Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cat Hat

I found a great way to procrastinate on doing housework today. I crocheted a cat hat. I gave her an appropriate book to read while she wears it.

You *Can* Fight City Hall

Last night was the budget planning study session at City Hall. In answer to my email plea that went viral over the last few days, many of my friends and neighbors showed up to voice support of the city's tutoring program.

The most amazing speaker, however, was a brave 11-year old girl who stood before the mayor and city council and made the most heartfelt statement you ever heard. She talked about how special she felt having a tutor in kindergarten, and how much it had helped her. She appealed to the council on behalf of the hundreds of students receiving tutoring.

I cried. It was my daughter.

We got the money for one more year.

Monday, April 28, 2008

How to be active without actually being active

I see over at Amazon.com that there's a new game coming this fall for the Wii called Active Life: Outdoor Challenge

Now there's an idea: Create a video game to show kids how fun it would be to actually go outside!

I love the bullet points;

  • Intuitive Gameplay: Simple controls allow for quick pick up and play.
As opposed to real life, where one wanders outdoors and cannot think of what to do.
  • Track Character's Fitness Progress: See your character's body change according to how you play!
Thank heavens you don't have to actually exercise yourself and see your own body change.
  • Tremendous Replay Value: Over a dozen games, each with multiple levels of play
Wow, more than 12. You wont find that kind of variety at a playground.

I really shouldn't make fun of Amazon. They didn't write the copy. I just find the whole concept ironic. And yeah, I'll probably buy it for our Wii when it comes out.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Come Receive the Light

Tonight at midnight, the Orthodox Church will go completely dark. The priest will light his candle from the eternal flame at the alter, and will use it to light the candles the altar boys hold. They will walk down the aisle and the flames will pass from candle to candle. Within a minute, every person in the packed church will be holding a lit candle and singing the hymn "Christ is Risen from the Dead." Our faces will be illuminated like icons, and I will undoubtedly get a tear in my eye from the incredible beauty of it all. I always do.

We spent the entire day at Church yesterday. 9:00 am Service where Christ died on the Cross, then a retreat for the school kids, then 3:00 Service where his body was taken down from the cross. We did take a little break for a vegetarian dinner, then back for Christ's funeral service. DD10 was a myrrh-bearer, scattering rose petals around the bier and in the processional. She looked so serious in her white dress.

The icon above is one of my favorites. It depicts Christ breaking the gates of Hell and grabbing Adam and Eve to free them.

I did get some bad news when I logged on to my email last night. The city put out a 5:00 Friday press release announcing massive budget cuts, including the tutoring program I work for. There were a number of other emails from coworkers talking about going to budget meetings. I think it's hopeless really, the city is clearly out of money. Some of the council members are tutors! I think no matter how much they might want to keep us in the budget the money just isn't there. A sign of the general economic health of the whole country.

So I'm thinking about where we can get the money and how we're going to do it. Wish me luck. Hundreds of kids will be affected by this.

Bake Easter bread/save the world - another typical day for a mom. . .

update: The Friends of the Library read the press release and just contacted us to donate $10k. Note to self: Renew membership to Friends of the Library. They rock. Nice to see some people "get it." Only about $50k more to find.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why we need cats

We dyed eggs yesterday. After telling the kids to be careful over and over I made the biggest mess. I wonder how many more years we can get away with these kiddie-projects? I hope until they move out. I love all these little traditions.

How do people who *don't* have cats read?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tv Turnoff Week

It's earth day, tv turnoff week, and Holy Tuesday for us. DD9 has a baseball game and at the risk of sounding like a bad parent, I really hope it rains like it's threatening to.

I used to be in charge of promoting tv turnoff week at our elementary school. I came up with the idea of distributing lengths of caution tape to students to put on their tvs. I see someone is still passing those out. Wonder how many families actually put those on their tvs? Turning off the tv for a week isn't hard for our family since we discontinued our cable subscription years ago. Without cable we get no tv reception around here. But frankly, once George Clooney left E.R., I didn't see the point of even owning a tv. The little beauty pictured is the only set in the house, and is used to watch occasional dvds and play on the Wii. The downside of course, is that my kids read like maniacs and do really well in school. We have to go to the library a lot, darn it.

Last night as I was clearing the dishes I heard the phrase every parent dreads more than any other. . ."mommy, I threw up!" Gaaaaa! If ever there's a time when I hate the parenting job, vomit-cleanup is that time. Figures we had split pea soup for dinner too. "Hello Linda Blair!" I donned the gloves and grabbed the cleaning supplies and expected the worst. Thankfully it was hardly a mess at all. Nothing like the great barf of 2003.

Ah yes, the barf of 2003. The barf to end all barfs. When you awaken in the middle of the night and find yourself about to vomit in bed, what would you do? Lean over the side of the bed? Of course you would, anybody would. Now picture that you were on the top bunk at the time. The perpetrator nailed the floor, the walls, the desk, and her little sister beneath her. Words cannot describe the scene. Hazmat teams would have shuddered at the sight. My husband, the quick thinker, turned right around and went back to bed, leaving me to launch a rescue of the innocent below and the barfer above. It was impressive, that barf. I made her a certificate and filed it in the family awards notebook.

In honor of earth day, let's all click on that link on the left and save a little piece of rainforest. It's free.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Getting Ready for Easter

DD11 made these palm crosses in Sunday School yesterday. I love how she experimented with making different sizes.

Being Greek Orthodox, and our Easter cycle is different from the Roman Catholic calendar most of the rest of the Western world follows. Our Easter can never be before April 4. As a friend of mine says this is because 1) Greeks are always late and 2) they love to shop sales. I don't know if that's what the ancient fathers had in mind when they determined the Holy Day cycle, but I certainly do enjoy getting everything on sale after Western Easter.

Easter is coming up this Sunday and there are services at the Church every day leading up to it. On Friday the kids and I will go to an all-day retreat at Church. The 3:00 service where they remove Christ from the cross and lay him in a bier is my favorite all year. So moving and beautiful.

Most exciting of all, on Easter Sunday we finally get to break our 40-day fast. For the past 40 days my husband and I haven't had any meat. Technically, we're also supposed to abstain from dairy and oil, but with children in the house, the Church allows the family to include dairy intake.

I'm starving for a cheeseburger. There's a reason Easter is called the "Feast of Feasts" in the Orthodox calendar. Six more days. . .

Friday, April 18, 2008

Project of the Day

Ta-Da! I cleaned out the arbor. A few hours ago it was a mess of leaves and weeds weeds weeds. Now it's my spot for iced tea and a novel.

My husband's little lemon tree is in the back, fenced in so the deer don't eat it. The vine over the top is a bower vine, which will be full of pink blooms over the summer.

I designed this arbor myself when we had the landscaping done. I wanted a little room where I could tuck a swinging bench. It looks out over the little built-in sand box. I used to spend a lot of summer days watching the kids play. Now I need to think about converting that sand box to something else, since the kids don't play in the sand much any more.

Another Rough Day in the Neighborhood

The sun is warm through the blinds and my 17-year old cats are soaking it up. Nobody forgot their lunch so I'll have to fend for myself today. Only one mention of cannibalism at dinner last night. DD11 asked me yesterday if she can be a hobo when she grows up.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Carnivorous frogs and irresponsible pre-teens

I had a lovely lunch outside. Actually it was my DD11's lunch that she'd left on the counter. Her loss is my gain. I don't do deliveries any more. Anyway, one of those awful worms descended from the oak tree on it's little silk parachute. Ugh. I scooped it up and took it in to feed to DD11's frog. This monster of a frog began as a tadpole collected at Gasquet last August and has now survived all his brethren to become a giant mutant entertaining member of the family. He loved the worm.

I, however, did not love the shape of DD11's room when I went in there. What a mess! And I'm picking up the ballet crowd to drive them after school today so they'll all want to change clothes and do their hair in there.

The question DD11 and I are dealing with this week, is just how responsible is an 11-year old girl supposed to be? One friend of mine cleans the room and does everything for hers, because "she's only 11." I can remember catching the bus to downtown Portland Oregon and being quite independent at that age. Do I expect too much? DD11 and I are trying to negotiate a list which will lead to a fair allowance.

The Miserables

Ugh. I've been so sick I thought I was going to actually die last night. I curled up on the couch at 2:30 am and made my peace with God. I vowed to weed the garden and bake delicious homemade bread if I could just get well. And lose a bunch of weight, call old friends, and hug my kids more. I was that sick.

I couldn't get out of bed this morning. But God must have heard me, because after a lot of painful coughing and a shower where I was so lightheaded I could barely stand, I crawled out to face the family and found that my dear husband had gone to Starbucks to get me a latte. I'm feeling much better now. I was just taking the wrong chemicals. More caffeine, less nyquil.

I'm loving "Les Miserables." I think it's going to take me months to get through it though. Poor Fantine is dying. I need to get back to her now.

I guess I need to go pull some weeds today as well.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

Northanger Abbey and Cannibalism

I fell ill yesterday and resolved to make my family fend for themselves around here whilst I put my feet up with a book. I blush to report that I had not yet read this slim volume of Austen's, and I vowed to read the tome entire or perish in the process. The latter was not unthinkable given my general health that day. My husband was sent to the apothecary for appropriate Nyquil and Dayquil concoctions.

What to say of such a witty, yet tedious book? The poor stupid heroine must plod through every thought as a question aloud until the conversations throughout become absolutely mind-numbing. And yet in the end we cheer for the poor stupid girl as she becomes finally the heroine of her own story and gets to marry the dashing knight in shining armor. A very satisfying read, dripping with Miss Austen's famous irony and sly wit.

Housework score: 10 chapters (more on this later)

Cannibalism comes up not infrequently at our dinner table. The twins study pioneers in 4th grade and around here, no study of pioneers coming west is complete without discussion of the ill-fated Donner party. Fascinating stuff to 10 year olds.

As it turns out, however, two of the three children claimed that they were not amused at all by the musical "Little Shop of Horrors" and in fact found the plot line a bit too ghastly. The death of the dentist on stage and the scene of his mutilated parts being fed to Audrey II disturbed my son in particular. My husband and I mused that they are probably not ready for Sweeny Todd, let alone Cannibal! the Musical.

Today I am still sick, but hope to get some needlework done in addition to the never-ending housework.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Why start a blog?

I hold out no hope that anybody on the planet would actually read about my comings and goings with any degree of entertainment or enlightenment. I plan to use this primarily as a journal to gather my own thoughts. If you're here, thanks for reading.

We're off to go see Little Shop of Horrors today. I think the kids will love it.

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