Sunday, July 27, 2014

Puppy Love

I visited Jennifer of Mama's Minutiae today.  It was the puppy pictures on her blog that got me. She had mentioned that lots of people have been coming by to visit her EIGHT ADORABLE CUTE CUDDLY-WUDDLY PUPPIES, and I thought, "Hey! The girls would love to visit puppies!" So, in a very uncharacteristic move, I invited myself over.

Hey, I've read her blog for years, people.  So it's sort of like I know her, right? Maybe?

Seriously, who could resist this?

Luckily, that was good enough for her (she reads my blog also, so I'm not a complete stranger asking to come play with her puppies - almost, but not quite). She said sure, Saturday's good, and I put both girls and a bunch of snacks in the car and drove 2 hours into a more rural (and beautiful) part of the state. At one point, we passed a house with clothes hanging on the line to dry.  "Oh, wow," said Rachel. "Living here is like camping every day!"

So yeah, my kids ARE very suburban and sheltered.  Sue me.

You know, I've met other bloggers before; sometimes it has gone okay, and sometimes it's been a tad awkward.  I have had one blogger say to me, "You're NOTHING like I imagined you." And I've had another insist, "You are EXACTLY like you sound in your blog." So go figure - you can't predict how these meet-ups will turn out, and that knowledge gave me a small panic attack when I woke up yesterday morning and remembered that I had invited myself to a stranger's home.  What the heck had I been thinking? I wondered. But I had already promised puppy-cuddling to the girls, so there was no turning back.

People, I am so glad I made the trip.  Jennifer is exactly as she sounds on her blog, and we talked for over 3 hours straight while her kids showed my girls around the farm and introduced them to all the animals. My throat hurts.

And PUPPIES!  So CUTE, and Jennifer didn't even get upset when Rachel (completely unaccustomed to squirming baby animals) dropped one on the ground almost as soon as we arrived. Or if she was upset, she hid it very well.

So I headed home just before dark with 2 very tired girls and a newly fueled enthusiasm for homeschooling, cooking, and life in general.  Not bad for a 3-hour chat, eh?  My only regret is that I didn't request the recipe for those cookies Jennifer made for our visit.  All that food she photographs on her blog?  Apparently, it tastes as good as it looks.

So there you go - take risks, step out of your comfort zone. You just might end up being glad you did. Many thanks to Jennifer, for her hospitality and kindness and cookies, and to her kids, for putting up with my rather citified girls.  Anyone need a puppy? There are still a few available, and I promise they are as cute as they look in that picture up there.

Is citified a word? I thought it was, but now I'm not too sure.

[Puppies image: Mama's Minutia]

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Friday, July 25, 2014


Artisan ice cubes, I call them
My not-so-willing offspring are burdened (to hear them tell it) with an unreasonable number of tasks around here: laundry, dishes, putting out the trash, you name it - there is always some chore that one or the other of my hapless children finds him/herself obligated to perform. And believe me, there is no whistle-while-you-work ethos happening in this household; rather, each task is greeted with dismay - nay, shock - that there is yet again something that needs to be done. And at the top of their list of disliked chores? That, my friends, would be the dreaded making of the ice cubes.

You see, there is no automatic ice maker for us, no binful of perfectly shaped cubes waiting to chill our drinks when we open our freezer door. Instead, once or even twice daily, we have to fill the 5 plastic trays with water, stack them in the freezer, WAIT several hours, and then empty the resulting ice cubes into our ice cube bin.

To hear the kids tell it, this job has them channeling 19th-century Almanzo Wilder, going out on the frozen lake with his dad and the hired men to cut large blocks of ice to store in the icehouse. Not a day goes by that one of my beloved progeny doesn't complain about the fact we are the only family (in his world, anyway) continuing to make ice cubes the old-fashioned way. Tell me, is this the price I pay for raising them in an upscale, semi-urban community?  Are they doomed to grow up thinking that the luxury appliances they see in all their friends' houses are the global norm?

Sometimes I think I should ditch everything and move us out to a farm in the mountains for a year, where the kids can learn to, I don't know, do whatever it is people do on farms. Churn butter? Muck out stalls? Hang wet laundry on the clothesline?  Maybe, after enough time doing those things, they would be happy to come back to a place where their toughest task is to wrestle a few cubes of frozen water out of plastic trays.  Maybe they would even begin to appreciate the air conditioning, the automatic clothes dryer, the ever-present supply of hot water as the luxuries they really are.

Better yet, I shouldn't move away from city life at all.  I mean, why should I suffer? I already appreciate the advantages of modern living.  Instead, I can just send the kids.  Any farming bloggers out there who want to do a kid swap?  Think about it - you can teach my kids what REAL WORK is, while your kids would experience what to them will feel like a well-deserved vacation.  It's a win-win, right?

[Ice cubes image: Photos Public Domain]

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Red Alert

Lovely, isn't it?

DO NOT ask for whom the mosquito buzzes; it buzzes for thee.  That's right, folks - the first locally acquired case of chikungunya has been diagnosed in Florida.  IT'S HERE.

Don't say I didn't warn you...

[Mosquito image: Wikipedia]

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

News You Can Use

On the parenting front:

You heard it here first, folks, teens are stressful...according to one study quoted by NPR, "...about one-third (34 percent) of those who live with one or more teenagers said they'd had a great deal of stress in the past month."  To which I say, "Yup."

The health beat:

We've already discussed this particularly lovely bug that bites your face and deposits its eggs in your skin, right? You know, the eggs that end up making your heart or intestines explode?  Well, this bug's existence has now provided me with yet another reason not to get a pet for the children.

These will change my life

And, finally, style (the home variety): among the things homeschoolers REALLY like to buy...can one ever have enough bookshelves?  And these fold flat when not in use!  Now you have a place to put all the schoolbooks that your children insist on losing during the year.  ALL the books will stay RIGHT HERE, on this marvelous, foldable set of shelves. This is the story we homeschoolers tell ourselves, in that idealistic time known as mid-summer, before another ugly academic year has begun to trample all our pedagogical dreams.

A thing of beauty...

Ditto for this thing here...I swear to you, it's all the rage in homeschool circles.  THIS year, there will be pencils.  They will be sharpened, without having to search for batteries first.  NO ONE will spend the morning on the couch whining over and over about not being able to find a usable writing implement. Peace and joy will reign, forever and ever, amen.

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Monday, July 14, 2014


I've been away all weekend at a belated memorial service for my friend, who passed away last October.  I told the story about our ill-fated trip to Harris Teeter (among other things), and made everybody laugh.  It felt awesome.

We all had a lot of fun.  Is that so wrong?

Anyway, we had brunch the next day at her daughter's house, a cute dwelling built back in 1931.  I was happy until I walked into the kitchen, where I saw the stove.  THIS stove:

Look at the dials - looks like an H.A. Rey drawing of a stove

"Wow," I said to her husband.  "I didn't think they made that kind of stove anymore."

"They don't," he said. "That's the original stove. It came with the house."

People, I was looking at a stove from 1931 that still worked. It was 83 YEARS OLD.  Those of you who are long-time readers can understand my angst, can't you?  Remember the crappy stove from 1983 that came with our house, that I finally had to put out of its misery?  Remember the almost-new CraigsList stove we now own, the one whose oven insists on turning itself off at random?

Yet these people were sitting there using an 83-year-old stove.  It just...rankles.  What's so special about them?  How come they don't kill every stove they come in contact with?  Do I unknowingly bear an appliance curse?  These are the thoughts that went through my head as I stared at this particular appliance that should, by logic, be in a museum, not a suburban NY kitchen.

"Can I take a picture?" I asked.

"What?" asked my startled host. "Um, sure.  But why?"

Was there any good answer for that?  Could I possibly explain to him that I needed to share this stove with you all, because you'd understand just how unfair this all is?  I guessed that he didn't want to stand there and be regaled with all my tales of appliance woe, so I mumbled something about wanting to show it to Larry as I positioned my IPad for the shot.  Then he and his wife showed me all the stove's neat features: a soup well, a stove-top broiler, the plate-warming device behind that little door to the right.

Salt in a wound, my friends, it was like salt in a wound.  They truly have no idea...

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