Friday, October 26, 2012

The Post Where I Show You Too Many Photos of Leaves

I love fall.  It's my favorite season.

I'm always excited about being released from my coat in the spring after a long winter, but there is something comforting about putting on long sleeves and a jacket again when summer is over.

I like the quality of the light in the fall, and snuggling up with my kids under a blanket on movie night.  I don't even mind raking.  (Which is good because there's been a lot of raking.)

And wow has this year been amazing for beautiful trees.  The last of them are finally fading here in Milwaukee, and I just feel like sharing way too many pictures of some of the ones around our neighborhood.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Foreign Policy in My Kitchen

I'm not a political blogger.  I have no desire to be a political blogger.  It's not that I'm not interested in political issues, I just worry that people are so polarized anymore that when you voice support for one side or another that people stop listening to you carefully.  I worry about stereotypes that cut both directions--that if you support different positions than I do that you will make assumptions about everything else I believe, and that people who agree with me will do the same.  No one I know is that simple.

So at the risk of alienating anyone or people jumping to all manner of conclusions I feel the need to comment on last night's presidential debate on foreign policy.  Not that there was any debate on foreign policy since it all seemed to be agreement on foreign policy, which I found rather mystifying, honestly, since I don't think the two major parties agree on much in that area.  But that aside, this is what I found myself reflecting on this morning.

There has been a lot of discussion about looking back at the past four years.  They have been a hard four years for many, and I understand.  But compared to the four years before that?  I prefer the path we are on now.

When I think of foreign policy, I think not only of the role of our nation in the world, but of the future of my children and our own family.  I think about standing in my kitchen watching President Bush on television while my husband was deployed in Iraq the first time.  I was washing dishes while my daughter, only four at the time, was drawing at the table.  I didn't usually express political opinions in front of Aden back then because she was too young to understand and her life was complicated enough with her dad away.  But then the president was asked if the responsibility for all those soldiers overseas troubled his sleep at night.  And President Bush replied that he slept just fine.

I almost dropped the dish I was holding. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Finished Kangaroo!

Done!  I'm done!  (And I'm actually ahead of schedule and not stitching up the last bit of someone's costume right before the Halloween dance.)  Here is Aden in her newest kangaroo outfit:

Plus it turns out the dog fits in her pouch, so she is a very happy girl.

Three done and none to go!

So now I should maybe, I don't know.... make violins?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Relearning the Paper Crane

Every few years I relearn how to make an origami crane.  It's not a skill that sticks with me for some reason, like riding a bike or solving a Rubik's cube.

There are lots of bad instructions for how to make a paper crane.  I actually enjoy writing out instructions for things.  I like taking notes, and I like arranging ideas so they are clear, so I get irritated when I come across instructions that are hard to follow, and most step by step directions for paper cranes are terrible.  I must have about half a dozen different versions available at home, and they are all different and they are all unnecessarily confusing.  The first time I really was able to fold an origami crane was when I took an existing one and systematically unfolded it, and once I understood it backwards I was able to do it forwards.  But as I said, that knowledge doesn't seem to stick.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Aden's Affinity (A Kangaroo Tale)

Aden asked to be a kangaroo this year.  Again.  She likes having a tail, and she likes trick-or-treating with a pouch instead of a bucket.  But seriously, I am not sure how many kangaroo outfits I've now made.  Aden and Mona were both kangaroos in 2004:

Then I don't remember if I had to make a new kangaroo costume for Aden the following year or if she just wore the same one again in 2005.  I have a feeling she wore the same one because that costume remained a regular part of her wardrobe all that year.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Masked Mona

I am honestly surprised that Mona didn't want to make her own costume this year.  She likes creative control over her projects and she has such specific vision about things that I was sure I would only play a peripheral role in making her Halloween outfit.  But she decided she likes having me make her costume and even though I didn't come up with a design that matched what she imagined, she seems really pleased with the outcome.

Mona the raccoon:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Costumed Quinn

We started Halloween costumes earlier than usual this year because I have so much going on this month I didn't want to get overly stressed about them.  Luckily the kids were able to narrow down what they wanted to be a couple of weeks ago when we were at the fabric store and I was able to pick up all the material we needed.  This weekend I got started!

And I have to say, after sewing three costumes a year for the past several years, I am getting quicker at it.  Normally I trace the kids onto the fabric and then pin everything together after cutting it all out to test the fit, but this year I traced, cut, and went straight to the sewing machine, and so far so good.

The first costume is done and it only took me two evenings.  Behold, Quinn the skunk:

I honestly have no idea why he decided to be a skunk, but he looks adorable so I'm happy with it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Radiolab Love

This past weekend Ian and I got to go do something fun.  We are seldom able to wrangle any time free from the fixed schedule of work and army and rehearsals and school, etc.  But back in August I found out that the NPR program Radiolab was planning a live version of their show in Milwaukee at the end of September and I decided we were going.

I'm a bit of a Radiolab junkie.  It's a peculiar show with a unique sound and rhythm, and is somewhat of an acquired taste.  It has a heavy science slant, but some shows are purely about music, and others touch on philosophy or history or just good storytelling.  The program airs sporadically because they don't produce many shows and they wind up temporarily in slots replacing reruns of other things, so I only ever find it on the radio by accident.

The way I regularly listen to Radiolab is through their podcasts.  I have as many shows as I can get on my ipod and every time I walk the dog I listen to another snippet.  Radiolab has also kept me from going insane with boredom on very long car trips that include traffic jams in Chicago and has actually made those drives enjoyable.  Even when all I have time to hear is whatever I can catch on one spin around the block with Chipper, I learn something or am surprised or delighted, I often laugh and am occasionally reduced to tears.  I love Radiolab.

I began listening to it entirely because of Robert Krulwich who, along with Jad Abumrad (whose perspective and style I've come to love as well), hosts the show.  I saw a piece he did as a reporter for ABC News back when I was in high school and was so taken with his approach and presentation that I made a point to memorize his name.  He's serious enough to feel trustworthy, but usually sounds ready to be amused.  Robert Krulwich has been my favorite reporter for most of my life, and anytime I catch his voice on the radio or television I stop to listen because I know it will be interesting.  Several years ago I turned on NPR and found an odd program about ethics and how our brains work that I almost turned off because the sound design was distracting and the level to which it seemed to be trying so hard was annoying, but then I caught the voice of Robert Krulwich.  So I stayed with it and got sucked in, and have been a Radiolab fan ever since.

The live show was great.  Dave Foley (from 'Kids in the Hall' and 'News Radio') did standup and helped move things along, Robert and Jad did their familiar banter that somehow doesn't feel scripted even when it is, there was wonderful live music by Thao Nguyen, and the Pilobolus dance troupe not only danced but assisted the program with a kind of informational science prop comedy.  It was entertaining and engrossing from beginning to end.

The theme was In the Dark, and was presented in roughly three segments. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Full House

The first house my husband and I owned together he picked without me.  We'd been house hunting unsuccessfully around Milwaukee for a couple of years, and it was getting too difficult for me emotionally to look at a house and mentally paint the walls new colors just to have someone else get their offer accepted on it first.  I was crushed every time, and we decided that Ian knew enough of what I wanted to look without me and choose wisely.  So when he picked out the blue and grey corner house a couple of blocks from the railroad tracks in Bay View, I didn't see it until the final walk through before the closing.  If I ever need proof I trust my husband, that's it.

I loved that house.  We put a lot of work into it.  A LOT of work.  It's the house all my babies came home to.  It's the last place my grandma got to come visit us here.  It's where I built my first instrument on my own after four years of violin making school.  It's where we buried our first pet bunny after she was killed by a cat.  It was within those walls that I experienced some of my greatest joys and suffered some of my hardest lessons.

But it didn't have closets.