Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A sleepover

Guess who is coming to stay with us for a night......

Untitled from Susan Harris on Vimeo.

Cecilia, Claire's teacher's daughter, and the love of Sammy's life, is coming to stay the night with us on Thursday. Her parent's are taking a one-night mini-vacation, so we get her for 24 hours!

If you've watched that video and missed it, you really have to watch Sammy. He does these funny little faces and moves in the first few seconds of his dancing....I think he made up those moves for Cecilia because I've never seen them before!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Woman-ing up

So, I'm on a mission to become a better woman. A more disciplined woman. A woman who does her best with what she has been given.

In my "parent group" at church, we have been talking about our greatest fears. The discussion was based on the sermon our pastor gave where he talked about Peter walking on the water. His fear was obviously drowning when he was walking on the water towards Jesus. Pastor Daniel talked about how Peter could have just stayed in the boat and NOT gone to Jesus, so he asked us what our big fear was and what our "boat" was, meaning, where our comfort zone is that we could stay to avoid facing our fears.

Anyway, the discussion has been really good for men and women alike. We are finally starting to KNOW a few deeper things about each other. A lot of us have fears of not ever living up to what God wants us to be. Some have fears of not finding their specific "calling" (which of course prompted discussion on what that means exactly). It's funny to see the personalities come out around this topic. All the A-type personalities are most afraid of failure or looking bad to people. Others are more afraid of not getting to do all they WANT to do in life. Some have had bad life experiences and are afraid that they are unlovable or that the love in their lives will somehow fail and go away because they have been hurt so many times in life. It's been good.

Mine was definitely that I'm afraid I'll always be "medium". I'm so all-or-nothing about life that unless I can do something really well, I sometimes just don't bother. I guess it's my inner perfectionist mixed with laziness or something. I'd love to be a missionary in China or to start an children's home or something, but on a smaller scale I won't just tell my neighbor about the Lord, you know? I'd love to be a full-time teacher because I feel like I have lots of ideas that could help children from our neighborhood with their education, but just going on Wednesdays to tutor for a coule hours feels like a drop-in-the-bucket. See what I mean? If I'm not doing something ALL the way, I don't feel like it counts or something, so then I get discouraged about what I AM able to do and just want to quit.

I want to be a great organized mom and be patient and teach my children at home and be a great loving wife....but at the end of the day, when I feel like I have not done very well, I just start to give up and stop trying because I feel like I'm not cutting it anyway. So, I guess my fear is that I won't ever be as good of a person as God would want me to be (or even as good as I'd like to be) so my "boat" is whatever you call "doing nothing".

For instance, I joined a gym so that I'd start working out more, but right now my schedule only permits me to go a couple times a week, so I feel like I may as well quit and not do it. What's twice a week? Nothing! I'll never have a rock-star body with twice a week. But..........I need to go anyway. It's a good discipline, and it helps me be in a better mood. Other things I do this same thing with:

I don't read the Bible or pray very often because I don't think I'll have enough time to do it "good enough" .

I don't send Birthday cards or even presents because they won't be as creative as I'd like them to be.

I don't bother calling certain people EVER because I feel like I should call them more regularly.

I skip going to the gym twice a week because I feel like I should go daily.

I hang out here on the computer ignoring my children because I'm always thinking that one day I'm going to happen upon a blog or a website that will help me be the perfect mom or something, (meanwhile my kids are in the living room saying "will you READ this to me mom?")

Well, anyway, you probably get the point. But the point for ME is that I need to woman-up and get back on the horse. I need to decide that even though what I have to offer may never be quite as great/creative/perfect as I'd like it to be, that I need to do the best I can with what I am. My fear should not be an excuse to stay in the boat being lazy and crying about how I could "just do more if...."

So, here I am on my way to the gym. And since Matt is out of town this week, I'm going to have to do some serious playing with the kids. And I'm going to read my Bible. And I'm going to send my baby sister a birthday gift...even if it's late. Even if it's just a gift card and not something awesome and well-though-out and creative. Alright, here I go.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

If it be your will Lord

That's the attitude I'm trying to have anyway. We haven't heard, yet, about the foreclosure house we put an offer on, (and yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition. How about..."we haven't heard about the foreclosure house on which we put an offer"). Anywho...we're waiting. I HATE waiting. I hate waiting for anything. Right now I'm taping LOST because Matt's at Awana with Claire and we are going to watch it later, and even waiting the 15 minutes is killing me. Patience is not one of my virtues.
So, just to appease me, my friend Bridget, who is also my realtor, took me back over to the house to take pictures of it. I hadn't seen it since early November, and was forgetting the layout and the pros and cons, so I needed a refresher.
So, here is the tour. As you walk into the front door, you see this stair case. To the left is the main living room, but it now has a big wall in front of it because the house is temporarily a two-flat, meaning that it is separated into two separate apartments. That wall, to the left, will either come down entirely, or have a big archway cut into it at least, depending on how much supporting it is doing.
After you walk into that brown door, you see this straight ahead of you. This is the kitchen, behind it is a tiny eat-in dining area, and behind that is...
this full bathroom. The grout has issues, but nothing a little elbow grease, (or the handyman from our old condo building) can't fix!
To the left of the little blue dining area is a tiny dowstairs bedroom, which would end up being an office. It's in the back left corner of the house and there is a back door in this room which leads out to the back yard.
To the left of the big white wall that you saw walking in is this living room. It has a decent amount of light and will have more of it when we take that wall down. It also has...
this decorative fireplace, which the current tenants decided was the perfect place for their stereo.
This is upstairs in the master bedroom. It looks out the front and goes the whole width of the house, (which of course is not sooo wide or anything, but it's not a tiny space...for us anyway).
And here is the dirty tiny little SECOND kitchen which would of course have to be ripped out upstairs. The wall between this room and the little bedroom between it would also be taken down and it would end up being one "big" room. Nothing here is huge, thus the quotation marks.
Here is the view looking north off the back deck. Nothing incredible, but the actual deck is in good shape.
Here is the backyard. There are raised planters and a nice stone walkway which is kinda pretty, I think.
Here is the veiw from the garage back to the house. Again, we're talking a city house here...this is no sprawling country house. But to me it's huge!
And there is a walkout basement. It's not a finished basement, but there is currently a cute little hispanic man renting it out. I know this because he had no idea what we were saying when we knocked on the door and tried to explain that I was looking at the house to buy it. But even though we could not speak the same language, he eventually very kindly let us walk in and check out his tiny basement apartment. I thought that was very nice of him.
So that's it. And I know to many it's not something incredible, but to me it would be such a fun project and my first actual "home". We've had two condos and rented an apartment, but we'd love our own little front porch to put a pumpkin on in October and a tiny backyard to send the kids into, even if it's only brick pavers. I'll take it. Now if only it all worked out in the end. We'll see...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

But I still love technology...always and forever

If you've seen Napoleon Dynamite, then the above title will mean something to you. But if not, don't worry, because in a minute you'll be distracted by the hilariousness of the Valentine's Day E-card my father sent to my 3 year old. Oh Grandad...you are such a hoot:

Yes, this Valentines Day was about technology for us.....the old and the new.

For starters, we got cable. Now, I have officially lived for 29.5 years of life without cable. That's a lot of years of bunny ears, but honestly I just didn't know the difference. Sometimes I wished I had it, but I've never watched that much TV anyway, so I didn't really mind. But then, I got another life technology upgrade: a laptop, and then things just started snowballing from there. Matt works from home two days a week which means he's on our desktop all day, so I begged and begged and threatened and he finally got me a laptop. NOW, we had the choice of getting cable or just a regular wireless router, and in the end we chose cable since our TV was going to end up obsolete pretty soon anyway if we didn't get some kind of HD box to upgrade it before the "big switch" happens in TV land. So, anyway, in one weekend, I got a laptop (complete with internet access) and cable TV (including "on demand"). Wow. This for a girl who hauled a 25 lb Brother word processor around in college.

But with the new came something old as well. I just received, in the mail today, the CD-version of an old 1970's record that I grew up with. I found it online because I remembered listening to this record when I was a kid and wanted it for my own kids. So, now I'm the owner of "Evie: A Little Song of Joy for my Little Friends". The instrumental intro to the first song alone blasted me back to being a child. Claire already loves it. It's very sweet. We love the Tree Song. But it's seriously 70's.

And even MORE technology was to be had by my big girl when we found this sweet watch (with interchangeable wrist bands) at a rummage sale yesterday. She's just learning to tell time, so she thinks she's pretty big stuff with this watch...now if I only knew where to get a new battery.

Things are all getting a little too spacey around here for me. All the technology is tripping me out! [Drawing by Claire at a Valentines day party yesterday...it's a baby alien if you couldn't tell]. Now, if you excuse me, I have to go watch HGTV...because now I can.

Happy Valentines Day all!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What we're up to

We're basically trying to ride out this winter. I'm trying to be the mom who does some fun stuff in February besides sitting around crying that there is "nothing to do" but sometimes it's hard. The kids used to play together better, and now, since they are so cooped up, all the traditional games "baby and mommy" or "mean king" are starting to get dull for them...especially for yours truly: the Sammy-Sam. He wants to be outside and he wants to be running and biking and digging and sliding and chasing, and instead, it's still just 40 degrees outside. So....I'm having to figure out some interesting things that they both like to do. For instance, cooking. I figured out that if I made a big blob of pizza dough at the beginning of the week, they could daily make themselves a little pizza lunch. It takes a while, but what else do we have to do, right? Sammy's favorite part is sifting flour onto his dough. Claire, of course, expertly and perfectly rolls out her dough into a little perfect circle. Then I let them put on their own toppings. Sammy usually eats half of them, and then I have to throw a little extra cheese on his at the end, but what the heck?
And this is my newest attempt at dealing with Sammy's, uh, discipline issues. We have to spend soooo much time telling him what he's doing wrong that I just feel sad about him. So, I got this idea the other day to do some sort of positive reinforcement thing with him. He's very into knights and dragons  (we've been reading King Arthur so he now calls his sword "Excalibur") so I tried to invent a little system where I keep these 4 cardboard swords in my cupboard, and when he makes a "good decision" then he gets to put his sword into the magic scabbord (I didn't know what that meant either until I read the King Arthur book).  But, for us, it is essentially a little red pocket that he puts a sword into. If he earns 4 swords before daddy gets home from work, he gets to pick out something from the other little red pocket. One is "do a rock band with daddy" and another award is "bike ride with daddy" but, don't be fooled, there is also a "piece of candy" prize which he has chosen every time so far. :) Anyway, here's hoping for some positive improvement.
Claire, on the other hand is entertaining herself as usual. One rainy afternoon, I told her that I made some folder games for the kids that I tutor, and she was very excited by that idea. Now, when I said "folder games" I was referring to these little lapbook games you can make out of folders that teach reading skills, etc. She thought I meant "game" like candy land or something, so she decided to make her own "folder game". You can not see the actual game she drew because the folder is red and she insisted on drawing it in light pencil, but it's sort of a Candy Land type game where you have to work your way up a lollipop. There are about ten thousand spaces though, and it's a little bit of a "Calvin Ball" scenario where the rules keep changing throughout the game, so it's pretty funny. She really wanted to make her own dice out of cardboard, which was a little frustrating, and then she really wanted the dice to have a holder so we made a little box that hangs off the back of the folder to keep all the little game pieces in. There were also tiny game pieces shaped like gum drops.
So anyway, we're just here...being inside. And we're stilllllll waiting to see if the foreclosure house we put an offer on has gone through.

Monday, February 9, 2009

An etsy shop for Mr Tad

So, I'm sorta obsessed with people who can do things and create things because although I can appreciate finely crafted things, I've never really learned HOW to finely craft anything. I also have realized that I don't have a lot of patience for tiny things. I bought a sewing machine once, and sold it a year later rather than figure out how to fix the tension setting. I bought a knitting book and knit about 30 rows that would make a washcloth, but I'm too impatient to stare at that book any longer and try to figure out how to get it off the needles now, so it just sits there in a basket...unfinished. Remember that personality test thing I took about starting things and not neccessarily finishing them? I think that's why I'm fascinated with people who finish things and finish them well.
And that is why I present Mr Tad. Tad is the loving husband of our teacher Mary Cowen.  She is pregnant and also has a little girl named Cecilia, (the one Sammy likes). Well, Tad has this woodshop in his garage and he makes stuff...cool stuff. I don't even have pictures of some of his coolest stuff because he gave much of it away as Christmas presents. But I've so liked his stuff that I insisted that he let me open an Etsy shop for him (since they don't own a computer...or I'd obviously suggest he do it himself).  Now, this is a nice idea, except that I have no idea about opening an Etsy shop. Does anyone have a clue about that?
He makes coat racks out of random recycled/repurposed wood and little tree stumps.
Here's the bigger one. He even gave me one, which I hung down low so that my kids would stop throwing their coats on the floor when they come in the house.
This is, well, a stick/sculpture thing. Some of this stuff you have to see up close, or in context, but it's very cool and swirly and shiny and smooth.
Here's another of the same kind of thing, except he has a whole walking stick set too, which you'll see in a minute. So this may be one of those.
This is just an old classroom school chair, but he does a lot of refinishing old stuff. I want this chair for Claire for homeschooling next year!
This is a cherry wood bookcase he built Ms Cowen. I'm probably not suppoed to sell this, I guess.
Here's a table he made out of an old door and cross-sections of a tree trunk.
See the tree stumps?
He made Cecilia a costume closet out of an old door jam. I like that. I also like that although Ms Cowen is our Waldorf teacher, she also has tacky princess dress up clothes and plastic high heels for her daughter. Not just flower fairy nymph costumes. Yay! She's normal afterall.
I guess he didn't exactly MAKE this, but it's an old cabinet that was in a fire, but it looks cool on the wall, doesn't it?
A frame he made, with their daughter's picture.
And this is my favorite thing he makes. He takes these twisted branches and carves them down into these chandelier looking things which you can hang over your table or something. I want one of those.
And here are his walking sticks. They are very medicine-man looking I think.
He wrote this on the back of the coat rack he gave to me. I think it's a perfect Etsy name, don't you think? I didn't get it, at first, but then I was like "OOOOOOOOOhhhhh...like a COW in the WOODS!" Haha. Anyway, cool stuff, right? I wish I could make cool stuff.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Waldorf Birthday party

Well, it's been "that kind" of week. Busy, crazy, with a little vomiting and fever thrown in. But, we've done a lot! A little barf never slows down the Harris family...at least not for long. For instance, last Sunday (pre-any barf) we went to sweet Nora's birthday party. She's from Claire's little Waldorf Kindergarten, and her parent's are great.
The daddy is the stay-at-home dad, and the mom teaches special-ed at a local high school. She's a definite bra-burning feminist, complete with a bra-burning feminist book club, but yet she also believes you should nurse your children until they're darn-well ready to stop and she is against all forms of materialism...and shampoo... so they're just an interesting couple to talk to. The daddy also lends us tools because he's a major fix-it guy, so we appreciate him a lot. He can also talk your ear off, which I appreciate in a man because so many men I know aren't big talkers...especially to other women...you know? Anyway, we love them.
This is the birthday girl. Isn't she a cutey?
The kids spent most of the afternoon outside playing in the snow. There was a great little club house/fairy fort....
a bonfire, some swings, mud, snow ball fights, and various dogs.
The birthday girl wore these great pink cow-girl boots!
They did some [very open-ended] crafts, assisted by lots of nice mommies (most of whom happened to be mid-wives, by the way. But that's another story).
The teacher even came. We love her! (And we love her daughter, Cecilia, too, of course).
Little Nora blew out her 5 candles.
And then the kids spent the rest of the time jumping from the parent's dresser on to their bed...
...and hiding in their closet. Alright, so these people are completely different than me in most ways. But I have to admit that their birthday parties are a much bigger hit than mine. I mean, how could I ever top jumping from the furniture to the bed? And the adults have it so easy at a party like this too: no games to referee or pinatas to break open...just kids running wild doing what kids want to do, while we eat food and drink wine, (out of jelly jars of course, because they are serious recyclers at this house). Never a dull moment here on the west side of Chicago!