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I don’t mean to complain, but what is it about Kane that’s so flipping special?  Wait, I should back up.  So I’m at home with this baby all day, every day, right?  I feed her, change her, bathe her, sing to her, talk to her, make faces at her, wear her in various baby-wearing contraptions until my shoulders are sore…

See her here, worn by me:

Having a nap while Mama cleans

A close up, 'cause it's even cuter.

… So I do all this stuff that should really make me her favorite person, right?  But then Mr. Kane comes home from work, all beardy and manly and tired from a long day, and he says “hi” to the baby, and what does she do?  She bursts into this huge, dimply smile, like he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread*.  She doesn’t do that for me!  I mean, she does, but I have to work for it.  He just opens his mouth, and she’s all smiles.  What’s so great about HIM?  (Okay, obviously I know some great things about him, or I wouldn’t have married him, but still.)

Here, I will show you what I’m talking about.  The following pictures might look like they’re all the same, but look closely.  I invite you to study the expression on her face, and while you do, note that I was the one holding the camera, and Kane was standing next to me.  Observe the difference in the faces she makes at me and the faces she makes at him.  You’ll see what I mean.

Here, Eila looks at her loving Mama:

"Oh. It's you again. Can I help you?"

Here, Eila looks at her Papa:

"Oh! Ah HA ha HA!! Hi, Papa! Hi!"

Here, she looks at Mama:

"I'm sorry, are you still there? Do you need something?"

Here, she looks at Papa:

"Oh, Papa! You're so funny!"

At Mama:

"Seriously, lady, what's your problem?"

At Papa:

"Bwah ha ha ha!! Papa, you're the best!!"

See?  This is what I’m dealing with here.  The child is playing favorites, and she’s doing it with the wrong parent!

But what can you do?

I mean, really, what can I do?  Let’s think of things.  Maybe I’ll be the first to feed her chocolate…

*If you ask me, the greatest thing since sliced bread is Dave’s Killer Bread.  It’s very, very good.  And I’m not just saying that because they fed it to me in the birth center moments after I gave birth, while I was all hopped up on endorphins.  It’s amazingly good bread.   http://www.daveskillerbread.com/

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Italian For Moms

Kane’s parents were so generous as to give us an Ipod Touch recently.  It’s great for staying in touch (punny!) with friends and family via Facetime, but it’s also great for other things.  (Kate discovered the free apps section of the itunes store and hasn’t been bored since.)  One little program I put on our ipod is Google Translate.  It’s really cool.  You can enter any words or phrases and have them translated for you, into any of a bunch of different languages.  There’s also a little woman who will speak the words and phrases for you, so you know you’re saying it right!  (Not a real little woman, but a little woman’s voice… and I imagine it’s a tiny woman inside the ipod, okay?)

I have always loved languages and learning how to say things in new ways.  Especially ways that no one around me will understand, I guess.  But it’s fun!  And I think it exercises your brain, which is more fun than exercising your body, because it doesn’t hurt.  So now, with some help from this Google Translate app, I’ve decided to learn Italian.  I chose Italian, after trial runs with Chinese, French, Hindi and Dutch, because I can read the letters, and the pronunciation is relatively easy and straightforward.  And I think it’s a pretty language, but I guess I think that about most languages.  Anyway, I’m learning Italian!

Now, the great thing about teaching myself with an ipod is that I can just learn the words and phrases that are useful to me straight off the bat.  No need to waste time learning tenses, verb conjugations or any of that.  (If you’re a foreign language teacher, please forgive me!  I’m just having fun.)  And I figured the easiest way to decide what words and phrases would be most useful to me would be to just start with the things I say most often.  So that’s what I’m doing.  With my translation app, I’m slowly teaching myself to say all my most-used sayings in Italian.  I’ve compiled a list of some of those things for you here, in case you want to learn Italian with me.  Of course, you may need to find your own words and phrases if these aren’t things you say regularly.  But if you’re a mom, I suspect you’ll be able to use at least some of these.  Enjoy!

Kate’s Useful Italian Words and Phrases

 Va bene.     (It’s okay.)

Non piangere.      (Don’t cry.)

Sorriso!              (Smile!)

Andare a dormire.       (Go to sleep.)

Tempo di cambiare pannolini.     (It’s time to change your diaper.)

Tenere ancora.        (Hold still.)

Pensavo fiutato qualcosa.     (I thought I smelled something.)

Temp di vestirsi.  (Time to get dressed.)

No siamo alla moda?    (Aren’t we stylish?)

Sei meravigliosa.      (You are wonderful.)

Dammi un bacio!    (Give me a kiss!)

Che è la mia bambina dolce?   (Who’s my sweet baby?)

Sei tu!       (It’s you!)

Amo le mie ragazze.     (I love my girls.)

Essere tranquillo.       (Be quiet.)   

Calmare.     (Calm down.)

È tempo di pulire la casa.      (It’s time to clean this house.)

Non sono la tua cameriera.     (I’m not your maid.)

Ha fatto un tornado venire attraverso questa stanza?  (Did a tornado come through this room?)

Viviamo con le schimmie?    (Do we live with monkeys?)

Tempo per fare il bucato.   (Time to do laundry.)

Datemi i vostri calzini sporchi.    (Give me your dirty socks.)

Lo vi darò calzini puliti.    (I will give you clean socks.)

Qual è la pozzanghera sul pavimento?    (What is the puddle on the floor?)

Pulite che fino.      (Clean that up.)

Tempo per mangiare!   (Time to eat!)

Ho fatto questo cibo per voi.     (I made this food for you.)

Mi dispiace che tu non ti piace.   (I’m sorry you don’t like it.)

Forse domani se farà la cena per me.    (Maybe tomorrow you will make dinner for me.)

Hai fatto il bagno oggi?  (Have you had a bath today?)

Questa settimana?   (This week?)

L’ora del bagno!   (Bath time!)

Non tocarre.      (Don’t touch.)

Mettete che verso il basso.   (Please put that down.)

Non farlo.    (Don’t do that.)

Ascoltami!    (Listen to me!)

Qualcuno può sentirmi?   (Can anyone hear me?)

Sarò nascosto nella dispensa, se hai bisogno di me.   (I’ll be hiding in the pantry if you need me.)

Ci sono cuccioli e torte in là.     (There are kittens and cakes in there.)

Vedo che mi sento ora.     (I see you hear me now.)

Spegnere il televisore.   (Turn off the television.)

Fare il vostro lavoro.   (Do your homework.)

I combattimenti devono fermarsi.    (The fighting must stop.)

Ignorarla quando fa così.   (Ignore her when she does that.)

Non è un concorso.   (It’s not a contest.)

Ho bisogno di silenzio.   (I need silence.)

Ho bisogno di un pisolino.    (I need a nap.)

Ho bisogno di più braccia.   (I need more arms.)

Ho bisogno di un margarita.    (I need a margarita.)

Lasciami in pace per favore.   (Leave me alone please.)

Almeno fino a quando ho finito in bagno.   (At least until I’m finished in the bathroom.)

Lo non ti sento.  (I can’t hear you.)

La bambina sta piangendo ad alta voce.  (The baby is crying loudly.)

Rispettare i tuoi genitori.    (Respect your parents.)

Finta che io sono il tuo insegnante.   (Pretend I’m your teacher.)

Voi ragazze sono pazze.  (You girls are crazy.)

Usare parole gentili.    (Use kind words.)

Bene, ma almeno dire che in italiano.    (Fine, but at least say it in Italian.)

Siete malvagio.*    (You are wicked.)

orrido *   (horrid)

peggiori genitori del mondo*      (the worst parents in the world)

Ti odio.*    (I hate you.)

Vorrei non essere mai nato.*    (I wish I was never born.)

Questo è il giorno peggiore della mia vita.*    (This is the worst day of my life.)

Posso guardare la televisione?*    (May I watch television?)

Posso avere qualche caramella?*   (May I have some candy?)

Per favore?*  (Please?)

Mi dispiace.*   (I’m sorry.)

Ti amo.*   (I love you.)

*Italian for kids

Alla Fine  (The End)


The Things That Bring Us Joy

I don’t like cleaning.  I hate cleaning.  I know that’s not a very original or interesting thing to dislike, but don’t worry – that’s not what this post is about.  I just wanted to get that out there, so that you don’t get the wrong idea when you read the rest of what I’m going to say here.  Kate hates cleaning.

So now I’m a stay-at-home mom.  A bona fide housewife.  And it turns out I really, really like that job.  I’m honestly totally happy and satisfied doing it, at least right now.  But it sure does involve a lot of cleaning.  And remember what we talked about?  Kate hates cleaning.

But I’m a big fan of being where you are and making the most of what you’ve got.  And of doing the heck out of whatever it is you’re doing, whether it’s your favorite thing to do or not.  I have a hand-painted, flower-shaped, wooden plaque hanging on the wall upstairs that says “Bloom where you are planted.”  I love that saying.  You often can’t choose your circumstances, but you can almost always choose what you do with them.  Anyway, my point is that if I’m going to spend as much of my time cleaning as this job apparently entails, I better make it mine somehow, so that I can do it like I mean it and not hate getting up in the morning.

Do you know what I like?  1. Making potions.  2. And good smells.  3. Decorating things.  4. And meadows.

One thing that’s making cleaning more fun for me right now is cleaning with potions.  They’re not really potions, but I call them that.  Actually, if a potion is a liquid concoction with the power to change something… maybe they are really potions.  But anyway, I call them potions, and that’s that.  But another name for them would be cleaning products.  And the fun part is making them myself!  (It’s not a potion if I buy it in the store and wipe my counters with it.  Then it’s Mrs. Meyers.)  Now, it’s kind of funny that I would enjoy making my own cleaning products, since it sort of seems like that’s just combining cleaning and cooking.  I don’t like cooking, and you know how I feel about cleaning.  But it’s SO fun!  I’m only just getting into it, but I’m already obsessed.  I want to make potions all day and then clean stuff with them.

What my kitchen counter looks like when I'm mixing up potions

One thing I make is cloth wipe solution.  This is what I use, as you might guess, with cloth wipes to wipe a baby’s butt.  I got the first recipe I tried from my good friend, Jeanna.  (Thanks, Jeanna!)  And then I’ve gotten other recipes and ideas for modifications from the internet, like from here:  http://www.zany-zebra.com/cloth-wipe-solution.shtml    It’s a fun kind of project, because it’s pretty hard to mess up.  Every time I make it, I try something a little different, and it’s always fine!  It always smells good, and it’s never once burned holes in the wipes or made red blisters appear on the baby.  Success!

The most recent potion I’ve learned how to make is laundry detergent, inspired and instructed by Anne, another good friend of mine who made an appearance here in our Thanksgiving post.  She gave me some pointers and sent me here for the recipe:  http://tipnut.com/10-homemade-laundry-soap-detergent-recipes/  (Anne and I used #3.)  With this one, I didn’t dare modify the recipe, because it seemed like there was some more chemistry involved, and I don’t know anything about that.  And luckily, the recipe was short enough that I could get through reading it without getting bored and inserting my own steps or ingredients, like I do.  That’s why I should never bake – my short attention span and ill-timed creativity when reading recipes make for some nasty baked goods.  But anyway, this recipe I could do.  And I did it!  And it was fun, even though it turns out grating bar soap isn’t as fun as it sounds.  I made laundry detergent and it worked!  It didn’t even turn our clothes yellow or flood the laundry room floor with foamy bubbles!

The finished product, ready to wash some clothes

I added lavender and tea tree essential oils to my detergent, because as I mentioned above, I love good smells.  I think they’re overpowered in the detergent by the smell of the bar soap I used (Fels Naptha), but that’s okay, because that smells good too!

I also said I like decorating things, and that’s another way I discovered that I could make this cleaning stuff my own.  I was thinking about it this morning and about how much laundry I do (a lot), and I decided that if I’m going to spend that much time in the laundry room, I should like being in there.  So today I decorated it!  I basically just found a bunch of stuff I wanted to look at, and I stuck it to the walls. But I love it!

Eila helped me decorate.

Okay, she mostly just lay there in her moses basket.

How Eila really felt about helping me decorate

Wait, why are all these people in my laundry room?

They're crazy.

Now I want to do laundry all day long!

Well, those are some of the ways I’m making my daily life more fun.  And I’m even saving money and cutting back on waste in the process!  And I have the prettiest laundry room ever.  And a pretty laundry room is like a meadow.  There, I had to tie thing-I-like-number-4 in somehow.

So do I like cleaning now?  Well, no.  Why do you think I spent all morning taping stuff to the laundry room wall?  I was putting off cleaning the kitchen.

Oh, Christmas Tree

The big girls and Kane went around the corner to get our Christmas tree on Saturday.  Literally around the corner, to a Christmas tree lot that sprung up a week or so ago in the very residential zone that is our neighborhood.  They had a hand-painted sign that mentioned fifteen-dollar trees, and we have a newborn at home.  These two seemingly-unrelated things sum up to why we didn’t go out to cut our own tree on some little family farm this year.  There’s just no time, money or energy for that this year.  Maybe next year.  Or maybe one of those living Christmas trees.  You know the ones?  Where you buy a live tree that’s dug up to live in your house for a month or so, and then is returned to the forest around New Years, so that it may celebrate the holidays once again with its deer and chipmunk friends, and live to see another Christmas.  Pretty cool.  Anyway, that’s NOT what we did this year.  This year finds us in a new house, in a new town, with a new job, new school and new baby.  This is a year for making Christmas (and life in general) as easy and simple as we can.  So we bought a regular, chopped, $20 tree, and drove it the 20 yards back to our house.

Davia and Shaelyn, right outside the lot with our new tree

First impressions were good.  The big girls burst into the house and greeted Eila and myself with the news that they had found THE perfect tree.  I had seen them off with instructions to get the smelliest (good smelly) tree they could find, so that was my first question.  At first sniff, I wasn’t sure they had listened, and maybe they didn’t.  But we let the tree sit in our living room for a day, and our house now reeks of Christmas spirit.  So it turned out to be perfect in that regard.

Appearance-wise, to the untrained eye, the tree is fine.  After all, it’s tree shaped.  And green.  And, you know, branchy and needly.  But some taller members of the family, who have a more refined eye for visual detail, noticed that the tree does have some rather bald spots up top, and it does, if you look closely (or at all), appear to lazily rest some of its lower branches on the floor.  Like the missing bits from up top are leaking out the bottom or something.  But who cares!  It’s smells good! Kane also observed that our tree-stand is maybe not made for such tall trees.  Maybe it’s made more for Christmas bushes.  Or for hollow trees.  Or… it’s just a cheap stand.  Anyway, it’s very possible that this tree will tip at least once by Christmas.  Just like the last tree we put in this stand did.  Note to self:  We need a new Christmas tree stand.  But the important thing is that our house smells very festive and merry.

We all decorated our lovely tree together as a family.  Well, Kate and Eila just watched and took pictures.

Kate and Eila supervise the tree-decorating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kane put the lights and tinsel garlands on the tree. Shaelyn and Davia were on candycane duty and were also jointly in charge of ornamentation.

Kane and Shaelyn, decorating the tree

Davia hangs an ornament... apparently wearing a white glove (?)

Tree-decorating Committee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tree turned out lovely, even if it is dragging on the floor.  And even if it might fall down.

Merry Christmas!!

 

Turning Up the Cute

And in Eila news, we still have a super cute baby here.  She gets cuter every day.  She’s just started flashing us some “social” smiles, which apparently are the alternative to “spontaneous” smiles (like what newborns do), and are indeed much more satisfying and exciting for the smiled-upon.  Watch out, parents, grandparents and other loved ones, this smile looks like one that will be hard to say no to.

This picture was actually taken a couple days before we saw her first real I’m-smiling-at-you smile, but it’s the same basic expression, so this serves as an appropriate illustration.  I mean, come on – dimples?!  You flash those things at me, and I’m putty in your hands, kid!

Look how cute she is!

Batting her eyelashes.

TOO cute!!!

Sushi

Shaelyn and Davia love sushi.  Like so much that if, say, their mom forgot it was an early day and was late picking them up from school, they could be bribed into setting their anger toward her aside with a trip to the local sushi joint.  We’re lucky, because there’s a sushi place right by our house that is dirt cheap!  We may or may not have reason to believe that vegetable tempura from this restaurant gave our friend food poisoning, but we still go there.  We just don’t order the tempura.  Or the miso soup, which despite our being told it could be made vegetarian once came with chunks of chicken floating in it.  But all that aside, this place is fantastic!  Any place where tiny boats bring you food is obviously a good place, but this place is also cheap!  Like a tiny, floating plate of six avocado rolls will only set you back one dollar!  That’s a steal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See?  You can’t even tell from this picture that only moments before, these girls were sitting in the principal’s office at school, wondering if they had been abandoned by their space case of a mother.  That’s the power of sushi.  And by sushi, in this case, we don’t mean anything with raw fish in it.  We don’t have anything against eating things raw, but we’re vegetarians!  So the only part of our sushi that used to swim is the seaweed.  Some might say this doesn’t count as sushi, but yes it does.  They’re thinking of sashimi.  But that’s not what this story is about.  This story is about two 8-year-old girls to whom sushi is a special treat.  And when you have a place nearby where you can feed them both sushi for five bucks, that’s a pretty good thing.

Our Laika Tour, on the set of Paranorman

Yesterday we got to tour the studio where Paranorman (the movie Kane’s working on now) is being made.  I can’t think of words for how impressed I was, maybe because I just woke up, but probably because it was really that amazing.  I’ve never seen anything like what I saw yesterday in that studio.  We got to see how they make the sets and the characters, and it seemed to me like what they were doing should be impossible.  Basically, every single frame in the movie is made of excruciatingly detailed little models – every leaf, every light switch, every shoelace is in there, much of it made by hand.  Like if you think of how detailed the real world around you is, that’s pretty much how detailed these sets are.  Even letters and numbers on things that no one’s ever going to see up close (like a book in a library of hundreds of books) are there.  And that’s every FRAME in the movie!  Our tour guide told us that the whole studio completes about 60 – 90 SECONDS per week.  PER WEEK!!  Five hundred people, working like they’ve got OCD and an intravenous coffee drip, can finish about a minute of this movie in a whole week.  And honestly, I’m surprised they can even do that after seeing how much goes into each teeny, tiny thing you see in the film.  Very impressive stuff.

Here’s the trailer for the movie, which won’t be out until August, but will surely be worth the wait…