28 April 2012

Building A Green House










City Slickers

We are down south at the moment, visiting with my aunt, and Lola is in heaven. Yesterday was the Best Day Ever! Why? Well, my horse-crazy girl had her very first horse back riding lesson. I promised her last fall she could take lessons this summer when her ballet classes were done but the first lesson happened sooner than expected.

Behind my aunt's house is a small farm with horses. Chickens too, and they frequently jump the fence to dig holes in my aunt's garden. While chasing the chickens back to their own yard, Lola and her cousin Z. struck up a conversation with the owner. And before long, both girls were brushing horses, saddling them up, and learning the basics of horse back riding.

Mr. Balderdash, the pony Lola rode on
Waiting to mount
They are doing it, riding all by themselves
With a little guidance from the instructor
Lola was a little disappointed she couldn't ride the big horse yet
Balance exercises
Horse talk, I'm sure
City Slickers

24 April 2012

Basket Case

When I go grocery shopping, I almost always bring my own bags. I have a cute little basket my mom bought for me the last time she was here. In it are a few more bags because the basket doesn't hold that much.

I am known for my basket and bags in out town. The enviro sax especially. They are a tad pricy (mine were a gift) but totally worth it. They hold a ton of groceries. Plus all the cool celebs are using them nowadays, which makes me feel super trendy. Because that is so important up here.

The other day I was grocery shopping at the local Piggly Wiggly in the next town over, when I went to check out. As always I put my basket on the grocery belt first, followed by the contents of my shopping cart. The lady at the cash register picked up my basket, looked with a puzzled face at the man bagging the groceries and said: "I don't know what to make of this?" I told them it was a basket to hold my groceries. It blew their minds. That someone would come in with their own grocery carrier.

18 April 2012

A Week Of Festivities - Part II

Last Friday was Lola's very first ballet recital. It was held in the auditorium of her school. Four groups of girls from the Anne Renier Dance Academy danced their hearts out. Each group showed off their talents twice with a ballet performance and a tap dance performance. Unfortunately the stage at Lola's school is carpeted and the tapping was mostly muffled. It's been so long since I have been to a dance recital, I can barely remember it. I am fairly certain I didn't cry at that one though. It was a little embarrassing, to be honest.


Today was a reprise of the recital during All Arts Day at Lola's school. And Miss Anne announced at the end that they will be performing again at the Fourth of July Parade right here in town. Some grandparents will be mighty pleased to hear this. Others will have to do with the video footage I shot today. If you're reading this in an email or a reader, you'll have to come over to the blog to play the videos.

(Ryan taped Friday's performance which is of a much better quality and will be made available on DVD for those interested. However, if you have to wait until I figure out how to edit that footage and upload it, DVD players will be obsolete. My crappy camera work will have to do for now.

Lola starts both dances in the back left corner. She is also the one you hear over everyone else in "High Hopes.")






Cute, huh? I am so proud of Lola.


16 April 2012

A Week Of Festivities - Part I

It's nasty outside. Rain, wind, dark skies, even a little snow is predicted. The kind of weather that makes you happy you don't have to go out today. Unfortunately I do. There's mail to pick up, groceries to shop, and library books to return. I am waiting until Lola comes home from school. She loves going to the library.

In the meantime I have downloaded a few dozen pictures from my camera. We have just ended a week filled with festivities. Easter on Sunday, Lola's fifth birthday on Tuesday, her first ballet recital on Friday, and finally her friends birthday party on Saturday.


Easter morning was lovely. The Easter Bunny surprised Lola with a beautiful dress, a handmade basket, a blue play silk, and fifteen colorful eggs scattered about in the yard. (I am fairly certain I supplied the Easter Bunny with sixteen eggs though. I wonder when we will find the last one...)

While Lola played with her new treasures, Ryan painted the first of our living room walls and I worked on opening my Etsy shop Dutch Girl Originals. It was important to me to open it on Easter and even though I had only one finished product to sell, I made my deadline. Every now and then I interrupted my work to search for eggs that Lola had hidden for me or hide some for her.

Lola's fifth birthday started early. Very early. Ryan had to leave for work no later than 5:30 AM and we didn't want to tantalize Lola with a big pile of gifts that she couldn't open until he came home again. When I was setting up the breakfast table the night before, hanging streamers, and arranging presents, I felt a little sad. The nearly five feet tall pile of boxes that had come in the mail for her was awesome of course, but there would be no people to celebrate with her. Just her parents.

I never had a stack of presents like hers but every single birthday my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and local friends would be there. That is not possible for Lola, simply because of distance. I know Lola doesn't know any different and was mighty pleased with her gifts, but I remember from my past the visitors, and not the gifts (with exception of the red bicycle I received for my sixth birthday). I wonder what Lola will remember about her birthdays forty years from now.


Lola had no school on her birthday so we played with her presents all day long. She was happiest with the horses my dad and his wife sent her and the little toy broom she got from us. The internet was down which made for a very peaceful Tuesday once I got passed the initial withdrawal symptoms. Lola requested pizza for dinner and a strawberry birthday cake for dessert. She got both. Happy Birthday, my lovely Lola! I am more in love with you every day.


06 April 2012

Spring Green


I brought some lilac branches inside. They had succumbed to the snow last month. Rather than throwing them in the bonfire, I clipped them and set the smaller ones in a vase. The larger branches are our Easter tree. They look very cheerful in the hallway filled with eggs and bunnies.

I don't really expect the lilacs to flower, but the green is nice. The daffodils have grown since I took this picture. It feels good to have flowers in the house again. Especially since we don't have much popping up in our yard. We'll have to remedy that next year.

30 March 2012

Scared With A Cee

Before you continue, you should know there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. At least not with my breasts. Because I know you were wondering…

On Wednesday I had my very first mammogram. Ah, what a pleasure that was. I had heard about it, but was still a bit surprised to see and feel just how tightly my breasts could be sqeezed between two pieces of Plexiglas. The appointment was over before it was even supposed to begin. I was in and out in under ten minutes. Not bad.

The technician told me I would receive a phone call on Thursday for a follow up appointment should anything show up. If not, they would just send me a letter with an invitation to come back in one year. When I spoke to Ryan on the phone at the end of the day yesterday, I told him I had not gotten a phone call and everything must be alright.

I had spoken too soon. After I hung up, I checked the missed calls. While I was accompanying Lola to her ballet class, the local clinic had called. And they had left a message that they would like to go over my mammogram results with me. Of course they were closed by the time I listened to it and I was left stewing over the possible implications until this morning.

I had a hard time keeping it together at first. While I knew in the back of my mind that this was nothing but a courtesy call, I could not get my brain and my heart to believe it and act accordingly. Things got better once Ryan came home and I was able to talk about it. He reassured me, and undoubtedly himself, there was nothing to worry about. I calmed down enough to be able to make jokes about it.

This morning I called the clinic as soon as they opened. It took them approximately ten minutes to answer their phone by which time I was thoroughly worked up again. If you insist on scaring your patients, at least have the decency to be open for business when you say you are. When I was finally connected to the nurse, she told me the results were negative ("What does that mean, is that good or bad?", my frantic brain was yelling at me) and that they would like to see me back in one year.

Good news then.

After taking a deep breath, I was able to calmly tell the nurse what the mammography techs at the hospital tell their patients and how she had scared the living daylights out of me with her message. She was very apologetic and I could tell she genuinely felt bad about the whole situation. We parted on a good note.

I called Ryan with the good news, made myself a cup of coffee, and painted my toenails a beautiful taupe color. I don't care if it's snowing outside, things are looking sunny to me!

09 March 2012

Eavesdropping

I just picked up the following conversation between Lola and her friend B. They are playing in her room. I am in the next room, trying to put together a shopping list. It's not so easy anymore to capture the funny stuff she says because she talks a mile a minute now. But she still cracks me up.

“Guess what? My grandma wants me to stay little forever.”

“Why?”

“Because I am just so cute.”

“So she wants you to be little?”

“Yes. But I just keep growing.”

“No you don’t.”

“Yes I do.”

“But I am still taller than you.”

“That’s because I am growing s-l-o-w-l-y …”


29 February 2012

Round One With The Shovel

The Universe had the good foresight to ignore my plea for snow last December. For that I am truly grateful since Ryan conveniently broke his arm just in time for shoveling season. So far it hasn't been too bad. An inch here or there just makes for a nice workout to start my day with.

Until today. We woke up to a foot of snow and counting. Naturally it's not the light, fluffy kind. No it's the wet, heavy kind. After I cleared a path to the garage and did about a third of the driveway I got a break. Our neighbor with the burly snow blower asked if I didn't mind if he lent a hand.

I didn't mind.

While he cleared the rest of the driveway and the sidewalk, I dug out the steps, freed the front door, and tackled the 5 ft. pile of dense snow on the corner deposited by the snow plow this morning. Another neighbor with a big plow attachment on his truck pulled over to see if he too could help out. Snow brings out good things in people.

We live on a snow mobile trail and for the first time this winter I have heard them drive by. They're noisy. Lola had a snow day today, and is playing with the little girl from across the street. I am watching the snow continue to fall from the cosiness of my bedroom while I massage my shoulders and mentally prepare for round two.

01 February 2012

Miss Representation

I ran into the trailer for the documentary Miss Representation this morning on Facebook. It was posted by a blog I follow. The movie “explores the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America, and challenges the media's limited portrayal of what it means to be a powerful woman.” (IMDb, 2011)

It’s important stuff. You should go watch it. Go. Now. I’ll wait.

It makes you want do something, doesn’t it? It did for me anyway. So I shared it on my Facebook page, and visited www.missrepresentation.org and pledged I will do anything I can to change the message that is being sent out to little girls and boys today. It’s not much, but it’s something.

What got me thinking were the comments on the original Facebook post by Little Acorn Learning, a Waldorf inspired blog. They boiled down to turning off the TV permanently, not allowing children access to computers, no video games, no cell phones, nothing. While I do understand this knee-jerk reaction, to me it is sticking your head in the sand.

There is no way we will be able to keep our children from the media, and the media from our children. Unless you go off the grid and never return, chances are your child will watch TV or play on a computer at some point. If it’s not at your own house, it’s at school, at a friend’s house, in a waiting room, in a restaurant, in a store. It is extremely hard to avoid.

We do not raise strong, confident, and respectful women and men by ignoring the topic. This approach is very popular with some but teenagers still get pregnant and people still get infected with HIV. Time has proven again and again that the ostrich method simply doesn’t work.

Instead we need to be aware of what we watch, what we say, what we do. We need to talk with our children about what they watch, what they say, what they do. This is how we raise children that are not interested in the current message because they know how limited it is.

So this is me, creating awareness. Please pass it on and help me change the message that is sent to our kids. Thank you.

I’ll get off my soap box now.

26 January 2012

Crush

Lola: "I have a big crush on K." (K. is a friend and co-worker of Ryan.)

Ryan: "Oh, do you?"

Lola: "What's a crush?"

Ryan: "It's when you have romantic feelings for someone whom you want to kiss."

Lola: "Okay." Evidently that is what she meant.

K. explained to Lola how they could just be very good friends since he was not only married but a lot older as well. And then we talked a little about etiquette. About how it's not polite to hit on married people.

Also, don't fart.

20 January 2012

Friday The Thirteenth

It was Friday the Thirteenth and the day started out like any other. I have never been afraid of that particular date, in fact I rather liked it. I thought it was special. And after living in Spain for a while, where it’s Tuesday the Thirteenth that has everyone avoiding ladders and black cats, I really didn’t have any negative associations with it.

How naïve of me.

Around 11 AM my husband called. He was up in the UP skiing at Mount Bohemia. We were all supposed to go there for the weekend, including my brother-in-law and two of my nieces, but Ryan went up a day ahead. It was his first time on his new powder skis and he was very excited about finally being able to use them.

When I answered the phone he told me the skiing was glorious. He had hiked up the mountain before they opened with another guest and made first tracks. The snow was great and he got a few awesome runs in. But then his tone changed. He said he was really calling with bad news; he had had an accident. He slipped and fell on his elbow and he thought it was broken.

A trip to the local hospital confirmed it was indeed fractured. The tip of his elbow had a crack about a quarter inch wide in it. They put a fiberglass splint on his arm and wrapped him up. With a sling and a bottle of painkillers they sent him on his way, telling him he should look for an orthopedic surgeon first thing Monday morning.

And so we did. The doctor explained how he would screw two pins into his arm and tie a piece of metal thread around his elbow to pull it all together. His surgery was scheduled for Wednesday. He would have to spend one night there since general anesthesia was required. That was a bit of a disappointment. Both our fathers have just had a knee replaced under local anesthesia. But I guess your arm is higher than your heart and a spinal blocker is a bit of an issue then.

The surgery went well. When they opened up his arm the damage turned out to be a bit more extensive than visible on the x-rays. Instead of two pins they put in four. Other than that, everything went as planned. I was able to take him home yesterday. He, and therefore I, had a very rough night but the pain has subsided some and is now bearable. He is starting to heal. In six to eight weeks he should be as good as new.

21 December 2011

Teachers Gifts

I like to read craft blogs, I'm sure most of you know that by now. They inspire me, entertain me, wow me, and comfort me. What I did not realize is that they also shape me. As in influence the way I think things are.

Take for example teachers gifts. This time of year, and even more so at the end of the school year, it's all about teachers gifts. I thought, based on my reading of craft blogs, they were the norm. Everybody gives their children's teachers a gift. Today I found out that is not the case.

Perhaps it's the place where we live, but when Lola and I handed out the gifts we made for her teachers today, we were given genuine looks of happy surprise.

Lola had given me quite a list of teachers to make gifts for: her Jr. Kindergarten teacher, the teacher's assistant, her music, art, and gym teachers, her ballet instructor, the principal ("He's like the cops."), and her bus driver. Some of them may have thought I was the driving force behind their gift but that is not true. It was all Lola. She's thoughtful like that. I like that about her.

We made birdseed ornaments for all of them. Lola designed and made the gift tags all by herself.

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