Monthly Archives: January 2011

So Many Superlatives

If you received our family holiday card and letter, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Mr. SillyPants was a little (ok, a LOT) over the top. But really, it’s a true reflection of how he sees our family; as precious gifts. We are lucky he is ours and we are his.  Look at that leap that Waffles executed while holding Blueberry. Beastly.


Why English Teachers Die Young…

One of my colleagues sent this to our district teachers for a good laugh. Laugh on!

Why English Teachers Die Young….

       Every year, English teachers from across the country can submit their
Collections of actual similes and metaphors found in high school essays.
These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers across
The country.

 Here are last year’s winners.

       1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides
            gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

       2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances
            like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

       3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like
            a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of
            those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at
            high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of
            those boxes with a pinhole in it.

       4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E.Coli, and he was
            room-temperature Canadian beef.

       5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog
            makes just before it throws up.

       6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like,

       7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

       8. The revelation that his marriage of 30
            years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude
            shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

       9. The little boat gently drifted across the
            pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

     10.   McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the
            pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

      11.  From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an
                eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and
            jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. Instead of 7:30.

       12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

       13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement,  just like maggots when
            you fry them in hot grease.

       14. Long separated by cruel fate, the
            star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field
            toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36
            p.m. Traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. At a speed of
            35 mph.

       15. They lived in a typical suburban
            neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

       16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who
            had also never met.

       17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was
            the East River .

       18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a  mind like a steel trap,
            only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

       19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

       20. The plan was simple, like my
            brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

       21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not
            eating for a while.

       22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the
            metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck
            that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

      23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender
            leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

       24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around
            with power tools.

       25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells,
            as if she were a garbage truck backing up.


Tonight we did our usual bedtime routine. However, the unusual part was that I put Blueberry to bed (this is usually Mr. SillyPant’s job – but it’s a late night for him). Blue is potty training, and bedtime visits to the potty have become his preferred ‘stall method’ for bedtime. Tonight his requests were particularly polite and were even “potty productive”.

I’m in a pretty good mood tonight (SHOCKER!)- so I just went with it with an unusual amount of  patience and even a fair dose of delight. We spent quality time in the bathroom discussing our bath curtain, which is a world map. The map is cool – the kid is a riot.

Here is our discussion – –

Mommy, where does Flower live? There, in Hungary.

Mommy, what is that place? Romania.

Hungary? Flower goes to school there! I lived somewhere too. I had a duck blanket there. Where is that? Ethiopia. It’s right here. Ethiopia is in east Africa. I remember when Daddy and I sent that duck blanket to you so you could have it while we were coming to get you in Ethiopia.

What is this place? Russia.

What is this? More Russia. Look here, this is Thailand. Your friend Dew Drop is in Thailand right now on a vacation with her mommy and daddy.

What kid is taking care of Dew Drop’s chickens and goats? What did I throw there on the chickens Mommy? Tomatoes. You threw tomatoes over the gate and one hit a chicken.  I think Dew Drop’s Grandma is watching her animals.

Yeah! I threw tomatoes and one hit the chicken! Yes, but we don’t try to hit chickens with tomatoes. We use gentle hands with animals.

Mommy, here is Hungary again! (Pointing). What letter starts Hungary? “H”

H is for Flower.


Snowclearing in Wisconsin

Mr. Sillypants here, sitting down to discuss one of the most intense love-hate relationships in my existence, that being, the ongoing opportunity for personal growth I know as “snowclearing.”

In Wisconsin, it is said that a man is judged by two firm and unwavering criteria:  1) how green and weed free your lawn is in Summer, and, 2) how clear your driveway is in Winter.  Summer is a lost cause for me, as both Ms. Plum and I refuse to water our lawn, even in the most scorching temperatures.  I *do* water our gardens, home to a particularly special redbud tree (another story for another time) and a flourishing crabapple tree, not to mention countless perennials and annuals, lovingly tended to by Ms. Plum and I when schedules allow.

To be truthful, our lawn is an eyesore for any who care about such things.  Luckily, Ms. Plum and I do not care one whit about such things.

However, Winter is a time when I feel what must be some misplaced hunter-gatherer instinct calling to me, reminding me that it is critical that our pavement be fully visible within hours of snowfall, no matter what Mother Nature throws at us by way of accumulation, drifting or windchill.  I must confess I actually feel guilty driving up our driveway and into the garage when there is fresh snow, thinking that doing so will only serve to create packed tire tracks which will become icy and difficult to clear before March.

To be honest, I rated Madison, Wisconsin as my top choice for residency when considering programs across the country.  Part of my reasoning was due to the fact that I had spent nearly my entire life in the Pacific Northwest.  While Washington and Oregon are beautiful beyond compare, I did feel the urge to live somewhere else so that I could experience a different paradigm, a different set of viewpoints, a different set of seasons.

Hello, Wisconsin.  Hello, snowclearing.

Up until this year, I would faithfully take the mower deck off our trusty Sears lawn tractor and attach the snowblade before first snowfall.  Our driveway is somewhat long, so clearing the snow by hand was a long and back-breaking task.  Once the time was right, I would gear up and fire up the tractor, pushing snow off of our driveway and piling it up anywhere the tractor could go.

Then, two years ago, Ms. Plum gave me a rather dubious gift – – – a Snow Slider.

I call this a dubious gift, because giving a man who has mastered a snowplow a “Snow Slider” is like giving a chef a campfire to cook with.  I would never think to give Ms. Plum a new vacuum cleaner for Xmas, yet, there was the Snow Slider in the garage, adorned with a single red bow.


Truthfully, it sat in the garage for most of the first Winter.  When big snow came, I was quick to gas up the tractor, leave Blueberry inside with Ms. Plum so that I could show off my gear shifting, blade raising, blade lowering, push-the-snow-all-over-creation expertise.

However, admittedly, I would always hear that little whisper inside my head which reminded me that that most lawn tractors put out more greenhouse gases than cars – – – i.e., we contribute more to global warming by running our lawntractors than we do by driving our cars.  Watching “An Inconvenient Truth” that Winter only served to give full voice to that whisper.

So, this year, a strange thing happened.  Beloved Blueberry, who is an amazing trooper and has NEVER known a bad day outdoors, has begun to show great interest in snowclearing.  Sometimes, he makes use of his own lawnmower, which he informs us “has a snowplow” and puts out bubbles rather than carbon monoxide:

Sometimes, he grabs the “big boy shovel”, working to displace the plentiful snow as I work my magic with the Snow Slider:

However it actually takes place, the snow clearing ritual has become a great joy to me.  Blueberry and I talk constantly as we put on snow gear and boots and mittens and hats, then grab our respective snow clearing tools.  Our driveway is devoid of engine noise, grinding gears, scraping snowblades.  All that you hear is our constant interchange, laughter and discussion about the snow, about Herbie (our frenetic Goldendoodle who loves to romp around us as we work) and about how nice the clear driveway looks.

It is a time of sublime beauty for me.

No greenhouse gases, no isolation on a tractor.  Instead, my life is now filled with the laughter of a 2-year-old as he delights in his job with Daddy.  Suddenly, Ms. Plum’s dubious gift becomes a brilliant masterstroke.

There’s no place like home

or…his version, “There’s no place at home.”

A silly shoe addition is that Blueberry went to bed wearing these silver slippers (they belong to Twinkletoes) and he spent a bit of time crying because “MY SHOES keep falling off in bed!” Giggle. Giggle.

Imperious Edicts

My fab friend wrote on FB today, “In Thai, if you’re a woman you say ‘ka’ after phrases to make it polite. Hence, DD’s new nickname: Bossy Ka.”  Another of my sassy and smart friend’s responded,  “Perfect! And by the way, am I to read into this that I don’t have the only 2 year old issuing most imperious edicts these days?”

Indeed, neither of them are experiencing something unique. Please allow me to elaborate (and then you can pipe in with your own comments – because I’m sure I’ll get a lot of head nodding on this post!).

I was excruciatingly tired around 3:30 today. Waffles stopped by to pick up his way cool sunglasses order from the holiday. Full of energy and smiles, I asked if he’d like to stay for about 1/2 hour to spell me for a nap. “Uh, I planned to stay for a little bit, about like 10 minutes.” Drat.  Twinkletoes was just home for work, and I considered squeezing a little time out of Twinkletoes. My contemplation was interupted a few moments later when Clementine and Twinkletoes declared they were heading out to “buy Jesus baked in a cake!” It’s Rosca de Reyes, and cake is on the dinner menu. After asking for the use of the car, I smiled sweetly and said, “Sure, and you can take Blueberry with you to the bakery.” They happily nodded yes. SCORE.

What was striking, however, was the 20 minute conversation that followed between Blue, Clem, and Twink. I rarely have the occasion to simply listen to the flow of conversation. However, frantic for a nap, I hurriedly snuggled up under my blanket on the couch. Sleep was slow to arrive on account of this non-stop exchange: 

Blueberry Ka: Twinkletoes, I want Clementine to drive.

Twinkletoes: Why? I’m a good driver Blueberry. I will drive.

Blueberry Ka: No you won’t Twinkletoes. Clementine will drive. I want to wear my puffy coat.

Clementine: Please. Say please. Twinkletoes is going to drive, Blueberry. I’ll sit with you.

Blueberry Ka: Please. No! Not that hat. I want the other hat. Your hat Clementine.

Clementine: Please.

Twinkletoes: You need to put your socks on, Blueberry.

Blueberry Ka: Please. No, not my socks. I want you to wear my socks Clementine. I want those other socks. You don’t put them on me Twinkletoes, I want Clementine to put my socks on me.

Clementine: I will help you, please sit down.

Blueberry Ka: I will sit down here, not there. Please (thrown in for good measure, I suppose). Where’s my puffy coat. I want my puffy coat, please. Clementine, I want you to drive. Not Twinkletoes driving at all.

Twinkletoes: I’m driving and you can come with us. Mommy said we can get you a lollipop.

Blueberry Ka: I want to hold the keys.

Clementine: Please.

Blueberry Ka: Please I want to hold the keys. And I will wear your scarf, Twinkletoes.

Twinkletoes: You can wear my scarf if you use your kind words.

Blueberry Ka: Please can I wear your scarf. (Sound of door opening to the garage). HEY! I want to walk out first!

After all of the talk and commotion and talk and negotiation and talk and reminders to use the word ‘please’, the threesome finally made their way out the door. I laughed at the chaos, and promptly fell asleep. As I drifted off I am sure I was aware that I could never have been so patient and steady with that stream of demands had I been heading out to buy the Rosca de Reyes cake. The well is not always so deep. Thank goodness for the biggies. Oh, sweet surrender.

I hope Clementine gets the piece of cake with baby Jesus tonight.

 I’m in the mood for tamales.

 (As I’m writing this Blueberry Ka is holding Twinkletoes mouth closed and exclaiming, “No, you cannot talk!” And so it goes……)

Wordless Wednesday