Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions, Lite

I make pretty much the same resolutions every year, which is fine because I keep getting a little better at them, and clearly, they're my biggest challenges. It's all a work in progress. Experts at resolution making say you're supposed to include a few easy-to-reach goals to make yourself feel successful.

So I've made up a list of what I'm (probably) going to do anyway:

1. Give the boys baths at least twice a week.

2. Take down the holiday decorations before February.

3. Go to work more days than not.

4. Get the kids to school more days than not.

5. Keep the number of alive houseplants greater than the number of dead ones.

6. Get my hair cut at least once.

There, now I can look back on this list in a year's time and maybe just keep the same ones for next year, just like I've been doing. It's all part of my bigger resolution to simplify life.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Little Holiday Cheer

I wonder who's going to entertain me when the boys get older? I think there may be a period there, maybe between 10-15 where kids aren't as funny, but I could be wrong.

A. and Ben love the song "Carol of the Bells." They refer to it as the "Home Alone" song. I found this Family Guy version and can't resist singing it every time they ask me if I'd like to add an apple pie for a dollar.



But somehow, despite the context of the video, A. still thought it was a song about King Friezerton. He also calls Uncle Drosselmeyer from The Nutcracker, "Uncle Fred Meyer" (Portland peeps will understand that one).

Right now, I'm typing as G is playing "Texas Cage Match" with the boys. Benjamin put on his winter coat which he calls his "tickle proof" coat and whenever the boys switch off (it's Aidan "The Crusher" and Benjamin "The Destroyer" against Greg "The Smasher), Benjamin very seriously says to A., "Don't be too rough with him."

Now he tells me, "Mama! I got something out of my nose and put it on this pillow so I could make a snot pillow and I'm going to smash Papa with it!" Nice. So glad this is G's game and not mine. Mama don't do cage matches.

Benjamin on his new shoes: "Mama! They feel good! They feel like walking on warm toast!"

I'm going to be sad to see the cute-things-they-say stage pass.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Adopt a Family for the Holidays - Across the World


Charities know that people like to think that their money is going to something concrete (rather than the necessary but not as heart-warming "operating costs") and have come up with all kinds of ideas - A. recently decided to use his "share" money to adopt a polar bear through the Wildlife Federation - he received a certificate of adoption and a picture and everything and that polar bear is HIS. (And as an added bonus, he gets a whole lotta junk mail now). He feels like his contribution has really made a difference.

"Oxfam Unwrapped" has taken this idea and created a website letting you choose something specific to pay for in someone's honor, and they'll send you a gift card to give to that person - or you can personalize it online and they'll send it to the recipient for you. It's fun to browse through the site and think who would most appreciate the can of worms for farmers, or even better, a pile of manure (I can think of at least a few people who would love to give a pile of ^&* to someone for the holidays). Both are under $25. On the sweeter side, give a dozen chicks to a family to raise and earn income or some soap to help stop the spread of disease in a community.


If you're feeling flush, there are gifts that would in themselves make a world of difference - helping a village recover from flooding or rebuilding a primary school. Go browse through the categories - can you imagine how much good could be done if, instead of buying each other gifts this Christmas that we don't really need, we put our money into helping others build sustainable futures? For the amount of that iPhone decorative case, you could pay for a child's school meal program in Africa.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Oxfam America Unwrapped and received a credit for a gift on the Oxfam site.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The boys watched regular Saturday morning cartoons yesterday, so they were exposed to commercials! Gah! Guess what they decided they needed, right away? Yep - Shoes Under.

They were fascinated. "Benjamin," I said, "You already have a drawer under your bed. It's pretty much the same thing."

"But I want one of those - with the lines (dividers) in it!" he insisted.

"Honey, you only have two pair of shoes."

"Well, I want a shoe set, then."

"You want more shoes?" I asked.

"Yeah! More shoes." Poor kid - we could probably arrange for another pair of shoes. Both boys had way more shoes back when they couldn't walk and didn't even need them.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Driving with My Dad

I'm driving back to my dad's house in Phoenix, Arizona. We have our first argument pulling out of the parking lot. "You need to take a left and then a right," he says.

Me: "No, I take a left and then another left."

Him: "No, to get back to the freeway you make a left out here onto McDowell."

Me: "No, I originally made a right onto McDowell, so I make a left going back."

Him: "No, you made a right into the parking lot, but you made a left onto McDowell."

Me: "No, Dad, 7th Street is that way."

And so on. He finally concedes as I pull onto the freeway, "Hmm. Good thing you're driving."

If there are two left-turning lanes, and I get in the right-hand one, he repeatedly corrects me. "You want to make a left here."

"I know. Both lanes turns left."

Or, while we're sitting there: "The light is green."

"That light is green. The left-hand turn arrow, my light, is red. It would be a really bad idea for me to go right now." (It really throws him off when I don't get into the far left lane to turn left).

Before we left for the museum, he asked, "You know how to get there?" I said yes. "How?" he asked, and I knew it was a test.

I failed the test immediately when I said, "Take 10 west to Phoenix." Crap. He jumps on it. For a guy who doesn't hear 90% of what people around him say, he sure hears it when I make a mistake. "I mean, 10 EAST," I correct myself. He wanted to make sure I had the directions written down before we actually left. Exasperated, I pulled out my iPhone and showed him the written directions I'd saved. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes and moan, "Gawd!"

He nods knowingly and brings it up later, "You were going to get us going the wrong way on the freeway!" Right, Dad, and you were going to have us run a red light.

Speaking of red lights, a few weeks ago he drove his car right through one and caused a three-car pileup. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, but his car was totalled. He was afraid (and we hoped) he would lose his license, but it turned out that the AZ courts are very forgiving. He paid a fine and never had to go to court.

He quickly bought himself a cheap Ford focus with a broken door lock, broken trunk latch and broken passenger side seat, and sent my sisters and I an e-mail stating flatly that he was not going to lose his license, he would be very careful and not drive when he didn't need to, but he was going to continue to drive. It closed with "I hope you agree," which is Dad-speak for "And I won't be changing my mind."

While in AZ, I put his car key on the counter when I was done driving. "What's this doing here?" he demanded.

"I put it there so I'd know where it was since I'm going to be driving your car while I'm here."

Looking me straight in the eye, he pocketed the key and said, "Now you know where it is."

His wife is worried that he'll hit someone and they'll get sued and lose the house. She mentioned it so many times I finally snapped back, "I'm not as worried about you getting sued as I am about the potential of someone losing their life."

My father is very stubborn. When we questioned the safety of his driving a few years ago, he took it upon himself to drive himself, alone, from Phoenix to Tahoe. My sister even confronted him with the possibility of killing other people with his stubbornness. I guess he showed us, huh?

I'd booked my trip to Phoenix in order to accompany him to court when we thought he'd at least get some sort of mandated driving test. That was canceled when he found out he could just pay the fine, but I'd already bought the tickets and figured I was due for a visit.

I tried making a list of alternate transportation options (lots for taking seniors to doctor's appointments, fewer for taking seniors to bowling). His wife said, "You're wasting your time. I had a ride for him to bowling. He used it once, then went out and bought his car."

I feel as helpless as I did when he decided to re-wallpaper the dining room by gluing the wallpaper over the old wallpaper. "Mom's not going to like this," I thought, but would he listen to me? No. When he bought her the car mats for Christmas, I told him, "Don't wrap those up and give them to her as a gift, she's gonna freak out." He did it anyway, and guess what? She spent the evening crying to me in her bathroom.

My sisters and I got an e-mail from his wife's son saying that "some tough decisions might have to be made." We thought, have you met our father? Ain't no one making that decision for him except him.

All we can do is pray, take the wheel as often as we can and not get too annoyed when he tells us we're going the wrong way. And if you're driving in Phoenix, and you see a dark green Ford Focus with an old male driver, stay as far away from it as you can.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Letter to Santa

Benjamin was in a crazy letter-writing mood a few weeks ago. He'd heard A. dictate his thank you letters from his birthday, so I think that's where these came from.

To Santa: Dear Santa,
Thank you for the toys you gave me and thank you for the R2-D2 robot. I hope Christmas comes after Thanksgiving and I'm going to be Darth Vader for Halloween and what are you going to be? I hope you're doing good. Send me some cool presents. Bye.

To G: Dear Papa,
Thank you for getting out of bed and thank you for giving me the proof set but I want another one soon and I want to go to ToysRUs and thank you for taking me to Bible Camp. Bye.

I can't find the one he wrote to me. Bad mother.

Note: Benjamin doesn't have an R2-D2 robot, but his brother got one for his birthday, and he remains hopeful that life will be fair and deliver one to him as well. Also, G. gets out of bed every day.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

In a Therapy Mood

I've been in one my "therapy moods." That's what I call it when I want to tell everyone to just get over it. I guess it would be more accurately called a "non-therapy mood." The ironic thing is, I never feel this way in a session. I feel it afterward when I review things and think, "Wow. You've been stuck for how long, you come in and complain about it week after week and yet you don't DO anything about it." Most of the time, my perspective is such that I realize they CAN'T do anything about it and that's why they're there, but sometimes, with too many of those in a row, I lose some perspective.

Tonight, I'm not in a therapy mood. I'm in a "wow, some people's lives really, really suck" mood. Because some people's lives really do, and today I sat through 8 hours of people's lives really sucking.

Fortunately, I was able to come home to my boys. When Ben asked, "Do you want to read Star Wars?" I was able to answer, "Not really. I want to snuggle with you and hear about your day." He's always up for snuggling, so I got to breathe in his 4-year-old energy and remember that my life doesn't suck. Not at all.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

OK, Let's Try This Again

I've already screwed up NaBloPoMo, but they shouldn't have started November on a Sunday. Sunday and Monday are my busiest days, don't they know that?

The problem I'm having with blogging is that now that I'm addicted to Facebook, and less so to Twitter - unless there's an earthquake, after which I'm on that twitter thing like (insert cliche here) - I can only think in 140 characters or less.

So I'm going to try to blog every day from now until November 30 by just posting some status updates, and if they turn into something looking more like a blog post, all the better.

Halloween was fun. We had Anakin Skywalker at two distinct phases in his life, young Jedi knight and as Sith Lord, Darth Vader. Darth was shorter than young Anakin, but that's OK because evil makes you shrink.

I was very disappointed in the Pope for his "Halloween is anti-Christian" message. Much like homosexuality, I don't recall Jesus personally weighing in on All Hallow's Eve. I think he recognized that there were bigger fish to fry. BTW, according to this article, monster and zombies are the enemies of man. Just so you know.

Also, I got an iPhone and went hurtling headfirst into the 21th century. Before this, I hadn't even texted before, let alone customized a ringtone. Yesterday, slightly lost on my walk through an unfamiliar neighborhood, I called up my location on my iPhone and found my way out of there. I only had to go 2 blocks south instead of turning around and going 6 blocks north, which is what I would have done had I not been able to consult my iPhone. It's freakin' amazing.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

All Star Wars, All the Time

Pikachu has been dethroned. He's joined Thomas in the graveyard of discarded childhood idols. He's been replaced by Anakin Skywalker. Earlier this year, I got this idea to re-watch the original Star Wars, with Luke and Leia and Hans. I talked A. into watching it with me, and that was the beginning of the end.

For our car trip this summer, I bought a magnetic/chalkboard box for each boy. A. and I found them at an art festival.


Before we left on our trip, right at the beginning of Star Wars Fever, I found clip art photos of each character on the internet, and printed them out on magnetic ink jet paper.It worked well because they could store them inside the box. Unfortunately, it's very hard to find a picture of Princess Leia NOT in her gold bikini, so that's actually a picture of a random chick in a Princess Leia costume.



When I did the shrinky dink flames for the chalices in the previous post, Ben made his own Star Wars figures. I'll bet you can pick out Darth Vader in the lineup below.


Most of my facebook buddies have already seen the Star Wars birthday party pics, but I'll post them here too. First, here's A. in his Clone Trooper helmet that he wore to surprise his guests. It's so big he looks like he'll tip over.


Obi Wan Galati holding Jedi light saber training. The light sabers are all cardboard wrapping paper rolls covered with colored and silver duct tape.



Blasting the Death Star Pinata.



The kids were not terribly impressed with the 3-D poster on which they were about to play "Blast the Spaceship."

I also wrapped Star Wars Pez containers in aluminum foil and send the kids to the backyard to find the asteroids (small toys would have worked better - wrapping Pez containers in aluminum foil makes them look like baked potatoes). All in all, it was a lot of work, but A. has said several times that it was his favorite birthday party ever.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Little UU Craftiness

One of the mistakes I made when I joined the UU congregation was blithely checking so many boxes on the interest survey. I like all kinds of things! I like crafts and design and teaching and the internet and oh, so many things!

I got tapped for no less than 4 committees (3 of which I turned down), am now one of the preschool Sunday School teachers and was asked, since I liked crafts, to redo the chalices and flames for the kids' Sunday School classes. Actually, the RE head asked me to do the flames, and then added if I felt like it, I could make new chalices. Like I'm going to turn THAT down.

At the beginning of each Sunday School class, each student takes a "flame" and says his/her name, and puts the flame on the chalice (an upside down can) in a symbolic lighting of the chalice. Then they say, "This is Unitarian Universalism, the church of the open mind, helping hands and loving heart."

I'm not great at designing things from scratch because I have many ideas and it takes me a really long time to settle on anything. I tried drawing my own "open mind, helping hands, loving heart" graphic but that didn't work because I can't draw. I also couldn't find good, free clip art that fit the theme and didn't look stupid. And there is a dearth of good UU crafts on the internet. (Although I did find Alice the Chalice amusing).

Finally I settled on using a digital scrapbooking kit ("Dia de los Muertos" by Tangie Baxter and SherrieJD, also available here - awesome kit). I came up with this simple template and just moved the background paper up or down a little so each chalice was a little different:



I made a photoshop document that fit the dimensions of the coffee cans (obtained from a freecycler - yay freecycle!). The copy guy at Office Max gave me some 8.5 x 14 paper for free since I only needed about 5 sheets - yay Office Max! Once printed out on regular paper, I sprayed a couple of coats of sealer on each so the ink wouldn't run.

Then I used spray adhesive to affix the paper to the can. Two coats of Mod Podge later, the chalices were done.

I made flames out of clip art on the internet, printed it out on Shrinky Dink paper for ink jets (the hardest part was running out of my stash and trying to find a Michael's who had a pack left - this stuff can be hard to find).



Cut them out, shrank them down and clipped a small binder clip to the bottom to make them stand up. Then I removed the silver thingy and used a piece of self-adhesive magnet tape on the bottom to make them stick a little to the can.


The binder clips ended up being a little big for the flames, but I couldn't find any smaller and I had to make the flames small enough so that at least 10 could fit on one can. If I had more time, maybe I'd look for a different stand option. But these will work for now. I have to say I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. And, there aren't nearly enough UU crafts on the internet.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Now You're Really Pissing Me Off

OK, y'all are starting to piss me off. (No, no, no, not YOU. I'm talking to the people who aren't reading this).

How exactly is a U.S. President's speech to schoolkids encouraging them to work hard and stay in school indoctrination? What, you think there's going to be some socialist subliminal message sneaking in underneath your hearing level? Nixon addressed the schoolkids about the war and no one had a problem with it. I'd venture to say that the benefits of staying in school are less controversial than war.

And if there are problems with the national health plan, let's have some intelligent discussion about it. Let's not paraphrase and tell the public that there are "death panels" and "bonuses for doctors to encourage patients to end treatment." I have not read every word of the proposal (and I'll bet you haven't either)...but I've read enough to know what the gist is of each section and I have yet to hear any intelligent counter-proposals or arguments. I have heard lots of conservative pundits and politicians talk about stuff THAT IS NOT IN THE PROPOSAL.

All I hear is "blah blah blah he's terrible, he's a socialist, he's going to brainwash our children."

C'mon conservatives, you can do better than this. I'd like to listen to your opinions, but you're making it really difficult. I KNOW there are some intelligent conservatives out there. I also know that the liberal agenda is not perfect and I really would like to hear the other side. You have a responsibility to make your voice heard because really, some of your fellow conservatives are making you all look pretty freakin' stupid.

Monday, August 31, 2009

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Good news, depending on how you look at it: 13 kids will be at A's birthday party, which is perfect. The parents that answered the invitation were pretty cute: they addressed their e-mails to The Council and said that their young Jedi knights would be reporting for training. Yay for some people getting the joke. Over half of the class hasn't responded, but that's not unusual. Many of the families just don't ever RSVP.

So now we are working on the Death Star pinata, which so far looks more like a Death Pear Pinata... hopefully that won't be a big deal.

I ordered a case of Star Wars Pez dispensers and we're going to have an asteroid search for them in the backyard. We have Pin-the-Lightsaber-on-the-Jedi, of course, and G. will be the Jedi Master in charge of training in his brown robe. The craft will be making Yoda stick puppets. Ol' Georgy Lucas hasn't released the characters for jumpy houses yet, so we're making do with an alien/outer space theme on the outside.

(Aside: on our way up north this weekend, we drove through Lucas Valley, where Skywalker Ranch is located. G: "Hey, maybe if we get rich, they'll name a whole valley after us!"
A: "I'd rather have cable.")

It's also very hard to find a bakery that does Star Wars cakes, so we're going to have to improvise on that too. I wanted to make it myself, but A. feels pretty strongly that not providing a bakery cake for his birthday party proves we don't love him.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Star Wars Party


Hmmm. So I sent out this invitation last week to A's classmates from last year. I can't get the list of his classmates for this year, yet, so if there are any new kids, we'll just have to hand it to them next week.

Now, the RSVP date is August 31, but I haven't received ONE reply yet. I'm wondering if the invitation was too obscure. Many of the parents are immigrants, and may think we're inviting their child to be indoctrinated into some weird cult. I assumed everyone would associate Jedi knights with Star Wars, but maybe not. I guess if the other parents hold up crucifixes when I approach on Back to School night, I'll know.

I had hoped for a small group, but it might be smaller than I expected. I know A. will be disappointed if none of his friends from school show up. I don't want to put people on the spot by calling them and asking, so I'm not sure what to do.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A.'s Halloween Classic

This is my very favorite of all of A.'s books and, you long time readers know, there are quite a few to choose from. He wrote it last year, when he was newly 6 years old. It's taken me this long to scan it in and share it. I love the way he builds the story around the stickers he happened to have. Not knowing how to spell words doesn't hold him back, of course. This was also back when he didn't really care if the letter was facing the right way or not, either.

It's titled: A Schrnj Nit (A Strange Night)
Pg. 1: it was Halluween nit and the Spooks caim awt.
Pg. 2: But une haws wus not doing gud. A scalutin lvis ther and hee wus cunfyoosd cus the chiljrin wrnt cuming. (The skeleton is scratching his head thinking "Wi ur thai not cuming?"):
Pg. 3: Hee wisht his hows wus lic his grademas. (look! He's thinking about his grandma's house!)
Pg. 4: Hee put mor decuraishins and hee got mor custumrs and hee livd happlee afdr.
(This is A.'s favorite because there's a little joke - the skeleton is thinking..."Maiby I shud not put the uyball on the rooth.")


I love the way he builds the story around this thoughtful skeleton, because he only had stickers of skeletons scratching their heads. Destined to be a classic, if only in our house.

Also, I'd like to apologize for the pop-up ads on my site. I've opted out of pop-ups numerous times, but I guess I have to do it daily. I'll try to figure out how to make them go away and never come back.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Brain Dump

This happens every year after BlogHer (and this year I didn't even go!). I find lots of fabulous new bloggers, get reacquainted with some old favorites, and instead of being inspired, I'm totally intimidated.

A long time ago I won a contest as Best Bay Area Parenting Blog, well, it was tie between me and someone else. That someone else just happened to put out a freakin' national best-seller within a year of the award. Last place I saw her was an article for O Magazine.

Then comes someone like Black Hockey Jesus, who closed his blog due to some privacy issues. He's a fabulous, interesting, unusual writer. I can't come close to wrapping my mind around stuff the way he does. Or my lovely friend the Bloggess, who is hilarious and true and honest, and manages to say all kinds of crap without being offensive (to me, anyway).

Then I start realizing that I really can't write. I mean, I can write, but I can't write well. I'm OK, don't get me wrong, I'm not trolling for compliments, but I'm not anything special, or unusual, or poetic. Every book I read is filled with amazing sentences that say in a few words what it takes me paragraphs to get out. My kids are funny and cute and we have a happy family.

Then I remember "Oh, wait, that's not why I started this blog. I started this blog because I like to journal, I wanted to learn how websites worked, and I wanted a record of my kids' lives that won't burn up in a house fire." I'd always written long letters to people, so this was my way of writing those letters to people but getting to keep them at the same time.

So. Fuck insecurity. Fuck the fact that I'm not a New and Exciting Voice! I still have my voice, and I still have space to speak.

Here's some things that have been going on:

1. I am regretting talking A. into watching Star Wars IV: A New Hope (formerly known as Star Wars, the original). He has embraced all things Star Wars and now speaks at length on the various Sith Lords and Battle Droids. When he embraces something, he really gets into it. Now I'm stuck planning a Star Wars birthday party for Labor Day Weekend.

So I'm all, Aw, c'mon, how 'bout Chuck E Cheese?? All the other kids let their parents do Chuck E Cheese parties!
And he's all, I'm not all the other kids, am I?

3 wrapping-paper-tube-and-duct-tape light sabers down, 17 to go.

2. We're moving forward on the Totally Confusing Our Children Religiously front. I've joined the UU church I've been attending for the past year. G. is looking into First Communion preparation at the Catholic churces (2 YEARS of classes to learn to eat the wafer?? That's a little extreme, don't you think?). And they've just finished Vacation Bible School at the Lutheran Church around the corner and will continue with Kids' Bible Camp on Wednesday evenings there this fall.

We alternate Sundays between the UU church and various Catholic churches around the area. I feel mixed about forcing the boys to sit through Catholic mass, even if it's only twice a month. Having attended 12 years of Catholic school, I sat through more than my share of masses and I hated every minute. I didn't even have ADHD, either. The boys aren't crazy about it either, and I hope it doesn't turn them against Catholic church, but frankly, I can understand their frustration. G. got to be an altar boy, so at least he had something to DO during the mass.

Last time, as we walked out, A. groused as we left, "I didn't understand any of that! All I understood was 'Please be seated'!"

I guess we'll see how it goes. As long as they're of the mind that we should be kind to others, even brothers, I guess we're doing OK. Whether or not they think that's a mandate from Jesus or God or ourselves is going to be their business, eventually.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What's Important Today

There has to be a way to do this. There has to be a way to get all the important stuff done, stay organized and neat (maybe even clean), have time with my children and have time for myself. Oh, and get enough sleep. Am I dreaming?

All of my daily-life struggles have to do with simplifying. I define simplicity as keeping what's important and leaving the rest. Facebook is important because it keeps me connected with lots of people I care about, but it's not so important that I need to devote 2 hours to it.

Laundry is important. We don't have a laundry room which is probably a good thing because I manage to fold and put away the laundry as it comes out of the dryer. More or less. The boys' things go right to their shelves or drawers, but mine makes an intermediary stop near my closet before it's put away.

My practice is important. It keeps the kids in school and puts food on the table. My billing has to be done quickly and efficiently. Phone calls need to be returned. People need to be reminded to pay bills. Records need to be kept. Education needs to be continued.

Food is important. It's my biggest variable expense, and so I need to plan. Organic is important, at least in produce. Cooking is important because it's healthier and cheaper.

Play is important. I have to make time each day for my boys so I know how they're doing and they know I care. This is a hard one for me. I'm good at doing crafts, going places, reading and watching movies with them, but I'm not so good at just playing with them.

Spirituality is important.

Friends are important.

My marriage is important.

Time for myself is important. Writing is important. Downtime is important. Reading is important. A non-verbal creative outlet is important.

My health is important. That means sleep and exercise and good nutrition.

So what's not important? Shopping is not important, unless we really need something. Grocery shopping is important but can be streamlined.

Having the boys take a bath every single night is not important. (Having the boys take a bath when they're dirty IS important).

Cooking EVERY meal is not important.

Keeping up on the digital scrapping world is not important.

Reading all of my >100 blogs on my reader is not important every day.

Being an A-list (or even a B- or C-list) blogger is not important.

Clothes are not that important. I should restate it: NEW clothes are fun, but not important. Being clothed, in general, is important in that it would complicate life, not simplify it, if we decided to adopt a clothing-optional lifestyle in our little suburb.

My eyebrows are not important.

My toes are not important, but if it counts as "me" time, they can be upgraded.

The kid we pay to come play with the boys most mornings so I can work or write or whatever is very important. And he is leaving now so I need to go attend to what's important Today.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Coming Back


I am, I swear. I'm still reintegrating into everyday (summer) life after almost 2.5 weeks away in Oregon. I have a lot of reworking to do, personally and professionally. I have lots of half-formed ideas that need some incubation to hatch. But I'm coming back, I promise.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mozy Update

Well....when I signed up, Mozy analyzed my computer (laptop), and my two external hard drives and told me it would take 4 days to upload all that crap. It was about 300 GB of stuff. I decided I didn't really need to backup all the digital scrapbooking products I had, so I customized the backup to include just my photos, my videos, my text documents, my quicken data and my photoshop projects. That was pretty easy, but it still added up to almost 200 GB of data.

I started the backup on Tuesday afternoon. It's been running continuously since then and I've tried to avoid using the laptop for other things since the backup rate slows when the computer's being used. Today is Friday, about 65 hours later, and it's only at 4.4% backed up. I'd like to take my laptop to work with me on Monday, so I sure hope it's done by then.

Mozy says that average upload rates are 200-500 kb/sec. According to the backup status window, I'm averaging between 400-500 kb/sec, so I guess this is pretty average. Subsequent backups, of course, should be much quicker, but wow. I'm afraid my poor little laptop and my external drives are going to die from exhaustion before this is over. I never leave my laptop on this long.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mozy On Along

I've been checking out the options for online backup. You know the question, "If there were a fire at your house, what's the first thing you'd grab?" Assuming the kids were out, I'd have to grab my external hard drives. I have an older 150 GB drive that's full, and a newer 250 GB drive that's half full of all of my digital pictures and photoshop projects. Losing all of that.....would be a huge, coma-inducing bummer.

Right now I'm trying to win a free year at Mozy. The reviews I've read have been pretty positive, and if I win I'll let you know how it goes. I read on Ali Edward's blog that it estimated it would take 9 days to backup all her stuff. Duuuuude, that's a whole lotta stuff. It runs in the background, and then it back itself up on a regular schedule.

Even if I don't win, I'll probably have to sign up since it's only $4.95/month. Not bad for peace of mind. (p.s. I wasn't solicited for this review but I'd take a few free months if Mozy wants to give them to me).

Also, I like websites with a sense of humor. Mozy offers these alternatives to online backup:

Alternatives to MozyHome

  • Burn a new CD or DVD every Sunday night and store it at your brother-in-law's office.
  • Pay $200/year for an online backup service that uses old, mediocre software.
  • Buy a $200 external hard drive and hope your office doesn't burn down.
  • Do nothing and don't worry about backup. (We suggest closing your eyes, plugging your ears and repeating "I'm in my happy place, I'm in my happy place.")
  • Run a cron job of rsync, gzip and mcrypt piped over ssh to your friend's server over his DSL line.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Mother's Prayer: Please, God, Don't Let Me Screw This Up

I've been feeling pretty burnt out lately. Everywhere I turn, at work, at home, someone needs me. My job is, by definition, being needed for 50 minutes at a time. Then 10 minutes to heat up some more tea and go to the bathroom (a natural result of all that tea)...then another 50 minutes of being needed.

And you all know what it's like with a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old. A. has always been able to entertain himself, but to Ben, nothing's worth doing if he's doing it alone. He reminds of those gulls on Finding Nemo, where they're all yelling "Mine! Mine! Mine!" except he makes it sound like "Mom! Mom! Mom!"

As I've complained before, my hormones are all over. No matter how hard I try, I'm a raving bitch at least part of the time, the kids watch too much TV, they have too many chicken nugget dinners, have to take a bath in a dirty bathtub sometimes, etc.

But then today was A.'s last day of first grade, and with the last day comes report cards. I read, "His writing is truly extraordinary for a first grader. Everything is there. Highly original." And then I teared up when I read, "A. happily does outstanding work in all areas. It is so rare to see such a well-rounded, happy, able student." And his "cultural" teacher (science, geography, etc.) wrote, "Outstanding! Enthusiastic! A pure delight!"

God, I hope I don't screw this up.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Only Two

Having two kids is great. We all fit in the 4-door sedan just fine, I have a hand for each of them to hold in the parking lot, the double stroller comes with two seats, and "Kids Eat Free" places often will only let you get two free kids meals. It works quite well. I am beyond lucky to have two strong healthy (and, may I say, rather attractive) children.

So why do I feel guilty that I only have two? Why do I even phrase it that way: "only two"? I have no desire to get up three times in the middle of the night, retrieve a pacifier 10 million times in an hour, or nurse at the keyboard. I am often grateful that with two boys, I don't have to deal with the world of princesses and Barbie and highly sexualized teenybopper girls. I'm really quite cool with that. I love that they sleep all night long, and are just getting to the point where they can get up by themselves in the morning! That, in fact, is a cause for celebration and lots more sleep! So why am I not at peace with that decision?

I always thought I'd have three kids, but I also pictured myself several inches taller and I've let that go. I don't think three is the magic number. I don't think there IS a magic number (although I'm pretty sure if there is one, it's not 8).

If I were told I couldn't have any more kids, I'd be OK, and feel blessed with the ones I have. If G. were resolute in his desire to only have two kids, I'd be OK. He doesn't particularly want any more but if I felt really strongly about one more he'd consider it because he wants me to be happy. What's hard for me is that I'm making an active choice not to have any more children. By choosing to use birth control, I'm responsible for the choice.

I used to wish my IUD would fail. Not because I was desperate for a third child, but because then the decision would be out of my hands, since in that case I wouldn't terminate the pregnancy and it would be a surprise we'd just have to deal with. I just wasn't willing to get it taken out and say I really did want a third child.

I'm NOT desperate for a third child, and I do feel like our house and hearts are full with our boys. But it's weird....I also feel like I'm rejecting someone who already exists somewhere (and yes, it's a she) on some plane, and I'm closing the door on her, rejecting her. I feel guilty and like I'm choosing the easy way out because I'm too lazy to deal with a third infant. It's a very strange dilemma that doesn't make sense to my logical mind.

Pretty soon the issue will be out of my hands. Maybe it's already happened. These eggs are getting pretty old, along with the rest of my body. I just hope I don't regret my choices.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

Brain Dump and a Video

I've been avoiding the blog lately, for several reasons.

1. I've got some heavy stuff on my mind (heavy, like spiritual seeking and meaning-of-life questions, nothing bad), and to write about these thing require time and brain power, both of which I am sadly lacking lately.

2. 24 hours is quite simply not enough time in a day. Bad planning on someone's part. I refuse to bow down to the dominant paradigm and am therefore declaring that my own personal days are now 32 hours long.

3. Greg, in another bit of bad planning, was born in the month of June. That means his birthday and Father's Day are less than two weeks apart. He does such a good job planning my birthday and Mother's Day weekends (which are conveniently placed five months apart) that the pressure is tremendous.

4. One of the things he wants for his birthday is for our hours and hours of videotape to be transferred to DVD. I had a video service do this with about half of our videos a few years ago, and it cost an arm and a leg and part of a torso. So this time I'm doing it myself which takes FOREVER. You have to transfer it from the video camera to the computer in real time, then you gotta put in menu markers, then it takes twice as long to burn the DVD. Forget editing. You took 30 hours of video of people opening Christmas gifts, you get 30 hours of people opening Christmas gifts.

Occasionally, though, we find a treasure, which is the reason we videotape all those hours to begin with, isn't it? A. was just three and he thought he could read. He's reading David Sedaris' "Me Talk Pretty One Day" here, but he turns it into something about Disneyland and "Sowf Amewica" which is amazing, as he'll tell you. Then he finds info on how to sell your child. Unfortunately, he was making it up and Irving Yalom doesn't actually write anything on that subject.



(I wish the quality was better, but I haven't figured out how to do that. It's amazing I'm even able to get this up here, frankly).

Monday, May 25, 2009

Guilt

Ah, Mommy guilt. I'm not talking about the kind where you aren't feeding your child all-organic produce or actually try him on solids before one year, or don't breastfeed every hour, or park him in front of Sesame Street every day because goddamn it you have to get SOMETHING done.

I'm talking about the guilt because my beautiful 4-year-old has been away from me for almost 3 days and how much do I miss him? Not at all.

It's been so EASY this weekend. A. pretty much does what I ask him to, when I ask him to do it. I haven't snapped at him once in the last 3 days because he doesn't have to jockey for position, defend himself against his younger brother's attacks, nor is he tempted to annoy his younger brother and make him scream. He has no audience for his poop and pee jokes, so I haven't heard them.

There's been remarkably little whining. I'm burning all the old home movies to DVD for G's birthday, and what do I hear in the background of almost all the videos? Benjamin whining.

Don't get me wrong - he's a beautiful star in my life. But, he's also very, very social and wants attention 24/7. G. and I joke that the perfect present for him would be a full-time aide.

I'll pick him up tomorrow and kiss his dimples and get some snuggle time when we get home, and I'll love on him as much as I can. But I'm afraid that tomorrow between 5pm and 8pm, when the boys are at their sibling-rivalry worst, I'll wish he was back in OR.

No pithy conclusions, no insight. Just guilt.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Directions

So the husband and the four-year-old are safely in Oregon, while A. and I stick around here. A. had saved up his money for a large pack of Pokemon cards at this one tiny store in San Francisco that neither he nor G. could remember the name of, but it's purple and has Pikachu painted on the side.

G. said, "It's on not the main cable car line, but one of the other ones, and it's about a block from the cable car museum, and it's on the left elbow."

Usually his directions involve the word "hypotenuse." The "left elbow" is a new one. Being the super-internet-sleuth that I am, I found it on Yelp. And, we found parking right across the street:

And, we walked around and found another store that actually had a rolling Pokemon backpack. You don't see those every day, so I consented to buy it as long as A. promises to use it for the next 5 years.


Then it was off to Pier 39 because I was determined to show A. the sea lions despite his not really caring about them. Once he got there, he liked them:

He kindly shared his pretzel with the pigeons, making sure the smaller birds got their share:

And we found parking right across the street again! It only cost me $3 at the meter, while cars were lined up down 3 blocks to enter the parking garage and pay $20. It was our lucky day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Adios, Buckaroo

G. is taking Ben to Portland for a quick 3-day visit with the grandparents. I'm really looking forward to time alone with A., but I'm also gonna miss the little rascal. And his dad.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Diminutive Mom Has Great Mother's Day

I am giving up iGoogle as my home page because I put local headlines on the top center of the page. The headline for the last week has been Diminutive Teacher Earns Mountains of Respect. Besides being an unbelievably bad headline, it pisses me off because this diminutive teacher is "a few inches over five feet." That makes her a few inches taller than me. Anyone refers to me as a diminutive anything is getting my diminutive foot in their ass. I realize that's not iGoogle's fault, but it annoys me.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mother's Day Riddles by A.:
Q: What is the gudust thing in the world?
A: Mom.

Q: What is the diferens betewing Mom and Dad?
A: Mom is much preteer.

Q: Whats a Moms faverit thing?
A: Her kids.

Then on the inside of the card he wrote an old A. blessing: "May the sun shine brite on your Mothers Day."

I can't show you pictures because I forgot to put the damn CF card back in the camera after uploading all the pics from the day before. So we bought a disposable camera, and I had to figure out how people develop film these days. Our drug store still does it, but the counter has shrunk from about 1/4 of the store in the old days to now a tiny tiny little shelf. And it takes 5 days.

The boys made me a Tokepi pancake, then set out little easter eggs with coupons inside for me to find. I got coupons for free hugs and kisses (I guess they won't charge me anymore), free cheez sticks (meaning A. will go get one for me out of the refrigerator if I desire one, but I still have to buy them in the first place), and one for a free dime.

Then they blindfolded me and G drove all around in crazy loops to disorient me, until I didn't know where we were headed. He took off the blindfold when I guessed our destination correctly - the California Academy of Sciences. Very cool, a bit crowded, but overall a very cool place.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Happy Mother's Day, Early (now with photo!)


Ben in the car on the way home from school: Mama, I have a surprise for you. But I'm not going to show you what it is.

Me: Great. I can't wait to see it.

Ben: Teacher said we can't never never show it to our mommies until Mother's Day.

Me: OK.

Ben: But I'm going to take it out of the bag. Don't look!

Me: OK, I won't. I'm driving.

Ben: I'm going to keep it behind my back. Don't look behind my back.

Me: OK. I won't.

Ben: I can't put it behind my back in the car seat, so I'm going to hold it here. Do you know it has candy in it and buttons on it?

Me: Don't tell me.

Ben: But did you know that?

Me: No, but now I do. I thought it was a surprise.

Ben: OK. How 'bout you forget I told you that?

Me: OK.

Ben: Do you want to see it?

Me: No, why don't you keep it for Mother's Day?

Ben: But I want to show you now.

(Keep in mind, this is maybe a 7-minute drive home)

Me: Well, I'm driving now. Didn't you want to keep it for Mother's Day?

Ben: Yeah. Yeah, it's a surprise and I'm not going to show you.

Me: Terrific.

Ben: But what day is Mother's Day?

Me: Sunday.

Ben: Is today Sunday?

Me: No, today's Thursday.

Ben: Weeellll, I'm going to show you on Thursday.

Me: Don't you want to keep it for Mother's Day, like Teacher said?

Ben: No, I just want to show you today.

Me: OK, how 'bout we wait until we get home?

Ben: OK. I'll hide it until we get in the house.

Me: OK. Here we are. (pulling into the driveway)

Ben: HERE IT IS! LOOK! IT HAS BUTTONS! AND CANDY!

Me: OK, Ben, let me get your seatbelt off.

It was a little Altoids tin covered with felt and buttons and had two miniature Hershey's bar inside, which Ben thought were rightfully his, but I ate them before he had a chance to steal them.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Beginning of the End

For a few days now, it seems like every freakin' building's air/heat system has been wonky. First it's hot, then it's cold, then they turned off the air, then they blasted the air conditioning.....Then I realized that if it's happening in every building I am in, including my own home and the supermarket and the car, it's probably me. FABULOUS. I'm starting to get hot flashes?!

Last night, after medicating my monthly migraine and trying to fall asleep, I got out of bed, tore off my long-sleeve t-shirt, and dug through my drawers for my extra-light pajamas that I wear during heat waves. Then I tore the covers off the bed and wrapped the sheet around half of me (I can't sleep just with nothing - have to have at least a sheet, no matter how hot it is). The sweats aren't as bad as they were in the weeks after I gave birth, when G. christened me "The Swamp Thing," but they're still annoying.

Then this morning, everything was going along fine, but all of a sudden the boys turned into small devil-monsters who were put on this earth to torment me. They were always such needy, whiny little leeches and why did I want children anyway? I had to bite my tongue because what wanted to come out of my mouth was not intended for children under 30 years old.

Then we're driving to school, "Feels Like Home" comes on the CD, and I start singing along, Benjamin starts in with the chorus and we're singing together, "Feels like home to me...feels like I'm all the way back where I belong," and I begin sobbing. It's just so...sweet and tender and I love my little boys sooooo much.

WTH???? I'm only 43 and if this is peri-menopause, just shoot me now because there is no way I (or my family) will survive the next 10 years. Aaaaauuuugggghhh!

Monday, April 27, 2009

KaBOOM!

So when A. was a tiny one, and I was desperate for new places to go out with him besides the grocery store and the gas station, I trolled our local playgrounds. I even pulled out an old-school map from our glove compartment to try to find new ones.

"You know what would be a good idea?" I thought, "If someone would create a website rating all the local playgrounds for moms." I was just starting this blog and thought I might do something like that for our local moms. I live in a very diverse (read: lower SES than the rest of the Bay Area) community, and although there were resources for moms in the wealthier communities, we local moms valued clean, safe playgrounds, too. And we have them, but they're not really listed anywhere and some are tucked into residential areas and hard to find.

"I'll take my camera and take pictures and post a review every time we go to the park!" I thought.

Yeah. So that didn't happen. It's still a good idea, and someone else has had a similar idea and run with it. KaBOOM! is hoping to host reviews and maps for playground all over the U.S. , Canada and Mexico (it may reach farther, those are the countries I tried). Their overarching goal is to create playspaces within walking distance to every child in America.

They've got a campaign to register 100,000 parks in 100 days. Another cool thing is that you can create a group for your cause, and each park that you register (with a photo) earns you $$ for your cause, plus enters you to win some prizes like a Kindle. Win-win-win.

I'm really going to take pics and post pictures now that someone else has set it up for me.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oxygen Etiquette

So at some point on Earth Day, A. learned that each tree creates enough oxygen for 8 people. He went outside for a while, then informed us that we can't have more than 48 people in our house at once.

Because we only have 6 trees and it would be rude to invite people over and then not have enough oxygen for them.

I think I'm raising Dwight Schrute.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

You Know You Want to See My Gallstone


Look at that sucker
Originally uploaded by ColleenAG
Check out that sucker!

There were more stones, but the surgeon told me he saved the prettiest one for me to view. I didn't get to keep it. It looked just like a large piece of dry dog food. G. was impressed, which was worth it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Random Thoughts on Gallbladder Surgery

1. I found it rather disconcerting that everyone who talked to me asked, "So, what are we doing for you today?" Like a hairdresser. Shouldn't it be written down somewhere?

2. The surgeon came and said hello in the pre-op room, and then took out a marker and wrote "YES" on my belly. I'm glad he approved.

3. I told the anesthesiologist that I had a wicked caffeine-withdrawal headache before the surgery and she ordered up some Fentanyl. Fentanyl's like 80 times stronger than morphine. This chick wasn't playing around. No wonder it's been about 36 hours and I'm still feeling the effects of the anesthesia. I think she gave me enough for an elephant.

4. My contribution to Earth Day was to recycle the ginormous stack of papers from the pharmacy listing all the possible side effects, etc. in LARGE TYPE of the Metamucil they sent me home with.

5. We took pics, but they're on my sister's camera. You can see the prettiest gallstone for yourself. They wouldn't let me keep it, which made me wonder....at exactly what point did it stop being my property?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Goodbye, Gallbladder

So tomorrow I'm going into the hospital and when I leave, I plan to be gallbladder-free. They can do the whole thing in less than a day and I should be home tomorrow afternoon, amazingly enough.

It's practically a procedure rather than a surgery, but don't suggest that to my surgeon because he gets very bent out of shape and all of a sudden it becomes "Major Abdominal Surgery," the likes of which I can't appreciate because I've only had two C-sections, which I guess would be considered "Minor Abdominal Ripping-Open and Gutting of the Uterus." At first he was all, "It's no big deal, easy recovery," until I suggested I knew about such things because of my C-Sections, and then he told me I would feel like I'd been hit by a truck. But in a kind of way where I could go home the same day, I guess.

So I'll have some time on my hands in the next week. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

10-10-10

New book review on my self-help, thrifty living, life hacking blog: 10-10-10.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hemochromatosis

So today I found out I've got the genetic mutation for hemochromatosis. It's a mutation on the sixth chromosome, and I don't have any details like, which mutation is it (there are a couple, and one is worse than the other), is it on both chromosomes, etc., but I do know I have it so I gave the vampires at the hospital more blood today (good thing I'm not afraid of needles) so they can run more liver tests to see if I've got iron overload. This thing basically makes your organs absorb too much iron, which damages them over time.

One of the possible symptoms listed on this site is "Setting off metal detectors for no apparent reason." That sounds kind of fun ("No, seriously! Nothing but cotton!"). I didn't pay much attention to the magnetic science portion of high school, so I don't know if I could also use my forehead as a portable magnetic message board, but I'm hoping so.



And, no wonder I always find myself pointing north! (ba dum dum)

It can also turn your skin bronze, which is kind of cool because I could throw out my bottles of sunless tanning lotion.

But really, I'm not going to get any of the cool side effects. I probably don't have the organ damage yet, and fortunately, I probably won't get it because the treatment is really easy and effective - bloodletting. No kidding. Women are usually not diagnosed until menopause because you know, they bleed monthly. Men don't, so they get diagnosed earlier, if at all. People with hemochromotosis sometimes have to give blood several times a week until they get their iron saturation levels down. Bring on the leeches!

The biggest bummer about this disease is that I may very well have passed it on to my boys, and they're at risk for organ damage, cancer (apparently cancer loves iron - who knew?) and heart disease if they have the mutation and aren't successful at keeping their iron levels down. That part bothers me.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Grateful

The fact that I had 2 C-sections is a minor blip on my parenting screen. It's not what I'd hoped for, and certainly not what was in our elaborate and doula-inspired birth plan. But, you know, the boys came out fine and it does seem that they weren't going to come out any other way. Still, I find I have a hard time reading accounts of home births. They sound so wonderful - peaceful and powerful. Maybe it's jealousy, maybe it's hope dashed since that kind of birth will never be among my experiences. Then I found this video on F-Bomb's blog, and all is better now. I've never before actually been grateful for a C-section. (Warning: the forceps segment will make you squirm).

Heaven Has Another Angel


So, I've followed The Spohrs spohradically (hah! See what I did there? BTW, the server keeps crashing due to all the traffic, but they're working on it) after BlogHer08. Their lovely, spirited, Matt Lauer-loving daughter Madeline died unexpectedly a few days ago. She was planning to roll alongside her parents at this year's March of Dimes walk. They're still collecting donations, and if you support saving more premature babies with beautiful eyes, I hope you'll consider donating in Maddie's memory.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Keep Looking Up

At the Grocery Outlet today, Ben and I found kites for just $3. He'd seen the Spiderman one and wanted it, but what clinched the deal was finding a Pokemon kite in the display for A. It's not easy to find Pokemon-related stuff, given that the series kind of hit its peak 10 years ago.

So, it was a nice windy afternoon and we took the kites out to the backyard.

Oh. My. God. I had totally forgotten how frustrating it is to get a kite up in the air. I tried to remember why I'd thought this would be fun.

I was cursing under my breath, yanking the string away from the kids, and was just about to give up when the Pokemon kite caught the breeze and sailed up about 20 feet.

"Look! Look! Look! It's flying!" I handed the string to A., told him to hang on tight....and watched the kite sail over the roof, and disappear from view with the string trailing after it. The kite fell, and string holder settled near the chimney.

"Why did you let go???" I yelled.

"It just pulled out of my hand. How are we gonna get it?" he asked.

"Beats me. Go see if it made it to the ground on the other side." Fuck me. I finally got the damn thing up and he let go.

Meanwhile, waiting for his turn, Ben completely tied himself up in the string from his kite. So I untangle him, pick up the Spiderman kite, and run from this side of the yard to that side of the yard. Again. Again. Throw the damn thing up. Run. Stop. Set it on the lawn. Run. Stop.

Me: "Ben, get off the string."

Ben: "Can I fly it now? Can I fly it now?"

Me: "Ben, do I look like I'm flying it? Does it look like it's up in the air?"

Ben: "Yes. Can I fly it now?"

Heavy sigh. "Once it's up you can fly it." Shouldn't G. be here to take over by now?

A couple more laps, and the breeze finally lifted it way up in the air. I quickly unwound the string and watched it climb at least 4 stories high.

Ben: "Ha HAHAHA!"

I could hear A. yell from the courtyard that he could see it flying from where he was. It soared and dipped like I was doing tricks but I wasn't. I kept the string taut, and handed it to Ben, "HANG ON TIGHT!"

"Ha ha ha ha HA HA!" Ben shouted. It was glorious. The long red streamer just floated behind the spiderman face. The wind was perfect. I started singing the kite flying song from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Oh yeah. That's why we try to get kites up.*




*It seemed a lot more profound at the time.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Funny Stuff From the Kids

Gah, I'm such a cliche. But you know, the reason I started this blog was so that I wouldn't forget what happened when my kids were little. Because, God knows, we can't depend on my brain to remember all by itself. That was true even before my little brain injury.

Benjamin is a little done with A. getting all the book-making glory, so he made his own book. He copied A. by tracing states, coloring them in and adding text (dictated to G, who dutifully transcribed Ben's thoughts). Then he drew a cover and had us staple it together. My favorite is Nevada. It's also very typical Ben, as he is one of the most loving kids in the world.

Cover: I was walking to the museum of science... (that's him with the green hair. A. and I are in the back)

Page 1: South Dakota is on the world that you can't see, but I wish I could go to this continent but I'm too old.

Page 2: Virginia: I love this continent because I love it so much because it's in Pokemon world but it's not too far.
Nevada: Now let's go to the next continent. (Sorry, Nevada)

Florida: I have never in the world seen this continent on too far!

Nebraska: I love all of the Kansas! (sorry, Nebraska)

Kansas: I love this continent so much but you can't go on the sun because it's too hot!




He LOVES his book and asks us to read it over and over again, while he dissolves into giggles. It's pretty cute.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Uh Oh, I Think God's Trapped Between My Curtain and My Window

I realize I've been totally coasting this blog on Ways My 6-Year-Old Entertains Me. But he's been making it so easy. Especially when he comes home with stuff like this, from sunday school. I think the lesson was that everyone has a different idea/picture of God. So the kids were supposed to draw what God looks like to them.

Here's A's:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Look Out, Arizona


A's latest get-rich-quick scheme is to create U.S. atlases to sell. He traces one state shape on each page, colors it and then adds a fact about the state. I'm not entirely sure where he's getting his facts.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Flashbacks

When Natasha Richardson was reported to be critically injured after a fall, I paid attention. Then she died, and the cause was an epidural hematoma. So I went back and re-read my posts from 3 years ago when I had one of those. Damn. I remember feeling like they were all waiting for me to slip into a coma. They were. I feel like I dodged a bullet, but it's not the crazy, "Yay I'm Alive!" you would hope for. It's more like, "Crap. I could've died."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Our Proudest Moment

We had our second parent/teacher conference this afternoon with A.'s teacher. We sat down, and she said gleefully, "I'm so glad you're here because I have been waiting for this all day long."

How wonderful - was she waiting because our son is one of those children that reminds a teacher why they teach? Because his shining face makes her day? Because she knows that this child will change the world?

No, what she was waiting for all day was the chance to witness our reactions to the first page of A.'s February journal:


In case you can't tell, although I doubt there's any confusion because it's really a pretty good likeness, that drawing on the left is a cow humping another cow. That is indeed what we saw that first Saturday in February, and as you can see, it made an impression.

Coffee Filter Shamrock Garland



We first did coffee filter art at the Children's Discovery Museum. They turned out so pretty that I wanted to try them at home, but had trouble finding liquid watercolors. A. received some as part of a birthday present last year, so that was solved. You can use the dry watercolor palettes with paint brushes, but the colors tend to be lighter.

Benjamin had some trouble doing one drop at a time and not overloading the coffee filter, but I decided to reign in my inner control freak and just let him play. I did give him only 4 colors that I thought would blend well, because, you know, I can't give up ALL control.

I discovered that by having him do it on a rimmed baking sheet, I could also control the mess.

After they dried, we cut out shamrocks and strung them on a ribbon. The long dangly things in between are the edges of the coffee filter after the shamrock was cut out. If I had time I'dprobably put them on a different string so it doesn't look so crowded.

It looks really pretty when it's daytime and the sun is shining, but you get the idea.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Springy Craftiness

Last year, you might remember, I was planning the All-Green Festivities, which left little room for craftiness because I was busy buying beer and making Irish music CDs. This year, we can't afford a big party, so we're having Ben's birthday at a bowling alley next weekend, leaving me free to have a messy house and do some St. Patrick's Day crafts with the boys.

I went to Mom's night at Ben's Montessori preschool and was so impressed with the tidy jobs and his development of fine motor control and how much he enjoyed "Prap-ti-pal Life", so I immediately looked up Montessori-themed blogs to try to carry the ideas over to home. This cool rainbow mural was inspired by My Montessori Journey. It was a perfect way to keep them busy while I made dinner.

So first I cut strips of colored cardstock in red, orange, yellow, blue and purple. I buy the value size packs of cardstock when they're on sale, and then store them in my craft closet so we have them on hand.


Then I set Benjamin to cutting squares from the strips with his safety scissors.



I drew a rainbow in pencil on a piece of butcher paper taped to the wall. Thank you to the Freecycler from whom I picked up this big roll of paper. We use it all the time. I wrote the names of each color in the correct section.


Then, when his little fingers cramped up from cutting, Benjamin set to glueing the squares.


By this time, A. was interested and joined in.


It could be a multi-day, multi-kid project, but after dinner Benjamin wanted me to glue with him, so we finished it by bedtime.

A. added a pot of gold. And a sun and some clouds. He's in charge of atmosphere.


I gotta say, I like it a lot. And Benjamin was extremely impressed with himself. And it was done completely with stuff we had on hand.

 
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