Thursday, February 26, 2009

adventures

This year we - me and the mouse in my pocket- have been trying to do at least one 'adventure' a week. Adventure meaning GO SOMEWHERE. Above you see our trip to the Stock Show back in January with Oma. The petting zoo was naturally a huge hit. Luckily we got to walk around trying to decipher poorly marked signs, pushing and dragging a double stroller, in order to find said hungry animals. This adventure also counted as 'exercise more' for mom.





We are still getting our money's worth out of our zoo pass. This winter has been so mild that we've been able to get there about once a month. In January we finally ventured into the Tropical Animal House. The snakes and the alligators were a huge hit.

Sometimes mom gets to go on her own adventures. The pottery-painting joint in town has added other firing projects to their menu of choices. They now fire glass - but only if you use THEIR glass, so I'm fighting the urge to indulge since I have plenty of glass for fusing - and have a silver clay setup. The silver clay could be totally addictive if I were a little more creative. And independently wealthy. Creating something - anything, except for dinner :) - really helps me maintain a little sanity.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

one way to make me completely lose my mind

Most of the time, I feel like a reasonably intelligent adult person. I don't use much of my brain on any kind of a regular basis anymore, but when called into action, it usually responds in the proper manner. Sleep deprivation changes the speed at which answers are computed, but the correct answer is usually reached.

EXCEPT at a portrait studio! I lose all ability to think straight. I continually get sucked in by the $9.95 package deal.*

If there were ANY truth in advertising, that fine print would read something like '1% of customers actually walk out of here choosing that package. Surely you're not naive enough to think that you will come anywhere close to this price. You know that you can never choose just one pose. We'll do our best to get your kid to smile, and you'll pay more than you wanted to, but later you'll be OK with it.'

I know I'm not getting out of there spending only 10 bucks. I have some self-awareness. But should it really be a question between pictures and a flat-screen TV?

I really should just invest some time in becoming more proficient with PhotoShop. I recognize, however, that I am NOT a professional photographer, and it is nice to mark each child's growth with a real portrait once a year.growth. What I really need to do is work some 'kat math' on myself. I need to PLAN on spending $500, and when I come in under that, feel great about how much money I 'saved.'

Here is our little 3-yr-old Katie. Trust me when I tell you that she does indeed have teeth. In the presence of pediatricians and photographers, however, she can neither speak nor fully smile. Maybe she was just worn out after a morning of singing and dancing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

firsts

Sunday Alex scored the honor of being the first Young child to get a hair cut. His cute curls in the back were looking too much like a mullet for his hyper mother, so she grabbed the scissors and cut the rat's nest off. She is now regretting that decision, and wishing she had just grabbed a squirt bottle and tried a little more humidity instead.

Also, over the weekend I did my first chocolate party. Margaret 2 was put to work showing off her tempering skills. No big revelation, but I have no problem talking to a group of strangers, especially about chocolate. I just don't like being pushy about getting people to play hostess and set up more tastings. Luckily I have no illusions about making a million dollars pushing chocolate - just enough to cover my own habit. I should be able to swing that without too much pain. Anyone want to justify a trip to Utah? or California? . . .

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

irony

I just got called to be the Beehive advisor. This should be an interesting time, since I haven't been in Young Women's since I WAS one. I taught my first lesson on Sunday. Topic? Homemaking. Once I got over my own hyperness about the antiquated stories used as examples in the lesson, it actually turned out pretty well. The girls are all pretty sharp and fun, so I really think it's going to be a good time.

The ironic part? For dinner last night the kids had a 'picnic' in the living room of yogurt and strawberries while watching Sleeping Beauty. Certainly not what Martha would do, but the kids had a blast and the laundry all got done.

anonymity

The social-connection aspects of the internet are very intriguing to me. I have never been a 'chat' room person. It's just not my thing - this probably has something to do with my short attention span. I signed up on Facebook because someone I know - and now don't remember who - sent me some link to something that I needed to be a member to see. There appear to be MILLIONS of applications you can use on there - again, I am lacking the patience to check them out.

The blogging craze is also very interesting to me. I'm sure there are now any number of doctoral theses (for those SOFT sciences, of course) written on the impact blogs have had on social interactions and even on politics and the main-stream media.

I'm intrigued by this medium that has such a potential for good. One example of this to me is the case of the Nielsen family. A popular blogger and her husband were severely injured in a plane crash. Numerous readers and other bloggers banded together and held countless auctions to raise money for their recovery. Tons of money was raised in a very short time. It was very inspiring to me that such a supportive community could exist by means of the internet.

Following the nature of opposition, something that can be so good can also has the potential for ugliness. I'm not generally a big reader of the 'comments' of the blogs that I follow, because I'm mainly interested in what the originally writer had to say, and not so much others' reactions. Sometimes I'll read them for a good laugh. The potential for misunderstanding the written word is pretty high, particularly in this medium where often the reader (I should say of popular blogs) doesn't actually know the writer. Sarcasm is not always easy to detect, and some folks really get in a tizzy about something they didn't understand in the first place.

Lately I've been struck by the cowardice of 'anonymity.' I've read a number of anonymous commenters complain about the narcissism of the blogger to whom they were responding. That just seems obvious - isn't the act of writing a blog in itself narcissistic? Anyone who writes is presuming that someone else out there CARES and actually wants to read what's being said! But how much more narcissistic is it to assume that your COMMENT to a blogger is going to change their behavior? That is just baffling to me. The irony there would certainly be lost to these commenters. If you don't like what someone is writing, or you think they are totally self-absorbed, then QUIT READING! It's even easier than changing the channel on the TV for crying out loud! Just don't type in that URL in the first place. Click away from the page. Spend your precious time doing something else!

More bizarre and simply sad to me is the need to attack someone personally through an anonymous comment. Many people choose to write about their personal struggles or feelings in blogs. Recently a friend wrote about losing a friend of hers to an illness. She expressed heartfelt sorrow at the loss of this friend, and expressed how she makes sense of it. The FIRST comment was from some anonymous coward, self-righteous enough to point out what was WRONG with her and her expression of grief, but too spineless to even sign their name.

I believe the intent of anonymity is to help foster free speech - e.g., you aren't as likely to say what's wrong with your work place if your boss knows you're the one pointing things out. And it is certainly appropriate at times. It just saddens and really angers me when people use it as a shield to hide behind to lob insults.

I'll get off my soapbox now. Imagine how irritated I'd be if I actually ever wrote about anything more controversial than the theme of Katie's birthday cake or the excitement of Alex's first hair cut.

Monday, February 9, 2009

my new assistant

Say hello to my new favorite toy: the Revolation-1 chocolate tempering unit, or 'Margaret 2' as I have already christened it. This baby arrived last Thursday, and the inaugural run went down shortly after I brought it in the door. 45 minutes from start to stop for a half pound of chocolate! I didn't do anything fancy - just played with my new molds - but this thing is awesome. Notice that lovely pool of melted chocolate on the right. Throw the chocolate in one side, come back when it beeps and you're ready to go.

The original Margaret is naturally funnier and much more entertaining, but for speed and efficiency this baby can't be beat. And I can actually do candy with a little friend, which messy Kat would have no chance of pulling off using the old method. Max helped out, and I didn't even get any chocolate on him. I laid him down in the middle of the action, came back and finished. This is perhaps something only the original Margaret can appreciate, but normally when we dip candy it takes HOURS and you have to block out a good chunk of time because of the mess. AND there is next to no waste. This year we only did one pan of caramels, because it was just too tricky to work around my three amigos.

In a perfect world, Margaret 1 will come out (or just move here!) and help me and Margaret 2 dip candy.

This puppy works great, but was also a great deal. I searched online for a few months - it probably would have taken Rog about 10 minutes - and the best price I could find was $400. I finally found it through Dove Chocolate Discoveries for $200, and for hosting a party got one for 1/2 off! Using Kat-math (so dubbed by Rog) that's $300 that can now go towards . . . chocolate for playing with the machine!

It's too bad I don't get this excited about exercise. All ya'll will start to get on board when I need to have tasters for quality control. Alex can't be my only test subject.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

happy birthday katie

Katie is 3! Here she is wearing something completely uncharacteristic - pink pink and more pink! This is naturally her favorite present - thank you Oma - and she will undoubtedly be sporting this little number for as long as she can get away with it. I'll try to remove it from her body on laundry day, but success is not a given. 'Isn't this a lovely dress? This is the most beautiful dress I ever saw!'

She chose a princess cake for her birthday cake. She did throw in a little surprise by choosing Snow White, instead of her beloved Cinderella. (The photographer needs to work on her close up shots - sorry about the lack of focus.)

Thursday night Katie and Alex had a sleepover at Oma and Opa's house in honor of the big event the following day. It ended up being more of a present for me - Alex woke up with the flu. Oma got to put her superpowers to work playing nursemaid to Mt. Vesuvius. We'll go hit the Children's Museum another day. The kids are just as happy to spend the day playing at Oma's house anyways. Lots of movies and games - what could be better?

Happy Birthday Katie! We love you and we're so glad you're in our family. You are a great big sister, and you're always entertaining. I love that you sing all day long.

(Sorry that the video is sideways - there surely must be some way to rotate it. I just needed to get the full effect of the outfit up close. I have more video of her birthday that I'll try to post for you folks from out of town, so you can feel like part of the action.)

This morning Katie opened up a fun new nightgown from Aunt Julie, and this evening Oma and Opa brought up a few more presents. Katie asked if there were going to be more presents. Hopefully Monday won't be too big a let down when life gets back to normal.
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