Saturday, December 30, 2006

Oh Brother, Congrats!

The other day we went to Seaside for the day and while we were walking along the boardwalk my brother Andy and his girlfriend Meghann called. The fact that they were calling again after having just called the night before, the fact that they were both on the line, the fact that my brother sounded, well, different (in a good way!) could only mean one thing............

They got engaged!
Standing there half crying, half congratulating was a highpoint of this holiday season for me. He's my little brother and he proposed and he's getting married! AAAA! Not only that, he's one of my favorite people and he's found a great gal and they are one of those couples that are just....right! Meghann will officially be AUNT Meghann. They will one day have kids and be GREAT parents. Now if we could just get them to move closer to us. L.A. is ever so far away.

I'm getting misty again just thinking about all they have before them. Congrats, guys!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Presence of Presents

Remember calling your friends to talk about your Christmas loot? Just for a tiny second let's pretend we're little kids excited about our presents and this is your call from me.

There are new toys littering the rug, not TOO many, but enough. We have a 18" doll, lacing cards, a doll stroller, a Curious George jack-in-the-box, a doctor kit, dress-up princess clothes, yaddada, yaddada yaddada. After all was said and done, both girls fell asleep holding one of these, their contented lips stained with pez.

My husband got me great stuff, including the Corelle Vintage Floral dishes I once admired, (which I still totally admire but which looked really different color-wise online) a subscription to Blueprint magazine, a set of 24 colorful Sharpies, the calendar I ALWAYS get, some Ghiradelli Peppermint Hot Chocolate, some new sewing shears and pins, (neither which had been replaced since the mid-80's when I invested in my Jr. High sewing kit) and THIS! He done good, my hubby. I got some cashola from my in-laws which I used to buy cozy flannel sheets and a quilt for our king-sized bed (formerly partially covered with a full-sized quilt). I got a present for myself too: a pottery casserole dish from the 60's. Totally cute. Made by Northington. Could not find it at all on ebay.

And as for the gems I purchased for my darling husband(okay, please do not stop reading, I know this has reached the boring mark but maybe you might wanna know!) two new fluffy towels, a tv tray, an issue of Runners magazine, a new coffee maker, a book of easy classical piano music, the Free to Be You and Me CD, Junior Mints, Altoids,and a yet to be received but totally rich DVD (hint: 70's series featuring really unrealistic dinosaurs, little hairy people and a blonde girl with braids).

I am blessed in so many ways, in ways WAY beyond STUFF. My stuff is the kind of stuff nobody would want to break into my house and steal. But my really meaningful posessions including my darling family, my health, etc. are invaluable. My hope for you as we inch towards celebrating a new year, is that whatever you have, all the stuff that isn't STUFF, you keep, treasure, and smile upon. That's what I plan to do. Oh, and learn how to make that BBQ Chicken salad they serve at California Pizza Kitchen. As the ever-so-obnoxious-talker Rachel Ray would say, Yum-O.Yes. I did just quote Rachel Ray. At least I did not get her Yum-O t-shirt for Christmas and tell you about it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Santa, You Out There?

We are ever so excited around here for Christmas. You know, to the point that we wait by the window and watch for Santa to drive by in his pick-up. Our Playmobile advent calendar has only four boxes yet to open, the Christmas tree is completely dead, and mommy has been cut off from buying any more gifts, which can only signal one thing: Christmas is only days away!

This year while watching Charlie Brown's Christmas special I really had to CRINGE at some of the mean things the Peanuts gang said. You think differently about these things as a mom, and especially as a mom whose preschooler will understand and imitate what she's watching. Not a problem if she's imitating the dance moves, but surely a problem if she's running around quoting Lucy's, "I oughtta slug you!"

As for the new Charlie Brown Christmas special tacked onto the end of the original, I thought it was pretty bad, built to be bratty so today's kids would like it, but all in all: LAME. And Sally's voice? Sally's voice and the sound of it stirred extreme feelings of anger within, feelings of anger that reached a hard boil and could have been turned into angry taffy. Charles Schultz had to be rolling over in his grave.

All commentary aside, for anyone who loves Scrubs and the Charlie Brown Christmas special, I found this little gem on YouTube last night when reading my favorite celebrity blog (and the first blog I ever read). I tell you what, it is ten minutes of true hilarity. Let's hope your computer is more advanced than this dino I'm using, as watching videos just about cracks mine in half.

I also found another gem that I totally remember from Sesame Street, The Milk Crisis. I used to sing the "Milk...Mi-ilk" part when Jooge was a baby and our lives revolved around milk.

Okay, it's time for mommy to step away from the computer.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Oh Tannenbaum

One of my strongest memories as a kid is watching the Christmas tree glowing in a dark room, sending cool colorful branch shadows onto the ceiling. And, this year, I went from being a white light girl, to one preferring colored lights. Go figure.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Santa Drives a Chevy

This sight is what greeted us at our favorite Christmas tree farm a few weeks ago. When I saw him I busted out the camera and thankfully, he obliged. Now that I look at the picture more closely and notice his rather unkindly facial expression, I guess I was lucky to get this moment captured on film without clear view of his middle finger. I just couldn't help myself. This was SANTA after all, the giver of gifts and granter of wishes and I really really wanted to capture him arriving for duty in his Chevy brand sleigh.

Were we able to snap any pictures of the darling girls with Santa? That would be a big fat NO. Neither child would be caught within feet of his authentically curled white beard. Jooge stood back at least 20 feet and muttered, "I'm going to think about it,"never getting to tell Santa about the snow globe she wants (that would be of the air-filled lawn variety) nor retrieving her complimentary candy cane. (Mommy the enabler did this for her). Avery came a little closer because my husband and I were kneeling next to Santa trying (trying!!) to coax the un-coaxable. But that was about it for visiting the Chevy driver dressed in red. My girls? Totally more interested in feeding the goats.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Goodbye

Accepting the fate of James Kim has been really hard. I still find myself thinking about it often, randomly telling my husband facts in some sort of strange post-processing manner. "He walked eight miles!" will burst forth in the middle of a conversation about something else. If I could I would give them a hug hard and powerful. This man, this sweet family, I will never forget.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Let's Go James!

I can't stop thinking about the Kim family, and in particular, James. Lost, alone in the woods, and in who knows what condition, I just can't get him out of my head. I am obsessed. I keep checking the news, filled up with hope to the brim. Yesterday morning the ipod was on shuffle and so many lyrics seemed to be echoing my thoughts. "Nowhere man........" "Lost in the wilderness" "Askin' where ya been, like I know..." "You will find peace of mind." Silly, but interesting. I am waiting for good news. Get on it searchers! Find James!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Being Buddies


Someone around here is pretty fond of her little sister these days.
The other night we were reading and out of the blue Jooge said, "I think I like my sister after all." I've witnessed her taking Avery into her room sweetly by the hand, declaring, "You're my sister, Bubie." I have heard her say, "Oh, Bub, you have to go potty? I will help you." It reminds me of when my brothers and I were were young and we were getting along, we would ask each other, "Wanna be buddies?"
Avery's response has been fun to watch. Whereas before she was dodging (or burried in!) bodyslams, now she is beginning to relax. The way she says, "Hi, sis," is without fear. Interestingly, when I ask Avery her name, she says, "Julia." There is more peaceful playing together. There is sharing. I glimpse gentle touches. I see them inching close, forming connections, and finding the reasons we wanted them to have siblings in the first place.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Another Cookie Recipe

I have produced a child whose sweet tooth, like my own, is so super it has its own cape.

Back when I was teaching, our school cafeteria ladies would make the best cookies! They were unlike anything I'd ever tasted, fudgy and studded with chocolate chips and dates. Whenever they would make them I would be so excited. One day I was able to wrangle the recipe from Karen, the HEAD cook, who took a lot of pleasure in making cookies that I had piled on my desk at the end of the day after a lot of lunchroom bribes.

The other day I made some of these cookies. They were sitting on the counter cooling and Julia REALLY wanted one, so badly that I watched as she began to stack things near the counter so she could climb up and access them. I believe her actual quote was, "I'm gonna stand on 100 things to get the cookies." She climbed. She hummed. It was hilarious. She was rewarded with HALF a cookie which caused her to run rabid like Phillip the hyper hypo. As I had just eaten a few myself, we ran amok crazily, together.


And now, the recipe:
1 cup butter
1/4 cups shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 quart flour (Yeah, I know, but remember, it started as a mammoth school recipe!)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 cup dates
1 cup chocolate chips
Bake at 325 for 12 minutes and ENJOY the heck out of them!

Good Times in a Big Teracotta Pot

The growing girls: Avery (currently19 mos.) and Julia (currently 3 years 5 mos.)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Goodwill Hunting


Friday morning I woke up from a dream where I'd found some choice items at Goodwill. Guess what WE did that morning? Here's my haul:
Package of IKEA magazine holders still in the package. (Here they are assembled). .99

HUGE bulletin board (which I'd been totally looking for for awhile) which I am going to decoupage with cool printed tissue paper. $2.99

Pair of blue shoes that look just like some I had when I was a kid. $2.49

A bunch of Christmas fabric that I am going to make into some fabric buntings like these. $6.00

A bag of cotton stuffed Christmas Ornaments like the ones we had when I was a kid. $1!

A Ravensburger number game. .99

A Folkmanis Princess puppet. $1.99

A new red fabric photo box Target price tag still on the box $2.99

A mug for Julia to drink her berry tea in .49

A good trip to the thrift store? Priceless.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Say Cheese!


Avery does this every time the camera comes out and she hears the word, "Cheese." For hilarity's sake I had to post it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Do I hear $40, Can I get $50?


Tonight was the auction for Jooge's school. We shelled out a little cashola on stuff like a Saturday cooking class taught by a preschool friend and mom, a photo calendar, four ballet classes at a local "DANCE CONSERVATORY" (said with jaw raised and tight), and this cool big magnetic white board with each of her classmates photos made into little magnetic models and stuck to it. SAWEET!

I'd never been to an auction before but it was quite the adventure. The silent auction was fun. I bid $44 on THE BEST, THE CUTEST hand-knit poncho/skirt combo that looked like Hannah Andersson herself had popped it on the table,and it went for $45 and then I bid $20 on a $50 Gymboree gift certificate that went for $21. (Am I cursed with being timid? Uh, yeah)! One of the coolest offerings was having the teacher come to your kid's house and read them a bedtime story with a message from her inscribed inside. It went for $250!

I was pretty p.o.ed because the doll I made was shoved in a celophane wrapped collection of crap toys. THE NERVE. I understand the logic behind grouping like things together but with homemade stuff it should either ALL be homemade or the homemade stuff should be solo. My husband was ranting about it in line with two women who luckily didn't turn out to be responsible. It was sweet and loyal. Thanks, hon.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Happy To You

One year ago on a chilly November day, my blog burst forth amidst sparks and fireworks. Writing somewhat regularly has served a very important purpose, namely becoming one of many creative endeavors I have pursued to make my life more balanced.

In the spirit of moving towards year two of the blog, I have a few GOALS. As most do in the second year, I'd like this blog to get accustomed to sitting on the potty, to walking, talking, using eating untensils, you know, stuff like that. It would be nice to wean it of its bottle, to get it to start brushing its teeth, to maybe get it to say please and thank you.

But seriously, I've been wanting to redesign the blog a bit, which I know nothing about but which may mean switching to a new site. I've been pretty happy with Blogger but Typepad seems to be calling my name. I would like to include links and have a section about favorite books, music, etc. Expect big blog makeovers in other words.

I would like to write more often and more openly. I'd like to let posts fly into cyberspace without being perfect. I would like to gain a larger audience. I have even considered launching a more minor but equally thrilling "sister blog" about..........Wouldn't you like to know? Stay tuned for this possibility. I mean I gave birth to two children, why not two blogs?

I have lofty ideas, I know, but that's what birthdays are for, looking forward, lighting candles, singing amidst the candle's glow.

To anyone who comes back regularly for more, thanks for reading! Avery is now taking this out with her rendition of "Happy Birthday" which she sings, "Happy to you...."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Twirl Girl


You know how dresses and skirts, to a kid, are only really worth something if they twirl? This gem found on sale at Baby Gap last weekend? Truly priceless.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Li'l Red


I crafted this little dolly for our school auction next week. It was so hard to give her up today.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Walking Beside Princesses


In your class,
12 are girls,
and 8 came dressed
as princesses.
Thankfully,
my little Monarch Butterfly,
you weren't one of them.

Let the courage
to be who you are
start now,
walking brave,
wings unfurled,
next to the princesses.

-for Julia my beautiful butterfly, Love, Mommy

Monday, October 30, 2006

"Kee-Coo!" "More!"


Some serious cookie baking happened around here on Friday producing the most delish sugar cookies I think I have tasted in a long time. In an effort to provide you with a treat more meaningful than my words on the screen here is the recipe......Happy Halloween!

Molly's Grandma's Sugar Cookies
1 1/2 c. sifted powdered sugar
1 c. butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar

Frosting recipe:(modified slightly from Molly's G-ma's recipe)
1/2 c. unsalted butter
3 c. powdered sugar
2 T milk
1 tsp. vanilla

For the cookies: cream sugar and butter then add egg and vanilla. Blend dry ingredients and add. Refridgerate for 3 hours. Roll out dough. Cut into shapes and bake @375 for 7-8 minutes. (It is advisable to roll the dough a bit thicker so the cookies don't break so easily and to watch them while they bake because they cook fast and the longer they cook the more fragile they get.)
For the frosting: cream butter and sugar together, adding vanilla and milk next.
ENJOY!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Veruca's Back


Are these not the CUTEST dishes? And they are Corelle! We had Corningware (I think Corelle made these) growing up. Though not the loveliest pattern, we dropped them, they would not break. They never showed signs of wear and tear. You could stack a thousand in the cupboard and still have room. They were light to carry. They could be microwaved and would not burn your hands afterwards. (At least I don't think they did). Could you ask any more from a dish?

Our current dilema with our dishes is that 1) They are a mishmash from my husband and I combining our goods when we got married. 2) They are pottery so they tend to sear the phalanges when handled after microwaving. 3) They are easy to break and heavy. And the mellamine and plastic ones we use for the kids can't be microwaved either for fear of leaching harmful BPA's into our daughter's food. I'd love to fill the shelves with the Polish Pottery I fell in love with last year but alas, the budget will not allow.

Corelle's dishes are the obvious answer to solving all of our dish dilemmas. Santa, are you listening..........?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What Would Martha Stewart Do?


Any friends we have visited in the past few weeks have made me realize by their example that people decorate for holidays. People hang pumpkin garlands or ghostly lantern lights. People frame doorways with Happy Halloween banners and motion activated skull mobiles.

And then there's our house.

It's not that I don't like to decorate, I just usually only do it at Christmas. The rest of the holidays, well, they come knocking at our door and are welcomed to Screwedville. That may have to change now that my kids are getting old enough to notice, and old enough not to abuse whatever decorative gourds are, as Martha Stewart would say, "FESTOONING" our entry way.

So, this week we have been decorating. With some excellent examples of homemade decor at Jooge's friend Tenne's house, we got busy producing kleenex ghosts, handprint bats, and spooky blown paint ghosts. Lemmie tell ya, this place really is spookified. I figure after All Hallows Eve has passed I will round up a few choice decorations that are on the clearance rack at Target or Ross, though none will quite compare with our homemade ones.

This weekend we will carve pumpkins and round up Deely Boppers for Julia's butterfly costume. We will sink our teeth into delicious sugar cookies frosted with the tastiest of buttercreams. We will hand out treats to mini McSteamys(They had a picture of a kid dressed up like this on Ellen yesterday) and we will take a short trek around the block to experience trick or treating for the first time, stopping to give a "shout out" to the huge Pooh hanging out on a nearby porch. In short, we will join the spirit of the holiday. And that? As Martha Stewart herself would say, that's a good thing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hair Talk

I know I seem to write about hair with some frequency, (at least those precious tendrils that grow from my girls' noggins), but HAIR I go again. (Sorry. That was bad. I'm a cheeseball).

I've recently been made aware of a trend amongst the fashion forward and Hollywood elite (Okay, among Jessica Simpson and anyone else that goes to her hair dude) where they are DYING THEIR ROOTS TO LOOK DARK. Yes folks, you heard me right. It's suddenly COOL to have roots contrasting with the rest of your color. What luck-I had the look going and didn't even know it! At this rate I need not schedule my much belated color appointment. I'm SET.

And something else that occurred to me the other day while showering...Do you think the label on our hair products say anything about us? Think about it. One of my recent shampoo bottles boasted that it was for hair with NO MAJOR ISSUES (and in a pretty big font)! Did I choose it because the label reflects my own perception about my life, or even bigger: about the life I WANT to have? Kinda makes you wonder. Do I choose moisturizing conditioner when my life is in a dry spell? When my mousse promises LIFT is it really a life lift I need? Yes, I'll admit, these ideas are wacky. AND,they are replacing important shower tasks like doing self-check exams-especially in OCTOBER, HEL-LO Tia it IS Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Still though, I wonder. What does your shampoo say about YOU?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Big Pumpkins, Little World


We went pumpkin patching at Roloff's farm, very near our house. Yes, THE ROLOFFS of Little People Big World fame. It was a cool experience because we saw pretty much everyone in the family at some point and I am all for a star-sighting. At the same time, it felt kind of voyeuristic. I mean these people are just PEOPLE, and though I was guilty of wanting to see them, everyone there was snapping pictures, uttering phrases like, "I just saw Zach driving the tractor" and the pumpkins were all just laying there going, "Uh, hello people, didn't you come to get US?" As we were leaving we stopped so Amy, driving her youngest son in their minivan, could leave their driveway, but she just sat, almost in a daze, watching the line of cars leaving the patch. Though we actually shared a smile, I'm sure her expression before that was almost one of regret, that they'd allowed this world in, and that though they were profitting from it, it had compromised something gone from their former lives.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

TEEF!


Avery's favorite new pasttime is known as "TEEF!" First she climbs the step stool to stand at the sink. Next, she turns the water on, experimenting with the left side for "HOT!" and the right for "COLD!" (ALWAYS said with a dramatic shiver). Then, the "brushing" commences. She loads her brush up with water, then alternately chews on it and sucks off the water. She would probably stand at the sink and do it for hours if allowed.

Frightwig


We used to use the word Frightwig when I was a kid for someone with CRAZY hair, as in: get-yourself-to-a-barber-QUICK! hair. (Oooh, I just realized I sound like that annoying Yoplait commercial-sorry!) As the picture aptly illustrates, Avery was becoming our house Frightwig, sporting hair wings that were about to lift her skyward, despite my formerly mentioned attempts at cutting it. Well, that was the case anyway until yesterday when my friend taught me how to REALLY, PROPERLY cut hair.It's short and boyish NOW, but it's a classic sweet shape, and will be especially cute when it grows out a bit. She is cute no matter the hair, but I especially like the way the bangs frame her face. So long little mini-Frightwig!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pre School Here We Come!


We are sooooo ready for preschool.

Tomorrow will be the first official day, the day when Julia gets to go it alone.

Tuesday we went and had our first introduction to the classroom with half of the kids, each accompanied by their parents. The first hour and a half is spent having free choice time. We spent lots of time with the playdough. There were sticks and beads and tools and the playdough looked like cookie dough so though you probably subconsciously wanted to eat it, handling its vanilla texture was enough.

I'm so thrilled we ended up at this school, it is a perfect fit. There are hidden treasures around every corner and the kids have access to EVERYTHING! It's all set up for them, like when they have snack THEY get to pick what they want, and how much, and then THEY get to POUR THEIR OWN DRINKS. It's not like a snack free-for-all, there's plenty of adult support and guidance, but what bliss for Jooge! After seeing this I was ready to head down to the Tupperware KIOSK for our own mini spill-proof pitchers. Brilliant.

Her teacher is a genius. Twenty years of early childhood genius resides in her soul and I get to be her assistant and glean wisdom from her. Of course making new friends with her fellow classmates will be rich too. She's already made friends with one of the boys in her class through the park visits this summer and they are quite a pair.

Did I mention we are SOOOO ready for preschool?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Will You Look at This Face?



It's been happening since she turned one. She's a girl turned towards progress. New words every day-her first sentence an emphatic: "No bite!" New ways of getting from point A to point B like clomping around in her sister's shoes, and running. She is always busy, putting the straps of her bathing suits around her neck to hang cape-like. Of course there's also the chalk eating. Each time I squeeze chalk-tinged drool from her cheeks I feel utter exasperation-she won't stop doing it! We've broken into the box of Julia's 18-24 month clothes, which it feels like she just wore yesterday.

Now t.v. holds her attention for at least ten minutes, but usually not more. The sight of the two of them lying captivated by a show is so dang cute I sometimes just watch them watching t.v. and forget that's my ten minutes to DO SOMETHING I can't do when they're not otherwise entertained. She says "Elmo" and "Nemo" when pointing to her sister's coloring books and likes to climb up and extract the "color!" from the drawer all by herself. She is learning to drink out of a cup and practices much to my dismay in the bathtub. Now she will cock her head to face my face and ask, "Doing?" as though to inquire about my current activity.

She loves to point out birds flying by,("BIRDIE!") and anything shaped like a semi-circle is declared a "moon." She leans in for kisses when asked only some of the time, but when she's in her highchair will demand "HUG" with arms outstretched to Julia. And the way she says, "Jooge!" One of the best positions to find her in is her little crouch as she sniffs flowers. She says a bright, "Hi!" to the polaroid of Julia and her preschool teacher hanging on the fridge. I am constantly wanting to fix her haircut, which she actually lets me do. She also lets me give her medicine in droppers, which Jooge never did. In new places, she will cry her heart out if I leave her for even a minute. And when we go apple picking she demands her own "apple" and we give it to her, even if she might choke on the peel.

Oh the sweetness that is our Bub.

Off the Clock

After a grueling week of sick kids, breathing treatments for sick kids, worry about sick kids, preschool orientations, making sure we even wanted to attend the preschool when it was unclear whether they had a firm policy against anyone being in the bathroom alone with the kids, the cancellation of yet another painting class I tried to take, the stress of the Intel layoffs, a day of husband-in-a-football-coma yesterday, as of 2pm today I was granted a "night off." It was perfect timing because I was beginning to feel surly and resentful. I NEEDED a night off.

First thing I did was see "The Last Kiss" with Zach Braff, who I really love. He was pretty good in it, though his characters behavior was hard to excuse. You'll have to see it if you haven't. It makes you think about what you would forgive, and why people do the things they do and about marriage and how fricken hard it is, but how it's worth it to work at it. I really thought Jacina Barrett, former Real World England gal, did a GREAT JOB opposite Zach. Very good actress. Oh and did I mentione I spent $10.75 on movie snacks: popcorn, milk duds (eaten together of course) and a coke, which I never drink. Totally indulgent. Totally enjoyable.

Anyway, after that movie I felt a little pensive so I am now locked up with the computer and actually blogging, since I usually have OTHER THINGS TO DO, like clean and do laundry. SO. Blogging doesn't usually get to be a priority but it is so therapeutic for me and I totally need to do it more.

Next on my list is a good walk. I LOVE being outside. The air is starting to get crisp and moving in the evening outside always makes me happy. I've also been really into podcasts lately. I subscribe to CRAFT SANITY and CRAFTY POD, and they inspire my crafty sensibilities so I have a new one to listen to. My husband and I are supposed to have an "in house date night" tonight, so that's also something to look forward to. I'm excited about Daiquiris and Scrabble.

Everyone needs a day off now and then, and I am thankful for mine. When do you get to take yours?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I Wanna Be a Doodlebop

Have you ever seen The Doodlebops? DeeDee, Rooney and Moe are these gleeful, brightly painted people with only the crispest dance moves. Their songs get caught in my head EVERY time. For this, I am thankful that my kids aren't especially into them. Rooney cracks me up because of how effeminate he is. Whenever they are on, it's pretty rich to watch his, well, enthusiasm.

ANYWAY, we've been getting a ton of catalogs around here lately, one of the richest being the Costume Express catalog. When I opened it the funniest costumes BY FAR were the ones for DeeDee and Rooney! Aren't they rich?

Jooge decided long ago that she wanted to be a butterfly, and Pottery Barn Kids sells THE BEST NON-CHEESIEST BUTTERFLY COSTUME EV-ER, but for a pretty penny, (actually for a pretty 10,000 pennies). Do I have $100 in my budget for this? No. Nor do I have the budget for the adorable ladybug for Avery either. OKay, so they only make it in 2T and up. She's a tall girl for 17 months. We could make it work.

Monday, September 04, 2006

It's the Little Things!


We saw our first chestnuts on a walk today. I'm pretty sure my excitement in seeing them goes back to childhood when they were the best surprises lying on the grass for me to compulsively collect. I feel like a little kid because I will never not want to pick them up when I see them. Have you ever really stopped to look at a chestnut? There are whorls and swirls in different shades of brown and red. They shine as though polished. I even found two nestled in the soft white bed of their pod together. It's the little things, I tell ya, that make this life a sweet one.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Going Swimmingly?


Jooge has been enrolled in swimming class every day for the past two weeks. She loves going and is doing really well. Three and four year-olds are a kick to watch too because they're in perpetual motion, heads bobbing, bodies bouncing, all the while the teacher gives commands and they follow them when they're not distracted by splashing or saying hi to their nearby moms. Hilarious.

Well today Tessa, the normal teacher, was gone and in her place was Malcom. I mentioned to Jooge that Tessa would be gone today, and expected that it would be an issue, but wasn't sure how much. Luckily, as we arrived, the other three year-old in the class, Dana, was clinging to her mom and pouting. But eventually she went in. And the Jooge? She did a facedown rigid collapse on the wet deck of the pool. Tears. No way was she going in the pool with a new teacher. I swept her showered pre-pool body up and sat with her for awhile. She came around a little. I talked to her about being brave, we sat and watched. Malcom beckoned with a game of her favorite: Ring Around The Rosy. But when we decided to go and sit closer to the edge, it turned into another freak out, and we were done.

I am really getting to know my child better through these new experiences. She does not like change. She does not like someone new to present themselves. It takes TIME to ease into these transitions, and a half hour isn't usually enough. All the persuading in the world may not have moved her into that warm water today. As a result, she missed out on a favorite part of her day.

I am really wrestling with the correct way to respond in these situations. Knowing how sensitive she is, it would have traumatized her to MAKE her get in the pool. Plus, she is so headstrong that there would have been no way because it's impossible to MAKE her do anything when she's made up her mind she doesn't want to do it. It helps to just accept her as she is, especially developmentally. Three year-olds and change? Forget about it!

But at the same time, there's a part of me that really wishes that I would have persisted in getting her into the dang water, giving her the message that I expected her to be brave, that I wasn't going to give her an out because I knew she could do it. IS she the wimp or am I?

After about ten minutes of gentle coaxing, I had to follow through with what I'd threatened: it was either in the pool, or we were heading home. And when we left, I felt frustrated, sort of like I feel a lot of the time when our wills are meeting for a showdown. I yearned for her flexibility. I'm sure I even said, "Someday you'll be more flexible." In the car I was able to breathe deeply enough to voice my understanding. In allowing her to be nervous she opened up more about it. It was OKAY that she like Tessa better. Validation goes a long way with anyone, but especially a reluctant three year-old.

With motherhood it seems there is no such thing as an easy stroke. All I can I do is plug my nose and keep diving in. There are tantrums lurking beneath the surface and new wakes I must daily cross no matter WHO is teaching the class, breathing and persisting, the only way.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hi

For those of you who care, I apologize for the infrequent posts. I am currently coming to you thanks to Blue's Clues, which has both girls captivated so I can...sigh...write. Last weekend I went to Seattle to visit my friends who are nearly ready to hit the hospital for the birth of their firstborn. It was a great visit punctuated by some shopping, delicious cupcake eating, my first pedicure, (why was that my first?!) relaxation, tasty meals out, sleeping in. You know, basically a deserved reprieve and quality friend time. I did feel bad leaving behind two sick kids with my husband. Poor guy. I brought back these, made by Manhattan Toy for presents. They are the softest and oh so hugable. Basically pig and bunny have been going everywhere with us, to swimming lessons, the grocery store, etc.

The dirt babies have grown afros. They're a little irksome with the roots poking from beneath too. Pretty rich though.


I made Jooge a book the other day, "Julia's Amazing Summer." We did so much this summer, yet I keep wondering where in the HECK did summer go? I am in awe of time's ruthless pace.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Darn Good Time


We are pictured here at the Clackamas County Fair, a fair I attended in my early teen days when we lived in Canby. Good times. This time, we went as a family and dined on GREEZY corndogs, pork sandwiches, funnel cakes, and for Jooge, ice cream. (Poor Avery had "cack-oh's"). Jooge rode on her first ride, the one that my brothers and I always tried to imitate the noise of....(can't you just hear it from your youth, it was either cars or motor cycles and they went "EH EH EH EH EH" in punchy little syllabic sounds). Also, we watched a dance troup from Lake Oswego, "beautiful ballerinas," played in the big box of corn, and made "dirt babies."
These are nylons stuffed with grass seed and dirt, then adorned with faces. You soak them in water for two minutes, then let their "tails" soak in water and eventually they grow hair (sprouts) which you can cut. Pretty fun.
Oh and the animals. We loved seeing the animals. Check out this goat that totally posed for the picture with Jooge....

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Okay, Cue The Tears


We've been going to Beaverton Library's Toddler story time for over a year now and today was the last day for the summer session. When it picks up again very late in September we will already be in preschool on Tuesdays. So, today was our last day! (For Jooge anyway). I got choked up when I thought about it. We are about to abandon one of our favorite weekly rituals so that she can begin SCHOOL! It is officially the end of an era. I think I might start blubbering.

Shannon, one of the children's librarians, has really made our story time experience. She wears a constant large smile, is patient and fun and does things like making the kids nametags that relate to the stories. She always starts with a song in which kids can volunteer to have the group sing about something special they are wearing. We've volunteered everything from Tevas to leotards. ("Julia has her leotard on, leotard on, leotard on, Julia has her leotard on, at story time today.") And then there was the BOO BOO day. I'm afraid we were trendsetters that day because once we'd sung about the one on Jooge's knee, everyone wanted to sing about theirs too. After that song, kids sit a little taller and shine a little brighter. And the parents? Today when one of the kids blurted out, "Blue shirt" we sang about his blue shirt and I snuck a peek at his mom, aware that she wore the expression we all wear, a flushed mixture of delight and surprise, but also an unmistakable tinge of awkward embarrassment.

The last few times we've come to story time, Shannon has greeted us and said, "Julia! Hi!" Today she said, "Julia, how are your new sandals?" (We sung about them last week.) It is very touching when someone else remembers something that was important to your kid. I just can't help but think about the fact that as she grows, more and more people will have a chance to react to her, to address her by name, to ask her what matters to her and sing about it. When I took this picture today, Shannon gladly posed and then laughing, said, "She won't remember. You will, but she won't." I said, "I WILL! What would we have done without you?" I meant it. I appreciate the people like Shannon who are part of this great big village that is helping Jooge feel good about the person she is today.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Dad Commercial

You have to see this commercial if you haven't yet. It is totally rich and every time I see it I laugh.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Brought To You By the Letter WHY

Last night Jooge was dropping the, "WHY?" bomb after everything I said. I found myself asking her, "Is why your new favorite word?"

Her response? "Actually, no, W is."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Calgon, You Know The Drill

Jooge has been known to squeal, "Don't be such a grouch!" She usually pulls it out to interrupt a heated discussion. I can't believe she hasn't yet thrown it my way today. I am living breathing Grouch times nine. All I wanna do is go back to bed.

I keep wondering if I get this way when I'm either about to ovulate or have just done so already. It's one of those days where everything seems to be conspiring against me, from straps on shoes, to the little people in my charge. In one corner is Julia (who still will not deposit dung in the toilet in my midst) saying the words, "Mommy, I want a diaper!" In the other corner is a fussy strawberry-stained, nap-ready toddler who just smacked her head on the floor because she tripped on something and I can't help her because I'm cleaning her sister's poopy diaper. And cooking my Lean Cuisine panini? Since when should microwave directions overwhelm? Less is more people. Just tell me to PUT IN MICROWAVE on GRILL TRAY and cook.

As far as the scene before me, which I usually like to clean up before the next thing, it has won. I am done. I don't want to clean up the strawberries that Avery has plopped on the floor, a map of madness including strewn corn kernels and a puddle of milk. The cream wafers I made last night (tasty little buttery swedish cookies) are perpetually popped into my mouth. No, they do not help this frame of mind. I don't really want them, I'm just indulging an impulse.

Writing feels better. I will snap out of it. But I'm sure while I'm snapping out of it, I will have a squirmy preschooler on my lap and I'll be stubbing my toe and I will really just want to escape to the lands of Calgon's bubbly heaven. It's one of those days. And I hate those days. All I can do is sit and eat my microwaved "panini" counting down the seconds until N.A.P.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me!


Friday I turned 34! Had a good day. Here are the highlights:

My husband surprised me and brought me an iced coffee and scone for breakfast.

I bought myself gladiolas-beautiful.

Taking the girls into the city for adventures.

Ran into a lady at Trader Joes whose birthday it was also. I knew this because she was chatting with some guy near the entrance about how it was her birthday but it was pretty crappy so far, and he announced to the store, "It's her birthday today!"
I went up to her and said, "Maam, is it your birthday today? It's mine too! Happy birthday!" We conversed right there in the middle of the snack food aisle and left one another a little lighter and smiling.

Treated the girls and I to several Saint Cupcake mini dots.

Got an e-card from Adrienne, cards from Donna, my mom, my husband, Meagan, Fiona, and my in-laws. Got calls from my mom, Ry, Fiona, Uncle Paul and Sara...

A date night with dinner at Salvador Molly's

Surprises left on the back porch from Aunt Marisue

Presents, glorious presents........all which were stupendous. Like...... ipod speakers, a cupcake cookbook and pan, some cool new additions to my polish pottery,
a vintage set of Whitman Old Maid cards (see above)that I had when I was a kid, napoleon dynomite mad libs, a $50 gift card to Urban Outfitters, an anklet, a CD. People were very kind to me.

My husband made me a birthday cake.

I ended the night with some episodes of The Office that were totally rich.

For the first time in a very long time I just let it all be, without expectations and therefore unrealized hopes. And the day was wonderful.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Step Right Up Folks, It's The Amazing Baby


Avery, now 15 months, has been doing all sorts of things lately that amaze me. I will now begin my proud mother rant, uttering phrases that any mother of a 15 month old would utter, but doing it still because, well, I just forgot that she would change, grow, and emerge a PERSON!

Like, when we're reading she will see a duck and say, "DUCK!" And I'll point to a fish and she will say, so adorably, "WAYOH." WHALE! She did the same thing when we saw dolphins on TV. Last night she saw the Counting Kisses book and when she handed it to me, did an audible smooch, then held out her foot because it's a kissing book where you give ten kisses to teeny tiny toes. She sits down with the Hand Hand Finger Thumb book and pats it and says "DUM DUM" and opens the Olivia's Opposites book and says UP DOWN and then growls because there's a page that says QUIET LOUD and I always growl it that way.

In terms of musical proficiency, (I know, I hear the groans of all who are reading this: Tia, hello, all babies do these things) Where is Thumbkin will be playing in the car and she'll be dancing her fingers around all concentrated and cute. When she hears certain verses of certain songs she will be inspired to add her own, "BEEP BEEP BEEP" or "EIEIO."

Jooge loves to guide her through various repetitive phrases, "Avee say, Daddy." To which she response, "DADDY." She says, "BABY" whenever she sees another little baby, even if they are her own size. She says, "WAWA" and "CHEESE" and "CACK-O" and
"MIO" for milk. She sees dogs and points and says "DA!" She Moos when she sees cows.
She loves seeing "KEE-KEES" on walks. She can't say Jooge yet or Julia but she does attempt "SISTER" with a spit-hurling "SSSSS." Of course she is very good at her "NO" and at saying "BYEE" to whatever we are leaving behind.

The biggest of all miracles is that she has been very interested in the potty lately. As in, she loves to play with it, take the little container in and out, sit on it, etc. The other night after bath she was climbing in and then sitting on it. I left the room to help Jooge get dressed and when I came back, there was pee pee in it! She peed in the potty for the first time! Unbelievable. Especially considering we are by no means finished pottytraining child numero uno.

And so, my little blonde Bub is growing every day. Why just this second she is protesting her mother's computer time, urging us towards breakfast. It will be seconds before she has wedged the gate open and is inching down the stairs, large motor skills honed and eager. Oh wait, no, that's the potty being mucked with....
Okay, gotta go.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

We All Scream For It

Yesterday we were playing around in our backyard kiddie pool when suddenly I heard it. It was faint, mixed with the faraway noises of passing cars, construction, children's voices. I grabbed the actual cash that was nestled in my wallet and we ventured out to find: The Ice Cream Man.

Sure enough, my ears had not betrayed me. There, coming up the street, he flew, spreading the ice cream spirit by blasting "Turkey in the Straw." We waved him down, he obliged. We chose our frozen treats. He even gave us a DEAL on one. It was all too exciting for words. Back on our lawn, we enjoyed the fru-its of our quest. And for your viewing pleasure, a photo montage.....
Eyeing the Sweetness

Letting her sample it AFTER removing eyeball eyes, goodbye, choke hazard!

Trying sister's

Double Fisting it

Second born gets ripped off with her sister's hand-me-down treat

So, exactly HOW do you eat these things?

Welcome to Screwedville.

Note: the snow cone is no longer.

And, we see a naked popsicle stick. Thank you, thank you very much. We'll be here all week!

On Teachers Never Dying, Just Losing Class....

I taught for seven years (nine if you count subbing) and therefore the whole TEACHER side of me got enough practice that it hides within and comes bursting forth every once in awhile. Like, for example, other teachers may relate to being at the park and seeing a kid climbing UP the slide and feeling well, let's just say, unsettled, ready to blow the whistle, ready to give them the old "Down not up" speech.

Anyway, one day at the library we saw some REALLY disruptive kids who were calling each other inappropriate things and basically playing tag amongst the shelves in the children's section. Jooge was watching them very closely, edging nearer and nearer until I said, "Come sit next to me, those kids are being naughty."

When they started to SPRINT past me, I could help it no longer. I could not control myself from pulling out a can of whoop ass! (Please believe me, these days I am not usually one to impose behavior redirection upon wild and crazy children who are not mine but these kids were BAD!)
ME: (Emphatically) "HEY! We don't run in the library!"
GIRL: Looks awkward, stammers, makes lame excuse.
ME: (pointing at my three year old) "She's going to think it's okay to run when she sees you running!"
GIRL: More stammering, more lame excuses, then takes off running.


Pretty soon a dad appeared, gave the kids a second-long, "Hey, mom and I are upstairs, don't LEAVE the library," and was off again. I was really close to pointing out that his kids were out of control, but bit my lip. Sweet victory arrived moments later when over the loudspeaker I heard: "If you are the parent of two youngsters that have been left unattended in the children's section, please come and get them immediately. Their behavior is unacceptable."

My teacher self was quite delighted.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wait Up, Guys!



We took a trip to the Japanese Garden a few weekends ago and loved it! Photo ops galore, serenity, lots of green, an amazing view of Portland, and a pond with super cool fish to gaze at. Go! If you haven't yet, get your fanny there. Breathe in. Rest. Contemplate. Be.

(Of course chasing a three year old through the woods isn't exactly the definition of serenity, nor is removing lips suctioned to the drinking fountain or cleaning tiny piles of pebbles from the benches where industrious hands have piled them.......Still, very aesthetically pleasing and calm, very worth experiencing with little people.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

25% Of Kids Get Them


We had the three year Dr. visit today. Jooge was super cute with the doctor,
full of personality, coy, then comfortable. I was really glad that we had our visit though because last week when we were up at Diamond Lake she had started to do this blinking/squinting thing. It was irking me because I thought she was having some vision problem or something, so I asked him about it. He informed me that she had a tic. A TIC! My mind was reeling. What in the bleep causes THAT? Aren't tics NERVOUS tics? He assured me that tics were normal, involuntary habits that people get. Two of his own kids had had them. He said the important thing was to not ask her to stop, because she couldn't, just as she couldn't explain what was going on. (Prior to this we had been saying things like, "Are your eyes bothering you?") He also said that talking about it around her can reinforce it. She hasn't been doing it lately, so maybe that little TIC is TAKING OFF, but in the meantime, we'll be browsing the internet sites only to see that it's right next to TOURETTES and other loveliness........