Wednesday, May 28, 2008

wow, it's been a long time

Mom was here for a visit and we took her to the airport this morning (got up at 5 am YAWN), so I haven't been on the computer as much. We didn't get around to doing any sightseeing, etc. DH was busy programming all weekend, the boys were thrilled that the neighbors were working on the back fence and ended up playing in their house for quite a while on Saturday and Monday, supervised by the youngest daughter who's 13. Mostly we hung around and went to the grocery store a few times. Granny got to hold the baby a bunch and we all got to spend some time with her.

Next time she'll have to stay for more than a week. HINT HINT. And now I'm feeling very homesick, so am searching for flights for us to go to Ohio. But when it's over $900 per person to fly at Christmas, it sure looks like we won't fly at Christmas. Oh, only $550-ish to go in October when we have a week off. Maybe next year spring break? about the same price. so if we get a seat for Isabelle, too, then it's over $2500.

ETA: But we could do Amtrak for about $1200 total. 60+ hours each way in the train and arriving at 3:10 AM, plus losing about 3 days on each end of our vacation.... Maybe some summer we'll do that.

Monday, May 19, 2008

funny names (stuff that's my friends' fault)

From Liza Lee and Jen R.:

1. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (Mother and Father’s middle name):
Jean George

2. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother’s dad, father’s dad):
Victor Otto (Otto in his auto!)

3. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name):

4. DETECTIVE NAME: (favourite colour, favourite animal):
Blue Cat

5. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born):
Ruth Hamilton

6. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd fav colour, fav drink, add “THE” to the beginning):

The Green Coffee (ewwww)

7. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 3 letters of your last name):

8. GANGSTA NAME: (fav ice cream flavour, fav cookie)

Chocolate Double Chocolate

9. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pets name, current street name)
(pass - no pets and I'd rather not give my street name. bow before my paranoia)

10. STRIPPER NAME: (name of your fav perfume/cologne, fav candy):
Lavender Chocolate

11. PORN NAME: (1st pets name, street you grew up on):

Joshua Contreras (might work for a male stripper...)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Why classical music gets a bad name

We went to a concert last night with a small singing ensemble and some classical guitarists. We took the kids. The boys fidgeted some, but did really well for the first hour. They even did well for the second hour once we had found the children's activity bulletins for them (the concert was in a church).

I didn't get to stay in the sanctuary for the whole thing due to DD not wanting to fall asleep (I even spent about 1/4 of the time outside so the sound wouldn't carry from the lobby, then DH spent the last 1/4 outside with her so I could listen some more), but I was expecting that.

My biggest problem was that most of the music was slow and calm, not much to get people awake and smiling or laughing. Basically, I was hoping for a grown-up concert that the kids would enjoy some of. They didn't.

Let me backtrack - they sang some Renaissance music, some modern choral works, some madrigals, interspersed with classical guitarist played by himself and later with 2 other guitarists and after that with yet another guitarist as accompaniment to the madrigals. The music was wonderful.

It's just that if you want to bring people in and bring them back, the concert needs to be fun, not soothing for all but maybe 2 pieces. It needs to have more things that are exciting in some way - pathos, excitement, humor, even familiarity (so one acoustic guitar playing some songs from West Side Story was a good touch, but really quiet).

I sound like a plebeian, completely low-class poorly bred heathen and probably juvenile to boot, I know, but there are fun, fast works for small chorus and classical guitar. I love Faure's Pavane, but right after some quiet, calm Debussy and before something else equally tranquil, it just doesn't pop and sizzle and tends to fade into the woodwork. There have to be guitar adaptations of well-known classical pieces that really dance and amuse and get peoples' attention. There are fun, fast, exciting madrigal songs out there. You can even go inauthentic and sing some PDQ Bach madrigals - "My Bonnie Lass She Smelleth" is a classic in its own right. But mix it up a bit. And make the whole thing shorter. More than 2 hours is way long.

Other than our friend's kids (the friends are the director of the chorus and one of the singers), ours were the only kids there. It wasn't a children's concert (which I will strike out on a tangent to say are sometimes condescendingly dumbed down and even eye-rolling in their own right), so I wasn't expecting them to sing pop songs or winnie the pooh or something, but i daresay that the serious music-loving adults in the audience would have liked more wit and sparkle and maybe 1/2 an hour less. We finally left during the next to last song because the boys were starting to lose it - it was 9:30 and they had finished the activity sheets.

My boys have some exposure to classical music. Not as much as I would like, but it's up to me to do something about that. They've listened to the William Tell Overture on YouTube, they've seen the Nutcracker, and sometimes Dh puts on something while he's working in his office. But now they've been to a concert where they didn't really listen and got pretty bored. We shouldn't have stayed the whole time because they weren't really paying attention right from the start, but the madrigals were last on the program and I have a soft spot for madrigals.

Then DD screamed for the first 20 minutes in the car (me gritting my teeth and reaching back to pet her head, the boys with their fingers in their ears looking more and more stressed, Dh claiming it didn't bother him) until I got DH to stop in a parking lot and I soothed her for a bit (though she didn't want to eat, she was just completely worn out and therefore strung out). She then screamed for 5 more minutes and fell asleep. We got home after 10:30 and she proceeded to feed and fuss and fidget until at least 11:30. This morning, she fed at 5 and at 8 and then slept until noon. She's down for another nap and has been down for a couple of hours.

orthodontist visit

I took DS1 to his first orthodontist visit and with the careful explanation, with the nice doctor pointing at DS1's mouth, I now know that the overlapping teeth are not due to teeth that haven';t fallen out yet, but are because his teeth are way too big. In one case, there's a teeny-tiny gap and that's where the adult tooth is supposed to fit. The orthodontist wants him to have one of those x-rays where it's one continuous picture instead of some bite wing ones and then we'll talk about what he's going to do to make space in there.

So.... does this mean he's going to have 5 or 6 years of continual braces? do we wait until more teeth are in and do it all at once? poor guy.

hey Mom, how long did D have braces? It seems like she had something going on with headgear and so on for about 10 years. She's got gorgeous teeth now (at least did last I saw her).

Friday, May 16, 2008

isabelle sees the doctor

i took her yesterday and yep, she's fine and healthy and everything.

12 lbs 11 oz (80%)
24.75 in. long (95%)
head 15.5 in. (45%)

so other than the first shots, it was basically what we already knew - tall, skinny but not too skinny, with a little, round head.

she's outgrown most of her 3 month clothes and i took them to ds1's teacher from last year, who is expecting in the fall and now she's wearing new pretty summer clothes. yes, i'll have to take lots of pics of pretty dresses. :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

boys and their weapons

they're making light sabers out of zoob

they've never seen any part of any star wars movie and yet claim that darth vader's saber is red and he good guys have blue and green. i dunno. are they?

ETA: the good part is that they're coming up with endless variations on sabers and guns and whatever. i guess it's hard to use your creativity with zoob to pretend to dig wells in war-torn africa or something.

Isabelle update

Not new pictures, just general stuff.

She's 2 1/2 months old now and so very alert. She holds her head up extremely well and has reached the stage where she doesn't want it to be supported by the sling because she wants to see, but her head wobbles with every step, so I have to hold on to her. She was staring at people in the grocery store today with that wide-eyed "woah" expression (as DS2 calls it).

OK, one more knock on wood because I still can't quite believe it and superstitiously think that if I say it, it will jinx it, but she sleeps through the night. Like last night she went to sleep at 8:30 or so and woke up at 12:30 and then slept until almost 7. She had a shortish nap this morning before we went grocery shopping and is having a long one now. Sometimes she'll nap for 3 or 4 hours straight. And you will never be able to tell me that it's something that I am doing, because my two boys did not sleep through the night regularly until they were about a year old.

She's 100% ON when awake and then OFF when asleep. Or rather, she's fairly self-soothing and doesn't need to nurse every single time she wakes up halfway.

So now I have to hold my breath and hope that she doesn't decide to never sleep through the night again.

TMI Alert: The downside? I've had some spotting. No actual period yet. With the boys nursing at all times of day and night, I went 16-18 months before my cycles returned. /TMI>

No idea how much she weighs. I'm taking her for her first ever doctor visit this week. Still considering immunizations (that are supposed to start at 8 weeks in this country, I think?), but might delay those for a while still. So she'll be poked and prodded and weighed and all that.

In good news, even though I am still very overweight, I actually fit into some of my larger trousers! Serious muffin-top, but they pulled up and zipped. I need to dig out my shorts and other summery stuff because my maternity wear is all for cooler weather and it's heating up around here.

Oh, and I planted some stuff in my garden yesterday - it was a very good nap day so I got everything done that I wanted to. A friend had some extra plants after she finished hers, so I put in a cherry tomato, 2 patio tomatoes, and a bunch of onions, and then put some sage and flowers into big pots. I still haven't figured out what to do with the chives, because I only did one section of my raised beds and ran out of room. I might move the patio tomato plants to pots and put other viney tomato plants in the bed, but I'll have to decide that pretty soon before the plants get too well-adjusted to their new home.

Before the actual planting, I spent about an hour digging through my compost bins and putting tons of grass from it and from DH's lawn mowing of last weekend into the green waste container and putting the good compost on the garden. I haven't been good about caring for my compost in the last year or two, but still had a good inch+ of compost to dig into the one bed. I then had a massive headache from pollen and probably from the mold spores in the compost. But other than watering and weeding, we should be getting tomatoes in a month or two :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

That quilt I am working on

Click on the pictures to see them really big.

The whole quilt top - well, all except the last part of the border on the closest side. I had to go buy 10 more inches of that fabric to finish it. DS2 about to tunnel under it.

Close up of part of the center section: a couple of the I Spy blocks, and do you see now what I mean about peacock/lava lamp fabric? It's even better in person.

Straight-on shot of the center focal part. With DS2 counting how many small squares it would be across. He then figured out how many small squares there would be in the center section, if it were all small squares; that's actually the math problem he was working out on the white board in my last post.

I got backing fabric the other day - some dark navy/indigo 100% cotton sportswear fabric that matches the small dark squares - and a king-size bag of 80% cotton batting. The quilt top is just a bit too big to be queen-size. I am hoping I'll have enough of the sportswear fabric left to do the binding, too. I've been putting off laying it all out as a sandwich and pinning it for a couple of days and then have the task of quilting it, which should be ... fun. I'll just stitch in the ditch, but that's still a LOT of quilt to be shoving through the machine.

gorgeous kids (though not the best PICTURES of them)


Is it just me, or is this shade of pink really good on her?

DS1, math whiz

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sending good thoughts

To someone I have never met. A woman I know from a bulletin board that I have visited off and on for 5 or so years is going through an awful lot lately. She and her husband are divorcing but were going to stay together long enough to complete the adoption of a girl from Haiti, her husband is - how should I say this? - not a very good father to their son (also adopted) which has caused and/or exacerbated behavior problems, then the adoption was dragging along so long that their home study expired and it would have cost them thousands of dollars that they didn't have to do a new one, so they had to abandon it and leave the girl in the orphanage waiting for a new family to come along.

And this is a caring, giving woman. Kind hearted, I'd even say. Vegan because she doesn't want to cause harm to animals, adopting internationally from one of the poorest countries in our hemisphere, a houseful of adopted cats, etc etc

Saturday, May 3, 2008

yummy yummy yummy yummy fruit salaaaaaad

Boys were watching the Wiggles a bit ago. It's been a while since they did that regularly. They never dance along anymore, but DS1 was singing.

And now I want to make fruit salad for supper. Oh, I was going to make chicken stew, but I don't have the energy. I think I'll just bake some chicken instead.

I read a brand new suspense/action romance novel by an author that I usually like and it bored me silly. I mean loads of chatting and repeating that didn't advance the plot. It could have been a short story, but it was a 350 page long trade paperback. So comedies by Donna Kauffman yes: suspense, no.

I am currently reading a Harlequin Blaze by Leslie Kelly. I got it because someone recommended another book of hers (a longer novel, not a series one) and I liked it pretty well and this one is set in the same town with some characters overlapping. She's a pretty good writer and I am going to see what I can get by her from the library.

DD has been down for a nap for over 2 hours right now so I am almost done with my quilt top. I ran out of the fabric I was using for the last row of binding and need to go buy about a quarter of a yard of it; I'm really really hoping that there is still a 1/4 yard of it. Since I deviated from my pattern on the borders, I have quite a bit of one fabric left and have run out of everything else. I was planning on keeping the last yard of lava/peacock fabric for myself, but ended up using it in the border, all but a piece about 4 inches wide and 10 inches long. Sigh. Oh, and it's going to be about 96" x 96" which is what, 8 feet? Not as long as your usual queen size quilt, but a bit wider. I hope it looks OK on their bed. I took some pictures which I will post when Dh come and reboots the other computer that he has booted up in Linux.

Speaking of which, I bought Quilter's Newsletter this month on the strength of the picture on the cover: I would love to have A) the skill; and B) the patience to make something like that. Not in oranges, though. I could make the pattern pieces larger and use solid pieces instead of the teeny tiny triangles that make up the feathers and make the curved square-ish pieces straight lines instead of curves and.... well, basically, I wouldn't be making the same quilt at all. Dreaming the impossible dream :)

Dh mowed the lawn! I should have made this the first item, probably, since it hasn't happened in a very very long time. He even did the back yard, which hasn't been mowed in a couple of years. It doesn't have a sprinkler system back there, so it all gets dried out and turns to hay and then in the fall when the rains start again, it flops over and new grass starts growing. It turns so hard that the kids won't be able to run around barefoot in it over the summer, but it is nonetheless easier to run in it this way than with 2 foot tall dried-out spikes of death.

I have one part of my vegetable garden that I want to dig out to put in some tomato plants this year. Usually, I put in a lot more stuff, but since I haven't started and don't generally have a lot of time when I'm not either feeding or carrying the baby, I won't. I keep looking at it and not doing it, so I need to wet it down and dig it up and shovel some of our copious compost into it. I'm thinking of getting some plastic to put down to keep the moisture in and the weeds from growing.

Oh, and another tidbit that should be at the top: Isabelle slept ALL NIGHT last night - from 10:30-ish to 6:30. Knock on wood that it's not a fluke. I woke up with torpedoes.

Anyway, I shouldn't have thought about the baby, because now the milk's threatening to come out.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

thinking about music

how many songs do i know? some song that i am sure i haven't heard or even thought of in years popped into my head the other day, which made me ask that question. i have no idea how i would go about figuring it out and would i count songs that i only remember a snippet from or have forgotten how the chorus goes?

why yes, i am rambling. it's my birthday so my brain's gone on a long walk ;)

from jen r

Your Thinking is Concrete and Sequential

You are precise, orderly, and realistic.

You tend to get to the point and get things done.

Difficult, detailed work is easy for you. You take things step by step.

Time limits aren't a problem for you either. You work well with deadlines.

What does drive you crazy is any sort of task that isn't precisely laid out.

You don't like anything to be ambiguous. You prefer to deal with the facts at hand.

books you might or might not have read

From Liza Lee at Egret's Nest:

These are the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded.
Bold the ones you’ve read,
underline the ones you read for school,
italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish.
add (*) beside the ones you liked and would (or did) read again or recommend. Even if you read them for school in the first place.

__The Aeneid
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
American Gods
Anansi Boys
Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir*
Angels & Demons*
Anna Karenina
Atlas Shrugged
The Blind Assassin*
Brave New World
The Brothers Karamazov
__The Canterbury Tales
The Catcher in the Rye*
A Clockwork Orange
Cloud Atlas
Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed
A Confederacy of Dunces
The Confusion
The Corrections
The Count of Monte Cristo
Crime and Punishment
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time*
David Copperfield
Don Quixote
Eats, Shoots & Leaves*
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Fountainhead
Freakonomics: a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything*
The God of Small Things
The Grapes of Wrath
Gravity’s Rainbow
Great Expectations
__Gulliver’s Travels
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
The Historian: a novel
The Hobbit*
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Iliad
In Cold Blood: a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences*
__The Inferno
Jane Eyre
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
The Kite Runner
Les Misérables
Life of Pi: a novel*
Love in the Time of Cholera
Madame Bovary
Mansfield Park
Memoirs of a Geisha*
Mrs. Dalloway
The Mists of Avalon
Moby Dick
The Name of the Rose
Northanger Abbey
The Odyssey
Oliver Twist
The Once and Future King
One Hundred Years of Solitude
On the Road
__One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Oryx and Crake
A People’s History of the United States: 1492-present
__The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Poisonwood Bible
__A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Pride and Prejudice*******
The Prince
Reading Lolita in Tehran
The Satanic Verses
__The Scarlet Letter
Sense and Sensibility
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Silmarillion
The Sound and the Fury
__A Tale of Two Cities
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
The Time Traveler’s Wife*
To the Lighthouse (I've tried twice now...)
Treasure Island
The Three Musketeers
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Vanity Fair
War and Peace
Watership Down
White Teeth
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
Wuthering Heights
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance* (a quality book. oh I crack myself up!)