Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Play Dough Soul

Trying to be a good mom, I took Sophia shopping last night to find the PERFECT toy.  It had to be perfect (within mom's budget of course) b/c it was, well a bribe.  The kind that would sit on top of the fridge and inspire desire and longing so deeply that she would do the deed.  

We came home with store-bought Playdough. The whole she-bang too! Four colors complete with plastic scissors and cheese grater thingys.  Why? I'll tell you why.  I grew up with homemade play dough.  You know--the kind Mom whips-up with food coloring, flour, salt and who knows what else?  Then kept hermetically sealed in a vintage yellow Tupperware?(To this day old Tupperware reminds me of homemade play dough)  Oh yeah, its still around. It made it to my house! Not the play dough, the Tupperware! Those things NEVER die!  
In related news, I don't have childhood angst about hand-me-downs or penny pinching. I'm thankful for the budget savvy tips that I grew up with but I guess deep inside is a little girl crying out for real PLAYDOUGH!

Until we tried to clean up!  Thankfully, I caught Sophia before she made it to the carpet! On the bottoms of her shoes all the little pieces flattened into interesting patterns like a wacked-out tie-dye.  Like an ultra-thin Playdough crust, it was embedded in the soles of her new boots (well not new, hand-me-down boots of course.)  

One look at those boots last night and I realized again that its tough to be a mom!  I vaguely remember someone taking a knife to shoes with play dough on the soles, but it certainly wasn't me.  Last night, I didn't have the strength to start.

This morning, I groaned. They were still there.  Waiting for me to use all my mom elbow-grease and magic to restore the practical little shoes.   It wasn't till after Sophia was tucked in for a nap that I got out the butter knife and stared down the shoes. 
Scrape, scape scrape, bits of color flying into the kitchen sink.  In the quiet moments, sort of zen like, my mind wandered.  Scrape, scrape, scrape, Play. . .Dough, Play Dough Sole--sounds like a great name for a song or something?  A familiar tune snuck-up on me, from the back of my mind.  One of my favorite musical memories and an artist that supremely shaped my use of words in sound and meaning. 

I began to hum. . . . She's Got Play Dough on the Soles of her Shoes. Scrape, scrape, scrape. Graceland by Paul Simon incorporated South African music during the time when I lived in Swaziland.  The music of hope and freedom when Apartheid was a reality just over the border from my house.  Thinking of this reminded me of that reality and the monumental changes that have happened since.  If Apartheid can fall in my lifetime?  If countries can alter their history? Peacefully?  Right before our eyes?  

My heart went into my throat as it hit me.  We have so much hope to give our children. Suddenly, mid-stroke, the meaningless job wasn't so bad.   In fact, it was perfect.   A moment in life come full circle, perfect note, perfect tune, perfect rhyme.  This is your time baby girl, and I'll do whatever it takes, to give you the world.

Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes

She's a rich girl  
She don't try to hide it  Diamonds on the soles of her shoes 
He's a poor boy 
Empty as a pocket  
Empty as a pocket with nothing to lose  Sing Ta na na  Ta na na na  She got diamonds on the soles of her shoes  She got diamonds on the soles of her shoes  Diamonds on the soles of her shoes  Diamonds on the soles of her shoes  People say she's crazy  She got diamonds on the soles of her shoes  Well that's one way to lose these  Walking blues  Diamonds on the soles of her shoes  She was physically forgotten  Then she slipped into my pocket  With my car keys  She said you've taken me for granted  Because I please you  Wearing these diamonds  And I could say Oo oo oo  As if everybody knows  What I'm talking about  As if everybody would know  Exactly what I was talking about  Talking about diamonds on the soles of her shoes  She makes the sign of a teaspoon  He makes the sign of a wave  The poor boy changes clothes  And puts on after-shave  To compensate for his ordinary shoes  And she said honey take me dancing  But they ended up by sleeping  In a doorway  By the bodegas and the lights on  Upper Broadway  Wearing diamonds on the soles of their shoes  And I could say Oo oo oo  As if everybody here would know  What I was talking about  I mean everybody here would know exactly  What I was talking about  Talking about diamonds  People say I'm crazy  I got diamonds on the soles of my shoes  Well that's one way to lose  These walking blues  Diamonds on the soles of your shoes 

Monday, November 24, 2008

You Can't Make This Up. . .

Sophia loves all things pretty so when Daddy tried to distract her while Mommy was getting ready last week, she got really upset.  Outside my bedroom door I could hear the negotiations as he tried to entice her downstairs.  It wasn't going very well, at least that's the way it sounded to me as I stepped onto the landing and asked Sophia why she was so upset?  A perfectly reasonable question right? With a pained expression and a passionate look on her face she said "No! I'M TALKING TO DADDY!"   It was the little finger she pointed at me that was oddly familiar.  

Sophia's now potty trained!   It's great to see her run to the potty and go all by herself!   Except there's one problem.  No matter what we do (and we've tried LOTZ of things.)  She REFUSES to go #2 on the toilet!   I won't go into all the details--but like I said we've tried everything to get her to complete this task IN THE TOY-LET (the mantra in our house at the moment)  So yesterday when I found her trying to empty her own panties into the commode -- like a cloth diaper. I was so past frustrated I started to laugh!  
"Child!" I said "What am I going to do with you?" Straight faced and without missing a beat she said.  "Child! You can change me!"   
Sigh, there's a reason we call her Sassy!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Think I Can . .I Think I Can. . .No I Can't, Not Today

Today, well this whole week has been tough.  Not because anything disturbing happened, but my monster has been winning.  The past few months have been amazingly successful, new diet gave me the energy to exercise, which keeps the blood pumping to the muscles and the brain so that I can balance my precarious world with the right foods, the right sleep, the right meds at the right time and so on and so forth.   Changes in weather have always been hard, and the cold, and rain have now settled in my brain.     

I was describing the brain fog to my husband:  It's like having that car with the unpredictable starter?  Some mornings she starts up just fine and you feel like a normal member of society.  Other mornings you have to crank and coax until finally you can make it out of the drive way.  You plan your day so you don't have to make too many stops b/c you never know when she's going to refuse to start.  This morning, well the battery was flatter than flat, all you hear is an ominous clicking sound telling you to scrap your plans for the day.

On days like today I find the peanut butter in the freezer and Sophia shoes in the dryer, none of which are her fault, it's the monster's fault.  The little green leach that seems to gain my strength and stripe me of my ability to focus.   My mother called this morning--after two sentences she could tell I was hurting again--it didn't help that I've forgot a major favor she asked me for--sigh the monster wins again. 

Just Another Day . . .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Penny for Your Thoughts

It is easy to forget what a struggle mere access once was. There were no state schools in Britain until 1870. Thirty years on, in 1900, the majority of state schools still did not have a library. No, manual laborers and their families could not look to the government to educate them; they needed to gather resources on their own. Many of them did just that. Rose brilliantly evokes a rich working-class culture of self-education. One needs to read every detail presented in this example-filled study to appreciate the depth and breadth of this achievement.

Welsh coalminers, for example, created a formidable intellectual culture among themselves. The Tredegar Workmen's Institute built up a circulating library of 100,000 volumes. When an economic downturn led to massive layoffs during the 1920s, out-of-work miners in Ynyshir were reading, on average, 86 books annually. Likewise, during the labor shortage created by World War I, companies would entice and retain workers by providing educational and cultural lectures for their employees. John Edwards found that his real education began down in the pit, where he learned from other miners about the ideas of Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin, and Karl Marx. When he first heard of some poetry by George Meredith, he went to the miner's library to check out the volume, only to discover that there were already twelve people on a waiting list for it.

A middle-class visitor was stunned to overhear two miners discussing Einstein's theory of relativity. Another recalled a worker who would cheer himself up after losing a game of billiards by rehearsing the philosophical theories of George Berkeley. The man who spent a portion of his weekend year after year systematically collecting fossils from the mine's rubble heaps exemplifies a multitude of ordinary people thirsty for knowledge. Ironworkers would sing opera choruses together while on the job. Striking miners would give vent to their feelings by declaiming lyrics from Handel. Laborers would name their children after their favorite classical composers: "in one family there was a Handel, Haydn, Elgar, Verdi, Joseph Parry, Caradog, Mendy (short for Mendelssohn) and an unforgettable Billy Bach, together with an only daughter Rossini (called Rosie for short)."

From Reading Habits by Timothy Larsen, McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College. He is the author most recently of Crisis of Doubt: Honest Faith in Nineteenth Century England (Oxford Univ. Press), and he is at work on a book about the Bible in the 19th century.

Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today International/Books & Culture magazine.
Click here for reprint information on Books & Culture.

September/October 2008, Vol. 14, No. 5, Page 34

Friday, November 14, 2008


Anyone whose met Sophia in the last six months (since she's really started to talk) has been introduced to her shoes, and her love of shoes.  Seriously, after a polite and enamoured stranger asks her name, and her age, they get grilled on her shoes. 
This has been a very sweet little charade, but I didn't know how serious it was until Sophia crawled into bed with me around 3am, WITH her shoes ON!  Is there a twelve step program for toddlers?

Thursday the Thirteenth?

Of course a normal day would be unlucky for me.  One more way I'm off beat.  This Thursday, I was excited because the sun was shinning! (A rare occurence these days)  
Sophia & I set out early for G-G's (Sophia's Great Grandmother) they have a lovely indoor pool at their resort/retirement community.    

Four generations of women spent an hour floating, flailing and giggling.  It was wonderful on so many levels.   Sophia has a life-jacket like floaty that gives her the independence she craves. She actually floats around doing laps!  

After such a beautiful morning, I didn't fuss too much when I swallowed a mouth-full of SCALDING coffee! I'd filled up the to-go mug that seems permentently attached to my hand, and somehow got twice as much in my mouth and it was six times as hotter than I expected!
No big deal, I thought. Walk it off, you didn't need those taste buds anyway.  My tongue actually feels like it's peeling today.  But that was soon the least of my worries. 

Getting out of my mom's car in front of our house, I unloaded our basket of towels and wet clothes onto the grass next to the curb and staying bent over, turned around to get my purse. 
Next thing I knew my teeth clacked together as a blinding pain came from my skull.  My mother sucked in her breath!  I guess my head connecting with the small corner of the door had rocked the whole car!    I could hardly see it hurt so bad and the sound my mom made when she looked at the knot appearing on my head didn't make me feel any better.  

As if that wasn't bad enough, she went into mom mode, right in front of my husband.  Nate came out to greet us and winced as he peaked at my head, my mom ran into the house for a frozen bag of vegtables, (mom cure for an ice pack)  and wrapped it in a dish towel.  All of this was very nice and I appreciated it.  Then she put it on my head and tried to tie the ends of the towel so that it would sit on my head like a bandana!  "Ohkay mom!" I griped! "I have hands!"  

Today I'm thankful for her insistence, I only have a large bump on my forehead, and not a giant purple bruise.  Now I can laugh about it. My mother would have kept going (nothing stops her) so having her hands free might have been important.  But after she left, my head began to feel like a gong, and I decided to have a seat.  Even trying to leave a message for a friend I kept getting the information wrong.  Nate kept correcting me--guess I hit my head harder than I thought!

After all that I wondered about leaving the house! I was supposed to take Sophia & her friend to the park to enjoy one of our last 50 degree days.   I don't know if I would have trusted two unsuspecting girls with me either so Nate came along just in case. He only checked his Blackberry half a dozen times! But what a great place to work eh?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hmmm. . .I Just Thought It Was Me!

"Creative people's openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment. Most would agree with Rabinow's words: "Inventors have a low threshold of pain. Things bother them." A badly designed machine causes pain to an inventive engineer, just as the creative writer is hurt when reading bad prose."
From Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, published by HarperCollins, 1996 Psychology Today, Jul/Aug 96Last Reviewed 14 Oct 2008Article ID: 109

Growing up I had the hardest time finishing books.  I'd get half way though and give up.  I thought there was something wrong with me?  Except, I could easily finish a book if I loved the style of the writing.  In fact, if it was written beautifully I could read a manual for astrophysics or heart surgery.  Finally, it hit me, there isn't anything wrong with me--I'm just picky about the caliber of the written word.  Personally, I'm not a very good musician, but I do love music.  For me, the computer keyboard becomes my piano and the paper my score.  A piece of prose should sound as good to the ear as it does to the soul.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A day in the life of the Ndjerareou Corp. . .

Early morning wake-up call from Sophia--instead of a snooze button we turn on PBS and let her and Curious George brainstorm. In an attempt at equal opportunity Nate & I take coffee-duty VERY seriously.   

At our breakfast "board meeting" Sophia reported that she and daddy were working very hard drawing sirens in case of tomatoes!  Well it's the first Wednesday of the month so we have TORNADO sirens (I love it--when I was her age I thought giant tomatoes rolled through the streets!)   Side note: we decided that our artistic director was a bit of a diva, making sure everyone used the colors she'd chosen.  Talk about micromanaging! 

Then we reviewed our letters, we need improvement on G, V, E, and I but we have great results with M, S,D and many others.  Finally we adjourned so that Sophia & mommy could attend corporate training: today we learned Chinese. Nie-How!

Today at lunch Nate realized he hadn't left the house in FOUR days and needed a change of scenery--so we had a lunch meeting at Subway where we gained some important information:
Sophia does not like green peppers or raisins or chocolate milk.  This was duly noted by the team.  We do like "gaspeti, bulash, pickles, hangaburs, water and chips. Oh and carrots (fhew a vegetable made the list.)  

Our CEO (daddy) helped us establish our corporate goals:
Improving our communication and teamwork(aka. not bossing people around.) 
Work-life balance (making time to go to the potty during important play time.)
Finally, last quarters growth helped determine that income spent on Pull-Ups, in future would be allocated for corporate rewards.  Ideas for rewards included a slide for the basement (again improving work life balance) or team building lunch's to Chuckie Cheese!  

This afternoon I'm working on our public relations, Nate's working on client relations and Sassy's working on growing our. . . well just growing.  She's taking a nap, something that I think many corporations could benefit from!

Wonder of Wonders!

We filled up our gas tank for a little more than $30 bucks! 
 And it didn't take a fairy godmother!    
$1.99  Can you b'leave that?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Latest Adventures of Nate & SK

A.K.A. Why I haven't been blogging .  .  .
August: Nate took a new job with TOA Tech--we've been very blessed by this opportunity for Nate and a new phase of life for our family.  We knew going into it that it would require travel, and so we were thankful to stay in Cedar Rapids, near our support system.

August-September & part of October-- Nate traveled to TOA-US based headquarters every Monday and came home every Thursday night.  This was an intense transition-but a great way to get to know the inner-workings of his new company.   The first month was filled with excitement but by the sixth week Sophia turned 2 and 1/2 and suddenly I had a little teenager living with me!  All opinion and limit testing! She has a mind of her own!  

After all that Nate, had earned enough frequent flyer miles and I 'd "earned" some non-mommy time.  I was able to join Nate on his first trip out to L.A. and meet some of the incredible people he works with.  I used the time to sequestered myself in the Westin for three days to complete a couple of writing projects. 

We also celebrated Nate's 30 birthday in Cali by driving down to La Jolla (one of my favorite places in the world)! We got to see two great sunsets on the beach and the occasional curious seal.  For his birthday we went Sea Kayaking in Jolla Cove & sea caves.  It was an amazing experience!  Nate & I went sea kayaking in the Atlantic on our honeymoon.  What a wonderful way to spend a day!  

September--I became editor-in-chief of 'The Villa Voice' our neighborhood newsletter.  This has been an interesting venture since I'm actually the secretary of our homeowners association. It's become a great way to get to know your neighbors and makes me feel really good about any problems that arise while Nate's traveling.

Two words. . . .Potty Training. . . over and over and over again!

In August my Grandparents moved to Iowa and its been incredible to see how much delight Sophia can bring to their lives.  We've had all sorts of adventures already:  Pumpkin Farm, Tea Parties, Swimming, Trick or Treat, Farmers Market trips and many more.   They have such a fearless spirit! I've never lived close to my grandparents so the first time they offered to play with Sophia at the mall while I got a hair cut I almost cried!  What a blessing it is to have them close, especially on days when I'm mom & dad. 

Also on the family front--Nate's older brother Rueben's was around this summer back from Chad--so great to spend time with him.  Joseph Ndjerareou successfully completed Army Boot Camp at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.  He had us rolling on the floor in laughter with his Drill Sergeant impersonations!  Joseph will be completing his AIT training this December and returning from Arizona.  We're very proud of him.

The Ndjerareou family gathered for the weddings of Teri Marr and Jeff Radichel two very dear friends of the family.  Rueben returned to Chad, but not before he moved Nate's parents to Dallas.  We'll miss having them close but we're so glad Mama won't have to suffer through another Iowa winter.

At the moment daddy's home for the SECOND week in a row!  WOW!  And we're enjoying 75 degree weather in NOVEMBER! Too nice to stay in doors--this won't last long!   Thanks for your patience!  More soon--I promise!


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