My online journal.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

OK, OK, twist my arm...

Halloween pix!

Our first-annual Halloween Pirate-Style Dinner: Giant Turkey Drumsticks to chank on!

Lucy was supposed to be the lion, but of course it was princess-or-nothing for her. And the lion costume was WAY too cute to waste.

Ensign Leopold...

That's Jean as the Reindeer of Death. I'm going as "Lucy's Real Mom" in the blond wig. Or, a princess witch. At this moment Lucy was a Hawaiian Indian Princess.

Joel as Rudolph, the Red-Nosed DEMON.

I dunno, there's something (and I can't believe I'm going to use this word) organic and wonderful about just opening up a box of costume parts and accessories and letting everyone have at it. I'm all for choosing one specific costume a month ahead of time and going full-out... but the impromptu dress-up kind of seemed to embody the real spirit of the holiday.

The Dalys came over for trick-or-treating after dinner, and we did a five-block canvass of our neighborhood. The kids held up really well, despite having to be reminded to yell "Trick or Treat!" at every single house. And to say "Thank you" after they got the candy, at Every. Single. House. And despite the incredible hilliness of our neighborhood -- the kids really had to work for their loot!

The Daly girls were SO adorable in their matching teddy bear costumes (Carol you're going to post pix, right???). Ed was a hit as the lion -- he even remembered to say "TWEET!" almost every time. And Lucy was very happy to be the princess... thank goodness.

I was reading a Midwestern Living magazine (that I cannot seem to stop receiving even though I can hardly stand its smarminess) article about holiday traditions and so I've been thinking a lot about our own family traditions, of which there has been a pathetic dearth. I mean, MY family has traditions, and JOEL's family has traditions, but we haven't really started establishing our own. Well anyway, in the article one mom they interviewed was talking about how the family eats a casserole the night they decorate the Christmas tree and the mom was like "Eating a simple food like a casserole keeps us grounded...." and I was like, COME ON, nobody in real life says things like that. A casserole is easy to throw together and easy to reheat and easy to chow down on and call it a whole meal -- that's why you make a casserole. Not to remind yourself that beneath all the perfect decos you harvested from your own personal forest you happen to own behind your amazing home that's being featured in a beautiful-if-smarmy magazine, you're still just real people at heart.

So I'm really sorry I used the word "organic" earlier. It won't happen again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A mind of her own... inherited from us.

Update on Lucy and Halloween:

"Lucy, tomorrow night we're going to go on a walk. You don't have to dress in a costume, but Eddie will."

"Oh Daddy, I just want to go to Halloween."

"Lucy, do you want to wear a costume?"

"Yes, I want to wear a costume and go trick-or-treating."


"So, Lu... what do you want to be?"

"Um, a princess."

Gee, no kidding.

I forgot to mention that last Sunday morning we were doing second-breakfast with my folks and Lucy was getting super tired from Grandparent Overindulgence so she started to have a whining freak-out at the table. As in, she wanted the entire 28-oz jar of jelly on her piece of toasted bread. And also not.

So she got some quiet time by herself in the bedroom. My mom went in after a minute and asked Lucy if she knew why she was in a time-out.

"I threw a fit," she answered.

Gee, no kidding.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Glory be!

Then the door burst open wide!
And my daddy stepped inside!
And he kissed my mama's face!
And he brushed her tears away!
The night Chicago died Na-na na, na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na-na-na...

This song is stuck in my head. Yes, indeed. Oh, and Jean, Paper Lace is the band.

Ed is supposed to be napping but instead he's in his crib saying "Ready, go. Wheeeee!!" What a goofball.

We had an awesome weekend in Chicagoland! We got in to RM very late on Thursday night but the kids slept almost the whole way in the car, and were total angels. We got to see Stu and Julie and the twins, and Matt and Megan and Charlie, plus Nick and Estelle, and we got to spend lots of quality time with Ellen's boyfriend Dwayne Blazer. He taught us the trick to being the wittiest person in the room, and elevated our family banter to a new level of sarcasm. Oh, and Ed slipped on a rocking-whale at the playground and chipped his two front teeth. Poor little snaggletooth.

Ed climbed into bed with Lucy on Saturday morning at my parents' house, and she was trying to read him a book but he was getting wiggly. "Don't go, Eddie!" Lucy said. "I'm nice! I'm friendly!"

Lu had her last dance class of the session this morning, and I picked up Joel at work so we could all watch. All the other kids in class said their names, and of course Lucy insisted she was "Cinderella." She did pretty well as far as following along with the movements, but she latched onto another little girl and together they kind of went into goof-off mode: spending more time dancing/pretending to nap with each other than listening to Miss Lee. Oh, well. Ed was devastated that he couldn't join in the dancing and I had to let him run around in the hall for the second half of class.

Oh, PS Mom: I still have your camera. Sorry!

It's a gorgeous fall day here -- the oak tree in our front yard is radiant orange, with the sun streaming through. I picked about eight more tomatoes this morning -- 90% of the plants are totally dead, but there's still quite a bit of good fruit boldly clinging to life. I want to go pick up some pumpkins for the kids, even though Lucy has officically filed for Conscientious Objector status for Halloween.

I'd better start picking up this dump. Oof, it's tough to be gone for the whole weekend.

Don't forget, everybody, tomorrow (Tuesday) everybody in America gets a free taco from Taco Bell!! from 2-5 PM. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

Much to my chagrin and despite all my positive thinking to the contrary, it's really turning into autumn. The trees are truly gorgeous but our heat has been kicking on for the last couple of days. We really enjoyed receiving last month's energy bill, which was like eight dollars. But those days are short-lived.

This week is my one-year anniversary of being home with the kids! I deserve a gold watch but I bought myself a new pair of Gap jeans instead. Buying jeans at the Gap is ridiculous ("The Classic" -- "The Essential" -- "The Curvy""The High Waist" -- "The Long and Lean" -- give me a break!!) but ultimately satisfying (it turns out my rear end is rather pleasantly-shaped -- but who knew, since I had been ignorantly if contentedly drowning in a pair of Dollhouse stretch jeans that I had already worn straight through two pregnancies).
Please think nice thoughts for the people in Southern California whose homes are threatened by the fires -- specifically, my friend Alison and her family. One fire about 5 minutes from Alison's house was started by an arsonist -- I had thought they were all just wildfires. Anyway, it's got to be really scary to be living out there right now.
Also, I found which is a blog by professional dancers. It's really cool.
Also a quick Lucy tidbit: when she's sitting on the pot and I'm sitting on the edge of the tub (because she likes company), she often will reach out and massage that little wrinkle that I get right between my eyebrows when I frown. I'm sure she just thinks the wrinkle is weird-looking but I think it's a sweet gesture -- don't frown, Mommy.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What've I been up to?

Jean and I went to see Urinetown (yes, again -- this time at Bloomington Civic Theatre) on Saturday night. So basically I've missed all but one American League playoff game (and I missed all the NL games because the Powers That Be decided to televise them only on cable -- and then they wonder why the ratings were dismal). World Series starts Wednesday, and I can actually watch the first game. Can't wait!!

Urinetown was fantastic. Though in several aspects, I liked Heritage's production earlier this summer, better. Much better. But really BCT's show was incredible as well. We got to sit right in front of John Command, who was spittin' nails about Patrick Morgan's microphone going in and out. It's fun to get that inside look at the behind-the-scenes action -- though we didn't exactly have a choice.

Lucy told me yesterday that she HAD to put on some makeup because she looks "scaredy." So there's something else I have to stop saying.

We really had a fabulous weekend -- on Saturday, the sun finally came out, PLUS I got an extra-good deal on a bunch of Craig's List toys for the kids for Xmas, PLUS I got to go to the new Trader Joe's in Woodbury, plus Joel and I took the kids on a "nature hike" at Battle Creek Park, plus we scored a couple little treats (Aladdin and Beauty & the Beast on VHS, plus some "shish" swim trunks for Ed) at a garage sale. And I mowed the lawn in the sunshine. It was, like, my perfect day. On Sunday Jean and I went for a run (once around Phalen (3 mi)-- her first post-marathon run and my first run in several months) and surprisingly, I made it the whole way. Then Joel and I cleaned the garage -- or no, wait, that was on Saturday. Well, it got done and so did all the laundry and we have enough leftover dinners to make it through the entire week so it's Monday and I feel like I've got a nice solid jump on the week.

Which is great because I found out at the end of last week that I'm also choreographing Ashland's Christmas show. And then over the weekend, when I off-handedly asked how many people were in this Christmas show, I found out that oh, by the way, I'm also IN the show. Yikes! I'm sure Joel is really skeptical of how I'm going to bend the laws of time and space to fulfill these extra commitments. I'm interested to see how it all works out, myself.

Hey, I just found out that my cousin Amy is in the hospital with some pretty serious medical issues. Read her blog for more info, and send some healthy thoughts to her and her family.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mom's version of the William Tell Overture

My Aunt Rosemary sent me a link to this YouTube video that I think is totally awesome.

It made me grin insanely for a few minutes -- but you know how I am about singing. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Desperately Seeking Discipline

Because I can scarcely keep track of my own stuff, I do not expect you to. So before I launch into this post, I remind you, dear reader, that on Tuesdays I teach elementary-school kids a "theatre class" consisting of acting, singing, and dancing.

So despite the godawful timing and logistics of the class (it's 3:30-5pm on Tuesdays in Mahtomedi, and Daycare Dee can only keep the kids until, like, 4:45 and we only have one set of car seats so Joel has to scramble out of work to get the kids and then hang out at Target for half an hour until I can pick the three of them up and really I need to find a better solution because Joel is getting peeved), I do love teaching it.

Except for the talking.

The class is right after school, so the kids have a LOT of energy to expend and a LOT to catch up on. Understandable. And some activities we do do seem to hold their attention enough. But during some of the other stuff, there is nonstop chattering going on. Waiting in line to take a turn speaking? Chattering.

Or this one kid is doing handstands instead of watching his peers take their turns performing. I ask him to stop. I joke -- handstands are awesome, I love doing them myself, I'm all for tumbling but this is not tumbling class! And the next time I turn around, there's Tyler, doing another handstand.

It drives me insaaaaane and as someone with no education training, I feel desperately ill-equipped to deal with it. I want to just scream at them, but that's totally not the right thing to do -- not to mention I am still trying to get my voice back 100% after my brave battle with the double dose of chest cold/marathon cheering. The only thing I really know how to do is give time-outs, so I don't call them that but I did send 2 kids to go sit out and not participate in whatever activity we were doing at the time. The girl took it well (despite the fact that "Sheila was talking to me FIRST!") and came back at the end of the activity to take her turn. But poor Tyler the Handstand Boy sat out the entire rest of the class, refusing to rejoin even when I went over and asked him nicely to please come back, we're all having fun, and maybe if your mother would cut your hair I could actually see your face to talk to you.

So I guess next week they get a little talk about respecting each other's performances by paying attention, blah bah... I wish I knew what to do.

Oh rats I have to get up at the crack of dawn and make apple cake for ECFE tomorrow. But I really want to see how the Red Sox-Indians game ends. Blast it!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Elephantitis of the tomato and apple

I harvested about 4 more cups of tomatoes today -- is this normal for the middle of October? Will these things ever die?

Also the Gronaus took us to Karen and Skip Olson's house on Saturday for an impromptu apple-pick. We came home with, I kid you not, probably 50 pounds of apples. So... I'm planning on making pie. And applesauce. And apple cake. Yeepers.

At some point over the weekend, Grammy Donna taught Lucy this song:

I love him, I love him, I love him
And where he goes I'll follow, I'll follow, I'll follow
He'll always be my true love, my true love, my true love
From now until forever, forever, forever...

Apparently not content with the chorus, Lucy also learned the entire verse:

I will follow him
Follow him wherever he may go
There isn't an ocean too deep
A mountain so high it can keep!
Keep me away!!
Away from my love!!!

Lu's not so good on the pronouns (it's usually "I will follow you...") But truly, Joel and I about wet ourselves in the van today when Lucy busted it out. Amazing.

Of course, she's still stuck on Joseph too -- Potiphar being her favorite scene. I mean, really, of all the wonderful family-friendly scenes in that show, she latches on to Potiphar? There's no accounting for tastes.

Speaking of tastes, Ed got a nice taste of Lucyflesh on Thursday when he took a hearty bite out of her face. He didn't draw blood, but Lu has eight very distinct tooth-shaped bruises right on her right cheek.

HEY! Bloomington Civic Theatre is doing Urinetown, opening next weekend. On Saturday the 20th they are offering 2-for-1 tickets. Jean and I are going. You should come too! Let me know if you want in and I will give you the code or whatever. I think you just have to say "email special" when you order the tickets, or whatever.

Joel wants you to know that his knee is doing OK. The swelling has gone down considerably (it was the size of a cantaloupe on Friday and is now almost back to normal) and he continues to gimp about. The pain comes and goes but seems to be improving. Also he is incredibly sexy and hott and he assures you, dear readers, that his upper body has lost neither its superhuman strength nor its chiseled definition.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And we all settled down for a good mid-week nap...

Joel had his torn meniscus removed from his knee this morning. The nurses said he chatted away the whole time he wasn't sleeping (they ended up not giving him the general anesthetic but rather just a "knee block" with some sedative). He was indeed able (and encouraged) to walk on it afterward -- but now he's in the basement enjoying some football movie along with a hearty dose of Vicodin.

On top of my hourly savage coughing fits, I came down with a stinker of a migraine while Joel was being operated on. Let me tell you, we were quite a pair, limping and skulking our way out of St. John's day surgery center at 10:30 this morning.

My dad is here, thank goodness, to help with the household duties and of course the child-entertainment duties.

Jean's been back at work all week -- apparently her toes and toenails (what remains of them) are in rough shape, and she's been having some foot and calf pain too. But other than that she seems a-ok.

I'm thinking about brewing a cup of tea and settling in with the crossword puzzle. I've got about eight songs to choreograph but I suppose that can all be put on hold for a while. Happy Wednesday to all...

Monday, October 08, 2007


Above, at mile 8.5.

Below, about 1 block from the finish line:

Jean finished the marathon!

Congratulations, Beansie. You're an inspiration.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Oh, and Joel's having knee surgery on Oct 10.

Well! This is certainly going to be More Like It.

Just got back from the kids' first official "field trip" to Afton Apple Orchard. SO much fun, and the best way to pass a gorgeous fall morning! I was pleasantly surprised, and actually I continue to be, by how well some of these ECFE things are orchestrated. Truly, they have so much experience with kids this age -- just plug new kids right in every year and you're set.

For example, they installed 15 car seats into a school bus in what seemed like 30 seconds. Incredible. Getting 2 car seats in my van takes about a half-hour for me -- these gals are whizzes. When we got the the orchard, there was plenty of time allowed for the kids to play at the playground or observe/feed/pet the sheep, llamas, goats (my kids' fave), cows, donkeys, and pigs, before we all loaded onto the hayride for an apple-pickin' tour. Each person got to pick three apples, which sounds kinda lame-o but really it was perfect for the attention span of 15 under-5-year-olds. We saw horses, got to see a pumpkin growing on a tree (seriously), sampled some apple cider, and sang the "Louisiana Hayride" song (actually just me). Then we tucked into lunch, played in the mud, and loaded back on the van. It was a perfect little outing and I'm sure the kids are going to nap well if they would just allow themselves to fall asleep.

Sooooo... what the heck's been going on the last couple weeks? Unfortunately September has been ripped off my calendar, because I just don't remember. I suppose I could work backward.

Last night I really thought I was coming down with something: allover aches and a really sore throat. But I realized I'd done a lot of talking in the prior few days, plus my dance class on Monday was particularly intense, so I gargled some salt water, took some ibu, sucked on a Cold-Eez and really today I feel about 80% better.

The sore throat also could have been caused by walking about 10 blocks in the rain yesterday -- nobody told me it was going to rain! I'd packed up the kids and hustled them onto the bus for a lovely excursion to the Children's Museum -- but it was not to be. The kids were uber-crabby and sprinting off in opposite directions at all times. I could not even keep them both in the same exhibit -- a nightmare. Neither one even napped after that, which was actually a good thing because I had to hustle them over to Dee's at 3pm so I could go teach my new class.

Back it up! You say. Class? What class?

Remember Ashland Productions, home of the "Joseph" summer camp I helped direct? Ashland has an afterschool theatre program for elementary-school kids, and I'm going to help direct it. We play theatre games and icebreaker/get-to-know-each-other games, and I teach the kids a song and dance each time. It is every other Tuesday from 3:30-5pm.

What a dreadful time of day! You say.

You're right! My kids are generally napsy-doodles at that time. Except Lucy's down to only a couple actual naps a week (Don't pick Tuesday, Lu!) and... well, that's the only good thing. So I'm planning to take them to Dee's (my old daycare provider) house for about 2 hours, every other Tuesday. It's 20 bucks each time, and I'm not entirely certain I'll be making that back in income... but it's something I really want to do. Anyone interested in filling Dee's role for less than $20? You're hired!

In addition to the after-school program, Ashland has two show choirs that I'm also helping out with. If you know me, you know show choir has been my true passion since 1992, so I'm extra-excited to get my hands on those kids.

Last weekend we left the kids with Joel's folks and trekked down to Madison for my cousin Mary's wedding. I discovered a new drink (the UV Blue Lemonade) and had some nice convos with many mostly-drunk relatives. It was a good little getaway for us, and also for the kids, who thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed bedtimes and abundance of new toys at Grammy and Papa's house.

After we picked up the kids on Sunday, we swung by this place for an open house. The home is AMAZING and tantalizingly close to being affordable -- but, not. *Shrug* It is fun to dream.

We had a meeting with a contractor last night to talk about the possibility of opening up the wall to Ed's room and turning it into a dining room. He's a family friend (holy cats, I better not be old enough to have "family friends"!) and we had a great, educational chat and visit with him. It really helped put a lot of things into perspective and that actually reminds me I need to email him and tell him that in addition to a dishwasher (not named Joel) I also MUST have a couple more functioning electrical outlets in the kitchen.

So! Because we have so ungodly much going on, and because we were gone all weekend so lots of housework was neglected... my children are being ignored. Not at this instant, mind you, because they are blissfully napping, but in general, I am finding there is simply not enough time in the day to spend all morning goofing off with them and still expect myself to get all the dishes/cooking/laundry/choreography done, that needs to get done.

Whic brings me to: where's the balance between "homemaker" and "stay-at-home-mom"? Because I read two articles recently about SAHMs, and both said that my staying home ought to "ease some of the housework burden" on my husband, ostensibly allowing him to "focus more on his career." I don't think that's happening. And I don't mean JG's not focusing, I just mean that I still think he does a ton of dishes, dusting, vacuuming, baths, and general pickup -- and he would, even if I didn't have 100 evening activities to dash off to. Some of which bring in some extra money. So what's my responsibility? Is it to roll around in the living room with the kiddos, paint their faces, do crafts (I still haven't done a single craft with them, I swear, I just can't handle whatever disgusting mess would ensue... but maybe I'm thinking of the wrong crafts? And where does one purchase "alum" for making homemade play-dough?)... or is it to organize the bills, do the dishes, change out the laundry, scrub the toilets, dust and vacuum? I'm sure it's some kind of balance; I'm just finding it hard to strike it.

Let's see, what are the kids doing?

Lucy is still really enjoying her dance class (still despite her claims to the contrary). It amazes me that she's making these friends, whom she can name, and I have no idea who they are. Chloe? Reed? Hattie? Leah? Who are you?
Two weeks ago they worked on "pas de chat" ("step of the cat") and this week it was "zig-zags". The other day I caught Lucy demonstrating to Ed how to walk backward... now slow... now fast! But that's as close to a demo as I can get from her.

Ed is jabbering away as usual -- if he wants you to follow him, he'll run ahead, reach his hand behind him, and say "ummm-ON! ummm-ON!" He will give "knuckles" now ("NUCK-ull!") and then pump his fist "Yesss!" afterward. When he goes down a slide at the playground, he stands up at the end and claps for himself: "Yaaayyy!!" and sometimes "Ta-Daa!" and then says "Bow?" and neatly ducks his head before running off to try something else.

Lucy is still insisting that I call Ed "little prince" and calling herself "Singer-lella." She's also started speaking in gibberish, for no good reason. Usually when she's trying to pull your attention, or trying to distract you from something naughty she did.

I will round this out by saying that you know you're a grownup when you start experiencing things coming full circle -- like, when you actually live in a place long enough to see a huge road construction project begin and then end. Or when you actually have to replace something you've never had to replace before, like throw pillows. It somehow gives you the wisdom of age to be able to say "nothing lasts forever" and really have lived it.

Jean's running the marathon this Sunday -- take a quick minute to send her power! If you somehow didn't cadge an invitation to the post-marathon party starting around 1:30 PM Sunday, it's a more-the-merrier thing and you should try to swing by. Cheers!

Mortgage market?
See other sheet
Ed: Umm-ON!
Lucy's gibberish and drawings: what I draw? A cup. Purple. Daddy. The wind. Friday. The "new Faje": Koo-koo.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Just a bite

Imagine a garage-sized pile of debris: newspapers, dance shoes, laundry, wet towels, apples, CDs, kleenexes, papers, papers, and more papers -- all the flotsam and jetsom of our lives here on 4th Street.

Enter: ME (lifting a dirty sock and one of Lucy's drawings off my head): Hey. I'm still here. I've got to get back to work. But I'll blog again soon.

Till then...