Saturday, April 27, 2013

Seventeen done. Thirty-three more to go!

My sister is a part of a World Vision "vision" team for Covenant Congo Kids soon going to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is certainly going to be a trip like she has never before taken, and it has stretched her comfort (discomfort actually) zone by leaps and bounds.  There's a lot to do to prepare for the trip - meetings with team members,
studying and reading about the area, fund-raising dinner and events, inoculations (yipes!), visa preparations, prayers and more prayers.  She has also made the commitment to bring with her 50 midwife kits to provide as women give birth.  I was both humbled and honored to be able to help her out with a little portion of the kit making yesterday.  We cut up clean white sheets into 36 inch squares and hemmed them.  It especially hit home having a daughter who recently gave birth in a modern, clean hospital surrounded by medical staff and technology and a daughter-in-law who awaits an upcoming birth, also in a modern hospital environment.  Quite different than the birth supplies present in Congo under the best of circumstances:
2 bars of Ivory soap
2 6 inch cloth strips for tying off the umbilical cord
a 36 inch square of white sheeting for the mother-to-be to laying on during delivery
 razor blades to cut the umbilical cord
2 hand towels and 2 wash cloths
 a little hat for the newborn, a swaddling blanket and a little t shirt.

The completed midwife kit.

While we worked together, I think of some of the many statistics Diann mentions as we whir and press:
* According to the World Indexes of Human Development, the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), this is the poorest section in the poorest country ranking dead last at 189 out of 189.
* 1 out of 6 children will die before their 6th birthday.
* Mortality rate for mothers giving birth is 1 out of 24.
* 43 % of surviving children will have stunted growth due to malnutrition and disease.
* Current diseases: malaria, measles and polio.
* Half of children age 4 and up are in the work force, primarily carriers of water that is tainted.
* Statistics report that only 12% of the population has access to clean water (the actual percent may be close to 6%, but the "official number is 12%).
* Life expectancy is age 48.
* Annual income is under $400.00 per year.

Sewing and ironing - the Nelson sisters at work!

If you would like to follow along with the team's trip, you may go to this link.  I'm sure they would appreciate your prayers and thoughts as well!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Um. Er. Early Literacy?

The US magazine was issue 947 from April 8, 2013.

I had a whole day with my two girls recently.  Starting with breakfast we had a day full of fun!
Miss E was lingering on (and on) as she was eating her cereal and I grabbed a magazine left on the table.  Okay, I admit it ... I was browsing a less-than-stellar literary masterpiece not full of insight, wisdom and substance.  And when Miss E became curious as to what I was looking at, I went with it as this would test out the five practices of Early Literacy (determined by ALA guidelines):

First, we talked about all the pictures we saw as pages turned in the magazine.  I must clarify that we did not talk specifically about the names and claims to fame.
Yes, there were singers in the magazine. Taylor, Katy, Nikki, Justin...
There were also readers in the magazine because if they are actors they must read scripts.
And writers of the pages.
And, no doubt, players such as Tiger Woods.

Am I a Grandmother worthy of being left alone with these children?
I'd say so with all the teaching I do about pop culture and current events with intentions of
practicing Early Literacy with my two little Sweeties. 
Sign me up for the c-o-o-l Grandmother's Club! 

Now, come along with us as we read US.

While we paged through the magazine, Miss M looks on with minimal interest.

E:  I like her flowers!
Me:  I like that she's carrying more than just flowers and will bloom even more in the next few months! She's pregnant just like your Mommy was with Maja not too long ago - do you remember that?

When we came to this page featuring K. Kardashian here's what happened - I kid you not.
E: I like her because she matches my egg. And then she reached over to the nearby table top and grabbed a blue plastic Easter egg for proof.

I found this page to be quite interesting in noting all the hairstyles J. Timberlake has had (pg. 48), starting in eighth grade when a stylist commented that his curls "were not a perm."
I asked E to choose her favorite style.  She pointed to the bleached look on this top row. 
Me:  Do you like it because it's yellow hair?
E: I like his earrings.
(Interviewer's note: his earrings, in fact, were the flashiest silver hoops in the whole round-up of looks and locks).

Me:  I like this outfit.  I think I might like lime green pants with a denim jacket.
E: I like pink pants.  You can't wear green pants, MeMo.

E (about Taylor Swift):  I don't like her because of sparkles.
Me:  But I thought you liked sparkles?
E: No, I don't.
Interviewer's observation: this has nothing to do with sparkles, actually.  I think E was unimpressed due to the lack of color on Ms. Swift's dress that is actually quite beautiful.

On pages 86-87 we looked at women who have undergone serious chopping-off haircuts.
Me:  E, these are girls who have had long hair and then went to get you have a favorite one?
E: (pointing to Emma Watson with long hair) I like her the best.  She is wearing purple.
Interviewer's comment: At least she was in Harry Potter which is connected to one really good book series.

Two-page spread on 100-111 about women who change their hair color. 
E: I like this girl because she has pink hair and purple hair!
 (No brainer on this one coming from a girl who loves those two colors in a very serious way.)

E:  Why is that woman making a face? I can make a face  like her!
There you have it:  early literacy at work!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On Books and Luncheons

Here we see the Parkyns reading together.  All around Hamming Hall these R-E-A-D posters
featured North Park faculty and staff reading books of choice.
 I understand these posters hang regularly throughout the university library.

About this time every year is the Annual Spring Luncheon at North Park University.  And this excites me greatly, ever since Linda Parkyn started hosting such events! She has such a spirit of fun, and likes to go with themes and colorful table settings and good food...exit the ho-hum ladies luncheon, thank goodness! 
The invitation came and the subtitle was
 Eat. Pray. Love.
"Celebrating North Park University Women Who Love Books"
I knew I had to come.
The luncheon was held in Hamming Hall - formerly the old college chapel and gym.

For a dreary spring, orange was just the right pop of color for the table linens.
Centerpieces at each table featured a stack of books tied together with string and a white tulip tucked into the string.

We were encouraged to bring a book to swap. Bye-bye Edgar Sawtelle; hello The Happiness Project.

Following a very delicious lunch and cherry pie ala mode, Dr. Parkyn talked about books and her Book Club. North Park's (retiring soon) librarian, Sally Anderson, talked about her love of reading. Then it was time for others to share their favorite books as invited by Dr. Parkyn beforehand. Luckily, I was granted my request to highlight some of my favorite children's books.
Yes, YUMMY is a book with no sugar coating...and one of Miss E's favorite books!
Now for your own reading list pleasure, here are some of the wonderful books mentioned to get
you started wherever you are. 
 Thanks, Carissa and Marit for compiling this list to share:

Recommended Reads…

  • Walking a Literary Labryinth: A Spirituality of Reading by Nancy M. Malone
  • Walking with Lincoln: Spiritual Strength from America's Favorite President by Thomas Freiling
  • Olivia by Ian Falconer*
  • Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales by Lucy Cousins*
  • Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, Lauren Child and Tiina Nunnally*
  • Tea for Ruby by Sarah Ferguson and Robin Preiss Glasser*
  • The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand
  • The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
  • The Snow Child: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey
  • My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
  • Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason and Bernard Scudder
  • Independent People by Halldor Laxness
  • Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh
  • House of Prayer No. 2: A Writer's Journey Home by Mark Richard
  • Land of a Hundred Wonders by Lesley Kagen
  • Evel: The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel: American Showman, Daredevil, and Legend by Leigh Montville
  • All That Is by James Salter
  • The Ordinary Acrobat: A Journey into the Wondrous World of the Circus, Past and Present by Duncan Wall
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel by Garth Stein
  • The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum
  • America America: A Novel by Ethan Canin
  • Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories by Karen Russell
  • A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
  • The Smart One by Jennifer Close
(*presented by Yours Truly)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dress-alike Sisters

Given all the hoopla going on (Facebook) about it being Siblings Day, it got me to thinking about a sore subject from my past:
I wanted matching outfits for me and my sister.
And it never - to my recollection - happened.
Our Mom sewed most of our clothes, so she had the skills.  Was it that the fabric lengths she had were too limited and one outfit was all she could squeeze out of it?
Was she ahead of her time with recognizing the need for individuality?
Was she just too tuckered out with four kids to raise that the idea never came to her?
I guess I'll never know and need to get over it, right?

As a baby, it would hardly have been possible to dress alike.

Here we are in Mesa Verde with Dad in the late 50's.  Once again, we are not attired matchy-matchy.

Here we are on Easter Sunday in Arvada, Colorado in the 60s. Mom made my dress.  Diann "made" my hairdo!
But, alas, once again we are not dressed alike.

Now with two Grand-daughters, I can finally have a chance to
 sew two matching sister dresses for Easter!
I realize this is just a tiny window when they are willing to be "twins" and I'm going for it!
(My one time sewing matching dresses for my daughter and me was rather a bust over 25 years ago...sorry, Anne for putting you through that.)

Here's a bit of a closer look at the dresses.
Round and round and round she goes; when she she stops  nobody knows!

Knowing her Mom loved swirling, twirling skirts on dresses I had to make sure the dress had spinning-in-circles appeal for Miss E... Miss M can't take advantage of that factor just yet.
I also made matching-to-the-dress hair accessories for the girls.

Too bad these dresses can't be worn without sweaters, leggings/tights!
It's still too cold in the chilly Midwest.
Here are my two little Sweeties in their matching dresses.

Thanks for letting me work it out one generation later.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Reveal Concerning Pink or Blue

Finding out that our son and his wife were expectant parents was such a happy occasion. Finding out that they wanted to share the happy results after an ultrasound was fun, too, when they invited us to a "Gender Reveal" party for our family.
There was equal exposure for pink and blue present - John's shirt was pink with blue giving away their "secret" just yet! 

This is how we were greeted when we walked inside our condo.
Pink and blue everywhere!  Our City Nest  has never been so decorated.

The kitchen is abuzz with John and Kari making burritos, rice and beans.

Dinner was great, really tasty. But we all wanted to get to dessert ASAP.
We're all so excited when John opens up the cake plate lid! The time has come!!

The cupcake I selected just happened to have a pink question mark on the frosting.
On the count of "three" we opened up our cupcakes ---there is BLUE "goo" inside!  It's a BOY!

What a fun way of finding out that our Little One is going to be a boy!
There you have it!

C  O  N  G  R  A T  U  L  A  T  I  O  N  S !!

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Birthday Theme Reveal

Please don't take this the wrong way...I don't mean to be mean to reveal my sister's age! If you know her, you would never even guess that she has reached this milestone.  If you know us, we celebrate our birthdays in a big way with themes and gifts and an outing that is always fun, fun, fun.
 So, this year, this song was the basis of her theme:

When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine?

If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?

You'll be older too,
And if you say the word,
I could stay with you.

I could be handy mending a fuse
When your lights have gone.
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride.

Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck, and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view.
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, Wasting Away.

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?
A clock, a bottle of wine, a coin purse, a cottage, valentines, garden gloves, food gift card..all related to the song!

One of my personal favorite "finds" was the fake blonde hair bow for the song phrase of
 "When I get older losing my HAIR."

Once the theme had been figured out, it was time to do a little research on where to go for lunch. Perhaps a restaurant on the 64th floor? No, it should have a Beatles-related theme. Okay, think now...nope I can't think of a place (though Diann later mentioned Hard Rock Cafe). Google to the rescue! I typed in "Beatles memorabilia restaurants Chicago" and got one entry: Margie's Candies on Western Avenue. The Beatles went here after a performance for ice cream sundaes.
Margie's Candies is located in the Bucktown neighborhood on Western Avenue.and has been there since 1921.

Walking in the door is certainly a blast from the past. I suspect little has been changed since the Fab Four walked through the door in 1965 after a concert tour performance (with 5 lucky girls) and ordered the Atomic Sundae.
In a non-descript cabinet, we found these vintage Beatles photos...I think they should be more prominent in the restaurant!

Now let's get down to the business of eating in this retro place!
Our mom made tuna melt sandwiches just like these!

Check out the ice cream served in a scalloped shell bowl...could this be the same bowl the Beatles used in 1965?

Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday to you, Sis!
You look mah-velous at any age!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lasting Impressions (BA Wrapup)

Here you have it - the final entry in the Buenos Aires, Argentina series.
I thought I'd leave with some final pictures and expectations to share if you are ever so lucky to get to travel to this destination.

Expect to be charmed. You'll see a city that is changing.  New added to the old. Glimpses of a city that has a rich past with secrets.  Wealthy residents; poor residents.  A melting pot of sorts, much like what we have back in our home country.  If you know Spanish, you will be at home, but watch out for some of the variations with masculine and feminine references.
Here's a busy street scene.

Expect peso surprises!  There is a "Blue Market" exchange rate from dollars to pesos that fluctuates daily.  The country is going through some rather significant inflation times.  It is possible to buy things with US dollars in your wallet in a pinch...dollars are desirable.  Also, hang on to your wallets due to prowess by pickpockets.  The subway seems to be the worst spot for this.
Thank goodness for my birthday purse from Diann that was impenetrable for two pickpocket attempts!

Expect to fall in love with dulce de leche! Spreadable like peanut butter, in flan and an ice cream flavor ---yummy!
The three must-haves to spread on those breads: butter, jam and dulce de leche.

Expect to see a lot of graffiti.  Most of it is like the first picture and it's sad to see classic architecture
(not shown here) all painted up.  Sometimes, though you can see glimpses of artwork.

Expect to look down a lot when walking for safety reasons.

The sidewalks are very difficult to manage with broken tiles and uneven surfaces.  Poor Karen who took a spill and ended up injured as a result of these tiles!

Expect really, really good food. Meat lovers, rejoice!  Italian food "foodies" will experience the best pasta ever! 
We went to this Italian restaurant twice because it was so good (il gran Caruso)

Expect street vendors who know how to make a sale.
I bought a necklace pendant from this nice guy who really knew how to make a deal!
Expect a police presence.
Near the Plaza de Mayo there are regular demonstrations.  We witnessed two.

Expect seeing rainbows of color.
Just one of the many small stores offering colorful, fresh produce to passers-by.

Expect beauty just around the corner .  (And wild cats who enjoy the beauty, too.)
The Carlos Thays Botanical Garden was just a hop, skip and jump away from our hotel - home to 5,500 varieties of exotic and local flora...and feral cats

Expect the unexpected.
Though I had heard of "yarn bombing" before, this was the first time I'd seen it!  Quite pretty.

Now that we are back at home, I know that I left a part of my heart in Buenos Aires.
I hope that you have been able to enjoy the armchair visit alongside us.  Perhaps you fell in love just a little bit, too.