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Working Backwards

October 19th, 2008 by Joyce

This blog has evolved from serving as a baby scrapbook and newsletter to the new grandmas (the Pitter Patter Periodical) into a new site (GoJoyceGo) that functions as both a personal journal and a family record that I’ve allowed all of you access.  I hope that some of you benefit from the information on brain injury, others from an opportunity to see and read about the culture of my family.  The rest of you who don’t care about the previous two subjects can see how cute my kids are.  (I know who you are, those of you who come here just for the pictures.)

If you have subscribed to the RSS feed for this blog, you may have noticed that some posts are back-dated.  That’s because I don’t always have the time and/or energy to complete a post, or edit it before submitting.  So I keep it as a draft on my server, and hope for an opportunity to revisit the post.  This morning I counted nearly three dozen drafts.  A few are difficult or longer pieces from as far back as 2007 that still need careful thought and writing.  To keep my record straight, I try to remember to note if I’m finishing something after the assigned publish date.

So, if you’re wondering what the backdating is about, or if some day a long time from now *I’m* wondering what the backdating is about, well, there it is.

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October 18th, 2008 by Joyce

Yawn.  This weekend was supposed to be a "writing weekend," but so far I’ve slept in, taken a shower, traipsed through the woods, and slept some more.  Then I ate and sat in front of the computer while I wished I was sleeping.

Now I really wish I had written even a little bit, because even though I keep yawning and am struggling to focus even more than usual, I wish I didn’t have to go to sleep and admit my writing weekend is already half over.

Did that make sense?  I’m not sure, because I’m too tired to read the whole sentence without confusing myself.

This week I tried fixing this whole sleep/no sleep situation, and even experimented with a new drug.*  I started writing about it, and how I thought it was working, but then I got too tired and woozy to finish.  Really.

* That sounds like I did something naughty.


I just found a picture of David from maybe early January 2006.  It’s already hard to remember that they were ever that small, or ever needed to hold onto that rail to get up to the slide.

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October 18th, 2008 by Joyce · 2 Comments

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A couple of months ago, Carmen and David were sitting on my bed while I hung up some laundry.  "When is the party at the penguin park?" they asked. 

They’ve only been to one party at the park.  "The Halloween party?"


"Hrmm," I answered back, "in about sixty days."  Two months.   Hrmm.  That was enough to be creative, I thought.  They like to paint their faces like clowns, I bet they’d like to dress like one.  We could cobble something together by then.  "So," I continued, "it was fun to see all the children wearing costumes, wasn’t it?  Would you like to wear a costume, too?"

  "I would like to be a dragonfly," Carmen answered back, quickly.  A dragonfly, of all things?  Maybe she had already thought this through? 

"Okaaaaay," I answered.  Okay, so not a clown a costume.  But wire wings aren’t that bad, either.  "And what about you, David?"

"I want to be a butterfly!"

One butterfly and one dragonfly, coming up.  I finished them in time for the Arbooretum this morning.

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They were just made out of pieces of wire, panty hose, polyester fleece and an unmeasured piece of tulle, but Carmen and David thought their wings were just right. 

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We were among the first to go through the gate.

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We didn’t know what to expect of the event.  We were delighted–everything was just right.  The trick-or-treat trail was a hike through the woods, with various activity stations.  Here, Carmen and David were given a piece of candy . . . after they walked like animals.

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Later they flew like bats on a zip line, and walked on a rope bridge between two trees.

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I hadn’t expected the wings to take such a beating.  By the end of the trail, Carmen’s dragonfly wings looked like she had just had a run-in with a windshield.  Carmen didn’t mind, and we just bent the wings back into shape. 

After the trail, we visited with some snakes in one of the Arboretum’s classrooms.

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Later C&D took a ride on the ponies while parents in line asked "HOW did make those wings?"

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We ate our provided lunch, tried out the cake walk, and took a hay ride around the property.  Then we hitched a ride back to the parking lot, where we found a train parked on the nearby tracks.  The engineers waved and blew the horn, and we considered the day perfect.

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Notes for anybody else who wants to go next year:  The gate opened one hour early for members.  Admission was free for family-level memberships and higher (and $15 per person for non-members).  We were first through the trail, but even later the grounds didn’t seem at all crowded.  The activities are definitely geared toward the younger set; there’s happily nothing spooky about the Arbooretum.  Members were given food coupons for water and a light lunch, so feel free to pack light.  Follow the signs for parking at lots outside the Arboretum.

Note on the wings:  Maybe we’ll try these again next year, in a new and improved evolution.  Maybe stronger wire or soldered reinforcements.  Or maybe a different type of wire altogether, like the kind in pop-up windshield sun shades.  Matt says the soldering is a little extreme, but the project, and then watching C&D walk with the wings swaying behind them, was a real parenting highlight.

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Bugs in the living room.

October 17th, 2008 by Joyce

I’m nauseous from the effort, but the smile on his face was worth it.  Out of some wire and fabric, today I made David the butterfly costume he has been wanting for weeks.


The back includes antennae.  It’s tied on like a mei tai, comfortable and tough enough for running around.

Carmen requested wings like a dragonfly.  I had been working on this one a little longer, trying to get the wire just right.  After I strapped on the wings she snatched the mirror (with the mounting hardware still on it) to see them from every possible angle. 


Her wings are made of wire and two pairs of queen-size L’eggs pantyhose from the grocery store.  If we do this again, I’d use a stiffer wire; we used 12-guage and I think the dragonfly wings would have resisted the compression "sheer control" of the L’eggs a little better.  Either way, Carmen was plenty happy with the result.


If all goes well, they’ll be wearing their costumes tomorrow at the Arbooretum.

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What Fridays are for . . .

October 11th, 2008 by Joyce · 1 Comment

Practicing balancing at Hermann Park in the evening . . .




after taking a Tadpoole Troopers class at the Houston Arboretum that morning.  We dipped our nets in search of tadpoles (of course?) and other discoveries.  We also found water beetles, dragonfly nymphs, mosquitofish, and more. 




Next month the Tadpole Troopers will study fish.  Might attend; it’s a chance to dip nets at the Houston Arboretum’s ponds and not catch a scolding for disturbing the creatures.

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How to Build an Excavator

October 5th, 2008 by Joyce

Below see David’s plans for how to build an excavator using the Bygga Construction Set from Ikea. 

Matt built the excavator according to specifications, but then immediately post project completion the client returned with changes to the original design, including a rear scoop and swiveling/rotating cab.  Matt, out of time and construction set pieces, decided to engineer dinner instead. 

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October 3rd, 2008 by Joyce · 1 Comment

Bike #1

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Bike #2 (has a basket and tassels!)

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Test Ride

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Narrative to come later.

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