Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Has it been a week already? Geez.

We're leaving for AZ in the morning. Totally snuck up on me. I made the reservations earlier this month and then slid into some kind of denial/coping technique where I had a vague awareness that we would be traveling at some point after Christmas so I was certainly not going to think about it before Christmas.

Yikes. Now we're leaving in the morning and I have no idea what we're doing in Arizona. My father's wife is on a cruise and asked me and my sisters to go watch over my dad, who is absolutely adamant that he DOES NOT need to be babysat and we're welcome to come for a vacation, but not to take care of him. I think that's his way of saying, "I'm not paying for your trip."

So we'll be shopping and cooking, I know that much, all the while pretending that that's what we do on vacation. I think we'll visit a few resorts and show the kids the ginormous fountains and begin teaching them how nice life would be if they could find an heiress to marry. We'll visit Rawhide and scare the shit out of Ben with fake gunfire. On New Year's Eve, we'll probably fall asleep by 10pm.

The hot tub better be working, that's all I have to say. There's something we do on vacation.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I've been cheating on my blog with Facebook. I'm sorry.

Here's a video of Ben's part in the Christmas play. You can't understand what the older angels are saying, but they're doing some sort of checklist to make sure they've got everything they need to go see the shepherds. Ben and Seth's lines are clear, though: "Me too."

And if you make it to the end, you'll notice that Ben is reluctant to give up his spotlight.

And here's a repeat that bears repeating: A's version of "Hark the Angels Herald Sing," from two years ago.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Trying To Keep Up With Everyone Else....

The boys and I made an Elf Yourself video today and I tried to embed it here, but it got posted to my other blog. Go check it out there.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Homemade Holiday

We've been busy with the semi-successful holiday crafts here.

These are the cinnamon-scented ornaments seen here at Sycamore Stirrings. I bought large cinnamon and applesauce jars at Smart & Final. The finished product ended up being a little crumbly even after 3 days of drying. I think it might work better if we turned them over during the drying, and maybe if we used the glue. Also, they need to be kind of thick. The thin ones didn't hold up. But they do smell good.

Here we have wooden ornaments the boys painted. They're cute and worked great - probably because they were our neighbor's craft, and done at the neighbor's house, overseen by said neighbor, not at our house or involving me in any way.

Have to do Christmas cookies. I make it easy and use the refrigerated Pillsbury dough. The problem is, the dough was sticky. I guess I didn't use enough flour on the rolling pin or the table, but I thought I did and it was annoying to try to roll it out and then to peel the cookies off the table onto the cookie sheet. I think we made them too thin again, because they spread in the oven so much the original shape was lost. The boys didn't mind, though. Ben made his little gingerbread-men cutouts anatomically correct (but, my husband would like me to note, not to scale).

But here's my favorite. One of my favorite crafts ever is Scrumdilly-do's Tin Foil Festive collages. We made note cards a while back with the boys' foil collages. And then I saw the fabulous idea at Bethany Actually to make simple trees out of the collages. I set the boys down with foil, watery glue, paintbrushes and strips of christmas-themed scrapbooking paper.

Neighbor boy did his very orderly-like.

Ben used lots of pom-poms.

I cut them into triangles and rectangles, and the boys glued them to cards.

They make great cards for teachers, etc. Except for the ones that kind of stuck to each other and all the ones that Ben did backwards (with the tree on the back), this craft actually worked pretty well.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bad Things Happen to Good People

One of my very favorite blog posts ever anywhere is here. I'm just going to link to it because I've been thinking a lot about prayer and how God works, and the post by Lizard Eater explains it better than I ever could.

Friday, December 12, 2008

O Harmonica

In the car today......

Ben: Mama, I want to hear the harmonica song.

Me: The harmonica song? I'm not sure which song that is.

A: Yeah! You know - "O Harmonica...."

Me: You mean "O Hanukkah?"

Ben and A: Yeah. That one.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The 14 Days of Christmas

Yesterday, A. put his presents, wrapped in computer paper, for us under the tree and insisted we open them immediately. I was especially charmed by his gift to Ben: his own Pikachu figure, complete with both ears, to replace Ben's Pikachu which had lost one ear in a tragic fall.

For G. and I, he had written "Plees do not rip it" on the outside, which required some forethought. Inside he'd written an acrostic:

Curulrs singing
Happy Speerits
Ringing Bells
Ise evreewer
Scateing on Ise
Majic evreewar
A roof has lots of snow
Soon Santa wil cum.

On a side note, where are we gonna store all this stuff? We're going to have to build a shed in the backyard just to house A.'s Library, Ages 3-6.

Monday, December 08, 2008

How We Choose a Tree

G. finally relented and agreed that my ability to breathe was more important than the smell of real pine tree and so we went shopping for an artificial tree.

We visited Lowe's and Target.

Me: Decides any of these 5 would be OK with me. I prefer dark green to the blue-green. Otherwise, I don't really care. 7 feet looks good. Am done.

G: Has to visit Home Depot, Sears and "Pool, Patios and More" to make sure he has a good sense of the full selection. Deems Frasier Fir too sparse after seeing it at eye level in Sears. Decides his favorite is the 9-foot Bavarian Spruce at Target. Measures the family room ceiling and finds it only 8.5 feet high. Has existential crisis about the perfect Christmas tree being the wrong size.

Me: mentions that the artificial tree I grew up with looked like crap until we put decorations on it, and then it was fine!

G: Knowing a little bit about my lack of attention to detail (I didn't notice he'd hung the Christmas lights on the house, despite arriving home after dark WITH the lights fully glowing), G. is not convinced.

We ended up with the 9-foot tree anyway, and it'll just bend a little at the top. I'm surprised he's OK with this and fully expect him to be trying to saw a couple of inches off the green metal "trunk" tomorrow.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

You hav givin my lots of presints so I dusideid too give you wun. And yer beard is as white as snow and yer jolee as eneewun and I think yer the best man ther ever wus.

Ho ho ho
Mery Chrismas

Love, A.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

2009 is Already Shaping Up to Be Difficult

OK, first off, that looks nothing like a mimosa. Looks more like French's mustard.

Second, that color looks horrible on me.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I'm baaack

Hey everyone! I'm back and just getting out from under Mt. Laundry. Speaking of laundry, go here to read what I think about Clorox 2 and maybe get yourself a free bottle.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

For these, I give thanks:

We have plenty of food, are never without shelter or anything we really need. I have fulfilling work, get to work my schedule around the boys', and have been able to spend their childhoods with them.

We have been so lucky with our health. Even slamming my head into concrete only resulted in a couple days in the hospital. Ben came pretty close to being stillborn, but was resuscitated and is fine. We're so blessed.

I have a fabulous extended family. Wonderful sisters, fantastic nieces and nephews and stunningly beautiful and sweet great-nephews. I really have an amazing family. I actually like them, too.

Prozac. Seriously. My brain is full of destabilizing earthquakes off anti-depressants, and my brain is much closer to fine on them. Thanks, Eli Lily.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In Portland

We're here, we survived the train trip, and it's cold but not unbearable. I don't have any pics yet because I haven't been able to hook my laptop up to the internet connection.

The boys are whiny and I figured out the real problem with these family vacations - too much togetherness. Usually I get two days at work as a break, but here's a whole week with uninterrupted kid time. Not just kid time, but kid time in a new place where they have to be supervised all the time. Grandma is a terrific playmate, but after 2 days I have a feeling she may be reaching her limit, too.

Also, we're all sick because we cannot travel for a holiday without getting sick.

More later. Maybe with pictures.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm Leavin' On a Big Train....

So tomorrow night we board the Amtrak Coast Starlight (which goes nowhere near the coast on the route we'll be taking) up to Portland, OR. The whole trip is supposed to take 18 hours, and will probably take longer given Amtrak's record.

I was panicking a few days ago because the only reviews and tips I could find for families traveling overnight by train reported having rented a sleeper car, which is about the price of a very, very nice hotel room. We're not renting a sleeper car. We'll be sleeping in our seats. Hopefully we'll be sleeping, I mean.

So we won't be in anything like this:

And this is the Parlour Car, which we won't be seeing either, as it's only for those reserving sleeper cars:

That's a little elitist, don't you think? I plan to press my nose up against the door and breathe on it like the Little Matchstick Girl.

We'll be in something like this:

And we're hoping this won't happen:

Monday, November 17, 2008

A's Latest Get-Rich-Quick Scheme

The other night, G and I were watching the Colbert Report online, when A. came out and announced that he had built a museum in his room. I realize we're supposed to nurture his creative streak, blah blah blah, but seriously, if you lived with this kid you wouldn't be able to maintain the enthusiasm 24/7 either. So we mumbled, "Great. Go to bed," and went back to our TV show. Sometimes these things go away overnight.

It appears he's pretty serious about this museum, though, since he's kept the project up for a few days now. He has a sign on his door ("A's Myoozeeum"), and charges a $1 entrance fee. I talked him into letting his mother and brother in for free, but G. was feeling flush and paid.

He also wanted me to film a short documentary on his museum. He thinks his is the only museum where you (the collective you minus his little brother) can touch fake rubber bugs, which just isn't actually true. I have a photos from the Discovery Museum to prove that, oh ye short one of little memory.

He also exhibits a (fake) sloth in its natural habitat: a small asparagus fern he's growing. He also points out the many maps of the world on his wall. He's missing Africa and Australia, but has a globe if you really feel a need to look at those continents.

He touts himself as the only kid owner of a museum, and announces that you might see him wearing 3-D glasses if you visit.

Honestly, I can't tell if he really thinks the general public is going to visit this museum or not.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Felt Board

The felts boards are coming along nicely, although I'm now cutting felt in my dreams. This is the "Autumn Leaves" set. I also have an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly set, a Make-a-Snowman set, a Decorate-the-Xmas-Tree set and after some laminating tomorrow, will have a Pokemon set.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Wish I Liked This Time of Year More

Every year around this time I start getting anxious. At first, I always think it's because the holidays are around the corner, but really, we have pretty simple holiday traditions and there's not that much pressure.

Then I remember - the anniversary of my mother's death is coming up. She died in December 1986, and the anniversary has always affected me more than her birthday or Mother's Day. She has now been gone for more of my life than she was alive for - the memory of her is getting farther and farther away. In fact, I think I'm losing it. But if I make a conscious effort to sit down, think and write about her, the anxiety releases some of its grip.

Many days, I don't think about her. I'm used to her not being around. We had what you might call a complicated relationship, filled with bitterness, anger, obligation and unyielding bonds. When she died, I had a hard time grieving because I didn't feel I had a right to grieve someone I so thoroughly resented. Then I'd feel guilty because I'd gotten what I wanted: freedom.

Every winter, I think about her. We visit her grave in December, and say a prayer. She loved Christmas and was uncommonly generous - it was definitely her time to shine. I don't feel like she's there at the cemetery, but I don't know where else to go.

Although my memories are more and more faded, I still glimpse her fleetingly in my son, who inherited her lack of height and Irish-bright red hair. I also see my mouth and dimples becoming hers with tiny lines and deep creases.

I'm sorry I never got to know her without all her baggage. I gave up on her by grade school, and built an internal armour against her. She never really got to know me, either. I like to think we would have gotten along, and maybe even enjoyed each other, if we could have put down our shields.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Felt Board

I have decided that the key to my sanity during the upcoming 18-hour train ride is to make a felt board. Perhaps you've seen these.

Felt Board

Yes, this is it. This will save me, I'm sure of it. Like Colorforms, but made of felt and work better than Colorforms, which are crappy these days, frankly. The Colorforms I had as a kid were probably made with lead but stuck WAY better and lasted longer.

Once I got the idea, there was no stopping me. I busted the doors of our craft store and bought up all their felt. So far I've covered two damaged chalkboards from a local outlet with light blue felt and have made an autumn tree kit and a build-your-own snowman kit. I still have to do penguins (Ben's latest obsession) and figures for the Gingerbread Boy story. Maybe a farm scene - they seem to be very popular with the felt board people these days.

The boys better play with these for hours, that's all I have to say.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Well, registering to donate bone marrow is still a good idea, but it's not free. But there is a place on the website where you can enter your zip code and find a place near you to register in person. There's one near me this Saturday, in fact. Go check it out.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why Not Save a Life, Pt. I

So I read over on Lizard Eater's blog that during the month of November, it's FREE to join the Bone Marrow Registry. All you have to do is complete the form and then they send you a cheek-swabbing kit. Usually it costs $52 to cover the processing.

That seems like a good idea, doesn't it? Saving a life, in general, seems like a good idea. I know if my kids needed bone marrow, and they found a match through the registry, I'd certainly be grateful that person registered.

So I'm halfway through the registration - it's not that long, but I had dial-up for most of the day and on dial-up everything is excruciatingly slow. So far I haven't seen anything about FREE but I plan to finish the process tomorrow and then I'll tell y'all about it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Saw the Sign and It Opened Up My Eyes

Benjamin saw this sign today and exclaimed, "Hey Mama! I see the sign for people on the potty!"

As good as A. noticing the "No pencils!" sign at about the same age.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not Always Sensitive

I'm a little embarrassed by how funny I find the problem the state of Nebraska is having with kids of all ages being dropped off under the "Safe Haven" laws (BTW - you only have until Friday, hurry!).

When I used to work as a mental health clinician with the police, I encountered lots of parents trying to give their kids to CPS or the police because they were "unmanageable." This isn't a new problem. We'd tell parents, "You're not allowed to abandon your children," and oddly, that phrase never seemed to solve the problem.

This just in: People who have no business having kids have them anyway.


Our Sunday paper was missing yesterday. I called and got another delivered.

This morning, we were given another copy of yesterday's Sunday paper and, as a bonus, a Chinese language paper that we're guessing is also the Chronicle...except in Chinese.

Either we got a new carrier, or I didn't tip enough last time.


Hey, you wanted me to post daily.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Sarah: "Which reminds me, you've got some overdue NaBloPoMo assignments, no?"

Sarah, did you used to be a nun? Because that's exactly what the nuns said in high school, if you take out NaBloPoMo and put in chemistry.

Last night I was so tired I climbed into bed at 8pm. Around 9:30 I woke up and realized that if I didn't get up right then and publish a blog post, I would fail at NaBloPoMo. That realization was not enough to get me out of my nice warm bed, sorry.

Besides, last year I posted faithfully every single day and didn't win ONE prize. So clearly it's fixed anyway. I'll try to keep it up for the rest of the month, just so I can say I did. But keep in mind...I'm going to be on an 18-hour train ride to Portland twice this month, so who knows what's going to happen.

BTW, does anyone know if Amtrak has AC outlets on board? 18 hours is a hell of a long time to expect DVD player batteries to hold up.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

He Must be Photosynthesizing*

My tweet from this morning: "A. asked if he could 'finally have a balanced lunch' this a.m. Told me it had to include protein, vitamins, calcium and carbon dioxide."

Turns out all the kids eat lunch on a placemat that features the four main food groups. In true Montessori fashion, they are to sort the various components of their lunch by placing them on the food group that matches best. I usually give him a PB&J (with organic pb and organic fruit spread on whole wheat bread, of course) which is hard to sort on the placemat as it encompasses 3 of the 4 groups.

I finally figured out that the "carbon dioxide" group is actually carbohydrates, and sent him with sliced turkey, yogurt, apple slices and whole wheat goldfish. And milk in his thermos, which he begged for and didn't drink. Four separate food groups in four separate containers. Hope he's finally happy.

*Thanks to Noel for the most rational explanation.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Swear This is the Last Time I'm Bringing This Up...*

Believe it or not, politically, I'm actually kind of a moderate type. The far left makes me crazy with their inability to cope with reality and their unwillingness to let people fail, when, sometimes, people need to fail. I usually believe the answer to almost everything is somewhere in the middle, and wish we had more than two parties to choose from because I don't believe either extreme is going to lead us very well. I would be Libertarian except that I don't trust people to act honestly and with compassion. One of the reasons I went for Obama is that I believed he'd be better about uniting the two sides than McCain.

I also have the unfortunate luck to tend to see all sides of an issue, which isn't necessarily bad for a therapist, but can be difficult in the voting booth. I avoid getting directly involved in political debates because you have to get all extreme to make your point and I usually see everyone's point which, because I also avoid conflict like the plague, just makes me anxious and increases my trips to the bathroom.

I'm also a Catholic by birth, Christian by choice and Unitarian Universalist by practice. I love my country for many reasons, but one of the biggies is that I have religious freedom, and don't have to worry about anyone (except maybe my in-laws) coming down on me for switching to a faith that my heart tells me is the truth.

Unitarian Universalists believe that gay marriage is as sacred a union as heterosexual marriage. Sorry if that offends you, but that's what we believe. And for the first time, I have a cause I firmly, with no reservations, believe in.

I also believe that yesterday, California voters dealt a serious blow to the freedom of religion that we value so much in this country by including the religious beliefs of the majority into the state Constitution. That terrifies me. I think some people really want our government to be Christian excluding all others, and I think the rest didn't fully think through what they were voting for.

What if we decided to write into the Constitution that everyone should celebrate Christmas, or that the only REAL religious text is the New Testament? Ridiculous, right?

This is a bigger issue than gay marriage. Yes, I'm furious that Brittany Spears (no offense, Britt, I'm talking about your younger days, of course) can walk into a chapel high as a kite and legally marry some random old classmate and then realize the next day, "Oops. That was stupid," and get it annulled and everyone just rolls their eyes; but two elderly librarians who have been in a committed relationship for many years are told that Britt's 24-hour impulse is more valid, by definition and by law, than their relationship. Heck, it's so much more valid, simply because Britt is female and Jason Alexander is male, that we have to write it into our constitution.

I've always believed in equality and gay rights and have been against discrimination of all kinds. But we're talking about taking away more than the right to marry. This makes it a bigger issue for me now.

I've heard that some think that gay marriage could lead to people marrying dogs, or some such ridiculousness. Well, I think it's a lot more probable that including non-universal beliefs, based on taking the Bible literally, into our constitution will lead to restriction of religious freedom. And, even as a Christian, I've got a problem with that.

*...unless I think of something new to say.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Playing Dodgeball With Voters

Took the boys to the polls early this morning. Since I'd already filled out my absentee ballot, I just needed to turn it in, which made it quick and easy. I've been in the same voting district for 8 years now, and I've never seen it as crowded. The boys got stickers, which Ben promptly put on his nose. I cursed myself for not having my camera.

A.'s school is also a polling place, but, unfortunately, not mine. His teacher prepared the children for the larger amount of adults on their school grounds by apparently telling them that, if they had recess outside, they'd have to "dodge voters on the playground." A. is very much looking forward to this.

Monday, November 03, 2008


I'm baffled. I really am. As I've said before, I do understand that people think God has a negative opinion of homosexuality. I disagree, but I tend to disagree when someone tells me they know what God thinks about anything. Anyway, I'm assuming those are the people on the streetcorners as I drove home from work waving the "Yes on 8" signs. I'm assuming, and maybe I'm wrong, that California voters pushing for Prop 8 to pass really believe that there is something fundamentally so wrong with gay marriage that they need a constitutional amendment to make sure it doesn't happen.

But what baffles me is that in the middle of the yellow signs as I sat watching the group, there was one handmade signs that read: "We can disagree and still LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Yes on 8!"

I think it would be great if that were true. So, can someone explain how taking away a civil right from a group with whom you disagree is a loving act? That's a serious question.

I am so ready for this election to be over. I've found this election very anxiety-provoking and frightening. Really, people? This is the direction you think is right? This is the higher ground? This is what Jesus would want? I just hope that tomorrow we see goodness and civility win out.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Halloween Parade of Historical Figures

OK, so although I poked fun at A.'s Montessori school for sucking all the fun out of Halloween by having the kids dress up as historical figures rather than as vampires and princesses, I have to admit that it turned out to be pretty cool.

I arrived at 1pm to help the kids into their costumes. Some of the kids were already dressed and sitting on the floor in front. The kid next to the door, the first kid I saw, Jack, was dressed in a green shirt, burgundy suspenders and khaki corduroy pants. He had a pot on his head, which looked amazingly like the one I'd glue-gunned together the night before. In fact....the whole costume looked exactly like A.'s. At first I thought, "Wow! What are the chances? Hmmm. Pretty small, actually." I mentioned this to the teacher, who smiled and said that A., still in his uniform, had told her the same thing. I stopped and said, "Uh, no, I mean it's EXACTLY like A's. I think those are A.'s clothes."

"Oh. Hey, Jack, did you put your own costume on or did you put A.'s costume on?" Jack shrugged. Apparently he hadn't noticed that he was wearing clothes unlike any he had previously owned. When he headed to the back of the room to get changed, he saw a foil-covered pot in a bag and put on the clothes he found underneath. Not the most attentive to detail, our Jack.

"So, you have two Johnny Appleseeds to dress, I guess," she said to me. "Jack, find the bag you brought to class this morning," she said to Jack. So Jack climbed out of the clothes, handed them to A., and A. put them on. Then we found Jack his own clothes and foil-covered pot. He didn't seem to mind. He and A. just found it entertaining to be in their underwear at the same time.

There were three Johnny Appleseeds in the class; Jack, A., and another kid, all of whom had pots to wear on their head. There was one more Johnny Appleseed from the second grade, who hadn't gotten the memo about the pot and just wore a hat.

The kids lined up according to the century their characters lived, and then paraded around the courtyard.

First up, we had Queen Hapshutset and Cleopatra (Cleo's in A.'s class and is the cutest thing in the world):

Four Johnnys and an Abe:

One of my favorites, Lucille Ball:

Rosa Parks looked great for her age (yes, I know she's dead), and owned that bus:

I forgot who the guy in the suit was supposed to be, but that's one of A's friends as John Lennon right behind him. The first graders only had to say the name of their character into the microphone, but this guy added, "John Lennon...who saved the world with peace." (followed, of course, by Muhammed Ali who saved the world with a right hook).

And we finished with Michelle and Barack Obama. I actually got a lump in my throat that the African-American boy was dressed up as (hopefully) the next President of the United States. How many years ago would that have been unthinkable?

Oddly, no kid signed up to be John McCain.

It was quite touching. And the kids thought it was fun to have two costumes for Halloween instead of just one. Afterwards, we gathered in the first grade classroom for treats and the creation of veggie pumpkin faces:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

NaBloPoMo - Ya Wanna?

Yep, it's that time of year again - when all mundane things become blog topics. Who's with me?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hey Hey, Ho Ho

We live near a road that runs along train tracks and trees. And this morning, each of those trees was festooned with a "Yes on 8" sign. Not for long, though, because G. got mad. He has no problem with people putting signs on their house or in their yards, but when they show up on public land that he as a taxpayer partially owns, sort of, well, he's gonna do something about it. So he took them down.

A few hours later, they were back up. G. took them down again. Tomorrow morning, I think it's my turn. Keep your goddamn homophobia and bigotry on private land.


Those of you who have been paying attention on Facebook know that I am now an ordained minister of the Christian Glory Church. I've checked it out, and it's perfectly legal for me to perform marriage ceremonies in California. Some states get all rigid about it and say you have to have a congregation to be a minister, but the beauty of the Christian Glory Church is that they believe you can be a minister anywhere, like the supermarket or the park or the street corner. It's really all about taking it to the people.

I will henceforth be referred to as Rev. Dr. Lunasea. And I plan to preside at the marriage of Big Nephew and Girlfriend, once and for all, this weekend. As things have been going, though, I need to be really careful driving before then because it would fit the pattern perfectly if I ended up in the hospital and couldn't make it. My sister would have planned a wedding banquet with no wedding. Much like the wedding trip to the Dominican Republic with no wedding, and the trip to City Hall with no wedding.

Can I get an Amen?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Update: A's New Invention

A. has informed me that he has created a new invention for my birthday. It's an "O-ko." Oh wait - he has revised the spelling - Oacoa (still pronounced O-ko) because he remembered there is a phonogram that makes the "o" sound and must include it. (His teacher reports that he over-thinks the phonograms. Really?)

Oh good, he's going to show me what it is. It's a plastic water bottle wrapped in paper, with a black shoelace inserted in the mouth, the ends hanging out and the top screwed on to keep the shoelace in place. It goes down when you hold the shoelace ends, and then, when you pull on each string, the strings tighten and the bottle goes up. It's a toy and if we have another baby, it could play with it.

Update again: A. just said, "Mama, you know what at are all National Parks? Teepees and wheelchair rentals. And circuses. And buildings with bars in the middle." (Kid is cracking me up today.)

Turns out he was looking at the map key, in which "local events" are signified by a symbol that looks like a big top.

Birthday Surprises

A. likes to create his own gifts to give me. This year he created a crayon-holder (because I didn't have one) out of his old converse.

Note the nice, new crayons. He picked only the best.

And the boys picked out beads and strung me a bracelet. The soccer strand is from A. and the fish are from Ben. Ben originally picked out a gorilla bead but G. vetoed it.

And just because I haven't posted it yet, here is our Halloween craft for this year - salt dough ghosts:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Finally, I'm Seen For Who I Am...

How many people come home from a parent/teacher conference to this?

This is the beginning of the birthday festivities. My birthday isn't until Monday, so no worries. You've got some time.

And in the letters, we have A.'s favorite things to do with Mama, like hugging:

Cooking (note Mama's dark, dark face. That is the face of the evening meal.)

Here is A. with a hurt knee and quite a bit bigger than Mama. Although it looks like he's punching me in the neck, he assures me that I'm actually making him feel better.

Our trip to see the T-Rex skeleton at U.C. Berkeley:


Roasting marshmallows:
Going to the movie theater to see WALL-E:

How sweet is that? Ben had some drawings too, but they all looked like roller coasters. I feel loved.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Wedding That Wasn't

So I'm sure you all remember my sister's little adventure down in the Dominican Republic in which Big Nephew (to me, Eldest Son to her) was to be married.

The Couple in Question decided they did want to get married before the baby was born and told us all that the date was set: October 20th at SF City Hall.

I met Beastie and BIL in front of City Hall where an ecumenical collection of ministers was demonstrating against Prop 8. Right on!

As we looked for Big Nephew and Girlfriend in the big rotunda, Beastie said to me, "If something went wrong and it didn't happen today, wouldn't that just fit?"

Guess what? It didn't happen. Dudes got the date wrong. They (and everyone else who took the day off to see them get married) were supposed to come in on Wednesday, October 29th. Oops. There were a whole lot of couples lined up to get married today, and if you don't have an appointment (or come in on the wrong day), you're outta luck.

So we went and had lunch at the Olive Garden anyway and called it a Rehearsal Dinner instead of a Wedding Banquet.

So the new plan is to get married in "about 2 weeks," on a weekend, somewhere outside, by someone else, but before the baby comes. The details are fuzzy, but there will be little white lights and candy in tulle, they tell us. Whether or not they will end the evening actually legally married remains to be seen. I think we should start a betting pool to help finance this shindig.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What is With This Gas Mask?

Saw this guy's videos first on The Bloggess' site and I hope he does more because they are cracking me up. The first one is one of my least favorite bands of all time, Tears for Fears, and the second is one I actually liked at the time, Aha.

Friday, October 17, 2008

No on 8, Please

The increasing energy that the "Yes on 8" campaign is getting here in California scares me.

I have a hard time understanding how its supporters, many of whom are conservatives and therefore supposedly in favor of less government interference in our lives, can rationalize inserting a religious belief into our state constitution.

What is marriage? It's a social contract, right? If it's performed in a church, it's also a religious covenant. So making a government-sanctioned social contract discriminatory towards anyone, it seems to me, would be wrong. Making a religious convenant only available to some people is a matter of that church and its members.

Saying only men can vote is wrong and it was changed. Saying only white people can vote is wrong and it was changed. Saying white people can only marry each other is wrong. Saying only heterosexual couples can marry is right along the same lines.

I understand that some people think God has an opinion on homosexuality. I disagree, but they're certainly entitled to their beliefs. But when they start messing around with my constitutional rights, I have a problem.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The World According to Ben

In the magical thinking of the three-year-old, Ben can cause things to be simply by saying it is so.

"I did too eat my dinner." He can say this with a full plate right in front of him. It baffles me because A. was always pretty reasonable and didn't try to bend time, space and reality to suit his desires.

"But I didn't want to read books before bedtime, I wanted to draw," after, of course, we've read several books and it's time for lights out.

"But I didn't want to eat that, I wanted to eat this," after he's already eaten that.

"I'm sorry! You are not sad anymore!" said to me or A. after he's hit us. If it doesn't work, he tries again, louder, until he's yelling, "I'M SORRY YOU ARE NOT SAD ANYMORE!!!"

I say, "I know you WANT that to be true, but I'm afraid it isn't," which just sends him into panicky desperation. Maybe if he restates his wished-for reality in sobbing whines, it will come true.

It's the ultimate lesson: You can't change the past by wishing it were different. You just have to learn to deal with what's on your plate now. Like cold chicken nuggets.

And that's my happy thought for the day.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Look Out, Giving Tree

A. is authoring a new series of books - 1. Groing flowers
2. Changing flowers

Here is the text of Book 1:

Soon anuther flower shel gro.

In the spring it gros.

But naw it is groing into a rose.

Naw lateebugs cud rest on it and butrflis.

And it will bee happy.

And wee love flowers. Wee love peony rose daffodil dandelion and lily pansy violet daisy petunia.

The flower names are all spelled correctly because he copied it from a kindergarten worksheet.

Have a good day. Bee happy.


Update on the Halloween Parade of Historical Figures: Up until yesterday, A. was all set to be MLK Jr. I thought it was a great idea, even if I wasn't sure how we were going to turn the whitest, only red-head kid in the school into MLK Jr. I was digging the challenge.

But then at the last minute he decided to be Johnny Appleseed because "then I'll get to wear a pot on my head." As good a reason as any, I suppose. And it will be a LOT easier to pull off.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

"Stop Screaming, I Have To Take a Picture..."

Yesterday we made homemade slime from this kit that A. received for his birthday:

You can also find the recipe in these books:

I'm going to review the whole thing on my other blog, but for now let's just say: don't let your kid put the gunk on his/her head.

Oh yes they did.

Friday, October 03, 2008

24 More Shopping Days Until My Birthday

I've had this weird desire for an apron. I'm tired of wiping my hands on my shorts. When I'm cooking, I get fancy and throw a dish towel over my shoulder and wipe my hands on that. So it's time for an apron.

I want a CUTE apron, though. If I have to do housework, and apparently I do, I want to have cute accoutrements. I despaired of finding the perfect apron for under $80, though, until I checked out etsy. Found a seller and maker of cute things who has tons and tons of fabric and is going to sew me an apron out of my choice of fabric. I chose the four Heather Bailey patterns on the left of this picture:

G's buying it for me for my birthday. I don't think the apron is available anymore, but her shop has lots of other cute custom things and she has almost every fabric available ever.

I'm heavily digging the handmade fabric bags, too. I love this from Mountain Gypsy:

What happened to Involuntary Simplicity, you ask? It's still going strong and I'm appreciating it even more. But I still like stuff I can use, want to support small crafters, and, most importantly, my birthday is coming up. Time to work on the Kaboodle list.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bringing a Bad Attitude to Every Table

We must travel to Portland every year in the summer, and every year for either Christmas or Thanksgiving. It's written in our marriage contract and the economy will fail and the country will lose the war in Iraq if we don't. (Hey, wait a second - those things are already happening......)

We always drive in the summer, because it's cheaper, and we always fly in the winter, because G. is afraid of driving and getting stuck on the snowy mountain pass and having to eat our children.

Except this year - this year it would cost some stupidly astronomical amount for the four of us to fly. So we're taking the train.

That's right - 18 HOURS on an Amtrak train. And that's if it's running on time. No sleeping car - sleeping cars are almost as much as flying. G. says it will be fun.


You remember the Halloween historical parade that sucks all the fun out of Halloween at A.'s school? A few nights ago he declared that he wanted to be Martin Luther King Jr.

That's right. The ONE white kid at the school (and a red-head, no less) wants to be MLK Jr.

"OK," I said gamely, "we can figure that out."

But now, after attending Kid's Night at church last night, he wants to be someone out of the Bible. Not Jesus, no, that's too obvious.

"How about Mary, Jesus' mother?" he asked.

"Sure. We could do that," I thought. That would make an awesome blog post, I thought, which is how I evaluate all my decisions. Also, it's an easy costume.

"Nah. She's a girl. How about Isaac?" he suggested.

Losing the train of thought, I asked, "Isaac? You mean Isaac Newton?"

"No, you know. Abraham's son," he answered. Oooh, there are some possibilities for another awesome blog post. Strap a table to his back, decorate it like a sacrificial altar and stick a big knife next to him.......

"Oookay. I don't think the school library has a biography of him, though. We'll have to do our own research," I told him.

He still wasn't sure. He picked up the kid's bible, turned to a random page and found King Josiah, the 8-year-old king of Judah.

BINGO! Toga, crown, and we're there. All the kid's bible says about him is that he was eight when he ascended the throne and that once he was king, he fixed some of the temples. There's a drawing of a kid with a crown pointing to some cracks in a pillar. Perfect - we'll just add a putty knife to the toga and crown. Wikipedia has a slightly different take on Josiah, but let's just pretend we didn't see that, OK?

So, for today anyway, that's what he's going to be. Unless some other kid has already taken it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Sam Books

A. has completed Vol. II of the Sam Books: Sams Crismus. And then he wrote "Sams Numbrs and Ltrs." I mentioned that that one had not been on the original list.

A. replied, "You know how in Star Wars the first one made isn't really the first one but then it goes back? That's like this. Numbers and Letters was the real first one."

He could do worse than emulate George Lucas, and I'm seriously impressed that he understood my explanation about Star Wars Movie Numbering even though he's never actually seen one.

Then he insisted on filming a commercial for his books. If I actually knew what I was doing in Adobe Premiere, I could make that scroll thing go much slower. Sorry. I would also make the price flash. The first 2 minutes or so he's reading the stories to Ben, which was much cuter when they first sat down to do it and before I turned the video camera on because Ben's a big ham and instead of looking adoringly at his older brother's creations, he looks adoringly at the camera. The commercial part starts around 1:57, and if you wanna skip to that, I understand.

Sams Holaween

A. continues his quest for fame and fortune. He wants to be a kid author and sell lots of books. He really likes the series books from the library, so he is currently working on a series of holiday books, featuring a hapless young man named Sam.

I promised him I'd put it on the internet and it would be almost like being published.

Pg. 1: It was omost Holaween and Sam was geting redee.

Pg. 2: Boo Boo Boo. Wuts that sawnd? Its a gost hi up in the sci. Sam ran.

Pg. 3: Hee Hee Hee. Wuts that sawn? It is a wich and Sam ran.

Pg. 4: Sam didint see enee manstrs.

Pg. 5: The monstrs wr at Sams haws.

Oooh! Surprise ending! It'd be better if I scanned in his pictures and added them (he is both author and illustrator), but there's a 3-year-old monopolizing my desktop/scanner and for the sake of world peace, I'm not moving him right now.

Future volumes are already being planned:

2. Sams crismis
3. Sams eestr
4. Sams aprlfoolsday
5. Sams thacsgiving
6. Sams forf uv jli

Last night he was compiling a book of dinosaurs, with drawings and descriptions, so "when you want to know more about a dinosaur, you could look it up in my book and it will tell you all about it."

"You mean just like this book?" I ask, holding up the book from which he is copying the information.

"Oh. Yeah."

So now he's branching off into fiction.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thank You Notes

Thank You notes take forever. Part of this is my fault, since I insist on taking a photo of A. holding a hand-painted sign that says "Thank You" and pasting it to the front of blank cards. Then I have A. dictate a message to each gift-giver, type it up, print it out and paste it to the inside. Then he has to sign each one. This way, he can say as much as he wants to say, which is often a great deal, and doesn't get frustrated trying to write it all out.

He's getting quite good at the format - "Thank you for ____. I like it because __________." etc. Sometimes it's rather incoherent but very 6-year-old:

Thank you for the shirt and hip-hop jeans. I think they will look good on me. Talking about hip-hop sounds like a bunny hopping and talking about bunnies hopping is making me think about Easter because you know the Easter Bunny goes at Easter and that kind of reminds me of a lot of things. Besides, let’s change the subject. Thank you for coming to my party. Now that’s all I have to say about that subject.

Usually I let him say whatever he wants to say, like the above, because WHATEVER, he's 6 and this way it really looks like he came up with the words himself.

Sometimes I do have to operate my veto rights, like the one to the people who accidentally bought a present more appropriate for Ben:

Thank you for the Magnalogs. But it wasn’t Ben’s birthday, it was my birthday. So next year don’t forget that it is my birthday and not Ben’s.

"Let's try that again, " I say. Next version:

Thank you for the Magnalogs. They look like fun. I tried to make a house on the ground so it would look like it would be an ant’s home. If I put it on the kitchen floor without breaking it, it could really be an ant’s home because we always have ants going around on our kitchen floor. Thank you for coming to my party.

"OK, who's next?" I ask. I'll just write this one myself.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just Because

Things that piss me off:

1. The Land Rover owner in my office building who routinely takes up two spaces right in front of the door with his/her one vehicle.

2. The sign at the self-serve fro yo place (that I'm now addicted to) that says, "We no longer accept tips on credit card payments. Please tip us in cash." Did I mention it was self-serve?

3. Finally catching the cold my family has had for the last week, after successfully fighting it off for the last week.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Animal-Friendly Chicken Farm/Hospice

"So, when the farmers are going to kill the cows and pigs, are they expecting it?"

A. has lost his innocence. He understands, now, that chicken and sauce comes from Actual Chickens, bacon comes from Real Pigs and that these animals were once alive and not unlike the pigs and chickens he feeds on visits to the farm. He's not terribly happy about the killing part, but isn't willing to give up chicken and bacon, either.

So now he wants to live on a farm. One that sells meat, but doesn't slaughter animals. "We could have chickens but only sell the meat of the ones who die of old age. Or accidentally."

Me: "Great idea! On the package, we could put "Dead of Natural Causes or Accidents Only."

The ideas just kept coming:

"We could hire a really clumsy farmhand for when we have a lot of orders."

"We could pile a bunch of stuff in the henhouse, and make it really wobbly and stuff. One earthquake, and whoa! Chicken breasts for everyone!"

"We could offer to hospice old, sick chickens (although I'm not sure their meat would be very good)."

I don't know why this idea cracks me up so much. But it does, so I'm writing it down.

Fired Up! Ready to Go!

Today we marched in Small-City-Near-Us' parade. We were part of the Obama '08 group. We asked the boys if they wanted to march in a parade, and naturally, they were all for it. They don't refer to him as "Rock of Bama" anymore, instead, he's now the Irish cousin, "Rock O'Bama."

It was a long wait to start the parade. The boys took a rest under the sign:

Cute 3-year-olds for Change:

Aidan, Ben, their handlers (me and G.) and the other kids in the group got pushed to the front to lead.

So this was our view for all of the parade:

I was never in band, so it was a new curiosity when parents, dressed in black and white like the band members, would jump in among the flag bearers whenever the marching stopped. The parents had baggies full of ice and fruit chunks, and some had spray bottles. They hand-fed the flag holders pieces of ice and fruit and sprayed water in their mouths. I opened my mouth, but no one sprayed water in it.

We'll have to remember that trick for the next parade.

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