Friday, December 5, 2008

Wishing Well

Well, it's nearly Christmas time, and for the littlies, that of course means that it's time to take the brakes off of the wanting and just let us all have it good, by compiling a list of everything earthly thing that they desire. As a kid, I thought this was a guarantor of getting more than just socks and underwear...but always felt somewhat self conscious about really letting it all hang out, so I can remember going to great lenghts to prevent my list from coming across as too obscenely know, by only asking for one pony, rather than eight.

As an adult, I have a new appreciation for this sport. It is a highly amusing look into the inner-most workings of your child's mind.

So the grandparents had all requested that they be furnished with copies of the roadmaps to the kids hearts wish lists, so I threw the task out to my offspring, and had them compile their lists. Good golly...who knew that actually charging them with this could consume almost a week of their time?? There was much gnashing of teeth, rending of clothes and careful studying of the Walmart and Target toy flyers...which were both hidden inside of Sabrina's kitchen, for fear that mommy might throw them out. Thanks goodness we didn't get the Toys R Us big book delivered!!!!!

What they delivered was beyond priceless...and as I transcribed it for the grandparents, I questioned them about some of the items on their lists...and being the horrible loving parent that I am, I added my own commentary.

Now, without further ado (or expectation on our part, for those of you who are blood related to us and thinking that this is some sort of subliminal message directed squarely at YOU...) here are the wish lists of my two darling cherubs...with some mommy commentary thrown in:

Sebastian: (Or as we shall now call him, Mr. Caviar-tastes)
Ben 10 Alien Creation chamber
Rock em Sock em Robots
Erector SpyKee Robot - ok, this thing is a bit over his is a robot that you build (which he could do with daddy) that then is controlled using the wiFi in his can record pictures, act as a surveillance system, talk to people, take pictures of them...all sorts of cool stuff...I think ultimately, daddy would enjoy this more than Sebastian
Bakugan starter kit - Apparently this is something similar to Pokemon, but with balls instead of cards? Not sure...still trying to figure out Pokemon to begin with.
Star Wars the Clone Wars action figures
Razor Power Wing Scooter - He already has a regular Razor...which he uses all the idea what the deal is with this thing.
Nintendo DS - My Sims Kingdom, Star Wars Clone Wars, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games - Sebastian really, really, REALLY wants a DS. In fact, in the original letter to Santa, the DS wanting was used almost as though it was punctuation. Daddy doesn't like the idea, because he is afraid that it will become a problem like it is with some of the other children that we have known with Gameboys and the like. Mommy is of the opinion that it is not the toy that is the problem, it is the parenting...I know *we* will not be getting him this...but I can say that this is what he wants more than anything else, and that if it were entirely up to me, he WOULD be getting it.
iDog Dance - He and Sabrina both asked for this...when asked if they understood what it was and what it does, they explained perfectly that it dances to the music played by your iPod...which neither of them which point they explained that they wanted it for me, to use with my iPod. Which is sweet...but utterly besides the point of their Christmas lists...but I just had to add this in, because it made me chuckle.
Playmobile Roman Kingdom - sort of a Lego-y thing? I think?
Lego Star Wars V-19 Torrent - This lego set would REQUIRE daddy to help's rated ages like 10 and up or something. And I say daddy because I drew the short straw for the 500+ piece pirate ship of last year...and I still have a tick from the 3+ hours it took to assemble that it's his turn.
Pokemon cards - Seriously, you can never go wrong with this. Dammit. Will the pocket monsters never go out of style???
D-Rex -This is a robotic dinosaur...a very expensive dinosaur at that. Which I suppose could run around with and eat all of the other robots that he is lusting after. Chomp, chomp, chomp...

abrina:(Little Miss "Everything on this Page")
A big soft Barbie - We got her a My Size Ballerina Barbie, but it is *not* soft...she wants one that she can sleep with. Is there such a thing? I have no clue...happy hunting. ;-)
Dora Prance n' Fly Pegasus
Stuffed animals - This is always a sure fall back with her...she loves animals, and loves plushies to sleep with...current favorites are the new edition beanie babies (called Beanie Baby 2.0), Rescue pets My ePets and the Little Pet Shop VIP's...they have codes that allow them to log into a secure site and play games with electronic versions of their toys...while their real toys sit and look on in vapid horror.
Pixos Super Studio - Some odd art type thing...but hey, it's creative...
Rose Petal Cottage - this is basically a softsided playhouse that can be set up and taken down inside the house.
Baby Alive Learns to Go Potty - OK, ewwwwww!!!! but whatever...she is a girly girl
Tini Puppini Designer Plush Puppy - A dog to dress up...because ours don't fit in any of our clothes. And don't cooperate when you try to gussy them up much beyond a bandana.
Barbie Party Cruise Playset - "Mommy, you need to use REAL WATER with this." Mommy is overjoyed.
Caring Corners Mrs. Goodbee Interactive Dollhouse - Apparently the house tells you what you need to cleanup in it for you. Mommy would like a lifesized version of this if it actually gets them to do their chores.
Bratz Dolls and Bratz World House - Uggg...these things are obnoxious...but then, in her own way, I suppose Barbie is too. I know, I'm a heretic. I guess I can't keep her 2 forever.
Littlest Pet Shop Game for the Wii - Actually,she asked for it for the DS...but she doesn't have a DS (see above). She too would love to have one, but is less concerned about it than her fact, if it weren't *for* her brother, she probably wouldn't want one.
iDog Soft Speaker - again with the things for mommy's iPod...though Sabrina isn't nearly so "really, it's for you mommy" about it...
Littlest Pet Shop Monopoly - They already have Monopoly Jr., she only wants it because it is Littlest Pet Shop.
Littlest Pet Shop Fitness Center - think dollhouse for tiny dogs and cats...only with a workout theme. At least it can't mess with her body image - right?
Ponyville Sweet Sundae Amusement Park - My Little Pony is making a comeback. And shrinking. Much like Britney Spears.
Rescue Pets Swim to Me Puppy - Her:"it actually swims to you mom!!! Just like I swim to you!!!" Me: "Again with the water???"
Lucky the Wonder Pup - This is a "magical puppy that does whatever you tell him to do"...just what the future cult leader needs to practice her minion commanding skills.
FurReal Cat - "Well mommy, your kitty is afraid of me. This one won't run away."
FurReal S'mores Pony - This is about as close to a real pony as it comes. It is a ride on, whinying, electronic monstrosity. I seem to remember Daddy buying her a large stuffed pony for Christmas when she was 2 so that when she grew up and asked him to buy her a pony, he could tell her that he already did. Apparently she wants an upgrade.

So there you have it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My New Voicemail Message - In Open Letter Format

Dear Democratic Party,

If you are calling to badger me, yet again, about my choice of presidential candidate, please let me reiterate to you that I am voting for Obama...just as I was at 9AM, 11:30AM, 1:45PM, 3:20PM and at 4:45PM when you sent someone knocking on my door. I have been planning on voting for Obama since the moment that I knew the alternative. I even *voluntarily* put a (now purloined) Obama sign on my front lawn. (Granted, at least 60% of the reason that I did this was to needle my Republican friends, but still!) For heaven sake, stop stalking my vote.

I would like to ask though, that the dogged determination that you are displaying to check my position on the election be carried over, into the presidential term. It is my fondest wish to have a president that is as concerned about my opinion on the War in Iraq, the Bail out of the Banks and Gay Marriage as you are about my own, single, solitary, PRIVATE vote. Such an administration would truly be an inspiration and lend us all the sense that change was actually possible and on the horizon...I for one would gladly lay down my life for such a Commander in Cheif. If however, the calls stop on Wednesday morning, I have to admit, that I will feel sort of like the cheerleader that puts out on the first date...and then never gets a second call.

Yours Truly,
Duchess Pandora


For those of you following the epic battle of the girl-child's education, mark one in my column!

Today, while at the boy's school, we were in the copy room, making booklets for the class. These booklets are actually small books, called "Decodable Readers", that all of the first graders get every couple of days, to read in class. We discovered, a couple of weeks ago, that Sabrina is more than capable of reading these.

Today, we were reading the spellbinding "Wake up Nate!". Or rather, Sabrina was. Loudly. Well, who should walk in at that very moment but the principle of the school "Dr. FancyPants". This would be the same educator that assured me that making her wait would be better because that way she would be at the top of her class. And that I would be glad that we did when we get an extra year of having her at home before she leaves for college. And that he did it for his daughter, so it should be good enough for her too.

Well, he walked in and heard her reading, and commented, "Wow, that is some mighty good reading you are dong - how old are you?"

Sabrina: "I'm 5. And I go to kindergarten at home, with Mama."

DFP: "Oh, umm, I see..." looking at me, as it registers that I obviously have one child *in* school so there must be a reason that I am homeschooling this one "Wh-wh-what is your plan?"

Me: (heh, heh, heh...I have been WAITING for this very moment for MONTHS) "Well, you and I have exchanged NUMEROUS e-mails about this. She missed the cutoff by a couple of days...and her pre-school didn't want her to come back, because she is so beyond their curriculum. So I bought as much of the same curriculum as you used with my son, last year in Kindergarten and am using it with her, at home. We would like to have her in First Grade next year."

DFP: "Hmm, I ah, well, I think we will have to check with the Assistant Superintendent to see...I don't know if we ever thought about homeschool as being an acceptable, accredited school to substitute for Kindergarten...when is her birthday?"

Me: "September 12."

DFP: "Oh, well, my daughter was September 4th, and she was reading like well, maybe like this..."

Me:"Those are first grade books she is reading."

DFP:"Oh...well...umm...keep me posted on this..."

At which point he beat a hasty retreat back into his office. The look on his face said it ALL. He clearly knows she should be in Kindergarten now that he has met her, and seen her in action...if he had ever bothered to meet her when I first contacted him and asked him to, then we wouldn't be where we are today...but he didn't...and now he is going to have to explain to the school board why a homeschooler is challenging to be let into 1st grade on his watch.

The moral of the story?

Don't fuck with the mommy. She plays to win.


Somebody actually stole the Obama sign right out of my front yard. I don't even know what to say about that.

My kids are convinced that John McCain took it.

Sarah Palin *was* here last week to speak at the college...but I doubt there is a real connection.

Monday, October 27, 2008

On Raising a Tiny Vigilante

My son is a good boy, with a big, tender heart. He is whip-smart, funny and aims to make people happy. He is the kind of kid that will play with anyone, regardless of what they look like, how they have treated him before or whether or not everyone else is playing with that person. He is also quick to root for the underdog, and anxious to defend the weak. Like I said, he is a good boy. And I am very proud of him.

Like all kids though, he makes bad choices sometimes, and gets in trouble...which is today's overly PC euphemism for "being a little punkass". When he is at home, we can and do closely monitor what he is doing, so that we can guide and advise him for or against certain actions (read tell him "knock it off, right now, or I will auction you off on eBay") and decide on appropriate punishments for his various "crimes" ("You are grounded until your grown-up teeth are all in!"). At school on the otherhand, we are at the mercy of the teacher's rules.

Sebastian's classroom, like so many today, uses a card system to track and quantify behavior. If a child keeps all of their cards on a given day, they did well. If they lost all 3, they are on a one-way trip to juvy hall, or worse, the principal's office. I've never been a big fan of this format that starts every child out, everyday, being the best that they can possibly be, and giving them nowhere to go from there but down. But it is not my classroom, and I understand that my role, as a parent, requires me to show a unified front with his teacher. I would much rather let my child start out each day with a clean, neutral slate, which he can then improve upon. But maybe that's just me. Either way, it is what it is, and I am along for the ride, whether I get car sick or not.

Sebastian has been losing cards. Almost everyday he loses at least one. And he will get off the bus, shoulders slumped, hang dog expression pasted on his face, upset to report back that, yet again, he has been judged a "bad seed". See the thing is, in this color-coded, card stock brand of justice is all crimes are judged the same. There is no "misdemeanor" versus "felony" level of misbehavin'. You do exactly what you are told, or you will lose a card. And if you lose said card, there is no defense. You are guilty. You are wrong. You are bad.bad.bad. Reading a book while the teacher is talking? Bad. Lose a card. Throw a pencil at someone's head, because you don't like them? Bad. Lose a card. Help a classmate tie their shoe, when you are supposed to be sitting at your desk? Bad. Lose a card. Call someone a retard, and make them cry? Bad. Lose a card. ...Now, again, maybe it is just me, but I tend to think that some of those things are worse than others. I also think it is an odd message that we are sending to our shoelace tying friends about the inherent "rightness" of being altruistic. Personally, I think first grade is a bit young to be learning that no good deed goes unpunished. And as for the "no ifs, ands or buts about it" aspect? I think it is a bizarre lesson to teach in the land of "innocent until proven guilty."

So, the litany of his sins?

  • Monday: He lost a card for finishing all the sheets in his packet for that week, even thought they had only been assigned the first one.
  • Tuesday: He had his hat pulled down over his head and was pretending he couldn't see anyone as he was sitting at his desk, waiting for his bus number to be called.
  • Wednesday: He blew his pencils off of his desk, and onto the floor during reading time. He had finished his work.
  • Thursday: He was seen tackling another child to the ground.
  • Friday: He kept all of his cards.

As the parent, trying to show the unified front, I have to attach some consequence to these transgressions, but really? Sometimes I just don't see the point in meting out further punishment for a crime that, well, I don't really understand as so wrong in the first place.

So what can I, as a parent, do to ensure that my child doesn't become a"good, card keeping at all costs" citizen, who in order to keep those precious cards looks out for only number one? And almost as importantly, what can I do , without totally subverting the rules of the classroom? The answer that I ahve come up with is simple: I talk to my kid...which I would have done anyway. Rules are rules, and if you break the classroom rules, you have to bear the punishment. If the rule that you break in the classroom is *also* a family or house rule, there will be further consequences at home.

So the day that he did all of the work? We told him that he couldn't have any candy. That was all. To us? To me? To our way of thinking? This was a stupid thing to punish him for. He gets the work, he knows how to do it, he just wants to be done.

The day with the hat? No candy...but really? I bet it was pretty funny.

The day day that he blew his pencils on the floor? No candy and no dessert...he was distracting the class and being us, that doesn't fly.

So you can imagine that, the day that he came home and had to tell me about tackling another boy, that he was quaking in his boots. And I am sure that you would guess that the punishment was more severe...and it would have been...except for this:

"Why did you tackle "little Johnny", who is 6 inches shorter than you? "
"Because he was kicking "Mikey" and throwing his notebook away from him, so that he couldn't finish his work."

My little vigilante...he was doing the wrong thing, but for the right reason. And the real rub? "Little Johnny" is one of his best buddies. "Mikey"? "Mikey" has been known to push Sebastian in line and take the ball from him on the playground. Even though he doesn't truly *like* Mikey, he knew that what Johnny was doing was wrong, and he did what he could to stop it.We talked him through it, and explained the concept. And then hugged him, and told him that although using his words, and telling a grown-up would have been a better choice, we were proud of him for looking out for another person. That doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason will always get him in trouble, but doing the wrong thing for the right reason, when he has no other choice...well, that is a different thing altogether.

Now I guess we just have to order him up his very own "Bat Symbol".

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Because He Is My Son...

When asked at a recent Cub Scout meeting to tell what his favorite "Healthy Food" is, the boy reported back:

"Chicken Cordon Bleu".

When asked to tell one thing about himself, he answered:

"I'm responsible."

Um, yeah...that's my boy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Back to Cool

The boy has been back to school now for a month and a half. Since I am home right now, I have been taking advantage of the opportunity to volunteer in his classroom. This has several perks: I get to see my little guy for a few hours, a couple of days a week; I get a taste of what the girl child will need to know in order to succeed in 1st grade next year and so, have been able to modify her homeschool curriculum ever so slightly; I get to see how his days go; I get first crack at going on field trips, and lastly but certainly far from leastly, the girl child gets some experience with being in a classroom setting.

All in all it has been a pretty fun little activity, and has really made me wish that I had pursued a teaching certification when I was in college. I really enjoy being in the class with these kids. The thing is, it has also brought me face to face with some of the very real challenges in education today.

There are 22 cherubs in the boy's 1st grade class. And there is one teacher. I know that there are districts with worse ratios, but I don't live in those for now, for this post, they are not my concern. Of the 22 cherubs, there are at least 4 distinct groups: children that are not sure where they are or why they are there; children who know where they are and wish that they were anywhere else; children that are fully cooperative and fully engaged, and children that are bored to tears waiting for the other groups to catch up. And 1 teacher left to try and provide all that these diverse groups need simultaneously. Which is impossible. Which is why, I suppose, my offer to help out was jumped on like a hooker in prison. While the teacher works with the kids who are "above grade level", I can herd the stragglers back to their seats and help them understand what they are supposed to be doing. While the teacher works with the children who are struggling so, I can prevent the small geniuses from plotting the overthrow of the classroom, and instead point them in the direction of the books.

Within each of these groups, there is an amazing study in human behavior and psychology happening. Of the lost little lambs there is one who continually gets up and wanders about the room, looking blankly around continually confused as to why she is being shown back to her seat. There is another who stares in wonder at his classmates and continually asks when his mom is going to pick him up. The rest are clearly going through the motions, much as a tourist does in a foreign country, when they don't speak the language...they look for cues from their peers, and laugh and react in kind with what they see...but have no idea why they are doing it.

At the other end of the spectrum the boredom is being handled in a number of ways as well: one child just calls out the answers when his classmates are struggling to speak it. Another looks for ways to entertain himself which, being a six year old boy means making loud noises and generally being a pest...which lands him in the principal's office at least once a week. Another sits quietly and politely there, making more of the work than is really required, but hey it's better than being bored - right?

I don't really remember my first couple of years in school comprehensively enough to know whether or not this is how it always was, but I know that starting in about 3rd or 4th grade I was always in a class with children who were very "similarly skilled" with me; AKA the Gifted Class.

I realize now what a saving grace that was. There are educators and philosophies that state that classroom leveling is wrong! All wrong!! for kid's proper social development, but now, more than ever, I disagree. While the more average students might not get the push from the above average crowd, the slower group doesn't get lost in the shuffle. And those above average kids? They get better challenges and learn to think independently, rather than being forced to quell their innate curiosity and learn to shuffle along obediently with the herd. Or become regulars in the principals office.

Now, I know that parent's can have their child tested for the gifted program, starting in the 3rd grade, but I also know that this is a once a week, 2 hour respite from the doldrums for the kids that qualify. In my humble opinion, that is not enough. 2 hours out of 27 and a half hours in a school week is less than 10% of their time.

I am not sure what all of the arguments against leveling are, but I know that alot of it has to do with this "no one can lose" mentality that is so widespread when it comes to our kids. Wanting to keep everyone together and not make anyone feel "less special" seems to me to be a disservice to those kids who are MORE special - in either sense of the phrase. And it is not a realistic portrayal of what is to come in the real world. In the real world, there are rewards for achievement - not punishments. In the real world, if you get your work done quickly, you don't have to sit around and wait to do anything else until everyone else catches up. Or if you do have to wait, it is temporary, as that kind of performance will merit a promotion. Likewise, if you continually fall behind, there are consequences. If we don't clue kids in to that early, that there are rewards attached to succeeding, then what is the motivation to succeed? If we don't show those that demonstrate more limited academic prowess that there are other areas that they can excel at what are we doing to their spirit?

I am sure that there are reasons that I don't see...and I am not about to try and overthrow the district but I can say that I feel much more understanding about any "behavioral infractions" that might come home with my children. (My most eye opening moment to date was when a child had to pull one of their behavior cards for the day because they went ahead in the work and did the next set of problems in the math lesson, before the class was working on it. If I was a student today I would probably be expelled, as I finished my texbook in November...)

And the boy child? How does he fare in all this? Let's just say that I am just glad that I have the opportunity to be there and help keep the ants in his pants from getting the better of him, while he waits for the rest of the class to figure out that d-o-g spells dog.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Vacation Is Over

OK, ok, technically vacation has been over for almost 2 months. And I never really let anyone know that I was taking a vacation per say...and it sort of seems odd to be taking a vacation from something that isn't particularly taxing to begin with, but I did it anyway. I'm such a Maverick.

Truth of the matter is that I had no concept of how busy I would be with nothing to do. And 2 to 4 kids doing that nothing with me at all times. Really? It was more of a full time, full tilt, balls-to-the-walls, go-go-go than any job could ever hope to be. Or at least any job that I have had. Especially for the pay.

Now school is back in. The boy is in first grade, and three days a week so are the girl child and I. And the rest of the time, we are doing homeschool kindergarten. And PTO stuff. And ballet. And soccer. And Cub Scouts. And I have never used my planner as much as I have in the last 2 months. I chuckle thinking back on how I used to obediently carry it from meeting to meeting with me in the office. You'd think I had something hard to keep track of going on the way that I clutched that thing to me for all of those years. Truth be told, it was more an accessory than anything. Now? Now that I am home and have two active children? Now it is a tool. An indispensable, mission critical, absolutely necessary tool.

We recently celebrated the girl's 5th birthday with a Puppy Party. It was probably our most successful shindig to date, other than the Pirate Party. And maybe even moreso. Because almost every parent there commented that this is something I should be doing for a living after this party. Whereas all they said after the Pirate Party was something to the effect of "Thanks, now my kid's party is going to suck." Course, none of them offered to hire me to plan their party...apparently I should be doing this for a living for someone else. Which stinks. Because I would love to plan parties for someone and then have me pay them. I just have no idea how to convince people that a kick ass party is a worthwhile investment. Especially in this area. I mean, this isn't exactly Beverly Hills 90210. And with the economy being what it is, what are the odds that there are buckets of people chomping at the bit to throw an elaborate child's birthday bash.

In unrelated events I am fascinated by the hysterical historical electoral proceedings that are going down. This has seriously got to be one of the most compelling elections that I have ever witnessed. We have some hard choices and frightening options spread out before us. Nevermore has the phrase "lesser of two evils" been applicable than now...and never before have I felt a greater need to vote defensively...I'm not truly, wholeheartedly voting for one candidate, I am voting against the other. I think one has to truly examine the running mates in this election, because both candidates (unfortunately) have about the same odds of surviving in office. One because of age, and the other because (again, unfortunately) there are still loons out there that might shoot him down in a fit of racism. If that were to happen, what does that leave us with? A Hockey mom who has more greatly polarized women than any other single issue in my lifetime - which is saying alot, because us women? We can be a divisive lot...I dare you, just dare you to walk into a salon and proclaim that breast is best...or that a woman's place is in control...just watch what happens - or Biden, who tends to be a bit of a loose canon. Unfortunately, voting for "C. None of the above" does nothing more than negate your vote altogether. I really want a candidate that I can stand behind and cheer on to victory. I am a Dem at heart, but I cannot agree to all that I hear from Obama...I don't however feel the luxury of taking an "all or nothing" stance, so it's going to have to be a "better than nothing" decision instead.

How about you?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Great Equalizer

Over the summer, one of our constant "slacker" activities was the community pool. Without fail, every time that the hubbers would call and find out that we were at the pool the name calling would commence. And not just from him. He would get all of his co-workers in on it too. Apparently they thought I was there just working on my tan...apparently none of them have been to a pool with two children under the age of 7 lately...let alone 4 children under the age of 7. It is a constant exercise in vigilance. "where is Sabrina?" "Is Sebastian running?" "Does he look like he is getting a little sunburned?" "Is she shivering?" "Is there a logical reason that this pool is like an ice bath all day, every day?"...that and of course the constant female concern of "Am I the fattest, oldest mom here?" "Do I look as bad as her in that suit?" "Will I ever wear a bikini again?"... There was also the back breaking work of cponverting 2 non-swimmers into proficient little fishies. It was with no small amount of pride that we closed out the summer as a family of 4 swimmers.

In the midst of all this frantic and repetitive thought and direction came an interesting realization:

Kids today are alot different than they were back in the day.

Our youth is much more mature, much more savvy, much more entitled and much less "child-like" than I remember us being...until you dunk them in the water.

At the pool, nobody is the poor kid...or the geeky kid...or ironically enough, even the fat kid. At the pool, you play with whomever is there. Nobody has a nicer cellphone than you do, and no one has a higher score on their DS, because in the water, those things get WET and FIZZLE and DON'T WORK! In the water, sullen mini-adults, who are usually strutting their stuff and trying to be way more alluring and provocative than their years should allow jump and splash around like the 12, 13 and 14 year olds that they really are. Tweens that are usually trying to channel Miley Cyrus or some such thing are squeezing their eyes shut, reaching their arms out and calling "Marco???"

This reflection set me very much at ease. I looked around at all of the young, wet people and saw only what summer was meant to be, breathless, waterlogged, carefree fun.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

She's a Genius!!!

I know I am a proud parent. I usually try to temper my opinion of my kids with a healthy dose of skepticism about how smart they are, realizing full well that all parents think that their children are prodigies. Having said that...Sabrina is a genius.

Sebastian has always shown academic promise and prowess. Heck, by the end of Kindergarten, he was working on fractions, contractions and compound words, which I have come to understand is would you say?...normal. We knew before he started school that he would do well, as he easily and quickly "got" just about anything we threw at him. Our biggest concern had to do with how he would handle boredom when the other children in his class were learning the things that he already knew.

Sabrina on the other hand has always been more laid back in the area of academia, choosing instead to apply her efforts to social skills that will serve her well in her quest for world domination. She's not going to take control by force, it will be by charm alone. Apparently she has decided that her work there is done for now. Within the last couple of weeks, I have seen her inner reader emerge at break neck speed. It started with the sight words that she knew, from pre-school...anywhere that she would see "can", "was", "it", "the", she would proudly proclaim she started to make the letter sounds of anything that she saw in front of her...usually at the top of her lungs and to the great amusement of anyone that was around. Mothers, fathers, grandmothers and Uncles all would stop to praise the precious little peanut that was working so hard to sound out c-e-r-e-a-l in aisle 4. This attention of course did not go unnoticed, and must have given her a bright idea, because now she is putting the sounds together and forming her words. This week she has read 6 Dick and Jane stories and is starting to branch out to slightly more complicated books. And oh yeah, in case you weren't keeping score, she is 4.

Wow. For just this moment, I have taken my Jade colored classes off and am proudly sporting a rosier child is a GENIUS. My two little geniuses are sitting at the dining room table, reading their respective library books...and I couldn't be prouder.

Of course, this again raises the question, what the heck am I going to do with her for a whole year while she waits to be "old enough" and therefore "ready" to go to Kindergarten???

I need some good info on homeschooling STAT!

Finally Cashing In On Reproducing...

Last night the incredible, the wonderful, the long awaited happened...I was folding laundry and the girl child asked if she could I lobbed a cloth napkin in her direction and said "Have at it!" Moments later she held it up for me to see, "Here Mama!" and there it was. A perfectly folded napkin, that *I* did not fold. That is a first in our house. I clapped enthusiastically...perhaps more so even than I did at her recital, and presented her with more to fold.

Finally, someone else can help with the laundry! I don't know as I have ever been prouder....

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sabrina on Bats

"Fruit Bats eat fruit, Vampire Bats eat butter."

And now you know.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm SOOO Mature....

I stumbled upon this nifty site that will gauge the reading level needed to understand your blog...I know, just what I need, something else to fret over...anyway, because I am terribly predictable and clearly a bit narcissistic, I plugged in the url for this here blog 'o mine and was slightly dismayed when I learned that my ramblings clock in at a tepid "Junior High School" reading level. I quickly changed the screen, lest anyone else (read: Tim) amble by, look over my shoulder and scoff at my pimply faced writing...then clicked back and typed in the url of a few of my favorites.

Boy was I relieved and somewhat smug to learn that the Godmother of Blogging, Dooce, scrapes by at a paltry Elementary level!

So, what that means is yeah for you, gentle reader, is that you could totally read some of the Babysitter's Club or Sweet Valley High series! And with little to no difficulty! Just don't try to bust out with some Tolstoy, or we might both be in trouble.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Kindergartner No More

Congratulation my little man, on finishing your first year of school. Hard to believe that it has been a whole school year already! You are now officially a first grader!!! And it is now officially summer vacation...and you two are now officially stuck home with mommy, all day, every day until September.

Heaven help us all.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

If a Dog Could Be Nominated for Sainthood

Yesterday was a fun day at the old Boyum Ranch...the boy woke up crying that his tummy hurt, so he stayed home.

We kept it nice and quiet, with the boy laying on the couch watching me go through the paces on Wii Fit (more on that later) and Anya, my trusty Husky/Shepherd mix, laying on the floor, directly below him.

All of a sudden I heard a noise, and the dog jumped up and started running around in circles. I looked over and the boy said, "I threw up." I saw the pile on the rug, so I sent him to the bathroom to rinse out his mouth and proceeded to grab the garbage can and paper towels to get up the big stuff and the carpet shampooer to get the rest. After all was restored I gave the boy a bucket and prepared to get back to my Yoga...and the dog ran by again, looking anxious.

I turned to tell her to calm down, when I noticed that the boy had thrown up ALL OVER her back...and she was trying to get at it, but couldn't reach it. After I got done laughing my ass off, I cleaned her which point she went right back over to the boy, licked his hand and laid back down below him.

I don't know that I would have forgiven him so fast.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mystery Solved...

We have located at least one of the other chicks...apparently they haven't gone far...

It is entirely fascinating to me how quickly they have gone from ugly jelly bean birds to fairly self-sufficient creatures. Really impressive.

Now I am ready for them to GO AWAY.

No more bird poop please.

Monday, June 2, 2008

What's the Big Hairy Deal?

As I think I have mentioned, or at the very least alluded to, we have 3 rather large dogs. All of whom are at least 50% husky. All of whom are keenly intent on shedding as much of their hair onto my floors, clothes and furniture as is canine-ly possible. Anyone who has ever had or read about a husky knows that 2 times a year they lose the soft downy undercoat in an extravaganza that has been affectionately dubbed a "Blow-Out". Unlike the usual, year round shedfest, the blowout involves massive patches of hair just falling off like some cartoon version of hair leprosy.

Seriously, cautionary tales of what a mangy mutt might look like have NOTHING on what a Husky mid-blowout looks like.

During this festival of fur dropping my vacuum never gets put away. Instead it is called to duty 3-4 times a day.

Happily we are passed the summer blowout session and I have been able to trim back my vacuuming to once a day.

Until yesterday.

I had read about some magical tool, called a FURminator on a couple of weeks ago. Dooce went on to extoll it's virtues after using it on her trusty pooch, Chuck. Although I was impressed with her enthusiasm I was lukewarm about the product since Chuck is a short haired, sleek looking pup, rather than a great fuzzy beast like our pack.

Yesterday I was over at a friend's mother's house for a girly activity and was admiring how hair-free her floors were, despite the fact that she has a rather long haired golden retriever. Well, out she pops with the FURminator and explains that this marvelous tool was the key to her hair free floors.

I "Oooo'ed". I "Ahhh'ed". I inquired where I could obtain such a magical instrument. And then I found out the cost. $60 for a doggy brush. For reals. I was crushed. There was NO WAY that my husband would EVER green light such an extravagant expense for grooming...not when he already spent $500+ on my Dyson Animal so that I would have the suction needed to clean the hair up in the first place.

So, while I sat there, considering which organ I could best do without in order to sell it on the black market and gain the proceeds needed to purchase this magical item, she popped out with another one, which she had been planning to give to my friend. My friend, being wise enough to recognize the look of desire in my eyes generously invited me to take it home and give it a test drive...all I can say is WOW.

Seriously folks, this thing ROCKS. The dogs aren't real impressed, but DAMN the hair it gets out. And for the first time, EVER, I can pet the dogs without being covered in their hair. Of course I have been running the vacuum cleaner about every 5 minutes to collect the gigantic piles of hair that I have been brushing off our dogs, but I feel very confident that I will be able to step back my usual efforts to once every other day or so once I have finished torturing them. And then I suppose I will have to give it to my friend. Because I would very much like her to remain my friend. And she too deserves a hairfree house.

And Then There Was One...

I found a better, clearer picture of the ugly featherless cherubs from the day they were hatched...curiously enough, this one was taken with our old, point and shoot camera, whereas the other was taken with our nice, expensive SLR...which I couldn't get to focus on the babies to save my life...

See what I mean?

Anyway that was taken on May 23rd.

These are from today...and only one of them is still in the nest...and the nest is decidedly un-nest-like now. I had no idea that they grew up so quickly...again, these were taken with the old point and shoot...

Can it really be that they have left the nest so early? That amazes me...and is a relief. Though Mama Bird and I had come to a grudgingly peaceful coexistence I was *not* loving the bird crap on the porch...and she was equally unfond of the frequent powerwashing of the porch to remove said crap that I was doing. Once this last one leaves I can ponder replacing the plants in my hanging baskets as the Robin Ordeal has killed off my fuscias. Mama killed the one with the nest, and what I can only presume was Daddy Bird killed off the one next to it by constantly hanging out in it. Sadly the third one, on the end, died of neglect, because I just couldn't bring myself to deal with that one when the other two were beyond rescue...anyway, another chapter ends...wonder what is on the next page.

Friday, May 30, 2008

WOW! They were WAAAYYYY cuter when they were just eggs

I mean seriously? If baby humans came out looking like this, Canon, Nikon and Shutterfly would go out of business!

Sort of takes the whole "You lucky bitch, all you had to do was sit on the egg and your baby came out..." and puts it into perspective. Incidentally a few days later I walked out to find that one of them was out of the nest and in a basket that I had out on the porch with Christmas lights in it. I suited up in rubber gloves and put it back in the nest without further incident...but I couldn't help wonder, did you jump cause you're fugly little bird or do you truly have a face that not even your mother can love?

Monday, May 26, 2008

It Ain't Easy Being Green...But It's Worth It

I have been reading alot lately about the damage that we are doing to our childrens' planet and frankly it makes me sad. Sad because it is so selfish. Sad because it is so ugly. And sad because the odds of everyone doing their part to make a difference are so slim as to be nearly non-existent.

Having said that, I personally am going to try to do my part. Slowly but surely we will get our family there, if not the world.

A couple of weeks ago I made my first move in this direction by getting a bunch of reusable tote bags to use for shopping. I am proud to say that, in the last month I have only introduced 2 plastic bags into the house. I try to remember to bring at least one of my reusable totes with me anywhere I go, but as with all new behaviors, sometimes I forget.

The next item I tackled was to reduce the amount of garbage going out by eliminating paper plates and napkins from our daily lives. I have had cloth napkins since long before I even met my husband. And when we were first together, we used them. Then we had children, and as any parent knows a small child requires multiple napkins for a meal. Our children were no different...although perhaps our son was a bit extreme - that boy wiped his face and tongue after every.single.bite. and he couldn't stand to have anything saucy or sticky or even wet on his he would go through literally a dozen napkins in a sitting. Paper quickly became a more practical or at least convenient alternative. Fast forward 6 years, and our children are big enough to use a napkin properly and aside from the occasional spill, only require 1 to get through a meal tidily. So I pulled out all of the old cloth napkins and we haven't looked back since. We now use washable plates for each meal as well. While we have to run the dishwasher a bit more frequently, we are throwing away much less. And in response to the increased usage of the dishwasher we are no longer using the heat dry cycle.

Something about doing the right thing is sort of addictive, because my next target was the excess packaging that I was bringing into the house weekly in the name of portion control for my children. They love those little jello and pudding cups. As I was putting them away one day it occurred to me that I had a bunch of small tupperware containers with lids that were about that size. So I traded in the $3.00 6-packs for $.59 boxes of jello and pudding mix and now make my own. As an added bonus the kids love the expanded selection that they get and enjoy being able to help make their own snacks.

The kids and I also got together and planted a pretty ambitious vegetable garden this year. Last year was the first time that I had ever had a garden and I was delighted with how easy it was and how big our bounty was. We had potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, peppers and green beans. Lots of them. We gave most of it away, and froze what we could, but it felt good and was so yummy to eat foods that we had grown ourselves. The kids loved being able to harvest food and learned alot about the growth cycle of plants. This year we dropped the potatoes and added corn, peas, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, carrots and broccoli. So far everything is sprouting and, if we can just find a way to keep the bunnies at bay, we should be able to get a good way through the summer and fall months without having to buy any veggies.

My next goal is to start using less gas for in town travels. We live literally a quarter mile from our grocery store and 1 mile from my daughter's preschool. We all have bicycles. We are all healthy people. So why are we always piling into our car to go a distance that doesn't even allow for a single song to play out on the cd player? I have one of those kid trailers for the bike and the more I think about it, the more it seems like I should just use it to bring my daughter to and from school. And while I am at it, I could probably stop at the grocery store and put the groceries in it on the way home. I say probably to all of this because I haven't tackled this one yet, but I plan to. Soon.

Baby steps, they are each small and won't be enough to swing the fate of our planet on their own, but they certainly can't hurt. So what things has your family done to reduce the refuse? I'd love to hear some more ideas.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm Still Not Convinced

So I have made exactly ZERO headway on my campaign to get Sabrina into Kindergarten in the fall. It is roadblock after roadblock, deaf ear after deaf ear. There are NO exceptions. After months of trying to find someone who would listen I finally started to think that maybe another year at home wouldn't be so bad for her...maybe she could use some more time to get ready...

Then the other day, at Giant, she started reading the signs in the deli case. She asked me what the big Boar's Head sign said, and after I had read it to her, she went through, picked out all of the words that she new and started sounding out the others. The deli counter worker looked over as she was sounding out "ff"-"iiii" - "lll" - "lll" - "eeehhh" - "rrrrr" - "sssss". "FILLERS!!!! Mama, it says fillers!" The deli worker said "Wow, did you stay home from school today?" Sabrina said "No, I go to preschool." The deli worker looked at me and said "Wow." Sigh...

At the library today I was chatting with one of the other moms - all hail the mighty bangs, bringer of female companionship and conversation - about Sabrina and her readiness for Kindergarten. This mom's boy, who we shall call Eldon for the sake of anonymity, is going to be headed off to Kindergarten in the fall. He's ready she says, though he is still a bit shy. Ummm, the child has spent every one of the last 12 weeks of story time HIDING behind her legs. The poor thing is going to stroke out when he has to get on the bus and go to school with no legs to hide behind. When I told her that Sabrina misses the cut off she just gawked and said "Well what are you going to do with her next year?" I lamely said "Ummm...well...I guess send her to preschool again."

There has got to be a better answer than that. I really need to find a decent homeschool curriculum. Something. I can't just let her stagnate for a year. But then if I do push her some more, what happens in fall of 2009 when she *is* allowed to go to Kindergarten? Will she be bored to tears? Or do I have her tested for 1st grade and have her miss out on the whole Kindergarten experience? Argh, argh, argh.

Anyone have a magic eightball with the answers that they would like to share?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Can People Get Moldy?

Goodness but it has been rainy lately. We have had to reschedule rescheduled soccer games because our rain date got rained out. We are on super high alert for any water entering our basement. Raincoats and umbrellas have become our uniform. And "When is it going to warm up and be spring?" has become my husband's mantra. Also, all of this liquid sunshine is totally derailing my attempts at becoming more physically fit as well. I am committed, but not so committed as to be willing to walk the dogs in the rain. In the rain I figure it is better if they go in the back yard and walk themselves.

Mother's Day was nice. Kind of rainy, but nice. I had the whole day off and fully took advantage of it. Every time the kids said "I'm hungry" I said "I'm off, talk to daddy about it." And then started cackling maniacally. The hubbers gave me a wonderful new camera that is so fancy schmancy that I feel like I should be selling the images. Or at least I should if I ever find someone that really has a burning desire to buy pictures of my plants, dogs and children.

Say it with me now....





I can totally feel a future for me as a sports photo journalist for the pee wee leagues:

Seriously though, not too much else going on here. I just wish it would stop raining. What's new in your world?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Did You Know That They Make Showgirl's in Pint Size?

So, last week was National Dance Week. Did you know? Were you all a twitter with excitement? Did you even know that such a week existed? Yeah, me neither...

In honor of the highly anticipated, week long homage to the art of visual music, our tiny dancer took to the stage of our local mall and wowed the crowd with her relative lack of rhythm, coordination and timing. She comes by this naturally. As a small child, taking ballet, I was awful. So awful that my mother has often recounted to me the tale of watching my recital and having the parent next to her point me out and say "Well, at least my kid is better than that one." To which she of course had no choice but to say something to the effect of "Yes, at least you can hold on to that...course when she's not dancing, my kid is waaay cuter than yours."..Ok, she probably didn't say that, but I am sure she wanted soon as she got done hiding under a rock and exercising her right to the plausible deniability that her blond hair and blue eyes lent her in regards to her green eyed, raven haired progeny. Honestly though, what she lacked in coordination she more than made up for in enthusiasm. And cuteness. Seriously, doesn't this level of cuteness just sort of give you a tooth ache?

As for the showgirl costume, we parents were given no say so in these sassy little, one shouldered numbers...all we were given was the bill. Had I know that my $69 wasn't even buying me two shoulders, I probably would have insisted on a discount. Of course, they did throw in the feathers for free. And after the recital is over we can send her off to Vegas to recoup the cost. I hear the market for pint sized chorus line rejects is hot.

I Lose...

This must be part of that whole survival of the fittest thing that Darwin was so keen on...apparently if stubbornness and persistence were the only deciding factors in evolution the Robin would be driving a Lexus and I would be extinct.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The New Hair-do

A few months back I posted about my apparent lack of attractiveness to other mommy types in the area. This phenomenon has continued to plague me and has in fact become a source of humor and endless jokes around the house, and with the one friend that I had successfully managed to not frighten away. It appears however that, at long last, I have discovered the key...unlocked the door...crossed some sort of bridge...and all it took was a haircut. Who knew?

For years I have toyed with the idea of cutting bangs to my long, mainly one length hair...and for years, I have chickened out. The excuses were many...I have a small forehead...they might curl up like the wicked witch's feet after the ruby slippers were removed...I'll look'll be too much upkeep...blah, blah and more blah.

Finally, last night I succumbed to temptation and had my hair wizard - and really, she *is* a wizard at the very least - add a frontal fringe to my look. And then, since I was being so "Devil-may-care", I told her to go ahead and style it wavy, rather than torturing her with another marathon, hours long straightening session. Because I am charitable that way. It's just the kind of girl I am.

The resulting look is a huge change from 24 hours ago. And apparently has worked some sort of magic trick.

We had story time at the library today...and one of the other mothers actually started a conversation with me. Willingly. Then, in the craft room, another mother smiled at me. Wow. I checked to make sure that there was no one behind me - all there was were books. Then, at ballet tonight 2 separate moms struck up conversations with me...fairly long conversations...and during one of them, another mom even jumped in and joined in the fun. It was amazing...people actually talking to me. Tomorrow I think I may try hang gliding.

I jest...but truly this is something of a milestone...a miracle...a turning point I daresay. And apparently all it took was bangs. Who knew?

I guess any fool could have told me that this:

Is way scarier than this:

Monday, May 5, 2008

Take No Prisoners

Recently my mom and step-dad visited for the weekend. We had a perfectly pleasant time and it was nice visiting...and of course, their visit also brought some funny along with it:

One night, my step-dad was wearing a Sweatshirt that said "Proud to be a veteran". After working long and hard to sound the words out, the kids looked at me and asked "What's a veteran?". Since I am always quick to pass the buck on explaining things I offered "Why don't you ask Nanny?" To which Nanny deftly explained what a veteran is and illustrated the point by saying "Nanny is a veteran because she was in the Navy and Poppy is a veteran because he was in the Army." Sabrina seemed satisfied with this answer....Sebastian on the other hand immediately looked concerned and said "Poppy, did you survive??"

Umm...I swear he's bright, really.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

And Just Like That, I’m OLD…

Ring, ring…

Me: “Hello?”

Little voice: “Is Sebastian at home?”

Me: “Yes…”

Little voice: “Can I please speak to him?”

Me: “Uhhh…sure…who’s calling?”

Little voice: “This is Rob.”

When did he get big enough to be getting his own phone calls?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Of All the Bird Brained...

Hello bloggy friends...I know I have been a bad girl as of late and haven't checked in with anything in quite some time...truth be told, the spring weather inspired me to try out something actually getting a life. My expanding rump forced me to admit to myself that I was becoming something of a slacker. I was spending waaay more time than I can quite bring myself to admit simply surfing the internet, looking for something interesting to read. Meanwhile I was getting precious little accomplished other than eating too much and cleaning. So. I decided enough of that, and have been limiting myself to about 1 hour a day. And I have been walking with one of the dawgs every morning. For about 2 miles. Which feels good. And I am hoping will do more to curb my squishy tush than the simple act of counting calories has been doing. Aside from that I have been mowing the lawn and gardening and just trying to be active. Yeah for warmer temperatures!

Course spring has brought with it a new challenge...and I am reaching out to you - all 3 of you - (see I am giving ALL of you props now, instead of just mom) for some advice.

Our home has a lovely front porch. One which I have been dying to be able to sit out on and leisurely watch my kids from for the last nearly 2 years. Every spring and fall I have hung flower baskets and then promptly forgotten to do anything like water them...resulting in some luscious dead plants. At least monthly, I have obsessively searched for cost effective seating solutions. Every month I have found something more pressing to spend money on...

The hubster and I began discussing the summer and how this year would be a bit different with me home and all...I told him that I really wanted a comfortable place to sit and watch them...and so off we went and got some comfy seating. Yeah!!! I also went out and got some beautiful fuschias to hang...and I have been watering them...and life seems to be turning around finally for my front porch...

Until last week.

On one end of the porch we have some lattice, which is home to a lovely flowering vine of some sort or other...on Thursday, I noticed a Red Robin flying onto the porch, which seemed somewhat I peeked outside. And discovered that the Robin was building a nest on the porch railing, right up against the lattice. My first thought was "COOL!!!!! The kids will love this...they'll get to watch the lifecycle of baby birds!!!!". Then my inner worry wart came shoving to the surface and said "oh, NO! Absolutely NOT! That mama bird is going to get broody...and will start attacking us every time we come through the front door. She will fly at our faces and peck at our eyes."

Now, that may seem a bit extreme of a reaction to something as innocuous as a Robin, but let me explain...I have a rather deep seated fear of birds. As a small child my mother took me to the duck pond to feed the birds. Armed with small crusts of bread I approached the birds - a mixture of ducks and geese - with awe and excited anticipation. As the birds got closer my eyes opened wide and I drank in their beauty. As they moved ever closer and stretched out their necks to reach my offering I marveled at their beauty. As their beaks clamped down hard on my chubby baby fingers I cried and began running backwards, all the while clutching the bread. And so I ran, round the pond, with the geese and ducks chasing me, bread clutched desperately in my fingers, as my mother laughed hysterically, unable to advise me to just drop the bread. This started a lifelong panic attack any time I see ducks. Years later, this was exacerbated by a pet bird that my mother had, Molly.

Molly was a moluccan cockatoo. For those of you that don't know, moluccan cockatoos are BIG, PINK birds. When Molly came to us she was several years old and had a wing that had been badly broken and never set properly. She could flutter it enough to break her fall but could not fly. Molly was a smart bird, and very funny. She was also diabolical. She had little bits of comedy that she would entertain us with and she picked up speech pretty quickly...of course being the demon bird that she was, most of what she picked up was profanity and naughty limericks. One of Molly's favorite tricks was to call the dog over to her cage and then make a lunge at his nose once he got there. The thing was, she could mimic my mother's call so perfectly that the dog fell for it. Every. single.time. Countless hours were spent with Molly attempting to lure our poodle into becoming her snack. Apparently, after so many hours the poodle became boring quarry to her, and she moved on to larger game.

Molly had bonded rather strongly to my mother right from the day we brought her home... apparently, at some point, she decided that my mother was her mate. She also apparently determined that I was another suitor. So she began hunting me. Now you might think that a flightless bird is a fairly inadequate hunter, but you are wrongwrongwrong. Molly could walk silently along the ground, peeking around corners and ducking under tables and beds for cover. She could use her talons and beak to climb right up the side of a couch...and the next thing I would know, Molly would be right at my side, lunging, beak open, crest extended, prepared to maim and disfigure me so that I could no longer be a threat to her status as Mom's mate. I think mom initially thought it some odd fashion of "sibling rivalry" and she just sort of laughed it off. I would come home from school and go to my room, shutting my door so as to be safe from the demonic would come home and Molly would cuddle up to her. No big deal. Until one day, Molly decided that she wasn't going to let a little thing like a door hold her back. So she ate the bottom corner of the door. When mom got home, I was waiting outside. Molly's reign of terror ended when she accidentally bit my mother in the face, while trying to get at me. Molly found a new home, I found a new peace and Mom found a new bird.

Anyway, back to the Robin...armed with so many years of bird fear, I decided that I needed to jump into I went outside, and moved the nest to a lovely tree in our front yard. I really rather think that, if I were a bird, it is exactly the sort of place that I would like to build a nest.

Apparently I am no bird.

Anyway, the nest remained uninhabited and I figured that the bird had gone on to make a new nest., somewhere else.

Then came yesterday. I noticed the Robin flying in to the porch once again. Back and forth, in and out, to and fro. I looked at the railing. Nothing. So I kept on going. Later in the day, I was on the phone, and happened to look out the window. That's when I saw it. That danged Robin was up in my hanging flower basket, making a nest there! So I promptly went out and moved nest number 2 over to the tree. My efforts were rewarded with the bird just starting over. In the hanging flower basket. I consulted the hubster, and his helpful offering was that I wasn't going to win...that if I didn't want the Robin setting up house on the porch, the only way to stop it would be to shoot it. Thanks hon, I'll get right on that... I figured that if I staked out my porch, and sat there, the bird would give up and finally be forced to find a new location for it's nest.

By yesterday evening, there was no sign of the Robin, so I declared victory.

This morning, the nest is back. In my flower basket. On my porch. Right in front of one of my chairs.

What to do?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Confessions of a Snot Nosed Brat

So the last week has been full of rest, fluids and phlegm. Sounds like a vacation doesn't it? What started innocently enough as a hacky cough on a Thursday quickly spiraled into a blazing fever, aching body and general all over yuckiness by Friday.

On Wednesday of last week I decided to poke some menacing fun at a friend of ours who was a bit under the weather. We have standing plans on Friday evenings with this friend's family and for the last several weeks said plans have been cast aside due to various health and travel issues. Anyway, the poor fella was really not feeling well and I gave him a stern talking to about how he had better rest up and be well by Friday...which of course explains why I woke up Thursday coughing. Karma, she'll get you every time.

By the time Thursday evening rolled around, I was sufficiently pathetic that my husband opted to bring home supper rather than allow my fetid breath to linger over anything he was going to ingest. He asked me "So what's wrong with you anyway?"

I told him "My hair hurts."

"Your hair hurts? How exactly does hair hurt?"

"I don't know, it just does..."

"OK then..."

By Friday evening I had a fever of 102.something...and before long it had climbed to the 103.something range. At which point my husband muttered something about cooking my brain and slapped a cold, wet washcloth on my forehead. My little Florence Nightingale tended to me all night - seriously, it was 4 in the morning and he was still tending to my swelling then shrinking fever.

By Monday, I decided it was time to drag my sorry self into the Dr. Which I did. The Dr. took one look at me and said "Wow, you look pretty rough. What's going on?" Lovely, thanks for noticing. Anyway, a few swabs and pokes and jabs later and it was determined that I had myself a good old fashioned case of the flu. Yuck. The Dr. patiently explained to me that she would give me Tamiflu and that I should feel better in about a week. But that I must remain vigilant for any backward sliding as it could indicate a secondary infection, which is really the more dangerous part of the flu. She then proceeded to check out just a few more things...

Funny thing is, I apparently already had myself some secondary infections. An ear infection, a sinus infection and I was hovering precipitously close to pneumonia as well. Apparently I had decided to make the secondary infection an artform...I was collecting them like charms for a charm bracelet.

So she sent me on my way with a prescription for antibiotics as well.

It is now Saturday night, and I have only today determined that I might just live.

The flu is not for the faint of heart.

Now go wash your hands.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What Do You MEAN I'm Not on the List

I was recently reading one of the blogs that I stalk, and she was very distraught because she basically lost the list of all of the blogs that she likes to stalk. And she was asking for people to remind her of what they might be, or point her in the direction of blogs that we, as her devoted readers, would like to recommend. So I did. I whipped out my list of personal favorites and hovered over the publish button...and then something occurred to it my place to invite other people to read the blogs of people that I read? In some cases I know these folks...and it just seems like that would be inviting someone else to their wedding. Like I am propping up a big sign outside their ballroom that says "Party Crashers Welcome".

So I deleted most of them and left only the three that I know are already published and have ads and stuff and so I would think are *looking* for folks to read them.

So if I left you out, know that it was only out of my deep and abiding love and respect for you. That and I was afraid that you would beat me up on the playground.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

If You Don't Believe, You Don't Receive

I cannot believe how quickly my kids are growing up...I look at them, and I can still see my sweet, soft babies...but then, they open their mouths and I am astonished at what they already realize. And a little bit afraid.

I love holidays. I love the decorating, the cooking, the celebrating...and I especially love the tender and fun traditions and stories that we use to introduce our kids to the concept of the holidays...and then you know, hook them for life. I firmly believe that, but getting them interested and excited about the more secular aspects of the holidays they will be more apt to listen and absorb the true "reason for the season". Being something of a perfectionist and a control freak (hey, I am embracing it this week), I have anxiously and doggedly pursued a careful consistency in our stories and traditions from year to year.

Seriously, I have sat my husband down and demanded that we have a serious conversation about how Christmas and Easter and such would go down in our home:

Me: "Honey, we really need to talk...we need to figure out how exactly we are going to broach the subject of Santa."

He: "We do?"

Snarky look shot here.

He: "Right. We do."

I have cited the importance of making sure that we decide what our family traditions are before the kids are able to remember things being done differently or not at all. I have whined about needing to make sure that we do it exactly-the-same-way each year to throw the kids off the know, coordinate our alibis...

All this, in the pursuit of extending their innocence about it for as long as possible...hey, I don't want to be the only one excited about the prospect of Santa and the Easter Bunny...that, and I would hate to lose the "Santa is watching..." threat from my discipline arsenal. As far as my kids are concerned, every store that has a video surveillance camera in it is actually taping their behavior and broadcasting it *straight to the Easter Bunny and Santa* - ALL YEAR LONG. (feel free to use that one yourself) I hoped that, by being rigorous in our commitment to the story we would be able to milk a good 7, 8, 30 years out of it.

But then I guess I was thinking we had someone else's kids. You know, kids that aren't having all-nighters in their rooms the minute we go downstairs....

This Easter season has been peppered with portents that the end is near.

4 Days before Easter, in Walmart:

Sebastian: "Mom, is the Easter Bunny real? Or is it just some guy in a bunny suit?"

Me: "Where did you hear such a thing?"

Sebastian: "Nowhere, but..."

Me: "Look honey, soccer balls!" Redirect-redirect-redirect....

3 Days before Easter, in Giant.

Sabrina: "Will we look for eggs outside?"

Me: "Hmmm, probably not honey, it's going to be cold...but don't worry, the Easter Bunny can hide the eggs inside like last year."

Sabrina: "The Easter Bunny didn't hide our eggs...Aunt Robyn did. While we were at church."

Me: "Look honey, milk!" Redirect-redirect-redirect....

Sabrina: (She is my stubborn one...) "Well, I guess maybe the bunny could have come after we left and before she got there...but...I don't know. Maybe she saw him? I should ask her. Can we call Aunt Robyn????"

Me: "Maybe when we get home..."

2 Days before Easter, while in line for Easter Bunny Pictures.

Sebastian: "Mom, is that a real bunny or a guy in a bunny suit?"

47 pairs of children's eyes fix on me, breathlessly awaiting my next words. 90 pairs of grown-up eyes glare at me warningly. Shit.

Me: "That's the Easter Bunny honey."

Sabrina: (cause she has to get in on this action too) "Yeah, but is the Easter bunny a rabbit or a guy in a bunny suit...his hands look like people hands, in bunny gloves."

Sebastian: "Yeah, and his eyes don't blink."

Me: "Well, umm, the Easter Bunny is magic...look kids, it's our turn."

Frankly, I am exhausted by these exchanges...and I was sort of blue, imagining what the incredulous reaction might be on Easter morning, when they went down and saw the eggs hidden. I was afraid that I was going to get called out on my lame hiding tactics. Thankfully the soft, sweet, baby parts of them prevailed and the excitement of finding eggs hidden overrode, even if only temporarily, whatever seeds of doubt they have planted about who is really doing the hiding.

Somehow I don't think we will make it to 7.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It Looks So Good I Could Eat It...But None For YOU

So I got the most wonderful surprise edible arrangement from my best friend. It really is awesome.
See? Notice the 90lb puppy in the background, pondering whether she can get to it before I can thump her?

There is something poetic about her sending me a fruit basket...what with me being the fruity basketcase that I am and all...

So I must wonder, is it wrong of me to have told Sabrina that the "big brown things" were just decoration when in reality I know that they are chocolate covered strawberries and they are mineminemine?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rebel with A Cause

I've never been a rule breaker. Well not much of one anyway. I get that rules are there for a reason, really I do. I appreciate that, no matter how ill conceived or inconvenient a rule may be, it serves, or at some point in it's history served, some purpose. I am trying to raise my children to appreciate and abide by the rules and so, I am teaching by example.

Until now.

I have come up against a rule that I just can't sit idly by and obey. Ironically enough it is a rule about one of my children.

Our son is 6 and in Kindergarten. He is brilliant. Intellectually, he could be in first grade. In fact, he is already spending part of his day doing first grade work. He is reading and doing math and we are unbearably proud parents. Socially he is exactly where he needs to be.

Our daughter is 4 and just months away from finishing the pre-K4 program at her preschool. She will be 5 in September. She is bright and social and looking forward to starting kindergarten. Every other child in her preschool class will be enrolled in Kindergarten in the fall. She is at the top of her class, yet the rules state that she needs to wait a year longer than her peers before she can start because she misses the age cutoff by 11 days. Less than 2 weeks.

On the one hand, I understand that a line has to be drawn somewhere, and September 1 is that line. As I said before, I am a rule follower so in principle I *get* the black and white of it and on some level admire it's simplicity. I understand that if you start making exceptions it is a slippery slope before that line becomes so muddied that every parent is appealing it. I also don't want my children to ever have the notion in their heads that the rules don't apply to them.


On the other hand I know my children. I know that they are not cookie cutter and that blanket policies don't always work with real world situations.

My son missed the cut off by MONTHS, so we never bothered with it. Sure, when he started kindergarten he already knew and could write his letters and numbers, could read small words, could count to 100 forwards and backwards, could do single digit addition and subtraction and was working on multiplication. He already had the curriculum basically licked. (Did I mention that we are unbearably proud???) Socially though he was very tender, and we felt comfortable that the extra time would serve him well. So, when the time came for Kindergarten, we just sort of crossed our fingers and prayed that it would all work out, and that he wouldn't be bored.

Thankfully, it did. My son is the kind of kid that, if you give him a task to work on, he will dive into it and work independently quite happily. He self manages beautifully. This has been put to the test and proven in Kindergarten, as he is given special "extra work" to do while the rest of his class continues to work on items that he has already completed. No disruptions from him, and he isn't bored.

My little girl is a whole other story. She too knows her letters and numbers. She too can write them and she can do some very basic math. She is not nearly as academically advanced, though still more than capable of handling the work that we see coming home with our son. Socially she is beyond ready. Her attention span is unnerving and she is beyond precocious. The thing is, she loves people. She wants to be engaged. She wants to be involved with everyone. If she is not, she is very skilled at getting everyone involved with her. She *will* get your attention. Her school did Kindergarten readiness assessments and there were 3 skills that she had not mastered: skipping (hey, she comes by this natural...what she lacks in grace, she more than makes up for in clumsiness, just like her mama), buttoning buttons (seriously? Find me kids' clothes that have buttons on the front of them and I will have her practice) and zipping her coat. When I heard that last one, I had to laugh. She *can* zip up. She just refuses to. Think about it...when you have to zip up a child's coat they have 100% of your undivided attention. You stoop down to their eye level, and carefully make sure that you aren't catching any hair or skin. While she has you there, she will strike up a conversation with you to ensure that she keeps your attention. That is our little diva in training. So no, make no mistake, she will get your attention. ..Our great fear is that, if we make her wait another year she will be a disruption both in preschool next year because she will be bored and, if we try to use the same "special work" concept with her as is being used with our son in Kindergarten, the year after as well, because she wants to be working with the group.

I have reached out to the school district to see what can be done...I explained to them that I was aware of the policy and was curious if there was any provision for children that were so close. Their answer was to sent me a copy of the policy, which I clearly was already familiar with (otherwise how would I have known to question it) and to tell me that by making her wait another year she would have the opportunity to be at the head of her class. Because clearly that is what is important. Making sure that your kid is the valedictorian rather than the child that loves school.

I. could. just. scream.

So now what?

I Am the Christopher Columbus of the Ice Cream Aisle

As a special favor to all 1 of you who come here and read what I have to say, I must share with you that I have uncovered the holy grail of decadent frozen treats...

Hagen Daaz, Special Reserve, Pomegranate and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream bars.

There I was, haplessly wandering down the aisles of my Giant Food looking for a sign, any sign that would lead me to chocolate craving salvation. And that's when I saw them.

I have long been a fan of the Pomegranate. Though as a kid, honestly I thought they were called Chinese Apples. Whatever. Of course, in recent years, pomegranate has hit the big time, what with all of the antioxidant blah-blah-blah surrounding it's ruby like seeds. Whereas years ago you could scarcely find the darned things, now, everywhere you look there is pomegranate juice, pomegranate flavored lip stain (honestly, I swear...and yes, I have some) pomegranate yogurt drinks (incidentally, also yummy...goooo Dannon!!!!)...but it never occurred to me that someone, someday might make it into ice cream. So much for being clairvoyant - eh?

Dark Chocolate has also been a lifelong love with me. I can remember being the only kid that wanted the "Special Reserve" dark chocolate bars out of the Hershey's Minis bag...and thinking that although there was clearly something wrong with me, if loving dark chocolate was wrong, I didn't want to be right...So you can imagine my special brand of joy when reports started surfacing about the healthful effects of dark chocolate (in moderation) (but I didn't really hear the moderation part. Did you? Did somebody say moderation? Yeah, didn't think so.). Where I used to have to sneak off in a back alley with a bar of baker's bittersweet chocolate to indulge my craving, I was now finding granola bars even with dark chocolate chips because, yeah, dark chocolate was now a health food!!!!

Anyway, as I was saying...there I was in the frozen food aisle, scanning the Ben and Jerry's and the Edy's for something, anything that would inspire me enough to be worth the extra heaping of calories. Because I am easing into a diet plan. Right now I am just counting calories...and so far I have found that I can count really, really high. Perhaps someday I will limit the number of calories I allow myself, but for right now, I am content with the counting...I am like the Rainman of calories. Except that Tom Cruise isn't my brother. Which is good. Because incest = bad. At any rate, Ben and Edy were leaving me empty...nothing so tantalizing that I just hadtohaveit. I dutifully scanned the gold foil section of the ice creams, seriously not hoping too hard, because Hagen Daaz, while deliciously creamy is not often inventive. That's when a picture of my beloved "Chinese Apple" caught my eyes. At which point I jumped and zoomed in for a closer look. I was so overwhelmed with excitement that I actually opened the freezer case door into my own nose. (See, because I know that there is only like 1 of you who reads this, I have no fears about letting that one slip....Hi mom!!!) Working through the pain I grabbed two to hold on my throbbing nose and the other to examine for clues that I might be being Punk'd. Thankfully the ice cream angels were smiling down upon me (probably laughing their asses off) and it was in fact the real deal. I started looking around tearfully, for someone to share the news with but the only people there were staring at me rather dubiously and shuffling away muttering something about drugs being bad.

With no one to preach to I looked back to the freezer section, vessel of all that is frozen and delicious, and noted that they also make a pomegranate dark chocolate chunk ice cream in a convenient 1 pint single serve helping. Overcome with gratitude I felt weak in the knees and so checked the calories...the bars are 280 per bar. And there are 3 per box. I bought one box. They are now gone. Amen.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring is in the Air...and so is the smell of Cabbage

So here we are, just a few days away from the official first day of spring, and apparently someone sent a memo to our dogs about it. Because they are going berserk today. I mean like bats in the belfry, cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, taste the rainbow CRAZY...

Earlier today, as we were eating lunch, I let the puppy and her mother out and then back in. At which point they started chasing each other's tails. Which sounds cute and harmless enough. Until you consider that, between the two of them, they have more body mass than my son's entire soccer team. And apparently more energy.

We headed upstairs to read a book and lay down for nap and the two of them decided to channel their inner Martha Stewart and redecorate. And then, when they had finished, they came barreling up stairs, bounced off of her door until it opened and hopped up on her bed with us...which resulted in shrieking...and yelling...and sobbing. And Sabrina looked at me all, "Will you please stop blubbering and *DO SOMETHING* about this?!?!?". And I was all "Isn't it your turn??"And she was all "Hello, I'm 4?!?!?!?"

So I went downstairs to see what the big deal was...

ALL of the couch and love seat cushions were on the floor.
The dining room rug was moved from the center of the room over to the windows...along with the table and 6 chairs that normally hold it nice and securely to the floor.
The kitchen rug was flipped over and put back , perfectly in place, rubber backing up.
The bedding from each of their crates was strewn out like some sort of hairy, fleece canal through the hallway.
Their rawhide bones were scattered like some sort of grisly crime scene.

Never underestimate the amount of damage that 180 lbs of dog can do in the span of one Angelina Ballerina story.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sweet Dreams are Made of These

I am just the luckiest girl in the whole wide world. Seriously.

In about 24 hours I will have my dearest, closest friend here and my newest nephew in my hot little hands. Bwa-ha-ha...I will get to sniff baby head, nibble baby toes and smooch baby cheeks for 2 whole days...and then...I DON'T have to put him through college or potty train him!!!

How did I stumble upon such riches you may ask? Well, seems the little guy has taken to partying hard all night already and mum needs a someone to pinch hit the chaperoning duties. Which we are MORE than eager to do.

Seems her mummy-hearing is preventing even the best intentioned attempts at sleeping through the sounds of baby from being successful at home, so we are finally going to be able to put the fact that we have spread out our living area across three floors of our home to good use. (Heck, if we just finish off the attic we could send each member of the family to their own floor and not see one another for days...hmmm...I see a trip to Lowe's in my future...hmmm) Tim and I had already stumbled upon the interesting fact that, from the basement you cannot hear anything that is going on on the second floor. Of course we figured this out only slightly after our children did. Like a month after.

Apparently they have been waiting until mommy and daddy retire to the basement to play pool or (honestly, more often...) World of Warcraft - there, I said it, it is out in the open...I have become a video game playing chick - and then they host dance parties and raves up there. We were clueless for who knows how long...though it does explain the bouncer we keep finding at the top of the stairs....unfortunately no one told them that they should be charging a cover, so there will be no supplemental income from that.

Sabrina is the one that actually ratted them both out the other night...she crept down the 2 flights of stairs and then cleared her wee little throat:

"Mommy...I losted the back of my earring." Bottom lip pulled out for full pitiful effect...

"Oh Sabrina...where?"

"In Sebastian's room.." I look at my is 9:30. Bed time is at 8:00. You do the math.

"Umm...*how* did you lose the back of your earring in Sebastian's bedroom an hour and a half after bedtime?????"

"Well, when we were playing Star Wars..."

Nuff said.

I think the little mum should have no problem sleeping soundly.