Friday, May 30, 2008

Midnight Sirens

Art made a purchase on Tuesday morning. I'm actually surprised we haven't had one of these little puppies for a long time. It's a NOAA weather radio with automatic severe weather alerts.

Monday night at midnight we got a call from Art's brother telling us to watch the storms that were heading our way. Our TV worked for about three minutes, then we were just waiting for another phone call to know what to do. At about one o'clock it came. "Get out here to our house, there's a tornado spotted about 12 miles away." So we woke the kids up and drove out to Grandma's house. (Which was not the smartest thing we could've done, because there was actually another rotation out there that we didn't know about at the time.)

Anyway we all made it and there was no damage done. The kids and I slept on the couches and Art slept on the floor. We meandered on home the next morning. Very crazy.

VBS started Tuesday night, and everyone there was looking a little too tired. We all swapped stories about where we had run in the wee hours and how we're going to plan better next time.

This is part of our plan.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ahhh...The Memories

I made this little guy back in the eighth grade. We had the option of PE or Home Ec. and the choice was not difficult.

I was equally incompetent at both, (The poor little squirrel's face is supposed to be facing forward. Oops.) but Home Ec. didn't involve actual physical pain and total humiliation. Basically, your peers don't care if you can't sew or cook, but if you're not good with a volleyball or basketball, you might as well be drooling on yourself.

Anyway, so our teacher decided we should make stuffed animals from these little kits. Why I chose to put my graduating year on this squirrel I will never know. I suppose it seemed so far away at that time that I wanted a reminder.

I've kept this poor little guy in storage now for about 10 years, and I finally decided he was not really necessary to my achieving a quality life, so to the garage sale he goes. I had to take a picture, though, because, well...I did sort of give him life. It was hard to banish him without leaving some mark of his existence in the world.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spanglish Day

The Monday after Mother's Day, my two Hispanic friends, Maria and Luisa, took my aunt-in-law and I out for coffee and lunch. That may sound a little strange, but it all makes sense, really. My aunt-in-law (Aunt D) is/was a missionary's kid (MK) so she speaks Spanish. (OK, so she's not exactly a kid anymore, since she has three adult children of her own.) She teaches these ladies Sunday School and Wednesday night Bible study. In fact, she's the one who introduced me to "Maria", my special buddy. "Maria" introduced me to "Luisa" and I've been teaching both ladies ESL. I'm also working with them on a new Hispanic Church Planting committee. (That's Luisa behind me and Maria and Aunt D to the right.)

Maria and I have been friends now for three years, and there are so many things I can talk to her about. She is incredibly encouraging and has an inspiring story. She's also a mother of three young boys, so I'm not going to shock her with anything my kids can come up with or any of my questions. She's a very good cook and I never leave her house empty-handed. She will always find something in the fridge or on the stove to share.

Luisa has four kids (two of each) and is also a great help to have around. She, too, is an excellent cook, and I love the food she brings over on class days. She teaches me how to do Mim's hair and warns me about the future with a little girl. (She also warns Maria about the future with little boys. Maria's scared.)

Anyway, we all had a wonderful morning. We went to W'ville and drank some coffee (Well, they did. I had hot chocolate.) and went to Wal-mart for gardening supplies. Like true friends, we talked each other into buying things we probably didn't need. Then we ate lunch at a surprisingly good little Chinese place.

We jabbered away in mostly Spanish, but we laughed at each other for our Spanglish, which was used just as frequently by the native speakers as by Aunt D and I. All in all it was a lot of fun to just be ladies instead of mommies for one morning, and I hope we can do it more often as our children all get into school.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Here was a lunch conversation we had the other day when our neighbor Carl was over visiting.

Zaya: Carl, do you know what a habitat is?

Carl: Yes, I do. Can you tell me what a habitat is?

Zaya: Yes. It's the place where an animal lives.

Carl: That's right.

Mommy: What is the habitat of a whale?

Mim: The sea!!

Carl: Yes. And what's the habitat of a tiger?

Zaya: The jungle!!

Mommy: That's right. And what's the habitat of a lion?

Zaya: The zoo!!!

So close...

And then there was the conversation about their trip to the zoo with Grandma. Zaya told me that they saw a great big snake in the herpeterium, and it was called an...well, I can't actually write it down, but let's just say it was an Anaconda, but he said the last syllable wrong. I'll leave it to your own discovery.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Going Places and Coming Home

This time of year always reminds me of the ocean. I've only seen the coast twice, and even then it was just the Gulf of Mexico, but I still remember a bit of the smell and the wind blowing in from the water.

It's almost harvest time here in Oklahoma, and the wheat is tall and rustles a bit as the winds blow it in wave after wave. On humid nights it even feels and smells a little bit like the sea, or what I remember of it.

I think it's all so vivid tonight because ten years ago this week I was on my senior trip to South Texas, and I had just written and posted a letter to my best friend and bicycling buddy back home telling him I wanted to be something more than his friend. I told him I couldn't bear the thought that I would leave for home (I lived in the dorm.) and we would both go our own ways. There was so much unsaid, and I didn't know where I stood or where I should stand, or if I was even in the right place.

I remember sitting on the beach one night of that trip, talking to a friend and staring out at the waves that were so foreign to me, and so strangely familiar. I felt like I had taken a huge leap out into space with no clear idea of how far it would be to the other side. I desperately hoped I would stick that landing somehow, but I had a gnawing, twisting fear that it would all have been for nothing and I would fall flat on my face to the jeers of the crowd.

Here I am, ten amazing years later, with my best friend reading stories to our children, and my life so full of peace and love it sometimes scares me. Not only did I stick the landing, but he was waiting for me on the other side with his arms opened to catch me whether I fell or not.

I felt especially blessed tonight as I walked outside and smelled the waves of wheat. God brought me home in so many ways ten years ago. He gave me my very own ocean.

This post entered in Scribbit's Write-Away contest.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

In Which I Reveal My Artistic Opinion

I have to admit; I'm not a huge fan of modern art. I know the arguments for its existence, but I suppose I'm among that vast plebian mob that just "doesn't get it."

Witness the above scuplture. It's called Cloud Gate, and is in the Millennium Park in Chicago. It's...interesting...yes. I'll give it that. But beautiful? Aesthetically pleasing? I don't think I can go that far.

Art thought it looked like a gigantic backside. He's a guy, of course, so that's hardly a shock, but I have to admit he has a point...

At least Cloud Gate is something original. It was created entirely from an artist's imagination, and took skill, if only mechanical.

Which brings me to Felix Torres and the Art Institute of Chicago. You walk through a gigantic curtain of goldish beads into an almost empty room, which, as it turns out, is the Felix Torres exhibit. His works of art, although memorable, hardly qualify for the name. In fact, several of them are no longer even things he ever touched or looked at. For instance, one of his pieces (they're all officially "Untitled" which irritates my sister, Claye.) is just a pile of brightly wrapped candies in one of the corners. Art patrons are supposed to take a piece of candy and eat it. This somehow allows them to become involved in the artistic process. Another such work is a gigantic pile of large papers. Again, art patrons are expected to take a piece as they leave. Why? Good question. (Here's my Art, definitely a treasure, holding up a piece of the more dubious "art".)

I know this places me firmly in the midst of the uncultured, but I suppose I fit pretty well there. This is culture in-bred to the point that it drools and hobbles. Frankly, I'm not interested.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'm in love.

I got to visit an IKEA in Chicago, and I may never be happy with any other store. Art even enjoyed shopping there, and actually suggested things we could buy. Really. I almost passed out right there on the floor. I left my shopping heart in Illinois.

IKEA is a Scandanavian store based on offering good, original furniture and household items for reasonable prices. There are so very many options, and almost all of them are Wal-Mart prices, but much higher quality. (i.e. real wood) They're especially designed to work in small spaces and make the most out of what room you have in your home. In fact they're one of the first places I've seen that really understand how small a "small bathroom" is. Unlike those magazines that show you how to make the most of a small bathroom and then show you a picture of something the size of a bedroom here in middle-class America.

Art and I bought 6 pieces of furniture and a cart full of things for the kitchen, all for the price of one couch at a furniture store. It was an epiphany. From now on I save up all my "I'd Likes" for a trip down to Dallas. (The closest IKEA to Oklahoma)

Of course, we haven't actually started using our furniture yet, but I don't anticipate a great amount of disappointment because of the recommendations we had from so many others who've been happy with their purchases.

Anyone who is looking to furnish or decorate a small space, or even a large one, should find out if they live near an IKEA first. You can take the kids, too, because they have a large play area where you can drop the little ones off while you shop, or little play areas scattered throughout the store if you want to take them with you. There is also a restaurant/grocery area with great food. The whole store is designed for efficiency and the comfort of the shopper, which means lots of family friendly ideas.

Can you tell I'm obsessed?

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Now here's a little twist on all those nature scenes. Mim, the giant butterfly, has captured a frog and is using him for her own inscrutable purposes.

I knew that kids did crazy things; I still remember doing a few crazy things myself. I just didn't remember how crazy. They crack me up so many times every day. I'm glad I have a blog to help me remember it all.

Which reminds me of a cute thing my little niece, Jaida, said. Her daddy was shooting something in their backyard with his shotgun. (They live out in the country. That's not unusual here at all.) and Jaida told her mommy, "I want a shooter like Daddy's, but I want a Princess shooter." I hear her daddy flat-out refused to get his daughter a pink shotgun. What's really funny there, of course, is that it was the 'pink' he objected to, not the 'shotgun'.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Home Again

We made it back home yesterday at about 7 pm. We started driving at 3:30 am from my cousin's house in a suburb of Chicago. That's a lot of time on the road, but it wasn't too bad.

The whole week was lots of fun, and I'm glad I went along this time. Art and I stayed at a hotel out near O'Hare, but we rode the train into the downtown area a couple times and enjoyed having meals and conversations where we weren't constantly being interrupted. Of course, we missed Zaya and Mim too, but they did very well here with their grandmas and aunts and other family, so we didn't have to worry about them.

I'll try to come up with some detail over the next few days. Suffice it to say that we're home, we're exhausted, but we had a great time, despite all the travel.

(This picture is one I took in downtown Chicago. The skyscrapers there are absolutely huge, and there are so many of them! In the middle of this picture you can see the El, which we took twice from O'Hare to the downtown area and back.)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Fun Times in Small Towns

In a direct response to the lovin' and fightin' songs of the cats in our neighborhood (including and especially our cat), Art made himself a blowgun.

No, I did not marry a normal man. Thanks for asking.

He used a long piece of copper tubing, soldered end pieces on and buffed it until it shined. Then he bought a few darts off the internet and is now ready to play Amazon tribesman whenever he feels the need. (As long as he doesn't dress the part.)

Anyway, the other night we had my family over for dinner, and the neighbors were over to, the way neighbors are sometimes in small towns. It turns out they had a blowgun too, so several of them had a little target shooting contest out in the backyard. Yes, my children are playing on the other end of that swingset.

It reminded me very vividly of one of our favorite childhood pastimes here in this same house. My father was into buckskinning and all the crazy things that entails (Why, you ask? It's complicated, but it had to do with our church boys group called Royal Rangers, which used to be similar to the Boy Scouts.)

He had an oversized chunk of tree stump that he would prop up on a hefty tri-pod he'd made from 4X4s. Then we would use it for target practice.

And I don't mean blowguns. We used a tomahawk, throwing knives and bow and arrows. All with my father there, you understand.

Yes, it made our neighbors nervous. There was one family that always made their kids come inside when we practiced, even though they were allowed to play with us at other times.

I don't know why. We had pretty good aim after all. Of course, the tomahawk's head was a little loose...

Maybe Art's not so strange after all.

Newton and his boy

Last week as we were leaving McDonalds, Art had this conversation with Zaya while he buckled him into his carseat.

"Daddy," he said, "the car is taking some of my coolness, and I am taking some of it's warmness."

Art's face lit up. "You're right! In some bizarre way, you're right! You just stated a law of thermodynamics, the conservation of energy by heat transfer! You're going to be an engineer!"

"Daddy, what are ther-mo-dyna-mics?"

"They're overarching principles of physics."

At which point I intervened in the conversation to save the sanity of us all.

I personally feel that Art might be jumping the gun a bit, but if he prefers to think that Zaya got his math and science skills rather than mine, it won't hurt anything. Probably. And who knows?

Here We Go

Tomorrow morning Art and I will leave for Chicago. This is a major milestone in our little family history, because we will not be taking the kids. They will stay with Grandma T most of the week and then go to the zoo with Grandma Lilibeth on the last day. (This is the last week of classes for her. She's a teacher.)

I'll have internet access, I hope, but not access to all my photos, so I'm not sure if I'll blog much or not. Not that I've been stunning at it up to now, but just a general fyi.

Art has a business trip, and it'll be almost free for me to go with him, since we're going to drive and they pay travel, meals and hotel. I'll actually have some solitude this week, which is...odd. We'll see how that goes.

I'm nervous about leaving the kids for that long. They're really old enough, I think, but it's new territory. I'm always nervous about new territory.

The best thing is that I'll get to see my cool cousin and her equally cool family who live in a suburb of Chicago. That will be lots of fun and I can't wait to see their new house and chat.