Friday, October 31, 2008


That is what my husband calls the characters I would call "trick-or-treaters." And a few stopped by our house tonight. We gave away about 10 bags' worth of candy and were down to our last three tiny boxes of Dots (I didn't buy those!) when time was up. Our favorite Halloweener was dressed as a "killer banana." He wore a banana suit with a bloody hockey mask and carried a big scary knife. One of our friends' kids came by dressed as a ninja. My husband disappeared into the kitchen and came back with a slice of sweet potato carved into a throwing star. He so crafty!

Look out! Killer bananas!

Boo haiku

Four hundred ninety-
ninth post. How scary is that?
Happy Halloween!

Costume pictures to follow later, but here's 2007 and 2002 through 2006. I'm coming to terms with the fact that this year's storebought race car driver costume doesn't hold a candle to last year's "stick guy." He could have gone as the naked chef, I guess.

Here's a Blair-Witch style video of the outdoor decorations I tweeted about. (None of the stills came out.) At about 30 secs you can see the whole thing and then turn it off.

Happy Halloween. May your pillowcases be full!

Haiku Friday

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The story of a small Singer sewing machine

As I have mentioned, Jo is a bit of a dilettante. Like most kids, she's a sucker for anything new. Last Christmas, she got a finger loom which she loooooovvved for about two weeks (and even that was a very long run) and has since almost completely ignored. She'll beg for a toy or a game or a book with the tenacity of an e-mail spam overlord and then blow it off almost as quickly as she receives it. She's taken a incredible range of extracurricular classes, from music to art to tumbling to (most recently) ice skating, but the only one she's stuck with consistently is swimming.

Her most recent prized possession was a toy sewing machine we picked up at TJ Maxx for $12. It's pink and plastic but it really works. So for a few days Jo was a busy busy seamstress (mostly just making seams with no practical purpose). And after that, of course, the little machine sat and gathered dust.

What I wonder is how much of this is my own doing. See, the sewing machine--like many other hobbies she might try/stick with--requires intervention from me: helping her thread the needle, find fabrics to work with, follow instructions, etc. And you know, there is a reason why I don't own a sewing machine myself. I am just not interested! So if Jo asks me to help her, I will; but I'm not going to go out of my way and say "Psst! Hey kid! Wanna sew?"

So I don't think I am actually suppressing my child's interests. The question is whether I am doing enough to encourage them. I like to think I am allowing her passions to shine through (she is only six, after all!). But as we've established, I'm pretty good at rationalizing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

8 is not enough

It hasn't been all sweetness and (crazy overexposed) light. But it's been pretty sweet.

Happy 8th anniversary!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Front, back, micro, macro

Even though I have a perfectly good, dedicated home office space, every day I work at my dining room table. I sit in the seat that allows me to look through the living room and out the front windows, to the yard and to the park across the street. Just outside the window is a plant called a Tree of Heaven, which my sister the horticulturist informs me is called "Tree of Hell" by those in the trade--because it can be invasive and is nearly impossible to remove or kill.

It's pretty, though, isn't it?

Our back yard is dominated by two towering trees--a shagbark hickory (on the right below) and an oak (at the bottom of the frame is our garage). These are two of the many reasons I wouldn't trade living in an old house.

Yes, that's a lot of leaves. But here's what we learned from our neighbor: Just crunch 'em up with a lawnmower and leave them. Forget raking!

Thanks to Jenny from Nyack Backyard for inspiring this post! It's a front door/back door meme started by dlyn. If you want to join in, just step our your front door and snap a photo, then do the same in the back. Leave your link at dlyn's.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Shopping list: 1 bichon frise, 1 kitten, 1 rabbit ...

At some point in kindergarten, every time Jo went to the school library she would only check out totally boring nonfiction books with some variation on the title Caring for Your Pet ____ or All About [Dog/Cat Breed X]. These were dry as dirt earnest, detailed manuals published by the likes of the ASPCA and the American Kennel Club. Not exactly my idea of soothing bedtime reading, but who was I to interfere with my child's interest in books/science/companion animals?

In the months since we have come to discover that the kid had an ulterior motive. She filed away all the details and used them to craft her master plan. And now, once a week or so we hear "When Folly dies can we get a bichon frisé? And then, you know bichon frisés get along with cats so we can get a cat? Or a rabbit, and also a guinea pig."

After she tried this a few times and I responded with horror at her blasé attitude toward the death of our beloved pet, she amended her request thusly:

"When Folly dies, it'sgoingtobereallysad, and then can we get a bichon frisé?"

We've had this dog since before the kids were born and they really do have a sibling relationship. By which I mean a love/hate kind of a thing. She tries to steal their food and they freak out. Then they feed her their leftovers right off their plates. She grabs their toys, they grab hers. They play together intensely for awhile and then ignore each other intensely for awhile.

She's over 10 years old and she has a heart murmur. She sheds, she barks viciously at the vacuum cleaner, she sometimes refuses to go outside and then has accidents in the basement. And when she's gone, it'sgoingtobereallysad.

(Photo is from 2002 and is one of my all-time favorites.)

This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by Burger King Corp.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Further adventures in firefighting

The best part is she didn't even tell us she did this. We only found out from the pictures. Even then she just acted like it was no big thang.

And I have to say, for a photo taken on a disposable camera by an 8-year-old, I rather like it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jo = Teh Awesome

I am grooving on this little girl this week. To wit:

1. Last night she voluntarily, cheerfully, and capably washed a huge sink full of dishes. I may still have to remind her regularly to take her plate to the sink and put her pajamas in the drawer, but did I enjoy having post-dinner clean-up cut in half, at least just that once? I did.

2. For the past few days she has been giving Opie "homework assignments" after school. She dot-to-dots letters and numbers for him to trace and then gives him a letter grade for each page (ranging from A+ to Z-). He loves it.

3. She was one of two kids from her school chosen at random to spend the morning at our local fire station. She was so excited you would have thought she'd won the lottery. She got to slide down the pole, have lunch from McDonald's (no firehouse chili?!), and be driven back to school in an honest-to-god fire engine. She tried on the gear and reported that the helmet was so heavy she couldn't walk in it. And one of the firefighters nicknamed her "Crumb" because she was the smallest kid there.

(crummy souvenir photo)

Monday, October 20, 2008

A mile-high high

If you've been to Julie's, you know we've been to Julie's this past weekend. There was much eating (thank you Kyle!), musical beds, walks around the neighborhood, cooing at the baby (OMG the baby. He is edibly cute), an intense game of Taboo in which Nancy's name was invoked (how else could I explain "hat trick" without saying the word "hockey"?), and not nearly enough picture-taking--partly because I left my camera at my brother's overnight. (Ask Julie about how he returned it on his motorcyle, fully decked out in leather and chains.)

Once again, Jo and Tacy picked up without a moment's hesitation and didn't leave each other's sides, awake or asleep, for the entire length of the visit. Neither did Jo wear any of the clothes we brought for her, preferring instead to raid Tacy's closet. I don't know if it's the fact that they spent so much time together as infants (nearly every day from three months to two years) or the fact that we parents do our best to encourage their continuing relationship, but these girls have a strong bond that's now weathered four years apart. I hope it never breaks.

Goodbye Denver--we'll be back as soon as we can.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty

I haven't been through my reader yet today (*twitch*) but I know from Twitter that many of my favorite bloggers are participating in Blog Action Day today. Magpie, PunditMom, and Ilina are making donations based on the number of comments they receive today, so go forth and comment, please! (If you're doing this too, let me know and I'll link you up.)

Last year I donated my BlogHer Ads earnings to Donors Choose. Any suggestions for a recipient for this year? I just read about Jewish World Watch's Solar Cooker Project in Darfur. A $30 donation provides a refugee family with solar cookers and training to use them. This helps curb deforestation and also saves women and girls from making dangerous trips to gather firewood (they risk getting raped every time they venture out). Thirty bucks!

I also want to help at home. My grocery store collects donations for our local food banks right at the checkout (the store prefills bags of supplies, I pay for it, then it goes straight the food bank). With food prices skyrocketing and everyone feeling squeezed, I remember how very lucky we are and I buy one of these bags each time I'm at the market.

The problems are so huge and diverse and intractable (how do we fix Darfur / Iraq / Afghanistan / Haiti? how do we fix health care? how do we fix crummy schools and evaporating jobs and foreclosed homes?). What I don't want to do is let this overwhelm me into inaction. One local project and one international one? That's doable. And every little bit helps.

What are you doing?

PS Don't forget FreeRice. I just donated 1000 grains and learned two new words ("vaticinate" means "prophesy" and "raddled" means "worn out").

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday miscellany*

One of our neighbors--the kind of guy who keeps a TV in his garage and watches NASCAR on it all weekend, and I think that says a lot about a person--has put up an Obama yard sign.


Jo learned this song at after-school care:

We will, we will
Rock you
Sock you
Flush you in the toilet
Hope that you enjoy it!

As well as:

Made you look, made you look, now you're in the baby book!

I confess I missed these two in my own upbringing.


We did our annual autumn pumpkin patch/agritainment excursion this weekend. The trees are gorgeous. Whenever I see beautiful fall leaves I always remember the banquet director from our wedding reception. Since our wedding was in the fall, he made sure to note that the dining room overlooked a wooded mountain, the better to showcase the fall foil-age.

*thanks to Leighann for the title

Friday, October 10, 2008

Confession time

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I think--right now--that I have a favorite child. I love Jo utterly; this summer's events brought that home like nothing else could have. She's funny and sweet and affectionate and generally well behaved. I love to spend time with her and am so proud of everything she can do (and wants to do and tries to do).

But Opie, at least lately? It's like he's made out of candy and Champagne and ice cream all rolled into one. Even when he's being a typical 3-year-old pain in the butt I can't stop thinking about how much I adore him. I don't know if it's a mother-son thing, or a youngest child/baby lust thing, or something else entirely. He's smaller, snugglier, and, well, just kind of cuter than his sophisticatedly 6-year-old sister. He still makes hilarious, nonsensical pronouncements (the other day he reported that he'd had tacos for lunch and they made "all the babies in my tummy really sick." Duly noted, then, no more tacos, and also, I'll alert the media). I can still carry him around on my hip and at bedtime, he says "Mommy, dance me a wittle" and rests his head on my shoulder.

Anyway, I defy you not to fall for a guy like this (10 seconds):

Please tell me I am not crazy. Well, except for letting my child out in public wearing the jetfighter print shorts with the striped polo and bright red boots. Or for letting him use the patio table (where we, like, eat and stuff) as his stage. Okay fine.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I'm a Mother of Intention!

I'm over here today pretending I'm a pundit! (And making zero mention of the presidential candidates. In case maybe you need a break from "that one" and that other one). Visit, read, comment, please!

Mothers of Intention at PunditMom

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Aiding and abetting my junior scientist

My husband thought I was completely nuts when I allowed this:

Yes, we literally played with fire. For the record, we learned that paper and toothpicks are flammable, but grapes and spoons are not.

Refrigerator update below.

Monday, October 06, 2008

I am trying to see the bright side

... of the fact that our refrigerator died over the weekend.
  • We do have a spare refrigerator in the basement, and a chest freezer.
  • My husband moved everything down there.
  • (I later paid him back by being the one to find a disgusting dog accident and clean it up.)
  • My husband also cleaned behind and under the fridge after I asked him to move it for me so I could do it.
  • We haven't had to throw away any food yet.
  • I will probably lose 5 pounds from a) all the trips back and forth to the basement and b) the deterrence factor of said trips.
  • The repairman is on his way.
  • If the fridge is salvageable, it will be the cleanest it's been in years, since I'll scrub it sparkling before I refill it.
  • If it's not, I just read that October is the best month to get a good deal on new appliances.
  • It's not yet cold enough to keep our perishables on the porch.

[grudgingly] I guess I feel a little better. Anything I forgot?

Update, Tuesday: After $62 and the removal of two handfuls of dust and a magnetic dart from inside the bottom of the fridge ... it works fine. My husband is mourning the loss of his stainless steel dreams.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Haiku Friday: Feeling my age

Sand through the hourglass
Technicolor leaves drifting
I am old as dirt

The other day at the dinner table Jo started talking about adjectives and nouns. Jeff and I immediately burst into song: "A noun's a special kind of word! It's any name you ever heard, I find it/ Quite interesting, a noun is a person, place, or thing."

Somehow during the same conversation it came up that she wanted to wear last year's kitty ears with this year's "rock star" (NOT Hannah M., thankyouverymuch) Halloween costume. This caused another outburst from the parental units and some quizzical looks from the children.

Thanks to YouTube, we were able to show the children what on earth we were talking about. So I guess them there modern conveniences do have some value.

I can only hope that Jeff and I prove to be like our betta fish, who has dodged Death twice in his four-month stay with us (accidental visit to the garbage disposal; dumped on the floor when bowl broke) and is, in Jo's words, "a really good liver."

Haiku Friday

Sidebar: Yes, my first grader is learning about parts of speech. And geometry. Rock on Montessori with your geo solids and your 3D grammar symbols.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Fabulous & free: Flip Ultra

Our whole family loves our little Flip Ultra video camera--super easy to use and upload (see below). So I am super excited that we have one to give away over at The Full Mommy. We have an updated look and we're celebrating! Email us to enter.

And here's some secret footage shot by Jo back when we first got our Flip. A repeat here on the blog, but worth it.

interview with a potty