October 2008 Archives

Jude is pretty friendly with the neighbors.  Sometimes when we're outside we have to make sure he doesn't wonder off following one of them as they walk their dogs.  He'll walk up, tell them all about his day, about his action figures, his favorite movies, his favorite music, etc.

On trick-or-treat night, he decided to make himself even more at home with our neighbors.  On the first stop across the street, our neighbors invited Jude inside.  He loves to greet the neighbor every time he sees him outside, so he was glad to come in for a chat.  A few minutes into his visit, he began treating the neighbors like another set of grandparents:

Jude: Do you have any toys?
Neighbors: No, little guy, we don't.  Our kids are grown.
Jude: What movies do you have to watch?
Us: Jude, the next group of kids are here.  It's time to let someone else have a turn.

At our next-door neighbor's house, the door barely opened when Jude shot inside and asked about toys and movies.  We extricated him, and continued to explain the difference between trick-or-treating at grandma's versus at a neighbor's house.

Sometimes you get art from children and your need are afraid to venture a guess about what they drew without asking a few leading questions.  Other times, Karenna has put a lot of attention into detail.

Take this picture I found in her backpack that she drew as an assignment at school...


Me: Karenna this is a great picture of your Halloween costume!
Karenna: Do you really like it?
Me: Oh, yes I do!  You didn't even have your costume with you to draw it.  You drew it all from memory!


I found the following pieces of writing in Karenna's room.  Normally she has me dictate how to spell words, letter by letter, but apparently she has begun trying to sound words out and spell them on her own.

Remember your folder. Remember your book bag. KarennaWriting3.jpg

I was very proud and told her I was going to scan them and post them on the blog.

"Did I spell them right?" she asked.

"Well, you spelled them very well," I answered.  "Well enough for me to figure out what you were writing."

"Can you tell me how to spell them right and then I'll fix them before you put them in your blog?"

"No.  I'm very proud that you did it by yourself.  If I told you how to spell them, it would be cheating."

If you liked this year's pumpkin painting, take a look at this.  Here's a picture from last year's pumpkin painting.  Jude's "Gourd Vader" and a pumpkin we helped his cousin Luke make...


Pizza Turtles

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I haven't made these in a long time.  I started making them almost 20 years ago when I used to babysit my younger sisters and they loved them.  It was time to dust off this fun food activity for my kids.

These are strombolis (or calzones) with dough feet and head added. The tail comes from twisting the whole thing shut.  We make the color by mixing an egg, some water and food coloring to brush onto them.  The eyes are dough and food coloring mixed. Finally, they have a quarter of a pepperoni slice rolled and slid into their mouths for tongues.

We also have a new addition: Pizza Clam. I took a melon baller to an onion to give it a pearl.  I suppose I could have just added an olive.

We tried to give each family member a different color Pizza Turtle, but in retrospect, shades of green become less distinguishable once cooked.  Note to self: choose blue, yellow and green instead of sea green, lime green, and green.

We paint 'em. The kids are too little to be messing with knives, so we buy some washable paints, chalk outlines of what we want to make, throw down a few drop cloths and presto...

Jude paints his color within the chalk lines.  We have plenty of wet paper towels and baby wipes to remove any paint that runs or end up out of bounds.

Jude wanted to make a Batman this year, so Karenna made the Joker. Then four small pumkpins given to us my our neighbors were made into pumpkin people.


If you are a long-time reader, you know that we don't have cable and that Karenna hates marketing.  When we watch shows on Hulu or cable at her cousin's house, she gets irriated by commercials because most of her content comes from Netflix or YouTube.

You may also remember that Karenna loves NPR so much that we set her alarm clock to WPSU.

Well, it's membership campaign time on WPSU, and Karenna awoke (a little grumpy from staying up late after her Halloween party) to a mix of news and a call for pledges and new memberships.

Karenna stomps into the bathroom, rather put out, to tell her Daddy, "I don't have to pay them $100. I don't have to pay them anything!"

Perhaps we had explained the evils of commercials a little too well... It was then Chris had to explain the concept of public radio and the importance of membership.

Halloween Party

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Karenna had her Halloween party at school tonight.  She was dressed as a vampire.  When we arrived I was told not to take her coat off in front of the parents outside because they might be scared of her.

Upon getting inside, our task was to seek out a little boy dressed as a hot dog who promised to help her suck blood, as well as another little boy who "thinks he's my boyfriend, but he's not!"

We found the hot dog, and the boy with the crush and she got her class picture with them.  I was impressed with how the school got into the Halloween spirit.  The Kindergarten teachers were all dressed as Wizard of Oz characters, as were their pumpkins for the school pumpkin-carving contest.

Karenna and her friends headed for the dance contest where I soon noticed that she had found her group of kids changed.  She started with her life-long best friend, then a new friend from Kindergarten, a few older girls from daycare, and some boys.  Oddly enough, neither boy was the hot dog or crush boy from earlier.

On the way home, I asked about these: "Well there's [the hot dog boy], [the crush boy], [the boys she danced with], [the boy who is really funny], and [the boy who is really small that she likes because he's cute]..."

Chris likes to tease me because I just can't put meat and cheese in bread in any combination and call it a sandwich.  I make sandwiches like others cook, with thought into what flavors, textures and presentation all work best.

Turkey sandwiches are typically turkey bacon club sandwiches.  Steak sandwiches are served with particular cheeses and dressings for the lettuce.  Even sloppy Joes and salami sandwiches have a spec.


But the king of all sandwiches in the house, the one Chris for which he respects my obsessive compulsiveness, is the French dip (Karenna's half-sandwich is pictured).

No, I can't just eat a regular roast beef sandwich; and yes, Chris, could and would make a regular one if left to his own devices, but in our house a French dip and side salad is the one sandwich that is up there with some of our favorite dinner items.  But, don't take my word for it, take Jude's:

Jude (upon getting to the table and realizing what's for dinner): Ooh! It's the sandwich with the dipping thing!  It's my favorite.  It's better than fish (pronounced "pish") or chicken or meatloaf (pronounced "meatwoap") or eggplant (pronounced "eggpwant") or lamb (pronounced "wamb") or...

The neighborhood mailbox we used on our way out of work has been taken away.  Jude was disappointed that this part of the morning routine has been altered...

Jude: Daddy, aren't we doing the mail today?
Chris: No, Jude, they took away our mailbox.
Jude (outraged): That's not fair. Who did that? I will find them and fight them and put them in jail, Daddy.

We we on our way home from work and school one day this week when Karenna saw landscapers using leaf-blowers in a neighbor's yard.

Karenna: That's stupid!
Chris: What's stupid? (We don't like the kids to call things stupid.)
Karenna: That guy is blowing all the leaves around.
Chris: No, honey he's blowing them into a pile and then he'll take them all away.  People pay him to do leaf clean-up.
Karenna: That's what I mean.  That's stupid! You're supposed to let the little kids rake them in a leaf pile and jump in them.
Chris: What about the neighbors who don't have kids?
Karenna: Well, they can pay some guy to make a pile I guess... But only if they don't have grandkids who want to jump in them!

Karenna was at a birthday party this weekend at Chuck E. Cheese.

This was a party for her best friend from daycare--they've been together since they were babies but now in separate kindergarten classes--but they share a similar personality.  Both are strong-willed, outspoken, bright girls in the stage where they question what is fantasy and what is reality.

Enter the mouse himself--or rather the man in the mouse suit--ready to entertain some kindergartners.  The kids ran up to give Chuck E. hugs, including Karenna and her friend.

The friend and birthday girl greeted him confidently and cheerfully and said, "I don't think you're real."

I wonder what will happen when these girls go to the mall this holiday season to see Santa.

A while ago, Jude defended his sister when Chris corrected her.  Now Karenna tried to pay the favor.  I found Jude on the couch in Karenna's boots writing on his hands with a pen...

Me: Jude your sister's boots look lovely on you, but you really shouldn't be writing on yourself in pen.
[Since, no objection to the word "lovely" was raised, I'll assume that one does not offend his concepts of adjectives and gender.]
Karenna: Daddy said he's not allowed to write on the couch.
Me: He's not allowed to write on his arm either.

Skee Ball

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I met with some friends today and the topic of adults playing in public came up.  Several of us shared with a friends that we play long when we take our children (or nephews, etc.) to arcades and soft play centers. I chimed in...

"I play Skee Ball when I take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese." Actually I play Skee Ball whenever I see it.  It is a weakness I've had for as long as I can remember and carry with me through adulthood.

Two years ago, at a conference in Las Vegas, I convinced to work friends to blow off gambling and head up to an arcade. My logic?  "If I'm going to stick money into a machine, I at least want to win something." (Even if it is a prize worth a fraction of the cost of playing Skee Ball, I know I spent money on something fun.)

So back to the convesation from today...

Yeah, the kids are like, "Mommy, are we going to go do something else now?" and I say, "Not now. Mommy's playing Skee Ball. Here, have some tokens."

Then I pause and rethink that last statement, "Actually, they don't even really need tokens most of the time because they can sit on the rides and use their imaginations--more tokens for me!"

Reality Check: Okay, so I admit, this is not true (anymore at least for the older child), but that is mainly because I give her tokens and teach her to play Skee Ball.  She's getting good when she's not whining, "Mom, can we play something else, I'm tired of playing stupid Skee Ball."


If you haven't noticed already, Karenna loves art. I frequently run out of places for it. We scan as much as we can to preserve it, but honestly, I can't keep up with the rate of production! Every day she comes home with more art for me.

Take today's art...

Karenna: Look, Mommy, I made you a turkey!
Me (with my hands full, but trying to be very appreciative): Oh, how nice! Can you put it on the refrigerator for me?
Karenna: Okay.
Chris (calling after me): Hey Nikki!
Me (trying to unload things): What do you want?
Chris (picking Karenna up): Look, Nikki, I made you this turkey!
Me (playing along): Oh, how nice! Can you put her on the refrigerator for me?

Jude's school has been color-coding notes home so he knows exactly what kind of message we're getting.  A blue paper is for good reports and a pink paper is for bad reports.

The problem is that Jude has the memory of a goldfish. When I pick him up, he forgets how bad his day was, like today...

Jude (excited to see me): Mommy, I had a good day today! I was a good boy!
Me: Jude, are you sure you had a good day? Why do I have a pink paper? Did you make a bad choice?
Jude (discouraged): I'm tired of getting pink papers.

Me too, little buddy.

Note the text "Police Call Box" in white chalk:



It's not the first time this happened, and maybe I can't blame everything, from Katamommy to "freakin' awesome" to leveraging Right Said Fred and a Star Wars action figure to get my kids to eat, but today I will blame on this month's B12 shot leaving me wide-awake last night, thus making me a bit nutty this morning.

At breakfast...

Jude (looking for Special K Chocolate Delight): I want the chocolate cereal.
Me: You ate all of that one. Pick one of these two.
Karenna (after I open the box Jude picks): I don't want that one. I like the Fruit and Yogurt kind.
Me: That's too bad. Where were you when Jude was picking.
[Karenna whines incessantly, so I begin imitating it. Karenna continues as I get frustrated.]
Me: Ni!
Karenna (whining): What are you saying!
Me: Ni!
Karenna (whining): Why are you doing that?
Me: We shall say, "Ni!" again to you if you do not appease us.
[Jude laughs.]
Karenna (whining): Stop it!
Me: Bring us a shrubbery.
Karenna (whining): Stop! Stop!
Me: Ni! Ni! Ni!
Jude (laughing): Ni!

So the following is the second half of our conversation about Star Wars and George Lucas...

Jude: Who is George Lucas?
Me: He makes the Star Wars movies?
Jude: Does he make the action figures?
Me: No. But the toy people aren't allowed to make anything Star Wars unless he says they're allowed.
Jude: Is George Lucas a boy or a girl? (Jude's preoccupied with gender.)
Me: He's a boy.
Karenna: All Georges are boys.
Me: What about George Elliot? She took the name George so boys would read her books.
Karenna: Most Georges are boys.
Me: There's also a Boy George (then, realizing I had inadvertently left myself open to another YouTube can of worms), but he's another story.
Jude (pointing to his picture on the wall): Who is that? Is that a boy or a girl?
Me: That is Boy Jude.

For those of you who don't know, Jude is like his dad: the don't discriminate when it comes to Star Wars.

Chris will freely admit Lucas's shortcomings in dialogue; he will also admit that childhood feelings cloud his judgment. But, as he says (if not, he'll correct me with the exact quote, since he reads this blog), all he needs is the John Williams music and a lightsaber music and he'll buy into another Star Wars.

Like father like son...

Karenna: When's the the next Babylon 5 come out?
Me: We have all the episodes and movies.  There don't make anymore of them.
Jude: When's the next Star Wars movie?
Me: When George Lucas wants to make more money.

Before reading this one-liner you should go back an read the Kauffman Dinner Theatre post from over four months ago.

Do it now.

I'll wait.


Jude (playing action figures): Where's my I'm-too-sexy-guy?

Times Three

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Before I left for my conference on Sunday morning, I tried to explain to Jude on three-year old terms that I'd be away for a few days.

Me: Jude, Mommy will be gone today, Monday, Tuesday, and I will pick you up from school on Wednesday for my work.   I will miss you very, very, very much while I am away.
Jude: Then I will have to give you a big, big, big kiss and a big, big, big hug!

Aunt Steffie and Uncle Brian came to visit yesterday.  Karenna shared her art...

Karenna: This is what I write about this boy at the school-aged center.  He's my friend's brother.
Me (explaining to Steffie): She likes the older boys.
Karenna: And this is a picture I drew of us sleeping together...
Steffie and Me (in unison, shocked): What!?!
Chris: She means a stayover.  She's a little girl; she's not thinking what you're thinking.

So a few days ago, I mentioned how upset Karenna got when she found out I would be leaving for a conference for a few days.Juse it case you are wondering how she is handling the day before my departure, here's this little anecdote...

Me: You and your brother get to see me off to the airport tomorrow.
Karenna (looking concerned): And then I won't see you until you pick me up from school on Wednesday?
Me: Probably, unless they delay the flight.  Sometimes, it the weather is bad, they make you wait before they let the plane go.
Karenna: What kind of bad weather?
Me (getting worried we'd have another breakdown): Oh, like thunder and lightning.  But when that happens, they tall the plane to wait until the weather is nice again, so everyone is safe.
Karenna:Yes, because the lightening might shock the plane when it's up in the sky and make it crash.
[She mimes the plane in the sky with her hand and makes sound effects of thunder and a crashing plane...]

I blogged about an event earlier this week when I went into Jude's room to wake him up and having him randomly shout "Happy Birthday!" at Chris and I.  Well, here's what happened two days later...

Me: Good morning, Jude-Man, I have some tickles for you!
Chris: Yeah little buddy.  I have something for you too.
Jude: What is it?
Chris (leaning in): Happy Birthday!
[Note that it is not anyone's birthday, nor was it when Jude did this two days prior.]
Jude (correcting him): It's not my birthday!

Yesterday morning I went into Jude's room to help Chris wake him up, deciding--after some recent events--that I would need a new wake-up routine for him.

I decided for now I would just look for tickles.

"Where are the tickles, Daddy?" I asked Chris as I reached a menacing hand toward Jude.  "Did you find them on Jude's tummy?"

"Be careful, Mommy," Chris warned. "Someone's crabby this morning.  Jude growled at me!"

"Jude," I asked, still tickling and making him giggle,  "Is this true?  Did you growl at Daddy?"

He laughed and nodded.

"Let me hear your growl," I said and released him from the tickle search.

He regained his breath, shifted his eyes from me to Chris and back again, grinned from ear to ear and shouted, "Happy birthday!"

I accidentally slipped to Karenna too early that I'd be going away to a conference soon.  She was not too happy.  She cried.

"Karenna, why are you so sad?  You will be at school most of the time while I'm gone anyway," I tried to convince her.

"Yeah," she cried, "but when I come home, you won't be there."

"But your Pop-Pop and Judoo go on trips all the time and you don't get all upset, do you?"

"Mommy, they are my grandparents, but you are my parent.  I love you as big as the whole earth, the whole planet.  I love them as big as the television."

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