Showing posts from 2015

Star Wars For Dummies

So, that Christmas thing happened, and I spent the entire day feeling grateful that I had all 6 kids home for a bit, all under one roof, because I know that won't keep happening forever. We had some neighbors and their girls (Anna and David's age) over, so the "old people" ended up being relegated to the kids table - that way, all the young adults and the younger siblings could sit together.

You know, no one ever warned me that would happen.

To make things even better, it was a good present year: Larry didn't try giving me car-cleaning tools for Christmas, I had plenty of excellent ideas for his presents, and the kids were also relatively easy to shop for. I mean, helloooo, gift cards! And books, of course...what else can you give to a self-supporting young adult, anyway?

Then, last night, FINALLY, we went to see Star Wars. Larry and the boys had already seen it, but I was waiting until I could use my discount Costco movie tickets to take the girls. Uncle Matt a…

As The Food Turns

3 days until Christmas, so what better time for a clean-out-the-fridge post? As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, cleaning out the fridge is no longer the guilt-ridden task it used to be. I have become a composting zealot, convinced that I am saving the world with the 7-gallon bucket full of food scraps that we generate each week.

Saving the world, for only $25 a month. Can't beat that, right?

So, here is the latest picture:

You'll note the remnants of our Chanukah latkes at the bottom of that center stack there. Apparently, 8 days is not long enough to eat a double batch of potato pancakes. Is there a religion with 2-week-long holidays? That might work better for us.

Above those is some expired Costco kale salad, which I was eating at an inordinate rate earlier this year. Well, the bloom is off the rose (or the kale, really), and this stuff is often found decomposing in the fridge. But do I feel guilty? No, I do not. We are returning it to the soil from whence it came, where i…

Youth Is Wasted On The Wrong People

So, yeah, busy weekend, right? Parties, tree, baking, lego meetings...

That's right - on the busiest Saturday of the year, I had to spend 6 hours at a lego user group (LUG) meeting. At least I got a lot of knitting done. Also? Great pizza.

I got home in time to barricade the master bathroom against sabotage, because, yes, it was time for us to attend our one adult cocktail party of the year and no, I wasn't going to let Larry start fixing the sink an hour before we had to be there. Not this year, anyway. So I made him wait until I was completely ready (meaning, finished swathing myself in spandex so my dress clothes would fit) before he could even gain access to the bedroom to get dressed himself.

At least I learn from past experience, right?

The party was great, as usual, even though it hurt to stand up because my shoes were too tight, and it hurt to sit down because of the Spanx-type thingy squeezing my middle, so I spent a lot of the evening perfecting my leaning-against-a-…

Not Dead Yet

Oh, hey, hi! Man, it's dusty around here.  Let me just move some of this old clutter around and limber up my mouse fingers a bit...

Ah, there we are. Whew! A whole week - where have I been? Knitting, mostly. Watching Star Wars trailers. Being bumped off the computer by Larry, who went into full spreadsheet mode while trying to decide on a new computer monitor for our desktop...

Oh, yes, he did. Our monitor was 9 years old, which is approximately Stone Age in computer years, and it was a weird square shape with not-so-great resolution, so - instead of walking into Best Buy and picking up the newest and shiniest one that was on sale, the way I would have - he spent untold hours and pixels researching, cataloguing, comparing and contrasting, and discussing (with David, not me, thank you Lord) the merits and drawbacks of the various models. He kept trying to draw me into this decision-making vortex, but - as I had no real opinions other than "big" and "no fuzz on the pi…


I spent this past Sunday morning at the local yoga center. As I headed home at 1, my head was full of plans to make latkes for the first night of Chanukah that evening. It would take most of the afternoon, sure, even if I did use a mix; but that's what you have to do when you're Jewish. Oy, how we suffer...

When I got home, however, I found Larry in the kitchen, surrounded by apples. Peeled apples, chopped apples, apple peels, apple cores - there was a huge bowl of sliced apples, plus a smaller one. Larry was assiduously slicing MORE apples and placing them on a plate that was balanced on my yarn scale.

"Um..." I began, not sure where to start.

"I KNOW what I'm DOING," Larry said, as he continued to slice and weigh.

"Okay," I said. "Just, what are you making? Pie?"

"Yes!" said Larry, proudly. "Pie!"

"A lot of pie?" I couldn't help asking. Really, there were enough apples sliced up for 10 pies, at le…

Lemonade Out Of (Moldy) Lemons

Perhaps some of you wonder whether or not I clean out my fridge anymore. After all, there haven't been any posts featuring long-expired leftovers in a long time.  I'll tell you the truth: for a while there, I just gave up. Occasionally Larry, in a fit of desperation, would rummage through the fridge and get rid of things that looked suspect, but on the whole things have been left to run amok, as it were.

But all that has changed, people. No longer do I have items sitting in my refrigerator for months; no longer is the entire back third of that particular appliance given over to what we euphemistically referred to as "science experiments." No, a new day has dawned in The More, The Messier household, an era of good feeling, if you will - and it only costs me $25 a month.

You see, someone tipped me off that there was a new composting service in town - that is, for a monthly fee, this company would pick up all of my organic-matter refuse and turn it into dirt. The compan…

Girl Power

Quickly, because I am supposed to be in bed now...

We had a fine, uneventful Thanksgiving, thank you. Of course, if Larry had had his way, it would have been more complicated.  You see, as the girls and I were working in the kitchen Thursday morning, Larry appeared in the dining room. He was carrying a drop cloth and paint brushes.

Seriously, people, at 10:30 on Thanksgiving morning.

Susie and Rachel and I stared at him. "What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm going to paint that door frame."

"No. You're not."

"I HAVE to. It's required by the door warranty," he said, attempting to make room for his painting stuff next to the already set dining room table.

Let's review: the french doors were installed around 2 months ago. 2 MONTHS. Moreover, Thanksgiving Day is followed by 3 days in which Larry could paint that door frame at his leisure. Does anyone else see the pattern here? Remember the bathroom sink incident before the cocktail par…

Gonna Cook Like It's 1999

Yesterday? I cooked.  Today? I cooked. Tomorrow? I will cook some more. I swear, I have no idea why this Thanksgiving thing is so much work.  After all, it is just DINNER. Once this holiday is over, I am breaking up with my kitchen.  This is just too much.

Also, I forgot that I had promised Just Mercy to someone! And no one reminded me.  Around my house, EVERYONE knows they have to remind me to do things.  Anyway, I somehow managed to remember (naturally, at 2 AM); so I hauled out my trusty ol' Random Number Generator (just kidding, I Googled it), put in my numbers, and let 'er spin.  The winning number was 8, which means commenter Gail has won the book. Gail, I don't have your contact info, so if you see this, please email me with your address, etc.

Tonight Rachel is at her very first real babysitting job.  It is hard to believe that when I first started this blog, she was a toilet-stuffing, stuffed-animal-decapitating whirling dervish of a 4-year-old. For her sake, I sur…

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Well! Here it is, the holiday season, when everyone focuses on gifts and food and decorations and general good cheer. It's that time of year when we are grateful for what we have and are eager to share our bounty with others, all while partying down to the end of yet another year.

Unless, of course, you're a hypochondriac.  In which case, you spend this time of year much as you spent the first 11 months of it - anxiously scanning the Internet for more news that will confirm your suspicion that we are all going to die horribly and soon.

Yeah, put that in a carol and sing it, will ya?

So here is the latest round-up, for those of you less vigilant about our coming collective demise. First, yet another article from Slate about how bacteria are all becoming antibiotic resistant; in the not-so-distant future, apparently, a cut finger will spell gangrene and maybe even death (if you're one of those wimps too slow to opt for amputation). Merry Christmas! But be careful washing th…

Flour And Sugar And Butter, Oh My!

What's up? Oh, nothing really. Just here to remind you to throw your name into the hat for a free copy of Just Mercy, an excellent non-fiction book about fighting for legal justice in the South. If you're interested, leave a comment on this blog post - I will pick a name on Saturday. Or maybe Sunday, if I'm too busy Saturday finishing up the last of the Bunko candy.

Hey, those peanut M&M's aren't going to eat themselves, you know.

The season of holiday baking has begun: today I helped Susie bake a batch of mini cranberry muffins to take to Activity Night, where they were sharing family holiday traditions.  Activity Night is a biweekly event she attends with a bunch of her LDS friends, because what better place is there for a Jewish/Catholic girl to be than at a Mormon youth group?

We take being ecumenical VERY seriously here.

Then Rachel decided she was bored and needed to bake mini peach pies to pass the time.  Who am I to deny her that pleasure, especially si…


Just Mercy (the book I blogged about on Thursday) is now up for grabs, people.  Just throw your name in the hat, as it were, by commenting.  I will pick a winner on Saturday. This book, about a lawyer's untiring work for racial justice in the South, is definitely a worthwhile read, although now it has me panicked about David being in school in Alabama.  By some strange genetic throw of the dice, David - son of an Ashkenazi Jew and a father who is half Irish Catholic/half WASP - is dark-complected enough to look as though he hails from the Middle East somewhere. After reading this book (and after reading about Alabama's reaction to the sad events in Paris on Friday), it is all I can do not to pick up the phone and say to David, "DO NOT LEAVE CAMPUS FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER."  So far I have restrained myself. So far.

Theo is in the military, and I have never - for any reason - felt the need to warn him of danger, not even when he traveled to Morocco and to Jordan. Ann…

Brain Food

I'm still sick, in case you're wondering.  And the kids just finished off the Bunko leftovers. For dinner, I had to augment with some free subs from Harris Teeter.  Free, because we've racked up a lot of sub points by buying their subs.

How many times can I use the word "subs"?

I am still coughing, still feeling as though I will pass out when I forget and just run up the stairs.  Still sleeping on the couch so I don't disturb Larry. Still sucking on Ricola cough drops and praying I don't start throwing up the way Rachel did.

So, yeah, a fun week...

On the bright side, what with lying around on the couch most of Tuesday and Wednesday and today, I've gotten a lot of (non-Facebook) reading done. My brain had felt as though it were getting too thin, what with the steady Internet diet I feed it, so I procured 2 intelligent, non-fiction books (complete with paragraphs of more than 3 sentences apiece) and have been forcing myself to read them. One of the bo…

Shades of Faust

"I'm home tomorrow," Larry announced last night, as he stood up and stretched after watching the debates with us.

"What, why?" I asked, seeing my peaceful plans of eating leftover Bunko candy while ignoring the children going right out the window.

"Veteran's Day, remember?" he said. "You should remember."

"Veteran's Day?" piped up Susie. (Yes, she was still awake at 11 - she had watched the debates with us, because civics. Or something like that.) "That means we get the free Bloomin' Onion, right?"

Larry made a face. "That's not necessary," he said.

"Why not?" asked Susie, disappointed.

"It's demeaning, waiting there for a free food hand-out - that's not what our military service was about!" he told her.

"But, Bloomin' Onions!" insisted Susie.

"Hey," I told Larry, who looked annoyed at our youngest's willingness to sell her dignity for a fre…

Totally Out Of Post Titles, Sorry

See? Over to the side there? The "About Me" section? The last age just turned over for the year - Theo, our first-born, is now 24.  Theo's birthday is a special one, because he is the one who made me a mom.  So there you are - I've been doing this mom thing for 24 years now.

Don't you like how I made Theo's birthday all about me? I'm sure he appreciates that.

But seriously, I look back and think, that poor kid. Essentially, the hospital let 2 only nominally adult people - people who did not know how to change a diaper and couldn't even keep a houseplant alive - take home a 2-day-old baby. How insane is that? An innocent newborn, totally at the mercy of our ineptitude. It's a miracle he ever made it to adulthood.

So, thanks, Theo, for letting us learn the ropes with you. I'm sure your siblings thank you, also.

That flu thing I had on Friday went away and was replaced with a horrid sore throat that gets worse at night and keeps me from sleeping.…

A Disenchanted Evening

So! Those of you who follow this blog's Facebook page already know that the stomach virus fairy visited our house yesterday. Rachel was the lucky chosen one (so far) who got to throw up repeatedly and lie on the bathroom floor wailing, "Why me?" Caring, maternal person that I am, I took advantage of what I saw as a teachable moment to say, "This is what happens if you drink too much at college, you know."

Really, that was the first thing that popped into my mind.  What is wrong with me?

To keep Rachel company, I came down with some ache-y, flu-y thing that same day. Now, I am not a pleasant person to be around when ill. I get depressed and irritable (a situation not helped in the least by having to watch someone barf several times). I also get weepy.  So when a neighbor texted me from Target and asked if I needed anything, followed by my yoga teacher volunteering to work the desk at the yoga center for me on Saturday morning, I became positively maudlin, wailin…

Halloween Hangover

Halloween stats (several days late):

44 bags of candy handed out
3 trick-or-treaters: a pirate (Susie, and a very cute pirate she was), a black widow spider, and a reluctant teenage bat (Brian, who realized at the last minute he wanted some candy)
1 mom (that would be, uh, moi) who kept all the short, chewy strawberry Twizzlers for herself
8 costumed neighbors who attended our candy-swap party after the main event

All in all, it was your typical Halloween around here. We're still eating candy, although the girls are being remarkably selfish about their KitKats this year.  You know, you think you're raising them right, and then reality just up and smacks you in the head.

But that's okay, I just wrote them both out of the will.

Larry has suddenly become interested in all the various little campers I've been looking at for the past year or so: the Little Guy, the Happier Camper, the Alto.  It might have something to do with the fact that we actually lost a little piece of ou…

All Spun Up

Today I dragged Susie and my awesomely fit friend to a beginning spin class.  No, no, not the bicycle kind - that would be exhausting. This class was for learning to spin roving (fleece, wool, whatever) into yarn.

You know, because I don't have enough to do.

It was a lot of fun, actually.  Fun to learn something new, fun to talk with interesting new people (the instructor is also a potter), fun to introduce my daughter to more fiber-related activities.

And then I came home and fed everyone leftovers for dinner.  Because that's how it's going to be around here from now on, I'm guessing, what with my needing to braid rugs and spin yarn and, oh yeah, knit. Particularly if I manage to land that job in January.  Of course, there are always those cheap Harris Teeter subs...

Almond Joys Are Calling My Name

Harris Teeter has $5 subs all week.  I swear, I don't know why I bother to cook anymore.

Rachel made her own costume this year. Determined to be a black widow spider (no, I don't know why, let's not dwell on that), she designed the legs (black stockings filled with batting) and the hourglass shape on her belly (red felt) all by herself. We're ahead of the game here, costume-wise, as she has already had 2 Halloween parties to attend. In fact, both occurred yesterday, and boy was that fun, what with her costume not being finished until noon (first party was at noon-thirty) and her needing to bake something for each event. Hell hath no fury like a teen girl intent on socializing, obstacles be damned.

You know, I don't think I EVER went to a Halloween party.  So that's the question of the day: are there more Halloween parties than there used to be, say, in the 1970s? Or was I just a friendless loser? Or both?

Discuss.  I need to get back to not eating the two huge …

A Sign Unto You

I was walking out of ChikFilA today when I saw my first sure sign of the impending holidays - a poster announcing their Operation Christmas Child - you know, that thing where you fill shoeboxes with small gifts and useful items for underprivileged children overseas and bring them in to a local ChikFilA?  In exchange, you receive a coupon for a free chicken sandwich.

Free, as in pretty darn expensive, actually, what with shipping costs and all, but hey - CHARITY.

Anyway, this has always been a good way to show my kids that not everyone in the world has the lifestyle we take for granted here. The girls and I head over to Michaels clutching our 30%-off-entire-purchase coupon and a list of suggested gifts, where we have a grand old time choosing items and figuring out if they will fit in the box. We talk about why some gifts are better than others and what the recipient's lives are like. Educational! Then we go home, pack the boxes, bring them to the restaurant on the appointed day, …

Feeling Festive

You know, being as short as I am, I hate crowds; and being a generally irritable person, I am bored to death at festivals. I hate walking around and looking at things, I hate waiting in line, I hate having to stay vivacious and engaged for prolonged periods of time. It's just all too hard for someone like myself. And, of course, where I live, any festival held at a fairgrounds is more an endurance test than anything else, what with the humidity and the mosquitoes that are common during summer and fall. Everyone walks around pretending to enjoy themselves, but - to my mind - the looks on their faces would be more suitable to the Bataan death march than to a festival.

I know, I am a FUN person.

So, I was worried about Rhinebeck.  I worried I would hate it. I was worried I would drive hundreds of miles and sleep in a stranger's house only to feel bored to death by the whole sheep-and-wool thing.  I worried about making Larry take a day off work just so I could drive hundreds of m…


At Knit Night a couple of months ago, I heard the leader of our group mention that she had used Airbnb to rent an inexpensive room in a house near Rhinebeck. Wow, I thought, she's older than me.  Isn't Airbnb something for young folks?  She added that there were still other rooms available in that same house. I don't understand quite how it happened, but I went home that evening and, stepping FAR outside my comfort zone, committed to staying in a room in a house owned by a person whom I had never met, a room that slept 3.  Then I texted my friend who was out of town for work and told her where we were going the third weekend of October.  After that, I messaged Auntie Kate and explained that she would be meeting the two of us at Rhinebeck.

It was that simple.  I was really going to Rhinebeck.

Confused? Rhinebeck is shorthand for the one of the biggest sheep-and-wool festivals in the US. It is, quite simply, 2 fiber-filled days in that autumnal utopia otherwise known as ups…

Larry's Really Fun Life

We're having an appliance mutiny of sorts, here.  Early last week, as documented in these pages, our dishwasher caught fire, and then this past weekend, the clothes dryer joined in on the pyrotechnic fun.  Luckily, we smelled the smoke from where we were sitting in the living room and managed to turn it off before the house burned down.

So Larry got to spend his day off on Monday taking apart the dryer and the long pipe leading to the outside vent and declogging everything of lint.  This is one of his favorite tasks, second only to cleaning piles of bat guano from between the walls. He stopped his labors long enough to drive Theo back to the airport and then - for some reason - decided to go to his office.  Probably to get some rest.

So the dryer worked all of one day, but now it has no hot air.  Something is either wrong with the circuit board or else Larry managed to knock the moisture sensor loose while he was cleaning the lint out from around the drum. Hey, I can Google with t…


Today is Larry's birthday and, as is my wont, I was having a hard time finding a good present for him.  He doesn't really have any hobbies (I mean, aside from destroying our home and drinking coffee and beer). One year, in desperation, we bought him a shredder. I know, sad.

We buy him candy, and he doesn't eat it.  One year, we bought him chocolate-covered espresso beans (coffee AND chocolate), and those are still sitting in the cabinet.  All he likes are Altoids and TicTacs, and damned if I'm buying those for him again.

I just made Larry sound like the least fun person in the entire world.  But, seriously, what sort of person prefers Altoids and TicTacs to normal candy?

So, yeah, I was stuck. Until I got an idea.  An awesome idea.  You see, Theo hasn't been home since last Christmas, and Larry misses him.  So Theo agreed to use his 4-day pass to fly home and surprise his father this weekend.

The surprise is what makes it fun, folks.  That's what I learned this…

Going Round In Circles

Today, a friend volunteered to take my girls to a local fall farm festival thing - you know, the kind with corn mazes and big slides and pumpkins and LOTS OF PEOPLE.  I did it myself once, years ago (come to think of it, I took someone else's child that time, along with my own), and I swore never to go again. Did I mention LOTS OF PEOPLE?

So let's hear it for good friends willing to take one for the team, okay? The girls were thrilled and came home carrying the mini pumpkins each ticket holder receives. I was thrilled because I didn't have to pretend to be having fun for 4 hours. It was a win-win.  Well, except for my friend, I guess.  But I'll make it up to her, I promise.

Oh, hey, I just realized, another friend took my girls last year.  Okay, so all my acquaintances know that I am so lazy, my girls would never have fun if they didn't step up.  What of it?

And what did I do with my afternoon off?  Did I scrub the refrigerator? Did I catch up on laundry? Did I may…

O, Captain!

As those of you who have liked this blog's Facebook page already know, our secondhand dishwasher gave up the ghost last night.  I came home around 10 to find Brian and Larry staring sadly at the soot-covered, silent appliance which had become such an important part of our lives over the past 4 years. An acrid burning smell filled the kitchen.

"What happened?" I cried, rushing to our fallen comrade, as Larry just stood there, shaking his head.

"It's gone," he said. "It's gone."

"Not necessarily," I said, determined to hold onto my dream - you know, that one where dishes are washed at the touch of a button? And no one bickers?  "Maybe something fell through onto the heat element," I suggested.  "Remember the chopstick incident?"

"Mom," said Brian, patiently, "it's too late. Something burned out. We need to let it go."

"No!" I said, yanking open the blackened door and peering inside.…