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Monday, March 23, 2015

Shaken Hiatus

Not pictured: Birdy, pulling on my arm saying, "Why are we just standing here?"


Dear very attractive and mysteriously charismatic readers:

Thank you so much for continuing to read Shaken Mama.

I am working on a bigger article about motherhood that I think you guys will really enjoy, so I am suspending daily posts until mid-April. 

(I am also simultaneously obsessing and researching the lives of Amy Poehler and Henry the Eighth, so call me if you want to talk about either of these subjects. Like how they would have made a great couple.)

Erica

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Marmalade's kittens at 20 days old

The kittens' personalities are coming out by the hour. This one we call the Troublesome Truck, as he is the first kitten to develop a playful persona. He leaps on his brother and sisters with glee, and likes to eat lying down on his mother -- upside down.



There have been a lot of questions from the girls entitled Whether We Can Keep the Kittens, and the answer is still "no." The kittens are great and their mama is spectacular, but I feel strongly that they belong to their "forever families" somewhere in our community, not to us.
















Saturday, March 21, 2015

Chebbles and the Bee

The adjoining playground was a nice place to
blow off steam before the competition. 
Today was Chebbles' first county spelling bee. After having won her class spelling bee, then her school spelling bee, she competed against 125 3-8th graders from all over Contra Costa County. The grand prize is a trip to Washington, D.C. for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Well, she won't be going... this year. She outlasted almost all of the elementary school kids in the written portion of the test (only the top 10 go on to the speak-and-spell finals), and came in at about 50th.

The competition was formidable. The eighth grade girl sitting next to Chebbles, for example, just yawned and jotted her words down, getting 99% of them correct. She slouched in her chair and delivered the correct spellings, she was fascinating to watch.

For my fellow spelling fans, these are the words (up until Chebbles got her fourth word wrong, and was done). I've placed an X next to the ones she missed:




Practice words:

burrito
pretzel
mammoth

Competition words:

alcove
tofu
crimson
macaroni
protein
hickory
muumuu
sushi
igneous
grabble
crescent
layette X (the words of French origins never failed to irk Chebbles when she studied)
bonanza
wikiwiki
fathom
chinchilla
gardenia
gorgeous X (she uses this word all the time, it was confusing that she missed it)
geothermal
guitar
daffodil
belladonna
cognition
lithe
iguana
innate
credentials
alfalfa
gristle
amnesia
asterisk
sequin
impasse X (this word was a victim of cramming, darn the French)
rhinoceros
flamenco
amenable -- Redacted! The MC started to read the wrong definition so they pulled it.
boysenberry
olio X
A shot of our cram session at Peet's last night.
(She's having fun illustrating "hedonism.") 

(as we left, I also heard perestroika and cacophony too)

When she was done, and we went outside. She was feeling pretty disappointed, but we were very proud of all the words she had answered correctly. She outlasted so many kids!

As I type, the spelling bee is continuing. The last 10 competitors are eating lunch, then heading in for the speak-and-spell portion. I'm hoping that the yawning girl wins, I can't help but admire her bored confidence at the bee.

And so if Chebbles happens to win her class and school bee again next year, we all know better how to prepare. But for now, we're recycling the flashcards and Mama needs a glass of wine.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Kitten Update: Mama cat is a superstar

The kittens are 18 days old and getting more interactive, much more curious about their surroundings and starting to walk instead of crawl.

Chebbles even got one of these newborns to purr just by petting him. (Usually they only purr when they're nursing.)

But the real star of the kitten show is Marmalade, our very own hardworking "teen mom."

Marmalade is only six pounds herself, not even two years old, and is nursing four half-pound babies. She's eating and drinking massive amounts to keep up with all this work, plus she is recovering from the (completely unfair) upper respiratory infection she contracted at the Antioch shelter.

But despite all this, she is a remarkably nice cat. She lets us hold her kittens anytime, and starts purring when we simply talk to her from across the room. She is a nuzzly, gorgeous superstar.

And this, her first and last litter of kittens, is her masterpiece.





Thursday, March 19, 2015

Someone loves her curls

Birdy's current curl "situation"

At five o'clock in the morning, I heard shrieks of horror coming from Birdy's bedroom. 

I jumped out of bed, heart pounding. Birdy never, ever wakes us up, so I knew that something truly terrible must have happened. Mortal illness? An intruder?

When I appeared at her bedside she started yelling at me. "WHY!? WHY did you make me change my hair!?"

I got in bed with her (because it looked warm, and it seemed like this conversation was going to take a while) and explained that her hair was exactly the same as when she'd gone to bed. It was the same beautiful, untenable situation it has always been.

"But you said you GOT TO, Mama," she said, still very angry with me. "You said you GOT TO change my hair! You made it short and straight."

I reassured her that I had no plans to make her hair short. Fantasies, yes, but no actual plans. As for making it straight, that is far beyond my capabilities.

And to me, the good news is this is a kid who values her curls. No, she's not going to brush them or care for them in the short term, but her curls are very important to her, and despite having two older sisters with stick-straight hair, she plans to stay curly.

A little curl history is in order...

                                 
When she was first born, there were unusual ripples of hair all over Birdy's scalp.
It all grew forward and then curled up to the sides

By the time she turned one, those ripples had exploded into curls, still growing stoutly forward, and getting more and more wild and crazy.

When she was two and a half, I could kind of pull the curls into ponytails, so we could see her sweet face for a brief period of time.

Now that she is a solid five and a half, I've pretty much given up. This is her hair, this is her situation, and she loves it. And it's pretty clear that any change I might try to enact would be traumatizing! So we'll just do the best we can.
"If you buy me that headband, I'll put my hair back... for five minutes."


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

For the want of a shoe...

"No shoes, no shirt, no statuary..."


We as a family don't excel in good footwear choices, but things came to an all new low on Monday afternoon at the Getty Villa.

The Getty Villa, in Pacific Palisades, houses an extraordinary amount of Greek, Etruscan and Roman art. To get in, we had to make reservations online, then go to the nearest FedEx Office store to print out the tickets, then pay $15 for parking and drive through several security checks.

We were relieved when we finally parked the car and prepared to set out and discover the gorgeous statuary, the Roman-style herb gardens, the priceless jewelry and history lessons within this huge, incredible villa.

That's when Chebbles told us that she'd only brought one shoe.

She had seen one of her shoes in the back seat, and assumed that the second shoe must be somewhere back there as well. She didn't seek out the second shoe until we sat in the parking garage at the Getty Villa, a long way from our Los Angeles digs.

To her credit, she offered to wait in the (shaded) car, but since SHE is the person who loves Greek mythology more than the rest of us combined, that seemed a horrible waste on account of not having a shoe.

So I found a grandmotherly employee and explained our situation. She told me to lay low about the one-shoe-deal and perhaps we would be able to get away with it. She walked us to the gift shop, as we prayed for a pair of Roman shoes, or perhaps some Getty Villa socks, to no avail. So Chebbles kind of limped on her one shoe for the first half-hour of our explorations at the museum.

Then security got involved. Walkie-talkies were employed, supervisors were summoned, the original helpful grandmother was admonished, and we were told we would have to leave because everyone simply has to wear shoes at the Getty Villa.

It's not unreasonable to ask your patrons to wear shoes. It's just that when a family of five arrives with nine shoes between them, having driven down from Northern California and passed all of the security checks, and fed the children and finally gotten there, it blows!

Chebbles loved the herb garden. It was filled
with words from her spelling list!
We were in the process of leaving when a security supervisor and our helpful grandmother had a brainstorm: A WHEELCHAIR. At the Getty Villa, they loan out wheelchairs to visitors. A wheelchair was quickly procured, and after a few tearful moments in which Chebbles felt self-conscious about sitting in a wheelchair for no reason other than her own shoe mistake, we were off to see the antiquities. (Birdy hopped into the chair with Chebbles, which alleviated the bulk of the embarrassment.)

I wondered what it must be like for moms who have to tote their kids around in wheelchairs all of the time. All of a sudden, elevators became completely necessary, and some areas were difficult to reach. For example, we really wanted to see the real mummy on the second floor. So we found the elevator and navigated our way towards it. But there were so many people standing around soaking in the mummy vibes that we simply couldn't muscle our way in to experience it too.

The children's exhibits were particularly awesome. Birdy staged a battle from behind a screen with a costume on, and the girls decorated amphoras with dry erase markers.

So we ended up having a marvelous time. Gigi ran up and down the outside theater, enjoying the big steps and the sunshine. I found a glass of wine at the cafeteria that seemed particularly essential to my survival.

"I'm going to CHOP YOUR HEAD OFF!" she exclaimed
I'm grateful to the inventive security staff who dreamed up the idea of shoving our girl in a wheelchair for the duration of our visit. We learned about the jewelry and dishware of these three important civilizations, and we learned the importance of counting shoes... before we leave the house.





Shoes were forgotten. Amphoras were decorated.









Monday, March 16, 2015

Girl Scout Cookie Weed


I think we can all agree that things have gone too far when a medical marijuana dispensary has a Girl Scout Cookie strain of weed.

I found the above canister on the street during a jog through the streets of Encino. (Yes, I'm the kind of person who picks up abandoned pharmaceutical bottles on the road.)

This branding notion may have started when an enterprising Girl Scout set up a cookie stand outside of a medical marijuana dispensary last year. So perhaps we invited this kind of "trouble" ourselves.

What I object to is the nature of the Girl Scout Cookie strain. It is known as creating a "euphoric" effect, but it's NOT known to bring on a "creative" reaction. (The reviews on the Leafly page state this.)

Look, if we're going to be the kind of society who makes a Girl Scout Cookie strain of weed, I would expect more in terms of an accurate reaction. Users should experience, instead, a desire to be kind and creative, use resources wisely and be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Perhaps that's what one can expect from the Thin Mint strain? I certainly hope so.