Friday, November 16, 2012

A Busy Month

It has been one month since my last post.  One crazy month.  I have had house guests, play dates, dress up parties, a birthday, Halloween, field trips, ear infections, home improvement projects, an election, homework, sewing projects, and pneumonia. 

We had a great Halloween trick or treating in our neighborhood.  The weather was great again this year.  Yes, that is a martini in my hand.  Mike carved pumpkins with the girls and both grandpa's.  We got so see Uncle Bob who was in from Florida.  We got to see Allye who was in from college.  Then I turned 42 and then I got sick.  Really sick.  I was wiped out for about 9 days.  I did leave the house to vote, but I missed the overnight at Emma's school on election night.  I would have liked to have been there for those results!

Speaking of her school...she has the best writing teacher ever!  Her homework is amazingly detailed and challenging.  They are learning character development, among other things.  Emma was to spend at least 2 pages developing a main character.  Her assignment was to develop this character fully using complete sentences and near perfect spelling.  The teacher wanted to know what this character likes, dislikes, looks like, sounds like, character flaws, fears, relationships, favorite color...everything!  Then she had to develop 2 to 3 supporting characters in writing.  She had 4 pages hand written and had not even begun writing the story yet.  I will soon let her guest blog because her writing skills are going to quickly surpass mine.  She has a composition book which she started writing in in August.  It is half full already and you can see the progression of her creative writing as you thumb through it.  Her use of descriptors, leads, hooks and complex sentences is remarkable.  (Her spelling could still use some work.)  This week she must take part of the Preamble to the Constitution and explain which of the duties of the government are the most important. 

A couple of nights ago, the girls were taking a bath together and I was folding clothes.  I overheard Emma Jane ask Lucy if she had ever heard of the Preamble to the Constitution.  Lucy said no.  Emma Jane explained it to her in a very matter of fact way and then told her that she would explain the constitution when she was a bit older.  Maybe she could explain it to the rest of us.

I must also talk about Lucy for a bit.  She is a changed girl.  She is an agreeable, sweet, affectionate, flirtatious, hilarious, charismatic girl these days.  She is a joy to be around.  She uses her manners and picks up her toys and goes to bed without argument.  We never went back to the child therapist due to scheduling issues, so we just think she outgrew the defiant attitude.  It is as if she woke up one morning and decided to get along.  We have had a few outbursts but for the most part she is a different child.  She still likes to cuddle and I love to have her in my face in a snuggle moment.  I love the way her breath smells and feels on my face.  I love how she sounds when she sucks her thumb.  I love how loving she is.  She told me yesterday on the way home from school "Mama, I love you to my heart." 

Mike has been remodeling the guest bathroom (Lucy calls it her bathroom) for over a month.  He has sanded and primed and filled and sanded and buffed and painted and repainted for weeks now.  What an amazing job he did.  The bathroom is my favorite room in the house now!  The paint color is a turquoise and I sewed a roman shade for the window in a fabric that complements the color very well.  I am so pleased with how it turned out.  I will post pictures soon.

My apologies for being away for so long.  I have been having problems with my hands and typing is not great for the tendonitis.  But as I tell Emma Jane when she has a lot of writing to do, just sit down and do it.  I will try and follow my own advice.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Flashback Photo

Lucy still does this with her fingers grasping her blankie while her thumb is in her mouth...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Move Over Mama

This weekend I lost my title.  I was once the funniest member of our family.  No more.  I have been usurped.  I have been dethroned.  Emma Jane delivered more one-liners, quick witted comments, and hilarious insights than I can even remember.  I do not do her justice with my poor memory.

She really found her rhythm this weekend.  We were having conversations and ZING!  Cue the 9 year old with a great one-liner.  And it took us all by surprise and we laughed even harder because the delivery was perfectly timed and given by a 9 year old!  Wit can not be taught.  She just found her groove and went with it.

We had out of town guests staying with us this weekend.  Tim and Bri came in from New Jersey.  Tim has an infectious and very loud laugh.  Before he arrived Emma Jane was preparing Lucy for how loud it would be.  She said that they probably wouldn't be able to get any sleep until the adults went to sleep because Mommy would be making Tim laugh and Tim's laugh would be rattling the windows.  But she was slightly wrong.  The loudest laughs did indeed come from Tim, but the person causing those raucous outbursts was Emma Jane.  And she delivered them with the most matter of fact face.  As we all grabbed our bellies because we hurt so much she just sat there in repose waiting for the noise to die down so she could deliver the second wave.  She killed.

Tim and I met when he was a third year medical student.  I was walking down a hallway and he was talking to someone when I overheard him say "tiller and rudder".  I walked up to him and interrupted his conversation and said "my name is Emily and what did you just say about a sailboat?".  The rest is history.  He came to our lake 2 days later on Saturday and brought his boat.  We were out sailing when the wind died and we motored over to the "green goose" and asked if they needed a tow back to shore.  He had dinner with us that evening and started crewing with Mike on race days.  He met others at our lake and made fast friends.  When he graduated from med school we lost him to residency in Chicago.  But we still kept in touch and he and his lovely bride Bri asked Emma Jane to be their flower girl. 

On a beautiful, cloudless day we loaded up Tim and Bri and Sue and Cassie and went sailing.  It was perfect.  We had great friends who would rather be on a boat than any other place on earth.  We had great weather and the lake almost to ourselves.  This is Cassie.  Emma Jane was the flower girl in her wedding which you can read about here.

We love Cassie.  She was a strong, confident, independent girl.  Now she is a strong, confident, independent woman.  And her husband is serving his country and won't be back for a year.  Whew...that is one tough girl right there.

These are our dear friends Tim and Bri.  We were meant to meet.

As I mentioned earlier, Emma killed.  She had us all in stitches.  We scared the gulls away we laughed so hard.

Something unusual happened on Sunday.  Emma Jane got seasick.  She was down below playing with her sister and the waves were choppy and she got motion sickness.  She put on her life jacket and came up top and was very quiet.  She was staring at the horizon and I knew something was wrong.  Then she turned to the back of the boat and lost all her lunch.  This has never happened before.  I was sad for her and explained that everyone on board had gotten seasick at one time or another (I'm actually not sure Mike ever has).  After about 7 minutes of recovery and washing her mouth out with water she quietly delivered another zinger to reenter the conversation.  Tim Teel said "she's baaacckk".  And just like that our little comedian was feeling better.

I tell this story so you will know why this picture is so funny.  I was taking a picture of Tim and Bri (see above) when I asked Emma Jane to join the photo.  As she walked across the boat Tim smarted off with a comment about vomiting or not vomiting.  As her mama, I immediately thought that her feelings might be hurt by Tim's comments.  But without missing a beat she grabbed his hat off his head and did this...

We all erupted in laughter again.  I will move over now and make room for the new queen of comedy.  Consider the torch passed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Emma Jane and Target

When Emma Jane was three years old, we had three different "incidents" in Target.

1.  At this time in my life I had two computers at home, (Mac and PC) both with huge monitors.  So Emma Jane thought I had one big computer, except she didn't say computer quite right.  We were in the stationery section of Target when she saw a store clerk using a small net-book to do inventory.  It was tiny.  Emma was not impressed with his small computer. She walked over to him and pulled on his pant leg.  When she had his attention she pointed to me and said "my Mama has a BIG pooter".  I just smiled and nodded while I mouthed the words "'s huge".  What else could I do?

2.  Also that same summer, we would jump off the back of the boat and swim back to the ladder and she always wanted to race.  She would dog paddle as fast as she could and we would say how we were going to beat her to the ladder.  One day we were walking down the big aisle when she suddenly said "Mama, I will race you to the toy section!"  So I was feeling playful and started to chase her.  She took off running yelling "don't beat me, Mama...don't beat me!"  She meant 'don't beat me to the toy section'.  As I chased her down the aisle I saw several moms give me the evil eye because they thought I was about to hit my child.  I did not beat her...

3.  We were getting a new camera battery at the electronics section of Target.  A young man was helping me and 3 year old Emma Jane was bored.  I was wearing a skirt and Emma was behind me and she decided to put my skirt over her head.  Now for the record, I was wearing underwear (very small underwear) when she exclaimed from underneath my skirt "Mom!  You are supposed to have panties on!!!!"  No less than six people turned to look at me and the battery guy dropped the camera and the battery onto the glass counter top.  As the battery rattled against the glass, I had to resist the urge to explain to the people who had heard her, that in fact, I WAS WEARING UNDERWEAR.  I just grabbed the camera, pulled my 3 year old out from under my skirt and held my head high as I left the store.

You were warned...No Filter!


We have turned a corner in our relationship.  If you are still coming to this blog to read about our little part of the world then you must know that from this day forward, the filter is off.  We must be friends.  We must be close.  I must know you well enough to overshare.  Just so you know.  Consider yourself warned.

In my circle of friends and colleagues I am famous for my stories.  The craziest stuff happens to me.  And some really embarrassing things too.  But probably embarrassing things happen to you as well.  However, I bet you don't tell everyone.  You probably keep those things to yourself.  You probably edit yourself and decide that some stories are best left untold.  Well, not me.

I am going to try to retell some of the best stories in the next few weeks.  Most of you have heard these, but some of you have not.  And since this is mostly a journal for myself, I feel it is important to record these in detail.  (Sorry, Mike!)

There are so many categories.  Stories involving kids, stories involving poop (I told you...I warned you), stories that prove that I really am half blonde.  Where to start...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Great Salt Plains

This past weekend we went camping.  We packed up our truck in Tulsa and drove over to the Lazy E Arena near Guthrie.  We went to the Wilderness Expo that is put together by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.  We spent the day learning about bats, spiders, migrating birds and fish.  Emma Jane got to shoot a BB gun and both girls shot a bow and arrow.

Emma got two bulls-eyes and one shot right off of bulls-eye.  Her dad might be taking her for target practice soon.

Mike took the girls in a kayak and we ran into our friends Sean and Amy!  What a nice surprise!

After a fun day at the Expo we drove about two hours to the Salt Plains State Park to camp for the night.  We got there a little before dusk and quickly made camp next to the Great Salt Plains lake.  This area was covered by an ocean in prehistoric times and the salt is left over from the sea bed.  The lake is a salt lake with about half the salinity of the oceans.

The campground was fairly empty and we had a secluded spot near the sandy beach.  We didn't realize it as we were making camp but we were pitching our tent right in the middle of a field of burrs.  These little sharp burrs got into your shoes, attached themselves to your socks and came through the tarp and through the floor of the tent and directly into your knee right below the patella...OUCH!

As the sun was setting and we were trying to hurry up and get our camp set up, I glanced skyward and saw that the sun was turning the clouds a pink hue that could best be described as cotton candy pink.  Emma started jumping towards the clouds to catch the cotton candy in her hands.  It was fleeting and only lasted about 2 minutes before the spun-sugar-clouds disappeared.

Lucy helped hammer the stakes into the ground around the tent.

Then we sat around the campfire and cooked brats and s'mores and sang songs.

The coyotes were the predominant soundtrack for our night.  They would call in bursts of fierce crying and howling.  It sounded like there were young pups trying to imitate the older ones.  Something would set them off and they would yelp and holler and call and whine and howl in a big tangled song of frenzied crying.  Then they would suddenly stop and leave you wondering if they were busy tracking something or eating or moving.  And just as suddenly something would set them off again and their calls were coming from another direction which was disorienting and exciting.

The night was a cool one and we were all very tired.  We collapsed onto our sleeping bags which were on top of thin foam, hoping not to get any prickly burrs in our behinds.  We fell asleep listening to the frenzy of the coyotes and the calm hoots of the owls.  We all got a little cold in the night but camping is best done when the nights are cool.  It was absolutely perfect.

The next morning we made breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, coffee and hot chocolate before we set out exploring the nearby beach.

We saw coyote tracks very near our tent.

And creepy buzzards sitting in a dead tree warming their wings with the morning sun before flying away.

We spent quite a bit of time along this beach.  It was a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

Emma borrowed the big camera and shot a bunch of pictures of fish skeletons.  But the photo I like best of hers is this one.

After exploring the beach we packed up our campsite and headed for the Great Salt Plains.

This salt plain is all that is left of an ocean that was once covering this land.  We came here to dig for Selenite Crystals.  Are you ready for a science lesson? 

Selenite Crystal ClusterSelenite is a crystallized form of gypsum. Chemically, it is a hydrous calcium sulfate. Gypsum is a common mineral that takes on a great variety of crystal forms and shapes. On the Salt Plains, the crystals are formed just below the salt encrusted surface. They are seldom found deeper than 2 feet below the surface.

Crystals take on the characteristics of their environment; the finer the soil, the more clear the crystals. Iron oxide in the soil gives the crystals their chocolate brown color.

Because these crystals form in wet soil, sand and clay particles are included within the crystal. These particles often form an "hourglass" shape inside the crystal. This hourglass shape cannot be found in selenite crystals in other places of the world; it is only found here at the Salt Plains of NW Oklahoma.

So we set out on this barren moonscape to dig for crystals.

 Boy did we have fun!  And did we ever get dirty!  We were covered in sand, salt and mud.  Lucy had to go potty so I told her to step down into one of the holes someone else had dug.  When she did, she started sinking into what appeared to be quick sand.  I grabber her arm and started pulling her out right as the mud was up to her ankles.  I am afraid she will never use the bathroom outside again.  It scared her and scarred her.

Does this remind you of the movie Holes?

I love this picture.  It makes it look like Lucy worked really hard this day.  When the reality is far from the picture you might be getting from these photographs.

My little scientist was in heaven.  She loves geology and going to Utah this summer has fed that curiosity.  To bring her here to this salt plain was the perfect trip to foster her love of the earth and rocks.  She has a perspective that is beyond her years.  She seems to grasp that the earth has a history that is so far beyond human beings.  That kind of understanding takes a maturity that usually comes so much later in life.

We found lots of crystals.

(iPhone shot from the ground with focus on the soil right in front of the phone)

We had an amazing weekend.  It is another family memory we will treasure.  It took a lot more planning than spending the day at the fair, but it was worth all the time and effort.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Laundry, Lists and Lessons

I wish I could report that my two week absence from blogging is due to some amazing trip or creative streak in the craft room.  However, my two week absence from blogging has been filled with dishes, laundry, homework, and yard work.  Sometimes the mundane act of keeping a family running takes over and you feel like you are swimming in tasks.  Lucy recently said to me "I don't want to do homework."  I answered her with "about 90% of the things I did today were things I didn't want to do".  Wow...really?  Is there really only 10% of my day that can be categorized as things I want to do?

Do I want to pack lunches, cook dinner, unload the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, check sentence structure, prod children to pick up toys, fold laundry, wipe counter tops, test med students, answer emails, answer phones, troubleshoot technology, train new employees, write checks, work on x and y graphs, explain character development, pick up toys, explain how grapes become raisins, make a grocery list, clean out the fridge, eat raisins, sniff expired yogurt, and shave my arm pits?  Not really.

So is this all?  Am I just stuck in a structured rut?  A rut that is so deep that I can't see the sun except when it is directly overhead?  (10% of the day)  I can't see the sunrise or sunset because I am so entrenched.  I wonder if everyone gets this feeling.  Trapped by chores.  Shackled by responsibility.  I was thinking about how we have moved from the needy toddler stage into the independent kid stage.  Then I realized that Emma and I are sitting down for 2 hours a night to work on homework. I have traded a dependent Lucy for a dependent Emma?

Speaking of homework...  Emma Jane has to write a story about her family.  When I asked her what she was going to write about her family, she was stumped for a bit.  But then she said, "it's too bad we have not been through anything like the revolutionary war.  Now that would be something to write about!"  I apologized for not living in a different era.  She then asked if anyone we knew had been sold as a slave.  I said no and again apologized for not living in a more interesting time.  Then she asked if I knew that it was once illegal for black people to vote.  I said yes.  She then asked how they could ever gain the right to vote if they couldn't vote to change the law.  I told her that sometimes the Government will step in and right something that the voters won't fix.  Then she said "when will the Government fix it so Uncle Greg and Heath can get married?"  Soon, I hope.  And then I apologized a third time for the current era in which we live.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ipoh White Coffee

Tonight I am thinking about Ipoh white coffee and the monkeys calling to us from the cliffs behind How King's house.  I am thinking of how the tile felt on my bare feet and the humidity of the jungle seeping through all the windows.  I am remembering the morning chants coming from houses and the smell of incense burning in the Aunt How King's Buddhist temple.  I am thinking that a year ago I was in my father's homeland.  I am thinking about how my Auntie was insistent that we eat and eat and eat. 

No thank you Auntie, I don't really eat breakfast.

Okay, Emily, you get shoes on, we go eat now.

No really Auntie, I am good with just this banana and coffee.  I'm not hungry.

Okay, Emily, you finish your banana, and we go eat.  Fetch Timothy!

(Enter Timothy from the staircase)  Good morning Timothy! We are going to eat now. 

Oh, I really just need a cup of coffee Auntie.

Okay, then we go eat.  You and Emily put shoes on, and we go eat... Come...  Robert?

I miss you cousins, aunts and uncles.  I loved getting to know your lives and culture.  I carry all of you with me every day.  And when I get out my tea kettle to boil water and drink Ipoh White Coffee out of my Ten-Good mug, I think of my brother Timothy and our great adventure last year.

It is my bedtime here in Oklahoma and my cousins are at work on a Wednesday morning (or school, Kin Kin).  The sun is bright on their side of the planet and my thoughts are with them.  I will dream of their flowers and rain and jungles and monkeys and food and cities and beaches...but most of all, I will dream of my family.

Friday, September 7, 2012

One year ago...

On September 7, 2011, I started a blog.  I started it the night before I left the country to go to Malaysia.  I wasn't sure if I would have much to say once I returned home, but it has been a prolific year.

What I envisioned when I started is different than what I have now.  I thought I would have more crafting posts and less technology posts.  I didn't think that photography would have a primary place on my blog.  I always knew that my girls would be the focus of my blog but I didn't realize how much time it would take to write down all the little stories.

On this one year anniversary, I was looking at my statistics and I wanted to share a few things with you in hopes that you will share with me.

I have had 16,440 page views in one year from 27 different countries.

Now I am going to ask you to share with me.  Will you please leave a comment here on my blog (not on Facebook for today) telling me where you are from and how you found me?  I am very interested to know how you came across my blog and where you are in this big old world.

Even if you just know me from school or work, would you leave a comment?  Please????