Monday, January 19, 2015

Freedom Ringing!

Or something.  It being MLK Day that title just kind of naturally popped up, but in terms of the actual day I will just refer back to this particular post.

And my husband did fix our bell, so that's ringing again, but that's not what this post is about, either.

No, this post is about actual rings.  Over a year ago my husband lost his wedding ring at the Y.  He's been borrowing one of mine ever since, and I've been wearing a new one.  Periodically I'll ask at the desk if a wedding band has turned up in Lost and Found, and the answer has always been no.  Seeing as the Y is closing soon, I figured I should check one last time.

And there was his ring!  There were two in Lost and Found, and as soon as they brought them out I recognized the one that I put on Ian's finger almost eighteen years ago.  When I showed it to him when he came up from the locker room he looked so happy!

I forgot how comfortable the ring was that I lent Ian, so I've been wearing it for a bit as something different. 

Anyway, it's kind of amusing to me that having only ever been married to each other we now have enough wedding rings to pass down to all our children (plus the dog if he's feeling fancy). 

It's kind of like cake pedestals in our house.  We somehow ended up with about half a dozen cake pedestals, only one of which is special (it was my grandma's and we only use it for birthdays), so we use them for everyday things because why not?  Pancakes or fishsticks look cooler on a glass cake pedestal, so that's just how we serve things and it's a habit.  But recently when we reorganized the kitchen and pulled lots of stuff out of the cabinets, Mona finally looked at me and said, "Why do we have so many of these things?"

And I laughed so hard, because, why do we have so many cake pedestals?  Most people don't have any!  How do they survive!?  We could serve dinner for each of us on a cake pedestal and still have one left over for, you know, a cake.  I might just do that next time we haven't run the dishwasher.

So I guess this post ended up being about cake pedestals.  (I tell you, they creep into everything around here.)  Welcome to my stream of consciousness blogging.  This apparently is what happens when I only have small windows of time to write and no time to craft anything.

Happy MLK Day!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pavlov's Children

Our bell came apart this week.  I haven't quite figured out a way to repair it, but it's weird not having a bell.

When we lived in our first house across the street it was about half the size and sound traveled in it a little too well.  If I called up the stairs to get the kids down for meals that worked fine.

In the current house, not so much.  It's bigger and the doors are thicker, and even though creaks and thumps carry from floor to floor, I quickly found out if the kids were in their rooms they would never hear me from the kitchen.  To call them to meals I had to walk to the other side of the house and scream up the stairs, and often that wasn't enough and I'd have to go all the way up.

But the sound of the bell carries!  We have a glass bell with a tractor engraved on it that a cousin gave us years ago that is nice and loud without being obnoxious.  I explained to the kids when meals were ready I would ring the bell.

It works like a charm.  I love not yelling for the kids, or having to wander the whole house to assemble people for mealtimes.  We even have an outdoor version for summer: One of those big iron triangles like you see in cowboy movies hung by the back door.  Wherever the kids are playing within a block and a half radius they can hear us clanging on the dinner bell and come home.

Once in a while we ring the bell to gather the kids to us to simply tell them something, but most of the time they associate it with food.  The dog certainly does.  He's the first to arrive in the kitchen every time the bell sounds.

Most people are amused when they visit and the ringing of the bell is followed by immediate scrambling/thumping sounds from about the house.  The bell reliably ignites a tiny, hungry stampede.  Whichever kid happens to be downstairs already usually delights in being the one to get to ring the bell.  And honestly, I like having one fewer occasion to raise my voice.

So, I miss the bell.  Coming upstairs in the morning and simply telling people breakfast is on seems weirdly inefficient and less official.  (Now if I could just fix the bell so that it also makes the meals...)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fish out of Water

We found out today that our Y is closing at the end of the month.  It's thrown us for a loop because we've had such a nice routine going: We drop the kids off at school, head for the Y where I swim and Ian uses the gym, home by 9:30 with a little time to breathe before going to work around 10:00.

I've been trying all day to track down another place to swim.  The trouble with swimming as a chosen form of exercise is being dependent on someone having and maintaining a pool.  I wish I didn't loathe running or something that didn't require needing more than myself and maybe a decent pair of shoes to do it.  But I swim.  It's pretty much the only form of exercise I don't hate.  So I need a pool.

It looks like my only real option is going to be the local county pool, which is perfectly nice, except that they don't open until 9:00.  They also don't have anything for Ian, so we will have to split up to go exercise, which is too bad because we were able to help each other stick to the routine when we went together.  I haven't quite figured how this will work.  I may have to keep a hair dryer at the violin store since I will likely have to go straight there from the pool.  It's cutting it all very close, but again, I don't really have options. 

I'm more sad about Mona losing her Swim Team.  I don't know if I will be able to convince her to try a different one, and I will miss our whole family going to the Y on those two evenings a week.

Anyway, not the end of the world by any means, but disappointing.  Maybe once we figure it out it will be for the best.  The county pool and a gym membership will be cheaper than the Y, and both are much closer to home.

Still, I'll miss the Y.  We originally signed up when we were eligible for six months of free membership while Ian was deployed the first time.  It was a great place in the winter to let the kids all run around when I was going stir crazy at home.  We've enjoyed many a wacky hour in the racket ball courts, I appreciated the towel service, and every lifeguard was unfailingly nice.

We have until the 31st before they close their doors, so in the meantime we will just keep swimming.  Not too thrilled to have to give up a routine that's worked so well, but I'm sure we'll adapt.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Holiday Update

Happy New Year!  Welcome to a long catch-up post.

Even though I am a person who doesn't do new year's resolutions, I've decided that in 2015 I will:
1.) Buckle down and build the violin I have on commission.
2.) Edit my second novel, which I think about every day and didn't touch all last year.

At least the blocks are glued to the form.
The problem is finding time to do these things.  My assistant moved to Chicago so I'm swamped with all the repairs at the store myself, exercise takes time, rehearsals take time, my husband and kids need me.... But a violin maker and writer who can't make time for violin making or writing probably shouldn't get to claim to be either thing, so somehow I will find time.  Otherwise I'm not sure who I am.

In the meantime, I want to jot down something about our holiday break before I forget everything.  (I'm always sure I'll remember, but in the car the other day we were discussing what we did last New Year's Eve and no one was certain because it all starts to blur together.  We weren't sure if it was the year of Mona and Aden trying to stay up to midnight alone, or the epic dance party.  Going back on my blog and reading this reminded me that, oh yeah, lots of people, it was totally the dance party.  Having a blog is handy.)

The past few weeks have been so busy!  And it turns out my greatest gift was that we weren't hosting Christmas this time.  One of my brothers really wanted to go to Detroit, so that became the plan.  At first I was disappointed because I like having everyone here.  (That started because I kept having babies so close to the holidays that I couldn't travel, and the drawing power of babies brought everyone to us.)  But my Ohio relatives who usually visit were just here in the fall, and most of the rest of the family were here for Thanksgiving, so it's not like they didn't get time with us in Milwaukee.

Do you know what not hosting means?  No cleaning.  I looked around the clutter in the house each night after work and thought, "Eh."  It was a great relief.  And instead of that "make things presentable by pushing everything into closets and boxes" kind of cleaning that usually has to happen when we host and have no time to be thoughtful about where things go, we did a deep clean of Quinn's room, which was really satisfying.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mommy's Sweatshop: Music Tree Edition


We got a late start on anything Christmas because Thanksgiving ran long and birthday season ran late this year.  But I think I have all the presents ready, sort of.  (I just bought a sweater that I can't decide whether to give to Ian or  keep for myself and tell him it's from him.  We don't normally get each other anything, but it was a really nice men's sweater marked way way down so I couldn't resist.  Maybe he won't like it and he'll just give it back to me?  Anyway...)


Despite a more packed schedule than usual (I played a performance of the complete Messiah in a town more than half an hour south of here and those three-hour rehearsals plus commute on top of my normally packed schedule about did me in) we did manage to make our holiday cards and get them out on time!  Unfortunately Mona was knocked flat with a fever for several days and Aden's been playing catch up on homework, so Quinn was my lone helper in Mommy's Sweatshop.

We painted cards with watercolors, then glued trees cut from music paper to them.  Mona was delighted when she saw the finished cards and said, "Ooh, it's like the notes are ornaments!"  Which is exactly what I was going for, so that made me happy.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Candyland Cake

I can't really take any credit for Aden's birthday cake this year.  I was hoping to redeem myself after last year's cake wreck, but all I did for this cake was frost it and suggest the general concept.  Aden baked two layers of vegan chocolate cake, I did the crumb coat and the final frosting surface, then Aden did all the decorating herself.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bug Cake

Mona has successfully turned 11.  To celebrate we created a Bug Cake.
For her party this year Mona asked her friends to bring cereal to donate to the food pantry instead of presents, which was an idea introduced to us recently by a friend and my kids were excited by it.  Mona also wanted to do something for her party that was new to her, so we ended up at a place with Laser Tag and Go Kart Racing, and that seems to have been a hit.  The other big hit was her bug cake.  When she requested a bug for a cake design she told me I could choose the bug, but nothing dainty looking like a butterfly.