Monday, January 28, 2008

The Monday Mash (aka Brain Dump)

So Nat is taking pictures of her butt cheek tonight because last night after her bath she got a little too close to the heater when she was nude and now has 5 red stripes where her tender skin touched hot metal. Ouch! Thankfully she thinks it's funny now.

My little Shelby finally (finally!) brought home a Friday Edit Test with a perfect score (they have to correct a sentence for errors then find pronouns, common nouns, subject, predicate, etc. in another). She has been bombing them up until now and we have worked very hard together trying to get these concepts to seep into her brain. Success at last!

Cam called to tell me that he's making his girlfriend a bouquet of origami flowers for her birthday. Never mind that he's never done origami before. He said it took him an hour and a half to make the first one. If anyone has the patience and attention to detail needed to do it, he does! He was pretty proud of coming up with the idea and wanted to tell me about it.

He also started back to classes today, started his new job at Jamba Juice last week and somehow finds time for band rehearsals, a social life and sleeping till noon. How he'll find the time to do eleven more flowers by February 7th I don't know!

Mike got home late last night from his BBQ rib contest trip

with first place trophy in hand.

He is quite proud, and this afternoon took the trophy (along with Shelby's Girl Scout cookie order form) all around town to show off. He came back with orders for over 50 boxes of cookies, so he earned extra "Brownie" points today--which he needed, by the way, because...

I was a little perturbed when I uploaded his photos from his trip onto the computer and saw blue skies and palm trees--

--taken on the same day that I was in a freezing house without power, and snow up to my---- know!

The funny thing is that I was traumatized by being snowed in and not having heat and power and Nat's take on it yesterday was, "Wasn't that fun when the power was out and we got to all sleep in mommy's bed and watch a movie?" So what was a terrifying experience to me was a fun adventure to her.

Sis received this gift from my girlfriend who just got back from Disneyland. Sis asked her to bring something back for her, and, it is.

Luke Frywalker. He is pretty darned adorable.

As for me, I started in earnest today on my getting in shape program using Jorge Cruise's 12 Second Sequence book so that I will be looking good by March 15 when I'll be performing with a troupe at the biggest bellydance festival on the west coast, Rakkasah! I'm so excited I can hardly stand myself. I just by chance got invited to dance with these women, who just by chance got lucky enough to get a dance spot at this popular festival. Woo-hoo!

Ok, done with my brain dump. Off to read a story to the girls and get them to bed. Life is good.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bear Turds

This is my favorite quick chocolate fix. Behold the loveliness of my famous Bear Turds:

I've been making them for almost as long as I remember. I was probably 10 or 11 I guess, when I was bored and craving chocolate, and came across this no bake recipe for Chocolate Drop Quickies in my grandma's Betty Crocker cookbook circa 1961.

Grandma must have given this book to my mom, but I know it was Grandma's because it bears the scars of surviving her house fire and I recognize her writing on the cover and inside. Thermidore was apparently on page 269 and Chicken Fried Steak was page 304. I may just have to look those up and cook them at some point.

At any rate, I started baking at a young age and these were always one of my tried and true favorites. Simple ingredients, plus they were quick and easy. And the best part of making them is licking the pan-yum!

I have called them Bear Turds for as long as I remember. I've never really thought twice about it. My family has always had a bit of an irreverent sense of humor. In fact I remember my mom making this fantastic fresh raspberry dessert and my dad, as a joke, and in hopes of keeping everyone out of the leftovers so he could have it all for himself, made a sign that said "Danger! Dog Logs-Keep out!" and placed it on the bowl containing the dessert in the fridge. (You see, he called dog poo, dog logs. So instead of going out in the back yard to shovel dog poo he would go "logging".) We all got a laugh as we opened the fridge to see his sorry attempt at deterring us from consuming it. Sadly from that point on that scrumptious, gorgeous dessert became known as Dog Logs.

It is a bit embarrassing when we have friends over and the kids offer them a Bear Turd. I always cringe and hope they don't mention it to their parents when they go home: "Mom, guess what we ate at Lesley's house!" Alas, I have no one to blame but myself (and my dad)!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Prom Dress +Trauma = Prauma

Sis is going to the junior prom on February 9. We have been shopping for prom dresses since January 5. She can't find anything she likes in all of northern California. What will we do?

We scoured the mall and she didn't find a thing, then she shopped online and found a dress she liked from Nordstrom. We waited 2 weeks for the perfect dress to arrive with much anticipation. Unfortunately she didn't like it when she tried it on. Back to square one.

So today we drove to a nearby town and tried on their entire stock of formal dresses. Some were very cute. Some I liked a lot on her, and the ones I liked Sis described as "old" or looking like draperies. (I'm not sure what that says about my taste in dresses...) But again, none of them were "the dress".

So the search will continue. I think next Saturday will be our day to travel 2 hours to the biggest mall in our greater shopping area. Oh goodness, I hope we find something, because I don't think there's anything worse than a teen girl with Prauma!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thursday Started Pretty, But Ended Ugly!

This is how Thursday started:

But how it ended was anything but pretty. We got so much snow again on Thursday morning that the school called a 2-hour late start. We, however, didn't make it at all because I couldn't get out of the driveway in my little Honda Civic. My husband is out of town until Monday doing a rib cook-off somewhere near the Mexico border, so I'm on my own without a 4 wheel drive vehicle or a manly man to shovel and do other manly winter chores.

The girls spent a lot of time outside playing in the new snow, I spent a lot of time outside shoveling the driveway, so as not to be completely snowbound for the next 4 days. I didn't really mind ALL that much, after all, shoveling is a great workout.

My mood changed a bit when the power went off around noon. But then it came on an hour and a half later. Yay! Then it went out, then it came back on-yay again! Then it went out....and no yay...just lots of calling the outage hot line and hearing that power would be restored at 7pm. Then more waiting and watching as 7pm came and went. Boo.

I really don't like power outages, give me my modern conveniences anytime, but this time in particular was especially difficult. Not only was it just me and my 3 girls, but we don't have heat in this house if we don't have power. Unlike most the places we've lived, this house has a kerosene heater instead of a wood burning stove. Let's just say things got a bit nippy!

The four of us bundled up in blankets and ate PBJ sandwiches, then about 8pm we decided that we would all pile into my bed with all the blankets and cats in the house on top of us and watch a movie on a (thankfully fully-charged) laptop then go to sleep with the hope that in the morning we would wake up to the sound of the heater blowing. No. Such. Luck.

I was up at 5am calling the power company only to hear that they had no estimated time to restore the power. Then the school called and said there would be no school because of the power outage. Then my daycare families called and I had to tell them I couldn't watch any kids today due to the frigid temperature in my home. At 7am I was completely depressed, frustrated and hopeless. Luckily, I have a fabulous niece who lives nearby who had a fully functioning home with a working heater who came down and rescued us from our miserable living conditions. We spent the day with her and my little grand-niece and it was wonderful.

Our power was restored this afternoon. The heater has been blowing full blast for about 6 hours and the thermostat just now hit 68 degrees. We are happy and tired and looking forward to a good night's sleep. And right now it's raining and not snowing anymore. Yay!

So Thursday ended badly, and Friday didn't start out well, but now things are much better. A little heat and light will do wonders!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Snow Day

Our school district called a snow day this morning after yesterday's snow storm decided to hang around all night and make a mess of the roads. We don't get snow days very often, only on occasions like today when it snowed so much overnight that the plows couldn't get the subdivisions plowed out in time. The roads in our neighborhood have still yet to be plowed. We got a good 6-8" of snow here at the 3500 foot level, so I know they are doing some serious digging-out up the hill. I lived for many years 12 miles up the road at 5000', so I remember those days quite well!

(I was trying to get a shot of the gorgeous HUGE snowflakes that were falling yesterday afternoon. It looked like feathers were falling from the sky. Unfortunately this photo doesn't show it very well.)

The high school (which is 20 miles down the hill) didn't call a snow day so all of the kids up here still had to get to school this morning including Sis. This is really her first year of snow driving, so it's a little nerve-wracking to have her on the roads.

(Never underestimate two cute little girls dressed in pink--they are double trouble!)

All my daycare kids canceled so it's just me and the girls. Hooray! We spent a lot of time outside playing and one of Mike's friends underestimated two little girls dressed in pink and started a snow ball fight with them. He finally had to raise the white flag and surrender. Those two are relentless! We found a little sledding hill and spent some time doing that, and now we're back inside having hot cocoa. Ah...snow days, what fun!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Slurpees, Suede and Bed Sheets

Continuing on my theme of funny things kids say, at Church on Sunday we were talking about the "Word of Wisdom" (which is your basic no smoking, no drinking, no caffeine, no drugs rule) and the teacher was trying to have the kids come up with ideas of something you shouldn't put in your body because it's not good for you. Nat raises her hand, all excited because she thought of something on her own. When she's called on she says, "You shouldn't drink a Slurpee too fast because it'll give you a brain freeze!" ...not quite what the teacher was getting at, but nice try!

Then Sis is next to me the other night and starts stroking my cheek. Then she strokes her own cheek, then mine again. "Your skin feels different than mine" she says. (I roll my eyes because I have a feeling I know where this is going...) "Really" I say, playing along, "I guess you're going to say mine feels like leather, huh?" "No", she says, "yours feels more like suede" (I guess this is a compliment above leather?) "and mine feels like bed sheets, 200 thread count." That kid is just weird-but she is funny!

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Minor Technicality

The other night we had a discussion about appropriate language at the dinner table. Tonight Nat got up from the table, walked over to the couch and told us about how her bare foot had touched the dog's butt. She thought it would be ok to talk about that as long as she wasn't actually sitting at the table. I told her that it wasn't since we could all still hear it while we were at the table. A minor technicality, I know.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fall Babies and Spring Babies

My first and third children were born in the fall, my 2nd and fourth, in the spring. I don't normally label my kids, but we have all noticed that for some reason the fall babies have been very alike and the spring ones have also been similar to each other.

The similarities started with their births. The fall babies, 8-9 hour labors, 1 1/2-2 hours pushing. The spring babies? Both labors under 2 hours, one born at home with a call to 9-1-1, the other born on the side of the road. Oops!

Then those fall babies...probably two of the most chubby babies you ever laid eyes on. Their fat rolls brought to mind the Michelin Man ads. But the spring ones...kind of on the skinny side. It didn't help that they never seemed to stop moving long enough to eat!

Then the fall babies, they both have a very mellow, almost shy personalities. They are more the type to keep their emotions in check, play quietly, be introspective, but they also have a wicked sense of humor. The spring babies have both been non-stop talkers, outgoing, very dramatic, very emotional and high energy children.

When I saw this recent photo of the four of my kids (who just happened to line up in order of age) it just really seemed to illustrate the fall-spring differences. Notice the Springs, posing and smiling to make sure they look their best in the photo, and then notice the Falls making faces and mocking their siblings. A picture is worth a thousand words indeed!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Nothing Out Of The Ordinary

I had one of those mornings when I did something ordinary but realized that it was special in its ordinary-ness.

I picked up Sis from school and accompanied her to her orthodontic appointment. It was just a routine appointment, and from there we went to lunch at Perko's and had crepes and talked about prom dresses and boys.

I relayed a story to Sis in which I was at that very same Perko's with my friend and her family when she had had false labor. After visiting the birth center for an hour or so (my job was to watch her other kids while she labored) and having them release her, we went for something to eat. Here we were, she, very pregnant, her husband and their 5 kids, and me and my 5 month old Shelby, dining at Perko's in the middle of the morning. Towards the end of our meal our waitress came by and told us that the elderly couple that had recently finished their meal and left had paid our entire bill. We were all flabbergasted. It was very cool.

After our lunch, I took Sis back to school and dropped her off and it occurred to me to treasure the times when I get to go to her appointments with her and have lunch, and just share an ordinary day together. She will be grown up with her own life before I can blink.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Tooth Necklace and A French Fry Hole

The Gross Out Trifecta is now officially over, thankfully. The dog has been de-ticked, the daycare boy lost his tooth last week, and Nat finally lost her snaggle tooth yesterday. Huzzah!

Nat made sure to keep her tooth as long as possible. On Sunday it was hanging by a thread and giving her a lisping speech impediment. I was happy to send her back to school on Monday to give myself a break from having to look at the nasty thing.

When she got off the bus after school she made a bee line into the house, and there around her neck, was (drum roll please...) The Coveted Tooth Necklace.

Yes indeed, her very first tooth fell out during library time apparently, and she got to take it to the office and receive the plastic tooth-holding tooth-shaped necklace that is the envy of one and all. She wore it proudly the rest of the day.

I remember when Shelby had a loose tooth in first grade, she said, "I hope my tooth falls out at school." I asked why and her response was "So I can get a tooth necklace!" Ever since then I've been hip to the prestige of this small white treasure.

Nat, being the OCD child she is, had to wash and dry her tooth and enclose it in a ziplock baggie before it was allowed to go under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy. I swear, the Tooth Fairy was quite surprised how much noise a little plastic baggie can make when trying to surreptitiously remove it from under a pillow. Luckily the Sand Man had done his job well (might as well include as many mythical people as possible), and the Fairy made off with the disgusting incisor leaving a crisp dollar bill in its place. Oh the joy!

Oh, and the other cool thing about losing a tooth (this was a top front one) is that it makes a hole that's just the right size to put a French fry through without having to open one's mouth. Daddy made french fries last night for dinner for just this occasion. (We have strange traditions in our family, what can I say).

So not only does Nat have a coveted tooth necklace as a keepsake, she also has a fantastic French fry hole to enjoy until the permanent tooth comes along and ruins it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Power of Electricity

After hearing two stories today of people close to me suffering through days of power outages over the weekend due to the big windy storm that hit us here in northern California, I started reminiscing about the ones I've lived through. I know "lived through" sounds dramatic, but, sheesh, when you have kids going out of their minds in boredom and are cooking yet another meal on the wood stove, it does seem like life and death. Or maybe I'm just a wimp; that's a possibility too.

One time in particular stands out for me. We live in the Sierras and it seems that sometimes even the threat of a snowflake knocks our power out, so we're kind of used to going a few hours or even most of a day without power on a fairly regular basis during the winter. We keep our Coleman lanterns at the ready on top of the fridge and the kids sleep with their flashlights.

This one year in particular we were hit with a ton of snow all at once right before Christmas. It was incredibly festive. We even cross country skied in the backyard. Of course the power went out. No big deal, until it stayed out for 5...longggg...days.

I was working at the time at our historic town's little general store, which was a small 100 year old building with almost no windows. At first it was humorous to hand customers a flashlight to do their shopping with as they came through the door. On day 3 it wasn't funny or cute anymore. I felt like I was a coal miner, so dark and dreary were my days cooped up in the little store.

I saw everyone's humor diminishing, from "isn't this kind of fun and rustic", to "please just put us out of our misery". Many folks were trying to make crazy deals with anyone who had a propane hot water heater to finagle a shower. We had a friend who was the housekeeper at a local inn and she got us in one of their little chalets for a shower. People really get rather desperate when they haven't had a proper bath in several days. And oh, how incredibly good it does feel to finally get that hot shower!

Well not only did I have crazy-bored kids, a dreary and dark place of work, and the challenge of cooking meals on the wood stove, I also had a 30 gallon tank of tropical fish I was trying to keep alive. I would scoop water out and pour it back in several times a day to keep their water aerated and I also started heating up river rocks on the wood stove and putting them in the water to keep the temperature up.

Finally Christmas eve dawned and still no power in sight. The last report we'd heard was that a major line was down somewhere deep in the woods and crews were still trying to get to it through the drifts of snow. My Christmas spirit was fading fast. I had had to look at my dark Christmas tree for 5 days and it was just making me more depressed. The thought of facing Christmas morning without our tree lights was just too much for me to bear. That night we left to go down to the next town and get a decent meal and the kids happened to ask what I wanted for Christmas. I said "I want the power to come back on!"

When we returned that evening and pulled into the driveway, we could see the tree lights sparkling at us through the windows. The kids shouted, "You got what you wanted for Christmas!" and indeed I did. To the average person it was the restoration of modern conveniences, but to me it was a Christmas miracle which was the restoration of my Christmas Spirit!

And none of my fish died. The end!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

What's in a Voice?

So many people mistake me for my daughter and vice versa when we answer the phone. I don't know how many times my husband has gone into detail over some boring matter with Sis before she could break in and say, "Do you want to talk to mom?"

Sis has a friend that gets us mixed up all the time too, and she has gotten to the point where she asks which one of us is speaking now instead of just assuming and launching into her conversation that was meant for Sis.

It seems it's not just me and Sis who have the same voice. My sister and I do too. When I call my dad I always make sure I tell him it's me, because he absolutely has no idea which one of us is speaking. And I remember as a teen, frequently having friends call and mistake the two of us. And we definitely have the same goofy laugh!

My sister said that we also sounded like mom. I know she's right because I can actually sometimes hear my mom's voice coming through me. This usually happens when I'm reading to the kids that I hear her certain inflection coming out of my mouth. It's a bit strange, but comforting at the same time.

It's funny how a voice can be inherited. It makes me wonder how many of my female ancestors also had my same voice. It's kind of a neat thing to think about. That even though the person is gone, the sound of their voice still lingers. Hmmm....

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Gross Out Tri-fecta

I consider myself pretty tough. I'm not easily grossed out when it comes to matters of the body or so-called slimy critters and such. I can attend a childbirth as a coach and never cringe, the sight of blood doesn't bother me in the least, I love to hold a frog or snake, and I find praying mantis and huge orb spiders fascinating.

But when it comes to wiggly teeth and ticks...ewww!

Nat has a tooth that is just dangling right now and one of my daycare kids came today with one he could twist with his tongue as it hung from the last strands of whatever holds teeth in our heads. They love to give me a big grin while they wiggle their nasty dangling tooth at me. Ugg! Gross! It gives me the heebie-jeebies. I have no idea why.

Then there's ticks. Just the sight of their little bodies is enough to send me screaming into the other room. When Mike has to take them off the dogs I have to vacate the premises, usually shuddering and mumbling to myself. They have to be the most disgusting insects ever created. Yuck, Yuck and Yuck!

So today it was the grody tri-fecta. Two nasty dangling teeth and one filthy tick on the dog. My skin is still crawling.

Which reminds me...I need to post the infamous Tick Story. You all will love it. It's a classic.

Bambi is a Happy Movie

Over the holidays I had a conversation with my son, and he said he and his girlfriend Cassie were remembering their favorite movies from childhood and they got on the discussion of Bambi. When Cassie mentioned how sad it was that Bambi's mother died, my son was astonished, "What!? Bambi's mom dies?" This was the first he'd heard of this.

Certainly Cassie was referring to a different movie. But no, the fact is that I would only let my son watch the beginning of the movie and I would turn it off when it got to the part where Bambi's mother was gunned down by the evil hunters. I deprived him or protected him, however you want to see it.

He did say however that at random times Winnie the Pooh songs just pop into his head. Now this I can understand. From the time he was 2 he knew how to operate the VCR and would freely pop in his Winnie the Pooh movies. He watched them so many times that he could repeat almost all of the dialog. But I'll take Winnie the Pooh over Bambi any day (and let's not even talk about the beginning of Nemo, sheesh!)