Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

pumpkin carving

Hope you have tiny, lovely surprises.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

(The return of) Random Question Thursday


I know, I know ... Who cares?

Please, don't answer that. That is NOT the question.

The question is:

What will you NOT be doing this Halloween?

We are NOT buying Nestle candy, that's one thing.

One of us may NOT be dressing up. Again.

We are NOT having a costume yoga class.

We are NOT going to be staying indoors. (Hopefully the cat will be, though.)

and ... finally ...

We are going to NOT one but TWO parties.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Silas is (still) golden (but he's becoming more like us every day)


My father called me today to report on a report he’d gotten from his town’s librarian about my son.

The Other Mother, you see, takes the boy to that library on Wednesdays for story time.

“He used to be so quiet. So shy,” she laughed as my dad probably sniggered silently (and uncontrollably) before emitting the short blast of “HA!” -- a laugh trait I never really noticed before my son inherited it from him.

“Now it is pretty clear he has an opinion about everything and he’s not afraid to share it.”

Like when he storms clear across the room to lay his random thoughts* on some kid patiently waiting for the craft table to open up:


He gets THAT from me … There’s a reason why I’m suddenly talking about the cat while discussing the disappearance of the yellow and blue winter coat Ittybit handed down to The Champ.

“Oh, glad you found it. Yes, yes. I was wondering what happened to his coat. … That stupid cat!”

*It’s not really random. I blame her for its vanishing.

It is true that my son’s communicative skills are blossoming with such speed I think it’s forcing him to stutter:

“My-my-my-my dad is working,” he says with a smile, pointing as we pass the garbage hauler. “He-He-He-He drives that truck.”

The glint in his eye reflects the little devil inside.

Not to mention the slight tinge Eddie Haskleism he shares with his sister.

“He was so cute, today,” continues the librarian. “A little girl started crying and he went over and put his arm around her. ‘It’s ok, It’s OK’ he said.”

I could hear my dad’s pride swell.

“Yeah, but what she doesn’t know is that he spent the morning trying to balance things on her head while she screamed for him to stop.”

Sweet, adorable, amenable Silas, who quietly goes about doing whatever it is he wants to three feet below the rest of the world.

He’s already figured out we’ll blame the cat.

“MOM! RAT!!!” screamed Annabel this morning minutes before we were to leave the house.

“Wha ….?” I stammer as I tug my attention away from trying to pull both of the boys lower limbs out of his left pant leg.


I hulk over to the place she’s jumped three feet from, where she found what appeared to be (from my viewing of it) the headless, tailless torso of a squirrel wedged between the cushions of the chair.

I jump back. "That's no rat."

My mind races with squirrel-like precision: Wha? Oh my g… I don’t want to touch … How am I … Cat. Outside. Call Jed … double bag my hands? What kind of sick, twisted pet hides their kills in a chair? What do I do … the body? Uh .... CAAAAAAAAAAAAT!

After pacing back and forth, I find plastic bags and make my approach. I peel away the cushion and the thing flops lightly onto the seat.

Light and airy like. ... Just as if it were the last crust of olive bread the boy begged for the previous night.

When he was sitting in that chair.

I turn around to see his squinty eyed, twisted mouth expression looking right at me.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What dangers lurk under the sink so rare?

There’s a leak in the drain of my kitchen sink.

A slow leak that is even slower in getting repaired.

I’ve learned to work around it. I’ve propped a double-sided utility caddy under the drain; one side catches the drips, the other contains the various detergents and scrubs used in the weekly cleaning exploits of yours truly.

On the occasion of cleaning other parts of the house, I check the levels and find an inch or so of water needing to be dumped.

Occasionally we go away on the weekend … and then the following weekend, perhaps, we make other plans. The grime and gunk around other parts of the house build up.

As does the pool of water in the caddy.

How many weekends has it been since I checked? I wonder.

What I found was dreadful. Horrifying even.

Two. Dead. Mice.

Two sodden, matted little corpses, floating in either ends of the plastic bin.


Oh … it seems so tame, doesn’t it? It seems so much like the daily diary of any frustrated housewife.

No one really cares what’s under your sink. Rodents floating in an inch of water, in a place one keeps their toxic chemicals to clean an inch of dust, matters not in a world where toxic assets have cleaned out entire retirement savings.

Yet this terrible discovery is what I’m thinking about as I’m reading “Sir Ryan’s Quest,” a charmingly drawn and beautifully written story by Jason Deeble about a little boy who meets the King of the Pots under his kitchen counter and goes on a journey of epic proportions in the otherwise mundane corners of his house.

But two people I know really do care what’s under the sink. They aren't even squeamish. There is adventure to be had.

Even Silas, at the grand old age of two, can spot the man living in Deeble's jungle closet. He screams in delight over the basement cave’s moldy monster. Annabel, likewise, giggles in anticipation as Sir Ryan's Quest leads from room to room.

Both kids adore the language, which adheres itself to a poetic chivalry of another age. It’s a joy to read aloud.

And I have to admit, I adore the message: Adventure is everywhere, even in the relative safety of home.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Scratch 'Life One,' first race


I know that cats aren't the smartest animals on the planet (Sorry, cat lovers, I'm sticking with this belief) but ours takes the pumpkin.

This morning as we were waiting with Ittybit for the bus, the little fur-bag-of-a-jerk (as I lovingly call her) leapt out (squirrel-like) into rush-hour traffic.

She would have been a greasy puddle of goo right in front of her tiny owners' eyes had she not heeded the blaring horn of the car that could have killed her.

Now, we have done everything we can think of to keep her indoors, but Houdini Kitty is determined to terrorize the neighborhood. (I mean that literally, as I've learned our neighbor -- a VERY, VERY, VERY nice woman who dotes on the kids -- is terrified of cats.)

I'm not sure if there's anything we can do to make sure she doesn't use up her remaining eight lives before the week is out.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Get a jump on The Creep this weekend

creepy , originally uploaded by toyfoto.


You guys know I’m all about the scary, right?

Well. … Kind of. ...

(Skip down the last entry for the event of the season my scare-dy-cat, watches-frightful-movies-from-the-kitchen-through-the safety-of-my-hands’-covered-face won’t be attending thankyouverymuch).

But still, I just love the costumes and the candy and the little boys and ghouls ringing my door bell to wrench the M&Ms and Almond Joys from my greedy, gluttonous fingers.

So I’m excited to return to the weekend report with a little SPIRIT OF THE SEASON …

at Kettle Farms in Hoosick Falls for a few hours this or any weekend through Nov. 8. Those who find their way out of the farms’ 22-acre, professionally designed corn maze can take part in other silly (if-not appropriately themed) seasonal events including contests, pumpkin picking, firing off a corn cannon or a pumpkin slingshot. For added excitement, take a flashlight tour of the maze, offered on Friday and Saturday nights in October until 10 p.m.

And if you haven’t decided what’s going on the family holiday card this year, check out the farm’s new overlook bridge, where you can get a bird’s eye view of the maze and have your picture taken.

Admission is $9 for adults (ages 12 and older), $7 for kids (4 to 11) and free for tots under three. Trick or Treaters can visit in costume on Halloween and receive $1 off admission to the maze. A masquerade parade and costume contest are planned.

Tammy’s Candy Kettle Restaurant will also offer a menu selection of fall favorites, including fresh apple cider, corn chowder and roasted sweet corn. There’s sadly no Web site (hint-to-the-HINT) but you can call Tammy at 686-0992 to get the low down.

KNICK AT NIGHT: Knickerbocker Mansion, 132 Knickerbocker Road, Schaghticoke, is giving evening tours of the mansion from 6 to 9 tonight and tomorrow night, with particular focus paid to ghosts of the mansion’s past. Souper Supper is also available. Tour is $5, $6 for soup, served throughout the evening. Visit for more information.

TRICK OR TREAT, OWL: SMELL MY FEET, RABBIT: Grafton Lakes State Park is hosting a "trick or treat" evening nature walk tonight at dusk. Call 279-1155 if you dare (or don’t have a reservation). Free.

POPCORN AND SCREAMS: The Troy Public Library, 100 Second St., will show "Coraline," Saturday at 2 p.m. Moviegoers under seven years of age must be accompanied by an adult. Refreshments will be served. Free.

HAUNTED HOUSE: COARC, Greenport Rescue Squad and the Hudson Department of Youth host the ninth annual Operation Pumpkin haunted house at COARC’s Promenade Hill Center, 11 Warren St., Hudson on Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m. The event features a haunted alley, Dracula’s pub, a mad scientist’s laboratory, the dungeon, a spiders’ den and other breath-catching surprises.

The Pumpkin Patch offers more tame excitements for little ghosts and goblins. A costume contest for the cutest, funniest, scariest, prettiest and most original costumes will be held. Judging of the costumes begins at 6:15 p.m. Popcorn, cookies, candy and cider will be served.

Best of all … it’s free. Mmmmmmwaaaaahhhh ah ah! Call 672-4451 or visit for more information.


Find out on Halloween when Troy Family YWCA hosts its Annual Monster Madness Dash - 5K on Saturday, Oct. 31 starting at 9 a.m. Costumes are highly encouraged. The course leads participants through Frear Park. A Kids Fun Run will step off at 9:45 a.m. Fees are $30, $20 for registrations postmarked by Oct. 29. The kids’ race is free. Proceeds benefit the Y’s annual youth campaign. Registration forms available for download at

GHOSTS HAVE CULTURE, TOO: St. Paul’s Church in Troy and the American Guild of Organists (Eastern NY Chapter) are hosting an afternoon of creepy music, scary stories and goulish marches for little goblins of all ages from noon to 2 p.m. on Halloween. Call 273-7351 to attend.

FRIGHT NIGHT: What better way to spend all-hallows eve eve but skulking around a funeral parlor? On Friday, Oct. 30, Wenk Funeral Home on Payne Avenue in Chatham will come alive with the undead in what is sure to be the scariest event of the season. Not for the squeamish, though, the haunted house is not recommended for children under 12. Admission is $5 and proceeds will. benefit the Chatham High Drama Club, Junior Class and the Northern Columbia County Rotary Club. For more information, visit nccrhauntedhouse

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ditching plans (and pants) on the road to enlightenment

For most of us, I think I can safely say, traveling with young children is an exercise in patience and prayer.

"Please, oh please, oh please GOD-I-WISH-I-COULD-BELIEVE-IN, please don't let this boy melt down here. Not in the middle of the terminal while I'm schlepping two bags, a coat and his now slack body, gone limp because there just wasn't time to put him down on the moving sidewalk. There's only 10 minutes left until the plane is scheduled to be in the sky and we haven't found the gate, let alone the shoe I just discovered missing from his foot."

"Mommy," says his sister. "I have to pee."

Please, oh please, oh please.

For me, travel is kind of like childbirth. All the planning in the world doesn't ensure it will go smoothly. Late connections, like non-progressive contractions, can change the whole thing.

Of course, there's also the time changes. Three hours difference from east to west ensures the kids will be up at 4 a.m. Pacific, demanding breakfast that won't be available until 7 a.m.

"I told you we should have stopped at a grocery store," my inner critic jabs. They settle for $2 pretzels from the honor bar.

where are your pants?

Leave the kids alone in the room for a few minutes as you relieve your travel-worn bladder and you may find one of them not wearing pants upon your return.

"Where did they go?"

"In der," he says in his man-boy voice, proudly signaling to the safe in the closet sans closable door.

It's not nearly as funny to you in the momement as it is the clerk at the front desk, who wonders if he knows the combination. Then you laugh.

It's inevitable. There's never enough snacks, bathroom breaks or pants packed away when you travel with us, no matter how much we've planned.

The expression flying by the seat of one's pants could have been coined for us.

Although we hear the perfunctory are-we-there-yets, neither child is intent on wordy repetition. Instead we talk about the drive, and the things we see along the way that are different from the things we've seen up until then.

It hurts my husband's soul a little when he can't lure his son out of the play area on the ferry to see the vistas of Vancouver as we make our way to a family wedding.

They are more interested in understanding the process than seeing the sites.

How many days are we staying?

How many hotels.

Will there be a zoo?

A museum?

Can we get a special?

Are we having dessert for dinner one night?

Can I be a flower girl?

Will there be games?

Eventually, though, the enormity of the endeavor comes into sharp focus.

Upon passing our first border checkpoint and learning Canada doesn't stamp the passports, disappointment wafts in the air.

All that work to get and no stamp to say we'd gone some place.

No matter. The information center where we stop for directions offers almost immediate redemption. It looks like a rock building and has a waterfall coming down its far wall. It's a thing of beauty to a five-year-old.

"SWEET! I LOVE Canada!"

Disappointment is fleeting when you keep moving forward.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My kids ....


have a way with animals.

Even some non-domesticated varieties ...

in other countries ...

Heron on the dock

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It was family night at the clip shop

She was on board.

He was on board.

He was being brave.

But then something terrible happened ...

He saw his dad get his hair cut, and he wasn't impressed.

Better luck next time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Breakfast IS the most important meal

a-heh, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I took a left when I should have taken a right.

As I turned I knew I'd gone in the wrong direction.

I thought about turning around.

One street. Two streets. A mile of streets. Another mile of streets.

Might as well keep going. Eventually we'll find something I recognize.

"You don't KNOW where we ARE!?!"

"I said that out loud, didn't I?"

"We're LOST?"

"We're not lost, really. I know generally where we are, I just don't know exactly where we are."

"You know what this means, right?"

"It's going to take us longer to get home?"

"No. We are going to have to sleep in our car, and in the morning we'll have to go to one of these houses and beg for food. ... Only they probably won't give food to you, because nobody will give food to an adult ... so I'll have to go up to the door and you'll have to hide in the bushes. ..."

"I am not hiding in the bushes. We are not going to pull a bait and switch on a homeowner. Besides, we are NOT going to be lost for long ... I'll find the highway and we'll be home before you know it."

"You know. ... if they have oatmeal you will have to eat it. Beggars can't be choosers."

"We are not going to have to beg for food. Look, there's a sign for the highway. We're almost back to where we started."

She's quiet for a while as I turn onto the highway.

"Ah ... mom?"

"What, hon?"

"We're on the highway?"


"You know what this means, right?"

"We'll be home soon?"

"No. It means we are going to STARVE. There are no houses on this road."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mr. Random visits the Literal Island

At a party tonight:

Host: Hey, Pal. How do you like those trucks?

The Champ: *looks up ... looks behind him ... looks back to host*

Who's Pal?

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Recuperating Chair


There's a chair in the house.

It's square-ish in shape and smack-dab in the prime viewing range of the television.

It's perfect for relaxing when you're feeling a little run down.

Ittybit sat there most of the day yesterday, shaking off the effects of her big-deal-dental-appointment.

This morning she was feeling much better.

It's nice to see her smile again.

Even if her teeth are filled with silver.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Dentistry done and all's A-OK, except ...

chloe aubrey

The blonde trollop and brunette smarty hot-pants *I picked out* will be returning to the store ...

Where *SHE* will likely choose the exact same dolls.


Um ... I wonder how Those ^^^^ words up there are going to taste when I eat them. ...

She stopped feeling woozy around three o'clock and so we went to exchange the dolls.

She was adamant that BRATZ was the brand for her.

We stood in the tarted up plastics fashion doll department for about a hour taking down, lining up and inspecting the six different choices of Bratz.

She hemmed, hawed. She chose. She reconsidered. Couldn't decide.

And then she headed for the Barbie aisle "just to see." There were about 55 choices.

She found "Pinky" right off.

the replacement

And then, she saw "Cooking Show Barbie."

and action

Fifty years of a plastic fashion icons and her tiny lifetime of Food Network viewing can't be wrong.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


These two. Weirdos.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I know this will cost me in readership

It's definitely NOT going to win me any new fans.

But it may help a little girl be brave in the face of a big dentist appointment on Thursday.

And oddly enough, deciding it is only a doll has a calming affect on me, too.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Things Annabel learned this weekend

lamb, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Lambs are very cute.

Lambs are VERY loud.

Lambs are *kinda* stinky.

Sheep cheese is a little sour tasting.

Sheep cheese makers have lambs all year long (not just in spring).

And so long as the door to the nursery shed is open, visitors are welcome.

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Sheep Cheese Makers.

Friday, October 02, 2009

October is fright-full month

like weather in NY  (revisited)

Thoughts are whirling around ... so much packed into a single day. And so much still to do.

In addition to it being all-sorts-of-bad-things-Awareness Month, October is a harrowing time for me.

Ittybit has the BIG dentist appointment next week wherein they will dope her up and drill holes in her mouth so they can fill the decay that is forming there. I don't usually bite my nails, but am considering taking up the filty habit just for this nervous-breakdown event.

(I'd appreciate it if you could think of us next Thursday. I'm not above praying to a god I don't believe in (Hypocrite!) if it will have any affect on keeping my little corner of the world safe from complications.)

Today the Champ had his urology appointment to check his hydronephrosis. I had to hold him - kicking and screaming - through a 20-minute ultrasound, and then wait for the doctor's consultation for another 45 minutes, during which he wriggled, wailed and begged to "GO HOME."

The upside of the two-hour scream/wait-fest is that his kidney, "while not substantially better, is certainly no worse." They don't want to see him again until next October.

Of course the two OTHER pieces of good news in this medically trying day happened as we were waiting for them to call his name -- 1. They pronounced it correctly and didn't yell "CIALIS;" and 2. A little boy went up to Silas and pushed him pretty hard. I was ready to deal with Silas striking back, but instead he told the little boy in the BIG BOY voice, "YOU NOT PUSH ME!, OK?"

The kid's answer: "OK!"

And just like that the problem solved without consternation or intervention.

I'm not sure if I really had anything to do with The Champ using his words instead of his fists, but I'm still going to lick my finger and take the point:

SCORE ONE against Domestic Violence.