Sunday, December 13, 2009

Birthdays at School

Believe it or not, there were 4 birthdays in close proximity to one another in Elise's class this month. Four! So, we moms decided to do pizza and cupcakes in honor of all four, all at once. The girl whose mom made cupcakes was justifiably proud (they were delicious) so don't go trying to outdo her. Mostly because most school districts nowadays don't trust anyone to make food for their kids, and homemade anything is verboten. But very delicious. Pizza from Costco also hits the spot.

Why, Sharks? Why?!

Andy and I like to think we're very clever. We might be. We had a brilliant plan to take Elise to a Sharks game for her birthday. So, we picked a non-school night near the big day and bought tickets. The Sharks were hosting the Chicago Blackhawks, and it was going to be a big game.

It was big alright. Whatever you do, don't try to zoom in on the scoreboard in this picture-it will just make you sad. Unless you're the mean, spiteful type that likes to see a perfectly good hockey team go down in flames.

In spite of a truly abysmal showing by the Sharks, we all had a great time. One of the fans in front of us turned around at the end of the game and told Elise that she had been the best part of the whole game. Couldn't have said it better myself!

Thanksgiving with the Whites

For a second year in a row, our good friends Dani, Brad and Rista invited us to share Thanksgiving with them. The food and the company were wonderful, and it was a Thanksgiving in the grandest sense of the word. This year was hard because Dani's mom Trudy was not with us. We missed her.

I didn't manage very many pictures as we were all busy talking and laughing and eating, but here are some good ones of the girls!

The tradition of an olive on every finger, as begun at last year's dinner:

Our hostess "Olive Fingers" Rista. Note the beautiful feathered placecards-she made those and we kept ours they're so cute.

After dinner, while the grownups talked about boring stuff, the girls played with their new Three Muscateers Barbies while mostly ignoring Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving.

Hope your turkey day was as well stuffed with friends and good cheer as ours was!

Woefully Behind

It appears to be nearly a month since the last time I wrote anything here. Of course, not much happened. Like Thanksgiving, or our girl turning SIX. I blame it on the disorganization of my electronic life.

I was spending a lot of time on Facebook and then decided it was a waste. So I tried Twitter again for a little bit. That was dumb too. I like the longer format of blogs, but I don't think I've so much as looked at my reader feed in a month, so maybe I don't like blogs as much as I think I do. The long and the short of it is that the pressures of interacting with all of the different social media have proven too much. Very few emails are getting answered, phone calls returned, etc. Maybe I'm preparing to hibernate?

Regardless, there will be several entries immediately following that should bring all and sundry up to date on what we've been doing here!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yesterday was Monday

I'm pretty glad to see the other side of that one, all things considered.

We started off well, but things devolved when I went looking for the camera so I could take a picture of the awesome note Elise wrote for her teacher. It was really cute. I have no picture to show you. Why? Oh, our new camera, our shiny new camera, has gone missing. The theory, after a day and a half of turning the house topsy-turvy, is that it fell into the bin of newspapers to be recycled, and is on its way to a sorting facility. It would be a wonderful and stunning surprise to find the thing, but I'm not holding my breath. This whole thing is making me blue enough already.

Then, to add insult to injury, I discovered a dead hummingbird on our back step. It had clearly flown into the sliding glass door at top speed and broken its neck. Its little tongue was sticking out, and it was still warm when I found it. And leaving an alarmingly large puddle of blood for such a little thing. This morning, I spent a lot of time outside with Daisy, listening for the hummingbird who has sat in the tree near the garage and scolded us from the day we moved in. It was very quiet.

So, now that I've mourned the yuck that was Monday, I'm on to Tuesday (finally, at 2pm) and ready to get back at it.

***********MAJOR UPDATE***************

Wouldn't you know it, but I did put the camera in a special place to keep it safe. Finally found that place just now, and am a happy camper. Doubly so because there is a hummingbird busily screeching away in the back yard. I usually have a real problem with Wednesdays, but today may well change my mind...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Live, Mixed Martial Arts

After a lot of roughhousing on the ice during tonight's Sharks/Blues game, Randy and Drew made the best ever announcement of an upcoming sporting event at the Pavilion.

"Live, mixed martial arts return to the HP Pavilion," said Randy.

Hahahahaa, Andy and I said to one another. We're looking forward to the next home stand. Hahahaha. Oh wait-you mean actual mixed martial arts, not hockey? Give the fans some notice, wouldja?

Oh, and if you haven't met the elements with TMBG yet, you should. We can't get that song out of our heads here. Science is real! At some point I will share the deep mathematical thinking their Here Come the 123s album inspired in Elise. Somebody remind me...

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Elise has been desperate to get to a Sharks game this season, and I "finally" obliged for the 7th home game of the season. (Man, they've been on the road a lot!) With Andy out of town most of the week, and two days off of school in the middle of the week besides, it seemed like the thing to do.

And was it ever! I love going to the Pavilion with Elise. She really gets into the roar of the crowd, the cheering, and the junk food. Now that I think of it, maybe we'll have to cut back on the junk food part of the experience. At any rate, we had some serious fun.

We started with a little pre-game show at home. Note how Elise is standing next to her new favorite player, #41 Jed Ortmeyer:

We also got a pic of her with Brody Brazil, but that was an accident and will not be posted publicly unless the guy stops acting like such a gung-ho nitwit during the broadcasts.

Moving on...

Game-wise, the pertinent facts are these:
The Sharks played the Nashville Predators, and whumped them 4-3 in what seemed a strangely lackluster and sloppy performance from where we were sitting. It was great to see Devin Setoguchi (#16) back on the ice after an injury. We got to see Greiss between the posts, and wow does he give some confidence.

Here is one happy kiddo before the start of the game:

No, honestly, she's overjoyed but getting sick of Mom trying to get a decent pic and would like me to put the camera down already so we can get all excited and start eating hot dogs.

Holy moly-I started this post a virtual lifetime ago, and now have completely lost my train of thought. Hmmmmm... I think I'll throw some pictures on this baby and call it a day. Go Sharks!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Daisy gets a second haircut

My oh my it was time for our girl to have a haircut and a thorough bathing. With all of that curly, wonderful fur on her feet, she was getting to be quite the mud sponge. Stinky, too.

I called up Nancy at Just 4 Paws, and she showed up right on time with plenty of compliments for our fuzzy puppy. I love her awesome trailer setup.

Everything went smoothly, and we now have a gorgeous, fluffy puppy. Behold!

And yes, that is the stick from a lollipop sticking out of Elise's mouth. Halloween candy will probably make her teeth fall out. Note how Elise also looks a little rummy. Slightly later bedtime on Monday, and she's feeling it by late afternoon. Luckily, she gets to go to bed early. Daisy is not so lucky. Apparently, training and grooming in one day are a lot for a dog...

Halloween at Home

This year, we had the fantastic good fortune to share the holiday with our good friends the Whites. It's their tradition to have soup for supper, and then head out on the town. We were invited, as were Geetha and her roommate Sarah. The girls whirled and twirled and played as the grownups chatted. Then, we sat down for an absolutely amazing dinner. I mean really amazing. Scrumptious. The part that was most amazing? Elise actually ATE SOUP. Heavenly!

The trick or treating was a stitch. The girls were so much more confident this year. It was hard to keep up with them. Luckily, we always knew just where they were from the chants of "Trick or Treat, Smell my feet, Give me something good to eat!"

Oh, and that sweater Elise is wearing? Grandma Char made that for Elise some time ago, and it happens to be perfect. With the sea critters on it, everyone thought it came as part of the costume.

Dancing with the magic palm fronds:

Yep, that dancing is hard work alright:

And here we have papa in his chef suit (and pneumonia that we didn't know he had) and mama in her vintage housewife duds:
Finally, after a long night of trick or treating, Elise enjoyed the fruits of her efforts with her daddy.

Halloween at School

It took me awhile, but I've finally got pictures from halloween stuck on this here computer machine so's I can share 'em.

Personally, I don't imagine that the kindergarteners would have been too excited to do much with the day if they hadn't been encouraged to come in constume, party, and parade. Me, I'd have been in some sort of sugar/excitement induced coma by noon, but as you can see here this did not appear to be the case for the brave mermaids, princesses, superheroes and vampires of Ms Mena's class.

Elise was a mermaid, as was her BFF. The kids were all so cute. First, we were treated to a wonderful singalong. Then, the classes took turns parading around to show off their lovely costumes.

Being wrangled by the flamingo in charge, Ms Mena.

The guy Elise will most likely marry someday, provided he stops playing so many rough games:

A mermaid and a bevvy of princesses take their seats and prepare to watch the parade:

Up next: Halloween at home and around the neighborhood!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blog? What blog?

Well, folks, Facebook has finally done it. Enough of the login, comment, "like", post options have broken that I'm giving up in disgust (at least for now). So hey, maybe I'll blog!

In about 10 minutes, I'll be heading to Elise's school to work in the library for two hours. Budget cuts only allow for a part time librarian, so you can imagine the kind of help she needs. Holy moly. It's a marvelous way for me to start the week, though. I love getting to know the kids and seeing them smile when I ask about what they're reading. I'm even getting in to shelving, but it's an uphill battle because of the backlog.

The other thing going on is that I'm trying to get another mobile grooming appointment for Daisy because the fur on her legs is getting so long that it soaks up an amazing amount of mud at the dog park and in the back yard. I'm getting tired of bathing her, and so is she. Mwahahahaha.

Happy Monday, folks!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shiny New Dining Chairs

What do we do here at Steingruebl World Enterprises when it's hot and miserable outside? Well, mostly we complain and get all grouchy with each other. But today we had a better idea!

A few months back, I bought upholstery fabric off eBay that ended up being about $7/yard after shipping and all. Our dining chairs have been looking scummy, and I figured I'd fix 'em. How scummy were they, you might ask? Oh let me show you.

And if that was not scary enough, here's the close up:

So, yeah, we needed a change.

Ta dah!

It's going to be really, really, really stinkin' hot this week. Really hot. I am not planning any other home makeovers, though. Unless someone has a cheap and easy to follow plan for installing your own central air conditioning...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who's that dog?

I have to admit, I love doing dog-related stuff. This one was a necessity, so I don't feel too badly about indulging. Daisy wasn't too matted, but she had some long, curly fur on her that needed the attention of a qualified professional.

Luckily for us, there is a mobile dog groomer in town! Wahoooo! This is a good thing as Daisy tends to get a little excited when there are other dogs around. (We keep reminding ourselves that we meet with the trainer next week.) So, today was Daisy's lucky day.

Here she is, trying to simultaneously lick Elise and pose for a picture:

That Daisy is fast -see how loooooong her fur looks when she's on the move?

And, here is a more reasonable "before" picture that really shows off the furriness with which she was so encumbered:

Isn't she just a gigantic fluffball? She looks more like a bear than a dog, really. Everyone thinks that she's a bigger girl than she actually is, given the extra 3 inches she had all around. The following picture was taken right around the time Paula (the groomer) mentioned that Daisy is a lot like a chia pet. She kinda is.

I love the clippers with an attached vacuum hose. Can I get one of those for our house so I can do Andy's hair inside without a huge mess? I'm glad Daisy got a bath in the truck (as well as the haircut) because ohmahgoodness that was an amazing amount of fur.

But look! Here is our Daisy in her natural environment-resting under the dining table. Note how well camouflaged she is here:

And finally, because every beautiful doog needs a pose outdoors too, I leave you with this picture of our freshly bathed Daisy:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Terrorism Today

Yup, it's September 11 again. I don't like this day, for a lot of reasons. The biggest one, though? It has given us the collective notion that violent acts of wanton destruction are the sole province of wacky religious fanatics. Specifically Islam based ones. Today is a good day to think fond thoughts toward your Muslim friends and remind yourself that people with brownish skin aren't universally out to get you. Really. Be friendly, give a hug, share some love. Please. And visit the nice people at WhyIslam while you're at it.

And now, I'd like to call attention to more recent terrorist attacks on US soil. The sick bastards calling themselves the "Earth Liberation Front" like to do all kinds of stupid, dangerous, destructive things. Their most recent attack came on September 4th, when they destroyed radio towers in the Seattle area. This wasn't front page news-it was buried somewhere in the backwaters of my local newspaper. Sure, nobody died this time. But these people are terrorists, and I denounce their actions. They are a disgrace to the environmental movement.

Let us also remember the terrorists who kill doctors and wage campaigns of harassment and constant threats against the doctors they don't manage to kill. Today is a good day to remember George Tiller and all of the other doctors and their families who are beset by evil, evil terrorists every day.

Finally, remember the victims of what's-his-name who killed people in Oklahoma City and that guy who sent bombs in the mail. Oh yeah, and that stupid anthrax thing. Terrorism is NEVER justified, no matter how "right" you are and how "wrong" your victims are. It is cowardly.

So yeah, those guys 8 years ago caught our attention. Let's use their stupidity to our advantage and claim it for what it is: a reminder that NO act of terrorism, whatever it is called, is acceptable or tolerated.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Exciting Developments!

I thought I could be good at updating this blog once the kiddo headed for kindergarten, but here we are, near the end of the 3rd week, and I haven't even posted first day pictures. I blame Facebook. It's easier to upload pictures there than here. Also, I have proof that more friends see stuff there than here so it's not just lazy-it's lazy and a shrewd use of resources!

Suffice it to say that school is going swimmingly and we are terribly proud of our kindergartener.

Also, we have a dog.

She came from the Humane Society-we got her on Sunday! Part cocker spaniel, part poodle. At least as far as anyone can tell. My suspicion is that she was bred as a "cockapoo" and was left un-spayed in case someone wanted to breed her. Daisy has some decent manners already, but is clearly out of practice on some of it. One of the moms from Elise's pre-K class has a highly recommended dog training business, and we are waiting to hear from her when she returns from vacation after Labor Day. In the mean time, we're doing our best with the stuff HSSV gave us to read. So far, we're making progress on leash pulling, aggression while on leash, and generally barking like a maniac at other dogs. Less progress has been made with crate training and separation anxiety. It is not going to take much work to help Daisy be the sweetest dog in the entire universe. (We say modestly)

So, there you have it! We're pretty excited around here. And yes, before anyone asks, we are still looking at getting a cat to complement the menagerie. I am insane. But very happy.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Long Time, No See

It's been so long since I posted anything here that I was not sure I still remembered how. If you're reading this, I have indeed found my way back and am not as foolish as I thought.

There is a lot of news around here so adequate reporting would take days and I love my loyal readers too much to do such a thing. I'm going to do an abriged version here for the moment, but please feel free to use the comments to request further information on a specific topic. With all of that spare time you have after you're done checking Facebook or Twitter or whatever.

1. We're heading for Chicago! Baby shower for our beloved Michele on the afternoon of Aug 15. We arrive the evening of the 12th and fly out on the 16th. Yes, it's stupidly short after an absence of 3 years, but school orientation is on the 10th and KINDERGARTEN starts on the 17th.

2. Elise is two weeks away from starting KINDERGARTEN. Our little punkin is officially school-aged now. Growing like a weed. Can't tell she lost her front teeth because they've grown back in already. Reads like a pro. Knows exactly what we're not saying when we spell words in front of her. Currently loves playing barbies and polly pockets with her BF Rista.

3. I just finished my 14th week of Weight Watchers, and would like to toot my own horn and mention the 18 pounds I no longer have on me. Kind of gross to think that I still have a little more than that to get rid of, but it is good to be off to such a great start. My number one tip? Sandwich Thins that are made by Orowheat. One point per nifty bun-like item, and it rocks. If it's not in your neighborhood grocery store, check Costco. Yum!

4. I am a sucker for small, fuzzy things. We have two foster kittens hanging out in the upstairs bathroom right now. They're both jet-black, and sweet as can be. A far cry from Mellie and Samantha. We've decided to call one Jane (after the character from Ursula LeGuin's Catwings books) and the other Hullabaloo. At some point, I'll get these little furballs photographed and shown here.

5. We've been enjoying time at the beach. I never knew I liked the beach until my friend Danielle showed me how to do it up right. She even helped get Elise to put her feet in the water! Hot days=time to hit the beach.

6. Andy is officially a published author! He and a friend/colleague wrote an article together which I happened to think was pretty doggone interesting.

7. My brother and my sister-in-law are back on this continent! And we were lucky enough to be the first stop on their return.

We approach our 3rd anniversary of living in California with no small amount of awe. When we arrived, we were a family with a toddler. We had hopes of a better career opportunity for Andy. I was recovering from the most painful of the 4 abdominal surgeries I'd had in just over 2 years. Never in our wildest dreams could we have anticipated we'd be where we are now. I can't seem to break the habit I formed when I was a kid of stopping in the middle of an adventure and exclaiming "Look how far we've come!" Isn't it fun? I'm pretty proud of us. And looking forward to the future!

On that happy note, I'd like to pass on this excellent clip Danielle shared with me:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Returned from Down Under

I am officially bakc from my combination work and pleasure trip down under. Though I got back on the 3rd, my bag didn't get back until the 5th. Alas, the wonders of modern travel.

I had a great time with the multiple portions of the trip including business and pleasure in Sydney and then just plain old fun in Auckland.

If you're interested, picture are here.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

This Week's Gems

As many faithful readers know, our Elise can be a bit of a smartypants. We continue to have no idea where she gets this. Really. Not a clue! But wow has she delivered some good lines this week. We're starting to feel a bit like the Tappet Brothers around here, what with the non-stop belly laughs. Enjoy!

Situation: Andy wants to fool Elise into coming downstairs, and says something ridiculous to entice her.
Elise: "No way, Dad. I know your tricks!"

Situation: We're out to eat at Quiznos to celebrate Elise's last day of preschool.
Andy: "So, tell me about school."
Elise: "Mmmm...It's delicious!"

Situation: Elise and I head to her new elementary school to drop off some paperwork, and meet the principal in the lobby. (Ms. Martinez is amazing, btw.) No real line here, but our confident five-and-almost-a-half year old struck up a conversation, challenged the principal to count to 100 by tens (she did very well) and gently suggested room for improvement in Ms. Martinez's joke telling skills.

Situation: Two very nice 4th grade boys stopped by the house to do some fundraising for the American Heart Association as part of the school's Jump Rope for Heart event. They were so sweet and funny and just generally the kind of kids I'm proud to call neighbors. I love the way every kid we've met from our school does such a wonderful and respectful job of of engaging Elise in conversation. We all discussed why they were raising money, and the deadly nature of heart disease. Elise has some new-found confidence in her understanding of death, and was eager to share her wisdom.

Elise: "Once someone is dead, they can't ever live again."
Boy #1 (looking stunned by the ignorance of little kids): "Of course they do! When they go up to heaven to be with Jesus."
Boy #2 watches shrewdly
Elise: "Oh now you're just making stuff up! What a silly story!"
Boy #2 watches with growing excitement to see what happens next
Boy #1 & Elise simultaneously decide it's just one of those weird things other kids sometimes say and move on to talk about other stuff.

These young men are so cool. I finally got around to asking about their fundraising goals, and they were so excited to tell me all about what they've raised so far. Only after they spoke proudly of their efforts did they show me the list of thank-you gifts they could earn. Apparently, there is a really cool rocket thing that they aspire to. I hope they make their goal!

With Elise's preschool career officially over, we're getting a lot more relaxed time together. I had no idea 2 days/week could make such a difference in perspective, but they do. It feels like we suddenly have more time to really enjoy one another. These are some of the highlights I could recall from the week, but honestly she's pretty much a nonstop laugh riot. The creativity, the wickedly dry sense of humor, the joy she takes in making others laugh-these are the things that render life golden around our house these days.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Trouble with Sprinkles

A quick search of previous entries leaves me wondering how I could have neglected to write about Sprinkles before now. Really?! All of that pee and destruction and I haven't mentioned her before? Well, time to change that, and also to ask for advice.

When we first moved here back in September, (Wow-it's creeping up on a year! Time flies...) there was some hefty evidence of cat infestation. The previous tenants had let their cats use the closets for litterboxes, and the piles of cat poop piled up outside in the flowerbeds might have been a clue as to what the next several months would bring.

Given the numbers of cats we see wandering the street here, it would be unreasonable to assume that only one is responsible for the stench all over the patio. And our inability to leave anything outside without it getting sprayed. And the plants that have been killed by urine overdose. However, there is one cat that is constantly in the yard. I've seen her leaving the driveway as I notice fresh spray on my car tires and hood. I notice her coming to the back door, and then find urine marks. I've seen her fleeing the scene of freshly sprayed kid toys. And, I've opened Elise's bedroom blinds to see this kitty up on the roof, peeing on the wall just under the windows. This is the cat that led me to buy and set a trap. We call this kitty "Sprinkles" because she sprinkles everything with urine.

Well, last night I'd had one cleanup too many, and decided to find out where Sprinkles comes from. After a walk to the next block over and talking with a few of the neighbors, I finally found Sprinkles' home!

As it happens, Sprinkles' given name is Eliza. Her mom was hit by a car when she was practically newborn, and her people bottle fed her and her siblings. She was an indoor kitty for many years, until she started spraying and was banished outdoors. To the best of her human mom's recollection, Eliza is about 10 years old.

Well, now what do we do? Apparently she's a sweet, snuggly little thing who talks to her mom through the kitchen window every morning. She isn't suited to indoor life at all anymore.

Eliza's home yard has been invaded by some wicked mean ferals who have proven impossible to trap. One of them is a mean queen who has apparently just deposited another litter of kittens. If I were Eliza, I'd stay out of that yard too.

My thinking is that if the queen could be caught along with her kittens and relocated, Eliza might have some incentive to stay closer to home. Any experts out there want to weigh in? These neighbors are really nice people, clearly love animals and are doing the best they can by their kitty. We all want to find a good solution for her, so now it's just a matter of finding that solution. Help!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Perspective is Everything

Elise has been making a self-portrait out of perler beads this evening. Over dinner, she told us that she wants to iron it and give it to Rista. You know, so that Rista can still remember what Elise looks like when she's not alive anymore. (Yes, she's working on figuring out this whole death thing.)

So I said, "Oh, Honey, I think she'll like having a portrait of you, but you're going to live to be an oooollllllld lady."

Her reply?
"Really?! I'm gonna finally be thirty THREE?! Cool!!"

I mean, she knows that I'm 34hundredthousandmillion, so 33 sounds just about right for "old lady".

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Great Cat Debacle of 2009

This all started out with the best of intentions. Honest! Lots of marauding felines were marking our house, so I thought I'd do the right thing. I got a trap, and have been neutering every tomcat I can get my hands on. The San Jose animal shelter has a fabulous feral cat program that fixes (spays or neuters), vaccinates for rabies, and even de-fleas for a whopping sum of $20. At that rate, I can afford to help a whole lot of kitties.

Well, I could have. And then I cleverly left my trap set last Thursday night.

At first, I was thrilled because the cat I caught has been the neighborhood terror for quite awhile. He looked pretty awful, the weather was predicted to get hot, and I was happy to get him off the street for some medical attention. Alas, I had neglected to note that the San Jose shelter does not take ferals on Fridays. No problem! There are low-cost clinics around!

I found a low-cost clinic, but apparently "low cost" means different things to different people. Because the cat was so grouchy and so unwell, he needed sedation so that the vet could draw blood. The vet had some suspicions about FIV, the kitty version of AIDS, which would make him unsuitable for release. I gulped and okayed the charges.

The next day, the blood work came back and was of course positive. No wonder he was so mean-this kitty was in some bad shape. I gave the okay for euthenasia and cremation. I went to the vet to sign the paperwork and pay the bill.

Four hundred dollars later, I'm scratching my head. I don't question her charges-small veterinary practices are businesses and she really did give this cat some tender attention. But wow could we not afford that. This is the month for retiring every last penny of our credit card debt. Massive vet bills weren't really part of that plan. So, tomorrow is the day that I finally clean out the garage and take pictures of stuff to sell. I think I can get half to two-thirds of the bill knocked out, and we will still be able to say we're free of credit card debt by the end of this month.

From here, I'm not sure I want to keep trapping cats. I know that someone needs to, because the animal suffering (not to mention the property damage) will continue as long as there are fertile felines roaming the street. Luckily, there are several local organizations which can help with the trapping and fixing of kitties. I'm happy to do the work, but I'm not so happy to foot the bill.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

It was a beautiful Mother's Day here, and we hope it was where you are, too. Andy and Elise let me sleep in this morning, which was a treat in and of itself given that our girl has taken to getting up around 6am. After a nice lie-in, I was greeted with a "Happy Mother's Day, Mommy!" followed by Andy carrying a big tray laden with a scrumptious breakfast. Complete with a rose freshly cut from the garden. Major style points for that one.

Breakfast was pancakes with homemade blueberry syrup, veggie sausage, apple cinnamon muffin, Ranier cherries AND coffee in the special mug Elise made for my birthday. (Look, it says "Mom" on the bottom. No way-it says "woW!" No it doesn't!) Tucked under the plate was a book all about falcons, my newest obsession. What a beautiful treat. To top it all off, at the end of the meal Andy presented me with the nutrition information for everything so that it would be easy to count for my Weight Watchers points. I was in high fiber, low fat heaven.

When Andy and Elise were out and about yesterday, I suggested that they look for a bird house kit that Elise could put together. The houses looked a little complicated, but they found a perfect little feeder. After breakfast, we headed outside to build! This kit was nice because it had holes started for the nails and very simple instructions. Elise was awesome with the wood glue, and liked using the hammer. Some of the nails were tough to pound, but she stuck with it and got them all in. It was beautiful to see the look of satisfaction on her face when she realized she had done it all on her own.

And, since this was a kit for kids age 5 and up, they included paint! Behold-

And here is the finished product, as seen from outside:

And, a closer look from inside. Yes, I really did hang the holder crooked on the window, and yes, I really did have the feeder itself hung crooked. We'll just pretend the birds like it better that way. ;-)

I suppose one could ask for a better Mother's Day than this, but I'm not sure how it could possibly be delivered.

The running theme around here these days appears to be loose and missing teeth. Elise is hilarious without her top two front teeth. She's got just the tiniest bit of a lisp. Today, she lost one of her bottom teeth. That makes FIVE teeth for this five-year-old.

Loyal readers will doubtless be shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn that our girl is a bit of a smartypants. We, of course, have no idea how she got this way. Before she went to bed, Elise wanted to write a note to the Tooth Fairy. I hope she doesn't wake Elise with uproarious laughter when she reads this:

And the back of the note:

Mostly, Elise likes the idea of saying silly things. But I think a little part of her also figures that if the Tooth Fairy is going to the effort to bring her something, the least she can do is thank her with a good laugh.

Five years of motherhood and I'm always amazed. Thank you, my wonderful husband and daughter.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Better Gardening through Facebook

There is something about the springtime that makes me want to take care of little, growing things. Since we're not in the market for babies, cats, puppies, guinea pigs etc. right now, plants are the latest victims of my affections. (This is going somewhere, I promise.) Unfortunately, our entire yard appears to be falling victim to fungus, spider mites and maybe even some aphids. Because our soil is so very clay-ish, drainage is a problem and my winter plantings have felt it. Root rot is not good for peas, apparently.

So, I want to grow stuff we can eat, but all of the existing beds are full of disease-ridden flowers planted in heavy clay. Luckily, I have amazing powers of perception and was able to notice the vast stretches of grass that will need watering while we're on water rationing this summer. Hmmmm...

My solution is to build raised beds. They're a little easier to tame than the hard-packed clay, and I can put them in the sun that they are going to need. With a teensy bit of distance from some of the other diseased foliage, I figure my seedlings will have a fighting chance of getting started and healthy before we have to deal with disease too much.

I'm handy with tools, but not that handy. So, there I was, messing around on Facebook one night, looking at an ad for "Kiwi collars." They're really just sturdy lumber hooked together with galvanized hinges, but I loved the notion that they require no sawing, drilling, nailing, etc. So, I talked it over with the landlady (who says it's okay to put them on the lawn as long as we return it to grass when we leave) and with Andy and placed my order. Happily, they ship from a distributor in South SF, so I got to take a nice little drive to pick 'em up and didn't have to pay shipping fees. Oh, and I got them today after placing my order today. For the record, the Mainfreight people up there are super nice.

This is what my driveway looked like at about 3pm today:

My initial plan was to lay hardware cloth under the frames to keep out varmints like gophers, but I gave up on that when it started raining. And then got very hot and sunny. And then sprinkled again. But had I been clever, that's what I'd have done. I'll save the stuff for something else-maybe a cover for strawberries.

The collars are individually flat-packed for shipment to the US, which was a little off-putting at first. Then, I realized that I'd need to lay something under the frames to kill the grass anyway, and the boxes turned out to be a perfect fit!

Assembly required no effort, and the cardboard made it easy to slide things around until I'd found an aesthetically pleasing arrangement. Note how thoughtfully I left plenty of space for the gardeners to push their mower between the boxes when they come every other week.

Pretty, right? The boxes are 40"x48"x7. They are each filled with 6 cubic feet of "garden soil" and 1 cubic foot of compost, all from the neighborhood hardware store. (Yes, I bought compost-I didn't have enough of my own ready yet, having used a bunch last weekend.) We should get some nice food out of this! Maybe by the weekend we'll be able to plant some of the seedlings I started inside:

So, I found my perfect garden boxes on Facebook. I am also a fan of Square Foot Gardening, which is the general guideline I'll be using. It's a method that makes a lot of sense, and lends itself well to boxes like this. Look for more posts as our food gets growing!

And, if you're like me and need something small and fuzzy to dote on during the spring, I recommend San Jose's peregrine falcons!

Death and Preschool

I had meant to get back on the blogging wagon, so to speak, when things turned upside down last Monday. Elise's preschool teacher of nearly 2 years died. This did not seem to have as much effect on Elise as we might have thought, which I guess is good. Knocked me for a loop, though. I chose this particular school because of Linda. She was an amazing teacher who kept curious kids exploring. Elise's favorite subject at school due to Linda's classroom design is math. How cool is that?! Whenever Elise sees an insect and excitedly says, "Look at this cool bug-can I touch it?" and then picks it up to play with, I thank Linda. She also helped us with some of the little foibles that were getting in Elise's way and keeping her from enjoying her preschool experience. Linda "got" what was going on with our girl and got her off to a roaring good start.

Today, Elise wanted clarification about school. Wednesdays were always Linda's day off, and she commented that it isn't really her day off this week because she is dead. I agreed with her. She also noticed the picture of Linda that hangs by her classroom door-something I'm pretty sure she never looked twice at. So, she's processing this idea of permanent loss in the sort of increments that make sense when you're five. I'm glad for that, and hope I'm giving her the space she needs to do that.

Of course, because I was completely at a loss as to how to help Elise through the loss of her teacher, I did some gathering of resources. Parenting Beyond Belief has some wonderful and straightforward talk about death and grieving, and I found that helpful. I also asked one of my favorite parenting bloggers for insight, which she did beautifully right here. Thank you, RYD!

Toothless grin

Elise has traded in her snaggle-toothed look for a more, um, toothless one. Behold!
Unfortunately, this one came out in her sleep, and is presumed swallowed. We woke Sunday morning to "Uh oh. Uh oh. Uh oh!" (scamper scamper) "Guys, what did you do with my tooth?" Poor kid. She and Andy composed a very nice note of explanation to the tooth fairy, who was pretty cool about the whole thing.

No more loose teeth for awhile, or so we imagine.

Monday, April 27, 2009

More Toothy Goodness

Elise is just so doggone cute with this crazy gap-toothed grin that I'm going to just put a bunch of pictures here and let you grin right along.