Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hissss!! It's Halloween!

Originally uploaded by Ernesto and Kristen Burden.
Halloween came early to our fair city this year. Trick-or-Treating takes place the Sunday prior to the actually holiday, and they have it in the afternoon since it's a bit safer and a little less scary for the wee ones. I was initially disappointed by this. As a child we always went at night on Halloween, and we always had a blast. But this was a lot more fun for my kids. Even the scariest decorations didn't seem quite so ominous in the light of day, but the blustery wind with mini cyclones of red and gold leaves whirling all around put us in the mood for the task at hand.

We met more neighbors, got to see some elaborate, spooky displays, including these animatronic zombie-like torsos that when placed on the walkway, would drag themselves along by their bony arms. Very creepy. David was having none of that. He waited patiently while the home owner was kind enough to bring the candy out to him. Sofia just stepped around it and made her way up the porch, no more disturbed than as if she had spotted a large, hairy spider on the ground. She was all about the candy. A girl after my own gullet.

Hope all your Halloween adventures are as sweet as ours were!! Cheers!

Six Word Story Challenge

If you love to write but don't think you've got what it takes for a full-length novel, just try this instead. Best story gets lots of admiration and respect from his/her fellow bloggers.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What Is Sexy?

I was checking my email this morning and MSN alerted me to one of its ever important news bulletins, this one being that Scarlett Johansson has recently been named "Sexiest Woman Alive", not to be confused of course with the "Sexiest Dead Lady" competition.

Now, every time I hear about one of these contests I can't help but think, how do they know? How do they know that this is the sexiest person on the planet at this time? Was their photo circulated throughout the world and everyone 18 and over got to vote? Is it not possible there is a young woman living in Nambia that could blow the socks off Johansson, or any other "sexiest" prize winner, but because she lives in a remote village and has little wealth or fame, just doesn't make it into the top five? So you say, now Kristen, don't be silly. We can't really know who the sexiest person is if we can't know all the people in the world. We can only judge by the famous faces that have made their way onto film or the tv. Okay, so you're right, and that's my point exactly. Since the criteria for winning the contest is restricted to the uber-famous, then let's make a point of that. Let's call it the "World's sexiest man/woman that is famous in Western society who most likely has a personal trainer and makeup artist at their beck and call, thereby assisting with their overall sexiness" contest.

So then I got thinking, well what is 'sexy', anyway? It's roughly defined as "arousing or tending to arouse sexual desire or interest". Okay, so then what is sexy to you might not be sexy to me. I cannot argue that the people they generally pick for these "world's sexiest" competitions are very attractive, because they generally are. They usually possess those physical characteristics that will appeal to most who see them- a nice sense of symmetry of the face and body, good skin, "soulful" eyes, not much hair sticking out of the nose or ears- those sorts of attributes.

But sexiness is way more than that, and it's way more individual than that. It's more than a bunch of body parts put together in just the right way. Sometimes it can be an attitude, a self-assuredness that is appealing, a tilt of the head, a laugh, a hat worn just the right way, a crooked smile, nice fitting pajamas or really well-manicured toes. And what you find sexy one day, may not seem so much the next.

So keeping in mind my blog is rated PG, what is it that you find sexy?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

This "Flue" Will Be The Death Of Me

We got some unsettling news yesterday about the house. More specifically, about our chimney. And even more specifically, about the three flues contained within the chimney. One goes to the furnace, one goes to a fireplace in the living room, and one to a fireplace in the basement. During our home inspection we were told the chimney was clean and looked like it hadn't been used in a long time, and that we could go ahead and use the living room fireplace. The flue to the basement fireplace would need to be lined in order to use it, but it was something we could think about for the future.

Well, we had an actual chimney inspection yesterday and the super nice guys who came to do it were all happy and chatty when they arrived, and got progressively less so as they neared the end of their inspection. In fact, when they came into the living room to talk to me, they looked down right nervous. The main guy had that kind of forced smile that you're sometimes faced with when someone has to deliver some bad news and they don't know how to say it or how you're going to take it.

"Um...well, we're done and I'm really sorry,'s pretty bad."
"Okay. What is it?"
He breathes deeply, scratches his head. Then proceeds to tell me (with pictures he just took from his digital camera) how indeed awful the situation is. Not only should we not use our fireplace in the basement, we can no longer use the one in the living room and to do so would be essentially asking for a chimney fire and they have a sneaking suspicion there may have been one in the past because they cannot account for the current damage inside the flue. And don't get me started on the furnace flue. That one is by far the worst and poses the greatest health risk to us all. He kept saying, "I'm so sorry, I didn't expect to find all this in this house." And I know what he means. Everything is pretty much up to date, it's not that old, but I guess it's like a well-dressed, well made-up person who looks great on the outside, but they've been smoking three packs a day for thirty years and their lungs resemble the cracked, charred remains of a vampire that's just been staked.

The good news in all this is that we found out about something that was really a risk to us and our home and we can now have the problem fixed and sleep a little easier. Of course the cost to fix all this will no doubt give us both a raging bout of insomnia, so sleep is really out of the question.

The moral of this story? If you are buying a home with one or more fireplaces, get a home inspector who is also a licensed chimney inspector, or get a separate one to do the job. It could keep some of your hard earned dollars from going up in smoke. See, no worries...I've still managed to retain my ultra lame sense of humor.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Jumping For Joy

I felt the baby move for the first time this past week. No doubt its been moving right along, but now that I can feel it I have entered that cool part of pregnancy that pretty much makes all the nuisances worth it. The ooginess, the fatigue, the headaches and the hunger-induced panic attacks (I must have food- NOW!) don't seem nearly as troublesome now that I've gotten some feedback from the wee one. Turns out the little dickens likes peanut butter cups as much as I do. I had made a late evening trek out to the nearest pharmacy to get something with chocolate in it. And no, I do not send my husband when I am having food cravings, though I know he would be kind enough to fetch me snacks. It's my feeling that if I'm going to gorge myself on chocolate, the least I can do is get off my butt, get it myself and burn some calories before I consume a few hundred more.

So I purchase some peanut butter cups (and a couple other things so it doesn't appear as though I'm just going to the store for candy) and then I'm back home, happily enjoying them on the couch with a cold glass of milk and as I'm resting between bites, taking some deep breaths (yes, I had exerted myself just getting them into my mouth as quickly as possible) when all of a sudden I feel a noticeable jump from within. Now a mini-jump, mind you, no pole vault, but it was also not that gentle "fluttering" you experience with a first baby. No, this child was clearly expressing its joy and great approval at my choice of the delicate co-mingling of chocolate and peanut butter. Yes, dear child, such wondrous beauty does exist on this strange world of ours. I felt the movement again shortly thereafter and now whenever I have a snack (especially if it's something sweet) and sit still, I can feel the "mom's got me hopped up on sugar" dance in my belly.

For those of you who haven't experienced this, you can get yourself some nice, spicy Mexican food, sit for a while and imagine it's a baby causing all that commotion. It's not quite the same, but if you have a few margaritas, you might be able to convince yourself of it for a brief while.

Oh, and please- have one for me, too. On the rocks with salt. Almost as good as peanut butter cups.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

"See David Read"

David is beginning to read. Sort of. It's kind of hard to tell, actually. He has been memorizing story books since the time he could talk, and now he seems to be memorizing words, but then that's a big part of being able to read. I've been teaching him to sound out the letters when he gets to a word he doesn't know and I'm surprised at how well he's doing.

Actually I am and I'm not. He's working with a wordy gene pool. Not by my part, mind you. If he grows up able to do remarkably accurate foreign accents, has a flair for dancing the Can-Can or to brutally demolish any opponent at badmiton, then we'll know he takes after me. But I'm guessing he got more than his dark, handsome good looks from Daddy, like all the "techno-geek", music and love of words genes. So when he is not working on his preschool "laptop" or rocking out to some song, he has got his nose in a book.

My mom just sent out this great first reader for him (Thanks, Mom!) and you might be familiar with some of the characters from it. There's this kid Dick, his sister Jane and of course their little dog "Spot". You wouldn't believe some of the wacky things these kids get into. These really are great first readers, but they sure do date themselves. David didn't seem to notice too much, but I found Mother dressed much too nicely to be doing housework. Maybe I would enjoy vacuuming more if I wore a dress and heels. Probably not.

But it was pretty cool to overhear David reading to Sofia from the book. She wasn't too riveted by the story line, but I think she enjoyed snuggling up to her big brother on the couch and listening to him tell her a story. Maybe, if I'm lucky, over the years I'll get to witness several more of those moments when they're together, sharing a good book.

So long as they don't get talking and decide that we should name the baby "Spot". Because then they won't be allowed to read together anymore.

Monday, October 16, 2006

"Pinky" The Thug Finally Brought To Justice

Frog Felony
Originally uploaded by Ernesto and Kristen Burden.
The kids and I were playing a game of "good thief", "bad thief" recently, and though I was a little unclear of the motivation behind my character, (I was the good thief, apparently) I decided it meant I had been rehabilitated and released back into society to help the police (David and Sofia) fight the "bad" thieves.

Here was one such criminal we were able to put behind bars. He struggled a bit when we took him in, but I think he's grown quite accustomed to his new purple and pink cell, complete with "Dora" bedspread and assorted stuffed animals as his mates. It's possible he may never want to leave.

Friday, October 13, 2006


I've been meaning to post about this for a while, but I was too lazy to scan the photo myself and now that it's online I don't have to. My husband Ernesto and I were asked by his associates at New Hampshire Magazine to do them a little favor a couple months back by posing for the cover of their annual "Destinations" magazine, which brings together all of New Hampshire's best tourist attractions, including places to shop, dine and so forth. Of course we were more than happy to do it and it meant someone would watch the kids for a little while as we pretended to be wealthy D.I.N.K.S, shopping in and around downtown Concord. And you know we were once theatre majors when you see Ernesto feigning enthusiasm while shopping with me, and carrying my packages. And there are no little kids attached to my legs. Clearly this is a fantasy world.

Anyway, it was fun while it lasted. Look for my next cover on "Harried Mother Magazine", due out in April of 2007. I'll be the comatose looking one with spit up all over my shirt.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Kids Say The Darndest Things (That Make You All Weepy)

Tonight as I'm trying to get the kids settled in for bed, they're scurrying around the bedroom, as I'm picking up odds and ends from the floor so no one trips over anything on their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I've asked both kids to pick a bedtime story. No one is listening. It's been a long day. I'm tired. I've got nothing left in me. I'm thinking about heading into to bed myself, shortly after I get them down.

I sigh heavily, audibly.

David, who always knows what I'm thinking says, "Mommy, is it tough taking care of two kids?"

I nod and smile, weakly. "Yes, David it is. Some days it feels like a lot of work."

He furrows his brow, pokes at his upper lip.

"And it's going to be even harder when you have three to take care of. Right?"

I'm sighing a little inside now, but still smiling. The baby suddenly feels heavy within. "Yes, I'm sure it will be."

He smiles brightly back at me, big brown eyes gleaming. "But then you'll have even more love."

I give him a tight squeeze. My eyes are gleaming now, too. "That's right, honey."

Love is all you need, baby. Love is all you need.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Alter Egos?

Yeah, Right. Depending on which photo you use of yourself, you will get drastically different results. This is me on a good day. When I used a photo of myself after a hike up a nearby mountain, I got Bertrand Russell and Steve McQueen as my closest matches. When I did photos of my kids they both got Shirley Temple. Ernesto's were too hilarious and I will not share them without his consent. Anyway, thanks to Melissa who started me out on this colossal, yet entertaining waste of my time. Hey, it's better than vegging out in front of the TV. I guess I'll go do that now.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dirt Mobile

My car is always dirty. Sometimes inside, sometimes out. Often both. When I park it under the maple tree, the winged seeds land on my hood and windshield, leaving little, hard to remove stencils of themselves. Then when I park it on the other side of the driveway, the birds annoint it. And the inside? Well, when it comes to cleaning- the house or anything else- I have to pick my battles. I ask myself, who is likely to see this? How long will it take me to clean this? Will it become a health hazard if I don't clean it?

So when it comes to the car, I don't really sweat it. Not many people outside my immediate family ever see the interior, so I let a lot of things slide. You can generally find Cheerios in about every crevice, old sippy cups, books, an assortment of David's "geek" stuff, loose change and who knows what else. It's kind of like the fridge- the deeper I dig, the scarier it gets.

But the outside is pretty filthy and has been for a while, and whenever I drop a large chunk of change on the car, (new radiator...ugh) I feel compelled to give the old girl a good scrubbing. And it looks so nice when it's clean. I think. I can't really remember.

I keep trying to get the kids to go through the carwash with me, but thanks to an episode of "Calliou" they saw recently, they don't want to go to one. I don't know why we keeping watching that show. Every time we pass one on the street I point it out to the kids and say, "Hey! You guys want to go to the carwash?" and two seconds later they both shriek, "NOOOO!!!" and then I tell them how cool it will be and don't they remember the last time we went and how they thought it was really neat with all the soap and water and what not..."NOOOO!!!" they repeat. I believe they are convinced they will get wet during the process, even though I have assured them this will not happen. So today we'll be washing it at home, instead. I guess it's more cost effective this way and they can feel good about helping take care of the car.

And they will learn the hard truth that you are far more likely to get soaked washing a car yourself than you are taking it through the wash-o-matic.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Great Pumpkin

Originally uploaded by Ernesto and Kristen Burden.
Ernesto took the kids over to Milford for a pumpkin/fall festival of sorts this weekend while I took a much needed break. Of course grocery shopping while on my "break" was not what Ernesto had meant when he said he thought I should relax, but grocery shopping without kids is still quite restful. And I was hungry.

The kids had a ball and got to paint pumpkins and got candy from a "floating broom" which I guess you had to see to believe. They also got to check out a firetruck up close and came home with some of those little plastic fire hats. Then they got to cozy up to this big, bloated pumpkin. I think it was a good way to prepare them for what their mom will resemble a few months from now.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

You Know It's Time To Go Grocery Shopping When...'ve been using confectioner's sugar in your coffee for three mornings in a row, as you cannot scrape even a teaspoon of granulated from your sugar canister. Then you get up very early because your very hungry children need breakfast and there's no cereal or oatmeal or yogurt to be had so you make them pancakes before even taking a first sip of that cup of coffee.

And I've even been using my husband's shampoo because I'm all out of my own brand.

Clearly, these are desperate times.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Why Is This Woman So Big?

So I'm about 14 weeks along. When I was pregnant with David I didn't begin showing until early in my fifth month. With Sofia, I don't remember, but it was probably a little sooner than that. And here I am barely in my second trimester and I could easily pass for a woman in her sixth month. Now, while some photos make you look bigger than you really are, this one actually somehow managed to make me look not quite as rotund as I actually am. As if I magically lost a few inches when I rotated the photo.

So what is up? As far as I know, I am only carrying one child. I know I am not "further along" than I think. Am I having an alien baby? You know, the kind that grows really fast and is born within a few months with green scales and a tail? What kind of car seat would that child require? Or is this baby just going to weigh in at 13+ lbs. at birth?

Well, truth be told I had a very large chimichanga at dinner this evening with extra guacamole, and topped it off with a five-layer chocolate and peanut butter dessert which made me want to pass out just thinking about eating it.

Yes... that might have something to do with it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Adventures With Imaginary Jackie

David has an imaginary friend named 'Jackie'. Jackie is a girl and she's an "animal rescuer". I suspect Jackie came from the TV show "Zoboomafoo", who is a real person (not a cartoon character) and is featured on the show sometimes. She writes letters to the Kratt brothers about animals she's come across on her travels. David thinks she's cool.

I'm new to the whole "imaginary friend" thing, and as I understand it, it's the smart kids who sometimes make up these invisible pals, not the average-at-best types like myself. And I'm not even certain this is a bona fide imaginary friend as she is really someone he has seen on TV, slightly modified to fit his ideal playmate. She is his age exactly, and apparently she lives in our house and sleeps in a sleeping bag next to his bed. Her favorite healthy food is corn an her favorite "treat" food is chocolate chip cookies. And David wants you all to know (he's standing behind me and knows I'm writing about her) that "We often rescue animals together."

So now we have to buy a minivan, not for the expected baby, but for Jackie, who needs to sit next to him while we're driving somewhere. I'm not allowed to put any toys or books on the seat where she is sitting. She doesn't like that.

I hope this isn't going to turn into one of these horror-movie scenarios in which we discover Jackie isn't really anyone's friend.

"Mommy, Jackie doesn't want you to brush my teeth anymore. She says cavities are a lie you made up."

"Now David, you know you have to brush your teeth to keep them healthy. Jackie isn't real and doesn't have teeth so she doesn't know about cavities."

"Oh, you've made Jackie angry, now, Mommy. She says you'd better be nice to her or ELSE."

"Oh? And what is Jackie going to do to me? Rescue me...from myself?"

(pause as David listens over his shoulder) Jackie doesn't appreciate your jokes, Mommy. Jackie says you better watch your back.

Well, I'm sure the little sweetie is harmless and I don't really expect any problems with this. I am curious to see where this goes and how far David will take the whole game. He is well aware he is "pretending" and has admitted that she is just imaginary. I'm sure there's no cause for alarm.

Oh, I've got to go. David just informed me that Jackie wants her lunch now.