when Cameron was in Egypt’s land

19 August 2010

Summer is ending! Or so the Facebook reports of school beginning lead me to believe summer is over. The hot heavy humid weather finally broke. The weather is now cool and dry, crisp, like you can smell the pumpkins and apples ripening in the fields.

Did I say pumpkins? Our fabulous pumpkins have grown and grown!

We have three x-large. And then four or five smaller ones. We can’t wait to carve them. I don’t think I have much of a farmer in me; it seems so bloodthirsty to plant the seed, fertilize them, water them, weed around them, and then wait until they are perfect and cut them up. And not even to eat them.

Summer is ending. And with it, the chances to take off for the day. I decided to take the kids down to the Art Museum. Wednesday was a beautiful day – blue skies, dainty puffy white clouds, Lake Michigan , dragonfly swarms!  And minds influenced by John Hughes start thinking about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  Three kids, an Art Museum, blue skies. Ah. But taking the three small-ish kids by myself, especially with the youngest still needing to be strapped into a stroller to avoid having us be shushed or worse by security guards, it doesn’t seem like the brightest idea. But the blue skies and the plan – only an hour or so there. We’re walk quickly. We’ll take in the Art Museum in a very breezy, kid-friendly way.

The Burke Brise Soleil as designed by Calatrava was magnificent. Miranda missed the wings entirely, and she still loved the space.

Bella wanted out of the stroller. The Brise Soleil is the prettiest waiting room in all of the country. It has gorgeous views. And space to run. And benches. But we could be waiting to see a doctor, or a judge or maybe even catching a plane. It didn’t prepare us to see the art collection. And it was so very light and airy and much of the gallery space is shadowed and almost dank.

Of course, with everyone snapping photos like this, who needs art?

We made our way into the museum. And maybe if I had pulled out a Monet first off or if this museum had a Seurat, Miranda would have gotten into the spirit. Instead, I thought modern might tickle our sensibilities. All those questions about what is art and the colors are so lush. Alas, I chose wrongly. Even Ferris Beuller had to deal with Cameron on his day off.

The kids area was a hit:

I missed the family packs when we went into the kids area on our way into the collections. A scavenger hunt might have helped. Of course, every time we stopped Bella decided she wanted out of the stroller. So no sketching or reflecting or slowing down for us. Henry would have liked to find out just how close you can get to the art before the alarm goes off. For the record, we did not set off any alarms.

They did appreciate the chair gallery where you could sit in the chairs! Which is way cooler than it sounds. And twins of some of those chairs were in other exhibits, which the kids noticed and appreciated.

Next time, I figure out how to get outside to the War Memorial. I think the juxtoposition and the views are interesting. Next time, we’ll check out a family pack. And next time, we’ll take Papa.


13 August 2010
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For all time and memory, Miranda put a small clear disk of plastic in her eye today. We saw our favorite eye doctor, who diagnosed Miranda with amblyopia ~four years ago. Without glasses, she still sees 20/400 in her left eye. With glasses, she sees around 20/60. And today in a contact, she saw a few letters at 20/50. Contacts probably won’t make 3-D movies work any better for her, but some tests show she is getting some stereo vision benefits from both eyes working together.

Her right eye is still humming along at 20/20 and confused about what wall the bother is about.

Like a girl whose found her identical twin, Miranda is already plotting all the ways she can refute our pleas for her to “put on her glasses!!!”

Henry’s eyes have stayed the same. His amblyopia is still there and his vision is corrected to 20./20 in both eyes with glasses. Hallelujah and pass the salt.

I didn’t take Bella back to the eye doctor. She went last year. And having two of them squirrel around is probably all I or Dr. D can handle.

August, oh August

12 August 2010

I read somewhere today (but I don’t remember where so it will be sadly uncredited) that August is the February of summer. Isn’t that the truth?

Our August has been fine. Our anniversary kicked off the month (12 years). We saw one of Rob’s brother and family. The kids would like to have cousin C visit often.  We met a new baby, darling N, last Sunday. She was so small. And adorable. And patient with my kids’ desire to paw her. Miranda had junior book club. Henry won a TROPHY for participating in T-Ball. T-ball has dragged on for Henry, his enthusiasm waning with each 3 inning game. But the trophy, wow, it buoyed his spirit. He’s ready to sign up for next year.  I know we’re supposed to hate participation trophies and the “we’re all winners” spirit of t-ball, but I disagree. I love it. I’d rather we all not lose than only one team win. The kids went to Pioneer Kids Day on the railroad in West Bend. The learned about hobos. And model railroads. And had a far better time than Miranda expected. Of course, after her plan to chalk hobo messages on our mailbox fell to the wayside, she had a hard time falling asleep, worrying that we’d all become hobos and lose our house.

We’re off to the State Fair on Saturday. Having done the Ozaukee Co. Fair last month, I think we can skip the animal barns.

It is incredibly, soul-despairingly hot here. I don’t want to go outside. I don’t want to let the kids out, not that they are enthused. It is hot. We (our family, not humanity) are not meant to live in the desert, I’d guess. I venture out at some point to check on the garden. Harvesting has begun. The zucchini had to be trimmed be trimmed back – too much miracle grow? We have 3 huge pumpkins, grown from seed! They are amazing! And several small pumpkins. I’d love to have more pumpkins next year. I am most excited to watch my red and orange bell peppers – they are just tinged red and orange. The zucchini feel like I am paying to harvest them. But red peppers feel like someone is handing me crisp dollars along with the yummy vegetables.

We have begun shopping for Miranda’s birthday. And Bella’s will be right behind. Ah, August. School is sneaking up on us. Boo!

right field

19 July 2010
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I better post about T-ball before the season ends. Henry plays. Rob coaches. Miranda, Arabella and I cheer.


14 July 2010
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I will try to keep this rant small and light. One of the best Agatha Christie novels is Murder on the Orient Express. Okay, you can make your case for And Then There Were None. Or the sparkle of the Miss Marple stories. Are you done? Good. Murder on the Orient Express is genius. And David Suchet playing Poirot is genius. And that is why the Masterpiece Mystery Poirot Series X: Murder on the Orient Express is so upsetting. Disappointing. Infuriating.

When I saw that Poirot was on Sunday, I was delighted. My heart skipped a beat. Orient  Express. Woohoo! Long awaited. By me. If you haven’t read the book, you should. But look away from the rest of this as it will have spoilers.  I watched the movie via DVR with Miranda. And I wanted to explain the story to her. The jumble of characters. The  hidden patterns. And this movie hewed to the book plot far more closely than some of the movies. But the introduction of an adulterous honor killing in the Middle East seemed forced. And was a pain to have to explain. On the upside, she can’t imagine anyone killing someone over their marriage or family honor orreally for any reason. I find that innocence lovely.

And then Poirot defends honor killings as cultural, he has zero compassion for liars and he has not wit or joie de vivre. His “I do not like murder” stance is clear, but Papa Poirot has a twinkle in his eye and mercy in his heart.  In this movie, Poirot seems old. There are so many of the later novels that stress that Poirot is aging and feels old, but Orient Express has never fit that category for me. Orient Express is Poirot as a genius. Agile, able, and in the end, compassionate. In this movie, Poirot is old, rigid, slow. I couldn’t help but think this portrayal will fit Poirot in Curtain, the final novel. And even in that tale, he is more thoughtful.

I know Orient Express will be remade. I am dismayed that David Suchet did not create the definitive work. And Miranda didn’t even really watch the end, turned off buy the darkness. Explaining liking murder mysteries is difficult enough. What a waste.


11 July 2010

I can’t wait for English to catch up with teh Interwebs. In another era I could say I read a magazine or a book or even an article. I started to type I read words. Well, yes, that is what we usually do. Rather than reading numbers. It is so much better when I can patronize myself.

I digress, which would be an awesome name for a blog, I bet. I have read posts and articles and words expressing such love for people’s loved ones. And it made me feel awww in my heart. The secret language of marriage, which I found by way of Sarah Brown‘s guest post at Dooce, which is only worth mentioning because the guests posts have made me very happy. The shorthand of inside jokes and memories is a glue of not just marriage but friendship. And despite knowing that Rob and I have enough shorthand to develop our own sign language, I can’t think of a single example. I was reading words somewhere else , about the sweet things husbands have done for their wives. And I aww’d. And I don’t feel bereft for my lack of examples, I’m more embarrassed  for not writing down / noticing / treasuring the sweet things Rob does do.

Especially if you read Tara Parker Pope in the NYTimes and her divorce book and stats. Scary stuff. The eye roll as the sign  of contempt.*** The idea of creating annual checkups for your marriage. And as much as I get the analogy that we (should) have annual checkups for our bodies. And tune-ups our car. I pause. And my belief in the analogy fails, because who hasn’t felt like they felt fine until the doctor poked and prodded something. Or diagnosed you with PCOS and you go off birth control to see if you’re suffering from infertility. (Let’s say not really) Or that your car was fine as you drove into the 90,000 mile checkup and now they want you to replace the struts. On Rob’s car, the dealer actually told me I shouldn’t drive his car because the struts were so bad. And the independent mechanic couldn’t decide who was nuttier – them or me. Because the muffler was practically dragging on the ground. But the struts? they were fine.

Did I drop the connector thought? Just that if I don’t notice the sweet things, perhaps I am missing the big picture. Or the bad things.

In any case, I have been feeling fuzzy and warm with love. But my memory is weak. I have wondered f that is the key to a long marriage. Poor recall. Ba-dum-dum. No really. Cold Play’s Viva La Vida was on a CD in the minivan, a leftover CD that I’m sure I burned months (years?) ago.  And I like that song. But I can’t sing along to it at all – not as a crititque of my admittedly poor singing voice but because I can’t remember the lyrics. It took me forever to find what song it even was. I could hum it, but that does not enter into Google very well. Viva La Vida is like my love right now.

There are worse things. Right? I hope.

***OK the words are not cooperating. If you’d click that link, you’ll find an WSJ archive story from when TPP worked at the WSJ. And I loved her there and was delighted when she switched to the NYT because the NYT is more freely accessible. Besides the point, Sarah. This contempt in an eye roll story is from 2002. But I have read those words somewhere recently.

hot hot hot

7 July 2010
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Miranda and Henry were in the local fourth of July parade. It was so hot. After  a charming weekend weather-wise, Sunday was hot and humid. I’m glad the kids did not melt. They both rode on floats, Henry for t-ball and Miranda for swimming. I waited at the end of the parade, to allow us to make a good getaway when they were done. My mom saw them much earlier and she thought they were a bit perkier.

Click on any photo to begin the slideshow.

Happy July 5th

5 July 2010
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In the mid afternoon lull, when making dinner sounds like a ludicrous idea, I suggested we go out to dinner. To celebrate July 5th. My mom and Rob heard my suggestion. Liked my suggestion.

A real dive bar, I suggested. Somewhere to congratulate them.

By now, Rob and my mom are no longer on the same page as me. Rob had some good news at work and congratulations for him are in order, but why a bar? How would that make Rob feel loved?

July 5th? I repeat. You know, the smoking ban begins today! Yay!

And not cooking was alluring, but t-ball had to be played tonight at 5:30. It rained, but not enough to cancel the game, not that there was anyone at town hall to cancel it officially in any case.

I guess we’ll have to celebrate another night. I am quite delighted that I can take the kids bowling. Pick whatever wacky hole in the wall my dad thinks we should try for dinner. And yes, if those businesses wanted my business they should have banned smoking voluntarily years ago. Isn’t that the flip side to the let the business owner decide? The customers (me) won’t give you money ($) if you let people smoke by me. And now, I am delighted to have so many more choices. I can start worrying about whether the food is any good. And maybe whether I remember how to bowl.

June recap

28 June 2010
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Just yesterday I heard on the news that it had rained on 16 out of the past 27 days. And even with all that rain, I lost a grape plant. And when I returned the plant to Home Depot, the woman remarked, “boy, it looks dry.” As if I purposely killed the plant, just so I could return it and the go outside and buy a new plant, exactly the same type.

I should have sent my representatives.

What a bunch of clowns:

No really, circus people:

My parents took the older kids to the circus in West Bend. They were prepared and amazed.

We took Bella along with us to Miller Park to sit in the good seats. Well couches, in the back of the suite. She was underwhelmed. If she had had to sit in park seats, she would have known she had it very very good. Running. And carpeting. And a 5 year old girl to chase. And at the end, balloons!

Samurai Bella

KISS Bella

Beautiful Sisters (Bella Sorelle)

Graduation Day

One of the last pictures of the front teeth, I’ll guess. They are getting pretty loose.

perfectly good

21 June 2010
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I could say that my thoughts on the perfect (the enemy of the good) were keeping me from writing. I may have to file this under good enough, the enemy of the perfect, but really life has just been sort of busy and boring. We’re on the lazy river, y’all.

But it was the Pig that has drawn me back to the computer. I’ve utterly failed at my assignment to take a photo of Rob with each of the children for Father’s Day. Sorry sweetie!

Today at the grocery store the bagger didn’t come over and bag my groceries. And the cashier kept jamming stuff down the lane, smooshing my produce and even the boxes.  This annoys me to no end. When I was younger, PnS offered full service or self-bagging lanes. And I always choose self-bagging. I like bagging my groceries. When I am paying adequate attention, I would group things as I put them on the conveyor belt to be rung up, just so they’d be grouped for me to bag. Living in Chicago and specifically Dominick’s broke me. They insisted on bagging. And then never took advantage of my carefully selected boxes that fit just so in the paper bag. They would put 4 things in a bag and then declare it too heavy to add more. So I gave up. Pick N Save usually insists on bagging too. And when I am with small small children and the bagger is reasonably quick, I have gotten used to it – the random assortment of cleaning supplies and fruit. The frozen meat and bread.  After our move to the northern burbs, I accepted that all of the grocery stores bags, even when I don’t really want them to. The Pig and Sendiks are both reasonably good at it. I’ve even gone so far as to used parcel pickup!

Which brings me to today. I had a half full cart. I noticed my food being pushed into each other. I leaned around the cart and started bagging. Just the frozen stuff. When I have dared start bagging in the past, I have always been interrupted and then return to my place at credit card processing stand. And I was, for 1 bag load. Then he disappeared and never came back.  The cashier didn’t start bagging. I finished up. I signed my name. I almost complained to the manager as I left. But I remembered that I actually like bagging, so I didn’t.

But I do wonder what I did wrong. Was I just supposed to wait for him to take his own darn time to walk over, ask me what sort o bags I want, then start filling 22 bags?  The me from 10 years ago would have felt like I got away with something today. The me now feels like I’ve upset some weird social construct. Darn soft living!

Since I am already mulling my own  insanity… I am stuck on electric consumption. I don’t want to suck my children’s future world away with vampire appliances wasting electricity. But I think the change has to come from the appliance makers. These are my two biggies:

Laptop power versus backup. OK, I love the earth. I spend too much time on my laptop. I should put my laptop to sleep when I am not using it. Yes? But I love my data or I wouldn’t be using a computer at all. I have had a catastrophic hard drive failure, at least once. I have a backup hard drive. (I know, still not enough if the house burns down). The backup is set to run every night at 11:30. I’d set it earlier, but I am a still working at 11 often enough to make that annoying. And while the backup is running, my computer is dog slow. I want it to run updates from Microsoft and backup when I don’t want to use it. And I’d like it to sleep all of the other times I am not using it. And there is no such setting in the power management center. I reduced the time at which it puts the laptop to sleep when not in use (screen shut) and every morning it would have to run the backup when  am trying to check my email quickly before the day begins. And not having a backup sucks too.  And worse. And whether an internet backup service will slow me down while I am working is my fear for that well. And I don’t see how that could work while it is asleep, if a local connection can’t work.

The DVR on the television is the same issue again. We’re supposed to unplug our television to prevent it from using power when no one is watching TV. Except that the few hours I do watch TV, I’d like to watch a show I actually like, one not on at that time. A DVR is a fabulous thing. I don’t think anyone should watch TV without one. The DVR should be able to spread its goodness and happiness with low electricity appetites.

I hate these choices. They pit the immediate responsible choice against a nebulous and potential global gain. A hard sell even on a liberal like me.

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