Thursday, March 31, 2011


I took Eclair to a yard sale. There she spied a very very cute teacup sized doggie. I overheard the following conversation while browsing picture frames.

Eclair: Is that dog an orphan?

Yard Sale Lady: No, it's our dog. She lives with us.

E: Oh. Because if she was an orphan I could take her home and she could live at my house. Are you sure she's not an orphan?

YSL: No, her name is Sophie. You can play with her, though. But don't take her home. We would miss her.

I watched Eclair after that, she really seemed convinced that the dog wasn't getting enough love and should go home with us instead. And where did she learn about orphans, anyway?


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Digital Photography

I really have made the transition from film to digital grudgingly, kicking and screaming all the way. The whole "molcules vs. pixels" argument is still a hot one for me. I miss film. It was a wonderful, subtle thing. But the ability to "shoot away," eternally flexible ASA and the ease with which things can be edited appears to have won out.

For example, when you have "undesirable" object in your background.

El Guapo was concerned about the riff raff hanging about in the background. I assured him I could make them disappear. I didn't realize how easy that would actually be.

See those big old feet in the white tennis shoes over there?

They belong to him:
Thing Two, Moving Day!
Why, yes! That is my son, Thing Two. He was hanging about at a local park (the furthest one from our house in the city) with a GIRL! A very nice girl, who he has been attempting to hide from us. We like her, as best we can when he has been doing his level best to keep the girl from meeting us... so he ran away as soon as he realized that we were there taking photos (after I kicked him in those big white skis he's got).

What? Are we too weird or something? Are we SO bizarre that he is afraid she will run away if she spends any amount of time with us?

Okay, so we are.

You gotta problem with that?

Prolly not since you haven't clicked "next blog" yet...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

El Guapo's gettin' married!

Remember my cute nephew who was making the quiche last spring for that lovely young lady he was dating? Well, they're getting married! And Eclair is in alt. El Guapo's girlfriend has been one of Eclair's besties since she first came to a family dinner 'bout a year ago. We like her, she's just about as crazy as the rest of us.

So we went and took the obligatory "Engagement Photos" the other day, and I thought I would share them with you.

So it looks like we'll be going home to California for a June wedding at the Los Angeles Temple. WOO HOO! Eclair gets to be a flower girl, and she's a wee bit excited.

Welcome to the family, Felicity!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hearing voices...

Once upon a time there was an exceptionally stupid mother (me). She took the advice of a neighbor, who happened to write video games for a living, about purchasing a game for a teenage boy. She bought the recommended game for Thing Two's birthday, and a monster was born.

Ever heard of Halo?

No? There must not be any adolescent boys in your household. Or adult males who behave like adolescent boys....


Thing Two plays Halo nearly every waking hour. He does bathe and eat occassionally, but mostly he plays Halo. I don't really understand much about the game. Or why someone would play for 16 hours at a stretch. I think it has something to do with shooting at everything in your line of sight. And blowing stuff up.

I tell the boy to stop. "Please, there are better things you can do with your life!" and "This is really not preparing you for life in the real world, by the way." He listens not. He sits there having very animated conversations with people half a world away.

Yesterday I wrote down everything he said to the imaginary people he plays this game with. Using his actual words, let's apply what he's yelling into the headset to a real life situation:

Boss at work: "Have you cleaned Theatre One yet?"
Thing Two: "I think that's as destroyed as it gets. I'm gonna 'nade it, watch out."

Mother: "You need to get your laundry done and clean your room."
Thing Two: "I don't think having the warthog is an advantage anymore."

Bishop: "How are things going for you, son?"
Thing Two: "I think I'm retarded.
Bishop: "Is there anything I can do to help you with your goals?"
Thing Two: "OH NO! NO! OH...awwww. I'm dead."

Person on the street: "Can you give me directions to the mall?"
Thing Two: "There's two jackals you won't have to deal with if you go this way."

Poor girl on a date with gormless son: "What do you think of my best friend?"
Thing Two: "BANSHEE!"

Friend at a party: "Help me out, dude, where did our dates disappear to?"
Thing Two: "Dude, they're on your six. Dude, your six! DUDE!!!! YOUR SIX!!!!"


Well, that's pretty much the dialogue you would hear if you spent any time at our place. I'm hoping that someday he will grow out of this. If not, I will just have to get used to it. It's just a wee bit discouraging to have my first conversation of the day start out:

"Hey, I'll just kill you and you can spawn over there."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Can YOU breathe fire?

An incident occurred at the Sweet 16 party that I have failed to report until now.

Eclair learned how to breathe fire. Or vapor anyway.



Because you will likely end up at the ER like we did.

It started out like this: I sent Eclair to bed thirty-five times, and she did not go. She kept sneaking back upstairs, because there was a party going on, and she didn't want to miss out on anything fun that the big people were doing. So I gave up sending her to bed and let her have some punch.

Here is where I give the warning: DO NOT let small people serve their own punch when there is dry ice involved. Yoda Soda is lime sherbet with lemon-lime soda and dry ice. A very small piece of dry ice was stuck to the ice cream in her serving, and she swallowed it whole. Then she started to burp.

Eclair has always been well known for what we call "Barney burps." Not the dinosaur. This Barney:

So, she swallows the dry ice, starts up with these tremendous burps, accompanied by enormous clouds of vapor. Everyone is cracking up, like she's the entertainment.

Then the barfing begins.


So, I call Poison Control (wonderful people, at Poison Control. So level-headed and calm.), they tell me to call my doctor, right now. So I call the doctor and get the answering service (as the after hours pediatrician went home thirty minutes before), and the doctor calls me back: take her to the ER, right now.

Who woulda thought a little dry ice could be such a big deal? We were at the ER until after 2am, and THAT was a joyous experience. All the girls went, because the boys don't love us and didn't care one bit (actually, I'm sure they do, it's just that as girls, we are incapable of going anywhere without an entourage).

Don't forget the silky blankie and the platypus.

The best part of the ER visit (apart from excellent doctors and getting to go home intead of being admitted) was the "pediatric" room in the ER. I had no idea that they had one whole room decorated just for little patients. Whether the decor is good or bad for the little people I will leave for you to decide. I will merely show you what it looks like (photo disclaimer - all photos taken with my horrible cell phone camera so they stink):

I must say that the flying elephant has me a little concerned. Or maybe the elephant has gone carnivorous and is about to pounce on the giraffe? Either way, a little disturbing.

Oh! Look!

There is also a flying zebra. Set to pounce on this:

This terrifying Screamapillar. Or maybe it wants the "bananas" over there on the left. I think they are bananas? I hope they are bananas.

Here's what you should REALLY be worried about:

This slightly deranged and loopy Thing One who is up past her bedtime.

 Fear not, gentle reader, for Eclair has recovered! Minor burns in her throat which allowed her to live on ice cream and smoothies for three days before returning to school. Lucky duck.


and dry ice.

A vocabulary lesson.

Eclair is a little person in a house full of almost grown-ups. And she wants SO badly to be a big person. She doesn't want to go to bed if everyone else is up - thinks it is SO unfair that she has to go to bed at 8:30 when the 21 year old sister she shares a room with doesn't even start thinking about bed before eleven p.m. She "borrows" that same sister's clothing from time to time, even though things don't quite fit...

So, she looks for ways to be bigger, and it mostly shows up in her vocabulary. She wants to use the big words, mostly with hilarious results like these:

"I know I should-haven't, but I just couldn't help it!"

"Where is that book I like? The one about the callerpitter?"

"Victor says I'm stupid, but that's just preposterous." (that one just made me laugh because she used it RIGHT!)

"I can't belive Muffin was eating that! It was as-gusting."

"Well, it was giving me problems, but I just dealed with it."


Friday, March 11, 2011

Borrowed grandchildren

Happy birthday to my Seeeester! She's REALLY REALLY old. Seriously. So, so close to least closer than me!

So today I post about her lovely grandchildren who I have the happiness of tending twice a week. Because they are adorable and fun. And then they go home before they get grumpy. I can really understand why grandma's love grandkids. But I'm not ready for any quite yet, because I'm not REALLY REALLY old like my sister yet...

So Pedro and  Gabbie were visiting this week, and Gabbie got out her favorite toy. You know how it works: the favorite toy must be the LOUDEST and MOST DIFFICULT TO USE FOR HER AGE and HAS THE MOST SMALL PIECES IMAGINABLE SO THEY CAN BE MISPLACED AND/OR PAINFULLY TRODDEN ON.

For Gabbie, it's the marble drop.

If I had to describe it, I would have to say it's something like Chinese water torture. The marbles keep dropping. and dropping. and dropping. Endlessly. In this one instance, the attention span of a two year-old is 72 hours straight. She never tires of it. Ocassionally, she will put in too many marbles at a time and they get jammed up in the intersections. And then she gets mad. Really mad. Like this device is deliberatly conspiring to deny her her rightful entertainment and joy. I must say that my favorite part is when they get jammed, because the endless dropping ceases for a moment...

Somehow, there are always a few marbles that escape when it's time to clean up. The easiest way to find them is to just walk across the room as if you were a normal person with nothing to fear from your carpet. It hurts a bit (especially if you have advanced artrhitis like me) to step on a marble. Especially if you're not expecting it (although why you would step on a marble on purpose I cannot imagine). So I blew a gasket at Eclair (because I have delegated all Gabbie-cleaning-up-after to her) and told her to round up all the marbles so I wouldn't keep stepping on them! When I came back in the room, this is what I found:

Who knew she would take "rounding up the marbles" so literally.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sweet Sixteen Party - On a Budget

Yeah. On a budget.

I'll never be on one of the tv shows about over the top Sweet Sixteen parties. Because frankly, I have other things to spend my meager funds on. Like food. And shelter.

But, man, we had one amazing and fun party last weekend. And we didn't break the bank.

Our Invitations were CUSTOM home by me & my kid. Screamapillar and I spent under three dollars on paper and embellishments, and made 45 invitations. Why 45? Because I'm so very stupid...

The larger group was invited via a facebook event, and that was free. I got pretty lucky, actually, as many of her friends are drama kids who were unable to attend due to a play performance that evening followed by a cast party.

It's not a party until you Decorate. For us this means 47,312,061 curled ribbons hanging from the ceiling. This is skilled labor, because they must be perfectly curled....or not.

Usually, decorating involves an exorbinant amount of balloons as well, but there was an....incident....that prevented me from making it out of the house even once the entire day (okay, I was violently ill and sleeping for much of the day where I wasn't tossing cookies, so it was a really good thing that I wasn't involved in any food prep and that Wren came over to play "auxillary mom" because anyone who had any usable skills was elsewhere on Saturday!). So we used what we had on hand: water balloons. And more ribbon. I did not spend a dime here, as everything was already in the party box. Oh, wait - I did buy a roll of tape.

No comments are necessary on the lameness of my front door. We did our best. And yes, it needs to be painted. I will welcome suggestions as to color. Back to the party commentary, please.

Choose your battles. Yes, I make and decorate great Birthday Cakes. But I knew that I would be cleaning and decorating the house until the last minute, and I was expecting the population of Madagascar to show up, so I cheated and ordered one from Costco. Thank you, Costco. You never disappoint. It was yummy, and cute, and all I had to do was send Hubby to pick it up.

It had the added bonus of being an item that was to be intentionally lit of fire.
Teenagers + Fire = Fun.

Teenage boys eat lots of Food. I know this because I have a lot of experience with teenage boys. They live at my house AND date my daughters. And they eat (so do teenage girls, but they are more discreet and less desperate looking about it). So meager bowls of candy and chips would likely be insufficient for the hoard that was expected to invade my domicile. Solution? Nacho Bar! I worked concessions at the University, and ran concessions for the football games at the high school for a couple years as a choir fundraiser. Nachos were always a big hit without a big outlay of cash. I also had some grapes and carrots with dip - seriously - if I made a veg tray, they would only have eaten the carrots anyway. Then lemonade and water to drink. Oh, and the Yoda Soda (pictured below). They liked it. They were happy. And I was not depelted of funds.

Entertainment was easy. Teenagers are easily amused, and generally can entertain themselves. I helped the process along a bit by making a Very Embarrassing Video of the Screamapillar, which I made the group watch. It was a tremenous success, even though she was completely humiliated.

 Here is the Screamapillar, trying valiantly not to die of embarrassment while all her friends sing along to the music on the video at an alarming decibel level. They also spent some of the time watching Brian Regan videos on NetFlix. Good clean fun.

Games were pretty easy too, and we only managed two of the three we had planned, and they were "awesome," according to the kiddos. First was Cracker Back. The idea here is three fold:

One -- Thread a string through the holes of a saltine cracker.

Note: if you are a boy, claim that your fingers are too oversized and manly and ask the pretty girl next to you for some assistance. This part of the game could almost stand alone. It encourages cooperation between the sexes. And creates an avenue for mild flirtation (which is the desirable underlying element of EVERY game when you are sixteen).

Two -- tie the threaded cracker to your center back beltloop. See Note above as to how this is to be  achieved.

Three: Each person gets a rolled up newspaper, and tries to smack and break everyone else's cracker without getting their own cracker broken.

Additional note: If you have an "outside" you might want to send them there. And do this before it gets too late so your neighbors do not hate you quite as much.

Holy crap, but they loved this game.

Next up? Bigger and Better Scavenger Hunt.
I spent many hours of my youth participating in this very fun waste of time. The rules? Divide into groups. Each group starts with a single paperclip. Travel from house to house. Convince whoever answers the door to give you something "bigger or better" than the paper clip. Go to the next house and trade that item for something "bigger or better." Rinse, and repeat. You can't go to your own house. Items will not be returned. You cannot trade for things that draw breath (house plants okay -- snakes not so much). Be back by the specified time or your group is disqualified.

(this activity offered the added benefit of emptying 40 teenagers from my home for one peaceful hour.)

Before long, these items appeared in my front yard:  propane tank, tire, spinning wheel, gallon of pancake syrup, television set, bicycle frame, and a window pane.

Screamapillar's group was ten minutes late and disqualifed, so we made her be the judge. The had to "sell the product" and convince her why their object was "bigger or better."

One group came back with a person (because I forgot to mention the "breathing" rule) and won for "better," solely because of the "saucy pose" struck by the person brought back. The tv came in first for "bigger" because of it's tremendous weight. Anybody want to haul the other stuff out of my yard, please?

Here's the breakdown:
Invitations $3
Costco cake $17
Nachos w/toppings, veg and drinks $28
Decorations $0.99  
Games $ 2.17 (saltines)
Yoda soda $6
(paper goods already on hand leftover from 'cul-de-sac of fire')
So my party cost $1.27 per invited guest.

*** ascend soapbox ***

Recently, in a nearby city, a mother hosted a birthday party for a six year old. It made the papers.

I can think of a lot better things to do with $32,000, and not one dollar would be spent on spoiling my child and giving them an unrealistic entitlement attitute. Next year, if we play "bigger and better" we (the teenagers and I) discussed how it might also be used to collect a can of food at each house and donate it to the food bank.  Hmmm. Good idea.

*** descend from soapbox ***

 There were some fantastic, right minded teenagers at my house. They didn't ask for much, just some good clean fun. They were polite and well behaved, kind and inclusive of one another. They sang "Happy Birthday" to my daugher very loud, and deliberately off key in different tempos (see photo above). They laughed, they joked, they sang along to the video and seemed to have a great time. They offered thanks as they went out the door. They loved my kid enough to show up.

It was awesome.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Today is a special day!
Screamapillar turns 16!!!!!
Hard to belive she is so very old. And can date.
And maybe drive.

But any boy who wants to date her needs to see this first:

and this:

and maybe this:

And don't forget this:

But especially this:

And to be fair, this also:

Happy birthday, baby girl!