Sunday, August 31, 2008

Unplugged Saturday Recap

Gollum and his ring. Lance Armstrong and his bike. Threeundertwo and her laptop.

It was a rough day yesterday. I caught myself heading to the spot where the computer usually sits at least 20 times. Every single time I had to remind myself that I wasn't going to turn it on today.

I wanted to do some online banking.
I wanted to see what the LOLcats were up to.
I wanted to twitter about the tabbouli I was making.
I wanted to look up a recipe.
I wanted to get past that monkey level on Jewelquest III.
I wanted to look on Craigslist for a chair.

But they all had to wait. And I discovered, that with few exceptions, I could survive without having my computer on all day. But was surviving worth it?

What got done:
I spent most of the day with the girls doing their back-to-school shopping. Do you know how hard it is to find pants for a long-legged pre-teen who is shaped like a toothpick? It took hours.

I cooked up a storm, helped Jungle Boy with a Bach piece on the piano, worked on a needlepoint ornament, and got some laundry done.

Was life better?

  • I did the same amount of things I would get done on a day with the computer; it didn't seem to free up any time.
  • Nobody in the family noticed that I was off the computer and the computer was off the counter. Maybe they're all used to it?
  • I worried about little things I needed to get done, like the online banking and emails to PTA people.
So now my real goal is clear, I want to figure out how to be more efficient with my computer time. Maybe having constant access to a computer is efficient after all.

As I sat there in a cold sweat yesterday, I took out pen and paper and thought about all the things I do on the computer. It's quite a list. I prioritized. Next step is to strategize when each of these things get done. I feel like I'm organizing a closet full of useful but messy items.

You can stop reading now, but here's my list. Somehow twitter and playing games didn't make the cut. . .

  1. hotsync my pda
  2. read all my email and respond to it
  3. online banking
  4. update quicken files for PTA
  5. update spreadsheet of tutor assignments that I've coordinated
  6. email tutors
  7. print out the week's schedule from my calendar program
  8. upload pictures
  9. menus and shopping list in MasterCook Deluxe 9.0
  10. backup files
  1. write next post
  2. How Do You Do It? post
  3. The Secret is in the sauce
  4. visit blogs of commenters on my blog
  5. visit blogs I've put on my "A list" on my reader
  6. visit the rest of the blogs on my blogroll
  7. visit the networks I belong to
Time Permitting
  1. Visit my fellow Christmas fanatics
  2. Read the news
  3. Work on my latest shutterfly book
  4. upload old pictures (I want to get everything stored online)
  5. Update my Netflix queue
  6. Check what's free on Craigslist
  7. Visit my fellow Disney fanatics
  8. make a toonlet
  9. I can has cheezburger
  10. Update my massive list of creative projects
  11. See what's on sale at Amazon
  12. download music and ebooks
  13. Keep track of my goals on Joe's Goals
  14. Stay inspired to lose those last few at sparkpeople
So I guess overall my screen-free day was useful. I have a new vision for how I will spend my time on the computer. Hopefully I will feel a better sense of accomplishment and get everything done that I need (and want) to get done.

But I don't think I need to subject myself to a computer-free day ever again (shudder).

Friday, August 29, 2008

Step Away From the Laptop

I started blogging just a few short months ago but I feel like I've been doing it my whole life and it's becoming part of who I am. I think about posts. I spend time writing posts. I take pictures for posts. I plan future posts. I am segmenting my life into post-sized pieces.

But I see a growing problem. I am becoming addicted. My laptop once had a temporary spot on the kitchen counter. Now the entire counter is my desk. There is a laptop, headphones (plugged in but not in my ears, they're just for all those blogs with surprise music), piles of PTA business, a card from the cheese factory, back-to-school handouts, a shopping list -- you get the picture. It's excessive.

I check my computer all day. I don't sit here all day, I just stop by. I check my email to see if any new comments have arrived, I read dozens and dozens of other posts. I play Jewel Quest III when nobody's looking (I'm really hung up on the monkeys in cages level). I read discussion boards. I microblog on Twitter.

Enough is enough. All this popping on and off the computer is fragmenting my days. So as I sit here on Friday night composing this, I have come to a decision.

I am going non-tech tomorrow. No laptop. No main computer. No PDA. No wii (haven't been playing that much anyway). Can I have the stereo? Let's not get crazy here.

I know there will be a million posts in my reader when I return. I will be late putting up my Sunday post because I will not write it Saturday night.

But hopefully, I will come up with a more efficient schedule. Maybe you can help. When do you write? When do you read blogs? How do you juggle your time?

Leave me a comment. I wont read it until Sunday though. Thanks!

Unplugging computer in 3...2...

First week of school: we all lived to tell about it.

Homework Helper

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Homework Helper

I think Drama Girl is starting to figure out that she has to find some homework answers on her own.

I think I'm starting to figure out that the reason her backpack weighs so much is because she is a hoarder. Let's review the pencil case she left on the counter:

Seems like an ordinary pencil case, right? Let's see what's inside:

I think the tiny ninjas are a bit much. And she seems to have enough pencils to keep all her classmates supplied. Knowing her though, in about a month she will tell me that she needs to get more pencils. They will be lost in the wilderness of her room.

The twins are ecstatic about starting middle school. Jungle Boy has already asked if he can switch from trumpet to tuba, because the band needs more tuba players. The real question is, does my house need more tuba players?

Homework Helper

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Homework Helper

I do know what the Ring of Fire is and where the Pyrenees are -- she just asked me out of context. That's my story and I 'm sticking to it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Charles Dickens Plate

You know what your kids think of you by what their friends say about you. Some months ago, a friend of Drama Girl's looked at me quite innocently and said "where do you keep all your plates with dead people on them?"

Sadly, she is correct. I do have an extensive collection of Staffordshire plates , most of which are souvenirs or commemorative. Sometimes we even eat off them.

This one is possibly my favorite. It's Charles Dickens, and he gazes at me every day from his place of honor - in my bathroom.

OK, it's a blue bathroom, and he fits in with the decor. But yeah, maybe it's a little weird.

I'm a huge fan of Dickens, and this plate includes scenes such as "the Old Curiosity Shop" and "Dotheboys Hall," which is from my favorite novel, Nicholas Nickelby. The level of detail in the pictures is fabulous. Transferware like this has been produced for more than 100 years, although this plate isn't that old. The process involves a copper plate to transfer the ink to tissue which transfers it to china. A lot of transferware was shipped to America, and today you can find pieces on eBay in a variety of colors. Blue is probably the most common. I collect primarily pink transferware, which is a little harder to find.

I bid and lost out on this one on eBay so many times I lost count. I guess I'm not the only Dickens-on-a-plate fan. But I'm probably the only one who put him in my bathroom.

For more wonderful vintage show-and-tell, visit Confessions of an Apron Queen every Thursday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

While You Weren't Looking

The four met up late one evening at a designated spot. Starbucks. Not the big one on Main Street, the little one down a side street. The barrista was mopping up. They looked up and down the street and went in, sliding into couches in a dark corner. Still plenty of time until closing. Still plenty of time to transact. . . business.

"Have you got the list of names?"
"Yeah, right here. We still need some key players though."
"How about Joe? He could do this job."
"Great. We'll add his name and tell him about it later."

"How much money?"
"Enough. A few thousand now, a few more to come in after the kids do the sales pitch."

"Got the schedule ready?"
"Yeah. It's all here. We're good as long as nobody drops the ball."

"We might hit a snag with Ann. She wants to be on the team. An insider. Wants to make decisions."
"Ann's cool. We can let her in."
"Officially? We'd have to rewrite the by-laws. I hear that's a real pain."
"No worries. I can have your by-laws rewritten by tomorrow."

"So we're all agreed? The whole thing is set up through June now? Have we got all the players, all the money, all the fake meetings?"
"Yeah, we're all set. I'll be in touch with each of you. We'll have an official-looking meeting next week. Keep everything on the up and up."

"Let's leave separately."
"I'll stay. I'm not done with my latte."

And that, my friends, is what happens at a clandestine PTA meeting. Not that I know anything about that sort of covert operation of course.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How Many Moms Does It Take. . .

How many moms does it take to drive a child to school?

The season of carpools has begun, and I enjoy juggling schedules as much as the next person, but I got a request yesterday that left me scratching my head.

I was asked if I could help get a neighbor's child to school because it was too hard for the mom. She has three kids.

And apparently, it's also too difficult for the nanny who is there in the morning to help with the three kids.

So because life is just so easy for me I guess, I'm the obvious choice. I'm just shrugging my shoulders and shaking my head on this one. I wish I had a nanny to help out in the morning!

Then there was the phone call from a famous volunteer. We'll call her "martyr mom."

She has been known to take on enormous fund raising projects single-handedly. But this year she has a conflict with the big magazine drive. Her words to me were:

"Do you work?"

I substitute teach, which is unpredictable, so for some reason I answered "no."

"Oh good, then you can work the four days of the magazine drive. It's a huge amount of work."

I wanted to scream. This woman needs to 1) Learn to delegate. 2) Plan ahead and 3) Stop assuming those of us who don't work 40 hours a week are not busy.

We moms make a lot of different lifestyle choices when it comes to raising our kids. I am trying trying trying today to remember to be tolerant and see things from other points of view. I think having all these kids has just blessed me with some different organizational skills.

And I did enjoy the quiet house yesterday. You know, because I don't work, I just sat around. . .

Monday, August 25, 2008

What I'm Singing Today

In honor of it being the 25th of the month (only 4 months until Christmas!) I'm singing a little Christmas carol today. I've been singing this to my kids a lot lately. Wonderful tune.

For some reason my kids don't think this is as funny as I do.

And here they go!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Counting Down the Hours till School Starts

This is Drama Girl's locker. Somehow, she has to fit a gigantic backpack in here, along with a lunch bag, numerous notebooks, sweatshirts, PE clothes. This is her space, so I didn't say anything. I thought the frogs taped to the door were a nice touch, but I have my doubts as to whether all those Littlest Pet Shop magnet toys will stay on the top.

I'm sure I wasn't half this insane when I was entering seventh grade. Of course, it helps that I've completely forgotten what I kept in my locker.

Poor Wasabi Girl had tears in her eyes on registration day. She's getting a new locker and it's not ready yet, so she couldn't unload her big bag of decorations and magnets.

Jungle Boy has a locker on the bottom row. When he was practicing his combination he closed the door part way, and the bottom corner stuck out. I tapped it with my foot, then I realized what I had demonstrated.

"Don't ever kick your locker!"

Too late. I saw the gleam in his eyes. Bad mommy.

Monday morning, I will do something new and wonderful for me; I will drop off three children at the same school at the same time. This hasn't happened in years.

Then I will come home and sit. In my nice quiet house. Just sit. Aaaaah.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

We're Cheesy!

A while back, I wrote some haiku about some beloved cheese. The cheese company found it. The cheese company started following me on Twitter. The cheese company was so impressed, they promised to deliver some cheese!

The cheese got lost, probably robbed by cheese bandits en route. I was crushed. But the cheese company was determined to thank me for my lame haiku. So they sent me this; a nice note on official cheese company note cards (who ever heard of such a thing).

But along with the note, a big box of swag for the kids! Cow toys! cow pens! a magnet and magnet frame! cow tattoos! a cheese slicer (my husband is very excited about that one!) cheesy coloring books! a cow and cheese calendar!

Best of all, we got these cow hats. The kids, being hilarious as they are, have been wearing them almost nonstop. I may have to intervene to prevent them from wearing them to school.

So thanks, Tillamook cheese, for all the fun silly goodies. They're right up our ally.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to write a sonnet to a diamond company. . .

Friday, August 22, 2008

Blog friend spotlight

Want a dose of retro cool with some great humor thrown in? Take a visit over to Amy's site today "I Love Retro Things."

I love her header. People who know me in person know I have a thing for plates. I've held back on showing you my full plate obsession on Vintage Thingies Thursdays, but suffice to say, I could name all the lines of plates in her header without the tags.

She is such a wonderful mom, she bakes goodies for her kids lunches. Go check out her recipe for banana chocolate cupcakes!

If I lived near Amy, I would want to flip through all of her vintage magazines and borrow her steamy novels. Go check out the covers! Great stuff.

But I don't live near Amy, because she's in New Zealand. But through the wonder of the internet, we can visit her as if she's next door.


Next you need to visit my blog friend Laura, of "Catholic Teacher Musings." I love her blog. Her avatar is a picture of Jan from The Brady Bunch. She's a big fan of the Brady Bunch, which proves we are long lost sisters. I never missed an episode of that show.

She's starting a trend with Bad Haiku Friday, but I think my favorite poem of hers is an anti-ode to Dana Torres. Go read it now. It needs to be published somewhere.

My only fear is that she prints out my blog and takes a red pen to it every day, since she admits to being a grammer dork. I'm sure I flunk!

I love Laura's writing, and she's also a a real-life pal of another of my favorites, Cheryl from Twinfatuation. Their broken playdate left *me* in tears.

So in honor of these two great bloggers, I am passing along this award I recently received:

I hope you enjoy it ladies, as much as I enjoy your blogs. And Laura, what's for dinner? Pork chops and applesauce?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Greek Wedding Crowns

These are the crowns my husband and I wore at our big fat Greek wedding. They were his grandmother's. She brought them from Greece in the early 1920s.

She was a young woman who had been summoned to marry the young man she'd met in the village who had gone off to America to escape conscription by the Turkish army. She was shy and scared, but thrilled when she saw the glories of San Francisco. She thought she would love living there. They got married in the Greek Orthodox Church and to her dismay, moved to the wild woods of Northern California where he worked in a lumber mill. No big city life for her. As the family story goes, she cried when she found out. For months. But there were many Greeks in Crescent City, and she adjusted to her rustic lifestyle.

She passed these crowns to her daughter, my mother-in-law, who passed them down to me. The artificial orange blossoms have faded a bit, and my mother-in-law had to replace the ribbon that connects them, but they have held up rather well.

In the Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony, the bride and groom are crowned as the king and queen of their home. Rather a lovely symbol.

I hope my girls want to wear these someday. I'm saving them just for them. Wasabi Girl is named after this wonderful woman.

For more vintage goodies, visit Confessions of an Apron Queen.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I am so spectacular

I've been tagged for the "Unspectacular Things" meme. I've enjoyed reading what other people are copping to on their blogs, so now it's my turn, thanks to a tag from Cheryl at Twinfatuation.

The rules:
1. Link the person who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

Here goes:

  1. I have a whole routine for closing the car door. I must have my keys in my hand, no matter what else I'm carrying. A few years ago someone in the neighborhood had a remote lock on the same wavelength and it drove me crazy when my car would "lock itself," so I have to make sure I have my keys with me.
  2. I can pick up a dime off the linoleum with my bare toes. Go try it. It isn't easy.
  3. I have to drink my coffee out of the same mug every day. My husband makes the coffee in the morning and he washes out my mug if necessary, so it's ready for me.
  4. I only give out full-size candy bars at Halloween. Teeny-tiny candy bars are just wrong.
  5. I go into panic mode once I put ice cream into the shopping cart. I rush to get through the checkout and bolt out of the car to get it into the freezer. Ice cream doesn't melt on my watch, but grocery shopping can get pretty stressful.
  6. Every night my husband plumps his down pillow up and then goes in to brush his teeth. I just can't resist, when I see that nice, plump pillow. . .I have to give it a punch. Just. Can't. Resist.
Tagging other people is always the hardest part of these memes, so, if you step up to the plate and offer to do this one, I will feature your blog in an upcoming post. Limited to the first 6 who play along.

Not that my readers are quirky or anything.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


We're stingy about pets around here. We have the two 17 year old cats, who are in charge, and this guy, the frog. The default pet in a household that doesn't buy pets.

He is over a year old now, and how he's lived this long is a mystery to us all. Last August we took a wonderful vacation to a family cabin on the Smith River near the California/Oregon border. It was beautiful and idyllic and the water was clear. Best of all, for the kids, the rocky bank was coated with tiny frogs and the water was full of polliwogs. Other people can call them tadpoles, we think polliwog is a much more fun word.

Against my better judgement, a jar of polliwogs came home with us. Legs began to sprout all over the place and I plunked down the money for an aquarium and frog food and gravel and a heating lamp and on and on.

When they became full-fledged frogs they were small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil eraser. I believe we had about 20 of these tiny hoppers in the aquarium. As expected, they didn't last long, and when it seemed that the last of them had taken the porcelain whirlpool to frog heaven, I told Drama Girl she had to clean out that tank.

She put it off a few days, then took it outside and began hosing it out. Then I heard her squeal.



And here he is a year later. He's about 3 inches long now and would probably be king of the frogs if his family could see him. I think I've sunk about $200 into distilled water, meal worms, crickets, and heating light bulbs. He's endured pet sitters twice while we went away on vacation.

He's not interesting. He's not cuddly, and he doesn't have any personality. The kids never even got around to giving him a name. But they love him. As much as my husband doesn't want any more pets in the house, I think when this frog finally goes, the kids deserve a hamster or something.

Anybody who can keep this guy alive for this long, is a pretty good pet owner.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Alone Again

The dear husband is going on a business trip Monday morning at the crack of dawn. I wont see him until Wednesday night. I'm thrilled.

Don't get me wrong, I adore my husband. I couldn't live without him. But I am an introvert in the extreme. I completely recharge when I can be completely alone. So once the kids go to bed and I have the house to myself, I will glory in it.

I will burn smelly candles in the bedroom, and stay up really late reading, without worrying that I have to turn the lights off because someone has to go to work in the morning. I might watch my favorite costume dramas on dvd, while eating chocolate covered pretzels, and doing my toenails. Because nobody will be around to make me feel self-conscious.

I'm going to "borrow" his pillow, which is fluffier than mine, and sleep sideways on the bed, with the covers exactly the way I want them.

The cats will always choose my lap.

I usually rearrange the furniture while he's gone. Don't ask me why. He always approves, it's just something I like to do without input. I might put different art on the walls or switch the rugs around (no small feat). I don't know why. It's just so liberating for me.

Then when he comes home on Wednesday night, the house will be a little different, and so will I. It's crazy, how much I enjoy this small freedom. But three days is about enough. Then I need him back.

Too much of a good thing can get lonely.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dear Cool Crafty Goddesses

Please stop. You are making me feel hopelessly inadequate. Crafting is now so cool and hip and edgy, those of us who don't have an Etsy shop are feeling like the kids who always wore the wrong brand of shoes to school.

I knit, I crochet, and I can make a scarf. You knit and crochet and make cutsie tiny animals. I can't even pronounce amigurumi.

I quilt, and make nice, basic bed coverings. You quilt and make works of art that I can't even conceive of.

You do-it-yourselfers are fearlessly painting and making mosaics and etching and throwing pots. I once tried to put up a garland around my dining room for Christmas. I had a glue gun in one hand and a staple gun in the other. When the ladder fell I threw my back out. My kids learned some new words that day.

I scoffed when the scrapbook craze began. "Grown women! Playing with stickers!" I don't laugh any more. Scrapbooking is so fantastically creative and complex I know I could never do it.

But really, if there is one person who must be stopped, it is you, Mary Engelbreit. I used to love your eclectic mix of soft colors and funky flea-market decor. You featured artists who painted and strung beads and had lovely inviting studios. I was so inspired. Now your magazine frightens me. It's just too -- creative.

I must be old. I can't keep up. I have been left in the dust.

Call me when simple retro craftiness comes back in style. I'll be over here making yo-yos.

(Wasabi Girl made a bunch of the yo-yos on here. They turned out different sizes, so it's a bit wonky. I love it because of its imperfections.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What Memory Problem?


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I blame my kids for my memory problems. First, there are situations like the one above. It happened again today. A familiar-faced lovely woman exchanged warm pleasantries with me in the bookstore. I don't know her from Adam. You could have held a million dollars in front of me as a bribe if I could remember her name, and I would have failed. It's the kids' fault.

Three kids, multiple schools, multiple activities. My life is a complex web of mommy relationships. Did she know me from softball? Chess club? One of the PTA's I'm on? Have I played bunco with her? Maybe we go to the same salon or worked on costumes for a childrens play together.

I bet people with only one kid can keep their friends and acquaintances straight. Maybe my problem also lies in the fact that I talk to everyone, everywhere. As you can see, I can't suppress it, so I blog so I can talk to everybody everywhere.

Maybe she checks groceries for me.

I also blame the kids because they fill my head with tons of completely useless information. Did you know you're never more than 3 feet from a spider? Or that Napoleon never changed his underwear? I learn stuff like that and instantly forget entire semesters of statistics classes I took in college.

"Every time I remember the name of a student, I forget the name of a fish"
- ichthyologist and early Stanford President David Starr Jordan
I think I can also blame the kids because I am completely distracted all the time. During that moment in the bookstore, I was wondering where Drama Girl had wandered off to, was trying to stop Jungle Boy from doing pirouettes, and was trying to point Wasabi Girl in the direction of the American Girl books.

So I'm sorry, lovely mommy person in the bookstore, you caught me at a bad time; namely, out of context from where I usually see you. When I see you there again I promise I'll remember you.

It's not my fault.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bad Mood Busted

I was in a bad mood earlier today. First, I stayed home all day yesterday waiting for the Tillamook Cheese truck. As you may recall, I wrote a little post about my love of this particular cheese. Next thing I knew, I was getting emails that they would send me a coupon. Then they upped the ante and said the truck would come to deliver my cheese on the 13th.

What did it all mean? A brick of cheese? A basket? A lifetime supply? My thoughts ran wild.

So I promised to be home.

I promised a cheese company in another state that I would be home from 10-5 on a beautiful summer day with my three children.

It wasn't a great day. We live in a quiet neighborhood and at every sound from the street I made the kids jump up and see if it was the cheese truck. All day. And they did, bless their hearts. They also tripped and elbowed eachother in the process. And they got on my nerves and bugged one another. All day.

I wanted to go to the county fair. I wanted to see the quilts and the pig races and eat fried stuff. It would have been a perfect day for it. No piano lessons scheduled. No lessons of any kind. But we stayed home instead, because the cheese was coming.

But the cheese never came. Evil cheese. Dashed my dreams of dairy goodness. I sent an email and today I heard that "someone is looking into it." Don't destroy my dreams like that, Tillamook cheese. I don't think I can wait for you again.

Then this morning I got a call that the school district has lost my substitute teacher employee file. Again. Would I mind getting my fingerprints and having my transcripts sent again? Um, yes, actually I do mind.

Then I spent all afternoon in the car. I wont bore you with the details, but by the end of the afternoon I was tearing my hair out and vowing I would never drive anybody anywhere again for the rest of my life. Not that I ever exaggerate or anything.

But I couldn't maintain my crankiness. The universe conspired against my mood swing.

When I arrived home after dropping somebody somewhere, Drama Girl opened the front door and said "I've made you tea." I could have wept. She almost never does stuff like that. It was so lovely of her.

Then I went through my mail and I found the sweet fabric basket I won from Quilt Taffy. It's so me, down to the pink rick-rack.

Also in the mail, a canvas for a needlepoint ornament I ordered off eBay. And get this; they sent me another one to go with it, because I live so close, and "paid too much for postage." So now I get to work on not one, but two, ornaments of animals with clothes. It's my lucky day.

To top it off, when I was waiting for Jungle Boy to finish his piano lesson, I popped into the thrift store and found a perfect vintage apron for $1.99.

I forgot what I was so cranky about. Thanks world. I think we'll go the fair tomorrow.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Thornton W Burgess books

These are a few of the books by Thornton W. Burgess that I got from my parents when I was a kid. These editions were published in the 40s, but were originally written as early as 1910.

According to Wikipedia, by the time he retired, Mr. Burgess had written 170 books and 15,000 stories for daily columns in newspapers. Pretty impressive daily output in the days before blogging!

All of the stories reflect his love of nature and the details of the natural world, and add one of my favorite things - clothing on animals. I always wondered who made those little jackets and dresses and shoes. They're just so cute. If the animals make them themselves, where do they get the fabric? It's all a mystery we're not supposed to think about.

The illustrations are by Harrison Cady. These books have been reprinted almost endlessly and you can pick up paperback editions with the original illustrations from Amazon for about $2 each. They're great first chapter books for kids.

I love old books for children like this. Thanks for visiting. For more Vintage Thingies Thursdays visit Confessions of an Apron Queen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Shopper's Eye

When I see this

I envision this.

Vintage pattern from eBay. Stitching time courtesy of a car trip to Disneyland. Tuesday through Sunday towels - don't hold your breath. I might need another Disneyland trip.

Do you think Emeril would be pleased?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Field Trip: San Francisco

We took a trip to San Francisco on Saturday. We had lunch at a lovely little restaurant called the "Blue Mermaid," which my husband thought was called the "Bloomer Maid." We're the type of family that will probably be reminding him of that one for years.

Here is Wasabi Girl demonstrating her love of calamari tentacles. I prefer the little rings myself, but there's a reason I call her Wasabi Girl.

One-man band. You should have heard him do "My Generation," complete with screaming. The crowd went wild.

Pier 39 sea lions. This is a particularly good way to drive a 12 year old girl crazy. She was dying to shop at Pier 39, so we lingered here to enjoy this view. For some reason she thought this was incredibly boring.

Break dancers. Jungle Boy was eating this up. See the guy with the crutches? Broke his leg break dancing. They called him "Broken Leg."

My favorite mammals.

"Oh look kids, Alcatraz! Everybody practice your perp walk!"

Monday, August 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Drama Girl!

Today my oldest child is 12.

Her life is an interesting journey. She was the long wished-for baby after miscarriages. The one for whom I spent hours researching pregnancy and baby-tending. The one who decided to be born early after I decided to have garlic-jalapeno pizza for dinner.

The oldest gets to be the trailblazer in the family. The first to go to school, the first to have sleepovers, the first to get a cell phone.

She has been my fairy princess, a Hogwarts student, an actress.

She collects experiences and friends like a ball made from rubber bands. Each one making her more than she was before.

I've been there when she discovered the beach, the zoo, Disneyland. I've watched her learn to read.

I've watched her grow her own taste and opinions. I've watched her navigate the joys and challenges of having siblings so close in age.

And now here we are, on the brink of some possibly tumultuous years. I've been writing about her a lot lately, because her metamorphosis is amazing and I want to always remember what this time is like. I don't want her to grow up too fast, but I'm enjoying watching her journey so much that this morning I am reminded to prepare myself for the inevitable. She wont stop growing up, no matter what I do.

So happy birthday Drama Girl! Thanks for making me a mom. I love you.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Feeling Loved

Thank you Monkey Memories! What a sweet award, and a nice way to start my week!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust

I try to teach my kids. I think every parent does. Teach them to face their fears and be ready for what the world has in store for them. Usually the best teaching is by example.

Drama Girl has never liked roller coasters. She can tell by looking at them that they will be too scary for her. She particularly doesn't like any ride that has big drops or can get her wet. There are a few coasters at Disneyland, but the only one she has ever consented to go on was the little one in Toontown.

Enter the cool aunt and the new uncle who joined us for a day at Disneyland. Somehow between us we talked Drama Girl into going on Splash Mountain, 50 foot drop and all. Only a huge amount of love and trust would have worked in a case like this.

For the record, Drama Girl is turning 12 next week, and most of the time I am her embarrassingly uncool mom. It's hard to be that age and have a crazy mom like me. It's hard to do things with the family when you'd rather be reading your tween magazines or shopping. Sometimes just even being with your parents is just unbearably dreadful.

So as the logs were being loaded for the ride, I stood forward and offered to sit in the front. I knew I would get wet. I knew I had one chance to make a point. So as the log reached the top of the ramp just before the plunge, I did it.

I put my hands up high in the air.

I got soaked when we hit the bottom of the flume.

I laughed. Because it was fun. And it was funny that I got so wet. We're talking all that hair that I had blow-dried to perfection in the morning, my shorts, shirt, new leather purse. Everything.

We got off the ride laughing at ourselves. Everyone turned to Drama Girl. "How did you like it?"

She looked at me and grinned. "That was great! Let's do the Matterhorn!"

From that moment forward, I started calling her coaster girl.

She lost a tooth at dinner that night. The next morning she woke up to find that Tinker Bell had left her not only a Disney dollar for her lost tooth, but an autographed picture from Ariel. She looked at it for a bit and then asked why the tooth fairy would have left it.

"Because it's Disneyland and she wanted to give you something special." [And when you slip out of the Storyteller's cafe to get a Disney dollar at the front desk of the Grand Californian hotel they go overboard and give you an autographed picture to go with it.]

She pondered this a moment and then said "I don't really need this, I'm going to give it to the first little girl I see at Disneyland who's dressed like a princess."

And she did, much to that little girl's delight.

And as we walked towards the Matterhorn (her new favorite ride) she did something I can't remember her doing for a long time -- she slipped her hand into mine. I was in heaven.

Thank you Disneyland. That's some powerful magic you've got there.

Friday, August 8, 2008

How to Have a Perfect Trip to Disneyland

First, bring some cute twins who packed matching shirts.

Add one silly, dramatic pre-teen to sing along with Snow White at her wishing well.

Hold hands.

Get excited about finding the Wall*e nickel press machine.

Play with characters.

Get autographs from your favorites.

Ask very politely if you may pilot the Mark Twain riverboat.

Sign your name on the ship's log.

Ride Jingles, the lead horse on the Carousel, who is Julie Andrews' official horse. See the little umbrella with a parrot head just behind the saddle?

Lose a tooth at Storyteller's Cafe just before the waiter surprises you with birthday cake. Find a Disney dollar under your pillow the next morning.

This is Ken. Ask Ken very politely and very quietly and he just might let you ride here in the "Lilly Belle," the private car at the end of the train. Walt Disney had this created for visiting dignitaries, and the first to ride were the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

Goof around posing with the big letters in front of Disney's California Adventure.

Scream when you get caught by the "Dream Squad," and get fastpasses for every fastpass attraction at Disneyland and DCA.

Go see Oscar at Carnation Cafe and wish him happy birthday. Oscar started working at Disneyland in 1955, the year it opened. He's a great guy and the warmest most wonderful person you might ever meet. He just turned 73 and is a little vague about when he's going to retire.

For me, Oscar embodies the spirit of joy and love and family that permeates Disneyland. Seeing him and giving him birthday wishes was a wonderful way to end our trip.

Tomorrow: A little Disneyland miracle.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Can we handle any more Harry Potter?

I have long felt that I have a fourth child in my family. A kid with a lightning scar across his forehead. A magical kid who goes to Hogwarts. My kids have gone through periods where they think they go to Hogwarts.

Drama Girl started reading the books in second grade, and by 2004, she was casting spells on people.

In 2005 Wasabi Girl began her Hogwarts studies.

Last year I not only had two Hogwarts students, but Bellatrix Lestrange showed up.

My Bellatrix won a costume contest at the bookstore when we went there for the midnight release of Harry Potter 7. We had to get two copies, and even with that, we had to make deals around who could read them first. Drama Girl and I stayed up all night reading. I finished in the morning, tired and tearful, and passed a copy on to Jungle Boy, who was impatient for his turn. Drama Girl fell asleep around 6 am so she finished later.

Yes, that's right, we have multiple copies of the books, because for a while there everyone was reading them at the same time. I once walked into the living room and saw six of the books on the coffee table. That's pretty bad since there are only five people in the family. The kids listen to the tapes all the time and I'm starting to think the narrator, Jim Dale, also lives at my house.

We've got the movies, the wands, the Hedwig puppet. I threw an incredible HP birthday party one year. We play HP on the Wii. But overall, the obsession seems to be slowing down.

Now the kids have all seen this:

To me it looks like "Harry Potter 6: Dumbledore phones it in." I just don't know if I can handle any more Harry.

But then again, it does have Jim Broadbent in it. I always like him.

Who am I kidding. We'll probably be first in line for this one too. *sigh* I wonder what it's like to have a family that doesn't grow up with Harry?

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