Friday, November 30, 2007


Unfortunately, follow-through is not something I'm famous for. However, as per my resolution, that's changing. I hate this window. Really hate it. And we live just a few blocks from a gigantic fabric store, so despite the fact that I don't sew I decided that it was time to learn some new skills and then put them to good use. This was my temporary fix while I worked on my first sewing project. Briana gave me a sewing machine for my 22nd birthday, and until now I've used it once. Just to give you an idea of how un-crafty I am, I tried using my sewing machine unsupervised once and spent two hours trying unsuccessfully to wind the bobbin. Early in my pregnancy with Matteas I couldn't find clothes that fit, so my sister Moira offered to supervise my seamstress efforts and I managed to alter some maternity pants to better fit me. I think it was part blind luck and possibly some skills of my Mom's genetically transferred to me, but it worked out. My Mom tried to teach me to sew when I was little, with mixed results.
Then I discovered the fabric store. What intrigues me about it is that if you go to a retail store to purchase something made of fabric, you're limited to the patterns and colors someone else has already picked out; at the fabric store, you can make whatever you want in whatever color or pattern you want. Of course the options are finite, but barely. I don't know why fabric didn't appeal to me before, but it does now, in a lustful, take-me-home-and-do-with-me-what-you-will fashion. So I did.
These are my finished curtains. The rest of my kitchen still needs help, but at least the window looks good. I even lined them properly, and when one of my seams came out less than perfect I ripped it out and put in a new one. Taking the time for proper attention to detail is also something I am not famous for, except for when it comes to my food. And bathing my kids. And keeping my kitchen sponge sanitary. For my next trick, I'm going to make Christmas presents. I'm also going to start a sewing club with Briana and Anna and whoever else wants to join. Hey, if I can do it, anybody can.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Things that Bring Me Joy

It's a short list today. As far as I can tell, this is it: -my new bathroom mirror -"A Charlie Brown Christmas" soundtrack -caffeine I'm so tired I want to cut my head off just so I don't have to feel how heavy it is. The boys took turns waking us up last night, including a Jack poop at five o'clock in the morning which Aaron heroically changed. Jack wasn't even really awake, so I'm not sure how he managed to poop in his sleep. Tricky boy I guess. Both the boys also have pretty bad stuff noses and Jack has a nasty cough, so it seemed like we got woken up every half hour through the night. I have abandoned all thought of getting dressed today, and am drinking tea in my fuzzy Christmas pajama pants and a sweatshirt. It's one of those days where I should probably get the boys and myself out of the house, but the germs are just nasty enough that we shouldn't share. The only upside to cold season is that most of the time everyone else is sick too so we don't have to worry about it, but there seem to be so many different bugs going around just now. To borrow a line from one of my favorite blog authors, some days this job really sucks.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Parsely Sage Rosemary and Thyme

I found this Williams Sonoma dish at Value Village today. I think it looks really pretty with the tile floor in my kitchen, so for right now I'm keeping it there. I was just about to give up and go home when I saw this big beautiful bowl on a bottom shelf and am so pleased, because I didn't find much else. I did, however, find a familiar face in line at the cash register. At first I couldn't place him, so he kept catching me staring at him and then I really wanted to place him so I could tell him who I was and then he'd know I wasn't some psycho lady with a baby checking him out. Then I realized that he's a waiter at an Italian restaurant in Edmonds whose name I didn't know for long time so I referred to him as "The Pirate Waiter." Briana has since learned that his name is Peter, and we kind of like him because he is friendly to our children, a great waiter, and has a kind of casually-cool aura about him like maybe he'd be an interesting sub-plot type of character in a movie, maybe the wise bartender who helps the main character with a tough problem. So I was robbed of the satisfaction of assuring him I'm not in the habit of staring people down in line at Value Village, it was just that I recognized him but couldn't immediately place him, and then we'd have a casual laugh over the little misunderstanding, exchange a friendly "how have you been?" and be on our merry way. But you can't point at someone in line at Value Village and say "Hey, you're that waiter who looks like a pirate, and like maybe you'd be an interesting sub-plot type of character in a movie, maybe the wise bartender who helps the main character with a tough problem!" I wasn't certain it was him anyway until he walked out, carrying the CD player he'd bought up over his shoulder and perfectly balanced on his professional fingertips. Jack has begun to mellow towards his brother. He's always loved him, but has not always found appropriate channels for expressing himself. Lately we've been having little practice sessions on the right way to touch Matteas, and we go over the parts of his body that are okay for touching and then practice being gentle. I think it's working, and Jack is also maturing. I'm afraid that I'm going to blink and Jack will be all grown. It seems like he's been around a long time and it's strange to try to imagine my life before I had kids, but I look at his baby pictures and it seems like a lifetime has passed since then. Last year we tried to take Jack trick-or-treating, but he was totally disinterested. This year he was willing, with mixed results. He enjoyed the first two houses, neighbors he recognizes and says hello to often. The third house was a disaster. The guy opened the door and held out a dish of candy for Jack to consider, and while he carefully picked his treat a tiny but curious dog began sniffing Jack. Jack was unaware of the dog's presence because it was small enough to be covered by the candy dish. Jack is afraid of dogs. Terrified, really. About six months ago a puppy on the beach jumped up to say hello and put his paws on Jack, who completely freaked out and pregnant me got to swing Jack up onto my shoulders out of harm's way. That was six months ago, and Jack still talks about it and remembers the puppy's name(Jimmy). So when Jack failed to notice this tiny little dog sniffing him, I decided not to say anything and hoped he would continue not to notice. But he did. And then he tried to escape, but he was so startled that he had a difficult time working out an effective retreat, so all he managed to do was kick his left leg over to the right, stretching it out in front of his body and then trying to balance while screaming hysterically. It was pretty funny, but not as funny as would have been if I wasn't afraid we'd just scarred him for life. "Here Jack, have some candy, it'll be fun! SURPRISE! It's your worst fear!"

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Thank You, Karoly

Today would have been Karoly's 33rd birthday, but instead it is the day after the one-year anniversary of his death. I've dreaded this day for a while because now I can no longer say "This time last year, he was alive," and that makes it a little more real. I also hate that all of the "firsts without Karoly" have come and gone, and every Thanksgiving and Christmas from now on will be the second, third, fourth...On the one hand, the pain is a little less acute, or at least no longer a surprise; on the other hand, now the passage of time will be marked by the accumulation of occasions without him. Anyone who knew Karoly was familiar with his characteristic, no-holds-barred honesty. Sometimes he was a little less than diplomatic, but it was also one of his endearing qualities, especially since it potentially saved my life. If not my actual pulse, then certainly at least the content of the life I have now. When I was 18 and finished with high school, I didn't know what to do next. I didn't own a car and had to borrow my Mom's for my babysitting jobs, which was my only source of income. I decided I wanted to go to college and didn't want to run up a lot of debt in the process, so I called up the local Army recruiting office and told them I wanted to enlist. I filled out all the paperwork, took all the aptitude tests, and was guaranteed a contract to enlist as an Army medic with a pretty generous GI bill for college when I was done. I asked my family for their opinion, feeling pretty confident in my course but wanting feedback. No one, not even my Dad, voiced any objections. All I had to do was take my physical, at the end of which I would sign my enlistment papers. A week before this was supposed to happen we had a family barbecue, which was the first time Karoly had heard about my plans to join the Army. He was livid. "Mom, Dad, I can't believe you haven't told her this is retarded! You can't let Tirzah join the Army!" As it turned out, my family was waiting for Fr. Joseph to talk me out of it and were content to let him be the one to rock the boat. Karoly beat him to it. After hearing my reasons for wanting to enlist, he asked me to wait a while before I made a final decision. Karoly and I weren't close at that point, but I respected his opinion and valued his input, plus he was the only person who told me what he really thought. A few days later he called me. "Will you agree not to join the Army if I give you my car so you can go to school here?" "Um, heck yes." "You have to agree not to enlist for at least two years; after that if you still want to be retarded you can." So I enrolled at Shoreline and felt extremely cool when I pulled into the parking lot in my zippy Nissan Maxima complete with CD player and power everything. And it was mine. I love being from a big family, but when there are nine kids personal ownership is a little hard to come by. Plus I had just been given a car that I never would have been able to afford; talk about putting a spring in my step. I think it was good for me as a teenager to drive my parents' cars, but when you want to look cool it's a little hard to pull off in a giant station wagon with wood paneling. Oh, the punchline: the day I told the Army I wasn't enlisting was a week before 9/11.