Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lovely language

I love language. My own use of English is probably not perfect(it is not my native language) but I do my best to respect the language and to use it both correct and creatively. Now and again I fail, especially when it comes to spelling, but at least I try. It annoys me to no end to see people write 'thru' instead of through, as if saving those three letters will save the economy. And let's not even start on text message writing. Text message writing is only suitable for one medium: text messages. It is certainly not suitable in an email to your economics professar at the university, even if he is too kind to cut your grades for it.
You wouldn't believe the way some of the emails my beloved husband gets are formulated. And those emails are written by university students.

A few months ago I was reading an article about swearing and was rather amazed at someones comment who said that while excessive swearing was silly, if he stubbed his toe, he wasn't going to say "Oh gosh, I stubbed my toe" but "Oh -expletive unsuitable for this blog- I -expletiveagain- stubbed my -expletive once more- toe". I will admit that if I stub my toe I also do not say "Oh gosh, I stubbed my toe". Usually I will say something like "Aaaaaawwwww!" while hopping on one foot, which might not be elegant but I do not think it is offensive to anyone.

It always delights me therefor to see a nicely turned phrase or a creative use of words in simple daily conversation or on a blog. I am utterly convinced that the way he used language was one of the reasons why I fell in love with my husband. That might sound like a pretty superficial reason, but just like the way we dress ourselves tells people something about what we value in life, so does the way we express ourselves through words. Even now, after three years of marriage I sometimes need to cross the room to give him a kiss simply because he casually used a word that other people would have to look up in a dictionary.
I plan to raise Joseph with plenty of lovely big, strange and archaic words in his vocabulary, even if it might get him the nickname 'walking dictionary' in school. (not that anyone ever would have labeled his mommy such, would they?)
It is always lovely to see other people who are doing the same thing. Wendy over at The Delighted Life is one of my heroines. I look at her blog frequently and am always delighted when there is a story about Agent K's vocabulary. If you are reading this, Wendy, the incident with the shopping cart at Target is grifted in my mind forever.
I hope that Joseph likes older women. I wouldn't mind him courting Agent K in say oh... a few decades!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Getting through pregnancy gracefully

This is my second pregnancy and my second attempt to manage to look nice and tidy and yes.. even elegant throughout. This does not work out every day, but I keep trying.
A pregnancy wardrobe that fits your ideas of elegance and modesty is a good start. While I did cave in and bought a pair of pregnancy jeans this year (I really am not a jeans person) I try to combine them with crisp white blouses for a more elegant look.
Wrap skirts from Tznius actually work for quite a while if you put the waistband above or under your belly. They are so wide and long that you don't sacrifice modesty. In the picture above you can see me wearing one under a white blouse at more than eight months pregnant, standing in the ocean. At that stage of the pregnancy.. every attempt at elegance is a long stretch, but.. it still worked somewhat!
During my last pregnancy there were some lovely empire waist dresses with a hemline just a few fingers below the knee that were in fashion, but this time, it seems to be all about the maxi dress. That's fine by me since I love long dresses and skirts. I have bought one long black one and most often pair it with another tunic top or that white crisp blouse since it has spaghetti straps which makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. The neckline is surprisingly high though, so with just a little vest or shawl it works equally well. Except that as the mother of a todler, you can forget about having a shawl gracefully draped over your shoulders and keeping it there for any significant length of time. So a little shrug or vest will do when I don't choose for a tunic top or blouse.
A shorter A line skirt (about knee length) forms another staple. I would have prefered it to be a few inches longer both for style and modesty purposes but this is still within the realm of what I consider acceptable on myself. It has a small black and white pattern and pairs easily with lots of things.

My big challenges however are not really clothes, but hair and shoes. If you have a size six wide to start with, you easily fall into a double wide before you are halfway through pregnancy, and those shoes are harder to find, especially if you are looking for stable and elegant at the same time. My hair changes a lot during pregnancy: it get's greasy very often and refuses the normal styling routines that I try. Let's see if this pregnancy I can learn how to tame it!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Motherhood.. it's not for the faint of heart..

This morning Joseph woke up nearly fourty minutes early and called for mama and dada. Oh well, some days start a little bit earlier, and we had a good night sleep. Nothing too bad. Or was it?
He wasn't his usual cheerful self in the morning. I even remarked to Bill that it seemed our boy had woken up at the wrong side of the crib this morning. If only I had known. He fought with mommy over the cherry tomatoes she was trying to eat at breakfast, and wanted to take a bite out of each one before putting the rest back in the box. Of course this was not allowed and the tomatoes were taken away, which was cause for a tantrum.

He kept being fussy and recalcitrant during the morning, up till the point that we went to the library to get his reading medal. I really love our library, and last year Joseph received his first medal there. We made some incredibly cute pictures. This year we managed to snap a few shots but nothing as pretty as last year. Oh well... I will get great pictures another day. Our little boy is nothing if not photogenic.
After that we went out to eat for lunch. Considering Joseph's mood and his recent lack of patience in restaurants we thought a buffet place would be best since that way he would not have to wait for twenty minutes on his food and sit still for a prolonged time. Plus, people adore him at the chinese buffet near our house.
Except.. that he had changed into a cross between a banshee and a wildebeest. Things went fine for the first ten minutes since we immediately put a plate with water melon before him. But after that he want out.. out ... out... walk... walk.. walk.. fish.. fish.. fish. (The chinese restaurant has a little pond inside with large fish). Bill and I ate in shifts while trying to stop Joseph from climbing into the pond, running outside of the restaurant or getting into other trouble. No more restaurants for now!

Once we came home, Joseph played in the car for a while and I stayed with him, reading the library book I had just borrowed. We managed to lure him out after a while since it was time for him to watch Elmo. There are few things at the moment he would not give up to see Elmo.
An exhausted Bill went to bed while I stayed and watched Elmo discover that people were not sharing on Sesame street because of severe cases of Minitis. But all ended well. He even went to bed after that without too much trouble. Maybe this day was going to turn around after all.

Mommy had a nap too, and Joseph awoke only ten minutes before the end of his naptime. He was still fussy and hyper though, not even happy with the chocolate milk he always gets after naptime. and trying to steal stuff from mommy's purse. (that boy has a great career as a burglar ahead of him. He loves to get stuff out of my purse, pick dada's pockets for his keys and has figured out how to open the childproof locks.) He protested vehemently about being removed from the purse.

During the wakeful part of the day Joseph had managed to cover most of the living room floor and kitchen with child debris. Blocks, books, puzzles and mommy and daddy had not covered their own tracks very well since most of their day had been spend trying to keep a cranky Joseph in line. So it was decided that one of us would keep our little boy busy outside, the other would try and tidy up enough for us not to break our neck the rest of the evening. I chose to go outside with Joseph. He played nicely for the first twenty minutes, splashing happily at his water table, and getting very wet, but who cares about that when it is warm and everyone is having fun?
Mommy kept watching him, especially when the water table seemed to lose it's atraction, and he went to the pool. Dipping the cup in there is allowed. Dangling his feet (with pants and shoes) in is not. I had to haul him away only once it seemed. He came to sit with me on the swing chair.. he found some fun in trying to fill the garden hose with water. He kept however coming too close and bending too far over the pool. Mommy warned him. Mommy pulled him away several times. And Mommy was only a few feet away when he ignored her warning and... fell in!
Of course I was immediately after him, fully clothed and without even taking off my shoes. The water is not deep. I can stand easily, but of course it is too deep for him. I had him out of there within five seconds. Both of us were .. well of course we were soaking wet. And let me tell you, those pregnancy jeans can hold a LOT of water.
Holding on tight to Joseph I brought him to the backdoor where I called for my husband. He took Joseph over, got his clothes off and rubbed him mostly dry. I came in too, minus my sodden shoes. Luckily my sweet husband brought me a big towel so I too could get nice and dry.

You would think that was enough adventures for one day. We had one more thing on our agenda which was a quick trip to babiesRus. Joseph refused to sit in the cart and wrestled heavily with dada when he tried to put him in, but luckily he could be entertained by sitting on the backseat they had there to demonstrate the instalation of car seats and by going around the store. He did find a walker with Elmo which he wanted, but his hard of heart parents did not see the need, despite the fact that it had ELMO on it.
Rather exhausted after an eventful day, we indulged in a drive through for fast food, then came home. There was the usual battle of having Joseph eat the food from his plate and not mommy or daddy's but by the time I put him in bath, we were thinking the day was mostly at an end. Then he pooped in the bath tub....

Tomorrow is going to be a whole new day. Thankfully.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A challenge and temptation...

I have been embroidering from the age of about eight and am completely self taught. Though I still have much, much, much to learn, before my break from embroidering after Joseph was born, I had reached at least a decent level of skill. I love learning about embroidery, I love reading about it and I love doing it. Still I have had no regrets about my break from it and learning a different skill that is easier to put down and pick up again in knitting.

An of the cuff conversation recently though now puts me with an unexpected challenge and possibility. And elderly lady who is a friend of mine and I were talking about the needs of our church and how our women's group would fundraise next year for it. We do a bakesale and an event and things, then doneed the proceeds to the particular needs of the church. Last year we gave to the newly started youth group for teenagers. This year, our priest would like our help in purchasing some new deacon stoles. She was quite amazed at how expensive these were. Somewhere in the conversation I mentioned that is a life's ambition for me to one day embroider an altar cloth. (though I have always thought that would be something I would start on probably when I was retired). She was amazed, especially to hear that I had been embroidering for about 20 years.
All of a sudden she said I might be the one to help her with something. Our church does not have a funeral pall for cremations. She had seen one at the funeral of her sister and would love to have one to be used one day for herself and her husband. Maybe I would be interested in working one.

And now I am hesitating. I am two and a half months pregnant, and it IS an ambitious project. On the other hand, how many times do we postpone things we say we will do 'one day' and then end up never doing it. Of course my family always comes first, but well.. you really can not ignore your family to embroider. It's impossible (at least to me) to ignore the demands of a child to sit still and focus on needlework. And my husband loves it when I sit next to him and embroider.

So.. what do you think? Should I seriously consider and persue this? Or should I leave it for another time in life?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I love aprons

I do. I don't wear them nearly enough, but when I do wear them, they make me feel feminine, fluttery and energetic. And it always seems as if I accomplish more when I do wear them. I own one really nice, frilly apron, which was a gift from a friend of mine. (thank you, Shannon). Then I own a funny, practical apron with christmas trees on it, which also was a gift from a friend of mine (thank you, Barb). And I own an 'all over dress' apron. Which actually was a dress at one time, but now serves as an apron.
What I am still missing are a few frilly, cute, every day aprons. I have a great weakness for the Edwardian Apron from Sense and Sensibility sewing. If I could just find any time to sew, I might actually try and make that one.
Today I found another new apron to dream about: Aunt Jessie's Vintage inspired Pink Parisian Fashionista apron. And then there is the Regency Apron I found at Etsy's "Au belles choses". Browsing Etsy is always a dangerous thing to do.

The function of an apron is of course to protect the clothes underneath. It seems rather contradictory then for many people to long for a 'pretty apron'. After all, if the main function of something is to catch tomato sauce, why would I want it to have pretty flowers all over it? Won't I feel bad if it gets stained? Now that is the secret of the apron, actually: you don't feel bad if it get's stained, because that's what it's supposed to be. On a nice white blouse, a smear of ketchup or spat of bacon grease looks ugly and wrong because it is not supposed to be there. An apron however somehow becomes enhanced when there is some dust on the front, crumbs caught on the bodice and an undeterminable spot of something red on the skirt.
A nice apron has the advantage of looking girly or better womanly in itsself, plus you can take it off right before greeting someone and feel a shift in paradigm immediately. You go from one 'sphere' to the next.

While I hesitate at the moment over spending the money, I really want to add one or two more aprons to my wardrobe. But first I need to wear the ones I have more often. Isn't it strange how often we find things that we like, that make us feel good, make us more productive and that actually cost very little effort, and still we let the habit fall by the wayside now and again? I have this with menu planning, which saves me time, money and frustration, with cleaning schedules and other routines. I do them, I like it.. and somehow they still slip between my fingers now and again.
Ah well, when you realize you've fallen off the wagon you can do two things: spend a lot of time lamenting and figuring out the fall, or try to get back up. Hmm... guess which one would be the best option?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Baking cake

Joseph is a very active boy. He always wants to do something. Always wants to discover something. This can be rather exhausting because he figures he has discovered everything there is to discover already about this house and the big yard. At least anything that he is allowed to discover. Therefor, he wants to go 'out' every single day. I try to keep some activities every week: go to the playground, go to the childrens museum, go to the store... just.. go.
But he needs to learn how to be content at home too. He has enough toys. He has a big yard. He has creative toys. And he is allowed a certain degree of freedom as well as responsibility.
One of the problems for me is always to try and think of new activities. I keep trying to go back to the old reliables like colouring (which still doesn't interest him for more than two minutes) or fishing or puzzling. But they just don't seem to capture his interest for a long time. Not even when I sit right next to him to play along. He tries to entertain himself more and more, by digging into daddy's toolkit (that boy is going to be an engineer!) or by dragging sixteen books to mommy to read. (But sitting still at Story Time at the library, forget about it!).

Anyhow, I am often at my wits end as to how I should keep him from general destruction. He never is deliberately destructive, just insationably curious. And while I am strict on the things to which I do say no, I do not want to say no all the time.
So today, I had the idea of baking cake. While a bit more of the batter landed in Josephs mouth than I had wanted or predicted, in general, it went very well. I think we may make cake (or cookies) once a week. It is great fun to hear him name the ingredients. The trouble is going back and forth to the fridge while he is within reach of the bowl and thus can get into the batter and stuff some in his face (or on the table, or on his clothes). Still, there was not too much damage done, clothes can be washed and we both had great fun. I do think it is important that he learns how to help from an early age. And won't it be fun for daddy to come home to some cake baked by his big boy and mama? Well... hmmm.. that is, if there is any cake left by then.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

This felt like my first real fourth of July celebration. Certainly, we had the little bbq in Belgium three days before we got married. Then the next year I was pregnant and the year after too exhausted and with a too small child to do anything.
This year was different. The fourth of July fell in the middle of a big family vacation. Bill and I went to Saint Louis, to his parents and my mother came as well. Of course there was the joy of the anouncement of our new baby in the making. But a family vacation with the grandparents has the inestimable advantage of build in baby sitters and no housework. That means that there is time for naps. And outside of naptimes, there are fun things to do, like going to the zoo or the petting zoo (pictures to come, I promise).
This whole kind of 'this is family as it is supposed to be' feeling extended to the fourth of july. The extended family of my husband on both sides came over from around town or from other states. There were children, from almost teenagers to a seven month old baby. And we could see what Joseph's reaction was. He loved all the children, especially Tyler. He was fascinated with the baby but a few precautions needed to be taken. While he really wanted to play with the baby he is a bit rambunctuous to say the least. And he doesn't get yet that pushing your hand into someone's face is scary, and that poking your finger directly towards a baby's eyes is not yet apreciated. Still, the learning curve was fast and day two he absolutely got peals of laughter when he decided to repeatedly pull up baby Mia's dress to play with her belly button. She loved it. The grown ups were laughing till they had tears in their eyes. And mommy is going to have another talk about modesty and gentleman like behaviour with my little southern charmer.

We had barbecued food (even though it was barbecued earlier and then kept warm because we weren't sure if we could stay outside with rain in the forecast) we had potato salad, salads and fruit and brownies and flag cake and crumbles. And even some fireworks in the yard.
Strangely enough though, it were not the fireworks that were the biggest fire hazard. It was a small boy of about twenty one months old. Hmmm.. now who could that be?

Joseph has been making himself quite at home here at "Mimi". And she wisely child proofed most of the house: crystal removed from reachable surfaces, cupboards closed with elastic bands, and a few cupboards which contained mainly tupperware for his own enjoyment. Of course he still found some misschief to get into: like getting into the warming drawer, opening the wine cabinet because the light goes on if you open the door or putting tupperware lids in the oven. We joked about that. "Better check the oven next time you bake". Little did we know...

Today the whole family gathered in the afternoon, with all the insanity and inside jokes that belong to it. Aparently it is a family joke that my mother in law can't cook. She does fine in my eyes but apparently never really enjoyed it or got great variety or something. I am certain there are family stories there that I will hear more and more of over the years. This year we added one of our own. We were all outside and Becky (my lovely mother in law) was about to say we were almost ready to eat when she remembered something "Oh no, I forgot to put my beans in the oven". Lots of laughter as she rushed to the kitchen to put said beans in the oven. Ofter the next fifteen or so minutes many of the women drifted towards the kitchen as often happens in family gatherings in all cultures it seems. We were joking, talking about the food, about who cooks what on a regular basis and jokes were made about my mother in law not cooking. She joked herself about when they renovated the kitchen and she spoke with the designer and said "Right, so we don't need a stove".. the time they had two microwaves in the kitchen... I was leaning on the island, enjoying the banter and looking idly at the stove. There seemed to be smoke coming out of it..

For a moment I hesitated. Maybe it was just some hot air swirling in the kitchen light? It looked like smoke. "Ehm.. Becky... I think there is smoke coming out of the oven ". While she whirled around, general laughter ensued and everybody just knew this was a story in the making. Thinking mostly that she overfilled the beans and some had spilled into the oven joked: "hope there are no lids in there".
The oven door was thrown open. And visible for everywhere in the bottom, under the lowest oven rack: three blue plastic tupperware lids, spreading out and melting. A few seconds after the oven was opened, one caught fire.

Everybody jumped into action. The oven was put off immediately. The beans taken out. The racks removed. With thongs the lids were taken out. We were laughing and cleaning at the same time. With baking soda and paper towels most of the mess could be cleaned. The beans were microwaved. But before that oven can be used again, a technician will need to come, since some of the molten plastic may have spilled into the vents of the convector oven.

A new story was added to the family repertoire, the culprit unaware really of what he had caused, but certainly this is one of those stories that will follow him throughout the teenage years and into adulthood when one day he brings his own wife to the fourth of july celebration: "and then there was the time when Joseph put the lids in the oven"

Saturday, July 4, 2009

There is a reason behind the madness... ehm the silence

I have not been posting a lot. And that while I was pretty determined to get back into the swing of things. The reason for this is that something took me out of the swing of things and into a special zone. The zone that is called: pregnancy!

Yes, I am proud to announce that my husband and I are expecting our second child. Pregnancy was not that easy on my body the first time. And it isn't now. Towards the end of the second month exhaustion is the word of the day, accompagnied by occasional nausea and great big hormonal rushes that make me cry at the drop of a hat.

Besides that, I will admit here I am scared. I know that many people have two childre, that two is probably the most common number of children even and that there is no reason to think I can't handle it. However, I almost could not handle Joseph's first year. Lack of sleep turned me into a shrew. And while I like being a mommy now, Joseph still has ten times more energy than the average todler. For the longest time I hoped that this was just a phase, but I am by now accepting that he just has a high voltage personality. That he will always be an energizer bunny boy. Accepting that is one thing, contemplating how to make that work with a newborn and perhaps again no sleep for seven months is another.

So, I am asking for prayers. That I might be a good mother to my two children, a good wife to my wonderful husband, and a good servant of my God.