Sunday, October 28, 2007

j a c k o' c a r v i n g

Six j a c k s light our doorstep. Bwa ha ha!

go nuts!

We made donuts at Mom and Dad Boring's yesterday. It was made a tradition by Grandma Bernice Boring who always had a donut-making, family gathering at the farm on Halloween.
Our kids went nuts.
They were so jacked up. They were pumelling eachother in wrestling and laughing and yelling hysterically. On the way home they were screaming in the back seat and they would not stop, so in the mile and a half drive home, I sat between them with my hand over Stewart's mouth.
It was super frustrating to try to calm them down. I almost didn't recognize them, they were so altered.
Finally, they calmed down, after several rounds of incidents and time-outs.
We're already preparing mentally for the craziness on Halloween night, when sugar abounds and is not limited (this only happens 3x a year, so I'm ok with it... in theory).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

apple cider in the air

The leaves are falling.
There is apple cider in the air.
Pumkins all around.
Watch this...(sideways)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"New Year Baby"

This afternoon, Mike and I watched, "New Year Baby" on The Heartland Film Festival's last day. It's the story of a Cambodian refugee family living in the United States who journeys back to Cambodia to explore their past. Socheata Poeuv is the director/producer who is investigating her family's history as it relates to being refugees because of the Khmer Rouge.
A brief history... the Khmer Rouge was the ruling political party of Cambodia in the mid to late 70's. They are remembered for the deaths of around 1.5 MILLION people (by execution, starvation and forced labor). I read that it was one of the most lethal regimes of the 20th century (according to Wikepedia). They followed a man named, Pol Pot (who died in 1998 and was never tried for his crimes). What the Khmer Rouge did was force all the urban dwellers out to collective farms and labor camps. Beyond the deaths that these actions caused, they forced marriages, separatations of entire families, and all property was seized. The idea was to create a classless society, who's members would farm rice, which they could export for "collective" gain.
I remember watching an after school special one year when we were in the States (maybe I was in 5th grade). It was about a Cambodian refugee family and their transition to this country. The most vivid picture from that was the kids hiding their food under their beds because they were worried that they would run out or that everything would be taken away again. So, I was aware of the fact that there were people who had to flee Cambodia and who were starving, but beyond that I didn't know much else about this situation. I remember crying.
I cried today too.
Hearing stories like this one help to take me out of my world and into the larger one. They help me open my mind to seeing another's life situation. Stories like this one make me sad, and feeling that sadness is good for me. Why?
My emotional response has propelled me into learning about the conflict(s) in Cambodia and those surrounding it (basically all the way to before World War II).
It has also made me get pissed off about the crap that rulers do. And it's made me pissed off that people go along with it.
In one scene, the daughter (director of the movie), her father and their interpreter meet the director of the hospital where hundreds were mistreated and died (including their interpreter's own mother). The daughter asks if this woman feels guilt for what happened and if she would like to apologize to him (the interpreter). The woman says that she doesn't feel guilt, that she was only doing what she was told so that she could continue living and that it wasn't her doing. She finally apologizes (rather non-emotionally).
So isn't that it? Isn't it exactly why people go along with things like this? They simply want to survive it. How many stories are out there like this one? And where would I stand? What would I do for the sake of keeping my family and myself alive?
I would like to think that if I was being forced to act in such a manner, that I would revolt. That I would rather die.
In the beginning of the documentary, the daughter is asking her parents why they survived (or something similar). The "ma" says that the "pa" survives because he always chose the "middle-of-the-road". She says she survived because she was sneaky, that she could talk her way in and out of situations.
The other questions that I am considering are these... Where would I draw the line? What battles would I pick? Would I even be brave enough to be a "Rosa Parks"- making a stand for something that seems relatively minor like a bus seat? Would I, like the parents in "New Year Baby" marry someone because it was being demanded of me by the rulers? What issues are so important to me (beyond my family and God) that I would fight for them?
In the end of the movie, we learn about the fathers' heroic journeys (totalling 5 or 6) across the Vietnameese border to bring his adopted children, his new wife and baby, and a sewing maching (I'm guessing it was a pretty swell machine) to safety. That surely isn't "middle-of-the -road" thinking. He made a stand that I would want to make... one for his familys' survival.

i got a long nap!

Amy came over today so that I could do something I wanted to do... anything, she said.
I chose to take a long nap. It was great. And on top of that, the coffee I had when I woke was the perfect cup.
What a gift, and even though I had about 20 other things that I would have loved to do or that I needed to do, the nap is what suited me. And to have that time resting and alone, well, it was time for it.
Thank you, Amy!
(She's my brother's girlfriend.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Have you ever walked on a catwalk, two or three stories above a loud, manufacturing floor? We did it yesterday at the Forest Discovery Center in Starlight, IN( Stewart rode in the stoller, because of the noise and vibrating feelings of the walkway. Nigel nursed to sleep through the tour (his nap on-the-go).
It was super interesting to watch the entire process, feeling like a little bird, curious at the goings-on, and spying down at all the factory workers doing their different jobs. We went at our own pace and without a guide, which I think added to the feeling of intrigue about the work and workers. Marshall and I were really into it.
It would take some practice for me to get used to people watching me work. I surely wouldn't want everyone to be able to see my mothering work all the time. I've caught myself looking around sometimes when I've been really bitchy and impatient towards my kids, just to make sure that I wasn't completely offending someone (besides my kids) or embarassing myself.
Even in my corporate work life, I didn't like people hanging out over my shoulder (unless I was certain that I could impress them with my "skills"). And as for art, I like solitude. If I am working on something tedious on one of my peices like hand-stitching then I don't care but when I'm putting something together, thinking something out or playing with an idea, I sometimes talk to myself, dance, get side-tracked, doodle, you know... things I'm kinda self-conscious about how I appear while doing them. Of course I want to "save face" even though I'm the first to admit I'm weird and messed-up. I wish I was more uninhibited more of the time and that I didn't give this crap any importance.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

nigel in bed today

He was so precious during his Sunday afternoon nap with his stripped baby legs. He nurses to sleep, getting all sweaty while he's cuddled up. When I finally know that he's asleep, I rise and he's all alone in our bed. (A bed that is so enormous for him, but the perfect size when all the kids are with us.) And when he wakes, he stretches and looks about as if he's getting his bearings and laughs when he sees me, reaching for the camera.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

my tree

For Mother's Day, I asked for a tree. I didn't know what kind of tree and so the purchase was delayed. After studying trees with Marshall this month, I made a list of things I wanted in a tree. Mike, Marshall, Stewart and Pa Gary went to Schneider's nursery in Seymour (we were down that way as a family one day) and picked one out. It's a Centennial Maple. It will grow 50 ft. high and have a 35 ft. spread. It's a good climbing tree and swinging tree, the two main things I wanted, besides being a smaller sized maple.
The reason I wanted to get a tree now was to plan ahead for grandchildren. Weird? Yep, sounds weird saying it... grandchildren. It just seems so far away (if the kids choose to have children someday).
Sure, we'll enjoy our tree's colors and shade now, but mostly I'm looking forward to our boys growing up with it. I want them to come home someday and remember when the tree was newly planted, and remember their adventures on it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


It's so great to finish something!
I finished a peice of art work that has been on my desk for what seems like months. Finishing catapulted me forward, allowing me to start two new projects (AND I cleaned up part of my work space).
Simply miraculous; miraculous to have Katherine hang out with the kids while I desperately cling to my idol... accomplishment.
Now, I will sleep. My mind will wander past the grey and layerd, sun-lit clouds. I will rest.
Tomorrow, there will be more to accomplish; the less fulfilling laundry, feeding, diapering, teaching and policing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

we won't be pirates

We won't be pirates, but after taking this picture, maybe we should reconsider.
Stewart has taken to dressing up like Captain Jack Sparrow. He doesn't know what a pirate is. He growls and thinks he's a monster when he puts the patch over his eye. His growl is mighty, it's low and loud, and he puts his whole body into it, tensing every muscle.
We're going to be robots for Halloween. I wonder what kind of sound effects will come out of Stewart then.
On another note, Stewart has taken up singing lately. He sings low and loud, and puts his whole body into it, gliding about with a "mic" in his hands (if he can find one). Mostly he sings, "Super-Reader saves the day" and "abcdefglmnoprstuvyz" and "Have patience, have patience, such a hurry. Remember, Remember, too".

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

vicious little paws

Nigel has such a stong grip. He's actually bruised me with his pinch before. It's worse if his nails are long. Today he grabbed my check while he was nursing and it really hurt...really.
Marshall and Stewart were demonstrating his strength. They know, because they did it to me too.
Vicious little paws. What will I do?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Grabill's Amish

A few weeks ago, we went through Grabill, Indiana. There is a large community of Amish people there.
We stopped at a park and let the kids run around for a bit. Driving around later, we were so enthralled at seeing their pristine farms, their horse-drawn buggies, and their distinguishing clothes. I was so excited to "sneak" some pictures of them riding along, and so curious.
I remember riding through Ohio's Amish country many times when we were on furlough. My grandma, Nina Saunders, had her particular Amish stores that she visited to "stock-up" (she didn't need to). Their bulk goods and cheeses were her favorite things, and we always made our way to... was it Miller's restaurant? Something like that.

I've always been curious. It lead me to fantasize about living the life of the Amish. You know: big farms, big families, no electricity, cars or machines. I wanted to try it out. Maybe it was to see if I would like it, or if I fit in, or even if I could be strong enough to endure it.
Well, Mike and Marshall and I were talking about their lifestyle. We theorized that it may be easier to feel close to God if nature was that much a part of your life and if you didn't have the distractions of machines, cars, etc. Mike suggested that we stay at an Amish Bed & Breakfast sometime when the kids get older. All those feelings of curiosity came up again and I wanted to do it! I didn't even know that it was a possibility and so, I was pretty excited about the prospect (however far away). I'm still excited, like a girl.
I wonder how my kids will fare, in an Amish home, without cars and with Amish chores.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Are you going to change your blogsite to unclemutat34?
We miss you entirely, Matt. We're hoping your day was not as "typhoony" and that our phone conversation and these photos brightened your birthday. We talked about wanting to take you out for a special "bubble" tea at your favorite tea stand. Someday we'll make it to Taichung.
Mom and Dad got back from Spokane yesterday. They brought with them a rock from the place we hiked in Montana, the mountainous one across the river from the train line.
The boys are sporting new pajamas from "Lincoln's 10,000 Silver Dollars". They have moose and bears on them. Stewart refused to put his on for a long time, crying and carrying on. He was scared of the bears. Once he saw Marshall and Stewart with them on, he braved up.
We're off to Marshall's soccer game. He's proud to be wearing new cleats.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

being "that"

Stewart pulled my head back towards him and I again nuzzled my face into his neck. It was the second time putting him back in his bed (after Mike's third time). I just couldn't bear to see his sad, blue eyes look pitifully into mine, as if to say, "mama, I need you". So, I let him need me. After all, how many moments a day do I dedicate to spending with him...only him? He's the middle child, and an independent one. So, I let him need me.
Gently, every so often, I was able to raise my gaze to study him. I began thinking of how amazing it feels to be "that" for your child, to be able to calm him just because you are the parent. And I thought ahead to when I won't be able to be "that". When he will need something else from me.
I wondered why God doesn't do that for us. I mean, he doesn't come over and cradle us the way we do our newborns. He doesn't hold our hand and tuck us into sleeptime. He doesn't actually gather us up into his huge embrace when we need him. Why doesn't he let me need him in that way? Is it that we are supposed to need something else, something more tempered and mature?
I am built to need those things. As a child, I need.
I thought about how maybe he could do "that" for me. Maybe he could harness all his might and power and love just to meet those needs precisely as I envision it.
And, maybe, he does all those things for me. Maybe he delivers those things through others. Beyond the muck of humanity, the reality of darkness- that he could place himself in us in such a way so we can meet eachother's needs. That there's a little of God in us all, simply enough to pass around? What do you think? (post comment now)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

army crawl?

Nigel is scooting around so quickly now.
He doesn't crawl, though. He uses his arm strength and drags himself around. Is that an army crawl?
He gets dirty quickly on our beautiful unmopped hardwoods.
He's a pretty determined baby. He goes to where Marshall and Stewart are playing and pushes his way right in. When they're not playing in one spot, Nigel watches closely, and contemplates where he could witness more action.
(Thanks to Rachel Vreeman-Fick for these awesome shots.)

Monday, October 8, 2007

crown hill

Crown Hill Cemetery is one of the three largest in the U.S. I read that it is 555 acres. I couldn't believe that it was that large, but I'm really bad at estimating land mass. In the 4th grade, we had an assignment to create our own country. Mine was an island, a one square mile island that had mountains and deserts and lakes and towns and cities. I am still convinced that it was the coolest country in our class (except for the size). I just didn't grasp what one square mile meant, and I was too embarrased to ask someone to show me. So, while I can estimate how much space I have from my car to the car in front of me, or guess how many inches of paper or fabric I need for a design, I cannot do it on a large scale. I digress...
So, Marshall, Stewart, Nigel and I went to Crown Hill yesterday for our nature walk. We're studying trees this month and I'd heard that there were lovely trees there, and that they were labeled. To be exact, there are over 100 species of trees. I envisioned them being labeled with their common name written out. Instead, they are more practically marked and identified with a numerical tag attached to their trunks. I learned later that you can get the key to the numbering system at the office, which has both the common and scientific name on it. We'll plan for that next time.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


One of my girlfriends loves hard candy. I prefer a good coffee.
But, the colors of candy, I like.
Thanks to Auburn, Cord, and Duesenburg, old cars are on my mind. Kinda like candy.
The colors and shine suck me in. And, the shapes are full of drama and curiousity.
My boys couldn't keep their little fingers away from them. I envied them. My eyes were awake though, enjoying the history, the colors, lines and reflections.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

tourists under five

We chased tourists today. I suppose we got to see a few neat science things and some automobiles. And it's always fun to see the kids having fun, but we were a little overwhelmed when Marshall and Stewart were smudging their fingerprints all the beautiful classic cars that they weren't supposed to touch. They were in heaven!

"F" is for "Fort Wayne"

We're in Fort Wayne tonight. Tomorrow we'll visit the Science Museum downtown while Mike has a hearing.
Then we'll head up to Auburn to conclude our month long study of cars at the Auburn Cord Duesenburg Museum ( and the National Auto and Truck Museum (
The kids most memorable things will probably be swimming at the hotel, eating take-out on the beds while watching cartoons on cable and sleeping on a fold-out couch. I remember those things being luxury when I was a kid too. (Actually the cable is still a luxury- sans cartoons. We plan on scanning the Travel Channel, HGTV, and the Food Network later.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

community group

On Wednesday nights our home welcomes a small group of friends. It looks like it will be between three to six couples this year, although at week number four, we have only had the same three families here, for one reason or another.
This is our third year hosting and each year our number has decreased. The last two years I loved Wednesday nights for different reasons. The first year, we had a phenomenol discussion leader who really facilitated honest debate (Brad Grammer). Wednesday nights also meant that my house was clean after a long push to ready our home for "company". Last year, the house got cleaned up slighlty less to prepare for slightly fewer people. The discussion was headed by Mike and a Pleasant St. (three blocks south) friend, Matt Aalsma. Although we had nice discussions, Mike as co-leader was stressful because he spent a lot of time on the readings and, I think, equal time being anxious or obsessive about being a discussion leader. Both years were true and full community groups. There was frequently a lively discussion, coupled with lots of "catching-up", eating desserts and drinking coffee, cider or wine.
I admit that I was feeling a bit uncertain about the small size of our group this year. Last night's gathering assured me about the beauty of the few. You see, in my mind, if I'm hosting something, I'm thinking, "the more the merrier". But, we are delving into some deep arguments about social justice, so I think the "cozyness" of our group is perfect for that. I was impressed by our leaders, Joe and Rachel, and the fact that our small size really enabled all of us to share. It was completely comfortable, like having coffee with a friend. I'm excited about group and about hosting too.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

rollercoaster paths

I find it interesting how people's paths cross.
My path has bumped and bent in so many directions. Maybe it's a little like the trees that we observed on Monday's nature walk. The branches grew up towards the sky and then swung down into the ground, rollercoaster style. Were the roots were growing out of the trunks at high places, confused about which direction to grow?
My path seems confusing too.
It has jolted at times. I recognize a jolt.
Mostly though, I've wondered why my path has crossed another's path at particular points, so seamlessly smooth.
I thought about that tonight when I met Beth Eisinger at Shannon's artist studio night. She and I both showed work at the Unusual Animals Art Show in August. That was our first meeting. Her work shows interest in suspension, sewn things, paper, plastic and recycled beginnings. Similar in so many ways. What could have drawn us both to these same expressions?
Beth told me that she graduated from Taylor University last year. I graduated from Taylor too. Only, there's a nine year space , between her graduation and mine. She studied art, and began her post-college journey in art. It took me nine years. That space is what I needed to get here, a time of me "evolving", marrying, working, mothering and experimenting with art and expression.
Why is she at this place right now? Why am I here? And, "why do we keep happening into eachother?
I think we'll be eachother's art admirerers.

Monday, October 1, 2007

the "ruins"

Marshall, Stewart and Nigel enjoyed a nature walk to Holliday Park. We've only been a couple of times but really like it there. They have a Nature Center (which I'm counting on for our "Nature Walks" during winter), a couple of rustic trails, and three huge play places that are side by side. The trees and gardens are amazing (from an adventuror's standpoint).
So, they have these "ruins" there. From a distance, it looks like the ruins of a round, classically designed building. We had been meaning to look more closely and so today we did.
When we got closer, we saw that we couldn't go into the ruins because of a metal fence that surrounded the entire thing. The "structure" was strange. I didn't really get what it was. It seemed like all these thrown together elements. Also, it didn't look like it was taken care of, with some water features that weren't working.
There was a brochure that gave a brief history of the "ruins". If I comprehended anything of it in the quick- in between running Stewart to the bathroom- read, this guy, Taflinger proposed "adopting" some sculptures from a building in New York City that was going to be destroyed. Indianapolis and Taflinger won the bid, with the sculptures arriving in 1958. It took Taflinger until 1977 to finish and dedicate the "new" "structure". It sounded like Taflinger kept changing the plans to add other building elements that needed a good home (statues from a closing convent, a fountain base from Fountain Square, etc). It also sounded like the city's changing political leaders may not have made the progress easy either.