Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Out of the mouths of babes

Mam had a playdate this afternoon. And, as usual, it was a delightful playdate, producing two happy little girls who didn't really want to part company...and who were now dressed in matching outfits, including matching headbands, just because our guest was wearing that stuff and Mam owned all the same things.

But one of the funnier parts of the afternoon came during lunch. Our guest had noticed that I'm easily distracted by my computer and kept reminding me of things. "Weren't you going to make us lunch?" "Weren't you going to take our picture?" Well, why, yes, I was, but I was distracted by that blinky thing over there.

"Why do you have a computer on your kitchen counter?"

"Um, well, that is kind of strange, isn't it?"

"We have an office."

"Yes, well, so do we, but it's upstairs."

And, I'm a crazy lady who likes to get her e-mail the instant it appears. Because that's oh-so-much more interesting than fixing lunch!

A Happy Birthday

With life largely revolving around school, soccer and other kid activities, it's sometimes hard to recognize any kind of milestones Daddy and I make ourselves. Then, of course, there's the fact that some milestones are better off ignored. That was Daddy's goal for his 40th birthday...pretend it never happened. As he likes to mention, however, turning 40 (or any milestone age) is better than the alternative.

In my typical fashion, I agonized over whether I should try and throw a party. See, I'm not the greatest party-thrower. I feel a strong need to have everything "just so". It's never "just so", so I get really stressed out and make other people miserable. I'm getting better though and I found that when I'm really motivated...and not out at Starbucks sipping lattes with my friends...I can get a heck of a lot done during the three hours Mam is at school on the weekdays. I chose to have most of the food catered at Whole Foods and managed to keep myself down to cakes, veggies, fruit and cheese...oh, and cheese sandwiches and those little cocktail weiners wrapped in crescent rolls for the kids.

I made Daddy's very favorite cake from a recipe I picked up from Epicurious.com last year. This Lemon Lattice White Chocolate Cake is awesome. I made three batches, with each one being good for a layer of sheet cake and one 9" round. That made for two cakes, but I figured that was O.K. Either we'd need more than just the sheet cake and we'd cut into the round one too, or I'd save it for his real birthday the next day (which happily turned out to be the case).The weather was supposed to be hot, so we had plenty of beer and soda. I picked up a couple big boxes of popsicles for the kids. It didn't turn out to be quite as horrible as advertised, so it was a lovely afternoon in the backyard...and the popsicles were entirely forgotten.That was especially important because I'd flogged Daddy and myself to make up for years of neglect out in the yard. He dug and overhauled while I planted flowers and ornamental cabbages. Many of the guests probably didn't know the difference, but the general lack of child-related garbage and plethora of living plants, with FLOWERS! was a huge improvement.

There was food. There was LOTS of food and I was pleased that I'd lied to the catering guy and told him I only expected 30. I didn't love all the things I'd ordered either, but there was so much, it really didn't matter. I'd spent an entire couple of weeks worrying about plates, utensils, food, guests, balloons, cakes and I managed not to get totally stressed out. I was pretty proud of myself for that alone.

Most importantly, of course, the guest of honor seemed pleased.Good cake, good company, beer. Friends from work came, friends from high school, his dad, my parents, old family friends, most of our neighbors. What more could a dad ask for from a family-themed birthday party? Happy birthday to my awesome husband who proves that some guys really do get better and better as they age.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The neighborly thing to do...

Know that saying, "Good fences make good neighbors"? Our next door neighbors don't subscribe to that philosophy. They like ivy. As a result, there's lots and lots of ivy (containing plenty of rats' nests) and one old broken down fence between our houses. If we had a dog, it'd be in their yard all the time. It's a bone of contention, as you might imagine. We also have issues with our big old oak tree that overhangs their chimney. None of those things give me warm fuzzy feelings about our neighbors. Neither does the owl box they strapped to their chimney. If any owl decides to take up residence there, it'll be right next to our bedroom and will doubtlessly drive us insane.

Still, as a granola-y kind of girl myself, I understand a lot of our neighbor's motivations, even if they conflict with my own. And Mr. Neighbor is a nice guy who makes a point of organizing the annual block parties and getting to know all the kids. The other weekend, he came over because he wanted to show the kids what he'd found in his backyard. I think perhaps Mrs. Neighbor was not as enthralled as he knew the kids would be and he was pretty excited himself.Mam looks pretty excited, doesn't she? You can't really tell what this is until you see it close up, but this is one of the neatest insects around and I didn't even know that they lived around here.Do we have some cool neighbors, or what?

Lighting and Blue Butterflies

Well, that's quite a title there, isn't it? It's all about soccer, the Fall sport of choice in our household. Mam is playing for the first time this year since she's finally old enough to be eligible here.

Smunch, of course, is also playing soccer...for his third year in a row. Although there are two full teams of second graders from Smunch's school, he ended up on a team with just two kids from his school, neither of whom are friends, particularly. Most of the kids are from another school entirely. Fortunately, they and their parents seem to be really nice and we're having a good time. At the first practice, they were given their uniforms. I'm always excited to find out what color they are...possibly more excited than Smunch is. This year's jersey:What color is that? Seriously though, if they had to ge the weird pixelated jersey, those are a pretty cool combination of colors. And they've named themselves The Lightning (or Lightening, if you ask the coach's wife to spell it. I think that's a hair product.) Now that I look at it again, I think The Plague might've been an appropriate name.His season is well underway. The Lightning's record is 0-1-1 so far. Smunch seems happy enough with that. For my part, I can barely watch the games. They've become so competitive that I get all tense. And this year one kid is goalie in each quarter. So far, they haven't scored while Smunch has been goalie. Thank goodness...although it'll be interesting to see how he deals with that.Do you think it looks like he's singing "The Wheels on the Bus"? I do. He didn't think that was funny when I pointed it out to him, however.

And then, there are the Blue Butterflies.Do you suppose that's a team of kindergarten girls? How would you ever guess?

Mam is so ridiculously, almost embarrassingly in her element that although her team has played the same two games as Smuch's team, she has scored 11 goals. The Blue Butterflies are so far 2-0-0. Go figure. She's feisty, she knows what she's up to and she's got a big brother who's been dominating her with the soccer ball for at least two years now. Think she's proud of herself?You bet she is. And I'm sure she's just itching to get back out on the field this Saturday too.

During the last game, after she'd scored 4 or 5 goals, her daddy dutifully directed her not to score anymore and to pass the ball to teammates instead. She said "O.K." and ran back out there. The result was hysterical. Her MO was almost unchanged except that when she got to the goal, she stood there and looked around, with no one to pass to. The first time, she tried to pass, but her teammates missed it. After that, she just stood there, inches from the goal, not sure what to do. She scored two or three more times while trying her very best not to. It was painfully funny. Because there's just no stopping this girl. Really.

Summer's Last Gasp

It's been weeks since I've posted and summer was officially over two days ago. The blog posts are piling up in my head, but that's not a very reliable place to keep them, especially these days.

It was another summer with a bountiful harvest, especially of tomatoes. Early in the season, I lamented that they looked like they had blossom end rot. Some of them did, but even those were salvageable.I love to take pictures of my vegetables just because it somehow makes life seem so colorful and serene...even when it's kind of bland and decidedly not serene at all.

To finish up our summer, we headed out to the ballpark one more time on Labor Day. We got to see the Giants' new pitcher, Brad Penny. We got to see him pretty up close and personal, actually since our seats were about 20 rows up from the bullpen.He's one intimidating-looking dude. The kids came prepared. Although Mam refused to wear her new Giants hat, both of them had insisted on painting their own signs for the event. Not necessarily pretty, but they did the job and how could they be that unattractive with such ethusiastic fans under them?It was a good game. I hadn't wanted to bring Mam because she was predictably pretty annoying. But she was pretty cute for an hour or so. By the end, she only wanted to go home. And home was brought to us by this guy, the Giants' closer, Brian Wilson.We're not always so generous in our praise of Mr. Wilson in our household, but he did a fine job on Labor Day and made the whole trip worthwhile. Thanks, Brian!

I would have loved to take Smunch to see the Giants play the Cubs (one of his other favorite teams) this weekend, but with so many other potential activities and invites, it just wasn't in the cards for us. Maybe next year...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Just Short of a Miracle

It's Saturday. School has been in session for 2-1/2 weeks now and things are humming along. I even got some contract work. And the Giants are still in the running to make the playoffs this year. That means we're all happy, even if the first colds of the season have already started.

So, today, we went out to breakfast, stopped by the pottery painting store to add Mam's artwork to a platter for her teacher (Yes, already. Her teacher decided to get married in September and then take two weeks off for a honeymoon. Whatever.), then headed home where Smunch patiently bided his time until the Giants' 1:05pm start time for today.

Wait, actually it wasn't so patient because I decided to use that time to teach Smunch how to tie shoes. And we practiced and practiced and practiced. Naturally, the pesky younger sister had to butt in and learn too. And naturally, she was a quicker study than he was. And that was awfully annoying. I succeeded to some degree, but more practicing and coaching is clearly in order.

As soon as Smunch could show me that he could tie a shoe by himself, I let him turn on the game. The TV, as usual, was tuned to PBS. And that's when something miraculous happened. Smunch was distracted from changing the channel by a Nova show about black holes. Not only was he distracted, but he watched an entire 45 minutes of the show. Now, admittedly, it was a pretty darned interesting Nova episode. But there was BASEBALL. He missed a whole 45 minutes of his favorite team playing to learn about physics and space! Oh. My. Gosh.

Fortunately, he's still completely jazzed to go to the game we've got tickets for on Monday...to the point where he says, "I just can't wait 'til Monday" several times a day. But there was a light in that tunnel today, a chink in the baseball armor. He really is interested in other things too. Yay.

The Giant's win today was also just short of a miracle. Gack. They don't do anything the easy way.