Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Just Because It's Pretty & Today's Not

This past weekend in my garden:

Today we're getting anywhere from 1 - 4 inches of rain. There are flood warnings galore, I daresay for every river in Maine. Things have been greening up nicely around here, but this storm is going to open mowing season with a flourish. Ten minutes of sun tomorrow, and I'm confident the grass will be a foot high.

When the kids got off the bus, they tossed their schoolbags inside and slogged across the yard to examine the creek, like a mini-Army Corps of Engineers. They stood on the band for awhile in slickers and boots, gazing on the raging torrent that used to be their favorite playspot.

"Well, two of our bridges washed out," Bear informed me grimly when they came into the house. They've been working for weeks, piling "perfectly good wood" from our scrap pile across narrow stretches of the creek to form bridges, building dams from rocks to create "water bug sanctuaries", and toting buckets full of mud and stones around for God-knows-what. One thing I've learned through these years of mothering is not to ask questions if you don't want to know the answers.

Secretly, though, I think they're pleased. This means they get to start from scratch as soon as the rain lets up.

Monday, April 28, 2008

2008 Egg Hunt

It was a nail-biter. I'm not going to lie to you. Although we woke up to a sunny day, it quickly turned cloudy and cooler. I kept weather.com on constant refresh on my laptop, nervously watching the progress of a band of rain creeping closer and closer to us. When people arrived a littled after 10:00, the rain had already made it to Farmington. By all counts, it should have started raining just as the kids started hunting. Yet, miraculously, it held off until the the very last person left around 1:00. I have no idea what happened. I'm going with divine intervention. (Thanks, big guy!)

We had a lot of new kids this year, so it was especially fun to watch their faces as they gazed out at the 1,000+ eggs carpeting the lawn and dangling from trees. Seeing the kids case the eggs as they stand on the driveway with their empty baskets ties for my favorite part of the egg hunt with the moment when I ask the kids (29 this year) to gather around for the rules and they cluster around, totally silent, alert, and ready to get on with it.

Then I yell, "Go!" and they go completely berserk. Hee hee.

Bug was an egg-collecting machine this year.

After all the eggs are collected, the kids plunk down in the driveway to open their eggs. Some eggs have candy, some have "Bunny Money." They're trying to hurry and find all their Bunny Money, so they can head into the garage to the Bunny Store.

The Bunny Store is always loud, chaotic, and crazy. The kids get to spend their Bunny Money on pencils, little toys, bubbles, gum, etc. They looooooove spending the money. And I'm sure all the parents just love me for letting their kids buy dollar store crap. Who cares? It's fun! And, yes, I am Oriental Trading Company's best customer.

So, overall another success. Only two kids fell in the creek, and I think the "falling" part was mostly invented when their parents saw how muddy they were and freaked out. I ate way too much, but as hostess I felt it only polite to sample every dish. Right? I mean, I wouldn't want to be rude, you know.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Please Send Sun.

Tomorrow is our Delayed But Still Fabulous Egg Hunt, and the Weather Channel is calling for morning showers. I've been logging on to their website like an obsessive maniac since Thursday evening, watching the precipitation probability waver from 30% to 10%. Today it's up to 40%, and for an extra-special fillip, the showers are predicted for exactly the same hours as the egg hunt. This after a succession of dry, gorgeous, unseasonably warm days. Crap. Crap. Crap.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Overheard in the Car

Bug: Bear, quit hogging the libretto!

(while following along to "Phantom of the Opera" in the van)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Letter to My Children

Dear Girls,

Your father and I would like to think that we have bestowed certain genetic gifts upon you. You have, for example, both been born with copious thick brown hair, lovely deep brown eyes, nice eyelashes that will come in handy for batting at the boys of your choice, quite decent intellect, and impressive height. Granted, this last trait is going to seem like more of a curse than a blessing for awhile. I'm specifically thinking of junior high here. I seem to recall writing "I feel like such a freak." in my diary after returning home from yet another school dance where the tallest boy came up to my armpit. Later, the tallness will rock. I promise.

Additionally, we have tried to instill in you certain cultural advantages: good grammar and pronunciation, an appreciation of nature, music, and the arts. By the age of four, you were both able to sing along with every Broadway cast recording I own. This became somewhat disturbing when Hannah began crooning "Two Ladies", the song from "Cabaret "about a menage a trois, while playing with her dolls. But still. STILL. I ask you, how many four-year-olds have even heard of "Cabaret"?

There is one area where we've failed you miserably. When in comes to athleticism, your father and I both have a great big sucking void of inability, which is only exceeded by our lack of interest. And, unfortunately, we seem to have passed that void on to you. Especially the sucking part.

This became clear when I watched you both, ahem, "roller blading" yesterday. I don't know if you're aware of this, but most people? When they roller blade? They MOVE FORWARD. While upright. And there's generally a lot less clinging, shrieking, and plunging to the ground. I expected a lot of spills and unsteadiness when you first got the blades. Two years ago. Your average person would have caught on by now. I say this with love and empathy.

My first week of ninth grade, I noticed a strange phenomenon. A lot of the high school teachers seemed to be pointing at me and talking about me as I passed through the halls. I was mystified in a paranoid sort of way, until the second week when I was approached by my gym teacher, Mrs. Reyes and two of the male gym teachers, all nattily clad in polyester shorts with whistles dangling from their necks. They all seemed pretty excited as they asked me to walk over to the gym with them. The high school hadn't had a winning girl's basketball team in years! And I was so tall! Did I play? No, I told them gently.
Well, just for kicks then, could they see my lay-up? I took the basketball from one of the male coaches. I asked them what a "lay-up" was. Their smiles faltered, but Mrs. Reyes gamely demonstrated for me. Looked easy enough. I bounced the ball and charged blindly toward the basket, tossing the ball vaguely up as I got near. When I turned back, all three teachers wore carefully blank expressions. Could I try one more time? Sure. I gave it another shot, forgetting to dribble this time. Their faces were grim as they thanked me for my time and walked me back out of the gym. No one ever mentioned basketball to me again. So, you see, I know of what I speak.
Your father has many childhood stories of being coaxed into playing catch with Grandpa that he can share with you. Most of them involve him being wet-his-pants terrified whenever Grandpa winged the baseball at him. Based on the cringing and ducking I saw whenever a softball was thrown your way last spring, Bear, I'm guessing you will relate here. It's OK. You come by it honestly.
It's 100% not your fault that this is what happens when you "roller blade."

Here, Bug has just yelled over to me, "Look, Mom! I'm totally doing it!" I didn't bother pointing out to her that she was on the grass...

...because one second later, she fell. Which is really pretty sad, when you think about it.

Bear positioned herself on the slight (.00001%) downhill grade of the driveway and coasted toward the basketball hoop, reaching out to clutch madly at it as she approached. Then she would look at me for praise.

There was a whole lot of this:

And a whole lot of this:

Don't worry, girls. We still love you even if you aren't star athletes. In fact, we probably love you more.




It has been brought to my attention by none other than my own BROTHER that this blog is getting "stale" as there has been no new content lately.

All in favor of making his blog moniker "Mr. Pickypants"? Show of hands? Any better suggestions?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Let's Not Get Ahead of Ourselves...

It is finally gloriously spring here! We have:

Sun - check

Chirping Birds - check

Warm breezes - check

Crocuses and (almost) daffodils - check

Greening grass - check

I told Bug exultantly the other night that it was supposed to hit 70 degrees by the end of the week. She leaned forward excitedly, "And we usually get our pool out when it's in the 50's, right??!"

Uh, no. Sorry, kid.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Daughter the African

Last night was "Country Night" for the Stretch classes at Bear's School. Each kid chooses a country and spends several weeks researching it, writing a report, and creating a visual display board. They are also responsible for dressing up like a person from that country and bringing a representative food to Country Night. There were some great country choices: India, China, France, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Ireland...

What does my kid pick? Well, the fifth graders were limited to a country from either Africa or Asia. I lobbied hard, HARD, for China (we have artifacts from Nana's China Trip! I could make stir fry!), but Bear let a classmate with an adopted Chinese sister take China. Wuss. "Fine," I tell her. "That was nice of you. What did you pick?"
"Tanzania", she tells me. TANZA-FRICKIN'-NIA! Tip: not a lot of research material out there, folks. Or photos. Or recipes. Or, well, anything.

Still, she (we) managed to cobble together a pretty decent project, and as a bonus it turns out that my kid looks darn cute in a turban. She had a minor moment when I pulled her bangs back under the turban (according to her, she is "ugly" without bangs), but I raked her bangs back out from under the cloth and narrowly averted a full-scale preteen hissy fit.

And a more full-length costume shot, along with her "Moroccan" friend:
Here is her entire project. Notice that she even painted a picture of Mt. Killamanjaro, which I thought was a nice touch.

Finding a food to take was a little dicier, since several of the recipes I managed to dredge from the depths of the Internet called for goat. Um, no. Two called for bush meat. I had to look that up, although I suspected I knew where this was heading. Yup, "primate, rodent, or ungulate" foraged from the surrounding area. Mittens came close to being a candidate for bush meat this week, but I thought the children might be upset. We made bread with coconut milk and cardamom, and a Fruits of Africa pie with mango, pineapple, and oranges. Both quite good. Who knew?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Mittens Is the Antichrist

I just walked into the kitchen to find Mittens on the table LICKING it. When I shrieked (there's really no other word), she just looked at me calmly, like What? Is this a problem?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Dance Recital...or Why I Became an Alcoholic

Let it be known that their hair was carefully curled and be-glittered, their costumes were pressed, all of their many hairpieces and accessories organized, AND they were on time for every performance. If I'm being strictly factual, I would also have to admit that they subsisted for four days on snacks and McDonald's, as we were usually either: a. on our way to a performance, b. backstage, or c. on our way home from a performance. They also didn't get what could be characterized as a normal amount of sleep for four days. But, dang it, they had a ball, and they were so proud to be up on stage doing their meticulously rehearsed dances that it made me a little bit teary every time I watched them.

Bear, doing her tap routine:

Bug, doing her tap routine:

Bear, doing her jazz routine to Michael Jackson's "Thriller":

Bug, doing her ballet routine:

Bear, doing her ballet routine:


Friday, April 4, 2008

It's Dance Recital Week!

It's been a jam-packed week without a lot of time to blog, but here are a few pix of what's been going on at Casa de Jenn.

Nana arrived on Tuesday. She's either incredibly game or perhaps not-so-bright to electively visit us during Dance Recital (Hell) Week. It's a week of very little sleep, lots of McDonald's, more glitter and hairspray than your average drag queen uses in a year's time, and progressively cranky kids (see: lack of sleep) as the week wears on. Still, Nana wouldn't miss it, and the girls ADORE having a captive audience member who tells them they're fabulous no matter what.

Here's a little preview of dance recital pictures taken last night at dress rehearsal. There will be more to come later in the week.