12.21.2006

Living in a fantasy

Today, I am a dragon.

There are lots of reasons why I might be a bit dragonish just now. Before Andy stumbled off to work at the unearthly hour of 4 am., he poked his head into the boys' room to kiss his sleeping sons. And found his firstborn sleeping peacefully in a puddle of vomit.

Delightful way to start off the day, it was not.

Factor in the unauthorized color-fest, and the diarrhea, and I can't believe I was at Walmart last night and didn't even pick up wipes... well, you can see why I might be a dragon today.

But that's not why I am a dragon today.

Somehow, in spite of it all, today has been one of those bright glowing days that filled my virginal dreams of motherhood. Those dreams that never really took account of the messes and the frustrations and the lost sleep--I vaguely knew that they were a part of motherhood, but in the dreams, they never mattered, covered as they were in a hazy mist of tenderness.

And that is how today has been.

Today, I am a dragon, because that is the game of choice. I am a great fire-breathing dragon, and my sons are valiant knights with shining swords. And when, grins ablazing, they are through slaying me, they are my own precious dragon babies, fresh hatched from great dragon eggs, and I cover them with kisses.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'll just go shred some potatoes with my enormous claws, and cook them with my firey breath.

12.14.2006

I'm very jealous...

...of mama octapi.

That is all.

12.13.2006

Tembo and I were reading together this morning. Sometimes it's hard to carve out time to read together, just her and me... her bubbas always want in on the action. So it wasn't as quiet and tranquil as we might have liked, but we shared a few special moments, and she babbled happily about the pictures in her bok as I warded off Nathan's pounces, and as Isaiah crowded close, looking over our shoulders and repeatedly asking when it would be his turn.

Tembo was earnestly attempting to wrap her little mind around the concept of a dandelion, and even more earnestly trying to wrap her little tongue around the word.

"Dan-de-li-on."

"Dach-la-flug."

"Dan-de-li-on."

"Daff-la-shoog."

Like a little school-boy bouncing up and down with his hand raised as high as it could possibly reach, Nathan had the answer, and there came a point where he just couldn't hold it in any longer.

"Daniel-and-the-lions!"

Wherein I conclude that three in diapers might not be such a bad thing, after all

Don't get me wrong, I'm still very much looking forward to the completion of potty training. We're working on it... slowly... We got a little derailed by wisdom teeth and holidays, but we're still working on it, and I have high hopes for getting the boys out of diapers once and for all---sometime after Christmas, and my last remaining wisdom tooth, and their birthday.

In the mean time, though, I have a lot of diapers to change, and I've found a way to make it a moderately pleasant experience for everyone.

See, all of my wuggies have always liked sticking their hands inside their dirty diapers as I change them. (Or, for that matter, when I dress them in elastic-waisted pants without onesies, but that's another story for another day...) Anyway, when they were smaller, it wasn't such a big deal. I can easily overpower a 7 lb. infant. I can also overpower a big, strapping toddler, but with a little less ease, and a LOT more mess. And avoiding a mess was the whole point.

Anyway, now diaper changes in Wuggyville are a family affair. While I change each child's diaper, the other two wuggies stand on either side of the changee, and hold his or her hands. Everyone smiles tenderly at one another, it's all very sweet and touching... and by the time the changee realizes what's going on and reaches down to wreak havoc, whoops, the dirty diaper's all gone, and we're done.

Works like a dream.

=)

12.07.2006

Why, yes, as a matter of fact!

"What that?"

"That's a skunk."

"Stunk."

12.04.2006

Making Do

Cleaning is the wuggies' obsession of the month. More exciting even than trains and trash trucks, although not quite as exciting as talking about Jesus and the cross and his owies and how now he's alive again. If offered the choice between going to the zoo to visit the monkeys or cleaning the house, I quite honestly don't know which itinerary they would choose for the day.

This passion of theirs is a wonderful thing, and greatly to be encouraged. So very developmentally appropriate, and the foundation for a lifetime of good habits, and a sign of little hearts desirous of general helpfulness and all things amicable.

And they actually would be very helpful, and come very close to offsetting their next greatest passion--making messes--but for two things. A) we keep the cleaning supplies locked up out of reach, and B) our wuggies are very resourceful indeed.

Soooooo.....

Does anyone know how in the world to get honey off of windows?

12.01.2006

Unrecognizables

Planning out the weeks menu and shopping list, I surveyed the food remaining in my refrigerator, and contemplated I could incorporate it into upcoming meals before it spoiled. I wondered to myself what on earth had possessed me to buy such an enormous ginger root. I always do that... I get a little carried away with things like that.

There was no chance of using it up, but a ginger-honey glazed chicken would be a start.

I stirred the honey and white wine together, resigned myself to the fact that they would never really mix, and added a little salt. The recipe didn't call for salt, but surely a little salt is in order. This is chicken, after all.

Then I went to grate the ginger.

It wasn't ginger.

It was a sweet potato.

Which would have been a very nice addition to the Thanksgiving yams, had I remembered, but which won't really add much flavor to my chicken.

But you know what? I'm kind of glad, actually. I was only using the ginger out of guilt tonight.

11.30.2006

Conversation

"Edaphunt. Edaphunt."

"Oh, are you a baby elephant?"

"No, I'm huge."

Disappointment

For the first time in my life, I slipped on a banana peel.

It wasn't nearly as funny as I might have hoped.

11.28.2006

Numbersense

Nathan is counting!

"One... two... six... seven... eight... four... eleven..."

=)

Dilemma

I'm really excited about Advent and Christmas this year. The wuggies are old enough now for it to be meaningful, and I'm on the lookout for ways to involve them in the season.

I love the idea of an advent calendar, and have lots of great childhood memories of opening the little door and reading the days scripture... but when it comes down to actually looking for a calendar for us to use, it's very difficult indeed to find one that is simultaneously toddler-appropriate and within budget.

So I was most pleased to read about this idea. A little "tree" with an ornament symbolic of each day's scripture reading? Brilliant.

But why would it have to be a separate tree? Why not have that BE our main Christmas tree? Instead of having a one-day tree-decorating frenzy, and two weeks of keeping toddlers away from it... why not help the wuggies to decorate it themselves over the course of advent, just a little bit each day, while we talk about waiting for Baby Jesus?

Ah, the pesky logistics of it all... if we have a real tree, we certainly can't have it up all through Advent and the Twelve Days of Christmas. And if we have a fake tree... well, what's the point of a fake tree, anyway?

So I was thinking we'd get a living Christmas tree, which wouldn't dry out and become a fire hazard.

But then I read that it would, however, become ill unto death if left inside for longer than 10 days.

It would be such a shame to buy a living tree, only to kill it over the course of the holiday... but really no different than chopping it down all at once at the beginning, I guess.

What to do, what to do.

There's a reason I blog, though. When I write, things start to make sense. Our tree will start out on the porch. Or maybe it will even start out at the back of the yard and slowly make its way toward the house as Christmas approaches.

Now I just need to be sure to make my ornaments weather-proof.

11.27.2006

Tantrums

"Cheese! Cheese! Cheese! Cheeeeeeeese!!"

"You need to ask nicely. Cheese please?"

"No! No cheese please! Chee-eeeese!"

Page-turner

As my mother and I worked on Thanksgiving dinner, Tembo sat snuggled up with her grandpa, reading her little bible book. It was a cooperative effort--Grandpa did the reading, and Tembo turned the pages. Often, because of course the page turning is the very best part of all.

So it was that out of the corner of my ear, I heard a most fascinating tale.

"Noah built a boat for his family and all kinds of animals. The princess found the boat on the river. Inside was a little baby."

An interesting plot idea there... I'm sure of it...

11.26.2006

Nathan, on eye drops

"Mama drink in the eye!"

11.22.2006

A roomate by any other name...

"Hi... Sarah?"

"Yes."

"Do you have class today?"

"No."

"Are you going to be bored out of your mind?"

"Quite possibly."

"Do you want us to come pick you up?"

"That depends... Who are you?"

"Oh, sorry. This is Elena."

"Who?"

"Your sister."

"Umm... I think you want to talk to Sarah Palmer."

11.20.2006

Ouch.

This afternoon I went in to have three wisdom teeth removed.

It took approximately 3 times as long as anticipated, and even then, we're only halfway through.

Prayer would be appreciated, both that the half-tooth left behind would stay out of trouble, and that there would be no permanent nerve damage from the attempted extraction.

Funny thing is, what hurts the most right now is the spot where they gave me all the shots. They pumped me so full of novacain, my ear was numb.

But thank God, all the novacain in the world isn't enough to keep you from screaming when they wiggle a tooth whose roots have fused together right by nerve. And thank God for digital x-rays, so the doctor was able to figure out what was going on, before it was too late.

Ay-ay-ay. What an afternoon.

11.19.2006

Economics Lesson

From the back room I overheard Nathan and Andy chattering. Judging from the jingling, apparently Andy was emptying out his pockets.

"Money."

"That's right, Nathan. It's money. What sorts of things can we buy with money?"

"Keys."

I chuckled to myself, wondering if Nathan was putting forth keys as one of those things that money can buy, or if he was merely changing the subject and observing that Andy had taken keys out of his pocket as well. I suspected that it was both, and that it was the proximity of keys that put them forth in his mind as the proper answer to the question and hand. And I wondered just how much of all our thinking is formed that way.

Andy and I had an extended dialogue about budgeting, and what I would and would not buy on my trip to Target, and then he went to go clean his car.

At least that's what I thought he was doing.

Nathan gazed earnestly up into my eyes and explained, "Dadder's going to Target. Buy keys for the car."

11.18.2006

Nener's Nutty Pan-Cookin's

I've finally figured out exactly how I like my pancakes. Fluffy, but not thick, a nice combination of hearty and light. Next time around, I think I'll try adding a chopped apple.

2 eggs, beaten until fluffy
2 c. milk
1.4 c. melted butter
1 Tpsp. vanilla

1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. chopped walnuts

combine wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately, fold 'em together gently, cook 'em on a hot griddle, and serve 'em with maple syrup. Preferably in a sunbeam. Pancakes are ever so much yummier when you can see the steam rising.

11.16.2006

Commentary

Other blogs get string upon string of comments.

Mine doesn't, and I must say, that's rather disappointing.

When I do get comments, though...

...sometimes they're better than the post itself.

11.15.2006

Malphonistically Speaking

Euphomisms make sense to me. When we talk about difficult and profound things in benign terms, they seem less intimidating.

And we're less likely to frighten any small children who may be in the room.

But why, why, why do we then turn around and talk about benign, commonplace events in the somberest of terms?

I tried to call Andy at work this evening, but his cell phone battery has been on the fritz, and it didn't even ring, just transfered me straight to his voice mail.

"Uh-oh," I said sadly, "We can't talk to Dadders after all. His phone's dead."

And now my sons are utterly convinced that they are fatherless.

The trouble with Girls

When the boys leave their cars, trucks, and minivans laying in a mangled heap on the floor, never does my heart stop in momentary fear that it is our real car upside-down underneath a semi.

The same cannot be said of Tembo's "babies."

As soon as my heart stops racing, I'm going to go dig a slightly less life-like doll out of the toy box.

11.12.2006

Meat Loaf

Almost as much veggies as meat, it tends to crumble when you try to slice it. But the flavor is well worth it. Besides I've never made a meatloaf that didn't crumble. =)

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
2 eggs
2 slices of bread, torn into little bits
1 leek, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
Kernels from one ear of corn
A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
2 Tbsp. molasses
2 Tbsp. catsup.

Gently knead all ingredients together in a large bowl, press into loaf pan. Bake at 350 until done, about 1 1/2 hrs.

Word to the wise: If your ground beef has a high fat content, you'll need need to drain off the grease. And if the meatloaf pretty much fills up your pan, you're less likely to burn yourself if you drain it several times over the course of it's stay in the oven.

And please, please don't substitute frozen or canned corn. The very best part about this dish is the delightfully flavorful crunch of the corn kernels.

11.10.2006

Mama's Helper-girl

This morning while I showered, Tembo was so helpful. She got me a washcloth... several, actually. I guess she wanted to make up for the fact that mamas can't shower quite as often as they might wish.

She also got me some deodorant.

Old Spice.

And above all, she got me a towel.

And another towel.

And another.

And another.

She kept right on bringing me towels, until the bottom of the shower was about a foot high in soggy towels, and oh, whe was pleased with herself.

And now as I write, hair wrapped in the least soggy of the pile, Tembo nuzzles her nose against my shoulder.

There's a towel on her head, too.

Just like the Mama.

11.08.2006

Back to the Pharmacist

Right down the street from us is a 24-hr. SavOn drugs. Or CVS Pharmacy. Or whatever it is. It's all rather disorienting. Apparently I should shop at Albertsons (which I don't) because inside every Albertsons is a SavOn Drugs, and SavOn Drugs is very, very wonderful. And why is SavOn Drugs so wonderful? Because inside every SavOn is a CVS Pharmacy. I'm just waiting for them to announce that they're putting an Albertsons inside every CVS Pharmacy, and then it'll all make sense.

But I really don't care what they call it, I just wish they would fill my prescriptions instead of losing them. Apparently "Johnston" is a very confusing last name. It's almost very normal, and that's the problem. Quite typical and mundane... except for that "T." They don't quite know what to do with the "T," but the name is so very normal-sounding, they don't realize just how confused they are. So they look in their computer, find five different Andrew Johnsons in their system, and not a one of them has a prescription waiting.

It's worse with the night staff, and it's worse with Tembo.

"Yes. September. Like the month."
"No, not her date of birth, it's her name."
"Yes, really."
"No, August 28."
"She came a few days early."

It all gets resolved in the end, but sometimes we have to resort to calling back after a shift change.

And every time this happens I swear to myself that I am never doing business there again. And every time we need a prescription, that's where exactly where I go, because it's right down the street, and open 24 hrs., and besides, this time can't possibly be as bad as last time. And every time, it is.

This last was worst of all. No record on their system whatsoever of Tembo's prescription. I spoke with members of 3 different shifts, and nobody could figure it out. But I had two messages on my answering machine verifying that the doctor had, indeed, called the prescription in.

So this morning I called the doctor again to ask her to send the prescription off to a different pharmacy. It turned out, however, that she already had sent it to a different pharmacy. The whole thing was my fault this time. I'd given the doctor the number of a SavOn/CVS/Whatever half an hour away. I had no reason to doubt the competence of this particular pharmacy (aside from the identity confusion, of course)... but it was half an hour away.

So it was that I found myself calling my neighborhood Multiple Personality Pharmacy once again, and asking them to transfer the prescription over from the other location.

I knew it was a mistake, even as I dialed. I was sure of it as the automated phone system informed me that "0" was not a valid option, and I would simply have to listen to a full listing of all possible methods of learning about flu clinic locations and hours in Southern California before they would let me talk to a human being.

I was ready to repent in sack-cloth and ashes by the time the girl on the end of the line was done with her lengthy apology and explanation for leaving me on the line for so long listening to the pandemonium behind the counter. Something about an exploding computer, I think. Anyway, I saw the error of my ways, and was fully prepared to give up and drive all the way to Beach Blvd.... but I'd been through so much, and was so close... I couldn't just give up and let that go to waste.

Oh, I should have. I should have.

When we got to the whole name conversation...

She had a hard time figuring out where to put the "W."

11.02.2006

If you shop at Costco...

NOW is the time to buy your holiday baking supplies. I just bought a 16 oz. bottle of real vanilla extract for $7, and 7 oz. of saigon cinnamon (the good stuff) for $3.50.

I'm enjoying a scrumptious cinnamon roll right now. I had no idea just how big a difference the quality of cinnamon can make. It makes a big difference. And saigon cinnamon is good cinnamon, warm and bright and intense.

Mmmm-mmm.

11.01.2006

Slowly, imperceptibly, the sun has set. Gradually, incrementally, it dawns on me that all is dark. A lone lamp shines out bleakly, a forgotten reminder of early morning's cheerful dark.

My head throbs dully, nothing a cup of coffee and an ibuprofen won't fix.

I wish the soul-ache were so simple.

"Milk. Milk in a cup!" But you have a cup of milk right there. "Milk in a cup with chocolate?"

Unpleasant odors waft up to my nose. Which one needs changing this time?

It never ends, this constant cycle of needs. Milk and stories and honey toast and pictures of helicopters. Apple slices, but don't spit them out, oops, bye-bye apple. Crayons, but only on the paper, oops, bye-bye crayons. And how is it that mopping the floor twice a day just isn't enough?

I know that there was a time when it all seemed to matter, was beautiful and joyous. And I know that time was just a few short hours ago.

I remember that there was a time, but try as I might, I can't remember what it felt like.

The emptiness deepens and swells, until I cannot bear the pressure.

Suddenly I recognize the hunger. My fingers tremble as I pull my flute case down off the shelf. The tarnished silver tubes slip together effortlessly, and I play. The sound is horrendous, but I don't care. To pause, and adjust, and find a tone that I can admire seems a shameful vanity. Later, later. For now, my need is too pressing, and I simply play.

Rippling through the notes, weaving in and around scales and arpeggios, the formless void of my experience takes shape.

"No song! No song!"

I really do sound dreadful.

My son, I'm afraid you're just going to have to put up with it. Just a glimmer, but I start to remember. Like a theorem you couldn't quite prove yourself or even recite, but the logic is so compelling, you know that if you read it long enough it will become part of you... like the truth you reason yourself into seeing, in that strange in-between moment when you still see the illusion right there mixed up with the truth...

The music matters, so obviously matters. And the music is life, only smaller, flatter. So if the music matters, then necessarily, life has to matter, and more. I only half see it, but I know it must be so, there is no other way. It has to matter, and more importantly, the way that the music matters has to be the same way that life matters. Just a glimmer, but I start to remember.

What was I thinking? What else could possibly happen when I go for weeks without music?

Isaiah, you are simply going to have to put up with the sound of my flute.

But first, how about a cup of juice and a cuddle and another Arthur book?

10.31.2006

Corn is shaped like a rocket, and the color of moonlight.

My firstborn son is a poet.

10.30.2006

Imitation

Tembo has learned a lot from her "bubbas." Mostly that's a good thing. They've had quite a hand in teaching her to walk, and talk, and stack blocks, and play with trucks. All this is very wonderful... but alas, their influence isn't always quite so positive.

The other day, Isaiah and I were cuddled up on the couch, reading together. I don't recall what we were reading, but it was great fun. And Tembo wanted that book. There's no lack of fun picture books around here, but Tembo wanted that one. It would only be a few moments before Isaiah and I were ready to move on to a different book, but she wanted it right then.

Whining didn't get our little September-child what she wanted, so she tried a different strategy. Slowly and deliberately, she took her brother's foot into her mouth, and chomped down.

Et tu, Tembo?

Even as September has been learning from her older siblings, though, Isaiah has been learning from us. He didn't try to retaliate, didn't even show any anger. He simply raised one eyebrow, announced "Uh-oh, Timmo," and waited for me to remove the naughty little girl to her playpen.

All in all, I think I'm proud.

10.29.2006

Strike Two

When the grocers went on strike a while back, it didn't really affect me that much. I simply shopped at the same non-union store as always. It was a little more crowded than usual, but the extra business put the employees in especially good moods. And the strike provided excellent fodder for small talk with strangers in the grocery store. If Californians tend to be a bit aloof, I do believe it is because the weather is so terribly uninteresting around here.

Yes, the grocery strike was not so bad... for me personally, at any rate. I was very glad on behalf of everyone involved when the whole situation was finally resolved, but it just didn't have a whole lot to do with me.

The current situation is another story altogether.

When the garbage men go on strike...

...it stinks.

10.28.2006

Two things I like, and one thing that annoys and confuses me.

Two things I like:

1. Household cleaners that come in concentrated formulas. Nice and efficient and frugal and all that.

2. Household cleaners that come in spray bottles. Very convenient.

One thing that annoys and confuses me:

Concentrated household cleaners that come in spray bottles. What in the world am I supposed to do with that?

10.26.2006

Time Out.

Last night Andy had a bunch of calls to make for work.

Parents aren't always particularly thrilled to get a call from a total stranger, informing them that their child qualifies for state-funded remedial tutoring.

Although the news really isn't nearly so insulting as they might think... under the No Child Left Behind Act, schools can't afford to waste valuable resources on students in the bottom quartile.

At any rate, Andy suspected that calling over the dinner hour might not help matters, but it was 5:30, and the calls had to be made. He thought about waiting until 7, but I vehemently nixed that idea. We did not hire a babysitter so I could sit at Starbucks and twiddle my thums while he made Title I calls. Besides, there's a reason why telemarketers always call over dinner. They're more likely to be home.

So he really was looking a bit guilty when he shut himself into the boys' room to make the calls in peace.

That's certainly how Isaiah interpreted it anyway. As he heard the door click, he grinned up at me.

"Dadder uh-oh!"

10.23.2006

The Quotable Husband

"Two ears of corn, 3 Italian squash, a chicken... and thou."

10.20.2006

Sick

My throat is raw and I hurt everywhere.

And I'd call the doctor...

except I have laryngitis.

10.19.2006

Perishables

Yesterday morning I glanced over at the bookshelf and saw a pile of things Andy had gathered up to take to work.

Whoops. So I put his grub in the fridge, and he came home for lunch.

When he opened up the refrigerator, and saw his pocket Latin dictionary on the second shelf, he just smiled and shrugged.

"Well, I guess it's a dead language. Wouldn't want it to spoil."

10.18.2006

Giver of Kisses

The other day I had a dental appointment. I'd carefully scheduled it for a Monday, because Monday's are Andy's prep day, and thus pretty flexible, and he could watch the wuggies for me.

Except that after I'd scheduled my appointment, Andy's bosses scheduled a meeting in Pasadena, so there goes that bright idea.

It all worked out fine, though, because Justy came with us, and pushed our big, beautiful Wuggy Buggy around shopping plaza. So while I got my teeth poked and prodded and x-rayed, they visited the pet store and big lots and the 99c store and the garage where they were working on bug cars. Bug cars! Nathan got a red truck. Isaiah got a blue truck. Tembo got a dolly. I got the news that I need four fillings and three wisdom tooth extractions, and that not only are they going to drill me, they're going to gouge me, too. (Over $1k for four fillings? Surely I can do better than that... anyone know a reasonable dentist in Anaheim?)

I think I got the rotten end of the deal.

Anyway, the boys like their trucks very much. It's a funny thing... I never would have gotten Nathan the red one and Isaiah the blue one, it's always the other way around in my mind. But oh, they are very happy with this particular ownership arrangement. As I was putting them down for their quiet time that afternoon, Isaiah's truck happened still to be out in the living room. So Nathan shared... for a little while. When he got his truck back, he sighed with pleasure, and announced, "Share the Bubba. But mine. Truck, like it!"

Tembo has been carrying around her little dolly, and oh, she's just as cute as can be. Dadders tried to teach her how to give Dolly huggies and snoofles and kisses, but she hasn't really caught on, and is quite content simply to carry her around in one hand.

Nevertheless, Tembo really does know how much Dolly needs affection. I was sitting on the couch when my baby brought her little baby up to me. Holding her by the feet, Tembo pressed the top of Dolly's head against my mouth, and made kissing noises. So I kissed Dolly's head just as I do Tembo's own, over and over all at once in a great cluster of kisses.

She giggled and giggled. Tembo was thrilled with the game, and I was thrilled with her delight. Because all those kisses that just pour right out of me, that I hardly think about, I just can't help them... it really does matter to her, and in her little mind, what a baby needs above all is kisses. Mama-kisses.

Someday soon she'll figure out that "mama" is a relationship, and she'll start playing mama herself with respect to her dollies. But for now, Mama is simply and only a person, and I am the giver of kisses.

10.14.2006

Productivity

Today I did a boatload of laundry, compared consumer reviews to decide upon the best blender and the best water filter for our money. I carefully planned out the menus for a weeks worth of nutritious, economical meals, and made out a meticulous shopping list.

But now that it's six o'clock, I remember what I haven't done.

Decided what's for dinner.

Good news/Bad news: Is a tantruming toddler sufficient reason for using this emergency exit?

Last night, I had cause to discover first-hand just how very un-quadruple-stroller-friendly Barnes and Noble is.

That is the good news and the bad news all rolled into one, because despite it all, I still like Barnes and Noble, and I adore our new stroller.

And, well... I'm sure that the boys will love their slightly damaged Thomas the Train book.

Thank God it's not a slightly damaged American Girl doll.

Our next outing will be to the zoo.

10.11.2006

Contrariwise

Nathan has discovered the joys of "no."

Sometimes this is played out in the dreaded two-and-a-half tantrums, where he wants what he wants, but oh, not that way, no he doesn't want it that way, not at all, but he HAS to have it, NOOOOOOO! Nothing is satisfactory, short of altering the laws of the universe, maybe going back in time so he would have gone down for his nap earlier or a had little more excercise the previous day. We all feel like that sometimes, I think, and it's quite an enlightening experience to see the jumbled emotions of intense frustration laid out so openly and clearly, in the full glory of their irrationality.

Ah, yes. Tantrums.

But usually, no is a fun word, a delicious word. Sometimes thoughtful, sometimes pedanting, but always matter of fact and measured and congenially decisive.

"Mama, I'm takin' a bath."

"Oh, really, Meepo? That's great!"

He raised one eyebrow at me, in a look of indulgent longsufferring patience.

"Mama," he repeated, this time nodding for emphasis between each word, "I'ma... takin'... a bath."

"Oh, so you're taking a bath?"

It was with triumphant dignity that he grinned up at me and pronounced, simply and definitively...

"No."

Linkworthy

No sooner did my dear husband fix the keyboard, than we all caught the flu. Between the aches and the chills, I haven't had much to say beyond "sniffle, sniffle, cough, blech."

I'm getting better now (though Isaiah and September are coughing this morning) and the brain fog is slowly clearing up.

In the meantime, though, I'll simply leave you with some wise words from Sharon.

This is definitely worth a read.

10.05.2006

NeedingSpace

MySpaceBarIsBroken.HenceThePaucityOfPosts.

InAttemptingToFixTheSpaceBar,IOnlyManagedToMakeTheLetters"M"and"C"NearlyImpossible.

ThankfullyOnlyNearlyOrIWouldn'tEvenBeAbleToSpellOut"SpaceBar"AndExplainMyPredicament.

9.30.2006

7-10 business days.

My life is about to get MUCH easier.

Ever since before September--my, but that's a delightfully ambiguous phrase!--I've been on the lookout for the perfect triple stroller.

This stroller would have two in the back, one in the front, and would fold up to fit in the back of the car.

This stroller does not exist.

Triple strollers come in two varieties. The long train variety that doesn't go around corners, and the side to side to side variety that doesn't go through doorways.

Neither variety really folds up very well, and both cost a small fortune.

Today, I have ordered a quad. Two in the front, two in the back. Five point harnesses for everyone, with room for a friend. And while it really is terribly expensive... believe it or not, it costs about half as much as the typical triple.

So... anyone want to go for a walk?

I am SO excited about this.

9.28.2006

Product Review, Take I: Measuring Spoons

Yesterday, I recieved a big box full of crinkly paper shreds. You know, the kind they use for packing boxes. It also had three 11oz bags of coffee, but for three out of five persons in this household, packing materials are ever so much more exciting than coffee. And what's exciting for them means excitement for everybody. Especially the one with the vaccum cleaner.

I was rather relieved that the box arrived during naptime. But never fear, oh story-hungry readers, our resourceful wuggies found it anyway.

Yes, it was just that sort of day. The sort of day where the boys strip down completely naked and run around like mad-pickles, screaming at the top of their lungs while jumping off of furniture and dismantling the mop... and I think to myself, at least they're getting the wiggles out. The sort of day where I'd contemplate moving to Australia, except that, well, that particular book (a favorite of mine, passed down from my own childhood) is now confetti, useful only as packing material.

So really, you have no reason at all to be glad that the boys found the box--although it really was awfully cute, the way Nathan brought a handful into our bedroom to show us, solemnly announcing "mess"... The day was blogworthy enough as it was. And anyway, this particular box would have resulted in a blog post in any case.

Folgers sent me some of their new Gourmet Selections coffee in exchange for an honest review here on The Wuggy Chronicles. So this morning, as I packed Andy's lunch, at far too early an hour for comfort, especially after a day like yesterday, decided to see if their breakfast blend could salvage the morning.

I know, I know. I should always pack his lunch the night before, on days where he commutes to Pasadena. But see, ever since I figured out how to make yummy mostly-whole-grain rolls, I decided that if I made his sandwiches on my own bread instead of Oroweat, I could save us some dough, so to speak.

Which meant that late last night, after the kids were down, and the babysitter dropped off at home, and I was really quite ready to fall asleep, I was not fixing sandwiches, but baking bread.

Anyway, I was very, very groggy this morning, as I dusted off the coffee machine, and opened up the bag of coffee. We generally like our coffee rather strong, but after a bit of waffling back and forth (I put way too much effort into minor decisions when I'm groggy!) I finally decided to make it as directed the first time, so as to give it a fair review.

I was still putting away the sandwich fixings when Andy came out and poured himself a bowl of cereal. So I hadn't tasted the coffee yet when I put a cup in front of him, and asked his opinion.

My usually opinionated husband had no opinion whatsoever on the taste.

After I took a sip, I knew why. There WAS no taste. It was incredibly, amazingly, insipidly weak. I had no idea what it tasted like, but I did know that next time, I was going to make it at least twice as strong.

Then I looked over at the measuring spoons on the counter, and saw that the tablespoon measure was quite clean, while the half-tablespoon measure was covered in coffee grounds.

And now I understand why most measuring spoon sets do not include half-tablespoon measures.

I was hoping to review some coffee, but unfortunately this morning's experience has only left me qualified to review measuring spoons. Half-tablespoon measures can be very convenient for any and all recipes calling for 1 1/2 tsp. of anything. But as they are easily mistaken for Tablespoon measures (do you have to capitalize the T when you write it out all the way?) the can be hazardous to your morning coffee.

But you know what? After my third cup, I guess maybe I'm starting to like really weak coffee.

Next time, though, I'll make it as directed.

9.26.2006

Fruit Salad

Thanks to Jessica for the insight that frozen fruit makes a great automatic sauce for a fruit salad.

This little bit of improvisation went over very well at dinner tonight. It was just exactly enough to serve two adults and two toddlers.

Toss together in small serving bowl:


1 apple, cut into bite sized pieces
2 banannas, sliced
1 grapefruit, segmented, membranes removed
2 kiwi fruits, skinned and sliced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped

mix together in separate small bowl:

1/2 cup frozen strawberries, thawed and smooshed. (1 cup whole berries, smooshed into 1/2 cup)
2 tsp. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Pour strawberry mixture over fruit. Enjoy.

This morning...

...over our morning "cereal in a bowl with milk at the table in chairs" (we're going through a "prepositional stage")...

...Nathan grinned at me an announced

"Mama's super!"

And my heart melted.

Orthodoxy

Andy's very last assignment for his month-long diversity class was to go immerse himself for a few hours in an unfamiliar environment. Somewhere he could experience being "other." Where everyone differed from him, either in terms of race, ethnicity, class, or religion.

The Isamic Institute of Orange County is right down the street from us, so Andy thought that would be an obvious choice. The location was ideal, and even the timing was wonderful, since Friday afternoon was the first big slot of time Andy had available to work on this.

But it turned out that you cannot observe their services without first going through an orientation, and that just didn't fit into Andy's schedule, since, well, Friday afternoon was the first slot of time he had available to work on it.

Thus it was that on Sunday morning we trekked down to Garden Grove to visit an Antiochan Orthodox Church.

It was a very strange experience, and strangest of all in how strange it was not.

We came looking for the experience of being outsiders, very different from everyone else. Instead we found a bunch of people very much like us. Isaiah and September were little angels during the liturgy, but Nathan was quite noisy. I didn't mind waiting out in the narthex with him, though. You can't get angry when your little boy is chattering incessantly about all the crosses and how they remind us that Jesus loves us. And it was so good to spend time with all the other young mothers chasing around their little ones. Families like ours seem to be the norm around there. Young intellectual couples with lots of babies--two toddlers and a bulging belly seemed to be the average family size. Mothers breastfeeding three-year-olds. The gypsy-garbed young woman---adorned with tatoos, piercings... and a head covering---pointed Nathan out to her adorably dred-locked son, and whispered "Look! Another little boy with long hair!"

I felt so very, very normal.

Which is, to be perfectly honest, a rather strange experience for me.

The liturgy, too--the little I saw of it... I expected the beauty, expected the strangeness, but I was completely taken aback by how comfortable it all was.

There was so much beauty, and yet beauty was so obviously not an end in itself, all was meant to draw the mind to Christ, and anything that draws the mind to Christ cannot help but be very beautiful, almost as though by accident, it's that inherent.

The choir was at the back, singing so beautifully, but they stood at the back. They were not the point, they were simply worshipping together with us, facilitating our worship, sweeping us forward with their song, sweeping our souls toward Christ.

The large icons at the front, too, and the dozens upon dozens of smaller icons in clusers along the side walls... all were beautiful and golden and glowing... and decidedly two-dimensional. Which is true, of course, of all icons, lest they decieve the eye into seeing them as more than they truly are, and thus seeing less than there is. As windows to heaven, they must necessarily be flat.

I must say, though, that lovely as they are, I'm quite uncomfortable with the whole idea of icons. And flipping through their pamphlets did little to allay my discomfort. That an icon of Christ would actually share in certain properties of Christ Himself, and serve as a window by which the soul can glimpse heaven... the belief seems blasphemous.

But of course that is precisely what I firmly believe about art in general. When a work of art depicts something, it's really like the thing it depicts, and by participating in and isolating certain qualities of the object, it can teach our soul to see the object in a new way. But it is a very uncomfortable thing indeed think hard about great art about Jesus.

It is strange and disorienting to realize that coming to a reasoned, consistent disagreement with their stance on icons would require as big a shift in my thinking (if not a bigger) as to come to agree with them.

The emphasis on Mary is extremely uncomfortable indeed, though, and I see no potential resolution there.

As for their claims to truly be The Church, I have no basis on which to evaluate them. I was under the impression that the Orthodox Church believes that nobody else is saved. But from the little I've been learning, it does not sound like they deny the existence of true Christians outside Eastern Orthodoxy. They simply claim to be, here on earth, what Protestants believe only exists in heaven. They don't deny that Protestant churches are what they claim to be, they simply claim that the Orthodox Church is something more.

Which turns out to be a much bigger claim than I ever imagined.

In all its branches, Christianity is about both doctrine and practice. While Protestantism leans toward the doctrine side, Eastern Orthodoxy leans more to the practice side. There's a big emphasis on spiritual disciplines, and achieving mystic union with Christ. Christianity isn't just a set of doctrines, with practical applications, it's a skill that can only be learned through observation and mentoring. Suddenly apostolic succession becomes very, very important. You want to learn how to become like Jesus from someone who learned from someone else, who learned from someone else, who learned from Jesus himself.

It seems that it should be a theoretically simple thing to discover whether this claim is institutional only, or a vibrant, living reality. I don't really place a whole lot of stock in apostolic succession in the West, because it has passed through unholy hands. Whatever conclusion you may come to about the rightness of any particular branch of the faith, there is no Western church which you can trust on the basis of pedigree.

Is there a trustworthy pedigree in the East? I have no idea. I'm fairly familiar with the history of Western Christendom, but I know next to nothing about about the history of Eastern Orthodoxy. Does it share a rocky history much like our own? Or is it indeed an unbroken chain of holiness? The latter seems highly unlikely, aside from the profoundly miraculous work of the Holy Spirit.

But I really don't know a thing about it, so I'm quite eager to cast my eye over a few history books.

In the mean time, we're embedded in our own church at Blessed Sacrament, but I think we have much to gain in learning from these other followers of Jesus. So we just might be back Wednesday night.

9.24.2006

Slip-n-Slide

If you think it's fun to splash around in water on a vinyl mat, you should definitely try orange juice on linoleum. So much more slippery... imagine the possibilities!

9.22.2006

All better.

Not only was traffic just fine, but everybody played hooky from Andy's last class, so he got to come home an hour early.

Tembo and I are going to have a grand time this afternoon, just us girls. I'm gonna get me a nice big cup of tea, and do a bunch of menu planning. This month I'm going to add up all the quantities of all the ingredients, so I know exactly what I'm doing. No more guestimating for me... not until I've made a practice of precision, anyway, and thus have developed an accurate sense for these things. I'm also going to add up the expected total cost of various meals in my repertoire. It should be a fun project... I'm quite looking forward to it. I wonder if there will be time to squeeze in a bubble bath, too?

And best of all, when the boys return this even, probably a bit the worse for the wear after their vaccinations, I will be full of love and patience and kisses for them once again.

1 hr. 50 min.

More or less.

Traffic had better be good, today.

I love my wuggies dearly, but I have been on mommy duty for entirely too long.

The moment you walk in the door, dear, they're all yours.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go attempt to separate the clean laundry from the dirty laundry.

I'm postponing all teaching moments about the difference between clothing and confetti for some other time when I'm rested enough to tell the difference between joi de vive, and willfull destructiveness.

9.21.2006

Saturday

It's all going to be better on Saturday.

Last night, while Andy was off at the computer lab, writing a paper, the kids were asking about him. Where's Dadders? Where'd'e go?

I assured them not to fear, Dadders will be home in a few hours.

Of course, you'll be in bed by then, but you can see him... well... no, not in the morning, but when he gets home from work.

It wasn't until he kissed me goodbye this morning, at 5am, that I realized that wasn't going to happen, either.

See you at 9:15, honey.

Saturday, kiddos. You can see him on Saturday. And the class will be over, no more papers to write, no more observation hours to set up and attend. Saturday.

Actually, I guess you get to see him tomorrow, too. He gets off work at noon, and he's coming straight home to take you in for your shots.

But let's not think about that right now, on Saturday, we're going to the zoo.

Because starting on Saturday, it isn't going to BE a zoo around here.

Not for the next two months, anyway.

9.19.2006

So much for chivalry

Nathan knows that when a lady sits down, a gentleman ought to pull a chair out for her.

After all, how else are you going to keep her from stealing YOUR SEAT!?

***IMPORTANT NOTICE***

No babies were harmed in the making of this post. Situation was intercepted, and not a moment too soon. And Nathan found himself sitting in... a different chair.

9.18.2006

Antiques

There's no way I'd admit to this, except that it's just so funny. Last night, the only way I managed to get dinner on the table was with the aid of the Antiques Roadshow. It's a heinous thing to snatch away these precious moments of childhood, and squander them without purpose... but I decided that dinner might be of more use to them than that hour of cognitive development, crucial though it might be. It turns out that the wuggies disagreed with me on all counts, and spent dinner politely requesting that please I serve them cookies and goldfish crackers rather than a luscious, velvety homemade macaroni-and-cheese casserole with just a hint of garlic. Admittedly, it did have rather too much romano this time--I'll post the recipe when I work out the right proportions--but still! All they ate, in fact, were the beets. Ah, the joyous serendipities of Mystery Can Night.

At any rate, the wuggies were not too pleased with my efforts to make them a nourishing meal, but they greatly enjoyed being plopped in front of the safest-looking show on the tube, and learning all about how to identify a Tiffany vase, and all about the hideous necklaces Lucille Ball had the misfortune of wearing, and how probably it was a gift, not because it was so tacky, but because she never would have bought anything nearly so expensive.

And they learned lots of other stuff, too, apparently. After dinner, Nathan began carrying around a rather beat-up carseat cover I'd brought in to wash. He proudly showed his find to Auntie Sarah.

"Antique!"

9.16.2006

Whole Wheat Rolls

I'm rather of the opinion that all-purpose flour might better be called "no-purpose" flour. It's a sort of jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. You can use it for anything... but it's just not quite ideal. For yeast breads, where you really need well-developed glutein, bread flour yeilds far better results. And for quick breads, where you need to be careful to avoid too much kneading lest the glutein make it tough, whole wheat flour works quite nicely and is ever so much more nutritious. Lately, whenever I make biscuits, I've been just replacing ALL of the white flour with whole wheat, and making no other adjustments to my normal recipe. And they turn out great. They actually come out lighter that way.

Of course, I do have to admit to using all-purpose flour for cakes and pastries and sauces... but only because I'm not a serious enough baker to go out and buy cake flour and pastry flour and figure out how to make a lumpless white sauce with cornstarch.

But this post isn't about all-purpose flour. This is about whole wheat flour, and how I finally figured out how to make beautifully fluffy rolls, with all that whole-grain nutty goodness.

The key is gluten, and thoroughly mixing it into your dry flour. Sadly, your regular grocery store probably hasn't even heard of gluten, and I haven't seen it at Trader Joe's, either. I get it at Henry's Market, and I know I've seen it at other health-food stores.

Mix thoroughly in large bowl:

2 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. bread flour (all-purpose if you MUST)
1/4 c. wheat gluten

Set flour mixture aside.

Place in bottom of bread machine:

1 1/4 c. water
2 large eggs

Sprinkle flour mixture over eggs and water.

Add:

1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. dry active yeast
3 Tbsp. butter

Set machine to dough cycle.

When dough is complete, form into rolls and arrange on a buttered baking sheet. Or casserole dish. Or whatever. Let rise until doubled, about 45 min. Bake at 350 until golden brown, around 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy with a nice big blueberry-peach-walnut smoothie. Such a nice, refreshing, low-key lunch!

=)

AND... if you happen to forget the yeast...

it makes an AMAZING flatbread.

Not that I ever forget ingredients or anything...

9.14.2006

Polyphony

Sometimes, around the dinner table, we sing grace. Like we did on special occasions back home growing up, and always I dream of the day when our little family can sing in four part harmony. Andy holds down the melody, and I experiment wildly, a different descant every time. The harmonic freedom is glorious... but really, there's only so much you can do, and I dream of adding more voices to the mix.

Tonight, I think I got my dream. It wasn't four parts, since Andy had to work late, and I'm not so sure that it was harmony. But whatever it was, it was glorious.

As I sang "God is great and God is good, and we thank Him for this food..." Nathan sang "God, God, food, Tembo get in chair...," and all the while we were singing, Isaiah sang a sevenfold Amen, interjected with frantic exhortations to his brother to keep holding hands.

And oh, it was glorious.

9.12.2006

Duck out of water

We've been out of the duck stage for a while now. Gone are the days when Isaiah would crouch in the hallway, blanket draped over his head like a jedi's hood, and quack to passersby. Gone, too, are the days when the ducks were the primary attraction of any excursion. Now the zoo is about monkeys and the leopard, and the park is about the swings and the slide, and above all the climbing.

But ducks are still very important, nonetheless.

And ducks should be in the water.

There were lots of ducks last time we went to the park, and they weren't in the water.

There was much sobbing.

9/12

I vividly remember that awful morning. Sharon and I had just returned from a jog, and were sitting in the Horton lobby together, helping one another work on memorizing the book of Romans. (A noble task of which I only finished a chapter or two, but which I do believe my dear and virtuous friend accomplished in entirety...) There was quite a crowd watching television, absurd for 6:30 am., and rather annoying. Slowly I became aware that Sharon wasn't paying any attention to my recitation, eyes glued to the television screen. I turned around to see what was going on, and slowly I became aware that this wasn't a horror flick, wasn't a spoof, but a live news broadcast. The reporters at the site were as bewildered as I. All across the nation, we watched together as the burning tower crumbled, and as a second plane crashed into its twin.

And then the Pentagon.

And then...

An empty field in rural Pennsylvania, somewhere in Somerset County. The heroes of flight 93 were a light and an inspiration, a shining ray of hope on this dark, dark morning.

I remember the next morning, too, wondering if I would see smoke on the horizon, and wondering if it would be from Anaheim to the east or Los Angeles in the west.

But there was no smoke. Our safety has not been incidental, nor has it been cheap.

And today, the day after 9/11, I want to say thank you.

9.10.2006

Both and.

Already not yet.

Death and resurrection don't follow a straightforward chronology.

At least not the sort I expect.

And always I am startled at this strange admixture of being and becoming,

confused, awed, amazed, and perplexed

at what it is to be

human.

9.09.2006

Beware the leaven of the brioche dough.

I've emerged victorious from a long and rather gruesome battle with a small ball of brioche dough.

Word to the wise: never eat raw bread dough if you've been exposed to a virus.

I've always felt a touch of sorrowful affection for the thousands of tiny creatures who give their lives to make my bread light and fluffy.

No more.

9.01.2006

It's all Greek for me!

One very busy afternoon last week, I stopped at Trader Joes to pick up some pizza dough for a quick dinner.

I ended up leaving with a whole shopping cart full of nutritious goodies... but no pizza dough.

You see, it turns out that they sell pita bread at Trader Joes. And not the nasty Sara Lee stuff, or even the quite nice pitas under the Sahara label. Oh no. These were scrumptiously fresh, covered in sesame seeds... mmm-mmm.

Last time ground beef was on sale for .99/lb, Andy cooked up a HUGE batch of seasoned patties for gyros. Inauthentic, I know, but SO yummy, even when you sub out the lamb with beef. The idea was that on busy nights we could just defrost a few patties, stir some cucumber and mint into yogurt, throw it all into pitas with some veggies, and have yummy nutritious meal pretty much effortlessly.

(Yes, I know he's wonderful, and no, you can't have him.)

But the grocery stores in our new neighborhood don't sell pita bread. So I was going to have to make my own pitas for the gyros. Which is certainly well worth the time... if you have the time. And the whole point was to have food for when there just wasn't enough time. It was all very depressing.

Somehow it never occurred to us to check at Trader Joes.

Anyway, all that is a very long and round-about way of saying that I suddenly found myself at Trader Joes, looking for yogurt for the sole purpose of making gyros. There were all sorts of other reasons why I needed yogurt, but since it was all spur-of-the moment and I didn't have my grocery list with me, I was only actually thinking about gyro-making. So that is why I passed right over the regular plain yogurt, and despite having no idea in the world what it was, bought "Greek-style" yogurt.

I have no idea what I expected, but this was definitely not it. I guess I must have been expecting something resembling regular yogurt.

And this does not.

Although I suppose you might say that regular yogurt does resemble Greek yogurt, in a shadowy sort of way, like lamps resemble suns and housecats resemble lions.

Rich and thick and creamy and flavorful... this is what yogurt is meant to be.

And if your parents just so happened to have brought you a jar of wildflower honey from a little bee farm in Arizona... who needs ice cream?

It just puts yogurt into a whole 'nother category.

It's a good news, bad news, really bad news sort of day.

The good news is that since Nathan's tummy bug was quite shortlived, and last night Isaiah was done throwing up by morning, I have high hopes that Tembo will also get well within a few hours.

The bad news is that I've been so busy giving baths and changing clothes--not to mention making arrangments for holiday weekend dental emergencies!--that I haven't gotten around to steaming the carpet in the boys room. (I have washed everybody's sheets though.)

And the really bad news, of course, is that we exposed everybody on Thursday.

So if any of your kids catch it, I'm awfully sorry...

...and you can borrow our carpet steamer.

=/

8.31.2006

There's an organized person somewhere deep inside me, and she's trying to get out.

I'm pretty smart. For the most part, I can figure out pretty much anything if I just set my mind to it. Problem is, I can be incredibly dense when it comes to knowing how in the world to go about setting my mind to certain things.

This is an amazing book. It's not a book of organizational techniques (although there's a lot of great stuff along those lines, too), but a book about how to start thinking well about organization.

The first chapter filled me with hope--the first time I'd ever had any sense of reasonable hope for this area of life. Certainly, there have been times when I was sure that through sheer willpower I could force myself to stop being myself and become somebody who is capable of being organized. About once a week, as a matter of fact. But reading this book sparked the idea that maybe--just maybe--the person I actually am can learn to organize her home and her life.

Ms. Morgenstern's story was uncannily familiar. Right-brained artistic-type, always losing everything, the epitome of disorganization. When she described wandering for four hours through the parking structures of Chicago O'Hare, trying to remember where she'd parked a friend's car, my mind flashed back to my own experiences wandering aimlessly through Biola's parking lots, and the sickening thought that maybe the really important thing I was sure I'd forgotten at home... was the car. Thankfully, I'd only walked a few yards of the trek home before it occured to me that I couldn't possibly have driven to school while leaving the car back home.

Anyway, she sounded a lot like me, only maybe a little worse. But then one day, tired of spending 3 hours packing up for a jaunt to the beach with her baby, she organized her diaper bag.

The system worked, she applied it everywhere... and the rest is history.

So the first chapter was very encouraging.

The next chapter... not so much.

You see, she says the first step is evaluation. Obviously, you need to know what you want to change, and why. But you also need to take stock of what actually does work for you. That way you won't waste energy on needless change, and more importantly, you'll get a better idea of what makes a system really workable for you. Besides, it's encouraging. If you can organize one thing, you can organize anything.

Great.

Only one slight problem.

I couldn't think of anything.

She said this step was indispensable. You can't go on successfully without it.

I contemplated long and hard, but I couldn't come up with any answers. So I decided to move on anyway, futile though it might be. I admitted to myself that I couldn't remember ever having successfully organized anything other than chord progressions, and kept on reading in the snippets in the snippets of time between diaper changes.

As I unloaded the dishwasher, I was mulling over the ideas about activity zones in rooms, and wondering how they might apply to my kitchen.

Cramming the spatulas into their too-shallow drawer, I realized what a constant source of frustration this was. Surely there's a better place for them. That drawer was positively useless for anything other than... oh... say... flatware, maybe.

Oh.

So I quickly moved the flatware from the deep, narrow drawer next to the stove, and arranged it in the wide shallow drawer in the island between table and sink. It fit beautifully. So much better than that too-narrow drawer in which it had been wudged. And just the ideal location, too. The spatula's fit neatly into the old silverware drawer, with room to spared. Right next to the stove, too!

Oh, the bliss of rightness! Like composing, there was a sudden rush of ecstasy as I realized that solving one aspect of a situation caused a dozen others to fall perfectly into place. It was like music.

Seriously.

It was just like music.

And I realized that if I can organize sound, I can organize space.

The process is identical.

So is the thrill.

So is the beauty and the peace.

It's really low on the list of priorities, but you know what I'm most excited about? Coming up with a system for keeping track of all the musical ideas currently scrawled on scraps of paper throughout the house, and finale files sprinkled through the hard drive. But that'll be awhile. There's a lot of laundry to do, and a lot of cabinets that explode when you open them.

In the meanwhile, though, the inside of the boys' wardrobe is a thing of beauty, I've freed up the wherewithall to organize our own wardrobe (not to mention finding homes for the collection of decorative baskets cluttering the linen closet!) and my soul is very happy.

8.30.2006

It's been a good news, bad news sort of day

The good news is that I'm becoming very adept with the featherweight carpet steamer. Very, very adept.

Dadder some?

In honor of Andy's birthday, I decided to make his favorite mandarin pork roast. Thus it was that when he came home from work (surprisingly early--his trig class was cancelled) he was greeted by the savory aroma of smoke, and the sweet sound of the smoke alarm. And some rather obnoxious music, because apparently my tastes are rather too eclectic for Pandora to make any sense out of. And a really, really hot house. Nothing to do with the smoke, mind you, it's just that it's still warm outside, and I had the oven on, and this Arizona girl really doesn't notice heat below 100 degrees.

Anyway, there was quite a frenzy of door-flapping, in a desperate attempt to get the smoke out of the house so we could shut the windows and turn on the air conditioner. Finally, we remembered that there really is a reason why they always put a little fan over stoves, the little fan made everything all better, we turned on the AC, and Andy lay down for a much-needed nap.

As I assembled the glaze for the pork roast--which, by the way, is NOT burnt, and which I'm sure will be quite yummy despite the lack of rosemary and soy sauce and perhaps one or two other items that never made it onto the shopping list because surely every well-stocked kitchen always them on hand--Nathan discovered Andy's Gatorade on the counter. Gatorade is very important around here, since Andy is not from Arizona, and does not do well with heat. I have high hopes that many disastrous bouts of heat-sickness may be averted, now that we've realized that Powerade is not, in fact, the same thing only cheaper. At any rate, Nathan pulled his father's electrolyte-replenishing fluid down off the counter, unscrewed the cap, drank some, and offered the bottle to his brother. After taking a small sip, Isaiah thought we should offer some to Dadders.

"Dadder some? Dadder some?"

I assured him that Dadders had already had some, but that I was very proud of his thoughtfulness. I left Isaiah to finish off the Gatorade, and went back to my fruitless search for the soy sauce.

Just as I'd given up, and was deciding how much salt and sesame oil to use in its place, Andy came tearing out of the bedroom, covered in the Gatorade so lovingly foisted upon him by his dear son.

And I thought the whole thing was so funny, I simply had to blog about it that very minute.

I do hope the roast isn't burnt.

8.29.2006

one year and one day

...since I met one of my very favorite people in the world. And oh, I love her.

Happy birthday, Tembo!

ACM Review: Cool Springs Records

Don Marsh Presents America’s Choice 30
Publisher: Cool Springs Records Franklin, TN


We'd just been talking about how we really wanted to get some good worship music collections to listen to around the house and in the car, so I was excited at the opportunity to review these CD's for Active Christian Media.

As the name would suggest, this two-CD set features 30 of the worship songs most popular today in churches across the nation.

There are some really wonderful songs on here, and it's a great way to keep your mind focused on God throughout the day.

Musically, however, I was a little disappointed. Great songs, and well performed, but the arrangements were not ideal for the medium. The songs are performed by a large worship team, singing in unison.

This type of arrangement is probably the easiest way to facilitate congregational participation in a live worship service. When everyone in a large group is singing the same thing, it is easy to follow along and join in, even if you have no musical background. The unison serves to help draw everyone into a common experience.

In the context of a recording, however, I found the same format rather isolating. Listening to the CDs, I was aware of a rich communal experience... of which I was decidedly not a part. I could sing along, but even then, there was a sense of being the odd one out. Everyone was singing the same thing, at the same time, in the same place... and so for me to be singing along, much later and far away, felt like something of an anomaly.

Strangely enough, this isn't nearly so such a problem with recordings of soloists, or groups singing in harmony. If everyone is singing something different, and it all meshes together into a unified whole, there is a sense in which there's room for me to sing along, in a different time and place, and still be a part of the same whole. Even if I don't sing along, my aesthetic experience of the relationships between the vocal lines is a vital part of the song.

For instance, God of Wonders (You are Holy) is one of my favorite worship songs. Singing it in unison in the midst of a large congregation sends shivers down my spine, and even in a recording, the Newsboys' rendition never fails to draw me in. By comparison, the unison recording on this album rather fell flat.

There was one song, however, for which the format worked perfectly. Blessed Be the Name is an excellent song taken loosely from the book of Job, expressing the firm commitment to join with Job in blessing the Name of the Lord, regardless of experience. In this case, the music was perfectly suited to the powerful, emphatic words. And because the song was not about emotional experience, but about a commitment to stand firm in the face of fluctuating experience, I could truly participate as a listener. I may not be able to join them in that particular experience of singing together, but I most certainly can join them in praising the One who remains constant through all our varying experiences.

I was a bit startled, though, at the saxophone's gleeful entrance at the end of the song. It struck me as rather out of place with the tone of the song as a whole. I'm not quite sure whether this difference of opinion is musical or theological.

All in all, the collection is very uplifting, but musically speaking, perhaps not ideally designed for home listening. And indeed, I think their main purpose with this project was actually facilitating live worship services for congregations without access to live instrumentalists. This collection, as well as the America's Choice Kids set, also comes in a split-track format.

I'd give it three and a half stars out of five.

(In case you're new to this blog, my name is Elena Johnston, and I'm a mom of three positively adorable toddlers, and ever so blessed to have an amazingly supportive husband who helps me carve out snippets of time to compose, read up on the philosophy of music, and write about my kiddos' antics on this blog. I recieved a copy of this album in exchange for the review, through Stacy Harp, who does a fabulous job of hooking up bloggers with great new Christian media.)

8.26.2006

Fastidiousness

Doing laundry with someone else is always an interesting experience. Everybody does things differently, and by observing a person's laundry habits, you can learn such fascinating little tidbits about his or her soul. It was such a surprise, for instance, when I found out that an otherwise easygoing friend actually irons her underwear. It seemed so out of character... but of course I understood her character a lot better after finding that out about her.

Anyway, Nathan helped me do laundry today.

He spot treated all my cleaning rags.

Who'd'a thunk it?

8.25.2006

Just Google it.

Some information is really hard to find. Even on the Internet.

How to get from Brea to Whittier on public transportation would definitely fall into that category.

Back in high school, a camp roommate was incredulous when I told her what my parents did. Why would anyone spend 20+ years translating the Scriptures into an obscure language? Why didn't the just download it off the Internet?

Today, the MTA website was down, and I had to resort to google to find a bus schedule.

Unfortunately, the first, and only really relevant, site that came up was a message board. A snarky, and mildly indignant response to the poor, hapless schmo who'd posted a request for information on bus schedules.

"Just google it, stupid."

8.24.2006

There is a post.

Buried under the one about lists. About out new surveillance system.

And I can't figure out how to get it out from under the other, slightly older, post.

Of course, if you use a feedreader, you already saw that post.

And come to think of it, if you don't use a feedreader, and you read more than a handfull of blogs, you really should. It's great. Just one website to check, and you know which blogs have been updated since you last looked. You can even just read all the new posts right there. It's great. I use bloglines, and I love it.

But in any case, I'll do my best to keep my new posts popping up in an orderly, dignified fashion.

And really, it's a good discipline for a procrastinator like me.

Must finish all posts in the order in which I start them.

=)

8.21.2006

The List

I had a list.

It was an important list.

I know I put the list somewhere.

I'm sure of it.

I clearly remember putting the list somewhere, and thinking to myself what an absurd place that was to put a list.

I wish I knew where my list was.

It was an important list.

Eyes in the back of my head

We bought a security camera.

Oh, the bliss.

It provided us and the kids with hours of entertainment, before we set it up. And as we set it up, surrounded by three cranky wuggies, vying for our attention, it provided Andy and I with a fabulous context to work through lots of communication and anger management issues.

But now that it's actually set up, it provides us with peace. Sweet, sweet peace.

You might well ask what exactly we have in our home that is so valuable that we just can't rest without a security camera.

Toddlers.

See, when bedtime rolls around, Isaiah never wants storytime to end. But he knows that he can lure us back into their bedroom by screaming at the top of his lungs, as though in mortal agony.

As soon as the door opens, there he is, grinning from ear to hear, holding out his favorite Curious George book for us to read.

This strategy might not have worked, except that it meshed so well with his brother's.

Nathan didn't like for the excitement of the day to end, either. And HE knew that he could always get us to come back in by pulling his Isaiah's hair. Or pinching him. Or biting him.

Whatever the case, Isaiah would scream... and we would have no idea what had happened, or who was at fault.

Last night, I finished up reading to the boys, and kissed them goodnight. No sooner had I shut the door, when Andy came tearing down the hallway from our bedroom. Nathan had been caught in the act, before Isaiah even had a chance to scream.

I watched from the TV set in our bedroom, as swift justice was administered... much to the bewilderment of our firstborn. Then Dadders pointed out the camera in the corner. Everybody waved to Mamma, and Mamma called out friendly greetings in response. It was all very fun and exciting.

Then Dadders kissed them goodnight, and joined me in watching our very own reality show.

The wuggies continued waving to us periodically, but Nathan was still a little slow on the uptake. Andy had to go back in twice more.

After the second time, Isaiah slowly and patiently explained everything to his brother. Most of it was in their own little twinspeak, but we did pick out the words "cam-ra" and "mamma," as well as much gesturing toward the little device in the corner.

And then we were priviledged to witness the dearest little reconciliation scene, where Nathan expressed his remorse over his brother's owies, and told him how sorry he was, and that he loved him. There were many hugs and kisses.

It is so much fun to watch them interact with one another when I'm not around. I knew they were close, but I guess I didn't know quite how much.

Fun times, fun times.

And I do believe the reign of terror is over.

8.19.2006

Share and Share Alike

Nathan (who fell off the bed and bit straight through his lower lip) is just fine. The doctor (who takes our insurance after all) said that it was sealing up quite nicely, and there was no need for stitches.

There was, however, need for examining and poking said lip. This wasn't fun for our poor little guy, but he was a good sport.

There comes a time when enough is enough, though, and when this time came, Nathan tearfully announced that he was ready to be done with all this.

"Brother's turn?"

8.16.2006

Greetings from Cow-town

We're having a wonderful time here in Vacaville with Andy's extended family, following close on the heels of a great week in San Diego with Wheatstone, and a fabulous day with my family.

All in all, the time here has been wonderful, thanks in no small part to the little wooden train set we bought on the way. Best investment we've ever made. In lovely, tastefully decorated homes, where no toddlers normally reside... it is very important to make sure that there is something around that is even MORE exciting than the china display. And for that, nothing less than trains will do.

But alas, train privileges have been temporarily suspended, the dreadfully dire consequence of sister-bashing. This was the cause of much weeping on Isaiah's part, but really, I think it's hardest for me. Because I'm the one who has to keep him away from the china.

Nathan would be upset, too, I'm sure... but he and his Dadders are en route to the hospital to get his lip stitched up.

The excitement never stops.

Anyway, all this to say that we will resume our regular posting schedul...

...shortly.

8.05.2006

Oh be careful, little eyes, what you see...

From a notice regarding community pool rules:

"In addition, any member of management that observes residents horse playing or mis-behaving while in the pool area, will be asked to leave immediately."

8.02.2006

Summertime

We nixed all our plans for a crazy, busy summer. Somehow cramming it all in just didn't seem like the best way to prepare for the inevitable chaos of the semester. We decided to take things at a slower pace, just focus on learning to live well. We decided to carve out lots of time for growth and development, for both of us as individuals, and also as a couple. A tranquil, idyllic summer, carefully orchestrated so as best to lay the foundations needed to weather the difficult times to come.

Which is why we've been running from conference to conference, constantly on the road. Umm... yeah.

Actually, it is. Really. Because Wheatstone Academy is just exactly the place to be if you're looking for soul growth. It's a summer program for high schoolers--but unlike any summer camp I've ever heard of. It's the sort of summer camp where you bang your head against Plato, with the help of real live Plato scholars, who, for some reason, want to spend their summer talking to high schoolers. Where you struggle valiantly to sit through hard lectures on epistemology and philosophy of science and historical mathematics.

But it's not just a geeky academic camp, it's also a place where you read the Bible, and think hard about it, surrounded by really smart people who love Jesus with every fiber of their being, and trust Him enough to let you grapple with your toughest doubts. And I really do mean surrounded... last week, the students were outnumbered by faculty and staff.

It's also a place where you go mountain climbing, and listen to excellent music, watch movies and live theater, and stay up til all hours talking and laughing...

In other words, it's a place where you get a taste of what it's like to really live to the fullest, pushing each part of yourself toward a richer manifestation of the image of God, deeply integrated into a powerful community of believers.



Of course, they're only actually paying Andy to come for one evening each week. Eat dinner with the students, give a talk on the nature of mathematics as a liberal discipline, answer a few questions, go home. And of course, we really couldn't afford to do anything more. There's money to be earned, bills to be payed, classes to take, GRE's to study for....

But more importantly, much more importantly, our souls need refreshing. What good does it do us to be on a fabulous trajectory with carreer and grad school and financial stability, if somewhere along the way, our souls fall apart?

So we've been just hanging out there as a family. The first week, Andy felt like he needed to be wholly present from the beginning until his talk, to catch the logos, so to speak. So the kids and I stayed home, and then went up for the day on Thursday. Last week, though, we all squished into a dorm room, ate in the cafeteria, and Andy and I traded off watching kids and listening in on lectures and discussions.

And so it is that our idyllic, restful summer involves an absurd amount of travel, hither, thither, and yon. Last week we were at Vanguard, and next week we'll be at the University of San Diego. And we'll have to take a look at our schedule, because I sure hope that we aren't driving up to Sacramento before the end of the conference. Alas, we planned our family vacation while we were still intending the summer to be far to busy for Wheatstone, and thus much more flexible. Ironic, don't you think?

This week I'm home with the kids, but Andy's at a conference for his normal, school-year, pay-the-bills job, and I'm coming to the conclusion that single parenthood is for the birds. It's well nigh impossible for one person to create a family all by herself. The wuggies, of course, cannot really contribute to our being a real family, all they can do is need it desperately. The relationship between Andy and I forms an almost palpable matrix in which the kids are embedded and upheld. It's easy to take for granted when it's there, but the absense leaves a gaping hole. Oh, how I would hate to do this long term.... I'm simply not enough. And never could be, not really. We'd survive, of course, but not thrive. Because however strong I could be, I could never have a deep, interpersonal relationship with myself. I could never be a family.

But for now, we're having fun. Last night, we all piled into bed together and watched opera snippets on PBS. And today we spent the afternoon and evening with the Koch family. And tomorrow Marcy is going to pick me up from the mechanics, so that the kids and I won't have to spend the whole day at McDonalds waiting for them to finish fixing the AC. Thank God for friends.

And even though I'm never entirely alone--how can I be, when Andy's not here to watch the kids?--still, a strange solitude infuses everything. And that can be a very good thing indeed.

For a few days.

Mostly because I'll be very glad indeed to see him again on Friday.

7.25.2006

Shell-shocked

I'm not quite sure who's more exhausted.

I simultaneously played the contradictory roles of matron of honor and composer.

...while Andy played both Daddy and Mommy.

In 110+ weather.

Without air conditioning.

When we got back, we wanted to take the kids straight to Baskin Robbins for being such amazingly well-behaved little angels through most of the weekend.

And then tear them limb from limb for having thrown tantrums all through the actual wedding and reception, allowing Andy to see none of it.

(We did neither, by the way.)

Actually, the fits didn't start until after the processional, so Andy did get to see that.

Such as it was.

After all the sweat, blood, and tears I poured into making the music line up with the structure of the event... the slow, dignified procession of the first six bridesmaids... a simple, repeating theme, firmly established... tension builds as Heather walks, builds into positive angst as I process, four bars of as much tension as you can possibly get away with in a wedding processional... breaking suddenly into sweetness and light as the flower girl sprinkles loveliness and innocence. All tension is released... but it's really something of a prolonged deceptive cadence, because we're in the wrong key now. We started out in F major, now we're in the sub-mediant, D major. A little stretching of the melody, and we seamlessly transition into the key of E major, just a half step below our original tonic. The music is still sweet and innocent and pretty, but structurally we're in an area of such intense anticipation that Mozart would never have dared do such a thing. Once the flower girl has reached the front, the music accellerates through a positively dizzying chord progression, and there's a sense of vertigo... until suddenly the bride is standing at the back of the church on her father's arm, everyone stands up, and bells begin to peal... suddenly we're right back where we started, but so much richer and fuller... as she reaches the front the music softly returns to its initial simplicity, and underneath the final chord is a little abbreviated summation of our journey.

That was what was supposed to happen.

What really happened was that the musicians forgot the repeat, and the bridesmaids weren't all out by the time the bride's music had started, and it was really quite amazing that Sharon made it to the front before the music stopped. And nobody knew to stand up until she was halfway down, but they really couldn't see her anyway because of the eight bridesmaids still in the aisle.

It hurts.

A lot.

I worked so hard on this work of art. I poured so much of myself into it, at great cost. This piece of music mattered a lot to me... still does.

But for the actualization of it, I had to depend on others. Others who hadn't just poured three months of their lives into it, who weren't nearly so invested in it.

I think it's so special and meaningful to have dear friends play for weddings, rather than the cold perfection of professional strangers. I am a huge fan of amatuer music.

But it does present some problems. Because when your job isn't on the line, when you're just doing this as a favor for a friend, there's always going to be something higher priority going on.

Emily had family responsibilities. Not messing up Jonathan's nap schedule was the top priority for her, and so she left late in the morning, with no margin for error. When traffic inevitably went sour, she missed the musicians rehearsal altogether. They squeaked in just in time for the actual wedding rehearsal... and it was a fiasco.

Jessica had a big deal master class the week before, with a renowned violinist. The music for the master class was much harder than the music for the wedding... and a master class is a whole lot more intimidating than a friend's wedding. So she was busy with the master class, and hadn't touched the wedding music for a week. Unfortunately, I'd finished her final draft a week ago, and added some difficult passages. They weren't very difficult, but much harder than the parts she'd already practiced.

And she sight-read them at the rehearsal.

The problem wasn't with the quality of the musicians. The problem was that this event was part of their personal lives, not their professional lives. And personal lives are inherently complicated and multi-faceted, and there's a lot of potential for things to go wrong.

And of course, this all applies to me, as well. This music was a big deal to me, on a professional level, because if it went well, I had high hopes of obtaining paying gigs writing wedding music. But when it came to the actual rehearsal, I wasn't just the composer, I was also matron of honor. And so when the pianist asked for a tempo, three other people were vying for my attention, and I was in quite a hurry. So I gave him the tempo real quick.

As in twice as quick as it should have been.

All in all, though, I think it went far better than it might have, and for that I am thankful. It was not the spectacular high point that I had envisioned, but it wasn't a disaster, either. It was very pretty, and certainly quite an improvement over Here Comes the Bride.

And it was special precisely because it was done by real people who love Sharon in the midst of their real lives.

And in the end, Sharon and Jim are married, and that's what matters.

And I have lots of thoughts about that...

...but I'm an amateur blogger, and real life calls.

7.20.2006

Defiance Defeated

A certain passage had a measure flagrantly full of parallel fifths. Very much against the rules, and all that, but I liked the way it sounded. And so, as we examined the logistics of the score, Emily and I were remarked about the guilty pleasure we derive from flouting voice leading rules.

But of course, Emily doesn't have enough hands, and David doesn't have enough hands to cover for her. And Debra doesn't have enough hands to cover for them, either...

I breifly considered contacting the aquarium, to inquire about renting an octopus. Of course, we'd have to set up a round table for him, which might be a tad awkward, but "The Bells of the Round Table" has quite a ring to it, don't you think?

Then again, if I just take out the parallel fifths, the problem goes away.

And it sounds better, too.

But don't tell Dr. Browning I said so, okay?

7.19.2006

A conversation between bride and handbell player, as relayed to composer

"Aaauugh!!! She added bells! And what's this? Another piano?!"

"Oh, no, that's just Emily's handbell part."

"Um... and just how many hands does Emily have?"

Not quite enough. Which is why I'm afraid you're going to have to take over a few of her bells for her, David.

I hope you don't mind.

7.17.2006

No Pain Intended

"...your hourly traffic report is brought to you in part by 1-800-DENTIST. Ok, so here's the drill..."

7.15.2006


Photo courtesy of Daniel Peckham. Posted by Picasa

7.14.2006

Bedtime Bible Stories

"This boy is David. When he was just a few years older than you, he killed Goliath with a rock, chopped off his head, and picked it by the hair. It was pretty amazing."

"And please don't try this on your brother."

7.13.2006

Let it be known

that I hate finale.

Grrrr....

Why, why, why, can't I copy the violin part of score A onto the violin part of score B? Why must it insist on copying the piano part onto the violin part? And why can I only extract the piano part?

And above all... why, when I copy and paste the whole bloomin' thing, does it copy yesterday's edition, and refuse to reflect any recent changes whatsoever?

7.11.2006

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter refers to the amount requested to be paid to ______ as reflected on the payment stub contained in this envelope.

This amount cannot be exacted from anyone at this address for the following reasons:

1) The debt has been incurred by a Nathan A. Johnson. Please note that no such person resides at this address. There is a Nathan S. Johnston. Please note the differences in the spelling of the names.

2) Nathan S. Johnston is a minor. Specifically, he is 2 1/2 years old. He does not have a bank account, nor does he have access to any means of convincing creditors that he would be able to make good on any debt whatsoever.

A medical record from Nathan's place of birth has been enclosed. Further evidence of his identity, age, etc. can be provided in small claims court if necessary.

Sincerely,
Andrew Johnston

7.10.2006

Funnier in context.

Funny enough on its own... but oh so much funnier when Mr. Wuggidy nods sagely in sympathetic agreement.

"Stinky. Stinky."

7.09.2006

"So which part are you working on?"

"Oh, still the same spot as last night."

"You mean the part where the groomsmen tear off their secretly velcroed tuxes, revealing their metalic MC Hammer pants, and dance into place?"

"Exactly."

7.07.2006

Adjusted Expectations

Everything takes nearly twice as long as you'd expect.

I know this all too well.

But this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that nothing takes quite twice as long as you'd expect.

Or maybe it's just that things take a reasonable amount of time before the kids wake up.

Whatever the case, there's time for a shower after all.

Or would be... except that I blogged.

7.03.2006

The Dress . . . es.

In case you didn't notice, I haven't been blogging much lately. This is partly due to the fact that I'm trying to figure out how to make an extended modulation into the submediant make sense. I'm not sure that you're really supposed to modulate into the submediant... but the music has to modulate into the submediant, there's no way around it. Which is exactly what I get for trying to use such avant-garde techniques on such a traditional-sounding piece. I have so many structures holding the music together, that it is quite in danger of falling apart. Too many cooks spoil the soup, and all that. I'll figure it out... I think... and if not, it's still very pretty, and will still hold together much better than a gorgeous classical masterpiece chopped up to fit the time constraints of the occasion. It will all be okay.

But I haven't been blogging much lately.

The other reason I haven't been blogging lately is that I've been busy showering. No, not that kind of showering... though, given the heat, that too! I've been throwing bridal showers... two of them, and just one week apart! Both were lots of fun, thanks to much help from Sheri and Becka and Ingrid and Heather and Mrs. Harrington, and no thanks at all to the heat.

My goodness, it's nice to breathe again.

But the real reason I haven't been blogging is The Dress . . . es.

Sharon was in Cameroon when she got engaged. Which was very lovely and romantic. A moonlight walk on the beach is always a lovely setting for a proposal, but equatorial moonlight is something far more special than anything you can find here in Southern California. Especially when the almanac declares it to be the brightest full moon in 18 years. Add in all the miles her true love flew, to see her and to see the place where she'd been all through their email-based courtship... well, it was simply perfect.

Except from a wedding-planning standpoint, of course.

Since Sharon was still on the mission field until the end of May, Heather selected fabric for the bridesmaids dresses. Sharon wanted us to each wear dresses that we liked, and could wear again, so she told us to each pick out our own pattern, and have it made in the same fabric. Heather found a lovely hunter green crepe-backed satin at Jo-Ann's. A standard fabric, they'd carried it continuously for the past 8 years, at least.

They discontinued it within the month.

Heather had her dress. Ingrid had $80 worth of hunter green crepe-backed satin, ready to be made into a dress. Angela Suzanne and Kate Harrington had bought pre-made dresses in the same color. And Stacia, Angela Hope, Becka, and I had no idea what to do.

Stacia ordered swatches from an online fabric company, and we waited with bated breath to see if they'd match. We still don't know if the fabrics match, but we do know that they take a very, very long time to process orders. I'm fairly certain it's been over a month, and we still haven't seen the swatch.

But all that's moot by now.

When we were up at the Harringtons' for the bachelorette party, we started talking about bridesmaid dresses. Kate ran upstairs and brought hers down to show us.

It was lovely. Simple princess lines, with tasteful beadwork around the neck, and an adorable "envelope back." It will be beautiful on her.

But it wasn't anything like what I expected. I hadn't actually seen a swatch of fabric, but this was a very different color from anything I would have called "hunter green."

"Wow. So is this the color we're doing? I haven't seen a swatch yet."

Neither had Kate, actually. But she figured, hunter green is hunter green, so it should be okay.

Perhaps.

Perhaps not.

But in any case, it definitely wasn't hunter green. I would have called it leaf green. Ingrid would have called it kelly green.

After much research and brainstorming, I finally learned that David's Bridal calls it "Emerald," and that it is part of their "color expressions" line. Which means that they have a wide range of styles in that color, one of which was much better suited for me, both in terms of figure and budget. (I'm petite... in both departments!) It's also chiffon, rather than satin, and so will tie in the texture of Angela Suzanne's dress. Which is in the original color, but a different fabric.

Sharon and Jim stopped by on their way to Fresno, and watched the wuggies while I picked up my dress. It actually comes with a scarf, which will be quite convenient for Becka as she tries to find a matching fabric for herself and Stacia to use.

Four of us will be in hunter, four in emerald. We'll be staggered, so it's every other, every other. When we held the swatch against my dress, we were amazed at what a gorgeous color combination it is. I think it will actually look more pulled-together than everybody in the same shade. Certainly it will look better on Becka and I than hunter green.

It's going to be lovely.

Really.

But oh, the trauma.

That mocha frappuccino last night was much needed. And it was good to have some time alone with Andy, without being the slightest bit tempted to talk his ear off about boring bridal shower details. Thankfully, he didn't mind so much hearing about how well it went, aside from the stifling heat, how good I feel about accomplishing this logistical feat, even though I still have no idea why it is so complicated, and how glad I am that it is over and done. Probably he didn't mind because little as he may care about flower arrangements and games, he can actually relate to that last sentiment. He's glad it's over, too.

As I sat there under the hunter green umbrella, I looked up at the bright green letters over my head.

Yup. The starbucks colors.

Exactly the same combination as the bridesmaid dresses.

I'll take that as aesthetic confirmation.