Certified Smart

No Cool Story had a fun penny guessing contest a few days ago and I hazarded a guess did a complicated but brilliant scientific formula to calculate how many pennies were in her banco.

I won!!
I canNOT believe it!

And now I get to post her fabulous smiling face award in my sidebar.

(Pending my supersmart HTML ability to get them to post properly - I haven't been able to get anything but text to show up in the sidebar for some reason. But after the chili prize and now the banco prize, I am on a roll - maybe I can even conquer Blogger...)

Thank you, No Cool Story!

Just Give Me a Pot and Some Beans

And I'll get something to blog about.

So I slow-cooked a pot of chili today for our annual chili cook-off at church. I started out with a recipe but improvised quite a bit, and ended up thinking it was kind-of a dud chili by the end of the day. But...

I won Best Overall Chili! (::Doing a little dance::)

I can likely never duplicate it, but apparently it was deeeeelish.

The funniest part about it was that my husband was recruited at the last minute to be a judge and he purposely didn't mention my chili (they were numbered anonymously, but he knew which one was mine) - the other two judges had to talk him into it.

Yep, it's a proud, proud day in the Code Yellow kitchen. Her culinary prowess conquered even the (very) impartial husband judge.


True Calvin

Calvin caught me totally off guard earlier, dancing to this little segment in the movie, "Robots." This video is actually not as animated as the first time I saw him do it (he had a serious head jive funky rhythm going on!), but you get the picture. And his singing at the end just kills me. I think what surprised me the most is that we (David and I) are not dancers - we're more concrete shoes kind of people, old, serious souls with inhibitions galore. And here's our baby just groovin' like he knows what he's doing. I think really that children come into this world dancing - I hope Cal still dances like this when he's my age.

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And this next one - you gotta know that the action started long before I got the camera going and lasted long after I stopped filming. It's pretty much Calvin in a nutshell. Energizer bunny, eat your heart out.

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Okay, Okay! I Give!

Technically, I'm still on siesta, but I did catch a glimmer of bloggability today...

Calvin said this morning, "Uh, Mom?"

...I wish you could hear the voice inflection in that phrase - it's one of his new favorites, and he says it like, "I can't believe I'm having to tell you this, but I guess I have to, because you apparently just do not get it..."

Anyway: "Uh, Mom? You haven't been doing all your work on the computer any more." "Oh, yeah?" "Yeah. So you should go upstairs right now and do some." Bless his heart for referring to my blog habit as my work.

And sad that the undivided attention I felt guilty for not giving before really isn't as desireable as I thought it was. Makes me a little uneasy about what's going on downstairs at the moment...Ah, well. The very act of blogging may perpetuate the blog, right?

A few minutes ago Henry was sitting in my lap and I pinched his thighs (impossible not to do when Henry is sitting in your lap), and I said, "I loooove your fat thighs!" He giggled but then got really serious and said, "Dem's not fat fighs."

So I said, "Well, I love them anyway." Then he said, "Dust hold my's fighs. No tickle dem." And he arranged my hands so they were laid across his legs in a less offensive manner. So, new rule: No tickling of (fat baby) thighs. Holding only.

And now, if someone would like to help me with my techno savvy (or lack thereof), I have two short home videos that I want to post, but I don't know exactly how...


Sixth Month Siesta

That's what I'm going to do - take a nice little blog nap. To recover from the Sixth Month Slump. Which is what I'm going through, I think.

Because, frankly, I'm boring myself, and I've been working on feeling comfortable in my blogger skin or finding a niche or something, and I just can't hit on it right now. A nap is always the answer.

I'm hoping that my blog isn't going the way of most of the journals I've ever kept - faithful and full for a spurt of time and then months or years of nothing. When I started blogging, it was different from the blank books of years past, but the ups and downs of why I'm blogging and do people really care and do I really care if people really care - that's been getting me down. All in my own mind, but stressful nonetheless. So I'm going to rest a bit.

The next forseeable interest in the Code Yellow house is Halloween - I bought two costumes on sale the other night and the boys are excited, besides being too adorable for words, so look for a pic or two on the 31st.

And then we'll see where the blog goes from there.


Word (x4)

Gina tagged me for this fun definition meme. These are the words she passed on and what they mean to me:

silt - Um, I don't think a person can grow up in an agrarian watershed in the western US and not know that silt is the fine sand and dirt that is deposited in the bottom of riverbeds. So I couldn't create a more interesting definition for that one.

schwa - this is one of those words that I like to use in social gatherings to demonstrate my high culture and refinement: "I just adore your gown, Baroness. And that necklace just adds the perfect je ne sais schwa to the whole ensemble." (A person hobnobs with a lot of baronesses living in agrarian watersheds in the western US.)

digraph - this is what you turn in to your geometry teacher to prove that the dog at least attempted to eat your homework. It's a graph that Rover tore in two.

calendula - I think this is actually a proper name, for the mythical cousin of Medusa, who I tend to resemble whenever let my hair grow longer than chin length.

And now, for the tag:

Tess, as always, because you have that awesome meme blog (and because I know you can come up with some way funny definitions here...)

Angela, because you know I love sharing words with you.

Millie, because you will run with these, I know.

No Cool Story, because you are the archetypal foreigner and I know you will come up with something good.

And Chess, because there's no telling what you will come up with.

These are the words for which you must invent personal definitions:


Astonish me.


The Young Professional

The boys love to play in our master closet. As an advocate of The Not So Big House, I understand why. It's just the size for them.

They inevitably turn from hiding or making towers in there to pulling all the hangers off the lower bar and rearranging all the shoes (or putting Matchbox cars, little bouncy balls or legos into them) or dumping the laundry hamper out all over the floor. All of which kinda irritates their dad.

Tonight they asked for paper and pens to draw and promptly went into the closet, where I heard the distinct sound of coloring on the other side of the closed door. Luckily, the pen wasn't clicked open to write, so no damage was done to the door, but I reminded them about writing only on paper, and said they needed to get out of the closet.

Calvin, surprisingly, was about to comply when Henry looked up at me and firmly said, "No, MOM," with a bit of a finger point at me: "Dis. Ours. OFFICE."

After I finished laughing at the vehemence mixed with cherubic blue eyes and rosey cheeks, a few minor concerns came to the forefront: Since when do two-year-olds know and want offices? Does it mean he will be something like a lawyer when he grows up? And, who is in charge around here? I mean, it's never been David or me, but now I don't know if I'm supposed to defer to Calvin or Henry. Or Calhenry. Yikes.


Booking It

Cal and Henry have started to "read" their favorite books. They really just tell about the pictures or repeat phrases (or the whole book) from memory. (This is where "murky depths" came from - Cal liked how it sounded when his Dad read it to him.)

Well, just now Henry was perusing his recent must-read, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" This is how he read it:

"Whatsu lookin' at, Teatso? Whatsu lookin' at, tsilwen?" (Instead of, "Teacher, teacher, what do you see?" and, "Children, Children, what do you see?"


Here's a little update on my Fall Into Reading goals:

The Devil Wears Prada - an enjoyable read, but I think I really liked the movie better. Which is surprising. In the book Andrea doesn't toss her cell phone in a fountain in Paris at the end, but she does do something very clever with the designer clothes (rather than giving them to her mentor assistant in the office). I don't know - they both have their merits. It's a fun story.

My Antonia - If you have never read this book, do. It is beautiful and so much more my speed than the fashion runways of DWP. I cried for pretty much the whole last chapter of Antonia and her children. So much of it evokes my love for the American west and, interestingly enough, Ukraine and Eastern Europe. This book is just wholesome and touching and rich and I love it still.

The Long Winter - The story of the boys who kept their wheat in the wall - That's what I remembered it as. I read it two or three times before I was twelve, but not since, and so much more of the parenting and the surviving and the great simple values stood out to me this time. And I noticed that Laura Ingalls Wilder actually wrote quite poetically. The Little House books ruined me for modern life early on. After reading this one again, I want to start over with Little House in the Big Woods. It's America's childhood and mine, all in one...

I've started Washington's Crossing, and it is well-written and quite fascinating but a more demanding read than I am willing to sink into right at the moment, so I'll get back to it. Before the autumn is over, I promise.

I'm well into Jane Eyre right now, and I'm really enjoying it.

My mother-in-law sent a package today which included a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird. She recommends it as one of her favorite all-time books, as she has taught it for many years in high school English. I've never read it, so I'm adding it to my list.

What books do you love?

Tantrum City

Calvin went through a phase for a month or two before he started talking when he threw tantrums regularly, mostly because he couldn't communicate and was frustrated. We weathered that moderately well. Since then, he has fairly isolated occasions of fit-throwing and they are generally related to one of three things: he's tired, he's hungry, or I didn't give him any warning about an upcoming change. (He needs a couple minutes or so to "finish" playing with his legos before we leave for the grocery store, etc. - With that small window of time, he comes totally willingly, without the great shoe and sock war and the kicking and screaming scene to the carseat. So I comply. I feel crabby when someone demands that I stop something immediately, too.)

Cal can also be a little surly sometimes, and I've figured out that it mostly stems from a level of shyness and his intensity and curiosity - he's always thinking and processing. I'm not justifying anti-social or unruly behavior, I'm just saying that as his mom, I've learned a lot about how he operates since he was born almost four years ago.

But lately, he has been in nearly constant tantrum mode. I picked him up from preschool today and he SCREAMED that he didn't want to go. He had to put away a water bottle that he was playing with at preschool and wanted to borrow it. I told him we had one at home that I would get for him when we got there and he SCREAMED that we did not have one and that he hated me and he hated going home and that he hated the car and he hated water bottles.

I passed the preschool calendar and supplies on to the next teacher and he SCREAMED that he hated to share and then fell in the middle of the stairwell with his head in his hands bawling like the world was ending, sobbing because he was going to miss the calendar and it was ours, etc.

We came home and he was looking at the leaves everywhere, somewhat recovered from his aversion to calendar sharing and water bottle trauma. He said, "There's lots of leaves on the ground now, Mom." And stupid me, I said, "Yep, I bet the leaf blowers will come in a couple days." And he fell apart about the leaf blowers (which he usually loves - anyone with an impressive tool).

I have no idea where it all comes from - he's fed, not too tired, and I'm not throwing any curve balls his way, really. There's no reasoning with him, there's no consoling him, there's no discipline that seems to reach him whatsoever. And it seems that when he is not tantrumming, he is causing Henry to scream and cry.

I don't think I can listen to it anymore. I'm about to throw a tantrum of my own...

Scream!! Crash! Whap! Kick! Kick! Kick! (shoes in the hall, toys on the stairs, etc.)
Bam! Thwap! Thump ! (fluff pillows violently, wallow into bed, yank covers over my head)

Hey, that feels a lot better.


Things That Go Bump

Yesterday my husband and our neighbor went about "fixing" the faucet in our kitchen. It has leaked for some time and lately the garbage disposal ceased functioning. Their little project was to replace the disposal and the faucet and re-caulk.

Seven hours and an extra trip to Home Depot later, I had an entire brand new shiny sink, a new faucet, and a new under-sink cupboard interior. With some additional talk about sometime replacing the circa 1971 dishwasher (that doesn't get the top rack - or sometimes the bottom rack - clean anymore) and updating the tile countertops that I am so in love with. Hmmm. We'll see.

The boys enjoyed "helping." Our neighbor, who has five grown sons and a daughter, was very sweet - he let Calvin crawl under the sink with him and hold the flashlight for him. He would say things like, "OK, good job. Now shine the flashlight on this part of the sink, not on my face. Good job. You're a great helper."

By the end of the night Cal was to pieces as they needed him more out of the way than helping, but finally it was finished and the boys went to bed and David and I snuggled in to watch a little TV to unwind before bed.

About forty-five minutes later, we heard a HUGE crack-bump-thump from upstairs. I was sure one of the boys had fallen from their bed, but it actually kinda surprised and spooked us for a second. No crying from the boys, but David headed upstairs to check it out.

He peeked into the boys room and there was Henry, sitting on the floor next to his bed. He wasn't crying, he wasn't hurt, he was just sittin there with his blanket around him.

David: Oh, Henry! Did you fall out of your bed?
Henry: (sad, tired little voice) Yeeaahh.
David: Are you OK?
Henry: Yeeaaah.
David: Want me to rock you a minute?
Henry: Yeeaahhh.

Henry laid down on David's shoulder and then back in bed and was sound asleep in a heartbeat. Never cried, even from being startled, and I'm pretty sure he fell quite hard. But it was like it never happened. His imperturbability sometimes surprises me even more than big thumps and bumps in the night.

P.S. At long last, my little camera is back in my hands. So I am on the lookout for visual bloggability and might be able to muster some enthusiasm again soon...


A Mother's Heart is Her Child's Classroom

Two weeks ago I started a little home pre-school with two friends from church (who have docile little girls the same age as Calvin). We have it twice a week and rotate weeks between each house. This was my week to teach and I decided that I like taking Cal to preschool but I don't really like teaching it. Which may bode ill for my ambitions in the homeschooling direction.

Except I bet for homeschooling I don't have to clean like a madwoman the night before just so the other moms are assured that their children won't catch a disease or stick to the floor when they come or so their three-year-olds will be impressed with my housekeeping abilities.

(Incidentally, my biggest stress last weekend leaving the boys with someone at home while D and I enjoyed a weekend away was cleaning the house top to bottom before the babysitter came. What is that?!? My house isn't that bad, really. And what does she care...she'll be too busy with my boys to notice the linen closet is in disarray. Just like I am on a daily basis. Right? But the cleaning must be done.)

Last night the cleaning didn't happen and I felt really embarrassed this morning.

And then I taught this week about our five senses. Today was touch, smell and taste. The part I was most excited about and thought the kids would enjoy the most (being the mom of tactile-driven boys) was the touching table - full of objects to touch and squish and smear and smooth, etc.

One of the little girls started crying and seriously shrunk away to the other side of the room, when I told them to touch the jell-o and see what it felt like. And she had to wipe the tiniest drop of shaving cream off her pointer finger immediately after very tentatively touching it.

Calvin said the shaving cream felt like a cloud. That's my boy. Willing to get a little messy and poetic at the same time.

What I do like about this preschool situation is seeing Cal in a little bit of a social mix. He is very solicitous and big-brotherish to the "guests" (they are younger, but one is not littler than him) and very anxious for them to be comfortable and welcome and to show them his toys and books. Sometimes (OK, a lot of times) he is overbearing, but it comes from a good place and I think as he grows a bit and starts noticing social cues (if boys ever do that - wink), it will tone down a bit.

Anyway, today his effort to show Amelia around was introducing her to one of his favorite books - a science story about the birth and first few days of a dolphin, how it's mom takes care of it, how they swim in pods, etc. During their bit of free play time, I heard Cal tell Amelia, "Come sit here, and we can read this book. And I'll show you the page where the shark comes out of the murky depths."

The completely blank look on the little girl's face as she followed him to the couch anyway combined with Calvin's earnestness were priceless.


Milestones and Pet Names

A couple weeks ago, we took the boys to the Baltimore Aquarium. If you are ever in the area, it is a must see - a wonderful aquarium. Go on Friday after 5 p.m. and three of you can get in for what it would cost one of you usually. And there's no crowd pushing you along or away from things you really want to see.

The aquarium trip is a milestone for two reasons:

First, the aquarium website said to leave the stroller and have the kids walk because there are escalators and moving walkways that make it harder to get around with strollers. Um, yeah. Not so sure about that. I just knew I'd lose Calvin only to look into the shark tank a mere twenty seconds later and see him swimming around with them. So...we bought leashes. And used them for the first time ever in our parenting career.

We found that they are not as bad as I thought they would be, but felt totally conspicuous the entire time that we used them. Especially when I was holding both and the boys ran in opposite directions around the pole dividing the ticket line. And once when Calvin ran in between two or three people to get a closer look into a tank and David lifted the leash over a lady's head to keep hold of it. I guess it would have been worse if he had reached around her, let go of the leash with one hand and grabbed it with the other, like we had to do to untangle from the pole earlier. We'd probably still be sorting out litigation over that.

At any rate, it was comedy. But my previous resistance to leashes was allayed when the first grandma we saw said, "Oh! Where did you get those adorable leashes! I need to get one for my granddaughter!" Granted, I would have felt much better if she would have complimented me on the adorable children attached to the leashes, but I'll take what I can get when I feel like a walking three-ring circus.

And second, it is quite fitting that the first time we officially treated our children like pets led to our brand-new status of an official pet-owning family. Fish. Four of them, in a nice little five gallon tank. Calvin is in heaven and invites everyone up to his room to see his fish. If he starts charging admission, I'll be really impressed.

I told him today that we need to name his fish. To which he responded, "I already named them. I thought of their names last night."

"Oh, yeah? What are their names?"

"Harry, Larry, Mary, Jerry and Gary."

Yes, I said there were only four fish, but Cal came up with five names, so one of them must have a middle name. Or something. I asked David if he had suggested these names, and he said he hasn't even mentioned naming the fish at all. So this all came out of Cal's head, and it makes me laugh so hard. We know a Mary, but no one by any of the other names. The rhyming thing just kills me. I asked Cal when he thought of these names and he said, "Last night when I was asleep."