Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We Got House and other news

The youngers and I are back from a weekend on Vashon Island. This is narrow piece of lovely about a 29 minute ferry ride from Seattle. What was interesting about this place was that each of us visitors (from around the US) felt that it looked just like somewhere we loved (the coast of maine, upstate new york, a small town in PA). Either we were all high from the lavender farms that dot the island, or it's just one of the places that has the immediate impression of "welcoming".

We were up there mainly to attend the Cambodia Tomorrow board meeting, but got lots of good social time in, so that was great. It was fun for the kids to be around other adoptees (although George the Younger lamented his status as the "only Vietnamese" kid there). George the Elder and I do not spend much energy or importance on lets-talk-about-our-adoptee-status at home with the boys, but it's fun for them to be able to meet these other folks. Mostly, the kids just played outside, went to the pool and headed off to see Transformers during the weekend. It's not like we had them sit and round table about their "feelings" of being adopted. Mostly they round tabled about how to get more marshmallows for s'mores or about how everyone was yelling at them simultaneously to keep the frickin soccer ball out of the baby lavender. Pretty normal stuff.

In the picture are most of the board members of the ngo - they are easily identified as the "white folk" in the photo. We had a great meeting (it was my first) and I have to admit I was getting a bit of a thrill out of thinking and acting like I had a job again (mission statements, visions, personal goals and action steps). It was nice to take those skills out of the bag and dust them off for a change. Today I am back to home management (laundry mostly), but perhaps being on this board will give me the little of "I am NOT JUST a mom" back that I am craving.

In other news, we actually are home owners, although I haven't been over to the house yet. After some ado about an environmental somethingorother, we went "on record" sometime on Thursday while I was in the air between SF and Seattle - mainly reflecting on how the death of the king of pop was affecting travelers (i.e. when we were in SF folks were getting off the plane trying to confirm the "rumor" that they had heard while they were in the air. Others were just noticing on the large screen TVs and shouting out to one another - - weird). George finally got over there on Sunday, so at least one of us has visited the place. It's odd, since we're both excited about getting the place - - but are in a place in the process where we own it, but don't need to really use it, but need to plan for it, but don't need it's physical presence yet.

I suspect I will walk over there this afternoon to check it out and use the key (just for fun). I also have to meet with a new neighbor who I am trying to woo with my unparalleled cooperation so that I can get her pay-back partisanship in the short future. My plan is to seem unbelievably convivial about trimming back a tree for her (that is on our property). My expectation is that when we present her with the plans to do-whack-a-do to our place that she will feel the need to reciprocate and give us her immediate blessing. This is the plan any way. We will see.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Where's the Fun in This?

Yesterday, George the Elder and I headed over to Fidelity Title to sign the papers for our new house. We were excited. We were gonna get a NEW HOUSE!!! We were summarily disappointed.
You see, California is one of a handful of states that close real estate in escrow. It's a total drag. We sign reams of papers. We give them a lot of money. In turn, we leave with a dirty thumb (a notary requirement) and a copy of that ream of paper. What we don't leave with is real estate.
No house. No nothing. According to the escrow officer, once the house is "on record" we will get a call. Wow. A call. How about someone with a trumpet arrives with the keys?? Now that would be at least a tad bit more exciting than a phone call.
The escrow "officer" (sounds very official, but in my mind it just is a stupid word for someone who keeps my house from me) says that none of the sellers have signed yet, so it could be a while. How strange is that? No shaking of hands at the lawyers office. No bonding with the sellers. And more importantly, no house. Seems kind of unfair. We give money = we get house. Apparently in California is goes more like this... we give money = they get the float = we wait for a call. A big thumbs down (with or without ink) from me.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I get ideas sometimes about "fixing" things in my house. (I also get ideas about "fixing" things in my life occasionally, but that's another story for another time and would require some real thinking - so I'll just focus on on the things in my house). I would generally consider myself a pretty handy gal. I can change electrical sockets, hang light fixtures and I can wield a hammer with the best of them. I know the difference between a molly-bolt (if, indeed, that's how you spell it) and other types of wall hangers. I know how to use a drill properly and can tackle most mundane household chores with some degree of aplomb. In other words, I am not one of those women who think that a knife and a coffee cup, used in ways not intended in their original designs, are the ideal things to have in your tool box arsenal. I use the real things.

But what I have come to realize lately is that while I get "ideas" about things and often turn those ideas in to reality, I must confess that I don't like projects that take too long. This is problematic because sometimes my ideas, and the time that they will take in-my-mind's-eye, are disconnected. I like to imagine that my ideas will be completed within the two hour time period that I have allotted for them to take in my imaginary chore world. This is not usually the case. This can be disappointing.

A couple of days ago I had one of those "ideas". We have an old vintage porch set. You know, the kind that your grandma, or her neighbor-lady, had on their back porch? (You know, just like the one in the picture here - but this one's not mine, just a representative sample - I was too lazy to get out the camera) Its got a metal glider, a rocking chair and a regular chair. Its got this nifty little pie-plate design cut out on the backs and seats of all the pieces. Its a real charmer for those who appreciate vintage stuff from the 40-50's. Our set also, unfortunately, had the requisite rust poking through its not-so-great-anymore red and white paint job. Hence, the idea to paint the set. I allotted about 2 hours for this entire project. I am a fool and should never be asked to estimate completion times for anything except cooking microwave popcorn. And even then, I would have to have a couple of goes at it in any particular microwave.

Basically, I decided that I wanted a NEW color. In my mind's eye these guys were gonna be Utopian when I was done with my 120 minutes of painting perfection. Alas. Imaginary paint jobs are tricky things. I forgot to take in to consideration that my suckers were painted red. As in fire engine red. As in apple red. As in no other color could cover that red except for maybe the same red or perhaps a lovely shade of cheery black. I decided on painting them a nice sunny yellow. Yup in my world, one coat of a shiny yellow paint oughta do the trick. Do I need to mention the word "fool" again?

So, yesterday morning I merrily tripped off to our local Home Depot to get the necessary stuff. I had already googled "painting metal furniture" and knew that I needed to wash it off and take care of any obvious rust with a wire brush. I did that before I left - so that was not technically included in my time estimation of 2 hours. I talked to the paint guy about the benefits of spray vs brush. He advised spray. I took his advice. (Please insert the word "fool" here again) So I bought a couple o' cans of spray paint (for which I needed to get the approval of the home depot supervisor just in case I had ideas about becoming a world renown graffiti artist instead of a porch furniture painter) and headed home.

Were you, unlike me, clued in to the fact that spray paint is damn messy business? It is even messy if you have moved said porch furniture in to your garage and covered all surfaces with plastic tarps. It is profoundly sticky. Super mongo sticky. So marvelously sticky that after I had only marginally covered the underside of one of the chairs I was unable to move around deftly since my feet were now fusing to the plastic sheeting. I would point out that this makes spray painting slightly more complex. It would have been fine if, say, the furniture was on a lazy-susan and I could just spin it around to get to different places. But, in the absence of that little gem, instead I was like your basic house fly cemented to an exceptionally effective brand of fly paper. Only moments earlier, George the Younger had begged to paint too, so I let him. He joined me in tandem adherence . The two of us must have been a sight looking like wading egrets walking through a marsh sort of half-marching about trying to unstick our feet from the plastic. We gave up.

This wouldn't have been half so bad if we could have just turned the water on and rinsed off the sunny yellow paint that was now encrusted on the bottoms of our feet. Nope. Not half so bad. But the truth is I totally missed that this kind of paint wasn't your garden variety soap and water kind o' clean-up. This gunk required Mineral Spirits or some other liquid thinning substance. Did I have any of this? Hell no. (insert the word "fool" again here) So, he and I sat on the side walk waiting for my feet to dry enough to head back to Home Depot.

While I was there, I decided to change painting tactics and opted to use regular-in-the-can kind of paint. Got the paint, got the brushes, got more plastic sheeting. And, I did remember to get the mineral spirits in the end. I very nearly almost forgot it. I remembered as I was heading down the escalator towards the check out and sensed that my feet were now permanently glued to the inside of my tennis shoes. And, in case you are curious, Mineral Spirits not only do the trick of removing paint from your feet, but it also is pretty handy with little fragments of shoe insole. Just so you know.

The brush-can method was indeed a lot less messy. It is also a lot less speedy. Coverage isn't great, so after the first coat I had a moment or two (or a whole night of waking up in the middle of it thinking - - what was I thinking? I've totally mucked the whole set up and will now need to hire a guy with a car stripping thinga-ma-jiggy that can sand blast and then use the mega-car-paint-sprayer to fix my foul up) where I was appalled at the results. Yellow over red ain't pretty the first coat around.

But, this morning I went back to the project filled with lukewarm enthusiasm to begin the second coat. Wanna know something? It's looking pretty damn fine. Two coats down. At least two to go. At 3 hours per coat at 4 coats, my little project is now estimated at 12 hours. Add the two trips to home depot, the disaster with the spray paint and I suspect we're nearly at 17 hours. 24 hours drying time between coats adds another 4 days. Crap - see what I mean? 120 minutes just morphed in to a school-week-long project. Fool.

When I am done, I will take photos. I will need to take photos so that I can be on-line-proud of my "idea". I will feel exculpated from my current fool-hardy yellow-speckled state. This got me to thinking though - - what am I gonna do with a whole house remodel? Holy jumping one-armed wall paper hanger Batman! We're in for some real fun now. We close on the house next week.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Boys to Men

I read a friend's blog this morning who was waxing philosophic on the topic of things that all men should be able to do in order to proudly carry their Universal Man Card. It got me to thinking. What are the skills that I need to be teaching my boys? While the blog post listed a lot of "manly chores" like changing a tire and pounding nails, it spurred me to action thinking about the "other" things that boys need to be able to do - - taught to them by the women who form them. The advent of summer vacation already had me noodling about this. Of course, the "summer vacation" event had more to do with "what-the-heck-do-i-do-to-keep-the-boys-busy", but I'm liking that I can now characterize some of these things as "life learning events". Yes! I can easily justify turning my kids in to little slaves in order to prepare them properly for adulthood. In the words of Edna Mode of the Incredibles, "Life favors the prepared, darling!"

The boys already have a litany of "standards" that they have always been asked to do. Making beds in the morning, putting away their clean clothes, feeding the dog, setting the table, clearing the table and washing the dishes (although the last has been somewhat loosely defined since my idea of washing the dishes actually requires that all food particles be removed from said dishes to qualify as clean - we're still working on that one.) For the summer we have already added a couple more.

When they are in school, I play the role of dog walker. Otto is a bulldog which defines his need to exercise as moderate to none. Still, we need to pay attention to maintaining his lean physique. A 20 minute walk is about it. Since it is summer, this chore has transferred to the boys. I put the boys' names on the calendar, every other day from the day that school got out to when they leave for camp. Luckily, this ended up exactly even between the two of them. This was a relief, since Woe-To-ALL if things are not EQUAL and thusly UNFAIR to one or the other - - or so say my two lovers of great universal justice.

George the Younger, in his ever so easy going way, accepted this new chore as something-he-had-to-do, so there were no real issues. Henry, on the other hand didn't take to it so kindly. I got a lot of guff about him having to DO EVERYTHING and you'd have thought I had asked him to relinquish his only functioning kidney to an ailing three legged jackass. After some whining (on his part) and some yelling and threatening (on my part), the walk took place. This morning I only had to remind him twice to do it and then half-heartedly threaten a weekday grounding before the deed was done. In our house, if there is no yelling with Henry...it is a Good Day.

Next up was the addition of some general-household-chores. We began with learning to make a bed, hospital corners and all. This actually went pretty well. I wish I could say that they took to it like ducks to water, but the concept of why you would want to bounce a quarter off the sheets was lost on them. Obviously, we have not watched our share of movies entailing the requirements of boot camp. Time to get out Private Benjamin and an Officer and a Gentlemen. (and yes, I realize that these are "girl" boot-campy kind of movies, but for the life of me, I can't remember the titles of any other war movies except Tora Tora Tora and I don't think there were any boot camp scenes in that one...)

This weekend, we will be increasing the compilation by adding dusting and vacuuming to the repertoire. If I know my children, I am going to get some push-back here. I am prepared for all manner of whinging. I have witty repartee ready for all comments regarding human slavery and unfair labor practices. I am steeled for the dissension in my ranks. Henry has already been asked to empty all the garbage cans in the house over the past weekend and George had to sweep off two porches. I have visually confirmed that the blisters and physical exhaustion from these travails have abated. They are ready for more.

I think we are making progress. My ultimate goal is to ensure that they leave home with an arsenal of talents that will, at a minimum, stop any girl that they date from wondering, "Did your mother wipe your ass for you too?" This catalog of skills will include:

  • Setting a table properly (without the use of paper napkins thrown on the middle of the table)

  • Washing dishes (where indeed, there a complete absence of food shrapnel or grease residue)

  • Loading a dishwasher in a logical manner (It's like a puzzle people. Think about it, there's a way to get it all in there and if it's in there correctly and logically it's easier to get it out!)

  • Cooking something edible for dinner. Cooking one special "date" dinner just in case too.

  • Doing the laundry in color coordinated loads and folding said clean laundry so as not to render the actual washing of it an utter waste of time.

  • Making a bed the right way

  • Learning to dust and vacuum in the right order

I am sure that there are others - washing windows comes to mind - but I think that that is just the OC cleaning part of me coming out. And, there in lies the rub for my guys. I want them to know how to do all these things. It is IMPORTANT that they know all these things. But, the kicker is that they just happen to have this slightly OC person for a mom. It's going to take some fortitude to let them do it their way and then find a way for me to secretly do it again "the right way" without them knowing it. Hmmm, that seems wrong. Perhaps I am going to have to learn that sometimes it's just better that they do it their own entirely and utterly ineffective way and I am going to have to...well, I'm just going to have to "RELEASE". If George the Elder is reading this - - he is l-a-u-g-h-i-n-g. Ha Ha Snort Snort guffaw guffaw. Sure. Like that's gonna happen...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Reds Snag Division Title!

After a loooong season, the Reds emerged victorious on Wednesday night beating the Cubs 5 to 3 to become the San Francisco Little League American Division Champs. There was MUCH rejoicing.

We are so very proud of George the Younger! Kind of weird to know that he has played baseball in Japan, Germany and London only to finally win a championship right here on US soil.
So, it's on to the Tournament of Champions. Or the TOC as those in the "club" call it. The Reds will take on the Dixie-Terra Linda Little League next Tuesday the 19th. These are now single elimination games, so the whole TOC will take only about 10 days. If that's the case, I guess you could say that the TOC will be over in a Tick. (sorry about that one....)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hug for the Last Day

As I have mentioned in the past, the boys go to a nice little uber-liberal free-to-be-you-and-me, cozy educational cocoon of a school. They both love it there. I mean really love it there. But, to be honest, there are times when I have to try my best not to roll my eyes when there are things that I think are just a little over the top.

But, on Tuesday afternoon, what I thought was going to be one of those things (a little over the top) turned out to be quite an endearing end of the year tradition at the SFSchool. Last Day Hugs.

Thanks to my friend, Goldie, I was brought in to the loop on this unpublicized, but annual event. We headed over to the school, camera in hand, to capture the group hugging.

The kids were all still crammed in the all-purpose room finishing up the business end of things - have a great summer, remember to be a life-time-learner, embrace curiosity, remember to be kind to the earth, recycle, give back, yadda yadda yadda and then the final gong was sounded indicating the official end of the year. And yes, they really have a gong - it is also rung at the beginning of the school year. Bong, Bong, Bong. Now we symbolically begin. Now we symbolically end.

The teachers file out first followed by the graduating 8th graders who are the first through the line. Each teacher hugs each student. Then the 8th graders join the line and get to hug everyone else in the school.

As you can imagine, I'm initially thinking - - what a load of new age feel-good bunk is this - - but I confess that it didn't take long for me to well up at the scene. There I was having to throw my cynical views to the wind while watching these kids really connecting with their teachers.

What's was so great about it was that each teacher took the time to say something to each and every child. They were pretty much basted and marinated in uplifting, confidence building sauce for about twenty solid minutes as they heard from a line of 20 or so people that they were s-u-p-e-r!! I nearly got in line myself. Let's all drink that kool-aid...

And for those that remain unconvinced at the power of educators who truly care about their students, I submit the following. The first picture of George the Younger shows him being squashed and squeezed by his PE teacher - aka "Coach". Those who know him know that this is not surprising. Where the proof is in the pudding is photo #2. That's George the Younger in the embracing warmth of none other than the - - wait for it..... Music teacher. Now that's the SF School. Hug away.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Zoofest 2009

Last Friday night we went to Zoofest 2009 at the San Francisco Zoo. We were invited to go by some friends/neighbors that own and operate one of the tastiest Indian restaurants in SF. These, I might add, are great people to know! They, of course, were sponsoring one of the best food booths at the fest, so irrespective of what else the fest has to offer, I was taking my boys there. Just a little advice: When Roti is offering free food get thee to the table. You will not be disappointed.

In the end, the Roti food was fabulous, and over all it was a first-rate event. I mean, where else can you go to eat a wide variety of sumptuous victuals, get complimentary hoola hoops, witness your kids inhale enough cotton candy to sugar-hype even the most sugar resistant kid AND actually pet the cutest darn little hedge hog you ever did see?? All for the low low cost of ... Nothing.

The zoo was empty for the most part, so it was especially nice letting the boys run around (and between the three families we had 6 boys under 13 and one lone, but very capable girl!) without having to worry about running in to people or getting lost.

(A blog Aside: For those of you who have read my blog from the beginning, you may recall that I have a "thing" about people who take pictures of animals at the zoo. I would like to stake out a little exemption here. A little zoo-photography-exception-to-the-rule if you will....

Zoo Photography Deviation: Should you, or any member of your family be in the composed photo, especially if they are feeding said animal, this photo is acceptable. Also, should the animal in the zoo get close enough to your own face that you are able to determine either the number of hairs on his nose or make an informed decision that maybe some minty chewy biscuits are in order - you may take the photo. End of Blog Aside.)

Having carved out this special dispensation, I feel satisfied that I can move forward showing these photos. As you can see - - not only did we eat and imbibe. Not only did we pet exotic animals and get free rides on the carousel - - we got to feed giraffes.

There is even a photo of me feeding the giraffe. Yup, I am a sucker for handing over bits of greenery to VERY TALL creatures. There is something almost awe-inspiring about getting that close to a wild animal of that enormity. Of course, it is likely (probable) that this beast has never seen the exterior of a zoo enclosure, but still it is fun to imagine his life out there on the real Serengeti. Loping about doing mundane giraffe kind of things.

And finally, just da giraffe. Right up close -- she's got a super ginormous head! I wasn't meaning to take this photo, but I turned around to see where the boys were and there this was staring right at me. A little alarming, but luckily, I snapped the photo instead of screaming. I don't think the keepers would have taken kindly to me starting a little giraffe stampede. It would have been most disastrous if they had headed towards the food tent. Not much of a fest when wild animals are loose and the food has been trampled. Top notch of me to keep my cool, don't ya think?

Friday, June 5, 2009

The "Project"

George the Elder and I have been known to do some truly absurd things. Moving our family from country to country to country ranks right up there with people who would hardly move their kids in to a new neighborhood let alone transfer them to foreign shores. Three times.

Some would consider (and have commented aloud) that adopting two infants when one already has a perfectly normal 16 year old daughter at home ("perfectly normal" translates to highly volatile and hormonal, but generally self managing and a scant two years from heading off to college) as somewhat nonsensical. I believe that one comment was more on the lines of "Did you Lose your MIND or something??" And yes, there are days when I do wonder "why DID this make sense at the time?" But there are many more days when I don't entertain the wonderment at all. Those are the days when they boys have been perfect children and clean their rooms and don't mouth off and don't poke at each other or me and... Okay, maybe that's more like 50/50 split. (just joking! You know I LOVE my boys...)

But, as batty things go - - I think that this next one is going to take the proverbial cake for us. We are nearing closure on what I have recently and, I feel aptly, named "The Project". The question for George the Elder and I is this... We have been married for 16 years. We have worked together in the same office for more than 15 years. We have moved to three different countries. We are generally opposites in all things, but manage to overcome that. BUT can our relationship survive a mid-century-modern home renovation??? I fear that this is where the rubber will meet the road in our relationship. I am nervous.

Things are still in the works with contracts and contractors. We are interviewing and getting advice from architects and excavators and all manner of other professional do-things-to-homes people. We are excited and petrified at the same time. It's a lot of work. It means moving there and then finishing the designs and plans. Then moving again while the plans are being carried out. It means planning boards and HOAs and sewer lines and asbestos containment (just a wee bit). It means that George the Elder and I will be in constant negotiations about sink sizes and window fittings. We may likely harm each other over something as simple as a hall light fixture. He has IDEAS and I have IDEAS. Sometimes they are not the same. We are both stubborn. Who knew??

We are still not 100% "GO" - i.e. we still have a contingency left on the contract and we are working with loan processor who seemingly has not mastered the art of either making nor returning phone calls. He also appears to have difficulty with email. It's cranking me up. Luckily he's in NJ. He does have a really nice voice mail message that tells me how important I am to him and how XYZ Company is founded on customer service and partnership. I haven't yet left him a very long voice mail myself which would contradict everything that is in his voice mail message - - but that sh*t storm might come sooner rather than later if "Bunn" doesn't return my call. And yes, his real name in "Bunn" - - ah the possibilities there....

In the meantime, as George the Elder and I navigate the new waters of being potential home owners again in nearly a decade, as we ponder the beauty and overall "coolness" of a mid-century modern renovation, as we swim in the murky waters of "will we close or won't we close?", I will leave you with this last image.

This is one of the bathrooms in the house. Assuming we move forward with the plan I will need to use this bathroom in this state for approximately 5-6 months. I think that I will need to wear some sort of eye protection for the duration in this room. I am ordering a sign that warns users of potential seizure activity if exposed to this wall paper over periods greater than 10 minutes. Oh and this picture does not even come close to truly capturing the florescent boldness of the room. It has the ability to just SLAP you upon entering. Talk about the impact of a room.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Summer Plans or not

School ends in exactly 3 full days, two half days, one field trip to Angel Island (which needs drivers) and one extra half day of 8th grade graduation for which one child attends the graduation ceremony (playing the role of "audience") and the other child is already finished and stays home with me. Said more succinctly, my life takes on a new rhythm in exactly one week from today as the crow flies. I am not uber excited about this.

I am a bona fide staunch believer in the concept of year-round school. It's not that I don't like having my kids around - - cause I sure do. I postulate (with a higher than average degree of certainty) that I'm far from alone in this. In individual conversations with friends, we lament the same thing secretly together. We all love our children. We just have an issue with having them around for ELEVEN SEEMINGLY ENDLESS CONSECUTIVE weeks in a row. What is the US school system thinking? I pay my school taxes and yet, I am punished. Not fair. I am sorely missing the European / International school schedule that we had become accustomed to. While it is not technically year-round (which I have to believe is the capital standard of all learning curriculum) - it does have a much nicer (meaning longer) school year. Start in late August. Finish in late June.

This does not mean that the kids go to school any more days than they do here. It's just that the breaks are more frequent and spaced out over the year. Believe me you, it is FAR easier to plan something to keep them occupied during a two week break than it is to navigate the quilt work of summer camps and special programs that are necessarily woven together for most families to easily navigate ELEVEN WEEKS of summer.

Now lest someone I know call me on the carpet for this post, I willingly confess that I send my boys to camp for 5 of those weeks. Yes, I pack them up and ship them off to the wilds of New Hampshire from mid July to mid August. They have a great time. I have a great time. I write to them. They occasionally write to me. I get pictures of them every day. I miss them. They miss me. But over all, it is an exceptional experience for both parent and child. Given that they are gone for the lion's share of those ELEVEN CONSECUTIVE WEEKS - what's all the whinging about?

Hmmm. That's easy math. There's still SIX WEEKS left to fill. Part of me thinks that I should just let them be. Sort of a return to the 1960s where kids just hung around the neighborhood and planned things like hellacious water balloon fights and extended games of hide and seek that usually meant that you were just trying to get away from the crazy wall-eyed kid who lived three houses over and always smelled like pureed cauliflower.

But, the thing is, it's not the 1960s. Every other kid I know is scheduled up the wazoo with things like robot camp and tennis camp and band camp. And besides, thanks to the SF school system, even public school kids don't live in the same neighborhood as their friends. The backwash of this is that kids just don't leave their homes before lunch and come home before dinner to head out and hang with their buddies any more. There isn't anyone to hang out with. So, leaving them be for those 6 weeks is paramount to the following:
  • Copious amounts of TV watching
  • Abundant and voluminous nagging from me to stop watching said TV
  • Copious amounts of Wii and Computer time
  • Abundant and voluminous nagging from me to stop playing the Wii or the Computer
  • Dragging, pleading, whining and stomping when asked to PLEASE read something on the summer reading list
  • The planning and executing of play dates with those friends who are in between robot building, tennis playing and instrument instruction
  • Plentiful (more than plentiful) whining and grousing between and among two boys as a result of them just being brothers. Even the friendliest of animals are likely to bite each other when they are in captivity for too long.
  • The necessary patchwork of day trips to keep them busy. Idle hands ARE the devil's playthings. There can be no doubt about that.

In the end, who knows what I will end up doing with them. Rent them out to neighbors? Use our "members" pass to the Science Academy and the Exploratorium several times in a week? Wish upon wish that I had thought ahead and bought those season passes to Six Flags or Great America? Convince George the Elder that a summer mini-vacation to somewhere cheap with a pool would be the most generous gift he could give his family? Even if he isn't, say, actually able to accompany us? I'm scratching my head here.

If anyone has any perfect suggestions as to how they keep one mischievous 1o year old and one almost teenager (including the requisite frequent attacks of teenage ennui) could you please buy me a clue? It would be much appreciated.