Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Life of a Leaf

In high school, one of my teachers observed that most people she knew were either leaves floating idly along the river of life or motorboats with speed, direction, and purpose. I used to think that was a motorboat, but I was wrong. I'm a leaf.

Tonight, my kids and I were going through some photo albums, and a realization hit me. Most of my life, so many of my favorite memories are just products of chance. Jobs that I've taken, places I've visited, people I've met... They've all been strange, random twists of fate.

I recall that I had a plan once long ago, but it was derailed, and I never bothered to make a new one. Since Baby #3 was born, I don't think I've ever been able to stick to a plan that extended later than dinnertime.

My husband -- I met him through a bizarre chance of fate. He didn't even live in the same city, but his mother and I worked at the same school. He was there to visit her, and I bumped into them in the teacher's lounge because I was changing to go running. That may sound pretty normal, but I never run. Never. Ever. Not for fires, not for shoe sales, not for anything... I was on a train in Paris once when we got a bomb threat. Sirens were blaring; the gendarme were whizzing through the cars to evacuate us. I didn't even break into a trot. What in the world possessed me to go running that day, that one day of the year that I would meet him? Any other day, I would've hopped into my car parked near my classroom and missed him altogether. As I recall, I didn't even like him at the moment, but here we are, nearly two decades later.

Those oft-quoted lines from Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" come to mind:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Most people infer that the road less traveled is the superior one, but I'm not so sure. Sometimes, I think that's just an elegant way to say "I've made a hu-u-u-u-u-ge mistake."

My father has wisely stated, "A lot of things could've been, but I don't bother thinking about them because there's no point." Sadly, I lack his placid temperament, and I often wonder what life might have been if I'd stuck to a definite plan. Easier? More focused? More profitable? For sure, I'd be doing something more productive than posting blog entries between bouts of ring-around-the-rosies.

On the other hand, if I'd been more goal-oriented, I'd have missed out on some of the best memories I have, like karaoke-singing on the Champs Elysees and "The Lebanese Detective" (that's another post maybe). Heck, two of my children were complete surprises, and I can't imagine life without them.  These memories, these people that have come in and out of my life -- a motorboat would've missed them, but they really are the details that make all the difference.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Pikmin and the Princess

Ok, I know Halloween is over, and this post is late, but I still wanted to post a pic of my kids this year.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a blast making the kids' Halloween costumes. It's so much fun listening to the kids' ideas for what they want to be and then trying to figure out how to make that happen. It's not always easy, but I definitely learn a lot.

This year, we had a Pikmin and a princess.

For Baby Girl, I confess, I did nothing. She grabbed a dress from out of the play clothes pile, and we were done. (Totally lame, Mom.) However, I beg for leniency this year because my sewing machine was in the shop for some much needed TLC most of October. In fact, I sewed my son's Pikmin costume by hand because I wasn't sure Hester (my machine) would make it home in time. Thank goodness trick-or-treating is done in the dark because the stitching is pretty bad and very uneven.

For the costume, I used McCalls pattern M5508. Oddly enough, I also used the overalls part of this pattern several years ago for Mario and Luigi costumes. I guess this has been a great pattern for us!

I modified it a bit by omitting the pocket and adding a stem on the hood. The stem has a wire in it (cut from a coat hanger) and polyester filling to help it keep its shape. The weight of the stem kept pulling the hood off, so I also added a couple of snaps to help keep it on. Probably a light stretchy fabric with a hood fitted very closely around the face would've helped the stem stand straighter, but my son loved being cozy in his fleece on a chilly Halloween night.

Originally, I planned to do pants, too, but my fingers were too raw and sore to go on. If you look closely at the photo of it, you might notice that I didn't even bother hemming the bottom of the garment. My fingers had had enough!

Actually, as I stitched, all I could think of was my mom. When I was in high school, she made me a gorgeous dress once and hand-stitched hundreds of lovely flowers on the skirt of it. As much as I loved that dress then, I have sooooo much more appreciation for what she did now. It must have been a royal pain in the rear. She was a good mom.

Of course, nobody over the age of 10 knew what my son's costume was. At first, when asked, he would go through a long spiel about what pikmin are. (Pikmin are characters from a video game. There are various pikmin types that possess different abilities. He was a water pikmin... etc., etc.) After three or four houses, though, he boiled the speech down to, "A video character."

Image of pikmin from:

However, when we passed a large group of trick-or-treaters on the street, several seven-year-olds cried out, "Ooooh! Look! A pikmin!" This gratified my son to no end. I decided that seeing him so happy and proud of his costume was worth a little blood sacrifice.


P.S. For those who may be wondering, I do indeed have three children, though only two are pictured today. My eldest son has decided that he's "too old for baby stuff." No doubt, he's figured out that pounding the pavement for sweets is for chumps when he can sit in the comfort of his own home with dad -- right next to the candy bowl.

Super Frog

Image from:
Yesterday, we had such a good laugh that I feel compelled to share. 

On our way to church, my kids were practicing their memory verse for Sunday school, which was taken from the book of Philippians. This is what Boy #2 recited:
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Amphibians 4:13." 
Of course, this is from the same child who, around age 2 or 3, insisted that, "God is not a person. He's a turtle... and a scientist."

Seems to be some sort of pattern going on with him. LOL!
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