Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Amazing Milwaukee Race!

Was, in fact, pretty amazing.  Most amazing was that out of 70 teams we came in 5th.  5th!  If we hadn't missed one of the clues we might have had a shot at 2nd place, which, being our team name, was in theory what we were going for.

(Me and Linda in our "Korinthian Violins & The Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra Team Up For Second Place!" T-shirts waiting at the starting point.)

But first things first:  You want to know what I packed, oh yes you do.  Because I like to be prepared but I am also a geek.  How much of a geek am I?  Well, the morning of the race I decided it would be fun to bring my Dr Who sonic screwdriver, but the batteries weren't working.  So I had to pack my SPARE Dr Who sonic screwdriver.  That's how geeky I am.
Because that could come in handy.  (Actually, it doubles as a pen, so maybe it could have.)  I also brought a Rubik's cube.  That only ever becomes useful if I need to keep other people's children distracted in public places for some reason, so I don't know why I always feel compelled to bring along a cube except that it makes me happy.  And happy is good, so why not.

The funny thing about doing the race with Linda is that I love her company and we get along well, but part of that is we think alike in many ways.  Too many ways to be helpful to each other in a team event where maybe a variety of skills might prove important.  We have too many of the same instincts.  For instance, we were both inspired to bring a compass and a fancy whistle.  And Linda approved of my bringing scissors, the sonic screwdriver, the cube, and asked if maybe we should have some twine which had also occurred to me, so I grabbed a thing of dental floss.  We used none of these things.  All we really needed were my bus tickets, some cash, her smart phone, a pencil and paper, and the snacks and water were nice but it's not like we were in the woods and couldn't have picked up something.  (In fact, one of our clues sent us into a grocery store and we got ourselves bananas.)  What we needed was someone with a different approach to substitution cyphers, but it was fun, we were never bored, and we had a great day.

Now let me tell you about the race: (And this is long, so seems like a good idea to add a jump here.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gearing Up

Tomorrow I'm running in Milwaukee's version of the Amazing Race--a scavenger hunt challenge like the one on TV but just around Milwaukee.  I am not really...what's the word?  Ready.

I was feeling fine until I got the final update from organizers giving us the address of the starting line.  There is an address, a map, and a photo of the building, and I still have no idea where it is.  Can you imagine when they are trying to obscure a location from me how I will fare?  Yeah.

My original thought when entering this race was that it would be fun to do with my husband.  We have complementary skill sets, so I always figured we'd be good at that kind of thing.  He never gets lost, understands bus routes, he's clever, and is familiar with parts of the city that I am not.  I am good at talking to strangers, like puzzles, and anyplace that might hire a string quartet for a wedding I've been inside of.  We have such a tag team approach to parenting that we don't get to do things together outside of the house as often as I'd like, so when I heard a local radio story several weeks back about the race I thought it would be like an all day date.  We checked our schedules, I got my assistant to cover for me at the store, and hired a babysitter.  We had no illusions about winning, it was just going to be a nice day out together, seeing our city and having fun.

But then the Army called.  The Army takes Ian away on my birthday.  The Army takes Ian away on our anniversary.  Apparently the Army has decided to come after just plain old fun days out now, because Ian is at Ft McCoy all weekend.

So!  I put out a call for alternates and got responses that ranged from "hell no" to "I'll be in Germany" to "I suppose if you absolutely can't find anyone...." and eventually my friend Linda said, "Why not?"

Linda is great.  She's the artistic director of the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra, and one of the funniest most interesting people I know.  We will have a great time.  We will lose!  But we will have a great time.  Her smart phone will be more of an asset to our team than I will, but that's okay.  I'll bring treats or something.

I actually had T-shirts made for us with both the violin store and mandolin orchestra logos on them, plus our names embroidered on the backs.  They look nice.  The name of our team is "Second Place" because that way no matter how we do we will be Second Place.  (And the worse we do the funnier that gets, so we're all set.) 

My biggest concern at the moment is my foot.  I seem to have plantar fasciitis and it's creating a lot of pain in my left heel.  I've been limping around a lot for months and it finally hit me a week ago that I was signed up for a RACE where I might need my FEET so I should maybe do something about it.  I've had this same foot pain before and it's one of those things where you fix it and then slowly revert to old habits and it returns.

My bad habit?  I'm attracted to crappy shoes.  I like those simple flat Keds-type sneakers with no arch support.  And they damage my feet, but I keep forgetting about that part.  So I picked up some decent running shoes and they are helping, but I'm tempted to go out and get a spare pair that are maybe a little tighter, except I know that's stupid to get new shoes and wear them in a race without breaking them in.  Hm.  (And you know why I eventually revert back to my bad habit?  Because running shoes are so impossibly ugly anymore I can't take it.  They look like strange cartoon space ships and make me feel stupid.)

The plan today is to charge my phone, gather things like bus tickets (yes we can use the bus) and a water bottle and whatever else might be useful into my backpack, and hope it doesn't rain too much tomorrow.  The weather is supposed to be nasty and cold, which means we will have on coats that cover up our cool new T-shirts, but we'll still have our Korinthian Violins caps, so that's something.

It will be fun!  Just hanging out with Linda will be fun even if we never find anything.  Wish us luck!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Value of Not Getting Mad

It feels good to get mad.  I will admit that freely.  The energy that accompanies anger is exciting and there is nothing like a good vent, a well timed swear word, or the feeling of chucking something across a room.  I think many of us live in such orderly, civilized little worlds that there isn't enough opportunity to let loose and expend a lot of the energy we have pent up, and when the opportunity strikes and we feel justified by unfairness or frustration to lash out, it's hard to resist.

I confess that on more than one occasion when my kids' rooms have become such horrible, ankle-deep messes and it takes me hours to dig through it and sort it out, that I have yelled and screamed and thrown things against a wall.  And then I feel terrible and stupid and not at all like the grown up I am supposed to be.  It's just hard to not be listened to over and over and over, and sometimes it's too much.  The repetition of pointless feeling tasks when there is so much I'd rather do tries my patience like nothing else and at certain moments I lose it.  I tell my kids (by which I really just mean Aden, who is now 10 and is at least improving in this area) that if they just do what I ask when I ask I would not be driven to yell.

I've never lost it to the point where I've directed any physical anger on anyone--just at some unfortunate legos or pieces of a train set--but the yelling still isn't good.  And except in rare circumstances it doesn't really help.  (For those times it does?  I've stopped feeling guilty about those.)

During Ian's deployments, when I had to do everything alone and the lack of sleep combined with stress was taking a dangerous toll, I flew off the handle more frequently.  Small infractions felt intolerable.  Now that Ian's home and I'm able to not only share the chores but retreat to my store regularly, I feel much more sane.  A break, some help, a little distance from the constant neediness, makes it possible for me to pause and think instead of simply reacting too quickly.  I'm a better parent when I have the space to consider what I'm doing instead of getting mad.  That's an obvious statement, which I suppose is why I feel so guilty when I yell.  Because I know better.  But knowing and being able to do are sometimes very different things.

So I was pleased at the cottage recently to have a rare parenting moment where I got to see the value of not getting mad.  It made enough of an impression on me that I am going to try to keep the experience toward the front of my mind for the next time things get to be too much and I'm tempted to lose my cool.

Aden is a very sweet and sensitive person.  She hates to disappoint me.  Her biggest flaw is her penchant for being distracted (meaning I can send her into the next room for something and she ends up playing with the dog or watching TV and I have to call for her to get back on task).  She doesn't always tell the truth and she hides evidence of small transgressions, but she's better than I was at her age so I don't worry about it.  Overall she's incredibly responsible, a good big sister, and a sweetheart.

But when you put people with their peers they can change.  I know I still get to be one version of myself with my high school friends that isn't exactly who I am normally.  There is a freedom that comes with that context.  So I understand that when I see it in my kids.  It would be odd if they interacted with their friends the same way they did with me.  When I see Aden take on a different laugh or a new cadence to her voice to entertain someone she's hanging out with for the afternoon, it's okay.  But I always pay attention because sometimes we can be inspired to change too far.

Aden has a friend who lives about 90 minutes from our cottage.  They don't get to see each other often, but when they get together they have a great time.  On the last day of our spring break we invited Aden's friend to come up for a sleepover.  For the most part it was fine.  But something about Aden's friend being a little older and bit more cavalier I think caused her to make questionable choices.  Aden was caught in a state of wanting to impress and please her friend, and I didn't like what she was up to.

The details aren't important.  Suffice it to say Aden took something I told her not to, and when she feared being caught, hid it.  I knew she'd done it.  I was angry, but the cottage just isn't a place that fosters anger and I dialed it down to annoyance.  I decided it wasn't worth discussing while we had a guest, and I let her think I didn't know.  The kids played while I made dinner, and I left them to eat while I took a break to read in my bedroom.  Then Aden knocked on my door.

She came and sat next to me on the bed, had trouble looking me in the eye, and said she wanted to tell me something even though she was afraid I might get mad.  I promised her I would not get mad.  I told her I might be unhappy about whatever she had to say, but I would not get mad.  I gave her time to get the words out.  She started and stopped a few times.  Her eyes filled with tears.

Eventually Aden confessed to what she'd done.  She was ashamed.  She wasn't sure why she'd done it, and when I suggested that maybe it just felt exciting to be in cahoots with a friend she agreed that sounded reasonable.  And I didn't get mad.

In fact, I was able to tell Aden, truthfully, that her being brave enough to come to me and confess made me very proud.  All of us screw up.  All of us do things we regret.  And it's easier to mask those moments with misdirected anger or other complications than it is to be vulnerable and come clean.  It's hard to expose ourselves as less than perfect to the people we care about most.  It's hard to really say you're sorry.  And Aden was sorry.

I hugged her hard.  I told her calmly what she already knew about why what she did was wrong, and then I focused again on the bravery it took to tell me about it.  I made her promise to remember in the future when she worries about telling me something that I did not get mad.  All she ever has to do is to remind me up front to not get mad and she shouldn't be afraid to tell me anything.

I told Aden that one of my biggest concerns as a parent is my children not being able to tell me something important.  They should be able to tell me anything.  They can only do that if they feel safe.  Getting mad, yelling, the harm in those things is they create fear.  I want my children's respect, but I never want their fear.  I want to be the safest spot in the world for them.  And in that moment at the cottage I was that for Aden, and I felt like the kind of mom I aspire to be.

I will probably yell again.  I won't pretend I'm better than that because I'm human and life is rough sometimes.  But it means a lot to me that Aden and I had a moment where we got to work through a situation as our best selves.  It was a good lesson for both of us.  Which is what the best parenting moments are really about.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Coda (Babble)

I have loved this blog.  I really have.  I’m sad to see it go.

This blog has given me a chance to approach my writing in a more consistent manner.  It’s given me an opportunity to share my thoughts on matters that interest me.  This blog has been a sounding board, a record of my life’s recent events, and a place to work out my feelings during some difficult times.

This blog has been my own little corner of the internet that felt like home.

But blogging here is also a business, and I don’t have the kind of numbers that make me a viable product.  The readership I have gained over the past few years, however, has been loyal to a fault.  Is it too strong to say I love you?  In a way that’s ludicrous, I know, but it’s hard to express how much it means to a writer to be read.  You, as the reader, are the last step in the process that turns the thoughts in my head and my choice of words into something finished, something real.  You have made my time here worthwhile.

I will continue to write and continue to search for an agent, and I will find another venue in which to blog.  I’ll only be a Google search away, so I hope you come find me.

Thank you for reading.  It’s meant more than you know.

UPDATE:  Check out my new blog!

The Start of Cottage Season

I still can't quite believe we own my grandmother's cottage.  When she passed away my uncles and mother prepared to sell it, but then my husband (always my hero) said he thought we could find a way to afford it.  And now it's ours.  I love it more than I can say.

On the glass half empty side of things, it's hard maintaining a second house from a distance.  We arrived to discover the downstairs toilet cracked and leaking, but luckily my husband (did I mention he's my hero?) somehow knows how to fix such things.  He's had to replace the sump pump.  We need to replace (or maybe clean?) the couch because it makes Ian sneeze.  There are taxes and expenses that at times seem a high price for the amount of vacation we may actually be able to spend there, and it's quite a drive from Milwaukee that includes the frustration of Chicago traffic.

But the half of the glass that's full is so rich and wonderful that it's the only half that really matters.  The cottage was my grandmother's other home, where she spent every June and sometimes a week in July or a Labor Day weekend every year since she and my grandfather built the place until she became too weak to travel anymore.  Her needlepoint work is on the wall, the table grandpa built where she fed me many pancakes is there, her dishes are in the cupboards, her tea kettle on the stove, and one of her jackets still hangs in the closet.  The greatest treasure we found when we first began assessing the contents of the cottage after we signed the mortgage papers was a box of recipes on index cards all written in her own distinctive hand.  She is everywhere at the cottage from the wood trim she helped stain to the plants out front.  I feel like I could come back from a walk in the woods and see her reading in her chair.  It's worth whatever price we're paying for that alone.

And yet there is so much more.  My children love it at the cottage, and I love who they are when they are there.  Mona in particular is so inspired and excited by nature that she revels at the chance to spend time in the country.  Quinn, who I sometimes think of as delicate back home, toughens up and runs barefoot all the way down to the lake.  My kids spent our vacation building sand structures even though it was too cold still to go in the water.  They listened to me read the novel Hatchet.  Aden crocheted, we made tie dye shirts, they collected rocks, they planted a sapling that they named 'Pinwheel' (after the bakery near Detroit that gave it to them), played Battleship, stacked pennies just to see how high they could go, serenaded deer on their violins, and made cookie dough unassisted and without a mixer.  We let them bring their laptop but they never even took it out of the bag.

We had the added fun of getting to introduce my niece to the cottage.  My brother hadn't been there since before she was born, and it was lovely to have time with both of them there.  It's not like spending time almost anywhere else because there is such a blend of fond memories and a lack of urgency that it's peaceful in a way family time other places can't always be.  The internet connection is just spotty enough to keep us from attempting to be productive online, and there are relatively few chores because the space is small.  The big decisions tend to be about what to make for meals.  I'm not normally good at doing nothing, so to have the chance to truly relax and do simple things like read for as long as I like, is not only pleasant, but fun to share.  My brother and I had time to talk, and sit, and skip rocks on the lake.  I wish moments like that weren't so rare, because they are among the few that matter to me.

The only odd part about our recent trip was that Ian had Army obligations in the second half of the week that made for some weird logistics.  On Easter he and Mona and the dog went straight to the cottage to open it up and stock it with food, etc.  Quinn and Aden and I headed to Detroit to visit my parents and pick up my brother and niece from the airport so we could drive them to the cottage.  Ian and I only overlapped for two nights there before he had to head back to Wisconsin, and I had to close down the cottage alone which I'd never done before (so I'm hoping I didn't screw it up and we return this summer to a family of raccoons playing next to another broken toilet or something special along those lines).

But you know you are a lucky person when your biggest complaints are about not having more time with what you already have instead of wishing for something else.  My vacation could only have been improved by more nights with Ian, more talks with Arno, more chances to read stories to Ellora, more games with my kids, and more walks with the dog in the woods where we got to take him off the leash and see him blast away like a furry bullet along the horse trails happy as can be.

There were some less than ideal moments on our trip, but they just don't have the weight they do at home.  There is space to turn problems into teaching moments instead of just reacting too quickly.  But that's for the next post.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from our trip:

                          This is my niece with our dog, Chipper:

All the children at some point or another with binoculars:

 Mona with a cattail gone to seed like some kind of whole grain cotton candy treat:

All the kids by the swamp (where we went looking for turtles) making a cattail seed blizzard:

Kids on the beach, where hours were spent digging deep holes:

We experimented with a tie dye kit that came with a tube to put the shirts into while applying the different colors in order to keep the process from getting messy.  I still ended up with hands stained as if had been berry picking all day, but the kids did stay clean.

Aden with her beloved Pinwheel the sapling.  I'm still not sure why a bakery was giving out saplings, but Aden has quite the green thumb and could not turn it down.  (Her ability to keep plants alive is something that skipped a generation because she gets that from her grandmother and not from me.)

Quinn, Aden, Mona, my brother Arno with Pinwheel freshly planted between his feet, and my mom:

It was good to be there and it's good to be home.  I suppose what that really means is it's just good to be.

Monday, April 16, 2012

D.C. al (Babble)

We just returned from a lovely week in Michigan.  The past several years we’ve spent spring break in New York, but that wasn’t a viable option this time around and we ended up instead in Detroit for a few days with my parents, and then at the cottage with my brother and his daughter.  Being in my childhood home and in the last place I still feel my grandmother’s touch has put me in a mood for reflection.

I also don’t like loose ends, so now is the moment to begin to wrap things up.
When I began blogging here at Babble in 2009 my baby boy was only two.  My violin store was a little younger than that.  My girls were preparing to go into full day kindergarten and second grade.  Ian was preparing for his second deployment to Iraq, and I was struggling with the dread and fear that accompanies what I knew my role in that would be.

It’s interesting to stand here in 2012 and look back on who we were, and who we are now.  I don’t have enough words to express how glad I am that my husband is home, safe and sound, working on his own laptop as I type and as we listen to our children laughing at their own invented games in the other room.

Today my son is five and reading.  Mona is a second grade artistic marvel.  Aden is the tallest girl in fourth grade and has been to sleep away camp and can run errands to Target alone.  Ian teaches ROTC cadets at a nearby university.  My violin store now has two part-time employees and we’re expanding to include a teaching studio.  For our own little family life is looking good from this new vantage point with the trials of the past few years behind us and the future ahead looking bright.

My father is doing well.  There have been such frightening ups and downs with his health the past few years, in and out of hospitals, so much stress upon my mom.  But as of his most recent doctor’s visit there is no sign of cancer.  He gets around with a cane and lives a life at home, retired from his eponymous art gallery, and seems happy.  I think about how many times I worried that I would never have a real conversation with my dad again and am grateful for his level of recovery.

I miss my grandmother.  She had recently moved to a higher level of care in her nursing home in 2009 and I still can’t believe she’s gone.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her, or wish I could tell her about events in my life both monumental and trivial.  She loved me in a way that is gone from my world and that truth is still hard to accept some days.  She would have been pleased that we kept her cottage in the family and that her great-grandchildren are building new memories there, laughing, playing the same games I used to, and happily chasing our dog through the woods.

As I reflect back on these past few years and beyond I think my story is a nice one.  There is no other one I would have rather lived, and I look forward to what’s ahead.  But my story as it’s told here is drawing to a close, so if there are loose ends I haven’t covered or questions anyone has left to ask, now is the time.  (But don’t ask me what kind of wood violins are made of, because frankly that one makes me tired.)

Sunday, April 15, 2012


To my shiny new blog!

I'm proud of the writing I did for the past three years at Babble, and there is a link available to Holding Down the Fort above my blog roll in case anyone wants to check it out.  Leaving Babble was not my choice (and if anyone wants details they can email me directly since I don't feel like devoting any time to that here), but I'm excited about this new space.  It's mine in a way that my other blog never was, to change and do with as I will.  I feel like I have a new toy!

It will take a little time to learn how this toy works however, but soon I will have pictures up of our recent trip to the cottage, progress on my latest violins, and a look at what my kids are up to.

Thanks for reading.  It's nice to have you here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Where You Sit (Babble)

My husband and I actually got out the other night.  Together.  Without kids.  And we weren’t running errands or working at the store or being told to go by the US Army.
We were given a pair of free tickets to a Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concert, were able to find a spur of the moment babysitter, and spend a couple of hours together dressed in nice clothes listening to music.  It was great.

I’m not used to sitting in the audience, though.  It’s a rare treat.  The theater where my orchestra (Festival City Symphony) performs is called the Pabst, and I usually see it from the stage and it looks like this:
It’s a lovely old theater, but I think I’ve only seen it from the audience side of the stage two or three times in all the years I’ve lived here.

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra performs in a different, much larger space downtown, and Friday night we were treated to a Haydn symphony, a Dvoraak symphony, and the Glazunov Violin Concerto in A Minor performed by Frank Almond.  (For such a shockingly good soloist, Frank is down to earth and quite funny, and when he was in my violin store last he offered to let me look at his Stradivari.  He somehow made the Glazunov look easy which sort of blew my mind.)  I really enjoyed getting to wear a new dress and sitting next to Ian in the audience instead of waving to him discreetly from the stage.  As I said, it was a nice evening.

But beyond the lovely music and the company, I was mostly struck by the way the orchestra was seated.  I don’t get out enough to know when the MSO changed the way they are arranged on stage, so maybe they’ve used this setup for years and I am just hopelessly behind the times, but I was intrigued.

A traditional symphony orchestra is arranged around the conductor in a horseshoe, or half circle shape.  From the audience’s perspective, the first violins are on the left, then as you continue around the horseshoe you have the strings in order of descending voice, so next come the second violins, the violas, and then cellos with the basses lined up behind them mostly off to the right.  Sometimes the viola and cello sections switch places, but the violins stay on the left.

The MSO was set up very differently.  The first violins were still to the left, but next to them were the violas, then the cellos in the middle, and the second violins on the right side of the stage.  The basses were lined up behind the viola section on the left.  I found this fascinating.  (Of course, I’m a nerd and I don’t get out much, so I don’t claim to have a high threshold of what I claim is interesting.)

There are some great advantages to this setup.  Being a violist the biggest one to jump out at me is that the viola section can be heard with more clarity.  When we’re seated on the right we’re actually aiming sound at the back of the stage, not toward the audience at all.  And violas play in the most difficult range to hear, that middle alto/tenor voice that loses out to sounds both higher and lower than what we’re doing, so to point us the proper direction would help a lot.  Cellos, too, being in the center, points them directly at the audience, so that’s also a good idea.  Having the second violins on the right was interesting, because they were pointing their sound toward the back of the stage, but they play in a range where they can still be heard fairly well–better than violas can.  Plus it changed the general quality of their sound which gave them a different identity from the firsts.

In any case, I liked it and kind of want to try it.  I wonder if other orchestras sit this way.  Who started it?  Or is this something that people used to do that has come back?  It didn’t hit me until later that this arrangement is actually how we sit in the mandolin orchestra, so that’s interesting.

Where you sit makes a difference.  From how things appear to how you are perceived by others.  Trying different seating is often a good idea, because having a new perspective teaches us so much.  What I learned this weekend is I need to find more opportunities to sit next to my husband.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bad Eggs (Babble)

We love to decorate eggs.  I actually buy extra egg dying kits around this time of year so we can color eggs on random weekends in winter or during lazy summer afternoons.  Usually we just go with simple colors.  Sometimes we put on designs with white crayon before using the dye, but that’s about it because that’s enough.  We don’t want to get too elaborate with something we’re just going to break, but seeing the brightly colored eggs in the fridge is fun.

Every once in a while, however, I’m tempted by more fancy looking egg kits, and when Mona and I were at Target recently we grabbed one called ‘Molten Magic.’  The eggs on the front of the box looked beautiful, almost like marbleized paper, so how could we resist?  For $1.99 it seemed worth trying.

Well, for my money I’m getting this blog post, but that’s about it.  I should have kept the box in order to ridicule ‘Molten Magic’ better, but we threw it out in irritation.

The box claimed it included 30 things!  Amazing!  What were those things?  Well, a small selection of cheap crayons with a sharpener to start with.  The idea is that you make crayon shavings and put those on the hot eggs and they will melt and swirl into beautiful patterns.  But the five year old can’t hold a super hot egg, so it had to be a little less than super hot.  Which meant the shavings didn’t really melt.  Which meant the eggs came out looking nothing like the ones on the box.
Now, granted, they are still kind of pretty, because random bits of color on eggs is just pretty.  And we ended up coloring with the crayons, too.  But this picture on a box would not have sold any Molten Magic kits.

Anyway, we already have crayons!  LOTS of crayons!  I did not need to pay for a kit with cheap crayons and a sharpener.  My kids declared it a big rip off.

But what of the other items you get with the kit you ask?  To make a total of 30 things you get for your $1.99?  Ah, well, there was nothing else IN the box.  You had to use the actual box.

If you cut the side of the box up into little strips and made those into rings, those were egg stands.  If you punched out the circles on the back of the box, that was an egg drying tray.  But here’s the “best” part.  Those circles you punch out?  Why, those are ‘Silly Circles.’ 
And apparently a choking hazard, the box warned me, but mostly they were ‘Silly Circles.’

Check out the silliness:
Yeah, those are great.  Sooooo great.  Even my kids, who can entertain themselves for a day and a half with a stick or a rubber band abandoned the Silly Circles.  But I’ve decided for my $1.99 to declare them awesome and to keep them forever.  (Or at least until the next time I’m in a cleaning mode.)  Maybe we can have a Silly Circle hunt on Sunday after we’ve eaten the eggs.

My kids were pretty disappointed with the kit, but it was easy to turn that around into something that made them laugh.  We made fun of the box and its features and I got them all giggling and, frankly, hanging out with my kids doing almost anything is a good time, so it was not a wasted evening by any means.

But it’s back to regular dye kits for us.  And I’ve been saving up a collection of empty eggshells with the insides blown out so if my kids ever want to do something really detailed and beautiful on an egg we can keep it.  (On a special shelf.  With the Silly Circles I’m sure.)