understand the origins of the phrase "scaredy cat."

We are all so very sad and teary-eyed. Brian just left at 11:30 pm to try to continue the search. He is hoping the road will have less traffic and in the quiet of the night, she will reappear. We suspect she either is hiding near the animal hospital too afraid to come out or she has just run and run and run--too scared to stop. Luckily when we adopted her from the shelter they inserted a microchip in the nape of her neck. IF she is lucky enough to be taken to a shelter they will let us know.

It is amazing how much she has become a part of our family in only a few months. I know she is "only a cat". What if she were a child? I can not imagine. CAN NOT IMAGINE how that would be.

We feel terrible. We were responsible for her. We loved her. We let her down.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Blossoms

I started crocheting these flowers for hair a few months ago. They were just the thing I needed to keep my hands and mind busy while I waited for soccer or basketball games to start. Kids needed to be early to warm-up. I needed entertainment. I found the tutorial for these online and added my own touches to the center.

A good friend thinks I should try selling them. Would anyone actually buy them? Would the trend end before I could get a business going?

Maybe I will just hand them out to the girls in my neighborhood. *Smile*

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Name Change

I changed my name today--my blog name. It appears that my previous name was linked with some adult internet sites whenever a search for such crudeness was sought. Naming a blog is harder than naming a baby!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Love is in the air.

My oldest daughter, Rachel, is engaged! He (David) is her PERFECT match.


I must really, actually, truly be middle age--soon to be a mother-in-law and all.

How did this happen?

I am a bit dazed.

But. . .

more importantly, I feel happy and peaceful.

Let the party planning begin!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Great Grandma's Jewels

Here I am being crafty again. I found this idea while wandering through a local boutique. Turn vintage jewelry (in this case Great Grandma's clip-on earrings) into trendy bobby pins.

These are the retro versions. As you can see they have not all been transformed--still waiting for the craft store to restock the bobby pins.

It makes me happy Abby can barely wait for the glue to dry before she tries them out.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Red Pepper Trendsetter

For the past little while my younger kids have insisted on taking a "home lunch" to school. Abby loves having raw veggies in her lunch packed along side a small container of salad dressing or hummus. Sometimes the dressing is homemade, sometimes purchased. Travis refuses to take anything "uncool". He IS in 8th grade after all. Abby has no qualms, however, with eating what SHE wants rather than worrying what her friends think. That attitude has not gone without some taunting and teasing as she has pulled cucumber sticks, radishes, and red peppers strips out of her lunch bag. She has endured this for many months now.

Last week justice was served. When Abby walked in the front door after school she satisfactorily declared that Annie, Edith, and Penelope (names have been changed to protect the innocent) ALL brought red pepper strips to school that day--complete with dipping sauce. The very girls who gave her grief actually adopted her style.

I love my 5th grade lunchroom trendsetter!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Buttons and Books

One of my responsibilities at church is to hold Activity Day twice a month for the 10 and 11-year old girls in my neighborhood. Recently we made these EASY bookmarks. I found the original idea in Family Fun. Each girl also shared a brief review of one or two of her favorite books.

All that was involved was ribbon, tacky glue, and buttons.

I really liked how they turned out and the girls had a great time creating.

After they left I couldn't resist crafting a few myself.

The six girls that came were eager to share their favorite books. Here is what they recommend:
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
  • The Light at Tern Rock by Julia L. Sauer
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
  • The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse
  • Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  • Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy
  • Halloween Pie by Michael O. Tunnell
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Pocket Daring Book for Girls: Things to Do by Andrea J. Buchanan
  • Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
  • Tear Soup by Pat Schweibert
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Savvy by Ingrid Law
Quite an impressive list. These girls are awesome!

Monday, March 8, 2010


Years ago a wise friend told me that every mom should get a lunch break whether she works out of the home or in the home. At that time I was an overwhelmed mother of young children and her words some how gave me permission to TRY to capture an hour or so every day for myself. It was a time to regroup and gear up for the afternoon. When my kids were very young the napping hour was obvious (if I could get them in sync.) As they grew older, nap time became "quiet time".

It was then I would escape to my room while the kids either napped, watched a video/DVD, or read. Usually I was exhausted and as soon as things quieted down, I was snoozing. There were days when "quiet time" failed miserably. Nevertheless, my catnapping days had begun.

There is a trick to an effective catnap (or power nap). They should last no longer than 20 minutes. The years have trained my body to automatically wake up after 10-20 minutes--any more than that and I am a mess for hours.

At 40-something I no longer have children at home during the napping hour. Yet, my occasional catnap is pure bliss. It makes me happy. It calms me. I am a better mom when my kids walk through the door at 3:13 pm.

Catnaps--gotta love 'em.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Kellie is 20!

Happy Birthday Kellie!

Twenty years ago today Kellie was born at 1:38 pm in Berkeley, CA. She was my only baby born au naturale.

(Kellie at 1 month)

Kellie brings calm.
(Kellie age 2)

Kellie makes me laugh.
Kellie age 3

Kellie is patience.
(Kellie's first soccer season, age 5)

Kellie is brilliant.
(Halloween, age 7, Who would have thought she would REALLY pursue chemistry?)

Kellie is pure joy.
(Kellie, now, second from left, with her two sisters and I)

I love you, Kellie. No words can express the joy I have had of being your mom. It has been a privilege.


Monday, March 1, 2010


It is March 1 and look what I found in my yard! I KNOW it was not there yesterday. Could Spring really be just around the corner?