Friday, January 30, 2015

Leaving, Getting Together, and Coming Home

Quilts on Display in a West Virgina rest stop
I was all set to post a lovely little piece about a woodsy walk we took a couple of Sunday's ago, but then Real Life got in the way. The Bumper Nana and I spent most of this week up in Illinois. Nana's youngest brother, my Uncle LV, passed away and we went to the funeral. First we had to go to Baltimore, to have the Bumper checked out for the disorder her father had. So far the test results have been inconclusive. We left from Baltimore right after her appointment and ran smack into a snowstorm in West Virginia. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with US geography. West Virginia is mountainous. In the day driving though the Appalachians is beautiful. At night in a snowstorm it is treacherous. We wisely decided to stay the night in a hotel. Fortunately the place we stayed had plenty of room. The Bumper was thrilled. Not only did she get to build a tiny snowman in the parking lot, she got to frolic and splash in the tub, which when you are four is a very big deal. The snowfall had stopped by morning and we we able to be on our way again.

Our refuge in the storm
It is fun to throw snowballs at Mom!
Icy roads
We stopped briefly to visit some friends of Nana's who live in Ohio  at around 4:00pm and then we back on the road. Eight hours later we arrived in St. Louis and realized it was far too late to wake up my Aunt J and Uncle N. We called the hotel at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, and they had just one room left! We were quite grateful.

One room left and we took it!
The next day we connected with Aunt J and Uncle N and the cousins and we all headed up to Saint Ann IL together. The littlest cousins (the Bumper included) thought this was the best road trip/sleep over ever. They laughed and played with each other so much they did not want to go to sleep that night!

I will not say much about the funeral except that it was moving, and I learned a lot about my Uncle LV whom I did not know very well. He would have been very proud at the way his family conducted themselves. His boys, now grown men with wives and spoke lovingly of him, and treated their mother with gentle respect; attending to her needs without being pushy or intrusive. My grown cousins' children got on quite well with the Bumper and even though they all met for the first time that day they became fast friends. Seeing our children interact, reminded us of how long it has been since the family last got together. No promises were made, but I sense a family reunion coming up.
Hangus the well traveled kangaroo.

We did not have much time to spend, and while the adults were somber and mindful of the occasion, the Bumper and her cousins made the most of their time together! They played dress up, rode bikes, jumped on the trampoline, and helped did holes in the front yard (Aunt J wasn't to happy with the kids on that one!).

On this trip we spend a lot of time in the car. It is 8-10 hours to Ohio from where we live and then another 8-10 hours to St. Louis, MO.  Toward the end it became hard for the Bumper to sit still and she want to stop at every rest area we passed. The last time we were out that way the Bumper was younger and slept most of the time, not on this trip! She spent most of it singing songs, looking out the window, and talking to her stuffed kangaroo (for whom I provide the voice) Hangus. When we finally returned home late Wednesday night the Bumper exclaimed: It is good to be home and sleep in my own room with my own sheets!

I echo the sentiment. Even though seeing extended family is always good, the sadness of the event overshadowed the visit. Because the Bumper is older now, she does not sleep as easily in strange places, she became scared a number of times and I stayed awake to comfort her. Watching her fall asleep so easily the other night made my night more restful too.

So now we are home, and trying to get back into our routine, the Bumper is back in school and I will begin training for my first 5k run/walk.

p.s. the sock marches on.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Snow Day?

Ready to get to work.

I have not been around much because we are busy getting ready for the Fiesta of El Santo Nina de Cebu. Nana and the Bumper are both dancing this year, and I am helping to sew costumes. By helping I mean ironing and  keeping the Bumper occupied while Nana does the actual sewing. The dances are all Filipino folk dances which require a lot of practice, so all of our Saturdays have been taken up with dance practice.
All done!

The Bumper danced last year, but she mostly wandered off and did her own thing. This year she is a lot more focused and is doing her best to follow along. She likes the music and being with other kids.

First Snowfall
We woke up to a snow day today, and the Bumper was really excited! She could hardly standstill to be dressed, she wanted to rush outside in her pajamas's. I was not as happy. It was just enough snow to close school in our area -- about an inch, but not enough to be really fun. Which meant after her first mad dash outside, there was not much for her to do.  There was only time for the Bumper to build a really tiny snowman, make some footprints, and pelt me with snowballs, before the snow switched over to rain. The Bumper was quite put out and I don't blame her, I mean if school has been cancelled the snow ought to be decent enough to play all day in!

For the rest of the day we will bake cookies for the fiesta, the Bumper has asked to snuggle in front of the fire in her sleeping bag for a little while, Nana will finish the rest of the sewing, and genrally just try to stay warm and busy.

Keep Warm!


I am so very thankful for a snug roof over my head, warmth and plenty of food in the pantry on days like this.  The roads are slick and the weather cold, if I don't have to venture out I won't. If am very lucky I will be able to sneak in some crochet and knit in today.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Friday Focus- Books

For the last couple of weeks I have been reading an eclectic variety of books. Everything from Amish homespun wisdom and 19th century letters to wild romp into a Parisian family's past. When I am writing I tend to read non-fiction or out of my genre fiction, right now I am looking for a book on hot air balloons and dirigibles. Here is what was on my shelf this week:

1.  Traces of Wisdom: Amish Women and the Pursuit of Life's Simple Pleasures by Louise Stoltzfus

While the book was a refreshing look at the small joys in everyday life, I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had been interviews with the women themselves, rather than a commentary by a former member of the community.

2. Hidden America ; From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This County Work by Jeanne Marie Laskas

The book was at turns raw and introspective, giving a reader a glimpse into the private lives of some of the people who do some of the jobs the rest of us would rather not think about.  I learned more about the people than the work they do, but I think that was the point-- to make the reader see people rather than positions.

3. Women's Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present Edited by Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler

I am still only in the first section 1775-1779. Ladies back then wrote very long letters, but the perspective is well worth the antiquated English. I am enjoying this walk through history very much. Already I have learned things about the Revolutionary War that were not taught in school! Since this is a library book it will definitely be renewed.

4. Stella!: A Treasury by Marie-Louise Gay

I can't decide who is enjoying this collection of stories about a fiesty big sister and her little brother more; the Bumper or I.  Charming and imaginative this collection has found a welcome place in our bedtime routine. The title character has fun and inventive ways of answering her younger brother's steam of seemingly endless questions. I have even borrowed a few!

5. A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay

This story about a middle aged Frenchman coming to terms with his mother's death and uncovering family secrets along the way was one that captivated me from the start. I found my self at turns sympathetic and repulsed by the main character. It is not a book I would have read if a friend had not loaned it to me, but I think I have discovered an author I will read again.

What have you been reading this week?

Happy Reading and Have a Good Weekend


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

I love the first day of the new year, when everything stretches out before me like a blank page pregnant with possibility. I love the chance to start over or reinvent myself if I choose or I can stay just the way I am. I can try new things or  perfect old ones. Acquire good habits and leave behind bad ones. Take a class, learn to dance, draw, cook, sew, spend time with family and friends, grow closer to the Lord,  all or none of these things. A brand new year with no mistakes in it.

Yes I know I carry some of the baggage of the previous year with me, after all I am still me, but it is the possibility that intrigues me. Also as a writer I love that in January I can set a goal of and writing a page a day and at the end of the year I will have a novel length manuscript!

The New Year will have some of the same: the comforting routines of housework, breakfasts,  lunches, suppers to plan and cook, laundry to be done, school time, bath-time, playtime, story-time, and bedtime prayers. There will likely be times of happiness, sadness, worry and laughter. A bright new tapestry to be woven and maybe just maybe an Adventure to be had.

Happy New Year!