Saturday, December 29, 2007


Lately it is difficult for me to do any blogging; I guess I am just waiting for the baby to come. My due date is next Friday, but I don't feel like the baby is in any hurry to get here.

So, in the mean time I will tell a cute thing about Joseph. I was taking him to bed and told him we could read one book since it was quite late. He is used to getting at least three stories before bed, so he told me two books that he wanted to read. I said, "No Joseph, you have to pick one or the other." So he said to me "the other."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

All I want for Christmas is...

A Jackhammer!

This morning during breakfast, when we were both quietly eating, Joseph suddenly said "Maybe Santa Claus will bring me a Jackhammer." I'm not making this stuff up, and we haven't influenced him in either direction either. He is just so very much, and very naturally, a boy. Before I had a boy I thought that a lot of external conditioning went into kids' interests, and with some kids maybe that is true. But Joseph is just heavily predispositioned to being a very masculine boy, at least so far. He likes his stuffed animals, but he Loves his trucks.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hanging in there...

but just barely. I hate to be so negative, but things have been really hard lately. We had a good trip to California for Thanksgiving, but when we got back all of us were sick. We seem to be pretty much over it now, but I have been having quite a time with Joseph. He has been acting up a lot, not listening, and just being generally destructive and laughing about it when I try to discipline him. Poor Spot, as he has been taking the brunt of a lot of it. I have been thinking about the whole situation and I think that it is because we were traveling, and he does much better when he knows what to expect. He was quite fussy the last half week of the trip whenever I was visiting anyone. Also, he has been very demanding of my time since we got back, and I think that that is probably due to having lots of people around all day, everyday for two weeks. It was clear that he missed everyone when he got back because he would say things about going back to California. Well, hopefully it won't take long for us to adjust to being home.

As far as my pregnancy is going, it is quite different than with Joseph. My indigestion became so unbearable that I am finally taking a medication for it, and that has helped a lot. It has been very difficult to sleep overall, but the medicine is helping. I am finally sorting through all of the baby clothes. I have to wash everything, because since we packed them in Humboldt everything has a moldy smell. I have lots and lots of clothes, but many of them I won't be able to use because Joseph was born in the spring, and so some of the the smallest clothes are for much warmer weather. However, it still seems that we will have enough warmer things. I should know by the end of the week when I have rewashed and sorted everything.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Well, it has been about a month since I have posted anything. The reason is that I have been quite tired, and also pretty depressed. I didn't really want to post negative things on my blog, but I feel like I need to put it down here. I remember feeling the exact same way when I was pregnant with Joseph, so I suppose it is really just hormonal (though knowing that doesn't help much, especially at the darkest times.) I think I will mention it to the midwife at my next appointment, although I can't imagine she can really do anything about it.

Today we went and looked at a house that I happened upon last week. I spotted it last week when coming home from the library with Joseph. The woman who owns the house saw me and invited us in to look, so we did that. It is quite a nice house, at a fairly low price, and in a really nice neighbourhood. I really liked it, though I feel torn about buying anything right now. Jim and I decided to go look at it, and he really likes it too. The only thing that I really don't like about it is that it doesn't have a fireplace, and I have my heart set on that. In the end, I think we won't think any further about buying a house at the moment. It really doesn't seem like a time to change things in a major way with the baby coming. I have been so emotional about things lately, that it wouldn't be a good time to make such a huge decision.

Here is a funny story about Joseph. When we went to see the house the first time, he really was excited about the owner's cats (she has four big ones.) The whole time we were there he was exclaiming about them and squealing with delight when they would come toward him. As we were leaving and we and the owner were saying goodbye, he said 'Maybe when you go to your new house, you can leave one of the cats.'

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I had an appointment with the midwife today. Everything is going well. Last week Jim and I told Joseph that there is going to be another baby, but he didn't seem too surprised. He did seem surprised, however, when I told him the baby is in my belly. Today I could see the baby moving and showed him. He got very giggly. He does seem to have mixed feelings, though. Yesterday I was buying a bunting to put over the baby's' car seat, and Joseph asked me what it was. I told him that it was for the baby's car seat. He got kind of tearful and asked very pitifully "but, can I have a car seat?" I assured him that he would keep his car seat and that the baby would have a different one. He dubiously asked where it was, so I said in the basement, and then we showed it to him in the evening. After that he seemed OK with it all again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

First Cake

This is a picture of my first cake for my cake decorating class. I had my first class one week ago, in which we learned how to make frosting, about frosting consistency, how to torte a cake (cut it in half in order to add a filling, etc. This week we practiced basic techniques of cake decorating, and we also decorated our first cake for the class. My cake is a raspberry buttermilk cake with raspberry jam filling, and almond flavoured butter cream frosting. I learned a lot with doing this first cake, like how to make stars, zigzags, curving lines, and transferring images. I drew the picture of the raspberries and vines on a piece of paper, and then used piping gel to transfer them to the cake. Mixing the colors was very fun for me. I didn't had enough of the red after doing the raspberries, so I had to mix more in order to be able to make the boarders. It was just like painting!

New Happenings

Last week we had some cold weather, so I took Joseph shopping for some new clothes. This is him in his new outfit. There is also a matching sweatshirt top. As you can see, Joseph loves to wear new clothes and model them too. I also finally got some maternity clothes, so now I have some decent things to wear again.

Recently I tried some new recipes. I made a really interesting un-yeasted bread in which the only ingredients are whole wheat flour, a little bit of salt, and water. After mixing this together, one must let it sit for 24 hours. Then after punching it down you let it proof for 4 hours at room temperature. It is very hearty! Another recipe I tried, that is completely different from this austere bread, is one for glazed donuts. This one was also very good, and very easy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Inner June Cleaver

Something about being pregnant turns me into June Cleaver with a heavy dose of granola. When I was pregnant with Joseph I taught myself how to knit and toward the end of my pregnancy I did lots of stuff in the kitchen, particularly baking shortbread cookies and almond doubles (which are a sort of tart with raspberry and apricot jam, and dark chocolate on the bottom.) This time around it seems that baking is taking precedence. About a week before my birthday I decided that I wanted to make a cake with buttercream roses on it. I got rather involved in my research on how to do this and ended up making a cake with marshmallow fondant. The fondant turned out O.K, but then it was time to start making roses. I watched a few videos on you tube, and it really didn't look that hard.

Well, this is my cake in the end. I think that my frosting wasn't stiff enough to make roses because I couldn't get the frosting to stand up on the rose nail. So, I am now taking a cake decorating class at the local hobby store. I just had my first class last night, and I think it is going to be a lot of fun. Next week I will post a picture of my first class cake.

Cooking experiments

Since about a month or so ago I have been doing tons of cooking, and for me that means lots of experiments. Toward the beginning of august I was on a Mexican cuisine kick and got into making tamales and Pan Dulce. I had to order a gigantic steamer from a Mexican food supply website in order to make the tamales. I make about 60 savoury tamales (tofu with green salsa, tofu with mole, and black bean and vegetable.) Then I make about 90 sweet tamales (apple and raisin with Cinnamon, pear with Cinnamon, peach with Cinnamon, banana, and banana with chocolate.) They came out very good, and it was actually really easy to make them. I had actually helped to make them before one time with a Mexican friend when I was about twenty, but that was quite a while ago, so I used this really great website as a guide.

I decided to make the Pan Dulce (Mexican sweet bread) for a friend's birthday who is also from Southern California. We really had no idea what to get for him, and I figured that since he really likes Mexican cuisine this would be a unique and welcome gift. They came out really yummy, though I would like to work on my decorating.

For my birthday I got a ravioli maker and a pasta drying rack. I got the pasta machine last Christmas, and I have wanted the ravioli maker ever since then. The pasta drying rack is great, because usually when I make pasta I have to hang it on every clean free surface I can find, and it was quite a pain. Here I am making our first ravioli dinner. I made them with Spinach and Tofu cream cheese.

Fall Garden

My container garden is going very well. I planted about 3 weeks ago, and they are all doing quite well. Everything came up except for the cilantro. This first photo is how they looked a week after I planted. The weather here turned to fall weather about a week ago, and my plants actually seem to be doing better now, especially the kale and mustard. Before I would sometimes catch them wilting in the hot sun, and now they seem to be growing before my eyes, even when it is cloudy all day. Here is a photo of how they looked today. I hope that the weather doesn't turn too cold too fast before they are big enough to handle it. The average first frost date here is October 5th, and it feels like it is approaching fast. For the last week the air has been rather nippy in the evening and morning, though it is really perfect in the day.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Technically, I do work outside the home

Today we went down to our Nebraska bank to add me to the account. When we first moved here Jim got the account here, and then we just kept using our California bank account so we could use up our checks. Anyway, when the banker asked me if I work outside the home, I said no, but Joseph had a different answer. He enthusiastically told the banker "Memmy makes plants." I guess my recent involvement in our container garden really impressed him.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Thinker

Once again Joseph amazed me this evening. Just as I was getting him ready for bed he said he wanted to go to the store to buy a candy cane (this was completely out of the blue.) I actually have a few candy canes left from last Christmas in the cupboard, but Joseph didn't know about these. I told him that I have some and that he can have one tomorrow. That seemed to satisfy him. Then about an hour later, as I was putting him to bed he said "I want some soy sauce.' So as a joke I said 'You want soy sauce with your molke? Molke is our word for nursing. He laughed and said, "No, with rice and beans." (For some reason, he really likes to eat Mexican Rice and Beans with Soy Sauce. I guess he is truly global.) Anyway, I told him that he can have that tomorrow for lunch if he likes. He smiled and said " I want soy sauce with rice and beans for lunch and a candy cane after." He is always surprising me with how much he thinks about things, since he is only two. In reality though, I think mostly it is because he speaks so well that I am so aware of all the connections he makes; when kids don't speak too well it is impossible to know what is going on in their heads. I feel fortunate that Joseph expresses himself so well because not only does it help to solve problems, but it is just so fun to hear all of these amazing things from him.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Pursuit of Perfection

Joseph is such a perfectionist, both in actually doing things as well as in speaking. A couple of days ago one of the buckles from my shoe broke off, and then the next morning he was thinking about it and said something about it. I said "Yes, my shoes are broken, so I can't wear them today." He responded, "No, only one shoe is broken!" and then he looked at me like 'don't you know anything?' How could I be so sloppy?

Another example of his linguistic perfection occurred last night when I was reading him a bedtime story. We were reading Fabian Escapes, a story about a cat who escapes from the house for a day. At one point the cat goes into the flower garden and eats the flowers. The illustration shows the cat surrounded my many bushes of flowers. Joseph interrupted me to tell me that "He doesn't eat all the flowers, only a little bit of them."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tamales and Indian food

It has been a while since I wrote anything here, so I thought I would give an update. For some reason our website with our photos has been down the last couple of days, so I can't narrate any of our photos for you.

The last couple of weeks I have mostly been really busy at home cooking and baking. I decided to try to make everything we eat myself, such as breads (including pita bread and hamburger buns,) cereals, and baked goods, and also using only dried beans. My goal is to only buy the raw ingredients to make all of our food. The tofu burgers that I talked about last time were delicious; much better than the ones we were getting at the store. The buns were somewhat tough the first time, but I made them last night again and they were lighter this time. I think next time I will use egg in the dough.

Last weekend I made Indian food, specifically Dal, Palak Paneer (with tofu substituted for the cheese,) and Naan. It was truly delicious. I made enough for us to have four dinners from it total. I love Indian food so much, but we can never go to an Indian restaurant because they use so much dairy. I have made it before, and always with great results but lately it just never occurred to me to make it. Once I ran across this Naan recipe on the Internet, I had to do it again. It turned out to be a fabulous recipe.

Another fun thing is that I bought a tamale steamer. I used to love to eat tamales when we lived in southern California. I have plans to make some tofu mole tamales this weekend. Some other things I have been making are soy milk pudding, Pan Dulce (more on this later,) and falafal.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


At the moment we are in the midst of a big Thunderstorm. This is one thing about Midwest weather that I like so far. Somehow the crashing booms and flickering lights fill the night with a certain liveliness.

This past week I am back to my old self concerning cooking and baking. I wasn't doing a whole lot of either because of both the heat and just not feeling up to it. We were reviewing our food bills this last weekend, and it really motivated me to start doing most things from scratch again. Last winter I was making most things we ate from scratch, so those months are my comparison. It seems that if we bake our own bread, use dried beans instead of canned, eat hot cereal for breakfast instead of cold, and finally if I bake all of our baked goods myself we can save somewhere around $100-$150 a month. It really doesn't seem like that much of a change, especially since it tastes better to cook this way anyway. A couple of days ago I found a recipe for veggie burgers, and I mixed that up tonight. We'll see tomorrow how the recipe is. I also made some whole wheat hamburger buns using our bread maker to mix the dough, and prepared it in into buns after the last punch down. They are rising as I write, and so far they look pretty good.

I am currently almost half way through The Fellowship of the Ring. I have read it before, but I am amazed at how many details I forgot. I am having much more fun with it this time because as I am reading it I am using The Atlas of Middle-Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad. This atlas is absolutely fantastic! I have found everyplace mentioned so far in The Fellowship of the Ring, and since I am a visual person it has somehow made me more attentive to the story.

Yesterday I began The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. After reading yet another passionate comment about this novel, I finally started reading it. I've only read about 30 pages, but I'm already hooked. It is described as the first sensationalist Victorian novel. It is quite long, about 750 pages I think, so it was probably not the best thing to start while reading the Lord of the Rings, but oh well. Sometimes you just have to follow your passions.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Importance of Reading

Reading to children is so important. A couple of days ago I was getting ready for the day in my bathroom upstairs, and Joseph was playing on the floor with his little cars. He had made up a whole scenario and was making the cars talk to each other. I heard him say something about having to stop so that the green bird could pass by. Do you recognise the story? I did- he was playing the part in Go Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman where a bunch of cars are driving in a row, and have to stop to let a bird walk by.

Another time I noticed this same phenomenon was when my mom was visiting a few weeks ago and gave Joseph a present of 6 wooden trucks. Immediately after opening the present, he took the trucks over to the back step, and drove them around for a bit. After some time he called Beppe (my mom) over and started talking about how they were watching an airplane take off. Then I noticed that the trucks were all neatly lined up in a row, and this is exactly what happens in another of Joseph's favourite books, Five Trucks by Brian Flota. In this book five trucks are servicing and airplane before takeoff, and then line up to watch it take off.

I remember as a child how much I would draw on my reading experiences and make them a part of my life. I remember one time I just had read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and when I came home after school I sat down with a chocolate chip cookie and tried to eat it as slowly as possible, just like when Charlie was eating his Wonka candy bar in the beginning of the book. This was at a time when my family was having some money problems, so when I look back at it now I think that maybe in my mind I was trying to find the good aspects of being poor, like that when one is poor, one really appreciates the things one does have. It is really neat for me to see that Joseph is also savouring his reading and bringing it into his play.

The Lovely Bones

I read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold about a week ago. I noticed this book mentioned quite a bit lately, and my curiosity finally got the better of me. I wish it hadn't. The book is about a 14 year old girl who is raped and murdered by a neighbour. After she dies she watches her family, friends, and her murderer from heaven. The book is ultimately about the healing that takes place after this crime.

Certainly the subject is a difficult and important one, however, I am disappointed with how Sebold chose to present it. I feel like she chose some typical pop ways to make her book appeal to the public, and quite frankly I felt kind of tricked. I read a Salon article that states that this book is more literary fiction than a genre thriller. I have to agree that there are things about it that make it seem literary, such as Sebold's use of metaphor. In the beginning the the book, right after the crime takes place, Suzie (the main character) describes how, while floating over the earth, she is looking for clues in the cornfield (where the crime is committed) and would see the burrows of rabbits whom she loved, and "who sometimes, unwittingly, brought poison home to their dens. Then inside the earth and so far away from the man or woman who had laced a garden with toxic bait, an entire family of rabbits would curl into themselves and die." When I read this I was stunned. I stopped and read it again several times; I felt completely locked in, and from that point on I knew I would have to finish this book to have closure. That is the thing with this story; it is written in a way that makes you identify strongly with Suzie and her family. That kind of power in writing is a good thing.

However, it is not a good thing when turned into the stuff of a thriller film. The murderer turns out to be a serial killer, and his other crimes are also described in graphic detail. There is a scene where Suzie's sister is inside the killer's house, looking for clues and he comes home while she is still in the house. My heart was beating twice as fast as usual the whole time I read that part. Now, it is is not that I don't like heart racing excitement in a book, but this was cheap.

I know it is true that such crimes happen, but by graphically describing these crimes seems to me to be a way of appealing to people's baser selves, and quite truthfully, a great way to appeal to the public at large. I hope that Sebold goes on to write things that will show her literary talents, but that she leave the pop thriller style of writing in her past.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Finally Back

Well, after some time of not blogging I am now hopefully back. I took the month of June to visit family, so I didn't do much reading, but now I have started with that again. A couple of weeks ago I read Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell, last week I read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and now I am right in the middle of the Hobbit. After The Lovely Bones I needed to read a nice light adventure story, and also to get back to reading books that have been on my 'to read or reread list.' But more on that later when I do my reviews.
Other than reading I have been VERY tired lately, which I think is due to being pregnant during the hot summer. I will be happy when it is fall. Lately we haven't been doing much during the day other than reading and sitting outside in the shade. Jim finished Jospeh's sandbox, and he has been having lots of fun with that. Today we were outside all afternoon and he played in it the whole time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Breezy Days and Bicycles

After a couple of weeks of yucky, hot weather, it is nice to be having some cooler, breezy days. Today I took Joseph to the library on the bicycle and it was very pleasant to ride through our neighbourhood. There was a nice breeze and no traffic.
Joseph has been saying some funny things lately, as usual. Today, a couple of hours before going to the library, I told him we were going to ride the bike to the library later, and he immediately asked me "Is there a bike rack at the library?" He is very into the process of how things work, so I think that locking up the bike on the rack is as important to him as the ride. As we rode up to the library, he sang out "There's the bike rack." Then it was so cute too, because when I took him out of the seat he grabbed onto the back wheel (while I was locking the bike up,) and then he told me he better hold onto the bicycle so that it doesn't fall over. This is something that Jim tells him to do so that he stays by the bike, and doesn't wander into the street or parking lot. I thought it was cute because I didn't say anything about holding onto the bike, but Joseph clearly sees that this is an important job, and he had better do it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Yesterday I had the ultrasound, and (happily) we saw that there is only one baby. I was getting pretty scared because I did start to show very early this time, felt the baby move early, and am VERY hungry. Interestingly I am eating a lot, like twice as much dinner as usual and am often having an extra bowl of cereal before bed, but I'm not really gaining any weight (have only gained about 3 pounds, and this is week 14.) It is really very weird. Before the ultrasound I told Jim that maybe I really only had a tapeworm, but I guess I just have a hungry baby.

Monday, June 25, 2007

First Midwife Visit

Today I had my first visit with the midwife, and so far I am very pleased. The clinic was bright and decorated with art of either Pregnancy or Mother/Child themes. The midwife had a very positive natural childbirth attitude, and all of my questions were answered the way I wanted them to be, such as they don't require a heparin lock, and fetal monitoring is only done for the first 15 minutes when you arrive at the hospital (if you agree to it.) After that they do check the baby with the Doppler, but not nearly as often as it was when Joseph was born. This was quite a relief because with Joseph my doctor was clearly angry with me when I refused the heparin lock, and the fetal monitoring was extremely disruptive to my labor. I told the midwife a few things about the birth experience, and she also thought that my doctor had done some things that were alarmist and unnecessary. After the birth I had a bit more bleeding than normal, and my doctor panicked. One nurse actually dropped some of the tools because she was barking orders and making everyone nervous. She also ordered two bags of pitocin, the second of which they stopped pretty soon after starting it, because it wasn't necessary. The weirdest thing of all is that when I had my check up she didn't do a physical examination, and said that I could come back next for my yearly check up which was six months later.
Well, I am happy that this time around I will have a midwife instead. Next week I will have an ultrasound to make sure that I am not pregnant with twins and also to make sure of the due date. I already felt the baby move the first time two weeks ago (I was 10 weeks pregnant then,) and then again, moving a lot, a week later.) This made the midwife want to check the due date, but also since I am showing a lot already she also wants to check to see if it could be twins ( I hereditarily have a high chance of twins, on both my father's and mother's side.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Whenever I don't blog much for a while I find it difficult to get started again. In truth, ever since we have gotten back from Southern California, I have had trouble feeling motivated to do anything. It could be that I am pregnant, or maybe it's just the heat. Well, today marks the end of the first trimester of this pregnancy. So far things have been so different than when I was pregnant with Joseph. Perhaps it doesn't mean anything, but this time my intuition says 'Girl.' We'll see....

Friday, June 1, 2007

Baby News

Well, now that I have told all of my family, I suppose I should mention here that I am pregnant. This is the real reason for my scant posts recently. For some reason when I am pregnant I enter my own world a bit more deeply, and tend to not have as much contact with others. Interestingly I don't really feel pregnant, other than a periodic loss of appetite, and of course my increased introversion. I am not really even more tired than usual! This pregnancy is quite different than with Joseph; that time I had a lot of anxiety, even before I knew I was pregnant at all. I have had two extremely vivid and frightening dreams in the last two weeks, but this is not as many as I had with Joseph, and I have had no daytime anxiety at all. Because I was curious, I read a bit about anxiety dreams during pregnancy and found out that they are quite normal. A psychologist did a study and found that women who have such dreams during pregnancy tend to have quicker labors. I had many anxiety dreams while pregnant with Joseph, and interestingly even the doctor was surprised at how quickly my labor was progressing.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Up, up and away!

Well, tomorrow we are flying to California (of course not in a biplane, but isn't this photo cool?) This trip is the reason I have not been writing because I have been busy shopping, organizing, and cleaning. I got some new dresses, a new bikini, and some new bras. The shopping was quite an experience for me because I finally decided to go to some decent stores for a change. Last year in Holland I got some beautiful, although expensive, clothes that were so much better quality than I was used to. I vowed that even if I was going to live in the U.S. (where it is so easy to get really cheap clothes) I would only buy good quality clothes. Somehow last winter I forgot that vow and just bought a bunch of stuff from the clearance rack at Target. I was happy at the time, but a lot of it didn't last long and in reality I bought too many things.

This spring sometime I decided to go back to last year's vow. I got some really cool retro dresses (sorry Theresa, I really do think the retro 60's dresses are cool) from Dressbarn. I never would have thought a store with a name like that would have some classy things, but they did. I got a big, stylish, black sun hat that will go with two of the dresses. I was so excited because I have been looking for a hat like that since the summer of 2001 when I went to Greece. I also went to Victoria Secret for a bra fitting and discovered some interesting things, like that I have probably always been wearing the wrong size. The quality of both the dresses and bras is really good; you really do get what you pay for with clothes. Funny I learned this years ago with shoes (I pretty much only wear Dansko,) why did it take so long for my attitude to change about clothes?
Well, now I better get back to packing.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Beep, Beep, Beep!

Joseph has an incredible love for anything with wheels. He is always talking about them, playing with them, and today pretending he was one. In one of his books about construction vehicles, it describes the kinds of sounds they make, such as 'when backing up the dump truck says "Beep, Beep, Beep." Yesterday on a walk we saw a large passenger van backing up (thus beeping) and Joseph said "The van is like a dump truck." and then he laughed triumphantly because he made this connection. This morning as we were getting ready to go to our La Leche League meeting he was walking backward around the living room saying "Beep, Beep, Beep." And a little while later "Memmy, I'm a dump truck! Beep, Beep, Beep." Sometimes it is difficult to get him out the door, so I told him to "Beep, Beep, Beep" out the door. He loved the idea of this and got moving right away. I had to be careful the he didn't fall off the porch, but this time he didn't fight me when I lifted him to help him down.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Artist Trading Cards

A couple of weeks ago I went into Barnes and Noble bookstore and caught sight of a book called Artist Trading Card Workshop. I had never heard of Artist Trading Cards (also called ATC's) before. The images in the book were intriguing, ranging from collage, to resin sculpture, to traditional painting and drawing techniques. The book also listed some websites, so I decided to check those out when I got home.

The basic idea behind these cards is that 1) they are 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches, and 2) they are traded, never sold. Both of these ideas appeal to me. I like the idea of working on a small scale, with the size as the only limiting factor, and also that they are exchanged. Often the trading happens in face to face meetings (if you are lucky enough to be in a place where there are other people who make them,) but lots of trades happen over the internet as well. I found a website where you can join trades based on a theme. I just finished my first two cards last night. The theme for this set was a portrait of someone famous. I did Paul Gauguin (from his Les Miserables self-portrait,) and Vincent van Gogh (after John Russell.) They are both pen and watercoler, and are mounted on scrapbook paper. I think this is going to be fun!

Saturday, May 5, 2007


Today we celebrated Joseph's birthday. I made him a cake and it came out great. I decided to make vanilla and chocolate in one cake, and it worked! It was actually pretty easy; I just made a batch of each and then poured it in to the pan. It came out amazingly straight. I had a lot of fun making the lily pads.

Joseph's presents were a little people house that I got on e-bay (the same one I had when I was little,) and a drum with music instruments inside of it. We were going to also give him a Tonka dump truck and Tonka front end loader, but decided against it at the last minute. We gave him the first two in the morning, and were going to give him the trucks in the afternoon so he wouldn't be too overwhelmed with so many new things all at once. Last time, at Christmas, this seemed a good strategy, but for a couple of days afterward he would periodically ask for more presents. Today he seemed so involved in his first two presents that I didn't want to ruin it with "too much" stuff. I will save those trucks for another time; I'm sure he will enjoy that sort of thing for quite some time yet.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Happy Birthday, Joseph!

From this...

to this....

in just two short, yet eventful, years.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

How about a Train?

Today I was telling Joseph that tomorrow is his birthday, and that I am going to make him a cake, we will sing Happy Birthday to him, and that he will get a present. So with big eyes he said 'How about a train?'

Now, most people would just be dumb-founded that a two year old could be so astute, however I will explain what he most likely meant. About a week ago I said to him that his birthday was coming, and also mentioned that he will get presents on his birthday. As a joke (for me) I asked him if he remembered his last birthday, and he said (with the same wide eyes as this morning) "Ja, Jo-jo got a train!" Which means he is remembering Christmas. That is really not too hard to believe, since it was only five months ago. I guess that train really did make an impression on him though!

Monday, April 30, 2007


Joseph has always liked it when I sing to him. Lately he is singing a lot himself, and the other morning I was able to take a candid video of him singing 'Johnny' along with the recording of Edith Piaf (unfortunately it is too large to put on the Internet, but I will see what we can do.)
Most of the time his favorite song to sing is 'The Wheels on the..." I didn't fill in the last word, because Joseph fills that in himself with bus, car, bicycle, backhoe, dump truck, etc. This evening I was surprised to hear though, that he was actually getting the right descending pitch when he sang 'round and round.' Usually he tries to get different pitches, but it is often quite random.
Now, he is even starting to make up songs for which he has no reference. This morning when I was getting dressed he told me he was singing a song. I hadn't been paying too much attention to what he was doing (which I thought was just talking to his bunny.) I said 'oh, will you sing it for me?) And so he sang 'bunny brown, bunny brown, bunny brown' trying for different pitches with each 'bunny brown.'

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sometimes Clouds Yell (a.k.a. Mythic Thinking)

This morning we were in the midst of a big thunderstorm, and this caused a bit of fear in our house. Both Joseph and Spot were scared by the thunder; Joseph looked at me as if he wanted to know what that horrible sound could be, and Spot just sat there shaking. I told Joseph "Oh, that is just the Clouds talking to each other, sometimes they yell." This seemed to mostly satisfy him, but then he noticed how scared Spot looked and said "Spot is scared." I just said "Yes, Spot is scared, but he doesn't understand that it is just the clouds talking." Then Joseph was O.K. with all the noise. After his nap in the afternoon, another bout of thundering began, and Joseph got a far away look in his eyes. I asked him "What was that?" to see what he would say. He said "The Clouds talking." For fun I took it further and asked him "What are they talking about?" He responded in all seriousness "Cars. Talking about cars." A little while later, of his own accord, he told me "The Clouds are riding around in Cars."

This was so neat for me, because it relates to the last book I read The Power of Play by David Elkind. According to David Elkind, children don't reach the Age of Reason until they are somewhere around 6 or 7. This is when they can reason things out like adults, and want more scientific type explanations for phenomena. Before the age of reason, children's mode of thinking is mythic, or syncretic, which means they understand the world in a more concrete way than do adults and older children. Elkind states that this is how young children want things explained when they start asking about the world, and recommends that this is how we should deal with the never ending 'whys'. I thought about this when I thought up my talking Clouds, and it worked like a charm. It was amazing to me that by the end of it all, Joseph had created his own Myth about clouds that involved cars. I suspect that I will use this method often in the future, because not only did it work really well, but it was a lot of fun too, for both me and Joseph. Now if only I can figure out what to tell Spot...

Boy, is he Smart!

On Sunday morning Spot was sitting next to me with those big, soulful eyes that he uses especially to let me know that he wants something. I said "I don't know what you want, Spot." So he went and got his half chewed piece of rawhide (too small for him to chew on anymore) and puts it by me feet. I said "Oh, do you want another Chewie?," to which Spot responded by jumping up and down all over the place and barking. He is so good at communicating!

I bet you thought this was going to be about Joseph. Ha-ha, gotcha!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Power of Play

I just finished reading The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children by David Elkind.

It is about the psychology of play, and Elkind discusses how important old-fashioned play is to children's development. By old-fashioned, I mean the kind of play that is not related to screens (Computer, T.V., etc.) He outlines the developmental stages of children, and discusses what type of activities are beneficial to their development considering these stages. Next he discusses how children's play has changed, and the possible effects that this could have on their development. Finally he gives ideas for parents to provide positive play experiences for their children.

Far from being a stuffy academic, Elkind offers understandable, as well as practical, information about the developmental stages of children, and how these stages effect what they get out of the activities in which they engage. He discusses that the advertisements for most computer games, as well as DVD's marketed to babies and young children, exaggerate their possible usefulness because they are not based on any real evidence. Basically they just appeal to parents fears of not giving their children an academic advantage (no matter how foggy the claims seem.) He also discusses how babies don't understand two-dimensional images on a screen the same way an adult does. This really makes a lot of sense to me. When I was learning to identify birds, I looked at some bird I.D. books with real photos, and some with just drawings. The ones with the drawing were always better and easier to learn from, because they took the average characteristics of the birds of the species. Sometimes the photos were extremely difficult to even see what the book was trying to illustrate, and I already knew what a real live bird is like! A baby does not, which is Elkind's point exactly. We need to provide real, not simulated, experiences for our children in order for them to enjoy, and learn from the world. Adults can often forget that for a child, the real world is full of magic, no matter how mundane it may be to us.

Well, in order to not give the wrong impression, I should say that Elkind is not completely against screen time. He says that in moderation it is okay, however we need to make sure that kids also have the time to play spontaneously. This leads to another thing that Elkind opposes that is hugely popular today: organized sports. Once again, he says that the evidence of the benefit for young children just isn't there, and also, that for older children a sports team in moderation is okay. However, he definitively states that the more emphasis on play, and not competition, the better. And the best of all, according to Elkind, is when kids are involved in spontaneous sports that the kids in the neighbourhood initiate themselves (with no parental involvement.) I couldn't agree more.

I have such great memories of spontaneous play in my own childhood. I am so glad that I didn't have to deal with being on a competitive sports team ( I did do fun dance classes) and I got lots of free time in the neighbourhood and my favourite place of all, the backyard. I have relatively few memories of T.V. but lots, and lots of memories of games, and play-acted scenarios that I played with my sister, the neighbour kids, and very often just by myself. I think my spontaneous play as a child, combined with the non-school related reading that I did, attributed heavily to the fact that I am an artist now. Childhood play is so important, and so often people blow it off like it is irrelevant. Let them play, let them play; they will become better people for it.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Beautiful Day

Today was a beautiful, though windy, day. I got to use my clothes line again, which Jim secured with some rope, so I got lots of laundry done in the morning.

In the afternoon we went to the park to fly Jim's new dragon kite. It was a bit too windy, so we only flew it for a little while.

Afterward we played in the park, and I took a walk with Spot. That is when I saw these pinwheels.

Spot is NOT a Flower

The last few weeks Joseph has taken to putting dirt on Spot in the garden, which is something that both Spot and I were mostly ignoring. Then yesterday morning I was watering my seed starts, and afterward I put down my watering can on the porch. Joseph thought it would be fun to chase Spot around the garden with it, so I shouted "Joseph, Spot is NOT a flower! Does he look like a flower to you?" Joseph stopped, looked at me, looked at Spot, and then said "Ja, Spot is... a flower." Then of course we laughed, but he didn't do it again the rest of the day.

Treasure Map

This week I was making a treasure map. The house is paper mache, and then I used magazine photos to decorate it. It is something I read about at MotheringDotCommune.
The idea is that you take pictures and collage them to make an image of what you want in you life. Last year I did one for the first time, but I drew it because I didn't have access to magazines (we were traveling.) I was really happy with the result, and it was neat to see how much it really did seem to influence my year. I put it away after our trip, and then didn't look at it again until about a month before this treasure mapping time. So I guess these things really do have power, even if you don't actively concentrate on them.
Click here if you want to make a treasure map of your own; don't be discouraged if by the rules it is too late. I think most of the power is in focusing on what you want, visualizing it, and then finishing the collage, drawing, or whatever.

Monday, April 16, 2007

City and Nature

This morning I took Joseph to the Bennett-Martin Library which is in downtown Lincoln. It is so nice to go there; the art books are pretty much all at this branch, they have a pretty courtyard with a fountain with some nice figurative sculptures, and overall it just feels more cosmopolitan than the other branches. I had taken Joseph there about a month ago, and soon after we got there he remembered that they have a large (4 feet long) cardboard bus on display in the children's section.
After the library we went to a cafe near the University to meet Jim. I always love going to cafes, especially ones that are near Universities. We sat outside because the weather was quite warm today. Joseph loved sitting outside because so many interesting vehicles go past the cafe.
Afterward we went home and had a nap and then spent the afternoon planting seeds and relaxing in the yard. When Jim got home he took Joseph for a bike ride, and I relaxed on a blanket with Spot, and looked up at the branches of the Oak Tree. There are lots of birds around lately and there were a few singing in the branches. I think we are on the brink of the migration because lately I have seen lots more species around. I have seen Brewer's Blackbirds, Starlings, Robins, House Sparrows, Cardinals, and Blue Jays pretty frequently. The last few days I have been seeing lots of Grackles and today I saw something with big white eye patches. I am not sure what it was, though perhaps it was a white crowned sparrow.
It is so nice that here in Lincoln we are so close to Downtown, and then also have a nice backyard were we can see lots of wildlife.  We also have a resident rabbit, lots of squirrels, and bats.


One morning this weekend Joseph woke up really early and was trying to think of ways to convince us it was time to get up. So out of the blue he said "Daddy hear a dog." Jim and I looked at each other a bit puzzled and then Joseph said, with that very earnest look of his, "...Go check it out." We laughed so hard!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Antigone (comparison of translations)

I picked up Antigone at the library this last week. I ended up getting two versions; one copy translated by Robert Bagg, and the other translated by Richard Emil Braun. I chose to read them both because I thought it would be interesting to see how they differ in the translation. The Bagg version claims that the author tried to satisfy the desire to be accurate, as well as considering how the words would sound to the reader. The Braun version states that 'only translators who write poetry themselves can properly recreate these tragedies." Well, I finished reading Antigone this afternoon, and I found that reading both versions, side by side, was definitely a good decision. I think that I got a much fuller understanding of the play than if I had only read one. I enjoyed it so much that I really wish that I had studied Ancient Greek so I could read what Sophocles actually wrote himself.
Well, who knows what will happen in the future.

As far as the two versions go, I think I enjoyed the Bagg version a little bit more. In the beginning of the play I felt like the Braun version was more emotive, but somewhere around the middle, he started to lose me sometimes. I would go back to the Bagg version, and feel like I was understanding it better, and in reality I didn't think the poetry in the Braun version was better, except in the very beginning where Antigone is talking with her sister.

In the end, Antigone was so absorbing, I have decided to continue reading the Bagg version. The book that contains this translation of Antigone is The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles, and also includes Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Kolonos, as well as an interesting essay about Greek Theater.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I just finished reading Cymbeline by William Shakespeare. I am going to just give a brief review of it, but as the play is rather convoluted, I'm not sure how true that will be. I will note now that while reading this play I listened to the dramatized play on CD that was produced by Arkangel.

Cymbline takes place in Britain and Rome during the time of Caesar. It is about King Cymbeline and how his daughter, Princess Imogen, marries a commoner by the name of Posthumus Leonatus without the King's knowing. When the king finds out, he banishes Posthumus to Rome. The Queen feigns sympathy to Imogen, and promises to appeal to the King for her. The Queen, Imogen's evil stepmother, has personal motivations that involve getting rid of Imogen so her son Cloten can take the throne. Later in the story Posthumus comes to believe that Imogen has been untrue, and convinces his servant to murder her. After lots of confusion and misunderstanding, the whole thing is resolved and Posthumus and Imogen are reunited, and there is general harmony and good will toward all.

That is really only the overriding plot of the play; there are at least three subplots that at first examination seem incongruous. As I alluded to above, there are lots of evil things instigated by the Queen, but also there are Imogen's two older brothers who were kidnapped when they were very young by a Lord who was betrayed by the King, and not told that they were princes until the end of the story. They are later reunited with their family, and are fully reinstated as rightful heirs to the throne. And of course, there is a war between Rome and Britain.

Throughout the play there are many magical elements such as magic potions that make people seem as though they are dead, and an appearance by the god Jupiter (remember this takes place in Caesar's day.) My favorite scene is where the dead family of Posthumus appear as ghosts and sing of his fortune and fate. They beg the god Jupiter for his life, and afterward, when he wakes from this 'dream' he finds a 'book' that in prophetic language his tells him his fate (amazing poetry.) The appearance of the ghosts is entirely sung, and the poetry made me feel like I was seeing though the veils that separates us from the spirit realm.

It is very difficult to give a concise plot summery of the play (as one can probably discern from my writing) and I had a hard time finding any criticism about it. If you have never heard of this play before, that is really not surprising; this play has fallen hugely out of favor during the last century, but I would argue that this is in part because of it's complexities, and also that the tastes of modern audiences desire a more clear and concise plot. To the play's credit Alfred, Lord Tennyson said it was his favorite, and John Keats also admired it as one of his favorites. I encourage those who have read Shakespeare's more well known works, to try reading this play. It is much more complex than a simple overview writing about it such as this can really express. I also highly recommend listening to the play on CD while reading it. It is not possible to watch it on film, so much of the nuances that a dramatic cast can reveal are only possible through listening to it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dry Nights

I think we are really to a point where I can truly say that Joseph is potty trained. For those who don't know, we have been doing a method called Elimination Communication (E.C.) You can read more about it here. He has not been wearing diapers during the day for about two and a half months, and about a week and a half ago, I took the plunge and put him in underwear at night too. For a couple of weeks his diaper was dry every morning, and he even woke up several nights to tell me "Potty." So, I decided to just take a chance, and try putting him in underwear at night again. I had done it before, and we even had a solid week of dry nights (he was about 10 months then,) but then he started trying to walk and we had lots of wet nights again. So, I thought this time maybe we can do it, because he was actually waking up and wanting to sit on the potty. The first night was a dry one, and then the second night he peed twice. The next two days he also had lots of accidents, and so we almost put him back in diapers at night. I didn't really want too, but I also didn't want all that laundry! So that second night I asked him if he wanted a diaper or underwear, and he said "diaper." I put it on him, and then about 10 minutes later, when he was lying down to go to sleep, he started to cry 'underwear, underwear.' He was dry that night, and every night since. It is so interesting that he when he cried to wear underwear, he seemed to be making a conscious decision about it all; when it was his choice to wear underwear he took it, and happily uses the potty at night. We still have accidents during the day once in a while, but they are getting farther and farther apart. E.C. is so great! I don't think potty training would have gone so smoothly without it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Sometimes Joseph just amazes me with how well he communicates. I know I am his mother, but tell me if this wouldn't surprise you coming from a 23 month old.
Last Friday I took Joseph to my La Leche League meeting and told him we were going there beforehand. He frowned and said, "Baby take van." He was talking about the last time we had gone when he was playing with a toy van, and a 7 month old came up to him and took it away from him. He cried, and ended up getting it back, but I guess it really impressed him. Anyway, I have been talking a lot about sharing with him, because that is one of the sign language words on our sign language video that we watch with him, and he is just starting to have difficulty with playing with toys around other kids. So back to Friday morning- about an hour before leaving he said he wanted to take along his shape sorter toy that has keys to unlock the doors. I said, "well maybe the baby can play with it too". I forgot about it and then just as we were leaving, he went and got it. I said, "well actually it is pretty big, so we should probably leave it at home, and anyway, they have lots of other cool toys there". He insisted on taking it, and said "Baby take it!" I thought, wow, maybe he wants to share it, but could hardly believe that he could be thinking that. So, when we got to the meeting, he stood by my chair for a while, holding the shape sorter and watching the other kids. One of the older boys came over and wanted to play with it, and Joseph gave it to him willingly (which was unprecedented.) He watched him with it for a minute, and then ran over to get the van. The whole time we were there, the other kids played with the shape sorter off and on, and Joseph mostly played with the van. I think he really was thinking to share his toy, but I am still surprised that he could think about it all in such a complex way. I am eager to see what happens this next Friday.

Monday, April 9, 2007


Last Friday at my La Leche League meeting, the conversation turned toward staying home with ones' children when they are young, and the current attitudes of American society concerning this. Sequencing by Arlene Rossen Cardozo was mentioned by the leader as an interesting book concerning this topic. I took it home and read it over the last weekend.

Written almost twenty years ago, it is interesting to think that much of what is discussed in this book about the issues concerning womens' combining of career and parenting is relevant today. In the first part of the book, Cardozo begins the book with a review of the feminist movement. She also discusses the Superwoman Myth (the women who has a full-time career, family, social life, etc, all while getting enough sleep,) and proposes that women are finding a new way to have it all, and that is through Sequencing their lives. Sequencing, a term coined by Cardozo, is when a woman has a full life (career in her definition, though I would not define it so narrowly) before having children, then takes some years off to stay home with her children, and finally reintegrates career into her life when her children are a bit older. The first part continues with how a woman comes to the decision that she will stay home with her children.

The second part of the book discusses the reality of staying home, from how women cope with a change in identity, to what these women who stay home actually do to make there lives rich. It ends with a chapter that discusses how women make the transition from staying home to reintegrating career back into their lives.

The third part of the book discusses how and when these women go back to work. Cardozo discusses how things like the ages of ones children and field affect the time and type of reintegration of career.

Overall this was a good overview of the subject of mothering and career, and how one can integrate the two in realistic ways. The book is full of interviews with women that give it a feeling a practicality. I would recommend this book to anyone who wonders not only if it is possible to raise children and have a career, but also how; it really can be done, just not all at once.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Snow Showers Early
Snow Showers Early
25° F
Cloudy with scattered snow showers mainly during the evening. Cold. Low near 25F. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 30%.

This is the prediction for tonight. And to think, two days ago Joseph and I were at the garden store buying seeds for flowers and vegetables.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Once Upon a Time 2007

I found this challenge though a comment on my blog, and it appears that I am doing it by default. What I mean is that a lot of the reading on my Spring Reading Thing 2007 reading list fits the Mythology and Folklore category of this Challenge, and that is what Once Upon a Time 2007 is about.

I guess I am doing Quest 4 because my books only fit two of the four categorise, Mythology and Folklore. It is funny though, I had originally thought to read A Midsummer Night's Dream, as it would be so poetically fitting, but felt like I didn't want to make my list too heavy with Shakespeare, and Cymbeline was really calling me.

Anyway, here is my Once a Upon a Time 2007 list:
Cymbeline by William Shakespeare
The Odyssey by Homer
Antigone by Sophocles
The Story of King Arthur and his Knights by Howard PyleSelected Poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

***I've been inspired to add a couple of books to my challenge list. (14, April)
The Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Anne of Green Gables

I just finished reading Anne of Green Gables. My first experience with this story was with the movie, and recently I listened to it on CD. I felt like listening to it was the same as reading it, and certainly it was close, but reading it was much richer. I love the wholesome characters of this story; it transported me to another world. Montgomory's descriptive passages are vivid and poetic. It was a great joy to read this in the early spring afternoons, while Joseph slept. So many of the delightful times in the book are during springtime.

I do have some criticism, though. I felt like chapter 33, The Hotel Concert, didn't really fit in with the story. It seemed an unnecessary digression, and was really kind of flat compared with all the other chapters. Also, I didn't understand how when only Gilbert and Anne are doing Second Year work at Queens (enabling them to get a First Class teaching license) that Ruby Gillis and Jane Andrews will also be teaching the following year. Perhaps it is because I don't understand the Canadian Schooling System, but I do find this confusing. If anyone understands this, I would be grateful to know.

I absolutely recommend reading this book if you haven't yet. As far as editions go, I highly recommend the Junior Illustrated Library edition, illustrated by Jody Lee. It is so beautiful, and the illustrations draw one quickly into the beautiful, fresh world of Avonlea.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Othello Film (Raving Reviews)

I finally got around to watching Othello last night. I was going to watch it the evening before I met with the discussion group, but life happened and I didn't get to watch it then. Afterward, I didn't really feel that excited to see it, because I had watched a program that featured some English professors discussing Othello, and also had some scenes in order to show the audience what scene exactly they were talking about. Well, it wasn't even a real movie mind you, but I still got the chills when Othello murdered Desdemona, and it haunted me later on. So anyway, I sort of felt that maybe I better not watch the movie, because of this first reaction. I kept the film around though, if for nothing else then that it is starring Kenneth Branaugh as Iago, and he is my favourite Shakespearean actor.
Well, am I ever glad that I did watch it! It was suburb; the costuming, the set, the acting, everything. I even feel like now I understand the character Emilia, and why she gave Iago the handkerchief, because of how they did the scene where she gives it to him (this was a real problem for me before.)
Branaugh's Iago is brilliant. It was amazing to see how he would be so caring, and human when talking with someone, and then a second later, when looking at the viewer his eyes would completely change, like he was another person, or rather, another creature. Very creepy indeed.
The murder scene wasn't so bad however, and I was very glad for that, because I was dreading it. Too often those things are too gory and graphic nowadays. I really enjoyed how the director chose to portray certain things like how Iago comes to the decision of what he is going to do to ruin Othello. He was playing with chess pieces. I thought that this was very poetic, considering that it really was like only a game to him. Also at one point Iago is watching Desdimona and Cassio speaking though the refection on his knife; oh, the poetry! I just can't get over how good this production is. I actually really want to see it again now, so that I can revel in the finer details.

Almost French

I finished reading Almost French by Sarah Turnbull last Saturday. It is a memoir of her experience as an expat living in Paris. I tossed back and forth while reading this book, between liking it and not. In the beginning I was rather taken with it, as I love reading about Europe and Europeans, but after a while I got kind of annoyed with it. She didn't attempt to hide her ugly Australian in her account of her story, but I would hope that she was exaggerating for the goal of trying to be funny. As someone who is European, I didn't not find these things funny, and as an American, I found myself embarrassed, knowing too well that Americans are often guilty of the same offences. Well, all of that is personal for me, but concerning the writing, I felt that she dragged on a bit too long about not fitting in, and worst of all, how no one was going out of there way to make her feel accepted. It just came off as whiny, and I really couldn't help feeling like she should be the one trying to fit in, and not trying to change the people she was choosing to live among. Well, about a third of the way through, the character of her story changed, and she seemed like she was actually making an effort to fit in. Many of her descriptions of Paris life were fun, and made me long to go there again. She wrote a fun chapter on fashion, and how the french look at clothes. I think that was the best part for me. Overall, this was an average book for me. I don't think I would have finished it if it wasn't for the fact that we are reading it in my book club, however it ended up more fun toward the end and I am glad I got to read what she had to say about french fashion and food.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Our Incredible Library

Time and again I have been amazed by our library here in Lincoln. It is actually a collection of seven buildings that are spread out around Lincoln. On Wednesday I went to the library with Joseph and a CD course on Russian Literature caught my eye. I am not interested in Russian Literature, but I thought that there might be other things of interest in the series. I checked it out at home, and sure enough there are lots, and lots, of really interesting courses including Greek Mythology, History from Antiquity to the Renaissance, and even Medieval Literature! The courses are a series of seven one hour lectures, along with the suggestions for the readings one should do to follow the course. Anyway, after checking out the website, which you can see here, I went the library catalogue and soon found out that they actually have every title that I typed in! This is no small surprise, because these courses cost around $100.
Numerous other things have really caught my attention about how vibrant this library is. Some other great things are that there is at least one story time four days a week (at alternating branches,) a place to sit and have a drink (though not really a cafe, it is called that), movie nights, and lots of different groups meeting in the community rooms. The library in Lincoln is truly a community center, and it is used heavily.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Apparently there is no such word. I had long thought that this was the word one would use in order to discuss feelings of deep distress, however I came across heart-rending in my reading today (which I had never heard of.) I looked it up and found that it has the definition that heart-wrenching would have Then I looked for heart-wrenching, and it wasn't even there. I decided to check the Internet, to see if it was just me who has this misunderstanding. Apparently I am not though, because I found lots of documents that contain it.
How heart-rending!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Just One of those Days

Today was one of those days, for all three of us. The clothesline broke
(it fell over from a large gust of wind,) the truck battery died, and
Joseph pulled a ligament around his knee, to name a few things.

On the bright side, we had a delicious dinner of Baked fish (Orange Roughy) over orzo, with sauteed vegetables (eggplant, bell peppers, and zucchini), and spinach/ arugula salad. Now I am going to eat some strawberries. MMMM.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


I am so excited; I got a clothes line! Jim made the stand last weekend out of the big bucket you can see in the photo, and by filling it with concrete (around the tube for the post.) I got to first use it on Thursday, and the clothes dried so much faster than they dry in the bathroom. It has been humid lately, so that is why they are not drying so well.

A Package from Holland

The other morning we got a package from my mom in the Netherlands with lots of great stuff. The pyramid of yarn will become a beautiful little cardigan from my viking knitting book. I haven't made anything in this color before, but I really like it. It is a very feminine pattern, so I think this 'old rose' is very appropriate. The other things are some beautiful tea and hand towels for my kitchen, a really cute sweater for Joseph with a tractor on it, and some sweaters for Jim (from Oom Folkert.) Jim really likes the sweaters, although considering the weather lately, it will be quite a while before he can wear them. Joseph did not arrive in the package, of course, but he eagerly looked at the photos that were included inside, and it was easy to persuade him to sit in the middle of it all. He loves the photos, especially of Beppe with the tractor, and of Beppe's two cats which he recognized instantly. Thank you, Mem!

Discovering the Meaning of Life

When I was sixteen I launched a survey among my friends, and coworkers at the movie theater where I worked, and asked what for them was the meaning of life. When I first started thinking about it, I had no idea how different the answers I would get would be from the type of answer of which I was thinking. I remember how stunned I felt when my boss said that it is to work, and to work hard. Most of my friends said that it was simply to have fun. I was equally stunned by this. I mean, there is so much more to life than work, and also so, so, so much more to life than just having fun. However, there was one person who felt the way I did, and that was my friend Brad. We had long discussions about the meaning of life, confirming that we both thought that there was more to the question than a one sentence response. For years I contemplated the question, and always ended up figuring that I would never be able to pin it down.

A year ago this spring, while on a walk under the beautiful puffy clouds that appear for only about two weeks each spring in Southern California, it occurred to me that I had actually discovered the meaning of life, at least for myself. I realized that I had known all along what the meaning of life was for me, but that I just hadn't put it together. What was so confusing was that I was always trying to boil it down to one, essential thing. But for me that one essential thing, is the link between study and art. The funny thing about it all, is that those two things I have been doing all my life, albeit not always in an orthodox manner. While it may sound pedantic to some to pin a name of something like this, it was important to me. The problem for me was that whenever I was studying I felt like I had strayed from the path, if study was not my purpose in life. Likewise, when I was making art I felt like I was just flouncing around having a good time, if that was not my purpose. When I was studying, I pined to be making art, and when I made art, I always spent lots of time in the library. Now I finally understand that this is often the case with artists; in order to create any work of substance, a person has to study a lot. And of course, also make lots of artwork. So even when I thought I was so lost, so purposeless, I was actually right on track all along.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Preposition Practice

Joseph is trying to use prepositions more and more, and it is just so cute. So cute that it is difficult to resist repeating what he says, the way he says it. This morning I told him it was time to leave for the library and so then he said "Going to, in the car!"

Something else he says that is so cute is 'key car'. As in 'car key.' This is something he started saying last fall, and for some strange reason he started saying it again today.

As an aside, another really cute thing he is doing lately is playing lots of pretend games. He likes to pretend he is going somewhere and last weekend he kept saying "bye, going to librabry." Then Jim and I have to say "Bye!" or he will keep telling us, getting more and more demanding until we acknowledge that he is going somewhere. He decided that a tree in the backyard is the library, and I decided to join him in the game and told him the the leaves are books. He loved it, and has been playing this game all week. For fun last weekend I told him that the seed pods from the tree are dictionaries, and the sticks are grammar books, not that he knows what that means, of course. Today he brought me a stick and told me it was a 'Grama book.' He pays remarkably good attention to details!

First day of Summer

Yes, I said 'Summer', because that is what it felt like here today. The last week and a half have been quite warm, and we have been drinking our coffee outside almost everyday. This morning when we were going to the library, it was balmy out. I just couldn't believe how similar it felt to last August when we first moved here. I guess the old stereotypes of Midwest weather (it is either Hot or Cold) are really quite appropriate.

Today after Joseph's nap I took Spot for a walk, and wore Joseph on my back in the Ergo. When we got back I was positively sweating, and had to put on a short sleeved shirt. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the backyard and Joseph mostly played in the dirt. Here he is stopping for a snack. He is wearing his new Boy Shoes. I don't know why, but that is what he calls them. I think that maybe when I was sorting through the shoes at the store I might have said something about boy shoes and girl shoes.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Once upon a child...

This is the name of one of my favorite stores here in Lincoln. It is a kids store that sells mostly used kids clothes, toys, and furniture (and some new also.) I went there on last Wednesday, because after the very warm weather we had in the beginning of the week I decided that I better get some new clothes for Joseph (well, new to us anyway.) I got some really cute things, and they look mostly new. It's great because a lot of the outfits cost only $6.50, and that is probably only a third of the price from the same type of outfit in the store. My best find on this trip, however, was a pair of pants a sweater that will only fit him for a little while longer because they are size 18 months. It is a Gymboree outfit of a light brown sweater with an orange fox, and brown cords with tiny foxes and leaves embroidered into them. It's not what I was looking for, but I just couldn't leave it, and since it was used I didn't feel like it was a waste of money. I will post a picture when I take one (well, it turned out to be not such a good photo, but look how nice he is coloring!)

Some other great things I got are a work bench with tools for his birthday, and a rocking chair that will come in handy next fall when we are in the house a lot again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


It is so true that we hear echos in the voices of our children. So far it has been a nice thing, though. A while ago Joseph started saying 'Umm.., sure' in order to say yes. Then I noticed that I say that too.
Tonight we were taking a walk and he wanted to touch a tree that we were passing. I said OK, and then, for no particular reason other than my naturalist background, I said 'That is an Oak Tree.' He said 'Have Oak Tree at home...that's right, Jo-jo. ' I almost burst out laughing, because, while I think I have probably told him that the Oaks around our house were Oaks, I also heard my own voice say 'that's right, Joseph' when he did.

Midwest Weather and a New Fence

If I had to characterize Midwest weather with one word, I would pick variable. Two weeks ago we were building snow creatures, and now yesterday we sat outside to have coffee in the evening. It was almost too hot to wear jeans during the day, and I definitely had to take my socks off.
Joseph is absolutely loving the warm weather. On Saturday we went to the park, but we still had to wear light jackets. There were lots of other people there, and everyone seemed happy to have this warm turn of weather. Yesterday I took Joseph outside for most of the day, and I decided that we HAD to figure out some sort of fencing for the yard. Joseph thinks it is hilarious to run toward the street and scare me, though he has never actually gone into the street. Another thing that I also am not crazy about, is that as soon as we are outside five minutes (if it lasts that long) he insists that we take a walk. It was really starting to drive me crazy to not be able to sit and have my coffee outside, and also not so good for Joseph because he never got to just focus on things in our yard and was always completely obsessed with things out of the yard. So, this evening Jim put up a fence around the back area of our house. It is great! Already Joseph seemed more relaxed in the yard, though a couple of times he tried to push the fence down. Toward the end of the evening Joseph and I played peek-a-boo around the giant old oak tree in the back yard. We have never been able to play relaxed games like that in the yard before, because he was always so focused on getting out of the yard. Oh, what a relief; I think this fence will really change my life.