Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Happy Birthday- Smart son! (a little late)

addendum-- sometimes blogger does crazy things- like add a giant space in your post you can't get rid of and spontaneously delete pictures- so I have added the mini cake from smart son's real birthday (look for the 3-D rocket cake coming this weekend) I will repost this on the cake blog too http://smartmamacakes.blogspot.com)

6 years ago smart son made his earthly debut before Christmas instead of after the New year- which adds a little extra chaos and jobs to the lengthy December to do list and although I am sure the extra years tax deduction far exceeds the trouble-- it does complicate things- i probably go overboard in attempts to not cheat him- it is probably the best time to be born for that very reason. We are celebrating on his real day and then again after the holidays with the "friend" party. And in Dec. your parents never think to give you something like a bike so they break down and buy you that in the spring and you wind up racking up extra gifts. Although it is kind of a bummer to only have one new major toy influx per year. You can check out this years rocking cupcakes he's brought to kindergarten. I actually had a mom stop me in the grocery store to ask about the rocket cupcakes her son came home talking about- so i think they were a hit. i had a picture of the cake but blogger deleted it so i'll post it later.
I sure love my smart son though- he will always be remembered as my great Christmas present. We have enjoyed 6 great years together- I am lucky to be his mom- you all know how I love his creativity, his sweetness, his constantly churning little brain. I love will never regret leaving work to spend my days with him- my time with him is worth more than any paycheck and if there is any thing I hope he always knows it is how much his mom loves him!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Shelah's baby has arrived!

For those of you anxiously awaiting the arrival of Maren, (Shelah over at Hitting the Ground Running)'s baby--I am pleased to announce that she arrived today at 2:39 am weighing in at 6 lbs 1 oz and 19 inches in length! I can't wait to get more details and I am sure Shelah will blog it soon! Welcome to the World, Maren and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

war, famine, pestilence, and smart baby

rt baby
Yes as you can see smart baby has take a place as one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse-

The theme of December's blogging that is emerging- catastrophes a la smart baby. Here is smart baby mopping the flour with my bucket of bread flour (I don't know if this is better or worse than the previous mopping episode with toilet water) I had it out to make 6 loaves of homemade bread for the teachers, bus driver, etc) This occurred simply as I turned my back to stir the rice and soup for tonight's dinner casserole- yes only 2 feet behind me! He is one sneaky character.
Then 2 hrs later as I was attempting to wrest the bread from its pan to rush it out for fresh hot delivery to the bus driver- I heard the sound of the bus in front of my house- so I with knife in hand ran to open the front door- to wave that I was home so smart son wouldn't be driven back to the school and in my absence smart baby- went directly to the dining room climbed up in the middle of the table and poked 2 holes in and ate 5 fondant decorations off smart son's birthday cake (luckily i had already taken a picture in case some such scenario took place) Seriously i have exhausted every cabinet lock, and out of reach surface known to man. The family room armoire is the current "safe house" for tomorrows birthday cupcakes for school.
This evening smart baby struck again as I prepared the next round of bread dough- I turned to see something brown in his hand- he had reached up and grabbed a hunk out of one of the cooling loaves of bread-(one of the down sides of having an 18 month old who is above the 95% percentile in height - way too much is in their reach!) so much for that gift. Smart son played accomplice today --on his way out the door to music - as he madly grabbed shortbread cookies set the 5 ton glass cake tender dome on one of the other cooling loaves.
These were the major incidents of the day- in addition he enjoyed dumping a box of graham sticks, dumping out 50 cookie cutter, disassembling the carpet tiles in the dining room and 50 other things.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sink or Float- Can I get a spot on Letterman

Really my boys don't watch David Letterman (seriously smart son can't stay awake past 7:30! He will lay down where ever he is and go to sleep!) But somehow they learned to play sink or float. In fact the "sink -or- floatness" of objects is often a concern of smart sons as we are driving and he inquires as to the sink or float status of some random object or material. Smart son coaxed smart baby to be his assistant in this venture. I gave it my okay as long as it was not excessively destructive and would allow me to whip out teriyaki chicken for dinner. The downstairs bathroom sink was turned into the official sink or float test tank. I have a hard time discouraging such a great experience of the scientific process so along with my blessing when I told smart son to please get a towel from the kitchen and dry the "test objects" aka toys before returning them to playroom. Well 5 minutes later I was summoned with "Help mom- there is purple dye everywhere!It won't stop... HELP!" On my way to the bathroom I can't for the life of me figure out what sink of float test item would leak purple dye. Well I went in to find they were testing out a piece of black paper -and in following 1/2 of their mothers instructions- the "dry" part, minus the KITCHEN towel part they attempted to dry on my fluffy white "nice for company" hand towel (which is now purplish gray- despite soaking and washing) purplish dye is also covering smart baby's face and hands, dripping down the wall, covering the vanity. (not above picture is post clean-up!)

Lessons of the day-

1. black paper floats

2. black paper leaks purple dye when wet

3. black paper dye doesn't come out of white towels

4. smart baby will furtively, stealthily pilfer all 6 varieties of cookies from the 7 plates you have artfully assembled for the evenings FHE deliveries if you disappear into the laundry room in attempts to disprove #3) as you can see he has yet to internalize our family value of integrity- the little thief!

Friday, December 15, 2006

okay i am starting to get annoyed

I thought I was getting back into the saddle today- So I got ambitious, cleaned my room, cranked out 4 loads of laundry- started this painting during smart baby's nap ( This will have to count as your christmas present from me- yep this is all you're getting- a half done painting if you want a real treat you'd better head over to my talented friends lei's blog- but i have been itching to do this variation on gold leaf combining the chain garden and branch series-so here is work in progress) only to hit the wall at 1 pm when major achiness returned. Then of course everything started falling apart- smart baby tossed a bowl of dates across the kitchen, dumped a basket of folded laundry, 3 toy bins, and for the cherry on top dumped confetti in the keyboard (lest you think me negligent he is a fast one) Which means smart daddy-o will be prying off keys to remove the errant small foil stars later tonight--Speaking of smart daddy-o- he really loves me and is catering to my cranky sick wife whims and picked me up my desired entree from TGI Fridays and is currently on a run to pick me up my requested evening treat a 3 scoop sundae from friendly's complete with peanut butter and hot fudge sauce. I am coping though- see as a child life specialist I am a master
cope-r my job is helping people cope- and one of the best methods of coping is distraction or as we like to call it "alternative focus". As you can see my current alternative focus for my fluness- some good eats-yes I tried lying in bed reading the latest issue of discover magazine (yes I really am a total nerd! it was the year it review- I love it but not successful enough at distracting me), and watching this fascinating -you know how I love- PBS) special "The Mystery of Love", and episodes of shows I don't even watch at abc.com all to no avail. At this point i am using self-talk "you will get better" "The flu will pass" but I am starting to feel jipped of my holiday season- only 10 more days of till Christmas. After all I am the "Christmas queen" a label I have most comically earned amongst family and friends. And I am seriously miffed that I have wasted a week of my reign in my flu-ish state (let alone the week before with our hospital excursion! and sick boys) So send healthy thoughts or maybe anti-virals!
XO- smartmama

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I love being a teacher

Yesterday I finished up a 3-part acrylic painting class for K-3rd graders I was teaching for the PTO at smart son's school (despite my voice which is barely existent and deeper than my husbands at present). It reminded me that deep down I will always be a teacher- Few things make me happier than seeing people learn/experience/try new things. I was so excited that after 3 weeks they were already able to accurately use great artist talk with words like "technique", "composition", and "preliminary drawing" and could explain brainstorm subjects in the categories of still life, portraits, designs, and landscapes, could talk about the pros and cons of drawing from observation vs. imagination. They could title their pieces, and engage in aesthetic discussions about their own work and other's work, and best of all 33 new child masterpieces are now gracing their homes! No, I am not saying I am the great fount of all knowledge- after all I had great teachers who taught me these things--but for me the best part of knowing something is being able to pass it on to others. So smart mama's challenge for the day- Take a few minutes and teach someone something- it is a gift that always gives back!

as a whining p.s.-
this whole being sick thing is really cramping my style- Instead of counting down the days till Christmas i am counting down the minutes until smart daddy-o gets home from work so I can crash into bed, or the number of hours until my next dose of advil. dishes are piled in the sink, half done projects are everywhere- it is not festive!

Monday, December 11, 2006

the season continues...

yes it is 2:23 am and i am blogging. As much as I "respect the microbes" when you are stuck in the house with 2 sick kids and worn down, inevitably the staunchest mother gets sick- and yesterday i came down with a terrible cold. I attempted to take a warm bath only to have smart son decide to use me for water gun target practice ("but mom I filled it up with warm water for you!") and smart baby decided to toss in a few playmobil and lego people - and a an entire playmobil rescue tow truck for my bathtime pleasure. I was sudafeded up and in bed by 8:30- trouble is I know have a terrible sinus headache and can't sleep so I figured instead of lying awake in bed tossing and turning about the 50 things left on my to do list I'd blog...

I am happy to report Saturday's Ornament day was a success (one of our school PTO activities). Here are smart son's craftings from that day. I was responsible for teaching the kids how to make the ribbon candy ornaments. Despite the fact that this is the most despised of all the stations as it has a high difficulty rating involves some serious spatial skills and the use of rulers, we managed well. The rest of Saturday was spent fighting the traffic to mall to get the lego crane- where I got distracting picking bricks from the lego wall and snagging some shirts at the limited for smart daddy-o to give me for Christmas. I had a only a matter of minutes then to don biblical attire and print off my reading to get the church for dress rehearsal for out "Journey to Bethlehem" at our ward Christmas party. When smart baby pulled down the entire 7ft tall kids tree- ornaments flew all across the kitchen, bubbler lights smashed, glass pieces everywhere, the stand was bent - Smart daddy-o deduced it was due to the sudden one sided weighting of the tree with all the ornaments from ornament day. So after cleaning the broken glass and piling all the ornaments on a table. (it's current sad state- compare with previous photo- yes it is Tuesday and still not redecorated!) I went in to print my part. However what came out of the printer was not my part but smart baby's birth certificate (In a sheet protector!) yes foreign objects has been fed into the bowels of the printer and so I tried again- this time paper sucked in and never came out- and the lights started flashing to check my documentation!

I CAN report the Christmas cards have been mailed (except for those few who I know have a new/lost address which requires waiting until they send me a card so I can mail it to them). Oreo truffles have been made (thanks shelah for the recipe)

Friday, December 08, 2006

just when i thought i could resume normal blogging

life goes crazy-
smart son (5) got croup (he gets it at least once a year and we usually have to go to the ER 50% of the time- but this year was extra bad and he had to go to the ER via ambulance) So yes picture me and smart daddy-o and smart son standing at the top of the driveway waiting for the ambulance add to this picture that it is 20 degrees outside (we are trying to use the cold air to smart son breathe)- but in the dire throws of respiratory compromise there is not time for even a coat or shoes for a mom- my own demise from exposure was mediated only by the fact that i was wearing this warm but excessively ugly GAP red hooded sweatshirt (circa 1990- that I wear only in my house in times of extreme cold- never in public) and still by the light of the pale moon the policeman (while giving smart son oxygen as we await the ambulance) says, "Hey didn't your son get locked in the house a few years ago?"
Is my town really that small?that was almost 4 years ago! Must I bear that shame forever!

So of course that of course yielded a sleepless night for all filled with the excitement of the ER (happy to report thanks to 4 rounds of albuterol and some steroids smart son is doing ok) & a subsequent follow-up with the pediatrician, the pharmacy, (and I squeezed in 10 min run into Marshall's where i scored the last thing on smart baby's (18 mo) list at 50% off the normal price!) getting back to throw dinner together for one of our friends who was in town (P.S. great Christmas tip- the festive decorations and dim lights can hide a multitude of housekeeping sins).
The next few nights sleep were interrupted by smart son having terrible coughing fits lasting for hours- he couldn't go more than 30 seconds without coughing and us trying ever liquid beverage, food, cool mist vaporizer, chest percussion, positioning, distraction and relaxation techniques imaginable in our futile attempt to squelch the coughing. I also taught a painting class at smart son's school, we had swim lessons, I taught a painting class for women from church while smart daddy-o was off enjoying dinner and blue man group with his work, I was also madly trying to crank out Christmas cards, bday party invites, a dbl batch of sugar cookies, and about 500 other things. I have also endured much shrieking (yes smart baby is still in that lovely phase) and even remained sane even after having a fork and bowl of stuffing hurdled at me by my disgruntled pint sized eater!

I am also happy to report we have have secured some elusive toy items for smart son but only with much hardship and exertion!
So I am running on fumes --starting to have slurred speech- a sign i need to get into bed- but there is something so depressing in going to bed and knowing you really won't get all the sleep you want or need! knowing tomorrow i need to get through ornament day at smart son's school, get to a store 35 min away to pick up a reserved item, and i am responsible for closing "reading" at our church Christmas party- So hopefully you are busy with your own festivities, kissing under mistletoe, eating cookies, and buying gifts, & drinking hot chocolate, and reading the Christmas story and you haven't missed me. I will be back...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Christmas house tour

I love Christmas- I mean I really love Christmas- in fact as a child I made my family sing "hark the herald angels sing" every week at family night for many years straight. Christmas is the greatest holiday (I will blog more on the true meaning of Christmas another day)- I love it with all the trimmings: mistletoe (which means kissing), presents, decorations, music, holiday movies, lights, food, baking, being with friends and family, and just feeling magic in the air. So naturally I like to decorate for Christmas- in fact the tree to person ratio at our house is 6:4 (that only includes trees more than 2 feet tall) This year I scaled back a little (didn't do the banisters, mantle or put up one of the 7 foot trees) because life has been so hectic and i am seriously sleep deprived but here is a view of a few festive spots around the house-

1- The entry way with my favorite Santa (wearing a caftan) I brought back from Morocco

2- The breakfast nook tree-the Fun tree- no ornament is too homely for this tree- It is the ultimate kids tree- complete with bubbler lights!!! where I have everything from my 2nd grade Styrofoam meat tray and glitter angels, to star wars and strawberry shortcake ornaments.

3- my dining room- I love to hang things from my light fixtures- this room is all silver, glass, and white- lots of disco ball mirror ornaments

4. The breakfast nook table- I had to keep this low key/unbreakable this year as it is all within reach of smart baby

5. The family room (yes slacker mantle I know) stockings thanks to shelah

6. the family room tree- all gold and red and the classier ornaments in our collection
I'll spare you the rest of the counter vignettes, nativity sets, candy bowls, etc...
Merry Christmas- it is the most wonderful time of the year!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Don't you wish you lived in new england too?

Living in New England is quaint (And if the winter was not so interminable, wretched, and snowy- it would be even better) Don't get me wrong, I do like snow but I don't like winter that runs from November to April. At times NE feels so Norman Rockwell charming. Our little town is a quintessential New England town. We have orchards and dairys, lots of white churches, we have a cute town center with gazebo, antique houses, a white clapboard building which houses the town hall, fire station, police, and library (yes all in one)- It's a fairly sleepy town center- no stores. The biggest intersection in our town in where a 4 lane road intersects a 2 lane road- and the number of traffic lights in our town that I know of- 1. This weekend was our town's Christmas Festival, people even come from neighboring towns to enjoy our hospitality and cutesy town charm. They have trolleys that run routes through the town stopping at all the spots around our town where you can enjoy homemade food, crafts, buy local wares, etc. They stop at the local dairy farm (the smart boys' favorite), where they give out free samples at the "Milk Bar, tastes of ciders, fudge, cheeses, pastas, dessert, free hayrides through the farm, petting zoos, and you can even glimpse santa with this team of cows, the trolley goes to the Candy makers, the go to the churches, various restaurants, local businesses, artisan shops, and the school. The PTO hosted raffles, gave out free cookies, had a gingerbread competition, kids crafts, and a dinner that evening. I was in charge of major signage for the school events and the gingerbread area (if you were an elementary ed major at BYU you too were lucky enough to take an instructional design course where they teach you how to make posters with chalk pastels) I have to laugh sometimes at some of the odd but strangely useful required classes for education majors. (this also explains lack of blogging- as my evenings have been spent inhaling permanent marker fumes- in the name of the PTO!) I spent the days leading up to it making house labels, category cards, and posters, hours friday night laminating, copying, paper cutting thousands of ballots and tickets, hours saturday afternoon donning a hairnet and apron-and under the wise tutelage of E, the cafteria lady- cutting 250 brownies, putting ice in glasses, chopping mass quantities of basil and other fun tasks and help tally the over 900 votes for gingerbread house (although there were no hanging chads to combat- you'd be amazed at how many incorrect ways people can fill our a simple ballot)
Best of all we had fun as a family and we got to help celebrate the traditions and town "family". In our world today community spirit is becoming somewhat extinct- as we live in our busy worlds, our suburban sprawl, we sometimes loose the connections to our neighbors, we watch out for our own kids, but often forget how much watching out for and helping everyone around us returns benefits 100 fold.
And if you're ever in our neighborhood on our Festival weekend- it's worth checking out as a great reminder that people coming together as a community- well to quote Martha Stewart "It's a good thing!"

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Where has smart mama gone...

Lest you think some tragedy had befallen me- I just took a trip to Kansas for Thanksgiving- smart daddy-o's family was having a reunion there- and well my philosophy is a trip isn't worth the time if you don't stay at least a week so, we were gone for a week. (couple that with the craziness which is packing for a weeks vacation and recovering from a weeks vacation- and my lengthy absence is explained) Smart son has no officially travelled to 25 states! I am finally back to report good times were had by all. I have to say I am impressed with Kansas City- the service, the food, everything we did was well worth our time and $. We swam in the indoor pool at the hotel, ate out, went to see a fighter pilot imax movie (well worth your time), a sharks 3-D movie, went to the KC rail experience (all about trains) the Robots traveling exhibit, science city, enjoyed the tree and wreath and train displays at union station, ate at the crayola cafe (where I run into one of my old grad school roommates I had long since lost touch with- totally random!), made things at the the Hallmark kaleidoscope, and checked out moon marble company (it is so cool - we watched how marbles are made by hand and bought lots of cool marbles- but I won't tell you how many $ I spent because that would be embarrassing) Then we drove down to Wichita for the reunion. On the way our cranky, tired baby (who we later realized had an ear infection) vomited all over the rental car- so here we are pulled over on the side of the freeway attempting to safely clean up- somehow I manage to sit in some of that unfortunate substance- Smart daddy-o is laughing and I am telling him it is not funny as i feel it soaking in through my jeans- but there is nothing you can do about it on the side of the road in Kansas. Luckily the marriott had a courtesy laundry and I only received a few strange stares as I carried a stripped down baby into the hotel. We then enjoyed days with aunts and uncles and cousins. It was fun to meet people I hadn't met before and to see those I hadn't seen in a while. Smart son and smart baby enjoyed more swimming in hotel pools-- which was fun until the last day when I put on my swimsuit bottoms and noticed the fabric felt funny- I looked in the mirror- and to my horror- part of the fabric had gone sheer- yes like you can read a newspaper through it!? Who knows how or when (my swimsuit is only 9 months old!)? And I have likely been wearing a semitransparent bathing suit for some time without my knowledge- my apologies to anyone who may have unwittingly glimpsed my backside!
Also 2 thumbs up to Midwest- our airlines on the trip-I love the 2 across seating, warm cookies, and cheap fares. (also thanks for the brief stop in wisconsin- long enough to grab some good ole squeaky cheese!) Sadly I only have 17 pictures from our excursion- due to the fact that somehow the camera got left on and battery ran down and we didn't bring the charger dock-
But I am back and heading full swing into the Christmas holidays!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

lessons from a headband, toilet cleaning, robotic handcarts, and living a dot-to-dot

Today was one of those work around the house , 6 loads of laundry, family clean, wear Pj's the entire day, and try to return life to a semblance of order after Smart daddy-o was away in Japan for a week (hence lack of blogging) kind of days. As I tucked smart son into bed tonight and I asked his most special time of the day he said, "Being home and not having to go anywhere all day! And cleaning the bathroom counters and toilets! (his job at family clean today)"

You may question what type of torture my child must endure to report his favorite time of the day was cleaning toilets- but i savored his comment- I feel successful that he is content to just spend a day- nothing flashy, nothing that costs money, just enjoying family, playing with toys, being creative, and feel happy as a result of working hard and knowing you've done a good job at something. The thing I worry most about is my kids growing up in such a trouble, confusing world, but when they make comments like that you know they get the important stuff!

He is growing up I really love being around him! And man I LOVE the way he thinks! Here are some of my favorite smart son conversations of the day

I was attempting a leisurely bath when someone bursts into the bathroom and through the curtain I hear "Mom, it's just like being on and island out in some water, and then looking around and flying over to another island in the middle of water, and then going to another and another- and making lines as you fly"

"What is?" Needing some context for this sudden random image/analogy.

"Living in a dot to dot!"

Tonight he got talking about what life was like in different times- this was first prompted by him putting on one of my stretchy headbands around his head 80's sweatband style. After putting it on he asked "Mom, why did people wear bands around their heads in olden days?"

We didactically decided 1- functionally- it was because of the excessive physical labor in hot climates and it kept the sweat of your face, reason number 2- well you never can account for the Fads of the ages.

Then we started talking about life before different inventions and technologies. I said, "What do you think people did before CD, radios- for music?" (hoping for they practiced and learned to make music on their own) The first thing I got was a response about player pianos and then he shot back immediately, "They went outside!"

"Outside?," I puzzled needing more info.

"Yes, they could just look for a nest(outside=nest=bird=bird songs!)".

It was such a fabulous unexpected answer.

Then we got talking about life before cars and pioneers and handcarts and he said he would like to build robots for the people who couldn't afford covered wagons and animals and had to pull their handcarts.

Lately too we have been talking about the blessing of education and the importance of working hard and learning all that we can. We had talked before about children I have known in parts of the world who haven't had the chance to go to school. "Mom," he said, "I know- if they don't have schools- they could be home schooled!" I tried to explain that this was a good idea and that is what people tried to do but it was hard for their parents because they didn't get to go to schools either.

Then he petitioned, "Mom could we please send papers to them so they could have school- I really think we should do that!"

Guess I know what type of family service opportunity we are going to be looking for!

I just love the way his little heart and brain work!

Monday, November 13, 2006


I took a doctoral level graduate class in relationship development and mate selection. I was the only girl in the class and one day that became glaringly apparent. As you know I don't shy away from sharing my opinions and engaging in academic debate. The topic of debate with my male classmates was about our cultural labelling of all personality traits as masculine and feminine. I attempted to say we create stereotypes that can be very negative/rigid when we do this. (i.e. men are supposed to be tough, not cry, fight, etc) Every attribute/personality characteristic is on a persecute with extreme opposites at both ends, but most people are in the middle. Labeling each end as masculine and feminine implies that it is the ideal for men or women. I do believe men and women have inherent differences but I don't think that justifies this division/labelling. This whole system of labeling is erroneous as there is as much variation in a given characteristic amongst men (some men are gentle/mellow while others are very aggressive/rough) as there is between a given man and a woman (aggressive woman and aggressive man). I asked them if I am aggressive/assertive does that make me less of a woman? the answer "No, it just means you are comfortable with your masculine side". Masculine side? You think that is a joking answer but it wasn't. I am a girl 100% and proud of it. I held my own that day but they still didn't get it.

I am a rough and tumble girl- just as much as i am a girly girl . I like to to get glammed up, and throw parties, I wear lipstick and dress in pink but, in 7th grade I was also the only girl who chose to play basketball with the boys while all the other girls stood around giggling and occasionally hitting a volleyball. My dad had to break it to me in 5th grade that no matter what i did I would never be a center in the NFL (I do hike a mean football) and my only outside chance at any football would be as a kicker. In college, Shelah and I spent some evenings playing rugby with the guys in the neighboring apartments and we were known for our true tenaciousness on the field. Boys do not intimidate me and I relate as well to men as I do to women. At church functions, I am always happier moving furniture instead of doing dishes. I wrestle and race my kids as much as any dad. As much as I love lounging at a nice hotel, I am one brave traveller who has slept, eaten and spent my days in some very hard, dirty places. But all of these things make me a great woman not a woman comfortable with her "masculine side".

just some thoughts today on how silly our culture is sometimes.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

come let us reason together, smart baby

Smart Baby,
I know you are going through the toddler autonomy phase, but see you are lucky your mom has a masters in child development and is totally down with piaget, erikson, and freud, she is here to tell you all the developmental secrets, help you see your errors in thinking, and let you skip crazy childish behavior and move right into rational adult thinking.

1. Dumping your soup all over the table- not cool- c'mon baby this means more mess for mom- more mess for mom means more cleaning for mom and more cleaning for mom means less time we can do cool mom/son stuff.

2. Screaming and screeching doesn't help anyone and it doesn't get you what you want and could have seriously lifesyle implications. This behavior could seriously cause some hearing loss to others and we don't want to lose our house and your cool toys in a lawsuit- living a cardboard box is no fun- got it!

3. Throwing- throwing is only good when it comes to certain things like baseballs and should you chose to hone your skills there I will happily accept half of your income from a MLB contract- but the throwing of shoes, raw eggs, pretzels, shampoo bottles, yard sticks, mops- gotta go baby- I am being up front with you, although you've got skills- there is no lucrative career or Olympic gold medals in those sports so let's focus on other money makers!

XO- Warmest Regards,
Smart mama

Monday, November 06, 2006

Chart thinning/art thinning

If you work in a hospital you know about chart thinning- basically a bunch of stuff goes in your chart and then, if you have tons of pages they go through and weed out unnecessary stuff- well as a mom you do the same thing with your child's art. You have the dreaded task of art thinning. Yes for the past 3 yrs I have been stuffing all of smart sons work under one of the beds in a giant bin- well he is quite prolific and the other day i had the thinning task because the bin was way beyond capacity.
It brought back many memories of mom and son moments of days gone by. I absolutely love some of smart sons early works, I am a big fan of qualitative research. I like to hear real people's stories and children's art (as argued in my graduate thesis is one of the most true snapshots of a child). Well here is what I pitched (See Left) and here is what I saved (see right).

It reminded me of smart son's uniqueness, It also reminded me that your moments with your child are what you make of them. So today go out of you way to do one thing that might be messy or inconvienient or just spare those extra few minutes. It also made me really continue to think hard about the educational path for smart son. We debated long and hard this year- public, private, charter, homeschool- we decided on a "try it and see" public school year. Smart son- other than being very unchallenged loves school bu ti still can't put to rest my qualms with the great disparity between what he is capable of and what i think a good education is and the type of work being required of him in school. I am tossing and turning at night and I just can't feel good about it- maybe it's the ghosts of my own unchallenged years in public school haunting me. I called another private school today...so we shall see.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cow poop train

Smart son was telling me about his adventures on the playground at school with his friends C and B. They were playing trains and smart son said he told his friends that his train ran on cow poop- Yes that comment sounds like a common silly potty mouth response form a 5 yr old but he was totally matter of fact and serious. A few months ago we were reading this article in discover about a train that runs on cow manure and cow "remnants". He was hoping to help his friends gain an awareness of biogas and new energy sources.
It then prompted a full of how nuclear reactors work (complete with visual aids- DOTS thanks to the trick or treating loot) which enabled a model of atoms, protons, neutrons.
I went up to his room today and found this- he had used all his geomags to form a graph- using his metal bed- Which he explained represented various types of days- "good days for bug catching" "sludgy water days - represented in green- which is not a good sign- hazardous to many creature- he was home sick form school hence the bedragdled appearance.
I absolutely adore watching childrens brains work. It is fun to see them soaking up everything around them. I also have loved this week, smart son had his "Reading explosion". He has been reading for about 2 yrs know but this week was "IT"- If you watch many children learn to read you understand that each child does this. One day it takes work to read then they go to bed and wake up one day and really realize they can read without really thinking about each words and their fluency, sight words go off the chart. It is so exciting to see the whole world opening up to them!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Here are some pictures of my cute boys last night- Smart son was a bat- he has spent the last few days really getting into character by hanging upside on the family room chairs. He however is my very sensitive child and not one for scary stuff especially noises- he trick or treated to 15 houses and said he'd had enough (the appeal of the candy is not that strong for a child who begs for asparagus! Then he comes home asks you what your favorite candy is and tells you he loves you and gives it to you from his meager pile- he really is such a love!) Smart baby on the other hand after returning form the 40 min route was crying and wailing to go back out- so smart daddy-took him out for a second round- He is my task/mastery child and was having fun transferring candy from one bucket to the next and doing one to one correspondence with his candy and muffin tins.

Smart son was most excited to show his kindergarten class an article and picture of himself in last years fish costume that was featured in the American profile section last weeks Sunday paper in an article about "Out of the Box Costume Ideas". Yes every year, I embark on some sewing escapade in an attempt to make my child's costume dreams come true. The bat was fairly easy -there are no bat patterns out there- the one I found was a cape of felt with a scalloped edge- BLAH! So we created our own pattern thanks to an internet diagram of the Taiwanese bat. Couple that with yards of black pleather, sequin trim, and black moleskin and viola! It was a bat worthy of Halloween costumeness. The past has brought organ grinder monkeys, dinosaurs, and the fish. If you have every read the Old Man and the Sea you can appreciate the epic struggle of fitting multiple layers of 1" foam and slippery fabrics under the unwieldy foot of my sewing machine in my attempts to craft this. After seeing himself in the paper once though- I am afraid it went to his head and he saw a boy with blonde curly hair on the newpaper we had spread out when we were pumpkin carving and he told me he thought it looked alot like him- and that maybe he was in the newspaper alot.

Sorry I am slow posting this blogger was being lame when it came to pictures and what good is halloween post with no costume pics!okay I post the others later- I all it will let me do is 2. Maybe I am too late and they have a quota for mommy blogs the day after halloween!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

some of this years christmas toy pics

As a mom, teacher, and child life sepcialist, I love picking Christmas toys- seriously love~(In case you missed my master toy list here it is) I love to peruse great museum gift shops and find the coolest and most creative toys. I look for stuff that is authentic, open ended, and generally doesn't make noise or require batteries. Throughout the year I acquire them and stash them in the upstairs closet. I can post them on my blog because although smart son reads- he has yet to become one of my loyal blog followers, so have no fear Christmas will still be a surprise. Also smart son's birthday is only a few days before Christmas so lest you think me extravagant (I actually keep to a very strict tight budget)- December is the only time in which our toy closet really grows!

some of my tentative pics this year- for smart son 5 and smart baby 17 mo.
more historical action figures to add to our collection (I love my freud, ben franklin, jane austen, einstein and you wouldn't believe the hilarious play they yield)the fandex series of field guides (there are all sorts butterflies, trees, old testament, presidents way cool info for brainy type kids)
some safari ltd. tubes - the galapagos island animals, ancient egypt, monkeys and apes, wild west(life just would be complete with out some mini pioneers to celebrate your heriatge with) and a great butterfly collector case Identiflyer, folkmanis toy puppet some great specimen blocks , the plan toys airport (i totally dig the ferry and garage we got those last year)
a globe, playmobils (okay brief discourse on the virtues of playmobils- they are well constructed, generally gender neutral, durable, classic and I love how they represent real life things- we have a giant bin full... the playmobil house sets, OR doctor suite, you name it-- they have everything from laundry rooms to house painters, my kids love them and begin playing with them before they are even 18 mo. (yes disclaimer beware of chocking hazards- supervised play only!) not only are they fun but I have used them to act out events and they have helped in preparing my kids for everything from sleeping in a big bed to going to the doctors (yes so classic child life specialist), when I was pregnant and Smart son was 2 he used to act out me wretching in the toilet with his playmobil mom and playmobil toilet- really if you don't have them- you must check them out! okay back the list) diggin the playmobil treehouse also some dino expedition, etc) mini titanic (so smart son can act out more magic treehouse books), some more instruments, plasma car at 17 mo old smart baby was totally having fun driving around the toy store on this. Some child size brooms/mops. a lunar module toy, lego shuttle (we the other rovers and rockets and you can build cool stuff with those exotic pieces- so much better than the plan lego unit bricks- so buy the crazy sets because they give you more creative pieces) red sox shirt, rock collection, my favorite game- Guess Who, some "1001 Things..." usborne books (i.e. 1001 things to spot on a farm- must have!I got at the ben and jerry's factory a few years back and adore!) possibly another architectural block set (smart son has had the best time building middle eastern temples for the past year) and more bare books for Smart sons "field guides" he likes to write.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

College Boyfriend Breadsticks

I love food, I really love food. Especially good food (as my friend shelah can attest) And one of my favorite foods of late- "college boyfriend breadsticks". See I had this boyfriend, KC, who I dated for most of my college years. (he was a good cook, he can't take credit for this recipe but "college boyfriend's friend's wife's breadsticks" is too long of a title- and "college boyfriend breadsticks" makes for much more interesting dinner conversation) Here's how they came to be-- Once we (me and KC) went to dinner at the home of one of his friend's, D & N. Well, in the course of the evening his wife and I made these breadsticks and they were so good. The one part that stuck in my head was that one of the ingredients was malted milk powder. I meant to get the recipe but then D&N moved and I broke up with KC and my hopes of getting the recipe were dashed. So for the 11 years since that night, I have thought about these breadsticks. I was thinking about them again as I was driving home from church a few months ago and decided I WOULD find the recipes. So when I walked in the door, I went immediately to the computer and scoured the internet for breadstick recipes with malted milk powder. I had searched before but this time I finally found one posted by someone with the screen name homegirl who claimed she got the recipe from her college roommate. Well I experimented a little and made some modifications and here they are... They are fast, easy, and excessively yummy- think breadstick nirvana

College Boyfriend Breadsticks
Dissolve- 1 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 c. warm water

Then Add- 1 Tbsp. malted milk powder
1 tsp. salt
3- 3 1/2 cups flour

Mix together well. Melt 1/4 c. butter. Pour half of the butter in 9x13" pan. press dough in pan. Pour remaining butter on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle lightly with Garlic salt. Let rise for 15-30 min. Then bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes.

Monday, October 23, 2006

what to make of smart daddy-o?

So I made my Christmas list for smart daddy-o
1- A new 19” LCD monitor (a true necessity for my online gallery- and blogging)
2- A Gigantic mirror from IKEA (I have a thing for really big mirrors- being tall I hate nothing more than not being able to see my shoes and the top of my head in the same view- but this mirror is so huge I could be twice as tall and still see my whole self along with 5 other people).
So what does smart daddy-o do? He goes to Ikea gets the mirror and hangs it on my bedroom wall. I leave him alone in the office for an hour and bam a few days later the UPS guy knocks on my door and hands me my new monitor. Remember it’s not Christmas, it’s October. So I have decided this wife spoiling has to mean something because I don't think I am THAT good of a wife. 1- My husband has some secret other life and this is his elaborate diversion 2- He’s pulling some Johnny Lingo move and trying to get me to be a better wife by making me believe in myself by showering me with extravagance 3- I really am that good of a kisser 4- He is just that nice and loves me that much or 5- He is just to lazy to wrap them and very pragmatic and figures if he gives it now he can always use the “well this way you could start enjoying it” line, but remind me on Christmas what my gift was. So which do you think it is?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Box tops cutting=grown-up

Sometimes the funniest things make you feel like a grown –up. Today I did one of my first official PTO- parent volunteer tasks- It was a quite complicated too- (actually I really love menial tasks- no joke) My responsibilities were to 1- Trim the excess flash from the box tops for education (from General mills products) sent in by children at my son’s school. 2- Count them and then 3-Bundle the freshly trimmed (on the dotted lines) coupons into stacks of fifty. All I can say is it’s a good thing I had my kids when I was in my twenties because if I was much older I would have had to opt out do to visual disability as it would have required the extensive use of reading glasses. Just so you can appreciate here is one of the box tops (can you see it??)- most are the small yet respectable the size of a postage stamp, but some are so tiny, I have swallowed pills twice their size - they were ridiculous and attempting to hold these in stacks of fifty while rubber banding them without the tiny ones shooting out of the stack in all directions- a daunting task for even the most deft surgeon’s fingers. Like littlest soldier I managed well my charge to tend to 2 classes worth of labels (all 621 of them). Yes, I am but a small cog but important in greater machine of good for my local public school.

hyperdrive week

Smart daddy-o has had training at work so he was been going in early and staying late, which left me juggling swim, music, PTO, and town ed foundation mtg, 3 necessary shopping excursions (yes for the first time in my motherhood life I had 0 diapers) and a shower at my house (while smart daddy-o was enjoying a classical guitar concert). I don’t love weeks when the schedule goes into hyperdrive. (Yesterday also was not the best day for smart daddy-o break it to me that it looks like he’s going to Japan for about a week next month or that the night I am supposed to teach a painting class he has to go see blue man group for work).
As for a report on the party- VERY fun it was for my friend (also known as commenter DMS) who will soon be having a baby girl (her first)! I love DMS,(which blogger will not let me post a cute pic of her from the shower- grr- i've tried for 3 days- you can see her cake though here) she is an amazing teacher and is going to be a rockin’ mom! I am a party girl but smart baby has been complicating my usual party style. Mainly, because I So it’s been a super crazy week in smart mama land- I am finally starting to breathe. can’t set the tables until the absolute last minute, but having 20 people for dinner requires appropriate planning to ensure I actually have enough CLEAN soup bowls, dinner/salad/dessert plates, spoons, knives, forks, glasses in my possession. I counted out everything for the 3 different tables the day before and moved it to the center of the dining room table and then moved all chairs away from the table so they would serve as an alarm system (enter super smart mama xray hearing power when from rooms away I can identify exact sounds like “hmmm.. that sounds like a dining room chair being dragged across the floor” and run to avert domestic disaster) Smart baby still managed to lay to rest 3 salad bowls, one silver pineapple placecard holder, the glass out of a family picture, and utterly destroy one flower arrangement. (also insert photo of shattered pinapple salad bowl- again thanks to blogger you must use your imagination)
The one thing that has helped me though great music, which has me so itching to paint (but sadly no TIME!) So hopefully I will still be in the groove and steal some time in the next week to crank out some more pieces.
So my mellow groove music pics of the week- go download…
The Walnut Tree*(favorite of the week!) and Bend and Break by Keane
Strange & Beautiful and Brighter than Sunshine by Aqualung

Friday, October 20, 2006

lessons from safari

When I was doing a medical mission in Kenya, I stayed on an extra week and went on safari. If you have ever been you know it is amazing, and romantic in a very Hemingway sort of way. You spend your days in rugged jeeps traversing the savannah observing wild creatures at every turn, evening drinks (albeit sprite in my case) and appetizers as you watch the sunset from a high peak while flocks of flamingos come in on the lake. Night game drives covered up with blankets looking for leopards, dewy mornings drinking hot chocolate while animals gather around the watering hole. The sounds of monkeys screeching in the night outside your window. Oh and sleeping under mosquito nets (which I do not find romantic at all but rather claustrophobic and they reek of deet in attempts to ward off malarial mosquitos and you awaken clamouring for your inhaler in attempts to breathe) But the best part is snuggling into your bed which has been prewarmed with a hot water bottle. (Although i have to thoroughly inspect all the corners of the bed with a flashlight before crawling in (you know all those life threating rare diseasea and poisonous creatures are found in places like remote africa) I will warn you full well though- only on safari do they prewarm your beds- at the Hotel Kunste where I spent the previous 2 weeks the greatest luxury there was the provision of communal rubber flip flops with HK inscribed in them with a pocket knife (so you couldn't steal them)
And although I lack the other exotic elements here in new england-I sometimes try to recreate it the best I can with hot chocolate, some wild animals, and a Simply Cozy tucked into my bed(4 minutes in the microwave and it is so toasty- it actually keeps me warm all night- a major feat in new england winters.)

But if you don't have one and you live in a cold place - you know what to put on your Christmas List.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

lurker amnesty day

yes it's offical - today is lurker amnesty day- I know you're out there- so post a comment and say Hi (you are allowed to remain anonymous)-I promise I am nice- With over 12,000 pageloads- Some of you owe me a comment- be it good, bad, or ugly (okay don't make it too bad and make me cry)-I know you aren't responsible for all 12,000 of those hits, some of those are misguided searchers who stumble upon me looking for spudnut recipes, billy bookcases, ralph s mouse lesson plans and other random things.

So be brave and show me some comment love today and if you come out now I won't hunt you down-

Saturday, October 14, 2006

autumn musings

Yes we are just at peak foliage (here is smart baby chillin' in the back yard)- I have to say for the record how much I love the flaming oranges and reds of sugar maples- hands down my autumn favorites. I think it is the artist in me and my penchant for painting branches that predisposes me to this tree love. I am mesmerized and constantly distracted by them- Leaf peeping must be the cause of a lot of accidents and that is why car insurance is so outrageous here. (then again maybe it's just bad drivers and badly designed roads)
Today we had fall family pictures see them on my friends blog (here)
And here is a pumpkin shot for extra fall feel
Autumn is natures way of softening you up and making you love life in new engalnd before you get slammed with utter bone chilling, ice torture and grayness (aka winter). When living in New England it is requisite to have an entire wardrobe arsenal to combat the 9 months of cold. It has only taken me 5 years of of living here to realize the wool pea coat just doesn't cut it for everything. There are multiple coats and jackets necessary each with it's own unique weather niche- My love of the week- puffy vest. Yes I will now expound upon the virtues of the puffy vest. 1. It really does keep you warm (something i was long skeptical of) 2. It sort of warms your core? It has a cozy feel to it 3. It doesn't get it your way- I hate bulk, no dragging sleeves, etc. It allows great freedom of arm motion- a true motherhood necessity. The only down side is the swooshing nylon rubbing sound when putting smart baby down for a nap.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

smart by "association"

Yes, this year's Nobel prize winner (in medicine) goes to my Y. Yes, my very own little YMCA. It just goes to show you never know who you'll be sharing a pool or exercise equipment with. I feel like one of the cool kids now- in fact I think I feel myself getting smarter.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Phantom inflation

You may now it as doorbell ditching or phantoming, in our neighborhood its ghosting. You know where you leave a cutesy poem, and a treat and knock and run- with the injunction to continue the chain. Well something happened along the way- when I was growing up a plate of cookies was a total score- here is a photo of standard "ghosting fare" in our neighborhood-(tonight's loot) A pail, a stuffed animal, a book, an activity book, a DVD, pencils, plastic spiders, webs, bats (which smart son insisted wanted to sleep in his room under his dresser- a suitable habitat) a cat paper punch, candy (most of which got eaten in the heat of the moment), & window clings. I think I will have to have ghosting supplies as a separate column in this months budget.

also for those not in New England- falls here are glorious- here are some apple picking photos from our run to the farm - it is walking distance from our house. yep no grocery store in my town but hey we've got farms and white churches and a town center with gazebo!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

If you were a dessert you'd be

So I was driving home alone in the car from the store the other night- it was 930 and I had dessert on the brain the combination of this and free reign of radio controls (sans backseat shrieking) got my right brain going and this was my "deep thought"- "If I was this song what dessert would I be?". Needless to say I easily passed the time flipping through stations on the radio and here were some of my match-ups.

Michael Buble- Home- Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
James Taylor- Shower the People- Carrot Cake
John Mayer- Waiting on the World to Change- Banana Split
Frank Sinatra- Come fly with me- Vanilla Milkshake in soda fountain glass
Rob Thomas- Ever the Same- Friendly's fordbidden chocolate ice cream
Snow Patrol- Chasing Cars- Raspberry Sorbet with a dark chocolate dipped shortbread stick on the side
B-52's- Love Shack- grocery store cupcake with heavy frosting and sprinkles
Aerosmith- Angel- Vanilla Napoleon
Simon and Garfunkel- Like a Bridge over Troubled Water- Almond Poundcake
Louis Armstrong- What a Wonderful World- Apple Pie- cold - no ice cream

I then had the idea that it would be very fun to not limit it to desserts only- because some songs definitely have a savory feel- (c'mon this screams Barry White) It would be fun to have a dinner party- the soundtrack for which was designed with exact song/food harmony- or maybe I could start a restaurant and in your booth the corresponding song would play as you ate your food-
so come on play along- the last song you heard- give me the food accompaniment

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

mostly mom with an order of artist on the side

I've been busy- Sometimes it is hard when you aren't taking a class to make yourself grow as an artist, and then again right now I am really mom with an order of artist on the side. I try to force myself to change styles, genres in order to stay fresher but, still you always feel like your work looks like your work- I know that's not necessarily a bad thing but I like change, so I try to mix it up. I remember one studio art assignment to do 50 pieces in a weekend- sometimes just cranking out volume improves your work- well I certainly can't produce like that with my household to run--but I can give myself my own assignment- So here are the products of 5 days nap times and evenings- Usually I can't paint this fast- I guess sometimes you just have "energy" you have to get out and this week I channeled it into painting (when I haven't been finishing the bat costume or doing my exotic tasks like laundry--So this week I did 7 paintings- here are some of them- 3 impressionistic, 2 abstract, and 2 landscapes (a rarity for me!)you'll notice no portraits in that list! I forced myself to be a master color mixer on the landscapes and confined my palette to 4 tubes of paint (white, red, yellow, blue- true primaries. It is slower but really makes you think in terms of color theory.

So we have
Arches 18x24
Newport- 16x20
Peonies- 16x20
Hollyhocks 16x20

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

umbrellas are for sissies

I really like the rain, but I am not an umbrella girl. That is unless it is a torrential downpour and I am wearing some dry clean only clothes or attending some major event in which I must appear well coiffed. I say let it rain. I actually like the feeling of getting wet, I love feeling those cool tiny droplets on my skin. It really doesn't bother me at all. When ever I see people with umbrellas I am reminded of a minor story by Isaac Asimov I read in Jr. High called "Rain, Rain Go Away" about some people with peculiar neighbors, the Sakkaros, who in the end turned out to be made of sugar. This snippet of science fiction always pops in my head when it rains and someone offers me an umbrella- and my first response is usually- "That is okay- I won't melt". As a child I used to play "rain" by setting up my smurf sprinkler in the front yard and then sitting under it in my swimsuit with an umbrella (my way of blocking out the sunlight which would ruin my carefully crafted illusion. Then I would stick my arms and legs out so I could feel the rain fall on me. My parents attempt to civilize me by giving me their extra umbrellas when they come to visit,(because I don't buy them) but to no avail, they sit in the closet until they come and rouse them to use or my children question how these novel button and spoked objects work.

A picture of some of my favorite rain circa 2000- in Siberia- I was 12 weeks pregnant with smart son at the time and the cool misty rain was the one thing that kept me from spending the entire trip vomiting!

Monday, October 02, 2006

no one tells you

There are a few things no one tells you about before you have kids - first- When you are nursing you will literally be up every 2 hours to nurse- which will take 40 minutes and then you go back to sleep and wake up 1 hr and 20 min later- repeat cycle through the entire night for months on end (at which point your are so sleep deprived you resemble someone on heavy doses of controlled substances)! the second secret is the high chair stage- And for the record- I HATE the high chair stage-absolutely, positively, can't stand this part, IMO the most tortorous part of young motherhood.
Stickiness everywhere, crumbs in every crevice, morsels of food scattered all over my floor, 2-3 outfits a day, no bib or washcloth is an equal match for this evil, no matter how clean you get it the cycle repeats itself 5x a time and you are taken from clean to filth in a matter of seconds. Here is an image- for you to appreciate--smart baby's high chair- after his breakfast of oatmeal and muffin. smart baby is not the neatest or most agreeable eater which only serves to complicate matters. I would be so much happier if there were disposable high chairs- or atleast some sort of auto carwash you could send it through with high powered brushes and sudsing action, instead it is mom with a toothbrush and bleach water- All I can say is smart baby- I love you alot and if you weren't so incredibly cute you 'd be eating in a trough on the floor.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

close you eyes and put out your hands

I love surprises- I do and I am terribly impatient so I have a hard time surprising anyone with anything because I get so excited I have to tell them. Today as I was assembling a "surprise mystery package" for a some friends (I have blogged before about my intense love of the "surprise mystery package" but seriously it is something I dream about at night--when the doorbell rings and you answer it to see the UPS guy driving off and there before you on your doorstep is a mystery in a brown box- waiting for you to open it-- this is where the warm fuzzies set in) smart son came bounding into the playroom telling me he had a surprise. His line is always "close you eyes and put out your hands" to which i responds "I will only put out my hands if it is not alive" (he has no fear- and can catch any creature!) Well today the surprise was one of my least favorite things a snake- yes, he caught it himself on the sidewalk. Tip for smart son- the mystery package is welcomed more warmly when it isn't alive and doesn't hiss...(we should've invited him to our sn@kes on a cake party!)