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.