Monday, November 24, 2014

God Bless Us, Every One

Last Thursday morning I was on my way out the door when I got a phone call from the school that Bridget was hurt and wanted me to come pick her up. I asked what happened and the receptionists were vague - she hurt the back of her leg, something, something, monkey bars. It flashed into my mind that time I made her go to school when her collar bone was broken, so I changed my plans and picked her up. Poor thing was sitting in the office, tears streaming down her face, her legs up on a chair. The second thing I noticed was her ankle was the size of a golf ball. (Thanks for the diagnosis, ladies at the front desk!)
This photo was taken this morning. Bridget has been such a trooper. We spent all afternoon on Thursday at the doctor, then at the hospital getting X-rays, then back to the doctor to get a boot. It took us until Saturday to find crutches the right size for her. They are small. Tiny Tim small.
Bridget has a smile on her face most of the time. She likes the attention :), but I've found her whimpering in her sleep and I think she's already getting bored. It's going to be a long four weeks. At least she won't miss out on ski season, though. We can be GLAD of that. I think we should hang on to those crutches - they're rentals.
In other big news, the boys got haircuts. We're testing out a new style on Colin. I think it suits him. 
Emil put on the Lightning McQueen boot for this photo. The better to feel Bridget's pain. Emil and Colin have been sweet to bring Bridget stuff and not wrestle near her broken ankle. Awww.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Bunk Beds

The boys are finally in real beds. It's a happy day. As I was walking Emil to preschool (from the parking lot) I told him he should tell Miss Kerry about his new bunk beds. "I show her a picture!" I didn't have my camera and I didn't have any photos of the bunk beds on my phone. When I told Emil that he said, "I take a picture on the iPod." It was true! He had taken a picture of himself on his new bunk bed. Hahahahahaha! 
Colin keeps saying, "I WUB DAT! I WUB DAT BUNK BED!" The two of them have been sleeping in more now that they're warm enough. 
Also, we tended little Zack a week or so ago and I was very surprised at Emil's reaction. Lauren came too and she and Colin were off most of the time playing, but Emil stuck around to see if he could make Zack happy. Interesting! Just like when Emil anticipates what I need when I'm cooking, he could anticipate what Zack needed.
Lauren and Colin were more about bringing the noise and the photo shoot action. I don't know if you can tell from this picture, but Emil shooshed them a lot.

Monday, November 10, 2014

October 2014 Book Reports

1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

I listened to Gone with the Wind narrated by Linda Stephens during two weeks in October. Forty-seven hours! I thought it would take at least the whole month, but I became obsessed. I listened to this book in the car during all my carpooling, while I was watching the boys at Itty Bitty Football, while I cooked and cleaned, during my baths, and for an hour or so at bedtime. There was a road trip to Pocatello in there, too. Anyway! Obsessed. Linda Stephens was remarkable. The accents, the different voices - all amazing. 

Let's get one thing out of the way, Gone with the Wind is not great literature. But! The story is consuming. We all know it, right? I thought I did. I was shocked (shocked!) at the overt racism. I cringed many, many times. How can anyone talk like that?! How can anyone even think like that?! The thing is, this is the life they (privileged white people) knew - negro slaves were property, but also intimate family members. I do not get it. This is essentially a love story, so all the slaves were in the background, just a normal part of everyday life. I watched a documentary on Margaret Mitchell in which they told the story of her leaving a college class because there was a black woman in the class. She wrote to her mother that she knew that none of those Yankees had ever nursed a black person or cared for a black person. Both the Southerners and the Yankees were racist in different ways based on what they knew. Nobody wins here. It's all very ugly. Moving on...

Reading Gone with the Wind made me realize that I've really only read the Yankee perspective on the Civil War.  Scarlett O'Hara is an anti-hero - she reminded me several times of Don Draper from Mad Men. I rooted for her to wake up and realize that she didn't really love Ashley and she did love Rhett and that Melanie was her best friend and champion. Scarlett was a horrible person. She always did the unethical, disloyal thing. Every single time. She also survived when so many others in her situation could not figure out how to. The thing is that Melanie Wilkes also survived (thanks to Scarlett a few times), but she was always decent, always good. And Rhett Butler is such a great character. He always saw the war for what it was and he took advantage. He could never stop himself from holding up the mirror to all the Southern "gentleman" so they could see what was really happening. (They didn't see, though, they just hated Rhett for saying things.)

Gone with the Wind is part of the American story now, so I don't need to summarize it. I can see why it was such a big deal. Margaret Mitchell was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, sitting on the porch listening to the old people tell stories about Civil War battles and plantations getting burned to the ground and starvation and the Ku Klux Klan. (One of the most disturbing aspects of this book is the sympathy toward the KKK. Nope.) Mitchell said she was about 10 years old before she found out they'd lost the war. The way of life that the Southern "aristocracy" (which is really what they were - there was more venom for Poor White Trash and Crackers than negro slaves in Gone with the Wind) enjoyed is gone forever. For continuing the traditions of their fathers and not seeing slavery as an abomination (again, how could they not?!) the plantation owners lost everything. A generation of men, their land, their self-respect, their homes. All of it. Having their story told from their own perspective in Gone with the Wind must have seemed like a victory for sure, late though it was. (The book came out in the late 1930s.)

So if you've only seen the movie, I highly recommend listening to the book. (Notice I didn't say "read" the book. Ain't nobody got time for that!) I wanted to immerse myself - I watched that documentary on Margaret Mitchell and I watched the movie and I read about the movie. That led to a brief obsession with Clark Gable. I've always thought his ears were too big. They are, but hubbahubbazingzing! That is a handsome man, y'all. And Vivien Leigh! Ahhh. It's all so grand and glamorous. Then I stopped myself and felt grateful that I can read about such a time, but live in a world where Hattie McDaniel (the woman who plays Mammy in the movie) would get to come to the premiere and stay in the same hotel as white people. For real.

2. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This is one of the books on the Battle of the Books list and Bridget has decided to participate in the battle, so we read it. It's the story of Ivan, a Silverback gorilla who was kidnapped from his home in Africa and brought to the United States. A man named Mack makes Ivan the headliner in his mall/circus show. Ivan is an artist. He has other animal friends who live in the mall, too. My favorite of Ivan's friends is a mutt named Bob. Bob is scrappy and wary of humans and their motives. Bob is also very sarcastic. Ivan is also friends with a young girl, Julia, whose father works at the mall. Julia is also an artist.

Ivan decides to save baby Ruby (an elephant) from a life as a circus animal. He has to communicate with the right people and make them understand what he wants without using words. The whole book is told from Ivan's perspective. Some of it is very much like poetry. 

Bridget and I really enjoyed reading The One and Only Ivan. Some of the chapters were a little too abstract for Bridget, but she understood what was going on. We both especially liked the happy ending.

3. Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini

Bob: What happened in college that I was never exposed to the wondrous style of Raphael Sabatini? He seems to transform the English language into something rich with meaning and overflowing with precision and humor. Here is an example: “He was beginning to torture his mind with conjecture, when the door opened, and to Don Diego’s increasing mystification he beheld his best suit of clothes step into the cabin.” 

One of the more intriguing aspects of the novel is the continuing conqueror motif. Peter Blood, innocent doctor wrongfully enslaved becomes Don Pedro Sangre, who becomes Captain Blood, who becomes an officer first in the British and then the French Navy, who becomes Deputy Governor of Jamaica. He takes over one ship and renames it after the girl of his dreams and keeps taking over ships and captains and treasures until at last he and the girl of his dreams work out their differences. 

This too, the working out of differences, is so very well done. They meet, they squabble, they love each other but the timing’s a little off. Then, she’s gone from the story line and we’re left to say, “What happened to the girl?” We know, because no one would publish a novel where the hero doesn’t get the girl, that she will reappear eventually. And, the story line is so compelling that we resist the temptation to read ahead to find out how it ends. 

The absolute confidence possessed by Captain Blood is never overstated. It’s treasured and anticipated from the first chapter. This is a man in control of his destiny even when it appears that he has lost control. He is a man’s man – educated, skilled in medicine, martial arts, languages, personnel management, sea tactics; but, alas, not in love. This love affair seems thrown in for interest. Who would care about a novel without a pretty woman who was part of the story line? It’s too true that I would probably have put the darned thing down were there not a woman involved, but the lovely Arabella is little more than window dressing when all is said and done. 

The other thing that is so refreshingly wonderful is the moral use of language. Sabatini makes inferential references to vulgar statements without actually printing them. He is an educated man after all, and can communicate the strongest feelings of the human heart without descending into language of the gutter for the sake of realism, shock or sensationalism. 

While the book might claim to be a thinly veiled attack on the evils of slavery, there seems to be no hesitation to place the Negro in a position of slavery and servitude which would have been culturally acceptable to the average English language reader of Sabatini’s day. References to blacks in this novel are never other than those incidental scenes where slaves or servants of necessity would be mentioned. This is perhaps the glaring unfavorable light that caused me to wince when the unfortunate servants were inserted into a scene. 

Captain Blood is swashbuckling at its best, language at its best, story line at its best, and detail at its best. It is not laden with the philosophy of the author à la Victor Hugo or Mark Twain. It is simply a fine story well told. And, for that, I will read it again.

Nicole: This is my second Sabatini book and I look forward to another one. The heroes are thoroughly heroes - I knew Peter Blood would never take advantage of anyone, he would save the underdog, he would conquer the villain, and he would get the girl. I agree with Dad, the language is sublime. And no vulgarity. It's a story with pirates and tortured slaves and Spanish marauders and it's still not vulgar. See?! It can be done.

I thought the love story was underdeveloped. It was nice that Arabella was a strong-willed tom-boyish kind of girl, but a little more interaction between the two of them would have gone a long way toward the eventual resolution of that plot line.  The villains were fantastic! So evil. I looked forward to them getting what was theirs before the book was over.

Thanks for bringing up the normalcy of the black slaves versus the injustice of white men being slaves, Dad. They didn't see it, did they? Remarkable. 

I definitely appreciate Sabatini keeping this about the story. So well done.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Mystery of Velma's Disappearance

"Looks like we've got another mystery on our hands, gang." 

Back in about July I had an idea for the kids' costumes for Halloween (I've said before that it's usually many months before that I'm stoked about a holiday). Then last month I noticed that Emil and Colin were watching "Scooby-Doo" on Netflix and cheering during the song at the beginning. And Colin says it "Gooby-Doo," which is pretty much the most adorable thing ever. Hey! Those guys have very iconic outfits and they're basically regular clothes. No Halloween Miracles this year, though. I started watching episodes with the boys and we even checked out a few movies from the library. I made Bridget's dress (with A LOT of help from my kind and true friend, Brittany) and scarf (really I just cut it out and Brittany serged it up for me). I found tights that would work, then I found perfect tights. On my way out of Walmart after having bought Emil's blue collared shirt (the fifth place I looked) I saw a $5 magnifying glass in the eye doctor place inside Walmart. White sweaters, size 4T do not exist, so Emil's wearing a waffle shirt. I made his neckerchief. :) Colin is wearing a homemade (by Brittany) V-neck shirt (which also doesn't exist in any stores) and $5 corduroy pants. And don't forget Scooby-Doo! Six dollars on Amazon. Oh, and the mask Fred has just pulled off the bad guy is from Micah's house. So, expensive, time-consuming, at times frustrating, BUT every time I saw them I smiled. All three kids really got into character and had so much fun. It was worth it. And now we have photos to help us remember that Mom was awesome one year for Halloween. 
Bridget is ready for Halloween at school. Notice purple nail polish. I was on a roll, you guys.
I was kind of sad to see her go because I just wanted to look at her all day. :) Best Daphne ever! And I've looked at a lot of Daphnes on the internet. Some of those women are not pulling this look off at all.
Fred. Before we put on the neckerchief he was just Emil. That neckerchief is his whole costume. Ha!
Both boys had Halloween parties at preschool on the 30th. They were pretty much at the same time. I spent half of my time at Emil's and the other half at Colin's. Easy Peasy. Lemon Squeezy.
That kid in the yellow shirt went as Guy Who Couldn't Get His Costume Off Fast Enough To Go Potty. (There was a Spiderman costume draped over the hand rail in front of Emil's preschool trailer.)
It's a V-neck T-shirt. But! When I put it on, Colin giggled and asked, "I turn Shaggy now?" Yes! You're Shaggy! "No, I Cahnin." :) I even caught him running like Shaggy a few times yesterday. Arms flailing - feet all over the place. Hilarious!
Here we are at Colin's party. He's sitting by his buddy, Luke. They saw each other while trick-or-treating last night and Luke called out, "Hey, Colin! Happy Halloween!" And Colin answered, "Hey, Luke! Thanks!" Yeah. :)
After I'd finished binding a quilt for Rob and Claire's sweet baby, Moira, we picked Bridget up from school and drove around the corner to my previously scouted location for a few photos. I'm not going to go to all that trouble with costumes and not have time for photos. Come on!

Thanks, creepy house and lot so close to the grade school! See ya next year.

Time to meet Moira!
So sweet. And quiet! Even her cry is delicate. She's snuggled in the quilt I finished a few minutes before we drove to their house. :)
We were late to trick-or-treat at Daddy's (and Uncle Rob's) work, so the kids mostly got Tootsie Rolls. Ian is a monkey. See the tail? :) Also, check out Bridget's trick-or-treat bag. I made that.Awesome Mom, Halloween 2014.
Time for Grandma and Grandpa's house!
Spiderman joined the Scooby-Doo Gang. (When Nate came in he said, "Hello. How are you." Very formal. Hahaha!)
Grandpa gave out Pez dispensers. (Grandma is still recovering from knee surgery.)
Nate's pose totally reminds me of Spiderman. Hahahahaha! Not really. Kids in costumes delight me so much.
After Grandma's we high-tailed it to the Ward party and Trunk-n-Treat. We missed the costume judging, but a discerning friend assured me the kids would have won a prize. :) No photos because, as always, we were trying to keep the boys in the room and then keep them close out in the dark parking lot. Sigh. We went to a few houses to trick-or-treat, then I walked around the neighborhood with the kids while they trick-or-treated. Colin was a champion! After each house he'd run to the next yelling, "Let's go different house!" :) Emil was wishing everyone "Happy Halloween." They were adorable.

Oh, Thursday night we carved pumpkins. I wouldn't mention it, but there are a couple of pictures that would go to waste if I didn't.

In conclusion, my plan worked. Because all my plans work. And because...I'M VELMA! Hahaha! She would totally be reading a book instead of having fun at a Halloween party in a costume. Me.

Friday, October 24, 2014

One Last Walk in the Gardens

Kristi, Rachelle and I took our kids to the big gardens at Thanksgiving Point on Monday when they didn't have school. It was pretty much the most beautiful day in history. The boys (all six of them) made up games and walked through every puddle while the girls (Bridget and Clara) spied on them and whispered to each other. Remember how I used to take Bridget to the gardens all the time? Yeah. The boys are getting gypped.
 Before the gardens, though, we visited Daddy at work and ate lunch with him. Notice his hunting beard.
Have you ever seen six little boys running through a magnificent rose garden? Pretty funny.
I've never seen this rose garden in full bloom like it was on Monday. It smelled so good! 
Henry, Eddie, Connor, Emil, Colin, and Weston.
They've added this glass sculpture since my last visit.
Colin got left behind on one of the million laps around the fountain stairs. Three seconds later he was up and running with a huge smile on his face. It ain't easy, people.
Isn't that beautiful? If only our kids didn't run through this kind of scenery.
Who is missing? Who else, Emil B. I took about ten of these pictures and Clara was looking down in all of them. Ah well. The boys look cool.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Colin's Farm

Brian was hunting last week during the kids' fall break. Since I wanted the kids to sleep at night, I needed to come up with something for us to do. I decided to brave whatever crowd might be at Evans' Farm. "My farm?" Colin asked. Once I answered yes to that question, Emil and Bridget started calling it Colin's Farm. Ha!
The fates smiled on me and we had the farm almost to ourselves!
Colin introduced his brother and sister to the hay bale maze and he zipped through it. I congratulated him at the exit and teased Bridget that he was already out. Hahaha! She gave me the funniest competitive look.
These next photos are a window into Colin's world. He is a highly skilled ninja in this world. 
Can you even stand it?! Bridget and I were reminiscing about his Robot Dance at the Lion House and the two of us laughed hysterically.
Lately when Bridget gets herself ready she wears short pants and long socks. Hmmm. Knickers?
Super strong on top of the haystacks. Emil's preschool teacher told me that during Talking Time last week he told her a crazy story about his dog Pedro and all the naughty stuff Pedro does. Miss Kerry turned to Gus and gave him a questioning look. Gus shook his head no and Emil started laughing. Funny Mo.
I just liked this one.
He's trying so hard not to smile. They rode the train three times. 
The boys kept acting like they wanted to go into the six acre corn maze. Uh, no. We'll just take a photo at the entrance.
They weren't doing hay rides, but I asked if we could sit on the tractor for a photo. 
Where is our pumpkin? After a while in this pumpkin patch Bridget said, "There isn't a price tag on any of these pumpkins!"
There it is!

After the farm I took the kids to Costco for lunch, then we got a few groceries at Costco. Sweaty business. While Bridget was eating her hot dog and the boys were not eating pizza and crawling around the greasy tables, she asked, "What are we doing tomorrow?" Nothing. We're doing nothing tomorrow.