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"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." ~Aristotle

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fun Fact:  Eighty-five percent of men do not use the front opening of their underpants when they urinate.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fun Fact:  In most of the world's languages the word for mother begins with the letter m.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama


"Pearl"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

According to Ernest Hemmingway, four achievements are necessary to become a real man.  You should plant a tree, fight a bull, write a book and have a son.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fun Fact:  The letters of the word "SHAZAM," which is shouted to conjure up comic-book hero Captain Marvel, stood for Solomon's Wisdom, Hercules's Strength, Atlas's Stamina, Zeus's Power, Achilles's Courage, and Mercury's Speed.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fun Fact: The average caterpillar has 248 muscles in its head.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Count Your Blessings

I truly meant to list my blessings ... things I'm thankful for... and perhaps make a daily habit of it for the month of November.  A post a day.  Or maybe note something each day and then post one big list at the end of November.  In truth, I have, for years, planned on making a thankful tree, with leaves on which we, as a family, can write our blessings and things we're thankful for, on a daily basis.

Charming idea, isn't it?  The best laid plans...

Alas, another year has passed without the creation of the above monument to thankfulness.  Maybe next year.  For now, just a moment to pause and give thanks:
  • I am thankful for my family.  The family tree.  Including the nuts (if you are reading this, no, you are NOT one of the nuts.  Trust me).  The leaves are few but beautiful, and some have fallen this season. 
  • I am thankful for the blessings of a lovely home, cracked plaster and all. 
  • I am thankful to live in a country where dissent and worship are freely practiced. 
  • I am thankful for my friends, of all types, areas, levels ... I am thankful for this season of life - as frustrating as it is at times, I have two young children and that will never happen again. 
  • I am thankful -- exceedingly thankful -- for the good health of my husband.
  • I am thankful for God's grace - that it is available each day, new every morning.  I'm thankful that I get a daily do-over ... for my entire life.  I SO need that.
Anyway.  That's a short list.  And yours is probably similar.  And that's for a reason; the most important things aren't really things.  And you know that, too.  It's just good to get it in writing sometimes.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fun Fact:  The antibiotic nystatin, which is used chiefly to treat fungal infections such as thrush, is named after New York State, where it was developed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fun Fact: Lucille Ball was thrown out of the New York Robert Minton-John Murray Anderson School of Drama at the age of fifteen because her instructor thought she was "too quiet and shy."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fun Fact: Scientists in Canada discovered during tests that chickens increase their egg output when pop music is being played.


Termites eat through wood twice as fast when listening to rock music.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fun? Fact: The two most common surgeries are biopsies and Caesarean sections.


Please see The Business of Being Born.  Eye opening.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WTH Wednesday: I'm Just A Girl (What Do I Know?)

Ok, so I am trying really hard not to "go feministic" here.  Truly.  I generally don't have a "girls-can-do-anything-boys-can-do" chip on my shoulder. 

This is more of a red-faced, hopping up and down, shouting, "WHY DOESN'T ANYONE LISTEN TO ME?????" kind of rant. Have you visualized that tantrum? It's followed by a good ol' Charlie Brown "ARRRRRRGH!"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
I tell the mechanic on the phone: I know what's wrong.  I know where the leak is coming from.  What I don't know is how to explain it in automotive lingo.  So my description runs like this:

"Ok, so the guys who replaced my windshield a while back - I called them when water started leaking into my car.  I figured it was the windshield and they needed to fix it.  They came out, and when I showed them the location of the leak inside the car, they knew whatexactly the problem was; and it wasn't the windshield.  You open the hood, pull off some kind of shield thing, and under THAT is a rubber channel that's supposed to point the water away from the middle of the car to the side.  Only it came unglued, so the water ran straight into the car.  So they reglued it.  So it must be lose again. It leaks when it rains."

Silence.

"So your windshield is leaking? We don't do much with that."

"No. It's not the windshield.  It's leaking into the car from under where the windshield attaches to the car.  There's this strip under there..."

"What year is it?"

"2006 Impala."

"I've never seen anything like that in a 2006 Impala."

*crickets chirping*  

Really, what is the appropriate response to (the implied) "Since I'VE PERSONALLY never seen this issue, I doubt what you describe is REALLY the problem"? (again, if I was going to really rail here, I would ascribe something to his thoughts like, "silly girl - you know not the mysterious inner-workings of the automobile" ... but I'm resisting, remember?)

"Ok, well we'll take a look at it.  Phone number please?"

So I drop off the car.  The man at the desk is not the same person I spoke to ... so a bit of repetition on my part, followed by a blank stare.  I cross the street to the coffee shop.  I have some child-free time to read a few magazines and watch my Buschemi-esque grease monkey (that's an endeering term, right?) sleuth.

He opens the hood.  He peers into the car.  He pulls off all kinds of panel pieces.  He pulls up the carpet.  He puts it up on the lift (I had to Google that, by the way).  Although I rarely see him, I imagine he is puzzled, scratching various body parts and readjusting his hat frequently.  

I walk over and get a pedicure.  As the beautiful, fragrant bubbles caress my tootsies, I get a call.

"Mrs. Maize?"

"Yes."

"This is [insert shop name here]."

"Uh-huh."

"When did you say you had that windshield replaced?"

I try to dig back into my memory, all the while knowing the futility of this conversation.  He says he's not giving up, but he isn't quite sure what's "going on."

After two coats of "Chop-Sticking to My Story" and the requisite drying time, I head back to the shop.

I will truncate this story by saying: what I said was wrong? was wrong.  Only, in HIS defense, instead of the "thingy" being disconnected, it was merely inadequate; the water was running OVER it.  Directly into the air filter, which sits over the passenger's feet.  He proclaimed it a stupid design.  He couldn't believe it didn't have some kind of cover on it.  And his master plan was, amusingly enough, to make one out of duct tape.

I have no problem with that.  I love me some duct tape.

I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH HAVING TOLD THE MAN WHERE TO FIND THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM ... HOURS AGO.  $100 AGO.  THREE MAGAZINES AND A PEDICURE AGO.  

Am I alone here?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment





{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fun Fact: In early episodes of Star Trek, Dr. McCoy's medical scanner was just an ordinary salt shaker.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama



Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fun Fact:  Orcas kill sharks by torpedoing into the shark's stomach from underneath, causing the shark to explode.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Husband is Confused

If you had asked my husband a week ago if his wife decorates for Halloween, he would have given a resounding, "NO."  In the ten years he's known me, I haven't so much as put up a ghost or carved a pumpkin.

But this year, whether it's because I have trolled a few blogs (Halloween mantels are FAB!) or because my son's birthday party is this weekend, I have gotten into the Halloween mood.  You're not gonna see tombstones or blood here, but I did snap up some festive cute-ness.




That's hubby's jack-o-lantern.  Lovely, isn't it?







I went Martha on the steps: (I was going to make these myself, but I weighed the $7 against drawing and cutting, and the $7 won)  (Please don't look at the CRAP on the stairs ...





I have added a few friends to the house:

these light up!

And my favorite thing so far:

be nice ... still learning my photo editor thing!

I have some more odds and ends, and I will put up some spider webs right before the party... 



Monday, October 18, 2010

I Love This: Frixion Pens

Remember these?

I remember making "mistakes" so I could erase them.

I also remember the futility of erasing (by pen OR pencil) from that crap yellow paper... and the blobs of errant ink, smearing all over page and hand and mysteriously proving to be the only stuff non-erasable.  Black eraser detritus becoming more and more amalgamated with paper pulp, thus creating an indelible slime.  Oh, and lose the cap? You are now the proud owner of a not-quite-black writing instrument that has lost its only purported virtue.

So when I saw the new Pilot Frixion pen, I withheld excitement.  A large dose of skepticism and distrust, coupled with a tinge of contempt and even disdain ("Erasable? Yeah, we've heard THAT before.  Fat chance!")  But at the risk of throwing good money after bad memories, I went ahead and dropped a dime.

 I'm so glad I did.


This pen, along with its more colorful brothers and sisters -- red, pink, purple, blue (and cousins: ERASABLE HIGHLIGHTERS! *swoon*) --  have become this commitment-phobic pen geek's quill of choice.

To quote Cuppa Jo, "[T]his pen has revolutionized my life! My planner now works the way I need it to!" (I think she color-codes it, by category or person).  Hyperbole?  Maybe.  Still, it's very exciting to have a product fulfill a definite need (no more carrying around white-out tape like the big nerd I am) and work as it promises.

The cool, "space-age" feature of the pen is that it doesn't use an eraser ... it just uses a nib of rubber? vinyl? which when rubbed across the ink and paper removes the ink.  Friction, baby.  No eraser shavings, no used-up eraser.  Ever.  THE ERASING THINGY OUTLASTS THE INK.  Brilliant.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

K Squared



Last year, as Spring sprung, the Manatee's teacher pulled me aside to chat.  The basic gist was "she's young, she's not quite as emotionally mature as her classmates and you might want to consider having her repeat kindergarten."

[*insert Mommy-Jaw dropping here*]

Let me back up to explain that AM is frequently mistaken to be around two years older than her actual age.  This is partly due to her relative size (as a just-six year old, she's sporting size 7 clothing and size 2.5W shoes) but also has a great deal to do with her verbal and literary prowess; she's been reading (and I don't mean "cat, hat, rat") since she was three, memorized the alphabet backwards on her own around that same time, and, well ... simply doesn't miss much anything.  I think it's safe to say, in all humility: I gots a bright kid.

Repeat Kindergarten?  I had a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions.  I think the first was, "What? MY kid? but she's so SMART!"  Followed shortly by, "Hmm... so what is it that she hasn't learned, socially, that puts her at such a disadvantage?  Was there something we I could have done?" [*insert Mommy Guilt here*]

Her teacher rattled off the opposition I'd get: "She'll be bored," "What about her friends," "But she's so smart," "Won't she be upset" and "What will the other kids say?"  She assured me that in her many years of experience, none of these proved to be an issue --especially in kindergarten.  (She didn't prep me for "They're just trying to improve their test scores," and "They just want more taxpayer money" (huh?!?), but I digress.)

I spoke with a few more of her teachers, who all echoed the same thing.  Right now, everything might be fine, and she may be getting by, but at 3rd or 4th grade, everything "hits the fan" and educators see emotional and social problems with children who were "sent early" (which, technically, she wasn't).

I even sat in on a day of school, to observe her classmates.  I don't know what I was looking for ... some great disparity between her behavior and theirs that would signal, unequivocally, that she needed to do this K thing again.  I had no light-bulb moment.

I prayed for clarity a sign.

My Significant Otter's response was: "They're the professionals.  I respect their opinion."

I started to poll the community for a consensus (hey, I wanted to make an informed decision, ok?).  Every parent who "held back" --in whatever form that took-- is grateful and confident of that decision.  Those who chose to "send them on," (and some did both) have doubts.  Not that their kid is perpetually screwed up, but they can identify struggles based on the age-maturity gap.

I thought about my own school experience.  I was old for my grade (November birthday), and I don't recall any particularly immature classmates ... I do remember, however: MEAN GIRLS.  I can't protect her from them, but I can give her an extra year, can't I?  Equipped?  As her teacher put it: "we want her to be a total package."

In hindsight, had I known this would be an issue (is it an issue??) I would have waited to send her sent her to preschool an extra year.  But I trust that God was orchestrating all of this - when we moved, when she started preschool, when we moved again, etc - and so I have to trust that even though I could have waited, I didn't, and He has/had a reason for that.

Do I question our decision?  Sometimes.  Like when I walk into Open House and see her former classmates scooting about as first graders.  What's so different about my kid? Why can't she hack it?  But then we get on with the weekly grind, and I get over it.

People ask me, tentatively: "How's that kindergarten thing working for Audrey this year?"   I smile and say, "She loves it."  Because the truth is, she enjoys everything about school --the teachers, the students, the learning, the making and doing.  I don't really know how it's "going" for her; only time will tell.  The decision has been made, we're moving on with life, and I have to trust that God's got my back on this one, too.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Samuel Johnson observed, “A man should read whatever his immediate inclination prompts him to; though, to be sure, if a man has a science to learn, he must regularly and resolutely advance.” He added, “What we read with inclination makes a much stronger impression. If we read without inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the attention; so there is but one half to be employed on what we read.”

Friday, October 15, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Love This: Bac-Out

We have our share of mammal-based icky messes in this house.

Granted, we are done with diapers and have one cat, who is pretty fastidious.  Still, as any homemaker knows, bodily functions still happen.

This is why my short list of  household cleaners (vinegar, baking soda, Dawn detergent) must include this stuff:

(*if you are eating, please come back later*)

My daughter's issues with withholding and diarrhea.  Adventures in potty training.  My cat's urinary tract infection.  My husband's stubborn refusal to take anti-nausea meds.  My sleep-induced drool puddles.  Shoes that have to be set outside to "breathe."   The perpetual ring of pee around the toilet pedestal.  The litterbox.

Bac-Out is enzyme based*; it neutralizes odors on contact.  It comes in different concentrations and forms (drain cleaner, laundry and dish detergent) but I have found the basic stuff to work for all things - I add it to laundry, use it straight on some of the above offenses, diluted for others.  Newly added scents do not impress me (I'm not a fan of lavender); I prefer the original slightly-citrus scent.

The entire line is available at drugstore.com.  If you can find it elsewhere online, please leave me a comment.  If you happen to live near me, you can get it here.

*Ingredients: Enzyme Cultures (Natural), Lime Extract (Food Grade), Food Grade Stabilizers, Vegetable Based Surfactants, Spring Water (Filtered)

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Tribute to David M Bailey

Troubadour and Brain Cancer Hero David M Bailey passed away October 2.  I can't really do the man, his music, or its meaning justice here, so I will post this, followed by my own blog entry, just one year ago.  Godspeed, David.

David M. Bailey


          David Mark Bailey, 44, of Earlysville, died of brain cancer on October 2, 2010 in Charlottesville , VA and was welcomed into everlasting life at his place at the Table with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Born February 26, 1966, David was the son of Kenneth and Ethel Bailey, missionaries to the Middle East .  For the first 22 years of his life, his home was Beirut, Lebanon , including the first ten years of the Lebanese civil war.  Because of war, the family was obliged to evacuate first to Switzerland (1967), and later to Cyprus (1982).  David’s two final years of high school were completed in a private school in Germany because he was, as a young man, especially vulnerable on the streets of Beirut . 

David attended Grove City College in western Pennsylvania , where he met and married his soul mate, Leslie McGarvey, of Emlenton , PA.  During his college years he was active as a performing songwriter, playing evening and weekend gigs with a music partner.  He also enjoyed choir, frat life, acting, and organizing an underground newspaper.  David graduated with majors in English and Communication Arts.  In the late 80’s, David and Leslie relocated to the Washington , D.C. area where David worked for the U.S. government in satellite imagery analysis.  His career evolved to training and then program management with numerous software subcontractors, ending with employment with Eastman Software inMassachusetts .  Their daughter, Kelcey, was born in 1992 and son, Cameron, in 1994.

The day prior to moving to the Boston area, in July of 1996, David was diagnosed with brain cancer – Glioblastoma Multiforme IV (GBM).  He was expected to have fewer than two years to live.  Eager to have his life make a difference in the lives of others, he gave up his career in the software industry and, with a great leap of faith, launched a third career as a performing songwriter – a “troubadour of hope.”  Following two surgeries, radiation, experimental chemotherapy and nuclear therapy, David criss-crossed America (and Europe ) singing in coffee houses and churches, for cancer conferences and cancer survivor groups for 12 years.  David wrote all of his own songs, which grew out of his experiences of war and of battling a deadly cancer.  He sang of faith, hope, love and of living life to its fullest each day.  He experienced a recurrence of brain cancer in late 2008, recovering enough to tour in 2009 and early 2010.  Enduring numerous additional surgeries and difficult treatments, David made a final tour in July of this year.

David is survived by Leslie, his wife of 23 years; his children, Kelcey and Cameron; his parents, Kenneth and Ethel Bailey; a sister, Sara Makari and her husband, Victor; numerous sisters- and brothers-in-law and eight nieces and nephews.  To quote a line from one of David’s songs, “The tears of the angels form a river where you can wash your pain, and even in the middle of the thunder, don’t forget the love inside the rain.”  His theme was “There may be years of tears behind you, but right now you’ve got One More Day.”  He leaves behind him a musical legacy of 23 professionally-recorded CDs.  His music and his personal testimony have affected the lives of countless thousands in this country and around the world.

The family offers deep gratitude to Drs. Henry Friedman, Allan Friedman and David Reardon at Duke and Dr. David Schiff at UVa and their caring staffs.  We also offer loving thanks to our family of caregivers at the Hospice House, Hospice of the Piedmont, Charlottesville .  Memorial gifts are welcome and may be made to Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church, 6566 Spring Hill Road, Ruckersville, VA 22968.  Half of those gifts will be equally divided between the following brain tumor organizations:  The American Brain Tumor Association, the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke, Gray Matters Foundation, the Florida Brain Tumor Association and T.H.E. Brain Trust.

David was a charter member and Elder at Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ruckersville , VA , where he co-chaired the Evangelism Committee.  Baptized into the Covenant, he was a lifelong Christian and we will have a Celebration of his life and of the Resurrection at a Memorial Service on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 2:00 pm at Meadows Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, VA.   His daughter suggests an attire of tie-dye, if you like.  David would be wearing jeans and ask you to check out his website, www.davidmbailey.com.

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Sunday, 05 October 2008
I'm ready for David
What a beautiful, clear,  crisp, fall day.  What a blessed amazing time in life.
I'm finally ready for David Bailey.
"You've got to hear this guy," my dad told me, nearly two years ago.  This folk-ish singer, just a man and his guitar, very introspective, very good, and a brain cancer survivor - 10 years, Glio (that's grade 4, the big one, for those unversed). 
He sent me cds.  He went to see him live, at least a few times.  He attended the brain tumor support group with my mother in law (and still does) every other Wednesday night.
Me: not me.  No support groups for me - fear of hearing the bad news?  Not wanting to be brought down?  Not wanting to make others feel jealous at how well Ian's doing?  Not wanting to dwell?  Wanting to grieve and grapple with Christians who had their own issues but recognized the shared struggle of sin and pain... really that's mostly the reason. 
No listening to cancer guy music.  Why?  Fear... of becoming emotional.  Of having those deep nerves touched the way only music can.  To connecting the sound of a guitar to this deep pain and fear.   To hearing someone talk about THE DAY.  The day you find out, the day they cut it out, the day you realize it's worse than you thought, the day  you look at your children and weep for their future(s).  I don't want that pain poked, rustled, jostled, brought to the surface.  Why put myself through that?
So today I looked down at my cd basket where a random selection lay - mostly jazz cds I've acquired since moving in, but a few odds and ends.  And there, lying amonst the happy, zippy swing tunes was David M. Bailey's 2-disk set:  Hope: The Anthology.  For the first time, even seeing the cd didn't cause a pang.  I thought ... I can do this.  I can give it a try.  I can confront the demons and embrace some beauty - beauty rising from someone ELSE'S pain. 
And it is beautiful.  It's not incredible, amazing music.  But it is the poignant, genuine, musing of a man who has been down this road ...   Hope, REAL hope.  Positivity in so many forms.  And just reading the song titles will give you an idea of the focus here:
1. The Message of Hope
2.  Live Forever
3.  Brand New Day
4.  Love the Time
5.  On a Day Like Today
6.  Time in my Mind
7.  I'm Thankful
8.  Life
9.  Give Me Your Today
10.  All Day Today
11.  Most to Give
12.  There's a Light
13.  Not Yet
14.   Keep On Walking
15.  Everything Will Be Alright
16.  If I Had Another
17.  So It Goes
~And that's just disk one.  100% positive message, no matter the topic.  Thanks, David.  Thanks, Dad.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Are Your Kids "INTO"?? How can you tell?


My baby is four.

FOUR.

Sigh.

His new obsession: flashlights.  He received at least five for his birthday, and he loves every one of them.  They range from practical (solar charged!), to cute (pig! dog!) to ultra-convenient------> 

So it has this plan-ahead-and-buy-Christmas-gifts-in-July-at-garage-sales Mom pondering ... what are my kinds "into" this year?

For the last two years, I would have told you that Manatee was into Polly Pockets.  Only, that wouldn't be true.  It was MOMMY who bought them, bought more of them, bought them new clothes, always wanted them as a kid ... and then grew up to vacuum up their shoes.  My daughter, however, is basically disinterested.  A month ago I confiscated Polly and friends in response to the state of her room, but save the initial freak-out, she hasn't mentioned them since.  She's not "into" dolls, really -- doesn't carry them around or change their clothes.  It intrigues me: all of her creatures and little people are mute.  When I was six my dolls were getting married, going on adventures, and holding city council meetings where they all had a vote.  Hers lie about, "lifeless."

She's into books.  Truly, I could probably remove all else and she would be content.  It's hard to send out gift suggestions to family, though; which Magic Tree House book HASN'T she read? I have no idea.  Never thought to keep a "have read" log.  Then again, it's probably best we don't OWN all the books on the planet.

So my always-try-to-be-prepared brain was sent into a tizzy when I realized I had just distributed birthday party invitations to Monkey's classmates.... and it's likely that dutiful mommies will call soon, asking the dreaded "What is he into" question.  

"Uh, we could really use ... batteries.  Yep, batteries, carabiners and sticks.  Heck, dig through your junk drawer, you should be all set."

Some boys his age, I'm told, are into Star Wars or trains.  He wouldn't know a light saber if it zzhhhhhh'd his arm off, and he mostly ignores his train table.  He'll "play cars," but that mostly involves the cars embroiled in some sort of conversation: 

"Hey, big truck? Do you want to go see Sally? She's the YELLOW car.  Can you get there? Do you need a LADDER (grabs stick)?  We can go to her HOUSE and see what she has to EAT. [insert boy-making-motor-sounds noise here]"

We can always find something fun at the local toy store ... but how kosher is it to ask for gift cards?

How about you?  What are your kids into?
Fun Fact: The one-ounce brown bat, which is most common in North America, is capable of eating five hundred insects an HOUR during its nighttime feeding.  (moral: be kind to bats!)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

WTH Wednesday: Train Derailment

I call it my Daily Cadence.  The way my day goes.  Mostly it has to do with my internal life; the thoughts spinning about my cranium, arranging themselves any-which-way till I beat them into submission or brain-dump them onto paper.

Sometimes, it's also physical.  The pace of life.  The way we roll.  First we make the bed, then we get dressed...

When I say "we," I don't really mean My Hero.  I mean Mommy, Monkey and Manatee.  How we function day-to-day.  How we manage to get out of the house in the morning, how I manage to get dinner on the table most days and laundry done before it stinks (gah!).

The thing is, I talk to myself a lot.  Now that I live with people, my monologue has gone inward.  Which means I am the silent narrator.  I'm commenting on life in general, mixed in with planning next steps for the day, week, year.  What's for dinner? Did I say the right thing to Kelly today? Are these pants really worth trying to repair? ... all jumbled in there.

But then... horror of horrors: the constant, or at least predictable rhythm of interruption - the children.

Look, I don't expect my life to be silent and orderly.  I have kids.  I get that.  I also don't expect to complete all tasks without interruption with anyone else at home with me (including My Hero). What frustrates the POO outta me, though, is when I go an entire day without 1. finishing a task, or much worse 2. finishing a complete thought.  I call this "Train (of thought) Derailed" and it makes Mommy VERY, VERY cranky.

Example:  I have a "No Talking To Mommy When She's In The Basement" rule. Why? Because I have counted ... and I get anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes from hitting that last step until someone is at the top of the stairs.  Calling out Moooooooooommmy?  Mom?  Followed by a request (food), a tattle (he's climbing on the furniture) or a random question (where did we get the sandbox?).  ALL I WANT TO DO IS PUT THE DRY CLOTHES IN A BASKET AND THE WET CLOTHES INTO THE DRYER, PUSH ALL THE BUTTONS AND GO UPSTAIRS.  Why, oh why, can I not do this?

It's like the Phone Phenomenon, which I think was more an issue for OUR moms; as soon as Mommy is on the phone, the kids go nuts.  Why? Attention.  They either want the attention or they feel they can get away with things because Mommy is distracted.  Now in the age of emails and cell phones, I think part of that phone traffic has been reduced.  But the issue remains - for me it's "Look, Mommy's attempting to be productive.  How can I reassert my very being into that equation?"

Yes, my children are more important than the housework!!  But that doesn't mean I relish the derailment.  There are small windows in the day wherein the children are playing quietly, or alone, or at least not fighting, and I sit, motionless and hostage, afraid to rise.  Like right now.  I have a load of laundry in the washer as I type.  Kiddos are playing (together! a miracle!) with Connectagons in the parlor.  If I were to cross their lines of sight, I GUARANTEE I would get that same 2-4 minutes before SOMETHING would go TERRIBLY wrong ("MOMMMMMM!   He took all the RED ones!!!  He won't let me have ANY!").

So why am I writing this? What do you care?  Well, I guess it's nice just to put into writing.  Why some days I am completely frustrated and defeated and confused and irritated.  It's because I can't (yes, you can have that) get a complete (I think it's in the top drawer) thought out.  (NO, YOU DO NOT NEED TO WEAR A COAT TODAY, IT'S 90 DEGREES!!!!)

Am I alone here?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama


"Chloe will see me and she'll say I look fabulous" -Z

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fun Fact: Babies are born without kneecaps.  They do not appear until the child reaches two to six years of age.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

WTH Wednesday: Snackies

Snack snack snack
All day long
Snack snack snack
While I sing this song 
(with apologies to Adam Sandler, and you, dear reader, if you now have this song in your head.  What crap we listened to back in the day, eh?)


We just made it through a very looooong summer.  It was long because: 1. I have children  2. I have children  3. somewhere along the lines I ... birthed children.

Ok, so it wasn't THAT bad.  But we had daily disagreements on the following topics: 1. "don't annoy your brother" 2. "don't scream at your sister" 3. "go OUTSIDE" 4. "please wear SHOES outside" 5. "no, we are not watching television," and 6. "NO, you do NOT NEED TO EAT right now.  You just had  (insert meal
here).  Go play."

So now a break to pause and reflect on the Child Snack Culture.  If you're a Mommy, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  It was the first thing I heard about when we left my daughter's preschool: "What'd you do today?"  "We had a SNACK!" "uh huh. what ELSE did you do?"  Every day: The Snack Report.

We eat breakfast at 8:30.  Preschool: 9-11:30  We eat lunch at 12 ish.

Soccer: snack signups passed around at first meeting.  Soccer starts at 8:45 (we ate breakfast at 8).  Till 9:45.  Then, as kids leave the field, they grab a snack and a drink from the obedient parent volunteers and leave for home.

Gymnastics Camp: starts at 9, ends at 12.  We ate breakfast at 8:30. I am instructed by my daughter to be sure to bring a snack tomorrow ... "for after we're done."  As in, right before I pick her up.

Vacation Bible School: snack (THEMED, to boot).  Sunday School/Nursery: snack.  The extended care program for Kindergarten (two hours, tops, after the lunch I packed): snack.

According to the Pennington Biomedical Research Center:

"Snacks are important part of a child’s diet. It is important to understand that young children need more frequent meals than adults, and they need snacks between meals to support growth and development.  A mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack can increase a child’s intake of dairy, fruits and vegetables.  When the snacks are planned, the child will most likely have a healthier snack. Also, having snacks will cut down on the feeling of hunger and less likelihood of overeating at mealtimes by going for second helpings." (emphasis mine)

I would love to increase my children's intake of nutrient-dense, low calorie (or even high fat, in terms of dairy) foods.  For them to be munching apple slices (sans the caramel dip, Puh-leaze), sesame sticks, organic yogurt (hold the hormones) or broccoli trees.  But in this over-processed, convenience-addicted, contaminate-paranoid, allergy-sensitive society, the snacks provided are shelf-stable carbs at best; dyes, HFCS and preservatives out the wazoo at worst.  Little Hugs? Cheetos?  Pudding from the shelf (as opposed to the cold, dairy section variety, which at least has a bit of redeeming nutritional content)?  "Rolled up sheets of fruit-flavored rubber that look suspiciously like wallpaper"? (Barbara Dale)

Look, I'm sympathetic to the snack idea.  It's a treat.  It's a bribe.  It's a break for the teacher/caregiver (BELIEVE ME, I'm sympathetic).  But an hour after they've had, hopefully, a nutritious, well-balanced meal at home? They can wait another 30 minutes.  Keep your Freezy Pop and pass the hummus, please.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's the Little Things

A trip to the local hardware store made my day.  Perhaps even my week.

My mission: 100 washers.  You're going to laugh at me, but here goes...

My purpose: to put one on each hanger in my closet, so that when I wear something, I can take the washer off.  If the washer's still on at the end of the season, out it goes.  Yeah, 'cause I'm anal like that.

I know, I know!  I can turn the the hangers around.  I can put a piece of tape on the hanger.  I could put a rubber band around the hanger.  I could make a list of everything I wear every day (don't think I haven't considered it).  Sigh.

Anyway, I came up with the idea last night, and ran with it today.  I have never been to this hardware store before, and I was pleasantly surprised at how bright and clean it is.  The cashier-person (she could be the owner, for all I know?!) was very pleasant and helpful.  She counted out 100 washers.  It was the best $5 I've ever spent in days.

So as I practically skipped out of the store with my sack o' rings, I happened to turn my head to see ....


(Can you hear the angels singing?)  I have been looking for a Pyrex measuring pitcher forEVER.  (Ok, not ever.  For probably a week.  Still, when I obsess, I OBSESS.)  I needed something less clunky than my TWO cup measuring pitcher to use with my new kitchen gadget.  And there, sitting in the HARDWARE store (I'd been online a bunch of places, and Target ...), was the perfect, this-week's-problem-solving item.

Ahhhhh.

So I had to return to the cashier ... who, knowing the purpose of the rings, and seeing the ecstatic look on my face from finding a measuring device, surely thinks I'm a nutcase.  Oh, and she goes to my church, which means she can whisper and point the next time she sees me.  Oh well.  *grin*  I am in anal-retentive Type A OCD bliss.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment (on Saturday)

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

I Love This: Bananagrams

I am a Werd Nerd.

I love crosswords and word searches and even fill-ins.  I play the letter games on My Baby.  My second favorite game on Pogo.com is Word Whomp.  I play a mean Perquacky, Mad Gab, Last Word and Balderdash.

I despise, however, Scrabble.  People who recognize my love of language are sometimes surprised by this fact.

Here's my beef with Mr. A.M. Butts and his 1938 invention: I can come up with a b-e-a-Utiful word.  Use all my letters.  Even use a J.  BUT THERE IS NOWHERE ON THE BOARD TO PLAY IT.  So there it sits, turn after turn being scavenged to form "jet," "help" and "tide."  Yawn.  No one will ever know the brilliance sitting here, full of hope, in my letter tray, waiting for its chance to leap onto the Triple Word Box.  Rats.

Enter: Bananagrams!  The free-form Scrabble-like game in a banana bag.  Excellent!  Here's why I love this game:

1. Go at your own pace: you're not holding anyone up by trying to think of a word using your X.  Take all the time you need!

2. Clicky ivory-like tiles.  Very tactile.  I'm all about tactile.

3. No one's words are IN YOUR WAY.

4. No silly colored squares to trifle with.

5. No math.  Really. (well, unless you are going with tournament-style, and then I guess you track how many tiles the loser(s) have left).

6. PORTABILITY.  Big for me: tidy packaging.  No standard-sized board game box under your arm, announcing: "We are about to engage in a terribly annoying game that will take at least an hour!" as you walk into the room.  Nope, slide this puppy into a coat pocket and you can be Stealth Word Monger.

7. Quality: Yes, it's possible the zipper could die on the banana.  But you could just toss the letters into something fabulous like this.  What happens when you get coffee on the Scrabble board? a trip to Toys R Us.

8. Semi-even playing field: you don't have to know all the three-letter words that start with "e" to play your last tile.  You simply make what you know, and if you get stuck, you pull apart some other word and make something different.  If you don't naturally think of words like "conveyance," "naturalist" and "garbanzo," you can stick with "chairs," "package," and "train."  No problem.

I am a Bananagramma Mamma-Jamma.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Random

I feel compelled to add today: When I was growing up, I poured over the Calvin and Hobbes anthologies we had around the house.  My parents were big fans, too.  So much so that this became part of our family vernacular:

Slippinrippindangfangrottenzargbargadingdong.

It's what Calvin's dad, dressed as Santa, said when he stubbed his toe? trying to do something quiet and Santa-like.  Thought it was so funny I memorized it.  It's a good one to have in your bag of tricks, so that at least one of your 85 swear words (see previous post) are hilarious and make you laugh :)
Fun Fact: 85 = the number of taboo or swear words spoken, per day, by the average English speaker.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fun Fact: Banging your head against a wall burns 150 calories an hour.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Works For Me: UnPaper Towels

I recycle. I go easy on electricity. I try to buy items with minimal (read: small, tidy) packaging. I use reusable bags at the grocery store.

I still hate CFL bulbs.

You can pry my "carbon credits" from my cold, dead hands.

So my choice to ditch the paper towel habit, although seemingly ecologically motivated, is truly due to only one kind of green -- the cha-ching kind.

A year ago we had no kitchen, and no running water on the first floor. FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. I was able to cook in the oven (located conveniently in my dining room) and microwave (see above). All this was only a few steps away from the fridge ... you get the picture. No water on the first floor meant washing dishes in a utility sink in the basement. You know, the kind into which a washing machine drains.

I donned the martyr robe but not the pants; I lugged down pots, pans, coffee mugs and serving spoons, but we used disposable plates, bowls, cups and utensils. For. A. Year. I contributed personally to deforestation, and the amount of trash we generated in that time ... scandalous!

Because we had no running water, sticky fingers and table cleaning and all other general cleaning was done with paper towels. I bought WATER, too, by the gallons, and made my own wipes. When paper towels were on sale and I had coupons, I stocked up. When I discovered the lovely softness of Viva towels, my heart went pitterpat; where had these been all my life?

But then, as we started PAYING for the new kitchen, I started trying to think of ways to cut back. What purchases were habit, that I could rethink? Not just avoiding the impulse buy, or putting off the big-ticket purchase till we could pay cash, but what little things were bit-by-bit biting us in the tush? I use coupons faithfully, I look for sales, try to match it all up ... but what could I just stop buying?

Paper towels.

Unpaper towels: Made In The Red Barn

I replaced my upright paper towel holder with a Towel House from etsy.com.  Rationale: it would be hard to kick the paper towel habit.  I didn't need a full-sized microfiber cloth for the little wipe ups.  I didn't want to wipe down a sticky face with a dish rag.  So one day, instead of reaching for the paper, I was pulling out one of these babies ------->.

I still love the feel of Viva towels, and give them (especially in select-a-size) a hearty thumb up.  I have an emergency roll under the sink for bodily functions TP can't handle, putting over bacon in the microwave, and drying out my cast iron pans.  That's it.  It's practically buried under the sink, and hence, I don't use it.

Going cloth in lieu of paper.  It works for me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment (on Monday)

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fun Fact: Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backward, and for that reason they are featured on the Australian coat of arms.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama



Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fun Fact:  The blood in the famous shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho was in fact Hershey's chocolate syrup.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama