Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Spring Card

My friend and stamp teacher, Cheryl (here's an an example of her work), challenged her group this past month to make a spring card using a theme of circles. Here was mine.

I made the flower a while ago so it was time to get it onto a card. I used a resist technique to create raised circles on the pink background circle of paper, but the effort doesn't show much (here's an example and video that shows a much more dramatic result). In person it shows more that the main areas of that pink circle paper are slightly lighter and sparkly. One thing I like about this card is that green raffia, partly because of the color but partly because was a bit of trash off something else - that kind of reuse makes me happy.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Al Fresco

This was one of those evenings that looks delightful on paper. Steaks on the grill, beautiful weather, everyone out on the picnic table, even flowers my son picked out for me for no occasion. It should have been the perfect outdoor dinner, right? Do you think I'll look back at this picture in a couple of years and remember it that way?

Because right now, all I am thinking is how James refused to put my steak on later than his and I didn't like how it was cooked but couldn't define why and how I set the bread on fire under the broiler and how I hid the strawberries so that Sammy would eat some real food but then James un-hid them so that Sammy spent the entire meal refusing to eat food and whining for strawberries and nobody liked my roasted corn and black bean salad but me and Zack refused to smile for the first eight pictures and... you get the idea.

Maybe we should try again. After we've built up our energies, maybe.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Train Cake

Lately I've been feeling really desperate to write, but then for some reason I haven't been writing here. Instead I've been moping around about how I don't have any good ideas for writing fiction (yes, I know the real answer is to just start putting words on the page. sigh.).

So, I started looking back through my pictures for stuff I might post about and realized I hadn't shown Sammy's train-shaped birthday cake. This cake turned out cute but it was not easy. I was rather frustrated with the quality of my work while I was frosting it. Of course later, the imperfections of the little icing stars don't show at all. I even had trouble with them not sticking to the side of the cake. I was in a hurry, though, so I just powered through and now I'm glad I did because the difference wouldn't have shown anyway.

The engine was a Wilton pan borrowed from a friend (thanks!). The little coal car and flatbed cars were made of the extra cake batter that didn't fit in the train pan. I put it in a mini-loaf pan and then cut the top third off the resulting cake so that I'd have two cars. Oreos for wheels and crushed oreos for coal and voila! Let's pretend it was all so easy!

At least Sammy was really excited about his "choo choo happy bir-day cake". That made it worth all the trouble.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hold off a little longer, green!

That's something I never expected to say! As much as I believe the desert is beautiful, I usually put green and growing at the top of my list of what is valuable in landscape. But that was before I lived somewhere with redbud trees. These are such jewels in the already lovely landscape of Austin. They burst into bloom in the earliest part of spring and last a beautifully long time. But my favorite thing about them is the seeming determination in the way the flowers emerge directly from the trunk.

It has been more than a week since the bradford pear tree, already covered in new leaves, lost its flowers in a sudden and highly localized snowfall of white petals. I want the redbud's green to wait as long as possible before it covers the fuchsia flowers.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo

James took a day off work, just for a little break, and we decided to check out the Rodeo. When I was a kid in Arizona we got "Rodeo Weekend" off of school - two days at the end of February. We never actually went to the rodeo, though - we went skiing. If only that had been an option for us this year! Still, we had a fun day together.

Zack selected his own outfit and he fit right in. We alternated between a few scheduled events and the kids tent. Nothing was blow-you-away-fabulous, but it was fun. We saw the puppet show, a cow milking demonstration, the petting zoo, some of the livestock auction, some cow-herding dogs doing their contest runs and the pig races. The puppet show was just a couple of songs and a few bad jokes from a stationary puppet, but the kids liked it. We all liked the petting zoo, though we steered clear of one baby goat that was eating all the kiddies' shirts! The livestock auction was a little bewildering - we don't know much about it so we had no idea why two identical-looking cows fetched three or sixteen thousand dollars. I liked the dogs herding the cows through various spaces. It was pretty entertaining, actually! Although I have to admit the pigs were pretty cute racing, it did feel a bit surreal that I was sitting in packed stands, watching four pigs run in a circle. They even succeeded in making Zack long for a plastic pig nose for the low price of only one dollar (he didn't get it). We stopped in between things to listen to a little music, but there wasn't much going on at the time. I know there were great concerts at other times. It was neat just to walk through the livestock area and look at all the animals.

The Fair part of it was kind of an exercise in parental denial. Everything, from the rides to the food, is designed to make the kids want it (well, not just the kids). Zack wanted everything from all the food-on-a-stick to the pony rides to the Ferris wheel. Everything is purchased in tokens and the tokens are one dollar. It seemed like we could spend a ridiculous amount or spend the day saying "no" twenty times in a row. We got tired of that pretty quickly so we let Zack pick one thing to do - he chose the Ferris wheel. He was so excited. He insisted he wanted to hold his tokens in line, even though we said if he lost one he'd be stuck without enough to ride (there's a scary statement for a parent to make knowing it will be miserable to follow through!) Thankfully, he kept hold of his tokens through the entire line and I went with him - what a beautiful day! He said it was just as great as he thought it would be.
Overall, I thought it was a great family activity, and with the "pick one" approach, not too expensive. Most days there is some way to get free parking or admission or both, though we paid for our parking and partial admission (James wasn't willing to wear a pink shirt just to get in free. I did my part- I don't know what his problem was!). If you are going to do a lot of the rides, it would be a full day activity, but with the little ones we weren't. That made it just right for a half day. I think we'll be back in future years!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Sammy do it!"

I guess all toddlers have some particular way of saying they want to do things themselves. Sammy's is "Sammy do it!". Anytime he doesn't want help, it's "Sammy do it!"... and when he gets frustrated and wants help after all, it's "Mommy do it" or "Daddy do it". When the activity in question has anything to do with sweet food, he goes into excited-mode, in which he tenses all over the the point of shaking and it becomes "SAMMY DO IT!!" with his lips pulled back past the point of smiling so that his bottom teeth show.

That was the case last night when he had a "vita-mix treat" (which is just a fruit smoothie made in the industrial strength blender we love so much). He was so adamant we just let him do it himself, and he did a great job. By the time he had only a half-inch of smoothie left in the bottom of his cup, I was cleaning the kitchen and not paying a lot of attention (cue the ominous music, right?). I'm thinking it was at that point that he was tipping the cup toward him but pushing the bottom of the straw away from him and not getting any smoothie. He must have tried to just drink it out of the cup because the next thing I knew he was saying "dip it? dip it?" and trying to use his straw to dip into the puddle of smoothie on his shirt. I poured the last drip into his mouth while singing out, "all done!" then quickly pulled his shirt off, hoping I could carry him upstairs without making my own shirt into a smoothie puddle... only to find he was happily soaked head to toe. Even his socks were full of smoothie!

I guess that's just how Sammy does it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Angels are Singing

We've made a major breakthrough at our house. It may not sound like it, but it's HUGE:

The children are playing outside by themselves.

The clouds are opening and a single shaft of divine light is shining down on me! Yes, that is the voices of the angels! The times of, "Boys, go out and play" can begin! Oh sure, someone will get injured after six minutes, but that would have happened anyway. This way I can do some amazing task like, oh, say... clean the kitchen.

These milestones are mixed blessings. Moms always feel some sadness at the little ways in which the baby isn't a baby any more, the small losses of dependence on the mommy...
But wait, let me think.
Nope, I'm completely happy about this.