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Showing posts from June, 2010

Wine and Prayer

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Dear Diary,
I am feeling so uninspired and defeated tonight. I've just spent the last two hours sitting on my back-side, playing my chauffeur role and carting people to and fro.
I had a productive morning: I finally staked my overgrown tomato plants -- half of them at least -- which has been on my to do list for over a month. I was particularly happy about one of my staking solutions. The challenge in front of me was that I had roughly 15-20 plants to trim and stake, and I wanted to find a way to do this without shelling out $8 per tomato cage, which is what I've heard they generally go for. I don't have an extra $160 to spend on tomato cages, so I had to get creative. On most of them, I just used some rebar pieces we had laying around, tied with green gardening ribbon. But in my hunt around the yard for additional rebar, I spied the most delightful wrought iron gate, all unused in a corner, just waiting for a lovely purpose. Voila!



It's been a downhill slide si…

Oh, Puck!

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Robert Sean Leonard as Neil Perry in Dead Poet's Society, playing the part of Puck
It's Shakespearetime again! Our oldest son is back at the California Shakespeare Theatre's Summer Camp, a two-week experience that makes him glow for an entire year. This is his fourth year, and after three tragedies in a row--the plays themselves, not the camp--we finally got a comedy: A Midsummer Night's Dream.

And lo and behold, he landed the coveted part of Puck!

My son is quite a typical 11 almost 12 year old. He loves him some computer games, would spend all his time on the wii (if we let him, and if we currently had one), desperately wants a cell phone, thinks we exist to make his life miserable, can roll his eyes and display disgust like a 16 year old delinquent, and bemoans the fact that we don't eat at fast food restaurants.

But Shakespeare, ah, Shakespeare: Shakespeare lifts this boy up and out of himself and sets him down in an entirely different universe, and he loves lov…

Purple Haze

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Let the Birthday Party Season commence! This past weekend, we hosted a birthday party for our 8 year old. Thus begins a wild ride that will see us hosting four more birthday parties in three and a half months.

Birthday parties render me comatose. After yesterday's festivities, I am in a haze. Thus, the title of this post. The purple? Why, that would be because of this:


She's a self-respecting rockin' eight year old girl, and this was the cake she wanted. Plus a treasure hunt, plus a soccer game. Plus steak. With 11 little friends.

No wonder I'm comatose.

One down, four to go. Must start self-medicating now, and keep myself there until October 13th

You Make a Good Point, Son

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Whew, we're home. We just survived another week of VBS, culminating in the usual Family Dinner complete with dancing and singing from all the campers. Now, we're getting ready to watch a recorded Spain v. Chile game, and Little T is leaning against me heavily, realizing that the day's events have worn her out.

Sam: "Mom, she's sure been a handful today, huh?"

Me, clueless: "Gee, not really. She had a pretty good day."

Sam: "Mom! What about when she was stomping back and forth on the sidewalk next to the van, not getting in the car and making us late for dinner?

Or when we were at the bank and she wouldn't get in her car seat?

Or when she rifled through your purse when you left it on the kitchen table, took your ATM cards out of your wallet and hid them so you didn't have them when we went to the bank?

Or when she wouldn't leave me alone even after you told her to a million times?

Or when she put the battery operated Buzz Lightyea…

Reach for the Stars

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I just finished reading the book The Glass Castle.


A fascinating read, I highly recommend it.

I came away from the experience with a brand new goal for motherhood: Raise each of my five children to adulthood without giving them enough memoir fodder to write a best-selling book about their childhood.

I aim high.

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Of Course. Warning: this post is potty-related. Not for the squeamish.

Little T has been slowly, ever so slowly, inching her way towards being totally diaper free. Daytimes are almost free of diaps: we can go anywhere we need to without a diaper bag, and she never has a pee accident. Poop? Another story. Turns out, she's one of those kids, the ones who resist proper voiding of bms for whatever reason. Control issues? Fear of parting with a significant piece of herself? Just wants to piss me off? Who knows. All I know is that when we are at home, for the past four or five months, we've had successful poops maybe 15 times. The rest of the time, I've been cleaning up an ungodly amount of...well...shit.

Many days, by 5pm or so, I have thrown in the towel (after throwing the actual towels in the washing machine on the hottest possible setting and then needing to do a bleach-only rinse of the machine before putting anything else in there) and resorted to diapers to get me through the evening. No one wants to make dinner while monitoring…

What They REALLY Think About All Day At School

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We are deep into the sheltering arms of summer here at Casa Alatorre.


Today, my nine year old has spent the entire day building an amazing tee-pee fort in the back garden. There is a darn good reason we have kept a large pile of branches in one corner of our yard, and this is it. Today's tee-pee is an improvement on previous models: it's spacious, with room "for seven people, if they're kids" on the inside, and the branches selected don't have offshoots that might poke you in the eye if you stand up in the middle of the tee-pee, a significant upgrade from yesterday's version. Fort Cenzo features a sink with running water (a toy bin set beneath a hose), an archery area (a round garbage bin lid propped up on one side), and a soccer field (pug goals on either end). Four American flags, happy to be pressed into service since being abandoned after the England v. USA world cup match, adorn the top. And best of all, my involvement has been at an all time …

When the To Do List Gets Too Long, Become a Food Blogger

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There are 19 items on my to-do list today. I have done 11 of them. I started the day with five kids, shed two at a day camp, and then picked up three more friends, so I'm at +1 from baseline at the moment. There are many things happening around here, and the 11 shiny undone to-do items are winking at me from yonder on the table. I feel like ignoring them, so I have decided to become a food blogger.

Thank you to Nicole (who gave birth to two of the friends here at the moment) for giving me a lovely idea to try with my fresh-from-the-garden, just-picked radishes. Radishes are ravishing. Here is one of the beauties my kids picked this afternoon:



And here is what I did with it:



Yum. Nicole recommended a good slice of bread (I toasted mine), a little butter, thinly sliced ravishing radishes, and a spray of salt across the top. It was a lovely little pick-me-up, better than the coffee I was scheming about.

So yeah, I needed a little distraction; but I can't actually become a f…

Another Reason Kids and Technology Do Not Mix

Stumbled on this blog today. Had to share this post. Classic.

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How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth...

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...are my children.

And curse you, Will Shakes, for penning words that have proven only too true under my roof.

If she must teem,
Create her child of spleen, that it may live
And be a thwart disnatur'd torment to her!
Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth,
With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks,
Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
To laughter and contempt, that she may feel
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child!

King Lear Act 1, scene 4, 281–289

To make matters worse, I have teemed five times, so that five serpents' teeth can cut me to the quick. What have I done to deserve the cadent tears and the wrinkled brow? I am no less innocent than Cordelia herself, and yet I endure the eye-rolling, the puffs of disgust and the scorn in spades. What have I done to deserve this?

Oh, THAT'S right: I decided to take the kids somewhere fun today. No wonder my name is anathema to them.

We were having an uneventful day around here. Three Wor…

52 T-Shirts

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I am in the process of weeding through my children's clothing. This week, I’ve been focusing on the boys' clothes. Without finishing the laundry and before counting whatever t-shirts might by on their floor, behind their beds, balled up in their closet, cast off in the minivan, stuck God knows where, I have so far counted 52 boy t-shirts.

There is something seriously wrong with two boys owning 52 t-shirts.

I wonder how many shirts the average 10 year old boy in Haiti has. Or had, before the earthquake, and then how many he has now. I wonder how many shirts the average South African 10 year old boy has. How many shirts did he have to choose from to wear on the day he watched his countrymen play Mexico in the opening game of the World Cup? For that matter, I wonder how many shirts the average school-kid has in my own urban and afflicted city.

I'm guessing none of those three hypothetical boys has anywhere near 26 t-shirts (52 divided by my two male offspring).

I figure I'll…

Should I Keep It?

So I selected a new template from blogger. Should I keep it?

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Dizzy

Yesterday, my day consisted of getting new tires, searching for live crickets, buying live silkworms instead, trying to talk to the rackin-frackin insurance company, dealing with a daughter who keeps pooping in her underwear, working on art projects for Father's Day, watching part or all of three world cup games (we're sad Cameroon lost), going on a handful of errands (including one that earned me a beer with a favorite family), completing and mailing next school year's enrollment forms, and feeding people.

No wonder I am dizzy.

This past Sunday, we drove five hours, 2.5 hours into the foothills for a birthday party and 2.5 hours back. Once again, my love for farmland and foothills was re-affirmed and strengthened. It's absolutely beautiful out there in the middle of nowhere.

The linguist Geoff Nunberg, a professor at Cal, did a radio essay yesterday on the NPR program Fresh Air about how haiku has been all over twitter. You can listen to it here:



I do not twitter, but …

I Am Not A Pillow

I have three daughters whom I adore. They adore me too. They like to be close to me. Really, really close to me. They smother me.

I love cuddling with one of them. Doesn't matter which one, but one seems to be the limit for me to be able to enjoy the time together. Any more than that and I turn into She Who Must Not Be Touched.

When my family is, say, watching a World Cup soccer game, which we've been doing a fair amount of, I usually end up standing behind the couch. If I attempt to sit down, I am promptly covered in girl children. They sit on any available portion of my body, my legs, arms, head, if need be. They attempt to achieve as high a percentage as possible of body to body contact. They crush me.

When I sit down to, say, write a blog post, it takes about 5.3 seconds before a girl child (or two or three) is pressing against my arm, leaning into my side and invading my space. Like right now as I type, and keep having to correct spelling because it's hard to …

7 Quick Takes Friday: Volume 8

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1. What do you call one terrible event, followed by multiple, wonderful acts of kindness and generosity? A big fat juicy blessing in disguise. And not a very good disguise at that.

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2. Children's responses to our recent theft:

Panicky 5 year old with tear-filled eyes just ready to spill over: "Did they take my blankeys?"

Distraught 9 year old: "I JUST UNLOCKED THAT GAME AND NOW I HAVE TO START ALL OVER!"

Clueless 3 year old: "They left a buncha stuff on da flowuh." (No, sweetheart, your room looked like this before "they" broke in; sorry.)

Cool, collected 7 year old: "I hate people."

And last, but not to be outdone by a single, solitary soul, my emotive 11 year old: "F*CK! THAT'S JACKED UP!" Ahem. I don't know where he learned to speak that way.

* * * 3. I cry at Spelling Bees, Kindergarten graduations, and World Cup opening ceremonies. But just for the record, that first goal scored by Mexico this mornin…

Just Things

Just Things were taken from us yesterday.

I came home from dropping the kids at school and discovered that our front door had been kicked in. Plaster, nails, splinters of wood were scattered across my front hall.

This is the first time something like this has happened to us. Luckily, we are all completely safe, unharmed, whole, and well.

Luckily, I was by myself when I walked in, no kids with me, so no kids around to see me shaking like a leaf, rocked to the core, teary, confused, overwhelmed, stricken.

Luckily, "they" took our computers, camera, ipod, wii, games, but left our precious sentimental stuff undisturbed.

Luckily, "they" didn't find my son's ipod, or his stash of cash. Luckily, my son is a complete slob, or his stuff would have been far easier to find.

Luckily, I reluctantly agreed to have coffee with a friend after dropping off the kids, or I would have been home.

The worst part was telling the kids and watching the knowledge that some…

I Wonder What Kind of Beer Obama Drinks

Yesterday, we bar-b-qued for dinner, an activity that always entails many trips back and forth between the kitchen and the bbq area of the backyard. We tend to leave our drinks in various locations, so part of tonight was devoted to questions like: Whose beer is this? Did you take yours outside? Had you already had this much? Is this one mine or yours? You know, important questions. Questions of family stability and marital harmony.

My nine year old, sensing the weight we place on such matters, remarked: "You guys talk about beer like Obama talks about health insurance."

I think he's on to us.

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No Wonder My Stomach Feels Odd

Tonight, I'd like to share a bit of funny from my brother.
Click that link. Come back. Leave a comment.
Now, let's see how well you all follow instructions.
*smiley face*
And in a random edition of You Know You Have A Big Family When...
you make 14 hot dogs baked in pizza dough for lunch, and people are still hungry when they're gone.
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7 Quick Takes Friday: Volume 7

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1. World Cup Fever has swept through our house. Almost everyone has been hit, and hit hard, by the epidemic.

Those, my friends, are flags from 25 of the 32 countries competing in the 2010 celebration of the beautiful game. The other seven are still under construction, but will be added soon, I am sure.

And this promo gets played and replayed around here. Give yourself a treat and watch it. My son has taken to telling me to "Write the future, mom."



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2. Do you ever feel like the day is just impossibly short? Why is it that even though I have 3 hours stretching in front of my before I have to pick up the kids from school, I already feel defeated, like there's no way I can get even one thing done? Today is one of those days. I feel like throwing in the towel and taking a nap. That's fine, from time to time; but a stronger feeling I have is the desire to NOT feel monumentally behind when the kids are unleashed from school for the weekend. Really, for the summ…

Award Love

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One of the most wonderful parts of blogging, for me, has been the opportunity to read amazing writing that I'm sure I would not otherwise ever see. Reading the words of my fellow bloggers reassures me that the written word is alive and thriving, not dying on the internet vine as some might have us believe. Equally wonderful has been the warm and enthusiastic responses I've enjoyed from friends and strangers to my own writing. I've always wanted to be a writer; thanks to Blog Land, I get to be.

Yesterday, I received a blog award from Teacher Mommy at Diapers and Dragons (don't worry, links below). She really shouldn't have, because I am long overdue in giving HER one, for a wonderful and creative post of hers from a few weeks ago. But she did anyway, because she's just that devious kind.

All of this got me thinking about how much blogs and blogging have become a part of my life over the past few years. How many of us check our favorite writers every morning?…

Dirty Laundry

No scandalous secrets here, just loads and loads of laundry. Dirty clothes on the floors of the kids' rooms. Dirty clothes down by the washing machine. Damp towels on the bathroom floor. Clean clothes in the washer, waiting to be moved to the dryer. Clean clothes in the dryer, waiting to be folded. My laundry table, covered in clean clothes, some folded, most not, waiting to be moved. FOUR baskets of clean clothes in my bedroom, waiting to be put away. All of it, every last stitch, needing to be evaluated and divided into Keep, Toss, Give Away piles.

The phrase Dirty Laundry does not apply merely to what needs to be washed. Dirty is a general adjective to convey the exceedingly high level of my antipathy for laundry. Kind of like saying I have so much f***ing laundry, or "it's a dirty, scrappy, unpleasant, never-ending job, but someone's got to do it."

I fear I will not prevail over this laundry. I fear I am already defeated. The only thing to do is to…