Sunday, August 31, 2008

Attack of the giant bugs

Katydid in our garage this morning. We saw a tiny one in the garden this spring, but this is the first time I've seen a full-size one. The photo is pretty much life-sized ... my boy is biiiiiig. Don't believe me? Check out the 2x3 in the bottom picture for scale.
While checking to make sure this was actually a katydid, I found some neat YouTube videos on them. Particularly this one, which helped me identify the Official Sound of Trying To Sleep In The Summer At My Grandmother's House In Indiana.

Because I'm all artsy and shit

Score! You can't even tell that's a Disney princess pocket kite with a giant picture of Cinderella on it.

Liza and Jason brought home a whole mess of these snail shells. Bet you didn't think anything that pretty lived in the Great Lakes, did you? (insert "burning river" or "mistake by the lake" joke here)

Fun at the lake

Went up to Lake Erie today for a photo shoot for my newest etsy merchandise, the mermaid tail and tiara costume set. It was windy, but I think things turned out pretty well. What do you think?

Not bad for someone whose modeling fee is an ice cream cone from Dairy Queen on the way home. She takes direction well, at least when she's well-rested and properly bribed. Thank god.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sense memories

I just got back from a nighttime jog, for the first time in, oh, years. Don't ask me why - my body tells me to go jogging at 9:30, I'm going jogging, especially considering how snug my jeans have been getting.

Believe it or not, I used to jog all the time, and always in the evening. Of course, we lived in Japan at the time, and it was the only time I wasn't at work or commuting back and forth, and the crime rate in Nagoya was about 0, so jogging at night over there was a little different than doing it over here. It's funny, though, how the slap of shoes on concrete and the damp night air on my clammy legs brought back a bunch of memories of running in Japan.

My route over there was a large loop that started and ended at our apartment building. Our neighborhood was insanely hilly, and I purposely routed myself up and down the hills because the downhills gave me a (very brief) break. Don't get me wrong - I suck at running. I have bad knees, I get winded walking uphill, and I have the determination of a banana slug. But jogging in Japan was one of the few ways I could be by myself in a socially acceptable fashion, and after a few weeks of gradually running more and walking less, it became a lot less painful. There was even one or two nights when I ran the whole way, a much longer route than normal, because I finally got the fabled "runner's high." Okay, it wasn't a "high," more of a "not nearly so sucky," but it was fun all the same. After we moved back to Cleveland the weather was so bad - and my need for solitude was so reduced - that I gave it up pretty soon, managing to straggle through one 5K sponsored by my employer in spring of 2000 before hanging up my shoes for good.

I last jogged in Japan in November or December of 1999, and I can still picture virtually my entire route, one stride at a time. I carried a flashlight, but that was mostly so I could turn it on to warn cars I was there when they infrequently came by. Mostly I ran in the dark, the glow from the television sets shining through front windows and lighting my way on the sidewalks and streets. I knew where to shift left and right to avoid cracks and potholes, where the curb wasn't nearly as tall as it looked, and which neighbors cooked the best-smelling dinners. I saw another runner every couple weeks, usually the same guy running on the opposite side of the canal.

I'd start uphill from our apartment, walking to the corner before I started to jog. I'd jog uphill for a few blocks, then it leveled out, then it went up again before dropping off steeply on the back street where the VW bus used to park. When I took the longer route I'd swing past a few shops that I never went past when I wasn't running, past the izakayas where I'd have to dodge the drunk salarymen if I had waited too late to start running. Back down past the school, the grocery store/supermarket, the tennis courts where the bats flitted in and out of the streetlights. Stop running at our corner, walk up the block past the new construction on the street behind us, then circle around to the front of the building and stretch on the steps before buzzing myself in.

Where am I going with this? Heck if I know. I just had half an hour of mindless exercise, and it all came flooding back, and I thought I'd better write it down before I forgot.

Next time: Why stretching my quads makes me think of earthquakes :)

Note to self: I realized today that most of my sports bras and some of my spandex exercise shorts are the same ones I wore in Japan. Eyech. If I keep up the schedule for two weeks, I get to go to Target and buy some new duds. And if I keep up the schedule and can complete a 5K before my birthday, I'm buying the biggest freaking brownie sundae in the state and eating it all by myself.

Edited to add: I've been futzing around on Google Earth. If you want to see where our old apartment was, here are the coordinates:
Latitude: 35° 9'54.68"N
Longitude: 137° 0'15.73"E

If you search for Nagoya, Japan, then zoom in on Meito-ku, it will get you to the right area. We're just a little west of the highway and the canal which runs parallel to it, just north of the big dirt courtyard in the elementary school across the street from our building.

My god, it's a trip down memory lane. There's the temple with the dragon water spouts. The Denny's where I had my first Japanese curry. The McDonalds where we used to get pancakes. The park where we had a nice rural walk until we found the huge piles of condoms behind every shrub or large rock.

Good times, good times.

Speaking of which, I kinda miss this place: . Oh, Fowl Balls, how I miss you!

Mermaid tail for dress-up

Okay, when Liza spends all morning playing with her new imaginary friend, Alice the Mermaid, you can't expect me to refrain from busting out the sequins during naptime to make a mermaid tail, can you? Didn't think so.

So, moms and dads - what would you pay for a reversible, custom-sized mermaid tail for dress-up play? I'm thinking of making them for my etsy shop, but I want to make sure there's a decent profit margin to be had. The sparkly stuff can be up to $15 a yard, so my materials cost will probably be higher on this than on most of my other merchandise. I'm thinking like $30 for a kid-sized one, and closer to $50 for an adult one. Would you pay that for a gift for your kid, grandkid, niece, kid of a friend? And what colors would you like to see available? I was planning to go with just green or blue to start, with others available if somebody specifically requests one (and it's available locally).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How cute is this?

New valance for my sewing room, whipped up this weekend with fabric that I've been hoarding since 2002-ish and trim I bought to use in the sewing room at the house in Kentucky.

Get it? Sewing room? Button trim? Oh, the cute factor is pretty high on this sucker. Makes me smirk with happiness every time I see it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oh, the carnage

I had a flash of inspiration a few weeks ago, when I realized that I could stop Liza from whining about wanting to go on the rides at the mall if I just let her take some of the change from her bank and ride the damn things already. This works great, only she burned through all of her quarters really fast, and she hasn't yet figured out that she can exchange the other denominations for quarters, so we were trying to figure out a way she could get some more quarters (other than waiting for the inevitable package full of quarters and sugar from Grandma, thanks a lot, Mom).

We came up with a list of five chores she would do every day, and if she did them for five days, she got two quarters, which is enough to ride one of the cheaper rides at the mall. So now she makes her bed twice a day, empties the trashcan in her room once a week, picks up all of her shoes before Jason gets home every day, puts away everything on the floor in her room before bed every night, and clears her dishes after every meal. And she loves doing it. And it costs me $0.50 a week. Bargain!


Today she was clearing off her lunch dishes when the Pyrex custard cup of uneaten corn that was sitting on her plastic plate obeyed the laws of inertia and gravity and hit the floor with a ringing SPANG!, sending a cascade of lethal glass pieces everywhere. EVERYWHERE. While we were both shoeless.

Luckily, we were both standing still when it happened, and Liza (for once) immediately obeyed me and stood still until I could get shoes for both of us and carry her out of the blast zone. Neither of us was cut (at least not then).

And that was the start of 45 minutes of continuous debris removal. I swept up with a broom, then used a wet paper towel to pick up what I thought were the last few microscopic bits. While on my hands and knees doing that, I looked under the table, where it was sparkling like freaking Las Vegas, and I resigned myself to vacuuming a day early this week. And then I picked a 1/4" long piece of glass out of the side of my thumb and tried to stop bleeding on the floor.

I hauled out the vacuum and swept the whole main floor of the house twice, finding daggers of glass an inch long as far as 12 feet away from the point of impact. There was one sitting on the carpet in the living room, for god's sake, a foot away from where I had put my daughter so she would be safe from the glass during cleanup. That's about 15 feet from the craft area where the initial impact occurred, in case you're keeping track.

So then I used the wet Swiffer to mop the whole wood floor, changing pads twice, each time being rewarded with extra daggers of glass and overall sparkliness that means we're going to be wearing shoes in the house for a very, very long time.

The glass splinters, of course, imbedded themselves in the soles of my sandals while I was cleaning, so not only do I get to wear shoes in the house, but I have to take them off before I can walk on the carpet on the other levels of the house, lest I spread the glass dust into the carpet.

Well, at least now it's not so convenient to nip down to the kitchen for a snack while I'm working in the office. Of course, it's not so easy to nip down to the laundry room to see if the sheets are dry yet, either, which is a bit of a pain.

Note to self: Do not allow preschooler to use Pyrex ever again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

You know you want one ... or two ... or four ...

Look, Mom! I finally found a use for the 400 zippers you gave me!
Get 'em while they last, only $9 each at my etsy shop.

Oh, and having a kid who stands still and moves her arm the direction I tell her to when posing for a picture - priceless. The kid's got a bright future as a hand model, don't you think?

Ack! The cuteness! I can't take it anymore!

When Liza was a baby, the surest way to get her to smile during photo shoots was to pretend to sneeze. This was especially effective if Jason was doing it - he can really ham it up.
Fake sneezes are so 2006, though, and I've been working on a new way to get her to not grimace as though in pain (her version of a forced smile) every time she sees the camera. And today I think I stumbled on the answer.
Let a good loud one (or even a pathetic breathy one) rip, and the kid giggles like mad while looking straight at you.
I knew some of the skills I learned in marching band* would come in handy someday.
*burping on command, pretending to play when my slide has frozen in place, marching backwards really fast while holding my upper body completely steady so I don't cut my lips to shreds on my mouthpiece, proper house-toilet-paper-rolling techniques, consuming four donuts without puking or getting the shakes, and looking dignified despite the huge feather mohawk on top of my helmet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The pee fairy

For the last few weeks, Liza has been going to bed later and later each night, using a series of increasingly long and ridiculous stalling techniques that have Jason and I contemplating spanking, alcoholism, and/or child abandonment. I need water! I need to go potty! I need more snuggles! My leg is hanging out! I need to go potty! I need another book! I need another song! I need Mommy! I lost my bunny! I need to go potty! Yeah, and we need some time to watch old X-Files episodes and steal from the stash of candy you collected at the parade last week, so get the hell in bed.

Our usual routine is that Jason puts Liza to bed, doing all the singing and snuggling and stories, since by that time of day I'm not only tired, I'm tired of the kid, and I'm much more prone to lose it than he is. We kind of alternate who gets stuck going back in to settle her down, based on who is less likely to kill her in the next 15 minutes. The stalling and stalling and stalling was getting really annoying, and even Jason was having a tough time keeping his patience when we had to go in 6 times on Thursday night and she didn't get to sleep until 10pm.

Friday night Jason went out for drinks with a friend, and I was in charge of bedtime. Things go much differently when I'm in charge by myself, as I generally am a LOT more willing to listen to screaming than he is, and I have no problem being Evil Parent. I told Liza very clearly that I was going to do her whole bedtime routine, including books and songs and a story and snuggles and a trip to the potty and a glass of water, but when I left and shut the door, that was it. Period. I was not going back in there unless the house caught on fire or a wolverine snuck in through her open window (I think I left that part out of the actual lecture).

So I left, and she started screaming. I need water! I need to go potty! I need more snuggles! My leg is hanging out! I need to go potty! I need another book! I need another song! I need Mommy! I lost my bunny! I need to go potty! And I went downstairs and knitted.

After 5 minutes I went up and told her that I was still here, I loved her, but I was not going in, and she needed to go to sleep. I watched her go to the potty (again), rinsed out the potty, said goodnight and shut the door. This got me incoherent raging and kicking of walls, which settled into just kicking of walls, and she was asleep 15 minutes later. Score one for Evil Mommy!

Saturday night Jason was home, and I gave Liza the same lecture. Blah blah, not coming in, Daddy's not coming in either, go to sleep.

"Daddy will come and get me." (with a smirk)
"No he won't."
"Yes, he will."
"No, he won't, because if he tries to, I will sit on him until he gives up and stops trying to get to your room."
"You can't sit on Daddy!"
"If it means getting you to sleep earlier, yes I can."

Fifteen minutes of screaming, and she was asleep.


Last night, after five minutes of screaming, I stuck my head in Liza's room. She said she had to got to the potty, which is always her first stage of stalling, and despite the fact that she JUST WENT FIVE MINUTES BEFORE, she usually manages to actually go again, so it's not like we can ignore it if we ever want her to be potty trained at night.

"You're a big girl. You use the potty by yourself every day. Get out of bed, use the potty, wipe your butt, and get back in bed. We'll clean out the potty in the morning."

She was quiet after that, and Jason and I got to watch a movie. A whole movie. Including trailers. Hallelujah!

Jason checked on her before we went to bed, and she had done just what I told her, getting her diaper back on and even getting the sheets over her and everything. All he had to do was rinse out the potty and we were good to go. Score!

When Jason called this morning, I told him that Liza's first concern when she woke up was that we had to clean out her potty. I told her that Daddy had done it in the middle of the night.
"You should have told her the Pee Fairy came and took it away." Ha, ha, very funny.

Tonight we had no problem getting her to bed - as Jason was leaving the room, she said she had to pee, so he told her to go and get back in bed by herself. He went in a few minutes ago, and she was curled up under her covers, bunny under her arm, potty full of pee. He carried out the potty and asked me, "Should the Pee Fairy leave a quarter in her potty?"

No, I don't think so, but thanks for the disturbing mental image of a urine-soaked sprite sneaking into my house every evening.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

No, really - she can read

A few words, at least.

Susie - this will take about 15 years to download, but you really ought to see it ... it will warm your ex-kindergarten-teacher's heart. If you can't get it to work, call me and I'll send it to you on CD.


Just in case I ever need to prove to the child welfare people that it's not MY fault the kid is going to end up in the emergency room with two dislocated shoulders.

Nothing says "lazy Sunday afternoon" quite like a Linkin Park song, am I right?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Oh. My. God.

You must go try this recipe:

I made this for dinner tonight, using homemade pie dough and tomatoes and basil from my garden, and it was so good I thought I was going to pass out. Seriously. I mean, tomatoes and cheese are pretty hard to screw up, but my god, this was awesome.

Must not eat it cold out of the refrigerator for dessert ...

Feeling mighty proud

Before (May)

During (July)

After (today)

The last phase of the renovation involved three cans of spraypaint, $40 in plants, and a half-dozen astoundingly ugly pots that got a makeover this morning. I got lucky with the plants, as the local garden center was having a great sale (and the lady behind the counter was sort of clueless, so I think I got some unmarked bargains ... like that gigantic Dragon Wing begonia in the back, which I think is the most awesome plant I've ever purchased - was 3 for $10).

I love, love, love the pink and blue combination. If only I could convince Jason to paint the house that color, I'm sure that would speed up the sale of the house next door. Because everyone wants to live next to a 70's split level painted to look like a fairytale cottage, right?

At any rate, I'm so happy with the painted pots that I'm sort of kicking myself that we gave away a dozen of our old unused pots at our yard sale last summer. Just think of all the periwinkly goodness I could have put next to the playset! And the sandbox! And the garden! And anything else that stood still! On second thought, I'm not sure my lungs could stand that much spray paint overspray, so maybe it was for the best.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's possible we read to her too much

It's pretty much a daily occurrence that Liza will narrate what she's doing as if she is reading it out of a book. I'm not talking about a normal 3-year-old talking to herself, like "Now I need to find a piece to make a door." She's talking as if she were reading dialogue, complete with descriptions and speaker identifications. For example, I'll ask her if she wants milk or water with her snack, and she'll reply," 'Water, please,' Liza said, smiling at her mother."

Most of the time she just does this with her own conversations. It's a little bit disconcerting, but it hasn't crossed the line from "cute" to "disturbing and/or annoying" ... yet.

Then today she started doing the same with the toys she was playing with. When the princess fell into the dungeon of the Little People castle we found at a yard sale this morning, Liza had the other princess** say, "'Oh, are you okay?' Flower Girl asked." This went on for 5 or 10 minutes, each character providing the entire written dialogue from some script in Liza's head. It was a little freaky.

**Also freaky? After the princesses rescued each other from the dungeon half a dozen times (while the prince sat outside in the carriage), 'Her Highness' told 'Flower Girl' that it was time to go because they needed to get married because they were in love. So they booted the prince out of the carriage and rode off into the sunset, holding hands. It took every bit of my liberal Democratic willpower to not suggest that it might be better to have the prince and the princess fall in love and get married. I draw the line if the kid starts involving livestock, though ... although I did think it was pretty funny when she had the Little People baby Jesus repeatedly falling down into the dungeon and being rescued by the Wise Men and the camel from the toy nativity scene we found at the same sale.

I don't know what it is about baby Jesus figures ... Liza kept making off with the one that goes with our "official" nativity set last Christmas, and we'd find Him in the bathroom or on her chair in the dining room. The manger scene looks pretty strange without a baby ... sort of like a really bad party where everyone is just sort of standing around awkwardly. I seem to remember that my cousins used to do the same thing with their (much more expensive) baby Jesus figurine when we were kids. And some of Liza's friends have a Playmobil nativity set mixed in with all of their other Playmobil stuff ... and apparently the baby Jesus is a regular purchase at the Playmobil grocery store. Not a customer - a purchase. That totally cracks me up.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


After two days of editing, researching, re-editing, nail-biting, and market research, I am about to send out my first freelance writing submission since 2004.

I don't know whether this requires alcohol or the puke bucket.

Perhaps both, just to be certain.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Hey, Miss I'm On Maternity Leave, can you mail me from your home account so I've got your most recent email address? And promise to tell me when the baby arrives? Because I've got a quilt that's burning a hole in my pocket, but I'm not sending it until I know what the baby's got in its diaper, if you know what I mean.

Isn't this great? All of my subscribers now know you're knocked up. Hee!

New free pattern available

The hat pattern is now up on my blog for Lazy Mama Designs. You can find it here:

Go forth and make many, many hats. Just because YOU live in Texas doesn't mean that all of your relatives do, after all :)


Saturday's weather was beautiful - 70 degrees and sunny - so I didn't have much of a problem convincing Jason to take us to the North Ridgeville Corn Festival, a local fair-type-thing that we've never actually made it to in the past.

It was much larger than I was expecting, with tons of food vendors, plus a full complement of carnival rides and games. Liza seemed interested in the rides, but we weren't sure she was actually going to make it through any without losing it, so we bought $10 worth of tickets instead of a $14 ride-all-day wristband. Good thing, too, or we never would have gotten her out of there.
Eventually we ran out of tickets and declared a break for dinner ... after riding the pony, of course.
What was for dinner at the corn festival? Guess ...
After dinner we walked over to the nearby playground to try to run off some of the corn dog, and Liza wanted to do nothing other than swing and go down the twisty slide over and over again.

Then we stopped for ice cream on the way home, and poured the kid into bed early. A good time was had by all, in other words.

Think I staged the photos somehow? I offer in my defense a relatively nausea-inducing video of Liza on the rides, titled "Operation: Make Grandpa Puke." Poor Dad has issues with things that go around and around ... better have a trashcan ready if you watch this one, dude.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Movin' on up

Update: My tomato soup recipe is at #3 ... you've only got to get me two higher to get that check sent to the ASPCA.

It was that sort of day

(the time stamp on this posting is probably wrong - I'm actually posting it at 11pm Sunday night)

By 9:30am,

I had burned myself badly removing breakfast from the oven, simultaneously spilling a boiling hot mixture of sugar, melted butter and orange juice all over my stovetop and floor.

The usually-careful Liza had spilled two cups of milk on the (clean) floor in the kitchen and dining room, breaking a mug I bought in college to give to my kid someday.

Jason had managed to catch the edge of the dining room table with his kidney when he was standing up after cleaning up one of the milk spills. I forgot to ask tonight if he's peeing blood ... isn't that what always happens to boxers when they get punched in the kidneys?

The bread that burned me and took 15 minutes and half a roll of paper towels to clean up ... wasn't cooked all the way through. So we put it back in the oven upside down on a baking sheet to try to get the bottom part a little less doughy ... only we forgot to grease the pan, so I had to chip the bread off with a metal knife when it was finally cooked. It wasn't that good, either.

And the knitting project I started this morning got twisted when I worked on it, making the four hundred stitches I had completed irrelevant since I had to completely rip it out and start again.

By 4pm,

I learned that part of one of my favorite national parks had collapsed, and Bernie Mac had died.

By 6pm,

My usually-steady daughter managed to plunge head-first down the stairs to the family room, knocking pictures off the wall and hitting something with her face that has given her an interesting bruise that is precisely rectangular. There's nothing more reassuring after the thumpity-thumpity-bumpity-thud than the primal scream that comes out of the fallen kid's mouth that assures you that no, she's not dead yet.

And she spilled a third cup of milk on the floor of the kitchen. By then, I was out of Swiffer refills.

I found out that Isaac Hayes was dead.

By 11pm,

I found that the knitting project I had restarted this afternoon was about twice as large as it was supposed to be, despite using the needles and yarn weight called for in the directions. I appear to be knitting a gaiter for a polar bear, not my mother. She's going to have to really bulk up for this to fit.

Add to this the 14 crises that were narrowly averted (the sugar syrup narrowly missed landing in the frying bacon grease and spattering all over the front of me; Liza kept trying to play with her magic wands - two foot-long wooden sticks - right next to the bouquet of flowers in the vase K's mom gave us for our wedding; I lost my balance while Liza was hugging me goodnight and almost knocked over the ironing board with the hot iron on top of it, etc.) and you'll understand why I'll be going to bed, pulling the covers over my head, and hoping a sinkhole doesn't open in the backyard and swallow my family sometime in the middle of the night. If you don't hear from me for a few days, you might want to send in spelunkers.

Oh, I'm in the top 10 search results again!

Thank you, Parenthacks!

Look! Another thing that sucks!

Luckily, the arch that collapsed wasn't the one Jason and I hiked to during our trip to Utah in 2001. I'm sorta fond of Delicate Arch, aka "the one on the license plate."

Looking back through our Utah trip photos, I came across this buried treasure, taken in Goblin Valley State Park:
I call it "Jason the Goblin Proctologist," and the total craposity of the photo is because it's a photo of a photo, since the digital file is on a CD in our safety deposit box and therefore not readily accessible on a Sunday.

Oh, and in other suckage, here's the first of our carrot crop from the waterlogged garden plot:

That's a teaspoon (and cherry pit) for scale. Looks like we don't have to worry about getting hypercarotenemia, at least from our harvest. Split three ways, we each got a piece of carrot about half the size of a pencil eraser. Mmmmm, filling.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Another news story that makes me want to throw up;_ylt=AgpwVYSjYvXgqx.qLpEJ9Oh34T0D

Wha? Who? How much?



I was going to post the best bits, but I couldn't decide between about 15 of them, so just go read the thing already, especially the last half.

Oh, hell - here's one of my favorites anyway:
My daughter is now fully aware that not all clothing starts out smelling like mildew and chain-smoking pubic lice, and this vexes me. "That nice smell," I tell her. "It's all chemicals. If they didn't cover them in chemicals, new clothes would smell like the tears of work-weary Honduran widows."


This is where the story turns from Jim-the-annoying-elitist-hipster buying his kid whatever she wants so long as it's not adorned with one of those beast-loving Mexican preschoolers to the story of a 31-year-old man trying to convince his 3-year-old daughter that she wants an entire army of 4-inch plastic Roman legionnaries to wage war on those uppity bog farmers in transapline Gaul.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Thank you, Electric Company

Scene: I just finished writing the "Fuzzy Wuzzy" poem on the blackboard in Liza's room.

Liza: "Why did you put a question mark at the end?"
Me: "Why do you think I did?"
Liza: "Oh, because it's asking a question, isn't it?"

Yeah, that's thanks to one segment on an episode of Electric Company that she watched once. Oh, look - here it is now!

Now I won't be the only one singing that blasted song under my breath for the rest of the month. On a happier note, I think I need to find the Victor Borge punctuation routine on YouTube now that she knows the names of them. Oh, look - here it is now!

Starting to feel like Bartholemew Cubbins**

First, Liza stayed dry all night, so she got to open the "lipstick" I've been dangling in front of her for months. She decided it was necessary to freshen up right before our hat photo shoot. Honest to god, she said, "Don't take my picture! I didn't put on my lipstick yet! Mo---omm!"

Speaking of hats, I don't think I'll be using this shot to publicize the pattern ...

I think I might go with the "ladies of mystery" pose, although I probably will just break down and have Jason retake the photos. I don't think my muscles are up to holding the camera out at arm's length that long again any time soon.

**No, not the Oobleck - the hats. Poor schmo couldn't catch a break, could he?


He looks like he just emerged from the Severus Snape's Magical Hair Shack, the very first recipient of the Defense Against the Dark Arts Super Shag. And needless to say, that look could use some work.

from Go Fug Yourself, if you hadn't guessed already ;)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I love being on the first page of google search results

"tomato gorgonzola soup"

#10 and rising, folks ... anybody want to go and click through a couple times to see if it raises me up a few notches? I will personally donate $100 to the ASPCA if we can get me to #1 by the end of the month. Who's with me on this?

Words my daughter can read

Words my daughter can read, regardless of context, font, capitalization, etc.:

Words my daughter can match to the appropriate numeral in a little matching game I made for her, but hasn't shown me she can identify in other contexts:

Boy, does she love that matching game, especially first thing in the morning when she's chock full of patience and really receptive to new things. She got all six numbers down cold this morning, and she kept wanting to add the other four she saw on the table, but I wanted to go slow so I was sure she wasn't getting overloaded.

Hey, when the kid tells me that what she wants to do this summer is learn to swim underwater and learn to read, I sign her up for swim classes and make flashcards. And so far she can paddle around with swimmies, put her face in the water, not freak out when she goes under accidentally, and sorta read eight words.

Have I mentioned recently that she's brilliant? Still can't wipe her own butt, but brilliant nonetheless.


Jason and I have a running joke that whenever my mother or I confront a new problem or challenge, the first thing we do is go read a book about it. I guess that explains why I've been scouring the homeschooling web sites for teaching tips, and I ordered a library book about how to teach your kid to read (by the folks who make Between the Lions, which Liza loves on the Chick-Fil-A kids' meal CDs she's got, but is only moderately interested in watching). The book is moderately useful, if only to sort of prepare me for how complicated the whole mess is. I'm glad I'm not responsible for teaching her all of it, just trying to get her started, because jeez, who made all these rules?

I don't remember learning to read, but I swear I didn't learn 90% of these rules, except as "Well of course c-e-i-l-i-n-g has a soft C at the beginning, that's just the way it is." How come nobody ever told me that the C is only soft if it's followed by E, I, or Y? Did I really have to learn that from a cheesy fake country song? "Certainly enough to make me cry," indeed.

The book is actually quite helpful for the analytical side of me, the part who wants to know what the heck is going on inside the kid's head while she's trying to figure all this out. And it gives a lot of benchmarks to measure her against, things she needs to learn to do before she'll be reading fluently. Plus, it's got me thinking about things like the fact that the same 100 words make up 50% of everything we read (somebody else's 100 words list here, in case you're skeptical). That sort of list would have been helpful when I was, I don't know, trying to learn Japanese in 6 weeks before we moved there, maybe?

Anyhow, the reading thing is something we're trying when she's interested, and if she loses interest I'll return the library book (and the phonics CD, and the Electric Company DVDs) and go help her learn about bugs or clay or cooking or dance or whatever she's interested in next. After all, they've got books about those at the library too, right?

Why doesn't it surprise me ...

... that today's headline about Paris Hilton had the words "tart" and "butt" in it?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Small mercies

1. When we arrived at our friends' house yesterday and found that their neighbors' kids and their friends were all playing at the house, Liza didn't dissolve into a puddle of weepiness OR demand that they all go home. She pretty much ignored them, actually, and admitted that one of the assorted strangers was pretty cool because he volunteered to help turn the handle on the ice cream maker.

2. When we babysat Liza's best friend this afternoon, both she and Liza went down for naps at the same time, virtually without comment from either of them. We expect this from Little Miss Angel Child the friend, but recent naptimes have been more off than on as far as Liza's concerned. So instead of having to deal with one or two tired, cranky preschoolers all afternoon, I had an extra 90 minutes to get ready for the dinner we were hosting tonight.

3. Tonight when Liza's 8-year-old friend hit a line drive with the plastic t-ball softball straight into Liza's thigh from less than 10 feet away, it was nothing that couldn't be fixed with a frozen pea ice pack and an apology. Technicolor bruise photos to follow later this week, I'm sure.

4. One I keep forgetting to post ... Last week Jason had to go to the dentist for his regular cleaning appointment, and we took Liza along so she could watch and see what visiting the dentist is like so hopefully she won't totally lose it the first time she goes for real. She watched Jason get his teeth cleaned ("Is he done yet? This is boring."), then she got to ride in the chair ...
She was so excited about being in the chair, the hygenist went ahead and counted her teeth and did a quick check to make sure there were no massive issues we need to take care of.
See that? Not only is she not sitting on my lap, she's not even holding my hand, and she's not attempting to strangle the lady or bite off her hand. Liza was completely calm the whole time, and she really liked the hygenist, so I think we'll go ahead and try to schedule her for a real cleaning as soon as we can. Strike while the iron is hot, or rather, while the kid has good memories of the dentist's office (and the stickers and prizes she got to take home when she left).