Sunday, August 31, 2008

the next american idol...

For whatever reason, I never really got into the television show, American Idol. Maybe it's because it's not music I usually listen to, I don't have much time, and really, I spend too much time online to spare on AI.

But yesterday, Kim and I headed to the mall to purchase the American Idol Encore game for Wii and I'm sadly addicted. (Have I ever mentioned, though, how easily I am addicted to anything?) We stayed up late into the night singing to songs I haven't heard since the 80s, and then getting trashed by Simon, Paula, and Randy. I never realized quite how ungroovy I actually was--I felt like that Tina Fey character in Baby Mama. But once you got over the fact that you were trashing the songs, it was so ridiculously fun. Who would've thought that simply being handed a microphone and an audience would make you want to sing out loud and proud?

But the best part was waking up this morning to some loud crowing from downstairs. I ran down to find Samuel and his friend, Jacob, singing along to Madonna's Holiday, and trying to read the words as fast as they'd appear.

Now, they'd really have me addicted if I could add my own music to the game. And despite all his trashtalk, I think that Wii Simon really loves me.

Friday, August 29, 2008

college plans and things to do when you're grown-up

While we were walking through the UW campus during our trip to Wisconsin , Becky and I overheard Ben and Samuel talking about how they should go to college together someday in Madison and how fun it'd be if they could be roommates. Earlier in the day, I'd threatened, I mean mentioned, to Samuel that he badly needed a haircut (something he absolutely abhors because he wants to grow his hair long, and is somehow and oddly fascinated by mullets (though I swear he has no idea what they look like, but that doesn't seem to deter him at all).
Here is Samuel and Ben's list of things to do when they're college roommates and all grown-up (haha!):
  1. Get a very short haircut before college and then not get it cut for a WHOLE YEAR.

  2. Watch NC-17 movies without their moms around. Maybe watch an R-rated movie.

  3. Play M-rated video games (much cackling from the boys about this wicked act)

  4. Go to McDonalds (added by Tali)

  5. Stay up very late... Maybe even until midnight.

  6. BBQ every night.

  7. Get married because even though they don't like girls now, Ben says this will probably change later.

For now, though, the boys are getting ready to tackle third grade. Which is big enough for me right now...
---------------------

On another note, I was so inspired by Obama's speech last night. I feel that same excitement in the air that I haven't felt since the 1992 election... I truly believed last night that this country was going to make the move toward change. All of the speeches were amazing and our democrat speakers seemed so poised and controlled and articulate about how to manage this campaign.

And then I woke up to McCain's announcement of his running mate, Sarah Palin. I never expected her as a choice for him and wondering how this is going to affect this already tight race. It seems like such a clever choice for him, even though I know very little about her. Can't wait to read what the pundits are saying, though, I'm hoping that this choice doesn't hurt Obama's campaign.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

surf city USA...


We spend the last week of every summer (or at least for the past five years) on the Oregon coast with the same friends. It's a great way to close out the summer--some sun and beach, usually a little rain. But the rain did not stop Boaz and crew from hitting the waves and deciding that this was the year that B and Samuel would teach everyone to surf.

The first lesson involved learning how to put on the wet suit, which apparently is not an obvious thing since five of our six surfers put theirs on wrong. Four were backward ("I wondered why the zipper had such a long pull in front!") and one was inside out... But after some minor corrections, they were off!
The kids were amazingly brave, with all of them being able to stand up on their boards for at least a short bit. Olin and Samuel definitely looked the part of little surfer rats and Gracie and Claire definitely looked cooler than Gidget ever did.
And Samuel managed to really improve on what he'd learned during his first lessons in Kauai... I know that Boaz has sugar plum father/son surfing trips floating in his head.
Next year, Tali and I will get on the boards, as well, since learning to surf is definitely on my bucket list.
But for now, I'm satisfied with the long run I had by myself on the beach this morning. It just does not get much better than this...


We're all going to have quite the rude awakening next week when school begins.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

the roadshow continues... next stop--the oregon coast

The air-travel-alone-with-three-children-gods must have been watching over me yesterday because almost as soon as I got my red, puffy from crying because I was leaving my cousin sister face on the airplane with my three kids and then got them settled in their seats, Naomi's eyes drooped and she passed out for two hours. This is a child who hasn't had a nap for a week so I think she was just grateful to be sitting and buckled in.

And then I looked at Tali sitting in the row behind me who had made friends with the two kids she was sitting with. Samuel was playing his Nintendo DS, despite the fact that I'd taken it away for pretty much the rest of his life for disrespectful behavior. But it didn't matter and I let it slide because for the first time in months, I was free to start the novel that I'd been carrying around in my purse for just in case.

So I read for two hours. And then Naomi woke up and the kids began to get restless, but not so much so and I was refreshed. Which makes me firmly believe that if I could get just two hours a day to myself everyday, I'd be a completely different parent. Now I just need to find someone willing to let me have that...

Anyway, by the time we landed at Sea-Tac, we were all in good moods and excited to see Boaz who pulled up in the car with the Thule already packed and ready to go. And then without passing Go or going home, we were on our way to the Oregon coast for four days with a stop in Portland for the night on the way.

It was the perfect transition... First of all, Portland is an amazing city. Somehow it's hippy and cosmopolitan all at once. We ate at an amazing sushi place and the kids actually ate sushi, which makes me very excited about future eating out adventures. And then today after stopping at Powell's Books where we bought a bunch of great new and used books for the kids in an effort to lure them away from brainsucking television shows, as well as a copy of the latest O. Henry short fiction prize winners for me, we headed down to the coast for four days of beach play on our annual trip with our friends the Wolfs and the Morris's.

I'm starting to get very used to this transient lifestyle... And the kids are totally loving it. Six different beds in three weeks and Samuel is thrilled to have been in three states yesterday.

Wonder how I'm going to get myself back to work next month...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

what we didn't do...

Camp is over tomorrow morning and cousin sister Becky and I are sitting at the dining room table with large glasses of wine and talking about how short our visit was and realizing that there is a whole list of things we didn't get a chance to do.



Here they are:

We didn't get our night out sans kids. It was a result of babysitter scheduling conflicts and also wanting to spend time with family, but we did really want a chance to talk grown-up style (for those of you without kids, that simply means having an uninterrupted and uncensored conversation).

We didn't have our banquet awards ceremony. This is where we ceremoniously award each other camper awards hand drawn on paper plates. One year when we were about ten years old, Becky and I awarded each other about twenty blank plates before anyone ever noticed. They weren't so happy when they did realize that we were hogging the stage.

We didn't have any successful shopping trips. That is pretty much an impossible feat with four children under eight. And in fact, we had a very impossible shopping trip today where I stopped at two stores on State Street to purchase a Badger sweatshirt, something that I've wanted to buy every single time I've been to Madison. Pretty much the scene where Becky, the 60+ year old saleslady, and I are all chasing Tali and Naomi through the store was not a very happy scene.


I did not buy a UW Badger sweatshirt. As I mentioned, for some really irrational reason, I really want a Badger sweatshirt. I've always wanted one because Madison is such a nostalgic place for me. Oh well, there's always next time.


I didn't eat a Brat. That seemed like such a Wisconsin thing. But Becky is assuring me that this is a good thing.


I did not get enough time with my family. I hate the night before departure. I always feel sad about leaving and about having to miss my family again. We all had such a great time and I love hanging out with my cousin sister princess cousin Becky.


Oops, forgot to buy the Co-Jack for Boaz. How can you not love a cheese called Co-Jack? Even if you really love it for its name???

See you later Wisconsin... We will definitely be back.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

another letter from camp...

Camp is fun. I like it a lot.


Except that I may be losing my mind a little.


I held off posting for a few days because I couldn't find the USB cable to load my many, many photos and then tonight, whilst hoping that someone in Princess Mikkimoto's building left their wifi unsecure, I had this thought that wouldn't it be funny if I'd very conscientiously tied up the cable with my power cord in order not to lose it and it was right there?


And it was.


I am very lame.



So here I am... Ready to post some photos about our many Camp Runamucka adventures.
Pretty much, camp looks a lot like this:


















But in between this, we have seen lots of cousins...

















And because we were the adults, we made our brood wear homemade camp t-shirts that we made about 20 seconds before we stuffed them in them. It would've been nice if we'd stopped long enough to read the directions on the transfer decals, which we'd assumed were really just a repeat of common sense.

However, it seems that common sense was something lacking in our camp administration. The first person to figure out what is wrong with this photo will win their very own Camp Runamucka 2008 t-shirt!
























However, we only have the shirts in size 2-4. No matter... We made the kids wear them, anyway!


















As usual, there has also been a lot of eating...



















And there's no better way to rally the troops than to get them involved in some good old fashioned Tupperware organizing.


















So that's all from camp today! Tune in tomorrow for some more exciting adventures...

camp runamucka is very, very, very fulfilling...

wordless wednesday...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

postcard from camp runamucka...

Dear Moms and Dads,

Camp is great. I love it here and am not homesick. Yet.
Here is what I've been doing.

Love,
Amy

Friday, August 15, 2008

my left hand...


My good friend Josh Isaac has produced an amazing film called my left hand, which documents his battle with epithelioid sarcoma. His documentary captures his journey through spiritual, physical, and emotional effects of his chemotherapy and radiation treatments and then the eventual amputation of his left hand.
It's an amazingly honest and moving work and for those of you in the Puget Sound area, you should absolutely see the screening at the Northwest Film Forum on September 8th at 7pm.
There will also be a panel discussion after the film and a chance to hear Josh speak about his work.
Cost: $5/advance; $8/at door. Scholarships available. Space is limited and advance tickets strongly recommended. Tickets available through https://www.brownpapertickets.com/index.html or 1-800-838-3006

Thursday, August 14, 2008

we're off to the land of cheese, packers, and brewers...

Tomorrow the kids and I leave for our visit to see Princess Mikkimoto and her son Ben, as well as the rest of our very lovely family in the midwest. It should be a very interesting and fun-filled trip and the kids could NOT get to sleep tonight because they're so wound up.

Expect some interesting posts over the next week... But what I really want to know is, what exactly is a Packer?

the great wolf lodge is an alternate universe...

I think that after a day at home, I've officially recovered from the Great Wolf Lodge. We all had an amazing time, seriously, but for the first twelve or so hours at the lodge, Ally and I had to readjust our mentalities in order to survive. Seriously.

The place is bizarre. I'm not sure what I expected, but their Web site made it look like heaven. Parents were lounging on deck chairs happily watching their kids, children are smiling and laughing, and there is even a shot of a small child sleeping, exhausted, on his mom. There are photos of buffets, high lobby ceilings, the "Iron Horse" fitness center (that we never even pretended we'd use), and luxurious rooms.

These are the photos used to lure unsuspecting parents into their lair...

I was shocked to pull up to the lodge to find a glorified and enlarged Mariott decked out entirely with a North Woods theme, complete with huge wood carved statues of wolves in front. We wait in a Disneyland-sized line to check in, collect our wristbands (which we immediately all put on too tightly) and drag our brood of four to our Kids Kabin room.

(Can I just note for the record that I will consider the room's cuteness--or kuteness-- EVEN if they had decided to use proper spelling. K'mon Great Wolf!)

Ally and I find the room disappointing. We'd splurged on a big room with a special kids room, but found it small and sort of barren, but definitely woodsy. However, when we look to see how the kids are reacting, they're ecstatic. Their special kid room is a little log cabin tucked into a generic hotel room, complete with a bunkbed, daybed, painted walls, and their own... gasp... flat screen television and remote. The three big kids each claim a bed, without fighting, and settle in happily playing with Legos while we unpack.

"This is the best vacation ever!" Samuel says. We haven't even left the room.

We head down to find the waterpark. I wonder if there seemed like there would be more big slides, but the kids are in heaven. There's a wave pool, a huge tree house to climb on with buckets of water to dump and pulleys and levers everywhere. There's a toddler section that is just as fun for the big kids, fountains coming out from the ground that Naomi loved to step on, and a big regular pool with basketball hoops and floating animals to climb on. We haven't even touched the slides yets. We continue nonstop for hours until we're exhausted and then emerge from the heated and indoor waterpark into the hotel, change our clothes quickly and then head to the buffet dinner where all four kids sit nicely, use their best manners, and eat like little great wolves. The food is decent, the decor is equivalent to that of a school cafeteria. It doesn't matter because we're drinking wine.


After dinner there's an animatronic show about the rhythm of life (which seemed suspiciously like a knock-off of "The Lion King" theme) and then story time. They had our kids full attention, even Naomi's.

Then, the kids played this Magiquest game where they use purchased magic wands to fulfill quests and adventures. Suddenly, all of the tacky decor comes to life as the kids literally run around the entire hotel with the wands waving them at everything. The art on the walls light up, bear rugs come to life, treasure chests open and crystals ignite. These runes are all over the hotel, on every floor, in the stairwells, in the lobby, in the restaurants and kids are running up and down the halls with wands and capes. And then brilliantly, at 10pm, the game is turned off. Time for bed. Or for some television in your own Kid Kabin.

Ally and I suspended schedules for this trip. I'm usually sort of a slave to schedules because I know they keep my kids sane. But oddly at The Lodge, the kids were on their best behavior and feeling great on their own schedule, all while being extremely indulged. Huh? They seemed possessed.
We'd tell them it was time to take a break from the water and they'd nod and say okay. We'd say it was time to go to bed and Samuel responded by saying, "Oh good!"

So what's up with the water at this place?

Ally and I finally realized that it must be because while most of the world caters to adults with gestures to kids in the forms of a desert bar or a kiddie ride, The Great Wolf Lodge caters to kids with a small gesture to adults in the form of a very inaccessible and expensive full bar. This place did not even have clocks around, so we never knew what time it was, nor was there a newspaper to be found.

So we embraced the challenge. The kids passed out in their beds when they were so exhausted, they couldn't stand it any longer. They swam and played in the water until their fingers and toes turned to prunes. They ate dessert with their meals and didn't ask for more. Samuel and I went out at 9pm one night to ride the scariest water slides over and over, screaming at the top of our lungs, until the park closed. And seriously, every so often each one of them would turn to us, or grab our hands and spontaneously say thank you, or I love you, or give us a hug. It was just like the ads--all happy family and good parenting...
And Ally and I had so much fun, too. We caught up on each other's lives, picked up where we left off, and had a ridiculously fun time playing with the kids in the water, at the arcade, talking at night... We got to be kids again for a few days, too.

I have no illusions about the Great Wolf. It is not a family vacation. It is a kid vacation. But I'll go back because a vacation where the kids are so happy that I get a chance to be a kid, too, is worth it.

**note that there are no pictures of the waterpark part of the trip because, um, we forgot to take them since we were too busy playing.**


















Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Saturday, August 09, 2008

going to the lodge...

Even though it's practically the end of the summer (can you EVEN believe that???), we start our big vacationing marathon tomorrow. Our first stop? The Great Wolf...

My dearest old college friend, Ally, and her son Nick flew up here from LA to visit and tomorrow we head down to the The Great Wolf Lodge for two nights and three days of indoor waterpark family fun.

Yes, I said indoor. An inside waterpark. Inside. Where the sun don't shine. And the oddest thing is that even though at first that was a turn-off, now that it's raining and chilly again in Seattle, I'm actually glad that we still get to romp around the water in our bathing suits during the season that is called Summer, but isn't all that hot. I don't care if we have to do it inside.

The other thing about The Great Wolf is that besides being incredibly Northwoods theme-based with theme-based names of activities all featuring words like Buckhorn,Great Lights, Camp, and Critter, and posessing a huge wolf pack buffet (not so good from the double dub perspective), but you also must stay at the resort in order to participate in all of the water fun. Otherwise, we'd never stay. (I think...) I imagine it'll be like three days in the Chuck E. Cheese catacombs, but with a full bar.

But since Ally and I tromped off to the Sinai desert together, in addition to countless other hapless adventures, we'll manage this and probably have a lot of fun with the kids.

Did I mention there's a full bar? See you on Wednesday with lots of pictures!

Friday, August 08, 2008

chain letter hits the blogs... blame helmey...

I hate chain letters and when they come in the mail, I pretend not to see them and toss them. But I am embarrassingly superstitious so when Princess Mikkimoto tagged me with this chain letter, I had to respond. Also, since non-compliance apparently results in spontaneous combustion, which sounds sort of painful, I'll do it. But not before I blame Helmet, too, since he tagged Princess in the first place.
Here it is:

8 things to do in my life...
  1. Take a trip to Greece with my friends and sing ABBA songs the entire time.
  2. Start my own business.
  3. Have a reason to do a book tour.
  4. Finish a marathon.
  5. Learn how to dance. (Really. I cannot dance. At all. At least not in a way that is acceptable outside the toddler crowd.)
  6. Own a beach house.
  7. Learn to surf.
  8. Have the chance to spoil my grandchildren so incredibly rotten that my kids get mad at me and talk to each other behind my back but so that my grandkids adore being at me house.

Alright... I hate to do this, but I have no tagbacks. I may be a chain letter loser, but cannot keep the chain going. If you feel like answering so that I don't spontaneously combust, please do, but if not, don't. So there.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

guest post over at seattle mom blogs...

If you're feeling like some words on this sunny Wordless Wednesday, go check out my guest post about becoming a SAHM for the summer over at SeattleMomBlogs...

one more reason why i love boaz...


wordless wednesday...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

what does yoda have to do with big girls sleeping in their own beds?


Boaz came home late tonight and as a result, he was conveniently absent for bedtime and specifically for getting Naomi to bed, since he'd taken her transition to a big girl bed as his own project.


"What's the secret?" I ask this morning. "You've gotta tell me if you're not going to be around for bedtime."


"No secret," he says coolly. "Just put her in bed and say goodnight. "


"I can't believe you're not going to tell me."


"There's nothing to tell," he says. "You just do it."


"If she's up when you get home, she's yours," I tell him.


So because I had a ton of stuff to do this evening in addition to a mountain of laundry that is growing faster than the science experiment in the refrigerator (why is doing laundry somewhat satisfying and folding it such a major pain in the arse?), I stressed out pretty hard around bedtime. In fact, I lost my temper with the kids when Naomi wouldn't stop whining and then screaming for fun. It was completely not fair and I felt like a miserable parent. So when I turned off the light in the girls' room, I patted Naomi for a bit while she laid there with her eyes open saying "pat me?" repeatedly.


After about the umpteenth "pat me" I realized it wasn't helping her and that I was absolutely doing it because I felt bad about yelling. I'm not sure why I thought it would since I don't pat her for more than a few times in her crib and then kiss her goodnight as she curls up happily to sleep (at least most of the time). So I kissed her goodnight and left the room. She cried out once as I was leaving and then curled up and went to sleep.


Huh?


He wasn't kidding. There's no magic secret except for perhaps believing that she'd go to sleep? Or as Samuel pointed out to me tonight, Yoda says "No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try."


I totally channeled my inner-Yoda tonight.


Monday, August 04, 2008

we've been bunk'd...

Last week the kids and I took a trip to Ikea to buy bunkbeds. Ikea is one of those places I try forever to avoid and then... boom... my house looks like I won an Ikea sweepstakes.



But it was time for bunkbeds. Samuel wanted a place for his friends and cousins to sleepover and Tali has been sleeping in a toddler bed since she was two and because she continues to grow taller and is practically a kindergartner, we've decided that it's time for her to be able to sleep outside the fetal position her toddler bed requires. (Okay, it's not really that bad...) But Ikea is cheap and so are we, so off we went.



But the problem is that because the kids all have very small bedrooms (we had to knock out the closet in Samuel's room in order to get a twin bed in there and well, two twin beds just don't fit in the girls' room, hence the toddler bed), in order to let Tali straighten her legs, Naomi had to move from her crib.

It's a little soon for her to be making this transition, since she just turned two in June. So I thought we'd just leave the crib in the corner of the room when we started building the beds today, and then we'd move her to the bed gradually.

Except that there was no room to leave the crib. So Boaz broke it down and said in the kindest way possible, "Get over it--there will be no more cribs in this house."

"Forget the emotional part,"I said, panicked. "Who's going to chase that girl down for naps and bedtime? There is NO way she's going to stay in her bed."

"It's not going to be a problem," he said. "I've got it covered."
I'm pretty sure I heard Naomi cackling "Waaa haaa haaaa!" from the bedroom at this point.

At naptime she wouldn't lay down in the bed and everytime I thought she'd relax and go to sleep, I'd hear her little pitter patters down the hallway. Finally, I called Boaz in to make good on his deal.
Somehow he got her to sleep. And I don't think he drugged her, either.

Same thing tonight. I tucked her in with her usual bedtime routine and she just wouldn't lie down. I called Boaz in and she flattened herself immediately. Within fifteen minutes, he was back downstairs.

I could wonder what I'm doing wrong, but for now, I'm enjoying having him be the one to get her to sleep.

I wonder which one of us will regret this decision first?

In the meantime, the bunkbeds are cute and the kids love their rooms.

Friday, August 01, 2008

this is what happens when your pants are too tight...

Poor Polly Pocket...

Her pants were just too tight and when Tali tried to pull them off, Polly pretty much self-destructed.

Really, Polly... Those plastic silver skin-tight pants are cute (and still intact), but nothing is worth the fate you've met--certainly not a pair of plastic pants.


Why am I still letting my daughter play with this crap? Partly because the book I'm reading about raising girls swears that their confidence in themselves isn't threatened by playing with slutty dolls.


But also because after this catastrophe and the tears were wiped away, she proclaimed "I will never wear pants that are too tight!"