Thursday, June 30, 2011

Moments with Bryan...

Bryan:  My burfday is two days before Hawoween.
Me:  That's right.  It's October 29, 2006.  You're going to learn that as part of your school next year.
Bryan:  That does NOT sound wike interesting schoolwork.


Bryan:  (runs up to me and holds dripping paper over my arm).  Mommy, Mommy it's an emergency.
Me:  (trying to take in the situation)
Bryan:  The Rat-A-Tat-Cat instructions fell in the potty.
Me:  (brain trying to tell mouth to yell "Get it away from me!")
Bryan:  Also I peed on it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Things I should have said no to today...

1.  At the self checkout line at Kroger:  "Can we help you scan everything?"  I don't think it's necessary to describe what went down.

2.  "I want you to make the Pokemon cake with the stripes."  This is the downside to a sunny disposition.  You never think it's going to be a big deal.  An hour into those stripes, I was really wishing I'd said, "But green is your favorite color.  Wouldn't you rather have a green background?"

What I actually said no to:

I hated to break his heart.  He crawled up between them and they put a seatbelt on him.  He had such hopes.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Hunger Games...

The Hunger Games had been sitting on my shelf for a few months - ever since I bought it after reading an intriguing review at Semicolon's Saturday Review.  I picked it up last week, and thirty pages in thought (a)  "I can't believe I left this sitting on the shelf for months.  This is a great book." and (b) "I must go get the sequels today because finishing this book without having them on hand is unacceptable."

Before reading any further, I have to say that I really enjoyed reading the book without having any idea what it was about.  As Jacob would say, "I'm a really good forgetter."  I completely forgot the review and didn't read the back cover.*  So if you trust me, stop here, read the book, then come back and read the review.

This post-apocalyptic book is set in Panem, built on the ruins of the former United States.  The Capitol, which smacks of ancient Rome, is peopled by a self-obsessed, shamelessly decadent group that is almost entirely without empathy for the residents of the outlying Districts.  As punishment for their historic rebellion against the Capitol, each District is forced to hold a reaping every year, a la Crete and Athens in the story of the Minotaur, in which one boy and one girl will be randomly selected to fight to the death in the Hunger Games.  Twenty-four kids enter and one survives.  The games are televised for the entertainment of the Capitol and as a reminder to the Districts of the consequences of rebellion.  

The heroine is Katniss Everdeen, a fierce 15 year old girl who has been forced to provide food for her family since her father's death.  She's good with a bow and arrow, not so much with social situations.  When her younger sister's name is drawn in the reaping, Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place.  Her time in the arena is spent moving between survival, rebellion against the Capitol and compassion for those who need her strength.  I came away from the book wanting to be cool enough to be Katniss' friend** but knowing that I would have no chance once she found out I can't live without chocolate and get really grossed out cooking boneless, skinless chicken breast. 

Here are some favorite quotes:

When Katniss volunteers to take her sister's place...
"I bet my buttons that was your sister.  Don't want her to steal all the glory, do we?  Come on, everybody!  Let's give a big round of applause to our newest tribute!" trills Effie Trinket.

To the everlasting credit of the people of District 12, not one person claps...I stand there unmoving while they take part in the boldest form of dissent they can manage.  Silence.  Which says we do not agree.  We do not condone.  All of this is wrong.
Katniss' fellow District 12 tribute, Peeta, discussing entering the arena the next day...
"I don't know how to say it exactly.  Only...I want to die as myself.  Does that make any sense?"  he asks.  I shake my head.  How could he die as anyone but himself?  "I don't want them to change me in there.  Turn me into some kind of monster that I'm not."

*  Credit for this idea goes to my father-in-law who read The Firm without having any idea what is was about.  He swears that book was so much better not knowing the storyline.  Now, if the book is recommended by someone I trust, I try to get as little information about it ahead of time as possible.

** I'm completely ignoring the issue of a twenty year age difference here.  But isn't that the sign of a good book?  It made me a teenager.  It almost made me feel disdain for people who are above eating rats and dogs and tree bark.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Not so great expectations...

When you're going to have to do something unpleasant with a lot of little kids, it's really key to know ahead of time that it's going to suck.

Exhibit A:  My plane trip with all four boys to Little Rock by myself.  I thought it was going to be no big deal.  It was horrific.  See "The Rocky Horror Southwest Show" here.
Exhibit B:  Today's experience at the DMV.

I knew that dealing with the DMV was going to suck, so I decided to go this morning while the three big boys were at VBS.  Anytime you mentally calculate how long that should take, multiply by four.  The boys had VBS from 9-12.  In any reasonable version of the universe, three hours would be plenty of time to get a new license plate and drivers license.  Unfortunately, it was not a reasonable experience.  First, while there is a Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and with google you can find an address for DMV, there is no DMV building.  You have to go to the courthouse for your license plate and to a separate building, the Department of Public Safety, for your driver's license, because you know, it would make no sense to offer both those services in the same building.  I made it through the license plate exercise and got an hour into the driver's license experience when I realized I was not going to finish in time to pick up the boys.  While holding a sleeping baby for an hour in a government office sucks,* it's even worse when you realize you're going to have to come back with a cranky baby and three more kids.  Knowing ahead of time that it's going to be horrific is really helpful, though.  You can warn the kids ahead of time that it's going to be dreadful.  More importantly, you can bribe them preemptively in the privacy of the car which is (a) much more effective (offering a bribe after they've started whining is really going to bite you in the butt in the long run) and (b) way less embarrassing than doing it in public.  So, we all survived the experience.  Things didn't get ugly until we left the big waiting room, so about 10 strangers were witnesses instead of about 100.  

Here are the big guys in that fragile state before things started to take a turn.

*Okay, I actually love holding Rand while he sleeps.  He's my baby, and I probably only have a few more months of getting to do that.

Kitchen science...

Magic with Milk

This was a great science experiment - ingredients people generally have, easy enough for kids to do on their own, cool result. Also try it with skim milk and water and compare the results.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's all about me...

At the pool last week...
Bryan:  (sounding like he's solved one of life's great mysteries)  I know why you don't want me to splash people I don't know.  It's because you know I don't want to have to talk to them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A father's day of sorts...

We started visiting churches this week.  The church we visited was very nice, but it's not going to be a good fit for us.  I came home depressed.  Part of me was hoping we'd find the perfect church on our first visit.  Chris was very sympathetic - assuring me that we'll find the right place, it just might take awhile...
Me:  You're good for me.
Chris:  I'm figuring you out.  Now I know I'm not supposed to talk about bandwidth.  (see previous post here)
Ba, ha, ha, ha...

Me:  Thank you for letting me be completely self-involved on Father's Day.  But I'm cooking for you and leaving you alone to take a nap, and that's what you really want, right?
Chris:  But you're not leaving me alone.  You're still here talking to me.  (more laughs)
Me:  So in 14 years of marriage, have you mastered the timing on those comments or have I chilled out?
Chris:  You've definitely chilled out.

Monday, June 13, 2011


The boys were looking at books in the car yesterday when we heard...

(exasperated) Would you stop talking to me. I'm trying to learn about tadpoles.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 10, 2011

Vanity Fair...

I just finished Vanity Fair by William Thackeray.  This book is like Ecclesiastes meets Mean Girls.  It's a biting social commentary on British society around the Napoleonic Wars.  Thackeray speaks to the whitewashed vanity and corruption of his time.

I've often puzzled over the social structure in high school and junior high.  There's a weird heirarchy that wasn't present for me in college, in church youth groups or in any other social group, at least with nothing approaching the same intensity.  Vanity Fair confirmed that Biblical truth that truly there is nothing new under the sun.  The same phenomenon occurred in Britian in the 1800's.

Becky Sharp is a shameless, heartless social climber who you can't quite dislike.  Born to poor and disreputable parents, an unpardonable sin, and orphaned at a young age, she makes a place for herself in the world, leaving many casualties along the way, many of whom thoroughly deserve their treatment.  Early in the book, she comes out the victor against her headmistress at school.  Becky is a sort of scholarship student and the headmistress tries to take advantage of her.  Becky roundly defeats her, in part by speaking perfect French to this woman who pretends fluency in the language but is actually ignorant of it.

Becky is contrasted with Amelia Sedley who, compared to the rest of the motley cast of the book, is a paragon of virtue and honesty.  She's a small minded and silly woman, though, and honestly, I preferred Becky.

My other two favorite characters were Rawdon Crawley and Major Dobbin.  Rawdon is a reprobate and not at all bright, but he loves his wife and son.  Dobbin is the real hero of the book.  He stays consistently above the social nonsense and cruelty.  His only real fault is his love for a silly woman.  The book left me wishing Becky Sharp had a conscience, and I think she could have been a really good match for Dobbin.

I also loved Thackeray's social commentary on his world.  Vice is perfectly acceptable as long as you hide it and don't call it what it is.  

Overall, this is one of my new favorite books.  Thanks for the recommendation, Semicolon.  

Here are some favorite quotes:

Becky Sharp needs a way to get out of town because fighting with the French is getting too close.  She masterfully manipulates a gullible and cowardly man.  She pretends he has intentions of joining the army.  He's actually terrified...
"You men can bear anything," replied Becky.  "Parting or danger are nothing to you.  Own now that you were going to join the army and leave us to our fate.  I know you were - something tells me you were.  I was so frightened, when the thought came into my head (for I do sometimes think of you when I am alone, Mr. Joseph), that I ran off immediately to beg and entreat you not to fly from us."

This speech might be interpreted as, "My dear sir, should an accident befall the army, and a retreat be necessary, you have a very comfortable carriage, in which I propose to take a seat."
Of cattiness...
Women only know how to wound so.  There is a poison on the tips of their little shafts, which stings a thousand times more than a man's blunter weapon.

Of the surface level morality of his society...
...the most squeamish, if not the most moral of societies.
We must pass over a part of Mrs. Rebecca Crawley's biography with that lightness and delicacy which the world demands - the moral world, that has, perhaps, no particular objection to vice, but an insuperable repugnance to hearing vice called by its proper name.

And Thackeray's overall commentary on the vanity of wealth and success...
Be gentle with those who are less lucky, if not more deserving.  Think, what right have you to be scornful, whose virtue is a deficiency of temptation, whose success may be a chance, whose rank may be an ancestor's accident, whose prosperity is very likely a satire.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pain and suffering in the household h...

At lunch on Sunday...
Bryan:  (crying hysterically, heart broken)  Jacob hurted my feewings.
Me:  What did he say?
Bryan:  (crying between words)  He said raise your hand if you like cake, and I raised my hand, and then he said it was a poopy cake.  (more outraged tears)
Phone conversation later on that day with my favorite pediatrician after more antics at the household h...
Me:  Theoretically, if you were to vigorously squirt water up your nose, could it hurt your ear?
Dr. Janet:  (amused)  Yes.  (something about your nose and ear being connected that I only vaguely understand)  Did he bleed from his ear?
Me:  No.  He was really hurting right after the water gun incident.  Then he was fine for a few hours.  Then it started hurting him horribly again when I asked him to help clean up the gameroom.
Dr. Janet:  (laugh)  I think he's fine.
WARNING:  If you fire these water guns straight up into the air, don't lean over to watch. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Still a lot...

So I'm rediscovering what I already learned while packing the house in Virginia. Four kids is a lot of work. That doesn't stop just because you have a lot of extra work to do. One of the upshots of maternal neglect has been that they've done a lot of art work. David made a cash register out of empty boxes.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Popular Posts