Archive for September, 2009

auf dem bauernhof

“What is that strange creature over there?”

“I don’t know, e, but don’t get too close.  I don’t like the look of that thing!”

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valtimore in our hearts

I like to travel with my kids.  I am sure that I might change my mind the next time that we get stuck in a major traffic jam or stranded overnight in Cincinnati, but as of today, I like to travel with my kids.

Last weekend we drove up to Baltimore (which my son still calls “Valtimore” which reminds me of Harry Potter’s nemesis) for a family wedding.  Unlike previous car trips, we had no refrains of “How much longer is this going to take?”  Aside from near constant demands for snacks and “Wasserflaschen” they largely entertained themselves.  They read books, doodled on whiteboards, and commented on the tractors that they saw and which exit sign we just drove past.  It was really pleasant.

The best thing about traveling about kids though has to be the excuses that they provide.  When you are following a child, you get right up to the edge of the pier and stare into the water.  When a child is your travel companion, you can ride on the crazy looking dragon boats and not feel like you have to make it into an ironic social statement.

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When your daughter is leading the charge, you can easily chat up the man dressed up in period costume at the lighthouse.  When your son is riding on your shoulders, you can proudly let your yellow balloon float over your head as you parade behind the wedding party down the streets of Baltimore.

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And when at the end of a pleasant trip, your son cries that he’s having so much fun in Charm City that he never wants to leave, you can sincerely empathize as you smilingly wipe away his tears because you truly had a splendid time too.

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the trouble with a box

Over here in Durham we have been on a baking kick this past month–muffins, cookies, brownies, you name it. And every time I reach into the cabinet for the baking soda, I get annoyed over the useless, unhelpful, and perplexing packaging of The Box.

I know that there are many fine uses for baking soda that do not involve a tablespoon–you can shake a little into your sink and scrub it out, pop a box in the fridge to keep everything smelling lovely, or smear some on your scalp in lieu of shampoo.  But, I’m willing to bet that I am not the only person who chooses to bake with it, so why, why, why do I always end up with a container that looks like this?


Baking powder does not seem to suffer from the same affliction; it comes in a refined tin with a helpful lip for leveling off your spoonful.  Baking soda, however, seems to make a mockery of my desire for clean measurement and thrift.  Just try getting out those last few teaspoons without ending up with baking soda all over the counter or ripping the tender little cardboard flap all to shreds.  Go ahead; I’ll wait.

All I am really asking for here is a little ingredient parity.  Why should I have to buy a special jar in which to decant my baking soda (if one can decant a powder, which I doubt) when I don’t have to do that for my baking powder, salt, cinnamon, turmeric, pepper, etc.?  It’s almost enough to make us stop baking.  Almost.

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chasing the light

The other day, little w. occupied himself for a quarter of an hour taking pictures in the living room.  When his daddy asked him what he was taking photos of, he responded, “the light.”  OK.

Later, when I uploaded his photos, I realized why the light had captured his attention and curiosity.

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The blanket in this last picture slightly freaks me out; with its otherworldly glow, I’m a bit afraid that my daughter has been snuggling up with a holy relic.

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channeling hundertwasser

After whining, “When are we going to leaaaaavvvee this place?” for 10 minutes straight at little e’s PMO open house, w. finally busied himself building this:

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While I was impressed with his structure because it kept him busy for 20 minutes, I really liked it because it reminded me of Hundertwasser’s Fernwärmewerk in Vienna.


This incinerator in Spittelau is located near the university where I went to class when the professors were not on strike (admittedly, that was seldom that semester), and I would admire it daily.  Same colors as little w’s creation, same bulbous features, maybe not quite as linear as w’s lego structure, but that’s ok.

You have to love a city though that gets an artist with an environmental streak to design a waste incinerator plant and then 40 years later commemorates the event with a self-guided tour through the plant.  I only wish that I had known about it, and we would have been in Vienna this summer.

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my civic duty

“Some people may call it a ‘duty’ but you should really view it as ‘jury service‘” intones the benign woman on the NC Jury Duty Video.  After two days of sitting in a plastic molded chair with sixty of my new BFFs, I respectfully disagree and declare it to be a duty indeed.

While I had the opportunity to catch up on quite a bit of reading and correspondence, the highlight of my jury duty might just have to have been the swearing in when we all hunched over copies of the Bible that were randomly strewn throughout the room.  As groups of three or four strangers stood in small circles with right hands touching a corner of a Bible and left hands in the air, I held my breath expecting the portkey to whisk us up off the ground and through the air to a grassy field where our friends and families were waiting to play and frolic in the lovely autumn morning.  But after the oath, when I released my breath and reopened my eyes, nothing had changed.  The sad airport terminal chairs still greeted us, the dreary view of the courthouse building across the street still stared at us through the windows.  No magical transportation to an exciting world.  We hurried up and waited and waited and waited….

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punk rock girl

One day after her cousin’s rock ‘n roll birthday party, little e. decided to explore her newly found interest in punk rock.  First of all, she dressed herself in a riot of mismatched patterns and too small clothing.  Then, she wouldn’t let me work out the tangles in her massive bedhead hair but instead actively rubbed her hair trying to add more volume to her already distressed hairdo.  Then, she insisted on wearing her new party favor button all morning:


And then came The Incident.

In a rare burst of industry, I was folding laundry in the dining room while the kids were watercoloring in the other room.  Suddenly w. skids into the room to tattle on his sister–“I told her not to do it, but she didn’t listen to me!” In saunters little e. with streaks of bright blue in her matted mess of white blond hair.

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Who knew that watercolors could be so vibrant?  Not I.  Barely two and she’s already trying to alter her appearance in drastic ways.  I’m doomed.

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