No Harm Done

Friday, September 29, 2006

Happy Birthday!

You were my first. The one who first made me a mother. This week you are 11. You are nearly as tall as me. You wear the same shoe size as I do.

They told me that our years with you would fly by, but we had no idea.....

*Please excuse the choppy transitions on the video. In the original, the photos fade in/out and zoom smoothly. For some reason, they become choppy when uploaded to YouTube. If it's really bothersome, let me know and I'll e-mail you a copy.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cross-Cultural Relations

Something is wrong with my printer. It was printing beautifully, but then all of a sudden the color cartridge froze. Now I can’t print anything in color, or even greyscale. It’s black print or it’s nothing.

I called the manufacturer to ask how to troubleshoot, or to see if I could get a free replacement cartridge. This is a company that outsources most of its customer service to India, so I called them in the middle of the night, hoping that people in India would be wide awake and most Americans would be sleeping and I could get through to a live person quickly.

After less than a minute on hold I briefly explained the problem to the customer service rep from India. She told me that before she could help, she needed the printer ID number inside the machine. It was a long string of numbers, with three letters mixed in.

I read them to her slowly, and she repeated them back to me. It sounded right, but when she typed it into the computer, it didn’t match the information on our account. As she re-read the numbers to me, I realized that one of them was wrong.

CS: 529-
Me: No. It should be 525.
CS: Thank you. 5253-
Me: No, no. 5258.
CS Thank you. 52587001BNT-
ME: Wait! The first letter is P.
CS: Thank you. 52587001D as in "dog-"
Me: No. P. P as in “pillow.”
CS: Thank you. 52587001T is in "tiger-"
ME: No. P. P as in…uh…"pillow." Or "party." P.
CS: Thank you. 52587001V as in "violet…"

Now, at first I thought this was funny. I was smiling and trying to avoid the “ugly American” stereotype by letting my smile come through in my voice, if you know what I mean. But this was quickly becoming frustrating. I had a difficult time understanding her accent, and she had a difficult time with mine. I’m sure if we were looking at each other, and could watch each other’s mouths move, we would have not gone in circles. But on the phone, it’s so much harder.

ME: No. No. Not V as in "violet." P as in (searching for a common P word) "park", or "pretty."
CS: Thank you. 52587001P as in "Papa-"
Me: YES!
CS: Excuse me?
Me: Oh. Sorry. I was just saying you got it. P as in "Papa."
CS: Thank you. 52587001P as in "papa." N as in "November-"
Me: No. That one is M. M as in “mother.”
CS: Thank you. 52587001P as in "papa." N as in "November-"
Me: No!

***Frantically trying to think of new words. Finally, I got an idea.***

Me: (Waving my hands wildly as I speak.) It’s 52587001 P as in “punjab.” M as in “mumbai.” And G as in “gupta!”

There was silence at the other end of the phone. And then a soft chuckle.

CS: Thank you. 52587001PMG. Is that correct?
Me: Yes! Yes! That’s it! Whew!

CS: I’m sorry, but that printer is no longer under our customer service warranty……

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Now, I'm No Manolo, But....

... even I can tell that this is not appropriate evening wear.

Sure, it looks comfy. Sure, people couldn't help but smile when they see you approaching. But it doesn't really shout "maturity."

Most perplexing of all - what shoes should I wear with this?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

How Will I Be Defined In the Dictionary?

Hillary --


A real life muppet

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Sooooooo....... Is that a good thing?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Little "Blue" Entry, Tonight.....

Several weeks ago, an acquaintance recommended a book to me. I'd put in a request at the library, and it finally came in today.

I hadn't been reading it long when M. caught sight of the cover and ....well.... he became a little agitated. Apparently he was a little upset at my choice of reading material.

I can't understand why........

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Little One!

Today my newest nephew made his way into the world. His mom is resting, his dad is calming down, and his two big brothers are thrilled.

Someone hug him for me!

(With his big brothers)

(Look at that face! Isn't he adorable!?)

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Child Of the 70's.

Someone posted this on a homeschool message board today. Not all of these were my experience, but most were. It was fun to revisit them!


You had that Fisher Price Doctor's Kit with a stethoscope that actually worked.

You owned a bicycle with a banana seat and a plastic basket with flowers on it.

You learned to skate with actual skates.

You thought Gopher from Love Boat was cute (admit it!)

Love's Baby Soft was the first "real" perfume you ever owned.

You had nightmares after watching Fantasy Island.

You had rubber boots for rainy days and Moon boots for snowy days.

You had either a "bowl cut" or "pixie," not to mention the "Dorothy Hamill" because your Mom was sick of braiding your hair.

Your Holly Hobby sleeping bag was your most prized possession.

You wore a poncho, gauchos, and knickers.

You begged Santa for the electronic game, Simon.

You had the Donnie and Marie dolls with those pink and purple satiny shredded outfits.

You spent hours in your backyard on your metal swing set with the trapeze.

The swing set tipped over at least once.

You had homemade ribbon barrettes in every imaginable color.

You had a pair of Doctor Scholl's sandals (the ones with hard sole & the buckle). (Jelly shoes too and clogs!)

You wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder really bad; you wore that little House on the Prairie-inspired plaid, ruffle shirt with the high neck in at least one school picture; and you despised Nellie Olson!

You wanted your first kiss to be at a roller rink.

Your hairstyle was described as having "wings" or "feathers."

You know who Strawberry Shortcake is, as well as her friends, Blueberry Muffin and Huckleberry Pie.

You carried a Muppets lunch box to school and it was metal, not plastic.

You and your girlfriends would fight over which of the Dukes of Hazzard was your boyfriend. (BO!!) Who didn't play "Charlies Angels too?

Every now and then "It's a Hard Knock Life" from the movie, "Annie" will pop into your brain and you can't stop singing it the whole day.

It was a big event in your household each year when the "Wizard of Oz" would come on TV.

You often asked your Magic-8 ball the question: "Who will I marry: Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett, or Rick Springfield?" (ohhhhh it was such an incredibly tough choice!)

You completely wore out your Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Fame soundtrack cassettes.

You tried to do lots of arts and crafts, like yarn and Popsicle-stick God's eyes, decoupage, or those weird potholders made on a plastic loom.

You made Shrinky-Dinks and put iron-on kittens on your t-shirts!

You used to tape record songs off the radio by holding your portable tape player up to the speaker.

You couldn't wait to get the free animal poster that came when you ordered books from the Weekly Reader book club.

You learned everything you needed to know about girl issues from Judy Blume books. ("Are you there God? It's me, Margaret.")

You thought Olivia Newton John's song "Physical" was about aerobics.

You wore friendship pins on your tennis shoes, or shoelaces with heart or rainbow designs.

You had a Big Wheel with a brake on the side, and a Sit-n-Spin.

You had subscriptions to Dynamite and Tiger Beat.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Knock! Knock!

Here's another goody from the boys at Barats and Bereta.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

And...we're back!

It was a short trip away from home. Just one night in a hotel. A mini-break, as Bridget Jones would say. We'd planned it for 3 weeks, and were looking forward to meeting M.'s parents and relaxing with the kids.

The boys were terribly excited and daily counted down how many more nights until we'd leave. They'd tell all sorts of adults in their lives about our trip. "We're going on a vacation!" they'd squeal to the piano teacher, the pastor, the doctor, the grocery store clerk. Pretty much anyone they met.

"Oh really?" the adult would say politely. "Where are you going?"

"Iowa!!!!" the boys would chorus.

Inevitably, the adult would turn to me with raised eyebrows and an amused smile. "Iowa? Really?" Most likely they thought, "All this fuss and excitement for Iowa?"

"We're going to meet their grandparents there and spend the night in a hotel," I'd explain.


I think the boys' high expectations for the weekend were met. We had a fantastic time. Really. We packed a lot of activity into those two days, and had a great weekend.

After meeting Grandma and Grandpa we high-tailed it over to the capitol building just in time to make it for the final tour of the day. I was a little surprised at how many other people were there for the tour. I'd expected that we'd be the only ones there, and that the tour guides would be thrilled just to have someone new to talk to. I was wrong, though. We made for a pretty large group.

The capitol was beautiful, inside and out. As we drove up to the building, the littles thought we were going to see a castle.
Across the street from the capitol building was the Justice Building. When Colson heard that, he became very animated. "I want to go there! I want to go to the Hall of Justice!" Once we made it clear that the Justice League would not be there, his interest disappeared.

Inside the capitol was just as beautiful. At the end of the tour, everyone climbed up to the top of the dome. 130 steps up a spiral staircase. Colson and I waited at the bottom and waved at the faces that eventually peered over the safety rail. This is a shot up into the dome, and you can sort of see M. and his parents at the railing. As high up as they are, it's still 150-200 feet further to the top of the dome.

I think our favorite room was the law library. Ornately decorated, well-lit, and filled to the brim with books. Spiral staircases were at each end of the room. The stairways connect to each of the 5 stories of books.

Balconies upon balconies of books. I tried to capture one section from top to bottom. You can see Colson sitting on M. 's shoulders at the bottom of the photo.

Outside we examined all the statues and played on the vast lawn. This photo leads me to believe that my boys may need to take some sort of course in gun safety.

I've never seen a statue of Christopher Columbus before, and I certainly never expected to see one in Iowa.

The next day we spent at Living History Farms. Living History Farms is a very large historical interperative museum . We started the day on a journey through agricultural history of Iowa. A tractor-shuttle dropped us off at a replica of a 17th century Ioway Indian village. From there we hiked to a primitive Iowa farm. After exploring the cabin, grounds, and livestock, we moved on to a 1900 farm. There were several people on hand at each site, in costume, to describe their chores and way of life. All the workers were so good to the boys, explaining things to them and bringing animals over for them to see.

We spent some time chatting with the blacksmiths who were working on various projects.

Here's a view of part of the 1875 town. This was just a small part of the town.

At one point in the day, we took a tractor ride around several of the local (21st century) businesses. The boys were told to remain seated, but Colson quickly scooted around the trailer on his seat and positioned himself next to the donation box.

A close-up:

There was more: much driving time, lots of swimming at the hotel pool, and a sweet time at Build-A-Bear. The time went too fast.