Saturday, August 28, 2010

make your own fun and then give it a name

My sweet Ilsa has a knack for making the most mundane items into an afternoon of fun. Today she found the big old package of TP from Costco and turned the wrapper into a sleeping bag, and the TP into a pillow. She actually started to cry when Daddy, Mr. BikeMan, said it was time to put the wrapper into the garbage. (I was kind of afraid she would want to sleep with it tonight...) Her slightly weepy reply, "You mean I have to throw Sleepy* away?" Yes, she named the wrapper.

*Ilsa has a tendency to name inanimate objects. Took us a long time to figure out what "Fluffies" were... anything "cute" per Ilsa is a Fluffy. "Mommy, I just love Fluffy trees. They are so cute they make me want to cry." What is a Fluffy tree? It's a PINE tree, the kind with long needles. But why do they make her want to cry? Out of joy? Nostalgia for Charlie Brown's pine-Christmas tree? They do look sort of fluffy in the distance, I suppose. But this one had me scratching my head: we were watching Doctor Who on Netflix this week (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know she's only 4 and watching Doctor Who). When she saw a Dalek inside of the "flying garbage can" for the first time, she cooed, "Oh Mommy, it's a Fluffy!!!" Now THAT THING is not cute -- it looks like a slimy Octopus. Last night, she asked for her Story Napkins. She wanted to sleep with them. (Hence my concern about wanting to have Sleepy, the Costco toilet paper plastic wrapper with her in bed...definitely a case of "This Plastic Bag Is Not A Toy!") Story napkins, it turns out were some pretty paper cocktail napkins with butterflies and flowers on them... she had played with them yesterday. She was using them to tell a story about the butterfly in the flowers.

I may never have to buy her another toy again.


Ingy Badingy starts public school first grade the week after next, and I'm really quite bummed about it. I had thought we'd be home-schooling. I just haven't reconciled myself to the fact that she's actually going to be attending public school rather than homeschool. Mr. BikeMan has assured me that if it becomes apparent that it wasn't the right choice, we'll pull her; but still, at this time last year, I thought we'd be reveling in the arrival of boxes of new curricula, excited with the thought of starting ancient history, Latin or Greek and field trips on the fly.

I haven't wanted to leave the house because I've felt absolutely rotten from allergies; my doctor prescribed Zyrtec and it isn't touching them.

I then made the realization that summer is almost done and here we are Where George Walked, and we haven't been to one historic site since we arrived over a month ago.

Then there is the loneliness factor (see last post), and I started feeling very sorry for myself.

We haven't really landed at Church yet, and I just don't know if it's where we should be.

So I decided I had better complete a Fruit of the Spirit reality check (see Galatians 5:22 - 26).
  1. Love (I Corinthians 13) is patient and kind; it is not envious, boastful, arrogant or rude; it doesn't insist on its own way; not irritable or resentful; rejoices not in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. It bears, believes, hopes and endures. Love endures. Reality check: let's go right to irritable. Oh good grief. Could I have snapped any more this week? I tend to use, ahem, that time as an excuse. Well, it isn't an excuse. I should employ self control. So, the next time that Ilsa asks me for the 9th time in a row if she could sit on my lap, I will not not not not snap "NO!" at her.
  2. Joy (James 1:2) is not based upon circumstances. So, those blooey blues were not showing Fruit, huh? Watch this object lesson:
  3. True Peace (Philippians 4:7), which only comes from Jesus himself is far bigger than anything we can understand. I don't understand why certain situations are playing out the way they are right now, but I need to lean on His peace. He understands the big picture.
  4. Patience. Self explanatory. So, does this mean I should have played the dreaded, loathed, worse than water-boarding torture game, Candyland with the girls, and not manipulated the situation to guilt him into playing?
  5. Kindness. My words have not been kind.
  6. Goodness. Hmmmm. What is goodness? The Greek word is chrestotes, which means moral goodness and integrity, benignity or kindness. So, when I said that I would be done on the computer "in a few minutes" and I wasn't, I was not exhibiting goodness, as I was not showing integrity, or truthfulness to my word. Yikes.
  7. Faithfulness. Trust and holy fervor, born of faith relating to God, according to the Greek lexicon for this specific word, pistis. Well, I haven't been showing holy fervor. In fact, this past week I have seriously doubted why I was even attending church at all. Running through my mind were thoughts like, "I don't act any differently as a parent than how I perceive non-Christians act towards their children. I shout, scream, have no patience, am not showing any Godly example to them..." But as Mr. BikeMan reminded me, "what do you think we would act like if we weren't attending church? Wouldn't it be a lot worse?"
  8. Gentleness. Mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness. See 5.
  9. Self-control. "The virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially sensual appetites." I can say that in this area, while not 100%, I'm not receiving a failing grade. Unless you count too much web-surfing (though not unworthy websites) having a lack of self-control. But I did send that pair of shoes back to Zappos, and I did walk right past the Philosophy counter without buying that Bubble Gum Blowout-scented bubble bath, and I did not purchase that big bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in the Halloween candy display at the Commissary. On the other hand, I stayed up way too late watching too many streaming Netflix episodes of Doctor Who when I should have been in bed, and I should have done the laundry instead of putting it off while I did other stuff, and I did spend way too many hours on the Well Trained Mind message board, even though these are all great things in and of themselves, I need to have the self-control to know when to stop. So I guess less than 100% is a failing grade, huh?
So, how do I improve? It's not under my own power, that's for sure. The Fruit of the Spirit is not The Fruit of The's from The Spirit. As soon as I acknowledge that I can't do it by myself, the riper that fruit will become.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


This post is not meant to be maudlin. It's just that I'm, well, lonely. Moving every three years has its advantages but the loneliness is one aspect which is impossible to get used to. The girls keep me occupied, but I can't really have a chat over coffee with them, or ask them to be a part of my book club, or ask them to help me decide between the black and fuchsia Dooney & Burke and polka dotty Le Sportsac casual purses upon which I have my eye. I can't really do these things with Mr. BikeMan, either. As to coffee, he's off at work. As to book club, my tastes run one way: eastward "across The Pond" - Austen, Gaskell, even Jasper Fforde, etc...; his run straight towards post-apocalyptic, dystopic fiction. And as for the purse discussion, the answer would be in the form of a question (like Jeopardy), "don't you already have a purse?"

So, you frequent movers, how do you find friends? I don't want to come across as that needy nut who grabs at friendship, but on the other hand, I can't just sit back like a wall flower and wait for the suitors to come and ask me to dance, either...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

stylish way to open your garage door

I think I might ask Mr. BikeMan to make one of these for our future dream house (that's WAY in the future...)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beloit College Mindset List for Class of 2014

The yearly "I'm getting sooooooo old" reality-check has been published. You know the list that catalogs all the stuff that you remember, but this generation doesn't, like "Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry," and "They've never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

appalachian trail

Someday, Mr. BikeMan wants to hike this:

We had no idea that our journey to visit our friends (see previous post) would lead us across the famous Appalachian Trail. We had to stop and take a picture on the way home. When we started the car back up, we smelled something burning. At first we thought it was the cigarette lighter spontaneously starting itself (it was glowing red - turns out it always glows red when the headlights are on because there's a red light behind it...had the car for 4 years and have never noticed this), but when we got home, we found out that we had driven all the way home with what appears now to be a ruptured universal joint boot (I don't know what that is, but I sound smart...). Didn't we just sink a chunk into the Subaru before we drove all the way across the continent?

different paths, same destination

You know those friends whom you don't get to see very often, but when you do re-connect, your conversation just picks right back up where it left off? Those are the friendships worth cultivating and keeping. Mr. BikeMan and I don't have a huge social circle. We've moved a lot, but have always seemed to find this type of friendship in every location we have been placed.

Today we had the privilege of catching up with our best friends from our time in Spokane. We have not seen them since 1999 (?). We haven't even talked on the phone that many times, but we have always kept tabs on each other. We now live within 90 minutes.

Now here's the cool part: we've taken separate paths in life, but have come to many of the same conclusions. About politics. About education. About food consumption. About less is more. About family. About culture. We have read the same books. Enjoyed the same movies. We had many, "you read that book?" moments today. We even watched the same obscure independent film last week. (Oh, here's a film recommendation: Arranged.) Here is a great website recommend as well: Front Porch Republic.

Friday, August 13, 2010

pink curlers, bread bombs & rainy days

Ingrid got it into her pretty little head that she wanted to try out hair curlers. (Where does she get this stuff?) I figured it was a cheap and fun distraction, so we purchased old-fashioned pink Goody foam curlers...just like my sweet and dear Grandma wore every night. I have fond memories of my cousins and I setting each others' hair at Grandma's house when we got to have sleepovers together. We would then listen to "Mystery Theater" on the radio (creepy squeaky door, footsteps...scary organ music..."Good Evening, and welcome to Mystery Theater..."). Inevitably, my oldest cousin would sneak in just before we were asleep and scare the snot out of her sister and me. Sometime during the night, at least one of us would grow tired of the plastic curler pins digging into our heads, and we'd pull all the curlers out. Ingrid made it all the way through the night. She really does have a beautiful head of hair...

Occasionally, the bread just doesn't turn out as expected. I guess I haven't quite found the sweet spot in this oven. The bottoms are black (not pleasantly charred) and the top isn't quite as crusty as expected. I was making these loaves as a gift, and unfortunately will probably just become (delicious) croutons for tonight's Caesar salad.

Ilsa is the proud new owner of a ladybug umbrella from Grandma and Grandpa.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

how we spent our summer vaca...saturday

This Saturday has been the most beautiful weekend day we have experienced since we arrived. The humidity was manageable, the temperature was lovely (about 85) and the skies were blue, dotted with puffy clouds. There was a tiny breeze. I even saw a blue swallowtail butterfly flutter by. Perfect summer day.

Did we tour The National Mall? Did we visit Mount Vernon? No, instead we spent it pressure washing all of the hard surfaces around our home. We started at 10:15 am and finished at 4:45. (The hose ran the entire time, nonstop. I wonder how big our water bill will be...) Mr. BikeMan and I are both horrendously tired and we will be SORE tomorrow, but the trade off was worth it. Check out these before and after pictures.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

TEAL presents Sisters

I must get my hands on a copy of this book!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Struan is a bread of Scottish origin which is traditionally made with whatever grains are left around the house. I used steel cut oats and rolled oats along with home-milled whole wheat for this 100% whole grains loaf (well, I did dust the top with white flour). Yummmmmmmy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

this is so cool! I want it for my birthday...

Can I have this TARDIS cake for my birthday? (The blue Police Box one - if you don't understand why in the world I want this, you must not be a Doctor Who fan...). I bet we would have cake for weeks, because of course, it's bigger on the inside.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

observations from the fray

So, we've been here about three weeks now, and I've learned a few things about The East:

1) Some persons believe that parking spaces are worth risking one's life (*see below)
2) Don't shop on Saturday or Sunday unless you really want people to growl and scowl at you
3) A quick trip for an outing or just running errands will take, at a minimum, three hours, usually more
4) Don't leave home without the Garmin GPS, but don't always trust it

*So, we were at Whole Foods on Saturday morning. We had hoped to go out for a nice sit-down family breakfast, but time ran away from us (see observation #3). We were at a (surprise, surprise) really cool bike shop in the neighborhood where The Too Cool For You Peoples hang out (apparently) (see growling and scowling #2), and there was a really big and neat looking Whole Foods grocery store across the street, so across we went to grab something from their grab-and-go eating area. They had a great breakfast bar set up. On our way in, we saw two older gentlemen (in pretty swanky vehicles) actually hollering at each other in the parking lot. Mad Man #1 had swooped in his smallish and agile vehicle (wrongfully so...we saw it) and stole Mad Man #2's parking space, AS Mad Man #2 was backing his largish tank-type SUV into said spot. Door slamming. Wives screaming. Awful. (I kept thinking about Fried Green Tomatoes "To WANDA!") But wait, there's more. We went back (self-infliction of pain?) that afternoon to grab a high quality steak for the grill and AGAIN, we witnessed two men fighting over a parking space at the same exact store. Different men, though. Good grief.

Regarding observation #4, don't always trust your Garmin. We had located a Wal-Mart, and it took us into the heart of Downtown Washington DC. We drove past The Mall, through Georgetown, were sent around several roundabouts, and into a neighborhood with boutique hotels and fancy stores. Yeah, right, like there's a Wal-Mart on Massachusetts Avenue. This little excursion took us one hour -- and we travelled a sum total of about 10 driving miles.

Here are some happier topics. This gas oven ROCKS pizza. Look at this crust char! Awesome.

Here's Ingrid's Pink Palace of a room. The girl loves pink.

Our Mid-Century inspired furniture is great in this 60's mid-century vibe home. Note the homage to Costco in the bottom right corner.

You saw the before picture of Ilsa's room, well, here's the after.

The Big Pear has found a place, but still needs to go up on the wall.

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