Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Paratroopa koopa

This year, Young M wanted to be a villain.  After considering quite a few options, he and I agreed on a flying turtle from the Mario games, also known as a paratroopa koopa.

I made this costume out of craft foam.  Cardboard would have worked.  It would have been much heavier and held its shape better and needed paint or paper for color.  I chose the easier way.  I started by making one hexagon (about 8 or  9 inches across) and six half hexagons out of craft foam.  I made the angles on the half hexagons (where it would connect to the big hexagon) slightly smaller so that the shell would be rounded instead of flat.  (In other words, I trimmed a skinny triangle off the diagonal sides.)  I cut strips of white foam for the edge of the shell and yellow foam for the straps.

For the wings, I traced the wings from the picture above gently using my computer as a light board.  I transferred the tracing to white foam and cut them out, leaving a small area to staple at the bottom of each wing.  I traced the design with marker (pencil was more subtle, but would smear.)  I outlined the hexagons to match the wings.  Then I stapled it all together.

The front of the shell is made from a large piece of foam. After adding a few lines with marker, I stapled a ribbon to the top to tie around the neck.  I also stapled some yarn (ribbon would have worked better) to the sides to tie around the back.

Young M wore a yellow long sleeved shirt with tan pants to complete the costume.

With more time, I would have made green boots/spats out of foam (or fabric) to finish it off.  As it was, Young M enjoyed being a paratroopa koopa (or flying turtle according to the kids at school.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mario costume

This year, the Professor's sister, Aunt B, decided that Miss S ought to be Mario for Halloween.  I waited until everything else was mostly done (while the kids were at school on Halloween, actually) and then did what I could.  Here is what we were going for, more or less.

First, I found a pair of overalls (slightly big, but nobody noticed) and a red shirt.  I added a couple of yellow buttons to the overalls.

Next came the hat.  Aunt B had sent me directions (here) and given me fabric scraps she had.  I mostly followed the directions (shrunk slightly to fit the fabric and because Miss S is a baby), except for the M.  I used the computer to trace the M the size I wanted it on a paper pattern.  I used craft glue to glue the M and the circle to the hat.  (Another time, I would glue the M and sew the circle.)  

To finish up, I used the Professor's great idea.  I cut a mustache out of black craft foam and stuck it on a pacifier with blue sticky tack.  To get the shape, I used the top of the pacifier as a guide and then curved the bottom to make it more Mario-like.  I also left a space in the bottom so it fit around the pacifier well.  I liked the total effect, even if Miss S periodically took off her mustache.

(And here we have Miss S and Aunt B (in her fabulous Lucca costume.))

Monday, November 5, 2012

Link costume

This year Young T chose to be Link for Halloween (or, as he put it for a few weeks beforehand, "Zelda wearing green with a sword and a shield.")  

  For his costume, we used Young A's green shirt and belted it to make a tunic with tan pants.

 To make the green Link hat, I cut out a trapezoid and sewed up the slanted sides.

 The Professor finished off the costume with his cardboard/foil skills.  The master sword has a craft foam hilt.  The shield has the Hyrule design colored on the front with marker.  

It is finished on the back with craft foam leftovers making the places to hold it.

Young T loved it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween overview

This year we had lots of fun with Halloween.  Video games made a strong showing at our house with Mario, Zelda, and Chronotrigger (in the basement) characters.  Young A retained his place as the originality master, and Miss M practiced being more grown up.  All in all, the evening was quite enjoyable.

(I will post more about the individual costumes over the next few days.  Grandmas, please be patient.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

To the mountains we go

To the mountains we go

Laughing all the way

We love to go to the mountains,


I spend much of my life busy.  I seldom realize how tense I am until I find myself in the mountains, or near a river, or near a field.  Suddenly, I release the breath I didn't know I was holding.  This fall I've decided not to wait for a day the entire family can go up the canyon.  Instead, I'm going when I can.  What a beautiful world I live in.

*The first verse of a book/song that Miss E wrote/made a couple of years ago.  It has entered our family's repertoire.

Friday, September 14, 2012

On being an adult

This has been a very grown-up month at our house.  I'm hoping it will be finished soon.

We've protested property taxes, registered two cars (only six trips to mechanic-type places and six checks), tried to refinance the house (enough with the shady shenanigans!), filed income tax stuff for the third time (maybe the IRS and I can both get it right at the same time this time), restarted vision therapy, started the process for speech therapy, started potty training, bottled peaches and pears, and organized a playgroup.

Now we just need to finish the dental work we've been too busy to do, finish the potty training, replace the furnace and air-conditioner (before it gets cold), and figure out how to deal with the allergies that won't go away.

Sometimes I get tired of being an adult, or maybe I just get tired by being an adult.

(It is interesting in the middle of a month like this to watch Miss M stuck in between, trying to figure out if she's grown up or not and if she wants to be or not.)

Friday, September 7, 2012


Rule I inherited from my mother:  Children can climb trees as high as they can without help.  If you need help to get up, you will most likely have trouble getting down.

Young T:  Mom, may you help me climb the tree?  (said with a two year-old accent.)

Me:  No, I don't help little boys climb high.

Young T:  Mom, may you help me climb low?

Me:  No, if you can't climb by yourself you have to wait until you are bigger.

(repeat a time or two.)

Young T disappears into the house for a minute.

Young T: Mom, may I bring the step-stool outside?

At least he asked.

Monday, August 13, 2012


My children seem to be having trouble with the meanings of a few simple words.

Last week on a hike, Young T learned something new.  Grandma told him something about the river.  He replied that it wasn't a river, it was water.  So Grandma taught him that a river was water that flowed like this particular water was doing.  "Oh."

Today, the kids wanted to play in some dirt.  My only request: "Don't make a mess."  We need to work on the definition of the word mess around here.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Miss E's talk for today

In the Good Samaritan story that Jesus told, there was a Jewish man out walking.  Some thieves took his clothes, hurt him, and left him on the road almost dead.  Two men came by, one at a time, and did not help.  Then a third man, a Samaritan, came by.  Even though Samritans hated Jews, the man helped the Jew by giving him food, water, clothes, and taking him to an inn.  He was kind.

Jesus taught in Matthew chapter 7 verse 12, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."

Jesus was a good example of being kind.  One day he met ten lepers.  Leprosy is a disease that makes parts of your skin fall off.  Jesus healed all ten lepers.  One man remembered to thank Jesus.  The others all forgot.  When the leper thanked Jesus, he asked, "Where are the other nine lepers?"  He said, "They forgot to thank you."  In this story, Jesus was kind by healing the lepers.  The one leper who thanked Jesus was kind because he thanked Jesus.  That was saying a nice thing.

Being kind is doing and saying nice things.  We can follow Jesus's example by saying and doing nice things.

(I helped her get started and tie it all together.  The stories are her words.)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Here we go again

We started like this.
A month and a half ago we started a new job chart for the kids.  The first three weeks went well.  The Sunday planning and clear expectations (and, truthfully, novelty) helped things run smoothly.

Now it feels like this.
Now that the novelty has worn off, both the kids and I have lost the motivation to keep up.  We're back to complaining and avoidance interspersed with accomplishment.  We are doing better than we would without a new program, but not as well as my imagination had hoped for.  All in all, I'm reminded of a couple of candid photos Miss M took a couple of years ago...

I suppose I should be used to too much planning surrounded by chaos.  Apparently this is the regular state of things around here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Curly locks

Young T has the distinction of having the curliest hair in our family.  After all the exclamations the ladies at church and around town have made, I think it has become part of his identity.  He has been known to point out his hair in pictures.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided his mane needed to be tamed.  While I like it long, it was getting out of control.  After I cut it, it wasn't nearly as fun.  Thankfully, the old adage about men's hair is true for his, "The difference between a bad haircut and a good one is two weeks."  Now that it's had a couple of weeks to grow out, he looks like himself again.

Monday, May 21, 2012


A couple of weeks ago, we blessed Miss S.  (A baby blessing is kind of like a christening.)  My parents and grandparents were able to come.  The Professor gave her a name and a blessing in our Sunday church meeting.  The presence of our friends and neighbors, who have rejoiced with us over the birth (and spoiled me in the process), added another measure of joy to the day.  The Professor's sister and her husband joined us (not too hard, as they rent our basement and attend church with us.)  And my brother and his family joined us later that day.  Overall, it was a sweet day full of family and celebration of an adorable baby.  We are grateful to have her influence in our family.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Groundhog minutes

In the movie Groundhog Day, the main character relives the same day over and over.  Slowly the day changes as he changes his choices.  I've realized I have minutes that feel like that.

Having a little one again has put me back in situations I've been in before.  My response to some of these situations is not something I like or am proud of.  (For example, waking up angry after a bad night with the baby; feeling like somehow, the Professor and the children should automatically know how tired I am; and thinking that I shouldn't have to get up--someone else should do whatever needs to be done.)  The frustrating thing has been that I thought I had learned to to better.  After all, I wasn't responding that way anymore.  Then I find out that it is just that the situation wasn't that way anymore.

It is so discouraging to over and over again find myself back where I hated to be, in my relationships or my choices or my parenting or my outlook on life.  And it feels like I can't easily start over.  I pick up where I left off.  It may have taken me months or years to get into a dysfunctional pattern, but I slip back into it in mere seconds.

I've finally realized that these minutes are opportunities to keep working on my automatic responses until I slowly get it right.  It probably won't happen quickly or soon.  I will mess up over and over again as I learn what works and what doesn't.  But, eventually, maybe I can learn enough to change how these situations play out.  And in doing so, just as happens in that silly movie, I will change.  That hope makes the frustration less overwhelming and possibly worth it.  Isn't it amazing?  I can eventually change until I no longer do (or think or choose) those actions (or thoughts or choices) that I am most ashamed of (or cause the most damage to my relationships or hurt those around me.)  Once again, I am reminded of the miracle of the atonement.  We can become better than we hope to be.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What a difference a nap makes!

Friends and neighbors keep asking how we are doing and how I am feeling.  I've told them we are doing well and that I am tired.  I've figured I was generally doing quite well.  Then this weekend hit, and the short, late nights caught up with me.

Miss S has generally slept well once she sleeps.  But she and I seem to disagree about what time bedtime is.  If the date has changed to tomorrow, it is too late.  We are still teaching her that.  This past week I have been up still at 1 and 1:30 and 2.  (As an aside, I am extremely grateful for the friends who happily drive carpool.  I'm glad I don't have to drive often or far while I'm so tired.)

I'm not sure if it was lack of naps or a cold that seems to have joined the family, but the last few days I've realized that my brain has turned off.  It has taken great effort to remember the word kitchen or laundry room.  Don't ask me to analyze or decide or brainstorm.  That's much too complicated this week.  My children's names are often turned into a list (I eventually get the right one.)  I haven't been able to understand what my kids are saying if more than one of them is talking at a time.  And then there was the time Young M was telling me something.  I was concentrating on understanding each word when I suddenly realized that I had no idea what the whole thing meant.  This morning as I was helping send children to school, each word of some sentences took effort to think of and remember long enough to say.  This doesn't work.

So when Miss S went to sleep this morning while Young T was still in bed, I let Young M play some cool math games on the laptop in my room while I lay down.  I am pleased to report that I can think again.  I can understand things.  I'm sure I need more rest to catch up, but I am functioning again for today.  And that is all I really need today.

Friday, April 20, 2012

She can open her eyes

It is easiest for me to remember to take pictures when things are calm. Most of the pictures of Miss S are of her sleeping. But, I remembered when she woke upyesterday. And now we have proof that she does wake up. For a true picture of our days I'd have to include one of her during her cranky time, but I'm too busy then to worry about the camera.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring Break

We survived Spring Break last week. I think we did pretty well considering it was my first week after my help went home.

~wrote invisible ink messages
~went to the dinosaur museum
~drove half of Young M's preschool carpool
~went grocery shopping (with five of the kids)
~took everyone (including the Professor) to IKEA to buy a new table and chairs
~went on a walk
~rode bikes
~had a picnic with neighbors
~slept in
~got the last two children's teeth fixed
~got four recalls fixed on the minivan
~had the piano tuned
~and went to math circle and the library on Saturday

I don't like getting up to get the kids off, but it sure was nice to send them back to school this week.

(By the way, for grandmas and other interested parties, I have added a picture to my last post.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Introducing Miss S

Miss S joined our family three and a half weeks ago. We've enjoyed having a little one again.

Miss S waited to come until the last minute. (She was born early in the morning the day I was to be induced.)

Thankfully, Young T has accepted our new baby. When she cries he tells me, "Baby's mad." If she doesn't calm down he tells me, "Baby needs a drink." And he loves to give her the sweetest hugs. Of course he still needs lots of extra hugs and doesn't like having to share me, but we can work with that.

The kids fight over sitting by the baby in the car. Young M was excited to sit next to Miss S and help her. When Young T started singing from his seat, "Don't cry, Miss S. Don't cry." (repeat) to the tune of "Let's go Cougars. Let's go." Young M got quite upset. It was supposed to be his turn to help her. (Sigh. Must they fight? Apparently.)

Know that we are sleepy and well here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My dilemma

I have a dilemma. True, it is a silly one that I have little control over, but nevertheless, I'm still left wondering. Today is a holiday we enjoy celebrating at our house, Pi Day. Our favorite way to celebrate includes circles, notably, the circles found around tasty pies. So the question is: do I want this baby born today or not?

Pros: I'm tired of this waiting game. It would totally fit our family to have a Pi Day baby. The professor just finished teaching for the day. So it wouldn't be too inconvenient. And it's got to be better than the Ides of March, right?

Cons: Unless the baby decides to embrace the pie tradition, the birthday will have to take precedence over the holiday. We may end up eating (gasp) cake on Pi Day. Or not celebrating Pi Day at all.

I suppose it is a good thing I don't actually get much choice here. This baby has a mind of its own. We'll be happy to welcome him/her to the family whenever it's time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Apparently, this pregnancy has changed me...

The other day, we had a rash of cards show up
on beds in the house. Mine made me laugh, especially compared to the others. But, not to worry, apparently, it's what's on the inside that counts.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Sunday Skirt

Miss M has badly needed a new skirt or dress. I've finally taken the time to remedy the situation. Presenting, my latest creation.

(As a side note only interesting to others who sew, I did my first ever blind hem on my machine on this skirt. Somehow, that makes me feel very accomplished.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Costume Time and a Story

Presenting, last year's costumes. We've got Isis, an Egyptian goddess, and her good friend Tape Dispenser. Joining them are Luke Skywalker, Tigger, and a butterfly-fairy-princess. I'm happy to report that the weather was beautiful and the candy plentiful. We had no trouble with either rain runoff in candy buckets or drowned witches this year. With Tape Dispenser's award for best homemade costume at the university's family party (great job, Professor!), I think we can call this year a success.

And, with the picture as an illustration, recently, Young T has begun escaping again. The other day, a kind neighbor looked out her window and saw a cute Tigger walking outside about to cross the street. Then she realized he was by himself. She hurried outside (without her shoes) and escorted Tigger (complete with two Tigger slippers not in the picture) back to his loved ones. The Professor was quite surprised when Young M exclaimed, "Somebody's bringing Young T back!" How grateful we are to live around neighbors who are willing to step up when we need them.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Young T sure doesn't let much stop him.

Yesterday before dinner he was running around with a shirt and diaper on after a diaper change. When he noticed the other kids outside (his idea of paradise) he knew he wanted to join them. So he found some "pants" and put them on. Then he went looking for shoes.

I hadn't yet clued into what he was thinking so I just told him that he had Andrew's Sunday shoes, not his. I told him that his were downstairs in the family room. Off he headed.

The next thing I knew, he had found his boots, put them on (wrong feet) and headed out to play with his brothers. At least he knows we wear pants and shoes outside, I guess it's time to work on adding a coat.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Some things I didn't understand as a child

Watching my children address their valentines has been fun this year. I'm sure most of it is personalities, but my children seem to follow stereotype--if only I had believed it as a girl.

My girls spent hours considering each message and each person they were meant for. They made homemade envelopes just because they could. Some valentines were considered too girly for the boys, others were too weird or too big. And the heart stickers used to seal the envelopes were carefully rationed to prevent too many boys getting pink rather than red. (Except the boy in Miss E's class who reportedly likes pink. He got probably4-6 pink hearts on his. Do you think his parents will tease him about his girlfriend?)

My boys didn't do it that way. Of course, Young M was instructed not to personalize his to make delivering them easier for his class. But Young A simply went through the list. The next valentine at hand was the one the person got. A couple designs were rejected so they would all be uniform size. He was more interested when the stickers came out evenly to three rows of eight used and three rows of eight left than what color was used for any of them. He also loved to see the top half of the heart sticker sealing one valentine lie next to the bottom half of another make a whole heart. So much fun.

As a girl (especially towards the end of elementary school) I always wondered if (hoped) the boys carefully chose this one or that one for me. I would carefully consider what somebody might think the valentines meant--especially if it was for someone I particularly liked (or didn't). Later, as a teenager, I would try to read meaning into almost anything a male did that seemed to involve me. Apparently, it was all for naught. The boys didn't mean anything, but the girls caught all sorts of messages from them. And the girls gave out all sorts of messages that the boys didn't even notice. No wonder everyone was so confused.