Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Home Movie

The girl calls this "The Movie I Stole From My Brother":

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hell to the . . .

I find it interesting that, currently, my blog roll has a post title called "Hell to the No" and another post title called "Hell to the Yeah." One is about Faulkner. One is about shrugs.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oh No She Di'nt!

Setting: The playground at my son's school, Saturday morning. The kids are playing on the slides.

Boy: Want to see me do a wiener buster? [followed by great laughter]

Me: A what?!

Boy: [Laughing, going up the slide] A wiener buster.

Boy: [He gets to the top of the slide and points out a large, bumpy ridge between two slides] That's the wiener buster.

Me: Oh, that doesn't look like a good idea.

Boy: [Nodding in serious contemplation, he goes down the regular slide]

Girl: [Goes down the slide on her belly, feet first]. I did a vagina smusher!

Me and the Boy: [Laughing]

Girl: [yelling from the top of the slide] It made a vagina sandwich! And then someone can eat my vagina!!!

End scene.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Swimming and Soccer and Dance class--Oh my!

This post is inspired by one of Ink's posts that addressed the way her weekends are different from the way they were in her single days. And what she said connected to some of the guilt I've been having lately. Of course, I have lots of sources of guilt, but let's address just one of them, shall we?

Confession: My kids are not currently enrolled in any lessons, classes, or activities.

Now. Part of this is because we were gone for a lot of the summer (as we often are), so it's hard to do much more than a short stint of swim lessons. Plus, since the boy broke his leg, soccer was a bust (and we were going to miss classes because of our trip anyway).

We have done lessons in the past. The boy (who is six) did karate for a while last year, but he stopped wanting to go because it was on the afternoon that my husband and his brother would get together so that the cousins could play. When the boy was a toddler, he did gymnastics, but he was more interested in the construction of the apparatus than actually doing the activities, so we stopped.

The girl (who is four) did dance last year, but at the end of the year, she got tired of going. She says she doesn't want to go anymore because she already knows how to dance, and at dance class she just gets bossed around a lot and doesn't really get to actually dance (despite the fact that she had a very good, fun dance teacher). In the car yesterday, I said, "But didn't you like learning routines with the other girls and doing the recitals?" Her response: "Let's just not talk about it right now."

We signed them both up for soccer in the summer, but the girl didn't want to do it because her teacher was a boy, and, as I mentioned above, our boy's leg was broken. Plus, as I also said above, we missed a lot b/c of the trip anyway.

And here are just some of the things their friends are doing: horse riding lessons, soccer, T-ball, swim lessons, dance, gymnastics, piano lessons, 4-H, French lessons, Chinese lessons, karate, summer camps, and so on.

Currently, they are both expressing some interest in gymnastics again, so we might try to get that going. But here's the thing: These kinds of activities are really disruptive to a peaceful family lifestyle. Here is a list of things that my kids like to do that are impacted significantly by lessons: afternoons with grandparents, visits to farmers market, bike riding, gardening, family dinners together, fishing, tea parties, tree climbing, baking, kayaking, time with friends, time with cousins, weekend adventures, reading, trips to the park, trips to the beach, hikes, building things, drawing, and so on. Oh, and plus the boy is starting to have some homework (just a little bit).

It's not that I don't think they should be involved in some organized activities. I do. I worry about them being left behind in music or soccer or languages or golf or whatever. I worry that, suddenly, they will be 10 and 12, and they'll be upset that it's too late to start soccer or play baseball or dance en pointe. Or that they'll feel like they missed out on something. Or that they'll only speak one language. Or that they won't get into college. Or that they'll start doing drugs because they have no structure . . .

But now that the boy is in school everyday until 2:30, I'm realizing that there just isn't that much time in the day, especially if we want to all sit down at the table together to have dinner in the evenings. Plus, they go to my mom's two afternoons a week, and the kids would hate to lose that time. Maybe it would be different if I didn't work, but I'm not sure it would matter.

I don't have any conclusions here. I just have a quandry. So I'm eager to hear your thoughts, my dear blog peeps.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Home Again!

Had a smooth (but long, SO long) trip home to my awesome family, and they took me out for sushi when I arrived.

At dinner:

Me: So, what was the best part of the week?

The Boy: All of it.

The Girl: When you came back.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

c18 Day

Went to Dr. Johnson's House today to celebrate his 300th b-day (which was actually yesterday). Apparently, a lot of other people wanted to go celebrate (or they just wanted the free admission). When I arrived, the line to get inside was very long, so I popped around the corner to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. There, I got a fish cake and some chips, along with a half pint of bitter. Thus fortified, I went to wait in line, which, fortunately, went very quickly. As for the house itself, there wasn't much furniture or "stuff" inside, but most of the house's structure is original, and it had some cool architectural features. Also, there were a few books that Johnson had actually owned and touched, which was kind of amazing. And it was cool to be in the room where Johnson wrote his Dictionary.

Afterwards, I went to the Enlightenment Room at the British Musuem. It was my first time in the BM, and I was just plain awed by the building itself. In the Enlightenment Room (the ER), I think my favorite things were pieces of Josiah Wedgewood's Jasperware.

Then, after dinner, I went on quixotic search for one particular book, walking all the way to Charing Cross where there are so many bookstores--but no luck. Now, I'm back at my hotel room with tired tootsies, stiff legs, and only about 70 pages left of my novel before I am Without. Leisure. Reading. I'm hoping to find a decent bookstore at the aiport tomorrow. Yes, airport! I am heading home to the family!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Back in London

Well, I'm back in London. I'm excited about my plans for tomorrow, but I'm bummed about my hotel room. My favorite hotel, the Euro Hotel, was booked for this weekend, so I found a room at a place about 100 yards from the Euro. But this place seems to suck. Okay, maybe "suck" is too strong a word, but I guess I've been spoiled by the Euro, which I love. At the Euro, the rooms are small but sort of charming, and I usually have a nice view over the garden. It's bright and clean, it feels safe, and a lot of families stay there. It just feels warm and welcoming, and it makes me happy.

In my current hotel, I'm below the ground floor in a long, tiny, shabby room. There is a window (thanks be to Apollo!), but it doesn't bring in a whole lot of light. As for the bed, which was already rumpled when I came in, it seems super flimsy, and the sheets are scratchy. Plus, I'm right next to the breakfast room, which is bound to be noisy and smelly. I asked if there might be a different room on an upper floor with a better window, but no dice. I think the guy just didn't want to bother.

Plus, I miss the nice, young Eastern Europeon women who run the Euro. I think having the women around makes me feel more comfortable since I'm traveling alone. Here in my dungeon room with a man at the desk, I'm not as relaxed. When I stay at the Euro, I don't mind that I share the bathrooms on the floor with others. Here, I am very glad I have a toilet and shower en suite.

Well, at least I probably won't be here much during the day tomorrow. I plan to head over to the Samuel Johnson House Museum in the morning. Today is Dr. Johnson's birthday! 300 years old! I'm missing the cake celebration at his house today, but admission is free tomorrow as the celebration continues. After that, if I have time, I'll go to the Enlightenment Room at the British Museum. Then I'll come back to my sad little hotel room.

In a few minutes, I'm going to go get some dinner. Then I'll come back to my sad little hotel room.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Attn: Buffy Fans

So, quick question: Any thoughts about the significance of Buffy's fashion choices? In other words, what shall we make of the fact that she dresses like Nancy Sinatra?

Oh, and about Angel? Sha-zizzle!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I am Here

Lovely, yes? Although I must admit that much of the campus itself is quite ordinary, most of the town is beautiful.


So, on Sunday, I sat down for dinner at a restaurant called Balfour. After I ordered my food, I opened to the first page of A Conspiracy of Paper to find a character named William Balfour. I went back to the hotel, got ready for sleep, and settled down with the first episode of Buffy, which included the actor Eric Balfour.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Take That, Jet Lag!

I managed to stay up until about 7:30pm last night, and I slept soundly until 5:30ish this morning, which should go along way towards keeping me on the right sleeping/waking schedule.

To stay awake, I visited the Dickens House Museum. It was fun to be in a place where he wrote some of his books, and it was interesting to see the original, serialized versions of some of his novels. Plus, I saw Dickens's comode chair!

After the museum, I found a decent place to get pasta, salad, and wine, and while I ate I started the David Liss novel, which I'm loving because it's just steeped in c18 London! Steeped! And, I must say, I just love my little spot over in the Bloomsbury/Russell Square area. It's becoming my own little London neighborhood when I visit!

Then today, I took the train to Wales. A long trip, but relaxing and beautiful. Perhaps I like Wales so much because it looks a lot like Central California (if Central California had more rain and more sheep).

Spoke to hubby, who was getting the kids ready for school (it was morning there, afternoon here). The boy didn't want to talk to me (he was engrossed in an episode of Survivorman, so who can blame him?), but the girl wanted to talk. How cute is a four-year old on the phone? Very cute. Her first question was, "How many days until you come home?" Then she told me about the fun they had camping. Camping is a great diversion when Mommy is gone. I can tell she misses me, but I think she'll make it. As for the boy, he's much more practical about my absence, saying, "It's just a week, Mommy. We'll have lots of fun so the time passes quickly for us."

Now I'm futzing around on the computer while watching what seems to be a British version of HGTV. Soon, it's dinner downstairs in the hotel. Then, back to my room to either

a) do academic work
b) read the David Liss novel
c) watch Buffy
d) watch How Green was My Valley
e) watch more home shows on the "More" channel

or some combination thereof. Tomorrow it's off to the library and my first meeting with the supervisor!

post-post edit://After a small dinner here at the hotel, I took a taxi down to the shore to watch the sunset over Ceredigion Bay (I've never had such good weather here!). Then I stopped by one of my favorite restaurants here to have port and a chocolate torte! Mmmmm. But I also read two articles, so I wasn't totally playing hooky from the work.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hello London-town!

Well, after a long red-eye flight and only about 40 minutes of sleep over "night", I am safely stowed in my favorite little B & B hotel near the British library. The nice woman let me check in early (before noon!), and now the trick will be to try to stay awake until at least 8:00pm. This will not be easy. It's currently 4:25a.m. California time, and it will be noon in CA by the time I'm "allowed" to go to sleep here.

This means that even though I so badly want to lay down on the nice tiny bed in my nice tiny room, I'm going to have to go out and about for a while. See the sights through my very bleary eyes. I'm thinking about looking for the Dickens House Museum. I don't think I can handle anything much bigger than that today.

The flight was smooth, and I landed safely, so I probably shouldn't bother complaining about how unfriendly the "friendly skies" were today. The head flight attendant sounded like Paula Poundstone without her wry but endearing tone. At one point, she said, "The captain has turned on the seatbelt signs for a reason. Please take your seats." Very ominous. The rest of the crew gave off a similar vibe.

Since I couldn't sleep, I blew through Lorrie Moore's new novel. It definitely had some good parts, but some sections seemed a little overdone and indulgent. Am I allowed to say that about Lorrie Moore? Maybe not. But there were puns that actually made me groan. And I don't think they were just the character's puns. You'll have to read it and let me know what you think.

But I have plenty of DVDs for another night when I'm not planning to pass out by 8:00 (if not before). I have North and South. I have How Green Was My Valley (which I had not heard of before but which is so perfect for this trip). For something completely different, I have the first two seasons of Buffy, and I have the first season of Arrested Development.

And for my reading pleasure (when I'm not reading the academic stuff), I'm on to David Liss's A Conspiracy of Paper. This way, when I'm not studying, I can pretend I'm doing contextual history stuff. I haven't read Liss before, so we'll see.*

My eyes are burning. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to make it until 8:00. Yawn.

*Really, I am going to work on the dissertation, but I just can't do it after about 8:00 or 9:00 at night when I'm in my hotel room missing my family so much. Then, I need true diversions.

P.S. The night before I left, we harvested ten green beans from the garden! My first green beans ever. I know you're probably not very impressed, but I cooked them up and they were absolutely the best green beans ever. And we have a tomato that's getting red! I instructed the boy to keep a close eye on it while I'm gone so that the bugs/slugs don't get it before we do.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Baboons Again!

Hey, it's the same show on PBS about stress that I saw last September (that I posted about)! I love how the hippie scientist guy is talking about how all of the alpha males of a baboon troup got wiped out, and he says "the remaining male baboons, to use scientific jargon, are just really good guys."

Okay, back to Eliza Haywood.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Okay. It's time to start thinking about my trip to Wales. I leave in four days, and I have done nothing to pack or get my things/confirmations in order.

I think I've kept it in the back of my mind because a) I get nervous flying and b) I'm going to miss the family terribly.

Plus, I need to finish my short writing piece for my supervisor.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ice Cream Man

No, it's not the Tom Waits song. Although I do, indeed, love that song.

Today, I was sitting in the backyard while the kids were playing in the inflatable pool (in their wetsuits so they wouldn't freeze in the coastal breeze), and all of a sudden I registered a sound--a tinkling, musical sound. I sat forward in my chair and said, "Is that? Oh my gosh . . . "

The kids stopped at looked at me, "What, Mommy, what?" said my quick-to-become-concerned son. I said, "I'll be right back." I ran to the front yard and out to the street, and I'll be damned if it wasn't an honest-to-goodness absolutely for real Ice Cream Truck.

My children have never see an ice cream truck, so I grabbed the wallet, ran to the backyard and said, "Come with me!" They were a bit alarmed, but they were game, so they followed along, barefoot, freezing in the breeze. They were pretty excited, but since they couldn't appreciate the nostalgia of the moment, I'm not sure they were as excited as I was.

I guess the truck's been coming around for a couple of months, but since we've been gone so much, we haven't seen him. He was talking about getting his business license in a nearby town and said it took two months because the official didn't know how to do it: No one had applied for an ice cream truck business license in the town for fifty years.

The boy got an ice cream sandwich. The girl got a Pink Panther ice cream pop. My husband got some kind of crunch thing, and I got shaved ice.

The kids were too cold to get back in the pool.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Can we just take a minute to appreciate how incredibly awesome and cool Patty Griffin is?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Eat Your Heart Out, Wordsworth

Today was a very warm day on the Central Coast. My town, which only occasionally makes it out of the 60-degree range, hit 80 today. After dinner, my husband proposed a kayaking adventure across the bay to the dunes. Actually, he had planned to just take the boy, but then the girl was rather alarmed at such an adventure happening without her. So, in the end, after much discussion and boat adjustments, we all four headed out.

We live just a few blocks from the bay, and we got there just before sunset. We lauched just as the sun dipped below the dunes, and as we paddled, the sky turned pink, purple, and orange--as did the water. All the while, the moon (full?) was rising behind us. We saw bat rays, otters, seals, birds, and fish.

When we got to the dunes, it was pretty dark, and the kids were giddy. It was so funny watching their little silhouettes running around with that excited little run they get. You know that run? The straight-armed one? The boy asked if his friends were probably asleep and was thrilled at the idea that he was scrambling on the dunes while they slept. We made it to the top of the dune where we could look out and see the ocean and a long stretch of coastline.

We headed back down to the bay's edge so that the boy could fish for a bit while the hubby had a beer and the girl had a juice box. Then the girl did lots of log rolls down the dune hills.

On the way back across the bay, the moon was directly ahead of us, and the water was just about as glassy as it could be. And it was still close to 70 degrees. We made it back to the shore and the car just before the kids (read: the girl) got too tired and too uncomfortable. After a bath and a bit of The Secret Garden, they were out.

All in all, just incredible. (And although I didn't take this picture, it is a photo of the place where we kayaked tonight.)


I got some Spanx for my matron of honor dress (I'm standing up for my Cousin, The Thirty-Something Bride, in October). This is my first foray into the Spanx arena, and I think they might be too small. But how is one to tell?