Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tree Art

Part of Jake's homework last week was to take a walk and collect a leaf to bring to class. Of course this turned into an art project at the pleas of both my children. So off we trotted down our street, happily enjoying the day and looking for leaves.

Jake, my finicky child, was very careful about which leaf would be "the one". He didn't want one that was bent, or too small, or an oddball color. He was searching for his version of perfection.

After we'd been walking for ten minutes we had only passed by two houses. Jake had already been searching and hunting and had turned over, stepped on, passed by without a second glance, dozens of perfectly fine leaves. I wanted to yell "It's a leaf! Who gives a flying can of tuna!"... but I resigned to say: "Every leaf is a little bit different honey... just pick one that's halfway decent and you'll be good." *mentally rolled eyes*

Finally after another excruciating ten minutes of leaf searching he finally found exactly what he was looking for. The Heavens shined down on it, as it glowed from the gutter. It was a simple leaf, yellow in color, soft in texture, and had no marks or torn edges of any kind. Just as he held it up to show me, a gust of wind blew whisking the leaf out of his gentle fingers, and sending it into the street. My breath caught in my throat when it was almost swallowed up by the passing-by of an SUV.

"Quick! Into the bag!" I shouted. I was not about to endure another half an hour of this. Once it was safely and securely in the bag we continued our walk (with me secretly veering the children toward home).

While Jake had been concentrating on finding the Beauty Queen of all leaves, Ben had filled his baggie with darn near 80 leaves. Some were bent, some were torn, some were dirty, some were infested with bugs... and he was happy as could be about it. So then Jake whined that he only had one and apparently life wasn't very fair to him, and his baggie should be equally filled. He filled his bag quickly--at my insistence--and then off we trekked for home.

We made "trees" out of brown construction paper (which the kids crumpled up to resemble the "trunk"), and then they glued their leaves on the top. They loved this project and were so impressed with it! As soon as they were dry, up on the fridge they went!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


We've reached that dreadful stage where every other word out of Ben's mouth is "Why?" He'll be 3 in January and he's smart, and capable, and totally curious about the world around him. I can't say that I blame him; there's a lot of interesting things to look at and experience... but if he asks me "Why?" one more time I think I might blow my top!

When Jake was that age he didn't ask too many "Why?" questions. He did a little, but we'd answer him pretty thoroughly and he would contently withdraw any further questions. Ben... not so much.

We saw a fire truck come sailing down the road tonight, lights flashing, siren wailing, horn honking, and I made the mistake of saying, "Look Ben! A fire truck!" That led him to ask where it was going. A fair question, so I promptly answered that it was probably going to help someone who was injured. This led to "Why Mom?"
"Because that's what firemen do."
"They help those who are hurt. They go to their house."
"Why? Why Mom?"
"Because that's their job."
"Why? ...Why? ...Why Mom? ...Mom? ...MOM!"
"Why, Mom? For 'da fire? On da house?"
"Yes. Look! McDonald's!"

This is a sad, but typical situation that happens pretty regularily. He asks why objects are certain colors, why the dogs have hair, why I brush my teeth, why the food stays at the table, why, why, and more why! Sometimes I answer, "Because I said so!" or "Just because!" But he has no clue what "because" means, so it's in one ear and out the other. I'm hoping it's a phase that will end soon!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lab, Part 2

You'll want to read "Lab, Part 1" first to catch up...

Hubby was carrying Ben and we gingerly stepped into the vampire's lair--oh, sorry, Kaiser's laboratory. A lovely woman at the end of the table asked if the blood work was for the "baby". We responded "yes" and she asked us to come sit down in front of her.

I was completely dreading this. I thought, "Ben's going to take one look at that needle, freak out, I'll cry the big ugly cry... this will not go well for either of us." But instead I said, "he's never done this before, just so you know!" I kind of giggled a nervous laugh to show that I was a breezy, go-with-the-flow kind of Mom, but I didn't think I was fooling anyone.

This Lab tech bubbled over-the-top with kindness and friendliness. She talked to Ben a long time, explaining how things worked and what she was doing as she was doing them. She used real words like, "blood" and "tourniquet" and "needle", but she said them all with this soothing, gentle tone and Ben was completely mesmerized. Then she said, "Okay, I'm going to poke your arm here with this little needle and it'll pinch for a minute." Hubby was holding Ben's other arm down tight to his side, while I was busy removing all the blood from my own hands by clenching my fingers together tightly.

Another tech came over to help "hold down" the arm that was being worked on. Good grief, it was probably more dreadful for me to watch then for Ben to feel. There were some Halloween decorations on the walls and I was trying to distract Ben by pointing them out but he was transfixed by what was happening in front of him. The tech's were telling him things like, "Wow! Look at your muscles!" and "Let's test how big and strong your muscles are!" and "Let's see how healthy your muscles are!" which of course Ben just ate up! He was nodding confidently and answering, "Yeah!" and "They big!" and stuff. He was such a doll to watch! Every now and then he'd say, "Ow." But nothing more. Then she pulled off the last tube, removed the needle quickly and put a cotton ball on his arm.

"Okay! That's it big guy! You were awesome! I can't believe how good you were!" she was saying. I realized I had been holding my breath the entire time and was now nervously trying to inhale some air. I laughed out loud and patted Ben on his back. I was so extremely proud of how well he acted. I couldn't believe how calm and sweet he was about the whole thing! The Nurses and Lab tech's were just eating him up! Complimenting him and us. Then when we left the laboratory and exited through the waiting room three different people commented on how well he had behaved! Ben deserved a big treat after that, so we picked up his brother from school and went straight for ice cream!

Lab, Part 1

Hubby and I took Ben to Kaiser the other day to get some Lab work done. He needed several tubes of blood taken from his arm, and we also needed to pick up a "stool sample" kit (oh, the joys of parenthood). When we arrived at the Lab department, Hubby sat in a seat with Ben in the waiting area while I walked up to the counter to register.

I handed the woman behind the desk Ben's card and said, "My son needs to get some blood work done... his doctor already sent the orders through." She clicked something on the keyboard and then looked at me with a straight face and said, "He'll need his ID."

I kind of chuckled to myself, and while restraining the urge to laugh I responded, "Well he doesn't have one!" She looked at me, raised her eyebrows, glanced over at Hubby and Ben, and then looked back at me and continued: "Well, he'll need an ID to get his labs done."

Is she serious? I looked at her carefully but her expression was totally deadpan. It threw me off for a moment and I thought, Wow! Am I totally out of it? Is this the new thing parents are doing now? Getting ID cards for their babies? I cautiously said, "He doesn't have an ID..." but she didn't remove her stare from my face so I quickly explained, "He's only two!" ...and then I laughed because this conversation seemed completely ridiculous to me!

She looked quizzically over at Hubby and Ben again, and then glanced at her computer and said, "Well it says here he's 32, so he should have one! He'll need one to be admitted." Good grief! I mean, granted I've been a little tired all week due to a nasty cold, but do I really look old enough to have birthed a 32-year-old? Sheesh, I'm not even 30 myself! That'll be the last time I skimp out in the makeup department--sick or not!

It was then that she corrected herself and said, "Oh. I get it, 32 months. He's only two-and-a-half." Still deadpan... Was she for real? She then handed me a bag with a cup and gave me some instructions on removing the stool from his diaper. She told me to line the diaper with a plastic bag first, and then take my sample from there. Apparently this woman does not have children of her own, nor does she know of any kid under the age of thirty. Try explaining to a two-year-old that we need to line his butt with plastic to catch his poop. Yeah right! He'd hold it in for days if I did that! I mentally rolled my eyes and nodded along.

She gestured toward a door, "Okay you can go on in." After another mental eye roll I signaled to Hubby that it was time to face the music.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yesterday afternoon time got away from me a little and before I knew it my kids were whining for dinner. I glanced at the clock and realized it was already 5:00 and I didn't have anything ready. I knew my kids would declare they were starving at 5:01 so I had to move fast! I was opening the cupboards looking for something to prepare (you know me, not one to plan ahead) and pulled out some pasta. This started a whole array of questions:

"What is that Mommy?"
"It's the spaghetti before it's cooked. This is how I buy it."
"Why is it long? Does it bend? Do we eat that? How does it cook?"
To eliminate the number of questions barreling at me I held the bag out to my eldest.
"Oh, cool! Can I have a stick?"
"Me too! Me too!"

Of course the "sticks" were cracked and broken in no time at all and they were begging for more. I reached into the back of my cupboard where I had some old pasta, circa 1996. I handed each kid a pot, some scoopers, and a bowl and then poured the "retired" pasta into their containers. Jackpot! This kept them entertained throughout the entire making-of-dinner process.
Ben was talking non-stop, explaining that he was making meatballs and macaroni and cheese.
Jake was working so diligently, and he was concentrating so hard that he had a very stern expression on his face. I actually stood there with the camera for a couple of minutes waiting for him to smile or something, and then said, "Jake are you enjoying this?" And he assured me he was. So then I said, "Prove it!" and this was his expression:
Here he made a smoothie! Yum! Bean and pasta smoothie! That'll get the intestines flowing!
I had made it very clear at the start of this project that I did not want to see any beans or pasta on the ground. In this picture I asked Ben, "What are you guys doing?" and he said, "Oh, Day-tub spilled so he keening up!" Then he was pointing out the couple of beans on the floor to him saying, "Over here, Daytub... over dat way!" It was funny!
So yes, let me point out how much I hate my kitchen. The floor is this marbled-gray tile with brown grout, and my counter (as much counter space as I have) is all white tile with brown grout. So pretty. I can't believe how tiny my kitchen looks in these pictures...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tech talk terror

I was working in a Microsoft Word document typing something up and was trying to make it a little more "creatively pretty". The original font styles that Word offered were all boring to me, so I turned to my sister--the creative genius--for help. She tells me to go to for some new font styles. I think, "Wow! How neat!"

Sure enough this website offers tons and tons of new fonts and you're able to download them for free to your computer! Sounded good to me! I found a couple I liked, clicked the "download" button, and waited. Nothing appeared in my Word font box. Hmm... Now I'm not a very techy person, so back to my sister I went. I explained my computer problem and that I couldn't figure out how to download the new font. She said, "I did it pretty easily..." go figure. This from the person who always made straights A's in school. Then she told me to click on the download box. More heavy sighs from me. Did I mention that I'm not very computer-techy?

I went back and tried again. I managed to save the new font to my computer. Great! Progress! I opened it and sure enough, there was the new font style, but no obvious way for me to type with it. Mental head scratching... I wrote a new email to my sister, and this was her reply:

"You need to unzip it and install it. What unzip program are you using? Winzip? Then are you using Vista or XP? With Vista you right click and then click "install". With XP you need to copy and paste the file into C: Windows/fonts/".

I swear I read that passage fourteen times. I was just kind of blankly staring at my screen. Was this English? Did I bump a button that automatically changed her speech to a foreign language? What's an XP... or a Vista? How do you, or what do you, "unzip"? I know files can be opened, but some have zippers?? I thought the next thing she's going to tell me is that something needs to be "unbuttoned" or "put on a hanger" or "laid out to dry". I was beyond lost...

I randomly started pushing buttons and copying and pasting the darn font file to every windows folder I found. Finally, after sweating pretty profusely, I found the Windows Font folder. It was hiding between other files like "dell", "media", and "WinSxS". Who knew what they were for, as long as I found the correct folder I was happy. I dabbed my underarms and continued working. I finally managed to copy and paste and get the new font in the correct place!

I was thrilled! Mentally I was exhausted, physically I was a headachy-sweaty mess, but emotionally I was excited to have learned a new, cool techy move! Thanks to my lovely Sis for all her help, but I think next time I'll look up "Downloading New Fonts For Dummies" and see if it's written in English...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pre-heat, Re-heat

It's not a shock to those who know me that I'm not the world's next Rachel Ray. I can heat a can of soup to perfection, boil water like it's going out of style, and make a mean plate of nachos. However, I burn food without meaning to, and I under cook and overcook just about everything. I hate to meal plan, and we often have repetitive dinners week after week. Seriously, how much spaghetti can one girl cook? Or eat!

Recently I discovered it's not cooking the food that I despise, but cooking in the evening. I'm dog tired by the end of the day and the last thing I feel like doing is cooking a big meal... especially when my kids start whining that they're hungry a little after four. And it never fails that when I'm elbow deep in chicken carcass my children decide that that's the moment they'll fall and get hurt/pull out all the paints/spill milk on the table/color on the couch... Not to mention their incessant whining and complaining that they're starving and can't possibly survive waiting thirty more minutes to eat. I have no patience for whining. And I have even less at dinnertime.

So lately my solution has been to cook my meals at lunchtime, or in the early afternoon, and store it until dinner! Now when dinner time arrives I pull out my Gladware, un-pop the top, and shove it in the microwave. A high level of radiation does the trick and voila! Dinner is served! Of course there are the times (usually when Hubby is home) when I'll cook a fresh meal in the evening, but at least I've found my silver lining for all those other days.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sprinkle Art ...Again

Remember this blog? Well, Ben was at it again! He's been begging me and begging me to do another sprinkle picture so I conceded and below is the end result:

I think there's something fun in the fact that he gets to throw food around on a piece of paper, in hopes that it lands in glue blobs here-and-there! The last "cake" he made was up on our fridge for weeks before he finally let me take it down. I tried to draw cupcakes instead, or a double-layered cake... but no, it has to be this specific style of cake (if you can call it a "style") or it's not good enough! LOL