Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rainbow Toes

I celebrated the big kids starting school by doing a ridiculously elaborate toe nail paint job on myself!

How Did It Know???

I have entered the 21st century. I got an iPhone.

Granted, I bought a used 3GS, so it's certainly not cutting edge, but for me it's pretty exciting.

As I've been learning the ropes, I've been tickled by all the times the iPhone has done exactly what I wanted it to without me having to tell it.  So I went to set up the weather app.  I was thinking it'd be cool to enter in some of the other locations I care about so I could see what the weather was like there. I went to check the list of other locations and the first one was Cupertino, California.

"How did it know I grew up in Cupertino???" I gasped.  I was slightly creeped out.

And then I realized.  Oh right.  Apple headquarters is in Cupertino.  It's not that my iPhone knows I'm from Cupertino.  My iPhone and I just have the same hometown!  You'd think that having grown up with mostly children of Apple employees, I would have immediately realized that.  But I guess I'm still a little iPhone naive ;)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


We are cruel, cruel parents.

You see, we give the kids summer reading assignments AND make them answer questions about the books.  Hard questions that make them consider, like, people's feelings and stuff.

This summer Claire is reading a collection of four different books about young people living on their own. Hopefully Claire's take away will be to appreciate the cooperative nature of life in a family/community/our world rather than learning how to run away from human interaction...

Anyway, Claire was particularly resistant the day she answered some questions for the book "Island of the Blue Dolphins." Check out her responses to these questions:

What good luck contributed to the main characters survival?

Karana was lucky that there were whale ribs to build her fence even though she still could have built a very strong fence out of many more things. For example, sticks, tree trunks, branches, boards from canoes too big for her to use; would you like me to tell you the fifteen million other things I can think of???!!! She was also “lucky” (according to you, Dad) that she had walrus tusks to build her spear even though she still could have built a very strong spear out of many more things. For example, sticks, tree trunks, branches, boards from canoes too big for her to use; would you like me to tell you the fifteen million other things I can think of???!!!

What human realities does the author explore (love, fear, trust, etc.)? Give examples of how they portray them.

Trust is explored because Karana trusted Rontu and Rontu-Aru that they wouldn’t run away or attack her. Loneliness is explored because Karana has no one to talk to through the entire story except a dog and two birds. Grief is explored because she is sad that her brother dies. 
P.S. In my life story, boredom and annoyance are explored because I do not like answering these questions!!! :(

Later, Claire had second thoughts about her first response and re-wrote it:

What good luck contributed to the main characters survival?

Karana was lucky that there were whale ribs to build her fence because whale ribs are much stronger than most of the other resources. You also wouldn’t find whale ribs very often even if you’re on an island like that. She was also lucky that she had walrus tusks to build her spear. She could have built a fairly strong spear out of many other things, but walrus tusks are by far the strongest. She was also lucky because the walruses (walri, whatever you want to call them) didn’t see her when the bulls were fighting or that they weren’t there when she was getting the tusks. If they had seen her she would have gotten really hurt. 

I didn't tell her to re-write it, she just felt guilty I think.  I was kind of proud of her for improving it, but I had also thought her first response was hilarious.  I was really glad I had copied down her smart-alec first response before she changed it!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Excuse Me, I Need to Go Drop Off Some U.N. Peacekeepers

We've been redoing some things in our master bathroom and we suspected our toilet of leaking. Once we took a good look at it, we realized it was probably fine. But the best it could be was fine, not great. Even in perfect working order the toilet would never be great. The distrust had planted a seed.  It got us thinking about how we didn't really like our original toilet. We had already pulled it out.  Maybe we should go ahead and replace it?

When we first started thinking we might need a new toilet, I mentioned it to my sister. She immediately told me that she had bought and loved the one my dad had recommended. The American Standard Champion. The one that flushes a bucketful of golf balls:

Now when people in my family recommend a toilet, I sit up and take notice. I come from a line of people who are infamous for clogging toilets.

You know what? We're already talking about clogging toilets. If you're still reading this, then I'm going to assume you're not too squeamish. And we all know I have no shame, so I'm going to tell you a little story to demonstrate why a toilet that doesn't clog is important to me.

Look, my body doesn't like "doing business" away from home. Without any conscious effort by me, it tries to wait until I get home. So any time I travel, it takes a couple days before my bowels accept defeat.

Once upon a time, I was newly engaged to M and flew to visit his family for a long weekend. The first full day I was there, M and I spent the whole day walking around doing touristy things in the summer heat. And I didn't really drink enough. The next day M had to go into work.  I was at his parents' house alone with my future mother-in-law. And my body decided that it was finally ready to "let go." And I could tell I had definitely gotten dehydrated the day before.

There is nothing that quite rivals asking your future mother-in-law that you barely know yet if she has a toilet plunger you can use because you've plugged their toilet. Their ONLY toilet.

So yah, some toilets and I just don't get along very well. Our old one had left something to be desired. I really wanted one I could count on.

Well, we had our eye on that Champion, but we still weren't sure.  Then a couple days later, I mentioned in passing to someone else that we were thinking about replacing our toilet, and they immediately told me they liked the one that "flushes the golf balls."

It was a sign. I mean, it's not often that people go out of their way to recommend ANY product, but when I get the same product recommended two separate times? And when that product is a toilet? It must be good.

So we took the plunge (pun intended) and bought the Champion. And we love it! We have affectionately dubbed it the U.N.

Why you ask? When M and I talk about toilets we often reference Dave Barry and the importance of a toilet's ability to handle "acts of Congress."  Well, we quickly decided that this toilet could not only handle "acts of Congress," it can handle "U.N. resolutions."

The next step was to get rid of our old toilet. We posted it for free on Craigslist and a couple of days later, I got this response:

Hi, I would like to pick this up for an underwater park for Scuba divers on Lake Travis. (No, I am NOT making this up). My friend owns Windy Point Park and sets up underwater "finds" for scuba divers. The toilet he installed underwater is high and dry, and some kids destroyed it with rocks. The divers take underwater pictures sitting on the throne in their wetsuits.

I don't know if I've ever been happier to give something away for free. This entertaining fate for our old toilet was the icing on the cake. Everything turned out so well and now I take every opportunity to announce to M that I need to "send a delegation to the U.N."