Sunday, November 30, 2008
The Homestretch
Inside the parenting circle, its well known that a child's age of three is worse than a child of age two.

At two, a child's attention can be quickly redirected and their meltdowns are relatively short. At three, their vocabularies are better, their motor skills are more defined, their arsenal of tantrums, meltdowns and crying triggers are more sophisticated.

In January, Harry will turn four. I try not to wish time away when it comes to the kids but his fourth birthday can't come quickly enough. Three has been rough. Maybe not on him but I have the gray hairs to prove how three's treated me.

The other night I asked Harry the how old he will be when his birthday rolls around in January. "Three," he said.

"No, you're three now. Next year you'll be four."

"No, I won't! I like being three. I'm staying three!"

"Kid, you're turning four whether you like it or not. Three is killing me."

For a new gift idea every day, don't forget to check out the holiday gift guide over here!

Friday, November 28, 2008
Holiday Giving
From the sublime to the ridiculous, click the link at right for a new gift idea everyday.

Thanksgiving Recap
We started the day watching a hawk devour a bird in our backyard.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade starts at 9am. If a family of four boards a subway at 8:30 am traveling 20 mph, how many other parade watchers will have arrived before them? Answer: 2 bajillion.

Gimme an "F"!

The only thing we could see from where we were: the balloons.

I suspect that watching the parade is much more fun when you don't need to go home and cook afterwards. But dinner was delicious. Here's our bird:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
If you watch the news or read the papers at all, you might have heard that our economy is tanking. The world's economy is not much better. I lost my job in May, my 401k is worth much less than it was a year ago (I'm almost used to the nausea). I've noticed more homeless on the streets, budgets are being decimated in schools and for government services and prices are increasing for everything from highway tolls to bread. Sometimes I see elderly people or families in the grocery store with not much in their carts and I want to ask them "is that enough for you? Do you need more?" Our church has had more people stopping by to ask for something to eat, even if its just a cup of coffee to warm themselves up with.

There is so much to worry about and it has all made me aware, painfully aware, sometimes guiltily aware, of how fortunate I am. Fortunate to have a loving, nutty collection of human beings to call family. We've been blessed with two beautiful, healthy children. I have a large circle of friends and a small circle of readers who come here on occasion, some daily, to read this website. Thank you.

I don't have everything I want but I have everything I need and it is more than enough.

Have a wonderful thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Thanksgiving Bread
Our children spent the weekend pointing out to us all the food they will NOT be eating on Thanksgiving. They will not lower themselves to eat sweet potatoes or green bean casserole. They will not eat stuffing in a box. Or with a fox. With a mouse. Or in a house. No, they won't.

Harry claims turkey makes him "sick" will instead have Cheerios. And so our intimate Thanksgiving gathering is looking more and more like our dinners the other 364 days of the year: painful.

John and I enjoy the traditional fare and so I looked long and hard at our menu (which barely changes from year to year). I've decided that rather than make a huge meal I will make half recipes of all the sides and devote more energy to kick-ass appetizers of cheese and sausages, home made bread and nice bottles of wine.

Here is the recipe I use for bread around the holidays. It is by far the best bread recipe, like, ever. The proportions are for baking the loaf in a bread machine, but I make it using the dough setting of my machine and then bake it in the oven either as a loaf or individual dinner rolls.

Herb Bread
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup milk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon each basil, thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley (or any combination of herbs you like)
1-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

In a small skillet, saute the onion in the butter until the onion is translucent. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the rest of the ingredients into the bread machine according to manufacturers directions, then add the onion.

Set your machine to the dough setting. When the machine is done doing its thing, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and shape to your hearts desire on a baking sheet. Bake bread in oven 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. (Another way to tell if it's finished baking is to tap the loaf with your finger. It should sound hollow when its done.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008
Damned If You Do...You Know the Rest.
Yesterday in the grocery store a woman came up to me and asked me for advice about buying a turkey. After explaining that her turkey would be fine if she bought it on a Friday without freezing it, she asked me what brand of turkey I bought.

"Oh, I just bought a boneless breast since it'll just be us and our two kids." I replied.

It was then I saw Sophie looking at me. "We aren't having a turkey?" she asked.

"We are. I only bought a breast, though. Easy peasy."


"There's no wishbone. I'm sorry."

"Great. No wishing bone. That's some thanksgiving we're going to have."

Thursday, November 20, 2008
Two Years
I have got to get all our pictures off our computer. THOUSANDS of them. I'm sitting here reformatting an external hard drive from Mac to PC, drinking wine and watching Chelsea Lately.

While I wait, I decided to read the first (lame) post I ever wrote for this blog. It was over two years ago, which is hard to believe. Have I really had this creative outlet for two years already?

I read some other posts about the kids, back when Harry was still wearing diapers and drinking from a bottle, Sophie had just discovered her first loose tooth, subsequently lost her first tooth and I decided the best way to celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary was to have a stomach virus. Good times!

In between there were triumphs and tribulations and frustrations and odd moments I'd experienced living in New York.

Because posting has been light lately, I decided to dig back through my pictures from 2006 and choose a random picture to post here. Enjoy.

Relocated barn, Kansas, 2006

(Ha! I guess I had a little too much wine when I posted this because the photo caption originally read "Relocated Bar".)

Monday, November 17, 2008
Salvation? Yes. M&M's? No.
We took the kids to church yesterday and in our hurry to leave the house I neglected to pack anything for them to nosh on during the service.

At the midway point, Harry asked for a snack.

"Sorry, I didn't pack any. We'll have lunch right after this, OK?"
"But I want a snaaack," he whined.
"I don't have one. I'm sorry."
"Well, what about Jesus? Does He have a snack for me?"

I pressed my lips together to keep from laughing out loud.

Then Harry whispered in my ear, "I think He might have some M&M's for me."

Saturday, November 15, 2008
The Obvious
Me: Harry, do you know where you live?
Harry: Yes.
Me: That's great! Where do you live?
Harry: In my house.
Me: But where's your house?
Harry (pointing all around the room): Uh, here!?


Sophie was asked to figure out a pretty obscure math question for homework recently. The last portion of the worksheet asked the students to explain how they arrived at their answer. Sophie's answer? "I figured it out using my brain."


Me: Good morning, Harry! How did you sleep last night?
Harry: In my bed.


Me: Harry, do you know how to draw a picture of Thomas the Tank Engine?
Harry: Uh huh!
Me: How do you do it?
Harry: With a crayon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Ho, Ho, Whoa...What Do You Mean You're Already Out of Stock?
I've been bitten by the Christmas bug. Usually the holiday cheer really has to sneak up on me in between list making and decorating and wrapping and yelling at my husband because he is not pulling is Yuletide weight.

For some reason, this year is different. I have only quietly grumbled about the holiday decorations being on display in the stores so soon and I didn't even bat an eye when I saw a family decorating their Christmas tree on Sunday. We won't be seeing many of our relatives this season. Not seeing our moms on Christmas makes me sad. Then I remember that we will see them at the end of January in Orlando, when we are past the holiday chaos and the fervor of the kids birthdays. I think we will enjoy our visit more if I'm not anxious about lugging extra suitcases just to bring toys home in and we aren't trying to entertain for the holidays in the shoebox we call home.

It'll be just the four of us this Thanksgiving. Since fifty percent of this household refuses to eat most of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, I won't make a production out of it. I have a boneless turkey breast in the freezer, which takes maybe three hours to cook. That will leave us plenty of time to take the kids to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in the morning.

The kids have been adding toys to their wishlists, usually as a procrastination tactic to going to bed. "And you know what else I want?" they ask. And then I say "Wait, let me guess! World peace? Achievable energy reduction in the next ten years?" And they say "No!"as if to say "woman, are you crazy? You can't fit world peace under the tree!" Then they tell me what they're wishing for and I jot it down in my Palm Pilot. Sorry world peace, maybe next year.

Harry is slowing getting into the action figure stage of his boyhood and now playtime involves building elaborate track systems which are defended by cybertronic/robomatic/hydromotive creatures who engage in fierce battles. Then Lightning McQueen comes to fix the roads and the earth lives another day.

Last week Harry's couldn't stop talking about Bakugans. It took us a week to figure out Harry wasn't saying "battle guns" and that's only because Google, in all its googly goodness has that neat feature which asks if you meant something else when you phonetically enter a search term dictated by a three year old.

Anyway, Bakugans are supposed to be one of the "hot" toys of the season, along with the new Tickle Me Elmo doll. They're little spheres that pop open to become battle warriors. Last Friday it seemed was the day to buy these little spheres. I procrastinated and today, all the places I've checked online are "out of stock" or will let me click there to be "alerted via email when this item becomes available". I ask you, retailers, how can Harry avenge evil on the Island of Sodor if he doesn't have a ball that pops open to become a battle brawler if they're out of stock?

I sent John to hell the Times Square Toys R Us to see if there were any on the shelves. The associate laughed and said "come back Friday or over the weekend. We might have some more in stock then."

It's going to be a long holiday season.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008
For My Kids
Sophie and Harry, you were both still sleeping when I went left to cast my vote this morning. While I walked over to our polling site, I was thinking about the day and how exciting it is to be a part of history. There's been a lot of talk about HOPE and CHANGE in this election and for the first time in my adult life I feel CHANGE coming. I started thinking about how glad I am that you are here witnessing these events, instead of shaking my head at the news wondering what kind of world have I brought you into.

I also thought about the things you will remember about this election. Harry, you may not remember much but Sophie, I know you will. And while you don't understand a lot of what the candidates talk about, that hasn't stopped you from supporting a candidate for president. I HOPE that you remember this time, when age, sex and race didn't matter all that much when we nominated individuals to hold the highest office in the land. I HOPE you remember the passion people had for this race. I HOPE you remember that your teacher volunteered to knock on doors in Pennsylvania and that in this country, she is free to do so and talk about it with her students. I HOPE you remember the mother of your classmate who is ineligible to vote but still encouraged those who can to do so. I HOPE that when you are old enough to vote that your generation will care as much as this one does about the election. I HOPE you will know that you do have a voice and that you have every right to express it in the voting booth and I HOPE you know that your voice, along with others, can bring about real CHANGE. I HOPE you remember this day and what it means to so many Americans. I HOPE you remember the excitement and that long lines meant voters turned out in record numbers. And I HOPE when you look back you remember that this freedom and the privilege to vote was hard-won. I HOPE that, in eleven years when you cast your first vote, that you do so not as a perpetually disappointed and frustrated citizen but as a proud American. Am I proud today? You betcha.
Love, Mom

Monday, November 3, 2008
One day left, people! Just one!
In case you hadn't heard, tomorrow we are voting in an historic election. Regardless of who you are voting for, it is your constitutional right to cast a ballot. So don't rock the vote. Rock YOUR vote.

Forgive this hodgepodge of voting related stuff, it has been a whirlwind of activity at our house between winterizing our cottage camper, carving pumpkins, trick or treating, school costume parties and my arch nemesis: laundry.

Things are calming down and we are are all atwitter about the election. The kids have decided that Obama's their guy and each asked to wear an Obama button today, leaving me with no way to show who I'm supporting unless you saw my Barack O'Latern. (And you'll have to wait to see that because I'm still figuring out how to get pictures off our new camera.) A certain someone in our house has decided to not tell anyone who he is voting for and keeps threatening to bring a pencil to the polling site tomorrow so he can write in a candidate. That's the trouble with these constitutional rights. Even your wife can't tell you you're wrong when you are exercising your rights.

A quick search for voting tips comes up with some pretty standard information: make sure you are registered, go early, bring ID (and something to read if the lines are long) and for heaven's sake go to the correct polling site. Watch this Steal Back Your Vote video to find out what to if you are registered but not on the list of registered voters. And here's an explanation for provisional ballots, which sounds so secure but could result in your vote not counting. Some places have anti-electioneering laws that prohibit wearing political buttons, t-shirts, etc. at your polling site. Sound like your freedom of speech is being suppressed? I kinda think so, too, but your vote is worth more than your button so leave the propaganda at home.

Once you actually vote, you'll hear all sorts of talk about electoral votes and the Electoral College. If you're like me, you need a refresher every four years. Here you go. Some people will host parties to watch history unfold. Candidate-themed cocktails anyone?

Watch this clip. At the very end you'll be shouting "Amen, sister!"

And finally, watch this clip. At the end you'll be shouting "Sing it, sister!" Go, Chris!