Monday, July 27, 2009

So Long Suckas...

It isn't always this easy. People don't necessarily get these kind of small, but important domestic victories that embolden the spirit, that make you feel triumphant.

Back when our dishwasher was working, I once tried out a "natural" dishwasher detergent. I was to use only a teaspoon, and I did, and it didn't work. At all. Egg yolk was still encrusted. Tomato sauce still clung to plates. Awful.

I can report here, however, that our diatomaceous earth get-rid-of-the-giant-black-ants-invading-our-kitchen method WORKED! They are g-o-n-e gone. Long gone. We haven't seen a scurrying black squiggle ever since I dusted the baseboards with an ample amount of the powder.

IT WORKED! The natural nontoxic method worked. Ha!

Take that petrochemical, polluting, better-living-through-chemistry, mainstream paradigm!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Because I hated Disco and Listened to The Loop

There are some groups that bring me right back to the late 70's early 80's and remind me of the Chicago music station The Loop which played: Journey, The Who, Rush, REO Speedwagon and not anything pop. Well, not too pop. It was very anti disco. As Steve Dahl said, "Disco sucks!"

My kids love to sing YMCA at distant in-law cousin weddings though... My disco-hating young teenage self would be aghast, but my 40's kid-loving self thinks it's cute. Standards, schmandards.

Let's enjoy some Journey, shall we? The lyrics are fun to follow along with too. "SONG BREAK" Hilarious. Somehow, every group from that time reminds me of Spinal Tap...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Who Are You... Put Your Hands up!!

I've never had to supply the police with an ID in my own home, have you? And, if I did, I really wouldn't expect to be handcuffed and arrested after supplying two forms of ID, would you?

If you had just come home from an impossibly long flight from China, you might not be too agreeable especially if you just had to nudge open your sticking front door. It might be frustrating if you normally walk with a cane and are not that strong.

Is being loud in your own home a crime? Is nudging open your own sticking door a crime?

If you're a black internationally known Harvard professor in Cambridge, it might be an issue.


Monday, July 20, 2009

What a Surprise--I am Procrastinating

I should be calling people. I should be getting them to commit to hosting one of a jillion children's workshops that I am responsible for setting up for the homeschooling conference that is in March.

March is right around the corner, people--it is not that far away! Besides, we need to get contracts sent out and returned, signed, so we can hand it all off to the people who will print up brochures and get it all entered in the database for the conference site.

If I don't post here for a while, it is because my attention is turned to organizing workshops for little children to enrich them and illuminate them and expose them to the big beautiful world out there.

Or, I am procrastinating...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Golden Years

Remember when you were young and you really had no sense how fast life goes? Life hadn't touched you in the ways it has since. Maybe you had less regrets, fewer mistakes, loftier goals.

"Nothing's going to touch you in these golden years."

That's OK. There are still happy times ahead--a whole lifetime.

No regrets--whatever past you've had is what got you to here now.

Maybe the Golden Years are still to come.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fire!! Or, What do You Kids Think You're Doing?!

The other day, we met some friends at our local pool. It is so fantastic--right down the street from us--and the kids love going there with their friends or just with us the family. They don't care--being at the pool under any circumstances is just great.

Our friends left a little bit earlier than we did, so I enjoyed my own space on a chaise lounge as my kids continued to play that they were swimming in the ocean, evading giant octopuses or whatever they were doing that cracked them up. I'm really glad that they enjoy each other the way they do. In between the frustrating times they have with each other, there is some genuine camaraderie and admiration for one another. They're buds.

I saw that it was just about time to wrap things up so I gave a 5 minute warning, heads up, and went to gather our towels and bag and other going-to-the-pool detritus from near the fence where I had left it in the grass.

I saw four older boys, they were maybe 13 or so, kicking at the chain link fence about two feet up from the ground. They were near where I was headed and I think they thought I was coming over to them, because they seemed a little bit nervous looking over their shoulders as I approached. When I was fairly close, some of them sort of ran behind me, away, and I saw that the fence was on fire... What?!

An 18 inch by 6 inch fire was melting the coating on the metal fence and was feeding the flames that the kids had been trying to kick out. I could see even then that it was dying down--it wasn't going to progress.

I told the boys what I thought, "Oh! That is SO uncool!" A last stricken boy, looking me in the eye as his other friends had run away behind me, and so therefore is the bravest in my estimation, seemed paralyzed as I spoke.

Me: What did you use to light that?!

Stricken, panicked boy: Why?

Me, livid: Why?! WHY?! NO. What did you use to light that?!

Scared-out-of-his-mind-boy: A lighter. I won't do it again!

Me: You DON'T light fires! You just don't!!

I gathered up my things and went to a lifeguard to let them know that their fence was on fire and that those boys did it. She saw and went over to them. As she did, I pointed it all out to my kids who were bundling up in their towels and I quickly explained what a bad choice the kids had made and that they were foolish to play with a lighter like that. You don't light fires!

My kids were horrified. "They'll be in such trouble with their parents!" "What were they thinking?!"

I don't think the parents will ever know. I think the lifeguard, who was only slightly older than the pyro-boys, gave them a good talking to, but I don't think she took their pool passes or anything. The boys left as we were leaving and all avoided eye contact with me.

I know these boys were bored out of their minds. They were also all hyped up on each other's testosterone squirting out in between all of the acne and hearing each other's cracking voices. It's hard to manage all of that energy in ways that don't get you in trouble.


I felt a little like Barney Fife; kind of indignant and silly at the same time. "Not on my beat you kids! Oh no! You're not going to get away with it!" I also felt it was important for my kids to see that if you make bad choices, if you don't even think of the consequences something bad happens--always. And really, how'd that conversation go? Hey, let's take this lighter and light the fence on fire, in broad daylight, surrounded by little kids, parents and lifeguards! Yeah! That's a perfect idea! Totally doable--let's!! *high fives or terrorist fist jabs all around*

I know my kids are going to make all sorts of stupid choices too. I did...

As we were walking down the street home, I wanted to impress upon them that just because you get a wicked, cool, outrageous idea, like lighting the community pool fence on fire, that does NOT mean that you have to act on it!

Lesson learned... for now. *crosses fingers as I imagine the hormone onslaught/brain shut off to come in my kids*

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Because We Have Charisma...

My sister and brother-in-law are coming over today for a rousing, lengthy game of D-n-D... or is that D & D?... Dungeons and Dragons.

It's a game I never played as a kid when it came out in the 80's because I was too busy being mad at Ronald Reagan and staring at my not-model-shaped nose in the mirror for hours at a time.

It's hard being a teenager, isn't it?

My kids have the basic idea from my husband who did play the game in the 80's. He didn't care what Reagan did and he didn't obsess about his body and different features on his face. He just went along wearing his army jacket and pretending he was a half-elf/fighter/thief/cleric/magic user who always carried the bag of holding. (It has more space on the interior than you would suppose... kind of nifty for taking stuff that doesn't belong to you, or for carrying rope and grappling hooks, 'cause you never know.)

I'm making all sorts of finger food. So, today will be a time of eating and pretending--two great past-times, I think.

Do you have charisma? Oh yeah? How much...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer in the City

It hasn't been that hot around here for a while. We did get up into the 90's at some point, but it's been relatively cool around here, for Chicago.

Still, it is summer in the city.

Remember dust on records? And, it didn't even matter...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Kids Right Now... Marching Cadence

Inspired by my son's book, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead by Max Brooks, my two kids are marching in unison (nice formation) through the house chanting at the top of their lungs, "I don't know but I've been told: zombies smell like stinky mold!!"

I warned the kids that that might be a very provocative thing to yell around zombies and they informed me that they can't be insulted. My son said, "It's like insulting an insect--they won't notice. They don't think like that."

Oh. Well, all right then--carry on.

We might find something more productive to do today, but it will probably not be nearly this fun.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Literary Classic... a Fun Book From My Childhood

I remember being so entranced with particular books during my childhood. Either the words grabbed me or the images. They all possessed some sort of magical quality and I would read them over and over to myself.

I have searched for some of these books to share with my kids, and was finally sold Giants Come in Different Sizes by Jolly Roger Bradfield at the local library book sale. Well, the library wasn't selling it, but the guy who managed the sale had it at home and sold it to me--he had two copies or he would never had parted with one. He loved it too.

I love when you talk with people and you get happy outcomes--all because you were forthcoming.

I had searched the internet for the book and it had gone out of print, so the only copies that were available at the time were those that people were selling on e-bay for about $90. Amazon now lists that book used for around $27 in not the greatest condition. My kids would never have the joy of that book unless the library sale guy had been willing to part with his for about $5. How nice is that?

Jolly Roger Bradfield also wrote The Flying Hockey Stick which I also adored when I was six. It was also out of print until recently and it is now available again.

The boy in the story creates his own flying machine out of a hockey stick, tape, a fan and a lot of extension cord. My kids will love it although they are fast approaching the age where they will no longer be so captivated by picture books. They aren't such little kids any more and they are both great readers and are both reading large books to themselves.

They are not too old, thankfully, to have me read to them and they will also delight in Barnaby's exploits of creating his flying hockey stick just as I did when I was a kid.

If you can get your hands on any of Bradfield's books for a reasonable price, consider yourself lucky and enjoy the good read with your kids--no matter their age.

Monday, July 6, 2009

How to Make Raw Milk Yogurt

A while ago, I took my Viili Yogurt Starter I got from Cultures for Health and made raw milk yogurt. It turned out! It was delicious and easy to make. I'll show you.

I followed the clear instructions sent with the yogurt starter.

I opened the packet up and poured it into a bowl... (At this point, please note how literal my pictures are. Do you really need to see how I open the packet? No? Well, that is how I illustrate with photos and I will show you every step. I'm sorry, you'll just have to deal with it.)

I poured the Viili starter into a bowl, so I could measure out what I needed.

As you can see, I needed 1/2 teaspoon of starter to add to the 1/2 cup of scalded (and cooled to room temperature) milk.

I sprinkled it in.

I reserved the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of starter to have in case I ever need it. 1 teaspoon per packet--very helpful.

I transferred the starter with the milk into a jar where it would sit out on top of my fridge for about 24 hours or so.

Not using the lid here, rather a cloth held on with a rubber band.

This is the pure, treated starter. The master starter. The main starter. From this, I take a tablespoon and add it to one cup of raw milk, let it culture on top of the fridge for about 12 hours or so, and then put it in the fridge for 6 hours and then voila: RAW MILK YOGURT!!

I would show you a picture of the raw milk yogurt I made but, I ate it... I ate it with raw honey and the kids drank it in a smoothie.

I still have the treated starter, so I'll add a tablespoon of that to some more raw milk and make more raw yogurt. I'll make sure I leave a tablespoon of the starter to add to a new batch of scalded, cooled milk to make another round of pure starter. Then, from that I'll make more raw yogurt.

It's not difficult. It is delicious and so healthy and good for all of us.

We are pretty durned cultured around these parts. Are you and yourn cultured too?

What yeh waitin' fer? Go git yeh some culture!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Who Loves a Parade?

Yesterday morning, we dropped off our kids to march in their first parade. They marched with their dance studio, and I don't have a single picture of them. I'm quite the photojournalist, aren't I? I do, however, have photos of the other participants.

Lots of emergency vehicles making lots of noise. Who are those guys behind the vehicles?

They're Revolutionary War guys! Hello Piper!

Then there were a bunch of scary clowns. (Not to disparage clowns--I'm sure they're lovely people... but, don't they seem a little creepy somehow?)

Marching bands!


Another marching band!

Hello District 15 Space Shuttle! Coo-el.

Check out the power--look at the rocket booster bottoms thingies.

The Jesse White Tumblers showed up. They are fantastic--a really tight tumbling team. See the floor mats on top of the van?

They set up too far from us! Come back, we can't see you!

Why, hello Harris Bank mascot, Harris.

Is that a steel drum group?

Yes it is.

What fun music. Where are they from?

Ontario, Canada? What?

Cute dogs that were part of something that I didn't really catch...

Another cute pup.

Here's the parade piece de resistance: a church combining their idea of God with uber patriotism... Thankfully, there was only one parade participant like this.

Did you have a good 4th? I hope you had fun whatever you did.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Fourth

The Fourth
by Shel Silverstein


Happy 4th of July everyone! Enjoy your freedom. Enjoy your families. Enjoy the loud fireworks and the corn on the cob and the grilled something or other.

Hold on tight, as you spin too fast on the tilt-a-whirl. Try not to hear the tinkling sound of nuts and bolts being jerkily shimmied out of rides at the carnival... Some of those are redundant any way. It's fine!

Hey, are we ever leaving Iraq? What do you think?

Because of the nuclear threat, must we really recognize the corrupt Ahmadinejad in Iran and continue to speak to him, thereby legitimizing his fraudulent election victory?

Life is complicated.

Let's just have fun today and enjoy our kids marching in parades, or watching parades and enjoy the summer fun of the 4th.

Happy 4th everyone!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Please Don't Let Me be Misunderstood

You know who likes The Animals? My Mom ! I don't think she knew of them in the 60's--she was too busy raising kids. She likes them now.

I understand Mom. You are not misunderstood...

So, here's a fitting song.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I am Impressed With My Kids

Yesterday, my son complained that he felt a little pressure behind his cheeks and nose. Maybe he had a bit of a sinus infection?

I told him about our neti pot and explained how dad uses it and I use it and why and when.

So, he thought he would like to try it too.

"Really?", I thought. "He's going to fill a pot with warm water and a generous pinch of salt and tilt his head over the sink and pour it in one nostril and then let it drain out the other? Really?" OK...

I set it up for him and reminded him to breathe through his mouth and that it would feel like when you get water up your nose at the pool, but he would not choke--it would be OK.

I had him watch me as I filled the neti pot with the warm water and the generous pinch of salt and then poured the water into one of my nostrils and then the other.

OK. His turn.

I filled it up again, and then he poured it into one nostril and didn't like it much, but tried it on the other nostril as well.

Not much got in, but he did do it and was OK and didn't sputter.

Today, he reports that he feels less pressure and maybe the neti pot helped.

Hurray for alternative methods that work that my kids are brave enough to try!
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