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Here are some highlights of this year’s diverse, inclusive, monocultural lifetime games.  Get your ambassador of goodwill on!

First up, the long distance Meal Relay:  Before the advent of kids, Healthy Meals was ahead, until she lost points on Whole Paycheck debits and had to work during all the farmer’s markets.  Inexpensive Meals had a small lead, but lost on a taste technicality, giving a nod to Quick-n-Easy to Prepare Meals.  Pre-packaged foods in boxes and cans, frozen objects, plus breads and desserts to make up for taste led to loose-fitting, but hideous uniforms which again gave the advantage back to Healthy Meals, currently in the lead and mentoring Healthy Snacks.

The Job Race pits three tough competitors:  Part-time Hours, Excellent Pay and Passionate Work.  Up first is the brave Part-Time Hours, currently winning, but surprisingly still tired at the end of every lap.  Excellent Pay is a bitter runner up, and Passionate Work is still in the background, looking to gain advantage.  Her dad was the coach on this one, but then he had a wife to take care of the kids and house, so no advantage to this cheerful competitor.

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster in the Balanced Life competition, which has seen quite a few wipeouts and at least one bellyflop.   Clean House looked to set a new world record until a home renovation compound fracture knocked it out of the semi-finals.  The elimination of Stressful Job seemed to point towards a fairytale story for the Writing, Organized and Consulting Trio which unfortunately ended the races with a high five, left hanging.  Against overwhelming odds, Time for Self and Visiting Friends are inching ahead in the life race, despite rumors of increased use of performance-impairing substances.  And, like its state of origin,  Healthy Body is again languishing in last place.

They’ve just sacrificed so much for this moment, but Team R&J is still going for Allympic Gold in Raising Happy Kids.  Even the rain fails to dampen the kids’ spirits; they complain, ” we went to a parade in the rain.”  Although sometimes the wrong national anthem is played, these cheerful competitors are eager to request/demand appropriate alternatives.  Errors in parental choices are mentally replayed in slow motion, over and over again, but you have to give these parents credit for their emotional rollercoaster, pinnacle career altering, once in a lifetime, fairytale, remarkable, brave, ambassador of goodwill attitude.

There you have it folks and Congratulations to TEAM R&J, just kids from small towns in America.  We regret to report that the Closing Ceremonies for the Have It Allympics have been canceled due to poor time-management and upcoming episode of “True Blood.”

Catch ESPN2 at midnight for results on the Significant Other Races pitting co-parent, housekeeper, entertainer, lover, friend, and supporter for primary role.  Don’t miss the Family Get Together Facilitator competition for spectacular ideas, solitary achievements, but really low team coordination.


Jim and I worked out together just once.  We were desperate for some activity, after fluctuating from comatose to mute despair watching the hurricane Katrina coverage .  We went to the small gym in the corner stall of the strip mall of my hometown.   It was where I used to stand as a teenager by the dumpster waiting for the Greyhound bus to take me away to New Orleans.

As I gazed at him working way harder than me on the stationary bicycle, I had an epiphany that has stayed with me through dating and married life with my Gem.

I realized the exact degree of complication to simplicity that separates us.  Complisimplicity is what causes the majority of our disagreeable conversations (?), huffy morning silences, and a whole host of who the hell is this person thoughts.

6 to 1.

Jim needs 6 things for every 1 thing that I need.

The Workout 6:

1-head band, 2-knee brace, 3-water, 4-walkman, 5-croakies for glasses, 6-shoe insoles.

My workout requirement:  water.

That day, (and we all get extra leeway during that hellish period in 2005)  if he couldn’t find each and every item, he was damn well not going, which he told me a dozen times as he sifted through the rubble of our things that were piled in Mom and Dad’s playroom.  We lived there for 2 months after disastrously built levees flooded our city following Katrina.  We couldn’t find anything and were usually on edge.  So, to workout to workout we go….. once.

I began to apply the 6:1 to everything that drove me crazy.  It helped.  Followed by a little OCD torture.

The Salad 6.  Oh, how I have come to suffer the salad.  If it is missing an ingredient; out comes the accusative tense (they really have this in Russian), the stop and stare, the about to get up and add to the salad until he sees my face.

1-butter lettuce only, 2-shredded cheese, 3-nuts, 4-dried fruit, 5- my homemade salad dressing, 6-specific plastic container.

Speaking of Plastic containers

Plastic containers plus kitty

The Plastic Container 6

1 – Leftovers, but only at home and never in the microwave. Also the hallowed salad container

2 – Microwave leftovers, only at home (bottom)

3 – Store dried goods only (brown sugar here)

4 – Take leftovers to work (microwaving allowed)

5 – Holds water in the freezer so it operates more efficiently. (currently 6 in freezer)

6 – Only cup he likes to drink morning milk out of – I know I know; it doesn’t fit, but I have to make 6, so it works for me and my little justification world.

7 – Cute kitty Rio waiting to tip the cup over.

I survive with easy little tortures (yes Abram, we torture our men to stay sane).  After exclaiming about a delicious dinner and how great it would be to take to work for lunch tomorrow, I’ll casually reach for the wrong container category just to get a reaction out of him.  What can I say, I’m twisted and evil.

Guilt alert: 6 Great things Jim did lately

1.  Asked if he could get a potty reward since he used the same spoon twice during breakfast, instead of dirtying up 2 clean ones.

2.  Set me up for diapers ready to go to the preschool, to the car, and in the “changing table”.  I will never have to run to the grocery store at midnight for emergency supply.

3.   Trimmed the lower limbs on the trees in our back yard so I can run around without bashing my head and scratching my eyes while playing soccer monster.

4.  He dances with me in the laundry room and dances with my son in the kitchen.

5.  Refills my PJs coffee card without comment

6.  He hasn’t asked me to make the salad for dinner in a very very long time, and not just because we have kids now.


Six to one.  I can live with that!

My oldest son turned 4 years old today. His name is Arthur and I love him simply to pieces.

I love this laugh

Current nicknames: GPS, the Map, Infinity-Alphabet Man, Hoardy McHoardington, Chunky Monkey, Yummy Cheeks, Loveangelboy

Likes: new present new present, playing gymnastics class off the sofa, drinking bathwater, SuperWhy to the rescue, everything big (balshoy in Russian), playing air guitar, yogurt, being chased, reading everything, climbing everything

Dislikes: anything considered small, being the same age as Clifton for 2 weeks, cake, scary movies, clowns, Raggedy Ann dolls, gravity

First visit in Russia - I recognized him in the group immediately.

Another good profile shot in Moscow

First week at home, January 2011 - always a good reader

Mardi Gras 2011 - Mommy's so excited that he likes to costume!

Love this face!

Happy Happy Happy - as Art says. Easter Egg Hunt at the Big House

My youngest son turned 3 years old today. His name is Clifton, and I love him simply to pieces.

Razor sharp smile

Current nicknames: Glommy Bear, Troublemaker, Lokiface, Dr. Destructo, Cottontail, Sweetloveangelboy

Likes: whatever his brother is currently playing with or reading or eating, everything sweet, cereal bars (‘nack’), all cats (meow meow), tickling (‘gilly gilly’), nasal orifices, announcing emergency bathroom issues once fully buckled into the car seat

Dislikes: just sitting down and eating a meal, speaking in low volumes, wearing clothes, loss of skin to skin contact, any request not in the form of a game

The look

Day 1 – when we first met in Russia – September, 2010.

We call this “The Look.”

Wild ChildJanuary, 2011 – first week at our house.  Aptly labeled here.

Sweaty playground

A few months later and he’s an adorably sweaty playground urchin.

Silly cowboy

And a totally silly cowboy

sweet love

I love this photo as it shows his constant affection.

(ps – Don’t I look deliriously happy?)

Quantam of Solace

Early days – Mommy’s Wild Child …. sleeps.

Jim has been obsessed with getting the boys to try hot cereal.

Every kind of hot cereal.

Here’s what we’ve been serving this week.

Note the phrase  “Whole Grain” in the title.

And on the back of this package…  “Buckwheat is a fruit, not a grain…”   Did they have to put “whole grain” on the front just to get us granola stalinists (thanks Alan!) to make the purchase?

I don’t know what to say about this one.

The 7 grain is currently banned at our house.  I have to hide it in an undisclosed location, because Jim will seek it out anyway, despite the ban.

I hear it tastes really good, but here is what it looks like going in and coming out.  For two kids in diapers, it takes a whisk broom and a playskool chisel to get it off their butts.  So it’s banned until everyone is on their own, so to speak.

Here is the norm, and the only one I’ll cook in the morning, mostly because I love to hear the kids request their “Oat meow.”  They’re going to think I’m hard of hearing because I keep asking them to repeat themselves.  (Remind me to show you the video where I get them to ask for a “Popsicle” over and over again).

But there was one more experiment…

The great grain experiment  of 2011 ended right here.  Even the everyvore (aka dog we house, clothe and feed) turned up his big black nose at the bulgur!

Since the kids are home this week recovering from minor surgeries, we’ve watched more television than usual.  Make no mistake, no matter what I’ve spouted in the past, or whatever lies I’m telling to your face, my kids watch some television almost every day.

These shows are my favs and gags and have nothing to do with what the kids like for the most part.  They are spread among PBS, Disney Junior and Nick Jr. which are all commercial free.  Special shout out to Nick Jr. for the fabulous in between moments of song, dance and puzzle time!

Glue your little brain molecules to these:

  • Little Einsteins – perfection – the Sucre of kids shows. It features a great work of art and a classical piece of music in every episode. My kids are listening and liking Beethoven and Dvořák and getting exposed to Gustav Klimt!
  • Phineas and Ferb – in every science fiction movie, it all comes down to the evil character and this show has the best.  Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, the head of Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated wants to wreak havoc on the “tri-state area” and has great end of show explosion lines like, “I used to have goals.”  The references and details in this show are incredible, the songs are hilarious and it’s always fresh.  Like watching the Colbert Report and trying to keep up  mentally to get all the jokes.
  • Timmy Time – this was our first kids show discovery and I was so excited to see such quality.  From the Wallace and Gromit folks, this is extraordinarily cute and great for when my kids didn’t understand so much English as all the farm animals only grunt, squeak, meow or moo.  Some adult friends accidentally caught one of these and couldn’t pull themselves away.
  • Super Why – this is Art’s (3yo) favorite superhero, and what literacy-freak mom wouldn’t want to have a caped reading avenger for her child.  Superhero shoes, cape and goggles on the way
  • Wild Kratts – perfect blend of Wild Kingdom, Crocodile Hunter and Wonder Twin powers activate!

Sorry baby, the cable just went out:

  • Dora the Explorer – from my neice’s conversations about camping with me, I really thought I would like this – camping, espanol, girl power – what more could you ask for in a kids show? Unfortunately, it is beyond excruciating with the extra repetition and high-pitched scream-chants… ” Chocolate lake, troll bridge, cupcake mountain!! Chocolate lake, troll bridge, cupcake mountain!! Chocolate lake, troll bridge, cupcake mountain!!!” (I am not making this level up)
  • Agent Oso – I would have blown this ridiculous bear off long ago, but it’s the first show that Art and I communicated with while in Russia, and each episode has a knock off 007 title (Gold Feather, The Chairs are Not Enough, Quantum of Celery etc.). Plus Jim says he learns things like how to use chopsticks.
  • Jake and the Neverland Pirates – Captain Hook steals something, kids get it back, meaningless coin acquisition (like the points on Who’s Line is it Anyway), the end. New episode, repeat.
  • Jungle Junction – it’s a show that teaches kids about road signs.  Which I could tolerate except for the character of Zooter – her voice and teeth just freak me out.
  • Backyardigans – I got all kinds of flak for posting on fb how somnambulicious this little show is, but I don’t care.  Could they dance or sing any slower?
  • Wonderpets – they sing so long about how they’re going to save some animal that in most cases, that little bird would have slipped off the log and drowned long ago.  We do sing Teamwork off key and often to make each other laugh though.

ps – we caught a Barney and Friends and I didn’t hate it (except for the voice) sssshhhhhhh

Meet Bucky.

Named by his trigger-happy previous owner Buckshot; I pretend his name is short for Buckster, Buckbeak (Harry Potter fans?) or when the tennis shoes come out, Buckwild.

He would prefer to spend his days inside my mouth, but will settle for having his head permanently behind my kneecap, panting my calves into an early sweat.  He also loves to steal the Orbit gum from my purse. Quick and quiet, I often don’t even know until I turn around to kiss his big black nose and find the crime scene pictured here.

Although I have two kids now, Bucky is still the biggest baby in the family and will most likely be talked about here regularly.  Lovingly.  Laboradoringly.

My office got moved out of kid territory, which means out of dog hair territory too.  So, he’s not under my feet or wrestling with Rio the kitty as I write this.  Does anyone watch TV just to spend time with their dog?

Before I melt into slack-jawed, hazy-glazed, fetal position with dog on top, here’s a little mistake Bucky made on St. Joseph’s Day last year.  We had Indiana guests, and my purse was left in the pile of Abitas, paper towels, plastic trays and newspapers for the afternoon shrimp feast.  Bucky the intrepid reporter was tip-toeing around with my small green notebook in his mouth.  Most likely working on the afternoon scoop.