Saturday, September 25, 2010

If You Give a Boy a Party… Tribute to a 4-Year-Old’s Favorite Stories

If you give a boy a party….

And tell him he can invite some friends…

He will likely pick a few who are “just his age…”

They might even bring a sibling and meet you at a place

Where you’ll watch them spend more time picking out what they will paint than painting

And it will remind them that they are hungry

So, good thing you brought some Chik-fil-A nuggets and fruit

Which will make them thirsty, so you’ll pass around some lemonade in big green cups

And that will remind you that you brought a big white cake with a big Buzz Lightyear planted ontop.

This will mean everyone will sing.

And then they’ll open presents.

Which will remind the boy that he’s having a party and he might ask you to have another party tomorrow.

Would you like to see how this boy celebrated 3? How about 2? And I know you want to see him at 1? How about the day he was born?

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Bad Ones Are Best

I take a lot of photos. I'm not sure if I take more than most people. But I weed through about 25 new pictures a night. (Remember I actually filled up my 2GB memory card halfway through my week long vacation.)

But I have to say, it's the really bad pictures and the ones no one is posing for that I like the best. It is often then that I see the most emotion, the most genuine family moments, and the typical expressions that I see on faces all day every day. They make me a bit melancholy, I wish I could just move that arm out of the way, or sharpen the focus after the fact. It would be perfect if he hadn't shut his eyes, or if I had picked a quicker shutter speed. And don't even get me started on the things I wish I could do in photoshop to my own face.

Here are a few of the bad ones, to prove my point.

Oh see, plainly a very happy moment. Oooops.

The concentration, classic Mason. Someone move that arm!

Whoa! Two sweet brothers at play, listening to each other, and planning an adventure in the sandbox. This could be a great picture if I didn't cut off their hands where they are just reaching out to each other.

Do I really even have to explain myself on this one?How many pictures do you take in a week anyway?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Lesson Learned from Body Art

Here's the thing about growing up. It's usually not the awesome, confidence-building, encouraging experiences that do your growing up for you. It's the knock you down, turn you down, humiliate and publicly embarrass you situations that do your growing up for you.

And sadly, even your mom can't guard you from these rough spots.

I recently found the boys barricaded in one of their rooms writing on themselves. Interestingly enough Mason only had a circle around his left eye and a few scars drawn on his arm. Cooper was covered (see photo).

Because my children have been known to go just about anywhere in a costume, I thought nothing of loading them up as is. We went out -- I believe it was a Costco, library, swimming lessons run. Anyway, the point being we were out in public.

Lots, and I mean lots of people stopped and talked to my boys. Not uncommon. You know the drill.

--Oh aren't you cute. You must be an artist.
--Love your tats dude.
--Are you a pirate? Those are some serious war wounds.

All said in that overtly sarcastic voice that actually makes the statement less than sarcastic.

Anyway, by errand no. 3, Cooper was begging me to go home. In conversation that went round and round and was quickly escalating into frustration he finally confessed with severe sheepishness, "I don't want anyone else to see me."

He was embarrassed. He finally understood the social contract of Don't Write on Yourself or Others Will Make Fun -- lame social contract if you ask me. This of course is a lesson he never could have learned from me. I couldn't have explained this away to him. And sadly, Mason didn't learn the same lesson that day.

The only consolation is he learned it at Costco (or Target or DSW, I really can't remember) and not on the playground at recess. That, I predict, will be the scene of other growing up.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Slightly Awkward

Here's a conversation I never thought I'd have.

Me: You know, Coop, you don't want A* to think you're stalking her.

Coop: What?

Me: Did you hear me? Or do you mean to say, "What is stalking?"

Coop: What is stalking?

Me: Well, you know how when you went to A's house and she wasn't home so you decided to wait on her front step until she got home?

Coop: Yes, I really wanted to see her.

Me: That's stalking. And it's kinda ... strange.

Coop: What?

Me: Did you hear me? Or do you mean to say, "Why is it strange?"

Coop: Why is it strange?

Me: Well, even though she is your friend, people don't like to feel like you are watching every move they make.

Coop: Ooooohhhhhhh. I get it.

Lord help me, I hope he does get it. Photographed here, through a technique known as stalking with a big lens. Te he heheh.

*Name changed to protect a little girl who looks an awful lot like Gretchen from Project Runway.

Monday, September 13, 2010


There is a beautiful disappointment that accompanies the end of summer. When the shadows start to stretch across the street so much earlier and in a much softer way you know the end is near. It's really hard not to hate the beauty in it.

I can't say that I love the signals of a new season, a colder season, a season that could quite possibly bring snow in less than a month. It's always a possibility and it makes me sick. I don't like cold.

Shoveling the walks? Loathe. Dressing kids in mittens and scarves and coats and boots? No likie. And constant runny noses -- I especially do not like those. This year, the only reason I might welcome a frost is so that I can give up on my flowers and potted vegetables. I'm so over watering those suckers. And I can't think of another tasty way to eat a tomato, I just can't.

But I do love my collection of denim. And I have some pretty awesome boots. So, I guess I'll resign myself to the inevitable. I might even smile about it. But don't hold your breath.

PHOTO NOTE: Showing you just 1 pot this year, because I shudder at the rest. And this one was hidden in the back. No one even saw it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


A Dinner to Consider

I'm no chef. Not even a competent cook. But I'm the person mainly in charge of planning and cooking our meals. So, when I come across something that is:

a) Easy for me to pull together
b) Requires little or no planning
c) Can accommodate multiple substitutions
d) Inexpensive
e) Eaten by all the males in my family

... I pass it along.

Here's a dinner to consider, with the substitutions I had to go with tonight.

Sausage with Shrimp and Pasta Shells, Favorite Recipes The Costco Way
5 links hot or sweet Italian sausage, cut into thirds (I used a big smoked sausage)
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
12-16 ounces raw medium shrimp, deveined (I used mushrooms)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup canned chicken broth (I did not use wine and did use 1 cup of chicken broth)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
1 pound medium past shells, cooked al dente and drained (I used small penne)
4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted ( used a 1/2 cup and I did not toast them)
grated parmesan or romano cheese (I used asiago)

1. In a large heavy-bottom saute pa, cook sausage in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until well browned but still slightly undercooked at the center. Remove sausage and reserve in a warm place.
2. Add garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, until pale gold, taking care not to burn.
3. Add shrimp and salt and pepper to taste. Stir-fry until shrimp turn pink and are almost cooked through, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and add wine and broth.
5. Return the pan to the heat and boil until almost dry and the shrimp are cooked. (I reduced the stock and then sprinkled a scant amount of cornstarch in.)
6. Ad reserved sausage and its juices, basil and cooked pasta.
7. Toss al ingredients together and heat through. season to taste with salt and pepper.
8. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Serve sprinkled with pine nuts and grated cheese to taste. Makes 3-4 servings.

Good luck and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Me, Too

Mason's first day of formal preschool rushed at us like the cool breeze that ushered in September. After months of preparation -- he took collecting school supplies VERY seriously -- he was ready and willing to walk right in, sit right down, and dig in to learning.

I was beginning to agonize because in the weeks leading up to the first day he started to hedge his bets. His first tactic was to tell me he didn't want to leave Ann -- his daycare lady of the past 2 years. Then when he realized I wasn't going for that excuse he started to construct a myriad of cop-outs. My favorite was when he said, "I'll just go to Cooper's school with him."

On the night of his school's ice cream social -- about a week before the start of school -- he acted interested and even participated without force. Until about half way through then he started doubling over and feigning stomach pains. Of course the whole family hightailed it out of there, in fear of the dreaded vomitosis. Once in the car it was clear it was a case of butterflies and perhaps some ill-timed and yet long-overdue gas.

But the morning of was not riddled with worry. In fact, he was brave and bold and enjoyed himself -- a lesson for all of us.
PHOTO NOTE: The black and white photo is from the night of the social, right before he got all stomach-pain-ish on us. The rest are from the first day of school.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Two Trips

Every household should enforce the idea of separate but equal vacations. In our household, known as the pink trip and the blue trip. I had previously believed these were celebrated in much the same way. Namely, I assumed my husband was enjoying days at the spa, time poolside, nice dinner, and a little dancing.
OK, whatev, I didn't really believe that. But recently we took our pink and blue trips one week apart. We both went to Colorado mountain locations. And we were both gone only about 48 hours. And both of us packed an identical camera -- the same in every way except that mine is pink and his is black (I bet you thought I was going to say blue).

I had to compare the pictures. Of those that I can post... the differences in our vacations is evident. Can you spot the dissimilarities?

Friday, September 3, 2010

That's How We Roll

When the neighbor said -- with intent to tease him about his flipflops -- "Mason I like your shoes." Mason said, in all seriousness, "Oh sure, that's how Batman does it."

PS -- Doesn't he look like a kid rather than a baby in this pic? Totally growing up.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I Once Believed

Here's an idea, let's review the incomplete list of myths I once believed.

I believed that when my children started school I would have more time.

I believed that with my children in school and not hanging on my leg/arm/back I would make more effective use of my time.

I believed that with a little more time, and being more effective, I would get my house clean, laundry done, and have hot, healthy cuisine to serve my family at least 2 if not 3 nights a week.

I believed that with my children in school I would not feel guilty about spending more time in the gym. See first belief.

I believed that with my children in school I would be able to throw away toys without them noticing.

I believed that I would finish my to-tackle list.

I believed that with the quiet of the house -- noise followed children to school -- that I would have a chance to think intellectual thoughts and not child-provoked nonsense like, "I wonder if that soybean will fit in Mason's nose?"

I believed that while my children were eating lunch away from me I would have an opportunity to eat something other than chicken nuggets for lunch.

Ummmmm, yeah, that about covers it.

PHOTO NOTE: I'm starting the take-a-picture-of-your-child-on-picture-day-before-they-leave-for-school tradition as I failed to follow through on the take-a-picture-of-your-child-on-the-first-day-of-school tradition. This is installment no. 1 of 15 between now and 2025.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lots of Reading, Writing Not So Much

I have been devouring books lately. A book in hand at all times. Which, of course means, I have done nothing else. I've got a dirty house, piles of laundry, and have all but forgotten about my blog. Basically I'm not good for much but book reviews.

First of all if you live under a rock and haven't heard about the Hunger Games series, let me be the first to say... WONDERFUL. And now is the perfect time to read it because you can get your hands on all three of the books and just read one right after the other. I did not do this. I was one of those that has been waiting for the better part of a year for no. 3 to come out (Mockingjay) and had near panic until I got my hands on that sucker. Looking for something to read? Start there.

Next, if you can stomach reading about violence in the form of a crime novel and liberal use of the f-word, you might be interested in the Stieg Larsson series. I started with the Millennium series back in December 2009 at the recommendation of our library "staff picks" table. I was hooked right then and powered through 590 pages. But I am not kidding about the violence. The original title (in Swedish) means Men Who Hate Women. So, tread carefully and don't say I didn't warn you. I stayed up until well past 1 a.m. last night just so I could find out what happened to Lisbeth Salander on the 630th page. Thank goodness the third book in the series is out, because I have to start that immediately.

But until I can get my hands on that horror, I'm going to let my soul rest with a new author and her debut novel -- Under the Same Moon by Kelli M. Donley. So, stay tuned for that review. I am sure it will be uplifting, that I have the book in my hands is a true triumph. If you want this book, order it on Amazon or wait until I donate it to my local library.

PS -- I've been sewing, and filling up the Etsy shop for the holidays. Get your requests in now. Also, Cutie Petutie Originals has a whole new batch of blankets. Check 'em out.