Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Don't Call Social Services

Ignore the screams, the cries, the "Mom! Don't hurt me anymore!" It's just this:

Nothing more. By the racket though you'd think my child was daily thrown into the Pit of Despair and strapped to THE MACHINE. When Abby sleeps, she crawls down under all of her covers and then apparently nasty little elves tease her hair into a frenzy. I defy anyone to de-tangle her without inflicting pain.

Sadly though, as I'm reminded on a daily basis, it's not true. Once Abby spent the night with some friends and claims that the morning combing session was just divine. Pain free. Relaxing even. "If only Mrs. So and So could do it every morning...." Yes indeed, if only.

For now, I'm just thankful we live on 5 acres. No one to hear you scream, Blondie. No one at all.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's All in the Genes

When Abigail and I stepped into this simulator at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, we were hardly novices. True, we've never had a single minute of flight instruction, but what we had was more important. You see, flying is in our blood, passed down through the generations.

There's my grandfather, Glenn Kelley, the Pan Am pilot who made an emergency landing in his Boeing 377 Stratocruiser on a tiny island in the Pacific, without a single injury to passengers or crew. The co-pilot on the flight was his brother,

my Great Uncle Frank who during World War II flew night missions in a PB4Y-1 Liberator. And there was their younger brother,

my Uncle Grant, the highly decorated Hellcat pilot who earned numerous World War II air medals and citations, one presented personally from Admiral Nimitz.

And there's my Dad, also a former Pan Am pilot, who soloed in his family's plane on his 16th birthday (and I'm nervous about Driver's Ed!). His four siblings (three sisters and a brother) also all soloed in their teens. And then there's my Dad's brother, my Uncle Earl, also a former commercial airline pilot, and my brother, who served as a helicopter pilot in Iraq.

So, as you can see, Abby and I weren't just your average Joe Blow museum attendees. In this photo I'm telling Abby that I'll do the flying, and that she (with the somewhat diluted gene pool) will be my gunner. She's telling me that she doesn't want to do anything crazy.

The door was closed and soon we were in the air, scouting for the enemy.
There he is, Abby! Enemy at 10 o'clock!!
He's a slippery one, Ab! Hold on!

I've got him my sights, Abby! FIRE! Stop screaming and FIRE!
We missed him! Oh, there he is! He's diving!
We'll chase him through the trees Abby! FIRE! FIRE!

You GOT him!! YOU GOT HIM! AHHHH!! Pull up! Pull up!

Our ride ended, with one less enemy plane trolling the skies. Abby and I stepped gratefully back onto stable ground, puffed up our chests, and walked a little prouder the rest of the day.

No, you can't teach this stuff. It's all in the genes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Family Planning

When I bought this lovely chart, the only planning I expected it to do was Family Home Evening planning--that night once a week where we get together, have a gospel-based lesson, play a game, and eat something unhealthy. No other type of planning was intended. Really. But have you noticed what has been glaringly obvious to each of my children?

An empty PEG! A missing tag! For goodness sake, who will give closing prayer? Our Family Home Evenings may never end! It's caused a bit of a panic.

Moving on. We decoupaged! I actually couldn't even think of the word. I went into the craft store and said, "You know how the Victorians used to cut out roses and stuff and kind of shellac it all to a dresser or something?....." I got a blank stare from the first person I talked to. She handed me off to someone who directed me to a whole decoupage section. Who knew?

Along with the glue (because really that's all it is), I bought a piece of scrapbook paper full of fun designs, some letter stickers, and different colored ribbons. We printed out pictures, cut out stars and flowers and decoupaged away.

Job well done. Now about that closing prayer......What to do? What to do?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lyle Plays the Field

Lyle currently has four women in his dating rotation. I know from experience that it used to be more. When we first met, (and I learned this much later) he and his roommates had a contest going--there may have even been a chart-- to see who could date the most girls from different states. I told him in no uncertain terms that I found his behavior despicable and chauvinistic. His reply? "You should be honored. You were from UTAH. A dime a dozen at BYU. Now, if you were from say... Rhode Island or Alaska, you might question my motives."

This weekend his date was a blue-eyed blond from the state of Washington. They went to dinner and a movie. On a scale of 1-10, Lyle gave the movie (Bedtime Stories) a 2, but gave his date a 10.

So I think he'll be holding onto her phone number.
He might even memorize it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Best Money Ever Spent--The Tool Kit

When I type on the computer, this is where I am. With the center doors open and our squeaky, wobbly chair rolled up to the keyboard. This whole room is courtesy of Lyle. There's not one surface that hasn't been altered with wood or paint. The funny thing is, Lyle didn't even own a single tool for about the first seven years of our marriage. He'd watch shows like "This Old House" or "The New Yankee Workshop" and say, "I'd love to do that....."

When he finally finished school and we bought our first house, I purchased him some tools. He purchased more. And more. And more. Our garage filled. But it was worth it. It was so worth it. I'll apologize now for the abundance of pictures. I started going around the house with the camera, snapping shots of things Lyle's done, and well, there's A LOT! Even more than I'd remembered.

So, starting in the den. This room had blue carpeting, white walls on the top, a Home Sweet Home border running around the middle and white wallpaper with blue hearts covering the bottom. It was used as a dining room, but we transformed it into a den. Lyle did the wood floors, the window seats, the bookshelves, the computer wall unit. He even painted the picture above the fireplace. Renaissance man, I tell you.

The room had a coved ceiling and Lyle thought for a few days how he'd do the pine trim. I completely stay out of those decisions. I know he'll figure it out, and he always does.

The corner bookshelf proved to be a bit tricky too.
The entry into the room was wider and when we added the window seats, we needed to build a wall. The rooms in our house are small and I worried that closing off a space even more would be a bad idea. We decided to do a partial wall, open at the top, but then we found this window and Lyle made it look like it had always been there.

The outside shots I pulled off the computer. The winter is too ugly for photos. Lyle and friends did the stamped concrete walkway and Lyle built the arbor. He looked at pictures and came up with his own plan.
He used matching stained glass windows he'd found at a resale shop. When the arbor was done a friend mentioned to me, "You know, he could probably take some of those to the farmer's market and make a few hundred per arbor." I think I gasped. Little does she know the HOURS a project like that takes. And why I'd have a very hard time parting with anything Lyle's made.

I miss the summer.

Lyle stayed up literally all night making the rose trellis. He had it laid out just-so and wanted to finish it all in one marathon woodworking fest. Using power tools at 2 A.M--why we have disability insurance.

I loved the naked arbor. It was almost a shame to cover it with roses. But the roses were perfect for the princess party.

I wanted entry benches for the porch and showed Lyle pictures of what I wanted. He modified it a bit and whipped me out two great big benches that we use all the time.

He made me the porch swing for a mother's day present.

The barn out back was a big, big project. I think the Amish are smart to involve a whole slew of friends in the barn raising, because it took Lyle and his Dad lots of long weekends on scary scaffolding. How much will that monthly disability check be?

Heading back inside, in the music room is a clock Lyle made several years ago. I believe it's made of walnut.

Lyle's done lots of trimwork. Lots and lots. The wainscoating, the chair rails, the ceilings, the crown moulding. The kids learned to sleep through the sound of the nail gun. We haven't done much of anything past that entry into the kitchen/eating area/family room. It's so small and one day we plan to bump out the whole back of the house. It'll probably happen when the children are grown and gone and there's no need for more space.

The powder room on the first floor is tiny and tall. It's like an elevator shaft. It was white with a wallpaper border going around its middle that had scripture verses on it. Bathroom reading I guess. Lyle continued the pine ceiling boards onto the wall to make the room seem a little shorter.

The green paint color is called, "Sign of Spring" and when Madeline heard Lyle mention it, she said, "That's the grossest name for a paint that I've ever heard." "Sign of Spring doesn't seem too bad to me," said Lyle. "OOHHH," said Madeline. "I thought you said Sinus Green." Yeah, that would be a bit gross.

Heading up the stairs, more tricky trim work. Say that ten times fast.

And when you come around the corner at the top of the stairs, be careful not to bump your head on the picture ledges. Despite the potential danger, I love these. I showed Lyle a picture in a Pottery Barn catalogue and he made these that very same night. Above the pictures is a Pablo Picasso quote that says, "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."

The kids love having a place to display their artwork.

Lyle did the crown moulding in our bedroom.

And the barrister bookcase.

And the blanket box.

He did lots of trim in the kids' bathroom.

I know, a light bulb's out.
He made the scalloped trim in the girls' room.
In the cute third floor bedroom, Lyle did the floors and the trim and the built-in headboard...
....and the cute cubbies and the window seat and the skirted desk.
And you know what? He hasn't done anything really fun and creative for a long time and he's getting antsy. I sense that I'll be smelling sawdust in the near future.
And in between the sawdust sneezes, I'll take pictures.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Small Mercy

Maya is a darling, wonderful girl. She's also loud and blunt--sometimes bordering on obnoxious. Sometimes she's way past the border, with her feet firmly planted in Obnoxious Land.

Yesterday we were at a large children's hospital. It's the type of place where your heart aches for the hardships some children have to bear, the type of place where you count your blessings.

Maya was sitting at a table in the waiting room, coloring a picture of Barney the Dinosaur. A little girl of about 4 or 5 sat down across from her. One side of her head showed the face of a beautiful Asian girl. The other side was hugely disfigured. I know Maya. I know she doesn't mince words. If she saw her, she'd say something--something innocent but hurtful. I silently prayed that Maya wouldn't notice, knowing that she would. Maya looked up and stared. She squinted her eyes like she was trying to readjust her focus. The girl pulled her hair across the side of her face and looked down at her paper. Maya leaned over onto the table and peeked up under the girl's hair, getting a better look. I literally held my breath and prayed. Maya, please don't hurt this poor little girl's feelings.

Maya settled herself back into her chair, stopped squinting, and said, "You want to share my crayons?" The little girl nodded yes and they giggled and passed crayons back and forth. The girl's mom said to her daughter, "Looks like you made a friend." Truly an answer to prayer. A small mercy.