Tagline

GETTING THROUGH LIFE WITH A SWEAR JAR IN ONE HAND AND A DICTIONARY IN THE OTHER

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I'm Thankful For

thanks·giv·ing [thangks-giv-ing]: –noun
1. the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, esp. to god.
2. an expression of thanks, esp. to God.
3. a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.
4. a day set apart for giving thanks to God.
5. (initial capital letter) Thanksgiving Day.


“One act of thanksgiving made when things go wrong is worth a thousand when things go well”
-Anonymous

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! We are grateful for so many things in life, but sometimes it's the little things that can really make life shine. With that in mind, here is Nina's vote for the Best Macy's Parade Moment EVER. No worries, it's age appropriate. And you're welcome.

Just remember: when something burns, and the turkey is half-raw when everything else is ready, and Aunt Gladys spends the entire evening telling you what you've done wrong, and the kids decide to break out their "sentence enhancers" during dessert...you've got so much to be thankful for. For one thing, you're not alone! Also, I highly recommend Rick Rolling Aunt Gladys.

Cheers,
 Nina

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Veterans Day Salute

grat·i·tude [grat-i-tood]:  –noun
the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful: Our gratitude to the members of our armed forces is beyond words.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” 
- Marcus Tullius Cicero

There are few things I admire more in this world than people who are willing to put their life on the line for something greater than themselves. There is no doubt that we all enjoy our freedoms, but few of us ever really stop and think about what keeps those freedoms in place. As George Orwell famously put it, “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” Every man and woman serving in the military today is someone who sat down at some point and said to themselves, "It's not enough for me to simply enjoy these freedoms; I'm going to protect them." Not content to sleep safe in their beds, these are people who volunteered to undergo grueling training, leave the comforts of home and the reassuring presence of friends and family, go into dangerous situations where they KNOW someone will try to kill them, and attempt to bring peace.

Sure, we all want peace. We teach our children not to fight. We gather in communities to have vigils or prayer services or charity drives, and try not to yell too much at other drivers on the road. When there's a disturbance, we call the police (another group of admirable people I'll write about later) to bring peace to the conflict. Each of us contributes in our own way to keeping the peace. Not too many of us have the guts to dodge a sniper's bullet for it.

In the spirit of Veterans Day, there is a small way we can help our servicemen and -women bring peace where it is lacking, and it's one that parents above all can really support: DONATE YOUR HALLOWEEN CANDY.

http://www.opgratitude.com/index.php

Through Operation Gratitude, now through December 3rd you can donate Halloween candy, small stuffed animals, etc, and they will ship those donations to our troops serving overseas. Some of course is kept by soldiers in need of a morale boost. The rest is given by the soldiers to the local children, who sometimes express their gratitude for the sweet treats by pointing out where along the road explosives have been buried. It's amazing how a little gratitude passed from hand to hand can turn into something big! Save a soldier's life; send candy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Take Your Time - I'm Fresh Out


time (tim): n.

1.  indefinite

2.  the entire period of existence of the known universe; finite duration

3. a system of measuring duration


"We are out of time!"



Hrmm... have you ever had one of those mornings?  I did, just a few minutes ago.  We all woke up late.  No one actually wanted to go to school.  No one wanted to get dressed (myself included).  I gulped down a cup of amazing tea and life was better.  Seriously.  I'm pretty sure it's what coffee drinkers experience, but I'm not sure since I have maybe 10 cups of coffee a year.  [diet coke and tea are a whole nother story!]  I kicked into gear, lunches were made, violins grabbed, sweaters donned and out the door to the bus. I'm exhausted and want a cocktail.  IT'S ONLY 9 AM!!!! And I have at least 12 more years of mornings like this.  And.... would I trade those mornings for anything?  Nope.  Not a single one.

I discovered that when I'm driving (the whopping 2 blocks to the bus stop... don't go all green on me, we usually walk, even in rain, but we were REALLY late today.  TIME!!! I was out of it!) the girls tell me the most amazing things.  They tell me all of their fears, hopes, problems, and dreams. Even in the so short 5 minutes that it takes them to get on the bus. [Equally awesome is that the bus driver knows that the girls WILL NOT get on the bus until they have a hug and kiss from me.  Miss Ruth waits. And Miss Ruth will.not.let.Crow.on.the.bus, no matter how hard Crow tries.  Awesomesauce bus driver.]


Today I heard the Christmas wish list, and I silently thanked the gods that my children also included great toys for the local shelter.  I also made sure that they knew Santa has a budget and would love to know that they want to share with those less fortunate.


I also heard that Bank snores too much. [The sisters are are a bit annoyed that she hasn't had to have a sinus surgery yet, so they complain as MUCH as possible about her snoring, which I've recorded and is pretty minor.]

And Grace is mean in the mornings and wakes everyone up.  I discovered that Grace actually gets up an hour before me and pops onto the computer, so after this, I'll contact a computer forensics guy (old friend) and have him search my mac for... I'm not even sure, but I'll have him search.  And I'll have him explain to me very simply how to password protect stuff.  [I only figured out how to password protect my phone after Crow called Portugal's equivalent of 911.  I can now yell into a mobile phone in several languages, "It is not an emergency and I live in America!" I'm fairly certain that someone from the government (here or there) will show up soon. And then they will meet Crow.]


I also learned that I should really clean out my garage so I can put the minivan in there.  I have an awesome garage.  Fits 2 big cars; my father hung all sorts of hooks on the walls so I can hang bikes, scooters, ladders and extension cords.  And he gave me shelving for a birthday gift one year.  He might be one of the most fantastical dads ever! I need the garage space because on mornings like this when I need to drive the 2 blocks to the bus stop, I need clear windows in the minivan.  To get the clear windows this morning, I had to put all of the windows down, and I was cold!

My Garage: ... there are bikes on the floor.  A lone kayak, a row boat (that isn't ours) paddles, scooters galore, jump ropes, tools, a desk(?), boxes of stuff, stuff I'm sending out west (because I'm going to be a grand/great aunt again, and either grand or great totally work for me, feeds my ego...), donation stuff, and just more stuff!  Some of my neighbors have amazing garages.  They are the ones who still have operating garage doors, no 'stuff' on the floor, painted garage walls (seriously, who has time to do that?! And I'm really jealous!), stairs to the storage space ABOVE the garage (again, I'm really jealous, who wouldn't want all that extra space?), floor mats so if anything ever drips they can wash the mat, a system to hang things like kayaks from the ceiling... the list goes on.  And then I look at my lovely neighbors and realize that they have already raised their children and they have TIME to put everything away.  I'm coveting time now.  Forget the garage, I want time.  Or maybe another mother in the house.  Or a second wife.  Not sure how Q would feel about that, but darn, the garage AND the kitchen would be clean at. the. same. time. Who wouldn't want that?!  (Yes, I know laws, morals, etc get in the way, but really!  A clean kitchen and garage with laundry being done at the same time seems pretty out of this world to me.  Like space alien out of this world....)  Yes, I know I digress... bear with me...

Now, we are embarking on the ever stressful holiday season as well.  We start with Halloween.  Then, Thanksgiving sneaks up.  And then we, as mothers start panicking about the winter holidays! (I swear, it doesn't matter which one you celebrate, you freak out anyway!)  Then New Year's.  Right on it's heals as you sigh a breath, it's Valentine's Day!   Time!!! We have no time!


So I propose this to all:  Let's make the time for our kids this year.  


Who cares if our garages aren't as awesome as the folks who live next door?  I'd like to spend the afternoon teaching my girls how to chop vegetables for soup.  And I'd like my girls to go biking (without me freaking out where the bikes hang up at night!).  And I want my girls to enjoy a movie on a school night if their homework is finished early, popcorn included.  I want them to make gingerbread houses for Christmas, light candles, and make home made gifts.  All of that takes time, and, well, aren't they worth it?

Cheers,

Katya

P.S.  Bank just had a birthday and was super excited to get *TWENTY BUCKS* from her aunt.  She's already cashed it in for 2 10's so she can go shop for her school's canned food drive.  (She did tell me she'll *save* the other one for a toy for herself.  I'm pretty proud of her right about now!)

[Note from Mom- If I'd only know $20 would be the awesomesauce gift, I'd have gone with it!]


P.P.S.  Nina would have chocked at my misspellings and grammar on this post before my made up words and spellchek.  I just like messing with her,,,,,  ;) She is my bestest friend ever! [As always, I've fixed everything in the main area and added pics - I leave little notes like this one alone just for you. -N]

Saturday, October 23, 2010

All Right!

all right [awl rahyt]*:
- adverb
1. yes; very well; OK: All right, I'll go with you.
2. (used as an interrogative or interrogative tag) OK?; do you agree?: We'll deal with this problem tomorrow, all right?
3. satisfactorily; acceptably: His work is coming along all right.
4. without fail; certainly: You'll hear about this, all right!

- adjective
5. safe; sound: Are you all right?
6. satisfactory; acceptable: His performance was all right, but I've seen better.
7. (informal) reliable; good: That fellow is all right.

- idiom
8. (a) bit of all right, British. quite satisfactory (used as an understatement): The way he saved that child's life was a bit of all right. 

* Frequently misused as a single word: "alright". Acceptable in informal writing, but not in formal writing.


“Some men are all right in their place--if they only knew the right places!” -Mae West

Everyone has their own individual set of habits and expressions. I like to think of it as a sort of waving flag to indicate which neuroses we adhere to in order to get through any given day. Poets rhapsodize about the way their beloved tucks her hair behind her ear just so. People with really extreme or annoying habits and expressions either get interesting medications or their very own street corner for panhandling. In the normal everyday run of things, however, mostly what happens is that families harp on the other members' habits. We kvetch because we care, folks! Now, I'm not sure what my particularly annoying habits are - though I'm sure my family will be happy to tell you - but His Kiltiness has this one phrase that he throws into every hour of the day like it's a punctuation mark: "All right." [Katya here- he really does this all the time.  Pretty funny, and I would be happy to accept that in a spouse.  Even.when.it.gets funny/annoying. AND *I* don't have to live with it. Go Nina!]

Time to go potty and get out the door? "All right, everybody get shoes on!"
Introducing a totally random conversation topic? "All right. I've been thinking..."
Pointing out something important? "All right, look here."
Sitting down after a long day? "All right...."
Conceding a point? "All right, fine."
Coming into a room and forgetting why he's there? "Alllll right....?"
Introducing a serious discussion? "All right. Let's talk about our Zombie Survival Plan."
Sometimes he'll just stand in one place collecting his thoughts, repeating, "All right. All right. ...All right."

It's like the human equivalent of that little "loading" icon on a computer screen. He seems to use it unconsciously as a way to signal that he has completed a thought. Every.single.time.

Did this happy little phrase come with him when I married him? Honestly, I'm not sure. As anyone who has ever been madly in love will tell you, most of the beginning is a blur, with a mental overlay of Hallmark-esque moments in a happy little montage. Everything the Beloved does then is cute and funny and endearing. Years later, though, when you're one reflexive throat-clearing away from reaching for the bread knife, the thought bobs treacherously to the surface: Exactly how long has this nervous tic been going on?

I remember remarking a few years ago (possibly 6 - time is relative) that I was going to change His Kiltiness' name to "All right". He smiled, started his reply with "All right", and then we both died laughing. Since then, however, it's gone downhill. I've begun associating the phrase with unpleasant conversations (the kind where "we" need to do more work on something for some reason) [So wrong, on so many levels. No fair with the included *we*- Katya], so when the dreaded "All right" gets trotted out, I glare and grumble something about conversations on auto-pilot. The kids have begun treating the phrase as a synonym for, "It's time to stop having fun and go home." Even His Kiltiness winces when he catches himself saying it. Again.

And then it happened.

It was my brother-in-law's birthday, and my mother (Grandmom) was having us all over for dinner to celebrate. She's awesome like that. My children are deeply in love with certain cousins, and the feeling seems to be mutual, but we don't see each other all that often. When we do get together, to the kids involved it is an Event. On this particular occasion, His Kiltiness got drafted to do some overtime. Undeterred, I told him I'd bring a change of clothes for him and to just come directly to the party after work. He said all right (huh). So just as we were all sitting down to a movie after dinner, and Xena and her cousin Goldilocks were breaking out the plastic tea set, His Kiltiness arrived. He changed into his casual clothes like a whirling dervish, stopped just inside the doorway of the play room, and happily sighed, "All right!" Xena's head whipped around like a blue-eyed heat-seeking missile, and she ran over to where her father was standing - and punched him. Right.in.the.crotch. [I seriously can't stop laughing, and I have no clue why I'm hearing about this now instead of right then!!!! Poor His Kiltiness.]

Understandably, there was a moment of confusion and uncertainty regarding Xena's continued existence. Neither of us could figure out why she would greet her father, after a long hard day, with an unprovoked attack on the family jewels. Then, finally, it registered in my brain. I locked eyes with my darling husband, gave him the stinkeye, and asked: "Did you say 'All right'?" The lightbulb clicked on. Daddy sheepishly acknowledged that he may have uttered the fateful phrase. Xena's angry little life was spared. I had a desperate "coughing" [Yup, just like I did over the last few minutes! and no, I won't explain it to the short people in my life!- K] attack. His Kiltiness gave Xena a big hug and told her it wasn't anywhere near time to go home yet. And since then, he really hasn't used his favorite phrase much. I guess that groin shot really drove the point home.

I kind of hope His Kiltiness will start saying it again. Because just like that, it's back to being the funniest thing EVER.

Cheers,
 Nina

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Weight-Sharing

skin·ny [skin-nee]: adjective
1. very lean or thin; emaciated.
2. unusually low or reduced; meager; minimal.

(Sounds kind of derogatory, doesn't it? Hmm.) 

-noun (slang)
3. accurate information; data; facts. 
“I was so skinny, they gave me the nickname stechetto - the stick. I was tall, thin, ugly and dark like an Arab girl. I looked strange. All eyes. No flesh on my bones.” -Sophia Loren

Okay, you know what? We need to declare a truce on the whole skinny-girls-versus-fat-girls thing. Seriously. It's not productive, and leaves every single one of us sobbing neurotically and calling anyone who compliments us a liar. I think we could all do without that, including the men, children, and pets who grace our households and have to stand there helplessly with a box of tissues listening to us wax neurotic about our body image issues.

In the grand scheme of things, I think it's safe to say I fall on the thin side of the weight spectrum. Like, aaalllllll the way down there at the shallow end, where everybody looks vaguely like Olive Oyl. Motherhood does a number on all of us, one way or the other, and I drew the postpartum straw that gave me food allergies and a tendency to lose my appetite when I'm upset. Which happens with increasing frequency, because I somehow think that being thin makes me creepy and funny-looking. Awesome. I dropped two sizes in one year (after I'd cleaned out my closets, of course), and I've resigned myself to being perpetually hungry, usually for something I'm allergic to. I try to eat enough to gain back a few curves, but I might as well be calling for diamonds from the sky, because the weight just will not show up. It sucks. You know how some people who feel trapped by their circumstances dream about flying? I dream about eating Milano cookies. This is a recurring dream. I might as well dream about flying, because for me both are equally impossible. I refused to wear shorts all this past Summer because every pair I tried on made me look like a Halloween skeleton wearing a diaper - not a look I'm going for.

Now let's look at the other side of things. Some moms weigh more than they would like. These are usually women who are totally awesome and otherwise fun to hang out with, if they could get rid of the notion that having a few extra pounds about their person made them less than awesome and lip-smackingly sensual. Seriously? They drew the postpartum straw that said pounds would come take up residence and flip them a nasty gesture anytime they try to get rid of it. It sucks. These are my friends who are always trying to find the magic button that will make the weight go away, including resigning themselves to being perpetually hungry and crabby and feeling guilty every time they eat. It drives them bonkers because they didn't have this problem back when they were a young and energetic twenty-something, so they feel like the fact that the weight's still there means they're doing something wrong. I've had friends sheepishly admit that they won't wear shorts during the Summer because their thighs jiggle too much.

There seems to be some weird "perverse pride" thing going on lately, where women struggling to lose weight proudly and loudly declare that they're BETTER than thin girls. As a thin person myself, I admit I felt more than a little hurt when friends of mine hopped on this fancy little bandwagon. They seemed blissfully unconcerned that, in their haste to feel better about themselves and their struggle, they were perfectly happy to dump on me and mine. In fact, my first impulse was to track down every one of these friends and smoosh a banana cream pie in their face for being able to eat the things I can't. And that, my friends, is crazy. It's the kind of crazy that makes a friend look like an enemy for no real reason except their struggle is a bit different. This nonsense "x-is-better-than-y" campaign is just another kind of name-calling, only it pretends to be pro-female (by causing one half of the female population to attack the other half?!), which drives.me.bonkers. Really bonkers. I actually sat down and tried to write something funny about it earlier, and just ended up sounding whiny and angry. I hate sounding like that, so you won't read it here. Instead, I went to bed angry and came up with a brilliant new concept I think we could all get behind: WEIGHT-SHARING!

I think rather than waste our precious free time, energy, and brain cells resenting one another for our respective weights, we should pool our resources. Clearly, I'm stealing the thin from someone and they're turning around and sucking out all my yummy curves. So let's make like post-imperial Britain and give it all back! All the gals who are one bad flu away from a stay at the hospital will chip in their skinny, and all the gals who get friction burns from running too fast will chip in their extra pounds. If we mix it all up together, then redistribute things evenly, we'll all come out happy.

Right?

Or maybe we could spend all that fabulous time, energy, and brain power on something that really matters to us, something that will always make us happy regardless of the numbers on the scale. We could learn new things. We could gaze at the stars. We could catch snowflakes on our tongues. We could rediscover standards of beauty so broad and diverse and inclusive that every one of us will find out we've been revered by some ancient culture somewhere, where they made statues in our honor. We could travel abroad. We could splash in public fountains. We could make art to comfort the tortured soul. We could volunteer at a food bank, or build houses for the homeless. We could hold our children close and whisper how much we love them, while they'll still let us. We could take the time, each day, to congratulate ourselves on something we did right, even if it means just celebrating that we're still upright and breathing. Most of all though, most importantly, we could take all that time, all that energy, all that brain power, and recognize in each other not an enemy or a judge, not a "skinny bitch" or a "fat cow", but another mom - an ally and a friend.

No matter how much weight we're carrying, we're all pulling a heavy load. Let's shed the weight of a partisan battle that no one will win, and help each other along instead. That's the kind of weight-sharing that will really make a difference.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nap

Nap-verb

1.  a wonderful thing

2.  sleep, in the afternoon

3.  a wonderful thing most mothers don't get a chance to do

4.  restorative rest so mothers don't become horrid to the short people


[can y'all tell I wrote those definitions myself?]



I just had Nina's kids over for the weekend (which was really great) and I took them out (okay, Q took them out, but I was there, I just don't have a captains license, minor detail, I do all the lines as long as I won't break a nail and if I will, I make the short ones do the lines) on the boat.  IT WAS THE WORLD'S MOST EXPENSIVE NAP, and so worth it.  All *5* short people napped!  And allowed a real grown up conversation!  It was pretty fantastic.

And they did not care one iota about rounding out a recent field trip to Fort McHenry. Yeah, seeing it from water made them lose memory of that lovely field trip that they had only 2 weeks ago and had told me all about the day before.  On that note, I was pretty happy that they napped.  They were up late the night before, slept in, ate the contents of my fridge  (18 eggs for 5 kids?! almost 2 lbs of bacon?! and asking for lunch by 10:30?), and were getting a little tired of each other. So the wave motion of the boat produced naps. Which was awesome.  And then they woke up. And I gave them freeze pops.  And then they started jumping on the beds.  On the boat.  I'm just not really great at math or physics, and I don't know what all the theories are named, but even I know not to jump on a bed while on a moving object (a hotel bed is a whole nother story!).  I found that out (in the exact same way) when I was 4.  So, add one head injury to the weekend. *sigh* I almost made it through with 5 injury free kids.  Ice fixed all, it was very minor. Now, all the kids know NOT to jump on boat beds, sometimes when you descend, the bed is not there...  I wonder if they will apply the same thinking to RV's?  Maybe I'll find out next summer.  If Nina will only let me kidnap her short ones for a camping trip... Hrmm... [Done! -N]

I heard about all of Nina's family secrets (okay, there aren't too many... but short young ones say funny stuff!). And, I thought it was really funny to hear that, "You're not MY mom!"  Um, yes, that is a true statement, lovely short child in my house, *but* I'm the mom around.  And that mother you are referencing, is my best friend who left you with me.  I promised I would only call IF I had to take you to the ER so your lovely parents could have a whole weekend to themselves. So you will follow my rules, which right about now include putting on swim trunks and getting in the hot tub because we just finished breakfast and hurry up because your parents will be here soon and we need to cram lots of fun/spoiling/exam week stuff in RIGHT NOW! Yup, a scuba mask was worn as well.  Completely necessary in a hot tub by the way.

Nina may hate me right now.  Her children had fun.  Lots of fun.  And only one minor head injury... bound to happen with 5 kids...  And going into exam week, super tired. And I'm pretty sure all of the clothes she packed are still at my house.  

Things I learned from her children:  

1.  Do not give them tea.  No matter how nicely they ask.  Children should not be caffeinated.

2.  Warn them about laws of physics.  Those laws apply to humans too.

3.  Procure twice as much food as you think the short people can ever eat!  They will go through a growth spurt.

4.  Wake them up in the morning.  Otherwise you will never, ever get out the door before 4 in the afternoon!  (And it's just fun since they kept you up late!)

5.  Remember to have all of them brush their teeth.  Whoops.  My bad, but by 9 at night, *I* was exhausted! (Dentists, take note, I do not condone poor oral health, but sometimes I need everyone to sleep, including me)


Lessons learned were valuable.  I hope Nina takes note, because next time it's her turn!

Cheers,

Katya

P.S.  About 10 minutes after the kids were dropped off I sort of promised a LIVE gift for Christmas (to Nina's kids, I already have a managerie).  After about 5 seconds of reflection, I had to back out of that ALL weekend.  Lizard or snake or turtle are not happening.  Or hermit crabs.  Did you know they can live about 15 years?  Yeah, I have 3...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cacophony: Need I Say More?


Ca-co-phony


[kuh-kof-uh-nee] - Noun

1. harsh discordance of sound

2. a discordant and meaningless mixture of sounds

3. Music:  frequent use of discords of a harness and relationship difficult to understand



I have come to the conclusion that the audio of my life is similar to a pack of screaming cats.  I believe that I was delusional to have 3 children within a very short period of time.  The oldest was still 3 when the last was spawned.  And now I have 3 very verbal and dramatic short people, none of whom nap anymore.  Or go to sleep on time.

When I deign to take a phone call, they stalk me.  They will follow me around airing every grievance they can come up with while.I'm.on.the.phone.  And if ignored, they get louder and louder.  And then they will start touching me.  Maybe it's just a poke of a finger or a gentle tapping, but for the love of Grace! Have they not ever heard from me, "DO NOT TUG ON SUPERMAN'S CAPE!" [Maybe they think you actually mean Superman. I just threaten mine with unnamed violence. The uncertainty seems to make it more effective. -N] I do not need to know about whatever it is unless someone is bleeding from their eyeballs or vomiting.  I have told all of them this many, many times, but for some reason, they do not believe in that rule.  And if I hang up to give them a time out, they have actually succeeded in their plan to thwart outside adult contact. *sigh*

I am the one who feeds, shelters and clothes them.  I help with homework.  I drive them places that they want to go. I host playdates and parties for them.  I do all of those things with love and don't complain about it (laundry is a whole different story though).  There are days when I really think that they have indentured me to them. [Of course. You're an au pair, remember? -N] Short people of this world (those under 10 at least) are the most powerful group of people on this planet.  And then after poking me and getting loud, they are genuinely surprised if they get yelled at! Really?

Grace gets upset if there isn't complete silence when practicing her violin (which she just started and is really schreechy still), but it is perfectly acceptable for her to ask how math problem #8 should be done while I'm trying to schedule an appointment.  For her.  Well, my love, #8 is completed the same way #1-7 were.  And, nice try, I'm not actually doing your homework for you.  I already finished 3rd grade, theoretically, I should not need the practice in math.  I'm all grown up and get to use a computer for that sot of thing. [Mine try to get me to answer their exam questions for them. Home schooling is AWESOME. -N] [I know you think homeschooling is awesome.  I don't.  I think YOU are awesome for doing it!  I love putting them on the bus in the morning.  So, some moms cry the first day of school.  I wanted a mimosa (and was sadly out of all the makings, poor planning).][...Remind me to define "sarcasm" next. -N]

Bank has the lovely habit of calling someone else and talking to them while I'm on the phone.  It shouldn't be a problem, but she is loud too, and stands right next to me to talk to her aunt/friend/dad.  And then I lose whatever short train of thought I had going for me.  I had to hang up with Nina last night because I couldn't figure out what we were talking about anymore.

And behind all of that fun noise was Crow and Q singing off key.  And not knowing the words.  And not stopping. Even with many glares from me. I used to like that song too.  So itunes was put on and turned up.  That really helps my concentration... [This is true. I could totally hear them. It was awesome. Because on my side? Everyone was being quiet in case I heard them and realized they were available to clean. -N] [Awesome, smawsome! Only great for you Nina.  I couldn't actually have a conversation! And then, Q, instead of talking, started staring at me.  Because that's not distracting.  At all.  What?  Was he on fire or something?  Oooo, they actually clean?  I'm only asking because I have them for the weekend! More child labor! Yay! -K][Nice try - they don't really clean. I tell them to clean things so they'll go hide and be quiet. -N]

Not making this up. Possibly buying it, though.
Crow is yelling at me right now, mostly because she's tired from school, but also because there is a bee outside.  OUTSIDE! Good grief! It's not inside, it's not bothering her, she's never been stung... So she is yelling "Mommmmmmmyyyyyyy!" Over and over.  I feel bad that my next door neighbor can hear her, she called to see if I needed a break from her.  Have I mentioned that I really do have awesome neighbors?  I wouldn't wish Crow on anyone right now though. Maybe she'll cry herself into a nap. Probably not.

[Note:  I'm really slow, so Nina has to put the pictures in for me.  However, on that note, the wine is actually really good!  My dad bought some for me last Halloween and I didn't share.  And, I won't share again.  They also make a lovely white.  I suggest Mommies bring some to whoever hosts a playdate; that mom deserves it!-Katya]

So, I've changed my name.  And I'm not telling what it is.  Maybe I'll get some quiet tonight. Failing that, I'll get some wine.

Cheers (literally),

Katya

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What the ....

puck [puhk]: noun
1. also called Hobgoblin or Robin Goodfellow; a particularly mischievous sprite in English folklore who appears as a character in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
2. ( lowercase ) a malicious or mischievous demon or spirit; a goblin. Derived from the Old English puca.
3. in ice hockey, a black disk of vulcanized rubber that is to be hit into the goal.
4. relating to British computer terms, what is known in the United States as a mouse. (Hey, I've learned something new!)

"Thou speak'st aright;
I am that merry wanderer of the night."

- Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

As most people who know me well will tell you, I believe in fairies. Like, actually believe in them. I'm not just talking about the flittery little things with wings and skimpy clothes (Do they shop at Forever 21 Mini, or mug Bratz dolls, or what? ANYWAY.). I'm talking about nature spirits of varying kinds of benevolence. I am aware that this is considered crazy by modern standards (at least among non-pantheists), which is why I would not answer those psychological wellness assessment questions honestly. Sheesh. I'd have to be really crazy to admit to something like that out loud. In a public forum. Like the internet. Hm...

Oh, look! Over there! A distraction!

Okay, now that the scary people with white coats have gone, let's get back to business. I swear this will relate to motherhood, just bear with me.

As every mother has discovered since the dawn of time, the urge to swear like a drunken sailor does not magically disappear with childbirth. If anything, the urge to let loose a string of invectives that would curdle milk, peel wallpaper, cause refined ladies to fall into a faint, and possibly knock the earth off its axis, comes more frequently. Unfortunately, as we all know, one must not teach one's children any interesting words that would cause eyebrow raising from friends, neighbors, teachers, and CPS (because we all know we're just a concerned citizen's phone call away from being officially labeled Worst Mother of All Time).  [For the record, CPS has NOT EVER been called about me, however, I've won the *Mother of the Year* award several times.  -Katya]

Fortunately, as I mentioned above, I believe in fairies. And they can be a rotten bunch of nasty tricky beasts when they want to (still talking about fairies, not kids). So when my life goes doughnut shaped and crazy, and the urge to vent will not be denied, I yell at the fairies. Or rather, one particular one. By name. He's a nasty little piece of work, and could well be responsible for whatever in.ter.est.ing. thing is going on. If not, I rest assured that whichever one of the nastier ones happens to be nearby making things worse for fun, it probably won't mind being confused with him.

You have probably noticed, of course, that the name also very closely resembles an actual swear word. Throwing it in wherever you don't want to be caught teaching your carefully-listening children the Queen Mother of All Swear Words works pretty well, and it feels just as satisfying, what with the emphatic use of consonants and everything. You might get some hairy eyeballs, because everyone else can hear those awesome consonants as well, but you'll get a pass upon repetition. Best part? If your children want to know more, or are caught using it, make sure they know where it comes from. Yes, that's right, you're not hurling expletives around in front of your child, you're teaching them cultured things, like Shakespeare. Look at you, you're so cultured and classy!


What about people who don't believe in fairies and think they're stupid? Well...I hope you're a hockey fan, that's all. As any worthwhile hockey fan will tell you, a flying puck (lol) can do a lot of damage and engender a lot of cursing. It's probably safe to say that many things that make a mother want to curse will strangely resemble a hockey puck in full-on Demolition Mode. Or if not, Mommy soon will. Either way, that makes the term appropriate for hockey moms too.  [I used to have a mean slap shot.  Then I became a little less than coordinated.  Hmm.  I should work on that before the dating years.  -K]  [Nina's just a scary good shot]

If you're a British mom who thinks fairies and hockey are both stupid and that Shakespeare is stupid as well, I'm afraid you'll have to learn to really revile your computer accessories in order to get the proper tone. Also - what the heck is wrong with you?

Go forth, ladies, and pseudo-curse. You're welcome. Puck will be visiting your home shortly, I'm sure.

Cheers,
 Nina

Just Ducky

Duck- noun (and really, we all know how to pronounce this one)

1.  Any of various swimming birds in which the neck and legs are short, the feet typically webbed, the bill often broad and flat, and the sexes usually different from each other in plumage


2. The flesh of any of these birds used as food




My darling Crow, when she was almost 3 years old caught a duck.  I'm not sure which of us was more stunned, the duck, Crow or myself.

Crow wasn't feeling well, so off to the doc we go.  It had rained a lot the day before, so every parking lot I saw was full of lovely puddles for ducks.  After being told she had yet another sinus infection, we left the office and went to hop into the big ugly van.  She took a detour.  Crow snuck up on a duck, caught it and started petting it.  Of all the things in my life that I've said, I never thought I'd yell the words, "Put the duck down!"  I never, ever considered that combination of words our of my mouth. Ever.  Who says that?


So, back into the doc's office for hand sanitizer.  Because she picked up a duck. And he comes around the corner, and being the good doc that he is and concerned we are back within 10 minutes, asks what's wrong.  I didn't want to tell him.  I have a history of over-reacting to my children's illnesses and I live by Murphy's Law.  It's embarrassing.  I did tell him we just popped back up for the hand sanitizer, and after the look he shot my way (think him calling Child Protective Services...) I told him.  When he was done laughing at the fact that my daughter caught a duck, he gave me more sample sizes of sanitizer for my purse.  God bless him.


I was laughing when I picked the other short people up from school [I'm not brave enough to homeschool like Nina] [You typed it wrong, the word is "crazy". -Nina] I told them about the 'duck incident'.  Bank wanted to know, since she loves duck so much, if I had killed it and brought it home.  Really? I have killer shoes.  I do not hunt. Who is that spawn of mine?  She was 4 at the time. She is still a foodie and not afraid of where her food comes from.  Good and bad from that, but I digress...


When relating the story to Q later that day, between my fits of laughter mind you, Bank asked me what was for dinner.  It was right around her birthday [For an entire week at birthday times thy get to pick breakfast and dinner] so it was her week to pick the menu. Oh.my.god.  We were having roasted duck, Bank's favorite.  I had to sit down.  My family could not tell if I was weeping or laughing.  I thought I was going to pee my pants.  

So, the duck we had that night came from the grocery store, not the parking lot.  The doc thinks I'm crazy, not too far off the mark.  And, I've discovered that there are sentences and exclamations you never think you will have to speak.  And, catching water fowl is a little more dangerous than I once thought; Crow has almost fallen into harbors while trying to repeat the experience.  She find great delight in creating germ-induced (it was bird flu mania!) panic attacks in her mother.  [She was also one of the first kids to be diagnosed with swine flu in the mid atlantic, my germ phobia is understandable with her.  I'm raising 3 petri dishes who are so cute, smart and funny, but I swear they lick grocery carts when I'm not looking.]


Cheers,

Katya

Sunday, October 3, 2010

We, the Unwilling

re·cal·ci·trant [ri-kal-si-truh nt]: adjective
1. resisting authority or control; not obedient or compliant; refractory.
2. hard to deal with, manage, or operate. See unruly.

-noun 
1. a recalcitrant person.

“We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much,for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.” -Anonymous

As you probably know by now, I home school my children. This was one of those decisions that was made, to all outside observers, very quickly, but in fact was forming in my mind for several years before it ever happened. Never let it be said that I didn't know what I was getting into; I did my research, I talked to home schooling parents, I read articles about socialization, and I listened to the skeptics. But as every mother EVERYWHERE knows, getting children to cooperate and follow directions is probably the biggest challenge of raising children. The aptly-named Terrible Twos are pretty much the age when any given child realizes how much of a power-trip it is to single-handedly send Mommy through all the stages of apoplexy. Every old saying about children enjoying nothing so much as fighting with their mothers does kind of point out that teaching one's own children will probably not be all sunshine and roses. So of course I knew going in that some days would be better than others. I knew that, and in my heart I truly believed that with love and perseverance, I could get us all through - and I still do believe that.


BUT (you knew this was coming, right?) THERE ARE DAYS when I'm not sure it wouldn't save us all a lot of time and trouble to just run screaming out of the house and come back to check on everyone when they're ready to go to college. I had a blast in school when I was a kid. I remember keeping that a secret, because I didn't want to come across as even weirder than I was, but I really sincerely looked forward to learning new things. I didn't look forward to hanging out with friends - I didn't really have too many, and mostly the ones I had just sort of banded together because we were all socially awkward. Sitting together at recess and being awkwardly silent together isn't exactly a high point of anyone's day. Reading, however, was a joy beyond all telling. Learning to write essays was bliss, especially since it erased all the awkward phrasing, starts and stops of someone who is chronically shy and has a tendency to blurt out excessively personal stories or not-actually-funny jokes in an overly jovial way. Math was just another kind of writing to me, and I enjoyed learning the new tools and signs that expanded that vocabulary.


Now take Spidey and Xena. I'm not sure where their attitudes about learning come from, but I refuse to take the blame for them. Credit only, please! When they have a good day and a positive attitude, I'm more than willing to say it's because they take after me. It's those other days when I glare at Daddy. It's totally his fault.

Spidey believes firmly that sleeping late and playing with Legos is pretty much the epitome of life, and that everything else is just an annoying distraction. On his worst days, he palms a few Legos and plays with them under the table rather than doing his work. Once he is caught and the offending toys have been confiscated, he sulks through classes, spending more time staring off into space and thinking about playing with his Legos than he does actually finishing the dang worksheets so he can be finished and go play. He stares blankly at new concepts and, just when he seems to have grasped what's going on, adds several layers of unnecessary complicated pseudo-logic. Then, when he gets a bunch of questions wrong because he decided they must be more difficult than they seemed ("Don't extrapolate, honey! They just want to make sure you actually paid attention to what you read!"), he throws down his pen in frustration, folds his arms and scowls, insisting that he "can't" do whatever it is we're doing. Since he's a foodie, sometimes a snack helps. Sometimes. Other times it's just an endless parade of setting the dreaded timer ("It's review, for heaven's sake, it should not take you over an hour to do a single page!") and removing privileges a little at a time until either his attitude improves or it's dinnertime.

Xena, on the other hand, is a little contrarian beast. I'm dead sure she knows all of the stuff we've gone over to date, but she seems to have decided it's a better use of her time to grin and pretend she doesn't know. Oooooooh boy, is that a fun game! Almost as fun as the game where I review the same material four or five times in one school year because you "don't know it" yet! Eventually, daughter of mine, you *will* get tired of pretending you're an idiot. Probably around...what, 20? 25? She learned to count VERY fast because I used chocolate chips as a counting tool. If you can count how many, you can eat them! I'm nearly to the point where I'll use the same expedient in order to get her to recognize letters, because a child hopped up on enough chocolate to spell the entire alphabet is worlds better than one who thinks it would be fun to remain illiterate just for the sheer joy of watching that vein in my temple throb.


Don't get me wrong, I love my children and I really do believe strongly that I'm doing what's best for them. By all accounts I'm actually doing a decent job; I get decent marks at county reviews, and our first foray into standardized testing went pretty well (well, except for Social Studies, but I digress). I can even claim credit for teaching Spidey to read, and he enjoys it so much that I catch him up at *midnight* reading Calvin & Hobbes comics. It's a proud proud feeling to see my children casually throwing around words that some adults have trouble with, or to hear Xena aimlessly counting up to 15 as an intermission between choruses of Mulan and Sleeping Beauty. 

It's just that some days, I find myself waiting for the glorious moment when His Kiltiness will come home, so that I can (finally!) leave the table and go detox somewhere else. Anywhere else. Because there are only so many times you can tell the sweet little person you love with all your heart, "It's right there on the page we just read. Don't make up the answer. If you don't remember, just reread until you find it. It's right there in that chapter. I swear to you, we just read it! Don't tell me you reread it and it isn't there, I'm looking right at the answer! It's on this page, right here! Right in front of your eyeballs! For heaven's sake, look! I'm pointing to it! Read it! No, don't look over there. The answer is not on the refrigerator. Right here. Where. my. finger. is. No, you can't go to the bathroom! You just went 5 minutes ago! You're just trying to get out of doing this assignment, and it isn't going away until you've answered the questions. Read. the. stupid. paragraph!" After a while, everyone has had enough of each other, and frankly I'd even gladly have to plunge a clogged toilet or talk to a telemarketer rather than go through the same mind-numbing discussion for even 30 more seconds. [I love that she loses it just like me!! Nina is a saint with the short ones in our lives.  Me, the Mean Mommy Voice comes out.  And, on a personal note, I'd rather do ANYTHING other than deal with a clogged toilet.  Crow just spent several bucks with me calling the plumber. again. at. $95. an. hour. Again, new respect for people with strong stomachs.- Katya]


Am I alone in this little semi-private torture chamber? By all accounts, no, I'm not. It's not even limited to the home schooling crowd. I have seen well-educated career women whose work involves *saving lives* frustrated to the brink of infanticide by a toxic cocktail of reasoning, threatening, cajoling, begging, bribing, and eventually even screaming tirades, just trying to get their angelic little 8-year-old to do their one measly page of Math homework. I have seen stay-at-home moms who are normally a complete lake of placidity break out the Mean Mommy Voice after their toddler throws a tantrum about putting on their shoes.


Of course we all love our children. We had them. They changed our lives. They give us so much emotionally and spiritually, sticky kisses and all. But oh lordy, when they've had a Day? Give me a kiss and get out of my way - I'm going to go hide in the bathroom with a good book, because there just isn't enough room in that swear jar. [Bath, book, tea.  A great combination.  Or sub some sake in there, you deserve it!- Katya]


Cheers,
 Nina


[Aren't you impressed I can edit stuff now?! Yay me.  Ducks are coming up!]

Friday, October 1, 2010

Historical Freshet In My House

fresh-et


[fresh-it] noun

1. a freshwater stream flowing into the sea

2.  a sudden rise in the level of a stream or a flood, caused by heavy rains or the rapid melting of snow


Freshet describes my life during the last few days.  Over 11 inches of rain in my neighborhood caused quite the mess in our basement playroom.  And a major flooding of local roads and backyards.  I had to miss teaching kindergarten their media lesson [which is funny since I don't teach, but that's another story] and Bank's class missed me for their workshop.  I couldn't leave the area since the fire department closed the road and the police gave the school bus an escort. I'm pretty sure the bus driver was amused!

Because of our freshet, I'm now quite capable of tearing up carpet.  I have to say it's quite cathartic! Nothing like a little demolition when you're really pissed off at a situation! I was mostly upset that the short ones didn't clean up their toys so I stepped on the corner of a lego and about lost it at 7 in the morning.  Ow! So any toys I had to pick up are mine now.

And I managed to fix the sump pump several times yesterday by whacking the heck out of it with a large hammer.  I'm not sure I recommend that method (Q is really great at fixing stuff but he was working and had a cold so...)but it worked for me yesterday! I may need a new one if I bruised it too much though.

I've also realized as much as I hate anything slimy that a) it's my house I'm protecting, so suck it up and clean the drains out back to the stream bed, b) sticks are not snakes so don't scream, c) as much as I like frogs, they shouldn't be hopping into my house to escape the rain, and d) I have even greater respect for plumbers.

I went through 2 rain coats, which seemed to mimic the ones for the U.S. Golf team in NOT keeping you dry, and 3 changes of clothes by 9 am.  I gave up wearing my glasses because they aren't outfitted with mini wipers.  And, since it was sort of warm out, I seriously considered just wearing a bathing suit and my swim goggles out back along with my Keen sandals to keep all of the drains clear.  I didn't, only because I was terrified that would be the ONE single moment that one of my neighbors would be crazy enough to walk behind our house and they would see me.

While cleaning one drain in particular, there was quite a bit of debris.  Things like leaves, sticker balls, and a few sticks.  I don't mind snakes at all.  I've moved boiling nests and everything.  I really hate being surprised though. I have a strong startle reflex which gives friends great amusement.  I also possess the ability to give myself a self induced panic attack.  It's pretty special.  I was so afraid that the sticks were really going to be snakes.  I was all sweaty and cold and freaking out. They were sticks.  Q laughed at me when I told him.  Nina laughed at me when I told her. I love them too. [Q is actually really afraid of snakes.  I can't believe he laughed.  Paybacks are hell.]


When opening the door, a frog hopped into the house.  You know it must be a really bad rain storm if the frogs want to come in.  Q relocated one into my garden, I moved a couple to take refuge under the rhubarb and basil.  We have a lot of wildlife!  I love frogs. I even collect frog stuff.  I do not want live frogs jumping around my house though.  It's bad enough that we have the Stink Bug Invasion of 2010.

Plumbers around my area must have been super busy yesterday.  And carpet people.  I cannot even imagine the hours they put in, and with the conditions they had to work in, I think they deserve every penny they charged.  They most likely saw folks at their most stressed out, worst time and they had to be professional.  And they had to diagnose and fix the problem.  Kudos to them for keeping the midatlantic area from not drowning in their basements.

My next door neighbor, who Q and I have helped a number of times in power outages, was super sweet and brought pizza for the kids and wine for the 3 of us.  She is great.  As a mom herself, she thought a good bottle of wine might sooth my nerves (Q pretty much always keeps his cool, thank God one of us does!).  So we had some peanuts and wine.  And her sprinkler system was on this morning.  11+ inches of rain since Tuesday is not enough for her grass.  Wonder if I can claim nerves and get her to cut mine too? Hmm...

Well, it's Friday, and happy hour for the moms in our 'hood.  So I'm off to enjoy the wonderful fall weather and a glass of wine.

Cheers,

Katya

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Inspiration

In-spi-ra-tion

in-spuh-rey-shuhn

- an animating action or influence

"My children are my inspiration."


My children really are my inspiration, as well as my best friend Nina.  I'll get the short people who live in my house in a minute.  I REALLY want to dwell on how awesome Nina is first!  She is amazing and talented and cool and super smart and she's going to hate this run on sentence with incorrect grammer and spelling.  I like messing with her. [And I'm leaving it uncorrected so everyone can see what I put up with. -Nina] She wouldn't speak to me when we first met.  I like to remind her of that. [I thought you were way too focused on clothes and being better than everyone else. Which probably means in real-world language that I was jealous of your shoes. Nice shoes, by the way. -Nina] [Thanks a lot.  I still pretty much wear jeans and t shirts! YOU were the one who introduced me to fancy makeup and fashion magazines.  And you had the awesome hair.- Katya] Then I yelled at her one day, and oddly became best friends, pretty much starting that day. [Not sure why I yelled, I think she cut me off on the sidewalk or something really horrible.-K]  We've been through a lot of boys stuff together.  And lots of music.  I think we've only had one big fight, and it was 100 years ago in college, and for the life of me, I've no idea what it was about. [Me neither. Huh. -Nina] I like to think that we have superhuman communication skills with each other, but really I know it's just because we are about the same amount of crazy.

On to the short people. They are wonderful, most of the time.  I have Grace who is now 8 going on 18.  I'm giving her the name Grace here in the blog because I find myself yelling, "For the LOVE of Grace!" Only half of the time is it something she did, but she is the oldest so she gets blamed. And then I apologize profusely.  She is a great girl. And she puts up with me as a mother, so I think that makes her the most amazing Grace ever.  Grace is also a diva.  She has a ton of clothes (my fault) and 'borrows' from her little sister who is taller. The battles have begun...

The little sister, who is taller, is 6 3/4.  I have to make the distinction lest anyone thinks she is only 6 1/2. Bank, is her name here because I'm convinced she will grow up to be a kung fu fighting banker. [I agree. -Nina] Sometime when she was 2 or 3 she managed to hide over the course of a few months $100's in the house.  Maybe she had an ulterior motive of trying to get me to clean up and organize, but I've never found it.  Also, she is the one who started our 'swear' jar.  She is brilliant, sweet, quiet and sensitive.  But, don't EVER sneak up on her, she will throw you down in an arm bar and stab you in soft tissue with a pencil. Really.  She can't throw me down yet, but she's not even 4 feet tall. Give her time.

The last of my girls is Crow.  She has the name because she is loud.  I honestly need hearing aids (too many concerts) but the audiologist said not to bother until I can teach her volume control. She is 4 1/2 and has NO volume control.  It makes it interesting while trying to do any shopping with her.  I love the one where she commented on all the fatty, unhealthy foods in a very obese person's cart while I was trying to pay for groceries.  Super. Crow delights in torturing her older sisters.  And loves to grab my iphone and call people.  If you get a message with heavy breathing, it's probably her.[Only "probably"? -Nina] [Well, its not me!-K]

My amazing husband, Q (I would call him X, but my fingers don't like to type that letter), gave me these wonderful girls.  It has recently dawned on him that they will all PMS at the same time as me (in years to come, but still).  He is scared.  He wants to build an underground doghouse with cable TV out back, I'm guessing he means something really cool like a batcave.  I don't blame him.  It's not going to happen though. I think our homeowners association would have a problem with it.  I'm sure he'll figure out to plan his work trips, he's smart like that.

Me: Well, I'm Katya.  I drink lots of tea and diet coke so I'm over jittery for most of the day.  I love that people can home school (Nina) but I would go crazy(ier). I sing in the car, loudly and badly, sometimes it's the kids music I have on CD which is awkward because all of the minivan windows are tinted.  No, I really don't enjoy singing The Wheels on the Bus.  I like people watching; sometimes it makes me laugh out loud, again awkward. I am wildly inappropriate at times and make my kids shake their heads.  I love textiles of all sorts and really want to go shop at a market in Istanbul for a carpet. Really, one of my life's dreams right there.  I also have a keen sense of smell. It has led me to trouble, think pastries, and led the gas men to hazardous leaks, seriously. I like shoes. That was an understatement.  I love them.  And I have lots. My favorite right now are flip flops, mostly because I'm too lazy to pull socks out (and I just don't wear socks in the summer).  I also can't spell for beans.  So if a word looks a little off, it's because I misspelled it and Nina wasn't home when I called to ask her how to spell it. Or she was ignoring the phone because I'd already called her 12 times. [No worries, babe, I'm allowed to edit for you post-publish! Like now. I fixed Istanbul. You're welcome. -Nina] [It's okay, now I know how to edit, and I can edit your stuff too!- Katya]

My family is great.  I vent about them a lot to Nina, because we all don't get along some days, but I wouldn't trade them for anything.  They are my inspiration.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First Impressions

im·pres·sion [im-presh-uhn]: noun

1. a strong effect produced on the intellect, feelings, conscience, etc.

2. the first and immediate effect of an experience or perception upon the mind; sensation.

3. a mark, indentation, figure, etc., produced by pressure.

4. an imitation of the voice, mannerisms, and other traits of a person, esp. a famous person, as by an entertainer.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”


First impressions can often be misleading. For example, when Katya and I first met, waaaaaay back in college, we both had terrible taste in men and a tendency to be quiet in class. Also, we had different hair. Now we can't shut up and have resorted to starting our own blog in order to keep talking whether anyone is listening or not. Whether we still have terrible taste in men is up for debate, and depending on the day (and sometimes the hour) we could be on either side of that debate, but we're generally pretty happy with the men we trap- uh, married.

 I'm here to start this thing with a brief introduction of myself and the players in my family; Katya will be up next with her own roster of all-stars. My name is Nina, and it's probably safe to say I'm certifiable. Or at least I would be, if I answered those psychiatric assessment questions honestly. I grew up in a semi-rural environment, which meant I spent a lot of time reading books because none of my friends' mothers wanted to drive an hour for a visit. This is probably where I got my deadly grammar and spelling skills, which I often suspect I developed in lieu of social skills; by high school, when my mother went back to college, she was enlisting me to proofread her term papers.

Over the course of finishing college myself I met my husband-to-be, His Kiltiness, appropriately enough at a Saint Patrick's Day party. Given his amazingly great legs (god bless kilts!), his goofball sense of humor, and the fact that he cannot lie for love or money, I consider him the epitome of masculine charm. He LOVES to play with children. At any gathering, he's most likely the man on the floor being pig-piled by every child there. Oh, and he likes to cook. Hands off, ladies, he's MINE.

About a year into our marriage, our son Spidey came along. He has always had a real attraction to comic book heroes, particularly Spiderman (hence his moniker), although he himself has always preferred blondes. I guess we know where he stands on the Gwen Stacy issue. He is now a buoyant 7-year-old who likes to climb doorways, fences, furniture, and any other obstacle you care to name, hopefully followed by science - he declined getting a bike this year for his birthday because he wanted a really big box of science experiments. With all of the climbing and flipping and so on, you would expect him to have a lengthy list of injuries, but you would be wrong. He NEVER FALLS. It's uncanny. I've learned not to faint every time he calls, "Mom, watch! Look at what I can do!" He certainly does not get his coordination from me.

A few years later, we filled out our roster with a daughter. Xena, like most girls her age (4), loves to dress up in princess dresses. Unlike other girls her age, she prefers to accessorize these lovely gowns with a weapon of some sort, usually a play sword. This works out well when Spidey is in the mood for a light saber battle, though not so well when he just wants to sit and read his comics. When Xena isn't allowed to have a sword (out on errands or at the dinner table, for example), she employs what one family friend refers to as "her patented diamond-tipped stare". She has these icy blue eyes that could cut steel. Before she could even talk, she nailed Granddad with that one until he apologized for sneezing. It was pretty awesome.

A little over two years ago, His Kiltiness and I decided our best schooling option was to home school our children. See? Certifiable. But it works for us; although some days are better than others, on the whole we have successfully taught Spidey to read, add and subtract, spell, and argue vigorously for lenient grading whenever the assignment directions aren't sufficiently clear. Xena started pre-school this year, so we're having a fun time learning letters, numbers and shapes. It should surprise no one that she can count much better when it's chocolate chips she's counting. It should also surprise no one that our house frequently looks like some sort of strange nest for sock monsters, hungry bears, and rogue library poltergeists.

So...my hair is different, my taste in men improved dramatically, and I talk too much. What hasn't changed since those heady days of dining hall food and sleeping until noon? Well, for one thing, I still wear the same coat. It's a really awesome coat. I am invariably reading two or three books at any point in time. And when it comes to shenanigans, Katya is still the first person I enlist.

Cheers,
 Nina