Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Goldfish!! The Musical

I was a voice major once upon a time. People were often surprised to learn that voice was my concentration and not an instrument. When they would ask why I thought that was, I replied, "It's because I don't walk around thinking life is a musical." I said it scornfully. Like everything else in life, it has come back to haunt me.

I have a mild obsession with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was particularly thrilled by the fact that there was a musical episode. I walked around singing it all the time so for Christmas Todd and the boys gave me the soundtrack.

My sons can sing and act out every single scene now. And do. A lot. In fact while I was mowing the lawn today, Nathaniel and Caleb insisted that I sing all the girl parts and they sing the boy parts. Caleb always plays the part of the demon. (Typecasting, anyone?!)

Benjamin plays the part of the moody vampire who's in love with Buffy. (See above comment.)

And Nathaniel plays all other male rolls.

Two nights ago at dinner, Caleb reenacted this entire scene singing every part with his Goldfish crackers. He made them dance appropriately. Which is amazing when one considers the inflexibility of goldfish crackers. At the end, he took a bow, crushed them all into a pile of crumbs and then slurped them off the table. (I've directed shows before. I completely understand the impulse to do that to the cast.)

If you watch the whole thing, you will note that the moody vampire, Spike, sings the infamous "B" word. After the "B" word incident, we discussed with all boys that "witch" is an acceptable substitution. But more about our boys and their language later. For now, enjoy campy TV musicals!


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Boys of Summer


This picture just makes me happy. Can you say "summer for little boys"?

I snapped it yesterday during Nathaniel's birthday party. He's one of those poor kids born in August who always end up celebrating a birthday while we're on vacation and while all his friends are on vacation, too. So, we did a party now while everyone was still in town and in touch.

We did a fun treasure hunt all over the yard with a piratey theme, but mostly, the boys just played together.

I love it. I love the sounds of the wild and complex story lines they come up with. I love the running all over the house and yard in an attempt to fulfill whatever their imaginations have come up with.

And I love that one of them said, "Hey, what's back there?" and they all climbed up on the fence to check it out.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Father and Son camp out!!

That's right, kids! My favorite time of year is upon us. The reason I have all boys! It is the annual father and son camp out this weekend!

I love my boys.

I love my husband.

I love camping.

But sometimes it is wonderful to know that the house is ALL MINE for 16 hours in a row. In years past I have had the car happily loaded for my grumbling husband hours before it was time to go.

I usually spend my precious free time to scrapbook, read, and watch the ENTIRE Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.

I never invite people over. Why would I do that? I have the house to myself!

I'm mixing it up this year. (I'm just so wild and crazy, right?)

I'm doing this:
While I watch this:


And I will enjoy this:
And then some of this:
The one cancels out the other, right? Right?!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Class Pets?


Some 2nd grade classrooms have class pets like hamsters, or chameleons, or guinea pigs. And then there is Benjamin's classroom. They received eggs a few weeks ago, watched them hatch last week, and today we were able to enjoy 7 of the baby chicks at our home! All sorts of cuteness! (And let me tell you, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" jokes are WAY funnier when told in the presence of actual chickens.)

video

The Van


Getting married, having kids, and buying a house did not make me feel old. Buying a minivan did.

We bought our van right before Caleb was born because I couldn't fit three car seats in the back of our civic. I tried. A lot. I borrowed other people's seats and tried every possible combination. It just wasn't going to happen. So, after 6 years of marriage, we went from a long-time one car family to a two car family.

There are moments now when I feel a little guilty driving a minivan, and I certainly hate it when I'm at the gas pump. But then there is the rest of the time. Like when I can have my three boys and their friends pile in for a trip to the woods. Or when I remember that I have three boys that are well on their way to being over six feet tall. Or when I have all the groceries for our family for the month, and the treats for the next scout activity, and for a seminary breakfast all loaded in one trip. Or when I pack for two week long "camping in the mountains then camping at the beach" trips.

When not hauling everyone and everything everywhere, we try to utilize the great bike trails and bus system that Columbus has to offer. The rest of the time we like our van. And I don't resent it anymore for making me feel old. I have kids to do that for me.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Happy Gardening surprises...


Our first Spring in Ohio was 3 years ago. Since the soil composition is different here, I wasn't sure what would grow and what wouldn't. That first spring I bought a bunch of different things just to see what would take and what wouldn't. I whimsically bought some asparagus crowns just to see what would happen. I had read in a gardening book pages of instructions for dealing with asparagus. And then I read in another gardening book to just throw them in the ground and wait. The latter is my kind of gardening, so I went with it, not knowing what would happen. I planted my crowns in different places all over the yard, just to see which soil/sun combination would work best.

And then I forgot about them.

Until this year!!! I was digging up some creeping phlox for a friend when she said, "Hey, look, you have asparagus!"

And sure enough, there were 3 spears of asparagus practically buried by weeds! I cut them and made them for dinner that night. We get more every week. In celebration, I ordered 30 crowns and made a special box for them.

Now, I just have to wait three more years for them to be edible.

I made Todd promise me that we would stay for at least three years when we first moved here. I wonder if I could convince him that a whole bed of asparagus is worth three more years.

Not just for eggs...

So this is one of those things that I think that everybody else knows, but when I use this in front of someone outside our family, I am assured that they don't. That egg slicer you received as a wedding present and never use? It also slices strawberries!! (Firmer berries are preferred. The softer ones end up sort of like the avocado I once put in to see what would happen. I'm sure you can imagine.) In this lovely strawberry season when they are cheap and delicious, we go through 12 lbs of berries in a weekend. Easily. This tool makes it so my kids can help with the strawberry slicing without me freaking out about them wielding sharp knives. I hull. They slice. Everybody wins!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Old

I have reached a new level of feeling ridiculously old. Yesterday Benjamin wore one of my shirts to school. We didn't realize it until the afternoon. Why not? Because it mostly fit him. Today I borrowed a hoodie from him because I was cold.

It fits me perfectly.

I am sooo not old enough to have a child that I can share clothes with!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Last one, I swear

And this is where I spent Sunday.



I've mentioned my need to see the edge of the world now that I live in the middle of the country. Sunday afternoon, I was able to sit alone on the beach with my scriptures and plan my seminary lessons for the week. If I could plan every lesson in the warm sand like that, I think I could find it within myself to teach a third year. It was a perfect end to my weekend.

A lot of people have mentioned that they think it's unusual that I'm still so close with my college friends. They are like family for me. I don't know if it's a function of being adopted and therefore hyper aware of the fact that families can be created, or if it's just because I was at school so far from family, so they became family. Whatever the case, I love them and their families and they love me and mine. It's so nice to know that we can all still pick up the phone and start just where we left off last time we were together. I have been referring to Jeanne, Mark, Dan, and Chris Ian as "le coterie" for over a decade, because they were the people that I went to first. They've been aware and/or involved in every major part of my life since we were 18 years old. And now I have Shari, too! I have been so richly blessed with such wonderful people to love and be loved by, and I can't imagine how bleak life would be without them.

Love you guys!

Clubbing in Philly

I hated clubbing when I was in college. So when it was suggested by Chris Ian that we go clubbing in Philly after our full day of reunion stuff, I admit that I was not all that excited. It was only Chris Ian, Mark and I at that point, everyone else had left for their other plans. So, we didn't roll into Philly until just after midnight. I drove and Chris Ian was supposed to navigate. We were about 10 minutes outside of the city when I said, "Chris Ian, tell me where I need to go."

Chris Ian: Oh, just take the George Washington Bridge.

Mark: WE'RE NOT GOING TO FRIGGIN' NEW YORK, CHRIS IAN!!!!

Chris Ian: Oh, I meant the Betsy Ross Bridge.

Me: Um, Chris Ian, we're already in Pennsylvania.

Chris Ian: How 'bout the Ben Franklin?

Me: Chris Ian, we're already in PA!!! No bridges!!

Chris Ian: Oh. Well. Just follow the signs for Philly then.

Mark: Chris Ian, you are a hot tranny mess!!

When we got to the club we had the amazing luck to find immediate parking. We walked into the bar where Mark immediately recognized John. They've emailed each other a couple of times because a couple of friends are trying to set them up, but Mark had only seen his picture once. The FBI may need Mark on their side.

So we wandered the bar downstairs and then the one upstairs. Gay clubs are all sorts of fun for straight women. It's been explained to me like this: Straight women are like the little dogs that people take for walks in the park. We are conversation starters. And yes, I feel slightly objectified.

We made new friends with John and his group of friends. (When's our trip to Geneva, boys?!!) And after talking for awhile, Chris Ian and I decided to make the rounds one more time. We headed up to the club portion where we had a fabulous time!! I was so surprised at how much I enjoyed myself. I haven't danced in ages so it was fabulous to let go like that! I did learn, however, that there are creepy straight guys who go to the gay clubs and try to pick up the straight women. There was one in particular whose bumping and grinding was a little too close for comfort. Fortunately, I had a fierce Filipino man to protect me who still giggles when he thinks of the look on my face when the creepy straight guy came up behind me.



At 2 am, we collected Mark and happily headed out to our car..... which was gone. Then we looked closer at the sign. It's one of those city signs that has 8 different metal plates attached to it. Apparently, it read that it was NOT okay to park after midnight, where we had thought it was only ok to park after midnight.

Individually, we are highly intelligent people.

Collectively, we are a bunch of air-heads.

Mark ran inside to get his new friend, John who willingly came out and talked to a nice police man to find out where we needed to go, while I called to get the hours of the impound lot. Happily in Philadelphia they stay open until 3am, so we were in luck. John (we love you, John!!) drove us to a very unattractive part of town to get to the impound lot. Of course, I had to try to get me in my platform heels to the John's car parked several blocks away. This is why I don't where shoes like that EVER.

I would like to commend the city of Philadelphia on it efficient impound lot. We were able to make it out of there just after 3am and were back in Princeton by 4am. It only cost us $164.oo, which we just chalked up to a very expensive cover charge for the evening.

This was us at the impound lot:

Mark was NOT amused...and he was a little tipsy.

I look like I need to go to rehab in every picture, even though I was the designated driver for the evening. Tragic.
And this is Eeyore...I mean, Chris Ian. This is what one drink does to him. Our little hot tranny mess!!

yes, more


Chris Ian had a performance with the National Chorale at Lincoln Center, so he didn't get to us until after midnight. He promptly put on his PJs, and we all cuddled up on the bed talking until 2am. By 6:30am, we were up and decided to go swimming....because what else does one do with only 4 hours of sleep? I think being around friends makes me manic. Here are the boys getting ready. Mark ironed for everyone! I invited him to come and live with me and be my house elf, but he declined.


Dan was playing doctor that morning, and Chris Ian is on a one man mission to bring back the bow-tie! The former roomies are cute as ever:


Anyway, then we headed to our alma mater for a choral rehearsal and luncheon and concert. The day was gray and rainy, but it was lots of fun to see people again. Our group significantly brought down the average age of the group, who was mostly made up of the class of 1958 with a few strays from the 60s and 70s. My new friend from the day is named Hazel and has a 45 year old son. Good times.

Here are my boys and Scott who we also convinced to come sing with us that day. We arrived at rehearsal a few minutes late and when we walked in, he was the only one with non-gray hair. He was understandably relieved at our presence.
Isn't our music hall so beautiful? I love it. This is where I performed every on-campus concert for choir, chorale, orchestra, and my senior recital through my college career.


And here is a group shot. We are joined by Mr. Robert Guarino, voice teacher and choir director when we were in school and still as "Richard Gere hot" as ever, and our dear friend Jeanne K. and her BEAUTIFUL son Christofer. That kid is seriously gorgeous and so well behaved!

Here is the ever popular shot of Chris Ian with our creepy school mascot. It all started one night about 12 years ago in the student center when I said, "What is our mascot, anyway?" and Chris Ian responded "We're the Lions. You know? Roar?" and did this exact pose. We repeat it as often as possible.


Here's Dr. Gorgeous! I mean Dan chillin' in the student center, which is the only building they haven't totally changed in the last 10 years.



Following our performance and earfuls of gossip from Mr. Guarino, we headed out to dinner and then to the infamous Halo Farms in Trenton. It's fairly gross, but it's dang cheap, so there were always ice cream runs to it in college. Usually followed by runs of another sort. Little boys enjoying their ice cream while waiting for me to unlock the door. (There were many times this weekend that I felt as though I had merely traded three little boys at home, for these three big boys in NJ.)

Aren't they so cute?!

More of my NJ weekend

So, after being ridiculous at the hotel, more friends came down and met us for dinner in Princeton. It's amazing to remember a time of life where I could just decide to wander out my front door and down to Nassau Street for fabulous food and fun adventures. Significant portions of trips to Princeton University used to be spent making new friends and getting phone numbers for future fun times, but this particular Friday night it was fun just to chat with the small group of people I had around me. A chance to catch up, and share hugs, smiles, sadness and life with one another.

Here's me, Mark, and Shari in front of my favorite fountain. This was the fountain that I pushed Todd into on our first "date" after we'd played with sidewalk chalk all evening. I knew that I had to marry him when he turned around and pulled me in with him.




Here are Lindsey and Jonathon who are so much fun and HAD BETTER COME VISIT US IN OHIO NEXT YEAR!!!!


This is a bronze statue of a student reading an economy book. He's been there at least since the 70s. Every time Mark would come to Princeton, he would sit down and have a conversation with his "friend" in the town square.


This is what we look like when we have traipsed all over Princeton and are waiting for ice cream at Thomas Sweet's to renew our spent energy:
We didn't used to look this bad at 11:30 pm, but we are a full decade older....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A weekend in NJ

Last weekend I went to NJ for my 10 year college reunion. The weekend was less about college and more about playing with all of my friends. My sweet and amazing husband took a day off from work and then played with the kids all weekend. (THANK YOU, TODD!!!) I went last year to play with the same group of friends and when I came home, realized that "then me" didn't need to be so very different from "now me". That I could marry the two pieces of me and end up with something that made me feel more satisfied with who I am. Enough with the psycho babble. Onto the adventures!

Anyway, so I kissed my babies and hubby goodbye Friday morning and set off to the airport. When we landed in Newark, I was immediately off the plane and without consciously realizing that I don't do this anymore, totally sped past everyone in that unapologetic way that we busy metro easterners have. You can totally tell who's from out of town by this one characteristic. In Ohio, if I barely bump someone while passing them, we stop and have a conversation after I profusely apologize. In the Newark Airport, you use elbows and refrain from any eye contact. And I slid right back into my less civil ways like they were a comfy glove I'd lost. (Don't worry, I left the glove back in Jersey where it belongs.)

My sister in law picked me up from the airport so I could have a chance to catch up with her and Todd's brother and play with my adorable niece and nephew. I apparently am a rotten aunt, because I took no pictures of this event. I was too busy trying to keep my sports minded nephew from bouncing the baseball off of my face when he pitched it to me. I had the bat, but was predictably useless with it. Baseball aside, I bribed him successfully with cheese and cookies, so we're all good with each other.

That afternoon my dear friend, Mark, picked me up so we could head down to our hotel in Princeton. We were met there by Dr. Dan (now he's an ER doctor in NYC, but we've always referred to him as Dr. Dan) and Shari. Silliness immediately commenced. Secure in the knowledge that there was both an ER doctor in the room AND that I had no children for whom to set an example, I immediately started jumping on the beds. Some things just never stop being fun! Here's Dan and I and the beds in a blurry action shot:


After settling in a bit, Mark gave us a tutorial on ice jumps. (He's a music teacher, who doesn't do any of these jumps on ice.) It's kind of a long clip, but watch the first minute to get an idea of the silliness.
video
A frequent musing throughout the weekend was: "If we were this silly in our twenties, and we're this silly in our thirties, are we still going to be this silly in our forties?" I'm leaning towards a yes on that. Especially because of this video from the next morning:

video

That, btw, is my skirt Chris Ian is wearing. He also looks way better in woman's yoga pants than I do. Completely unfair.

Stay tuned for the next installment in which we speak to bronze statues, perform with the class of 1958, and go clubbing...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tag

Wacky, Wild Seven

Marcia tagged me weeks ago for this 7 Things Tag, so I have to tell you 7 wild & wacky things about me. Can there possibly be anything you don't already know about me? We'll go for quirky...I'm not so wild.


1. I shared a queen sized bed with a hot Filipino man all weekend. (He's gay and there was a line of pillows in between us, but still, it's fun to say.)

2. Growing up on the coast as I did, I MUST see the ocean at least once a year. Living in the middle of the country is slightly disconcerting. I feel like I need to see the edge of world every now and then to sooth myself.

3. I am a reformed sign stealer. I specialized in useless signs. I would never steal a stop sign, since that would be dangerous. But the "no horse back riding" sign from a certain park pavilion in WY? Totally mine. My fingers were itchy the whole time I was in England. There lots of great signs I wanted there, but I didn't think I could get them through customs. I'm sorry I stopped before I got one of those blue sign with a white question mark on them that symbolize information on the interstates. If any of you ever run into one, please let me know.

4. I once sang in a bar in Reno, NV when my friend and I were driving from NJ to CA. We needed money for food, so my friend, Liz, walked into the bar and got me the gig. I sang 5 songs and the bartender pulled a $20 out of the cash register. It was very exciting for us, and kept us in bagels for the rest of the trip. (though we did still sleep in the car and bathe in public restrooms.)

5. I don't like breakfast food. I am much more likely to eat dinner leftovers for breakfast than I am to eat a bowl of cereal. I can be swayed with a big unhealthy breakfast, but I can't be bothered to fix one of those most days.

6. I love having people stay at my house. I love the bustle of company and having every meal be a feast of gathering. I love staying up late into the night playing games and laughing and talking with people I love, or people I'm just beginning to know. (We tend to invite pretty much anyone to stay with us. Even if we've never met them and only have a friend in common.)

7. I spent 28 years of my life living right outside of NYC and never once drove into the city. I had no problem taking buses and trains in, or having other people drive me, but my NJ driving chutzpah did not extend across the Hudson River.

Phew.

I tag whoever wants to do it. I hate to pressure anyone into these things. Let me know if you do it, though, since it would be fun to read.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Happy Birthday!

My baby is officially 4 years old. He took some ice pops into his preschool class last week for his birthday, and this is what his teacher emailed to me later that day:

She said, "Here is a photo of Caleb today outside eating his birthday popsicle.
We sang Happy Birthday outside and he added the "cha-cha-cha" part.
You can see the smile on his face. What a picture of a 4 year old
boy... with an Oscar shirt on, in a fire-truck, barefoot, outside.
This is what childhood is supposed to be!!"

Amen.

My four most favorite things about Caleb right now are:

1. He is such a monkey. He climbs around everywhere and on anything. While I was mowing the lawn today, I looked up to discover him sitting on top of the roof of our neighbor's car.

2. His adorable mispronunciations. "Grurl" instead of girl. "Athaniel" instead of Nathaniel. "Thtop" instead of stop. "'Piderman" instead of spiderman and "cool" instead of school. I know they will go away soon, so I inwardly giggle every time he says them.

3. He gives the best hugs ever. Always has. Enormous, tight, full body hugs.

4. He is completely unapologetic about his opinions. There is no coercing him into doing anything that he doesn't want to do. I also sometimes hate this one, but mostly I am pleased at his streak of stubbornness.

Love you, my Caleb.