Wednesday, December 31, 2008

lego my lego

It was a costume and Lego Christmas. Bug received no less than four dress up costumes. Pook counted the number of pieces combined in all the Lego kits and it came near 2000 just for him. Yikes.

My concern wasn't for Pook. He got his first large kit for his 5th birthday, from Sister MD I think. It was a jet and it's assembly came with lots of tears. (Piece #425 was pressed on too hard and pieces #287-#399 now needed to be fixed...) At age six, he became a pro. Since Bug is usually reluctant to accept help, I'd been reminding him every time the Santa request for Lego came up that he would need help. And so far, so good. They each managed to do a small vehicle kit the morning of Christmas independently, relieving some of my concern over Bug's potential frustration.

Because we were leaving on the 26th for our second Christmas out of town, I didn't want the big kits started Christmas day. They weren't too bothered. Pook occupied himself with a cool ferris wheel of K'nex and Bug was preoccupied the rest of the day as soon as he opened his Dash costume.

I found the costume at Halloween and made it the first purchase of the season. Bug has wanted a full body costume for ages, and had even tried on an Incredibles costume at a friend's house. It has it's own muscles built right into the arms and chest. "Feel here" he'd say before he began another lap around the rooms of the house, beaming. "Do you think these muscles or these muscles are stronger?" He put it on straight from morning pj's and kept it on through Christmas dinner all the way til bedtime pj's again.

In Nashville, he opened a Spiderman costume, an Air Force pilot costume (in birthday wrapping paper accidentally under the tree) and a real dishdash straight from the UAE. We haven't seen much of Bug himself ever since!

Home once again to Atlanta, they both tore open their Lego kits and began working. Muffin tins worked great to sort pieces and I realized that Bug really didn't need help, only random checks for missed parts. In two days (taking a break yesterday afternoon to go biking with a neighbor) they both completed their huge sets. The playroom is now divided into harbor and city. And yet there is more to come.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

norad

The car radio segued from the news and suddenly Pook was attentive. "Shh" he asked Bug. ["Santa's sleigh is tracked by satellite and radar..."] They were both very quiet in the back seat while the newscaster explained the technology involved in the project.

As it finished, I could tell Pook was impressed, as he mumbled "radar..." aloud. Bug, however, completely surprised me. "I have two ideas about Santa" he began. I smiled to myself at what I expected to be a cute comment. "Number one I think Santa is real." Ok. He had my attention now. "Number two I think Mama and Daddy come downstairs in the middle of the night and fill our stockings." I gasped silently and waited, concentrating on my driving, but not wanting to miss a word. "But we always put things in the stockings before we ring the bells" pointed out Pook. Bug agreed and Pook continued, "But Santa puts in candy and stuff later." The conversation ended.

Now the conversation itself doesn't surprise me a ton, but the roles are completely reversed. Pook is Mr. Logical, Mr. Enumerate-Your-Points. Bug is Mr. Pretend, Mr. Random-Thoughts. And plus, he's only four!

Fortunately the topic never came up again. Santa arrived, enjoyed his cookies and milk, fed the carrots to the reindeer and left treats and gifts. All was well. Silent Night.


*****
addendum 12/31/08

Bug was getting some candy from his stocking after lunch. I was in the middle of poorly multitasking and not paying much attention.
"Mama, is Santa real?"
"Yes."

ulp. I wasn't supposed to answer that. He wasn't supposed to be the child who was going to ask me that. I was going to be prepared. What did I do with "We're all Santa"? What did he do with his role as the baby brother? One more year! Give me one more year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

super zipper mom

Starting the kids off the way I do, "Have fun. Be good. Learn something" sometimes gets turned around on me. Bug thinks I should learn something myself. He recently suggested that I (finally) learn all the names of the Star Wars characters. Not gonna happen, child. Sorry. I just don't have enough brain cells left unused to bother with that sort of trivia. If I could only forget Jenny's grade school phone number, well then maybe I'd have space. But for now that will have to wait.

I can say however, that I have learned a new skill in 2008. A really useful skill. With only a pair of scissors, a pair of pliers, either hot glue or needle and thread, (plus or minus a crying child standing naked in front of me holding his favorite zip-all-the-way-up-the-front-sleeper) I can repair a zipper. I learned on a jacket this summer and just did it again. Proof that I really know this skill.

And for further proof, I will now teach the skill to others.

PROBLEM #1: THE ZIPPER HAS COME OFF
1. Take the zipper, attached presumably to only one side, to the lowest position
2. Make a small cut through the teeth of the unattached side just at the bottom of the zipper
3. Feed it into the zipper from the top
4. Zip the garment up and down a few times, tugging to align if off a bit
5. Sew or hot glue the garment above the point of the cut so the zipper won't slide off again

PROBLEM #2: THE ZIPPER ISN'T ZIPPING
1. Take the zipper to the lowest position
2. With pliers, pinch the zipper from top to bottom (inside of fabric to outside). Do this gently several times instead of once harder Each time, test drive it to see if it is tight enough to zip.

We had both of these problems this morning, but the sleeper is saved and Bug will live through another night.

Friday, December 19, 2008

stocking stuffer spirits

My favorite Christmas tradition might just be stockings. Well, maybe a tie, because I couldn't go a Christmas season without my mom's nutmeg sour cream cutout cookies with all the little sprinkles either. (I can share that recipe if anyone wants it. Best sugar cookies ever.)

Our stocking tradition started when I lost a tooth early in one school year. By the time I got from the bus stop to the house I had learned way more than I wanted to learn about the Tooth Fairy and all her cousins- namely the Easter Bunny and Santa. It was all rolled into one for me. I headed into the house and confronted an unprepared mom with the famous question Virginia once asked. The answer, "What do you think?" put me on the spot myself. Was I grown up or was I a little kid? For ages I wished I'd gone for Little Kid instead.

And on Christmas eve, all that came together and I realized the injustice of it all. Here was my mom, providing all that candy that she usually didn't want us to have, but giving it to us anyway. And nothing for herself! My poor mom spent Christmas eve in our basement sewing two more stockings for herself and my dad. But, a new tradition was born.

As the youngest, I was the first Santa. I filled the stockings with small items or candies. Then my sister, then my dad, then the head of the elves herself. We'd put in candy or nuts, little toys, batteries or canisters of film, fun socks, etc. We'd ring the sleigh bells and each head upstairs to bed, leaving behind the temptation to peek. Hopefully the stockings were too full and heavy to hang by the fireplace and were snug on a chair in the morning.

*****SPOILER ALERT*****SPOILER ALERT*****

Bug just reminded me that he wants to put nuts in all the stockings this year. I've had the boys participate in filling the stockings from the start. They know that everyone takes a turn, leaving them for Santa to complete. They certainly believe in the jolly red-coated, white bearded elf but I hope the transition to Christmas Spirit is simple for them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

deleted

I've been forced to update our address book. We've had a list of names, numbers and addresses on our computer for years. I add people and update when they move, but when someone dies I don't make any changes. I did the same thing when it was in paper form. Erasing or deleting someone seems so cruel. How can I delete a person who was worth being in my address book? When I glance through the names and numbers for someone and I come upon the name of someone I loved, but who has died, it reminds me of them. They have a memory saved in that online book. I can't delete them.

This year we figured out how to print address labels from said computer address book. And as I added stamps to the envelopes, I realized that some of them couldn't be mailed as is. I might enjoy the memory, but it might be an uncomfortable reminder if mail arrives to their spouse. Same with divorce.

The summary of changes we made for the year 2008:
2 divorces
2 new homes
3 deaths

When I was using a paper address book which dated back to at least high school, sometimes I would forget a friend's married name. The phone would be picked up by a familiar but unexpected voice- the friend's mom. I enjoyed the mistakes; I had known these women closely while I grew up, but seldom heard from them or about them after I moved out. When I put all the data into the computer years ago, I left this information out. There was really no need to know the house number for a friend who no longer lived in it. I never phoned someone's mom on purpose, so adding them to the computer was foolish. But I miss them. And I'll miss those who have been deleted in this round.

Monday, December 15, 2008

mmmmmm

I decided to make apple butter for teachers and neighbors this year. Well, yes, I still made lots of the pretzel candies, but there are a lot of teachers and neighbors. I'll give it all away. Except what we eat. My house smells fantastic right now. I've heard that you can sell a house faster if it smells like this. So, whether you want to sell a house or just have your house smell great, here is a cheater's apple butter recipe.

Fast Slow-Cooker Applebutter

(I really love the name)
50 oz jar of unsweetened applesauce (I said it was easy!)
1/3 cup sugar or brown sugar (or more if you need it, but I decreased it until we noticed and that is where we stopped)
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
Spray edges of slow cooker. Cook on high for 6-16 hours. (Until you have time to put it in jars)
Eat on biscuits, bagels, pancakes, spoons....
Or give as gifts.

timber

One of my favorite childhood Christmas memories was the cutting of a Christmas tree. Our family drove to Mud Creek Farms (true name) and wandered around in the cold until we chose a tree. My father pulled out the saw and we cut it down ourselves. Then he'd stuff it inside the station wagon. Why inside and not on top, I'm not sure. Sister MD would squish herself in the back with the tree, (seatbelt probably not on) and I would squish myself into the front, sharing a seat (not even a bench seat) with my mom. Then we'd spend the rest of the afternoon decorating the tree at home.

On Sunday, I convinced CD to drive an hour to cut a tree at the Sleepy Hollow Tree Farm. They had three types of trees: Leyland cypress, Carolina sapphire and Virginia pine. The first two weren't the type of needle that seemed Christmas-tree-like to me, so we chose among the pines. We had one picked out before settling on a smaller, narrower neighbor to it. Seems like they always look bigger once they're in the house, so it seemed the wiser choice. The kids held onto it while CD used the saw. They barely had time to yell "timber" before it fell. The boys carried it without help over to the car and we tied it up on top. We only had to stop once on the way home to retie it. Decorated and lit now, it looks dazzling. Or at least festive.

Friday, December 12, 2008

a hard case

Sister MD asked me, "What don't you buy for yourself?" It was a perfectly innocent question, but I've been thinking about it for days.

I think I am in the category of "hard to shop for". I should have been born during the Depression. I don't need much. I don't want much. I don't really like to shop. I'm not good at spending money. I don't have a list of ideas for gifts to share with my family. How did I become one of these people?

As a kid, I would have a very specific idea of an item I wanted. It would invariably be hard to locate and somewhat pricey. I would visit store after store and everything would be Not Quite Right. Sometimes I couldn't state what was wrong, but I knew I'd know the right one when I saw it. And I usually did. I drove my mom and Sister MD crazy.

Sister MD was always a gatherer. The more low-priced items, the better. But unfortunately, the more she spent, the more I held tight to my wallet. Eventually her spending would frustrate me so much I'd be unable to make myself spend a cent and I'd go home without my desired purchases. Oddly, I've found that some friends actually influence me to loosen my wallet. With others I can enjoy vicarious shopping and not mind coming home empty-handed.

Harriet has just posted twelve things she wants for Christmas. Her struggle to come up with them is the same as mine, "a) that the gift was picked out by someone else who thought I would like it is a crucial component of any present and b) ditto on the element of surprise."

So here I am at Christmas once again. And I don't know what I want. I want to remodel the kids' bathroom. I want to terrace the backyard. I want to improve my kitchen (remember, the new fridge doesn't count). But things I want that are less than 10K? Harder.

good ole Setu Cloz

The boys just mailed their annual letters to Santa. This is the first year Bug has written his own. In past years Pook has thoughtfully included a request for his brother. They have been carefully mailed to Indy the North Pole but they read:

SANTU (remember your short 'u' sound, like in 'umbrella')
SPI GLASES
TIDE BER
LEGO
CEND

I think it translates something like this:
Dear Santa, For Christmas this year, I would like a pair of rear viewing spy glasses, a new stuffed teddy bear (not to replace Ted, but just as a new friend), Lego and some candy. Love [Bug])
...and on the envelope, SETU CLOZ

The second letter was written with something called a "sloppy copy" and then recopied onto nice paper before being mailed to "Santa Claus at the North Pole." It said:

Dear Santa Claus,
For Christmas I would like spy glasses. I would
also like Transport Ferry City Lego, Police Pontoon
Plane City Lego, and Patrol Boat and Tower
City Lego.
From [Pook]
(I'm a kid)

He is not leaving anything to chance this year. The "sloppy copy" included model numbers. Not sure where they both got the idea for spy glasses and I hope they don't disappoint. They're only $2.99 on Amazon....

Now, I'm off to meet CD at the Lego outlet near his office.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

the old toys are the best toys

Our dinner group party last weekend involved eight children, ages 2 (three of them), 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. When I called AM, the mom of two of the tots, I asked what they could get into these days. "They can reach the kitchen counter, " she replied. So, up to the five foot mark it all went. I remember those days and am glad to be past them. We're full of dangerous marbles, magnets and Lego pieces around here now. I piled it up high and went to the storage room to see what I could pull out to play with instead.

Because I used to be a preschool teacher and hope to teach again sometime, I am saving all the preschool toys that my kids outgrow. Bug gave up the baby stuff much sooner, trying to teethe on Star Wars figures and skipping rattles and favorites of Pook's. I'd bring items out occasionally, but when the Big Kid toys were an option, the Little Kid stuff got ignored. I love some of those toys and I'm happy that I might get a chance to watch children enjoy them again sometime.

For the party, I pulled out a grocery cart and lots of plastic toy foods, big zoo animals and dinosaurs, a train and road set, and lots of Duplo. Turned out that the three toddlers stayed downstairs near their parents and I could have left the playroom as it was. However, this week has been fun. Pook and Bug haven't yet reclaimed the Lego or other standbys. They've been building with what they had. And by building, I mean that the room is all one big city and there are no leftover pieces of Duplo. Every toy has been incorporated. There are two trains- the Birthday Train and the Circus Train. There is a Stray Animal Zoo, a Hotel and row of restaurants, an Indian Village with totem pole, a playground with a fancy tube slide, and much more.



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

scientific breakthrough

I know what black holes are! They are the place where one would find all the erasers that came on the pencils, all the erasers bought to replace the original erasers which were used up on the pencils, all the cute birthday favor erasers which really don't erase but just smear, and all the pink big erasers bought to keep at the homework desk. Or at least one would find them in a black hole if they hadn't erased it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

news of the day

Did I mention that on this day of refrigeration, or lack thereof, Bug was home sick from school after a night of vomiting. I dragged him with me to my appointment with the podiatrist. Good news: no more cortisone shots, the swelling is down. Bad news: the pain isn't any better. She's stumped.

refrigerate after opening

"So, what color do you want your new refrigerator?" (said by the repairman)

no time for elves

My children's friends have elves. The elves sit in the homes without moving and watch the kids by day. They report to Santa each night. They return before the children wake but are usually found in a new location each morning. Some of them create mischief and are found next to a pile of food or toys they didn't clean up. They might even bring early Christmas presents to kids. I've even heard of one who moved the car overnight from the garage to the street and was found inside the car the next morning.

I don't think to myself, "Oh, how creative." I think to myself, "Oh, that mom is making my life too difficult." Because I do not have time for an elf. I do not want an elf. I do not like the idea of a snooping elf in my house. But my kids keep hearing about the elves which inhabit the homes of their friends. They want to know why they don't have an elf.

I don't want to get into the issue at all, it feels too much like lying. Yes, Santa comes to our house, but really, I try to say as little about him as possible. And I never pull out the "Be good or Santa won't come" sort of stuff. But now with the elves, I'm getting forced into conversations about specifics. Last week a friend explained to my children that she had to have an elf at her house because her kids were naughty, but maybe we were lucky because we didn't need one. I'm not sure what the boys thought of that explanation, but it only solved a temporary problem, if that. It created more myth about the elf than I really wanted.

How does one deal with this? I ignored it last year and hoped it would go away. It didn't. It came back this year with more intensity and more questions. If I explain the truth to the boys, no matter how carefully I word it, they will spill the beans to the kids who have elves. After all, Bug is only four. He lives in Pretend and Fantasy every day. This fits right into his view of the world. But if I let it go, they'll continue to feel cheated out of this fun. And I do believe it is fun. I just don't want to be coerced into playing.

Monday, December 8, 2008

appliance roulette

Our oven has broken at least twice. Sometimes it comes to life again without any repair, sometimes it comes to life despite the replaced thermostat. Our dishwasher is on it's last legs. We dump in soap but can't close the soap door. Seems like things don't always get clean these days either. And there is rust inside. And, it stinks. I worry about the dishwasher. But it was the refrigerator that broke this weekend. Who knew?

We had a Christmas gathering with the families of our dinner group. We usually pick restaurants and hire babysitters, but this month we cooked and everyone came to our house. LG brought an apple cobbler and ice cream. When she pulled out the ice cream to serve it, it was mush. Good mush I must add, melted all over the hot cobbler. I figured we'd been in the freezer too much for ice and it had gotten left open accidentally. Nope. Broken.

I'm looking for a repair person as I type. Only one with a reference has a new phone number and can't be found. CD looked up a few other names but no one can come until tomorrow. We are fortunate to have a large freezer in our garage. The fridge has a couple bags of ice to keep milk, cheese, eggs and such things edible. The rest we refroze outside. I'll open the fridge as little as possible and try to use up anything I can for dinner tonight.

I do not want a new refrigerator (or oven or dishwasher) for Christmas. Just in case someone wondered.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Humpty Dumpty Bug

overheard:

Daddy, will you crack me open?
You mean like an egg?
No, like tickle me.
Tickle you till you break open?
No, tickle me till the giggles come out.
Do you mean, crack you up?
Yeah! Tickle me till I crack up!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

follow the light






This was the view from my bathroom window a week or so ago. Our Chinese Maple tree is over two stories tall. When the leaves turn and the sun is out, it simply glows.









The window in the children's bathroom is frosted and the light and color are diffused. I have come upstairs just to look for the source of the pink light.



The leaves are almost all gone now from the rain we had Monday. I will have to wait a full year to enjoy the color show again.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

baking

Today I pulled out the recipe file and picked out Christmas cookie recipes for the year. My baking goal may be a bit extensive, but I already did the gingerbread house at Halloween, so I might succeed. We'll see.

Cookies to Make for Christmas 2008
  • pretzel-Hershey's wreaths with an M&M on top. Easy and good. I already made some on Monday.
  • fruitcake cookies with the recipe I invented
  • nutmeg Christmas cutouts- with my mom when she arrives - and lots of mess with the kids and sprinkles
two of the following:
  • Swedish cookies sliced thin with nuts and powdered sugar
  • "Faith's Grandma's cookies"- I have never made these. But... my memory of them (only eaten once and probably in the 70's) is still strong. Therefore, I think I should finally make them. They call for an entire orange and are rolled in cinnamon sugar. I enjoy the irony that Faith and her grandma are Jewish. Hope she'd approve.
  • "Cookie Store Cat" fruit squares with a shortbread dough and jelly- recipe came from a kid's book... "The Cookie Store Cat" (surprise there!)
Then I'm going to make apple butter* for teachers and neighbors (might give pretzels to some instead) and probably a coffee cake to eat Christmas morning. I'd be smart if I had it half baked and in the freezer before the big morning. That's all!

*I make apple butter by putting unsweetened applesauce in the crock pot with sugar and spices, and coming back for it many hours later. Simple as can be.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

please be quiet

Laryngitis!

He feels perfectly healthy. He just can't talk much. He's just loud enough to be heard, but doesn't have a scream in him. Or a shriek. Or a yelp. Or a squeal. Or a shout. Or any of the rest of those. And if you know Bug, you know he's loud.

First thing said about him in the delivery room: "My what a beautiful baby. My goodness, he has strong lungs." True quote and fitting to a T. He used to leave our ears ringing when we held him. I could comfort him better if he didn't hurt my ears. I would tickle him more if he wasn't so loud.

I should feel badly. But really, I'm wondering if it can be induced.

Monday, December 1, 2008

list making

I'm a list maker. If it means anything to you, I fall off the edge of the 'J' criteria on the Myers-Briggs. I can make lists of things that make me a list maker if you want. Pook likes making lists, but his are things like The Characters in the Book Ordinary Boy, and U.S. Presidents. I make lots of lists on scraps of paper mostly as I drive. All my lists fall under the title To Do.

When I notice that my car/purse/desk is full of scraps of paper, I pull them together to make a Master List. Those feel especially good because I usually find things on the list that I've already done, so after I recopy them onto the Master List, I get to cross them off right away. (If you have to ask why I bother to write them at all, you just don't get us 'J' personalities.)

Christmas is Prime List Making Time. I need to:
  • make a big order from Amazon
  • make a small order from another, to remain unnamed, location
  • make another Target run (or maybe W%##Mart even though I hate the place).
  • The kids and I need to go to Michael's Crafts and then produce some cousin gifts.
  • make a trip to the Post Office- just for Sister MD's family.
I made an Excel spreadsheet this year to keep track of past and present gift giving to extended family. I love it. I can keep the ideas they email to me available to look at in the future. If SisterInLaw dislikes vanilla and peach scents but likes candles and bathtub products but isn't getting any this year, I can remember the idea for another time. It also is supposed to remind me that there are lots of December birthdays in my family.

Ugh.... (I was temporarily off in La-La-Land making sure I'm prepared and now I need to add a second trip to the post office, and soon.) But back to my lists.
  • Advent calendar (Ha! Just got it out and hung it up this morning! Does my computer have a check mark somewhere?)
  • decorate house- one must do this slowly so CD doesn't freak out
  • see if there are pansies anywhere in Atlanta that I can put in my backyard planter. I'll bet they're all gone and replaced by Christmas trees
  • find place to cut tree this year- see if we have a free (ha!) weekend afternoon anywhere.
Now I'm starting to panic. I will stop this list making before I'm a mess. I'm going to unload some laundry and unwrap a pile of Hershey's kisses. I can bake a few pretzel candies right now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

cooking with kids

I baked pumpkin bread a few days ago with Pook. Bug was napping and we had an hour to ourselves. I was so patient, letting him do all the measurements (even doubling the recipe for me) and spilling whatever he spilled. The bread turned out great and he and I had some nice time alone which we don't get often these days.

Bug was off from school both Monday and Tuesday (We do not get our money's worth out of that preschool this time of year!) and I got nothing done. I kept thinking I'd finish everything up on Wednesday when his brother would be home to entertain him. The laundry piled up but I kept him relatively occupied.

All I needed to do today was to bake pies. The plan was one pumpkin and one apple. Then two apple. Then two apple and one pumpkin. Then I started. [Then I stopped to break up an argument. Then I restarted.] (Take the sentences in brackets right there and insert them again every time I put [] )

I'm glad I bought lots of apples just for my family to eat. I kept peeling and peeling and coring and slicing and looking for more apples. [] I used every last one in the house and barely had enough. I added the spices three times. The first batch got to drain, as my food-porn tv show suggested. The second time I added more apples I remeasured the spices. [] The third time it all just got dumped in. []

Bug seemed to have no interest in helping anyone do anything they requested. It was that kind of a day for him. So, I asked Pook to help with the pie crust (store bought this time) and he unwrapped it and had it ripped to shreds before I could tell him how to do it. I took over and patched it up. [] [] Finally, I put them in the oven. [] No. I put ONE in the oven because my &^%$# %^&* *&^% ^%$ oven is so small it only holds one pie. A few minutes later I took it out and remembered that I needed to put the crumb topping on before it baked. I asked Pook to help me make the topping- flour, brown sugar and butter. Then I took over as he licked off the table.

Finally I got one pie in the oven. I looked around at the clock (two hours) and the floor (should have had him lick that too) and the dishes. I ate a square of chocolate. I pulled a load of laundry out of the dryer and added a new one. I washed the dishes, wiped the counters and table and swept the floor. I heard another argument brewing and I gave Bug a warning that naptime was approaching. I transfered another load of laundry. I tucked Bug in and came downstairs just in time to remove the first pie and start baking the second one.

I am not baking a pumpkin pie today. Apple will be plenty. We still need to fold laundry and pack for the weekend. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am thankful for my children's help. I think.

Finally I sat down here at the computer. Pook wandered in. "Can you play with me? We haven't done anything today."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

nesting

We raked the first installment of leaves in our yard today. We usually finish New Year's Day-- weird tradition, but it works. Pook collected twigs we'd uncovered and when I suggested he put them in the new firewood bin, his brain started to roll.

Now my chimney is sending the sweet scent of a wood burning fire throughout the neighborhood. We just had appetizers and cocktails. This consisted of crackers with cream cheese and jelly (pepper jelly, pinot grigio jelly and peach- the boys liked them all) and whatever combo we can make of bubbly-kid-friendly-drink mixed with juice and served with a straw. They boys both want to play games later, but right now CD is trolling through a lyric book with his guitar. They have pulled out every pillow and blanket they can find to build, not a fort, but a nest. If anyone lays an egg I'll update later. We've got dinner in the crock pot or we'd put hot dogs on a stick. It's just that kind of an evening.

Friday, November 21, 2008

pay up

My kids enjoyed A Midsummer Night's Dream. Bug has been prancing around and, although he doesn't really know the plot, he wants to act it out. Costumes are the best part. I suggested to relatives that they shop after Halloween to find costumes for him for Christmas. He's a dramatic little boy!

Me, I don't like drama in my life and fortunately I had a boring time at court. I plead guilty, basically because I was -- and I wasn't sure exactly what nolo contendere involved. Then I sat and waited. When I was called up to the judge he didn't even ask me about the incident. He looked at his paperwork, muttered "$115" and I was ushered out. I was home in time to kiss the boys good night.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

consequences

My kids and my husband are out watching Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Pook's school. The third through fifth grade children are performing. Some parent has connections to a local university's Shakespeare program and this is an annual event. I'd love to see how they adapt it for the little ones. I can't wait to hear Bug's take on it. He might be good at theatre, considering how much pretend he does at home daily.

I will be at traffic court for the fender bender I had last month. Not sure what to expect. I'm bringing a book in case it gets boring and I'm bringing cash in case I get a fine. Loved explaining why I'd miss Shakespeare when the kids asked. Then CD mentioned bringing money. "Why do you need money?" "If the judge thinks I did a bad thing I might get a consequence and have to pay money." (They know the word "consequences" very, very well!)

If they hadn't had the play going on I would have considered taking them along for the learning experience. Plus, what judge would be hard on me in front of them? Instead I'm on my own. Hope I can find the right building in the dark- I'm due at 7pm. I'm not particularly nervous yet, but I will be. Pleased to say I've never done anything like this before. I'm grateful that I'm just going to the tiny city court near us and not downtown county or downtown Atlanta. I've done jury duty at both of those and neither is in a location I'd enjoy visiting at night, alone.

Off I go. If there's anything worth following up with on either of the evening's activities, I'll do it tomorrow.

twentieth century dinosaurs

I love Scholastic books. I was a teacher and I bought and redeemed points for lots and lots of books which now line the shelves upstairs in my house. That said, I'm disappointed in how much tv character merchandise they sell. I wish the school could limit how much they offer. They don't know what books will be available until they unpack the boxes. Scholastic has its heart in the right place. The policy is that if a child comes to buy a book and doesn't have enough money, the salespeople (such as me, today) are to discretely sell the book to the child and ask them to bring the rest of the money another day. There is to be no follow up. Scholastic would rather "put the book in the child's hands than lose a sale and disappoint a child".

Pook and Bug both have book fairs at school right now. They've been poring over the newsprint brochure. They know to look at real stories and not character books and items, which I won't pay to own. I said I would buy them each a book and I'm encouraging Pook to spend his own money to get one for his brother for Christmas. Three of the seven on his wish list were books he thought Bug would want.

The kids see something Pokemon and are discussing it. I looked over and checked it out.
Pook: "I guess you didn't have Pokemon when you were a kid."
I defend myself, "No, but there were lots of other characters."
Pook takes the slam dunk: "Well, I wasn't alive in the Twentieth Century, so I wouldn't know."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

science mom

Today I was "Science Mom" at Bug's preschool. I had no idea what that meant when I signed up for it at the start of school. The teacher had no specific date for me and no curricular topic for me. All I knew is that last month they'd done color mixing, so I needed something different. I read a fun idea somewhere (can't credit it b/c I've no idea where) about teaching children to wash away germs. Seeing as it is Prime Germ Season right now it was a perfect fit.

If you'd like to play along at home, you will need:
  • magnifying glass (I borrowed enough for everyone from the elementary school)
  • white paper towels
  • soap and water
  • Crisco
  • ground cinnamon
Directions:
  • Spread a dab of Crisco on your hands, smearing it all over the fingernails and between the fingers.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon "germs" on your hands and rub them around also.
  • Look at the germs with the magnifying glass
  • Try to wipe off the germs with a dry paper towel
  • Look for any remaining germs with the magnifying glass
  • Wash hands with soap and water
  • Look for any hidden germs in between fingers and by fingernails (Lather, Rinse and Repeat)
I also read a couple of books: Body Battles by Rita Gelman and The Germ Patrol by Shulman, Stolp and Voss. The kids were all over the discussion of sticking one's fingers in one's nose, sucking thumbs and wiping noses on hands. Calling white blood cells soldiers in battle also drew a lot of interest. Having lots of magnifying glasses was crucial. So, overall, I think I did well. We'll see what Bug remembers when he gets home from school. And if hand washing in my house improves at all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

freeze

It's freezing. Literally. We're having our first below 32° night. If I had any plants alive outdoors I'd need to cover them. Fortunately I've already killed them all.

When I first moved south I spent the winter with the front of my big warm winter coat unzipped. The following winter I realized how silly that was and I invested in a lighter winter coat and left the big one at my parents'. The third winter I spent cold. Always cold. The following winter I realized how silly that was and I invested in a big warm winter coat. I've been cold ever since. My blood has thinned. But as cold as I usually feel after about 4pm, I still dash out to the mailbox without a coat.

Georgians have an odd habit of not wearing cold weather clothing. You regularly see someone out at their mailbox in shorts, or barefoot, and certainly not wearing a coat. My children run around the house barefoot. Neither one wears a sweatshirt or sweater regularly. When they were younger I'd dress them warmly if I was cold. "Here, put this on. I'm cold." Maybe most Southerners don't see the point when they'll be back indoors again soon. Maybe they've lost their senses.

candy

This year I suggested to the boys that we combine all the Halloween candy into one bowl. They hesitated, but agreed. Since Bug had gotten tired running up and down all the steep driveways in our neighborhood, he had significantly less candy. Pook could tell this by looking, so I knew it factored into his decision making but he was the first to agree.

Once the candy was dumped into one huge bowl, all the peanut products were removed to be taken to CD's office. That may have reduced the quantity by a full fourth. Then, since Grandma and Grandad were visiting, they were offered the bowl to help themselves. (The kids already had full mouths.) And, each day since, CD and I have freely taken from the pot after dinner in full view of the kids. They've been rationed since the first night and they are only eating it for afternoon snack and after dinner. I'm keeping it up high so that it'll be out of sight and out of mind the rest of the day, but it has been generously shared when we pull it out. I'm quite amazed that this method has worked.

We're in the routine of eating dessert every night. I'm not exactly sure how this happened. I know I've got a sweet tooth so I haven't exactly worked hard to stop the trend. We usually have cookies around and each have two after dinner. I did buy a huge bag of frozen mixed berries once. As much as we liked them, I believe they've been lost in the back of the outdoor freezer. Since the huge Halloween candy bowl is almost empty, this might be the time to bring that back. In theory I agree that dessert shouldn't be expected. In practice, I want a sweet after dinner.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Daddy Days

Last night CD was out late and mentioned to me that he would probably skip church. He was in the middle of a project anyway-- making a wooden bin for firewood in our driveway. I figured the kids would join me and he'd get some work done. But we woke up late- (by "woke up" I mean, we knew the kids were up and playing, but we hadn't acknowledged that it was time for us to get up yet) at 8:30 and church starts at 9:30 about 20 minutes from here. I leaped into the shower. CD had the choice of rushing to get the boys dressed and fed and then have time alone, or to take his time with them but have to work with "help". He, in turn, gave them the choice. I dressed, ate and left.

What were we thinking? Of course they chose to stay home. Sunday school with Mama or power tools with Daddy? Hurry to get dressed and eat fast, or hang out in PJ's and see if Daddy will turn on a DVD? Go to church with Mama or have a Daddy Day?

"Daddy Days" at my house are part of the regular week. I discovered that staying at home with a baby for five straight days suddenly made me the One-Who-Was-To-Know-The-Answers to the New-Pink-Crying-Eating-Pooping baby we now had. And so I found a nearby yoga class on Saturday mornings and I left. "Here's a bottle. He last ate an hour ago. I just diapered him. Love you both, bye." And as Pook learned his days of the week they went like this:
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Daddyday.

They'd hang out at home or they'd go to the library. CD learned how to answer and not-know-the-answer-because-who-really-does-anyway all those baby questions for himself. This routine worked until sports started taking over Saturday mornings. I'd begun going to a weekday yoga class by then and Pook was in a Parents Morning Out program two days a week. Getting away wasn't as important on Saturdays as it once had been. By then CD and I could even handle having the then-new Bug in the mix. Daddy Days began to simply mean The Weekends.

And if they include power tools, Mama and church have no chance.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

new friend for Pook and Bug

We have neighbors. While I knew we'd never be lucky enough to have little boys next door who were just the right ages (and good kids!) again, we're pretty happy. A family with a a teenage daughter and son, and a 6 year old daughter has moved in. I could tell that M, the youngest, was going to be a cool kid when I first met her. She was as dirty as she could have been and still been allowed indoors. I like that in a little girl. I knew she'd be a good match.

She came over and she and Bug played outdoors one afternoon, but it was while Pook was sick, so I didn't let them come inside. Today she came over and checked out the toy selection, played with some of our many instruments (doodled gently on the piano) and ran around with a pirate eye patch on for a while. Bug is happy as can be. Pook seems to be reserving judgment. She's in kindergarten and he's in second grade, so I understand the difference. However, she's just exactly halfway between the boys in age, having just turned six.

Her parents are friendly and seem like they'll be easy to get to know. They're encouraging their daughter to babysit for us (she wasn't sure if it was her kind of thing) since apparently "she likes to shop and needs her own money". I haven't met the son yet; he's away at a boy scout camping trip this weekend. It all feels good. I still miss our former neighbors, but I'm glad we have another chance.

Friday, November 14, 2008

turnabout

"I'm thinking. You'll have to be patient for a minute."

growing old without grace

I just came from the perfect yoga class. I jokingly call this class her "Old Folks Yoga" but I like to relax with it on Fridays. I've attended many of C's classes for years and always like them, but today's class worked every muscle I needed to work and flowed seamlessly for 90 minutes. Then at the end of the relaxation portion I was somewhat startled, leaving me to believe I had dozed off. I thanked her and told her that I wish I'd recorded the class to repeat at home.

Last summer when I flew with the boys to Indy, I injured a thigh muscle. I think we'd already missed our flight and were returning from a trip to a new terminal for the next available flight (which hadn't actually been available) to the original terminal. Point is, I was stressed. We boarded the airport shuttle train and were about the only passengers there. The boys wanted to ride without holding on, and I wanted them to think I was calm. So I laughed and showed them how to put their feet to "train surf". We traveled from A to B together, giggling. But then at B, the train filled up and there wasn't room to play. It was just starting to move when I saw that Bug had let go again and was going to fall onto a woman behind him. I lurched. My thigh muscle didn't. I didn't realize how badly I'd hurt it until that evening when I tried to sit on the floor. No go. And I haven't sat cross-legged since. So, I try to stretch it at Old Folks Yoga a bit at a time. It's coming along, but slowly.

What isn't coming along is my foot. I injured it the day of the lemonade stand in June. A week of pain which improved. Then quit improving. "Things take longer to heal as you age" I was told. I waited. At the three month mark I began to wonder if it was worth a trip to a doctors. I finally decided to get it checked out, on Sister MD's suggestion. They felt it. They X-rayed it. I thought nothing was broken and nothing was broken. I got a name of a podiatrist. She felt it. She mangled it a bit and looked puzzled. She got an ultrasound machine out and said "Ah ha." Now, "Ah ha" is a very good noise to hear from a doctor. I immediately trusted her. I even kept from screaming when she put TWO cortisone shots in my foot with needles that looked to be about four inches long. (I never found the exit wounds, but I'm sure they're there.) I even trusted her when I went back two weeks later (Nov. 5) for TWO MORE cortisone shots. (This time she distracted me by talking politics but the shots still hurt like &%$@ and were sore for about four days after.) Now I'm supposed to go in for YET TWO MORE shots on Tuesday.

There are two pinched nerves in my foot. But the treatment is worse than the previous condition. I can walk. I even hiked around Washington. What I can't do comfortably are are yoga and TV watching. (How 'bout that irony?) I can't stand on one foot. I can't twist my foot. I can't rest my foot on a coffee table. (I also can't bike, but that hasn't come up in months.) I haven't been to my regular yoga class in ages. I miss it. I need it. I think I'm a yoga addict. I'll even undergo these two more shots if she thinks I'll improve. But @*#% those needles are long.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

quotes from Bug

Do Dr. Seuss and Richard Scary know each other? Because they both write funny books.

***
I heard a bird band with all of them tweeting when I was in the bathroom with the window open this morning.

***
Learn something! Learn the star wars people character's names at home today Mama.

***
What if Michael Phelps didn't fit all his gold medals on his bulletin board?

***
I want to visit Africa, Japan, Mexico and Pittsburgh.

***
When can we go camping?
(Me: Ask your dad; I might not go next time.)
But then he would have to roast marshmallows for us and you wouldn't get any. That's why I always go. (He's been camping exactly once.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

sticks and stones

The stick was just inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. The stick. It was praised for "its all-purpose, no-cost, recreational qualities, noting its ability to serve either as raw material or an appendage transformed in myriad ways by a child's creativity." Plus, it has been around for... a while, and "longevity is a key criterion for getting into the hall.... Each toy must not only be widely recognized and foster learning, creativity or discovery through play, but also endure in popularity over generations." (For more, see http://www.museumofplay.com)
I can't decide how to read this. One the one hand, it sounds kind of cool. Yes, there should be a Toy Hall of Fame, and yes, Barbie and Mr. Potato Head should probably be members. And yes, a stick is probably the oldest toy ever. And yes, any kid can tell you that sticks are toys. (And rocks if what I find in the washer is any indication.) Plus, in 2005 they inducted a cardboard box (which I question also.) But, really. In time for Christmas? What are they gonna do now? Sell designer sticks as the Next Hot Toy?
If they're all out by the time you're looking for one, please let me know. I have some I could sell you. And clean rocks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

gift lists

I know what I'm going to give Daddy for Christmas! I'm gonna make a list. Don't look Daddy!
*
*
*
*
Daddy, how do you spell "coffee"?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bug's Pasta Restaurant



I hope you're as hungry as Pook and I were, because this restaurant has food you won't want to miss. Take a minute to read the menu and Bug will be by to take your order shortly.

Like only the best places in town, we were first offered dessert. This is how it should be and all four star restaurants should take note. We had our choice of chocolate cec or iscrem (came in vanilla or chocolate we were told) and even had the option of adding whipped cream, cherries and chocolate syrup if we had wished instead of the usual cone.

Following that lovely start, I suggested that we might need something a bit more substantial. At this point the restaurant became a Pasta Restaurant and the chef began to prepare a few favorite dishes. While I love pine nuts and basil, I passed by the posbged for the straight version of sbgd with meatballs. Pook went for the very cheesy macrony. We were both very pleased with our choices.

The atmosphere was quite pleasant. Those with fevers were allowed to eat on the sofa. The pile of orange and yellow markers macrony on the plate looked magnificent. The sbgd was perfectly al dente.

Our total tab came to 12. We did not order any drinks. Reservations were not needed Friday afternoon, but after this review they may become necessary.
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Friday, November 7, 2008

loud or kicking?

Pook used to be fine with shots - back in the days when he regularly watched me get allergy shots. I'd go in, twice a week for a while, and I'd get a shot, he'd get a sticker and we'd hang out to play before leaving. Then for some reason last flu shot season he decided to scream his little head off. While not having any real memory of previous shots, this gave Bug reason to freak out when it was his turn. It was not a good experience. I told the nurse I'd hold the loud ends while she held the kicking ends, but it was a pretty awful experience for all of us.

It is now flu shot season again. I had made appointments for Saturday and told them all about it. I reminded them that last year they decided that the worry was much worse than the shot, so that this year we could be prepared. Then they both went and got sick and we went to the doctor's a day early. Bug has ear infections in both ears; Pook doesn't have strep but does have some unidentified fever. Bug could still get his flu shot; Pook could not. "How about right now?" the nurse asked.

Pook lay down on the paper covered table, his ears bright with heat, relieved that he not only didn't need medicine but also wouldn't be "allowed" to get a flu shot. Bug looked at me with panic as the nurse walked in with her little shot tray. His pants were already off and his belly was exposed so I gave it a kiss and tried to distract him. "It will poke and then it will be done," I reminded him. He looked like he was just about to lose it when in came the nurse's hand and in went the needle and he took a sharp breath... but then relaxed. That was it.

"Going to the doctor's was boring. Except getting weighed. I weigh 47 lbs!"

sick and sicker

Kissed Pook goodnight last night and could tell immediately that he was burning up. Moms don't need thermometers to know when there will be no school in the morning. Then before Bug could know about Pook's illness, he came in this morning complaining that his ear hurt. Since he's hung onto this cold for more than two weeks now I'm not exactly surprised.

Pook was told he would be staying home. He mumbled but didn't have the energy to protest. Bug immediately began to feel worse. He needed to stay home too. Decided when Bug continued bouncing on my bed as he told me how badly he felt, that perhaps I should rephrase the question. "If your brother goes to school today, do you feel so sick that you want to lay on the sofa all day and not play?" "Uh, no." "Then you're going to school."

I phoned the Dr. to make an appointment for the ear infection, but sent that kid to school. The feverish one is at home on the sofa, and I wouldn't ordinarily take him to the doctor for just a fever. However... (1) it is a Friday (B) they were both supposed to get flu shots tomorrow morning at 9:30 and (Last) I'm going to be there anyway.... So Pook has an appointment too. Still seems weird. Do you drag the feverish child to his happy brother's appointment and not have him checked out? I'm not sure they'll give a sick kid a flu shot, but if they will, I shall hold out his pathetic leg and let them. Get it over with.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

mower story

I've come out. My parents have spent the last few days reading almost a year's worth of Pook and Bug. In exchange for having to be careful of what I say about them now, I've gotten some lovely feedback from them. And, my mom has pulled out some older writings of mine which she has saved. This one is from when I was a young, single teacher with my first house. If my mom can save all this, I'm justified in saving all my musings about my boys.


7/28/97
5:44 PM
Home Alone


As the fire department pulled away, I decided that I'm not to be trusted home alone. I don't really want school to start again, but perhaps I need supervision ... or someone to mow my lawn for me next time.

Trying to make this a productive day, I got out the lawnmower while it was a mere 90 degrees out (before it got hot). I filled the gas tank, which I just learned how to do this spring, and mowed all but a small, teeny tiny strip along the front. I then noticed that the mower was smoking.

Because it is an old mower, I decided the smoking was legal, but not good. I turned it off and left it near the carport, by the gas can. I considered the idea of finding out how to check the oil before resuming my mowing.

I completed a few other items on my TO DO list, and was sitting, eating my lunch, when the real estate agent showing my neighbor's house rang my doorbell. He ran frantically to grab the gas can, and pushed the mower further from the house. The flames were impressive enough, and smelled terrible. I got the kitchen fire extinguisher out, but really wasn't excited about getting close enough to use it. I wasn't sure if the gas tank would explode, or if the worst was done. I phoned the authorities for their advice, and they made the executive decision to pay me a visit.

I heard the sirens the entire distance from the station, knowing they were coming only to tell me it wasn't important enough for the call, and my little extinguisher was good enough. They grinned, but didn't laugh, while two of them chatted and one of them hosed the mower down quite thoroughly. One of the fire fighters (sounds exciting just using that term) knew the previous owner of my home, who worked at the same station before retiring. Apparently he never caught anything on fire....

The children across the street were very excited, and when the smoke cleared they came over to check it all out. The woman looking at the neighbor's house for sale commented that she was looking for a quiet neighborhood. The fire fighters suggested I buy a new mower. I think I just need a teenager to move in next door, and do it all for me.

So, all is now calm on my street.
I hope everyone is having an equally exciting day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

pillow talk

I always go in to the kids' bedroom, before I go to bed myself, and I tuck the blankets around them, pick up lovies from the floor, tell them that I love them and give them each a kiss. I doubt I've ever missed a night.

Some nights I stop by one of them and rest my cheek against his. "I'm sorry I yelled at you," I'm compelled to say. "You're a really good kid," I remind him.

Last night I went to bed after Obama had been proclaimed the winner at 11 pm. (I'm not a good night owl now that I have kids. Let me sleep in and I'll stay up happily!) I kissed Bug and pulled up his comforter. I sat by Pook. "Obama won," I said. "He's going to be our next president." His eyes sprung open wide and he lifted his head. "Really?!" he exclaimed. Then he put his head back on the pillow and returned to sleep.

This is why I talk to them in their sleep.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

make a difference

"If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito."

African proverb

Monday, November 3, 2008

362 days until Halloween

The boys insisted on designing a "fierce" pumpkin this year. I'd say they succeeded.




Here they are in their Halloween finery, about to collect way too much candy. These were among the simplest costumes we've ever made. Bug's scuba air tanks were 2-liter soda bottles strapped on his back with duct tape. His flippers were cut from foam. Pook and I used the hot glue gun together and he decorated his Sioux Indian costume with a bead pattern. He decided he didn't want a headband although we have some lovely feathers in our art box now. (He also changed his mind from Iroquois for some reason. Not sure what would have been different!)

Bug has now added to his idea list for next Halloween:

baseball player
dinosaur "WITH A MASK"
ghost
frog
mailbox
old lady



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pack it up

I just brushed off the clots of dirt from the cleats. Put a dozen baseballs in a crate in the garage. Wrapped the velcro around the shin guards. Used straight bleach on the white baseball pants. Wiped mud off the soccer ball. Put it all away.

We won't be doing any winter sports. My neighbors are all but filling two basketball teams of just Pook and Bug's ages, but I'm not even asking the boys if they're interested. I'm not.

Pook had his first home run. We ate pizza and a giant cookie with all the Lugnuts' names written in frosting. His coach gave him his trophy, along with the words, "To the boy who can have the most energy... when he wants to."

Bug made one of the only two goals at his last soccer game. Glad no one kept score. He ate hot dogs and cake and received his trophy at a team party.

Spring Baseball/Tee Ball will be here soon enough. In the winter we will rest.

Friday, October 31, 2008

sweets for the sweet

A meme for the sweet toothed among us. Timed just for Halloween. I'll be eating more than my share tonight.

"I have a very sweet tooth, you know. Would you like to see it? It's this one here. See the little daisy on it?"(The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles)
The instructions:
1) Copy this list into your site, including the instructions
2) Bold all of the sweets you’ve eaten (in my case, I've baked most of them!)
3) Cross out any of them that you’d never ever eat
4) Consider anything that is not bold or crossed out your “To Do” List.

It appears that I've had at least 62 of these and only crossed out six that I'm not interested in trying. I guess I have my work cut out for me.

A Daily Dose of Zen Sarcasm, provided links to descriptions of many of them but the meme came from Mary.

1. Red Velvet Cake- a southern thing- but I don't see the point of the food coloring
2. Princess Torte
3. Whoopie Pie
4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
- prefer it with ice cream
5. Beignet
6. Baklava
7. Black and white cookie
8. Seven Layer Bar- not fond of coconut
9. Fried Fruit pie- just got one last weekend at an apple festival
10. Kringle- these look good in the link
11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut
12. Scone with clotted cream- I'm surprised that I've never had one with clotted cream, but I haven't
13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy - this is just a cobbler in other words
14. halvah
15. Macaroons-I dislike coconut
16. Banana pudding with nilla wafers- I make a great version of this that is less sweet. It uses vanilla pudding and sour cream with the cookies and bananas.
17. Bubble tea- no, but I like tapioca
18. Dixie Cup19. Rice Krispie treats
20. Alfajores-they look familiar although I don't recognize the name
21. Blondies
22. Croquembouche I'm giving myself credit for having eaten enough profiteroles to have built one
23. Girl Scout cookies- I've had to search hard for a Girl Scout some years!
24. Moon cake- does not look appealing
25. Candy Apple- prefer caramel apples
26. Baked Alaska- I baked one once as a youth
27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
28. Nanaimo bar
29. Baba au rhum
30. King Cake
31. Sachertorte- I had this in Europe at the source
32. Pavlova
33. Tres Leches Cake
34. Trifle
35. Shoofly Pie
36. Key Lime Pie
37. Panna Cotta
38. New York Cheesecake
39. Napoleon / mille-feuille

40. Russian Tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cake
41. Anzac biscuits - don't like coconut
42. Pizzelle
43. Kolache
44. Buckeyes- I don't eat peanut products
45. Malasadas
46. Moon Pie
47. Dutch baby/German Pancakes
48. Boston Cream Pie
49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies
- I have finally decided I don't like them much after they've been cooked. But I don't like cookie dough ice cream.
50. Pralines
51. Gooey butter cake
52. Rusks/Zweibacks
53. Daifuku -I didn't like red bean ice cream and this sounds too similar
54. Green tea cake or cookies- no, but I liked Green Tea Ice Cream
55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop- why bother? I can bake a great cupcake at home.
56. Crème brûlée

57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake)-blech. Give me my candy straight up please. Sugar I like, grease I don't.
58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting

59. Jelly Roll

60. Pop Tarts
61. Charlotte Russe
62. An “upside down” dessert- Pook chose pineapple upside down for his last birthday
63. Hummingbird Cake- I make a great one with cream cheese frosting....
64. Jell-O from a mold- unless it was spiked it isn't worth it
65. Black forest cake
66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)- not that I wouldn't, but actual apple pie seems better
67. Kulfi
68. Linzer torte

69. Churro
70. Stollen
71. Angel Food Cake- my birthday regular
72. Mincemeat pie
73. Concha
74. Opera Cake
75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail- maybe, hard to tell one pastry from another
76. Pain au chocolat -anytime I can
77. A piece of Gingerbread House- look! We usually bake one at Christmas, so when the kids asked to make a haunted house I realized it could only simplify December. Isn't the lollipop moon cool? Bug's idea. Pook practiced with a frosting tip and made lots of tombstones that read RIP and dates. Fun project. Hard to make since it didn't have right angles or symmetry.

78. Cassata
79. Cannoli
80. Rainbow cookies
81. Religieuse- if I can count a regular eclair, yes
82. Petits fours
83. Chocolate Souffle
84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
85. Rugelach
86. Hamenstashen- didn't know it's name, but yes
87. Homemade marshmallows - Alton Brown makes me want to try making them
88. Rigo Janci/Hungarian Chocolate Cake
89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc) maybe bakers chose the peanut ones and I've avoided them.
90. Divinity
91. Coke or Cola cake - sounds like a southern thing, but I've never had any
92. Gateau Basque
93. S’mores
94. Figgy Pudding
95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
96. Joe Froggers-looks like a molasses cookie I love
97. Sables
98. Millionaire’s Shortbread- I like shortbread if that counts
99. Animal crackers- uh, yeah. The right brand can be great; the wrong brand can taste like cardboard.
100. Basbousa

They leave out Brownies from the list. I like them best about half baked and gooey.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

the great Pacific northwest

I've been asked to tell about our Vacation Without Kids. I got so busy catching up when we came home that I didn't get back to blogging right away, and then the moment seemed to have passed. But I will post a few photos and tell a bit about it now.

We flew to Seattle and hung out two evenings there, one with CD's cousin at the restaurant he owns. Great Thai food. He lives in a houseboat too. I was fascinated with the lack of Stuff. There just wasn't room for much. He has a 5 yr. old and a part time resident 16 yr. old and the four of them manage to live in about 400 square feet.

We then crossed on the Bainbridge ferry and drove around US 101 North through Port Angeles. We stopped at two wineries (plan was for four, but at 2pm, two is all I could have handled!). We arrived at Lake Quinault just at dusk. This is the view from our room:

The Lodge is across the street from old growth rainforest and lots of hiking. They'd had a tornado last winter that left lots of trees down. Amazing to see how old they were. We took a lot of photos of Big Trees and Tall Trees:

We spent one day at the coast, at and around Ruby Beach, and ate dinner at Kalaloch Lodge while we watched the sun set:

We stayed at the Lake Quinault Lodge for five nights. They had a massive fireplace, lots of leather sofas, and good (if pricy) food. We hiked, read, worked on a shared jigsaw puzzle, and met some other travelers. We went to sleep on Eastern time and woke to Pacific time. We had primarily dry days, a few with sun and a few with mild showers, all in the 60 degree range.

The last day we continued our way around US 101 through Olympia. We visited a salmon ladder and ate well in town, the night of our actual 10th anniversary.

We returned to Seattle to stay near the airport the last night, preparing for the long flight back to Atlanta.

I missed my babies, but we needed the whole week. It took several days just to remember how to relax. We enjoyed a different pace of travel without children. We could talk in full sentences and could enjoy each others company. We phoned home enough to know that all was well in our absence. Coming home wore me out (3 hr. time change!) but the trip was well worth it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

on the phone

"Who was on the phone, Mama?"
"It was just charity."

"Who was on the phone, Mama?"
"That was politics."

"You talk to your friends, Charity and Politics a lot, Mama."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

gardenia


I left out one living member of my garden. Can you believe my gardenia bloomed in October? Three perfect blossoms. And even though I have a terrible cold, I can still smell them.

awake, perchance to dream

Bug was bouncing out of bed last night. The fourth time:

"I'm having a bad dream."
"Bug, you can't have a bad dream until you fall asleep. Why don't you dream about the zoo?"
"I'm just not at that page yet Mama."

Monday, October 27, 2008

dedicated to those that live

Not all my plants are dead. So, to be fair, I dedicate this post to those that live. Even if they're barely making it.

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Shasta daisies: These were new this year but must have put their growth underground. We'll see if they come back in the spring.

purple cone flowers: These looked good this year. I may need to dig some up when they sprout to relocate a few. The yellow cone flowers are still alive but haven't fared well. They were new in the spring and probably needed more tender care than they were given. Finches enjoyed the seed heads.



hostas:
I add more each spring and I see three here, smothered in magnolia leaves. Don't get me started on those non-composting leathery leaves....

variegated vinca: This one is still alive when no other ground cover did much this summer. That is the sign of a "keeper".


lamb's ear: It seems to do well wherever it is. I've added it to several locations, but unfortunately it is behind all the cone flowers in the front. A major move is needed for a lot of the plants in this area.


purple heart:
Like the lamb's ear, it seems like it lives in the most unlikely of locations. I can't find it in the off season to move it to other areas so I might need to transplant some in the spring when it comes back. It seems like it could be a good filler in many locations.

beauty berry: I've been disappointed in this bush. I searched for it for years and was so excited to plant it, but it hasn't lived up to my expectations.

lantana: It loves dry heat and looks great this year. It is almost too big to be in this location although we just moved it here a few years ago thinking it'd be better up against the house. I can't see it and all of it's butterflies from indoors anymore, and I miss that. Additionally, the Chinese maple is hidden by it and loses it's umph. I'll have to decide if the two are compatible in this location.



day lilies: They did their stuff well and could stand to be divided.


iris:
I love these native blue flowers. The did well and I'd love to spread them around.


Chinese maple: This is a beautiful tree which will be turning red soon. I wish it didn't blend into the huge lantanas so much. I will consider the idea of pruning lower branches.


oak leaf hydrangea: It is turning red in the fall weather and will grow into a lovely bush if it ever has enough water to grow.


chrysanthemums: These are transplanted each winter from pots I use to decorate at Halloween.

I have succumbed to my eternal gardening optimism. I just bought some beautiful purple-blue asters and additional yellow chrysanthemums. They should brighten up the yard-- since fall needs all the help it can get, obviously.

Friday, October 24, 2008

dead or alive

I had so much fun with my yard in the spring. Less so in the summer. What with no rain and water restrictions the soil got so dry that weeds couldn't be pulled out without tools and considerable effort. We were allowed to water on a schedule, from a hose only- no sprinklers. That meant standing around letting the mosquitoes gorge themselves on my ankles, so nothing much ever got watered. What I'd tended so frequently, as I puttered around watching the boys play, soon became crowded with weeds and limp or brown from the heat. I do that every summer. While I love seeing what can happen when a garden is tended with love (such as at Faire Garden), in the fall I have this:



grass: Ha Ha Ha! We grow dust and straw. The positioning of the basketball hoop does not help.



annuals:
A joke. I found one tiny bloom to prove that they aren't quite dead. No water, no attention, no love.





tomatoes:
They must have been planted only for our amusement. We've eaten less than a dozen cherry tomatoes and even fewer of the others. This planter feeds the chipmunks- even my gargoyle doesn't scare them off.













cantaloupe: There is no time for our only fruit I'm afraid. Cooler weather will kill it before it grows and ripens. I wish we'd planted cucumbers, but they'd probably be dead too. I'm an optimist today, I know.









Swiss chard:
The leaves are about two inches long. They look like seedlings but have been around since early early spring.











purple hyacinth bean vine: They grew ok but the leaves are eaten full of holes.




gourd:
The sprawling vine grew from our compost heap. I think it was the best thing we grew this year. Aren't the colors and shape wonderful?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

costume party

The agonizing decision about what to wear for Halloween began in early October. That is, early October 2007. I'd just forbidden Bug to change his mind again about costumes any more, so he started planning for this year instead. He would come up with two or three ideas each day. I assumed it'd taper off as Christmas took over his brain, but he seemed to have room to compartmentalize and continued the planning.

Just a few of the many ideas:
penguin
scuba diver
police
space man
mummy

Each time my brain would start to plan. Could I make that? What would I use? Should I distract him and see if he'll come up with something easier? I enjoy making costumes and feel like that's a huge part of the fun. Buying something that tears and can't be worn as dress ups seems a waste. And I'm way too cheap to buy expensive costumes yearly. My parents pulled out the sewing machine and paper mache for me and I continue the tradition. There is nothing I can't do with a hot glue gun!

Pook had waited until the season was upon us last year and then decided to be a simple bat. Not Batman and not Dracula. Just a bat. I found some stretchy black fabric that wouldn't ravel and I cut and sewed (yes, sewed) a simple pair of wings. He put on black clothes and an eye mask and looked great.

Bug finally settled on trick-or-treating as a "Marching Band Guy". I put him in a red sweatshirt on which I'd hot glued gold buttons and trim for epaulets, and made a felt and cardboard hat. The year before Pook was a skeleton- painted on black sweats. According to Sister MD we painted the pelvis bones backwards, but to us lay-people it looked awesome. Sweats are usually the base of our costumes. I always think they'll wear them as regular (but fun) clothes or sleep in them, but they never do.

This time of October is now You-can-no-longer-change-your-mind season on costumes. Pook is settled and wants to be an Iroquois Indian. Go Social Studies Discovery class! He isn't looking at anything too fancy or too hard. He can do most of it himself after a trip to the craft store. My mom bought some suede cloth for him while she was here and we cut a diamond for his head. He'll decorate it with beads. We'll have to discuss feathers on a headband. He hasn't shown me a picture of what he wants exactly, so I'm guessing a bit.

Bug wavered forever between Space Guy (he never just calls it "astronaut") and Scuba Diver. I decided to push for the diver. We've got the snorkeling gear from summer and air tanks will be easy to fashion, as will flippers to cover his shoes. I wasn't sure how authentic he'd want a wet suit, but he started dressing up independently and used sweats so I think they'll do fine for the real thing too. I'll try to get photos of them in their costumes to share.

Just as we closed the door to new ideas for this year, they began planning for 2009. Bug has already proposed being a mailbox next year. Expect an idea a week until next Halloween comes around.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I can be there for you

We're home from our trip. CD and I had a fabulous week. Can't remember being so relaxed. Done with that though....

I headed out this evening with the kids and got distracted at a traffic light, paying more attention to the light as it turned green than to the driver in front of me who hadn't started to drive yet. I hit his car and caused a good sized crack in the fiberglass bumper. My car was fine (as were all the participants).

My insurance company wanted me to get the police involved-- which I had wanted to avoid. They showed up quickly however- a car with sirens as well as two motorcycles. The kids were thrilled. After all the paperwork was completed and the other car was sent on his way, the police invited the boys to get out of the car to say hi. One of the guys pulled out police badge stickers and asked the kids if they wanted to become police. As excited as Bug was feeling, he let Pook do the talking. Then the guy had them hold up their right hands (a little help to figure that out) and take an oath to be good kids and follow my directions, clean their rooms, etc. He actually got me to laugh, which I was desperately needing at that point.

On the way home Bug was mulling it over again and announced to me, "I really want to be a police when I grow up now. I can ride a motorcycle and when you have a accident I can be there for you."

Yes, babe. You can be there for me.

Friday, October 3, 2008

grandparents

For our vacation, my mom is flying down on Friday, my dad not until Sunday. That leaves the sports to my mom to get organized. Soccer game Saturday morning, baseball practice in the afternoon and baseball game on Sunday. I think the kids know their routines so well they can do them alone, but my mom wants it all written out. I'm working to get them rides to school so my parents only have to deal with pickups. We've been walking to get Pook in the afternoons so if the great fall weather continues it will simplify the driving even more.

I hadn't realized how little my mom drives these days. She doesn't mind the daily routines at her home, but in a strange car in a strange city I can tell she's anxious. Her vision isn't great and I think she's always turned the voluntary driving over to my dad. I makes me realize that they're aging. I hope my father will be able to relinquish the keys when he needs to. I'm not optimistic.

I've noticed that the grandparent babysitting window is narrow. I had children pretty late and I think if I had babies or toddlers now, it'd be too much for them. I barely made it in. CD was the youngest of three and his parents were older than traditional parents in the 60's, so they're old enough now to no longer be comfortable babysitting ours. As the next oldest cousin (now age 10) has grown up, their window has shifted. They've watched him for a week at a time since he was a baby, but ours have been at the more difficult stages just younger than him and have missed out. There's also the complication of having two. In any case, they don't feel like they can handle watching our boys for any extended time.

I never felt like I knew my grandparents very well and I'd love for my boys to have that opportunity. While the idea of free babysitting is fabulous, I'd love for the kids to be able to see their grandparents more often for simple short visits and overnights because the relationship between kids and grandparents is different when the parents are out of the picture. I always hoped my parents would live near us after retirement. Now I know it isn't going to ever happen. They're a long days drive or a flight away. CD's are only four hours by car, but still too far. We have visits with them all, often, but it can't be often enough.

We'll all need to make sure we foster that relationship while we still can. I realize that my parents have stories. My father claims to have delivered his whole paper route without putting his hands on his bike handlebars. My mom told about swimming in an old quarry. CD's mom played softball when she was younger. His dad brought up the shocking idea to my children that there had been no rubber soled shoes when he was young. They wore brown leather lace up shoes. These are the stories I need to hear too so I can help keep them around.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

survey says:

When you accidentally buy a platter of "baked-in-store" sticky buns because they smelled good and because you were grocery shopping at lunchtime on an empty stomach and because this is what you crave when you're anxious and you're about to leave your kids for a week, and you eat "a portion" of them but not the whole thing (because you have to prove that you do have some willpower), do you

A: fess up and let the kids eat them for an afternoon snack
B: hide them until morning and try to avoid anyone noticing that they're partially eaten
C: hide the whole package in the outdoor freezer where no one will ever know about them and you can finish them at other moments of anxiety

Your opinion matters.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

vacation without the kids

You read right. We are leaving for a vacation without the kids. Our tenth wedding anniversary is coming up and my parents offered, years ago, to watch the kids for a week to let us celebrate. They will probably wish I'd forgotten the offer; I'm sure they'll be wiped out.

We debated for a long time about where to go. I had pretty simple requests. I wanted to go where I could sit peacefully reading a book and looking at beautiful scenery. I also wanted to go far enough from home that no one would ask us to come back. If there was a minor emergency they'd just deal with it. Distance does that. The Caribbean sounded good until we realized it was hurricane season. Out of the country maybe if we had deeper pockets and current passports. Not too cold please, I requested.

We settled on a place in the Olympic peninsula of Washington state that we visited for our first trip together many years ago. We'll have some nearby hiking and some city touristing in Seattle and maybe stop at a winery. We haven't done much planning. We got two places to stay and rented a car. I got some maps of the area. We visited in the summer, so I know we'll have cooler and maybe wetter weather, but we'll cope.

You won't see any posts next week. I hope to have better things to do than be online!

Monday, September 29, 2008

need any help?

"I'm not gonna be your kid anymore!"

What did I do to deserve that? I offered to help Bug with his "homework". I can't wait until he has real work that he truly needs help to do. He won't get near the concept. I feel like we're still at the toddler stage, "Do 'self!"

He's only four. At school he made a whole page of the number 2, all backwards. He brought home an empty page to practice at home. Am I wrong to want to assist a bit? I've got all sorts of rhymes and hints to help kids remember how to draw letters and numbers, write color words, and phone numbers. This is what I do did. Am I supposed to just sit back now and let the school teach him without my involvement?

I think Bug may prefer to go it alone and then be angry that I haven't helped him. But it is a fragile situation. Pook has resisted now and then and I've seen what a tenuous hold a parent has. Piss them off and they'll avoid ever learning from you again. "What did you do at school today?" "Nothing." "Need any help with that?" "No."

My father was a math professor. I would never allow him to help me with homework. He'd look at my assignment and start his sentence with "Well, I wouldn't do it that way. It'd be a lot more logical if you...." Bye, Dad. I closed him out.

I have a couple of years to figure out how to approach Bug. Trial by fire.

Friday, September 26, 2008

kthump

I was too preoccupied watching a Seattle based medical drama to check it out. I felt a bit guilty when I went into the boys' room later to kiss them goodnight and I stepped on Bug. He mumbled a bit as I tried to scoop him up in the dark and flop him back into bed. I pulled up a light blanket for him. Pook was already covered. He stays under the sheets much better than Bug. (Let me rephrase that: Pook stays under the covers. Bug does not.) I woke at 3 am and was cold. To make amends with Bug, I went into their room and covered him again.

I just pulled out their jammies with long pants this week and put light blankets on all the beds. We've had the windows open and it is starting to get cool overnight. Early September is sweaty, buggy summer but we've finally reached fall. October in Atlanta is beautiful, cool and crisp. It was 55° when I looked this morning.

Maybe the boy needs a sleeper already. Once it really cools off and we turn on the heat they'll be wearing sleepers but it will probably be warmer in the house than it is now. I like having the windows open and blankets on, but the key word there is 'on'. Pook started using his blankets around age four, so I'm hoping it'll happen soon. Unfortunately, Bug moves around a lot more at night so I may be too optimistic. Hence, the kthump I sometimes hear at night!