Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ice Cream Power Struggle

Ethan and I have reached a developmental milestone.

The you are old enough to scoop your own ice cream milestone.

This milestone is proving to be more difficult to climb over than other developmental milestones. Ethan still wants me to scoop his ice cream and I'm tired of acting like the waitress. I'm not a waitress. Thirteen is old enough to scoop your own ice cream.

To encourage Ethan's self reliance in this area, I've always given him a small amount of ice cream with the thought that one day he might look forward to loading up his own bowl. But this does not seem to be the case.

Here is what the ice cream exchange usually sounds like:

Ethan: Mom, can I have some ice cream?
Me: Sure. Help yourself.
Ethan: (does not scoop ice cream. busies himself for a few minutes) Mom, can I have some ice cream?
Me: Sure. Help yourself. The scoop is right here on the counter.
Ethan: (nothing. after a few minutes. . .) Mom, can I have some ice cream?
Me: The ice cream is sitting out on the counter. The bowls are in the cupboard.

3 hours later . . .

Ethan: Mom, you never got me any ice cream. You said I could have some. I want some ice cream.
Me: Why don't we try this again tomorrow night.

And so the struggle continues.

Tune in next time for the latest in the ice cream scooping saga.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Locked Out. Again.

There is so much to do today. Spring break left the house in pig sty condition which will need to be remedied before school gets out at 3pm. I'm preparing to leave on a trip and have a long list of things to do before I go. And the door from the house to the garage is once again jammed. I should have the locksmith on speed dial. And this was the thought that woke up up around 5 am and wouldn't let me go back to sleep.

I went over and over the conversation I would have with the dispatcher this morning the minute they opened shop. I would be kind, yet firm. I've worked in customer service before and I know what goes on as soon as you hang up the phone with a raving lunatic. I'm not going to be a raving lunatic. Although having to replace a latch 3 times in the last 4 years is making me a little crazy. Especially when one latch is supposed to last 5 years.

We had to make the first replacement about 3 years ago. The second was one year ago. The third was 5 days ago. It went bad after 2 days, but it was the weekend, so I had to wait until this morning to get help.

I will mention to the dispatcher that while waiting all day for a locksmith who arrived 2 hours after the promised time-window was not a problem last week, it will most definitely be a problem today.

And I'm not a locksmith, but I'm just guessing that maybe the latch is not the problem. Maybe there is another problem that is causing these multiple latches to fail in much less than the average 5 years. Maybe they can fix THAT problem instead.

And finally, I will mention that I don't expect to pay for this visit. And if they can't fix my door, then refund my money and I'll call someone else.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Girl Books

Are you looking for the perfect book for your daughter, niece or other middle grade to young adult girl in your life? Here are a few of my favorites that you might enjoy too. Rather than writing out detailed descriptions, I've got links to the book on Amazon so you can read the description there.

Juvenile FictionDark Life by Kat Falls - science fiction, but nothing to be afraid of. It's basically a pioneer story, but the frontier is on the bottom of the ocean in the future when water covers the planet.

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner - Similar to a cinderella story, an orphan girl is raised by an awful stepmother. 

The Faeries of Dreamdark by Laini Taylor (Blackbringer and Silksinger)

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin - Chinese fables that are woven together to create a lovely story. 

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - Fantasy 

When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead - This won the Newbery last year and is wonderful. 

The Airborn Trilogy by Kenneth Oppel (Airborn, Skybreaker and Starclimber) Fantasy/alternate history 

Bat 6 by Virginia Euwer Wolff - Local Historical Fiction of a girls softball team after WWII.  

Young Adult
The Fiddler's Gun by AS Peterson - Historical Fiction (Revolutionary War) Adventure 

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly - Historical Fiction, French Revolution An awesome book, well written, but just a heads up that some of the themes may be a little heavy. Definitely for the more mature teen. 

The Seven Realms books by Cinda Williams Chima (The Demon King and Exiled Queen) Super great! Fantasy, adventure

The Braid by Helen Frost - a book in verse, so if you have someone who might not be thrilled to read, this is a quick one. Well done. Tells the story with a beautiful economy of words. I guess you could call it historical fiction. 

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier a retelling of the 12 Dancing Girls and the Frog Prince. One of my favorites. 

Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier, a companion book to Wildwood dancing. Follows one of the sisters on an adventure to Turkey. LOVED IT! 

The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy by Clare Dunkle - really loved this series 

Any Shannon Hale book, but especially Goose Girl.

Kiki Strike by Kirsten Miller - Kick-butt Girl Scouts with some skills solve the mystery of an underground city in NY. Great characters. 

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson, an orphan girl inherits a Montana homestead prior to WWI. She has a year to improve upon the land and it's hers for the keeping.

Dairy Queen by Catherin Murdock Gilbert, the main character is a great girl who isn't afraid to be herself. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Eyes Bigger Than Wallet

There's a new shop in town: Divine Frozen Yogurt.

First, this makes me feel old. I still remember what a scam frozen yogurt was the first time around. It's yogurt, so you feel healthy for eating it, but then you buy a gigantic container and top it with all kinds of toppings and really, is it that much better for you than ice cream? It's a health illusion.

Second, it's one of those serve-yourself outfits, which is also just a huge scam. I mean who can resist pulling that handle and watching the frozen goodness swirl into your cup. And who can possibly resist piling on toppings--as much as you want? And they have free samples. So you walk in and get your little paper cup and try out whatever flavor you want. For free. Then you're all hopped up on cake batter frozen yogurt and buying a giant cup is the only option.

But you can't weigh it out until the very end. And you walk right by the topping bar and how much can crushed Oreos weigh anyway? Probably not very much. Besides 44 cents an ounce is hardly anything.

And then you proceed to the register and all of a sudden you've found yourself holding $3.57 worth of frozen yogurt and crushed Oreos. Just to put that in perspective, last week I bought a 1.75 quart of Tillamook ice cream for $3.

So, you see? It's a double scam. You might be inclined to buy more because it's yogurt AND you might be inclined to buy more because you're the one getting hooked on the free samples, pulling the lever and walking past the toppings bar with their 75 different toppings, syrups and sauces.

And I'll probably be back this weekend.

Monday, March 21, 2011


There's a new pizza place in town. It's called John's Incredible Pizza. The pizza is not incredible, but the establishment is. Incredibly exciting, incredibly large, incredibly busy, and incredibly expensive. But it's spring break and I figured a splurge would be okay.

I'm not going to tell you how much I spent. I don't need a written record of it floating around in cyberspace. But I will say this: I chose to NOT go to the mountain and inner tube with the kids because it would be $20 per kid for two hours. Going to John's Incredible, however, was not really a money-saving alternative.

But, the boys had a great time. They were appreciative of the cost and knew this was something that was a special treat and told me thank you repeatedly. Which makes it all worth it, doesn't it?

So, spring break.

Tomorrow we are going to Oaks Park to take advantage of the buy one get one ride bracelets. I've talked to my local meteorologist (we're facebook friends) and asked him which day this week would be the best chance for no afternoon rain. He said Tuesday. So we're going Tuesday.

Maybe Thursday will be the beach. It does sound like fun. What is Oregon spring break without a rainy beach trip? And I could always not stop by the fudge shop to not get fudge. I love not eating fudge!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tipping Point

The new/used car buying process has begun.

I expected it to take months. Maybe even years. Some of us are very thorough. Which is good. Because those of us who aren't, do things like sign up for health club memberships without reading contracts and sometimes get into trouble.

Anyway, the current vehicle, a 1998 Mazda MPV, which I love, which has been a fabulous car for us, is in need of work. It's leaking oil like a sieve and to fix it would be pricey. Pricey enough that we decided it might be worth it to just get a new car.

But after doing some test drives last week and thinking about it, and realizing that we could save more money and get more features if we waited a year, we decided to fix the car and wait. So I took the car in to get the tires rotated. Because it was about time. And we were going to have the car for a while, after all.

Tire rotation is free at Les Schwab if you buy your tires there, which we did. But when the guy came out to give me my keys back, he said that the car was out of alignment, which caused the tires to wear unevenly, and that they were down to secondary rubber in some places. He recommended four new tires, alignment (natch), and oh, the back brakes should be replaced in about 1000 miles. Tip.

Now Les Schwab isn't one of these Jiffy Lube places that can find dirt in your filter even if they were the ones who installed it five minutes earlier. If Les Schwab says you need to replace your brakes, you need to replace your brakes.

So this morning, after about 4 additional hours of research, Robert set off to test drive some Toyota Siennas. But not before we cleaned all our stuff (booster seats, trash, Gameboy games, pens, pencils, sunglasses, reusable grocery bags, dirty socks and a fencing mask) out of our car. Because it might not be coming back.

This is my new car wish list:
MP3 hook up
multiple power outlets in the back seat
not red

Leather upholstery used to be on the list, but I had to give it up. Even though I pointed out that one of our boys is pretty consistent about throwing up on car trips.

Another one of my astute observations took the Mazda 5 out of the running for our future family car: I pointed out that the limited cargo space would probably make camping an impossibility. . . for a family of five. BUT! Four people could go camping just fine because the two back seats could flatten leaving plenty of room for a tent, sleeping bags, camp chairs, etc. I smiled big and said the Mazda 5 would be the perfect car for our family.

This is the car we are not going to get

Unfortunately, I didn't get out of camping. But I tried. I hear the Toyota Sienna has plenty of room for camping stuff.


Robert came back in the old car, which is great. I'll be heading up to the snow on Monday for a little tubing with the kids.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Books for Screen

I might as well have announced we were all going clothes shopping. Or that I was going to make only Jell-o for a whole month. Or that all three of them had to donate a kidney. Without anesthesia. The reaction I got would have been the same. 

This weekend there would be no screen--DS, Gameboy, Computer, or TV--unless there was reading first. Thirty minutes of reading for 30 minutes of screen. And there was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Ethan was certain this would be the downfall of everything. He would have to stay up three days in a row reading just to be able to ever play his DS again. (Did I mention he's a bit dramatic?)

Jonah immediately started looking for ways to get around the temporary rule: he wrote down the alphabet, upper and lower case, and told me that by staring at that page he could read every word that was ever written just by rearranging the letters in his head. I said, "No good. Get a book."

Isaac complained the least, but then again, he doesn't spend as much time with "screen" activities as the other boys who had just acquired the newest Pokemon game three days earlier.

Friday morning I woke up to the amazing sound of pages turning. It was like a dream! Until I found Jonah in his room, the glow of his DS lighting his face from under the covers of his bed. Busted! I found several possible books for Jonah to read and he resigned himself to the written word. But when I checked on him ten minutes later, he was back at the DS again. I took it.

Ethan was still being pretty dramatic about the reading rule and said there was no way he would be able to do his homework because he didn't have enough time. I told him that homework was "free" screen, but he demanded that it wasn't and that it would be my fault when he failed.

Isaac was reading his Garfield comic book.

By 9 am I was ready to give it up. There was bickering and whining and I just couldn't take it anymore. I wanted the peace the DS brings! But then Jonah took a book to Isaac's basketball game and read the entire 90 minutes. He finished Dragonbreath: Attack of the Ninja Frogs by Ursula Vernon.

Sunday afternoon, I was pleased when Ethan began listening to an inspirational talk on CD by John Bytheway. "Can I count this as reading?" Ethan asked. I was about to say, "no way" when he added, "I will stop listening to it if you say no."

He'd found my weak spot. I let it count.

I stuck it out and now, Sunday afternoon at 4pm, I have to say I am very much looking forward to Monday. The kids have been playing with each other all afternoon, waiting for screen time. And it's not the kind of playing that goes well with a parental nap. Unless you are the type of parent who runs upstairs and gets into a deep sleep before the other parent finishes cleaning up from lunch.

I'm not sure I'll do Books for Screen. The policing is what is getting me. I can't possibly keep track of three boys reading times and screen times and then do all that math to make sure they are getting the right amount of each. I'm not Einstein. Really, it's a lot of work. 

I'm more of an all or nothing parent. So in the future, I think we will have screen days and no screen days. On screen days the kids can knock themselves out with screen. The next day they will have to find other ways to entertain themselves.

I'm guessing it won't be reading books. 

I'm hoping it won't be annoying me.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Why I'm Going Running

I'm going outside to run.

It's sunny, which it hasn't been for a while, and starting tomorrow, won't be for a while longer. So, you know, make hay etc, etc.

Also, my mind is filled with stuff I don't want to think about. Stuff that might dig in and take root if I let it. And then it would grow and I'd end up staying in bed all day and feeding my family cold cereal until we ran out of bowls and spoons. I can't let that happen. There is no time for a pity party.

For one, I have to schedule and plan an ACTUAL party for Isaac, who is fully expecting one on his birthday in 2 weeks. I've done nothing. Isaac, on the other hand, has been making plans and lists for the last 11 months and 2 weeks. He's excited. He wants to know why I haven't bought his birthday present already. I have no idea what to get him for a birthday present.

So if I sit here and eat chocolate covered pomegranate candy all day, like I want to, I'll end up thinking about all the things I don't want to think about and getting all emotional. And it's not even that time of the month. I don't have time to be emotional more than once a month.

So I'm going running. And I'll listen to a funny podcast. And I'll try and think about other things like planting a garden and sewing purses and washing my sheets and figuring out what to make for dinner for the next two weeks.  But I will NOT figure out what to make for dinner for the third week.

Because the third week is my week off. And my week off is what I'll think about most while I'm running.

In the sun.