Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tips for Scratchers

G does many things well. Scratching backs is not one of them. I don't think my back is itchier than the normal back, but maybe it is. He seems baffled by my continuous pleas to scratch my back. He tries, he really does. But he gets distracted and then the pressure sort of fades out, meaning I have to bring him back with a "Hey! C'mon! Focus!" Backscratching *must* be done at a consistent pressure to be effective. There's little that's more annoying than a good scratch petering out to nothing.

Also, a note to backscratchers: if the scratchee reaches around and tries to scratch a patch of their own back, while you're scratching some other part, they are not trying to help. They're showing you where to scratch. You MUST immediately abandon the area you're working on and go to the area they're trying to reach. Don't just scratch up and down in the same 1/2" square, either. The itch on a back sort of spreads out like a ripple on the surface of the water from the must your scratching follow those waves.

I guess there's a kind of intuitive backscratching sense one either has or one doesn't. But I appreciate his willingness to keep working on it.

In Which I Clean My Tub

Because I'm a big-name blogger with dozens of readers daily sometimes, I occasionally get free swag to try out. I enthusiastically try out everything I'm sent, with the hopes that someone will someday give me a new vacuum, a backscratcher or perhaps a trip to a spa. We really need a new vacuum. I really would like a trip to a spa. But I'll be happy with a backscratcher.

So the most recent padded envelope sent to me was a new tub cleaner, Scrubbing Bubbles Action Scrubber. (Hey. I'm not too proud to pimp a bathroom cleaner if it will eventually lead to a vacuum or maybe a trip to a resort). Like a good blogger, I took photos of each step.

I was going to present, as exhibit A, the 4 foot high dirt pile in my neighbor's yard that the kids have taken to sliding down on their tummies. The neighbors removed the pile today, though, so you'll just have to imagine it.

I can, however, present as exhibit B, the bathtub after washing all that dirt off the boys. Yuck. Perfect time to put my free bathroom cleaner to the test.

I pulled out the green foam handle thingy. ("Oooh! Glamour shot!" says G.)

I pulled out the packet of pads, STOPPED! and noted that I needed to attach the Printed Blue side to the handle thingy!!

I read the directions, even though I probably could have figured out how to do it myself. But I take my reviewing responsibilities seriously.

I had trouble opening the packet of pads.

This would be the Printed Blue side, with graphics in case you forgot the directions while you were fighting with the packaging.

This would be the white side. Not sure why there'd be any confusion, except the white side is sort of velcro-y, so maybe people's natural inclinations would be to attach that side to the handle.

The Printed Blue side attaches to the green handle like this. It holds firmly.

The set comes with a plastic tub to hold your spare pads, and has a place for the handle thingy to rest on.

I wet the pad under the sink. Don't look too closely at our sink. This bathroom is usually G's domain/responsibility, so I was really proving my dedication to receiving free stuff by cleaning the tub which is in his bathroom.

I couldn't get a photo of me scrubbing the tub without dropping the camera, so you'll just have to use your imagination. I have to say, it worked extremely well. A quick swish and a swipe, with no real scrubbing at all, and the tub was clean. I was pretty impressed. The handle keeps your hands dry and out of the cleaning solvent, and the pad gets thrown out.

You should know, I really hate cleaning the bathroom. And I'm really pretty bad at it. So this was probably the easiest way to clean the tub I've tried yet. Thank you, Scrubbing Bubbles. Do you guys sell a backscratcher?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


The best Thomas the Tank Engine narrator EVER.

I hear he had some success as a comedian, too.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Even More Fun with a Cold!

I was really hoping to get a good night's sleep last night, since I have a cold and 5 clients in a row today.

12am: Idiot neighbors across the street decide to celebrate July 4th a week and a half early and set off several rounds of fireworks. A fine thing to do in the middle of the night while neighbors have to work the next morning.

2am: Our smoke detector goes off because I have the windows open wide to cool the house down, and the winds have blown smoke from the various wildfires around Northern California into our house.

4am: Ben wakes up and must join us in our bed, and can only sleep if he is lying on top of my head.

6am: Give in and get up.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I knew I posted too quickly yesterday! I got one of the songs wrong and forgot an integral part of the ceremony.

As the kindergartners processed into the hall, they all carried small American flags. Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" started playing, and one by one, they marched up to the table in the middle of the stage, put their flag into the vase on the table, put their arms behind them, and smiled at the crowd. Really set the tone for the whole event.

And, the song where they were sadly marching around the crowd, showing the crowd their sad, sad pictures? It was "We are the World." Even better, huh?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sad Cheese, Happy Cheese

The toga was quite cute, if I do say so myself. That ring was a crown of leaves. Looked better from the back.

So - news flash: kindergarten promotion ceremonies are incredibly schmaltzy.

You always remember your first kindergarten promotion. Actually, we probably won't, but that's OK because we have 45 minutes of tape to review if we forget.

I realize most of you have been through this many times before. G. could only leave work for about an hour and half, so he asked Teacher when the highlights were. She said the first 45 minutes are the best time - "when everyone cries." So he rescheduled his group and dutifully showed up at the beginning, because this is our first.

Ai yi yi. So first the kids had to each take a turn standing on the stage in front of everyone and saying, "My name is ____. My favorite job in the kindergarten classroom is ___________. When I grow up I want to be a __________." A. wanted to be a paleontologist, and he was the only one whose favorite job was map making. I was so proud!

Then we got a lecture from Teacher about how kids today don't know what they want to be when they grow up, and then go through three majors in college and end up doing something totally different and there goes a waste of an education. G. is a psychotherapist and majored in finance, and I'm not sure he realizes his education was a waste. Now he knows.

Then we got a lecture from Teacher about how parents don't play with their kids outside anymore, let them play too many video games, work so many jobs to provide for their future when the kids really need them to spend time with them, etc. She held up a picture of a parent playing with a kid, except the parent was cut out, to illustrate her point.

Then we got a lecture about how the children are our future (Cue music. Literally.) and each kid held up a magazine photo of something sad. Then they walked slowly, with sad, sad faces around the audience. Several times.

As he passed, I hissed at A. "What is your picture of?" It looked like, maybe, a moonscape? Some rocks? He shrugged, "I don't know." But whatever it was, it was very, very sad.

Then they did the entire thing again with happy things, while "What a Beautiful World" played. I thought, "Wow. I couldn't have made this more cheesy if I tried. "

But then they did the twist, the macarena, the chicken dance, and some kind of slide dance. That was cute. In fact, that was more likely to get me teary than schmaltzy gook about the state of today's children, who looked just fine up there in their ancestral garb. Apparently some of the kids are descended from all-night diner waitresses.

They recited A.A. Milne's "The End," and got their certificates. ("Lots of schools do kindergarten graduations, but I think graduation is when you finish at Stanford, so this is not a graduation." Stanfurd???? I knew she was putting bad thoughts into my child's head.)

In honor of Teacher, we came home and collapsed in front of the TV. A. said he was exhausted from all that dancing. I told him to watch his movie and not get up until September.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Status Report

It's been 2 days so far that gay couples have been getting married, legally, in California.

Yet, somehow my (heterosexual) marriage remains intact. Go figure.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pluggin' Away

As most of you know, I am a total digi-scrapping addict. I have become part of a few on-line digital scrapping groups, and have made some great friends.

One friend, Laurie Garza, is a marvel to me. Her husband died suddenly a few months ago, and she is now raising three small children by herself. Although she grieves, she also manages to remain positive and talks often about how grateful for the time she and her husband had together. I've been inspired by her strength and faith.

The group I belong to has gotten together to make a huge digital kit to raise money for Laurie. If you're at all into digital scrapping, you'll want to get this kit - it's huge, great quality by great designers and a steal for only $12. The kit is called Celebration of Life, in honor of the ceremony Laurie and her family put together to celebrate Val's life.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Papa's Day!

This morning we did the whole breakfast-in-bed thing and I even fried eggs for the very first time. I think they were OK. G's still alive, so I count it as a success.

The boys presented G. with their present, a tool box custom designed and signed by the artists themselves.

Last month, for Mother's Day, the boys did a great sign for me:

It only required some minor modifications for today:

That's the great thing about leaving signs up for months.

Then it was off to Marine World Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Ben made friends with Tweety Bird.

And Aidan enjoyed the chocolate ice cream.

The koi was very disappointed that we had no food.

But the walruses were happy with the fish the boys threw at them.

We visited Thomas Town.

I can't wait until the boys are old enough to ride Tony Hawk's Big Spin with me. It looks like a blast.

You'd think when you have boy offspring that you would for sure have companions to ride the roller coasters, especially if you have a husband who gets sick watching a merry-go-round. But neither boy agreed with me that this ride looked like fun, which concerns me. I'm really hoping that when they get tall enough (which could be decades, anyway), they change their minds.

Friday, June 13, 2008

On the label of one of the many little paint cans G has brought home from Home Depot:


I was charmed by Home Depot's foray into the poetic until I looked closer and saw that "Evermore" is the brand name of the paint.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Gah. I Make Myself Crazy.

On my other computer, I've had the "pay registration fee" window for the BlogHer conference in July open since last night. I really want to go. It's close enough to home that I could drive. G. is willing to stay home that Friday to watch the boys. Last year I tried to get a ticket at the last minute and couldn't.

But it's $300! For two days! Ack! I can't quite bring myself to enter the credit card info and click the button.

$300! For blogging! Blogging has been a free thing for me. It's a cheap hobby that has resulted in a few free products and a small check for 6 months of advertising in the sidebar over there (a really small check). I can't even tolerate paying for typepad or a domain registration.

On the other hand, blogging is also very important to me. This place is the chronicle of my kid's lives. It's where I practice writing since I never did get a career doing that. It's my journal. It's my creative outlet. It's completely mine. I've "met" cool, smart, funny people who widen my horizons and keep my brain active.

But $300? For a shy introvert who probably won't even meet anyone because she'll be compulsively chugging water in the back of the conference rooms...and then be in the bathroom after drinking all that water?

Ack. I don't think I can do it. I know I'll regret it, though. I'll follow the conference online and kick myself for not going.

But geez....all those unknown people. I hate crowds. I hate wandering around. probably won't be in SF next year.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Good Mom/Bad Mom

I got quoted. As I mentioned in the comments there, it almost makes up for the horrific trip to hell that inspired the post.



G. is usually very, very careful about everything, but sometimes he sees Stop signs as suggestions rather than the law.

Yesterday we were all in the car and he almost plowed through a 4-way intersection where someone else had the right-of-way. Then he slightly slowed down for the next Stop sign.

"Geez!" I said, quietly. "No wonder you get tickets."

From the back seat, Ben spoke up. "Papa! You are not driving!"

That's it. He's taking Papa's keys for a week and that's it.


The kid across the street has moved in been visiting a lot lately. Just now, as Ben and A. argued about something, he said in his wise 8-year-old way, "Boy, you guys have lots of issues."

Friday, June 06, 2008

Not Kidding

Here are the pics of A. in his first week or so, when he was So Startled at Everything!

Just born, when I met him for the very first time:

His expression in that one is not as startled as, "I thought you were NEVER gonna come in and get me. How long did it take you to figure out I wasn't going to squeeze through that hole? Idiots."

In his car seat:
In his swing for the first time:

See what I mean? He looked like a very surprised little old man, but he was very observant and has remained so.

In other A. news: He's writing another book. He's already got the contents listed - he has alloted a page to each of the 25 or so things he wants to write about. I believe it will be an authoritative treatise on everything of interest to him. Topics range from Egypt to platypuses to Neptune.

He's done some work on the first page, "Aliens." So far it says: "Some aliens have three eyes, but some do not, but the ones that have two eyes have six arms."

So now you know.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Yeah, I don't really believe that everyone born in a certain month would have similar characteristics just because they were born in that certain month. But, as I posted before with Ben and the Pisces identifiers, I have to admit that the description of a Virgo fits A. pretty darn well. Those of you who have followed his adventures in real life or this blog, I think, will agree.

"A child born in September is usually more quiet, calm and peaceful than the other children. At the same time, he is also quite attentive, observant, quick and swift.The Virgo child is highly inventive and can usually come up with sound, workable ideas at an early age. Their curiosity and desire to know everything are evident very early; while in the crib they will observe and study everything that is going on around them."

In the hospital, we have pictures of the newborn A. staring, with true wonder, at whoever was holding him. He had a powerful early stare. He also focused across the room very early. I'll see if I can dig up some pics.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Home is Where the Fisherman's Knit Sweaters Are

May's NaBloPoMo theme is "Home." That's easy. Lots of things happen at home.

Like reading this note from A.'s Montessori kindergarten:

"We will have short program on the last day of school....PLEASE DRESS YOUR CHILD IN THEIR TRADITIONALLY ANCESTRAL CLOTHES."

Terrific. Let me go to my traditional ancestral armoire and pull out the traditional ancestral clothing we have stashed away, passed down from our ancestors.

Can't they just throw water balloons at each other like normal schoolchildren?

As I see it, we have a couple of choices:

Dress him up as a leprechaun.

Dress him up as St. Patrick (photo courtesy of Catholic Children's Costumes, which is an awesome site. Be your favorite Cardinal for Halloween!):

Tear holes in his clothing and patch them up, like "Angela's Ashes." I don't know about you, but that's what I imagine when I think of Irish boy's clothing.

We could go to the Italian side (G's side), but, since all of Europe pretty much dressed the same, we're still talking holes in clothes with patches.

Or, let's go back a bit farther...perhaps a Roman knight:

Or, of course, the Pope. Although since we're obviously not descended from the Pope (at least, not as officially acknowledged by the Church), I think his teachers would see through that.

I guess the easiest thing to do would be to go for the toga. Yes, I think that's the answer. (photo courtesy of How To Make A Toga)

I'm open to other ideas, though. Especially easy, cheap ones.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent....

...was summer in San Francisco. (attributed, maybe falsely, to Mark Twain).

It's the beginning of summer here. The boys and I went to the local cherry festival here over the weekend, and helped ourselves to cotton candy chocolate. It was COLD. The hot chocolate was amazing, though.

If you go to a local festival, and there's a shaved ice booth selling hot chocolate, ask the guy if the chocolate is from a special powder he got while working as a chef in New Orleans, and if he says, "Yes," buy some immediately.

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