Saturday, August 29, 2009

Meet Amigo

This is Amigo, our newest family member.
He is a sweet stray kitten that my parents were feeding before they moved.
Now he lives with us.
He's very friendly and has a very loud purr.
He also has a funny underbite.
So far he's getting on well with our other cats and Trooper.

Friday, August 28, 2009


I recently had the privilege of photographing this dear family.

Their daughter, Miss T, joined them this year from Africa. Isn't she beautiful?

And these two girls are incredibly lovely, inside and out.

This fun family was up for anything.
I love that!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dizzy Mom Attacks!

In martial arts class, our instructor decided that we should practice hitting a target while we are disoriented. Just in case, say, we were knocked down by a blow to the head and became dizzy but still had to fight. Hey, it could happen!

So we partnered up and took turns spinning around, bent over with our hands on our head. Think forehead on a baseball bat. When our teacher called out the signal, we had to quickly orient ourselves, find our target and hit it five times in a row, fast and hard.

There seemed to be a distinct division in the class; those under 20 years of age were spinning and smiling and giggling and nailing their targets. The rest of us were spinning and staggering, groaning and sometimes falling. Ugh! I managed to hit the pad my daughter was holding but not fast and once to twice I almost hit her in the face. (Sorry, Sweetie!) I think it's an age thing. You know how it used to be fun to ride roller coasters and get spun on merry-go-rounds? Then, after a certain age, it's just not fun anymore. After class I had to wait a bit for the room to stop spinning and my stomach to settle. And for my daughter to stop laughing at me.

Her Little Ponies

I spent the weekend helping my parents with their yard sale. They are getting ready to move and had at least 30 years of STUFF accumulated. I had the chance to revisit some of my childhood toys that my parents had found buried somewhere deep within a closet: my Big Bird alarm clock, a Snoopy snowcone maker, some Barbies and a Ken (and their RV), my first tool box. And my parents had plenty of my sister's toys as well: 57 My Little Ponies, boxes of Babysitter Club books, and lots of Little Pet Shop toys. Most everything went in the sale. Except the My Little Ponies - Rene isn't quite ready to give them away yet.

And, over the course of the day, I finally perfected my farmer's tan. :P

Monday, August 24, 2009

May I Have the Envelope Please

Thanks so much for all of your feedback and kind comments about the photography contest. I have decided to go with Frog, Circle and Field; they are some of my very favorites!  I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Your Good Opinion is Needed

I am getting ready to enter my first ever photography competition. A local group is hosting this contest to raise money for a very good cause. You can read more about it at River to Well.

I've picked out a few of my favorite shots but I can't decide which ones to enter. I can pick 3. What do you think?

Click here to view the options then click on "slideshow" or on each photo to view large.

(For simplicity's sake, let's call them: Dandelion, Frog, Tree, Nest, Jam, Field, Circle, Ladybug, GTO and Cherries)

Thanks for your input!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Alack and Alas!

I know it's been quiet here on All Astonishment lately; we been a bit crazy-busy! My parents are getting ready to move out-of-state and we've been helping them sort, pack and get ready for a garage sale. It's amazing how much stuff a person can accumulate over 20 years in a house. Or, in my case, 20 minutes in a single room.

I had Fight Class tonight. Last week we covered boxing basics and practiced parrying and slipping punches. This week we added some kicks to the mix. Most of the class was spent practicing techniques, which I really enjoy - at least I know what's coming! The last 10 minutes we spent sparring but not at full power. I got a few shots in but took more than my share of hits. It's a good group of people this year - 3 women and 3 men. I think we're all enjoying ourselves. There's only 1 guy that I'm a little afraid of, a left-handed guy who has had boxing experience. He's very fast and quite good. I have no idea how to box with him other than to kick him upside the head and run away. ;)

And, happy day: my washing machine is fixed! I never thought I'd be so thrilled to be doing laundry.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Found Treasure

You may remember Miss Stephanie, a lovely senior that I shot a few months ago. I had originally left this photo my hard drive since it was very dark, but I discovered a new preset for Lightroom that really lightened things up. I like how it turned out!

In Which I Make Vague Swishing Motions

Our washing machine is still broken.  I've done a few loads at my mother's and at a kind friend's, but it makes me feel all Collegic and Moochy.  So I've been using our dry sink to wash laundry by hand.  I fill it with water and laundry soap and soak the clothes for a few hours, stopping by every once in awhile to swish things around.  Then I rinse and squeeze and squish out water out the best I can and drag things outside to dry in the sun.  Our dryer still works, but as long as I'm being Ma from "Little House on the Prairie", I figure that I might as well do things all the way. :)

Coming soon:  Fight Night Follies and The Master is Reading!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Toot & Trooper

This is our neighbor's cute Labradoodle. Toot is only 9 months old and just got his first haircut. We were shocked to discover what's been hiding under his long, silky coat. Turns out not much; he was mostly hair!

Our puppy is thrilled when he comes to visit. Toot and Trooper play "Ha Ha I have the Bone and You Don't". One of them will pick up a bone and, very deliberately, show it to the other. Lots of chasing and wrestling ensue. Oh, if I could only harness that endless puppy energy!

Toot is a few months older and has the advantage of longer legs. Trooper has to resort to tricky moves to keep up. Here he lunges for Toot's leash. These two provide cheap entertainment for the neighborhood. They are hilarious to watch. :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ready to Rumble

Fight Class starts this week!

If you've been around All Astonishment for awhile, you may remember when I went through my first Fight Class at our martial arts school last year. I was so nervous! I was the only woman amidst a handful of guys who could punch really fast. But, overall, it was a great experience. I learned that I could take a hit and even land one occasionally. And I found that I could keep going even though I was exhausted.

Class starts Tuesday. I am still a little nervous, but also excited. In our regular classes, we throw punches and kicks to pads held to the side of our partner's face, or to a punching bag. In Fight Class, we wear protective gear and actually strike each other. I believe that several other women have signed up this year. So now I can get beat up by both guys and girls! Niiiice.

Here are a few highlights from last year:

Not in the Nose!
A Song and an Embarrassing Moment
She's a Lover, not a Fighter

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Quiz Time: Guess What Happened

Look at all these Kneenex on my couch. Can you guess what happened here?

1. MrsMama has the Mother-of-All-Colds.
2. The Munchkins launched a "snowball" fight to combat the Kansas heat.
3. Puppy. 'Nuff said.

And yes, those 3 Kneenex boxes are entirely empty.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

From Sheep to Sweater

Wool and Hair, originally uploaded by MrsMama.
Did you know that it took about a year for a woman to make a sweater in the 1800s? A child-sized sweater! And it took about 3 years to do an adult-sized sweater.

If I had to sew or make clothes for my family, I would be in big trouble. My mother tried to teach me to sew when I was younger and I didn't even have the patience to pin the pattern. I know several of you knit and sew and I admire you so much for your tenacity!

I did take this nice picture of some wool. That somebody cleaned and carded and spun and spooled. From the sheep that they raised and fed and shaved. I'm handy like that.

From Sheep to Sweater

And here's a modern-day superhero woman who actually did this.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Stick Your Face in the Sun

I wanted to share the links to the stories of 2 dear women in my life. What they are going through makes my "crisis" with the washing machine and the stink in my closet seem like a visit to the county fair.

Eileen is the mother of 3 and wife to a former Olympic athlete. She is bravely fighting breast cancer. A quote from her recent post really resonates with me. Click here to read more of her story. And prepare to be blessed.
Be sure to STICK your face in the sun tomorrow, or the RAIN, doesn't really matter, as long as you BREATHE IN LIFE, it will be a good day! love, Eileen
Karen is the wife of our dear pastor. A few months ago she was laying in a coma with bacterial meningitis, not expected to live. She sums up her experience and what she has learned from it here. It's the August 4th journal entry.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Too Late - Part Two

I pulled up in the driveway and hurried into the house. I wasn't sure what I would find. Miss Munchkin's phone call had certainly jump-started my morning, and my heart.

The sound of running water met me at the door, along with Miss Munchkin and the piercing scream of a fire-alarm.

I can't get it to stop!

Water was pouring out of our front-load washing machine at rather an alarming rate. Miss Munchkin had been using bowls and towels to catch it, but she was obviously loosing the battle. Not only was water coming out of the washer, it was still going in - trying to fill the barrel and complete its job.

I hit the power button and turned off the machine. The washer continued to fill. I wrenched the washer away from the wall and pulled the electric plug out of the socket. The washer kept filling with new water. And, of course, gushing out the old.

Empty the buckets! I called over the fire alarm. Do we have any more towels? Miss Munchkin scurried off.

I turned the handles that shut off the water supply to the machine. Finally! The washer stopped filling. By this time, the water level was half-way up the washing machine window, and still leaking out at a good clip.

I cleaned out the filter and waited for the water to empty the barrel. A few bowls and buckets later, I was finally able to open the door. There I discovered the problem. The rubber seal to the door was missing a chunk. A lovely *puppy bite-sized* chunk.

After mopping up as much water as I could, I hurried downstairs to our finished basement to see what I could do about the fire alarm. Miss Munchkin had spread a few towels and a couple of kitchen pitchers around to try and catch the water, which was dripping... through the fire alarm! I pulled up a chair and disconnected the protesting device. After one last watery warble, all was quiet. Finally!

The replacement seal for the washer door will take several days to arrive. So we are currently washerless. And entirely out of clean towels.

Tell me Not that I am Too Late

On my way back from taking Master Munchkin to Karate Camp this morning, I got a phone call from Miss Munchin. I knew, by noting the early hour, that something was not right.

What's wrong? This girl normally sleeps in. Big time.

Um, when are you going to be home?


I woke up and the fire alarms were going off and the washing machine is gushing water everywhere and it's dripping through the floor into the basement.

Are you serious?!


Ok. I'll be there in a minute.

I hung up the phone and put the pedal to the metal.

To be continued....

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I'd Like to Phone a Friend

I would love to hear your ideas on:

How to get a 8 year-old boy to love to read. Or even like to read. Or even pick up a book.

How to get Munchkins to eat fresh, delicious, beautiful homegrown tomatoes. Without spitting them out, gagging or otherwise ejecting them in any way from their mouths.

Extra credit if you can get the Master to read a book about a tomato.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Low Blow Brownies

Over the past couple of weeks, I've accidentally hurt some of the guys at martial arts class. I tapped our head instructor in the, um, cup with my escrima stick. Then I tagged a black belt in the head with a round house kick. The kick was controlled so it didn't hurt him, but he fell in an awkward way and bruised a few ribs. In another class I threw a knee a little too low on a pad and the guy holding it had to take a minute to recover. But the worst was when I was sparring with a small 12 year-old boy. I landed a kick too close for comfort and he went down, groaning dramatically. And writhing on the ground. I was so embarrassed! I mean who lands a low blow on a cute little boy?!

Now a certain amount of contact is expected and accepted in martial arts. And I have had my share of bumps and bruises. But I am either exceptionally clumsy or I don't know my own strength. Probably a little of both. The guys have been very forgiving, although they've given me some good-natured ribbing. But I was feeling really bad. So I baked a double batch of Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownies and offered them as a peace offering after class. I invited everyone to take some. "If I haven't accidentally hurt you yet, there's a good chance that I will!" The brownies went over well. And I feel a little better. But just a little.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Letting Go

We said "goodbye" to our dear, old dog today. He was a treasure and we will all miss him dearly.