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10 posts from November 2009

November 29, 2009

"Let Go!"

The bike tires are always flat and two bikes take up too much space in the back of our van so we hardly ever ride them.  Most of the time, we use our Razor Scooters and since the girls mastered those long ago, we suspected they were more than ready to ride a bike without training wheels.  Today, we tested that theory.

Maddy's bike is the smallest so that's the one we took the training wheels off of first.  She cried and cried when we removed them!  Security is so hard to give up!  Maddy did a pretty good job riding without them but she insisted that Daddy run next to her and never let go of the bike even though she was balancing really well and could have survived a solo ride if she was just a teensy bit more brave.   She'll probably do it next time.  She's closer than she thinks!

Meanwhile, Gwen (our fearless one) mastered it almost immediately.  Daddy ran around with her for a few minutes then she started insisting that he let go.  She did great!  Here's a short video of the highlights (only about 1 minute long): 

November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks - 2009

Like all years, we have much to be thankful for.  We are abundantly blessed and I hope we never take any of our blessings for granted.    My goal this coming year is to be more verbal about giving thanks to God because one of my daughters put her fingers in her ears while I was saying grace before our Thanksgiving meal last night.    This was in sharp contrast to how I felt during that prayer because my heart was so full of gratitude that I had to choke back tears to make it through to the amen at the end. 

We have a strong marriage and three healthy and well adjusted kids.  Our extended family is doing well even though my Dad is getting up there in age and starting to feel it a bit more than he'd like.  But we're all blessed with the sweet gift of friendship and all of our physical needs are being met.   What more could anyone really ask for?

Gwen and Maddy were excited about dinner this Thanksgiving because they've been learning about this holiday in Kindergarten.  When Gwen got up from her nap, the table was set and all the food was there but she was confused because she thought there would be pilgrims and indians too.   Here's our "feast":

Our 2009 feast

Michael was with us again this year. We know we won't always be blessed to share this day with our grown son so it's that much more sweet to have him now.  Especially because he chooses to spend this day with us.  Someday, we'll have to share him with his new family on holidays but, for now, he's ours.   

He's been a vegetarian since 8th grade so, in addition to the traditional bird for the rest of us, I made a Tofurkey Roast for him for thanksgiving.

Turkey? or Tofurky?

I also made vegetarian cornbread stuffing with herbs and finely chopped celery, water chestnuts and mushrooms.    I was really good!

Gwen and Maddy are finally starting to figure out that the meat we eat matches up to the type of animal it's named after.  For example, fish sticks actually come from real fish and chicken nuggets come from actual chickens.  Maddy thinks we're kidding when we tell her this.  She just can't fathom it.    Gwen is totally freaked out that a baby bird will tumble out of the egg when she cracks it open for a recipe.  She's relieved every time to not see feathers and feet.

We weren't planning to go out into the Black Friday craziness but it was raining and we couldn't do much else so we went to Fry's to see if there were any great bargains.  

Back in 2005, we purchased a brand new front loading washer and dryer but couldn't bring ourselves to buy the pedestal at the same time because they were ridiculously expensive and seemed like too much of a splurge.  However, I do 5 or 6 loads of laundry per week and each time I load or unload the machine I feel like I'm auditioning for lead contortionist for Cirque Du Soleil.  If they ever need a slightly frumpy middle aged mom who can bend 270 degrees while straddling a plastic laundry basket and cursing simultaneously in three languages, I may have a new career!  

Imagine my pathetic attempt to contain my excitement when I noticed the stupid overpriced pedestals were on sale for 50% off.  Andrew laughed at me and said he wished he had the video camera.  I guess this means I'm not a Diva anymore, huh.   

We also picked up a discounted small flat screen tv to mount on the wall in front of our treadmill.  I walk about four miles outside each day while the girls are at school and I love it (and my good mental health depends on it) so the tv will help keep me entertained and motivated to stick with it through the cold wet winter months ahead. 

Other than that, we've been finished with our holiday shopping since September.  We're not really sure how that happened because we weren't pushing to get it done early.  We just happened to find the perfect gifts early.  REI was a MAJOR source of goodies this year.  Gosh, I love that store!  ToysRus came through too and the girls are getting a Wii and a few Wii games.  They're also getting adorable super hero capes that I saw on the Salsa In China blog.  Michael is getting a new Mac laptop computer that he can use for school (he's a Graphic Design major at The Art Institute in San Francisco).  Andrew is getting some super secret stuff and for me?  Well, I have everything I could ever want or need -- and then some.    Yep, our cup runneth over!

I hope all of our US friends had a nice Thanksgiving and everyone else had reason to be thankful too.    Now I think I'll go make a turkey sandwich!

November 23, 2009

Santa, Bounce-A-Rama, ISBN, Beef Tamales, Falafel, Weird Stringed Instruments, Tikka Masala and a Nekkid Dip in the Pool!

Weekend 11 22 09

The weekend started out like any other.  Five of us (two adults, two girls and one cat) snuggled through the usual Saturday morning Nickelodeon cartoon lineup then leaped from bed to the shower into our clothes then into the van for a day of fun and excitement.  As usual, the cat skipped the shower and van excursion. 

The next day, we repeated the process.

I suspect that most of you are totally satisfied by this level of detail about our family's 47th weekend of 2009 but this blog is our family journal so I'm obligated to flesh it out a bit.

Saturday:  We went to breakfast then Great Mall where we encountered a very lonely looking Santa.  No line at all!  So even though the kids weren't dressed for it, we fed them some ideas about what to ask Santa to bring them (stuff we already bought them) and snapped a quick pic with the jolly old guy.    When we got home, I scanned the photo and changed the colors of the girls sweaters to what you see in this photo (originally they were turquoise and purple!).  Curious to know what the kids asked for?

Gwen:   Star Wars Light Saber and Toy Story game
Maddy:  Race Car game

Yes, we've double checked and our daughters really are girls.

After Santa pictures, we walked around the mall some more then headed home so the girls could grab a quick nap to help prepare for what was next - a friend's birthday party at Bounce-A-Rama.  Only three words to describe that experience:  Crazy Delicious Fun!

Sunday:  We went to Campbell's weekly street market for breakfast.  We've been to the market many times over the years but we've never eaten anything other than small tempting samples of the food there.  Today that all changed because we finally decided to make Street Fair food into a main course!

We started with Chicken Tikka Masala and fresh baked Naan for the kids (a favorite).  They'd close their eyes in silent appreciation during every blissfully delicious mouthfull and Mommy and Daddy would use that moment to spork up a bite or two for ourselves.   Then Daddy got a fried falafel sandwich on pita bread with shredded carrots and cucumbers and lettuce and creamy dressing.  Wow.... that was good!    He ate almost all of it and Mommy had two bites too.

Then Mommy got a beef tamale with mild chile sauce and shared a few bites with Daddy before wrapping it up and tucking it away and heading the next course: a spinach and tomato and cheddar crepe with sauteed mushrooms and roasted bell pepper sauce.  Oh My Gosh...... it was heaven!  We only ate 1/4 of it so we could save room for dessert:  A pumpkin nut mini-muffin for Mommy and a double chocolate chip muffin for Daddy!  Plus tasty samples of all sorts of stuff like ripe persimmons and ruby red strawberries and tangy tangerines and red grapes and crisp apples.  Yummmm!

Between all these bites, we strolled casually  through the market and visited the various vendors who were selling everything from home sewn hats and purses to sugar-free biscotti.  There were musicians scattered about and we really enjoyed a blue's singer and a guy playing a big giant stringed instrument (what is that!?).  He was really good! 

There were several stores who wisely chose to open their doors on a Sunday morning to take advantage of all the pedestrian traffic.  One of our favorites was a used book store with a semi-famous kitty named Isbn.  

After fully exploring all of Campbell's streen market, we took the kids to Kid's Park then Daddy and I went to Home Depot to grab some stuff then took in a movie (a lame one called "Men Who Stare At Goats").  It wasn't all bad but it wasn't great either.  Then we picked up our kids and fed them then tossed them into our little pool for some good clean 98 degree splashy fun!   

Ah.... a fun weekend!

Important:  A very sick little girl needs to find a bone marrow donor as soon as possible. 
You can read about Maya
here.  Please help if you can and please spread the word.

November 19, 2009

Siblings With(out?) Rivalry

I can't tell you how much I appreciated the comments and support and suggestions I got about my vent over Gwen and Maddy's constant fights.  I removed that post because it didn't paint a very positive picture of one of my daughters and I didn't want a critical permanent internet record following her through her life (thinking about the brutal vetting process should she ever run for public office!?).  But I learned so much from everyone who commented and I'm eternally grateful because I think your comments really made a difference in our life. 

Many of you offered hope and encouragement that things would improve in time and one book was credited over and over again for helping in that process: Siblings Without Rivalry.  I ordered it and it's on it's way to my mailbox now.

In the meanwhile, I took many of your suggestions to heart and started doing some things differently.  First of all, I started spending more time with each child separately.  I get Maddy up a half hour earlier than Gwen and we snuggle and chat.  Then I spend an extra half hour with Gwen alone in her room at night.  I can credit this with an almost immediate improvement in how the kids interact!  I also made a pledge to scold them less when they fight and compliment them more when they play nicely and that cut the fighting by a large percentage (maybe 20 percent!?).  They still fight but I'm trying to ignore it unless I can see blood or unless it sounds frantic --  like someone is being beaten with a banjo. 

Yesterday, I went into the backyard to call them in for naps and found them playing nicely together.  The sky was clear and blue and the sun was low on the horizon and it cast a beautiful warm glow on everything.  In the middle of it all were my girls and they were pure eye candy and I had to postpone nap time for a bit just so I could grab the camera and catch a few photos.

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It's not always Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice at our house but it's better! Much better!

November 15, 2009

A peek back 3000 years

I'm slightly astounded that the Egyptian government would allow a tomb of one of their Kings to be unearthed and put on display all over the world but, ironically, I'm also grateful that they did allow it.

The items buried with  King Tutankhamen date back more than 3000 years and they're so beautifully preserved that it would really be a shame if the world couldn't see them and appreciate them - in a respectful setting, of course.   Especially if the alternative is that they stay buried and slowly rot away to nothing over time. 

King tut

This weekend, our friends Chris and Phyllis met us in San Francisco where we hooked up with Michael (pictured above with his sisters) and we all traveled over to the De Young Museum where we visited the King Tut exhibit.  Gwen and Maddy were quite curious about the "Boy King" and wanted to be carried from room to room so they could more easily see inside all of the artifacts and exhibits.   Throughout all of it, I kept marveling that everything was really over 3000 years old.  Especially astonishing was the ancient furniture!  It's mind boggling to think that wood could survive that long and equally amazing to think about how the intricate and precise pieces were constructed without the benefit of power tools and were of such quality to stand a true test of time.  Gilded items notwithstanding  (especially those with scarabs), most of the pieces looked like they could easily be something from my own living room! 

There were two very small coffins on display that contained stillborn baby girls (perhaps tiny princesses?).   I couldn't help but think about how much they must have been loved and wanted and missed and how devastating the miscarriage was to her royal parents.  Even though life was obviously much different back then, some things apparently never change.

After seeing the small sarcophagus with its x-rayed contents, Gwen regarded every other small container as though it also might contain a dead baby.  She was pretty concerned about it and was eager to point out (to everyone's relief) when she'd look inside something and it didn't contain the remains of a mummified fetus. 

The tour ended with a lifesized photographic display of King Tutankhamen's coffin and it's contents in various stages of reveal.  At first, it was a bit disappointing (that a King Tut exhibit didn't actually contain King Tut) but I quickly came to appreciate that the photo exhibit showed more detail than we'd ever be able to see otherwise.  Especially the items entombed with him.  Simply amazing!!  Really, words can't describe it.  It was an expensive tour but a really fascinating and memorable one and something I'm glad to have seen.  I really think was worth every penny.  

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