Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Instead of a separate blog entry about everything going on, I think I will sign off for the next few days and leave you with the family Christmas letter. A few of you may find the same thing arriving in your mailboxes if we get around to actually sending them. The rest of you? I don't have your addresses.

We have not had any more children since we last wrote, which is a relief to us, but a blow to those of our friends and family counting on us to keep Social Security solvent in their lifetimes. This is not to suggest that we do not take comfort and joy in our offspring — we do — yet that is not to suggest that we have not investigated whether it is illegal to auction off children on EbayUSA (it is) or EbayKazakhstan (it isn’t).

Justin is a still a lawyer and still cannot describe what he does — business law, civil litigation, since you asked — in such a fashion as to give an interesting answer at parties to the question, “What do you?” So, if the interrogator persists, he makes do with telling fabulous lies about his fictional counter-terrorism law practice (“And I said, ‘Subpoena? We don’t need no stinkin’ subpoena.’ And then the SEALs took him out.”).

According to testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jordana manages our three-child horde in a ruthless fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan. With remarkable dexterity and serenity — remarkable for someone reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, anyway — she keeps them clothed, fed, bathed, and non-critically injured. Indeed, it has been almost twelve months since we last visited the emergency room, a new personal best since we gave up drug dealing and its attendant turf wars. Jordana recently participated in a neighborhood art show. She offered for sale several water colors, magic wands, and toy swords (all handcrafted by fair trade labor and certified organic, rest assured). The wands and swords sold but the water colors didn’t, indicating that the market niche for violence and superstition may be underserved. So, there is hope, after all.

The Boy (six) is in a wonderful “alternative kindergarten” — a phrase which here has the meaning, “hippie German school” — where even the vegan children seem happy, if malnourished, and some of the children, and all of the faculty, really do believe in gnomes and fairies. Imaginative and imitative play are strongly encouraged there, although it must be said that, when The Boy insisted on leading the children playing “pirates” to pillage the children playing “house,” the teacher gently “re-directed” his play. He will begin first grade next year, because the school no longer offers leaving home to follow Phish as an alternative. His most endearing, annoying, and dangerous trait is persistent inquisitiveness. Recently, he asked, “What’s a virgin?” His father, thinking himself very clever, answered that a virgin is a woman who is not married and that virgins don’t normally have babies, which is why it’s miraculous when they do. Whereupon, The Boy asked, “Is Jesus the only miracle baby?” and his father answered — now somewhat apprehensively — “As far as I know.” To which The Boy replied, “What about Devin?” to which his father could only utter a dreadful “Huh?” in response. “Devin must be a miracle baby too. His mom’s not married.” Oh, the tangled webs we weave, when we practice to deceive.

The Middle Girl (three) holds court at home. She has been described by those who love her as “imperious,” “intemperate,” and “maniacal.” Those who meet her are not surprised to learn that she is just thirty generations removed from her mother’s Danish Viking ancestors. In another age, she might have terrorized the English seaside. Today, she is content to terrorize her family, in particular, her brother. Yet, just when her blue eyes dangerously gleam with vestigial memories of burning coastal villages, she suddenly dons fairy wings, or takes a baby doll in her arms, and become the very image of domestic tranquility. They say it is better to be loved, but sufficient to be feared. The Middle Girl is both.

To our eternal sorrow, The Toddler Girl (one) learned to walk. She has left the ESE (eat-sleep-excrete) stage and entered toddlerhood (a word which here has the meaning, “that period of childhood development that is most costly in terms of lost, broken, and destroyed personal property and medical bills”). Her physical and mental development appear to be occurring at a normal pace, with the exception of her sense of self-preservation, which does not appear to have developed at all. She was born last November with what appeared to be a Hindu caste mark on her forehead. After consulting with various physicians, theologians, ethicists, and consultants, we concluded that she could, nevertheless, be raised in the Christian religion. It turns out that the mark was actually a fairly common, and harmless, birthmark called a hemangioma that grows rapidly for about six months after birth into an unattractive, prominent red bump, but then gradually shrinks away over the next five or six years. Beatrix’s birthmark has been a powerful catalyst for activism in our family. We have joined a support group for people who constantly answer the question, “What’s the giant red bump on your baby’s forehead? Did you hit her over the head with something?”; we have designed a ribbon to be worn by celebrity spokesperson’s to raise awareness; and we are forming a lobbying group to seek federal legislation outlawing hemangiomas. Please call your senator.

We are always reminded this time of year just what terrible correspondents we are. We don’t really deserve the families we were born into or the kind friends we’ve made, and our failure of correspondence only tips the balance further against us. But, despite the utter lack of any evidence corroborating our self-serving testimony, and our use of a shamelessly mail-merged form letter to contact you — despite all of that, we assert, contend, and aver that the thought of you, your life, and your loved ones has crossed our minds more than a few times during the past twelve months, even if our paths have not, and we have hoped that you and yours are happy, healthy, and wise. As we do now.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Second Annual Axis of Weevil Ramahannuchristmakwanzavus <a href="">Thursday Three</a>

1. Are you an early bird in the prep for the holidays, and if so, how early do you start?

I try to start early and I generally get my shopping for the kidlets out of the way well before December. If I'm organized enough to jot things down during the year, I might get my husband's presents before December. After trying to get everyone in my husband's family to to tell me what they want, which they never do, I have a mad scramble to find something -- which usually means CDs, gift certificates or coffee. I hate that.

2. If you decorate your house, when do the decorations go up, and what are they?

We generally decorate the house the day after Thanksgiving, though some things take a bit longer. We have a tree in the living room -- fake, though I think we might go back to real next year -- stockings on the mantle, various little bobeche decorations on the chandeliers. We put garland on the stair rail -- this year with little colored (blech) lights. Outside we put a wreath on the door and garland with little colored (blech) lights and we hung a Moravian star in our attic window. Next year, I think I might hang wreaths in all the front windows.

3. Do you go out of your way to find special, well-thought-out presents, or are you so harried and confused that gift cards make more sense?

I really would like to buy presents that are meaningful, beautiful and that the people will either cherish forever or use up in happy memories -- or at least something the recipient really wants. I think I do well for my immediate family, but since I don't know my inlaws *that* well and they never tell me anything they want, give me any hints and don't want handmade stuff or paintings, I tend to fail miserably and am probably known behind my back as the giver of crummy gifts. No, they are really too polite to say it. So a little of both, I guess.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Marc has questions in the comments below.

1. Does your husband share in your sentiments, or do you need to "gently correct" him while he is driving and commits a non-signal offense?

My husband was probably the person most responsible for teaching me to drive (before he was my husband though) and taught me to always use my turn signals even when no one is around. He always uses his signals.

2. Do you (and he?) find yourselves extra careful in referring to other drivers and the particular names you use, with little ears in your vehicle?

I don't talk outloud to myself while driving or at any other time. The voices in my head stay in my head. However, the little people in the backseat have learned to talk to other drivers and call them nitwits and say things like, "Hurry uo, buddy!" from somewhere. I'm not saying where, but it wasn't from me.

3. Have you been involved in an accident as a result of a non-signal offense?

I don't think Justin has been in any accidents. I haven't been in any real ones, but the one time I got bumped, lack of turn signals was, in fact, involved. Though so was being an idiot. I was driving on a one way road in the left lane, going straight. The fellow in the right lane decided to turn left in front of my car without signalling or anything intelligent like waiting until he was in the proper lane to turn. I stopped and all he did was bump a bit of trim off.

And there you have it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Driving Lessons

It seems to me that there are a few things that today's drivers seem to have missed in their driving lessons.

First, turn signals. Use them. It would be nice to know what the other drivers are doing. Although I know that sometimes using a turn signal marks you as the person to cut off, it is generally nice to have some notion of what the driver in another car is about to do. And if you see someone trying to merge lanes and using their signals -- don't cut them off. They deserve a reward. I admit to being a bit obsessive about the subject and I use my turn signal in deserted parking lots -- better to keep the habit up at all times, I say, than to let it lapse.

Second, when it is rainy and grey outside, turn on your headlights. Yes, during the day time the world is light enough for you to see without them, but it is helpful to others if they can see you.

Third, mirrors are nice. They help you see behind you, but they are not a replacement for turning your head. Check your blindspots when merging lanes and do not back up using only your mirrors. Especially, do not back up using only your mirrors while driving one handed and talking on a cell phone in a busy parking garage with tight spaces.

Follow these simple rules and driving will go better for all of us.

What's That Stench?

For The Toddler Girl (whom her older siblings inform me can no longer be called a baby) the past week could be summed up as such -- vomit in my sleep and all over the floor, leaky diarrhea diapers, nothing, more diarrhea, vomit all over Mom at the library, more diarrhea, don't sleep all night, even more diarrhea. I took her to the doctor yesterday and other than the obvious stomach bug, she seems fine, well-hydrated and without other health problems. Lucky us!

Today seems good. We haven't had any foul-smelling emissions as of yet. And thanks to the previous night's complete lack of sleep, last night I fell asleep at 9 and for once actually feel rested.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Vacation for Whom?

My son has the next two weeks off from school. He almost cried when he found out. He loves school and his teachers and friends. Of course, I'm also slightly tempted to cry. Now every errand I run will involve three children and bickering levels will be heightened. I'm going to make a concerted effort to do lots of fun stuff during until school starts again. And first off? Cookie baking, I think.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ready For Summer?

My son longs for snow and wishes we could travel to my parents' home in Ohio to share in some of their cold, white bounty. On the other hand, I think he really wants it to be warm and sunny.

Why? For the last two days he's been singing the Fine Young Cannibals lyrics "Never had a holiday in the tropical sun..." and today he asked if he could go shoot a water pistol in the backyard. The Viking Ice Girl (also known as The Middle Girl) promptly asked if we could get out the wading pool.

It may not be snowing and the sun has come out, but it is only in the forties and it is December. Reason, it seems, does not prevail around here at all times.

And no, we didn't get out either the water guns or the wading pool.


Christmas shopping is finished. I think. Even stocking stuff. Let me see...

My husband is getting a hfsjfbfi and a hihfdkjs and one fhskdhs. As if I'd let him see what's he is getting before hand. Hah!

The Boy gets a toy castle (like a dollhouse for boys), some knights, a book about space and a huge package of colored pencils.

The Middle Girl is getting a dollhouse, dolls, a book about fairies, and something else that slips my mind.

The Baby Girl is getting tights, slippers, and um...well all the milk she can drink at the Mommy milk bar...there might be another present in there for her, but I didn't really have bright ideas.

I got presents for my husband's grandparents, parents, siblings and their kids. Many of these things I got way back in June or so, when I found them on sale. It does make this time of year simpler. At this point in the season, I'm always rather glad that my family doesn't celebrate Christmas. The Boy's class got a joint gift for his teachers and I gave the kids' Sunday School teachers notecards from my supply of notecards with my paintings on them. I got something for my husband's assistant and for his office Christmas party.

Now comes the fun part. Wrapping! AAAAAUUUGH!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My Daughter the Nipple Nazi

The Middle Girl has adopted a family at church as her second family. Usually they sit right in front of us and she usually sits with them -- the parents and their three teenage daughters. The family is very sweet to The Middle Girl; Miss Ann always brings a snack for her and the girls will even take her to the bathroom when the need arises. It's a nice arrangement as far as I'm concerned.

Last Sunday, after services, Miss Ann (the mom) leaned back to tell me that one thing she loves about my daughter is how she always makes them laugh. Then she told me that The Middle Girl had crawled into the lap of one of the teenagers, patted her on the chest and said, "Why do you have those things? You don't have a baby and need to nurse it yet."

I'm glad she knows how important breastfeeding is, but I guess we haven't really explained that those "things" don't just appear at baby feeding time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

It's A Miracle!

"Mom, what's a virgin?"

"Hrm, um..."

"In Silent Night it says 'Round yon virgin.' What's that mean?"

The whole family was in the car headed off to a Bible study and lunch at someone's house. It wasn't quite the time when I wanted to sit down and discuss all those things, if you know what I mean. My husband told The Boy that a virgin was a woman who wasn't married.

We explained that Mary wasn't married to Joseph yet and normally she wouldn't have been able to have a baby, but God put Jesus in her belly and so his birth to a virgin woman was miraculous and celebrated as a miracle.

I should have known there would be more questions coming. I should have become especially nervous when the next question popped out of the backseat.

"Is Jesus the only miracle baby?"

"Yes, as far as we know. He's the only one mentioned in the Bible."

"But what about Devin?"


"Devin, our neighbor. What about him? He must be a miracle. His mom's not married."

"Um, well look at those Christmas lights and doesn't that fried chicken smell delicious?

Who taught this kid to reason anyway? This thinking has got to stop and I have got to come up with some better answers.

Christmas Kitsch

Something tells me that the fact that this "lights up" and "plays the melody of Silent Night" would not really improve it at all.

The Best Toys

Chris of The Big Yellow House has a post at DotMoms about the best toys and her list rings so true. Blocks, Legos, pretend play stuff, those are the things that last and get the most play time. They don't the bling-bling excitement that the noisy toys have and are therefore often not given by my kids' granparents, who want to see the instant excitement that noise brings. A few things that didn't make Chris's list, but that get a lot of play time around here are puzzles and toys to ride on. We let the kids ride on some things in the house and my children seem to take great joy in circling the kitchen table chasing each other on foot pushed riding toys I could have sworn they wouldn't fit by now.

But my son's current great love in life is Legos. He inherited all of his dad's, which my mother-in-law had saved and he and my husband could spend hours together building and playing with those little plastic bricks of impending doom for barefeet.

And now, let me say that The Boy thinks he has the most awesome Aunt Mimi (not her real name) in the world.


Nobody does Viking ships (even in miniature) better than the Danes.

Behind Schedule

But, phew! Finished and delivered. It feels good to have that completed.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Boring, Mudane, Ordinary?

Dean has the Carnival for you! It is a Carnival devoted to the ordinary, every day and all the little things.

Dinner Parties

Yesterday sure was busy. I cleaned like a mad woman and although we'd moved almost every toy out of the downstairs for the occasion, I still was constantly picking up plastic bowls, dish towels and things like that.

I really didn't know how it was going to all come together, but it did. The house was clean. We had chairs for everyone and lots of food. We served buffet-style with a line snaking from the dining room around the counters of the kitchen. We'd cleaned off all the kitchen counters for serving and I sure wish we didn't have to put anything back on them, they look so nice. However, I also like having a toaster oven and some of the things that went into hiding.

Knowing now that we can seat almost 40 people for a meal makes me feel pretty confident we could easily have an appetizer stand-up sort of party for 50-60 in our house. I'm not sure what I will do with that information, since I rarely entertain on a large scale, but if the occasion arises, I'll keep it in mind.

One of our guests last night ask if I was bothered having so many people in my house at once. Honestly, the answer is no. I freak out a bit for the 24 hours before hand, but having a big gathering is fun as long as everyone goes away after a few hours. I also love that entertaining requires me to clean house. Otherwise this place can get pretty bad. There's nothing like the impending arrival of guests to make one finish some of those little things that never seem to get done.

I must add though that I had two ladies who came in the afternoon to help me set up, vaccum and all that stuff. Without them and without Justin, who got the turkey ready to stick in the oven before he went to work and who came home early to help do all the little necessary tasks, I'm not sure it would have been half so successful. Always take any help that is offered -- a lesson it took me a long time and three children to learn!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Before Tomorrow

Tomorrow night we are hosting the entree part of our church's progressive dinner. I don't have to cook the whole meal, fortunately, but I do have to roast a turkey, make a side dish, clean house and figure out how to seat about 50 people in my house. I can easily find room around our two big tables for 20-25 and I borrowed a table from our church building to seat another 6 or so. Where the rest will go is a good question.

Another good question is how will I keep my children from destroying the house while I clean it. I think finding seats for 50 will be easier.

Also by tomorrow, I need to get three swords and three fairy wands completed. I'm on my way, but not sure about my chances of success. I've got the padded blades for the swords done and their covers stitched. I'm in the process of putting a finish on the wooden parts, and once that's done, gluing the pieces together isn't hard, but I stil need to sew up the heads for three wands. I usually only manage one per night, so we'll see.

I always let too much creep up on me at once. I'm not good at spacing out my projects.

Further Adventures in Shopping

I went to Home Depot yesterday. They had one cashier and the self-checkout lanes open. This close to Christmas, that meant that the lines were totally crazy and although I tend to never use self-check at Home Depot, because I hate it, it was the shorter of the two lines.

Self-checkout lanes have been around for a while now. By now, I expect everyone to have tried them at least once and to understand the basic rules. And the first rule is -- ONE LINE. You do not wait for individual self-check registers. You wait in one line until a unit is free.

You should especially not push in front of a woman with a chattering three year old, a one year trying to climb out of the cart and screaming, who only has five things. Not if you don't want to make her very cranky. And trust me, you don't.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wal-Mart, I Do Not Love Thee

Yesterday I had many things to get done before I had to fetch The Boy at 12:30. I needed to get regular groceries, plus a twenty (or so) pound turkey. I needed to get some 1-inch foam and some particular colors of felt from a fabric store. I needed to get some hardwood dowels, a universal remote for a TV we were given months ago and that hasn't worked because the giver forgot to give the remote with it and I needed to look for a Christmas present for my mother-in-law.

I decided since Wal-Mart sells groceries, fabric, some wooden crafty stuff, electronics and all sorts of potential Christmas presents that I would make the twenty minute trek. I could get all of those things some where around my neighborhood, but I love the idea of one-stop shopping and I haven't been to Wal-Mart in almost six months.

Now I remember why I haven't been to Wal-Mart in six months. The produce wasn't particularly nice. They had no large turkeys at all. The Great Value sandwich bread is super cheap, but the mid-grade sandwich bread I prefer to buy was more expensive than at my regular store. They didn't have anything but pine dowels. They didn't carry foam or the felt I wanted. They didn't have the Christmas present I wanted to buy. They did have a Universal remote though.

After leaving Wal-Mart, I still had to go to the fabric store where I got the felt and foam. Then I ran by my favorite grocery store where the lights were bright, the mood was cheery and they carried the turkey and a few other things out to the car for me. After picking up The Boy, I still had to go to the hardware store and buy dowels.

In other words, the trip to Wal-Mart only saved me a trip to an electronics store, but I had to redo everything else. Plus the colors, the lighting and the crowded feeling of Wal-Mart always leave me feeling slightly less loving towards my fellow man.

In theory, I think Wal-Mart is wonderful. Provide the masses with goods they otherwise could not have. Bring employment that otherwise wouldn't be there to towns, etc. There is much to be liked about the place, no matter that it is the chi-chi thing to sneer at the store and those who shop there. However, personally my experiences there are never happy ones and I actually get a lot more done when I avoid the store. I think I'll wait at least six more months before venturing back, if I can help it.


White Lily or King Arthur? Discuss...

I'm actually not too interested in the bread results, since I rarely bake my own bread.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

So How Was the Art Show?

I know you are all waiting anxiously to hear how it went. Riiiiight...

Perhaps not, but I shall tell you nonetheless. It went very well. It could have been better, I sold no paintings, but I did sell two of the three fairy wands I brought, as well as the swords, and most of the notecards. I'm not going to be supporting the family on my earnings, but without subtracting for expenses, I brought home a little over $100. Subtracting for expenses, I'm pretty sure I didn't make anything, which will make my income taxes easier at least.

I heard lots of nice things and there were a couple of nibbles at paintings, one couple who really liked the red sunflower, except they said the flower was facing the wrong way for their room, another woman who wanted to buy the same painting, but her boyfriend thoguht it was too feminine, and another woman who would have bought the daffodils had she had any extra money to spend.

Another lady ordered three fairy wands and three padded swords. I have to get the materials to make them and do it quickly. I'm a big slacker, so working fast is not my strong suit. But I think I can make an exception for a large order.

All in all, it was pretty fun and I think I'll probably try to sign up to do the show again next year, if I can make myself do some more paintings and all.


We got a laptop for my husband. I'm not sure I'm going to let him ever use it though. I could get used to this wifi stuff. Not being tied to a modem is really nice.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I Hope This Bodes Well For Tomorrow

Arty Kid

Whether you were a drama freak or an emo poet, you definitely were expressive and unique.

You're probably a little less weird these days - but even more talented!

The paintings are framed, the notecards are folded and I'm in the middle of sticking each one with an envelope. I've made a few padded swords and some fairy wands. I can't believe I signed up for any kind of art show, but it was on my "I want to do it some day" list. Now if I can just stop feeling like the wannabee geek and lose the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

And Nashvillians, if you want to come to an awesome party and art show tomorrow between 4 and 10, e-mail me for further details.

Christmas Presents

Ugh. I'm done shopping for presents for people for whom I know what to get. The others -- well that's the problem. Some people I have no idea what to get for them. What do you get for a teenage boy that doesn't cost a fortune? What do my husband's grandparents, who don't need anything, need? What about my mother-in-law? What do you get for a third baby who has access to every toy under the sun and more clothes than anyone should have? I just don't know.

As for the older two kids, they should be pleased with their presents from us. The Boy is going to get a wooden castle and some knights, which I found on a very good sale. The Middle Girl will be getting a wooden dollhouse that comes with furniture and dolls. It came from Target via Goodwill, brand new, unopened and I stumbled across it on a day when all the tags of its color were 50% off. I know Meredith would approve. Because you can never have too many dolls though, I bought her some extra wooden doll house dolls that normally run $15 and up for $10 at TJ Maxx when I ran across them there (just in case anyone else is looking for doll house dolls at a good price).

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Yesterday I felt almost like Sarah. I baked two kinds of cupcakes and a Hippie German Kindergarten birthday cake. Today the last half hour of the school day was taken up with a special story time about The Boy to which his family was invited and then all the kids got to snarf down some cake.

Then came the highlight of the party season for the Kindergarten set. There are five children in his class who have December birthdays. No one, thus far this year, had had a birthday party at all, but The Boy wanted a class party. I wasn't about to be the one who escalated the party cycle, but I still thought it would be nice to give him a party. I talked with the other moms of December kids and we decided to throw one party for all of them. The only problem being that December is totally full of stuff and everyone had something scheduled on every day we talked about doing. It finally came down to this afternoon, we doled out assignments -- one mom made sandwiches, one brought water bottles and a fruit and veggie tray and I brought cupcakes. We asked everyone to bring one gift per kid they brought with them. After letting the kids run around the park and freezing in the deceptively sunny, but windy, outdoors, we ate, sang happy birthday, ate cupcakes, and then let each kid at the party choose one present out of the bag. Everybody got something -- no party favors or birthday presents to worry about. It was a lot of fun, although I still haven't defrosted, and I'll be all in favor of doing a party like this every year.

Birthday Boy

Six years ago, I was in the hospital laboring away knowing that pretty soon a tiny little baby would come out and change everything. I didn't know whether that little one was a boy or a girl, but I was pretty sure it had to be one or the other.

Finally after 25 hours of labor, The Boy arrived. Perfect, beautiful and not tiny. He took his time coming out, because he was over nine pounds and had a head in the 95th percentile. He was also face up and had his hand up by his head. He clearly wanted to torture me and I suppose I'm lucky to have been able to deliver him without a c-section. But at the time I could only gaze at him in an exhausted stupor and fall totally in love.

Back then even as a big newborn, he seemed so tiny, so fragile. Now he's huge. His legs stretch way down. He used to fit on my chest and now he comes up way past my waist. He ponders and thinks and makes and does. He drives me absolutely batty and he fills me with wonder over how amazing he is. I look at his huge brown eyes and eyelashes that are longer than some feather dusters and wonder at how I could have had any part in the making of someone so beautiful. Lucky me.

But how can my baby be six?


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Grammar Police

We try to encourage the children to use correct grammar. A few whacks to the head with a ruler and they do much better. No, not really. But we do correct them when they misspeak. It's rubbing off on some of them.

The Boy: Daddy and me are going to make a helmet.

The Middle Girl, a.k.a. the bossy three year old: Daddy and I!

I Do Not Think That Means What You Think It Means

The Boy was playing wizard. In his version, once a magic spell was cast, the last word anyone said (before the spell's completion) was what they turned into.

The Boy: Abracadabra, kalamazog. I turn you into a frog.

Justin: Poof!

The Boy: DAD! You said "poof!" Now you are a poof!

Me: Not that I've noticed.

Insert snickering like grade school children by the grownups.

Monday, November 28, 2005


The Boy looks at me with a piercing glance. "What if Daddy is sneaking in and eating all the cookies instead of Santa?"

"Why would you think that?"

"If Santa were real, he would notice that The Middle Girl and I fight all the time and we'd get coal in our stockings. We always get presents."

Hello Strangers!

After a week with four extra adults in my 1900 square foot three bedroom house, I'm alive to tell about it and so are they. It was getting a wee bit crowded feeling around here. With someone sleeping in every room except the dining room, finding the time to get on or near the computer was difficult.

While I was away from the computer, I spent last Monday morning running all over town doing errands. I spent the afternoon cleaning house and cooking and then my whole family -- my parents and two brothers arrived that night along with the family dog. Tuesday morning The Middle Girl had her first dentist appointment -- as a strange twist, my children go to a pediatric dentist who has the same name as my son. That gets some strange looks from the office staff. She did great and didn't have any cavities, unlike her brother, who on his first dentist visit three years ago, had three cavities -- maybe The Boy who looks like his dad got my teeth and The Middle Girl who looks like me got her father's. For the first time in six years we have dental insurance, and I love it. I guess I don't love paying for it, but it is nice not to rack up large bills at the dentist's office.

Wednesday I took my mother out to do the things she wanted to do -- shopping at the Habitat Home Stores, T J Maxx, Tuesday Morning and that sort of thing. We also tried the newish popsicle shop on the other side of town. It's pretty similar to the one down the street from us, but they have ice cream. All the popsicles are $.50 more there though, so I guess I'll stay closer to home when I need a Mexican popsicle.

Thursday we did something. Hmmm. Let me think. Right we cooked. And ate. Everything was pretty good, except for the cranberry sauce I made on that very hectic Monday. I forgot to put any sugar in. Oops. My recipe calls for port, but due to allergies and not wanting to go buy port, I used white grape juice, which along with the candied ginger gave the sauce enough sweetness to be edible, but I wouldn't recommend making it without sugar again. After the eating and cleaning up, some people took naps and others watched a little football. That pretty much did it for the day.

Friday we hauled out the Christmas decorations and started in on that. It was some what strange decorating for Christmas with my family around, because growing up I did not celebrate Christmas and my parents still don't. This year in tree decorating, I caved a bit to the childrens' requests for a little color in lighting. I still haven't swathed the tree in blinking multicolored strands, but I did allow some red holly berry lights to go on for the first time. I'm not crazy about them and I fear that the makes it look a bit like Sauran's tree, but since there are still a lot more white lights than colorful ones, I think I can deal with it until the children out grown the need for more color. That will be a while. The Toddler Girl doesn't care about color yet. She's just busy undecorating the bottom quarter of the tree and hiding ornaments all over the house.

Saturday my dad and older brother and the dog left for home. My younger brother and mother stayed one more day. They were tired and took naps in the late morning/early afternoon, while the kids, Justin and I walked around our neighborhood visiting all the new shops and a lot of the old ones, just to browse. We picked up popsicles at our neighborhood popsicle shop and walked to the park. It was lovely weather and good to get out of the house.

Yesterday, Sunday, my mother and younger brother left. We went to church. In the afternoon, I made a couple padded swords. I'm planning to try and sell them at the neighborhood art show I'm participating in next weekend, but they didn't turn out as well as I would have liked. Hmph.

So here we are at today. I need to do all the usual stuff like buying groceries and washing mountains of clothes as well as continuing to get stuff ready for the art show this weekend and thinking about Christmas presents for my inlaws.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Walking Lessons

When my toddler walks around, she falls a lot. But she doesn't have far to fall and usually goes down onto her well padded and diapered behind. I don't have those luxuries.

Yesterday I was running late to pick The Boy up after school and so instead of grabbing my sling and putting the Baby in, I "saved time" by just carrying her in my arms. As I was walking quickly down the sidewalk to school, I either tripped over The Girl, my feet or (most likely) stepped part way off the sidewalk. Suddenly instead of being vertical, I was teetering, trying to balance, but because I was holding the baby in my arms instead of the sling, I had no arms to throw out and balance myself.

As I went down, my main thought was no to throw The Baby and not to let her hit the ground. I'm not sure exactly how I fell, except that my right knee hit the ground first and slid along the concrete and that when the world stopped, I was on the ground, and The Baby's head was about an inch or two above the concrete. She grinned and didn't know I wasn't trying to be funny when I took her on that wild ride.

My cords that I'd only worn once before now have a huge hole through the knee and the skin on my knee didn't fair much better. The other knee is bruised and swollen. But The Baby is fine and -- hey, I never thought any part of me would resemble an eight year old ever again.

And the moral of the story is -- always take the time to do things right and carry babies in a sling.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Potty Time

I despair that we will never reach the day when I don't have to remind a dancing child that they might want to make a run to the bathroom. And even more annoyingly, sometimes they argue most forcefully that they don't need to go and if I left them off they have accidents and if I make them go they pee for five minutes straight, but they never believe I have the power to divine when they need to go.

And then we have the most recent conversation.

Me: Middle Girl, do you need to go potty?

Middle Girl: No. I'm not holding my crutch.

Rich Man or Poor Man

This week's Thursday Three:

1) If you had an unlimited amount of money, what sort of house would you like to have?

I would love to have a big Queen Anne Victorian with a tower. I've always wanted a tower room. Something like this would do nicely.

2) If you decided to chunk it and go the full Thoreau route, what sort of hovel would you like to have?

A cabin in Alaska. I've never hauled water or had to pee in an outhouse at forty below, and while I wouldn't relish those things, the Alaskan life is still compelling to me. I was reading a story to the kids last night about a family from Fairbanks and was longing to chuck it all and head back to the far North. By the way, the book Baby in a Basket by Gloria Rand is a great read and one of those that when finished The Boy not only immediately wanted to read to himself, but was most disappointed to learn that we did not own our own copy.

3) What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the house or apartment you live in right now?

I wish we had a bath tub in the master bathroom. Sure, I would love another bedroom for the kidlets or a bigger family room for them to trash play in, but mostly, I hate having to drag all my stuff upstairs to take a bath in the only bathtub in the house.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Traffic Stuff

A question: Speed Humps or Speed Bumps? What do you call them?

I grew up calling them speed bumps. I've never heard them referred to as anything other than speed bumps. A road I drive to and from The Boy's school just installed two of them along with warning signs that say "Speed Hump." Humps is an ugly word and makes me giggle when I read it. Speed Bump. Not Speed Hump.

On this same stretch of road (I think the residents must think they have a speeding problem, although I'm not the problem) those automatic speed reader sign things are often set up -- you know the ones that flash lights and yell at you if you are speeding. When they show up on the road they are usually set up to flash when one exceeds the posted speed limit of 30 mph. Sometimes the brilliant people decide to set the signs to flash at you when you exceed the advisory speed on the yellow warning signs. I try not to speed and I don't like getting yelled at by a sign when I am 8 miles under the posted limit. Hmph.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Talk

We've never had The Talk About You Know What with The Boy. I've explained things a bit here and there, but not in great detail or with much specificity. I think The Boy may be ready for a bit more.

We were talking the other day when he asked whether The Evil Dog we once owned that bit him had been a girl dog. I said yes and then he asked why she'd had an operation (How do they remember these things? That was over two years ago.). I told him she'd had some girl parts removed so that she couldn't have puppies.

"But," asked the inquisitive one, "how can a dog have babies when dogs can't get married?"

Morning Has Broken

Scene: Morning. Suddenly angry screams are heard from overhead. Footsteps on the stairs. The Middle Girl appears crying angry tears.

Parents try to calm down The Middle Girl.

Girl (wiping away tears, but still sobbing): The Boy said my red blanket was a duvet!

Friday, November 11, 2005


Blair is very proud of her tiaras and looks very nice in them, but I have a "tee-aw-ya" wearer who is even cuter and when she's "dwessed as a pwincess" she also has a sparkly sequined sling in which to carry her babies.


A to Z Meme

ChewyMom tagged me for this and so here are my answers.

A - Age you moved away from home: I was 17 when I went to college.

B - First Boyfriend’s name: Anson

C - Chore You Hate: Cleaning anything -- especially bathrooms. This is why I probably shouldn't be a housewife.

D - Dad’s Name: Dan

E - Essential Make-Up Item: blush

F - Fave Actress: Audrey Hepburn or Katherine Hepburn

G - Gold or Silver: either

H - Heritage: German, Danish and Scottish -- possibly some Ukrainian

I - Instruments You Play: Nothing, although I managed to take many years of violin without it sinking in.

J - Job Title: Mom

K - Kids: three of them -- The Boy is almost 6, The Middle Girl is 3 and The Baby Girl is 1.

L - Living Arrangements: In a house

M - Mom’s Name: Linda

N - Number of TV’s in your house: Two

O - Overnight Hospital Stays: One for each pregnancy

P - Phobia: Nothing that I can think of.

Q - Quote You Like: I hate thinking of quotations, but the one ChewyMom had has always been one I use and remind myself of, so I'll just keep it. “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” -Anne of Green Gables

R - Religious Affiliation: Christian

S - Stuff You Collect: clutter, books, art supplies, dust

T - Time You Wake Up: 7-ish

U - Unique Habit: No idea

V - Vegetable You Refuse to Eat: Collard Greens. I know. I'll never be a real Southerner.

W - Worst Habit: No idea

X - X-Rays You’ve Had: Lots for teeth. A few for broken toes (I've broken two, I'm that much of a klutz.)

Y - Yummy Food You Make: Lots of things. The Boy tells me I make the best cakes, cookies, burritos, Indian food, and soup, among other things. This is why I kept him around.

Z - Zodiac Sign: Aries

So many people have done this that I won't tag anyone, but if you haven't done this yet, feel free to do so and leave me a trackback or comment note so I can some see your answers.

Carnivals of The Recipes, I Keep Forgetting

Every week, I tell myself I will post a recipe and I will post a link to the latest Carnival of the Recipes. Generally, I forget to do either. But to make up for a little forgetfulnes -- the 63rd Carnival can be found at Everything and Nothing. The 64th at Pajama Pundits.

And if you haven't submitted anything yet, you still can. Send you recipe or a link to the recipe on your blog to recipe(dot)carnival at gmail(dot)com. Happy cooking!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Kindergarten Cake

Since I mentioned the snacks that they eat at Hippie German School, which I mention jokingly, but are actually one of the things I think is great about the school -- that they aren't filling my son full of crap food and Kool-Aid, I thought I'd also talk about the Kindergarten birthday cake.

In preschool and Kindergarten birthdays are a big deal, though not quite like they might be other places. The birthday kid gets a present from the teachers (something like seashells, play silks, a handmade felt bag or modelling beeswax), the teachers tell a special "Rainbow Bridge" story about the kid and parents are invited to come for the last part of the school day. Also they have cake. But unlike some schools where parents have the choice of any sort of cookie/cake/cupcake, they ask us all to make the same recipe of semi-healthy cake.

Last year The Boy's preschool teachers made the cake and I found it to be rather tasteless, too unsweet and too salty. The leftovers got pitched. Knowing that I'm going to have to make the cake this year, I decided to fiddle with the recipe just enough to make a better cake, but within the same basic parameters -- adding a little more honey, a few more spices and some orange zest, the recipe came out great. It became a recipe I'll be happy to make. In fact, I thought it was so good, that I am tempted to whip up a cake just to munch on and I'm not even a huge fan of cake.

So here's it is:

Jordana's Modified Hippie German Kindergarten Cake

2 cups oat flour (grind oats to flour in food processor)
1/2 cup wheat flour (can substitute all purpose flour for a lighter cake)
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt

4 oz unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup water
1 cup honey
fresh zest from one orange

2 eggs
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

Combine dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together butter, water, honey and orange zest. Pour butter mixture into dry ingredients and mix well with an electric mixer. Add yogurt and eggs. Bake at 375 degrees in a bundt pan for 30 to 40 minutes. The Kindergarten serves the cake plain, decorated with mandarin oranges, but I made up a simple cream cheese icing with orange zest in it.

And There Is Much Rejoicing

The Boy seemed well enough to send back to Hippie German School this morning. He's thrilled, even if this is quinoa snack day (his least favorite). I'm pretty happy about it too, because he and Middle Girl have been fighting non-stop for the last two days.

Middle Girl, though, is still sick and sniffly.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

No Means No!

Around this house, I'm known as the cruel, hardhearted one when it comes to people trying to raise money. During the election year, I gave the money we had allocated for campaign donations and stopped giving. But when my husband answered the phone, another $35 or $50 seemed to head out to a campaign or politcal organization every time.

Right now I'm generally in full blown, absolutely no donations mode, but I made a small exception yesterday when a caller mentioned Nancy Pelosi -- everyone has their breaking point. Fortunately I mentioned this donation to my husband, so that when another related group called for their own fundraiser later that day, he knew he couldn't say yes to them too. Today, yet another, similar, but not the same as either of the other two, organization called asking for money.

The conversation this morning went something like this:

Me: Hello.
Them: Mrs. Adams, I'm calling on behalf of Blah Blah Organization (not its real name) and are you aware that Nancy Pelosi and Hilary Clinton are trying to do unspeakable things to destroy everything you have ever held dear and will bankrupt you with their astronomical tax hikes? Are you willing to let this happen?
Me: I'd help, but unfortunately I already gave all the money I currently have to donate to Bigger Parent Organization (also not its real name) yesterday. I don't...
Them: Oh, we aren't Bigger Parent Organization, we're Blah Blah Organization and do our own fundraising.
Me: I know, but I haven't any more money to donate. I gave it to the BPO.
Them: Do you realize that The Other Side has huge war chests and are trying to take over the world? Do you want them to win? When can you send us your donation of $50 or would $60 work better for you?
Me: I don't have any more money to donate at this time.
Them: We'll give you time. Can you send us your donation within the next 7-10 days?
Me: I am not donating anything.
Them: But the other side is going to ransack the villages, rape the women, outlaw apple pie and take away Christmas. Surely we can count on you for a donation of...
Me: You don't seem to grasp this, but I am saying no. No money.
Them: Oh. This call was paid for by Blah Blah Organization blah blah blah.

While I am sympathetic to the political organizations involved, the phone calls are annoying and it is even more annoying that I must say no over and over again before they'll get it. If I could make a donation and be assured that no one would call me again for at least a year, I might consider it. However, once you donate money they hound you all the more. Naturally these things don't fall under the "Do Not Call" list rules. Hmph.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Odd Musical Combination

The Boy is sitting behind me singing a combination of All Along The Watchtower and the Mickey Mouse Club Theme Song.


The Boy was a bit more emotional than usual yesterday. Last night at dinner he picked at his food, said lemonade made his throat burn and he seemed exhausted. His forehead wasn't hot, but his torso was. His temperature was 101.5. He seems perfectly fine today, jumping all over and harrassing his sister, but he's home anyway. Some of the kids in his class were out for the entire week last week with the flu and I hope The Boy doesn't have it. Maybe whatever caused his fever last night has already left -- at least that's what I'm telling myself.

Where Was I?

Ever since we met an old college friend of mine at the grocery store, The Middle Girl has been really curious as to why she doesn't remember him from my college days. In fact, she doesn't quite understand why she doesn't remember anything from the time that I spent in college at all. The concept of a time before she existed is more than she, at three years old, can fathom. She keeps coming back and asking questions like, "Who took care of me while you were in college?" "When you were in college, did I play with my toys?" I haven't been able to convince her yet that she wasn't there. She also looks at my wedding pictures and wonders why she isn't in them.

Sometimes I look at pictures before the kidlets came along and wonder where they are. They seem to have always been with me and they take up such a large part of my life now that even though I do remember a time before they were around (and none of them were present at my wedding certainly) I periodically have to think twice to recall why they don't appear in a photo.

Monday, November 07, 2005

You Never Know Who'll Be At the Grocery Store

Last night after church, while picking up a few things at the grocery store I ran into an old college friend and Communist (I'm not kidding, I had some strange but wonderful [if you didn't talk politics with them] friends in college) that I haven't seen in seven or so years. It seemed like a random place to meet up, but still it made me smile to see him.

Bows and Double-Knots

The Boy has been able to "finger knit" since the beginning of the school year. He's been tying slip knots for a while, but tying his shoes proved to be confusing to him for the longest time. Last week, I sat down to work with him again and suddenly it clicked. He's been tying his shoes all by himself ever since. He's so proud.


Just a reminder -- once that black mold starts growing on your jack o'lanterns Do Not wait a few more days before throwing them in the compost or garbage. Do it now.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Life in Captivity

Others have certainly discovered that after children arrive, a trip to the bathroom alone can be a rare and exciting pleasure. Normal trips for me usually include one child who likes to watch and ask what exactly I'm doing, one who comes along in the hopes of snatching a mouth full of toilet paper when I'm distracted (or to throw something in the toilet), the final child comes along to make sure his sisters aren't getting any special attention that he's missing out on and the dog usually wedges in as well just to make sure he's part of the party.

If they weren't so fast and so carefully observing my every motion, I'd be able to close the door and be able to take care of necessary business in the relative peace of an empty bathroom with people screaming and pounding on the door. Unfortunately, they have me under close surveillance and I rarely escape my captors for more than a moment or two.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Not Your Normal Job Site Item

We are currently in the process of having a new metal roof put on our front porch. The old one was leaking when we moved in and in terrible shape. We've caulked it up a couple of times, but we knew the day was coming when caulk wouldn't fix the problem any longer. That day arrived this summer and so we finally put in an order for the metal roofing in August and it just arrived. Now a team of fellows are out there banging around. While most of them went out for lunch yesterday, one guy stayed behind. He wanted a hot lunch though. He plugged in an extension cord, hauled his full-sized microwave out of the truck and heated up some burritos.

A Bloggish Thursday Three

Thursdays are often a very busy day for me now, so I've been ignoring The Return of the Thursday Three, but since today isn't too crazy yet, I guess I'll throw in my answers.

1) If you have a blog, why did you start it? If you don’t have one, do you think you might start one? Why or why not?

I didn't mean to start a blog. One day, my husband came home babbling about these blog things, made me read Instapundit and Andrew Sullivan, and announced he was going to start one too. He invited several of our friends and me to join in on the fun. Then one by one most of the friends dropped out to do other things like actually concentrate on work. Then my husband did the same. I took over and decided babbling about politics and foreign policy wasn't really nearly as interesting to me as babbling about my children, so the focus changed completely. Finally I moved to the servers and forgot to give keys to the executive washroom to the only remaining person that ever blogged around here besides me. So don't blame me. I'm just here taking up space that I never really intended to use. However, I do love the outlet it gives me, the conversations in the comments, and the fact that it makes me write things down once in a while.

2) What blogs do you read most often?
I read the blogs on my blogroll most often that are updated the most often. The two most frequently updated would probably be Terry and the Llamabutchers. I try to check on everyone on my blogroll at least once every couple of days and often multiple times per day as I'm passing by the computer. I also check the Houseblogs site, because I find the stories about other people's houses fascinating.

3) Finally, what do you consider to be the greatest strength(s) and most profound weakness(es) of blogging?

The friendships with people far away, the experts one can find talking about any subject from dog shows to stripping woodwork, the fact that I've been found by some old, long-lost acquaintances, and the ability of bloggers to keep the "real" journalists in line are the best parts.

The weird/disgusting searches, a few hateful commentors and all the spam are the worst parts for me. I could imagine that some people I'd rather not find me might stumble in here too, which would be unfortunate.

I think the good has far outweighed the bad though.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Those French Chicks...

My friend Cheryl takes up cartooning.

When I Learn to Knit...

This will probably not be the first thing I try to make.

From my friend Sabina, who I think has a blog she's not telling me about.


After a long hiatus, Athena is back.

I'm A PoMo!

revisionist historian
You are a Revisionist Historian. You are the Clark
Kent of postmodernists. You probably want to
work in a library or in social services. No
one suspects you of being a postmodernist...
until they read your publications!

What kind of postmodernist are you!?
brought to you by Quizilla

I was a librarian, but I'm such a stealth Postmodernist that even I didn't know I was one.

From the Llamas, who seem to be my meme source of the day.

The Cowboy, The Cat and The Princess


Average Americans

The Llamas offer us this list of things that supposedly apply to a majority of Americans. I've struck out those things that do not apply to me:

Eats peanut butter at least once a week. -- Never, if possible.

Prefers smooth peanut butter over chunky. -- If it must be eaten, it should at least have some crunch to it.

Can name all Three Stooges. -- Three plus!

Lives within a 20-minute drive of a Wal-Mart. -- In good traffic, according to Mapquest, I could make it in 16 minutes.

Eats at McDonald’s at least once a year. -- I prefer to eat my grease at Sonic, but with children and travel, we wind up at a McDonald's at least once every year.

Takes a shower for approximately 10.4 minutes a day. -- I take baths when time allows, but when I take a shower it's probably either much shorter or much longer depending upon who is watching the children.

Never sings in the shower.

Lives in a house, not an apartment or condominium.

Has a home valued between $100,000 and $300,000.

Has fired a gun. -- I think I should learn to shoot one, but I haven't gotten over my girly weeniness. I'm all in favor of other people learning how to use them and already told my son that when he's a couple of years older his uncle (former Marine and now a policeman) can take him out and teach him gun safety and shooting.

Is between 5 feet and 6 feet tall -- 5'8"

Weighs 135 to 205 pounds -- I'll never tell. Though actually, I'm not really sure of the exact measurement. I don't have a scale anymore. It succumbed to years of jumping children. Sigh. Back in college I used to tip the scales at 119 lbs.

Is between the ages of 18 and 53.

Believes gambling is an acceptable entertainment option. -- I don't think that taking advantage of people who can't do math is very nice.

Grew up within 50 miles of current home. -- Approximately 2000 miles from the place I was born and 500 miles from the place my parents have lived for the last seventeen years.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

One Year Ago

One year ago today, I looked like this in the morning and like this in the evening. Our family went from an equal number of grownups and children to the grownups being outnumbered. Unless you count the dog, we females also gained the majority a year ago. Unfortunately, the brown eyed group gained ascendancy over the blue eyed Adamses. But all those classifications of who is winning and who is losing don't add up to the win we all have with our youngest and shortest family member.

Labor with The Baby was not as easy or relatively painless as it had been with The Middle Girl, much to my disappointment. It also took longer than I had hoped. But the end result and the unexpected arrival of my second daughter was well worth it all. Some days I still can't quite believe I have two daughters, which for someone who never had a sister seems like uncharted territory.

The Baby has always seemed to be more easy going than her big sister, who is not known around here as the Drama Queen without good reason. The Baby is generally calm and generally smiling, although now that she can walk and fancies herself one of the big kids, she's starting to believe in property rights. In other words, everything is or should be her property.

The Baby is like her siblings in many ways. She crawled about the same age (between five and six months) and she started walking at about the same age (around eleven months). She has a ready smile and loves to wave to "her public" (all the people behind us) when we're at church.

She's also different in many ways than her siblings. Her skin and eyes are darker. She's shorter and lighter weight (so small that on her first birthday she still weighs too little to be turned around forward facing in her carseat). Although she reached milestones at much the same time she did it in her own way, dragging herself in a combat crawl for a month or more before actually crawling and taking half a dozen steps at a time for weeks before walking, unlike her siblings who took off and walked everywhere within a day of putting a few steps together.

The main physical difference though between The Baby and her siblings is, of course, her birthmark. I didn't notice it at birth, though my husband says he did, but within a very few days it was very obvious that she had a red mark on her forehead. It looked like she'd come pre-marked as a Hindu with a caste mark. I'd heard of birthmarks, of course, but I'd never really thought about them and never really known what kinds or types there were. I'd never heard the word hemangioma before. I wasn't really prepared to see one on my daughter's forehead and it bothered me for a long time. I covered it up for months every time we left the house.

It still bothers me. I'd still cover it up if she'd stop ripping her hats off. I think she's beautiful, wonderful and brilliant. I want those qualities to be the first things everyone notices and not the fact that she has a large red lump on her head.

She won't wear a hat very often anymore, and that, as with many other parenting adventures has taught me a lot. It's taught me patience -- I have to wait for the mark to go down and fade -- and taught me to deal with my own embarrassments, to not worry about what others think so much and also to explain and talk about hemangiomas to others who have never heard of them. I guess I'll always be a bit sensitive about it, but I hope that my sensitivity continues to fade as her birthmark is fading already.

In the meantime, my little one year old cares not at all about her mother's neuroses as long as they don't interfere with her morning nur-nur which she craves more than any adult craves morning coffee. After her wake up milk, she takes on the day, toddling and babbling with the best of them. I think I'm incredibly lucky to know her. Happy Birthday Baby Girl!


A Reynolds Girl

You have the Reynolds girl look. Reynolds girls had
the typical British beauty. The eighteenth
century British portrait painters would have
been attracted by your brilliant complexion and
your classical features. Sir Joshua Reynolds
loved to paint girls like you in white dresses
with blue satin sashes. Reynolds and other
portrait painters of his time also portrayed
blue eyed, dark-haired girls, and golden-haired
ones too, plus the occasional red-head. The
following painters would have painted you; Sir
Joshua Reynolds and Sir Thomas Lawrence.

'Pretty As A Picture' - Which Artist Would Paint You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Reynolds has long been one of my favorite painters. Especially this picture, so I'm quite pleased with the results. Thanks, Melissa!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Book Reviews

From Big Arm Woman comes a link to a great article that presents some of the "best" Amazon book reviews of a few of the books on Time magazine's top 100 books. My favorites?

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

“This book gets my nomination for the most overrated book in American Literature. It is trite, saccharine and false. The themes and insights it contains are not even good enough to be third rate. Moreover, as a prose stylist, Kerouac was probably fourth rate. In short, I despise this piece of [garbage] and would advise all of its hipster doofus fans to lose the tie-dye clothes and throw away their bongs. Maybe then they will read something good for a change.”

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

“Here’s the first half of the book: ‘We had dinner and a few drinks. We went to a cafe and talked and had some drinks. We ate dinner and had a few drinks. Dinner. Drinks. More dinner. More drinks. We took a cab here (or there) in Paris and had some drinks, and maybe we danced and flirted and talked sh*t about somebody. More dinner. More drinks. I love you, I hate you, maybe you should come up to my room, no you can’t’… I flipped through the second half of the book a day or two later and saw the words ‘dinner’ and ‘drinks’ on nearly every page and figured it wasn’t worth the risk.”

Pumpkin Carving

With little effort on our part, we acquired many more pumpkins this year than the two I had planned on for the kids. Our neighbor gave us four that had volunteered in her yard and a couple from church gave us a big one along with a bunch of gourds to make what they call a "jolly goblin." Thus instead of two, we have seven pumpkins.

Yesterday it was clearly time to do a little pumpkin "harving" as my son used to call it. The Boy wanted a vampire, The Middle Girl wanted a kitty cat, The Baby wanted to eat the pumpkin guts and we carved another one just for good measure -- as well as making the Jolly Goblin.

And by the time it was all over, we had so many pumpkin guts and seeds and I was so tired that I didn't feel like roasting anything. But we got some cute jack o'lanterns and still have a couple of uncarved pumpkins. Maybe I'll gut one of those later for the seeds.

Without further ado, we have the whole family of pumpkins.

The vampire:

The cat:

The silly face:

The Jolly Goblin and friends:
jolly goblin.jpg

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I Always Knew I Couldn't Think While Pregnant

She scanned the brains of women before and after they were pregnant and found the brain shrank during pregnancy.

This article (via Patricia) clearly explains my problem. It claims the shrinkage is reversed six months after delivery, but who knows what you really lose and never regain.

Some Days I Shouldn't Try to Drive

Yesterday, I noticed that I was trying to wean the car. Since they don't tend to want to go without gas, and I tend not to want to be stranded, I pulled into a gas station -- and pulled up to the wrong side of the car. So I pulled around and was going to back into another spot, when someone drove behind me and took it. So I pulled around and neatly backed into another spot -- only to get out and realize I was still parked with the gas tank on the wrong side.

I decided my best bet was a hurried exit from that gas station. I turned towards home -- and then realized all the gas stations were the other direction. I went to another -- where gas was several cents cheaper than place I'd gone to first. I pulled in on the correct side, opened the gas tank door, got out and realized my purse was inside the door that was now blocked by the open gas tank door. Eventually I did manage to fill the tank. At almost $40, I think I should just stay home from now on though.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Babies, Babies Everywhere

My friend for whom I was babysitting a week ago had her baby, by the way. A delicious girl, whom I haven't met yet, because I've been a bit sick. But I'm taking them split pea soup and other stuff tomorrow.

And then there are all these other babies in the works. I think I said I was probably done with three, but that longing to feel a squirmy little one inside and hold another newborn is extremely strong.

The sleepless nights and the swollen misery do have some discouraging power, but these children of mine can be awfully cute.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Fashion Police

Occasionally, I try to leave the house in yoga pants, running shorts or a sweatshirt. For the last several months, any time I make such an attempt, my three year old has looked at me with a critical eye and asked, "Where are you wearing that?" When I tell her I plan to wear it to the grocery store or a walk to the park or some other place where dressing up doesn't seem necessary, she informs me in no uncertain terms that the clothes I have on do not pass muster and cannot be worn outside the house or yard.

Right now she still lets me out in public without makeup and other rather plain clothes, but I'm sure as her sense of fashion becomes further refined, you'll see me looking nicer when I leave the house. This is, I suppose, not a bad thing, and I'll never bow to the point of ridiculousness just to please my fashionista.

She's probably right. I shouldn't go out of the house in yoga pants or running shorts. I'm not sure I'm ready to give up sweatshirts though. Sometimes comfort outweighs fashion.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Those Internets Sure Are Useful

Saturday was one of those long, long, busy days when had I planned ahead better, I would have had leftovers or something cooking in the crockpot. Instead, when dinner time rolled around there weren't a lot of options except going out, which we were too tired to do or bringing something in.

We don't order pizza very often and usually when we do we get it from the pizza place near our house, but they don't deliver and every once in a while, getting a pizza delivered to your house is totally worth it. But nobody around here ever wants to call. We must not be the only ones, and that's why being able to order a pizza online is brilliant.

While I complain about not getting to talk to a human when I'm actually on the phone, being able to do something on the computer and never deal with anyone is rather refreshing. When the next long, busy day comes to a close with no dinner plans in sight, I'll be running to the computer and clicking through another pizza order -- and I can put a tip on right at the start. Wonderful.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Compassion and Caring On The Other Side

There are hate-filled nasty people out there. They should be generally avoided. To hear some people talk most such hatemongers are right-wingers and Christians. Although there are people who claim to fall under those titles, and we don't need to debate right now whether they actually deserve those category listings, who are pure evil and certainly disturbed, right-wingers and Christians do not have a monopoly on hate and vitriol.

Occasionally this strikes me rather forcibly, as with this article Big Arm Woman wrote about yesterday. Entitled "God Does Not Want 16 Kids" Mark Morford's article go on to lash out at the Duggars, whom I assume most everyone is aware just had their sixteenth child.

Some where in the article, he asserts that their having so many children is going to bring on environmental destruction and overpopulation of the world. Ignoring , of course, that Arkansas is not overpopulated and that one family with sixteen children is hardly a trend in the making, that seems to be his only real point in the article. The rest is all hate. He hates to see a family of apparently happy people who don't believe what he believes.

He attacks their hair, Mrs. Duggar's (as we call them around here) girl parts, and even complains that they are so white (I've looked at the parents and I'd like to figure out how they could produce children that weren't white). When one has to resort to complaints about another's appearance the arguments and any real point is already lost.

The bile and hate do slip into the realm of funny once or twice though, when Morford worries that the Duggar children will be, "encoded with the values of the homophobic asexual Christian right." Or when he notes that there aren't any "liberal, spiritualized, pro-sex" people with sixteen children. I think he must have missed the part of Health class where we learned that sex wasn't just for fun and getting to know someone on the first date, but was actually for procreation. How can one assert that people who have sixteen children aren't "pro-sex" and as far from "asexual" as they come? Sure they may, gasp, think that sex belongs in a marriage relationship, but these aren't people who are against it.

When I hear from some one or other of my more liberal acquaintances how they are looking for tolerance and acceptance and when they assert that the Christian Right is simply full of hate, I'll be sure to remember this article. No acceptance. No tolerance. No better than what I have been accused of merely by going to a conservative church and voting Republican.

In Which I Get All Artsy...

I've been painting and drawing forever. In high school I did one painting that won all sorts of prizes and after that, part of me thought I would go on to take lots of classes and be an "artist." Instead, when I got to college, I was busy taking academic courses and intimidated by the thought of a college grade resting on my work, so I didn't take any art classes. My oil paints dried out and my easel started gathering dust.

I spent several years -- most of college and grad school not painting or drawing. Periodically I would go to an art supply store and look and touch and maybe buy a little something, but I rarely used anything. I wanted to paint or draw or something, but didn't make the time.

About a year after The Boy was born, I was participating in a Secret Santa gift exchange and the woman whose name I drew said she loved notecards. With that thought clicking around, I decided to draw up some notecards and have them printed on cardstock. She loved them and I gave away the same designs to other friends as presents -- and it is really annoying me that I cannot find the originals for those cards at the moment. Those drawings were simple pen and ink with watercolor. Nothing fancy and not much like what I've been drawing more recently. In fact they were more related to the doodles I used to put all over my class notes than anything else.

The next year I made Christmas cards for myself and some friends wanted to buy copies. I sure wasn't getting rich off the deal, but it was a thrill to get a check for something I'd drawn.

Since then, I've been doing various things. Artwork ideas float around in my head. A lot of them don't ever make it out and a lot of things that do find their way out look horrible. I've been able to make enough things that I'm pleased with though to make myself happy and to fill up my walls. As of a few years ago, most of the work I've been doing is watercolor and pencil. Some from photos but mostly stuff I've picked in the garden that is sitting around on the kitchen table. I sketch it out and then put the color where it belongs, which is what painting has always been for me -- putting color where it belongs.

I don't think I do watercolors "right". I've never had a watercolor class. I always wanted to paint in oils, but oils are expensive and take up a lot of room. Watercolors won't break the bank and I can set up and take down everything I need in a few minutes.

I'd been doing quite a bit of painting and really enjoying it before I got pregnant with The Baby. During my pregnancy I only painted one picture. After my pregnancy, I only painted one picture -- until one day, out of the blue, Janis wrote to me and asked about notecards. Just doing that and buying a few inspired me to start again.

I'm not an artist. I wouldn't pretend to be, but I do love to make pretty pictures and see them hanging on my walls. Although I have a hard time parting with anything I've ever made, I've reached a point where I want to see if anyone would buy anything bigger than a notecard from me. I've thought for a long time that being in an art show would be really neat, but I'm not really the go-getter type. However, even the way into the simple art show world has been opened. Some of my neighbors organize an annual art show in their house of any and all neighbors who want to participate.

I've been thinking about it for two years. This year, I signed up for the neighborhood art show. I plan to take a lot of notecards along, but I've also been painting some bigger things. Selling any one of them would make me really happy, although there is at least one painting that I'm tempted to price high because I'm not really sure I'm ready to let it go.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Homecoming, part 2 -- Why Can't Marching Bands Just March?

Buried in my Homecoming post below, I mentioned that the halftime show was worthy of its own post. As with many things, I intended to return to the subject that day or the next perhaps. Here it is much, much later and I'm only finally getting back to it.

Sewanee does not have its own marching band. It has a fine orchestra, a wonderful choir, great organists and carriloneurs, but I suppose marching band must be a little low brow. For some reason, the powers that be think Homecoming, unlike other football games, requires a marching band, so they make arrangements every year with one of the nearby high school bands to provide halftime entertainment.

During college, I can't say I paid much attention to the bands. I remember that they seemed to play Rocky Top every year, but that's about all that comes to mind.

This year, though, the high school marching band made an extra special effort to do something really entertaining. We should have been tipped off that something was up when they brought so many props onto the field. There were fake palm trees, a park bench, a miniature graveyard, several different flags, and plastic swords, as well as changes of costume. The truth is though, that the fog started rolling in just then and I was walking the kids around, so I didn't notice all of this at first.

Without announcement, the band started playing -- a few bars of the Star Spangled Banner (enough to realize what you were hearing and put your hand over your heart) and then the music swung right into Moonlight Serenade. And there were majorettes on the field swing dancing (poor girls in sleeveless dresses in the cold damp fog).

This medley was followed by another. I can't really tell you what order most things transpired in. At some point the music was quite marshal and the flag corps was fighting with flags -- half of them waving blue flags with stars while the other half swung Japanese flags and the majorettes twirled plastic swords. This was when it finally dawned on me what they were doing -- we were seeing a musical reenactment of the War in the Pacific.

After the fighting, the band played Taps and off at one end of the field one of the majorettes ceremonially kneeled weeping at the fake graveyard. This was followed by some sort of peaceful tune while the flag corps ran a circle around the field carrying white flags with doves printed on them.

You'd think that would be the end, but it wasn't. I can't remember what the final music was -- by this point the spectacle of the thing had captured my attention. Whatever rousing finale was played was accompanied by the majorettes throwing on old military jackets and raising a flag -- holding it in the stance memorialized in the Iwo Jima statue.

I think the band played well and the majorettes and flag corps certainly had their work cut out for them with all the flag and costume changes -- plus learning to swing and running all over the place. One must certainly give them credit. However, what's wrong with a few rousing tunes, a band marching around the field and (if you must) baton twirling and flag waving? Must we make everything into an elaborate spectacle?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Free Tickets! Parties! I'm Exhausted!

We had a really fun, full weekend. I'm pretty exhausted, especially with an extra child on the loose, and I think I need a cup of hot tea on top of my cup of coffee or maybe I just need some caffeine on an IV drip. I've had a sinus infection for about two weeks and while I'm finally past the nightly fevers, I'm still sniffling a lot and tired.

Friday night we had a class picnic with The Boy's Kindergarten class which was a nice way to chat with the parents and teachers socially. The most amazing part was when one of my mom friends from the class said she liked Justice Roberts a lot and thought Ted Kennedy was a mean, old windbag. I've had those thoughts lots of times, but I never expect to hear similar sentiments at a gathering of Hippie German School people.

Saturday morning, we went out for breakfast at this restaurant near our house. Afterwards, Justin and my dad worked on cleaning up and fixing our lawnmower which was running funny. I planted a few bulbs and watered stuff. As much as I want to instill a love of gardening in the kids, I'm about fed up with gardening when they are around. When I only had The Boy helping, it was fun. Now it is just a lot of extra work.

While Justin and my dad did yard work, I took the kidlets to a birthday party for a boy from church. I don't think we did anything in the afternoon, but that night I went to the opera with a friend of mine to see Faust. She had an extra ticket and had offered to take me earlier last week and so I jumped at the chance. I don't get to do stuff like that very often. Faust was really good, although when Valentin, the brother of Marguerite gets killed, he spends about 10 minutes up and down singing about how he's dying any second, which struck me as funny. I don't think they meant that to be the funny part though.

Sunday we had church in the morning. In the afternoon we just played outside with the kids throwing balls and whacking balls with croquet mallets and baseball bat and other stuff. Sunday evening we had a Bible study and then ran home, got the kids ready for bed, put the babysitter in charge of The Baby and ran off to a Nickel Creek concert. One of our neighbors and friends "in the music business" offered us tickets. It certainly wasn't a free night, since we had to pay a sitter, but we never would have gone to something like that otherwise and it was really fun. I'd heard good things about the band before, but never listened to their music. And the main guy, who plays mostly mandolin was just awesome. But standing up listening to a concert from 7-10 was tiring.

I'm still not recovered from all the excitement and now with a fourth child in tow, life feels a bit crazy.

Mission Accomplished

I made to the grocery store and back with three children, one of which was not my own. Since this was the main thing I needed to do today other than pick up The Boy after school and start the mountain of dirty clothes on its way to becoming the mountain of clean clothes, I'm glad to have it behind me. I wasn't sure how taking a different kid shopping would go, but it was pretty good. Easier, in fact, than now when our visitor is playing with The Boy's Thomas trains and complaining that my girls are messing up his tracks. Sigh.


That was a full weekend and now I've gained an extra child while my friend is off at the hospital having a baby. More later.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Web Search of the Day

Some one dropped by looking for ornaments for husband. While I think my husband is very ornamental (and useful) all on his own, here are a few other ornaments you might want to add to an ordinary husband to jazz him up.

(1) A necktie -- I like a nice regimental stripe, but use your best judgement.

(2) A tuxedo -- mmmm...shawl collars are especially recommended.

(3) A tool belt -- I love seeing my husband out fixing stuff and building.

(4) An apron -- this means an ordinary husband has become an extraordinary chef and cooked dinner.

(5) A lawnmower/weedeater -- sort of like #3.

I'm sure other ornaments will be lovely on a husband and really give him that nice decorative touch, feel free to add your favorites in the comments.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Little Lolita

Even though we usually make our own Halloween costumes out of the dress-up clothes we have on hand, I was perusing a costume website when I came across the "Cheerless Leader" costume in the teen section. I'm not the cheerleader type, but I'd take a cheerleader over a Goth wannabe. The costume with it's fishnet tummy and fishnet shorts is disturbing and totally inappropriate, but the fact that the model looks to be about eight and is wearing blood red lipstick and heavy eye makeup seems even worse.

My kids may do many things I don't like and wear many things I don't approve of when I'm not looking, but I'm sure there is someone out there buying this "adorable" little costume for their daughter. Because letting your daughter run around looking like a Goth Hooker is just "soooo cuuuuute!"

What's Wrong With Your Legs?

During the summer, I almost never wear pantyhose. Other than for church, I almost never have any opportunity to dress up and I just don't like wearing hose when it is hot outside. This Sunday was one of the first cool days we've had this year and I put on a corduroy skirt and hose (as well as a shirt, of course). I was slipping on shoes when my son looked at me and said, "What's wrong with your legs? The skin on them looks funny." I explained that I was wearing pantyhose, which I told him were sort of like the tights his sister wears. I think he was unconvinced that wearing them really added anything good to my outfit.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Here Comes The World's Shortest Biped

The Baby has, I suppose, become The Toddler. She's been able to walk for several weeks taking up to 5 or 6 steps at a time. Friday night Justin and I played "make the baby walk" by sitting several feet apart and sliding a toy she wanted back and forth between us. Still, she wasn't really doing more than a few steps on her own without all that encouragement.

This afternoon we had a break-through. When she was sitting and could have crawled to me, she stood up and walked and then started walking all over the room as if it required little effort. When she started to lose her balance she would stop, re-adjust her footing and go on.

Some people dread walking, but I really don't. I kind of like it. If they are going to be mobile at all they might as well act bipedal.


Thanks to a combination of stupid things, DSL was down all day yesterday, so my report on the events of the weekend was delayed. But here it comes -- but without pictures -- because taking photos while carrying a grabby baby in a sling is difficult.

But anyway -- after waking up and all that usual stuff, we dressed ourselves and the children. The Boy complained that he didn't want to wear "dressy clothes" though black cargo pants, a plaid button down shirt and sneakers hardly count as dressy in my book. The Middle Girl was excited to get to wear her new rainbow tights and The Baby was just glad she had something to chew on. We packed the car with snacks, music, changes of clothes and rain gear and stopped for gas, money and breakfast at Sonic on the way out of town.

Sonic has semi-decent fast food breakfasts, but currently the only thing they offer for a children's breakfast is French toast sticks. The words children, syrup and car should never be used in combination, so we started the morning with slightly sad children because they wanted whatever plastic toy Sonic was handing out and we made them get grown-up food. The words orange juice and little girl who takes the lid off things should also not be used in combination, so before we even left the parking lot, we needed to stop and mop up the Middle Girl. If you were intriguiged by the steak, egg and cheese breakfast burrito -- wonder no more. It has no flavor.

The actual drive was painless. The girls slept almost the whole way and The Boy wanted to listen to Tom Petty.

In Sewanee we got our registration packet, found parking and opened the car up to the chiming of the carrillons -- a concert by the brother of a good friend. The carrilloneur played violin at our wedding when he was still pretty young and it would have been nice to see him, but he must have run down the stairs and vanished into the mist before we got to the tower. We did run into another friend and classmate of my husband's though, so we wandered around together.
It was a foggy day on top of the mountain. As foggy as any day I remember while I was there. We headed over to the ugly McClurg Dining Hall, House of the Flying Buttresses and Phallus Palace, with an actual name reminiscent of the sound of wretching. I suppose it is some what nicer than the two different dining halls that were available when I was in college, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Nor does the number of food choices actually mean that the food had improved. I rememered why I weighed nothing during college. There was never anything I liked to eat. I need to go back to college.
The children ate though and we ran into more people we knew, including George ( a commenter here on occasion) and his lovely pregnant wife.
By the time lunch was over, it was time for my sorority alumnae tea. Yes, I was in a sorority. No, I really am not sure why. Back in my day (yes, I felt like a geezer) there were no sorority houses and so seeing one, and its location right next to another sorority that wasn't particularly beloved by mine was odd. There was only one other alum there that I knew and we chatted and admired each other's babies, but that only goes so far -- so we pressed on towards the football game.
The track has been redone and rubberized and most the path around the field has now been paved in ubiquitous aggragate concrete. During college several pairs of my shoes suffered irreparable damage when they were walked repeatedly through the gravel around the football field, so I appreciated the paving -- especially since we were pushing a stroller.
Although the general rule is that one should plan a homecoming game against a team on can beat, Sewanee decided to try the novel approach of playing a team they couldn't even score against. The day being extra blustery and foggy, so that people couldn't see the field at times probably didn't help. Not that having a losing team is really anything new. There is a reason we still brag about our team from 1899.
The halftime show deserves a blog entry of its own, but I will note that we now have all sorts of new sororities and they now nominate a Homecoming King. The fraternity and sorority awards for academic achievement don't seem to be handed out anymore.
After half-time, the fog rolled in even more thickly, we couldn't see the field and the kids were cold. So we walked over to the house of a professor who lived next to the football field to chat and warm up. After another stop at another professor's house, a stop by my old living quarter's at the German House, where a party with lots of sausages, kraut and beer was in full swing, we headed for our last stop -- the newest academic building, which used to be one of the dining halls and a dorm, where my husband lived for one year. The renovation was beautifully done inside and they even added the pitched roof that the builders had always intended but had run out of money to make years before.
On the way home, I thought the kids might sleep, but they didn't. However, they were fairly mellow. I was sore and achy from walking all day lugging a baby in a sling. I need to go into training before we go to Homecoming again.
All told though, it was a fun time and I enjoyed seeing some familiar faces and catching up with some lost acquaintances. I'm glad my husband and children indulge me and go along for these jaunts. You can't go back to college or anywhere else, but now ten years later, I can honestly say I wouldn't want to. I felt more like a real grown up after visiting Homecoming than I ever do.
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