Thursday, July 31, 2008

Uh oh it's magic

Remember that line from the Cars song? Hee. One of my favorite songs waaay back in high school. I still remember toolin' around with my BF Angela and her boyfriend and he would play that song on his rockin' cassette player. In his Datsun. Good times, people.

Anyway. My lil sis (Aunt Debbie) has an interesting post on her blog about magic and a really cool YouTube video of a guy doing an amazing card trick. In other magic-related news, the illusionist Criss Angel was in Clearwater last night where 10,000 people clogged the beach streets to watch him free himself from an old hotel that was being imploded. He did the stunt here because Clearwater was the only town in America that would let him lock himself in a building that was being demolished to perform his stunt. Ummm.. where were the lawyers and insurance people when THAT contract got signed? Does that reflect well on Clearwater? Hmmm. But, anyway, unlike my lil sis, I only watch magic tricks -- and illusionists -- because I like to try to figure out how they do the stuff they do. I don't like to be fooled, and I hate when anyone, even a TV illusionist, messes with my mind. That said, some of s**t David Blaine does is really cool. I've never been able to figure out anything he's done and he really messes with my mind.

D had asked and asked and begged and pleaded for a magic kit for her birthday. We didn't buy her one because 1) all the kits we found were for ages 8+, 2) we thought it would be better to wait until she was reading confidently on her own (it destroys the trick when you have to have the instructions read to you, and 3) she was absolutely convinced that she would be able to "really do magic." We tried so hard to explain the concept of "tricks" to her but she counldn't get past the idea that even though it was a trick, it was still magic. We tried to explain the tricks she'd learn from a magic kit -- milk in a hat and all that -- but she thought it was all real and she wanted to "learn how to make candy appear whenever she wanted." She didn't even want to eat the candy -- not much of a sweet tooth -- she just wanted to make it. We finally convinced her to wait until she can read, and maybe then she'll understand about the trick part of magic tricks. Or maybe, like her Aunt Debbie, she'll hang onto her sense of wonder and delight in watching the impossible happen. Maybe she won't waste her time on the why or how, but just sit back and enjoy the candy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Question of the day

Is six too young for playdates?

I wonder, because D has them quite frequently but so often the kids end up mooning around saying "what can we do?" and asking for snacks. Which is what I'd expect my kids to do if they were alone, but not if there was a friend over to play. (Case in point: there is a little girl here right now who has actually been watching the clock since she got here because "3:00 is [her] snack time." )

So either six is too young, or I'm too old, because really? I have some interest in playing games and doing art projects with my own kids, but virtually no interest in doing those things with someone else's kid(s). It's also weird because D's been having playdates since she was about two and of course at that age you stick close by and everything is closely supervised so maybe the kids have gotten used to that set up because now if you're not in there setting up games and making suggestions and freakin' playing with play-doh everyone just ends up wandering around the house making a huge mess.

Or maybe I just expect too much and imagine that if someone is over here to play -- an actual real live friend -- everyone should actually PLAY. I know we did when I was young. Of course, we also spent major amounts of time (at least as I remember it -- my mom may disagree) outside either playing in the yards, riding bikes or swimming. So maybe the kids are playing, or doing what passes for playing these days, but I just don't recognize it. Maybe because instead of playing too, I'm in here blogging.

Tomorrow's burning question... how come we have a lot of playdates at our house, but those same people rarely invite D over to play?

Monday, July 28, 2008


So A's little family birthday was a bit rocky. He had some little presents and homemade cupcakes and a balloon, but the major drama there was D's hysterics because he was getting all the attention. She ended up getting sent to her room during dinner, sobbing and crying and carrying on, and then she didn't want to come down and have cake and ice cream. It was definitely an Oscar-worthy performance. When we finally ordered her to participate, of course she wouldn't sing Happy Birthday and in all the pictures she's pouting. Nice, huh? I would NEVER have expected that kind of behaviour from her. Ah, sibling rivalry.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Look who's two!

Happy Birthday my sweet boy. We love you so much!

More pictures later of present opening, cupcake eating and his birthday dinner request... Jelly. By which I hope he meant a savory guava jelly-red pepper glaze on baked chicken breasts accompanied by buttermilk mashed potatoes and green peas.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Picking my battles

Last night a friend and I were discussing the daily battle to dress our six-year-old daughters. I was amused to hear that she had the same conflict that I do over letting D go out in an obviously clashing or otherwise crazy outfit. These are two little girls that, until they could dress themselves, were dressed consistently in Hanna Andersson, Lands End, LLBean, and other designer-ish kid togs. They always looked cute and as pulled together as pre-schoolers could be. Until they could dress themselves. Some of the ensembles make me dizzy - kilts (in summer!) with tie-dye; floral skirts with striped shirts, pink t-shirt with everything, or her favorite outfit this summer: pink shorts and teal t-shirt which gives me major Miami Vice flashbacks. I keep expecting to see Crockett & Tubbs hiding in her closet. But, we both agreed, it is better to see your child express herself, no matter how bizarrely, than to squash their nascent sense of self with criticism. (And frankly, I'm not one to point fingers as I can be relied upon to wear the same black t-shirt, ratty khaki shorts and flip-flops almost every day. Hey, they're comfortable! Don't judge.) I do draw the line for church - she has to wear a "church dress" -- and since we don't buy logo tees or anything branded with cartoon characters or Hanna Montana or anyone like that, I don't worry about her being inappropriate, just clashy. As for her other funny dressing habit, tucking in her shirts so snugly she looks like she's wearing a onesie, I assume she'll grow out of it.

I've learned to relax a lot with two kids. D had such a rigid early childhood, but I have to say things have loosened up a bit and everyone seems to be surviving. We'll eat McDonald's for dinner or buy sugary breakfast cereals or let the kids have some candy while they're with the babysitter. As long as they understand such things are treats and not the norm, I'm fine with it. And so far, so good. The one strange thing is the gradual extension of D's bedtime. (A still goes to bed at 6:30 and is happy to do it. I'm not rocking that boat!) But D's bedtime has gradually crept up to 8:00 - and we let her read for an additional 30 minutes in bed if she wants to. That's a huge change from the strict 7:00 I managed to keep all last year - more for M & I than her I think. Sometimes we'll let her stay up with us and watch Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel, sometimes we'll watch a family movie, sometimes we play games. But sometimes it feels odd suddenly having a talkative little person still hanging around, chatting our ears off, during the time that up until now was still all ours. I'm still trying to get used to it and wondering what will happen when she discovers what a sitcom is, or American Idol, or that there are shows on TV all night long! Will she stay up and watch? What will we do? What did my parents think when they looked around the living room at 8:00 and there were still five kids draped over the furniture watching "their" shows? I guess we'll deal with it when it happens.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Look what the cat dragged in

(The metaphorical cat, that is. Not one of the pack of nasty, yowling, homeless, flea-bitten feline scroungers that hang around our corner, puke on our porch and use our yard for a litter box because those are unwelcome to drag anything into our house. Vermin. We talked to our Cat Lady neighbor (an otherwise nice person with a huge blind spot for homeless cats) and she claims that they "don't leave her yard." Um whatever. We've got pictures. And "evidence" all over the yard. Anyway, lady, you're on fair notice now, so we're going to start capturing and waterboarding them.

This is a more than welcome sight/site on a quiet Saturday morning! Too bad I won't have time to get reacquainted with my obsessions before the kiddos wake up, but now that I know you're back.... I'll see you tonight!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Rain, rain

It has rained every day this week, last week, the whole of time as I can remember it. Not that I'm complaining what with all the talk of droughts and wildfires and dead landscaping and golf courses and whatnot, but whatever, those things don't affect me (yet) and not being able to get the kids outside to run around everyday DOES affect me, most often if the form of massive meltdowns right as I start to saute the veggies or cut up the chicken or whatever. The kind of meltdown that makes one think of volcanos and TNT and loss of life. Shooting flames, piercing shrieks, choking sobs, the whole bit, you'd think they were being tortured. But they're just torturing each other because I refuse to get involved unless it involves protracted violence or bloodshed. Anyway, it's all easier to deal with when they've had some time outside to play, but the rainy season is here which means it's either raining or about to rain, too bloody hot and humid to be outdoors (for me anyway) or too wet on the playgrounds. Fun times.

Have a great weekend. I've got to run and explain to A why he can have pretzels OR chocolate milk, but not both, this close to dinner time. Or should I just cave, let him have both, ruin his appetite and so what who cares, he can eat a good dinner tomorrow? Do I stick to my guns and suffer through a tantrum? Either way, it's not going to be good and it is pouring outside so there's not much else to do.

Life is filled with tiny dilemmas.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Home ech!

Oh if only I had paid attention in Home Ec all those years ago I might know how to make this. Sigh. Instead, I was too busy flirting with boys, passing notes (quite often to this person) and writing stories to pay attention. Still, it's never too late to learn. My SIL, an excellent sewer, has given it the project the "not too hard" seal of approval. We'll see if I get around to it or no.

Meanwhile, the nice insulation people were here this morning, spent an hour blowing recycled newspaper insulation (we're so green!) into our attic, collected their money and left with the dire warning that we "should have had a duct check first." In other words, we'll probably see them again in a few months. The upside is that the whole house smells like one of my favorite smells - newsprint. Mmmmmm. Better than - ok, ok, as good as - brownies.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

This and that

I've only got about 2.5 seconds before all hell breaks loose in the living room but I just had to drop a line about my most relaxing day. A good friend and I have arranged a kid swap this week - today she got my buggers for a few hours and on Friday I'll have her kiddos. So, my morning was spent doing what any sensible mommy with a few hours of free time will -- Solo Grocery Shopping! Wheee! Oddly, my cart ended up with more BOGO bags of chips and crackers and cookies than it would have had the kids been with me. I guess it's easier to say NO! to them than to myself.

The kids were mysteriously well behaved, didn't fight or pick on each other, and (reportedly) ate all their lunch. I got big doting cow eyes from A when I arrived to resume my role as mother/slave pick them up. I never notice how cute and charming they are unless I've been away for a few hours.

Soooo -- tomato sauce is bubbling away, ravioli for dinner tonight and then I'm off for a few hours this evening for a Junior League meeting. I love adult time almost as much as alone time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Last night D wanted to say grace all by herself because, you know, she's a big six year old now and everything. Here's her take:

Bless us O Lord
And these thy gifts
Which we are about to receive
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Apparently she's got her mama's sweet tooth.

We had a wonderful weekend staying indoors avoiding heatstroke. M did make a break for it early Saturday morning to mow the yard, and D and I made it to church yesterday morning, but other than that we stayed inside to play. Heck, if you're spending $500 a month to cool your house you might as well enjoy it, right?

We have to have a new roof put on this week (yay crappy leaking roof!) and we're going to get the attic insulated too so maybe our electric bills will come down into the low 300s or -- dare to dream -- maybe high 200s. We were pleasantly surprised that the insulation is going to be under $1000. We were steeling ourselves for another money-pit expense in the thousands, but apparently blowing a bunch of recycled paper and stuff into your attic is relatively cheap. Compared to say, fixing the roof and repairing the ancient a/c. Even so, in the seven months we've been here, we've yet to have a month go by without an unexpected outlay of $2-3,000. Thank goodness we've been blessed with our Lord's "brownies."

Friday, July 11, 2008


Wheeee - weekend is (almost) here! I might get to sleep in until 7:00 tomorrow - at least, I hope so. I'm seriously tired from trying to restore order here. I can't believe how quickly the laundry has piled up on us, especially since we washed everything before we left NC. But all the hampers are full and there are towels everywhere, mocking me. At least the spiders webs are gone.

No matter. It's the weekend!

Tonight (or tomorrow if it's too crazy here this afternoon) I'm grilling chicken, making creamy corn-off-the-cob and roasted peach ice cream. Speaking of corn, waaayyy back in time when I was pregnant with D, almost 7 years ago actually, I lost my taste for a few things: red wine, garlic, onions and, oddly, corn. The garlic and onion love came back mid-way through my pregnancy with A, but the red wine and corn aversion has held up. Until this spring, when the early Florida corn was sooo good that even I had to like it. It seems that was all I needed to get me over my hate because now I'm fine with it again -- at least when it comes to fresh corn. Frozen corn still tastes funny to me (waxy? too sweet? can't put my finger on it. ) and I only like the canned stuff when it's cooked into something else like spoonbread or corn pudding. But sweet, freshly grilled corn? Mmmmmgood.

Red wine though? Bleh*.

*My sister Jenn, who is quite the oenophile, has enticed me to sip various Super Tuscans, GSMs, Barolos over the years. While the initial taste is yummy, the aftertaste still leaves me feeling hot & queasy. Like I said, bleh. Give me a cold Sam Adams anyday.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The high price of cockiness

FAIR WARNING: This is a bathroom-related story. If you are squeamish, go read someone else's blog.

Last night during dinner, A suddenly announces "Poopy. Potty." "Really?" I asked. He repeated it so I took him to the bathroom, stripped him down and lo and behold! A big poopy. In the potty. At only 23 months. What a prodigy, right? I was so happy. He was so proud. We wiped, we flushed, we waved bye-bye to the poopy. We washed our hands thoroughly. He was smiling like a crazy-man and even D got into the celebration. Could it be the end of diapers? In my enthusiasm, I bunged a diaper on him, not really being careful about where the leg holes were or if the velcro was secure. We returned to the kitchen, I helped him back into his booster seat and we started to finish dinner.

Fifteen minutes later he made this weird little face, grunted once and then had the biggest diapee blowout of his life. I haven't seen this much crap all in one place since the last time Paris Hilton was on the news. There was poop everywhere - all over him, his outfit, his booster, the chair. Apparently my cocky failure to properly secure his diaper resulted in even more leakage than if I hadn't put one on at all. The elastics and velcros and whatnot acted as a geyser or funnel mechanism. Anyway, I had to haul him back to the bathroom -- no more happy, no more proud, no more smiling -- chuck him in the tub for a quick scrub, take off the disgusting outfit (thank goodness it was a really old onesie and yes, I simply wrapped it up and threw it away.) and then, since no one wanted to finish dinner in the Poop Kitchen, I let them watch a bonus TV show while I dealt with the booster seat -- outside. No mere paper towel and lysol job - I needed the heavy duty scrubber, half-a-bottle of Dawn and an equal amount of Clorox. You know how the straps on boosters and high chairs are sortof ribbed? Imagine all those little ribs filled with.... well, get the picture?

I asked him later, before bed, if he wanted to try to use the potty. He just looked at me sorrowfully and said, "No. Poopy chair. Sad." My sentiments exactly.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

One more thing

So while the kids were otherwise occupied, I updated my blog template and added this cool (well, cool to me) playlist thingy over on the sidebar. I've forgotten how to code or I'd fix it. I hope it works.

Same old

Yesterday was D's sixth birthday and, per our family's tradition, she got to pick the dinner menu and the dessert of her choice. We all enjoyed the macaroni and cheese, although I just couldn't pull it together to make homemade as she initially requested. For dessert, she picked out a chocolate cake w/ chocolate fudge frosting. And Birthday Cake ice cream. I was a little leery at first but I'm happy to report that both were surprisingly delicious and not too noxiously sweet at all! I also discovered that the appliance bay in the kitchen makes a very excellent place to stash a small piece of cake to nibble on surreptitiously. What's that? Why am I hiding food? If you have to ask, you probably don't have kids. Don't judge.

Other than that, after being home for one day, we're slowly getting back in our groove. The kids alternate between crying because they love each other so very much that they can't stand to be apart for one second, or screaming and slapping each other because someone just stepped into someone's space. I've been mediating the usual arguments about who gets to play with the balloon, penguins, beads, or ________ (fill-in the toy of your choice) next. A has learned to say "sorry" very well, although maybe not so sincerely.

We've also started discovering all the little ways the house fell apart in our absence. There's the roof leak (which we knew about), the odd musty odor, the mysterious gaps in the floorboard, the clanking a/c which runs constantly but never cools anything, and worst, the gajillion spiders which took up residence and built webs between every solid surface. It's very strange. The staircase looks like an Indiana Jones set. I can't imagine how it stayed web-free in the year it sat empty before some sucker we bought it. I have this mental image of the realtor -- a very dignified older gentleman -- frantically running around with a Swiffer before every showing. D takes a little whisk broom everywhere, and every hour there's at least one urgent call of "Mommy!! I found a bug!" Such is life in Florida in the summer in our beautiful old house.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

We're baaaack

A day later than planned, but still, here. With the attendant bajillion errands to attend to, the 2 weeks of cleaning and unpacking and sorting to take care of, the mountain of mail - bills, thank yous from the umpteen parties D attended at the end of school, the catalogues reminding us ever so un-subtly that summer will end sooner or later (but back-to-school catalogues in early July? Really?)

We had a fabulously awesome time in NC. All of us. On the way home, in between DVDs, I asked everyone what they learned during the last two weeks:

Me: That you can go on vacation with two kids and no other first-aid supplies except a Benadryl stick and a half-empty bottle of infant Tylenol and no one will die.

M: To love big family gatherings.

D: All about kiwis (thanks cousin Jacob!)

A: How to play like a big boy and that I shouldn't run around too much right after I eat. Also, that I can eat almost a whole box of Ritz crackers all by myself over two weeks.

Mostly now we're trying to reacclimate to 90-degree temperatures and triple-digit humidity. A hard row to hoe indeed considering last Tuesday morning we woke up to a bracing 49 degrees. Heaven.

I made it through almost a whole morning of preliminary mail sorting before I turned on the TV for the kids though.