Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sometimes You Get Beaned

This is George the Younger playing catcher at Sunday's bball game. This is my stellar ability to catch a photo of the ball trajectory only milliseconds before beaning him on his well protected noggin. The photo also captures that he has his eyes closed while awaiting the beaning.

There's a life lesson for all of us in the photo:

Sometimes you get beaned when you most expect to.

Sometimes you get beaned when you least expect to.

In either case, it's wise to keep your eyes closed while it's happening.

Better yet, when armed with the right tools, it makes the most sense to at least get your damn glove up to protect yourself.

Here's to keeping your own glove up. Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Insurance and Earthquakes

Alas, once again we have found ourselves living in a place where the threat of earthquakes is real. First Tokyo, the KING of earthquakes and now SF, a place of lesser royal descent. In Tokyo you get the "thrill" of feeling the earth shake on a regular basis, your kids have quake-preparedness-bags, you actually keep bottled water in your house and shoes by the bed. In SF, we are complacent. We know there was ONE. We suspect there will be another ONE. So, we prepare by talking about preparing, and of course, spending money on Earthquake insurance, "just in case."
Over the last weeks I have been in the process getting the right level of insurance for our belongings. During this pursuit, I have (unfortunately) come to know a few things I didn't really want to know about insurance:

  • Earthquake insurance is expensive. As in, "sorry kids, there'll be no college" kind of expensive.

  • There is a reverse correlation between what you pay and what you get. You PAY a shit-load for earthquake insurance and YOU get a thimble-full of coverage. Should an earthquake occur, I can maybe get my house rebuilt. What I can't do is replace anything that is actually contained in my house. The State of California regulates how much you can cover your "stuff" for. The maximum "stuff" coverage is $100,000. Seems like a lot of moola, doesn't it? Okay, but now take a quick second and calculate what you think it would cost to replace every thing in your house - every couch, every chair, every glass, every spoon, every item of clothing. Hmmmm? 100 grand doesn't seem to go as far you'd think, eh? But, there's an interesting catch to this - - - The interesting thing is that should your house collapse in an earthquake AND THEN BURST IN TO FLAMES - - - well in this disaster scenario, your regular insurance also kicks in with your earthquake insurance and you are covered for your regular "stuff" coverage. Now that I know this, you can bet that there will be some minor changes to the Wisniewski-Earthquake-Preparedness-Drill.

  • Things that are truly valuable are not technically covered under your "contents" insurance - neither in your regular policy nor your earthquake policy. You must carry these valuable things under a completely separate policy. AND, in order to carry these on your separate policy you must get some one to give you appraisals for all this stuff. (Might I just interject here that getting an appraisal on a couch is not the easiest thing in the world?) But, let's focus on artwork for a sec. See the above picture? I own this painting. I love this painting. I want to insure this painting. So I call the insurance agent. She says get an appraisal. I get a letter of value from a gallery owner that represents this guy. She says this is not good enough, I need a "real appraiser". I say that seems like a whole lot of appraising (aka $$$) for something that is a great painting, but not exactly a Renoir. We talk some more, bantering about the risk/reward of spending $1000 for an appraisal of a painting that's not by Picasso and right before we get off the line she interjects sort of off-handedly, "Well, you could always just get a letter from the artist." (Like this option has just occurred to her in the moment) Hmmm. So we go from needing to get an independent expensive appraisal to the artist just getting to say how much the thing is worth? I know the artist, I can get the letters. My question is - who says that the artist is right? I guess this doesn't matter. Still, food for thought. I'm thinking I can use this my advantage.

Now, armed with this essential insurance information, after the next BIG one in San Francisco the following events will happen in succession in the Wisniewski-Earthquake-Preparedness-Plan:

  1. We will grab the necessities and quickly and efficiently exit our home

  2. We will immediately torch our home using our craftily designed incendiary device which will have been installed to avoid detection from any pesky arson experts after the fact. We will be smart this way!

  3. We will claim on our insurance policy for our house, our stuff and... the one billion dollars each (say this with your best Dr. Evil imitation) for the slightly lopsided ceramic leopard crafted by Henry in London, the three small ceramic bowls used to hold paperclips and safety pins that Shannon made in 1993, and the triceratops-gecko-lizard-mutant sculpture that George made in Germany. We will be able to collect this amount because we will have the aforementioned "letters from the artists" to support our value.

Who'd have thunk it? Elementary school art paving the way to securing our financial future. And there I've been bitching about having to display (and dust) this stuff over the years. I was missing the whole boat. It's good to have a plan....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Two Down - none to go

Headed back to school again last night for the second in the series of 2009 back to school nights. This one was for the elementary school. Disappointingly, we didn't get any pithy humorous insights into the mind of a fifth grader from the head of the elementary school like last week's middle school soiree. It's probably just easier to make fun of middle-schoolers since their behavior is so damn obviously nutalicious!

We did the standard fare of meeting with the teachers . They did their spiel about what they were going to cover this year. And I must publicly confess that to me, all of their prepared comments sound a lot like white noise at this stage of the game. Why? I calculated yesterday afternoon that I have been to a grand total of TWENTY-NINE back to school nights in my parenting career. Holy crap.

This is why I only listen to a small part of what the teachers are actually saying. I get to "we're going to focus on diving deep in to the travails of Lewis and Clarke" and then HMMMBZZZZZZHMMMMMMBZZZZ. If, while heading to my car on the way out of back-to-school night, I was taken hostage by some nefarious terrorists and my very life depended on answering the single question of "What is Henry going to be covering in language arts this year?", I would be discovered several days later in an alley behind the SF School with a bullet in between my eyes.

I would be unable to answer since I was trying to see what in god's green earth Henry already had jammed in to his desk as of week three of school. What kind of mother am I that my give-a-damn about exactly what he is going to be studying in the "critical" fifth grade year is easily eclipsed by wondering why the hell he has so many pieces of crumpled up paper, three broken pencils, two mashed dixie cups and a pile of pencil shavings in his desk? Moreover, why is his desk so full of miscellany and his desk mates seem to have nothing in their desks at all? Is this a sign of some mental illness or malady? Or, is he just a slob? Many questions....

But, speaking of questions... While I was half listening to what can only be described as the wha-wha-wha of Charlie Brown's teachers, what I was decidedly half-listening for was when the teacher genuinely paused and asked the parents for questions. This never happened. Not once. Not the regular teacher, not the language arts teacher, the music, the art or the PE teacher (although what would you ask the PE teacher anyway - - but that's beside the point). Not one to be deterred by the lack of an invitation, I raised my hand at the end of the regular teacher's patter/jabber and blurted out, "What is your philosophy on home work and will the kids be getting any during the school year??"

You see, here we are at week 3 of school and Henry has had exactly ONE night of real home work. This lack of homework is driving me crazy - - cause if it's one thing I am balls on certain of as a parent is that idle hands ARE the devil's plaything. And the second thing of which I am crystal clear on is that when 6th grade rolls around Henry's going to be hit blind-sided with with the two-by-four-called-homework if he doesn't get some real practice in this year.

I'm not all for make-work just for the fun of it. Or, maybe I am? No, really, what I'm for is about 30-40 minutes of real applicable work that means he has to sit his happy tush down at the table for that long and GET. IT. DONE. ALL. BY. HIS. LONESOME. Instead, he rambles around the house gritching about how he's not allowed to do anything until George the Younger gets his homework done and why does it take him so long and why do I have to wait to watch TV until he's all finished and why do I have NOTHING to do this whole time and why do I have to.... Get the picture??? It's making me bat-shit. To use an overused idiom: If I had a nickle for every time I say "because" to Henry in the afternoon I would be able to hire someone to say it for me while I calmly finished reading the paper.

It doesn't look like there will be a change in the homework situation. The teacher gave us some pablum about how we all have busy lives and they already work so hard during the day at school and he doesn't believe in make-work and his teaching style is about the creative discovery method. This translated to me as, "I, as the teacher, am too damn lazy or busy to plan this out and implement it for your child." Good news is that I got a little pat on the back from about half the other parents who wanted to know the same thing I did.

At least I am not alone in my frustration. Little comfort this will be at 4:00 this afternoon when the Henry-banter begins again. I thought about creating some make-work-home-work for him myself. I mean, if you want something done right do it yourself, right? 'Cept, I have a little problem Houston. I have no idea what it is they are going to study. Note to self - next year pay attention in back-to-school night.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good TV

My sister was on the Today show this morning. She wasn't one of the feature stories such as the woman who was impregnated by some other person's embryos or the little girl who was nearly mashed by some car that backed up faster than lightening on to the 7-11 parking lot sidewalk but was miraculously saved by those cement posts that usually just make dents in your fenders, but this time actually served a purpose of saving some sweet kids life. Nope, she was just kooky enough to get up at the absolute butt crack of dawn to stand in line in front of Rockefeller Center for her close-up - right next to Al Roker.

She called me slightly after my own pacific coast butt crack of dawn - knowing, with some degree of certainty, that I would be awake already yelling at the kids - oops - I mean getting my loving off-spring ready for their day at school. She was on TV!! Turn on the TV!! We turned on the TV - a real treat for the non-daytime TV family that we are - and waited to see her. And - YUP! There she was. Smiling for the camera with her bright pink poster proclaiming her success at scaling Kilimanjaro which was recently signed by one of the hosts (sorry Deb, can't remember what her name is). Very cool.

I have to say it's a bit hinky seeing your relatives on TV. I suppose that the siblings of, say, Katie Couric, are immune to it by now - - but we aren't a TV appearing family on the whole - so, it was a little bit of a thrill. Hey!! I KNOW HER!!! Kind of thing. And since it was a nice benign TV appearance, I admit to musing on how incredibly grateful that I wasn't seeing her being hauled away in cuffs or running from the cop car into the courthouse with her head ducked down or covered by a bath towel - cause then I would have to have to come up with a deeply witty version of the standard response in the interview of the perp's relatives where they say something like "Honestly! I've known her my whole life and had no indication whatsoever that she planned to walk naked through the NYSE!! I am shocked!!"

In other words, I am grateful that my family is not amazingly newsworthy, but just has the dedication to rise before the sun and eagerly wait in line, sign in hand, just to be seen on morning television just for fun. So, Aunt Deb! Way to go getting your mug on national TV! You looked great....

Monday, September 21, 2009

The tree

Saturday was a nice sunny day here in the bay area. The perfect day to send all boys outside to do some boy things. They decided on a little football toss on the front sidewalk. Football in hand they headed out the door - peace settled inside the house and I started working on the "application package" to our HOA for the remodel.

Soon, I was immersed in all things "neighbor-notification" and I wasn't paying too much attention to the fact that my silence had been broken with the sound of the door opening and slamming closed a few times. At the fourth slamming, I noticed Henry come in the kitchen to retrieve the broom. A highly suspect activity since the only time Henry uses a broom is when I am standing over him forcibly making him sweep up some mess or other he has created. Still, I thought to myself - ooooh! Maybe he's going to sweep the front porch! I briefly considered telling him to go and get the "outside broom" from downstairs, but then I thought, "What a sweet kid to just up and sweep the porch of his own accord?" so I let it go.

Slam number five indicated Henry's arrival back in the house about three minutes later. I was again optimistic that perhaps he was just back fetching the dustpan. You know - - any job worth doing is worth doing well and all that? But, instead, he reached for the mop. Hmmm. I was damn sure he wasn't going to swab the sidewalk - - so my curiosity was peaked. I had to get up and check it out.

Alas, I should have gotten up two slams earlier. I arrived on the front porch to find not only the football stuck in our holly tree (which was oddly trimmed to resemble the kind of tree you might see on the cover of a Candyland in previous efforts to "market" the house prior to the sale) - but my "inside" broom was unceremoneously sticking out of the top of the tree where it had been sent as a projectile to try to unjam the ball. All three boys were noodling to think of the next best thing to throw at both the broom and the ball. Hence, the mop. So, before they were able to sacrifice yet another household cleaning implement to the stuff-eating-holly-tree. I gently suggested a ladder might be helpful here.

George the Elder was first up. There is no photo of this, as George the Elder is not a big fan of heights. I had to stay and spot him. This doesn't make much sense since logically, if he was to fall off the 10 foot ladder, there are only two not-so-good outcomes. One, my flight/fight response would kick in and I would impulsively step out of the way to avoid being crushed by the big thing that was falling out of the sky - OR two, I would try to catch my husband as he plummeted to the ground. The first would result in only one person having to visit the emergency room. The second option likely would have rendered us both needing an EMT and left without anyone to drive us there. As fate would have it, he didn't fall and was able to retrieve the broom.

Without a whole lot of urging or convincing, George the Elder stepped down from the ladder of doom and allowed George the Younger to take over. Luckily, after several good "pokes" with the broom - and some directional advice from Henry who stood on the porch and yelled LEFT LEFT when George the Younger should have been going RIGHT RIGHT until I figured out that the whole mirror image thing needed some coaching - the ball popped out and the day was saved.

I never did get the chance to finish the HOA stuff. After the excitement of using the ladder - Henry decided that he was done with football. Oh well, I got a good 30 minutes in before the extraction was necessary.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Stupid is as....

In thrilling news, I attended the SF School middle school back to school night last evening. The head of the middle school gave an informative and humorous opening talk about the mental and social state of your basic middle schooler. And while I appreciated all her stats and figures, all the research in the world wasn't necessary to remind me that yes... middle schoolers are a special kind of nuts.

Presently, I am trying to get a grip on the difference between female middle-schooler (for which I have experience, e.g. Shannon) and male middle-schooler (for which I have no experience, e.g. George the Younger). Females: lots of intense verbiage, overt stressing over things like friends, clothes, who-say-what-to-whom-when-and-how-did-this-effect-my-social-life, cute boys, non-cute boys, lots of tears, some screaming, and early PMS. Boys (so far in my experience): Increased non-verbiage, lowering of voice, realizing that there are "cool" and "not cool" guys at school and wanting to be one of the cool ones, clothes, more frequent use of hair gel and the absolute inability to remember anything that went on during the entire school day.

I can confidently say that there is at least one commonality between the two - - a ramped up snarkiness in every day tone of voice. In some respects, this surliness makes the whining that they did as toddlers pale in comparison. That is because it is this particular tone of voice that is the clear and unequivocal sign to all parents that, in the minds of our own children, we are relentlessly becoming more stupid and obtuse as the sun sets on each day.

If you could see your head the way your middle-schooler sees your head it would look like your face, but it would be eerily surrounded by a fizzy little cloud of brain information that is leeching out of both ears and nostrils in equal and unceasing amounts. They can see this like a good psychic can see your glowing aura. We, as parents, can not see this as we are neither mediums nor middle-schoolers. By the time these kids get to high school, they are confounded as to how we lucky we are that our heads have not collapsed from the increased pressure on the outside pushing against the vacuum left behind on the inside. Their befuddlement is augmented in later years as by this time they have been studying at least basic physics. Shouldn't our heads have deflated?? It's against the laws of nature and yet - we still carry those empty orbs around making their lives a living hell as if by sheer will and magic.

So, as our children become "smarter" and crazier, we become "dumber" and crazier. Now there's a combination that makes the teenage years an interesting conundrum and challenging period. I'm so looking forward to it!

But, for now - - middle-years: here we are!! May the best man win. I've got my money on me. Brain or no.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Yesterday I received an announcement via my email account that I got my first Twitter "follower." What great news! I felt blissfully gleeful. I mean, how flattering is it that a complete stranger (at least to me, as I have no earthly idea who "lisa" is) is unabashedly curious as to what twittering tidbits I have to say at random moments during the day?

The curious thing is however, I do not Twitter. I have never posted a Tweet. I, at this moment in time, have no intention of being a Tweeter. For the purposes of explanation - I do have a Twitter account. I got it so that I could "follow" this guy called "shitmydadsays" - possibly some of the funniest dollops of droll that I have read. He is laugh-out-loud kind of funny. But, the difference here is that HE has some truly chuckle-inducing things to say, while the little extemporaneous snippets that I would have opportunity to post during any regular day would be hmmm - how could I say this??? Oh yeah - yawn-inducing.

I've thought about what my slapdash thoughts would be during my typical day. The might go something like this:
  • Woke up boys this morning. Henry managed to get out of the house without me having to scream like a banshee, threaten to call Nanny 911 or tear hair out. Banner morning.
  • Had breakfast. Am loving those Oatmeal squares and can physically feel my cholesterol dropping with each crunchy bite.
  • Confused about what to make for dinner! Is pasta three days in a row a mortal sin? Should I start watching Rachel Ray???
  • Spent some time at our local Safeway. Amazing! They are now making cinnabears in a new shape. Tiny little dots! I am humbled by their innovative skills.
  • Picked boys up from school. Got to car pool lane right on the dot between elementary pick up and middle school pick up. I am a God.
  • Made deal with both boys that if they didn't bitch once about going to Kumon that I would buy them milkshakes afterwards in a preemptive strike against the onslaught of whining. It worked. Best spent $8 of the week.
  • Helped with son #2's math homework. Had to use Google to recall that when dividing fractions you need to flip one upside down. Tried to read why this worked, still didn't understand it, but luckily was distracted by son #2 who needed to write free form poem about dog.
  • Cooked dinner. Thai sesame noodles congealed in to a large peanut/sesame mass. Failure at new recipe. I suck.
  • Washed dishes after dinner. Am over the moon that the new Method dish washing liquid that I purchased smelled deliciously like cucumbers. FAR superior to the lemony scents of the past.
  • Managed to get Henry to adhere to his bedtime of 9:00 without resorting to hauling him in there kicking and screaming by his right ear. Considered making him take a shower, but couldn't face the onslaught of refusal. Banner night.
  • Tried to convince George the Younger that perhaps reading might be a more worthwhile pastime than trying to watch all the day's sports replays on ESPN. Was not successful.
  • Folded laundry exceptionally well. Started dishwasher with aplomb. Considered the merits of dusting tomorrow.

Hardly the stuff of epic reporting. But, GOSH! Somebody seemingly wants to hear this stuff. They must lead a small, small life. Shoot, even I would be bored reading my own Tweets! Sometimes when I am talking to George the Elder on the phone while he is working, he says "gotta get this!!!!!" - signalling that his phone is ringing with some important call. Me thinks it is just a ruse. (I never can hear the phone ringing - he needs to work on this part of the farce!) Still, if I were him I would do the same thing. Listening to me recount the intricacies of why the new Pledge doesn't work as well as the old Pledge is not exactly high intrigue. Honestly.

There are days (can you tell?) when I miss my life of working. There were things that were interesting to talk about with colleagues. There were the occasional lunches out where we talked about something other than the latest cleaning products or noodled endlessly over why boy #1 behaved badly on the four square court during recess at school the other day. But, then again, I know that my guys like having me here - and that it is good that I am here for them. And, for the most part, I like having me here as well. It's just those times when you remember that you used to be interesting, that you used to contribute to the financial bottom line instead of just being a G&A drag, and that you used to be able to let someone else consider the ramifications of what will happen if, God Forbid, the vacuum cleaner didn't get run today - well, on those days - I sometimes fantasize about having a blackberry for some other purpose that to read that someone was interested in reading my non-existent Tweets.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Today I went to the SF architectural home tour with a friend. We saw lots of very cool things.

Sadly, we saw lots of the same things in each of the six houses. It was kind of weird. It's like all the architects went to the same school and said what we need in all houses is: cool glass tile in the bathrooms, floating vanities, square sinks, kitchens with large granite (or concrete) islands, a long shag area rug (preferably in a bright color like orange or red), hardwood floors (combined with polished concrete if you could fit them in to say the entry way or garage), steel cable railings and stairways with glass landings. Sure, each house had something interesting, but taken all together they were oddly similar. Imagine going to a house tour in the 70s - the big thing would have been avocado kitchen appliances and the newest in electric ovens and cooktops. Several decades from now, the aforementioned look will be known as the the "turn 'o the century" architectural chic.

I also came away with what I realized is a "must-have" for my new home. If I am ever going to achieve the most zen interior decoration in my kitchen it was obvious that I must only have one thing and one thing only displayed on the whole of the open surfaces of my remodeled kitchen. That one thing is a long rectangular platter/dish/wooden tray that holds exactly five gloriously shiny apples in a single row. It didn't seem to matter whether these were green or red apples, but there must be five, AND they must be in a row. This was in all six houses, on all six counter tops. Why? I don't know. What happens if you eat an apple? Do you have to replace it so as always to have five? Or are these five just some feng shui thing - you know an offering to the Great House Protection Dragon- and should never be eaten? I have some research to do before we complete our remodel. And there I thought I was just going to have to decide on counter tops and cabinets. Now I gotta start worrying about fitting in the glass tiles and keeping the Great House Dragon at bay. So many things to do...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My aching Hands

In yesterday's Chronicle there was a GIANT full page ad. The headliner is some three inch letters pronouncing:

"Doing Dishes
could be a splash...and is just one of the daily activities you may be able to do with less pain and stiffness"

The ad is for a new drug called HUMIRA that has been developed for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Not to minimize the daily suffering of the folks afflicted with this crippling disease - but I'm thinking to myself, if I had constant pain all friggin day long, that maybe, just maybe, the washing of flatware may not be any where near the top ten list of things that I would wish I had less pain doing. In fact, I'm thinking to myself that if you have a chronic disease that might preclude you from performing some of the less appealing daily chores, well - - wouldn't that be the one good thing that could come out of it? Sorry, I can't do the dishes - - someone else will just HAVE to.

Beyond that, let's say that doing the dishes was the ONE thing that you really really really wanted to be able to do with less pain. I suspect that you would then need to measure achieving that goal against the side effects of the drug. No problem. The risks in the ad are clearly separated by risks in BOLD, risks in normal type and risks in tiny type. So as not to be a kill joy, let's just focus on the one in BOLD...

"Serious infections have happened in patients taking HUMIRA. These infections include tuberculosis (TB) and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that have spread through the body. Some of these infections have been fatal."

I'd be predisposed to stop right there if I were the one that was deciding. We're talking about scrubbing pots, for Pete's Sake! It wasn't as if they had offered me no pain while being able to continue my life's work as someone who simultaneously installs irrigation systems in the Kalahari while fixing cleft palates on indigent children in the evening. Nope. The best they can come up with is the ability to painlessly remove baked on grease like walking on air.

But, let's say I decide that the risk of TB is acceptable so that I can resume washing dinner plates with ease. I must then consider the "lesser risk" category. Here we have certain types of cancers, allergic reactions, hepatitis B viral reactivation (did you have this before??), nervous systems problems, blood problems, heart failure, and certain immune disorders including lupus-like syndrome (good news that it appears that it's only a lupus look alike. Not the REAL they got that going for them...).

Hmmmm. Big big decision. I'm gonna have to go with no. Unless this drug gives me something a whole lot better than the ability to fill up the sink with hot soapy water and go to town on the piles of Thanksgiving dinner dishes - while coincidentally impaired with the agony of an horrific moist hacking TB cough, a relentless tic in both eyes, the inability to remember why I wanted to dishes in the first place, punishing and sustained sneezing and itching over 90% of my body, and a couple of cancerous carbuncles on both of my knees - I'm just not sold.

Sorry HUMIRA. You need a better marketing team.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to our regularly scheduled programming

School started exactly one week ago today. It only took me 7 whole days to get these photos published. Obviously I am experiencing transition issues. By next week I should be able to manage myself, get the boys ready and out the door, get all my stuff done and be prepared to get my butt over the school and pick them up on time. (it should be noted, although not celebrated, that I was late to pick the boys up after the first day of school. I am a putz). Further, as of the end of next week, I should have the new after school schedule of Kumon, tutoring, piano lessons and cooking classes down as well. I am not, however, guaranteeing that dinner will be prepared or served. I think that that's asking just a bit too much.

So, without further ado - the photos from the first day of school...

The first is Henry hanging with his buddies before the start of the First-day-of-school festivities. I snapped this picture just in time. The next three parents that tried it were rebuked. I got the only good one. I am nice. I shared.

The second is George hanging on the green-top with his fellow 7th graders. They are all dreading the First-day-of-school festivities as they are far to cool to be rolling with dat kinda infantile celebratin....

So, here's a run down of the celebratin. First, all classes line up behind these red flags by grade. A bag pipe and drum duet begins to lead them in to the multipurpose room. Parents cheer and clap, teachers cheer and clap. It's a whole lotta aren't-we-happy-to-have-you-back (I think that the sentiment is slightly different between the parents and the teachers, but the clapping is relevant either way...) A canopy of red flags creates an entrance way into the room. Each child passes through the entrance way and is embraced by the head master (more hugging - - please see the post entitled "Hugs for Last Day" posted in June - I have a suspicion that you can link to this, but I am no IT wizard, so just find it on the sidebar) - point here being, WE ARE THE SF SCHOOL AND WE LOVE TO HUG. People, trees, whatever.

Here's the canopy of happy flag holders:

And here's George entering in to the loving arms of the 7th grade through the canopy. He wouldn't stop for the paparazzi. He's so cynical already...

But Henry still stops and mugs for Mom's camera because he still doesn't understand that it's not cool to do that.

And this is where the photos end. Parents are not permitted in to the inner sanctum of the multipurpose room. Not because anything suspicious goes on in there. It's just damn crowded.

So to end the celebrating - after all the hugs, the wee tiny 1st graders enter to a standing ovation by all the grades. They are so little. The 8th grades are men and woman - all in 7 short short years. It is a visual growth chart. Scary - but I don't think that the little guys parents are paying attention. They are pressed up against the windows, trying to see their wee child enter the mysterious world of elementary school. The rest of us wizened parents of older kids are more likely to be hanging back chatting and catching up - - only to be admonished by the headmaster when he finally starts his speech.

Once the head master is done, we all break out in Jumbo Bwana (the official Swahili welcoming song), we do the earth rap (reminding up to be green), we have the ritual of pouring water (this entails a bit of water starting in a 1st grader's cup - and it is poured from glass to glass held by a representative in each grade's class all the way up to 8th grade. This represents the passage of the wonder of learning that the first graders still have oodles of but the sardonic 8th graders are woefully short on. Then the water is poured in reverse. This represents the knowledge being passed down from the oldest to the youngest. Finally, the poor little first grader then needs to take a sip of the much passed water).

And last, but not least, we experience the ringing of the gong. The oldest child in the school and the youngest little first grader take turns striking a BIG gong (big student) and little gong (little student). After the ritual ringing of the gong.... school is officially in session. All parent runs to their cars to head home and savor the moment. Q-U-I-E-T reigns again in the morning.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

They're officially older

George the elder was responsible for photography this year. We're gonna have to get him some lessons or something. But - yes, the boys are officially one year older! Henry = 11 George the Younger = 13. Yes, after 16 years between the two, we now have another teenager under our roof.

Given the circumstances of the shared birthday, I had the boys pick a number between 1 and 10 to determine who would have their birthday dinner on the "real" day and who was going to take the alternative. Henry won the game, but still decided to have his b-day dinner the day before on the 1st.

Henry, as in previous years decided on a sushi feast for dinner. I personally applaud this decision as it means that I do not have to cook. I need to make a phone call. Certainly, it is possible for one to make home made sushi. It is just not possible in this house.

Henry's dessert decision was a little more interesting. In planning discussions, Henry stated that he wanted a cake, with pudding in the middle and chocolate on the top. I explained that this was called a Boston Cream Pie. He retorted that he didn't want a pie, he wanted a cake. I told this was a cake with a pie name. He wanted to know why. I would like to know the same thing. Surely there's a website that explains the reason, I have just been too busy to find it.

And so, with H as my copilot we made a Boston Cream Pie. If you recall, I put the majority of our household things in boxes and placed them in safekeeping in some dark storage room somewhere in the city of San Francisco while we work through our impending home remodel. What I learned Tuesday was this. If you are thinking that at any time during the year you will need to make a cake or some kind of homemade dessert type thing that requires mixing - bringing some kind of mixer along (be it hand or stand) would be appropriate. I did neither. Henry and I whisked until we couldn't whisk any longer. We were tired. And yet, while the cake was not nearly as aerated as it could have been and the custard was probably not nearly as creamy as it could have been - all in all the "pie" was a success. In fact, the boys had it for breakfast this morning. (And a note to my family members - yes, I did have the eerie feeling that Dad was channeling his love of Boston Cream Pie through Henry... I mean really? Who in the 21st century, under the age of say 70, requests such a confection? And given that Dad's birthday is coming up, do you suppose that he had the perfect conduit in Henry? Me thinks this was too much of a coincidence.)

George the Younger celebrated much the way he did last year by requesting fettuccine with cream sauce, prosciutto ham and peas. Given that he is reasonable sort, he also requested the traditional Baskin and Robbins ice cream cake with mint chip and chocolate cake. That one was easy. Especially since all I had to do was drive to B&R and pay some absurd amount for them to squish that ice cream on top of a premade chocolate cake and ice it with some weird substance that never really melts - what is that stuff?? George the Elder arrived home early to make dinner. I don't know whether it was because he just really wanted to make the cream sauce for his newly minted teen or if he was concerned that if I made the cream sauce it would not be up to snuff. Frankly, I don't care. I arrived home from taking the boys swimming after school to dinner already underway. Yippee!

So, all in all the joint birthday this year was perfect. I technically only made one dessert and out-sourced the rest. A managerial dream. I forgot that I did make two dozen brownies on Tuesday for Henry to take in as his bday treat. But that's just some more stirring since I let Betty Crocker do the rest there. On a sad note, George the Younger was informed yesterday that middle-schoolers are not allowed to bring in treats for their birthdays at all this year. Amidst the happy chatter that followed pick-up yesterday - these words were spoken: it sucks getting older. Yeah, until he wolfed down a mega sized portion of mint chip and opened his new ipod speakers....