A fact I learned today from Clover: R.I.P. actually means "rest in pieces." I guess she's technically right.
Just this morning, I boasted about the great job I've done screening political calls thanks to caller ID, but my streak ended as I answered an Obama call a few minutes ago. After confirming our support, the caller said the primary reason for the call was to get volunteers to work the phone bank this weekend. I lied and said we were thinking about it. I hate using the phone, which I attribute to working as a reporter. Calling people that I knew didn't want to talk to me eventually took its toll and now that no one is paying me to use the phone, I try to avoid it completely.
When I was in college, I worked on several political campaigns, mostly local San Francisco stuff, and I did more than my share of phone banking then. I hated asking people if they voted and/or if they supported a specific candidate. It was painful. I've been hit up to phone bank (now a verb!) many times this election and I've always bagged. We've given money, we've got the bumper sticker, a sign out front, but call people? That's where it ends for me. Extremists will die for their cause, but I can't be bothered to pick up the phone.
Clover took a mental health half day today, which has increased my mental pain as she and her brother fight and cause havoc. She's now stuck in her room because I told her if she was indeed sick, she should be resting. I want to make faking illness as annoying as possible for her. She fell off a haystack at school, complained of stomach pain and refused to eat lunch and since I was nearby, I brought her home. One of her teachers sent home the special snack that was to be handed out in the afternoon - a caramel apple - but she said it was for after lunch. As we got into the car, Clover opened her lunch and had eaten it completely by the time we reached the freeway, then she asked for the caramel apple. (I said no.) I don't think she's sick.
At home, Clover showed us the Barack Obama for President button she received at school, which caused Rocket to cry because he wanted an Orock Obama pin too. I had a company pin on my desk that I looked at yesterday and wondered what to do about. Throw it in the trash? Give it to someone? Do people really like freebie buttons handed out by companies? The only buttons I liked and kept were the ones from the Kirtsy/Guy Kawasaki party this summer. ("Kirtsy: we bring bitches together" or the picture of Guy's face? Those are awesome.) Luckily Rocket can't read, so he got a pin with a company logo, which I told him said Obama for President.
Before the two packs of Bella Sara Baby Bella cards came in the mail recently, I was ignorant to the trading card game world. Sure, I knew about Pokemon, mostly from a mom I know whose son plays, but that was it. Bella Sara seems to be the girlish alternative to Pokemon, featuring horses and inspirational messages. Bella Sara - which is expanding to introduce Baby Bella foals, featuring new cards with baby horses - began in Denmark by a social worker caring for mentally disabled young people. Thus the online play is designed to build imagination and with the inspirational messages, support girls' development.
Here's where it gets dicey for me: the cards include codes that can be entered online, opening up the "magical world of North of North." Online there are virtual horses and stables, stories and games, which is all fine and the art and messages are all age appropriate, but I'm not ready to have Clover join an online world. Granted, the cards are aimed at ages five and up, which puts Clover at the young end anyway. When I looked around online, I saw preteen-aged (I'm not going to say tween) girls active with the game and to me, it makes much more sense for, say an 11 year old, to use the interactive component than a five year old. But that could be because I tend to be conservative on media exposure.
For those interested, a 10-day celebration kicking off the launch of Baby Bella begins Nov. 6.
The other night we were talking at dinner and my dark secret came out: I let Rocket watch a little TV during the day. This was actually a secret being kept from Clover only, as she grew up in my NO TV! home, which turned into my some TV home, and now privately with her brother, my rule has morphed into "Is Super Why on TV or on the DVR? Or even Word World?" as my standards have slid into the toilet. Clover has a right to be mad, but she is also crazy because she likes to believe that while she's at school, Rocket and I sit near the window, twiddling our thumbs until she returns. If she finds out that we did the most mundane errand, she gets upset. "You went to Whole Foods without me?!" So naturally I kept my new, lax TV attitude a secret from her.
I happened to be looking at Clover when Kevin asked Rocket about Super Why, so I saw her eyes grow into incredulous saucers. "What?!" She looked at me while she said that there was no way Rocket watched Super Why, but when she asked me to confirm, I told her he did watch TV that morning while I organized the laundry cabinets. Kevin asked me if the show had a song (is he oblivious to kid shows? they all have songs), but I wasn't about to sing it, which would acknowledge that Rocket and I have watched the show enough to memorize the words. (I could sing that song in my sleep.)
My plan to have the TV keep him occupied while I accomplished something backfired because once I was out of sight, he stripped off his clothes. After seeing this and asking if he was cold, I went back to the laundry room for another minute or two, only to notice a naked boy go by on a scooter. He had taken off his diaper and was using a walker/ride-on toy as a makeshift scooter. I got the diaper on before any accidents happened, but it was only a matter of time before he took it off again and peed all over his bed. The weather today is the same as yesterday, but instead of taking off his clothes today, Rocket insists on keeping everything on, including his zipped up jacket. I've given up asking him for the reasons behind his actions.
Clover handled the TV news better than I thought until this morning when she came into my room as I was getting ready for the day to suggest a "new family tradition we can start today." The tradition involves not watching any TV, unless it is on a day where both kids get to see Star Wars. Star Wars will be the only TV allowed in our house for health reasons. It is healthy not to watch TV, Clover told me, because it can hurt your eyes, thus the new tradition will save all of our eye sight. So as long as Rocket doesn't need glasses, our secret morning Super Why viewing tradition will remain.
This giveaway is big. I love it so much, I want to win it myself.
First, the background. Holiday cards are a huge deal to me. Kevin mocks me about it, but I see the card we send as an extension of us. I want it to be nice and polished, from the paper quality to the picture, and after a bad experience last year, I realized despite my frugal nature, it was worth paying more to get a better product. For many of the people on our card list, the card is the only thing they see of us each year. I know my older or distant relatives love to see a good picture of the kids and like me, most people display the cards they receive throughout the holiday season. Our pediatrician's office fills the waiting room walls with holiday cards and as we always end up there during the cold months, I love looking around at all the cards and the different families. I've had friends not on our card list comment on our card or photo because they saw it while in the waiting room. It's a lot like advertising, in a way.
Our traditional card photo is taken at the Christmas tree farm on Thanksgiving weekend, but I think it is time to phase it out. Partially because another related tradition involves me blowing my top while trying to get two kids to stay still and not mess with each other long enough for my camera to focus and get the shot. That's a tradition we can do without. The other reason to drop it is because it rushes the entire process. It was early December last year when I finally had the picture ready to go, but by that time, all of the early bird discounts were long gone. I found a pretty good deal for a Martha Stewart-line card at a big photo company, and despite my hesitations about the quality, I went for it. After a major hassle on the shipping (despite the print shop being across the bay and almost visible from my house), the cards arrived and they sucked. The paper quality was fine - not great, but okay - but the photo printing was awful. Despite sending the company crisp, clean photos, they came back slightly fuzzy. The biggest problem was that it was too late to order cards elsewhere for delivery prior to Christmas. I was embarrassed, but I sent the cards out anyway.
This year another company gave me a gift certificate that would have covered my Christmas cards, but not only was I concerned about quality, I had trouble navigating their website. At this point, Tiny Prints stepped in to save the day.
Tiny Prints is the best. Their website is easy to use and the costs are clear, but the best part is that the finished product is gorgeous. The hard part is picking a card because they have so many great styles from which to choose. When I went to their site recently, the front featured the cutest Thanksgiving dinner invitation. We aren't hosting Thanksgiving, nor does my family send out invitations for that day, but the Tiny Prints invite made me want to host the feast, merely so I could send out that invitation. (I came to my senses when I remembered that showing up to my mom's house with the kids and a side dish was much easier than putting on the whole show.)
Finally, the good part: Tiny Prints is allowing me to give away an entire holiday card package, including matching postage! That's 50 cards, 72 address labels and 60 stamps with the matching card design. Seriously.
Here's where you work for it: to enter, go to Tiny Prints and find the card with "slushy to chic" in the description. Once you find it, click on "ask a friend," make up a fun and creative greeting and share it with me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Also click, "save in favorites" and follow the directions to save it to an account. Finally (the last step!), leave a comment here with that same greeting and you will be officially entered! The winner will be the person who followed the directions correctly and had what I determined to be the best greeting. (I've got an odd sense of humor, but I also want something festive I could "borrow" for my cards as well, so the door is wide open.) The contest ends Friday, Nov. 7.
The rules, via the good people at Tiny Prints: you can enter this contest as many times as you'd like, as long as you haven't won a Tiny Prints contest in the last 90 days. If you've won something from them recently, come on, don't be greedy! As I say to my kids, "give someone else a chance!" If you win and decided you need more than 50 cards, you have to pay for the additional cards yourself. Tiny Prints may use the entries for promotional use. And finally, this is open to contestants worldwide.
Woo hoo! Go get 'em and good luck!
A small Italian family circus came to town this past weekend, which was perfect. Clover's wanted to go to the circus for some time, but I have huge problems with how circus animals are treated, thus we haven't gone. When we heard that the Zoppe family circus was coming to town - setting up their tent in the library parking lot! - it was perfect. They lack the animal cruelty issues plaguing the big circuses and the small size made it much more accessible to the kids.
The small circus was a lot of fun. I thought the show was okay, but my kids and their friends thought it was excellent and the real fun was watching their reactions: hand over mouth gasps, big smiles and huge cheers. Clover and her friends shouted over each other with excitement today during the entire carpool trip to school, recounting every funny stunt they could remember from the show. They mentioned the acrobatics, the clown humor and my favorite part: the English Sheepdogs going down a tunnel slide. I am so happy we held out for this circus; one we all walked away from feeling good about.
Ten years ago today I met Kevin. By early December I considered him my boyfriend (we'd only been apart one weekend), we moved in together the next March (much to my family's dismay) and we've been together ever since. My nonnie was concerned about Kevin because he wasn't "like us," which she explained was Sicilian and loud. He's quiet and not Sicilian or even Italian (gasp!). If I could go back in time, I'd tell my nonnie not to worry because despite having a quiet dad, both of our kids are loud. Her Sicilian heritage lives on.
In addition to me and the kids, here's what you get to come home to tonight, honey. I love you!
When trying to herd the kids out the door to go to Clover's swim lesson, my iPhone slips off the counter to the tile floor. It flickers, then goes black. Muerte.
At the swim school, I stare at the iPhone, wishing it back to life as we wait for Clover's lesson to begin. Her swim instructor comes to the side of the pool to ask if I changed our lesson time this week because it's 4 o'clock. Clover's lesson is at 5 p.m. We leave and on the drive, a mail truck almost scrapes our car as we traverse the narrow roads to our house. I decide if the mail truck hits me, I am giving up. Call in Hospice because clearly I am nonfunctional.
My decision to drive back home to kill the hour seems ridiculous, but where else am I going to go briefly with one kid wearing a swimsuit and goggles and the other one is overtired and cranky? As we crest the hill, I see the sheriff at our house. He is as kind as can be. Soon after I left, our house alarm went off and I did not respond to the alarm company's call due to my dead cell phone. The officer thinks it was an "angry sensor" because he cannot see any signs of forced entry. He leaves, I call the alarm company to give them our safe word and figure out the issue (it is a sensor), then I call Kevin to share this insanity. His work number goes to voicemail, which is when I realize he's already sharing in the insanity and is probably on his way home. As I call his cell, he drives up.
When Clover was young and would watch Sesame Street, she'd see the promo for Fairyland before the show began. It was a still shot of one of the decorations, leaving everything up to the imagination, which Clover filled with cotton candy, rides, characters and of course fairies. "I want to go there!" she'd shout each time.
We finally got there last Friday when Clover had a day off from school and Kevin took the day off to make it a family day. It is almost entirely as I remember it from when I was a child, most likely because it almost entirely unchanged, which is fun, but also worrisome as I kept thinking that everything must be coated in 1970s lead paint.
The rides were small, but perfect for very little kids. The first ride was operated by a woman with bright pink hair, who later began the puppet show and then drove the train. It was that kind of cozy, casual place. The puppet show was cute, but painfully long for my attention span, even though both of my kids sat entertained the entire time. The puppet show and it's theater were especially sweet because they reminded me of the one in Luxembourg Garden in Paris. Unfortunately, we didn't see a performance there, but it seemed so romantically sweet that it stuck with me.
After the performance, one of the puppeteers came to the stage and demonstrated a few different types of puppets for the kids. To explain how to work the different parts on one puppet, she held up her hand with her thumb out and index and pinkie fingers up. "What does this sign mean?" she asked the kids. One boy a few rows back, so certain of the answer, yelled out, "ROCK ON!" Kevin and I laughed, but the puppeteer was less amused, saying "No, it doesn't mean rockstar. It means love." Rockstar? The woman was in her mid-20s, yet oblivious to the rock on movement of yore.
After Fairyland, we took Kevin to a simulated sky diving place where he was able to fly in a wind tunnel for a few minutes, with an instructor with him as a guide. I would post a photo, but that wouldn't make Kevin very happy. When he and his group finished their session, Kevin asked, "Did I look like a dork?" I told him not to worry because everyone in the tunnel looked like a cheek flapping dork. Strong winds flatter no one.
When I opened the box, I was happy. Inside were two toys, one of which was a toy we used to own, but it met a tragic end. Clover received the Aquadoodle Draw 'N Doodle mat for Christmas when she was three year old. Two cousins gave it to her on Christmas Eve and it was the only toy she played with that night and the next morning before we left for our Christmas celebration. She played with the Aquadoodle right up until we left, leaving the mat behind on the floor to dry, which erases the art work.
When we returned that night, I hadn't turned the family room light on, but I could tell by the dim light reaching the room that something wasn't right with the mat. I turned on the light and saw it was almost completely full of dark color, but kind of blotchy and completely strange. All of a sudden it hit me that the mat looked a lot like the blue and white puppy training pads we used to have and I immediately knew one of our dogs peed on the Aquadoodle.
It was not meant to hold that amount of fluid.
We threw it out, feeling awful, especially when Clover asked about it the next day. I explained the dog ruined it, but apparently a pad full of dog pee doesn't dissuade a three year old. She still wanted to play with it. I meant to replace it, but for some reason, never did. Sadly the culprit dog died last year, but that means we can leave the Aquadoodle mat on the ground without hesitation.
The same box also contained a Kid Kleen Bath Blizzard, which attaches to the side of the tub and once it is turned on after adding a little bubble juice, it makes a bath full of bubbles. Both kids loved it. Rocket cried when his bath was over, yelling "more bubbles!" for about 10 minutes afterward. Then Clover, who normally showers, asked to take a bath too. It was a big hit with both kids. The downside was the end of bath crying, plus it takes four C batteries (which was Kevin's complaint).