Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Easter Eggs 2013
I love Easter because it means there will be spring. When I was a kid we'd go hunting for eggs among actual daffodils, and these days it always seems to be thirty degrees and clumps of snow all over the ground, but still...  It's a time of rebirth, renewal of life, new hope. Spring is here. Also, chocolate.

Easter Eggs 2013
This year we didn't manage to do pysanky.  Those are the eggs done with beeswax and layers of dye. The past couple of years I've taken the boys aside one by one and helped them heat the wax, draw on the eggs, and scrape off the wax once the egg was done. But this year I have been trying to simplify and breathe more, and I didn't think the boys would notice.

Oh, but they did.

It's OK, though. They did regular eggs dyed with food coloring, and all turned out well. They had fun. I let them decorate with crayons and stickers and glitter glue. We'll go back to the fancy eggs next year.

Easter Eggs 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Stand Here For A Picture

Stand here for a picture and try not to kill each other.

Andy, Nick, Nate - March 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lavender Town (Internet Part 2)

So the other day Nick asked me to look up "Lavender Town" on the internet.

Go ahead. Look it up. It will save me the time and energy of explaining. It will save me from figuring out how to explain this... thing.

OK, fine, I'll just start type-talking.

Nick's friend on the bus (see previous post) told him about this thing in this one Pokemon video game. Apparently there is this one part, the friend said, where you end up in a graveyard and there is all sorts of scary screechy music. And all of the pokemon there are dead! And you have to battle this one really scary pokemon who is also dead. And it's scary. And, according to Nick, you heard this from his friend, it gives kids really bad headaches and nightmares and stuff.

I told Nick his friend might be confused. I remembered some episodes of Pokemon, the TV show, which used a lot of flashing, and a few kids in Japan were had seizures. It was a thing for awhile. Maybe his friend was confused?

No, it was this town in this game.

I went ahead and looked it up. We listened to some bad, high pitched music. We watched a clip of someone actually playing the video game - apparently there is some hidden level where you do actually battle a very hard pokemon who keeps threatening to take your soul.

And then I read some of the stuff that was written, and apparently there was some rumor going around that, after playing this game, a number of children, ages 10 to teens, actually committed suicide.

Which is when I turned it off. I wasn't afraid my kids were going to suddenly want to end their lives, like some strange version of "The Ring" brought to life. No, I was just so angry about the whole perpetuation of stupid rumors, and video games screeching... And why does Nick have to hear a stupid twisted rumor like that? How do you even try to address it. I said it was time for something besides video games.

I was less happy when Andy, who had overheard all of this, had bad dreams at night and climbed into my bed. Because he then decided to sleep sideways and kicked me in the ribs all night long.

I hate video games. I hate the internet.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pop Tart Cat (internet Pt. 1)

A few weeks ago, Nick asked me to look something up on the internet.

"Could you look up Nyan Cat?" he asked me.

I rolled my eyes - his friend down the street is allowed to bring his DS on the school bus, and every morning they watch videos and play games while my innocent son has his mind infested with all sorts of information this other kid has picked up from his four older brothers and sisters.

So I typed in "NION CAT" and a bunch of links pop up for Nyan Cat.

Most lead to this video right here. If you watch it for 20 seconds, you've got the gist of it. Nothing else happens. There is no surprise ending, no change os music, animation, background, anything. Just the same thing for 3 minutes and 37 seconds.

"He kind of looks like a pop tart," I said. I didn't realize this cat was also known as "Pop Tart Cat."

Anyway, Nick has begun making things out of paper. I'll turn around and suddenly the kitchen table (and floor) is full of little bits of shredded paper and glue and markers. Nick will hold up a bunch of paper and say "I made a book!" or "I made a pig!" or "Look at my new cell phone!" and then the next fifteen minutes he spends telling me how it works. Then I ask him to clean up the mess and he forgets how to speak English and suddenly remembers something he left in the bathroom upstairs.

The other day he went to school and I walked into the living room to find this:

Nick's Cat March 2013
What is this? I go to take a closer look. Yup. It's a cat. Nick's very own Pop Tart Cat. Complete with legs and a tail.
Nick's Cat March 2013

But I don't need to worry. Nick has taken care of him and fed him before he left for school.

Nick's Cat March 2013

Needless to say I left him there.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Table Manners

Learning how to use a knife and fork is harder than you would think.

Andy - March 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Overtime for the Tooth Fairy

What is it about front teeth? Why do they always seem to come out in pairs?
Nate, after losing his front tooth - March 2013
Is it so that, for a few short days, we can remember what is was like to have toothless gummy babies? You have to admit, there is something adorable about that front gap.

Nate,  after losing his other front tooth - March 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why I do Things

So, last weekend I found myself sitting behind a bake sale table.

And Nick, who was standing right next to me, was all winey, asking me at least half a dozen times if he could have a third brownie, and finally turning to me and in that nasally complainy voice said "why are we even HERE?"

I haven't done anything like a bake sale since High School, which was the last time I'd done anything related to a bake sale at all. I think it was for the international club? But here I was, in the hall outside the gym at the Middle School, while various kids of all ages popped in and out changing costumes and talking about points.

See, back in the fall, Nick came home from school saying he wanted to do something called "D.I."
"What is it?" I asked.
"You build stuff," Nick said. "I know some friends that do it."

I asked a parent who coached a team the year before. "It's good!" she said. "Sometimes they have to build things, sometimes they do a play or a performance. You'll see, it's fun!"

In order to join a team, the boys had to do a challenge. (Nate had quickly decided he wanted to do this, too.) They chose to build things out of paper. I was not allowed to help them at all. I helped Nate anyway. Then I showed up at the try out and brought the paper products.

There are one other parent there. She also had two kids who wanted to do DI. At the end of the little meeting, the teacher turned to us and said they were looking for a couple of people to coach.

I tried explaining I was the worst person in the world for this job. I tried explaining that I had a hard time not writing out Nick's math answers for him, or just rewriting the occasional word he had misspelled. I would never be able to get a group of boys to create anything without sticking my hand in.

No one listened.

So the other mom and I ended up coaching this DI team. Lucky for us, at this level we do not have to compete.

Unluckily for us, they did not give us a choice as to what challenge we'd get.

We were told all teams at this level had to do a play about Roy G. Biv's Birthday Party. You know Roy, right? The colorful rainbow guy? No? Look it up. The topic is rainbow birthday party. The team: Ten boys in first and second grade who think farts are the height of humor.

No one wanted to to a rainbow play.

After weeks and weeks of getting the kids to come up with some ideas, think about colors, etc. the other mom finally got them to settle on an outline for the play. Somehow, the part with the graffiti, the part where Roy G Biv is a bear, and the part where Roy G. Biv was suspended from a bungee cord from the ceiling didn't make it into the play.

The problem was, the boys had no concept of what a stage was - their play took them all over the classroom, out into the hall, etc. They also had no concept of an audience, and would turn their backs to the audience and, as I mentioned before, sometimes wander into the restroom and do parts of the show in there. Finally, they couldn't settle on who talks when. Three boys would commonly be talking at once, one saying his line about liking green grapes, one talking about farting on Roy G Biv's carpet, and one pretending to spray paint all over Mr. Yellow.

Then, finally, came the day of the town performance. Like a dress rehearsal before the actual competition.

I got chewed out because one of the appraisers caught me tying a balloon for the kids and I was supposed to make them do it ALL THEMSELVES. I told her if we'd done that she'd be listening to burps and farts for 8 minutes. (I might have been a little nervous.)

So then the boys began their play.

And it was silence.

Not only were there no fart jokes and no playing around in the background, but the boys didn't even say the lines they'd been practicing. Nothing. There was complete silence as the boys filed in and went through all the actions they were supposed to do. They silently played hide and seek, silently ate food and birthday cake. It was like they'd had a secret meeting and decided to do the whole thing in mime.

Finally the other mom and I broke down and said, from the bleachers in the gym " say something!" And a few of the boys started saying their lines a couple looked like they couldn't remember what they were supposed to say. Nick said something about his food, looking at the picture and saying "I love purple squash!" (it was an eggplant.)

Afterwards I was a bit nervous because it seemed we had so much to do. We watched a couple of other performances and then I wandered out to the bake sale table because we were supposed to have gotten team parents to sign up to staff the tables, and of course we didn't, we were too busy trying to fit in tie-dying the costumes between snow days.

And I sat there behind a table of muffins and rolo bars I made, none of which people were buying, which is when Nick turned to me and asked me his question: Why are we even HERE?

For you, Nick. I'm doing this for you.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

And Then I Made These

I follow this Greens & Chocolate blog.

And not too long ago I followed a link from there to this place right here. 

And then I made them. Rolo Bars.

Because when I think "Sweetened Condensed Milk" I automatically want to add sugar and butter. And then pour it over rolos. Placed on chocolate shortbread. And cover it with more melted chocolate.

Apparently I want to die early. From a sweet induced coma.

If I learned one thing making these, other than the fact that a food can make you sick thinking about what's in it and yet be so good you can't stop eating it, it's that you shouldn't scrape off the hot caramel sauce with your finger.

And when you do, you shouldn't try to cool the burn by placing that caramel coated finger in your mouth.

It's twice the burn.

A photograph of rolos. It seemed like a good idea at the time. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Last Bit of Winter

These are actually a few photos from a trip we took a couple of weeks ago, at the beginning of March. It was to a lodge a little upstate, where there is plenty of hiking and in the winter people snowshoe and go cross country skiing.

We don't do those things, mostly because the boys start complaining three minutes into any walk we take. But we did go sledding.

The sledding hill was a little walk from the lodge. And getting to the top of the hill took a lot of work. Also, we could have kept going, but it got SO steep that I told Nate we had to stop.

I went down the hill twice. Which was brave of me. As it turns out, I don't like speeding down mountains, I much prefer sipping cocoa and doing puzzles.

walking to the sledding hill, Cardigan, March 2013

View from the top of the sledding hill. That dot on the right is Nate . Cardigan, March 2013

This was a small river we passed. I like how the snow tries to cover it up.
Cardigan, March 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Hours

There was an argument about a watch.

Nate had found one that belonged to Nick, and had been carrying it around, loving it. When Nick saw this, he immediately proclaimed himself rightful owner of the watch, and an argument ensued. The court of parental law declared Nick the winner, and Nate was heartbroken.

Until I reminded him that he had birthday money in his wallet, and could afford to purchase his very own watch.

Of course he wanted to do this right away.

It was 8am, I was still in my workout clothes. There was no school, but the day was jam packed with homework assignments, piano classes, karate classes, a trip to the library to return overdue books, and the giant task of making our way to the high school to fill out four double sided sheets of very important issues pertaining to our town (everything I voted for lost, and I'm still ranting and raving about the fact that as 7th graders the boys will be learning science crowded around a single bunsen burner set up in a stairwell, taught by an underpaid teacher, but whatever. At least we won't have to pay an extra $10 in taxes.)


So Nate was trying to convince me to swing by Target. A trip to Target is 20 minutes each way, not to mention the time it takes to convince me to let them spend all their cash on Pokemon Cards. So I said no, we didn't have time.

"What else do we have to do today?" Nate asked. "What is taking up all of the time?"

And so I listed all of the activities we had on our schedule.

His eyes lit up when I mentioned Karate.

"Mom! We can go to Hours when we go to Karate!"

... ?

My mind was a blank. What was he talking about?

"You know, Hours. I'm pretty sure they sell watches there. It's right next to Karate."

It took a moment.

See, the karate place is next to an orthodontist. But in between is a Mental Health Counselor.

Her door is a plain door with nothing on it but in huge letters: HOURS.

Underneath, in much smaller lettering: by appointment.

Friday, March 08, 2013

It's Snowing Again

I was done with winter. All done. So were the tulips that are already peeping their green tips out of my flower bed.
But the universe decided we needed more snow. And so now the tips of the flowers are covered in at least 6 inches of white. Schools are closed. Again. And I've frantically checking the internet, trying to determine if the play we were seeing tonight (a kid's version of Seussical!) is on or off.


Here are some photos from last month's snow. I never got around to posting these. And yes, there is an extra boy in these pictures. In case you were interested, they were playing zombies in the snow. Fitting, considering the crazed Jack Nicholson like maniacs we all become when cooped up one time too many.

On the bright side, we now have time to practice piano, and to finish the Great Toy Room Project! Mean, mean Mommy. Always has a backup plan.

Feb. 2013

Feb. 2013

Feb. 2013

Monday, March 04, 2013

Mixed Up Fantasy

I am listening to the boys not get ready for school.

Instead, they are upstairs, playing a game made up of every story they like right now.

One of these things are the daleks from Dr. Who, which I began watching because do many people were making Dr. Who references, and I was feeling lost. So I went to watch. I wasn't missing too much, but it's a fun show with time travelly timey wimey plots.

The boys watched a few episodes with me, and I would point out certain actors if they happened to be ones from a certain movie series they know very well. (Harry Potter.)

It turns out they got a kick out of it. They like the idea of the Tardis (blue police box space / time travel machine) and the Timelords and the Daleks.

"Exterminate!" Andy tries to yell. Only he never gets all four syllables, so it's more like "Extermate! Externiate! Expelliarmus!"

Friday, March 01, 2013

Take A Picture

I have grapes in my mouth.

Andy, with grapes in his mouth. Feb. 2013