Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Teeth and Fairies

We Smiths have been shlepping across our great nation for the last several days. And yes, we all still like each other. Even Todd. I was a little worried at mixing him into our road trip since the boys and I are quite accustomed to doing this without him, but it has been quite pleasant. I think I'll keep him. ;)

One night we ate dinner in our hotel room in Rapid City, South Dakota. After dinner, Benjamin had a piece of oh so healthy and nutritious licorice. (Alright, so licorice is neither healthy nor nutritious, but he was eating it anyway.) While eating it, his tooth fell out!

Benjamin after rinsing the blood out of his mouth, carefully placed the tooth on the hotel desk because we decided it would be safer than under one of the billions of pillows on the bed. Todd was being a very polite hotel guest and was busy picking up all the little pieces of cheese that Nathaniel had managed to get all over the carpet while eating his dinner. Sadly, he mistook the tooth for a piece of cheese and threw it in the garbage.

The mistake was immediately realized, and Todd proceded to pick through the garbage to find the tiny white tooth. After rescuing it he went into the bathroom to rinse all the cheese and carpet fibers off of it...and managed to wash it down the drain.

Benjamin was understandably heartbroken at the loss of his tooth and Nathaniel was indignant that his father would even think to do such a thing. He spent the rest of the night suggesting scenarios for Todd that would have saved the tooth. Poor Todd felt understandably horrible.

Everyone rallied though, when I told Benjamin that the tooth fairy would still bring him money. (I think it was actually the description of the tooth fairy that rallied him most. I told him he looked like my friend Chris Ian wearing a tutu. It's a powerful image.)

Sure enough, the next morning a dollar was found...right by the drain. Apparently, the tooth fairy has a sense of humor.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Blackberry Day

Today my dear friend and fellow broad took us down to her family's farm to go blackberry picking in the hills of Kentucky. The drive was gorgeous, the company even better, and the setting practically idyllic.

First of all, we were made to feel all sorts of welcome by Granny and Granny Tom who swooped us into the house and plied us with home baked goods. Peanut butter brownies to die for! Oh, and the homemade peach pie!! (From peaches picked right there!!!) I may be in love.

Filled with yummy goodness, Granny told Dee and I to go pick while she took all the kids down to the creek. For two hours, Dee and I climbed all over that hill. Did I say hill? Sheer straight up would better describe parts of it. Oi. Nevertheless, we made it through steep climbs, tons of prickers doing their job, and the incredible heat and humidity of the day. In fact, here we are in all of our hotness:

You see all that wetness on our shirts?! It's sweat! I didn't even know I could do that. I'm very excited to go to the gym tomorrow and see if I can do that again!!!

While we were sweating like that, our children were having a delightful time doing this:

And swimming, and getting wet and muddy in the creek. In short, they had a blast!

But Dee and I got these:

Because we got lots o' these:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight

I'm not sure when it happened, really. Todd says almost four years ago. But sometime and somehow I became something of a comic book geek. Not all comics. I'm superhero specific...well, except for the Buffy comics.

A few years ago our friends, Jeanne and Chris, gave the boys a fun game involving Spiderman and Friends. One of my other friends, Mark, who was there and witnessed the gift said, "What? Where's Superman?" I practically snapped in a Z formation as I rolled my eyes and said, "Um, Hello?! Spiderman is Marvel comics. Superman is DC." I almost added "duh, obviously" to my retort. As soon as the words were out of my mouth and Chris started laughing, I realized what had happened. I had become one of those people.

The other night we had some friends over to play Cities and Knights of Catan (which is a whole other level of implied geekiness), and when my friend Heather was explaining where she had bought her new game she said, "You know that comic book store? The Laughing Ogre?" At which point I jumped in and said, "Totally! In fact I need to go so I can get the next of the Season 8 Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic books!" She almost smiled as she said, "Um, really?", in an incredulous voice. It's a new kind of weird for me.

I blame it, like most things, on living in a house with all boys. Specifically, boys who really like super heroes. Their father is totally lumped into this, too.

Todd has watched Batman Begins no less than once a month since it came out on DVD two years ago. It is his favorite movie. Possibly ever, at least in the super hero genre. So months ago he informed me that we would be going to see The Dark Knight on opening night. I really liked the last batman movie as well. (Not once a month worth, but still.) He was practically bouncy as we waited for an hour to get into the theater to see it on the Ultrascreen (it's three times the size of a regular movie screen).

Opening nights are fun. I love how all the big fans are there together so you really get the feel of experiencing something as a group. Everybody gasps in surprise at the same parts and laughs aloud at other parts. And people clap at the end...and sometimes in the middle. Oh, and last night many people were wearing their batman shirts and one guy even sported a cape. He was unspeakable amounts of adorable.

The movie was really good. It's dark, and scary, and I am a total wimp, so I had to look away a few times. But it's so well written! With all that scariness, there were so many clever laughable lines. I love Christian Bale and Michael Kean together as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Alfred.

Anyway, after the movie I began telling Todd about all of the differences between the movie and the comics. Because apparently I know things like that now. Which is what prompted the question, "When did I become this person?!"

Friday, July 18, 2008

O Mio Pepino Caro!!

I have tried to grow cucumbers in my garden EVERY year that we have been here. They have never made it past the seedling stage.


There are vines everywhere and today when I finally peeked underneath the viney canopy, I saw several cucumbers growing there!! They're already about 6 inches long!

I would like you to try and picture the moment:

Me: rainbow tie die shirt, jeans, bare feet, hair down and unbrushed.

My children and their friends: bathing suits, running through the sprinkler

My next door neighbor: an engineer who works from home...usually his back yard

Now you need to remember this song:

(Note: O Mio Babbino Caro, actually means "my dear Daddy". What Daddy is going to let his daughter out of the house in THAT dress?!)

Okay, do you have it all pictured?

I saw the little cucumbers and immediately burst into singing in a VERY loud and VERY operatic voice, "O Mio Pepino Caro". Which literally means, yes, "My Dear Cucumber".

I wonder what it says about me that neither my boys nor my neighbor even looked at me during this outburst...

Monday, July 14, 2008


Just in case anyone needed to be reminded that VHS tapes are so last century, here are some shots of what my kids do with them.
The truly ironic thing is that we haven't had a working DVD player for about six months now, so really if they want to watch a movie it has to be VHS.

Oh well, it would seem that VHS tapes are also great for super hero fortresses.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


A few weeks ago after a conversation with broads Katey and Dena, I decided to make a list. I like lists. They make me happy. This particular list was "Ten Things I Want To Do Before I Die". Todd keeps telling me it's called a bucket list, but that's just because he saw the movie by the same name. I don't like the name bucket list, so it's my TTIWTDBID List.

My stubbornness is often ridiculous.

Anyway, here is my list:

1. Go back to the U.K. with my kids and Todd and spend at the very least two weeks romping about. I'd rather spend 3 or 4. We'll see. I did all the math a few weeks ago at how I can make this happen financially. It will take 8 years. Which will actually be perfect timing since the boys will be 16, 14, and 12. It will sort of be the last summer of kid. The following year Benjamin will need to be working and getting ready for exiting the nest. But the summer that he's 16, he will still be mine.

2. Send a manuscript to publishers (well, a letter to book agents, anyway) and collect the stack of rejection notices that follow. I will put them in a lovely book with all of Todd's rejection notices from poetry submissions years ago. I have one manuscript one solid day away from being done. I never have one whole day, though. So it's more like a week away. Then there's the letter. I'll make Todd write the letter. He's in marketing...

3. Visit every state in the U.S. I'm getting closer all the time on this one. I picked up South Carolina on our most recent visit to FL. But I'm missing the entire southwest of our country. A vacation clearly needs to be planned for that region. I have 14 states left to go.

4. Get and keep all of my family's scrapbooks up to date. When I read the list to Todd he laughed and said that this one was the most likely to be the one left undone when I died. It's true. I'm going to make a goal to spend a couple hours every Sunday night working on the kid's books, though, so I can get closer to realizing this one.

5. Take a ballroom dance class with Todd. On my list it actually says, "Take a ballroom dance class with Todd, dammit!" Every year that we've been married I've said, "Hey, Todd, wanna take a ballroom dance class with me?" and every year his answer is "Not right now." The years that I was pregnant or nursing a baby, this answer made sense to me. Now, I'm all done with it. For TEN years we have moved his ballroom dance shoes from apartment to apartment to house to house and never ONCE has he put them on. I am going to take a ballroom dance class in the next couple of years. He is becoming less of a factor in the decision. But if I take it without him, his shoes are so going to end up on ebay.

6. Take our boys on a backpacking adventure. When we were younger and less tired, we wanted to take six months and do the entire Appalachian trail with the boys. Now, we're thinking more like two week sections of the trail every summer. They're still a little young for such adventures, but in about five more years we can start.

7. Act in a play or a musical again. I miss the stage. I'm very happy to be in the chorus or just be an extra, but I miss the thrill of being on stage.

8. Hike to the top of that really tall mountain in Yosemite. My friend, Sukhvinder, keeps sending me pictures from the almost top. I want to go all the way, though. So, I just have to get back to California, so she and I can have a new adventure!

9. Learn how to swim for real. I'm a really strong swimmer. My Mom liked to swim underwater and tug our feet down when we were kids. Consequently, I learned to swim strongly to avoid drowning. But I never learned how to do all the strokes. I can mimic what I see, but I don't know how to do them officially. And the whole breathing under my arm thing never worked out for me.

10. Participate in an organized race. DONE!!! Big check mark for ME!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Shameless Plugs

The last two weeks have been full of commerce in the Smith house. While I was in FL, Todd ordered a couple new T-shirts for me from Threadless.com

If you haven't checked out their website, I highly recommend it. You can submit T-shirt designs, users vote on the designs and then there is a limited number of T's made for sale. If they're out of one, you can vote to have it reprinted. It's literally voting with your dollars and helping out artists at the same time. Anyway, these were the T's he got me:

Other than having people stare at my chest and then follow it up by bursting into laughter, I'm loving my new tees.

My next consumer-ish purchase was this:

This little beauty has my kids excited about vacuuming!!! I repeat: MY KIDS ARE EXCITED TO VACUUM!!!! They have fights over who gets to vacuum the stairs! It's small enough that even my 4 year old can easily navigate the stick vacuum portion of it to quickly vacuum the hard surface floors or area rugs, and the dustbuster portion easily comes out for spot cleaning. It doesn't replace my real vacuum for the wall to wall carpet in the basement, but it's great for quick, small jobs that my kids can do. LOVE IT!

And my last consumer-ish thing is this:
These are sliced, freeze dried strawberries like you get in boxes of cereal these days. $20/number 10 can, which is the cheapest I've ever found them. They are yummy on cereal, or just for snacking, and they don't have any icky colors or preservatives which makes the Momma Bear very happy. I ordered a case of 6 cans from emergencyessentials.com They are great for food storage, but they will also be wonderful for camping and hiking oh, and did I mention just snacking by the handful right out of the can when my kids aren't looking?! mmmmm.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Water Babies

I love water. Swimming makes me all sorts of happy. Happily my children have inherited that tendency. Yesterday at the pool there were all these wonderful moments that I have to write down so I don't forget them.

1) Benjamin doesn't look for me to watch him every single time he does something anymore. It made me a little sad as I tried to get his attention to tell him what a great job he was doing with his swimming. But at 8 years old, he's starting to figure out that he's his own person independent of me.

2) Nathaniel after years of temper tantrums PUT HIS WHOLE FACE IN THE WATER ALL BY HIMSELF!!!!! He loved swimming before, just not putting his face in. But yesterday he had a pair of goggles and it was a whole new world for him. He was holding his breath for the first time ever and having a great time spying on people's feet.

3) Caleb was very excited to show me how he could sit on the bottom of the pool. He is by far my most adventurous child in the water. No swimming lessons and barely 4 and jumping in the pool to sit on the floor and then swim up is VERY impressive to me.

No pics from yesterday, but here are some from the beach a couple weeks ago that made me laugh.

Happy as a clam.

"Be one with the sand."

For a kid who hated everything about the beach for the first 4 years of life, he's come along nicely. ;)
My construction crew standing in what they referred to as "Lake Smith". There was a whole lot o' Smith, but not so much lake.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Todd's sister Jenny and her newish husband, Brit, came to visit us in May. I don't know what the rest of you do when you have relatives come to visit, but we put ours to work. (Our house is not so much a hotel as a youth hostel.)

The boys had all sorts of fun jumping on their Aunt and Uncle, and we had a great time seeing Jenny again and getting to know Brit better. (Especially since he helped fuel my Buffy the Vampire Slayer addiction! AND mowed the lawn!!! Seriously, how fabulous is that?! He was standing there, so I handed him the lawn mower AND HE MOWED MY BACKYARD!!! I wish that worked with my kids...)

Here are some pictures from the brand new garden we made on the side of my deck. It was a weed patch before. Check out the pics!

This was my weed patch:
This is what it looked like when we were done (note my lovely raised asparagus bed, and strawberry pyramid and rain barrels. Love them.) :

And here are the fabulous (and silly) folks who made it happen: