Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Cards

Last year I completely dropped the ball as far as Christmas cards were concerned. Nope, I did not send one Christmas card. Sad, I know. But I was fine with the decision after I realized that unless I decided to lick and stamp at about 3am for a few nights, it just wasn't happening . It was sort of well, freeing really. No pressure to select just the right photo of the family or the girls. No rushing out to get them printed. No extra $40.00 in postage alone.

This year I decided I wanted to send the cards. I didn't feel pressured to do it. I simply wanted to do it. And, hello Vistaprint....from the safe and secure chair located in front of my computer, I was able to order lots of Christmas cards while NOT dragging my two children to Costco for printing. That alone was worth the extra $7.00.

My only dilemma....reindeer hats or traditional Christmas coordinating outfits in front of a tree.

Personally, I'm partial to reindeer balloon hats since it shows their personalities. Their goofy silliness in all it's glory. And, this is what they look like most of the time when we are home. Except for the hitting, pouting and general sanguine behavior we sometimes see when they have had just too much sisterly togetherness.

Then again I did "earn" those matching holiday outfits when I sweated it out in pentagon style negotiations with my 7 year old at The Children's Place. She flitted about tossing red velvet, green polka dots and bolero sweaters at me while acting like Paris Hilton with her paid stylist picking up the trail after her. At the point of my exhaustion I ended the show with a short clip to the back of her arm skreetching at her in my public mom voice...."look, your selection of one and only one outfit needs to come BEFORE the second rising here, dear. And, your sister will get an outfit too, so leave something on the racks." Nice, I know. I did catch another mother out of the corner of my eye laughing at me while skittering away from us...far away. So yes, I earned those outfits and photographic evidence that I survived that trip to the mall with my daughters.

Which one did we select? Did you guess? If you're on our card list this year you should find out in about 4-7 business days. Otherwise, here is a hint. The Vistaprint templates were too small and rigid to accommodate some very large reindeer hats even though they were too darn cute while they lasted. Which for the record was about 20 minutes.

Happy card sending and collecting.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tree Lighting

Well, not exactly OUR tree lighting but we did attend our fair city's tree lighting downtown last night. It's become a bit of a tradition around here that to kick off the Christmas season we crash our friend's office the night of the big lighting, smoosh cheese crackers into his office carpet, rearrange his employee's picture frames and drink a few too many juice boxes...or glasses of wine from plastic cups if you are of the over 21 set.

Why he and his darling wife keep inviting us, I will never really know. But, we did have a blast as usual. Look at Ava and her gal pal E. They decided on matching holly fairy face painting this year.
Look at the little party goers last year. Despite the nightly bricks on the head trick I've been trying, they seem to be growing nonetheless.

A little note about Miss Liv. She was so pleased with her Holly Fairy face painting she asked numerous times to visit the ladies room to just take one more look in the mirror. "Oh Mommy, I beeeutiful" she said upon seeing herself made-up. Yes Liv, I agree...beeeutiful.

Well, I have thanksgiving decorations to store away in tote boxes, leftover brownies to eat and a tree of my own to think about pulling down from the attic.

Let the holiday festivities begin.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hello- Is Anybody Out There?

Bless me blogosphere it has been ahem, a while, since my last post. Did you think I left blog land? Even I thought I might have left blogland. Yea, yea everyone's busy. So that excuse it probably mute.

It's been so long that I almost had myself convinced that Ava is too old to blog about (and I need to save the cash for college not therapy sessions) and Livi is too even tempered and cool to embellish any wonderful and gray hair inducing antics and splay them all over the internet. The Muffin Man, yea, well he found out about the blog and got into the habit of reading. You know as well as I do that we can't have can I jovially make fun of the geezer if he reads regularly? Did I mention that he gave up and fell asleep during the bestest Colts game ever on Sunday night and missed the huge win? All after I told him NOT to give up and go to bed, because surely they would come back and win. (This is just a test to see if he is out of the habit of reading) But it was a true story, in case you were wondering for posterity's sake.

Here is what it comes down to...I love splaying our often and somewhat disfunctionalism's. It is often my therapy to write about them, those beings that for whatever reason seem to consistenly circle around my kitchen while wearing mismatched socks, chocolate milk mustaches, and crooked self trimmed bangs.

I'm nearing the end of my WAHM crazy holiday season when I drag myself around town in a 10 year old truck selling handbags and accessories at local art fairs, want to buy a watch? This will surely lead to more bloggy time as I step carefully and slowly away from the sewing room. You know with 17 people coming for Thanksgiving and Christmas to prepare for...I'll have lots of free time.

To tide you over until my next post, I'm promising something in the order of witty banter by 2011, here are a few photos of my ladies. Skipping through life over the last few mismatched socks and hand-me-down high heels.

Aren't they cute?

Oh by the way, we went to California for 5 days, Livi turned 4, Ava was cast in the school play, Liv is now on the 2020 Olympic gymnastics team, the Muffin Man rolled back into his company's parent organization, and I am turning gray and had a good color job. Now you are officially all caught up.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


It is so darn chilly here. What is going on? The middle of August feels like fall. Last weekend it was a precious 90 degree day and we immediately headed off to the pool. And stayed several hours, even though our entire town had the same idea.

Liv didn't mind the crowds at all.

Remember a few weeks ago when I couldn't keep my grubby little mits off the bid again button on ebay?

Look who scored an obscene amount of little pet shop toys.

Poor thing had to start 2nd grade and now Liv is enjoying the fruits of my labor while Ava is off memorizing what 4x6 equals.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Girls Make Pizza

Friday night we decided to make pizza. Ava seems to be in this strange anti red sauce phase of life right now. I swear the kid would eat anchovies dipped in pickle juice she's that much of a non-picky eater. But for whatever reason she's currently abstaining from spaghetti, pizza sauce, salsa and all other forms of Friday night food groups around here.

The solution...white pizza. I did a quick search for easy white pizza on food and found some great stuff...that I did not have in the pantry. I am not a planner when it comes to meals. I'm more of your meatloaf, clean out the fridge kind of cook.

So when I had to scrap the recipe idea things actually started to look up. The girls were happy to wing it with me and we crushed a bunch of garlic into light sour cream, added fresh oregano and basil. Adding a pinch of pepper made the sauce smell rather yummy. Livi and I started to pull cans of mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and spinach from the shelves.

Oh, and the cheese. We love our cheese. Before you knew it we had a mound of yummy pizza ready to be popped into the oven.

Check out the video where Liv eats an artichoke while placing it on the pizza. This is classic Liv, proclamations of yuck, uh it's horrible...while she goes for another bite.

The girls are finally getting old enough to have a little fun with them in the kitchen. Maybe we will try quesadillas next week.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Broadway, Almost

Here they are, all set and ready to go to their big show. Ava and Olivia participated in a music and show camp this week at the church next door to our house. About 40 kids had 4 days to learn 10 songs, dances that went with the 10 songs and then perform the whole show for a sanctuary filled with adoring family and friends.

Let me just say for the record that the director was fabulous and was so kind and patient with the kids. The show was well, down right good. My kids? Yes, they were absolutely enthralled with the whole experience and still continue to sing those blasted Christian songs of salvation over and over and over.

And yet, I was conflicted throughout the whole week. Yes, leave it to me to be uneasy and over think any situation where people are being extremely kind and generous to my family and pretty much asking nothing in return. And no it is not lost on me that my children were able to participate in a wonderful singing, dancing performing experience for all of $40 for the week. Where else would they get that much experience and entertainment? If it exists here in the metro area in non-liturgical form, I don't know where.

So, then why was I ill at ease at times? Why was I conflicted as to whether this was the best thing to let them attend this camp? The play had an overtly Christian theme but it was at a church for heaven's sake, forgive the pun. There was talk of where do you attend church? Imagine me with a green nose and two heads as I honestly answered that we don't attend a church. And, pray for forgiveness for our worldly sins. The kids are 7 and 3...I just can't get a grip around how much sinning they've really done. Unless you count the candy stealing and hiding of wrappers underneath the bed until bugs start to congregate incident of 2008. I'm not real big into original sin and punishment as redemption if you haven't guessed.

As the pastor opened the show he did so with a nice prayer. Then he even thanked people from other congregations for "sharing their children" so all Christians can come together for worship and song with our children. I know I know, but I couldn't help but think, wait what if we aren't all Christians? What if someone here is Muslim, or Buddhist or dare I say agnostic gah, athiest? What if someone here worships trees? Would we still all be invited?

My inner conflict has nothing to do with this church really, or its people or whether I agree with everything they profess. It is a more deeply rooted issue that I continue to grapple with centered around spiritual community vs. organized religion. Have you noticed that organized religion does community really well? My goodness, we have several churches within a 5 miles radius that boast membership in the thousands. My inner conflict stems from these places having amazing facilities and a sense of belonging for families...but the old "we believe one thing" that's the part that gets me every time.

Ava asked me recently why her friend attends a church and we do not. I told her it's not that we don't permanently or won't. Gees, her Irish Catholic dad went to parochial school until 12th grade. And, my father still attends weekly mass. But at some point in my life I also found value in having God as a presence in my life but also to be a critical thinker. This is what I want for my kids, critical thinking with a bend towards spirituality I suppose. I don't want them judging others. I don't want them going to college thinking they know "the way". Why yes, because because when you don't know "the way" and you question everything life is just so much easier. Hmmph.

This week I found myself feeling like perhaps I am isolating my children all in the name of being stubborn about organized religion. I would love to know how many folks attend a church and yet believe only 50% of what is being professed each week? 70% what about 30% How many people take their families to a church because they just want that community for their children and figure they will just "unprogram" the stuff they don't necessarily believe over dinner during the week? And is that fair to the church if you take up their resources and time believing that as you go in?

Yeah, this issue was a hell of a lot easier before I had kids. A hell of a lot easier. See, I knew I didn't belong there next door.

Monday, July 20, 2009

And I'll Raise You $.50 Damn It

I think I might have a little bit of an ebay problem. It's a new problem. Under normal circumstances I'm not much of an ebay'er. I don't come by that killer instinct for gambling and auctioning naturally. I'd rather have all the bidders over for coffee and muffins, making sure everyone is comfy while having nice non-political discussion. Then we could split up the goods even steven at the end of the day and I'd be happy. And full from muffins.

But this isn't how the dog eat dog world of ebay really works now is it? One winner, numerous losers, period. The one with the most crap at the end of the day wins. She laughs maniacially.

This new little ebay problem all started with Ava, my 7 year old, earning an allowance. I have taken the liberty of writing up her new "family contribution duties" and pasted them to her bedroom door. My friend Lisa gave me a rousing "Damn Girl, you are running a tight ship over there", when I read Ava's list to her earlier this summer. I call them family contribution duties, because I read in some stupid parenting magazine that allowances are out and family contributions are in. Whatever you want to call it; if Ava does something resembling what is on that list, and I am still sane enough to dole out the $3 bucks on Saturday mornings, she gets her fist full of dollars.

Ava has decided to save up for Littlest Pet Shop toys. which is so hugely ironic in a few ways. First, she really doesn't care for toys, never has. She's your basic "spend every waking moment of your time with ME, I got no time for cheap plastic, love language kind of kid". Second, she had a big birthday party in January and got a truck load of these Littlest Pet Shop toys and returned them all when she figured out she could buy cd's instead. Why she's sort of obsessed with the little creatures now, I have no idea. Call it summer boredom. She has also visited numerous little friend's houses who each seem to have about $4000 invested in these toys providing endless hours of delirious happiness.

Here comes the ebay part. The kid only earns $3 a week. These overpriced colorful bits of animal plastic consumerism are expensive. The poor kid could save up for 6 months and only be able to 1 pet shop house and 10 little animals. So, in my infinite wisdom I explained to her that Mommy would score some serious "gently used Little Pet Shops from smoke free homes" preferrably from a nice family bitten by the de-clutter and simplify bug and then re-sell them to her at the family discount. She's in and a plan is hatched.

Except, I didn't count on ebay'ing for Little Pet Shop crap to become a part time job requiring spread sheets and 2am computer time this week. I was down to the last 30 seconds bidding $5.50 on a lot of 10 animals with only $2.50 in shipping. When literally with 15 seconds some schmo in Nebraska undercut my bid and time ran out on the auction before my very eyes. I had watched those 10 animals for 4 hours people!

The Muffin Man heard me scream and when I went downstairs he rolled his eyes at me, "Whoa what's all the commotion babe?" I lost the Littlest Pet Shop auction I've been watching for hours I explained, using my I've been personally assaulted, I might sue voice. He then turned on his heels and mumbled something about driving my ass to Target and kicking in the extra $2.00 and not worrying about spending hours on ebay. Some people have no imagination, and besides we don't buy the kids toys unless it Christmas or birthdays. Wink.

But, I write this with a light heart as I have just learned that I have won! I have won 2 auctions that will be bringing me 2 packages of those strange little canine/feline/bovine/pandavine plastic pieces in 7-10 business days. Ahh, ummm...I mean Ava has won! This is all for Ava, cough cough.

And now, to re-sell them to Ava with her "family contribution" earnings. Should I make her pay interest for the time my money has been tied up in escrow? Will there be interest if she can't cough up all the cash all at once? What if she decides she's really is into Webkins as she sort of hinted at dinner?

No worries, If I can't unload the goods here on the cul-de-sac I'm selling the lot to Santa...on ebay.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Saying The Darndest Things

Since I've been spending some serious quality time with the girls this summer I've been hearing lots of what's on their minds. This is all fine and good until both of them choose to share the most important thing ever all at the same time. Which is usually about 80% of the time. Both girls chattering away at the same time, both girls frustrated that I cannot respond since I cannot hear anything except chatter, chatter, chatter.

We are of course working A LOT on the concept of how rude it is to interrupt one another. How I simply cannot hear or process what anyone is saying when more than one person is talking, loudly. How, truly everyone will get a turn and my attention if we wait patiently to express that thought. This is a process in our house. Sadly, a rather slow process.

Here are a few gems I have managed to get this summer:

Girl On Girl Inferiority Complexes

Ava says: Mom, you know how you are out and about and sometimes you see a really cute girl? Me: Uh yes, I guess so.
Ava: Doesn't that just make you so jealous? When that girl is cuter than you? It makes me nuts. Me: (rather unpoetically) Are you kidding me? You are seven. Seriously, this makes you nuts? Ava: Yes, it does.
Me: Reeling and thinking I better come up with something resembling a teachable moment. Ugh, Ava beauty is after all skin deep. When that happens to me, I like to think about inner beauty. You know, how good I can be as a friend. Or how hard I try to have integrity as a person. (We were forced to have some serious integrity discussions after this school year, so Ava completely gets integrity.)
Ava: Yeah, but seriously there are some cute girls out there.
Me: Yeah, I guess there are.

So much for teachable moments, bring on the mother daughter botox.

Alternate Methods Of Toy Procurement

Liv: I want roller skates.
Me: Well, put them on a birthday list for next November.
Liv: I NEED them. I can't wait until Kobember.
Me: I know it feels like that but we can't have a new toy anytime we see it on tv.
Liv: I'm telling Grandpa I need roller skates, I can't wait.

She has been asking me to call Santa since she is also convinced that she cannot wait for Christmas either.

Dinner Time Etiquette

Liv after taking one bite of food: Ahhh, this is gross. I can't eat this.
Ava to Livi: Ohhh, if you say things like that you will be offending the cook. And, when you grow up and go to a friend's house you will be so embarassed if you offend the cook. Offended cooks will not serve you food, Right Mom?.
Liv: This is gross.
Me: Nice, Liv.

And so our quest for meaningful proper family discussion continues.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Candy Parade

The next town over has their Freedom Festival the week before July 4th each year. Ava named it the candy parade when she was two years old since you pretty much get to see cheerleading clubs, Shriners driving mini cars, and John Deere trucks, big ass John Deere trucks. Oh, and everyone IN the parade throws candy at the kids sitting along the sidelines. Apparently this is huge fun when you are under 10, and quite frankly can be the highlight of any red-blooded American's (or Chinese American as the case may be) summer. Thus we have the candy parade. My girls LOVE it.

The snarky adults sitting second row simply toss bets around for just how many cheerleading clubs we will see sweating it out flip flopping through the parade that year. (We've gone to an over-under betting system in recent years...and I placed my over 12 and lost...I still think we should have counted the Cloggers and I want that noted for the record.)

Here is the motely crew before heading off to the candy parade. Livi is dutifully holding her candy bag, notice in red white and blue - for the occasion. We began taking the candy collection thing seriously in 2004 when Ava threw and elbow and took down an unsuspecting 6 year old, all for a necco wafer. This year I got in on the action and made them matching candy bags with the Freedom theme. Livi is doing her part by showing my handywork for posterity. She is my compliant child, and I love her for it.

Waiting, waiting, the candy tossing got off to a slow start this year.

Saw---weeet success. There is a tootsie roll in that bag, just look closer. Personally I can already see the effects of mega sugar intake on her little face.

Yes, that is me. Haven't the hours and hours at the gym done me well? Psst..don't answer that question, it was rhetorical. Despite my best efforts to always remain behind the Canon Powershot, Livi threatened to throw a whopper of a fit if I didn't let her take some photos. So much for the compliant child stuff.

This weekend we are off to our town's parade and festivities. Which actually had the 4th of July celebration on the 4th of July, novel yes?

I'm sure the candy mongers will be able to scam some more goodies to share.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What It Mean, I Born In China?

You know, the international adoption gig can be so strange as time passes, your kids grow up a little and you end up with two very normal little kids who beg to take gymnastics classes, ride bicycles in the cul-de-sac, and learn to float in swim lessons. Just like everyone else.

But then there are days that throw you a little. These are days that bring a flood of memories filled with hot dark civil affairs government buildings in Chinese capital cities, scared screaming babies, and Chinese officials speaking a mile a minute in a sea of chaos.

The fact that we could never get a straight answer on exactly where Ava spent her first 8 months of life in Yueyang County, Hunan has admittedly always bothered me. I've told myself it shouldn't since I got the gift of Ava, isn't a happy healthy beautiful child enough? I've told myself it isn't my story, it's hers, why should this continue to nag at my consciousness? Time has softened the "need to know more, need to know the whole truth". Although I have tried, I simply cannot let it completely go. In the back of my mind there is still something about her first 8 months of life that is locked up in a director's need to hold tight information he deemed possibly unnecessary or embarrassing for the orphanage.

The official paperwork stated she spent approximately 6 months in the orphanage. But, I have pictures showing the baby room empty with captions that read "babies in foster care due to construction". When I questioned our agency several months after we came home about any foster care, our agency reported that the orphanage stated that no records were kept on how long construction took and which babies were sent to be fostered. Due to the fact that this orphanage has always been relatively small and fully embroiled in the international adoption program with the CCAA, I found that hard to believe. Strict paperwork is required by the CCAA.

I had a sense that the director wasn't giving families full information when I met him the day after we met Ava. I thanked him for taking such good care of the 5 babies that came to us that day. He wouldn't look me in the eye. I told him I would send pictures of Ava as she grew. He bowed slightly and looked at his cell phone. I asked him for a business card to keep in touch, he told me through an interpreter that he had forgotten them that day, and that they weren't needed.

Over the years since 2002 a few families have been able to visit the orphanage, to my knowledge, more recently in 2007 and forward. I read these listserve posts when they return home over and over looking for bits of information that may piece the whole truth together. I print the photos of the orphanage and surrounding areas off to place in Ava's big box of all things adoption. Were the children fostered? What does fostering mean at Yueyang County? I suspect that when a child goes home with an orphanage employee at night, that might constitute fostering vs. living full time at a family residence.

Somewhere in about mid 2004 Yueyang County officials began telling families that their children were fostered. As Ava grew a few families posted that they were able to visit the orphanage. Some were allowed to take a few photos of the inside, some were not. Some were treated very kindly and were taken to lunch by the orphanage officials. Recently, a family traveled to Yueyang and was granted permission to visit the facility. When they inquired about their daughter's orphanage file, they were shown information they didn't know existed. A time and exact date of birth. The family shared an email address for the director. There is even a photo of the director, it is not the same man we met in Changsha in 2002.

I emailed the mother who visited just a few weeks ago and asked if she thought the director would check a file if a family made a request via email? She said it might be worth a try. I'm working on a draft to ask this director whether he would be kind enough to search for a file created and closed 7 years ago. I have no idea whether he would process such a request. I think that I will include a photo collage of the referral picture and a few photos of Ava growing up.

Just as the dust was settling on this issue yesterday another one boiled up. I was putting Olivia to bed and after her story she asked, "Mama, what it mean I born in China?" This is the first time she has shown any interest or understanding about her adoption. I did my best to explain "born in China" to my sleepy 3 year old. In typical Liv fashion she seemed to take it all in quietly and with great intent to understand. Then she asked to see pictures of China and our trip in 2006 when she woke up. Today we are looking through photos of our trips to China. I am reminded how time passes quickly. On some level, I suppose I am again determined to know all that I can about my babies precious first few months of life. Even if it means I have to keep asking.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Cul-De-Sac Summer Day 2

Is it just me or is that transition from school year delicious'ness called SCHEDULE into summertime ridiculous'ness eat what you want, sleep when you want, yell at your mom when your want just a little bit like driving toothpicks under your toenails? Maybe I'm just the type of gal who doesn't transition well. I remember being a manager at work several years ago in a new job and feeling way out of sorts when I didn't know with whom I would eat my lunch. I had to smack myself around a bit saying I was making way too much money and supervising way too many people to be worried about lunch, but I was. A few weeks later I'd inevitably adjust to whatever the situation was and wind up fine and dandy. I guess I'm your average hate the new "job" for a week or so and then settle down and relish each moment type of gal.

Last week was my official 1st week on the job as "At home Mom, to two." I was at the beach thinking Oh, this year will be easier...the girls are older...I'm used to transitioning to having 2 at home...and gee whizzz aren't they being rather well behaved?" Hmmph, I guess the fact that they weren't THAT much work had something to do with the Muffin Man and my father helping out quite a bit. Perhaps the good behavior had something to do with WE WERE IN PARADISE and all they had to do was choose between swimming in the gulf of Mexico or the fabulous resort pool. Oh yeah, ice cream at 3pm might have helped mood balance too.

Now reality has set in. Ava pitched a big bitch this morning when I wouldn't let her have sirloin soup for breakfast. Why we would even have sirloin soup in the pantry is a mystery to me. All this makes me think I need to take the Muffin Man's grocery card away, but that's another drama for another day. Liv insists on riding her two wheeler in the cul-de-sac about 18 hours a day in circus bear circles and can't understand why she keeps falling off and skinning her knee after the 10,000th lap. She looks at me like I'm ET when I try to tell her to do 5,000 to the left and 5,000 to the right. Presto, no skinned knee caused by vertigo.

I took them both grocery shopping with me this afternoon. You know where this is going right? Mayhem ensued and I threatened them loudly as they pulled organic crackers down off aisle 9. I rounded a corner and saw a mother with no less than 4 children, calmly walking beside her as she put toothpaste into the cart. These calm mothers need to give up the secret.

I'm just telling myself I simply need two weeks to get into the groove of the "new job". I'll be basking happily at the pool in no time right? I'll figure out a way to get Ava to practice her times tables and she will go to 2nd grade knowing what 3 times 4 equals. She loves her advanced math class, but we've hit the wall practicing times tables, period end of story. Livi will undoubtedly master the cartwheel this summer pulling herself off the bike and finding another way to contort her little body into rapid concentric circles. All will align for us in the universe. We will get our groove on, won't we?

UPDATED THIS MORNING: I decided to take the girls to the free park concert last night. I got the fried chicken and Polly Pockets packed in the cooler. We even had healthy carrots, or did we? I arrived at the concert in the next town and realized I'd left the packed cooler in the garage. I forgot to put the damned thing in the car. Oy. Looking forward to day 3 and 4 and 5 and 67. Day 67 is when school starts in case you're counting.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Oh Captiva, My Captiva

We're back, after our week in paradise. I'm all cranked out because I could move there, sit on a lonely beach and start margharita's at 3pm each and every day. Is that any way to live a life, accomplishing nothing, achieving little unless you count a pickled liver, and functioning at the rate of a sea snail? Probably not, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit to want to trying it out for a few years or decades. Please oh, Vanguard accounts of the world...earn momma some vacation home dollars for a happy retirement.

My most stressful problem was how to keep Olivia from becoming polka dotted with the pesky skin condition that turns that adorable kid about 6 different shades of human within 1 week of being in the sun. I know she'll get me good for this one day but I made her wear a rather unattractive hat each and every moment we were outside. And the darn kid is still native brown. So far she's only lightly spotted, I'll report back if she enters techni color status for the summer.

Ava's lovely black silk hair quickly turned to fish wire as she swam in the pool and ocean every day. But, that's nothing a good baking soda and ultra swim shampoo treatment won't cure here when I get around to it.

Oh, yeah and there was the dilemma about whether or not to eat the Muffin Man's steak fajita's for three meals or four emptying a refrigerator full of leftovers onto my ass. I opted for three meals, and yes I'll be paying for it this week and next as the old summer wardrobe is not as comfy loose as it was 8 days ago. With these problems world peace would be a cinch for me. I'm ready to come work for Obama any day he makes that call and springs me from the cul-de-sac.

This week away from it all was about more than a hollywood glad rag magazine and flip flops. It was educational. We saw dolphins dancing off the side of a boat ride, jumping in the ocean as we built sand castles, and even hob nobbed with manatees at a local marina. Believe it or not the Muffin Man even saw a 9 ft. manatee glide by while he was swimming in the ocean. I probably would have freaked out and scared the poor barnacle infested thing over to the bay side, so it was good only he got to swim with the sea cow.

It's back to reality now. Kids are out of school, husband travels for work this summer and I'm left making nachos at 7pm for the kids, popping in a movie and calling it "family time"as justification for the not-so-nutricious-cheese fest. Stop on by the back yard for a lemonade.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Goodbye 1sts

Oh, dear...she's done with 1st grade. Graduated without fan fare, only the requisite cleaning of desks and an early dismissal this gorgeous May day. According to that last report card...that's it, she's done. They are kicking her to the streets for 9 weeks until they expect her back with bells on for 2nd grade. I told her we could celebrate with a quick trip to our favorite Sichuan joint up the street. We ate too many pork dumplings and spicy tofu plates. Tomorrow we kick off our summer holiday with a trip to our favorite little Florida island, Captiva. I will sit in my chair and watch her build sandcastles with her sister.

The second picture is exactly how she looked on that 1st day of 1st grade. Except for the missing front tooth now, I'd say she only looks a little smarter and a wee bit older.

Just as I am sure the 9 weeks of summer, trips to the pool, fire fly catching and mud pie making will be, this year has been fleeting and fast.

I tell her all the time we need to place a brick on her head. Not that she's in any danger of matching me at 6' tall any time soon, or in this lifetime, but I simply can't stand the fact that she's closer to 8 than 7 and she's better than me at fractions.

Miss Olivia had a small graduation of her own recently. Onto to her next year of preschool in September. Her school celebrated with a rousing rendition of Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear. I was dreaming Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear after hearing it no less than 6,000 times the last few weeks. In September she will start a three's preschool class. She knows all her letters and colors and I'm sure she'll be spouting off fraction facts soon too.

I'm not going to wax and wane anymore. I'm not going to cry...sniff sniff. I'm just going to relax this summer and try to catch their each and every move...until they drive me nuts that is and I'm praying to see that big yellow bus pull up again at the corner of the cul-de-sac.

Until then, let the summer games begin.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A little foodie love

Had a request for what was in that crock pot the other night. The one that made Ava do a happy meat jig. And since I am not above a good EASY crock pot recipe or casserole dish, I'm obliged to share a little foodie love. By the way, I love me a casserole and have some American thighs to show for it. Especially in the winter, smothered with cheese, bubbling up at 350 degrees for 1 hour in the oven. You know the kind you can still smell in the morning? And it is too cold to open the windows so you have to burn a Yankee candle? Oh yeah. Not one shred of east coast urban gal left in me...color me Indiana.

Well, here it is.

1. 1 big hunk of pork (I used a huge slab of pork shoulder that had probably been in the freezer since 1996. Kidding, I cleaned the freezer in '98 so it couldn't have been that old.) Defrost the thing, however you might.

2. Pour one can of beer in the crock pot.

3. Pour one jar of banana peppers juice and all into the crock pot.

That's it folks. The whole kit and kaboodle. Now, I let it simmer for 2 hours on high and then another 5-6 on low. But if you are a working stiff...put that puppy on low for 10 hours.

When you open the crock pot use a big fork to sort of pull it all apart, making it shredded. I swear I'd never eat loose meat never mind swoon over it. Good God, I feel as though I'm channeling my inner Paula Dean. Don't you just love her?

Now I know you are wondering...did she make that up? Oh hell no, you know me by now. Why invent it when you can steal it? I give full credit to a gal named Courtney, she hostessed a Pink Evita event recently and told me what was making her house smell yummylicious. It's her recipe or maybe her mother-in-laws, who really knows?

Go forth and make pulled pork. May the force be with you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Alien Abduction

I suppose I could write about all the reasons why I couldn't post in the last umm...few weeks. I'll just cut to the chase and give it to your straight, I was abducted by aliens and they wouldn't let me have internet access. They had me wearing my hair in two buns over my ears and sitting in a stainless steel room in a white robe. They kept calling me by my catholic confirmation name, Leah and absolutely no wireless access.

In my bloggy absence it appears as if life has gone on here at the cul-de-sac. The 7 year old has declared herself more genetically related to her father (her words, not mine) due to the fact that she has discovered a true and deep everlasting love for meat. Yes, meat. I made pulled pork in the crock pot after the aliens dropped my ass back in suburbia and this is what I got.

Declaration that the adopted child does indeed have more of her father's ever-loving carnivorous self pulsing through her veins than the broccoli I've been pushing for six years. This scene was following by a very groovy happy meat dance. Highly entertaining, if you don't get out much like me.

Liv has been up to good stuff as well. She rides a bike now. She's three. No training wheels. Proving that her people were circus people, she spent 4 hours riding one way in a circle this past Sunday in the cul-de-sac. She never fell, not once.

It's strange but true. Her sister and friend next door were highly embarassed, as they only rode scooters until Sunday. They each hopped on a bike and started riding for the first time as well.

When you look at the last picture doesn't the music from Wizard of Oz when the wicked witch is riding her bike play in your head? Dunt dee dunt dee duhhh duhhh.

I was kidding about the alient abduction thing, no really I was. I'm jsut super busy with ye' old little business. Follow along as I post pictures of my new iron, the shark...and see if I can make 18 bags in 18 days while maintaining some semblence of mental sanity. Follow along at Pink Evita if you'd like.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Peach Ribbons To Beat The Rainy Day Blues

I spent my morning with a friend making these! Little girl dresses made from pillow cases.
For those of you who are thinking wow, she is crafty how did she come up with that idea? I didn't. I stole it from the internet. Not the dresses, the idea. If you are interested in making your own little girl dresses out of pillow cases, google it. Directions and tutorials abound!

They are ridiculously easy to make and the real fun is coming up with the decorations. It is sort of like buying cupcake mix at the grocery. Making the cupcakes is easy, decorating them with colored icing and sprinkles is the fun part! Ribbons, bows, and buttons just happen to be my icing.

My friend made this little one for her three year old daughter. Gillian loves bows and bright colors, this should quickly be a favorite in her closet.

Ava found some Panda bear buttons at the fabric store last week and they were so darn sweet I couldn't say no to buying them. Perhaps they will make their way to another pillow case dress very soon.

Friday, March 27, 2009

14 Minutes

I ran on a treadmill for 14 minutes today. I also walked briskly for 16, but this little story is really about those 14 minutes of running or what that represents. To be quite honest I shocked the heck out of even myself. Now, I know that for anyone out there who is even the slightest bit in shape and or even minutely truly athletic this little milestone of mine is well, slightly anticlimatic. I get that, and yet I'm undeterred.

This whole get the ass off the couch thing started when I saw a Wynonna Judd commercial several weeks ago. Do you know how that pains me to admit that? Wynonna, who seems like a nice gal on the commercial even if her highlights are a bit extreme admits to "not putting herself on the list". Yes, it is a commercial and all, but I get that. That speaks to me. Did I run out and buy the diet pill she was hocking, oh no, but I do understand what she's saying. Look folks, I may not be Heidi Klum or anything but gees, I'm going to get heart disease and be in triple digit jean sizes if I don't pay a little more attention to myself. I'm with you sister Wynonna.

I'm almost 40, the kids have completely taken over my life, the wee little small business I have eats up many more hours a week than the clock shows exist and then there's laundry too. It's no longer about being Heidi Klum, but rather just being on a list. An important list. A list where there is time for me each week to help make me strong. I swear my goal wasn't really to run anywhere for any length of time. If only my goals were that lofty, run a marathon, hah, get real. No, I was merely motivated by the fact that I simply would not buy bigger pants for spring. And, truth be told I was down to only about 3 pairs that fit. And now, I'm a little stronger. I ran 14 minutes today! I wore a pair of pants that have been collecting dust, they were not loose but I was in them. I was in them!

And if that isn't enough, I 'm hanging around the section of the gym where there are free weights. Free weights, did you read that? I'm going after that little line you get in your upper arm if you hang out at a gym long enough and lift something other than a donut and a three year old. I'm going after that feeling of a light spring in your step after climbing a flight of stairs rather than that old tired slumpy I need to slow down for a minute.

I'm going after that feeling where I'm important too. Being strong is just as great as volunteering at the school, just as important as a balanced checkbook.

Now does anyone have any great ipod shuffle tunes preferrably quite snappy that you can get a little sweat on and work through an endorphin high while feeling about 20 years younger than you really are? Seriously, I'd like your very best thump a bump tune ideas.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

That's A Big Gap

Hey, psst...big news over here. There has been a dangling tooth situation over here for a few weeks. My mom couldn't take it anymore, gave my sister a paper towel and instructed her to take care of that disgusting dangling tooth situation.

Someone is losing a tooth today. And it isn't me. I need my front tooth to continue my thumb sucking habit.

Oh my gosh, you don't think they are going to pull MY teeth do you? I need them to chase tennis balls and decapitate small woodland animals.

Neither toddler nor hound were abused while minor home bound dentistry was performed, make a note.

But, damn that's one heck of a crater don't you think? Extraction of that one tooth entertained the whole family for hours this weekend.

I wanted to get busy with the three others that are loose but had my family orthodontia license abruptly revoked by the 7 year old.

Her first question was. "If I lose the other one soon will you cut the corn off the cob for me this summer?"

I know I'm a little gruesomely extraction happy but even I could answer a sweetly positioned "Yes, baby" to that one.

Then she tossed her hand on her hip and with tween attitude proclaimed the tooth fairy a fake.
I replied, "Ahh, those that believe in magic receive magic in the form of $1.00 bills." "Make it two and I'll be good all day, she bargained." "Hey, make it one, a pack of gum AND you keep the secret zipped up tight around your sister, comprende?" "Fine, she skipped off, wearing a new toothless off kilter grin."

And you know what she did on Monday? When the class asked what the tooth fairy brought over the weekend she told a tale of fakes. Yes, I am the parent of THAT child in the first grade class. I'm shocked I didn't receive hate mail.

I know I've said it before but I'll say it again. May she grow big and strong to use her powers for good and not evil.

Monday, March 09, 2009

A Rowdy Crowd

I went to my speaking gig on Friday night. I drank a couple of club soda's...and in the end it was a little uneventful. The crowd was a bit unwieldy, couldn't control the masses. There was one lady speaking before me and all I could think was oh, dear this isn't going to be one of my more monumental earth moving spirit raising public chats.

The crowd simply would not settle down. But, then again they had a few of us speak before people could get through the very long food line and sit down to nosh on their yummy Bonefish Grill grub. And you know how difficult it is to control a crowd BEFORE they've been fed on a Friday night. The poor gal in front of me was a big supporter of the Wellness Community AND a recent cancer survivor. I would estimate about 20 people actually stopped to listen to her talk, about 5 less than stopped to listen while I had a firm grip on the mike. The rest of the other 300 folks too busy slurping down gin and tonics, scarfing down crab cheese balls and trying to outbid each other on the Peyton Manning jersey up for auction.

In the end it was all good. The older lady speaking before me got a little surly at the end of her 15 minutes of fame and clearly instructed the unruly crowd that they had better NOT outbid her on that week long trip to Sanibel Island also up for auction, she was a cancer survivor and for God's sake and she deserved a week in Sanibel. I should have stuck around long enough to see if she got the trip. I pity the poor fool dumb enough to out bid her auction bid.

When it was my turn I simply marched up to that loud crowd and did my best to entertain the 6 people listening with all the jocularity associated with having cancer 8 years ago. If you remember from the last post the theme of the evening was Laughing Matters. The whole time I was up there I just couldn't help feeling extremely grateful that I was just there, and not managing cancer on a daily basis. I'm living to tell the the 6 people who will stop to listen. Everything else that night paled in comparison. I'm lucky to have come so far that I have the luxury of being cancer cavalier.

I stepped off the stage and ran into a very old friend. Who, ironically enough was in my life supporting me when I was sick. She made meals and brought them to the house. She listened to me when I needed it with a group of amazing book study ladies for months on end. Now it was her time for some help, she told me about how her dear husband has advanced stage disease, and they are using the services of the Wellness Community. She told me the story with grace and dignity. I don't know what life holds for my friend and her husband but I do know that I cherish those few fleeting moments with her as she explained their fight with the disease. I suspect that was the real reason I was meant to attend the event...not to yuck it up with jokes about crooked wigs and strange mishaps with radiation. But rather, to be there connecting with people like my friend who are living gracefully with cancer.

I didn't stay for the free drinks or dinner after my little public chat. I didn't feel like it. I got in the car and rushed back to the house to see if the girls were still awake. Of course they were, the Muffin Man isn't as strict about that 8pm bedtime routine as I am. I gathered up 3 library books, hoisted them into my bed and read them their stories. I kissed their little warm heads as I tucked them in.

And that's it...that's how the evening went down.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Oh crap, I have a speech to give tonight

A few weeks ago The Wellness Community asked if I would speak at a local fundraising silent auction, dinner deal here in town. It's tonight. I simply cannot say no to these events since as many of you know who have subjected yourself to this blog over the last 3 1/2 years, I am a cancer survivor. The Wellness Community was immeasurably kind to me when I was quite frankly down for the count. I swear I cannot ever repay their respect and understanding when it comes to being a cancer survivor. It was the one and only place I had where people truly did know what it was like to be 31 years old and have cancer. They didn't pity me, they didn't treat me any differently than anyone else, and for a short time I got to be normal there...when nothing seemed normal.

So, I said yes to this speaking gig. It's at the swanky party pavilion owned by the big man around town who owns the NFL team. As you may have guessed, this is my first and perhaps last invite to the swanky party pavilion. And, the theme is Laughing Matters - Eat, drink and laugh away your blues away while supporting Central Indiana cancer survivors and their families. Rubber chicken dinner at 6:30 and silent auction at 8:00. All fine and good right?

Wrong. The Muffin Man has been working in Vegas all week and I've been single parenting the gals, volunteering at the school and making ten handbags to fill a custom order and make some yummy things for next week's craft show. Oh, and I've had to feed and exercise the dog, which is not usually my responsibility but the Muffin Man has dumped me temporarily to bet on Univ. of Pittsburgh at the Luxor and play 163 games of blackjack. Ok, fine he is also sort of paying the mortgage while supposedly working there too but still....I've been left busy this week. So busy in fact I have not prepared one little thing for my speaking gig. And, now it is 6 hours away and I'm slightly stressed. As in I might throw up. But watching 39 year old mid western housewives barfing isn't that entertaining for cancer patients and the wealthy folks who attend these things supporting fine upstanding nonprofits. So, I have to think of something else, barfing won't do.

I've done enough of these things here in town that I'm afraid my normal shtick could be oh, I don't know BORING to anyone who has attended these things before. The theme is Laughing Matters, so I'm contemplating digressing from my normal, I was a midwestern working gal living on the cul-de-sac and then I got cancer, yadda yadda yadda. Now everything came up roses for me and I got to keep my cushy life, fabulous husband and then as if that wasn't enough, God tossed in two of the most amazing little Chinese kids ever known to man...and said hey, keep 'em and raise 'em good. Instead I'm sitting here contemplating giving a whirl at the funny things about having cancer. Which, admittedly at the time weren't all that funny.

You know how time is? It passes and when you live to tell about it, sometimes it gets a little funnier. You know, I once left the hospital after a surgery to install a port-a-catheter hooked up to my central line to make administration of chemo "easier" with a huge needle sticking out from my chest. No, this was not a mistake on the part of the surgeon. He thought it would be better to do the surgery, and poke the catheter with a huge needle while I was still asleep so I wouldn't feel the pain the next day when they had to rig it up to give me my first chemo treatment. I walked around and slept with a gigantic needle sticking 4" out of my chest until they were able to easily hook it up to the chemo line the next day. It made navigating the car seat belt and quick trip to the grocery an interesting experience. They were nice enough to give me a generous band-aid but there is just something that seems ridiculously funny about walking around town with a 4" needle sticking out of your chest. I think if I had it all to do over again I would march myself to the downtown mall lay down in front of the Limited and scream, "I've been stabbed" and then watch the mall cops on Segways come rolling over.

Gah, I can't decide. Tell those funny but only 8 years later stories, or not. I might have to go throw up instead. Did I mention I have no idea what I'm going to wear? Of course you were expecting that one right? I'm going to ignore the situation a little longer by taking Livi into my bathroom, try on a few outfits and asking her to speak up when I've found an outfit that makes me look like a respectable cancer survivor who's butt looks very small in her outfit.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Who Knew Preschool Drop Off Could Baffle...

And other reasons I might have to hit myself with a brick to start being more normal.

Against my better judgment I took Stein, otherwise known as Chloe the Puggle, with us in the car today while attempting preschool drop off. (As a side note, the dog is Stein, not Chloe. She was named Chloe by her first family and it is far too pretty and dainty of a name for this animal. And, Chloe rhymes with our last name, making the whole thing so ridiculous, even for us. ) Why Stein? I don't know if she were human she'd probably be Gertrude Stein, a personal literary heroine of mine. And seriously, that wrinkly little face and pudgy body makes for a Stein.

Upon getting Liv out of the car in the very crowded parking lot for preschool drop off, I give Stein the authoritative command to SIT and STAY in the car while I open the door to get everyone and everything out of the car. She immediately ignores me, and leaps over a row of seats to freedom in the parking lot. I drop Liv on the ground and scream at the dog to SIT. She does, under the very large SUV turning on the engine getting ready to leave next to me. I whip her neck around to come to me and she panic's and jerks her neck to rid herself of her collar and leash. I am completely forgetting that I have a three year old unattended in the busy parking lot. I once again yell at the dog to come. Some lady stops to ask if she is a puggle. I grit my teeth and and yes, an ill behaved puggle. The lady looks at me like I need to take a pill, which admittedly I probably did need to chill out a bit. I scoop up the dog and toss her furry little ass in the hatch of the Durango. I walk Liv into school.

Now we are off to get the dog's nails trimmed, which is why she was invited on this little tour through town in the first place. The dog has something resembling bear claws for talons, thus making her monthly expenditure on canine pedicures much more than my own. The gentleman waiting to grind those nails down is sporting the strangest purple goatee. Yes, purple. As I stood waiting hoping he would not inflict some strange grooming choice on MY dog the other lady in the shop piped up telling me that the purple goatee was in fact hair dye, not to worry they dye is purple but surely the final result would be some innocuous form of brown in about 8 more minutes. Doggie hair dye. I wasn't sure whether to begin the line of subsequent questioning about what doggie hair dye is or why he was using on his own face. So I chose to ignore the whole situation, which was admittedly killing me. The man trimming my dog's nails was pulling double duty by coloring his own facial hair, in front of clients, while making a few extra bucks on a drop in puggle nail trim. For some reason, I find this whole situation extremely twilight zone. When I went to pay he did not have change. We are not talking high finance here, he couldn't break a ten. To remedy the situation he left the shop and went next door to Subway for change. I felt like shouting, "Hey, pick up a 6" meat ball sub while your over there." But I refrained, completely entraced by that purple goatee, waiting for my two dollars in change.

While waiting for the nonexistent meat ball sub and change I tell the dog to SIT, as she was yanking my arm making it difficult to look for any spare one dollar bill. The lady behind the counter gasps loudly and says "Ugh, what did you say? This week is national no swear words week. No swear words in the shop!" It takes me a minute to get it, she thought I said...that swear word that rhymes with SIT. I explained that NO I said SIT to my DOG. You know the one your purple goatee'd employee just worked on? "Oh", she apologized. Right, because SIT is something you never hear while working with pets all day, every day.

You know, I love weird people. I suppose in that parking lot chasing a puggle while ignoring my CHILD amongst 35 running minivans, I am one of those weird people. Some crazy wacko preschool mom is probably blogging about the idiot woman who brings the puggle to preschool drop off endangering animal and preschooler alike this very minute.

Monday, March 02, 2009

New Recycled Outfits

I spent yesterday in the sewing room under a stack of clothes the girls have semi outgrown. By this I mean that the pants on the craft table still fit but with all the bean eating and surprisingly low amount of sunshine and it's benefits of vitamin D this winter, it appears both girls have miraculously grown about 6 feet each. Perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration since I'm six feet tall and the little ankle biters are have only sprouted to knee biter status. Nevertheless, I simply cannot justify new winter jeans in March when we are only 4-6 weeks from short shorts and tank tops. Oh, could one only hope?

Armed with my small arsenal of clearance rack tee shirts, flood water jeans and enough scraps of material to clothe half of Nigeria, I set to work. Liv wanted flowers and Ava wanted their outfits to match. (I think it is simply adorable that my ultra independent and high minded 7 year old still wants her outfit to match her 3 year old sister's. But don't tell her I told you that.)

Here they are, three dollar tee shirts transformed into tri-layered flowers with flower buttons from secret stash button jar sewn in the middle.

To make those jeans last another few months; ruffles. More and more ruffles. This is the easiest thing to do, really. Simply cut strips of fun material about double the width of the circumference of the pant leg and whatever length you need to extend the pants. I cut my strips about 4" wide. Hem one long edge. Run one super long stitch with the longest baste stitch your machine has along the other. Pull the end top string to gather that basted edge into the exact width of the pant leg opening. Place right sides together with the gathered edge running along the bottom outside edge of the pant leg. Sew in place. Fold down to expose the pretty side of the ruffle. Press. All done, awesome girly ruffles.

Moving Onto To Why Ruffles May Not Be Cool For Too Much Longer

This little girl told me that she found a drawing of a tooth fairy in my desk this weekend. The drawing matched perfectly to the little drawing of the tooth fairy that she received on her most recent letter from the tooth fairy. Therefore, I have been found out. I think her exact words were "I'm onto you, Mom." And this is the exact face I stood dumbfounded looking into.

To which my only reply was a stumbling, "Hey, those who believe receive cold hard cash in payment for little girl teeth. Do you want the cash?" "Yeah, I want the cash, make it green", she eagerly replied giggling and skipping away.

All Smiles

Liv's at that stage where when you tell her to smile, she seems to transform her face into a contortion resembling what 70 year old men look like when having colonoscopys. It must be a developmental thing, as I remember Ava having a 6 month period where she absolutely would not smile for a camera. Only, sadly enough, Livi's has lasted 2 years. God, maybe she's channeling American Gothic.

Evidence that she does in fact smile on a daily basis. She has to be poked in the tummy by her sister, but she does smile.

And finally, silly diffused picture when they were tired of me snapping with the camera to prove no small children were harmed while sewing ruffles and flowers.

Post Script...sewing ruffles and appliqueing flowers and butterflies made me ridiculously happy yesterday. I'm tossing the idea around in my head of offering these for other children at ye old online store, don't go there now's just an idea. Always thinking. Hmmmm.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Should I be alarmed?

I was cleaning Liv's room yesterday and found a beheaded little man in her play kitchen sink.

You don't think she's been reading Gloria Steinem late at night or anything do you?

I suspect the dog may have helped with the more gruesome aspects of the physical beheading. But as for how the bodily remains got into the sink, well that remains a mystery.

One fact that cannot be shrugged off God that little beheaded man in the sink looks remarkably like her father.

Maybe ol' shifty eye on the left had a part in this debauchery.

That will teach the old guy to go away on a business trip in Florida while the henchwomen have to stay and play in the snow.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wherein I learned about partial algorithms

Ava is currently in a challenge 1st grade math class. I'm not exactly sure if "challenge" is the new more politically correct term for gifted and talented or perhaps there are some more stringent parameters around the term gifted and talented; and all these kids sectioned off into this class might just be causing too much skefuffle in their regular classrooms. More about Ava's skefuffle in a few minutes. Regardless, it's called 2nd grade math or challenge math. Just the thought of that makes me rather squirmy since when she recently started spouting off about partial algorithms, I had to wikipedia the word algorithm. Sad, but true.

You see, I have a confession. I, shall we say, never quite hit my stride in the math department during my illustrious academic career. I managed to obtain a bachelor of arts from a well respected albeit state supported institution of higher learning while never once setting foot in a calculus class. I copped out with a statistics class for psych majors, of which I was not, and managed to get that to count towards my meager quantitative and formal reasoning requirement. While attending college, quantitative and formal reasoning was more about; if class lets out at 5 pm then proceed quickly to pizza and beer establishment of choice before 5:15pm. I was quickly able to discern that if .10 shots were being tossed out at Peter's Pub I would be able to afford ten $.10 shots for a dollar...and that my friends is all the math I need.

This week Ava explained the finer points of addition partial algorithms to me. Which, honestly sounded like a bunch of hogwash. Instead of just plain old adding each column of a multi-digited number and then carrying the one where necessary, the teacher has these kids rounding each number up to the nearest ten. Then they add those rounded numbers and write them down. Then they subtract the number from the rounded number and write that down. Whalaa! You have your answer. Ok, you do get the correct number but what the hell? Why not just add the stupid numbers up and save yourself the drama of the extra steps? If this is showing my admitted math incompetence, I apologize. At this rate with all that extra work for each and every addition problem the kid is going to be burnt by 3rd grade. And, let's be honest this is a little distressing because at this rate her math work load will have me completely perplexed and befuddled by third grade and the muffin man, who did just fine in the math department in school thank you very much will have to take over helping with math homework. Of course, at that time I will be at the other end of the table drawing circles with Liv. I'm still good at laundry by the way.

Back to Ava and her skefuffling at school. (I made up that word.) I wouldn't exactly call it misbehaving or incredibly heinous choices she is making at school...but um...let's just say I've gotten a few emails from the teacher. Mostly they are about Ava's socializing and fluttering about the room while she is supposed to be working, or immediately after they have finished an activity. This is not going to land her in Sing Sing any time soon, but I'm sure there have been days when the teacher wanted to tar and feather the little kid for her boisterous and precocious attitude. The wishing for a good old fashioned tar and feather thing? It is something I am not completely unfamiliar with. It has at times been a tiny bit difficult to wrangle her into submission, I mean, foster her emotional needs while making sure no one loses an eye.

Perhaps she's a tiny bit bored when things get a little slow, it is a class of 24 kids with one teacher after all. Perhaps she's adapting to the confines of traditional learning. Perhaps she's merely 7 years old and emotionally, is after all 7 years old. This is what 7 year olds do, it is their job to test authority and establishment.

In the mean time I am bracing myself for an eventual lesson in calculus. The very one I never got in high school or university. Oh that will be sweet if it ends up coming from my 10 year old.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sweet Shoppe

My town has had an old fashioned candy shoppe for 5 months now and I didn't know it. How could this happen? This is probably sign number 16 showing me I need to expand my two mile radius off the cul-de-sac and get out there in the world a bit more. Preschool pick up does not a life make. I'm losing my mojo, there was a time when I could sniff out a lemon head at under 5 miles. This mommy gig dulls your senses and makes you weak.

Thank goodness for Ava and her extreme social calendar filled with activities galore. Her most recent Brownie outing, was none other than the Sweet Shoppe here in town. Well, you know who was crashing that party right? Oh yeah, the Liv'ster and I showed up with dollars in our pockets and proclaimed we would simply peruse the shop while Ava and her Brownie Buddies learned their lesson about the power of pennies.

Here's Liv, two fisting the candy coated blueberry gummy heart and the smartie's large lollipop. Notice the sugar induced trance starting here in this photo. She's off in another world. I must have taken 16 photos of her as we sat down with our two rather large bags of candy. She absolutely couldn't bring herself to smile, she was taking the experience that seriously.

It was ok, I was smiling big enough for the both of us, that place is so grand.

Here is Livi barfing blue onto her lollipop after I let her eat 37 pieces of penny candy in less than 6 minutes.

But seriously, she still wasn't smiling. It's all in a days work. The kid didn't crack a smile and relax until her blood sugar levels were just shy of causing diabetic coma.

A little while later, the Brownie troop released 10 little 1st graders each with $4.00 to spend in the shoppe. Mayhem insued and Ava rose out of the chaos wearing big red wax candy lips among other purchases.

Ironically enough I've seen a few Hollywood stars appear on the red carpet with similar collogen implants. I'm sure Ava paid a bit less for the big lips. (I couldn't help myself from asking her if she'd like to borrow my Styla lip pumping sting lip gloss when I saw this. Sailed right over her head, the kid's still doing time in JV with Bonne Bell's Watermelon chapstick.) Ava's dear friend C opted for tropical fruit Razzles instead, smart girl.

Here they are all hopped up on sugar with the shakes. These are the faces of our town's dentist's next Mercedes Benz.

Are you looking for a winter time blues buster? Gather your pocket full of change and head on out to the nearest candy store. It will be good for your soul, bad for your teeth but good for your soul.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Sledding Down The Mini Mountain

Since we don't usually get a ton of snow around here on a regular basis my girlfriend and I decided to take the kids to a small hill located a few miles away. When I say small hill I do mean small hill. We live at the tip of the beginning of the thousands of miles of flat lands where folks use the land to grow feed corn and soy beans. Anything resembling a bit of a hill is quite frankly an anomaly for my kids.

So, imagine Ava's complete glee when she saw that I had packed her sled and had driven her to a mini mountain with free reign to slide down as many times as she'd like...with the caveat that we would go in when her woosie of a mother got too cold to take it any more. Which, is usually in the range of about 45 minutes. Here they are, Ava and her friend E. The calendar says they are three weeks apart in age...but we suspect they may have been separated at birth. Kidding. Snow bunnies, I tell you. They hopped on their snow gliders and handled the mini mountain like pros, even when an oversized inflatable raft with no less than 5 teenagers came flying at them while trekking back up to the top again.

Of course little Liv wanted in on the action. I panic'd and had visions of those same teenages slamming into her little 30 pound body. This is the face I got as I explained the finer points of a possible trip to the emergency room visit resulting from 170 pound teenagers hitting 30 pound three year olds at 20 miles an hour. She didn't seem to appreciate my mother bear attutude and promptly told me to kiss off.

I relented and in the interest of compromise and hopped on the sled sitting behind her so she could put her pedal to the metal and feel the need for speed.

Here's a tip if you try this at home. Don't wear boot leg jeans while quickly sliding down a hill...your ankles will get very wet and very chilly very quickly. Must check to see if pink snow pants are made in my size. Hey, if the stay puff marshmellow look can work for cute little Liv, I'm sure it could work for me as well.

This is what we looked like at that all too important 45 minute mark. Me, grinning through the 15 degree wind and Liv telling me "I go home now. I coooold." We toughed it out for another few minutes so Ava and E could take 2 more runs down the mini mountain. Then of course I really felt awful when Liv spiked a 104 degree fever later that night. Ummm, perhaps she was being quite serious about the "I go home, I cooold," comment. Don't forget to vote for me...mother of the year. It's now Monday and Livi and I have been inside these four walls slurping Motrin and Delsym ever since.

Ava, with the immune system of an elephant could have stayed out all night and begged to go back for more. Ahh yes, I told her I'm happy to bring you back the next time it snows 12 inches, my little winter white stuff bunny...which will hopefully be around 2012.