Friday, November 27, 2009

Hooray for Diary of a Wimpy Kid!!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Ever heard of it? Ever had a kid who didn't really see the thrill of reading? Well, if your reluctant reader is anywhere close to seven, eight, or even nine years old, then you'd better run to the bookstore and grab the red one, the blue one, the green one, and the yellow one! Once it grabs your young reader's attention, at least two things will happen: 1. your child will read for longer periods of time than you ever imagined would happen without the threat of flying monkeys, and 2. you are going to be grinning bigger than the goofiest person you've ever seen.
No kidding.
James was immersed in the Wimpy Kid books when he read them last year. That's not that much of a surprise, since he likes to read and he's a boy who can easily identify with the Wimpy Kid. Ah, but Kate, Kate does not like to read very much. Almost every "book" she has freely chosen at a bookstore has been a journal with blank pages for drawing or a book used as packaging background for the necklace or pen or other trinket accompanying it. To be fair, her ability to read aloud has grown with leaps and bounds since this summer, but until this week she hadn't experienced being "glued to an interesting book." Diary of a Wimpy Kid reeled her in hard. . .she started reading the other night, read to page 38, and got up yesterday morning with the intention of finishing that book by the end of Turkey Day. That book has 217 pages, so this was a lofty goal. She made it to page 197 by last night, though, and she finished it today! Hooray for Kate! Hooray for reading (because the better you read, the better you write, and you know how that goes on from there)! Hooray for Wimpy Kid books!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful 4:

  • FAMILY (goes without saying!)
  • kitchen window view of the sunrise over the farmfield
  • fuzzy yellow striped cat waiting on the porch
  • snuggly 7 year old who doesn't really want to get up yet
  • still sorta snuggly but slightly grownup 8 year old who would like to read the sports section of the paper if i've been outside to get it
  • not-a-morning person spouse who manages a half smile instead of a frown at o'darkthirty
  • the feel of wet grass at the edges of my flip flops as i walk across the yard
  • toes that don't mind wet grass and flip flops in november
  • blue jays trying to hide acorns from the backyard under the tree in the front yard
  • any dark roasted, bold flavored coffee bean that finds its way into my grinder
  • favorite coffee cups, be they old or new, big or small
  • the luxury of having enough dishes to be able to choose favorites
  • the luxury of having the freedom to write about whatever i want
  • the luxury of having the freedom to say yes when others say no, to say no when others say yes, and to not have to say why i choose what i choose
  • the memory of standing in the Jefferson Memorial at night, craning my neck to take in the glorious quote around the ceiling
  • torches that melt glass
  • dark ivory glass and gravity
  • glass melting friends from around the world
  • books, all kinds
  • charlotte's web, reading it as a third grader and feeling as if you're sitting in the barn with wilbur and charlotte because the story is so real
  • ma and pop sitting on the porch with their coffee
  • a bubby who lets me dig through the scraps in his shop
  • a soupie who is just too damn funny!
  • nieces and nephews, near and far
  • milk chocolate
  • roasted red peppers and asparagus
  • catching a football pass from james while getting ready to return katie's soccer ball kick
  • knowing someone, somewhere in the world, will read these and think, "yep, that's something i love, too" and "wow, never thought about that" and "i am thankful for so many things, too"

May your Thanksgiving Day be a joy. . .life is good :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yet Another Difference Between Venus and Mars

Here's the scene: Saturday morning. One kiddo slept over at a friend's house last night. The other kiddo brought two of her friends to spend the night. All of said friends live in the old hometown, 25 miles away. Husband volunteers to pick up the boy later since he's driving that way anyway. Girls are going to stay here and play most of the day. Wife has cooked breakfast for everyone, brought glasses of ice water to their chairs, handed out extra napkins, handed out more eggs, cut the crust off more toast, and started cleaning up the crumbs. You know, all the stuff a mom does because she's the go-to person when someone needs help with something. Husband says, in all seriousness, "So, Bunny, what are you going to do today?"

So, he wondered why I had to give him a smartass remark to that question. In all fairness, while I'm standing here still half dressed in a crazy hybrid of pajamas and yesterday's jeans, I think to myself, "Well, maybe he was just trying to be nice and actually pay attention to me, and look at how I grouched at him in response." Hmmmmm. So, I help get a blanket for the sidewalk, a piece of cardboard for a painting surface, dig out pieces of craft wood shapes that each kiddo can paint, pick out paintbrushes, pour out paints and talk about the colors, watch the paintings being created, come inside for a few minutes to check my email, go back outside to discover the girls have progressed to splatter painting, explain who Jackson Pollack is, come inside to google Pollack so they can see some pictures, clean paint off hands, pick up paint before cat walks through it, and still I'm thinking about the difference between mom-ability and dad-ability. Another mom wouldn't have asked "What are you going to do today?" She would've asked something along the lines of "What are the girls going to do today?" or said something like "I'm sure they're going to have fun!" Another mom would know that it's fun having a house full of kids doing things, but the to-do lists don't really belong in the day's scenario.

Hmmm, I think again. And that is when I decide for sure. Mars, hell. . . this man has to be from another freaking galaxy. Either that, or some wicked smartass higher power plucked me from a galaxy far away, plopped me down on Venus, and gleefully sat back with the higher power equivalent of a big bowl of popcorn in anticipation of a really funny movie being played out when I got matched up with this being from Mars! Ha. Ha. Hee. Hee. Well, I gotta say I guess it is kinda funny when you think about it!

P.S. You should see some of the splatter paintings drying on the counter right now! They used jewel tone greens, blues, and purples, plus a dash of bright golden orange. . .it's a very pretty peacock feather palette of splatters!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Have Any Hide 'n Seek Memories?

The kiddos are playing hide 'n seek again this morning. Remember playing that? Is there really anything more fun than a good game of hide 'n seek, one with lots of sneaky players and lots of good hiding spots? Torie hid under the shirts in Uncle Ricky's closet last night, and James walked past and looked in at her at least twice without finding her. I couldn't resist peeking in the closet when I heard the slightest "ting" from hangers swinging against each other. James hid under the stairs in the basement, and Kate and Torie searched "The Dungeon" gingerly after I told Kate that the noises she heard might be a mouse under the stairs. Right now, Torie is giving James and Kate another challenge. Oops! Just heard the screech of recognition when Torie popped her head out from the hallway. Time for another game to begin!

You know what I remember about hide 'n seek? I remember playing it with Tracy and my brother and sister at the Isgrigg's house. Tracy was an Isgrigg grandchild, but the younger children weren't a whole lot older than us. . .just older enough to not want to play hide 'n seek, but not too old to not want to be bothered with the game. It's been a long time ago, and my memory is not always crystal clear, but it seems like some of the best scares came from the teenagers jumping out of a closet unexpectedly and from hearing the "this hallway is haunted" stories. The details are dim, but I can still close my eyes and "feel" like I am standing in that hallway wondering whether anyone was in the closet in front of me. What fun!

So, howzabout you? Got any good hide 'n seek memories or tricky tips for winning the game?

Friday, November 13, 2009


Little bit of what's new with us. . .Howzabout with you?
  • Emily Littlefield makes another Garren cousin! Actually, she's the daughter of James and Kate's cousin Amanda. That means Uncle Mike and Aunt Nancy are busy being grandparents (times four)!
  • Oh, and yet another Garren cousin is 16! Hope it was a great birthday, Tanner!
  • It was another short school week for James and week, they have to go all five days! Whew, what a rough school schedule. Good thing Thanksgiving break is coming up :)
  • Kate is having fun thinking about what she wants to do at Grandma and Granddaddy's over Thanksgiving.
  • James is immersed in football. NFL rules! (Make that the Colts Rule!)
  • I have one, two, maybe three unfinished projects. Hmmm, this new house feels more like home every day, LOL.


That's all 4 now! Have yourselves a wonderful weekend!

Monday, November 9, 2009

We Ate Like Kings!

"We ate like kings!" declared young James.
Translation: Mom tried to fix a campfire ring with a grill circle inset at the edge. She didn't leave spaces between the "perfect edge" pavers she bought to make the ring. This didn't matter for the ring because it is only going to be two pavers high and a good six foot in diameter. Not leaving spaces in each layer did matter for the much smaller grill circle, though. It could have been that the pine needles Kate and I carried from the garbage can storage bin had gotten wet sometime in the last week, or it could have been that the fire couldn't get enough air, but whatever the cause, Mom's charcoal fire barely caught. Kate and I drank part of a Coke apiece while we waited for the fire to get hot enough to cook our hot dogs. We traipsed up the hill to the house to fetch the marshmallows, and then we trudged back up there to get the Doritos and the hot dogs and buns. We drug chairs from the patio to the campfire ring that wasn't quite a Ring of Fire. We swung on the swingset, watched the cats inspect Mom's progress, and tried to see Mom through all the smoke wafting from the pine needles. We watched Mom hack a few short twigs off a tree so we could use them to hold our marshmallows in the fire (when/if the fire finally got going). Mom said the charcoal was glowing in one teeny spot, so we poked our twigs and marshmallows close to the heat as possible while debating whether or not our marshmallows were browning or burning. Mom loaded the unopened hot dog package, the hot dog buns, her Diet Coke, the matches, the Doritos, and the marshmallows into our wagon and pulled it back up the hill. Katie had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and I had a hot dog cooked on the stove. Oh, man, it was a fun evening! Those marshmallows were delicious! We ate like kings!
See, there was a reason I didn't attempt to mortar those pavers into permanent position. I knew there would be something I'd want to change! I knew how much I enjoy just messing around and creating on the fly instead of calculating and planning to the nth degree beforehand. I'll rearrange the grill circle pavers today so they have more open spaces between the layers.
I jokingly told Kate yesterday, "Why don't you go outside while I do the lunch dishes and finish that ring for me?" When I looked out the back window, she was busy working on something in the ring. When I got close enough, I could see that Miss Big Girl had carried nineteen pavers one at a time and placed them inside the ring I'd already laid! It looked great, so today I'll start digging the grass out and laying that row on the outside of the ring where it will show up.
So, library internet time is about up for me for today. The kiddos are bound to remember that I said we could try the fire again tonight!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Infra-structure, Infra-inspiration

This huge culvert links our side of the ditch to the neighbor's side of the ditch. You can bet it holds a fascination for the kids, and Daddy has let them walk through it while he was standing there with them. They were enthralled with being able to stand up in a pipe and walk under the road. Of course, worrying-Mom had misgivings about letting them near it. Teach-'em-how-to-handle-situations-Dad made sure they kept their footing on dry spots, showed them how to tell how deep the water is with a stick, and explained how all the water running off the fields ends up in the neighbors' ditch and then flows through to our ditch. So, the Mom held her breath, let them learn, made extra noises about never coming to the ditch without a grownup, and then scurried down the rocks and into the tunnel. The giggles exploded at the sight of Mommy straddling the running water and scooting along to the opening to peer out at the water! Then, ohmygosh, Mom swung around the edge of the pipe and climbed up the rocks to our side of the ditch.

You know, I let my kids do lots of things, and I am proudest of them when they think independently. . .and yet, I'm always finding myself telling them to not do something because "it's too dangerous" or "look how you're going to get hurt if you fall from there." The culvert is a case in point. If I only had to worry about myself, then I would've been in that culvert in a flash (without the above mentioned hesitations), checking out the different textures of the worn metal, watching the pattern of the flow of water, dipping a hand over the edge, enjoying the sounds until a car passed over and startled me. I took this picture this morning, long after the swells of rainwater flooding the ditch over the past week have receded. The bricks and old hunks of concrete that have been jammed into a makeshift retaining wall around the pipe are full of intrigue. The colors are subtle rusts and grays, with a smidgeon of barely perceptible purples smattered here and there. The culvert itself begs me to get closer and take some closeups of the myriad textures as the sun lands on them. Is it any wonder that I want to clear out a small spot under the trees lining the ditch, a sitting spot with just enough room for a chair?

When even a lowly piece of infrastructure makes for inspiration, boredom can never be an option!