Samson and Delilah

Getting ready for their recital.

Coachella Part II

So two days after I wrote that last post, at about 10:15pm, we got a call from the SAME people that rented our house out the first weekend of Coachella, that they wanted to come out and do it again. Starting the next day. So we packed up, cleaned up and left all over again.

I think I've almost caught up.  When we rent it out, we lock up our office, so it sort of ended up being the dumping spot for all of our junk we didn't want out.  I need to clean that up (it's seriously looks a lot like the playroom normally does with the toys, but with office and art supplies mixed in...all over everything) and then I'm done.  YAY!!

My little garden has been going CRAZY lately.  We've been going out for months, picking tomatoes and strawberries every 3-4 days...but just a few at a time.  In my head I was adding up what I paid to plant the garden thinking, "wow.  what a great deal.  so far we are at about 5 bucks per strawberry."

THEN, it got hot.  We happened to ignore it for 1 week, and came back to this:

It still amazes me how things can just grow.  I love it. We ignored it another week (the second week of Coachella) and I picked just as many.

Now if you LOOK at the garden itself you'd get good laugh.  It's hideous.  1 bed of weakling strawberries, 1 bed of herbs that grew so big, they look like mini-trees and I physically can't pull them out.  And the of course weeds.  Everywhere.  But I learned a lot this year, so I hope next year it'll even be better.

A lovely day.

We spent yesterday at The Museum of Nature with some dear friends from London: Kerri and her family.  Afterwards, we all came home to an Argentine BBQ.  The girls had lots of fun, and the adults did too!  I had such a good time that I forgot to take pictures.  Pookie was up to his usual antics.  And we wished we could make the day last longer.

Today our friends Carol and Andre are coming over.  When I told Carol we had tons of leftovers, she jumped at the chance.  I guess she thinks I am a good cook!  Pookie is at the groomers, he was overdue for a haircut (but it's been so cold we kept postponing it).

Life is good.  We are hoping to go visit our friends Kerri and Jeff in July, when we have some trips planned close by.  My Kerri is already counting the days.

Life with Kerri is blessed to have wonderful friends.

My First Auction

Our city held an auction today. The auction featured over 400 bikes and a bunch of household stuff like VCRs (those went for a whole dollar each), rusty chains, and a snowman decoration for the lawn. It's all property that has been held by the police department for the past year. I'm not sure of any details beyond that. I'm guessing a lot of it is stolen property that was never claimed. I went to the auction more out of curiosity than anything else. P didn't ask for a bike, and hasn't indicated any interest whatsoever in owning a bike, but my goal (naturally!) was to get him a bike. I headed to our local fairgrounds and registered for the auction at 8 a.m.. It was something like 40 degrees and the auction was held inside an uninsulated metal building with all of the overhead doors left open. Suddenly, my cute floral flats were starting to seem like a pretty bad idea.

I was given bidding number 128.  I dug a pen out of my purse and started writing down the numbers for bikes that I thought might work for my husband. I also picked out a couple of women's bikes, although I wasn't specifically focused on getting a bike for myself since I already have one. Some of the bicycles were really nice - good brands like Trek, Cannondale, etc. Some of the bikes were rusty beyond all recognition. A couple bikes had biohazard stickers on them, placed there by the police department. I tried not to think about that too much. ("Mommy, is this dried blood on my new bike???") I also spotted a couple of possibilities for my daughter. She has a bike as well, but I thought it might be a good idea to get the next size up for when she gets a little older.

At 9:00, I made may to the bleachers and found a seat. I looked around and made a few observations about the predominantly male crowd. One, I seemed to be the only bidder without a trucker's hat advertising a taxidermy shop and/or hunting/fishing stuff (or even my preferred gun manufacturer). Two, I haven't worn a hole in my back pocket from putting my can of chewing tobacky there. And three, I was the only one wearing floral flats.  Since this was a first time at an auction, I thought I'd better get the scoop from a more seasoned bidder. As luck would have it, Grizzly Adams was sitting next to me and seemed to know what he was doing. Guys with mega beards are always super friendly - I think it's in their handbook or something. He explained to me how the bidding works and gave me a rough idea of how much the bikes usually go for.

Then, I basically just froze my ass and feet off while waiting for the numbers I had on my list. I saw bikes go for $2.50 to $100.  It was a tricky affair.  My biggest fear about the whole thing was not being able to understand the auctioneer. The truth is, I was totally unable to understand the auctioneer. Fear confirmed. I listened carefully and heard, "C'MON, FOLKS. BEEDA BEEDA BEEDA BEEDA SOLD!"  I was afraid that I'd bid on a bike and then head to the check-out table only to hear, "Okay, ma'am, your total for this bike with no chain and one wheel is . . . $547.50."

I bid on the first bike on my list, but the bidding quickly got out of my price range. I made a couple more attempts, before ending up with a $5.00 bike for my husband. Hey, at least he can't yell at me for spending too much money. About an hour later, I scored a bike for my daughter. It looked practically brand new!  I had my eye on a bike for myself, but they still had another 150 to go before getting to that one and, since I could no longer feel my feet, I thought it best that I called it a day.

It was an interesting little adventure. Now that I know how it works, I may go next year as well. You just never know when you might need a Leann Rimes CD (seriously, that was one of the item's in today's auction) or a ten-year-old hard drive.

Pictures of our changes, as promised.

Here is the new basement family room:

With the office now in a corner.  Pookie has his tennis ball ready.

And here is our new living room set:

with our eco-friendly carpet and second hand coffee/end tables.

All that is left to do is paint the walls, and hang some art!

And pick up Pookie's balls and bones, which are everywhere.

Life with Kerri had fun moving things around.

Kerri writes a letter.

I copied the text here and corrected spelling in some cases to make it easier to read:

"Ten more minets please!

March 22, 2012

Dear Mrs. Richard:

We would like recess to be 10 minutes longer.  Why you may ask?  Let me explain.  So we can have more exercise.  So teachers have more time to plan.  So we can burn off all our energy and we will be calm and quiet.  We will learn how to share and learn more skills.  The teacher will have more time to check our work.  We have 10 more minutes to have fun.  We would be the most popular school in the world if we had 10 more minutes to play outside."

Life with Kerri wonders if Mrs. Richard was convinced.

Spring Splendor

We are currently experiencing my favorite time of year. It is the pinnacle of spring, when the millions of orchard trees in our valley are erupting with flowers, creating a blooming panorama and scenting the air.

Most landscape vistas in the springtime become verdant and green after a long grey winter but in our valley the trees are not green but white. Sometimes they are pale pink.

I've blogged about this time of year every year since I have begun blogging. I'm sorry to be so redundant but I just never get tired of seeing this breathtaking display of beauty every April. I can't stop photographing it and I feel compelled to share it.

Last weekend was the annual Blossom Festival and this year the blooms popped open right on time. The last couple of years they were late and tourists were disappointed. The big bonus was that for three days, right over the weekend, we had eighty degree weather and sunshine that burned our wintery pallor away.

All that summer foreshadowing just intensified the craving to garden and Blossom Festival is the best time to feed that habit. All over the valley are plant sales that offer perennials, shrubs and trees for screaming deals. I had to get my fix and, after all, I have all this landscaping to restore after our house remodel destroyed what used to be.

One of the places I like to visit is a farm that only the locals know about. It has one of the best views in the valley. It is positively Swiss in charm!

The lady of the farm is a master gardener and in the spring she offers propagations from her own extensive gardens.

I also went to my favorite shrubbery sale and brought home a truckload of possibility. I love it when a truckload of possibility costs only a third of the usual.

I immediately planted some new rhododendrons under the fir tree where overgrown lilacs used to dominate. I also couldn't resist a topiary and a pencil holly.

This was a great find- a Japanese maple with beautiful red colored bark that I'm told looks stunning in the winter with a snowy background. I need to find just the perfect place for this beauty.

The springtime splendor of our valley makes all the waiting through the winter rain and gloom worthwhile.

Midlife parenting.

When I was a young girl, I always pictured myself as being married and having kids at a very young age - like in my 20's.  I never fathomed I would first become a mom just two months shy of my 40th birthday.  And I have to admit, when we first started thinking about adopting, I told my husband that I wanted to be a mom before I turned 40.  If I reached that age childless, well then, it was meant to be that I would never have children. 

As a midlife parent, I think I have better tools and skills than when I was in my 20's.  I had the time to enjoy my career and marriage before kids.  I travelled and pretty much did whatever I wanted.  And I am much more mellow.  So I have no regrets, and am not missing much of anything.

But sometimes I worry if I will see Kerri graduate college, get married, and have children of her own.  As the birthdays approach, I wonder if I will still be able to take care of her (and not the other way around) when she is a young adult.  I never thought or worried about mortality and/or health in my 20's - because back then I had all the time in the world! 

Regardless, Kerri keeps me young.  She keeps me on my toes and reminds me what it was like to be a kid all over again.  I get to enjoy parenting, without stress, and totally prepared (well, as much as one can be) for motherhood.  You see, I got to practice on all my nieces and nephews first, study child psychology, and read countless parenting books - way before motherhood.  Kerri was not only planned, I waited over twenty years for her!  And so far, I have enjoyed every second, minute, and hour she has been a part of our family.  Especially when she says I am old. :o)   

Life with Kerri is grateful for every precious moment.

What happened to Spring?

Just when I put away all our cold weather gear, winter decided to show up for one last hurrah yesterday.  We got snow, freezing rain, cold temperatures, lots of wind, and then constant rain all day.  The snow melted finally, but it was still 36 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, windy, rainy and did I mention cold?  I think my spring flowers might not survive.

We are looking forward to having company this weekend!  Our friends Kerri and Jeff and their two girls are making the 6-7 hour car trip to come visit us!  We are hoping for warmer weather so we can have our first Argentine BBQ this year - Canadian style.

And if you remember the Canadian Squirrel Brigade, they are back.  Even though we have a new roof and attic.  So far the only things in my attic are grown men and traps.  Oy.

Life with Kerri is looking forward to Spring again.


No Kidding Around

Springtime on the farm is also 4-H time for the kids. Time to get the animal projects started.

This year Sam and Peter are joining their first farm animal 4-H club. After much discussion and debate, it was decided that the boys would have a market goat project. We would save the pig project for a year when there is a little less on the farm's To Do list. We are still working on the home improvement project so the thought of diverting time and energy to building pig pens and helping boys "train" (ha! HAhahahaha!!! *snort*) the hogs for fair just made our brains explode.

Goats. We can handle the goats. We've been handling the goats, more or less, for sixteen years or so.

So on a gorgeous sunny spring day we headed to the beautiful pastoral goat farm of friends and fellow 4-H-ers so that the boys could acquire their market goat. There were many goats to choose from.

The first application of their goat knowledge meant choosing a kid that was a meat breed (like the Boer goats in this photo) and that showed potential for good confirmation and weight gain. The hope is that they will have a blue ribbon animal that will bring a good price at the county fair auction.

Samuel immediately made friends with this bottle-fed baby. The problem is that the boys cannot pick out their best friend but must choose a goat that will, in the end, get on a truck and head to market after fair and not return home to play in our pasture. It's the sad reality of 4-H market animal projects and the sooner the kids face it the better.

Finally the boys chose two fine little wethers that just happened to be brothers too.

So now the summer will be spent learning all the details of goat ownership- nutrition, grooming, handling and fair goat showmanship.
I'm still glad they're not pigs.

Missing Child

Etan Patz. He was the first missing child to be featured on a milk carton. He was just six and a half when he disappeared, after walking two blocks by himself. Etan's story is fresh in my mind because it has been in the news lately, after authorities re-opened the case to pursue some leads regarding the child's remains.

Etan disappeared in 1979 after walking two blocks to the bus stop by himself. It was only two blocks, after all, and he had begged his mother to give in. I can picture this scenario perfectly, in as much as I live with a six-year-old myself. My daughter is yearning for a little bit of independence. We gave her a little taste of it on Saturday and quickly regretted it.

After yoga class on Saturday, I had a bunch of errands to run and took the kid with me. She conned me into buying her a shortbread cookie and an orange soda along the way. When we got back home, her dad told her that two of her friends had come by to see if she could play. She asked if she could go out and find them. Her friends can ride two-wheelers without training wheels - A cannot. We told her that she could take her scooter or Big Wheel after lunch and go up to her friend's house. It's just two blocks away so we thought she'd be okay (the other friend lives a couple blocks farther and we specifically told her she could not go there - it's a busier road, too). I stood in the yard and watched her pedal up the street on her Big Wheel. I turned and went back inside once I could no longer see her.

"I don't think I'm ready for her to be riding around the neighborhood by herself," I told my husband.

He shook his head. "Me neither."

We don't want to be "helicopter parents." We know she needs a little bit of independence, but it's hard. At times I do think her friends seem to be ahead of her in the maturity and decision-making departments, too.

A played at her friend's house for a while and then both of them came back to our house. The girls played in my daughter's bedroom for a while. I, in the mean time, came up with the ill-conceived idea of taking my dogs to the dog park. I hadn't been in years. P talked me into taking just one of the dogs, as two would be a lot to handle. I decided to take Gretchen.  I drove her to the dog park and as soon as I took her inside the gate, she pinned a beagle. So, realizing how stupid my plan had been (she's been off-leash with other dogs in other circumstances, but it was still a dumb risk to take), I turned around and drove her home.

When I got back to the house, P asked me if I knew where A was. The girls had been going back and forth between the two houses. "I'm going to take Kaiser for a walk," I said. "I'll make sure she's there when I walk by."

A few minutes later, I walked by the friend's house and learned that the girls were not there. I felt a tiny bit of panic rising up in my chest. "You know, they must be at my house and P just didn't realize they were playing out back or something," I told the friend's mom. I turned on my heel and walked Kaiser back to our house.

"She's not there," I told my husband. "You have to get in the car and find her."

I shouted into the back yard and checked the basement. I started calling the home of the second friend who lives farther away, in case the girls had gone there. No one was home. P drove to the park (many blocks away) to see if the girls had headed that way. They weren't there. At that point I didn't even know if the two girls were still together - maybe they had separated. I tried to stay calm but my anxiety bubbled over and I started to cry. I called P over and over on his cell phone. "Please don't come home until you find her," I told him.

I knew I was over-reacting but I couldn't help it. It was just two blocks! Two blocks . . . Etan Patz . . . two blocks. It is because of children like Etan Patz and Adam Walsh that I know what can happen to six-year-olds who are out of sight for even a moment. My hands were shaking as I waited for the phone to ring. Finally, it did. My daughter and her friend had gone to the home of another classmate. A was on her way home on her Big Wheel. My fear turned into relief.

I stood in the yard with my arms crossed. P stood next to me, his arms crossed as well. We watched our daughter, so tiny, pedaling towards us. The plastic wheels of the Big Wheel scraped against the asphalt. She slowed down when she saw us. Part of me wanted to scoop her up and hug her. Part of me wanted to lock her in her room until she leaves for college. "In the house," we told her. "Now." She glumly climbed off the Big Wheel and went inside. She knew some shit was about to go down.

I don't remember exactly what we said next, but there was a lot of "You didn't have permission to go there" and "What were you thinking?"  We sent her to her room to think about it. A few minutes later, I went in and gave her a hug. I told her how scared and worried I'd been.

"I'm sorry, Mama." She hugged me around the neck.

We honestly don't know what to do next. Do we keep her home all summer? Give her one more chance? This parenting business is not for the faint of heart, I tell you what.
She's gonna be the death of me . . .

Family time.

We have spent the last few days moving things around to make room for our new (replacement) couches.  Kerri inherited our old bedroom TV and DVD player - so she feels like a teenager now.  The basement playroom is now officially a family room/office.  Kerri's playroom is now in the hallway to the basement (thanks to a great IKEA organizer).  And our living room now is more of a place to sit and chat and have coffee - with enough room to add another table when we throw parties.

We showed it off today to Carol and Andre, and they really liked it!  They said the family room was very cozy, and the new living room is much larger and roomier now. 

Pookie has been really worried with all the changes.  He keeps sniffing everything, and putting a bone or ball everywhere to claim his stake.  So far, he has taken possession of our futon, the new living room carpet, the new couch and coffee table, and the hallway rug.  I think he is running out of bones and balls.

I still have to paint the walls and hang things, but I will post pictures soon.  In the meantime, we are spending some quality family time in our new family room (which by the way, Kerri says looks just like our upstairs living room used to look like).

Life with Kerri likes the changes.

A teaching moment.

As I picked up Kerri from the school bus stop the other day, her ex-boyfriend hurried to catch up to me and tell me "Kerri read to the class today!". 

I looked at Kerri, and she explained that her class had to be "evacuated" into the Kindergarten classroom because one of her classmates (the special needs bully) was "out of control".  So the teacher handed Kerri a book, and told her to take her place and read it to everyone.

I told Kerri how proud I was of her, and reminded her that just last year she did not know how to read. I did not have to remind her of her daily struggles with Dyslexia and CAPD.

And then Kerri added, "Oh and (ex-boyfriend) raised his hand and asked me if he could go to the bathroom. I felt like a real teacher at that moment.".

We all just laughed.

Life with Kerri is bursting with pride.

Sweet dreams, Fritz

My former foster dog, Fritz, died yesterday. He was 12 1/4, which is about as long a life as most Boxers can expect. I had secretly hoped he might be immortal, but alas . . .

I have fostered a gazillion dogs, give or take a few, but Fritz has remained close to my heart since his adoption. He lived in our home for nearly one year. As tempting as it was to pull him off the market and just keep him with me for the rest of his days, I stuck firmly with my belief that someone out there would give him a home of his own. I have been wrong about so many things in my life, but I was right this time. There was someone out there, and she gave him that forever home. As an added bonus, I gained a wonderful friend in the bargain.

I called Sue yesterday to see how she was doing. She told me that Fritz had died peacefully, surrounded by Sue, her sister, and her best friend. Her Buddhist beliefs have given her a unique perspective on Fritz's death. Sue is comforted in the knowledge that she has always known Fritz, will always know him. Their separation is only physical. "He loved me more than any dog I've ever had," she said.

"I just wish you'd been able to have him longer," I said, sniffling away.

"I'm okay, I really am." She told me how hard it had been to come home and to see Fritz's things all over the house, but was at peace with his passing.  Fritz had lost all of the strength in his back end and had been falling regularly. She knew his body's warranty had expired and that it was time to say good-bye. He knew it, too.

My eyes welled up. "I don't know if I am okay," I told her.

"Claudia, what can I do to help you through this?" Sue asked me. I could hear the sincerity in her voice.  Here I had called to console her and she ended up giving me the long distance pat on the hand.

Every day, my Facebook news feed is filled with horrors. A dog named Justice set on fire a couple weeks ago (he died of his injuries). Horses shipped off to slaughter. Elephants killed for their tusks (still! in 2012!). Sharks killed for their fins. And don't even get me started on what goes on in the factory farming industry. Examples of animal cruelty at the hands of humans are endless. But, for this one dog, for Fritz, I know he is okay. I know that he was loved. There are good people out there, people who take in old dogs, even knowing that the end may come much too soon. G'night, Fritty Cent . . . I'll miss you, too!

Cheers to all of the Sues and Fritzes out there.

The link to Barking at the Moon is no longer valid in my other blog post about Fritz, so here is a new link:

Mah Dogs iz Crazy

I think it's time the world knew that . . . my dogs ain't right, man. At every meal, Gideon leaps vertically into the air while Gretchen spins in circles. I have worried about Gideon, in particular, because I'm convinced he's going to smack his chin on the counter one of these days. Or maybe he'll come down wrong and blow his cruciate (a common injury in Boxers). I wonder what my two knuckleheads think will happen if they don't repeat their respective rituals?  Like maybe one of these days I'll just cut them off and tell them, "No maniacal jumping? No freakish spinning? No food for you!"

This video also reminds me: I need to stop eating ASAP. Seriously. 

Spring Report

This hellebore is more beautiful every year!

This year it is just full of flowers and I think it is stunning. So glad I splurged on that expensive little start at the garden show years ago.

We did so much outdoor spring clean up over the weekend. The remains of the ice storm still...remain...but mostly in the pasture. It's taken weeks of work by man and boys to clean up the yard with many trailer loads of branches hauled away.
I got the twenty blueberries bushes pruned, as well as the four grape vines and the rose bushes. I weeded and fertilized the strawberries, cleaned flower beds, planted scallions and lettuce and so much more. Pruning the apple and cherries trees is a big job that takes me days and some help from a strong man with a saw. I brought the prunings from the cherry tree in to try to force them to bloom and it worked! Blossoms in the house!

And since spring is in full swing that means baseball has begun and we are spending our evenings huddled in coats and gloves under an umbrella on a wet bench. Fun times!

Happy springtime everyone!

In the pink.

Nana asked me to dye her hair pink. I actually bleached a section underneath, then dyed that bright pink, then dyed another (non-bleached) section slightly higher over that. When her hair is down it is not that visible.

She seems to like it. She is thinking of dyeing the rest of her hair pink (without bleaching it) too. Let's hope Kerri does not get any ideas!

Life with Kerri is still rubbing pink dye off my fingers.

been awhile

been busy.  busy getting things ready for coachella fest.

we rent out our house for some people from la (same people last year and this year).

so, we've been repairing things, touching up paint, washing windows, getting carpets cleaned, upholstery cleaned, getting our pool back in shape (because i pretty much ignore it all winter....not good, but it's back and beautiful), cleaning out every cupboard, dresser, hutch, etc in the whole house, removing all of the toys, clothes and toiletries from every room, etc.  i could go on and on.  but that's pretty much been exhausting all of shad's and my time for the last few weeks (or several weeks = )

after we finished up, we moved into a hotel for 5 nights (2 here in town, while shad and tanner did work/school) and 3 in carlsbad on the beach.  we got back last night and now it's laundry and cleaning.  i think the house will be back to normal by tonight.

i did treat myself to a pedicure today, a stroll around home goods and a few minutes on pinterest.  it felt great to not have "coachella" in the back of my mind.  = )

oooooh, i get asked a lot..."does your house get trashed?"  not too bad.  we've gotten lucky.  it's no worse than when shad and i leave hotel rooms with our kids.  just instead of cups of milk, picture bottles (not with milk inside. ha ha) and instead of playdough and crackers strewn here and there, it's their fancy food wrappers, receipts, bottles, etc. and lots and lots of laundry.  we take a pretty hefty damage deposit and an extra insurance policy out for the weekend, just in case.

but all and all....worth it.  it gives us a bunch of play money for the house. worth it enough to do it again.

Bargain shopping.

We picked out new leather couches that will be delivered on Saturday. We ended up having to come up with some money out of pocket, so my re-decorating options are very limited. So I decided to look around, and on Kijiji I found a coffee table with two matching end tables:

And the top of the tables match my dining room set! We brought these home yesterday for a mere $ 60.00 for all three. Today I picked up painting supplies (the paint is being delivered tomorrow) and am going to tackle painting the living room area. The basement man cave is almost finished!

Thank you to Nana and hubby, who did all the heavy lifting.

Life with Kerri is re-decorating on a dime.

How to raise a grateful child?

A source of frustration around our house lately . . . nothing's ever good enough, soon enough, or awesome enough for our shortest resident. I'm hoping it's just a phase, but the phase is wearing out its welcome. From what I've read, my daughter's behavior is normal for her age. Kids are biologically programmed to think mostly about themselves until around the age of eight or so, when they start developing the ability to empathize with others. I'm looking forward to the day when my daughter's cognitive development reaches this stage. The whining and the complaining and the eye-rolling - egads. Also, she has added a syllable to the word "Daddy." When he doesn't give her what she wants, she yells, "Dad-eeeeee-uh!"

This is not to say she is not a good kid. She's a great kid - smart, outgoing, affectionate, and funny. However, we seem to be falling into a trap common in families with just one child. Despite our best intentions and efforts, she's a bit spoiled. Her dad and I have been trying to figure out the best way to instill a sense of gratitude in our daughter. We try to lead by example, of course. We also use the "children are starving in Africa" line on her regularly. I can't say that she's losing a lot of sleep over those African kids, though. She informed me that she is willing to send them some of her food. I told her that she is missing the point - I just want her to eat what's on her plate (even if it is green) and be glad she's got a plate full of food. Alas, the lass is falling a bit short in the gratitude department.

Here are a couple of examples of recent issues:

1. We purchased three six-day "park hopper" passes for Disney World (to the tune of nearly $1,000). The passes (plastic cards) arrived in the mail last week. Each card has a different Disney character on it - Pluto, Goofy, and Mickey. I am not sure how much it matters when we get to the parks, but the card that is technically designated for my daughter (since the others are adult passes) is the one bearing Goofy's likeness. She immediately threw a fit. "I want the Mickey one!" I, of course, lobbed back a "we don't have to go at all, you know!" and so on it went.

2. The weather was pretty iffy on Sunday afternoon, so I told the kid I'd take her to the jumpity-jump place after church. I even invited one of her friends along. I told her I would take the girls over there at 2:00. At noon, the whining began. "Why can't we go noooooow?" I should also add that I had taken her to a children's festival the day before. When we got to the jumpity-jump place, her friend got lucky with the games and somehow turned a handful of tokens into over a thousand tickets. So, needless to say, she was able to cash them in for a much bigger prize than what my daughter was able to get. Instead of congratulating her friend, my little princess scowled and stomped around and basically redefined the term "sour grapes."

I don't know. I'm at a loss. I mean, short of dropping her off at a soup kitchen to work a shift every weekend or selling all of her shit on Craigslist, how does one make sure they are raising a kid who understands the importance of gratitude? Am I over-thinking this?

Two sweaty girls at the jumpity-jump place.

At the kids' festival on Saturday

Limitless Legos

During our Easter break from school we made a trip into the city to visit the science museum. The catalyst for a trip there was the special exhibit of Lego sculptures on display this month. Right now the boys are loony for Legos so when they heard we were going to the exhibit they were over the moon for two solid days.

The exhibit was not what we expected. It was much better than we expected!

These were not your kid's Lego creations.

To me this was more of an art exhibit than a science exhibit, though plenty of graphing and calculations went into the creation of each piece. There were dozens of objects, some everyday things like a line up of three foot tall Crayola crayons and a six foot tall pencil, but there were lots of more thoughtful designs with subtle artistic messages.

I was astounded by the level of emotion and life that was expressed through the medium of tiny plastic bricks. These figures were nearly life size.

From these photos you may get the impression that all the objects in the exhibit were based on the human form but there were many themes. I took photos on two cameras. One of my cameras is not working right now and I can't retrieve the photos so I am missing many that would balance out a sampling of themes.

The majority of Lego sculptures were done by one artist but there was a small display by a local man who developed a method of making curves with straight Lego bricks.

This was an inspiring show. An artist can create expressive work even using something as simple as a child's plastic toys. This exhibit is traveling around the country. If you get a chance to see it, we highly recommend a viewing.

What a memory.

Yesterday we were at the furniture store. The couches we bought almost two years ago are in terrible shape, so they agreed to give us a store credit to replace them. While Mommy handled all the paperwork, Daddy and Kerri decided to go check out the mattress section.

Daddy showed Kerri a Tempur-Pedic mattress and explained that it was called a "memory foam" mattress. She asked what that meant, and he said: "Go ahead and sit on it. Now get up and look at the mattress. See how the mattress remembered the shape of your butt?" And Kerri immediately called it the "memory-butt" mattress.

By the time I was done and went to find them, they were lying on two different memory-butt mattresses, giggling away. Kerri showed me her memory-butt pillow, and told me she wanted the Tempur-Pedic mattress and pillow set. But the mattress cost over two grand, and the pillow almost two hundred dollars! So we had to drag her out of the store, explaining why we could not bring home a memory-butt anything.

Before we went home, I went across the street to Costco, and left Kerri and her Daddy in the food section to enjoy a snack. While I was shopping, I found a different brand memory foam/gel pillow on sale for about 29 dollars. So I bought it - for me. But as soon as we got home and Kerri saw it, she claimed it for her own. And she is in love with her memory-butt pillow. She even has given up all six squishy pillows she used to have on her bed. And this morning she was hugging it. Looks like the memory-butt stuff really works!

Life with Kerri is going back for another memory-butt pillow.

Conversations with Kerri.

Kerri: "Why do they call it Good Friday when something bad happened (during Easter)?"

Daddy: "Because it was a good Friday for the Romans?"

Kerri: "Well it was certainly a bad Friday for Jesus."


(While trying on her new pirate clothes):
Kerri: "Why do I have to wear these pants called bloomers under my dress?"

Mommy: "Because back in the day they did not wear panties, the bloomers were the panties, I think."

Kerri: "Do you mean Tia doesn't wear panties under her bloomers?!"

Mommy: "I am pretty sure Tia wears panties under her bloomers."

Kerri: "Oh good, because that would be awkward."


Kerri: "I farted under my pirate dress!"

Mommy: "Oh Kerri, that is pretty stinky smelling."

Kerri: "I am just getting into character, I needed some pirate perfume!"


Life with Kerri is never boring.


Our favourite pirate Tia sent Kerri some very special outfits for when they go hunting for buried treasure together.

These special clothes once belonged to a real little girl pirate named Scarlett Rose. And Kerri even received her share of pirate booty, now that she is a real pirate.

We owe a very huge thank you to Scarlett Rose and her parents for their kindness and generosity, and hope to someday thank them properly in person.

And a huge thank you to Tia for making our Kerri a very happy little pirate today! She can't wait to go pirating with you.

Life with Kerri thinks we've already found our hidden treasure in our friendships.

Can People Change - REALLY Change?

I've pondered this heady question for a couple decades now. I'm sure I should really leave the question (and the answer) to psychologists and other mental health professionals, but that doesn't stop me from wondering. Can people change in fundamental ways, or only in small, incremental ones?

One of my new guilty pleasures is watching the show "Tabatha Takes Over." I am simultaneously fascinated by and frightened of Tabatha. If you haven't watched the show (or are unfamiliar with Tabatha Coffey), she's a hard-edged Australian chick with a background in the salon industry. She is typically dressed all in black, right down to her impossibly high heels. Initially, the show focused on salon take-overs, where Tabatha would come in, point out to the business owner and staff what they were doing wrong, and whip everyone into shape. She doesn't mince words and although some people find her abrasive, she seems to be very effective in what she does. She has a particular way of holding up a metaphorical mirror to people and causing them to see how their personality flaws, bad habits, and stupid ideas are killing their business.

This year, the show branched out into other types of businesses. In a recent episode, Tabatha descended on a doggie daycare/grooming facility called Barkingham Palace. The business is owned by a couple named Tee and Tania. Although Tee came across as hard-working and well-liked by the staff, Tania was a whole other story. She walked around in sundresses, put on make-up and munched granola in her office, and complained about the smell from the dogs. The staff seemed to despise her.  Tabatha sat her down several times and attempted to explain that Tania's management style would be the death of the business.Tania would just sort of sit there blinking back at Tabatha, seemingly unconvinced that she could possibly be the problem.

I kept thinking, "This is her core personality, she cannot change."  I mean, sure, someone can change a habit. Put the towels over here instead of over there, because it doesn't make sense to have them over there. The average person can handle putting the towels in a new spot. But if a particular person historically believes they are more important than everyone else (and therefore should not be expected to pick up dog poop along with the rest of the staff), I suspect that sort of trait is hard-wired.

Tania did make some halfhearted attempts to be a better manager but was only modestly successful. At the end of each episode, Tabatha returns to the business in six weeks to see how everyone is faring. On this particular episode, she reluctantly acknowledged that Tania was still Tania and that she (Tabatha) was truly concerned for the future of this business venture. She didn't seem to have a lot of hope for its success. I had to agree with her assessment. 

Over the past twenty years or so, I've made a number of changes in my life. My poor husband wisely never says a word as I continue to lose and gain dozens of pounds, over and over again. I changed religions about five and a half years ago. I became a mom seven years ago. I gave up soda. I got involved in a rescue organization and made a whole new group of friends. I changed jobs. I got a tattoo. I got into yoga.

I haven't changed in any fundamental way, though. And it is worth noting that I've had roughly the same haircut since . . . well, since I've had hair. Even when I try something different with it, it still looks approximately the same as my seventh grade yearbook picture. C'est la vie. But back to my point - I am still the same neurotic, sarcastic, animal-loving, clumsy, list-making, liberal, insecure goofball I've always been. There are parts of my personality I'd love to change. I wish I were more tolerant of change in general. I wish I weren't so awkward in social situations. I wish I didn't always have that weird expression in photos. But even Tabatha can't change me. I don't expect to wake up one morning and decide that maybe Fox News isn't that bad after all or that perhaps I should think about playing an organized sport. Nah.

If I stick with my theory that humans can't radically change who they are at the core, I don't know where that leaves reformed skinheads and the like. What about rehabilitation? Can pedophiles be rehabilitated?  Or do they just learn to stop acting on their compulsion because society tends to frown on that? What do you think?

Ten Years Old

Where are you going, my little one, little one?
Where are you going, my baby, my own?

Turn around and you're two,
Turn around and you're four,

 Turn around and you're a young man going out of my door.

Happy Birthday to my baby, Peter Joseph!

You are growing up too fast.