Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Did you know that this is the time of year when birds molt? That's right. They lose their feathers right about now. And do you know how I know that? You may be thinking that it's from all the years I spent volunteering at bird rehabilitation clinics. It's true. I did that. I even raised ducks for awhile and released them into the wild...but that was after all their feathers came in. They weren't around long enough for feathers to fall out.

Nope. I know that birds are molting because I have a little girl who is obsessed with feathers. In fact, on our recent trip to Shoreline Park with AK and Spencer (see previous post) I think Mam picked up enough feathers to make her own goose out of cardboard, toothpicks and her massive collection.

It turns out that Canada geese are champions at losing feathers in the spring. Apart from all of the pathways at the park being liberally coated in goose poop, they were coated in big, black feathers (which, likely as not, were also coated with goose poop). This particular goose looks a little concerned that perhaps Mam is making off with one of her offspring.

So, what, you might ask, are we doing with our stroller-full of feathers? Well, they're currently sitting on the patio table, waiting for a strong gust of wind to blow them away while I pretend to collect cardboard and toothpicks...

A.K. and Little S Come to Visit

You couldn't hold the anticipation down as the day of Aunt Karen's arrival got near. Smunch is particularly enamored with AK and Mam thinks she's pretty cool too. This time, as in a couple of visits past, the show was stolen by my sister's own adorable little boy, Spencer, who is cute as a button and now interactive enough that all three kids have a blast together, even if Spencer is following behind at a sprinting crawl.

He thought Smunch and Mam, in particular, were hysterical. They were his entertainment every time he got in the car. Glad I'm not to one who has to drive him around solo in the coming weeks!

AK and Spencer spent an entire week with us and, as usual, I'm not really sure where all the time went or what was the most fun. Honestly, the fun started when we picked AK and Little S up at the airport. Mam insisted on carrying Spencer's car seat while Smunch had AK's suitcase full of bricks...or something equally as heavy.

We went to a Beach Party concert in one of the local parks and packed ourselves a picnic dinner. That was a lot of fun! The kids ran around like maniacs, dancing and doing somersaults. They even went up front to join in some of the "real" dance moves.

We also went to the Ice Cream Zoofari fundraiser at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo in San Jose. I like to go to that one because it supports Hope Home Services, which provided early intervention services for Smunch for his first 3 years of life, but also because Happy Hollow is fun and this event features as much free ice cream as you can eat. Yum! It was just a bonus to have AK and Spencer along for the event. Even Gram and Grandpa joined us!

We decided to risk Spencer crying when we put him on this firetruck ride. I told Mam to take good care of him and make sure he was happy. Her solution? Tickle him whenever his smile started to fade. At least it kept the little guy happy...and made his first ride without Mommy a success!

As silly as it sounds, one of the best experiences of the visit was that promised photo shoot at Sears. After such brilliant school photos, I'd wanted to get some decent pictures of the kids anyway and AK's visit made it the perfect time to get some portraits of the kids with their cousin. I sound excited, but the truth is, it was the regular pain in the butt of getting the kids to look all perfect, then fixing it all when we got there.

Mam refused to let me put the pretty bow back in her hair. I forgot that I'd been thinking of trying to conceal the scar on her forehead. Oh well. They got some great shots, but the only ones of Smunch by himself were lousy. They were nice enough to shoot a couple more that turned out pretty good. Spencer cried when the photographer decided he was done with the rocking horse prop. The kids ran up and down the hall outside the studio squealing and throwing their belongings. BUT, it was so exciting to get some neat pictures of the kids, that it almost seems like it wasn't painful at all! Fortunately, Mam put off getting a giant purple goose egg in the middle of her forehead until this morning.

Speaking of geese, we took a walk out at Shoreline Park and found it overrun with Canada geese. And if you know Canada geese, you know the place was also overrun by goose poop. That was a nice, relaxing little trip after the big photo shoot day. I'll blog a little more about that in a different post.

After a breakfast, marred only by poor service, one cranky old woman and the crashing of one little Mam into the corner of a neighboring table (don't ask. I don't know how it happened), it was finally time for AK to pack herself and Spencer up and start the journey back to San Diego. Thank goodness we'll be driving down there in just a few weeks!

It was a busy week of visiting. I'm sure Spencer was a little tuckered out from all that attention, but I don't doubt he knows he's ADO(RED). And AK? Yeah, she's adored too!

The meaning of "Potty Trained"

Mam is a very opinionated little girl (hence the name). She's fiercely independent about certain things, but since the world actually revolves around her, she also decides that she's patently not capable of certain things. Lately, I've been fairly sure that included potty training. At 3-1/4 she's...sorta potty trained. But she hit the nail on the head the other night when she tottered up to me grabbing herself in that telltale way that says her undies are wet. Know what she said?

"Mommy. You forgot to take me potty!"

Yup. All my fault. Clearly I'm not quite potty trained.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What it means to be a "grown up"

This just in from Mam:

"Someday, I'm going to be a grown up...and I going to clean the litter box!"

Go for it, kiddo!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Am I Martha Stewart or what? We finally managed to pick most of the apricots off of one of our apricot trees over the weekend. Last year, our harvest consisted of one apricot, which I duly cut into quarters so that each of us could appreciate a tiny little piece of it. As you can see, this year's harvest turned out...uh...differently.

In fact, we are now drowning in hundreds of ripe and semi-ripe apricots. There are still a number on the tree. And there's a whole tree we didn't touch because none of its apricots were ripe yet. Fortunately, there aren't that many on the second one! What does one do with this much fruit? Well, it's tasty, so we've eaten quite a lot of it, but see this picture of the pile of apricots in the basket? I think that represents about a tenth of all the apricots we picked. We've got *bags* of them.

Well, what would Martha do? Well, she'd make jam, of course! After realizing I didn't have a clue how to make jam...I didn't even know where to get jars...I took a trip to our friendly neighborhood OSH. After all, a store named "Orchard Supply" ought to have this kind of thing, right? Right. Two days and a lot of boiling water later, I've got jars and jars of the most delicious apricot jam ever. I'm giving it away (if you read this, you're local and you want some, drop on by!), but you know, I ate toast for lunch today, just so I could eat some jam and I think I might just drink the stuff. Yummmmeeeeee!!!

Oh, and the only thing I have to say about the kids in this post is that they love apricots, but Mam won't touch the jam and it looks like after downing one piece of apricot jam toast, Smunch has decided to stick with strawberry as well. Seriously. Whose kids are these??

Splish! Splash!

One of my favorite things to do with the kids is to take them to the park, or the library or even out in the backyard and let them play in the water. It's not just that it makes for colorful pictures that I can post to my blog. There's just so much unadulterated glee involved! I can't remember the last time the kids fought while running around in water. I'm not sure it's ever happened. It's worth it to stop and think just how much fun I thought it was to run through the sprinklers as a kid.

But water is often accompanied by mud. And mud is often some form of artwork all over my floor and the bathroom sink, it's easy to see how letting the kids get wet might not be worthwhile. In fact, the floor has been cleaned three times in the last two days. (Those of you who are familiar with my home-cleaning abilities will know that this was a major, major effort on my part.) But with a little careful planning, including sunscreen, swimsuits, towels, a change of clothes and ample snacks...preferable all taken away from home, we all have a great time.

These photos were taken at the water feature of the local park. In theory, we went to the park to listen to a band play, but at least I was prepared for the inevitable trip to the water. When I tell Mam it's too cold to go out and get all wet, she never fails with this particular line these days: "But I want to get freezing cold!" Fortunately, it was plenty warm for frolicking in the water this weekend. She came out freezing cold anyway, but she was awfully happy about it!

Berry Picking!

Who knew there was anywhere around here where you could pay a bunch of money and pick your own berries? Well, someone did because she told me...and my whole mom's group. They scheduled a group outing to the berry patch, but it conflicted with Mam's last day of school, so we went on Saturday. Turns out it was a whole lot cooler than it had been on Thursday anyway.

We had a great time. The kids didn't even seem too bored after an hour and a half of picking logan berries, blackberries and raspberries. Of course, they ate a few here and there too. Mam didn't really want to pick her own berries. She just wanted to carry the basket and let me pick all the berries.

Perhaps the best part of the whole trip was the yummy berry pie we got to eat the next day. We might've spent $15 on berries, but when you consider it as entertainment for a family of four for an hour and a half, it's money well spent!

Last Days

I never realized quite what a bittersweet time of year the end of school is for parents. It's not just that you suddenly have to come up with entertainment for the summer, but you get to know and trust the kids' teachers. And, of course, it was Smunch's very last year of preschool, so that held some particular significance.

Smunch's school doesn't have a preschool graduation. I guess it's a good idea really. Not all of the 5-year-olds are going to kindergarten next year. The preschool has a program for 5-year-olds as well...aka, kids who weren't quite ready for kindergarten yet. Instead of a graduation, the school holds a big party in the park. All the kids in the school are invited. It was crazy, but so much fun! There were tons of very kid-friendly games and prizes. There was a bounce house, of course, and a funny, inflatable caterpillar that the kids could climb through and apparently get pooped out the end.

I couldn't believe they had one game that seemed especially designed for Mam. Under a little shade tent, they'd set out tubs of sand filled with "treasure" for the kids to dig for. I think she could have stayed there forever. In fact, she was there when they packed up...taking the tubs and the tent and leaving her to sift through the little mountains of sand that kids had dumped on the lawn!

And here's a photo of Smunch with his favorite teacher. It's funny. Mrs. M was kind of a severe-looking woman who actually made one of the little girls cry on the first day of school...just looking at her! She didn't put up with any BS from the kids and wasn't the warmest or snuggliest of the teachers. Throughout the year, I sometimes asked Smunch who his favorite teacher was and he always said "All of them." Finally, on the last day, it became Mrs. M. By that time, I'd realized what a terrific, caring teacher she really was too.

Mam's last day of school wasn't for another week, but it has come and gone as well. She had some warm, wonderful teachers this year and she was crazy about school. I hope that lasts! She'll be going to Smunch's school next year. I'm excited. It's so neat to watch them growing up and really starting to learn about everything. This is Mam with Miss Sandy. I don't know that she was Mam's favorite, but she was too busy fighting with Smunch over a mini beach ball to have her photo taken with her other teacher! This photo was a darned sight cuter than her official school photo!

A First Trophy

It's catch-up day again. See, I told you I couldn't keep up with this stuff, folks! In the last week or so, *so* many of the kids' activities have been wrapping up.

Perhaps Smunch's most prized new possession is the trophy he was given at the end of T-ball season. Now, T-ball is a completely non-competitive venture, but Smunch loved it...even on his off days. And he had some pretty impressive off days. But he still wants to go out in the backyard and hit the ball, so I guess alls well that ends well. He can't wait to haul out his bobble-headed trophy for every single person who steps in the house. We've been interviewing babysitters, so he had lots of opportunities to show it off. He even dragged his yet-to-be-washed Sidewinders shirt out of the laundry to show it to a babysitter yesterday. He's so proud of his team and his trophy.

Smunch really made some big strides since my last T-ball post on Opening Day. The whole team went from hitting off a tee to hitting coach-pitched balls. They figured out which direction to run and that they really wanted to catch the ball.

It was a fun season. I'm looking forward to doing it again next year...even though I'm really relieved that we don't have that commitment twice a week anymore!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dinnertime Conversation

Tonight, Smunch was in hysterics at dinnertime. This is becoming increasingly and worryingly common these days. We ate dinner without him. Don't worry. We didn't starve him. After all, it's not like he's got an ounce to spare, really. He's eating now. But...while both our kids were being quite obnoxious and I was just slightly inebriated from deciding to finish off the bottle of wine...which meant I had a whole glass instead of my regular half, the following conversation ensued:

Me: Honey, I really think we need to have another one. Three would be so much better! Don't you want another little sister, Smuch?

Smunch: No.

Me: Don't you want a little brother, Mam?

Mam: looks at me as if to say "I'd rather eat a hamburger."

Daddy: You'll have to leave me and find some other sucker to go for that.

Smunch: What are you thinking, lady???

Well, nothing really, but what was I *saying*??? Abso-freakin'-lutely nothing!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I Just Want to be a Kid

I had a pretty funny exchange with Mam last night as she went to bed. As usual, I was sitting in the rocking chair in her room with my book, when she says:

Mam: I just wanna be a kid.
Me: Oooohkay
Mam: I don't want to get any bigger that this.
Me: Really? Why don't you want to get any bigger? (Thinking this is awfully cute and going to snuggle up to her in bed)
Mam: I don't want to be as tall as this (putting her hand to my head)
Me: You don't want to be a grown up?
Mam: Oh, a Mommy?
Me: Do you want to be a Mommy?
Mam: Yeah. And I'll have bigger blueberries.
Me: (laughs)
Mam: But my shirt will be too small. I'll have to get a new shirt.

Oh, I think you really *do* just want to be a kid, little Mam. Believe me, there's more to being a mommy than bigger blueberries...and really these blueberries aren't all that impressive. But you do get to pick out your own shirts!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Trick of the Light

Our old house had a window in the living room that provided fantastic lighting for pictures. The new house doesn't have any windows that provide the right kind of light for those nicely lit portraits, but that doesn't mean we can't take great photos. The other day, Mam decided she needed more entertainment than her dinner provided and went to see what a tissue would do in front of the fan in the living room. I tried to dissuade her for a little bit, but in the end, I ran and grabbed the camera instead...shouting to Daddy to please make sure she didn't sever any digits in the meantime.

This photo reminded me of one I took of Smunch a couple of years ago. He was a couple of months short of 3-years old when I took this one. It's one of his Daddy's favorites.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Safari Close to Home

Today was kind of a weird one. It was all about the animals though. Smunch woke up early this morning. He crawled into bed with us about 6:30 and waited for his favorite morning show, Caillou, to start...asking about it every 5 minutes or so. Sometime after that (in my hazy stupor, I'm not sure when), he brought me a piece of paper and asked me to draw a vase for him. I stuck one hand out from under the covers, grabbed his black crayon and drew him a vase. It kept him happy until he was finished with this masterpiece...the inside of a 'thank you' card for his speech therapist at the school district. Today was his last day with her. Of course, the problem was that he was so busy with this artistic endeavor that he didn't want to eat breakfast!

On a side note, Smunch's much-improved speech fluency is deteriorating slowly again. Maybe the big swings in his ability to speak will get smaller, at least.

This afternoon, I took Smunch to school. We always go in the back way and there's a lovely grassy area there, surrounded by trees. Only today, it had been "decorated". It turned out the kids were going on a safari! This was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen. I dropped Smunch off and went home to get my camera. I'm not really sure I captured the scene very well. One of the other classes actually had a checklist of animals they had to find and binoculars for looking for animals. I loved the monkeys and birds hanging from the trees. There was even a family of opossums hanging from a branch. There were lizards sunning themselves on rocks, a "lake" (blue tarp) with fish, turtles and manatees. I couldn't help feeling like it would have been absolutely magical as a kid.

Smunch's class was much more of a free-for-all, with no real structured activity around this amazing set-up. Still, the kids were awfully excited and very cute. Mam, who was with me, was equally enthralled. Although it wasn't the most impressive item in the jungle, Smunch was enamored with a little peacock he found.

Smunch was pretty mystified that I'd turned up at school again. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall and observed him "in his native habitat" instead of disturbing his school day with my picture taking.

I tried to get out of there as quickly as I could, but I also remembered that this is his last Friday at preschool...ever. And on Fridays they get to play in the "far yard". I whisked Mam off for a quick trip to TJ's so we might have something to eat tonight, dropped off the groceries and headed the mommymobile to the far yard.

The far yard contains the "circlecycle". It sounds weird, but this has got to be one of the coolest things ever invented for a preschool playground. I'll bashfully admit that seeing the circlecycle in action was one of the things that sold me on this particular school. It's a really cooperative toy. Five kids can ride at a time, but they all have to get together and decide how to do it first. They can ride forward or backward, but they all have to pedal and coooperate to make it work like it's supposed to. It's true playground genius!

Of course, it's not all fun and games with the circle cycle. You don't want to be caught trying to dig the track out of the sand when someone else starts pedaling and you certainly don't want to get so curious that you stick your head in there while kids are riding at mach speed. I've noticed that some preschoolers haven't quite developed this sort of obvious common sense, but still...