Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Easy placemats

Here's another fun way to preserve children's artwork - take a drawing that particularly appeals to you (all the better if it's a fairly big one), write the child's name and the date on the back, and have it laminated. Presto, instant placement. They're cute, practical, and easy to clean (if the lamination is done properly they can go right into the sink).

(This is where I would add pictures of two really cute placemats if Blogger wasn't being such a pill, you'll just have to take my word for it.)

My kids love using placemats they've made themselves, and they make great grandparent gifts too.

Swing by Shannon's Rocks in My Dryer for loads of helpful hints from the parenting trenches, and don't forget to check out the incredibly giveaways going on over there (500 different ones and still going strong, one of them even by yours truly).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's the little things

I don't check under my bed for monsters (it's a platform bed anyway, nothing there but drawers of sweaters). I don't believe that mummies will come back to life and chase me through the city. I'm not afraid of ghosts. Israel isn't prime territory for ghosts and hauntings, and besides, I've always imagined ghosts as a fairly benevolent presence. I believe that witches are connected to a power I don't understand, but it isn't necessarily an evil one. Many witches practice only good. I like that. I'm drawn to it in many ways, but I fear I'm too tied to the mundane to ever really sense it in my being. I don't believe in vampires, but I do like to imagine tiny fairies guarding the land, the part of it we haven't yet managed to pave over that is. I'm terrified of scary movies and haunted houses (even those silly ones where you ride through in a car), so I just avoid them.

These are not the things which haunt me, which leave me lying awake in bed, unable to sleep.

No, what haunts me is of an infinitely more practical nature.

Did I lock the front door?

We're out of blue stuff for the toilet. Must go downstairs right this minute and add "blue stuff" to the shopping list.

Will I remember that Itai is going to a friend's house after school? (Better leave a note.) That Maya has a doctor's appointment? (Better add that to the note too.)

Will I remember to pack the charger for my mobile phone? Must get out of bed right this minute, turn on the laptop, bring up the packing list and see if it's on there. (It was.)

These are the things that haunt my nights, leaving me restless and unable to sleep until I know they're settled. Nothing gothic or romantic like ghosts and goblins, just the detritus of daily living. I think I'd be more interesting if I saw actual ghosts, but then again, it didn't work out real well for that kid in the movie, did it? Oh well, I suppose someone has to be boring, I guess that's me.

Mistress of the mundane. Dame of the details. Hmm... Sounding slightly more interesting now, isn't it? Lady of the Lake. Oh wait, that one's already taken (not to mention irrelevant).

I guess I should stick with the title that best sums up this fixation on life's details - mom. After all, if I didn't keep track of them, who would?

What haunts you?

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's Here - The Great Fall Y'All Bloggy Giveaway!

I'm really excited to be participating in Shannon from Rocks In My Dryer's Fall Y'All Bloggy Giveaway. The first giveaway was huge, and this newest one promises to be even bigger and better.

Since I'm a breastfeeding counselor and am passionate about helping moms and babies to breastfeed for my very first blog giveaway I'll be giving away two items for breastfeeding moms:
1. Janet Tamaro's excellent and irreverently funny book So That's What They're For: Breastfeeding Basics. The book gives a tremendous amount of valuable information in a relaxed, easy to understand and oftentimes very funny way. This copy is very gently used.

2. A breastfeeding cover-up by the Israeli firm Sinarkat (website is in Hebrew but the photos are self-explanatory). In the interests of honesty, I have to stress here that no mother should feel she has to cover up or hide to breastfeed (and even discrete breastfeeding can be done easily with a slightly looser fitting shirt) but I realize that there are some women who feel more comfortable with a cover-up. I received this lovely item (and it is lovely) from the manufacturer as a promotion. I'd rather see it go to someone who would otherwise be uncomfortable breastfeeding in public so that they can proudly get out and about with their baby than have it languish in my closet.

The nice thing about this particular cover-up is that the baby's head remains uncovered, encouraging eye contact between the mother and the baby. I know I wouldn't want to eat with my head covered by a heavy blanket, and neither would your baby. This one lets you smile at each other and lets you see exactly what's going on with your baby (are they still eating? are they asleep yet?). It's lightweight and even folds up into that handy pocket on the front. The one I'm giving away is orange with a beige pocket. It's made of soft 100% cotton and is machine washable.
To win leave me a comment telling me something that you love about breastfeeding, and specify which of the two items (or both) you are interested in winning. This contest is international and open to everyone.If you don't have a blog, make sure to leave me an e-mail address so that I have a way of contacting you if you win.
The winner(s) will be selected on Sunday, 4 November by random drawing.
Good luck, and don't forget to visit Shannon's Fall Y'All Bloggy Giveaway for a whole host of giveaway goodness!

Life Lesson #468

Never ever EVER tempt the fates.

Do not under any circumstances tell the internet that your daughter went to sleep quickly and easily and at a reasonable hour, or you might find yourself wide awake at 3am with a hysterically crying daughter who once you've settled her down then chatters to herself for a good hour and a half afterwards, keeping you awake too (despite lying upstairs in your own bed) until 4:30 in the flippin' morning.

So much for a good night's sleep.

And just for added fun, I have my annual today too. Pap smear here I come. Blech.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Talking up a storm

I should be aggravated that M is talking up a storm when she's supposed to be sleeping, but I'm not. Why? Because my daughter is actually lying here next to me (she's in her bed, I'm sitting on the floor next to it) talking in full sentences - in HEBREW. All of a sudden it's like someone flipped a switch, she's actually holding full conversations in Hebrew, telling stories, cracking jokes. All things which until recently were almost impossible for her even in English, and now she's doing them in Hebrew as well! I'm so proud I swear my heart is going to burst right out of my chest.

Her speech therapist visited her preschool the other day to observe and work a bit with her "in real time". She and I had a long state of the union talk today and she is really pleased with the progress Maya is making. I am too of course, but it's especially nice to get some professional validation. Not only is the gap between the two languages (which had been estimated at about 8 months) lessening, her expressive language is just exploding. She came home from school the other day and actually told me a story about something that had happened that day. This is HUGE for Maya. Until now when asked how school was she'd repeat that "she had fun in school and played with toys/animals/puzzles", but it was a formulaic response, not a real interaction.

And, to top it all off, the other day Maya, who never ever ever used to talk to people she didn't know, walked of her own volition up to the owner of the local pizza place (who she doesn't really know) and politely said "may I have a glass of water, please?". I nearly fainted on the spot.

Her talking (both in terms of language, particularly Hebrew, and in terms of her willingness to actually use that language) is progressing by leaps and bounds, she's interested in other children and social interaction, she's happier in her own skin... We're finally getting there. The road has been long, and we're still miles from our destination, but we're finally moving forward and it feels damn good.

And as the icing on the mommy cake she's now sound asleep at the perfectly reasonable hour of 9:30(yes this is reasonable for us, and for Maya it's practically miraculous). Are you sure this is really my daughter?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Hospital Corridor

This week's Sunday Scribbling's prompt is "hospitals". I set out to write a beautiful, life-affirming piece about the time I've spent helping newborn babies and mothers to breastfeed, but this came out instead.

Two strangers
in a hallway cold and green
passing each other
and antiseptic wash
in dispensers by each numbered door
"To Help Protect Our Patients"

Strange smells
hospital smells
and meat loaf
mingle with cleaning fluid
pushed on a cart

Hesitant smiles
a querying glance
quickly veiled
is their news good
is it better than ours
no, mustn't ask

The next day
the same face
back again
just like you
perhaps it's time
to share a smile
or a coffee

a fleeting moment
with a kindred spirit
will make it easier to return
to that numbered room
yet again

Friday, October 26, 2007

Random semi-Halloween cuteness

I'm too exhausted to write any kind of coherent post tonight (and no, it's not from accomplishing anything at all on my giant to-do list) so instead you get shameless mommy-bragging. We had a fun Halloween party here this afternoon. It was all the kids' first experience with Halloween and they took to the whole trick or treating thing (from mom to mom around the living room) awfully quickly (big surprise there, eh?) and the bobbing for apples was a huge hit. These kids were scarfing down apples like they hadn't eaten for a week. They were so taken with the concept that we clever moms decided to turn it into "bobbing for seasonal fruit" and repeat it every few months. The hilarity which ensued unfortunately yielded no good pictures of my costumed kid (Itai - who went as Spiderman) but a few cute ones of my non-costumed kid (Maya - who wore butterfly wings for about 30 seconds, and a necklace and heels for at least 2.5 minutes. Her best costume of the day though was her first - Lady Godiva - since she was answering the door dressed only in her underwear). As a self-respecting momblogger I feel compelled to share the cuteness and blatantly fish for compliments from all of you out there. So that Itai won't feel left out, I'm including one of him from hockey practice the other day too.

Enjoy, and I promise I won't object if you feel compelled to leave a comment telling me how freaking cute my kids are.

Maya looking very pleased with herself after bobbing for an apple (if you can call using your hands to push it into your mouth bobbing that is)

Ms. Flintstone herself (note the feet, not to mention that the car itself is older than dirt)

Enjoy that smile now, he plans to be a goalie!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

13 Things I Need To Accomplish Before My Parents Arrive

Edited because we're making progress - yippee!

My parents are arriving this Wednesday for a much-anticipated visit which means that in between everything else we've got going on this weekend (hosting a Halloween party on Friday afternoon - yes, we decided to go ahead and do one for our anglo friends even though Halloween isn't celebrated here in Israel, company for lunch on Saturday, and a host of other craziness) we have to make a serious dent in our "oh my god my parents are coming" to-do list, which includes:

1. Hang new light fixture in their bathroom, to replace the one I broke 6 months ago. Can't have them peeing in the dark!

2. Put all the pool bags away for the season, thereby getting them off of the closet door handles where they're hanging now

3. Shovel all my junk off the table in the guest/computer/storage/junk room and find someplace upstairs for it all

4. Take digital pictures of all the kids' artwork so that I can throw it all out put it away somewhere.

5. Find a place to store the highchair. Now that Maya has finally agreed to give it up it certainly doesn't need to stay in the middle of the kitchen.

6. Give that giant bag of used books to my cleaner - that one will happen tomorrow

7. Buy 2 new pillows - decided not to bother

8. Find and buy an English language road atlas - regional one apparently doesn't exist, and we've got a national one already

9. Get a sitter for the night of my parents' 40th anniversary (we've already got dinner reservations here)

10. Clear out the small dresser in their room

11. Rehang the big hanging storage thingie properly (instead of leaving it hanging from the handle of our stacked up suitcases - we're going to need those suitcases for Florence!)

12. Stock up on meat and good wine

13. Find decent map of our town (preferably in English so I don't have to start messing around with white-out or photoshop) and mark out all key locations so they can find their way around while we're away (did I happen to mention we're going to Florence for a week while they're here - with NO kids?!?) It wasn't in English, but I did manage to find an electronic copy that I could add English to without too much hassle.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When life gives you lemons...

...squeeze more juice.

Seriously, if you want to get more juice out of a lemon, stick it in the microwave for just a few seconds first (10-15) to warm it slightly. Then, when you take it out, roll it firmly back and forth on the counter a few times (as if you were rolling out dough) before squeezing. You'll find that you get a lot more juice from each lemon.

Check out Rocks in my Dryer to see what works for everyone else.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Stranger in the Mirror

Sorry, I know some of you were hoping for a continuation of last week's message in a bottle story, but I'm buried under huge yawning piles of work this week and haven't had a chance to sit down and figure out where it's going. For now it will have to stay in the work in progress file. Instead, I give you my take on the stranger.

The Stranger In The Mirror


Whose face is that looking back at me

These wrinkles
that arrived overnight
why laugh lines
when they look so haggard

Caught halfway
between maid and crone
I remember the girl that was
and begin to see
the old woman that will be

Each new line a memory
etched by years both good and bad
should I embrace them
these symbols of where I've been
or fight back against time

Or should I just wonder
why my mirror tells me lies*

The poem above was inspired by "Lies", a beautiful Stan Rogers' song. You can listen to a short clip by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.

by Stan Rogers

At last the kids are gone now for the day.
She reaches for the coffee as the school bus pulls away.
Another day to tend the house and plan
For Friday at the Legion when she's dancing with her man.

Sure was a bitter winter but Friday will be fine,
And maybe last year's Easter dress will serve her one more time.
She'd pass for twenty-nine but for her eyes.
But winter lines are telling wicked lies.

All lies.
All those lines are telling wicked lies.
Lies all lies.
Too many lines there in that face;
Too many to erase or disguise;
They must be telling lies.

Is this the face that won for her the man
Whose amazed and clumsy fingers put that ring upon her hand?
No need to search that mirror for the years.
The menace in their message shouts across the blur of tears.

So this is Beauty's finish.
Like Rodin's "Belle Heauimiere",
The pretty maiden trapped inside the ranch wife's toil and care.
Well, after seven kids, that's no surprise,
But why cannot her mirror tell her lies.

All lies.
All those lines are telling wicked lies.
Lies all lies.
Too many lines there in that face;
Too many to erase or disguise;
They must be telling lies.

Then she shakes off the bitter web she wove,
And turns to set the mirror, gently, face down by the stove.
She gathers up her apron in her hand,
Pours a cup of coffee, drips Carnation from the can,
And thinks ahead to Friday, 'cause Friday will be fine!
She'll look up in that weathered face that loves hers, line for line,
To see that maiden shining in his eyes
And laugh at how her mirror tells her lies.

All lies.
All those lines are telling wicked lies.
Lies all lies.
Too many lines there in that face;
Too many to erase or disguise;
They must be telling lies.

Stan RogersLies

Sunday, October 21, 2007

So angry I'm about to have a coronary!

I called my health fund today (today - remember that, it's important) to get phone numbers and reception hours for a specialist in my area. I received the name and number of a particular doctor. I called, and the recording said "reception hours today are 7pm-9pm, no appointment necessary. Please do not leave a message."

Knowing that she was seeing walk-ins tonight I left my exhausted husband home with the kids and drove to the next town at 7:30 in the evening to see the doctor. I arrived (eventually, half the flippin' streets were closed for construction) and had to wait nearly 45 minutes for her to finish seeing the current patient and call me in. It was FINALLY my turn. I walked in, sat down, and she asked me what health fund I was in. When I told her, she said "I don't see patients from that fund." I beg your pardon, you don't WHAT? "I don't see patients from that fund. It doesn't pay well enough. I stopped working with them on September (!) 1st." When I pointed out that she'd kept me waiting for nearly 45 minutes just to announce this she started to lecture me! "What! You'd wait an hour for a hairdresser but it's not worth it to you to wait for a doctor? What! You're not willing to wait an entire day when it's your health? My time is valuable you know." Umm, excuse me?!? And my time is not??? I'll wait if I must for a doctor, you had me waiting for NOTHING you cow! I didn't get to SEE a doctor after all that waiting. I stomped out and then spent the whole drive home reaming out the health fund over the phone for doing this to me in the first place. All they could manage to do was say "ok, we'll note in the file that she's no longer working with us, and would you like an appointment in this other town twice as far away late next week, and by the way why didn't you call the doctor first to make an appointment?" Because the recording, on the phone number that YOU gave me TODAY, said I didn't need to. I was completely apoplectic at this point. I finally sputtered that I would go on their website and find something my damn self.

And to top it all off I never did see a doctor, so I still don't have the pills I need.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Absolute Power - Will I Let It Corrupt Me?

If I were Queen there would be so many changes to make, so many desperately needed improvements... A little tweaking here, a few resolutions there...What to do, what to do...

First off, no schools or jobs would begin before 10 am. I understand the need to fit a day's activities in, but really, 8:00? That's just cruel, especially for the poor parents who have to get their charges up and out at that ungodly hour.

Next, each house would be supplied with its own fancy-shmancy espresso service - ON TAP. Why have to spend thousands on a machine that takes up half your counter, or be stuck with plain old drip just because it's cheaper, or worse, have to support a big corporation just to get your morning joe? Better to just turn on the tap. Oh, and of course the tap next to it would have frothed milk. Can't have one without the other after all. No decaf though. If you're drinking decaf you don't really need it that badly after all, do you dear?

Ok, moving rapidly along. Giant whirlpool baths in every home. Even those (like mine, ahem) with no bathroom big enough to install one. Why, you ask? Simple. The kids would stop fighting bathtime, and better yet they wouldn't need a whole tub full of toys, leaving the tub clean and inviting for the adults to use later without having to shovel out 80 billion small floating toys.

Next - all clothes must be comfortable. No more fabrics that don't breathe, no more binding waistbands, never ever any tight necks, just lots of swingy easy clothing that looks great but is still fun to wear.

That's probably enough for my first day, but I'll throw out one last proclamation: from this day forward, chocolate is diet food. No calories, no guilt.

Look here to see how other kings and queens plan to spend their first days in charge.

The Write-Away Contest hosted by Scribbit

And while I'm here, I'd like to thank Shalee from Shalee's Diner, this month's guest judge, for awarding me an honorable mention in Scribbit's October Write-Away contest for The Nut of the Month Club. I had fun writing it and the recognition is lovely.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Flower Power

Maya had her preschool party today. She and her friend M (they celebrate in pairs) sang and danced their way through a slew of Hebrew birthday songs and activities, culminating in the perennial favorite "Where's the Cake?" song, followed obviously by the grand entrance of the cake and then of course the "Foo'ing The Candles" song. (And yes, to "foo" is a verb, didn't you know? Actually, it sort of is in Hebrew. They really do tell children to "say foo".)

Maya had a ball - she was thrilled to have her moment in the sun and was just beaming from ear to ear the whole time, and we beamed right back seeing her participating so beautifully and enjoying herself so much.
(I didn't get any decent pictures today that didn't have a lot of other people's kids in them, so since I don't put other kids' photos on the internet without permission I substituted this one taken by a photographer friend a few weeks ago. It's the same dress, and captures her exuberance today perfectly. If you can't tell, she's actually in mid-air (hence the crazy hair). And no, I don't know yet if I'm having it framed. He took a ton and I haven't made the final selection yet. More on that some other time...)

Happy birthday Miss Mouse, we love you so very much.

She had such a great day (minus one post-party letdown meltdown of atomic proportions, but we'll skip that little anecdote. Bygones.) that this is where she ended up this evening. Note the half-eaten pita on the kitchen floor. (So that you can truly appreciate this, this is only the second time in her entire life that she's fallen asleep mid-stream like this. The first time was about a year ago and we found her inside a laundry basket LOL.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

TT #34 - 13 Beautiful Sights

No header graphic this week, Blogger's blown a gasket...

1. Love shining in someone special's eye

2. My children

3. Green mountains

4. Sunset over the ocean

5. A steaming plate of pasta in cream sauce

6. Gourmet chocolate

7. Jerusalem at dusk - they don't call it Jerusalem of Gold for nothing

8. A newborn baby

9. Michaelangelo's David (which I am going to see in just 3 weeks!)

10. An audience that has been completely captivated by music

11. New England in the fall

12. The sumptiously rich clothing seen in Renaissance portraits

13. Waterfalls

What would make your list?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

If onions make you cry...

Light a candle nearby before you start. The candle flame needs oxygen to burn, and so will suck in the onion fumes, leaving the air less toxic and less painful for your eyes. You'll probably still cry, but not as quickly and not as much. Once you've started cooking the onion you can blow the candle out.

Visit Rocks In My Dryer for loads more clever tips.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A what in a what?

I couldn't possibly have known as I sat there reading my book and sipping my iced coffee that warm summer Saturday how the phone call I was about to receive was going to turn my life upside-down and inside-out. I was happy, content even. Life was fine, the kids were fine, even work was fine. Everything was rolling merrily along for a change. Looking back, I suppose I should have known. Nothing that idyllic ever lasts. It's just foreshadowing, that peaches and cream scene in the beginning of a made-for-tv movie when you just know that fate has a real doozie in store for them. And this one? It was a whopper alright. If I hadn't lived it myself I would never believe it.

But I didn't know any of this yet. I still thought my plan for the day involved curling up on the couch with a good book and drinking coffee, a few games of Shoots and Ladders, and possibly take-out Thai food for dinner.


I had just gotten to the part of the book where the plot starts to really come together and threaten to sweep you away when the phone rang. It was my friend Marcie. Lovable but ditzy Marcie. The one with the grand idea you simply MUST listen to, the Big Plan that will put her disastrous love life back on track, the get rich quick scheme that can't possibly lose. Yes, that Marcie. I smiled. Whatever her story was, it was as sure to be as completely without basis as it was ridiculous. It would probably be good for a laugh though, and whatever it was it would definitely be entertaining.

I picked up the phone.

Hi Marcie... Not much, just sitting here reading... You were where? The beach? That must have been nice, it's a good day for it... Hang on, slow down. You found a WHAT? WHERE? No really, what did you find?... Marcie, that's ridiculous, people stopped using bottles to send messages a hundred years ago. Castaways these days just call on their cellphone and a few hours later the cavalry arrives to swoop them up. End of story. No one writes a desperate plea for help inside a bottle...

No, you most certainly should not go running off to look for him. You don't even know where to start, and anyway, it's probably some 15-year-old's idea of a prank. What do you mean there's a map? And a reward offered? Marcie, this is ridiculous. Even for you this is ridiculous.

What? Yeah. Of course I'll come along. I don't believe a word of this bottle nonsense, but if you insist on setting off on this wild goose chase someone has to keep you out of trouble along the way, to make sure you don't try to sail to Cyprus on a wooden raft or get kidnapped by a roving band of smugglers or something else equally naive.

I threw a few sandwiches together, grabbed my wallet and camera (just in case she conveniently fell off a dock or got herself covered in bright blue whipped cream or something else equally photogenic - you never know when the next photo op might present itself when you're out with Marcie). I said goodbye to my family and started to leave. Hang on, on second thought I'd better grab a spare t-shirt and a change of underwear. This is Marcie after all. Who knows what kind of hare-brained scheme this will turn out to be. I gave my husband and kids another kiss and headed for the door, calling out "see you guys later, have a good day".

I had no idea that it would be 3 months before I was home again.

Look here to see what could have been inside that bottle.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sharing the Love

A few weeks ago Susan over at West of Mars very generously awarded me the Blogging Star award. (I'd have preferred that she award me an evening with ShapeShifter, but I suppose that would be greedy so I'll just say thank you for the award and shut up...) The Blogging Star was created by Barb of Skittles' Place, who says:

This award is for bloggers who shine their light throughout the Blogosphere. Some do it with humor, others with creativity, and others with their kind and thoughtful natures. We all know more than a few of them so why not give them some recognition?
Here's what to do if you receive this:

* Proudly display it on your blog along with a link to who gave it to you.
* Mention that it originated here at Skittles' Place so I can follow its journey.
* Pass it on to any blogger(s) you think should have it.
Thank you Susan, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Now it's my turn to share the warm fuzzies. I'd like to share them this time with three blogs that are still fairly new to me but that have captured a place in my heart, and on my daily read list:

Kelley from Magneto Bold Too - one of the funniest bloggers I've read lately. She actually found me, and I'm delighted that she did. Kelley lets it all hang out, no holds barred, and manages to find humor in even the most difficult situations. Also, her kitchen is stocked with many of the same gadgets as mine, so you know she's got impecable taste.

Lea of Tales From The Labyrinth - her work simply takes my breath away
Helena from Thrice Blessed Momma - for incredible strength and grace, and for knowing that all mommas work better with an occasional night off

Nu, why are you still here? You should be off reading these three wonderful blogs! Get outta here! Scram! Go read!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Nut Of The Month Club

Scribbit's Write-Away contest for October is about, what else, the things that scare you. As I sat and thought about what to write, the usual litany of Mothers' Greatest Fears ran through my mind. I don't need to list them here, you all know what they are as well as I do. I was sitting there wondering if it would be possible to write about what scares me without dragging myself and everyone around me into a black pit of despair when I heard a disembodied voice on the television say something that drove those thoughts straight out of my head and made my blood run cold. Scared the living daylights out of me I tell you. (And by the way, while we're on the subject, what on earth are living daylights anyway? Or dead daylights, for that matter?)

The voice suggested that a delightful gift for a loved one would be membership in the Nut Of The Month Club.

The Nut Of The Month Club.

The Nut Of The Month Club? Are they insane? Apparently they are if they think I'm going to cough up $129.99 for the privilege of having a new lunatic show up at my home every four weeks. And how would this work exactly? Would the straight-jackets be color coordinated for the seasons? Printed with turkeys or cornucopias for Thanksgiving? Candy canes at Christmas?

Can you imagine the catalog you'd get in the mail...

Treat your loved one or business associate to a wonderfully unique gift, helping him remember you all through the year. Each month, recipients in our Nut Of The Month Club will receive a new and unique gift wrapped Nut. The first month's selection will be accompanied by a gift card with the greeting of your choice. All nuts will be shipped from our headquarters in Looneyville, Some State, by the 2th of the month. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Pre-screened selections for 2008 will be:

January: Mr. Freeze, comes complete with lethally sharp 6-foot icicle (note: The Nut Of The Month Club is not responsible for the icicle melting if shipped to a climate with temperatures above freezing).

February: The Mad Kisser, accompanying sexual harassment suit optional ($59.99, to be paid at time of order)

March: The Lion King - this very special lunatic believes he is in fact a lion and will come roaring in accordingly. Beware, product contains sharp nails which may cause injury if not properly handled.

April: The Tax Man - the IRS' answer to "going postal".

May: Raving Lunatic - this Nut loves to stand in public places and expound upon his latest conspiracy theories and plan for world domination. Best results will be obtained if he is provided with a proper podium and sound system.

June: The Wedding Flasher - loves to crash flash weddings. Comes with beige Burberry trenchcoat.

July: Pyromaniac - the perfect accompaniment to all those summer fireworks. This extraordinary Nut specializes in lighting up your house to match your holiday pyrotechnics display.

August: The Human Jaws. Specializes in surprise lakehouse and beachside appearances. Comes with soundtrack.

September: Babbling Fool. This Nut suffered a tragic homework overdose in his youth and now stumbles through town babbling about quadratic equations and the capital of Peru.

October: The Great Pumpkin. This lunatic is quite human, but believes himself to be the reincarnation of the Great Pumpkin himself. Wears nothing but strategically-placed pumpkins and throws seeds and pumpkin innards at any who dare to mock.

November: Standard Model Axe-Wielding Lunatic. Axe can be upgraded to a chainsaw for an additional $79.99.

December: Santa's Helper. This last Nut of 2008 will arrive wearing a red and green fur-trimmed suit. He runs through malls screaming "there is no such thing as Santa, it's only your parents you idiots" at the top of his lungs. Note: this model is not recommended for households with children under age 8.

Please note that these products are seasonal, and as such no substitutions are possible.

I don't know about you, but the Nut Of The Month Club scares the stuffing out of me. You can bet that this gift that keeps on giving is not on my shopping list this year. Sheesh. I can't believe some marketer actually got paid for dreaming this up. The gullibility of the public never ceases to amaze me. What on earth will they come up with next?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Maya Mouse

Maya turned four years old today. We had a lovely, low-key celebration with just a couple of close friends. When asked whether she'd had a nice birthday, Maya summed it up by saying "I had a cake that was a clown, and I foo'd the candles! Are there more presents?" Funny girl...
She pored over my cake books for weeks before finally deciding on a clown for today.
The biggest hit of the day was the hot pink Tweety Bird pillow she got from her brother. No surprise there - she's been stopping by the toy store several times a week for the past month to "visit" it!
For her preschool party next Friday she'll be sharing with another boy, a good friend, and they're both thrilled to bits to be celebrating together. Come back next week for more pictures, including what will hopefully be an adorable flower cake with cookie petals.

Wanted: Magic Wand (pref new)

All that is standing between me and my dream job is a working magic wand. If I had a magic wand (ok, and a cool pair of wings too) then I could be a fairy godmother. I could spend my days healing sick children, easing the pain of the elderly, reuniting lost loved ones, absolving those wracked with guilt, returning to health those struck down in their prime by the cruel onslaught of disease, bringing food to the hungry, providing shelter to those stuck out in the cold... All with just a wave of my wand. And once I'd done that I could even dole out the occasional pair of glass slippers for an awkward, gangly 13 year old sure she'll never get to go to the ball.

No more cancer. No more autism. No more asbestosis. No more Alzheimer's. No more mental illness. No more SPD. No more depression. No more anxiety. No more.

So many in pain. So many in need. And no way to make it better. No kisses can make those booboos go away.

If I could have any job in the world, it would surely be fairy godmother.

I'm going to go kiss my husband and children now, and yes, it's been a hard week.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Halloween Treat

How fun. I don't get to celebrate Halloween here in Israel, but Vixen has treated me to this yummy candied apple so I can join in the holiday fun too. Looks delicious, doesn't it?

Each day up until Halloween [October 31st] Hootin-Anni is handing out a treat for 1 - 5 [one to five] bloggers who drop by during the week for visiting and says that they're more than welcome to pass it along to ones you think are deserving of a special treat for the season (and you should definitely go check out her blog - she's all decked out for the holiday). Kinda like “Pay it Forward”, y’know, one goodwill gesture deserves another? But DON’T just choose your friends making this cliquish and ‘just groupies’… Make NEW friends by choosing random visitors!!! - - Yes - - Make it RANDOM!!

If you do decide to share it with others USE THIS “TREAT” IMAGE and link it back to Hootin-Anni and explain where the idea originated.Click on the image to expand and then save for displaying on your blog if you choose.

I'm going to play along by passing this along to 3 random commentors on my Shades of Autumn post:

Amy from Lives Less Ordinary
Ann Aguirre from Try Some; It's Good
Julia from A Piece Of My Mind


I can't believe I forgot to tell you!

It's Florence!

In LESS THAN A MONTH we will be off to the beautiful city of Florence for an entire (first time in 7 years child-free!) week!

Food! Art! Scenery! Architecture! Food! Shopping! Food! (Did I mention food?!?)

After mucho deliberation we've decided to stay at what looks to be a lovely little pensione right in the heart of the city, just a few meters from the Duomo, perfect for diving right into things in the morning and for afternoon breaks or dropping off packages mid-day.

(I suddenly feel the urge to run around the house singing Viva Italia, but I'll spare everyone. Especially my family and neighbors, who might turn around and have me committed, which would then spoil my vacation. Best not to take any chances...)

Instead I'll settle for a semi-quiet wahoooooo!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

TT #33 - 13 Shades of Autumn

In keeping with tradition (see here and here), I give you, in no particular order, 13 shades of autumn (these are not colors of individual types of fall leaves, rather examples of the color palette that we tend to think of as autumnal). And yes, those of you who are regular readers of my blog will no doubt notice that I've been a wee bit obsessed with the subject of fall this week. We don't get fall colors here in Israel, but these are the types of things I'd enjoy seeing if I still lived in NY. As before, descriptions are taken from wikipedia:

1. Pumpkin - color that resembles pumpkins.

2. Vermillion - when found naturally-occurring vermillion is an opaque orangeish red pigment, used since antiquity, originally derived from the powdered mineral cinnabar. Chemically the pigment is mercuric sulfide, HgS. Like all mercury compounds it is toxic. Today, vermilion is most commonly artificially produced by reacting mercury with molten sulfur. Most naturally produced vermilion comes from cinnabar mined in China, giving rise to its alternative name of China red. As pure sources of cinnabar are rare, natural vermilion has always been extremely expensive. In the Middle Ages, vermilion was often as expensive as gilding. As of 2007 a 40 ml tube of genuine Chinese Vermilion oil paint can cost £51 (US ~$100).

There is evidence of the use of cinnabar pigment in India and China since prehistory; It was known to the Romans; Pliny the Elder records that it became so expensive that the price had to be fixed by the Roman government. The synthesis of vermilion from mercury and sulfur may have been invented by the Chinese; the earliest known description of the process dates from the 8th century. The synthetically-produced pigment was used throughout Europe from the 12th century, mostly for illuminated manuscripts, although it remained prohibitively expensive until the 14th century when the technique for synthesizing vermilion was widely known in Europe. Synthetic vermilion was regarded early on as superior to the pigment derived from natural cinnabar. Cennino Cennini mentions that vermilion is "made by alchemy, prepared in a retort. I am leaving out the system for this, because it would be too tedious to set forth in my discussion all the methods and receipts. Because, if you want to take the trouble, you will find plenty of receipts for it, and especially by asking of the friars. But I advise you rather to get some of that which you find at the druggists' for your money, so as not to lose time in the many variations of procedure. And I will teach you how to buy it, and to recognize the good vermilion. Always buy vermilion unbroken, and not pounded or ground. The reason? Because it is generally adulterated, either with red lead or with pounded brick." Vermilion was frequently adulterated due to its high price, usually with red lead, an inexpensive bright lead oxide pigment that was too reactive to be trustworthy enough for use in art.

3. Golden Yellow - Golden yellow is the color halfway between amber and yellow. It is a color that is 87.5% yellow and 12.5% red. The first recorded use of golden yellow as a color name in English was in the year 1597.

4. Burnt Sienna - an iron oxide pigment: a warm mid brown color. It is also a Crayola color.
Chemically, burnt sienna is formed by burning raw sienna (Terra di Sienna). One of the main characters of the comic strip PvP is named Brent Sienna, after the pigment and/or the color. Brent is the art director for the fictional magazine PvP. On the television show Family Guy, while trying to pick up girls in a bar, the African-American character Cleveland Brown asks "How would you like to go Black, then have to make a difficult decision regarding whether or not to go back?" To which the girl replies "I already went Burnt Sienna and never went back." She then leaves the bar with a giant talking crayon of said color. David Morrell has written a novel called Burnt Sienna. It involves a painter and retired secret agent working to rescue a beautiful woman from a madman who plans to kill her.

5. Auburn - a reddish brown color. It is similar to burgundy and maroon, although these two colors have a more reddish tint, while auburn has a slightly more brownish one. Historically, the word abram was used to mean auburn, for example in early (pre-1685) folios of Coriolanus, Thomas Kyd's Soliman and Perseda (1588) and Thomas Middleton's Blurt, Master Constable (1601). In his book 'Germania' Tacitus, the Romanised Gaulish historian, described the hair color of the Germanic peoples as being 'Rutilo' meaning Auburn in Latin.
The first recorded use of auburn as a color name in English was in 1430. Coincidentally also the color of my hair at the moment.

6. Goldenrod - a color that resembles the goldenrod plant. A crayon with this name and color, although a lighter version, was created in 1958.

7. Cerise - a deep to vivid purplish red. There are various shades of cerise. The cerise name comes from the French word meaning cherry. The word "cherry" itself comes from the Norman cherise. According to Maerz and Paul in their Dictionary of Color, the first recorded use of cerise as a color name in English was in 1858. However, it was used at least as early as 1846 in a book of crochet patterns.[

8. Orange - The colour orange occurs between red and yellow in the visible spectrum at a wavelength of about 585 – 620 nm, and has a hue of 30° in HSV colour space. The complementary colour of orange is azure, a slightly greenish blue. With pigments such as paints or inks, a mixture of the subtractive primary colours in the proportion of 75% yellow and 25% magenta produce the secondary colour orange. Orange pigments are largely in the ochre or cadmium families, and absorb mostly blue light.

9. Mahagony - a brownish color. It is approximately the color of the wood, mahogany. However, the wood itself is not uniformly the same color, and "mahogany" is not a standard HTML color with a standardized RGB value. Mahogany is an official Crayola crayon color.

10. Chestnut - Indian red also known as chestnut, is a brownish shade of rose. It is named after a special soil found in India. It is thus an earth tone as well as a red. It is composed of naturally occurring iron oxides. Indian red is not named after Native Americans. However, because of the possible confusion, Crayola changed their crayon color Indian Red to Chestnut.
11. Red - any of a number of similar colors evoked by light consisting predominantly of the longest wavelengths of light discernible by the human eye, in the wavelength range of roughly 625–750 nm. Longer wavelengths than this are called infrared, or below red and cannot be seen by human eyes. In human color psychology, red is associated with energy and blood, and emotions that stir the blood, including anger, passion, and love.
Red is used as one of the additive primary colors of light, complementary to cyan, in RGB color systems. Red is also one of the subtractive primary colors of RYB color space but not CMYK color space. One common use of red as an additive primary color is in the RGB color model. Because "red" is not by itself standardized, color mixtures based on red are not exact specifications of color either. In order to produce exact colors the color red needs to be defined in terms of an absolute color space such as sRGB. As used in computer monitors and television screens, red is very variable, but some systems may apply color correction (so that a standardized "red" is produced that is not in fact full intensity of only the red colorant).

12. Rust - a red-orange color resembling iron oxide. It is a commonly used color in stage lighting, and appears roughly the same color as photographic safelights when used over a standard tungsten light source. The color is number 777 in Lee Filters swatch book.

13. Brown - a color which is a dark yellow, orange, or red, of low luminance relative to lighter or white colored objects. Some pale orange and yellow colors of lower saturation are called light browns.

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