Monday, August 24, 2009

Our trip to OBX

So we've been feeling bad that March and June haven't done much this summer. No summer camps, only one trip, and that was to Santa Rosa to see family. So we planned a trip to the Outer Banks, NC to spend a few days on the beach before school starts again.

The girls did, in fact, have a great time splashing around on the beach and of course June ate all the seafood she could shove into her little mouth.

June is occasionally a wild child, and this was one of those times. She hurtled herself into the waves, not caring a bit when they knocked her to the ground. She just got up again, dug the sand out of the inside of her bikini, and went into them again. She even found herself a new boyfriend there:

Our son, however, is NOT a good traveler so far. First off, he absolutely cannot fall asleep in his car seat. So he was cranky and screaming most of the drive up and the drive back. Rather than making the driver (DH) stressed out from the constant screaming, I chose to hold B in the backseat for much of the drive.

Secondly, B found the sea air to be extremely appetite enhancing. In other words, he ate every two hours the entire time we were there. I fed him in the car, in restaurants, on the beach, in the hotel, and just about everywhere. This from someone who is not especially keen on revealing her boobs to the general public. And of course, every time I modestly covered myself and him with a blanket, he thought it was a fun game to take the blanket off!!

Finally, B didn't seem at all impressed with the beach itself. He did not smile or laugh at 1) toes in the sand, 2) looking at waves, 3) sitting on the sand while the waves approached, 4) entering the water while the waves splashed his legs and belly. Not that he cried or anything. Just didn't seem particularly amused. He did complain occasionally when the water didn't make it all the way to him, but that might have been coincidence.

We had to come home early so that March and June (and fortunately DH not me) could attend a Demi Lovato concert.

After a long bath, B felt much better:

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm back!

So I'm returning to blogging after a long absence to have my baby and spend some sleepless nights with him. But I know my friends want an update and of course some pictures.

So here's the update. B is now 3 months old. He still spends a lot of his day either sleeping, or trying to sleep. I confess that because we know he'll be our last baby, we spent way too much time holding him in our arms. But his sleep in our arms is so much deeper and longer than in his crib, and selfishly we just want to savor every minute of this time with him.

The question everyone asks: is he sleeping through the night? Well, no, not really, not most nights. Most nights he sleeps from 10 or 11 until aroun 3am, gets up to eat, goes right back to sleep (actually eats while sleeping for the most part), gets up again around 6 or 7 to eat, and goes back to sleep again until 10am. Honestly, it's not that big of a deal waking up to feed him-it takes about 20 minutes and then I'm right back to sleep. DH doesn't wake up at all!

He's definitely smiling at us now, and smiling less often at inanimate objects, although he still smiles at our curtains sometimes, and this lion in his car seat:

He's holding his head up pretty well now, and really likes to be in any kind of sitting up position. We recently bought him a jumperoo, which he can sit in, bounce when he kicks his feet, turn around, and play with some toys that are attached. He seems to love the monkey (just like June!) and laughs hysterically at it.

But his favorite place to be above all else is here:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

It's only fair...

There's no way my daughters are going to put up with an unborn baby getting a cooler looking room than they have. So, of course, SuperMom that I am, I had to do something special in their rooms. In the past, this would have been done within a few weeks of our moving into the new place, but hey, I think I get a little bit of a break for doing this while pregnant!

Somehow, this has also gotten more complex as we've moved. The first room they had (which they shared) I stenciled bright colored flowers around the room, some pink and purple for March, and some yellow and orange for June. Then, they separated into two new rooms in the next house. So March had lovely blue walls, with butterflies stenciled around, mostly on one wall. And June had a nice mango-colored room with monkeys stenciled all over her walls.

This time, stencils just weren't enough. SuperMom was asked to do murals on their walls. March wanted giant cats playing on the wall, and June wanted hot air balloons flying around her room!!

Anything for my darlings!


In case you're wondering, those are (left to right) Thing (from Addams Family), our cat, Jupiter, Kirby, and "dodo", June's favorite doll since she was about 2 years old, now tattered and worn.

...and here's June herself in a balloon, next to a Webkinz rabbit who's spying on her.

...and the new love of her life, a llama!

Too bad for the monkeys who used to be her favorites before she became a llama lover!

June insisted on drawing me in a balloon, keeping my eye on her in her bed!

Snowed in...

We were actually literally snowed in on Monday!!! How awesome is that?? I've always seen on tv where people couldn't get out their doors because the snow was too high to open the door, but it's never actually happened to me! Okay, so I lived in Southern California half my life, and didn't get too many opportunities to be snowed in, but still, this was big time excitement for me.

This is our screendoor NOT OPENING!

Okay, really we were able to squeeze ourselves out the door :)

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade...when life gives you snow, make a snow kitty!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More on the Baby's Room...

Here's how the stickers turned out on the walls. It's hard to tell in the pictures, but we painted the walls a baby blue color first.




Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Decorating the baby room...

Somehow, despite an entire wall of bedding options at Babys R Us, we couldn't find a single one that we liked. There's a lot of brown out there these days...brown just seems too depressing for a baby's room to me. So we did some online shopping and found these crib sheets and wall stickers that were just perfect!!




Now, we just need to find some nice matching accessories. This isn't one of those ready-made themes that comes with every possible accessory. We may have to get a bit creative here.

Freaking amazing!

Technology is really freaking amazing! 15 years ago, every detail of what was going on inside a womb was a complete mystery. Women noticed they were pregnant, doctors measured women's bellies, and one day a baby came out. It was either healthy or not.

Today, they not only can measure every bone and every organ in the baby's body, they can track the blood flow in and out of the baby's heart, can do an echocardiogram of the heart, can look inside the skull at the brain. Even freakier, you can pay to have a 3D image of that baby, so you can decide three months before its born whether it has Dad's chin or Mom's nose!!

Yesterday was my fifth sonogram. I really do love the quality time I'm getting to spend watching my baby grow. Yesterday I actually saw him move and felt it at the same time. Just awesome!

Friday, January 9, 2009

I've been derelict...

Okay, clearly I've been totally derelict in keeping up with my blog. But I have a very good reason. The thing that's been occupying my thoughts most for the past few months has been something I couldn't blog about. At least not until now. So, here's why I haven't been posting:


Yes, it's true! I am 20 weeks pregnant! I decided my blog did not need to include all the first trimester complaining, worrying and obsessing. But, lucky you, you will get to hear it for the rest of the pregnancy.

So, yesterday was our sonogram (also known as ultrasound). The tech was a bit crabby at the start, especially when March and June followed us into the room. But she warmed up to us after a bit. And proceeded to give my children a very nice anatomy lesson. They learned about the parts of the heart, all about blood flow into and out of the heart, about the brain, and of course, about gender anatomy. She refused to say the "P" word in front of the girls, but, yes, our baby most certainly has "boy parts"!

While I thought it would be great to have a boy after two girls, I admit that I've had a few other unexpected reactions to the news. First, I mourned just a teeny bit that we wouldn't be buying cute pink dresses for the baby. Then, I had a sudden panicky lack of self-confidence. What if all the things that I know I've done pretty well in raising my girls no longer applies to this boy? Can I expect anything to go the way it went for the girls? Okay, I'm calming back down now.

Good grief, now we just have to think of a name!

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's Been a Busy Month

Wow, I've just realized that it's nearly the end of October, and I've only posted twice this month. It has, though, been a really busy month for us, what with selling one house, buying another, and finally getting a vacation.

We just came back from a lovely week in the Dominican Republic, at the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus in Bayahibe. This is our third time visiting this resort. The first few days, I was completely lazy and relaxed and forgot about packing, moving, houses, etc. Unfortunately, by about the fourth day, I started having dreams about packing, and it was no longer quite that relaxing. We did a lot of playing around in the pool and the sea, played lots of ping pong, and of course ate a lot.

My daughter March made friends with a German girl named J, and her family really adopted us! J's father spoke fair English, and J and her mother spoke just a tiny bit. J and March played backgammon a few times, and mostly played around in the pool. One night, we taught them to play "BS" or "Bull". They loved the game, and were quite addicted for the remainder of our trip. We all exchanged email addresses, and promised to write and send pictures, etc. But when we left, March cried her eyes out, and J's mother hugged March really tightly and was crying herself. So sweet!

I'll pretend that I took many pictures. But, really, I'm stealing these from elsewhere online!

Here's what the lobby looks like. Very open and airy, and when you first arrive, they bring you a "welcome drink" while you're registering.

We spent a lot of time at the pool, because it's easier to keep from burning here.

The beach is gorgeous too. The water is very clean and clear, and the waves are very mild. Even 50-100 yards out, you can stand in the water. When you look down, you'll see fish swimming around your feet. That lighthouse is actually a bar.

This is what happens when you tip the housekeeper. You get lots of these little towel swans all over your room!

Mmm, food. There are tons of choices in the food buffet. For breakfast, I mostly had eggs, granola and fruit. For lunch and dinner, I usually had fish of some sort and fruit/veggies. Plus dessert of course!!

June's favorite part of the buffet--all you can eat mango!!! I was seriously concerned that the entire island's supply of mango would be depleted before our departure. I would guess that she ate at least 3 mangos at every meal.

There are lots of little ponds and man-made water areas on the grounds. In them live lots of ducks, geese, swans, flamingos and turtles. June fell in love with the one white goose, who she immediately nicknamed "Aflac". The girls fed the animals every day with bread from the buffet. Most of them were pretty gentle while they were actually being given bread, but swans are very nasty animals!! If anyone stood near the edge without food, the swans would nip and bite the people's feet! J's father was teasing one of them, and the swan was really chowing down on his hand.

We're not big fans of the nighttime entertainment. I suppose if you're from some small town in the middle of nowhere, and you've never seen live entertainment, then these shows are very exciting. But for people who've lived in big cities all their lives, they seemed totally amateurish and dull. We did manage to stay through this one though, a version of the Lion King. They had asked June to be in the show, but she said no.

All in all, a nice vacation, and now we're home to start really packing in earnest. We are out on the 6th!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My friends...

Despite the hacking cough that my daughter has been kind enough to share with me, I was determined to stay awake through the debates last night. Because there were important things to be learned from listening to these two candidates discuss the issues. No, not their positions or views. Heck, I've already absentee voted anyway. But I made a bet with a co-worker as to how many times McCain would say "my friends". I said he'd say it 20 times. My co-worker first thought I was way off, that it would only be around 10 times. When I reminded him that it was a town-hall format, he upped it to 15.

He said it 17 times!!! I guess I technically lost. But still, I was pretty close.

It was also kind of fun to watch the scrolling Ohio undecided voters opinions. I didn't really understand all their reactions. Clearly they didn't like anything negative. In fact, both candidates should probably never have mentioned their opponents at all. But most interesting was that nothing McCain ever said made them really excited. They were often positive about what he said, just never at the highest possible rating. Whereas many things Obama said (even though to me they just sounded like standard debate rhetoric) caused them to give very high ratings. It was pretty easy to tell who won, anyway. To me, Obama looked like a president and McCain looked like some weird character from a Batman movie, with the weird jokes, the eyebrows bobbing up and down, the erratic pacing, even while Obama was talking.

Cough, cough, I guess I'll be needing a nap at work today.

My very first award!!

Okay, maybe it doesn't really count, because it's from one of my best friends, but that's okay, I'll take it anyway.

So, I'm proud to announce, that for my outstanding writing contribution to the blog community (cough, ahem, er, friendship with Olga), I have been honored with the Premio Arte Pico award.

It seems to originate in Uruguay, from this
blog, which I'm sure is quite a lovely blog, except that I don't speak Spanish so I have no idea what it says.

So, apparently, there are rules to these awards. Here are the rules:
1) Pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributes to the blogger community, no matter of language.
2) Advertise name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
3) Each award-winner, has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
4) Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of "Arte y pico" blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.
5) Share these rules.

So, as nice as the award is, the best part is that I get to pass it on to some of my favorite blogs, many of which I only lurk on (it's kind of awkward commenting on someone's blog the first time--I feel a bit like an intruder)

Shallow Gal makes me laugh so hard I cry/pee sometimes, and that's the nicest break in my otherwise boring day! Plus, she uses footnotes, how cool is that??

Where's My Cape is a complete, irreverant smart-ass too (and I say that with the utmost respect). Although she has so many awards already, she hardly needs this one. But what the heck, she cracks me up.

Vegan Lunch Box is a blogger who I truly admire. I am not vegan, and even if I were, I wouldn't have the time or patience to make these incredible little lunches for my kids (I consider myself SuperMom just for cookie-cutting their sandwiches into hearts on Valentine's Day), but I am in awe of people who make their child's lunch such a work of beauty. What a great way to encourage your children to treasure the earth's gifts.

Half-assed takes care of the other end of the cooking spectrum, and definitely more my style. There are some great ideas on here for quick, easy ways to throw something on the table that the kids won't secretly feed the dog.

Don't Take the Repeats was one of my favorite blogs for a long time. This is a posthumous award, since the poor lady was forced to shut down her blog by some nasty invader of her privacy. I will miss her.

Marinka is also one seriously funny Mom. In case my post-humous award doesn't count (since she can't post the award on her defunct blog), this is one of my newest favorites.

Friday, September 26, 2008

One Heartbeat Away?

Okay, I know it's probably a mistake to introduce my political views onto this blog, but hey, my only visitors at the moment are my friends, and you already know where I stand, right?

So, Sarah Palin finally agreed to answer some questions off the cuff in front of reporters. Okay, to be precise, FOUR questions. Here is part of the transcript (no, I am not making this up, I cut it straight from CNN ) CNN article

Q: "do you agree with the way the Bush administration has handled the war on terrorism, is there anything you would do differently?"
A: "I agree with the Bush administration that we take the fight to them. We never again let them come onto our soil and try to destroy not only our democracy, but communities like the community of New York. Never again. So yes, I do agree with taking the fight to the terrorists and stopping them over there."

     Translation: McCain-Palin want to bring change to Washington. We just want to do it in exactly the same way that Bush has done it for the last 8 years. And, really, I'm still being tutored on how we've handled the war on terrorism, I haven't yet been tutored on how we would do it.

Q: "Do you think our presence in Iraq and afghan and our continued presence there is inflaming islamic extremists?"
A: I think our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan will lead to further security of our nation, again, because the mission is to take the fight over there. do not let them come over here and attempt again what they accomplished here, and that was some destruction. terrible destruction on that day. but since September 11, Americans uniting and rebuilding and committing to never letting that happen again.

     Translation: You didn't notice that I just gave you the same thirty second sound-bite answer that I gave you on the last question, did you? Because we haven't covered this material yet in my tutoring.

Q: "Do you support the reelection bids of embattled Alaska Republicans, Rep. Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens?"
A: "Ted Stevens trial started a couple days ago. We’ll see where that goes."

     Translation: Oops, I'm going to get in trouble if I answer this one. So I guess, I'm really only agreeing to answer three questions then.

Q: "What do you think of bailout package before congress?"
A: "I don't support that until the provisions that Sen. McCain has offered are implemented in Paulson's proposals."

     Translation: I don't have the slightest clue about the bailout package. We haven't gotten to current events yet.

In other news, Sarah announced victory in Iraq.
( Washington Post )

We laugh, we joke, we watch SNL. And, yet, there are electoral projection maps out there (not even made out by Fox News) that project this as a close race, once that McCain Palin may even be leading. Washington Post electoral map 9/26/08 So I find myself, for the third time in twelve years, asking the question "How can it even be close? How can half this country, my country, see everything completely inverted from me?

Under Contract!!

I didn't want to jinx it until all the contingencies had been removed, but my house is now officially under contract. The only thing that can stop the sale now is if the buyers lose a job, or their bank goes belly-up. A few years ago that might have seemed like a long-shot, but these days??

So in 53 days, we will be homeless. Unless we find something to live in by then. (Do you suppose the homeless shelters take a family of four with a dog, two cats and a guinea pig??) We're looking and looking, but nothing much yet. The rental houses we've seen have been nasty. I think renting our your house is apparently something you do when you're too lazy to clean it or fix anything in it. The apartments are very small and almost none take a dog and two cats and a guinea pig--actually, that goes for 90% of the rental homes too. We're hoping to buy something, so we'll have to see what happens.

Oh, and we're leaving for the Dominican Republic in 22 days!!! I have desperately needed a vacation for over a year. At this point, I don't care whether we have a place to live or not, as long as I get to lie on that beach and listen to the waves. Because if I don't get that vacation, I'll have a place to live--it's called Bellevue, or whatever other mental hospital is near!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What would I eat?

Okay, I really need a break from all my stress. TS Hanna came and drowned out my Saturday open house. The basement flooded despite the $10,000 we spent on waterproofing last year. Actually it was just one speed drain inside the door at the bottom of the stairwell that wasn't speedy enough. Shockingly, the company came out that night to look at it, admitted that they'd installed it improperly, and is coming out today to re-install.

So, for a fun break, I found this meme from Where's My Cape, and thought I'd join in.

The rules are:
1) Copy this list into your blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Bonus: how many did you have to look up? I looked up 11!

And the list:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Friday, September 5, 2008

The house goes on the market today!

Well, we've finally gotten through this stage of chaos. The house goes on the market today.

The wallpaper has been torn down (about ten square feet of it by my and my kids and friends, the rest by the professionals after we realized there was no way we'd get it done) in the kitchen and it's been painted some bleaugh neutral house-for-sale color. It's covered in new granite.

The walls have all been cleaned with Magic Eraser. This makes me sad, because one of March's favorite pastimes is jumping up and slapping the top of the door frame, just like mine was when I was a kid. And I had to erase all those finger prints off the door frames :(

90% of our furniture, knickknacks and stuff has been sold (eBay or Craig's List), given away (Goodwill or freecycle) or stuffed into boxes in the basement.

Our front door has been painted an appropriate Feng Shui red.

The above ground swimming pool has been removed and replaced with a rather odd looking 15' round garden of impatiens and greenage. The grass has been watered. The windows have been professionally washed. The roof has been repaired.

Every light fixture has a brand new lightbulb.

I spent last night craning and twisting my neck, painting the ceiling in the sunroom, where the roof leaked (hmmm, apparently no one told the window washers that they needed to cushion the feet of their ladders when standing on a roof). I didn't fall off the ladder.

Now, comes the worst and hardest part. The waiting and stressing, and keeping your house looking like a Stepford house.

These last few weeks I have not been a good SuperMom. I've spent no time whatsoever with my kids, and have been cranky whenever I've seen them. They started school this week, March started middle school. I've barely heard about it, and can't name their teachers. Quality time with Mommy has largely been me yelling at them not to touch this or that. Sigh, it's so hard to have it all sometimes!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Someone's getting a great kitchen...

Since we're putting our house on the market, and I'm so busy and crazed that I can no longer think straight, I've been pretty much allowing my realtor to make all the important decisions for me. (Don't blame me if my outfit doesn't match today, the realtor picked it out!)

After his "staging" crew walked the house with him last week, he came up with a big long list of critical home improvements that we needed to make before the house goes on the market. So, suddenly I'm painting our front door red. Or, at least, I'm trying to do so. But after two coats, I'm still nowhere near red, nowhere near having covered up the color underneath (black).

We're peeling off all the wall paper in the guest bathroom. Supermom that I am, I realized that something as destructive as peeling wallpaper off the walls would be a perfect job for June, the little devil!

Now for the worst part. We're putting granite counters in the kitchen, peeling off the blue and white country wallpaper and repainting. Why is this awful? Aside from the amount of work that needs to get magically done by next Thursday (while I'm, coincidentally in California at an in-laws wedding half the time), I've been too cheap, lazy or unmotivated to make these changes for myself the entire time I've lived in this house. I disliked the wallpaper and counters from the minute I stepped into the house. Did I ever look into putting in granite counters for myself? No, it always seemed too expensive or too much trouble. Did I ever tear that darned wallpaper off for myself? No, too much work, I can live with it.

So now, we'll have a beautiful kitchen, which we'll possess for hopefully only a month or two. And I really won't even be able to use it much, because I'm eating Diet to Go , and besides, we've already packed half the kitchen things.

Enough ranting!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cleaning up...

It looks like we are going to sell our house. It was always one of those financially questionable decisions in the first place, and money's really tight right now. So, we're putting our house on the market.

Our realtor seems pretty positive, thinks that we'll get some equity out of it. But he walked the house with us over the weekend, and showed us what things we could do to make it look as nice as possible for the open house and market. Funny guy, he didn't want to "tell" us what to do, but he kept saying "so,...,are you going to take away that table/cabinet/chair/couch, etc.?" and "so,....are you going to have it cleaned and clean the windows?"

The long and the short of it is that 3/4 of our furniture and belongings needs to magically be beamed up to some netherworld while our house is on the market. Some things are important to us and we know that we'll want them when we get wherever we're going next. But a lot of our things have been dragged along with us from California to Texas and now to Washington DC. And some things we haven't even liked for years.

So we're doing some serious selling and clearing. We already had a garage sale. I've done some Ebay selling before, with some luck. But lots of things haven't sold on Ebay, and you pay for every listing either way, and wait and wait for it to not sell. And we're just a bit upset at our Goodwill right now (meaning, way totally upset), so that's out. Plus we're Jewish so we don't usually give to the Salvation Army. So what to do?

Well, we posted a lot of things on Craig's List. Wow, I'm amazed at what an efficient world this is becoming! We posted things in the morning and they were gone by the end of the day, for decent prices!! And it's free to post, even with pictures! What a great system.

Then, for the things that we didn't think would be worth posting on Craig's list, we posted those to our local freecycle group, and those went even faster. Sometimes we use the phrase "that's so ugly, I couldn't even give that away!" Well, it's just not true. It turns out you can give most anything away. I saw chunks of wood, broken vacuums, dirty clothes, moving boxes and so much more. We picked up some moving boxes from one person and gave away clothes and extra holiday decorations to others. What a resourceful world we live in!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I'm ashamed to admit this, but I'm a Webkinz addict! For those of you who don't know, Webkinz are small stuffed animals that come with a secret code attached to them. The secret code allows you access to a virtual world, where your "pet" becomes an animated resident. In this virtual world, you play games to earn "Kinzcash". The Kinzcash is used to buy rooms and furniture for your house, food and clothing for your pet, and other goodies.

It started out simply enough. My daughters tired of their account at Club Penguin because although much of it was free, the best things required a monthly paid membership. So they moved on to Webkinz. March received a koala that she named Koko. June got a monkey that she named Cheeky. And so it began. Soon enough, we'd all been sucked into it. I am now the proud owner of five Webkinz pets: a chocolate lab named Chip, a penguin named Dudley, a raccoon named Bandito, a pinto horse named Dottie, and a cow named Shirley. My husband even joined in, reluctantly at first, but now he's as addicted as the next person. He has a rabbit named James Bond, a penguin named Kopol, and a tiger named Lord Bubu. It would take me too long to list all my daughters' pets, but June has 19 and March has at least 15.

The latest addition? Grandpa adopted a black bear, named Blackie. March and June call him and have "playdates" with him!! They send each other virtual gifts for each other's pets!

Watch out, you might be next!

Friday, August 1, 2008

My Hispanic roots?

Seriously, I have none. Here's proof:

When I lived in Austin, I had a nanny from Mexico, who used to make us tacos (she made chicken mole too, but that's another story). I watched a few times, so now I know how to make them. Not those dry, crispy pre-made taco shells they sell in the store, and not the "soft tacos" that are made from a smushy tortilla wrapped around the filling. But a fried taco.

It's not too hard, really. You heat some oil in a small pan, drop the flour tortilla in, and poke it a few times so it doesn't turn into a giant tortilla balloon. When it starts to turn slightly brown and crispy, flip it over and add fillings. Then fold in half and press down to secure the fillings inside. Voila (not sure how to translate that into Spanish!), you're done.

March absolutely LOVES tacos. Since she's a vegetarian, I fill them with refried beans and cheese. Then she adds lettuce and tomato and, her favorite, sour cream. Since the planets would all collide if both girls liked the same food, June only likes beef tacos, and, in fact, doesn't really want the taco at all, but would prefer to eat the filling and the toppings separately.

The other night I was desperate to make a quick and hearty meal for the girls. Since I've been eating Diet to Go , their eating has been a bit...well, odd. Not unhealthy, just a bit like grazing. Anyhow, searching desperately, I found some tortillas and some sour cream and cheese, but no refried beans and no meat. I had just bought a new package of tater tots, though. So, yes, I made Tater Tot Tacos (say that 10 times fast!).

Truly, not an authentic Mexican tradition, but they were incredibly delicious. I snuck a bite--yum! March begged for seconds, and begged me to make them again about two days later. Even June took a bite and liked it and had some the second time!!

Tip: Microwave the frozen tater tots until they're soft and warmed, about 30 seconds. Then stick in the frying tortilla along with a sprinkle of shredded cheese. Fold over and press together until cheese melts. Dinner in five minutes or less!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Update on the family tree...

I've found a new, totally addictive hobby (as if I really needed another one)! I'm working on my family tree. A friend of mine got me started on it at, where it turns out they have a lot of old records digitalized and searchable. So you can see the actual 1920 federal Census record of your ancestors. This includes information on their address, who was living with them, their age and marital status, where they and their parents were born and their occupation. Plus you can find military records, draft registrations etc. in the person's own writing; and emigration and migration records--every time they entered the country during a certain time period.

It's like a jigsaw puzzle with no end! A month ago, I could only name four living relatives--my brother, my father, an aunt that I'm not even sure how she's related to me, and my mother's cousin. Now, I see that I could essentially find zillions of relatives. In fact, I think that there is a project out there to link as many people in the world as possibly through one world tree.

Every time I look up one relative, I find many more--their spouses, children, relatives of their spouses, etc. And the best part is that I've actually contacted some of these people. It's tricky, because the link between a name on official government records doesn't always match the name someone goes by. And there are often many people with the same name obviously. But I have managed to find three people who are related to me just by sending random emails to people that sound right! One of them had worked on a family tree for my father's side of the family, so that's given me so much more information. Another one is the son of someone who has worked on the tree on my mother's side, and I'm hoping to get all her information too.

I had a few misses too. People with the right names living in approximately the right place, but not related to me. They've happily shared with me their own origins too.

Along the way, I've found some mysteries. I can't find my grandmother anywhere. I've found the rest of her family, all living happily together, at a time when she should have been already born and still young enough to live there. But she's not there. I've found one gruncle (my dad's uncle) who was in a reformatory for boys at age 16--I don't know what he did to get in there!!

I seriously wish I could do this for my profession. It's like being a detective without the dangerous aspect. Following links and searching for clues. What fun!

First flirting...

Yesterday I took my 11-year old daughter and her friend to a local water park. I really hate swimming in those kinds of places, so I nestled down with a book under an umbrella, while they went off to ride down the water slides and ride a tube around on the lazy river. After they'd been gone for a while, I saw them in the pool in front of me, climbing onto a large floating plastic fish. A few minutes into it, a tall, gangly boy came over to them, and started trying to push them off the fish. At first, I thought he was a bully, picking on my little kids. After this went on for a while, though, with the girls clearly thrashing the boy the whole time, I realized that he wasn't a bully.


Not in that obvious teenager flirting way, but in that pre-teen flirting way, where they pretend they don't like each other. But those of us who've been there and beyond know that if you really don't like someone, you just ignore him. You don't go out of your way following them around poking them to tell them that you don't like them!

You know what? MY DAUGHTER AND HER FRIEND WERE FLIRTING RIGHT BACK!! They didn't even know it, but they were giggling and laughing and teasing and...well, basically...flirting!! I asked them about it afterwards, and they were clearly stunned to learn that the boy was flirting, and most certainly didn't know that they were flirting!!

Sigh...they're growing up way too fast.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


As the school year ended in June, my children were each given a long math packet to work on over the summer. I think they're supposed to work on it a little each week, but we inevitably do it all in one day. That day arrived this week. To keep them busy while visiting my office for the day, I brought along the math packets, and they started in on them.

While you might assume that the point of these packets is to keep your memory refreshed on basic math skills, I am now convinced that the true point of them is to keep your memory refreshed about how much you hate elementary school math!!!

The sad thing is that my kids do not really hate math. They just hate the math as it is taught in school. In fact, we've always played math games all the time. Sometimes just as simple as me asking them to figure out how much three pounds of bananas will cost if bananas are $0.49 per pound. Sometimes I'll ask them tricky questions like "what three consecutive numbers add up to 75" or "what's 75 times 6" etc. Best of all are math board games. We often play Rummikub or Muggins . And they're really good at math too. It's a shame that since the time I went to school, the math instruction techniques really haven't improved all that much!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A morning at the dermatologist

Yesterday I took March to the dermatologist. We made the appointment about six months ago, at one of the only dermatologists in the area that was taking new patients. Since making the appointment, March has gone through at least two kinds of skin cleansing and toning products, trying to find one that doesn't break out her skin.

I should mention that she has beautiful skin, but that it tends to get a little oily and occasionally breaks out. This was really a pro-active (no pun intended) visit, because DH had very bad acne when he was a teenager, and she seems to take after him in a lot of physical ways.

In the doctor's office, March went into her "I'm a teenager and I can't speak out loud" routine. So I asked all the questions. Dr. Epps pretty much treated us like we were insane for even being there. She didn't seem to understand the concept of being prepared for acne should it strike in the future--despite the fact that it takes six months to get an appointment with her! Anyway, she looked at all of March's beauty marks (she's a beautiful girl if I do say so myself, so she has many beauty marks) and checked out her skin and thought everything looked quite normal. She gave us a prescription for an acne cream that March could use topically if anything ever springs up. It was really expensive--over $70 after insurance paid for part. She also suggested a horse shampoo Mane n' Tail for her thick thick hair.

I guess we're ready to enter the world of teenage skin now!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Webkinz Party

This weekend, my girls and I hosted a Webkinz party. We turned the entire house into Webkinz World. We drew huge posters of all the main characters and copied a bunch of the ads, and posted them all over the house. Then we made up versions of the games and Employment Office jobs. Finally, we cooked foods following recipes from Webkinz. Most were pretty normal, like PB & Banana. But one goofy one was a macaroni and cheese and hotdog sanwich.

Then we invited over March and June's friends. First, they "adopted" their Webkinz animals. They were given adoption certificates, and then given an address--a box in the hallway, labeled with their addresses. We had the W-shop, where they could buy decorations for their box, as well as lunch for themselves. So, the kids went around playing all the games, and collecting money (drawn to look like their animals) and then spending it decorating their houses and eating. They did a little "home and garden tour" to show off their decorated homes. Everyone had a fantastic time!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


This weekend, my daughter bought a new pet. It was a guinea pig. Now, I personally am not into rodents. But I guess guinea pigs are okay if you're going to have a rodent. So, my daughter bought a brown and white and black guinea pig. It squeaks and squeals whenever she tries to pick it up. It eats something called Timothy hay, as well as any fruits and vegetables that March wants to give her. So this now makes one dog, two cats and a guinea pig in our house. Oh, yes, and we're all females except for my husband of course.

Monday, July 7, 2008

First Week on Diet To Go

I'd really like to lose some weight. My Wii Fit tells me that I need to lose some weight, and my aching knees give me a more personal recommendation. I've lost weight before, lots of it. But I've also gained it back, in even larger amounts. And I'm just a wee bit obsessive-compulsive, so dieting makes me into a total nut-case. I start out okay, just cutting back on calories/fat/carbs/whatever here and there. But as the weight starts to come off more and more slowly, I start to obsess about what to cut next, what to eat next, when to eat next, etc. Pretty soon, I'm spending most of my day thinking about eating, dieting, losing weight, not losing weight, and I'm a nut-case.

So this time, I thought I would try a pre-packaged meal plan. Because I'll probably lose the same weight either way, but this takes all the thinking out of it. I did some research, and the plan that was the most flexible while still using real food with ingredients I recognize, was Diet To Go. My DH agreed to do this with me, because the Wii Fit tells him that he's overweight, and his back surgeon agreed. The Diet to Go plan has a 1200 calorie plan and a 1600 calorie plan, and you get to choose how many meals to purchase. I got myself the 1200 calorie breakfast, lunch and dinner plan. Not because I intended to restrict myself to 1200 calories, but because after I add in two cups of coffee with creamer, I'm up to 1400 calories, and then I have the freedom to add a piece of fruit or a small snack if I'm still hungry and stay around 1500. My DH picked the 1600 calorie meal plan (because he's a damned guy, which means his body just naturally burns more calories) for breakfast and dinner only. He's always moving around at lunch time and can't carry food around with him.

I've been on it for a week. First off, the Wii Fit tells me that I've lost 10 pounds, which would be great if I didn't know that 7-8 of it was water, but still, I'm satisfied. I definitely have not had to think about dieting or meal planning or anything else. I just pick up the food at a local gym, shove it into my refrigerator, and eat whatever they tell me to when they tell me to. It's that simple. The meals have been tastier than they've looked. A few I was truly scared to eat, and they ended up tasting just fine. I can't say too much has been delicious, except for the brownie, mentioned in an earlier post. But only one or two meals have been awful, so that's a pretty acceptable deal. One meal was really spicy and made me kind of sick. I'll remember to switch out of that one if it comes around again. I've made a few substitutions of my own, such as fresh carrots for mushy cooked ones, my own jelly instead of the cream cheese, etc.

So I'm definitely staying on it for another week. DH, on the other hand, decided that he didn't like it enough better than eating regular pre-packaged frozen foods, so he's ending his experiment. That's okay, it gives me the option in the future of switching to a different less flexible plan if I want.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Update on the newspaper

So we walked all over the neighborhood yesterday, delivering the kid's newspaper. While a few people brushed them off with excuses like "I only give money to my church" most of the neighbors were pretty nice and very impressed that the kids cared enough to raise money for a charity. They raised over $300!! And they haven't even given out all the papers yet. The owner of one of the businesses that agreed to advertise (the other being our local Starbucks) looked at the newspaper and started complaining about the size and visibility of her ad. Remember, we're talking about a five page little paper, written by two ten year olds and an eleven year old, raising money for charity!!! The ads were hand-drawn. And, here, this woman is griping and criticizing them because her ad wasn't big enough! Finally, she remembered herself, and told the girls how proud of them she was, but still...

Diet To Go is going pretty well so far. The food isn't too bad, and it's nice not to have to think about it. My husband isn't enjoying it quite as much because a) he usually doesn't have to think about food anyway, since I make it, and b) he keeps missing lunch because he's busy, which really doesn't work when your breakfast and dinner are pre-packaged to contain only around 1000 calories. According to my Wii, I've lost about 8 pounds, which is pretty typical for a first week of dieting. It will be interesting to see what happens the next few weeks. Lunch today was the first time the meal included a dessert (unless you count that canned peaches in pudding thing that I had the other day). It was a brownie. I didn't have especially high expectations from a diet pre-packaged brownie, but it was fantastic!!! Rich and chewy and gooey and chocolatey! It was almost too heavy to finish! Wow, I may just have to switch a few meals to that one next week!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Charity Project

So, it's going to be a long summer break. I am trading kid-watching with another Mom, whose daughter is June's best friend. They spend so much time together, though, that they act just like siblings. In other words, they get in fights constantly over nothing, and make up before I can even figure out who started it. So here's the dynamic. Anna (I'll call her that to protect her privacy) naturally tries to follow March in everything she does, because she's older and more mature. This completely aggravates June, who tries to keep Anna away from March, due to an also natural sibling rivalry. So, the long and the short of it is that these three will be spending Mon-Fri together the whole summer. Two days at my house, two days at Anna's mother's house, and the fifth day with a teenage babysitter.

I started coming up with a list of summer projects they could do about two months ago, of course. So here's what they worked on last week and hopefully will finish today. They're writing a neighborhood newspaper. They interviewed a neighbor who's lived here for 45 years and asked her about her life and about how the city has changed. They interviewed a neighbor with a very crazy statue made out of a tree in her front yard. They are collecting some interesting tidbits about events going on in the neighborhood. Then they're going to put it all nice and neat into the computer, and make a bunch of copies.

They're trying to raise money for Meals on Wheels, a charity that I explained to them is suffering greatly from rising gas costs. So they asked several local small businesses to contribute to the charity in exchange for an advertisement in the paper. Wow, what a nightmare! You'd think they were asking for a million dollars the way they've gotten the runaround. Sigh. Well, I guess at least they've learned something about the way the world of nonprofits works!! They'll still ask for donations as they pass out the newspaper, so they'll be able to raise some that way.

That's one week down, 10 to go!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

June's Birthday Party

Tomorrow is my 10 year old daughter's birthday party. Originally she wanted to have a "movie making" party, where she and her friends acted out and filmed a story. I did everything I could think of to talk her out of this, because I could only picture eight little girls screaming at each other arguing about what the story should be, never even making it to the filming stage. After we bought an above ground pool last month, she decided to have a swim party instead, thank goodness!

So tomorrow, she and her friends will be screaming and splashing in the pool. We're ordering pizza. My daughter has never liked cake, so every year we have a great challenge coming up with a substitute for the birthday cake. One year we frosted and decorated a cut up watermelon to look like a cake. This year, we decided to make fake cupcakes out of frozen whipped cream. We'll have vanilla and chocolate. All I need to do is spray the whipped cream into cupcake holders, stick in the freezer, and frost and decorate when they're solid.

Instead of the traditional goody bags, June decided that she wanted to make a little mini shop where her friends could buy things to put in their goody bags. So she's giving them monopoly money, and I bought a bunch of little toys from the $1 section at Target, plus just a few $2-$3 Littlest Pet Shop and girly lip glosses for them to "buy." June's sister, March, has agreed to run the shop.

A couple of her friends get to spend the night after the party. Okay, I really should have put my foot down and made her choose either a sleepover OR a party. My husband has pointed this out to me. And he's totally right. But sometimes SuperMom is too busy flying around to stop and put her foot down!!

Why do we blog?

So here I am, starting a new blog. I should probably mention that I've tried this several times and felt funny talking to myself, and got kind of bored of it. But some friends have been blogging a lot, and I do love reading other people's blogs. So it seems that it might be satisfying to write down the fun things I go through. Will they be helpful, useful or even interesting to anyone else? Who knows. I think maybe that's why we blog--to find out if our lives are interesting to others. Or maybe we're reaching out to an electronic sense of community that we no longer feel in our neighborhoods? Anyway, here goes...

So, I love doing crazy things for my kids, trying to be SuperMom. For my daughter's birthday (I think I'll nickname her June to maintain her privacy), I gave her a Webkinz tiger snake. A few years ago, she asked me why she and her sister always make gifts to give to me, but I always buy gifts to give her. Feeling bad, I've tried to make her at least one gift for each holiday. So for her birthday, I took a Littlest Pet Shop owl, chopped off a few parts, attached some clay, did some painting, and, voila, I re-created the tiger snake in a bobble-head. (Pictures to follow)

Here's the finished bobble-head snake I made:

Here's what the Webkinz one looks like:

And here's a bobble-head replica of our cat Lucky that I made: