Monday, April 28, 2008

Lots of Catching Up

Woah baby am I tired today! We returned last night from a weekend trip, and sometime in the middle of the night I woke up to Samuel's little toes in my hair (he was lying the wrong way in our bed - so many things went wrong I can't decide which one to start with so I'll try later) so I knew defeat (big groan - I couldn't resist) and took myself to the couch for the rest of the night. Where I slept great, by the way. But the reason I'm so tired started way back to last weekend . . . . .

Stuart left for a week long business trip last Sunday (that would be April 20). He's started to travel for his work, both to Northern California and to Texas. To those of you that I know that are married to guys who regularly travel for their job, to Alison and Mary-LUE and Michelle and anyone else I've missed, I'm giving you a loud shout out today. It's harder than it looks. And just when you've got the hang of it, he comes home. (For us, that is the night we both sleep about fifteen hours because neither of us sleeps well without the other one around.)

On Wednesday, Sally got an award at school. I took pictures, but I don't feel right posting them because several other kids from her school are in the pictures and I don't know all their parents, and therefore can't ask them for permission to post pictures of their kids on my blog. Anyway, she got on the honor roll for all A's and B's, and this is the first time she's gotten this honor. We coudn't be prouder.
Friday the kids and I drove up to meet Stuart in Northern California for a family wedding. (Stuart's cousin (I can hear you asking) and this is the first of three cousin weddings we have this summer. I also have a cousin getting married this summer, so that makes four.) The drive was ok - long, but the kids are really great travelers, and we only had to stop twice (in six and a half hours, I think that's pretty great). The wedding was Saturday, and this is us at the wedding:
Samuel was the ring bearer, and he did a great job. I was a little worried that he wouldn't want to perform, but he walked down the isle like a pro:
Here's Samuel, posing with the bridal party:
Here's the kids with their cousin - she's an adorable chunk of a baby and was very interested in a piece of bread that I gave to her:
Here's the kids with their other cousin and Stuart's grandma, a wonderful amazing lady:
After the wedding (congratulations to the new couple, M & C!), we went to visit Stu's dad and stepmom at their ranch. I was too tired to bring in the camera, but I got a few pictures of the kids feeding the horses with Grandma El:
We drove home - another long drive, but pretty good considering we only stopped twice - and when we got home, after 6:00 pm, it was still over ninety degrees outside and the pool was seventy-seven degrees. So we unloaded the car, made huge piles of laundry all over the family room, and then went for a swim. It was a great way to end the weekend . . . .

except that Samuel couldn't sleep, and he got up and did a drawing or some writing or something and managed to get navy blue ink over both of his index fingers, and then he bit on his fingernails and got his lips and teeth all inky blue, and then started pacing up and down the hallway because he couldn't sleep. I called him in to my room, where I was reading in bed, and asked him why his mouth was blue. "I'm a little cold, that's probably why." Um, no. We went to the bathroom and washed his hands and lips and brushed his teeth (again) and then he wanted to sleep with us and I was too tired to make him go to his own bed. A decision I regretted later when I woke up with his toes in my hair. . . .

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One Book I Won't Be Buying

I saw this news story on the hotmail home page that got my attention: "Kids' Book on Plastic Surgery". I read the article and my stomach turned over a few times. It's a picture book. For little kids. Guess what it's called? Just guess.

You'll never guess.

It's called "My Beautiful Mommy" and it's written by a plastic surgeon to help alleviate children's fears when their mommy comes in for a "mommy makeover" - a tummy tuck and breast enlargement combo. (A combo!)

I have so many thoughts about this that it is hard for me to put them all into words, but I'm going to try. Our society has such an obsession about looking a certain way. Why do so many people want to look like twenty year olds who don't have kids? Twenty year olds who are hungry all the time and cold, too, because they aren't wearing enough clothes and have no protective fat layer. Except on their breasts. But it's fake fat, so it doesn't keep you warm.

I don't know about you, but being twenty wasn't half as much fun as being thirty. And while being single was sorta fun (I guess - I wasn't "single" that long), it's nothing compared to how great it is to be a wife and mother. I love my husband, and having kids together is the best thing we have ever done. It's a blast to be parents. Our kids are our greatest joy. Why would I want to erase the effects of the best thing I've ever done?

The other thing is that how do people with little kids, kids who read picture books, how do these people afford plastic surgery? It's expensive. Just a thought, but I'd love to see some research on this: How many of these "mommy makeovers" are on working moms who's kids are in daycare? How many of these "mommy makeovers" are paid on a credit card? And a year after, or five years after, how many of those mommies still have flat tummies?

Because in thirty or fourty years, guess what? We will all be senior citizens. And you can get your fat sucked out and your face lifted and implants put in your but so it doesn't sag and hair put back in if yours falls out and all this work won't ever make you happy if you can't be happy just the way you are right now. And all this work on your body won't matter when your body ages to the point that you can't do anything about it anymore. It's who you are that is important, not what you look like. Or what age you look like.

And what message does this send to our kids? Our little girls who are starting to mature and are unhappy with their changing bodies? Are we still going to try and teach them to love themselves just the way God created them? Are they going to get that message with a book like this on their shelf?

Things like this bother me most when I consider the little girl in Samuel's preschool class who was diagnosed with leukemia last month. Her world, and her parent's world, just turned into a surreal nightmare of hospitals and doctors and long words that they don't understand and blood transfusions and fear of infection and chemotherapy and bad days and worse days and counting the days . . . . . I hug my kids and let them snuggle into my flabby tummy and almost weep with gratitude.

I think instead of a flatter tummy and bigger boobs, these women need new eyes. They need eyes that can see how blessed they are. They need eyes to see how much better their lives are because they have grown older, have grown babies inside of them, have laughed so much that their faces are lined with wrinkles. They need eyes to see themselves as beautiful, just as they are today.

Rant over. Thanks for reading. Comments always welcome.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Conversations with the Husband

(this one took place several months ago, but I just remembered it and think it is funny)

While restocking the bookshelf after the carpet was installed -

Me: "We have a copy of Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Did you know that? Foxe's Book of Martyrs!"

Him: "Yeah." (as in, Duh.)

Me: "Have you read it?"

Him: "Yeah." (as in, Duh, I own it, of course I read it.)

Me: (long pause as I take this information in) "I love that about you!"

Knit Bit: Clapotis Fini!

This first picture is on the big couch. It's a very long shawl/wrap/thingie.
This next one is with the shirt that I am planning on wearing sometime this weekend.
Which means I may have better pictures to show you next week :)

For the knitters:
Pattern is Clapotis from knitty.com
Yarn is Berroco's Comfort in Sachet Mix (I used 3 full skeins, and a few yards from a fourth skein)
Needles are US 8

Monday, April 21, 2008

Library Confessions

I have a confession to make: I am a library user. Much like a drug user, I cannot help myself. I reserve books that I want, then I get more when I haven't finished the last batch. I check out books, renew them, return them, then RE-CHECK them out because I never got a chance to read them the first time because I check out too many books. This seems like a bad and dangerous road that I am going down, and yet . . . . it's all permissible by the laws of my library. I've checked. I pay for the hold fee (fifty cents - a real bargain) and I always renew online so that I don't incur any overdue fees. I bring the stuff back (eventually). But seriously. I'm making imaginary book deadlines so that I can finish it all in time, and really, why do I need to do that?

The flip side is much prettier: I've stopped compulsively buying books. I've started to give books away, too. The bookshelves are not filled to bursting. Somehow, this completely justifies my library craziness. (My mind can be a dangerous place.)

In other news, I finished Clapotis last night (while watching Becoming Jane, which ended sadly and was FANTASTIC and I highly recommend it), and it is pretty. I have some ends to weave in, and then I'll try for some pictures. I've had a great morning - got the kids off to school and went to home depot to (finally) buy the wood for the new planter box for the backyard. I even had the foresight to have them do all the cutting at the store, and five foot boards fit in the car SOOOO much better than ten footers. Plus, now I don't have to use the power saw. I only have to use the drill and the power screwdriver, which I think we can all agree are much less dangerous than the power saw.

Now I'm off to finish up some little jobs before the kids get home from school. Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Some Updates

Clapotis is almost finished. I'm very ready to be done knitting it. Pictures to come this week.

We did go swimming on Friday, although I don't think what I did can technically count as swimming. Sally and Samuel went swimming. I walked in the shallow end and gasped repeatedly. It was very cold.

The TV came back on Thursday, and while the problem is fixed, there is now a new problem. Fortunately, this one is managable until it gets fixed, so we have a functioning TV. The kids have been celebrating the return of the Wii games.

I have been celebrating the return of the most effective reward and punishment system in the house: the Wii games. (The kids love and hate this, by the way. Works great. Got my kitchen floors cleaned today with the Wii Rewards System. I should write a book.)

Sally's soccer team won their game on Saturday, and it was all quite exciting.

Today, while driving home from the airport, I had an epiphany. I did not consult any map before driving to the airport, and I even know which lane I need to be in and at what time. I know how to get home. I know all these freeways: the 5, the 55, the 91, the 57, the 405, the 605, the 10, the 60, the 15. I know how to get to the three major airports (SNA, ONT, LAX) without looking at a map. (I knew the abbreviations to those airports without looking them up, too.) I know how to get to Disneyland, Angels Stadium, and the Honda Center - by freeway and by surface streets. That's when it hit me: I should know all these things because I have been living in Southern California for twenty years.

Twenty years. Where has the time gone?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Current temperatures

It's 88 degrees right now.

The pool is 75 degrees.

I may go for a swim.

The Ducks

So last week it was a hot day and the kids wanted to swim and, because I couldn't think of a reason to say no, I said ok. They happily splashed around for about fifteen minutes, and then I made them get out because Samuel's lips were starting to turn blue. We went inside the house, and about twenty minutes later I heard a splash in the pool. It sounded like someone jumped in the deep end. I went to check and found the gate closed but the water was all choppy. I went into the backyard and saw them -
five ducks in my pool.

I called the kids, who were thrilled. Sally and I got our cameras (always ready for a bloggable moment) and that's when I realized that two of the ducks were fighting. "Oh no, they are fighting over something," I said.

"No," Sally said, "I think those ducks are mating."
And she was right. There was one female duck and four male ducks, and three of them mated with her. In our pool. In front of us. (Now that I think about it, that other one may have done the deed before I got out there.) Nature can be brutal, but she's a great teacher.

After a few moments, I told the kids to head to the door because I was going to chase the ducks away. They spooked pretty easily, and all five took off quickly and splashed the kids on their way out. They haven't been back. (Then I went and turned on the super chlorinator and threw in some muratic acid for good measure. Crazy ducks.)


About four or five days after this, I was in the front washing my car and my neighbor asks me if we'd had any ducks in our pool. He told me to be sure to chase them out right away, because he had a family of ducks that came back every year in the spring to live in his pool and he could not get rid of them. I told him I let the kids watch them for a few minutes then I chased them off. He was glad to hear it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Homebody: Home Again

I've returned from a weekend at my parent's house in Arizona. The kids and I went out on Saturday after Sally's soccer game, and came home Monday afternoon. It was really fun, as the kids are a very fun age - I can play cards with my parents and they can entertain themselves fairly well. Also, I just realized this morning that nobody threw up - a minimum standard for a successful road trip with kids.

I was fortunate to go on a weekend where my Uncle Paul, who lives in Colorado, was also there for the weekend. My Aunt Kathy lives in the same town, so we had a great time playing cards and talking and laughing. (For those of you who don't know, Paul and Kathy are my dad's brother and sister. I had to explain to Sally several times that they are not married to each other. She finally got it.)

We took the kids to the dollar store to buy some stuff, then to the park:



We went to lunch with some of my parent's friends. We had birthday cake to celebrate my dad's birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad!) and my uncle's birthday (Happy Birthday, Uncle Paul!). We went fishing:
and caught not one thing, but it was fun anyway.


Now I'm home doing the laundry (I don't care how long I'm gone - I always have a laundry day when I return. It's just like going to Costco and no matter what, you end up spending $100. It's inevitable.) and Samuel and I washed the car because it had about a million dead bugs smeared over the front hood & windshield. I've been thinking that I don't think I could live in Arizona. It's so dry there. I think I'd pick a place like Seattle, with all that rain and coldness, over Arizona any day. The desert is beautiful, and my parents have a great view off of their back porch, and there are quail and bunnies every morning to watch, but I just can't handle the dry heat. Also, I've been thinking that I love to travel, but I love coming home even more. I'm such a homebody these days. I was drying my car and feeling such a calming peace about being home when it made me think of heaven. If coming home to this house and my stuff that makes me feel comfortable and safe feels this good, can you imagine how great and overwhelming it will be when the peace of coming home to heaven sinks in? And - no laundry!

Here's a few more pictures. First, self-portrait at the park:
Next, Samuel and Grandpa:
Samuel is holding one eye closed to aim while he shoots his toy gun. He lost one of the suction cup darts in a tree within fifteen minutes of being at the park. Dad and I turned to each other and exchanged a look, sighed, and he said, "Well, that's a good lesson."

Finally, the kids goofing off at the dock: Mom, Uncle Paul, Aunt Kathy - if you have any good pictures, email them to me (mommychew (at) hotmail (dot) com) and I'll put them up.

TV update: Now the nice guys at the repair shop say it is the TV's power source that doesn't work, and just my luck - this is the same price to fix as the board. So we've ordered up a new power source (no idea what that means, by the way) and are waiting to see if that fixes the problem. The kids keep walking past the empty spot where the TV usually sits and sigh loudly. Samuel's having Wii wthdrawals.

Next post - ducks in our pool. This is a great story. Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Conversations with Samuel

Me: "So what did you learn at school today?"

Samuel: "We learned about habitats!"

Me: "Habitats? Really? That's neat. So what is a habitat?"

Samuel: "Um, exercise."

Me: ????

Samuel: "And vegetables! Eat your vegetables!"

Me: "Oh! Habits!"

Samuel: "Yeah. That's what I said."



Later ~

Samuel: "Q-TIPS! That's another healthy habit!"

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thwart

Today's word of the day, kids, is THWART: (transitive verb) to oppose successfully; to defeat the hopes or aspirations of

Yep. My morning has been thwarted. It started with an alarm going off inside my headphones that were not on my head, and thankfully that only made us rush around, but nobody was late. It continued with a car that did not pass smog. It finished me off with a tv repairman, armed with a brand new board for our tv, which he installed and sadly did not fix the problem. He un-installed it, put the old one back in for it was indeed still good, took a bunch of stuff apart and checked all the fuses, and then told me the problem was that the fans (three of them) were not turning on and he didn't know which board needed to be replaced or how much it will cost and they have to call the manufacturer to find out and will call me back.

This means I've spent my entire morning doing stuff that has no positive results, and I'll likely spend a big chunk of my afternoon calling the TV repair guys and bothering them until they have an answer for me. (Sadly for them, I don't believe them when they say they will call me back, so I call. And I call. And I call again.)

I don't know whether to give up and go outside and pound on the pile of bricks or try and redeem the day with good knitting. Maybe a game of spider solitare and a glass of water will clear my head. . . . .

UPDATE: TV has been picked up to do the repairs in the shop . . . I'm thinking this can't be good . . . . I have made it very clear that I do not approve any repairs until I have the cost in writing . . . . . I hear more tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Knit Bit: Clapotis Progress

I'm somewhere in the middle. It's taking longer than I thought it would.
Here's a closeup of the dropped stitches. Dropping a stitch on purpose is very fun.
I know. It's fun for me, kay? I love the colors, too.

Another Muffin Variation

I've been meaning to make some adjustments to the muffin recipe for a while now, but just haven't had the time or hadn't made it a priority. I've been using the whole wheat flour for several months, and the muffins are so dense with the pumpkin that you can't even tell. The eggs and oil needed to be reduced, as well as the sugar. Adding applesauce or orange puree (which is a genius move since it makes these full of good stuff) adds enough sweetness that reducing the sugar is no problem. Another idea I have is to add raisins to the mix, but my kids don't like raisins so I probably won't do that. I made this version for breakfast this morning and the kids loved it and didn't notice any big change in flavor or texture (except for Sally, who found a piece of carrot that had not been processed enough and was still recognizible as a carrot, which she found very unsettling, so I ate it, and it was good). Enjoy! Super-Duper* Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Recipe by Sheila at musingsofamommy.blogspot.com

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour (or bread flour)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of cardamom
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1 cup egg product (like eggbeaters)
1 cup sugar
2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin
¾ cup orange puree** or applesauce
½ cup vegetable oil
8 oz package cream cheese
Chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans), optional

Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients together except cream cheese and nuts. Fill muffin tins (greased or paper cups) half full. Put 1-2 tsp cream cheese in the middle, pressing down. Sprinkle with 1 tsp chopped nuts. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin part (do not touch the cream cheese!). Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Do not touch the cream cheese until it cools, as it is very very hot. Makes 24 muffins.

* “Super-Duper” is a relative term and is not regulated by any government agency that we know of. In this recipe, “super-duper” refers to the more nutritional ingredients in this modified version – less oil, less sugar, more fruits and vegetables, and whole wheat flour. The author of this recipe would like to add that she has no intention of modifying the cream cheese, and using a low-fat cream cheese would, in her humble opinion, sacrifice taste and texture. Do so at your own risk.

**Orange puree is a mixture of cooked yams and carrots pureed in the food processor until smooth. I steam them until they are very soft, and then puree with some of the water left in the bottom of the steamer pot. Orange puree can be added to tomato sauces and baked goods. I got the idea for using orange puree from The Sneaky Chef, Missy Chase Lapine.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Change of Plans

Stuart was supposed to leave last night for a week long business trip. Unfortunately, his co-worker/co-traveler had to postpone the trip due to some family illness, so he is home this week. He took a personal day today, and we had a great morning - without the kids - going out to breakfast (Polly's, where we pretty much destroyed a huge cinnamon roll) and then going to Target for a little house shopping. I bought a house plant. This is big for me, someone who usually kills house plants. I'm going to try with this one. We even bought a little pot that I will paint later today (love the matchy-matchy with the colors) in some shade of blue. The new plant will live in our bedroom.

I still need to work on the garden. Work was done in the backyard last week, but still no garden started. (I do not count the tomato plant that came back, and the remains of the basil plant, which may die but we still are not sure about that.)
Also, went to the library yesterday because Sally thinks that she needs a hermit crab. I told her she needs to learn something about them first (like what do they eat? what do they need to live? do they live in water or just an empty tank) so we went for research. I found two books for her, and two more for me. I still have books from LAST time I went to the library! Cripes. Never fear - this small fact, that I had books to read - did not stop me from starting one of the new books as soon as we got home.
I'm in the middle of Traveling Mercies, and I haven't started Bel Canto. I read two pages of On The Road and I'm not sure if it's for me. Yesterday I got Atonement and Nineteen Minutes, and started Atonement as soon as I got home. So far, I like it. Tomorrow I may be neglecting housework and staying up late to finish it.
That's all for now.

Friday, April 04, 2008

PS

The TV needs a new board. I was listening to the repairman run diagnostics over the phone in spanglish, and caught the word "fuse" and thought to myself, Yes God! Please let it be a fuse! But no, it's the board.

New board gets here on Tuesday or Wednesday.

I made some suggestions about maybe doing without the tv, but the man and the kids looked at me like I was speaking greek. When I suggested perhaps a smaller tv, our mobile phone conversation suddenly was dropped. Oh well. Who am I kidding? I love that tv as much as the rest of them.

Conversations with Samuel

Samuel: "So on my birthday I'll be five?"
Me: "Yes. Do you know when your birthday is?"
Samuel: "Aaaaahhhhhh . . . "
Me: "June . . . . "
Samuel: "Second-teen?"

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Some Notes

The Clapotis scarf/shawl/wrap is clicking right along. I finished the starting and increasing sections, and just started the middle sections. I'm about to drop the first column of dropped stitches. Exciting, I know.

The big TV is broken. We will find out how badly she's broken tomorrow, as I spend four hours waiting around for the repairman to come over. At least I've got something good to knit.

Modifications have begun on the pumpkin muffin recipe. I'm experimenting with less sugar, less oil, and more "good things" like unsweetened applesauce, pureed carrots, and whole wheat flour. I'll let you know what I come up with.

The husband scored big BIG (not just big, but BIG) points this week by surprising me with a license plate frame. Before I tell you what it says, just know that occasionaly he will be required to drive this car, and he still went ahead and bought this for me. Let that sink in, and I'll tell you what it says. Ready? It says "I love knitting!"

That's about all. It's a pretty quiet day. Hope you are well.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The 80s

The kids are currently in Sally's room singing, at the top of their lungs, Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves.

Their most requested song in the car is The Safety Dance.

Could I be more proud?