Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Gam!

This picture was taken in 2006, when Katie was baptised.  Four generations of women in my family, minus one great grandchild!

Today's post is just to say a great big Happy 90th Birthday to my grandmother!  Sure wish we could be there to help you celebrate, but I just want you to know that we are all thinking about you today, and love you very much!

Here's hoping you keep your good health and your spirit of getting out and doing fun things for years to come!

Love, Amy, Don,
Brittany, Brianna,
Abby, Katie, Emma,

and Madison.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book Review, a little bit late.

One of the things I've been keeping busy with, of course, is reading.  As you may remember, I am a member of a book club, affiliated with MOPS, that meets once a a month.  One of the books on my review list this month is from what we discussed this past meeting.  (Or rather, I would've discussed it with them, but I wasn't able to attend.)  The book is called "The Space Between Us", by Thrity Umrigar.
This book was examining the relationship between a very poor woman living in a slum in India and the woman she works for.  Although the women have worked very closely for several years, and their families have interacted with each other, it was truly astonishing and somewhat disturbing to read about the class distinctions, and how much higher up the employer felt she was, even as far as forbidding the servant to sit on her furniture or drink from her cups.  I enjoyed this book, and found it amusing that I read this book with an "accent".

Another really good book I read recently is called "Girl in Translation", by Jean Kwok.
This book tells the story of a girl who came to America from China with her mother.  They were sponsored by her aunt and uncle, who found jobs for this girl and her mother, as well as a place to live.  Sounds wonderful, right?  A touching family story?  Not quite.  The apartment they live in is an inhabitable building.  They work long hours for little pay in the garment industry.  The aunt deducts money from their pay to cover the cost of their airline tickets. The main character goes to school, speaking very little English, then works at the factory with her mother.  Little by little, the girl really pulls herself up, gaining admission to an exclusive school, where she works on the library to earn her scholarship, in her desparate attempt to help her mother.  Quite an inspiring story, even more so when you realize it is set in the present day.

My next book, "Fallen Leaves", by Adeline Yen Mah, was a little more challenging to read.  This autobiography is about a Chinese girl, whose mother died shortly after giving birth to her.  She has 1 older sister and 3 older brothers, and they all consider her unlucky.  Her father remarries, a woman they call "Niang", meaning stepmother, and Adeline's life really turns to misery then.  Adeline's father has another son and daughter by his second wife, and those two children are clearly the favorites.  The children from the first marriage are treated as second class citizens, but Adeline has it the worst  by far.  The only people that care for her at all are her aunt and grandfather, who also live in the same house.  They are completely dependant on Adeline's father for their own well being, and are thusly controlled by Niang as well, and can do little to help Adeline.  Although she eventually breaks their hold on her, the torment never really ends.  A disturbing book, right to the end.

"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet", by Jamie Ford, was a very sweet book.  Taking place in Seattle at the beginning of World War II, the main character is a Chinese boy going to an all white school.  His parents, who do not speak English, will not let him speak Chinese at home, as they want him to be an American.  The other children at school torment him.  Since the war started, his father makes him wear a button that says "I am Chinese."  A girl transfers to his school who is Japanese.  Since both of them are scholarship students, both work in the school cafeteria to "earn their keep", and become friends.  She and her family are rounded up and sent to a Japanese internment camp, and eventually the two friends lose touch with each other.  This book is about the boy, now an adult and widow, who has his memory stirred by the finding of Japanese familie's belongings, found in the basement of an old hotel.  The book is written between flashbacks of himself as a boy and himself as an adult, all centered around this Japanese girl, that he has come to love.  Very touching, and very well written.

Currently, I'm reading two books, "Fearless", by Max Lucado for my Bible study group, and "Hissy Fit", by Mary Kay Andrews.  Look for reviews of those and others coming later.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Backyard Camp Out

The girls have long been asking for us to take a camping trip, which I would really like to do, but the idea of camping with Maddie at this age is too daunting!  So, on the night of August 13, we compromised.  This is what the night looked like at our house:
Pretty, right?

I mean, look at that moon, and the sky was clear as a bell

So, I convinced Don to set up a tent in the backyard.  Between the two of us, we made quick work of it.  And, we "roughed" it.  By that I mean that we did not use air mattresses, even though I REALLY wanted one.  There wasn't enough room in the tent for all of them, and I couldn't have one and make the kids sleep on the ground.

Here is the tent:

See that strange glow?  Don ran an extension cord from the patio outlet so that I could have a reading light out there, after the kids fell asleep!  So, not really roughing it at all.

Here are 3 of my girls, all ready for bed.  Maddie slept in the house with Dad, Brianna was out for the night, and Brittany decided that she didn't really want to sleep in the backyard.

Here they are, all tucked in:  Abby, Emma, and Katie.  Aunt Becky had gotten them sleeping bags last Christmas, and while we had used them for family room slumber parties, this was the night we broke them in for outside use.  Although you can't really see them under all of the girls' "must have" blankets!

Brittany did come out and join us for a while, though.  We all took turns adding to a round robin type of story, and Brittany told the girls all about her day at school that day.

This is a picture of Katie, sound asleep.  I love the pose!  And yes, she really was sleeping.  I know this, because Brittany was tickling the poor girl, and the most she did was brush her hand across her face.

Abby fell asleep pretty quickly too.  I guess all the cool, fresh air, really wears you out!

And then there's Emma.

She had Brittany and I fooled for a good long while.  She kept a VERY straight face while Brittany was playing with her, and we honestly thought she was sound asleep too.  And then she cracked a smile, and that was the end of that.

This was what I woke up to the next morning.  Nylon sleeping bags, on a nylon tent bottom, with little wriggling girls in them all night migrate very well.  We all started out in a nice, neat row, but sure didn't stay that way long.  Here are Abby and Emma in one corner, and here's Katie in another.

We all had a really fun time though, and a surprisingly good sleep.  And I wasn't too stiff the next morning!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Mom's birthday

Since I seem to be doing things VERY out of order, trying to catch up on those things I haven't posted about for over a month, here is a post about my Mom's birthday, which was August 4th.

Mom and Dick came out for the Saturday before her birthday, and we all made an afternoon of it.

The camera didn't actually come out of hiding until after the kids were in pjs, which was actually quite early.  I'm not really sure why.  Here, Mom is reading a story called "Pinkalicious" to Katie.  Katie, as always, is very aware that a camera is pointing at her.

After story time, the Fancy Nancy board game came out, and all the little girls and Mom played that game.

Interspersed through the little kid entertainments were several vicious games of Spite and Malice, or as it's known around here, "Spider Mouse".

Next came present time.  Of course, no one here can open their own presents, the special expertise of the little people is always required.  Here, Emma is helping with the birthday card reading.  By the way, see the window?  It's full on daylight....I can't explaing the nightgowns and pajamas, I really can't.

Abby, (also in a nightgown!) is looking on as the next card is read.

This is Mom, asking me if I had made her card.  The answer was yes.  I was playing around with some quilling supplies, and made a really cute card with a frog on it.  Unfortunately, I neglected to take a picture of it!

Here is the present that we gave Mom.  It is a tote bag, which I made from a pattern I found and just had to make.  You do remember that I don't consider myself able to sew well, right?  I LOVE how this bag came out!  We also gave Mom a couple of sets of knitting needles that she wanted.

Here is another picture of the bag:

It is quilted, so it is sturdy, with padded handles.  There is a large pocket on both the front and the back, and ties on the side to allow for expansion.  The bottom is square, so it sits up really well.

The inside is fully lined, and there are pockets around the inside, plenty of room for all kinds of odds and ends!

Mom couldn't believe that I had made it, which tells you something about my abilities!  I was very happy that she liked it, and even happier that she moved a project into it almost as soon as she got home!

After presents, we had dessert.  I didn't get a picture of that either, darn it!  Every year, Becky makes a fruit tart, with a delicious white chocolate/cream cheese base in a shortbread crust, and arranges sliced fresh fruit on top.  This year, she let the girls help arrange the fruit, and it was beautiful as well as delicious.  Can't wait for next year, when we have it again.  I will definitely take a picture next time!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Fundraising Auction Basket

A few days ago, I mentioned that we had gone on a whirlwind trip to Southern California in July.  While we were there, I delivered the basket for my mother-in-law's fundraiser, and I remembered to take a picture of it first!  I know it's hard to tell what is in the basket, so I also took pictures of the pieces.

Here is a 5 piece spa set, knit in 100% cotton.  There is an eye mask, soap bag, wash mitt, headband, and washcloth.

A pair of ladies' size medium slippers, knit in 100% acrylic.

A teapot with tea cozy, knit in 100% cotton, along with a lidded mug.

A four piece journal set, consisting of a large journal, pocket journal, bookmark, and pen.

Honey Almond scented bath/facial products:  bath salt, bath milk, oatmeal soap, glycerin soap, and loofah soap.

A purse set of 100% wool:  cell phone case, coin purse, glasses case, and key leash.

And lastly, the tag, listing the basket components.  See where it says "Semi-Homemade"?  That is the theme that Rita chose.  The items that I pictured above were all made by me, except, of course, the teapot and mug.  As for the other things in the basket, we included unscented votive candles, assorted herbal teabags, a tranquilty CD, and a manicure set.  All in all, I think it turned out really well, and it was fun to put together as well!  That's always a plus, and I'm hoping it does well in the silent auction, which is coming up on the 25th.  If I find out how much it went for, I'll be sure to post it here!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Short and Sweet (but better than nothing!)

This post is not only long overdue, it's going to just be a teaser, in the hopes that once I've got a promise of more info out there, I will be able to follow through rather quickly!

As I have 2 girls waiting to play Monopoly Jr. with me, I will keep this brief, and summarize what's been keeping me away for so long!

First, we had 2 whirlwind, back to back trips to Southern California.  More on those later.

Random picture of the 3 girls.  Emma is wearing a t-shirt that Don's niece made.

Next, school.  I had forgotten how busy kindergarten keeps parents!  Take that, and multiply it by two....yeah, any wonder why I haven't posted lately?  The girls are doing VERY well, though, and genuinely love school!  Both Abby and Emma were chosen for September's Student of the Month for their class.  Yes, both of them at the same time...their teacher said they were both worthy, and she was trying to make it easy on our family.  As their prize, they each received a free personal pizza from the local restaurant, and were very proud of themselves!  Aside from that, in the 1 1/2 months of school, we've had 1 back to school luau, 3 fundraisers (with one more tonight, and one starting next week!), 2 parent/teacher conferences (1 each), and plenty of homework.  Oh yeah, and I volunteer in their class on Tuesday mornings.  For that, I am truly glad that they are in the same class!  More on school to come!

Also, the garden has gone CRAZY!  I've been canning like mad to try to keep up with how much produce we're getting! I've canned jalapenos, chiles, catsup, pasta sauce (2 kinds), marmalade, taco sauce, BBQ sauce, pickles (multiple kinds!), corn, pinto beans, relish, salsa...the list goes on, and will be touched on again later!

Abby, Emma, and Katie, at our backyard campout.
I went "backyard camping" with the girls one night, and they had a really good time.  I'm not sure any of us slept very well, but it was fun!
My new Ugly Purse and accessories.

A brief sampling of the bag mania that has gripped me for the last 2 or so months!  This was knit and felted from leftover balls of wool yarn, and as I used every color I had, the girls dubbed it the Ugly Purse.  I don't care, I love it!  I've knit several other purses lately, no two alike.  Why?  I don't know why either.  Because I wanted to see if I could, I guess!

My mother-in-law's auction basket, all finished!

Of course, I've had many other knitting projects in the works.  And cross stitch.  And baking.  And other crafting.  Lots more to follow on this!

And to round out my weeks, I babysit a 7 month old on Wednesday mornings, so his mom can volunteer in her daughter's kindergarten class, have Bible study on Wednesday nights, and MOPS has started again, as well as the accompanying book club meetings.  Is it any wonder that when I stop moving for a minute, my kids take pictures like this:
Although I want it noted that this is RARE!

But, at least I'm in good company:
Maddie, taking after her dad...puts on a tv show and falls asleep on the couch!

Take care, and I promise to come back soon with more details!