Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A New Game!

Anyone willing to play, "Write a funny caption"?
I'll tell you tomorrow what's going on in this picture!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our Two Snowmen

November 21, 2010. Sandy, Utah:
December 21, 2010. Dallas, TX:
Hope that wherever you are, and whatever your weather, you're welcoming winter with a smile!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Elf on the Floor

For our family, this is the first year that the children really understand the Santa aspect of Christmas. Blue has known for a while that he's a guy in a red suit, but the idea of a naughty and nice list and not beating up your sister equaling presents is just sinking in.

To help the "elves are spying for Santa" story along, we've made a big deal about rustling bushes in the backyard, and have even had a couple of elfin visits. Our first elf visitors took away the letters to Santa that we left in our stockings and replaced them with candy canes and books. This morning, we had another reminder that the elves are watching.

Sometime during the night, small, pointy footprints appeared on our windowsill and floor, and little packages of candy were placed in our shoes. When Red went to put on his work shoes this morning (poor guy, he's the only one not on vacation this week), he couldn't find one, and everyone was very shocked to find it in front of the fire place.


Here's Pink admiring what a midnight frenzy and some washable markers can do:



I think Blue might have been onto me, but once he saw his beloved York peppermint patties, he forgot to delve deeper into the mystery of the footprints:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Feature Presentation: Christmas Letter 2010

"My Mama always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get.'"

The constant search for unique Christmas letter themes ended with this series of famous movie quotes. What can we say, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a %$&*!"

Pink turned 2 in January of this year, and has developed a bit of an attitude. A pint sized cutie with a Texas-sized attitude. She likes to speak in complete sentences, annoy her brother, and dress up with accessories. We love her spunk, we’re not so in love with her ignoring us when we ask her to do something.

"Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

We’re still adjusting to life in Texas – this year we had a run in with the local pests. While planting a garden this spring, Red was bitten on the hand by some fire ants. Normally, this would lead to a couple of uncomfortable, itchy welts that go away in a few days. Unfortunately for Red, these fire ants hadn’t brushed their teeth, so the bites got infected, and he had to go to the emergency room for intravenous antibiotics. We were also fortunate to have Oma and Opa visit for Easter – they were smart enough to get out of town before the 110 degree weather hit in August, although Oma’s visit in September was still mighty toasty. For a change of pace, we took the kids to Utah for Thanksgiving and got snowed on – over and over again. They got their wish to go sledding and build a snowman, but after the excitement of owning snow boots wore off, they were done with the cold weather.

"Go ahead, make my day"

Blue had a friend birthday party this year, and what a day it was! Blue turned 5, and had a marvelous time dressing everyone up as a pirate and eating pirate ship birthday cake. Green had a great time planning the party, and can’t wait to have another birthday. As an added bonus, Blue’s great-grandparents were able to be here for the party, and did their part to make the event a success.

"What we've got here...is failure to communicate."

Green attempted to spiff up our communication by attending the BlogHer Conference in New York City this summer with Vermilion. The conference was a whole lot of fun, but whether this blog is actually better because of it is debatable. Green also keeps busy with her church calling in Primary, and loves working with the kids and watching them learn and grow.

"Houston, we have a problem."

Well, not so much of a problem, but certainly a frequent visitor. Red continues to work with the Department of Justice, and spends a good deal of his time traveling back and forth to Houston. He is grateful for the opportunity to work in a field, and at a job, he enjoys.

"I feel the need—the need for speed!"

For the first time in 10 years, Red bought a new car. His Volvo, dubbed “Meatball” by the kids, is providing much commuting enjoyment. In other speedy news, Green has been experiencing the true suburban mom commute – running Blue to preschool five days a week and Pink to various activities and classes.

"Have fun storming the castle!"

We introduced Pink and Blue to Cinderella’s castle this spring at Disneyworld, and all had the time of our lives. The kids had a great time on the rides and meeting characters, and the parents enjoyed themselves too!

"There's no crying in baseball!"

There is, however, crying in soccer. Blue played summer and fall soccer this year, and after the first game, where about 80% of the time was spent crying, he finished the year really enjoying himself. Pink has started taking ballet and tap class, and although her dancing skills are pretty minimal, she loves having a big girl activity to go to every week. Red continues to improve his golf game every chance he gets. Green has started taking piano lessons, and feels like she is making good progress.

"I'll be back."

Wishing you all the best for a joyous Christmas Season, and wonderful 2011.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Please share your best EASY recipe!

Friends who love to cook! Friends who hate to cook! I need your help. A friend of mine is trying to give a wonderful gift to her very deserving sister. Here is her story:
_______________________________

My sister has a goal to have 10 dinners she can pull off. I want to help her with this as a Christmas gift.

It is more difficult than it sounds. Her family was T-boned in a car accident in the 90's and she has had terrible back pain ever since. It has gotten progressively worse. So when she prepares dinners she can't stand there chopping or stirring. Even opening can's and jars is a problem. Her husband is a great guy, but is a busy Dr and the bishop of their struggling ward. He would like her to invite the missionaries to dinner and others but she is overwhelmed by the idea. So here is where you come in.

Everyone has one or two throw together meals don't they? I hope that you do! Would you share yours with me? Money is not an issue. I tried a list of 10 I thought of and when I got to more than 3 or 4 ingredients she almost cried. (And most of those were spices or soup mixes-no chopping involved.) She can pick up any prepared or pre-chopped or frozen items needed. The only caveat being that she can't lift anything heavy-as in she can't lift a gallon of milk. Her husband thinks he has not had dinner if meat has not been served. She told me one of her current recipes is to put a pot roast in the crock pot with some water and then cook it all day.
__________________________________

Do you have any recipes that might work? Please leave them in a comment or email them to me!
Thanks so much!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dallas Building Falling Down, Falling Down, Falling Down

We had a once in a lifetime chance on Saturday to see the building next to Red's office demolished by implosion. We dragged the kids out of bed at 6:30, and after a picnic breakfast in a conference room, settled into some comfortable seats to see the show. We were not disappointed!


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween

Tonight we had our neighborhood Halloween party and trick or treating. The kids were beyond excited, especially about the bounce house and trackless train. As worn out as they were from all that bouncing and riding, we still did some neighborhood candy begging. They had a great time!

A few words about Blue's costume. A while ago he insisted that he wanted to be the UPS guy for Halloween. I dismissed it, thinking he would opt for Superman or a toy story character instead, but the UPS guy thing stuck. Finally, in a skype conversation with Vermillion, who had asked about a few things that I have been really excited about lately, and my
answer was always "amazon.com", Red put it together for me - the reason Blue wanted to be the UPS guy is because of my love of amazon, and that his grandparents and great-grandparents live far away. The UPS guy is kind of like Santa Claus around here - constantly delivering really good stuff. Guess I'd want to be the guy bringing the presents, too!

Proving that with the right motivation (party + candy), they can, in fact, hold still for a picture and act like they like each other.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Boo!

As a preview for the coming candy-begging, we had our church Halloween party tonight. Blue insisted that he wanted to be "the UPS guy", so we managed a costume; and not surprisingly, Pink decided to be a princess...wearing pink.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Motley Crew

Blue turned 5 this week, and celebrated this evening with a Pirate-themed party. We were lucky enough to have his great-grandparents in town to work as slave labor join in the fun.

Here's Blue with his pirate gear on:
Great-grandpa acted as the tattoo artist. As an added bonus, he impressed the preschool crowd with his WWII era coast guard tattoos.
What's a pirate party without weaponry? Red acted as the swordsmith, and impressed the preschool-parent crowd with his balloon artistry. He also does poodles, but they didn't seem appropriate.
Pink was grateful to join in the fun. Green was grateful that she took a nap before the party so that she wasn't a cranky mess.
Wondering how we managed to have a party at our house but still take pictures? Here's Blue's girlfriend Pretzel - her mom took all the pictures in this blog post.
The requested Pirate ship cake. With a major shout-out to my friend Mauve who showed up late last night to save me from my frosting nightmare.
Nothing quiets a room full of kids down like a great-grandma with a story book. The perfect transition from outside games to sitting still for pizza.
Happy Birthday Blue! Here's to another swashbucklin' year.

Monday, October 18, 2010

No more radio silence.

About a year ago, I chronicled my adventures repairing the power mirror on my car that somehow failed to survive being rammed into the side of our garage. Basically, I fixed it myself with a little help from a website, a fedex shipment, and a whole lot of luck - and for about half the price that the dealership quoted me.

Last week, I lost power in my car to the radio and clock. How does that happen? Well, if a 2-yr-old inserts a penny into the cigarette lighter, that may cause a bit of a short (which I actually felt when I removed the penny). Sadly, this has happened before, and the dealership was happy to fix it for about $100. Because I'm trying to laugh about the things my kids do rather then let them drive me to psychotropic drugs, I posted the shorted-out-the-radio blurb on facebook. And I got some very nice comments, including one from my friend Patrick.

A little about Patrick - he's a fix-anything kind of guy, who also is a great teacher. In grad school, he used to encourage me to rebuild my own cell-media pump after I would flood it, even though we both knew it would be faster and easier if he just did it for me. Like I said, he's a good teacher. So Patrick comments on my facebook status that the problem with my car is probably just a fuse.

That was last week, and I was busy, so the car never made it to the dealership. Today, during Pink's nap, I taught Blue how to wash a car, and while I was at it, showed him some of the engine. With the hood open, I saw the fuse box, and thought about my non-functioning radio, but all the fuses were fine. I grabbed my owner's manual anyway, and discovered that my car has another fuse box, tucked way, way, under the steering wheel. Like, only visible to a skinny 4-yr-old who can squeeze himself in between the gas pedal and brake. He found it, though, and I replaced (with the spare fuse included in the box) the blown fuse.
Thanks, Patrick, for fixing my car from 2000 miles away.

And thanks, Blue, for helping me save the $100 and the hours in the dealership waiting room.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Complete blogging failure

Somewhere in my mind, I think of this blog as a place to chronicle the really important things that happen in our lives - things like grandparents coming to visit, friends stopping by, important events that happen to those we love. And in that part of my mind, these things should be chronicled by photo, yet somehow, even though there are two phones in this house that take pictures, a point and shoot camera, and a digital SLR, we've managed to not take a single picture of:

Oma coming to visit. She was here for more than a week, played with the kids, ventured to six flags, cooked, cleaned, swam at the pool, and did I post a single picture? Nope.

The Periwinkles (yeah, everyone gets a color here), who are some of our favorite people from the Washington, DC years; whose son was born within weeks of Blue, and whose daughter is the same age as Pink; and whose company we love to keep - not a single photo. Nada. The kids playing, the adults catching up.... we got nothing.

Or maybe the Chartreuses? Since they came over hours after getting the baby they are adopting, stayed for a few days while we all (including our over-eager kids) watched this tiny little person in amazement, and let us share the precious early bonding time with their son. Did anyone whip out a digital imaging device? Not so much.

This week we've got the great-grandparents coming, Blue's birthday - and his first friend birthday party in years, and our annual church primary program. Even if I don't blog about any of it, could someone please remind me to take a picture of something? Please? Before my kids grow up and my mind grows old, and I can't remember any of it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

When did she get this grown up?

Pink had her face painted at a recent birthday party (in shades of pink, no less), and I just go this picture from the birthday mom. I can't believe how grown up my baby girl looks.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

We're Just a Little Backwoodsy

An unusual series of events happened this weekend - First, the weather cooled down from "melt your face off" to "downright pleasant". Also, we realized we were, yet again, going to miss our church camp-out this month, which would surely break Blue's heart. Thirdly, Red had to spend some time working on Saturday, which is usually his play with the kids day. Additionally, earlier in the week I managed to douse our yard in twice the recommended amount of fire ant poison (yes, I doubled it on purpose). And finally, it was General Conference for our church, which meant that we wouldn't be seen by anyone on Sunday and could watch church on TV in our pajamas.

With all of that adding up, we decided it was the perfect weekend for a camp-out....in the backyard. This is really the best possible scenario for me us. The kids get to sleep outside, but we still get to maintain our minimum hygiene standards.

Red and the kids worked hard to set up the tent:
I tried "living on the edge" and didn't use my stove top grill attachment:
Red, proving what a good sport he is, but also hiding from the mosquitoes:
Everyone piled into the tent, or, "proving we can contain our excitement for 10 seconds for a picture" - it was difficult:
Pink trying out her new "big girl" sleeping bag:
Blue, with his favorite Lightning McQueen bag:
Much to my surprise, everyone (including me) lasted through the night in the tent. There was some crying, but probably more out of confusion at being dressed in triple layer pajamas by your mother than actual sadness (hey, the temps were in the low 50's).

This really turned out about as perfectly as we could have hoped - Red had time to work while the kids and I hunted down supplies during the day, we didn't get bitten by too many bugs, the adults were not stressed by our usual Saturday-night-leading-up-to-Sunday-responsibilities scramble, and sleeping in the same tent with Dad more than made up for not having him every minute during the day.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lunch is on me

Congratulations, Tristan! Lunch is in the mail.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Free Lunch?

A result of the blogging conference I attended a few weeks back was getting to know some of the companies involved in sponsoring the conference. It turns out that women make a lot of the household buying decisions in America, and these companies saw a great chance to sell some stuff to the 2000+ women gathered in New York for a couple of days.

I happened to speak with the folks who make the Healthy Choice line of foods, and talked a little about their new "Cafe Steamers" frozen meals. They talked about their focus on preservative-free, fiber and protein rich foods. This sounded like a great idea to me. When I heard words like "vegetables big enough to see" and "easy preparation," I was in. Why? Because lunch is a challenge for me. I'm home with two small kids, and I don't do hot dogs, chicken nuggets, or mac'n cheese. I just don't. I do, however, rush through lunch so that I can get them fed before Pink's afternoon nap (that saves all our sanity). I usually manage something the kids enjoy and meets my minimum standards for healthy eating. I don't usually manage this for myself.
Chicken Pad Thai
Healthy Choice offered me a few samples to try to improve my lunches. I tried a couple of the Cafe Steamers, and had to share with Pink, who insisted that the Pad Thai was just her liking. Red tried the General Tso's Spicy Chicken, and was favorably impressed (which is saying a lot from a guy who generally refuses anything that comes out of a box or can). I loved the steaming baskets that let me decide how much of the sauce I wanted to add to my lunches. Super!

Do you have lunch challenges? Want to give these a try? Thanks to the folks at Healthy Choice, I get to give away lunch! I'll pick a winner at random at midnight on Thursday - just leave me a comment with the best or worst lunch you've ever eaten!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Tutu Tote

I may be taking the girly-ness of my favorite toddler just a little too far, but I decided that she needed a special bag to carry her ballet and tap shoes to class. And it couldn't be just any bag, it had to be cute; no, CUTE.

And what doesn't say "cute" like a tote bag wearing a tutu - with a daisy and enough ribbon to strangle a Labrador?

The best part - I had the tulle, the tote bag was on clearance, and I had a coupon for the ribbon. Final cost for my cuteness overload: less than $4.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Meatball and Spaghetti

About a year ago, Red started shopping for a new car. The first car he noticed on the highway that looked interesting was a Volvo. Fast forward 11 months and many, many test drives. Red was in the Volvo dealership, trying to convince them to give him the car he liked for free. Well, not quite free, but for a price that was pretty laughable. They laughed, we left. A few emails back and forth, but they were still snickering. Until yesterday - the dreaded "last day of the month" - and the last of what CNN is reporting was a horrible car sales month. They stopped laughing, and Red bought the car.

We have a tradition of naming cars in our house, and we struggled with this one. We wanted something that paid tribute to the Swedishness of the car. Sven? Bjorn? Ikea? No, food lovers - the car's name is Meatball.

We celebrated by going out for spaghetti.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Big Man on Campus

I offered the spell-your-name with pancakes breakfast this morning, and was rejected...apparently, Dad's omelets are better than my pancakes. I offered to walk him to class, and was rejected...but eventually he had to let me when he realized it was a rule that the parents walk the kids to class on the first day. I offered a goodbye hug, and was rejected...he was already too busy learning the ropes.

At least he let me take a first day of school picture!

Pink can't help but be part of the action. She spent all morning asking if she could go to preschool too. I told her to wait until next year, and then took her grocery shopping (hooray, one kid at the grocery store!) and to story time. I think she enjoyed the one-on-one time with mom, but she clearly missed her big brother.
The first day went well, Blue came out of school smiling and happy, with a backpack full of preschool homework (which roughly translates to mother/son craft projects with a theme), and an assignment to get a bigger backpack (the one he had didn't fit a full-sized folder appropriately). We did some of the homework today, and we have more for tomorrow. We did manage to score a 50% off backpack at Target this afternoon, and it has lots of extra space for a hot glue gun - just in case we need it for all those craft projects...maybe father does know best.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

There's a Sucker Born Every Minute

Why am I removing a hot glue gun from Blue's backpack? Because tomorrow is the first day of school and his father thinks he's funny. Yes, the enviable "first day of Pre-K".

To Blue, it's a big deal - preschool every day, more responsibilities, new shoes...

Apparently to his parents, not so much. When putting Blue to bed today, I thought we should check on his wardrobe choices for tomorrow. Good thing I did, or he would be making his Pre-K debut in hand-me-down seersucker shorts (which he loves, but probably aren't the nicest thing in his closet). After starting the laundry, it occurred to me to assemble his backpack, which doesn't really need to have much in it - other than a change of clothes, which, as I mentioned, are currently being laundered. Red, ever the helpful one, decides to help pack the backpack - by inserting a hot glue gun.

Me: "What are you doing?"
Red: "This will be the first time a preschool teacher looks in a backpack and says, 'what the $#%^@?"
Me, laughing uncontrollably: "Please don't help anymore"

It's 11:30pm. Our day starts in about 6 hours. Am I sleeping? Nope, blogging. Someone help us all.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dadurday and Momday

The day between Friday and Sunday is known as "Dadurday" around here. It's the day that dad stays home all day and plays with the kids - that's what they tell us, at least. We had a good Dadurday this week, filled with the usual dad-kid activities.

Yesterday, Red and I were comparing schedules for the week, and realized that he would be leaving Monday morning at 6am, and not be returning until 10pm. Additionally, I was planning to have 5 extra kids in the house, some for several hours. We decided that Monday should be renamed "Momday". And any good renaming should have a theme song:

MOMday MOMday, so good to me,
MOMday MOMday, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh MOMday morning, MOMday morning couldn't guarantee
That MOMday evening you would still be here with me.

MOMday MOMday, can't trust that day,
MOMday MOMday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh MOMday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be
Oh MOMday MOMday, how could you leave and not take me.

Every other day, every other day,
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever MOMday comes, but whenever MOMday comes
You can find me cryin' all of the time

Honestly, now that it's over, MOMday wasn't really that bad. Lots of kids, lots of fun, very few problems...except for the completely trashed kitchen that I will now go remedy.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What's for dinner?

Overheard on the drive to soccer this morning:

Red (looking at a sign for a new restaurant): "Best Thai" - hm, that's a little presumptuous, don't you think?

Green: How do you know? Maybe "Best" is their last name.

Red: Yeah, sure - the famous Best family of Thailand. Maybe later we could try out "Shapiro Thai".

Green: Or "Rogers Vietnamese" - you never know.

Mostly, I just feel sorry for our children. How are they ever going to be useful adults if this is the kind of conversations they hear every day?

Happy Lefthanders Day!

Our little Pink is a southpaw, a leftie, a witch (seriously? who could have believed that?) - at least, so far. I hear this can change up until she is about 5 or 6 years old.

She seems to have been sinistral (what a horrible name) from birth, always turning her head to left when she slept, and sucking her left thumb. As she has grown, she uses her left hand to color, use a fork, and punch her brother. She may be a true leftie - using her left hand also to hold a tennis racket and swing a golf club.

We are delving into the world of the left handed, searching for child-safe, left-handed scissors, and realizing that most things, including spiral bound notebooks and wristwatches are made for the right-handed.

Until a few days ago, I didn't realize there was a Left-Handed Holiday; yet, here it is, August 13th. Funny with the whole sinister/13 reference. We celebrated today by coloring left handed and punching our brother.

Happy Lefthanders Day to all those out there trying to use a mouse the opposite way, or just to those that love them.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mr. Potato Head Giveaway - and a really great blog.

I'm still in BlogHer recovery mode, so it might be a while before I post anything coherent, but I wanted to point you to a great contest - my BlogHer roommate, Vermilion, is running a contest for some of the blog swag; specifically the very awesome ToyStory 3 Mr. Potato Head. I would give you mine, but he barely made it out of my suitcase before he was claimed by Blue and taken to his room.

Check out the contest, and the rest of Mundane Magic (including awesome posts on kids and technology) right here:

http://mundanemagic.com/

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Live from NY, it's BlogHer '10

I'm in NYC for the weekend attending BlogHer'10, and am loving it. In addition to the blogging conference, which doesn't make for very good pictures, Vermilion and I have been taking advantage of the city that never sleeps. I love being in a place where you can really start your evening out after all the conference sessions end at 7pm, and not feel strange about it.
Oh yeah, I ♥ NY

My mothership It wouldn't be NYC without some celebrity sightings...blogging celebrities, that is - like Pioneer Woman. One of my favorite painters - we stayed until the museum closed, when the security guards started muttering about the "free friday filth". Ha!
When Red and I lived here, we always saw the view of the skyline from the top of the world trade center because 1) it was the tallest building and 2) (and probably, most importantly, because we're cheap) we got a discount because Red worked in the building. Last night, I saw the view from the top of Rockefeller Center. Still impressive. As we headed back to the hotel around 11:30pm, we saw two enormous lines of people on the street. Figuring they had to be gathered for something fabulous, we took a closer look. To our amazement, we had managed to run into The Halal Guys, serving fabulous food from a truck for $6. Topped off with a cupcake from The Magnolia Bakery, the perfect midnight dinner.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

List of Accomplishments (well, only if I finish them)

I'm leaving for the BlogHer Conference in a couple of days, and inspired by my friend Lolli (who I hope to spend some time with while there), I'm posting my to-do list. I'm hoping the accountability of writing this out will help me finish.

Things I need to finish:

1. Clean out my car - heaven forbid something happen to me and someone else has to deal will all those cracker crumbs.

2. Laundry - it's not enough to decide what to wear; it actually has to be clean, too.

3. Re-evaluate the shoe situation - I can't possibly need this many pairs of shoes for 3 days.

4. Toenails - enough said.

5. Find and pack chargers - why does every electronic device require a different charger? Can't we all just get along here?

6. Clear off my desk space - this stuff is completely out of control and buried in here somewhere are all the bills - who wants to come home to this?

7. Think about what to do in my time off - it's New York City, and I want to make the most of every minute!

8. Stop worrying about leaving so much - before the kids were born, I traveled for work all the time, so I know what to expect when I leave Red on his own (a weird number of Taco Bell meals and him staying up way too late, as well as strange organizational frenzies that might leave my closet bare), but I've never left Red and the kids alone for more than about 3 or 4 hours. Crazy, huh? Never, not a girls' weekend, not a long shopping trip, nothing. I am sure they can handle it, but 4 days with no mom - anything could happen here.


Things I have already managed to do:

1. Fill the house with kid-friendly, low-cooking foods - so what if they live on cereal bars and fruit snacks for a few days...and I included Oreos, not because the kids like them, but because Red loves them, and experience shows that a happy parent leads to happy children (at least, that's how it works with me).

2. Restore some order to the kids' rooms - and do enough laundry that they should at least have something to wear every day until I get back.

3. Resist the urge to make an hour-by-hour comprehensive list of activities for those 4 days - they really will be okay without an exacting timetable of soccer practice/swimming lesson/meal schedules, right? RIGHT????

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Dark Side of Saturday

What do a power outage, the hottest day of the year, 2 locksmiths, and an accordion player have in common?

Normally, not a whole lot, but today, through an unusual sequence of events, they were all part of our Saturday.

We started the day innocently enough - Red speed mowed the lawn while the kids and I ran to the donut store for breakfast so that we could make it to Blue's soccer game on time and in full sugar high. After soccer, we took advantage of a generous agreement we have with our neighbors - we take care of their fish and collect the mail, and they let us use their pool while they are out of town. Since we were only planning to be in the pool for 30 minutes, and we only walk across our back alley to get there, we didn't put on sunscreen, didn't take an extra swim diaper, and decided to just go out the garage, and thus, not take any keys with us.

While in the pool, we notice that the power has gone out in the neighborhood. We didn't think anything of this, and finished our swim. Back at the garage, we plugged the code into the garage door opener (knowing full well that it is new and had a battery backup for power outages), and nothing happened (so much for the battery). We ran into a neighbor who told us the power was supposed to be back on in about an hour, so we figured we'd just swim a little longer. An hour later, no power, and a chat with the now-onsite crew says that we'll be out for a while. A frantic knocking on some doors to find someone, anyone home, leads us to a person with a cell phone willing to call a locksmith. We wait, and we wait. The kids are hot, tired, and hungry. The adults are too. We wait some more. Finally, 2 locksmiths show up. On the bright side, it turns out that our house is incredibly difficult to break into. On the less than bright side, we've been outside now for about 4 hours when they finally get into the house.

To soothe our fried nerves and fried bodies, we decide that since we can't cook and have no A/C, we'll have dinner at our favorite German deli - because, really, what doesn't say, "wow, we've had a crazy day" like ending it with sauerkraut. To Pink's extreme amusement, there was live music in the restaurant - lucky us, the accordion player knew all the notes to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

(sorry this guy is sideways, I didn't realize I wasn't supposed to turn the phone that direction - it's been a long day)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Nice Buns

A "guest post" from Red:

The morning conversation went like this. I started by asking Green for a smaller than usual breakfast.

"I've been travelling and that is never good for my waistline."

Green consoled me with a "don't worry, a few days of reasonable eating and you'll be fine."

Off to work I go. Sitting at my desk - minding my own business - and a paralegal asks "Red, have you had a Tootsie's cinnamon roll?" I indicate that I haven't and she insists it is a must try. We walk a short distance to a nondescript cafe and I order a cinnamon roll and wait.

From the rack the attendant pulls the above "Texas sized" loaf of bread being peddled as a cinnamon roll. After a few minutes of warming in what looks like a pizza oven, she drenches drizzles it with glaze using - pause for effect - A PITCHER.

I snapped the above photo and sent it to Green with the tag line "so much for reasonable." Aside from the hallucinogenic sugar high throughout the day, it was quite good. I saved a portion to share the love with Green, Pink, and Blue when I got home.

Here's hoping I can practice better self-control this weekend. If not, I will be the fat guy in Tootsie's screaming at the attendant to "JUST GIVE ME THE PITCHER AND NOBODY GETS HURT."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

HOT!

This is the imagine associated with the weather forecast for our area for the next 5 days. It's not "sunny" or "partly cloudy". It's just called "hot", and is accompanied by a triple digit high. Good thing we're stocked up on popsicles!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Group Nap

Business travel is a way of life in our household, as it is in many. For Red (and thus for all of us), it's not a question of 'if', but only 'when'. Since it's summer, and the three of us who depend on Red have a much more open schedule than usual, we've been able to drive him to the airport and pick him up a few times recently. The kids love it because they get to spend a few extra minutes with dad, Red loves it because he gets to see them a little longer and not deal with parking, and I love it because everyone else is happier (secretly, the kids are always hoping for a treat, which Red knows and always delivers, although he has been unable to top the candy rocks that came home a few trips ago).

When we picked Red up tonight, he looked pretty beat. Traveling through Texas in a suit probably wears on a person almost as much as sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, rushing to make flights, driving a rental car, and actually working do. Anyway, we dragged him on a couple more errands before we finally got him home (don't judge me, I let him take the suit off) tonight, and after a few minutes, this is what I found:

Guess they're all happy to be together again after a long day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rainbow


I freely admit that this is not a great picture, but rainbows are rare enough here that the kids and I ran outside to see this one, and marveled at it's beauty. Blue mentioned that he had seen a rainbow in Hawaii (thank you, thank you for remembering that - and not the harrowing plane ride there and back).


I like the science of rainbows (and light in general). I like that the rainbow that I see is not the same one that anyone else sees, because it is an optical phenomenon based on the position of the observer (but can be captured by camera). I like that Pink stood on the table outside in her Snow White dress and refused to come in because she was so enthralled.


My two cents worth (probably not even that):


The ROY G BIV thing is bogus. Newton ascribed 7 colors because the number 7 was considered holy in his time. I'm not the only one to say that "Indigo" is not only difficult to see, but doesn't make any sense in terms of the primary and secondary color theory of today. The spectrum is actually continuous, so all colors are there, but if we're going to divide the rainbow into bands, let's be reasonable.


We saw a Supernumerary Rainbow tonight, which is not only rare, but is also impossible to describe with classical geometric optics. The supernumerary rainbow helped demonstrate the wave nature of light - and that's a whole lot more fun than particles alone.


And a little from Wikipedia:


A rainbow does not actually exist at a particular location in the sky. Its apparent position depends on the observer's location and the position of the Sun. All raindrops refract and reflect the sunlight in the same way, but only the light from some raindrops reaches the observer's eye. This light is what constitutes the rainbow for that observer. The position of a rainbow in the sky is always in the opposite direction of the Sun with respect to the observer, and the interior is always slightly brighter than the exterior. The bow is centred on the shadow of the observer's head, or more exactly at the antisolar point (which is below the horizon during the daytime), appearing at an angle of 40–42° to the line between the observer's head and its shadow. As a result, if the Sun is higher than 42°, then the rainbow is below the horizon and usually cannot be seen as there are not usually sufficient raindrops between the horizon (that is: eye height) and the ground, to contribute.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Baggage.

What do the laptop tote I just finished making and Red's latest homework assignment have in common?

Check out his assignment here .

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reach Out and Nuke Someone

I think I was born as an experimenter. I love to try stuff and see if it works, whether it's a new food technique or a genuine lab experiment. One of my favorite parts of my old job was having a chance to try new things that no one had ever done before. I also love to try household experimental stuff, and the quick and easy experiments are always the best.

When I came across "How to Check A Microwave for Leaks" in my WikiHow feed the other day, I just couldn't wait to try it. The experiment is actually pretty simple, but I needed Red's help, so I had to wait all day before I could do it. Essentially, microwave radiation is on a very similar electromagnetic frequency as cell phone radiation, you can check a microwave for radiation leaks by putting your cell phone inside, closing the door, NOT TURNING ON THE MICROWAVE, and calling the phone. If it rings, the microwave is not properly insulated against leaks. Simple enough.

When Red came home from work, and we had the kids in bed, I told him I was going to put my phone in the microwave and that he should call it. Once I told him I wasn't going to turn it on, he wiped the "you have lost your mind" look off his face and replaced it with his "you're just as crazy as always" eyeroll, and we were in business.

Experiment ended when we didn't hear the phone ring, the voicemail picked up, and there was no record of a missed call. Guess we're safe from those electromagnetic waves after all. Of course, there's no real evidence that low levels of microwave radiation are dangerous, but whatever.

As an added bonus, I now know that I can throw my phone in the microwave if I don't want to hear it ring (yes, I know I could just turn the ring tone off, or the phone off completely, but that's way too easy).

Anybody out there just put their phone in the microwave?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Turn Off That Noise, Mom; We Want Real Music.

A few weeks ago at the library, Pink discovered the CD section, and asked to check one out. I agreed, and she picked out Sleeping Beauty and Princess Birthday (that Disney marketing machine is something else - she's only 2, can't read, and yet managed to get double dose of Disney). We listened to "Happy Birthday Princess" every time we were in the car, and by the next trip to the library, Blue was begging for his turn at the CD collection. Since the Disney equivalent of princesses for boys is pirates, he figured he could score some great swashbuckling tunes. After a pretty intense search, he determined there were no pirate CD's, but he had managed to find a Vikings CD, pictured below (yeah, he can't read either): Since I didn't see any harm in it, we got the Viking CD, turned it on in the car and were happily on our way. After a week or so of this, the kids had gotten pretty used to the songs.

Today when we got in the car, the radio was tuned to a station I listen to on the way to work out at 5:45am. Imagine Lady Gaga and Usher and the like - it helps wake me up. I wasn't really paying attention as we were driving until about 5 minutes later, when the request comes from Blue in the back seat, "Mom, can you turn on Figaro?" And Pink chimes in with, "That's my favorite!" Shhhh, nobody tell them it's not cool.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wash, Rinse, Repeat...

If you happen to mention to me that you are thinking about buying a new dishwasher, you might as well grab a chair and get comfortable, because I LOVE my dishwasher, and will happily tell you about it for hours on end. If you happen to come to my house for dinner, and help clear the table afterward (which I appreciate, thank you very much), I will do everything I can to discourage you from rinsing, and try to talk you into loading those plates and platters directly into the machine. Why do I do this? Because this thing gets everything clean. The dishes go in scary and come out sparkly.

Is it that Bosch builds an awesome dishwasher? Maybe. It certainly is quiet.

Is it that the dishwasher tabs I use have the extra built in powerball? Probably not.

The massive amounts of jet dry? Nah.

The precise chemical composition of Texas municipal water? I don't think so.

I think the reason I believe that my dishwasher is such a marvel of cleaning technology has nothing to do with the dishwasher itself,

and

everything

to

do

with

the

pre-treatment:





Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tiny Bubbles

In an effort to save time after swimming lessons today, I asked Blue to take a quick bath in the master bathtub instead of walking up the stairs to his bathroom. Why, exactly, I thought this would save time is beyond me. Sure, I saved walking up the stairs, but instead I got suckered into turning on the jets, adding bubbles, and by this time, Pink realized what was going on, and was frantically trying to figure out how to undress herself.

Oh well, parenting is about happy little moments, not a strictly kept meal and naptime schedule, right?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mixed Signals

A few years ago, when we lived in New York, we got very comfortable with driving in New Jersey, and making many left turns via a right turn jug handle. This isn't a very difficult driving concept once you've done it a few times, and everyone pretty much gets the hang of it. But when I saw that an intersection that I drive through fairly frequently was slated for the (no joke) "first ever in Texas left turn jug handle," I started to panic. Jug handles are okay if everyone knows what they are doing, and what to expect. To put a solitary one in on a busy intersection where no one is likely to have had experience with this type of traffic pattern seems like a bad decision to me. Even worse, this intersection is just south of one of the 10 most dangerous intersections in America (I think it's #6). I think the traffic planners here are insane. I've thought that from the moment we moved here, and had to start figuring out how to navigate this: That is the Dallas North Tollway. It runs north AND south. Seems pretty simple, but try explaining to someone that they should take the north tollway south. I used to get lost a lot. Now I have GPS - and a map.

Of course, we also had to get used to the unusual orientation of the traffic lights. See that left turn signal with 5 lights? One red, one yellow arrow, one green arrow, one solid yellow, and one solid green. Some signals around here add even one more, with a double red. No wonder I'm always lost, I'm too busy trying to figure out if I can turn left or not. If this weren't enough to keep me inside, we are also very close to the Interstate 35 twins: I-35E and I-35W, which wouldn't be confusing at all, except that they both run north/south.

Some days, I decide it's easier to just walk.

Monday, July 19, 2010

How Can Summer Be Half Over?

Pink's Rec Center ballet class ended on Saturday with the performance of 'The Teddy Bear Dance,' and we all clapped and cheered like she had mastered Swan Lake. I had a great time with this - maybe because I like doing her hair, maybe because she loves being such a girly girl, or maybe because I am entertained that she stayed in class all by herself for the second week in a row with the promise of a treat from the vending machines (crazy chick - who picks ranch potato chips over chocolate?) and I find myself regretting all those times I didn't understand why parents bribe their children.

Since it's all over until I can find a more permanent studio for her, here are the pics:

"Sassy Ballerina"
"Princess Arms"
The only two little girls who made it through the whole class:
Doing her best to follow along. My favorite part of this is that she's concentrating so hard, she's sticking out her tongue. And the farmer tan. Not exactly elegant.
For us, we are also marking the half-way point of summer. From here on, it's a countdown to the school year. The time has already passed much too quickly - I had so many big plans for us, and now I've just realized that Blue has not a single pair of long pants, so I guess I'll be scrapping a few plans in favor of school shopping.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLL.....

Black Soccer Shorts to match everyone else on the team: $6
PeeWee Ultimate Shin Guards: $10
Telling stories of his first soccer game where he cried through 80% of it: Priceless.

Blue played his first soccer game on Saturday. As might be expected with a 3 and 4 year old league, there were lots of tears, very few rules, and lots of adults encouraging kids to "just try your best, you'll get a turn to kick the ball."

Most of the tears were soothed by the post-game snack with friends, and the report from Blue himself was that he had a great time and even scored a goal (really? I remember multiple requests to go home - and he did score 2 goals - one for us, and one for the other team). Good thing this is so informal. By league rules, no one is allowed to mention a score, the parents are allowed to trot along on the field, and the "official" tries to make sure each kid gets a chance to kick the ball.

With all of the anguish, why is he putting himself through this, you might ask. Well, her nickname is Pretzel, and we happen to think she's pretty cute. As an added bonus, she also plays tennis in his same clinic.

And the best part of all of this? I have to shop for a new whistle this week; Red (who knows nothing of soccer, and didn't watch one minute of the world cup) had been recruited as assistant coach. He sure must love that little boy.