Monday, December 31, 2007

Random Bits

When Jack rides on his scooter he peddles with his left foot and his right foot is on the scooter. Dean peddles with his right foot. It’s as automatic as the sunrise.

When dealing with a Lego kit, Jack wants to put it together exactly as directed. Dean claims he wants to help but really only wants to make off with little pieces to build his own thing. Once it’s done, Jack isn’t so interested in playing with it. For him, the entertainment is in the building. Dean wants to play with the completed project but will often take it apart and redesign it to fit his own vision.

As I have mentioned before, Jack loves to help me cook. Last evening, after I had chopped some fresh basil and fresh oregano Jack leaned down to smell the oregano and then got this beatific expression on his face, sighed and said, “mmmm, it’s minty”. I leaned down for a sniff and sure enough, it has a minty scent. Is it possible I have a budding chef on my hands? Oh, that would be amazing.

The other day Dean said to me, “I know how you can tell me and Jack apart. Jack’s eyes are like circles and mine are like almonds.” Really. Where does he get this stuff?

We had a babysitter last night so we could go to our friends’ house for a little after dinner party of appetizers and karaoke. I got forced into singing “Achy Breaky Heart” of all the ridiculous things. I love to sing but get embarrassed doing it in front of people I don’t know. It’s silly but I still care too much what other people think. It’s something else Jack and I have in common.

Dean has a remarkable singing voice, full of emotion and vibrato. I love listening to him sing but he gets self conscious if I ask him to sing and then he uses a baby voice or a silly voice. So, I just have to enjoy his singing when it comes naturally and make sure not to let him know I heard him. I vividly remember singing in the back seat when I was not much older than Dean - I’m sure it was loud and off key - and my dad turned the volume down suddenly and it was just my voice. I still remember how embarrassed I got. I don’t want Dean to feel like I’m trying to catch him or embarrass him. I just want him to sing. Not that I think my dad was trying to embarrass me - it’s just how I felt.

The boys are playing well together this morning. Finally. I love sitting here watching them with their heads bent toward each other, talking about how they’re going to play, what the game is. “And then, you pretend like you fell off the boat? And I’ll come to save you?” It’s so beautiful when it’s real.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Long Overdue Christmas Post

Buche de Noel

Brotherly love

Ready, set, unwrap! Note the time in the upper left corner.

We cleaned up as we went otherwise you couldn't see the boys.


Jack tells me that his favorite present was the Leapster and Dean's favorite is his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle "Donatello" and the weapons that accompanied it. His favorite weapon is the ninja stick. He demonstrated how it's used and in his sweet, sweet voice told me how you use it to "choke" someone. Nice.

The day began at roughly 6:01am. We forced them to wait until we at least got the coffee brewing. We just aren't civilized until we've had a cup 'o joe. But oh, it was magical. Their exclamations of surprise that Santa ate the cookies and drank the special Christmas milk (eggnog) and the reindeer ate the carrots! And all the presents! They covered the floor under the tree, blocking the path from the living room to the dining room.

After that, it was pretty much one big adrenaline rush that hasn't really ended. They haven't napped in days - except for Dean. He finally was so tired yesterday that he fell asleep in the shopping cart and slept for over 2 hours. They've been mostly at each other's throats with brief moments of affection and I am sort of looking forward to going back to work. Except, I don't really want to go back to work - I just want them to go back to school!!

And now, I'm thinking about 2008 and my hopes and goals for the year. But that will have to wait until later as the morning is getting away from me and I'm late for the shower.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Conversation

Dean: Daddy, did you see this? (Shows him 2 feathers each with a heart strung onto them)
Daddy: No, they're very nice. Where did you get them?
Dean: I made them. One is for me and one is for Mommy. Do you know why it has a heart on it?
Daddy: No, why?
Dean: Because I love Mommy. She's all the Christmas I need.

Southern California Snow

First we dump the 'snow' on the boys.
Then they make snow angels.

Dean takes a break.


Jack takes a leap.

Spidey makes an unexpected appearance.

Spidey and Robin take a tumble.
Jack and Dean in the box.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Unexpected Gifts

I received a call today from a friend of mine whose son went to the daycare with the boys. She told me that her son wondered if we'd like to drop off Jack and Dean at their house to play for a couple of hours so Tom and I could have some alone time together.
Why, yes Frank thanks for asking!

So, we dropped off the boys and we went to the movies! We haven't been to a movie together since the late 1900s so this was a great gift. We saw "Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street".

What's black and white and red all over? Sweeney Todd. I love me some Johnny Depp and he didn't disappoint. The production design was amazing - black, oily London filled with corrupt characters, the only color the splash of red when Todd works his blade on his unsuspecting customers. Helena Bonham Carter was equally good and Alan Rickman plays a perfect bad guy as the judge who ruins Todd's life.

Three hours later, we were picking up the boys (to their disappointment) and heading home. I'm glad we took them up on the offer and that all our shopping, cleaning and laundry was already done. I'm not very good at taking advantage of these kind of opportunities. Even today, my first impulse was to say no. But with no pressing chores nagging at me, what reason was there to say no?

As we drove to the theater, I felt almost giddy. I am so excited about Christmas this year, thrilled to be done with all the shopping and wrapping but looking forward to seeing the boys' faces as they open their gifts. I feel so lucky.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Last night Jack came into the kitchen and offered to help me make dinner. As he scampered off to wash his hands, I thought about how he could help. When he returned, I told him he could slice the mushrooms. I cleaned them for him and he sliced them using one of these:

When he was done, he asked what else could he do? I told him he could chop the onion and garlic using one of these:

Then, I handed him the cleaned green beans and showed him how to trim them. He trimmed the ends and snapped them in half (except for the long ones, he wanted them to stay long). While he did that Dean stirred the onions and garlic in the pan. And added salt. Pinch after pinch of salt. Until I realized what he was doing and moved the salt. I must have caught him in time because it was fine but I wonder how much salt he would have added if I hadn't?

It was really nice having them help me. Jack asks a lot of questions "why do you pound the pork chops", "why do you put the onions in", "why do onions make you cry" but more amazingly, he remembers what I tell him. When Tom got home Jack told him what he helped with and explained that onions get really sweet when they cook for a long time. Dinner was delicious and we had great family time at the same time. By the way, my new favorite food is Israeli Couscous:

It's creamy and delicious, especially when cooked in chicken broth.

Mind over matter

Due to what I believe was a simple miscommunication, I found myself stuffing bottles of wine into festive bags for distribution to various staff members. The bottles weren't from me but a simple offer to help turned into something much bigger and, once offered, help isn't something to be rescinded. So, I stuffed while I quietly fumed. Every few moments I would remind myself that this is not a big deal, that I'm being a good team member, that good deeds do not go unnoticed. I maintained a calm serenity despite my initial frustration.

I returned to my desk many cases later and clicked on my Buddhist meditation of the day (kindly distributed to me by my home page Google). It said "Turn your mind away from things which are not permanent."

How perfect.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cooker Girl

I love to cook and recently I've been recording cooking shows to give me new ideas. One of my favorites is Everyday Italian with Giada DeLaurentiis. Sometimes Jack watches with me. If you don't know who Giada is (where the heck have you been?), just google her.

Or - here's a picture:She's pretty. Sometimes Daddy likes to watch with me, too.

Anyway, so the other night Tom was tucking the boys into bed and he later told me about the following conversation that he had with Jack:

Daddy: You're so lucky to have such a nice mommy. She's nice and pretty and she's such a good cook.

Jack: Well, she's not the best cook in the whole world.

Daddy: Well, maybe not the best in the whole world but she's right up there.

Jack: She's not as good as cooker girl.

It's true, you know. I'm not as good as cooker girl.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Back in September, Tom gave me a gift certificate good for 2 cooking classes at this quaint little place. My first class, on tamale making, was tonight. It was really fun and I came home with a dozen tamales. But that's not what this post is about.

This post is also not about driving home from tamale class in the rain through towns with which I am unfamiliar. Suffice to say, the older I get the more I want to stay within a small circle near my house. But, that's not what this is about.

Here is what this post is about. I walked through the door tonight, trying to be quiet so I didn't disturb the boys, and as I walked past their room, Tom gestured for me to go in. Dean looked at me and said in the sweetest voice, "I wrote your name" and handed an envelope to me with my name on it. "Open it", he said. Carefully, so as not to rip the paper, I opened the envelope. Inside, resting between the folds of blue felt was a pair of earrings, long ones made of a dozen sparkly hearts all lined up in a shimmery row. "Do you know why there are so many hearts", he asked. No, I said. "It's because that's how much I love you", he said.

I don't ever want to forget that moment.

Monday, December 03, 2007

NaBloPoMo Recap

So, yeah we couldn't get our wireless router to work on Friday night and that's why I had to phone in the haiku. But c'mon, at least it was a Haiku! I mean, doesn't that prove I was thinking?

I was disappointed. Not that I had anything particularly brilliant to write; I was probably just going to recap the month (yawn) and write about what I would do differently. Some of the other blogs I read had themes! Themes! That's smart. I wish I had done a theme. Like Twin Tuesday or Wonderful Wednesday? Or Thinking Thursday. Snapshot Saturday?

I had other big plans too like publishing a reading list but the only thing I managed was the link to Shelfari and then I couldn't even remember all the books that I've read. I also planned on doing a recipe each week but I didn't pick a day to do that so I had to do it randomly and then I'd forget.

I liked the challenge of having to post every day but I don't think the discipline made my posts any more creative or inspiring. Instead, I just kinda felt like I was late for my assignment and oh crap what am I going to do? I'll just toss this photo up on the web and write a cute tagline for it. Then I felt guilty.

That said, I'm glad I did it and I will sign up for it again next year with a little more structure.

Right now, I'm enjoying not having a deadline.