Saturday, September 29, 2012

Art, Pragmatics, and a Big Garden

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . exploring Descanso Gardens with my kids and some friends this morning.  It was cute to see Joy help Daniel cross a stream.

. . . kissing Anna's hair.

. . . Joy creating a picture to show me that she loves me.

. . . seeing Daniel's big smile.

And another thing . . .

. . . I had an interesting thought about Mitt Romney this evening. On NPR today they noted that Romney insists he will reverse the trend of outsourcing manufacturing to China, yet in the past he has invested in firms with factories there. Other reporters have noted that Romney vows to create jobs, yet as a CEO he often cut them. As I reflected on all this tonight, it occurred to me that Romney is probably more of a pragmatist than a hypocrite, doing what needs to be done to achieve his goal in a given situation.

As an investor, he wanted to maximize returns so he invested in companies that knew how to keep costs down (by manufacturing in China). As a CEO, he wanted to make his company as profitable as possible, and sometimes that meant streamlining by cutting some jobs. As leader of this country his goals would change, it makes sense that his tactics would, too.

Manufacturing in China and cutting jobs may be good for a company, but since they are bad for our country I can easily see him working to reverse those trends as president. In each case, he would be playing the game by the rules as he understands them, which isn’t so different from Obama decrying super PACs, yet accepting their money and help because he will lose the election if he doesn’t play the game by those unsavory rules.

The trouble with electing a pragmatist, though, is that right now the game of presidential candidacy requires him to say whatever a majority of people want to hear so we will elect him. Consequently, I’m not sure what goals he actually intends to pursue as CEO of America. I think he’ll do a very capable job of achieving them, but that’s small comfort when I have no clue what they really are, or how they line up with my values.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sinatra and Granola

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . dancing with my sweetheart.  A friend invited Phillip and me to a dinner with ballroom dancing afterward, and though we've forgotten most of what we learned from our dance class last year, some of it came back once we were out on the dance floor.  It was fun to swing, cha cha (very poorly), and even learn a simple line dance to a Frank Sinatra song.  I would love to go out dancing more, even if it is at a venue where the average age is three decades older than mine.

And another thing . . .

. . . in my youth, my concept of a hippie was a long-haired, underwashed pacifist with loose morals, swaying to the music at Woodstock.  I never really identified with that image, yet lately I've started to wonder if I'm turning into a hippie in some ways.   Among other things, that movement had a counter-culture, back-to-nature vibe that I see reflected in my increasing number of do-it-yourself projects.

I bake my own bread and make my own yogurt, and today I washed two similar loads of laundry to compare the performance of my old store-bought detergent and a simple homemade laundry detergent with no grated soap in it (they seem to perform the same, so I'll stick with the homemade one which is much cheaper).  As the clothes were washing, I made my own granola.  While listening to Jimi Hendrix.  OK, I'm kidding about Hendrix, but not about the granola.

I'm not sure how I transformed from a teenager who was content to buy everything from professional "experts" to a thirty-something who likes to make an ever-increasing number of things myself.  Perhaps it's because as a college freshman I had friends who asked what would happen if some disaster took those professionals out of the picture, and I had to fend for myself with my own skills.  I recall driving past nearby farmland and realizing that I could be stranded on the most fertile land on Earth, and I'd starve because I wouldn't know what to do with it.  I didn't freak out and go sign up for an agriculture class, but the desire to be more self-reliant has stayed with me.  There are still many things I prefer to leave to the professionals, but I derive a certain satisfaction from slowly but steadily learning to make more things myself.

Maybe I'll tackle cheese next.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Laundry Buddy and a Question for Walt

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . doing laundry with Daniel.  I love that he likes to come out back with me every time I go to start a load or move it to the dryer.

And another thing . . .

. . . we watched Sleeping Beauty at my parents' house on Sunday, and Joy is still asking me questions about it, such as "Why did the bad woman turn into a dragon?" and "Why did the fairies leave Aurora alone in that room?" and "Why didn't the bad woman change the spell back so Aurora would die after all?"  I've see the movie plenty of times and have a decent working knowledge of human nature, so I can answer most of her queries, but a few are beyond me (especially since I never thought to ask them before).  Why DIDN''T Maleficent change the spell back?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gutters, Terror, and Proper Spelling

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing Joy speak sharply to her brother, and realizing she sounded just like me.  Sometimes it's absolutely terrifying to realize what an impact my actions and attitude have on these little people God has entrusted to me.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . taking a pleasant stroll with the kids when we dropped Joy off at school.  I showed Joy a storm drain and explained what it was for; Daniel and I admired the flat, yellow mushrooms growing on some of the trees; and I did a little yoga every time I waited for Daniel to catch up to me on the way home.  It was kind of fun to watch him meander; sometimes he would wander behind a bush or a tree, and all I could see of him was his shadow.

. . . giving the kids a ride in a friend's swing that he occasionally hangs from a tree branch at a park.  Phillip and I took a ride in it, too, but we had to stand since the seat was made for smaller tushes.

. . . utilizing the mighty internet to ascertain the correct spelling of "tush."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Double Fly-Over

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . losing my keys.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . finding my keys.

. . . finally getting the girls' hair cut.  They both look cute.

. . .  seeing the Space Shuttle Endeavor fly over us astride a 747 while I was out walking with Daniel and Anna.   I had just thought, "Wow--that was a once-in-a-lifetime treat," when it flew over us a second time going a different direction.  I guess it was a TWICE-in-a-lifetime treat.  Of course, Daniel was still more excited to see the train that passes near our home dozens of times each day.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sunlight and Shadow

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . attending my father-in-law's burial today.  I enjoyed last week's memorial service, with its warm remembrances of a father, brother, and friend.  By contrast, today seemed so grim and final.  I know we will see Dad H again some day, but it's still hard to say goodbye in such a concrete way.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Anna shivering with excitement and kicking her feet every single time she put a plastic toy in one of her colored cups.  Her enthusiasm over that little achievement is so cute.

. . . our little family all snuggling together in a heap on the floor after dinner. It was sweet to glance over and see Joy’s big smile and twinkling eyes a few inches from my face.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"H" is for Honey and Hugs

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hugging Anna.  The simple, straightforward sweetness of cuddling a baby is such welcome relief from the hectic rush of the day.

. . . Joy drawing a smiling picture of Daniel for the "D" page of her alphabet homework.

. . . eating chicken nuggets with a little honey.  I always liked them best that way as a kid, and tonight I discovered that I still do.

. . . learning that Joy's best friend at school is both empathetic and studious.  My best school friends were, too. :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jigging Duel and the Expert Hider

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing Anna do all sorts of new, "big girl" things every day, like putting things in a box instead of just taking them out, and crawling off to try something new instead of just crying because she's bored.  I'm glad she's growing up, but I'm also glad she still cuddles.

. . . my youngest preschool student finding the absolute awesomest hiding place when we played hide-and-seek this morning.

. . . Anna nearly falling over with excitement after she successfully put a toy in a cup.  Simple pleasures.

. . . reading about Grandma and Uncle George's jigging duel in Little House in the Big Woods.  That and the maple sugar snow are the only things I remember from reading it many, many years ago.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Family Bonding and the Green Goblin

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . waking up feeling more tired than when I finally went to bed last night.

. . . let's just say that potty training is an ongoing process.  I'll spare you the details.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . cuddling Anna, playing Uno with Daniel, reading with Joy, hugging Phillip.  You know--the usual stuff. :)

. . . making a Green Goblin smoothie:

Green Goblin 

1 big handful of fresh spinach (don't look at me like that--it's good for you and you can't even taste it)
1 cup frozen mango
1 cup frozen pineapple
1 banana (NOT frozen*)
1 thin slice of fresh ginger (about the size of a nickel)
1/2 tsp honey (optional)
just enough water to make the whole thing blendable (I like my smoothies thick)

Serves 2 (if you're in the mood to share)

*If you add frozen banana to the mix, you'll have to add too much water to make it blendable, and that will dilute the flavor too much.  Of course, if you have pineapple juice on hand, by all means use a frozen banana and add as much juice as you want to.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hot and Dry

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . the big kids jumping off the couch to make Anna laugh.

. . . making and eating Breakfast Cookies this afternoon.  I know I'm  craving cookies when I don't care that it's 102 degrees outside.  By golly, I'm firing up the oven anyway!  And while I wouldn't necessarily tout these as breakfast food, when Phillip got home late this evening he just had cookies and grapes for dinner.  Since they're mostly oats and peanut butter they're healthy, right?

. . . actually getting through an entire day without any potty training accidents.  Yes!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Doodle, a Weed, and Lots of Splashing

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . sleeping in.  Thanks for holding down the fort, Phillip.

. . . Daniel coloring a picture.  It was just a bunch of random squiggles with two different colored pens, but it's cool to see him being creative.  I put his doodle right on our fridge for all to admire.

. . . reflecting that the goal of this life is for us to learn to love and respect God and His children (including ourselves).  If we're a doormat, we're not loving and respecting ourselves as a child of God.  If we're selfish or overbearing, we're not loving and respecting others as children of God.  If we're rebellious, we're not loving and respecting God, who really just wants to show us how to avoid a lot of heartache and experience lasting joy.

. . . swimming with the kids this afternoon.  Both the big kids are becoming very confident in the water, and it's fun to watch Anna splash.

. . . reading more of Josh Weed's blog.  It gives rich food for thought about what it means (and doesn't mean) to be gay.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stressed Sprinter

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy praying that she'll grow up to be a good mom, and not be stressed like I am.  Sigh.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . running to the laundry room and back.  Sometimes it just feels good to run.

. . . giving Daniel a big hug.

. . . Anna happily kicking her feet in the pool.

. . . snuggling with my sweetheart.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Whoopie and the Wrong House

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . driving Daniel to preschool and discovering I had taken him to the wrong house, which is ten times further from our home than where he was supposed to be.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing with Anna on the bed and hearing her giggle.

. . . reading NieNie's post about a whoopie cushion.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Family Reunion of Sorts

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . a potty accident.  Daniel has made a lot of progress, but we're not entirely out of the woods yet.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . attending Dad H's funeral.  It seems odd to say that I enjoyed an event that has a reputation for being so somber, but it was sweet to hear so many fond memories of Dad, and I loved seeing many relatives that we don't get visit with often.  Plus, the funeral didn't represent a goodbye to me, but rather a warm remembrance of someone we look forward to seeing again after this life.

. . . Joy having a blast playing with her second cousins.

. . . talking with Dad's younger brother Steve.  He's such a warm, friendly guy, and he has so many little mannerisms that remind me of Dad.

. . . Phillip's sister Laura coming over to visit for a while before she flew home tonight.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Birthday Party Snafu

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel spitting up ten minutes before relatives arrived for Anna's birthday party.  Earlier I had been rather surprised at how much he ate for dinner, and apparently his stomach shared my incredulity.  Other than that, the party went well.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . someone playing a beautiful piano number in church.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Roses and Godspeed

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Phillip's dad passing away at the hospital this morning.  He's been in a coma for several days so we knew it was coming, but it's still rough.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching someone carry a dozen roses down the hospital hall to brighten somebody's day.

. . . talking with the big kids about their school days - who shared what items, what songs they sang, what the snack was, etc.

. . . Anna gleefully splashing in her bath.

. . . Daniel staying dry all day and going to the bathroom without being reminded.  Yessssss.

. . . my visiting teacher watching my kids so I could go to a book group meeting.  Thanks - I really needed that.  Thanks also to others who have helped this week, and to many more who would if we asked.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Noses and Teeth

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . getting my finger caught in Anna's teeth at lunch time.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing Anna smile when I gave her an Eskimo kiss.

. . . discovering a recipe for pumpkin cornbread through Pinterest.  Oh yeah--I'm totally trying that this month.

. . . going to a wedding reception with my sweetheart.  The venue was elegant, but what made the evening truly lovely was the obvious love family and friends had for the bride and groom.

. . . talking with our babysitter as I drove her home.  I know my children are sweet and fun, but to hear her talk you'd think the were the most delightful kids in the entire world.  We don't hire a babysitter often, but when we do I love to leave them with someone who likes them so much and makes the evening so fun for them.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tempting Fate

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . more potty training woes.  I don't want to talk about it and you don't want to hear about it.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . some potty training progress, plus a friend recommended a method that worked very well for her kids.  I think I'll try it.

And another thing . . .

. . . Joy and I started On the Banks of Plum Creek today, and Pa Ingalls keeps saying how easy and perfect things are going to be.  If you are a fictional character (or even a non-fictional one), never EVER do this.  You are just asking for fate to kick you in the teeth, and she isn't shy about doing it.