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


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


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


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,








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


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.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

midnight haiku


Children play all day
Parents watch and play at night
Pain by morning light

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Royal Family

I blame her father for this, or maybe her grandmother, or anyone else that has called her "princess" in the last 2 1/2 years. She insists that we call her Snow White, and this morning, while enjoying her sippy cup of milk stretched out on MY bed, started asking where her "charm prince" was. Maybe it's her brother's fault, for pulling out a pirate shirt and cowboy pants and calling himself the prince. Either way, this certainly can't be my fault. It's not like I helped her put the dress on, did her hair, or painted her toenails...oh wait, yes I did.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ignaz Semmelweis: not the name of a monster - the guy who figured out that handwashing helps stop disease spread.

We started off today with big plans, until Pink came out of her bedroom with a fever, and the entire day was turned upside down. We spent way, way too much time in the family room today reading books and watching Sid the Science Kid (hey, Blue picked it, leave me alone). Sid was talking about the germ theory of disease and how we can help not spread viruses around. Apparently, Pink was paying attention, because she put herself in quarantine.

To her credit, she thought ahead and brought a snack with her.
I had to pat myself on the back a little, because half a day inside gives me horrible cabin fever, even though there are rooms in my house I go into on a less than monthly basis; and cabin fever stifles my ability to patiently deal with requests. "Mom, can I have a drink", "Mom, I need to wear my princess dress", "Mom, bring me a snack" - I handled them all. When I was confronted with, "Mom, I want to turn my room into a monster", I calmly came up with the following for Blue:

Here's hoping that her fever breaks unmedicated tomorrow so we can be back to our regular schedule of nonsense by Friday.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Art imitates life

I had to share this video - I laughed, I cried, I groaned a little, and then I thought, "I have friends who would like this". Hope you like it.

In the end, it's worth it to me, too.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Parenting Pirouette

I hope I'm not one of those crazy mothers - the kind that push their kids so hard to perform at sports/music/dance/whatever that the kids hate their activity and don't feel too kindly toward their mother either. I think I might be, though, since I'm sad that we only have one more rec center ballet class with Pink (who went to class all by herself on Saturday - hooray!). I am so sad that I started looking for a local studio that teaches ballet to 2 year olds - and was a little put out that I haven't been able to find one that focuses on ballet rather than "creative movement". Yeah, I might be a little crazy.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hey, good lookin', whatcha got cookin?

I love that Pink is at the age where she loves to cook - not only in her play kitchen, but with actual ingredients. Blue has lost his love of helping in the kitchen (except when chocolate chips are involved), but Pink is my little helper. She loves to stir and knead and taste ingredients; including baking powder...yuck. I know that this age is going to pass, and she'll be too busy for things like this soon, but hopefully in a few years, she'll be back - maybe with her own recipes and ideas!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Christmas - it's not just for Winter anymore.

When I see Christmas stuff in the stores before Halloween, I twitch a little, but figure, hey, some people like to get an early start with their consumerism. But today is 6 days past the 4th of July, not the middle of October, and this was the scene OUTSIDE my neighborhood Hallmark (outside and through the front store windows, not in some back corner somewhere):

Back by popular demand? Really? Is there an army of screaming grandparents out there trying to finish Timmy's Christmas list before Labor Day?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

When Junk Attacks

My life is not a model of order and efficiency. I like things organized, but I certainly have been known to ignore a pile of clutter in favor of something I would rather do. But this week, the clutter is overwhelming. Over the holiday weekend, we moved some furniture around, and took the enormous catch-all bookcase out of our family room. Unfortunately, the bookcase hasn't found it's way to it's new home yet, so it's contents have been vomited all over the floor for about 5 days now. It's driving me crazy. I don't know what to do with the stuff, or whether I should just wait it out and see if the bookcase does, in fact, find a new home somewhere convenient.

As a commentary on the clutter on the family room floor, Blue built this tower today. He put it together this morning, and it's still in the middle of the floor. The worst part is, I've spent most of the day trying to figure out if there is any real purpose for CD's anymore, or if I should just dispose of these thoughtfully. Maybe they just need to be thinned, because, really, who in this family is going to admit to even buying the Boys II Men or PM Dawn CD's, forget actually breaking one out and listening to it?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy 4th of July.

We had a great holiday!
- swam
- golfed
- shopped
- over-ate
- biked
- got seriously rained on
- enjoyed 4 days with Red
- baked a flag cake
- skipped the fireworks because they terrify our children.
Hope you celebrated your independence!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Great Indoors

I have long claimed that summers in Texas are the winters of more northern climates - not that it is cold here, but rather that this is the season where we huddle indoors around our air conditioner vents and don't go outside in regular clothing expecting to be comfortable. So unlike previous places we have lived, summer is an indoor season. This also means that we have to come up with some indoor activities. Today I pulled out all the stops, and we did two separate goofy activities.

The first is one we forget about for a while and when we remember it again it is that much more fun. We call it "firefly" - which is funny because Blue doesn't remember ever seeing a firefly, and Pink has never seen one. Anyway, this game involves a green laser pointer and a lot of imagination. I shine the laser pointer at the walls, floors, and ceilings, and the kids (and dog) chase it around the house. Yes, I know this type of setup was sold as a cat toy, but it works for kids too. Everyone loves chasing (and occasionally catching) the firefly, and when I've had enough of the dog running full speed into the walls, I shoo the firefly out the door, and hide the laser pointer until the next time.

Our latest indoor game was a scavenger hunt with map. My friend Holly did this with her kids a while ago in the backyard, but I had already been outside once today, so we played indoors. It took a couple of rounds of explanation before Blue understood this, but once he got it, he had a great time. We used my drawn "map" (yes, art is not my strong suit) of the house and hid golf balls. I hid the golf balls the first few times, and then Blue loved it so much, he took the next dozen rounds. I was impressed that he understood not only my sketching, but the idea of map reading. Definitely one to play again on a rainy day (and by "rainy" I mean "blazing sun").