Saturday, November 29, 2008

Like Taking Candy From a Baby

Many of you already know that Ron and I listen to NPR Radio quite often, at work and at home. I appreciate the news stories they deliver, as they are often unconventional and thoroughly captivating.

As a photography major, I was intrigued by a story about Jill Greenberg's exhibit entitled "End Times." She photographed babies and toddler's in the middle of a crying fit (as a result of quite literally giving them a lollipop, then taking it away), to illustrate her (and the world's, really) growing concern about our economy, social situation and environment.

Jill Greenberg explains, “The children I photographed were not harmed in any way. And, as a mother, I am quite aware of how easily toddlers can cry. Storms of grief sweep across their features without warning; a joyful smile can dissolve into a grimace of despair. The first little boy I shot, Liam, suddenly became hysterically upset. It reminded me of helplessness and anger I feel about our current political and social situation. The most dangerous fundamentalists aren’t just waging war in Iraq; they’re attacking evolution, blocking medical research and ignoring the environment. It’s as if they believe the apocalyptic End Time is near, therefore protecting the earth and future of our children is futile. As a parent I have to reckon with the knowledge that our children will suffer for the mistakes our government is making. Their pain is a precursor of what is to come.”

The boy in the middle of the grid reminds me of Sam. I have seen Sam crying like this over something incredibly trivial. Then, within seconds, he is laughing and showing me a toy, tears still wet on his face. Ms. Greenberg's images have stirred controversy over the CRUELTY she used to capture the children's expressions. I'm am wholly convinced that these distraught, "concerned" individuals do not have children nor have been exposed to the roller coaster of emotions a toddler experiences. I simply roll my eyes and soak in the beauty of these images; the color and lighting are extraordinary. I will be looking into Ms. Greenberg's work further.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Good God

Just when I'm sitting here, sipping my luke-warm hot chocolate, thinking of ways to create holiday traditions with my children that have the theme of love and caring, and NOT focusing on commercialism, i have to hear about an employee of Wal-Mart being trampled TO DEATH by Black Friday Shopping Freaks. Today. The day after giving thanks for what we do have and what we appreciate in our lives.

Oh yeah - - and a pregnant woman miscarried, too. So TWO LIVES were taken.

Honestly, people. Is buying a big-screen television for a small fraction off the regular price worth the LIFE of a human being, whose death will no doubt create a domino effect of great loss this Christmas season??? I'm guessing he had kids...

What a way to go.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Don't Wanna Jinx Stuff, But....

Sam is ROCKIN' OUT in the potty-training department. At least for the past 3-4 days, he's really been 'getting' it!!!! Yesterday was especially good. He kept his big boy undies (padded training pants) dry all day (barring one minor dribble) and did '#2' THREE TIMES, all three times independently, as in running over, droppin' his drawers, and doin' the deed. GOOD BOY!!!! I think we hit a milestone. I'm hoping it sticks.

Funny story: During all this, Sam's been coy with me a couple times. He'll be playing and running around, and then he'll lean over, teasingly, butt out and facing me, hip to one side, shirt lifted, head looking back at me over his shoulder (I do hope i've created a visual for you!) and say: "See my LIL BUTT?!" Then i usually say, "yes Sam... cute lil butt." But sometimes he goes on and on and i'll eventually say, "That's enough, Sam."

Yesterday i was putting dishes away, not facing him. He says, "Mom, come wipe my BUTT!" Me: "What did you say to me Sam?" Sam: "Come wipe my BUTT!" Me: "Sam, that's enough, please don't talk to me that way." Sam: "MOM - COME WIPE MY BUTT!" This time, he's yelling FROM the potty in the other room. His first "request" was a way of telling me he was on his way! OMG, i laughed so hard. And here i thought he was doing more of his teasing. He can bark THIS particular order at me ANY DAY if it means i don't have to change messy pants!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

From the Eyebrows Up...

... My kids are nuts.Eraserhead, anyone?

Mr. and Mrs. Clause Come to Town!

Ron and I got to play Mr. and Mrs. Kris Kringle last Thursday night for a local Vets Lodge. They have a tree-lighting ceremony outside their place every year, and Natalie happens to know the woman organizing it. This year, the lady, Hilda, complained to Natalie: "I don't know WHERE I'm going to find a Santa!!" And Natalie said, "Don't worry - I've got the PERRFECT Santa for you!"

And PERFECT Ron was. Totally believable in every sense of the word. Ron acted the part wonderfully and genuinely and i thoroughly enjoyed watching the children's eye light up. I only got to play Mrs. Clause on a whim. When Hilda was calling to set up the details for Ron, i tossed out there: "Do you have a Mrs. Clause suit?" Turns out they did - AND IT FIT (whew!)!!

Ron and i met at the Corning Fire house to get dressed. We were being escorted to the Lodge on a firetruck with all the sirens and lights! Pulling up to the lodge, i could see a TON of people waiting for Santa. As soon as we stepped off, i could hear all these voices, young and old: "Look!... It's SANTA.... AND MRS. CLAUSE TOO!" It occurred to me very quickly that i was no longer Chris but MRS. CLAUSE. In that moment, i put on the sugar-sweet smile and Miss America wave. I leaned down and cuddled children. I told Mr. Clause when a child was tugging on HIM for a hug. WHATTA SHOW!!! WHATTA THRILL!!! I mean - wow. I loved it. And i know Ron did too.

So for about an hour and a half, Ron and i sat at the front of the room, handing out candy-canes and listening to Christmas wishes. Several children brought pictures to us that they had colored. Some parents leaned in close to hear what their children wanted, and i saw many eyebrows raise and nods of realizations. One child wanted a remote-controlled tarantula! One child wanted happiness. And a lot of the kids looked to the ceiling for assistance, many not finding their answer. To that, they got TWO candy-canes, to help along the thinking process. Haha.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Bit of a Podium for a Second, if you Please...

It's not often i toot my horn on a controversial matter, but i saw this picture of our President-Elect and was moved by the blurb i read with the picture. I then clicked a link and was led to 'Baby's' story. This is a topic I've been relatively silent about for years, but have had a very strong opinion about. Puppy mills are a total travesty and a disgusting testament to the treatment of innocent animals. I would never ever buy a dog from a pet store (on this, i CAN say "NEVER!"), and I would like for you to read Baby's story as well. Mr. Obama has publicly announced his desire to save a dog from a shelter and to make it the First Dog for his daughters. He is also the first president[-elect] to be supported by the Humane Society.

Click on Mr. Obama's picture please.

The below photo shows Obama with "Baby," a three-legged dog that lost its fourth limb following years of mistreatment at a California puppy mill. The toy poodle spent much of its life locked in a small wire cage. The breeders cut out Baby's vocal chords so that they would not have to hear her cries. In cages next to her, other dogs literally went insane, spinning repetitively with blank stares. Still others were gravely ill, maimed and had filthy, matted coats. A number was tattooed on the inside of Baby's ear, marking her as just one of many dogs at the mill.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy 3rd Birthday, Samson!

We celebrated Sam's birthday last night since Ron has to work today, Sunday, on Sam's actual birthday. Which worked out great for everyone, really. Attending were Sam's 'Nanny' (Shirley), 'Pop-Pop' (Andy) and Natalie. We started out with supper at Spencer's (yummy) and got home to eat cake and open presents.

Earlier in the day, I took on the task of making a Thomas the Tank Engine cake. I'll admit, on Friday, when i came up with this idea, i ALMOST caved on my way out of Wegmans and just ordered a cake with Thomas on it. But then I said, "no - - no - - *I* can do this. I'm a freakin ARTIST, afterall." So i surfed online and found an idea, and decided I could do the same.

So it's Saturday morning. There's me, and cake, and melted white chocolate that i'm going to dye into the colors of Thomas. While the cake is baking, i realize that i cannot make the color BLACK. There is a lot of black on Thomas. My friend Natalie attempted to help me in suggesting i mix all the colors i have to make black and I **SNAP** at her and say "I'm an ART MAJOR - - YOU CANNOT MIX ANY AMOUNT OF COLORS TO MAKE BLACK! You get sh*t brown." Let this be a public apology to Natalie for snapping. I was starting to literally sweat. The clock with ticking; Ron took Sam out gallavanting, giving me time to make the cake.

I gathered myself together and thought to call my buddy Linda who works in the Bakery at Wegmans. I said, "Linda - how do you make black for cake frosting?" She said, "we have it here. Come get some, hunny." So Natalie came to my rescue again and went and got it and brought it over.

To my surprise and slight disappointment, adding dye (the black i got from bakery, as well as food coloring - the kind you use to dye eggs at Easter) changes the composition of the melted white chocolate wafers. It immediately turns them into hard SPACKLE! Whatta bummer. So there i was, completely using my fingers to manipulate the colored chocolate into the shapes of Thomas. In case you are wondering how i did that: I laid a color photocopy of Thomas under a piece of parchment paper (that i snagged from the Sub Shop - s'good to work at a grocery store!). The IDEA was to make Thomas all out of chocolate, then slide it off the parchment paper right onto the top of the cake. I think it would have worked great had the chocolate not turned so hard SO QUICKLY.

Well, i eventually finished Thomas, cut the paper around him, and gently placed him on top of the chocolate cake covered with French vanilla frosting (yum!). He cracked a little because the top of the cake was a little rounded. But it looked good. I stored him in the basement under a big roasting pan cover until the Big Moment.

Sam's eyes LIT UP! It was all worth it! We all said, "Sam... who is that?" and he exclaimed "THOMAS!!!" Then he dug right into him. I knew that the black dye was pretty fierce; when i was making it, my fingers were black. So right away, Sam's whole mouth, inside and out, was BLACK. Scary! But he was really digging the dyed Thomas, so we let it fly. Soon we all had a slice of cake and then migrated to the living room to open presents.

Sam's latest thing is PUZZLES, so i suggested for everyone to give him one. He got "Grouchy Ladybug" and "The Very Hungry Catepillar" puzzles (by Eric Carle), a clown puzzle, and a Halloween puzzle. He also got a Magic Thomas Marker and Activity Book, as well as a couple other activity books (tracing and counting). Sam is big into LEARNING stuff. He's mastered his alphabet (and doesn't even know the Alphabet Song), and is really into shapes, colors and new words. I would love it if we could learn to read before kindergarten. No pressure of course - just the joy of learning, working its magic.

Happy Birthday Sam! You are our awesome little boy, and you make us smile every day!

Click on this pic if you dare to see the after-effects of eating black dye...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Early Morning Yummies

Raisin Fingers, anyone? They've been marinating for 40 or so minutes. PERFECT!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Brotherly Love

If the ways Sam and Thom interact right now are any indication of how they will be a MAJORITY (!) of their life together as brothers, then the two of them are going to be two peas in a pod. Sam loves Thom to death and can't wait to kiss him and say HI to him after school, and Thom is always smiling at Sam when he comes around. I love watching the two of them together. Now that Thom is here, I can't imagine him NOT being here. He's fit into this family like there was an empty seat and he's finally filled it.
That said... i keep picturing a third seat lately.... (hmmm).......

Keep Your Eyes Open

Something pretty can pop outta nowhere...

Saturday, November 08, 2008


[This one made Ron and i look at each other and laugh right out loud.]

A couple evenings ago, Sam needed a diaper change. He had pooped and some of it had gotten on his pants. It was around 7pm and he was due to go to bed in an hour; his pjs were in his room upstairs. Instead of making 2 trips, i told him he could go around pantless until bedtime. Usually he would love this - he loves being "naked." But on this particular night, he said, "Daddy... can i have pants?" Ron explained to him again about just chillin' out for a while, and Sam asked one more time, then let it rest.

Ron told Sam he could have a small bowl of chocolate ice cream before bedtime (a "treat"). The three of us indulged, actually. We were all sitting in the living room, Ron on the couch, me in the recliner, and Sam at his seat at the end of the cocktail table. After a couple bites, he dropped a small glob of ice cream on his leg.

And he says, while looking down, cleaning it up with his finger, mumbling to himself...

"See??... THIS is why i needed to have PANTS on."

Christmas Junkie

Somehow, probably not surprisingly or uniquely, Christmas turned into my favorite holiday. I can't even really think of any special family traditions, or specific memories, but there is something about getting a Charlie Brown tree (a tradition since I've live in this house, and especially now that i have a family) and dragging out all the decorations that i've gathered through the years that really puts me in GREAT spirits. It's not even the "gift thing." I could honestly care less about that; I've never really been good at thinking up the perfect gift (my friend Amanda was born with this gene!), nor do i crave receiving them. But finding the perfect little "something" that says CHRISTMAS to me really gets me excited.

THAT IS WHY I have to share with you my latest find at Target! Yes, this was mass-produced, and i would love to have found it hand-made somewhere, but i didn't, and when i saw this, my heart melted. Not only am i fond of LITTLE BOXES with tiny little knobs (i focused an entire Wood Class assignment on this very subject at Alfred. My teacher Tom Lacagnina thought i was nuts!), but it's a COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS with little nooks (I love nooks!) to put TINY LITTLE GIFTIES IN! Oh my God, i'm in heaven. And I'm going to put Sam in heaven with this thing as well. I've already bought (and inserted!) some of the goodies. Not all candy, mind you. Some are little ornaments that he can hang on the tree. Some are chocolate. There is a wicked cute clip-on puppy dog hiding behind TALL Door 24. I haven't figured out what to put behind Door 25. Ideas?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween Recap

Sammy insisted for weeks before Halloween that he was going to be "JOKERman!" As in, Heath Ledger's Joker. He saw bits and pieces of "The Dark Knight" at the drive-in, that is, before he conked out (or was that one of the movies that he lasted through?). Then, in true toddler fashion, Halloween night, around 5pm, when I was getting him excited by describing all that we were going to do that night, i said, "..AND... we're going to get you all done up like Jokerman!" To which he responded with a whine: "NooOOoo... i wanna be BATMAN!" Gimme a break kid. So i told Ron, just don't say Jokerman anymore, and i'll go ahead and do him up, he won't care. Well, he really got into getting ready. I was most leery about the makeup and hair. He doesn't like me touching his hair EVER. Washing it in the tub is a total hassle. The make up went well. Ron held up a mirror so he could watch the progression. Then i think it was right around when i gooped up his hair with facial peel (it's all i had!), that he might have freaked himself out. I don't think he recognized himself!!! And i still had to add GREEN to his hair? Well, i tossed that in very fast, because at this point, he was full-on crying. Of course making his Jokerman makeup run. Luckily Jokerman is a mess to begin with (!), so the tears added to the costume! I whooshed him and Ron and Pop-Pop (check out HIS mask! Scared the beejeezus outta Sam at first!) out the door before Sam decided he didn't wanna do Halloween at all! Turns out the three of them had a good ol' time going door-to-door, getting candy. I knew once he got some of that sweet goodness, the tears would subside.

Mommy and Tommy stayed home to answer the door. Unlike last year, we only had FOUR knocks. I had the place done up too, very inviting. And with the weather into the 60s, i was very surprised. Oh well. I really should bring some of this candy into work to get it outta the house!