Sunday, December 6, 2009

Baby I'm a Rock Star

We have the American Idol game for the Wii. Essentially, this is karaoke at home (with the computer versions of the three American Idol judges) and I have to say it's a fun, albeit high-pressure way for Vaughn to practice reading. Plus, if you set it to "easy" it's pretty much a given that you're going to be rated Gold or Platinum (although I did manage to get my rendition of a Depeche Mode song ended early by the judges. Twice). This forgiving rating system is very affirming for Vaughn and he takes his high ratings as a sign that he must be a most excellent singer since "I barely even know the words!" He's even started to add bonus elements like "WOO!" and "Yeah!" in the beginning of songs when they are cuing up.

Unfortunately, in addition to a singing style that consists of mostly shouting the words, he also sticks to a very predictable line up that includes Life Is a Highway, 867-5309 (the "Jenny" song) and Eye of the Tiger. The crown jewel in the repertoire is Vacation by the Go-Gos. Vacation is sung over and over and other songs are really just filler in a long-running soundtrack of Vacation on repeat. I love the Go-Gos and at first I couldn't have been more happy with this but now it's a little maddening. Still, it's all pretty adorable and I really wish he'd let me videotape him more. All videos have to be taken very surreptitiously.

Even the Wii has apparently had enough of Vacation as Vaughn finished up the latest round to have a message appear that said, "Try a new song! Maybe you'll find a new favorite!"

**Update: The favorite song has switched now to Eye of the Tiger and has been memorized so that it can be sung outside of playing Wii. He will sing it with or without the Survivor video playing in the background. One morning I think we heard it ten times before we left for school. Whenever my brain is having "quiet time" - Eye of the Tiger is there.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Blowin in the Wind

Vaughn loves playing "Monster" with Jacob. This game is nothing more than them beating each other with couch pillows which allows them to act stereotypically male and I get to come around behind like the stereotypical female and say things like, "Watch the vase!" and "Can you please put the couch back together when you are done?"

At any rate, Monster also involves coming up with their WWF-style names. Sten was spending the night tonight and Vaughn explained that in the game his name was typically "Rock Baby" or "Muscles" but that Sten could be anything - even Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan? In the end, in true Vaughn and Sten fashion, they settled on Muscles and Muscles 2.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Times are not easy on one foot. I am terribly bored and feel very restless and isolated. I'm frustrated that I can't be out enjoying this unseasonably dry weather (which, I guess I should be thankful for since when it starts raining I'll be hauling myself around with a plastic bag attached by rubber bands over my foot). It has made me anxious and suddenly everything that is out of place in our house seems to be mocking me. Consequently I'm overdoing it and my foot hurts and swells a little more than it should.

Yesterday Jacob took me to Powell's to get a new book since the one I had gotten just before the surgery was boring. Powell's was crowded and it filled me with great joy to watch people jump to get out of my way and apologize unnecessarily. It reminded me of being very pregnant but better because people cannot always be counted on to move out of the way of the very pregnant (probably because they sense our smugness). Anyway- all was well until I started to feel nauseous from standing so long and felt an urgent need to be done and out of there. We were on our way out when Jacob stopped to talk to someone he knew working there. Standing behind him, I gave him the "can we please go" sign by nudging him with the bottom of my crutch on his leg. I would have done the same thing with a discrete foot nudge had I had the ability to nudge with my foot. Well, suffice it to say that being nudged with inanimate objects seems to fall in a different category - one that some may categorize as "rude" - but we're beyond that now.

Last night I hopped in the middle of the night into the bathroom on my one good foot only to hop into a puddle of pee (cat? dog?) on the bathroom floor. Like I said- life on one foot has not been easy.

The picture is a fantasy I had of cocooning until my foot heals. I also seem to be cold all the time from lack of activity.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Bloody Mess

Today is the day of my second foot surgery and tensions are high. Partly because I can't eat or drink anything and partly because Jacob keeps tackling me in an effort to get me to relax (which seems to have the opposite effect). Mostly though, I'm worried because I broke the rules and took Ibuprofen within the last week. Ibuprofen has the potential to act as a blood thinner and so you aren't supposed to take it for a full week before any surgery. Last week I had a cold and my head hurt so I broke down and maybe four or six over the course of two days. This wouldn't concern me but on Saturday (Sunday?) I had a headache again and broke down and took two more. I don't want to fess up because I'm afraid they'll postpone the actual surgery regardless of what the actual risk is. This morning I got up at 7 am to try and do a little on-line research via Yahoo Answers - which naturally can be trusted since anyone can log on and throw their own two cents in the arena of medical advice. I'm not afraid I'll die - just that it will be a bloody mess and obvious that I lied. Jacob thinks all will be fine since, as he reminded me, I did the exact same thing last time and had all the same concerns. So much from learning from your mistakes.

**Update: I'm out of surgery and everything went fine. Mostly I'm just cranky not from pain but from inconvenience. I get a lot of satisfaction from "kicking" at things with my crutches - I imagine old people with canes find this very satisfying too.

**Chinese Hieroglyphics on my foot instruct the doctor on which foot to cut up.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Kickin' You When You're Down

My eyelid drooped tonight. Just as I was leaving Natasha's birthday dinner I was very cognizant that the upper part of my eyelid was sticking to my lower eyelid. That's a sign your face is falling - sliding. And on the eve of my bunion surgery no less. Kind of like an extra "fuck you" from the aging process. Jacob acted like he had no idea what I was talking about but I knew. This is one of the main things people get plastic surgery for - wide eyes is a sign of youth. Now I'm slumpy - like a basset hound. The only thing that keeps me sane is looking at the website a website dedicated to mocking celebrities with their bad plastic surgery. If those poor bastards with all their money can't end up looking decent what options remain for the rest of us? It's artfully contoured eye make up from here on out.

** I love this image. I love how the non-aged face is "normal."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Switching Gears

Today at lunch Vaughn suggested that if Jacob and I wouldn't have another baby he would get his own - via Santa of course! I said Santa doesn't bring babies (kind of like they don't bring mechanical toys at Kahmali's house) but Vaughn dismissed this with an optimistic "you never know." I said, "What about a punching bag?" but he still felt that a baby would be better. Rather than trying to change the subject I decided to pursue this a little further - why, exactly did he want a baby. Turns out he thinks that babies can be trained to wash dishes. What is so hilarious about this is that it is not as though Vaughn is expected to wash dishes or do really much of anything around here so I'm not sure if he was hoping to replace his current workload or what. Anyway-in the end he said it was that he "really just wanted the cuteness."

**As a side note I've remarked to Jacob that I find it awfully interesting that somehow I'm the only one who has to deal with Vaughn's babylust. He never brings it up to Jacob.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Round Two

Today I went in for my pre-op appointment for my second bunion surgery. I got into the waiting room and it was small and crowded and filled with ill-behaved children (actually just two but they take up more space). I had only been there for three minutes when a lone purse sitting on a chair had a phone go off inside. The ringtone was Katy Perry's wretched song, I Kissed A Girl. Apparently the owner was in the doctor's office and just left her purse in the waiting room. The ringtone played the entire song - or at least a good two-thirds of it. I didn't even know you could get ringtones that long! It ended and then one minute later started up again. There was an older couple sitting a few seats down and the man turned to the woman next to him (presumably his wife) and asked (hopefully?), "Is that your purse?" It was not. At that point I got up and walked into the hallway dividing the two waiting rooms. I could not make eye contact with the fellow patients while that song was playing. My timing was right because it started up again.

The appointment was fairly routine and, since this was my second surgery, I knew the drill. I was disheartened to hear I won't be given the option of the dissolvable screw this time since Kaiser decided to stop dealing with the company that makes them. Also, when I asked if I could get one of those plastic coverings that would allow me to take a shower instead of flopping into the bath with my leg hanging out I was told that they weren't offered and if I needed to keep my foot dry I should wrap it in Saran Wrap and stick several plastic bags over it. I find this particularly insulting since, as I pointed out, I had seen a poster for these leg coverings the last time I came to get sized for my crutches.

As is Kaiser's way I had to sit for a really long time in the waiting room but I came I way with this awesome picture of my X-Ray. I sent it to my brother on the way home and was texted back, "Gross. What is that?"

** So the little round lump to the right of my big toe is actually a bone that floats in the tendon running under your foot. Normally it is under the larger bone that is jutting out to the left on my foot. They'll cut the bone through right under where the bunion is, rotate the bone, pin it back so it is straight and shave off any extra material. I'll be left with a much more aligned foot and a scar to match the left.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jump Around

Before I really dive into this next post let me first say that it is SO much easier to clean the backyard this fall without the goats or chickens. As I was outside raking it really started to occur to me why people might not have a bunch of animals.

Anyway, so Jacob's been taken down by a cold. And when Jacob gets a cold he is really taken down. In our division of labor it has generally been decided that he takes Vaughn to birthday parties because he is clearly the more social of the two of us. Today- literally three minutes before they were to walk out the door to a birthday party - he pleadingly asked me if I might consider taking Vaughn to the party. He looked so sad and pitiful that I agreed.

It wasn't until I got to the party that it really hit me that, although I had showered, I had just put back on the same shirt that I had worn to work yesterday (and then slept in) and the yoga pants I'd been living in. I also hadn't bothered with deodorant.

The party was at a bouncy castle emporium called Pump It Up in a giant industrial park in Beaverton. After watching a quick safety video on how to not squish each other in the castles, the kids shucked off their shoes and began running around in the first room. I settled in on a bench but after about ten minutes got the news that ADULTS could jump and play in the castles. I tossed off my shoes and ran to find Vaughn, who honestly seemed sort of embarrassed to see me as the only adult out there. Pretty soon a few other adults started also playing but anytime I strayed too far from my primary playmate I felt less legit and more strange- like those people who still go roller skating at the roller rink on a Friday night by themselves.

We ran around in the first room for about 15 minutes and I was satisified to think this was a pretty good substitute for the gym workout I'd be skipping today. While I was running and laughing just like the kids, I'm guessing few of the six year olds were thinking I'll bet this is really toning my ass! while scampering up the inflatable ladder for the giant slide.

Half way through the party they shuffled us into an adjacent room that was bigger and had even bigger bouncy castles. After about five minutes in the room they cut the lights and rainbow disco lights started up with really bad 90's dance music. It created the bizarre sensation of being at a rave with a bunch of first and second graders.

Fifteen more minutes and we were directed into the party room for cake where our early 20's host stood at the door with a giant bottle of hand sanitizer to squirt us with before cake time.

Vaughn, possessing the skills only a Japanese hound dog might have, immediately figured out that the goodie bags contained a Bakugan. He was too late to choose his seat based on which bag contained the best Bakugan so while other kids sat and ate their cake he worked the room, trading up a total of four times before finally coming away with a G-Level he was satisfied with.

All in all it was a really good time and I found myself wondering if my friends would drive to Beaverton if I had my birthday at Pump It Up. But then again, I'm guessing alcohol doesn't fit with the safety policy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Ticcy

Vaughn was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome when he was five. I kinda of get a kick out of telling people this because their minds immediately go to a place of imagining him yelling obscenities and racial slurs. In reality, that type of Tourette's is super rare and Vaughn's type is seen in one in ten children at some point. His version is characterized by a series of verbal and motor tics lasting more than one year (and maybe not taking a break for more than six months but I can't remember exactly).

What is so fascinating about this is how clockwork it is. It always starts with the start of school and wraps up sometime after January. It always starts with a variation on an eye tic (the most common type of tic) and moves into a motor tic. Five is the age when it generally shows up and if Vaughn continues to be a textbook case, we'll see it continue until about age 12, maybe peaking around age 10.

When it first appeared it took the form of his eyes rolling back at an alarming frequency - maybe every 5 seconds when he would have an episode. It was really alarming and we ran him through a battery of tests but it was narrowed down to tics pretty quickly. Other eye tics that have made an appearance include rapid blinking and turning his head slightly so he appears to be looking out of the corner of his eye.

When the vocal tics occur they start with throat clearing (which is the most common vocal tic). This year he's mixed it up on us with also adding in a couple weeks of burping (which was okay, but not my favorite) and as I sit here writing this he's over at the table drawing and doing what can only be described as huffing (which is kind of like throat clearing but more dry). The only thing about this that bums me out is that it makes me feel like my own lungs are dusty. Since we're in cold season most people probably don't even know he's doing this and it may be his saving grace in keeping this under the radar from his peers. Finally, he does a cute little vocal tic when he is playing by himself that sounds like "pew! pew! pew!" and makes me think there is an on-going Star Wars fight scene in his mind.

The vast majority of the time he's not bothered by the tics (although it's fair to say he doesn't like talking about them and we don't push it). Of all the crazy things that can go wrong with kids - we feel pretty darn lucky. The only time I get a little sad is when I wonder if his peers will start to pick up on it but we'll cross that bridge then.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Today was a hard day because Vaughn's teacher sent us an email saying he had been misbehaving in class. She said that while he was a wonderful child whom she was confident could correct his behavior, lately he'd been disruptive and distracting. It's not really a huge surprise as he's been pretty mouthy at home lately. At any rate, he's been sentenced to one day without "screen time." He must have known he'd messed up pretty big because the rest of the evening he was very polite and easy to get along with. He did some painting and reminded me that he wanted to be an artist when he grew up which, I guess if you are going to be disruptive and anti-authoritarian is a as good a career choice as any. He drew this sketch of Jacob which, while very detailed and beautiful, seems to suggest his father lives in the ally and holds people up as his job.

In other bubble-shattering news today we discovered its been HANNAH and not Suki that has been crapping and peeing in the basement. Oh she did a good job covering her tracks alright, using the litter box just enough to throw us off the trail. And truth be told, it was pretty easy to believe that the one who pees and shits all over the house was also doing it in the basement.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Keep to the Code

Sometimes I find myself looking forward to the end of the belief in Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy. This is mostly because it can be very confusing as parents are always mixing it up. There should be rules - maybe as a standard appendix in the back of baby books. For instance, just when I thought a dollar had become the gold standard for a lost tooth, the Tooth Fairy had to go and bring Sten a whopping FOUR Dollars (true- he lost his first tooth a good year and a half after most kids lose their first but still). Then Vaughn told me that he wanted the Tooth Fairy to start bringing him Pokemon cards. I explained that the Tooth Fairy only trafficked in dollars but apparently she does bring his friend Harman Pokemon cards. Kahmali's family seems to have a rule that Santa doesn't bring "electronic presents" which, while quaint, is going to be difficult to explain when other classmates are discussing their new Nintendo DS systems courtesy of the North Pole.

I also don't like the way that Vaughn is devising ways to scam the system. Like asking Santa to bring him the entire drawer of Pokemon cards he saw hidden behind the counter at Rite Aid. As though Santa were a magical partner in crime. After he saw the Rite Aid treasure trove he scribbled out a note to Santa and put it by the exposed chunk of old chimney in our kitchen despite the fact it does not lead to any actual fireplace. The worst part about this note though was that it was asking Santa for "The World's Most Powerful Pokemon". Now I don't even know what that would be and it's not like Pokemon Corp. will make it easy to aquire. I think Santa may have to write a note explaining the evils of big corporations. Or maybe he'll write a story of a little girl in Poland who only had one Pokemon card but love in her heart. At any rate, this might be the last year Santa comes through. Tonight at dinner while playing the guessing game Taboo, the answer was "The Abomidable Snowman" and my clue was "He's not real and lives somewhere cold" and Jacob blurted out "Santa!" You can only cover for that kind of misstep for so long.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Sometimes Vaughn says questionable things like, "Where does daddy keep all his money?" and I worry. But then I find out that he just wants to know where to put the money he owes him for Pokemon cards and I feel good again. Yesterday he said, "On this day the dog will pay" which sounds bad but he gets pretty defensive when I discipline the dog so I think we're okay.

I found out today there is an entire wiki site for Pokemon! If you are old enough to understand and navigate a wiki site aren't you too old for Pokemon? It must be sort of like the Eagle Scouts of the toy world. It's also called Bulbipedia - which makes no sense to me but very few things about Pokemon do. I felt bad today because Vaughn asked me for the millionth time to compare two Pokemon and tell him which one I liked best. I was cranky and so I said, "Vaughn I really don't care that much about Pokemon" and he was sad and then said, "Daddy likes it." Jacob: 1 Leslie: 0

Oh the hair

Vaughn has great hair. It is thick and slightly curly and comes straight from his dad. Unfortunately, for the longest time, he's also had a very strange haircut. It all started when he decided to grow it out and so I got the idea to cut the sides thinking he could have some sort of cool, longer mohawk. It never really looked mohawkish though and instead looks like some sort of mullet that has long hair in the front as well as the back. He refuses to let us cut it and I know some day he'll look back on pictures and be horrified that we let him go around with this haircut. For now, though, I think I'd be happy to just have him stop chewing on it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vaughn is Mystery Training

Jacob pulled in tonight with Vaughn and he immediately announced that he was going upstairs "to play." I was downstairs fixing dinner when I heard persistent banging upstairs. I went upstairs to find out what was going on and it turned out he was kicking a mattress that had been stacked against the wall.

What are you doing?
Yes, I see that. Ummmm...why?
For fun.
Okay. Ummmm...are you training for something?
Okay - are you kicking for fun or are you kicking because you are mad?
Kicking for fun.

I decided to let him have space and go downstairs. Pretty soon he was calling down for a clue as to where the jump rope might be. I think he might be exercising by jumping on the bed now because there is a whole lot of squeaking happening. Why this sudden need to cross-train? I'm not sure how confident I feel that the motives are health related. I just hope I don't get a call from the school that Rocky busted someone in the shin.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

Last weekend we did our annual trip out to the pumpkin patch on Sauvie Island which always starts with a trip to the animal barn. The animal barn is always a let down as most of the pens stand empty and the animals are never very impressive. This year however, was downright depressing. The goat turned it's head to reveal a jaw marked by what appeared to be two golf ball sized tumors and the mini-horse stood in the corner the entire time with its head down and its back to us.

Vaughn and Sten Write a Song

Vaughn's class had a roller skating party at the community center last Saturday and the song list, as developed by the class, ranged from the classic-albeit-a-tad-bit-juvenile (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) to the clearly-influenced-by-parents (My Generation) to the not-quite-appropriate (Katy Perry's Hot and Cold). That last gem was provided by Vaughn and as the person in charge of providing the playlist CD, Jacob had to download the karaoke version to get a version that didn't include swearing. While she is likely to be soon forgotten, Vaughn will be able to cite Katy Perry as one of his earliest influences. I came across these song lyrics that he said he co-wrote with Sten:

You used to be
Hot and Boring
Now you are like
Nothing I've ever seen
Like a rock in the ocean

Annalee pointed out that Vaughn had probably been the main driver for the racy lyrics since, after all, he had been the one who was once overheard telling Sten to envision "a princess dancing on the beach in her bikini." I was surprised that at this tender age he's already realized that most hot people are boring.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Going out of (Chicken) Business

Recently, a 75 year old woman was attacked by a gang of raccoons she was trying to scare off her front porch. The poor woman fell and was, as one medic described, "filleted." Personally, I've always thought of raccoons as really adorable - like an urban bear - despite knowing that they really are vicious sonsofbitches. I get sort of excited when I see one in the city as though I really were seeing a bear in the city instead of something that is only slightly more unique than a squirrel.

Last night the raccoons that have squatted in my neighbor's tree came back for two of our last three chickens. We went out early in the evening and neglected to lock up their coop since it was just dinner time. By the time we returned, it was all over - although I didn't realize this until I went to open the coop this morning and there was only poor, tiny Muffy Fluffy left. Sad, small Muffy Fluffy who lived through last winter's storm and has now witnessed FIVE chicken deaths.

Cleaning up disemboweled chickens first thing in the morning is no picnic but I consoled myself by telling myself that this is what is required to make it in the urban/rural environment. I was taking care of my homestead - like a rugged pioneer woman. Plus, I worried the left over parts would begin to smell and the neighbors might complain.

Speaking of neighbors, I gather a few of them rushed over after hearing a "horrible screaming" to throw rocks at the raccoons and attempt to keep the chickens safe. Something we were too lazy/spacey/inept to do. I saw one neighbor walking with his daughter tonight and I imagined the teaching moment, It's very important that if you own animals you keep them safe.

Later that evening I helped a woman I found on CraigsList load Muffy Fluffy into her car to go live on her farm and it only stung a little bit when she said, "We like to take rescues because we like to see the look on their faces when they realize they've come to paradise." Mostly I felt happy for Muffy Fluffy and relieved. We were officially out of the chicken business - for now.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mistaken Identity

This morning I was horrified to hear Vaughn ask me, "Why is Hannah Montana on that box?" while pointing at the box of Sunmaid Raisins. "Hannah Montana?!" I replied, "That's the Sunmaid Raisin Girl!" - as though this commercial image was somehow more wholesome than another commercial image. But that's kinda fair - the Sunmaid Raisin Girl is pretty much like Laura Ingles Wilder and Hannah Montana is modern and Disney. My fear was misplaced though- Vaughn said, "No- there" and pointed to the printed Hannah Montana advertisement that had been adhered to the box.

Fall 2009

I took the summer off and honestly didn't know if I could start back up again. I felt uninspired and apathetic to writing. But looking back through the old posts and laughing it was easy to remember why I'm doing this - because I have a crappy memory and I do want to remember some of these little details.

It seems apropos that I would return to blogging about the menagerie this morning after losing a chicken to a raccoon at three in the morning. Yes, in the three months I took off from blogging we acquired two baby chicks and managed to have them both die. I guess this is why people always say "You and animals!" (which somehow still pisses me off - as if I'm intentionally killing them - it's a rule of numbers people! I own more so more die. Or something like that).

Anyway- I will say this - Vaughn has been lobbying me for tortoises lately and I just can't do it. Maybe I'm slowing down - not wanting to collect so many. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of cleaning and care-taking required with even our reduced brood. And I think it's fair to say that I don't believe tortoises have very good quality of life- even if you get a big tank and the required gear. But mostly I think I'm resistant because they live FOREVER.

Friday, June 5, 2009

"I Wrote That Poem - And Then I Published It"

From "A Room Full of Poets" - By Logan's First Grade Class

"The Blacks"

Five days ago I had the blacks.
The blacks that make you feel bored
The blacks that make you feel bad
The blacks that is the darkest
color in the world.
Black, Black, Black,
Black in the world.
Black can come in different colors.
Black Dark
Light Dark

I'm really tempted to write some comments - but I think I'll let this piece stand alone.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The End of The First Grade

School is winding down once again and we're getting ready for summer. As things finish up one of the big tasks facing Sunnyside is getting all the library books returned. How are they getting the kids to look under their beds and return the missing books? By promising them a bead! That's right, a single "magic" bead. I'm not sure how far up the grade levels this enticing incentive went (maybe sixth graders get two beads) but it worked on our kiddo who reminded us for days to get the books located so he could claim his prize. I kind of feel like a sucker for giving him $3 a week for chores that don't get done.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Oh So THAT'S How

Today Vaughn and I were doin' a little Saturday browsing in an antique store when we saw a completely made up bed. Vaughn pointed to the bed and said, "That's what you need to make a baby" (perhaps he wants a sibling so bad and thinks I've forgotten and so he's taken to coaching). After clarifying that he said what I thought he said I think I mumbled something reminiscent of a '50's dad like, "What are you learning at school these days?" because honestly, sometimes a gal just wants to do her antique shopping without it becoming complicated.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vaughn Turns 7

Last Saturday the blessed birthday party day finally arrived and like all birthdays thus far, it was pretty formulaic (Arrival-free play-game-pinata-cake-gifts-anxiously wait for parents to come claim children). This was the first party we'd had where parents could either hang out or drop-off and it actually made things a lot calmer with most parents choosing the drop-off option.

Literally two days before the party (and well after all supplies had been purchased) Vaughn started telling everyone he was having "a pirate party" despite the fact that nothing we'd bought fit the theme (I guess it is less exciting to say "I'm having a generic birthday-themed birthday party!"). In an effort to throw him a bone I tried to sketch out a rendering of Jack Sparrow for pin-the-eye-patch-on-the-pirate. It ended up a weird combination of overly serious (with the face being done in pencil with lots of shading and detail) and cartoonishly simplistic (with the rest of the picture being quickly added in Sharpie minutes before the party).

The highlight of the afternoon was when the majority of the kids had left and it was down to Vaughn and just a few friends who were scheduled to stay later. As they sat out on the back deck playing with his newly acquired Bakugan and Bionicles, Vaughn reclined back in his lounger and earnestly asked, "Would anyone be up for some finger knitting?" There was no reply and the play continued.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

You....Not You....You

Selecting who is attending the birthday party is rife with consternation - although admittedly it is limited to the parents at this age. Vaughn was solid on who was attending his birthday party (and it was primarily people who had been available at recess the previous week) but Jacob and I knew there were loyalties, commitments and obligations to uphold. With a little haggling we got the list to both a reasonable number and ensured we'd be able to continue to look some of our friends in the eye.

After invitations went out we realized we'd neglected to put any sort of RSVP information on the invite so I decided to do just a quick follow up note. On his actual birthday I took Vaughn to school with a small stack of inconspicuous pieces of paper and began to frantically stuff boxes before any more parents came in.

Suddenly, out of the classroom came a little boy not invited to the party. What are those? he asked me, Invitations? I sort of felt like the Grinch getting busted by little Susie Who on Christmas. Without making eye contact I coolly replied, Noooooo, they are reminder notes for parents. (Score! Technically true!) He pointed at his box, This is my box - I sometimes forget things. Then he hovered....waiting. I started to break into a mild sweat and, hoping to ditch him went into the class to speak with the teacher. After nervously mumbling something about the muffins we'd brought I exited to deliver the last slip of paper. Heartachingly, he followed me and watched to see where the last slip of paper would go. I turned and walked out of the building without making eye contact with him again. Get used to it kid, it only gets worse. I should have said they were flu shot reminders.

** Update: Apparently Vaughn deflected the blame to us by saying that he wasn't invited because, "My parents don't know you that well."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hooray for Sunnyside

Despite the frantic pace with which I drag Vaughn through his school hallways each morning, it really is a bright spot in my day. Unlike my Jr. High (which actually has it's own FaceBook group titled "I Went To South Valley Jr. High and I Turned Out Okay"), Vaughn's k-8 home is bursting with punky girls hugging each other in the halls rather than fighting each other down the street at Foster's Freeze. The band routinely practices The White Stripes in the morning (a little dated, but still) and I even saw one kid go up to a piano sitting in the hall and bust out a beautiful rendition of Van Halen's "Jump." Today was a new high though as some lone minstrel went dancing down the halls in his Obama t-shirt wearing a George Bush mask. These kids are alright.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hooray for Warm Weather

This weekend it was in the 70's and I was just beside myself with things I wanted to get done. On Sat. morning I convinced Vaughn that we should go out to Sauvie Island first thing to walk/bike (him biking, me walking) the loop trail.

We threw ourselves in the car and were out there enjoying the frogs croaking and birds chirping in no time flat. Unfortunately, I had misjudged the trail quality for someone of Vaughn's dirt biking skill and when he had fallen for the second time he was howling that he wanted to go home. As we walked back (me pushing the bike) in relative silence, he finally said, "Why did we even come out here?" The majesty of the natural surroundings was almost totally lost on him until I was able to save it at the last minute by finding an 18 inch long garter snake and picking it up by the tail.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It Finally Sticks

This morning I was downstairs and hear Vaughn yell out, "YES! I remembered!!" What could this be that he remembered (my natural thought was that it had something to do with a G level or attribute of a particular Bakugan). He followed up with, "Don't worry mom! I remembered to put the toilet seat down and flush!" I guess he has been paying attention.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Chickens

Jacob called me at work today while he was picking up Vaughn wanting to know how many chickens we were allowed to have. Apparently, four baby chicks in need of homes were in Vaughn's classroom for the last two days. Putting baby animals in need of homes in a first grade classroom seems like shady business. Smart and effective - but shady.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring has sprung!

Well, temporarily at least. We are having a few days of beautiful weather here in Portland which, as my friend pointed out, shuts Portland down quicker and more completely than a snow day.

Vaughn continues to grow (as I hear they do) and continues to delight with such sassy phrases as, "I think I already asked you to get me some strawberry juice but I'll ask you again." Overall he is as super and quirky as ever. Despite being not quite seven, we see glimpses of the teenager inside.

This morning Jacob and I were upstairs and heard music blasting from the computer at really unreasonable volumes for so early in the morning. Jacob pointed out that the music sounded "suspiciously Christian" when it took an even louder, more aggressive turn. I started downstairs vowing once again to monitor the computer searching more closely (you would have thought the superhero fetish pictures he found would have taught me a lesson). The culprit ended up being a Pokemon video set to music by Marilyn Manson. I don't think you could find a better metaphor for these pre-tween years if you tried.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Just yesterday while out walking Suki I ran into a neighbor who is quite fond of our little dog and has been a huge help in terms of walking her and occasionally dog sitting. She and I stopped to chat and she asked if she might come by that evening to take her out for a walk. That would be great I replied, she's gotten one walk in today but she's put on a few pounds and could use the extra exercise. My neighbor looked down at Suki and I could swear she said, "Put on a few pounds - just like her mother."

Now this means either:

a. My neighbor has noticed my winter weight gain and feels inclined to comment on it
b. My neighbor refers to herself as Suki's mother
c. I, yet again, heard something wrong

None of these are desirable but one is clearly better than the rest.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Great Thaw

It's the last week of February and the teasers of spring are out (despite the forecast calling for three consecutive days of rain). I've been assessing the state of the yard, which entails quite a bit of standing around with my hands on my hips and a furrowed brow. Today I thought I'd throw a layer of hay/compost that had been tossed into a spare garbage can some months ago on the garden for some soil enrichment.

When I took off the lid I discovered that the can had filled up over 3/4 of the way with rain water and created a putrid smell that can only be compared to bodies being dismembered in lye. Not being able to deal with the heavy can myself, I went into the house and roused Jacob from the couch where he napped alongside a sick Vaughn (Jacob's spring plans have included fasts and joining a running group but today seems to be all about a last minute hibernation). Jacob had a hard time understanding the urgency until he got around the side of the house and his gag reflex also kicked in. Ah, the ghost of the goats still lingered. Or at least the ghost of their shit. After getting the water down the drain, Jacob retreated back inside to the couch and I dug up the yard to bury the rotting hay.

The picture embedded in this blog is Vaughn being towed around Trillium Lake on a sled. He fell asleep about 15 minutes into the journey. Rest is in his genes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

First Dog

I just saw on-line that some kid has offered up his Labradoodle puppy to the Obamas. I had no idea that was an option! I feel a compelling urge to rush home and get Suki into the mix. The Obamas would naturally be touched (and I heard they were considering a mixed breed dog and a labradoodle is a "designer dog") and extend me unlimited visiting rights. It is my best shot at playing a critical role in this historic administration. There may occassionally be security issues but as long as I called before coming over and reminded staff that I was "First Dog Donor" I think I'm good.

Friday, January 16, 2009


I've thought about trying to find the words to accurately capture Vaughn's Bakugan obsession for some time now and really haven't been able to. It's like a slow, steady drumbeat that is constantly going in the background of our lives. It's really only problematic when he dissolves into fits of frustration over Bakugan not yet purchased, Bakugan that fall apart (because what can you really expect from a $5 plastic ball), rare Bakugan that can't be located in any store in the metropolitan area, Bakugan left out to where Suki chews them, Bakugan that ended up not being as cool as they looked in the package, etc. etc. Jacob and I try as hard as we can to muster up enthusiasm for his Baku-fever (I even went so far as to bid on Bakugan on Ebay! Which ended up being the wrong one, naturally) but it's hard to for any length of time (I can't believe it took me as long as it did to insist he wear headphones when watching the Bakugan videos on the computer). It's particularly hard to come up with answers to "what is your favorite Bakugan?" and the constant quizzes over the names of the many Bakugan.

This morning, he wandered sleepy eyed and barely awake into the bathroom where I was getting ready. I offered to pick him up and carry him downstairs and he nodded wearily and suddenly perked up, "Mom - you know what's cool about this one Bakugan...."

(The picture is Vaughn's creative modeling when I said I wanted to take a picture of him with his favorite Bakugan).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Early Video

There really isn't anything cuter than hearing Vaughn sing with his baby voice in full force.