28 February 2007

i get a c-minus in domesticity

I like to call myself a professional mama, and I say that my profession encompasses several other occupations, such as chef, nanny, seamstress (I mended three items while watching a movie a few nights ago so I can now officially add this to my resume), and housekeeper. Now, I think it's pretty common knowledge that I'm a terrible housekeeper, but I've always tried to pretend otherwise. I mean, we've managed to keep most lethal diseases at bay, there are usually clean dishes to eat from and clean clothes to wear, and once you learn to step around and over the toys littering the living room floor, it's almost as if they're not there. Today, though, I came to a realization that, if I were actually being paid for my housekeeping skills, I'd have been fired long ago.

Greg came home today and started coughing when he walked in the door: "I'm... choking... on... scented... candle..." I said, "Oh, yeah, when I came home with James earlier, I noticed that it smelled funny in here, so I lit a candle." By the way, I came home with James around noon, and Greg walked in the door just before six. Greg asked, "What was the smell? The recycling?" I forgot to take the recycling out on Monday, and I'm pretty sure I forgot to take it out last week too, so the bin is now overflowing in the kitchen closet. In fact, half of the kitchen counter is cluttered with recyclables that are too big or heavy to stack on top of the precariously piled bin.

So I said, "Yeah, it could be the recycling, or it could also be the garbage, which is also overflowing, or maybe something spilled on the counter, or..." I trailed off as Greg just looked at me.

The point is, I smelled something funny in my house, and instead of finding the source of the odor and taking care of it, I lit a scented candle. For six hours. On top of that, as soon as I realized how ridiculous I am, instead of dealing with the odor at once, I came to the computer to sit down and write this blog post. I'm not proud of this, exactly, but I do think it's funny, if pathetic, and it's a pretty good example of how I approach pretty much everything in my life.

Now, however, I'm thinking about finding that smell and eradicating it. You know, after I make dinner. And wash the dishes. And put the kids to bed. And watch some tv. And maybe after a good night's sleep.


27 February 2007

some days are better than others

Scene: 6am. I am woken from a sound sleep by sudden shouting.

Evan: Moooommmmmyyyyy! Mommy, I poopy!
Heidi: *rolls over, hopes he goes back to sleep*
Evan: Moooommmmmyyyyy! I poopy! I need diaper!
Heidi: *kicks Greg, who is somehow managing to sleep completely through this, or is a very good faker*
Evan: Moooommmmmyyyyy! I need diaper! I poopy! Moooommmmmyyyyy!
Heidi: grumble grumble mumble please shut up
Evan: Moooommmmmyyyyy! Moooommmmmyyyyy! Moooommmmmyyyyy!

After about 15 minutes of this, I stumble from my bed into the boys' room (Greg, meanwhile, is still sleeping soundly).

Evan, as I enter the room: Mommy! Thanks, Mommy. I wuv you!

Even in a bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived state, I have to admit that's ridiculously cute. I locate diaper-changing materials, take Evan out of his crib to change his diaper.

Guess who's not poopy?


26 February 2007

oscar impressions

Those of you who know me know that I have a weakness for pop culture, celebrity gossip, and movie trivia. Mostly I try to keep these things off the ol' blog, but once in a while I just need to go there. Last night, as we all know, was the Academy Awards, the Most Important Night in Hollywood, so today is one of those days where I need to indulge my pop culture fascination.

Last year, you might remember, I was sorely disappointed in the glamorous but totally boring and drama-free ceremony. This year, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I really liked their theme of focusing on nominees rather than just winners. I guess it was still pretty boring, but I did manage to stay awake for all four hours, so it wasn't too terrible. And as much as I adore Jon Stewart and relish any chance to see him, I thought Ellen Degeneres was a much better Oscar host than Jon Stewart. But then, I happen to be a big Ellen fan. 90% of the reason I allow my kids to watch Finding Nemo as much as I do is because I love Ellen as Dory. Love her. And basically, any Oscar host who is not Billy Crystal or Whoopie Goldberg is okay in my book.

Okay, so I don't have a lot to say about this year's ceremony, so I'm going to finish out this post bullet-style:

  • Hooray for Pan's Labyrinth! I was disappointed that it didn't win Best Foreign Film, because it was beautiful and I loved it, but I'm glad it got a few awards anyway.
  • Speaking of foreign films, I loved the Best Foreign Film retrospective to celebrate 50 years of awards in that category. I realized I've seen 12 or the 50 Best Foreign Film winners (thank you, Italian and Eastern European film classes), which is almost as many as the English-language Best Picture winners I've seen.
  • I was sad that neither of my favorite actresses, Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet, won an award (though they both looked gorgeous). But I was happy for both Jennifer Hudson and Helen Mirren (who I love as well), so it was okay. Someday, Cate and Kate; someday...
  • Speaking of looking gorgeous, I'm going to be completely shallow for a moment and admit how glad I was for the return of fashion blunders. Most people looked wonderful, but I got to enjoy a little schadenfreude, mostly at the expense of Kirsten Dunst, who I completely cannot stand for absolutely no good reason. I mean, it's a totally irrational dislike, above and beyond the normal level of dislike she's entitled to for being a lousy actress in mostly crappy movies.
  • I didn't think that Jack Nicholson could get any creepier, but he found a way! The shaved head along with the sunglasses that seem permanently attached to his face created an alien-like look that gave me chills every time the camera cut to him (which was entirely too often. There was no reason to show him at all, except perhaps to intentionally freak people out). Congrats, Jack!
  • I love Al Gore. I love that the Oscars went green; I love that his film won Best Documentary; I love that he got to speak about global warming; I love that he can make fun of himself a little bit.
  • Finally, I hope that Jack Black and Will Ferrell sing an Oscar night duet together every year from now until the end of time, because they are hilarious.

Anyone want to talk Oscars, or movies in general, in comments?


23 February 2007

friday photos

It's finally Friday. It's been a long week -- two days of preschooler sickness is tiiiiring. But James is mostly well again -- well enough, anyway, for me to drag the kids to the grocery store for the groceries we've so desperately needed the last few days. I'm realizing now that I don't think I've left the house since Monday night. That's sad enough that our trip to the grocery store is looking pretty exciting to me. But tomorrow is the weekend, when I can unload some of the childcare duties on Greg, hooray!

Thought I'd celebrate with some photos from sledding last weekend.

James was fearless, barrelling down hills with or without a sled.

Yes, Evan is in the snow and he is smiling. Miraculous.
(It's because we gave him a snowball.)

Evan was perfectly content after Greg made him a "lollipop" out of snow.
(But you should have seen the tantrum when he dropped it, and Mama was unable to make him another!)


21 February 2007

tv time warp

I don't love kids' TV, nor do I hate it. I do seem to have a remarkably high tolerance for it, compared to most other people I know who are not actually children. This being a sick day, we have spent a lot of hours in front of the boob tube today, even sitting through Barney, which makes most reasonable people want to claw their eyes out. Maybe the reason I don't mind most kids' TV is because I'm pretty good at just tuning it out.

But right now? We are watching Reading Rainbow, and I am seriously digging it.

Why? Levar Burton is teaching kids about telling stories though music, and started the episode off with some examples of "the newest style of telling stories" -- music videos.

That's right, they're showing a 20-year-old episode of Reading Rainbow on our PBS station, and I am loving it. They showed video clips from Lionel Richie and Tears for Fears! Run DMC wrote a rap just for Reading Rainbow! And now Pete Seeger is reading (and singing) his book Abiyoyo, a story (and song) we all love.

And I have to say that Levar Burton in a pink shirt with bright blue jacket and tie and tallish '80s hair is truly a sight to behold.

I seriously would not enjoy this half as much were I actually a kid watching it. But I'm a total sucker for '80s nostalgia.


sick day

Poor James is sick today. Probably just a virus -- fever and lethargy are the only syptoms so far. Lethargy is key, though; it's how I can tell my normally rambunctious preschooler is actually feeling badly. I can tell this illness isn't particularly bad, though, because even though he's sprawled motionless on the couch watching a movie, he still manages to laugh from time to time. On his worst sick days he more closely resembles a zombie, so I'm not too worried today.

I used to love days when James was (mildly) sick, because those were the only days, as a toddler, that he would slow down and sit still, that he would ask me to snuggle with him, that he would act as if he actually needed me for something. But now that his little brother is the Neediest and Most Demanding Toddler in the Universe, I get my fill of snuggling and feeling needed on a daily basis, so it's not as much fun anymore. Now I'm more worried about Evan's demands keeping me from comforting James.

Anyway, I think we've got a pretty lazy day ahead of us, so I can't really complain. As long as he doesn't puke on me.


20 February 2007

i normally hate these things

I'm not the type to post stupid quizzes, because most of the time they're stupid and, for me, innacurate. Not to mention hardly ever interesting.

Well, this one wasn't very interesting, but I was incredibly pleased with the results -- I think it's very fitting. Which historical figure am I?

You are Catherine the Great.

You are very intelligent and a socialist. It is very important to you that all people be treated equally in a society. You are able to fully comprehend social problems and you are outspoken when it comes to dealing with them.

Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com


19 February 2007

the master of positivity

It has not been the best of days. Fortunately, I've had lots of opportunities to practice looking on the bright side. Examples:

1. Evan smeared yogurt in his hair at lunch.

The bright side? He smells like strawberries.

2. The toilet overflowed this afternoon, and it was messy. And smelly.

The bright side? The bathroom is cleaner than it's been in a long, long time.

3. It took me close to an hour to clean the bathroom, right when I should have been making dinner.

The bright side? Greg is making dinner because he feels sorry for me. (Actually I demanded that he either cook or take me out to dinner, because I felt sorry for myself, but that's beside the point.)

4. When the floor in the bathroom gets wet, the ceiling in the dining room leaks. I forgot about this until I came downstairs after cleaning the bathroom, and had to clean all over again.

The bright side? ... Okay, there isn't really a bright side to that.

And, okay, it actually wasn't such a terrible day, apart from the toilet issues. I only threw in the bit about Evan with yogurt in his hair because I actually really loved it that he smelled like strawberries. Anyway, it's times like this I feel thankful that I'm an optimist and am able to laugh at myself.


celebrity lookalikes

Just a bit of vanity today. A stranger recently told me that I look just like an actress I'd never heard of. He even said I must hear it all the time, which I don't, because I didn't know who she was. But it made me remember that I have been compared to a few celebrities over the years. I'm posting this not to brag that I am beautiful and gorgeous just like a celebrity, but because, as someone who's only ever considered herself to be mostly average, I think it's funny that I've been compared to beautiful celebrities to whom I think I bear no resemblance.

I've got three stories, with photographic evidence. Here's me, to begin with:

This photo was taken last summer, so it's pretty close to how I look now. (Couldn't figure out how to crop the kids out of the photo, but they're cute, so it's okay.) Now let's compare to the celebrities I allegedly resemble.

In the ninth grade, I had a teacher (female, so not too creepy) who insisted that I looked just like Julia Roberts in The Pelican Brief. Okay, so I had long, curly blondish-brown hair, and I don't have a photo of myself for comparison, but suffice it to say that at 14, I really did not look that much like Julia Roberts:

I look less like Julia Roberts now, since she's polished her appearance considerably in recent years.

Then, no celebrity comparisons that I can remember until a few months ago, when one of Greg's friends told me that he and his girlfriend thought I looked just like the main character from the old, short-lived Fox TV series Undeclared. He couldn't remember her name, but I did a little sleuthing, out of curiosity to see if I had a twin somewhere out there, and as far as I can tell, Carla Gallo is the girl he was talking about:

My hair is not that curly, nor is it that dark, and I... well, I don't really see it. Maybe it's different seeing her in action on the show -- maybe we have similar mannerisms or something. Still, physically, not so much.

And then, last week, the University parking employee who told me I look just like an actress from CSI, "Georgia-something". Come to find out that her name is Jorja, and again, I don't really see the resemblance:

I don't know, am I wrong? Do any of you readers think I look like any of these celebrities (or any others)? Have you ever been compared to a celebrity, accurately or not?


18 February 2007

anatomy is inappropriate for children

The New York Times has an article about a children's book that was just awarded the Newbery Medal, "the most prestigious award in children's literature." It's rated at 4.5 stars on amazon.com; reviews are positive, saying things like "[the main character is] a multi-dimensional character whose predicament is compelling", "Readers will gladly give themselves over to [author Susan] Patron, a master of light but sure characterization and closely observed detail", and "Patron's plotting is as tight as her characters are endearing." As far as I've been able to tell, it contains no sex scenes, no promotion of Satanism, and no graphic violence, yet school libraries all over the country are refusing to purchase it. What could be so terrible about this book that should deem it worthy of widespread censorship?

Well, it contains the word "scrotum."

Yes, you read that right. Scrotum. Scrotum scrotum scrotum. And it's not that a scrotum is seen by a character or described by the author, no, but the word is overheard by the main character, a 10-year-old girl, who is puzzled and intrigues by the word. And why don't librarians want to purchase this book for their libraries, despite its obvious merits? According to a librarian in Brighton, NY (literally minutes from where we live), "I don’t think our teachers, or myself, want to do that vocabulary lesson."

That's what it really comes down to, isn't it? A "poignant Newbery-winning story [that] sails along with believable childlike rhythms and kid's-eye-view observations" is being censored from schools because the word "scrotum" appears on page one, and adults do not want to be faced with describing an anatomical term to middle-schoolers. One would think that these squeamish librarians, being librarians and all, might also have access to books featuring anatomical diagrams, thus relieving them of the problem of even saying the word "scrotum", much less having to explain it! No, it's far easier just to ban the book.

This makes me a little angry, but mostly sad. Is it really so terrible to ackowledge the sexual parts of the human body? It reminds me of a recent conversation in which some friends of ours expressed surprise that James is familiar with the words "penis" and "vagina", and has in fact occasionally seen his parents in various states of undress. It kind of baffles me. The only reason, I think, that anatomical words carry such mystery and secrecy about them is because we make it so. If our culture were less afraid to admit that every male person possesses a penis (and a scrotum) and every female person possesses a vagina, perhaps we'd allow our children to read a book which is not about sex or even naked people, but instead is a touching story about a young girl growing up that happens to contain the word "scrotum".

I think the next time James has a bath, I'll make sure he knows what his scrotum is and where, because it is his body, and since he's five years old, not really any more important than his knee or his kidney at this point.


16 February 2007

friday photos

More photos today because a) I don't have time for a substantial post and b) I know you all love pics of my kids.

We haven't gotten a photo of Evan in months in which he is both smiling and looking at the camera, until yesterday. All it took was a scarf, apparently:

We have some giant snow piles where the parking lots have been cleared here. Even I think they're fun to play on and I'm incredibly lame, so you can imagine what a great time James had -- those piles are huge!

Evan, however, did not enjoy being outside. At all. He was terrified of the noisy Bobcat that was clearing the parking lot while we were out, and he pretty much looked like this the whole time, no matter what I did:

And some funny bath photos, because we are totally into shampoo hair sculptures these days:

Hope everyone has a great weekend -- stay warm!


14 February 2007

snow day!

We are being buried in snow today, and since we're pretty much housebound for a while, I thought I'd update the old blog. With photos, no less!

This is our front walk:

Since the maintenance people typically clear the snow in a thorough and timely fashion, we no longer own a shovel. Today the maintenance people are mysteriously absent -- or maybe they're overburdened by the ridiculous amounts of snow and just haven't made it over to our street yet. Anyway, looking at the walk is making me wish I actually owned a pair of winter boots. I know, I know, upstate NY in the winter -- it's foolish not to own boots. But you know, I'm pretty good at being foolish, as I'll demonstrate further down in the post.

Here is our poor buried car. This is how buried it is after cleaning it off and going out this morning:

But from the back door it looks fluffy and innocent and pretty:

James was home from nursery school today, which I found out only after driving him there this morning. Normally we get a call in the morning if school is going to be cancelled, but today I guess they figured that only an idiot would attempt to drive in these conditions. Ladies and gentlemen, I am that idiot. After navigating poorly plowed roads at a snail's pace this morning, and nearly getting stuck in a completely unplowed section of road, I think it's safe to say that I will never, ever drive James to school again before checking school cancellations.

James was ridiculously disappointed; he cried as we drove away from the dark and empty school. You see, today is Valentine's Day, and it was his mom's turn to be the parent helper, and he made valentines to give to all of his friends, and we baked a special snack of blueberry muffins in heart-shaped cups, and on top of all that it was his show and tell day, for which he made a special valentine for the whole class. What a huge disappointment! We also had a playdate scheduled for this afternoon, and I naturally assumed our friends would not brave the weather to come and play, but thankfully I was wrong -- apparently I'm not the only one stupid enough to venture outside in weather like this. It's a good thing, because I don't think James could have handled any more disappointment. He and his friend are now happily playing some kind of Star Wars/dinosaur hybrid game. With airplanes, and a tropical island.

I think we'll be able to avoid going completely stir-crazy; after all, we've hardly left the house except for school and groceries and library trips in recent weeks. We're pros at indoor play. Our days are pretty well filled with cooking, movies, books, Star Wars, play-doh, and jumping on the bed. One of their favorite things to do lately is to sit behind the cushions on the couch and pretend that they're in a spaceship. Here's a photo of them reading on a particularly long space flight:

So we're having a fun winter so far. I'm not even sick of the snow yet! It's still pretty, and I don't have to go anywhere, so let it snow. I'll probably change my tune if this keeps up for too long, but for now, we're happy.


06 February 2007

happy happy birthday

A very happy birthday to my wonderful, witty, intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, clever sister Kim today. Kim, I hope you're having a fabulous day!