Archive for October, 2009

Philosophy with Mark

Mark comes out with the globe last night, sets it on the table, and gives it a spin.

“So,” he says, letting a finger drag thoughtfully on the surface as it turns, “where do the bad people live?”

Brian:  “There are bad people everywhere.  And good people.”

This does not satisfy.  One should, in Mark’s world, be able to point out–and presumably avoid–the homeland of the evil.  “Where,” he asks again, because we are clearly slow and stupid, “do…the…bad…people…live?”

Madam President

So last night Kate’s looking over the placemat we have with pictures of all the Presidents.

Me:  “There’s never been a woman president yet.  Maybe you’ll be the first.”

Kate (skeptically):  “There hasn’t?”

She examines the placemat very closely now.  “What about this one?”

Me:  “That’s Franklin Pierce.”

Kate:  “This one?”

Me:  “Another guy.”

We went through this several times.  I’m still not persuaded she believes that every single one of the 44 (Cleveland’s listed twice) Presidents so far have been, in fact, men.  I gather that her skepticism derives from a) an utter inability to accept the weird idea that NOT ONE of the Presidents has been female and/in part, because  b) a few of them look pretty girly.


So Sam had to do a science project involving comparing the prints of his thumb and big toe, which he accomplished by coating both with marker and pressing them down on the paper.  Fine.

Then it was time to clean up.

Sam (from the bathroom):  “Mom!  It’s not coming off!”

Me:  Did you try soap?

A pause.

Sam:  Thanks!  It’s working much better now!

Ah.  Boys.

The Perils of Being Raised by the Chronologically Displaced

So it turns out that the attack upon Paul was not strictly random.

He called the other kid an ‘ass.’

Only there was a certain amount of culture disjunction.  Paul, after two years of medieval and Renaissance literary study, thought he was lobbing a low-level yet meaningful insult.  Think Conrad finally losing it in _Much Ado About Nothing_ and hollering at Dogberry, “You are an ass!”  The other child, presumably not so steeped in entry-grade Shakespearean-speak, took profound offense and plotted revenge.

Alien Invasion

So I’m just sitting down this morning with a cup of tea and the newspaper, after having finally gotten the post-pancake kitchen chaos cleared away, when Mark comes running in, arms flailing.

“Run for your life!”

Me:  “What?”

Mark:  “They’re coming!!”

I ascertain that he’s in his alternative persona of Ben 10, who battles aliens bent upon invading Earth, enslaving and/or eliminating the natives (i.e, us), and turning the planet into their new home/vacation spa/energy source/space prison, etc.

Mark:  “I’m Heatblast!  We haf to fight dem!”

*beep* *beep* *boooooo*

That’d be the sounds of Ben’s Omnitrix timing out, the device he uses to enhance himself and fight the aliens.  (By turning into one of 10 aliens.  Hence Ben 10.)

Mark:  “OH NO!!!”

Me:  “Could we perhaps vacuum up these aliens?  I need to hit the living room anyway.”

Mark:  “Great idea!”  He runs to the closet for his own vacuum.  We fend off the alien menace with our fierce hoovering, Mark periodically pointing out a new onslaught (“We’ve got company!”)

Until the Omnitrix charges back up, and Graymatter can handle it on his own.


Last year, I accidentally bought 80 pounds of apples during the end-of-season ‘yard sale’ of our CSA.  [just in case you are, like I was, unsure what a ‘bushel’ versus a ‘peck’  means, here it is:  a peck is roughly 5-6 lbs, a bushel, 20.]

Hence the inadvertent 80 lbs of apples last fall.  I put them in the coldest closet in the house and made apple cake, apple pie, and applesauce until almost Christmas.

Apparently some members of our household thought that worked out pretty well, because there were broad hints — and when those didn’t work, outright suggestions — made last week to the effect of, wasn’t it about time to buy this year’s cartload of apples?

Allrighty.  But I got smarter and only bought about 40 pounds.  Which should yield PLENTY of apple pie, thank you.

The absolutely best part of this year’s apple haul is that one of the breeds is Northern Spy.  How cool is that?

The Braeburns are fabulous, with their slightly exotic name.  The Jonathans are especially huge this year, and hence, Sam’s favorite.  The Jonagolds have a tinge of mutant appeal going on, some sort of mix of Golden Delicious and Jonathan.  The Honeycrisps have been playing hard to get, always sold out at the regular Farmers’ Market before I get there, so I was glad to get them through the CSA yard sale.

But I’m going to eat lunch soon, and I know very well I’ll be reaching for the 007 apple.  It’s crisp, tart, and it makes me feel suave.

Mark and the Beanstalk

So we’re at the dinner table last night–me, Sam, Kate, and Mark–and Sam decides to try to remember how the giant’s bit in the fairytale goes:  “Fee, fi, fo, fum…?”  He clearly can’t bring it to mind, and starts making stuff up that sounds plausible.

I chime in with the version I remember:  “Fee, fi, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.  Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”

Kate’s eyes are huge.  She’s not entirely certain what that means, but it sounds deliciously scary.  She starts trying to come up with her own alternative versions.  “Fee, fi, fo, fum…”

Mark’s been listening to all this, unusually quiet.  As Kate starts chanting again (“Fee, fi, fo, fum…”), he butts in:  “I smell Katie’s bum!”

Boo, Borders!

BE WARNED:  Borders will not exchange a book without the receipt.  One unread, covered with Borders stickers.  That I bought yesterday.

Okay, so ‘return for money’ I understand.  You don’t want shoplifters light-fingering a book, coming back, and converting it to cash.  But exchange?  That makes no sense.  First of all, if I already have one of their books illicitly, letting me exchange it for another book doesn’t really hurt their position.  They’re still out one book.

But–and here’s the crucial part–I bought the thing.  Yesterday.  With my credit card and Borders account.  Is Borders really, really saying that their computer system is so bad that they can’t swipe my card (either one!!!), pull up the transaction, and see that I did in fact buy the book I’m holding–yesterday?  Among $55 worth of other books?  Wal-mart can.  And has.

Off to get lost in the Amazon, and never cross the Borders again!

That'd be…Irony

We’ve been harassing the boys about the fact that it’s gotten chilly here in Pittsburgh, and despite regularly getting down in the 30s and 40s at night, I found two windows open in Sam’s room and, a week later, one STILL open in Paul’s.

So it was mightily embarrassing to step out in the stairwell to holler at Sam yesterday morning, glance up–and realize that the window in the stairwell was open.  Three days after we’d turned on the heat.

It’s warmer in here now…

Preschool Diplomacy

Mark, on the phone to Grandma:  “I got a new tractor!”

[pause while he listens]

Mark:  “Yes.  I know Grandpa sent it.  I LOVE Grandpa.”


Mark:  “I don’t love you.”


Mark:  “What I meant was, I love you, but Kate loves you MORE.”

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