Monday, December 5, 2011


(OK, so it's January, but I'm so far behind in posting, I'm writing posts and backdating them, but tonight I had to do a book club post, so stuck this in here.)

Since both Elizabeth and Andrew were small, we've looked for short simple phrases or really, one word to describe them and their personalities. 

For a long time, pretty much ever since he became mobile, Rich has called Andrew indomitable.  And it's true, there's not much holding this guy back.  But lately, I've hit on the perfect word: relentless.  This boy is relentless when he wants something, and most particularly when he wants attention, especially a response.  Which has led to another descriptive phrase: aggressively conversational.  Let's just say he cannot be placated with a "not right now" or a "hold on a minute" or even, distressingly, a "shh! quiet in [church/restaurant/any public place that requires quiet moments]."

For now (well other than church or other public places) it's mostly fairly charming, so we just try to give him a specific answer to whatever query and hope he gets distracted by something else.  Not that he ever really does, but there's always hope. 

In Sweetpea news, school continues to go well, and we're confident we made the right decision in having her in a second kindergarten year.  She is in a bilingual immersion school, which means one full day in English followed by one full day in Spanish, and so on.  For one thing, in Spanish, she is gaining confidence and even says sometimes, let's talk in Spanish.  She understands nearly everything said to her in Spanish, and she can recite poems and expressions and sing songs in Spanish.  She's still shy about speaking conversationally, but the teachers report her confidence is growing.  And, she's quickly picking up reading in Spanish.  It's nice Spanish is more phonetic than English, though some sounds (like J, which makes an h-ish sound rather than the English "juh") are harder than others. 

A couple of other parents have mentioned to me they want to talk about how we decided to put her in this grade.  The birthday near the cut off is so hard - we initially decided to push her ahead because she was so confident, and verbal, and seemed ready.  But the child we saw at school events was quiet, reserved, and in the background, often non-participatory, whereas at home (and with neighborhood friends) she was loud, assertive, and very much in charge.  Now, though, her English teacher tells us that sometimes she is non participatory, because she is more mature than many of the kids and doesn't want to do silly things.  But overall, we can see she is more confident in class and we think benefits from being on the older side.  But who knows.  I think she would have been fine either way, and we're glad we have this opportunity to have her experience something new this year.  Overall, the teachers (at this school and her previous school) report she is a happy, confident girl who is quick to make friends and easily moves amongst groups of friends. 
I sometimes look at both E and A and wonder how their personalities will continue to develop and what kinds of kids they will be, and compare to what kind of kids both Rich and I were.  Somehow I think (and I hope!) they will have an easier path than Rich and I did.  Though it's not like anyone really enjoys the middle school years. 

In the Myers-Briggs world, Rich is an ISTJ, and I am an ESTP, which means we have fairly similar personalities except Rich is an introvert and I am an extrovert.  Though, for both the S and P I score so close to the middle it's hard to really say.  And, I first took the assessment when I was a senior in college, and my extrovert score was nearly off the charts.  In the (gulp) decades since, I've officially taken the assessment another 3 or 4 times and each time my extrovert score slides closer and closer to introvert.  Now, I'm close to an ambivert.  It's far too early to tell for E and A, of course.  Rich has a more classic scientist/engineer type profile, and while I emphasize the arts at this point for E&A, I have to admit I really hope they both have a more analytic, science-minded focus.

We'll see.  The fun is in the journey, right?  Right?  Isn't that right?  Don't you think so?  Are you listening?  Did you hear my question?  Do you think so?  Whoops, sorry, channeling Andrew's relentless queries there for a sec. 

Are you an introvert or extrovert? Author Susan Cain explores how introverts can be powerful in a world where being an extrovert is highly valued. Join From Left to Write on January 19 as we discuss Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. We'll also be chatting live with Susan Cain at 9PM Eastern on January 26. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. Fascinating, though I haven't finished reading yet! All opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy birthday Little Guy!

Little guy was very excited his birthday was on a holiday - Thanksgiving Day.  Elizabeth was jealous - why does he get to have his birthday on a holiday and I had to have my birthday on a Tuesday!

The weekend before his birthday we had a few friends over and a small celebration.  

 The little guy's favorite dessert is pumpkin pie, so of course we had to celebrate with his favorite. 

 On his actual birthday we were with Rich's side of the family. 

 He enjoyed being the center of attention.

And he really liked the Thomas cake! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sometimes we get it right

Ok, well, NaBloPoMo was a bust this year, and once again I have a creative excuse.  Last year it was a kidney infection, the year before it was the cold that never, ever, went away over 3 months.  This year it was walking pneumonia!  What can I possibly come down with next year?  

But, at least one thing went right this fall.  I was stressing over what, if any, activity to choose for them over the winter, and finally decided to just go for gymnastics.  Sure, it's a hike to get there, and a pain in the middle of a Saturday, but this is one time I can confidently say we got it right.  Elizabeth LOVES it. No more soccer for her.  We're going to stick with gymnastics or dance from here on out.  Andrew thinks it is fun and all, but the truth is he'd really rather be playing a ball sport.  But it works, and it's fun for them to be in class at the same time.  So just two quick videos from the rope swing. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Trophy Day, part II

Elizabeth got her soccer trophy last weekend, and when we told Andrew he was going to get a trophy, too, he was beside himself with joy and excitement.  And then soccer day was cold and rainy, and it looked like the handing out of the trophies would be canceled.  At the last minute, someone offered up their office, which was close to the soccer field.  But it caused a huge rush to get there and many families didn't make it.  I'm thankful we could - Andrew was so happy. 
 He took the picture of the waiting trophies. 

There are a few kids who are almost as small as he is, but in this picture he is soooo much smaller than the other kids!  He so loves it though.  Can't wait to see Coach Pablo in the spring! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Misked-up Stragety

Rich here again.  Gotta give Susan at least a couple of breaks during the hell, er, experience that is NaBloPoMo.  I also like to blog about things I find funny or interesting before they slip out of my head like a random piece of spaghetti through a strainer.  (Man, I *hate* it when that happens!  The spaghetti, I mean.)

I asked Andrew this morning if he wanted a snack.  Without delay, he said he wanted some "misk" and pointed at the part of the counter where we keep cereal, chips, snacks, and bread.  I did not want to show him how flummoxed I was at the request, so I paused and said "Sorry, little guy, I didn't hear you.  Can you tell me again what you want?"  Without delay "Misk.  Misk." With more pointing at the counter.  As I frantically, yet calmly so as not to alarm the ever-observant boy, scan the counter I spot this:

"Misk" = Mix

"Oh, the mix!  Good job, little guy."

Before I give him the mix, though, I decide that I need to correct this issue of pronunciation.  We spend the next 2-3 minutes repeating back and forth:  "Mix, little guy."  "Misk"  "Mix, little guy"  "Misk"  "Mix"  "Misk" "No, little guy, mi-kuh-sss"  "Mi-sss-kuh"    Finally, after pronouncing every letter several times, with the emphasis on the "x," Andrew says "mi-kuh-sss." He was very proud of himself.

At dinner later that evening, we were in a restaurant with moderately loud music (great Mexican food though and a locally owned place) and I told Susan the story from this morning and said, "Andrew got it.  Right little guy?  Mix!" And I hear him repeat it, "Mix."  "That's right little guy, mix!"

To which Susan says, "Uh, he's saying 'misk'."  

I look at my boy, who is grinning with pride from ear to ear.  I smile and say "Good job, little guy."

So, there is an "apple doesn't fall far from the tree" story here.  In 6th grade I had a great history teacher.  He really challenged me, more than many of my teachers prior to that had, and did it in a way that made you feel more mature, even adult-like.  I was answering a question in class about the Germans in WWII, and I started to respond, "Their stragety was to..."  Before I could get the rest of the answer out, my teach says, "What?  Stragety?"  And the exchange goes something like:

"Yes, their stragety was..."


"Uh, yes, stragety"

"No, strategy"






"Yes, strategy"

"Strategy.  Uh, their stra-te-gy was..."

Now, I'm not bragging, but I was one of the top students in my elementary school class.  This could have potentially been seriously damaging to me since I also had a fragile ego.  But, it turned out that the other kids in the class kind of bonded with me a bit, as if to recognize that I wasn't an academic robot, that I was human and could make mistakes.  And, I learned a little lesson about myself - that it's ok to make mistakes and learn from them and that my teachers are truly here to help.

Hopefully both E & A will have that realization some day.  And, no Baby Bush jokes, please...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Skipper the Fast

Here's a video from June of me ignoring my persistent daughter in favor of watching Skipper off leash.  This little dog is fast - I took this video after she'd been running around a while, so she's actually slowed down here. 

I've been doing a run/walk program with my friend Libbie in the mornings and bringing Skipper along.  I have to say this morning time in the park is probably the best thing we've done for Skipper.  For a while I was dragging her along and feeling like I was asking too much of her, but lately I've been letting her off leash and been amazed by her.  She tracks along, running circles around us.  She'll run to greet other dogs, but always comes back when called, without too much delay.  I definitely do not have full control over her, which makes me nervous in a city park, but she is far better than I ever would have expected, and she obviously recognizes that she is to listen to me.

This has given her a lot of confidence.  She still hides a fair bit, and is still frightened of Rich, but she'll actually come out when people are around.  She's just still so skittish and nervous, but she's made amazing progress in 10 months.  We seem to have turned the corner on housebreaking (I hope I haven't just jinxed it!).  She's just obviously my dog, and I'm excited to work more with her. 

But, like any dog, she's got her odd quirks.  Her great love is socks.  Socks that have been worn by me, or actually anyone.  She snags them out of the dirty clothes (we have to bury them under other clothes) and hides them in her bed, and occasionally snacks on them til they are ruined. 

And, the best news of all?  Finally, finally, finally, we have won the battle of the fleas.  Whew! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I have no idea why kids get a ring of chocolate around their mouth when eating chocolate ice cream.  Choco-mouth is a term of endearment in our house.

Today was a FULL day - we left the house at 8:30 this morning (thank goodness my sister is staying here this weekend and was able to help with the kids) to make it to Gaithersburg for a Girls on the Run 5K in which our niece and my brother were running, then my mom and I ventured to Toys R Us (with Andrew) while the rest of the crew went to my brother's house, then we went to the ice rink for our nephew's hockey game, then a pitstop for ice cream, then back to my brother's to watch the Raven's game, before making it home just before 7 pm.  E&A were exhausted, which resulted in a rather unpleasant bathtime experience.  Can't wait til Rich gets home!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

trophy day

Today was Elizabeth's next to last soccer game - next week is a make up from a rain date.  Since today was a nice (though freezing!) day, Coach Eric decided to hand out the team trophies today.

It's a nice trophy - and I honestly think her last one from soccer.  Thanks to Coach Eric and Coach Janet for putting up with a lot this year (and for being so nice to Andrew, too, hanging out there on the right).

Friday, November 11, 2011

a groupie is born

Here's an old one from the summer.  

Do you watch PBS kids shows?  If so, you know SteveSongs.  Inbetween the shows, to fill the 30 minutes, this guy named Steve, who always wears a red shirt, sings songs.  They're catchy and fun.  So when I saw that he was performing at Wolf Trap's Theater-in-the-woods, and there was another show - an African storyteller - before him, and the shows were two for the price of one, I decided we had to go.  

It was like 1000 degrees that day, and it's a theater in the woods.  We actually got there early and staked out a seat in the front row. 
 And when he walked out on stage, Elizabeth turned to me and said, hey, I know him from TV!  And insisted I take her picture with him in the background, and then snatched the camera and took 45 other pictures of him performing. 

 And she kept tugging at my arm and asking how we could talk to him, and how we could meet him, and how great he was.  He called a couple of kids on stage with him throughout the show, and then near the end sang a song and invited ALL the kids onto the stage.  Bliss.  There were so many kids I couldn't get a picture of Elizabeth up there.

And then they announced he'd be signing autographs and selling CDs and meeting fans after. 
 So of course we had to buy a CD. 
He was really great, and said he remembered her from the audience and he saw her in the front row.  He recognizes kids just freak out when they're in front of him, so he asks them to tell him a joke.  (she managed to choke out the interrupting cow, which he countered with the interrupting starfish)

Both Elizabeth and Andrew loved the entire experience.  But Elizabeth REALLY loved it, and turned out to develop an intense love of the song she sang on stage.  The song is called Shapes, but it's the chorus that is burned into my brain: line line circle circle square square square square triangle triangle. 

Elizabeth loves to listen to the CD on the CD player in the dining room.  We'll listen all the way to the shapes song, then she plays the shapes song over.  And over. And over. And over. And over.  And over. And over.  Until one of us snaps and makes her move on, which usually results in an argument.

We saw the show about a week and a half before we went on vacation and rented a small (very small -  like the smallest possible house ever) beach house with our long-time friends Chris and Tricia and family.  So they also were subjected.  I can't remember exactly what happened, but at some point late in the vacation we saw a band perform. I'm going to have to get Rich or Chris or Tricia to remind me of what exactly happened or what the band was, cause I am drawing a blank and can't even imagine when in the world we would have seen a band - Oh, got it, last day, Blueberry festival (where the blueberries are trucked in from NJ), also 1000 degrees outside and some poor Irish band (? Chincoteague is a weird place) playing under a tent, and the group of us sweating to death under a tree sucking on rapidly melting snocones.  Anyway, Chris leans over and says in his deadpan dry way, huh, I wonder if they know line line circle circle.  So yeah,  the CD made quite an impression.

But the songs are clever, and catchy, and he is a super nice guy.  As with anything with kids (or at least E and A) there's a cycle in interests and this week we've been listening to the CD a lot.  A knows all the words now and sings along enthusiastically, and E's desperate love of line line circle circle has lessened to a tolerable level. 

I saw he's performing at Jammin Java in February, so we might go.  $15 a ticket gets steep, but it would be worth it.

And Theater-in-the-woods?  We had a good time.  Steve was great, and so was the storyteller.  If they have the deal of two shows for the price of one (and that one is priced at $8), I'd totally go again.  Though, there were some stressful things.  We staked out this good seat in the front row, right?  But it was 1000 degrees and so not like we had anything on us except a snack bag and my bag.  Thankfully E did not have to go to the bathroom, because saving our seats would have stressed me out.  As it was, A was STARVING, and they only allow you to drink water in the actual "theater" part - step onto the path leading to the theater and you can eat whatever.  So I had to take A 20 feet onto the path, keep my eye on E who was tasked with saving our seats, and urge A to choke down his cheesestick as quickly as possible.  Stressful.   Also, let's just be honest, sitting in an amphitheater for two hours sweating is not entirely my idea of a great time.  There was a lot of downtime between the shows, and they didn't start on time.  But for the cost, it was great, and now we've got a little budding groupie on our hands.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

not quite over Halloween

Years ago, Elizabeth got a set of Charlie Brown books, covering all the famous TV holiday specials.  Lately we've been reading the Halloween book, and tonight the set was scattered across her bed.

Andrew picked up the book, and flipped it over to look at the cover, and gasped.
"Look!" he said accusingly.  "At Snoopy and the bird.  They are dressed like witches!"

I'm not sure italics quite captures the scorn and disapproval in his voice.  Maybe it's time for a little lesson on pilgrims and Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


My friend KG has made an appearance or two over at AwwwClutter, but I don't think I've ever written about her on AwwwTrouble.

The funny thing about me and KG is that we are both into social media, but in totally different fora - I blog and facebook, and she twitters follow her at KGDC1 and yelps and foodspots and blogs at GirlMeetsFood and I don't even know what all else.  This means we miss out on too much of each other's lives (though she keeps me up to date by emailing me some of her good stuff).  I half-heartedly encourage her to join facebook, knowing it would never be her thing.  She is working me hard on twitter, though, and has almost got me.  I just need some spare time to set it up.  

In October, she and I hightailed it out of town for one of our rare all-day outlet trips.  And she insisted that we eat a real lunch, at a real restaurant - and I am so glad she did.  

Here's her review on Yelp of our fabulous lunch at Vintage 50.   I don't know how, but I have got to get to that restaurant again.  Rich would love it, and they did have an appealing kids menu.  So another outlet trip must be in my near future.  

And months ago she sent me a link to one of her twitter friends who also blogs (yes, another tab I have had opened within my browser for months that I can close!).  Together, they came up with a Dirty Dozen Ways to Assimilate to DC.  Not sure I can add anything to that list.  

KG also told me that her mom is volunteering at the Botanic Gardens at Christmas, so maybe we can see a friendly face this year when we go.    

I should get her to do a guest post sometime.  Oh, I know exactly when.  KG is a native of DC, lived here her whole life except for college at Miami.  And, she has never had a soft shelled crab.  Never.  I am agog at this news.  So I've promised her the next time my parents are in town during soft shell season, she is getting one with them.  Absolutely.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What to do next?

Fall semester activities are drawing to a close, and we need to plan for winter/spring.  This stuff makes me crazy.  They both want to do extra activities, so we have to balance the right activities among two kids, sorting out dates, figuring out what their friends are going to do, and what is affordable and reasonable from a time perspective. 

Should we do gymnastics this winter?  On the plus side, there are classes for E and A at the same time, and we think they'd both really enjoy it.  On the other hand, the class is a drive away, in another neighborhood entirely, so none of their friends would be in class, and we probably wouldn't continue much beyond one or two classes, so is it really worth it? 

We didn't do dance for E in the fall in favor of soccer, which was maybe a bit of a mistake.  Can we join dance (which switched to a year-round calendar rather than semesters) in January?  But if we do that, how do we fit in gymastics? 

And they really do need swimming lessons - two friends of E's take swimming at a local place, but the class is Wednesday afternoons at the same time as A's soccer, which we'll definitely do in the spring again.  There's an expensive swim class on Sunday afternoons we could join in the early spring with classes for both E and A at the same time, but it's pricey and do we want to drive across the city ever Sunday afternoon at 5 pm?  There's a rec center swim class that's super cheap, but we've found with the rec centers you get what you pay for. 

E's new school, as a start up, doesn't have a music program and she is definitely musical.  At 6, should we start her on music lessons?  Piano?  We think so, but when will we fit that in, and what will she practice on?  Can we buy a piano?  Where the hell would it go?  (I have A Plan, Rich is skeptical.)

So does that mean she'll be doing religion school, plus dance, plus swimming, plus piano?  That is too much.  Maybe we skip dance, but add piano? Hold on piano til next fall, when she's 7, and add dance back in? 

And what about t-ball?  Realistically, t-ball will only happen if Rich and I decide to coach.  E is only kinda into t-ball, but A could play next year.  Should we be a part of building a team now so that A can play next year? 

A right now is easy - he'll keep his music class, and start up spring soccer, and we'll squeeze in swim lessons at some point.  But it's clear that A's skill set is firmly in the sports section.  If this continues, we're looking at years of soccer and t-ball and any other sport we can squeeze in, while meanwhile he also is interested in music, too.  In addition to the three years separating the two, which puts them in very different age categories for most activities, right now it also looks like they're going to want to do entirely different activities. 

Bottom line, this is the stuff that makes my head ache. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall walks

One of our friends, and Elizabeth's soccer coach, recently celebrated a birthday and his twin 6 year old sons wouldn't let it pass without a party.  So we all gathered in the park and went on a fall walk. 
Elizabeth started the afternoon less than thrilled.  

 But things picked up once the walk began. 
 And bugs were spotted. 
 And weird growths on trees were found.

 And walking sticks (and hitting sticks) were discovered. 

 The road is closed to cars on weekends, so it wasn't quite a walk IN the woods, but it was a safe and easy walk for kids.
 Not to mention beautiful. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

last bit of halloween cuteness

Can't resist getting one last post out of Halloween.  E and A during trick or treating at the office. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Unlike last year, we had a fairly tame Halloween.  I don't know whether to feel relieved or rejected, but in retrospect it was nice not to be so booked up.

So just a few images.  Rich's (and now my) office does a trick or treat for kids, so that kicked off our festivities.  E and A really look forward to this, as there's a lot of attention focused on them and some high quality candy.  We go them dressed in Rich's office and he let E draw on a corner of his whiteboard.  (it says I had a gift, plus she labeled herself "me"). 
 The company has three buildings and we're based in the hinterlands.  I got a little work in while RIch took them to the main building, where there was a DJ and more games. 
 E wearing Daddy's infamous horns he bought many years ago at some festival. 
 I  thought hse was just going to want to be a princess again, but in the month before Halloween she expressed some different ideas.  I popped in the thrift store by my house in mid-September and scored this mermaid outfit as well as Andrew's horse costume.  You've got to buy Halloween stuff early to get the best costumes.  While last year her dress reminded me of a wedding dress, with the fluffing and the arranging, this year we moved into the evening gown portion.  There were times when I actually felt this outfit might be a little too slinky. 
 And the gang - E and A with their neighborhood friends.  Pink princesses dad was telling me about how she insisted on makeup, as did E.  We agreed that there was an age when makeup on little girls was not a good idea, but at 6 it was still cute. 

And by the end of the evening, the old Elvis mask made an appearance. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

What Happens at Home on Mom's Night Out

Rich here.  Been a while.  Anyone missed me?  :D

Ever wonder what happens on Mom's Night Out?  Everyone probably gets the scoop from their spouses when they get home.  Or not, depending on whether the Dad's want to actually reveal that they fed the kids too much sugar and sent them to bed an hour later than they are supposed to.  That is not what happened here, but in the NaBloPoMo spirit, I thought I would make a contribution that is timely.

6:45 PM  I walk A home from picking up dinner (Chinese from around the corner).  I mention that Mommy is going out tonight.  A's response:  "Awww.  I'm going to miss her."  I say he should tell that to Mommy before she leaves.

7:15 PM  Mommy leaves.  Kids have eaten really well and behaved so they get dessert.  E gets her two pieces of Halloween candy out of her pumpkin before I can even say that is what she should do.  A mysteriously selects a cheese & crackers snack - the ones with the little red plastic stick.  Odd boy.

7:40 PM  Kids have built a fort in the living room out of pillows while I cleaned up after dinner.  I used to love doing that as a kid with my brother & sister.  They make ghost sounds with E saying "Go Back!!!!"  Which is imprinted on a fake rock that we have as a decoration, so can only assume she read it.  I take a picture and go upstairs to get pajamas since I am treating them to a movie in the living room.

7:42 PM  I'm downstairs.  E says "Andrew is poopy!  Ewww it's stinky!"  A is wearing underpants.  I am thrilled.  Consider texting Susan to share in my plight but I'm a grown man and can handle without disturbing her evening.

7:45 PM  A repeatedly stating "It's easy peasy" referring to how easy it will be to clean up.  I am not as optimistic.  Biggie wiggie messy wessy.

8:00 PM  A gets cleaned up and bathed and insists that he still has to poop.  Sit him on toilet on kids seat.  E decides she needs to read him some stories to help him focus, but, after about 10 mins, to no avail.  At some point during the bath, A states "I went to the Tenleytown library today." "You did?" I ask quizzically.  "Yes, on the bus."  "Oh. With [babysitter's name]?" "Yes"  "And her friend?"  "Yes"  "And [A's little friend that lives up that way]?"  "No."  "Oh, with whom?" "With [another friend's name that I do not know]"  "Oh.  Ok. Was it fun?"  "Yes".  I decide that I need better knowledge regarding these children with whom my son is fraternizing.

8:10 PM  We're settled in the living room.  Popcorn is popped and movie is on.  For next 1 hr 10 mins, we blissfully watch "The Aristocats."  Cute movie.  A methodically shoving popcorn into his mouth.  Both E and A doing a good job of sharing.  I ask E if our cat, Harrison, can do any of the tricks the cats can do in the movie.  "Daddy, it's only pretend!"

9:20 PM  20 mins later than bedtime, but did not want Poop-gate to affect the movie-watching time.  I walk A into the kitchen to get drink of water (salty popcorn).  He sees a shadow on our floor in the shape of something odd.  He exclaims, "What the *heck* is that?!"  Nice to know my son listens to me.

9:30 PM  Teeth brushed.  E exclaiming she's not tired.  Typical night for her.  A comments that he is a sleepy boy and is ready for bed, which he goes into happily.  E draws a picture involving several coffee mugs.  I know not why and did not want to discuss.  She states that she wants our dog, Skipper to sleep with her.  This is usually a bad idea.  Dog not quite housetrained and has a few "favorite spots" on E's floor.

10:00 PM  I relent on dog issue and take dog out for very brief walk in front of house.  Dog does her thing and I give her to E.  E puts her in bed with her and falls asleep within 10 mins.

10:15 PM  Both kids asleep.  I do load of laundry (poop clothes!), pour myself a beer (New Belgium Trippel - yum!) and watch a little ESPN Friday Night Football.  Ahhhh.

10:45 PM  Susan comes home with a lovely gift of butter chicken which I taste and I give her the rundown you have just read.

That's it!  Uneventful in the grand scheme of things.  But never a dull moment.

- Rich

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What is the name of his horse, take 2

Take 2 - second try with the video.  Can you see it?  And decipher what he is saying? 

I actually spent a few minutes at work looking at the wikipedia page on Backyardigan episodes.  What did we do before wikipedia?  Anyway, they've variously called horses Old Paint, and there was an episode with a horse called Toronado, but it seems to be a dead end. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What is the name of his horse?

For once, I actually captured something timely on video, and Blogger is semi-cooperating and letting me post it.  Blogger hates me and my videos.  It took a LONG time to upload this stupid 37 second video to blogger, and then for some reason it showed up twice.  And I watched both versions, and decided not to delete one or the other to max my chances, and yet today, it's gone.  AUGH.  I can see them in the editing view, so I have NO idea of why this isn't working, but will try agin tonight.  Dammit.  It is cute.  

I have no idea why his horse is named Randin Road.  Radin Road.  Something road (the troad in this video has never been heard before, I think he was kidding with me.).  Initially, this summer, for a brief period all horses were named this, but he's settled on this horse with this name.  I kinda feel like he might have picked it up from The Backyardigans, and feel like I need to watch all the horse episodes to figure it out, and while I love me some Backyardigans, I've not mustered the energy, and that might be a wild goose chase anyway.  Any other guesses out there?  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

another November

Well, another November brings another NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month.  30 days, 30 posts.  At least that's the goal.  Like 2009, I start NaBloPoMo with a nasty cough.  Fingers crossed that unlike 2009, this is just a passing cough and won't last all month long.  I'll start strong tomorrow with the Halloween recaps, and I have some good videos if BLogger will cooperate, and there's always catching up from the summer, and this year my blogging friends have devised some helpful prompts, and I've also missed the last two books from the book club.  So no shortage of posting intentions.  But tonight, the Nyquil is about to kick in, and I'm double dosing with Delsym, and triple dosing with hot water, lemon and honey, so hoping to start fresh tomorrow morning.  Happy NaBloPoMo reading!

Monday, October 24, 2011


On your Mart!
Et Set!


on the tree top....


meeny meeny meeny moe
catch a pie-a atta go

I pick - YOU!


Lightning The Queen

(we saw Cars and Cars2 this summer, but sadly, this one has just changed to the correct Lightning McQueen)


And, finally, why are all horses (that is his horses: stuffed animals, or pretend horses) named Radin Road?  Or is it Randin Row?  Rowdin Row?  Rambling Road?

We've been through every possible interpretation of what he says with him, but he just gets frustrated and repeats RADIN ROE!  Or whatever it is he says.  Must get this one recorded before it too is gone.....

Monday, September 26, 2011

Now We Are Six

When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three
I was hardly me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six,
I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

- A.A. Milne

Happy 6th birthday to our determined, feisty, clever, funny, beautiful, stubborn, confident, opinionated, lovely best girl. 

Six is great.  And we can't wait for Seven, and Eight, and Nine, and Ten........

guilty pleasure - old movies

One of my quirks is that I like to have some sort of noise on around me - a radio, the TV, something.  I'm a person who walks into a room and immediately turns on the TV, whether I actually want to watch something or not.  It's a bad habit, one I try to moderate, especially now with kids.  Before we got satellite TV I could listen, as background, to the weather channel for hours (before satellite because the satellite doesn't pick up the local weather on the 8s, which is really annoying).  Before Headline News changed I could listen to that 30 minutes cycle over and over.  In the car I often veg out to WTOP, though not NPR (surprisingly as a member of the liberal (pseudo-)intellectual environmentalist elite NPR really kind of annoys me).  It's really just the background noise that I like, and I strongly prefer it be live rather than a DVD or a music CD or an Ipod.  Even now, at work with my yawning, snorting, chewing office mate I listen to a live radio stream rather than my large Itunes collection.

One of the things I most like is TCM - Turner Classic Movies.  My love of old movies comes from my mom.  I so remember the first time I saw Gaslight, an Ingrid Berman classic, with her.  She always has loved sharing old movies with me (my brother was never much interested in old black and whites).  Back in the day when Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz were once a year specials on broadcast TV they were must watch nights in our house.  And I distinctly recall watching, as a family, The Sting, and how my parents watched my brother and me, not the movie, as the ending was revealed - and how open-mouthed with surprise both Michael and I were. 

Elizabeth has discovered me a couple of times this summer - after she's come in from a playdate or when I'm cooking dinner - with an old movie on from TCM, and it's tickled me to no end to watch her get engrossed in some light, frothy 50s or 60s movie, often a musical.  She likes Judy Garland and has seen parts of an Elvis movie or two (or three or four) and a couple of other summer time beach blanket fare.  Generally color movies, generally musicals, and she's been captivated.  I think they make her feel grown up to watch, and like my mom before me I get a kick out of her enjoying something that I really enjoy. 

TCM in the summer time (in August?) does a special they call something like the summer of stars or a month of stars - in a 24 hour period, showing 12+ classic movies featuring a particular actor.  When I think of it (which is not often), I'll check it out and see who is featured and if there are any movies I want to catch, or any that might be suitable for Elizabeth to watch part.  When Elizabeth Taylor died, I had to check out TCM because I knew they had to do a movie marathon, and I've not seen as many of her movies as I'd like (Suddenly, Last Summer -?  Go watch that movie Right NOW - one of the best movie entrances of all time, by one of my favs, Katharine Hepburn).  Of course there was no time to watch, and no space on our DVR, but I did manage to catch part of Cleopatra, which I'd never seen before.

Holy smokes!  Is that movie crazy!  I actually only saw the Queen's entrance into Rome, but it was so over the top I had to record just that bit and show it to Rich and Elizabeth (and Andrew, who didn't care).  Definitely one to put on my must watch list - a couple of years in the future. 

All I can say is, I cannot wait for Elizabeth to be old enough to watch My Fair Lady together! 

In Cleopatra: A Life, Stacy Schiff digs into the history books to share with us who the true Cleopatra was. As a member of From Left to Write book club, I received a copy of this book for review. You can read other members posts inspired by Cleopatra: A Life on book club day, September 27th at From Left to Write.  Given the past couple of weeks, I sadly have not even cracked the spine of the book, but I am soooo looking forward to it (I haven't even touched on my Egyptology fascination thanks to Elizabeth Peters). So this is not quite the post I wanted to write, but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do, right?   

hell week

I"ve long had last week circled in my calendar.  Hell week.  Every fall activity beginning, plus a birthday and a handful of other activities means we're all exhausted today.  But it was fun.

So here's our fall schedule, along with the extras from last week:

Monday- Elizabeth soccer practice
Tuesday - School Of Religion for Elizabeth, and the first week was a family mass followed by potluck.  But not potluck dinner.  As exhausting as that would have been, at least we'd have gotten fed.  No, it was potluck snacks at 5 pm.  This week it's the opening ceremony for SOR.  For the love of god (literally), can we just get this thing going?
Wednesday - morning, Andrew's music class, afternoon, Andrew's soccer class

Then, last week Thursday was parent association meeting in the morning at Elizabeth's school, and of course Elizabeth's birthday (post to come!).  Friday was the co-op sale that my friend TSM runs (post to come on AwwwClutter!).  Saturday is usually Elizabeth's soccer game, but it was mercifully cancelled because of wet fields, so we had more time to prep for our supposedly easy neighborhood happy hour / birthday party.  Saturday night Elizabeth hosted her first ever sleepover, as a special birthday treat, with a her friend who lives down the street.  The girls stayed up til midnight and woke up at 7 am.

Sunday the neighborhood was shut down because of the Latino festival that takes place one block from our house, and brings something insane like 30,000 people to our little neighborhood, shutting down all streets around us.

Oh, and let's not forget another parent snagged Rich one morning at school and asked if we could bring snacks for the week, then sent us a page-long rules of snacks (no artificial colors! no Nuts! no dairy!) that sent us off to two different stores and boiling 24 eggs and lugging three giant bags of snacks into school last week.

And then let's talk about our plague.  Of fleas.  Which meant a previously unscheduled, 2-hour, expensive trip to the vet during the week, and a full day Sunday of flea control measures.  Frontline, you ineffectual crap product, I hate you and your expensive price tag with a passion!  There was simply no time to go 100% on flea control before Sunday - when Rich did 7 loads of laundry (none of them clothes!) and bathed both pets and I read up on fleas and combed both pets and swept and swept and swept.  The only good news is we have a new product for Skipper and an entirely different new product for Harrison so maybe, just maybe, after an entire summer of battling fleas (I cannot believe I am admitting our flea problem, but let me just make it clear we have been AGGRESSIVELY battling fleas since mid-July, and none of measures worked because our main line of defense - Frontline - only managed to DO NOTHING, but we have been combing and bathing and washing and flea bombing and doing everything we are supposed to do to no avail) maybe we will finally turn the corner and gain mastery over them.  Or, it will finally get cold and no longer so humid and the cycle will end for the year.  One or the other.

So that's why we all struggled out of bed this morning bleary-eyed.  To start it all over again this week with the soccer and the religion and the soccer and so on.  But we made it through, a more regular schedule starts this week, and the humidity is finally scheduled to break, so maybe fall has really begun now.

Monday, September 19, 2011

If it's fall it must be soccer

Elizabeth started taking a soccer clinic when she was 4.  It met once a week, and basically it was just a series of fun drills.  This year, now that she’s going to be 6, she’s ready for soccer league. Soccer leagues apparently have their own little code language and traveling teams and blah blah blah that I am only just beginning to be frightened of learning.  But whatever, bottom line she’s on a team coached by a friend of ours, they practice at the park right by our house, and it’s all friendly and low key, oh, except that we are scheduled to the max every.single.Saturday.morning.through.November.  Yeah, that little thing of adjusting your whole life around your kid’s activities.  Welcome to the next 16 years of our lives. 

Which reminds me, one of my child-free friends asked me a question about some activity one evening and I replied, can’t, school night.  Which caused her to bust a gut laughing and she said, oh, I haven’t thought of schools nights in years.  Yeah.  Haha.  Me either. 

Anyway, now we’re on an actual team, with uniforms, and cleats, and shin guards, and games.  Wow.  They don’t keep score, there’s no out of bounds, and they play 4x4, with no goalie. 

Here’s the team. 

And here’s the first game, with Daddy/Andrew cheering from the sidelines.  The first 5 minutes of the game were definitely a highlight – it was a whirling dervish of kids and the ball, utter chaos at a fast pace until they burnt the excess energy and settled in to a level of moderate chaos. 

Elizabeth had a nice dribbling run at one point, but overall was not a fan of games.  “But there’s only 1 ball!  And we all have to chase it!” That, plus a mid September cold spell which made the tip of her nose numb left her not loving soccer, though she is a huge fan of the cleats.  But, she still likes soccer, and is looking forward to practice tonight. 

And then there’s Andrew.  Poor little guy has ben carted along to Elizabeth’s activities since he was a newborn, and has in general been a trooper, though a fairly disappointed trooper when forced to remain on the sidelines.  Even though the clinic starts at age 3, I knew I had to get him into it this fall.  Because, as we all know, Andrew is a ball guy.  Anything and everything to do with sports thrills him to no end.  He wants to play. 

Once Elizabeth started school and her activities kicked in, he’s been asking every day when his soccer class and music class starts.  Not yet, little guy, but soon – next week, we’d reply, leaving him a little bit crushed.  So I woke him up in the morning by whispering, guess what today is?  Soccer day!  Which caused him to leap up.  He desperately wanted to wear his soccer outfit all day, but the shirt is white, and his nanny told him he needed to wear another shirt and change into his soccer shirt before practice.  This did not go over well, and he sulked for a bit. 

Rich and I both took off work for his first soccer practice, and as I drove he and Elizabeth to practice, he made up a song about how excited he was to be going to soccer.  At the field, the other kids milled around their parents, but Andrew was ready and kicked the ball back and forth to me to warm up.  And once it started?  Well, he paid rapt attention to Coach Pablo. 

Every question that was asked Andrew raised his hand and/or shouted out the answer (except the first question was, who went to school today and he looked around as every other kid raised their hand, poor little guy).  Every time they moved around or changed activities, Andrew moved his way around the pack of kids to position himself right next to Coach Pablo.  He gamely attempted every activity, though he was one of the smallest in the class.  The only time he age really showed was when the coach would “trick” them (asking them to run to the blue spot, when they were already on the blue spot, for example).  He’d take off along with a handful of other kids, and have to be called back.  He was just so eager to DO, and that’s just clearly a development thing, a lack of true comprehension skills at age 2.75.  It is always hard to remember he’s not even 3 yet.  There is not much holding this guy back. 

And how did Elizabeth enjoy being carted along to Andrew’s activity?  Well, two of her friends and soccer teammates have a younger sister in Andrew’s class, so the three of them amused themselves by ripping a dead branch out of a tree and marching it around.  You know, safe self-directed activities like that!  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Semi-Wordless Wednesday: Dress Up

Some days it's princess dress up day
 And other days it's deep sea explorer.  Hence the flashlight (it's dark down there), arm floaties, and helmet.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My son is a marketing genius

Telling an old story here, but I've got a lot of old ground to cover, so, remember when we (Elizabeth, Andrew and I) went camping with my parents in their RV?  We had a lot of fun, and Andrew coined a new term that lives on in the family.

I brought a long a bunch of stuff they like, including some food and drinks.  One morning, I started to get Andrew some orange juice.  Now, since he was quite small he's never really liked cow's milk, strongly preferring OJ in the morning, so (pediatrician-approved) we buy the calcium-fortified OJ and don't worry about milk (too much).  And as you all know, I come from a long line of bargain shoppers, though I do have quality standards.  Bottom line, I buy whatever name brand OJ is on sale, and don't pay much attention to it.

And so I pulled out the OJ I brought along:

Which resulted in screeches from Andrew.  No, I don't want that juice, I want straw juice!

Hmm.  Straw juice.  What the heck?  So, like any mommy, I tried to find out what was making my 2.5 year old screech.  What do you mean straw juice?  What is straw juice?

Which just made him screech louder.

So, in the midst of the screeching, I started wondering, maybe he had seen me pack the cooler.  I had put in two small, frozen juice boxes, and those juice boxes were tucked away into the RV's freezer.  Maybe he wanted a juice box?  But it was breakfast time and I was not going to give him a frozen juice box, because a) it was frozen and b) we don't drink juice boxes at breakfast.  But, the juice boxes were in the freezer, and he wasn't around when I packed and unpacked the cooler, so why does he want a juice box?  And why is he calling a juice box straw juice, though they do all come with those little plastic straws that peel off and get lost everyplace and...well, let's jut say the screeching continued as I pondered all this.

So, I tried reasoning with the 2.5 year old toddler.  Andrew.  We don't have straw juice.  We have orange juice.  Let me pour you your orange juice and let's all just calm down.

I'm sure you can imagine how well that worked.  And remember there are 5 people in a 30 foot RV while a 2.5 year old is screeching about straw juice.

Exasperated, I flung open the RV's fridge door and said, Andrew. Look. There is no straw juice!

Whereupon he launched himself across the RV and with a shout of glee, grabbed:

 Oh.  Tropicana.  With the logo of an orange with a straw.  Straw juice.  OK, gotcha.

And since that time, we only buy straw juice.

Which would be the end of the story, but I needed a pic of Tropicana, and a little googling led me to discover that my 2.5 year old has more marketing sense than the execs who run the Pepsi-Cola Corporation.  You see, in 2008, Tropicana (a subsidiary of Pepsi) went through an entire re-branding effort, which resulted in complete redesign, at what must have been enormous cost, of their entire product line.  Straw in orange out, bland expanse of orange juice in wine goblet in.  The redesign was such a failure and resulted in so many complaints, that in 2009, they went back to the tried and true.

Orange in straw.  Straw juice.  So simple even a 2.5 year old understands the power of a brand.  Stick with what works.