Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tired of This

There's been another mass shooting.  Are you wondering which one I'm talking about?  Does it matter at this point?

Discussions of gun violence in this country are wearing me down.

The disconnection between what I see and feel and how people talk about the issue publicly makes me hopeless most days.  I try to understand, and speak up periodically, but this is one area where I don't believe anymore I can have any impact.  It's beyond depressing.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Echo Chamber

Many kids like reruns.  My Mona, in particular, likes reruns.  If something amuses her she wants to relive it right away.  For as long as she's been able to repeat sounds, we have been listening to instant replays of the funniest lines and sound effects of every cartoon or show or movie as part of our viewing experience.  We try to get her to tone that down when we watch things with "outsiders," but in our house we just accept it.

Quinn also likes to repeat the things he finds funny.  But most of what he finds funny is Mona.  So we have an echo effect going on.

In the car with the kids if I make a funny comment, I know the next thing will be Mona repeating what I said, followed by Quinn repeating what Mona said.  (And they both repeat such things in a way that I can hear them smiling as they do it.)  It's one of those quirky family things that is just part of our particular routine.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Club Invite

Our book club here in Bay View has been doing a series of local authors, and today was my turn!  I got to attend a book club meeting about my first novel, Almost There.  It was fun.  And terrifying.  And I was insanely nervous, but hope I didn't look it.

We now interrupt this blog post for a moment of shameless promotion!  Because those of us who self-publish (and even many who don't) must be brave and force our more introverted selves to jump up and down and wave our arms and beg people to please please please read our work (please please).  So buy my book!  Links for everywhere to buy it in every available form can be found HERE.

Also, those of you who have read it and have not yet put up a review on Amazon (or GoodReads), please take a moment and do so because that would help me more than you realize.  I appreciate so much the kind emails and comments I've received.  Sharing some of those thoughts online in a place like Amazon might actually help get my novel into the hands of people who don't personally know me, and that would be exciting.  Now back to our blog currently in progress:

I really like our book club.  I tried a different one about ten years ago, and at the first meeting I discovered I was the only one who read the book.  I excitedly told everyone all about To the Lighthouse and how interesting I thought it was, from the stream of consciousness technique used to tell the story to the particular relationships in it.  The other women kept drinking their wine and looking down at the copies of the books in their laps with puzzled expressions saying, "Huh, it sounds like it might be interesting!"  The second meeting was not much better, and by then I realized I was sort of ruining everyone's good time by wanting to, you know, talk about books.

This book club grew out of a Facebook discussion that began with, "Does anyone know of a book club I can join?" and several of us chimed in, "No!  But I want to join it when you find one!" and then we just declared ourselves a book club and the Bay View Book Club was born.  It's been a great way to get to know more people in the community.  The first meeting had more than a dozen people.  Since then it's been a mix and match selection of about half that each time, but someone always posts the upcoming books and dates and meeting places and whoever wants to come can come.  It's nice because it's not any more demanding than you want it to be.  And everyone reads the books.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Music Clocks

The most fun thing about running my own business is getting to decide the look of the store space and the things that go in it.  I get to be creative, and I get to try new things just because I feel like it.  I have an excuse to make some of the designs in my head become real.  Few things make me happier.

The first thing I made for my violin store when we opened back in 2008 was a big clock.
Before we even had a space to rent in the fall of 2007, just paperwork declaring Korinthian Violins a real company and a small collection of rental instruments piling up in the guest room, I knew I wanted to make a music clock.  I thought about it at random moments, and sketched it on paper when I had time.  I didn't want the music symbols to be random like I've seen on commercially available clocks.  I wanted it to amuse actual musicians.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Young Enough, Old Enough

From a parenting point of view, I feel as if my kids have hit a perfect point in their ages.  My kids were so funny and adorable when they were little, and it was hard to imagine that anything ahead could be as fun.  But as much as I miss the cuteness, and the baby hugs, I don't miss the amount of work.  At eleven, nine, and six, my children are young enough to still be my sweet little kids, but old enough to really do things.  It's great.

I noticed the shift over the winter when we went sledding.  To be able to take the kids to the park and have them all drag their own sleds back up the hill was amazing.  They can all put on their own boots, find their own mittens, and tell me when they are getting too cold.  It was simply a nice outing where I could enjoy it as a member of the family, not the mom in charge of everything.  I only had to be prepared to be in charge if necessary.  Aden even made the hot chocolate when we got home.

I've thought a lot about this balance of my kids being young enough and old enough over the last few weekends.  For both fun things and important things, it's made a huge difference in how I parent, live my life, and what all of us as a family are able to do.

On the last day of summer vacation I took the kids out to fly kites by the lake, and we had so much fun we did it again the following weekend during a kite festival.  Until Labor Day weekend we owned one kite.  Aden picked it out years ago, but it's been a hard thing to want to break out and play with because she needed help to make it fly, and her siblings were too young to do it with her but of course they wanted to.  Flying a kite sounded fun in theory, but it was complicated back then.

Monday, September 16, 2013

We Just Washed It!

Friday was already complicated before the car accident.

I had to get up early to drive Ian to his Army bus for a weekend at Ft McCoy, then come home to feed the kids and walk the dog.  Mona was still feeling light-headed from being sick so I told her she could stay home one more day (but no screens, just books).

I got in a little exercise, cleaned up the kitchen, checked email, then asked Mona if she'd like to go with me to the car wash.  I had told all the kids we would take the small car through the car wash after school and the library and before I had to go teach, but the minivan was still pretty filthy inside and out after all our summer travels, and Mona was looking more like herself, so I thought that might be a fun thing to do.

We drove to the car wash, got all the garbage and treasures (some indistinguishable from one another without Mona's keen eye) out of the minivan, paid a dollar to vacuum it out for five minutes, then did the four dollar wash which Mona found thrilling from the inside of the car.  The interior sides of the windows were still pretty bad, though, so when we got home we parked next to the house and went at them with spray cleaner.  We stepped back when we were done and were pleased with our work.  That was one clean minivan.

I told Mona to go ahead and start washing the insides of the windows of the small car while I put the minivan away.  I pulled ahead a few feet and started to turn the car around in the intersection so I could put it in the garage when BAM.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sparkly Things at the Violin Store

Meet Sparkle Violin!

I bought new bags of plastic jewels recently because I decided to fix the Sparkle Cello.  It's probably the most photographed thing in our store, and since that one section under the different tite-bond glue went dark I decided during a lull in repair work to go ahead and put the sparkle back in that area.
Chiseling off bad jewels
It looks a little different than before, but at least it glitters again.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Eye Color Followup

Thanks for the input on Quinn's eye color.  I wish I could get a picture up that looks like what I see.
His eye color is weirdly changeable.  They are different up close than farther back, and the color shifts with the type of light and against different outfits.  Mine do as well, but not as drastically.  (Although, how would I know?  How often do I really see my own eyes?)

We actually did sit down with some paint cards and his shirt.  All the ones in the green range were too green, but we did find some things that were close.  (We had a lot of fun looking.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What Color Would You Call It?

I have never been able to put a name to Quinn's eye color.  On forms where I have to commit to something I go with the garbage-pail term "Hazel" for lack of anything better.

Aden's eyes are BLUE.  Incredibly, intensely, unmistakably blue.

Mona's eyes are just like mine: Greenish, with a blue-grey rim around the outside and a brown ring right around the pupil.  (So we also get lumped into "Hazel.")

Quinn?  I can't tell.  I have been staring into those beautiful eyes on that adorable face for his entire life and I just don't know.  Somewhere between green and brown and grey without being any of those things.  Recently his aunt gave him a shirt that is the exact same color, so I asked him to pose in it with his eyes really wide.  I may take the shirt to the paint department next time we're at Home Depot and see what the color sample cards there say.

So I am tossing it to the masses!  What do you think?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Summer with Ellora

We got to have my niece, Ellora, with us for the entire month of August.  It was great.

When she was littler, my brother's in-laws used to visit New York City from India and help care for her over summer vacations, but now that she's older there are more options.  Now she gets to venture a bit farther afield, all the way to the Midwest.

Giggling in the backseat the whole way on a nine hour drive
She and her cousins spent time in Detroit, then had a week to play at the cottage, and finally some time here in Milwaukee.  They were happy together for all of it.  I worried a little that as an only child, Ellora might get overwhelmed by the constant company of other kids, but she never did.  My kids just folded her into the puppy heap of activity and all was well.

But time watching Ellora comes with great responsibility.  Someone must remember to take The Daily Photo.

My brother, Arno, has been working on the Ellora Daily Photo Project since the day she was born over nine years ago.  One photo, every day, all aligned at her eyes to flash by in an epic time lapse:

Pretty amazing.  And when my niece is in our care the Daily Photo responsibility becomes ours, and I do NOT want to be the one who breaks the link in the chain.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Skill Sets

Having my family away for a week recently was weird.  I've been away from my husband and kids before, but it's rare to have a stretch of time that long where they are away from me.  I thought I would be productive having the house to myself.  But I wasn't.  I was uninspired and listless.  I found myself sleeping in while cuddling the dog, eating cereal, and binge watching things like Breaking Bad and Call the Midwife.  Which is essentially what I would do if I were sick.  So what was that about?

It got me thinking about skill sets.  We specialize in activities in our own little worlds, and develop expertise in trivial matters that most will never appreciate.

When I was in college I was a research assistant in a Music Cognition Lab.  Ohio State had one of the best such programs in the world at the time.  I had deep admiration and respect for my boss who I thought ran her lab smoothly and well, and I enjoyed my work.