Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The last of 2008

Am sitting here in the quiet of my living room. George the Elder was taken the boys down to the local park - - a blessing since it is kind of cold, drizzling and very foggy. He is a king. He is also a savior. He arrived home from work to find Henry in his room and me with that look of "You arrived at the very nick of time as I was considering beating him with his own arm!" Yes, I am hopeful that this will be the last of Henry's descent in to darkness moments of 2008. We still have several hours to go, but I am hopeful.

Georgie is like water - he flows serenely through his days and there is very little that gets the kid riled up. Henry is like lava - smooth and calm and black until - - well, until he becomes red and bubbly and erupts. Today it was because I asked him to do his Kumon and he discovered that he was 2 worksheets behind. Zero to fifty in about 2.4 seconds. He makes a Maserati look sluggish. I ended up taking him to the store with me to do grocery shopping (yes, that is a punishment. People who throw tantrums cannot be trusted to stay at home while I go to negotiate the size and quality of a pork loin rib roast...) and then he was put in his room (stomping all the way up the stairs) until he could 1) finish at least one kumon worksheet, and 2) become a rational human being again. He was in there for 2.5 solid hours before he emerged. He emerged because he heard Dad and George leaving to go to the park.

It is worthwhile noting that a Kumon worksheet takes approximately 13 minutes to complete. On the outside. Obviously, the ability to rationalize the 2.5 hours in his room staring at the ceiling, in addition to being hauled around a very crowded supermarket for about 40 minutes - - is worth it, as opposed to just doing the damn worksheet. On one hand, you have to admire his tenacity. He's like a dog with a juicy bone. He can't let go. On the other hand, you have to wonder about his ability to see the forest through the trees. Big picture is that he could have been well done with the evil kumon in the time it took me to strong arm him in to the station wagon for the dreaded trip in search of meat.

So, for now all is quiet. I am hopeful that the time outside will do wonders for Henry's disposition and the age old remedy of a little "fresh air" will suffice. He wants to stay up until midnight tonight. We will see. Right now there is a little note taped to the fridge that states "Henry is not permitted to stay up tonight." He will need to figure out a way to convince me to take it down. Short of sprouting real wings and a halo, his chances are slim. I say that, but the flip side of Henry's darkness is that he can be the sweetest, most loving boy you would ever want to be around when he wants to. They wrote "There was a little girl, with a little curl" with Henry in mind. They just changed the sex so that it wasn't so obvious.

We have no real plans for tonight. Gonna sit around, eat corn chowder and play some raucous dominoes while we wait to usher the new year in. I got some party hats and streamers, champagne and bubbly cider for the boys just in case they make it that far. Last year we were in Sri Lanka watching fire dancers. This year we will be in our living room watching TV. Kinda the same, I guess?

Tomorrow George and I will make the New Years pork roast and sauerkraut that will bring us good luck in 2009. He has found a new recipe that calls for homemade cornbread stuffing. I wonder. If the recipe is a total bust do you still get all the luck that the pork is supposed to bring anyway? It sure looks pretty in the Sauveur recipe picture. Am I doubtful that ours will look the same? Absolutely.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Nothing says Christmas like a Glock

As I reported earlier, the boys "got what they asked for" this Christmas. Both guys popped on to Santa's knee, wrote the letters and reminded us for an entire 90 days that the very very very best thing that they could ever get this year would be an air soft gun. I wondered, for the entire 90 days, if there was something that looked like an air soft gun, but wasn't an air soft gun. No dice.

So, while I attended to purchasing other items on the aforementioned list, I passed off the responsibility of getting the guns. Henry merely stated that he wanted a pistol, but Georgie had done the responsible thing by listing the assault rifle by UPC code, model and manufacturer. Good boy. He also included the standy-thing and the scope. He's been known for his ability to think to the future.

So, George ordered said weapons in early December. On December 16th he got an email that said they were back-ordered and wouldn't be in until mid-January. What the @#$??? He called to tell me this while I was in the car. What was I supposed to do at that moment? Pass the ball back to him and tell him to "fix the problem." Fix he did, as you can see from the looks of pure joy on my new little mercenaries faces.

Before they could go out and shoot George the Elder, a "Gunsite" Graduate, schooled the boys on the rules of gun handling designed by Jeff Cooper:





Then, armed (pun intended) with this knowledge they headed to the back yard to annihilate various things such as soda cans, little plastic yakult bottles and, fingers crossed, nothing that resembled a brother or another live creature.

Henry trying to determine which is his dominant eye... the jury is still out.

The Georges and Henry in what used to be our little unused backyard. Now it is a shooting range.

Doesn't he already have the face of an expert sniper? The only thing he needs is to dump the fru-fru beach towel and cover himself with large pieces of foliage for camo.

And while I was feeling kind of like the worst Mother in all of San Francisco (which I still probably am) - Georgie reported that he had asked a number of his friends in other parts of the country and outside the US what they got for Christmas. Surprisingly, about six or seven of his friends are also the new owners of war mongering Christmas toys. I feel satisfied that I am not alone.

Rumor has it that they will head out in the dark tomorrow to pair up the weapons and the infra-red night sight eye-clops goggles. Look out neighborhood cats.

(note: For those of you checking my ability to determine when to start a new paragraph - - I am actually inserting them, but for some reason, they don't appear when I publish. Feel free to insert paragraphs where you see fit)

(note 2: Thanks to Katherine B for the title of this post...)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Xmas Jammies

Hard to imagine, but the theme of this year's family Xmas jammies was "San Francisco". The extent of my creativity is astounding, don't ya think??

For the uninformed blog lurkers, we do a cheesy thing every Christmas. We all get matching Xmas jammies. Did I write about this before?? Anywho, as you can see, we got cool deco rendition t-shirts this year. I also decided to go for bottoms that were useful. The boys got under armour sweats, George got some "after work" lounging pants and Shannon and I scored some really nice new yoga pants. Now all I have to do is actually sign up for a yoga class! At least I have the pants now. (Oh, and a mat that Shannon got me last year for Christmas that is still unused - - perhaps I was just waiting for the pants??)
Christmas was very nice - - except that Shannon was in Atlanta. The boys didn't wake us up until a reasonable hour of 7:30. Could this have been because we told them that their presents from Santa would turn in to ash and soot if we were awakened prior to that hour? Me thinks that the jumping on the bed at EXACTLY 7:30 was just a weird coincidence.
George and I didn't get to sleep until around 1:30 a.m. and it wasn't because we were enjoying watching "A Christmas Story" - - although is that not the funniest damn Christmas movie ever? It is because for some unfathomable reason, we don't wrap the Santa stuff until the night before. We call it "the dark side of Christmas". We wait until the kids are all asleep, then we crack open a bottle of champers for me and George pours himself a bourbon or something of the darker nature and... let the wrapping begin. Again, for some unfathomable reason, I generally estimate that the wrapping will take about 45 minutes. But, there we are 2 hours later, finishing up (both the wrapping and the drinking).
The "dark side" was further extended this year as George the Elder was wrapping George the Younger's gifts and I made the mistake of commenting that perhaps George the Younger was going to think that his gifts were wrapped by Santa's retarded elf. I put forward for his consideration that the wrapping paper was actually supposed to cover the entire gift AND not look like it had been recovered from a crunched up ball at the bottom of the garbage can. George the Elder decided that he wasn't gonna take any of that crap from me and decided to stop wrapping and just enjoy his bourbon. My own damn fault. But honestly, what's so hard about covering things with paper?
The evening's video enhancement of "A Christmas Story" was a bit prophetic as the boys' were given air-soft guns from Santa. In the olden days they called them bb guns, but I guess since the wee plastic balls are no longer metal, they needed to change the name or something? I will get to that tomorrow with pictures of "when George the Elder teaches the boys that an armed society is a polite society." For now we are off to a Cambodian restaurant for dinner. Bring on the grilled pork!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

I miss my girl

Shannon left yesterday to head back east. I cried for the better part of the day. George says that she is no longer allowed to come and visit. Luckily, the boys were off to some friends to make gingerbread houses, so I was pretty much able to bask in my misery for the afternoon until it was time to go and pick them up. George stayed upstairs and communed with his computer while I worked through my issues.

It's kind of that I miss the "girl" stuff - - and of course I just miss her too. But, I am now living with all men. We spend a lot of time dealing with boy things.

We have boy games, eat boy food and watch boy TV. We shop for boy clothes (or let me rephrase, I shop for boy clothes since boys don't particularly care to go shopping). Said clothes are boring to shop for anyway. Jeans, shorts, striped shirts and sports jerseys. Oh, and white socks. Lots of white socks. Woo hoo.

Our conversations lean towards sports, and there's nearly daily conversation about various bodily functions, the speed and velocity of peeing and the size relationship between the penis and the balls.

Never, in the whole time that Shannon was a child did I hear the following comment, "Kiss my hairy balls." On one hand, this was an interesting comment from a guy who doesn't have a single hair on his body. On the other hand, this was not said directly to me, but was overheard in a conversation between the two younger boys. All the boys have been warned that THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE when I am around. We spend the better part of two weeks drilling this in when the boys get back from camp. I don't want to hear about it. Moreover, I don't care a itsy-bitsy about hairy or hairless and I have already heard most of the names they can be called. Enough already.

Any who, it was nice to have Shannon here, even if she was somewhat depressed. We didn't get to spend a whole lot of time together, but we got to go and have lunch where they serve good salads. We went to the bookstore and talked about books we like to read (and whether or not we really thought the Sex in the City movie was all that great). She told me that I needed to get a pair of skinny jeans to haul my butt in to the 21st century (I declined) and she borrowed some perfume while she was here. There were two of us "girls." It was nice. And, as I mentioned before - - at least there was someone here to help me finish decorating the tree.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Early Christmas

It's been a heck of a week. Shannon arrived last Sunday night at 1:00 in the morning thanks to some snow in the Midwest. It was really great to have her. But, she is suffering from a broken heart, so she wasn't exactly in the frame of mind to fully enjoy my obsession with Christmas-music-all-day. She would have been happier suffering to all the other "my-heart-is-broken-you-are-the-only-guy-for-me" pop songs on other radio stations. I made her suffer through.

Her on-again-off-again boyfriend, who swore that that they were going to be married someday come hell or high water in an email to me this past summer, decided that...well, hell or high water wasn't the benchmark any longer. He got a new girl. Shannon's heartbroken, but I gave her the "men are like buses...a new one goes by every 15 minutes" pep talk and while she wasn't exactly perky the whole time she was here, there were moments when she wasn't sobbing that her life was over and she was going to die alone with only cats to keep her company.

In addition to trying to keep the blues at bay for Shannon, it was the boys' last week of school before the break. As those of you with past or present elementary and middle school students you know that this means the requisite chaos and confusion that comes with extra holiday festivities. Secret Santa stuff, presents for teachers and in our case, an all-school ice skating bonanza and the elementary holiday play.

The holiday play was by far the best piece of children's school theater I have had the pleasure of seeing. The actually rent out a full-on theater about 10 minutes drive from the school. This does entail much car-pooling back and forth for rehearsals, but the end result on Thursday evening was an amazing montage of musical-type plays with a Brazilian theme and lots of great music. Henry played his violin, sang many songs and played the role of "Tree Spirit One." The plays had nothing to do with Christmas or any of the holidays, but in the true spirit of the San Francisco school, mainly focused on being kind to each other and saving the forests from destruction. I have ordered the DVD, so perhaps at some point in the future I will load up Henry's big scene.

Shannon left this morning, so we celebrated Christmas for her similar to the "real" Christmas morning before she left. In other words, we roused her happy butt out of bed at close to 8 a.m. and opened presents. We also opened our family Christmas jammies. This year we chose a SF theme - - retro printed T-shirts with a cool rendition of the Golden Gate - - and took the annual family photo. It'll end up looking just like we do every Christmas morning, 'cept it wasn't really Christmas. The boys all have disheveled hair, Shannon uses some piece of Christmas ribbon to tie in her hair and I will appear to have no lips unless I apply some lipstick.

And, why is it that every year it takes an extra 10 minutes to remember how to set the automatic timer on the damn camera? You "know" how to do it, it's on the tip of your memory tongue, there are little icons that should be leading you to the right operation - - and yet. This year however, we did have the cutest little tri-pod to set the camera on, so at least we did not have to attempt to building the "cat-in-the-hat" tower consisting of books, plates and teacups to achieve the proper elevation for the photo. There have been Christmases where we have either had to elevate ourselves or scrunch down to accommodate the camera. Not this year. It just took 10 minutes to figure out the timer and another 20 minutes of running back and forth until we were satisfied that we had a good shot. Dollars to donuts, when I download those suckers there won't be a single one where we are all smiling simultaneously with our eyes open. Yup, a pretty typical Christmas photo.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Deck the Halls...

We decorated our Christmas tree last night. Why is it that the whole hallmark-card-visions-of-sugarplums ideal is what we always remember just BEFORE you start the decorate the tree? Why is it that when you are done the last thing the whole ordeal actually resembles is the hallmark-card-visions-of-sugarplum ideal? Yeesh.

Sure, the whole thing starts out wonderfully, the kids are excited, they gleefully go through their ornaments, remember which ones are theirs, fight over the ones that aren't marked and practically skip over to the tree to find the "perfect place" to hang them. That lasts exactly 20 minutes. Next thing you know, Shannon and I are still hanging stuff, George the Elder has retired to the couch to do whatever he does until he is called to put the tree topper on and the boys are chasing each other around the room with a Nerf ball making the dog crazy. Oh, I am also yelling at them to "Come and finish the Tree! This is supposed to be a FAMILY activity!" Whatever.

As always, the tree ended up looking really cool. I like that we don't have a "theme" tree and when it is all decorated it is just covered with memories. A boat-load of memories really. This is why the boys get bored. We have a "few" ornaments (defined as more than 10 and less than 200) and I like them all to go up. Yup. No one to blame but myself that the number of ornaments to be hung far exceeds the attention span of the male members of my household. If I were honest with myself I would realize that that number is say, ten. After ten ornaments the activity loses it's appeal.

We have my felt snowman from kindergarten who is now one-legged and eye-less, we have Shannon's early attempts at art and sculpture, glittery pine cones made by George 9 years ago and Henry's "snowflake" which is nothing more that a few twigs held together by string. We have origami from Japan, tiny little red phone booths from London, the coolest retro 8-ball ornaments from Camden Town, and a tree topper that is an angel with the head of a bull terrier. It would not win a single Martha Stewart award. But, it's damn fun to look at.

Wait! Maybe that's the solution. I am looking at the ornaments like a girl. If only I had thought to make all the ornaments interesting to the boys in my family, maybe we could live the hallmark moment. Yes, I see it now. Bobble-heads of all of our favorite sports characters, tiny little t-shirts from all the European soccer teams, little replicas of any kind of vehicle, a few dinosaurs, bugs and throw in a couple that made realistic bodily noises and man! They'd be at it all night.

Oh, and in case this blog ever acts as my last will and testament: I bequeath to Shannon my felt gimpy snowman, the used-to-be-white owl with the bent sequin eyes and ratty feathers and the little ceramic mouse in the babushka and moo-moo. She must promise to put these on the tree every year alongside her Care Bears GIANT ball, the numerous sculpy Santa heads, the green and red beaded safety pin creation and the mostly-disintegrated ice-cream-cone-satin-ball-with-sparkles that she made in kindergarten.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Smile Pretty

We headed over to our local mall today so the boys could see Santa. They are now 10 and 12. They both still believe. I am certain that these days are numbered. Still, they were anticipating the visit.

They had written letters and so were a little confused as to why, if Santa had already gotten the letters, they needed to actually "ask" for the things that they wanted. I just told them that it was more polite to ask in person. Give the guy a break - - all those letters to read! But, it's been a while since we've been to a U.S. Santa and it turns out you literally have to plead with the helpers for the extra two minutes to actually have a conversation with the guy. Basically, it is a long long line for kids to wait in for a photo op.

First, you have to decide what package of photos you are buying before you can even get an audience with the guy. I wonder if you decided not to spend more than thirty bucks on some mediocre photographs if they would even let you near his lap. I, of course, wanted photos but they seemed flummoxed that I wanted to actually see the photos before I decided. What if the kids looked stupid or Santa's eyes were closed? The elf did not see my point. I had to decide first and THEN if the pictures were stupid, I could choose differently. Was this better line management? I wasn't sure.

So the boys get up there and the helper immediately herds both the boys at the same time towards Santa's lap. I nicely asked if they could first go separately so that they could have some private conversation with the red suit. The woman looked at me like, "Why do they want to talk to him? Could I not see that there was a line of screaming preened children behind me?" I told her that even if they both took 3 minutes whispering their desires in to Santa's ear, they guy was still making more than $300 an hour. She begrudgingly obliged them.

The photos came out pretty good after all, but what ever happened to the cheesy little photo "frames" that used to come with your photos? Now they just print out what you ordered and jam them in to a little white envelope. No little paper frame, no nothing. What a rip. You could, of course, choose to purchase the "pewter-like" frame for an additional $17.99. I decided against.

So, after photos with Santa, we went to get our tree. We got a nice one, tied on the roof of the car and headed home. We were so excited to get it in to its little nifty tree stand when we got home. No joy.

When we unpacked from London I KNOW I saw our Christmas tree stand. I KNOW I actually touched the thing and put it somewhere. Somewhere where I know it would be handy at such a time that I needed it to put a tree in it. I can't find that damned thing anywhere. It's big. It's green. It's heavy. There's only a few places where it could be. It is in none of those places. I have packed and upacked that bad johnny from Tokyo to Frankfurt to London. It was one of those really cool ones that have the little lever that you press to tighten the bungie-like metal wire. Tree goes in straight with none of that screw-the-little-metal-screws into the trunk while holding it straight and steady for 10 minutes.

I had to run to Home Depot and get a new one. A cheesy metal one with the little screws. I hate those screws. The tree is still crooked. Once it's decorated and the lights are on only I will ever notice it. And I will notice it until the day we take it down. Crap.

On a lighter note - - Shannon arrives tomorrow night. We will hold off on tree decorating until she is here to share it with us. She has her 28th birthday while she is here. Yup. That's right 28. Crap.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Da Bears

Georgie played his first JV basketball game yesterday. I wish there was a photo or two I could share, but alas, my camera and I were not simpatico and I got lots of blurred shots. I still can't get the whole "sports" mode thing down and I need a stronger lens. Dear Santa, What I want for Christmas is...

Georgie was so damn excited for this game. He said he was so nervous that he couldn't get to sleep ALL NIGHT. I did check on him right before I went to sleep at 11, so I guess "all night" just means until about 10:30. He was up at around 6:15 a.m padding around, so I know he really was excited.

He has a nice little black/red/white uniform for the San Francisco School Bears that I will show once my camera and I understand each other. He is number 34. Not his personal choice - - since the number 7 is his "lucky" number (yup. Get in the long line for that one!). When they were getting their uniforms assigned the other night all the boys were bemoaning the length of the shorts and the tank tops. They think their shorts are too short because they are not hanging off their butts and pooling around the tops of the basketball shoes. If only they could see the hot pants from the 70's! The wanted to wear black t-shirts under their nylon tank tops, but the coach vetoed it. I have to admit that most of their arms did look kind of scrawny.

It was a very exciting game as far as basketball games for the under 5'2" crowd goes. They were actually executing plays, passing the ball and getting yelled at by the coach like they were a real team! I am not sure how this will go over with some of our "softer" ultra-liberal-don't-yell-at-the-kids-everyone's-a-winner parents -- but I wrote the coach an email (and copied the headmaster) so they will at least know that they have one parent that's o.k. with the coach yelling at her kid when he makes a bone-headed move!

They ended up winning the game 21 to 7. A rousing triumph. While G3 didn't personally score any points, he played defense well and was engaged in the game the whole time. It's entirely possible that Georgie's feet never touched the ground from the time that last buzzer rang until I brought him down to earth by reminding him that he had two tests to study for. Felt badly to take the air out of his balloon, but Spanish and English tests wait for no man. Not even a victorious 6th grade Bear.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Kanye and Me

This morning on the way to school the boys and I were talking about the upcoming activities over the next couple of weeks. Well, we weren't exactly "conversing" in the sense that we were exchanging information, It was more just me talking to them - - or technically, me talking to myself. We have Georgie's first basketball game on Wednesday, the holiday play is coming up and then there's the school ice skating party next week.

I was also mentioning that Shannon would be coming on Sunday night - so we were going to do this and we were going to that, etc. I finally mentioned that she and I were going to be ushers at the school play. At this point, it became clear that Georgie (and surely Henry too) were only listening to part of what I say because G3 immediately piped up and said, "You and Shannon are going to see Usher??? Why can't I get tickets to see Usher??"

I clarified that I was using the word usher as a verb not in reference to a musical performer. Georgie then announced that I probably didn't even know who Usher was. I responded, "Do you think I live under a rock? I read People Magazine. Heck, I ride in the car with you every day. What do you think we are listening to?" (O.K., so recently I have been subjecting them to the All-Christmas-All-Day song station - - such the sap that I am - - but on every other damn day we listen to their stuff.)

So, to further make his point that I am old and completely without any up-to-date cultural knowledge, he starts quizzing me on who I really do know. Solja boy? Flo Rida? (at this point I launched in to my own rendition of Low - - apple bottom jeans all the way through the booty smack - which Henry thought was funny) And finally he says, "Okay, I bet you don't even know who Kanye West is!!" Problem was, he pronounced it as Cain West.

I told him the correct pronunciation was Kan-Yeah, but he wouldn't have any of this. He had asked HIS friend Eric who is obviously the go-to-guy for music trivia in the 6th grade. He was SURE it was Cain. Eric said it was so. I said we should call Shannon, the coolest big sister on the planet, to settle the argument. Let's just say that thanks to Shannon I emerged "cool, hip, Mom" this morning.

Having said that, I am glad that he didn't ask me to sing anything of Kanye's. All I could think of was that Kanye's mother had just died after some problematic cosmetic plastic surgery. Like I said, I read People.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pretty Please

I had to buy some new make-up the other day. For the record, I am not one of those girly-girls who have vats and boxes full of cosmetics hidden under the sink, in vanity drawers or in closets. I have a make-up bag that consists of the following: mascara, blush, lipstick and tweezers. O.K. that's not exactly true. I do have a second small bag of "dress-up" cosmetics. My every-day routine is spiced up considerably with sheer foundation, neutral colored eye-shadow and eye-liner. The only thing I own multiples of is lipstick. Much of the multi-lipstick colors are left overs from my working days. I suspect that according to any lip color guru these tubes are far beyond their expected lip-stick lives. Alas. Should I ever drop dead at some future cocktail party of unknown causes, please do ask the coroner to check for death-by-expired-lipstick.

I needed some new mascara so I went shopping. I, of course, put on "dress-up" make-up before attending to this errand. Why? Because I am intimidated by cosmetic sales people. They always look so shiny and twinkly and they spend more than my own personal make-up application limit of 3.5 minutes on their own faces. They know all the newest products, they use them, they live them, they ARE them. I have, at one time or another, actually had to wipe purse lint off of my blush tube. I could be condemned to make-up hell for this in their universe. They treat cosmetics like manna from heaven. I treat cosmetics like they are something that keep me from looking like death warmed over.

As you approach the counter they always peer (leer?) at you like you are some foreign species. A foreign species that is a treasure trove of potential cosmetic needs. Your skin quality is immediately critiqued and your application techniques are second guessed. You can actually see them mentally running through their own product catalog, as well as all other product lines, for items that you would absolutely have to have in order to be presentable. They want to fix you. They want to age-defy you. I just want new mascara. Do I want a complete make-over so I can see what my face would look like in it's ultimate, beautified, age-defying state? No. Why? Because every time I have had a make-over I end up looking way, way closer to "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" than is desirable.

In the end, I honestly believe that the "dress-up" make-up helped make the situation more bearable for both me and the sales person. She believed that I actually took 10 minutes to apply the requisite facial shield every day. This fit in to her world view and I was only happy to have made her more comfortable. In return, I was only advised on a select few new items and the only advice administered was that a little more cream-type blush would help make me look more dewy. I guess you can't err on the side of too much dewiness.

It was all very civilized. I raptly listened to her spiel. I reverently and lovingly fondled a couple of new eye-shadow colors because it seemed the right thing to do. I looked at the 17 million new kinds of mascara - - new wand types, new formulas for longer, lusher lashes. I bought the same mascara I have used for the past five years. It only took 15 minutes. I was happy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I have a funny sister

It appears I am being taught a lesson. This lesson is "Never mention your opinion of GIANT blow-up lawn ornaments" in your blog. Should this happen, you will be rewarded with the most GIANT-EST blow-up lawn ornament that is available outside of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Once this baby started inflating I went back to look for some dwarfs in the bag who's job it would be to tether this sucker down in strong winds. I actually couldn't put this in my front lawn. My lawn is too small. Luckily, I have this outdoor porch. Makes it look like we've got the polar bear in a pen. Oh, and you can't really see it in this photo - - but he's actually illuminated so that everyone in SF can see this puppy at night. We will be in the next google-earth satellite photo for sure.

Neither Henry nor George the elder has seen this yet. Henry will LOVE it. George the elder will feel right at home. His aunt in Philly has the biggest collection of lawn paraphernalia I have ever seen. She will be jealous!! As for Otto, this inflatable pair obviously is a force to be reckoned with. He hasn't stopped growling at them and he won't go up or down the stairs. Guess he's gonna have to learn to cope.

Can't wait to surround this piece of Christmas art with all the multi-colored outdoor lights I got yesterday. That's gonna win us "christmas year of the year" for sure.

And, thanks Deb. You're the best big sister ever.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cambodia Tomorrow School

Today in Cambodia (our tomorrow), the new school for the orphanage will be dedicated. One of the board members from Cambodia Tomorrow is there for the ribbon cutting ceremony. We had considered going ourselves, but in the end we decided that the boys should be staying in school here in SF this time.

The building looks really nice - - but get a load of the size of the sign! When we first saw the "sign" via e-mail photos the shot was taken in a zoomed-in view with nothing to gauge the actual dimensions. We thought it was going to be a little plaque located next to the front door. Imagine our surprise when we saw the billboard-sized sign that they put out. The good news is that they got the named spelled right. This is some kind of Cambodian miracle. Actually, it is a miracle anywhere. The kids have been going to the same summer camp for the last three years. The batting average for the camp in spelling our names right is low. Very low.

As it turned out, we were never able to come up with a cool school name that included the letters of the kids names. Finally, we decided that the name of the school would be the Cambodia Tomorrow School reflecting the name of the non-profit. The school's motto however, would be "Growth, Hope, Success" There's our nod to George, Henry and Shannon. Although, at this point, I guess the size of the sign leaves no uncertainty, eh?

I have also heard that there are T-shirts for all the Cambodian students with the school name and motto just like the painting on the side of the building. I'm hoping to score a couple for the kids. Truthfully, I am hoping to score one for myself as well.

I was wishing that the one photo with all the Cambodian folk would include our two other little guys that are still there in the orphanage, but alas they are not in this shot. Perhaps tomorrow at the ceremony the board members will remember to take one. They are really great kids and doing well in school. Each time we get a letter from them their English proficiency improves. Fingers crossed they will be able to move one through university.

The coolest thing is to realize that the school is finally built and in operation. We've been working on this for three years. Camtom has been dreaming it for far longer. It's so amazing that it is finished and the kids have somewhere to go to school with desks and windows and doors. Pretty nifty when you think about it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Riddles

On Thursday, Henry was in charge of decorating the Thanksgiving Table. It is hard to see, but along with the traditional holiday greeting, the table was decorated with California State Flags. Before the titles went on, I was wondering why he was drawing goats floating on clouds in little boxes. Obviously, he needs to work on both the overall girth and ferociousness of the California Bear. Along with his beautiful art work, Henry further treated us to some thanksgiving riddles. Just before dinner, each family member got one at our plate.

Riddle #1:

I'm here at the table and I eat very slow. Who am I?? (Answer: Henry)

Riddle #2:

I swear a lot and love recesses (he meant Reeses ). Who am I??? (Answer: Dad)

Riddle #3:

I love my orange ball and snore louder than Dad. Who am I??? (Answer: Otto)

Riddle #4:

I once won a science fair and I don't live here. Who am I??? (Answer: Shannon)

What a crack up. He was so cute. He a) really thought that these would be stumpers for everyone and b) was convinced that we didn't know who wrote them. Let's just be clear that Henry's handwriting is distinctive. He has a future in the medical profession just writing prescriptions. Of course we played along and all hummed and hawed before answering. I don't think he has a future in riddle writing.

We ate the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers last night. My final thing to be thankful for this thanksgiving season is that it will be another full year before we eat gravy and stuffing for three consecutive days.