Friday, July 28, 2006

Thursday Thirteen and Other Stuff

I can't completely tell if this is real, but it begs the question: What are condoms, needles and rubbish doing in the hair?

Since yesterday was Sarcasm Thursday, I didn't get a chance to do the Thursday Thirteen. So I sat down to do it, and here I am, not able to think of anything. So I decided to go to the site, pick a blogger at random and do whatever they did.

First one turned out to be: Thirteen Things I Love About My Sister, Bean.

Well. That's not going to work. Let's try it again.

Thirteen Things I Love About Summer by Magnolia Mom

OK, I can do this one.

1. The sun.

I'm generally pro-sun, despite my boggy, marshy ancestors, as long as it's not too hot.

2. Wearing shorts and no coat.

I hate wearing coats because I always end up carrying them. That's the good thing about California - sometimes even in winter you can get away with no coat.

3. Ice Cream

Although, I like ice cream any time of the year.

4. That it stays light until 9pm

Don't know why - it's not like I'm out in it. Mosquitos.

5. Good photo opportunities

6. More time for the kids to play outside, wear themselves out and sleep well.

7. Swimming

I hardly ever go swimming and every time I do I remember how much I like it.

8. Air-conditioned movie theaters on a hot day

9. Eating outside

10. Grilling

11. Sandals

12. Strawberries

13. Fresh tomatoes

Phew! That was hard. Summer's not my favorite season, although I do appreciate it. I'm an Autumn Girl, myself.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sarcasm Thursday

Because I am, as mentioned previously, an organizational supply slut, I love organizational websites. I subscribe to one called Organized Families because they send out free calendars and organizing sheets that I never use but like to have anyway.

In their e-mails, they include little tips on time management. Here is this month's tip:

Mom Time management tip: Double up on your work. While you are waiting for the
laundry to be done, pick up the house. While the dish water is running, get all
the dishes rounded up and into the sink (if not there already). While supper is
cooking, start on a few dishes.

Seriously? Seriously???!!

Let's see a show of hands: how many Moms out there put the laundry into the washing machine, pour soap in, turn it on and then sit down and wait for it to end because it hasn't occured to them to do something else while it's going??

"OK, supper's cooking. Now I'll just stand here and watch it because my kids are comatose and certainly don't need anything from me. I finished the laundry today by spending 2 hours straight in the laundry room this morning. Gosh, I wish I could've picked up the house, too, but, you know, the washing machine was turned on. I just turn on the TV and tell the kids not to move on laundry day."


"Oh honey, could you help me clear the dishes?"
"No, sweetie, I just turned on the water in the sink and I'll just get too confused if I do anything besides watching it run because I'm an idiot, too."

Also in this month's issue is the Top 10 Skills to Teach Your Children This Summer (because "it's important that their brains don't turn to mush while school's out" - perhaps we should add an "intro to physiology & anatomy" class to all the following...their words are bold, mine are regular):

1. CPR

Now, not a horrible idea for older kids, but I had to laugh at the idea of teaching A. to do CPR and then trying to keep him from practicing on Ben. I'd never get the laundry done!

2. Better Time management

How and what we spend our time on determines our success and failure in this life and the Next.

OK, so here's the first hint of the site's Christian bent. I didn't know that time management determines our chances of a better seat in heaven until I c&p'd this paragraph, but I guess that's even more reason to do something while the washing machine's going.

3. Cooking

Both boys and girls should know how to boil and fry an egg, make macaroni and cheese, and bake a pizza safely.

Both boys and girls? How progressive.

4. Sewing

This is a great money saving skill to learn. Knowing how to sew a button and mend is the minimum kids should learn. Beyond that, they can design and make their own clothes if they're really eager, or even household items like curtains, slipcovers, etc.

Kids! You Can Be Your Own Sweatshop!

5. Writing a letter to the editor

This teaches assertiveness, clarity in thought, and basic writing skills all in one. All it requires is being able to write simple English. Find an article that your child feels strongly about in the local newspaper. Discuss it first, then put your thoughts down on paper. Then help him or her compose a letter to the editor and send it off. If it gets published, post it up on the fridge!

I take it you have to get your kid to read the newspaper first, yeah?

6. Writing a business letter

Teaching your child how to write a business letter is simple, and your son or daughter will thank you for it once he or she reaches college and the workplace.

Dear Thomas,

Why are You and Your Friends so damn expensive? I have to sew all our slipcovers and curtains just so we can afford you guys.



7. Swimming

To protect our children, we need to teach our children how to swim. It is not only great exercise and fun, but it could also save your life. Check out your local park district or gym for lessons.

They teach swimming? In the summer? Who knew?

8. Managing money

Help your kids avoid problems like debt, impulsive shopping, and overspending by teaching them money management skills this summer. If you already don't, start giving your child a weekly allowance. Then, help him or her draft a budget of how to spend and save. Also, make sure they give to charity.

90% to Thomas and His Friends. 10% to poor children whose parents make them sew the curtains.

9. Keeping house: This means overseeing the efficient functioning of your home. Make your older children in charge of managing meals, getting laundry done, mowing the lawn, and keeping the place clean for one week.

OK, A., stop sewing and take over the house for a week.

10. Volunteering for a cause: Giving and not receiving any monetary return is a skill critical in our increasingly materialistic culture.

Oh yeah, parents don't know anything about this.

Actually, I thought the best things about this list were, first of all, the idea that you could teach your kids all this stuff in one summer; and second, the idea that all you have to do is teach time and money management and your kids would listen. A.'s only 3 and already I see how well that's going to work.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

blah blah blah hot hot hot

It's the kind of hot where all anyone can talk about is the heat. Today was only 100 degrees, relatively cool compared to the weekend. My hometown, about 20 miles away, reached 116 degrees on Saturday.

We've lost power twice over the weekend, and there are communities on their third full day without power, so I can't figure out why they keep threatening us with rolling blackouts. What the hell do they think is already happening? We had an impromptu science lesson where A. and I went through the house looking at the many things we can't use when the power's out.

We are among the few in the neighborhood with central a/c, but our poor machine is overtaxed and can't get the house below about 90 degrees. Still, it's much better than 114. We set it at 78 anyway, because it will keep trying if the thermostat is set there. If we set it to 75 or below, it gets overwhelmed and wallows in feelings of hopelessness.

To top it off, A. brought home his first preschool cold last week and shared it with Ben and I, which just seems unfair.

There's a reason I don't live in Arizona. My ancestors are a misty, boggy people and we don't do well in heat. If we can't wear our fisherman's knit sweaters or wool caps, we're not happy. Bring the fog back.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Too Darn Hot

It was a 106 outside an hour ago. Now the temperature has dropped all the way to 98, but according to Yahoo! weather, it feels like 100. They should just say it feels like hell.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Guess Who's Walking?

At least, he did yesterday. He enjoyed all the fuss made about it, but was surprised when he found we expected him to actually continue walking today.

This Afternoon

(Warning: more A. stories ahead)

I stuck a really old Rugrats video in the VCR (just call us T. Rex and Wife) and A. said, "First we need the stars around the mountain." I thought he was suggesting we sing a new version of the folk song, but after the preview for "Charlotte's Web" (with Debbie Reynolds!) and before the actual movie, they showed the Paramount logo. Aha.

Last night in the bathtub he told me, "I can't see the water!" I wasn't born yesterday, so I said, "Are your eyes closed?" He answered, "No. I can't see it because water doesn't have a color."

Thursday Thirteen (with a bonus Thursday Four)

I've enjoyed reading everyone's Thursday Thirteen, so I decided to join in.

Thirteen Ways I'm Low-Maintenance

1. I get my hair cut once a year, at most. Ignoring the pleas of hairdressers, I trim my bangs myself in between cuts.

2. I wash my hair with store brand 2-in-1 shampoo-conditioner.

3. I've had professional highlights done once in my life, and afterward thought, "I just paid you $75 for highlights I can barely SEE?" I've never had my hair professionally colored. (But might soon: See What Color is My Hair? )

4. I still have plenty of barely-used makeup left over from my wedding 6 years ago. I really liked the Shu Uemura foundation I got but it's starting to separate. Probably should toss it, eh?

5. Maybelline mascara is the only makeup I wear regularly.

6. Does lip balm count as makeup? 'Cause I'm addicted to that, and if I'm really dressing up, I'll make it a tinted one.

7. I've never had a salon facial.

8. I get a pedicure once a year.

9. Last time I got a manicure was 6 years ago for my wedding.

10. I shave, don't wax. Occasionally I'll use Nair if I HAVE to. Try to avoid it, though. Stinky, icky stuff.

11. I use store brand all-in-one moisturizer and sunscreen on my face - only because my skin is dry and uncomfortable without it. Otherwise, I'd forget.

12. I do have a lipstick - MAC something-or-other. Bought it about 7 years ago.

13. I never blow-dry or style my hair. I'll put some anti-frizz stuff on it when it's drying but that's as far as I'll go. I do try to brush it everyday.

So there you have it. It's ironic that the time when I wore the most makeup and did the most with my hair (in my teens and 20's) was the time I needed it least.

I have red birthmarks on either side of my face along the jawline. My sister says they're forceps marks (which are supposed to fade). I used to work very hard at covering them up with that green concealer stuff and foundation. Now I don't bother. I enjoy the comments I get:

1. What's wrong with your face? (most often asked outright by children, but clearly wondered about by adults)
2. Looks like somebody slapped ya. (woman in gym locker room)
3. Did you get burned?
4. Is that contagious?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Questions of the Week

This week's questions from A:

"When are we going to go over the sky?"

"When do you say 'No' to Papa?" (After I had said, "No, A! Stop [whatever you're doing]" for the gazillionth time this morning)

"When are we going to China?"

"Why is that a plant?" (I hate these and they come up often: "Why is that a building? Why is that a truck?" What answer do you give besides, "Because it is"?)

"What does Ben want?" (Beats me. I'll let you know when he learns to talk.)

"Does S. (little girl next door) have a penis? Why not?"

"But how do girls pee?"

"Why do I have a penis?"

"Does Uncle B. have a penis?"

"Why am I a boy?"

"Where are you going without me?"

"Why do I have to go to bed when the sun is still awake?"

Saturday, July 15, 2006

In The Eye of the Beholder

So the boys got this book at Ben's baptism from one of his godfathers:

It's a cute book where you do a "find Waldo" type of thing with Jesus. This book is singlehandedly responsible for A. comparing himself to Jesus each time he puts on sandals.

Anyway, the book tells little stories with little pictures and you have to find the pictures in the bigger illustration. A. looked at this page last night and, and, after finding the guy with the water jug, said, "OK, now let's find the clown."

In semi-but-not-really related events, we had two neighborhood kids over the other evening. It wasn't planned, but they wandered in and it was easier to let them stay than to tell them to leave. We happen to have this print on our living room wall:

We were just moving into our house together and it was the only print we both immediately liked, so of course it's the one we bought. Anyway, neighbor kid (let's call him Miguel) said, "What are those things?" I hoped he was pointing at all the other things on our mantel just below the print, but, no, he was pointing to her breasts. "Are those kids?"

I found it hard to believe he was 8 and didn't know what those things were, but I did not want to be the lady across the street who introduced him to the parts of the female anatomy. He'd mentioned earlier incredulously that I was a "nice grownup" ("How come you're a nice grownup? I don't get it") but I'm not that nice.

He rescued me himself by saying, "They look like rocks."

I quickly replied, "Yes they do 'cause they're gray. Let's go into the family room." And the breasts were forgotten as soon as the train table appeared. Thank God for TTFTE (Thomas the F-ing Tank Engine, in case you're not up on your acronyms).

Friday, July 14, 2006

Send 'Em My Way

So I got an e-mail from someone who has developed a calendar for busy moms (yep, another one). She offered to send me a free copy if I wanted to review it on my blog. She apparently mistook me for a famous blogger.

So I'd just like to make a public announcement: if anyone wants to send me free stuff, I'd be happy to review it. I don't promise a good review, though.

I'll let y'all know how the calendar thing goes. As I've mentioned before, I'm an organizational supply slut, and am excited to see how this new calendar will change my life.

Maybe I'll even start a whole review page. "Things I've Tried," or something like that.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Whoa! There Goes Another Milestone

So the big deal this week is that A. started preschool. He's never been in preschool or daycare, so this was a very big event for all of us. But we tried our best to not make it seem like such a big deal. I told him, "The most important thing to remember is that if you have a question, ask the teacher. And use the potty if you have to pee or poop." I anticipated him just trying to figure everything out himself and not realizing that he could ask for help. I also anticipated him getting so involved with stuff that he didn't think about using the potty.

There were a few tears the first two days as we got dressed, but by the time we were at the school and standing in line, he was all for it. It was not as hard for me to see him go as I thought it would be, so I guess we were both ready. All morning on the first day, however, I wondered what he was doing and wishing I had a little "A. cam" so I could check in and see what was happening. It felt weird that he was having this big experience without me.

The first day both G. and I went together to pick him up, and he was so excited to tell us that he'd sat on a line and sang a song, listened to a book about fish (we seem to have an ocean theme going this session), and did his jobs. He said, "I had fun at school!"

The second day he was excited too - he'd sat on the line again and sang new songs (B-I-N-G-O but using N-E-M-O instead - he said, "they said they weren't going to sing the O or the Nemo but they did anyway.") I asked what some of the things were that the teacher told them to do, and he reported, "When you're finished with your snack you have to fold your napkin in front of you and listen to the rest of the story." That night he asked, "When can I go to school again?" Yay.

This morning, he said, "I want to go to school right now!" as soon as I awoke and I had to explain that we don't do anything until Mama has her coffee. Then in the car, he decided he'd rather go to the mall and whined a bit about that. I suggested he stop whining and he got over it.

No potty accidents, and today as I was dropping him off the teacher handed another mother a bag with wet clothes and said, "N. didn't make it to the bathroom in time yesterday." I was slightly appalled at the bit of superiority I felt.

The school's attitude is very "OK, we've got your kids now - go home." The parents don't go into the classroom at all and we're not supposed to visit and observe until after 6 weeks of adjustment time. But today I hung around the door a little to watch them start. Most of the kids were sitting on the line for circle time (except that the circle was actually a square so they really should call it "square time") and A. was sort of hanging around the teacher. The "circle" was getting a little crowded and I could tell A. wasn't sure where he'd fit.

The teacher said, "Are you going to sit on the line, A?" He replied, "Yes, but I don't know where you want me to sit." She said, "Oh, how about over there next to J?" I was pretty sure he didn't know who J. was, but I liked that he was so straight about it with her instead of hiding in a corner or wandering around looking lost. She smiled at me and said, "He's so cute. He's such a little man."

Yes, he is.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mellow Me

One of the reasons I love stopping in Ashland on the way to Portland is that it is home to Lithia Park, one of the most beautiful parks I've ever seen. We did more of a hike this time, and found the drinking fountains right by the natural springs in the park. Did you know that the water there has a high concentration of lithium? The only higher concentration of lithium occuring naturally in water (according to a 2-second unscientific review of the internet) is in New York. I had no idea. It tasted just like regular water to me, but if I lived there, I'd drink it all the time. Just in case.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Luuuuucy, I'm hoooooome

This is called the Sundial Bridge. That large spire casts a shadow for three hours in the afternoon. In this picture it's 2:08pm. G and I both saw the shadow and said, "Oh, look, it works like a sundial." Pause. "Oooh, I get it."

This is a very large, inflated Jelly Belly. A. is standing in front of it for scale. It was a very windy day and Mr. Jelly Belly did the limbo a couple of times.

This is a portrait of Arnold Schwarzenegger done entirely in jellybeans.

This is the bus that G's uncle rented to take the whole family on a tour of Portland addresses that are relevant to the family's ancestors. It was pretty interesting, considering I don't know who any of these people are. And air conditioned. And the food afterwards ROCKED.

A. learned to use the digital camera. He took this photo that he told us was of "Boys and Ivy." We did show him some actual poison ivy so he could avoid it, but I guess it didn't sink in.

This is A's view of the bridge we were standing on.

And here is a collection of other A.-composed photos. I'll spare you the outlets and switches, but what we have here include a photo of his 9-month-old cousin's head, toys, my sister's fireplace, G's legs, and the dishwasher. Click on it for a larger version.

And last, but not least: A self-portrait by A. I love that he took a picture of his foot.

Monday, July 03, 2006

There are many, many wonderful and fun things about having small children. Going on vacation and staying in a very small hotel room with them isn't one of those things.

As soon as we pulled the car out of the driveway, the "check engine" light went on. I hate that light because it doesn't give you a clue about what's wrong. We discussed moving all our things into the smaller car and decided against it. So we then dutifully pulled over, popped the hood and checked the engine. And still it wasn't happy. We went on, bravely ignoring the light.

It's been checked here in Ashland and has something to do with the catalytic converter, but the guy doesn't think it's a big problem so we can continue to ignore it.

We hit a rain storm over Mt. Ashland, which was surprisingly fierce. The boys got bored about half an hour into the trip. After lunch, they all fell asleep, including G., which meant I could push "repeat" on "Both Sides Now" as many times as I wanted to.

Ben refused to sleep last night. A weird crib and too many people in his room had him all ferklempt. We pulled him into our bed, and of course, then A. wanted to be in our small bed, too. This room is so small it doesn't even have a closet. We had to ask them to remove some of our furniture to fit the crib and cot in the room. Ben did finally fall asleep and slept for a whole five hours. We considered leaving for Portland immediately just so we could stick the boys in a different room. But we stayed and here we are, fighting Ben off the keyboard and trying to get A. to stop being the hotel's nude streaker.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Because It Bears Repeating...

This story is off my sis' blog. Her 16-year-old son plays roller hockey and his team just won their tournament (Congrats, Big K!). But here's the real story:

They kind of expected to come in second, so it was doubly fun for them. And
special, too. They have a guy on the team ("M") who has over the last 6 months,
lost most of his sight. He is now legally blind, but can still see some shadows
and stuff. He still suits up, and when there's an opportunity, the coach puts
him in and he just sticks to one of the players, trying to keep his movement
contained. But it's like having only 3 players out there, because he can't see
the puck. Once in a while someone forgets and passes to him - it's just
heartbreaking. He's such a nice kid and he was a real force on the team in the
early part of the season - strong defense, great skater, very fast, great
shooter, the whole enchilada. I don't know the name of the syndrome, but it is
apparently hereditary. He has a younger sister who's already been

After the tournament win, the lady running the thing asked for our team
captain. We don't have one, but all the kids said "M" - almost in unison. My
throat closed up like I'd swallowed one of those giant jawbreakers. (Remember I
am the person who will dissolve into sobs over a newspaper article.) I needed
more than a couple Kleenexes for that one! So he got his picture taken with the
trophy. He had to be led up to get his jacket and medal and he said the flash
kind of hurt his eyes.

Oh man. My sis and I come from a long line of weepy people, but geez. I hope he can tell what that trophy looks like and know that he won it.

And We'll Have Fun Fun Fun.....

Guess what we're doing tomorrow? That's right! Starting out on a 12-hour road trip with two small children! Yee haw!

Pity us - we do not have a portable DVD player. If things get really hairy, I could pull out my laptop and they could watch the Thomas DVD I've snuck in my backpack. But the battery will only last so long and hey - remember when all we had on road trips was the AM radio??? I remember when my first Walkman delivered me from hours of the "Beautiful Music" my father insisted on listening to. It was paradise. I had a Motown mix tape.

It's actually only going to be 12 hours on the way back. On the way there, we're stopping at the Jelly Belly Factory and at Turtle Bay. Then we're staying in Ashland for 2 days. Usually we stay at this great B&B with the most amazing breakfasts we've ever had. And, unlike most B&Bs, they don't mind kids. This time, because we can't afford the B&B for two nights, we're staying at a Best Western with a pool. Then it's on to Portland on the 4th to see family. Lots of family. G's family and my family. Family 24-7. Fortunately, I love my family.

Here's a photo from the last time we did this. G was wedged into the backseat between Ben's infant seat and A's regular seat. Ben didn't like the car back then, so one of us had to wedge ourselves back there to entertain him. Let's all pray it's better this time. I'll have my laptop and I think my sister has a wireless network, so one way or another, you know I'll be online.

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