Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Our Dinner Conversation the Other Night
Sophie (looking at a bottle of Newman's Own salad dressing): "Is that a picture of the guy who DIED?"

Me (between bites of salad): "Yes."

Harry: "Is he your dad?"

Me: "No, honey, he was an actor."

Harry: "Is your dad dead?"

Me: "No, grandpa isn't dead, thank goodness."

Harry: ?

Me: "My dad is your grandpa."

Harry: "Grandpa is not your dad!"

Me: "Yes, he is."

Harry: "NO HE ISN'T. He likes me! He's just MY grandpa!"

Me: "He doesn't like you. He loves you. And me, and Sophie and your dad, too."

Harry: "He's. Just. Mine. Okay? I'm done with dinner now."

Monday, October 20, 2008
Please, Let Me Explain
Dear Neighbors,
I just wanted to clarify something for you that happened over the weekend. What you saw me doing through the kitchen window from your backyard was not what you thought.

You see, my kids, who originally wanted a rabbit, settled for hamsters. Two of them. In order to obtain those hamsters, space needed to be cleared for them, which meant getting rid of "stuff" and took seven hours. It was only supposed to take an hour or two but once I started getting rid of "stuff" I couldn't stop. Out went the Little People toys because no one plays with them and the monkey in the zoo set was driving me crazy. Every time another toy in the bin so much as came near his lever he cackled his head off. So now it's gone, along with other items like the motorcycle with no handlebars, various stuffed animals and books that are no longer read. Some will be donated to our church, where my kids can lord it over the heads of other children attending services that those toys are THEIRS, proving they still don't get the concept of "donating." Others will be donated via, enriching the lives of others in need.

We unloaded four bags of outgrown clothing, moved shelving units and rearranged bookcases. Did you see the Dolls From Around the World shelf? The gigantic bag of crayons compiled from the far reaches of desk drawers and art sets? Yes, it's all very nice. But I need to let you know that what you saw me doing in the kitchen was not at all what it seemed. You see, now that Harry is potty trained, he is officially no longer a baby. So we got rid of our diaper stacker thing. It was bittersweet tossing that torn and frayed bit of yellow fabric with the 10th hanger into the trash. We'd had it since Sophie was a baby. Just as she was out of diapers and training pants Harry came along, so we haven't ever not used it in seven and a half years. Sadder still, was tossing out the last of the diapers and training pants. The upside is my wallet is ever so slightly heavier not shelling out money every month for pull ups. Instead we can buy things. Like food.

So that tube you saw me smelling the contents of? I was not huffing glue. I was inhaling, very deeply, the scent of the last tube of Desitin I will probably ever own. Every whiff a memory of diapering my babies and nibbling their toes and nuzzling their necks.

To further push myself down the he's-not-a-baby-anymore! hole, I made the mistake of holding up a favorite sweater and comparing it to one in his current size. And then, because I'm a glutton for punishment, I sought out a bath robe my mother had bought Sophie when she was infant. It is now used for her doll babies. When she bothers to remember to bathe them, they are wrapped up in this tiny, tiny robe which Sophie herself once wore.

Anyhoo, as a parent, I'm sure you can understand my behavior now. Stop by to meet Pumpkin and Pikachu when you have some time! (Just don't make the mistake of sticking your hand in their cage when they are grumpy...I have the bite marks to prove this is unwise.)

Your Neighbor,

Saturday, October 18, 2008
Lord, Help Me
In August, I made the mistake of mentioning how cute the bunnies were at the Wayne County Fair. In grade schooler language, this translates to "We're getting a bunny!" Which is about the last thing I really want to be taking care of these days. Between two kids, two cats, one husband, a pack of fiesty squirrels in the back yard and one skunk in our shed, I really don't have the time, or inclination, to raise rabbits.

Except someone that lives in this house said to Sophie "hey, if you can take care of the cats for two months straight we'll consider getting you a rabbit." And his proposition to her of course translates to "We're getting a bunny!"

We don't have the room in our apartment for a rabbit and hutch/cage thing. The kids are optimistic about having enough room for a rabbit hutch when we buy a house but they clearly haven't heard the term "global economic crisis" and don't understand the impact subprime lending will have on our own mortgage application someday.

I was even able to convince them that keeping the rabbit outside (which is actually better for them, or so I've read) isn't a good idea because of the nasty stray cat that terrorizes our neighborhood.

I negotiated with the kids on the bunny front by explaining that a bunny might be too much for us to handle right now and that a pet with a short shelf life an interim pet might be a good way to get our feet wet. And so we are getting hamsters. Which are just fluffy mice with short tails when you get down to brass tacks. The kids are going to spend their Saturday parting with some precious toys that they no longer play with in order to make room for a Habitrail.

I Hope I Have Half This Much Spunk When I'm 82

Check them out!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Not Exactly The Reason
Sophie brought a friend from school up to Pennsylvania with us this weekend. They got to sit at the breakfast bar and eat their meals together while John and I sat with Harry at the regular table. It was easier that way on the girls, since all Harry wanted to do was follow them all weekend and try to get in on their fun, which consisted of walking around with their purses, applying lip gloss and recreating scenes from High School Musical.

Sunday at dinner, I mentioned to John that if I didn't already know Pennsylvania was an election battleground state I do now judging from the houses that plastered McCain/Palin lawn signs to compete with their next door neighbors who'd plastered their lawns with Obama/Biden signs. I assumed the girls weren't paying attention but as we know kids hear everything.

I heard our guest ask, "Who are you voting for this year, Sophie?"

To which Sophie replied, "Obama."

"I'm voting for him, too!"

Then Sophie added "Yeah, and my mother's voting for Obama. Because he's black."

So much for talking up the election to her and explaining how she will always remember it because of its historic significance.

Monday, October 13, 2008
Oh Well
So much for a voting theme this month. I had a strong start for about three days. Maybe four. But I've been so busy losing my 401k and watching the market crash and reading this blog I haven't had time to post. Then we spent the Columbus day weekend off in the woods with the kids, avoiding the news and the economy, eking out two more campfires, picking apples and pumpkins and seeing just how many chicken fingers my kids can eat at restaurants. (You don't want to know the answer to that question, my friend. See? I got a political reference in there!)

We had a blast but little photographic evidence of this fun-filled bank-holiday weekend because our camera up and died. Shame, too, because the great state of Pennsylvania is having one hell of a fall. But what follows in this post is what I was able to salvage out of the camera create in photoshop.

The kids got to do some dressing up and got a headstart on their halloween candy binge at a trunk or treating event followed by campfires and s'mores to see if we could get the kids to eat any more sugar. They are champs, those kids of mine.

Here's a picture of one of the apple trees from my favorite orchard where we picked apples and pumpkins on Sunday.

And here's a picture of this year's pumpkin:

About 3 or 4 years ago, back in the heady days of the real estate bubble, the owners sold their land to a developer. The worst part wasn't that they sold to a developer (okay, yes it is) but their farm store was closed and our source of apple cider donuts was gone. Oh, sure, you can get cider donuts at just about any orchard but not THESE cider donuts. Here's how good they are: if were still a young lass without husband and children and you told me that these cider donuts were better than sex I'D BELIEVE YOU AND NOT TRY TO PROVE YOU WRONG.

A few weeks ago we happened to stop at a farm stand in New Jersey and I struck up a conversation with the owner. We got on the subject of apples and I mentioned my favorite orchard. The owner told me that they'd reopened. I don't know exactly what happened but the developer couldn't sell the houses or couldn't get more financing or....whatever, they're making cider donuts and running the farm again. Hooray for housing bubbles bursting!

So I call the orchard last Thursday and ask if it's true that they've reopened and keep the guy on the phone for five minutes longer than he probably wanted. I'm talking this guys ear off about how our family just loves their cider donuts and how we have such fond memories of apple picking there and how lovely their land is....yadda yadda yadda. I'm sure he hung up and asked to have the weekend off if a nutcase like me was on her way.

We showed up on Sunday and after harvesting apples and pumpkins, I found my way into the store and made a beeline for the lady who makes the donuts. And my opening line to her is "YOU are a sight for sore eyes!" What am I, 70? Who talks like that anymore? She was all business and had no time for my silliness. I somehow managed to contain my enthusiasm and ask for a dozen. Between Sunday and Monday I consumed four...all as good as I remembered.
The silver lining in all this is that I now have an excuse to buy a new camera. The downside is now I have to buy a new camera.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Voting! Coming to a Polling Place Near You in Four Weeks!
Sophie's class talked about voting today and tonight's social studies homework about voter registration, polling places, ballots and debates.

It inspired her to ask to stay up to watch tonight's debate and lasted 30 minutes before she started to nod off. As she was getting into bed she asked "Can you turn up the TV so I can hear Obama in my room?"

Monday, October 6, 2008
Do You Vote Alone?
I skipped blogging about voting over the weekend to take the kids to each and every fall celebration/festival/carnival/party our neighborhood offered.

We started at the neighborhood hardware store riding ponies, eating cotton candy at 11:30 am and painting pumpkins. Then we made our way over to the blessing of the animals at the church on the corner. Then we dropped Sophie off at a birthday party and I went off and helped our church serve nearly 200 bratwurst dinners at the annual Oktoberfest. Did you know Oktoberfest loosely translates to "knees will hurt in the morning"? The old gray Mer just ain't what she used to be.

So back to the subject of voting, which we'll be doing in a mere 28 days. I take my kids to our polling site. Our neighbors, who dutifully work the polls every election day, ply them with cookies under the bizarre orange lighting of the middle school gym. And then, when it's my turn to have my say, you don't know if I've gone in to vote or go the bathroom because all my comments to the kids are exactly the same. "Don't touch anything!" "Just stand here." "No, you can't press the button." "Stop licking the walls." Oh, wait. That was at the zoo. But you get the gist.

We talk politics at home very occasionally and John and I are registered as independent voters. But I bring them with me time and again to drive the point home: you have a voice and when you are 18 you can cast your vote for the candidate of your choice. Because you can. How about you? Do you take your kids or spouse to vote with you?

Friday, October 3, 2008
Local Politics
Earlier this week, New York City's Mayor Bloomberg announced he was seeking to overturn the city's term limits and seek re-election.

I think this is a smart move. Our tax base here in the city is going to take a hard hit thanks to the financial crisis. He's probably the best politician we've got in the city to see us through it. Plus, we only pay him a dollar a year to run this zoo. What say you?

Thursday, October 2, 2008
Watch This, Then Send to 5 Friends

And here's the
link so you can share.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Kick Off
To kick off a month o' blogging about voting, let's talk about registering to vote.

You are registered, aren't you? You're eligible as long as you are 1. alive 2. at least 18 years of age on the day of the general election and 3. a legal citizen of the United States. Those are just the general requirements, more specific requirements regarding residency and parole status can be found on your state's board of elections website and here.

If you're not registered, fear not! There's still time. Registration deadlines vary from state to state. Some will even let you register when you show up to vote on November 4th but for the rest of us, the deadlines are nearing. So get on the stick, people! It's never been easier. You can register here, here and here.

In some states you can register to vote at the DMV when renewing your driver's license. Most of the time they will put that paperwork through for you but sometimes it gets lost in the shuffle and you (or me, in 1998) can show up on Election Day only to find out surprise! you are not eligible to vote at your new polling site.