Friday, December 29, 2006

There's no stopping entropy

At the beginning of 2006, I outed myself as a Surface Area Abuser and vowed to fight entropy, the tendency of the universe to move toward a state of disorder. It was pure hubris to think that I could subdue a universal force. My house looks pretty much the same now as it did a year ago.

Today author Gayle Brandeis has a wonderful post, a year-end gift, really. For those of us who don't put housekeeping at the top of our to-do lists it's an affirming must-read. Check it out here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Family Craft Night

DH and the boys were gearing up to microwave some popcorn and watch a bit of Lord of the Rings when I buzzed into the kitchen and ruined their plans.

Guess what, guys? It's family craft night! I have an art project for us!

Much whining ensued.


Once I got DH to quiet down, though, I was able to convince the boys how much fun we'd have painting together. I bought each family member an eight-inch high letter to decorate in colors that complement my and DH's newish bedspread, so we can finally put something up on our walls.


It's the "good art must match the sofa" school of decorating along with a little influence from the, "we've lived here for nearly a decade, maybe we should make it look like our home" school of design.


We sat and painted happily for over 30 minutes--a welcome reminder of what life is like without homework. The whining didn't start up again until until the boys realized how much of their LOTR time they'd used up making art.


We are all pleased with the results. As a proud mama, I should mention that Splinter contributed greatly to my beautifully decorated K.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Smartypants, on his mother wearing make-up

Much to the surprise of my children, I wore a bit of make-up earlier today.

Smartypants: Mom, you look different.

Me (cheerful): Yeah, I'm wearing make-up. What do you think?

Smartypants moves in close to examine my face: Well, your eyes are kind of glittery and sparkly. It sort of makes you like you have alien skin.

Circle of Life

The last time I tried to reference The Circle of Life was in a conversation with Smartypants when he was about three years-old. A neighbor's dog had died on the same day a friend of ours had a baby. A death, a birth...the circle of life...get it?

He looked at me with big somber eyes. "Do you mean Simba died, too?"

But with the silkworms, we saw it all. From the poppy seed-like eggs to the three-inch caterpillars to cocoons and then the mating moths and their tiny eggs. The circle of life.

If you'd like to try your hand at sericulture, check out the SilkwormShop.com (note their link to my blog!) or Carolina Biological Supply, the company that sent me a gazillion more eggs than I ordered. It's a fun project, just don't let more than 15-20 eggs hatch at a time.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Unique Gift Idea

Here's a great idea for:

someone who needs to provide a last-minute gift,

post-menopausal women who still have a few old supplies on hand,

crafty folk,

cheapos,

or folks like me who are spending so much on medical care due to lousy insurance plans that there's not a whole lot left over for gifts.

Maxi-pad slippers!

Who wouldn't love to find these cushy handmade slippers under the tree or close to the menorah (but not too close because they might catch fire). And they will come in handy when someone spills their eggnog! I couldn't get the picture to load; you'll have to click to see what they look like. And if you want to try your hand at making a pair, look here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

You will not believe what's going on in my bedroom!

It's a moth orgy! Four more moths have hatched. Maybe all those potent pheromones released in such a small enclosed space are confusing the dear things. In recent hours it seems like, well, they say homosexuality exists throughout the animal kingdom and I think I've got some proof now.

If you find things like moth mating habits titillating, check out the funny, informative and eye-opening book, Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex.

If you've never used the words "hilarious" and "evolutionary biology" in the same sentence, it's only because you haven't read this book. Author Olivia Judson uses a Dear Abby-like Q and A format to spotlight a spectrum of enlightening reproductive strategies. If evolutionary biology ain't' your thang, then just read the questions and skip over the answers.

From the jacket: This best-selling guidebook to sex reveals when necrophilia is acceptable, how to have a virgin birth, and when to eat your lover. It also advises on more mundane matters--such as male pregnancy and the joys of a detachable penis.

Oh, wait, did I mention that the book discusses the mating strategies of lower forms of life? (Insert your joke about a past lover here.) Granted, I'm a geeky former zoology major, but how could you not be intrigued?

Seven moths a-mating

We all know birds do it and so do bees. I saw bears do it at the zoo when I was about 10 and the summer I spent as a dolphin trainer I witnessed more cetacean sex than I needed to, but, wow, moths. Whoa. I never even dared to imagine (or should I say fantasize?) the mechanics of moth reproduction.

It just doesn't get more boring than these moths. The male is attracted to the female and finds her due to the powerful pheromones she gives off, but let's face it, how hard could it be to find each other in the 4 X 4-inch box that is their home?

So they meet, they connect and, no really, they connect. They look like conjoined twins attached at their nether-regions. DH took some pictures, but I can't get comfortable with sex pictures from our bedroom posted on the Internet, even if they only feature tiny insects.

I noticed around 7:00 PM that we had our first mating pair and when I checked again the next morning, they were still going at it. Of course by going at it I mean only that they were still coupled. The occasional fluttering of wings assured me they were still alive.

One of six year-old Splinter's stated goals for the school science fair was to "see the moths mate." (He came up with that on his own; I'm not sure what he expected.) So I called him over to take a look and he left the room, unimpressed, about 20 seconds later.

The moths' sole purpose is to mate in order to propagate the species. They are not equipped to eat or drink during this phase of life, so clearly their energy is limited. They gotta take it slow. They will only live a few days, so why not spend most of their time mating? What else have they got to do? I mean, they can't even fly.

It looks like I'll be a silkworm granny any day now.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A-B-C-D-E-F-G sericulture is not for me! Or is it?

Enough dabbling in sericulture (raising silkworms for those of you who are too lazy to click), I decided to throw out the remaining cocoons. They clearly housed underachieving duds who couldn't hack metamorphosis. Or maybe I didn't follow the instructions very well and left the cocoons in a spot that was A) too noisy, B) too cold, C) too bright or D) all of the above.

But as I prepared to sweep them off to the compost heap something caught my eye. A moth! I made a moth! It was every bit as exciting as when the first egg hatched. For the record, I am not being sarcastic. A small, joyous celebration ensued.

Another moth hatched within a day. One large (female) and one small (male). Moldofsky and Sons Silkworms, Etc. will soon be open for business. Strike that, I've made arrangements to donate the eggs to suitable homes.

But I am counting my eggs before they're fertilized or laid.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Does this mean we SHOULD sweat the small stuff?

Richard Carlson, author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and other motivational books, recently died of... a heart attack? He was only 45. How sad.

What does this tell us about lightening up and letting go? I'm thinking my 70 year-old dad should pen a motivational tome. Something like, How to Make Your Waitress Cry, How to Rip that Stupid UPS Guy a New One, and Other Secrets to a Long Life.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Troubling News

I'm not one to get hyped up over e-mails about child abductions fowarded to me by well-meaning friends. Very few children are randomly kidnapped. And most such incidents have to do with estranged family members. I'm too lazy to lay out the statistics, but go ahead and Google away to see for yourself.

But this chilling story about a case of random sexual abuse is straight out of this morning's Chicago Tribune, so I assume it's legit. It literally and figuratively strikes way too close to home.

According to the paper, an 8 year-old boy was playing video games in a Mt. Prospect Wal-Mart while his mom shopped elsewhere in the store. A "man 'stalked' the boy in the electronics aisle before police believe he 'led [the boy] away to another part of the store and sexually abused him,'" according to a police officer. The boy told his mother and she alerted the store management and they contacted the police.

Granted, I don't step into my local Wal-Mart, but every time we head to Target the boys beg to play the video games. It's always under my watchful eye, but as they get older they need more space and independence. I mean, you can't drag your 9 year-old boy into a women's restroom or locker room. As noted here, I've tried to discuss issues of boundaries and acceptable behavior, but, ah, not always very successfully (click the link).

Back in my childless days I visited a friend with a newborn. I couldn't understand how she could ever let the baby out of her sight. I mean, what if the kid stopped breathing or something? Then I had my own child and I learned to relax, let go and trust (okay, some who know me may argue this point a bit), but it's a scary world out there.

Maybe you do it better than me. Any advice?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

ToC Review: Death by PowerPoint

Cross-posted at AustinMama.

I just received a review copy of what appears to be a cheeky, yet helpful, new book, Death by PowerPoint: A Modern Office Survival Guide by Michael Flocker (De Capo Press). Although it doesn't target on-ramp parents it promises to be much more relevant than the Comeback Moms, a disappointing (but not totally useless) book that came out this past summer.

I haven't yet read the book, so for now, I'll just review the Table of Contents.

Death by PowerPoint includes chapter titles that really speak to me. Titles like: The Lives of Drones and Workers. Apparently I've got a future as a drone, so I am definitely going to check out that chapter. Plus, it's the first chapter so it's too early in the book to start skipping around.

It's also got chapters on dress as well corporate politics and lingo.

It even has a chapter on sex in the workplace. Hmmm, maybe going back to work is more fun that I thought!

Oh wait, the final chapter is about preserving one's soul in a soulless business world. Ouch.

I'll be back in a week or two with highlights. Don't be daunted; it looks like a quick read. It's just that unless Santa brings me a week of laundry, meal, cleaning, and childcare services, these next couple of weeks will be packed.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm all lost in a supermarket

Early Sunday morning while you were still sleeping I was at the grocery store trying to beat the crowds. The early bird gets the worm and the early Moldofsky gets a carton of uncracked eggs produced by cage-free hens on vegetarian diets.

Apparently we are not the only Skokians who favor organic and natural products; the local Jewel recently added aisles of such products. Except they didn't expand the store. In order to fit all this supposedly healthy ("big organic" Michael Pollan calls it) stuff in they had to completely rearrange the shelves.

Dazed and Confused

It was completely disorienting to head down the kosher food/bread/olives and jelly aisle only find organic this and whole grain that.

The cereal aisle is now filled with natural juices and the cracker aisle now houses baking supplies. Or something like that.

The other early-morning shoppers and I commented sympathetically to each other.

"I planned to make a quick trip to the store, but it's taking me forever. I can't find anything."

"Did you say you were looking for juice? I just saw it in aisle 4."

Eventually I managed to get most everything on my list- except for tomato puree. I realized this when I was in the checkout line, but I couldn't just run quick for it like I might have only a week ago. Okay, so the minestrone soup was a little thin, my kids were none the wiser.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A holiday song from Splinter

To the tune of Jingle Bells

Dashing through the snow
on a pair of broken skis
down the hills we go
smashing into trees

The snow is turning red
it soon is time to leave
and we when leave we're gonna
eh-eh-explode

Jingle bells
Batman smells
Robin laid an egg
Batmobile lost its wheel

Joker ran away, hey!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hoorah for the Bra!

Don't worry about TMI; No personal stories here. Hoorah for the Bra is a book that popped out at me on a recent trip to Borders. No, wait, the always supportive Super DH actually handed it to me.

Once I figured out how to get that damn closure unhooked I got an eyeful of pop-up goodness on the topic of bras. Yes, it's a pop-up book!

This fun book by Cheree Berry provides a light overview of bra history complete with a decade-by-decade glimpse of bras of the 20th century. It starts out with a high-minded comment: "The brassierre's development...illustrates how women have challenged their bras
to become a symbol of womanhood," but does not read like a textbook for a womyn's study class; mostly it's just fun and informative.

This is the breast, I mean best, bra book ever. It'd make a great gift for a girlfriend whose spirits (or boobs) need a lift.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The problem with viewing an entire season of Six Feet Under in less than a week combined with too much web surfing

It makes you say stuff like:

Honey, if I die unexpectedly, will you make bobbleheads of me and pass them out at the funeral?

(Okay, the bobblehead thing was also partly inspired by season two of The Office--US version.)

Bethca can't watch just one!

It's the 30-second Bunny Theatre-your favorite movies acted out by bunnies and condensed down to only 30 seconds!

You can watch them all in just one 15-minute break! You do know you that here in the U.S. your required to give you a 15-minute break for every four hours of work, don't you?

Click here to get started.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New essay in Chicago Parent

I have an essay about our experience with Mr. Smartypants in first grade (at public school) in this month's Chicago Parent magazine. You can read it here. The print edition was heavily edited due to space constraints, so I encourage everyone to check out the online version.

You will notice that in the accompanying photo both boys are holding books from their favorite series- Secrets of Droon for Smartypants and Magic Tree House for Splinter. Smartypants is the king of product placement. He told me he wanted to make sure the book was highlighted so he could proudly send a copy of it to Tony A, author of the Droon books.

During the fall of his first grade year Smartypants read through the entire Droon series, roughly 23 books at the time, in about six weeks. "Isn't this a little unusual?" I asked the school. "How nice that your son loves to read," they responded. The more I attempted to explain (and understand) his obsessive reading habits, the more they saw me as an obsessive mom.

Whatever. Smartypants is happy at his private school for gifted kids. He enjoys school, has friends(!) and learns at his level. In case you're feeling generous, let me remind you that he's got a campaign going to help build a new campus for said school.

When he was in first grade, Smartypants wrote a fan letter to Droon author, Tony Abbott, and over the course of a year, they exchanged about seven letters. Smartypants' face absolutely lit up every time a letter arrived. Tony truly provided a bright spot during an otherwise dim year.

So go read the essay, already. And then buy some Tony Abbott books.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Snow Day

Today was my day to finish up some work projects, get the house in order and cook dinner so that we could have a nice shabbat meal. I also planned a long walk on the treadmill while watching an episode or two from the last season of Six Feet Under on DVD. I was going to use my time so efficiently that I'd even have an hour or so to write and catch up on the blog.

Then my phone rang at 5:47 this morning. School is cancelled today.

I guess now my agenda is frolicking in the season's first real snow, sipping hot cocoa with marshmallows, baking holiday cookies and playing Gamecube. Not a bad day actually.

I'm off to the treadmill before the kids wake.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Harvesting the silk

Splinter can be a very sensitive boy, so I wasn't sure how he'd react to harvesting the silk from the cocoon, an act which inevitably involves the death of the pupa. They are either killed during the process or in preparation for it (think about that before you buy a silk purse or shirt). I chose the latter method, baking the cocoons in a 200-degree oven for 20 minutes prior to boiling (and while the kids were out of the house). Those puffy white cocoons looked just like a sheet of meringues.


The actual harvest only held his interest for about 3 minutes, leaving me to spend the better part of an hour untangling the cocoons. It's definitely an art I have not mastered. Sometimes I got a very fine, single thread and other times I found myself winding a much thicker thread- something that looks like dental floss. In theory, Splinter is going to embroider a cloth which will be my Chanuka present. Of course, this gift can only be made with a great deal of my help....(Super DH, you want to take this on?)

Hopefully the next, and perhaps final, silkworm report will be about moths hatching out and creating new life in the form of hundreds of eggs. I say hopefully, because I'm not sure I found a dark or quiet enough place for the pupa to morph. We should know by the time December rolls around.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I'm thankful for...

I am very thankful for my in-laws, particularly because they had the boys sleep over last night. Wahoo! DH, my dear husband, and I went for dinner at the Super H Mart. This pan Asian mega mart continues to amaze me. In fact, I might start referring to DH as SDH, or Super DH, in order to speak of two things I love at once.

A friend of mine joked that Super H (the store, not the husband) should have "whitey patrol," that is, dedicate some of their Korean workers to help and explain things to confused Caucasians such as yours truly.

For example, although we were able to figure out from the ingredient list that Squid Ink Bread really does contain squid ink, it would have been helpful to have a patroller describe the flavor the ink imparts.

The patroller could have advised us that Octopus is a taste best acquired as a young child and warned us not to waste our money on the artificially flavored Octopus chips. Who knew? Smartypants was so taken by the packaging we bought it (on an earlier trip). After the first one he said it tasted like calamari; after the second, he'd had enough. DH stopped at one chip. I spat mine out after only a bite, and dear Splinter said it tasted like a fart.

Turns out though, that many friendly folks naturally take on the patroller role. After eating our dumplings and udon soup, DH and I eyed a nearby diner eating a delicious looking pancake-type meal. "Seafood pancake," he explained and told us where to get it.

Then a store worker sat down in our group of tightly spaced tables and our helpful neighbor asked her what she was eating. She explained and then even offered him a taste.

Later, when DH and I were exploring the massive produce section a kindly woman saw us puzzling over the durian fruit. It's like a 5-pound pine cone. It's got a hard, rough, spiky exterior. "Oh, I've heard of this! It's the stinky fruit," I said. (Click here for a great explanation and photo.)

"It's really very sweet," said the helpful woman. She explained how to cut its thick skin open and how to eat it. We decided to hold off on our purchase of durian for now. But we generally like to buy all kinds of new fruits. Sometimes we actually eat them, other times we just watch them rot-in the name of science, of course. For example, you may know that an orange left out for too many days will mold, but did you know that a lychee just gets really, really hard?

When we got home we checked our handy dandy Visual Food Encyclopedia to read up on durian fruit, burdock and some of the other foods we saw at Super H. (The VFE is a great reference would make a great present for the foodie on your list.)

The SH was a hit with DH. Now it's time to find some tasty recipes, lemongrass soup perhaps, and make a list before our next trip to the Super H.

Off to sleep I go with dreams of cuttlefish dancing in my head.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Priorities

The boys are off of school this week so I figured I should take Smartypants to the doctor to check out his cough. He had a cold in October and has ongoing allergy issues, but even regular doses of Claritin (What? You want me to dust my house?) haven't made a dent in his stuffiness and cough. The doctor thinks my guy has walking pneumonia. Bad Mom or at least Guilty Mom for not having taken him in sooner.

After the bad news at the doctor's we headed to a nearby preserve for refreshing nature walk. At least I could gain some Good Mom points by having them spend some time outside, right? We might have been better off staying indoors as Splinter, unaware, stepped in some animal poop which he later smeared on my car's fabric interior and now it smells like, well, you guessed it.

Sick kid, smelly car. We had to put a positive spin on our day so we headed to our new obsession, the Super H Mart. It's the happiest place in Niles! This Korean/pan-Asian mega mart is amazing. It has a huge produce section filled with vegetables and fruits that I've never even heard of--dragon fruit, anyone? The boys and I have been there twice this week and it's only Tuesday. DH and I are going to check out the food court later this week.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A blast from the past

I've been asked to post more about the high school reunion. I've got a few thoughts, but have yet to commit anything to paper or screen.

I'll provide reunion coverage later this week. For now, here's a blast from the past, my third grade class photo:


Can you guess:
Who's the paste-eater who prevented me from ever naming a child of mine Eli?
Who got suspended from junior high for pulling down his pants on the soccer field?
Who sported a blue Mohawk in high school?
Who's an EBay exec?
Who got a perfect SAT score and now reportedly works at the NIH?
And can you pick me out?

Barney Bashing

In our house Barney was only a blip on the radar screen of childhood characters. But for some reason, Barney bashing is a huge hit among my boys, especially 6.5 year-old Splinter. They must have half a dozen cheery songs about shooting Barney, making him bleed to death and cutting off his head. I think it has something to to with proving what Big Boys they are- how easily they can crush a childhood icon.



When I woke up Sunday morning this message from Splinter greeted me on the fridge.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Smartypants on playdates

Eager to get to his friend's house for a playdate, Smartypants asked me to call the host mom and find out if he could come over early. "Tell her she doesn't have to clean the place up for us because I'm already used to a messy house."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Seven silkworms spinning

Actually, there are 27, or possibly 37, silkworm larvae busily spinning away upstairs.

Much to my relief, they turned out just as they were supposed to. Let's hope this is an omen of things to come with my children.

I feared the caterpillars were just going to keep eating, growing (and pooping) without reaching maturity. It's not unlike that feeling one gets after a few exhausted weeks of caring for a newborn. But, phew, now I can relax. In fact, the silkworms will never eat again. Ever.

The adult moths that emerge from the cocoons do not eat or drink. They live only to mate. I have one select group of 8 or so cocoons that I plan to let live out their natural life cycle. Hopefully there will be a mating pair among them which may leave us with perhaps hundreds of eggs.


I've already found homes for some of these eggs. And hey, I thought I was too old to be an egg donor! Don't some women make good money for this kind of thing? The eggs can stay for a year or more in the refrigerator in a dormant state which kinda gives me a new angle on the frozen embryo debate.

Anyhoo, the little buggers spin for three days--almost a mile of thread. It's amazing to watch. Beautiful. It almost brings a tear to my eye (as do Hallmark commercials since I became a mother).

Here's Pumpkin spinning his cocoon (just kidding we did not name them. It's generally a bad idea to name animals that one intends to "harvest"). I'd say he or she was about 6-8 hours into the process. The shiny reflection in the upper left corner comes from plastic wrap. In their early lives the caterpillars generally never moved more than a few inches on any given day, but they apparently get a bit bolder and more active as they look for a suitable place to hunker down, and this wild guy decided to hang from his ceiling. Still, that's a better choice than the one that attached itself to our wall.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Volunteer like a pro

Since a lot of you don't bother out-clicking to my Austinmama blog, I'm cross-posting and bringing the blog to you.

"Volunteer like a man." That's what Going Back to Work author Mary Quigley said in an interview on CNN's In The Money back in 2004. Offering advice to on-ramp moms she continued, "A man doesn't run a cookie sale. He runs the fund-raising drive to raise $10,000 for a new playground. "

Volunteer like a man. Career columnists, job coaches and other back-to-work advisors have since echoed her words. Ugh.

Do they also suggest doing manly things like stopping to scratch your crotch as you unload heavy boxes of frozen Market Day foods? Or leaving a copy of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in the PTA office?

No, what Quigley meant and later said was, "Volunteer in areas where there are measurable results." So let's change that to Volunteer Like A Professional. For example, if you're a writer, or an aspiring writer, volunteer to craft press releases, write grants or help with the school paper. Take on meaty tasks that build up, and on, your professional experiences. Use your volunteer time to make contacts, develop skills, and work on projects that make an impact.

Good enough advice, but let's get real. Does heading up a $10,000 volunteer fundraising effort stand out on a resume? And if it does get noticed, will it lead an on-ramp mom to a job offer or even an interview given the bias against hiring moms?

The fact is that schools need volunteers for the "gruntwork." Usually there is much more work to do than there are volunteers to do it. Sometimes the work can be done from home, some can be done at night or on weekends, so it' may be working-parent friendly, but it's not all high-profile, fun, growth-oriented, or interesting. In fact, most of it isn't.

Professional backgrounds or aspirations shouldn't serve as an excuse to avoid lunchroom duty or cleaning up after Bingo Night. Despite Quigley's take on this type of "women's work," I've expanded my network by rubbing elbows with other moms and dads doing these things. But instead of counting them among my "contacts," I tend to call them friends. You can really get to know a person in the time it takes to mix up 60 gallons of lemonade.

Lest I sound too self-righteous, though, I must that I draw the line at counting up the Campbell's Soup labels. Even contemplating serving as the label program coordinator makes me anxious and depressed. Damn it, Campbell's, I will not be your whore!

I started thinking about the concept of volunteering like a pro because I'm currently helping with our school's largest fundraiser- a silent auction. When the chairperson told me that I was an account manager for a select group of prospects, I suddenly felt so important. I no longer saw myself as an underachieving mom begging for donations. Now, I'm a hotshot account manager, cultivating relationships with qualified donors in order to increase revenues by 50%. How great will that look on my resume?

I don't care if you volunteer like a man, a 50s housewife or a chimpanzee. But please, please get involved in your child's school even if it doesn't add umph to your resume. And if your volunteer experience helped you land a job, email me at mom@moldofsky.com so I can share your story with others.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

What not to say at your 20th high school reunion

In an effort to avoid foot-in-mouth moments, I asked Smartypants to help me come up with a list of things not to say at my high school reunion. He's got more tact than I guessed. Here are his suggestions:

You look like you gained a lot of weight.

Boy, you seem really old.

Wow, your hair is getting really gray.

What happened to all your hair?

Did you just fart?

I'm glad you're here because I wasn't sure you were still alive.

On a related note, upon hearing that one of our deceased classmates had been electrocuted, a junior high classmate asked the deceased's good friend without thinking, "Like, by accident? Or in prison?"

Not that I went to high school with a bunch of criminals-- there were only a few. Good thing one of my classmates is now a white-collar criminal defense attorney. And, hey, our crowd includes both a rocket scientist and a brain surgeon! And, uh, a noted mommyblogger who is on the blogroll over at the upscale Cookie magazine's Daysitter blog and Guy Kawaski's Ultimate Mommy Blog list. Yeah, I know, I can't even convince myself these are impressive credentials.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New Post at Austin Mama

I've got a new post up at Austin Mama on the topic of entertaining.

Speaking of entertaining, here's why all the spoons have disappeared from our kitchen as of late.






Monday, November 06, 2006

And now for something really different

My friend Rachel, who knows I'm always up for a little hormonal humor, sent me this link. Check it out!

Eight year-old Smartypants was peeking over my shoulder when I first clicked in and got a glimpse of the homemade blowgun, "Cool, they have instructions for marshmallow guns!" Having finally caved on the No Gun policy, last summer I bought he and Splinter a PVC blowgun that shoots out mini-marshmallows. The plan was for them to build another one with their father. It looks like this project is all mine now!

Be sure to check out the holiday crafts as well, and, if you decide to tackle any of these unique projects, please forward pictures.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sophie's Choice, or Playing God to the Silkworms

I did it. This morning I sent about 25% of our silkworm population on a one way trip to the compost heap. I feel bad, having nurtured them since birth and all, but lacked the space and I'm certain the food would have run out before they started cocooning.

Our thriving population of roughly 40 caterpillars will hopefully start spinning soon. As they reach they end of their larval stage they are eating and growing rapidly, especially now that I moved them out of the room in which the boys practice piano, trumpet, recorder and violin. (Guess how many sets of earplugs I have?) Apparently they favor quiet surroundings.

Yesterday six year-old Splinter dictated his science fair report to me while I typed. Since I did all the work on this project, I was feeling like a bit of a helicopter mom, but he clearly has an excellent understanding of his stated topic- the silkworm life cycle. Phew!



Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Love Thursday: Even more adult halloween fun?

This seemed like an appropriate photo with Halloween just passed and my 20th high school reunion just around the corner.

It's me in my 8th grade cheerleading uniform! Lest I get too excited that it still fits, my mother reminds me, "You always were a little chubby."

But why the post on Love Thursday (albeit an hour early)? Well, the bookish DH never got to date a cheerleader when he was younger. *wink, wink* Gotta go.

Fear Factor

My living room is now home to seven stinky containers filled with 2-inch long creepy caterpillars. At this point they are sturdy enough to pick up, so they actually make better pets than, say, my mother's cat.

According to our guide book they should start cocooning soon, but they still seem to be in a stage of rapid growth. This means they are eating a lot and therefore pooping a lot, too.

I cooked up a double batch of food yesterday which turned out to be a mistake. Despite the increase in volume I didn't add extra time in the microwave and the food came out very goopy. Nutrients are nutrients, I thought, so I glopped some into a container, but it was veritable quicksand for the silkworms because of their suction-cuppy feet.
This led to our first casualty.
I popped the rest of the food back into the microwave, but you know how when you overcook things they gets sort of rubbery? Well, let's hope this doesn't bother the remaining silkworms.
I sure hope I, I mean Splinter, gets a gold star at the Science Fair. Kidding aside, I wouldn't recommend this as an independent project for a child under age 10.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Halloween!

I tried to be a good daughter and fulfill my mom's request to comfort her sick cat, but the sour puss wanted nothing to do with me...except possibly bite me. I won't take it personally, even the vet has to put the Hannibal Lechter Mask on the cat in order to safely do an exam. Seems like a fitting image for Halloween.

I think I'll be Supermom for Halloween

Although I considered dressing as a Temptress Cavewoman or Sexy Harry Potter (guess what I'm not wearing under my Gryffindor robe?), Supermom is the front runner.

Here's my day so far:
6:30 Wake up and head to computer to write before the kids are up. Like a dog that can hear its owner eating marshmallows, within minutes Smartypants is at my side. I didn't bother showering for my job interview because the boys get picked up on Mondays and I planned to exercise right after pickup.

7:10 Splinter wakes up and freaks out about his Halloween costume, or lack thereof. This from a boy who made a list in August of both his school and actual trick-or-treating costumes through the year 2009.

7:15 My mom calls to tell me she almost cancelled her out-of-town trip because one of her cats is sick. Thankfully, she has hired someone to come give it medicine and change its bandage all week, but would I please go over each day this week to give some love to the poor cat (who hisses at me whenever I get within three feet of her)?

7:18 Carpool Buddy calls. Her son is sick and won't be going to school today. I need to make the 45 minute round trip to drop the boys at school.

8:05 Boys delivered safely to school. I stop at the cleaners on the way home, get a 1.5 miles walk on the treadmill, shower, dress (including the oft-ignored hair and makeup) and make it to my interview with 15 minutes to spare.

Yeah, baby!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

More adult Halloween fun

Remember my slut-o-ween post? Here's a funny fauxmercial for the special day. Note: not appropriate for viewing at work or with small kids (esp. with the volume turned up).

Guest Blogger: Kari Anne Roy

When Kari Anne Roy posted this on our Austin Mama Blog, I immediately shot off a request asking to copy this funny bit on Hormone-colored Days. She said yes, weeks passed, and finally here it is.

Kari also blogs at Haiku of the Day and even has a Haiku Mama book!

Kari writes here about a recent visit from her aunt:

At least she lightens up after a few days. Usually.

You know that cliche - guests and fish start to smell after three days? Well, my aunt is visiting. We have one of those on again off again relationships - in fact, it's been almost a year since we've seen each other. I thought that with the baby and all, she'd stay away for a while longer (she's not really into babies), but she snuck into town last night.

It's been so long since we've seen each other, I'm afraid this is going to be a particularly long and trying visit. It's not that I don't love her. I respect her, and frankly, I wouldn't be the woman I am today without her. It's just that she cramps my style when she comes to visit. And it's not like I really have a "style" to begin with, she's just so dominating the whole time we're together, it really makes me crazy. If only she wouldn't sneak up on me like this, things would be better between us. I could plan for our visits, you know? She's just so spotty when it comes to actually giving me any notice before arriving - or leaving! God only knows how long she'll be here this time. Anyway, if I can make it through this exhausting visit, I'll hopefully be better prepared for the next go 'round.

Man. I really, really wish Aunt Flo wasn't such a bitch. And showing up at only 11 weeks postpartum? Un-f-ing-forgiveable.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Wasted Women


Check out my latest post at the Austin Mama blog.

Also, check this out, my rabbi has staked out a spot on the blogosphere! He joins me and other talented congregants such as Jim and Brad.

Why doesn't the Bloogger.com spellchecker have 'blogosphere' in its dictionary? Isn't that odd?

Today we are going to carve pumpkins. I'm also going to mix up yet another batch of silkworm food. Apparently they eat someting like 80% of their life's food intake right before cocooning and they are almost ready to go. I'm a bit worried about running out of food because I have about 4 times more caterpillars than were supposed to come with the kit. I fear that I will have to make a Sophie's Choice-type decision.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again

"It's a fun science project," my sister-in-law's brother (not to be confused with my husband) told me last summer.

So with Smartypants' class reading Project Mulberry and Splinter's class learning about the Silk Road and a science fair looming, silkworms sounded like a great project. If there were a continuum of How Much Care Other Living Things Require with a cactus on the far left and a human infant on the right, silkworms would be on the right, just behind puppies.

Every day I clean out their little poops which the instructional catalogue describes thus: At first their excrement looks like small black specks, but as the caterpillars age, their excrement resembles miniature corncobs. Just before the caterpillars start to spin their cocoons, they release all feces.

Then there's the food, which I am cooking up just about every other day now. Mix 1/3 cup of water plus three tablespoons Dry Silkworm Diet, microwave for 20 seconds, mix again, microwave again, cover tightly with wrap and allow to cool. It stinks, literally and figuratively. This process is every bit unpleasant as changing a baby's diaper.

The silkworms are not cute, nor are they fun to watch. They can't be played with and we have so many that I've had to divide them into several, equally smelly, containers. I can't allow myself to kill them off or leave them out for the birds which is sort of ironic because the only way to get usable silk from the cocoons is to boil them with the little moth still inside (think lobsters). Dare we let the 65 (we ordered 25 eggs, but got a windfall) or so caterpillars make it through their pupa stage, the moths that hatch out cannot eat or drink. They can't really fly either, only flutter around a bit. Like some guys I knew in college, they live only to mate. And unlike those guys, they will die within five days. The successful female will lay 200-500 eggs, which, thankfully, can be refrigerated for up to two years and will make a great Christmas present for your child's favorite science teacher.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Love Thursday: Loving the Cafeteria Lady

A while back this mommyblogger encouraged others to post a love-themed piece each Thursday. I couldn't find the photo I planned to post, but given that my 20th high school reunion is only weeks away (yikes!) I thought this would be appropriate.

She was known for her succintness, "Yes, please?" "Next, please" and ability to give proper change. I don't recall what exactly went into this pose. I think was the last day of school for seniors and the love just spontaneously erupted.

Interesting tidbit: a few years ago the kisser was named as one of Crain's Chicago Business "Forty under Forty" that is, their list of young businesspeople on the rise.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Starving children at the Ethiopian restaurant

Read about it here, at Scrambled CAKE.

Later this week on Hormone-colored Days: "My, how quickly they grow" and other reflections on silkworm project.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Taking back "Slut-o-ween"

When Splinter and I popped into a party shop last week I noticed that the selection of costumes for women differed from years past. Not only was there a larger variety to choose from beyond the basic witch, she-devil and French maid, but the costumes seemed to promote, well, a different type of Halloween fun.

Apparently it's a trend and I'm not the only who noticed. The women of Salon.com's Broadsheet take it on here (you may need to watch a brief, painless ad first).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

School Fundraising- taking it to a new high

Reading this post at my friend Jim's blog reminded me about our own little fundraising program.

Our school doesn't nickel and dime us, but we do have some major funding campaigns, like the capital campaign to get ourselves a proper school building. The school is currently housed in an old office building. My eight year-old, Smartypants, wants to sponsor the Spanish classroom in the new building. Here's an appeal he wrote last summer (really, you will see it is not quite my style).


Dear Friend,

I'm Smartypants (my mom doesn't let me say my real name on the Internet). I'm an eight year old boy who likes sports, technology, and reading. My school is called "The Gifted Academy" [Mom won't let me post the ral name on the blog]. It is a very good school. It is for academically advanced kids. I feel comfortable with it; the kids and teachers are very talented and the subjects are very interesting. My school needs money because they are going make a new building.

I would like you to make an investment in the school because it is for a good cause, it will help lots of kids and at my school kids use their full abilities. If they don’t get to use their full abilities they might not get such a good job when they are grown up. One reason is because they wouldn’t have learned as much or know as much as if they did use their full abilities and learn a lot.

At my old school I was in a class with kids who were not academically advanced and I had to wait because I was finished with my work but I couldn't do anything and didn't have any more work and wasn't allowed to read and it was very boring for me. This year I went to "The Gifted Academy] and it was a huge improvement. I've made lots of friends at the GA. At my old school I didn't really have friends.

Examples of some things we do at the GA are in science, we made circuits and the older kids dissected squid. And sometimes in FPS (Future Problem Solving) we do Sudoku, a very cool number puzzle. We learned Pascal’s triangle in math and once in FPS we learned the word pneumoultramicroscopicvolcanoconeosis, a disease that you get when you breathe in quartz or granite.

I am trying to raise $25,000 to sponsor a room at the new school. I realized that if 250 people invest $100 then I’ll have $25,000. I would like you to invest a little in my school. I don’t care how much money, but at least one penny. Here is how to invest:
Click on this (CTRL + click). It is perfectly safe.
{link deleted for blog. For donation details contact fundraiser (at) moldofsky (dot) com} Please say that you are donating to the "Blueprint for Excellence" (Capital Campaign) in honor of "Smartypants" Moldofsky.

I thank you very much for investing in my school and helping special students.

Sincerely,
(Smartypants)

Monday, October 16, 2006

My haunted house and Halloween fun

Official word around here is that Halloween is cancelled.

On a recent trip to the dentist one of our sweet things who has been eating too many sweet things (and not flossing enough) was diagnosed with two cavities. Each cavity covers two surfaces thereby costing twice as much to fill. Bottom line is that we'll owe over $400 for fillings and that pretty much depletes our modest candy budget.

We haven't worked out all the details. I think trick-or-treating will be allowed, but I plan to eat all the candy before little Splinter can sink his rotten teeth into anything (which is pretty much the standard procedure around here anyway).

Our mounting medical bills and $5000 deductible continue to scare me. Take some time to think about where your insurance plan is heading. You will be afraid. Very afraid.

Thinking about returning my boys to public school is also frightening. Look DH, my hair is standing on end from the chills going up my spine! On a related note, I am seeking new clients for my growing freelance writing practice. Contact me at writer@moldofsky.com for details.

Here' s the last scary thing around Chez Moldofsky, but it's really more weird than scary. (Cue the Twilight Zone theme, please). I have a printer/fax combo and lately when I plug in the phone line to send a fax I get WBBM news radio. I can't send a fax because I'm picking up radio signals instead of a dial tone.

I called my tech guy: DH, come help me! What's going on?

He told me he couldn't have made that happen if he tried. When the phone line is plugged into he phone it works, but when it turns my fax machine into a radio. If any of my tech-savvy readers have some tips, please share them. Or maybe you can recommend a good exorcist?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The best part of waking up?

I'm not a morning person. For me, the best part of waking up is morning snuggles with my family, but when the folks who market Folger's Coffee asked if I'd blog about some free samples, I readily agreed. We are all about the swag-send it on!

I appreciated the fact they asked for honesty and not merely a glowing report. "But," some of my more cynical friends asked, "if you give a bad review does that mean they won't ask you to participate in future projects?" Hmmm, let's hope not.

The truth is coffee lovers can be a picky bunch. For example, I like mine topped with whipped cream served a paper Starbucks cup with the corrugated collar. And I'm told that The Starbucks crowd and the Dunkin' Donuts crowd are very loyal to their chosen brand- it's as much about identity as it is about coffee.

So what of the Folgers? We've tried one of the three sample packs thus far (you can get a fee sample here!). And when I say we, I mean I served the Gourmet Folgers Morning Blend at a party and I went around like a busybody asking my guests for feedback. Too strong said one. Too weak said another. *sigh*

The one consistent comment I heard was related to that brand identity thing (and this is definitely a coffee on-the-go kind of crowd often found with a DD or Starbucks cup in hand). Folgers is our parents' coffee (indeed I spied a canister in my mom's fridge the other day). The updated logo and gourmet flavors are not enough to convince my designer coffee-loving Gen X/tail end of Baby Boom crowd that Folger's is the best part of waking up.

**Bonus Feature**

Coffee Dough Recipe
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup used coffee grinds
1/2 cup cold, leftover coffee

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir until blended. Gather the mixture together with your hands. Knead on a floured until have a you smooth dough. Store dough in a plastic bag or margarine tub. (Note we used almost twice as much flour, perhaps because the grinds were quite damp.) I thought the dough had a lovely aroma; my boys did not agree, but enjoyed playing with it nonetheless.

At the risk of sounding like a mom with too much time on her hands, this tan speckled dough is perfect for making fake dinosaur eggs. Take take a small plastic dino figurine, encase it in dough. Form the dough into an egg shape and let it dry for a few days. Let your budding paleontologist chip away at the egg and discover the "fossil" inside.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Start your week with a little Scrambled Cake

Okay, so we totally fell for the marketing gimmick in which the kids get free prizes (in this case from the summer reading club) that introduce us to new ways to spend our money. Read all about it here.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Signs of life in the petri dish!

After several fruitless days of searching for signs of life in the petri dish I began to worry. For example:

The scene: bedtime on a crisp fall night.

Me: Do you think we should turn on the heat?

DH: Are you cold? If you're cold, go ahead and turn it on.

Me: *sigh* No, I'm just worried about the silkworm eggs. I think our house may be too cool for them to hatch.

The next day I was prepared to call our supplier and insist on replacement eggs because what they sent us were clearly just leftover poppy seeds from someone's lunch when behold! There was movement in the dish! Four tiny worms had hatched out before Splinter left for school. By the time he returned home there were nearly a dozen. Within two days virtually all of the 65 eggs hatched.



Our kit was only supposed to contain 25 eggs. I thought of the extras as "insurance," but now that almost of them hatched, I'm a little worried. I've gathered some extra containers for when they outgrow the petri dish, but what to do about food? Will I be able to feed them all? Should I order more Dry Silkworm Diet now, just in case? Can I keep them alive for the next 6 weeks? How much silk do I harvest? (More about the ethical dilemma involved later.)

I'm not going to let these answers keep my up at night. In fact, I'm going to bed right now.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

haiku


boobs in a vise grip
smooshed for just a few seconds
my first mammogram

Thoughts on my mammogram:

The technician has one of the most bizarre jobs ever.
I hope my insurance covers this doctor-recommended screening.
I got my mammogram at the local Nordstrom. Pretty cool even for a mall-averse person like me.
I was ready to shop within 15 minutes of my appointment time making this the quickest medical visit ever.

Friday, September 29, 2006

What was I thinking?!?

A petri dish full of eggs with my name on it.
Aren't I already harried?
Don't I already have enough love in my life?
Haven't I spent years cooking and cleaning up after little ones?
And yet, here I go again.
Waiting for signs of life.

If I had any idea how much work it would be to try to raise silkworms I would not have suggested the project . Every few hours I dash over to the petri dish looking for larvae (thank goodness our house is small). Is our place too cold? Did I wait too long to unpack the eggs? Have I already screwed up?

Once they hatch I not only need to clean up their poop every day (thank goodness their poops are small) but I need to cook for them! Yes, cook! I have to measure out the "dry silkworm diet" (which looks eerily like the green powder on Veggie Booty and even smells a bit like it). Then I have to mix the powder with a measured amount of water, stir, heat in microwave, stir again and heat again. Finally, I have to hurriedly cover the hot mixture with a skin of plastic wrap to avoid mold, let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. Apparently I will be doing this every few days for the next six weeks. Assuming they hatch, that is. And If you think I am exaggerating or perhaps obsessing, read this.

This had better be cool.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Spontaneous post: News you Need

I wasn't planning to post today, but I'm sitting here waiting for the fridge repair man and just came across something I wanted to share.

With the High Holidays here things like tefillah (prayer), tesh-uvah (love, saying sorry), and tzedakah (compassionate action) are on our minds. I just read about a great tzedakah opportunity over at Parent Hacks (by way of the Mother Shock blog). There is a US soldier in Iraq who is looking for donations of stuffed animals--and she will take used ones.

For several years I organized a gently-used toy drive at my boys' preschool and I know that almost no organization will accept used stuffed animals. So what to do with all those lovies that never really got loved and are in great condition? Send them here:
Edmay Mayers USACE - GRS APO AE 09331

Here's a note from Edmay from the Parent Hacks site
"Please, please, please – I know where you can give all the stuffed animals and toys away – I am presently stationed (deployed) in Iraq. The children here love the stuffed toys – I can hardly keep up with the cost of them – I am continuously ordering more and more from Oriental Trading Company and candy for the young ones too. If there is any way at all please have any and all sent to me at the address listed and I will ensure that the children in Iraq receive all that is sent. "

I will go box up some items. And then I'll go clean the kitchen. (DH are your reading?!)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New post at Austinmama

The days between Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, (last weekend) and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, (next Monday) are introspective ones. There's a lot to contemplate beside the usual carpools, meals, dishes, laundry, homework, etc. Read my latest post at Navigating the On-ramp if you need a little help thinking about Who you Are, What you Do, and Which path to take in the year ahead.

Oh, and by the way, as is the custom this time of year, I am sorry for all the rude and insensitive things I did or said to you. I also apologize for all those times I thought the worst of you. I will try harder this year. Really!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Book Review: Take Ten

Take Ten: Meditations for the Hurried Parent is a charming collection by Utah mother-writer Robin Lynn Pratt. Each of the book's thirteen essays can stand on its own and is brief enough to enjoy over a quick cup of coffee. I read the book in brief bites, tasty morsels really, and found that Pratt's words reflections on mothering and being mothered stayed with me throughout the day.

In the “Quiet and the Chaos” she reflects on the deafening quiet her boys as they grow up and quiet down. Gone are noisy toddlers and active young boys. She writes, "Remembering the days of constant motion may provide a source of warmth" when her nest finally empties. Even as I sweep up the latest round of crumbs, I am prone to fits of nostalgia. This doesn’t make me approach the task any more enthusiastically, but I can feel my future self missing my present self; Pratt captures this feeling well.

I laughed with recognition at “Treasure Boxes” about her six year-old pack rat who retrieves special items- like yogurt lids- from the trash to add to his growing collections. “I briefly considered dumping this stack in the outside garbage. I was sure he wouldn’t even notice. Pretty sure. But then I felt guilty.” Like me, Pratt ultimately cannot deny her son his crap, because years from now these items may truly be a treasure in the form of special childhood memories.

I love a good back-to-work story and Pratt’s did not disappoint. In “The Plan” she recalls crash landing into the world of stay-at-home mothers after a childcare crisis with her boys, then two and four. She recounts her plans to return to work when the youngest is in first grade and, well, you know what they say about the best laid plans. I’d share more of my many favorites, but this is a small collection and I’ don’t want to give it all away. The book’s small size is both a blessing (hooray, I finished a book!) and a curse (I’m done already?).

Pratt wrote these essays when her boys were in elementary school, but they are now well into adolescence. She jokes that one of the wonderful aspects of this new phase is that it provides her with lots of new material. That's good news for us. I'd love to see Pratt add to this brief collection of essays, and I sense that she’s up to the challenge.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Yet another blog!

DH is rolling his eye again. Kim, he's thinking, aren't you supposed to be looking for a job. A paying job?

Yes dear! And my new blog, Navigating the On-ramp, is dedicated to that very topic!

I'm a permanent guest blogger at Austinmama. Check it out here. If you've never been to Austinmama, plan to spend a few minutes poking around this excellent site.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Health insurance woes, a story in three parts

File this under WTF.

Part I
From our new health insurance plan description booklet:
"The [advisory board] does not determine your course of treatment or whether you receive particular health care services. The decision regarding the course of treatment and receipt of particular health care services is a matter entirely between you and your Physician. The [board's] determination of Medically Necessary care is limited to merely whether a proposed admission, continued hospitalization or other health care service is Medically Necessary under this Certificate."

Part II
Further down on the same page:
"The fact that your Physician or another health care Provider may prescribe, order, recommend, or approve a Hospital stay or other health care service or supply does not itself make such a hospitalization, services or supply Medically Necessary. Even if your Physician prescribes, orders, recommends, approves or views hospitalization or other health care services as Medically Necessary, [the insurer] will not pay for the hospitalization, services, or supplies if [the advisory board and insurer] decide they were not Medically necessary.

Part III
To see how this nonsense plays out in a real-life situation, Marrit Ingman shares this tidbit from her blog.

Dear HMO,

Hi. How are you?

You remember that uterine biopsy I had in April, was it? Yeah. I rocked that like a CHAMP. It was sort of unpleasant being scraped with a cannula, but that's what you do when you have irregular uterine bleeding for three continuous months. You say, "Wow. I'm bleeding almost constantly. Think I should ask a doctor about that?" And then you go in because "constant bleeding" is the kind of symptom you think even an HMO could get behind exploring.

The doctor was really interested when I told him I had a family history of breast cancer and my mom was currently being treated at MD Anderson. So he ordered a biopsy. It came back negative, and since we ruled out endometrial cancer as a cause of the bleeding, everyone was happy and we all went our separate ways, me still bleeding but less worried I had six months to live.

Then I got your bill for the biopsy. You won't cover it.

You people suck.

You make your own decisions about what is and is not medically necessary for me. That's my physician's prerogative, not yours. If you have a problem with that fact, I might suggest not participating with my doctor in a service arrangement and accepting my family's astronomical health-care premiums every month. They rival my mortgage. And it sure was cute of you to hike your rates just enough to absorb the "raise" AISD [Austin Independent School District] gave its teachers this year, which actually was a raise for you. You guys sure have American families over a barrel.

I curse you all with bleeding genitals.

Read more of Marrit's commentary at http://www.suite102.com/baldo/.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The trouble with homophones

Ah homophones, those tricky words with different meanings but similar sounds.

I recently watched a documentary about China that told of a long-ago emperor and one of his court eunuchs. This got me thinking about eunuchs. DH is a walking encyclopedia, so I asked him. Here is our conversation in a nutshell:

Me: Do you know anything about eunuchs?

DH: No, but you should ask Jim, he probably knows a lot.

What?! Why would Jim know anything about eunuchs?

Wait, did you say UNIX or Linux?

Eunuchs, the guys without balls; not UNIX the computer operating system.

Oh.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tired of the same old workout?

My friend Tammy forwarded the link to this funny video with the subject line: choreographed treadmills. Huh? It was a ray of sunshine on an otherwise dreary day. It's been wet and gloomy since the weekend. This morning Splinter asked me when it was finally going to stop raining. I wish I knew.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Your call may be monitored...

We've all heard something like this before: "Your call may be monitored to ensure customer service."

I was on hold with GE the other day because our 3 year old GE fridge is about to conk out for the third time. The people are I dealt with were very nice (maybe it has something to do with the class action lawsuit for which our fridge qualifies?), but all that time on hold got me thinking.

What if when they finally answered the phone, I told them that I was transcribing our conversation for my blog or simply recording the conversation so I wouldn't have to rely on memory and scratchy notes to recreate the conversation for my sugar daddy whose paycheck paid for the defective fridge. Would the person on the other end be on his best behavior or would he resentfully record notes in his computer about what a mean, horrible customer I am?

What if, about 30 seconds, into our conversation I said: please hold while I run to the restroom because I finished a grande 1/2 caf Mocha while I was waiting for you to pick up and now I really have to pee! The estimated wait time is 2 minutes (make it 5 if I need to run down to the basement to get a roll of toilet paper because nobody else in my house is capable of replenishing the supply. Sure, as a woman my overall wiping needs might be greatest, but have you ever seen how many wads of toilet paper a six year-old "needs" to wipe his butt?). I appreciate your patience. I'll be with you momentarily. While you're waiting here's a tape of my six year-old recent violin practice (he's been playing for three whole months now!).

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Have a little CAKE with us

Life just keeps getting sweeter here at Chez Moldofsky. See the new post at Scrambled CAKE for details.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Value-added coffee cups

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Starbucks. As soon I touch my sturdy paper cup with the corragated collar it's as though I've taken my first sip. I wrap my hands around the warm cup and breath in the coffee fumes and feel a wave of relief wash over my body. (Do I sound like an addict? This is why I limit myself to one or two 1/2 decaf mocha's a week. Well, that and the fact that they are expensive.)

I'm not just paying for quality coffee, though. I'm paying for a quality cup- it's made with 10% post-consumer recycled fiber and it's imprinted with a thoughtful quote. I loved this one from last Saturday's morning caffeine jolt:

Success in life is that your kids want to spend time with you once they've grown up.
from Paul Orfalea, Founder of Kinko's and author of Copy This!

Note to DH: Yes, dear, the cup is finally in the garbage.

Back in School!

The boys started school yesterday. The morning drop-off was almost painfully uneventful. (Isn't anybody going to miss me just a little bit?)

I felt like I raced around all day trying to accomplish things I've not had time for in the month since camp ended. But it's nowhere near as bad as the three-hour blocks of time afforded by preschool. Back in those days I felt like I was always trying to beat the clock-run all my errands maybe even exercise and still make it back in time for pick up.

I enjoyed the quiet house during the day, but once they returned to school they were tired and crabby and Smartypants already had homework and both boys had music practice and it was a nightmare. Splinter had soccer practice too, but we bagged that at the last minute due to an overwhelming tantrum. As pleasant as the day was, the evening was equally unpleasant. Ya got your Yin and ya got your Yang. I guess that's life.

Maseratis and Corvettes and Porsches, oh my!

Hey Mr. Smartypants, something tells me we're not in Skokie anymore!

We temporarily abandoned our downmarket life and headed to the more affluent Northbrook for a party honoring our friend Scott Lew. There was a ten year-old boy at the party who told Smartypants that he absolutely had to see the Maserati parked in the driveway. (Click on Scott's link and you'll know it's not his; he gets around in a handicapped accessible van these days.)

Not being a car aficionado, Smartypants tried to act more impressed than he was. "Wow it sure is clean and shiny!" He was a bit taken by the speedometer that goes up to 200 mph, but after our long road trip he's also aware that even on highways the speed limit tops out at about 70 mph, so all in all it was a little confusing to him.

His new friend spouted details about the car and then pointed out the Porsche and Corvette parked across the street and shared some details about those as well. At this point in life my little guy is thankfully more impressed by a really cool paper airplane than a really expensive car.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Family Portrait


Thanks to my friend Miss M. for the lovely family portrait! My talented little girlfriend drew this around her fifth birthday. (L to R: DH, me, Smartypants and Splinter-they do kinda look like twins, don't they?)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My twins?

"We got this for our birthday," said Splinter, holding up a CD as the boys sorted through their computer games this morning.

Later over lunch, Smartypants relates a tale: "Remember when we were five years old and..."

I cut him off. "What are you talking about?! You guys are 25 months apart. You know that when you were five, he was three. You were not five year-olds at the same time."

Smartypants is a slight eight year-old, hanging out at the bottom of the growth charts, whereas Splinter holds his own around the 50% mark. For several years the boys have maintained a two inch and two pound difference. Strangers routinely ask if they are twins. I am tempted to roll my eyes and say they are 11 months apart, just to see the reaction.

They often get lumped together out of sheer convenience. If they can be, for example, in the same swim class at the same time, that's one less carpool for me. I sometimes wonder if we should make more efforts to separate them, but then I go back to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy. They are pretty happy together (when they are not beating each other up).

Despite sometimes lapsing into twinspeak and eagerly sharing a bedroom, they are differentiating themselves over time. Last spring Splinter chose to play t-ball, while Smartypants stuck with soccer. This summer Splinter chose to start violin lessons, while Smartypants continues learning piano. The violin thing is interesting because it's probably the only area in which Splinter can outperform his older brother. (And even more interesting, the older brother is trying to convince us that Splinter should abandon violin for piano.)

Do you have any stories about being lumped together with your siblings? Have you been scarred for life or did the shared experiences strengthen your lifelong bonds?

Monday, August 28, 2006

A run of crazy dreams

My bizarre dreams continue. There is no clear theme running through them, no easily decoded metaphors, just odd bits like the one in which my boys were ages three and five and actor Jeremy Piven spent a summer as our "manny." It might sound odd that an actor would use his summer hiatus to take care of my kids, but he insisted after all the B.S. in Hollywood, struggling to meet the needs of my two preschoolers helped him "keep it real."

The only tenuous real-life connection is that Jeremy's mom belongs to my synagogue, so last year when I read one of my essays at Rosh Hashanah services, I imagined that he might be among the 600 or so folks in the audience.

Can you suggest a deeper meaning?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

New post up at Scrambled Cake



We took a trip to Eli's Cheesecake World in Chicago for a quick lunch and fabulous factory tour. Splinter says, "Out of three thumbs down, I give it seven forks!" Read the delicious details here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Smoky Mountain Scenery








We saw about a million millipedes, three inchworms, four salamanders, a handful of wild turkeys, three does, one buck and no black bears.



And two taffy machines!


The Hike After the Bee in the Car Seat Incident



Ah, the lovely Laurel Falls, or, as we will forever call it, The Hike After Which Splinter Got His First Sting Because There Was A Bee In His Carseat.

Where's a Swim Suit when You Need One (or Four)?


Had we known about this swimmin' hole in advance we would have brought suits. I wouldn't have minded putting on my own personal wet t-shirt contest, but the remaining two hours I would have had to spend in my wet shorts would no doubt leave this hormonal gal with a yeast infection. And DH did not swim in his shorts because, um, what was your excuse DH?


Cool mountain waters or toxic, highly polluted stream? Given the odd, two-tone look of my legs, I'd say the latter.