Thursday, February 28, 2008

I need one of these!

I love the cute shirts over at Swirl Syndicate and I have to say that this one is probably my favorite! The shirts all have lots of fun bi-racial humor (i.e. blender with chocolate and milk and the phrase "I'm swirled") and they are updating their store in March to include a bunch of new designs.

This one probably appeals to me most because I am most often mistaken for a sitter/nanny to my girls. In fact, when Kai first started school the teachers thought I was really very sweet to her for a nanny. They couldn't believe a nanny would love a child she watched so much. Pretty funny, I think. I've never really been offended when people assume I'm a sitter or that they're adopted because I secretly think it's pretty amusing. Why would I really care if someone asks me where they were adopted from since I know they're my girls? Which, incidentally, would be true even if they were adopted so maybe people should refrain from asking "are they adopted or are they yours?" to people - especially in front of the children in question. I know my girls are aware of people when they ask that question.

Still, these shirts would garner some fun reactions and I might have to fork over the $40 ($20 each) for a couple.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Haircut!

Shamefully, I must admit that I just got my hair cut professionally for the first time since I was pregnant with Ivy. Can you believe that? It's pretty terrible. But, I finally bit the bullet and did it. The girl (a friend of Eryn's) was awesome and I will make her my hairdresser for life and am vowing to get haircuts more regularly - just like a real girl! In fact, I'm even considering going out on a limb with some fun color, too. Tatttoos, haircuts, and now possibly color? I'm really walking on the wild side! : )

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Holy Crap. Literally.

I found this over at Ragamuffin Soul.

It is hilarious and disturbing all at the same time. I'd love to know where his church is...

Sweat from the Locker Room Floor

Rule #1: You can't race on a treadmill.

When I get on a treadmill in the morning I purposely seek out the one that is far removed from the pack. You know what I mean, there's a treadmill in a corner or off to the side where the spandex clad, or wind-short wearing, waifs and gaunts haven't yet populated with their swift running spidery legs. That's where I go to start plotting my 15-20 minute session of fat jiggling. I like being far removed so it's harder for any of those stick figures to notice that my treadmill rocks with every pounding step I take or that my hand towel is soaked after 5 minutes of slather.

So, it was with disdain that I noticed one of the spider people hop on a treadmill right next to me out of the sea of treadmills available between me and the pack. She swiftly begins this speed walking jaunt that matches if not passes the speed I'm currently jogging. I think about dialing up the speed. I can't let the spider lady walk faster than I'm running. About a minute later, apparently her warm up is over. She dials up to twice my speed and is practically sprinting on this treadmill.

The flab of my arms are slipping on the sweat of my chest as I realize, "There's no point." I can't beat her and if I try I'll re-enact a scene out of Mr. Woodchuck sending my whole jauncing heaping mass off the treadmill to land in a pile of fat and broken bones. I dial down. I may sway this treadmill and cause the springs to creak under my massive weight, but I'll be damned if I end my work out on the floor as a blubbering idiot.

You can't race on a treadmill.

Total Truth Tuesday

I heart my Blackberry. I mean, I love it so much it may actually be considered a sin. I am hopelessly addicted to every feature it has and well, I can't imagine being forced to give it up. If I loved amphetamines or alcohol or, well, just about anything else this much (aside, of course, from my family) you'd probably be tempted to take it away from me and send me to rehab. Don't you even think about it, though. I know Thomas is secretly planning an intervention, but until then I am going to enjoy every minute with this blessed device.

Wanna know why I love it? Here's just one anecdotal example.

For instance, let's say you have two children who require constant diversion. Let's say the wheels are coming off the bus in a BIG way. What do you do? Google pictures of their favorite animals, of course! Google the pics, play animal sound trivia and watch as the whole situation decompresses. Wonderfulness. Google + Blackberry = Nirvana.

I swear I'm not all that shallow but, honestly, what did my parents do without the ability to google farm animals from their phones on road trips? I just don't even want to imagine a world like that...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Songs of the Humpback Whale, By Jodi Picoult

I just realized I never posted my review of Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult. It was last month's First Thurdays book and I was going to wait until we met to post my review. So here it is...

I've been a fan of Picoult for a few years now and pretty much am guaranteed to love anything she writes. So, for me, it was a no-brainer to pick this book for the First Thursdays inaugural book choice. It was Picoult's first novel so I was curious to see how far she'd come. The answer is, very, very far. I did enjoy the book on a superficial level. I thought the plot was relatively interesting, but ultimately the characters were flat and unlikable. There really wasn't a single character who seemed the least bit interesting or real to me.

From the emotionally infantile mother/wife, Jane, to the cold, uncaring and unsympathetic husband/father, Oliver there was not a likable character in the mix. Even Rebecca, the wise-beyond-her-years daughter with a reverse role as a maternal figure to her own mother, who should earn the reader's sympathy if nothing else, was just dry and flat.

It is a testament to Picoult's progression as a writer to see where she began and it makes me even more excited to see where she is headed.

Ultimately I'd say skip this one and choose one of her later books. My Sister's Keeper was the book that introduced me to Picoult's writing and is still one of my absolute favorite of her works...

Middlesex and other books...

Okay, so I am going to officially save my review of Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides until First Thursdays meets and we can talk about it, but for now I have to say Oh. My. Gosh. I LOVED this book! From the blurb you know it's about a Greek-American hermaphrodite who comes of age and learns to deal with the medical diagnosis and its affect on his/her life. But, it is about so much more. It is complex and tragic and beautiful and gut-wrenching. It is absolutely a must-read (despite being an Oprah book club selection).

I am trying desperately to make some progress on Thomas' pick, Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis because he has absolutely loved the Space Trilogy. Try as I might it's just not happening for me, but I refuse to give up. So, I continue to work through it.

However, I must admit, I'm starting a bit of a literary affair with The Age of Shiva, by Manil Suri. I want to be faithful to Out of the Silent Planet, but this other book is just calling my name. Maybe once I get it finished and out of my head I can go back to the Space Trilogy...

I cut the feet off socks.

Okay, that sounds like some weird confession but it's actually a fun kid's fashion idea.

When Kai was a little younger than Ivy I heard about a cool new product called BabyLegs. They are essentially a long leg warmer for little ones that let them keep their legs warm in onesies or skirts while protecting them from the slippery hazards of socks. I thought they were great and immediately went looking for some. They sold for about $12 a pair and I was going to go right out and snap up a ton of them.

Then I had an epiphany. These were socks with the bottoms cut off. Except they were $12 and I had to buy them online and pay shipping. So, that's when I started cutting the bottoms of socks. We get lots of compliments on them and the girls love them. I end up shopping for cool ladies socks and then cut the feet off so the girls can wear them. They're great because they come in all kinds of cool styles, they're cheap, and they are pretty much one size fits all so the girls can share. (Not to mention they make potty training and diaper changes a cinch!) The ones above were some I got for Kai to wear to her Christmas program. I tend to like them pulled down over the shoes but they look equally cute tucked in like a pair of tights.

Anyways, just thought I'd share the cool idea I stole from the folks at BabyLegs...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Not quite getting it...

Despite my utter refusal to acknowledge her attempts, Ivy is moving forward with the whole potty training thing. She is obsessed with "going potty." In fact, whenever we can't find her we end up looking in the bathroom 'cause chances are she's sitting right there. She hasn't quite fully grasped the concept, though, 'cause half the time she is sitting like she is in the picture: completely clothed.

It seems that despite my initial reluctance to conquer this milestone so early, my hand is being forced. We will be starting the long arduous journey to potty training this weekend. Boo. : (

You haven't lived until...

you've cuddled with a big stinky dog the size of an adult human. Have I ever mentioned that? Hiro has been spending alot of time indoors lately (thanks to the wonderful shock collar) and it's actually been really fun. She's a huge girl (I'm guessing 115lbs) but she'll curl up on the floor in front of the sofa and just chill. No jumping. No barking. Just cuddling. You can lay your head on her, prop your feet on her, and because she's so big and strong she doesn't even notice.

When she's inside she is so peaceful and loving. It reminds me why we made the crazy decision to get a ginormous dog in the first place. But, she's not perfect and still hasn't fully gotten the hang of the whole house training thing. Not that she's ever had an accident upstairs, but Thomas has had to do more than his fair share of mopping in the basement. So, that begs the question, anyone have any tried and true suggestions for getting a dog over that potty training hump and into habit of having no accidents whatsoever? Her only problem is the overnight thing and she outgrew her crate ages ago so we're pretty much at a loss for next steps...

Blogging for Fun & Profit, Part 2

Okay, folks, so by now you know I've been trying to think of ways to make some money blogging. I mean, I figure it's one of my favorite things to do so why not try to put that to work for me, right? As SAHM has to earn her keep somehow and I really hate doing housework so I have to contribute to the household one way or another...

In my quest I found a really cool site through one of my freelance writer's communities that lets you blog about products, services and sites relevant to your site/readership/life. is a cool place that pays Bloggers to talk about things they find interesting. You just sign up, submit your blog, and once it's approved there is a list of cool things to blog about and each one has a pay figure.

Don't think of it as selling out, think of it as expanding your blogging horizons. I still get to pick what I blog about and I can choose things that I find interesting or useful or just plain cool. It's really different from those random margin ads because you get to choose your blog ads instead of having some sketchy unapproved sponsors showing up on the margins of your blog next to pictures of your family.

So, check it out if you're interested and I'll be sure and let you know how it goes. I'm pretty excited, though, 'cause trying to blog every day gets tough so it definitely helps to have a pool of ideas from this place. And, on top of that, I'll get to find out about cool things that I might never have heard of. Who doesn't like getting paid for doing something they love to do anyways?

Notice the badge at the bottom? That's one way to tell my "sponsored" blog posts from my others. Just in case you were wondering...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kai-versations: the "flattery will get you nowhere" edition

Kai: "Mom, I like your eyebrows. They are so big. I hope I can have eyebrows like that when I grow up."

Jenna: "Well, maybe you can."

Kai: "And, mom, I really love your belly."

Jenna, skeptically: "Really? Well, I like your belly better."

Kai: "No, mom. I love your belly. When I grow up I hope I can have a belly like it. You know, one that is floppy and jiggles. I want one that goes squish when you step on it like yours."

Gee, thanks...

R.I.P. Feminism

I used to think "Rock Of Love" was the show most degrading to women. But, that was before I watched "Flavor of Love 3." Oh. My. Gosh. Seriously? Are you kidding me? Flavor Flav actually names the women on the show. And he has these twins on there that he has named "Thing 1 & Thing 2." Do I really need to say any more?

Actually, I am speechless with shock and horror so I couldn't say more even if I wanted to...

Blogging for Fun and Profit

I've been thinking alot about pimping my blog. I mean, people make all kinds of money blogging, right? And I LOVE to blog so why not make a little cash with my blog? I looked into Google AdSense but, honestly, it feels a little too pimpy to me. Having ads for products I don't know anything about right next to pictures of my kids seems a bit, I don't know, disgusting.

But, a little web research turned up a really cool site called, Blogsvertise. The concept behind this site is that advertisers pay you to blog about specific products and services relevant to your blog readers. The best part is you're not required to endorse the products or links, just basically mention them and elaborate a bit on how they do/do not relate to your life. I think it's a much cooler and less sleazy way to generate a little web income. Anyways, since I have more blogging friends now, I thought I'd mention it ( in case anyone was interested. I haven't officially started blogging for them, but if my blog is approved I'll be sure and let you guys know what I think!

Boring? Yes. Shocking? Definitely.

Try to suffer through this, because it is really unbelievable.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Horsing Around

I've really got to stop watching Dr. Phil. It seems like every time I do, Kai and Ivy get into some ridiculous trouble. Kai was supposed to be playing in her play kitchen. I checked on her and she seemed fine. But, at some point, she found the big huge heavy duty chisel tip Sharpie we used to make Yard Sale signs the other weekend and well, she got creative. Again.

She said she was playing horsey. But, she wanted to be the horsey. So, she turned herself into the horsey. Complete with hair and hooves. Check it out:

Did I mention this was a SHARPIE marker she did this with? Yep. Guess who's going to school tomorrow with black arms and a single black leg? I'll give you a hint:

Total Truth Tuesday (no, it's not what you think!)

I just finished watching Trantasia the other night. It's a documentary that chronicles the "World's Most Beautiful Transsexual" Pageant. I made Thomas watch it with me out of sheer fascination with this whole phenomenon. It was pretty interesting. But, that's not my total truth.

My total truth (besides the fact that I LOVE drag queens) is that I secretly wish I knew a transsexual or transvestite so he/she could teach me how to do my make-up because these chicks were FIERCE! My gosh. They are so beautiful and I feel ashamed that I was born a woman and never learned to look as good as these guys. It's crazy.

Anyways, that's my truth. If I knew a drag queen I would totally invite him/her over once a month for a make-up and hair lesson so I could learn to be as fabulous as these girls.

(By the way, in case you didn't realize it, everyone in that picture was born a male. Crazy, huh?)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pumplini Picnic

My dad was usually charged with cooking breakfast on Sunday's before church. I don't exactly know how this came about but for as long as my memory stretches, if there were a hot meal on Sunday it was produced by my dad. These meals usually consisted of onions, green peppers and some sort of meat wrapped in egg omelet's slathered in salsa; mile high stacks of pancakes bathed in butter and topped with fruit jams—guava, lilikoi, or passion fruit—with sides of portuguese sausage; and on some Sundays when we were lucky enough to find ourselves in a particularly poor state he'd fry up pumplini's.

Pumplini's are apparently one of those poor foods that grew into tradition and live on in a culture as a favored food by those lucky enough to have lived through hard times and yet were young enough in those times that a families love and a warm meal, no matter how meager, were enough to make bright those times of stress and hardship. As far as I know, my grandma brought with her the pumplini from hardships of Puerto Rico to Hawaii where an independent farmers life allowed her to pass the pumplini to my father. My father was able to pass it to me during some difficult financial stages of our family. By then though, it had already transcended the food of the poor to the food of a family. And so I'm able to pass the spirit of the pumplini on to my daughters.

Pumplini's, my dad says, is spanish for 'small bread' or 'pan bread'. It's the most basic of breads that you can fry or cook over an open flame. It can be made from just a couple of cups of flour, baking soda, salt and water. Mixed into a dough you fry it in shallow oil. If you're feeling rich you can add an egg, half a cup of sugar, milk instead of water and even a touch of vanilla to round out the flavor.

Oh the things you'll say...

Dr. Seuss promised exciting things in "Oh, The Places You'll Go" but no one ever warned you about the things you'll say. And that has become an eye-opening experience for us. Think back to all the things your parents said that you HATED. Like, "Don't make me come over there" or "When I was a little girl I..." You think you'll never say those things and I hope for your sake you are right. But, as for me (and Thomas, too) those things have been escaping my mouth despite my best efforts.

Case in point: Kai insisted on having a banana because Ivy was having one. Kai doesn't really like bananas. She peeled the banana and took one bite. When I told her she needed to eat more she said, "No way, Jose. No Way!"

I, of course, told her she couldn't leave her chair until she had 2 bites. She took her required bites, proceeded to mock-vomit, and was greeted with this pearl of wisdom courtesy of her mother, "Kai, there are children all over the world who don't have bananas and would love to eat good food. You need to eat it now and like it." Yep, I said it. I officially sealed my membership to the "Bad Parenting Phrases" club. We have jackets and everything.

Thomas beat me to membership last week. When he was helping put Kai to bed she asked him if I could keep coming back and checking on her. Knowing if I did it that bedtime would stretch on forever and because it was a LOST night, Thomas told her he would be doing the honors. She pitched a huge fit to which he said "Kai, I'm going to be the one to check on you tonight and you're gonna like it." He walked into the bedroom after saying it, looked at me and said, "I can't believe I actually said those words."

So, that begs the question, what is the most "parental" thing you've ever said?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sometimes I write...

It's few and far between these days, but sometimes I find a moment to write something down. This is an early draft of something I wrote a few months ago and just found. Feel free to constructively criticize. But, please, be gentle.
For Ivy
November 15, 2007
It is a quarter to two in the morning and you are awake and crying for the third time. Is it any wonder I need a nap most days? This, my friend would say, is reason 878 not to have kids. My exhaustion says she is right. But, I know she is not. This is reason 10, 694 to have kids.

I walk into your room where you sit dazed from dreaming and crying. You see me in your doorway. “maaamaaa.” You almost hum the words. Not a cry. Not a call. More an exhalation.

Your arms reach out half hugging half pleading for escape. I climb into your bed past the rail that keeps you safe in your cocoon of blankets. I lie down, my back flat against the cool wall, and curl up to you. “sshhh. Sleep, baby. Mama’s here.” Your little body, exhausted, relaxes and your crying slowly dies down. Your head bobs from back to front and side to side. Your eyes close and you lie down in the warmth of your bed.

These moments are the ones I will miss when you grow too big to be my baby. You will sleep the restless sleep of an adolescent and I will sneak into your room pretending to fold clothes but stay to watch you and remember. I will wish for one more night like this.

But tonight, I pat your back until your breathing deepens and I hear the rough breath that tells me you will sleep the rest of the night. You lay there beside me warm and calm and I know that this is the job I was made for. I am your mother, the calmer of midnight tears.

I hold your tiny hand, hot and smooth as a stone. This hand, perfect and innocent and pure, will grow with you until I cannot guard and protect you from the world. This hand, so diminutive and warm in mine, may touch pieces of the earth I have never imagined. This hand may change the entire world. It has surely changed mine.

I slip quietly out of your bed and leave you to breathe the rhythm of your dreams. Smoothing your dark hair over your forehead, I exhale a silent thanks to God for this moment.

Crack a smile, why don't ya?

This is Ivy's favorite way to walk around now. In public. At home. With friends. With strangers. She pulls them down like this on purpose. I guess she really is starting to look like her daddy...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Life Lessons from the Yard Sale

Thomas and I survived out first ever yard sale today! It was a fun experience (i think?) and definitely an eye opening one. We ended up having a pretty successful one though we didn't meet my projected goal (which Thomas says was overambitious anyway). But, mostly, the whole thing was pretty hard work. From the dragging out things, to the pricing, to the waking up at the butt crack of dawn it was no picnic. By far the hardest thing about the whole process, though, was saying goodbye to clothes, furniture and other items we loved for fraction of what they were worth. People can be cruel with your belongings. Anyways, that said, I learned some lessons that I am going to carry beyond the yard sale and they are:

1. You can never be mad at someone for getting something out of you that you don't want to give. The truth is, you are still in control so no one is "forcing" you to give them a cheaper price than you want. I think, for me, this translates into a practical lesson because I often find myself getting angry that people (friends, family, or strangers) convince me to give or do more than I want to. I get angry at them when the truth is I can't get mad at someone for something I control.

2. It's not personal. It's hard to believe when people are digging through your belongings, but the fact that they don't like something doesn't mean they don't like you. It doesn't mean they think you are a bad person, they just don't need/want what you have. Still, I'm the type to take EVERYTHING personal so that is a tough one for me. I think it brought to light, though, the fact that most things in life aren't personal for the people who aren't on the receiving end of them. Does that mean that it's not a big deal just because someone doesn't mean it personally? Of course not. But, I do think I'm going to think twice before falling apart of the smallest perceived offense. I'm also vowing to be more vigilant about my own behavior so as not be so callous in my actions toward others.

3. It is okay to let go. As if you couldn't tell from our carport, Thomas and I have a bit of a problem letting go of things. It's why our basement is a mess. And our car is a mess. It's why I have every scrap of scribble and art from my girls. I can't let go. It is the most difficult thing for me to do. But, throughout this (and my various Craigslist selling adventures) I've learned that you won't actually die from selling a chandelier that you took out of your first house and saved ever since. Your children's lives will not be irreparably damaged from you selling their collection of Happy Meal toys. And, old clothes that don't fit are better off being sold for $1 a piece (regardless of what you paid) than left in trash bags in your basement. This was an important lesson for me and I'm glad I've learned it. In fact, this whole cleansing of material goods is kind of addictive and we're already looking forward to another yard sale experience!

Of course, I feel like a big dork for finding "life lessons" in a yard sale, but I needed something to blog about today and I truly did find a little enlightenment in the whole yard sale process so don't make fun of me too much. Or do. 'Cause I won't take it personal...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Why you never give potted plants to kids...

Thomas took Kai out for a date for Valentine's Day and he bought the girls some flowers. But, in an effort to give them something that would last beyond Valentine's Day, he gave them flower plants.

Valentine's Day at our house was a bit crazy since I was still in the midst of my overambitious crafting project, and I let the girls play for a while on their own (you'd think I'd learn my lesson, right?). I went back to check on the girls and guess what I found? Yep, you guessed it. They eviscerated the plants. Luckily I was able to perform life saving measures and rescue the plants, but I was still left with a terribly messy crime scene. Oh, the humanity!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day (the LOOOOVE edition)

Beyond being a Hallmark holiday, Valentine's Day is also a special anniversary in our house. It's the 7th anniversary of our engagement. 7 years ago (much to the dismay of some family) Thomas took me out to a nice dinner, gave me a hand-painted box decorated with pictures and a poem he had written, and inside nestled in flower petals was a question in the form of a ring. A short (by that I mean LONG) 10 months later we were married on Christmas Eve.

It was a bit of a fairy tale romance complete with dragons to slay and I am now able to look back and see the whole story with joy and awe for the way God allowed it to unfold.

Thanks, Thomas, for being my knight in shining armor. As Kai would say, "Happy 'I love you' Day!"

Happy Valentine's Day! (the fun edition)

Don't send a lame Valentine's Day eCard. Try JibJab Sendables!

Happy Valentine's Day! (the crafty edition)

I decided about a month ago that I was going to make the girls' class Valentines. I did it last year and it was fun so I planned on doing it again. And Valentine's Day was a long ways away so I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. Finally, in a panic last night I made the Valentine's. It didn't help that I'd bitten off more than I could chew...

For Kai's I decided to steal a Martha Stewart idea and hand-stitch 26 plastic hearts and fill them with Conversation hearts. They turned out so cute (sorry the pictures are a crappy representation) and I am in love with them. Honestly, when I did the first one and saw how much work it was I really hoped the final product would be awful so I wouldn't want to do 26 of them. But, they were too cute to give up on. So, I didn't. And I finished them at a quarter to 5 this morning.

For Ivy's I found a cute idea online. Basically, you just make some playdough, cut them into hearts, and put them in a little bag. Much easier than Kai's (once you find the right playdough recipe-which can be tricky). I think they turned out really cute and I only had to do 10 of those.

Then, in an effort to really run myself into the ground, I decided to have Thomas buy their V-day shirts at the last minute. They of course did not have their sizes and so I had to alter/reconstruct them so they would look cute. Luckily, I pulled it off without having to sew anything! I think they match their personalities so well...

Kai Before

Kai After...

Ivy Before...

Ivy After...

oh, and here's the Playdough Recipe I ended up using. It is easy, fast, and uses the most basic of ingredients.

2 cups of flour
1 cup of salt
1 cup of water (add food coloring to water)
1 tsp. cooking oil

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Climbing Mt. Kaivy

I turned my back for just a few minutes. I was doing something very important and urgent (read: watching Dr. Phil's 1000th show) and Kai said she and Ivy were going to be cleaning up the books in their bedroom. I'm doing something terribly wrong as a mother if this is their idea of "cleaning up!"

It's their "mountain" according to Kai and it is made up of every single blanket and pillow they could find as well as a significant portion of their dirty clothes pile. Will the chaotic creativity never end?? Oh, well. Guess it could be worse. They could have been destroying their playroom.

Oh, wait. Never mind...

I am aware that I missed my Total Truth Tuesday yesterday but Thomas' poem kinda wrecked me and I didn't want to knock his post down with some ridiculous and trivial his was enough truth for the day. So, I thought I'd let it marinate a while in my brain and on the page...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Kai-versations with daddy

Kai mumbles under her breath as she fidgets with her pajama bottoms.

Daddy: What's wrong Kai?

Kai grumbles again.

Daddy: Kai, what's the matter?

Kai: I don't like my butt.

Daddy: What?!

Kai: I don't like my butt. I don't like my butt. I DON'T - LIKE - MY BUTT!

Daddy: Oh, gosh is that starting already...?

I Stand in the Rain to Hear Her Sing

I hear her calling me while I’m in the shower,
mornings when the half light of the sun's first rays
crawl over the horizon, splash against the wood slats
hanging listless before the window
then splintering softly as diffused pale light
off the bleak white of the collapsing walls
in my master bathroom.

By the time the light reaches the plastic steamed curtain
of the shower the room is the color of the moon’s halo.

I stare at the pasty grout between
the smooth milky tiles with an ear cocked
to the breath of voice. The faint call
echoes in my memory but it slices
through the steam choked air
as if she were roaming the inner walls
of my house.

Her soft calls, like her gentle prodding
from the door frame of the house I grew up in,
beckoning me from a street away to come home
from play, split the strands of water
lapping down upon me. Her voice was a warning
in the winter's setting sun, a closing to a day,
the end of games and the beginning home.

She would wait, framed in the doorway,
for the length of my shadow to crest our street
and stretch itself toward her. A wave of her hand
and a golden smile of relief flashed in the sun
before she retreated within, satisfied
that my journey home was almost complete.

I’ve been clean for twenty minutes
but I can’t turn the water off because I hide
the tears that spill over my eyelashes with the arching water.
Her voice is still clear though distant. She hums
from the kitchen as I breach the door while the last red fingers
of the sun slip behind Mount Ka'ala.

Garlic-salt and chicken fill the air as dinner simmers
and a soft chorus floats on the air with the delicious comfort of home.

I can almost make out her tune—

But I know it must be the echo of water
refracting on tiles producing a rhythm
that my subconscious mind wants to believe
is my mother's voice in the distance.
The running water traps sounds
that pry the edges of my memory open
spilling a splash of music;
dripping a dollop of voice.

I know I'm being fooled by the snatches of whisper
drowned within my inner being
who needs to believe my mother isn't dead.

As the heat of the shower becomes lukewarm
sluicing over my body I can hear the water
crashing on the gritty sand of Ali'i beach
where we gathered what was left of her—
a heavy gray chalky dust strewn with pebbled bone.
We dusted the ocean with her memory and cast a lei to the waves
as a final passage from this life to the next. A final parting.

But she hasn't left me. I can hear her voice in the running water.
So I wait for the shower to run cold before turning the spigots closed.
I let the faucet drip at night so she can whisper lullaby's as I sleep.

And I stand in the rain to hear her sing.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Total Truth Tuesday: You tell me...

For this week's edition of Total Truth Tuesday, I want to know what you think. So, you guys give me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Seriously, I can take it.

Did I waste my education?

I was having a conversation with a good friend a while back about the value of educating a woman who will eventually stay at home with her children. It was an interesting discussion, completely amiable, between a SAHM and a working mom. Both mothers of daughters.

Through this discussion the question was asked, "Is there any point in going to college and spending money on an education if you're planning to stay at home and raise kids?"

At the time, I couldn't really articulate my thoughts eloquently on the subject. When it comes to debating a topic, I know two speeds. They are: politely restrained and out for blood. Just ask my husband. He'll be glad to tell you which speed is my favorite. (Hint: It isn't restraint.)

And since this is a very good friend and truly was a friendly discussion, I didn't lock and load and throw all my effort into this argument.

But, this was certainly not the first time this conversation has come up in my life. A year or two ago I was given a child-rearing "manifesto" by a more conservative friend. In no uncertain terms, it stated that girls should not receive education beyond high school since the Bible "says" women are to raise children and care for the home. (Click here to read my opinion on that myth.)

I realize people on both sides of the educational fence could say I wasted my education. Some feminists might say I am wasting my education by staying home with my kids when I could be "contributing" to society. More conservative folks would ask why I bothered to go to school and get "educated" when I clearly should have been pursuing more domestic training.

But, here's why I think it is important for a woman to be educated whether or not she plans to stay home later with her children.

1. Things don't always go according to your plan. Have you read this guest post on Rocks in My Dryer's website? It is a beautiful and heartbreakingly honest post from a self-described "wife without a husband and mother without a child." A woman who planned to get married and have children. And a woman who found that life had other plans. Imagine if she had decided to forgo education because she planned to have kids one day.

2. There is more to learn in higher education than academics. I think higher education can mean a variety of things. I want to make this part really clear, I don't believe an "education" has to mean learning in a traditional college setting. But, I do think attention must be paid to learning things about the world outside. Whether it be apprenticing or traveling through Europe or mission trips or a traditional college degree or anything in between, learning about other people, places, and cultures is important. How can I, as a mom, impart a sense of wonder about this big huge world to my children if I've never seen how big it is? I was an English major in school. Not necessarily the most practical of degrees. But, is what I learned wasted on my time at home? Of course not. I learned about people, relationships, history, art. I got the opportunity to travel and live abroad for a short period of time. I learned self-reliance. I learned to be a part of a community. All of these things are an important part of raising thoughtful, articulate, and well-rounded children. For that reason, I cannot look at my education as wasted.

3. Perhaps most importantly, being a SAHM means so much more than just staying at home. Whether you like the term SAHM or Homemaker or something loftier, you have to recognize that this "job" entails much more than sitting on the sofa watching kids play all day. Yes, there are days when I color in coloring books or play Barbies for 80% of my day. And, of course, there are times when my days feel like nothing more than glorified babysitting. But, my job is much more like family CEO than anything. I balance the books and manage all the bills. I am responsible for finding educational and entertaining activities to keep my children happy and busy. I am a conflict negotiator between two emotionally high-strung and often irrational individuals. I am responsible for making healthy meal choices for my family (which may occasionally include cupcakes for breakfast, but, hey, I'm doing my best here!). I am wardrobe consultant, hair stylist, laundress, housekeeper, teacher, chauffer, accountant, event planner, cultural ambassador, Sunday school teacher, and more. And I am better at all of these things because I didn't simply give up on learning about the world after high school.

Perhaps what frustrates me most (and tends to make me feel the most self-conscious of my decision to stay at home) is the notion that I am "just" a mom. The notion that I am wasting my time, my education, or my resources on my children is a frustrating one for me.

And, if you're saying to yourself, "me thinks the lady doth protest too much" - well, you're probably right.

I'll admit that, some days, I am my own biggest critic when it comes to convincing myself I'm not wasting away at home. But, in my (albeit rare) moments of clarity, I know that my education ultimately contributes to my ability to be a good mom to my kids and that, in the end, the only thing I'm really wasting is the time I spend worrying about what other people think about my choices.

But, what about you? How do you feel about higher education and raising children? What would have done differently in this particular area? What are decisions are you thankful you made?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Easy Chocolate Bread Pudding

Okay, so though I'd failed at this endeavor about a month ago, I thought I'd give it another shot. I got this recipe off Recipezaar and altered it a bit.

3 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter (3/4 stick)
1/4 cup chocolate chips
6-7 slices day-old bread, cut 1-inch cubes (5 cups lightly packed)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

On stove, heat milk, butter, chocolate chips. Heat until well-mixed. In 8X8 baking dish, arrange bread cubes evenly. Sprinkle with salt. Beat eggs and add vanilla and cinnamon. Remove chocolate mixture from heat. Mix well with eggs mixture. Pour evenly over bread cubes. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

It turned out delicious! So very, very good with a little bit of vanilla ice cream on the side. Try it some time. Oh, but make sure you really mix the egg mixture and the chocolate mixture really well 'cause we did have one little spot with what appeared to be a slightly scrambled egg...

What the Pho?

Here's reason 55,468 why I love my girls: They are so brave when it comes to trying new things! We ordered Vietnamese food tonight from a local restaurant and it is one of their absolute favorite meals. The girls ate the noodles like they were going out of style. Ivy filled her bowl of Pho with bean sprouts and cilantro and Kai put Hoisin sauce in hers. They've eaten this particular food before, but it has always made me proud to see how adventurous they are with eating.

We were also amazed to watch Ivy eat the cilantro on its own. We had to post pictures 'cause it was too unbelievable! She sat there in her high chair eating the cilantro straight off the stem! These girls are too much...

Oh, yeah and lest you think me very witty, I must tell you that What the Pho? is the very clever name of a Vietnamese Pho restuarant over in gwinnett and not a clever title of my own. It was just too cute not to use somewhere...

Friday, February 8, 2008

Year of the Rat - Happy Chinese New Year!

Ni hao!

Even though Chinese is the one ethnicity not running through Thomas (and the girls') veins we decided it would be cool to teach the girls a little bit about Chinese New Year. My knowledge of Chinese culture is rudimentary at best, but we figured they'd never know the difference. So, with a little help from some good google-fu we checked out some traditions, made some lanterns and dragons, ordered some chicken and fish for prosperity and health, some dumplings for wealth and fortune, and some noodles for longevity. We prepared the red "lucky money" envelopes and had a fun time learning a little about Chinese traditions.

By the way, did you know you can call your local Chinese restaurant and ask them to prepare authentic chinese food for you? Ours offered to when we told them what we were doing but since we knew that meant chicken with feet and beaks, and fish with heads we decided to pass...

Chinese New Year lasts for the next 14 days so if you're interested in celebrating you still have time!

mm mmm...good.

It all started with a new flavor of Pop Tarts. One I thought Kai liked. But, she didn't eat it all on the way to school today and asked me to throw it away. Since she'd only nibbled a third of it I thought I would eat it (since it was the last one and I didn't get breakfast and all).

Jenna: "I'll take it Kai. Do you care if I eat the rest of it?"

Kai: "No...go ahead."

I take a bite. Then another. Finally, chewing a mouthful of Pop Tarts I hear Kai say, "Mom, just don't get the chocolate on your hands. I licked all of the chocolate on top so it might be sticky."


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Total Truth Tuesday

This truth is a shameful secret of mine. I hate to admit to it, and my family teases me mercilessly about it, but the truth is: I LOVE naps.

I love naps like some people love alcohol or illicit drugs. I LOVE to curl up on the sofa in the afternoon and crash for 30 minutes or 2 hours or whatever. On days when I'm home with the girls, I have been known to take a quick nap while they do the same. On days when they're not home, I have definitely been known to nap in the peace and quiet of a kid-free home.

It's probably exaggerated by the fact that I cannot get to sleep before 1 am and the recent trend of my children to get up at 5:30 am, but still it is one of my more embarrassing secrets. I try not to take naps sometimes because I hate to waste so much time sleeping, but it's like an addiction I can't escape.

The funny thing is, my mom says I stopped taking naps before I was 2 and up until about 3 years ago I hated to sleep. I would sleep 4 hours or sometimes less a night and never need a nap. I refused to sleep during the day and never ever ever before midnight. But, after I got mono I never seemed to lose the sleepiness that accompanied it. Now, two kids later, I use them as my excuse for napping. But, the truth is, I count it as a perk of the job. Some people have a 401k, health insurance, and a paycheck. I just happen to have naps...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Kai-versations: The Bossy Big Sister edition

(notice the backwards coat on Ives? classic.)

Ivy, screaming loudly in her carseat: "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"

Kai, with disdain: "Ivy was that really necessary?"

Corned Beef and Cabbage...

I made this Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup Stuff tonight for dinner from the recipe below. It was easy, cheap, had fresh veggies and made the whole family happy. Plus, I love just about anything made with Cabbage. It was perfect served with some yeast rolls on the side. I don't think it qualifies as a soup since there wasn't much broth, but its called a soup in the recipe.

Either way it's really good and one of our family's favorites (even if my house does have an overwhelmingly cabbage-y aroma!)

Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup

1 head of cabbage cut into chunks
olive oil
1 small box penne pasta
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 can corned beef, chopped (I think it could use 2 cans, but I've only ever made it with one)
fresh carrots, sliced

Heat oil in stock pot. Add cabbage and cook 2 minutes. Add broth and water. Add carrots and corned beef. Simmer 20 minutes. Add pasta. Cook until tender. Salt to taste.

I threw in a pic of Kai at the bottom. It was actually taken during the cooking of last week's spaghetti night meal, but she looks too cute in her apron so I couldn't resist.