Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dear Camp Counselor

A couple hours of my day were spent filling out forms for five children so that they can attend camp at Camp Calumet Lutheran this Summer. Part of the filling-out process involves the kids completing a "Camper's Letter to the Staff," which happens to be on the flip side of the "Parent's Letter to the Staff." 

In the Camper's Letter to the Staff, we find out just how odd my children are. one in particular stood out this year - our newest camper, just-turned-six-year-old Alia. Her counselors may fear her before they meet her. 

Here's a glimpse into the mind of my unique child:

I am coming to Camp Calumet because: I'm finally six and I've been looking forward to all the fun things at Day Camp for two years!

What I look forward to doing most is: going to the beach and Drama Camp.

What I don't want to do at Calumet is: drown in the lake.

I am afraid of: drowning. (Really, Mama, they need to realize that people can drown. Even in an inch of water. Although I'm fine in an inch of water. Or six inches. Or twenty inches. Just not. over. my. head. EVER. Otherwise I'm fine. But not in a canoe. Maybe a double kayak. The part about am I very quiet - I'm definitely a no on that.)

I'd like my counselors to know this about me: I like mismatched clothes; and Coren, who is also in Day Camp, is my brother; and I like dead things.

I like dead things. She INSISTED I include her love of dead things. This is important to who I am, Mama. I am a person who likes dead things.

I tried, in my line and a half of "Things which we feel deserve special attention," to explain Alia's fascination with the inner workings of animals' bodies and death, in hopes that they read my letter before hers. I was tempted to just write, "Be afraid. Be very afraid," but I resisted.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mad Hatter

We planned, we plotted, we shopped, cleaned, baked and constructed. We decorated, mulled, brewed, and decorated some more. Finally all was ready for a Mad Hatter Tea Party. 

'Twas no just any Mad Hatter Tea Party, but Alia's Mad Hatter Tea, in celebration of Six

First, she said, we'll need hats ... and things with which to decorate them. So Daddy cut and taped times fifteen, crafting magnificent white forms ready for embellishment. Mama scoured stores for duct tape, patterned and plain, and feathers and ribbon with which to adorn our fantastical creations. 

Then, food. Veggie straws and dried snap peas; cantaloupe and honeydew; tiny cherry pies, with one cherry per pie; mini muffins of lemony blueberry goodness or of the pumpkin chocolate chip variety; and blood oranges, just because they're cool.

And to drink - tea. Many varieties of tea - chai, peppermint, lavender, Earl Grey, lemon, peach ginger, chamomile - so many choices! And cider - mulled cider, for those who don't want tea. 

Tea cups - there must be tea cups galore. From thrift store to thrift store we dashed, collecting cups and mugs to suit the occasion. 

But what about party favors? Hats and teacups, of course!!!

Add balloons, streamers, and other decorations and it seems we've concocted a party. 

Add friends and family, hat crafting, 

food, food and more food, 

and then blow out the candles for a love-filled celebration bursting with creativity and fun. Happy Six, my Mad Hatter Girl! Thank you to all our friends who helped make this day special!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Too Much

It's all been too much lately. Everything.

Having to put off my Remicade infusion - that magical elixir that keeps my psoriatic arthritis in check - for a week due to snow; autoimmune system gone haywire - too much for my body to handle.

A wonderful snow day with my family, full of house cleaning and organization, and laughter and cuddles and making memories - too much, my heart overflows.

Housework, home repairs, cleaning, reorganizing, decluttering, making this house feel more open as the walls seem to be closing in during this long, gray, cold Winter - too much work.

Working as a family to create a beautiful space; brainstorming together remedies for Winter blues - too much amazing working togetherness to wrap my mind around.

Tax refund joy mixed with, whoa, wait, the money is gone already with home repair and appliance replacement needs and new tires and health improvement items not covered by insurance - too much to fix and to buy and not enough money to go around.

That we can fix things in desperate need of fixing, give children more space, and give me peace of mind - too much gratitude to be contained.

Dietary changes for two of us, restricting our already restricted diet, creating more expense and more work for my malfunctioning body - too much.

Feeling better in my body, healthier, more energetic, and finally losing weight again - too much good is coming from this change in eating habits to turn back now. 

My voice, gone. At least two days a week, I can barely speak and my once-soprano voice can barely squeak out alto. The first available appointment with the specialist, in April. Too much time to wait.

Listening to my daughter sing, my heart rejoices. That I can sing even a bit of this Lenten music makes my spirit soar. The beauty of my daughter's voice. the music, and the lyrics are too much to be explained in mere words.

Life, lately, has been too much - but there is a balance there that helps me appreciate the blessings more and worry about the struggles less. The secret is to find too much gratitude and joy to balance out too much stress and struggle. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pixie Six

She's six. 

My youngest child is six years old today. Our surprise child, she has brought so much light, joy, sass, mischievousness, and love to our lives. She is truly a unique child.

Alia is princess dresses and dissection kits; hula hooping and skateboarding; carefully beading necklaces and attempting daring stunts. She's cuteness and intelligence and toughness and gentleness; choir girl and rock star. 

She earned her nicknames Destructo-Baby and Danger Girl, but she's also one of the kindest, most gentle people I know. Rarely afraid, when she is, she meets her fears head on. 

This birthday is important. It's the big SIX. I'm not sure why this is such a huge milestone in my mind, but it is.

In my family it opens up new possibilities. Six is the age at which our children are allowed to shave their heads. Now, one wouldn't think a family would need to assign an age for such things, but Haley, our older daughter, wanted short spiky hair early on and we asked her to wait until she was at least six. Coren shaved his into a mohawk and then completely bald at 6. Alia has spent a year planning her six-year-old hairdo- a "girlhawk."

My Skella Girl, Girl of Big Dreams, my sassy, spectacular, scary six-year-old - I love you more than words can say. You are my heart. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Art of Bowling

We love to bowl. It may just be the only activity that every single member of my family enjoys. We don't do it nearly enough, but when we do, we always have a blast. That I'm able to bowl is a huge blessing - for years I sat and watched everyone else because my body just couldn't handle it. 

Holding that bowling ball in my hand today, I felt amazing - clumsy, but amazing. I didn't do very well, but had fun anyway. And I learned a few things along the way. 

The first is that watching my children bowl is just as fun as bowling, if not more. The looks on their faces as they launch the the ball down the lane, the crazy moves they do to urge the ball in one direction or another, and the celebratory dances when pins are successfully knocked over are priceless. 

The second is that bowling involves more muscle systems than you'd think. Not only did I emerge with a sore arm, but my hip, knee, lower back, and shoulder weren't too happy with me either. 

The third is all about style. We all have a different bowling style. Some roll the ball as quickly and as hard as possible in hopes that the pins will jump out of the way. Some have a super-fancy approach that results in an utterly unpredictable ball launch. Others roll the ball in such a way that one has plenty of time in which to question whether or not it will in fact make it to the pins, and if it does, if it will have enough force to knock any over. 

And the final lesson of the day is that it's much too much fun to take pictures of people while they're bowling. 

Alia: Approach, roll, dance

Coren: Quick approach, launch the ball, spin around and run

Alex: fast approach, forceful roll, mentally urges ball in proper direction

Daddy: Looks like he knows what he's doing

Haley: Graceful - appears to be more figure skating than bowling

Mama: Feeling blessed to be able to bowl (and for some reason, inexplicably cold)

Zachary: Not sure whether he's launching the ball or himself at the pins
Daddy, the only one of us with a clue of what they're doing, won that game. Coren was seven points behind. Mama was beaten by Alia by one point. That, however, didn't really matter to any of us. What mattered was the laughter, the fun, and the memories made. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Thrift Store Shark

A baby shark. A real baby shark - in clear liquid in a glass jar - at the thrift store. 

Possibly the strangest (non-clothing) item I've seen there yet.

Keep Calm (or maybe not if they're now carrying sharks) and Thrift On!

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Buzz

I can tell that Winter is getting to me by the number of things I discover about myself every day. Perhaps it's because I get overly philosophical on these seemingly neverending cold, gray days. Maybe it's because I spend too much time cooped up in a house with too many children. I could just be going crazy. Who knows...

Or perhaps it's because I spend much too much time on this thing called the internet. Just this week I found out that my career of choice should be Humanitarianism and that my parenting style is Free Ranger. I should apparently live in Hogsmeade and am Aberforth Dumbledore. Or, should I attend Hogwarts,  I would be in Ravenclaw and coincidentally would be Luna Lovegood. 

On Star Trek, I would be Bones; on TNG, either Troi or Beverly Crusher. I've got a Hobbit of a personality, and apparently in "real life" I should be living in Portland.  I am also Mahna Mahna. I'm a hippie, my 80's pop hit is "These Dreams" by Heart, and I am the film genre Fantasy. If I were food, I would be sushi; if I were a Pixar movie, I would be Brave. Depending on how badly my OCD is acting up, I'm either an INFP or INFJ personality type. 

Let's not forget that my superpower is healing; I identify most with Hestia - goddess of hearth and home; my color palette is sunset; and Cyndi Lauper is my inner pop diva. 

If not for the internet, I might never know who or what I am and where I belong. Either that or I need to find a good book to read. Or for Spring to hurry up already.