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2 kids. Memories of Wolf and Boo. Many dear friends. Three siblings. Two parents. Samarra the crazy dog. The Player and Pi the Cat. I love you all!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wolf's Wisdom

The kids did not complain about being squeezed and hugged and loved up by their mama.  And I had managed to purchase almost every possible food they like for dinner and fixed whatever they wanted...so we had brats (Sisi), pizza (all 3 of us), and tortellini (Jeremiah).  

Wolf was pretty happy to see us, too.  He had a good time at Kathy's and was complaining a bit this morning that he left his book at her house and wanted to finish reading it.  He frowned a bit when I told him it isn't really his book.  So I think I will have to pick up a short novel for him later today.  Perhaps The Call of the Wild would interest him.  Sierra suggests he might like The Wild Wind, which she says is a long book about the Civil War. I asked how she knows about that book.  She said it's mentioned in Because of Winn-Dixie, which her teacher just finished reading to her class at school.  Awwww, we love anything by Kate DiCamillo in this house.  Maybe Wolf would just like reading Because of Winn-Dixie.  Yes, I'm sure he would. 

Yes, Sierra is up with me early this morning.  After a little early morning snuggle, she is now off watching "Martha Speaks" about a talking dog.  That makes me wonder what Wolf would say if he could talk to us.

Can we go for walk now, please, please please oh PLEASE!

Why Can't I have pizza or a brat for dinner?

Excuse me, Alpha Mom, I need to go outside now...Mom?  MOM?   MOMMMM!



Right now, though, he would be saying..zzzzzzzzz, snort, sigh, aw Mom your bed is so comfy.  Sierra, thank you for the Snoopy blanket, it's my favorite.  Oh, man, life is so good.

And he would be so right.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Home again, remembered I have to take an online exam today for work or else...I'm not sure what.  But I had better get that done before I get to pick up the little people at school and hug them until they complain.  (That will take about 2 seconds if my estimate is correct, but I might need to recheck my math.) 

The complaining will sound something like this:

MMOOOOMMM, don't!

Why did you go away and leave us for TWO WHOLE DAYS? 

What's for dinner?  Why don't you have any (list any three meals that happen to be off the menu today.)? 

MOOMMM, don't squeeze me so hard, I can't breathe!

Next time you go take me with you.

Mom, stop singing.  Mom, stop dancing, please.  Mom, don't kiss me...mom, MOM  MOMMM!!!!

That might not be exactly what they say but it will be durned close to that. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm Taking a Blog Vacation

No blogs for a couple of days while I take a little R&R.  I'll be back Monday and here are some photos of the Christmas tree decorating process to hold you while I'm gone.  Take my computer with me?  Are you out of your cotton-pickin' mind?  Don't you remember what happened when I went out of town last time with my computer?

Here is Jeremiah sorting through the gigantic mess of Christmas lights, half of which are now in the trash because they don't work:


Sierra did most of the ornament hanging:


And she put the angel on the top:

Then she sweetly posed me by the tree, as if I had anything to do with this project:



Happy holiday season y'all!

For Which I am Grateful

Here are some pictures from Thanksgiving yesterday.  Just look at these beautiful people.  First my friend Kathy and her husband Tony.  This photo is only slightly posed.  As Kathy said "I look at him with love and he looks at me on command." 


Next, their beautiful children, first trying to hide from the camera then succumbing to the inevitable.




My kids wouldn't sit together very long so here is Jeremiah watching football and Sierra doing an art project in the next room.  Kind of like they do at home.





Yes, parachuting snowmen, a new Thanksgiving tradition.

My kids ate almost nothing at the meal except dessert.  Fortunately I brought 2 other people to make up for their sheer laziness in that department.   Francisco and his friend Epi (real name Antonio) came to dinner as well.



And last but certainly the host and hostess with the most and mostest, Peg and John.


Thank you Kirks and Rios for inviting the Tingleys and Alomotos to share my favorite holiday with you.  Oh, wait I almost forgot the best photo of all:


Mmm pumpkin pie without curry is SO GOOD mom!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Kitchen Frightens Me

Last night I made a pumpkin pie to take to Thanksgiving dinner at Peg and John's house later today.  I decided it would be fun to take some photos and put them on my blog today.  I was even going to share the secrets of my easy and delicious pie crust.  Then this morning I uploaded the pictures and changed my mind.   The photos were just a little too scary.  I deleted the most terrifying ones and saved just a few to show you what I mean.

For example, here is the utensil drawer in my kitchen.



Right now my mom is laughing and reminding my dad of the parent-teacher night in second grade when she opened my school desk and it was very neatly organized.  Then she went to ask the teacher how she had accomplished this with me, the teacher looked at her as if she were speaking Klingon. Kim?  A neat desk?  Let's go see.  Oh, no, no that's Julie Carmody's desk.  Here is Kim's desk.  And when my mom opened it, voila, there it was, a preview of what my utensil drawer would look like 40-some years later.

(Note to self:  stop bothering Sierra about her messy room.)

Here is another scary thing that happened.  The recipe called for cinnamon (check), ground cloves (check), and ground ginger (hmm...one of those little unlabeled baggies from Common Ground must be ginger...but wait, the baggies have been lying together in the cupboard so long that they all smell like....curry. )  I went to the store to buy eggs, since I had only one and the recipe called for two eggs.  I came home with eggs and 25 dollars worth of other groceries, but no ground ginger because it was the night before Thanksgiving and the only spice sold out at Jewel was, ok course, ground ginger. 

So I assembled all the possible spice combinations:



I added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves.  Then I opened the little baggy that smelled LEAST like curry.  But I couldn't bring myself to do it.  So I put in a little pumpkin pie spice instead, hoping that enough of the ginger in it would float up to everyone's taste buds in the final product.  We shall see later today.

The crust was easy.  What's that?  You're not scared?  You want my crust recipe and secrets?  Ok, but don't say I didn't warn you.

For a single crust mix 1 cup and 2 tablespoons flour and 1/2 tsp of salt.   Add 1/3 cup canola oil and mix until little balls of dough form, than add 3 Tablespoons cold water, and it makes a nice easy to manage ball of dough. 


So much simpler than cutting butter or lard into flour.  Then you must get the largest rolling pin that exists (mine was rescued from a biologist's lab back in the 80's, so who knows what it was originally used for...shudder).  And put that dough inside a plastic grocery bag and roll it out. 


So easy it's frightening.  Then you can slip the pie plate into the bag upside down, flip it over, and take the bag off.  No folding and lifting and bending and spindling or mutilating that crust.


Pour the filling in,  pop it in the oven at 425 for 15 minutes then 350 for another 50 minutes.  Take it out and then wish you had made two so you could start eating pumpkin pie the night before Thanksgiving.  Oh well.

What?  You want to see the finished product?  Oh come on, everyone knows what a pumpkin pie looks like.  Ok, but just this one time:


I told you it was scary.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Name of God

Warning:  this blog may make you chuckle.  Or it may make you a little miffed if you don't like it when people, (me myself I in this case) use the word God to make people chuckle.  You've been warned.  Stop now if you think you might get miffed.  Unless you want to get miffed today.  Or anyday.  You could come back and read this later if you're feeling too happy and need some balance in your soul.  Well, you are grown ups.  You can make your own decisions, I hope.  If you are feeling indecisive, take a little break, have some hummus, and then decide. 

Wait, before I get to the humorous part, I decided to look the word miff up in my sacred red text.  I wanted to see the derivation, but there was none listed.  So I guess it's just plain old English.  Yawn.  But wait, again, I didn't realize until just this moment that not only is there the fine word miff but also miffy as an adjective.  It can describe not only a person, but a plant that will grow only under exact conditions.  A fickle plant.  Not to be confused with a pickle plant, er, a cucumber...see Caroline's blog for pickle advice.

Well, that has nothing to do with my original idea for today's blog, so let me backtrack.  Last week, or the week before that, I'm not exactly sure when, Kathy and I were discussing the Robin Meyers book, again.  She mentioned that singing many of the hymns we sing, though beautiful, still perpetuate an image of a personal God in whom (which?) she no longer believes.  If she ever did.   I agree with this idea what most people call God is more of an energy than a being in any sense that we can perceive.  But I said, at the time, that the hymns did not bother me.

Then on Sunday we sang hymn number 718 in the Chalice Hymnal (Disciples of Christ) called  Come, Ye Thankful People, Come  followed later in the service by number 717 Let All Things Now Living.  Phrases like God our Creator, God's banner, by law God enforces, our God we owe,  and so on.  And danged if that didn't get my attention and make me feel a little (here it comes...) miffy.

So, I had the bright idea to substitute the word Love everytime I saw the word God while I sang.  It worked!  It worked like a divine charm.  All miffiness subsided and I just sang there praising Love.  I remembered, again, the first Bible verses I learned from Miss Cox and Miss Heller Love One Another.  God is Love.

 So later I emailed Kathy and told her.  She said she liked that idea.  So I went and got out my copy of the hymnal (oops, hi Susan!) and started looking at some other titles.  So far the best one is A Mighty Fortress is our Love.  I would actually like to substitute the phrase unconditional love instead of just plain love.  But it throws the rhythm off something terrible.  So Love with a capital L like God with a capital G.

Then, as often happens, my mind began to wander.  What if our U.S. coins were minted with the phrase In Love We Trust?  The Pledge said we were "One Nation, Under Love, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All"? 

Then I thought, we could substitute the word God where we usually use the word Love.  I God You, we might say to our children as they hop out of the car to dash across the school yard, or get on a train to go back to school, or fall asleep at night.

Then I began to worry.  What would we call Jesus?  In Spanish, they call him diosito, little god, in an affectionate way, like you would call a friend amiguito or amiguita.   So we could call him Little Love?  Or just Like?  Or Like-a-lot?  Sir Like-a-lot? 

Of course Spanish speaking people are not afraid to call their children, men or women, after Jesus.  HEY-SUESS or HEY-SUESS-A.  Which you know if you watch baseball.

Well, if you are still reading and not miffed, then thank you.  Have a fine day.  Love Bless Us, Every One!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sliders

Last night the little people walked in the door at about 5:00 and decided to make their own dinner.  They made black bean tacos and ate them, then went off to their rooms to either 1. do homework (that would be the 4th grader) or 2.  attempt yet again to clean off the floor (that would be 2nd grader with no homework on a holiday week.)  After that they begged me to let them put a mattress on the steps going from the living room to the family room and slide on it.  Since they had been so responsible earlier in the evening I said Yes as along as they put the mattress back (on my bed) after they were done. 


This really is as much fun as it looks.  And you should try this at home.  Don't even ask your parents, just go ahead.






Wolf wisely just meditated and prayed without ceasing for everyone to return to their senses while all this was going on:


Me?  What did I do? 
I had to get downstairs to fold laundry.  Or something.  I'm sure.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Fill your blog with thanksgiving and your heart with praise

The kids are asleep.  I am up at my usual early hour, checking email (33 percent off any one item at Borders coupon today).  There are 4 things for which to be thankful already.

Yesterday I was grateful for the reflection on gratitude at NCC and for the insightful comments after by my church community members.  I was grateful for the poetry I heard read at the Normal Public Library in the afternoon.  I was grateful for the chance to laugh and smile and hear people around me make that "mmmm" noise when something reaches them at that level where a word isn't going to go the trick so a sound will have to do.  I was grateful for chamomile tea at bedtime and for reading a scary essay by Sandra Steingraber online about this scary business of hydrofracking to get natural gas out of the ground and what that means for the environment.  I am grateful that we humans haven't yet completely destroyed the planet and for people like Sandra who are gonna do everything they can to keep that from happening.

I am grateful that next month I am going to get some women together to write letters to political prisoners around the world as part of Amnesty International's Global-Write-A-Thon.  Okay, it might just be me and Kathy, but I think we count as "some women"...some mighty women indeed!  Anyone who wants to join us is welcome.  Date and time to be determined.  Hummus will be served.

I am grateful for books.  I am SO grateful for books, for my entire life of being able to read books. 

It was still dark when I started writing my blog this morning, but now the sky is a pale blue and there is not a single cloud visible to the west.  The empty branches of the maple in my front yard are bouncing gently on the breeze.  It's gonna be a fine fine day.  Thank you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Do the Math

Saturday morning was pleasantly lazy here this weekend.  I can't even remember what we did except the kids did their homework and I was stunned at the math they are both doing now.  Sierra was adding two-digit numbers for the first time.  I listened as she talked herself through the process.  At first the problems were easy (none of what used to be called "carrying" to the next column) but as they progressed and she went through the steps, I feared she had no idea what she was doing, but...voila!...she did know, she got the answer exactly right every time.  Well, knock me over with an art-supply box.  My girl can draw AND do the math. 

Now I will just have to wait for her to invent the self-cleaning room.

Jeremiah claimed he was doing "algebra."   I refrained from saying anything like "oh you poor kid, you're only in 4th grade and you won't do algebra for several years..." which was incredibly wise of me because as it turns out, he was doing algebra.  Well, knock me over with a baseball cap.  My boy can turn a double play AND do the math.

I shouldn't be surprised that the kids do well in math, but I remember when Jeremiah was 4 and in pre-school he had so much trouble just learning to count to 20.  He would do fine until 12 then almost always skip 13 and/or 14 and head right to 15.   First time parent that I was, I can remember the anxiety I felt thinking that it might just be the end of the world as I knew it if I could not hear the kid say twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen before Thanksgiving. 

I tried so many different (and now I see not-very-creative) techniques to help him.  I'm sure the poor kid felt all my anxiety and that didn't help.  But then I happened to buy a Number Bingo game.  Well, knock me over with a red chip, the kid suddenly was not only counting to twenty but adding numbers together with his dad and learning some of the names of numbers in Spanish.

I've learned not only to use games but to be much more patient, too.  When it seemed like it was time for Sierra to learn to swim, I signed her up for swimming lessons.  Twenty-five dollars and two weeks later she was still sitting on the steps at the edge of the pool, glaring at her mother and her teacher.  Her teacher began some glaring of her own after Sierra sunk her fingernails into the poor girl's neck as the tried to carry her into the water.  So I just waited.  When Sierra was ready to swim (about 3 years later) she taught herself the basics then asked me to sign her up for lessons so she could, as she put it, "learn to swim a lot faster."  As it turns out, she's pretty much a dolphin in the water now. 

And did I mention she can add?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chuck E and The Grinch

As I have mentioned before in this blog, one of the things I have tried very very hard to avoid as a parent is walking in the door of a Chuck E Cheeses.  Yesterday, my long string of successful days as a parent free from the images of that particular hell-on-Earth came to an abrupt end.

If I had been thinking clearly (aha!) I would have arranged for someone else to take Sierra to the birthday party and pick her up.  But clearly I was not thinking clearly.  I thought, somehow, that the Goddess of Serendipty-Do would intervene on my behalf and I would be able to arrange this drop-off-pick-up thing at the door.  Clearly I did not see how this would pan out.  I not only went inside with Sierra to drop her off, but had to stay about 15 minutes because the guest of honor was a little late and we were a little early. 

The Grinch who Stole Christmas comes to mind:  Oh the noise, the noise, the noise Noise NOISE NOISE!  That's one thing he hated....

That would be me playing the Grinch.  Just so you know, though, I don't hate Roast Beast, no sirree not at all.  Also I'm pretty sure my heart is the right size.  I had that stress test a few years back, you know, and my cardiologist said my heart was beautiful (after the EKG, the Echocardiogram, and the swearing on my part when I found out I'd be running uphill on a treadmill wearing a hospital gown and was forced by 2 nurses to surrender my bra first.)  He didn't mention anything about the size of my heart, though, so I'm probably only slightly Grinchy in that regard.

So the noise.  The lights.  The dancing and singing Mouse.  The too-cheerful staff.  Encouraging children to scream louder than the kids at the next table.  The games and the ...little kids shooting at the games...and people actually sitting at tables with their families in this environment as if it were a regular Friday night out.  Whew.  It boggles the mind and jars the soul a bit, don't you think?

So, I failed to save myself.  But on the other hand, that's not really the point of parenthood.  In fact it seems the point of parenthood is just the opposite, to surrender yourself to the agonies as well as the tender mercies.  I leave you with a story of my son, the athlete, the sister-teaser extraordinaire, and the little guy with a heart that seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.  Last night he asked me for his very own copy of the book The Prophet, which he has seen me reading of late and from which I've read bits and pieces aloud to him.  He brought the copy of the book I gave him back and said he wanted a different copy. 

Why?  asked the mom.

I want one with the drawings in it, answered the boy.  The same drawings that are in your big copy.

Oh, thought the mom, the drawings of naked people.  Hmm.  Ok, said the mom.  She found another copy (yes, I have a small collection of these books, they make excellent gifts for people who need a little spiritual nourishment or need to look at tasteful drawings of naked people or both.) and gave it to him.

Later when she went to tuck in the boy and say goodnight, he was reading his book.  He looked up and said, Mom listen to this: 

When you love you should not say "God is in my heart." but rather "I am in the heart of God."

Little glistening tears were in his mom's eyes as she kissed the freckles on his nose. All grinchiness melted away, again.  Again. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fun and Games

Sometimes when I am not doing anything else in particular, I pick up my big, old, red, worn copy of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (New College Edition) and open it up.  Sometimes I look at the pictures, because that's not what you are supposed to do with a dictionary.  You are supposed to look up words and their pronunciation, derivation, definition, and ...yawn.. that kind of stuff.  Okay, that yawn was a joke.  Everyone knows I love words. 

Here is something thing I found when I previously looked up the spelling of the word lagniappe for this very blog.  I knew the definition of the word (a gift that is a little something extra, given by a vendor to a customer with a purchase) and I thought it was French.  But it reminded of a Quichua word yapa that people in Ecuador use which means exactly the same thing.  In Ecuador you can ask for the yapa when you buy food at the market, for example.  So if you buy a bunch of pineapples and then you smile nicely and say "Y la yapa?" then you might get a gorgeous green avocado, too.  Or sometimes, when you are a regular customer, you don't have to ask at all.   Sometimes if you are in line to buy food you will get your yapa while you are waiting, too. 

So, back to the derivation of the word.  Lagniappe is from "Louisiana French, from American Spanish, from Quechua" according to my big red book.  What?  Hey?  How did that word from South America get to Louisiana?   That sounds like a good story waiting to be written.

Here is your yapa for the day, courtesy of this blog:
If you are bored, take your dictionary, open it up and look at a random page and see if the 2 words at the top (you know, the ones that tell you what the first and last words are on that particular page) make a humorous or interesting phrase.   Here are some of my recent favorites:

fervid feuilleton
mangy manitou
salvable samovar
field-day fight
generally genitive

Why, you are welcome!  Come back again!    

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kick the Habit!

The Great American Smoke-Out is today.  It is always the 3rd Thursday in November.  It's that day when everyone who smokes is encouraged to kick the habit so they don't kick the bucket too young.  So if you are a smoker and you are someone I love then please consider kicking the habit today.  If you are someone I don't know, then please consider kicking the habit today.  I don't think there are any other categories of people...to know you all is to love you!

Here are two interesting coincidences regarding the timing of this holiday

1.  This year it falls the day before "Have a Bad Day Day."  Yes, I can see how tomorrow might be a bad day if you just quit smoking, work with someone who just quit smoking, live with someone who just quit smoking, or work in a service industry in general on the day after many people have just quit smoking.

2.  It always falls one week before Thanksgiving.

That second item brings several questions to mind. 

1.  Would you like to get together for a big family meal with someone carving the turkey, big sharp carving knife in hand, that has just quit smoking, is feeling really edgy, and overhears cousin Josephine over in the corner complain yet again about how the Smith branch of the family behaved at Great grandad's wake twelve years ago? 
2.  If you had just quit smoking, how grateful would you feel?

I've never been a smoker.  It isn't hard to imagine the difficulty of giving up cigarettes, though, she said as she sipped her second cup of caffeinated coffee at 6:11 a.m.   I think the reason I have never smoked is because of my dad.  And here is that story, whether you want to hear it or not.

When I was 4 or possibly 5 years old my parents both smoked. (I'm happy to say they both quit many years ago!)  I just thought it was one of those things I would start doing when I was old enough.  I probably had just started kindergarten and figured I must be ready.  So I asked my dad if I could smoke a cigarette.  Even though my parents both smoked in the house he took me outside, we stood in the driveway on the north side of the house, and he lit one up and I took a drag.

Wait, I'm thinking here...why did we go outside?  Sure, he probably didn't want my mom to see, but what about the neighbors?  Oh, well.

I coughed and choked and I don't think I threw up but I don't know why I didn't.  And since then I've smoked maybe 5 cigarettes and I can guarantee you I never again inhaled.

So, there you go.  I don't recommend it as a way to stop kids from starting the habit.  And I don't know how to help you quit if you do smoke.  But at least think about it today, okay?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kindness and Peace

I forgot to tell you about my Sunday School class on World Kindness Day.  It was such a sweet, sweet morning.  Ninja-boy was all about the poster we made together, coloring hearts and writing in the letters that I had outlined with his multi-colored markers:  Kindness Starts With Me.  Pay it Forward.  Sierra read The Grinch outloud to the other kids.  Little Anna made a greeting card for her brother because he had hurt his leg.  And Jeremiah, who pretended to sit across the room and be bored, was secretly making a card for his sister.

The card is folded four times.  On the outside it says, To Sierra from Jeremiah.  If you open it, it looks blank.  But if you unfold the paper all the way it says.  "Dear Sierra.  You are the best sister that a person could ever have.  Sammy is the best skunk that you and I could have have."

Sierra seemed unimpressed.  But Sammy got tears in his eyes when he read that later.


He knows he has the best boy and girl a skunk could ever have, too. 

Next month we will be doing the four themes of Advent for our Sunday School class topic. Several years ago, when Ninja-boy was still little and going by the moniker Pokemon-Boy, I had the theme of Peace for my class (Hope, Love, and Joy being the other 3, of course).  I thought it would be great if we could draw a big Peace Mural.  I got a huge sheet of paper, markers, read the kids a few stories, and then plopped them down to draw whatever they wanted for their section of the mural.  This was in the days before I learned about strategic seating charts.

Pokemon-Boy and his older brother were seated next to each other at one corner of the mural.  Apparently the huge sheet of paper wasn't big enough for the two of them, and some markings about peace from one of them slipped into the area about drawings about peace of the other.  A little tussling ensued, and finally, a full blown sibling fistfight was underway.

At least it wasn't my kids this time, I thought to myself, rather cheerfully.

The next few years I begged, whined, bartered and nearly sold my soul to get the other themes.  Hope, no problem.  Love, yeah baby.  Joy oh joy!  But don't give me no Peace Themes, please. 

December will be the last month I am teaching this Sunday School class on a regular basis.  I am giving it up to take on some other responsibilities at NCC, and another mom is about to learn the joys of this particular fine group of young minds, hearts and souls.  So when I realized I had drawn the Peace Straw this year, I decided I would toughen up and head back to the table. 

Any suggestions for projects are welcome.  I already have the seating chart.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Goodbye Leaves

I think I've used the grill for the last time this year.  I haven't put it away yet because I need to clean out the shed to make room for it.  Bring out the sleds and snow shovel  and sweep a bit.  Then I have to make room for the porch swing, the plant stands, deck table, and the grill. 

I don't like putting the grill away.  Mostly because I like cooking on it.  But once it's put away it means I am seriously expecting fall to end soon.  Not that I don't like winter, no I do.  But you all know about my love affair with autumn and now it's almost over for another year. 

The leaves got raked and blown to the curb yesterday, courtesy of Francisco, and the leaves got jumped on and flattened out, courtesy of Jeremiah and Sierra.  The giant leaf vacuum should be by this morning to take them away, courtesy of our town tax dollars at work for us.  Everyone has been so courteous about the leaves but I still don't like to see them go.

I know I'll get over it.  In a few weeks we will have our first snow and the kids will be out in snow pants and coats and sledding.  I will have a crush, a short-lived crush, on Winter.  Then I'll sit around and wish he'd leave so I could get the grill out again. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pancakes for Peace

Sierra has been invited to a birthday party this coming Friday night at Chuck E. Cheese.  Jeremiah is not invited.  Why would he want to be invited?  The party is for a little girl and the theme of her life is Princesses.  This party will be a bunch of Princesses at Chuck E. Cheese.  Since I've never stepped foot inside a Chuck E. Cheese I am only able to imagine what that will be like, but I'm pretty sure Jeremiah would not want to wear a tiara to gain admission to the party. I could be wrong, though.

This morning when Jeremiah woke up, he did his usual routine.  He laid in bed and hollered MOM!! Can you scratch my back!?  followed by a long silent pause, then an impatient sigh followed by PLLEEASSSE?

During the obligatory morning back scratching, I asked him what he wanted to do on Friday night while Sierra is at the party. 

Big mistake.  He was mad as a wet hen that Sierra would be going to Chuck E. Cheese and he would be stuck doing....anything with his mom. 

Some significant baiting of his sister followed, bad words were used, consequences for not being nice to your sister were listed.  Then it was time for breakfast.

Both kids wanted pancakes.  I made 3 pancakes, but here is what happened to the first one.



The house became quite, um, smoky, and both kids lobbied forcefully that they should NOT be required to eat in the smoky kitchen.  I resisted, noticing that as the discussion went on, they were not arguing with each other, but with me instead.   United We Stand! they seemed to be saying.  Divided we have to eat in the smoky kitchen!  United we can watch TV upstairs during breakfast on a school day!

So, united it was.  Such a simple thing.  Why don't any of the parenting books tell us that by burning a pancake we can start the movement for World Peace Right in Our Very Own Kitchens!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Amazing PTO Parents

The kids' school is blessed with a very active PTO.  It seems like there are about 8 new fundraising opportunities every week.  I don't actively participate in the PTO, but I volunteer when I'm asked to do something that seems reasonable.  Baking cookies is not in the list.  Volunteering at the school library IS on the list.  Helping with book fair at the library in October is definitely on the list.  And yesterday helping at the fundraiser at Barnes and Noble was on the list.  Hmmm...I'm getting the sense of a pattern here.

The activities, planned by the PTO Wizards, included book readings by several teachers and the principal.  In between the reading times they had puppet shows planned.  The Zoo Lady (our local magnificent face-painter) and The Balloon Guy were scheduled.  I volunteered to do an activity which was not actually specified at the time of my agreeing to do the activity.  It turned out to be helping at the Arts and Crafts table. 

When I arrived, a little before the book fair was scheduled to start, two PTO moms were sitting at a table  looking shell shocked.  The teacher who was supposed to read at 1:00 was there but was not feeling well.  The principal had been sick the day before and no one knew if he would be reading or not.  The puppeteer had to cancel because he had a fever of 104.   The Zoo Lady and Balloon Guy had been in a car accident on their way to Barnes and Noble and were not coming.  The Art Table, which was supposed to have an activity actually prepared by Barnes and Noble had nothing but white bookmarks and crayons

After a few minutes, Amazing PTO Mom number 1 got up out of her seat and started giving instructions to people around her.  The next thing I knew there was a real art project for kids to do (turkey puppets!  Sierra put herself in charge of that, while I stayed at the bookmark coloring table, much more my speed).  Next she left and reappeared with two bags.  She opened one bag, pulled out some supplies, and began painting kids' faces herself.  A little later, some helicopter-boomerangy-type toys were being assembled by some of the older kids.  Someone called the principal and he appeared on time for his reading. 

We had ourselves a real live book fair after all.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kindness in the Off Season

November 13th is World Kindness Day.  As I type these words my kids are upstairs behaving in such a way that makes me see that we do, indeed, need World Kindness Day. 

We need every day to be World Kindness Day.

Tomorrow I am teaching Sunday School to what we used to call the "little kids class" but now some of those little kids are 8.  I think we will be talking about kindness tomorrow.  I think that will interest them for about 4 minutes then one of the kids will jump up and act like a ninja.  Fortunately that probably won't be my kid.  My kid will be over in the art supply cupboard making her own lesson and pointedly ignoring me.   Two of the kids will begin to whisper and giggle just when I am about to make an important point.  Then I will forget what the point is.  Later I will realize that the point is, always, for ME to demonstrate kindness to the kids. 

Today I will be practicing that special kind-but-firm look that says "Ninja, artist, and gigglers!  Turn your attention to the center ring, please!"

Jeremiah is sitting next to me as I blog, reading to me from Baseball Magazine.  He is beginning that long agonizing dry spell known as "the off season" by filling his head with players stats, wondering who will be coaching the Braves next year, and trying to remember who got traded to whom this past year.  It makes me happy he loves baseball as much as his mama....as much as his mama loves baseball that is.  Or as much as he loves his mama.  It's all the same big old loving kindness.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Connecting in Hypercyberspace

For once, Gentle Readers, I find myself at a complete loss for words. 

Wait, you are thinking to yourselves, am I at the right website?  Hmm, looks like Kim's blog, smells like Kim's blog, feels like Kim's blog, tastes like hummus, but...that doesn't sound like Kim, being at a complete loss for words.  Oh, wait, I see.  She is just saying she's at a loss for words.  But look, she found some because she is still writing them.  Yes, yes, this is the right website...

but then, you might just get bored and press "Next Blog" and see what happens. 

I did that once and found Collagemama, who has a wonderful sweet blog that I now follow.  I did that another time and found a very funny librarian/wife/mother's blog.  She said the best way to read is to curl up with a good book and a bad librarian.  Indeed!

Go ahead, click on Next Blog, try it, don't be shy.  You might make a new friend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wars Abroad, Wars at Home

Jeremiah and Sierra are excited about Veterans Day this year, for the first time, because their principal is a veteran and they are having a school assembly in honor of this day.  Jeremiah needed to fill out information about a veteran on a big cardboard star which I assume they will be placing up in the wall or hallway.  He chose, of course, his Grandad Tingley. 

Ted Tingley, US Navy 1949 to 1953, served in the Korean War on LST 914.  That will be up on the wall of stars somewhere at Oakdale later today, along with the information of other kids' chosen veterans.   I feel incredibly proud of my dad.  And grateful for so much.

The school my kids attend is the ESL center for the school district.  Many of the kids are from countries in Africa, Asia, a few from Latin America though there is another grade school ESL program that primarily serves the Spanish-speaking community here.  Some of them, who have come from places like the Congo, have likely seen war first-hand as well.  There are over 200 people from the Congo living in our town.  One man, who was a medical doctor there, brought his family to the US to escape the horrors that are happening in his home country.  He is working to improve his English enough to get back into the medical field here, as well.   His daughter is in the first grade class that comes to the library when I volunteer there on Monday afternoons.  She is always smiling.  I imagine her as a young woman some day, becoming aware of sacrifices her dad made for her, and feeling that same pride and gratitude.

Another child in that same class has gone through a different sort of war.  His father, divorced from his mother, was recently sentenced to prison for killing his girlfriend's 2 year old child.   How can this boy have a chance to grow up and feel any pride?  It breaks my heart to see him.  Yes, he forgot his library book again this week.  And I think, so what?  I imagine him as a young man some day, and I cry for him.  I cry for him now, sometimes.  I hope he has a grandfather who is kind, or an uncle who knows what it is to make sacrifices for your family.  Someone to show him the way.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Forget Me Not

Today is National Forget Me Not day.  So don't forget to not-forget-me and your other friends, family, and people you love. 




Forget-me-not day is for remembering the living.  Though you can not-forget any one or anything you want today. 

If you feel forgetful today, try some of this:


Gingko, in the form of gingko biloba, is supposed to help with not-forgetting.

One thing about gingko, in the form of the fallen fruits of female gingko trees, is that if you step on them you and everyone around you will be sorry because of the very very bad smell that then stays on your shoes for the day.  You may try to forget that smell, but you would be lucky if, in this case, you could not-remember. 

It is against the law to plant female gingko trees here in Uppity town.  Thank goodness.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

McFlurry Wars

I hit the Snooze button on the alarm this morning, gave myself a little more shuteye.  The kids, however, are waking up plenty early with the time change.  Sierra lamented that it is no longer dark when she wakes up.  She wants to get up even earlier.  That girl scares me sometimes.  So between the later sleeping on my part, earlier rising on the part of the little people, I have much less time for blogging this morning.

So, blog later! you are probably thinking.  Ha. Ha.  No.

I blog when I wake up, drinking that first cup of coffee, which I'm doing now.  I blog when the house is quiet, which it is now only because squabbling factions have been separated and the shouting has died down.

Yesterday after school Sierra got spitting mad when she heard that Jeremiah, who had a doctor's appointment for a checkup, had gotten his flu shot while there, then was treated by his mother (that would be me) to a McDonalds McFlurry. 

Last night Jeremiah had about a half-hour of being one of the sweetest children who ever graced the face of Planet Earth.  He talked about growing up and if he became a professional athlete, he would buy me a condo or house in the town where he plays.  He would make sure I got to sit in the dugout with the team if the sport was my beloved baseball.  He would get Sierra airline tickets and front row seats if she wanted to attend any away games.

Sierra wasn't buying that line, however.  She was still holding out for a McFlurry.

This morning, however, she seems to be more interested in a pancake.  Thank goodness.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Walk in the Grove

Yesterday after church Mark W. volunteered to lead the kids and anyone else who dared go with us on a hike at Funks Grove. So 4 kids, 2 moms, 3 other women, and Mark hit the trail about noon.

It was a perfect day and the kids ran ahead and played and threw a lot of sticks into the woods.  We ate some lunch.  We took a lot of pictures because we were so happy to be together outside in the warm sun. 


Here is Mark, our fearless leader.  Also a retired history professor and author of several books!

This is what contented women look like, as we just had some honey crisp apple slices and the kids are off torturing some innocent sticks.

The kids said they were looking for deer, but they came back with Jen instead who was late to the walk because she couldn't pull herself away from watching the NYC Marathon.  I'm so glad they found her because she is a wonderful person, and also she brought macaroons from the Fresh Market.  And shared them, of course.

After hiking, exploring, and sharing some food in the woods, the moms, the kids and Jen wanted to keep hanging out in the sunshine.  We drove to another part of the park, where there is a nature center and some activities for the kids. 

The kids played on a zipline, climbed up in a treehouse,  and played in the creek.  One young woman was determined to get dirty, which her mother resisted until she remembered, eventually, that when it comes to kids and mud, Resistance is Futile.






This last photo is one of my favorite pictures I have ever taken, and it shows Karys's shoes at the last nanosecond before they got covered with mud!

Time to come back to Earth, Sierra, and head home.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Yesteryear, Yesterday

Yesterday was a fine, fine day indeed.

There were no sibling squabbles in the morning.  No one threw up at my house.  I went to work for a few hours and one of my patients showed me a necklace and earrings that she is making for me (oooooh!  they are going to be beautiful and I'm going to show them off, here, when they are finished.).  I saw a wonderful film, Get Low, with Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Bill Murray.  No, I didn't go see the film with them, silly Gentle Readers, they were in the film.  I went to see the movie with my friend Willemina. 

The film was at the Normal Theater, which is a wonderful place.   I remember going there as a kid.  Specifically I remember going in there with my mom, Peggy Swearingen, and the kids from both families.  Peggy was sneaking a big shopping bag full of popcorn under her coat.  She looked pregnant and no one questioned her.   I'm not sure if we were all broke or whether my mom and Peggy just thought it would be fun.  Probably a little of both.  My friend Peg in high school once snuck a camera into a concert for our friend Jim using that same technique.  

That trick doesn't work too well in the summer, or possibly can't be done at all if your name isn't Peg.  (Kathy, make sure your mom knows she is now on call for any activities of this nature.)

The Normal Theater is one of the few places in Uppity Town that looks the same as it did all those years ago.  The other place is just across the street, the Normal Post Office.  That building is bigger, but the main part of the p.o., where I used to stand in line with my mom to wait to buy stamps, is just the same. 

After the film, Willemina and I walked around the corner to the relatively new Uppity Town Normal Marriot Hotel and Conference Center for a glass of wine at the bar.  The bar is quite nice, not dark, and blends into the lobby seamlessly.  It was a lively Saturday night at the new Marriot.   I don't know whether it's like that on any given Saturday night, but I overheard one group of people discussing the fact that because of the time change, they should stay and have another round.  So maybe that extra-hour-of-sleeping-turned-to-extra-hour-of-staying-up was a factor.

I myself somehow managed to stay up late and get up at the regular time, but I'm telling myself that I got more sleep in spite of all evidence to the contrary. 

Other things, nice things, happened yesterday, too.  Running into someone I know that I hadn't seen for a few years at the checkout line at Menards, for instance.  (Yes, I finally bought the paint for the bathroom project.  Watercolor Lilies is in the House!)   People drove nicely all over town.  I made a patient who is very sad, for good reasons, smile. (By being silly and kind of obsessed with her beautiful bathrobe her son gave her for her birthday.)   I heard a song on the radio I hadn't heard for a long time:  Do You Believe in Magic?

Why, yes, I most certainly do.  It makes me feel downright buoyant.

Today the kids and I will be hiking some new trails at Funk's Grove with a group from NCC.  It is supposed to be another wonderful fall day, sunny and warm.   The camera will be joining us, and I hope Sierra will have some fine photos to post here tomorrow. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Flap Your Doodle and Chitty Your Bang Bang

Last night Jeremiah and I played a game called Flapdoodle.  It's a silly game that mostly involves doing or saying silly things to get to move your player across a game board.  The rules say for 3 or more players.  Did that stop Jeremiah and I from playing on our own when no one else (Sierra?  What are you doing?  Oh, you found the glitter glue pens I had saved away to use on a rainy day?  And you're creating Christmas tree designs?  Ok, then...) would play with us. 

We had to say the alphabet as fast as we could to see who could finish first...I got that one by a letter!
Jeremiah had to hum a song while I took my next turn...he hummed Jingle Bells, in case you were wondering.
I had to pretend to sleep and snore during one of his turns.
Jeremiah had to wear a sock on one hand and keep the other one behind his back while he drew his next card.
And so on.
Then I got this card:

Take off your shoes and name one of your big toes Gus and the other one Earl.  Make your toes have a conversation about potato chips.

I don't know who thought up that game card, but I am almost certainly related to them. (Connie?  Moonlighting again?)

I can't remember who won the game, I think it was a tie.

Next we danced in the living room to songs we picked from Playlist.  Mama can still shake it to the music the kids pick.  That will last only a few more years, though.  Last night we played "let's get this party started" followed by "unbelievable" then "thriller" and just for wolf we played "who let the dogs out."  Wolf wasn't dancing.  He was still working on that Flapdoodle card that says "pretend to sleep and don't forget to snore."

Then Jeremiah wanted to play one more song.  And knock me over with a feather, he picked "Chitty chitty bang bang" from the movie, sung by Dick Van Dyke.  Where he heard the song I don't know, as we've never watched the movie.  But that was one of my favorite childhood books, and only later did I find out that Ian Fleming, the author, was famous for writing the 007 books.

The party ended with a movie (Flicka 2) and Sierra sobbing with a box of kleenex in her lap at the end of it.  Tears of joy and maybe a little bit sad when I said only 1 root beer float.

Then we shook our booties into bed and fell asleep!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hi Ho Hi Ho...

I got well Thursday!  Now I am rewarded with returning to work.  My boss was calling me frantically much of yesterday afternoon.  Apparently we are swamped.  No surprise.  When someone goes on vacation or gets sick, the number of patients magically doubles or triples before our very eyes.  She called me last night about 8, and I answered the phone, laughing, and said Don't be calling me this late.   She was laughing too, and had called me to tell me how she had tried to smooth my day for me a bit.  So, nice, and then I told her to, for gosh sakes, stop working and get some sleep.  She's had a sick child, too, this week.

While I wasn't talking to the boss about today's schedule, I watched a fabulous video on Netflix about origami.  It's called Between the Folds and it was mesmerizing, full of suprises.  Some very talented people around the world can take one sheet of paper (admittedly of various sizes) and create almost anything you can imagine.  Or beyond what you can imagine.  They are artists.  They are teachers.  They are physicists, mathematicians, papermakers, scientists who quit "real" jobs to pursue this fascination.  Some of them are even French!

I think I most closely related to the people who started out not folding, but crumpling the paper first.  Yes, that would be the Kimster's style.  Irish origami:  fold, spindle, mutilate!  Or is that Florida election judges origami?  Inquiring minds want to know! 

Well, that brings us to the subject of elections.  I'm going to coin a new term here (I think) and I want credit for this one.  Greedlock:  what will be happening in Congress over the next 2 years.  Argh.

More on this in future rants, I mean blogs.

Have a smooooth day everyone.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dear John, Dear Abby, Dear Me!

Dear John Prine,

What seemed like a bend in the road to recovery yesterday turned out to be, instead, a traffic circle that led me back around to some previous state of un-wellness that I passed by going the other way earlier.  More couch time is needed.  Work can wait, sort of, though the patience of my patients may soon wear thin and they will...have to wait for me, of course.  They do not want to share in my viral experiences, I'm sure.

It's difficult to stay home sick when you work in health care.  But it's still a very, very, very good idea. 

It's difficult to lie on the couch while your dog is giving you those puppy-dog eyes and whining about not getting to go out and do the business of dogs, which is to keep the home turf labeled with pee. 

I'm writing to you, Dear John, because I am reminded now of your song Dear Abby.  "

Dear Kimi, dear Kimi,
you have no complaints...you are what you are and you aint what you aint, so listen up buster and listen up good, stop wishin' for bad luck and knockin' on wood, signed Dear Abby."

I'll stop whining now John, and play some of your music to get me through. 

What's that?  Yes, my readers know you didn't really write a verse to dear Kimi.  They know I must be delirous with fever or something.  Why heck, you don't even know me or anyone in my family and you didn't answer our invitation to my parent's 50th anniversary party.  Buy we still love your music, and we can dream that you might, someday, make fun of one of us in a song.

Signed,
Not whining

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fantasy Book Group League

Sierra is home from school again today but she is definitely on the mend.  She's eating again (oyster crackers, green beans) and watching a video on Netflix Instant View.  I'm now the sickest one in the family, but at risk of jinxing myself I won't tell you that I think I turned a corner about an hour ago when I got up off one couch and moved upstairs to another one.  Baby steps.  I'm sitting upright now which is a new development that may or may not last long.  And I'm awake.  In the past 24 hours I've slept about 19 of them.

Good thing Sierra is here to take care of me.

You probably think, given the amount of sleeping and whining I've been doing that I have nothing to blog about.  Ha.  Haha.  Hahahaha.  And so on.

Before I succumbed to the virus I started reading a book of essays by Barbara Kingsolver that has been sitting on my bookshelf for a very long time waiting patiently for my attention.  The book is Small Wonder and it was written in response to the events of 9/11.  It speaks directly to my heart.  I wish Barbara Kingsolver was in my women's group book.  I wish she was my sister, my neighbor, my friend.  I wish I were as ariculate and thoughtful as she is.  I think she is the bomb, the cat's meow, that she rocks, that she is groovy and awesome.  I heart Barbara Kingsolver.

Last week I met a family of central Illinois farm women.  The mom, in her 80's, was my patient.  The 2 daughters, one of whom lived with their mom in the farm house that had been in their family for 5 generations, were there caring for their mother.  A friend had come over to sit with my patient while the daughters went to run some errands.  These 4 women were talking about books.  And it turned out the sisters and their mom all had read and loved Barbara Kingsolver.  I think the mom had read all of her books.   I love finding kindred reading spirits where I least expect them.

Returning to Barbara being invited to our book group...I would also like to invite Haven Kimmel, Isabel Allende, Alice Munro, Allegra Goodman, and Mary Doria Russell.  Now that would be one lively discussion.  At least by them.  The regular members would just be sitting around stunned and possibly drooling like fools.  What would we read for THAT meeting?  Probably something by Marilynn Robinson!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Twosdee

I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today!

I am staying home from work again today, this time with Sierra who got very sick at school yesterday in the late afternoon.  Jeremiah, who was feeling quite well by late in the day yesterday, should be able to return to the hallowed halls of learning at Oakdale Elementary.

Sierra appears to be feeling a little better this morning, able to keep down a little juice.  She is channel surfing and has so far rejected Curious George, the Beverly Hillbillies, and I've rejected Sponge Bob.  We are selective women.

I think the TV is about to be selected to Off for a while.

*^*^*^*^*

I suppose no one except Jeremiah and I are sad that baseball is over until next Spring.  Only 149 days until Opening Day, Next Year!!!

Go Cubs, Go!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween

Update on the boy:  slowly progressing and feeling better until about 4 pm when fever and exhaustion pulled ahead in the race.  Boy has been resting up since then, having a little ibuprofen, some yogurt, and today he will get to hang out at home and watch Star Trek movies to his heart's content with his mom.  His dad will be over to help out for a couple hours, though, while I dash over to teach my monthly class at the Cancer Center.

Yesterday, before she was allowed to go trick-or-treating, Sierra was told she had to clean up her room, at least enough so that I could run the vacuum in it.  For Sierra, this turns out to be
1. a task that should take 5 minutes but turns into an hours-long ordeal (yes, that s at the end of hours is intentional) and
2. an opportunity to be in her room and create! without interruption except an occasional "Sierra are you still cleaning?" from her mother.

Yesterday, about halfway through the afternoon, she came down the stairs from her room into the living room, carrying...a big rake.

I asked two questions in no particular order:
1.  Are you using the rake to clean your room?
2.  How did you go outside to get the rake without me noticing you walk by and carry the rake up the stairs?

The short answer to number 1:  No.
The short answer to number 2.  I didn't go outside to get the rake.

Long answer to number 2 is now about to unfold.

On Saturday afternoon Nick had stopped by to play with the kids.  I was raking leaves in the front yard and the kids were on their way home from their dad's house.  So I told him to wait if he wanted to.  While waiting he took Wolf for a walk and then took the rake from my hands and finished the job for me.  I was so stunned that I didn't remember to put the rake away, and apparently it spent the night sitting outside under Sierra's window.

On Sunday afternoon, while "cleaning" her room, Sierra noticed the rake, because after all climbing up on your bed and looking straight down into the yard below is an important part of the process.  She decided to bring the rake in for me, but just two little problems.

1.  Still wearing her PJs and didn't want to go outside in them
2.  Not supposed to leave her room until floor cleaned up.

So, she did what only Sierra could do.  She took a cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels, a spool of purple thread, a paperclip, and some parts of some toys I could not quite identify (they were just for decoration) and made a rake-rescuing tool.

She is definitely Ted Tingley's granddaughter!

I took some photos of her using said tool to raise and lower a big stick from the yard.  Of course you can see them, thanks for asking:








What does a girl that smart and clever dress as for Halloween?
Answer:  anything she wants to!  This year it was a red ninja, shown here with her dad in a combination of Dr. Quacko wear and an old Dora the Explorer wig.  Yes, she put that costume together for him herself!  I think he looks like a reggae rapster. 


She came home with enough candy for herself and Jeremiah, plus a small army.  So even though the boy slept through all the trickortreating he will get to experience the joys of the sugar high again soon, but not today.