Alice’s Midsummer Night Wonderland

It was all a dream! Or was it?

David and Sarah had their play performances this evening. They have spent the year studying drama at our homeschool co-op. Last year they were in the class together, but this year David moved up to Center Stage with the older students, while Sarah remained in Limelight with the younger children. Both teachers are dedicated and incredibly talented. They manage to bring out the very best in the kids, as well as design beautiful sets and tackle difficult plays.

Flowers from her daddy

Flowers from her daddy

This weekend, Sarah plays a little mouse in Alice in Wonderland. The costumes are vivid, and the players’ act with the perfect flair of the dramatic needed for this fantasy tale. Nearly all of the students in the play had more than one part. Sarah opened the first act as the mouse and ended it as Alice’s sister. She memorized her lines, followed her cues perfectly, and was calm and excited throughout it all. It has been a wonderful experience for her.

My beautiful mouse!

My beautiful mouse!

The mouse telling Alice a "tail."

The mouse telling Alice a “tail.”

And, of course, nothing heightens the enjoyment of the evening as much as filling the seats with friends. We were so glad Nancy, Daniel and Julia could come and cheer on David and Sarah. And we were honored that Becca and Beckie came as well. Tomorrow night we’re excited that some more friends are coming as well as the grandparents. We wish Joshua, Rachel and Mamie were in town, and we’re sorry that Daniel has to work this weekend and misses the fun.

Sarah, David and a few of their fans.

Sarah, David and a few of their fans.

After Sarah’s play ended, the cast and volunteers changed the set and get things ready for the next production. In this one, David stars as Lysander in Midsummer Night’s Dream. David is a wonder! He did an amazing job with a LOT of lines. Not just any lines, Shakespeare dialogue. So challenging. All the kids nailed their parts! I was very impressed. We laughed and laughed at the comedic moments, were moved by the various romances, and hoped for a happy ending! The students (ages 13 to 17) were not intimidated by tackling a Shakespearean comedy and approached the play with gusto and panache. I’m so glad I’ll have another chance to see it tomorrow night for the second performance!

Demetrius, Helena, and Lysander in the middle of a dramatic scene.

Demetrius, Helena, and Lysander in the middle of a dramatic scene.

It is such a sweet privilege to see your children come under the teaching and direction of talented people, and to watch them shine in a fresh way. I’m very thankful for the directors, Stephanie and Calice, who give so devotedly of their time and energies to teach drama and produce such wonderful plays at the end of the year.

Thank you!
Project 365 – Day 114

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Wonder Tub

When we first chose this house, one of its selling points was that it had a hot tub. We moved our furniture in multiple truckloads ourselves, and it was very nice to steep my weary body in hot water after a day of hauling stuff. Kathy, in particular, took a lot of pleasure from it, and the kids all greatly enjoyed it as a miniature pool.

This picture was taken soon after we moved in to this house, back in 2004.

This picture was taken soon after we moved in to this house, back in 2004.

As it turns out, hot tubs (especially older ones, I guess) cost quite a bit to maintain and operate. We estimated it used about $30/month in electricity, not to mention the array of chemicals needed to keep it clean and pH-balanced and the water it needed to stay full (it seemed to have a slow leak).

After a while, we decided we weren’t using it enough to merit the continued cost and maintenance, so we drained and decommissioned the hot tub. Soon, a family of raccoon moved into the base of it, and we began avoiding that corner of the house. Over time, the deck that surrounds the tub began to rot, and our neglect was made complete.

David mightily heaves on a rotten deck board ... while Sarah provides moral support.

David mightily heaves on a rotten deck board … while Sarah provides moral support.

This weekend we decided to remove the deck around the hot tub, hoping to remove the tub and perhaps rebuild the deck into something more useful. As it turns out, we’re pretty good at removing and disassembling things. Now if we can only improve our abilities in the tidying-up and rebuilding categories.

Cleaning up from a demolition project is not our strong suit.

Cleaning up from a demolition project is not our strong suit.

Each Christmas, Kathy’s Aunt Stephanie gives me a new tool, perhaps in the hope that I will one day become more versatile as a handy-man. Kathy’s grandfather was quite handy; he had a huge workshop, stocked with every imaginable piece of hardware and tool — perhaps Aunt Stephanie hopes I will become more like her Dad, if only in terms of my possessions.

Truly a wonder of a bar!

Truly a wonder of a bar!

A few Christmases ago, she gave me a Wonder Bar, and it really came in handy on this project. The deck boards were nailed down, and this tool helped to neatly pull up the deck boards with minimal effort. Thank you, Aunt Stephanie, for your generosity each year, and for believing that I could actually put these tools to use!

Our deck in the Duckabush is large enough to pitch a two-room tent with lots of space to spare.

Our deck in the Duckabush is large enough to pitch a two-room tent with lots of space to spare.

As it happens, decks are the one thing that I can build, at least with proper help and supervision. The wrap-around deck at the Duckabush House is truly stupendous, and I built a good half of that myself. Time will tell if we can ever get the hot tub out and a new deck constructed.

The deck is gone, but the hot tub remains ...

The deck is gone, but the hot tub remains …

Project 365, Day 113

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Sunshine, Healthy Apps, and Getting in Shape

The sun has been shining for days here in western Washington. It’s been wonderful. Truly we have been spoiled. Twice we went to the beach with friends. On Sunday, Sarah and I went to Costco and picked out some beautiful hanging flower baskets.

Sunshine - time to go for a walk.

Sunshine – time to go for a walk.

Today the temps had dropped, but the rain that threatened to come held off another day. Throwing on a winter coat (making sure there were gloves in the pocket), I met up with two friends for a morning walk. We managed to get in two miles before needing to return home and start the day. There is something about sunshine and the crisp air that cries out to be enjoyed.

Of course, I am very fond of sunshine and warm air as well. Especially if I can go some place like this:

I never get tired of looking at that blue water.

Rachel, Sarah, Jenny, and David – remember this? Ahhhh, I never get tired of looking at that blue water.

Tim surprised me with an early Mother’s Day present on Friday. A new cell phone!!! I was tired from a long day at co-op, so I barely appreciated it that day. However, I’ve been playing with it ever since. And today, my bright pink case arrived.

"Pink is my signature color."

“Pink is my signature color.”

I am attempting once again to take control of my eating and lose some weight this spring. I added the app for in order to log my food and calories. I have tried to use this system before, with little success. This time I have made some tweaks to my recording, and so far it’s been a huge encouragement. I have a few friends who are also tracking their food and exercise. Seeing their exercise notifications pop up has given me new motivation to get moving.

FriendGirl has burned 280 calories doing 52 minutes of cardio exercises, including “Walking, 3.5 mph, brisk pace”
JJ255 has burned 202 calories doing 25 minutes of Aerobics, high impact

There’s even a category to record light cleaning and yard work. These programmers think of everything!

The next app I installed was Tim and Rachel both use this app for recording some of their exercise. I have only used it three times, and I already love it. With the gps turned on in my phone, I can start off for a walk or a jog and the phone automatically tracks the time I exercise, the distance I travel and the calories I burn. Love technology!!

Add to that a weekly weigh-in with two other friends, and it is obvious I am taking this spring shape up seriously. I’ve got a little bit of everything –

- recording food/tracking calories
- no sugar or junk food
- at the same time freedom in how I choose to distribute the daily calories
- walking and light weight training
- weigh in/accountability with committed friends

I am hoping to see great progress over the spring and into the summer. In the meantime I went for two walks today, made healthy food choices, and was under my calories. This is day 15 of recording my food! Praying to be faithful for the long haul.

Project 365 – Day 112

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A Cat’s Life

If for some reason I was not permitted to be a human being, I think I would like to be an otter. Of all the animals in God’s Earth, otters seem to have the most fun with the least amount of hardship. Even zoo otters seem to enjoy themselves greatly, lying on their backs in the water, sucking down endless streams of fish from their human keepers.

Not actually me.

Not actually me.

But if I couldn’t be an otter, I think I would like to be a pet cat. Not for me the scrappy life of a tough street cat — I’d want to be a pampered inside cat, luxuriating my days away in a patch of sunshine in some cozy bedroom.

Sarah gives Marco a little brushing love.

Sarah gives Marco a little brushing love.

Our cats like to sleep wherever it is warmest and most peaceful — often in my bedroom. They especially like to shed fur on my clean clothes or test their claws on any bills or important papers I might have lying out. But when they aren’t sleeping, they love to be groomed with a cool wire brush we bought for them.

It is hard to photograph the cats when they are being brushed ... they are not particularly passive in the experience.

It is very difficult to photograph the cats when they are being brushed … they are not particularly passive in the experience.

Marco, in particular, enjoys the process so much that he forgets the purpose and wants to wrestle with the brush. He isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, I’m afraid.

Marco particularly enjoys being brushed on his neck and belly.

Marco is very blurry when he is being brushed on his neck and belly.

Project 365, Day 111

[Disclaimer: Kathy distinctly reminded me to take a picture today, but I forgot, so once again I'm hurriedly blogging about whatever I can stage in the late evening.]

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Why Would Anyone Want to Blog Everyday?

It’s always a bad sign when the evening draws to a close with these sort of words:

“Why did you want to do a Project 365 anyway?”
“Me? You’re the one who thought it’d be some sort of a fun idea.”
“What? I distinctly remember YOU were the one who decided we should do this.”
“Decided? Is that code word for bullied?”

Yep the sheen and shine of the Project 365 is wearing thin. 109 posts so far in 2015, and we’re getting tired. Or maybe we started out tired. Or maybe we’re just lazy bloggers.

Heading to Costco with my girl!

Heading to Costco with my girl!

The difficulty lies in the fact that we’re not just taking a picture every day, we’re also blogging every day. It seems boring to list all the things we do in a day. What kind of a post is that? Hardly scintillating. We just don’t lead that exciting of lives. Or it seems to be bragging – oh, look we did this and this and this. That’s not very interesting. And even if it was, it probably wouldn’t be good for us to be boasting. I seem to recall a Proverb that mentions letting others praise you and not your own lips.

Now deep, meaningful, insightful blog post, that would be worth reading. The problem is (at least today), I started too late in the evening to be thoughtful. If I did strive to craft a touching, moving post like that it would take me at least an hour. I prefer sleep to blog fame and fortune.

Thankfully we are mainly blogging for our own family – grandparents (who already love us), our college kid (who actually like to see the pictures of the random things we do during the week), and kids at home (who are cheerful, faithful readers). So that means I can post my daily pictures, throw together a few (hopefully mostly coherent) words and call the Project 365 post done for the day.

For our family far away – we miss you! Here is a peek at what we did today (the rest of you can skim on by).

It was gorgeously warm and sunny here today. We walked up and down the block several times, enjoying the spring weather and gorgeous flowers growing everywhere. We did school. We decided to cancel piano lessons (songs aren’t ready yet). David mowed the neighbors’ lawn. Daniel worked a LONG shift at Chick-Fil-A. We went to the beach with a big group of moms and kids. I met my wonderful friend Julee and went to a BSF welcome/intro and signed up for next year’s Revelation class (who wants to join me???). We went to small group. David washed all the dishes (by hand as we still don’t have a dishwasher) and cleaned the kitchen. Sarah did a lot of math. We watched some shows on Netflix. Everyone went to bed. I made some food for tomorrow and did some laundry.

Beach time - almost too hot for these WA natives.

Beach time – almost too hot for these WA natives.

There you have it. The picture and accompanying blog for the day. Thank you for keeping the expectations low but the cheer high. Night!

Project 365 – Day 110

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The musings and ravings of a bloggart family