Monday, October 31, 2011

The many incantations of my children

We had a lovely Halloween weekend at our house.  Coen went through two costumes and Lucy, many different faces of her one costume. 
Friday night, Tad and I got to go see The Might  Be Giants at the Pabst Theater and my parents took the kids trick or treating at the Domes and to I-Hop for spooky pancakes.  Saturday, we spent the day at the Elegant Farmer and Coen went nighttime trick or treating in Washington Heights. 
Sunday we had a Halloween block party on 55th Street and more trick or treat.  Coen went from A Roman Soldier on Saturday night to Ringo Starr on Sunday morning, back to a Roman Solider Sunday afternoon.

Lucy was a Smurf. She started out the morning as Grumpy Smurf, crying about the layers under her costume being too tight.  Her rantings were so drawn out that she ended up upstairs having an enforced pre-block party rest time.  She began her block party times as Grumpy, refusing to have her picture taken and getting mad at various friends.  Later, she eased in and made some slime with our neighbor Rebecca and covered herself in green goo, thus becoming Slimy Smurf.  Her lunch -- spaghetti and then a purple cupcake -- made it to her face and she was suddenly Messy Smurf.  Once it was time to go trick-or-treating, her mood had mostly improved and she became Relatively Cheerful Smurf. 

At any rate, my children went to sleep happy last night and Tad and I watched Bridesmaids and ate our Elegant Farmer caramel apple pie. A nice end to a nice weekend.
Coen, the Roman Soldier

Coen, as Ringo Starr

Grumpy Smurf

Slimy Smurf

Messy Smurf

Relatively Cheerful Smurf

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Care Package

I was in the Peace Corps in Estonia from 2000-2002.  During those years I met some friends who would become some of the dearest people in my life whom, I daresay, I will know and love as long as I live.  We try to get together annually, if not more often.

A few years ago, we reunioned at my house and during one of those evenings, we played a game of catch phrase.  If you haven't played, you pass around a little machine which gives you a category and the seconds tick off. When you are handed the machine, you must shout out a word or phrase for the category, trying not to get it it when it makes it signature WHOOSH noise, signalling that you have lost the round!   So during one round, the category was 'popular phrases' and when the machine was handed hastily to Harald he shouted out (as if this were a phrase that we all knew and loved and had been saying for years) "Ho Hum! What a life!"  Well, this sent us all into gales of laughter and it is now a great phrase to use. 

Today, my friend Harald is sick. He has a brain tumor and is currently suffering through chemotherapy and radiation. I talk to him as often as I can.  He needs lots of strength and love sent his way, even if you don't know him.  But Harald, even in the midst of this hardest time of his still hilarious.  I called him on the way home from my friend Rebecca's the other day and said "Oh shit! I left my sunglasses at Rebecca's!" Harald paused for a moment, then said, "Yeah, life sucks doesn't it?"

Very funny.  Above is a shirt I made for him, which will be on its way to northern New York in a care package tomorrow.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Everyone else's children...

Last night I was sitting with some girlfriends waiting to go rinse the hair dye out of my hair.  My friend said that she'd read that when a mom hears her own baby cry, her blood pressure rises.  But when she hears another baby cry, everything stays even-steven.

Man, isn't that true?!!

While I got my hair dyed, my friend's children sat in front of me, asking questions, and talking to me.  My friend apologized.  "Man, you got a break from your own children, but here mine are with a barrage of questions!"

"Oh, I don't mind!" I said, "It's totally different when it's not your own."

It really is.

Sometimes I'll be with my sister or a girlfriend and she'll be annoyed with her child--the noises he's making.  The amount she's talking...  But it doesn't phase me in the least.  I'll even find it cute or funny.

And likewise, I'll be with my children.  Coen will be talking and talking, showing his Pokemon cards or telling a long, involved story while I'm trying to tell a story of my own to a friend.  Arrrrrgggghhhhh, I'll be thinking. STOP TALKING, child!!!  But my friend?  No problem. He's adorable!  Or Lucy will be having one of her moments, throwing herself on the floor because the red Lego and the green Lego won't "connect togever!"  "Oh my GOL!" I'll say, visibly frustrated.  "What?" my sister will ask, "It's fine! Just ignore her!"

But alas. We cannot ignore our own children like we can everyone else's children.  They seep into our consciousness, under our skin and behind our eyeballs.  And that can feel like the worst kind of overtaking when you are irritated or frustrated with your children.  You feel possessed with annoying rage that seems to have no real grounding...  But because they do live there in the very core of your are also able to love them with a power that could melt metal. 

Because of that power, you can wipe snot, blood and vomit with your bare hands and not even flinch.  You can hold them for 45 straight minutes, though your back may ache and you have to pee... because their warmth against yours feels like the only thing that matters.  You can come home every day and make them dinner and tell them stories and wash their hair, looking at that face...the face that can contort in tantrummy anger, making you want to scream one minute and then softly look at you with big expectant eyes, making you want to cry with joy and love the next.

Yes, it is everyone else's children that keeps your blood pressure level and your ire nearly non-existent.  But while your own can send you careening into a tantrum of your own, one you never expected to have in your adult life, they also fill you with elation and love...make you stronger than you've ever been.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On second thought...

I know I already blogged once today.  This is an addendum blog.  For the earlier blog,

click here!

So I ran into my friend Liza and her two children in the school parking lot this afternoon and she commented on my blog.  My kids were with me, so I said, "Who are you going to marry, Lucy?" expecting that she'd say "Zef!"  This is the conversation that ensued:

Me: Who are you going to marry, Lucy?
Lucy? Josie!
Josie smiles
Coen: I thought you were going to marry Zef.  What if you want to marry a boy?
Lucy: I'm going to marry Josie!
Coen: Well I know what you can do if you want to marry Josie!
Lucy: Huh?
Coen: Zef can be your donor and maybe see your and Josie's baby sometimes!

Man alive, I love these kids and the world they live in.  Anyone can marry anyone and love is up for grabs.  It's beautiful.  Why isn't the whole world like that?

Baby love

Lucy's friend and neighbor Zef is over for lunch. I picked them both up from school and we are enjoying some Lego play in between bites of grilled cheese, applesauce and pretzels.

Here is a conversation between these two:

Zef: Lucy, when my grow up and my be a daddy my going to marry YOU!
Lucy: Okay!  But I can't have a lot a husbands.  Maybe just two husbands.
Zef: Okay. That's okay.
Lucy: And if we get married, then you can come to my wedding!

You have to love it!  I'm off to enjoy these two and try to get them to actually focus on eating!

Later on I blogged again (an addendum to this blog) you can read it here!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I have told you all before, I am working on some self-improvement right now.  One thing I really, really want to get better at is just existing in the ONE moment that I'm in.  Like any mom, besides the job of parenting I also have the jobs of making dinner, band-aid-ing owies, packing lunches, changing batteries, signing homework sheets and on and on and on.  Because of my own history with chaos, I have my own challenges in sitting still.  The lack of order I experienced in my early years has made me sometimes crave order (the kind I can control) above all things.  An unswept crumb, a pile of dishes, a buzzing dryer or an unraked pile of leaves can send me careening off away from my children doing some task that is - by far - less important.

My therapist gave me an assignment.  Every evening during the week from 5:30 - 7:30, I am WITH my kids. Doing whatever it is that we're doing--reading a book, playing Coen's strange, thrown-together idea of a Pokemon card game, building a puzzle...  And any urges I have to clear the table, wash a dish, pick out tomorrow's clothes, suddenly organize the CDs.... must be pushed through and let go.  This time, of course, includes dinner and baths and bedtime, but I even have found myself getting up in the middle of dinner to get the mail, leaving Coen to bathe himself and start the dishes...  My kids need me to focus on them.  It's really hard for me to focus at all.  But I've been doing it now for almost three weeks and the payoff is outstanding.

There are two things I receive as payoff--Coen and Lucy. 

It is even more of a challenge for me when Tad's not home.  Tad keeps me in check--raising an eyebrow when I answer my children's "Mommy can you play with me?" with "In a minute!" which can invariably be anywhere from an actual minute to twenty.  But he wasn't home last night and I pitched a perfect game.  I was with my kids and I tell you, the amount of refereeing I had to do was minimal.  Without my absence, arguments were less likely because we were all together.  I didn't need to get annoyed that they were calling me away from something I was trying to get done because I had nothing to be called away from. I was giving them me.  And me, them.

When I tucked Coen in--the last parenting move of the night--I gave him a kiss.  As I was walking out of his room he said, "Mom?  Can you give me another kiss? I don't remember the last one."  I kissed him again.  "That's better." He said. "If there's a little wet, then I remember it better."

I chuckled all the way down the steps. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Things of questionable appropriateness

This has been a wonderful weekend.  It was a fun-filled, fall-filled weekend smattered with decisions and actions that may have been debatable. I shall number them as I go.

Friday we carved pumpkins.  We decided to let Coen carve his own pumpkin with a sharp knife for the first time ever.  Tad told Coen (much in Montessori fashion) that Mommy would give him a lesson in pumpkin carving before he would actually be able to do it himself. 1. During my lesson, I told Coen to place the pumpkin between his legs, and then demonstrated plunging the knife into the first place he wanted to carve.  Tad looked on apprehensively and then said, "Well I don't know if he should hold the pumpkin between his legs like that..." He quickly took over the carving lesson.  To celebrate pumpkin carving night, we all had bubbly apple cider with our dinner.  2. Coen raised his glass and said, "Lucy, this is beer! We're drinking BEER with our dinner."  Lucy said, "I'm an old man and I only drink beer!" and slugged hers down.

Saturday we went on a haunted walk in the woods sponsored by the Greendale Historical Society.  After the the kids were given goody bags by a woman dressed as a witch.  The kids each got to choose one candy and they gave me their bags to hold.  3. Tad and I each took a Kit-Kat out of their bags and ate them on the sly while they talked to their grandparents.  As we were waiting in line to go  on the walk, Lucy was standing by her Nana and a person from the press came by to take a photo.  My mother-in-law tried to pose with her granddaughter who had her hand smack down the front of her pants for the picture.  4.  She whispered something discreetly to Lucy who looked up and loudly said, "But my vagina itches!"  After the walk, I was taking a picture of Tad with his kids and his parents.  Tad's mom told the kids "Say Halloween!"5. All the family yelled out "Halloween" except my little Lucy who yelled "FART!" 

Today we hung around the house for awhile and let the kids play inside.  All of us went into the kitchen to prepare our pumpkin seeds for toasting.  Lucy put cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves on hers. Coen put garlic powder, salt and pepper on his.  6. Excited about his foray into pumpkin carving, Coen asked me if he could take all the knives out of the drawer and then I could tell him what they were used for.  I said "Sure!" to that.  It became quickly apparent, the questionableness of that decision, when Tad showed me the photo he took of Lucy, looking on.

And also this morning, we took a trip to Target.  As Coen hadn't yet decided what he wanted to be for Halloween, I, 7. decided to take him to that big Pumpkin-Shaped Halloween Express store to figure out what he's going to be.  But, alas, it proved to be an overwhelming, over-priced, consumer-circus bad idea for my little boy place to go!  He still doesn't know what he's going to be and he walked around the store, unsure of what even to focus on and feeling stressed about making a choice.   Of course, Lucy, in a matter of moments (who already has two Halloween costumes she can wear) chose a Smurf costume and Coen (the reason I wanted to go there) left empty handed.  It was a very pointless waste of money but I have certainly learned my lesson.  I leaned over to Tad in the car and whispered in his ear, "I vow NEVER to make us go to the Great Pumpkin again."  Now we both have pumpkin-related vows to each other. 

Finally, this afternoon, I was having a hard time getting Coen to spend some time in the out of doors. I remembered that every time we drive past the graveyard on the corner of Hawley and Bluemound, Coen says aloud how he wishes he could walk around there.  8. So I took my son walking in the graveyard today to entertain him.  He was very excited about looking at all the huge gravestones, especially the pyramid shaped one that we always see from the road.  I made sure to tell him that we had to be respectful and walk around without shouting or running and he said he understood that. 
It began to rain and we got to the car just before the downpour.

Despite some of these items, we did really have a wonderful weekend.  I hope yours was too.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Is it me, or are we beginning to look more and more like our pumkins.

My jack-o-lantern from last night which Tad claims is even more obnoxious than me.
Carving pumpkins is truly one of my most favorite things in the year.  When Tad and I got together, he was quite adverse to this activity.  But he saw how much I love doing it.  When we got married, in 2004, we each wrote our own vows.  Here is an excerpt from Tad's to me:

I promise also, to carve pumpkins with you each and every October

And he has.  And we noticed, last year, that the pumpkin I carved for Lucy, looked remarkably like her and a certain face she makes.  See below

The middle pumpkin is Lucy's

Uncanny, isn't it?

And last night's pumpkin that I carved definitely channels my own energy, as you can see above.  Last night, we let Coen carve his own pumpkin for the first time ever.  But below is a picture of a four year old Coen with his pumpkin, later carved by me.  In the picture, Coen has made the face with marker.

Finally, I'll share below another pumpkin that Tad carved.  And a picture of Tad the year he dressed as Uncle Sam.  They have a similar look on their faces if you ask me.

There you have it.  The Kriofske Mainella family: a history in pumpkins.  This is really such a wonderful time of year.  I love autumn leaves and all the colors. I love caramel apples and pumpkin flavored bakery. I love going to the Elegant Farmer with my family and my sister's.  I love costumes and trick or treat, and having a seemingly endless supply of chocolate around the house.  I love being outside with a sweater and a scarf.  And most of all, I love pumpkin carving night with my family.

Happy Autumn, dear readers. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011


It has been quite blustery outside! 

I took a break at work yesterday, thinking I would walk down to Alterra and buy myself a celebratory white chocolate mocha after all the work I had done.  When I got outside, I saw that it was raining.  I grabbed my huge umbrella and started walking.  It was so windy it was actually blowing me around!  I was screaming and laughing as the wind pulled me and my umbrella every which way.  It occurred to me that trying to make it there and then BACK with a coffee in my hand might prove to be more trouble that it is worth. So I drove.

When I returned, I told my coworkers about how the wind was blowing me away and my coworker, Tiffany noted how really odd things happen to happen to me all the time.  I have to say, her saying that was music to my ears.  That is why I started this blog: because funny things happen to me, but I stopped noticing them, being so busy with life...  She also reminded me of a really funny thing that happened to me last year--also mother nature related.  I will share.

I was walking down Water Street, eating a bowl of soup.  (That's funny right there, isn't it?) I had to speak at an advocacy event and the trip there was my only time to eat dinner, so that's what I was doing.  Anyway, suddenly, it was as if there was an EXPLOSION in my soup!  Soup flew out of my bowl and hit me in the face. I was speckled with soup, shocked and looking around me for the source of the explosion.  When I peered into my bowl, what did I see? BIRD POOP! A bird pooped right in my soup! Can you imagine?

So, that was a lovely reminder of amusement happening when you're not even looking for it.  Just walking down Water Street eating a bowl of soup. Totally normal behavior!

Happy Windsday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Disability Mentoring Day

 October is Disability Emloyment Awareness Month.  One project I run as the Youth Leadership Specialist at IndependenceFirst is Disability Mentoring Day.  Today is Disability Mentoring Day. Here's how it works.:  I outreach to teachers, schools, parents and the like and recruit youth to apply for the project. The youth (high school students and young job seekers) send me an application with their basic info, top three career choices, and a teacher recommendation.  Then I get to work, trying to find each student a job shadow placement for the day or a part of the day the third Wednesday of every October.  I am pretty proud of what I've done with this project.  When I first took it over, we were seeing about 20-25 students apply and even that seemed like a big undertaking.  This is my fifth year coordinating this event and this year 160 kids applied!!!  Planning this event is like planning a wedding.  A TON goes into it, and then the day comes, and suddenly its over!  Today, 160 youth will be going out to more than 50 metro-Milwaukee area businesses to job shadow someone working in the career of their choice.  I am about to go driving around and stopping at some of the various sites to take photos.  I'll be stopping at the Wisconsin Humane Society, Matt's Foreign Auto Service and Core/El Centro.  Later this afternoon, I'll take pictures at the Urban Ecology Center and The Town of Brookfield Police Department. 

Here's why I love this project.  Youth with disabilities get a chance to see what it is like in the working world.  Sometimes they get excited about how cool their field of interest looks. Sometimes they realize, that they don't want to do that at all.  The other reason I love this project is because employers and businesses in our community get a chance to meet an interesting, enthusiastic young person with a disability and hopefully, push through any anxiety or ignorance they might have about hiring or even working with a person with a disability.  

I have to extend an extra thanks to some personal friends who helped out this year.  It gets a little hairy at the end, trying to find all these placements.  Jillian Holy from Core/El Centro, Martin VanIrsel from McCormick and Schmicks and Joyce Gosnell from Legal Action of Wisconsin.  Also Joe Hausch, Tom Uyehara and Maria Ramos, all of whom are colleagues/coworkers and have participated in this event for as long as I've been running it.

I know this post isn't particularly amusing, so to keep with the theme of my blog, I'll end with a cartoon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blue Tuesday

We had a really busy, partly difficult weekend, but yesterday, sitting at the breakfast table with my family, I was thinking how pleasantly surprised I was that my children were bright eyed and cheerful and Tad and I were exchanging amused glances and laughing at our kids' antics.  Then I remembered.  Mondays are always fine. It's really TUESDAYS that are the bad day.  They really are.  So while I enjoyed breakfast yesterday, I tried to keep a little warning in the back of my head that our next morning might not be so sunny.

So, this morning, when I stepped out of the shower, I could hear Tad upstairs getting the children up and Lucy crying about a dispute she was having with him over wearing a dress today.  She came down first, cheerful enough, wearing her dress, but with pants and a long sleeve shirt underneath.  Then Tad came down, grumbling about how Coen took a really long time to get up and then announced that he needed to get dressed by himself, kicking his crying sister out of his room.

At the breakfast table, I was trying to talk to Tad but he could barely hear me over Coen's weird squeaking noises and Lucy singing to be heard over her brother.  Lucy poured the milk from her cup into her cereal, overflowing it on the table and then hopped off her chair, running into the kitchen and returning with another full cup of milk. I tried to appreciate that she'd gotten the milk by herself, but mostly was annoyed with the waste.  Neither of them liked their breakfast which incidentally, was the exact same breakfast they had yesterday.  While getting his shoes and coat on, Coen claimed to be hungry and then flopped over on the floor half-crying because his shirt was itchy under his jacket. I happened to walk through as Coen was saying back to Tad, "I am NOT laying on the floor whining!" while he was laying on the floor whining.  Lucy claimed her boots didn't fit and to prove it, dragged herself around on the floor because she "could NOT walk in those boots!" 

Finally we got out the door and in the car. I handed the kids each half a cereal bar to eat on the way (we had decided that Tuesday could be 'snack in the car day' to bring cheer to such a rotten day) and Lucy claimed hers was smushy and threw it on the floor. Coen handed his back to me saying he couldn't eat it when Lucy called it smushy because it made him lose his appetite.

I kissed both my children goodbye and then when I kissed Tad he said, "My condolences to Tuesday." 

And off they went.  But tomorrow is Wednesdays and Wednesdays are much better than Tuesdays.
                           I hope yours is more enjoyable!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tonight's thoughts: My 8 year old is already a teenager and my daughter ate a variety of sauces for dinner.

Coen is in to the Beatles right now.  WAY into the Beatles. He carries around his Yellow Submarine book and asks Tad to hook up the ipod at the dinner table, outside, wherever Coen happens to be, so he can listen to Paul, John, George and Ringo. He likes to guess who's singing.

He also likes to round up his neighborhood friends and have them sit with him directly in front of the ipod, pointing out the funny parts of the songs or letting them know who is singing which particular verse.  Today, he and our next-door neighbor, Esteban, put on sunglasses and sat in chairs, listening, bobbing their heads in time to the music.

Coen & Esteban (8 year old teenagers, rocking out) and Lucy--hitting a tree with a stick.
After the Beatles freak out, hit a tree with a stick party, we all came in for dinner.  I made chicken veggie curry for Tad and I.  The kids had some chicken as well and rice and salad.  Lucy and Coen brought out a variety of dipping sauces for all three of these portions of their meal--honey, sweet baby ray's BBQ sauce, french dressing, and raspberry vinaigrette...not to mention croutons. (Which Coen kept calling "crunkles")  Each and every one of those sauces was employed and I have reason to believe that was pretty much all Lucy ate for dinner. 

The Beatles sang us through dinner and ironically, Mean Mr. Mustard ended our night, just before it was time to dip our saucy children in the bath.

Mean Mister Mustard sleeps in the park
Shaves in the dark trying to save paper
Sleeps in a hole in the road
Saving up to buy some clothes
Keeps a ten MARK LOAD up his nose
Such a mean old man
Such a mean old man

His sister Pam works in a shop

She never stops, she's a go-getter
Takes him out to look at the queen
Only place that he's ever been
Always shouts out something obscene
Such a dirty old man
Such a dirty old man

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Good Grief

It is 7:40 a.m.  It is nothing short of a miracle that I have woken up, on my own--no alarm clock, no child yelling "Mama?!!" or "Is it morning?!" down the stairs (Coen and Lucy's wake-up calls respectively).  I can't even remember the last time I woke up without something or someone waking me...

I can hear my children on the baby monitor we still use, whispering together in Lucy's room.

Not too long after this, I hear them at the top of the steps. "Mommy!", they both yell.

Tad and I let our kids watch TV on the weekend mornings.  This morning they have chosen to watch "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown". 

My favorite part in the show is when Snoopy, who is pretending to be the WWI flying ace, is leaning on Schroeder's piano, alternately happily dancing and sobbing, depending on the music.  At one of the sad parts, Snoopy is crying and suddenly accidentally howls.  After this, he covers his face and looks around embarrassed, hoping no one has seen this lapse into his true canine self. 

I guess we're all a little embarrassed, when we accidentally lapse into the more animal parts of ourselves.  Friday night, we took the kids to a night time Halloween event that went too late for our Lucy.   We were heading for the shuttle bus that would take us home, and I made the mistake of rushing her. Not listening to her polite ask to put her mask on that she'd just made.  I was stressed out and worried about when the bus was leaving, so I said no.  She had a large tantrum, in line for the bus, nearly two hours past her bedtime. I felt like both she and I were out of control. She was screaming, and crying and throwing herself on the ground.  People all around looked on.  I'm sure they were thinking 'boy, I'm sure glad its not me' or 'I know what that's like' But in my world, with my flailing daughter and being near tears myself, all I could imagine was that people were thinking what a out of control child and a terrible mother we were.  I felt like I too could throw myself on the ground and howl.

But I got my over tired daughter home, and rocked her until she was calm and got her into her pajamas and somehow even managed to read her a bedtime story and sing her a lullaby. I think she was sleeping before I left the room.

I guess sometimes we all do it.  Make errors in judgement, keeping a kid up too late or pushing everyone past their limits.  Most of us who have children have been somewhere public, our child having lost all sense of calm, screaming and tantruming for the whole world to see...  But today, we are all okay again, sleeping in and spending our Sunday doing mostly nothing.

For your amusement, here is the link to that scene. The part where Snoopy howls and then is embarrassed is towards the end.

My favorite scene in the Great Pumpkin

Good Grief!

Friday, October 14, 2011

There's a lot of gold in my life right now

And I don't mean the precious metal!

Tad's Brewers Playoffs Suit Coat which he wears to all post-season games...and also matches our house.

Game one of this series on TV, with Gold-Framed windows

We are having lots of work done on our house, including scraping and painting of the outside.  Tad and I had debated about whether to leave our house blue trimmed or change the color.  Tad deferred to me, as I had a strong opinion about changing the color to something brown with a gold undertone to bring out the flecks of color in the roof tile we chose for our new roof. 

Yeah, so I chose this "Caramel Corn" color which was brown, to my eye with a hint of gold. Lovely.  I guess you are supposed to buy samples first though and see how they look.  Yeah. I didn't do that. When the painters started on our garage, Tad called me into the kitchen. "Alie." he said. "Come look out the window and tell me if this is the color you wanted."  I looked.  "Ummmm..."  It wasn't, but I thought, well maybe it'll look different when it dries.  Or maybe that WAS the color I chose and it looked different on the house.  But at any rate, the last thing I wanted to do was tell the painters to start anything over.  So I ignored it and figured it would look better as more went on.  Coen ran into the kitchen, yelling, "Lucy! We're going to have a yellow house!"

Everytime I pull up to my house now I'm shocked.  Sheesh.  It's frickin' gold!  And then on top of it we have some of the inside doors and windows still blue.  It looks like we are freak Brewer fans who have painted our house blue and gold for the playoffs.  All because I don't want to make our painters (who are giving us a great deal) work harder than they already are.  At least my house matches the autumn leaves.  Maybe in summer I'll throw some astro-turf on the porch. Really spruce it up.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A very interesting goal

When I embark upon a working relationship with a young person with a disability in my job, one thing we have to do is create a goal.  The young person must write/make up their own goal and sign off on it.  When I enter this information into our data base at work, I must type, VERBATIM what he or she has written as the matter what the typo's, errors, and the like might be.

I am working with a group of teenagers right now to whom I am giving a class on healthy relationships.  The group decided that they would make a goal as a class and it was: "I will learn about having good healthy relationships".  But one of the youth in the class, must have had trouble copying down what was on the board.  Here is what her goal is:

I will leam about heating good heathing releasinges.

I really enjoyed that one.  I better go. I have to find out what a heathing releasinge is!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Villainous Hair Face

Well, I got in the shower this morning and saw that it had happened.  The Villainous Hair Face has struck again!!!

Who is this villain, you might ask? Well any of you female readers who happen to reside with a male might find that at times the male with whom you reside, chooses to use YOUR razor. It is my strong opinion that women's razors are NOT made for men's facial hair.   Now, long ago, when I was first dating Tad, is when the Villainous Hair Face made his first appearance.

Tad would sleep over and lacking all of his toiletries, would sometimes use my razor to shave his face.  Once I realized this was happening, I burst into the kitchen, brandishing my damaged razor and proceeded to rail on Tad for this terrible misdeed.  But I was so mad and flustered that I messed up my words.  So this is what I said, in my tirade:

"You can't use MY razor for your HAIR face!  Hair face is rougher than leg hair! Leg hair is soft and Hair FACE is rough and your hair face is wrecking my razor!!" 

After I had finished ranting, I noticed that Tad had a bemused grin on his face.

"WHAT?!" I demanded.

"Hair face." He said simply.

And then of course I realized that I'd been saying hair face instead of face hair the whole time and could hardly be taken seriously.

From then on, whenever Tad's razor was no longer usable or he used my razor for some reason, we said, in our household, that the Villainous Hair Face had struck.  I like to imagine him as a real villain.  As if my husband somehow disappears and is replaced by a mustachioed, evilly laughing bad guy who grabs my delicate pink razor and shaves off all his facial hair, after rubbing his hands together mischievously.

Ah, that Villainous Hair Face.  I shall go to Target and buy a new men's Gillette so that he shall not strike again anytime soon!

My depiction of the Villainous Hair Face

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Sweet Sixteen Story

As many of you know, I work with youth with disabilities as part of my job.  Today is the sixteenth birthday of an amazingly strong, sweet, kind spirited young woman who is starting her life in high school.  Her name is Erica. 

When I read that it was her birthday, I was reminded of my own sixteenth birthday.  I thought I'd share a small story:

Thressa and me, circa 1991, both of us sixteen.

I was very slow to be interested in boys or romantic relationships at all and I was kind of a weird girl (can you imagine?! :) so not a lot of boys were interested in me anyway.  SO, I was sixteen years old and I had never had a kiss yet.  Well, there is a famous phrase, which I'm sure you've heard: "Sweet sixteen and never been kissed".  Well of course its just a phrase.  But I was sixteen and had never been kissed; it was a coincidence.  Anyway, I was hanging out at my best friend Thressa's house on the day of my 16th and her dad said to me, "Oh! It's your birthday! Sweet sixteen and never been kissed!"

Now, I had not told very many people this fact about me because I found it kind of embarrassing. But of course who else knows such a thing about a person than a person's best friend.  But when Thressa's dad said that--just as a phrase mind you, Thressa, (who apparently did not know it was just a phrase), yelled out "How did you KNOW?!!!"

I was mortified.  Her dad started laughing and I covered my face with my hands. "Oh Thressa!" I said mournfully, "It's just a PHRASE!"  Well, she couldn't stop laughing!

So, happy Birthday to Erica and for your reading pleasure, below is the link to Erica's story on 

Erica's story

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The elusive leaf pile

Oh fall and all the colorful crunching leaves on the ground.  There is nothing more enticing than a freshly mounded up pile of leaves.  Unless you are Coen. And you are trying to see how high your leaf pile can get without disturbance.  The past few days, we've been playing out in the yard and Coen has a near coronary whenever anyone goes near his leaf pile.  Takes a LEAF from his leaf pile.  "Get away from my leaf pile!!!" He'll scream in terror, "Please?" He'll add at the end, catching my eye.  Or he'll try another tactic. "Ohh, Lucy! Look at that other leaf pile! You should go and check THAT one out!" Of course, his sister, having learned the dreadful art of sibling antagonism from none other than big brother himself, will go over to his leaf pile, a look on her face, that mirrors his own at times like these, and tap the top of it with yellow plastic rake.  "Don't!" He'll shriek.

I am not sure whether to police things such as this or not. I mean for heaven's sake, its a LEAF pile! It's meant for little children to jump in. And then for public works to haul it away when it's in a cold wet lump on the side of the road.  

And YESTERDAY, a neighbor parked on the side of our house and their dog jumped out and immediately relieved himself in Coen's leaf pile. I didn't dare tell him.  Can you imagine!?

Today, however, Coen opened his leaf pile to the public and the whole neighborhood jumped in it, somersaulted through it, threw its leaves into the air, covered each other in it and sat in its crispy loveliness.  It was the stuff of childhood memories.  

Oh.  I didn't tell any of them about the dog pee either.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Vegetables--Villanous and Vile or Verdure and Varigated Vivers

Sorry, I was having fun with V words.  But today's post is indeed about vegetables.

When I was a child, I remember sitting at the dinner table pushing around my green bean casserole.  My mom would say, "You just have to eat THREE beans". And though they were covered in cream of mushroom soup and fried onions and you could probably barely taste anything resembling a vegetable, I had to seriously GAG them down.  I did! I gagged after each bean and I remember the looks on my parents' faces.  'Come ON', they had to be thinking, 'they are not that bad'. 

Today, I believe I have the same look on my face when my daughter will not eat a THING resembling a fruit or vegetable unless it is in sauce or smoothie form.  I make a LOT of smoothies at my house.  I will admit, however, she did taste broccoli.  She even ate it.  But she is so picky, most times she won't even try things.  This summer, I presented her with strawberries, bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe...all to no avail. I put them on a stick and called them a fruit kabob. I arranged them on her plate in a smiley face. I stacked them in to pyramids, towers and rows.  It wasn't until the attempt at a watermelon/honeydew checkerboard that I realized I had perhaps been working too hard.  She wouldn't even lick these fruits.  "Just LICK it!" I would say, my voice full of angst.  "I KNOW you'll lick it and then you'll LIKE it." "No." she'd insist and tightly close her lips. 

This morning, my son Coen, (who eats anything! Anything! The kid eats spinach, sushi...he'll try anything I ask him to try.) he was eating grapefruit this morning that I'd halved and cut into sections and presented him in a lovely glass bowl with a serrated spoon.  He was eating and suddenly spit out a chuck and handed the pulpy wet mass to me (I love how as a mother I am constantly being handed chewed things, spit out gum, and food that has been tried and rejected, wet with saliva and this is just an acceptable thing!)  his eyes filling with tears. "Oh no! Mommy!" He said, "That one was CONNECTED!"  


Apparently it was still partially connected to the rind and though the grapefruit tastes good to him, the rind is gross.  Or it feels gross.   This got me thinking.  When my beans, bathed in a soupy, salty casserole bath made me gag, it was not because of the taste. Who can taste beans in a green bean casserole?!! It was because of their texture.  I'm a grown-up now so I'm over the texture thing of vegetables for the most part.  But I get it. And I suppose maybe Lucy doesn't like (or thinks she doesn't like) berries, melons and the like because of their texture as well.  Drinkables and spoonables are fine.  And actually, she'll even eat an apple.  So I suppose I can rest assured that she will not someday be employed and graduated from college, still refusing to even touch a grape.  Eventually.

We all eat our fruits and vegetables eventually, maybe not our recommended servings, but we eat 'em. And we like 'em. Except overripe bananas. Oh and mealy apples. GAG!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Brewers post-season to root or not to root.

I love baseball. And I love the post-season excitement.  But I do not love spending lots of money on something such as a baseball game ticket, nor do I love the absence of Tad on the weekends.  Yet, here it is these four things together that equal--my own Milwaukee Brewers.

Tad has been a baseball and a Brewers fan all his life. So naturally  if the Brewers are in the playoffs, my husband needs to be there.  That is an indubitable fact.  But there I was, rooting (just in a small way) for the Brewers not to make the playoffs because of the money spent and time as a solo parent.

But they made it and actually I was pretty excited.  And Tad went to the games both days last weekend and my Brewer Widowhood was actually quite an enjoyable time with the children. We went to my sister's. We went to a party and stayed out past bedtime.  We went apple picking. We had friends over to play.  We had a great time. 

So the Brewers play in Arizona tonight and they just better WIN!  Tonight, Rooting for the Brewers means rooting for Tad to be home with me on Friday night.  And not at Miller Park for a game.  And if they do lose, then it means on Friday half of me rooting for them to win for the excitement. And half of me rooting for them to lose so there are no more playoffs problems.

It is indeed a difficult thing.  And Brewers, my selfish heart is with you when it comes down to it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sometimes a freak out seems in order

 See this picture?  This is a real life interpretation of my kids at many points in the day.  See Coen? He's hugging his sister. Nice, right?  Wrong. Look again. See the menacing look in his eyes?  He's TRYING to antagonize her.  I know! I have a little sister. I used to do it too.
And Lucy?  See Lucy? Is she saying "Coen. Please do not do that. I don't want to be hugged." No sirree.  She is screaming her face off.
And so it goes in my house, back and forth, forth and back.

I am quite sure those of you readers who are also parenting, know exactly what I'm talking about. 

Anyway, so I think I have told you in an earlier blog, that I am working right now on self-improvement. Becoming a calmer, more peaceful mother...and person in general.

I am realizing, even in moments like the above photo. Or moments when I know Coen worked really hard on a paper airplane and his sister rips it and he starts sobbing and so to help him feel better, I get him working on another airplane and then his sister starts sobbing because I'm not look-it-ing at something she wants me to look-it at. And so to appease her I find that she got a birthday invitation in the mail and I told her about it and then her brother starts sobbing again because he isn't invited to any birthdays and why is she?! 

So those are the moments when its hardest to take a breath and be calm and peaceful. But isn't it funny? That's when my kids need it the most.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

a very odd story

My children love for me to tell them stories.  Tonight, they were in the bath together and Coen said, "Tell us a story, mom?"  So I said, "What should it be about?" and they both said "A scary story!" and I said, "No, scary stories." They both said (again in unison) "Why?"  "Because", I said, "if I tell you a scary story then later, I'll have you guys calling 'mommy! I'm thinking of something I don't want to think about!' and I'll have to keep coming up the steps over and over because I told you a scary story."  They seemed to understand. "Tell us a story, though, Mommy." Coen said.  "Okay." I said. "Each of you tell me two things that should be in the story."  "A mouse!" said Lucy.  "What else?" "A family of mice!" She said in excitement.  "Okay", I said. "Coen?"  Coen thought.  "Tron...and Battle Droids."

And so began the story of the Tron people who all lived together in a castle.  In their castle was a tiny hole and in that hole lived a family of mice (I have never seen Tron, so I have no idea what it's about, but I'm winging it here).  Well, the Tron people all thought that mice were pests so they were planning on getting rid of theirs. But first they had to go battle their mortal enemies--The Battle Droids!"  Once they got to the battle, they realized they could never win. They were outnumbered. But suddenly the mice appeared ( having followed them) and they tickled the battle droids' ankles and one by one, they fell down until there were so few of them compared to the Tron people, they retreated in fear!  After that the Tron people brought the mice home and let them live with them and gave them cheese and bread forever and ever.

The end.

They seemed quite satisfied with my tale.  Also, I went the whole night (after being alone with them for most of yesterday and today) without losing my cool at ALL!  I'm proud.  Uh. oh. I hear Lucy on the monitor saying, "The shadows are too scary..." in her room. Better go take care of it! Good night. Go Brewers.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I take pictures of myself for a hobby!!!

I take a lot of pictures of myself.  I think its really funny. But it turns out a lot better when someone else takes the picture.  Here's a picture I took of myself with a brewers logo painted on my face. 

Don't I look like a turtle?

Here's a better one that my friend Jenny took.

 That's better

But, see, my friends were laughing at me because I tried several times to take a good one and I wouldn't let any one else take it until finally Jenny insisted.

That's when I realized, I do that all the time.  I love taking pictures of myself.  See for yourself!
In this one, I am hugging a tree, on a nature walk with my parents:

And here's an aerial view!

I was at the beach with my family.  I think, in most of the above, I was trying to make the people around me laugh.  But this one here, this next one. I'm just on a walk by myself!

What a weirdo!  There are tons more...those were just on my phone. But most of the others you'll find on the phones of my loved ones.  One of my favorite things to do is to take the phone of a friend or family member when they're not looking and take a picture of myself making a variation of the above faces I'm making. Then save it as their screen saver. 

When I have enough time, I give myself a special ring tone.