Sunday, December 25, 2011

A short Christmas tale.

"So you want to know why Santa uses reindeer instead of Sled dogs little Jimmy?'

"That's why."

Happy Everything!

Monday, December 19, 2011

full-tilt ramble

Whoops! Dropped out of communication again. I was prompted back into making a dispatch due to the encouraging words of friends who wondered why I stopped. But a lot of time has passed and a lot of things have happened and the voices in my head are making it hard to hear the voices in my head so this will have to be point form.

-Back in October I had a terrific trip to Alberta with the kids.
-I wish very much that we were closer to my family.  I don't like  missing out on all that day to day stuff.
-E & Z got along smashingly with their cousins.
Ok, forget the point form. I am going full-tilt ramble...

It is less than a week before Christmas and my cards are all sitting in a bag on the table, not completely finished. I discovered when I wrote my  little newsletter that I dated it 2010. The document also includes grammatical and syntax errors. But of course I spent money on printing the things out before I properly proof read and damned if I am not going to send them. (Some will be sent accompanied by last year's Christmas cards which I rediscovered while doing this year's cards. Just to add to the confusion.) So be warned: If you receive a late Christmas card from me, you are not in a time warp. And I do know how to write a sentence. And I probably lost your address or wrote the wrong one down anyway.

Which brings me to my next thing: appropriate behavior and why I suck at it. This is plaguing me.
The latest comment of idiocy came just the weekend before last.
I was spending the night at a cabin in Maine. To celebrate life and mourn the recent death of a dear friend's mother. Not really a good time to be an idiot, right?
Weell,  a lovely dinner and some red wine, lively conversation, jokes, then someone brought out some glamour mags and we idled through them making fun. Celebrities came up and I started in. I believe I made a statement declaring them un-human and therefore I viewed them with complete dis compassion. (Except for the passionate loathing at being sucked in at the check out counter.)  They are like a hologram.  I think I actually said something like, "If a celebrity dies, I don't care." Way to go nimrod. I remember an awkward moment then some kind friend smoothed it over and the night went on.
Ever since though, I have wondered...
 Why would I say that? What a bad, ill-timed joke. Do I really think these people are not people? That is how Sarajevo happened. and Rwanda. and  the Nazi's and serial killers . The lack of humanity. I displayed my ability to completely dehumanize another person on this earth. I was joking, but I still said it.  Now I feel like writing a letter to Brangelina to tell them I am sorry I dehumanized them. And also, at my friends retreat?? I mean, come on! Poor taste. Poor, poor taste. So I suppose I am not a sociopath as I have been wracked with guilt about it and that prompted me to do some serious self-evaluation, which involved pondering the human status of nobel prize winners and astronauts and authors and Arab Spring protesters and Steve Jobs and displaced refugee camp dwellers... all whom I feel great humanity for, but why not celebrities?  I heard something about Taylor Swift (that singer/celebrity) being one of the nicest, kindest people, someone who the interviewer said she would like her daughter to emulate, and I thought about Matt Damon, I mean everyone loves Matt Damon. He is like super guy, going around India helping people get clean water, being socially conscious and kind and I was struck with the sense that I am prone to social incompetence, and that is pretty sad. Thanks a lot, celebrities. (Hey! Got to blame somebody eh?) Ok, Fine! I take the blame.

Other instances of social incompetence:
- I was the only female invited to a stag party where I sang "amazing grace" and ruined the party. (Apparantly that song makes dudes totally squirm.)
- My husband brought home some guys from work, telling them how cool and great his wife was and I came home in a bad mood and riuned his man party by way of bad and ill-timed jokes. Now they think I'm a harpy.
-While trying to play Christmas music at the farmer's market, I kept choking up and actually had to stop all together and play only kids songs. (Why do I DO that?!)

And that was just last week's list. (not really, but you see where I am going here.) I think I could use some lessons on how to be a proper human.

On that note, I would like to thank all my friends and family who keep sticking by me and my Hubs who has to spend the rest of his life with me. God bless you every one.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Get that boy a gun!

I get ridiculed a lot by my husband, for being a socialist, liberal, gun regulating, beer taxing, universal health care loving Canadian, and that is fine because as an American, he is unfortunalely incapable of understanding that I am right. So when he tells the kids to "eat like an American!" I shudder, but smile and exercise my Canadian understanding of his vulgar American ways. He just wants the kids to eat their sandwiches without dismembering them first. I get it. Of course, now the kids think that all Canadians dissect their sandwiches, They also might think we drive funny, change our clothes too many times before we leave the house, weep at music, and are so politically correct that we are incapable of lauging at any joke that involves poking fun at any ethnicity, culture or special need. Not like there are vulgar jokes being told in front of the kids-yet.
Next week I am taking the kids  for their yearly visit to Canada, where they will play with their 5 (almost 6!) Canadian cousins. I am excited to see my family. I don't get to see them often and I miss them a lot. But as I watch my children play, I wonder...Do they play like Americans?

Case in point: weapons.
Last christmas the kids got nerf swords, shields and  battle axe. I should say, Daddy got nerf swords, shields and battle axe under the ruse of it being for the kids. "I don't like it!" I complained. "I don't want them playing fight games and whacking each other with swords! Oh the violence! Oh the war mimicry! Oh the glorification of abuse!"
I could go on, but basically the conversation ended up like this:  Don't be such a Canadian! I did all that stuff and look at me! (Indeed) And: They are already doing it anyway, and nerfs are softer than sticks. And: This is human nature. Who are you to impose gentility upon beasts.  Don't be such a Canadian.
They got them.
I set up rules:
-you must ask, both must agree.
-you BOTH get weapons
-You bow to each other
-hit ONLY the weapons, not the person
-Bow at the end
Pathetic, I know, but I am a Canadian. I need regulations.
But I set my foot down at guns.
NO guns.

Last weekend we had a family get together at Auntie Hi-Yi's.  We get there and Emma and Zac dissapear with their cousin Isaiah, who is a good five or so years older. They emerge with an arsenal. Pop guns, guns that shoot suction cups, cap guns, guns guns guns. I must have blanched because my husband started laughing.
Anyway Zac concentrated very hard and figured out how to work the suction cup gun. His great Uncle John patiently helped.  Then he spent a long time standing very still shooting suction cups at the window in the door. Sure he had to be told not to shoot anyone in the face, but he listened and HE STOOD STILL. FOR A LONG TIME. He collected the suction cups and went right back to his spot. He must have put a hundred suction cup on that door. He loved it. He stood so still, firing off his rounds.
Eventually he ran off and I sidled up to the gun and gave it a try. It was actually really fun. I made the best of it though and soapboxed about gun violence and age appropriate toys and glorifying it and how messed up that is.
Zac reappeared just then with a sword. He let out a blood curling scream and leapt on to the deck and with a cry of  "Ninja! Ninja! Ninja!"  he whipped the sword around his head and HIYA! CHA! chopped the air all around him. scattering elderly relatives left and right. Drinks fall over. People cower.
"Get that boy a gun!" cried auntie Hi-Yi.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

the doctor's office

Off we went to the doctor's office for Zac's physical for school. The kids seemed calmly resigned to this. we have been to the doctor before, no big deal. This is a relatively new pediatrician, We had been in over the winter with a bout of pnemonia, and that has been it until now. We don't need to go there much. Emma had her physical and they both got updated immunizations last week. They knew there were no more shots coming, just Zac's physical then off to the grocery store. So this is what went down:
We get there and sit calmly to be called. I am reading some book to them.
"Zachary?" The kids turn toward the door. The redness eminating from my son's eyes should have been a giveaway, but I thought it must have been a trick of the light.
We are led to a room and that is where it all happens.
Let me just summarize it in point form:

1- Zac gets up on table and lies down stays very still. Is told not to lie down "Your not sick!" You are healthy! look at you!" Zac gets tickled. Big mistake. Proceeds to wiggle, shimmy, climb, hop up and down on the thing. Will not listen. Falls off and face plants on the floor. Is angry, not hurt.

2-Emma sees her moment and makes for the surgical gloves. She is not very stealth, Is immediately busted and begins to whine. Loudly. Yet somehow  they get a surgical glove each and beg for them to be blown up into roosters. I oblige, thinking they would chill out. Nope.

3-Doctor gives book to Zac. Emma sees no book coming for her & whining increases.
    Zac, in solidarity, throws the book to the floor because if Emma doesn't get one, he doesn't want   one. Doctor widens his eyes in scandal.  Both kids are going. They are winding themselves up and things are getting pretty loud.

4-Doctor is unimpressed with my family. Tells me that I need to restrict Zac's diet because he is chubby. (You want to know who is chubby by the way? This doctor is chubby -just saying.) Is tappity -tapping away on hs computer, no doubt firing off a plea for help to child services while simultaniously making notes on all this.

5- Kids are fighting each other over something now and I am attempting to get them to sit down in the chairs. Doctor is observing the breakdown with a teacher's pet-like sneer. questioning their sleep habits. Zac stomps on Emma's Rooster. It pops. She screams.

6- I am temporarily ignoring the doctor as I have suddenly got my hands full of feral children. If we were at the park or anywhere else in the world. I would have gotten them out of there long ago.

7- Zac, who is totally gone by this point, pulls his ninja moves on me and kicks and chops me in a 3.5 year old flurry.

8- Doctor is horrified.  He whines, " OOOooooh never hit your mother!" Thank you doctor,

9- I don't remember in what order this all went in, but in the middle of my kids loosing it in the doctor's room, right in the middle of the loudest, whiniest, most aweful part, doctor pipes up with,
"How's discipline working out for you?"

I swear I was just about to join my kids.

I can't believe we made it out of there. The bloody receptionist decided to add a cherry to it all by offering the kids a choice of stickers, oh, and would they like a pencil? Just to give them something more to process and  fight about. (She must have heard us in the room, why didn't she hide the damn things?!)  Finally they are out the door and in the car and I tell them:
"Know what guys? that doctor was writing down everything you said and did in there."
That was all I needed to say to Emma. Her eyes went very round and she got very quiet. Zac was pretty clueless so I told her to explain it to him.
I called my husband, who was just sitting down to a meeting, little did I know, and because my voice was apparantly so shrill, they all got to hear about the doctor's appointment. Apparantly it caused them to  laugh and reminisse.

I got off the phone to hear Emma say to Zac, "So the doctor will Always think we are like that. because he wrote it down. It will be there forever."
Zac: "oh I get it. I thought it was funny, but it actually is not funny."


Then they both appologized in a very true and heartfelt manner and were sweet and very quiet.

Does anyone else like to look at other drivers?  I do this compulsively and sometimes I see someone crying. This day, I was that crying driver. 10 points! I don't like feeling like the out of control incompetent parent. For a good hour I was racked with feeling like I was going to guarantee my kids were going to be fat idiots because I am a terrible mother. That feeling sucks and is best to get past it somehow.
 Indignation works. Who is this person who is telling me that my active healthy boy is chubby? He is 3! He is very short! The kid has muscle definition all over him, there just isn't much place for all that to go. And discipline? I could go on all day. Forget it. Sometimes these guys freak out. We are working on that. So is everyone else in the world. I reject a snapshot of their lives as a definition.
Every day we communicate and every day we try. Eventually we will figure it out.
If we don't land in jail first.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The most beautiful red pepper from my garden

The summer they learned to swim

however they are convinced the goggles make them swim without which they would sink

looking for trolls

having a lovely chat with our resident decapitated head, named Sarah

waiting for the bus, first day of school

Zac, being in his perferred state

Zac, at 3, riding his bike sans training wheels!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

how about a big ol' cup of bleh

Ha! I am posting in a bad mood! I defy the conventions that try to force me to only talk positive and find something cathartic about my silly little life. I don't want my bad mood to be a gateway to being a better mother and person. I want to revel in my misery and ignore all the rest. Oh the kids, you ask? Well they are watching a tv show. ON A SCHOOL DAY and it is Voltron so they will probably reinact the robo-battles on themselves and the dog for the rest of the night. But for now the little boogers are quiet so I can grumpily partake in my afternoon coffee and bitch to myself about lack of sleep and squabbling kids and too many things to do before winter comes and all the balls I have dropped this month and all the poor decisions I have made. Ever. ( looooooong list.)
I was planning on having a real femavore day. I have a bushel of tomatoes waiting for me to can, but when I turned on the water a little while ago to get started, brown horror movie sludge came out. Somebody had turned on the hose and ran the well dry again. So it is off to the hardware store for new salt for the system and jugs of water for us. And the whole time, the kids were really helpful and cheerful, which didn't help my bad mood at all. Emma singing and dancing about water shortages and trying to pick up 40 lb bags of salt is a real bad mood breaker so I had to work extra hard to hold on to my surlyness.
and on top of that, everyone around me is so bloody chirpy today. I am disgusted. Yeesh.
My husband is never in a bad mood so it is totally useless to call him. He will just make fun of me and my poor attitude then force shards of happiness into my grey soul with his sweet disposition. The nerve!

Friday, September 16, 2011

 Last weekend we were doing this:

Capt. Zac with Capt. Harris.  We saw two whales on this ride!

Pirate Princess Emma

Arg me hearty, it's Zacamaroo

Pirates everywhere. The kids were relieved they were in costume. That way the REAL pirates would think they were real too and possibly not eat them or "throw them in the hole" as Zac says.

There were many activities at the Eastport Pirate Festival:  parades, bed races, contests, food, music. It is non-stop pirates for a week across Passamaquoddy bay.
It was really fun and very silly.
There was a terrific boat race and fireworks and church suppers and yard sales and dancing, bed races and  and all manner of things. We took the kids on a "Pirate boat ride with real Pirates!"
with Eastport Windjammers. Shops and restaurants and galleries were open  and the Eastport was looking her best in swags and flags.

Everyone was very well behaved and polite, even into the grown-up hours.  We were hoping to witness  some swarthy behavior, but sadly, none.
There was dancing in the streets to a jug band from Portland and an Acadian band from New Brunswick
and dressed like pirates we all had a goodly time.
  Pirates, however are really more about  thievery,grog, scurvy,raping and pillaging, ransom, looting and the clap, right?  Cannon balling and lead balling, fearlessness and desperation, weevil tack, keel hauling, black balling and filth and rum and grog and dead man chests and stuff like that.
Pirates are NSFL.

 We contemplated what it would be like if an actual boatload of actual pirates, Gulf of Aden pirates,say, Or Red Sea Pirates rushed the harbour and ransack the town. Oh how we fake pirates would scatter.
 I do know one or two pirate types and a few more benign anarchist types up there who might be up for it. Not me though, I'd scatter.

We had some lovely walks as regular humans as well. Walking = happiness.

Back and forth and back and forth.
Ladies and offspring walking together. It was so good to share that time with you. "A great refresh" to quote Emma.

After a time like that, then 6 hrs. home turn around, drive to Boston, drop off Daddy at the airport. Get home, unpack car which immediately spews bags, clothes, stuff, shoes, food particles and kids all over the yard, in through the front door and all throughout the house. Instantly. Somehow the kids and I normalize the chaos so they can be up Monday morning  peacefully.
And then the rest of the week happened.
And now it is today.
and we get him back tomorrow. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Urinary misdemeanors

"MUM! Zac peed on the picnic table and on the bench!" When I go out to inspect the damage, there is a guilty  Zac sitting beside a suspicious looking puddle, the gears visibly turning in his head.
"it's not pee Mum! A very small cloud rained right here! Aber did it! It is juice! Emma did it! It was not me, Mum, Daddy did it! The, the Big Bad Wolf did it!" and there it was settled.  Zac even got upset at the Big Bad Wolf while he cleaned up the pee for not using the potty and making big yucky messes for Zac to clean up.

Zac has some figuring out to do with his flamboyant peeing experiments. He has peed on the kitchen table, on the stairs, on top of the toilet, in a little playing cards box (which he very carefully gave to me, like some sort of rare elixir: "Look Maam, it didn't spill!") He has peed whilst under the laundry basket thinking it was his den and he was a  bear marking his territory.(Which is a repeat offence, as foxes and wolves also den in the laundry basket and mark their territory.)  He has peed on toys,the front steps, the back porch,every sink in our house, tires, ant hills... At least he is starting to keep his clothes on now. The peeing used to accompany a streaking bonanza, with Zac zooming all over the place, naked, stopping only to pee on things. I sought help on the Internet for chrissakes. Peeing on the dog, trying to pee while riding his bike, more successfully peeing while riding his scooter. You might ask where was his mother while he was riding his bike and peeing? I was right there but somehow he ninja peed and I was too late. I suppose all boys pee on things, heck, if I could I would pee on an ant hill too, but the delight he takes in peeing is costing a toll on my sanity. "Other kids don't do this." I think to myself, looking around in puzzlement and despair, and I spy by husband taking a leak off the tree house. I 'm not laying the blame on him per say, but I do remember when Emma was potty training, we noticed her digressing. She would just stand outside, perfectly still, and pee herself. After much coaxing, she explained that she just "Wanted to pee like Daddy" Makes perfect sense.
 Now, I don't want to squelch Zac's foundling male spirit, but this has to end. Next week he is going to preschool and I don't want his teacher calling with reports of  urinary misdemeanors. I tell him that Ninjas always use the potty, remind him that he can pretend to be an bear but he is actually a human and humans need to use the potty.  and he is a great big boy now and if he wants to go to school he will have to use the potty every single time! But really what can you do. I am sure this is a life long joy that the males of the species all share. Now excuse me, I'm going to go pee outside somewhere.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Jeepers. it's been a while. Summer time is blasting by. Emma is starting kindergarden tomorrow. The garden is overgrown. We might just get one more camping trip in before it is all over for another year. I wonder if it will go as well as our last trip. If I was a Victorian matron I would word the events in a letter that would go like this:

My Dearest Mrs. Confuffle,

It joys me to inform you of our recent trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Where My loyal husband and I decided to take the children for a convivial turn on the Saco river. The weather was pleasant and we had plenty of suptuals and drink to hold us off against even the most remotest hungars and thirst. Our 5 year old daughter and 3 year old son had just completed swim lessons and busied themselves in the shallows, swimming about like little smelts! After a spell we took to deeper waters teaching the children the wonders of  being in a canoe. We spied before us a rather perfect log. Placed in the water just so, it was a prime jumping in spot and we promptly paddled to it. I remained stalwart in the stern, keeping the canoe against the current, pressed to the log where the children and husband could jump in. Oh what fun! Little Zachary leaping off the log, little Emma-Lynn having none of it and Father jumping in most of all.
Father decided to climb back in the canoe after a turn, and Mrs. Confuffle, bless my soul, didn't he then simply swamp the boat with his efforts! Indeed suddenly, everything was underwater! our food basket and paddles and bags and snorkels all lifted themselves up and gently began floating away. I found myself still sitting in the canoe with water up to my neck,  Emma-Lynn, in her most convincing banshee shriek took it upon herself to inform us of every passing event, punctuated by "HELP! HELP!": The paddles are floating away! Help! Help! The food is floating away! Help Help! My brother is floating away! Help! Help! etc.  Zachary thought the whole affair was put on for his amusement and floated away clapping and giggling. The dog tried to get on my head until I convinced him that was a poor idea by shotputting him away. I swam around and collected our son and sundries and my Handsome and Charming husband swam the canoe to shore and emptied it of water, then paddled out and collected us up. Only one shoe and a pair of swim goggles lost!
But I must tell you of the next day's hike, where the children walked a good few miles on their own to and around a beautiful spot called Dianna's Baths. On the way there Zachary was terribly occupied with finding trolls under all the little bridges we passed and, finding none, he was convinced they were probably all taking baths with Dianna. Once arrived at the fabled spot, all beautiful pools of water and natural steps of rock interspaced with waterfalls 5-15 feet in height, our son decided to attempt to leap off every one. Eagerly searching out his doom. To avoid heart palpitations and nervous anxiety, I decided, after an hour of grasping Zachary back from precipice upon precipice, that perhaps I would be better off having his father watch over him and I retired to the sensible company of our daughter and played princess and the frog. There was a concerned mother or two who questioned me about the boy and possibly my ability as a parent, to which I replied: "Oh this? This is nothing. Now, please excuse me." (Before I engage with you in an action that I might regret, as it would likely bring me to the gaol.) I honestly do not understand the pickled gumption of some matrons! Really! concern yourself with your own unruly brood, dear woman!
But I digress. Mrs. Confuffle, and it is a delight to see the children hiking so capably this early on.  The hike back was delightful until we ran out of m&m's (Our bribe of choice for this venture). Also the dog found  chipmunks to obsess over, which was a tad irritating as he managed to escape three times before we drove off. Actually, his third attempt was the most successful, as no one saw him leave, and thusly, we left him behind. Thinking he was asleep in the back, we didn't notice until we were almost home. Fortunately, he was promptly picked up and put into the shelter for the night and it resulted in my returning to the mountains the next day to pick him up. Thank heavens for modern services.
So my dear, I do hope you consider coming along with us on our next venture. We are nothing if not magnetized to adventure and bumbletude.
      With my fondness,
Mrs. K. M. Lincoln

Monday, August 1, 2011

Motor City part2

So, the low-down on my Detroit trip...
I took the time to google earth the place and found some great establishments to visit, but the city is really spread out so I needed transportation. Enter The Wheelhouse bike rental on the river walk. Day 1 I rented a single speed basket bike, which squeaked adorably, and day 2 I rented a hybrid which was really fun because there is so much urban wild land and the bike took me over all of it no problem. I logged over 25 miles a day. Detroit is so flat and there are plenty of places to stop and "refresh" so I barely noticed the travel. Also there are so many interesting things to see. The wonderful folks at the Wheelhouse set me up with a map marked with interesting locations and off I went. Eastern Market was my first stop. A huge indoor/outdoor market surrounded by giant Halal meat processors, bagel factories, corned beef makers, fish markets, bakeries, stuff like that. I got a hand made hat from a lady from west Africa whose hats were so architectural and totally unique. Mine was probably the most tame: a very wide brimmed, curled on one side, crown peaked with a jewel on top straw hat. I LOVE IT. Dennis felt the need to laugh at me, and I got lots of comments throughout the day, but I think they were all just jealous.
Detroit has a raw food restaurant! I tried it, it was great. 15 min later I was starving again so I found a little amazing bakery called Avalon international breads (organic, local sourced when possible) and totally indulged in a cheese pastry with local blueberries and raspberries and sandwich and coffee. Awesome.
next door to that was a great boutique then a place called the spiral collective which was a gallery, bookshop and knick knack place. Got hubby a Detroit lives t-shirt and some handmade lavender and geranium salve pour moi. There is so much cool hand crafted stuff in this city. The shop lady, Sharon and I had a great chat. Within minutes we were divulging all kinds of stuff to each other. I already said it but I'll say it again. I have not met a more open, friendly bunch. People would flag me down as I was biking to chat. Maybe it was the hat? I know Detroit has more than it's share of trouble, racial tensions and poverty and  I saw some extreme poverty, so many trashed neighbourhoods. But Detroit is fierce and rebellious (according to the graffiti I saw) and it overcomes. It makes me think about these racial divides hanging over our society,  dictating how we should expect our interactions to go with people of other races from our own. But when you are on the street, human to human, looking in each others eyes and all that, reality has an opportunity to be different .
I went to the Detroit history museum, Motown museum, lots of galleries, and lo and behold, the PuppetArt theatre for a Russian Folk tale and puppet building workshop. SO GREAT! For some reason, I was the only person over 8 to attend the workshop. Go figure.
I wound up taking some pictures with a disposable and hopefully they will turn out OK. Probably like everyone else who visits the city I got obsessed with taking pictures of the dilapidated mansions and art deco building and urban decay. Including the magnificent Detroit train depot.
Music :great
Food: great!
Greek town casino: gold lame and purple crushed velvet tackiness (we got totally lost in the vastness of slot machines and gambling tables. We really did get lost.) The sound of all the machines was like a digital remastering of heaven according to Mario and Luigi and it made me off balance. We stopped at a roulette table and watched as three rounds of dudes lost hundreds of dollars. The last guy lost 1000$ in about 5 min. He didn't look happy. We decided not to play. Instead we used the 20$ we were going to gamble with on a rickshaw ride  through Greektown.(When we finally found our way out of the casino.) Much more value for our dollar. I totally don't get gambling. Good thing too because most other vices agree with me quite well and I don't need to be saddled with any more.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

 E worries about her dreams and a while ago she listed off  bad dreams she remembers that are troubling her sleep. "Remember that dream I had about my hand falling off?" She said. She often asks me if I remember stuff, like we share a collective memory pool. She  asks me what she is thinking sometimes and gets really frustrated when I guess wrong or say I don't know. She simply doesn't understand how our thoughts are separate
"Yes, I remember, that was because your hand was squished under your body and went numb, when you woke up, you couldn't feel your hand. It didn't really fall off." 
"What about the dream where Zac got eaten by a crocodile?
and the dream where I get run over by a car with  shark teeth?
And the dream where Aber has a shark mouth on his back
and the dream where you get pulled off a ladder by a bunch of mad weeds
and the dream where I am sitting in a chair with arms and hands and feet and body parts all over me
and the dream where there are ducks with shark teeth.
There are a lot of shark teeth in her dreams.
When asked if I remember my dreams, I told her about dreaming that I was really thirsty and every time I went to turn on the tap, something other than water would come out. Emma thought that was a pretty lame dream and told me I would be better off not dreaming at all. 
Not as cool as shark teeth.                                                         


Aint I just the jet setter. Two days ago I whipped the kids up to Eastport to spend the week with Buggy and Grampy and now here I am in Detroit!  Kidless! Kidless in Detroit! It is such a strange feeling to be kidless. I feel like I'm floating. I also feel like I have forgotten something. I keep checking for my wallet.
Eastport was a very short visit but I did get to have time with wonderful friends. I wish the Hopkins clan could live in my pocket. It is the nature of life out there to be super conscious of how one lives and my friends are so wonderfully wildcrafty (Amy!) and macrobiotic (Ann!) and self sustaining (Beavers!) It is very inspirational.  I raced home the next morning to make it on time for my farmer's market gig (Which was super fun, lots of kids participating with percussion, lots of smiling faces and tapping toes, which is as close to dancing as it gets in New England.) Then up at 4am to get to the airport on time and now Detroit!

I have been wanting to come here. It seems like such an interesting city, and so far it is living up to my expectations. Driving around the power plant where Dennis is working is pretty shocking. Abandoned factories, huge apartment complexes trashed  with all the windows busted out, graffitti, ( Not the Shepard Fairey / Banksey kind.) totally sketchy, perpetually dark under-the-bridge nastyness. The other day, Dennis drove past a car completely engulfed in flames in the middle of the off-ramp. Some parts of Detroit are really harsh. Then I got down town and there are all of these great buildings and things happening. I went for a walk around and checked out the GM renaissance building which is super modern and fancy and filled with business people speaking every language from everywhere on earth.
Walking around the down town, I was chatted up by people at the stop light, waiting in line at a shop,walking down the street, everyone is so friendly. Its like Canada or something. Maybe a midwestern thing.
 One other thing I noticed in my first hours in Detroit: Fancy, fancy men. Usually in a city you get fashion ladies tripping about all over, and they are here too, but the men! I am talkng three piece suits! hats! (not baseball caps, real hats, fedoras, newsboy hats, really fancy matching-the-suit hats!) GLEE! fancy leather shoes! I guess it's motown so what should I expect, but I'm used to men who stop at clean jeans and button shirts. To see a man walking around with this much attention to detail made me want to go wash my hair and put on a skirt. I wonder how I can convince my husband to adopt this style.
my camera is in the shop getting fixed, so no pictures, too bad. I'll have to find an outdoor cafe and sketch the fancy people. and hey! I can actually do that 'cause I have NO KIDS! I can also go to the art galleries! And boutiques! and I can go into a bar and have a drink! In the middle of the day! But right now I am going to take a nap in this air conditioned hotel room.
cheers friends and family!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Keep calm and carry on

I was thrown for a loop today. I was talking to my Mum, to say bon voyage because she and Dad  are going to be out of contact for the next 20 days or so whilst they ride a refurbished fishing trawler around Greenland (!!)
 In the most offhand way, my mum says,"Oh you may not have heard yet, but your father and I had...well, we will call it a boating incident."  Then she proceeds to tell me how they came to sink their boat the other day. With them aboard. A mile from shore. Apparantly somebody *cough* forgot to replace the cover on a through-hull which is there to get at the impellar (this is a jet boat) and as they were going for "just a short jaunt" they were not totally prepared for emergency, so when the boat started to fill up with water and sink they had no flares or whatnot. They were wearing their lifejackets and the water was warm enough and some kids on shore saw the whole thing and ran for help. Mum managed to swim halfway back to shore (with one dog trying to climb on to her head) and Dad stayed with the boat. (With the other dog trying to climb up on his head.) The guy who came to rescue Mum was alone with no life jacket, but managed to get her aboard, and she felt it wasn't appropos to point out that he was not following proper boating procedures. Long story short, they all made it back to shore, boat included.  Luckily there was a
cat there to help haul the waterlogged boat out of the water and there was also a nurse (who was also diabetic!) who had a glucose moniter on hand so Mum could check her blood sugar. (Interestingly, blood sugar spikes with adrenaline, not the other way, which is what I would have expected) So there was the perfect scenario to sink a boat: Witnesses, fair weather,good water temperature, tractors, nurses, everything a man overboard could ask for. But what threw me was expectations. I honestly never expected to hear that my parents, who drilled boating safety into our heads (and general safety as well) Who have decades of boating experience, would ever be found in this situation. It is so wierd. And it is a reminder that in every day, every mundane thing you do, there is the potential for disaster, so be prepared for it. You never know what that drive down the highway could turn into, what could happen during that sunny trip to the lake. Luck favors the prepared. No matter how many times you do something, do it like it is your first time, or last. But it also reminds me that "Happy Disasters" (the ones where nobody gets hurt ) are a really good tool for jolting you into staying alert and never taking things for granted: A boat that claims to be unsinkable can sink. You are really the only thing that is looking out for you. Don't fail yourself. My parents stayed really calm as their boat sank and that is probably the most important thing of all:  Keep calm and carry on, as the Brittish said in WWII.
Happy adventures.

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's all in the way you think about it. Or as the talking heads say: It's how you frame the dialogue.
If I decide the day is a bust and the kids are out of control and there is nothing I can do about it well then that is exactly what will happen. But if I make the conscious decision that this boat is going to bloody well sail to Happy Land and drag myself out of the scuppers to do it, that happens too. A fart noise (or best of all, a real mom fart) is key. I was actually right in the middle of some horrible rant when I made this discovery. The kids were falling apart because  of she-got-the-X-and-I-wanted-it syndrome (which had been going on ALL day), and I finally cracked. Bending down to get on their level, (they, at this point were rolling on top of each other with their feet up each other's noses) to school their asses about life, a very distinct trumpet-like sound emitted from myself and it cut through the wall of crazy like a hot knife through butter. Instant giggles. Mood transformed.
It was that easy:
Act really mad, get in lecture position. A few words in, cut the cheese. Everyone giggles.
Now you can talk about the problem from Happy Land.
You're welcome.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Earth Day Puppet Show

Earth Day came early at the Massabesic Audobon Center, Auburn, NH. It was a raw, windy day but that didn't stop the brave folk who came out for music, campfire, workshops and puppet show. I have been working on a puppet show concept about compost and this was my debut. The show is about my puppet friend "B" who wants to make a compost pile. His first attempt is not so successful: old boots and plastic and meat and garbage don't compost well, so B tries again. Then, all pooped out from making me do all the work, B goes and takes a nap and misses all the micro and macroorganism shennanagins that make a compost pile turn into dirt. It was fun and fast paced and the kids got involved by holding puppets.
I will be working this show this summer at farmer's markets and such, so there will be plenty of opportunities to see it if you are in the NH area.

talking about bacteria, fungus and molds


centipedes and red wigglers

after the puppet compost has turned to puppet dirt, kids get to check out a live vermiculture compost

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hello friends and family. It has been a long 4 weeks since the last dispatch. Our house was visited by chicken pox which lasted TWO AND A HALF WEEKS. I tried to make things "fun" for the kids while they were sick but  was a bit too enthusiastic about it. Emma corrected me though. I was getting some tea party together or something, babbling about what fun we could have at home when she cut in with a wail: "Why are you trying to have fun when I am sick! It's not FAIR!"  So we spent the rest of the day like this:
After a few days we got ourselves together and did some fun stuff.
We actually spent almost a whole morning doing colour expirements with salt and food colouring then pouring it into layers in jars,  making bean flour cookies (ran out of regular stuff) and geting crafty.

Meanwhile, we had been chasing a leak around the house. There has been an occasional stream of water appearing in the basement and we couldn't figure it out. Was it the thick dam of ice on the roof melting and geting in the house somehow? There was no choice but to open up the walls and check it out. Hello Saws all!
found the leak!
 After cutting various holes in the wall upstairs and down, we found it. Turned out to be a punctured a water pipe. Happened when Daddy and cousin Ben put in wood floors upstairs. Could happen to anyone (heh heh). The leak had been intermitten because we heat with a wood stove mostly. There you go. But wielding a saws all can be dangerously addictive. Once you start you just want to keep going. I needed to talk myself down. Then we got a plumber and now we have no leak, but we do have a great assortment of holes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A while ago the kids and I were driving somewhere and the two of them were squabbling which turned into calling each other names. They got pretty inventive with this and I was entertained listening to Emma's rhyming insults ("you're a bell smell well!") and Zac's made up ones, ("You're a bizzblank CHA, Emma!") So I let them have at it for a while when Zac came out with this one:
 "You're a damnit, Emma!" To which Emma ratted, "Mom! Zac said a word on the No Say List!
The No Say List is exactly what it sounds like: An ever-growing list of words and phrases that we are not allowed to say for obvious reasons.  The No Say List is serious and we live by its constitution.
Well, Zac was told that we do not say words on the No Say List, and I lecture them about calling people names. Not to each other, not anybody else. It is rude. It makes people feel sad to be called a name etc etc.
Emma says, "But what about the ones you call focks?"
Me: "Urr, what do you mean? You mean clucks...?'
"No, Mum NOT clucks. Focks. With a FFFFF."
Me, stalling. "When do I do that? I don't remember that..."
Emma: "You do it to cars when they do something you don't like! You say, "way to go Focks" or "You bunch of Fuxes!"  THAT is on the no say list and you say it!"
Zac: "Ya maam! You say it. You go in Time Out! You bad Mum!"
Emma: "Yeah Mum, that is really bad. You make the other cars feel bad and you are not nice to do that. I am going to give you 5 more chances and if you say any more words on the No Say List I am not going to let you in my room for the REST OF THE DAY!"
Me; "Oh, well , OK then...."
Them: "You better say sorry Mum.". "Yeah, Mum. You say sorry! You Bad!"
Me: "Sorry, sorry..."
Them: "Not to us Mum, to the CARS!"
So I had to apologize to all the cars at the next stoplight for being rude and calling their bretheren names.
I went from casual bytander to lecturing moralizer to sinner in need of pennance just like that, and the kids went from attacking each other to uniting as a self righteous party united against a common foe. Human nature, you're a damnit. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

Horray for the Zacker!

Zac's birthday is only happy if I get presents too.

Then end of February. The doldrums of winter. The kids are starting to resent having to put on their snow gear every time we leave the house and I am getting tired of cajoling them into doing it. I have actually been bribing them with candy. To make myself feel like less of a cheater, I bought a bunch of "Organic Vitamin "C" pops" because that makes me feel superior somehow. "Get your stuff on and I'll give you a lolly pop!"  Alas, I have overused this method to the point where lolly pops don't really matter.  (Damn! shot myself in the foot again!) Oh for the days where I throw open the door and they bound outside barefoot and barely dressed. But should we not love every day for what it is and always remember rule #1: NO WHINING!  Suck it up and enjoy the soggy rain/snow/wind of a late New England winter! After all there is much to be thankful for. We don't suffer much from food insecurity, or political oppression, or dictators or theocrats...we can spout our poorly informed political ideologies without much recourse...but I promised not to talk politics in this forum as there are too many family members with contradictory views and anyway, I like to save those discussions for holidays and family get-togethers.

So we have been making use of all this snow by building a super duper snow fort. In it's glory days a few weeks ago it was 12 ft or so high and hollowed out with a central room and two chambers and a porthole through which we could thrust an arm and totally freak out the kids. We (read: Daddy) also built a half pipe at the top of our hill out back to generate the proper amount of speed to hurtle oneself down. Lately it has rained and froze at night making the hill as slick as oil and really, really fun. I was going to invite every kid I knew to try it out but decided that would be a poor choice for potential injury related reasons. (See? I am sensible!)
looking through the door of the cave

Daddy and Zac on top of the snow cave

Dig donkey! hi-Yaaa!

This was cool, Zac found the old cave as we dug out the new cave.

I love this picture, Zac looks so stoic

Emma waiting for the arm to pop out of the hole

A pantless apres snow cuddle with Aber. Cage also serves as Zac's bear den

The kids have been getting pretty inventive with winter activities. We still go out for our daily walk, but the excitement of looking for tracks has worn a bit thin because all we ever see are rabbits, deer, and critters.  We did find marks from crows wings in the snow, where they beat against it to take off, but no bears, or big bad wolves or yetis so Emma and Zac have come up with a game they call "Faceplant"

Amidst all this winter fun, Zac has turned three! My leap year kid was pretty excited about that and Grandma Lynn & Grandpa Bob sent a package just in time. Zac was absolutely over the moon to get a package just for him in the mail. A Canada sweatshirt and a Calgary Flames hat!
I am Three!!!
It has come to my attention that Zac and Emma don't know enough about Canada and the Monarchy that figureheads it. Grandpa Bob has been counting quarters with the other grand kids so they all know about "Lizzie with her hat on" (Queen Elizabeth & crown)  To my horror, I realized my kids are totally unaware of the Queen.  I feel like a bad Canadian. I don't even know if I have any Canadian coins here. I will have to look for some. They will also need education about socialized health care and GST, and the Canadian definition of "liberal" and crying much to learn...
But Zac is three and he had a great time. Buggy and Grampy came down and cousin Isaiah, auntie Danny and uncle Jason too. We had a fun party at the gymnastics place where even the adults joined in ( grown-ups flipping off the trampoline into the foam pit! So fun I did it twice.) and triple chocolate, butter cream frosting monster cupcakes.

worth noting: Zac insisted that he not be helped with the zip line!

Daddy having a turn with Zac's present

Buggy came in and totally went on the attack. Dennis was a tad taken aback. The rest of us wondered how long she had been awaiting her opportunity.
So now I have a three year old. A stick your tongue out, pants off, "why should I?", torture the sister, listen to no one, sneak the marshmallows, "Cha" the dragon, don't eat supper, fall off the chair, go to work under the sink, 'I just love your boobies"  THREE YEAR OLD!  Hurray for the Zacker!