Thursday, August 25, 2011

JoJo Says

To Mitch as he leaves for a garage sale that Jojo has decided not to go to,

"Please bring me back a beanie baby of any kind."

To Mitch while riding in the van,

"Cobras squeeze people up and then eat them."

Mitch to Josie, "No they don't. You are thinking of boa constrictors. Cobras are venomous snakes. They bite animals and inject them with venom and then eat them."

JoJo, "NO!! They squeeze people and eat them up. My friend in the green shirt at the park told me so."

Lucy Says

While out hiking with her buddies and her dad at Arroyo Verde Park,

"Raise your hand if you think this is TOTALLY AWESOME"

To Josie while riding in the van on Saturday, "Witches and ghosts aren't real. And most certainly not mummies."

Feeling the Love

Tiffany gave me this painting last Thanksgiving. I believe I may have made derogatory remarks at the time and tried to get Elise to switch with me since her heart painting had more orange in it. But now I found the PERFECT spot for it. It is a most excellent addition to my ofrenda for my mom.

Sorry for being such a heel Tiff and thanks for the wonderful painting.

20% yoga 20% rock and roll 40% kids 10% work

This is my current hypothetical ideal recipe for a happy life (20% yoga 20% rock and roll 40% kids 10% work). Don't get me wrong, I love all the things listed above (yoga, rock and roll, my family, my job). Last week I went to a Old 97's concert and it was so AWESOME it made my head explode. That got me thinking that all lives would be better with more rock and roll, especially more live rock and roll. The head exploding aspect made me think well, it's probably good to have head exploding balanced out with a little grounding, which is what the yoga asanas do for me. Once I had yoga and rock and roll on the list, I had to add family and work.

I think really 50% work and 50% kids would be ideal but then it all adds up to 140% which just isn't right. And that's not even including reading books, tea, petting dogs, gardening, eating cookies, making cookies, and all that jazz.

So I guess I'm really saying, here's for more rock and roll. Here is a short list of the bands I would LOVE to see in concert over the next couple of years:

1. The Pixies
2. Bruce Springsteen
3. Ozomatli
4. No Doubt (Mitch says they aren't together any more so low probability on this one)
5. Gomez
6. Rancid (see number 4)
7. David Lindley (could happen in Ventura this summer)
8. Go-Gos
9. Lucinda Williams
10. The Rolling Stones

Addressing the maintenance backlog, buying down the deficit, etc.

Last weekend I finally got some of my historic burdens off my plate. Here is a list of the things I FINALLY accomplished in the better late than never category:

1. Caught up on the two birthday letters that I was behind on for Lucy. I didn't write one last year and had not written one for this year yet (I write her a letter on her birthday every year to help her remember what she was like as a little person). Now I just have to write the one I am behind on for Jo-Jo.

2. Finally mailed my dad's birthday presents. They have all been wrapped for about a month but I just couldn't get to the post office. Yes, his birthday was in June.

3. Refilled the bird feeders. We've had lots of young birds eating out of them and I have felt guilty that they have been empty for several weeks.

4. Paid all the bills. None of these had been sitting around for too long but still I do feel good about getting the bill paying out of the way for another month.

Sleep Gets in the Way

I keep meaning to write some posts on my day to day existence but falling asleep between 9 and 11 every night gets in my way. Then once I wake up I end up only being awake for an hour before going to bed. Hmm not sure what that is all about. World weariness? African sleeping sickness? Fainting disease? "female troubles"? Or perhaps just genetics. When I was growing up my mom would come home from work every day between 1 and 3 PM and immediately go into the living room to take a nap on the couch (I would go play in my room for "quiet time"). My dad also immediately retired to his bedroom for an hour nap before dinner every day after work. So I get my need for extra sleep from both sides.

Anyway, I'm trying to stay up tonight and write a few posts to catch up. So here we go.

Friday, August 12, 2011

They Picked These Outfits Themselves...

Big thanks to Chloe and Hannah for the hand-me downs. The girls love them!

Speaking of Gandhi...

Growing up with two intellectuals for parents, we occasionally played games as a family or with friends. Games like scrabble or Trivial Pursuit. And when we visited our friends the Bushells on Camano Island every summer, we played lots of games like Hundred Thousand Dollar Pyramid and pen and pencil games where you write a word and think of as many words that start with each letter as possible. Perhaps because this week on Camano Island was always one of the most fun of the summer, with lots of kick the can, shell collecting at the beach, crabbing, blackberry picking, book reading, back scratching and eating of chocolate turds (waxy chocolate donut sticks), I have fond associations with these types of word games even now as an adult.

And now I have a group of friends from graduate school who are similarly enamored of these types of games. When we get together every Thanksgiving we typically play a round or two of Celebrity (where you write down the names of famous people and then play three rounds of guessing them - one round where you can say anything but the person's name, a second round where you can say one word, and a third round where you can only pantomime) or some other game. But we have had to take a hiatus for the past couple of years due to the deep rancor that can develop over who, exactly, is a celebrity. Is Elvis Schmeidecamp, the local used car dealer with billboards along highway 80, a celebrity? What about the author Ann Patchett? Similarly folks have gotten seriously pissed during the game over mistakes such as describing John Wayne as a fictional cowboy. Needless to say it took a long time to guess that one.

Among a bunch of competitive, overly educated, obstreperous ecologists, these things can get ugly. But they can also get very, very funny. Here for your amusement are two of my favorite ever moments from Celebrity:

1) Who wears a Diaper?
One year someone put Gandhi's name into the pool. When it came time for the round with a single word, my friend Rob chose, not India, not peaceful, not non-violent, not bald, or many, many other things. But in the spur of the moment, Rob chose "diaper". And then, for the entire remaining 59 seconds (you only have a minute to guess), he basically grabbed his crotch to simulate a diaper. If you guessed that we never correctly guessed Gandhi from this display, you would be right. But when we found out who he was imitating, I literally peed myself laughing and to this day, merely thinking the words Gandhi and diaper put a huge smile on my face.

2) Old Candy Eye
It is round two of Celebrity that brings out all the gems. One time someone put Sammy Davis Jr in the hat and during round two, my friend Tiffany said as her one word clue, "Candy" hoping to jog our memories with a reference to his nickname, The Candy Man. Unfortunately, candy, in and of itself, was not enough to remind us of Sammy Davis Jr. from round one. Then Tiffany started vigorously pantomiming and settled on pointing to her eye as the best clue (because he had a fake eye). Yep, we couldn't figure out who "old candy eye" could possibly be.

Pearls Before Six Year Olds

The following conversation took place yesterday as reported by Mitch:

Josie to Lucy, "I love Hannah more than you."

Lucy starts to cry.

Moments later, Lucy to Josie, "I love Dylan more than YOU."

Mitch to Lucy, "Gandhi said, "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

Lucy to Mitch, "Who is Don?"

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Roborovskis

I was leaning towards guinea pigs, Mitch was leaning towards nothing. The Roborovskis seemed like a perfect compromise. They are the size of a furry marshmallow and they live in a ten gallon aquarium that thus keeps their paper strewing capacities to a minimum.

Although I cannot explain why I wanted even more pets, especially ones that need their cages cleaned, I fell in love with these little guys at the pet store a couple of weeks ago as did Lucy. I think Lucy would have forgotten about them but she had her mom to advocate for her position. JoJo is agnostic on the mini-hamsters and declares that they are "too jumpy and fast." Honestly I think guinea pigs would be better pets for the little people because they are larger and calmer (and they make all those adorable squeaking sounds) but they need a lot more room (modern guidelines say several square feet of cage per guinea pig and you shouldn't have just one given how social they are) and their cage has to be cleaned daily. So with limited room and limited time for cage cleaning, mini hamsters it is.

I have had several moments where I thought, "I am crazy. What have I done? Why? why? why?" But overall they are super cute, soft, fun to watch, fun to hold, and very low maintenance. The girls and I take them out of their cage at least twice a day for handling and exploration time, I give them small amounts of fresh fruit and veggies, and I watch them redesign their bedding every day or two. The sound of their running on the wheel at night is actually soothing and the dog thinks they are dog t.v. for her. I am teaching her they are only for looking at, not touching (there's a lot of "off" right now. no dogs on the bed while the hamsters are running around on the bed).

I will keep you posted on the comings and goings of the world's smallest hamsters. If you live near Ventura and are thinking of guinea pigs, there are many nice ones up for adoption here. If you want to learn more about Roborovski hamsters, look here. If you want to know why I am so crazy and like to have so many pets, I blame my grandma who lived on a farm with chickens, cows, cats etc.

And if you are wondering what their names are - I pushed hard for Charles and Alfred for the fathers of evolution by natural selection but Lucy picked Rocket and JoJo named hers Cutie. I call them Charles Rocket Darwin and Alfred Cutie Wallace. Yes, they are both boys.

Ruby Pancake Eating a Pancake

Every Sunday the girls and I make pancakes and we always save one for Ruby.

More Backyard Upgrades and the BBQ

I couldn't resist the little owl with a snail on his head - Lucy does love the snails...
My new bird house from Tiffany. Isn't it awesome! Mitch is going to climb the tree for me this week and hang it up in the backyard.
The flower lights were joined this weekend by a string of small paper lanterns, not pictured here.

Well I think I have finished my attempts to jazz up the backyard for this time around. Bird feeders are all up, candles are in the trees, the small yard decorations are scattered about and that is enough for now. Eventually we want to replace the astroturf and the patchy grass with a small area of sod but not for awhile (too much digging for now and too much little people foot dragging for the stuff to actually survive). And I still need to hang up my new super awesome bird house from Tiffany (see pic).

This Saturday Seth and Elise had a big biologists barbeque that was hosted in both our backyard and theirs so we got to sit around in our mini-paradise and drink beer and talk to folks. It was very nice. Of course most of my conversations were interrupted by either the girls needing something or Ruby trying to lick someone but it was still nice to see folks and hang out.

Although I still wish the backyard was more filled with flowers of all shapes, colors and sizes and had more of the feel of a Balinese courtyard garden, it is good enough for now.

When Wilson Came to Visit

Day One: Ruby isn't sure about this guy - he needs to stay in the living room...
"I'm not looking at you," they both say to each other.
Here's Wilson! Look at that handsome devil. He says, "This is what a real beagle x basset hound looks like!"

You can't see her head, but Ruby is making sure Wilson doesn't get her bone.
Day three: now Ruby is watching Wilson chew on her bone.

Day Four: Ruby is sleeping on Wilson.
Day Four: More watching.
And finally, Ruby decides to give Wilson a kiss.

A couple of weeks ago we dog-sat for our friends dog Wilson. Wilson is a real beagle basset mix (not a total potpourri of breeds like Ruby). Wilson is extremely sweet and soulful and was the perfect house guest. At first Ruby wouldn't let him leave the living room (there was no barking or growling, Ruby just stood in his way any time he tried to go down the hall). But after a few days she really warmed up to him and he was given full permission to roam the house and yard.

At first he was such a good house guest that I started thinking, "hmm, what a good dog. Maybe I should look for a beagle basset mix to keep Ruby company." But Ruby kept getting more and more enamored of Wilson until the last two days they would spontaneous break out into neck chewing sessions in the evening or how full blown chase games up and down the hall which is all fine and dandy until Ruby accidentally knocks down JoJo while she's chasing Wilson and then Ruby accidentally chews on Lucy's foot while she is chewing on Wilson's neck under the coffee table. You see how it is - Ruby's enthusiasm for Wilson overwhelmed her good sense.

Lucky for all of us, her craziness help eliminate my craziness of considering getting another dog. The anti-dog-bite book, "Living with Kids and Dogs" analyzes the dog bite statistics and finds that families with two dogs living together are more likely to have kids bitten than families with just one dog (there are many other interesting statistics and good advice in the book). I think this is because with more than one dog you are more likely to get caught in the middle of the dogs fighting over something or inadvertently get knocked down or bitten in the middle of dog horse play.

Anyway, we had a great time dog sitting Wilson and the whole family loved him. Even our elderly cat ignored him. Even Mitch (who isn't always the biggest fan of adding to the chaos with more animals) loved Wilson and said he could come visit any time.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Best Dad EVER v.2

Yesterday Lucy called out to me that Josie had ripped off Tinkerbell's wing. I hoped that it was a wing that was meant to come off and could be easily re-attached.

When I got home from work tonight, what was sitting on the table but one superglued Tinkerbell with two wings back in place...


On Friday I took Ruby, Wilson (a totally sweet Beagle x Basset Hound that we were dog sitting), JoJo and Lucy at RSV. A great time was had by all. We saw lots of birds (the girls brought their binocs) including the Lazuli Bunting (I swear it is the same one), white tailed kites, black Phoebes, and we heard bush tits. We climbed to the top of a hill (Jojo's request), visited the pond (Lucy's request) and smelled some good smells (the dog's requests).

The girls also enjoyed playing in the Ap (a replica Chumash village house) although we really need to finish it. It is kind of disgraceful sitting their half-finished as it gets older and older...

The only downside was that the small deer trail that we took to the edge of the pond was rich in ticks. I picked 6 off Lucy, 2 off Ruby, 1 off Wilson, 2 off of me, and 1 off of JoJo. We later saw one roaming in the car that eventually got on Mitch's leg on Sunday (not embedded just crawling around).

Hopefully this won't put Lucy off hiking forever...