And together we learn

Monday, May 28, 2007

The reason for a long break...

Steve and I are taking a little the South of France!!! Aaaaaahh. Can you believe it? We're only going to be here a few days, because it's too hard to leave the babies for too long. But any break is better than none, no?

I must admit, I feel just a leeeetle guilty at being able to be here. But Steve has so many mileage points from all his travels, our flights and hotels are already mostly paid for. And at that point, why not go? So here we are. It's incredible.

I spent four months here when I was 17, so I'm a little familiar with the area. And I became quite fluent in French. But after serving a mission in Taiwan and learning Chinese, my French is shot!! I studied with some CD's for a few weeks before we came and I thought I was doing ok. But being here, holy cow. I'm thinking in Chinese, and try as I might to use French, every other word is spewing out in Chinese. The people are looking at me like I'm a deranged tourist, with this garbled mixture of French, English, and Chinese, while Steve chimes in with Spanish and Italian. Somehow, we're able to get the point across.

So we're having a stunning time. I'll post more pictures as I'm able.

Au revoir!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bits and pieces

This is what greeted me as I took the orange juice out of the fridge.

It's a grapefruit, suspended surreally in the morning beverage. CALVIN!! This morning there were two paintbrushes and a CD in the fishbowl. Not nearly as harmful as the shredded wheat--I think the fish really enjoyed the change of scenery. I need to put a cowbell around that kid's neck.

You know how things tend to creep up on you? We're in a weekly playgroup for Chloe, and I host once every 8 weeks. You'd think I'd have enough time to throw something together, no? But of course I forget until late the night before. This morning I threw together a very quick lesson and art project that turned out to be cute. We read the book Rainbow Fish, a book that I really really hate for the message, but I read it to them anyway because it was the only fish theme book I had on the shelf. Nina, don't hate me for poisoning them with rotten literature! Actually, I'd forgotten how bad it was until I read it again. It was given to us as a gift. Talk about a celebration of mediocrity/communism. It's one book that is going to be given away in the next donation box!

Anyway, we did an art project afterwards with a tissue paper mosaic and a piece of tinfoil for the 'glittering scale.' It turned out cute and the kids enjoyed it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Our weekend

My poor little Chloe took a tumble off the slide and managed to break her arm. Just a tiny hairline fracture, so it's great, as far as breaks go. She's generally fine during the day, but she's been having some rough nights lately. I think it just aches then, but trying to get any tylenol down here ends up being much much worse than the pain. I promise. Poor baby!

We took the family over the weekend to a cultural heritage fair type thing at the city county building. There were groups from over twenty different countries selling food, playing music and dancing. So fun!! We feasted on Sudanese chicken and spinach with lentils, Tibetan momos, Tongan coconut drinks, pupusas and plaintains from Bolivia (I think), noodles from China, and dessert from Switzerland. YUM!

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

More fish, more flowers

More fish, very literally. The little female fish finally succumbed to the combined stresses of having her fins nibbled off by the bully male, a heavy dose of shredded wheat, and the shock of new water. The result? We had a little fishy ceremony by the toilet.

Now, betas are territorial. Male/male = bad combination. But they said a male and female would be ok together. He did nibble Sarah's fins off; she couldn't swim down very well, but he did leave her alone after a while. Steve is convinced that John the Beta now feels remorseful for nibbling, has repented, and is in need of a new companion. So, welcome beta female #2 to our family.

And yeah, he totally is at it again. No repentance for this fish!

But for all the people against Beta cruelty and such, not to worry. We won't be getting a new one if this doesn't work, so no need to contact PETA.

Steve brought home ANOTHER fish--this one for our bathroom. oy vey. We are now a 3 fish/2 bowl family. For people as violently anti-pet as we are, this is a big change. Calvin, on seeing a fish in the BATHROOM, of all places, about went ballistic this morning. You could tell it just completely rocked his little world to see a fish next to the toothbrushes. Happy baby.

And for the flower part. I finally got the garden mostly in. Yesterday I planted lots and lots of tomatoes in the very cool cages that I built. I'll have to add a photo of them. Bush beans, swiss chard, white scallop summer squash, pole beans, carrots, beets, a bed of lettuce, lemon balm, fennel, lemon verbena, and red peppers all made it in. Now if they'll survive the rampaging of Calvin, who looks upon the garden as his personal sandbox, we'll be loving life in a few months!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Of flowers and fish

It's starting out like this, but the goal is to end up with this.

Now if I can just keep it watered, we should be in business.

For my wonderful birthday this year, my children gave me two beta fish. Because they just love me like that. Actually, I got off easy--they set out to buy a rabbit. But at the same moment Steve was looking at the poor bunny and imagining its certain quick demise under our care, I was doing a quick read on rabbit care. The sentence stating that, "Owning a house rabbit is like making the commitment to have a two year old child for the next 5-7 years," struck terror in my heart. I panicked and called him, yelling, "No rabbit, PLEASE!!"

So instead, I got birthday fish. Named by my girls, prosaically, John and Sarah.

This morning as I walked in the kitchen, I found Calvin feeding the fish. Feeding them huge handfuls of Frosted Mini Wheats and Honey Oat Flakes. Lucky, lucky fish. They survived, but aren't we all so glad they're betas and not bunnies?


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mothers Day!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing Mothers Day. It's always so nice to have a day where the kids are (well, try to be) extra special good. My sweetie Hazel made breakfast by herself for me--cinnamon toast and orange juice. They gave out chocolate truffles in church to all the women (mmmmm) and then my dearest husband and brother made dinner for everyone. They did marinated and grilled salmon, a gorgeous rice pilaf, veggies, and salad. So Good!! It was very very nice to have them do the cooking, so I think that from now on, they're getting the assignments.

Sweet Steve got me such a fun present--a Dyson!

I've been coveting these for a long long time. So fun to use! Truly it pulled stuff out of my carpet that I had no idea were in there. Some may say that a vacuum cleaner isn't an appropriate present, but really, are they kidding me?? I would so much rather have a kick-butt vacuum then chocolates or some knick-knack any day. Don't get me wrong, I love me some flowers every now and then, but for truly welcome gifts, make mine practical.

But anyway, Happy Mothers Day to all the wonderful internet friends who's parenting has inspired me to be better. I'm so blessed to have a wonderful mother, and a wonderful mother-in-law, as well as some of the best kids anywhere!!


Friday, May 11, 2007

Still shaking

The weight of this motherhood job is crushing with it's responsibility sometimes.

There was a bevy of little neighborhood kids outside playing with my small fry. I was inside, right next to the open back door where I could see and hear them. After gardening all day I was taking a small break while they happily played.

My peacefulness was shattered when a knock came at the door. A big, burly man stood there and asked,

"That yer kid?"

My baby boy was running around, pushing a stroller in the middle of the road. A busy road.

The man continued.

"Almost hit him with my 1 ton truck. Good thing I saw him."

Just writing this makes me cry. He slipped out through the gate that I thought was shut. I could hear and see the kids playing, but I didn't count heads. My darling baby boy was in such danger, and I didn't even know it. I feel like such a horrible horrible horrible mother. It's my first, primary, most basic job to keep these little people safe. All the other stuff we try to do pales in comparison if they are in physical harm. But because I wasn't vigilant enough, my baby could have been killed.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


I'm sitting here at the computer, but not exactly sure what I want to post. So I think I'll just ramble and see where we end up.

The last two days we've spent nearly every moment outside. This whole weeding thing is going to be the death of me, but I'm not going to let it get out of control like I did last summer. I figure if I weed one bed a day, taking Sunday off, then they shouldn't take too long if i'm just maintaining. Right? Of course, the vegetable garden isn't scheduled in there, so I'll have to squeeze that one in, too. Provided I can ever get neighbor boy-who-has-the-rototiller over and I can actually plant said vegetable garden.

We went miniature golfing last night for family night. Steve's home now for the summer (HOORAY!!) so we're spending tons of family time, just soaking it in. Calvin in particular is so attached to him. I think he's afraid if he lets Steve out of his sight, he'll go on another plane. But anyway. Mini golf. So fun!! A lot chaotic, and definitely no scorecards for anyone. I would hit the ball with Calvin, then he'd chase after it and go drop it in the whole, then clap proudly for himself. Hazel worked doggedly at it, and could get the ball in herself after 20 or so shots. Chloe golfed with Steve's help, and danced and sang and daydreamed as she's want to do. Altogether as fun a night as you could imagine.

We read Barbara McClintock's version of The Little Princess about 3 times today. Also the book Dahlia, by her, that my girls adored. So fun! We've been doing Gulliver's Travels (an abridged version, but still very rich in language and detail) for a read aloud. It has sparked some fabulous conversations and imaginations.

It's amazing just how quickly the whole house can go from spotless to umm, not. One day of gardening, not cleaning, plus an afternoon of playdough and a large Calvin spill from dinner. Oy vey. Lots of work this evening.

Oh, speaking of Calvin. I was transferring laundry yesterday. Pulled out of the washing machine 2 markers, thankfully with the lids on, 7 foam stamp things, and 1 tube of Strawberry Shortcake toothpaste, also miraculously still closed. Oy vey indeed!!

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Hardly ever happens

My family takes an inordinate amount of pleasure from sequential patterns, like on the odometer. I've seen my mother nearly weep for joy when her mileage hits something like 101010, or 77977. In fact, the moment of passing from 99,999 to 100,000 is usually celebrated with honks and veeerrry slow driving to savor the moment.

And so, today we'll be having quite the party, in honor of the date and time.

Happy 12:34, 05/06/07.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

He's got skills

How does the boy child do it?? I went to pour the morning orange juice, and a paintbrush came slithering out of the carton.

It's not like he has unlimited access to food and drink. Really, his opportunities are quite limited. A trip to the bathroom while they're eating breakfast, perhaps. A few brief moments, but I certainly don't leave the fridge open all day for him to create his dubious works of art.

So tell me, is this something to endure (and honestly, laugh really hard at) until he reaches some kind of cognitive ability? Or maybe he'll just move from beverages to some kind of different medium for his artistic expressions.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Alrighty then

Recently overheard, mid-tantrum:

"But I waaaant to go to the dentist RIGHT NOW!!!!!"

Odd children, these.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I just planted arugula, parsley, basil (Thai and Genovese), dill, lemon balm, cilantro, spearmint(this time in a container so it doesn't do what it's ill-mannered and pushy cousin, peppermint, did), and rosemary. The oregano and sage from last year surprised me by being perennials, and they are lush and luxuriant.

I made tripod supports out of bamboo for snap peas, and another for cucumbers--slicing, pickling, and lemon.

I made the bamboo teepee frame for the kids' bean/moonflower hideaway, but I need to have the garden plot rototilled before I can set it up and plant.

I weeded. Oh, how I weeded.

And now, I'm TIRED!! Calvin is set up on the deck with bowls of water, cups and spoons, so he's happy for a few minutes.

I have six huge flower beds, and the weeding is never ending. That doesn't even count the garden plot. I'd rather spend money and effort on things to eat, so I intersperse herbs, greens, beets, and cucumbers with the flowers in my beds in the back. As long as you're weeding/watering/mulching all summer, there might as well be food as a result, no?

May is here, that means we're safely out of the last frost threat, so I'm just itching to get everything in. Gotta find some neighbor boy to rototill, then I can get the tomatoes, peppers, squash, broccoli, carrots, chard, and another row of beets in.

I think dinner needs to be something easy tonight!