Monday, January 21, 2013

Boyhood (And Baby Sisterhood)

A while ago there was a gushing leak emanating from the fire hydrant across from our house. Little did I ever imagine how much entertainment would result from a broken water main.

First they brought the excavator in to rip up the sidewalk:

Then they brought the cement mixer in to fill it back in:

What's not pictured is the fire truck that stopped by in the midst of all of this. I'm telling you, this was like free babysitting. Thank you, City of Houston! (Also, thank you for fixing the leak.)

Left up to her own devices, Isla might have developed a love for baby dolls or something like that. But given her present company, I'm pretty sure it's going to be excavators and dump trucks for a while!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

14 Weeks to Clean?

I know better than to put any declarative punctuation on that title. I mean, who am I kidding? I decided to take a 14- week cleaning challenge from the blog Organized Home. I want to tackle some of the problem areas that I can't seem to keep clean, and implement systems that will prevent clutter from collecting in the first place. But any resolution like that will remain firmly in the interrogative category for me, as in: "14 weeks to clean? We'll see. If any one of us comes down with a stomach bug that's going to cost me about 3 weeks right there. But I'll give it a shot!"

Last week was a preview week in which participants were to perform a few pre-cleaning challenge tasks like putting away all Christmas stuff (I'm not quite there yet) and cleaning the refrigerator (which I did!). I found the post in which Cynthia Ewer, the author of  Organized Home, assigned the refrigerator task to be very interesting, particularly in light of a BBC report I heard during the week.

The BBC broadcast World Have Your Say, discussed the problem of global food waste. Some sources claim  that as much as half of the world's food is thrown out as waste. In Cynthia Ewer's article, she asked people to look at what the dregs of their refrigerator said about them and to analyze their findings in light of their current resolutions. Here is an excerpt:

"You'll wring a few unpleasant admissions from yourself, too. Look carefully at what foods are wasted, especially from the vegetable crisper.

Are you doing what I've been doing? I'm Miss Nutritional Virtue herself at the grocery store, but those baby carrots and low-fat margarines languish uneaten in [the refrigerator's] dark corners. Did you toss out as much bruised fruit as I did? Are you buying too much--or not eating what you buy?

Use pen and notepad to jot down your discoveries and track your new resolves. Match them to your New Year's resolutions. Is lower-fat eating on your resolution list? Then you'll want to toss the remnants of the Christmas dinner butter and margarine and replace them with low-fat spreads, apple butter and all-fruit jellies.

Do you want to tighten the budget? Focus on the waste you've discovered. Do you buy grapefruit (because your mother did and it's such a Donna Reed/Beaver's Mom breakfast item) only to toss the shriveled husks, months later? Are you overbuying milk, or cheese, or meat? If you've tossed it out today, make a note to yourself to buy less--if any--on your next shopping trip."

I was struck by the connection there- that our personal habits can be part of global problems or global solutions. For me, the fridge isn't a problem area. Sure it's not sparkling like a diamond but there's nothing in there that's going to become sentient. I'm an anti-food-waste vigilante around here so I really don't throw out much.

However, the task for week one of the challenge is the entry way, which is definitely a problem area:

(anyone want that espresso maker in the  box?)

What does this say about me and my involvement in larger global schemes? I don't know. Maybe I'll uncover the answers to those questions during this week's task. I'm hoping to post my progress. Or maybe I should say: I'm hoping to post my progress? We'll see how it goes!

Monday, January 07, 2013

Top 12 of 2012

12. After writing a post recently in which I mentioned an all-night vomit bender, I realized that after two memorable stomach illnesses in 2011, there were none in 2012! Thanks be to God!

11. Peter spent the first few months of 2012 studying for a national board exam. He took it in March (a few days after Isla was born),  and in May he found out he not only did well, he got the highest score in his program! Way to go!

10. I finally started pulling my weight around here- literally. At the end of the year I got a part time (very part time- 2 hours per week) job teaching a free weights aerobics class.

9. In July, Peter began his 3rd year in residency, 2nd year in Ophthalmology. He's movin' on up and now he's actually doing surgery on peoples' eyes in addition to clinic work. During this process of becoming an eye surgeon, I noticed that Peter is adroit at tying very small knots. I often ask him to help me when such dexterity is called for in sewing projects. One day I asked him if he'd learned these knot tying skills in boy scouts (He is an Eagle Scout, after all!) No, he said he learned them doing micro surgery! Micro surgery! Who knew that would come in so handy!?

8. In May John turned 2, his language exploded, and now he says things like "I want to watch Gangnam Style."

7. To expand on number 8, John continues to impress us with his memory skills. He recently surprised us when he asked to sing two hymns,  Rock of Ages, and How Firm a Foundation, and then sang right along with us! He can also quote one memory verse that he learned in Sunday school, 1 Kings 8:23: "Oh Lord, there is no God like you," as well as the Lord's Prayer.

6. August marked our 7 year wedding anniversary. In October Peter turned 30! (Please note, I'm not 30.)

5. We continue to be actively involved in our church, which we love. Peter is serving as a Deacon and I go to a women's Bible study and volunteer with the children's ministry on Wednesday nights, we also host a small group every other week.

4. In July we took a long, very long, road trip to Savannah, GA. Though Peter and I love road trips, young children... add another dimension, shall we say? Nevertheless, many  happy memories were made.

3. The kids and I continue to spend time with two playgroups that we've now been involved with for over a year. John is getting to be more aware of his friends, asking for them by name, and engaging with them. And I get to talk to adults! I always enjoy conversations in which one party does not throw him/herself to the ground in a fit.

2. Living relatively close to both of our families allows us to see them frequently, which is a blessing. 2012 offered many opportunities for trips to San Antonio. And, most recently, we spent time there with both of our families for Christmas, then went camping with Peter's family between Christmas and New Year's. John loves his grandparents, aunts, uncles and all of his cousins.

1. Definitely the best thing that happened to us in 2012- actually one of the best things that's ever happened to us- was Isla's birthday. March 28th, 2012, my favorite daughter was born, and now here she is standing on her own, and all beruffled for Christmas:

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

A Belated Merry Christmas!

I'm a little late doing my end-of-year round up, but I figure that if you factor in a 30-day grace period, it's not even 2013 yet! 

"... it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one!"  ~From A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

As the glow of the holidays fade, I hope to "keep Christmas well," by  remembering year round the truth  that  that "unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" Is. 6:9 It is my prayer that 2013 will bring a deeper love for God and for my neighbor. 

And, please note John's hilariously kitsch Christmas get up.