Friday, December 23, 2005


We most likely will not be posting over our Christmas vacation, but will see you in a week or so with lots more stories and pictures!

Have a very healthy and happy holiday, and we hope you truly get everything you hope for!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


On Thanksgiving Day we drove from Cromer into Norwich for some lunch and shopping, but it hadn't actually even occurred to us that it was Thanksgiving until Mommy suddenly remembered and asked the kids what they were thankful for this year. Mama started, then Mommy, then Saia, then Chago.

Saia said, "I'm thankful for Santiago." [awwwwww...]

Chago said (after thinking about it for quite an annoying long while), "I'm thankful for my penguin."

Well, there you go.

Note: Picture is of Mommy & kids atop the cliffs at Cromer nearest the Country Club. It was a truly amazing view that is just not done justice by our cheap disposable camera. More vacation pics HERE.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Sleeping In Big Beds

So, the first week in Cambridge, we stayed at a hotel. They each got to sleep in their own queen-size bed (well, yes, they had to share with one of us). But we thought this would be a good opportunity to begin their transition to big girl/boy beds once we got home.

It was 4am on our second night there. After being thrashed by her flailing arms and legs for the last 6 hours, I had finally fallen into a relatively deep sleep when I was suddenly startled awake by the huge THUMP!!! [followed quickly by the screaming].

When I turned over, there was nothing there. Literally, nothing. No Saia, no pillows, no blankets, no sheets. She had somehow managed to take it all down with her, and I could hear her muffled cries coming from beneath the pile on the floor as I began to dig her out.

Then from across the room, I hear a sleepy little voice say, "Mama? Did Saia fall off the bed?" "Yes, son, she's alright, go back to sleep."

"She should be more careful," he says very matter-of-factly, and rolls over.

Note: Picture is of the kids and luggage as we wait very impatiently for Mommy to find us a big enough rental car for our trek up to Norwich. More vacation pics can be found HERE.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

By Day 2 He'd Had It

"MOMMY!!!" he bellowed the evening we arrived. "Yes, Chago?" "When are we going home?" "How many more days, son?" "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, TEN!" "A few more, son." "Eleven, TWELVE!!!" "Just a couple more, Chago." "Thirteen...fourteen?" "That's right, son."

"MOMMY!!!" he bellows the following day. "Yes, Chago?" "When are we going home?" "How many more days, son?" "Fourteen!" "No, that was yesterday. Take one away." "Thirteen!" "That's right, son."

"MOMMY!!!" he bellows every day for the next 12 days, and counts down each and every moment until he's back in his own bed.

"MOMMY!!!" he bellows once we're back in California. "Yes, son?" "I wanna go home." "Where are we, son?" "HOME!!!!!" he yells smiling from ear to ear.

Such a silly boy.

Monday, December 19, 2005

My Fair Lady (well, sort of)

Okay, so most of the time we do tend to refer to her as a bull in china shop, but...

...across the pond, Saia was the Duchess of York(shire pudding, that is). I mean, she did not hesitate, not even for a moment, to try anything new. And she wasn't shy about it either. We're not talking a little nibble here or a little dab there either. No, that just wouldn't do -- not for this connoisseur. She had generous, even heaping, portions (and often seconds and thirds) of goose liver pate, fresh king crab, lobster bisque, creme brulee, eggs benedict, and even had lemon in her water like Mama.

So, either this little girl has the most incredibly refined palette of any two-and-a-half year old, or it's just as we feared and she'll eat anything to appease the tape worm.

Friday, December 16, 2005

if it resembled a pot pie, we were golden

And so it went in jolly ol' England. Mince meat pies, pork pies, beef and potato pies, onion quiches, spinach tarts, you name it. If it had a crust, they wanted it, and ate it like it had just come out of my own oven.

Chago usually rips off the top crust first, peels it from around the perimeter, and then flips it over to finish off the soggy bottom before even attempting to taste the insides.

Saia, on the other hand, starts right from the middle, ripping into it like a watermelon and gutting it like a wild boar.

It's all very Lord of the Flies, but no one can ever say they're not good eaters.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

pigeons for christmas???

Apparently. After singing the Twelve Days of Christmas over and over and OVER while on vacation (and every single day since), Chago decided to give it a little twist.
On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Seven pigeons a swimmin'...[should be swans, FYI]

Please don't ask. We still don't understand it ourselves. Might have something to do with how many we saw in England, but man, whatever the reason is, it cracks him up every time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

quick one today

Love to hear them sing. Love, love, love it!!! And right now, they're still having trouble with their "L's", so it's just too adorable for words to hear them try to sing Lollipop because, of course, they know all the words (being the little Einsteins that they are), but they just can't get their tongues around that letter yet, so it ends up sounding a little like this:
Yoyyi-pop, yoyyi-pop, oh yoyyi, yoyyi, yoyyi. Yoyyi-pop, yoyyi-pop, oh yoyyi, yoyyi, yoyyi.

Just priceless!!!

Note: Picture is of the kids on the beach at Cromer, Norfolk UK. It was sooooo cold, but they loved it just the same. See all the pics by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Balls Are On MY Side!!!

Okay, so on the way to school we cross over a big bridge that has high wires with those red and white balls strewn across it to warn airplanes not to fly too low, right? Well, this is one of those things they look forward to everyday.

"Mama, the balls are on my side," says Saia on the way to school. "Mama, the balls are on MY side," says Chago on the way home.

But for the last two weeks or so, Chago has really mastered the art of antagonization -- aimed, of course, at his very easily irritated sister. So, now, on the way to school, just as Saia begins to say "Mama, the balls are on my side," he interrupts, and very quietly and calmly says that the balls are on his side [which, of course, they are not].

Naturally, she begins to argue. And so it goes, for ten full minutes. "Nu-ugh" and "yuh-huh" and "they are NOT" and "yes they ARE". And, of course, he's smiling from ear to ear because she's so easy to rile. And I'm trying to explain this to her -- not to let him get to her -- that he's only doing it because he knows how it aggravates her -- and that if she just ignored him and didn't give in, he would stop.

But the thing is...she can't. She wants to, but she just can't. And under her breath, just barely audible, I can still hear her whispering, although at least she's looking away from him, "no." And then he says, "My side." And she whispers again, "no." But he's persistent, "My side, my side, my side." Another ten minutes or so...

And then thoroughly exasperated, she finally throws her hands up in the air and cries, "Mama, I'm trying, but Chago won't let me ignore him."

Monday, December 12, 2005

the pictures are here!!!

I've posted them on Shutterfly. You can access the slideshow by clicking HERE. (This is a satellite snapshot of Cambridge UK, courtesy of GoogleEarth, by the way.)

You'll definitely want to come back to the blog for the next couple of weeks, though, as I'll be posting the accompanying stories daily.

Today's Tale: Good Manners are All Relative

The first week, we stayed in Cambridge at a hotel, so we ate out every night for dinner, and the kids had room service every morning for breakfast (okay, it was just corn flakes, but still!). Anyway, we've always been very adamant about them saying "please" and "thank you," especially when we go out, and maybe because they were on vacation, too, they were especially grateful to everyone -- for every thing -- at every possible moment.

So, we're not sure if it's a cultural thing or not, but we didn't seem to get a lot of "you're welcomes" while we were there. And our kids tend VERY persistent if they're not acknowledged right away. So these poor waiters just got "thank you'd" to death. Every time they brought some water...or napkins...or menus...or happened to walk by...or breathed in our direction. And because they never said "you're welcome", the kids just kept at it. Over and over. Like a cult. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. The Order of the Obsessively Grateful Children. It was a little creepy, to tell you the truth. So, Mommy and I had to do a lot of intervening, give "you're welcomes" when they were due, and somehow try to explain that too many "thank you's" can be just as bad as not saying it all.

They didn't buy any of it, and we ended up tipping way too much.

Monday, December 05, 2005

run and hide, run and hide

Last night on our way home, the kids were in a singing sort of mood. So, lucky for me, at the top of their lungs, they sang twelve (at least) different renditions of "where is pointer... thumbkin... pinky... etc." A really cute one was "where is Mema...Mommy...Mama, etc." But the last one was the best.

Chago was playing with his favorite plastic snake whom he's named Ka (from the Jungle Book). So he starts singing, "where is Ka, where is Ka, here I am, here I am, how are you today sir, very well I thank you..." and then abrubtly stops and stumbles over his words to get out as quickly as possible that as soon as he's finished doing Ka, he's going to do Baghera (the panther from Jungle Book). And you can just see the little wheels churning in his head as he fathoms the infinite possibilities (next he can do Baloo the bear, and then Sheer-Khan the tiger, and then King Louie, and then Mowgli, and then the vultures, and then...)

He's just so excited and almost stuttering trying to get it out, and then amazingly jumps right back in to the song exactly where he left off, " and hide, run and hide." He doesn't skip a beat as he moves into his next verse just as he planned..."where is Baghera, where is Baghera" [and he's smiling from ear to ear].

Genius, I tell you.

Friday, December 02, 2005

not sure what to give us for christmas this year???

In lieu of gifts to us we would like to request that you instead adopt a family that was devastated by hurricanes Katrina and/or Rita.

Please click here
for more information.

A, J, S & S

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

accidents by any other name...

On our way home last night, stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the bridge, I'm explaining to them that the reason we can't go any faster is because there's an accident up ahead.

"Who had an accident?" asks Saia.
"I don't know, baby," I reply. "A car maybe."
"The car didn't make it to the potty on time?" she surmises.
"Well, no, sweetheart, it's not that kind of accident," I reply with a smile. "It looks like a car hit a truck."
And then Chago concludes, "Maybe the car should go in timeout now."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


But I'm honestly nowhere near ready to begin relaying stories. Haven't even gotten the pics developed (yes, developed -- didn't even take digital pics this time around). Am trying to find a way to upload some video footage 'cause, truthfully, it's priceless, but it may be another day or so before the jetlag wears off and the kids stop waking up at 3am bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Well, we're practically living like Quakers out here in Cromer. No TV, no cable, no internet, barely a phone line. But the resort is wonderful and we've had a great time. Lots of great stories to share, but plenty of time once we get home to do so.

We just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to you all. We're so sorry we couldn't be with you today, but have thought of you all and hope you're having a wonderfully relaxing holiday.

We're off to London tomorrow and then home on Saturday (with any luck, as there appears to be the beginnings of a blizzard hot on our tail -- yes, a BLIZZARD!)

Have a great weekend and we'll talk to you all soon!!

All our love,

A, J, S & S

Friday, November 11, 2005


So, we'll be gone for two weeks. We leave tomorrow evening. It's a 10-hour flight. That alone should give me plenty of fodder for the blog.

I'll try to log-in now and then to give you a few updates, but I wouldn't count it. It's our first vacation EVER. And I for one am desperately looking forward to being completely disconnected from the rest of the world for a while. (Our cell phones will not work while we're away either.)

So, we hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. And we'll be in touch here and there.

S, S, A & J

Thursday, November 10, 2005


"Santiago?" she calls across the aisle of the backseat.

"Yes, Saia, what is it?" he replies. [they're in particularly good moods this morning, obviously]

"What are you talking about?" she asks, referring to his incessant mumblings since we left the house this morning.

"I'm talking about the bat, Saia," he replies, and proceeds to relay the scene in The Rescuers where Evanrude the dragonfly zips into a glass bottle to escape the bats that are chasing him.

"Oh, okay," she says. "Santiago?"

"Yes, what is it, Saia?" he replies, sounding a little more exasperated this time.

"Tell another story," she demands.

"Okay," he says, and proceeds to relay a scene in The Rescuers where Ellie Mae and the other swamp folk come running to the aid of Bernard and Bianca as they leap from their air transportation, Orville the Albatross.

"The end," he firmly concludes, no doubt hoping to get back to his own musings sometime this morning.

"Thank you," she replies. "Santiago?"

"Yes, Saia, what is it NOW?"

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


And they weren't too terribly painful, actually. Spent a little more time with Chago's teacher than Saia's [surprise, surprise], but overall I thought it went fairly well. At least I didn't walk away feeling like my children had 8 of the 10 traits of a sociopath. I think that's a good start.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


"Yes, Saia?"
"There is a stranger," she says pointing out her window to the car next to us.
"Yes, sweetheart, and do we talk to strangers?"
"That's right, baby, we NEVER talk to strangers. We ignore them and run and tell Mama or Mommy or Teacher that a stranger is talking to you, right?"
"Yes, I will nor them. They will try to talk to me and I will nor them. And I will nor and nor and nor them until they go away."

[cut to Mama desperately trying to control her hysterical laughter]

Monday, November 07, 2005


On the way to school this morning, having finished his oatmeal before his sister (a feat in an of itself), he busily munches on a handful of animal crackers when Saia very politely asks him if she can have one.

"Okay [this is his new thing]," he replies, "Would you like the lion or the zebra, Waia [which he's taken to calling her these days]?" But before she can answer, he qualifies his offer saying, "Welllll...the lion has no tail, but the zebra has no head. Which one do you like more?" he says as he holds them up to demonstrate his point. "The zebra," she says nonchalantly [as it's never really mattered to her which end she starts to chomp on]. "Okay," he replies, "here you go."

And I can see him in the rearview mirror handing over the decapitated zebra and her stretching across the way with her sticky [because they're ALWAYS sticky] oatmeal encrusted hands. "Thank you, Santiago [which she's taken to calling him because they call him by his full name at school]." "You're welcome, Waia," he replies as he shoves the remaining tail-less lion into his mouth. And they munch quietly and happily the rest of the way to school.

Hard to believe that just 45 minutes ago I was prying her off of him as she shoved his head into the carpet while he yanked on her hair and screamed bloody murder, isn't it?

Friday, November 04, 2005


Not OUR boy.

Walking up the sidewalk last night, I overhear Chago asking Mommy if it's dark, which it is, of course -- pitch black since 6pm and it's now 6:45.

"The dark is mean?" he continues. "No, son," she says, "the dark isn't mean." "It's nice." he surmises, "It hugs me."

"What hugs you, son?" she asks with a grin. "The dark hugs me," he says smiling. And we just look at each other -- speechless -- AGAIN -- because this is just another one of those moments when we particularly begin to worry that we can't possibly be doing enough to stimulate this astounding little mind.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Apparently you don't even have to raise a child Catholic in order to instill in him the overwhelming need to punish himself.

After a VERY VERY VERY bad day at school (3 timeouts for hitting, scratching and choking), we talked all the way home about how he was going to have to lose 3 of his favorite animals.

Twenty seconds after walking into the house, he had climbed in and out of his crib, and was lugging down the hallway all 4 of his tigers. And, of course, being the sensible and environmentally conscious child that he is, he appropriately recycled them instead of just chucking them in the garbage (see photo above).

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Mommy was talking about getting her hair cut when Saia decided she had just a couple of cents she'd like to add to the conversation.

"Mommy, you have to cut it here," she says, reaching up to tug at a few of Mommy's stragglers.

"Why right there, Sweetheart?" asks Mommy.

"Because," surmises Saia, "your head is too heavy on this side."

Well, I'm certainly not gonna argue with that one.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


"Alright, Bubba," says Mommy, "give me a kiss and hug goodnight." [SMACK] "Okay, now you, Beauty Queen," she says to Saia. [SMACK] "Now, who's going to count to three so that I can turn out the light?" she prompts.

"OneTwoThree!!!" yells Saia. "Great job, baby. Now you, son."

"Santiago, come on..."

"Oooooooone..." he begins.

"Twooooooo..." he says with a big grin.


Such a little smart ass.

Monday, October 31, 2005


I know, I know, and I'm sure one day I'll consider myself lucky that these two wild and crazy kids decided that they wanted to wear their SAME EXACT costumes that they wore LAST YEAR!!!

Who does that??? Have I taught them nothing of fashion faux pas???

But, okay, so we reeeaaaallllyyy did get our $20 worth out of these suits, though, that's for sure. I mean, okay, so maybe they walked around with wedgies all night long because their costumes were two sizes too small. And, alright, so they couldn't really hear anyone or anything because their hoods were so snug around their little heads. And,yeah, I guess technically they could just barely breathe once the whole thing was zipped up to their necks...

But they still looked so damn cute! (and ultimately, that's all that really matters, isn't it?)

And then the kicker of the evening was that once we brought all their goodies home from school and added to them all the goodies they collected from trick-or-treating in the village, and then poured it out onto the kitchen table for Mama to sort through what was really a "goodie" (as opposed to a "baddie"), they only ended up with a bag of goldfish, some fruit snacks, a couple of granola bars, and a sheet of stickers a piece.

And don't you "Awwww, pobrecitos" me. Just like it was with their sugarfree, yogurt covered birthday cake, as long as they don't know what they're missing, they're happy as little clueless clams, and it is the entire focus of my life right now to ensure that they remain that way until the day they snatch that control right out of my grubby little hands as they gleefully shove handfulls of pan de polvo and jelly beans and cupcakes into their sassy little mouths as they decide to start calling me by my first name and tell me to drop them off 3 blocks away from school so that I won't embarrass them in front of their too cool friends!!!

But until then, dammit, I'm the Mama, and that's all there is to it. :P

Friday, October 28, 2005


Sorry, no postings this week. We've all been really under the weather. Should have some good stuff come Monday, though, after the Halloween weekend.

Be safe!

Monday, October 24, 2005

king of the road

Sitting at the dinner table yesterday, Mommy was singing along to Roger Miller's "King of the Road" playing over our itunes. For those of you that don't know the words, please click here so that you can follow along.

No phone, no pool, no pets...

"Mommy, why no pets?" asks Chago. "Because he lives on a train, son, so he can't have any pets." "It's his train?" he proceeds. "No, son," clarifies Mommy, "the train doesn't belong to him, which is why he can't have any pets. Do you understand?" "Yes, Mommy, I understand," he says.

No phone, no pool, no pets...
"Why no pool, Mommy?" asks Saia. "Well, he can't have a pool on the train because the train doesn't belong to him, sweetheart." "Why?" she continues. "Because someone else owns it, and he's using it without permission, and if he gets caught he'll get in trouble, so he can't have a pool on there so that no one will no he's there. Do you understand?" "Yes, Mommy, I understand," she says.

Old worn out clothes and shoes...
"What's wrong with his shoes, Mommy?" asks Chago. "They're old, bubba," she explains. "He doesn't have any money to buy new clothes and shoes, so he has to wear his old ones. Does that make sense?" "Yes, Mommy," he says.

No phone, no pool, no pets...
"Why he can't have any pets again, Mommy?" asks Chago. "Oh, son, it's called a chorus."

Friday, October 21, 2005

she's such a little helper

Yes, she's actually grinding spices. Comino and black pepper and garlic for carne guisada. I look at her in this picture and I swear she looks about 4 or 5. But she's not even 3! With any luck, by the time she's in kindergarten, I won't be doing any of the laundry, cooking OR cleaning!!!

Ahhhhh...children. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2005


No, not those F words -- get your mind out of the gutter. This is a family blog! :P

While doing his business this morning, he's chatting with his Mommy and explaining that he's going to learn the letter 'F' today, which can't be true because they only do letters on Tuesdays at school. But Mommy asks him if he knows any words that start with the letter 'F', to which he replies, "Fuh-fuh-FISH!" "Great job, son, anything else?" "Fuh-fuh-FROG!" "Good. Any more?" "Fuh-fuh-FOULFELLOW! [villainous character from Pinocchio]". And then he gets distracted and begins listing other villains he knows: "Maleficent [Snow White]...the shark [Nemo]...the Siamese Cats...[Lady and the Tramp]....what else, Mommy?"

"Mmm..." ponders Mommy as she brushes her teeth. "Mommy? Name another villain," he demands as he begins to unfurl the toilet paper YET AGAIN. "Mmm...I'm thinking, son," she mumbles with a mouthful of toothpaste. "Well," he urges, "think louder please."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

PIGS IN BLANKETS to explain what a pig in a blanket is to children who don't eat biscuits, don't eat pork, don't really understand that pork comes from pigs, and won't ever really get that what's actually in hot dogs is not anything anyone's ever been able to completely identify to date.

So, instead, we used some homemade empanada dough (which is why they look brown, thank you very much -- it's the cinnamon -- really) and turkey dogs [and we just didn't bother to explain that part. There'll be time enough for that over Thanksgiving].

And they loved 'em!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I just don't know what we're gonna do. He's been getting timeouts consistently at school. Two and three of them a day. He's hitting and biting and choking, for crissakes!!! We've taken away all his favorite stuffed animals and videos. He's started losing his books now. Nothing seems to phase him. He understands that his things are gone and so when he starts to get fussy and wants something he almost asks for it and then catches himself and changes it to something he actually does have. So he's never really being denied anything because he's never allowing himself to be rejected. He's brilliant and invincible and the only one in the entire world that renders me both speechless and immobile. I'm completely stumped.

This photo is titled "Chago Puente," by the way. You should hear him go at it!

Monday, October 17, 2005


"Mama, I want a tiger!" says Chago.

"No, no, Mama, I want a bat!" says Saia.

"But Mama was just going to carve a happy face, kids. Can't we just make two smiley faces instead?"

"NOOOOOO!!!!" they both scream at the top of their lungs.

So after they spent 30 minutes spooning the pumpkin seeds out of their respective pumpkins ONE BY ONE...I then spent another hour and a half carving what I happen to think are pretty decent likenesses of a tiger (okay, maybe a cat) and a bat, if I do say so myself.

Although sitting there 2 hours later still trying to oxy pumpkin stains out of my white jeans and pull pumpkin guts out from under my nails, I'm thinking next year we'll just dress them in leather from head to toe, hand 'em a couple of knives, and see what happens.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Show & Tell

So, they did actually take their little tangerine-sized pumpkins to school yesterday for show and tell.

The night before, I kept asking them to tell me what they were going to say. I mean, come on, all great presentations require at least a little preparation. But no, not with these two. They were gonna wing it. And I was getting nervous. Come Thursday morning, we're getting everything ready to go. I make sure they've got their pumpkinitos and ask them one last time if they're going to talk about the traffic on the way to the pumpkin patch, or the christmas tree farms we passed by, or walking through the pumpkin patch and tossing pumpkins into the wheelbarrow, or jumping in the bouncy house, or watching the train, or...

"No, Mom," interrupts Chago, "I'm going to talk about the worm that lives inside my pumpkin." "WORM?!?!" "Yes, here, look," he shoves it in front of my face. "Just like The Very Hungry Caterpillar," explains Saia. And wouldn't you know it, there were at least 4 little worm holes eating away at that poor sorry excuse for a gourd.

Ewwwwww, I thought. Do I really want to send my children to school with worm-infested pumpkins. know what? At least they were excited to talk about something.

[and the worms would be out of my house]

Thursday, October 13, 2005

It Was A Rare Moment

But they did actually hug long enough for me to snap this photo. It was picture day at school, too, so I'm hoping this random act of kindness carried over into their photo session. We asked that they be photographed together. Still not sure if that was a good idea or not, and funny that no one at the school seems to be able to tell us how it went. I'm sure they're just waiting to cash our check, and then we'll get the proofs of them all scratched and bruised, on the ground wrestling every last strand of hair out of one another's head, attempting to strangle each other with the unraveled remnants of their nice new sweaters.
Should be very memorable.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Jellybean for Chago

Actually, I guess the title should be "NO Jellybean for Chago" because our little man has apparently become the bully in his class, and spends his days tormenting the smaller children, sitting in timeout, and then trying to justify his behavior later to me by saying, "Mama, I didn't hit her, I just patted her" or "Mama, I didn't push him, I just moved him over."

And this is what happens when you give the negotiator the tools to do his job well.

So, Jan, the Associate Director walked in on him throwing his food on the floor. He was reprimanded and asked to clean it up, and then she reminded him he would not be getting a jellybean at the end of the day because of this infraction.

When I picked him up yesterday, Jan was gone. Luckily, his teacher was still there to fill me in or I wouldn't have been the wiser as to why on our way out Chago was saying, "Let's see if Ms. Betty [the Director] is there today, so I can ask her for a jellybean."

And no, he didn't get one after all.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Can hardly believe another year's gone by, but here we are again trekking across fields and rows of orange- and white- and sienna-colored gourds on our endless search for the perfect pumpkin. "How 'bout this one, Mommy?" "Ooh, look at this one, Mama."

Meanwhile, the wheelbarrow quadruples in weight and becomes unwieldy beneath the rising pile of tangerine and coral noggins, but that certainly doesn't deter our crusaders -- oh no, not these two. "I want THIS one, Mama." "Just ONE more, Mommy, okay? I just want ONE more."

So, we finally settle on TWO medium-sized ones for the porch and ask the kids to pick just ONE each of their own. After a brief debate (if you can believe that), they begin determinedly searching through the stack for just the right one. Pumpkins are flying everywhere. We're both scrambling to catch them before they bash some poor unsuspecting tourist in the head. And before long you can't even see their little heads anymore -- just their dust-covered bottoms sticking up in the air and their legs dangling over the side as they dig deeper and deeper into the wheelbarrow for their prized pumpkin.

Finally, they each come up, all out of breath, filthy but smiling from ear to ear (and ear to ear) clinging to something and raising it over their heads in triumphant glorious success. "THIS ONE!!!" they shout. Just about ready to pay, we spin around to add their treasures to the batch and, literally, just stood there with our mouths hanging open -- because they each picked pumpkins that were no larger than lemons. Yes, really. Lemons!!! After all that hullabaloo!!! Luckily, the nice lady let them have them for free because there was no way in hell we were going to pay $5 each for those ridiculous little pumpkin holes!!!

Oh, well, at least now they have something to take to school on Thursday for show and tell.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Diary of a Worm - The Horror Story

Months ago I got this book for them (available in the sidebar) called "Diary of a Worm," which they absolutely LOVED. Had to read it ALL the time. They'd practically memorized it when we discovered that it came with a story-telling CD, which they loved even more, and they would listen to it for hours on end in the truck without making a sound. Honestly, it was a dream come true. Ah, those were the days.

One day, though, Saia decided that she was terrified -- TERRIFIED -- of this one part of the story where the spider tries to dig a hole like his friend the worm, but his legs get stuck. Now, he gets out of course, and all is well, but she's absolutely unconsolably horrified by this and we cannot listen to it anymore. But Chago loves the story and asks for it all the time. And so, every now and then, we'll try it again, but I don't so much as get the CD in the slot when she begins to scream bloody murder. And back into the case it goes.

Today, we tried again. But this time Chago told her, "When it gets to that part, Saia, you can just cover your ears." "Okay, Bubba," she said. And I just sat there. In awe. Again. What a great idea. So, I popped it in, it started to play, and all was going well until I realized that she wasn't eating her applesauce because she had her fingers in her ears. "Beauty, you need to finish your breakfast," I said. "Saia? Please eat." "I can't, Mama, because I have my fingers in my ears." "But Saia..." "No, Mama, it's coming!" And no amount of my promising that I would fast forward through it or that I would turn the volume down or that she wouldn't be able to hear it if she kept her fingers in there could prevent the utter meltdown that ensued. It was coming and she was squealing like a stuck pig, and she absolutely would not stop until she was certain that it was off, out of the CD player, and back in its case.

And yes, we've talked about how the spider is alright, and how he's just trying to do what the worm does, and how he doesn't actually get stuck permanently, but I think the whole idea of him not being able to move really does just freak the hell out of her. And honestly, I can't blame her. There are days when I have to scramble to get my shoes off in my office in the middle of the day just because my poor little toes begin to feel way too claustrophobic and I'm very nearly on the verge of flipping out...

Hmmm...wonder if this could be inherited.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Shark and The Bee

On our way to school this morning, Saia rolled right into story-telling mode -- with Chago following quickly on her tail [pun intended, please].

"Onnnnnneeeee daaaaaaayyyy," she begins, "a shark and a bee were swimming in the ocean." "And," interjects Chago, "once upon a time, the bee sting...sting...stinged...the shark." "The bee stung the shark?" I ask. "Yes," he says, "the bee stung the shark." "And I put a bandaid on the shark and made him all better," says Saia, trying to reclaim the story from her brother. "And then the bee stung the shark on the fin," says Chago, never so easily redirected. [and so the tennis match begins] "But I put a bandaid on the shark's fin," she says, "and now he's all better again!" "No," he says, "because then the bee stung the shark on the tail!" "Well...well...then I put a bandaid on his tail and then he was fine, Chago!" [and so it goes...on the nose, on the gill, on the mouth, on his eye, etc.]

"Okay," I interrupt, "and then what happened after all the stinging and the first aid was done?" "Then," she says, "then the bee was swimming, and..." "Wow," I interject, "does this bee know how to swim?" "No, Mama," she self-corrects, "the shark swimmed..." "Swam?" I ask. "Yes, the shark swam and swam, and the bee flied..." "Flew," I ask. "Yes, the shark...the shark swam and swam and the bee...the bee flew and flew...and then...[she glances over at Chago who's a little preoccupied with an apple slice] and then they lived happily ever after," she speedily concludes so that he doesn't have a chance to take it back.

I can see her in the rearview mirror smiling proudly that she actually one-upped him this time. And as she begins digging through her lunch box for some cheese, he swallows his apple, calmly takes a sip of juice, crosses his leg and props his lunch box on top, starts nibbling on some corn flakes, and oh-so-casually as he's glancing out the window at the bay says, "And then the bee flew inside his mouth and stung his tummy."

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Okay, so I'm just a tad neurotic, I know. But seriously, this is nothing new to anyone who knows me. Yes, I'm Mama, and I've been spying on my children almost every day for 3 weeks now. So, SUE ME!!!

The good news is that they're definitely adjusting. They were doing a whole lot of crying on the playground those first few weeks. And it just broke my heart to watch Chago sit on a little curb sobbing his little heart out while the other kids ran around having a good ole time. Or to watch Saia just stand there in the middle of her entire class with her hands clasped over her face as she wept. But they are coming around now, and although they're not fully interacting with all the other children yet, and still much prefer talking to the teachers, at least they're not little recluses anymore.

Now, I can start worrying about broken bones. That's Chago there in the middle trying to climb the swirling ladder.

The real question here, though, is will I still be stalking my children on their first dates, to the prom, on their first sleepover, on their first night in college? And, folks, I'm afraid the answer is pretty self-evident...

All together now: HELL, YEAH!!!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Chago Mourning the End of His Snacks

Saia Embracing Her Independence

Although they're provided lunch there, the kids just love having their breakfast on the way to school (it's a 3o-minute commute) and having snacks all the way home, so they got these little lunch boxes which they actually carry out to the truck every morning, and from which they get to pick and choose whatever they'd like to eat from whatever made it inside their lunchbox that morning. Today it was cottage cheese with fresh raspberries & blueberries, a slice of wheat toast with sugar-free blackberry jam, a half a banana, and a small baggie of grapes. Such big kids, aren't they? I still can't believe they're going to school!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Even When There's No Jury Duty... There's ALWAYS Potty Duty!

So, I didn't get to serve, was released by noon, and am back at work for the duration. Oh, well.

On our way to school this morning, though, at almost the exact same moment, both kids decided they had to go to the potty. BOTH of them. Luckily, we hadn't yet gotten to the bridge or I'm not sure what McGyver solution I would've had to produce, but instead was only required to quickly exit into the the nearest Safeway.

So, here we go at 7:30 in the morning, freezing our little tushes off, running across the parking lot into the grocery store and hoping they don't do their bathroom cleaning at this hour. We make it into the store, have to sidestep the pumpkins, the stuffed animals, the balloons, AND the strawberries, and then convince them that it's okay to use these restrooms even though I can't seem to find the protective sheets anywhere!!! So, I tear off 3-4 squares of TP and line the toilet seat before plopping them on there (yes, each in his/her own, which was a dance in and of itself), just in time to see that Chago didn't quite make it.

Once we're all done with our handwashing and back in the truck, I strip him down and pull out his spare clothes. Then it starts. We debated for 15 minutes right there in the parking lot over whether or not he was going to wear the Nemo briefs that I had in the backpack or the now soaking wet Hanes boxer briefs he loves. After explaining for the 3rd time (because we only ever go 3 rounds), HE decided to suggest in that very calm (and condescending? at two?) tone that if I would just hang his shorts out the window like I had done with Saia's shirt one time she got wet from a fountain at the park, then they would surely dry by the time we got to school, which was technically correct...I suppose.

Damn that ingenious little devil. Such a logical boy when he needs to be. So great at formulating his arguments. Never uses subjective reasoning or irrational statements. Always just sticks to the facts...


[needless to say, he wore Nemo]

Monday, October 03, 2005


No posts today because I was called for Jury Duty (or am at least taking part in the juror selection process currently). If I don't get selected, we'll be back on track tomorrow. But keep your fingers crossed for me because this'll be my first time serving, and I'd really like to experience it first-hand at least once.

Artwork by Rodrigio Duran

Friday, September 30, 2005

Two Points for the Kids...
None for Mama

Point #1
Driving home from school the other day, Chago made his first request for more juice. "We're all out, baby. Please ask Saia if you can have a sip of hers." He does. She stretches across the console, he reaches to grab it, and just as I say, "Please be careful not to...", it drops onto the seat and begins its slow pulpy drip onto the fabric.

"Uh oh," says Saia. "Mama, please may I have my orange juice?" asks Chago again. "Well, son, I can't really get it right now while I'm driving." "If you stop the truck, you can reach it," Saia interjects. "Well, yes, that's true, but Mama's on the highway right now." "If you stop at that red light, you can get it for me," Chago suggests. "And when it turns green, you can go," Saia expounds. "Well, yes, I suppose that's also true, kiddos, but I wasn't planning on stopping right at this moment." "Why, Mama? I want my orange juice and there is a red light," he restates. Why, indeed. [I exit, stop, retrieve beverage, resume.]

Point #2
"MAMA!" he yells at 5:45 this morning. "Go back to sleep, Chago!" I yell back [probably not the best idea in retrospect] "Mama, it's 6-0-0?" Ugh. "No, son, not yet. Fifteen more minutes. [please]" I beg. Now (of course) Saia asks to get out of bed. "Not yet, Beauty. Not time yet." So, she stands up in bed, hollers that she's got to go poop, I stumble into the hallway, direct her out of her bed and towards the potty, and overhear Chago mumbling as he stares at the digital clock, "There is nothing funny about this."

Thursday, September 29, 2005


"Santiago, what are you doing in there?" WHIRRRRR!!!!
"Son, are you done going potty?" "No, Mama, not yet." WHIRRRRR!!!!
"Do you need a book to read?" "No, Mama." WHIRRRRR!!!!
"Bubba, whatever you're doing, you better not be making a mess." "I'm not, Mama." WHIRRRRRR!!!!

[cut to Mama finally coming in to the bathroom to see what was actually going on]

"Santiago Gael, why in the world did you do that to the toilet paper?"

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Wolf & The 7 Kids

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Okay, so there's yet another big bad wolf, apparently, (although the kids are stuck in a perpetual debate as to whether or not this is a relative of the Little Red Riding Hood Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs Big Bad Wolf, or if in fact he is one in the same -- with some obvious personality disorder issues). Anyway, he sees a mother goat go off to the market (as all good mama goats tend to do) and leave her 7 kids at home alone (tsk, tsk) with strict instructions not to let anyone in but her. So the wolf tries to convince them he's their mother first by argument, then by disguising his voice, then by dipping his paw in flour so that it resembles the delicate hoof of a mother goat (uh, okay). Finally, he makes it into the cottage, gobbles all the kids up whole and goes off to the river to nap. [lovely, isn't it?]

When the mama goat gets home, one little fugitive kids climbs out of the grandfather clock, relays the horrible tale, and off they go to take a walk and mourn. When they see the wolf napping by the river, and the mama sees how large his belly is, she's certain he was so greedy that he must've just eaten them whole, and decides to...get this...cut him open with scissors, pull out each of her completely intact children, replace them with stones, and sew him back up.

When he wakes up, he's so thirsty all of a sudden and rubs his poor belly as he says, "Oh, I'm so full. I shouldn't have eaten all those kids." Then he bends over to take a sip of water from the river and falls over. The weight of the rocks sink him, and he's never seen again.

Alright, so this has become their absolute favorite nighttime story, and periodically throughout the day, particularly after they've had their morning milk or their evening dessert they'll lean back in their chairs, raise their shirts, and pat their bellies as they say "Ohhh, I shouldn't have eaten all those kids," which is really funny now, but is probably not going to go over real well at the supermarket this weekend.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mema's Gone, But Not Forgotten

Well, after nearly two years with us, Mema has moved on to bigger and better things. Okay, bigger things anyway.

The kids, I think, don't really fully grasp that she's not coming back to stay. When she left on Sunday, although they knew she was flying to Texas, they treated it (and continue to treat it) as just another vacation. Which, I suppose, to some extent, it certainly is for her because lord knows these two are no cakewalk. But I'm wondering when it's going to hit home for them that she's really gone. They still talk about her like she's here. Whenever we plan to go anywhere, they make sure to ask if Mema's coming. They constantly say things like, "Mema says..." or "that's Mema's song" or "Mema's the bat [or whatever animal they're all pretending to be that day]." And, of course, I'm wondering if Mema is doing the same thing over there -- suddenly falling to all fours in the middle of a lunch date and howling like a wolf, or breaking into a rendition of "I know you" and twirling about in the aisles of the supermarket, or stopping to explain the lifecycle of a caterpillar on a romantic walk in the city to anyone who'll listen, or asking her company every 30 minutes if they have to go potty or just wee-wee.

But besides that, I really believe that on some level she'll always be here to them. Her influence and affect on them has not gone unnoticed. They're thriving intellectually, socially, and emotionally primarily because of her efforts. (Although discipline was always a problem for Grandma, but I suppose that's to be expected.) And I'm sure one day I'll find endearing even their annoying little habits of poking their tongue into their cheek and making that horrid little honking noise when they get a joke -- usually a bad one -- that they so obviously picked up from her as well.

But it's been no small blessing for all of us that she devoted so much time and effort to us these past two years. And her peanut-eating, leftover devouring, chain smoking, TLC watching, cellphone talking, pajama & flip-flop wearing, Barnes & Noble loving self will be sorely missed by every single one of us. Ryce and Nena most of all, I'm sure because, to tell you the truth, I honestly can't even remember if I've even fed them once since she left.

Thanks for EVERYTHING, Mom. We love and miss you dearly!