conuly: (Default)
The point of which was to guess a word the meaning of which was being doled out in one word clues. You try not to guess on the first clue.

So our team had decided on "boat" for our word, and to start off I said "orange", thinking of the Ferry, of course.

Cue the excited nieces, simultaneously:

An orange!

Sadly... no.

Incidentally, I'm pushing to get a tree this year. It seems like we never have one! I finally suggested that if a tree doesn't happen we can just paint Ana green and have her stand in the corner with her arms out. She's okay with this, but warned us that we may not see our presents again. Gulp.
conuly: (Default)
Jenn took a picture! I'll post it when she mails it to me.

Grape juice came out grayish, which the girls loved, so that's sorta a win. The house reeked.

Red onion skins and yellow onion skins came out in two different shades of deep brown, but Ana threw a tantrum as they boiled and I overdid the eggs.

Turmeric came out a gorgeous yellow.

Paprika came out a light orange brown.

Cabbage DID come out blue - after we took the eggs out. I kept wondering why they weren't blueing, apparently they needed to sit a bit.

Beets came out red, but we seem to have lost them? That's a bit worrying.

Spinach didn't come out. What can I do for green next year?

And we didn't do coffee or tea because I got bored.

I'd meant to do that fancy thing where you tie them up in pantyhose with grass and flowers to leave an imprint, but we didn't HAVE any used pantyhose and could only get them at exorbitant prices, so this year I'll keep an eye out for sales and stock up for the next few months.

Still, I didn't do anything as crazy as this. You have GOT to check that out!
conuly: (cucumber)
1. I don't actually like Jerusalem Artichokes. Blech.

2. Jerusalem Artichokes cause gastrointestinal distress in some people. Like me. Add that to sinus congestion (read: massive dizziness), two sick children, and the hiccups (seriously?) and it was a bit of a letdown for Thanksgiving. AND THEN ANA ATE ALL THE LAST OF THE ICE CREAM!

However, the actual dinner prep went well. Jennifer complained that it's hardly "special" when I routinely cook two or three sides per dinner, but the advantage of that is that I have it all down to an art by now, and am not panicking as I try to time everything correctly. (Plus, it means we get to have lots of vegetables at every meal. Veggies make it healthy!)

I also learned that Jenn liked my twice baked sweet potatoes much more than I did, but it wasn't very high quality blue cheese. (I should've warned her before her second one, though, that they're something like 500 calories each. Not that counting calories is what we all do, but you should know before you chow down on 1000 of them in one sitting, right?)
conuly: (cucumber)
Now she's 8! Yay! She does her homework without fighting, and lo it only takes about 10 minutes a day instead of ages and ages! (I kept telling her!) She takes out the garbage sometimes! She climbs on everything, but that's not new. (I've given that woman with the post about how climbing on things must be a "boy" thing too much headspace. Here we are after Ana's party, getting ready to go, and I watch six little girls flipping upside down on the bike racks, racing down the sidewalk, doing bridges and cartwheels on the sidewalk, and I don't know what that woman was smoking. Seriously.)

So, Ana's party was at Construction Kids. They learned how to effectively hammer, and they made little wooden cars for themselves. IT WAS AWESOME. Ana's cake (chocolate with raspberry jelly, same as every year) got a little squished, but I'd very sensibly decided to frost it AT THE PARTY, so that was all right. And we went out to eat afterwards, so that worked out as well.

Construction Kids is literally across the street from the train at Prospect Park. You can NOT miss it. I didn't realize the park was so close, I ought to go with the girls sometime in the summer, or on a half day. (Do we have any more of those this year? Yes, twice next month. LOLWTF? June 7th and 13th? Who decides this stuff?)

I grew up in Brooklyn. Well, I say that, we moved when I was ten, but you know what I mean. I entered the building Construction Kids is in and I was immediately struck with the thought that I'd been in that exact same building before. I doubt I have, but you know how it is, all the older buildings in an area will tend to be built to the same plan. In this case, the same wide staircase, tiled wall, big radiator in the entrance, and hexagon tiles on the floor.

Anyway, as I said, that's where we went for her party, they also offer a summer camp, and it was well worth it. (And a bonus, most party places have one size of party, 15 kids. This place has two, so if you only want 8 kids you only have to invite 8 kids and you get a discount.)

Also, Happy Birthday Ana! Eight is great!
conuly: Fuzzy picture of the Verrazano Bridge. Quote in Cursive Hebrew (bridge-hebrew dvora)
Happy Passover, everybody!
conuly: A picture of the bridge at night. Quote: "Spanned with a poem" (poem)
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember

"We are nearer to spring
Than we were in September!"
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Thank you, Oliver Herford.

And of course, those of you on the *other* side of the world, enjoy it - the quicker we move towards spring, you're moving the other way!
conuly: Picture of a young River Tam. Quote: Independent thought, independent lives, independent dreams (independent)
Because we suck, mostly.

But we did have it, and it was good, and everybody was happy.

Not long after St. Nicholas Day Evangeline came home and told me a story. She said "Today my teacher told us something that I know isn't true. She was just pretending. Mrs. Dulligan said she was home with her husband, I forgot his name, maybe Mr. Dulligan? Yeah, that's his name, they were home and she said she heard a noise outside, and she looked outside and she saw a reindeer! With a red nose! And I know she really didn't. I think she just said that so that the other kids who think Santa is real would think it was fun. That's silly! Reindeers ("Reindeer, sweetie, not reindeers") reindeer don't live here, and definitely not Rudolph."

Of course, if you don't remember previous years you might wonder about why we bother with St. Nicholas Day if the nieces Know About Santa, and that's because it's fun. The night they put out their shoes-with-celery we went to the store. And as we were there Ana said "Can we get some of that pomegranate juice? Mommy really likes it, and she'll be really surprised to find some in her shoe tomorrow."

That's magic, right there. You can keep your Santa is Real, and you can do whatever you like to maintain the lie illusion for yourself. If you want to make "snowy" footprints on your carpet or if you want to tromp around on the roof at night ringing bells, be my guest. (And please use all appropriate safety precautions, thanks.) I will take the simple magic of "Let's surprise Mommy by getting her something she likes" over that any day of the week.
conuly: Picture of a young River Tam. Quote: Independent thought, independent lives, independent dreams (independent)
But then I carelessly shut down my computer and forgot to save my tabs. I've been morose ever since :(

Anyway, here's something - would you like a chocolate cockroach for Christmas? (Well, it'd be sure to please everybody's favorite atheist god of evolution, we all know how he likes beetles!)
conuly: Good Omens quote: "Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous!" (armageddon)
I can barely keep track of all of these anymore.

Also, happy Hanukkah, and happy birthday Jenn :)
conuly: Picture of a young River Tam. Quote: Independent thought, independent lives, independent dreams (independent)
1. While the rest of us were all having a, uh, lively discussion (and let me just say that we didn't have any real fights at ALL and my mother didn't storm out even ONCE) Ana burst in to chastise us:

"I'm the only one trying to have a real Thanksgiving! You guys don't even care! It's about being thankful, not about everybody FIGHTING and YELLING at each other!"

Yes. I LOL'd.

2. Later in the evening, upset at being asked to do something, she went "I have to do EVERYthing around here, and I'm just the MAID, you don't do ANYthing!"

What was she asked to do? She was asked to get a cup of water. For herself. Because she'd said she was thirsty and nobody else felt like getting it for her.

I laughed for a good two minutes over that, much to her consternation.
conuly: Fuzzy picture of the Verrazano Bridge. Quote in Cursive Hebrew (bridge)
(Quite a lot of them have to do with the TSA situation, I'll try to group them together.)

Placards, kilts part of plans for scanner protests
Oversecured America
AP Exclusive: Color-coded terror alerts may end
Schneir on Security's recent update about it all
And an LJ link
An update from the ACLU saying the TSA isn't training its scanners
Why Cavity Bombs Would Make the TSA Irrelevant
TSA chief: Resisting scanners just means delays
For the First Time, the TSA Meets Resistance
TSA Chief: US Will Never Ease Screening Policy
You, apparently, can't just say "Screw it, I don't need to fly today"
Shirtless 8-Year-Old Boy Gets TSA Pat Down
A Pat's Papers article on flying dead bodies
And he happens to think the TSA blog is "actually sort of fun"

Whew! That's a lot!

Bizarre squidworm discovered

Behavior change causes changes in beliefs, not vice versa

On turkeys. Hey, could I raise my own heritage turkey for the holiday next year? You *can* keep poultry in the city if they aren't noisy. And we already have wild or feral turkeys in Staten Island, among other places.

On stuffing your turkey with White Castle burgers.

Coyotes have been released in Chicago to help keep down the rodent population. I suppose that's not very much different than encouraging peregrine* falcons in NYC.

*Peregrine means wandering, of course, and is related to the word pilgrim in the obvious way.

A fluffy little article on Yiddish.
And for that matter, you can check out a nifty language map to see where Yiddish is spoken in the US!

It's time to sign up for SantaThing. This also makes a good gift. However, I will get you nothing in return, so bear that in mind.

University Kicks Student With Down Syndrome Out Of Classroom; Other Students Protest And Are Ignored

On tattoos to improve/monitor your health

Our Disappearing Apples

On taxes

Some graphs on race and the death penalty

Obama, S. Korea leader agree to hold joint military exercise. If somebody manages to start the Korean war up again, I'll be very irked. I'm already irked, frankly, because I see the likelihood of this.

Allergic Teen Seeks High School Perfume Ban

Conservatives at odds with Vatican over condoms

Children Born 'Late Pre-Term' More Prone to Low IQ
Minnesota is using paperwork to deter induced labor

The use of braces for younger kids is increasing

And one from Motortrend.com that's... just well-worth reading for the fun of it.

And FINALLY (I think) one on a school which banned... wait for it... wait for it...





PENCILS!
conuly: Dr. Horrible quote: All the birds are singing, you're gonna die : ) (birds)
She's supposed to research the first Thanksgiving and write two pages on it. Internet research is OK, in fact, they gave her three sites to start from. They misspelled "Plymouth", btw. There's no "i" in it, no matter what you think. (In fact, they may have put it down as "Plimoth", but I can't check.)

Naturally, I'm a little... doubtful about the... well, about the perspective and the accuracy of the information. And, secure in the knowledge that the teachers will (probably) not read what is handed in (seriously, would *you* want to read 23 homework assignments? I'd just check that they filled out two pages and give it a sticker), I'd like to, well, be a little better. No reason to teach the nieces lies! (Unlike that stupid, stupid, STUPID syllable work Ana's doing. No, sweetie, I don't care *what* your teacher told you, in English we don't typically end syllables on a consonant unless not doing so would force us to start the next consonant with an illegal cluster. No, it has nothing to do with whether or not the vowel is short. But, you know, slightly more important than that.)

So! Who has a better website to direct me to, one that has a more accurate and complete picture up?

(Actually, what really upset me about the syllable homework is that it's all busywork. Giving children a list of 40 words and telling them to mark them up is one thing, but when each word is marked in the exact same way I can't figure out what, if anything, they're supposed to be learning.)
conuly: Dr. Horrible quote: All the birds are singing, you're gonna die : ) (birds)
We had a pretty uninspiring haul this year - mostly because I cut trick-or-treating short so Evangeline could do her Star Student poster. Even so, though, it's all sucky candy! (On the other hand, we finally got boo'd this morning. Twice, in fact. Here I'd pretty much given up hope of anybody reciprocating, and instead we get outshone! I know exactly who did it, of course. Theoretically this is all a "you don't know who got you!" sorta thing, but in actuality I've taken to going up to people and warning them in advance. In extreme cases, I actually hand off the bags directly to the parent outside of school! (The one day I tried this whole "secret drop" thing with extra supplies I got caught every single time. It's amazing that anybody at all will listen to you when you're prowling around their porch, waving your arm, and screaming "NO! GO AWAY!" in a whisper.) Well, so long as the children are taken in, that's what matters, right?)

But you know, it was an early day for everybody! I know it's a weekend, but coming around at 3pm? Everybody off the streets by 7? We ran out of glow-sticks. I wasn't giving out candy this year, so I estimated we'd need somewhere around 110 of the things based upon historical trends. I got 150 because they're in packs of 50, and we ran out. (Well, we had ten left when I went inside. I just left them on the bottom step of the porch and assumed anybody coming along could figure it out for themselves.)

I saw somebody I knew from middle school*, who asked me "you still read a book a week?" Please. Vile calumny! I never read a book a week! I read a book a day, and I did back then too!

*In and of itself, nothing remarkable. This happens to me just about every time I drop by the supermarket. Nobody ever leaves this neighborhood. Except this guy, who did leave, went all the way to Virginia, and apparently decided that the thing to do was bring his kids back specifically to trick-or-treat in the Land of the Stairs.
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
One on tubeless toilet paper

One on sending leftover Halloween candy to the troops. Of course, it seems odd to Support Our Troops by giving them cavities, but I suppose they get free dental, don't they?

And finally - what percentage of people are making more than $250k a year?
conuly: Good Omens quote: "Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous!" (armageddon)
This has been linked around a bit today.

We observed Columbus Day by finishing Ana's homework (her teacher doesn't know it's late because I simultaneously forgot about it and, in a bid to be helpful, tossed the wrong folders into the bags. D'oh! This is why they're supposed to pack their OWN bags!) where she's supposed to fill out "The five W's" on a book - WHAT happens, WHO is there, WHY does it happen, WHERE and WHEN does it happen? This is so not the right order, but that pales compared to the fact that she's supposed to write in little boxes that don't have lines to write on. She needs the lines still!

At any rate, the book Ana picked actually happened to be A Coyote Columbus Story, which... *giggles*

It's a pretty good book.

Articles!

Aug. 13th, 2010 11:50 am
conuly: (Default)
(Wow, it's like all I ever do anymore!)

So Pretzel Crisps has changed their icky ads to... MORE icky ads. This is a pity, because their pretzels actually taste pretty good.

Here's some information on actual shelf life (compared to use-by dates)

One on the media and 11 year old girls using the pill (most likely for medical reasons)

Another editorial on the NOT-A-MOSQUE that would NOT be at the WTC site. (Also, an interesting version of the twenty zillion words for snow myth.)

On using superheroes to teach philosophy

Apparently, orangutans will mime to communicate. Cool!

And here's aNOTHER editorial on the non-mosque. One of the comments goes "Why here, when there isn't a big Muslim population here?" Well, I don't know if many Muslims live in Lower Manhattan, but a lot of them work there. I have another article coming for a later post about two mosques in the area that have to regularly turn away worshippers due to lack of room. That kinda indicates to me that they need a new place to pray.

Apparently, you're legally required to have tons of bright lights and signage in Times Square. (Even the cops and the train station have neon lights.) I had no idea!

"What stimulus could mean if it included the formerly incarcerated"

On an article about prisons and voter representation. Fascinating and disturbing.

And finally, on the proposal to close schools in NYC for Muslim holidays. (Of course, IF we were to do this, we wouldn't have to cut school days. We could start the year earlier, or end it later. Or we could increase school HOURS somewhat to make up the lost instructional time. It needn't be in small increments, it could be one half-hour a week or something. There are so many options.)
conuly: Picture of a young River Tam. Quote: Independent thought, independent lives, independent dreams (independent)
If this is not your holiday, you can still be happy! Be happy every day this week for all I care : )

And wherever you are, take a moment to be kind to your web-footed friends, thanks. Man, that song used to confuse me so much. Here you are, watching TV, and a commercial comes on about a mattress or car sale (what patriotic holidays have to do with selling mattresses or cars, I don't know, but let's move on now) and in the background... Be Kind To Your Web-Footed Friends! It took me a L O N G time to figure out why they did that.
conuly: Picture of a dandelion fluffball. Quote: "What is harmless about a dreamer?" (dreamer)
The mulberries are falling off the trees faster than we or the birds can eat 'em, the honeysuckle is blooming, and we've been meandering through the neighborhood on our way home every day stuffing ourselves silly with BOTH of them!

Funny thing about Ana. Last year she was very concerned and made me get Official Permission to pick mulberries, a silliness I obliged because she did have a point (not that anybody, ever, cares if you pick mulberries hanging outside their own yard), but neither she nor her sister has every been even remotely concerned that we just pick honeysuckle willy-nilly to munch on. I guess they think honeysuckles are kinda like dandelions? (Fact: They are. I actually know these neighbors personally and most of them are under the impression that "someday" they'll do something with their yards. In the meantime, they're not doing anything with it and don't care about the honeysuckle growing rampant. Nasty, invasive pest that it is. But it sure is yummy!)

Tomorrow I'll make the trip out to the raspberry patch I know of, see if those are ripe. If so, I'll pick some and bring them home. A lot cheaper than buying.
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
MY FINGERS ARE ALL BLUE! And today we (me) hid them and the nieces found them. I wrote down a list, just in case, but we didn't need it, they found all the eggs. (Good, because I can't figure out one of the locations on my list!)

Listening to them scream in delight every time they found an egg? I love it! (And Ana doesn't even LIKE eggs, but she loved finding them!) This time of year, I think Easter is my favorite holiday.

After we found the eggs (at one point, while digging through the toys, Evangeline accidentally tossed an egg to the floor. When she picked it up she stared at it in befuddlement. "WHY IS THIS ALL CRACKED???" Gee, I don't know, because you threw it on the floor?), I told them to take their favorite eggs down and show Nanen and Bonne-Maman.

Evangeline: Connie? Can I eat one of the eggs I don't like that much?
Me: Yes?
Evangeline: Okay, thanks.
Me: But GO DOWNSTAIRS FIRST, your mom and I are talking!

*a few minutes later*

Jenn: Guys, go downstairs!
Evangeline: But you said I could have an egg!
Us: Later!
Evangeline: But then WHY is Ana already peeling it?
Me: Ana? That's for later.
Ana: It is?
Jenn: Yes.
Ana: Well, it's a little late for that now, isn't it?

I love my nieces, I really really do.
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
We have a lone crocus in our yard. We did eventually decide to go with a ramp, and all our yard got torn up, but we now have a crocus. Which is really weird, because I don't recall ever *having* crocuses in our yard before at all....

Our chamomile is also rebounding (as are our terrible weeds...) and two little lettuce plants coming up from the dirt. But mostly we're starting from scratch. Again. I look forward to the chance to agitate for putting in fruit trees.

Ana was the one who noticed the crocus, and I reminded her that it's the first flower of spring.

This got me thinking. A few weeks ago, out of boredom, I looked up "Katniss" to see if it was a real plant, and lo and behold it is. Katniss is a Native American name for it, though. The common English name is "Arrowhead". Meaningful! And then I remembered that Primrose indicates "first love", which didn't make sense at all, but I looked up primroses and found out that they are, in many areas, one of the first flowers of spring. (Not so much here, they're not native to the US.) So it is vaguely meaningful for a kid who was destined (sorta) to be called to kill and die at the earliest opportunity. (Except that didn't actually happen, as a matter of fact, but it could have.)

That the crocus is the first flower of spring (that and forsythia, which is popular enough) is something so ingrained in my thoughts that I can say it without thinking. But now, I remember a book that had a character say that it's spring when you can step on a daisy, and now primroses can be a first flower of spring, and in some areas the robin is the first *bird* of spring, but if I've seen one I don't know it.

So what IS the first sign of spring where you're from? Is it a plant or flower? Is it a change in the weather - getting warmer, raining more? Is it an animal, robins or... I don't know, some migratory critter? Is it seeing children bringing home lion and lamb crafts from preschool and kindergarten and the first grade (in much the same way that they bring home snowflakes in December and hand turkeys in November, yes)? Is it people dressing in brighter colors or lighter clothes? How do you know spring has sprung?
conuly: (can't)
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Useless question. I try to explain this every year, and every year not enough people hear me, clearly.

The Groundhog Day tradition runs like this:

IF he sees his shadow, it's six more weeks of winter. IF he does NOT see his shadow, it's six more weeks until spring. The first is supposed to mean "long winter" and the second "long spring", but anybody with any sort of mathematical ability whatsoever should be able to tell you that the two statements - six weeks until spring, six weeks of winter - add up to the same thing. This is what I like to call a joke, except that some people don't understand that and take it all too seriously. And even when they don't (because really, that's absurd) they still do in that they think that the holiday theoretically means something when really it doesn't.

Now, as it happens, we celebrate today because it's halfway between the winter solstice (Midwinter) and the spring equinox. We have six weeks on either side. This is something no groundhog can change - in six weeks, we'll all be talking about how we can balance eggs on their ends but only on the equinox, an equally silly statement.

So go! Tell your friends!
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
I put the nieces to bed by 8:30 - Jenn and 'dul are out partying.

At 11:00 they came downstairs saying they couldn't sleep. I spent 20 minutes putting them back to sleep before thinking the following:

1. This is ridiculous
2. It's almost midnight
3. I can not beLIEve how hard it is to make them sleep!
4. You know, their parents will want to sleep late tomorrow
5. Might as well let them stay up another half hour to see the ball drop

So I dragged them downstairs to my grandmother's TV, and we watched Word World until 11:57, when we watched the ball drop. I dragged them out to the porch to bang pots and pans half-heartedly (might as well do this right, right?) and then brought them back to bed.

And spent the next hour and ten minutes of my life trying to make them sleep. D'oh! I guess you could say that I really dropped the ball when it came to bedtime! (Yes, yes, I have been trying to make that joke several times all day.)

It was fun watching them be excited about the new year. Me, I found it much more interesting back when I didn't routinely stay up past midnight.... Of course, that's always the way, isn't it? When you're a child, you promise yourself that when you're a grown up you'll stay up late just because you want to and you'll buy those temporary tattoos and tubs of "slime" and choking-sized jawbreakers at the supermarket every day or even more often with your own money, and you'll eat cake whenever you please.

And then you grow up, and you can do all these things, and - cruel trick of time! - you find out that you just don't care anymore and you were a fool as a child to spurn naps in favor of being "grown up". Oh, it's disheartening to be a grown-up sometimes.
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
So, now, my mother actively dislikes holidays. Oh, she won't ever admit to it, but you can tell because she becomes a raging bitch as the holiday approaches. Used to really upset me until I figured it out, and Jenn still doesn't always seem to get it, she'll argue with my mother about it. (The bookcases, this year. The damn bookcases. It would have been better to get them and put them up without telling my mother, but now that we've told her, does Jennifer *have* to bring it up on Christmas Eve? I spent two hours making sure my mother stayed calm so she didn't do anything rash like start trying to lug boxes of books up and throw them into the street or burn them or whatever because "she doesn't want bookcases". She's gonna have to suck it up and deal, we NEED bookcases, but surely we could wait to move on this until after Little Christmas, or at least New Year!) Mother's Day, Christmas Day, Arbor Day - she doesn't care, she doesn't like it. They make her cranky and irritable and bitchy, and when she's in a bad mood she's not happy until we're ALL in a bad mood, so that's no fun.

So Christmas Eve I spent wrapping up the presents my mother had bought ("Don't bother! Throw them out! I'm not DOING Christmas, I know I'm not welcome, I'll just go to Connecticut!") for her, and making sure we saved enough food from dinner for her (I told Jenn she'd be back halfway through dinner after she stormed out, just so she could stand around and complain that we didn't save enough and hadn't set a place for her, and sure enough that's exactly what she did, while - in a neat trick! - also whining that she wasn't really hungry and she might as well go starve) and convincing her that throwing out books was a VERY bad idea because there was certainly not going to be any pickup on Christmas Day, even if Thursday is garbage night.

Fun.

And of course, on Christmas itself, it was "Gosh, I can't give gifts, they're not wrapped". Uh, no, Mommy, I did that for you. Remember, back when you were bitching and moaning that you weren't gonna do Christmas? Aren't you glad I ignored you?
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
Here's one thing you have to understand about my family: My mother? Hates holidays. And my sister, whatever she says, tends to be somewhat apathetic about them. I myself love holidays, but it's hard to do much when I'm the only one who really wants to. Every year I say that if I didn't push the whole family to put up decorations and do things, nothing would ever get done, and every year they apathetically argue with me.

So listen.

This year, around Thanksgiving, I mentioned that I felt we really should put up a tree. You know, for the girls. And Jenn was all "Oh, no, it's a lot of work, and where would we put it, and we have a lot of other stuff to do", so I said fine. First week of December, around my sister's birthday, I said that I really wanted a tree, and maybe some decorations. "Oh, you know, we don't really have the money and we have a lot of work to do preparing for Bonne-Maman and it's not that big a deal". Fine. Second week of December, I pointed out that if we were going to decorate at all we have to move on this NOW. "Oh, you know, it's expensive, and who's going to put it up, and it's a lot of work, and it's really not that big a deal". Sure, whatever. Week before Christmas, I pointed out that we'd yet to do any sort of acknowledgement of the holiday, and since it appeared we had just enough money to get the girls some real presents instead of just boots and undershirts it'd be nice to put something up. (We had legitimately worried we wouldn't be able to swing gifts this year, and when we found out we could we bought for the kids first, all of us, so I actually ended up - no joke! - with nothing wrapped for ME for this holiday. But I'll get to that.) "Oh, you know, it doesn't really matter, and where would we put it, and we've been working hard for Bonne-Maman and all...." Now, I knew better, but I dropped it.

The day before Christmas, Jenn comes to me in a panic and goes "We didn't put up a tree! We have to put up a tree! Why don't we have a tree????" *headdesk*

And now, in the future, when my sister or my mother complains that I nag them to put up decorations, I'll point to this year. If I don't make them do it, it doesn't get done.

My father used to get very into the holidays as well, I guess I take after him. Every holiday is my FAVORITE if it's the one coming up :) Not the year after he died (when we all went through the motions), but the one after that, I put up the tree and decorated by myself. At the age of 11. Saddest thing ever and the tree stayed up until June. But it's not that my family didn't do it because of Daddy being dead, they just aren't as into it as I am, even then.
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
And also to practice identifying triangles and words that start with the letter S, of course. She was very excited to tell me it's a "Dooiss" star, and I corrected her with the phrase "Star of David" - yes, Ana, David like David in your class, but not exactly.

It's interesting how these things stick with you. She swung her star a bit, Evangeline, and said "Hanukkah, Hanukkah", so I pulled her on my lap on the rocking chair and sang "Oh Hanukkah" with her, which we sang *every* year during winter when I was in Brooklyn. (We had more Jewish students in my class than I think either Ana or Evangeline does now, so it made more sense, but whatever.) And when we moved to Staten Island, the schools here didn't do that, they had other songs they did. So it's been a good 16, 17 years since I've sung or heard this song - but I was still word perfect.

Clicky!

Of course, when Evangeline was a baby I used to entertain myself by going "Oh, baby, baby, baby, I made her out of clay, and when I'm good and ready, with baby I shall play", which... didn't make sense even then, but it's a catchy melody to be sure. When I was a kid, they'd hand out these little plastic dreidles for us at the Holiday Party (or around Hanukkah if it was very early in the month, and then our party would be at the end of the month), and those chocolate coins, gelt. And now they sell those chocolate coins with Santa on them, presumably for Christmas, which just strikes me as either the ultimate in cross-cultural sharing or WRONG WRONG WRONG VERY WRONG. Not sure which.
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
We're the most lucky people in existence. No terrible twos, and her therrible threes consisted of occasionally getting out of naptime before I came to fetch her, and then hopping back into her hammock with a doll. Seriously. I'm even looking forward to four! (Sorta. I don't want her to grow up!)

The other day, I asked her to get her PJs from off the box holding the bookcase in the hallway. And she told me she couldn't and she told me she couldn't, and finally she went up to it to DEMONSTRATE that she couldn't. "SEE?" she said, raising her arm above her head, "I can't... oh! I can reach! I didn't know I could reach up here!"
conuly: image of Elisa Mazda (Gargoyles) - "Watcher of the City" (watcher of the city)
One on adding two Muslim holidays to the school calendar.

I understand the reasoning that you can't reasonably add EVERY possible holiday to the calendar, but it occurs to me that they get off all of July and August, plus part of June and September. They don't *actually* have to be off until the Tuesday after Labor Day, they really can start school the Thursday before if necessary to fit these extra holidays in.


Read more... )

An article on laws requiring electronics companies to safely dispose of electronics

Read more... )

An article on how some societies have children who don't crawl. They're calling this research *new*, but as I've been referring people to these *very same studies* for years I wonder how new it can be.
conuly: (Default)
I've read some complaints online about the "trend" of "Americans" (it always seems to be Brits making this complaint, and some cranky old people with no kids or grandkids) making a "big deal" out of things that "aren't a big deal" and how "graduating from kindergarten doesn't count" and it's stupid.

Let me make this clear, to anybody confused by the phenomenon. Kindergarten graduations (this one was technically referred to as a "stepping up" ceremony) do commemorate something important - your kid is entering Real School for the very first time. However, that's not why we have them. We have them because, damnit, this is just about their last cute year, and there's nothing more adorable than dressing little kiddies up in grown-up outfits, in this case gowns and mortarboards!

It's not much different than taking pictures of bunnies with pancakes on their heads, except that you get to pretend it's srs bzness when we all know it's not. They came in, they sang three different songs (the last one had a whole dance routine and was just beyond awesome), they pretended their diplomas were telescopes, and then we ate cookies and juice and cadged photo ops off of everybody.

Though I do think making us sit an hour and a half so they could fit in two different renditions of Pomp and Circumstance was a bit much.
conuly: (Default)
Go Ana!

She's a hero. Today, as she was doing her homework on the porch, our neighbor came over and asked for her help. Her basement tenant had locked himself out, and his windows are tiny. So Ana climbed through, yes, we said, you can step on the bed! and she fetched his keys - and tried to bring them to us, prompting calls of "Just open the door!", which she did, and she SAVED THE WHOLE CREW! Hooray! What a day, when the babies key ran away.

I loathe goody bags, so we did a grab bag first (which the kidlets had apparently never done, though they were de riguer for christmas parties when I was a kid - but maybe it's a Brooklyn thing?) and we also gave some presents For The Whole Class: A set of lacing letters, two sets of alphabet stamps and a stamp pad, a dolphin stamp (because the school animal is the dolphin), several sets of letter stickers, a M&D birthday cake, and some construction paper. And two birthday-themed books. And, incidentally, some snacks, bowls, and cups that we didn't use for Ana's party. Some of them came with those special "box tops for education" on them, so win! Best part is that I can just repeat this present for Evangeline's pre-k and kindergarten birthdays. Go me! No idea what I'll do for Ana for the first grade, though - definitely some books (anybody want to suggest picture books of a more advanced level that talk about birthdays or feature birthdays prominently? Or chapter books suitable for a first grade library?), maybe a few games...? First grade is different. More craft supplies, for sure. (Which reminds me, I want to get some lefty scissors for the school, you know my feelings on that. I need to ask what teachers, aside from grade teachers, use scissors. Like, does the science teacher? The literacy teacher? Are they going to have an art teacher next year?)

To round out my stories, Evangeline was in her own personal horror film recently. She was wearing her clicky-clacky shoes (Ana is the language innovator, "clicky-clackies" for "plastic pretend dress-up shoes" is a term she invented. Evangeline picked speech up much faster, but Ana played with it more. This is an area of degree, of course) when I decided to be a tickle monster. I started to run towards her, but she cried in (mock) horror "I can't run in my c'icky-c'ackies!". I swiftly shifted to the lurching kind of tickle monster and she escaped in safety, closing a door in my face. Tickle monsters, like vampires, can't go where they're not invited, you know.
conuly: (Default)
I actually used this same recipe for cupcakes yesterday for Ana's in-class party, but they weren't as divine. *shrugs*

Here's what I did:

1. I used the recipe from the back of a Hershey's cocoa box, except I used cake flour instead of all purpose, and I used half raw sugar, half white. Oh, and of course we used goat milk.

2. I took my two cakes and, once they'd cooled, pasted them together with a jar of raspberry jam (all fruit).

3. I made a frosting with margarine, vegan margarine, and goat butter combined with scrapings from vanilla beans, some extract (scraping beans SO wasn't worth it), cocoa powder, and powdered sugar. Query: Can one get powdered raw sugar?

4. I frosted and refrosted my cake. In the past, I've had a problem with dryness, so I wasn't sparing with the frosting. Lemme tell you, this cake was anything but dry. Rich, moist - mmm! But the frosting was yummy alone anyway.

5. Now, I have the same problem with frosting cakes as I do with wrapping presents - for whatever reason, it tends to come out a bit sloppy. (I must remember to start chilling my frosting before putting it on the cake.) However, with a little creativity you can hide this. With presents, I add strategically placed bows, cards, and little goodies (everything from candy to scrunchies to nail polish, preferably something that coordinates with the present inside). For the cake, I decided to just smooth out the top and add raspberries. I would've put more on than I did, but Evangeline stepped on them :( (I have one rule, one rule regarding bags - DON'T STEP ON THEM. That's the rule the kids always break, naturally.) So I just spaced them around the edge and in the approximate middle, and filled in the rest of the space with grated chocolate. Not very *much* grated chocolate, as it's definitely not the candy that melts in my mouth. (Note to self: Next time? Freeze the chocolate first.)

6. We stuck in trick candles (ha!) and dug in. Mmmmmmmmmmmm! This was the bestest cake ever, bar none. If I'm gonna keep making cakes (and I can't, it'll kill our health, seriously) I'm gonna need to get a cake stand so I can frost them better. Hm. And some friends to eat them. Anybody up to come over for free cake next time I bake?
conuly: (phoenix ezzicons/xiggy)
We dyed eggs with Deniz and Su today, who have both shot up since the last time I measured them against the wall.

Ana made me nearly die laughing as she played hide and seek. Looking RIGHT AT Evangeline sitting at the table and declaring "I wonder where Eva is! I wish I could find her!", and, when I ran to pick her up, screaming "AH, it must be a crazy robot thing!"

Jenn wants to use natural dyes next year. Which is *awesome* if she gets it all together.

Paas makes more Easter egg kits than I would ever have imagined possible. Wow. Of course, for all that I buy special kits every year the fact is that they never are as good as just dying the eggs plain. The glitter makes them hard to crack, the foil stuck all over my fingers, the stickers fall off, the speckles run, the tie-dye ends up muddy...!

Deniz and Su have gone home with their dozen eggs, and we have four dozen eggs to hide... whenever. Kidlets are going to see their grandma for Easter, which really is the sort of thing one ought to know before making plans.
conuly: (Default)
Ana made me nearly die laughing as she played hide and seek. Looking RIGHT AT Evangeline sitting at the table and declaring "I wonder where Eva is! I wish I could find her!", and, when I ran to pick her up, screaming "AH, it must be a crazy robot thing!"

Jenn wants to use natural dyes next year. Which is *awesome* if she gets it all together.

Paas makes more Easter egg kits than I would ever have imagined possible. Wow. Of course, for all that I buy special kits every year the fact is that they never are as good as just dying the eggs plain. The glitter makes them hard to crack, the foil stuck all over my fingers, the stickers fall off, the speckles run, the tie-dye ends up muddy...!

Deniz and Su have gone home with their dozen eggs, and we have four dozen eggs to hide... whenever. Kidlets are going to see their grandma for Easter, which really is the sort of thing one ought to know before making plans.
conuly: (Default)
It is also the first day of Ana's vacation, and it was BEAUTIFUL out, so we headed straight out to the playground. Ana was in a grumpy mood ALL day, but she did make an effort to pull herself together and behave despite that, and I'm really proud of her. It's hard, and she's just little still. (Apparently she had a bad dream last night about somebody breaking into our house. She mentioned at dinner that she keeps thinking of it, which might explain her dream. I had the same theme in my dream, and they're probably both triggered by the fact that one of our neighbors *did* have her house broken into a week ago!)

Going into the city )

The playground! )

So yeah, that was our day. On the way home my knee crapped out on me, which was weird. My ankle does that often enough, and I should get that checked, but my knee? Held it together enough to get groceries to make pasta, salad, and green beans for dinner. Mmm. Stuck the tomato paste in the freezer - if it keeps, I'll make chili next week.
conuly: (Default)
That's the holiday where you celebrate by going out and getting stinking drunk, right? While making lots of noise? And dressing up in costumes?

Man. Jewish holidays have got to be the best.

(Although Holi is, what, tomorrow? Throw colored powder and water at each other. That might just be better than Purim... okay, fine, I just think everybody has cooler holidays than I do. You all have that greener grass, and I want it!)

Oh, and all of you in the midst of Lent, good luck with that. You have my support, though I'm sure you're managing. That covers almost everybody, now, right?
conuly: (Default)
The instructions - they're so much longer than they need to be! )

My wishlist... not following the structure precisely )

If you tell me your wishlist, or even just post a few requests in comments, I'll link to it here if you like.

BTW, if you're actually going to get me something? You really don't have to, but email me at conuly AT yahoo and I'll send you my address.
conuly: (Default)
(Shucks, I don't like it much any time of year, catchy tune notwithstanding!)

Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer

I don't know what message you're *supposed* to get from that song (well, I have a pretty good idea...), but it's probably not any of the logical ones. Like...

1. There's no use going to the authorities when you're being picked on because they won't protect you until and unless they need you for something.

or

2. Your friends (if you can call them that) are only your friends because you're useful, not because they like you.

or

3. It's okay to bully people who are different because you'll make them be so desperate for a little common civility that they'll fall all over themselves to help you at the drop of a hat.

or

4. You should probably not bully people with useful skills. It'd be okay to pick on Rudolph if he smelled bad or something, though, because that's not helpful at all.

or

5. You can pick on people all you want, and nobody is ever gonna call you on it.

Real nice message there. And c'mon. All that talk of "Rudolph going down in history", you don't any of you think that meant they actually wanted to play with him, right? Nah, they teased him a little less for a while, then they went back to their old ways until next November when it occurred to them that they might want to be on his good side next month.

This is the same message found in many classic children's books as well. I'm thinking of Hooway for Wodney Wat, which includes the message "It's definitely okay to bully somebody so much that she cries and runs away, just so long as she "deserves it" because, well, she started it!!!!" (And where do you think Wodney learned to be such an effective tormentor? Not from his books, that's for sure. Did he think that when he learned to say his R's properly the other children would magically become friends with him?)

I had that book for a while, then donated it away because I just didn't like reading it.

So I'm very pleased to have found the Tacky the Penguin series of books. On the surface, they have the same message - everybody's similar except Tacky, and he saves the day and is hugged all around because he's just So Different. Except... the other penguins don't bully him. They clearly don't understand him, but they let him do what he wants without harassment. And in the one I just picked up for the nieces, where Tacky ends up in Africa for a while? It's shown that when he was gone the other penguins genuinely missed him for no other reason than that they liked having him around. So you get the intended message of "it's okay to be different" and "we all need a little diversity" without all the crap in the other books.

I really recommend these. I mean, I really do. They're good books, and a lot of fun, too.
conuly: (Default)
There's a recent kerfuffle about it, you know. Some (Native American) woman out in CA is upset that her son's kindergarten dressed up in Pilgrim and Indian costumes for the holiday. She says they're inaccurate and offensive. (And they're no more accurate for the Pilgrims than for the Native Americans, let me just note.)

Cue the responses: Oh, PC has gone too far! Oh, whatever happened to teaching children history? Oh, she just wants to ruin children's fun!

Now, the first just annoys me, because what people call "PC going too far" is what I like to call "good manners" - don't do things that you know upset people unless you have a good reason for it. (What constitutes a good reason is something I'm sure you'll enjoy figuring out for yourself.)

It's very funny when you consider people going "PC! TOO FAR!" are often the same people decrying the lack of manners and morals in today's youth. I don't know about you, but I always thought manners and morals started at home. How mannerly and moral is it to teach your children that it's okay to do and say offensive things just because you've always done it?

As far as history goes, I'm all for it. I agree, we should teach children history. Teach them accurate history. And, as much as possible, get rid of textbooks and work from first-hand accounts. That's not happening here, though. The "history" being taught is simply stories. Why teach children fictions that they'll simply have to unlearn later? (And for that matter, why does it matter to teach children the history behind Thanksgiving? Isn't it more important to teach them why we celebrate it now? To talk to them about feeling thankful and appreciating what they have? About sharing with others and helping people with less? Why do we have to bring the past into it at all at that age? Focus on the important things first, then do the history when they're old enough to get the unexpurgated version.)

And the last, "ruining children's fun", that one just pisses me off. (Especially when phrased, as one lovely person put it, as "the needs of the few trampling on the needs of the many". Since when is "dressing up" - no matter how inoffensive the costume - a need of children? It's pleasant, but surely they don't need it? (Surely they can do it on their own time?) Of course, this person went on to say that the NA woman should "go back where she came from", so I'm not entirely sure he got the point.)

As I see it, children won't have their fun ruined if they don't realize they're supposed to be having fun. If you spend the day before Thanksgiving telling stories about what other people you love do for you (and what you do for them), if you make handprint turkeys, if you make pumpkin pudding or popcorn in class? The kids won't realize they're "missing out". In fact, they won't be missing out. They'll be having just as much fun *without* being inaccurate and potentially racist.

But that would require changing instead of whining, I guess.

D'oh!

Nov. 26th, 2008 11:02 pm
conuly: (Default)
Took a look at the SICM calendar.

Every Friday this month and next they're making holiday foods. (We can't make that anymore. I iz sad.)

They're making Christmas foods, and Hannukah foods, and Kwanzaa foods, and New Year's foods. They're missing a golden opportunity to make Diwali foods, but that's all right - they're making Eid foods! Yay! Multicultural!

Except... wasn't Eid, like, a few months ago? Not in the middle of December, as their calendar would suggest?

Why yes, yes it was!

It's like being back in the fifth grade and taking our multi-cultural weekly class and being told that Ramadan coincides every year with Christmas. Given that I'd just that month met a Muslim woman and had a long cheerful talk with her about the Muslim calendar I was *not* happy to be "corrected" for correcting the teacher. I'm still not happy - she shouldn't teach things she knows nothing about. But she at least had the excuse of not having Google and dealing with a smaller/less visible Muslim population than we have in NYC today.
conuly: (Default)
Great! Adopt a couple of turkeys for the holidays! Just remember - turkeys are for life, not just for Thanskgiving.

Of course, given that these turkeys are probably overbred commercial breeds that, among other things, can't make their own babies, they'll probably die in short order anyway. They grow too fast, isn't that it? Honestly, the state of the turkey industry in the US is some sort of crime against nature. Moreso than other factory farming thingies.
conuly: (Default)
Saying you should just be good for goodness' sake.

Why they're doing this, I don't know. It's not any more obnoxious than when Christians do it, you know. HONestly.

Though, on the other hand...

In mid-October, the American Family Association started selling buttons that say "It's OK to say Merry Christmas." The humanists' entry into the marketplace of ideas did not impress AFA president Tim Wildmon.

"It's a stupid ad," he said. "How do we define 'good' if we don't believe in God? God in his word, the Bible, tells us what's good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what's good, it's going to be a crazy world."


All I can say to that is that Tom Wildmon is clearly nothing more than a petty-minded individual who seems opposed to the concept of people taking responsibility for their own actions and who doesn't want to live in the real world, messy and crazy and full of opposing moralities as it is. (That's the *polite* version.) The original could be said in four words, two of which was his name.

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