Friday, January 16, 2009

Hair. An 80's Retrospective

So yesterday, Skip's "Birthday Treat" was to sit down after school and have his hair cut.

And, being the mature young man that he is, he let me do a little bit of playing.

So here we go:

It's 2000 and something. Here we have the Keith Urban look. Well, minus the 5 o'clock shadow. He *is* only fourteen, after all. A little shaggy. A little chunky, a little "I just got out of bed, and what do you MEAN, I'm supposed to be combing it every day?"

Let's take a musical trip in the Way Back machine, shall we?

"And I ran... I ran so far awayyyyyyy"

Hello Flock of Seagulls Hair. Nice to know you.

Oh, he's not gonna like this next one.

Hello MulletHead. All business up front. All par-tay in the rear. But not the ENTIRE rear. It's nicely shag-cut on the top. Only the bottom is left to linger. Sort of like a cross between Shirley Partridge and Carol Brady. So I guess this is a little jump into 70s hair. Or... maybe it's a tip of the hat to Uncle Jesse from Full House. That was the late 80s, right?

And then we have the piece de resistance.

Hello, Talk Talk hair.

I got to this point, and said "Come on, Skip. This is the quintessential 80s haircut. You could be FAMOUS at school! Everyone would watch you. Honestly? When I was in high school, kids would've DIED to be able to have hair this fantastic." (and with a little gold hoop earring? Wouldn't that just take you back?????)

His response?

"Mom. There's *good* attention. And there's *bad* attention. This would get *good* attention at Halloween, but it's January."

True enough.


No. More. Photos. Please. Mom!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


The time does go by too fast.

14 years ago yesterday, I woke up to pinchy pains at 5am. I'd been up until midnight the night before, sewing burp cloths (pesky nesting urge), so I wasn't surprised when I finally realized I was in labour. What I was surprised at was the thick layer of ice that covered everything. There had been an ice storm in the night. Montreal was pretty much shut down. We'd rented a car, so my parents (who had flown out two days earlier from the west coast) could drive our car while they were in Montreal, and both cars had about an inch and a half layer of ice coating them. Sealed in a tomb of ice.

My dad hopped out of bed, and, dressed in an undershirt and trousers, slipped into his opened-and-ready-by-the-door skidoo boots, and raced out to the cars to start chipping ice. There really wasn't a rush, as it turned out.

I remember standing on the blue carpeted steps in our front hall (the only place that had a mirror near an electrical outlet) and curling my hair while I rocked back and forth saying stupid things like "if this is labour, this is a walk in the park. I've had period cramps worse than this." My mom had a good hearty laugh at that one.

Yeah. An hour later, when the ice was finally chipped off the cars, and we were crawling along the ice-burdened Highway 20 into LaSalle to the hospital, doing probably 12 miles per hour, I was ready to claw my way out of my skin every 3 minutes. But hey, if it was hurting this much, that MUST mean that the baby was nearly here!

Yeah. 20 hours later....

Nearly-10-pound babies take a little longer to come down the chute, apparently.

(ok, kind of cheating. He's already 6 weeks old here. Where are all his baby photos? OH right. I've packed them up for the remodel).

Happy Birthday, Skip.

Hmmm. Looks like you need to have an earlier bedtime, now that you're FOURTEEN. Look at that Zombie Stare!

OK, this is better:

Our son. The nudist.

Packing Up Day

Today is a packing up day.

I'm not going to be starting in on the kitchen cupboards, although I'm sure there is a TON of stuff that I could pitch from them if I was truly motivated. No. The kitchen will wait for another day.

Today, I'll be culling through the family room and the music room.

After Skip left for school in the pre-dawn darkness, I took a few minutes to move his gigantic loft bed away from the wall about 2 feet. (Good grief, that sucker was heavy. It was like trying to move a dead elephant.) He's got plenty of space in the center of his room, but I didn't want to turn his room into the "gigantic pile of boxes with a path running through the middle" so instead, I'll be putting ranks and ranks of boxes behind his bed, where he might not even notice them.

Even though I've culled probably a hundred pounds of magazines and old cook books out of the music room (they're now sitting in paper bags, ready to go off to scooter's workplace, where they'll get a whole new life of usefulness), there is still MUCH to be cleared out of there. Sadly, I am not brave enough to cull music. In my brain, music is this scarce commodity that should NEVER be tossed away. So I buy extra dozens of banker boxes, and pack it away, hoping to see it all again with fresh eyes in the summer.

Just call him Norris. Skip Norris.

"Permission to use deadly force and kick my best friend in the chest, sir"

Kelly had this great chandelier over her bed with these little LED dragonflies. I got it at IKEA a few years back. She used it as a night-light, and it was grand. But lately, the dragonflies have been blinking out one by one, until there was just one sad little dragonfly left, and his light sort of came and went.

Last night, while the kids were playing a game with dad, I finally took down the chandelier. It was kind of sad. I loved those little lights.

But I found something else, that's nearly as cool.

It's not a chandelier, though. And those little white blinky-lights get kind of warm, so I don't think I'll let her keep it on all night long.

Giant field trip yesterday.

Kelly and her class.

We went to Mission Santa Cruz, where the kids got to make candles, bricks and their own tortillas. It was quite the adventure. The park ranger showed them how to cook food by dropping hot rocks into the cooking pot. In Ohlone times, it would've been acorn mush that was being cooked, but the kids got to watch (and have a taste of) Malt-o-meal being cooked in the Old Way. If I'd known, I would've brought raisins and brown sugar, as the plain stuff just tasted like porridge with no salt and a bit of fire-roasted goodness. Fun times, though. And the smoke! Oh! The smoke! It was a hoot.

I was the "Tortilla Mom", helping the kids press out perfect little patties, while another mom helped the kids on the open fire. Eek!

But gracious, were those hot tortillas ever tasty, especially when they were slathered in butter, and then topped with salsa.


OK, no more procrastinating. Four boxes go upstairs behind Skip's bed before I take another peek onto the computer.

By the way...

Didn't I *JUST* do a mountain of laundry? Like on MONDAY?

How is it that I am already on my second load of laundry for the day, and there is STILL a mountain of folding left?

Oh, and what's up with my new swanky external garage door opener? That crazy thing doesn't remember the code that I programmed into it (while the garage door repair dude was watching, so I *KNOW* I did it right!). Hmm.

That'll also wait until after 4 boxes have been swallowed up in Skip's new secret-box-repository.

Monday, January 12, 2009



The piece de resistance.

I leave the house.

I go to pick up Nate.

I'm just getting out of the car to walk up to the school to collect Nate (on our way to get Skip from Middle School) and then off to get groceries, which were sadly neglected today because I HAD TO STAY HOME ALL FREAKIN' DAY BECAUSE THE GARAGE DOOR REPAIR GUY KEPT POSTPONING.

And my phone rings.

"Hey. This is Carl. I'm at your house to fix your garage. Where are you?"

Wasted Day

Oh. Good. Grief.

So, the Garage Door Repair Dude was supposed to come between 9 and 11. Right?

(ps. This was AFTER the initial appointment which was for LAST FRIDAY afternoon, which had to be rescheduled last week.)

So he calls around 10 saying he's having trouble with the truck and was waiting for a tow. Rescheduled for between 12-2. That's ok with me. I can get a few more things done...

But then 1:30 rolls around, and there's no sign of Juan and his Garage Door Repair truck. So I call Precision Garage Door Repair. And get put on hold.



"Oh ma'am. Thank you for waiting. He called you to say he would be there between 4 and 6. NOT between 12 and 2."

Oh no. No. NO. No. NO he didn't.

"I'm sorry. But that's not true. I know that I will not be around between 4 and 6 and would NOT have agreed to that re-scheduling."

"Er, what I meant to say is that he SHOULD have said that he would be there between 4 and 6."

Crapitty crap. I was GOING to take Skip and Nate to Kung Fu. Kelly's at a play-date, and then is having a Spanish lesson (I think), so I don't need to take her to Kung Fu, but I need to pick her up at 5:45, which would be SMACK DAB in the middle of that window.

So I made a bit of a big stink. I didn't resort to using my "sewing language", but it was pretty close. And I didn't say "have a nice day" when I hung up, even. Take that!

But look. I will bring my blood pressure down by looking at flowers.

Or maybe kids.

Oh, and look at this:

Skip finally got his Birthday/Christmas/Good-grades/etc/etc/etc gift.

(We had to roll it all into one, because the blasted thing was So. Darned. Expensive)


It is orange.

Avoiding the dreaded "To Do" list. Part 2


Garage Door Repair Dude just phoned. He's having car trouble, and is waiting for a mechanic. My 9-11 slot is now a 12-2 slot.

Crapitty crap.

Oh well

I finished vacuuming downstairs, AND whipped the pantry closet into a bit of shape (all the cans are on shelves, all bags are in recycling, AND the vacuum fits in there now).

I really should head off to Safeway, as I promised Skip that I would buy copious quantities of "Simply Grapefruit" juice while it was still on sale. And now that GDRD isn't scheduled to be here until noon (at the earliest. Ack!), I could get the groceries out of the way, too.

Oh. Here's a shot (or two) of the blue painter's tape in our kitchen. If only we could tape over all the clutter, too, and make that magically disappear.

Where the new window, and the new single glass door will go:

And here's a shot of the eat-in area. We were going to do a built-in banquette, that's the L-shaped business. But now I'm leaning to a Mission Oak nook set that I found for a very reasonable price ready-made.

You can see that we'll be moving a little bit into the family room. Buh-bye old ratty carpet that still smells like the previous owner's dog when it gets wet.

That angled bit at the right will be the built-in desk. I just hope it doesn't end up looking too big and clunky.

FIngers crossed!

Avoiding the dreaded "To Do" list.

Good grief. Why do I ever write "To Do" lists? They just give me angst, grief, and a big old ulcer.

Oh, and they make me feel really good about my mad housekeeping skillz, when I write things like "put away box in dining room that has been there SINCE WE MOVED HERE EIGHT YEARS AGO".

So, this is my reward. Fluffy little diary entries, whenever I get something banged off of the To Do list.


I'm on the second laundry load of the morning (accomplishment that deserves a break/reward). Nate had a piddle-accident in the night. Ouch on my interrupted sleep. That's two nights in a row, seeing as the previous night, he'd seen "big massive giant spiders" on his ceiling, and I had to go in and snuggle down with him until he calmed down... at 4am.

Ken's been playing through old Jazz Standard books that we've got, and last night, he thought "Hey! Why play this on the piano when I've got a soprano saxophone that I can be playing with?" Skip, who was SUPPOSED to be writing some riveting and compelling expository essay (choke), was distracted by the noise, and came over to the piano, and soon it wasn't the piano I was hearing, but a Jazz Combo, consisting of a sax and bass guitar.

They forbade me from taking video, but I did manage to snap this shot off.

This is a mighty step up from moments before, when they noticed I had the camera (Hmm, I think my camera deserves to have a name. Anyone...? Anyone...? Buehler? Buehler...?) and immediately made the international sign of "No Paparazzi", with their hands out towards the lens, so I couldn't see any faces.

I'm waiting for the garage-door repair dudes to descend. I'm tired of not being able to go in and out of the garage, and I know it's just a matter of time before some dreaded garage-door-falling accident happens with Ken or the kids, so come on DUDES, come fix the door already.

They said "between 9 and 11", but I'm tempted to start calling the company and ask for an ETA in the next few minutes. I've got things to do. People to see. Diary entries to write.

Saturday, one of the local schools hosted an e-waste recycle fair. It's a fundraiser, as the school gets paid by one of the big recyclers by the POUND for any electric/electronic stuff that they gather (large appliances need not apply). And yes, everything is shredded and recycled locally. There is none of that nefarious 'shipping-to-the-third-world' business going on here.

I thought we had a garage full of old computer parts, but it turns out that we recycled those last year. So we were casting about for any recyclables, when my eye landed on our old Stereo System. You remember those? Back in the 70s and 80s, they were All The Rage. You had components. And they all hooked together out the back of the stereo stand with about a hundred miles of red, black, yellow, and white wires. Well, we had one that was a fixture in our dining-room-that-is-really-a-music-room, and all it was was a big giant dust collector. The tape deck ("what is this "casette" that you speak of?") hadn't worked since Skip was 3, and had taken it apart very early one morning (and then promptly given himself a giant time-out on the sofa until we woke up and found him, sitting stoicly staring at the wall). And yes, it was a Nakamichi (with the auto-flip housing), and probably cost a fortune when it was bought back in 84 or 85, but we'd been carting it around BROKEN for eleven years.

It was time for the ENTIRE stereo to go bye-bye.

So after Kung Fu was done...

I took apart the stereo (saving the speaker wire, which was 'monster', and cost something like a buck a foot, and Ken isn't ready to let that go just yet), and headed off to recycle!

Oh. Good. Grief!

I was expecting a few parent volunteers, and a dumpster, or something like that.

Not. A. Chance.

This was a well-planned and well-executed operation. There were check-points. You signed in what you were bringing. You were directed to a lane for unloading. Hired guns unloaded your stuff for you, giving you receipts for tax purposes, if it was warranted.

And you see that? It's a BIG RIG! All that electronic has-been stuff was going into a BIG RIG.

I bet there were a hundred televisions and computer monitors. Maybe more. There were a dozen giant vacuum cleaners in a little herd by one lane. And I thought I would be the only person bringing stereo equipment? Oh, no. My three little obsolete components went into a sea of stacks of similar stuff.

(It was only after I'd gone through the line, parked, and was checking out the Fifth Grade Bake Sale table that I realized that I'd never checked the CD player, and there was probably a CD in the changer. Whoopsie. I went back, and some of the volunteers helped me find the CD player, and then we discovered that it wasn't going to open without power. They were all "We can find an extension cord!" and I said "You know, I've just gotta let this one go." Of course, I knew that it had probably been a year since we'd had a CD in the player, so it wasn't anything that was going to be missed any time soon.

Then the kids wanted to check out the playground.

Of course.

Eek. Why must they hang upside down? Don't they know it makes a mother get grey hair?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Blue Painter's Tape

Kelly's BFF's dad was over last night. He is now officially our contractor. It was quite fun talking about all the things he wants to do in our kitchen, because we'd get to some big decision, or turning point, or 'this could get sticky' and he'd say "Whatever we decide on this, know that my first priority is making sure that at the end of things, our daughters are still best friends."

There is 2 inch wide blue painters tape all over one wall, and the floor. It even extends down into the family room, where it's stuck onto the carpet.


Things will be different.

I'm excited about the zone that will soon be Ken's 'baking center'. It should look like an old piece of furniture.

I'm wondering if I will regret carving two feet out of our already not-so-gigantic family room. Or if it really is a good idea to replace the big awkward-because-they're-not-quite-tall-enough sliding glass doors (Ken has to duck going through them) with a single taller-yet-narrower regular kitchen door.

Should I really encourage all the splurging on my built-in desk with hidden peripheral charging station? I've done fine on the old Ikea scratch-n-dent desk that used to be Skip's. Almost too fine, if you consider how high the piles are on this puppy.

I'm bummed that the microwave couldn't go in the eat-in area. That would've been ideal for the kids, what with all their Magic Bag heating-up that they want to do (right now, the microwave is too high for all but Skip to handle).

I'm pretty pleased that my new choice for a range hood will be much, much cheaper than was budgeted, though. And I'll get an extra set of cupboards out of the deal as a result.

Today is the day.

Today, I begin boxing up stuff that we just won't need.

And along the way? I'll be ridding out. It's time to go all Fly Lady on the crap we've accumulated over the past 19 years of marriage. Do I *really* need to be keeping those 72 sub-par cookbooks that were wedding and shower presents? Oh, the sentiment will probably get to me on a few of them, but really? I just don't look at most of them any more.

And magazines? Say bye-bye, babies. I'm pretty sure I've got stacks of those that I haven't looked at in three years.

If I give them away, I don't have to store them. OR find places for them in the New Order.

Hey, I might even start tossing stuff out of the pantry.

It's about time for a purge of ancient foodstuffs. Before someone opens a bag and says "Mom, is Pirate Booty SUPPOSED to smell like this?" Yikes.

Uh oh. School in 10 minutes, and the kids are still in jammies (except Skip, who's already been at school for an hour and a bit. Jazz Band. Ouch. My brain hurts.)

PS. I am running on Very Little Sleep. Last night, I had to kill an African lioness (not a lion with the full mane, that would've been TOO hard) with my bare hands and teeth (they bleed really hard when you bite their ear off) on the roof of Pioneer Woman's (do you read her blog? You should! It's fantastic!) new Lodge. We were there for the housewarming, and it was lovely - except for the one window that didn't close, letting in the lioness. Sheesh. I thought Marlboro Man would've dispatched the critter when she went for Ken's sleeping form, but sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands. And then I got lion blood all over my trousers, and had to put them in her snazzy new washing machine, but that left me wearing a t-shirt (long, thankfully) and knickers, and she wanted to take photos of me for her blog, but she said they'd be tasteful, so I had to quickly wash up but all I could find in the spare rooms in the loft of the Lodge were piles of lawn furniture. Ex. Haust. Ing! And then I woke up. And I was still exhausted. But at least there wasn't a lion in our bedroom.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Once again

We put the hammies together tonight. Midnight's been quite wobbly lately, and the thought that he might not be around much longer plays on my thoughts.

But S'more was very happy to see him.

Look! They're kissing!

And they spent a good deal of time in 'the breeding box' just hanging out, and being friendly.

Maybe she knows that he's old and frail and harmless.

"Hey you, do your grooming on your own time!"

Look. They're like an old married couple, sitting on a park bench or something.

"What? Who turned on the lights? Stop with the flash bulbs already!"

Christmas Loot. Just a little late.

Here's a few shots of the Christmas Loot.

Kelly got Webkinz. Why did we get her ANYTHING else? She really just needed these TWO things, and she would've been happy for the whole holiday.

Nate, he got into the Webkinz mood, too.

Unfortunately, he counted presents, and came up short compared to his sister (who got clothing, and thought of that as "SWEET!" unlike her brothers who saw clothing gifts as "What? Where's my REAL gift?")

For instance... Skip got boxers.

Oh yeah. He's thrilled.

He's usually so much more sedate.

Oh, I got treated VERY well, too.

Maybe you can see my gift?

I'm holding it.

Here's a better shot.

Truly, I was speechless. My parents were laughing, because I was making the fish face when I realized what was in the box. Ken rarely scoops me in such a big way. I thought I knew exactly what I was getting for Christmas. Of course, right now, it's lipstick for a pig, because I have zero skillz. But I'm working hard to get to know this magnificent device.

I took dozens of photos with it on the trip home last week.

Yeah. The roads were GREAT!

But then we got to California, and the sun came out.

This is what happens when I try to take a photo of my wonderful husband at a rest stop.

"Hello? If you are home, can you put seeds in my dish?"

Yummmm.. Thanks!

Sunday, January 04, 2009


For supper this evening, the kids and I had Ramen noodles as part of my New Year's austerity plan.

Then, for dessert, we had the left-over lemon curd from yesterday's Prime Rib and Chocolate Ganache Lemon tart orgy.

I think we'll have to have bread and water for a little while longer to make up for this:

*mops up the drool initiated JUST from uploading the photo*

Oh, and here are the finished lemon tarts.

What you can't see is the thin layer of bitter chocolate ganache that's hiding under the lemon curd, nestled inside those delicate shortbread tarts.

*wipes up more drool*

Oh no. My fork is empty.

*runs off to lick out the left-over lemon curd bowl*

ps: Why do we exchange gifts at Christmas, when I just KNOW that my kids are gonna latch onto the wrapping paper or ribbon, and be perfectly happy just playing with that...?

Toni's cat:

OH hai. Teh crinklee paper? Is mine! Teh yarn? Mine 2.

And then the boys spent the rest of the evening asking me to take photos of the cat, so they could "lolcat caption" the pictures.


Oh, maybe this present had something to do with it:

Skip got the "I can has Cheezburger?" book from his friend.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Musical Gene

We all acknowledge that Ken is a musical genius. Here's where the kids get an extra dose of Musical Genius from my side of the family.

My grandmother:

And my grandfather (with my mom accompanying him):

It's so odd. I look at that photo, and I know EXACTLY where it was taken. By the time I came around, that window behind my mom had a little stepped table in front of it with Christmas cacti and African violets. And behind my grandfather is a hexagonal window. I pushed really hard when we bought our house in Montreal because it had an identical window in the stairwell. Yes, not the BEST reason to buy a house, but a good 'icing on the cake'. And when I was a kid, the piano had moved to the wall behind Poppa's right shoulder. That was an inside wall. Better for the piano to not get whacked with strong temperature changes. Oh, and the linoleum on the floor (large floral pattern, you can sort of see it) was covered with carpet when I was a kid, but you could still see it in the hallway.

I miss that house.