Unreasonable Expectations

Posted on 6/30/2010 08:24:00 AM
I have many blogworthy stories to tell about my weekend, but not the time to write them. Such a dilemma. Should I let the deadline for the contract I'm supposed to be reviewing pass and then have to pay an additional $6000 per year so I can spend time blogging instead? Or should I make an effort to keep the job that provides a paycheck and keeps me flush in tacos for my family? Until I decide, enjoy this photo I took of a boy playing in a fountain.


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Camp Sweatshop: Joyners Edition

Posted on 6/28/2010 08:53:00 AM In:
I am trying to get back into the swing of Camp Sweatshop this summer, but oh my gosh, how tempting it is to not do anything and just let them lay around and watch television all day. You have to rage against the dying of the light.

I decided to start off easy last Friday by teaching The Caterpillar how to make a bed.

Only one problem.

She doesn't yet have a bed.


I have no words to explain how awesome this is, but at the wise old age of two years and nine months, she has not yet figured out, nor ever even attempted to climb out of this crib. She wakes up and just stands there, calling for someone to come and get her. This takes the form of her yelling at the top of her lungs.

Sometimes she tries the polite route:

"GOOD MORNING MOMMA! I SAID GOOD MORNING MOMMA! I SAAAAAIIID GOOOOOD MOOOOOOOOOOONNNIIIIIING MOOOOOMA!

Sometimes, it's a statement of the obvious:

"MOOOOOOOOMAAAA! I'M AWAAAAAAAKE!"

Sometimes, it's confusing:

"MOOOOOOOOMAAAA! I'M ASLEEEEEEEP!"

But despite this, the crib has been mostly handy so far. When she has a time out, we put her in her cage, er, crib and she can't come out until we decide it's time. (Oh and I know you're not supposed to do that, associating bed with time outs, but we have a small house and there aren't that many places for her to go. So far it hasn't backfired on us that way.) Bedtime is a breeze because when it's time to go to bed, we put her in and she can't get out. Personally, if it were up to me and the stars aligned, I'd leave her in the crib until she went to college.

But as she gets older, there are more annoyances than just waking up to a tiny voice screaming in your ear. Mainly this is due to the fact that we got the crib secondhand after two children had already gone through it and we know it's days are numbered. The drawer underneath doesn't really work well anymore. I seldom drop down the drop-down side because I'm afraid that it will never drop back up again. After The Dormouse's unrelenting beat down on the bed four years (it turns into a toddler bed and she used it up until The Caterpillar was born and outgrew her bassinet) and now The Caterpillar's, it looks a little like a swayback mule turned upside down.

It's time.

Time to say goodbye to the crib.

The problem is, this is what her bed looks like right now.


It's a bunk bed, but we never put the bed part on under the bunk in order to have room for their toys. I don't really want her sleeping on the loft bed, because she has a tendency to fall off of it and I do not to spend one more evening debating whether or not to take her to the ER to evaluate for a possible concussion.

So on Friday I climbed up in the attic, pulled down all the extra pieces and we made her bed.

Literally.


Now I've just got to get her to sleep in it.

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This is Why They Call Them Blue Crabs

Posted on 6/27/2010 07:59:00 AM


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Storm Clouds Roll In

Posted on 6/27/2010 07:38:00 AM


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Extreme Biking

Posted on 6/26/2010 08:20:00 AM
The Dormouse learned to ride a bike a couple of months ago and I've had these videos sitting in my drafts folder waiting for the moment when I would be able to right some witty, hilarious and/or poignant retrospective on either her learning process (two days of practice before full solo biking was achieved) or how before I know it she's going to be a YOUNG WOMAN in the not so distant future (and that is simply unacceptable).

The truth is, I got nothin'.

So this post is really more the equivalent of inviting the neighbors over to see a slide show of our vacation. Just so we all understand each other.

Training wheel-less biking, day one:



And The Caterpillar who must do everything The Dormouse does, settled for Extreme skating:


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Languagism

Posted on 6/25/2010 06:45:00 AM
languagist

The act of discriminating against those who don't share your native toungue. Most often used by ignorant, unintelligent people who have difficultly expressing themselves without using the words "uh" and "you know?".

"I'm not racist for hating people who don't speak English, I'm a languagist"

Me: "What did you do in school today, Caterpillar?"

Caterpillar: "Sudo woodo!"

Me: "Huh?"

Caterpillar: "Sudo woodo!"

Me: "What did you say?"

Caterpillar: "Sudo woodo!"

Me: "What's that?"

Caterpillar: "A sudo woodo!"

Me: *to KoH* "What's she saying?"

KoH: "I don't know. What did you do in school today, honey?"

Caterpillar: "Sudo woodo!"

KoH: "Huh?"

Caterpillar: "Sudo woodo!"

Me: "I think we might have gone through this part already."

KoH: "Shhh. What's a sudo woodo, honey?"

Caterpillar: "It's a sudo woodo!"

KoH: "....."


The Dormouse: *heavy sigh* "She SAID... she found a sudo woodo."

Me: "Thanks, that clears everything right up."


*We finally did figure it out, if anyone's interested.
It's one of these, of course. How could I not have known?

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Any Excuse for a Celebration

Posted on 6/24/2010 10:10:00 AM
Early summer is the time for all these local community fairs in our area. In the last couple of months, we've been to Honfest, the BARC field day, University of Maryland day, Frying Pan Park, Children's Mental Health Awareness day, and at least six main street festivals in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. This weekend we're headed out to a dance-a-thon which, sadly, I have been roped into helping to run. There is always a plethora of things to do, most of which can be done for free. That is, if you can avoid, "Mom, mom. Please? Please mom, can you buy me that? PLEASE??!? I NEED a pink and purple plastic trumpet that buzzes like a sick goat and annoys everyone who comes within thirty feet of me so that I can practice for when I will one day attend soccer tournaments and create controversy wherein I drown out the announcers with a vuvuzela." (Because "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhh!" is so much worse than "goooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal!")

The street festivals aren't just limited to the summers, though. We've also been to a Fall Foliage Celebration, Apple Blossom Festival, Strawberry Days, and PumpkinFest (which are all conveniently scheduled around harvest time). In the Spring, there's the Cherry Blossom Parade, Rolling Easter Eggs on the White House lawn (which I have yet to get tickets to, damn you government lottery ticket fair dispersal people; it would be easier to stand in line for tickets and sleep on the sidewalk), and let's not forget that every ethnicity from every corner of the world has a celebration of nationalist pride somewhere in or between one of the two cities.

We've looked at classic cars,


milked a cow (note to self: teach kids that while this method will get results, it won't be milk),


gotten our faces painted and climbed on a tractor,


eaten a chocolate covered cricket while carrying around balloon animals,


admired a three foot tall beehive with a roach stuck in for accent:


stared at a bathtub buried in the ground and used as a farm animal drinking trough,


(you thought I was kidding about that one right, right?)

It's almost like they're helping me schedule my Camp Sweatshop events. Oh, how I love this city.

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Fernlike

Posted on 6/23/2010 06:39:00 AM
Mimosa tress grow here like weeds. I think they're really beautiful and I wouldn't be so at odds with them if they'd actually grow somewhere convenient. What generally happens is a seed drops right under our fence and then the tree tries to grow up through the fence itself. Normally when this happens with a tree species, you say, "No! Bad tree! No growing up through the fence," and you cut all the branches and leaves off to the ground. Most plants can't survive without their leaves and that's the end of it. But Mimosas have some form of angry mutation where when you trim them back to the ground, it just makes them that much more determined to grow In. That. Exact. Place. and the roots dig in and a trunk emerges and triples in size over a weekend before even one leaf grows back. We fought one on the east side of our house for years, cutting off all the branches (we couldn't dig the root system up without taking a piece of fence out first) over and over and watching the stump spread to about twelve inches across. We finally got rid of it by drilling a hole into the stump and inserting stump killer in it, which I think will be the fate of it's brother who's doing the same thing on the west side of the house. And so continues the war of northern aggression between me and nature.


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Holly Golightly

Posted on 6/22/2010 06:32:00 AM
Hollyhocks always remind me of being a kid when my grandmother used to make dolls out of them for me. Every summer when we'd visit, I'd make a cousin or a great aunt or someone show me how to make them. And then we'd go home, where there was no such thing as a hollyhock, and I'd completely forget how to do it until the next time I'd go up there and have to make someone show me how to do it "one last time." Giving a kid resources so she quits bugging you about it: just one more service the internet offers.


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Return of Camp Sweatshop

Posted on 6/21/2010 08:25:00 AM In:
School's out for summer. That means these girls gotta start earning their keep.


There are two things you need to know about this post.


One: Last year, I dreamed up a
fake homeschool/slave labor scheme that kept me from turning into a monster who always screamed at her children and counted down the minutes until the school year started again... more than I already am at least. What that turned into was a way for me to get them to do stuff around the house. Because I am the smartest woman alive.

Two: Back in February, we decided that it'd be a good investment in our house to turn the half bath in the basement into a full bath. The Dormouse has had a great time
feeling important and helping Daddy and she may be just a little too excited to participate in the demolition portion of the project but at some point in a project like this, you move past the place at which a six year old can help. The KingofHearts has been working on it in his spare time since then. He thinks I'm upset by the time it's taken to finish this project, but methinks the lady doth protest too much. The truth is, I don't really care that much. He's got limited time to spend on it and his priority is to hang with the girls when they're home. I think that's just fine... preferable, even. But The KnaveofHearts will be here in a few weeks and I'm pretty sure he'd like a bed to sleep in - a bed that right now has a toilet, pieces of a shower stall and several large sheets of drywall stacked on it. He's a little too old for a teddy bear, but encouraging him to sleep with power tools might be going a little too far in the other direction.

The plumbing and drywall were finished a couple of weeks ago and he had the room all ready to paint. So The KoH decided that before putting any of the fixtures or the floor in, he would strip the ankle biters down to their underwear, cover them with plastic bags and let them paint the fence, so to speak. And though it looks like child labor, I'm going with "it's a foundational skill exercise." Some day these lessons will come in handy and they'll use these skills to defeat the high school bully in a karate tournament and teach him an important, but poignant life lesson about bullying and humility.

Or maybe just how to dress in rags to panhandle on downtown D.C. streets.


Surprisingly, they don't make plastic trash bag in little girl size, so we had to modify this one's.


We had a quick tutorial on how to use the roller,


and they were off.


The Caterpillar turned a critical eye to the project.


But who's really going to listen to the girl who paints her feet?


So there you go. More proof that having children can benefit you. You just have to know how to use them to your advantage.

Before:

After:

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Happy Father's Day

Posted on 6/20/2010 06:41:00 AM
What every guy wants for Fathers' Day is a stereotypical tie cake, decorated with baby-aspirin flavored Tic-tacs...


made lovingly by a six year old and a two year old who can't keep their hands out of the batter...


...and an iPod.

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Lily of the Day

Posted on 6/19/2010 06:48:00 AM
We have at least two hundred of these daylilies blooming in our yard right now. They grow like weeds at our place, in shade or in sun, and we only have to make the very slightest efforts to encourage them. They're a bulb plant, so last year The KoH dug most of them up, separated the bulbs, sent seventy-five of them to his mother, and spread the rest out to some of the shady places in our front yard. Over the winter, they tripled in number. It's like spring came twice this year.


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They Might Be Dr. Spock's Backup Band

Posted on 6/18/2010 05:47:00 AM

We cut the Honfest a little short last weekend in order to do something I've wanted to do since my tender young days back in 1990: See They Might Be Giants... live.

For whatever reason, I'd never gotten around to seeing them in concert despite having been a big enough fan to have played Flood over and over in the car until my cassette tape was ruined. (Yes, you heard me right: cassette. Let us not speak of it again.) Over the years, they would randomly show up on news pieces produced by Robert Krulwich, as the artists for television theme songs, or on the Disney channel. Their unique sound was always instantly recognizable to me and mine. Then when I had kids and heard they'd made a more serious move toward kids' music, but smart kids music, I was thrilled to share them with my own children. I bought Bed, Bed, Bed and gave it as Christmas presents to each and every friend with kids I knew (so... yeah... one) the year it came out. We watched Here Come the ABCs on the morning Disney channel programming and they're one of the main reasons The Dormouse learned her letters. Then the Here Comes Science album came out and I heard they got the Director of The New York Hall of Science to fact-check the lyrics of their songs. That was all I needed to love them for the rest of my life.

So after we took in Honfest last weekend, we headed down to the inner harbor and went to a bar/club in the middle of broad daylight to take in a concert with a thousand other concert goers, most of whom were under the age of ten. It was surreal at best.

Please to enjoy this photo essay of the experience.

We got there early. Way too early, but early enough to find a seat in the one, very small section of seating that existed in the club. It wasn't close to the stage, but it was worth it to have a straight sight line and to not have to stand down by the speakers in the toddler mosh pit.

They handed out these big foam fingers to all the kids. The KingofHearts and I immediately put them on and tried to have a conversation using only words we could cue with this one hand shape.
We came up with:

do pee-pee,
do poo-poo,
pause teeter totter,
duh dude,
poi,
zazoo!

OK, so it wasn't the most stimulating of conversations. TMBG? We could really have used a second hand shape.

The Dormouse enjoyed pointing the way to... pretty much everywhere.

"Why yes, the sky is up there. Why do you ask?"

Every good kids' concert must have either a confetti gun or a bubble machine.
You can see which way they went in this photo.


We met up with some friends who also had tickets once we got there.
Their two boys are just slightly older than each of my girls...


...and both walk around all the time oozing boatloads of adorable.
I'm seriously thinking of arranging marriages between these four.


John Linnell is the one person in the world I know of who does immediately begin to look like a hobo the minute he straps on an accordion. Plus, he gave me a bumper sticker.

Curt Ramm was their brass section and I am now a little in love with him. He actually played solo euphonium. I played euphonium for one semester in my brass skills class in college, so I feel I can say without hesitation that he felt my presence through the crowd and we shared a unique and unspoken connection. He also played the most amazing trumpet solo to Istanbul (not Constantinople) that I have ever heard. Here's a short clip someone posted on YouTube that doesn't even do it justice, but you get the idea.

John Flansburg. One of the subjects of the movie, A Tale of Two Johns.

That broom in the background introduced all the band members... BECAUSE OF COURSE IT DID.

Psssst.... John and John? Possible next album cover??

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Sing, Sing a (Passive Agressive) Song

Posted on 6/17/2010 10:37:00 AM In:
Scene: The Caterpillar is singing something indecipherable while I'm working on the computer. I stop typing and ask:

"What are you singing?"

"Shhh! I'm singing a song for you."

"Oh. Sorry. Go on with your song."

*sings*
"I was sing-ing for Moooom.

And she messed up my sooooong.
For-eeeeev-eeerrrr!
And now it will neeeeev-eeer be the saaaaaaaaaammmme.
I wasn't even being meeeaaaan.
But she still meesssed up my soooooonnnnnng!
Mommmmmma is nooooooooot funnnnn--nneeeeeee."

Parenting comes with a lot of unexpected surprises. Like self-esteem issues.

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Nominations

Posted on 6/17/2010 06:05:00 AM
"Momma, you're a great momma."

"Thanks honey. You're a great girl."

"There should be a greatest mom in the world contest. And I would enter you."

"You would, huh?"

"Yep. And I would enter you because you are the greatest mom in the world..."

"OK."

*pause* "...but you'd have to prove it."

"Huh?"

"I mean, I think you're great, but you'd have to prove it to the contest people."

"..."

"You might not win."

"Uh... thanks?"

"But that's OK because you and I know the difference."

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Revenge of the Chef

Posted on 6/16/2010 06:02:00 AM In:
One of the best things about living where I live is that it's within a short drive of at least five major cities (depending on how you define major, I guess). When I hear about something going on in one of them, it's generally only a quick trip where I am and we can go partake of the fun and still be in our own beds that night. By just driving not more than two hours in any specific direction, we can hit Washington, D.C., Richmond, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Dover, Lancaster county, the Bay, the mountains, the ocean, and a host of stuff in between.

What this means is that a lot of stuff I hear about on television, I can actually go do... and it's awesome.

Such was the story when several months back, I saw an episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network. This show features random chef-types talking about their favorite dishes at their favorite restaurants. This episode in particular had Duff Goldman, who's a big Baltimore personality now. We've been fans of his work even before he got the whole Ace of Cakes gig though I've never been able to afford one of his cakes. Let's just say if I'd known about him back when I was planning my wedding, it might have been in a whole other state. The best thing Duff ever ate, in that episode at least (on this show, there are sometimes repeat appearances by the same people, which tends to take credibility from the title, "OK, I said before that this was the best thing I ever ate, but now this, THIS, is the best thing I ever ate." But I guess One of the Best Things I Ever Ate wouldn't have made nearly as catchy a title.

Aaaaanywaaay....

The best thing Duff Goldman ever ate (at least on the filming day) was Huevos Montuleños at the Golden West Cafe. It intrigued me because the whole dish consisted of ingredients that sounded like they should not even be on the same plate together:

Huevos Montuleños
Two fried eggs and beans atop two whole kernel yellow corn cakes with chile sauce, feta cheese, salsa fresca, a fried banana and a flour tortilla.

The cacophony of ingredients was so crazy, it just might work. I simply had to try it. So a couple of weeks ago, we drove up to B'more for breakfast and I partook. And it was so yummy. It made no sense, whatsoever, but it was simply awesome. So now The KingofHearts has his triple fried egg, chili, cheese and chutney sandwich and I have my Huevos Montuleños.

The Golden West is an odd little place. Kind of - and I mean this in only the best of senses - hole in the wall-y. First off, from the name, I would have expected Chinese food. You walk inside and it turns out to be completely fitting for the neighborhood of Hampden, with your grandma's Formica tabletops and mismatched chairs, eclectically decorated in Early Thrift Store.

I have a thing for antique bottles

I tried to steal this for my kitchen, but it was too big for my purse

Loved the tin ceiling in my favorite color: Cherokee Red

They also have what I consider to be a flash of brilliance: a waiting area with kids books and toys.

The Dormouse has been on a reading jag lately.
She devours books as though they are food.


While I went in the door knowing exactly what I wanted, The KingofHearts picked something off the menu after we were seated. I don't remember what it was, but then I looked down at the men and saw this:

Left column, second line

and I said, "You should totally try the Chef's Revenge," and pointed out the description:

NO QUESTIONS, NO SUBSTITUTIONS, NO VEGETARIANS!!!!

I think it was the extra exclamation points that got me. The KoH wasn't so sure, because he'd already chosen something from the menu that also looked pretty good and he said, "That's funny... but eh... I don't know..."

Which is when I said something that, in our marriage at least, is irrefutable:

"Duuuude! Do it!!"

And once that gauntlet was thrown down, he clearly had no choice.

Apparently, the Chef's Revenge is based on just whatever the chef wants to make each day. And it's seldom the same thing. What it ended up being that day was two banana corn cakes, with a fried egg cooked over easy inside each one, then served with chipped beef and gravy over the top. And dude? It. Was. Amazing. I know it sounds weird, but I'm pretty sure I would give vital parts of my anatomy if someone were willing to cook this for me once a week. I liked my Huevos Montuleños - Duff was right - as weird and quirky as it seemed, it really was one of the best things I ever ate. But this was So. Much. Better.

So if you're even in Baltimore, you must go get yourself something at The Golden West. I hear the first waitress who sells a Chef's Revenge in the morning scores a Long Island Iced Tea after quitting time.

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All I Ever Needed to Know

Posted on 6/15/2010 05:05:00 PM
The Dormouse had to take a photo of her and a friend to school three or four months back for a unit they were doing on friendship. I grabbed the most recent applicable photo I could find and tossed it at her, then forgot about it entirely. School is ending this week, so the teacher is sending a lot of stuff home with the kids that's been displayed in their classroom. This came home in her backpack today.


Marielle is my friend.  She has hearing aids. Mari is in the middle.  We are lying down. She can't hear without hearing aids, but she is not one little bit different than us.

Sometimes I think if six-year-olds ruled the world, a lot of things would be better.

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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