From 4K Straight to Juvie

Lately I have been getting some fairly ominous reports from Kindercare about my daughter's behavior. Apparently I am raising a hoodlum. Doesn't listen. Socks kids that refuse to follow her orders (or get off the swing, or whatever the case may be). General unruliness.

Her dad's thinking is that she is fine, it's nothing to worry about. Of course, my husband could be on fire and would only be mildly concerned. It's his midwestern upbringing. My thinking tends to be a bit more "worst case scenario" in nature: in eight years I'll be visiting her in juvie. In twelve years I'll be begging some dour-faced judge for leniency on her behalf. Then she'll run off to Vegas to marry some guy whose given name is something like Leper. And then she'll celebrate the occasion by getting a tattoo on her neck. My mom calls this "slippery slope thinking" and tells me that it's a common problem for moms.

I don't want to compare my daughter to a dog, but I do think my dog training skills come into play from time to time with this child-rearing business. However, I think I've been using the wrong tactic. Operant conditioning involves punishment and reinforcement. You can punish for a bad behavior in hopes of making it go away or reinforce a good behavior in hopes of getting more of it. Negative punishment means to take away a good thing with the expected result of increasing a good behavior (or decreasing the naughty behavior). This is what we have been doing. Bad day at Kindercare = removal of a favorite toy (or something along those lines).

I've decided to give the opposite approach (positive reinforcement) a try. Threats clearly aren't working ("keep it up and you'll get no dessert"). So, I decided to try a reward chart. Good report from Kindercare = 1 sticker. 5 stickers = reward (maybe a trip to Coldstone Creamery for over-priced ice cream or something like that).

I think I'm struggling a bit with her behavior because I was always such a goody-two-shoes myself. If an adult told me to do something, I did it. My other half was a Marine so of course taking orders is not a foreign concept to him. Our kid is just so . . . feisty. I've just got to get this discipline business down now before she gets that tattoo.

Gravitational Pull

Samuel got to do something special for his birthday. Something he's been begging to do for a long time.

His big brother hooked him up with a real skateboard that didn't come out of the trash. He got to warm up the wheels at a real skateboard park with ramps, rails and quarter pipes.

Peter worked the coarse on bigger wheels.

There is a good reason that I, as a mother, hand these types of excursions over to the big brothers.

But I did do my part. I bought a set of safety gear and twisted the boy's arm to make him wear it.

He said it was embarrassing to wear knee pads.

No one else at the park (of the thirty or so thrill seekers that were there) was wearing knee pads.

I wonder if their mothers know?

Do you think I care if it's embarrassing to wear safety gear?

It's not as embarrassing as taking your kid to Emergency on his birthday with a broken wrist or knee cap.

I've birthed five boys. This isn't my first rodeo.

I understand that they have some kind of deep-seated need to test the laws of science- the effects of gravity, inertia, and velocity...

I just prefer not to be around when they are doing it.


Our daughter is having a baby.


She has some beautiful words about the anticipation and preparation.

Read them here.

Installation Dinner

Congrats to the new board and thank you to the old board for such a fantastic year. Our dinner together was lots of fun with fun food and friends. We had a great slide show of the many gatherings we have had over the last year (July 2009-June 2010). Our new board was sworn in and gifts were given to the old board and activity coordinators. Looking forward to a fun new year of great memories with our kids.

Yummy Dinner from Garcia's

Cathcing Up

Time to Eat
Thanks for being a great President!

June Business Meeting

What a fun business meeting we had. We had a great turn out with it being election time for the new board and a pot-luck. The kids had a blast in the playroom while the moms voted after their meeting. We then all got together for the pot-luck.
Congrats to the new are going to do a great job.
Movie Time

Fun Rocking Chair

Fun with Friends
Pot Luck Fun

Lots of kids...lots of fun!

Good Times

Our third born child, Neal, has reached a major milestone in his life.

Five years ago he joined the apprenticeship program for training as an electrician. His studious determination, industrious work ethic and perseverance has paid off.

He got his journeyman's card.

We decided to celebrate the achievement with a party.
Neal invited his co-workers, bosses, family, friends, church and baseball buddies.
We had great,--- perfect weather....

...Spectacular food....

...friendly fellowship...




....young people...

.....awesome music....

....Good Times.

I've been trying ALL day to upload some music from our party including a song that was written just for Neal. Blogger is just...just....a bad word. If we achieve any kind of success I will share some of the great music with you. Otherwise, in the future, Kris is putting together a cool video from the evening that you can see.

Summer Goals - how goes it?

I thought I should revisit my summer goals and see how I'm doing. Okay, let's review:

1. See a live concert. Not yet. I'm still working on that one. I started by looking up the tour schedules for some of my favorite bands. As luck would have it, they are primarily touring Europe. My other half doesn't seem to think I need to fly to Belgium to see Gossip or to jet to Norway to see Caribou. To hell with him - what does he know? He can't keep me under his thumb, man.
2. Purchase and prepare a vegetable that is unfamiliar to me. Not yet. I came perilously close to procuring a massive kohlrabi at the farmers' market last week, but I chickened out at the last minute. So far, snap peas are about as exotic as I've gotten.
3. Work on leaving the dogs uncrated while we're not home. Yes! We made the leap of faith and all three dogs are now crate-free during the day. The only mishap we've had so far was that someone pulled a few alphabet letters off the fridge and chewed the shit out of them.
4. Get back to my goal weight. Not even close. I really don't know what's wrong with me or why I've allowed this situation to spin so far out of control. I've decided to recommit to Weight Watchers and track my eating more carefully. Starting now.

I should've added a fifth goal, which is to grow grass in my back yard. This is a battle I wage every summer. I've actually been moderately successful this year, though I did cheat a little by buying a few rolls of sod. I'm also growing some tomatoes, which I've never attempted before. A co-worker gave me a tomato plant that she'd grown from seed. All I really have to do is keep it alive. So far, so good.

I'll leave you with a song. The kid and I have been stuck on this song for a few days now. She has been singing it so I thought I'd better l0ok up the lyrics. It turns out they are completely innocuous, so I think I'm safe. I always have flashbacks to the time my sister convinced my niece that Gwen Stefani was singing about her "ship" in Hollaback Girl. Uh-huh, that's my ship. All the girls stomp your feet like this.

Tunes to sweat by

So, now that we've tackled the topic of assisted suicide, let's talk about something else very important, shall we? Namely, my workout playlist. I created this playlist fairly recently. Prior to that, I would listen to my iPod in shuffle mode at the gym and then just click the wheel if the song wasn't what I wanted. However, it really does throw a wrench in your workout when you are thumping away on the treadmill and Andrea Bocelli comes on. Andrea Bocelli truly make me swoon - don't get me wrong. He just doesn't pump out the beats, ya'll. Also, I listen to my iPod on the bike trail (safety be damned!) and it's harder to click past "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" (A's song, not mine) when I'm riding. Hence, the need for an exercise-specific playlist.

I feel like my playlist could be a lot better. So, I'm taking suggestions. I'm going to post the list in its entirety here. There are a few selections that I should really delete in order to save myself some embarrassment, but for the sake of honesty, I will include all of the songs.

Sleepyhead Passion Pit
Keep the Car Running Arcade Fire
Heart It Races Architecture In Helsinki
I Can't Wait Nu Shooz
Dog Days Are Over Florence + The Machine
Dimestore Diamond Gossip
Dancing Choose TV On the Radio
Girls Just Want to Have Fun Starfucker
Gold Guns Girls Metric
Hang Fire The Rolling Stones
Spiralling Keane
I'm Good, I'm Gone Lykke Li
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da The Police
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) Arcade Fire
Come Around (feat. Timbaland) M.I.A.
Help I'm Alive Metric
Tell 'Em Sleigh Bells
Kids Sleigh Bells
Strike It Up Black Box
Strangelove Depeche Mode
Johnny Come Home Fine Young Cannibals
Heavy Cross Gossip
Valerie Loves Me Material Issue
Pon de Replay Rihanna
Hey Ya!
Tame Pixies
Panic Switch Silversun Pickups
Hippychick Soho
And the Cradle Will Rock... Van Halen
I Know What I Know Paul Simon
That's Not My Name The Ting Tings
Get Rhythm NRBQ
Summertime Clothes Animal Collective
Odessa Caribou
Survival Car Fountains Of Wayne
Whisper to a Scream The Icicle Works
Mr. Brightside The Killers
Fine Time New Order
I Don't Feel Like Dancin' Scissor Sisters
O.N.E. Yeasayer
I Touch Roses Book of Love
Hot Hot Hot!!! The Cure
You Hands (Together) The New Pornographers
Great DJ The Ting Tings
Lights Out Santogold
Sound Gun Aceyalone
All the Small Things Blink-182
Tubular Bells Book of Love
Bang On The Breeders
Fresh Devo
Lose Yourself Eminem
Your Petty Pretty Things The Get Up Kids
Sour Cherry The Kills
Crash Years The New Pornographers
Shut Up and Let Me Go The Ting Tings
Hungry Like The Wolf Duran Duran
Don't Bring Me Down Electric Light Orchestra
Everybody Wants You Billy Squier
Personal Jesus Depeche Mode
Love Long Distance Gossip
Country Grammar
Situation Yaz
Ambling Alp Yeasayer
I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend to Dance with You
Black Kids
Groove Is In the Heart Deee-Lite
Come Anytime Hoodoo Gurus
B.O.B. OutKast
Infinity Guitars Sleigh Bells
Crown On the Ground Sleigh Bells
Let the Music Play Shannon
Riot Rhythm Sleigh Bells
The Most Wonderful Girl Lords of Acid
Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk The New Pornographers
Wake Up Arcade Fire
Shake Your Body The Jacksons
The '59 Sound The Gaslight Anthem
Track 12*

*You're not accusing me of having bootlegged music on my iPod are you? Yeah, I didn't think so.


It's 83 degrees outside!!

It's sunny, breezy, and 83 degrees!! Ahhhh....summer...

Took you long enough!

I made my first iced coffee of the summer!

And I am....inside....the kitchen.....baking. But of course!
I'm not complaining because I'm making money, right?

I looked out the window and saw that these peonies had popped open in the sunshine!
Yesterday their buds were still closed. I've been impatiently watching them. This is the best bloom they have ever had. I was inspired to plant them after visiting Butchart Gardens nine years ago (already?) and seeing the same variety there. I fell in love immediately and found some to plant at home. They've only produced one or two flowers in the past. I'm so happy to finally see them!

This weekend I have two weddings. One is cheesecake and cobbler.
I have two cheesecakes down, three to go. I forgot that I'll have to let these completely chill before I can remove them and start again with the next batch. Oops.

The other wedding is a small cake. The bride just asked me, four days before the event, to make more cake for more guests. Only today has the flavor been finalized. I'm also getting calls about more weddings. Someone was hoping to me meet tomorrow. Um. No. Sorry.

We are also having a huge party on Sunday. We are celebrating Neal's turning out. Yes, he turned out well but he's also turning out. As a journeyman electrician. He's inviting everyone he knows. His friends, their parents, his co-workers and boss, our relatives, church family and baseball buddies. There's going to be beer, bocci, and birthday cake too. (His birthday is Saturday.) We're counting on live music from friends with talent. We're also counting on Good Weather.

We're going to have another work party blitz because with possibly a hundred people in our yard we need to spruce things up a bit. Find some tables, clean the grill... and the bathroom.

When Neal issued his invitations he often got the response "Is your mom going to cook?" When he said, yes, they replied "We'll be there!"

Um. No pressure.

So though it's a potluck party I'm also cooking food for a crowd.
I've got a hundred chicken legs that I'll marinate to make Lemony Garlic Chicken. I'll also make the easiest scalloped potatoes in the world. The large birthday cake is baked- Neal's favorite- orange cake with pineapple cream icing. Potato salad, black bean salad, and

So what am I doing here? I need to get busy!

The Suicide Tourist

I'll be the first to admit, a lot of what I watch on TV is total poop. For a college-educated, NPR-listening, liberal-leaning, theater-loving, wine-sipping type like myself, it's almost a bit surprising how low I'll sink (not "Jersey Shore" low - more like "Cops" low). My mom got me hooked on "Operation Repo" and now I cannot look away when it is on. (I've you've seen it and have caught a glimpse of Sonia, you know why.) Pawn Stars? I'm on it like white on rice. Dr. Phil? I'm there.

However, every so often I catch a documentary or program that sticks with me for days. I felt that way after watching "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till" a couple years ago. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. I love documentaries. The older I get, the more non-fiction appeals to me. Last night, I happened to catch "The Suicide Tourist" on PBS. This was apparently not the original airing, but it is a fairly recent program.

The Suicide Tourist depicts the final journey of a man named Craig Ewert. He is diagnosed with ALS and within months his quality of life plummets. He cannot breathe without the aid of a machine. His limbs are largely useless to him. He turns to Dignitas, a Swiss organization that facilitates assisted suicides. Mr. Ewert and his wife fly to Zurich, where he soon ends his life in an apartment there.

The documentary is straightforward, deftly filmed, and does not wander into sentimentality. I was able to watch it dry-eyed yet fascinated. I was touched by the grace and clearheadedness of this obviously intelligent couple. In his last moments, Mr. Ewert drinks an overdose of a sleeping agent, pentobarbitol. Mrs. Ewert is at his side all the while. As Beethoven plays in the background, he drifts off to sleep and then his breathing machine clicks off as scheduled (it was on a timer). A representative from Dignitas confirms that the patient has died.

The film certainly left me with swirling thoughts and emotions. When I was younger, I was mostly in favor of capital punishment. If you killed someone, I reasoned that you'd lost the right to carry on yourself. However, as I got older, things got murky. A lot of people in prison are, as it turns out, innocent (or at least innocent of the crime for which they've been convicted). Thank you, DNA technology (and I say that with no sarcasm). It's frightening to wonder how many people have been executed in error. While I'm not sure quite how to process the fact that some criminals readily confess and even ask for death, it's clear to me that the justice system is imperfect. And you shouldn't stake someone's life on something that is, at the end of the day, even just a little bit iffy.

Suicide is, of course, a horse of a different color. Really, it is not my place to judge someone who ends their own life. Suicide is a permanent solution to what may well be a temporarily problem (depression, teenage angst, etc.) Suicide is largely preventable, if the right resources are in place. But when a terminal illness is involved, who am I to say that some stricken person should be required to carry on? When it comes to assisted suicide, or euthanasia, I'm not sure that Dr. Kevorkian did the movement any favors. He's kind of, well, creepy. Watching Craig Ewert's death, though, I was touched by how quiet and dignified his death was. I have to think it happened just how he wished (though I'm sure his first wish would have been not to have a terminal illness).

I know many feel that it's somehow wrong to make a conscious decision to end one's own life, that it should be left to God to decide when that day is. However, I've noticed that many of those same people have no issue at all choosing an induction or cesarean date when pregnant. I wonder why it's acceptable to choose the date on which a human enters the world, but not to choose the exit date.

Much to ponder, much to ponder. The full video is available online. Check it out if you get a chance.

On the farm today

I found these pictures on my camera.

It's what happens when little kids get a hold of it.
I actually think they are pretty good shots.

You know goats only have one thing on their minds. Always.
Mine! Mine!

Hey! Is that all?

A Wild Wedding

The preparations that I do before a wedding do not all require the use of flour, sugar, butter and chocolate.

Sometimes I have to build things with cardboard and paper and glue.

Last week in addition to baking one hundred red velvet cupcakes, one cappuccino cheesecake, chocolate cake for 115 and 141 strawberry shortcakes I had to build a customized cupcake display.

The wedding had a very specific theme and color palette. Red and black. Leopard print.

At the initial consultation meeting with the bride and her mother I was shown a very high, spike heeled shoe in faux leopard fur with a red bow on the toe. The shoes were for the nine bridesmaids. They also brought me leopard print cupcake papers to use for the red velvet cupcakes. Later they sent me five yards of leopard print ribbon to use on the cupcake display.

Here's the wild finished display at the wedding venue yesterday.

As I was setting up, the photographer was doing a shoot with the bridal party. The nine girls walked by (some stumbled in their tall shoes on the brick pathway through the gardens) in their wedding finery. I have to say that I thought they looked kinda like cocktail waitresses. The dresses were very short (mid-thigh) black numbers with a flounced skirt that had a red underskirt. The bodice was fitted, sleeveless, and V-neck. They all clutched red roses. Remember the shoes were faux leopard fur with red bows on the toe. Quite a parade through the garden I must say.

Continuing with the leopard print, even the cappuccino cheesecake had the pattern in chocolate.

The cupcakes in their papers were simply adorned with red and black sugar.

To each his (her) own. I don't expect to do another wedding quite like this one.