Thursday, April 29, 2010

bizarre lamps

I have a thing for them.

James evidently inherited this because he asked me to buy him this lamp at a second hand store back when he was six. I looked at it for a long minute, thinking how very odd it was, and there HE was, with his incredibly cute face and I said sure.

This weird lamp came from the basement of a small town antique shop. Year after year it sat there. Imagine that! Then I bought it and now it's in the dining room.

Plus I have kids who are hell on lamps. I don't wreck lamps, but the kids do like crazy! They knock them over regularly, always insist it's an accident. Riiiight. I think if you can easily predict the outcome of say, doing flips on the couch, then it really does not count as an actual accident. Lamps I seek to protect have to be placed with a wall behind them for safety.

This little cutie was made by Jay's paternal grandmother. She glued all those agates to it. I re-wired it and the kids tipped it over and that's why there's a scorched spot on the lamp shade. Never mind that. Someday I'll buy a new one, but at this point in the kids' lamp-busting lives, I figure might as well leave the damaged one.

This treasure is what prompted me to write about this in the first place. Julia found this little dinosaur at the second hand store yesterday and wanted to buy it for Tim. It's pretty darn weird, so why not? Well, lit up in the dark, it is AWESOME. I thought his other nightlight, this aquarium one was great, but this red dinosaur beats all.

We have this little mad man here today. He is so lively, crawling, reaching, scrambling, on such a mission to get around... he got a hold of the plant in my room and it was a struggle to get both his hands off it at once and get away from it. He's wrassling me for the keyboard now. I wonder if he's going to go on to be a hazard with lamps? Probably in this family, it's a given. love, Val

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

a great kit!

My mom signed Tim up to receive a kit every month, a little building project kit. Finally, the first kit arrived over the weekend, and today when Jay stopped by at lunch time, Tim talked him into working on it.

The directions had pictures, so Tim could see what to do.

This is what was going on under the table.

After Dad went back to work, he did the painting.

And then tonight, put it all together. Kit successful. He called my parents to tell them.

In other news, on the radio today I heard an ad for a school, and they mentioned their school cultivating unique thinkers like Edison.

Thomas Edison?

Edison was kicked out of school as a child. They told his mother he was addled. He's one of the most famous homeschoolers of all. With all the people who've attended public and private schools, the best they can come up with to advertise their school is a homeschool student? Is that even honest?

Can you tell I wasn't impressed?

Oh, but this is an impressive story if you like dumbness: This weekend at the lake it was observed that there were about a pound of Asian Beetles in each of the second floor light fixtures. Yuck. My daughter in law, Alicia, and I laughed about how do we deal with THOSE situated over the beds? Nobody wants a bed full of dead Asian Beetles, for gosh sakes.

Well, I thought about it a little and decided a good way would be to take one of those little plastic grocery bags and kind of hold it around there while I unscrewed the glass and dumped it in the bag.

I stood on the bed carefully doing this and realized, THE BAG WAS FULL OF HOLES. Aaaaghh! Are you kidding me?? I thought bad language--real bad words.

I yelled for Julia to bring me another bag and after a suitably long-sweet-Julia time, while I waited with my arms in the air, trying not to jiggle the mattress or move, she came bouncing up the stairs with a new bag, talking to herself.

But then she was riveted by all the Asian Beetles that had fallen on the bed. At least it was just the bedspread, not all in the sheets.

When I told Alicia, this was her reaction: "No! Shut up!" Gosh, that makes me laugh.

How about a little more dumbness? Yesterday was one of those klutzy days. I knocked the tray off a lady's printer. Gawd, take it easy, Val. I caught my foot in the phone cord in the room here, tore that sucker right off the table, scared the dog. I knocked a can of diet Coke over ON MY DRESSER, had to run half-dressed for a towel, as it poured under the jewelry box and into the drawer. What the heck?

When I left to practice driving with Maria, I slammed the belt to my sweater in the door. We pulled on it a bit, but finally had to pound on the door so James would come open it up again. He stared at me, "What are you doing?" Dur, good question.

Finally, a photo of Julia chipper-chattering on the patio. After she asked me to take this picture, the little girl doll was heard telling the potato head guy he needs a bath if he wants to be her boyfriend. Sigh. Happy Tuesday. love, Val

Sunday, April 25, 2010

the first weekend...

at the lake was nicer than I'd even hoped.

John and Dannell parked a trailer in the woods, a place where their family can go to escape the mayhem.

This morning I sent Kari to tell them the pancakes were ready. She sprinted in her bare feet in the cold, across the rough lawn and sticks at the edge of the woods to tell them, and then speeded back again.

In a minute, I saw the door open and t.c. emerge, carton of milk in his arms, grin across his face as he ran over the yard, and there was that surge of happiness in my chest that I feel every time I see the kid. I don't know why. He burst in the door, "Hi Gramma!" Oh, hi yourself. I love yous, Bud.

Breakfast was splendid, pancakes and sausage, Grandpa's most delicious fried egg sandwiches with cheese, strawberries and bagels...

This weekend, we had shrimp fried in the deep fat fryer at 11 pm, salads and hamburgers, cards, the game Fact or Crap, checkers, collages and play doh, Babies b.g. and l.c. to kiss...

Little l.c. loves Polly Pockets. They look like candy to him. I kept saying, "Not in your mouth," and pushing his hand away from his face. He'd look at the Polly Pockets in his hand like he got that, but what on earth are they for, if not to eat?

Well, I've wondered a lot of things when it comes to Polly Pockets. I admit it.

We watched The Princess Bride last night, that old favorite. We know all the lines, Sweet Buttercup and Wesley and, "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." And of course, "Mawwiage is what bwings us togethah too-day...Wuvvv, Trooo Wuuv..."

The dock was put in, an electrical line run... the wind was cold off the lake, but the sun was warm in the backyard.

okay, this bawdy conversation is not repeatable

And then we had to come home.

We had a friend with us this weekend, a family friend Kari's age. He fits in like family. I forget he's even there. He had a stuffed animal along that looked like a cat. "No, not a cat. A MEER-cat." Okay, then. (Oh, he's cute, especially in that fedora.) He had a terribly bad woodtick I had to pull of his shoulder. (Gah! The woodticks were fierce. We hate them.)

When his mom came to pick him up tonight, she asked if he'd had a good weekend. He said, "Yeah. Until YOU had to come and RUIN it." She laughed. I mean, really. It's Sunday night. It's totally not her fault. No matter how you slice it, the weekend is over.

Onward to Monday. love, Val

Friday, April 23, 2010

this summer

Below is something written ten years ago. This boat has been sold, along with the old motor that never ran right after 2002, not even with a thousand dollars in repairs.

John helped me take it to the repair shop several times, early in the morning. It was at a marina, and that lake was gorgeous in the morning--the sunshine, and seagulls, everything fresh and cool...the streets getting narrower and smaller the closer they ran to the shore... but the motor never was well again.

After the last repair, we took it to Jay's parents' to try it out. It ran perfectly for thirty minutes, the boat moving in arcs, slicing elegantly through glossy water, and then it crapped out again. That was the end. It was the end of summer, and Tim was born the following week. We never got back to it, and weren't even sure what to do.

AND this cabin rental: It's not happening this year. For an array of reasons, my folks decided to skip a year.

But it's okay. It's all just life evolving... and that baby Karinka-Doodle didn't stay a baby for long, as they never ever do. It's all good. love, Val

"On our last night at the lake we all went out together for a boat ride in the evening. For years we have laughed about this boat, joking that it dates, “to the time of Christ,” but really it dates only to the 50s. The lines and shape of it are of that time, the chrome is thick and heavy and the design reminds me of the cartoon rockets and outer space stuff from my childhood.

We took a long meandering route around the shoreline, and checked out what was new and what hadn’t changed. It was Kari’s first boat ride, and she peeked out of the bulky foam of her life jacket with a skeptical look on her face, squinting and taking it all in.

On the way back to the cabin we drove straight east and I turned around to face backwards so Kari could see better.

Five of her brothers and sisters sat in a row across the seat in back: bright life jackets, pretty faces, big blue eyes, red cheeks, and chins curving all in the same way, and the wake from the motor spread out behind us like a giant green fan, churning foam at the edges.

As we got out at the dock, the sun slipped away and turned the sand of the beach pink and the all the window panes of the cabin orange.

In a year where our family has been in a continuous state of change and adjustment, things that stay the same mean a lot to me. I noticed this during our weeks at the lake—a vacation that thankfully never changes.

I felt comforted by the familiar rumble of our ancient boat motor, the same old marshmallows in the fire, the box of sand toys dumped out on the beach along with the very same sand we packed them up with a year before, the familiar pleasure of a baby in my arms...

More change lies ahead and will continue to for many years, so I might as well brace myself--just please, nobody sell the boat or call off the cabin rental."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

what we're dealing with...

Okay, I looked out the window and Tim's wandering contentedly around the backyard with these gigantic headphones on.

They're for a Baldwin organ a friend left at my house. It's been ...oh 15 years? I don't think she's coming back for the organ. She's told me she's not.

But still.

When I saw him singing to himself and looking at the end of that cord, I KNEW what he was going to do next. I KNOW him.


I asked him if he heard anything. He said no. I said maybe if he touched it to metal he would. "I could try that," he smirked and wandered off.

Okay, and this is new too. He's finally catching on to reading, but he's coming at it by way of writing. Learning sounds and all that has been slow going, and he'd like to be able to read, but it is just hard work.

Well, he's figured out that sounds spell things, and he'll spend a fairly long time writing words if I help him only a little. He's figuring out a whole new way to get this done. I'm so impressed because it never would have occurred to me that a kid could learn to read in reverse. But it makes sense. It's the kind of person he is.

In other news, I finally painted the upstairs bathroom yesterday, washed the curtains, put the new rugs in there. It looks much refreshed.

Happy Wednesday. love, Val

Monday, April 19, 2010

ahh, pictures

I did not take pictures, but Kirby had the presence of mind to do so. Maria informs me her friend thinks our whole family might be crazy. I...I don't disagree. love, Val

it's april 19th...

apparently there were some fake tattoos a bit ago. i never saw these until they turned up in the photos...RIP Joey & Tickles

Today is finally April 19, the day of the long-planned caterpillar funeral.

I thought she'd forgotten all about it, but then I heard her talking about it over the weekend.

Jay caught wind of this and asked her if she could change the time. She'd scheduled it for 3:30, and could she do it at 5:30 so he could be there? She said sure.

Well, then they sent out an APB on Facebook to everyone who'd been invited to the 3:30 funeral, that the new time was 5:30.

So all at once,around 2:30, I realize there are like 20 people going to be at my house at suppertime--to attend the burial of two caterpillars.

(This was not the plan...not my plan anyway.)

James helped me--we got the house picked up, and Jay helped me get a meal made, and it actually was fun to have everyone here for supper. The kids played soccer in the backyard, and we all ate.

The funeral itself finally happened around 6.

Kari leaped over the fence with her caterpillars in a little box and the keyboard under her arm, and we all went out to the garden. She dug a hole,and put the box in. My mother had brought a pansy, so she placed that nearby, and then Kari played Greensleeves.

I could see she felt really awkward when she looked around at all twenty of us standing there, her nephews, and sisters and brothers, and sisters and brother in law, and an extra friend Maria brought home from school today... but she carried on anyway, no turning back now, so that was good.

It reminded me of when Maria and her cousin planned an elaborate wedding for Kari and Woody. (The guy from Toy Story.) They wrote the vows, picked flowers, on and on. In the end, it happened on the beach at the lake, late in the afternoon. They were wearing their bathing suits... Someone bailed at the end, so Big Jay ended up as one of the bridesmaids.

But the best part was when they started the vows and it went something like this, "...through sickness and health, and richer and poorer, through rain and sleet and dark of night..." My sister's husband and I looked at each other. The Postal Code? Awww, man. We laughed and laughed. Paul had to dry his eyes.

the bride, Lydia, (aka Kari) and Woody, the groom

We have no pictures from the funeral. I was too discomboobulated to take any.

Julia's caterpillar, Bobby, made a cocoon a few days ago. (The one who said,"Wow," when he saw Jay's van?) He may be metamorphosing as we speak. He's here in a cup on the desk. I certainly hope he does not die because this is the only caterpillar funeral I'm having. If he dies? He missed it.

love, Val

Saturday, April 17, 2010

this weekend

It's been a good one. First we had my mom's birthday party, warm spring evening, lovely party...

This MAN present at the party is my nephew. He's patiently helping my little kids and my grandson with their video game. Back when he was real small, he used to get so excited at video games he'd jump up and down in front of the TV until John and Dan would urge him to sit down, "Sit down Buddy! Please sit down! You're blocking the game."

Tim jumped up and down in front of the TV, completely immersed, and my nephew looked at me and laughed. Yep. Young squirrels. They don't change.

This young squirrel had his first communion. He's a child on the other side of the family--Jay's little brother's boy. He's a sweet kid. I hear he has a temper, but I've never seen it, not even once. But I do believe them.

Jay's brother was older than the rest of us when he married, but life brought him this GIRL, or he was brought to her, or whatever, but I adore her. She's nice to me, all the time, for fifteen damned years, she's been nothing but nice. One time, when I hugged him and thanked him for marrying her, he laughed. Oh yeah. You hit the jackpot, and you know it.

She'd do anything for my kids, and that's not a lie. He would too. And they openly, generously share their kids with us.

When that first communion kid was born, we went to see them and meet the child. She handed him to me, little bundle, and I perched on the side of her bed, cradled him against my knees, and his FACE. He had the most incredibly beautiful newborn face... his warm little body on my forearms, his tiny head in the palm of my hands... I cried. I don't know why. She put her arm around my shoulders and said, "I knew you'd like him." Oh gawd. Honey, I LOVE him. He's absolutely exquisite.

He was born the week of 9/11. What a monumentally weird week THAT was. (Anyone remember that? Ugh.) But here was this guy. Later she told me when I wept over him she knew I'd have another baby shortly. I did not know this at the time. I was trying to finish my degree, and we'd barely started our business.

But she was right. A few months later I realized I was pregnant again. AGAIN? Are you kidding me? (It was Tim. I knew later it was totally meant to be.)

Tonight as we drove home from their house, we passed the townhouses where last summer, I was driving by and saw children's bodies pressed against screens two and a half floors up.


For a second I couldn't breathe. Oh Lord have mercy. I turned the car around, thinking if anyone drove by MY house and saw child bodies against a screen up high, I hope to hell they'd come tell me...

I pulled the car over, blocking a lane of traffic so people had to drive around, but honestly, I didn't care. I pounded on the door at the same time I yelled up to those kids, "Quit leaning on the screen! You're going to fall out the window!"


"Is your mother home? I gotta talk to your mom!"

No she wasn't, but they'd get their babysitter. They did get off the (*%##^) screen. In a few seconds a kid appeared, maybe like 14? I called up my worries: "The screens are going to pop out and they're going to fall right out!" He shooed them away from the window and said he'd take care of it.


Where was I anyway? I didn't even remember. I still don't. Good night. love, Val

Thursday, April 15, 2010

a baby day

We've got this guy for the day.

He went with me to the grocery store, rode around happily in the cart, so cute--big red cheeks and little soft moccasins. When we got home, he wore himself out playing with James.

When he was pooped out, I wrapped him in a blanket and took him out to the patio swing. We rocked in the sun, in the cool breeze, listening to the birds chirping in the trees above us, and the traffic out front. It was pretty hypnotic. Soon he was sound asleep.

Whenever I've been in a workshop or seminar where we're instructed to relax and picture ourselves on a beach, or in the forest, I think to heck with that. I imagine being in a rocking chair with a sweet baby tucked under my chin. That's my happy place.

Over the years we've completely worn out two rocking chairs. Now we have two more, and more babies to rock. Sigh. Life is pretty darn good. love, Val