Sunday, February 27, 2011

What they do to my heart....

I don't have time to deal with my camera card, but the following is worth noting from the weekend:

1.  Scotty came into my room, and asked me, "Do you want something to drink?"  I really wasn't thirsty, but I've learned that it's best to just say, "Yes, please!" to him when he's offering food or drink.  He likes to be busy in the kitchen, and getting a cup of milk or apple juice is so pleasing to him that he can't let it go.

I heard him bumping around in the kitchen, then heard a small splash as something spilled on the floor.  A minute later, he showed up with a glass of red wine, in a goblet and all!  ha! 

2.  Erik's dad passed away just over two years ago now, and Scotty asks him about "his dad" often.  Scotty and Erik are extremely close.  When he senses that Erik is feeling sad, he tells him, "I know you're missing your daddy.  I'll be your daddy, okay?  And you can be my daddy.  Then we both have a daddy."  
Honestly, sometimes?  It's just too much.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Beam Me Up, Scotty

Did you know that I named Scotty?  It's a fact that I had no say in Tommy's name. We were told, after a detailed ultrasound during the sixth month of my pregnancy, that we were having a girl.  We stopped discussing boy names at all, at that point, which was a total blessing because it reduced name-related-quarreling-and-eye-rolling by 50%.  (It's almost impossible to name a child if you're a teacher...just about every name, after 12 years or so, is less than six degrees of separation from some fool who ruined the name for you.  Ruined it, I say!)

So when Tommy was born, we were in total shock...for, like, 15 seconds. In those 15 seconds, Erik was all, "His name is Thomas!" and I was all, "Can I have a popsicle?" and then we took him home.  I had no idea that Erik had a card up his sleeve with a boy name on it, but it's worked out.  So far.

So it was that I was laid in charge of Scotty's name.  Amends needed to be made.  Because of the timing and circumstances of his birth (before noon, speedy, nearly violent delivery with not even an aspirin to keep me company),  I ended up with TWO WHOLE NIGHTS in a hospital, with just me and My Monster.  I was really getting to know him and I tried on dozens of names during that spell.  Names that almost stuck?  Waylon (after Waylon Jennings) and Zero (after my favorite number).  I stand by "Waylon" to this day.  That's just a good name.  Zero was a longshot.

We were needing to (wanting to) (dying to) check out, and Erik did not want to take him home without a name.  He swore to me that he didn't care what the name was, just name him and let's go, I'll pull the car around...that was his attitude.  So, I took a nap, I woke up, and I said, "His name is going to be Scott.  Scotty."  I expected a bit of resistance but he cheerily said, "I'll get your bag; we're out of here!"

I found out much later that Erik was totally fine with the name because in his mind, Scotty is named after Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery Scott, Chief Engineer and Second Officer of the Starship Enterprise.  Erik is a HUGE Star Trek fan. He's not flashy about'll never catch him speaking a Klingon dialect or wielding a Romulan disruptor in full headdress at a convention.  He's a subtle fan; a ring tone set to mimic a communicator, oblique references to living room recliner being the captain's chair on the bridge, constant references to a particular episode (by title and season/episode number) to something that just happened in every day life, you know...nerdsville.  

Scotty is also a huge fan.  I wrote about it way back here (2009!?).  When Scotty was two, he would yell "Khhhhaaaaaannnn!!!!!" and wave his fists over his head, a tribute to the ending of Star Trek II.  His very first theater movie?  Star Trek (2009).  He saw it three the theater.  He's watched the entire original series, with Erik, cuddled up on the couch.  He can quote it!

So, man, that's just about the longest way I can think of to say this:  how cute was it when he and I "played" the popular family game, Blokus? It involves a lot of strategy, and some rule-following, so actually playing the game with Scotty is out of the question.  (He's too young to get 'strategy' and too stubborn to follow 'rules'.)  But he LOVES when he and I sit at the table, and we play it kind of like a puzzle, fitting all the pieces of one color together as closely as we can, before moving on to a new color.

He gets so excited when it's all put together!  And now I understand why:
He scurried into Erik's music room, and immediately started punching the board and making 'boop" noises...he thinks it's the computer on the bridge!


Monday, February 21, 2011

72 Hours

I'm a sunny day kind of gal...for reals. In fact, Erik's mom gave me one of those light boxes for Christmas. It's called "the mood improver". Ahem. To her credit, she quickly pointed out that I could also put somebody else in front of it. Nice save.

Having said that, I'm always pleasantly surprised at how very much you can find to do inside when a stormy, long weekend lands in your lap. Things like, cleaning up and organizing a book shelf and a desk in your bedroom...

You're just going to have to trust me on this one; big improvement!

Or, you could spend some time practicing an art...
In pajamas you put on Friday night...and never took off!

Or meeting a new friend...
Or watching (two-thirds of) a favorite trilogy...
And then faithfully recreating the battle at Helm's Deep...
How about a hair cut for your puppy?

It was such a lovely, blustery, Winnie-the-Pooh kind of weekend, which cleared up just enough for a before-dinner stroll over at my mom's house on Sunday night.  The rest of the weekend was perfectly spent with my favorite boys.

Now all I need is a sunny, warm, spring-like weekend so I can attack the yards and get out on the lake with our new canoe. I know that's coming, but if we get another stormy weekend...or two...before that, I won't be too sad!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Show Time

You can't take away his dignity.

(Scotty's pre-K class is getting ready for their June performance, 
and we can't get enough of this!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bright Bulb

As I prepared to scrape down and scrub off the cooking sheet yet again, I had a brilliant idea.

I'm going to get a new one. 

Seriously?  This cookie sheet (like all my cookie sheets and all my towels up until a few months ago) have been in my possession since I left my parents' house for college.  And they were hand-me-downs at the time!  Some of these, I shit you not, were my mom's when she was a newly wed!  I think it's safe to say I've gotten the maximum use from this.  In fact, after a quick review of the baking cupboard, there are easily three other sheets that can be replaced. 

Because I am freakishly concerned about contributing to the landfill (exactly the kind of thinking that has me cooking on this monster in the first place), I will actually have to scrape down and scrub off the cookie sheet one last I can use it to make a magnetic board.

Any suggestions on good cookware?  Because, obviously, my standards are quite high here.  :-/

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

At Night...

 At night, I've been practicing the 'piano' and crawling into bed with a little crochet and a good a ton of good books**.  I picked up the acoustic guitar around Christmas, and Erik showed me a few chords.  I have such short little stubby fingers though, that playing was a bit painful.  I could either strum or place my fingers, but doing both at the same time was an exercise in futility.  I had just decided that learning guitar was for the young, who will play for hours every day, having nothing better to do with themselves, when I remembered that we also have an old-school keyboard and a "beginning piano for adults" study book, and I think I may have found my calling.

I play for 20 or so minutes every night, and it is too too too much fun!  I've taught myself to read music (it's a cinch!) and I can now regal you with rockin' renditions of Down In the Valley, Clementine, When the Saints Go Marching In, Lavender's Blue, and Merrily We Roll Along (in my mind, "Mary Had a Little Lamb").  Somewhat more laborious, due to the out-of-middle-c finger positioning, I have finally also mastered "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow".  

I'm available for your bar mitzvahs and weddings!

** I'm totally the kind of person who reads about 10 books at the same time.  When I was in college, my friend Ron asked me, in total seriousness, how many books I've read in my lifetime.  I had never contemplated such a thing, but the math-geek in me quickly flipped through some averages and statistics, and I was past my elementary school days (when I would spend the summers devouring a "chapter book" a day, my favorites being Charlotte's Web, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Tuck Everlasting) and through the middle school years (when I met Jack London and Black Beauty and went down a rabbit hole with Lauara Ingalls Wilder) and then high school where honors English brought me Hemingway, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, a Vonnegut spree, and I also read everything Stephen King wrote, espionage thrillers, the entire Planet of the Apes (original series) and anything else I could get my hands on...often going late into the wee hours of every night, unable to stop reading.  I was just beginning to mentally catalog my college textbooks, plus I was heavily into biographies between 1988 and 1994, when my friend Ron asked me "if I thought it was more than 10 books".  

And then I died.  

"No, no, I mean, I know you've had to read books, like for school and stuff, but do you think you've read more than ten books for just, like, fun?"  It had never occurred to me that there were people in the world who could literally list every book they had ever read.  It turns out, there are a lot of people like dad is probably one of them!  Not counting maps and travel guides, I bet he hasn't read more than 20 books for pleasure since graduating from high school!  That would be unlike my mother and me.  I definitely get my love of WORDS from my mom, and she got it from her mom before that.  (Tommy, I'm happy to report...a nose-in-a-book kind of fellow.  The legacy lives on! :)

On my nightstand:

Painted House by John Grisham
Hideaway by Dean Koontz
Still Alice by Lisa Genova (recommended!  deeply emotional book, and so wonderful!)
The New Starting With Bees published by the A.I. Root Company
Little Bee by Chris Cleave (oops, this one is done!)
Bel Canto by Ann Patchette (surprisingly funny for a terrorist/hostage plot line...)
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen
The Four-Shaft Loom by Anne Field
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
On Beauty by Zadie Smith (re-reading, very worthwhile)
Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire (I think these re-imaginings of classic fairy tales are just fascinating!)

And you?  What exactly are you reading these days?  What instrument are you practicing?  Did you learn as an adult, as I am doing, or were you a child prodigy?

Valentine's Day...Elementary Style!

If you were to insist that there is a place on earth where one might feel more adored on St. Valentine's Day than as a teacher in an elementary school classroom, I would politely but firmly tell you that you are either crazy or a liar.  No offense.

Real roses, fake roses, chocolate roses.
Oranges and ginormous kisses.
A dozen boxes of drug store chocolates.
A helium balloon in a cardboard "flower pot".
 Nearly three dozen tiny valentines, proclaiming undying love and affection.

What could possibly be wrong with any of it?!  Hope your day was as sweet.  :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I paid for somebody's groceries today.  It wasn't a big haul, but it included cheese, chocolate, aspirin, and a forty.  Oh, I'm sure there are people who would have drawn the charity line somewhere before hitting the forty ounce bottle of beer, but I'm not judge-y. 

The woman was of course shocked that a total stranger was going to pay $22 for her groceries, and the cashier told her, simply, "I guess it's you're lucky day."  The woman quietly said, "It's not luck.  It's a blessing.  That's what it is.  A blessing." 

This woman, who had her son with her, made all the noises you'd expect in such a situation (oh, no, you don't want to do're not serious?....I couldn't....etc.) but I held my money to the cashier** and maintained eye contact with the woman.  How else do you let somebody know you're serious?  I guess I could have smiled, but I wasn't too worried about that.  I've been told I have a friendly face. 

**  I once dated a boy in college who told me that one of the things he liked most about me was that I 'showed my money'.  I'm pretty sure he was translating from his primary language (Spanish) (and I'm pretty sure he forgot about my boobs, because hi, really, you're favorite thing about me?) but he told me a funny story that goes with it, about this woman he took out a few times, she'd always say, "Do you want me to pay for half?" but she'd clutch her purse like it was Fort Knox when she asked.  For the record, he never once took me up on my offer to pay, but he really appreciated the fact that, by 'showing my money' when I offered it, he knew I was serious about being willing to do that. 

Anyway, she left and I paid for my own items.  When I was loading my stuff into the car, she pulled up behind me and both she and her son waved wildly and grinned like crazy.  "God bless you, ma'am!  You were such a blessing to me!"  Oh, it was so sweet and cute!

Most of the people who know me know that I don't believe in God.  Well, more specifically, I don't believe in any gods.  haha!  Atheist humor is funny!  Oh, I kid.  I know it can be upsetting when somebody flat out tells you that they don't believe.  But when they came up next to me, and they were brimming with such goodwill and joy, I have to say, I was very grateful in that moment that I'm such a friendly atheist.  Because, as upsetting as my non-belief can be, your beliefs don't bother me at all.  And I was so happy for her.  And yes, I truly did feel blessed!  :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


My brother and my mom went to LA, and we watched my brother's puppy, Wicket.  Or, as Scotty calls her, "Biscuit!" Unless he's calling her "Bubble Gum!"  I have no idea.
They're sisters, I think I've mentioned, and they looked like fuzzy little bookends.  
Fuzzy, adorable, bookends.  These are easily the most ridiculous looking animals I've ever seen.  There are times when you have no idea which end you're looking at!  
The boys were so happy to each have a pup for our walk!
 Of course, even without the squabbles of who gets to hold the leash that were miraculously resolved with two leashes attached to two pups, we still had the non-stop discussion about what "walking" a dog means.  Like, let it actually, you know, walk.
Please, for the love of all that is good, let the animals walk.  Four legs.  They can do it!
We loved our little visitor!  But we REALLY love our pup.
Have I mentioned her name?  What we FINALLY landed on, after all the great suggestions?



Monday, February 7, 2011

Sunny Sunday

This weekend was so beautiful.  Beautiful-beautiful-beautiful.  Sandals and t-shirts; soaking up lots of vitamin-D at the baseball fields; standing outside at 5:00 am in barefeet and a tank top, waiting for our pup her was glorious!  It won't last (and I'll be grateful when the rains come, I am so sensitive to drought-like conditions!) but it was amazing and wonderful to throw open all the windows, and settle into our home.  The weather dictated spring cleaning, and I obliged, in-so-much as I cared to. :)

(There was a moment, after the sun went down, when it reminded me so much of being a teen-ager, I swear...I'm going to try to describe it, but it may be particular to my own memories:  if you've been at the beach all day, and then you come home and it's not a hot summer night, it's just a regular summer evening that cools down, and then you realize that your shoulders and your cheeks are still warm from a day in the sun, and you're still wearing a beach cover up and a swimsuit with flip flops, but it's colder now, and the cool evening air only seems colder than it is, because of the salt water from the ocean drying on your sunburn...that feeling?  You know that feeling?  I totally had it last night! ~ and yes, I totally thought of my friend Tracy :)

The "teen" feeling quite stopped there, my friends, as I spent most of the morning in my kitchen!  I stocked my jars and my buckets with flour and sugar and oats and seeds.  I made pancake mix and muffin mix and corn bread mix.  And then I cooked...
 I'm pretty sure I've perfected my Laurel's Kitchen granola recipe.  We LOVE it with LOTS of nuts (this batch has walnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds) and LESS wheat germ.  It is crunchy and beautiful, and absolutely perfect with Greek yogurt and a teaspoon (read: tablespoon) of honey.  One of Tommy's favorite treats is to dip a banana in honey and then roll it in granola.  He calls it 'banana pop crunch' and I am so glad to have a fresh batch.
 As I was pulling the granola out of the oven and cooling it before storing it, I was also browning some ground beef with a jar of our summer-tomato-sauce to add to the calzones (below), and I was also getting ready to rinse some assorted soup beans and cut up potato and carrots for the crockpot.  (The soup was finished for lunches today, and it was yummy!  No recipe, just throw any root veggies and dried beans you like in the crockpot with either 6 - 8 cups of chicken or beef broth ~ a mix of both, for us, because we didn't have enough of either, plus some plain water, because we really didn't have enough of either! ~ some salt and pepper and a couple of bay leaves with oregano and whatever spices you like, then cook it on low for 8 - 10 hours (9 for me!).  I added chicken sausage, heated through at the end, for Erik and we loved it.)
 My favorite pyrex bowl.  But I say that about them all...

 I used the calzone recipe from Gina, and it worked like a charm!  (If you're at all interested in learning to make for the first time, and/or expanding your bread repertoire, I highly recommend her whole series that she's been writing!  I've made the Miracle Bread too, and you better believe I'm dying to try her sweet dough and the freezing method she describes...)

 They were really just for the boys, and while they cooked, I whipped up a dressing for the grilled ahi salad Erik and I had for dinner...AND lunch.  :-/  The dressing is delish ~ just equal parts lemon juice and dijon mustard, a few tablespoons of olive oil (I guess; I don't measure), salt and pepper to taste, and some diced onion (red is better, but, theme here, we didn't have red so I used white) all whisked together.  I use the same dressing for most salads, with some added crushed garlic.  
It was the perfect meal for the sunny day.

I could have added the obligatory long-shot of my completely destroyed kitchen, as you know that I cannot cook even the simplest meal without a total catastrophe from top to bottom, but the calzones were so beautiful...let's leave it that, shall we?

Tell me...what's happening in your kitchen?  Are you enjoying your weather...whatever it looks like?!


While Tommy's baseball season has been underway for several weeks now, Scotty's very first T-Ball practice was this Saturday.  (In an unprecedented stroke of luck, the boys have the EXACT same practice schedule this season, and the practices are all at the same field!  SHUT.  UP.)

He was so excited to wear all his new fancy equipment ~ for about 5 whole minutes!

What's that son?  You'd like me to hold your helmet?

Questions from the morning:

"Does my teacher know I have baseball today?"
"Is Uncle Moose going to be my coach?"
"Can I be on Tommy's team?"

 We're calling this his "star maker move".  Tommy never played at this age (5); he started baseball during "coach pitch" (I think he was 8!) so I was kind of shocked at how...incompetent...the really young ones seemed.  He would literally stand like this, frozen and planted, and wait for a ball to plop into his glove!  And you know what?  It actually worked a few times!
 Coach Dylan:  "Okay, where is first base?"  I mean, we're talking basics
He loved it!

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Force

This commercial is ADORABLE and it totally reminds me of Scotty. We put our (artificial) Christmas tree on a table right next to the heating vent in the living room, which means that each Christmas an ornament or two will sway or spin in the breeze of the heated air that comes out of that vent.

You can always find Scotty standing in front of a spinning ornament, hands extended, palms out, fingers spread, his face all earnest concentration..."I'm using The Force, mommy," he'll whisper.

It just about kills me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tea Time

It's been lovely here, during the days; right around 60 degrees, sunny, blue skies.  It reminds me of fall, actually, right around 2pm.

But in the morning, and after the sun goes down, it's quite chilly and wintery.  Not as bad as it was at the beginning of January, when I was scraping ice off the car each morning and I was certain that, if it had rained, it would have snowed.  No.  Not that cold.  But if it dips into the 40s, we native Californians completely fall apart.  (Whenever I hear about the crazy snow-y weather across the country, my head immediately goes to the homeless people who are without shelter and it breaks my heart...also, perhaps, a peculiarly San Franciscan thought.  :-/)
Looking at high 30s for the next few nights means that I'm ever-grateful for my favorite mug (full of hot spiced tea, and a well-loved gift from a well-loved family) and my new favorite blanket.  It's a ripple blanket crocheted as a gift for me from my friend Kathy.  I am addicted to it!  It's the perfect size for cuddling up with a pup or a boy, and I am crazy about the purples and greens and blues in all their ripple-y goodness.