Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sowbug by mngamojemo

I have crunched your body raw and found it foul.
Noble mulcher, wood-louse.
I have caught you in glass bottles
and seen you crawl free, your orange-pulp feet
on glass which has no friction.
Sowbug! You have filled my trailer with grey life,
and sought escape.
Non-invasive force, you do not even deign
to touch my scraps!
of water through your tail,
crustacean needing all that you have left.
Pillbug! You who rolls but cannot funnel. You who snaps
into a pellet, whose shell is gunship grey.
You who are mistaken for the sowbug,
who must live in damper places.
You who I have seen alone and flicked
and made a marble of.
Sowbug! Who swims the air when logs are lifted.
Born of shrimp and crab, land-creature.
Science does not care to know you.
Sowbug, Pillbug, grey and humble,
I have felt your soft feet creep
across my childish hands.
I know that you have rythm,
native swimmer, living in the dark
but out of water.
I have jarred you with a scorpion for days and seen it starve.

I took this hippo

And turned it

into this Giant Isopod

It's a relative of the roly-poly sow bugs, so of course, it has to roll up too.

It is a Christmas present for Lizbeth who has been begging me to make one for months since she saw these pictures and these

Here's a few more pictures for good measure

Awwwww, isn't he cute?

One of the things I like best about doing projects like this is that I start cutting and sewing with hardly any plan at all, and at the end, it looks better than I imagined it. The shape of the final project is heavily influenced by the shapes of the pieces I have when I cut the original apart at the seams. About halfway through this bug, for instance, I was still thinking of the part that became his head as his bottom, and I was considering making his legs out of fringe or cording. I started out with just ten legs, but decided that he really did need all fourteen after I saw how sparse ten looked. It was about 3/4 of the way through that I made the final decision to give him a marine isopod tail because the hippo's nose was just about the right shape.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Note: This is another post that never went live. It's some facebook posts from 2011.

Karen Stay Ahlstrom
When I woke up this morning, I thought it was a shame that I couldn't leave part of my consciousness in bed and pick it up later after at least some of me was rested.

I hate it when I can't get back to sleep.

I told Lizbeth last night that Princess Elizabeth had a problem. She didn't like using the toilet, and Queen Karen didn't like changing diapers. "What could help Princess Elizabeth use the bathroom?" I asked. Her answer, "Elephants." plain and simple.

Karen Stay Ahlstrom Is drinking chocolate syrup straight from the bottle. It's been that kind of day.

The beans we planted in preschool are really trying hard to grow. I feel bad that I have no intention of potting them properly.

I just skimmed a bunch of beekeeping magazines looking for pictures for my preschool lesson next month. It's amazing how much I don't know about beekeeping. The amount of information, biology, history, mythology, etc is amazing -- not that there's stuff I don't know. :)

in the spirit of Mike's recent doodle video, this is what we're doing to instill a love of math in our child.
Elizabeth makes a dodecahedron

Here's the butterfly we saw pump up its wings yesterday. Sorry the video is so terrible. Click through to my account to see more videos from the last few months.
Newly Emerged Butterfly

This butterfly came out of its chrysalis moments earlier. Its wings are still crumpled. The video is terrible because of the plastic and mesh, but I thought Grandma Kathey might like to see.

Last night after clipping her toenails, I played This Little Piggy with Lizbeth for the first time in a while. At the end, after giggling at my tickles, she said, "That was funny!" Then, to clarify, just in case I wasn't sure, she said, "The wee wee wee one was funny."

Lizbeth has found that if she stands over the heater vent, the air flow is just strong enough to lift her balloon to about chest height.

The other butterfly also chose that moment for its virgin flight. It sat there with trembling wings and got itself ready, then launched and flapped and fell to the bottom of the habitat and fluttered pretty uselessly for a while. Now it's sitting still again, probably getting its strength back for the next attempt.

As I carried Bridget into the front room this morning, I glanced at the butterfly habitat and saw a brand new butterfly with crumpled wings climbing up the wall. It must have emerged moments earlier. We all watched as it pumped its wings full of blood and tested its tongue and legs.

The first butterfly emerged!

Lizbeth was being a bit too quiet playing by herself in the basement, so I went to check on her. It turns out, appropriately, that she was looking at her quiet books.

Bridget laughing as she plays with Lizbeth's birthday balloon.

Bridget now rolls from back to front when trying to get something out of reach. Crawling is not far away.

I really don't like it when Peter works Saturdays. It means I don't get a day off either.

Lizbeth opened all her presents and left them strewn around the living room. With the balloon on the ceiling, that meant that everywhere Bridget looked, there were fun and enticing things that she wasn't allowed to grab and eat. Under the circumstances, I think that her frustrated tantrum was pretty justified.

Oh yes! It's a Totodo movie! Oh oh yes! Yes! A Totodo movie! Hooray! With Satsuke and a cat bus! Oh yes oh yes! (that was pretty much Lizbeth's reaction when she saw the DVD we got for her birthday.)

I also tidied up the front room, kitchen, bedroom and office. Then I wrapped Lizbeth's appalling stash of birthday presents. I think I'm just about ready for her party tomorrow. I need to decorate after she goes to bed tonight. We'll bake the cake together in the morning.

Just started the sixth (and last) load of laundry for the day. And since I started out with three loads to fold and put away, I feel like I've accomplished a lot.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar card game Lizbeth got for Christmas doesn't have a cocoon card. This was a problem till we realized that we have envelopes just the right size to slip a caterpillar card into. And if you hide a beautiful butterfly card behind it as you do, you can make it magically appear!

Had just gotten Bridget to sleep when the phone rang. Now she's wide awake.

The serpentine belt fell off Peter's car again. This changes our plan for the evening. Sigh.

We had a great playgroup today at the McDonalds playplace. Thanks for suggesting it Laura.

Magnetic toys unite!

Lizbeth made these octahedra all by herself. She was so pleased, she brought them to show me with a big Ta-da!!

Our house is tooooooooo cold!!!!!

(the furnace man came and jury-rigged a fix. He'll be back tomorrow with the right part. We're warming up now.)

I took page 72 from the January Ensign and posted it on the refrigerator next to the kitchen table. Now at every meal, we sing the Latter Day Prophets song and point to the pictures as we go. My 3 year old daughter Elizabeth loves this game and after 3 days can name several without help and repeat the others with prompting.

The furnace fan seems to be broken on a very cold night -- 9 degrees and falling

After a few days of experimental babbling Peter and I agreed that when Bridget said, "ma ma ma ma ma" when I got home tonight, she really meant it.

Trying to give Lizbeth more autonomy in the toilet training saga, I told her to go all by herself while I did mom's bills. She ended up diaperless playing with refrigerator magnets 10 minutes later when the poo arrived. To her credit she was *trying* to clean it up when I found her... Sigh.

Told Lizbeth the story of Abraham's servant finding a wife for Isaac. At the end she asked what the girl's name was. When I told her it was Rebecca, she was impressed that it's like Grandma Becky. I told her that Grandma tries to be kind and helpful like Rebecca. Lizbeth excitedly added, "and she gets me water!"

Lizbeth is sure that Joseph Smith got the brass plates from the wicked Laban

In discussing the trials of having a child in Lizbeth's particular phase, Grandma Kathey said, "It will get better." which I then revised to, "it will get different."

We got Lizbeth so excited about going to Sunbeams today that when we took her to the Primary room for Opening Exercises she threw a screaming fit that took a half hour to calm down from. And half the ward heard it since she screamed all the way down the hall to the Sunday School class I have to teach, and where Peter was waiting with Bridget. Then she screamed all the way back to Primary. Sigh. Then I had to give a lesson about how happy people in th New Testament were when they learned that they were going to be parents.

My anxiety level has been especially high the last few weeks. All my doctor has to offer are stronger meds that would require weaning Bridget -- and the fight that would result from that decision would give me more anxiety and guilt than the meds would fix. Any ideas? it's generalized anxiety that doesn't have a focus? it's just like a loud noise yelling in my brain -- very distracting. I'm not worried about anything in particular, just generally on edge. It makes it hard to be patient Lizbeth, attentive to Bridget, and productive around the house. With effort, any given moment, I can use breathing exercises and positive thinking to squash it back down, but it's work, and by the end of the day I'm mentally very tired. I'm even open to the idea of weaning Bridget, but she has never in her life been willing to drink from a bottle or cup, and I don't know how to make her give it enough of a try to start making the switch.

Lizbeth: Oh! You're getting a cup for me? And now you're getting a cup for you...rself
Me: Yes I am, and that was even grammatically correct.
Lizbeth: and now you're getting a cup for Daddy's self.

Due to the series of partial thaws followed by hard freezes in the week or so since the last snowstorm, most of the driveways in our neighborhood are sheets of ice. Peter worked hard to clear ours before driving over the snow, so it's been clean and dry for days. Our next door neighbors on the other hand have been chipping at it with a long chisel every waking hour for two days straight now.

Post office says they have no record that they were supposed to hold mom's mail even though I have a copy of the email receipt they sent mom when they placed the hold.

Karen Stay Ahlstrom Wishes there was a law requiring every piece of plastic packaging, including bags, to be marked with recycling information. If it's not recyclable, it should should be required to put that info on the package too.

Bridget has a stuffed toy piggie that is essentially a pink ball with a darker pink nose stocking out of one side. She loves this toy, especially chewing on the nose. I do not believe that she likes it because it looks like a *pig*

Sometimes when Bridget is tired, she's too agitated to nurse. She will whine and cry and arch her back and rub her eyes, but she won't settle down and nurse. I've found that if I Rub her cheek with one of her minkie blankets, she will immediately calm down, relax her body, turn her head and open her mouth. It's like magic.

just found out why I couldn't find any Discovery Toys sets at the toy stores I was shopping in. They're sold at parties like Mary Kay and Tupperware. Are any of my friends consultants? Does anybody want to invite me to one of these parties?

Peter got time lapse video of the caterpillars pupating last night

Shut my bedroom door to have some privacy while I changed my clothes. Lizbeth then had a fit just outside, pounding and kicking and screaming for "mommy car" to come out. When that didn't work she started yelling that "Bridget car wants you!"

Caterpillars. Notice three chrysalises hanging, one fuzzy hanging, and one that fell down and is sitting upside down with his head in poo.

Somehow, one of the caterpillars got knocked loose, and fell down into the webbing and poo at the bottom of the cup. He's still in the J shape though, with his tail sticking up in the air--poor guy. I'm pretty sure he's the one that was annoying the third caterpillar last night so I guess he deserves it, but still...

The last two caterpillars hung themselves up last night. They spend about 24 hours hanging upside down with their head curled upwards in a kind of J shape before shedding their skin.

Something like three jars of strained peas just emerged from Bridget's digestive tract looking virtually unchanged from when I spooned them in--though it smelled much worse.

The third caterpillar is hanging upside down ready to pupate. One of the other caterpillars has been annoying him for more than an hour now, poking his spines to make him wiggle.

Lizbeth woke up this morning, came upstairs and said, "I think I need to sit on the toilet." Then she went and did it all by herself!

Lizbeth's Sunbeams teacher said she did well in class today (her first time in the 3 year old class at church rather than nursery) but that she had a lot of energy. Another source told Peter that every time they sang songs Lizbeth wanted to get up and dance.

Trying to get a sluggish Lizbeth to go downstairs, I told her to keep moving. As she slowly crawled along, she said, "I'm keep movinging"

One of the caterpillars pupated overnight. Since he hung himself up overnight 24 hours earlier, I have high hopes that we'll see the one that hung himself up yesterday morning shed his skin today. I just hope it doesn't all happen while we're at church. He did shed his skin this morning, but he did it quickly during one of Lizbeth's 20 minute potty trips.

New Year's Day party at Brandon's went well. Lizbeth and Joel had a water fight (thank you autocorrect bubble on top of the post button) in the unfinished part of the basement. And later decided that what she really wanted was to lock herself in Peter's office and watch the Cars movie ALL BY HERSELF.

Looking back on the last year, it was definitely a good one. Highlights included welcoming Bridget into our lovely new home, spending lots of time with family on both sides, and having Peter feel secure and happy in his job.

At game night, they were pleased with my gift of Set (thank you Peter for going back for it). We survived Castle Raveloft. I sat out of the round of Poo taking care of Bridget. But their Hollywood Blockbuster game hates me and I lost in an increasingly improbable string of bad luck.

Lizbeth must be allergic to their house since each time we've gone she gets mysterious hives--this time on both wrists.

Bridget, who gets scared and cries when Mama growls or Daddy has a barking cough was just plain terrified of the monster three times her size that could not get enough of her smell. Luckily, she fell asleep fairly early in the night.

We had a great new year party at Dan's house. Lizbeth was gleefully terrified of his English Bulldog, and kept exhibiting prey behaviors like running away screaming then falling on the floor and lying on her back with arms and legs curled up to protect her vitals.

The caterpillars are not tiny caterpillars any more. They're big fat caterpillars. And one of them is hanging from the roof ready to shed his skin and turn into a chrysalis. Hooray!

Lizbeth is watching Peter play gemcraft and asking about the monsters. "Are those squorpions?" she asks.

Thinking about new years plans. Wondering ig it'd be ok to take Lizbeth to a friend's party with the intention of plopping her down in front of a tv to watch movies till midnight or so instead of getting a babysitter so she can go to sleep. Then I remembered that we do that every Friday night.

Lizbeth says: I'm a very friendly Lightning McQueen caterpillar. Brandon doesn't think he's a bug. But Mater came and the bug jumped on top of him and the bug flew away and the cars were so happy! Yeeeesss! Lightning McQueen has jumper legs so I think he's a grasshopper bug! That's so funny! He he! That's really good choice.

When I said good morning to Lizbeth today she said, "It's a great morning!"

Lizbeth yelling from time out: Mama! I need to be good to you! Daddy! I need to be good to Mama.

I exchanged some luxury socks at Nordstrom's for a Hello Kitty necklace and lip balm. Driving to the next store Lizbeth started crying, "I don't want this in my hair!" I turned around to see that she had managed to smear all the lip balm all over her face, hands, hair, and the window. If I hadn't been driving while handing her wipes to clean it up, I would have gotten a funny picture.

Last night I got out my New Testament picture file to show Lizbeth pictures of the Holy Land to explain where Grandma was going on her trip. After those pictures were portraits of the Savior. Lizbeth looked at a few and said "That's Jesus! He's nice."

Lizbeth says race frogs

Christmas turned out well. Lizbeth LOVED all her presents, and said so many cute happy things about all of them that I can't remember what they were to write them down, but my heart is full to bursting.

Grandma Becky gave Lizbeth Gramdma Fawnie's milk glass cat candy dish for a keepsake. Lizbeth said "I never seen a cat so best!"

Merry Christmas!

Had a great Christmas Eve dinner with the Holts. Not all the presents went to the intended recipients, but they got to the right people anyway.

Done wrapping presents. Peter seems to have a way to go yet.

Ran out of tape. Using Christmas seals from Grandma Helen's copious stash to hold the wrapping paper on.

Stopped in at Savers to see what they had left on day-before-Christmas-Eve, and to my amazement and great, what they had were the kind of toys and games I'd been searching for at toystores for months, and at thrift store prices! Somebody loves me!

Lizbeth saw me reading the Ensign magazine and said, "Where's Jesus? Where's Jesus?" Each time I showed her a picture of Jesus, she giggled in delight.

Lizbeth picked up a random Christmas card and "read" it aloud to me in the sweetest little voice. "For Baby Jesus. Happy Birthday to Baby Jesus!"

asked what Lizbeth talked about in Primary today. She said, "I was sad." When I asked why, she said,"I wanted you." I reminded her that she knew I would always come back for her when church was over, and she said, "Thanks Mom."

The Fed Ex man brought us a box this morning that said, "Live insects Open immediately." Lizbeth is now the proud owner of five tiny and very hungry caterpillars. She has been reciting Eric Carle, requesting caterpillar stories, wrapping herself up in Chrysalis blankets, and dancing as a beautiful butterfly all day. I hope the little guys survive all the love she has for them. Thank you Grandma Kathey

Peter sang, "Mary had a little lamb, she also had a bear..." and Lizbeth responded, "Her little lamb said baa baa, her bear said GRRRR!"

While we were chatting with Santa, Peter arrived, coming to my rescue with an extra stroller. We went back to the craft station to get our purchases gift wrapped, feed Bridget and retrieve the kitty before finally getting home.

I finally got her to move by telling her she was being disobedient and that time out was just outside the door. Then, we spotted Santa holding court in the direction I was hoping to head, so Lizbeth ran over and sat on his lap.

Lizbeth followed me through a toystore pretty easily, but once we got to gymboree she planted herself in front of the TV and refused to move. Meanwhile, Bridget is hungry and tired but won't eat in gymboree, and my arms are so tired from hauling her around without a stroller that dragging Lizbeth out is not an option.

Then we went to do crafts, where Lizbeth burned her mouth on spiced cider, and left her stuffed cat behind.

A mall employee took us in his golf cart back to our car, but Lizbeth didn't realize that the zip up vinyl walls wouldn't support her weight and she fell out of the golf cart head first while I was trying to load the stroller.

The carseat hit upside down and flipped over before coming to rest with a very startled but unharmed Bridget still strapped securely inside.

Went to the Riverwoods mall to find another toy store and do Christmas crafts. Half way to the North Pole store, both front wheels fell off my stroller pitching Bridget and her carseat out onto the cement.

Currently kitty obsessed Lizbeth asked to sing some Christmas songs today and then asked me to sing like a kitty. Inspired, I pulled up YouTube and now have a daughter obsessed with jingle cats

got up to feed the baby and fell back int bed. Worried that today might be a vertigo day

The other day, I was helping Lizbeth sew a felt gingerbread man, but we got interrupted before adding beads and buttons for face and trim. Later that evening I found her making off with said beads and buttons and was about to get mad when I found that she had been stitching them on by herself and doing a pretty good job too.

Two days of comfort nursing, a day of sleeping 19 of 24 hours , and a day of nursing strike make for a very uncomfortable Mama. I finally gave in and pumped out more than 20 oz this evening.

Enjoyed Utah Lyric Opera at the Orem library Messiah singalong last night. The tenor was fabulous, but the surprise joy of the night was the trumpet player in this number. His tone was amazing.

Tonight in her story, Princess Elizabeth Kitty told Santa kitty that she wanted a kitty for Christmas, and that it should be big, and sparkly, and say MEOW. Mama kitty remembered that we had just such a kitty in the playroom bucket o' stuffed cats. Elizabeth kitty thinks Mama kitty is magic

Is blessed to have the kind of husband who says: I rearranged my home teaching so you could go to the Relief Society Christmas dinner without hauling both girls along. No... Leave the crying baby here... I'll take care of her. I love you Peter!

Lizbeth sat on Santa's lap at the mall today. She asked for a snake and a candy cane. Confused, Santa asked her if she wanted a babydoll and a tea set. "Yeah" Lizbeth said noncommittally.

Bridget seems to be sleeping it off -- whatever "it"was. slept from 1:30 to 5, ate, fell asleep at the babysitter at about 8, and I had to wake her to eat again at 3 am to rellieve the pressure. She's been nursing steadily for about 30 min, but still hasn't woken up per se.

thinks last night's grilled cheese sandwiches were the best she's ever made.

wishes she knew why Bridget has been crying and moaning in her sleep lately

Bridget has finally figured out rolling from front to back and does it by herself on purpose!

At almost three years old, our daughter has invented the game of jumping rope

I found that if I blow a puff of air in Bridget's face, she'll gasp in surprise, allowing me to slip the spoon into her momentarily open mouth

Bridget likes to eat so much that she giggles in anticipation before every bite, and in delight after every bite. Of course with all that giggling she forgets to open her mouth.

Lizbeth: Aaaaaaaachoo... OH! That was a good sneeze!

Note: This post never went live back in 2009. I'm posting it now to clean up my drafts folder

Well, you can guess from my lack of posts that I've had a terrible month.

The last time I posted was around Christmas. I've been in therapy since the economic and family crisis craziness started last June, but even that wasn't enough to keep my spirits up under six months of constant stress and uncertainty. Seeing myself get more and more depressed and anxious, my doctors and I decided it was time to go back on medication. We picked a drug I haven't been on before because it's supposedly the best for breastfeeding. One real problem with it though is that not only does it take several weeks to kick in, but you actually feel worse before you feel better. It's one of the ones that increases suicides in some patients, and I got the full brunt of it. I had no energy, I felt like crying all the time, and some days it was impossible to make myself do even the simplest of tasks. I felt like I was swimming through molasses -- it was so frustrating!

One of the worst parts was that I knew there was no rational reason to be upset most of the time. I honestly couldn't trust, or often even interpret, what I was feeling or why.

The Ball Poem by John Berryman

The Ball Poem
What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over--there it is in the water!
No use to say 'O there are other balls':
An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him,
A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now
He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take balls,
Balls will be lost always, little boy,
And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.
He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up
And gradually light returns to the street
A whistle blows, the ball is out of sight,
Soon part of me will explore the deep and dark
Floor of the harbour . . I am everywhere,
I suffer and move, my mind and my heart move
With all that move me, under the water
Or whistling, I am not a little boy.
--John Berryman
Lizbeth's class is doing a unit on balls. Her teacher asked us all to send some balls to school for them to sort, experiment with, compare, etc. I thought that the teacher might want to see or use some of our other ball toys, but might not want me to send them ALL to school. So here is a sampling of our ball toys
  1. Ball and stick magnet building sets with marble sized ball bearings
  2. Mega Bloks Ball and stick magnet building set with tennis ball sized balls We also have a roller coaster for the big magnetic balls.
  3. Discovery Toys Marbleworks Marble Race Game
  4. Marble Mania Galaxy - Electric ball roller coaster for balls slightly bigger than marbles. This is glow in the dark and shoots the balls up a rocket to get to the top. Not my video, but it is the same set we have
  5. Chaos Toy - Electric ball roller coaster for balls slightly smaller than ping pong balls. This is about 6 feet tall and is fully customizable with all kinds of different ways to put it together. It's good for experimenting with to find just the right angle for bouncing balls, etc. The video is not mine, but is the same set that we have.
  6. Indoor golf holes and clubs
  7. Marble race type games for golf ball sized balls. One is wooden and the balls go around on static ramps before ringing a bell at the bottom. The other can switch which order the plastic ramps go on.
  8. Lots of Bakugan - Balls that transform into robots and Zoobles - Balls that transform into cute animals and a fun treehouse that the Zoobles can roll and play in
  9. Fisher Price Stacking and Nesting ball toy. It has ten half spheres that connect in several different ways
  10. Tumble Tower - This is another old Fisher Price toy with a bunch of marbles going through an obsticle course to get from the top to the bottom.
  11. A large collection of Fisher Price Roll Arounds balls (each one has a different moving toy inside the clear ball) and accessories Gumball Machine Here's Bridget playing with the gumball machine when it had batteries Caterpillar pull toy Ball Monster Tree House
  12. Ball and hammer toy
  13. Ball Ski Jump Chair
While I was looking for some of the older videos, I found these that show why we have so many ball toys Lizbeth gets a strike while bowling her first time Lizbeth says, "Roll Ball" Lizbeth plays ball ski jump on Mama's legs Lizbeth plays with Afterdark Lizbeth makes noises with a ball Lizbeth plays a first game And Bridget likes balls too