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Showing posts from 2010

You know you are a blogger with a big family when...

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...you load five kids, two dogs, the mother in law, two skateboards, one scooter, one tricycle, one soccer ball and a bag of snacks into the car on a chilly wind-swept day to go to the park, where you negotiate rambunctious children, under-exercised dogs who keep wrapping their leashes around your legs and little ones who keep going momentarily missing, where you respond to "Look Mommy!" 13 times in a row in the space of 60 seconds, where you hold your breath while watching newly minted skateboarders try out their new skilz, where you brave the wind and the threatening rain to infuse cabin-feverish kids with fresh air, where you deftly handle the one kid who wants to call a taxi to take him home because it's too cold, where you carry cast away sweaters and hats and wheeled-conveyances, and where, when it's finally time to leave, you load everyone and everything back in the car EXCEPT the four year old and her tricycle because she stubbornly remains smack in the middl…

Proof

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Two things unequivocally confirm for me that all will be well this Christmas.
First, my husband put a lock on our bathroom door.
And second, my neighbor brought me a gift awhile back that has been hiding in my cupboard for just such an occasion as Christmas Eve, the day before I host 18 people on a rainy day in my small house:

Peace on Earth.

An Unexamined Life is Not Worth Facebooking

We've all got that Facebook friend who makes us wonder: "Does he do anything all day long except post status updates? How does he have that much time to be online? And does he really think we care that much?"
Is he simply oversharing? Suffering from a little narcissism? Afflicted with an inflated notion of how much his friends care about his morning hot yoga class or the fact that he loves thunderstorms?
Maybe. But now that I've been using Facebook for awhile–and I was an extremely reluctant joiner–I understand the impulse. I am guilty of posting some pretty silly stuff, which is no great crime, but definitely a waste of time, mine and my fb friends'. We're all guilty of that, probably. I think Facebook is getting under our skin. It's getting into our psyches and starting to be something like second nature. It's changing the way we think: we now think in the structure of The Status Update.
Instead of enjoying a gorgeous sunset alone or with people we can…

Tomato Soup for the Tortured Soul

There is a bright side to one's minivan being ankle deep in discarded jackets and sweaters. When your daughter up ends her bowl of tomato rice soup on to the floor, very little car clean-up is required. All you gotta do is scoop up the clothes and drop them in the wash.
So I did recover from today's tomato soup spill. But not before I blew a gasket upon hearing the bowl clatter to the floor.
Let me set the scene for you: I had failed to feed the children in a timely manner, and had just spent the last 10 minutes trying to rush everyone through a late lunch in order to herd them all into the car and get Cenzo to his soccer practice. Everyone, more or less, finished, but Tallulah did not and she was having a love affair with this soup. She couldn't bear the thought of leaving it behind. I could have put my foot down, but I was in one of those situations where you have to choose your battles. I chose unwisely. I let her bring the bowl of soup.
Before we had been in th…

Family Time

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We put up our Christmas tree last night. Simultaneously, we were finishing up a bit of painting in our dining room, installing some shelving on a dining room wall, and re-hanging doors on my kitchen cupboards.
I think it's safe to say we were attempting to do a few too many things all at once. That's how we roll.
So that could be the reason. The reason our Christmas Tree Decorating Family Time was a bit wonky. Family time around here is always a layered, complicated affair. We've got the children happily diving into ornament boxes, emerging with old favorites and happy memories. We've got the dizzying range of Christmas music filling the house, from the Messiah to Bob Dylan. We've got kids coming up with lovely ways to decorate their own rooms with left over tree branches and lights. We've got children dancing around the tree with sheer, unadulterated glee.
We've also got the bickering, the hurt feelings, the jockeying for prominent position for favore…

7 Quick Takes: Volume 22

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Friday, Friday...so good to me, Friday, Friday...will you be all I hope you can be?
Welcome to 7 Quick Takes at And I'll Raise You 5. Please visit our lovely host at Conversion Diary for the original 7 Quick Takes. Take a moment to congratulate her on expecting Baby #5! And check out the links to other Quick Takers playing along this week.
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Today's recommended reading: The Epic of Gilgamesh. One of the oldest stories in the world, Gilgamesh tells the story of a cruel king and the friendship that teaches him to be kind. Rick used to teach this story in his English classes, and it has always been a favorite of his. The kids and I are listening to The Story of the World these days, and this week we heard a retelling of this ancient story that comes to us from 3000 (ish) BC Mesopotamia.
Before Gilgamesh meets Enkidu, he is a cruel and tyrannical king, enslaving his people and taking anything he wants for himself. Everyone fears him. Enkidu is the first to stand up to h…

You know you have a big family when...

...the cashier who rings up your weekly grocery haul asks you if you are having a great big party.
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30 or So Tales To Tell

There is just something about sitting in Peet's Coffee on a rainy afternoon. Lovely classical notes waft through the thick, confident smell of coffee, every seat is crowded with people talking or working or reading, rain falls through the plentiful North Berkeley trees outside the corner window. Right now, this place is the center of the world, buzzing with life, people, relationships, ideas, and caffeine.
And there is so much more here than meets the eye.
A young guy at the next table, knit cap pulled down over his ears, skinny jeans half holding him on the wooden chair, clicks earnestly away at his iPhone thingamajiggy, looking for all the world like a dude connected, to people, movements, important events. He is intent, focused, thumbs working purposefully.
I spy his screen. He is playing solitaire.
The older gent sitting across the way is reading a thick paperback with a Moe's bookmark clutched in one hand. I strain to catch the title (I am forever trying to spy on what p…

In Which I Start to Think I May Be Worrying About the Wrong Things

My kids have those chocolate Advent calendars from Trader Joe's, thanks to my generous friend Laura. We also have a cloth one, where we add one item per day to the manger scene, the last one, of course, being Jesus. This one is sweet and fun. But the chocolate ones stress me out.
First of all, there are FIVE of them. They take up too much space in my already too small house.
Second, my kids go rabid at the mere mention of chocolate. That's a lot of froth on a daily basis.
And third, the kids trash them with overzealous window ripping.
Last year, instead of having nice Advent calendars sitting neatly on the kitchen shelf, we had beaten up and bent cardboard shells, with the little cardboard windows ripped out and strewn all over the house. The kids were so rough with them that the chocolates ended up popping out of their holes and sliding around inside the cardboard, inducing panic and indignation in the opener. It was not a peaceful, pleasant part of the holiday season.
So t…

Daybook, 3 December 2010

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Outside my window...it is grey, damp and cold.

I am thinking...about how to keep myself motivated and heartened for the things I find most daunting.

I am thankful for...carmel popcorn at timely moments.

From the kitchen...eggs in baskets for lunch, fried in real butter. Deelishous.

I am wearing...black sweats, grey T, red polartec jacket.

I am creating...clean walls.

I am going...to enjoy an evening out with friends.

I am reading...Half Broke Horses, by Jeanette Walls

I am hoping...for courage.

I am hearing...my dryer running...Toy Story 3 from the living room...children munching on carmel popcorn.

Around the house...messes, messes everywhere.

One of my favorite things...paella.

A few plans for the rest of the week: finish prepping the living room walls for a new paint job.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Thanks Nicole for the Daybook idea; play along at the simple woman's daybook.
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7 Quick Takes: Volume 21, The What Was I Thinking Edition

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Gimme a F, gimme a R, gimme a I and a DAY! As long as it comes with a glass of wine, I'll take it.
Please visit Jen at Conversion Diary for the original 7 Quick Takes and links to other people playing along.


~ 1 ~
I
~ 2 ~
AM
~ 3 ~
CRAZY
~ 4 ~
FOR
~ 5 ~
HOSTING
~ 6 ~
CHRISTMAS
~ 7 ~
DINNER.
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I'm A Bad Mother. Here's How I Know

Today's Five Reasons:
I made you do your chore before you could eat your breakfast, even though you were starving. I did this because you managed to goof around for 45 minutes despite your starving state, and I figured another 10 minutes wasn't going to kill you. You told me that I am so mean. Hence, Reason #1.
I let your sister whack you. Told her to, in fact. I told her to whack you because you have harassed her for the kajillionth time and no other strategy has worked. You told me that I did it because I love her more than I love you. Hence, Reason #2.
I am not letting you have a "free day" today. We will actually be learning something in a structured, semi-organized fashion. We will combine our learning with Tuesday Hot Dog day's pilgrimage to Top Dog and a trip to Codornices Park to hurtle down the cement slide of death. Clearly, I am a dictator. Hence, Reason #3.
I cannot stop what I am doing to help you find your bouncy ball, review your ridiculousl…

A Little Bit of Random for a Monday Morning

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Clasico day today! So, who do you like, Barca or Real Madrid? We're Blaugrana all the way here, and not just because Carlos Puyol's alter ego lives here. My husband is all a-twitter with excitement. My 12-year old's obsession is at a fever pitch. The TV is all Barca, all day, with 90 beautiful minutes of glory in store. Will you be watching? If so, you'll be joining 400 million people all over the world doing the same.
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With the Thanksgiving holiday, Little T has not had a preschool day since last Wednesday. When I dropped her off this morning, I had this to say to her teachers: "She has not stopped talking since last Wednesday at 2pm. Take her. Keep her. She's all yours. Good bye."
There are few things more exhausting than a four year old who needs to talk, especially when the standard "uh-huh" response is not enough for her. The level of engagement she requires is mind-boggling. I now have 5 hours of sweet relief from her un…

10 Quick Takes from Lady E

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Instead of doing 7 Quick Takes today, I'm sharing this little gem from my 6 year old, Lady E, who is, apparently, asam (her spelling of "awesome").

And the translation is:
Things About Me Being AwesomeI rock and roll in bed.I rock and roll in PJs.I am awesome in PJs.I rock in Santa hats.It is awesome when I am in Santa hats.Santa hats are funny on me.I rock and roll whenever I am in PJs and being funny.And whenever I’m rocking and rolling then I am being funny.When I’m in a Santa hat, I’m funny.When I’m goofing around, I rock.So on this Thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful for little girls whose cups runneth over with confidence. I am hoping that her first reason for being awesome will change drastically before she gets to college, but for now I'm fine with it. And I wish I had nothing better to do than to sit around chronicling my own awesomeness.Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

S. O. S.

SEND LYSOL, GINGER ALE AND SALTINES.
I'M GOIN' IN.
IF I DON'T EMERGE BY THANKSGIVING, SEND TURKEY. AND LOTS AND LOTS OF PIE.

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7 Quick Takes: Volume 20

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And this week's Friday is going...going...GONE! Sold to the lady with five kids who clearly didn't make it to the shower today!
Please go visit our lovely host at Conversion Diary for the original 7 Quick Takes; visit the links of other people playing along this week.
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I had to spend $845 on my car today. This brings the grand total of car maintenance bills in the past two weeks to something around $2K. Right before Christmas. As usual. We have all kinds of bad luck with car repairs during the Holiday season. Last year, we bought the kids a new transmission. Hope the kids like the new brakes I got them this year! I'll just wrap the receipt in a big box and stick it under the tree for Christmas morn. And Jen (aka Minivan MacGyver), I'll be sure to videotape their reactions.
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My kids have some annoying habits. One of those is that they think it's funny to exaggerate some behavior that I have just asked them to stop doing. So if they are all yelling …

Morning Limericks

There was once a mess on the floorThat kept me from opening your door. The mess is now clean; It's a quite different scene, But the stink'll keep it shut evermore.
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As a mother, my duty is dinner. If I fail, you all will get thinner. But as sure as you're mine, I'd rather have wine. I bet my choice will not be the winner.
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I'm trying to raise you well and right, I'm trying to guide you day and night, Do you mind if I just took A glance at my Facebook Checked my email, stats and website?
I hear you! Your brother just smacked your face. And your sister is throwing your stuff every place But wait a sec, honey, This blog is so funny! Can you go see who just broke that vase?
I'm sure I'll come out from behind my screen In time to save you from your brother the tween. But until I do, Jump over that goo, And step back: don't crowd my scene.
What's that you say? You want to play Wii? You want as much screen time as me? I'm sorry you cannot, I won't let your brain …

Nothing To Say

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I really have nothing to report today.
Life has been so boring lately, nothing to do, nothing to think about, nothing to worry over. I hardly know what to do with myself! I've organized my sock drawer, color-coded my tupperware lids, and turned my kids' rooms into Pottery Barn slices of heaven. Their behavior, accordingly, has been epically wonderful. This is pretty much me these days:

Because I certainly have not been unable to move from the couch in the evenings in order to restore some semblance of order to my barn-like environs; worried unceasingly about my children's apparent non-relationship with hard work; succumbed to overwhelm at the shambles my life is in; bickered with my spouse over such important matters as why the back door is always wide open; yelled at anyone, for any reason whatsoever; compared myself to every other mother, hell woman, in the world and come out on the losing side;
OR
eaten way too many carbs, eschewed all vegetables, ignored my need to exercise,…

7 Quick Takes: Volume 19, The Reader Participation Edition

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...and then I woke up and lo, it was a Friday, and I said: "It is good."
Please visit Jen at Conversion Diary for the original 7 Quick Takes and links to others playing along.
~ 1 ~Recommended reading for today: Well, I haven’t read this yet, I just heard about it today. But it sure sounds interesting! Our local public radio station produces a daily show called Forum. Today’s guest was Richard Muller, talking about his new book called The Instant Physicist: An Illustrated Guide.
The above image and the publisher’s synopsis below are taken from Powell’s Books website:Richard A. Muller demonstrated in his recent bestseller, Physics for Future Presidents, that he has a unique talent for delivering the aha moment—making difficult topics accessible. In The Instant Physicist he shows his ability to entertain, too, by presenting the best of the scientific curiosities he has assembled over his distinguished career. Assisted by award-winning cartoonist Joey Manfre, who has created an or…

Is He Messing With Me?

Yesterday evening, my task was to serve everyone dinner, make sure chores got done, and get myself ready to go to my friend Pat's Rosary. Rick was working so I was flying solo. He would be arriving home mere moments before I had to leave, so things needed to happen smoothly.

Over the course of the late afternoon, I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with the kids; they weren't listening to me at all. Chores were...a chore to get done. I was reminding and cajoling and threatening. They were giggling, screaming, and avoiding me.
By the time I served them dinner, I was also dishing out quite a rampage of disapproval over their behavior. I huffed off to the shower after pretty much reading them the riot act and making it clear that my grumpiness was entirely their fault.
After my shower, after I was dressed in "church clothes" and nearly ready to walk out the door, I was standing at the bathroom mirror, doing my hair and issuing final orders for everyone&#…

Things That Make Me Feel Like My Head is Going to Pop Off

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This morning, I had to keep reaching up to touch my head, to make sure it was still there. There are just too many things happening on a daily basis that make me think my head is going to explode. Lucky for me, I have a blog, where I can rant like a crazy person, thus releasing that awful pressure-cooker feeling and saving my children from my unloading on them instead. Here we go, with my first installment of Things That Make Me Feel Like My Head is Going to Pop Off.
Thing #1: Feeding ingrates. The other evening, I found myself in the rare position of grocery shopping by myself. It was awesome. I did not realize that solo grocery shopping has a palliative effect. It made me feel tender toward my family. It made me consider their tastes and desires. It made me want to buy them yummy things to eat. I walked leisurely through the aisles, imagining their joy at Honey Nut Joe's O's for breakfast and Z-bars for soccer game day. Remembering my own love for all things fried …

7 Quick Takes: Volume 18

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Can I get a Friday, please? Why thank you!
Please visit Jen at Conversion Diary for the original 7 Quick Takes, and for links to the other folks who are playing along.
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As posted earlier, we lost a frog this week. This is a mystery. The cover of the terrarium did have a rip in it, but we put a book over the ripped part for a temporary fix, and later some duct tape over the same rip, also temporary. The cover itself was not moved from the position it was left in the night before. Nothing else seemed amiss. But Bella was gone.
Fire-bellied toads are not expensive. After several hours of looking for her, and then facing the fact that she could not have survived so long without water, we hit the local Vivarium and brought home another one. My son christened him "Rice." (The other frog he has is named "Beans," a tribute to the beloved frog pet in Cheaper by the Dozen.)
The sun set on a half-happy, half-mourning 10 year old. Rice proved to be just the ticket to…

Full Heart

I have lived a lifetime since my last post.
Halloween in all its glory.
The San Francisco Giants won the World Series, which, in this house, was attended by mayhem, chaos, joy, and madness: the full range of crazy, beautiful baseball emotion. And baseball is nothing if not emotional.
The loss of a pet. A small, jumpy fire-bellied toad named Bella, who escaped her terrarium and upended my entire afternoon. The last hour of my day, between 11 and midnight, was spent soothing the young man who fed and cared for dear Bella. He was distraught over her loss, and his young heart was breaking with grief right there on my couch.
And then.
Today. A greater loss. Today, the world lost a wonderful woman to cancer. She taught my four older kids in their Kindergarten year, retired this past June, and discovered two and half short weeks ago that she had cancer. Her family was probably still getting used to the diagnosis, just starting to figure out how she (and they) would fight the disease. Ins…