Sunday, May 29, 2011

When Plan B is So Much Better!

Last Sunday, we had made plans to go hiking and everyone, including Jason, seemed great with the idea.  So it took me a bit by surprise when Andrew suddenly announced that we'd be staying home.

A bit later, I understood why.
 My guess is that, during lunch, he took one too many glances at our tall plum tree in the backyard and decided there and then he couldn't wait one more moment to climb it and prune off its suckers and unruly branches.  He'd borrowed the tools from his dad and so he knew he was all ready to go.

The truth is, he was more than eager to get going. One thing I've learned over the years is that Andrew gets a lot of satisfaction from pruning trees. He always has. And he always seems to know how to make it look right. And of course, he's doubly-motivated when the tree in question has been shedding leaves on our pool and giving our yard too much shade.

Once I knew the reason, I was happy with plan B. I actually think the kids benefited more from the work it provided them than a hike could have done for them. They spent a good chunk of the afternoon picking up sticks and learning how to turn work into fun.  In case you are wondering what I was doing while this was going on, I was definitely praying. I think you'll understand why after the video below.

You might not be able to tell, but he's REALLY enjoying himself!

They couldn't believe how much he'd cut off...and he wasn't done...not even close!

The work begins!

Are you sure about this, Andrew?

Our pile is growing and growing....

Looking better and better!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sewing Class Part Two & Three: Fun Projects!

As I wrote  in an earlier post, I am taking sewing classes on Mondays, and except for a tragic start (my sewing machine bit the dust..sniff, sniff), I'm LOVING it!!

Unlike what I'd imagined in my mind when I signed up for these classes, Mondays have not been all about sewing for me. There always seems to be some kind of drama before, during, and/or after my 2-hour class.  For instance, I blogged here about how one of those Mondays had been really exciting...and never mentioned anything about my sewing class and how it went. 

But now I will mention something about it. =)
 It was my second sewing class and it went rather smoothly, except for the fact that I pulled a muscle in my calf earlier that morning and could barely put any weight on my leg. I thought to myself, "Oh, no big deal. I can still sit and sew, right?"  Well, it was not going to be a sit-and-sew day for me...but a cut-and-iron-and-cut-and-iron-and-sew-and-iron-and-sew-and-iron kind of session. Without exaggerating,  I probably hopped around the classroom for the equivalent of a walk around the block. I was exhausted after that...but ever so happy to have made this pillow case for Miss Sunshine:

She picked out these fabrics, after changing her mind 3-4 times.

She can't wait to put things in it for our next car trip.

I thought it was cool that they showed us how to sew clean seams.
Feeling great about how the pillow case turned out, I was looking forward to the next class when we'd tackle the next project: a zippered bag! But in usual fashion, this last Monday turned out to be less about sewing then expected. My kids' principal called me Sunday night to see if I could sub in for one of the teachers and I agreed to take on three of her classes (7-9th graders). It was soooo much fun to get back in the classroom! It gave me a little taste of how it'll be for me to teach Spanish next year and gave me great motivation to get ready for that. So, with that all that excitement... and the fact that I'd have to pick up Jason and rush to Isaiah's fake birthday celebration with his classmates right after sewing class, I felt a bit rushed angst throughout the duration of the class. Thankfully, I was able to focus...and well, I'm happy with how my bag turned out!
While sewing this, I decided it would become my pencil case/carry bag for Spanish supplies.

I love bags with a different fabric on the was so glad to learn how to do this!

It was fun to learn how and when to add a tab like this one.

After all is said and done, I'm actually grateful that this learning of a new skill is not overtaking my  Mondays...or my life, for that matter... and that it's not leaving me out of balance. Yes, I'm blogging about it...and yes, I'm definitely enjoying it....but there's so much more going on besides learning how to sew these days that it's not become the highlight...just a bonus!  I love how God helps me out by giving me the right perspective through the things He allows in my life. He's sooo good!

Anyway...stay tuned for the last sewing post where I hope to write a little about my sewing teachers and my fellow learners. =)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Basketball Days

We've found a new place for our outdoors basketball hoop...

...although I'm not sure I love the idea of my kids playing ball in the street. We live in a fine neighborhood...but well, it still doesn't feel 'safe' to see our 6.5 year old and almost 9-year-old shooting hoops from the middle of the very same street that used to be a 'no-no' to them. As you can imagine, Andrew and I try to be out there as much as possible and the kids are constantly on 'car alert'. Isaiah and Brielle have even made it great fun to 'beat' the cars to their spot on the sidewalk where they sit on their balls and wait for the road to be 'all clear'. 

One thing's for sure, the McNally's old hoop is getting a lot more use these days.
These definitely have been Basketball Days for the Wachsmuth kids, especially Brielle as she sees her skills improving steadily (and her deck of Pokemon cards growing from making more and more shots).

One minor drawback from this is that my plants have seen better days...

...but I don't care. I'd rather see my kids grow up. Besides, I still get to enjoy the view below as I sit on a rock near the hoop and watch my two seedlings become oak trees before my very own eyes.

So thankful for the approaching summer...and for the joys of parenthood!!

Gone Fishin' and Tooth Not Gone Missin'

Andrew took Monday off --his one personal day of the school year-- to go fishing with Isaiah and to go to the airport to see his sister Melody off. Isaiah had school but skipped it, knowing he could just double up on the work on Tuesday for a rather long homeschool day. And it was.

But the fishing trip was worth it. He's hooked! And he says he's soooo ready for summer. Aren't we all?!?

The trouts they caught at Hagg Lake on Monday.

Meanwhile, the good little school girl who wouldn't skip school for anything in the whole world lost a tooth while in class. It was actually her second tooth, but the first one that did not end up as part of her dinner. She told us proudly that she pulled it out herself, and after catching her biting on a vice grip in our garage a few days earlier trying to pry the barely loose tooth off, we had no trouble believing her! She wore her tooth around her neck in a special necklace for the rest of the day. She only parted with it when told about the tooth fairy.

Clearly enjoying this 'magical' moment!

Trying to show me the gap left by the tooth she pulled out herself!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

80 years old today!!

It's hard to believe it, but my father turned 80 today!!
80 and in good health...80 and still in good spirits.

"As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Of if due to strength, eighty years." Psalm 90:10

Due to strength.
That's it.
That's mon papa.


Armed with joy, yes, the strengthening joy of the Lord. (Nehemiah 8:10)
Always joyful. (Philippians 4:4) 
No matter if betrayed, used, or abused.
Remaining joyful.
Not letting bitterness set foot in his heart.
Forgiving, and remaining strong.

Always teaching joy.
With that infectious laugh,
Always bearing gifts of joy.

Oh, the memories of laughter at dinner!
The countless stories that would have to
Come out in spurts between teary, cackling bouts.
The stories that would have us all in stitches
Merely because he was.

Oh, the scares!
The stories that would make my head reel.
How could he! Why would he!

Oh, the joyful songs!
The singing of happy jibberish that
Accompanied us whenever on our way.

Oh, the big dreams!
The need to conquer the world.
The 10 children, the buildings, the restaurant,
The bowling alley, the motel, the train.

Oh, the prayers!
The praying when the dream became
A challenge too overwhelming for him.
The calling on the Holy Spirit for help.
The trusting in the everlasting arm.

Oh, Daddy!
Just watching you live has taught me so much.
I pray I'll be able to receive many more memorable lessons from you!
I pray strength and joy will also be my trademarks when I'm your age.
Comme je t'aime, cher papa!!

Dad in December with his youngest (my only younger sibling, Myriam)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sewing Class Part One: A Bumpy Start

A few months ago, it dawned on me that it would do me so much good to learn a new skill. I blogged about it here and since have decided to sign up for sewing classes. I figured it is a good skill to have and one that I can pass on to my daughter someday.  It also made sense for me to choose sewing because I had recently inherited Andrew's grandma's old sewing machine and supplies, and Rosalie, my sister-in-law, had gifted me a neat sewing book with trendy patterns included. If I'm honest, there was something satisfying about learning on Grandma's old burgundy machine. Often believed to lack sentiment, I felt smug that I would be proving 'them' wrong.

 I was undaunted by the fact that it might end up being more difficult to use this Viking machine than the newer computerized  machines on the market these days. I had visions of myself bent over little Brielle working it, fashioning useful and not-so-useful things out of beautiful fabrics.

So I signed up for a four-session class through a local college at a sewing shop nearby. This past Monday was my first 2-hour session, and well...let's just say that at the top of the second hour, things started not going so well for me. By then, I'd become more familiar with my little machine as the teacher had gone over all the different parts and their functions. Grandma had taken great care of keeping all the paraphernalia that came with the machine, including the manual. With my manual in hand, I could follow the teacher's general overview of our machines and add my own observations as I compared her information with my Viking. I had gotten many compliments on my piece of machinery and everyone was amazed at the 'great shape' it appeared to be in. I was quite elated and couldn't wait to actually start sewing.

We finally got to that part of the first lesson...the part where you actually get to sew something, and that's when things went south for me. The teacher handed us each 2 square pieces of batique fabric that we would use to make pin cushions. Before I worked with the batique, I had to make sure my machine was dialed to sew a straight stitch and so I tried it out on a scrap of fabric and found out that it was set on the zigzag stitch. I tried to turn the dial and set it on a straight stitch, but it wouldn't budge. The teachers tried and couldn't make it turn either. They declared my little machine 'jammed' but were hopeful that they would be able to service it and get it back in working order by the following session. They set the heirloom aside and told me to quickly get acquainted with one of their class machines. I missed most of the instructions that followed as I played catch up trying to thread this new machine. Thankfully, one of the teachers noticed and got me 'caught up'. We made simple pin cushions and mine turned out looking like this.

Honestly, it wasn't the same not to be able to work on Grandma's Viking. And although I didn't want to give up hope yet, I couldn't shake this premonition I had that I'd be doing more of that...working on other machines. There was a sense of loss even before I got the call a couple of hours later to confirm what I'd been anticipating. The dear lady had to tell me the sad news that a cam gear was cracked on the Viking, which would cost $295 to replace. She told me it wasn't worth repairing, which I knew already. We'd talked about the prices of machines in class so I knew she'd counsel me against getting it fixed. I reluctantly agreed to let them have it for parts...and called some family members to tell them that grandma's sewing machine was basically beyond repair.

So, yes, quite the bumpy start for me...but I'm happy to know that I can be sentimental about things like Grandma's old sewing machine (no longer having the I'll-show-them-attitude but genuinely feeling the loss). It's also been fun to see how learning a new skill awakens my crafty side in a big way. Over the last week, I've made a necklace and earrings, silhouettes of 3 kids (my own two are shown below), tissue paper puff balls for a going-away party, and cards to go with the homemade gifts. My creativity is spilling out all over right now and I feel quite alive because of it!!

I have my next sewing class tomorrow and we'll be making pillow cases. Brielle helped me pick out the fabric this week since I'm making the pillow case for her. It'll be her 'travel bag' for all our car trips coming up this summer. With it, she'll have easy access to the toys and belongings she wants with her in the back seat, and a good place to put them back into when she's done with them. Just knowing I'll be making useful and fun things like that keeps me excited to be learning how to sew. I will obviously no longer have my own machine to work on (at least for a while), but my sweet friend Kara lent me hers so I can continue sewing and practicing after I'm through with the classes.

So anyway, that's how my first sewing lesson went.
Wondering what's awaiting me tomorrow. I'm a bit apprehensive..but also anxious to put together Brielle's pillow case.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beacon Rock, Baby!

Andrew's been itching to go hiking and he's had his eye on Beacon Rock for a while. This last Sunday offered us favorable weather so that we could finally make the trek.

Here are some of the sights we encountered, starting with a poor roadside shot of Beacon Rock:

 Here are some of the appearances we made:

Here's where we stopped on the way home:

Checked out Bonneville Dam on the Washington side.

Couldn't capture it, but a seal was fishing right in those waters.

Watched the salmon swim up the fish ladder.

Marveled at this mini alien-ish lamprey.

Now that we've got our first hike of the year under our belts, we are anxious to get out there again and tackle another hike. We really enjoyed the sights, the exercise, and the picnic lunch and snacks. It was great family time and it was great to watch our kids appreciate God's creation. I was reminded of the first part of Psalm 19, the psalm that speaks of God revealing Himself through His works first and then through His Word. Here's the first part:

 Psalm 19:1-6
 1The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
         And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
    2Day to day pours forth speech,
         And night to night reveals knowledge.
    3There is no speech, nor are there words;
         Their voice is not heard.
    4Their line has gone out through all the earth,
         And their utterances to the end of the world
         In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
    5Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
         It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
    6Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
         And its circuit to the other end of them;
         And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

My friend Kara shared with me the following quote that helps capture what I think the psalmist is saying:

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone,
but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.”
~Martin Luther