Thursday, April 30, 2009

Breakfast Standing Up

If I ever decided to write a book about the insanity of twinning, I think that would be the title.

Either that or A Cold Cup of Tea.

How long does it take "normal" people to have a cup of tea in the morning? How about people with singletons? It's taking me anywhere from 2 to 4 hours to finish that first cup of tea. Oh and I'm not allowed to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner while sitting.

Sitting and eating, you see, is an offense against Those Who Are Not Sitting In Your Lap. Also, since they outnumber me, I can only put one in my lap and still eat or feed the lap winner. This leaves the second one standing next to me whining and crying. Excellent background music to aid the digestion, let me tell you!

One day, when these kids are all teenagers, I have every intention of sitting in their laps and stealing their dinner. You just wait!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A whole box of cute

I thought I was going to spend the day gardening, but it snowed last night. So that was out.

Then I thought I was going to spend the day planting more seeds indoors. But that didn't happen.

Something...something came up.

A kitty named Basta.

A hand raised, bottle fed, 4 week old kitty named Basta.

Emma says: "Kitty!"

Close up of cuteness!

Schlurp! Schlurp! Schlurp!

Oh and he brought his brother and sister.

Two headed catastrophe of cuteness
That's Jag.


I've seen Emma make that same face.

I've already found a home!

Jag is the only girl. There are two boys. The first one, the one that looks like mini-Pixel, is currently named Basta since he talks alot (Basta is Italian for Enough!). His crying saved their lives. Apparently momma kitty (outdoor, feral farm cat) went away one day and didn't come back. Heather heard his crying and rescued them from imminent doom. They were only a few days old when that happened and she's been bottle feeding them ever since.

Every two hours.

Yeah, she's tired.

I can't remember what this kitty's name is currently. He's a beautiful all-over marmalade color with spots on his belly and a swirl on his side. When I held him, he snuggled into my arms and my brain ran out of my ears in a rushing stream of hot goo and all the reasons I don't need another cat ran out with it.

Can you hear the tiniest of honk-shus?

If you zoom in, you can see many of the tiny scratches on Heather's arms that she gets while feeding the kittens. And I thought the twins had sharp fingernails!

You are disturbing my rest for peeksures?

I'm not sayin' I'm gettin' another kitten.

Heather was dropping Tara off for a playdate with Caitlin and just "happened" to have a box o' kitties with her. I'm just sayin' they all came in and we sat on the floor and played with kittens for a few...hours. And snuggled them. And waved them in Eric's general direction.

A lot.

What better way to spend a Monday?

Say it with me, now: "Eeeeeeeee!"

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sand Trap!

The problem: Dirt munchers keep tossing all of the potting soil out of my pots.

The answer: Build a sand trap.

That's right. What better way to distract one's toddlers from the pots filled with potting soil but duct tape them to the side of the house to give them their very own container filled with sand.

"The twins need something to do on the deck while I'm outside working." sez Me. "I bet they'd like a sand table! You there! Lazy Husband! Build me a sand table!"

And Lo! He built a sand table using the disused cat litter box I suggested (after I cleaned that sucker back to Factory Clean levels of clean), some scrap lumber and a few wood screws. I then set off for the store and paid $3 for 50 lbs of play sand, since "all purpose sand" appears to not have as many purposes as you may have thought (May contain silica dust. Do not inhale. Not for use in sandboxes.), put it all together and took it out for a test drive.

As for the twins reaction to the sand trap table:
They loved it.

Just think of all the great things they can learn from a sand table!

Wind + sand = downwind hazard zone.

Sand: good for playing, not so good for drinking.

Sand: pours like a liquid, but you don't get wet.

Sand toys = anything you have. Tiny pots with holes. Cups. Spoons. Forks.

My personal favorite thing learned: Sand keeps babies from munching dirt. Instead, they munch sand. Win-win for all involved!

Second favorite: That husband guy is a handy little thing to have around!

Later, in the summer, I will pull out the sand box and put in an identically sized box that has water in it. That way the twins can splash around to their heart's content and (even more importantly) stay out of my pots!

Reduce, reuse and recycle, baby! This may have been the best $3 I've ever spent.

Friday, April 24, 2009


It's broken.

I broke it.

Somehow I managed to break my pizza stone right in half, on Wednesday, in the middle of baking the second pizza. It was already hot, so it wasn't a sudden temperature change.

I guess I have to blame it on more frequent use than a stone that thin could handle.

Oh and my peel is broken too, although that happened awhile back. Eric managed to snap off 1/5th of it, which makes it hard to slide a pizza into the oven. Instead I've been making do with the back of a cookie sheet.

Now the question is this: do I replace them both or just keep making do?

Does anyone know of a place (local to me in the Boulder/Denver area) that cuts tile? I still have an old stone that is about 1" too long to fit into my oven and if I can get it trimmed, it will work.

Oh well.

Right now, for instance, I'm cooking an Asiago cheese bread on the back of a cookie sheet. I bet it will still taste good.

At least, I hope so!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Succulent Morsels

Someone stop me before I shop again!

After my last shopping expedition, I had to find a great pot to put my tiny little purchases in. Since I didn't have one pot, but several that would work, I suddenly found myself "needing" to get a few more succulents to fill up the other pots I rounded up.

It was either that or put them all into one huge pot.

I considered it. Then I thought if I did that then I'd just want even more succulents just to fill the other 3 pots I'd found. It's a slippery slope, this planting obsession. Good thing I haven't gotten into "collecting" pots.


I ended up with another 11. I'm not sure how that keeps happening to me. The plants, they just leap into my cart!

Top: Senecio hawarthii 'Cocoon plant' (thoughts of pod people dance through my head), Left: Kalanchoe thyrsiflora 'Flippin Flapjacks', (Love the name!) Right: Aeonium arboreum atropurpurem 'Zwartzkop' (I've always wanted one of these!)

Top: Plush plant, for Caitlin this time, Left: Anacampseros refuscens 'Little purple dude'. At least, that's what I'm calling it! Right: Adromishus cristatus 'Key Lime Pie'

Middle left: Fenestraria rhodalophylla 'Baby Toes', Top Right: Sedum rubrotinctum 'Christmas Cheer', bottom: Senecio rowleyanus 'String of Pearls'

Left: Crassula nudicalus var. platyphylla, Right: Aloe descoingsii x A. hawarthioides

While the twins were napping and I probably should have been cleaning up my garden beds, I put my succulents into their new homes and topped them off with polished river stones. Oooh! Aaah!
Echeveria 'Lucita', Aeonium 'Zwartzkop', Echeveria 'Blue Rose'.

Detail shot.

Senecio 'Silver Coral', Echeveria 'Black Prince, Sedum 'Christmas Cheer'.

Detail shot.

Aloe, Graptoveria 'Spirit of 76', String of Pearls

Finally, the big strawberry pot. The pot in which I cannot keep strawberries alive because it keeps drying out seemed like the perfect place to put plants that thrive on being dry.
Top: 'Cocoon plant', Echeveria agavoides, 'Flippin Flapjacks', Left: Plush Plant, Bottom: Sedum 'Burrito', Right: Crassula nudicalus.

The other side of the same pot.
Left: 'Key Lime Pie', 'Baby Toes', Echeveria 'Perle von Nurnberg'.

I added a bunch of sand to the potting mix that was already in there in the hope that it will be enough to make it "fast draining" soil. Frankly, it's so dry here in Colorado that I really doubt anything will die from over watering. I also determined that putting the plants into separate pots was a good thing, once I had to lift up the strawberry pot to bring it in for the night. That sandy soil is heavy! Also, this way I might be able to avoid losing all of my plants in one go.

Then the twins woke up. They wanted to help.
Emma offers to water my new plants. Yes, that is potting soil she's been eating.

Logan grabs the saucer off the bottom of a pot and goes exploring in a big pot of soil.

Emma grabs a spade and digs in.

Logan and Emma play in the enormous pot of soil. They have no idea what's in store for them in the future! Weed pulling in 4 more years!

I also potted up Caitlin's plush plant for her in a tiny decorative pot and together we planted some pea seeds in her square foot garden. I had her put in 2 squares of snap peas (since those are her favorites) and 1 square each of snow peas and string peas. I know that she'll like the other kinds, too, so I wanted to make sure she'd have enough to share.

Have I mentioned how cool it is to have a kid that likes vegetables? It surely is! She's really looking forward to growing her very own tomato, pepper, cucumber and watermelon plants (and all of the other ones on her list). I'm looking forward to having someone join me in the garden that might actually like weeding. Or, at the very least, be willing to do some weeding in exchange for fruits and veggies.

In the basement, more of my tomato seedling are up, as are my peppers. Outside, my spinach and lettuce mix are finally germinating and I think I spotted tiny carrot seedling. Either that or they could be portulaca seeds from last year's pot. I guess I'll just wait and see!

Oh and happy Earth Day, by the way. Did you do anything special today?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Food so good...

it engenders speech in babies.

That's right. Babies.

I made homemade pizza tonight from the Olive Oil dough in AB5M (Omygod! Just go buy a copy already!) with a little tomato sauce, some ground beef, pepperoni, mozzarella and a shredded cheese mix Eric picked up from the store (I said Asiago and Mozzarella. I got something in a bag. Fortunately, it was good.). Eric cut the pizza up into tiny pieces for Emma and Logan to try and they loved it.

Loved it so much that Logan walked back into the kitchen signing "more" and saying "Peez! Peezah! Peeets!"

Did I have a camera anywhere near me? Nope. Was the video camera charged? Nuh-uh.

You'll have to take my word for it. It was exceptionally cute.

Oh and everyone else liked it too. Eric liked it so much that he ate the crust. He never eats the crust on pizza, so clearly this was a mark of distinction. Caitlin liked it so much she gave herself a bellyache.


Another open letter to the TSA

This time with less swearing.

Dan (from the comments on the previous entry) was right. Instead of just ranting about it here, I should tell the TSA directly about my experience. So I did.

Here it is, in all of its semi-polite glory:

- - - - -

I went on a trip to NYC on 3/19/09 with my family which includes 1 husband, 1 7.5 year old and a pair (2) 18 month old b/g twins. Since the changes to security, we were required to check any luggage that had liquids in it (e.g. contact lens solution) or buy wasteful miniature versions of same (because of a FAILED attempt at a chemical bomb). We also have to carry on 2 children, 1 booster seat, 3 carry-on bags, jackets for all of the above, 2 blankies, 2 umbrella strollers and ourselves. This makes for a LOT of gear to have to cart through the airport.

This is us, a family of 5, traveling light.

To be stopped during the screening process and have to remove our SHOES because of a SINGLE (failed) instance (of a bomb in shoes), seems ridiculous. Having to remove the shoes of my 18 month old twins is even MORE ridiculous. On top of THAT, having to take away their comforting blankets AND jackets so that those can also be scanned as I carried my shoeless, screaming twins through the metal detector was infuriating.

To make it THIS HARD to get through security puts a chilling effect in place for families that may want to travel. Making it as stressful as it was has ensured that I will NOT be flying and taking my family anywhere again, until such time as either a family member dies or these rules - put in place during a different administration for feel good measures ONLY - are removed.

I feel certain that I am not the only mother that feels this way, either. Considering that the economy of many of our states depends on tourist dollars, making travel harder for no appreciable increase in security is a waste of US taxpayer dollars and time.

I would really love to see these useless measures be removed from the security screening taking place in US airports. Replace it with something that actually WILL increase security.

Oh and you might as well get rid of all of the National Security signs that detail the current colorful state of our threat level. No one pays any attention to those signs anymore. It has become so much background noise. I shudder to think what it costs, nationwide, to pay people to go around and update all of those signs/monitors/etc.

Thank you for your time.

- - - - -

Do I think anything will come of it?


However, should you happen to have something to tell the TSA about your own experience, rather than bottling it up inside (Stress is bad for you, you know. Let it out!), you should let them know directly. Perhaps if we all said something about the ridiculous security measures currently in place, perhaps then something would change.

Here's the link to their Contact page. Thanks again Dan!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Still Drinking Bottled Water?

Watch this trailer for the movie Tapped*.

Then go get yourself a reusable container and start using it like everything you do makes a difference to our planet.

Because it does.

* I just saw this over at No Impact Man. Yowsa!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Weapons of War and Other Sights...In Venice

Originally emailed, June 14, 2006.

There we were, wandering about. Here are a few stolen pics. Check out the giant painting. Can you see the piece of ceiling? The whole thing was painted, gilded and framed. This was one of the audience chambers. Here is a link that shows the interiors! Check it out - virtual tour:

Nice clock. What does it mean? I don't know. Not mentioned on the audio guide. Is it the year of the bull or something? Clearly those are astrological symbols, but what does it mean?!

Also, how do you tell time on this clock?

Exterior views. They graciously allowed us to take pics of exterior views.

Now for the items of warcraft. Suits of armor, spears, wooden horses, swords. It was all there.

Should you meet up with it, do not pet this horse!

Eric was thrilled. No Madonna con Bambinos! Sharp pokey things instead.

The epigraph reads: Francisco Mavroceno Peloponnesiaco Adhvc Viventi Senatvs. He was a great general for Venice.

A view out the window, looking onto the end of the Grand Canal.

Clock on the inner courtyard wall. I took this shot from the Grand Ballroom window. Couldn't shoot inside, but with this height, my exterior shots were much improved!

By the way, here's the courtyard fountain, filled with coins, from above.

This is a statue of a man taming a dragon (possibly the dethroned saint Theodore), one of two granite pillars at the base of the Doge's palace (dated from the 12th century), opening onto the canal in one direction and Piazza San Marco in the other. It was upon these two pillars that many a criminal (and some were falsely accused) ended their lives via hanging, generally after having been tortured first. Nice, huh?

Detail of the Basilica. We didn't pay the cash to walk to the top of it, we just got to walk around inside and ooh and ahh over the mosaic marble floors (that I wasn't allowed to photograph) and such.

Ponte dei Sospri: the Bridge of Sighs. It was through the palace and over this bridge to the prisons went those that displeased the Doge and the Council of Ten. The "sighs" is a reference to the lamentations of the prisoners as they were taken to face torture and possible death. It was a sad place. Eric is standing in front of one of the few windows, through which the prisoners would have their last view of Venice.

A delightfully creepy view out the ancient metal barred windows.

Do you feel claustrophobic yet?

It's nice to know they had capacity ratings on their rooms. Perhaps it was for fire code?

This was a larger room; sleeps four!

Outside again and it's a gondola with gondolier! Iconic Venetian imagery.

And that was the end of our first full day in Venice.

That's right - ONE day.


See the other links in this single day: Part one, two, three and the gratuitous gondola shot. Out of chronological order, here are a few shots from our first day in Florence,

Perusing the Doge's Palace

Originally email June 14, 2006.

We were about to go over to the Doge's palace and along the way I noted some interesting architectural details. Like this: 4 porphyry
A term used somewhat loosely to designate a rock consisting
of a fine-grained base (usually feldspathic) through which
crystals, as of feldspar or quartz, are disseminated. There
are red, purple, and green varieties, which are highly
esteemed as marbles.
figures whom the Venetians called "Moors". Those Italians, they love them some architectural details!

I like the little details they put on the buildings. Does anyone ever notice this stuff?

I loved the detail of the ceiling. Looks nice in black and white, too.

Inside the Doge's Palace (built in 1309, rebuilt after a fire in 1577), in the central courtyard. This is where the riff-raff waited to be recognized before they could have their audience.

Statuary on the roof? "Of course!" say the Italians. "What's a roof without statues on it? Booooring!"

This is a fountain in the middle of the courtyard. All manner of coins in it. Why do tourists do that? Even when there are posted signs asking them to keep their germy money! In this case, though, check out the carving.

Here's the staircase that Rick Steve's tour guide describes as "...a grand staircase (with nearly naked Moses and Paul Newman at the top)." The statues are by Sansovino and the staircase is called Scala dei Giganti (Giant's Stairway).

Clearly they're referring to a young Paul Newman here.

Detail from the staircase.

This was very cool: The Mouth of Truth in which you put information you wanted to give to the Doge or the ruling council in secret. Translated it means: "Put down here your Secrets, against those who oppressed you, freely and officially. Have faith, for those who hide the truth will answer for it." I think we need one of those in Washington!

Going up! This is before all the signs of "No fotografia!" showed up.

Up the stairs! Up the stairs! There are an awful lot of stairs in Venice. Must be the fear of the mud. But since you have so many to climb, you may as well have something to look at on the way up. Tactical thinking. We walked a LOT of stairs and many miles a day in Italy. It was clearly needed to burn off all the gelato we were consuming, but wow! Stairs - very popular ways of going upwards to see fantastical works of art.

Ceiling details.

A door to a room filled with untold wealth.

Door detail shot. Scary!

There's so much more that it still boggles my mind. Also, keep in mind that these are the only shots I was allowed to take. The interior you aren't allowed to photograph, although I remember plenty of people with tiny little point-and-shoot cameras having a field day. However, I with my enormous Canon was too obvious when shooting and thus was told repeatedly "No fotografia!"

It was beautiful. You should go!
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