Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My baby (squeal!)

No, not this one. Though Wendy is pretty. But I only took her picture with my baby.

This is my baby (and my reading material to go with her).

And this is my very sad and jealous Canon. It still gets to hang out in my purse, I guess.

In my low-lighted living room (seriously, I need a lamp or 12) the shot of Pixel (the cat)just doesn't do well with the Lumix P&S. The flash lit up her eyes too much (and red eye fixes don't acknowlege the yellow eyes).

But no flash with the Lumix means I can't see the cat...

But my new baby, she's a performer. Now I can see Pixel (and pixels).

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas morning

Do you see all 5 kids? With that much paper and color they kind of blend in a little.

Our kids were amazing darlings and actually let us sleep till almost 8. I had cautioned them the night before not to wake each other up (I didn't want cranky tired munchkins on Christmas) but apparently they decided that meant waking us up was also out. What sweethearts. They even gave me time to make coffee before digging in. Seriously, Merry Christmas to me. If that's not restraint then I don't know what is.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas on Valentine's Day?

Okay, well, my family is unconventional. But we all knew that, yes? Due to conflicts in timing this year (the downside of a very large family) it looks like I will be having Christmas with the kids and Eric's family on Christmas day and then Christmas with my sisters and everyone else on Valentine's day. My little sister jokingly combined the names into Valentristmas (though maybe Valentmas is easier to say?). Anyway, so if we do that then I think I need to put up a tree for this but decorate it for Valentine's instead of Christmas and put a big heart on the top of the tree. What do you think?

Here are a couple trees and an ornament I found online for ideas. I think it could work.

Pictures from here, here and here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A frost in Reno

Sometimes in the winter we get a pretty heavy fog here, which is unusual for a desert. Unlike regular fog, though, this is an ice fog (called pogonip, meaning cloud) and everything gets covered in little ice crystals. With our temperatures reaching an uncommon -10 in some areas this week it's hung around for a couple of days. I'm told pogonip is terrible on your lungs (ice crystals can scratch up the lung and throat linings) but, despite that, it is rather pretty.

Looking towards the sky the fog looks more like it's a snow of teeny tiny glitter. The ice crystals sparkle and catch the light and they are so fine and tiny that all of the air around you seems to shimmer. So cover your mouth with a scarf and drive carefully but take a moment and look around, too, because it'd be a shame to miss the view.

This was the scene at the elementary school yesterday morning about 10 minutes before most of the kids started arriving. Don't you just want to climb that?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Best present EVER

Over at the idea room the question has been posed of what was the best present you ever gave or received. I can think of a few really great gifts but the very best one ever came from my little sister. The picture above came long after the present but the present makes me think of it and vice versa.

When I was in junior high I remembered part of a song but didn't know what it was called or who sang it but it was romantic and beautiful. I wrote down part of the chorus (the part I could remember) on a small piece of notebook paper so I would remember to ask someone later if they recognized it. I wrote down "And it's funny you should happen to walk into my life 'Cause I was just thinking of you". And though my mother and little sister said it sounded familiar, no one recognized it.

Every couple of years I would come across it and try to find the song again. I had done online searches but online didn't cover as much then and the line returned no results and neither did my guess (which turned out to be correct) as to the title. I used the lookup books in the music stores and called radio stations trying to identify it and though the DJs said it sounded familiar they couldn't place it. I could NOT find it. Then, when I was about 25, more than a decade later, my little sister found it. And she gave me a present of the full lyrics to the song and the album it was on. I was so thrilled I was jumping up and down and started crying. I then listened to the song on repeat for about 12 hours.

Though I don't normally post lyrics to songs this one was special to me and so I'll share.

Lari White ~ Just Thinking

I was just thinking
   how nice it would be
To have someone to kiss me good night
I was just thinking
   what I really need
Is someone to hold me real tight

I was just thinking
   of finding somebody I could mean everything to
And it's funny you should happen to walk into my life
'Cause I was just thinking of you

I was just thinking
   of a walk in the rain
Underneath an umbrella for two
I was just thinking
   of the sound of my name
On the lips of a lover so true

I was just thinking
Of a moment of magic that lasts a whole lifetime through
And it's funny you should happen to walk into my life
'Cause I was just thinking of you

I've felt your tender touch in every romance I've read
And I've seen your sweet smile in my dreams
There's a feeling I get, like we've already met
And it's almost too good to believe

I was just thinking
   of a moment of magic
That lasts a whole lifetime through
And it's funny you should happen to walk into my life
'Cause I was just thinking of you

What was your best present ever?

7 years old

7 years ago there was a baby

Who got annoyed with picture taking for a while

Until he realized there were worse ways to get attention

My small but mighty little man

With all the youthful spirit a mother could ask for

And last Thursday (the 10th) my beautiful boy turned 7. And on Saturday in the midst of this:

There was a party for the little artist.

And the presents were opened

And wishes were made

And a good time was had by all. (Though daddy needs to practice his party face)

Happy Birthday, Glenn!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quack! Quack!

Normally I am not a sports fan. I am, however, an Oregon Ducks fan. Today is the Civil War game with Oregon State Losers Beavers and which ever team wins gets the Rose Bowl. Go Ducks!

To give you some family history, one of my brother-in-laws was the Oregon Duck. Yup, my sister married the duck. Another sister married a Beaver's fan traitor so we get some pretty good rivalry as evidenced above. It'll be a good game.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What it all means (or the title anyway)

This morning I was reading Beth over on Be Yourself...Everyone Else is Taken and she is talking about the meaning of her blog title along with many people over at Synch-ro-ni-zing. It occurs to me that I've never really explained my blog, either the URL or the title, so this seems like the perfect opportunity.

indigoamethyst came first. This has been my handle for some time starting with MySpace (yes, I have one of those) and then here and also on Facebook and Twitter. The amethyst is my birthstone but I'm not very fond of the very pale watery amethyst. I am in love, though, with the really deep amethyst. Indigo is a very deep shade for an amethyst and my favorite. And although it doesn't always come out in my blog there are deep facets to me too (somewhere), much like an amethyst which is reflective and doesn't always show the hidden depths, or at least I like to think so.

Turning Stones came later. I love stones and rocks and, much like the ocean, feel a pull towards them. I have a few jars throughout the house of rocks in all types. Part of the reason is just the tie to earthy nature. I think of rocks and immediately have the feeling of hiking along a trail and looking out at a view and my heart is so full in an instant that I could burst. To someone who has never felt this it's hard to explain but only really beautiful nature (a stretched out valley, a wide ocean) and my children evoke this response in me. In that moment I could scream with joy and burst into tears at the same time. I want to spin in a circle with my hands stretched to the blue sky and laugh or take off running down a hill. Maybe this means I'm a little nuts (shocker, right?) but I am immensely joyful and immensely sad in the same moment. I LOVE that feeling.

Turning Stones is also about self discovery. As a child I played outside in the forest a lot and I quickly discovered that there is always something under every rock. And it's never the same. Oh, it may look very similar, but it's not the same. And by turning over the stones you get to see a whole world that you've previously missed noticing. I have now been divorced for about a year and a half. And in that time I have been continuously turning over the stones and finding parts of me that I had lost in the last 10 years or had never discovered in the first place. I've always been pretty sure of myself but I'm learning so much more every day. I learn about me as a person, as a mom, as a partner, a daughter, a friend.

My blog is a bit of a mishmash of personal stories, children, crafts and how to make them, decorating, and childhood memories and the photos I've taken along the way but I think the big picture is that it's me. I'm a mishmash of all of these things and then some and to be true to me this blog is as well. Turning Stones is my reminder to never stop looking outward at all of the beauty in this world, to never stop looking behind the ugly bits of it to find the treasures underneath, and to never stop looking inside of me and discovering there too.

What stones have you turned over recently? I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ornaments, family style

Baked Salt Dough Ornaments

Do not eat the "cookies", which taste REALLY bad. Just ask Eric. Heehee. (In my defense I told him what was in it and that it would taste awful before he tried it.)

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water

Mix ingredients together and knead. Roll out flat and stamp with cookie cutters. Place on an ungreased sheet and bake for 2 hours at 250 degrees (F). You could let them just dry out like play dough but that would take too long and I'm impatient.

After the ornaments are finished cooling lay out paints and brushes and give the kids painting shirts. Have fun! Oh, and butcher paper or newspaper would also be a pretty good idea. Just sayin'.

We have bought 4 little trees for the kids' bedrooms and they'll get to decorate them with their own special ornaments. I helped paint for Keith since he was still napping but everyone else painted their own and we had a ball. The kids ended the evening covered in paint (hence the painting shirts) but it all washes off the kids easily enough so that's okay.

The painting in the living room is finally finished. Yay! Yay! Yay! (Not that I'm relieved or anything). I have the garland up on the staircase and the tree will go up this week. Then I will have pictures of the painting and Christmas all rolled into one because it's, um, more efficient that way. Yes, that is the real reason and it has nothing to do with the toy tornado that ripped through the house this weekend...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Made my morning!

I was over at GreyStreetGirl's site this morning and she pointed out one of the funniest things I've seen in a while. They have actually translated most of the bible into lolcat speak over at Oh, and I want this shirt!

Here is an excerpt from Genesis 1:

Boreded Ceiling Cat makinkgz Urf n stuffs

1 Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.

2 Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.

3 At start, no has lyte. An Ceiling Cat sayz, i can haz lite? An lite wuz.4 An Ceiling Cat sawed teh lite, to seez stuffs, An splitted teh lite from dark but taht wuz ok cuz kittehs can see in teh dark An not tripz over nethin.5 An Ceiling Cat sayed light Day An dark no Day. It were FURST!!!1

Why are you still here? Go check it out!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's almost time

My favorite holiday is almost upon us and I don't mean Thanksgiving (with a working single mom we just had mac n' cheese for Turkey Day more than once anyway). But Christmas is another matter all together. It's about family and being together. It's about those very pretty lights and childhood memories that warm me up on a cold gray day. About that incredibly annoying chirping bird Christmas ornament that we all love to hate and the bubble lights that I could watch for hours. And all of those great Christmas traditions that I need to pass on to my own kids.

For years mom made Lee and I a doll each Christmas (the clowns above and the pink and blue dolls below) and I think I'd like to find a pattern for Erin this year. Instead of putting names on individual stockings my parents put everyone's presents in one giant stocking and then a scrap of paper taped to the mantel with names on the style of paper that was ours. We then dumped it all out together and started digging into the pile for the matching paper that wrapped up gum, jacks, and silly putty.

Now as an adult I'm wondering what happened. Christmas was magic and memories and now it's scheduling and negotiating. I am probably going to have 4 different Christmas gatherings with family this year (at home with the kids, with mom, with dad, and with E's family) and it makes me a little sad. I want my kids to have the magic that is Christmas and Christmaspalooza just feels lacking in the spirit of it somehow, never mind that part of it may not happen until February between one parent's trip and another's surgery. Is it still Christmas if it happens in Feb. because it doesn't feel like it...

I don't know. Maybe once I get the tree up on Friday I will be able to find the Christmas spirit in all of it because I want my magic back.

And these happy little faces are going to get their magic and tradition because childhood has no do-overs.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Boo on Walmart's color matcher

I normally use Walmart paint. It's a lot cheaper (only $13 per gallon) and it has generally held up well but on occasion it's very frustrating. Like this week.

We picked out two colors of blue for the living room. This room (including the attached entry way and halls) is using 8 gallons of paint. Seriously. 8 GALLONS. Anyway, we got a couple of sample cans to figure out where we want the lighter blue and where we want the dark blue. We picked one large wall and the upstairs hallway for the dark blue. Well it turns out that when mixing the quart cans Walmart's fandeck match is correct and we get the right blue. When mixed in gallons, rather than say it can't do that, it makes purple.

The red circle is the gallon size, the blue circle the quart size. Do they look like the same color to you? Because apparently WalMart thinks they're the same.

Unfortunately we had already painted the upstairs hallway (don't mind the bad cut-in or the unfinished picture in the middle) by the time we discovered this (thinking it would dry differently) so as you can see the room now has a purple wall. Dammit!

So now we have to either buy 8 quarts instead of two gallons (at a really stupid price) or go try the color matcher somewhere else since I already had the room cut in with the right blue and I am NOT climbing up a 20' ladder for 2 hours again. In the meantime my living room looks like a serious bomb went off. Argh!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thoughts of Snow (and some Beaded Snowflakes)

I was in love with snow. I was. For many years I lived in Oregon, in the Willamette Valley, which is absolutely beautiful because it's so green and alive. It's so green because it rained all the time and while living there I desperately wished for a little snow to change things up a bit in the winters. We hung crafted snowflakes from our ceilings every year (they were ginormous) and my mother said that they were our "snow prayers". I wore a necklace all winter long with a snowflake charm on it and I waited. And when the water would finally freeze into those rare fluffy bits I would go outside and enjoy how beautiful it was and dance in the snow.

Now that I live in Nevada I get snow in the winter, every winter, and somewhere in the 6+ years I've been here I started to not love the snow. I've been very unfond of being stuck in it and the accident on the ice (my poor truck). I was stuck thinking "it's cold and wet and when will it be summer already?". And then a couple of weeks ago I remembered that I loved snow. And it's all starting to come back. So this year I will hang my snow prayers from the ceiling and when it finally snows I will be outside dancing in it. Join me?

I've also included a quick DIY how-to for Beaded Snowflakes. These are very simple to make with beads and wire and the pictures truly don't do justice to how lovely they are when they catch the sunlight.

First you start with the wire. I believe this is around 20 gauge but unfortunately the spool isn't labeled anymore so I'm not positive. The important thing is that whatever wire you pick must fit through your beads and be strong enough to hold them up. For an 8 pointed star (pictured above) you will need 4 wires each about 7 inches long. For a 6 pointed star (pictured in blue at the bottom) only 3 wires are needed.

Using a thinner wire (I used 26 gauge for this) wrap the middle of the thicker wires together until they don't move around much. This doesn't have to be neat as it can add a little extra visual interest and look like another bead. At this point the wires can still slide sideways but once we add the beads and twist the ends that won't happen anymore.

Here's a closeup of the middle:

Start adding your beads. Try to use a few different sizes/colors to mix it up a little and add some interest.

When you get to the end of the wire use a pair of round nosed pliers to round off the leftover wire. This will also give you a place to insert string to hang the snowflake.

Here is an example of a simple six-pointed star. This project is also good for keeping little hands busy though you may have to help them make the original form since it can be a little tricky to wrap the thinner wire while holding the 4 thicker wires in place.

Add a little ribbon and your creations are now ready to adorn your tree, catch some light in the windows, or hang from the ceiling as you wish for new snow.

Let me know if you make these as I'd love to see what you've done.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What if your name wasn't your name?

With the passing of my last grandparent recently I've had grandparents on my mind a lot. This man here was my mother's father, Louie Glen. Grandpa was a farmer in Oregon and my mother was raised on that farm. We all spent a lot of time there and one thing we learned is that there is nothing like a potato soup when the potatoes and everything else is fresh picked. Yum. We also learned to look at the back of the lettuce leaf and not just the front when checking for slugs. I think my little sister may still have a little slug stuck in her teeth...

When Grandpa was born his own grandfather had wanted him to be named George Washington since he already had a family tree named after this countries fore fathers (Thomas Jefferson, etc) and also because this baby was born on Independence Day. His mother, however, said no. This baby was to be named Louie Glen and, after what is suspected to have been some argument, he gave in and let it be. Or so she thought.

When my grandpa was getting along in age it occurred to him that he should get a social security card. His mother was still alive and doing so while she was still here would make it a little easier. The paperwork was filled out and sent off but instead of a social security number he received a letter. It said that a baby boy had been born to the people he said are his parents on the day he said he was born. BUT his name was NOT Louie Glen. Upon further investigation he discovered that his grandfather had filled out his birth certificate more than 60 years ago and named him George Washington. All of these years he had been going by this name, raised his children (and given one the middle name of Glen) and run his business and had never known that his name wasn't really his name. Now, because of the business, he had his name legally changed to Louie Glen. My middle child is named for him and my uncle (who passed shortly before Glenn was born) and I think it a little funny that he was named for someone who wasn't really named that for most of his life.

What would you do if you discovered your name wasn't really your name? Would you change it to what you thought it was? Leave it? If you have to change it anyway would you pick something new?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Always trouble when those two are together...

I've known "Mackey" for as long as I can remember. She has always been my mother's best friend and my other mother. She never had her own children and the joke is that she spent a couple months living with us while my mother was in another state for training and that after that she didn't want kids anymore. Well, it was mostly a joke.

It was not safe to let her and my mother go anywhere without supervision as they always got into some kind of trouble, some of which it's probably not safe to mention even here. ;-) Once they went out to buy a pack of cigarettes and didn't come home until several hours later after arresting the store owner for selling liquor to minors (they were both law enforcement).

When I was around age 10ish my mother decided that she wanted to build a garden with a rock wall. To do this she needed a lot of flat and wide rocks and she knew just which mountain to get them on. So she loaded up my little sister and I into the back of the Ford Ranger pickup truck (the bed, not back of the cab) and she and Mackey jumped into the front and off we went. At that time of year it was still snowing up there and the snow was a couple feet high in some places. She drove to the top of this mountain and turned around the truck. Then my little sister and I got out and put down the tailgate. She drove down the mountain at about 3-5 miles per hour as Lee and I ran behind grabbing snowy rocks (with our bare, unmittened hands) and tossing them into the back of the truck. Our hands were freezing and red but we did this for miles.

Eventually deciding that a ton of rock was enough (in a half-ton pickup, mind you) she allowed us to get back into the bed of the truck to ride back down the mountain. We were now sitting on a large pile of cold wet rocks with no heater. So we begged. We asked mom and Mackey to let us sit up front but the seat was only meant for 3 and so they said no. But we kept pounding on the window at regular intervals and asking again. Eventually we wore them down and they allowed us to get in the front.

We started down the mountain again and Lee and I started warming up. Then I noticed something funny on the hood. There was an orange spot on the hood of our green truck. And it was growing. I asked my mother why the hood was turning orange and she whipped the truck off the road and hit the brakes so fast I was wishing we'd had a fourth seat belt. She commanded us to immediately get out of the truck and run to the tree line as apparently the brakes were now on fire.

Mom and Mackey knew not to open the hood as they would only be feeding the fire a better supply of oxygen. But they had coffee cups and they threw the coffee up under the wheel well to try and douse the flames. Up in the trees Lee and I found a couple of discarded 7-11 cups and we ran down to use them to scoop up puddle water to help with the flames. We managed to put out the fire but now we were stranded on a snowy mountain, miles from help and behind the forest service gates, with a broken truck. And it was freezing and getting later in the afternoon.

Luckily a man came by on his bicycle. What he was doing up there I'll never know. My mother tried to yell to get his attention as he went right on by. Then she changed to yelling some very colorful words... As he got a few hundred feet past us he turned around and looked back. Then my mother recognized him as someone she had arrested a few months back (not sure what for). He hadn't responded because he's deaf and hadn't heard her yelling. He came back and we managed to communicate that we needed help and he should go to the forest service station for help.

Well, the station was closed (being a weekend) but I guess he managed to get a hold of someone who tried to call out the ranger on duty. Unfortunately, that was my mother who, of course, couldn't be reached. So they called the sheriff, who was my step-father. He had started to worry a couple hours ago when we hadn't returned on time like we were supposed to. Now he got a call about two women and a couple of children stranded on a mountain with a truck that had caught fire.

When he arrived the expressions he went through were completely priceless. At first he was all business. His face said "I'm the sheriff and I'm in charge here". Then he saw us. His face turned to immediate worry as he realized it was us and wanted to make sure everyone was okay. Then he saw that we were okay and his face turned to rage with an exclamation of "What the hell did you do to my truck!?!".

It turned out later that the brake pads for that year of Ranger pickup could be put in backwards and the shop had done just that. My mother swears that this is the reason that the truck caught on fire and not because she was driving down a mountain while carrying a ton of rock in a half-ton pickup and riding the brakes. I'll let you decide. Either way, we refused to help in any of her later rock wall projects.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Owl and Elephant collage

I found this idea from Martha Stewart's website via Mod Podge Rocks. The instructions are actually for taking paper and Mod Podging it onto a piece of wood. I instead used textured paper for the entire collage (including the backing) and then used an 8x8 frame. And I used plain old Elmer's glue. They are a beginning to livening up the first section of the kid's bathroom (This is just the sink area. The toilet and shower are behind another door).