Well, we had a great Christmas, except for my cold and laryngitis (if I didn't call on Christmas, that's why). We had a small crew this year, which was for the best, as I am pretty sick with whatever this is.

Lots of food and fun, though. AUnt Karen was here and that was the best gift I could have. I haven't had Christmas with her in many years and so it was nice that she was able to make it this year. She stayed overnight and apparently was very comfortable, so hopefully she'll share that with Dad and Molly so that they will come to stay for awhile!

The kids got wonderful gifts and Marc's Jack Skellington made it to the front yard on Christmas morning. As I type, I've been watching the cars drive by and then slowly back up to get another glimpse of the giant in our front yard.

Now I just need to get over this sickness and off to a Happy New Year!
Signa loves to help, but only if there is a game in it. So today we invented Scavenger Cleaning. I hid numbered sticky notes all over and she had to clean to find it (oh, she's also really bad at finding things, so I didn't have to worry about her just finding and moving on). Then she would bring the number to me and I would give her a clue to the next number. At the end, she got her goodie bag for the day, which is making food for the reindeer.

And out of it, I got all the window sills cleaned, the garbages in the house emptied, the tables cleared, the dusting done, the beds made, and the shoe pile organized.

And the kids thought it was a fun game and wanted to keep going.

Ah, I love parenting.

Merry Everything, Everyone! Santa's coming tonight so I'm off to get ready for him.
Today was THE day. The BIG day. The day allotted for the visit with the Big Cheese. Yes, it was the annual trip to see the actual Santa. The kids have been putting it off- on the one hand, super excited to get gifts and on the other hand, super scared to have to talk to a man in a red suit with a covered up with hair face. I finally told Signa she didn’t have to talk. Just smile and hand him a note and then just say two words: “Thank you.” She was appeased and when she’s appeased, William is, too.

So off to the mall we went. We timed it for after Will’s nap, but not so late that they’d be closing. The line was long, but we knew it would be. We stood there talking to the nice people in front of us for about… 17.2 hours. Okay. It was about 40 minutes. It is finally their turn and William, with darting eyes of fear, states, “I have to go potty!” Seriously? 40 freaking minutes in line and he never had to go. Our turn? Has to go potty. Thankfully he was in a pull up and we told him to hold it or go, because we were next and for all we cared he could pee on Santa’s knee- we WERE getting a picture after all this.

It’s our turn and the kids are now resigned to Doing the Deed. They have plastered fake smiles and their wish lists in hand. They are being (gently) nudged towards the Big Guy, when he suddenly stands, walks over to the photographer teenager, who is wearing a frown and chewing her gum, and has quiet words. Then louder where I could actually catch a few. “I’m serious,” says Santa. “If you don’t go, I will.” He picks up his big red bag and starts to leave. Another teenager, but slightly older, clearly “in charge”, runs to him. They have some words and then he strolls back to his thrown and sits. The Boss Girl comes back over to the Gum Girl and says, “Just take this one picture and then we’ll talk.”

Gum Girl says, “He said he was leaving if I stay because he doesn’t like my style.” She chewed bigger and shrugged larger and frowned the same. Some style. Anyway, Santa actually took some time with the kids (hence the long wait) before pictures which was much appreciated. He apparently told them they were on the Nice List and took time to go over their lists with them. He then put the lists in his bag (which thrilled Signa because now she thinks he’s going to be using it as a checklist when he does his shopping for her) and then sat for the photo. William was… scared. And smiling. He had is Scared Smile and it’s adorable. Signa has a grin wider than Kansas, since she’s now thinking that she’s getting every Nintendo DS game ever geared towards seven-year-olds in commercials and all the other things on her list.

And we are smiling, as we have a story to remember forever: The Story of the Pissed off Santa who Hates Crappy Customer Services As Much As I Do.

The End.

(oh, and when we were in line #2 for pictures we notice that Gum Girl was no longer anywhere around. Go, Santa, go!)

Nothin'. Just baking cookies and working and going to parties. The kids' advent calendar things have been mostly little crafts with foam and glue. Foam with glue that doesn't stick quickly or easily and we are not so much enjoying. Tonight is another of those, but tomorrow we do some cookies, I believe. Cookies with Kisses, so they will enjoy.

You know how you can tell it’s almost Christmas?  Even the hint that Santa might be watching sends the children into heaps and puddles of tears and “Please don’t tell!”  It don’t STOP them from doing things (like punching me in the face or talking like a rude 15-year-old), but it makes them rethink it afterward.  And the things they do (punching me in the face, talking like a rude 15-year old, etc.) are not normal MY kid things, either.  Which I attribute to the cookies and candy canes that are strewn about, endlessly trailing our every day.


In other news,  I have lots of you that I share my recipes with in email, so I figured I’d just do another website with them listed.  I will only post those I actually try, so not just a website filled with recipes that no one can make.  I’m not a great chef, nor a great baker, so if I can do it, anyone can.  Check it out!  Share your recipes so I can try them and post them!


Friday night’s party was  a ton of fun.  We had a few of our playgroup families over for wine and appetizers.  We get together each month, but this is the first time we’ve been able to have it at our house. Signa and Will had a blast with all their friends.


Saturday’s bag contained mittens and hats, as we spent the day outdoors at the snow fountain downtown and then the parade and tree lighting.  Marc was away, so it was just me and the kids and they were happy and amazing.  It was a fantastic day!


Today was a small craft that requires glue that we can’t find.  So we are off to the store for glue.  And water.  And coffee.  And food for the week.

Today’s advent calendar thing is gingerbread cookies.  We have friends coming over this evening and so all the kids get to trash the dining room with decorating cookies.


And they each got a candy cane which William proceeded to tell me that he likes very much.  Almost as much as candy CORN.

Today’s advent bag featured a bookmark craft.  Hopefully they can do it today and make some cute things.


 Last night we did chocolate pretzels with sprinkles.  The kids liked the sprinkles… I also made gingerbread loaves last night and it’s delicious!  I’m shocked.  I think I have about 30 things to bake tonight, but we’ll see what gets done.  It’s mostly for fun, so not a stress factor.


In news entirely the opposite end from food, William is just about potty trained.  We still do pull-ups all day, as there really isn’t anything fun about accidents, but they stay dry and he runs to the potty on his own.  This weekend we may graduate to just pull-ups at night.


We got the tree up last night and it looks so pretty.  I’ll post some pictures soon.

This month, we are doing an “advent calendar”.  Each day , there is a bag to open and inside are the “ingredients” for that day’s fun.  Yesterday there was glitter and paint in the bag and so last night we made Snow Dough.  Today’s bag featured melting chocolate and so tonight we are making Chocolate Pretzels.  Stay tuned to hear what each day brings.


In other news, the ants just ate our cinnamon rolls.  They really need to find another domicile…

We had Thanksgiving dinner here this year and due to the bigger dining area, we were all able to eat in the same room.  The table looked pretty with Marc’s grandmother’s China all set out and the turkey was just right (if not a bit small, as we didn’t have that much left over!).  Our side dishes were perfect and Signa’s pumpkin pie was scrumptious (I am told- I went for the Granny’s cheesecake instead).  Guests included Mom, Todd, Joanne, Ginger, Phil, Bob and Scott.  The kids were hyped up on hyperactivity due to guests all day and after dinner, Signa went home with Gramma and spent TWO NIGHTS!  I picked her up on Saturday when we had the annual Decorate Gramma’s Christmas Tree day.  The kids do a craft (made wreaths), make a fun snack (decorated cupcakes), and decorate their tiny trees.  We had a great time, but, again, the kids were hyped up on Unkee Energy and were crazy all day.


Today we are off to the zoo (maybe) or to decorate our own tree (maybe).  One of those two things WILL happen.  Just not sure which.

Will:  Momma, can I please have a snack?

Me:  No.  You should have eaten your breakfast instead of feeding it to Mr. Spock.

Will:  Now I’m angry.

Me:  Why are you angry, Bubba?

Will: And now I’m angry because you ‘stroyed my LIFE!  Because you didn’t give me a snack because I fed my breakfast to the dog.

Right now we are supposed to be in Oregon.  Probably eating breakfast and chit chatting with Dad and Molly.  Instead, we are at home.


Stupid snow storm.


We had the rental car all packed and the kids all tucked in and were on the road listening to the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack when the phone rang.  It was Dad and the storm was much worse and not safe to drive over the pass.  We knew there was a storm that was to last until midnight or so last night, so we thought we’d stay in Redding or Yreka or somewhere along the route and finish today.  When Dad called, the storm “end time” changed to today sometime.  With the kids (and me) sobbing, we turned around and came home.  We were all moping on the couch and William pet my face and said, “It’s okay, Momma, you can see your Daddy tomawow.” 


So we decided to let the kids pick something fun to do and they picked lunch at Chili’s and then bowling and then dinner at Harry’s Hoffbrau.  Chili’s was fine and then we stopped by Kohl’s to tell Tori that she didn’t need to mind Spocky and to get a jacket for Signa (where is hers?  It’s lost in boxes, I think).  For our second strikeout for the day, there were no jackets that we liked.  We did get a Christmas dress and some pants for Will, though. 


Came home for Will’s nap before bowling.  Got up, went bowling, but (third strike) there were leagues and tournaments, so no bowling for the Mascots.  Off to Target to waste time before dinner, where we did find a jacket for Signa.  Off to Harry’s Hoffbrau where the line was too long and no tables were available.  Fourth strike. 


Dinner at Chinese and then home to bed.


Lovely.  What a major let-down.


The weekend was wonderful.  I had a business trip on Thursday down south, so I parlayed it into a visit with my best friend from third grade.  We had a fun night of chatting and then I was off to my Friday meeting and long drive home (Kris, I’ll get my shoes on the next visit!).  Saturday was a craft sale at Mom’s clubhouse and I sold some things and bought some things.  Such nice people there.  Sweet to spend time with.


Saturday night we had movie night with Harry Potter (the third one, I think- Goblet of Fire) and watched about half before the kids were almost asleep.  We watched the rest over a picnic breakfast on Sunday and then dilly dallied all day until we decided to go see Nightmare Before Christmas last night.  Was fun to see in the theater again, even though Will wouldn’t wear the 3D glasses so saw it in Super Blurry Vision.


I’m not at all ready for this week, but need to get back to work mode quickly.


Is there a medicine for that?


My friend Andi mentioned having a list of lists she needs to make.  I know Sheri and I are exactly the same!

Here are my current lists, all outlined in Excel worksheets:

  • House (with sublists: organizing, ideas, cleaning, to be purchased)
  • Purchases (with links to the other lists that the things go to)
  • Christmas (with sublists: gifts, cards, ideas, food, cookies, soaps, budget)
  • Projects (with links to the other lists that the things go to)
  • Usborne (with sublists: ideas, shows, fliers, product knowledge)
  • Parties (with links to fun party ideas)
  • Genealogy (with sublists for each family branch)
  • Library (all the books I want from the library)
  • To Do (with links to the other lists that the things go to)
  • Homeschool (with sublists for each subject)
  • Scrapbooks (all the in-progress scrapbooks)
  • Trips (with sublists for each place I want to go)
  • Cards (ideas for different cards to make)
  • Chores (ideas for chores for the kids)

I'm working on getting all of it into OneNote, as I (heart) OneNote.  I should put that on the list...

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Signa has a friend who’s mom let it out that a sleepover at our house is an actual possibility (we also found out that Catherine also makes lists for everything). Within 5 minutes of hearing this, I found this on Signa’s work table:


For me and Cathrin

Have a sleepover.

I put my pjs on. 

Then doo a kraft.

Then we blow up the majic bed.

Then we go to slep.

In the morning, we wace up. 

Then we eat brecfest.

Then we take a bath.


Sorry Catherine.  Doesn’t sound like much fun to me at all…

I can’t believe Halloween is over.  It was fun, but seems like we anticipated it and worked up to it and slammed through it without appreciating it enough!  And now it’s gone… Time to store the spiders and ghosts and toss the pumpkins before the mold kicks in.


The kids had a great time- we ate mummy dogs, potato ghosts and bone shaped breadsticks beforehand and then they donned their costumes (Signa was the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Will was King Tut) and hit the streets.  Sadly, people kept calling William a cute little Cleopatra, but he corrected them and didn’t care that he apparently looked like a girl.  Todd and Joanne and Austin and Mom all joined us for the festivities and I hope we can make an annual event of it.


Also on Halloween, our friend Diane had her book release party.  She has written a few books and I’ve always loved her writing but now it’s not on binder paper or even printed on the computer- it’s in a REAL LIVE BOOK!  We are so proud of her and so excited!


Enough for this morning.  I’m going to try to write just a little bit every day, so that I can get back in the habit of writing.


Testing the post via email feature…

Note: I think we need to spend less time on phonics.
Here is Signa’s handwritten plan for last night (note that we didn’t actually do any of them except “speshl treat” and “moovey nite”, so they are carry-overs to today):

Pinkone tircey (make pinecone turkeys)
Pumpkin corving (pumpkin carving)
Eat boans. (eat bones made out of breadstick dough)
Eat mumee hot dog. (eat hot dogs wrapped in dough)
Gost Ptatos (eat ghost potatoes- baked potatoes with sour cream and eyes and mouth out of chives)
Holuwene cookie (make –and eat- Halloween cookies- thanks to Britta!)
Moovey nite (Watch Nightmare Before Christmas)
Speshl treat (eat popcorn balls with candy corn)
The End.

We started today with swamp gut waffles:
Frozen waffles
Syrup (aka mud poop)
Powdered sugar (snow snot)
Bright green sprinkles (Swamp guts)

And before hand the kids were complaining about having to have waffles…

Off to the pumpkin patch and maybe a “moovey”.

(and laundry and cleaning and crafting for holidays)

The kids have been planning a show for 3 days. There have been signs posted all over the house that tonight was the night. So after dinner, they handed out tickets to “The KCoon” (the cocoon) and gave us the Introduction Sign which read:

In this plae the stori will bee ibowt to katpilers that bee kom frnes and they mace theer kucoons at the saim tiem."
Translation: In this play, the story will be about two caterpillars that become friends and they make their cocoons at the same time.

They came out from the playroom area with regular clothes and Will had a hat on. They held up a sign:

Then they went under a blanket and argued for a long time about what they were supposed to do. Then they came out in these costumes as butterflies. And the dog was put in a cape and eyeglasses. The Three Butterfly Friends. Because, really, what kind of self-respecting butterfly would be seen without a white face mask or a red cowboy hat?

Dear Signa,

Today is your 7th birthday. Only the sixth time we’ve officially celebrated the day you came into this world. Or, more truthfully, were dragged, pulled and coerced into this world. So officially, the sixth time we have celebrated, but you know that we really celebrate you EVERY day.

You continue to be a beautiful person on the inside and out. We are so thankful for every single thing about you. I love that you are part Daddy (you are artistic, you are happy, you are easy-going, you are beautiful) and part me (you are anal-retentive, detail-oriented and you love lists… hey wait… maybe you are more Daddy, as these things are not necessarily good things…).

You are a good friend, a good sister and a good daughter. You are so sweet to the pets, wiping the dog’s eyes in the mornings, taking pictures of the cat with you when you travel. All these things mean that you are a good person with a good heart and no amount of teaching can MAKE someone be these things; they are things that just ARE. And you ARE these things.

We are proud of how much fun you have at all the things you do. You try everything with excitement and joy and never, ever stop smiling. Kids pick up on that and question “Why are you always smiling.” They do this because they aren’t used to seeing it. They aren’t used to seeing pure joy, like we are. It makes us smile too. Every day.

You still do and say funny things, but it’s changing now to where the things you do and say are more brilliant than funny. Sometimes your brilliance and goodness catch us off guard and we can’t help but wonder how you can be only six (now seven) and know and understand these things so naturally. You are amazing at how quickly you learn and how much you retain. You are actually amazing at just about everything.

I’ve written a birthday letter to you every year and every year I just go on and on about you. I don’t even have to try at this, Signa. It comes naturally and flows out, as you really truly are an amazing person. And you bring us more joy and happiness than you can ever understand.

Momma and Daddy
For the first time ever, Signa spent the night away from us. It was with Gramma, so we knew it would be okay, but we were traumatized and missed her like crazy!

She and Gramma had made a list of the things to do together over the past few months (yes, months) and as I was unpacking her things, I found it, but it's marked up:

Signa and Gramma's Weekend

Go to Signa's soccer game (then there is a check mark that looks more like a backward "L" so I know Signa did it)
Have a picnic on the porch/PJ Fluff & Banana (check/backward L)
Go to the park (check/backward L)
Go to the duck pond (check/backward L)
Go to the Palo Alto Airport for "Airport Day" (check/backward L)
Go to two pet stores (check/backward L)
Go to the mall/Build-a-Bear (check/backward L- an owl named Lulu)
Have pizza for dinner (check/backward L)
Go to Cold Stone for ice cream (check/backward L)
Watch the movie Coraline (check/backward L)

Have pancakes for breakfast (check/backward L)
Bake cookies (check/backward L)
Do art project (no check)
Go visit Auntie Karen (check/backward L)
Go visit Austin's house (check/backward L)
Go visit Momma and Daddy (check/backward L)

And then in Signa's writing: "The End (check/backward L)"

It’s been so long since I’ve written on Mascot Manor, that my fingers are all rusty. I’m going to shake them off and try to get back on track here.

To start, let me tell you about the kids’ activities. Will just finished up a month of gymnastics every Saturday. He loved it and did great with listening and following directions, but the music petrified him and he would refuse to do the prancing that the little ones all did. By the fifth class, he was finally prancing gingerly. Signa is taking karate (called Kempo or Kenpo- I still haven’t figured out how it’s really pronounced). She is to an orange belt now and it’s fun to watch her in class, as she is completely focused and serious about it.

Which is very different from how she plays soccer. In the one game (of 2) that I’ve watched, she played only hard enough to not get in trouble. When the ball came anywhere near her, she quickly moved away enough so that someone else could step in. She didn’t hustle or hurry down the field and generally looked uncomfortable and like she hated every hot moment. But after? “That was so fun! I love soccer!”

Whatever. We will let her do her own thing.

She is also in an art class once a week and does AMAZING work and then a physics/art history class once a week. One week will be physics and the next will be art history. (Home)School officially starts next Tuesday for us, but we sort of never stop some of it. Just don’t tell Signa…

We just finished our move and even though we’d been in the new house unofficially for a few weeks, the final drive home from old house to new was traumatic for me. I sobbed all the way, despite the hollering from the backseat, "Momma, your crying is NOT awesome! Why are you crying? Why is Momma crying- it's not fun!"

So all my old neighbors? If you try to drop from my world, just remember that I know where you live.


I keep putting off updating, as I don’t have time to write everything I want to write. So instead of putting it off and waiting until everything I want to say is obsolete, first our exciting news: we are moving. Still will be in the same town, just a bigger house and across town. We move on the 15th with the Uhaul, but will start moving some stuff over later this week. First move in 10 years, so I’m just slightly stressed out (as in I don’t eat or sleep very well).

We’ve taken several trip and done many cool things, but I don’t have time for those, so here are some fun children items:

Signa got her orange belt in karate on Saturday. They don’t let anyone watch the tests, so I’m not 100% sure how it went, but she was VERY proud. And so are we.

William started gymnastics on Saturday. I signed up for it so long ago that I was sure the 3-5 age group would be good, but as the date approached, I worried that I should have put him in 2-3 instead. In 3-5 he goes out there by himself and has to pay attention. I worried he wouldn’t and got myself ready to switch to the other class. Instead he did just fine and we even have friends in the class!

Signa and Marc went to Comicon in San Diego and had a great time.

William is learning to potty train a bit and thinks he’s a big boy. We keep telling him that he needs to be more consistent, but apparently “consistent” is too big of a word (and concept) for a 3-year-old as he is completely random.

While Signa and Marc were gone, I took Will to the zoo. I reminded him that he wasn’t big enough for the rides, just the merry-go-round and the train and he responded, (loudly) “But I *AM* a big boy because I go pee pee on the potty!” Much laughter all around us. But then I put him next to the measuring signs at the rides and, low and behold, he actually was big enough for the rides. Unbelievable, as we were just there a couple months ago and he was far from it.

Also at the zoo, we were sitting on a bench watching the apes and I looked over at Will and he had half of a cookie in his hand taking a bite. I looked past him and saw a littler boy on the other side of him, looking at William with wonder and holding half of a cookie. I scolded Will for taking the boy’s cookie and Will’s answer (loudly) was, “But I *SAID* please!”

Signa made a big poster with houses along the bottom, clouds all over the top (and some birds) and a cutout of words glued in the center. “Possibly Sims3 tumoroe.” All of this in response to this conversation: Signa- “Momma, can we play Sims3 tomorrow?” Me- “Possibly.”

I’ll try to be better about posting things as I go. Especially pictures of our new house!
Why religion doesn’t work so great in our house:

Us: Some people believe that when you die, you come back as something else.
Signa: Yeah, like a ghost.
Us: (stifling a giggle) No, like other things.
SIgna: Oh, like zombies!
Us: (barely holding back) No, more like cows and cats and dogs.
Will: When you are a dog, Momma, you are going to bark and I’m going to spank you.
Us: -------(silently start William’s future therapy fund)
Us: Other people think that when you die you go to heaven.
Signa: (with joy and excitement) OR HELL!!!!
William: Or DAMMIT!!!!!
SIGNA DOES! She was tested and promoted on Saturday for her martial arts class. The instructor said such wonderful things about her that we've all been walking on air. Well, that is until the colds hit us so hard that are heads are too heavy to be held upright for long periods of time.

But she now is a Yellow Belt! Watch out...
I posted some items and now my whole site is gone. Just testing...

Mister Spock

Yes, I know that twice in one day is just silly, compared to how often I've written lately. But here's the thing... I have BIG NEWS!

Mister Spock, formerly known as Pauly, has just joined the family today. He was a stray that the owners decided not to pay the fee for at the dog pound... He's small, but big, super mutty, the most beautiful blue eyes and best personality ever.


I’ve been having a terrible time keeping up with pictures and with writing here. I know I missed telling you all about our trip to Oregon. Signa and I went and had a girls’ weekend (but with Grampa, too, so not really all girls…). We had a fantastic time just being. My favorite thing was watching Signa being fascinated with the different types of moss. All of us got involved and collected different kinds for her. We had fun at the mall with Grandma Molly and had fun just being around the house, all together.

I’m going to try to get pictures updated this next week, so I’ll be sharing those to those of you who asked to be on the list. We got new cameras, so I need to see how those look compared to our old ones.

In other news, Signa is now in martial arts and has just been told she’s ready to test for her yellow belt. Very exciting. We were unsure of it at first, but have found it to be really good for Signa. Plus she loves it. She never stops smiling the whole time she’s there. I wonder how her face cannot just be aching from all that smiling.

I also missed telling you about our vacation with our friends from Ohio. I could retell it, but their 10-year-old daughter, M, wrote the story herself and gave me permission to share. She tells it better than I ever could have. And when I read it, I just want to have that vacation all over again. I cannot wait to see them again.


Chapter 1 Meeting Up

It was the morning that spring break started and I had to wake up at 2:30 AM. We were going to California. I had never been there before and was very excited to go. My alarm went off, I quickly got dressed, and prepared to leave. I pulled my hair back in a ponytail and brushed my teeth. My dad and I put the suit cases in the truck and we all got in to drive to the airport. When we got there, the line to get our bags checked was really long. We waited an hour and a half to get our bags checked! They had to hold the plane because everyone that was on the flight was in line. After they checked our bags we ran through the airport to catch our flight. We made it there with enough time to go to the bathroom before getting on the plane. We had planned to get cinnamon rolls at the airport for breakfast but since we didn’t have time, we had mini chocolate cookies, coke, and fruit stripe gum for breakfast on the plane. We flew to the airport in the Dallas, Texas and ate lunch there. When we finally arrived in California, I was so happy. We drove across a really long bridge called the Bay Bridge. We stayed in a beautiful hotel. We had a junior suite. It even had a kitchenette.
After checking into our hotel, we changed our clothes and went to our friends Marc, Debbie, Signa, and Will’s house. We ate dinner and played outside. When it was time to go back to the hotel, Will thought we were not coming back and started to cry!
The next morning Will was so excited to see me because he has a crush on me. We split up into two vehicles. Mommy, Debbie, little Will and I all rode in Debbie’s mini van. We went to the Harley Davidson store and then to Target to get some Starbucks. A [K’s 6-year-old sister] and I had vanilla bean frappuccinos. Signa had an icee from the Target concession stand area. Will, A, Signa and I shared a piece of coffee cake. Will also drank half of Debbie’s and half of A’s vanilla bean frappuccino. After our snack, we went to downtown Livermore and walked around and went into some of the shops. They had a farmer’s market and we bought cheese and fudge. For lunch, we went to a winery called Wente. We ate lunch beside the golf course there. The adults did a wine tasting after lunch.

Chapter 2 San Francisco

The second day we drove into San Francisco. We went to the Golden Gate Bridge and walked two miles of it and then turned around and walked back. My dad was so scared that he always held onto a railing. We saw sea lions swimming in the water below us. We could see all the way to Alcatraz and the buildings of San Francisco. After that we went to Muir Woods to see the redwood trees that are only found in California. The tallest redwood at Muir Woods is about 258 feet tall. The oldest trees are at least 1200 years old. The trees seemed to go up forever and were so big around that we could fit our whole family in one that was hollow at the bottom.
It was time for lunch so we drove to Chinatown to eat. We all ordered something different and then shared it. We went to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory to see them make fortune cookies. It was just a room with three old ladies folding up the cookies. We all got to eat a fortune cookie that was too cold to be folded. They were really good. After lunch we shopped in Chinatown. Will bought a little Totoro doll with a suction cup on a string attached to him. A got a jade Budda figure. We drove around and went up and down the hills. We went to Lombard Street which is San Francisco’s most crooked street. We walked down and back up. The street is made of bricks and we saw a boy trying to skateboard down the street. It was getting late and on our way out of town, we drove by the Painted Ladies which are pastel colored houses in a row. We drove back to our hotel and crashed.
In the morning, the Mascots came to the hotel and we followed them to the Bart Station. We rode the Bart into San Francisco. The Bart is the subway. We got some hot cocoa and then walked to Pier 39 to catch the boat to go to Alcatraz. Alcatraz, also known as The Rock, used to be a jail until it closed in 1963. It was used as a jail because it is a small island and it made it hard for people to try to escape. We took a tour of Alcatraz and saw the cells for the prisoners, the library, and the dining hall. We even saw the cells where some men escaped by digging through the cement blocks. They were never seen again. I got a book called Alcatraz the True End of the Line by Darwin E. Coon. Darwin was sentenced to four years on The Rock. He was a bank robber. He was in the gift shop and signed my book.
After the tour, we took the boat back to Pier 39 and we ate lunch, shopped and saw the sea lions. We also went to Fisherman’s Wharf and to Ghiradelli Square where we went to the Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory and saw them making chocolate from the cocoa beans. We got ice cream there. At the end of the day, we rode on a cable car. The conductor let A, Signa and I all pull on the brake together. The conductors also let us each ring the bell. After that, we rode the Bart back to Livermore and went to the hotel and to sleep.

Chapter 3 The Beach

On Wednesday morning, we went over to the Mascot’s house. The moms went grocery shopping for food to take to the beach house with us. The kids all played together outside. We played with live snails in a dollhouse. After lunch, we drove to the beach house on Hidden Beach in Aptos, California. The house was so big and beautiful. We went for a walk on the beach. Later that night, we had a little bonfire in the fire pit in the backyard and made smores. I ate four. After that we cleaned up and went to bed.
The next morning when I went downstairs, Will came running to me and gave me a big hug. He also said, “Good morning”. My dad made pancakes for us all for breakfast. After everyone ate, we went down to the beach. We took a two mile walk down the beach to see a ship that sank. They brought it back up and filled it with cement to create a pier to fish off of. We found seashells, sand dollars, rocks, sea glass, and small jelly fish on our walk. We jumped the waves, talked and took pictures. We all had sore feet after walking the two miles back to our area of the beach.
Our trip to California was to celebrate my mom and dad’s birthdays. For dinner that night, we went to the Beach Resort Restaurant for a delicious dinner. Both my parents got whole lobsters. The kid’s meals even came in a sand bucket with a shovel. After dinner, we went back to the beach house to play games and make more smores before going to bed.
Friday was our last full day in California. We went to Capitola where we ate lunch on the water and shopped. They had all kinds of art shops that I liked going through. We got some ice cream. After that, we drove to Santa Cruz and walked the boardwalk. We went in the arcade there and saw old arcade games like the laughing lady and the fortune teller. We went back to the beach house and made tacos for dinner.

Chapter 4 Going Home

On Saturday, we woke up early and went to the beach. It was windy and really cold. My feet felt like they were frozen. We were hoping to find lots of sand dollars before everyone got to the beach but the tide was still too high to find them. We found nothing but rocks and jelly fish. We dug in the sand for awhile with our shovels and buckets from the restaurant. We were all so cold that we went back to the beach house. We ate breakfast and finished packing up to go to the airport. Daddy took me back to the beach one more time to look for sand dollars and sea glass but we only found a few little pieces of sea glass. We went back to the beach house, changed our clothes, and said our goodbyes. Will was so upset that I was leaving that he wouldn’t speak to me. He just cried his heart out. Finally I got him to give me a hug and tell me bye bye. We all cried at the thought of leaving our friends. Mom, Dad, A and I went to the airport. Once we got through security, we got some lunch. We boarded the plane and flew to St. Louis, Missouri. We were going to get dinner in St. Louis but everything was closed. When we got to Dayton it was almost midnight so we drove home and went straight to bed. I will never forget my fun spring vacation trip to California.
Dear Bubbanator/Bubba/Baby Man/Wilhelm/etc.,

It is so hard to believe you are THREE today. Three years old. Three years ago you were tucked safely inside and now you are running around getting injured daily. While you worry me incessantly with your bravery cum tantrumness, you also amaze me with your loving and thoughtfulness. You are energetic, quick to change emotions and so easily pleased. I remember being nervous about having a boy, but you’ve changed all that and now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This past year has been so much fun with you. You speak so nicely and clearly and you are very comfortable expressing your feelings and your wants and needs. I love that you are polite (mostly) and even though you have to say, “Sorry,” just about every other word, I like that it upsets you that you got in that predicament yet again- shows that you really are sorry.

There are a few things that I do hope go away this year, though. The lying (“Daddy said I could”) and the “It was an accident” (even when it clearly wasn’t). Those things can go bye-bye any time. You now have a big boy bunk bed, so you will be in there soon and you also should start thinking about potty training sometime before I write next year’s letter. But other than those things, Bubba, please just stay my little man and give me lots of hugs and kisses always.

Love, Momma


Update to Charlotte: Signa now uses Indiana Jones' whip as a leash and leads Charlotte around the house with it...

William, with his arms held out to me, said, "Momma, may I please have some up?"

My Daughter

Marc and Tori took Signa to the comic book convention in SF yesterday (Wondercon, I think it's called). There were literally thousands of items for Signa to choose from and she had $50 from birthday money to spend. What did she buy?

Out of all those items to choose from?


It's name is Charlotte. Yes, it's sperm. And no, she doesn't know what it is except that it's tadpole/worm-like so she likes it.

And her other front tooth JUST came out. Much blood (Signa) and tears (me). Now everyone is too excited to go to sleep.

Just finished watching Group 2 of American Idol. Yawn. B-O-R-I-N-G. I was hard-pressed to come up with three. All I had was one for sure vote. My man Norman. He’s really no American Idol, but he needs his own freaking show. A show where I don’t fast-forward through performances just to hear Simon’s critic.

So here was our list. Marc and I are bad with names, so we gave everyone names that we can remember.

* Norman- seriously entertaining. I actually wanted to see more.
* Bat Chic- she looks like a bat. At first she was pig-nose girl, but then Marc said “bat” and it was more fitting. She has a cool voice.
* Tatoo Girl- sleeved tattoo. Pretty girl and pretty voice.

* Jonas Cousin- irritating beyond belief and looks like a Jonas Brother knock-off. You should not be allowed to sing, “I can’t get no satisfaction” with a stage smile on. It’s just wrong.
* Oscar Wilde (aka The Knack- his name is really Kai Kalama- say it aloud and you’ll know why we sometimes call him The Knack)- Wild hair and a good voice, but not that good.
* Welder Guy- bald guy who welds. Good for him. Hope he’s really good at welding.
* Red-haired 16-year-old- super cute, but boring.
* Cute MN Girl- super cute, but not that good.
And the four forgetables

Signa has a check-up with the doctor today. It's about 6 months late and we never did get her shots last year. We just forget these things, as she's so healthy. Darn it. She's healthy and strong and even though she is the pickiest eater in the entire universe, she is growing just fine. Her face is so adorable with the missing front tooth. I love looking at her. Sometimes when I look at her beautiful face smiling at me, my brain acts like a movie screen and flashes her at me through the years. All the way from baby to little girl. And I know that I'm biased, but she seems to get more and more beautiful each year- inside and out.

I love how she isn't like other kids and is so much like Marc. She loves movies and isn't afraid of the things "normal" kids are afraid of. We all went to see Coraline, which is a movie that many adults would have been afraid of, in my opinion. But it was among my favorite movies and I nervously looked at Signa at the end and asked her what she thought. "IT WAS THE BEST 3D ANIMATIONS I'VE SEEN IN MY WHOLE LIFE!" She loved it. (as a side note, William enjoyed the popcorn and M&Ms. He then fell asleep and snored through the entire movie.)

And speaking of William...

He is learning to be polite. Or, I should say, we are constantly reminding him to be more polite. He ran up to me the other day, held out a tissue and demanded, "I HAVE A RUNNY NOSE." I looked at him and said, "How do you say that more nicely?"

"MAY I *PLEASE* HAVE A RUNNY NOSE?" Tissue still held out, demandingly.

Really, how do you not laugh and reinforce this?

Gramma spent the night last night and so she had to be subject to all his games. They played the Grandma game, the Winnie the Pooh game, and the card game. All while Marc and Signa went to get a pizza. They came back with a big ball of dough to play with (they give it to kids to shut them up). Signa gave Will a softball-sized ball and Will proceded to subject Gramma to a nice rousing game of Guess Which Hand It's In. So he'd hold out his tiny 2 1/2-year-old sized fists, one empty and one with an enormous piece of dough and make Gramma guess. And you can't tell him anything, so you have to keep guessing, even though the dough is bigger than his hand to his elbow.

But at the table just now at breakfast he said, "May I please have a napkin?" So all is well in the Mascot household.

For now.
I’m pretty sure that I don’t breastfeed any more. William just sort of stopped asking a few weeks ago and I stopped offering. I did ask one night at bed time if he wanted beeboes and he said, “No, I just have yer arm.” So he rubbed my arm and went to sleep.

Last night, though, he asked again. I told him the beeboes didn’t have any milk in them any more. He said, “No mik? How ‘bout water?” I told him that beeboes don’t make water. “How ‘bout juice?” Nope, no juice either, I said.

“Ahhhh,” he said with woe. Then he killed me with the cartoon I've-been-let-down sound of: “WOMP WOMP WOMP WAHHHHH.”
You don't want to hear the following words from your 2 1/2-year-old when he's alone in the living room:

"That's okay, Daddy! It was an akkident!"

All's well. There was just a spill or something. But the words conjured up many images of many "akkidents".


I can't find it, but once upon a time, I wrote a letter to a snot-nosed freaky unmannered child. It went something like this:

Dear Snot-nosed Freaky Unmannered Child,
I realize that your parents never taught you to be nice or friendly, so it's not your fault, but honestly, it's not Signa's fault either and so I wish I could throw rocks at you. Or at least kick you. In your tiny freaky bitchy shins. Hard. But I am nearly 40 and you are 5, so I'm sure it'd be illegal. Instead I did nothing and then just will hate you forever for saying, "Do we even know you?" to my 3-year-old when she so nicely walked up and introduced herself to you.
Signa's Momma

On Friday, we had another such incident. Some snot-nosed, freaky, unmannered child was so rude to Signa that Signa just sat there smiling not even knowing it was mean. "Why do you smile so much? It seems like you don't even know how not to smile" were said in a mean way, not a cheerful way and I just had to jump in. I told her that Signa smiles because she is happy and doesn't stop because she's still happy, even though she has to sit next to kids who don't play well with others and don't know how to smile on such a beautiful day.

Luckily, Marc already had known this kid was an issue an had already commented to her how we had met her at another park before but (quote) "Yeah, you were a lot cooler then." I'd said, "Marc!" under my breath admonishing him for it, but then she was mean to Signa and I just wanted to throw sand in her bitchy "socialized" face. But Marc had seen it coming. I'm proud that my kids introduce themselves, jump in and play, and share. I'm not sad that they smile "too much". Isn't smiling a good thing?

Bitchy little 6-year-old, you ruined my freaking park day with my kids. When you grow up to be president of something, I'm so coming after you. You owe me a day at the park.
It's time to play Marc's favorite game! The Morning Game! Here's how you play... Take 2 children, ages 6 and 2 and decide what they are having for breakfast. Porridge, you say (Cream of Wheat, but they won't eat anything with the word, "wheat" so you always call it "porridge"--- like the bears). So here's the game.

Decide if you make one packet each or two. If you make two, they only eat one bite each and then are done and you waste a packet and a half each (so three packets). If you make one each, they will want more and have ants in their pants for the 1 minute and 30 seconds that it takes to quickly make the next packet and then they will decide that their Sitting Still quota has been all used up and don't want to eat.

I know what you are thinking- outsmart them and make three packets. Hold one in reserve and when they finish the first and start the tantrum- BAM! Split it between them. Yeah, good plan, but it doesn't work. They will either take the route of wasting all of it entirely OR they will not want to split it and the day will begin in tantrums. "MINE!" "NO, MINE!" "Will got more than I did." "Dister more Will!" Irritating.

The other fun game that sometimes, though, thankfully rarely comes after the Morning Game is the Bath Game. This doesn't need to be described entirely, but involves the following ingredients: William, a bathtub, lots of bleach and the crying words, "Oh no! I poop in the tub!!!" Not really in that order.