Monday, November 27, 2006

Better Late Than Never . . .

Ask my mother-in-law and she will tell you how truly bad I am about sending new photos of the girls. I've been meaning to post these for awhile now--since before Halloween, actually. But without further ado . . .

Hannah getting Charlotte dressed; it's actually a grass skirt that Thomas brought back from Hawaii, but Hannah thought it would work better as a boa:

And Charlotte in her Halloween costume:

Unfortunately, Charlotte didn't get to go trick-or-treating. I didn't want the "trick" to be spreading germs and green elevens around the neighborhood.

And Charlotte with her first caramel apple:

And yes, she was immediately tossed into the bath. After she finished, of course :)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Is This Blasphemy?

I didn't want Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House. Yes, yes, first female and all that. Yay. But I'm one of those strange people who think that qualifications and ability should also be considered. Been there a long time? Check. Smart, capable? Done great things for California? Check, check, and I think so. Able to reach across party lines to actually get something done in Congress this time around? Um, not so sure about that one.

After the war in Iraq and the Katrina disaster, one of the most-often heard criticisms of the Bush administration was that cronyism was rampant. That Bush favored loyalty over ability. That the administration was awarding no-bid contracts to companies connected to the Vice President. That there was no accountability or oversight.

This is not the time to prove to cynics everywhere that the Democrats are no better. So why did Nancy Pelosi push for John Murtha to be the new House majority leader? Why is she considering giving the chairmanship of the House Select Intelligence Committee to Alcee Hastings of Florida? Reportedly, she doesn't like Jane Harman, considered by many to be the logical and appropriate choice, and wants to give the chair to someone a bit more left-leaning. Ok, a lot more left-leaning. We have an open-ended "war on terror" going on. Is this really the post we want use to play favorites? (One would, of course, hope that ability would always trump popularity, but one then one might be accused of smoking something.)

C'mon Nancy. Do the right thing: Go with the people who have legitimately earned the chairs. Let's not turn Congress back over to the Republicans in two years.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hat in Hand

'Tis the season to offer thanks and to get in your last minute donations if you want them to count for 2006! With that in mind, I would like to offer an option to those of you who are still looking for the right program to bless with your donation.

Charlotte attends the Infant Program at C.A.R. (Community Association for Rehabilitation) in Palo Alto. About 2500 people benefit from services that include (but are by no means limited to) physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, swim therapy, day care, adult day care, job training and placement for the developmentally disabled--not to mention support for their families. The care and attention they lavish on all of their clients--children and adults--is wonderful to see and has already had a big impact on our family.

When Charlotte started at C.A.R. in July of this year, she was not yet walking or talking. She didn't follow directions or make eye contact when we talked to her. As of today, she is walking like a champ--often almost running. She knows and uses the signs for dog, airplane, eat, bath, more, please, friend, and daddy. She also recognizes the signs for mommy, frog, drink, turtle, and--her favorite--cookie. We're pretty sure she can say "Hannah" and "eat." And today at physical therapy, she said "kick" when asked to kick a ball. (This time I know it's not just wishful thinking, because Lora, our PT, heard it too!)

Seventy five percent of C.A.R.'s funding comes from regional centers as well as state and federal grants. That, of course, leaves quite a chunk that they must make up every year to keep up the quality and number of classes and services. It allows them to buy new equipment and to hire staff--Charlotte was on a waiting list for PT for two months and for speech therapy for four months--we start next Wednesday! We're not sure when she'll get into OT. But in July there were 26 kids ahead of her on the speech therapy list, so we are immensely grateful to get in so soon.

So here's my pitch: If you have a few extra dollars that you would like to donate, by sending it to C.A.R., you could make life just a little better for Charlotte and 2,499 other children and adults. You would also have my eternal gratitude (I'm actually crying as I type this), and the thanks of the 2500 families served by the amazing, wonderful, caring staff at C.A.R. As an added bonus, because C.A.R. is a 501 (c) (3) organization, your donation is tax deductible!

If you would like more information, please send me a private email with your address (makriese at gmail dot com--don't forget to put it in the proper form; I'm trying to keep my spam to a minimum!). I'll send you a packet from C.A.R. If you decide to make a donation, you would just send it directly to them.

Wait, wait, there was one more thing: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Pity Poop

I think I mentioned before--once or 300 times--that we were having the yard transformed from the hard-packed nutrient-free rock-and-weed-studded mess it was when we moved in. After carting in a couple of tons of dirt, leveling the ground, constructing rock walls, planting trees and shrubs and flowers, and installing irrigation, the transformation is complete. Well, the first phase, anyway--we decided to hold back a little of the budget for the occasional trip to In-n-Out.

Late last week, I was finally able to let the girls play out back while I lovingly raked the #$*&ing leaves from the velvety, emerald expanse of new lawn and uprooted the weeds that were already threatening to take over the new beds. They loved it (girls, not weeds), giggling madly as they ran and rolled on the grass, happy not to have anyone telling them not to pick the flowers (I was biting my tongue) or throw the mulch (more tongue biting). Argus was still not allowed out--when he gets excited, he gallops and I wasn't prepared to see divots the size of those I leave on golf courses.

(Right about now, I bet you're wondering when we get to the pity poop.) Because Argus is not allowed in the yard, he's getting at least two, sometimes three walk a day--something he hasn't had since about mid-way through my pregnancy with Charlotte. I know, I know. Poor guy. But now he's so excited about the walks that he won't finish his breakfast or dinner, instead prancing at the door, whimpering to go out. So out we go.

Now, when Argus is sent out to the back yard, he's usually pretty quick about finding a spot and taking care of business. But when we go out, he will walk for miles looking for just the right spot. And of course, there are the trees that must be greeted. Every. Single. One. And since Thomas was away last week, I had to load the girls into the stroller and take them out, too (normally the post-dinner poop is just Argus and either Thomas or me). It was dark, well past their bedtime; Charlotte started sniffling, Hannah started whining. And every time we stopped, I practically begged Argus to get on with it, already.

After a few blocks of this, he stopped, gave me a disgusted look and a heavy sigh, squatted and looked away. And there it was--the tiniest poop a Great Dane every offered up. It was a pity poop, just to get the three complaining women off his back. He looked so disgusted with us that I had to laugh. Which was not appreciated. When we got home, he went straight to his bed and, with what sounded remarkably like a "harrumph," put his nose in the corner and ignored me for the rest of the evening.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Boom Chicka Rock

The mouse stepped out of his little mouse hole
To see what was left in the cereal bowl.
He looked this way and pip-squeaked that
He said, "No sign of Max the cat.

I spy Birthday Cake on the old buffet.
The cat's asleep. It's time to play!
Let's dance and party and Rock-and-Roll.
Bring out the Good China Dishes
and the Big Punch Bowl!

Thus opens the book that Hannah chose for tonight's bedtime story. Actually, since we brought it home from the library, it's the book she's chosen most nights. Written by John Archambault and illustrated by Suzanne Tanner Chitwood, Boom Chicka Rock is definitely one of the most engaging of the children's books we're read over the past four years.

Using rhythm, rhyme and all of the dances you know from your childhood--and your parents'--(with the exception of the much-maligned macarena) Boom Chicka Rock tells the story of 12 little mice who get up to play while the cat is sleeping. Along the way, it teaches numbers, counting and telling time.

We have return it to the library tomorrow; I'm guessing that we'll bring it home again. And again. But to make sure that at least one other kid in Redwood City gets to read it, Santa now knows the first item on Hannah's list!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Smells Like Pie

Thomas hurt his thumb again. I should say "Hurt ONE of his thumbs again." I'm clumsy in a more general way; Thomas is all about messing with the thumbs. I guess I can't complain too much, because one of those injuries kept him from a scheduled trip to New York on September 11, 2001. And I guess I won't complain about this one either, but for a vastly different reason: The medicine he got for it, instead of Icy Hot, is called Tiger Balm*. It has clove oil in it. So instead of just being my own personal Thanksgiving blessing, he smells like the whole damn holiday.

Just my luck, he's in Hawai'i this week. Which may be a good thing after all, since I think he was starting to get a little tired of me following him around the house asking if it was time for pie.

* I tried to include the link ( but blogger keeps sending it back to this entry.

The Sound of Music

I've had a splitting headache for the past two days. I'm not sure if it's because I've moved into a hypomanic state (in case you couldn't tell by the volume of posts over the past three days) and haven't slept much or because Hannah has decided to take up yodeling. Not instead of, but in addition to the opera. For which, I'm told, she has a lovely, natural voice. You're forgiven for thinking that perhaps an actual voice teacher told me that. But no. It was our little diva herself. But she loves it, so I just make minor suggestions (don't sing--or talk--on the inhale is the big one) and pop a few more Tylenol.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Studio 60 Update

Many thanks to "Abracadab" who posted a link to the update on Studio 60--looks like they might get picked up for a full season after all! The TV Squad story includes this quote from Aaron Sorkin:

"Hopefully soon people will start paying attention to the show instead of who's making it," Sorkin told me today. "I really look at it as just the cost of doing business. I knew the reaction to the show was going to be a little bit noisier than I'd prefer. But hopefully, we're finally settling in and the audience is seeing the amazing cast and acknowledges the great, committed group of people who are behind this show."
But they still need eyeballs, people, so you know what to do!

(Watch it! Tell your friends. This is not something to keep a secret!)

Google Takes Over the World

When Thomas travels, we use Google Earth to show Hannah where he's going to be and where that is in relation to California. So far it has helped her with some basic geography--not only the names of the states, but their general location in the U.S.-- and has also been a great help for what she considers to be the most important part of every trip: "Daddy, did you bring me a snow globe? Um, I mean, how was your trip to XYZ? Did you bring me a snow globe?"

Who knew there could be a downside to such a wonderfully useful tool?

After school one day not long ago, Hannah decided to tell me all about the planets.

"Mommy, the sun is a ball of gases."

I, the ridiculously unimaginative parent who thought it wonderful that she knew where Virginia and Seattle were, gasped in delight "That's right! Where did you learn that?!"

Audible sigh.

"At school, mom. My teacher told me."

"That's great! What else did you learn?"

"About the planets. Saturn is big with rings. And Mars is hot. And the moon, and, um, Pluto, and Venus, and I can't remember what else. Oh, and we live on Google Earth."

So far, no amount of explaining can shake her faith that we live on Google Earth. And as an original Google fan and one-woman, East Coast marketing team, I have to say that she might not be all wrong. A little premature, perhaps. But wrong? Only when she gets old enough to have to answer that question for credit.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day Humor

Kris mentioned this in a comment below, so here 'tis:

Courtesy Daily Kos -- Here's a lesson in how NOT to set up a photo shoot if your name is "Charlie Bass":

A Plea For Studio 60

I don't watch a lot of television. Not network TV, anyway. CSI (the original; David Caruso gives me the willies), The Amazing Race, hockey, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Why Studio 60? After all, no one is watching it. It's allegedly about to be canceled. But:

Please, please, watch the show before it is. Buy the DVD after it is. Because, sadly, it is a rarity for modern television: smart, funny, well-written, with inspired casting. So if you're getting tired of all the reality shows (really, aren't we sometimes watching to escape reality?) and the run-of-the-mill shows that you can't watch without speaking lines of dialog before you've heard them, please check out Studio 60 before it's too late.

By the way, does TiVo sell the numbers of people who record the shows rather than watching them right away? I'm thinking that, with the advent of digital recorders, the Nielsen ratings might be just a tad passe, no?

Still Holding My Breath

My self-imposed (near) silence on the mid-term elections is almost at an end. I say almost because I am still holding my breath, waiting to see if tomorrow will bring tears of joy or the slightly angrier, 2004 kind. It is rather strange and wonderful to see how many people are actually following this round as the mid-terms don't usually get much notice, much less high voter turnout. I hope it holds and that more people will decide to go to the polls for every election.

There are few things more aggravating than someone complaining about the government and then admitting that they don't vote because, "really, what good does it do? They're all corrupt anyway." Maybe so, but it's your job. If you don't like the way something is going, do something--anything (legal)--to make a difference.

As I write this, is giving the Democrats a gain of 20 in the House (15 were needed to take over) and 3 in the Senate (six needed to take over). But as Thomas said, we've heard this story before, so I'm going to hold my breath for a few more hours.