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Friday, July 31, 2009

A Project I've Been Wanting to Do For a Long Time

At first there was only one large L-shaped rip in the shade, but after I bought the fabric to redo it, I came out one day to find the girls and their friends ripping it to shreds.

Me: What are you doing?!
Jane: Well, you're going to sew a new one, right?

Originally I thought I'd paint it either yellow or a leafy green, but when we went shopping for outdoor fabric, Jane & Zuzu formed an exceedingly strong attachment to this print, so turquoise ruled the day. (I was thinking of a more playful or modern print, myself -- maybe polka dots.) It's fun to indulge my children's random strong opinions whenever practical. And it is their swing.

I sprayed all of the plastic parts first with this, then I sprayed everything with this.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Star of David Card and Nostalgia

In May, my friend Michelle's son turned 13 and became a Bar Mitzvah. A couple of days ago I finally got around to getting a card made* and in the mail.

While I wrote the address on the envelope from memory, I remembered the letters I sent to that address years ago -- more often than not months after I'd written it, when I'd found it in a pile somewhere. I could usually count on getting an out-of-date letter or two in return around Pesach, when Michelle had to clean her room thoroughly to make sure there weren't any leavened bread crumbs lying around.

My mom and Carol, Michelle's mom, met outside of their apartment complex on a rainy day in Bremerton, Washington when they were 4 and 5 years old, and shared an umbrella. Their parents became friends as well, and years later their children became friends. During summer trips to Washington, I split my time between my grandparents in Tacoma and Michelle's family in Bellevue. Michelle has a daughter who's just Jane's age, but they really don't know each other yet. I want to correct that. I want to see this three generation friendship extend to four.

When Peter and I got married on Tuesday, August 18th, 1998, Michelle and Carol told us we'd picked "a date fit for a rabbi's daughter." Tuesday, the 3rd day of the week, is special because the 3rd day of the creation account in the Torah is the only day where it says "and God saw that it was good" not just once, but twice. And 18 is special because it's the number that the letters of חַי -- "chai," which means "life" -- add up to in Hebrew. In a few weeks, our anniversary will be on a Tuesday again for the first time since we were married.

My wedding wasn't the first time I unwittingly picked a good Jewish date. I was born on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year -- and on an 18th of the month, again.

I remember chatting with a very nice older gentleman at a Bat Mitzvah celebration brunch for Michelle when I was eleven. When I explained that I was Mormon, he said, "Ah, well, you know, Mormons and Jews, they're like cousins." I'm not sure most people would see it that way, but it made perfect sense to me at the time.

*I thought I was a genius when it first occurred to me to use my sewing machine for paper crafting projects back in high school. Back then I was limited to utility stitches, but now I have a sweet machine that lets me get fancy with the decorative stitches.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What I've Been Doing With My Wednesday Nights

Allow me to introduce the group I sing with. Blogland, meet the Deseret Chamber Singers:

Thank heaven I'm nearly too small to be seen in this picture, because the humidity was most unkind to my hairstyle that evening.

I've sung a variety of music in a variety of settings, but to me there's something uniquely sublime about singing with a really fine choir. I love what happens synergistically when my own voice becomes an indistinguishable part of a glorious, harmonious whole.

Anyway, I know choral music isn't everybody's thing, but if you do like fine choral singing, this group is the real deal, and you can catch us in concert TONIGHT -- free! -- at the Cathedral of the Madeleine at 7:30. Which reminds me that somehow today I need to procure some black nylons. And get a shower. Funny how having four small children can make even simple tasks feel almost Herculean.

Want to hear music clips or see video of us rehearsing? Check us out here. (Music tracks are in the lower lefthand column, or click on the "Videos" tab.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Creative Uses for Kitchen Tools

This morning, from another room, I overheard Adam say, "Here's just what we need, Ellen."

This sort of statement merits parental investigation. And sometimes, photo documentation.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Styled by Jane

Front View:

Back View:

Friday, July 17, 2009

My Kids Read Calvin, Just Like the Founding Fathers Did

Adam was done eating and wanted me to get him out of his booster seat. When I went over to unbuckle him, he said, "Give me liberty, or give me death!"

Me (very impressed): Where did you learn that?
Adam: From Calvin and Hobbes.

I'm so glad his older sisters are sharing the important parts of their education with him.

Wow. Two pictures in less than a week of one of my children with a finger in the nose.

Days after that exchange with Adam, we found ourselves at "Colonial Days," watching this actor give Patrick Henry's speech.

Miraculously, my kids sat and listened to the whole thing. And it might have been because I tipped them off to the "Give me liberty or give me death" finale before he got started.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Worth Taking Time Out of My Busy Summer to Blog About

I'm seeing a trend here: short, infrequent posts. Apparently that's what summer does to my blog.

But as long as I'm on here, I ought to mention that Jane was baptized today and my heart is so full. Seeing my little girl go down into the water with her daddy made the lifetime highlights short list for sure. I love the ordinance of baptism, so full of symbolism, so beautiful, yet also so simple.

Moving on to photos. . .

Baptizee and baptizer, ready to get wet, in their sweet polyester jumpsuits:
Peter, a life-long master, is training Jane in the art of pulling faces for the camera:
She's showing real aptitude:
Twin cousins Molly and Jane. Born 5 days apart, the best of friends, and baptized on the same day.
The dress was made to Jane's design specifications, right down to the orange ribbon. Even before I played Maria in The Sound of Music, I always wanted to have "girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes," but Jane had been scheduled to wear a white dress with an orange sash in a wedding that wound up being cancelled, and she wasn't ready to give up on that dream. I didn't indulge her request for orange piping, though. Deep down I'm still holding out for that blue satin sash.

I'm putting in this picture of my my niece Hazel and my sister Lili just because they're so darn cute:
Speaking of darn cute, I give you Molly's family:
(Can you guess which of these people is my sibling?)
In addition to being darn cute, they are masters of the art of pulling faces:
Jane's family tried to get some family pictures as well:
I could have chosen one where Ellen didn't have her finger in her nose, but where's the fun in that?

I'll tell you where. It's in the dopey smile on my face in this one:
I love the way it creates mystery: "On drugs? Or just a half-wit?"

I want you always to remember me this way.

Please don't leave my blog today without noting how completely Peter rocks a suit and tie. Be still my heart.

All jokes aside, it was a joyful, beautiful day.

Sarcasm Far Beyond Her Eight Years

Me: Jane, please don't pull on that curtain rod. It could come off and pull the screws out of the wall and leave holes and we'd have no way to put it back up.
Jane: Hey mom, ever heard of duct tape?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Quiz: Guess My Least Favorite Sewing Task

There's a circle of hell where the punishment is to gather big, full skirts onto tiny bodices for eternity. And every time you're almost done pulling up the gathers, the thread snags and breaks.