Monday, November 27, 2006

Joys of a Modern Tract Home

Nearly all of my adult life, I have lived in quirky, individualistic homes with lots of character. You know the type: half a century or more old, wood framed windows (some painted shut for decades), old fashioned fuses, questionable foundations. These houses are, without a doubt, charming. The unexpected built-ins, one-of-a-kind floor plans and unique curb appeal are a true delight to behold.

However, once you have near half a dozen children, these things tend to lose their appeal. You start becoming focused on things like asbestos, lead paint, exposed wiring and earthquake safety standards. You long for modern laundry facilities, sound garages with lots of storage and toilets that, well, flush when they are supposed to.

For this reason, I convinced my reluctant husband to buy a brand new house last year. For him (and, honestly, for me too) this was a bit of a sell out. We left quirky Marin County, California, where virtually no tract homes exist and anything mass produced is shunned, and moved to the land of every-house-is-the-same. At one time this would have been our worst nightmare and, to many of our friends up North, it still is.

But I could not be happier with the day-to-day convenience of this new home. I have storage space. I have insulation. I have a square, level lot and a convenient place for my trash cans. Who needs cute at this stage in life? Give me functional!

Today, as Jay strung Christmas lights under the eaves of our cookie cutter new home, my happiness became complete. For, conveniently located under the eaves, he found all the outlets he needed and, even more conveniently located inside, I found the switch that turns all the lights on and off. No more extension cords. No more going outside at 11pm in the freezing cold to pull the plug (or worse, trying to figure out that whole timer thing). Thank you, Pulte (our builder), for thinking of this simple yet highly satisfying detail.

Sold out? Perhaps, but who cares?! This is working for me!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cowboy in the Desert

Today I took a dirt road shortcut through the desert and saw a delightful sight: an authentic cowboy on horseback. I thought fondly of Lonesome Dove as I approached him, and took comfort in the fact that I live in a part of the west that is still just a little bit wild.

As I got nearer, I realized that he was not riding as a cowboy should. He seemed distracted and somewhat sideways in his saddle. Curious, I looked closer. He was holding something to his head. It must be a rag to ward off the dust, I thought, thinking of the classic kerchiefs of years ago.

As I passed alongside him, I took one last satisfied glance at my own local piece of history. It was then I realized it wasn't a kerchief at all. He was, in fact, talking animatedly on his cell phone. In his chaps and cowboy hat. On his horse. In the middle of the desert.

So much for Lonesome Dove.

From A Child's Perspective... stomach is getting alarmingly large.

Julia, for example, is starting to become concerned. Yesterday she was going with me out to the garage (aka my external pantry) to get some napkins for dinner. She noted that, due to the holiday, some things had been stacked in the narrow hall between the laundry room and garage door. She evaluated the size of the opening, turned around and took visual measure of my girth and said, "Mom, are you sure you're going to fit through here?" with all of the innocent concern that a 3 year old can muster.

It's nice to be loved.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Among The Many Things I Never Considered Would Be A Part of Parenthood

If you are easily offended, do not read this post. It's content is mildly disgusting, so I considered not posting this. Yet, as it is so representative of my life, I simply could not help myself.

The scene: Busy kitchen right before dinner time. Jay and I are in the final stages of food preparation.

Joey (distraught, running into the room): I was washing my hands in the bathroom and I accidentally dropped my new flashlight pen in the toilet!

Jay: Was there anything in the toilet?

Joey: No.

Jay: OK, then. Don't worry. I will go take care of it as soon as I'm finished here.

Five minutes pass in a flurry of frantic kitchen activity. (You know what's coming next, don't you?)

Lindsey (really, really distraught, running into the kitchen): I just pooped on Joey's new pen! I didn't see it was in the toilet until it was too late!

Stunned silence from Jay and I. A wail from Joey.

Lindsey (loudly whispering): Should I flush, or what?

Yes, another eventful day in the Di Silvestri household.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Fall Luncheon

Yesterday I had the priviledge of co-hosting a table at our school's annual Fall Luncheon fundraiser. Five months of planning, gathering supplies and learning about our table's theme culminated in a beautiful table, 40 very pleased guests and five happy but tired hostesses.

This year's theme was "United Nations", so each of the 12 tables represented a different country. We were China, and were joined by Ireland, Nigeria, the USA, France, Jamaica, Mexico, and Italy, among others. No matter the theme, lunch is always the same: traditional turkey and ham with mashed potatoes and all the fixings. A little strange when you are sitting with your chopsticks in China or with your chips and salsa in Mexico, but what can you do?

This event has been going on at our school for decades, and brings the parish and school together like nothing else. All three priests were there, several sisters from the nearby convent, both school principals, and lots and lots of parishoners who otherwise are not tied to the school, but may have been in years past and continue to love this event. There is so much history and goodwill in the room that you can't help but feel good just being there.

Following are some photos of our table and serving area.

Wine bottles, properly dressed for a trip to China:

Our honored guests:

The lion's head, made by hand by one of our hostess' moms:

We were delighted to win "best table", as demonstrated by monetary votes of the guests.

As tired as I am, I'm already looking forward to next year.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

An Unforseen Benefit of Tivo

Tonight I was catching up with some work at my desk, letting the children watch a before-bed TV show when I was interrupted by pervasive peals of laughter coming from their playroom.

I got up to investigate and found the four older children watching Maggie and the Ferocious Beast, remote in hand, pausing and rewinding and starting the same part over and over again. I sat on the couch to observe what was so funny and they were only too delighted to show me. Again, and again and again.

They had latched on to one scene where Hamilton the pig steps on Maggie's foot while dancing. Mildly funny to be sure, but not worth the hysteria that was ensuing. The good part, as they defined it, was to pause the program at the exact moment when Hamilton's hoof squashes Maggie's foot and she cries out. Viewing at normal speed, one would never have seen the exquisite detail with which the animators captured her anguish. However, viewed frame by frame, we could see exactly how painful this must have been for her, as her eyes screw up and her mouth opens to 5 times its normal size. For some reason, each child found this funny beyond measure and watched it again and again and again, howling with laughter at each progressive frame.

I don't get it, but I guess I don't need to.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Last night I was cold in bed. It wasn't that cold in the house, but still I couldn't get warm under the covers. I was laying there thinking that I needed to get up and put on a sweatshirt or something when Sam, who happened to have a fever last night, climbed into my bed and pressed himself against my back.

Problem solved. I was warmed, in more ways than one.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Request from The Grandparents

Where are the Halloween photos?!

I have heard this cry and am responding by posting now out-of-date but still amusing Halloween photos, particularly for the enjoyment of the grandparents.

My clown, zombie biker, ghost, Bo Peep and unidentified scary red robed thing (oh, and some crazy purple haired witch):

My wishes-for-the-quiet-life-of-a-monk husband along with his clown:

Pumpkin prep (I had the brilliant idea of letting them scoop out their own darn seeds...and it worked out great! I sometimes underestimate what they can do for themselves.):

And the fruit of their (OK, our) labor:

I hope everyone had a happy Halloween!

Report from the Front Line

Contrary to what may be becoming popular opinion, I am still here and all is well! Thanks to those of you who have prodded me to see why I haven't posted lately. Things have been crazier than usual around here and something had to give...the blog was it. Here is an update on our hectic but happy life.

Jay, who absolutely loves his new job, has been out of town for the past 3 weeks and is due to be gone again next week. This should not be normal in the long run, but is necessary at first as he gets to know the product, company and clients. We all miss him a lot when he is gone, but we do alright overall. However, after having him home for so long I have been in a bit of shock without him! Running the house on my own during the week coupled with my near-entry into my 3rd trimester--the slow and tired trimester, as I refer to it--has put me in bed along with the kids by 8:30 every night, leaving little time for my personal endeavors.

Virtually all of my free time has been devoted of late to my volunteer work at Sacred Heart School. I love being involved there and enjoy the people I meet through the work. This year I am treasurer of the Parent's Association and we have had several big fundraisers in a row, which has meant lots of accounting for me. I also compiled the family directory, which I just turned in yesterday (yipee!), and have been working on the annual Fall Luncheon, which is Tuesday. A lot of the things I do at the school all came to a head the same two weeks, and I have been gasping for air a bit--but I secretly love being this busy, having my fingers in so many pies.

Homeschooling is going well overall, and we just finished our first quarter. This week Joey and I met with the teacher that supervises me (we are enrolled with the California Virtual Academy, which is a public school, so I am required to meet certain standards and attendance requirements). We were both nervous ahead of time, but it went really well and we both left feeling as if we had an advocate rather than a "boss". Most days are very good, but we have the occasional challenge. This quarter we are going to work more on writing, which Joey hates but needs to improve, so I am bracing myself for more resistance. He is doing particularly well with math, and his reading has improved greatly, although he still dislikes it. Having this time with Joey is a gift for us both, and I have no regrets.

My choir is gearing up for Advent and Christmas, so there have been extra practices and some early concerts scheduled. I am grateful for this outlet in my life, as it is truly my down time.

The most fun news of the week is that after 9 months of looking at dirt out the back windows of the house, we finally have a lawn! Sod is a magical thing. One minute there is dirt, the next a beautiful green carpet. I am so grateful to have the majority of the dirt in the yard covered over, as there is already notably less dirt in the house and certainly in the pool. The yard is almost done. Just the vegetable garden and play area left to do, along with some perimeter planting in the spring. Patience, patience!

Speaking of the pool, I have to state that it was definitely a good investment. The kids are still swimming about 3 days a week (and no, it's not heated right now!). They warm up in the hot tub, which I do heat for them when they ask, and then swim a bit and get right back in the hot tub. Here is proof, a photo of the kids swimming in November. I wouldn't have believed it, but am thrilled. If you're going to build a pool, you certainly hope it will not sit unused. I am no longer worried about that here!

Fall is beautiful, and I am enjoying the cooler days and the colorful leaves. Life is good. As these crazy weeks wrap up, I hope to be more regular with the blog. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Saint Francis has a Black Eye

Seriously. Look for yourself.

Since today is All Saints Day, my school-going kids got to dress as their favorite saint. Any student wearing a saint costume got to lead the mass procession, carrying the banner of the saint that their grade chose. I can't tell you how funny it was to see Sam (a.k.a. Saint Francis) leading the Kindergarten procession, with his hands piously pressed together, sporting a shiner. I'm thinking this has to be a first. Or, maybe not, who knows?!

Lovely Lindsey was Saint Rita, the patron saint of impossible causes (chosen in honor of our former parish, Saint Rita). I couldn't figure out a humane way to affix a thorn to her forehead, so I skipped it. Jay encouraged her to grow very, very comfortable in her habit since she will be joining the convent before she is ever allowed to date. That poor girl.

As weary as this mother is after Halloween followed by new costumes for All Saints Day, it is all worth it for photo ops like these. Oh, and for the record...the shiner is a result of a jump house collision with his older brother. And that boy barely even noticed he was injured. Go figure!