Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Friends and Neighbors

Tim and I moved here in August 2003.  We did not know much about the area, but our real estate agent said, "This house is great, and so is the neighborhood."  I love the house, despite its many issues.  But the neighborhood, well, Frances was spot-on about that.

Those first days here were tedious and long.  I didn't know anyone and I had two 20 month old children to handle.  It was easier, in some ways, because we had so much new space.  On the other hand, I missed my family and friends. I tried to fill our days with outside play and local parks, anything that saved me from dwelling on the fact that I missed my family.  When we frolicked in the front yard, we'd often see our neighbor, Mrs. S, with her dog.  She'd stop on her way out for a walk, let the kids pet her dog, chat with us, and then head on her way.

Sometimes, Mrs. S would invite the kids in to her house, and we'd trek to the basement to check out her old toys.  We found some remote controlled cars, a rocking horse, a doll house, and a random assortment of other toys.  The girls said they still vaguely remember going to her house.  Whether or not that is the case, I don't know.  We still went over there shortly before Aaron was born, if I remember correctly, and they were almost 3 at that time.

Last fall, we learned that Mrs. S has Alzheimer's Disease.  We spotted her still walking her dog, leash in one hand and a wave in the other, but I wondered if she was sure of who we were.  She has gotten to the point, now, where she no longer can walk her own dog very well.  For that matter, the task of walking is getting to be impossible for her.  She stumbles and gets lost.  The neighborhood is on high alert:  if you see Mrs. S out by herself, you bring her home again. 

This past Monday night, Mrs. S was out in front of our house, looking like she was headed for another walk.  In the past few weeks, I've had to take her from the street up to her house, where we met an astonished Mr. S.  He hadn't even been aware that his wife had left the house.  I watched her for a few moments and guessed she was yearning to go west.  Tim went out to walk with her around the block.

After I threw some things in the dishwasher, I realized that perhaps, once again, Mr. S did not know his wife was out.  I put a sweater over my shoulders, told the girls (who by this time were in bed, but not asleep) that I'd be right back, and walked across the street.  I rang the doorbell and heard nothing.  Then, I heard the garage door open.  I padded over the sidewalk to the driveway, and glanced up.  Mr. S, in his car, stopped.

Me:  Hey Mr. S!
Him:  I'm going to get her!
Me:  It's okay. Tim has her.  

I approached the car so I didn't have to yell.

Him:  Tim has her?
Me:  Yes, we saw her walking, so he went ahead and joined her. They are making the loop.
Him:  That is so nice.  You are just so nice.
Me: (...)
Him:  I appreciate it.
Me:  Well, what are you going to do? 

I felt uncomfortable, but I still can't put my finger on why I felt that way.  Tim and I don't help out Mrs. S because we're nice.  It is the neighborly thing to do, the thing you'd do for friends and neighbors, and just about anybody in the same situation.  Keeping an eye on her when she is out is simply the right thing to do, and something I would hope someone would do for me, or my parents, or my siblings. 

Mr. S told me that he'd likely be sending Mrs. S to a home soon.  I'd like to find out the name of the home, and plan on asking Mr. S where she will be.  She helped me out immensely way back when, and I doubt I ever told her that.  I'd like to repay the debt now.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lolly, Lolly, Lolly...

If there is one thing this writing workshop has taught me, it would be that I love adverbs.  In fact, I love them dearly.  Get it?

I always knew that I was a flowery writer:  I'd use several adjectives to describe the nouns, and then move on to many adverbs for the verbs.  And of course, I'd try to say whatever I just said, one more time.  In fact sometimes, I'd simply belabor the point all in the name of description.  I don't know why I did/do.  The whole approach is fine for venues such as this, where posts are pretty short and the entire setup lacks formality.  But apparently, when you write a piece that you hope to get published, you should go back and check said piece for unwanted words.  You must strike the adverbs in order to move forward.

I am not sure I am completely on board with that idea.  I like knowing that someone told me something brusquely, or that the child padded lightly down the hallway.  I guess someone could retort something and the child could just tiptoe.  To me, they just aren't the same.  And who could forget one of the most worthy of all adverb examples:  But choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.*  Take out the wisely, and take out the impact.

*Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Leftovers

You will have to excuse my few days of silence.  My mind continues to reel from the loss of Ferdinand.

I have kept myself busy this week:  we've gone to several stores, volunteered at school, and met with a friend at the local Panera.  I find that if I don't have the time to think about my little friend, I don't.

And then, the need arises to go into the basement.  I flick the light on.  My muscles tense; my brain shivers.  I slowly tread down the stairs.  On autopilot, my eyes survey the scene, expecting to find messes.  I am disappointed when I find nothing but cleanliness.  I feel like a leftover: unexciting and worn out.

He is not coming back.  He is not coming back.  I repeat this to myself daily.  I had this same problem when my dog Holly died.

I was 10, and the morning of September 20, Holly sprinted out the front door as we prepared to get in the car for carpool.  A car, by all means traveling too fast, and a dog on the loose, are almost never good together.  The car struck Holly and immediately she limped home.  Even at 10, I remember thinking that she was coming home to die.  We went to school and my mom went to the veterinarian.

Holly was not there when I returned home that day; she indeed needed to be put down.  The rational side of me understood why, much like today.  But the irrational side of me expected to see her again.  I'd look out the window, hoping to see her in the yard.  I'd sit on the couch, feel a whoosh by my legs, and truly believe that I'd find her settling down on the floor by my feet.  Come back to me, I'd whisper, as if the power to bring her back existed.

I'm not crazy, that much I know, and I wasn't crazy then.  Yet these days, it feels like I am.  They say grief can be a process, and that it has five stages.  If that is the case, then I am surely in Denial right now.  I hope not to be stuck here for long.

***
I just got a call from the animal hospital.  We chose to have Ferdinand cremated.  We plan on doing something with his ashes, we just aren't sure yet what that will be.  The kids want to bury them somewhere, while Tim would prefer to spread them somewhere meaningful to us.  Knowing that our beloved cat is now a boxful of ashes should help launch me past the mournful denial phase, don't you think?

(I promise something more uplifting next post!) 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Conversation with the Grim Reaper

Six o'clock came too early this morning.  I had gone to bed late, and slept fitfully all night.  Aaron had come in sometime in the night; he slid beneath the sheets and scooted his little body next to mine.  He was looking for warmth, while I craved coolness.  When the alarm rang, I internally groaned and hauled myself out of bed.

In the kitchen was the Grim Reaper.

"I have been waiting," he said, and adjusted the dark hood that covered his head.  "Today is the day."  His voice was much smoother than I ever imagined.  Its tone persuaded me that yes, today was indeed going to be the day.

"What if I am not ready?  What if we are not ready?" I asked him.

"Being prepared has nothing to do with my visit," he explained.  "The time has come, and therefore, so have I."

I looked down at the cats who purred at my feet.  Two brothers, litter mates, who up until now had shared every experience in their 12 years.  Ferdinand glanced up at me with big green eyes, but I could not read them.

"Please, Ferdinand," I implored.  "Do something, anything, to send him away.  Can't you do that for me?"  Ferdinand didn't answer.  He looked at the Grim Reaper, and then at me, and yawned, as if the presence of such a stranger was nothing out of the ordinary.  Ferdinand stretched his legs, the same legs that wobble now due to neuropathy, and sauntered over to the water bowl.  

I needed to find evidence.  I walked down the stairs to the basement, hoping to see proof of a miraculous recovery.  But there, in the cool damp air, my fears were confirmed.

The Grim Reaper had followed me.  I turned to him with tears on my lashes.

"Today?"  I questioned.  "Can we just have one more day?"

"One more day becomes one more week, which becomes one more month.  Sometimes, you need to let those you love go."

"It this hard job for you?"  The question just burst forth.  I wanted to know the answer.

"You know, no one has ever asked me that question.  This is a first."

"And?"  I prompted him.

"And yes, it is a difficult job.  I wear this hood to hide my true feelings.  I hold this scythe simply to help sever the ties.  With each life I come for, I send energy out to the stars, and hope that in some way, the energy will make it back to earth.  Perhaps, it will even come back to you and your family."

"I was ready yesterday," I admitted to him.  "I am not ready today."

"And if I come back tomorrow, you will still not be ready," he replied softly.

Something in the way he spoke put me at ease, at least a little.  I made the kids lunches and went through the motions of putting breakfast on the table.  After breakfast, when the kids had already gotten on the bus, I went downstairs to put Ferdinand in his crate.  I approached him as he stood near the food bowl.  Again, he looked at me with big green eyes.  This time, I noticed that his face and eyes have changed since he was a kitten. His coat, too.  I picked him up, gave him a squeeze, and placed him in his crate.  Tim would be taking him to the veterinarian.

I called Tim after I had gone to the store, after I knew he'd be at his desk.

"Are you okay?" 

"Well, sort of.  I thought I would be. But it was quick."

I scurried off the phone as the tears started to fall, since I was in the car.

"What's wrong, Mom?" Melina piped up from the back.  "Are you sad about Ferdinand?"

"Yes, honey."  I said.  "I am sad about Ferdinand."

"Why?" she asked.  I wasn't sure how to address that.  How do you tell a three year old that her friend was just euthanized?

"Ferdinand was sick, Melina.  Daddy took him to the vet.  He won't be coming back."

"Why?"

"Because he died today.  The vet gave him some medicine to make him sleep forever."  It came out all wrong, but I think any words would have sounded wrong to me.

"Are you joking me?" Melina asked with a tremble in her voice.

"No honey, I only wish I was joking."

She left it at that.  But as I looked up at the gray sky, a very fitting type of day in my opinion, I found a cloud formation and focused on it.  Perhaps it was a trick of my imagination, or some brain glitch, or something else entirely.  I saw a flash of green, the same color as Ferdinand's eyes when he was just a kitten, and a flash of dark gray.  I choose to think that the Grim Reaper was gently escorting our friend to the next dimension.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Some of you don't know this, but I entered a writing contest.  It was one of those spur of the moment ideas. The notice in the paper grabbed my attention, I wrote the story, and entered. And, I didn't win.

I didn't really think that I would win, but sure, it would have been nice.  But I can tell you this:  I did not deserve to win the prize.  Based on what I have already learned in just two weeks of my creative writing workshop, my story might have been good, but it wasn't great.  I read the winner's entry, and while it did not blow me away, I could see the merits in the writing.  The story showed much more than mine did (I tend to be a teller) and it had a finesse that comes from many years of writing.  In fact, when I looked at the bio of the winner, he is a published author.  Well, that made me feel a lot better!

The whole experience makes me think that this particular contest could make things better for folk like me by having subcategories.  I can envision a local professional division and a local amateur division.  Why do I say this?  The prize is enrollment in a local writing workshop.  While I can imagine that any writer can benefit from workshops, it seems that the people who might be most likely to really benefit are those that can't call themselves published authors.

This might all sound like sour grapes to you. I don't mean it that way.  In fact, writing that story pushed me to listen to my inner self, which said I'd like to try my hand at actually writing a book.  And now, here I am, 25 pages into one, and 120 into another.  If I stop now, I'd be crazy. 

So like the title says, you win some, you lose some.  And in this case, I might have lost, but in the end, I think I am winning.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Field Day

It was fourth and fifth grade field day today.  Melina and I watched milled around for a while, and then watched one event in which the girls participated.  By then, it was too hot and Melina was tired, so we left.  I heard from the kids that a good time was had by all, and that they are looking forward to it again next year!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Second Meeting

I know not all of you care about how I fare at my writer's workshop, but enough of you do.  So I'll try to report each week, if I have the time.

I went under the gun last night, so to speak.  I had my story critiqued by 5 other people and I lived to tell about it.  In fact, I was energized by the experience, and I wanted to come home and make changes.  Unfortunately, I did not have the time to do so.  Either way, I took enough notes and worked a bit on it today so that I pulled some of those changes to the forefront of my mind.  I need to find a good block of time just to think about what the people said, in order to figure out where my story is going.  Their suggestions could pull things one way or another, and to be honest, I don't know which direction I'd like to go.

I'd love to go on about the moderator, but I am too tired to do so.  But I will say that she is fantastic.  It is a cool thing, for lack of a better description, to have a published and well-read author in the midst.  Her tweaks and suggestions were spot-on, and they made me realize how I can look at my own writing and make it better.  Two meetings, and already, I've learned a ton.  I can't ask for anything more, but I have a feeling I will be getting it. 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Today's Post Sponsored by the Numbers 1 and 4

Don't let that title scare you, FRN.  I promise to keep the math to the minimum.

Melina and I go each week to the first grade to participate in math centers.  She and I run a station for the kids, and we tackle one concept at a time with small groups.  We've seen time, money, 2 digit addition, subtraction, and many other concepts come through since we started helping out in November of last year.  Usually, Melina sits quietly and munches on her snack, or lies down on my knee with her animal in hand.  Sometimes she comes dressed in costumes, i.e. Batman, Princess, Unicorn, so oftentimes I need to keep the first graders focused on the task at hand.

Well, this week, someone was looking out for us.  Melina decided she wanted to be dressed as a chef, complete with chef hat.  We had an apron, but no hat.  No problem!  We fashioned a mighty nice chef hat out of construction paper and a white plastic grocery bag.  She entered the school, confident that she looked like a chef, and she did.

And then we made it to first grade classroom.  The kids loved that Chef Melina was in the room, and by some stroke of luck, the math center we were conducting that day was Auntie Pasta's Build a Pizza!  Melina was thrilled!  She sat next to me and put together pieces of the pizza, as content as could be.

The whole point of the Build a Pizza was to introduce fractions to the kids.  We had 1 whole pizza and pieces that represented 1/4, 1/3, and 1/2 of the pizza.  We used these pieces to build the pizzas.  I always hope that Melina gets something from these journeys to the school, but fear that really, she just gets tired.

Imagine my surprise this morning when Melina wanted a slice of American cheese.  "Can you make it into squares, mom, please?" she said.  I obliged, and told her she now had four slices of cheese.  "Each one is a part of the whole," I said. "These are called quarters."  To which Melina replied, "Just like in Mrs. G's class!  These are quarters of cheese!" 

I have no intend to push fractions at such a young age, but I do think if we introduced them earlier and in such a fun way, perhaps kids wouldn't be so scared of them later on.

And pertaining to yesterday's post, I have no intention of mentioning this on FB.  I wouldn't consider it bragging by any means; it isn't as though she added or multiplied or divided fractions by herself at just under 4 years of age.  But still, since I don't care for the incessant my kid is better routine, I don't even want to go there.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Facebook Follies

Back in 2008, I signed up for a Facebook account, mostly so I could keep up with friends and family. (I've probably said this before, and since I have swiss cheese for a memory these days, I might have actually blogged about this whole thing before.  Consider yourself warned.)  I don't do a whole lot of posting on FB, but I do check up on people regularly.  For the most part, I enjoy finding out what happens to the people on my friends list.  Afterall, they are ON the friends list.

However, there will always be the few people that, in retrospect, you wonder what you were thinking when you accepted their friend request.  (I know you know the type.)  I don't have much time today, and I really try not to complain too much, but I thought I would mention the top things people do on FB that drive me bonkers.

  • People repeatedly brag about their children.  One time successes are cool.  I don't need to hear about every time your child was better than mine. (This does not include pictures.  I love every single picture that people post of their children.)
  • People repeatedly whine about their lives.  That sounds unsympathetic, but believe me, I have experienced very low points in my life.  Whining about it never made the situation any better.  Get proactive and do something about it, or at the very least, try looking at your life with a new set of glasses.  See the positives and all the good things that ARE in your life.
  • People repeatedly tell me what I should believe, or not believe.  I really don't like to get political, ever.  The same goes with religion.  But on FB, people find the need to tell me how I should vote, why the teachings of a particular church are the only thing to follow, or why my personal belief is wrong.  Are we not in a free country?  Do I ask you to believe what I believe?  Would I ever tell you that your decision to accept 9 children and counting into this world is different than mine?  Furthermore, would I tell you that you are nuts to do it?  Then don't do it to me.
  • People repeatedly post glamorous (or not) pictures of themselves that scream, "Please compliment me!"  Some of us have aged well, and some not so well.  And to be honest, I don't care which camp you fall into.  Who am I to judge, right?  But please, for the love of all that is holy, do not put up photo after photo of you and then expect us to say how good you look!  If you have insecurities such that you need to have pats on the back all day regarding your looks, then perhaps, you also need a therapist.

And there you have it.  Most likely, if you are reading this blog, you don't fall into any one of those situations above.  (How can I be so sure?  Because I know who reads this, and I can tell you that you don't. So don't fret.)  And even if you have, at times, performed one of those egregious acts before, don't worry.  I tend to be very forgiving, especially of my FB friends.  Because really, I have other things to worry about. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Updates

Talia saw the surgeon on Friday.  The man deftly and swiftly pulled out the earring back from her lobe, without the use of any medication.  He had swabbed the area with Betadyne and swathed his hands in gloves before touching her, of course.  He made it look easy.  I said, "Boy, did I really need to come in here?  Why couldn't I do that at home?"  He looked at me kindly and said, "Oh, you did all the work when you messed with it."  He might have been trying to make me feel better, and that is fine.  The surgeon did go on to say that he has had to put several patients under general anesthesia to get out earrings, they were so far embedded in the lobe.  Yikes!

***
Ferdinand has had several blood glucose readings that are promising.  That should be good news.  However, his legs are very weak, and his bowel and bladder problems continue.  Tim and I know that the time has come.  We just need to decide whether we want to do it before school is out or after. 

***
We all attended a wedding last night, for one of Tim's baseball teammates.  We had a nice time, mostly because the kids were occupied, which left Tim and I the capability to mingle.  What occupied the kids?  A photo booth.  They came home with a total of 63 strips from the photo booth, with some hilarious pictures.  I'll have to see if we can scan some in.

***
And finally, we have a rainy and dreary Mother's Day here, and the cat woke me up at 6 am.  I am NOT going to let any of that ruin my day.  I hope nothing ruins yours.  A special Happy Mother's Day to all of you out there!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

One Down, Four More to Go!

I know that all of you are just waiting to hear how my first night of the writing workshop went.  In an effort to not disappoint the few readers I have, I will report.

Well, I survived.  It actually wasn't that hard, mostly because we did not have our writing critiqued last night.  The first session was a "let's get to know each other" session, as well as a "let's set the ground rules" session.  I am so grateful that the author running the workshop does it that way.  I certainly don't rush into anything (well except for actually signing up for the workshop) so it made me feel at ease from the onset.

Next week, the stage is set for me, as I am the first author who will be critiqued.  I actually volunteered to go first, mostly because I want to keep working on my piece.  My motives were selfish -- I admit it.  But being selfish here seems like it won't be too bad for everyone else.

I will go into more specifics next week, but I will say that I think this writing group will be valuable.  The ladies, and it is a group of all ladies, taking the class all come from different backgrounds, and we are at different stages of our lives.  Each of us is writing completely different stories, too, and judging from what I have read so far, we have different strengths and weaknesses; I think the points of view will give us a fresh look at our writing.

So, there you have it.  Completely uneventful and boring, but after Talia's ear predicament, I'll take uneventful and boring.  By the way, we see the pediatric surgeon tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pinna Problems

I left Zoe and Talia home today while the rest of us dropped off two of Aaron's friends at their house.  When I walked back into our home, it was 5 pm.  I wanted to finish getting dinner ready, and find the time to eat that dinner.  No sooner had I set foot into the kitchen when Zoe said to me, "Mom, don't freak out."


I have learned over the last 38 years that freaking out never gets me anywhere.  But I have to say, when one of my 10 year old kids says that to me, AND I have just left them home alone, I get a little nervous.

"Mom," Zoe continued, "I need you to come with me upstairs."

So many things started to dance through my head as I stood in the kitchen:  broken mirrors, windows, or closets; broken bones and beds; indoor bee hives or hornets' nest; bat family living in the attic.  Thankfully, Zoe didn't make me wait long.

"Talia needs help with her earring.  She has a problem," Zoe quietly said to me.  "Oh," I replied.  "Please tell Talia to come down and I can help her."

The poor thing came stumbling down the stairs with tears in her eyes.  Her earring was halfway in her ear, and when I saw the blood, I knew it might take a few moments to fix.  Clifford went in the DVD for Melina, and Aaron hopped on the tablet.  I bought myself a couple of minutes to help Talia before the house went loose.

But help her, I could not.  To make a long story short, the back of an earring is now partially ensconced in the back of Talia's earlobe.  Apparently, Talia had not been diligent about changing and cleaning her earrings, and somehow (I don't know how, really) her lobe decided to start incorporating the back of the earring into itself.  Thankfully, even at 5:10 pm, our doctor's office was open.  The nurse listened to my predicament, admitted that they have seen it before, but that Talia would need to be seen by a surgeon.  Said surgeon is expecting my call tomorrow, and hopefully, they can get her in this week.

Of course, this week just happens to be one of those weeks where just about every day has too many things to do.  So I am hoping that the surgeon can see us Friday, and if I have to pull her out of school in order to get the back pulled out of her ear, so be it.

Talia says she doesn't want pierced ears anymore, and I cannot say I blame her.

Any of you that are trying to divert your child's attention from having pierced ears, feel free to share our story.  I can say that I at least warned you.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting Ready

My writing workshop starts this Wednesday.  THIS WEDNESDAY!  Already Wednesday is one of the busiest days of my week, but I thought I'd be a glutton for punishment and just throw another activity into the mix.  As long as I breathe, I will survive.

But here is the email I received this weekend:

Hello all,

We have a FABULOUS group assembled for our workshop. We also have a waiting list…so now is the time to declare your intentions by paying for the class if you haven't already. Thanks! This is gonna be fun.

We start this Wednesday May 9th from 6:30-8:30. We meet in the conference room in the X. I'll have a $10 gift card for each of you. Feel free to bring any other food or drink, too. We'll be informal and relaxed!

Every workshop participant is going to be workshopped twice during the 5 weeks, each time being given 40 minutes. We will NOT be workshopping any participant's work at the first class, but will be covering ground of the workshopping protocol, setting the reading schedule, etc.

PLEASE BRING 7 COPIES OF THE FIRST PIECE YOU WISH TO HAVE WORKSHOPPED TO THE FIRST CLASS (7 includes a copy for yourself). This can be a short story or a chapter from a novel. If you are bringing chapters from a novel in progress, it is most helpful if you bring the opening, beginning chapters. It is too difficult for your readers to be plunked into chapters deep in the middle of a story--it requires a LOT of synopsis (and that synopsis would eat into your page count).

Pages should be double-spaced with 12 point font (please use basic easy-to-read fonts such as Times New Roman) with one-inch margins all around. It's super helpful if you remember to number your pages. Please limit the length to 15-20 pages (ABSOLUTE CUT OFF FOR EACH TURN IS 20 PAGES). You can, of course, turn in pieces shorter than 15 pages if you wish!

There is a UPS store with a copier right down the block from X if you need to arrive early for class to make copies.

I look forward to meeting and working with you all.
Take care and see you soon,
XX

I know that email is long, but I needed to put you in my position.  My first thought was how does XX know that we are a FABULOUS group?  Does XX know some of these people?  Are some of the participants published authors?  Because if so, I have conflicting feelings there.  Sure, it will be great to be critiqued by people who have a foot in the publishing door.  But, they are already published!  How intimidating is that? 

My second thought was that I have to bring copies of my writing to the class.  Yeah, I knew it was like that when I signed up.  The class stated that it was for people who already had works in progress.  I shouldn't be overwhelmed and nervous, but yes, I am.  Do you blame me?

So here I am, getting ready for class.  I am making sure the first 15 pages of my stories are suitable for reading and getting ready to make the copies.  I am cleaning the house so the babysitter can find everything on Wednesday night, and I am already thinking about a simple dinner for Wednesday so that I don't have to add that stress on the night in question.

Like I said, as long as I breathe, I will survive. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Weekend Babysitting

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine called to ask me something.

Friend:  I hate to ask, but I need a favor.
Me:  Okay, go ahead.
Friend:  Really, it is an imposition.
Me:  I won't know until you tell me.
Friend:  Can you guys watch the guinea pig this weekend?
Me:  Of course!

I kept the news to myself for a bit, knowing that the kids would be thrilled.  So I thought I'd let them know the good news when it came time for asking them to go to bed.  The girls are notorious for stalling at bedtime.  They give us one more smooch, ask us a pretty big question, or just admit that they aren't tired.  What should take 10 minutes inevitably takes 30.

Me:  Guess who we are going to babysit this weekend?
Tim:  Cousin 1?
Me:  No.  [Tim visibly relaxes.]
Twins: Cousin 2?
Me: No. [Tim visibly relaxes more.]
Twins:  Who?
Me: Madame Fluff.
Tim:  Who?

The girls giggled and went ballistic; they were off their rockers with joy.  I told them we wouldn't do any babysitting unless they got upstairs in record time.  That night, they did as they were told, and went to sleep right away.  Tim figured out quickly who Madame Fluff (said Floof) was and said, "A guinea pig, I can handle.  Just no more kids."*

We've been enjoying Madame Fluff's presence since yesterday afternoon.  So far, she is welcome back anytime.

*I should mention that Cousin 1 and 2 are not trouble when it comes to babysitting.  We've been very busy as of late, and the thought of entertaining kids that aren't our own probably wasn't that palatable to Tim at the time.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tablet and Technology Issues

I happen to be the type of person who, aside from using a computer, manages to eschew almost every other form of technology out there.  Part of that has to do with being mostly a SAHM.  Right now, I don't need too much technology.  I know where the kids are and I know where I am.  I use the computer to write the blog or write some stories or put together lectures, and I use the tablet if I need to check email quickly.  I don't watch much television, we don't have any electronic games, i.e. Wii or Xbox, and our cell phone really is used only for when we travel (or when we need to use up the minutes we put on there when we traveled.) Personally, if I am not doing things for the kids or the house, you can find me doing one of four things:  running, sleeping, reading, or writing, none of which require much more than electricity.

I also happen to be married to a man who, even though he says he eschews forms of technology, manages to bring things into the house that then catch the eyes of our technologically deprived children.  Case in point:  when the tablet arrived, the best thing on it (according to the kids) was the ability to get to YouTube so quickly.  They also liked using some of the math websites sanctioned by us and the school.  And then Tim stepped in.  He loaded up Angry Birds, a baseball game, and Temple Run.  Now, even before the homework is done, I have 4 little people clamoring for time on the tablet (Melina just likes to watch).  The same would happen if we had a Wii, or any other form of technology that apparently, everyone else has.

I am going to try to use this new found excitement over the tablet to my advantage.  The kids are done with school on May 31st.  That date is right around the corner.  We have so much to do before then, and of course, the summer will be full of things to do.  Perhaps Temple Run (and whatever else comes behind it) can be just the carrots my little animals need.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Roasting Time

The CSA box started up again in March.  We've been happy getting a bunch of produce that we love and some that the kids don't.  It doesn't matter that some of it is deemed inedible by the kids, as Tim and I will eat most vegetables.  The greens have been plentiful and we use them in salads or stir-fries.  We can hide different sorts of greens in salads, a favorite of our children.  But I have not told them I am sneaking different greens into the mix.

We've also been getting a lot of cabbage.  Up until yesterday, I'd chop it and throw it in the stir-fry.  But I thought I'd like to try something else. And since we roast a ton of other vegetables, I figured I'd try roasted cabbage.

The cabbage was awesome, and tasted great as a cold snack a couple of minutes ago.  I simply cut the head of cabbage into wedges (take out the stem, of course), brushed a bit of olive oil on the sides, sprinkled some salt and pepper on the wedges, and stuck them in the oven.  Voila! 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Not Hollywood Bound

You might have heard me say that I think Melina will end up in Hollywood or on Broadway. She tends to drift toward the dramatic side of things, and often acts out movies she has seen or books we have read.  Her expressions and gestures sometimes seem over the top, but in her head, she is being downright serious.

Well Melina had her first taste of the stage this past weekend, and let us just say, it did not go so well. 

I should mention that at 1 pm on Friday, Melina started exhibiting signs of a cold.  Her eyes watered, she was sniffling, and she just wanted to lie on the couch.  I am not kidding when I say that the virus hit quickly; if I had had any warning, I'd have called my parents to let them know, and would have given them the opportunity to bail on coming down for the weekend.

Melina didn't sleep that well on Friday night, but she said she still wanted to go to her ballet recital.  Since she had no fever, and Grandma and Grandpa were here to watch, we went ahead with the original game plan; we made the trek, in the rain, to the arts center.  Due to the virus, I did not make Melina sit outside in the blustery, cold, rainy air to watch Aaron play soccer before her recital.

Melina had seen the stage before and her teacher, Miss Nancy, had them go up on stage to become familiar with it.  But I could tell she was nervous when we passed by it on the way backstage.  Her nervousness was confirmed when she wanted me to stay backstage with her.  I stayed, and hoped that the coloring pages Miss Nancy had so kindly provided for the 3 and 4 year old girls would distract her from her nervousness.

My hopes were dashed.  Melina lined up quietly with her class, proceeded to walk up the stairs and onto the stage, and then, she just stood there, tugging at her tights.  You could see the discomfort in her face and body.  She did not participate in any of the routine, until the tumbling started.  And then, she did a couple of somersaults.

A helper carried her down the back stairs and into my arms, because Melina was a little slow to head down the stairs.  I looked at her face and realized that she just wasn't feeling well.  I didn't know if the finale would even happen.

It didn't.  To her credit, Melina went back out onto the stage.  She didn't even have the energy to move at all and she stood there looking pained the entire time. Several times, Miss Nancy and the kids tried to get her to shake her little body, but nothing happened.  Melina walked the length of the stage when the whole thing was over, and climbed into the arms of the same helper that had brought her down the stairs.  She stayed there awhile, and then came to me. 

We ended up getting home and I put her to bed right away. Without lunch, as she was not even interested in having it (that says something right there, you know?).  Within minutes, she was asleep, and I woke her up two and a half hours later, in the interest of preserving bedtime.  She slept pretty well Saturday night and by Sunday, she was doing better.

I would be curious to know how things would have gone if Melina had been feeling well.  I think they might have gone the same way.  For as outgoing and exuberant as she can be, there is the hesitant side of Melina that peeks out, especially in large social settings.

I think we'll try soccer next year.