Thursday, February 28, 2008

Born in the 21st Century

Aaron and I have taken great effort to make sure our kids will not become media obsessed. We don't have cable or satellite, just plain old rabbit ears. Until last August, we had no video game consoles or equipment of any kind. We thought we were doing well.

But we have failed. Both our children are total media addicts.

I really do try to stick to no more than 2 hours of TV a day, and all of it is educational PBS shows...Curious George (math & science...really. It's great), Clifford (social skills), Piggly Winks (or Jakers! It has taught Leah to ask: What did YOU do when you were little? Which is completely charming.)

And I read an article (here) that said that educational tv has no impact on kids' attention spans. So that's good. I feel better about that extra half hour or so that I resort to once in awhile.

But seriously. Leah is obsessed with Ruff Ruffman (or Fetch! as the network calls it.) She has figured out delayed gratification, so she'll watch one show with Ben after his nap, then wait and hour and a half until Ruff is on. And if she's not adequately entertained, this is what I hear for that 90 minute period:

"Is Ruff on?"
"Is it time for Ruff yet?"
"Is Ruff on yet?"

Did I say 90 minutes? BECAUSE IT FEELS LIKE 90 HOURS.

And just because Ben doesn't talk yet, don't think he doesn't have his own issues. The boy LOVES the Wii. It probably doesn't help that we use the projector screen for it, so the characters are as big as he is. And there's lots of colors, and's perfectly mesmerizing.

Everytime we go downstairs, he grabs a Wii remote (I TRY to keep them in drawers...) and points and grunts at the console and then the screen. He usually does pretty well if I just say, "No, we're not playing right now," and do something else. But those remotes are practically his loveies.

Have I mentioned that he's almost saying "Dora"? The rare time they watch a video, he practically levitates he's so excited. I REALLY don't want his first word to be cartoon character.

I'm pretty sure Leah learned her ABC's from Sesame Street, so I'm not worried about the content. But I sure feel like a slacker when I hear some moms say their kids watch one show, or none...

They are good kids, and they will also sit and read books, or play "imaginative play" for long periods of time, too, so I won't get too worried. It's just part of living in the 21st Century, I guess.

Now, HOW long until new The Office episodes?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pictures Not Taken

Here is a lovely photo of my kids. Leah is reading a book to Ben, which is a win-win-win situation. Ben gets his story, Leah feels important, and of course, Aaron and I don't have to read that book for the fortieth time today.
But this isn't a story of photos that we've taken.
This weekend Aaron was working, which of course meant that I was too...with the option of naps, playing on the internet, and watching tv. Such HARD work.
Anyway. Here are the times I wished that there had been someone around with a camera:
Saturday, when I walked with Ben in the yard, 2 feet deep with snow. Him with snow boots, me without. THAT's sacrifice, folks.
That morning while at church, when both kids sat so sweetly at their little kid table while Mommy ate and visited with the adults. They ate their whole lunches and didn't whine even one little bit.
Sunday, as we were in Sam's Club for the second time in two days, and I didn't once have to chase either of them down. A friend (and mom of 4 was stunned that I wasn't using a cart. So was I. AND SO PLEASED WITH MYSELF.
That afternoon, during a snowball fight in our front yard. Leah threw them at me from about a two foot range, and I threw at both the kids. Oh, they had soo much fun! Even after I nailed Leah in the face (she was standing too far away! I couldn't aim properly!) and she got a bit of a bloody lip, she still wanted to keep going. Ben got some snow down his shirt, but as soon as it melted he was all smiles again. We were outside for half an hour, which for this kitty is quite the accomplishment.
Monday after Ben's nap. He must have still been sleepy, or just feeling extremely cat-like himself, because for about 20 minutes we sat in the sun with his head on my knee, while I rubbed his back or kissed his face...he would have purred if he could. Oh, my sweet boy. Then he heard Leah turn on the tv and the spell was broken. But I soaked up every minute of it.
In these moments, I try extra hard to be IN THE MOMENT, and pay attention to my child's smile and touch, and just enjoy it. I don't want to think about how soon these times will be just a photograph in my memory.

Monday, February 25, 2008

PBS vs. Prairie Public

Commenter Noel is so sharp! My "upcoming attractions" for Masterpiece Theater is indeed from PBS, not our local station, Prairie Public. And none of those shows (after Austen's) are listed for March on Prairie Public.

In fact, I'll have to wait until March 23rd to see Emma. Stink-O. There is, however, a behind-the-scenes thingy on March 2nd. Oh well. Maybe I can use those Sunday evenings to watch some of the other versions! YES! There's my plan! I need not be Austen-free for two whole weeks! SAVED!

Thanks, Noel, for the head's up. Fargo probably has better weather today than Amsterdam anyway, right? Right?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

Oh, how I love this movie. Its conclusion had both Aaron and I laughing out loud several times, and me encouraging Lizzie to "just KISS him, already!" Aaron also realized that one of the reasons I love him is because he's a Mr. Darcy - a crotchety exterior surrounding a sentimental romantic core. Gotta love it.

The scene where Darcy essentially asks Lizzie to stop toying with him if her feelings haven't changed...oh, my stomach was doing those lovely flip-flops for a while!

I've already discussed the merits of this film, but just wanted to be clear: Mrs. Bennett drives me bonkers. My true sympathy lies with Kitty, since she is going to have to live in that house with just her mother and sister Mary, who is the Jane Austen version of SNL's Debbie Downer. I just hope in her fictional world that she marries soon. Otherwise she risks going mad.

Jane Austen's books don't usually contain a great deal of social criticism (just commentary!), but in the scene with Lady Catherine, Austen comes close to destroying a tenuous hierarchy. Lizzie says, "He is a gentleman, and I am a gentleman's daughter; we are equal," which nearly sends Lady C spinning. And yet, in Emma (up next...and highly anticipated by this reader), Emma's main motivation is to uphold that very same hierarchy. It is interesting to see Austen play both would seem that she's not necessarily using her novels as a soapbox, although she definitely supports marrying for love, and marrying well!

I have decided to use up some of our Netflix queue space with the Austen movies released in the last 15 years. BBC did the whole set in the 60's & 70's, but I'm not sure I want to relive that. If you've seen one of them and are sure that I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT VIEWING IT, please let me know, and I'll be happy to oblige. See, there I go, getting all Austen again. I think it's time to finish.

But before I do, coming up on Masterpiece theater following Sense & Sensibility are A Room with a View, and My Boy Jack, which features Daniel Radcliffe (you know, that guy from the Harry Potter movies) as the son of Rudyard Kipling. It also stars Kim Cattrall, who was in some show called Sex in the City, I think.

And after THAT is Cranford, which I know nothing about except that it features Judi Dench and Imelda Staunton (the ultimate teacher from hell...also in the HP movies). So I will be watching it.

Old School

I'm going to try to get fired up here, folks. I sure was this morning when I read this dumb editorial! Aaron always asks why I read them's obviously because I like to argue. And be right. But after attending church this morning (and having tea, not coffee!) I find myself too at peace to get really riled up. Let's see how I do anyway.

THIS editorial happened to be by the Editorial Page Editor, which makes me REALLY angry that it was written. Zaleski seems to be type of person who says things like, "WE didn't have these car seats, and WE were just fine...", "Lead paint never hurt US!" and equally crazy things. (I always think...sure, it didn't hurt YOU...but what about all the others who aren't here to say that?)

I'm going to assume that he wasn't really seriously telling "bright young people: avoid teaching in public schools." I'm hoping he was being dramatic. Because if he wasn't...I don't think the public schools of ND need a person of (somewhat) authority to be pointing out that there are better places to be employed. And schools in general definitely don't need to have bright young people discouraged from the profession. It's not a career folks automatically gravitate towards...unless they are born to be teachers, as I like to think I am. So I may be a bit biased in the rest of this post.

Zaleski cites an incident (article here) locally where a Spanish teacher "shoved, hit or pushed" a student. The teacher was put on leave and then resigned. This SAME TEACHER (in 2003) had also mooned her track team to get them to smile for a photo. In my own knowledge of the situation, those two incidents by the same teacher show a lack of judgement.

Also, I had the opportunity to talk to someone this weekend that knew much more of the situation than the Forum published. She said the resignation was a good thing for the district (her personnel file has been expunged, implying that there was something bad in it...), and was necessary for the teacher to keep her teaching license...because she WOULD HAVE been fired, and then lost it. So watch out for teachers mooning students at a school near you.

Zaleski then goes on to tell how three of his best teachers were "disciplinarians" who used methods that would be firing offenses now. Great for him. This fact does not mean that good teachers hit their students. It means he was lucky in those particular teachers.

However, here is the great fallacy: Discipline DOES NOT MEAN getting physical. Saying "discipline a student, get fired" is just as ridiculous as saying "discipline your child, get reported". Yes, spanking is a FORM of discipline that I occasionally use, but it's not the ONLY form. Time outs work just as well for seniors in high school as they do for pre-schoolers. I just called them "Go to the hallway." Or the office, for that matter. A "great disciplinarian" could just a likely be the teacher who never has to touch a student, or even raise her voice. I've seen many of them.

Zaleski also implies that it is IMPOSSIBLE to keep order without getting physical. Whatever. Either he thinks that public schools are running wild with lack of order, or he thinks that EVERY teachers is hitting their students. He needs to realize that our society has changed: Parent are more worried about what their kids think of them than what other adults think of their kids, and everyone has gotten more litigious. Teachers have had to change their methods, and I don't think that corporal punishment was a big loss to the system. Kids scared of getting hit don't concentrate well, unless its on keeping out of the teacher's way.

To me, hitting a student (or, like a music teacher of mine, throwing something...) shows that you don't have control of YOURSELF, not the classroom. It shows a lack of swearing too much shows that you don't have a large enough vocabulary to express yourself properly.

By the way, while student teaching I DID slam a book on three consecutive desks...because the 10th graders were sleeping. They weren't happy about it, but I didn't hear from parents, either. I have also touched or held students on the shoulder, and never heard a word about it. Holding a kid up against a locker? I don't think I'd want ANY adult doing that to my kid. No matter what the kid did. THE PARENT can deal with that...during their suspension.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Today I was at church helping prepare for the next quarter of Sunday School. It was assembly line-style at its best, and it was fun to chat with education-minded folks (who know MUCH more about the school district than I do!) while another kind soul watched my own kids.

The tools of our trade involve large paper cutters - the ones with scary looking blades. And those weapons brought back this memory...

Back in the old days (before Leah was born and I was still teaching), we were required to watch a blood-born pathogen video twice a year. It was always the same video, so it was THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEMESTER. As you can imagine.

At one particular point in this wonderful video, a teacher is using a paper cutter, and needless to say, does not notice that there is a GUARD. They slice their thumb.

This is the only part of the video I remember. But even MORE clearly I remember how the entire staff cowered in dread of that particular scene, and as it happened, a collective groan effectively blocked out the lecture afterwards.

And that is where anticipation comes in, folks. It's a double- edged sword - scratch that - a catch-22. It's what makes Christmas and birthdays so much fun. It would be quite different if out of nowhere your folks just said Suprise! It's your birthday! Here's a bunch of presents! I mean, it's not like I wouldn't take them. But still.

At the same time, it's also what makes kids (and moms) dread shots. Our pediatrician says kids usually aren't wary of shots until they are about 3 or 4 - and unfortunately, age 5 is when they get the most. Moms of new babies go through it, too...every 2 months. The best system is when there are two nurses and they do the shotes at the same there's no more anticipation than necessary.

Or how about going to the dentist, or vacations, or childbirth, or moving, or a new job, or the first day of school....

Anticipation is the only reason I went through this elaborate process for the happiness of my child. A couple years ago we got Leah a play kitchen. We didn't want it to be a Christmas gift (that's another post, folks), so we gave it to her between Thanksgiving and the 25th. I felt like it would be highly anticlimatic (after all the sneaking we did to actually buy the thing AND get it home WHILE SHE WAS WITH US) to just say Here you go! Have fun! So I made Aaron go along with my crazy plan. I wound red yarn through the house, starting in her room and going upstairs. While Aaron was helping her follow it, telling her there was a surprise at the other end, I put the kitchen in her room and ended the yarn there. And when she made her way back, she had a big grin on her face...It's a Kitchen! Like, JUST IN CASE YOU DIDN'T KNOW.

I like to think it made it much more fun for her. It definitely did for me.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Funny Stuff

This HAS to be funny if I've heard about it from two unrelated girlfriends AND it's on Dooce. The scary thing is, some of these NO'S are pretty close to reality. I'm going to assume that sticking your finger into your kid's nose is okay once they are old enough to fight back.

Also, overheard the other night while Aaron is playing Wii with the kids:

Leah: He beat you up the butt!!
I mean, he beat your pants off. That's better.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I 'Heart' Andre

My laptop is no longer pouting! This preteen has finally resolved her issues, thanks to some very good support from Andre at Toshiba. What a godsend! I was concerned that I would not be able to understand the IT person, either because of accent or computer terminology.

Instead, Andre was patient with my questions and even laughed at my self-deprecating comments! And as everyone knows, the surest way to my heart is to laugh at my jokes. That, and complement my kids. Which fortunately Andre didn't have a chance to do, since my kids were successfully "plugged in" to PBS for the entire conversation.

The problem seemed to be Microsoft downloads, so we reset the computer to about 4 days before those stupid programs hit. AND WE'RE BACK ONLINE.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Leah sez...

(Leah has previously asked us about a zillion questions on a variety of topics, and sometimes repeated herself if we don't answer quickly enough)

Me: Leah, WHY do you ask so many questions?
Leah: 'Cause I want to KNOW stuff!
Aaron: That's a good answer, Leah! (At least it's not just to be annoying!)

The other day I did some packing up in her room. I took down the Barbie tent that's been up since last summer, and put away a suitcase of dress up stuff. I also threw away a BUNCH of GARBAGE. Literal garbage: strips from Netflix envelopes, pieces of paper with a scribble on them, pencil topper Happy Meal toys, Sunday School papers from Christmas.

I did all this while Aaron was mesmerizing the kids with Wii. Then I vaccumed, rearranged a bit, and asked Leah to some back and see her room. I was a little nervous she'd freak out.
Mommy: LOOK at your ROOM!
Leah: It's so much BIGGER! THANKS, Mommy!

It's still good, I promise!

Aaron and I have been married for eight years, and I've spent a portion of that time informing him that certain foods don't go bad. At least not very. OR not without warning.

He doesn't even argue anymore - just shakes his head, kind of like when you humor the crazy person talking to you at the store. You know those people. The ones who start telling you all sorts of private stuff and/or asking you questions...I think they are mostly just lonely. And weird. While working at Barnes & Noble, I once had a lady lift her shirt to display her pregnant belly. "Don't you think I'm having twins?" HOW DO YOU ANSWER THAT?

But I digress.

Here is a short list of foods that never go bad, at least not within the expected time and/or without bells and whistles:

yogurt (it's spoiled milk, dude! How much more "bad" can it get?)

soup (I almost only make vegetarian soups, by the way, so this helps!)


juice - it may turn into wine, but that's not bad. Orange juice will let you know when it's too old.

eggs - last much longer than expected.

cheese - just slice off the green & white spots, and you're good to go!

cream cheese

frosting - WAYYY too much sugar to go bad. It's like honey that way, and we all know that honey is good for literally centuries, right?

olives - they are sitting in the food version of formaldyhyde. Not very appetizing, but a preservative, none-the-less.

jam/jelly - of course, I think it's bad if it has stray peanut butter in it...but that's another post.

almost any condiment...just take a good whiff first.

One of the great things about having a blog is that you go searching the Internet for information you never would normally have even considered. Google is my friend. And I found this site, which actually supports my list! Somewhat. He also says to put only the most nutritious (read: freshest) foods in our body, so that bottle of salad dressing I moved with us from Rochester 3 1/2 years ago should probably get tossed. Boo.


Overheard today at gymnastics:

"Last night I took my daughter to Grand Forks to see High School Musical on ice. Only in North Dakota would someone drive 70 miles in -40 degree see something on ICE."

We are at the coldest point of the winter...unless it gets colder. It's -17 right now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Irony? Or message from God?

Yes, I'm a former English teacher, and I taught dramatic irony and situational irony, and all sorts of stuff like that. And "irony" is definitely an overused word.

And yes, I've read that Alanis Morrisett's song "Ironic" is a misuse of that word.

So I'm going to side with "message from God".

This article was in the paper today.
I won't even get into the issues regarding a paster owning a private jet.

Shall we discuss how the "Prosperity Gospel" is totally anti-Biblical? Not only is it not SUPPORTED Biblically, it's purt' near denounced. I'm fairly certain that Peter wasn't rolling in cash when he was travelling, which is why he stayed in believers' homes. And that whole "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also?" thing? That's in the Bible, right?

In fact, I would be more supportive of preaching that it's OKAY to be financially comfortable and be a believer of Christ. Because those two things are more incongruent when you examine scripture.

Actually, maybe it IS ironic. After all, you'd expect a church that preaches that success is a sign of God's love would be over-flowing with cash. Surprise!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Midway Commentary

As I've been reminded recently, this is a blog that should at least REFER to Jane Austen periodically. I may have seemed a bit lax recently, but I was debating whether or not to post considering that the Masterpiece Theater Austen movie is Pride & Prejudice, and it's in three installments.

But, I got over it.

I love Pride & Prejudice, and until I had read all Austen's books, I probably couldn't have said why. But now that I have, I realize that a lot of the attraction of this particular novel is that that it REALLY IS about Lizzie and Darcy falling in love. It's not about how others came to approve and support their relationship, or how HE came around to it, or SHE came around to's about their relationship, together.

Granted, she takes a bit longer. But it's all that stinkin' Wentworth's fault!

Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie is wonderful, because she perfectly reflects Lizzie's thoughts onto her face. Lizzie is not a restrained sort of person - you pretty much know how she's feeling. And Ehle carries that through. Somewhere I read an observation that Lizzie didn't fall in love with Darcy until she realizes exactly HOW RICH he is, when veiwing Pemberly for the first time. This is a lovely aspect of many of Austen's heroines - the ability to be both romantic (marry for LOVE! and LOVE only!) and pragmatic (but that money is NICE!).

And Colin Firth...ahh. He's just about the ideal Darcy, and I would be highly critical of a new version with someone else...wait. Didn't they just do one? With Kiera Knightly as Lizzie? And them actually married, MAKING OUT at the end? Just wrong. My old-fashioned side likes movies to end with a kiss, preferably at the altar. Tangent.

Six hours is positively indulgent for this novel. I would love for every decent novel to have a movie this dedicated. We get all the lovely intrigue and side stories, along with time to actully FEEL their attractions grow. Austen's writing is too complete to rush through. Are you catching her humor? Really, I've been known to laugh out loud while reading.

Remind me to quote you a line from Emma when it's up.

I'm also feeling an urge to watch multiple versions of these lovely novels...which I'm sure will be the highlight of Aaron's week!

Dinner for one

As mentioned earlier, we celebrate V-day after the fact. Our intentions were to go out for dinner Saturday night, leaving the kids at a friend's house.

Here's a brief sketch of what Saturday ended up being:

7am- 2pm - I am gone with buddy Crystal shopping for fabric . If you are a seamstress or quilter, I would bring along astronaut undies, cause it'll make you wet your pants, it's so full of great fabrics. Assistants Geneve and I had a blast recommending and advising. And I escaped with only $50 damage!

2pm - back at home. Vaccum upstairs, since it's been 2 WEEKS.

4pm - Birthday party for playgroup pal at a gymnastics center. Leah has a total blast. Ben runs around for about a half hour, and for the next HOUR demands to be held only by me, and ONLY if I'm standing. Both kids enjoy pizza, but Ben won't eat even ice cream. At the first mention of going home, he starts whining, which soon escalates into a full blown wail. I'm moving as quickly as I can to get both kids out of there. They leave with more loot than they came with.

6pm - I have already called friend Suzi about 10 times today, setting up the caretaking. Now, however, Ben is running a fever and is acting extremely lethargic. And did I mention CRABBY? We're not sure if he's actually sick or just teething, so we cancel with Suzi just to be safe. And now it seems that Aaron's only fun thing of the day has been cancelled as well.

We order Chinese. While Aaron is picking it up, Ben goes to bed.

7pm - We eat a candlelight dinner, complete with the flowers, sparkling cider...and a preschooler. Leah is still awake, and of course wants to be involved! She has already eaten a bowl of grapes, but also eats some rice and a Chinese donut. I give her a fortune cookie. "Why did you give me this Chinese cookie?" she asks. "To keep you quiet," I tell her honestly.

1 minute later she says, "I'm all done with my cookie. I'm not being quiet anymore...." with the most innocent grin on her face.

8pm - 13-year old neighbor girl M comes over. Leah gets to stay up to play with her for a bit, and Aaron and I leave to go on a mini-date. We enjoy warm drinks and dessert at Barnes & Noble while perusing a copy of People magazine.

Ahhh, love in the real world.

Future husbands, take note.

Our lovely 6-month old laptop has decided that it is mad at the Internet, and like most moody pre-teens (it's 2 human years each month of computers, right?) it's not telling us WHAT the problem is, even after HOURS of offering different options and solutions. IT'S STILL POUTING. Right now I'm giving it the silent treatment.

OH, there's so much to fill you in on! I'll break it up into smaller chunks for easier digestion.

FIRST of all, our MOMS club shared (in quiz form) how we met or became engaged to our husbands. And they are great. If you know a young man who is searching for just the right way to propose, one of these may do the trick. And who says you have to be smooth to win the girl of your dreams? Sometimes all it takes is a shared experience:

"I had just had jaw surgery - my face was still swollen and discolored and my mouth wired shut. His opening line was "Did you have jaw surgery? I did too, a few years ago. Have you tried pizza in the blender yet?"

It was Easter - he sent me on an Easter Egg Scavenger hunt. Inside each egg was a clue to the next. The last egg was in the trunk of his car - I found an adorable bunny, with a chain that said "I do" and then when I turned around he was on one knee.

He proposed during a game of Monopoly. He hadn't really been planning on doing it then, but he kept landing on "Luxury Tax" - you know, the space with the ring on it.

He brought a bag of White Castle sliders (very small hamburgers) over to my parent's house. He had wrapped the engagement ring box in one of the wrappers so that it looked like the others. He said, "Want some sliders? I'm full." I said, "Ew..." and proceeded to feed them to the family dog. He started to look anxious and siad, "Give me that bag!" Then he gave me the ring. I'm glad the dog didn't eat it!"

He proposed to me on Christmas. HIs present to me that year was a new pair of gloves and he had hidden the ring in the ring finger of the gloves. I remember him being very eager for me to try on those gloves!

I was helping him put groceries away at his new apartment. I opened the fridge and in it was a ring, champagne, 2 glasses and a post-it note that said "Will you marry me?"

Take note, gentlemen! The bar has been set!

My own romantic husband proposed on our drive to his parent's house for a visit. We planned to stop in the Badlands and watch the sun set, and brought along sparkling cider for the occaision. I remember that as we were driving up to the lookout point, I though, "Wouldn't it be weird if he proposed now?" But we had discussed that he would wait until I returned from a trip overseas that summer.

We sat out on the overcropping with our glasses, and for the first time he told me he loved me ...and asked me to marry him. When we got to his folks' house, there was a graduation party in action, and everyone was waiting to hear my answer...YES!!!

There it is. A little late for Valentine's Day, but who can turn down a good love story? Certainly not me!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Aaron and I have traditionally NOT celebrated V-day on the actual date, preferring to take advantage of the shorter lines at restaurants on the days after. And also the discounted prices on candy. This year, Leah will be making that trip to the store with her daddy, as part of her Valentine's celebration. We did make our flowers tonight, but apparently she has become used to more pomp and circumstance. Ah, the innocence of youth - how quickly it is lost to good marketing.

During my first year at Cottey College, one of my friends told us about Best Buddies Day, to be celebrated on February 15th. That year, we all gave each other cards celebrating our friendships - and most of us even made the cards. I still have some tucked into scrapbooks.

I've always thought that BB Day would be a wonderful holiday to see widespread. As Crystal and I were discussing the other night, so often we just don't take the time to commemorate our closest friends. We see them so often that it's not a photo-taking occaision when we do. I have photos of friends that I only see a couple times a year in albums, but hardly any of my truly bff's.

Something lacking in today's culture is the willingness to tell someone how much you appreciate them - without immediately resorting to some form of self-conscious behavior.

And if someone does have the guts to look you in the eye and say "I really appreciate your friendship/respect your opinion/am glad you're in my family," PLEASE DON'T ARGUE. Just say 'Thank you." And give them a hug.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

U R a Stinker

Leah is PSYCHED for Valentine's Day. She's horrified that we don't have anything planned for the actual day, although she's already attended TWO parties and made/decorated cookies. I think that's enough party for anyone, but she's insisting. So I think we'll make some tissue paper flowers or something really creative like that.

We made chocolate cut-out cookies, and Mom helped us decorate. Ben sat in his chair and ate red-hots and cookies the whole time. Aaron was thrilled/shocked to find out that I have no plans for them besides taking a plate to Crystal. (Surprise, Crystal!) So everyone is happy. Everyone, that is, except for Auntie Kate, who has a weakness for cut-out cookies decorated with preschooler saliva.

This is your first chance to see Ben's shorn head. Poor kid- his head probably feels like it needs a sweater. But he was starting to look pretty wolfman-ish, and we've decided the curls are here to stay, so I'm not longer afraid that the haircut will eliminate them completely.

Today I was talking to another mom, and in the course of conversation realized an innate different between Leah and Ben. Leah is a pleaser. She likes to make people happy, so generally, if you ask her to do something, or to STOP doing something, she will.

Ben couldn't. care. less. As witnessed this afternoon. He was insisting that I take his shirt off, and when I said NO, he slapped me. (I'm fine, folks. It was a baby slap.) He refused to give me a "sorry" hug, so off to his room he went. And this continued for half and hour. He'd come out, refuse to hug, and end up right back in there. It was pure stubbornness in action, folks. Finally I just hugged him and decided it was done. And BOY! Was he relieved. Not to mention Mom and Dad. Please, son, I'm begging you...just DO IT OUR WAY.

The Realtor made his visit today, and overall was much easier on us than my mom was yesterday. I tell ya, folks, too much HGTV is a terrible thing. At least for those of us without it. I'm just glad that I don't have to hide my large garbage can (it's covered, so I don't think it's TOO offensive) or completely sanitize our house against the germs of our existence. I will be removing LOTS OF STUFF, but the feeling of panic has somewhat abbated. I did manage to make some progress against the three years of procrastination - always encouraging!

We go to look at a couple of houses, fun! NO SARCASM INTENDED.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Reality Check

Tomorrow The Realtor comes to examine our house. I am a bit frightened. Because remember? Remember how I proscrastinate doing 5 minute jobs? Well, NOW I have about a week's worth of 5 minute jobs. To accomplish before a nearly complete stranger will be judging how we live and how I keep house at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon. Or at the very latest, March, when we hope to put our house on the market. When many actually complete strangers will be judging how we live and how I keep house. The thought of which is COMPLETELY TERRIFYING.

I just realized why those professional house sellers are called REALTORs...they make you face the reality of your home/ house. For instance, the baby potty chair in the bathroom? Not so attractive. Ditto for piles #1, #2, and #3 upstairs. And my favorite vinyl tablecloth? Not the height of fashion (but SOO much easier to clean after glitter has been introduced).

I can't protest any longer that "I'll get to it!" - the day of reckoning has come. So where to start? I'm thinking the overflowing stack of give away/garage sale items in the laundry room should probably be boxed and put in the garage. It is seriously a safety hazard, and OSHA would strongly object. And really, why not start with stuff that I've already decided to get rid of? WHY IS IT STILL IN THE HOUSE IN THE FIRST PLACE? Aaron is working tonight, so maybe I'll be able to accomplish this and other tasks. Of course, that means I'll have to resist the lure of television AND Emma. Hmm. Maybe I'll do it tomorrow.

Monday, February 11, 2008

And I quote...

conversation with Mom the other day:

Mom: (In this quiet, timid voice I didn't recognize) I just did something I would have told you not to do.
Me: (somewhat concerned) What is that?
Mom: I just bought a vanity off the internet - for 900 dollars.
Me: Yep, you're right. You definitely would have told me not to do that.

Leah in the grocery store today:(near the frozen foods, pointing at the decorations hanging from the ceiling) Mommy, look! That's just like the old days!
Me: WHAT? What is just like it? What 'old days'?
Leah: You know, before last week!

this afternoon, in a house full of toys especially designed to entertain children:
Leah: Mommy, I'm bored. What can I do for fun? (this question is asked at least 10 times a day)


Also, although I have no quotes from Ben (IF ONLY), I do have an annecdote. I have been known to compare babies/small children with puppies. I now have proof. This morning, Ben came upstairs and looked in at me sitting at the table. He disappeared for a few minutes, and returned with both my slippers, which he insisted that I put on. GOOD BOY!

On this topic - my brother Aaron mistakenly considers being a dog being house-trained to be the equivalent of a kid "being able to care of their own bathroom business". (For the source of this disagreement, click here.) This is clearly not true, since you still have to let the dog out to do its business. Also, if the dog has NOT been let out, you need to consider how long it's been and whether or not it's an emergency. A child of 10 years (and possibly much, much younger) does not require this care and consideration. I will rejoice in the day that I longer have to think about someone else's need to use the bathroom. This is not normal for anyone but a mother. I don't think dads come programmed that way. And really, do we need TWO of us thinking about when was the last time Leah went potty? I don't think so.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Warning: CAPS and !!!! ahead!

Folks, I had coffee this morning at church! I realize that may not be of much significance to most of you, but for me, that means a day of nearly boundless ENERGY. I LOVE coffee, but rarely drink it at home! Therefore, it gives me a day-long kick in the pants when I DO enjoy it!! So far I've harassed both my children with MULTIPLE smotherings of kisses and hugs, waved my hands and squawked like a chicken - several times!!! - and have run around the house yelling about laptop and internet access for about 15 minutes!

Here are some other things I'm excited about in my drug-enduced euphoria!!

1. My friend Crystal has some really cool ideas for her website, Two Peas! And I get to help her NAME RIBBON! OOH. The. best. job. ever. In my high school biology class, I wrote an alphabetical list of girls names in the back of my notebook. Time well spent!!

2. Ben got his hair cut yesterday! And lost about a half pound of body weight in the process! This is exciting because he has so much more neck for me to kiss!! And less hair for him to wipe his hands in!

3. Leah ate her dinner last night! EVEN THOUGH SHE DIDN'T WANT TO. And without much complaining!

4. We sang "Ancient of Days" in church this morning - which had me reminising about being on the worship team for InterVarsity. I loved that group. The worship team shared a of love of music and love of Christ, and I get very nostalgic when I sing certain songs.

5. We are going to some open houses this afternoon! I love seeing other houses!

6. I didn't name my babies after a celebrity! Reese, Hayden, and Aiden show up all too frequently in the Forum 2007 babies insert today!

7. ALSO! I have the delightful quandry of having to forego READING Jane Austen (Emma) in order to WATCH Jane Austen (Pride & Prejudice) tonight! I finished reading Sense & Sensibilty earlier this week. I may have a problem!!!!

Friday, February 8, 2008

I love my baby...after 7am.

Ben really likes baby P. And he is admired in return. As this and many more photos were being taken, they repeated touched foreheads. It could have been that P was trying to get a taste of Ben's yummy nose. Or, that they have a deep connection that will render them best friends for life, not unlike JD and Turk from Scrubs.

That darling son of mine. Here's how my night went. When you go through this (and much worse nights) and still want to kiss their chubby cheeks in the morning, you know you are a mommy.

11pm - hit the hay after IMing Tara...again
1am- Ben wakes up screaming. I pick him up, cuddle for a minute, then lay him down and he's out again.
3:30am - Leah is in our room, saying she had a dream. A BAD dream, Mommy! I walk her back downstairs and tuck her in again.
6am - Ben is again awake and crying. I go in and tell him it's still time to sleep, which he doesn't receive, shall we say...well. Cries for at least 15 more minutes. Then either he went to sleep or I did. My money's on me.
7am - Ben up - Aaron gets him. While Aaron showers, Ben drags me out of bed to get him breakfast. Leah is also up now. Let the morning begin!

Most nights they both sleep really well, all night...But when they don't, it seems to be synchronized. Must have been all the partying at L's house. NO MORE PARTIES!

Not that I'm bragging or anything...

Leah does love her some workbook time! We just finished the Pre-K it's on to big kid stuff in the Kindergarten version. She especially likes rhyming activities.

Although a while back Aaron observed that he thought that she'd plateaued academically, lately Leah has started really focusing on writing her 123's and ABC's. This is so fun!

Also, overheard while she was playing with buddy L last night:
"Jesus IS NOT still dead!"

Leah with best frenemy M and the matching shirts M made for them...Leah says it's her Sleeping Beauty shirt. Cause IT'S PINK, I guess.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

...And that a hurricane might be called precipitation

Received as a forward, but had to share...


Q: Should I have a baby after 35?
A: No, 35 children is enough.

Q : I'm two months pregnant now. When will my baby move?
A: With any luck, right after he finishes college.

Q : What is the most reliable method to determine a baby's sex?
A: Childbirth.

Q: My wife is five months pregnant and so moody that sometimes she's borderline irrational.
A: So what's your question?

Q : My childbirth instructor says it's not pain I'll feel during labor, but pressure. Is she right?
A: Yes, in the same way that a tornado might be called an air current.

Q: When is the best time to get an epidural?
A: Right after you find out you're pregnant.

Q : Is there any reason I have to be in the delivery room while my wife is in labor?
A: Not unless the word "alimony" means anything to you.

Q: Is there anything I should avoid while recovering from childbirth?
A: Yes, pregnancy.

Q : Do I have to have a baby shower?
A: Not if you change the baby's diaper very quickly.

Q : Our baby was born last week. When will my wife begin to feel and act normal again?
A: When the kids are in college.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Product reviews that are... interesting?

Specifically, reviews of this Bic Crystal ballpoint pen, medium point, black.

I think we should all resolve to write only reviews that might be entertaining, as well as useful, to another potential purchaser.

Thanks for the tip, defective yeti.


"I'm laughing off my head!"

Grandma: Do you want to go to the button store (JoAnn Fabrics) with me?
Leah: No, I have funner things scheduled.

Nice to meet you. And you are...?

Google has this lovely program for bloggers, called Google Analytics. Once it is running on your website, you (meaning me) can get statistics on not only how many people have visited your site, but also where they are from and if they are new or returning visitors. Pretty cool, huh? And it's all FREE.

I eat this kind of thing up. In general I don't really do numbers, but I can read a chart! And thanks to my teaching career, I'm pretty solid on percentages, too.

Aaron has been getting an earful - I had 36 hits today! Someone from Finland! 8 new visitors! And etcetera. What all this lovely data DOESN'T me is WHO exactly these folks are...if the new visitor was from Fargo or India, for instance.
There are two folks in well as one, maybe two in Ohio - who are family, and as far as I know, read primarily for updates on my kiddos, so here you go:
Readers! Both of them! Hurray!

I am asking you to help satisfy my curiosity. Please post and say where you are, and if you know me "in real life"m say WHO you are, too! Or, how you found my blog. Oh, this will be fun!
ALSO. Did you know that I have big dreams for this blog of providing some income of my own? But I need to expand my reader base. AND! You can help! If you enjoy reading this, please let someone else know who may like it! You know, that mommy, or reader, ...or computer techie, or engineer....or someone who just likes to read blogs!
And I promise,I'll post something somewhat clever soon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

An extended plug for MOMS

In the paper today there was a big article about how Mommies make friends. The article also talked about how necessary friends, and specifically GROUPS of friends, are. They offer a support group, one where you may the expert one day and the novice the next.
So let me make this plug for my biggest group of Mommy friends - the MOMS club of Fargo. Moms Offering Moms Support is an international stay-at-home mom (SAHM) support group, and I've been a member for about 3 1/2 years now. It gives both Leah and I friends and activities to keep us entertained during the day. And boy, do we need that! We drive each other crazy!

When I first moved here, I didn't know where parks were, or where there were places for kids to hang out - or many kids Leah's age, for that matter. Sure, I met moms & kids at church, but often those moms worked at least part-time, so it was hard to get together. MOMS club came along at a great time. The calendar has lots of fun activities, both free and not free.

Since it is really an official CLUB, there are opportunities for leadership. I am the newsletter editor, and I really enjoy it - I feel like I'm serving and educating at the same time, as well as being the first (okay, maybe third or fourth) to know what's going on.

Our member numbers have been growing recently, thanks to the perseverance of our officers to make sure that we are listed in every free publication in the area. Still, I feel like I know everyone's names and faces within a couple months. Moms can be as involved as they would like - some only attend the weekly playgroups (arranged by age of child), and some attend almost everything!

If you know a mom in the Fargo area who is looking for connections with other moms, pass on my blog address or the address of our local chapter's website:

She'll be glad you did! And I can't wait to meet her!

Monday, February 4, 2008

I would write only the BEST novels

Did you watch MPT's Jane Austen biopic last night? You know, instead of the new House episode? I have to say, it was a close call, and basically I only went for Austen because I knew you, the Internet, would expect to hear my opinion. Except, of course, for those certain male members of my family.

Miss Austen Regrets was a revelation for me, in the fact that for some reason I imagined Austen as a Emily Dickinson know, a lady getting up there in years, never married, holeing herself away to write... But apparently I was wrong. Jane was a big flirt! And very comfortable in society! And had friends!

According to the biopic, anyway. Her biography doesn't fill in quite so much. Which is fine with me - as long as I know which aspects were true and which were filled in, I'm a happy reader. I mean, viewer.

The major parts that were filled in were her unrequited romance with a married man, and her flirtatious personality. It is true that she accepted a weathly suitor's proposal only to refuse him the next day. And apparently that was the inspiration for her flirations with other "gorgeous young men".

Olivia Williams portrays Jane Austen - and what I liked about her is that she not only looked her age (40) she also looked much younger when she was happy, and much older when unhappy. She had a hard time convincing me that Austen was truly happy being unmarried, especially since this biopic focuses so much on the latter part of her life, when her family is in desperate need of money that her marriage could have provided.

Fun Fact: Olivia Williams also is in MPT's Emma (March 23rd), but it was filmed 10 years will be interesting to see if she has changed. That role was her first "major" role...and after that she was in The Postman with Kevin Costner and The Sixth Sense with Bruce Willis. Not bad!

I liked the biopic...but really wish that Miss Austen herself would have given an interview or two, or that she would have written an memoir, or that her sister wouldn't have burnt quite so many letters. But sometimes I think our favorite writers from the past capture our imagination precisely because we DON'T know every fact about them. They become another character - we can fill in the unknown with our own preferences...and that writer whose works we love becomes almost an idealised reflection of ourselves. "If I were to write, I would write like _____ - she/he seems so much like me!"

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I'll vote for Ross Perot...oh wait...

During the Super Bowl, we're having a little political discussion

me: Well, I'm just excited that this primary will be a little interesting, instead of letting Ohio and Vermont have all the fun of choosing the candidates!

Aaron: You mean Iowa and New Hampshire?

me: Sure - whatever.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

And three hours later...

Minutes from Salem book club, Febuary meeting:

A. Book Three Cups of Tea agreed to be "a good one" - even by Liz, who doesn't like non-fiction, and especially by Grace, who likes books about survival/mountain climbing
1. Discussion involved the following points:
a. Mortenson is not a Christian, but does so much good work that we wish Christians would be doing and/or be getting publicity for. However, the fact that he wasn't a Christian may have been one of the reasons he was so successful.
b. And if Christians who do that kind of work, in those kinds of countries, got publicity, they would get kicked out.
c. Packistan and Afganistan ARE NOT the Middle East.
d. None of us would be able to eat and smell what Mortenson ate and smelled
e. the average Muslim man must have a similar attitude about women and their education as the average American man - there was little opposition to building schools for girls, except from the Taliban (predictably)

B. Another book exchange was held.
1.The Historian was the only to return from last month. Carol deliberated, but ended up with The Kite Runner.
2. Liz took a 2 for 1 offer, but gave away the Christian non-fiction and kept The Devil Wears Prada.
3. Little Men was stolen from Kim by Eileen.
4. Thrift/secondhand stores are a favorite source for books
5. Life and Death in Shanghai may be one of the most discouraging titles ever.

C. Other Topics:
1. Does your body stop producing stink after a long enough period of not bathing? Research will be done.
2. Grace recommends the movie The Ultimate Gift
3. Poisonwood Bible - is it true that some vegetables need specific insects to pollinate them, or was it manufactured by the author to further her plot?
4. The Red Tent - redeemable book? Some liked it a lot, others hated it. Did Diament do in-depth research or just make it all up?
5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - quick, good read from point of view of autistic boy
6. Reading Lolita in Tehran - similar in theme to Three Cups of Tea
7. Happy Birthday, Ilene!
8. Yummy Creme Brulee, Carol! We like the chocolate on the bottom. (Don't you wish you were in our book club?!)
9. How exactly do retirees in Lake Havasu spend their time? Especially if they don't golf?

D. Next meeting
1. Book Imperial Woman, by Pearl S. Buck, about last empress of China
2. Friday, March 14th at Kim's house

I don't like self-help books, either

Because I know the Internet cares. Except for certain male members of my family. To you I say BAH!

I did finish my seventh? book of the month, in time for my Salem book club meeting tonight. In fact, I finish at 9:30pm last night, so I even have time to think about it a bit before I start running at the mouth.

The book? Three Cups of Tea. I think I liked it. And that's amazing, because it breaks two of my personal biases against books: It's true, and it takes place in the Middle East.
I am not a non-fiction reader. Last night, as I was reading and kept expecting to read this line or something like it: "And then he died. People all over the world mourned his death and hailed him as a hero. His work continues today." It never came. But what it signified to me is that I enjoy a book with a traditional plot line - I was looking for the climax and not finding it. Aaron says it's because non-fiction recounts events, more like a textbook than a storybook.

Also, the Middle East is too full of emotional pitfalls for me to want to get involved. That is SO BAD of me. But I get so worked up about things I care about, that I just don't want to care about this issue - there's so much to get worked up about. And after this book, it's really hard to not care. Darn Greg Mortenson.

During our trip home from Arizona, I started another book, Reading Lolita in Tehran. It is about a Iranian college professor who resigns from her position and starts a "class" of seven of her most dedicated students. Together they read classics of the Western world.

This is another book that breaks both my biases, and although I haven't gotten far enough through it yet to decide if I like it, I think it will be very interesting to read alongside Three Cups of Tea.

Book biases, anyone? C'mon - I know EVERYONE (except Kate) loves Harry Potter, but what genres don't you like? Any books you liked that broke your biases?

Friday, February 1, 2008

I'll get it done...oh, never.

Fact: Ben's highchair has a ruffle around the seat pad. A RUFFLE. Of cotton fabric, around a vinyl seat. THIS MAKES NO SENSE. None. Aaron spotted this as a design fault right away, and of course now Fisher-Price doesn't make a single highchair with this "feature". Because here's the drawback - it's a HEALTH HAZARD. Ben has had it plastered with food since he started eating. It looks grody, and even though it has been washed, it immediately looks just as bad. Evidence: Photo from this summer.
The other day Aaron and I had this "discussion":

Him - "WHEN are we going to wash Ben's highchair cover?"

Me - "Sometime."

Him - "So, never? It's completely gross."

Me - "If you care so much about it, and I clearly DON'T, YOU should do something about it! I have other things to worry about that won't have to be re-done 15 seconds later!"

Him - "Like what? Read blogs?"

Ah. That is what we like to call "the heart of the matter". But that is not a discussion for you, the Internet, to worry about.

Here's my point. I do this frequently - have some little task that would probably take me about 5 minutes to complete, thereby removing it from my guilt radar, but that I avoid for some unexplanable reason. Maybe it's because it would take longer to assemble the tools needed for said task than to actually complete it. Maybe it's that I'm not really sure of what I'm doing, so I'm avoiding failure.
Some examples, which may or may not fall into those two excuses: re-stringing a pair of Aaron's gym shorts. Washing bathroom rugs. Change sheets on kids' beds. Email.
Okay, so I know how to do all those things. Maybe I'm just a procrastinator. Yep, I think that's it.
Am I the only one?