Saturday, March 31, 2007

got vacuum?

My son loves the vacuum. Really. He loves it. If he finds it left out he tries to push it around (impressive for some one just 12 months old and not quite walking) or he sits in front of it and cries until someone comes and, yes, vacuums. He will help keep this house clean. I just hope this affinity lasts through his teenage years and beyond.

And speaking of vacuums, 5 minutes for mom is giving away a Dyson Slim vacuum cleaner! Click on over and enter to win. Lovely, lovely.

Of course, I only entered for my son.

the wisdom of the beach boys

Growing up at my house on Saturday morning was a musical/cleaning festival. My dad would put on a record (gasp!) in the very olden days that were my childhood, and later, CD's. He had a penchant for the Beach Boys and we were happy to indulge. (Nothing like mopping the floor to "Help me, Rhonda, he-help me Ronda. Help. me. Rhonda, Yeah! Get 'er outta my heart!")

We liked like classics (Surfin' USA) we liked the more folky stuff (Sloop John B). When I Grow Up to be a Man was great because you got to count along as those sun drenched boys contemplated the ages before them.

The more birthdays I have the more I realize that age is relative. I remember thinking as the song came to an end, counting out the coming years, that yeah, that was old. At least it struck me as old until recently when I pulled out a Beach Boys CD and turned it on and heard the familiar run from young fourteen continuing on to...

What will I be when I grow up to be a man? (twenty-two twenty-three) Won't last forever
(twenty-four twenty-five) It's kind of sad (twenty-six twenty-seven) Won't last forever (twenty-eight twenty-nine) It's kind of sad (thirty...)

Yes. If you listen hard enough you can eek out "thirty-one." But to the casual listener they end at age 29. Won't last forever indeed. Excuse me, I need to get my Geritol.

a beach boys saga, a narrative in 11 songs

Eleven songs does limit the possibilities and I'm working off one CD. We could get really complex with our story line. Songs like "Let Him Run Wild" and "Wendy, What Went Wrong?" (so many W's, that's what went wrong), and "Don't Hurt My Little Sister" would all do nicely to round out a plot line. But without further ado I present to you the following for your listening pleasure (if you have the music) and amusment.

California Girls (an adolecent boy's fantasy)*
Be True to Your School (because High School is important)
I Get Around (the young man heads out into the world)
Surfin' U.S.A. (and like any normal guy, will surf the world, or something)
When I Grow Up To Be A Man (contemplation of the future)
Barbara Ann (Not to be confused with Barber Ann, though many do- the first true love)
Wouldn't It Be Nice (planning for a blissful future)
Help Me, Rhonda (I've been ditched and I need a rebound and you're good looking)
Surfer Girl (More true love. Is it with Rhonda?)
God Only Knows (what I'd do without you- the heart felt tribute for a possible happily ever after)
Good Vibrations (because that's how every Beach Boy saga should end)

* Insert any surfing or car song into this list at will. The story will still work.

Friday, March 30, 2007

why I sometimes think being blond might be a nice thing

So yeah, I did spend some time last night in front of the mirror plucking out gray hairs from the midst of my dark locks. How long in front of the mirror? How many hairs? I don't know. And even if I did, I wouldn't tell you.

Also, happy Friday!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

the big One

I can hardly believe it, but it's been a year. Despite having so little hair that he almost is bald, my little guy is a one year-old today. He is a complete joy to have around. He loves the applause as he balances, learning to stand. When he takes a few wobbly steps his sisters burst into fireworks and he beams, utterly pleased and convinced that he deserves all the praise being lavished upon him.

Early morning light filters through the window (which is why this photo is a little dark). If hanging out on the couch with Dad and the sisters isn't worth smiling about, what is?

Birthdays, especially the first birthday, is not just for the baby. It's a birthday for the mom in a very literal sense. You can look at your little person looking back at you, and are suddenly in awe that a year ago at this time you had just gone through one of the more painful moments of your life and then you received this sweet thing as your reward.

We start early at our house by leaving copies of Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary laying around for word learning pleasure. This boy has jumped right in.

He does love books and makes a beeline for the dictionary if it's left within his reach. He will go and grab one of his own books and cry until someone comes to read it for him. And as soon as he realizes the gate to the stairs is down he's off to the races, and if you come upon him already half-way up the perilous narrow staircase he waves at you and smiles and continues on his way.

It's a thing that induces some thoughtfulness, this turning one business.

A few nights ago he woke up crying; a very unusual event. We brought him to our bed where he might have fallen right to sleep but he was just so thrilled to be there with both mom and dad that he had to keep checking we hadn't left. He would put his little hand on me and then on Ben, startling him awake. Then he would bury his head next to ours. He finally settled down by sort of laying on top of my growing belly, an option that didn't really work for me and so I carried him back up to bed. 30 minutes later he was crying again, and so sad about something. So I fixed him a bottle and in the darkness sat in the rocking chair and fed him and rocked him to sleep. I was tired. It was 2 a.m.

But there is something about being able to rock your baby in the middle of night that is so peaceful and calm. There is nothing to distract, no one to disturb; there is just the two of you. And on the eve of his birthday it was my chance to say goodbye to his babyhood. Not that there won't be other sleepless nights for us. But he won't be so little, or so accomodating as to willingly lay his little head on my chest and go to sleep. And he won't be our baby much longer. And as tired as I was I was grateful.

Happy Birthday, sweet boy. I love you so much.

Just arrived! Good Morning!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

just a hint

It turns out that reduced fat Oreos are tolerable, when blended into massive amounts of vanilla ice cream. It makes them taste just like the real thing! But with 30% less fat!

In the cookies, that is.

Monday, March 26, 2007

nature calls

When we first moved out to New York one of the things that startled me was that the birds sounded different. Bird calls. You don't really think of them as something to get nostalgic about. But different birds, indeed, do make different sounds and the birds here are different birds from there.

After getting over the homesickness factor, the chirping has become what chirping is: just some background noise; a pleasant but subtle reminder that Spring is here. Except for one bird. He is the one who wakes me up in the morning. He remindes me of a car alarm.
But a car alarm that I find charming. Which, of course, no real car alarm would induce me, could induce me to feel that way, and this is how I know I am truly listening to a bird.

However, when I first became aware of this bird, I was convinced he was simply imitating what I had heard from a car a street over the night before. But it's pleasant to lie in bed in the morning and listen for a few minutes (while trying to figure out how to recreate it for a blog post, or something). Twooouuuut. Twoooouuut. Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet. Twooouuut. Twooouuut. Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet. Well, that's my attempt at an onomatopoeic recreation. My bird is really much more nuanced than that. Which is how it should be.

Friday, March 23, 2007

our sorry state of affairs

Ben, to baby crawling around: Eat your cheese pieces.

Me: He's already eaten a lot of his cheese.

Ben: He's crawling around under the table and eating other things.

Me: Well, it can't be that old, I just swept last night.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

gross anatomy

Yesterday my daughter asked me what color the brain is. Gray. How did I know this? Because I took an anatomy class, where you study the body (yes, cadavers and everything). Yes, I saw a real brain. She wanted to know if I still had it? No. But did I take it home with me? Yikes. No, it had to stay at school. Did I ever see bones? Yes. I held them in my bare hands. Did I make a skeleton? No, but I saw a skeleton. (An aside from my other daughter: was I scared? No. She said she's scared of boy skeletons but not girl skeletons.) Did I know the person/body/cadaver? Well, sort of, I mean, I was pretty familiar with their muscles and organs and ligaments, etc.) Was it one of my friends? (I burst out laughing.) No. Was it one of my grandmas or grandpas? No. So if one of my friends got hurt at school and died would we use their body? (Can you just see it? Some poor student collapsing and dying from the stress of finals week on campus and the pre-med students get there first and take him straight to the anatomy lab.) No, they use people who have offered their bodies to science.

What an odd place this world is to a kid. She had no idea we were embarking into Zoology 260 when she asked me a simple question about color. Let this be a lesson to you: You just never know what you're going to learn, so keep asking those questions.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I'm looking forward to some nice, sunny, cheerful weather that my kids can happily run outside in, no more ice and snow on the ground (not that your friend Winter gave us too much of that, but still) and a lot of lovely green, sprinkled with pink tulips and yellow daffodils. Please, don't disappoint. Sincerely, me

we're all family anyway

This past Christmas my dad and mom each chose a story to record and then sent the books with the tapes so that the girls could listen to Grandpa and Nana reading to them while following along.

The other day I put on the tape that my dad made. As soon as my youngest daughter heard his voice she squealed with delight.

"That's Grandpa! Grandpa is my friend!"

But she was immediately corrected by her older sister.

"Grandpa is not your friend," she said, "he's your uncle."

Monday, March 19, 2007

why yes, I'll take it with a nice portion of guilt served up on the side

Oh to be a parent. Wait, I am a parent. Oh to be, not a perfect parent, but at least one who doesn't completely flip out at her kids when waking up from a nap only to find one child teasing, in brilliant, subtle, tormenting fashion, the other child to the point of tears, which only leads to that child banned to the outer-existences of the upstairs, a mother whose temper is out of control, an exhausted but guilty conscience and a really, really, long, run on sentence.

Sigh. Perfection just never comes soon enough.

and so, not having a lot to say...


Just a few cool images from stockxchng.

Friday, March 16, 2007


So I survived. You know, those sneaky toga clad, knife bearing Romans that go around on March 15th stabbing people to death? They didn't get me. I think I had some close calls, but I deftly slipped around corners and up stairs and into the bathroom and avoided any incidences that may have sent me to the emergency room...

(Nurse #1: Man, I hate the Ides of March! Look at all these sorry stabbed people.
Nurse #2: So do I. You think people would learn. Didn't they teach this stuff in school?
Nurse #1: I dunno. I had to learn about poor old Julius in English, and I tell you what, next to knowing CPR, that has been handy information.
Nurse #2: So, I'm grabbing lunch. Can I get you a salad?)

Really, I owe it to my kids who have helped me hone the skills required to get into the bathroom alone, no matter how close the pursuer. So, maybe I'll give them a break and clean up the laurel leaves scattered around the house by myself.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

um...this is where the title goes

Ben made it home safe and sound, and seemed to have developed narcolepsy while he was away, because yesterday at different times I found him asleep on the floor downstairs, on the floor upstairs, in the chair, on the couch... well, he did spend all night on the plane. Actually for the two weeks before he left to Utah he was working very late and getting up very early. I for one, however, am shocked that a restful few days away from the family, filled with interviews with a myriad of people and teaching a class and giving a lecture would not have cured him from his sleep-deprived state.

Ben stayed at a Residence Inn while he was gone and when he called to tell me of the deluxe state of his dwelling the two most important conveniences were 1) the garbage disposal and 2) the (oh heaven) dishwasher. You know you live in New York when... We decided that the monthly cost would be approximately the same as what we pay for rent, plus free internet service! So I think our next move may be to a Residence Inn. If we're lucky, maybe we can find one with a pool. Also, then I wouldn't have to make the beds.

It's nice to have him home, because, kuddos to you single parents, I don't know how you do it. So he's a little tired, I'm little tired. The kids are a little grumpy because they expected yesterday to be sort of a "carnival with Dad" day and it wasn't quite that. But they did get to go to the park, and watch part of Annie for the first time! Miss Hannigan. Hmmm. Honestly, I'm not sure if my girls are too young for her, or not young enough.

I did get to go to Costco. By myself. Ben said to take my time, and so, dang it, I did. I walked slowly up and down the aisles. I considered buying sparkly colored pens I don't need (only $9.99 until March 18th!). I avoided buying ice cream in bulk and a Mariah Carey greatest hits CD. I was amused at all the older retirees who hang out at Costco on a weekday afternoon trying out all of the samples and then discussing their merits. Later on the phone with my mom I said how nice it had been. And she laughed and said you know it's sort of sad when it's the trip to Costco or Walmart alone that is the highlight of your day. She can say that because she has looked forward to those trips herself.

So there you go. I'm sure this was fascinating for you. I'm now going to see about e-filing my taxes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

anywhere the wind blows

Ah. But who's in charge of the wind?

These past few days Ben has embarked on a little journey, the results of which will significantly alter our future. He has gone to Utah for a job interview, and I am here with the kids, and we both are left at night, alone, wondering, as to how this thing is going to play out.

I am open to either outcome. Stay. Go. There are pros and cons to both. Well, yeah. I have to be open to either outcome, since I don't make the final decision. Obviously you don't apply to a job if you aren't interested in it. And there are a lot of things about this one that I would be interested in. But it's not like we're entertaining any 'end of the world' scenarios here.

Of course, it's not actually my job. But it's kind of like marriage; you marry the guy, you marry the family; you get the job, the family gets the job. Maybe that's why they say that the best things come in small packages--there are less ramifications. But that leaves me wondering, if you really look at life, how many things actually come in a small package? Very few.

We won't know for awhile what the outcome will be. And it's been a process anyway, so I am trying to continue in that philosphical vein to which I have become so attached, with the added caveat that I just shouldn't think about it too much, and life will go on it's merry way and be easier.

The truth of the matter is this: you do what you can do, and you leave the rest to God. And that's the comforting thought, because He can see much farther than Ben or I ever could. And in things like this, I've found that the best place to be is in the palm of His hand, taking care of the little things and letting Him take care of the bigger ones.

Monday, March 12, 2007

out of the mouth of babes

Yesterday on our way to the airport our daughter unexpectedly exclaimed "Hey! We just passed where we're gonna die!" She said it in such a jovial, matter of fact manner. It was a little alarming. Ben had to verify with her.
"That's where we're going to die?"
"Yeah. Where we'll be killed."

Understand, this is certainly not out of the realm of possiblilty. We are driving to JFK Airport, in the midst of New York drivers, who are listed as a synonym under the word aggresive in your dictionary. Had our daughter suddenly revealed some sort of sixth sense? It wasn't a completely comfortable moment. Until I had an ah-ha.

"Did we just pass a cemetary?" I asked her.
"Yeah! Where we'll be dead!"


Friday, March 9, 2007

are you happy?

So I took a happiness quiz this morning. I passed with flying colors. I am HAPPY!

Okay, it was a stupid test. Consider that all of the questions had two possible responses and tended to border on the extremes. Since this morning I decided it was healthier to be a glass half-full kind of person I generally went with the happy answer "A". Here's a sample question: Do you have personal goals for yourself, and live a life that reflects your values and spiritual beliefs?

a) Yes, I live a very well-examined life. I have some general goals and try to live my life according to my personal and spiritual beliefs.

b)I know I'm not living my ideal life, and I don't have a clear strategy to better incorporate my personal and spiritual values into my every day life. I just do what I have to do to get through the day.

Always one for a little nuance, what I wanted to be able to answer was c) My life is semi-examined, and maybe if I had a few more brain cells that I could devote to the subject, it would be more-so. But honestly, probably not a lot more. Who really lives a very well-examined life? I do have general goals, and specific goals for that matter. And I am trying to live according to my personal and spiritual beliefs. I admit, I don't live an (or my) ideal life. I do what I have to do to get through the day. But honestly, sometimes that's enough and not so bad.

This answer obviously was not a choice.

The truth is, there is an "ideal" life. We dream about it. We think we see people who posses it, or at least, portions of it. But actually, that Ideal Life doesn't really exist and often it's based completely on destinations and never the journey. My real "ideal" life is different. It is almost all about the journey.

My real ideal says that it's okay for life to be hard. That it may not always be pleasant, but it's required for the growth I'm aiming for. My real ideal says that while I may not like or be comfortable putting myself out for other people, that when I do, I see it's been a good thing. My real ideal says that a lot of the standards I measure myself by are silly and to go throw them out the window. My real ideal has standards I'd like to meet but they do require a lot and a lifetime of work. My real ideal says it's okay if I don't always measure up to the worthwhile standards, but that I need to keep on trying, and that someday, I will. My real ideal says that there is joy in the small things, that I can do more than I think I can, that I should be willing to give myself and everyone else a break. And that God is over all.

True happiness is found in the small but important places of our lives. That quiz may have been completely silly and way too simplistic, but you know? It was right. I am happy.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Corruptive Influence and Destructive Tendencies of Childhood: When Good Markers Go Bad

The other day I went around thinking up article titles for a journal that would cover the events of my day in an abstract, obtuse, but somewhat interesting way, if you were familiar with the subject matter. You know, Academic Motherhood, or something.

Maybe I need to get out of the house a little more often.

Monday, March 5, 2007

a good omen?

This morning when I opened up the new can of formula there was not just one, but two plastic scoops waiting to be put to use.

Friday, March 2, 2007

it's the simple things

We've been keeping a lookout for a car that Ben can use to get to and from work. Something that runs, gets decent gas mileage, but far from fancy. It's amusing to see how people present their vehicles-for-sale. This morning while looking through some adds, Ben came across this little gem.

1991 honda accord BUY TODAY!!!! - $650

come see and buy the car today. great condition super clean. alot of miles but car does not run, needs new engine$650 must sell ASAP call me if u can come to see the car TODAY

Yes, a little gem of an ad, I should say. Not so much the car.