Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Treats

I've been working on a couple of other posts, but they just aren't coming together. So instead I'll treat you to a few photos of how we've been filling the time today waiting until "it's darkness" and we can go trick or treating. O. can't wait until M&M, the neighbor girls, come home from school so we can join them to go get some more candy.
We went to the library and the apple orchard this morning, but the day is still long, so I broke out the "tent" -- the cute house cover my mom made for a card table, modeled after one my aunt made for my brother and I when we were little. Shouldn't she try to sell these or something?
O. loves to have tea parties in there, and bring all of his "amimals" inside. Today, it was all about making his sister laugh and leading his father to believe the house was falling down. If I did the video correctly, you'll see how. How do you like their Halloween wear? N.'s says "My magical power is being cute."

I love the sheer abandonment of a baby's laughing face:
Oh, and I've already posted pictures of their costumes, but you haven't seen their pumpkins. So, here they are:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Late October O-speak

(Regarding anything he does not want to do) "No fank you. Maybe some other day."

"When I eat all these foods on my plate, will they just crash all on top of each other in my tummy?

"Mommy, what if a food said 'No, I don't want to go in your tummy!'?"

"Yes, I did eat my sandwich. I am a growing man."

O: I don't want to go to school today. I am not big. I am a little boy.
Me: But preschool is a place just for little boys.
O: Well, then there needs to be little teachers there.
(I decide not to argue, and fifteen minutes pass and it is time to get shoes on and get in the car)
O: But Mom, I TOLD you. There are no little teachers there, so I am not going.

After school is over:
Me: Did you stop being sad after you got to school?
O: Yes, but why does Mrs. J hang on to me like that when I just want to tell you one more thing?
Me: Because you are crying and hanging on to me, and I have to leave. Why don't you tell me what you did today?
O: I'll just tell you one thing, and then watch my show. We sang an elephant song.
Me: Oh, that sounds fun. What song was it? Can you sing it for me?
O: No, that was the thing I wanted to tell you. Now, give me my earphones please.

Not O-speak, but this morning, right after I got N. up and was cuddling her in bed, O. appeared in the dark wearing his "foot pajamas" and the giant stuffed fish hat we had considered for a Halloween costume. He grinned, and then proceeded to poke N. with the fish's snout and laugh and laugh.

Monday, October 27, 2008

From the Ashes...

It's been a busy couple of weeks around here, though I couldn't really tell you what has occupied all the time. We had a computer virus to recover from. I've been spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with photos, uploading them, sharing them, trying to get them sent out to people who haven't seen the kids in a while, everything but backing up the hard drive and getting them in albums. Hello. Shouldn't this be first on the list, given aforementioned virus? You'd think.
Most notably, though, the kids, my mom and I had a great visit last week with my grandma and my aunt in Pennsylvania. It was our first trip to see her since she moved back in to her rebuilt apartment after a fire burned her retirement community and she lost everything she owned.
It is amazing. Everything was rebuilt on the same footprint as the old building, so when you walk in her place, it as if time has been rewound, and the walls went right back up. Even the pictures on the wall in the entry lounge seem to be copies of those that were there a year ago. Grandma has all new furniture, but we've been able to reproduce many of the photographs she used to have on display and she's gotten some heartfelt gifts from friends and family to replace treasured knickknacks. Still, it must be disconcerting for her to be in a place that looks so similar to her old home and not have so many of the things that used to fill it. I imagine her going to drawers to find things, only to have to remember it isn't there anymore, and it gives me physical pain.
My kids went in and roughed up the place as only a three year old and a one year old can. It certainly looked lived in as they tornadoed their way through a day with Great-Grandma. O. enjoyed several games of Go Fish and Uno with her, while N. spent the day carrying around fall decorations and escaping out into the hallway to find more elderly friends to fawn over her.
Late in the afternoon, we got the kids dressed in their Halloween costumes so my grandma could see them, then had an impromptu parade down the hall to visit each of my grandmother's friends.
Visiting her is something like being back in a college dorm, just with residents a couple decades older. There are fliers advertising activities, people popping their head in to ask you to come eat dinner, and even some of the same cliquish behavior. My grandmother plays cards every evening with her girlfriends, and plays shuffleboard outside when the weather is nice. It's the kind of place you wish you could create for yourself. After a year spent in a rented out wing of nursing home with only a few of the other residents, I'm so glad she's back in her real home amongst her community of friends.
I feel so blessed to have a grandmother still living, and still in such a strong mental state.
Grandma is a woman with an amazing force of personality. Sometimes bossy, at times particular and demanding, she is perpetually full of devotion and pride in her family. She thrills in naming off all the places around the country where she has children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. So many of my fondest childhood memories revolve around time spent playing and learning from her and my grandfather, and just generally basking in their love. It is so wonderful to see my children get to enjoy her love and create memories of time spent with her.
Before we went to visit her, O. was counting all of his grandmothers on his fingers. "There's Grandma and Grandpa Grandma, and Grandma Choo-Choo, and Grandma E., and Aunt A. (my mom's sister, who certainly loves my children as she does her own grandchildren), and don't forget Great-Grandma!" I like to think he's made it to the point where he will retain some long term memories, and I sincerely hope that among them are the times he spent in the company of my dear grandmother in her home.
Here are a couple of shots of the kids in their costumes, actually from the week before our trip to PA when we made a trip to our local nursing home with my mom's group. Besides N's celebrated status as the "fire baby" (She was born a couple of weeks after the fire, when my grandmother was staying with my parents temporarily. My grandmother insists this joyful event helped her to survive the tragedy.), can't you see why they were celebrities for the day?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Not to Brag, But I'm Not Here Today

If you're coming here in search of a new post, you won't find one here today. So what else is new, I know you are saying. But actually, there is something new of mine to read today, just not here. I'm guest posting over at my dear friend MEP's page, Not To Brag. Go check it out if you want!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'll Ask the Follicles and Get Back To You

I dressed N. in a little Halloween shirt yesterday and some khaki pants, and she got mistaken for a boy at least five times. That's fine. I called it when I dressed her, and it's really no big deal to me. O and his beautiful bow lips got mistaken for a girl all the time when he was a baby, even when he had giant footballs plastered all over his chest.
I know N's issue is her bald head. She's getting a few little duck curls in the back, but the top is still smooth smooth. There's some blond fuzz coming in up there, but it's blond, so from a distance, she's a cue ball still.
The amazing thing to me is how many people start conversations with her with the question: "Hi, baby! When are you going to get some hair?" Today, in the span of a forty-five minute tumbling class, two different people asked that same question, one addressed to N, the other to me.
I understand that people comment on the first thing that they notice. It's kind of like all the inappropriate things that people say to you when you're pregnant, a whole other post topic. I understand they are just trying to start a conversation. I just am never sure how I'm supposed to respond.
Some possibilities that have run through my mind:
"We talked to the doctor, and he says it's nothing to be concerned about."
"I'll ask the follicles and get back to you."
"Oh, I've been shaving it. You know, I've always been such a fan of Sinead O'Connor."
"Maybe after the cancer treatments are over."
"Well, J. says not to get our hopes up, it might be hereditary."

But usually, I just mumble something like "We're working on it..." and smile apologetically.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Feel the (Freezer) Burn

I think my refrigerator and freezer may finally have recovered from the power outage, three weeks later.
Given the lack of ice in the entire city, as well as my own skepticism of the ability of a cooler to keep anything safe, I had to clear the decks completely. Thankfully, we aren't yet one of those families that buys a side of beef, or relies on J's hunting prowess to keep us in deer and fish all year, so what we had at the time of the blackout was not TOO much. A stack of Lean Cuisines, some ground beef and chicken, Popsicles and a lot of miscellaneous who knows what.
In many ways, this loss was a good thing. No more pawing through bags of half empty frozen broccoli and mixed veggies to find the Crispy Crowns, and no guilt at not using up the green puree from my Sneaky Chef endeavor. Still, it has left me with a little more than a grocery budget deficit to recover from. Many of my go-to stockpiles are gone, and I've been having a harder time pulling meals out of my butt. I think I had become a little lazy with the frozen pizzas and fries of late.
Chicken was on sale right after the lights came back on, so it's been a lot of -- do you want chicken, chicken or chicken tonight? I have to admit, I've pulled off a couple of really nice meals even without relying on the grill. One was this berry/chutney sauced chicken, and the other was chicken with a basil/garlic/white wine sauce. I'll never be able to recreate them, because they were based on what we had around the house at that very moment. This is one of the drawbacks of improvisational cooking, I must admit.
On my recent trips to the grocery store, I kept forgetting to buy the things that just seem to reside in the freezer unbidden. The mini pancakes both kids love to eat straight out of the freezer, bags of frozen vegetables, calcium fortified orange juice concentrate, Popsicles.
As of my trip on Sunday, I think we're finally back. We have bacon, hot dogs, a stack of chicken, three kinds of vegetables, two kinds of beef and a pork tenderloin waiting for meal magic. So far, it's still organized, though I realize we're only a few lumpen foil leftovers away from a treasure hunt in there again. O. and N. were nibbling on mini pancakes once again as I tried to prepare dinner last night, and it felt like normal life again.

Friday, October 3, 2008


How is it possible for my dishwasher to ALWAYS be full?

How do my bras manage to get themselves twisted around not only the agitator of the washing machine but also all four legs of two pairs of pants?

If I accidentally bought laundry detergent for a high efficiency washing machine, and mine is decidedly low efficiency, can I still use it?

If one eats two pieces of apple pie in a day, does it count as two servings of fruit?

How do sippy cups manage to both multiply and disappear?

How are boogers like playdough? Answer (according to O.): you can roll them both, and squish them both, and cut them in half if you want to.

What does a doggie say? Answer (according to N. in a soft high pitched tone): wuff, wuff, wuff

What does a lion say? Answer (according to N. in a loud, fierce tone): RRRRRRRRRR!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Who Cooks For You?

We were at the library yesterday and refound the book Hoot and Holler to check out. It was one that O. was particularly sad to turn back in when we had it the first time, and I can never remember to write down authors or even try to use the catalog when we're IN the library, so it's rare that we get a repeat title. Anyway, it's this charming story about two owl friends, and how they get separated from each other, and have to learn to be brave, loud, and share their feelings so that they can play together again. And it reminded me of another bit of knowledge searching we did recently that I didn't share in my back to school post.
We have an owl in the woods behind our house, which is not all that unusual. However, there for a while this summer, our owl (maybe there are multiple owls, I'm not sure) was VERY loud. At first it was at normal owl times, like at 10:30 at night when I put the dog out, or a little earlier, I'd hear it over N's monitor. It would hoot and hoot. Actually, it sounded more like a big owl party, with a couple of monkeys invited as well. And then, we started hearing the owl chatter in early evening, 5:30 or 6:00, just as loud, just as excited.
We grew curious about the owl, and decided to look up just what kind of owl we have. And after an evening of listening to different owl calls on my computer, O and I determined that we have a barred owl. Their courting song is supposed to be reminiscent of today's post title. You can hear the sounds for yourself if you read this article. According to it, barred owls used to be relatively uncommon in residential areas like ours, but seem to be appearing where the trees are large enough for them to nest.
I know, my kids are destined to be kind of geeky because I get all excited about this kind of research. But was there really any doubt, Ranger Rick raised as I was?

Oh, on an unrelated note, I've added another list to my page. I'm not very good at losing things. Not that I don't lose them. Oh, I do, as you can see. I just am not very good about accepting that things are lost. I spend large amounts of my waking and trying to sleep time wondering where the missing items could be, and feeling various stages of grief about the ones that are likely gone forever. It's gotten a little out of hand lately, the things that disappear and reappear. So, I've decided to use this list to try to get the list of things I'm looking for out of my head and onto the page. It might make me have a little more of a sense of humor about my absentmindedness as well. Who knows?