31 July 2009

Good-bye Ju-ly

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Today marks the end of one of the coolest July's we've ever had here in the Hoosier heartland. We've had a few days where the high temperature did not get out of the 60's. That's almost unheard of! But we've made the best of it. Our annual trip to the county fair was so windy and cool; many of us wished we had on sweatshirts; as a lot of people did. This weather is tailor made for bike riding, but not so much swimming, so we haven't frequented my mom's pool as much as we had planned. But, she got a new swing-set, so that has kept the kids entertained; and so has the sandbox. What a hit those have turned out to be.

I don't know if the cool weather has anything to do with it, but the clouds over the last couple of weeks have been simply breathtaking. Looking up in the sky during the day has been nothing short of a welcome treat for the eyes. I have found myself gazing up in awe of their spectacular beauty, so much so that I had to get my camera out and capture the moment. The picture doesn't really do it justice, but I wanted to share it nonetheless. Seeing these clouds bounding through the atmosphere has been a real delight this summer.

29 July 2009

everleavers

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"You Are the Everything", the third track off of R.E.M.'s 1988 album Green is perhaps the quintessential lullaby (as R.E.M. songs go, anyway). I started singing it to Ari when he just a baby and when he started talking, he dubbed it "everleavers"; I guess "You Are the Everything" was a bit too much to say for a one year old.

As Ari got older, he started making requests for bedtime songs, and "everleavers" sort of fell off the play list, much to my dismay. I would suggest it to him, but he would always decline and pick another song for whatever reason. I can't even remember the last time I sang it to him.

Recently, Valerie and I have been letting Ari pick who will put him to bed at night, and the other puts Emilie to bed. When I get to put Emilie to bed, I almost always sing "You Are the Everything" to her. There is just something about that song that really resonates with me and I think it is the perfect song to sing to end the day.

Sometimes I feel like I can't even sing
I'm very scared for this world, I'm very scared for me
Eviscerate your memory
Here's a scene, you're in the back seat laying down
The windows wrap around
To sound of the travel and the engine
All you hear is time stand still in travel
And feel such peace and absolute
The stillness still that doesn't end but slowly drifts into sleep
The stars are the greatest thing you've ever seen
And they're there for you
For you alone, you are the everything

I think about this world a lot and I cry
And I've seen the films and the eyes But I'm in this kitchen
Everything is beautiful and she is so beautiful
She is so young and old
I look at her and I see the beauty of the light of music
The voices talking somewhere in the house
Late spring and you're drifting off to sleep
With your teeth in your mouth
You are here with me, you are here with me
You have been here and you are everything

Sometimes I feel like I can't even sing
I'm very scared for this world, I'm very scared for me
Eviscerate your memory
Here's a scene, you're in the back seat laying down
The windows wrap around
To sound of the travel and the engine
All you hear is time stand still in travel
And feel such peace and absolute
The stillness still that doesn't end but slowly drifts into sleep
The stars are the greatest thing you've ever seen
And they're there for you
For you alone, you are the everything

26 July 2009

Mysteries of the Universe - The Dharma Initiative

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Yet another reason Lost is my favorite show. I love stuff like this!

24 July 2009

Trendsetter

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Walking through our local mega-mart the other day, I spotted a plastic patriotic hat abandoned on an end cap. No doubt left over from all of the cheap Independence Day garb, I decided to pick it up and put it on Ari's head. Thinking he would groan and take it off, he surprised me by keeping it on and wearing it for the duration of our shopping trip.

At one point, he left it behind while looking at something else. Soon, Ari realized he was without the newest item he just couldn't live without and went into panic mode. I retraced our steps and was able to recover the prized plastic hat. Before returning it to Ari, I scanned the product to find that it was only $1 (marked down from $1.50). What a bargain! I triumphantly returned the hat to Ari with it perched on my head. Yes, I got some strange looks.

So, we purchased the hat for Ari, keeping in mind that any day is a good day to be patriotic. By the time we got to our next stop, the boy had significantly crumpled the poor hat. But, we were able to pop it back into place for the most part. The hat is pretty much in shambles now, but it was fun while it lasted. After all, we really didn't expect much from the white plastic hat with a red, white, and blue paper strip with the words "Made in China" displayed on the back. How's that for patriotism?

22 July 2009

Lightning Bugs

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(photo by Daniel Schwen)
One of my favorite childhood activities was catching lightning bugs on warm summer nights. I remember the joy I had when I spotted the first lightning bugs of the season in June. It was a sign that summer was definitely here. Catching the lightning bugs are carefully putting them into jars and watching them illuminate; it just didn't get any better than that. Such friendly creatures, those little beetles, always willing to land on an outstretched hand. What a perfect way to wind down after a busy day of playing outside.

Since Indiana has administered daylight savings time, the summer sun goes down one hour later than when I was a child. This has subsequently altered the prime lightning bug viewing, and sadly; Ari has not had few chances to catch lightning bugs since he is usually in bed well before the sun goes down. The first time he saw a lightning bug was when we were in Gatlinburg last month. He was up late with us one night when we spotted them from our deck. He was able to catch a few in his hand and he was mesmerized by their glowing bodies.

As suddenly as the lighting bugs arrive, it seems that they are gone just as quickly. Rarely do I catch lighting bugs in my hand anymore. Yet, the peacefulness of sitting back and watching the yellow blinks of illumination flitter across the landscape has a such a calming beauty to it. I look forward to the days when my children are blissfully running around the yard with a jar full of lighting bugs, playfully trying to catch more.

19 July 2009

17 July 2009

It's curtains for you Ari...and a new bed!

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My dad called a couple weeks ago and asked if we wanted Stephen's bed for Ari. As I hesitated to ask what Stephen was going to sleep on, my dad informed me that Stephen was getting a new bed. Relieved that Stephen wasn't going to have to sleep on the floor, I asked my dad for the measurements and went upstairs to see if the bed would fit. To my relief, it did, and my dad said he would bring the bed to us soon.

Our bedrooms are pretty small in our house and this new bed has drawers underneath it to act as a dresser. Ari already had a bed, but this new storage option was too good to pass up, and the new bed didn't take up much more room than the old one. My dad came up last weekend with the new bed and we set it up in Ari's room. It fit well, and Ari was delighted in the fact that there were doors in the bed frame that allowed access to underneath the bed itself. His own secret hiding place! How fun!

The bed was a little bit taller than his old one and we had to position it differently in his room to allow for all the doors to function properly. This resulted in the bed going across the windows. Ari had long drapes in his room and the bed did not allow the drapes to hang unimpeded. We came to the conclusion that we would take down the drapes and put up a valance. Then, on a recent trip to Hobby Lobby, we found some Cars fabric and I decided that I would try to make the valances myself since I had Eva's sewing machine. (I hope you don't mind, Eva.)

Having never made curtains before, I looked at some of the other window treatments we had in the house to get an idea of how to make the ones for Ari's room. I don't know if I used the right technique, but I got them completed and Ari likes them; that's really all that matters anyway. I think they look pretty good, myself, and Ari's room got a quick impromptu makeover. Even after all that, he still doesn't make his bed. Kids!

16 July 2009

Back in action

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I've gone solo on my quilting project since Eva has been in France longer than she first anticipated. On Memorial Day, Katie and I got to talking about quilting and she offered me a sewing machine to use at my house so I could finish it. I politely declined because I wanted to wait for Eva to come back. I enjoyed our Thursday night quilting get-togethers as much as I liked the quilting itself, so I wanted to finish it with her. When Eva told me she had found a job in France, I decided I could not wait any more and asked Katie if the offer for the sewing machine was still on the table.

In my heart, I still wanted to wait for Eva to return, but I kept seeing my half-made quilt neatly folded in a bag in the den. It was just eating away at me; I had to complete it. I could not let it turn into a project that I would never finish and I just didn't know when Eva would be back. Katie brought the sewing machine to my house and gave me a refresher course on how to operate it. I was surprised how much I had forgotten since I last used it. Katie told me it was Eva's sewing machine I was using, and that Eva said if would be fine if I borrowed it. I tell ya, a guy couldn't ask for better cousins. You two are the best!

I have since completed the front and back of my quilt. It is almost finished! I have also had to fill the bobbin and rethread the machine a couple of times; something Eva always did for me. So I'm pleased that I'm getting more comfortable with the machine, too. I bought the batting last weekend, so all that is left is to sew all the pieces together and tie the quilt. These last few steps are making me quite nervous because I've come too far to mess up it all up now. I want to complete it all in one sitting because I don't want the batting to get discombobulated inside the quilt. I know that fear is probably irrational, but it would make me feel better to get it all done at once. I plan on sitting down and knocking it out this weekend, so stay tuned for an update on my completed quilt!

14 July 2009

Happy Anniversary Ditalini Press!

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One year ago today, the Ditalini Press blog was formed. When I first read Eva's post titled "Welcome Everyone" my adventures in blogdom began.

As Eva stated in the inaugural post, Ditalini Press is a blog consisting of a group of writers who post at regular intervals. We are given a topic at the beginning of the month and have to create something by the end of the month. There are also "mini-topics" thrown in here and there and writing related posts called Writer Bites. Also, Aunt Sue throws in some Anagram Fun posts every once in a while that are always enjoyable.

Ditalini Press gave me the motivation to start latent chestnut and I thought it appropriate to recognize the anniversary of the first post. Ditalini Press has grown in members quite a bit from the original five of us that started it, and it is still going strong. It is open to anyone and we are always looking for more writers to join the fun.

10 July 2009

Grover

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Grover was my favorite Sesame Street character when I was growing up, and he still is, for that matter. Grover is a self-described "cute, furry little monster" who has been appearing on Sesame Street since 1969. I like his personality and his willingness to help others and do the right thing. He rarely uses contractions, which really gives him a very distinct way of speaking that sets him apart from the other characters. Some of my most memorable Grover segments are Super Grover, and Near and Far.

I had a stuffed Grover doll when I was little and Angela and I would toss him up into one of our trees and throw things at him to try to get him down. It was quite fun really, and it was all out of love. I also loved the book, The Monster at the End of this Book. The book features Grover learning, to his chagrin, that there is a monster at the end of the book. He uses several ways to try to keep the reader from turning the page, like tying the pages together and building brick walls. The attempts to stop the reader fail, and to Grover's relief (spoiler alert) the monster at the end of the book turns out to be Grover himself. Classic!

I have been delighted by the fact that we have been able to get Ari and Emilie some Grover items here in the last couple of months. We already had The Monster at the End of this Book, but nothing else Grover related. We found Ari a Super Grover shirt, which is pretty cool; and we got Emilie a Grover puppet for her birthday. I think it is the only toy she has that is blue; but when I saw it, I had to get it for her. She absolutely loves it and is filled with glee every time we make the puppet "nibble" on her fingers. That Grover...what a wonderful little monster!


08 July 2009

Nerd alert! - The DHARMA Initiative Recipe Manual

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Yes, there are times when I, myself, can not deny my nerdiness. Angela wanted a binder for her birthday so she could store all of the recipes she has printed off the internet in one place. I had one such binder myself, so I wanted to give one to her as a gift, complete with page protectors to keep the pages clean. My binder was just plain black, and I wanted to do something special for her to show I put some thought into it. So, I purchased a white binder with a clear flap across the front, so I could design a cover for the recipe book.

I was diligently working away on Angela's cover when inspiration struck. Suddenly, I had a vision of Sayid pulling out a white DHARMA binder in the Lost episode "Enter 77". Then, I realized I had a high quality image of the DHARMA cafeteria logo on my computer. I put two and two together and was delighted by the fact that I could potentially make my own DHARMA binder with the cafeteria logo for my own recipes.

After I finished Angela's recipe book cover, which turned out to be quite lovely if I do say so myself; I found a screenshot of the DHARMA binder on the internet.
After I had a template to base my design on, I started working away at creating my own version complete with the cafeteria logo. I whipped it out in no time and bought my own white binder the next day. I made an insert for the front and for the spine and it couldn't have turned out better. I transferred my recipes from my old black binder to my new DHARMA one, and I can't help but smile every time I get it out to use it. I've been showing it to everyone who comes over; and upon seeing it, the look on their faces seems to confirm that I am just as big of a nerd as they thought I was, maybe bigger.

06 July 2009

Tomato update

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My tomatoes have really taken off since my last gardening update. I am really surprised how big the plants have become. Since this is my first attempt at growing my own tomatoes, I didn't really know what to expect, but I am pleased by the results so far.

I was pleasantly surprised when we returned home from vacation to see little tomatoes starting to take shape on one of the plants. Since then many more have been popping up throughout all the others. It is so much fun to see them grow and begin to produce fruit. I can't wait until harvest time! Stay tuned...

02 July 2009

The Superhero one

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Every night that I read Calvin & Hobbes to Ari before bed, he inevitably wants me to finish with "the superhero one". It is his favorite Calvin and Hobbes by far and he absolutely loves it. Every time he sees it, he looks at it as if he has never seen it before and he is elated.

Out of the thousands of Calvin and Hobbes comics that he's seen, he picks this one as his favorite. Of course he would choose the one where the parents can't really be that boring and must be living secret lives as superheroes. I'm starting to get a complex.

01 July 2009

Summer Splendor

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With summer in full swing, we have been frequenting the pool at my mom's house. There's nothing like it! I love to swim, and the kids love it too. Ari is at a good age now where he can get in the water without somebody constantly keeping a hand on him. He had really taken to the inner tube this year and moves around the pool really well in it.
Emilie has gotten used to the pool, too. She had her reservations at first, but has taken to it really well. I love getting in the water and I spent many a summer practically living in that pool. It is such a nice way to relax and just have fun. And to think, the summer is just getting started!

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