Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy birthday to Meg, happy birthday to Meg




Today is Meg's second birthday! We've been talking about it and she's very clear, if you ask, that today she is "Two!" We're having Nana's neighbor girls over for a little Noah's Ark party.

I hung rainbow streamers, Jonathan blew up balloons (making lawyer jokes the whole time), and Nana worked ridiculously hard to make animal sugar cookies.

Happy birthday, darling!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Words

I've been reading British books so long, it confuses me when American books refer to "jumpers." I always have to stop and try to figure out what kind of clothing they're talking about.

In other news, the word "starve" didn't use to mean dying of hunger; it was just a general word for dying. We watched A Knight's Tale with Heath Ledger the other day and obviously then had to read the real Chaucer's "Knight's Tale," and in it the characters were always "sterving" for love. They spent a lot of time "cryinge" too. The extra e adds something. However, I find myself unable to sympathize with people who duel to the death for love without ever talking to the lady in question. They fail.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wildwood and Gazebo

I read two disappointing books this weekend. The first was Wildwood by Colin Meloy, and I'd heard really good things about it. Briefly, it's set in contemporary Portland and a girl has adventures in the woods just over the river while saving her kidnapped baby brother. Meanwhile, her friend Curtis has overlapping adventures and comes of age. Kind of. Actually he just runs away and joins the bandit king.

Anyway, Wildwood has the Rumplestiltskin story at its heart. Prue's parents desperately want children, so they go to the witch and promise her their second child. Prue was first, and ten years later comes Mac. Fully two thirds of the book could have been saved if Prue had told her parents that young Mac had been abducted by crows and then they would have given her that back history. Instead, Prue hides the fact he's missing for a whole night (!) and the next morning sneaks out early and searches in the forbidden woods, and the witch makes trouble. Not to go into excessive detail, by the end Prue has an army of utopian farmers and mystics, and Curtis has an army of bandits, and then the eagles swoop in Hobbit-like at the last minute. The witch and her coyote army are killed and the baby is saved from the carnivorous ivy. Prue and her brother go home, but Curtis decides to stay with the bandits forever.

My take:
When you make a deal with a devil or witch, you cannot simply change your mind. It rings false. Prue could have offered herself in her brother's place, or done something else clever, but these promises must be kept somehow or another. Anything less is cheating the story.

Your parents still know better than you, even if they made really lousy decisions in the past. No good ever, ever comes from hiding the fact you lost your little brother and then twice running away to the forbidden woods to search. If you must disobey flagrantly, you need to know that will come back and bite you somehow. Anything less is also cheating the story.

Also, you can't just ditch your parents at age eleven and decide to live as a bandit in the wildwood. It's especially impolite not to send them a note what happened to you.

The second disappointing book was Patricia Wentworth's The Gazebo. Miss Silver moved evidence, and when the terrified woman came in reasonable fear of being killed by her husband Miss Silver sent her home again! Worse yet, nobody noticed there was a problem with that. With either of those. Miss Silver is the paragon of propriety and keen investigating, and for her to be guilty of such lapses is truly disappointing. I may never be the same.

Moo, baa, la la la

Some animals are better to have around than others. Cows, sheep, horses, tigers, monkeys, cats, dogs, and birds - those are all cool, because they have an assigned noise to make. Having real live cows across the street is wonderful. Cows are cows, and dogs are dogs, and we all know where we stand. The only trouble with this scenario is that now Mommy has the urge to baa, for instance, whenever sheep are mentioned, including in church.

Bears are a little tricky, because sometimes they say "grr" and sometimes they snore. Mice are hard, because they are quiet but they also say eek and squeak, but Meg has a hard time saying eek and squeak.

And then there are the camels and rhinoceroses and buffaloes, that don't exactly say anything. Sometimes they usurp other animals' noises, like "moo," but it's just not right. We have some, but they are not trustworthy characters.

Update: Just now I came across this video of - what else?- baby rhinoceroses squeak/honking at each other. Now we know.

Meg

Meg, not quite age two, is starting to grasp manners. For a while she would refuse food with a vigorous "No way!" (from Click Clack Moo), but these days she mostly uses "No thank you." I'm so proud. She also uses please ("peese") and you're welcome, and can count to ten more or less reliably. Thank you, Elmo and board books.

She's also alarmingly competent. She's at the stage where she can lock doors, but not quite open them again. We keep a bent hanger around for extricating her/ourselves. So we laughed really hard at the adventures of Elaina, Destroyer of Worlds (age three).

Meg's learned that when she's in trouble, a good choice is to say, "Obey!"

I think my favorite thing is to listen to Meg talk to herself. She'll say, "Elmo and duckies? Noooo. Duckies, quack quack. No Elmo duckies." And if, perchance, a parent should say yes to watching Elmo and the duckies again, it's pretty much perfect delight.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Meg quote

Saying the words very carefully: "More bah-beh...cue? More bah-beh...cue?" Meg

Decorating

<--- Bonus photo of my sister's cat Irony


It doesn't look like we're going over-the-top for Christmas this year. I got the tree up and decorated, put lights and garland over one cabinet, and cleaned off a desktop to hold wrapping supplies. Then I called it good enough. And then we put away the rest of our Christmas decorations. Is that allowed? I mean, isn't there a law that says you have to decorate with everything you've got?

No?

Oh good.

I'd like to take credit for this feat of moderation, but actually I ran out of steam. It's head-cold central around here, and most days we're doing well to fix dinner. Conveniently, Christmas grace doesn't follow the degree I decorate for it (as in, okay, you get ten seconds of patience for every twinkle light you set up, and handmade centerpieces are worth extra). It's good to remember that God sent his Son for people who didn't decorate at all for the first Christmas.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

She's good

One of Meg's amusing habits is how she says "Yes." Not "yeah," or "yeth," but a firm, clear "yes." She particularly likes to use it when a host offers, say, ice cream at Bible study and Mommy mistakenly thinks Meg would prefer only apple pie. (True story.) She's also always coming out with new phrases she just learned. Or, there was tonight, in which she used both.

Jonathan: "Also, I think she got chocolate in my hair."
Meg smiled sweetly. "Yes. I'm good."

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Only ten-fifteen or so

You remember that rough week we had, so I made cookies? Yeah... for those of you who haven't heard yet, the news was that Jonathan was losing his job. And it's now over. And he had one lead, which led to an interview, which went well but has confirmed that that job would not start soon enough or pay well enough (though it would be cool under other circumstances). That was pretty disappointing.

So here were are, having talked to everybody we can think of, done the internet searches, and sent out the resumes. Virginia is overpopulated with lawyers and we've got nuthin'. God quite clearly sent us to Leesburg, so we can only assume He had a good reason and hasn't forgotten about us. He specializes in eleventh-hour rescues, and right now it's only... oh... ten-fifteen. So please pray for us. :-) And obviously, if you know someone good who needs an assistant, shoot us a line!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Beef-and-barley soup

Normally this would be Hobbit Soup (made FOR hobbits, not of, thank you very much), but I got distracted and forgot the mushrooms. Fungus or not, though, this was the perfect soup for a chilly winter day. It's hearty enough for Jonathan, and the crock pot is my favorite for fixing dinner whenever I have time... like 10:30 am. :-) I may have posted this recipe before, but it's still good. Enjoy!

1/2 lb bulk sausage
1 lb hamburger
slosh of Marsala or pretty much any other wine or beer handy
4 carrots
3 onions
mushrooms (if you remember)
2 beef bouillion cubes
generous amounts of thyme, salt, pepper
water
1 cup or so barley pearls

Brown the meat. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and throw them into the crock pot on low. After browning, deglaze the pot with the wine and a little water, and throw that and the meat into the crock pot too. Add salt, pepper, bouillion cubes, and thyme, stir, and add water to cover everything. Set to low. Then put the barley pearls into about 2 cups of water to soak. Stir the soaked barley into the pot about an hour before serving.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Shoulders

I finally figured out why some of my sweaters feel too small. The shoulders are too narrow! The sleeves hit the bodice about an inch in from the corner, which makes my shoulders appear about the same width as my waist. No wonder I never wanted to wear them.

I don't know that there's anything to fix that, short of maybe insetting lace at the shoulders? That sounds like a lot of work and kind of weird. Recommendations?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving and Christmas

We had a lovely Thanksgiving! My sweet sister invited us all over to her place, so we went and spent the weekend. Her cooking was magnificent. We even ventured out shopping to a small neighbor town for Black Friday and hit the antique mall and a little clothes store with some deep clearance.

It was supposed to be a 10 1/2 hour drive... Google doesn't know what it's talking about. It was more like 13 1/2. But the advantage to Very Slow and Mountainous West Virginia roads is that there's no traffic on them. (Nobody else wants to go 25 mph down cliffs in winter either.) Meg did really well on the drive, too, and we had dramatic snow, fog, rain, etc, which I did not get pictures of. But I could have. Jonathan wants to tell all my blog readers, if you ever get the urge to drive Highway 50 through WV, don't.

We got some disappointing news last week. Jonathan's boss broke the news that they don't have enough business to keep him on staff any more, and as of the end of this week he's going to be unemployed. He's been making contacts and sending out applications, but if anyone knows a firm around here who wants a new lawyer, by all means let us know. He is licensed for Virginia and good to go. The main thing you can do for us, really, is pray. I'm not nearly as worried as I could be because God keeps sending us jobs in the nick of time. He's taken care of us for the past three years, and He's hardly likely to abandon us now.

Today I rearranged the furniture to make room for the tree and got out our Christmas decorations. That would be exciting, but I'm still kind of disjointed. I wanted to get out the Christmas music when it snowed a month ago, but I was strong and didn't. Only now it's still warm outside and I can't quite make the transition mentally from fall oranges to Christmasy reds, either in the decor or my clothes. BUT. The tree is snugly set up in a corner by the couch, and it's lit and ornamented. So there.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm not a very good target audience

Since we don't have landlines, we avoid most of the telemarketers and survey-takers, but this evening one of them found me. At first I thought it was just a conservative focus group out of Colorado, but then they started asking very specific question about my alma mater. Um, don't hate me, but I think James Dobson is still more influential than our college chancellor, and I've never heard of that other guy at all. (Is this a popularity contest?) If I gave them money, it would be because I know them and they're close to my heart. ...What do you mean, that's not specific enough? Yes, a Biblical worldview is very important to me. (At this point Meg started screaming in the background.) What do you care what I think their mission statement is?? Is this a quiz? I can't remember exactly. I can make up something close.

We also discussed my politics, not very helpfully. Oddly, the only three political people they brought up were Santorum, Bachmann, and Huckabee. Why them? Towards the end, there were a series of soundbites along the lines of "Liberal activists are pushing through judgments that would enforce international law on Americans. [That College] students are being trained to spot inaccurate legal arguments and fight for constitutional protections. Does this make you more or less likely to donate to that college?"

I'm not a fan of the whole "world is going to end if we don't get our people in power" fundraising method and I don't like being a target donor group. In any case, they ought to ask me as an alumna, and not as a random conservative - they should at least do that much homework. Also, I know more about my college than that woman does, so why would her soundbites make a difference?

Most importantly... why do surveys always ask the wrong questions?

Jonathan: "I'm afraid being trained in Christian classical education makes you a very bad target audience."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What goes around

Jonathan picked up a pile of old design textbooks a while back and I was deeply entertained by this one. It's copyright 1944, and the author has definite opinions. She starts out delineating, in great detail, each stylistic era from about 1650 - 1900, all of which look alike. But then she gets to Victorian style. I have to quote.

"Victoria's interest in art was negligible and the style which bears her name, as ruling Queen, does her no honor in its conglomeration of decorative gingerbread. Intermingled are Greek, Egyptian, Turkish, French, and Venetian ideas used indiscriminately.

"Houses were as folderol outside as they were within. The height of the Victorian Period is now considered the low-ebb of good taste in decoration. It makes you dizzy with its merry-go-round of unrelated ideas, grotesque furniture, heavy colors, mantels, pianos swooning with silk scarves, millinery windows and stuffed parrots!

"A full vote of disfavor, however, is unfair, for there are many of the plainer settees, chairs, tables, and chests... which are not overly ornate and do have definite charm. ...If you own some Victorian pieces and will carefully combine them with a modern treatment of 'unstuffed' rooms and windows, the effect is, paradoxically, naive, sophisticated and charming." Decorating for You by Florence B. Terhune, page 50.

You can't really blame Florence. Well, you can. But her entire book is about how you should pick an era and stick to it, and on top of it she's writing from born-again modernist taste, so I suppose it's natural she'd detest cheerful Victorian eclecticism. I think it's funny how we've gone back to it. Mexican textiles on a curvy Louis the Whatever chair? Cool! Interiors inspired by Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra? Fun. Chinese paper lanterns in a hot pink room? Good for you!

Abby and I were just talking about how we're part of the generation that mixes pattern and color perfectly happily. Yep.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cookies and deeps

We had a rough week, so I made cookies. There's a big casserole pan on our counter now, full of cowboy cookies with chocolate chips, raisins, dates, and pecans. That helps.

In other news, at dinner Meg asked me for grapes. (She calls them "deeps.")

I said, "What do you say?"

She said, "I want to EAT!"

Lols.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The clock pot


Do you see the little white ring on the crock pot lid? That's where the old, broken handle used to be. Until it broke. So at the party, Mom caught me using tongs to get the crock pot lid off, and it would fall into the chili, and it was all very slipshod and awkward. So in proper Mom fashion, she said, "Why don't you get a drawer pull for that?"

Brilliant. When we were down in Richmond to get Jonathan licensed, we ran by Hobby Lobby and perused their drawer pulls. I saw this clock face one and couldn't resist. The red is perfect with the stoneware base. But more importantly...

Now it's a clock pot!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Meg gets crafty

Meg started crocheting today. She hopped up on the couch by my half-done sweater and started earnestly poking it with the hook. When Jonathan asked if she was crocheting like Mommy, she agreed yes, she was. She didn't even unravel any of my stitches.

I'm also kind of amused with how the sweater is turning out. I dreamed up the idea in church a couple weeks ago and it's actually working. It is, however, a lot like wearing an afghan, a big purple afghan.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Birthday and Christmas all rolled into one

No, seriously. My parents came to visit and they brought my last birthday present and a load of early Christmas presents so they wouldn't have to ship them. We also had a party full of old friends, went and saw Jonathan get officially licensed before the Virginia Supreme Court (congratulations, esquire!), dressed Meg up as a mouse even though we didn't have a single trick-or-treater, fixed my crock pot, and visited the ribbon outlet in Hagerstown and bought disgraceful amounts of ribbon. It's definitely been a successful visit.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Eureka's back! And I am happy!

Season 4 part 1 of Eureka was a disappointment. I wanted to like it, but after a strong time-travel opening, they muffed it. The plots were not particularly scientific and the characters mostly lost their minds and became, I don't know, cardboard sitcom people. With annoying robots, love triangles, and ridiculous conspiracies to do... something. The first couple episodes of season 4 part two were not significantly better. "Liftoff" was kind of funny because Zane and Fargo accidentally went into space (whoops), and "Reprise" was when Holly accidentally made everyone act on their music-playlist-inspired impulses. The only real plot element there was when Archnemesis Beverley injected bio-spies into Allison's brain. At that point, Hulu held all remaining episodes until they'd completely finished airing on SyFy, so Jonathan and I kind of forgot about them and almost decided not to watch the rest because they weren't any fun anymore. Also, we randomly watched "Clash of the Titans" out of order and it didn't do it any good. Then we missed Glimpse because it came down before we got to it.

But now the rest of them are up, and to my surprise, they're good again! They have an overarching plot arc; each episode has a plot; the characters are themselves and do fun things with funny lines; and the writers even seem to have watched previous episodes and know the characters' history. Astonishing, I know.

So in the last  few days, we've watched "Up in the Air" (Jack investigates a bank robbery... as in, the bank is missing), "Omega Girls" (Zoe and Jo have to stop squabbling over Zane long enough to rescue the town from Beverley, again), "Of Mites and Men" (somehow haven't watched this one yet), "Clash of the Titans" (Vizzini tries to tell Jack and Allison to break up, and meanwhile Jo is in crazy wedding planner mode), "This One Time at Space Camp" (Vizzini gets zapped with Jack's memories and decides Jack and Allison can stay together after all) and "One Small Step" (in which Deputy Andy accidentally goes to Titan). That also leaves "One Giant Leap" for tomorrow night.

Plot has happened. Relationships actually progress. It's so nice to have Eureka back.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

WWAT?

Do you ever wonder what an archaeologist digging up your stuff would make of you? I was thinking that tonight. I wonder if an archaeologist would notice I arranged my dishes by color order within type. I worked really hard on it. They certainly won't know the stories behind our things, that Jonathan's friend painted that and we bought those on our honeymoon. And what if I got an intern archaeologist for my shoes, who took the lazy way out and only took plaster casts of my feet from one pair and thus didn't notice that my shoes are actually two sizes, pre-Meggie and post-Meggie? How dare he miss something like that??

About at that point in my mental processes, I decided that hopefully there won't be an archaeologist for this apartment, because I mean to move out before I die. Or get, I don't know, covered by a volcano. Which is of course a form of dying.

It's probably just as well my legacy is with God. He even notices stray hairs. I apparently can't trust academia to do the thing right.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Knock, knock

This evening Jonathan was hammering to hang a shelf in the bedroom, and Meg was watching him. "Knock, knock!" she said.

"That's right!" I agreed. We watched him work some more.

Jonathan set down the hammer, and Meg picked it up. She swung it at the wall just like Daddy and actually connected. "Knock, knock!" she said, very pleased, before Mommy confiscated it.  Knock knock, indeed.

Centerpiece

The bouquet is a bunch of grocery store sage, and the rose was made out of fallen leaves arranged and taped together. I would have made more roses, but it rained before I collected the leaves. But one is just about right for this arrangement.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Oh no! Not the aspidistra!

I'm vaguely considering improving my aim. Usually I can chuck something across the room and get it more or less in the trash can, but that's twice now in two days I've royally missed (with an audience). Yesterday it was an apple core, which should have gone in the scraps bowl but actually hit the floorboards, and just now a taco wrapper, which landed in Nellie the schefflera. To which Jonathan said in a voice of doom: "You've blasphemed the aspidistra."

Dun-dun-DUN!

Speaking of phasers...

This one is wonderful.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The emerald tunic

My sister has the best hand-me-downs. She's got a great eye for clothes and I just love it when she cleans out her closet, because she shares. She dropped by yesterday en route to a wedding, and had a whole bag of happiness for me. There were tunic-dresses in black and emerald green, and a brown patterned shirt and a brown embellished skirt, and a rainbow flowered flowy top. I've been really, really wanting something emerald - a couch, or a dress, or possibly a hat - so the tunic made me ridiculously happy. 

So today I was all excited about the emerald tunic. I wore it over gray tights and a white button-up, but mysteriously, before the end of Bible study I had a brown spot on the sleeve and my feet were cold. This happens. So I came home and swapped the flats and button-up for socks, boots and a gray stripy t-shirt.

Then I noticed I looked exactly like I was setting out to hunt Emperor Zurg. While that's kind of why I like tights and tunics, I prefer not to admit it. Hmm... and I wasn't on the way to Comic Con or anything. I explained to Jonathan the outfit wasn't quite right because I don't have a phaser. I wonder if Zurg is vulnerable to rubber bands?

Quote of the day

Meg discovered the fairy wings and matching tutu. We had much cuteness this evening.  Until...

Me: "No wings in time out, either!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Getting rid of stuff

Right now, it's kind of trendy to get rid of stuff and live minimally and be horrified by hoarders. And I know. You can't keep everything, especially if you're moving a lot between small apartments. But I really hate it when I get rid of something and then I want it again later. For instance: I used to have a shirt like this and a skirt in black and white similar to this, and I loved them. I would like to wear them this fall. WHY did I get rid of them? When will I stop trying to be practical??

Apparently, the trick is to figure out what you're going to want again. Tell me if anybody figures this out.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Our new furry friend

We went to the big semi-annual children's clothing sale, and picked up a few good things. We also came home with a rather large Elmo. Meg has a new best friend. He looks rather apprehensive about it, doesn't he?

But he's a good Elmo. And will be a better one after a bath, which is coming as soon as I switch out this load of laundry.
A bath? Oh no!

 Meg psyched herself out this morning. As soon as I got her out of the crib, she grabbed her blanket, lay down on the floor with it, and said, "Nap." Then she started to cry.

Update: When Meg heard Elmo needed a bath, she quite sensibly put him in the bathtub and waited for me to run water. :-) Personally, I thought he should go in the washing machine. But I looked into it and came to the conclusion that was probably not a good idea. He has internal stiffeners; his polyurethane foam filling is possibly not washable at all; and also he's just big, and wouldn't fit in any of my pillowcases and certainly would take a long time to dry. Instead I went after him in two stages, the first with brushes and a lint roller, and then with a washcloth and oxy-clean solution. Elmo is now resting comfortably.  

Friday, September 30, 2011

Artsy mamas work on projects

I was going crazy. All my craft supplies are still in a pile of boxes in the hall because I can't find shelves I like*, and I hadn't really made anything since I had to give Elizabeth's sewing machine back before we moved.

But now. I have two projects in the works: a cardboard box playhouse in Meg's room, to which she adds more color daily, and another big one hogging the dining table. No details yet... but I'm thinking Scottish thoughts. No, not Macbeth, the other kind of Scottish thoughts.

Stay tuned. :-)



*Because they've got to be TALL and the $30 Target/Ikea ones are seriously uninspiring, and I can't bring myself to spend $150. Yet.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A girl after my own heart

Meg: ::something incomprehensible::
Me: I'm sorry, sweetie, what was that?
Meg: London.
Me: London?
Meg: Yeah.
Me: We need to go to London?
Meg: Yeah.
Me: I agree. We'll tell Daddy when he gets home.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Or, you could get a real job

I have to actively remind myself sometimes that my job, taking care of a little family, is honorable and adequate work. It's just so much snazzier to be a suit in DC.


Brian Brown calls it "Saving the World, Professionalized." He's got a fascinating little article on how Emma was a professional charity-giver, but Mr. Knightley, in the course of being a farmer, had a much better handle on what people really needed. Brown notes the cool factor in working (salaried) for nonprofit agencies and thinks we shouldn't all turn up our noses at working for money.

All well and good. I flipped to the next post in my reader, one from a missionary engineer I know in South Sudan. She quotes a book she's reading:

"Post-conflict situations need squads of bricklayers, plumbers, welders, and so forth, who set about training young men. Unfortunately, it is too mundane for the development agencies to organize it. We need Bricklayers Without Borders."

Perfect timing! I'm sensing a wavelength here. I should go do something useful. Like go to bed, so I can clean house in the morning.

On the subject of families, and not at all about unglamorous work, this was so real. I laughed and laughed.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I've got the beige carpet blues

"If I can cross [her] any way, I bless myself every way." - beige carpet, to me

Beige carpet has to be the most incomprehensible design standard out there, right in front of unwashable matte paint. What perverse zeitgeist decided that very light brown was appropriate for all rentals? Don't people have lives? I just spent the first part of the afternoon scrubbing grungy bits, sat down for a break, and knocked my Dr. Pepper over. So then I scrubbed it up.

I saw this one coming a mile off. We can't have meals in the kitchen because there's no room for a table or high chair, so I bought big area rugs for the dining room and living room and runners for the main traffic areas. Doesn't matter. There are still cracks between the throw rugs. (The beige carpet cackled when it saw this.)

I can only assume that some people are sufficiently coordinated to never spill brown drinks. I take off my hat to them. But I am reminded of a story Jonathan shared out of Sun Tzu. You don't want your general to be the most physically awesome person of all time, because then he can't identify with normal soldiers who, you know, get tired after marching all day. In the same way, the builders really ought to remember that some of us need more washable floors than a dreaded beige carpet.

Now that I think of it, beige carpet apparently doesn't even like itself, judging by how anxious it seems to become any color but beige.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

100 years of style

There's something about zipping-through-history videos that sucks me right in. This is a nifty one - 100 years of fashion (and dancing!). Well worth a watch or three. Catch what the guy does for WWII.

100 Years/Style/East London

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Fall clothes shopping

Switching out unseasonal clothes is one of my favorite activities. It's like Christmas. It's a perfect excuse to put away in bins the ones I'm tired of, give away the ones that are beyond hope, and get out a fresh wardrobe... and try things on, of course. Switching out by season is also a good way to deal with limited closet and dresser space, which have always been pretty limited to me. And, of course, it gives me an idea what I'm lacking.


Fall also makes me want to "school" clothes shop. This year, happily, we all three of us need clothes, so Meg and I hit the outlet mall yesterday. We had some success and got ideas to go back for more. I'm making mental lists of what everybody needs. In Meg's case, of course, it's pretty much everything, but I still think standard pricing is excessive. ($20 for a toddler shirt? Seriously?) I want a pair of brown cowboy boots, but I'm holding out for either awesome clearance or the most fabulous reasonable-full-price pair ever of all time. My beloved $5 clearance boots finally wore out under me.

I started craving dark colors, of all things, about the time we moved into this house. Conveniently, that was not long before Labor Day when I would have put most summer stuff away anyway, so I just got started early. My in-laws kindly stored a lot of our things while we were in transition. I did get my bin of fall clothes, which is great, but my cold-weather jammies are still up there. If that's the worst mix-up from this move I'm doing well.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Greetings from scenic Leesburg

Let's see. Last time I posted, it was Thursday and we were starting the house-hunt from scratch. So that's what we did Thursday and Friday, talking to a realtor, talking to friends, doing internet searches for all we were worth. It didn't look like anything could happen till Monday at the earliest.

On Saturday, a friend shot me an email and mentioned that some mutual friends were moving to California and urgently looking to rent their little condo in Leesburg. We called them up, it sounded good, and we accepted it sight unseen! I did later find photos online. The next day, Sunday, we drove down to look it over and sign a lease.

Sunday noon we stopped for lunch at Moe's and just happened to run into one of my old professors, having lunch with church people. We chatted and I asked her where she attended, and I filed it away mentally before dashing over to the place. It did look good and we took it then and there. There was much rejoicing. Also, I bought towels so we could make it till our stuff arrived.

We went back to New Jersey for the night and came back the next morning with our various supplies, and moved in for real. We camped out Monday night, and Tuesday the pod people delivered our stuff. We were, miraculously, able to scare up eight friends on short notice who not only unloaded the entire thing that night, but assembled the bed and crib and several bookshelves while they were at it, and then some of them came back Wednesday morning and helped unpack further. It was pretty amazing.

Meanwhile, Jonathan had started work on Tuesday, and his first day involved going to an old three-story court building in Alexandria. Does anyone remember what happened Tuesday, August 23rd? The EARTHQUAKE! So yes, Jonathan started work and the very earth shook. I love it.


We spent the rest of the week settling in and buying stuff for the house. Lights were a high priority, as the bedrooms didn't have any light fixtures at all and things got dark at night. Another major priority were rugs for the living and dining area. The house has beige carpet, and I detest scrubbing carpet stains, so big rugs were the obvious choice. We have also acquired four ottomans (Jonathan calls them the empire) and a microwave. Woo!

Hurricane Irene came that weekend. We had intended to run down to Richmond and straighten out the post office sending-us-mail situation on Saturday, but what with people fleeing the storm and all, we stuck around Northern Virginia and hit the Wegman's annual green chile roast instead. The hurricane was pretty much a non-event for us. It rained Saturday afternoon and night, and that was about it.

Sunday we tracked down the church we'd heard about. We met several old friends who now go there and their new babies we hadn't met. Then we went out to lunch with Joey and his family, who don't even attend that church but were visiting town for the hurricane. We went to Moe's again, which seemed appropriate.

Then on Monday Meg and I did go down to Richmond. About half the West End was still out of power, but happily the post office was able to process our change of address with hard-copy forms and we aren't going to have to make another trip. We also visited friends while we were down there, who were themselves fleeing an electricity-less and air-conditioning-less house at a friend's place. So we all hung out at the other friend's. They had really amazing toys there and a dog named Hercules.

The rest of the week we spent settling in. On Thursday we finally got INTERNET! ::cue four-part harmony::: Friday Meg and I had time to go to the pet store to watch the fish and the cats, and then to library storytime afterward. In between we keep having playdates, friends to dinner, movie nights with friends, First Fridays in old town with free ice cream samples, and today a church picnic. So we're pretty much living it up. God has been so good these last two weeks.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Destination unknown

We moved out. The last cleaning supplies were tucked into the car, the vacuum stood by the dumpsters because there was no room in the car and the pod had already left. We'll get a new one for the new place.

"Does it bother you we're taking everything out of the house?" I asked Meg.
"Yeah," she said, and trotted over to the car, climbed into her seat, and snapped herself in.

We had hoped - expected - to have heard back from the new apartment by Monday, saying "It's yours! Come and move in!" ("We've fixed the lock and painted it for you" would have been nice, but I would have been plenty happy to have a lease.) That night we went up to stay with Tom and Sarah and their boys. Noon the next day rolled around, and we heard the lock was fixed, but agent still hadn't heard yea or nay from the landlord. So we drove up to visit Jonathan's family in New Jersey. And here we are mid-afternoon Thursday. I cried today.

Jonathan's got a good job lined up and can start as soon as we find a place. That's really a bigger miracle than a mere apartment. I've been feeling for a while like the verse for us is the same one Father Tim used in Out to Canaan - Abraham went out by faith to an inheritance he didn't know, because God is faithful. Richmond was good, and it's good to go, but we still don't know where exactly where.

Amusingly enough, the book I've got in the diaper bag right now is Agatha Christie's Destination Unknown. It couldn't be more appropriate if I'd tried!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another article on Harry Potter

I liked this article on Harry Potter. It's rare, at this point, to find an article discussing themes I'd never thought of before (articles I don't think are wrong, that is), and I like his points. Harry Potter does find his identity in loyalty and choices, not in a commencement-speech-style following his dreams at others' expense. The author doesn't mention it, but that's what Voldemort did; and Dumbledore did that, before Ariana's death, back when he and Grindelwald wanted to rule the wizarding world. Dumbledore grieved over that his whole life.

"Be careful what you wish for, because your passion might be to become the Dark Lord of humanity. And your vocation might be to avoid becoming that!" Jonathan

Also, I like this quote from the article: "...as with Tolkien's stubbornly not allegorical Middle Earth."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Happy birthday, Mom!


We celebrated last night with a gorgeous cake and presents.

Nefret celebrated this morning by bringing Mom a mostly-dead bird, and was astonished to be imprisoned inside. It was a good bird.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Deathly Hallows part 2

On a subject of possibly more general interest than Eureka (can it be so???), we went to see the last Harry Potter movie yesterday. It was good.

Seven part one was just a hard half a book, a hard movie. Harry and Ron and Hermione were flailing around, trying to finish the task from Dumbledore, but not really getting anywhere. Harry's wand breaks. They're always cold and hungry, and Voldemort controls England. The plot advances painfully.

Seven part two is when things start happening. It's what the entire series has been working up to. It's still dark, but there are redemptive things, sacrificial things, good solid rousing battles after Pansy Parkinson wants to just hand Harry over to the dark lord and and three Houses' worth of students close in around Harry to protect him. I almost don't even know what to say. It's not as detailed as the books, of course, and entire subplots are elided, but the changes were good and the movie was good. I did cry in parts. I also clapped when Molly Weasley took out Bella, and the theater clapped with me. Ha!

Only in Los Alamos


This sign is one of the reasons I love Los Alamos. We stopped at a (closed) trailhead off State Road 4 to take pictures. Unexploded ordnance in area- if you find anything like these [see picture], do not touch.

And as long as we're talking about Los Alamos... EUREKA HAS RETURNED! It's been a year. Since we were traveling and whatnot, I didn't get to watch the newest episode until last night, but it was pretty entertaining.

I will say, seasons 4 and now 4.5 aren't really equal to the first three seasons, but I was able to squelch my urge for greatness and be happy with it.

These next two paragraph are one big spoiler, so watch out. For those of you who haven't been keeping up, Carter and the gang are still in that alternate timeline, for reasons I can't remember. This week in "Liftoff", Fargo and Zane managed to accidentally launch themselves into outer space in an antique equipped with an untested speed-of-light drive and no sublight engines. Sheesh. Fargo kept his head and did not crash into the International Space Station by means of some clever leaking of oxygen. But he didn't get away scot-free, either. "Now that I've scraped the ISS, they'll never let me be an astronaut." The DC funding committee also hauled him up for questioning afterward. Oops. Alternate Zane is really kind of worthless. He not only stole a major component to their earthside landing gear, which Henry had to patch back together, but spent the first half of his unintended space trip throwing up. However, he pulled himself together and helped get them down fine. Of course.

We also learn that Allison wanted to go to space camp as a girl. Jo solved the power outage by acquiring horses for everyone to ride and then hooking up the landing gear to Deputy Andy. Carter had a clever moment by calling Fargo's cell phone in outer space via a rotary phone and NASA satellite. Meanwhile, SARAH the house jilted Deputy Andy at the... threshold?, but they had a DTR and decided to be friends anyway. Carter and Allison need to get married like yesterday. Henry and Grace are getting to be a pretty good team. And Zane has just about figured out that he used to love Jo, though he's wondering whether it was an erased memory rather than in an alternate timeline. He may turn into a decent human yet. Jo was trying to pump Fargo about what he and Zane talked about up there in space (meaning, did they talk about Jo?) when Fargo got arrested, so I think next week Jo may have to actually talk to Zane. That would be progress indeed.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Observation from the TV plots I review

Observation: the Sarah Palin-haters obviously don't think she's really violent, or they wouldn't bait her like they do. (A conservative politician who hunts bears and then murders her son's rape victim? Real subtle, guys.)

Seeing as George W. Bush has been out of the public eye for nearly a full presidential term, I suppose they feel the need for a new whipping, er, person. ::rolls eyes:: Gotta love modern tolerance.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Nutella!

Today I introduced Margaret to the joys of Nutella.

It was a beautiful thing. :-)

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Night at the movies

Friday night we celebrated our anniversary by watching Cars 2 at the drive-in theater! So fun. They did a super-cute job putting it together, with lots of little touches and even vintage movie trailers, and we are definitely going again. The place is out in the woods and I could see stars.

Cars 2 was also all right. Not one of Pixar's best efforts, but it was worth watching once. I liked the spy half of the movie, but the friendship-with-Mater plot kind of clunked. Anyway, we always have a steak and go watch the new Pixar movie for our anniversary; we saw Wall-E the day after the wedding, followed by Up and Toy Story 3, so we couldn't say no.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Sigh

June (and July 1-2) was a really tiring month. Nothing really bad happened, and in fact a lot of it was good/worthwhile/necessary. I'm feeling a little defensive about it, but whether or not we "had a lot going on" compared to other people, it's just about done me in. Therefore, since it's my life, I'm discouraged. I don't actually think God is going to desert us, after bringing us this far. But I'm done with this life stage and would like to get on with something more fun.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Proof that the law is taking over his soul

Jonathan to Meg,

"Is today Tortfeasance Against Your Progenitor Day? Did I miss the memo??"

Friday, June 24, 2011

Let's fly away

Our pink-and-chocolate diaper bag has gone missing. I can't figure out where it went, but first there was something nasty in it, and then I can only imagine I wasn't paying attention and put it away somewhere. "Nobody gets the best of Millard J. Monkey." "Except for Millard J. Monkey!" "Exactly!" In any case, the missing adorable diaper bag wasn't really suitable for also carrying a computer through airlines. And I was not motivated to try and use my college computer satchel as a makeshift diaper bag - way too deep and narrow.

So, since we have a trip coming up (woohoo!) I had to go purse shopping today. I kind of splurged. This one was $10 more than the runner-up, but it spoke to my soul. The retro birdcage print, and the contrasting flower pattern - oh my. The colors just yell NEW MEXICO! I went upstairs and built an outfit with a turquoise necklace around it, which is how you can tell I'm excited.

It's
got
BIRDS
on
it!


Isn't it funny how a bag can make you so happy?

Good advice, and Star Wars meets VBS

It made me giggle when I came across a post of 10 Things to Do if You Hate Your Kitchen. I would link it if I could remember where I found it, sorry. Normally these involves things like, "Paint every surface that holds still including the floor and ceiling" or, "Tile your backsplash in a chevron pattern with tiny glass mosaic tiles hand-pressed by nuns in Venice." This one started with, "Wash your cabinets. No, really!" I don't hate my kitchen, but I decided the cabinets could do with a wash anyway. So I did. And I was actually surprised by how fresh and new they all looked. I can definitely recommend it.

Then yesterday I was cleaning the bathroom and couldn't. get. the. brush. into. the. corners. That grout just holds the mold in. So nasty. And then, in a stroke of genius, I went at it with an old toothbrush. That's got to be the oldest housekeeping trick in the world, and would you believe it worked?

In other news, VBS starts on Sunday! That's Vacation Bible School, for those of you not up on church-speak. I volunteered to help with the skits, and get to direct. We have rehearsal every night. I'm just about over the moon happy. I missed drama so much. Essentially we're doing an eight-part play cycle on the life of Joseph (set in outer space) written by a church lady, and they're clever and very funny and also full of Star Wars references. I'm also enjoying getting to know some of the older kids and teens - since the Meg is a year and a half old next week, I pretty much know the toddlers and adults. I was so out of it, I didn't even realize one actress was the pastor's daughter. I wonder if that's ever happened to her before?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thor

A theater in Richmond was still playing Thor, so we went and watched it. We had the entire showing to ourselves - woo! It was doubly awesome because we got to give the movie its proper heckling without irritating anyone else. We enjoyed it. It was a fun little summer film, just about right for a 95-degree day, but for the big names associated with it, I was kind of expecting more. Kenneth Branagh can usually direct, and J. Michael Straczynski can usually come up with a story without massive plot holes. Natalie Portman... still can't do a convincing love scene, though these weren't nearly as bad as Star Wars 1 and 2. Ah, well.

The main plot was the redemption of Thor from pride to humility. It mostly worked. As Lars over at Brandywine pointed out, even wanting a hero to be humble instead of proud is straight out of Christianity and not Norse at all, but the movie is all the better for it. His change of heart was kind of sudden. Oddly, they downplayed the redemptive moment by ascribing a lot of his bad manners to a cultural difference - he had really beautiful manners, very courtly and old-fashioned, with just a minor problem of smashing coffee cups to show his appreciation, and it was not consistent with his pride issues. However, we like Thor better at the end than the very beginning, so some progress occurred.

The secondary plot was Loki's descent into evil. Again, it was kind of sudden and didn't make much sense to me. I really liked him better than Thor for the first half, until he started lying and conniving. I'm still not sure what he was really up to. If it was pure trouble-making, then the back-story hindered it.

Then there was Odin. For such a wise king and father, why did he fail so spectacularly with his sons? He never corrected Thor's pride until it was time for a dramatic exile. As for Loki, if Odin adopted him to be a kind of peace child, it would have been good to, you know, work him up to that role. Tell him he was adopted and he loved him anyway and he had an important job in life. Train him. Not tell him he was fit to be king and spring the adoption news on him after he figured it out for himself and Thor was out of the picture and thirty seconds before falling into a coma. Whatever. Odin woke up just in the nick of time and saved the day, remarkably perky for someone who'd been mostly dead all day.


Moments we mocked:

-When Natalie Portman took Thor home and lent him her ex-boyfriend's clothes. He and his long blond hair and manly shirtless chest struggle into a pair tight black jeans. He looked like a rocker. Incidentally, later on he was wearing different jeans. Maybe the boyfriend left two pairs?

- The warrior chica, Sif's, high-heeled combat boots. Well, obviously. If you were going warmongering on an ice planet, you'd need high heels too. Actually, I kind of liked Sif. She was competent in battle and a good friend, had a personality of her own, and she didn't wear a ferret-skull belt. She had a seriously awesome flying stab that nearly took out the droid, but Loki reanimated it anyway. Her outfits were mostly good and she didn't fall in love with anybody.

-Pretty much every attempted dramatic moment, especially the ones with daddy issues. Why are you having daddy issues? You've got a decent, if imperfect, father. And a decent mother. Can we get on with the plot please?

Moments we loved:

-Thor brought home Natalie Portman's coworker, dead drunk. "What happened?" she asks, reasonably concerned. In best Norse fashion: "We drank. We fought. He made his ancestors proud."

- The coworker, still drunk: "I still don't believe you're the god of thunder, but you ought to be."

-The scene where the researchers meet Thor and the ditzy college assistant tased him. "What? He was freaking me out." Hee!

-Natalie Portman accidentally ran over Thor with a truck. Twice. He was fine.

-The scenes on Earth. They were set in a fictional small town in New Mexico, and I recognized that mountain they used in the background shots. It's Santa Fe Baldy, the same view you get from I-40 along there between Santa Rosa and Cline's Corner. So I looked into it, and yes! They filmed in Galisteo, which, sure enough, has about the same view of that mountain, but a little bit closer to it. Sigh. I also loved the little town, and the retro Route 66 buildings, and the gorgeous airy observatory building, and the sleek trailer home. Warm fuzzy.


For the movie, they tried to meld very distinct visual aesthetics, part sleek futuristic superhero and part Lord of the Rings-style knotwork and archaisms, and then laying it alongside the relaxed New Mexican scenes. Sometimes the combination worked pretty well. Odin's armor, I thought, did a very good job being Norse and superhero. Jonathan liked Thor's armor better than I did. Some of the Asgard sets were pretty good, almost like Star Wars meets Rivendell, with chunky modernist fountains and ethnic Norse art scattered around. I felt like Asgard and the frost giants' world were too heavily CG. I'm still not sure what they were trying to do visually by choosing New Mexico to illustrate Earth - it's another very distinct style. Maybe I'm over-thinking this.

Anyway. We enjoyed it a lot, but I don't think we're likely to buy it. It was a fun date movie.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Fashionista already

My girl has taken to putting on any pair of her pants or ruffly pants (diaper covers? romper pants? what are those things called?) lying around.

She grabs them and sits carefully.

She pushes one leg through the leg hole, then the other.

Yesterday about this stage, she started squeaking and stood up. She fell over. That's when I noticed she'd put both legs into the same leg hole. I rescued her and helped her put on the ruffly pants properly, though over her leggings. As a general rule we wear our underwear on the inside and long pants on the outside, but some days it doesn't matter. She had a dress over top anyway.

Later on our walk, about three-quarters of the way around, I discovered she was still rocking the double-decker pants. You go, girl.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Modernist design

Today's library haul got me really excited. I picked up Lisa Skolnik's Retro Modern out of the architecture and design section, and it pulled together so much for me. There wasn't a huge amount of text, just an introduction, a page or two of text per chapter, and the rest photos and captions illustrating the style in actual houses and other buildings. And I read the entire thing, and got so excited I read a good bit out loud to Jonathan (who was peacefully reading Chuck Swindoll and really mostly back in ancient Persia).

First: I had never realized how much of modernist style I had unconsciously inherited. Big airy windows, an emphasis on back patios, built-in shelves and other furniture, rooms that flow into one another, and front doors that open straight onto the main living area of the house -- classic modernism. I hadn't realized that the basic ranch-styles and split-levels came out of that tradition; I grew up in and around them, and I guess I thought they just naturally occurred? Like mushrooms?

Second: I am reminded of several more aspects of modernism which I've always disliked. Now I'm thinking of bare blocky shapes, sterile walls, odd (but theoretically "functional") architectural excrescences, cantilevering and hovering elements, a dislike of right angles in furniture (Eames chairs, anyone?), and the general impracticality and child-unfriendliness of it all. For instance. There was one hearth out in the middle of the room where the widest part, a layer of bricks, was about six inches up off the floor. It was very nice looking, but carefully arranged so that any adult walking through would bark their shins on it and any child would trip and crack their head on a corner. Yikes.

Also, in order to really be in keeping with the aesthetic, you can't have any junk in your house. Or dirt. Everything is clean and on display. You may have shelves, but the only visible things allowed are Art, such as bio-morphic glass vases or African masks. Mundane things like books and toothbrushes have to be hidden behind fiberglass shelf doors, except for one book on your coffee table. Obviously this would not work for my house.

Third: I found it fascinating how the rise of modernist design flowed out of broader history. The 20th-century opened with a few movements, such as the Arts & Crafts, rebelling against fancy Victorian furnishing. In Germany this took the "Werkbund" style, which emphasized good workmanship and machine-production. That's exactly what they were doing in other ways, like making "the finest artillery in Europe" (to quote Jonathan).

During the late twenties and thirties, the modern aesthetic slowed down due to Nazi preferences (Europe) and production and sales issues (the Great Depression in America). Some major designers fled the war to the US. But, after World War II, there were all these artists raring to go and factories ready to make non-military things and new little ex-soldiers' families getting new little houses and furniture - and whoosh! A style took off.* And now, seventy years later, it's so normal we barely notice it.

Fourth: It's telling that the new houses were oriented around the backyard to have a better view of nature. No more big front porches for chatting with the neighbors, no more parlor windows facing the street, but uncurtained floor-to-ceiling windows facing your own secluded garden. These were built in dramatic natural areas and in cookie-cutter subdivisions, but they were not, for the most part, built on busy town streets so you could walk to the store. Hello, New Urbanism.

Styles change. It's what they do. A lot of the modernist aesthetic is very practical in some ways. It's great for public areas like park visitors' centers and libraries. I think the Los Alamos library is a very cool modernist building - big, airy, light, relatively easy to clean, nifty nested windows to photograph people through, nice balconies to drop things off of.** It's even pretty in its way. But it's not... everything. It's not good for the in-between living. You go for the day.

I think Jonathan and I, if we get a chance to design a house, will value other things. For us, functional means "good for raising kids in" and "hospitable" and, oh, I don't know. Enough storage. Pretty. Respecting boundaries. Curtains on the windows, so we can close them at night and open them in the morning. Not enamored entirely with the last seventy years, and able to tolerate things that are fabulous just for the sake of it, like a Sculpey dragon in red and gold named Aethelthryth***, to reflect the crazy creativity of the God who came up with the common platypus. I mean really, what kind of God makes platypuses? And what does that say about human house design?

Modernism is more pervasive than I'd realized -- which is fine, but also why it's good to keep up with Epbot. Also, if anyone knows of a good design blog inspired by Art Deco, I'd definitely be interested.



*Obviously, it's more complicated than this. But what a fun overview.
**No, I don't recommend this. What were you thinking? ;-)
***Amelia R. sculpted her for our wedding, along with a marzipan dragon. We have awesome friends.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hello

This afternoon as we were sorting through a box of toys and techie junk, we found Jonathan's old circa-2006 cell phone. Its hinges still work great, though, so I gave it to Meg for a toy.

She sat on the couch for a good twenty minutes and had a grand time with it. She might even like it better than my phone, because this one flips open. It's better than any toy cell phone, for sure. She likes to hold it up with her shoulder and chatter. Every now and again she'd try out her new real word -- "Hello."

My life, in one short paragraph

Me: "Look! Anthropologie's got my table! --except theirs is boring colors and mine is awesome."
Jonathan: "That table over there?" ::points::
Me: "Yes, except it's over there now." ::points the other way::
Jonathan: "Ah, you moved it."
Me: "That's right. I move the table all the time. It's what I do in life. It's like Olivia - she gets up, moves the cat, brushes her teeth, combs her ears, moves the cat. And then she gets dressed and has to try on EVERYTHING!"

Yep. Anthropologie may be a taste-maker these days, but it's got nothing to the power of a board book read fifty times.

Also, my table is awesome. It's mustard yellow. I intended my living room to be red, but I looked around the other day and discovered it was mostly gold tones. Sometimes I surprise even myself.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pirates 4: raiders of the lost fountain

We decided to watch Pirates 4 for our date yesterday. It was pretty good - definitely the best since Pirates 1, though I do think Pirates 1 is still better. But we enjoyed it. It had no Will and Elizabeth drama, a comprehensible plot, and instead of that sea-goddess-whatever nonsense, it involved two very nice, manageable legends: the Fountain of Youth and mermaids. It kept the voodoo to a minimum and actually had quite a bit of Catholic imagery, which lent a nice solidity to its metaphysics. I really liked the Spanish Catholics - they added a lot and had comprehensible motives and everything. It would have been a better movie if they'd gotten the Christianity a little better; but I was happy to take what I could get.

Pirates 4 was actually channeling Indiana Jones for a while, between the searches for relics, Grail-like chalices, and (SPOILER!) the bad guy melting away for choosing... poorly.

Abby mentioned to me to keep an eye out for the missionary to see what I thought of him. I kind of liked him. He had spunk. And he was very buff, not to mention incapable of keeping his shirt on, which made me laugh. (What? A missionary who doesn't look like a string bean? You mean missionaries are people too?) He was slightly shrill, and I'm not sure why he couldn't fall in love with the mermaid and keep a solid grip on his theology, but whatever. If mermaids are human enough to love, surely they need Jesus too? Jonathan didn't like that subplot; he couldn't get over the "sociopathic vampire" part of their character. Picky, picky.

Also, the missionary's Jesus was too small to save Blackbeard, but then the missionary might have just been trying to annoy him. The Jesus I'm acquainted with is plenty big enough to save even a pirate. Gasp. John Newton was a slaver and the Apostle Paul himself was a murderer, so there's precedent. The whole point of "being saved" is that you can't do more evil things than Jesus has already paid for. Even if you crisp hapless crew members and have a scary beard and magic remote-control-sword/hat-combo like Blackbeard does. Jesus is just that awesome. But despite its theological shortcomings, I kind of liked the movie.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I've been baby-proofing

Yikes, I haven't posted much this month, have I? Graduation really knocked it out of me, getting ready for it and then recovering. Also, now that Jonathan is home doing bar-prep full time, we're having to re-work our house arrangement. Specifically, we both want to keep our computers on the desk downstairs, which gets cozy.

This is made more interesting by another necessary round of baby-proofing. Meg has learned to climb up onto chairs and the couch! I'm just busting out with maternal pride. I remember loving to scramble around when I was younger, especially outside on convenient rocks and trees and things. However, inside, Meg now wants to climb further up the chair back and take everything off the shelves and probably fall off and land on her head, which as a conscientious parent I can't really allow. Hence baby-proofing. What we really need is a full set of built-in bookshelves with lockable glass doors, but I think they'll have to wait. Anyway, the point was it's been harder to compute and therefore blog. We'll find a rhythm soon.

Car stickers

Babble alerted me to the awesomest family car stickers ever. I'm with the blogger: those little stick figures with the kids' names are kind of creepy. But stormtroopers? With hair bows? The only thing that would be cooler would be if they were Mando helmets. And if you know what I'm talking about, you are a true fan.

Ohhh yeah.

Monday, May 16, 2011

We are graduated

Jonathan finished up law school and graduated last weekend. Congratulations! As of tonight we know that he passed his toughest class - of course he was going to, but it's good to hear it for sure. His parents and my sister and her husband were all able to come out for it, and we had a party. We strung up paper lanterns and made ice cream and everything.

On Sunday, we took Emily and Ryan to Maymont to see the otters and gardens. I've been wanting them to see it for a long time, because those otters are just that awesome. While we were there, we took gorgeous photos of each other (including some mushy ones of me and Jonathan!), which was pretty entertaining.

We spent the rest of the week recovering. We found some necessary clothes on good sales, including jeans and black pants for Jonathan. Nana watched Meg and let me go to the post office all by myself - ooh, the excitement! I even got to go to the library and check out grown-up books. On Saturday we split a giant cinnamon roll at the mall, and in the evening went to a surprise birthday party through a massive rainstorm. On Sunday I wore a new hot pink maxi dress (with orange polka dots, yes indeedy) to church, a young marrieds lunch, and the beach - loved it.

And then today, Meg and I did laundry and grocery shopping, and Jonathan got started on his bar prep course. So that's what we've been up to.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Bin Laden and marriage - two current events in one post!

I found out about the royal wedding myself, but Jonathan shared the news about Bin Laden's death this morning before I even had my coffee. WOO!

We are delighted. To those who have moral objections about the death penalty: some actions are deserving of death. It's a justice thing. It's not about lashing out in anger or deterrence or closure or various other things it might incidentally do; some crimes are worth dying for. His qualified. I hope he repented, and God will mercifully and justly sort him out. Glad that's not my job.

That being said, the Navy SEALS who did the raid were AWESOME. And I would be totally in favor of an Osama Down Day every May 1st, like a Guy Fawkes day. I'll buy fireworks!

I also think Homeland Security needs to drastically step down airport security, especially if they want to save the airline industry. This demonstrated (like Israel's been doing for years) that the way to prevent terrorism is by good intelligence, not strip-searching four-year-olds. We refuse to fly until they become rational again, and we're not the only ones.

Everybody's been posting their two cents, of course, but I liked this article from Heavenfield. It's a medievalist's take on the importance of proving your enemy's really dead. :-)

As for the wedding, I'm delighted about that too. Heavenfield had another fun post on "peace-weaving" royal marriages. She pointed out that first Prince Charles and now William married British women, strengthening the monarchy's ties to its own people.

Christian websites have all been taking the opportunity to talk about marriage in general. Jonathan pointed me to this post from Touchstone linking an article on David Hume's defense of one-man-one-woman marriage from a rationalist standpoint. He ties it to freedom. Yes, that David Hume.

"David Hume! The guy currently wearing a toga in Edinburgh! Mr. There's-No-Causality himself!" Jonathan

I'm going to take the opportunity to talk about an article I read last week in a Richmond Families magazine. I picked it up expecting storytime schedules, and got three pages on why all tweens need to be vaccinated with Gardasil, the cervical cancer prevention drug. Yes, you read that right. Tweens.

I read the entire article, just in case the author had a good reason. I will assume that their studies are correct and Gardasil really does prevent 85-95% of all cases of the virus/cancer, and further assume that it doesn't have any nasty side effects that surface ten or thirty or fifty years later.

But their assumptions were telling. The only way to know your child's partners are STI-free is if both remain virgins until marriage and 100% monogamous until death. This is said in a "boy are you naive to think that" tone of voice. Teens make poor choices, so parents need to prepare them.

Let's think about that a minute. We have here a risky behavior with numerous health issues. We can spend $360 per person for prior immunizations and untold millions in cleanup costs; or we can change behavior.

Smoking: change behavior! No doctor is shy about ordering you to quit.

Alcoholism: change behavior!

Obesity: change behavior!

Promiscuity: Well, of course your teenager is going to make poor decisions. We couldn't expect them to wait until they're adults, could we? Or wait until marriage? And asking adults to refrain from promiscuity? How ridiculous and backward. Never mind that chastity is 100% effective at preventing all STIs.

Our culture is so weird.

And this post is quite long enough, so I'll leave you with that. Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 29, 2011

You know it's true

50-cent package of Easter eggs. One dozen, six bright colors.

Best. toy. EVER.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy Wednesday

This series is just gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I love the blue post - that old Singer reminds me of the old sewing machines Jonathan and I saw last time we went thrifting. I wanted one. But aren't the colors adorable?

Apparently I'm behind the times, but some people are having royal wedding parties to watch the event on TV. Free printables.

Peter Jackson has up his first video blog from the Hobbit movie. I'd embed it, but Blogger tends to cut off my videos. So just go watch it on Youtube - ten minutes of Bag End, Rivendell, the Misty Mountains, some nifty dwarvish facial hair (and armor! and swords!) and a really drool-worthy wardrobe department. You'll also get to see the native New Zealanders' blessing ceremony. I want to go to Weta now and help hem cloaks. Please?

Sigh. For those of us not invited to help with the Hobbit, here's how to make pinch pleated drapes that actually look good. The tutorial looks quite straightforward. The secret: pleat tape and pleater hooks. I had no idea such a thing existed.

I'm still off my schedule from the lovely weekend away. I spent the day doing things like buying groceries and leggings, and rearranging the bookshelves in hopes of finding a missing DVD, actually finding the missing real cell phone and toy cow, and of course posting fabulous things to share with you all. In any case, I had to double check what day it is. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The mythical island produce stand

It all sounded so innocent. Here we are on Chincoteague, and Kay and I are up for doing dinner tonight. Meg's just down for her nap and should sleep another couple of hours. There's supposed to be this produce stand on Church Street, which is just a couple of blocks over, so we should run see if they have fresh asparagus for dinner! Wouldn't that be yummy with a little melted butter?

Yeah.

So cheerfully we venture forth. Only Kay's car is parked in the back and everybody would have to move for us to get out, but it's okay, we'll walk; I'm wearing my high-heeled cute boots from Lexington, but it's not far. First thing, we discover a shortcut to the beach and the dollar store. Nice.

About three or four blocks later we find Church Street, with the help of Kay's iphone. Left or right? Um... Left. We walk. And walk. I decide I'm desperate enough to ask directions, so I stop at the hardware store and ask the man behind the counter if there's a vegetable stand around here. He jumps up and leads me out to the road.

"Yeah! See that boot, right there?"

Are we talking a lawn ornament? I see houses, yards, a giant half-buried anchor, and a boat trailer. "Oh, you mean the boat?"

"Yeah, the boot. The produce stand is right behind that boot."

I thank him and we walk on. We pass a Strings 'N' Things music store, with "Hey darlin" on the sign and the owner sitting in the front yard. I wave.

The produce stand is labeled, but it looks more like a construction site. However, we've come all this way, and I'm not about to go home without at least trying for some asparagus. We weave past the trucks and piles of bricks into the room with the blaring music. The proprietor is busy sanding boards.

"Got any produce?" I ask. That's not going down in any "great lines of the century" compendia.

The proprietor very politely explains that this early in the season, there's not enough business to sell produce during the week, so he's working construction now but the stand will be open on the weekend. We thank him and leave him to his cabinet, repeating "Got any produce" at intervals. Brilliant.

After that, we decide to walk downtown and find a grocery store. Or something. We wander past the post office for stamps and a t-shirt place for postcards, and Kay's iphone directs us to a grocery store. About now my feet are killing me, so we pause and sit on every bench we pass and stand up really straight in between. I toy with calling Lisa to come rescue us. Oh well.

Frozen green beans in hand, we head home. I take off my socks and shoes and go barefoot the last block. As Kay pointed out, the main thing about any adventure is to make it home with all appendages attached. Check!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Going places

"They're very talented, and you can see exactly where they're trying to take us, but they don't take us anywhere nice. Don't try to tell me that the journey is the point of the journey. In that case, you can just as well take us somewhere nice. Puddleglum and I are staying here until you Mapquest us somewhere better." Jonathan

We were ranting, er, talking about why older authors are better than most 20th-century ones. :-) I think, if ever I have to write a dissertation on someone and have to look smart, I'll pick Robert Louis Stevenson because he's fun. I have enough to do, I just don't want to read someone who isn't going somewhere I want to go.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Imitative behavior

Right now Meg is wearing one of my cropped cardigans as a sort of royal robe, super-cutely. It's got these wide kimono sleeves on her and Jonathan cinched it with a rainbow belt.

She sits and flips pages in her books. She lets out a thoughtful "Hmm!" when investigating something new. She jumps in and out of a hula hoop giggling wildly. She has learned how to put on a hairband and a hat, and to hold a shoe on her head while turning in circles (not sure about that one).

So I shouldn't be surprised that twice now this evening, she has busted out with a perfect maniacal laugh. "MWAHAHAHA!" She isn't really talking yet, just lots of preverbal chatter and animal noises, but I expect her to start any day. Probably in full sentences. No doubt, she will begin with her plans to take over the world.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

General update

I realized I hadn't posted for a few days, so I thought I'd drop in. Next week (and the week after!) are looking full.

Today was a quiet and book-full Sunday. I read an entire YA book from yesterday's library run, Elizabeth C. Bunce's Star Crossed. It was pretty good, though a little too magic-ey to be a complete favorite. But it sucked me in well enough to read in one sitting and I want the sequel when it comes out. So that's a recommendation. It reminded me a little of the Attolia books and of the Stardust movie. Also, in case you're wondering like I was, the main plot does not involve lovers. Yes!

Skimming through my blogs, I'm so impressed with what everybody's doing with themselves. Maggie is writing period letters to go with her historical reenactment, authentic ink and handwriting and all; Holly is writing very intelligent legal-political columns; and all my other bloggers seem to be coming out with lovely springy projects and pretty houses and food, or organizing medieval source websites, or losing thirty pounds, or something. Of course that's what they do, but still.

One side effect of motherhood nobody warned me about is how it seems to turn your brains to mush. Jonathan tells me Meg hasn't eaten my brains, just my oomph. Either way, cooking real non-prefab food has been almost nonexistent around here lately, at the pasta or pancakes level. I did manage to hem a [FABULOUS if I do say so myself] maxi skirt yesterday and take in the waist. Does that count? I've never been a terribly high-energy person, and I know comparisons are odorous, as Dogberry put it, but it would be nice to feel really clever and effective. And a perfect housekeeper, who never has crusted blobs on the table. Yep. That would be lovely. Do perfect housekeepers even exist? Aren't they mythical, like the haggis-beast?

Coming up, we've got batches of company, a doctor's appointment, and half a spring break in Chincoteague with friends. And in less than a month, Jonathan graduates! WOOHOO!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

More teeth, and a new game

Meg has two more teeth! They're premolars, both on the bottom, and arrived Tuesday. Yay Meg!

And today she learned to play catch! We started by playing fetch (don't judge me), but Meg got the hang of throwing the ball back in my direction. I'm so excited. She's brilliant. :-)

In other news, raisins are now out of favor. They are nasty food, only suitable for throwing on the floor. We like quesadillas, though.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Always laugh at your daddy's jokes

"Monks are creatures of habit." Jonathan
"YEAH!" Meg

:-)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How menus are made

"We have a can of crab meat! We should have crab cakes for dinner with homemade biscuits, for this snowy day, and we can pretend we're Northern. Like... North.. North... why are you looking at me funny?" Me

"Some of us are Northern." Jonathan

"Some of us have to pretend!" Me

Surely some of you do theme dinners? Anything fun? Excuse me, I need to go wipe hummus off Meg's shoes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fixing up a t-shirt

I needed to do something creative tonight, so I broke out the fusible interfacing I've been thinking about for a while and experimented with iron-ons.





The t-shirt was one I had demoted to pajamas because the sleeves are weird. So, if the experiment didn't work out, that's not much loss. But I think it turned out pretty cute. The flowers might need some embroidery, for added beauty. Also I might cut off the sleeves and leave them raw and fluttery. Hmm... better sleep on that one.

Ironing-on is much easier than I expected. The method:

1. Cut out identical pieces of the fabric and the interfacing.

2. Put the cut-outs on the shirt on the ironing board, and cover with a damp tea towel.

3. Iron for 10 seconds in each position, until all the cut-outs have had their turn.

4. Sew on decorative buttons, if motivated.

There, now the secret is out. Go and do likewise. :-)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Today was an "other," but it improved

Some days are just more inspiring than others. Today was an "other."

We got up and tried to go for a walk, but we got outside and it was too cold for me, so my next idea was to go out and about and do something indoors, probably a library. But Oh Noes! My bottle of Oxy-Clean has fallen off the dryer and graced the kitchen floor with fully half its contents!

So I set up a baby gate to keep Meg from stomping in the glistening temptation, and tidy up enough for me to get at the floor to (otherwise) sweep and mop it. By the time it was soapless and dried, it was lunchtime and too late to go Out and About. So we had quesadillas and cheese soup, which Meg ate cheerfully and then with equal gusto flung all over the newly clean floor.

By this time it was clear Someone needed a nap, so Jonathan put her down and headed off to class. I wrote a nice note in Meg's baptism book, you know, the one she's going to keep for posterity, and decided after it was done (in ink) that it was definitely sub-par, but it was too late to change it. Then I worked on work. Today I was researching a late nineties boy-band member with more appearances as "self" than you'd care to shake a stick at. In fact, woo boy, there was another credit since I'd worked on him over the weekend. I'm so grateful not to have gotten into the MTV-reality-show culture as a teenager. After two hours of this, I give up and make a cup of tea.

Grumbling at life, I carry a pair of boots upstairs and notice one of them is -- full? I laugh and dump out the contents on the bed: one sheep, one R2-D2 unit, and a farmer named Owen. And you know, somehow that made it all better. :-)


Owen, R2, and Sheep That Says Baa reunited with Beru and the gang in the shadow of the giant flowerpot.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

We're official now!

Nope, not officially courting... we got married a couple years back, in case you missed it... official church members! We were presented during this morning's service.

Immediately after the membership part, Meg got baptized! She grinned hugely as the pastor put the water on her head and charmed everyone. At one point, she actually covered her eyes and played peekaboo with the audience. I love it. It was also pretty cool that FIVE little church girls got baptized this morning, including our friend Maren from small group. Meg's Nana and Poppie got to come down and videotape the ceremony, and we all went to Panera's for lunch afterward.

How exciting was that??

The main difference now that we're church members, I think, is that we take a turn at nursery duty (totally fair) and go to annual meetings. The main difference for Meg is that the sign has been put on her: GOD HAS HIS HAND ON YOU! She isn't saved yet... but He'll be faithful to her, like He has been to us. And she'll always know about Jesus. So hopefully she'll come to Him soon. :-) I think I accepted Him at the hardened age of four.

Honestly, it was kind of a sticky point whether we were going to baptize her as an infant or wait till after she had professed for herself. Jonathan felt strongly and I came around, because I really do see their point, and if we're wrong, God can still count it perfectly well. It's not like she's going to be disowned for getting the ceremony wrong. And if she grows up and decides she needs to be baptized again, that's quite doable.

For the occasion, we all dressed to the nines. I've got to admit, that made me happy too, as a stay-at-home mom doesn't get a lot of dress-up excuses. Jonathan was the easiest: a good suit with a shirt and tie. I found Meg a fluffy white dress. She was a bit old for a classic super-long christening dress, like some of the other baptizees wore, but Target had a cutesy dress with a raw-silk-looking top and a big tulle skirt. I realized it actually looked a lot like my wedding dress (only Meg's was not strapless, of course).

And for me, I hunted all over and finally found the perfect dress in Williamsburg. We went to the beach on Friday and stopped for a smoothie on the way home, and there across the parking lot -- a Ross's. ::cue ethereal music:: It's a really darling retro style, in an almost ikat black and white floral, with a crossed surplice bodice, waist tie detail, full a-line skirt, and little flutter sleeves. I wore it with pearls and my famous red heels and looked like a classic church lady.

Since my life goals have been to be a church lady and home school mom - I'm well on the way!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Things that make me happy today

Chives! These in the pot are last season's roots, which recently decided that spring was here and so up they sprouted. There's no arguing with success.

Blueberries.

Trader Joe's Meyer lemon cookie thins. (Preferably with blueberries.)

Forsythia bushes. Our street is all yellow-blossomed up and down.

Naptime!

Jonathan home for spring break.

My light gray swing cardigan over a bright t-shirt.

Yay spring!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Talking, stacking, identifying colors, eating chili

Hello, world! Meggers hit a handful of developmental milestones this week, so I wanted to share. :-)

Thursday, 7:20 pm: First word! Jonathan came home, and she yelled, "Da da da da da!" Now, she's said that before, but (as far as we can tell) that's the first time she connected a word and what it meant. Fun!

Also this week, she learned to stack. She put boxes on top of each other in the kitchen, and upstairs she stacked all the plastic doughnuts on their pole and even identified the right colors. I walked her through it - "Now the PURPLE one" - and she'd grab the purple one and put it on - "Now the ORANGE one" - and so on. She could tell which color I meant, reinforced sometimes by pointing (but sometimes she could tell just verbally). The whole collection made it on there in order.

I boggled the other day at how much she really does understand. I said, "Can you go get But Not the Hippopotamus?" and she chose that very book off her shelf from among them all. Whoa.

She's also worked out how to tell us what she wants to eat. I'm trying to teach her the signs for "more" and "please," but when she's hungry... she points. If we don't get it, she starts jumping and yelling. She also lets us know if we feed her the wrong thing, such as Cheerios when she really wants raisins. Craisins are all right too, but raisins are her true love at the moment.

But tonight, she proved she was her mother's daughter. We made our own little Chili Works burritos for dinner tonight, complete with three-chili red sauce and the works. They were really, really good. My New Mexican heart was happy. So meanwhile we were feeding Meg a little rice cereal and raisins, like good parents, and she starts pointing at my burrito and getting worked up over it. Um... okay, Meg, but watch out. That chili's hot. I tear off a bite. And she gobbles down that bite and several others. What a girl!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dulce de leche bread pudding

Q. If one were going to make dulce de leche by heating sweetened condensed milk in the can (which I highly recommend), what would one do with it?

A. Put it on bread pudding! We made it out of a combination of wheat and French breads, with a custard of milk, sugar, eggs, raisins, cinnamon, and cardamom. The combination was absolutely fabulous. :-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oh what a beautiful morning

In the wee hours, we heard wet sleety wintriness clacking against the windowpanes. February's back. Sigh. Well, mini-summer was great while it lasted. :-)

Therefore, since it's a miserable morning, I figured it was a good time to continue Meg's cultural education with this video, a good-parts version of Oklahoma --especially "Oh What a Beautiful Morning," of course! The video actually kept her attention for a good six or seven minutes (singing and dancing usually does). I think she's going to be a very musical person.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

We went to the beach yesterday

It was unseasonably warm yesterday - over seventy! - so we went to the beach. It was a lovely day.