Saturday, October 31, 2009

Craft Rock

The blog Magpie and Cake is in my feeder, but I haven't checked it in a long while. When the backlog of posts gets too cumbersome I can't open it on my phone, so blogs languish until I have time to look on the desktop. They posted this lovely song/video and we all love it. Pequita loves the scissor work, Monito loves the painting, and I love the folkie music / craft mashup. Just a treat. Go see it!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

TV Show Help

I was a kid in the 70s. Does anyone remember watching a show on TV which was someone reading a book out loud while an artist drew illustrations from the book with gorgeous oil pastels? Do you remember the name of that show?

First Frost? Time for Jack O'Lanterns

Carving pumpkins has taken on a new element this year: power tools.

Monito tried using his toy chainsaw, but it wasn't cutting it. I got out the drill and largest bits and they each drilled many holes in the little pumpkins. They started out as jack o'lanterns, became jack o'lanterns with chicken pox and then became mob hit jack o'lanterns riddled with drill holes. The poor tall one, sporting the single hole to the forehead I fondly think of as execution jack o'lantern. SO MUCH FUN.

Once a few were carved up, we had our traditional popcorn feast while we admire the glowing faces. It was a little short this year due to icy wind storm weather, so we quickly sang the pumpkins on a fence song and zipped inside to watch some Snow White songs on YouTube before bed. After one night of having to explain about how the Evil Queen is not real, we now stick to dwarfs and the Betty Boop-like Snow White only. Hi ho!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pequita is Now Three

And she still rocks. I can't believe I didn't post about her fairy princess themed birthday on the 11th.

We invited 25 people or so, which clearly put it in the realm of adult party, since the kids are usually totally happy with one or two friends. I took the lazy way out and had Homestead Mama grill hotdogs and hamburgers. We also used the opportunity to get a pepperoni log out of the freezer and consumed by people other than me. Auntie Kiko was a big fan. There was milling about and eating for 90 minutes, and then we tried to host an activity - this was the first time we've done anything but open play. I've been wanting to try a treasure hunt since reading about it on Kate's blog, but worried it would be too much for the kids. It was a HUGE hit, and totally within the kid's abilities. I was so busy with party prep and house cleaning and epic cake baking that I really rushed the treasure hunt prep, but basically I had Grandpa print out several pictures that I'd taken of memorable landmarks in our yard. I sent Grandma outside the morning of the party to hang each one in the appropriate place attached to a balloon for easy discovery by 3 year olds. I brought them all outside and squatted down with a ballooned picture of the swing set and said that fairies had brought special treats for each child, but we were going to have to find them because the fairies were tricksters. The kids were pretty jazzed up; my kids had home court advantage and led the merry band off to the swing set. Very quickly the kids got into it and a couple front runners emerged. Jonas, in the pink, partnered with Pequita and the two of them tore it up. We hid five clues, so the kids ran all over an acre of yard visiting the fire pit, hammock, raised bed garden and ending up back at the front door where the fairies had left a basket of gift bags for them all. One sweet 3-year old said that he was coming back the next day to do this again, so I'm taking that as an unbridled success. Best of all is that they are clearly ready for organized thinking activity, which means I'm unpacking all the games I've been collecting since before they were born. My sister had a pirate treasure hunt in her tiny house in Boston a few months ago, and since they didn't have all the acreage to run on the kids had to do a physical activity at each clue location, like jump up and down 40 times or do a somersault. I can see adding letter and number components too, as the kids start digging mental Olympics. I think that increasing the number of clues and adding physical or artsy activities at each checkpoint would keep this game going in high joy mode. We'll definitely be making more clue cards and bringing this indoors over the winter.

The bags were a big hit. I prefer to sugar up my kids as little as possible, and also like to give away things we like to play with. This means that I always end up adding a craft or twelve to my pre-birthday to-do list. Each kid received an elf and a wand that Grandma and I made the night before (yay, glue gun!) a book of tattoos, a sticker activity sheet, and a pumpkin shaped bottle of bubbles. Many of the components were from the dollar store; I bought plain wooden wands in April and set them aside for Pequita's birthday; a little shiny ribbon and a gem and they were transformed. The wooden elf forms are from my favorite wood piece supply store and a simple bit of felt and more glue gun = very sweet toy in seconds. Proper elf capes & hats should be hand sewn, but whatever.
We then retired back inside for chocolate castle cake. Sadly, the tin foil makes it hard to see the glory of the cake, but it was a hit. I had much bigger and better construction with multiple colors in mind, but by 11:30 the night before the party, I decided it was done with just a crumb coat of chocolate butter cream. (Hint: you can't tell its a crumb coat if you have chocolate on chocolate. Also, toddlers don't care.) It was a recipe out of a Moosewood cookbook, of all places, and it was fantastic. Those vegetarians sure like their sweets. As always, once the birthday kid blows out their candles and makes a wish, I relight them for each kid who wants to have a go. They love this, and it makes everyone happy.

We spent three days opening presents one or two at a time, so the birthday lasted all weekend. Sigh. I love parties.

No Posts

It is funny how my counter hits go way up when I don't post. It is because Kiko keeps checking 29 times a day to see how we're doing.


My laptop broke. It is dead. It is an ex-laptop. (Does anyone remember the Dead Parrot skit?)

I haven't been doing a lot of blogging lately because the fairly new, fairly awesome desktop computer I have is upstairs in the office. And I have, you know, the two kids. If I pause in the office on the way downstairs in the mornings to do work or to blow a couple minutes reading a crafty blog about things I don't have time to make, they are hanging on my arm telling me how they're huuuuuuungry, or have to pee, or how they want to watch Max & Ruby doooooownstairs. Demanding little cusses. So down we all go, me having gotten one bill paid online if I'm lucky and NO CUTE PICTURES of the kids uploaded for you to admire.

I get them set up in front of the TV (judge all you want. It is a tool and I embrace it now. They got almost none before the age of two and a limited amount now) hit play on the DVR with the only current acceptable choice - Max & Ruby - and grab coffee and zip back upstairs. Gone are the days of Curious George love, Elmo appreciation, Barney curiosity. Only the cute little parentless bunnies will do now. I have a total of 4.8 minutes between segments before Pequita bellows, "Mooooooom, ADS!" like the commercials are going to jump out of the TV and force her to do something awful. Which is actually what happened, because she started to cut her dolls hair after seeing it done in an ad. So I run downstairs, fast forward through the ads, and come back upstairs to keep doing what I was doing. This happens over and over. Today, I ordered 3 Max & Ruby DVDs because I can't stand this anymore.

While Pequita can be counted on to sit on the couch and dress/undress/dress/undress her beloved Barbies while watching TV, some days Monito is feeling frisky and ventures off the couch. In the last week I've gone downstairs after my 4.8 minutes of televised babysitting to find him eating a stick of butter, playing with the jewel cases of my cds with all 800 cds splayed around him on the floor (note to self: investigate that iPod thing), trying to get himself a snack in the pantry by scaling a wall of shelves, and decorating a card to send to Grandpa with glitter glue in the living room. On the carpet.

Today at about 9:22 am I was just transferring money from one account to another so the mortgage payment on our rental house will be covered and both kids stomp upstairs, Pequita bearing a UPS box. Seems Monito had wanted to release his balloon into the air outside so it could fly to Grandpa's house. He let himself out the front door to do this, Pequita followed to monitor the launching. The UPS guy strolled up, gave them the package - I wonder if one of the kids signed for it? - and they brought it right up to me only because they couldn't get the tape off to open it themselves on the front lawn. Pequita took a few long minutes to relate this while Monito just jumped up and down in excitement about the package. She was very clear about the fact that she definitely THANKED the strange man who approached them with presents. When I stopped hyperventilating, we opened the box and played with the amazingly fun little wooden bits and pieces that will end up in their Christmas loot once I finish crafting it all. So I gave them cookies and play doh and parked them next to me on the upstairs side of the baby gate and ordered myself THIS for Christmas. It ain't fancy or expensive, but I can keep it downstairs and keep my kids from being abducted while I pay the cable bill. Homestead Mama will be thrilled to know that she doesn't have to buy me any more presents for the holidays.

I must point out, since many of you may not know me in real life, that NO ONE would accuse me of being a negligent or neglectful parent. I don't let the kids roam around dangerously unattended. Monito is in a developmental spurt that is changing the synaptic firings in is massive noggin (family trait, poor boy) and all the things I have been able to count on for the last 6 months or so have been rendered null and void. I am a tiny bit slow to accept this fact, but boy I'm on it now. And my new blogging tool, I mean netbook, will arrive in a few days and all will be right with the world.

I do have much to blog about, I'm just usually too tired to write it down after the kids go to bed and I've scraped the day off my kitchen table and picked the Hot Wheels out from between my toes. And really, the kids are cuter than ever.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's What's For Dinner

Most fun. Found here.

Snow Day

Lots of excited screaming and running in circles at the sight of the first snow of the season.  We slipped on rain boots over footed pajamas and frolicked outside for just a few minutes, coming in with bowls of snow to eat in front of the fire.  When Pequita was an infant, she would cry for snow in a bowl, whacking her bowl and signing more when it emptied.  Not much has changed. 

I love the Northeast. 

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I am SO SURE that 'one serving' = the whole small pack of gnocchi that I'm not even going to check the wrapper. 

Cold weather makes my head spin a bit, my friends.

Monday, October 12, 2009


My girl was three yesterday, on National Coming Out day.  She is a force to be reckoned with.  I love her with an undiluted passion.  I am grateful every day for her.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I love this weather.

My parents are on their way. They'll be here for Pequta's birthday on Sunday.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Diaper Training

This is what diaper training a boy looks like in our house. Easy access all the way. Who knew that when he snuck off to pee on his own (Yay!) the skirt would act as a funnel, stopping all the pee and sending it down the front of the toilet onto the floor. And that this drama would be reenacted with every shirt Monito owns? Gack. Back to peeing sitting down, if possible. And some clear caulk around the base of the toilet so the smell of urine isn't the FIRST thing one is hit with as they walk in the door. I'd rather it be carcass-covered dog; at least that is temporary.


It finally got cold enough for me to turn on the heat in our house. We heat the whole 2000 sf with a propane Jotul heater in the living room that looks just like a wood-burning stove, realistic logs and all; we have a slightly smaller back-up stove just like it on the second floor landing in the office but it never cycles on as the downstairs one is super efficient and heat rises.

I was preparing to lay down on the floor and reach up under the stove to light the pilot and get it started when a twitch caught my eye. This little beauty was curled up next to the hearth stone and the wall. Palpitations, and some startle and then I recovered and said, too loudly, "oh, how LUCKY we are to have a visit from this nice snake! Homestead Mama, could you get her OUTSIDE before I start the stove? She won't like the heat. Bay-bees, come seeeee the cute harmless snake! Want to pet it?" And then I panted away my adrenaline while the kids scared the snake with loving touches and it bit H-Mama a few times in irritation. (Tiny teeth, no harm done.)

I'm not afraid of them, but I don't want to be eye to eye with a snake unless I PLANNED it that way.

We carried on with our stove-lighting ritual of cookies and hot chocolate while it blazed it's glory into the night. I love my house, fauna and all.

Autumn = Gingerbread

I don't do things by halves. This is a double recipe, with royal icing piped on for definition. Delicious. Monito's new best love, extra spicy gingerbread cookies. He likes the hammers best, Pequita loves the princess ones of course.

Fall Hiking

When in doubt, go outside.

The kids are as invigorated by the weather change as I am. We are hiking a couple times a week, along the lake front where we can find driftwood and fish carcasses to talk about, in the woods where there are mushrooms and fairy houses to see, in our back 40 (or 10, which it actually is) where we track the bird nests which are full or empty depending on the season, the snake migrations and collect deer bones.

Last week we went to a nearby state park and walked part of the way around a large lake. It was a treat for us all, and the kids played with the mushrooms and gave me heart attacks as they wended their way on the path bordered by a steep drop off into the lake with a fair bit of skill. A picnic at our halfway point and then we retraced our steps. I used to feel it was very important to make it all the way around a path/ lake/ circuit so we had Accomplished Something, but when I listened to the needs of the kids we toned it down and did some delicious backtracking. They don't understand the accomplishment of 'finishing'. They revel in welcoming old friends, like the rotting log they just climbed on, the giant mushroom they buried in leaves and now uncover, sloshing through the same river they've already sloshed through. If I follow their lead there are so few complaints, so many joys, such easy learning and being.

I don't know as much as I think I do.

Not so much joy here as panic as Pequita almost dropped my beloved and god-awfully expensive digital camera. Her first photo shoot - not bad framing for a kid who'll be three this Sunday, eh?


The kids are so rambunctious with each other right now that I am regularly pulling one off the other, separating them and sending them to separate couches/ benches/ car seats/ laps/ corners of the yard. Pequita likes to scream at the lightest of touches from her brother, trying to illicit a response from us. I am now garnering disapproving glares from the old ladies in the park when my response to her cries is, "Are you BLEEDING, honey?". Monito is more naughty at this point, and coupled with his orneriness is SUCH A TREAT.

The kids eat dinner and start to get increasingly nutsy and physical. It is a time of night that almost always results in tears and screaming. They are so tired and don't handle this transition well. No more. I have figured out that as they are crying as I get them into their jammies if I play a story on You Tube they willingly accept whatever bedtime prep I must inflict on them with an eerie calm and glassy stare. Brown Bear, Brown Bear followed by the Sound of Music hits the Antwerp train station, followed by the Pants-Free subway ride (more for Mama and I) finishing with So Long Farewell from the Sound of Music. All the while they are lolling on the beanbags in the office, which is on the landing/ hallway upstairs.

They are then pliable and snugly and go happily into our bed for stories, nursing with H-Mama and clutching - with no nursing - my dried up, less-full nye-nyes.

They willingly shift into their own bed and are off to sleep with ease.

It works for us.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Nothing is Sacred

I just heard, "Mom! Me need 'nother bag!".

Oh oh.

I went in the living room to check it out. My industrious daughter had retrieved the adult scissors and was cutting her Barbie's hair. She had filled the ziplock bag with clippings, and wanted more storage. How long until it is her own head, I wonder? They see me cut my own hair all the time.