Friday, June 30, 2006

enter love interest

I'm pretty convinced that if our lives were a movie, we would have now reached the point in the storyline where either Kimberly or I (preferably both) would meet someone and fall in love. He would be someone with some responsibility for the girls--a teacher, doctor, social worker, detective/prosecuting attorney (long story)--and he would be slightly nerdy and marginally attractive. On the upside, he'd be solid, stable, and good with children. Isn't that how it worked in "Raising Helen"?

is this too much to ask?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

the fRamily vacation (installment 1)

so we are preparing for our first fRamily (when friends become family = fRamily) vacation. we are flying to boston (sweet deal on airfare) renting a minivan and then driving up to maine to do some fun outdoor activities in acadia national park ... or somewhere near there. we hope to sea kayak, bike, whale watch, and play uno. we will then return to boston to hang out with some fRamily friends at harvard, and hopefully instill a powerful desire in the girls to seek after learning. while we are there we will swim in walden pond, see the alcott house, check out some of the revolutionary sites, and eat really great sandwiches.

this trip is as on the cheap as we can we are camping (hence the minivan) at acadia national park.

paulette is at our church girls' camp right now. she gets back on saturday. we pack and then leave on monday afternoon.

if you have any suggestions for places to stay, things to do, or ways to make this trip cheaper (e.g., discounts on rental cars etc) please let us know. we have been searching the web for good deals, and not really finding the hook-ups that we need...though we did get an amazing deal on our plane tickets.

speaking of which, this is the first time the girls have ever flown on a plane, and i kinda think they are more excited about flying than actually having the holiday.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

suka patch update --

i lifted this from elaine's blog... but i wanted to give a garden update, and i know (hope) she won't mind...

The Suka Patch has grown lush and green since my last garden posting. Below is a view of the sweet peppers box - they aren't ripe yet, but there is fruit on the vine!

The tomato plants are enormous and need to be pinched and tied. We harvest greens almost every day - and they are delish. The arugula is super-spicy.

One of my main reasons for having a garden is being able to grow my own cucumbers. After growing up on fresh Japanese cukes from mom's garden, it is so hard to eat store-bought American ones . My cuke plants are doing very well and I'm hoping they continue to do so. They are a bit overshadowed by the zucchini plants, but they are growing fine along the fence.

All that in this delightful garden grows
should happy be and have immortal bliss
~ Edmund Spencer

compliments of elaine....
thanks elaine

all of this rain is going to make the garden crazy fruitful. i am so excited for bruchetta

Saturday, June 24, 2006

cuttin' hair down

due to unfortunate "over perms", hair twisiting and fungus, the girls had to have their hair cut down. it took over a month for them to get "comfortable" with the idea. jennifer went first, because i knew the turmoil of watching paulette go through it would completely unnerve her. she came unhinged anyway, but at least it was done quicker...

paulette wanted to do it, but was worried that it might be too short...

before the torture began

horray, haircut!!!!

it seems like he is cutting ALOT of hair...

wait....what are you doing????!!!

i don't like this anymore

okay, i can handle hair has been breaking will be better...
i think i can, i think i can

why does he keep cutting?


i will never forgive you for this...


at this point you have to wonder if you deserve a call to
child protective services.


why does torture last sooooooooo long?

kimberly and jennifer leave to go buy some maintnance products for her hair. she is completely unhinged. we missed a big chunk of paulette's cut and i had the camera in my pocket...

brian has lots going on...

did someone say grace jones?

"i mean, i am tough and all but...i am not real sure about getting all this hair cut
did you see that huge piece that just dropped?"

jennifer: "its like you have three hands"
brian: "that's the best compliment i have ever recieved"

change of heart...there is hope that there is a cute style lurking on that head

paulette lovin her new d00

i personally think it was worth it


Friday, June 23, 2006

single motherhood

I want to respond to one reader's astute question: "What in the world did you do while K was in Durban??!"

This is a very good question. Kimberly was in Durban (or en route) for ten days. The girls spent four of those days in Florida (or en route.) I think Kimberly was super jealous that I was going to get the house to myself for four days. And she had good reason to be. Those four days were wonderful. I visited friends, stayed out past 9, napped, re-read Bridget Jones' Edge of Reason (again laughing at loud at the Colin Firth interview), and ate cold cereal for dinner.

But those days did not come cheaply. I paid for them by having the girls by myself for six days, learning for myself how exhausting single motherhood can be.

Listing all the things we did during Kimberly's trip would be boring (think laundry, chores, and trips to the grocery store). But, some of the highlights include:
  • Introducing the girls to their new favorite movie, My Fair Lady. Subsequently singing "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain" twenty-three times.
  • Packing--and upacking--for the trip (which included trips to Target, H&M, etc. to pick up needed items, including: sunglasses, beach towels, hairbands, shorts, etc.). Packing with these two takes an unbelievably long time.

  • Visiting mom (twice) and dad (once) in respective nursing homes. This was the first time I had met the girls' dad, actually, and it's a story worth telling, though not, unfortunately, one I can tell on the blog. Please call for details.
  • Playing "spring spa day" with face masks (thanks Dianna), hair treatments, nail polish (3 sessions, including one unfortunate bout with French Manicure press-on nails purchased at CVS with leftover money from Florida trip with said nails prompting mom to call five times this week to tell Paulette that she was not allowed to get her navel pierced).

  • Cleaning the house and the backyard, and firing up the grill for the inaugural barbecue of the season (hot dogs, corn on the cob, watermelon, plus great conversation with our fried Katie and entertainment by the girls, who choreographed a dance to Doris Day's "I adore being a girl".)

I'll post separately about our trip to buy Jen's new glasses (stay tuned, they are sooo cute!), and to catch people up on all the background posts ("carrots and sticks," "i heart medicaid," and "bedtime is complicated") I was supposed to write last week when I had the house to myself (and was busy pampering myself instead).


Thursday, June 22, 2006

change of heart

i am not sure what is going on, but ever since i have been back from durban the girls have been little dreams come true. they are funny and kind. the number of fights have dramatically decreased. they don't pick at each other and they are just behaving so much better that the don't end up in trouble. we are having so much fun lately. and i am looking forward to coming home at the end of the day rather than wishing i could just somehow stay in my safe contained office.

jennifer has taken to calling both lindsay and i "yo-ma" short for "your mama". this is a bit concerning...but ... we are trying to deflect it.

we are all super excited for our "framily" vacation this summer. we are going to boston and maine for the week of the independence day. we are planning our trip, so if you have suggestions, please share.

this is how they looked when they found out what we were doing...

they are SOOOOOO excited to fly

lindsay used to live in boston and is the self proclaimed "best boston tour guide you could ever want". i have been once before with her, and it is true. we know nothing about maine and are really hoping to see some beautiful scenery and ride some bikes and hike in it.

Monday, June 19, 2006


the week in durban went by swiftly. we were there exploring ways to make the president's emergency plan for aids relief (PEPFAR) more sustainable. it was an interesting meeting. and i found lots of additional work to do and met many who are really engaged and fighting the good fight against this disease. it was great. i am honored to work with all the people i work with and so happy that i can be engaged in this important work.

some people appreciate our work more than others...

i came home with a plethora of stuff for the girls (mostly food)

which elicited this response.

i got a really cute note from jennifer (who was at church when i got home): (this is unedited for sweetness)

Dear Kimberly I hope you had a fun time in africa what did you see tell me everything. I gave you some candy in a bowl with a pin on top I hope you like it

love you kimberly (inscribe inside of a heart)

the corners of the note have hearts drawn.

we had a fun bbq dinner of lindsay's famous shishkebabs, stoney ginger beer (i lugged a six pack home from durban... i seriously don't know what i was thinking, but i love that stuff), pineapple rice, yummy cheese and crackers, fresh corn on the cob, and arugula salad from the garden... during dinner we had a short teaching moment about youth day:

i was in durban for 16 june, which is the national holiday "youth day". it commemorates the beginning of the end of apartheid. students (sixth grade to seniors in high school) in Soweto started a protest for better education and to overturn the gov't decision to teach school in Afrikaans. police responded with teargas and live bullets. hector pieterson was one of the first killed. he was a 12 year-old school boy. by all accounts he was a well-mannered, smart, unassuming lad. the picture below is the photograph that lit the world's disdain for apartheid and started the revolution that would find nelson mandela out of prison and president of the country 18 years later. it is hector being carried by a friend and his sister along side.

i wanted this to be a lesson to the girls that they have a voice. that if they fight for change and truth, even at the age of 12, they can change the world. so i got them nelson mandela t-shirts to accompany the larger lesson...

then we cleaned up and the girls got ready for bed and scripture study...

as the girls were getting ready for bed and my jet lag was setting in, jennifer triumphantly came down the stairs

bedtime was less painful than normal... we agreed to wake up at 6:45 for round house theater camp. i panicked in the morning when i went to wake them up. paulette needed to wake up first to have a shower, but i couldn't find her, and it looked like she hadn't slept in her bed. then i wised up and looked to the bottom bunk ....

honestly, nothing is sweeter than when these 2 are asleep.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

My week in Florida

last week i had the time of my life we went everywhere we went to coco beach,we went to disneyworld and another place i forget,oh yeah the movies. first we went to coco beach,we had a good time,we played in the water we could only stay fo half an hour,because a tropical storm was coming. we went to the movies and saw cars a nice little movie i would say(go see it and take your kids so you don't get bored.) after the movie we went to have dinner at a beautiful place called the golden corral, at that place trouble started. i was in line getting some steamed shrimp makes your mouth water doesn't it yeah when my ex best friend came next to me and said to me as a boy named rayvon walked by paulette you know i go with rayvon people let me tell you i got hotter than a shrimp getting steamed in a pot i was mad because i had and still do have a crush that she used to go with. i started to get jealous so i called in a team of experts to help me break them up. i called in angel my friend our first task was to get him to notice me, that worked out preety well. our second task was to tell rayvon about her previous boyfriends i didn't like that plan so i started to come up with my own second task, and that task was to write a letter to tell him about my crush on him. that worked for a little while. one day on the bus my friend christian wanted to read the letter so i let him. after he read about two words a teacher found it i was so scared she was about to make me read it in front of everyone but she didn't instead she gave it to my science teacher, she read it and then later on that night she knocked on our hotel door. she called all of my roommates out to talk to them i was the last of my roommates she called out to talk to she showed me the letter and she made me cry in the end angel's plan worked rayvon finally noticed me and now he has a crush on me this all works out.well thats all folks until july10 when we meet again i hope were in the same class.

-- paulette (we are waiting for photos to be developed, but will add some soon...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

the effect of children on $$$$$

this may come as no surprise, but kids are s p e n d y . and they are kinda demanding about the money you spend on them.

the other day paulette came home from school and demanded $180. we helped her through the math and then she realized she only needed $120 and demanded again. "you have to give me $120, i NEED $120". wisely, my friend dianna said: "i want $300." lindsay and i followed suit with much higher numbers that would pay off student loans and buy houses. it shut her up for a bit. but the demands just keep coming.

they really do need so much stuff. they have no summer clothes, they need tons of hair products to get their hair/scalps healed, summer camps, school trips, medicine, lots of food, etc. it really adds up.

plus, they have never learned what it means to work and earn money. they can't remember living in a home where anyone left for work earned money. they existed charity, entitlements, or gifts. the concept of earning money is foriegn. but it is actually exciting to watch them learn the value of work and the instant gratification that can come when you clean something really dirty, and then get paid for doing it. (more on work later).

because our church is helping us pay for most of the additional cost (until we start getting the social security etc. benefits... ) we have to keep good track of what we spend. so today, jet lagged and super lazy, i started using a computer program to track my expenses. in this way the kids have had a real positive effect on my $$...i am embarrassed to say that i have never kept good track until now, so this is really exciting.

AND because dinners are now always at 6:30pm (supposedly, more like 7) and they are all sitdownprayerfirst kinda dinners. we have to plan menus. it is amazing what you can make if you just plan for it. and we have been having some really delish stuff at our place. the girls don't love everything, but they are good sports to try everything (they like green drink though). so, i eat out alot less and we make pretty inexpensive meals (for the most part).

that is all to say that kids might be rough on the pocketbook, but they sure do make it more organized.

i wrote this and then just before posting learned that someone in our congregation generously gave our Bishop $5000 to help take care of the girls. our bishop has assured us that we should not allow this to become a financial sacrifice/burden. it is really amazing to observe the generosity of so many people.

so many people have offered to take the kids for a weekend, or for a night, or whenever. this experience has punctuated the african notion that "it takes a villiage" and it is a beautiful thing to watch a congregation and neighborhood become a villiage.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Greetings from Durban South Africa.

it took me (kimberly) a really long time to get here (26 hours total). i flew from dca to atl and then flew for 8 hours until the plane stopped on the cape verde islands (sal island to be exact) to refuel. we were not allowed off the plane or really to even move around. SUPER ANNOYING!

i sat next to mike cobb who was a first round draft choice tight end who played for the chicago bears with william (the refrigerator) perry. he is about the same size as a (the) refrigerator. he was the biggest man i have ever seen in real life. needless to say it was a very tight squeeze in my government issued coach window seat for the next 9 hours. i told him about the girls. he wants to come see them the next time he is in DC. he also would like a word with shirley.

he told the male flight attendent that he was my bodyguard, after the attendent gaffed at my wanting yet another "couple of waters". needless to say, i was never short on water. and when i complained about not having a veg. meal...he made that happen too. thanks mike!

this is a map of the islands (see if you can find sal?)

this is my view out the window of the airport in sal island

now i am here in durban, za. i have a room at the 164 Boutique (my room is the"self catering" room on the left). if you click on it you can see inside my durban apartment.

i have been missing the girls, even though they are really being troublemakers lately (paulette is in trouble 10x's for jennifer's every 2). it is probably because they miss me so much (or not). i think they need passports so that someday we can show them the world.

(note to girls: if you are good and earn 4 stars a day until you go to florida, i will bring you peri peri and biltong)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

spirit week

This week is Spirit Week at the girls' school, KIPP DC: KEY Academy. It is also, not coincidentally, the last week of school. Yesterday, the girls' celebrated "crazy hat day." Unfortunately, we couldn't find any crazy hats in our house, so the girls wore scarves instead. Today (pictured) is "inside out day," when students can wear their school uniforms turned inside out. It is truly amazing how excited the girls are about this. It wouldn't surprise me if they've got their undies on inside out. And, to be totally thruthful, they did look awfully cute this morning (thus the photo op).

The only problem we ran into is that they had no place to put their bus tokens, since the pockets on their pants were on the inside of their clothes, and unreachable without serious effort. Jennifer, ever resourceful, kept one token (for the outbound journey) clutched in her palm and undid her pants to insert the return token into the pocket before leaving for school. I shudder to think about how, when, and where she's going to fish that out at the end of the day.

Also--and, again, perhaps not coincidentally--this was the first morning in a long, long while that the girls haven't been at each other's throats. (Turns out mornings aren't really our strong suit in this house.) I told the girls that every morning that they behave like this: (refer to picture of girls spontaneously hugging) we will post cute pictures of them on this blog. --Lindsay


today i (kimberly) tried to take the stool samples to the lab. we had tried on saturday, but they were lindsay was told from the woman sitting behing the desk. i was worried that the samples were too old (5 days for some) but figured we needed new collection containers anyway and we might as well just check.

i got to the office at 11:58am and the door was locked. the woman behind the desk yelled to me that they were closed until 1:pm. i hollered back that this was my second attempt to drop this stuff off and couldn't i just give it to her. "ONE O'CLOCK". she was rude and dismissive and sent me over the edge.

luckily my friend dianna later took it over. it was indeed to old, but we have new containers.

after school, the girls went with paulette's mentor (amy, see link to leonard's blog) to a play at the kennedy center that one of paulette's friends was in (deanna).

this next stool sample, they are taking care of the whole mess themselves.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

the suka patch

as a source of food and relaxation, i (kimberly) have had a community garden plot that i share with a friend. elaine took the place of my former garden partner this year. she has posted a beautiful blog about our garden.

from it our "framily" (the four women involved in raisingdc) eat arugula, kyoto mizuno, red lettuce, and spinach daily. we get a weekly dose of swiss chard. tomatoes are on their way (yeehaw) as are zucchinis, sweet peppers, soy beans, green beans, sweet peas, etc.

the girls make a trip about once a week to the garden. it is an all organic garden and we are not supposed to waste water, so we have to carry all of our water from these big 20 gallon barrels. it gets really hot sometimes, but it is fun to get the food.

the first time i took the girls there, years ago, the totally wigged out about how i was touching dirt and there were bugs. they would scream and jump at everything. they are much more comfortable now, but no more interested.

A day in the life of paulette

yesterday was one of the hardest working days i ever had. i went over to the bishops house to clean his back yard(pulling weeds). i worked really hard.(i'm not bragging). so anyway the bishop and i started talking about me going to Florida next Sunday. he asked me what i was going to do in Florida, and i told him i'm going to coco beach and he said "Paulette your going to call me on the phone and say (in a very annoying and whinning voice) bishop degn i'm having such a horrible time at coco beach the water's too blue and crisp can you please , please, please pick me up or send me a passport to catch a plane back to washington so i can go to church. then i go "do you really believe that i'm going to call you and say all those things", and he goes "yeah". (me thinking in my mind) not gonna happen. after that convo he starts another conversation about how he's the nicest guy he knows. he says this because he gave me bottled water. in the end we stopped talking about how nice he is and everything else.

the day at the park

yesterday, i went to the park and saw this black and white dog. the dog can do diffrent types of tricks. one of tricks were that the dog can roll over.another trick the dog does is it goes threw your legs when you tell it to.the next trick the dog can do is play dead. the final trick the dog can do is jump up and down. By jennifer.
this is cute jennifer posting her first blog

Saturday, June 03, 2006


so today was an awesome day. we woke up early and got chores done. then the girls went to the bishop's to do some yard work to earn money for girls camp and lindsay and i went to our friends wedding. the wedding was an all day (and really beautiful) affair. we had arranged with 3 friends to help us with the kids. the idea was that they would work to earn the money they need for camp. it was good.

they visited their mom, went swimming, did some yard work. a great summer saturday.

we didn't get home from the wedding until 10:pm. the girls were at our other friend's house watching "the princess bride".

as we got into the car we asked for a recount of the day. paulette immediately told us that her aunt shirley was at the nursing home when they went to visit their mom. then paulette relayed a message from shirley to us, that went a little like this: "they have got to realize that you are black and don't have white people hair and that you have to get your hair done regularly..." it continued on about how horrible their hair looked etc.

I FLIPPED OUT! the post dedicated to shirley hasn't happened yet, and i am not sure how that will go, but suffice it to say that shirley is in no possition to be critizing our parenting skills. additionally, the reason their hair is not in braids or rows or something is because the doctor (an african-american woman) told us to keep their hair natural and not put it into braids etc. it needs to be natural so that they can heal.

i called shirley furious. i asked her to not communicate through the girls. that we are doing the best that we can. that it is true that we don't know how to "do black hair" but we are learning and we are doing all that we can to help these girls get healthy. lets not forget that the hair fungus is a function of neglect. i told her that i wanted her to talk to both of the kids and straighten out what she had said and apologize. she did without hesitation.

the girls were shocked to hear anyone talk to their aunt the way i talked to her. she is THE matriarch and no one questions her authority.

at least not until now...


Friday, June 02, 2006

the crush #1

kimberly has the biggest crush on my social studies teacher Mr.sheilds. She met him at my school when she came to pick me and my sister up to take us to the doctor. She claims that she thought he was cute and that she would soon get over it,but thats not what's been happening, well I mean the whole forgetting Mr.sheilds was cute and everything. After about three days of having a crush on Mr.sheilds she has been sending me off to school to drop hints about her and how cool she is. So far its been going preety well. I guess he already knows about her liking him, how do i know this you may ask well, i know this because every time i say you know that red head girl who came up to the school to pick me up he goes "yeah" and the I go "she runs triathlons, likes to stay healthy, likes to eat and guess what else she's won two medles for he age goup in the last triathlon she ran". then he goes ''cool'' and then smiles. when i come home to tell kimberly about my day the first thing that comes out of my mouth is Mr.sheilds likes you. After I tell her this she goes ''really'' then i go yeah and she goes ''hmmmmmm'' and i go i'll see what i can do to convince him to become mormon and maybe you'll get marry in the temple some day.