Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Birthday D-man!

Four years is officially "little kid" territory!

I told him the story this morning of how he came to us, and this afternoon we will celebrate with a small group of friends. I loves my crazy-making little boy.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

She's fine today

It's as if nothing ever happened. I am afraid to think "outgrown," despite seven years of ardently working toward that goal. Appointments will be forthcoming.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Forgiveness? Updated.

I just made the biggest mistake of my life. God protects us all, but I hope my daughter will be fine. Take it out on me, not on her.

The church handed out bags of candy. Predictably (why do I even talk to people???) the bags were full of peanut candy. I took out all the PB from all the bags. This morning I let them have a piece each after breakfast.

She said "Mom, that candy tastes like it had sunbutter in the middle, but it was gross!" Immediately, the icy vice on my heart. Scramble to get the boys and self dressed. Administer the benadryl. Call the appropriate people. Wait for the cue to shoot her full of epinephrine. Wait.

Chuckling girl. "I feel fine, really. It tasted nasty but I am fine."

Go down the list of symptoms. "No!"

Why did you go to the bathroom? "I just had to pee, Mawwwwm."

Waiting. Still waiting.


She is still fine.

It has been 5 hours now and she has not reacted. Nothing. None of the symptoms, not even the lower GI stuff has occurred yet. I am in touch with her father and with the very allergy-conscious and wonderful pediatric office ( and have maintained standard protocols.

I would love to be optimistic and think that this is an amazing, beautiful Christmas gift--that she may have finally outgrown this allergic disease. I cannot, however, jump straight to that. The next twenty hours will be telling, and then we will be making an appointment for blood tests with an allergist promptly in the New Year. If you're the praying kind, please thank God for this boon, and pray for grace for our family.

And now the Silence?

The trees are green again. The natural world outside is 45 degrees and rainy. This is what has become "normal" for us, and I am grateful to be moving back into that quiet stillness. One of the things I liked about moving here was that seasons and holidays seemed to coincide nicely with the cultural calendar. Growing up in the subtropic, for instance, Christmas NEVER involved snow and sleds. Here, that could happen every year, even if we had to drive an hour to make it happen.

But the cultural backdrop to the holidays clashes horribly with the actual season. Many animals hibernate. Even we humans slow down, eat a bit more, grow sleepy with the shortened days that never really wake up to full sunlight here in the Northwest, anyway. The Solstice is supposed to be a time of meditation and preparation, of waiting for the coming light. I enjoy the preparation. I revel in the children's joy, the music (oh the music!) and the lights. Anything that passes for family tradition makes me feel a little more solid, more connected and this year's snowfall made for a storybook White Christmas and we all reveled in it. Still, let's just say I am not one to mourn the passing of the holidays.

I long for the stillness and the quiet that a homeschooling mother will never, so long as she homeschools, experience. But the kids too, do get reflective, and this time of year is incredible for their art and for their reading. They get the time indoors now to actually do the more involved science projects. It's a time where we really get to engage with one another and spend the time just as us, just as a family. That's a renewal I value, and it's worth starting the new year for that.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

We tried to wear them out

Day whatever-it-is of being snowbound with kids and a vacationing hubby.

Determined to escape cabin fever-- which I admit to starting to feel-- I started the day with a giant batch of pancakes for everyone. We had sausage, eggs and orange juice to go with it.

We all went ice-hill sledding again, this time with some inflatable sleds I'd purchased two years ago when I thought we were going up to Hurricane Ridge. Oddly enough, the baby-pull-along sled still fits D-meister and SCREAMS downhill faster than any of the others. The child is fearless, which is a good thing considering our near miss today. With three extra sleds, P-daddy and I were sledding too. We can't aim worth a damn, let's just say, and the three year old is clueless about "off the lane!" I was in one of the inflatables and D-meister was worse than a deer in the headlights-- he was completely nonplussed at my big behind barreling down the hill towards him. As he wouldn't get out of the way and I had no control whatever of the inflatable kiddie sled on a downhill ice slick, I scooped him into my lap as I bore down on him. That motion spun us round and round, faster and faster downhill. It was FUN, even when we crashed into the cliff wall, and the D-man never relinquished his hold on his own sled.

One of us needed to go to the bathroom, so we left. The kids sojourned outside, with P-daddy whipslinging them down our own icy road while I made the royal icing. We did our gingerbread house. Sometime after that we painted glass ornaments, another craft project I've had squirreled away for a couple of years. There was more kiddie craft stuff-- even this evening, when everything is supposed to be fresh on my mind, everything is beginning to blur. Today I chose not to take pictures, mindfully deciding to not have the camera as a distraction.

The big thing for me today though, aside from the sled scoopage, was my canning project at dinner time. Every year my Grandaddy made a mustard-based barbecue sauce and gave it away at Christmas. I suppose to the uninitiated, that sounds like a really weird Christmas gift, but I have first hand knowledge of the ferocity of our friend and family's desire for the stuff. As awful as it was when he passed, Christmas really seemed odd without his sauce on everything from the collard greens to the pulled pork. The last time he made it, my then-fiance was there to help him out. When I inherited the kitchen aid mixer I used to blend it, I had to clean the sauce splatter off of it. For beekeepers, the honey gets everywhere. For us, I guess it's the BBQ sauce.

My Grandmother gave me the recipe some time ago but I haven't had the heart to make it. Grandaddy had scribbled it down on a little spiral memo pad in his distinct script with no instructions. As far as I know, he never canned it. He funneled it into leftover ketchup or mustard squeeze containers and stripped the labels off. Heavy on the vinegar, I suppose the sauce didn't really require canning(we still had some of it when we moved to Washington) but I wanted to make sure. I made ten pints of it this evening while I roasted some chicken. (Only D-meister tried it but then he lapped it up like a little guinea pig.) I'd like to send these jars home to Charleston and brighten some kitchens, and maybe remind them of some Christmases past.

From yesterday-- the igloo is finished:

Monday, December 22, 2008

More snow overnight.

The shoveling has been un-shoveled and the footprints have been softened into ripples in the snow.

Each tree within view of our windows has every single twig coated with white snow. The trees are leaning under the weight, changing familiar surroundings into a completely different landscape. The strawberry pot we left on the back deck has now been covered over completely, and the rest of the deck is like P-daddy never touched it with his new toy. There is a rock retaining wall in my back yard that is no longer visible. Both dogs fell off it this morning when they went out. Then the blind poodle got lost in the snow and I had to go find him. Even I had a hard time-- the snow is now higher than the edges of my snow boots.

It's warmer today-- we're starting out at 32.2. That's higher than the predicted high of 32. I am hoping to be able to go to our Solstice party today. I suspect, though, the hosts will be cancelling it anyway. What a difference this experience has been from the same time period in 2006, having electricity instead of huddling in the dark! Today, two years ago in the afternoon hours, we got power back after being without for over a week.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Still more pix

Tomorrow the neighbors will rise to see that the spirit of Jack Frost went CRACK in my front yard.

It is indeed the shortest day of the year. While the light failed, my family didn't pause in making merry. G-meister and P-Daddy decided to igloo. Yes, really. While I fancied the lights glowing through their blanket of snow, the other two were shoveling the drive for the opportunity to stuff tidy cat buckets to make bricks. (The boys were in the house eating the last of my homemade apple pie that I baked yesterday.) It's like all-home week isn't it?

Snow Pirates in Gig Harbor!

Happy Winter Solstice!

Preparedness Rawks! Especially when you didn't actually need to prepare. We are well stocked for an extended power outage, in terms of food, fuel and clothes. However, all we got was a foot of snow. It's even warmer today than it was for the past week-- we're at a balmy 32 today!

Window condensation-- on the outside

We have a pretty steep downhill grade approaching our neighborhood beach. In weather like this, it becomes a great ski slope!

While down there, I got some shots of the frozen edges of Henderson Bay.

You've read "If you give a mouse a cookie." Consider, "If you give a P-daddy a snow shovel!" This is him next to his pile of snow that would later become a snowman.

He also had to shovel a path for the dogs so they could get outside to toilet themselves.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The snow, The snow

We got 6 inches of heavy snowfall yesterday, during which I experienced the idyllic winter home day. The snow kept falling all afternoon, which made a beautiful counterpoint to the crackling we kept fire going in the woodstove. The indoor and outdoor Christmas decorations looking so pretty against the snowfall, and everything came together with great holiday music and a fragrant holiday kitchen.

The children sledded most of the afternoon at a neighbor's house then had hot chocolate and snacks there. It was restive for me and exciting for them-- the perfect combination, I think.

The snow had just begun to fall when they started building snowmen.

About mid-day, right when it started to fall harder.

Snow The Day After

The Rose Garden in Repose

6 inches on the rainbow!

Baby It's Cold Outside! This hanging art is underneath the eaves.

Clearly, the dog is neither sleeping nor drinking outside.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gig Harbor Frozen

It's been cold here lately-- almost 20 degrees colder than normal for a week or so now, but it's not like the Harbor froze over. 50 years ago it did! I didn't know they had video of it until I was linked to this footage today. Go check it out!

As per usual, PNWers are out there being weird. Bicycling the harbor? Like I would pass that up either???

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A meme. Yes, I did.

From Lapaz, I grabbed this meme. How boring are you?

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (DisneyWorld)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping (at a camp where I was a counselor--and I lost my suit in the lake murk)
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (sun and moon!)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (the Native American ones, anyway)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (I’m working on it, ok?)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (in general)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (My childhood Teddy Bear is still in my grown-up closet)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (my arm, age 7)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day
(Oh, please. I homeschool.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow Day

G-girl was the last to wake up and came sleepily into the living room.

"Whoa!" she grunted loudly from somewhere deep in her throat. Suddenly, she was not the sleepy morning girl.

Last night, I lay in bed and watched the snow fall by the light of the bright, full moon. It was beautiful. As I write this, my children have not had breakfast and are all out cavorting in their snowsuits. We all enjoy in our different ways. What a good Christmas season!

Lucky for me, P-daddy took the pictures for today's entry!

The Presley dog cometh

A snow man will be built, by George!

Snow on the Bloom. I love Christmas Roses.

D-meister's about to pound some Daddy.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

GH Tree Lighting

It wasn't as cold as last year, and the lights are the new LEDs. A storm last year took out all our former lights so now we have a tree in color. At G-girl's behest, we stayed in line for 45 minutes after the tree lighting to see Santa. Yowch!

This is as close as N-man got to the Big C. He was mostly there for the candy canes.

G-girl was very business like. She even brought Santa a gift she'd drawn for him.

Bad pic, cute moment. D-meister was the only one who sat on Santa's lap.

This is as close as we got to a group "Merry Christmas" shot.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Four years ago today, we moved to the state of Washington. We didn't know either of these fellas:

Nor had we heard of Wall-E, which clearly has a soothing effect.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Working with Grandaddy, both of them.

I can't say that I remember being a Daddy's girl. My mother assured me that when I was a very small girl I was, but I don't recall it. After the separation and divorce, I didn't see my father again until I was an adult in college. I did have a relationship with my grandfather, though; in my estimation, when I was small, he was a big, giant teddy bear who could do and build anything. There was a period of time after the divorce when my mother wouldn't let me see that side of the family and that loss of connection was at least as devastating as the destruction of my nuclear family.

For about 6 years, if I got to see my Grandparents at all, it was a twice a year visitation kind of situation. The day I turned 18, I biked the three miles (isn't that a travesty? Only three miles!) in the Charleston June heat to my grandparents house. By the end of that summer, they were more than happy to drive me all the way to Virginia to my college dorm, to be involved with helping me set up a life. I never slept another night in my mother's home. It was a bumpy road, though, getting to know them again. I'd suffered things they didn't understand and they wanted to rewrite history, I think, or wave a wand and make our pain go away. They struggled through my angry years. I have always been a writer, and they didn't like some of the newspaper columns I sent home from college. Healing can be a nasty business.

I have written before about what my Grandparents mean to me. If I hadn't had P-daddy in my life when my Grandfather passed, I don't know what his death would have done to me. I had fully invested my identity at that point as their granddaughter. In the years since, I have gotten closer with my father and to my regret, lost all contact with my mother. It's complicated, as all families seem to be, and of course it informs how I parent my own children.

After my Grandfather passed, my Grandmother gave me all their slides and the projector. My Grandfather loved to take pictures, and for a period of time in my father's early childhood, he preferred slides. A stroke of genius, I say. Slides hold their color so perfectly. As I scan the slides, I get to see the pictures in all their integrity. One by one, I get to see these images surface on my computer screen as they were when he shot them. It's proving to be an emotional experience. I think a lot like my Grandaddy, and as I work through these slides, I find him instructing me even now; an x marks the bottom left of the image, no matter what the Kodak label says. Dates, places, categories, all there for me to decipher in a way that may make sense only to our family. That connection again, that tie to the larger web of family. It resonates within me. It aches. I am scanning these over the course of this week to preserve and deliver these images for my family-- my Grandmother, my father, my cousins. What a Christmas gift, to have family pictures from 5 decades ago resurface now, the few prints of which have been long lost.

And finally, another shocking discovery. My Grandaddy was born in Egypt, Georgia and raised in Savannah. It was no surprise to see a box marked "Ephesus," as I had already encountered "Sarasota." Assuming I would see family pictures at a farm or a picnic in the rural South, I was surprised to see Ephesus. As in Turkey. As in The Cathedral of St John and The Great Theater. My Grandaddy had never been to Europe. These were slides taken by my then-18-year-old father. My Daddy had taken these.

Only in recent years has he talked to me about his time in the service. He didn't enjoy his time as a Viet Nam war serviceman, but what little he has told me centered around his tours in Europe, and the pleasure he took in actually walking the ancient streets. I was slightly dizzy as I examined the shots. I know my father lost every photograph he had living on sailboats after the divorce. I know he doesn't have these. But we do, now. He will get them back. And my children will get to see their Grandaddy's history unfold before them while I am watching mine.

This is a good work, and I am so grateful for the chance to do it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Tree Fairies

Our children watched an episode of Wife Swap (I know, I know) where the Washington State Mom wore fairy wings and was obsessed with tree fairies. Since then, they've been dressing up as tree fairies and taking their friends with them.

You might expect something like this:
But I suspect this might be more surprising: