Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sophomore Year

My sophomore year, I got to live in Mary Gaston*, the "new" dorm (it smelled less like burned popcorn than the other dorms). I started out in a room on the second floor with three roommates.

I don't remember any of them.

They would get up before light bell and listen to the radio. It was awful. I was totally trying to sleep and these girls were listening to WBJU or WMUU or who knows. The lights weren't even on in the hall. You couldn't talk in the hall and they had the radio on?

One day I noticed a room down the hall that only had two names on the door (we put our names on the door, sometimes on really cute signs or something). I looked at it in passing for a few days and then went to the dorm supervisor and asked to be moved into the room.

Thank God she let me.

My new roommates were Tamara and another girl whose name I can't remember. She was finishing school in December and apparently was from so rural a place that she'd run to the window when we heard sirens to see the lights of the ambulance or fire truck or whatever (Mary Gaston was close to Wade Hampton Blvd. (or maybe it was the other one, 291, or now that I've looked at the map, Pleasantburg), but REST EASY, there was a fence between us and them).

After Christmas, we got a new APC, Adela. We were now the multicultural room: I'm white, Tamara black, and Adela Hispanic. I made a sign for the door that said: The United Colors of Benetton (cut from a magazine) welcomes you to The Multicultural Room and had a picture of the three of us on it.

Also, around Valentine's Day, we (alright, who am I kidding, it was all me) covered the door with paper and divided it in half. One side was "things we love" and the other was "things we hate." We had to take it down because we had Shannen Doherty on the "hate" side.

Hey. It was 1994.

But, it was a name. Apparently it didn't matter that she was not a person at the school, that she was a celebrity that everyone hated. That's what I remember the objection being, that there were names on the lists.

Oh duh. I get it now. It was a pop culture reference. That's what was wrong with it.

That room, that second semester, was probably best room I had. Last summer Tamara and her husband were up in New England and we ate lobsters together. She was as funny and genuine as I remembered.

*holy cow. I was just there linking up and that picture of the dorm room is a place that hasn't changed in 15 years. Gag. I can practically smell the excessive perfume, hairspray, burned popcorn, and legalism from here. The rooms I lived in were slightly better decorated, but just barely.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Last Day

It's Sam's last day of kindergarten. I can't believe how much he's grown and changed this last year.

He learned to read. He does equations. He can occasionally tell time on a non-digital clock. He writes sentences like "I playd socer. I skod three gols," with a picture accurately depicting the Black Bears (his team, drawn with black crayon) against the Green Slime (drawn in green, the team they played the weekend before).

Overall, I can't believe this year has passed. Nine months ago Kate was still napping in the afternoon and I was waking her up to go pick up Sam at school. It took three weeks of that before I let Sam ride the bus home. Then for awhile I put Kate in the stroller and took a walk before meeting the bus. Then that stroller ripped (the second one!), I returned it, and the 'walk as exercise' was retired until I could go alone.

Sam had a tough adjustment, which I was not expecting. The second week of school he punched two kids. He had a hard time following directions and getting along with his new friends. Eventually we had to tell him "no Wii" before school and that seemed to help; it's like he couldn't organize himself after playing and was too "keyed up" to settle down for school. I tried getting them outside in the morning for a walk or something until it got too cold, and that seemed to help, too.

The biggest adjustment for me was how early we had to eat lunch - he had to be at school at 12:15, so we usually started eating at 11 AM. That's like second breakfast or brunch, not lunch. Eventually I gave up on my self-imposed expectation of "real lunch" and gave him waffles and fruit for lunch.

Sam had a wonderful teacher. She's very young - it's her second year teaching. Part of me wanted an "older" teacher, but I was a young teacher - and really, young teachers are so much more aware of what's current in education. (Well, I did teach in tiny private Christian schools, so there was really no sense of "educational theory" or "continuing education" for the teachers. Many of them were just warm bodies for crowd control.) But Sam's teacher, while fresh out of grad school, made up for "lack of experience" with enthusiasm, energy, and kindness. She was positive and upbeat even at the beginning of the year when he was struggling and for all she knew, we were a pair of slacker parents who didn't care. She called me with concerns, answered my questions, and really brought out the best in Sam.

I will always be thankful that Sam had her as his kindergarten teacher. I love how God directed who he'd have before I even thought to ask.

I'm feeling a little emotional about the end of the year. Not as much as the beginning of the year, but a still . . . a little. He's growing up, and the days (or moments) of firsts and lasts bring that into a clarity that often gets drowned in the dailyness of daily life.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


At BJ, there were major sports and minor sports that one could play with one's society. I played soccer and once or twice, softball, but true dedication to society could be found in the minor sports. Shuffleboard. Badminton. Ping-pong. Innertube water polo.

Since my friend Katey was the most athletic girl I knew and also frequently was elected (alright, I can't think of it at all, it's like "sports coordinator" or something), under her influence I often found myself showing off some fine shuffleboard skills (nowadays they'd be skillz) or a poorly coordinated badminton move in an effort to, well, I'm not sure what we were up to. Possibly trying to earn society points to win "society of the year" but frankly, there had to be an easier way.

Sometimes no other society would show up to play and the one who did show up could win by default. This was the stuff of legends; everything I showed up for, I had to play.

Once. Once I tried innertube water polo. It wasn't as humiliating as it sounds, as (of course) there were girl times and times for the pool.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

There's a point in here somewhere . . .

This is supposed to be a blog about food. That's how I imagined it when I thought of the name: A mom sets out to feed her "picky" children regular food and blogs about it. That's what the book reviews and movie trailers would say.

Ah, but after thinking of what to eat, and going to the grocery store, cooking, and then battling with them to eat it, I don't always feel like writing about it. I feel like I'm admitting my failures by telling you the lame things I make and our ridiculous methods for getting the kids to eat . . .

I think lately the enemy has been extra busy reminding me about my shortcomings and all the ways I'm a loser. I can't keep the house clean. Despite reading Grace-Based Parenting (post coming soon, by the way; once I get my jaw off the floor from the revolutionary* thoughts in there), I lose it with my kids. I don't exercise or put on makeup every day or keep up with the Joneses or . . . you name it.

I'm a loser.

*revolutionary to me. Maybe the rest of you knew/believed these things already.

But you know what? By the grace of God, I was able to scrape myself up last week and "do the next thing." This is where I don 't worry about if I'll emotionally spiral downhill later in the afternoon; I empty the dishwasher or read a book to my children or build a Lego house because that's what to do then. And the house has been cleaner. The meals have been homemade.

For the most part.

I had a good talk with a good friend, a wonderful God-given friend, that helped me keep my eyes and heart turned to God.

Maybe I'll do a food post later this week. Maybe.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


That's Kate very helpfully picking the strawberries out of my bin and putting them in her bucket.

Freaky-looking berry that you can't see very well; it was like 4 berries stuck together.

Last year she wouldn't even taste them, so this is a big improvement.

Sam getting a ride from Noah. This is shortly before Noah started pulling the wagon around in crazy circles and Sam and the berries toppled out.
I was very excited to try these shortcakes. They showed a lot of promise, but there was a little bit of an aftertaste that we blame on the baking powder. I am going to try them again making a few changes and I will let you know.
Maybe. If I remember.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I had thought of a story to tell and then forgot what I was going to write, so I thought I might not do a way-back this week. But it's your lucky day! I remembered!

This past Sunday, it began to pour just as I was getting ready to go out, so I got my "umberchute" and it was broken. Craig very bluntly told me to throw it in the dumpster. I actually thought about not tossing it . . . I mean, I'd had the thing for a good 15 years. I was pretty emotionally attached to it.

Which brings me to this week's trivial and yet drawn-out story:

There were a lot of covered sidewalks at BJ, but we still needed an umbrella to get from where the cover ended to our destination. For some reason, my Dragon friends and I called these "umberchutes" (I still call them that, to the confusion of my children, although Kate now calls it a rainbrella).

At the entrance to the buildings were these umbrella-holder things, which when viewed horizontally resembled benches, but when you looked down on them, they were all these little circles where you could stash your umbrella for the next umbrella-less student to pick up . . . I mean, while you were in class or chapel or whatever. (Still don't know how to do a cross-out but really could have used it for that.)

I had what I thought was a fantastic umbrella. No silly compact thing for me, mine was full-sized (not golf sized), with a curved handle, and had khaki and white checks. There was no way I was leaving this thing outside the FMA for some wanna-be rain fashionista to take. So I'd hide it under my raincoat to take into chapel.

And Barry, head usher, would try to stop me. When I got in successfully, I'd giddily show it to him on the way out.

For those in a totalitarian society, it's the little things.

And yeah. I tossed the broken umberchute.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Childhood vacations

When I was young, my parents would pack the three of us kids into the station wagon with a cooler and sleeping bags and a tent and drive us around the country. We'd camp at campgrounds and mostly visit historical sites with a few natural wonders thrown in for variety. I'd like to say this is a list of my top-ten favorite places visited as a child, but in reality I had a hard time remembering 10 things. So it's kind of just a list of 10 things.

1. Yellowstone National Park - we actually rented a cabin here and stayed for a few days. We ate in a cafeteria-type place and saw Old Faithful.

2. Wall Drug - for about 700 miles before you get there, there are billboards announcing it. Also lots of motorcyclists on the highway, heading to Sturgis.

3. Great Smoky Mountains - We went there more than once. The streams are very cold to swim in.

4. Prince Edward Island - the fairest of all earthly places. Really.

5. Kentucky Horse Park - I loved horses growing up and I think maybe my parents chose to go here because I would like it so much.

6. Taos, NM - another place we stayed for almost a week, but this time in the tent. My sister got a cactus stuck in her hand and we visited Anasazi cave dwellings.

7. Boston - I remember buying a teal-colored t-shirt that said "Boston" on it and walking the Freedom Trail through the North End and seeing "the Garden."

8. St. Louis Arch - We drove from Harrisburg, PA, to St. Louis, MO in one day. It was long and awful. But the Arch was cool.

9. Interior, SD - where we ate Indian fry bread that was so good and they said the green hot sauce would "take the paint off your truck."

10. Outer Banks, NC - I remember eating at a restaurant where we could see the ocean on one side and the sound on the other. I think we camped there for 2 or 3 days and there were these people flying a kite way way way high up in the air. I think it was their "thing."

And two honorable mentions:

Vicksburg, MI - My father insisted on touring the battlefield even though it was 108 degrees even though (for once) we actually had a hotel room and the hotel had a pool. This is probably (other than that "longest day" drive mentioned above) one of my least favorite memories.

Niagara Falls - the joke in my family is that I declared this place "boring." They never let me forget that I said that.

For some real top-ten action, and not just random things corralled onto a list numbered 1 through 10, go to ohamanda.

Monday, June 7, 2010


A few years back, I bought this for Sam's room:

Alright, it's not on the Land of Nod website. It was a banner of different fabric triangles. I am not going up to take a picture of it so you will have to use your imagination.

I have looked at it many times and thought, I could make that.

So yesterday, when I got the pinking shears, I decided to give it a try.
First, I made a triangle template by tracing one of the triangles from Sam's banner. I folded the paper in half to make sure it was symmetrical and then traced it on cardboard.

Then I traced it onto fabric from my extensive fabric collection. The fabric really only fills two bins, but since I just have it and don't use it it feels like a lot.
Are you so happy I took a picture during the process?
I traced it like this so it took less fabric and also so when I cut the line down the middle I was cutting the sides of two triangles. I'm all about the time-saving steps. I also cut two layers of fabric at the same time (wrong sides together). These two stayed together, so even though I cut 4 triangles from each fabric, there's only two of each on the finished banner.
After all the triangles were cut, I sewed around the inside edge at about 1/2", or something like that, so there's no "wrong side." Then I sewed it onto 4 yeards of twill tape from Joanne's.
I haven't decided where to put it; initially I was going to give it to a friend who's having a baby but I really like it and think I'll keep it. I could make another one, I guess. I do have all that fabric just sitting in bins.
In completely unrelated news, the spacing in this post bothers me. I've made repeated attempts to fix it and it won't sort itself out.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Kate has a very large collection of puppies that we often cart around. Sometimes I can convince her to only take one or two when we are going out, but even just going up and down stairs, she gathers them all to take with her, or asks me to carry them. It's too

So, I thought, I'd get her a child-sized sling to carry them. I'd read about them over on MckMama's blog. And then, at some point of searching, I thought, I could make that.

So I did.

I sort of followed the instructions here. I bought a yard of fabric and sewed it right sides together most of the way around, then turned it right side out. It bothered me that the "wrong" side of the fabric would show so I made that step up myself. Then I "pleated" the ends and sewed on velcro (the one website talks about using rings and how to connect it with velcro so it's not a strangulation hazard which I hadn't thought of at all). Oh, well, first when I tried to sew the pleats I broke the needle on my sewing machine and had to go to Joanne's for more, which was good since the ones I bought had needles for light, medium, and heavy fabric, so with the "heavy" needle and a little tension adjustment, it took me about 10 minutes to finish the whole deal.

Also while at J's I got pinking shears for another project I whipped up after dinner. No pictures yet.

And while we're talking about buying scissors, I wish I had spent the extra $2.50 (after the 50% off coupon) and gotten these.

On the sling, I ended up sewing little gathers (sort of) in the middle of the pouch. Without the rings, there weren't any rails to tighten (you have to see the Maya Wrap DVD to really appreciate the rails).

Sam and Kate were very curious about what the sling would be when I said I was going to make it. Of course they're too young to remember being in it. I didn't think I'd be a sling mama but once I tried it out I loved it; thinking about it makes me almost ache for the weight of my babies in the sling. Sam was about 6 months old when I got it but I had Kate in it from the start.

Shortly after I took this picture (which I had to trick her to get, she was trying to run away), she decided she didn't like it because she wanted something to carry all her babies in and her towel (she's weirdly attached to this towel. She refuses to get it wet.) and she didn't think they'd fit (although I think if I tried, they would). Also, it wasn't pink and brown so she didn't like it.


It was fun to make, though.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

History of England

I was an English Education Major and a History Minor. I didn't figure out until at least my junior year how to take the right classes. It was that year (I think) that I took the two semesters of History of England.

This was taught by Mr. or Dr. Harris. He was older and had white hair. He offered us an objective (Q & A) test and a subjective (essay) test at test time. I always took the essay test, and after the first couple, I stopped studying for them. I would write my way out of an answer.

I did pretty decently; low A, high B, I think. Oh who am I kidding, I'm sure it was a C.

My dad looked at my report card once and said, "These are the grades of a social butterfly."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Lately, I have not been feelin' the blog. Actually, I haven't been feelin' much of anything.

And by feelin' I mean motivation to do something/anything.

I have been feeling almost-overwhelming amounts of lethargy, uselessness, and anxiety.

I guess to be honest, it's not incessant. It comes and goes in waves. It's not unbearable. I'm not immobilized by it.

I know. I know, I know, I know.

I know I have it good. I know God's sustaining grace and goodness. I know I don't have to live by my feelings.

But still. This is what I feel. I get sick of battling and wish I could just be "normal."