Friday, April 30, 2010

Porch Progress

I love spring projects! I am anxious to get our front porch painted and finished up!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Produce Binge

If you ever have wondered what would happen if a six pound ball of insanity horked down a one pound bunch of raw asparagus in thirty seconds you'll be thrilled to know I'll have an answer to that question shortly. Yep, she did.This photo was take post binge with a stand in bunch of veggies. Notice how Little Lu doesn't seem really eager to gnaw on it? Asparagus is not poisonous to dogs, but her general disinterest does not bode well for her tiny tummy...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Elephant Toothpaste

This afternoon I helped another Irving mom lead a science experiment in Finn's class. I am always thrilled when Deb asks me to be her assistant because she brings some pretty cool experiences into the classroom. Today the kids made "elephant toothpaste" as part of their study of catalysts. Finn even recreated the experiment for Leif and Emma this evening at home!

This is messy, but give it a try at home!

"Elephant Toothpaste"

What you need:
1 12oz plastic soda bottle
Hydrogen Peroxide
High quality dish soap
Active Dry yeast

Dissolve about 3t active dry yeast in warm water and set aside. Place the funnel in the bottle and add 1/2 C hydrogen peroxide and 1/4 C of dish soap. Pour in the yeast mixture and remove the funnel. If you do this in the house, place a 9x13 pan under the bottle to catch the "toothpaste."
The kids also started a experiment called "naked eggs" today and we started a couple at home this afternoon. They take a week to complete, but I think it should be interesting to see what happens. To start your own "naked eggs" place a hard boiled egg in a clear cup and place a raw egg in a second glass. Cover each egg with vinegar. Allow the eggs to sit for 24 hours and change the vinegar. Allow the eggs to sit for a week and wait to see what happens!

Buckle Up

Sometimes it helps to have a powerful image serve as a little reminder when something is this important. I love it when movement sends a message!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Things that make you go hmmm...

My childhood friend, Ione, shared this on facebook and I simply had to repost the piece. It is quite extaordinary, really.

"Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black" - Tim Wise

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure - the ones who are driving the action - we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

Imagine that a prominent mainstream black political commentator had long employed an overt bigot as Executive Director of his organization, and that this bigot regularly participated in black separatist conferences, and once assaulted a white person while calling them by a racial slur. When that prominent black commentator and his sister — who also works for the organization — defended the bigot as a good guy who was misunderstood and “going through a tough time in his life” would anyone accept their excuse-making? Would that commentator still have a place on a mainstream network? Because that’s what happened in the real world, when Pat Buchanan employed as Executive Director of his group, America’s Cause, a blatant racist who did all these things, or at least their white equivalents: attending white separatist conferences and attacking a black woman while calling her the n-word.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” After all, these are things that Rush Limbaugh has said, about Barack Obama’s administration, Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois in which two black kids beat up a white kid, and about liberals, generally.

Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” This is, after all, what Pastor Stan Craig said recently at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?” After all, those are among the things said by radio host and best-selling author Michael Savage, predicting white revolution in the face of multiculturalism, or said by Savage about Muslims and liberals, respectively. And it was Congressman Culbertson, from Texas, who praised Savage in that way, despite his hateful rhetoric.

Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.

Imagine that a popular black liberal website posted comments about the daughter of a white president, calling her “typical redneck trash,” or a “whore” whose mother entertains her by “making monkey sounds.” After all that’s comparable to what conservatives posted about Malia Obama on last year, when they referred to her as “ghetto trash.”

Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress.

In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

Game Over.

Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S. Wise has spoken in 48 states, on over 400 college campuses, and to community groups around the nation. Wise has provided anti-racism training to teachers nationwide, and has trained physicians and medical industry professionals on how to combat racial inequities in health care. His latest book is called Between Barack and a Hard Place.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Night Blue

Last night we attended a masquerade gala to benefit Night Blue Theater at Carnivale.
I thought it was great fun to get all dressed up and head into the city with friends!
A longtime Night Blue Artist also works as a teacher at Irving and it is a pleasure to support his love of the theater! We enjoyed a nice meal and several yummy mojitos before dancing part of the night away. It was nice to get out!

Friday, April 23, 2010


(Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice)
This evening the staff appreciation committee practiced the varied dishes we'll serve at our 2010 lunch. We've made adjustments to our menu, but overall things are looking good! In a day and age when volunteerism is facing a crisis, I am happy to report things are alive and well within this old committee. After all, we are in the process of celebrating the folks taking care of our children everyday. Talk about inspiration.
(Hush Puppies with Orange Mustard Sauce)
(Shrimp Po'Boy)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Time Warp

Above: Emma taking flowers from our garden to her teacher on her last day of kindergarten.

Below: Emma with her kindergarten teacher last night.
Isn't it amazing what eight years can do to a girl?
Yes, Emma is taller than her teacher, but I assure you Ms. G looks EXACTLY the same!

Scenes from the Fair

Finn certainly enjoyed his time at the academic fair! His egg survived the egg drop yesterday afternoon and he enjoyed sharing information about the World Cup with familiar faces last night.
I always love this special day at Irving!

One parent told me about her conversation with Finn at the fair:

Finn: So, you see this is a picture of England's national team and I think they are going to win the World Cup. Do you see this tall guy in the middle?
Her: Yes, I see him.
Finn: He is the tallest one there, right?
Her: Yes, he sure is.
Finn: His name is Crouch. Isn't that funny?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ready for the Fair

Finn has been hard at work preparing for Irving's Academic Fair and Egg Drop tomorrow. His presentation on the 2010 World Cup is first rate and his entry into the egg drop has a pretty decent shot at success. We are tremendously proud of his hard work and most importantly, he is proud of himself!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Going Green

(Photo by Jassen S)
To celebrate Earth Day and the Irving Green Space Initiative the student body wore green and spelled "green" on the school black top today and Finn was placed in the R.
I think they all made quite a cool statement.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Made in the Shade

We've been working hard on our back yard oasis over the past couple of years and today we picked up this lovely red umbrella for our table. It even has solar powered lights on the underside and we couldn't be more thrilled to have a little shade on our patio!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chilly Little Brunch

This morning we hosted a casual little brunch on the deck for some friends. We all did our best to pretend it was 80 degrees, but eventually we all faced the fact there wasn't enough coffee in the land to keep us warm and retired to the family room!
Everything was delicious! Leif's Bloody Mary's were a hit as usual and our friend's homemade blueberry, banana, pecan coffee cake was divine. I made a baked egg dish and I think it has some decent potential!

Having these lovely lilacs on the dining room table helped to bring the spring feeling inside on a chilly morning.
Thanks for joining us friends!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Her first dog...

H planned the menu for our deck dinner with three of the Pfour tonight. How it is humanly possible Ang enjoyed her very first chili dog this evening is beyond me!
I just am thrilled she liked it.

Summer Color

Switching my hair to my summer color is always a season highlight!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Social Studies Collision

Two days ago, when Emma returned from school she wasn't quite her usual bubbly self and I asked her if anything had happened at school and she responded, "Nothing out of the ordinary, but something just a little AWFUL happened." My curiosity was piqued to say the least. Emma went on to explain her social studies class was holding a mock town hall meeting about the possible expansion of slavery into the north. Students were assigned various roles for the assignment an Emma's AWFUL moment came when she was assigned her role...she was cast as a southern land and slave owner who had moved north and was classified as a "pro-slavery radical. " Those kids assigned the pro-slavery roles were expected to be vocal and quite mean.

During dinner we were careful to remind Emma that no-one would think she was really a pro-slavery radical just because she was assigned a role. A big help in understanding history is bringing events to life. Emma had an acting job to do and nothing more. She seemed to understand what we were saying, but lamented,"You know, this casting is like exactly the opposite of my personal beliefs and you know, acting is just not my thing. I really hope I can do it." We did a little role playing at the dinner table and spoke in poor southern accents in hopes of inspiring Emma to succeed in her social studies acting challenge.

The following day I picked Emma up from school and asked her how the town hall meeting went. She replied, "Mr. P said he really wasn't sure if I had it in me, but was happy I pulled it off! I made a couple of good points during the debate and I am just glad it is over." And that was pretty much the last comment she made on the subject.

After dropping her off at dance I continued on my way to drop a couple of boys at soccer practice. As I was driving down Chicago Avenue I was thinking how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that mock debate or at the very least talk to Mr. P about how he thought his class handled the assignment. Meanwhile, traffic eased to a stop and an oncoming vehicle was attempting to make a left turn. The car in front of me backed up a little to make some room for the car to make the turn and I checked my rear view mirror and did the same, but CRUNCH...
I totally hit the car behind me.
Now let me be clear, I have never hit anything with my car (except for the pole in my alley) and I have never even received a speeding ticket. I am a stranger to most all traffic altercations
I pulled over immediately and got out of the car saying, "I am so sorry, but I totally have insurance because I am a good girl." Apparently I regress when involved in a traffic incident.
The man said, "You are Emma Elsmo's mom."
As soon as I looked at him I realized I had gone all bumper to bumper with Emma's social studies teacher, Mr. P. Now I ask you, what are the freaking chances of that? I totally hit Emma's teacher in the exact moment I was thinking about his class. Weird...weird and well, embarrassing. He shook my hand and we had a good chuckle. I did a good deal of nervous laughing. We inspected his car and he declared it was damage free save for a small crack in his fender. He jokingly accused me of backing my car into his to get back at him for giving Emma a B on a paper. We even had a nice little chat about the mock debate and Emma's role as a pro-slavery radical on the side of the road. It was a bizarre "ask and you shall receive" kind of moment to say the least. We parted ways with a promise if his fender fell off he would let me know.

Emma was wildly embarrassed when I told her about my driving error, but she thought it was quite a humorous coincidence. I was left feeling grateful she gets to spend her days with such a quality individual. In a moment where Mr. P could have been quite upset with me, he treated me with kindness and grace. He is clearly a tremendous role model for his young students and I am grateful Emma has been under his influence this year. He is a superstar both in and out of the classroom and if I looked at this experience as a social studies assignment, Mr P would surely get an A+!

In lieu of a business dinner.

My cousin Annie is in Chicago for a conference and she opted to join us for dinner last night in lieu of attending an expensive and somewhat stuffy business dinner. Annie has a pretty nice palate and has become one of my favorite people to feed. I especially love our more spur of the moment get-togethers. From a culinary standpoint they make me feel like a chef because I love the challenge of throwing together a memorable meal on the fly! Last night Annie's favorite were my Cook and Sell Dumplings, but my favorite by far was this amazing little Udon Noodle Bowl with Clams, Coconut, and Lemon Grass.
We enjoyed our impromptu feast under the lights on the deck.
It was such a comfortable evening.
Thanks for choosing us Annie!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dinner with the Pfour

Last night the Pfour hosted a lovely dinner party! They whipped up some Cuban Sandwiches, Masa Cakes with Chicken and Avocado, and an incredible Tres Leches Cake. I brought a Mexican inspired egg roll and a few spicy cucumber cups. Conversation flowed easily among the adults, the boys played soccer and got very dirty, and Emma was able to spend some time with a couple of precious young ladies. What a perfect way to end a busy week-end!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Staff Dinner

Last night we hosted a dinner party for Leif's staff. We enjoyed Vegetarian Spring rolls, Tofu & Bok Choi Dumplings, Shrimp Toast, and Vietnamese Salad Rolls before digging into my Mix and Match Asian Take-Out Buffet. I think the party was a great success and both Leif and I hope his co-workers left feeling appreciated and refreshed! They truly are an amazing group of people.


I have often written about and posted photos of our crazy little dog, Lucy, but I think I've failed to mention she found her way into our family thanks to a woman named Rose Sprinkle. Lucy is a creature that requires a great deal of attention and after adopting her Rose knew with her busy work schedule she wasn't capable of caring for this wee dog properly and decided to find a new home for her little pet. As a result, Lucy joined our family and we promptly re-named her Lucy Sprinkle to honor Rose and her selfless decision. Last night Rose joined our dinner party and we were able to have a Sprinkle reunion!


One of Leif's co-workers blogs about scrap booking and over the past couple of days has alluded to the fact she has been working on a secret project for one of her readers. Nubia was on the guest list for dinner last night and I was giddy at the prospect she could be making something for me. It turns out she was and presented me with this incredible scrapbook/card.

Honestly, I have never received a more lovely card and the attention to detail in the project is first rate. The only thing missing is a signature...Nubia, you may be Leif's co-worker, but you are fast becoming my the next time you come for dinner you'll have to sign the stunning card you made me. I will treasure it for a long time to come!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Holy Rollers

Thanks to "Mojo Rison" and permission from the minister, she, "The Vegeterrorist" and I were able to sneak in a little extra skating practice this afternoon. There is nothing like a trinity of holy rollers at the church of skate to make for some fun and good laughs! I think the secret to my derby success lies in private practice sessions under God's watchful eye; I am improving by leaps and bounds and less fall downs! Amen to that.

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