My online journal.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday notes

So it turns out my personal newspaper-fairy is actually my darling husband, who's been leaving every morning well before 7:00 to prep for his triathlon in July. Rats! Now I want my gift certificate back. Just kidding.

My pint of half-and-half went bad earlier this week, and when I look back and realize that I kept drinking the rest of the cup of coffee, even after I noticed it tasted weird, my tummy starts to hurt a little. Since my food budget is $2.82 until tonight at midnight, I thought I was going to have to go coffee-free for a few days until I discovered not one, but TWO aerosol cans of whipped cream in my fridge. Whose are they? Where did they come from? Who cares? They're mine now, and if there's anything yummier than aerosol whipped cream in my coffee, well, I just don't know what it is.

In the flurry of posting this week, I wonder if my note about the children I know (who have been taken from their home by their non-custodial mother), has flown under the radar. It's a terrible experience this family is going through -- the kids have been missing since Feb. 6. My post is several posts down. I know not everyone can give money, but sending some prayers and "power" their way would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Old-fashioned bribery

A little $20 Target gift certificate worked its magic for the Gronau family this week. I sent it to our newspaper carrier a little late (like, maybe early February) as a Christmas gift. Yesterday our paper (the Pioneer Press, my favorite paper in the whole world) was tucked inside our screen door. This morning, inside the screen door, I found the PiPress AND my East Side Review (a local rag that I'd seen sitting in my lawn yesterday).

Talk about service!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

So far, I guess I *am* technically having fun...

OK so I thought I would dye my hair blonde today.
But considering it started out nearly black (which is apparently my natural color these days. I swear it's been getting darker and darker recently -- as though to really emphasize the gray. Sweet.)
Anyway, I left it on for 80 of the maximum 90 minutes but now I'm approximately the color of a school bus. Objectively, it's an Orange that would be super-lovely on a geranium or perhaps a lioness. The good news is I've never seen anybody with this hair color. The bad news: I've never seen anybody with this hair color.

Argh, these are terrible pictures. Too much face, not enough hair. Let me try again...

Wow, it looks a lot lighter from the side.
I bought another box because I figure with the dark starting color and the coarseness of my hair, I probably need to reapply. But I have to wait at least 24 hours, so we'll see what I end up with.
It also turns out that now the only color I can wear is black. *sigh*
OK also I took the kids sledding at Battle Creek this afternoon, in lieu of the facade we now call naptime. That place is AWESOME!! We had it to ourselves, and we had 3 sleds which was good because Lu and Ed both insisted on going alone. It's a good thing it's only a mile and a half away, though, because we only lasted about 20 minutes. It's exhausting.

Monday, February 23, 2009

So, these kids I know from ECFE have been kidnapped...

I can't believe I'm posting about my stupid Oscars stuff when this is going on. I know this family very well -- Rainbow and her kids have been an integral part of my ECFE experience for the last 18 months.

Much of what follows has been copied and pasted (simply meaning I didn't write it), but please read on.

A friend of mine from ECFE, Rainbow Espinoza, is in the middle of a terrible crisis -- the details are below. The Dayton's Bluff ECFE network is trying to get the word out in support of her family. As parents, all of us fear something like this happening to our own families. I am sure it is very difficult for her to ask for help in this way. If a monetary donation would be possible, a pay-pal account has been set up: It doesn't need to be much - $5 and $10 adds up within a large group.

If giving money is not an option, please consider sending this to others who may help. Rainbow has said it is ok to share the information as it may aid their search. Prayers and positive thoughts go a long way!

It takes a village...

Hi everyone,
Unfortunately I have some bad news about my step-kids, Maya and Rojo. Those of you who know the story, you can skip to the bottom of this message where I'm making my ask. Background:
My husband, Rafael, has had full legal and physical custody of the kids (Meg interjects: Maya is about 7 and Rojo is about 5) for the past 2 years and they have lived with us for the past 3 1/2 years. The mother, Cindy Adler, appealed the decision twice and was denied both times. Over the past year things with Cindy have deteriorated quite significantly, and it has become quite obvious that the purpose of all Cindy's visitation with the kids has been to interrogate and drill them about what we do in our family. Last fall we filed for supervised visitation during her parenting time. Rafael and I also pulled the kids out of school and my mom and I have been job-sharing the duty of home-schooling this year.

After many trips and countless calls to several different police departments in the area, apparently the mom decided she wasn't going to get anyone around here to believe her story of the children being abused and neglected by Rafael and I. So she began the process of planning to run away with the children.

On February 6th, she picked the kids up after school and hasn't been seen or heard from since. This would have been her last time to see the kids before the court day where the judge would hear our argument to limit her visitation rights. It becomes clearer every day that this was very pre-meditated and calculated, not simply a last-minute plan to run off. There's a friend of hers who, willingly, came to the cops last Thursday (after seeing there was a felony warrant out for her arrest on the news) saying that she drove them to Missouri and dropped them off in a rural, mountainous region north of the Ozarks.

There is a large team of local cops and US Marshals working on the case, going house to house, searching places and questioning people. They are not finding people to be helpful or coopertive, even though they have information. It seems a lot of the people mainly involved are connected through a church group of evangelicals that have done this sort of thing before and are good at it.

Today (this was last Thursday, Feb. 19)
Two important things happened today. The first was the court hearing happened and the judge made a very favorable ruling for us.The other thing that happened is we had a meeting with the cops in charge of this investigation. They gave us a run-down of what they can tell us about what has happened so far and advised us of some next steps. They feel confident about the ability of the Marshals to find them, since this is their job and their only job: to find people. They have the technology and resources to find murderers and lots of other people who need to hide out. They are taking this very seriously and still have leads they are following.

However, the people there in the region have been less than willing to cooperate as of yet. Here comes my ask...

What I'm asking you to do... if it's possible:
First of all, the cops are telling us that since money is the universal language, a reward might be helpful in encouraging people to talk. We, clearly, have pretty much exhausted our funds in legal fees at this time and still may need to hire a Private Investigator down the road. The cops don't think it needs to be much, because money goes a long ways down there and the money is only rewarded in the event that the information leads to finding the children.

We don't want to make a hardship for anyone, but if you can, we would REALLY appreciate any amount of money to help put up a reward. We will keep track of who gives what and in the event that it doesn't get used, we will quickly return it to you.

The second thing we are asking is if you would forward this email to people you think would be able/willing to donate a few dollars for this cause.

The third thing we are asking is that if you, or anyone you know, has contacts in south-central Missouri we would ask you to contact them and send them the flyer with an ask to post it around their community. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is flyering their network (apparently pretty actively) but it always helps to have more than one way to get information into a closed community. Especially important (because of the religous connection) are people who are involved in a church organization in that area. You'll see on the flyer information that she might be disguised in a Burka and using Muslim names for the children, however, the cops believe that this tactic was only used to transport them from here to there and is not currently accurate. Clearly, she would stick out like a sore thumb in this area wearing a Burka.The link to the flyer is here:

Our home address is:
Rainbow and Rafael Espinosa
661 North St.
Saint Paul, MN 55106
(651) 774-0661

Please let me know if there's more information you need about this that might help and we really appreciate anything you can do. Also, if sending any money causes any hardship at all (these are not easy economic times for anyone) please do not do it. This is a horrible ask to make, and I really hope nobody is put-off by it. We will, of course, keep you updated, should anything significant change. Thank you for your support and we hope to bring an end to this very soon.
Rainbow, Rafael and family

When I call on Jesus, I wear a monocle

So yesterday I was listening to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" on NPR, and they were making fun of Michelle Bachmann (R), US Rep from Minnesota, and her crazy comment about America "running out of rich people." They mentioned a sudden overabundance of monocles and jodhpurs (I'm sorry, I'm totally not going to take the time to Google that spelling). So apparently I had monocles on the brain, because this morning I was listening to the local Christian music station and the song "When I call on Jesus, all things are possible" came on. But I kept hearing her sing "When I call on Jesus, I wear a monocle!" and it made me giggle. A lot, because it becomes a very repetetive song. Then I imagined Jesus IN a monocle. And jodhpurs. Also funny.

OK I caved, and looked up "jodhpurs" and for the record I totally guessed right. But it turns out I misspelled "repetitive." Oops.

Watched the Oscars last night and enjoyed it thoroughly. Before the show, we ate a complete 81st Annual Academy Awards dinner, complete with:

Indian honey-curry baked chicken (a'la Slumdog Millionaire) (Side note: this was delicious and the recipe was super-easy, if anybody wants it) ...

German (a'la The Reader) Hot greens-and-bacon salad...

"Pitt"-ed peaches dolled up to look like ... um... buttons?
OK it was a bit of a stretch, but I knew nobody but me would eat any "button" mushrooms, and there is a total lack of foods named "Benjamin."

"Frost/Nixon" brownies.. the only people who might get this joke were actually at dinner last night, but since that was really only 3 people I'll try to explain. Several years ago the show "Whose Line is it, Anyway?" did a bit on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?". I'm SURE you can YouTube it. Anyhoo, the multiple-choice answers were something like:
A. B
B. C
C. A
D. Richard Nixon
E. A jar of almonds

Anyway, these brownies had Frost-ing and also some almonds. I promise you, it was equal parts funny and delicious.

And to drink, of course, we had....


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Real lazy Saturday

It's a rare weekend with only a few optional activities planned. But here it is! We got a few inches of snow last night and even I have to admit the fresh snow is quite lovely. Joel finally got the kids out in it about 20 minutes ago -- our excuse this time was that their good mittens were in the wash, having been thoroughly muddied several days earlier.

I'm waiting for my meat loaf to finish cooking. I sorta forgot to make sides -- I bet I have time to steam up some peas, or something. I've been wayyy unmotivated to cook the last couple evenings, but it's been turning out OK.

Joel and I are going to a Grown-up Party tonight and I have neither any idea of what to wear, nor an appropriate host-gift. I don't think a bottle of three-buck Chuck is going to cut it. For the hostess gift, I mean -- though I doubt it would cut it as an outfit either.

Don't forget to watch the Oscars tomorrow night!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Flat of a board

Hello, happy Wednesday. Lucy and Lily are playing, nicely but not especially quietly, in the living room, and Ed is in (though not down and certainly not out) for a nap in his room. I'm left to tackle a monster to-do list, including "bake bread" and "write a play." It might be a busy day!

A couple cute, quick kid stories to share. We were at the pool last Friday and Lucy took one glance at a large and active water-aerobics class and asked "Mama, what are those grandmas doing?"

Lucy, also, has had an explosion of writing. A couple weeks ago I was very surprised to see that she'd written the first 5 letters of the alphabet on her chalkboard. She continued to write through J, when I took a picture, and kept on until T when she lost interest. Occasionally she needed teensy reminders of what letter came next, and I think she skipped N, but overall she was totally doing it. A few days later, we got a note from ECFE saying that, for Valentine's Day, Lucy should make a Valentine for the other 11 kids in her class. They gave the option of letting your child cut-and-paste the other kids' names from a sheet of paper, OR have your kid write (or play-write) the other kids' names, or simply draw each other child a picture of some sort. You could get store-bought cards, or make them, or whatever you want. ANYWAY, for Lucy, this simple assignment was nothing short of a communication revolution. She spent just about every waking moment for the next week making cards, envelopes, and letters for everybody she knows. We made Valentine cards for all the kids in her class, the teachers, and our immediate relatives. (Auntie Jamie got one that said "Paper Glue School" because Lucy was fascinated with the words on the glue bottle at the moment.) We made dozens of cards for Daddy. We made piles of other cards for everybody else Lucy could think of (and if you didn't get one, it's because it got lost in the resulting paper avalanche). Her ECFE teachers remarked that she had to be dragged out of the writing-table for snack time. The girl was obsessed.

It's been amazing watching her start to realize the new things you can do when you can read. For example, once you can tell an "L" from an "R", you can totally be the Spinner for Twister (even if your legs aren't quite long enough to have Right Foot on Red while still keeping Left Foot on Green). And she can tell which mail is for her, versus those for Eddie, Megan, or Joel. But Lucy is still the first one to remind us "I'm only FOUR!" if we ask her something too challenging.

Then there's Ed. Sweet and charming as can be. "Flat this out!" means he wants you to lay his blanket flat on the floor so he can sit in the middle of it and be wrapped up like a Baby Dumbo bundle from the stork. "Flat of a board!" means he wants to lay flat ("AS a board") on the ground for you to pick him up. And last week I presented him with a bowl of minestrone soup, of which he took one bite and made a horrid face. "What a face, Ed!" I said, to which he responded, "I said "oh, brother!" with my eyes."

We've come to a peaceful agreement about what to do about school for Lucy next year -- basically we've applied to the St Paul 4-year-old program and if we don't get in, we have two great backup options that we're happy about. A big chunk of me wonders whether I shouldn't keep my baby girl at home with me for one more year... then there's the chunk that struggles to challenge her burgeoning brain around the house. Then there's a third part that wonders if I oughtn't pay for a nice 3-year-old program for Ed, and enjoy some serious time to myself? To write, or teach dance, or something. It's pretty tempting but not something we've given serious thought to.
OK I really have to go do some work around here. Cheers...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Carry me up, Mama

Well, I woke up today in a bit of a funk -- after weeks of feeling pretty good about life. Some days I feel like I'm really failing as a wife and mother. I really wish I had more patience with the little-kidness of my little kids: their slow feet, their selective listening and obeying, their picky eating, their trails of giant messes everywhere.

We visited another preschool last night: Crossroads Elementary in the Dale-Como area of St Paul. It's a public school where you can choose either a Montessori track or a Science track, and it's a year-round school. I'm really interested in the year-round option -- I think the traditional long summer break is detrimental to kids' learning, and I've always been the kind of person who much prefers frequent, shorter breaks over one giant break. I also think year-round schooling better prepares kids for life -- I remember a giant shock when I graduated college and entered the workforce and suddenly summer no longer existed.

Anyway, visiting the school gave me another kick in the gut that Lucy will be in school in September and I can't stop it! Depending where we choose, she'll be in a half-day program 5 days a week OR a full-day program 2 days a week. I'm sure she's ready (she's bored at home)... but she's my baby, my first baby, and it's scary sending her off into the great unwashed masses.

Ed woke up the other morning constructing more complex sentences (that sounds so dumb the way I wrote it, but Joel and I were listening to Ed go on about something the other day and Joel turned to me and said "Wow, he's taken another leap in language, hasn't he?" and it really was overnight). Every day we experience evidence of his incredibly sweet nature, whether it's sitting with him on the toilet (where he inevitably coos, "Mama, I love you SOOOOO much") or watching him interact with Lucy and his other peers (when he gets frustrated with a playmate, we watch as he'll raise a hand as if to strike the other child, then think better of it and (often) drop the hand and find another way to express himself, often vocally).

Lucy continues to work at her letters, like, ALL THE TIME. I gave her a spare 2009 calendar and she asks "What month is it? What day is it? When is September?" all the time. The other day she opened to January and wrote a different letter on every day. Well, sorta -- C and R were duplicated with some frequency.

Ed has this dinosaur coloring book, and he's obsessed with the mammoth. "It's the last mammal, Mommy!" "That's mam-MOTH, Ed." "See? Mama? The LAST MAMMAL!!"

Also he picked up a plastic camel yesterday and said "Look, Mama, it has two mumps."