Road Trip

From a couple of balmy weeks ago
Glorious Summer Holidays

If I do not go to the shop today we shall all starve.

But that's the real trouble with holidays. If push comes to shove, and it might, I may be able to drag something out of the freezer, kicking and screaming. But if they won't eat the defrosted victim, I shall be no further forwarder. What good are hot dogs without any buns?

No.

A trip to the shops is a must. A trip to the shops with all my lovely children, and Nonna will be a bust.

There are the usual calculations to be made. Interesting shop where I might be able to contain them or boring shop where everyone will run away. A shop with electric doors will ensure that I'll be able to find one escapee. A shop without strip lighting, as the flickers lead to fleeting. A shop with no freezer section because the buzz drives one batty.

Then there's timing. Sufficiently after breakfast so that they're not too hungry. Not too late in the morning, so as to have a better chance at a curb side parking slot, to minimize the chance of death by traffic.

One list for each child. One list with three essential and preferred items each. Ensure that my handwriting will pass muster for the perfectionist. If it's cursive, make sure it is sufficiently curly not zig zaggy. Who in their right mind would hold a piece of paper with those jagged angled zags?

I really need an aide memoire, a little check list pinned to the door for all essentials. Mustn't forget the huge blanket this time. I certainly won't make that mistake again, the fire dance in the car park! 20 minutes shopping with the car parked outside in the heat. A toasty little furnace. A metal box absorbing heat atoms. At the height of summer, in California, in America, airless and still. How could we survive without a thick fleece blanket? Not only do I need to remember to take it, I need to remember to cover the seats.

Forget the dogs:- no-one wants hot buns!


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Tackle it Tuesday – Teeny tiny

We're pretty busy around here so today's tackle is a tiny one that should bring big rewards, especially for me. The trouble with having so many bodies around is that any semblance of organization and tidying is pretty much destroyed with the passage of the next 24 hours. Here is a slightly longer term solution.

Choose the drawer in your kitchen with the highest traffic, the one that everyone needs to use frequently.

First weed the drawer of all non essentials. Try and put like with like.

Have a trial run to see what you can fit in one drawer easily and discard the rest for another time. Take a large sheet of coloured paper and draw around each item with a black marker pen. Alternatively photograph each item but this can be problematical due to scale. [and expensive!] Laminate the paper cut-outs so that it will last longer and be easier to clean.

Line the drawer with 'grip liner' to reduce clanking.

Clean all items and replace in the correct position in the drawer.

Finally label the drawer with something relevant.

Some families may benefit from a few additional steps.

Sometimes numbering the empty spaces also helps, as can the name of the item written on the relevant cut out. Many children can read either words or numbers. For example, they may not know what a tin opener is, but if it is matched to a number and shaped cut-out, it is far easier to identify.

On completion photograph the contents of the drawer and enlarge to A4 size if possible. Laminate and mount on card and place on the wall of the counter behind the corresponding drawer. If this offends your 'perfect kitchen' image, you can always stick it on the inside of the door below, which can also be useful for smaller children who are better matched in height to this visual aid.

Alternatively, place the 'cheat sheet' in the drawer itself over the contents where it can be removed and held as a ready reference guide. Often physically holding the card, something tangible, in one hand aids eye tracking and referencing back.

This is also handy if you have additional spare bodies floating around your house such as therapists, baby sitters and miscellaneous experts.

There are any number of adaptations to suit the individual needs of your little helpers. For instance, part of the reason for covering the paper icons with sticky back plastic is not only to keep it clean but also because the texture of paper is abhorrent to some people.

Other children may find the reflective nature of the laminate equally as offensive. Some children respond positively to certain colour preferences e.g. pink becomes a magical co-operative hue but black means that no-one will dare go within shooting distance.

There are many fringe benefits to this approach other than tidiness and cleanliness.

Additionally, children learn competency, which boosts their self esteem. They learn that they are contributing to the household in a useful and helpful manner which also adds to their feelings of belonging to a unit.

Many of these kitchen items are words that they have no interest in learning. Even though they are still unlikely to 'want' to learn them, quite often they learn them incidentally by doing, if not accidentally, or what is often termed 'kinesthetic' learning.

They can tell that they have completed a task without help [or not very much help] perfectly and gain the satisfaction of a job well done, and task completion can often be a huge hurdle.

What I like about this task is that it is cheap, easy and relatively quick but with many long term benefits for everyone.

So now that we're finished! Could you open the fridge, pass me a beer and number 17 please!

Cheers dears

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Snip, snap, snip!

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My sons have both developed an interest in photography because we gave their sister a camera for her Summer Camp trip. They ‘steal’ my camera rather than hers because mine is silent.

When he skips into the house I catch him red handed. I flip through his latest batch with a frown. “I am be foto dah dead fings.” Against my better judgment I must conclude that this is a “good thing.”

I dash outside with the kitchen scissors and cut off every offensive crispy brown head I can find. The newly rigged up “irrigation” system is extremely irritating, intermittent and generally unco-operative. Behind me, since I am never really alone, my son hovers in the door way as he clutches Piplup to his chest, close to his heart.
“What you are do?” he asks without prompting.
“I'm just giving this plant a haircut!”
As I reply, I am simultaneously aware that my words have another interpretation, “nothing screams neglect more than an untrimmed bush!”

He runs inside yelping, “don neglect me!

Although to be honest, my mind was somewhere else entirely.

For more words, I have a new post up on “alien” called “All Frightfully Chummy” and a “note from “Nonna” called “Leaf Location.”


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Death Threats

Please Scroll Down for Photo Friday

“Why you ard be bring dat fing of danger to my life in here?”
“Which thing?”
“Dat blue plastic danger wiv dah white handle.”
“Oh. It's a bucket. A big bucket……… with wheels to make life easier.”
“Wheels! Ooo yes dat is be make my life easier…..and…….funnerer.”


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Magic Marker Monday

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Apologies for the blurry picture, the camera was on the wrong setting. [I wonder who fiddled with that?]

Anyway, I just wanted to mention that both my sons are logical thinkers. Numbers and sequences of numbers help in just about every situation:- first we do this and then we do that. It is by no means fool proof but a concrete message is far more effective than a lot of surplus words. There is something about expectations in black and white, or rather blue and white in this case, that helps smooth over many of their worries and concerns.

Of course a visual timer as an accompaniment also helps them understand that the end is near in sight, which in turn reduces their anxiety, which in turn makes them more capable of concentrating on the task at hand.


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Delegation, art or fiction? – Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

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Several years ago, the freezer decided to live an independent existence from the integrated fridge above. It froze itself shut, never to allow the light of day to penetrate. At that time I had a number of more pressing concerns. Since we had more money than sense, we purchased a small freezer from Home Depot, parked in the garage and admitted defeat.

Now several years later I commence a great number of new campaigns. The first campaign is to defrost the freezer in the garage. It's all a matter of priorities. The second campaign shall be to conquer the freezer in the kitchen, because it's always best to start the wrong way around.

With the contents already loaded trash sacks, I should have an hours grace to defrost, clean and refill, to avoid the threat of food poisoning. I rush around with the dust buster in one hand and my electronic toothbrush in the other. These are my last two chores before commencement of the main event. I take care not to muddle my tools.

I am ready.

I leave Nonna watching Yogi Bear in the family room at full volume. I pause. Does this constitute elder abuse? I listen to Boo Boo chat to Yogi. I'm tempted to join her on the sofa. As the Park Ranger arrives I take this as my cue. I leave my children, their father, the train set and the i-phone in the garden which should entertain and engage the majority, one way or another. I dash into the garage with a cleaver, a wooden spoon and a bowl of boiling water. I begin to hack away at the ice. For once, I am responsible for the increase in noise production.
“What?” I turn from my position on the concrete floor to the speaker. Nonna.
“I'm defrosting the freezer.”
She steps closer, gingerly due to the lumps of ice and water. “Dat's bad.”
“I know.”
“Ow often do you do dat?”
“First time ever.”
“Ooo dats not good.”

I smell something odd, even though my nose is frozen. Something vaguely reminiscent of nail polish remover, which is peculiar since we generally avoid acetone.

I hear the doorbell, drop everything and dash to welcome our guest for the afternoon on the very last day of the Summer Holidays. I am surprised to see her mum dressed in attire to challenge Vogue but clearly I am ill equipped to advice on the appropriate dress code for a ball game, especially since I am uncertain which type of game the ball belongs to.

I meet and greet with frozen blue finger tips. I make mental notes in case the future requires me to attend a sporting function. I know that white is banned after Labour Day but we're not quite there yet. I only wish I could have been that well turned out for my own wedding. It seems strange to me that such a diminutive slip of a woman should wish to emblazon 'Giant' on her chest but maybe it's just wishful thinking. “My! your home looks so….”
“Messy. Yes I know, it's o.k. to say it out loud.”
“Oh no I didn't mean…..”
“That's quite o.k. It's not a dirty word.”
“Did you have a party here?”
“I suppose you could say that. Six people at home for six weeks, plus additional people here and there, now and then.”
She looks at me in silence because I am whittering.

We say our farewells and the girls flee in glee to their own recluse. I check the garden party, fine. I check Nonna, who has moved on to the comic book Baby Blues and then rush to the garage and the drips. I hurl bucket loads of ice out onto the flower bed together with silent prayers that the tomato plants don't get frostbite in August.

I hear agonized screams from the interior of the house and dash back to find who has been wounded with what? My youngest son hobbles on his heels with a bead of blood on one big toe. I grab towels and a damp cloth as Band Aides are banned for this child. Nonna appears with a handful of ice and a handful of tomatoes, my shadow. “Ere what I do with deez?” but it's hard to hear over the screams. Ice drips as does tomato pulp. He latches on to a ditty, considerably quieter, “talk about a space cadet, talk about a space cadet, talk about a space cadet.”
“What he is saying?”
“Nothing, don't worry about it,” I bellow.
“What is wrong with im?”
“TOE!” Nonna peers to see the microdot of blood.
“Ere put dis ice on it,” she offers and reaches as he jumps to his feet and scarpers at the speed of light. “So …….ees alright den…….”
“He doesn't do ice.”
“So I see.”
“Right. I must get on.”
“Oh…..I got im to elp you.”
“Who? Help with what?”
“Dey were too eavy for me, but I got him to take out all dah rubbish to dah trash can.”

Well I suppose that’s one way of crossing something off your list of ‘things to do.’

Excuse me, I'm off to IceLand, not to shop but to climb into a chest freezer and pull the door closed.

Nip over for a “nibble” if you haven’t already and make sure you leave your URL.


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Well I never!

Sometimes we should just take a step back and listen to ourselves, as other people hear us:-

He holds one each hand, when I catch him near the washing up bowl.

“Don't put your balls in the water dear they'll rust!”
“But dey are be dirty.”
“We can wipe them clean, just don't dunk them in the sink.”
“Rust! Rust? What is it be 'rust'?”
“Oxidization…..um…..rusty….orangey red coloured, because they're made with metal, er steel.”
“No……my balls are be made of plastic.”
“They have a steel hinge. That's what allows you to open them and snap them shut again.”
“Dis fing here?”
“That's right. One side has the button, the other side has a hinge.”
“Oh dat is bad for balls.”
“It is indeed. If you get them wet they'll seize shut and you'll never be able to open them again. Then where would we be?”

Now wouldn't that be a tragedy. Save us from ourselves!

This is why children need emancipation.


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Piles of corruption

“Oopsie!”
I put down the unpeeled onion and skip over to my son buried in half a tonne of dried cat food.
“It broked,” he explains unnecessarily and delightfully.
“Never mind dear. I'll soon get this swept up.”
“He is be hungrary.”
“Yes I guessed that because of all the yeowling.”
“But you are not be feed him.”
“Yes I'm sorry about that I was trying to feed the humans first.”
“Maddy!”
I dash out of the utility room into the kitchen where Nonna is helping empty the dishwasher. She waggles a wooden spoon at me. I give up “speech” and try hand signals instead. I point to the wooden spoon pot on the cooker.
“Mom!”
“Yes dear.”
“Look it's funny!” he gaffaws. I jump into the family room where the BBC news has finished and the telly shows a scene of supreme unfunniness followed by a haemorroides advertisement. I snap off the power.
“Mom?”
“Yes dear?”
“When's dinner gonna be?”
Next Wednesday if there's a full moon and an R in the month.
“Probably about half an hour, hopefully.”
“But I'm starving now!”
“Have a banana.”
“Can you pass me one……please?”
I look at my daughter in a sea of Webkins on the green carpet.
“They're in the fruit bowl dear, help yourself.”
I run back to my onion and hack it for speedy skin removal.
“Mom?”
“Yes dear?”
“Where's the fruit bowl?”
“On the dining room table.”
“Mom?”
“Yes?”
“Why do we call it a dining room?”
“Because the nosebag room is less sophisticated.”
“Right then!” mutters their father with a face full of biscuits.
“Right then what?”
“I'm off to work.”
“But you've only been home 5 minutes?”
“Three actually. See you later.”
“Right then,” Nonna repeats to no-one in particular.
“Right then what?”
“I'm off to bed. Good night.”
“You can't go to bed yet!” I bellow at her retreating form.
“Why?”
“It's only half past six……and you've not had any dinner yet.”
“Wot?”
I point at the clock above my head with a very sharp sparkling knife dripping with onion juice.
“Wot? It has stopped?”
“No, if anything it seems to be going faster.”
“Where's he gone den?”
“Work. He's gone to work,” I yell.
“Oh…….it is breakfast time?”
“Not until tomorrow.”
I stop the conversation with an attempt at rapid chopping, which of course is a silent exercise for many people. I put the knife down on the counter and take a deep breath wondering what to explain first. My son charges through the kitchen with a four foot broom in one hand and 12 inch magic wand in the other shrieking, “ seals leaks instantly! Seals leaks instantly! Seals leaks instantly!”

Now that's something I could really use.
This must be why we all blog, for a little “Escapism.” I really should get out more often.

On a side note, if you have also missed the Olympics here’s a “link” that gave me my daily “giggle.”


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Special Exposure Wordless Wednesday

5 Minutes for Special Needs

Now is that exposed or protected from the sprinklers may I ask?

I take the advice of a pal!

Coincidence or not!

Cannot find the original Recipe for this “Million Dollar Shortbread” but this one is pretty “close.”

In fact it may be even better due to the nuts.

Shall we make that pounds as the current exchange rate should be in my favour?

p.s. if you are a cat lover [don’t tell me if you’re not] then nip over and watch this “video.” Caution = do not drink coffee at the same time. Kindly thanks to “Sam’s Stories” for putting me straight, in a slightly wonky fashion.


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Potato heads and loose chips

I wash up at the kitchen sink.

Next to me, Nonna leans on the counter for a closer look at the gimmicky, techy photograph frame, the one with the chip and the constant rolling pictures.

“Where is dat one den?” she asks with a quivering pointy finger for emphasis. I lean to the left but I've already missed it.

“Um what was it of?”
“You know.”

I guess. As the current image rolls away and try to calculate which would have been the one before it? If there are 78 photographs on the chip and we're about half way through, so they're about three or four years old, so that would have been our trip to England so that would have been….
“Ooo what about dat one den?” she asks with a quivering pointy finger for emphasis.

I lean to the left but I've already missed it. “Um what was it of?”
“You know.”

I pout and reach for the sack of potatoes to peel so that I re-use the water, even though it's still a bit tepid.

“What about dat one den?” I lean to the left and we bump shoulders accidentally and face each other. “Wot?”
“Um?”
“Dat one?”
“Er?”
“In your………..hand.”
“The potato.”
“The potato. What about the potato.”
“Is it American?”
“Er……yes……we're in America…..I think it's safe to say that this is indeed an American potato.”
“No!”
Beam me up Scotty!
“No?”
“I mean…..is it one of those……..what is it……begins with an 'i'?”

I think. I think hard. What is a vegetable that looks like a potato but begins with an 'i'? When Nonna's son walks in looking ever so slightly dazed, I lean backwards, so that I can interrupt his path, stare at him and give him 'the look.' He startles in response, “what?”
I whisper, “if you don't answer the next fifty questions I swear I won't be responsible for my actions!” I wave the peeler in front of him for emphasis.
“Oh right. MORNING MUM!” he bellows putting an arm around her shoulders just to startle her.
“Be gentle!” I snap as she wobbles to regain her balance.
“Ooo what about dat one den?”
“Dunno.”
“I'm not askin you, I'm asking Maddy. Maddy, what about dis one den?”
I glare at her son who sputters, “well I don't know do I?”
“Maddy, is dat a mouse picture?”
Her pronunciation of 'picture' is exquisite.

I relent.

I will explain the mouse picture to both of them for umpteenth time.
“Well…..it's a VOLE……do you remember?”
“A what?”
“VOLE!”
“Oh yes. I remember you said dat. Was it really in the house?”
“YES.”
“How did it get dere den?”
“THE CAT BROUGHT IT IN AS A PRESENT.”
“Which one?”
“NOT THESE CATS, THE CATS WE HAD BEFORE, 5 YEARS AGO.”
“Oh yes. Jasper and Meadow. I remember. They were beautiful cats too.”

Sharp as a tack!

“! Idaho!”

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