Friday, October 31, 2008

He's sensing a theme ...

HIM: "So. What am I going to be for Halloween?"

ME: "You are going to be a shark ... like Silas ... Only, technically, you are going to be EATEN by a shark.

HIM: "COOL. ... What are you going to be?"

ME: "Well, Annabel wanted me to be a mermaid like her this year ..."


ME: "... but I thought I'd me more comfortable if I went as a gorilla dressed like a mermaid ... So I got the costume a size larger."

"Arrrgh ... Rats."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Random question Thursday

new coffee maker, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

How do you take your coffee?

Me? Black.

Jed? Light.

Annabel? No thanks. That stuff is gross.

Silas? Sneaks up on it when it's not looking and tackles it!

How about you?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Out of the ordinary

throw pillow, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

"A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow."

- Charlotte Bronte

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Love and Logic

One of my favorite bloggers showed me the future. And it frightened me.

I wasn't able to sleep last night after reading her open letter to the parents of Casey; one of the students she's encountered in her role as substitute teacher in a Texas classroom.

The letter starts with a little background: The child, one of the smallest and youngest in the second grade class, had moved into the area from another state over the summer. He’s left behind everything he knows, has made no friends and is getting penalized daily for being unprepared.

One of the penalties for not being prepared: The child must sit on a wall and watch as other children play at recess.

It seems only the child (and this teacher) cares that it matters not whether it was the child being forgetful or the parents being lame when they didn’t investigate his bag for homework. The hurt and embarrassment of having to sit out recess stings either way.

The premise is unmistakable: This boy’s parents are fucking up.

They are perpetually late. They are disorganized. They’ve not taught their kid how to pronounce words. They don’t sit and eat dinner together. They have not made his education their priority, or even a distant second.

They make excuses rather than remedies. They send notes begging for leniency for their son, whose homework got misplaced under a bunch of crap that should have been sorted out by now. They didn’t think to correct their son’s pronunciation, probably because “fought” is so much cuter that “thought” in toddlerhood. Or maybe they thought a teacher would just sort all that stuff out.

I suppose it was this teacher's last line that hit me the hardest:

“Be the parents ... so we can get back to being his teachers.”

At that moment, I pictured Casey’s mom, and decided she probably looked a lot like me.

I felt the disorganization of being in unfamiliar territory. I felt the terror of the knowledge that the hours I work are not entirely conducive of conventional life. Dinner won’t ever happen until after 7 p.m. When will homework get done? I don’t even want to think about the commute.

Will I have to quit my job? If I do will we have enough money? How will we get health insurance if my job disappears? What if my husband gets hurt on the job? How will we save for college? None of the basics seems so basic anymore.

And then there’s making friends. I am the last person who can teach my child how to make friends.

I’ve lived in my town for nearly 10 years now. I’ve gone to community events. I’ve volunteered. I’ve invited people over for parties and dinners and cookouts. The friendships haven’t materialized.

It’s probably me. I suppose I’m the same person I was when I was in second grade: the same little girl who’d bend over backwards to have someone take notice. I’d give away any Barbie in my collection – Hell, you could have them all – if you’d just be my friend. No one wanted my Barbies then. It shouldn't suprise me they don't want my potato salad now.

It's true that we've lived here longer than we've even been parents, but we spend most of our time in other places. Our children have even gone to other towns for preschools and daycare. Come next September, when the reality of Kindergarten comes to pass, we will all feel as if we just moved from other place entirely.

But even in my own awkwardness, I don't think I'm alone.

I am not the only one who commutes or gets home after dark. No one else is at the park on weekday evenings. Playgroups don’t meet on weekends, they didn't even meet in the summer when I was last on maternity leave. Only laundry sees me eye to eye.

I think about how long it takes a person to settle in, and I realize it could be a lifetime. I suppose the neighborhood 'Welcome Wagons' have always been an idyllic convention of Hollywood. That's what churches are for, heathen.

We've all said it before: "Why are people so idiotic?"

We wonder with our pointy fingers, "Why can't they see that their children should take priority? It doesn't take much; just a little more attentiveness."

But wanting change doesn’t make it happen, just like wanting my husband to take the recycling to the curb won't actually get it there. Screaming and ranting generally don't produce desired results either. But figuring out what will work just isn't fair to me ... especially when I'll just end up taking it to the curb myself anyway.

There’s no such thing as an even playing field, no matter how much we’d like it to be. Love doesn't always mean logic.

There’s always going to be someone out there who doesn’t play by the rules, or who doesn’t realize the importance of the rules. There’s always going to be the people who do it all wrong, and whom clobbering over the head will only build up resistance not effect change.

I suppose what frightens me most is that there is that Casey really is the victim in all of this. He’ll find himself fighting two systems, at home and at school. Home where time is too short; and school where there are few accommodations for the basic failures: there’s too much to cover already.

I have no answers. I just hang my head and hope I can manage to avoid receiving this letter.

Monday, October 27, 2008

So an ape walks into a yoga studio ...

Yoga Halloween ... Mama goes Ape, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Q. How do you make a Gorilla laugh?
A. Tell it an elephant joke!

Q. How do you stop a thundering herd of Apes?
A. Hold up your arm and say ‘Go back, you didn’t say ‘May I?”

Q. How did a Gorilla come to join the Army?
A. He had seen a sign saying, ‘Uncle Simian Wants You!’

Q. Why do waiters like Gorillas better than flies?
A. Did you ever hear a customer complain 'Waiter, there's a Gorilla in my soup!'

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I'd like to thank ...

Sarah at Mostly BassAckwards has made my cheeks all pinky-red by naming me a Creative Kreativ Blogger.

I'm terribly flattered even though I don't often think of myself as being creative in much else beside spelling.

The award is also a kind of prompt in which I am supposed to tell you six things I value and six things I do not value. This is really tough for me to list, but here goes:

I value people. (What? I do).
I value ideas.
I value appologies.
I value shockingly dismal attempts at humor.
I value rainy days.
I value smiles from strangers.

I do not value the word "boredom."
I do not value blind intollerance.
I do not value things that come with hefty pricetags.
I do not value values disguised as anything other than "doing unto others as thou would have done onto themselves" even though I've lost my religion long ago.
I do not value perfection.

But perhaps most of all ...

I do not value people enough.

And in that spirit, I am happy to pass on the mantle to some other, much more shockingly creative folks, who have inspired me to steal their ideas stretch my limited abilities. And whom I haven't told how much they have influenced me:

John Watson has more talent in the thoughts he discards than in the ones that I run with. No lie.

Firestarter ... I don't even know this guy's real name. But he's burning with incendiary ideas that aren't for the squeemish (which means your boss won't approve). He's got his fingers on the pulse of America, which makes PERFECT SENSE. He's Canadian.

Mary Beth better write a book. Or I will hunt her down and tickle her. No one wants that.

Julie K. is crazy talented with the arts and crafts; and crazy generous with her knowledge.

Binky is so creative and amazingly gifted with words that she doesn't even know what to do with herself when she has free time.

And Stephanie ... oh, Stephanie. I don't know where you've gone. But I'll always be waiting for your return.

Friday, October 24, 2008

One of these is not like the other

He aint heavy ... he's my brudder, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Dear Annabel and Silas,

People always compare kids. It can't be helped. We can't seem to stop ourselves. You really are so different from one another.

Annabel, you were precocious in your development. We often said you held your head up at birth.

It wasn't really an exaggeration.

You also started teething at four months, cruised around the living room at eight months and walked on your own at 10 months. You could say about a billion words by the time you were two. You were funny and charming to people you felt even the slightest bit comfortable with, standoffish and shy in all new situations.

You couldn't fall asleep in our bed. You'd squirm around until I put you in the cradle, where you'd immediately fall asleep.

I suppose the bad part - the part that may seem harshly noticed at any rate - is that we always thought your temperament had two speeds: Happy and Emergency. There didn't seem to be much room for error. We called you "high maintenance."

By contrast, Silas, you were a pretty easy-going baby. You slept through most every noise and routine upheaval, safely tucked in a pocket sling. You didn't have the crying jags that punctuated at least two hours of each of your sister's early days.

Your development, while only slightly slower than Annabel's, lacked her almost palpable determination. I'm not even sure if you have ever really "teethed." At sixteen months, you still have only four of the pearly whites, and they came in without much fanfare.

You are also into EVERYTHING once you started walking. Whereas your sister would sit with us and listen for hours as we read to her, you quietly go about your business getting into everything at or below your eye level.

We never had to "childproof" much around the house for Annabel.

There are so many subtle differences, too. While I know both of you are very intelligent, I realize now that your sensitivities seem so opposite. Annabel was more sensitive to frightening predicaments as an infant; startling and the like, whereas Silas is more susceptible to emotional hurts, such as storylines where animals get lost.

When I compare you, though, my mind filters it as if it were just intellectual curiosity; an interesting note in a long, long story that's still unfolding. There's no real assement that I'm making. The sound effects are more of a "Huh" than a 'Hmmmm."

Yet when other people notice or mention your differences -- I get almost blind with rage. I read into their comments the passing of judgment and I become hopelessly defensive.

Perhaps I'm just afraid that you won't love each other as much if you feel you must compete for affection. Or worse, you'll dislike yourselves if you feel shortchanged in that affection.

I love you both so intensely for who you are as individuals, I won't ever be able to put it into words how this feels. I know I'm just getting to know you, but I feel I do know you and being surprised by changes only deepens understanding. It doesn't change it.

Even when I'm exasperated and tired and short tempered; my love for you and admiration of you is overwhelming to me.

I know you will both know this feeling when you have children of your own one day. Until then you'll just have to trust me.

Love and zerbert,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Random question Thursday

argh, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Would you trust this Gorton's Fisherman?

How about this one?

hmmm, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

T'is the season

pumpkin carving, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I love Halloween. I love all things spooky.

I love the costumes and the decorations; especially the silly, scary geometric features of the jack-o-lanterns dotting all the neighboring porches. I love meli-mello for celebrating it every day in October.

I especially love the walking from house to house in the dark of a cold autumn night. It kind of makes me sad that we get so few visitors because of our location, a few hundred measily yards too far from the road.

But such neglect offers it's own reward: Both of us big'uns get to accompany the lil'uns in their quest for candy. Love that.

What I don't love, however is pumpkin carving.

Sure, it's gotten much easier since so many cheap and reliable tools have hit the market for pumpkin carving neophytes, not to mention a garden load of easy-to-follow tutorials that boost our design capabilities.

But it hasn't gotten any less messy.

Turns out four-year-olds (at least mine), while they may have big ideas on what shape the eyes should be and how sharp the teeth should be (or if there should even BE teeth on these gourdly ghouls), don't really like sticking their hands in orangy pulpy goo.

So, as the person in our house who routinely gets left with the GOOD jobs ... such as cleaning up the scene of the blowout diapers and vomity messes ... I get the joy of scooping pumpkin guts and separating the stringy pulp from the seedy goodness.

I can barely wait until next month when I'll be scrounging around the inside of the turkey's thorasic cavity looking for organs and de-capitated necks.

And they say HALLOWEEN is scary.

pumpkin carving

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

She's on her way

flat annabel, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Little Flat Annabel has a window seat (and a tiny bit of extra cushioning) and she's on her way to meet Jaylene in Taiwan.

We know the Ks are going to take good care of her. We can't wait to see all the wonderful places they show her.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Who let the goats out?

feeding the aminal, originally uploaded by toyfoto.


*walks away*

*le sigh*

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I am giddy ...

Binky and her lovely family are coming to our house this weekend for a little meetup. Being so excited about her visit, I must admit I feel bad that I kinda damned her last week when she posted a link to a VW internet novelty in which you can make a baby (and see what the baby would look like if the baby indeed looked like you).

Since my children bear no resemblance to me ... or the didn't when they were first born at any rate ... I was excited to see the results.

But I was at work. And we didn't have the latest flash there. And I didn't have photos (or time) anyway. Yet I knew I'd forget the thing (and where I'd seen it) when I got home.

So I cursed her.

And promptly forgot the whole thing.

Even when she reminded me of the experiment while we conversed in e-mail concerning the logistics of our visit (TODAY!) I never wrote it down in my to-do list.

But every email we swapped - I realized now - had "My Baby, Brought to You By the Internet" in the subject line.

So on the eve of their arrival, I finally remembered ... "Oh, right. I was going to ... make a baby

And hoooo was it ever EYE-OPENING!

Who knew Jed and I would make Suri Cruise?

Anyway ... Binky, I hope you can forgive me for cursing you ...

and for whatever my dog does to wake you up at 5 a.m.

Friday, October 17, 2008

'This is a cubby'

this is a cubby, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

"But it's not MY cubby.

"I'm not going to show you MY cubby because MY cubby has MY stuff in it.

"And I don't want you touching MY stuff.

"But you can touch that kid's stuff ...

"HE'S a boy. HE won't mind."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why Sarah Palin IS just like me ...

Ok, I know I said that I'd said my piece (until November) about elections and politics and whatnot, but hell, I don't have to be consistent. I'm not running for higher office.

Thing is, lately I've been taking great pleasure in saying "she's just like me," copping a gushing tone and all, when people ask me what I think about Sarah Palin.

It's cruel, I know, but I can't seem to stop. What I've learned from the little experiment has been somewhat enlightening.

Often people will tell me what it is that really irks them about her candidacy. Lots of people confess the biggest reason they don't agree with her is that she has her baby up on stage late at night when he should be in bed.

Really? That's what irritates you the most? Huh.

Now generally, a few minutes after my statement clears the room most folks will return and quietly ask me if I was serious about feeling a kinship to Palin because they know me and they don't think I'm anything like her.

What they don't know is how late my kids stay up.

During Wednesday's presidential debate, for instance, Silas was still up milling about as Jed and I plunked our ever-expanding posteriors onto the couch to watch the debate between Obama and McCain. The gates were up, the toilet seat was down, (sure the small heating in the floor was open since the grate that covers it had recently been painted [did I forget to mention we finally got a tiled floor in the bathroom this week?] but there’s no real hazard in that) we decided to let him tucker himself out while we watched the boob tube.

As I listened to the telly with one ear and the kitchen with another, I realized the baby was quietly opening and closing the drawer where we store plastic place settings, and then opening and closing the bathroom door.

There goes the drawer again.

… And the door.





Eventually, he came into the living room, climbed up on the couch and fell asleep with little fanfare.

Jed found out what the little imp had been doing when he took a break to use the newly appointed facilities:

"He stuffed all his sippy cups into the heating vent," he laughed.

"See! We got their Joe the Plumber* right here!"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why my four-year-old is smarter than me

lunch, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

"You should really pack a lunch."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pink lady

stand-in or sit-in, as it were, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

That's Annabel and her friend, "Bah!"

She may two-dimensional but she's not skeptical.

And she can release her own seatbelt.*

*That's what I told the three-dimensional Annabel when she asked why the paper doll wasn't wearing it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Speaking my peace

I bet you thought I was ignoring the election, didn't you? You thought I was just sitting behind my keyboard typing away, blissfully unaware of the economy and the people exploiting it to get to higher office. I'm just a woman of little consequence, blathering on about too many toys, or naughty words that come out of my kid's mouth with just the exact same timber and tone as they come out of mine. Politics isn't my purview.

Ah well. You know I'm not perfect.

By the same token, you also probably know that I do more than gaze lovingly at the photocopied photographs of my darling children that are taped to the central processing unit of my tower-style computer as I wrack my brain for topics to write about whilst I'm at the office. Mostly I just search the Internet for pictures Sen. McCain's VeeP in a bikini or for possible explanations for why Sen. Obama voted for FISA. Sometimes I look up definitions of words I don't know. (There are a LOT of words I don't know). I can admit it, much happens in the world that this here space ignores.

So I thought I'd rectify the whole AVOIDING the thing that passes as news rant once and for all (until November) and describe -- in painful detail -- the 800 lb. gorilla sitting in the overstuffed chair to my right.

Let's take a gander at the state of the economy, shall we?

I'm not worried despite the fact that I own some securities.

I checked them.

They seem to be on vacation. The Aussies would call it "on walkabout."

I figure they WILL probably come back and pay me a visit near about the year 3,000 when the corpse that was my body is finally offered a chance to retire. I'm also not so worried about the often predicted Great Depression (version 2.0). Why, you ask? Well, because we here in the first part of the 21st century have excellent pharmecology for such ailments. With Prozac and Welbutrin we will only be looking at a slightly Sad Feeling at best or a Lingering Malaise at worst. (Of course it will cost a zillion dollars for a month's supply of the stuff, but the government will be printing cash for us by the wheelbarrow full or adding it to the water supply) We'll be OK.

The election seems like a farce to some (college educated) folks watching. I believe this is mostly the result of the influence of Sarah Palin.

Let's talk about the Republican's vice presidential candidate, shall we? First and most importantly: I know that wasn't her in the bikini! Tina Fey said, and I believe, they were pasting Palin's head on other people's bodies and Palin didn't like it.

I don't really mind. There are worse indignities.

And that stuff about her abusing her power?


She's too smart for that; she's absolutely right that some moose-shooting, snow machine driving, no-good former brother-in-law shouldn't be representing for the home team. She was top dawg, and if your power can't get you stuff why have it? I'd do the same thing if I were her. Protect (my own) and serve (myself). I'm not proud.

Of course, I'm not suppose to be impartial. ... or am I?

Moving on.

Really, I am enjoying the spin. Ms. Palin is standing behind her "lawful" firing of a public safety commissioner who wouldn't reassign or fire her ex-brother-in-law because, and as Alaska law allows, she could have had him fired for wearing a mismatched tie to work if she wanted to.

What ACTUALLY went on in the office - so long as she's not stealing money - should be of no interest to anyone. And the partisan politics, even in the non-partisan investigation, was to blame not her actions. Because really? Politically motivated and politically embarrassing are the same thing, right?

She invites you to READ the report and judge for yourself. It's all there. You'll see. Of course it's long and it takes forever to load. ... You could probably get a better understanding from FOX News. They're fair and balanced unlike the mainstream media that keeps asking rude questions.

And don't you know, bald-faced lies ARE the new truth.

Hey, Joe Six Pack! You shouldn't care if the veep brings her family fued into the governor's mansion anyway, nor should you mind if she brings it all the way to the White House. You're ass is covered because she winks and says Maverick a lot. She's just like you. You wouldn't want a jerk who was once married to your sister, and fathered her children, to pull some cushy detail at the state fair dressed as a safety mascot either. You've got your standards.

And besides, character flaws only matter when one has got a (D) after their name or if you happen to have a name the Good 'ol Boys can't pronounce. We're all human. ... except for people who don't belong to the Church of What's Happening Now, They're going to hell, poor things.

So let's continue calling Mr. Obama a "Mooslim" why don't we? Let's perpetuate that myth, too. We're all good Christians. And Christ would probably think that was fine. Christ is all about fear and loathing. Let's roil the unwashed masses, and stoke the fire of hatred. When the polls start to show we're slipping even further, let's pay lip service to the idea that such talk is unacceptable. But make no mistake, the people who WILL elect us do not speak well of this "(Shining) City on the Hill."

Of course, John Winthrop's meaning of that turn of phrase in his 1630 sermon (which Reagan bastardized) was probably meant as a warning not as a source of pride. But who cares? "The eyes of all people are upon us." Let's just reapply our lipstick.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cha-cha-cha-cha CHANGES

But I don't feel much like singing.

Today is the last "Terri Day."

We are moving on. There are a lot of reasons why we've decided to move on. Some good, some not so good.

I'll only say that I will truly miss Terri and the beautiful commute to her remote location.

I will miss her big, old loveable dog.

And her big-eyed adorable son.

I will also miss her calm and easy demeanor.

I will miss her sense of wonder and amazement, and her nothing-is-insurmountable attitude.

I know the kids, especially Silas -- WHO just started to call her by name -- will miss her too.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sad Songs (Say So Much)

girlhood, originally uploaded by toyfoto.


When I was three

Or maybe I was two.

No, I was three.

He took my heart


And he took my place

When I was using it

He took my place

When I was still using it.

All the ones (parents)

Loved him not me

Because he took my place

And he took their hearts

They only love the one who took my spot

Not me

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

It only took five years ...

enticement, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

and a little pile of cat treats (served on a shovel)

for them to warm up to us.

Cat's aren't that complicated after all.

This little gal is named "Cali."

*I shouldn't say this, but Cali kinda makes me think of what Stephen King's "Pet Sematary" version of Squeak would look like if our dear departed neighbor cat were to claw her way back from her final resting place.*

Monday, October 06, 2008

Wherein I tell you the REAL reason I will never win mother of the year

Hold Me Closer Tony Danza, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

ITTYBIT: What-ya-doin'?

MARILLA CUTHBERT (of the Marilla Cuthbert Academy for Unspeakably Charming Children): "Oh, hello there, friend. ... I'm putting the seat of the commode down so we don't have anyone throwing any objects down the toilet unnecessarily."

ITTYBIT: "Oh, that makes perfect sense. My baby brother throws things down there ALL THE TIME! Don't you think it SUCKS? It really pisses me off!"

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Yeah ... it's a stretch.

But we hope you'll come.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Marma Xcetera

Marma Xcetera, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Mmmm. ... I'm thinking you might be surprised to learn I am a Superhero by night (and on weekends) ... you know. ... in my spare time?

To tell you the truth, I had no idea I lived an alternate life until All About The X showed me the light.

But unlike the other Siobhan, who followed Edna Mold's advice and decided against the inclusion of a cape in her Superhero attire, I like to live on the edge ... I even buy pens I don't need.

I am Marma Xcetera.

My superpower hinges on a single, talismen-lined coat pocket, which miraculously holds infinite amounts of natural treasures (pinecones, rocks and sticks) as well as used tissues and watery bits of chewed food items that have been reluctantly tasted and later refused.

I protect the universe from my kids' detritus.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I really do love him

under trees on the hayride, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

... even when he had to be forcibly removed from the table bearing the busy box in the doctors' waiting room.

... even when he screamed his way through the weigh-in and the measuring and the removal of sharp pointy objects (such as the pens he'd cunningly snatched) from his possession.

... even when he bit me (and drew blood) seconds before the doctor arrived.

... even though I wasn't sad when the nurse stepped into the room bearing two hypodermic needs and tiny round bandages.

I really do love all 18 pounds 13 ounces of him.
I really do love all 29 and 1/4 inches of him.
I really do love all 46.5 cm of his sweet cranium.

Furthermore? I love that his sister doesn't have a hearing problem. Or not a significant one, at any rate.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

e-mail him my love

what e-mailing requires, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Dear Daddy,

I love you, goodnight.

I hope you're coming home soon. It's about winter and I want you to see my costume. Because it's really cool and you might like it. It's a mermaid costume. And you might think it's beautiful. Or you might think it's a little bit conscious. Or, you might think it's just fun.



PS. Dad I wish you come home tomorrow or today. I miss you so much. I miss my dad too much.