Wednesday, October 19, 2011

one person's trash

My kids are treasure hunters. Not that their treasures are worth much in terms of money. My boys' treasures can be found wherever we go. Most of the time they're on the ground, hidden under clothes rounders, in those dark and dusty places we'd just as soon not think about let alone come in contact with.

Over the years they have made laundry an event that helps me figure out all the different places they've been. We're talking the colored size-indicators from store clothing hangers, nuts and bolts with or w/o rust, anything metal and weapon-worthy, rocks are highly valued, empty bullet casings (not sure where they find these), bottlecaps, paperclips, rubber bands, pinecones. One particularly horrifying find was during a walk and one of my innocent little guys excitedly brought something over to me asking what it was: a used tampon applicator. Gag! I completely freaked out, like he was going to be electrocuted until he tossed it back on the ground. Can't some people secure their garbage please? And now I was having to come up with a creative way to explain my crazed disgust to my little boy. Explain tampon to an innocent, please.

raindrops on roses

and these are a few of my favorite things....

Last week Jake learned to ride his bike. This would have happened earlier except that he has a lame mom who kept procrastinating this rite of passage due her 6-year-old. I will say that there is an unexpected benefit to delaying: if you do, your kid will learn in about 10 minutes. You'll think your kid's a genius and parental effort is utterly minimal. All of you out there learn from this and stop those shenanigans of holding on to your squealing 4-year-old's bike seat. Just delay and redirect until they're 6 and can take the training wheels off themselves.

Ava has discovered Barbie movies (shudder). Swan Lake and Nutcracker are among her favorites. It's nice to hear Tchaikovsky coming from the living room as consolation. But even more than that I love to see her dance. She has discovered the barefoot contortion of simulating dancing on point in nothing but her princess undies. I love to see her face crumpled up in confusion about why she can't stand 100% upright on those little piggies and watch her round little belly stick out with the effort. Now we get to hear things like: I've got to dance. (and suddenly she's up from the dinner table answering some silent and very urgent invitation to express herself); will you dance with me? (anyone will do); I need to dance. And I think she really does.

Last night she caught the last few minutes of Dancing with the Stars with me. I looked over and saw that she was giving it her best shot, waving arms, lifting legs, dressed up in her monstrous Princess Aurora dress and sparkly red Dorothy shoes two sizes too big. I liked her outfit better, too. At least there's no danger of body parts falling out unexpectedly.

Speaking of raindrops on roses, it is the favorite bedtime song in our house right now. Thanks to homegrown renditions of The Sound of Music performed by the Bolen and Greenan kids I know all of the words. It's great.

thank you, sir

which is what you must say after your karate teacher (called Shihan, for his rank) orders you to do 20 pushups.  The idea being that the pushups make you stronger, and you're grateful for the opportunity.  The pushups are the first activity in the ceremony to advance in rank.  The higher the rank, the more rigorous the physical requirement at the advancement ceremony -- on the day a person gets their black belt they run 5 miles and then do 100 pushups and 100 situps at the beginning of the ceremony.  Wimps not invited.

We found the greatest karate school!  After a few years of being asked if they could take karate, the boys saw their cousin Gabe do some of his karate moves and that was it.  That was the final straw.  There was no more asking.  It had to happen.

Does anyone know how much money it costs to have one kid do karate, let alone 3?  It's mind boggling.  I started searching because I was finally convinced that the boys REALLY wanted this.  But I wanted a good studio and good instruction.  We have found the perfect place.  Matt and I call it the Mr. Miagi studio.  It's not flashy and doesn't hand out advancements in rank according to a schedule or even very frequently, for that matter.  The students really earn them.  They are taught by instructors who love what they're doing, are experts at it many times over, and worked really hard themselves to get to where they are.

I love it because this school doesn't just tow the karate line that the kids have to keep up their good behavior outside of school, they actually check to make sure it's happening.  When a student is ready to advance, the school schedules a meeting with the parents where the parent has the opportunity to rat their kid out.  Whoa!  I see opportunities with this.

I am so happy to see how happy the boys are.  Each one loves it and they're good at it.  Really, they've been halfway trained in karate their whole lives with natural boy wrestling and the lightsaber fighting they were raised on from infancy.

This week Zach, Spence, and Jake each got their first advancement.  Gold belt is next and weapons training.  I can't help it, I get excited for them!

(I can't load the pictures!  Ugh, I'm working on it.)

Monday, October 03, 2011


I love fall. I love fall. I love fall.

I thoroughly enjoyed September, that happy, anticipatory slide into the busiest, best time of year. Three months of built-in parties, one after the other. It can't get better than that.

To kick it off, we made Halloween candy fudge tonight. While I can't say I love the fudge recipe (that ca
n be fixed), the candy part is GENIUS. And it can be tinkered with to celebrate any occasion or just for yumminess.

It started with a cream cheese/white chocolate sludge we'll call "fudge" -- use your own recipe here -- and mix in some pretzels and dried cherries (much better than craisins, perfectly tart, perfectly sweet). Plop that mess into a parchment-lined 8-inch baking dish and flatten with greased hands. Cover the top with
Halloween candy (we used a random mix from those big bins at the grocery store), pushing do
wn on the candy to embed in the fudge.

Put the whole thing in the refrigerator for a couple hours or until firm enough to cut through the candy without losing its shape.
I had to hold myself back from adding sour gummy worms

and Rips and gummy bears, Nerds or Junior Mints. I'll admit that when it comes to candy and celebrating and Halloween I revert embarassingly to my childhood. I have been known to request that my tired kids keep trick or treating longer, until they "have enough candy." I really don't hoard it all for myself, I just like celebrating this wondrous holiday when you can knock on someone's door and they hand you CANDY! I'm sure this craze goes back to the sugar deprivation of my youth.

Now that I think about it, sugar and I do have early beginnings. In 4th grade I "went" with my first boy ever, as in an agreement that you like each other, so you feel special, but you aren't required to otherwise associate. I was too shy to actually talk to him
much. Well, his parents owned a candy factory. It was fate, I'm sure. Our class toured it.

I was a kid made for Willy Wonka. I still like touring our local candy factory and staring up at the pipes running along the ceiling labeled SUGAR and CHOCOLATE. So much better than WATER or NATURAL GAS. Makes you feel ooey and gooey inside. Like you're in a place where anything is possible. I mean, if they have sugar and chocolate running through their pipes, there must be oompa loompas under the tables or something.

Anyway, just get yourself a good, solid fudge recipe: white or dark or milk or whatever, or even just plain good quality chocolate. Mix in the good stuff and let it get firm (or harden if you're using straight chocolate). I actually like the chocolate idea. We'll try that next.