Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thursday Thesicle

British Royal Guards are even more formidable while sporting Christmas aprons and bearing whisks.

First Annual Gingerbread Marathon Disclaimer

Eight years ago I baked gingerbread for the first time. I found the recipe online and scratched it onto a pad of paper. My boyfriend and I spent hours decorating our house, complete with a basketball hoop in the driveway. The following Christmas we were engaged and we invited a few people over to my apartment to build gingerbread houses together. It was a hit and that was our first annual gingerbread house building party. We have since moved it to my in-laws’ house and I am now preparing for our seventh annual gingerbread party. As I do so, I must explain my sluggish blogging to my readers in my first annual gingerbread baking marathon disclaimer: I will most likely not be posting very many times over the next two weeks.

vision of my future for the next two weeks
The gingerbread party has grown substantially in the past years and now a bunch of our friends have kids and quite a few of our friends have made the party a holiday tradition— which is super cool! The not-so-super-cool part of the holiday tradition is that the number of guests require a lot of gingerbread baking hours for me. It took a long time even before I was a mom, but this year, with two eager helpers/constant interrupters I’m allowing a little more time than I usually do, in hopes that it won’t stress me out. I typically throw on my Santa apron, crank up Delilah and all her sappy Christmas stories, and stay up late, just me and the rolling pin in a kitchen that smells heavenly. It's a big time commitment, but I love to see our friends and family create houses and gingerbread people. Well, and I love to create them myself. This year I'm considering building a baseball field. The marathon is beginning.

And so, I leave you all with a history in pictures of our gingerbread party. 

Our first gingerbread experiment (notice basketball hoop)
My friend Sarah's house at our first annual party

My barnyard explosion at our third annual

a quaint cabin, third annual

Santa's wrecked sleigh and dead reindeer, fifth annual

castle, fifth annual

Jamie and me and our Elf, fifth annual

the night before...Aaron's chili and my gingerbread

drawbridge to my castle, fifth annual

Cal tastes gingerbread for the sixth annual

gingerbread in waiting

African safari, sixth annual

train #1, sixth annual

my train, sixth annual

my church, fourth annual

Jim and Vania's church, fourth annual

snowmen roasting s'mores, fourth annual

the Castaway and Wilson, fourth annual

I couldn't find any from our second annual party. When I do I will add them in. Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Thursday Thesicle

Blue fizzy bath tablet + Yellow fizzy bath tablet = Green explosion of fun!

Thanksgiving's Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

In addition to Cal and Clark's thankfulness today, I thought I'd post some of my own. I am immensely thankful for so much in my life. I have been and continue to be blessed in so many ways that I can't even count them all, so I'm including only a few of the reasons to be grateful that I have recently been reminded of.
  • Cal's vision and health in his right eye. We had a huge scare last week that involved another exam under anesthesia and a located corneal ulcer, which could have caused him to go blind in as little as 24 hours. Thank God that we took him in when we did.
  • That my recent seizure came and went with none of the three kids getting hurt.
  •  My friends Aimee and Angela who stop everything to help me in my occasional helpless states. Aimee rushed over to watch the kids so I could take Clark to the ER after his rocking horse accident, and Angela took us all in to the doctor on Monday when Cal had his eye problem. She watched Clark for hours while I was with Cal.
  • My husband Brian for taking care of all of our family's many needs that involve driving and fetching and returning and hauling and waiting.
  • That my boys are old enough to do arts and crafts like this one from earlier this week. Also, few weeks ago they did a turkey handprint craft that took a long time and involved Clark claiming he was going to run away. I plan to cure his craft apathy. 
  • My readers!

Cal and Clark's Thanksgiving Day Thanks:

Cal: "[I'm thankful for] baths. You sometimes get out and get warm and dry and get clothes on."
Clark: "I'm thankful for trucks. I like to vacuum with them."

Handprint turkeys for Grandma and Papa. Notice Clark's ambiguous stare.

Wednesday's Thanks

Cal: "I'm thankful for my bunkbed. Mommy made it for you (read me). She put cars on it and Daddy put little tiny pieces of wood on it."

Clark: [I'm thankful for] "baseball. I love baseball and football and hockey and tennis and golf and baseball and football and (while swinging souvenir bat) hitting."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday's Thanks

Cal: "I'm thankful for music."
Me: "What kind of music?"
Cal: "Instrumental music. I love to sleep with it on."

Clark: "I'm thankful for Jimmy Buffet and Dan Zanes. And Grandma and Papa. I love those guys."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Popcorn Pond

I love Reston. Maybe it’s a silly fake town, but it’s a good silly fake town. The boys and I took time a couple weeks ago to visit a pond we always see part of as we walk past. It turns out there are a several ponds back there in the trees, and they’re more of a planned and maintained veritable wetland biome than just a couple ponds. The first time we were there the boys loved the white pebbles on the paths around the ponds and so over and over they brought me handfuls of the pebbles that they called popcorn and I pretended to gobble them up and let them spill down my front. Since then we’ve been back a couple times and the boys have dubbed the whole area Popcorn Pond.

Last weekend we took stale bread out in search of ducks at Popcorn Pond. It took us awhile, but when we found the third pond, which includes an island and a bridge to the island, we found several pairs of wood ducks. They ate our bread after a little coaxing. It was a beautiful day and I kept wishing I knew more science-y things to teach the boys as we walked around. They loved the cattails and loved letting the wind carry the seeds in their fuzzy airplanes all around the blue sky. There were stones with Walt Whitman and William Cullen Bryant verses on them. And this is all, as they say, a stone’s throw from our house. What a fun surprise!

The boys said they wanted to feed ducks like a boy in their book feeds ducks.

One of the Popcorn Pond ponds

Checking out a cattail

Fly, seeds, fly!

Introducing cattails to the popcorn pebbles

We found pond #3!

Don't eat the berries...

Good one, Walt

In the middle of the third pond is an island with a bridge!

And ducks to eat our bread!

William Cullen Bryant

leaving the island

Many discoveries among the leaves

Big weird, Reston-y gazebo

looks a little like a temple...

leaving the ponds

heading home after a great morning exploration

Monday's Thanks

Since it's Thanksgiving week I want to post every day with something we're thankful for. So here is today's gratitude, Cal and Clark style:

Me: "What are you thankful for?" (insert various descriptions, examples, etc)

Clark: "I'm thankful for Gammy and Poppy. I want them to be orange. And pink."

Cal: "[I'm thankful for] batteries. I want to put them in the computer."

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Triumph of My Inner Scavenger

I have a bad habit of eating like a garbage disposal. It makes perfect sense, waste-wise. It’s a natural chain of events— a simple formula:

whatIcookfortheboys - whattheydon’teat = easymealsforme 

I’m a scavenger— a step above the decomposer in the food chain of our family. It hasn’t always been this way with the boys, of course. I wasn’t tempted to lick the crusty pureed squash and sweet potatoes hardened on their bibs or the applesauce and rice cereal splattered on the walls. But when they started eating solid food, slowly my natural waste-not, want-not (lazy) instincts took over. Now it’s gotten to the point where I avoid thinking back on what I’ve consumed over the course of the day because it grosses me out. It’s also hard to keep an accurate tally of the actual amounts. (Does the wide girth of Clark’s grilled cheese corners together with Cal’s meager corners girth equal a quarter or a half of a sandwich? Did I eat those raisins I found on the floor, or did I throw them out? How many spoonfuls of peas did I eat while dramatically illustrating how delicious they are? Did I eat that whole bowl of trail mix even though the nuts were chewy, or eat everything except the nuts?) It’s not uncommon, for example, to have my day of caloric intake look something like this: 

  •  coffee that I reheated ten times
  • a spoonful of warm, cheesy scrambled eggs
  • hours-old, matte scrambled egg crumbs from bowl and pan perimeters
  • the gooey, blackening bottoms of the bananas stuck inside the peel
  • a really big crumb of bacon (why is bacon so good?) that landed on the windowsill
  • two pieces of bacon
  • two warm, squishy string cheese handles and countless spidery string cheese whiskers
  •  giant macaroni and cheese clots that didn’t squish into the Tupperware
  • slightly browned apple slices (immaculately peeled) from the chairs
  • cookies that were just sitting there in the way of everything
  • a whole pear because Clark threw it and was it going to bruise anyway
  • two more pieces of bacon that were sitting around for bacon bits in a salad
  • all washed down with a sippy cup of diluted V8 Fusion because Cal didn’t want it after I told him there were veggies in it
Wow, that looks really grim on paper. Yikes.

Then when Brian comes home I’ll eat a salad, a whole turkey burger, drink a glass of wine, and automatically, in a happy coma that only comes from eating normal portions of real food, reach for the boys’ untouched turkey burger chunks. But Brian will swoop in, an advantageous carnivorous predator, and ferociously devour the chunks and I’ll blink out of my numbed scavenger stare and thank him. 

I’m better than this. Right? Maybe not.

I've wondered about extremely harried days, when I have no normal dinner plan. What if I saved up all the sandwich corners, slightly burned toast, piles of untouched vegetables, partially nibbled pretzel stubs, and weird-shaped chicken nuggets with bits of blue sauce (This is Brian’s trick— ranch dressing with blue food coloring. It’s all the boys want to dip food in these days.), and presented them to Brian, stacked on a nice platter, in low lighting, after a couple beers, in front of a football game? This would prevent any outside dinner preparations by either of us, which could free up valuable time. Maybe I could squeeze in a run and a shower. Of course, I’d have to either starve myself all day in order to accumulate crumbs and crusts for him or else fix a real breakfast and lunch for myself. Hm.

On the other hand, I could make my own full, normal-person breakfast and lunch, taking time away from doing awesome things with the boys, and try to throw out the boys' leftovers. Or I could put them in the fridge, but the truth is, none of it would get touched if it were stuck in the fridge. It's too nasty. And knowing that the food would be wasted in the fridge as well as in the garbage, my inner scavenger can't let much slide. The true travesty would be if I made myself real food and ate all the crumbs and crusts. That would be a disaster on the scale.

I've added it all up. Certainly, my friends, you see why I stick to the crumbs. It’s not a pretty picture. But it works for now.

My inner scavenger has spoken. 

Dinner is scavenged

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thursday Thesicle

Even though the toddler distracts you, don't stir the pan of melting butter with a plastic teaspoon.

Reader Love-Fest

Well, here’s my new look, at least for now. The awesome banner is from an artist I’ve never met, but who spent her freshman year of college doing what I did for eight years: sharing a room with my little sister. Thank you, Kristin! Someone asked me yesterday, after reading of my upcoming changes, if I had hired a designer to redo my blog, which is when I realized that the “big changes” really aren’t that big at all, except in my head. I’m simply thrilled to have a personalized banner instead of a pink rectangle. Not that the rectangle didn’t serve me well for quite some time. A new slogan may be on its way, and another background change and banner-tweaking as well.

But, and more importantly, welcome to my reader love-fest.

People don’t all write in order to be read, but it sure is great to have people not only read your writing but read it and like it, and keep reading more. It also doesn’t hurt that I somehow was blessed with two hilarious little boys.

When I started this blog last February I wasn’t sure who would read it beyond my long-distance relatives who didn’t get to see the kids often. Myself late at night. People who typed ceiling fan or poop into a search engine. Friends who felt obligated. Quickly I had friends reading it just for kicks and then when I went all official on Facebook, I got a lot of page views and it seemed I was getting compliments on it frequently when I ran into people I didn’t normally see. Now and then I hear about random, nameless people reading it, such as when my parents tell me when they talk to me on the phone that they ran into, “…Oh, who was it? Someone the other day down at Floyd’s…anyway, they said they just love reading your blog.” If you’re reading this and have ever run into my parents down at Floyd’s, it may be you. Thanks for reading. Then I hear about people I’ve never met or met once and they enjoy reading it. To be possibly over-the-top weepy about it, it makes my day when I hear that my sometimes-infuriating, usually-crazy, diaper-filled life entertains others. 

I soon found out that writing this blog is therapeutic. Honestly, it is hard to find time to sit down and post, but it is helpful to think, as I’m cleaning up vomit every 10 minutes, or watching furiously as the boys drop everything they own off our third floor balcony, or fishing a toy crocodile out of the toilet, or receiving questionable comments from strangers, that I can sit down and face the situation, in a sarcastic, yet head-on way for the amusement of others. Blogging has also given me a platform to write about more serious issues such as my epilepsy and Cal's PHPV.

So I thought I’d give a shout-out here to some of the most dedicated readers, at least the ones I know about: My friend Margo has to come first. (Note: After this there is no ranking order, it is simply whoever pops into my head as I write.) Margo is the one who excitedly texts nearly every time I blog or reminds me that it’s a Thursday and I need to post a Thursday Thesicle or just plain reminds me that she needs a post. When she doesn’t respond I usually know my post sucks. Carrie also usually gives an immediate response and even advice on the topic. Missy and Jason, and even some of their parents I’m told, like to read and let me know of their interest, and may I be so bold as to say, love
Enthusiastic Reader Uncle Jeff

My Uncle Jeff, on our recent Ocean City whirlwind weekend was telling me that he and Aunt Jane like to read it. He also was incessantly mugging for shots in case I wanted to use them on the blog. Here you go, Uncle Jeff.  I’ve had people, such as my friend Becky, tell me that it’s probably not fair to me, because she feels all caught up on what’s going on in my life because of my blog, but I know nothing of her recent goings-on. I agree. Call me up, Becky! My husband Brian has always been an encouragement and a devoted reader in my blogging, as have my sister Crystal, brother Aaron, and my Aunt Anne. My parents check in on the blog often and my Aunt Lynda, who is actually something of a once-removed something-or-other often reads and tells me she likes it. I think Jessie, who I grew up down the gravel road from, was my first official follower and has always been supportive. 

Rachel V. in Oregon, whom I’ve known since my summers of working on the University of Idaho paint crew is an avid reader and is helpful in all things mommy. There is Rachel F. in Arizona, who I know from a cubicle away during my curriculum-writing days, and who was influential in encouraging me to begin this blog in the first place, is full of compliments. Hattie from college often comments on here and Facebook “likes” my posts. Clover, also someone I grew up close to, and who admits that I am the little sister she never wanted because of the shenanigans her little sister and I pulled around her house, has been complimentary of my anecdotes about my boys. Her mom, Barb, is also a reader and has the distinguished honor of being my Second Mom, and also as having influenced my writing. My friend Karen has been a critical reader of my writing, on this blog as well as of my rough, partial-manuscript for my novel. Amanda, in Boise, the city of my heart, I think is in love with my boys though she’s never met them and I haven’t even seen her since somewhere around 1998. David, also in Boise, is a regular reader and one of my two official male followers. (I need more!) The other is Rob, who, together with his wife Jasmine, are also regular readers. My boys have play dates with their son quite often. Aimee and Angela usually read my posts even though they have a good idea of what’s going on in my life since they live a couple blocks away and are over all the time.

Here I go again with the borderline weepiness, but you guys seriously keep me writing. Don’t think your comments go unnoticed. Thank you. I know I’ve skipped some of you, because I’m not real great in the memory department, and because I’m trying to get this post done before the boys wake up, but know that I love your feedback and your readership.

Here ends my written love-fest, but the sentiment lives on. Thank you, readers! Much love.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

This is embarrassing. I realized after my last post that it was in fact my 98th post, not my 99th post. I’ve never been good with numbers. Awk. Ward.  So, here is my 99th post in all its splendid normalcy.

I was nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award by blogger Dr. Marissa of Land of Once Upon A Time, a blog I love to read for all her great literacy advice and information. I am honored that she reads and enjoys my blog! The award is an informal one between bloggers, and from what I've seen it is a pretty cool way to let other bloggers know you enjoy their writing, and also a great way to network. I couldn't find anything about the origins of the award, but I found the rules. Here they are:

1.       Thank and link back to the blogger who nominated you. (Land of Once Upon A Time)
2.       Share seven random facts about yourself.
3.       Pass on the award to other blogs you enjoy.
4.       Contact and congratulate the bloggers you’re nominating.

I saw the number 15 thrown around as the number of blogs to nominate, but alas, I don’t even know 15 different blogs and I can’t pretend to know and appreciate their writers enough to nominate them for anything. Instead I’m being honest and writing about five blogs I enjoy reading. But first here are my seven random facts:

1.       I  dislike gelato.

2.       My maiden last name, Stuvland, is a town in Norway, which is next to the town my ancestors came from (a lot of other people emigrating from Norway took the last name of the big town, so my ancestors decided to take the name of the neighboring, small town that may or may not technically exist anymore).

3.       I have an irrational fear of those big grates and vents on sidewalks (the ones where you can see down to the trash and stagnant water and mice and quite possibly Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and will do just about anything to avoid walking over them. 

4.       I can’t drive because of my epilepsy: 4b. I’ve had seizures in the middle of the street, at bus stops, in the bathroom, while driving my car twice (link), while being a passenger in cars, and I think about three times in kitchen/dining rooms. How am I still alive?

5.       I have no problem not finishing books I start if they bore/annoy/frustrate/me. I no longer have time to finish books on principle. I’m in my 30s, people.

6.       I find it difficult to eat peanut butter without drinking milk.

7.       I bought a one-way ticket to Washington D.C. from Idaho with no job and two bulging suitcases when I was 23. Things seem to have worked out okay.

The blogs I am nominating for their downright awesomeness are:

NOVA Mom Blog: A Lifestyle blog about living in the Northern Virginia area (I just found out I live down the street from her!)

Deborah Halverson’s Blog: A writer who has triplets and great insight on writing and raising multiples

Sweet Baker’s Delight: My friend who loves to bake amazing treats and take amazing pictures of them

Restonian: Funny, funny, satirical writer who keeps it real here in Reston

Pink Dryer Lint: Writer with three girls and heartwarming tales of motherhood

Thank you again to Land of Once Upon A Time for her nomination and stay tuned for my true 100th post.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Foot of Change

Change is afoot. Or a leg. Or maybe just an enflamed left ankle. Right now as I prop my legs and ankles up under ice packs it seems like change blankets all of my lower extremities. Three weeks ago I started running again after not running much at all since before that horribly cold day in 2002 when I broke a bunch of bones in a car accident. The doctors thought I probably wouldn’t be able to run again on my left ankle—that the bones would probably have to be fused. I would be able to walk passably, but not run, they told me. That all made sense, considering I had at that point a freshly inserted titanium rod from my right knee to my ankle, several screws in my left ankle, and screws and plates in my wrist. (No, I don’t run with my wrist like a monkey, I threw that other hardware factoid in for effect) Well, the doctors were wrong. I didn’t need any bones in my ankle fused. I didn’t even need the bone graft they thought I would need in that ankle. They saved the bone grafting for my leg and wrist with bones from my hips. I strongly urge you to never need a bone graft. 

Back then, just being pushed on a walk wore me out.
But I hated running with a burning passion of a thousand suns, didn’t care for running, and because it’s been painful to run the past ten years I haven’t pushed it. I didn’t need any encouragement not to run. I’ll do workout DVDs while the boys nap and go to the little gym at our condo clubhouse—spend some time on the elliptical machine or with the weights.  I’ve belonged to other gyms over the past years and kept myself in passable shape until I got pregnant. It’s kind of been a blur since then. My workouts were reduced to carrying growing infants up three flights of stairs and squatting to wipe up various body fluids. I’ve tried to work out and I’ve kept from becoming a fat lard done a decent enough job, but nothing like what I should be doing. For some reason a few weeks ago Brian and I both decided to start running again. It’s just so easy. I mean, no machines, no gym, no gear, just you and the ground. And wherever you are you can find ground. So I’ve been running mostly outside on a route I really like, but a few times on a treadmill at our gym. I’m honestly shocked. I’m enjoying it. And the titanium inside me is not falling out or breaking like I always imagined it might. The first time on the treadmill was one of the first times I ran and I was SLOW. But tonight I picked up my speed and ran three miles, and only partially because I was watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and I wanted to keep watching it. I also felt good. So that’s one change: I’m running. And oddly, I like it.

Change number two: The boys are in bunk beds. That’s right. We bunked ‘em up. So far no one has fallen off with the exception of stuffed animals and books. It’s a little like crib on the top because they haven’t figured out how to climb down. The top-bunker is trapped. If only the bottom-bunker could be too. The problem is that Cal is on the top bunk and he loves to shout orders to Clark. So Clark runs around the room, picking up certain books, pulling the CD player over, shooting basketballs, playing with the night light turtle, putting weird things in his mouth, all things that Cal tells him to do and then laughs at. They haven’t come close to falling asleep on their bunk beds for nap time; we still have to separate them, one on our bed, one on the top bunk bed. It’s obnoxious. But at bedtime they fall asleep fine. There’s something about the darkness I guess. No toys crying at you to be played with.

The bunkers
Change number three: I traded the small lamp in the living room with the big lamp on our nightstand. Lighting has slightly improved.

Grand finale of changes: My next post will be my 100th post on this blog, and to celebrate I am going to be introducing some big and super cool changes to the layout. I know that all you devoted Whispers and Shouts fans will be waiting with bated breath until I post next and the awesomeness spills forth. On my 100th post I plan to make it a love fest to you— my dear readers— and at the same time unveil the new look that is being custom-made for me by an awesome artist.

Change is afoot! And now I can't feel my foot from all the ice packs.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our Poetic Pretenders

I’ve always heard that children are natural poets because of their unbridled imagination—because they have not been taught to second-guess themselves or conform to convention—what poetry “should” sound like or look like. The point is that time, and thus experience, silences intuition and creativity. I believe that to be true. However, since 7th graders are the youngest age group I’ve officially taught, I don’t think I’ve gotten to truly see that on a larger scale. While teaching poetry in 7th grade I still had to work hard to undo what kids thought poetry was or was not in order to pull from their unwilling pens some rewarding and creative, original poetry. Teaching poetry to seniors in high school, most of whom had sordid pasts with poetry, was even more challenging. What I found that worked for all ages is teaching poetry through music.  Not that I enjoy every genre of music, specifically what 9th grade boys pump through their headphones, but kids love to listen to their favorite songs as homework and typically they can find figurative language and rhyme scheme in them and even appreciate an extended metaphor. They don’t even know it, but they like poetry. 

All that introduction to tell you that the boys have been delighting us with their creativity and imaginative play lately. Their imagination is not bound by convention, and in that way it reminds me of writing poetry. I can’t wait to read what the boys will write! First thing is first though, I realize. I purchased a book about teaching reading that came in the mail yesterday, and I can’t wait to start. My hope is that they will continue to have such active, think-outside-the-box imaginations that they demonstrate from all the pretending they do.

Here are some of the highlights of their creative pretending lately:

Office: They love to pretend they are going to their office. We took out an old keyboard and propped up a hardback book in a little box so they have a workstation with a computer. They love to say they are working on something and click the keys. The first night we played office I put on their neck ties and they really enjoyed playing their parts.

work station

What is the code for that? Dang it! My HTML is rusty.

Okay, the tech guy is here to help.

Library: They take a canvas bag and declare they are going to the library, walk down the hall, and come back with books. They have a newfound interest in older books we haven’t read in awhile due to this pretending. The variation on this is that one will pretend to put his shoes on, open the front door, tell the other one to “watch Mommy and Daddy” because he is “going to the library to find a new Signing Time video and sit on the blue and green chairs.” This variation can get cold with all the door opening and closing, so there is a limit on the amount of times this can be played back-to-back.

Food: This one is elaborate and extensive. We have a nice collection of play food—mostly old Fisher Price food from when I was little that I love too much to let go of—and the boys always have it around. They started putting plastic eggs and vegetables and fruit up on the real stove, which always scares me a little since I don’t always see them put it up there. I found a clump of plastic green beans on a burner last night right before I turned it on. They recently started feeding play food to stuffed animals—this started after Halloween when Cal started pretending to feed candy sauce (I don’t know what that is) to his “baby ceiling fan” (his costume) and I encouraged him to feed something that actually had a mouth, albeit a fake mouth. We put bibs on the teddy bears and the fun still hasn’t ended. At lunch yesterday they were feeding their real macaroni and cheese to their animals, which really meant they were dumping it on the floor.

feeding ice cream and chocolate milk to baby teddy bears in bibs

We don’t have room for a chunky toy kitchen in our house, but the other day I took a box from Costco that had a panel that flipped open, somewhat like an oven door, and the boys helped me turn it into an oven. We painted it, glued on old CDs as burners, buttons as knobs, and a bead as a handle. I’m pretty proud of it. Cal lately enjoys baking corn on the cob in the oven and Clark likes to cook eggs and bacon directly on the burners. Perhaps they will revolutionize the culinary arts. They also love to pretend things outside are food. The favorites are white pebbles by the pond are popcorn, mulch is cookies (or else keys to open doors, which is weird), pine needles are hay for horses, etc.

Clark monitors Cal's progress painting the oven-box.

painted box, CDs for burners

fashioning the back of the stove

Cal cooks whole fruits and a cupcake...yum?

Everything is a Bat: Pretty self-explanatory. Anything that could possibly be used to hit something smaller is a bat. This includes but is certainly not limited to: toothbrushes, paper towel tubes, utensils, shoes, blocks, tubes of Desitin, etc. Swing it like a ball player, drop it, and run the bases, and it is a bat. (See also, Everything Else is a Ball)

Here, the football-dart thing is a bat...

...and here the acorn is the ball.

House: Outside there are two “houses.” One is between two large bushes and could conceal two boys excellently until a recent trimming. In that house they like to sit down and watch baseball, Signing Time, and of course, eat dinner. The other house is under a pine tree. That is the house they like to clean, which means they pick up the pine needles, run over and throw them into the parking lot, and demand that I kick them. This pointless task burns a lot of energy so I haven’t mentioned to them that it’s pointless.

Clark watches baseball while Cal cleans the house of pine needles.

Hair: Yesterday the boys raced out, sat down on the living room floor, Clark on his bottom, Cal on his knees, and Cal began slowly running something across Clark’s head. “I’m cuttin’ Clarky’s hair,” he said seriously. He was using a toy zebra. “It makes a loud noise,” he told me. Since we cut their hair using clippers, this made sense. Well, except the zebra part.

zebra shears
I can’t get enough of all the pretending they do. I wish we could copy this imagination that little kids have, bottle it, and force-feed it to the lifeless lumps of pimples and cologne with earphones that sit in the back of the classroom and refuse to lift a pencil when it is time to write. I suppose if we could though, it would be totally normal to see adults making mud-pies and playing house and so little kids wouldn’t be as charming. Also, we would have a lot of mud-pies.
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