spectating participant

January 30, 2008

as if I need a new hobby

Filed under: creative, life — suzanne henderson @ 12:52 am

but I’ve been looking into some digital scrapbooking stuff and am trying to download some freebie items to get started with and see if I like it. Then, will prolly work on making my own stuff as I’m much happier with affordable hobbies. But, these are some serious downloads and I need some honest-to-goodness high speed connection thats free too. I can’t recall what the library offers, but I’ll give them a try tomorrow since Alex is going to Mardi Gras party there anyways.

As if this is what I needed to be doing right now, surely there is some sewing I could be doing. Why oh why did I click that link… sigh.

January 28, 2008

Recent Inspiration

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 3:55 pm

Several of the recent posts have provided project inspiration for me. The pen holder for journals and the tea wallet are great ideas that I hope to whip up sometime soon, as soon as some other projects get done first. Thought I’d share the love a bit.


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Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 12:28 pm

I need to go see a chiropractor and just can’t seem to make that happen. It doesn’t help that the one I’ve decided to see in in Thurmont and thats a hike even for me. But, the recommendation is awesome and the price is what I can do right now with our monies being all out of whack. I really wanted to go today, but I must hit the bank too and unfortunately the bank and Thurmont are in very opposite directions and I’m sure that’ll be too much driving for me. But, ow, ow, ow I need to go.

Hitting the gym the past few weeks has gone from uncomfortable to almost excruciating — obviously it’s time to deal with this. Sadly, I have to work tomorrow, so thats probably out too. I sure wish there were some other things I could do in the meantime, but it seems that I’ve tried all I can and thats just the next step. So, hopefully I can still make it out there tomorrow after work, hopefully. There must be some kind of end in sight here.

January 24, 2008

too much awesome stuff out there

Filed under: creative — suzanne henderson @ 6:34 pm

I get bogged down when I start browsing my crafting sites - there is just too much awesome stuff out there to look at and want to do. I jump from wanting to do one project to another before even starting. For years, I’ve been more content with just looking at projects than doing them — its about time to get over that and actually make some more stuff. I had so much fun with the secret santa swap I did and am working on a cloth diaper shower gift at the moment - but I just want to sew, sew, sew and not just read, read, read.

January 23, 2008

need a good gender neutral color scheme

Filed under: creative — suzanne henderson @ 10:34 pm

I’ve been working on increasing my sewing and have really umped into sewing for babies and children. What I need now is a really good neutral color scheme, or a collection of more than one. What I hate is pink/blue and the default yellow/green. Blah.

I’d love to have one, two, or three primary color schemes that I can constantly build upon that are gender neutral — haha. That sounds so easy, but it seems to always come out much harder than it should. Oh, and a primary color scheme isn’t about primary colors either. Brown seems rather popular these days, but it’s often softened with pairings with pink and blue to genderize it.

Oh to have an entire clothing line from 0 - 2T of completely gender neutral clothing — is that even possible or are people so driven to put that “Boy! Girl!” label on their child that they wouldn’t have use for an entire line of neutral clothing.

I know higher end stores often have children clothes that go beyond pink and blue, but they still often have very distinguishable boy/girl attributes. What to do to go completely beyond that…

January 21, 2008

brrr. hoping for a thaw soon.

Filed under: house, life — suzanne henderson @ 9:06 pm

I’ve finally gotten over being too cheap to adequately heat the house, well mostly. We were running at 52 and night and 58 during the day. That eventually got a little old and I kicked it up some 6 degrees, which is great unless I forget to drop it down to mid-fifties at night as I’m roasting all night long. However, getting up in the morning is much easier when you don’t feel like your nose might chip off if your stumbling to the bathroom isn’t aimed well enough. I can certainly see the major, major benefits of a programmable thermostat and I’m seriously starting to wonder why were living in the dark ages. Sure, our house is almost 140 years old, but that doesn’t mean we have to forsake all the technology thats developed in that time frame.

So, now that I’ve joined the ranks of the only minorly-miserly home-heaters, I find it rather ironic that we woke up to frozen pipes in our kitchen this morning. I guess I’m not too surprised as the kitchen is always VERY cold and it is only supported with one lonely radiator (which is also supposed to support the tiny laundry/water room and downstairs bath). Sadly, my day was filled and I couldn’t deal with the problem, so we just turned off the water to that part of the house — in case it decided to thaw and the pipes are busted, which at this moment I find rather amusing that even thought that was a possibility with the sub-freezing temps extending throughout the day. So, finally at 7:30pm, I’m home and can try and assess the situation.

I’m trying to bring a little more heat into that part of the house with increased house temp — which is actually just back up to the new normal highs, as I forgot that I had dropped the thermostat pretty low this morning before realizing that the pipes were frozen — and a space heater too small to do anything at all. I don’t know why I think this will help, in fact, I’m sure it just wasting more electricity as it is still below freezing, only 20 degrees at the moment, and the pipes run through an inaccessible, uninsulated part of the house. Honestly, my only real hope is to wait for tomorrows projected rise up above freezing, however brief it may be, and continued optimism that we’re only dealing with a little frozen water and not a busted pipe as well.

If I see no progress before sleep overtakes me, I’ll be shutting the water back off to the kitchen and heading to bed just to repeat the process tomorrow afternoon when I’m back home again. I certainly don’t want to leave things open and find that water gushing into the night isn’t enough to wake me from a warm and cozy slumber. Especially not when it could magically extend across the wall to our oil and propane tanks and freeze their low, lying lines up as well. One benefit of the cold, it’ll keep the frozen pipes frozen for now and judging by the forecast, provide plenty of time to wait till the weekend before seeing if taking up the kitchen floor is the next required step.

oh and in case I’ve not reminded myself enough recently, this is what comes to those in love with old houses.

January 17, 2008

Book Review: The Middle School Survival Guide

Filed under: review, books — suzanne henderson @ 8:57 pm

The Middle School Survival Guide: How to Survive from the Day Elementary School Ends until the Second High School Begins

The Middle School Survival Guide, written by Arlene Erlback, seemed like a pretty good resource for my daughter’s first year in middle school. I assume that the target audience is other middle school children, from ages 11 to 14 (6th through 8th grade). The cover is playfully drawn and seems very inviting for youth in that age range.

I picked this book up from a library display and placed it in a public area of the house hoping that Alex would take the initiative to look at it. In the meantime, I flipped through it to get a sense of information presented. At first, I was quite pleased with many of the items — especially those focusing on academic and family life. The author does a good job stating how expectations often increase greatly in school and at home during the middle school years and presents several suggestions for dealing with this expectations. The book also has quotes from other middle schoolers offering advice on each topic as well.

I was also pleased to see the book addressing social concerns such as fitting in, dealing with peer pressure, and romantic relationships. I was happy to see the author pushing the approach that while fitting in is fine, you should also make sure your still being yourself and not what someone else wants you to be. Erlback also talks about consumerism and wearing name brand clothing and offers suggestions to avoid and ways to work with your parents, and their budget, to possibly get some you want.

While I really appreciated the upfront approach to peer relationships and challenges, puberty changes, and serious issues like violence and sexual assault — there were a few places where my views slightly conflicted with her commentary. First, I must comment that I feel that I’m very far from being prudish in any sense of the word, even when it comes to my daughter, and that I’m not naive as to the things kids are doing these days (being pregnant at 14, I know that some kids participate in some adult activities at a very young age). Here are the items that I took issue with:

  • In the Dressing Sexy section, the author comments on the influence of sex in the media and fashion and also that they way you dress can get you to get attention you don’t want. However, it also states “Unless you school has a dress code, you do have the right to dress however you want.” This one sentence really jumped out at me because I don’t believe it to be true, dress code or not. Especially not when it comes to dressing provocatively when you’re only 12. While the author seemed to be pushing a “less sexy is good” approach, this statement along with the youth quote really implied that dressing sexy is what everyone else is doing and you can too (”can” seem too easy for a youth to read can as “should”) . While my daughter has a lot of autonomy, she doesn’t have the “right” to do most thing as she choses, I do get some say in issues such as these.
  • In the Party Scene section, the author seemed to paint the picture that all middle school co-ed parties are big make-out sessions. Erlbach does a good job presenting ways out of the situation if it makes them uncomfortable, but also offers simple instructions on kissing. I don’t mind the instructions as much as the impression I get that this is the “normal” expectation. I guess I prefer it being presented as something that probably doesn’t happen, but here are some ways to deal with it if it does - like rest of the commentary on sexual activity in the book. The chapter goes into a lot more detail on sex, including oral sex, and provides a fairly upfront view that waiting until your older is better. It does a great job of discussing possible social fallout if you do have sexual intimacy with someone else and dealing with sexual rumors that are not true.

Overall, this books does a good job of addressing almost all the physical and social issues that our young children face today. I’d imagine that a more conservative parent would be a little uncomfortable with the very upfront commentary on puberty, sex, sexuality, and media influence. Other than the two items mentioned above, I’ve found little that I didn’t like in the book. Even with my reservations, I would still encourage my child read this book, especially because of the frank discussions on sexual issues (including abuse and assault!) and be willing to discuss any questions she might have. I feel that it offers a great deal in the direct way it discusses these issues and that I can personally address the concerns I have with the book with her.

January 14, 2008

car and alex update

Filed under: family, life — suzanne henderson @ 2:14 pm

I drove my new-clutch-enabled car this morning and ummm… ick. I LOVED my old clutch and how it functioned — much different than every other stick shift I’ve driven. It was relaxed, laid back, and provided the perfect amount of counter-pressure and length of engagement for a comfortable drive. When driving other people’s cars, I was always annoyed at their tight, stingy clutch. Most people who drove my car didn’t seem to care for the attributes I enjoyed either.

So now, I have a clutch with zero counter-pressure — it feels like I’m engaging air or something, no distinct, non-subtle signs of engagement. Also, it’s much shorter than before and seems pretty insistent in being pushed all the way to the floor (I have a long clutch, too the floor is quite a distance previously reserved for starting the car only) for every shifting activity. And, well, it’s just different. I’m going on 9 years and 150,000+ miles on my car and during that time I’ve gotten very acclimated to my clutch. Now, I’ve basically got a while new car and I’m not happy about it.

Oh well, it’s shifting and running beautifully now, so that is a big plus to be happy about. I’m sure that within the week I’ll barely notice the difference.

As for Alex’s issue with the field trip form, I’m very pleased to report that once she got past the tears of outrage, she finally figured out a solution — without any urging from me. Instead of sleeping in the next morning (bus normally arrives at 7am, dentist wasn’t until 10), she got up at the same time and ran up the street to ask a friend to bring her a copy of the form home from school. What a simple solution and I’m so glad she figured it out. She got the form from her friend that evening and went off to school the next day with money and permission to go on a just-for-fun school-wide field trip (along with new “fangs” as she calls ‘em — lookup the Mara appliance if you’re curious).

following leadings

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 2:01 pm

I’ve just posted the following letter on the Playa del Fuego Board of Directors email list:

January 14, 2008

Dear Fellow PDF Board Members,

I’ve decided to resign from Playa del Fuego Board of Directors and from all Planning Committee activities. For two years, I’ve struggled with the decision to continue serving the board because I’ve recognized a strong decrease in my passion, attention for getting things done and a leading to step back.

It has been an immense pleasure and a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience to work with you on the long-term and overall planning of PDF. Having committed so many years and endless amounts of energy to making the event and organization better, it is very hard to step back and just let things unfold.

Part of me wishes that I still had the dedication and passion to continue my work with you, especially as the board expands it’s role and activities; but I must finally honor the fact that I know this is no longer where I need to focus my attention.

I’m willing to contribute to a dialogue about communication initiatives that I feel would really make a positive impact on PDF’s continued growth and for keeping the Planning Committee, Board, and Participants strongly connected. PDF needs to select another person to serve as the VNVMC liaison, preferably another board member; fortunately, this is a very, very simply task and I’m thankful that our long term relationship with the vets has made it such a positive one.

I want to thank each of you for your commitment to this endeavor, it has been a wonderful experience and I’ve been grateful for the wonderful team of volunteers and board members that I’ve worked with. I look forward to continued participation at each event and hope PDF continues to be a wonderful place for radical self expression and responsibility for our community.


Karen ‘Suz’anne Daniel

It is both an enlightening and sad moment to step away from all the work that I’ve done with PDF. I have truly enjoyed all of the time and energy that I’ve spent trying to make PDF better. It took me two years to listen to the persistent leading to leave pdf because I have so much emotion and ego tied up with the event.

Since helping to get the nonproft status and board of directors established and watching the crazy amount of growth over the past 7.5 years, it’s sometimes hard to accept that PDF is not, and have never been, “my” event and that it’s okay to finally say that it’s okay to let it go and just see what happens.

The calling to step back has been very clear but I was too stubborn to accept it. I’m grateful that I’ve finally taken the time to do a lot of emotional work on this issue and finally accepted the decision to leave. Of course, this doesn’t mean no more PDF — I love the event and look forward to attending the next one as just a spectating participant.

January 13, 2008

my car is home

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 6:28 pm

I got home from the women’s retreat and was very happy to see my car sitting in the driveway. Seems it not only has a new clutch, but new front rotors and brake pads — since I’ve been totally lame in getting to the breaks and they needed replaced, I didn’t mind the extra work that was completed. I’m even happier that it was all managed for me and no one asked me if I cared — just to clarify, Chris took care of the details; my mechanic didn’t just decide on the extra stuff himself. :) So, the price was a couple hundred more than expected - but it was all done for the same price that the other mechanic quoted for just the clutch. I’m a happy woman and look forward to driving a happy car — but not tonight as the 2 hour drive home from the retreat is enough for me.

Oh, and the retreat? Wonderful as always and exactly where I needed to be this weekend.

January 8, 2008

cost of responsibility?

Filed under: family — suzanne henderson @ 6:23 pm

Oftentimes, I think I’m a bit strict with Alex. For example, I just got an email from the school about a school-wide field trip. Seems permission slips were handed out yesterday and are due tomorrow or Thursday along with $20. It sounded like a fun trip and I was surprised that Alex hadn’t mentioned it. As we were going over homework, I brought it up and ask why she wasn’t asking to get it signed.

Of course, she’s managed to lose it already and insists that she’ll just bring it home tomorrow. Well, she wasn’t supposed to be going to school tomorrow due to a dentist appointment followed by an orthodontist appointment (and the insertion of a new appliance). So Alex freaks because she won’t get it returned in time — she doesn’t take a moment to think up other solutions, she just storms up to her room in tears.

Part of me, the nice part I guess, wants to offer suggestions that I’m sure will work. The other part, the more typical mean part, just wants to call it a loss since she didn’t think it was important enough to be responsible for. I certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world to miss a field trip — of course, there are other options that she just isn’t considering.

Perhaps I’ll send her to school in the morning anyways, but pick her up at about 8:15 or so. That’ll give her a small chance to solve the problem if she’s actually paying attention. I don’t really feel moved to suggest she make sure she takes care of it and instead view it as a second chance at being responsible. If she still hasn’t remembered the form upon pick up, perhaps too bad. Or, I just get the form while I’m there, but that feels a lot like enabling poor responsibility.

(this is where I should also remind myself she’s still just a kid)

January 4, 2008


Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 2:08 pm

i don’t write anymore. sad. too often, time is spent trying to chip away here and there something more than nothing and words can’t fill that space anymore. i want to write, often, usually when sleep isn’t happening and i’m left thinking anyways. but words can’t fill that space anymore. seems there is nothing to write, how can that be? i got a new journal recently and it’s been calling me with it’s blank pages and matching pen. i want to just pour into it all the things that haven’t leaked away. clean, fresh pages get in my way. i love the way a blank page looks and feels, open, inviting, waiting patiently to be filled — i don’t want to fill it. or, at least, i don’t want to fill in the first page. perhaps i could find a journal that’s already been soiled, words scratched into the perfect surface, maybe i could start there. in the meantime, i don’t write anymore.

January 3, 2008

Portland, California, Maker Fair, School

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 7:42 pm

We’ve been wanting to head out to Portland since a friend gave us round trip travel and accommodations as a wedding gift. It hasn’t happened yet, but we decided that May would be a great time to make it happen. Mostly because we’ve been wanting to go out to Maker Faire and it provides a perfect excuse to get out that way. Now that Rob went and moved out there, that makes the combined trip even easier.

For some reason, the big concern was that the fair will be the weekend before PDF — when we’ve supposedly got some big shindig planned with some friends. I just found out that we were mistaken on the date. I guess the past two years weren’t a good indication of the upcoming year’s dates. So, yay — that relieves some major stress and it’d be much easier for us to make it.

Though, we’ve run into another issue — Alex is still in school. Argh, this school thing sure is annoying. Taking her out for a week doesn’t sound like the best of plans. But, we’ve got some pretty good reasons to make the trip anyways. We’ve got some summer plans that can’t be bumped, and no, they aren’t are exciting as traveling cross country. Later this year is out for some other plans as well — so really, if we want to take this trip, we need to do it before the end of May. Spring Break would be a great opportunity, but Alex doesn’t get one. Instead, she got the week off for Thanksgiving instead (we’re out in farming country now).

So some options, just take her out of school or have my mom come stay with her while we’re gone — not an option I like and Alex really doesn’t want to get left out of the vacation — or miss out on seeing Maker Faire.

Oh, and all this schedule checking revealed another possible conflict — 6th graders in Carroll County attend a one-week outdoor school. The two possible weeks are the week before PDF and the week of PDF — obviously the week of PDF would be more challenging since she wouldn’t get home until Friday and we’d hopefully already be out there on Thursday. This conflict will be easy to work around, just a pain to figure out.

ETA: wow, my brain must be turning to mush - just reread this entry and my fingers seems to be substituting words when I write. I’m pretty sure this has been happening for a while and guess I need to do a lot more proofing before posting, sigh - yet another excuse to not post.

January 2, 2008

we have heat!

Filed under: house — suzanne henderson @ 7:40 pm

wow — I love my partner because thanks to some creative problem solving we now have a non-leaking, functional boiler again! Woot!

cold, sick day

Filed under: house, life — suzanne henderson @ 12:28 pm

Chris took a sick day today - in hopes of being able to catch up on enough rest and warmth to finally start feeling better. That sounded like a reasonable plan. He got up around 5am, but eventually came back to bed muttering about freezing and how it’s cause I turned the heat down. Guilty as charged. I keep the house around 54 at night, otherwise I get too hot to sleep. However, I noticed that it was much colder than usual; Normally, I’ve got all the covers kicked off in the mornings.

I finally got up at 6:30 to make sure Alex got off to school alright — she didn’t want to get moving, big surprise after the winter break. As I headed to the kitchen to make her lunch, I decided to give Chris a break and turn the heat up to 60. I turned the dial and nothing happen. I fliped on the light for a closer look — the thermostat was reading 50 degree, much lower than it should have been. Looks like our heat went out, what fun. I made Alex’s lunch and then went to break to bad news to Chris.

Minutes later he trudges out of bed, gets dressed, and descends to the basement. Yep, the boiler is out and a puddle of water surrounds it. Not a god sign. I put a call out for a local repairman recommendations and he starts to disassemble the boiler — ack. He left a couple hours ago in search of some parts - hopefully things will be warming up soon, but I’m not holding my breath.

I have to laugh, a bit, though because he sure likes to tease me on how cheap I can be. Yet, it seems that he has the same stubborn streak too. He was fussing about the fact that it’s highly likely that we may be dropping several grand on a new boiler, as though it’s the end of the world. I just reply that I’m thankful that if that is the case, we’ve got the money to do it. Of course, if his finagling can get it working for a few more months, more power to him. But I’m also fairly inclined to just get someone out here, get it fixed, and get on with things.

January 1, 2008

new years eve

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 9:22 pm

oh the excitement — of being in bed by 10pm on New Years Eve.

I’m glad my phone was silenced, I doubt I would have appreciated my sister’s joyful voice at 1:22am. The morning after I appreciate the gesture, but I’m sick and interrupting the limited sleep I was given would have been a very bad thing. The only interruption I appreciated was the call saying I didn’t have to go into work as planned — oh wonderful, I said, as I was dreading actually having to get up. I fell back to sleep for another 3 hours.

Today was just as uneventful as I continue to get past this horrible sinus thing that won’t end. But, today I had the sadistic pleasure of watching Chris suffer as well. It seems he’s running a day or two behind me and I was actually happy to see him being as miserable as I was, perhaps I’m not always a great partner. :) Well, I’ve made it past 7pm and can now tread of to bed in hopes of actually getting some sleep, though the past few nights have shown me that it’ll probably not be very restful — also, I’ll be much less amused with Chris’ misery if he is anywhere near as whiny as I was the other night.

Raffle for Farm House

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 11:50 am

Oh, this is pretty tempting — buying a raffle ticket in hopes of winning a 4bedroom farmhouse on 3 acres. Thats a bit more room than we have now, maybe a bit more house, and it’s already had a lot of improvements made to it. Of course, $100 for nothing is a lot to drop, but maybe it’d be something worth having.

But I start wondering about some things — is the $100 really going to buy my a house? Will they be covering the sellers and buyers closing costs? If not, I’d need a lot more than $100, or even $1,000, to actually own the house. And of course, there are property taxes too. For someone that is pretty poor hoping to hit jackpot — thats probably something they aren’t considering. Paying a few thousand a year in property taxes may be harder to do than they realize. And there is the fact that no matter what updates or improvements have been one, an old house needs constant work.

Even with all that considered, I’d sure like a bigger old house — though that was is about 55-60 years younger than the one were in now. And, I must say that I don’t think this house is up to rental standards just yet. Plus, I doubt that we could get enough in rent to cover the mortgage, home insurance, and property taxes — much less the upkeep and repairs that would probably increase if someone was living here who didn’t feel the need to stay on top of problems as they arise.

I guess we could just sell our place, but it is highly unlikely that we would break even on the sale. The best bet would probably be to level the house and sell the two lots instead and thats just not something I think I could so. But still — even considering all of this stuff, maybe it’d be worth a ticket just the same.

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