Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Death of a Blog

I just recently made my first ever blog book.  It is beautiful and I am in love with it.  All 160 pages of it.  I probably would have made it longer even though it would have cost a small fortune, but 160 was Picaboo's page limit.  So, I have a book that covers my blog through 2010.  I guess I'll have to start working on the next installment one of these days.

In honor of this momentous publishing debut, I decided to design a cover for the book.  Now that it's many weeks later, I finally got around to adapting the cover design for my blog header.  That was always the plan, I was just slow in getting to it. 

In ironic celebration of my redesign, I got a nice little pop up message telling me that I had reached the limit of my photo storage for my blog. 

What?! Didn't even know there was such a thing. Turns out that every photo I upload is stored in a Picasa album. Which is now full.

But really, it's mostly Google's fault in the first place.  They make it so hard to do a relatively simple thing like change your blog header.  Even though I specifically designed this new one to be EXACTLY the same size and shape as the old one, it always looked smushed or stretched or off-center or something.

I was hating Google for stealing my evening and half of my sleep.  And for sending me searching all over the web for directions on how to change the html code to make my new header fit right.  I don't want to mess with html.  I'd rather just leave it alone.  And vice versa.

And then I learned that Picasa saves every single photo that gets sent to my blog.  They don't delete the photos I delete from my blog.  So now they have approximately 27 copies of various versions of my new header in a Picasa album that I didn't even know existed.  Curse them.

  I don't remember agreeing to let them store my photos (which I realize may not be their fault). And I can't figure out how to find out if my album is private. I do NOT want it public. I do NOT want people to be able to download my photos willy nilly. I went through a lot of effort figuring out how to remove that feature from my blog.

I feel a tremendous sense of relief having this blog book in my hands.  I am not naive enough to believe that blogger will last forever.  That they have my best interests at heart.  I certainly don't trust Google enough to give them sole stewardship over my family memories. 

So, in an attempt to stall the death of my free blog, I started deleting photos.  Which caused some unintended changes to past blog posts.  And then I started deleting whole posts.  And I found myself wondering if it's really worth all this effort to postpone the inevitable, wondering if I shouldn't just use my blogging time to return to scrapbooking.  To preserve my family memories the way I want to, a method that doesn't force me to work with big, corporate vultures or html.  A method that puts those memories in my hands and my home, right where they belong.

I am irritated.  As if you couldn't tell.  Google/Picasa/BigCorporateVulture is nice enough to offer more photo storage. . . for a price.  FIVE WHOLE DOLLARS!  A year.  Ok, Ok.  That's peanuts, right?  Well, right.  It's the principle that rubs me the wrong way.  Because suddenly free blogging isn't free anymore.

My frenzy of deletions may have bought me a week, or a month.  Probably not much more than that with the volume of pictures I post.  Curse Google.  Curse Picasa.  They killed my blog.  Because either my free blog ends, or my blog ends.  Period.

Decisions, decisions . . .

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Aid

This is how we learn first aid at our house.  Shaggy apparently had quite the serious head gash which required the bandana to also cover his eyes.  Along with some baby sunglasses.  And that's the coziest, flannel sling ever.
And this is what he looked like when they were all done with him.  Cute as a button and all wrapped up.  I sure hope they learned a thing or two amidst all the fun they were having dressing up Daddy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Meanest Family on the Planet

Poor little B is currently living with the meanest family on the planet.  Because there is so very much that we will not let her do.  The things that she most desperately wants to do.  This is a developmental stage also known as toddlerhood (and perhaps later as adolescence).

We won't let her play with scissors.  We won't let her open the knife drawer to satisfy her curiousity about what's inside.  We won't let her grab the glass dishes and toss them into the sink.  Or onto the floor.  Or wherever else her little arm can fling them. 

We won't let her eat dog food (at least not when we're aware that she is trying).  We won't let her drink the dog water with a stray straw she has found.  We won't let her drink the bathwater by the cup full.  We won't let her climb on the dishwasher lid so she can reach into the sink to scoop up the rinse water from the brownie batter which is swimming with chocolate and salmonilla.  Though she routinely climbs on the dishwasher lid to commit other less serious infractions. 

We heavily discourage her from eating off the floor like a dog.  And from scribbling on her siblings homework.  And from dumping her Daddy's chocolate protein shake all over the carpet.  And from squirming her way off the changing table. 

We don't let her flush the toilet three times, though she usually gets away with two when someone leaves the bathroom door open.  We don't let her stand on the toilet and turn on the hot water full blast, even though she's demonstrated that she's quite capable of doing so.  We don't let her rifle through the bathroom drawers to find the clippers and the lip balm and the floss which are irresistably fascinating.
We won't let her escape out the front door to run around unattended.  We won't let her sit in the doggie wading pool in the backyard.  We won't let her wander around in the hazard filled garage without supervision. 

We don't let her have Shaggy's work phone to call up his colleagues to say, "Dada, hi!"  We don't let her access the computer to make changes to our desktop that we're not sure how to fix.  But she does this one anyway.

But these are some of the things that we let her get away with, just because we're exhausted and it doesn't offer any imminent bodily harm.  Emptying out the box of sandwich bags.  Taking all the new, unsharpened pencils out of the desk drawer and walking around the house with them, scattering them behind her like a trail of bread crumbs.  Resetting J's alarm clock.  Dumping out the toy bucket.  Walking around with an open box of cereal.  Dancing on the kitchen table when our arms are nearby to catch her if she falls.  Playing in the relatively clean sink.  Putting the paper clips in and out, in and out, under a watchful eye.  Wandering around in the backyard without parental supervision, only sibling supervision--siblings who are remarkably good at raising the alarm.  "BABY ALERT!!  BABY ALERT!!"
 We hear this baby alert much more often than we'd like.  But we appreciate having so many alarmists around.  They have been responsible for B's rescue from many a tricky, and sticky (very, very sticky), situation.

 So, even though we may well be the meanest family on the planet, we sure love this little bundle of trouble that's been sent our way. And we hope to be able to keep her safe for many a year to come.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Meet Lisa

We occasionally acquire an unexpected house guest. Her name is Lisa and she looks uncannily like R. She always shows up out of the blue and simply announces her presence. Oddly enough, her visits line up exactly with R's trips to visit her family. They just switch places on a whim. Lisa is a very interesting little girl. 

Sometimes she's 9 and she shows up on her birthday. So naturally, we make her cupcakes to celebrate. 
She had a little too much fun with the sprinkles which ended up all over the table and then in her lunch.  She declared this PB&J the best one ever.

But lately, Lisa has been four. And she loves to stage photo ops for me.
She also loves horses, so her mom bought three for her. Naturally. I can understand why R might like to visit a home like that.

Lisa has a rather adventurous past. The details seem quite fluid, like this past is always changing. Or maybe, Lisa has such an amazingly full and rich history that she is only giving us tiny glimpses into her world. Here is her story, in her own words.

I'm Lisa. I'm three, I mean (looking at her fingers). . . I'm one, two, three, four. I'm four. I came to visit because R is gone to visit my family. In my family, I have one sister and three brothers. They're all named Lisa, too. Lots of things are named Lisa in my family. My mom and dad just work on the mountain sometimes. I'm going to visit you for 9 days and R is gonna stay for 9 days. I wanted to come visit you and my mom said yes. The clothes here fit me because I'm one, two, three, four. I'm 4. I'm R's age.

I was asleep and I heard someone knocking on the door. And then it came in and it stole my sword. And . . . umm, then I slipped it from the bad guys hand. And then the bad guy slipped it from my hand. And then I slipped it from the bad guys hand. And that part is over.

And then lots of bad guys came to our house and put it on fire. And then my whole family just went out and then went in. They went out for lots of minutes 'cuz the firemans was gonna come and then . . . ummm . . . and then we went back in the house. And then the fireman saw somebody's else house was burning so they went to their house but they didn't do it in time and it started burning down. My house was all broken inside and we called the fireman to come and fix it and they came in time and then the bad guys came and put it on fire. The bad guys want it on fire forever. And then the fireman fixed everything in our house. And then we got our swords out and made the bad guys go to jail.

And then we went in the backyard because we all wanted to check the baby tigers and then we let them out because the dog was in the house. And then we went back in and just my sister and me went out to play with the tigers. We were running around with all the baby tigers. And then we were running around in the grass with the baby tigers and the mom and dad tigers. And then my whole family came out and we wanted to run around the mountains with the tigers. And then we saw the bad guys came again. And then the bad guys went back in jail 'cuz they wanted to and they saw the baby tigers. There's this robot tiger in there and the bad guys thought it was real and they took it home. Then the bad guys went in the good guy's jail again. And then something like music started to turn on and they looked everywhere in the world to find that music and they saw a mountain moving back and forth and the bad guys were working the mountain that was moving and they were working the music. The bad guys wanted to have the whole world to steal all the jewels in the world. The music, like, makes all the people in the world think it's a ghost doing everything but it's the bad guys. One bad guy is making everything work so the good guys don't come. And then they got all the jewels. And then the good guys came back and they stole all the jewels and they put the bad guys in jail and they locked it super hard.

And then our family just, like, went out for a walk to find some jewels and then the good guys came and gave the jewels to our family because there were millions of jewels in the city and the mountains. Just a little bit more. And then we found lots of things and the bad guys tried to get out but they couldn't. The end. Nothing else.
Lisa is welcome in our home anytime, though we do miss R when she's gone.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Leap Day

We started a little tradition the last time leap day rolled around, waaaay back in 2008.  Everybody had to answer some questions about themselves and make some predictions about the next leap day.

Simple things like best friends, favorite colors, where we would be living, goals, hobbies, etc.  It was really fun to read what everybody had written so long ago.  And look at the pictures I stuck in the envelope.  This year, we also had the kids draw self portraits.  That's what they're working so intently on as B is doing the naked pencil dance in the middle of the table.  She's sort of disruptive like that.

But next leap day, she will be in kindergarten.  And K will be finishing up her senior year in high school.  Crazy thought!

Happy Birthday to Me

This is a portrait of me . . . in frosting.  Just in case you couldn't tell.

My children apparently think I am turning gray.  They would know since they would be the cause.

I gave my crew the challenge of making me a birthday cake this year.  Usually, I don't get a cake.  And usually, I'm fine with that and we have some other delectables.  But this year, darn it, I wanted a cake!  Mostly, I was curious to see what Shaggy and the girls would come up with.  But I also wanted to see what it would be like to eat a cake without being responsible for the tremendous mess it left in the kitchen.  I was not disappointed in either respect.
Everybody helped a little bit, even if it was only to help themselves to little fingers full of frosting.  But the brains behind the operation were K and S.  Initially, they both wanted to make a camera cake.  I can't imaging why.  But the idea was vetoed because it seemed too hard.  I can relate to that, let me tell you.  There are some craaazy cake decorators out there.  And I am not among them, just in case you couldn't tell.

S was super excited about creating this cake.  She was itching to begin decorating it days before it was even made.  It was strange being on the other side of that, but very fun to witness.  It was also interesting how adamant K and S were about keeping me out of the kitchen.  Something to which I had absolutely no objections.
The cake is the spitting image of me, I dare say.  I just needed to go find my candy necklace to put on.  But best of all, we got to eat me after we took this pic.  I'll be the first to admit that I was pretty tasty.

It was a memorable birthday even if my kids had to keep correcting me when I was talking about how old I am.  And Shaggy gave me the best present ever.  I love to try to figure out ahead of time what someone is giving me.  But this one remained a complete mystery until I opened it.  A new camcorder--to replace the dinosaur we have been using for the last 13 years.  Which can't hold a charge.  And whose microphone broke.  And whose tapes are crazy expensive and very hard to find.  Yeah, it was time for an upgrade.  It sure would have come in handy for our movie makin' a couple weeks back, but I am so excited to have it.  It is so deliciously small, it blows me away.  And the features, and the touch screen . . .!  I may even have to set aside my beloved camera to capture more video footage because this baby is going to be fun to use.  Three cheers for new technology!!

And four cheers for my budding cake decorators who have a very fond place in my heart, which is swimming with flowers and butterflies.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Head Shots

Glamour shots are apparently not called glamour shots anymore.  Because when I was surfing around online trying to get some inspiration for how to take these photos for K's invitation, 'glamour shots' only led me to some horrid 80's photos with ginormous hair.  So, these are apparently called head shots now.  I've got to get with the times.

These pictures were surprisingly fun to take.  Mainly because neither of us knew what we were doing.  I would tell K to look intense, or fierce, or scared.  She'd say, "I don't know how to look intense!" and then make some odd expression which would make me laugh.  She'd run over to see the shot and then we'd both be laughing.  This happened over and over again as I tried to get the perfect look.  A look which I didn't quite have an image of in my mind, but I knew that I would recognize it when I saw it.
Like this.  Determined.  Tough
Vigilant.  Cautious.
Scared.  Shocked.
And here we are with intense.
And yes, fierce.  She figured out how to look that way, after all.  Of course, the machete helps with that, too.
Oh, and the wind in the hair shots were their own kind of fun.  We made S come outside and hold a fan up.  Sometimes she got a little too close and my picture would mostly be fan, with just a little of K behind it.  At first S was grumpy about her assigned chore.  But before long we were all laughing at the craziness of it and the odd faces K would make.  I'm sure the neighbors thought we were really crazy.  We were in the front yard, naturally.  Had to follow the good light.  Ah, good times with my girlies.  High drama at its best.  With way too many photos to help us remember.

But speaking of drama, we had a little teenage drama here the other night.  K emerged from the bathroom in tears.  I felt bad that I had gotten huffy at her just before this because she was acting somewhat ungrateful for the running clothes her dad had just bought for her.  Because he couldn't keep the little detail about them being boys clothes to himself.  Of course it doesn't matter, track pants are track pants.  But she is in that precarious place where she must find the difference between her self-esteem and the esteem of others.  This is where she learns that her worth has nothing to do with what others think of her.  That it's ok for her not to look like, act like, be like the crowd.  That she is beautiful, inside and out, no matter what she wears.

But as we sat and talked with her, we realized that the track pants were only the pebble that started the landslide.  Track is hard.  And it hurts when she runs.  And we realized that this is the first thing she has ever done in her life that is truly hard for her.  Of course she has put lots of time and effort into a variety of things.  But none of them have been tough like this.  It's never been hard for her to get good grades.  It wasn't a struggle to learn to play the clarinet.  She put in a lot of hours with swimming, but it wasn't TOUGH.  Not like track is TOUGH. 

I think this is where some parents choose the easy route.  Because it is heart wrenching to see your child struggling, and in pain.  And the easy out would just be to let her quit.  But as hard as it is to watch her struggle with this, it is more important for us to teach her to go the distance.  To tough it out.  To move through these obstacles.  And emerge victorious.  Victorious not because she has miraculously morphed into a track star, but because she triumphed over all those nagging doubts & insecurities; all those aches & pains.

She hasn't yet learned how strong she is.  She hasn't discovered that bottomless well of willpower that lies somewhere deep within her.  She doesn't know that she is tougher than her pain and her doubts.  That she is stronger than her muscles and joints.  She has yet to discover these things.  And the only way for her to do that is to stick with the tough stuff.
I want this girl's teenage years to be filled with beauty, laughter, friendship, and love.  But I also want her to experience doubt, pain, heartache, and fatigue.  I don't want everything to be easy for her.  I want her to grow and stretch and feel uncomfortable and get to that point where she starts to think that maybe she CAN'T do something.  Because that is when she will discover her strength; discover that she can rise above it and still move forward.

I love this girl.  And I know she is strong.  I can see the strength as it lies dormant within her, waiting for the storms of life to awaken it.  And I will be here with this family, surrounding her, ready to buoy her up just in case the flood waters get too deep.
 And sometimes, we will make her brownies so that she can see AND taste just how much love surrounds her.

Love Fest

 I was lucky enough to be surrounded by all this love for most of February.  We had a heart attack session one Sunday afternoon and plastered the hearts all over the cupboards.  Everybody wrote down what they loved about everyone else in the family.  I'm fairly certain that this will be a new Valentine's tradition.
 We had our usual little family party for the big day.  Yes, R is wearing pajamas.  She had a pajama Valentine party at preschool.  What's the point, really, of making her get dressed once she gets home from school?
 These chocolate roses had the distinction of being the worst chocolate I have ever had.  Something I remarked on as we were sitting around eating them.  My kids thought I was being rude.  But I reminded them that since I had purchased them, it was ok for me to share my honest feelings about their quality.  Which helped them to feel free to agree that they were, indeed, the worst chocolate any of us had ever had.  But they will at least be remembered.
 My littlest valentine had fun delivering balloon bouquets in the backyard.  Then J and R came along and set two of them free.  On accident.  We had some serious drama because of that.  And the balloons just didn't make such a great bouquet after that, but they were fun to play with until they deflated, got stabbed and thrown away.  Such an ugly fate.
I bought the flowers, too.  And while they were not the worst flowers I've seen, they certainly didn't last very long.  They weren't quite "magic roses" like they told me at the store.  But their stripes did look cool.
And with all my photo obsessions, I failed to make one of my kids take a shot of me with my true valentine.  Who didn't buy me flowers.  Or chocolate.  But who gave me the gift of music.  Really, he gave me some cd's, which I love.  Not mainstream Valentine gifts, I suppose.  But he's not a mainstream kind of guy.  He's an extraordinary one.  And I am so lucky to be his girl.

And maybe I'm not all that mainstream either, since I bought him a fishing license for Valentines Day.  According to him, that moves me way up on the list of cool wives.  And I'm totally cool with that.