Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sweetness in a most hectic day

Yesterday was such an exhausting day, I still haven't quite recovered. On top of the regular stuff with the girls, I had loads to do. I was hosting a potluck for one of my classes. Somehow I get into these cleaning frenzies, where I cannot just do the bare minimum; I get into these clean-things-thoroughly modes. I thoroughly cleaned our upstairs floors, on my hands and knees. The hardwood floors got wiped with special hardwood floor cleaner. On hands and knees, it's a really, really long process. Why on hands and knees? Another post, another time (that's not necessarily a promise); I'll just say that I prefer such a thorough cleansing. As I was cleaning the floor, I noticed the baseboards had collected a fair amount of dust. Cleaning the floor boards then lead to cleaning window sills, windows, and ceiling fans. Spring cleaning, perhaps? Before lunch, I went outside and swept the sidewalk and our driveway; couldn't stop there. I swept our garage, too. Oh, and the girls helped.

Whilst the girls enjoyed their lunches, I swept our back porch, since the plan was to eat our (my classmates', prof's, and my) dinners in the backyard. When the girls were allegedly taking their naps, I cleaned the upstairs bathroom thoroughly, cleared most of the mess off the dining room table, and started making chicken fried rice (my contribution to the pot luck).

Oh, and when I gave the girls their lunch, I gave them strawberries for dessert, and I partook in that dessert goodness. Strawberries have been my favorite fruit for the longest time, but strawberries in grocery stores have been disappointing me for so long. Until now. I've blogged about this phenomenon before; click here to read more.

2010-4-29

I needed some sweetness to brighten up my allergy-inducing grunt work. Somewhere in there I think I did 2-3 loads of laundry, too.

Speaking of utter exhaustion, it's off to bed for me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

And androgyny continues

A few weeks back or more, a guy in my Life Span Human Development class mentioned androgyny being popular in the 1980's and mentioned Boy George.

Remember Boy George who got a lot of attention here in the U.S. in the 1980's? Here he is.

The same classmate (from my Human Development class) mentioned being glad that we're no longer in a time period where androgyny is the thing.

I don't know whether he's just happily oblivious or lives on another galaxy. But, this thing of encouraging women to be stick skinny with no hips, a small butt, and stuff, is still going very strong. A woman looking like a woman, with a curvy figure? Heaven forbid. . .

I doubt the younger generation has any real knowledge of what voluptuous (beauty) is. There is insanely huge pressure on women and girls to be teeny tiny. Remember Marilyn Monroe?

She wore a size 10 or 12. That's right, there was a time where having a figure, being a woman, being a normal size was viewed as desirable and attractive.

The merciless, unyielding pressure to be androgynous is far from over. Enough said.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bangle restoration

Brain fart. I had forgotten that I made jewelry as a kid. Suddenly, it came upon me that I had brought one of two bracelets I've kept over the years with me. But, it was in disrepair. The elastic that held it together had long ago retired. It was barely holding together. And, well, upon falling apart, there would be no telling when I'd have the patience or time to put it back together. Restringing it on new elastic took plenty enough time. See what I mean?

2010-4-22

I cannot believe I put the time and effort into making two of these things. The other one, which, I believe is still at my parents' house is the favorite of the two. The other one has colors I like better, and well, assembled, it has more of the character I like.

What do you think of this? Not bad for a middle schooler, eh? I think that's when I made it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An artisan, photographer, musician, poet, actor want to be

The profession I had sought with most of my energy and time, before the little monkeys came into this world, slowly annihilated all my creative juices. Philosophy is a very jealous lover, I think. Anyways, I've been slowly adding back many things that make me uniquely me. Making jewelry is one of the newer passions relatively speaking.

The arts - whether crafting jewelry, playing piano, singing, taking photographs, acting on a stage - I believe, is something where I put myself out there fully and completely. So, if someone is a keen observer, they can know just about anything about me by watching. Kind of scary, right? Perhaps. But, this life is too short to spend hiding behind masquerades and facades.

Can you see my personality or who I am through this bracelet?

Speaking of which, thank you all for following my blog(s), whether in any official or unofficial (lurking?) capacity. That you take interest in my mundane musings tickles me pink. Thank you also for those who participated in my giveaway.

The winner, chosen by a random number generator is Mary Ann. If the winner would e-mail me, I will ensure that the bangle gets to the new owner. Are you sad you didn't win because you adore and love this bracelet? E-mail me if you're interested in acquiring one for yourself or one to give as a gift. It will only cost an arm and a leg. How about just an arm? Still too much? Okay maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. Seriously, if you are interested in that sort of bracelet or the one below or you also would like for me to make some sort matching necklace, e-mail me. We'll see what we can do.

Yes, I made the above pictured bracelet. My design. My heart. It's made of a sterling silver toggle (the thing that closes the bracelet), a sterling silver lobster clasp (the thing that hangs the charm on the bracelet), sterling silver beads, and Chinese foil glass beads. Oh, and the little charm you see hanging is made of Swarovski crystal bead. I originally made this, in case anyone wants a fashionable and simple way to keep track of nursing. But, several women I know have gotten these bracelets, who are not nursing, and love to wear this sort of thing like their other fine jewelry.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A little gift

My littler one will be 23 months old tomorrow. What precious gifts I have been bestowed in my life, including her. To celebrate, I want to leave a gift with you, my friends and readers. I've been dabbling back into the arts gradually, including making jewelry. I want to give this bracelet to one of you. I made this using Czech glass beads and the toggle (the thing that opens and closes the bracelet) as well as the crimp tubes are sterling silver. For a chance to become an owner of this, 2 criteria must be fulfilled:

1. Be an official follower of this blog. What is that? Look to the right upper side of this blog, that's what I'm talking about. If you're already a follower, you're set on this criterion. If not, click on follow and then follow the directions.

2. Leave a comment on this post.


The chance to win this bracelet ends at the close of the day, Monday, April 19, at 11:59 Mountain Time. After that, I will do a random drawing and one person will be the winner or recipient of this gift made by yours truly.

Oh, and if the person who ends up winning is a guy, we'll figure out something different. Unless you want to give this handmade, one of a kind piece as a gift to someone.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Girls just want to have fun

We, here in Colorado, have been enjoying warmer day weather recently, and the Changley household's been trying to take full advantage of that. . .

I chatted with my sister not long ago, and she, in all her wisdom, pointed out a significant culprit to my abysmally dismal disposition. To the question, "How often do you get out and visit with friends?" I answered, "Perhaps (at most) once a week." Without hesitation, she said that was too infrequent. Very wise words spoken.

From a very early age, I was very social, thriving most when I was around people. My parents, especially my mom, still recounts how, at a very young age, would captivate anyone and everyone who would visit us. When I didn't get a chance to spend time with friends, I was miserable. Apparently this is still true today. Without the companionship of friends, I feel much more isolated and alone. That is certainly not to say that my children or spouse don't count as anything; come on, gal friendship is so different and fulfills different needs.

So, I must add to the survival, stay sane, list:
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep a day.
  • Never remain on an empty stomach longer than absolutely necessary.
  • Meet up with friends at least a couple of times a week (1x/week is insufficient).
Without meeting the aforementioned three conditions, I am not only miserable; I am non-functioning. Run for the hills, way on the other side, folks, if any of these are not met.

Since having this discussion, I've thought long and hard about how to put this into action. Juggling care of the children and husband, doing home stuff (cooking, dish washing, cleaning, doing laundry, yadda, yadda), doing homework, finding "friends" when I don't have that many here in Colorado, yet, etc.

Today, the girls and I went to Denver Seminary's playground, and I ran into a few moms. These moms, though they already knew each other and I was relatively the stranger of the lot, included me in conversation. They were transparent, open, and kind; and they were receptive of me as I was. Very encouraging. Isabella and Victoria had a wonderful time spending an hour playing, climbing, running, and making mayhem outside.

As we were in the home stretch, pulling in the driveway, I saw the neighbor my husband's been encouraging me to befriend outside with her boys. This gal and her husband have two little boys, not too far in age from the girls. I initiated a date with her and the boys for Friday. Got past my self-conscious crap and did it.

Darling little Victoria
2010-4-14

and Isabella had a blast spending lots of time soaking in Vitamin D and doing what little ones do best (play and be merry and get dirty).

Align Center2010-4-14

I still get the comment or question from strangers inquiring whether my girls are twins. Seriously?

2010-4-14

One is nearly a head taller than the other. To me, one simply looks younger than the other. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Who needs a hitch?

Yesterday, instead of running off to study, after Troy got home, which is usually what happens, we had a little family date time. Dished out some of Uncle Obama's bucks and got some toys. I'm very reluctant to spend wads of cash on anything besides necessities - food, shelter, electricity, phone. But, this seems a great idea that reaps multiple benefits in the long run for several persons. Wasn't anyone's birthday or any particular special occasion; let's call it taking care of the fam. We went to Arapahoe Cyclery (supporting locally owned shops is our thing, and hey, we get free annual tune-ups, to) and got Troy a bicycle, a trailer (so the girls can join him from time to time), a kick stand, a helmet, a lock. . .

Here is the man hooking stuff up for the girls to go on a ride this morning.


2010-4-13

Troy and the girls got to enjoy a lovely ride and some fun excursions along the way - by a dam, near some water, at a park - whilst I was away on something set four weeks ago that I wouldn't even remotely relate to as fun, interesting or exciting. The installation of a permanent crown and replacing an old filling (and clearing out decay that has formed underneath it) with a new one.

I will say that I am very much comforted by having a dentist who has a great bed side manner and seems to know what he's doing. He also has a staff that is extremely compassionate, caring, and patient. They seem to care a lot about what they're doing. In fact, as the gal was working on shaping my permanent crown, I felt like the staff as well as the dentist treat their work as an art, carefully crafted and sculpted.

Anyways, when it came time to administer anesthetics for the filling, I was asked if half of my lip, jaw, cheek, and underside of the tongue were numb. Affirmative to all except the tongue. So, the dentist administered more anesthetics, since this filling was a bit big and we wanted to avoid any surprise pain.

For whatever reason, the anesthetics was a bit slow to work. But, by the time the filling was finished, I was very, very, very numb. I think the right side my my lips and my tongue were dropping to the floor. And, I was numb all the way up to my right temple, that's right, right next to my right eye.

Why couldn't I have fun like the sort they were having, instead?

And, off they went. Yay!


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Conquering fears, an experience I will never forget

My Spiritual Formation group was gifted with an entire day at Camp Id-Ra-Ha-Je, where we could do a structured activity with the camp and then do our own thing. This camp is outside of Bailey, Colorado, sitting on 232 acres of land. Wow. The elevation of the location was higher than Denver, and as many of you all well know, Denver is the mile-high city.

The structured activity involved a many mile hike up to a cliff, where we were going to rappelling. I have this intense, intense fear of heights, and the mere idea of dropping down from a very high place didn't exactly excite me. The hike up to our rappelling destination wasn't exactly cakewalk. Perhaps part of the problem was and is I am simply out of shape. The other part? The high altitude robs us of some oxygen.

My leg muscles were overworked and underpaid. And the infrequent number of times we stopped, I realized that I was getting nauseated. Wonderful, add that to the huffing and puffing taking place, attempting to keep up with everyone else. I had no breath to spare for conversation on the way up to our rappelling destination. There were still remnants of snow and ice on various parts of the hike, to add more fun to the adventure.

Once we got to the rappelling destination, the sight was both breath-taking and extremely frightening. Looking into the distance, the landscape was brilliant. However, see the rocks there? That was not far from the edge, where there was some 1,000-1,200 feet to go to the bottom.

2010-4-10

Let's just say I was more than just a wee bit nervous. But, one of the two rappel guides, Pete, assure us that the harnesses could withstand loads of weight, there was a backup system in place in case we did everything wrong, and a guide was there at the top to coach us through everything and ensure our safety.

Can you tell the seriousness I'm expressing?


Holy crap. I am really going to try and do this.


Um, any chances of turning back? I had actually hugged the rock face several times on this journey. That's a nice way of saying I fell hard and hit the rock face in a not-so-gentle fashion. It was quite fortunate I was wearing a protective helmet, because my head would not have been the same after some of those collisions.

I'm not kidding, about the first third to half of the rappel, I kept contemplating giving up. I was doing everything I was told NOT to do. I was using my left arm like it was doing something useful; as a result, my arm was ever sore. I wasn't leaning back enough; I was trying to rappel like one hikes. Then I thought, what's the point of giving up now, a third to half way through the rappel? If someone's to "get me," I basically have to climb back up the rock. Rock climbing is something I want to try at some point, but I don't want my first experience to be with some 1,000 feet total below me.

I attempted to persevere. At some point the rock face completely ended for a bit and my feet had nothing and nowhere to go. Around that point, I was forced to do as I was told and rappel correctly. I leaned back like I was in a recliner, I spread my feet at least shoulder width apart, one foot at a time I slowing backed down. When I got a hang of it or perhaps got just a bit more accustomed to it, I learned to kick off the way for a bit more momentum (why weren't we told about kicking off the wall?). My arms and legs were so tired after the rappel, but we had to hike back up to the rappel site where everyone else was, and that 150 foot hike was quite steep and challenging. I was basically climbing my way back, not walking or hiking it, since I wasn't sure whether my muscles would reliably prevent me from falling down that steep slope.

Thankfully, we had to wait for the last ones rappelling to return, so I had a chance to relieve myself. Yep, dug a hole, came prepared with toilet paper, and I did my thang. What do you expect? I had consumed loads of water and had not gone to the restroom in some three and a half hours. . .

The hike back, well, it was down hill. But remember, I had extremely sore legs and there's ice and snow in various patches of the hike. We weren't hiking on paved pathways, by any stretch. I should have seen the inevitable. I slipped on an icy patch and fell on my bum, again, a mere two weeks after I fell super hard on my bum on the hardwood floors at home (wearing socks, being playful with my older daughter) and before the soreness from the previous injury had dissipated or healed. One of my friends immediately saw what had happened, and she offered so much emotional support. As the day has worn on, my bum has grown increasingly sore and painful; no joking matter. Sitting, crouching, reaching for certain things, getting into a standing position are all extremely painful. I'm thankful that the muscles around my tailbone function well and have prevented it from any fractures. . . Still, I'm in a lot of extreme discomfort.

I leave you with a photograph of my spiritual formation group. Wonderfully dear people. I love the timer option on my camera, and one of the posts at the cabin area functioned as a perfect tripod.


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

April showers bring May . . .

Usually, the say goes "April showers bring May flowers." I do not doubt that we'll enjoy flowers here in Colorado at some point. However, the showers aren't rain showers here; it's snow. Snow. Give Colorado a few days, and we'll have 50's or higher.

***

In other news, I am nervously anticipating a little retreat I'm taking with my spiritual formation group this coming Saturday. I love my group members, and I have no reservations there. One of the activities we're doing, however, has me anxious. Repelling.

You see, heights are not my friend. Add high altitude to looking far down below. I think I'm going to throw up. This, I believe, has nothing to do with fearing exercise or adventure. Maybe it does; we can discuss that possibility some other time. As a kid, I went swimming nearly every day in the summer; my sister and I would do laps when we were teenagers. I also played tennis pretty seriously; for a very little while, I split private tennis lessons with someone else. No, this has to do with my fear of looking down steep, steep declines. Add to that, my constant need for water consumption, even more so since our move to high altitude Colorado. Like loads more water. With loads more water consumption also comes a need to go to the bathroom. We'll be away from any bathroom for about three hours. I need loads and loads of prayer.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The perils (I mean, joy) of home ownership

This post could easily turn into a full blown rant about just how little I know in this life, but I shall attempt to stay focused. Two responsibilities that led me to highly question my ability to maintain good stewardship are: the house and the car. I shall address only the former at this point.

I've heard countless people refer to the American Dream in a positive way. Anyone fearful of the responsibilities behind that? Me. Me! ME!

Let's start with the yard, shall we? Our yard is supremely embarrassing compared to other yards on the street. We hadn't touched the leaves that fell last fall. Once the snow finally disappeared and the ground was sufficiently dry, less than a month ago, I raked all the leaves in the front yard, on two different occasions in two different weeks. This massive maple tree in our front yard produces loads of leaves. When raking, I noticed a couple of things.

One, the grass is much longer in places, and that was so glaringly obvious once I uncombed the grass with the rake. That's probably due to a combination of factors: the un-level ground and not having or not using a trimmer.

Two, we have so really long out growths from a tree in the front yard and some trees in the back yard. See the tree on the far left of this photograph? The maple tree that is just now beginning to bud?

2010-4-6

This one. This maple tree. It had a couple dozen of spikes, at least three to four feet high coming from the vicinity of the trunk, making it look like some version of the scary Wamping Willow in Harry Potter. My husband hacked them off less than a week ago, and they bid good riddance with the trash this morning.

The other thing that has been on my mind? Our hot water. Our water can get plenty hot; that is not the issue. The issue is, it doesn't last more than 15-20 minutes when showering or after washing a load of laundry in warm water. Any semblance of hot water is gone for at least an hour. We're stuck with room temperature water, at best.

I finally broke down and got fed up. Who wants to continue heating up water for the girls' bath this way? Who wants to continue hoping that something that's been working hard since 1961 will continue to shine and prosper? Not me. Our beloved realtor* blessed us with a home warranty, which is due to expire at the end of May; and I decided to give that company a holler. I hadn't called them sooner, because I didn't want to pay $60 for a house call without the problem getting fixed on a more permanent basis. The receptionist or operator at the home warranty company comforted me with the claim that I wouldn't be paying $60 for nothing; if the plumber can't fix the problem, he'll replace the thing.

The operator/receptionist dude proceeded to ask me a bunch of questions to which I wasn't sure of the answer. I was fast becoming quite anxious. In fact, before he even started asking those questions, I had a panic; what's the difference between the water heater and the furnace? Am I calling about the right equipment?

His questions started: What kind of water heater do you have? What is the brand? What is the capacity? Huh? What? Whilst one of my daughters was seemingly making much ado about nothing, I ran downstairs, into our dungeon to check. This is what I found:

That blurry photograph about captures my knowledge of house-related matters. Apparently (not so apparent to me) that grayish label close to the bottom contained a bunch of the information he wanted. I'm crossing my fingers, hoping that for $60, we can get that water heater REPLACED.

***

* We love, love, love our realtor. He really does put integrity, love of the Lord, and being a good steward above and beyond making money. Even long after the closing of our home, he was still looking out for us. This came out in a number of ways, ranging from making sure we contacted our insurance agent after a hail storm from last year to recommending a way to take care of internal leakage (and who to contact first and secondarily). So, if you live in the Denver area and you want a reliable, dependable, and caring realtor, e-mail me; I'll send you the realtor's name and e-mail address.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter

This has been such a busy, busy weekend, especially with Easter. One of my friends who has been a Christian for less than a month was coming with us for pancake breakfast at church, service, and our family after-church festivities. I want the girls to know that Easter isn't just a bunny holiday where they get treats. The significance is that Jesus rose from the dead, thus completing his saving us.
Ugh, I hate that in the end, I told the girls it was a special Jesus day. I had planned on telling them that Jesus came to save us, and I may still do that just not before Easter is over. I'm not sure how much of that they'll grasp. Isabella, my older one, might better comprehend "take care" of us.
Anyways, after church, I was planning on serving mi-fen (rice noodle) soup for lunch, allowing the girls to enjoy an Easter egg hunt of sorts (the eggs, filled with animal crackers or goldfish, weren't really hidden but were in plain sight), and coloring eggs.

Grandma (Karen) and Grandpa (John) sent these lovely, lovely Easter dresses, complete with dress, shoulder shrug, socks, and sandals. I did my best to get the girls to look at the camera, at the same time, smiling. No such luck. They wanted to play in the yard and run.

But, this is not so bad, right?

2010-4-4

They got their Easter "baskets." These were pails that they each hand picked at the dollar store. I also let them pick one toy to go in it. Victoria picked a squacking chicken and Isabella picked jewelry (a set that came with four bracelets and two rings). On a side note: see? Victoria doesn't always pick what her sister chooses. They were in the middle of their hunt. Victoria was less interested in finding eggs and more interested in consuming the goodies inside them. Isabella was sweetly dividing what she found between the two of them.



My little monkey was eager to help stir, color, and pull the eggs out.


This one? Well, not sure. But, if she got a hold of any of the coloring pails, she would likely have overturned them all and prematurely retire my laptop computer.



Oh, and I shall end this post with a funny note. Ready? Seriously, fasten your seat belt.

My husband was helping get the girls ready, since I was doing a million other things at once: cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, getting a present ready for our friend (she accepted Christ within the last 2 weeks), getting cleaned up and dressed. . . I had laid on the outfits in two different stacks, sorted by age (size).

When I turned around, this is what I saw. . .

Wasn't a belated April fools prank. My husband really didn't know that shoulder shrugs, little sweaters, go atop the dress. In other words, the dress goes on first. Hehehe.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Early Easter festivities

Yesterday (Saturday) morning, we went on our merry way for our regular morning festivities. At the entrance to the parking lot, looked pretty busy a mere hour into opening and we were asked for proof of membership. Never had to produce that previously.

Apparently, wasn't the only thing to which I was oblivious. Having special Easter events totally escaped my mind. Beyond the figment of my imagination.

2010-4-3

This is not the zoo, folks. We're outside Children's Museum. I've not seen a chicken in Colorado so full of feathers. That's what Victoria's petting.



Wow, and they increased the number of costumes provided for this weekend, and Isabella had a grand time. Three costume changes in counting. I'm sure there would have been many more, if we hadn't insisted on participating in a few weekend-only activities. She was busy performing magic, like the fairy godmother in Cinderella.



Victoria? Couldn't get her interested in much. Besides eating. And well, some not so fun personality growth changes. For now, let this sweet little gesture fool you.


A volunteer was so kind in helping Isabella make her bunny years. I would have been two opposing thumbs for assistance, taking forever to do the job.


On to dying Easter eggs. She watched with fascination and followed the volunteer's instructions. For the most part.

I must tell you, at some point after we got home, Isabella decided to de-sticker her pink Easter egg; and for awhile we embarked on a sort of Easter egg hunt gone terribly wrong. That real (not plastic) egg had gone MIA, and she wasn't sure where it was. In her bedroom. In the living room. Those different answers panned out to NOTHING. I was FREAKING OUT. Not ready to find the egg a week later, following some sort of rancid imprint and trail it left behind.


We ended up finding it in the end. . .


Before leaving for home, I wanted to avoid listening to children whimper and scream due to hunger, so we had lunch. Chicken quesadillas.



Oh, and we were fortunate to get a little hug from the Easter bunny before leaving. Isabella's been reporting ever since that she likes rabbits.



One last friendly pet before leaving never hurt anyone, right?