Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Because I want to be on a first name basis...

...with the doctors in the local Emergency Room...

Nate. You'll give your mother a heart attack. Or at least grey hairs (more of them).

ps. That's NOT skip in the black. You can tell immediately, because he's wearing jeans. [And from this angle, they look like the kind that a kid would have to pay fifty-plus bucks for at some swank skate-boarding store.] You can also tell because his hair isn't shoulder length. Oh, and because he's interested in skate-boarding. Skip would rather poke out his eye.

So that's Nate on Skip's skateboard. I'm glad someone's getting some use out of it, although Skip *did* have fun building it at Christmas.

I am currently taping the first few episodes of the "French in Action" series. I remember watching it when I lived in Vancouver, and was getting ready to move to Quebec. I wonder if my kids will think it's just too lame to watch.

Mark my words. TODAY is the day that I get my house back under control.

Remember when it was "when school gets out, and i have some time in the summer without having to drive everyone everywhere and volunteer at everything." THEN it was "Once the holidays are over, and I can get all the suitcases away, and get back into a routine..." and THEN it was "OK, I'll wait until school starts, and THEN I'll have all sorts of time to get things put back where they belong.."

Well, NOW, it's NOW.

Except that I'm pooped, and I really need to put the groceries away and just have a little nap. And then it will be time to get Kelly, and then swing by Skip's school to see his old teacher who wants to run the Knitting Club after school on Mondays, and then head over to get Nate at his school, then back to Skip's school, because Cross Country will be done, and then pop home to get dinner started and homework done, and then off to Kung Fu, but first I've gotta check to see if tonight's the monthly Gem Society meeting.

Oh crap. I think this past weekend was the Gem Society show, and I was supposed to work security for it.


Note to self: Mail your father's birthday card today, so it has a chance of getting to him on time. And while you're at it, mail your folks' anniversary card, too. It's only 3 days later.

Il mange
Elle mange
Je mange
Nous mangeons
Vous mangez
Ils mangent

French in Action runs in the background. I sure hope it's like riding a bicycle. Or is that "bicyclette"?

First things first.

I need to take out the trash.
Yes. It's an exciting life I lead.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Flock of Skipgulls

I've been having 80s flashbacks lately.

I can't figure out why....

And he ra-a-an
He ran so far awa-a-ay

Poor kid's not running on much sleep this morning.

He's been getting ready for his trumpet audition this weekend. It was supposed to be last Friday, and of course, he left the preparation until the last minute, which involved changing his audition piece at the Very Last Minute, and then deciding that it was probably good enough if he just schlepped through it. I gently reminded him about how hideously he'd performed at the Getting Into Honors Band auditions last spring (ie, he'd done NO preparation, and then hadn't made Honors Band, and spent nearly a week moping after school was out), and so this time, he really put some muscle into things. Fortunately, the band teacher ran out of time, and re-scheduled the Chair Auditions for today.

So it wasn't enough that he play one of his current band pieces. Nope. He had to scrounge around in our piano collection, snag a jazz book, and pick one of the moody blue numbers. No worries that the second phrase is at the extreme upper end of his abilities... or that he had to transpose it. He thought it sounded cool, and the sort of thing that would be good for an audition.

And that's what we've been listening to all weekend. And Ken's really stepped up to the plate and taken on the role of Trumpet Instructor (he'd seriously considered being a Band Teacher when he was finishing up high school - before he got all the physics/math scholarships). Good thing, because what I know about trumpets can be contained in the drop of spit that is shot out of the vent-hole when the trumpet's being cleaned.

So after all his diligent playing, when bedtime rolled around last night, and the trumpet was finally put away, he asked if he could just read a book in his bed for a bit before Lights Out. Sounded like a good idea, so Ken and I said sure.

And then we both thought the OTHER parent was going to go in and tuck Skip in.

I went downstairs and did 3 loads of laundry.

Ken went into his office, and worked on a backlog of Top Secret computer stuff.

And we both freaked out at 11:45 when we realized, as we were shutting the house down for the night, that Skip's light was still on. Poor bewildered kid. He had no idea.

And now he's dragging around on his way to school.

I felt so guilty about it that I handed him a Coke for breakfast. If I'd had a Starbucks Doubleshot, I would've handed him that instead, even though I know he would have turned his nose up at it.

I just hope he can wake up enough to rock his audition. It'd be a shame if he was disappointed this time, too.

And he ca-a-an
He can, his trumpet pla-a-ay
He's the ma-a-an
His jazz horn makes them swa-a-ay
Gotta get an A....

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Science Content

Because I am trying to be The World's Coolest Mom in the eyes of my quickly-becoming-jaded eldest son, I took him out on a shopping excursion yesterday.

"Shopping? We have to go SHOPPING?" he whined.

"Yes, dear. Because I can't count on The Littles to help me out at the grocery store, and I know how much you like to go shopping for meat..." (my son, the vegetarian)

After a quick trip to the Chinese Market (hey! Where else can you get beef tenderloin for $7/pound?), I headed back for home. Mr. Grouchy was slouched down in Homer's passenger seat, playing with the seat warmers while I cruised slowly past the mall. (oh, did I mention that the car now has a name? Yes, it's Homer... the Odyssey).

"Honey, do you think we should go shopping at the mall, just you and me? Maybe you could look at overpriced jeans, or skateboard-and-skull branded oversized shirts. Or we could just sniff all the pretty smells at the soap store..."

He laughed, "Yeah, I need to stop by Hello Kitty." He was getting the joke. Whew.

But it was not the mall we were heading for after the groceries were bought.

It was Mollie Stone's.

Yes, another grocery store. But this one wasn't for food.

This one was for SCIENCE!

Because yesterday was the day we became Backyard Scientists.

Hello, Dry Ice!!!!!

A bowl of cold water...

A bowl of hot water....

And a weed that didn't have a chance...

And hey, look what you can do when you put dry ice into a deflated balloon and tie it shut.

(you can still see the little white nugget of dry ice inside the balloon. It's floating in a pan of warm water)

Experiments in Carbonation:

That's room temperature lemonade, two identical glasses. One with a little nugget of dry ice (thumb sized) dropped into it (on the right), and one with a large nugget (deck of cards size) dropped into it (on the left).

We then did taste tests. Both were chilled, but the one on the right (little nugget) wasn't AS cold, and it tasted just like lemonade. The one on the left, though, was REALLY cold, and had effervescence. Not big bubbles like soda, but some tingly feeling on the tongue. Really quite fun.

Of course, you can only say "Don't touch, don't touch, don't touch" so many times, before SOMEONE has to say "Well, I wonder if -70C is REALLY all that cold..."

Yeah, kid. You thought licking a flag pole in winter hurt? I'll see if I can take a photo of his blister later today.

We all had to wear 'safety glasses'. For the little ones, that meant sun glasses if they wanted to come outside and watch the experiments.

So, Skip. How am I doing in the Mom Department today?

"Yeah, mom. You really are The Coolest Mom Ever. At least today."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Resistance was futile...

...she wanted to be assimilated.

Classes start for her tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Why we didn't get an Acadia

When Ken first presented to me a list of cars that he thought might "be a good thing to replace the Pilot with", (which, at the time was like saying "Hey, I think we've got too many sons, and I thought we could maybe replace one of them with a daughter"), one of the potential candidates was an SUV called "The Acadia".

Oh, the critics seemed to give it a lukewarm review, almost damning with faint praise, as it were, but a million years ago, when I'd been a MUSH denizen, I'd had a dashing character, a foreign prince, who sailed into the Mush-land on the 'Good Ship Acadia'. [ed: Er, I just realized that it wasn't the "Acadia", it was the ARCADIA. A lot of difference when one drops the R.] As a result, I'd already decided that I loved the vehicle, based on the name alone.

Yeah. I also am entranced by 'sparkly things'. Sue me.

So Saturday rolls around, and we're on Round Two of the 'search for a new car' quest. (note: Not on a "search for a nissan Quest". The Nissan Quest didn't make it onto the short list. It looked like a breeching whale, and the back end looked like it had been pinched. Not good. Yes. I also judge cars based on what their rear end looks like. Years back, I rejected the Audi AllRoad straight off the block because it had a 'fat butt'.)

Anyways, Round Two. And the first thing I want to see is the GM Acadia.

We head up to the Big Auto Strip, and pull up in front of a sparkly-shiny GM dealer. Ooh. Aah. And there on the podium, light shining down from the heavens, is The Car. Oh. Deluxe! It had it all. Oversized dual skyscape sunroof, the best fuel economy of 8-passenger SUVs, 5-star crash rating, front coil-over-shock suspension, heads-up display... oh!

As I'm walking up to the car that Will Be Mine, I am spotted by Brian, the Sweaty Eager Sales Dude. He aims to head us off at the pass. But that's OK, I just need him to introduce himself and then point me to where I need to sign on the contract. The Acadia, it is calling my name...



What's this? Brian isn't looking at me.

He's looking PAST me. At Ken. And he walks right past me with his hand out. "Good morning! I'm Brian. How can I help you?"

Ken looks at me, and grins a little evil grin. He holds out his hand "I'm Ken."

I hold out my hand. It's hard to miss. I'm waiting to meet Brian the SESD, and let him know that I'm ready to drive that Glorious Acadia off the lot today.

But Brian has other plans. "So.. Ken... what is it that you're interested in today?"

I can't resist. I step in front of him, my hand held out (still). "...and I'm Kemma. Ken's not really interested in anything, so you probably want to talk to me, as I'm interested in the Acadia."

I have obviously stopped him right in the middle of his schpiel. He grinds to a halt, and looks stunned. He looks at my hand. What is it? Oh, it's a hand. What should I do with it? Oh, maybe she wants me to shake it...

He shakes my hand. It's a pretty limp shake. This is not part of his routine, I guess, because what does he do next?

"So... Ken... your wife seems to like the Acadia. What do you think? Do you see it working for your family?"

Seriously, I thought Ken was going to dissolve into a fit of giggles right there before my eyes. It was all I could do to not pull out the laptop right then and there and start blogging about Brian the SESD's behaviour. But Ken, he is made of sterner stuff, and he pulled it together to say that really, he just wanted to see if our 3 kids would fit in the Acadia, and if the back row would have enough room for Skip, child whose legs grow an inch a month.

No sooner had we gotten the kids into the Acadia, than we were graced with the presence of Brian the SESD's manager. He could smell The Sale in the air, and wanted a piece of the action. Actually, he was probably there to try to bail Brian out of the hole he'd just dug himself into.

Me: We like to take 2 or 3 excursions per year into the back country. What sort of ground clearance does this creature have?

Brian (looking around a bit, as if perhaps he might find a little 'Ground Clearance: x-inches' note stuck to one of the door's surfaces): Oh, you won't find a better ground clearance...

Me: Yes, I'm sure. But what is it?

Brian: Um... Well, it looks like it has probably close to three feet...

Ken desperately tries to turn his explosive guffaw into a coughing fit at this point.

Me: Brian, *I* don't have three feet of ground clearance. Here... a minivan has about five or six inches of clearance. I think our Pilot had close to 9. THAT is a good number.

Brian: Oh, sorry. I think it's somewhere around eighteen, then.

Brian's boss: Oh, you mean GROUND clearance... the Acadia has 8.5.
(note: Actually, it has 7.4)

Brian's boss, continuing: But from listening to you folks, I think you're looking at the wrong vehicle. What you *REALLY* want to be driving is a Hummer....

Did y'all hear that screech on Saturday morning? That was the sound of the earth as it stopped turning on its axis.

Me: No. I do not REALLY want to be driving a Hummer. I am not IN the Hummer demographic, I do not live in a Hummer-friendly neighborhood, and I am not made out of money.

Brian's boss: Oh, you think it's out of your league, but it really isn't.

Me: No, I didn't say that. I am saying that I care more for frugality and conservation.

Brian's boss: Conservation? Well, I can show you studies that PROVE that the Hummer is more environmentally sound than the Toyota Prius.

(um, WHEN did I say I was looking at comparing a Toyota Prius in my short list? I wasn't.)

Ken (who'd been REMARKABLY quiet up until this point): I can show you three thousand Google employees who would disagree with you.

Brian's boss: Surveys don't lie.

Ken: Surveys can be made to say anything you like. I've read the report that you're referring to.

Brian: But Kemma... look at this wonderful feature here. Do you know what a Heads Up display is? Let me explain it to you...

Me: Oh, where it's projected onto the windshield? Nice feature. I don't need it explained.

It was at this point that I finally got a glimpse of the sticker on the Acadia.

Yes. I knew it was at the top end of what they had available.

I just didn't realize HOW top end. Nearly FOURTY-NINE THOUSAND dollars? Um. Not gonna happen, folks. Not even if the sales guy had been Nice and Knowledgeable.

Egads! It was enough to put Skip through AT LEAST a full year of college.

We couldn't get out of there fast enough.

And THAT is why we didn't buy the Acadia. I think there are enough reasons here to last a lifetime.