Tuesday, June 29, 2010

fun i've had lately

Tonight I worked on vacation pictures because I haven't given up on the idea of blogging about the delightfully awesome week with my family, the memories of which are the only things getting me through Summer Reading Club.  I've got enough pictures and potential stories to a make a few vacation posts.  But when I got around to the writing a few minutes ago, I wanted to tell you, imaginary readers, about a more recent delightful time.

This weekend I went home to God's country to celebrate Grams's 81st birthday.  Most of my favorite people were around for the fun.  And I didn't take many pictures, but here are some of the lovely people I love most:

Grams has taken to not smiling when photographed lately.  I still think she's adorable in this one.
Blogging world:  meet MacMac.  Except for the fact that it's blurry and she's going to hate it, I think this picture is perfect.  She looks so much like Grams.  I didn't take pictures on the actual party night because I was too busy being the gift secretary, so I don't have one of Aunt Donna.  If I did, you could see how much she looks like my moma.  They could be the twins instead of my moma and MacMac. 
Speaking of perfect.
One of my goals for Sunday was to have a picture made with Grams where we both looked decent.  I had to give her a stern talking to before hand, but I think it turned out pretty cute.  But then everyone else had to show me up by being even cuter.
Like this.
And this.  But then Shane blinked, and I couldn't get them to stay still for a redo.
But he did better with my moma.
Forget Aunt Donna, Shane could be her twin.
With the arrival of Josie last month, Grams now has a handful of great-grands besides our Handful.  That blonde cutie is the pointer of the other hand, as Shane now calls them.
As you'll see from the vacation pictures (and as demonstrated above), Bird isn't a big fan smiling in photos.  So I count this one a major success.
Pinkie created a carb sandwich out of a roll and mashed potatoes at lunch.  It was popular.
Thumb is his Aunt Michelle's boy lately.  I'm bitterly jealous.
I could tell these girls, based on my experience with a certain RobBob, that having a best friend kind of a cousin will be a blessing (and very occasionally an annoyance) for the next thirty years or so, at least.  But I'm just going to let them figure it out for themselves.
Even though it's blurry, it was too cute not to post.
A couple of visits ago, the Popster taught the Pointer and Bird to drive the lawn mower.  He set up an obstacle course for them last summer, but when the whole Handful is around, he hooks up a trailer and lets Pointer drive them all around.  Despite the temperature being roughly equivalent to the surface of the sun, it was all the rage.

I always feel bad when I get back from a weekend like this and realize how many folks went unrepresented by the photos.  Sorry, people over the age of twelve.  It really was a perfect laid-back weekend, full of good food and talking and laughing and not quite enough sleeping.  I'm not going to do the full birthday post treatment with the five favorites and all.  Maybe I'll tell you my five favorite things about Grams another day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

because i'm tired of having posts that are almost ready

I always seem to be waiting around on something in order to post the millions of things I want to show you or talk about.  Most often it's a matter of not having pictures taken or transferred or whatnot.  (Well, truthfully, it's most often still being ridiculous behind on the Bible reading, but I can't even hold my head up under all that non-reading guilt.)

So even though it's midnight and what I'm about to show you is only half-finished, here's a look at my knitting progress.  When last we met in knitting discussion, I had finished a badly photographed baby hat.  The next project I began was a scarf with some yarn I stole from my moma.  For most of the winter and spring I worked on it, though really only on Wednesday nights.  I started using knitting as my fidget-buster in Wednesday night class, but I didn't make much time for it otherwise.  Recently I decided that the scarf was hideous and going nowhere, so I went in search of a better project.  Since the first baby hat was so successful and I know lots o' babies, I decided to stick with hats of various sorts.  Thanks to that center of democracy, the public library, I accessed several delightful baby knitting books and then stocked up on soft, kiddo-appropriate yarn. 

******Frugal, library-affiliated blogger's note:  You should never buy knitting or crochet books, especially since most of the books I've seen/used have only a couple of patterns I'd ever make and a dozen I wouldn't.  And once you've made something, how likely are you to make the same pattern again?  If you're the sort of person who has to write on a pattern, you probably make copies anyway.  (Not that I just advocated making photocopies of copyrighted works, though I think making a copy for the purpose keeping one's place in a pattern probably falls under acceptable use.  But don't quote me on any of that rubbish.)  But do quote me on that bit about not buying knitting books.******

My first project comes from this book:

And here's what I've got so far:
The colors might be a bit off, but the bottom of the ribbing is purple, a fairly appealing purple, if you ask me.  The pink is sweet in real life.  
It doesn't look like much yet, but I think it's going to work out.
Here's one of those world-famous live action, self-timer shots.  Pay no attention to the hideous orange shirt in the background.  Make no mistake, it's cuter in real life.
Also please notice my cute new double-point needles.  They're not as delightful to use as my bamboo ones, but I needed a smaller size.
If I were better at this whole live action shooting thing, you could see how I don't hold things correctly to be a right-handed knitter--at least that's what my moma says.  The job gets done either way.

So that's what I'm up to, knitting-wise.  I probably won't be posting a photo of the finished product for a while.  It is going to be a gift for some lucky baby I know, after all. And I have no proof to indicate that some of my imaginary readers aren't infants.  But once all my little hat projects are gifted, I'll do a recap of them all.  

Unless I forget.

******Lamely obsessed blogger's note:  It is supremely difficult to craft a decent sentence while watching NCIS episodes, especially now that I'm the proud borrower of season 1 on dvd since there are no commercial breaks.  It's amazing I finished at all.******

Monday, June 14, 2010

happy birthday to a kid i know

A few weeks ago on the family vacation that remains unblogged, we celebrated the birthdays of 40% of the Handful.  Thumb's birthday occurred when we were actually on vacation, but poor, neglected Ring who has been forced to have her birthday just whenever in the three years since she got a second little brother didn't actually turn seven until today.

I know the birthday coverage around here seems sort of spotty.  One sibling didn't get so much as a nod, another got a fairly impressive tribute.  I spent the Bird's birthday puking and longing for oblivion.  Pinkie and Thumb also got no coverage.  What does it say about who I love or don't love?  Almost nothing.  What does it say about my reliability and commitment to responsible journalism?  Volumes.

Nonetheless, today since I had to sing to the answering machine (seriously, why do they always screen me?) and since it's been nearly two and a half weeks since I gave her a gift, I honor Ring with a birthday blog.

I've only been at the hospital for 40% of Handful births.  I arrived on the scene a half hour too late for Pointer, and for Bird and Thumb who were both born in the wee hours of the morning, I was on big sister/brother keeping duty, which I was happy to do.  I got to be around for Pinkie because he has the good sense to arrive in the early afternoon, so a nineteen month old Ring and I went to hang out at the hospital with everyone else.  And for Ring, I was there.  I was on my way to Kentucky for Father's Day weekend seven years ago yesterday when my moma called to say that if I'd light a fire under it and get there, I could hitch a ride with them to Lexington for Ring's arrival.  So I hightailed it.  We got to the hospital late at night and sat and waited and killed time and dozed a bit until the next morning when she finally made her appearance.  She was so worth the wait.  Still is.

So to commemorate her birthday, here are my five favorite things about Ring.

5.  Ring is probably the girliest of all our girls.  From the time that she was able to name her colors, she has been devoted to pink and purple (and lately green).  Nearly all of her stuffed animal friends (and there are plenty) are girls.  She went through a stage last year when she would pick a skirt to wear over shorts or pants or anything else.  When Thumb was born, she was quite vocal about her preference for a sister, and with the exception of her Daddy, she has always preferred women and girls.  When she was three or four, she routinely split people up into teams and the delineation was always girl vs. boy.  Yet for all her femininity, she's an energetic, tough, little mess.  She is the big sister to two little boy monsters, so I suppose she has to hold her own.  And she does.  She's strong and loud and competitive.  But when she plays t-ball, she does use a pink glove.

4.  Ring is a goofball.  Being funny is kind of a big deal in our family, but this girl definitely has a sense of humor all her own.  She's silly and makes herself laugh just as much (and maybe more) than she does anyone else.  Her voice gets higher and higher the funnier she finds herself, and her expressive, little face gets more and more ridiculous.  She's at her funniest when she's falling to pieces cracking herself up. 

3.  She is so much like her moma.  My lovely sister-in-law is a delight, and I truly feel that we won the in-law lottery the day we got Susan.  And little Ringo shares so much of Susan's personality (and looks) right down to the quirks.  It's always sort of amazing to me to recognize the grown folks in the little people of our family, and when I see these two together, I know exactly where Ring came from, and it makes me hopeful that she'll be just as delightful a grown-up as her sweet, smart, tender-hearted, stubborn mother.

2.  My girl marches to her own beat.  Maybe it's homeschooling; maybe it's being the oldest in her family; maybe it's all those personality quirks she's inherited from her parents, but whatever the cause, Ringo does things her way.  She's obsessed with Webkinz and has at least ten to her name now.  She'd rather have a pet or be a pet than play with a doll or house.  She loves books and stories and was ridiculously excited to receive a book about Greek myths for her birthday.  And when she could pick any sort of theme under the sun for her birthday party, she chose China and proceeded to regale anyone who was interested (or wasn't) with facts about Chinese culture.
1.  In the end, I can't pick one favorite thing about the little squirt.  She's a blast and a pest and a hoot and a mess.  She can be bossy and stubborn and sweet and loving.  She's independent and sassy, but she's still not too big to crawl into my lap or hold my hand.  She's gorgeous but more proud of her missing teeth than any other feature.  She thinks the sun rises and sets in her daddy, and since I think he's pretty great too, I trust her judgment.  She's not afraid to scuffle and fuss with her little brothers, but they're hers to pester, and she'll defend them to anyone else.  She's a million great things and a few not-so-great, but the love that connects us and wraps us tight makes her perfect, just the way she is.  

Sending some big slobbery kisses to my favorite seven-year-old in Kentucky.  Aunt Ellen loves you mucho, baby girl.

it's happening again

Faithful imaginary readers may recall that I slipped off the face of the internet a few months ago when I was obsessively getting caught up on Lost episodes.  If you were fortunate enough to miss that but would like to see how lame I really am you can read about it here or here
Well, friends, tv show obsession has once again reared its ugly head in my life.  After spending ten days or so with my family and being exposed to countless NCIS reruns in completely random order, I decided that I could just start watching reruns on various networks and basically see the whole show without having to procure the DVDs.  So I've been DVRing eps for the past  couple of weeks.  I finally remembered to start watching them on Wednesday, and this weekend, when I didn't have anything particular planned, I went a bit crazy.  I now have a spreadsheet with all the episodes listed in order, with color-coding to represent what I've watched, what's on the DVR already, and what is scheduled to tape soon.  Since Jess is out of town, I spent my weekend with Gibbs, Tony, McGee, Ziva, Ducky, and Abby (and a few episodes with Kate too, but that hurts too much to talk about).  It's consuming my life in a completely unhealthy way, and I'm pretty sure the only reason I was able to manage getting to work today was because I basically watched every episode I had recorded (with the exception of a couple I'm saving until after the preceding eps record on Wednesday).  [I also knitted a lot, but I don't have much to show for it yet.  Maybe I'll take some pictures tonight.]

Never let it be said, that I hide my flaws from my adoring public.  I fully acknowledge how lame I am, but I gotta be me.

Don't tell, but I think I love McGee best of all.

And if you haven't already purchased my Christmas present, may I make a suggestion?
NCIS Naval Criminal Investigative Service - The Complete First SeasonNCIS Naval Criminal Investigative Service - The Complete Second SeasonNCIS Naval Criminal Investigative Service - The Complete Third SeasonNCIS Naval Criminal Investigative Service - The Fourth SeasonNCIS Naval Criminal Investigative Service - The Fifth SeasonNCIS: The Complete Sixth Season

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

beckypalooza 2010, the recap

Back a hundred (or ten) years ago when I was in the college, I made some friends that remain the best of my life.  If you were/are my friend before or since, imaginary reader, I'm quite sure I love you and perhaps my relationship with you as an individual is unique and meaningful in many ways, but there is something special about our group of twelve, the shared experiences, the countless times that we've managed to prioritize getting together and seeing each other in addition to keeping up through various modes of communication.  To paraphrase one of Martha's more famous bits:  people come in and out of my life, but these girls (better known as the Peeps), they're core.  I've been seeing quite a bit of my girls lately, and that suits me fine.  There are some living off in far-flung places that I only get to see on special occasions like Smonica's wedding a few months ago or Kelly's wedding coming up in October, but at the moment nearly half of the Peeps are living in central Arkansas with me.  It warms my little heart.

For the past four and a half days, we've been living one of those special occasions.  Beckypalooza is a Peeps holiday that only comes along every three or four years or so.  Once when we were seniors, Becky was down about something.  I think at the time I didn't even know what, and the actual reason has ceased to matter long ago.  I threw an impromptu cheering-up party for her and called it Beckypalooza (perhaps I'm not the one who originally came up with the name Beckypalooza--I can't even remember at this point--so if another Peep wants to take credit here, she is welcome to do so).  The inaugural Beckypalooza was a hit.  So in intervening years when Becky has come back down to visit from her Yankee home, we've revisited the idea of Beckypalooza.  The last time that we documented such an occasion was in the fall of 2006 (though Becky's been here probably half a dozen times since then, and I've seen her in other places too).  I guess we are mostly saving the Beckypalooza title for those times when she's coming down just because, when we don't have weddings or Spring Sing or any specific agenda besides good times.  This extended weekend definitely fits that bill.

We have had a low-key blast moving the party from Peep home to Peep home .  We painted pottery, photos of which I've promised to post here once I pick it up so that we can all see each other's work.  We cooked and ate out and celebrated birthdays and played games and sang songs and laughed so much that nothing should even seem funny again.  Then we laughed some more.  The central Arkansas Peeps do a pretty decent job of making time for each other, but the thing that made this weekend so spectacular is how we all dropped everything else to be together for four to five straight days for most of us.  Pure bliss.  (And a special mention goes to Tittle for hanging with us all day on Saturday despite the fact that she was almost 36 weeks pregnant and having contractions all day.)

Beckypalooza made me long for my Peeps far away:  Paige, Stacie, Teresa, Kelly, Susan, and Crys.  And it made me treasure all the moments I have with my Peeps near (or near at the moment):  Becky, Robyn, Martha, Amy, Monica, and Hailey.  And of course, there's a similar longing and treasuring for the Meeps (Peep Men/Husbands) and Weeps (the Wee Peeps) though I think Peeps good-times at their most hilarious and nostalgic can be overwhelming and frightening for all but the most hardy Meeps and Weeps.  I almost feel sorry for them when we really get going.  It was probably for the best that the local Meep/Weep contingent let us have Friday night all to ourselves to story and cackle ourselves into a contented stupor.

Home, for me, is never really a place.  Home is people and the love that wraps you up together.  I've got the most amazing family (with whom I spent a glorious eleven days just a couple of weeks ago and who fill up my heart with home when we are together).  But my Peeps . . . they're home too.  And when my ungrateful heart pauses to count the blessings in my life, Peeps are among the biggest and best.  My cup overflows.

Thank you, Becky, for making that long trip for us, for bringing us together for a weekend of precious memories, for holding things back to keep things fresh in our lives, for being hilarious and interested and a part of our lives, for being core.

And to the far-off Peeps who may read this and feel sad to have missed out, we missed you too and lifted your name up in countless remembered stories.  We loved on you all from afar because we can't get together without you in our hearts.  Thank you for being core too.

(And one more thing, Beck . . . I know how you like to visualize what we're all doing in our day-to-day lives, so for the picture in your head:  I wrote this sitting on my bed in the wee hours of the morning after we got home from karaoke at Robyn's.  You may have even heard me clicking away as you attempted to sleep.  Sorry if I kept you up.  And if you hate this picture of you, I'll get rid of it, but I think it's almost as adorable as the real you and definitely worthy of stopping a class to point out and discuss the adorableness.  Just saying.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

if my car were an archaeological dig . . .

 . . . it would tell a story.  I examined the person who lives in and uses my car as I drove to work this morning, and here's who I discovered:
  • a person who eats breakfast on the run and obviously prefers maple brown sugar crunchy granola bars to all others and is clearly too hurried to be mindful of crumbs
  • a person with hydration issues--all four cup holders are routinely double- or triple-stacked with empty to-go cups, soft drink cans, and the most attractive orange plastic cups anywhere ever
  • a person with good intentions of keeping her car clean but with very little follow-through--a half-full trash bag alongside the loose wrappers and occasional fast food bag and enough receipts to wallpaper the interior
  • a person with eclectic and disorganized musical tastes, with empty cd cases in the console that never seem to match the cds that are actually in the cd player
  • a person who seems to care about the environment in several important ways
    • Those reusable cloth grocery bags are everywhere.
    • Based on the amount of dirt and debris piled into the deep mud-catching channels on the laughably rugged floor mats, some sort of composting project is obviously underway.
    • It is a hybrid, after all.
  • a person who could survive for several days on the accumulated junk:  loose change, spare clothing, granola bars, bottle of water, reading material, etc. that always winds up back in the car no matter how often it's cleaned out
To sum up, my car is just as embarrassingly messy and disorganized and disappointing as my home, workspace, and thoughts.  Sigh.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

it's alive

I realized mostly after the fact that I didn't warn my imaginary readers that I was going on vacation.  I've been home now for about five hours, and I should have been asleep for at least two of those, but the internet has missed me.  I don't mean to imply that I wasn't on the internet for the past eleven days.  Don't be deceived, friends, my laptop met up with every wireless connection it could across several states, but I did take a very intentional break from blogging, mostly because I'm slow and I didn't want to take any extra time from my precious family and the fun stuff we were doing.  Most of my faithful readers are real people who actually know me, so the chances are high that you knew I was on vacation anyway.  But I should have warned you.  Sorry about that.  I hope you can forgive me.

So I have some plans for exciting future posts, but I'm also coming back to the land of the blog just in time for Summer Reading Club registration at the library--our busiest time of year, and as the few weeks leading up to vacation proved (to me anyway), when I'm busy with work, my writing suffers.  Sorry about that.  I hope you can forgive me.

My laptop just told me it's dying, and the power cord is still packed, so I'll leave you with one more enticing bit of news.  I have official permission to post photos of the entire Handful now, so vacation pictures are likely. Here's one to whet your appetite.  I promise there will be some where the subjects don't look like they are barely tolerating my existence.