Sunday, November 30, 2008

Home Sweet Home


When I had my previous job, before children, I realized that a great number of college graduates wanted to live and work in New York City. Passionately and absolutely. For some of them, this was the deal breaker. And for the life of me, I couldn't understand why.

There is a lot of legend surrounding New York City. I guess there's a challenge to living there that some people simply can't walk away from. And a city of that size has a lot of things hard to find elsewhere. Theatre. Museums. Clubs. Restaurants. For some reason, people find this place incredibly exciting and attractive.

It's sad to say, but I think many people who live in cities look down on those of us who do not. Poor, poor rural folks! They obviously have no taste, no appreciation of finer things, no need for diversity, or they would have moved. Moved to the city, with billions of other people, to overpay for their real estate, their food, their everything. Sure, culture is all around in the city, but few people who live there can afford it. The money goes to pay the rent on their shoebox. To hear cars and noise and traffic everywhere and at all times, even at 4am in bed.

I think the city is just right for some people. But I don't think I'll ever be one of those people. For me, it's too dirty, too noisy, and too crowded. Going to the supermarket there is painful. Getting from place to place requires a chess board for planning. I like to get in my car and go where I need to go moving over 3 miles an hour, without driving through a sea of pedestrians, buy what I need without worrying about how I'm going to get it home while strolling through aisles large enough to pass someone without running over a foot. I like going outdoors without running into three million people who would step over me if I passed out in the street. I like not being woken up at night by trucks, sirens, or shouting men. I like... dirt dirt. Like from the earth.

Yes, I know there's a trade off. And for the most part I think people make the choice that's right for them. I saw Jamie and Anne-E's apartment, and it really is a great place. I know they are going to be happy there. For me, the city can be fun, but mostly I find it stressful, and it's not the kind of stress I feel a person should ever have to get used to. I don't want to ever have to get used to that sort of stuff. I know people come to visit me here and are immediately sure that Stephen King's monsters will pop out of the woods and eat them simply because they can't walk to a bookstore or a drugstore. This upsets them. I tell them to take a car. But I know it's the silence and the stillness that is really scary. The fact that, for a number of hours, they need to breathe and be with themselves and not have to go go go go run run run. I guess that slowing down can be as scary as speeding up.

I could use a few new places to eat here, though.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The City That Never Sleeps


Thanksgiving is always a circus. And my trips to New York are always hectic. So these past few days have been... well, a hectic circus?

I saw Mike Daisey's show, If You See Something Say Something, which was very good. There are two more shows Sunday at the Public, and you should really look into going if you're in NY.

I didn't get to hang out with Mike, however, because I felt the need to rush back to my parents' apartment and take care of my sick children. Nate got an ear infection the day before we left. I'm sure Andy has one now - he's been coughing and snotting and fevering since Wednesday. And Nick complains of a headache every two hours.

Despite many illnesses, we managed to make it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we saw knights and mummies and statues. Friday we saw the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, which was... spectacular. Although I'm not sure who thought a tap routine to The Twelve Days Of Christmas was entirely necessary. And I saw Anne-E and Jamie's new apartment!

Thursday Steve took Nick and Nate to the Parade. And although I didn't drink until dinner, I managed to drink quite a lot, more than I realized, until I spilled wine all over Meg's Father. Then I forced everyone to listen to me screech out songs I didn't know the words to.

New York is a great place to visit.... but honestly, I can't see why anyone would want to live there. I'm home in my quiet house. I hear no noises from outside but the occasional car or dog barking. And although I miss my family already, tonight I can relax and sleep well.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Letter To Santa

Dear Santa

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving as much as I did. I'm sure you were all very busy what with all the mouths to feed - those elves and all the reindeer. Do you get turkey up there at the North Pole?

I know that it's a busy time of year, and judging from how long the holiday decorations have been out, I'm late instead of early. But given your limited time I thought I might send out a few helpful hints about gifts for the people in our household. I know it is difficult because, unlike so many people, none of us really NEED anything. In fact, this house is cluttered with toys and objects and... random stuff. But these tips might come in useful.

First of all, PLEASE NO STUFFED ANIMALS. I know they are cute and cuddly and hard to resist, but please PLEASE resist. We have so many already. In fact, if you need some, let me know and I can send a few your way!

Second, please consider SIZE when you deliver gifts. I know, huge ride around toys and life sized stuffed animals get the biggest reactions, but they are also the most difficult to find homes for. While we do have a good sized home, most of it is filled with stuff. Besides, doesn't your sleigh get kind of heavy and weighed down? Think of those reindeer! And consider toys that will fit on a shelf or in a toy bin.

NOW - enough of what NOT to do. Specifically, Nicholas has asked for "a small pink oven" that I think he saw in a TV commercial, and I am not planning on getting it for him because WE HAVE AN OVEN. (Irony at work - this is the same reason my mother refused to get me one.) Nathan has not specified anything other than "WALL-E." The boys are particularly taken with Wall-E, and while they have the movie, I know they would appreciate any toy or object with him on it. (Not luggage, please.) They also like Batman, Spiderman, Cars (the Pixar film) and I can talk them into almost anything Disney. As always, they particularly appreciate books or art supplies, and they have recently become interested in kid's cookbooks. And Andy is too little to make requests. He will probably be happy with the paper and the boxes.

Now, my boys are kind of strange. Maybe it's my fault, but they really like thinks like new plates, cups, flashlights, bags, sheets, umbrellas, and other items that would not usually be considered TOYS. Just so you know. They also really like new clothes. Sizes I am currently buying (meaning room to grow) are as follows:

Nick - size 5 clothes, size 11 shoe
Nate - size 4 clothes, size 9.5 or 10 shoe
Andy - size 18 months, size 5 shoe

Oh, and Santa, I just want to remind you that Andy's birthday is the week before Christmas and Nate's is the following month. I know the holidays are distracting, but I'm sure at least Nate would appreciate a phone call on turning 3.

As for Steve, I have no idea what he wants. If I did, I wouldn't tell you, I'd go out and get it myself. I can tell you he appreciates everything, and he is constantly buying computer wires and boxes and complicated items from newegg.com.

And finally, me. I like everything, and require practically nothing. If you want to get me something really great you can put a new deck in your sack! Or a gift certificate to Home Depot would come in really handy, as I plan on doing a lot of painting around the house in the coming year. I also love books, blank notebooks, pens, random scrapbooking stuff, clothes, stiff drinks, and walks on the beach. Or, if you want something easy but that will be REALLY appreciated, get me some Olay face cream or a case of Dr. Pepper. Or some caramels.

Anyhow, that's all the help and guidance I can give. If you have any specific questions, or you want to check and see if anyone has anything, give me a call or email me! I hope your Holiday Season is bright and happy! See you Christmas Eve!

Kathleen

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

I'm taking an "internet vacation" until after Thanksgiving. I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and I'll be counting my blog readers among the things I'm thankful for this year.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

O Christmas Tree!

Today we went to the Festival Of Trees! This is the one where people and businesses decorate trees, and they are usually really creative - this year we saw trees decorated with toy trucks, a "tea" tree with boxes of tea as ornaments and a garland of sugar packets, a Dr. Suess tree with colorful fluff for branches and a few books underneath... All in all there are hundreds of trees. And each tree is raffled off. Last year we one a tree - I think we might have been one of five people who bid on it, as it was rather dull, as trees go. But still, we won! I'm not convinced our luck will hold this year. Although I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the "Paris" tree, or the one decorated with boxes of chocolate.

Friday, November 21, 2008

out of fuel

I know my posts of late have been very short or... not there. And tonight I was going to post something real and full of tasty comment to make up for all that. The only problem is I am so very exhausted and all I can think of is curling up in bed with the Stephen King book I just purchased.

I was talking all day long. I don't think I took a full breath. And all of the talking went like "You wrote on the bed with crayon? Why would you write on the bed with crayon? We need to clean - Andy get off the chair? What are you crazy? You're going to fall and crush your head. Nathan, stop jumping on the bed and put on your clothes. We're late so find your shoes. Shoes! Shoes! You can't wear sandals. Well where did you take them off? You need to wear a coat. You don't need gloves. You need to sit in your own car seat, so please move over. Use your words! Do NOT hit your brother. PLEASE stop crying Andy I can't hear what your brother is saying!"

And blah blah blah. I can't stand myself by the end of the day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

yum

I'm just winding up for Thanksgiving. I'm excited about pie.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good Mario

Nick and Nate have a game.

"Want to play Good Mario and Good Captain Hook?" Nick will say to Nate. Or sometimes it's "Bad Mario and Bad Luigi" or "Bad Captain Hook and Bad Mario" But whatever the game is, they play it a lot. It involves a lot of running around, a lot of jumping, and a lot of yelling. Sometimes it involves putting winter boots on, and sometimes changing into PJ's. Sometimes both.

"Who is Good Mario?" I asked Nate.

NATE: He's just Mario.

ME: Yes but are you Good Mario?

NATE: No! I'm Good Nathan!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fox Attack

Driving the kids to school last week, an animal ran out into the middle of our street, and I had to slow down so that I wouldn't plow right into it. At first I thought it was a cat - something that looked almost Siamese. But as I got closer I realized it was huge, more like a dog. Except it wasn't really a dog - the face just didn't look dog-like. "Cat" and "Dog" being the animals I am most familiar with and expect to see on a daily basis, I could almost hear my brain shuffling through the animals I was familiar with, trying to find the right one. Squirrel? too big. Deer? Obviously not. Mountain Lion? no. Fox?

Ha! Had to be the fox. Many moons ago, Steve and I heard a fox out in the back yard, only it sounded like a woman screaming - an old woman who had been screaming for a long time screaming. And it really is a scary sound. We then saw the fox at the end of the yard, far off in the distance as recently as this summer. And even from here we could see that it didn't look healthy.

But that day she was in the street, in a driveway, clumps of fur missing, and her tail bent at a 90 degree angle downward. She looked beat up and sick. If you were a healthy fox, would you go prancing around the more densly populated areas when there were conservation lands and woods available?

Two days later a garbage truck pulled over in front of our house - not OUR trash guys, but another company entirely, to tell Steve there was a fox down the road, and to look out if we had kids. Concerned, we called Animal Control, who told us that, if we saw it again, we could call in and they would send someone over. I guess we're just supposed to invite the fox in and distract it with tea and cookies until the police get here? I mean, I see their point - who wants to go tromping about the woods looking for a fox?

Today I happened to glance out the window from the study and THERE WAS THE FOX, walking right up to our house, right to the deck. I turned and opened the door to the basement, where Steve was working. "Steve! Fox! Fox! Outside!"

Now, Steve later told me he thought I was shouting "Box! Box!" Which makes no sense, but I guess makes just about as much sense as "Fox!" given zero context. He was confused. But then Gunther, who was outside, started barking, and I we rushed outside.

It probably isn't a smart thing to rush out toward a wild animal you think may be infected with rabies. Especially with Andy in your arms. I honestly can't tell you what I was thinking, or if there was any thought process going on at all beyond instinct. Bad instinct.

Naturally, the fox had turned tail and run back where he had come from, or at least that's the direction Gunther was barking in. We got over it pretty quickly, and I started thinking it was probably a different fox altogether, because this one seemed smaller and had no broken tail. But it was enough to get Gunther very upset, and he spent the next twenty minutes peeing on everything visible and invisible in that part of the yard.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hair, Hair, Hairhairhair


Nate got a haircut. For fun, they threw in a little something extra.

It didn't even need washing out, and by the time we took baths there was no trace of green at all. But while it lasted, it was a hoot.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jingle jingle

Is it me, or is it just too early for Christmas music?

We're rehearsing it in the choir, but that makes sense to me because it requires preparation, and then there will be two or three weekends to sing in.

But turning over entire radio stations to Winter Wonderland and such before Thanksgiving? I find this a bit much.

Additionally, the Giving Tree is up at the Library. The tree's ornaments are slips of paper shaped like mittens, and each has a gift on it - PJ's for a 10 year old girl, boots or mittens for a 4 year old boy, etc. The items are for families that can't afford these things on their own, and I always make it a point to look for a few little girl items that I can pick up, because shopping for girls is fun, especially when you don't have to hear them tell you how much they hate what you got them.

Well, I had about three seconds to look for a "good" mitten when I realized that Nick and Nate were just plucking them off the tree like it was mitten harvest time. I kept taking them away and trying to put them back on the tree, but it takes MUCH longer to do that than to yank them down. Nick eventually stopped, but Nathan couldn't understand WHY he COULDN'T HAVE A MITTEN!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kindergarten


Nick is starting Kindergarten next year.

New Hampshire has required that all towns have public Kindergarten for the 09-10 school year. I am fairly certain that our town did not want a public Kindergarten, and would have been perfectly happy to put it off indefinitely. But they have to do it, and so they will. Five days a week, for 2 hours and 30 minutes, no recess, in mobile classrooms on rented land.

This means we have to make a choice. Because the school we send the boys to now HAS a Kindergarten, and they need to figure out if they will keep having one. For a few hundred dollars a month Nick could go to school from 9 to 3pm in a setting he knows with teachers he is familiar with, in a program that has had 20 years to establish itself.

Personally, I don't think Nick's school is going to have a problem keeping its program. But Nick will be going to the public school.

This is a complicated choice for me. It's not just money, although it's always there as a concern. but there's much more to it that that. If I were to be honest, I would admit that there's an element of stubbornness to my decision. I think the school board left it to the last minute and is putting together a minimal program to actually discourage parents from sending their children, simply to justify their own belief that a Kindergarten is unnecessary. But even though it seems thrown together on the outside, I'm not convinced that the actual teaching and learning will be that much different. Being part of the public Kindergarten should ease his transition to First Grade. And yes, the timing and the schedule will be different, but having him at home a few more hours each day won't hurt, either. It will leave time to do other things.

I get so torn up over choices when it comes to the boys and school. I absolutely hated school, the dread starting to build up as early as Sunday morning. I know that this isn't true of all kids, and that many children actually enjoy school, at least while they are young. I want so badly for this to be true of my boys. I want them to like learning, and not to feel overwhelmed. And each decision I make I wonder if it's the right one, or if I'm setting my kid up to be miserable.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

oops.

How bad is it when you are driving, and you go to turn down a street that you frequently turn down, and you suddenly realize it's a one way street? In the other direction?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nothing to see here

No, there really isn't anything to see. I'm very tired and my mind is drawing a great blank, despite the think and worry creases in my forehead. Sorry!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Andy In Action... Again

After posting the video of Andy walking the other day, I got a few comments from people (my mother) expressing surprise at how good his walking has become.

Today Andy tripped and hit the corner of his eye on the lowest shelf inside the fridge. I have no idea how one would even TRY to make this happen, unless you were that short.

For Christmas last year (I promise this ties in) Gramma and Grampa Claus gave the boys a musical mat. They really like it, but I keep it in the toy closet because it tends to not get turned off, and this way they get excited whenever I bring it out. This is the first time Andy has really taken notice of it. Please note how well he moves his little feet.


video

Sunday, November 09, 2008

With Pink On It

I made my own birthday cake.

It may sound odd, but it was my own choice. See, there was this cake recipe I have been wanting to try for a while. I did have to make dessert for a church supper, but this cake seemed less of a grown up gathering kind of cake and more of a... well, a birthday cake. So I grabbed my chance.

The thing is, I got this recipe off the back of a cake flour box. So it called for very specific ingredients. You know. They were sitting around saying "What can we put in this cake? Hey! We make rust flavored jelly beans! Let's use those instead of milk!"

OK, so it wasn't that strange. Even though I had to buy clear vanilla. And the cake itself tuned out very well. But the icing called for raspberry syrup. I have never in my life seen raspberry syrup, unless you count the concoctions I have been known to whip up with jam and regular pancake syrup. And I somehow don't think that's what it was asking for, because my name isn't Smucker's. I looked in every place I could think of at the grocery store, but I couldn't find it. So instead I decided I would use the Hershey's Strawberry syrup we had at home, the kind to make pink milk, which Nick insists he loves, even though he doesn't and never drinks it. I figured it couldn't be much different, right?

Well... who knows. But the picture of the cake on the box was a really nicely decorated pale pink cake. And I know that pictures lie, and I shouldn't believe the back of the box... And I definitely didn't expect to be able to decorate it the same way... but my cake... well... Barbie would have been proud.
You can't really get a good idea of the BRIGHTNESS of the pink from these photos. It's a lot darker and PINK in real life, kind of clashing with the raspberries on the top. But it turned out PK, I guess. Despite the cloying and overwhelming fake strawberry taste from the icing. I'm thinking about making this cake again, but using chocolate syrup in the icing!


By the way, my kids told me this was the best cake ever, and all day yesterday Nathan kept trying to climb on the counter "to look at the cake." Only I couldn't convince him that we don't look with our index fingers.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Aged Fleen


The Photo Booth application on this laptop is fun! I can take any number of funny looking pictures of myself with it.

But this is the one where my nose doesn't look oddly huge. I wonder why?

Anyway, today is my birthday. Tomorrow I will have a funny - ish cake story. But right now Andy has emptied a container of yogurt onto his lap, so I have to go.

Friday, November 07, 2008

need new cabinets

The focus these days is all on money. Well, the economy, which doesn't seem to be exactly the same thing, but money is how we measure it. Even though we still seem to be fine, I've become very aware that things could get "really bad" any day now, and I've started to pay more attention to my spending.

The thing is, money is like storage space. No matter how much you have, it's never enough. My house could be lines in drawers and cabinets from floor to ceiling, and I would still have a pile of laundry on the floor, and pots and pans I needed to keep on the counter because there's no room for them anywhere else. The thing is, I don't NEED all that storage space, I just think I do. It's either not full, or I'm storing stuff in the hall closet I really don't need. Like my ice skates. I can't tell you when I last put on a pair of ice skates.

So I guess when I start looking at my receipts and trying to separate needs and wants, it's a little like going through cabinets and throwing away what is broken or what is not being used.

But the day after I started my project the kids started getting sick, and doctor's appointments and co-pays for antibiotics messed everything up. I dislike ear infections.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Mixed Nuts

video

Today is Lillian's Birthday.

It is also Chris and Clare's birthday. They are my cousins. And they are not twins, they simply share a birthday. I've always thought that was pretty cool.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Not All Votes Count


ME: What should we get Grammy for her birthday?

NATHAN: A cheeseburger!

.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Reflection

On this Election Day Eve, I want to dedicate one last post to a political message. Kind of.

On our long drive to Tennessee, my mother pointed out that a lot of my talk about Palin was not based on any factual information, but more based on reiterating the same "She's A Crazy Loony" slogan over and over again. So in the interest of being fair, and recognizing that not all of my readers share my political views, and a few do not even live in this country... I thought I would try to explain my feelings about this election in a fair manner, with no blowing things out of proportion. I said "try."

I really do dislike Palin, and I do admit that this feeling comes from my gut. After all, about the only thing we have in common are certain anatomical similarities. (We are both female.) Aside from the fact that I detest the idea of beauty queens ( and part of me really does), I disagree with her on practically every issue. I want to support scientific advancement both in the medical community and in our schools. I want to protect this planet earth we live in. I want the right to make decisions about my own body, my own birth control, and my own health care. I do not have faith in Palin's knowledge of international affairs or economic affairs. The fact that McCain chose this person as a running mate, to fufill a position where she might have to run this country in a time of crisis, shows me that he (or his party, if you want to look at it that way) has very little respect for the people of this nation. Maybe she is just a "soccer mom." But the truth is, I don't know any soccer moms I want running this country, either. Nor would I trust anyone who feels this is a wise choice.

That said, I understand that not everyone agrees with me. I don't understand why or how, but that's not the point. Everyone is entitled to her opinion.

I am a very lucky person. I have more than enough food. I have a home to live in and a bed to sleep in and we are able to keep it reasonably warm. I feel safe because I have health care and if anything happens to one of us, we can expect to afford care. I can say what I like and express my loony political opinions as I like, and worship as I like, and this country lets me do it. And after the election, all this will stil be true, no matter who wins. Red or Blue, Right or Wrong. I plan on voting with my heart and my mind and making the choice that I believe best reflects the person I would like to be. That is a right I have that not every person has.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Trick Or Treat

Nathan decided over a month ago that he wanted to be Wall-E for Halloween. Nicholas then said he wanted to be Wall-E, too. Nathan was very upset at this idea, and cried about it for a bit until I explained that they could BOTH be Wall-E. Then there would be two Wall-E's. And from that point on, whenever anyone asked Nate what he was going to be for Halloween, he told them "Two Wall-E's." Which could be very confusing.

I looked for Wall-E costumes, but could not find any in stores. I found some online, but for $50 each, and I refused to even consider them. That's $100 (for those of you slow at math) on costumes that would be worn once, and probably then discarded, since once kids reach a certain height they become choosy about what they will dress up as.

So I found boxes and purchased poster paint. Last weekend I set the boys up with paintbrushes, and the boxes became grey. And then while they were sleeping I added lights and stripes and the name, so people could tell what they were. The masks were purchased at a party store - obviously they were meant as favours, because they came in packs of eight. The boxes are held up with straps made of duct tape.

The boys were the only ones at school with costumes they made themselves. Everyone else had snug poofy costumes, or complete princess outfits, or otherwise purchased stuff. And there were a few problems. For one thing, the armholes were far apart, so objects could not be passed from one hand to another, or from one hand to their treat bags. Nathan's arm holes were also placed far back in the box, so he couldn't always judge where stairs began, and triped up almost every front porch we encountered. Also, the boys couldn't lower their arms. There was also the problem of recognition. For while Wall-E is, by far, the best movie ever made in the WORLD within the walls of our home, not all children have seen the film. Nor have their parents. In fact, a few parents were surprised the boys had seen it. And some people had never heard of the cute little robot at all. And a few people were conviced that they were supposed to be Wally, the Green Monster, mascot of the Red Sox. Don't they look alike?

As for Andy's costume, he wore the tiger costume I purchased for a 2-year-old-Nick, the costume Nick then refused to wear and which I then placed on Nathan, stuffing Nick into the smaller monkey costume instead. It fit Andy very well.