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Showing posts from November, 2009

My Favorite Gravy of Thanksgiving Weekend 2009

I spend a surprising amount of time thinking about the things I need to teach my kids. Ya' know, the big and little things that make a life, like how to do laundry, how to clean your ears, how the crusty bits of homemade mac-n-cheese are the best, and how to fold socks.

Today, I read a blog that I just adored about exactly this: the things you want and must teach your children well.

Read this now. You'll love it. You might even, as I did, learn something about vagisil that you did not know. You will likely find a new blog to follow as well.

Thanks Momo!

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Love Sticks

Elizabeth (she's 5) called me in to her room last night in a panic: "I need another kiss, mama, because I accidentally wiped off the one you gave me!"

Lola (she's 7) reassured her: "That's OK, Elizabeth: love sticks!"

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I gave them both about a hundred extra kisses anyway.

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Jumping on the Bohemian Bandwagon

This is viral on the internet, so you've probably already seen it. If not, sit back, get out your bell bottoms, and enjoy.



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And that's how a girl gets to 28 posts in 28 days. Don't hate me because I'm a cheater.

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Wherein I Share My Super Secret Apple Pie Recipe

That title might be a little misleading. There is nothing secret about this recipe whatsoever. I got it from an ancient Betty Crocker cookbook that used to be my mom’s (I think I stole it from her) and now it lives on my bookshelf all year long except when I make pie. The pages of this book are yellowed, frayed and ripped, and turning them requires delicacy and grace. This is where, once a year, I seek and find The Mystery of the Pie.

But then, pie isn’t much, is it? Just crust, fruit, and sugar. The only mystery to pie is making it yourself and the big secret is that making a pie is ridiculously easy. The hardest ingredient to find is the time, which, of course, is ridiculously difficult for most moms these days.

You can always do what I did this year: make your pie at 2 in the morning.

OK, on to the making part. The best part of making pie is making the crust. Many people think I am nutso for making homemade crust when there are perfectly nice ones to be had at the grocery…

To Ad or Not To Ad

I am trying to decide whether or not to join Blogher, or Adsense, or one of those types of networks and start posting ads on this site. I haven't so far, because I figure that my five or so faithful readers (a) wouldn't like it and (b) wouldn't really be a very effective target market for any advertisers.

Oh, and (c) because I'm lazy and haven't really bothered to investigate or think very much about this issue.

What are the pros and cons? Would I have more readers? Would the ads annoy people, including me?

So much to think about. I think I'll go have a piece of pie instead.

If you have any thoughts one way or the other, if you have ads on your own blog or not, please share your experiences.

Coming next: I will post my apple pie recipe. It's not rocket science people, it's sugar and apples. And pears.

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Post Thanksgiving Musings

Here's what I've been thinking about today. A brain dump, if you will.
I hate that shopping is considered news.
I love having leftovers in the house.
I dread the Holidays.
I love Christmas.
Multi-tasking is overrated. I made an apple pie at 2 in the morning on Thanksgiving. It was bliss. I didn't have to divide my attention between the apples and the computer and the dirty diaper and the feeding of people and the cleaning up after them and the fighting and the whining and the questions and the explanations and the people I love. It was me and the apples. And the pears, because I always put pears in my apple pie. I was surprised by how enjoyable a task can be when it's the only task at hand and the only thing being expected of me at that moment.
I just might survive the Holidays this year if I can find more ways to monotask. I might even -- gasp -- enjoy myself!

So I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving yesterday; let's tackle December, shall we?

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In Between

Today, I went Thanksgiving grocery shopping with my oldest, who is 11-years old. He is such a great kid: sensitive, smart, articulate, kind. He spends his days with one foot in the world of a little kid and one foot in the world of a teenager. There are many ways in which he yearns to be older, to have more freedom and to experience life on his own. There are also many ways that he is happy to stay "little." He still plays imagination games all the time, watches G-rated movies, and likes to cuddle.

He knows the truth about Santa Claus, but is happy to pretend otherwise to help out his mom and dad. Sometimes he pretends so well that I have to wonder if the pretense is for his younger siblings' sake or his own.

Today while we were walking from one store to the next, we headed towards a crowd of teenagers hanging out and being goofballs. He immediately slowed down so that he could walk behind me and not be so close to mom. His posture changed, his pace changed, his en…

What Can Happen When a Parent is Tired

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Take one tired daddy.

Add one creative 5-year old.

Mix in a handful of markers. Hope they are non-toxic.

And voila! Here is what you get:


The world--including daddy's feet--is her canvas.

Overheard

Three and five year olds running madly around the house, doing the lap from kitchen, to dining room, to living room, to hallway, to kitchen. Five year old, screaming at the top of her lungs:

"RUN LIKE HEAVEN! RUN LIKE HEAVEN! RUN LIKE HEAVEN!"

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My Brain is Mush, My Girls are Awesome

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Ten soccer games in two days will do that to a brain.

Three of my kids were each in a soccer tourney this weekend, which meant the following:

Saturday
9:00am Monarchs Game
9:00am Rockets Game
9:00am Dolphins Game

Noon Monarchs Game
Noon Rockets Game
1:00 Rockets End-of-Season Party
1:30 Dolphins Game

Sunday
9:00am Rockets Game
10:00am Monarchs Game
10:30am Dolphins Game
3:00pm Dolphins Game

The soccer was great, the teams are amazing, the other families are so much fun to be with, but the real trophy of the weekend goes to my 3 and 5 year old girls, for being such troopers about being hauled from one game to the next to the next and getting into a minimum of trouble the entire weekend. They are total rock stars.

Some day, it will be their turn. For now, they know how to party in the park, charm the socks off of people, scam the snack mom for hand outs, jump up and down to keep warm in the frigid wind, make a game out of throwing bark all over the place, and cheer for their older siblings. Hats off…

The Latest in a Long List of Things I Do Not Understand

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Am I the only person who is completely baffled by the Snuggie?


I cannot believe these things are catching on, that anyone would actually wear one. I saw a commercial the other night that excitedly proclaimed that the Snuggie is now available in fashionable patterns. Aside from the fact that Snuggie commercials look like they're spoofs of real commercials, the patterns featured were hideous, as in ugly drapery hideous. But then, I would imagine it's difficult to make any pattern look good when there is so MUCH of it to see.

Understand that I hate being cold. My poor husband has to hear me bitch and complain about being cold for the entire winter. I think I utter the words "I hate being cold!" about 53,000 times each year. I am always tucking blankets around my ankles and shoulders, and searching for the warmest socks, and going to bed wearing a hat. I put a high value on being warm and comfortable.

Even with all of that, I just can't get my brain around the…

In the Interest of Fairness

One of my posts a few days ago featured an email that has been making the rounds about how men could never survive if they had to do all the things we moms have to do on a daily basis. Well, apparently, it's not so easy to be a man either! Who would have thunk it???

One guy who saw that post responded by sending my dad (who had directed him to this blog) the following list:

How to make a woman happyIt's not difficult to make a woman happy. A man only needs to be:

1. a friend
2. a companion
3. a lover
4. a brother
5. a father
6. a master
7. a chef
8. an electrician
9. a carpenter
10. a plumber
11. a mechanic
12. a decorator
13. a stylist
14. a sexologist
15. a gynecologist
16. a psychologist
17. a pest exterminator
18. a psychiatrist
19. a healer
20. a good listener
21. an organizer
22. a good father
23. very clean
24. sympathetic
25. athletic
26. warm
27. attentive
28. gallant
29. intelligent
30. funny
31. creative
32. tender
33. strong
34. understanding
35. tolerant
36. prudent
37. ambitious
38. capable
39. c…

You Know You Are an NPR Family When...

...your 5-year old suddenly asks, after two months of being in school instead of with mom during the daytime hours: "Mom! We never hear Terry Gross talk anymore! Why???"

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Working With--Yes, that tiara looks great--My Kids Underfoot

Dear Carol,

Thanks for your--no, you can't have a cookie!--email. Rick would love to--yes, you can have 15 minutes of computer time if you are finished with your homework.--meet with you about your--no, 5X9 does not equal 50.--garden.

Oh, hang it all.

I would
Tallulah, stop spitting at Elizabeth.
really love to
I'm sorry you got scratched up in the thorny bushes, I'm sure that hurt.
go for two minutes in
Tallulah! Stop! You will go in another time-out if you cannot leave her alone!
a row without
No, you cannot have a cookie!"
being interrupted.
Am I the only one who can hear that infernal timer going off?!?!?!?!

It just might be
You can have a turn after her.
physically impossible for
I'm sorry honey, your time is up. No, you don't get extra computer time. They don't get extra time either. They get the same amount of time. No, you don't get extra time. Please unclench your fists from around my arms and remove your stomping, crying, tantruming self from my pres…

NaBloPoMo Failure, Sleep Deprivation Chronicles, and Pitfalls of Having a Large Family

First the failure: I couldn't do it. Couldn't do 30 posts in 30 days. Between Friday and Monday, we had two soccer games, one basketball game, two end of season soccer parties, Mass (yes, we really made it!), and one large work day for Rick, helping to plant the new El Cerrito Community Center garden. I guess I just couldn't keep up with all of that, feeding the family, doing the laundry, AND blogging. Very sad, very disappointing. Perhaps I will sneak back in through the back door, and post multiple times in a day in order to get to November 30th and have a (30) next to the month. We shall see. For now, I will retreat and promise to do better next time...if I ever agree to such foolishness again.

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Second, the sleep deprivation: I was just leaving a phone message for someone, and I couldn't remember my cell phone number. I felt like an idiot. The nice lady taking the message thought I was looney. How embarrassing. I need some sleep, BAD.

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Third, the …

The Book is Out!

I got the coolest birthday present from my brother today. He has self-published a book of his comics, from his syndicated strip It's All About You, and I got a copy from him in the mail today. THANK YOU TONY! I love it, love it, love it.

I have a link over there at the right that goes to his daily strip, so perhaps you have clicked on that and seen his funny stuff. Now YOU TOO can own the book.

Corrected on 11/17/09, to include HOW TO BUY THE BOOK! Click here to buy the It's All About You Book, the perfect Christmas present for anyone on your list who has a sense of humor. Let's hope, for your sake, that that's most of the people on your list.

Congrats, Tony. I hope you sell gobs of books and get famous. I want to see IAAY characters on mugs!

Everyone else, visit the link above to check out his comic strip.

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I Hate Yellow Day

Argh! It's freaking Yellow Day! That totally sucks.

Why the antipathy towards the color of the sun?

Because last night, in preparation for "free dress" day at the kids' school, I asked every single one of my school-going offspring what they wanted to wear to school instead of a uniform and they all brought me their choices, and I did the freaking' laundry, down to underwear and socks and was totally prepared for the morning and went to bed under the illusion of being ready, for once. THEN, at 5am this morning, my brain finally decided to WORK for one damn time, and reminded me that when it's free dress day, it's a COLOR DAY for Kindergarten, and I had forgotten that and didn't check the Kindergarten calendar and was therefore most definitely NOT prepared.

And now, it's Yellow Day. WE DON'T HAVE YELLOW! At least not clean yellow.

Just once, I would like a morning with no surprises. Just once, when I go to the effort to be prepared in adva…

I'm Pretty Sure This is Considered Cheating, but I'm Proceeding Anyway

For my 11th post in as many days, I am going to steal shamelessly, because I got a very funny email forwarded to me today. I did a bit of searching around the net to see if I could find someone to credit for this bit of genius...no luck. So whoever you are, hats off to you!

Enjoy some funniness, people.

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THE NEXT SURVIVOR SERIESSix married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 4 kids each for six weeks.

Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes.

Each child will need a wrapped birthday gift for 2 parties during the six weeks, to which the men will r.s.v.p., drop off and pick up.

There is no fast food.

Each man must take care of his 4 kids, keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of "pretend" bills with not enough money.

Each man will have to make an Indian hut model with six toothpicks, a tortilla, and one marker & get a 4 year old to eat a serving of peas.

One pet …

To Yell or Not To Yell

30 posts in 30 days...or as my husband calls it: An Invitation to Mediocrity.

Boy, do I feel myself accepting that invitation.

In an attempt to stave off mediocrity, let's wade into a parenting issue, shall we?

Here's the question: "Is it OK to yell at your kids?" This is a question posed today by a local parenting blog. It quotes some crazy statistic that says that 88% of the parents questioned admitted to yelling at their kids sometime in the past year.

Only 88%? Seems a little low to me.

I don't know a single parent (or a married one, for that matter) who does not yell at their children. And I live near Berkeley, the granola-eating, consciousness-raising, teach-your-kids-to-express-their-feelings, space-for-everyone-at-the-table center of the universe!

Face it, we ALL yell at the kids. Sometimes we regret it, because we should; sometimes we don't regret it, because the situation called for it.

Neither do I know a single parent that doesn't worry about th…

Why I Don't Need Trendy Clothing Stores

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Thanks to mom and dad for the classic, perfect-for-me birthday card. (And for the New Yorker subscription renewal that came with it.)

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cartoon credit: Dave Coverly

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I am not a happier Californian.

Chase Bank took over WaMu, and screwed up my life.

We own a small business; I go to the bank frequently. We've also got the five small children; they come with me everywhere.

So the kids are quite familiar with the refrain: "I have to stop at the bank," and they moan and groan, but WaMu used to be an easy place to stop with the kids. So many things have changed since Chase took over that what used to be an easy errand now amounts to a trip to hell. Here are the stupid things Chase has done that make my day more difficult:
Took out the kid area of my local branch, which had books, toys, a kids' table and chairs set, and a couple of small video games. Replaced it with (yawn) a boring chair.
Removed their deposit drop box -- so now I have to actually stand in line.
Removed the Express Line -- so now I have to stand in a longer line.
Reduced the amount of time the Business Line is open -- so I can't rely on being able to use this line anymore either.Other things about Chas…

Remember Her?

Note: I originally wrote this post back in April, but never posted it. Now, with this NaBloPoMo craziness, I'm pulling it out of its holding pattern. The time references don't make sense; everything else does.

I received one of the greatest gifts on Friday: a visit with an old friend I have not seen in over 10 years. It was truly fantastic to see her, and it's had me thinking about what happens over time.

Kathy and I went to high school together, and there are few people in my life that I've ever had as much fun with or shared as much of myself with. She was intelligent, funny, sweet, and slightly geeky (sorry kath!), and I was at least two of those things as well, and we hit it off. We weren't in the "party crowd" but we sure enjoyed our wine and 7-up mixers, served on multi-colored square-patterned carpet of her older brothers' room (who was away at college) because his room was detached from the house and we had more freedom out there. We wer…

Life With Lullah

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The other day, my three year old told me that I am "smokin' hot."

Yesterday, I asked her what she wants to be when she grows up, and she said "Hannah Montana."

Today at a restaurant, every time I turned around, she was doing her "Pink Panther" walk, wherein she imitates Steve Martin strutting around New York City.

Tonight on the way home, she shrieked for at least three miles: "Get off this stupid street, you dummy!" We were on the freeway. Apparently, she doesn't like freeways.

I am trying to potty train her. She is ready. She often wakes up in the morning and from her naps dry -- a good sign. She can tell me when she has to pee. She can run around dry, in underwear, for 2, 3, 4 hours. She can sit on the potty when she has to go. But she WILL NOT PEE IN THE POT. Given our busy lives, I have not had time to just sit with her until she goes. Inevitably, she tells me she has to go pee about 30 minutes before we need to be somewhere..…

Book Circuit, Here I Come

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well, I'm writing with some good news! I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I know, I know, it took me awhile. But here I am, about to turn 41, and I finally know what I want to be: a writer. More specifically, a published memoir author.

I have noticed, on the NPR interview circuit, that all of today's most interesting books are memoirs, so I am going to write one.

This is where you come in. See, I have noticed that most of these memoir author people have some pretty intense family stuff to write about, wacky parents and bumpy childhoods, drugs, alcohol, mental disorders, etc. So I need you to give me a list of all the stuff you've kept from me over the years, all the really sordid details of our family's lore. Feel free to embellish.

Perhaps you could use some "prompts" or ideas. Think of these categories: Violence...substance abuse...craziness...scandals...shameful events...big family secrets, etc.

Mary Karr, …

Another Halloween. . .

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. . .has come and gone.

I try to love Halloween, really I do, but it's hard. As in "I'm tryin' Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard." (Name that movie!)
I like the idea of dressing up and I like helping my kids assemble costumes. But I'm a dreadful procrastinator, and I'm usually stressed out about some key element of a costume right down to the last minute. I hate that.

This year, the pirate was easy and fun and ready ahead of time. Ditto for Cleopatra. The monkey, thanks to my extended village, turned out to be extremely easy, if a little down to the wire. The Grim Reaper -- easy...but I couldn't let go of the nagging voice in my head that kept saying: "Really?That'swhat you want to be? You can't think of something more fun? And less...deathly?"

I know, I know, 9-year old boys like that stuff. I'm not a 9-year old boy, though. I think I was sufficiently supportive of his choice that he did not suffer any ill effects from a disapprov…

I Miss My Pillow

I read a short article in the New York Times today about sleep deprivation. Nothing new, just depressing. Here's a quote:

In a study at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in 2003...scientists examined the cognitive effects of a week of poor sleep, followed by three days of sleeping at least eight hours a night. The scientists found that the "recovery" sleep did not fully reverse declines in performance on a test of reaction times and other psychomotor tasks, especially for subjects who had been forced to sleep only three or five hours a night.
Read the article here.

This is bad news for someone who routinely gets about 5 hours of sleep at night, often less, sometimes a little more. Rarely do I ever get more than 7 hours of sleep. Rarely do I sleep without interruption. My kids do not keep my up for long periods of time at night anymore, but they do wake me up to crawl into bed beside me. Or someone is coughing. Or someone wants a drink of water. Or someone is snorin…

Simple, Right?

So all I have to do right now is this:Deal with a pair of poopy underwear, and the body wearing them.
Help 7-year old with daily homework first, then project due tomorrow.
Make dinner: healthy, delicious, for seven people.
Get the 11-year old to take out the piles and piles of recycling that have been waiting for the empty bin.
Supervise homework for resistant 9- and 11-year olds.
Staighten up living room -- so people can sit down.
Straighten up dining toom -- so people can eat and do homework.
Find some clean utensils.
Give 3-year old a bath. If nothing else happens, this better.
Look at a couple of projects that people will actually be paying me for.
Prepare end of October paperwork for various business and home related projects.
Stay cheerful, hopeful, patient, and POSITIVE! After all, I'm creating people here, right?In other words, all I really need are three more sets of hands, arms like ElastiGirl, ten times the energy I currently have, a personal chef, fewer children, and a wife.

Aft…

Gifts

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It's my birthday this month. And my kids, who by the way are the most excellent offspring on the planet, decided to start early and celebrate from Day One of November. I think they had some encouragement from daddy.

I went to the grocery store and came home to my first gift. Grapes and flowers, harvested from our very own garden. Sweet, sweet.


I am loved. Life is good.

For a practiced complainer, glass-is-half-empty kind of a person like myself, this is saying something.

Thank you children and husband.

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