Sunday, October 31, 2010


I really love Halloween. One of my favorite Halloween activities is carving pumpkins. We didn't do any last year, since I was still recovering from my elbow surgery, so this year I made sure that we made time in our busy schedules to give it a go. 

The best part about this year is that I didn't have to carve all of the kids' pumpkins myself. Both Pen and Ginger decided that they should carve their own this time around. It was a little difficult for me to give up the reins, being a slight perfectionist and all, but I figure it's these kind of baby steps that will prepare me for when they want to get behind the wheel of the car in a few years. Right?

Pen wanted to try a more difficult pattern this year, and she did a great job. Well, except for a slight mishap with the top of the owl's head. But, we want to make Halloween thrilling for owls, too. They shouldn't be left out, I don't think, and Pen's jack o'lantern will give them nightmares of partial-beheadings. (and, yes, I realize the candles are in focus and the owl isn't, but it was cold!)

Ginger carved her own pumpkin for the very first time this year, and I think she did fantastically. She picked a pattern that is very fitting for her personality. Plus, it wasn't super difficult-- a perfect place to start.

I carved the boys' pumpkins with the patterns they picked out. I was nice and patient with Bud's, so it turned out great.

With a little over-eager and anxious help from Big we had a minor dental mishap-- but, luckily, I know a smidge about toothpick-jack-o'-lantern dentistry so it was fairly easily remedied.

I love seeing the kids in costume (although in Big's case he just went out in his daily wear). The excitement was palpable as I made them stand still long enough to have their pictures taken. The candy was calling!

(Big developed this smile rather abruptly. I'm hoping it's just a virus.)

We really had a great day together as a family, and Pen even got to go to her first middle school party! Her first Halloween party ever, I guess. As she kind of pranced out of the car excitedly (Dancers do that. The prancing.) and headed up to her friend's front door, I realized something. Pen was feeling absolutely no self-consciousness about what she was wearing, even though it was skintight.

Rophone and I have managed to raise daughters with none of the terrible body issues that I had growing up! I mean, I wasn't fat at her age, but I thought that I was. The realization that she has none of those same warped ideas of her body image that I did made me want to cheer. And cry. 

Instead, I just held Rophone's hand and whispered my happiness that we did it. Now we just have to keep it up. Really, what a great day! 

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Nagging Cycle

I love how my kids seem to think that nagging is something I do because I want to. Like I do it for no reason. I consider myself to be quite patient-- even if I have asked my children to do something (or stop doing something) many times before, I will often give them days, if not weeks, only asking every couple of days for it to be taken care of. If, at that point, the problem still exists, I just may force the issue a bit and begin to nag in earnest. 

It usually goes something like this:

Me: "Please stop leaving your clothes on the floor of the bathroom. I've asked you many times before, and it makes it really difficult to use the sink. Plus, I know they're not all dirty but it's not my job to go through them. If you could go separate them out, put the dirty clothes where they go so they can be washed and the clean away in your drawer, I'd appreciate it."

The Offender: "SORRY!" (but they don't go do it)

A few days later I ask again.

The Offender: "I WILL!" (but they don't go do it)

A few days later... 

The Offender: "OKAAAAY!" (but they don't go do it)

It's been more than a week now and it's still there. In fact, it's been added to. See? (Oh and ignore the sponge painted cabinets-- it's NOT my house)

When I ask again today I will get the extremely exasperated "OKAAAY! I WIIIILLL! STOP NAGGING! Geez! You're such a nag! Why do you have to nag me so much?"

It is then that I will sit The Offender down and say, "Well, let's see. Let's examine your role in The Nagging Cycle in this instance. What part are you playing to contribute to its continuance?"

They love it. 

I just refuse to let my children continue on with the notion that nagging is just something that I do as an annoying mom, that they are without fault, and that I should just stop without them changing anything about their behavior. It's just not so. 

Actually, depending on how the hormones are raging (on both sides, I admit), I often have success with our examination of The Nagging Cycle. Frequently, they see my point and go do what they are asked to do and, sometimes, continue doing what I ask with promptness for a few days. It's so nice when reminders are met with pleasantness and quick action rather than orneriness and no action for weeks. 

I really have the best results when I bring it up at a later, less-heated time. Like, maybe, when we're enjoying a nice cup of hot cocoa together, or are creating something fabulous in the kitchen. "You know when you asked me why I nag so much? Well, it goes back to The Nagging Cycle that we've talked about before..."

My hair guy thinks it's pretty funny that I've coined a term for it, but I really can't believe it hasn't already been done. I mean, it's not just my household that is affected. It's a huge phenomenon! I will continue on in my research of The Nagging Cycle in hopes of one day helping not only my own family, but those in the entire nation. Nay, the ENTIRE WORLD! I've always wanted to contribute.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


It was just as we thought. 

Everyone is rather excited. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Joke Tellers

I took pictures of the boys today while they made up jokes to tell me. It was hilarious. Not because the jokes were funny, but because the jokes made absolutely no sense and yet the boys were certain that they were being hysterical. It's easy to laugh with a kid who thinks they're being funny. 

It actually started with me trying to tell them some jokes. This is how it went. 

Bud finally begged me to stop.

Tough audience. Ouch.

Then Bud and Big decided to show me how it was done.

Thinking of a joke can be pretty tough...

... but sometimes the perfect one comes to you as if from the heavens...

... and when you deliver the punchline and get the laughs there's almost nothing better.


We're sorry you're not funny, Mom.

But we are.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Twelve Delayed

Pen turned 12 on Saturday. I find it a little hard to believe, but it's true. Rophone had to work all day on her birthday (he had to leave the house at about 5:30 am and didn't get home until 11:30 pm), so we decided to wait until we could all be together to celebrate. Pen was bummed not to see her dad on her big day, but was cool about waiting. She really wanted everyone to be there. Since Rophone had to work Sunday, too, and Pen had school followed by ballet on Monday, that meant that Tuesday was when it would have to be. 

She did manage to do something fun on her birthday, though. She loves going to the library with friends, so I suggested she invite a few friends to go to the library with her for a few hours. I sent them with cupcakes to eat before they went in, and the friends brought gifts, so I guess that I managed to throw her a birthday party with no real work on my part. Not the way such things usually go, so bonus for me. 

Tuesday finally arrived (I'm sure Pen felt like it took forever), and it just so happened that the kids had an odd day off school. Rophone took the day off work, too, so we managed to spend the whole day celebrating Pen's birthday as a family. It was a lot of fun.

For breakfast I made a sausage and egg strata/casserole that Pen had been wanting to try. She really loved it, although I don't think my attempt at trying to make it healthier by using chicken sausage will be repeated. Not with that chicken sausage anyway. 

After lunch, we headed to the bookstore as a family where Pen was able to spend a gift card one of her friends had given her. We all had a grand time. I am so glad that all of my kids have such a great appreciation for books.

Dinner was Pen-requested burritos. We were all glad that she requested them, since it's been too long since I have made them. They really are too good to go so long without. Rophone just might request them again for his birthday next month.

When dinner was finished, we let Pen start in on her presents. The 'Hunger Games' boxed set was a big hit.

Of course, the underwear was, too. I have well rounded children.

You probably can't guess who picked out the paper for the next one...

Pen loved all of her gifts and, not surprisingly, was anxious to move on to the cake and ice cream.

We were impressed that she managed to get them out with one blow. I mean, considering that it was just a few years ago that she made it look like I was using trick candles when I wasn't. Way to be full of hot air, Pen!

It really ended up being an enjoyable and fun birthday. Well I think it did, anyway. I don't know what Pen's favorite part was, but I know that mine was this lovely card Ginger made for Pen:

I found the back of it to be especially touching. 

Ahhhh. The love of sisters. Happy Birthday, Pen!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Usually when I am pregnant I am besieged by cravings. 

With Pen, it was Taco Bell and Boston Market mashed potatoes. But then Boston Market closed and I had to do with KFC mashed potatoes-- not quite the same, but they did the trick. 

When I was pregnant with Ginger, I craved chimichangas from a local restaurant near where we lived at the time. I also ate a lot of fresh fruits and veggies from the nearby farmer's market. 

With both boys, I really craved sweets. This is odd, since I normally don't like sweets and very rarely indulge. I drank a ton of homemade smoothies when I was pregnant with Bud, too. Big made me want mexican salads. A lot of them.

This time around, I have eaten a veggie sandwich made with havarti cheese, tomatoes and banana peppers from the garden (and armenian cucumber before Big dug it up) almost every day since the garden started producing. Hands down, this still sounds better to me than anything. I have also been craving chips something fierce. Luckily they go well with sandwiches. 

I have discovered greek yogurt, too. I try to have some of that every day for the protein. I also eat a lot of cottage cheese with tomato or fruit and green beans or zucchini on the side. I will be a sad pregnant lady when the garden dies off. 

I had a hankering for a chimichanga yesterday, so tonight I ate one. It just didn't do. I realized as I was eating that it was one of the chimichangas from the local restaurant where we used to live that I needed to satisfy the craving. Guess that's not going to happen. Bummer. 

Sweets have sounded pretty disgusting to me for the most part this time around. Does it signal a girl, perhaps? Only 2 more weeks to wait, and then we'll know. Or maybe we'll just keep it a secret....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Gymnastics Times Two

For the past 5 weeks, both Bud and Ginger have been taking a gymnastics class through the city. Ginger has been begging me for ages to let her take gymnastics, and Bud really wanted to take again since he loved it so much the first time. Their classes were one after the other on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, so Rophone and I tag-teamed it so that no one had to be there for 2 hours straight. 

They got to work on 4 events-- vault, beam, bars and floor. On the last night of classes, the kids got to showcase what they have learned. I, of course, was there with my camera to capture it all. 

Bud and Ginger were pretty much a blur doing the vault, but I did my best to catch what I could. 

Both of the kids really loved the beam. 

The bars are a real challenge. 

And, yes, Bud has a bony butt.

Oh, to be so afflicted.

Their work on the floor was also a bit difficult to capture-- all of those quick movements.

After it was all said and done, it was time for the awards ceremony. Bud and Ginger both looked proud, and I know they had a blast. Ta-da!

Bud definitely wants to do gymnastics again, but Ginger seems to have gotten it out of her system-- back to soccer next fall for her. Way to go, kids!