Jul 30, 2008

Cellphone Pornography Hurts

Last weekend while driving up to Cherry Hill we saw a billboard on the freeway that said "Cellphone Pornography HURTS."

"Well yeah it would hurt - you'd crash your car" we joked. We got a good laugh at it all the way there and kept asking each other "who on earth would look at porn on a cell phone...in their car...while driving?"

We figured you'd have to be extremely desperate to do that on your phone....why not at least wait until you got home? Surely this had to be such an obscure problem that it did not need a community awareness billboard. Surely.

Today it popped into my head again and I typed it "Cellphone pornography" into Google. Boy are Toby and I behind the times. Apparently this is already a 400 million dollar industry and there are hundreds of services pushing porn right to your phone for a fee.

I realize the porn industry is huge - but this just seems like taking things a little too far. What has the human race come to that we can't even make it from our home to our office without a helping of porn?

If I were supreme dictator of the world, I'd just try this; make everyone walk around naked for a year. It would erase the mystery and ... depending on who you share an office with...completely wipe out any desire to ever see a naked person again.

Then those hundreds of billions of dollars we're spending on this industry could probably work out an alternative solution to fossil fuels in about...a week.

Jul 28, 2008

Cherry Hill

We spent the weekend at Cherry Hill with Toby's family - it is a small waterpark with a big campground. Robbie and Carter seemed to have a great time. When they weren't swimming, they were typically running around semi-nude eating sticky things. What more could a kid ask for besides water, sugar and nudity?

First: sugar and nudity:

Now the water:

Jul 25, 2008

Craft Day

Since I stopped working on Fridays I try to make it a fun day where we do something hands-on. Today we colored and made three origami projects. By "we" I mean we both watched the video on my laptop and then I folded and Robbie decorated.

Thanks to a cool site of video tutorials on all topics, I found a whole series on Origami. Ever tried making origami from a printed diagram? That will make you feel about 50 IQ points lower down the ladder. Video, on the other hand, rocks!

Origami Sailboat

Origami paper box. This is supposed to work great with a magazine cover too -but we used standard white printer paper and let Robbie color it. Conveniently enough - it is the exaxt size to hold markers!

Robbie decorated more than his box.

Then we had a tasty muffin tin lunch - an idea I borrowed from my friend Marisa. It was a hit!

It's a Real Hen House

Yesterday afternoon we moved the chickens outside into their newly completed coop and run. They are still figuring out the coop and the ladder to get in and out. They had no problems getting out, but when dark fell they didn't seem to realize they should go in. They were distressed by the dark and the fireworks (yes I picked the worst day to put them outside) but all they would do is huddle under the ramp/ladder and peep.

We haven't built in a gate to the run yet so in order to get them into the coop we had two options: tear down the run or send Holly through the coop and out the chicken door to get the chickens and bring them inside. Guess which one we did? Fortunately, they hadn't "christened" the coop yet so crawling around in it was not a dirty experience. If I have to do this again it will be a whole other story. So a gate is on the top of the priority list.

The coop project definitely tested the strength of our affection. For anyone not married, this means we fought about it...often. Toby did a great job and it has a great design. I can open the entire south side to expose it to light and air and to clean. It is ventilated along the very top on three sides and has a window.

The ladder to outside is also a fold-up door for night-time.

The big door has two heavy duty bolts to keep out predators and curious toddlers.

The nests are easy to access with a flip up egg door on the west side.

I'm looking forward to the girls getting a bit bigger. When they are big enough to defend themselves from the cat and too big to fit under the fence, I'll be happy to let them "free range" a little at a time until I'm sure they are safe.

Robbie enjoys peeking in the window which is just his height.

At the very last minute I made one "upgrade" - a chicken wire "flap" behind the big door. This way we can leave the door open for cleanings and water changes without having to worry that chickens will come out. The flap is only stapled on the top and halfway down each side. It isn't really a security system..just a convenience for me. An added bonus is that it lets Robbie observe the chickens roosting, eating, drinking, etc right at eye level.

He also likes to photograph them just like mom.

Jul 23, 2008

Tagged - I am "it"

Thanks to my friend Shannon, I've been tagged - which means I have to answer some of her questions on my blog. It's a little like a chain letter but without any promises for riches and none of the stamps.

8 Things I Love/Am Passionate about:
Gardening & Chickens (back yard farming)

8 Things I want to do before I die:
Get old - with style.
See Robbie a happy healthy well adjusted adult.
Go back to Europe for a
very extended vacation.
Go back to Jamaica and exactly duplicate the perfect 2007 trip.
Go back to Hawaii - with my family this time. (Are you seeing a trend with the travel thing?)
Have one more child, if possible.
Become fluent in Spanish or any other language besides English.
Successfully grow a garden without the plagues of Egypt befalling it.

8 Phrases or Words I say often:
I don't have a lot of "catch phrases" but I do have a lot of nic-names for the boys in my life.

Butthead! (Toby)
Robbie-obbie (Robbie, of course)
Stinker (Robbie)
Buster Brown (Robbie)
Babe (Toby)

and a few things I seem to say over and over all day:

How do we play nice? (to Robbie)
Let's change your bum! (To Toby - no just kidding!)
Yes, Daddy was naughty (To Robbie - this requires a separate post to explain)

8 Books I have read and enjoyed:
The Time Traveler's Wife (reading this now and highly enjoying it.)
The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan
In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan
Stones From the River (excellent!) by Ursula Hegi. I just finished this one last week and am looking forward to reading the sequel.
John Adams, David McCullough (also reading this currently)
Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer (Hey I'm a girl, what can I say?)
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides

I could actually go on and on listing books I have read and enjoyed. These are just from the last six months or so. I love to read.

8 Things I have Learned or Remembered this Past year:

Babies are cute but Toddlers are hilarious.

Simple words from a toddler can bring my adult-self to a screeching halt when I suddenly see something from his perspective. Like when Toby and I are "discussing" something intensely and he says "Mommy and Daddy - play nice!".

The Europeans have no bragging rights when it comes to hygiene. However, in spite of having less space, higher prices and huge taxes - they have figured out how to enjoy life more than we do. They spend far less on toys and far more on vacations and education. They also watch a lot less TV but spend a lot more time in cafes with friends. Meanwhile, we're all whining about our taxes and inflation and that there is nothing good on TV.

Squash bugs are the devil!

Chickens are hypnotic to watch.

Chickens won't eat squash bugs (drat!)

It is difficult, but oh-so-important not to project my tastes/fears/judgments/expectations onto Robbie about things that aren't dangerous, illegal or immoral. I may hate something that he turns out to love. If I had not kept my mouth shut he might never have discovered a passion for dirt, bugs and broccoli. I will just have to keep telling myself this when he's 14 and wants to dye his hair black and wear Geisha makeup. He'll have plenty of time to adopt his own fears, prejudices and anxieties without carrying mine along too.

8 People I want to tag.

I don't even know 8 people. In case all the books I've read haven't clued you in - I'm no social butterfly. So I'll tag the few friends (besides Shannon) I know with blogs: Marisa, Kim, Sharon and Amber

Jul 20, 2008

Date Night

My sister-in-law and I recently struck upon a brilliant scheme. We keep their son for a night....and then they take ours the next. We went first with the kids - and survived. But I now have a newfound appreciation for any mothers with twins....or anyone with more than one child under three.

For their date, they enjoyed being able to purchase a car without having to keep a toddler happy through the process. I'm sure anyone who has had to buy anything more complicated than a stereo while managing a small child can understand the pure joy of doing it without one.

For our date we went to dinner at Ruth's Diner - and we traveled by motorcycle. We haven't been on a ride together for......I can't even remember how long. I think two years is probably accurate.

We also went grocery shopping the next day.

The bike ride was a blast... but I have to say that shopping without a toddler was almost as exhilarating. I was actually able to read labels! We went to three separate grocery stores; Costc0, Target and Whole Foods. I reveled in my freedom to be selective.

We may have gone a bit overboard with our freedom. We could barely fit all the bags in our little Civic but we did manage to squeeze it in.

Jul 18, 2008

I was THIS close.

Just the other day I was thinking smugly that I have almost made it out of the diaper years without a serious "poop incident". I've never had it ooze out on my lap or been sprayed in the face. None of the number of horrific things I've heard about have happened to me.

I should have known it was time.

Yesterday after dinner I took Robbie outside so I could do some weeding. I'd been bent over pulling weeds for just about a minute when Robbie walked up to me and said "yucky" then wiped something on my head. He wiped so hard, he pulled hair free of my ponytail.

"Don't wipe things on Mommy, hon, that's not nice" I said and went back to weeding.

Then I got this horrible whiff.....of dirty diaper.....and I knew what he'd wiped on me.

Apparently he had had some kind of incident, reached down in his diaper to explore it...and well you can figure it out.

I scooped him up and ran into the house where Toby was just sitting down to watch TV. I quickly explained the problem. Then I ran upstairs to have a shower, leaving Toby with what had to be the diaper of the century.

I'm officially out of shampoo.

Jul 16, 2008

Note To Self

I don't keep a separate garden notebook and I know I won't be able to find a post-it note to myself by next April. So this will have to do. Maybe any other gardeners reading might benefit from my "notes" or at least get a laugh at my follies.

Yesterday as I was bent over my zucchini spraying my home-made organic bug killer with one hand and picking off adult squash bugs with the other hand, I thought of a list of things I need to do differently next year.

Note to self:
  • Next year, lay black plastic or garden fabric over the ENTIRE garden. Poke holes for plants and then you can shave about 39,082 hours off of your weeding routine.
  • Next year, don't plant peas or cabbage - or if you do, plant them much earlier. My cabbage are at a stand-still in this heat and my peas get dried out in the sun before they are ripe.
  • Next year, plant a lot of corn. You know that's one thing you'll be able to eat and also preserve by freezing.
  • Next year, bury jars (with sugary liquid in the bottoms) in the soil to trap crawling bugs like the worms currently devouring the cabbage leaves.
  • Next year grown potatoes - preferably with Marisa's barrel system.
  • Next year, install some serious vine supports for the squash so that picking off the bugs will be easier. Also, pick them off early - like in May before they lay a bazillion eggs.
  • Next year, really do make lettuce boxes. Stagger the plantings by 14 days so you don't have a cubic yard of lettuce ripening all at once.
  • Next year, don't bother growing eggplant, cucumbers, or peppers - it never works for you.
  • Next year, plant more strawberries. Half the garden would be fine. Robbie loved to look for them every day....so make sure next year you don't buy the June-bearing kind, but the ever-bearing kind.
  • Next year, grow mostly from seed - it's a lot cheaper!
  • Next year, grow beans - with poles or lattice.

Sheesh, did I do anything right this year?

Well yea - I have tons of lettuce, onions, cherry tomatoes, squash (although they are fighting to survive right now) and the herbs are all doing terrific. My strawberries are sending out shooters all over so next year should yield a good crop.

Jul 14, 2008

Pay Off

Robbie was a quite a stinker most of the weekend so I was a bit worried about how he'd do his first day at a new sitter. This is his first real "day care" type of environment since he's only been to sitters that watch one or two kids. Now he's going to an in-home preschool/daycare with four toddlers.

When I picked him up he appeared to be having the time of his life. He came running to do the door and dragged me into the house "mommy come HERE!" and brought me in to watch him play.

In the car on the way home he became very quite. I was trying to ask him leading questions to get him to talk about his day but he wouldn't really bite. When I kept asking what he did that day he just kept saying he had a sucker. If I asked if he had fun he just said "yes" but didn't elaborate.

Finally I asked "who is your favorite friend there?"

He looked at me with a serious expression for a moment, then broke out in a huge grin and said "Mommy's my favorite friend!"

I realize I'm supposed to be the adult here - but that was all the positive reinforcement I needed to spend hours thinking up newer, funner activities we can do together.

If he had any idea how far a little praise goes with his parents he could manipulate to an even more extreme degree than he already does. And that is saying something!

Jul 7, 2008

Quiet Time

The girls have been getting short spells of outside time each evening. They seems to enjoy themselves and putter all around their little makeshift "yard" of chicken wire. Robbie and I play nearby, watching them and making sure the cat does not dive in for a buffet dinner.

They seem to handle Robbie's shrieks and squeal and sudden movements pretty well. So far the cat has been content to observe from about a five foot distance.

It's amazing how relaxing it is to just sit and watch them putter around. All of us, at one point or other, would stop for a while and just kind of zone out staring at them. Even Toby...but he'll never admit it.

I Love Me a Three Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend was great. Fourth of July weekend was also pretty outstanding but very warm.

We spent a lot of time outside. So much so, that I think Robbie's skin may be twelve years older before we get the last of the layers of sunblock soaked off.

It all began with a small-town Grantsville parade....full of rural charm and local color.

Like this fellow.

and intersting floats...like this one decked out with severed heads.

We were sweating like...well....people standing in the sun. Robbie included. He was so red we thought maybe his sunblock was breaking down so we went and slathered even more on him. The poor kid was a walking grease stain.

Because it's Grantsville, the "floats" mostly consisted of emergency response vehicles, which we saw last week, and a lot of military vehicles. Robbie really enjoyed the motorcycles, fire trucks, tanks and tractors - especially the tractors. He also loved the marching bands and would dance pretty enthusiastically.

He did catch on to candy wrangling rather quickly and soon collected quite a stockpile.

To see a video of him rocking out to the band and running for candy, click this:

Thou Shalt Not Let Thy Toddler Dress Himself

Or this is what happens:
Thomas Slippers, Tank Top, Diaper and Ninja Staff.