Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This is Halloween

We are holding our first Halloween party this year!

I expect it will be very different from every other get together we host. I am expecting the same people that usually come over and who we celebrate with. Maybe a few new ones (apparently they like to RSVP at the last minute?).

One main difference is that *I* am dressing up. Yes me. And AB too. I waffled on this. Waffled a lot. I thought about being a witch - easy enough and a black dress is always flattering. Then Leif started selecting costumes for me (Boba Fett anyone?). AB got in the mix too (Slave Princess Leia... thanks for at least the vote of confidence honey). Skadi, sigh, which makes me a touch guilty, thinks I should be a purple witch.

What it finally came down to is that some wee little part of me has always loved Princess Leia. Leif loves Princess Leia. My husband likes her too. I was never Princess Leia as a little girl... nope, I was Gene Simmons instead.

And then I got to thinking that this may be my one and only chance to go as something that matches my son (who is Captain Rex the Clone Trooper). And Leif is digging that thought big time. Leif match mommy? What a great idea! He picked out the Ventress costume for me, but I had fear about pulling it off. We settled on Princess Leia.

AB soon jumped on board and ordered a Jedi robe. And Skadi will likely be a bug. (The witch costume has been nixed and should never return to her sight.)

Our party will have a number of firsts... AB and I in costume. My dad is visiting. And then there is the food.

Yep, you see right. Mummy hot dogs. Hot dogs wrapped in Pillsbury crescent roll strips. Not exactly the fare you might expect to eat upon showing up at my house!

Add to the list cocktail dog spiders (also using Pillsbury crescent roll strips). Witches purses (ok, those will be yummy, though not terribly gourmet). Chicken wings. Sandies that look like witches. (Yes I totally could make sugar cookies... or not - hey take a look at my schedule between now and the party!)

You get the idea. Things that kids will not only eat, but find cool. (Hopefully.)

I guess my reason in posting this is almost a sort of warning to the friends who are attending... don't expect fancy! An apology to the parents for all the mass produced, but very fun, stuff that their kids will eat. And a declaration to the effect of let's just all have fun and forget about calories, high fructose corn syrup, etc. And I should also say that even though my son knows all the words to, and will ask repeatedly for "This is Halloween"... he has not seen "The Nightmare before Christmas". Though it is my favorite Halloween movie and I have been so tempted.

What you get in return? A night with friends. Worn out kids at the end of the night.

And maybe most importantly, one more wear of that Halloween costume!

Have a Happy Halloween!

The purge urge

I don't think I am a packrat. Or I tell myself I am not.

My grandmother, she is a packrat.

My mom is not.

I think I fall somewhere in between the two. I keep a big plastic bin in each of the kids' closet and I put special things in there. Their class pictures, copies of their school pictures, milestone momentos (first name printed for the first time, first shoes, going home outfits...). I toss things in on a not terribly regular basis.

The other day my husband commented that we needed more book shelves. We kind of do. But his idea is to LINE the office.

Umm what? So that all our creased back, mass market books are on exhibit to everyone?

I like having SOME books out. I have a good sized stack that is unread, I want those out. We have a few hardbacks that are nice to display. I have a few that mean something to me (like Hans Blix's book with a nice sentiment to me and his autograph in the front). My favorite books are up there and so are AB's.

But every single book I have ever read? Please don't make me put them out. I could use more bookshelfs for stuff... not books. Not to mention that I want to impart some sense of style into our home and lining one wall with cheap bookshelfs is not my way to achieve that. Sorry honey.

We have been hauling boxes from storage and unpacking them.

You might guess that a recent load was boxes upon boxes of books. I actually started making a stack of books to get rid of through either exchange at the used book store or donating to Goodwill.

It hasn't stopped there.

I wore a pair of shoes to work the other day that I have owned for about a year. They are cute, but kill my feet. I avoid wearing them because they hurt. This has prompted me to put a box in my closet and to start putting stuff in the box for Goodwill.

AB came home the other day with tales of a coworkers highly successful garage sale. That might work too.

The next goal is to put a box in every room of the house, particularly as I unpack boxes. Stuff that doesn't work, we don't like, doesn't have a function? Goes in the box. Those lamps with no lampshades? In the box. Ancient camera equipment? Box. Books that were bad the first time around? See that box over there?

Then the boxes, once full. (Or mostly full.) They will go away in search of new homes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The professor pedestal

I can never remember what I have and haven't blogged about. I did a quick search and it doesn't appear that I hit on this topic... and it should have been fairly recent.

A few months ago or so I was walking down the hall at work when smack in front of me was a face from a different time and place. I stopped her.

"Are you Mary Blah-Blah-Blah-Blah?" I asked her (she has one of those many syllabic last names that I finally mastered after months of practice).

She looks at me blankly in her very mousey all too familiar way and says yes.

"I was in your Inorganic Chemistry class at CU back about 1993 to 1994," I told her.

"Wow," she replied, "that was a long time ago."

"Yes," I said trying not to say something snarky about making me feel old, "I am sure you don't remember me, it has been awhile."

She admitted that she didn't remind me and then asked what I was doing here. I told her I went on from CU (after she gave me a sucky grade in Inorganic Chemistry) to get my Ph.D. in physical chemistry and then came here for a post-doc and was hired on permanently. She asked me what I did here and I did my best to impress her. Then I asked her what she did - "oh, I am a contractor, just trying to get hired on permanently".

You know how your college professors are up on a type of pedestal? How you admired them from afar... ok, I went to a college where classes of 250-500 people weren't terribly uncommon. They stood up there all knowledgeable and experienced-like and you couldn't help but put them on a pedestal. Even the bad ones.

Or in Mary's case... the really, really bad ones.

Our Inorganic class for majors was six students taught by mousey Mary Blah-Blah-Blah-Blah and much complained about by myself and the five other students. It was an optional class for majors and wow did it suck. Wow.

We learned how to make slime.

I learned how volatile ether is while working in a hood with another girl. She was using a flame and I was using ether. And the entire hood flashed. (Our TA should have known better.)

I remember my final project was to synthesize something and one of my final characterization steps was Phosphorus NMR. Mary Blah-Blah-Blah-Blah asked me why in the world I would use P-NMR to see if my substance had formed. I remember looking at her wondering if this was a joke? "Umm, because if my substance goes from signal to no signal than I will have functionalized the protons next to the P," I remember saying. And she seemed surprised and said, "yes, that would work!"

Of course she had to run it for me because I didn't have access to a P-NMR as a student. She... ahem... was supposed to run it for me.

Still I held my professor up on a pedestal until recently.

That pedestal? Crumbled.

It cracked when she told me she was trying to get hired on permanently. Then it collapsed under its own weight when she started asking me for work.

And I remembered her as a professor. And I remembered how she never ran my sample from my final project. And I remembered how she gave two B's and four C's out to her class of six senior chemistry majors. (I didn't get a B.)

And work?

Really sorry Mary Blah-Blah-Blah-Blah. I am funding myself and I am able to keep my project teams funded through continuing resolution this year, which is a first EVER. (Anyone notice I haven't whined about continuing res this year??) But no, I will not be picking you up on my projects.

And maybe I derive just a wee bit of pleasure from this.

Skadi update

One of the hardest times with many kids is that Terrible Two’s stage. Leif would be the exception to that, the two’s was a fabulous time with him. He just hit the “terrible” time later than normal… he hit the “Terrible Threes”.

We are officially half way through Skadi’s Terrible Twos. She can be terribly trying sometimes. But the flipside to this is that for all the rotten-ness, there is the complete opposite to balance it out i.e., the incredible joy and amazement she brings. Not to mention the giggles.

A Potato?

One of Skadi’s favorite things to do is to style my hair. Of course she usually likes to redo it after I just get done styling it. On those days she asks to do my hair when I am not expected to show up somewhere looking halfway decent I let her at it.

This is a genetic trait… I remember styling my mom’s hair most evenings while sitting in front of the TV. My sister and I would argue over who got to sit behind her on the couch with a brush and rubber bands and barrettes in hand. Hopefully the whole spitting in the hair part (since my mom wouldn’t allow us to use water) is not genetic and Skadi will not read this until she is old enough to know better.

She is a little brutal with the brush. It tends to make a “whack” sound as it connects with my head at the roots. I spend a lot of time saying, “ouch, gentle please!” Oh and should you think that AB escapes this torture because I had very little hair… think again.

Skadi: “Would you like a high pony so you can dance?”

Me: (A high pony tail is a requirement for dancing?) “Umm, ok.”

Skadi: (Pulling my hair all over the place.) “Oh, you have a potato in your hair.”

Me: “A potato?? Is that what you said?”

Skadi: “Yes, you have a potato in your hair.” (She says this so matter of factly.)

Me: “Where Skadi?”

Skadi: (Major pinch to the ear.) “Here.”

Me: “That’s my EAR!”

Skadi: (Giggles.) “Oh, okay!”


Miss Opinionated

Skadi: “Mommy, I no yike this song!”

Me: (Ok, that’s fine, so Angel Eyes is a touch slow and isn’t her style, I hit to skip song button.)

Skadi: “Mommy, I no yike this song either!”

Me: “What, you don’t like John Hiatt?”

Skadi: “I no yike John Hiatt mommy.”

Me: “Ok.” (Searching the car for anything but that one cd that has been in the cd player nonstop
for a few years because the kids like it. Ah ha! Queen! I pop that in.)

Skadi: “Mommy, I no yike this icky song.”

Me: “Skadi, EVERYONE likes ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.”


Me: “Fine.” (I hit the XM Radio button.)

Skadi: “Mommy! I YIKE this song! Crocodiles!”

Me: “Noted, you DO like Elton John’s Crocodile Rock.”


Uses for boxes

While I am on the Skadi topic I should note that a few weeks ago? Found the binkies. Three of them, stuck in a box in Leif’s closet. You may remember that she had thrown them away herself… or at least I could have sworn she did. Apparently she threw one away and put the others in safe keeping? They hit the trash before she could see them.

Oh and speaking of boxes…

Me: “Skadi do you want Tinkerbell panties?”

Skadi: (Playing and ignoring me.)

Me: “Ok, here’s your Tinkerbell panties, please get dressed now.” (Freaky thing that Skadi and Leif are about at the same ability and willingness to get themselves dressed. Oh wait… wrong. Leif still insists regularly that I dress him, not that it happens. Skadi refuses help.)

Skadi: “NO MOMMY!” (Picking up Tinkerbell panties.) “I NO WANT TINKERBELL PANTIES!”
And with that she walks to her closet, pulls out a shoe box, opens it up and puts the panties in the shoebox and puts the shoebox in the hallway and walks back in her room and resumes playing.

Me: “Ok then, I guess YOU get to pick out your panties.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The makings of an entrepreneur?

Me: "Leif, you still have money left over from Seattle, we should decide what you are going to do with it. Is there anything you still want?" (Fully expecting him to cite the coveted Batman Lego Wii game.)

Leif: (Thinking for a minute.) "Actually I think I want to buy another piggy bank."

Me: "Another piggy bank? Why, don't you like yours?"

Leif: "I want another piggy bank so I can get more money! I saved enough money for the trip to Seattle, if I have two piggy banks I can save enough money to go to Australia!"

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Skadi speak - pronouns

I am raising a feminist.

Everything Skadi refers to is a "her". Her dolls are naturally "her". The dogs are (rightfully) "hers". The cat (wrongfully) is a "her".

Even Leif is a "her". Any unknown person is a "her" as well.

Taking it to another level...

If there is a couple on TV, like say Giselle (the princess) and Edward ("that guy") on Enchanted - it is "that's her daddy". Princesses looking for true love? They are looking for "hers daddy" and it is very disturbing in this path to finding their true loves, I mean "her daddy" because Skadi will lament (with her hands open and face up), "hers can't find her daddy!"

I think I need to ask her about AB and I...

A chilly weekend

It was the perfect weekend to stay in and get stuff done. And that was exactly what we did!

After being gone last week there was a ton of laundry to do, lots of Ikea goodies to assemble and set up somewhere and lots of food to catch up on preparing.

There isn't much need, in this day and age, to "put up food for the winter". But it seems to be a fall ritual that AB and I have fallen into. Every fall we make buckets of spaghetti sauce. The goal is to get about 50 cups prepared and frozen, which gives us about enough for a dinner use every other week. There are a ton of varieties of spaghetti sauce out there, some very inexpensive. So some people probably wonder why we would spend a weekend making spaghetti sauce?

Because it tastes so much better. And I know exactly what I put in it.

Green chili isn't so easy to find. But AB started making green chili every fall long before we even lived together. In fact, I remember his first batch when he lived in Spanish Towers in Boulder with his roommate. It was so freakin' hot.

And I think it gets hotter every year. And every year he swears to control it. And every year I sweat through it. And many unsuspecting green chili tasters have come to despise AB at his annual chili cook off at work.

This weekend was no exception. He swore he was going to make a "medium" and a "hot" version. There was nothing "medium" about the chili that resulted this evening.

I made a big pot of red chili on Saturday night. Mine isn't nearly so involved since this is one staple I make that is based off of cans.

Still on our list for this fall is our second batch of spaghetti sauce, pumpkin breads and chicken pot pies. Nectarine pies have been done, 20 cups of spaghetti sauce complete, a few GALLONS of green chili and a couple dinner servings of red chili.

This weekend has been one of my most productive weekends in a long time. I told AB that I look forward to being moved in and settled so that I don't feel as though I have to work on that every weekend. But he asked me if that would ever happen. Would I ever feel as though my house was decorated and each room complete?

Maybe, but I don't envision it happening terribly soon.

I jumped off course on my monthly tasks to address each room. September was to be the garage. And it has been, and still is. And because the garage isn't terribly fun, I haven't been a rallying force behind AB on this one.

I also had planned to paint Skadi's room. And I really would like to pick out colors in the next week and then maybe tackle that either next weekend or the weekend after that. Skadi is excited for it, she asks for her walls to be painted "pink, pink, pink, pink and blue" (the ceiling is the blue one). The time has just been short though. Still I would like to get to this sooner rather than later as things start amassing in her room.

This morning Leif (since he had lost Wii privileges) spent a good portion of the morning helping me put together our new dining room table. He is getting to that age where he can be a real help. And he even seemes to enjoy it. It took us about an hour and AB's assistance at one point to lift the table tops and flip the table over, but we did it.

The table came from Ikea and addresses me "need" for a table where I can seat more than 4 people. You never know what you are going to get from Ikea. Some stuff is super and some is utter crap. Must to my amazement, the table (despite not being my first choice in stain) is super. AB even likes it and I admitted that ignoring the price, it is probably nearly exactly what I would have aimed to buy had I had 5x this much to spend.

"No tablecloths," AB said. "I like the wood. I want one of those runner things too before you put anything in the middle, I don't want it getting scratched up."

Fully extended it would have to sit diagonal in our dining room. With the leaves it seats "10 people", though I suspect it is more like 12-14. I also bought a bench to go on one side instead of chairs. In fact, I haven't purchased chairs yet because for now I can seat 4 on the bench if need be (ok, four kids or four of my friends with skinny butts), three of anyone else. Then I can walk the four dining room chairs from the other table over. The matching Ikea chairs weren't terribly comfortable and emitted an air of cheapness that the table did not. I hope to buy some chairs that might dress it up a little and blend the style of the table with the rest of the furniture in the front two rooms.

Piles of laundrey done, table put together, a few boxes unpacked, Skadi's room organized and summer clothes put away, food made... it was an eventful weekend!

Walked right into that one

In the car on the way home Leif said something funny.

Me: "I sure am lucky that God gave me you instead of some other kid who isn't nearly so funny!"

Leif: (Silent for a little while.) "God gave me to you?"

Me: "Yes, I believe you were picked just for daddy and me."

Leif: "God put me in your belly? How did God put me in your belly?"

Me: "Umm, well" (Stammering and deciding to ignore the later question.) "Yes and no."

Leif: "Then you lied?"

Me: "No, I didn't lie. I believe that God picked you to be in my belly and to be my little boy."

Leif: "Oh ok. I don't remember being with God. How long was I with God?"

Me: "I don't know." (Wow, this is tough.)

Leif: "Where was I hanging out with God? In the sky?"

Me: "In God's kingdom."

Leif: "So I went from God's kingdom, then he decides I move from his kingdom to your belly and then I come out at the hospital?"

Me: "Umm, yep, I think so."


Me: "I had the weirdest conversation with Leif today."

AB: "What was it?"

Me: (Repeat the above first two lines.)

AB: "You walked right into that one and I cannot help you at all!!"

Thursday, October 08, 2009

One of the many reasons I love my son

Leif woke up this morning and there was some change in his bed. I am sure it fell out of AB’s pocket the night before when he read stories. Leif was not so convinced.

Leif: “MOMMY! The tooth fairy came!!”

Me: “What?” (It was still early.)

Leif: “The tooth fairy came, see!” (He holds up the 42 cents he found in his bed.)

Me: “No, I don’t think so. You didn’t lose any teeth yet, I bet it fell out of daddy's pocket last night when he read to you.”

Leif: “Check mom! Look in my mouth and see if I lost any teeth last night!”

Me: “Nope, I don’t see any missing.”

Leif: “Oh, I bet she just decided to check in and prepare me.”

Me: “That’s probably it.”

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Conversation with a Seattle Starbucks Barista

Me: "I would like two kids chocolate milks with ice and whip."

Barista: "Do you want a flavor in those?"

Me: "A flavor?" (Thinking this is unique, I have never been asked about a flavor on chocolate milks before... would Leif drink a raspberry chocolate milk?)

Barista: (Looking at me like I am an idiot.) "Yes, a flavor, do you want a flavor in those."

Me: "Nope, just chocolate milks please."

Barista: "Then yes, you do want a flavor." (Rolls her eyes.)

Me: "You mean chocolate counts as a flavor in chocolate milk?"

Barista: "Yes, it does. Otherwise it would just be milk." (She says as she picks up two hot cups.)

Me: "Chocolate milks please, not hot cocoa."

Barista: (Doesn't pay attention.)

AB: "Why is she starting hot drinks?"

Me: (Shrugs.) "I have no idea."

Barista: (Rings up hot cocoas.)

Me: "If you are going to make those hot, would you make them 100 degrees please."

Barista: "Since it is a kids' drink we don't make them as hot."

Me: "I know that. I order a few a week during the winter, which is why I also know that my kids will whine if they aren't 100 degrees since you never listened to me the first time around when I said CHOCOLATE MILK WITH ICE!"

Barista: (Picks up the cups and writes a HUGE 100F on them and slams them to the counter. HUGE eye roll) "Anything else ma'am?"

Me: "A grande non-fat pumpkin spice please, two oatmeals with brown sugar only, a pumpkin loaf and a brewed coffee."

Any surprise that my latte was super heated, my oatmeals had everything BUT brown sugar? Of course how can you get back at me with pumpkin loaf and brewed coffee? Those were the only things I ordered that came as ordered.

I am a HUGE Starbucks fan. You kind of have to be in Washington state and especially given that we have a number of spots, even in our smallish town, where there are Starbucks in stores and freestanding on the same blocks. My kids know Starbucks and learned about Starbucks long before they ever learned about McDonalds.

Don't act like *I* am the stupid tourist who has no idea what I am ordering.

(Stepping off pedestal now.)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Or maybe this is my favorite...

This one was a complete accident. But so very perfect. Now I will go to bed.

My favorite

I didn't get a ton of great pictures this weekend. And so many of Leif have him with the cheese grin. But I did get this one and it's my favorite from the entire weekend I think. More later, but just this one for now because I am tired.