Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Which Year?

Stop the presses!

That makes no sense in the Internet age, does it? But stop them anyway. June over at Bye-Bye Pie has alerted me to an all-important issue. Not just an everyday issue, right, June? Nor even an everyyear issue.

What will we be saying just a little over 24 hours from now? Hmmm? Or, more to the point, what should we be saying? Think about it.

Happy Two Thousand and Ten?


Happy Two Thousand Ten?


Happy Twenty Ten?

This happens to be the biggest year-changing issue we've had since Y2K; and I, for one, am appalled that our president is lolling on a beach in Hawaii rather than winging his way back to the Oval Office when this sort of controversy is raging. Does Obama really think that his Year-Naming Czar (he has one, doesn't he?) will bother to take care of this issue on his own? I mean, everyone knows (and by everyone, I mean this armchair president here) that phoning in from Hawaii just won't do. According to her, there's "a lot less pressure when the boss is away."

Honey, what do you think your supervisor thought when he read that line? Hmmm?

Personally? I can't imagine how a phone call from the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES wouldn't be a pretty darn good motivating factor in and of itself. I'm a tad irresponsible myself when it comes to my household duties. Look in on me any afternoon around 4 PM and I'm goofing off checking out the latest at the Women's Colony whilst my children play unattended outside. Dinner's not a-cookin', laundry's not a-washin', g's are being dropped everywhere....

So! Let's imagine the phone rings.


"Please hold for the President of the United States." (Sound of surf pounding in the background)

I'm thinking I would immediately get off the computer and haul my butt into the kitchen, don't you? I wouldn't wait for the guy (or maybe his wife) to show up at my door to start looking busy. But then again, Cabinet-level appointees probably aren't as responsible as little ol' me. Nope. Slackers, every one of them. As soon as Obama leaves town, I bet their feet are up on their desks and they're spending their workdays trolling Facebook for old high school sweethearts. That Clinton chick? She just looks like a self-starter.

Janet Napolitano probably didn't even know about the would-be terrorist airplane bombing until she was asked to be a Fan of Jasper Schuringa. When the cat's away...

So, Mr. President! You need to get back home and answer the question - which is it?

A. Two Thousand and Ten

Two Thousand Ten

Twenty Ten

Our country awaits your decision...

(Feel free to vote in the comments, you non-POTUSes out there)

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Knitter's Christmas

I know! I haven't been around much. I've been obsessed by a handwarmer pattern in Chic Knits for Young Chicks - I had to reknit them a few times (altering the pattern) to get them to suit. See? Over there to the right? I actually finished them. I rarely finish things. Now I can type on my laptop in our freezing cold Starbucks without my fingers going numb.

And my socks! I'm still working on my purple Donegal socks. And the baby hat for my friend's one-year-old....and a poncho for Rachel. Of course, I ended up spending hours on Ravelry updating my projects file and researching patterns. For you non-knitters out there? A knitter cannot think of a more fun way to spend her Christmas. Strange, but true.

At the bookstore where I worked last year, we had 2 people who always hung out there (and never bought anything) that we called Boris and Natasha. She was Ukrainian, and he looked exactly like Boris. Freaky.

Why am I sharing this? Because we gave the kids 2 Rocky and Bullwinkle DVD's for Christmas. I don't know if they like them, but I can't get enough of Boris and Natasha myself.

We stuck to our tradition of watching It's A Wonderful Life on Christmas Day. Have I ever mentioned how much I love that movie? I mean, aside from the scene where Donna Reed is putting up wallpaper with 4 little ones underfoot, which is still a teeny-tiny bone of contention in our marriage. Larry and I are good at arguing over fictional characters like that.

Uncle Matt (who drove down with Grandpa on Christmas Day) arrived during the movie and said, "I've never seen this." The man's 50 years old. Where the hell has he been the past half a century?

That's me and Larry and 4 of our kids. Really. I look just like that. I mean, when I'm not looking like Mary Tyler Moore on the old Dick van Dyke show.

We all need our little fantasies, don't we?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Comic Relief

Thanks, Vodkamom, for sharing this comedy routine with all of us today! I don't know who this woman is, but I love her.

Back tomorrow, once I get over my current knitting jag...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Food Fight

As promised earlier this week, I am here to discuss why the Brits are mad at us (again). Long-time readers of this blog know that I am somewhat of a go-to blogger on any chocolate-related matters. It all started last year, when I alerted my readership to the threat of a potential candy bar shortage. Not only did I go on to decry the dangerous trend of gentrifying our chocolates, but I was also the blogger who revealed health care reform's hidden chocolate agenda.

You're welcome.

So! I feel it is my duty to inform you that we are facing an England-US dust-up which could make the Revolutionary War look like a lovers' quarrel. Apparently, the Brits are accusing the Americans of trying to take over their chocolate. That's right - both Kraft and Hershey are interested in acquiring Cadbury, the darling of the British chocolate industry.

What's wrong with that, you say? According to the Brits, just about everything. Apparently, our former fellow-countrymen believe that our chocolate confections are inferior to theirs. In fact, this article claims that they regard our beloved Hershey bars as tasting like "a mixture of soap powder and baby vomit."

Really, gentlemen! Tell us how you feel. Don't hold back.

Next thing you know, the Brits will be sneaking down to London harbor (if such a place exists) in the dark of night and throwing cases of Hershey bars overboard. Do we really want things to come to such a pass? Are we prepared to let our 2 countries be at odds for years or decades over such a matter? Remember - if we fight over chocolate, the terrorists win.

That's what I've heard, anyway.

Is Cadbury chocolate the taste of British childhood? Does Hershey market a product that tastes like baby vomit? Chocolatiers, spare the world the confectionery carnage of an international food fight by letting this impartial chocolate-blogging expert be the judge.

Send me a case of your finest confections. After sampling the chocolate-y concoctions, carefully, over a matter of weeks (well, maybe just days - I don't have much restraint), I'll get back to you (and the rest of the world) on their relative quality and pleasure-inducing potential. I will see to it that this matter is settled without bloodshed or violence.

I envision myself as the Mahatma Gandhi of chocolate. Except, um, not as skinny...and without the hunger strikes, of course....

Monday, December 21, 2009

Moral Dilemma

Larry and I finally made it to Target today, in a desperate bid to catch up on our long-forestalled Christmas shopping. We headed straight to the Nerf gun aisle, where I had seen Brian salivating over the N-Strike Maverick model with the rotating barrel. I put the coveted toy in my cart (only 10 bucks!) and then turned my attention to the display of ammunition refills.

"Hmmm, I don't know," I said to Larry. "Should we get the refill with 25 darts and the thing you sling over your shoulder to hold them?"

"The bandolier?" he said. "You can get a bandolier for Nerf darts?"

"Is that what it's called? I don't know if I like the look. Maybe I should just get the refill darts alone?"

"But those other refills don't have suction cups; it's velcro instead."

"Aaargh!" I said, staring at the packages of ammunition in my hands. "Why can't this be simpler? I don't know which to get!"

"Well," said Larry, "It is for Christmas. What would Jesus do?"

Good question...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

An Amazon Christmas

Some readers thought I was griping about the impending snowstorm in my last post. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love snow. We rarely get "real" snow. I was more excited than my kids were. I'm a poor writer if anyone came away with a different impression. My apologies.

The snowstorm lived up to its hype, by the way. Totally terrific. Sledding, shoveling, hot cocoa, fresh cinnamon was Norman Rockwell world around here for the past couple of days.

Well, except for that cop brandishing a loaded weapon at the snowball fight...apparently, light-hearted, child-like merriment stresses him out.

But, as some of you may recall, I had vowed to not do anything for Christmas until after the 15th of December. Having a natural knack for procrastination, this goal was not hard to achieve. And normally there would be nothing wrong with leaving all one's holiday shopping for the last weekend before Christmas, a weekend which usually does not include a freak December snowstorm - a snowstorm large enough, in fact, to shut down Target, and Michael's, and BooksAMillion.

Yes, I know - I am such an extravagant shopper.

All of which is to explain my post title. Imagine my joy to discover that guarantees standard-shipping delivery by 24 December. Good through the 21st, fellow foolhardy procrastinators! Hurry!


Stay tuned tomorrow to learn why the Brits are mad at us American barbarians again...

[picture of cinnamon rolls courtesy of The Prepared Pantry]

Friday, December 18, 2009

7 Quick Takes: Let It Snow Edition

  1. Snow is predicted here for tomorrow. Around here, getting snow at all is an exciting event. Snow which covers the grass is stupendous. Tomorrow? One to two feet of the blessed white stuff is predicted for our area. The kids are over the moon.
  2. Snow is predicted here for tomorrow. Tomorrow just so happens to be Saturday, when everyone does their grocery shopping. Naturally, they all decided to put it off until Monday.
  3. Ha, ha, no, they didn't. This afternoon, every person living within a 5-mile radius of my local Harris Teeter showed up there at the very same time. I grabbed the last shopping cart.
  4. The Christmas pageant was this evening. Susie sang along with all the songs even though she wasn't in it. While she sang, she played with my hair. My heart melted all over my seat.
  5. Have I mentioned the snow?
  6. I thought so.
  7. One to two feet, people!
If you're tired of hearing about wintry precipitation, you can head on over to the host of 7 Quick Takes - living in Texas as she does, she talks about scorpion encounters instead.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chappy Chanukah!

I've been so busy talking about paint colors, and Irish Christmas music, and Christmas preparations (or my lack thereof), you would think that I had forgotten my roots.

Nope. Much as Christians this time of year become embroiled in discussions of the true meaning of Christmas (when they aren't trampling each other in an attempt to get those Black Friday specials at WalMart), Jewish people spend December arguing (because that's what we do best) over the proper spelling of Chanukah/Hanukah/Hanukkah/Chanukka. It's an age-old question that has stumped the best minds of our (Chosen) People. I'm sure even Maimonides spent his Decembers scratching his head in puzzlement over the orthography of our Festival of Lights. Let's face it - you can't be called the People of the Book and not even know how to spell your own holidays.

I'm babbling here.

We're celebrating Chanukah here this Sunday. What? It ends this Saturday? Darn. It seems that 8 days was not enough for me to be able to make those latkes (or as John Oliver calls them, hash browns) on time. 8 days, 10 days - when your religion is over 3000 years old, do a couple of days more or less really matter?

Oh, and here is what I am not doing this year...

Anyone who can rhyme "Rosh Hashana" and "Arizona" is all right in my book - and I don't care how he spells it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Haul Out The Holly...

I have held true to my promise - not one thing have I yet done to prepare for the upcoming Yuletide festivities. Not one decoration put up, not a single gift purchased, not even a card sent out.

I won't lie to you - it's been a little difficult, watching items disappearing off Target shelves over the past week and feeling the available days before Christmas melting faster than an ice cube on a flaming stove. But I have held fast to my principle of saving Christmas for Christmas; and now here it is December 14th, my last day of freedom from the expectations of this demanding season. Tomorrow it will be time to start making lists, gathering presents, planning menus...

All of which makes me wonder whether this procrastination-on-purpose experiment was a good idea. And I'm feeling the beginnings of a sore throat coming on....wouldn't that make the next 10 days interesting?

I'll tell you the truth - at this point, I don't even know where to begin. Maybe I'll wait until next week - this week is sort of busy anyway. Yeah, that's it - next week...

Couldn't get this tune out of my head all day...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wherein I Eat Copious Amounts Of Crow

Anyone remember this post, wherein I lamented Larry's poor listening and paint-choosing skills? Yeah, that one - the one where I criticized my husband's paint selection to the entire Internet? After our mandatory week-long cooling off period, Larry and I showed Anna the paint color strip and said, "Honey, which of these colors did you want for your room?" Great care was taken to shield her from any knowledge of which paint color Larry had so foolishly purchased. This experiment was undertaken at Larry's insistence, since he refused to admit that he was wrong, refused to admit that we had both selected Feathery Lilac and not Free Spirit and yet he brought home Free Spirit anyway.

So I presented the color strip to Anna, confident in my assumption that she would affirm not only our Feathery Lilac selection but also Larry's terrible wrongness in not admitting to his mistake. She's my daughter, after all; I know what she likes; and Larry, truth to tell, is a guy - a guy so color-blind he doesn't even know whether he is wearing green or blue. How could he ever differentiate between Feathery Lilac and Free Spirit, anyway?

We all know where this is going, right?

Anna chose Free Spirit. And Larry? Vindicated is not strong enough a word for how he is feeling right now. Smug? Beyond that. According to Larry, he has won a victory for henpecked husbands everywhere, for men like my friend "Harry" who refuses to start a blog (c'mon, Harry!), so I get to steal his words and use them here:

[I] know what I would pick is never going to be chosen by "the committee" so it makes it hard to pay attention and remember which of the many "lilacs" is finally chosen, especially since there are various choices along the way that seem "final." "Ours not to reason why..."

"Ours not to reason why..." - the lament of beleaguered husbands everywhere, I'm sure. Well, today, gentlemen, you can hold your heads high and walk into paint stores without fear, and without "a paint chip in hand initialled by every member of the Paint Color and Wallcovering Selection Committee (PCWCS)" (Harry's words again). Larry has made one small step toward getting our daughter's room painted and one large step for married-mankind.

Now if he would just wipe that irritating grin off his face...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Perils of Paint

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how yesterday's elegy to (for?) Liam Clancy degenerated into a discussion on kitchen cleaning in the comments. Are you people paying attention?

And a friend did a little research and informed me that that bargain bin Clancy Brothers Christmas CD of mine is worth 50 dollars online. Who knew? Larry remains unimpressed. He is a Clancy Brothers refusenik.


Inspired by our bedroom rearranging, Larry and I decided to paint Anna's new room. As anyone who remembers the striped walls of 2007 can attest, Larry and I should not be allowed to choose paint colors together. This episode was no exception. After researching different shades of lavender on the web and finally agreeing on the correct color, Larry hurried to the paint store to pick up a gallon before it closed for the weekend.

He returned triumphant, with paint and primer (tinted to the paint color) and all manner of painting paraphernalia, happy in the knowledge that this was one household project he could knock out the next day. Happy, that is, until I told him he got the wrong shade. Too dark. Not the one we had picked out together just an hour before.

We didn't talk to each other for an hour. And then, only when we had to. Divorce lawyers did not get involved simply because we are too embarrassed to allow the words "Joyful Lilac" and "Feathery Lilac" to appear in the court documents.

Anyone need some purple paint?

[photo lifted from Foolproof Tips to Pick a Color Palette, a blog post obviously not written by yours truly]

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Buala Bas and RIP Liam Clancy

As noted in my profile here, I'm a fan of the music of Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers. Upon hearing that, people are always offering/suggesting to me other great Irish music bands that they think I'll love. But I don't. I don't like any of them. I'm just a one-Irish-band sort of lass.

And now, alas, the sole surviving Clancy Brother has been called to the heavenly choir. RIP Liam Clancy - you always did have the voice of an angel (a carousing sort of angel, but an angel nonetheless). I think I may have to insist on having your Christmas CD playing for an extra month this year, as a sort of tribute to the passing of greatness. Sorry, Larry...

But let me explain...

15 years ago (long before YouTube and ITunes gave us easy access to the music we love), I happened across The Clancy Brothers Christmas CD in a bargain bin at Caldor's. It has become one of my favorite CD's of all time. Unfortunately, I have married someone who does not share my love of all things Makem and Clancy; so Larry and I had to strike a deal: the CD comes out at the beginning of Advent and then gets put away no later than 6 January. That means that, between 6 January and Advent, Larry is not forced to listen to songs of drunken Christmas revelry with lyrics like "Pass the porter, pass the beer - Christmas comes but once a year!"

The CD is not all depravity and debauchery, you know. It also has one of the most beautiful renditions of "Silent Night" you will ever hear. And? My kids are the only children I know who can sing "Jingle Bells" in Gaelic.

And now your kids can too. I'm thrilled to have found this on YouTube:


Monday, December 07, 2009

Dial M...

When I'm not threatening to kill people in public places, I'm at home plotting the demise of household appliances. Currently, I am in the process of murdering my 26-year-old stove. I have no choice, really, but to put it out of it's misery, because the darn thing refuses to die. Instead, it limps along with 4 ridiculously fussy burners - one of which will only heat up if I turn it to high first. Then it stays on high come hell or high water. No matter that I've dialed it down to medium, or low, or even warm - whatever is cooking there bubbles madly away as though possessed.

Naturally, many delectable stews and soups inadvertently boil over on this burner and, quite frankly, I'm tired of cleaning it up. So I don't. Which explains why it is now prone to catch fire and I don't care.

Case in point: I turned on the burner to heat up some chicken soup yesterday. Then I left the kitchen. Larry was in there and I heard him yell, "Whoa! Fire!" I ignored him. He came out of the kitchen and said, "Honey, the burner's on fire in there!"

I don't know why he sounded surprised. Doesn't he read my blog?

So he dumped some baking soda on the fire and extinguished it. He came back to me and said, "The burner was on fire in there, but I put it out."

"That's good. Put the pot on the other burner, okay?"

"That was quite a fire!"

He just can't let this go, can he?

"Yeah, I know. Happens all the time. Something must have spilled on the burner yesterday."

"Guess we'll have to clean that up!"



"No. I'll just use the other burners. I'm sick of that burner."

Here's where we have to give Larry some credit. He dropped the subject.

That's one burner down, three to go...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Different Jokes For Different Folks

We knitters have a joke. Sometimes you'll see it on a T-shirt:

I knit so I don't kill someone.

If you're an impatient type of person, you'll understand that joke. When I'm in a doctor's waiting room, or waiting for a dental cleaning, or even sitting in the pharmacy for a few minutes, knitting is what keeps me from pacing around the room like a caged tiger.

Actually, sometimes I knit and pace. I'm tightly wound like that.

So I was knitting on a scarf while waiting in line yesterday at the post office, whereto I had blithely journeyed, completely forgetting that it is DECEMBER - the month when everyone on earth goes to my local post office to mail packages in preparation for the yuletide festivities. There were 20 people ahead of me in line.

I knit. I stayed calm. I didn't think about the 4 young ones I had left to fend for themselves at home, I didn't think about the dinner I was not starting to cook, I didn't think about anything except knit 2, knit back, purl one - over and over and over.

Soothing. Peaceful. Meditative. No one gets hurt.

Ahead of me was an older woman with a package addressed to an APO box. Being terminally extroverted, I had to strike up a conversation (while I knit, of course): "Where's he stationed?" I asked.

"Iraq," she said, "he just got there."

"Son? Grandchild?"

"It's my nephew, actually.

Looking a tad uncomfortable with being accosted by a stranger who was reading her package address, she still attempted to return the courtesy and said, "What lovely knitting! That's a good idea, with this long line and all."

And, trying to be amusing, I said, "Yes. I knit so I don't kill someone."

How to describe the look of alarm that crossed this woman's face? It was, let's say, a look that made me realize what this poor lady was seeing. What she was seeing was a maniacally-smiling stranger holding two sharp sticks (Harmony circulars, no less - handy for stabbing or strangling!) - a stranger who was violating all rules of proper line conduct by reading the addresses on other people's packages and asking for personal details of their lives.

In short, she was looking into the face of crazy. Postal, even...

She smiled nervously, turned around, and faced front.

While I kept knitting, sinister-like, behind her...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Role Reversal

Sometimes life is fair. Rarely does this occur, true - but it happens.

I was settling in at Starbucks this evening, plugging in my computer, ordering my hot chocolate. Aaaah! My cellphone rang. It was Larry, calling to tell me that I should pick up some ginger ale while I'm out.

Ginger ale. That can't be good.

"We have some in the pantry," I told him. "Did someone throw up?"

"Yeah, Brian did," he said. "So, uh, I guess I'll just, uh, start cleaning up here..."

At this point, I confess, I almost offered to come home. Someone was sick! There was vomit to clean up! And then I remembered - I'm working. Wasn't the deal that whoever was out earning money was not required to come home and clean up the vomit? Wasn't that the arrangement I had abided by during the 17-year-long pukefest that has been our life with kids (at least up until July of 2008)? Heck, yeah.

"Well, have fun with that," I said. "See ya later."

Sorry, Larry.

[For you statistically-minded people, that was 508 days without a puking incident in our household - an all-time record.]

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Family Values

I guess I should have seen it coming. I mean, considering the gambling habits I foist on my children (on Thanksgiving, no less), I should have at least been on my guard. But no - I tend to forget that our family has gradually morphed into the weird variety, a far cry from the perfection I aspired to when I had but 2 wee ones to look after.

There I was at a girl scout meeting this afternoon, surrounded by wholesome homeschooled girls and their zealously nurturing mothers. I had to leave early with Susie, you see, as a dental appointment beckoned (I know! The excitement! How can y'all stand it?).

"C'mon, Susie," I coaxed. "Time to go home - David will play a game with you while I'm at the dentist."

"Game?" said Susie.

"Yes, a game! What do you want to play? Uno?"

I think I need to mention here that 4-year-old Susie has the lung capacity of an opera singer and the sort of volume that renders amplifying aids such as megaphones completely unnecessary.

"No!" she said, projecting her amazing voice throughout the entire meeting room. "I want to play POKER."

Precocious little thang, isn't she? We're right proud of her.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mistakes Not To Make

Well, one would think I would have learned from the trauma last year, would have known not to switch the kids' bedrooms around ever again.  But no!  The little girls requested that I take down their bunkbeds; and I was only too happy to agree, seeing as how I am too old and fat make up the top bunk properly and Rachel is too young to do it herself.

But that, you see, meant that the girls had to be moved to the bigger room.  They would have to switch rooms with Anna...Simple?  I think not.

Our upstairs right now looks as though the closets vomited all over the place.  Vomited shoes, clothes, forgotten art projects, shoes, school papers, tiny decorative boxes, hangers....have I mentioned shoes?  Half the stuff is in the right rooms.  Half isn't.  It is too late to go back and too daunting to move forward.  We are stuck.  Tell me, how many bobby pins does a teen girl need, anyway?  For that matter, how many hoodies?  And does a little girl really need a doll she never plays with?  You know, the one her Auntie gave to Big Sister years ago, complete with a handsewn wardrobe?

Can I confess something?  I shoved some stuffed animals in the trash earlier today (while the little girls were watching cartoons). The guilt is killing me.

I didn't even know their names.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kenny Rogers Would Understand

Have I mentioned that, when it comes to games, I'm a tad competitive? I've made Rachel cry at UNO; Larry's pathetic lack of interest in things like cards and backgammon and Yahtzee is a source of conflict in our marriage; and I've got an ineradicable need to win at Monopoly, due to my brother's never, ever losing a game to me while growing up. Given my proclivity for this sort of thing, it's no surprise that our family's peaceful Thanksgiving Day was made more complete (in my opinion) with a game of Texas Hold 'Em for me and the children. Because what's a holiday without a little gambling?

Brian, unfortunately, drove us all crazy by betting randomly, refusing to absorb any of the strategy of the game. He would put in 20 dollars, we'd all fold, and he'd win with literally nothing in his hand. I would call him a good bluffer, but he doesn't know enough about the game to do that. At the close of betting, he puts his hand down and asks, "Do I have anything?" I cannot believe this kid is my son.

4-year-old Susie, much to my disappointment, is a tad conservative. She folded with a pair of queens when she could have won the hand. Caught up in the excitement of the moment (see above re competitive), I yelled, "I can't believe you did that! Never fold with a pair of queens!" Which made Susie, in all her fat cuteness and her little girl tights and pretty party dress, cry. She cried. And cried. And cried. Big, fat, sloppy tears rolling down her cheeks and splashing on my hands while I begged her to stop before Larry heard her.

But she wouldn't stop, because she was so ashamed (I'm guessing) of her poor poker decision-making. Larry, however, (who did come running and witnessed her humiliation) seems to think that it had something to do with her mother traumatizing her.

Look, I don't care if she's only four. It's never too soon to know when to hold, know when to fold 'em...

What is it about that song, anyway? Gets me every time...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Day

I'm sorry, folks, but the activities of cooking and eating and making small children cry seem to have taken up all my waking hours the last few days.  Tomorrow, I promise, I'll be back to explain how I traumatized my 4-year-old so that she'll never play Texas Hold 'Em again.  In the meanwhile, enjoy:

I know we've all seen this already, but - for me - it never gets old.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Who's slacking? Could it be me? I'd like to say I didn't post this weekend because I was too busy cleaning the house; but, looking around me here, I'd have to say that couldn't be true. The past 2 days went by so fast, I don't even know what happened to them.

I know I didn't spend them buying a phone battery at Target, because our house phone is still running out of charge after each 4.8 seconds of use. If you call me, talk fast. And if you called and left a message? Forget it.

And wouldn't you know, it's Thanksgiving on Thursday! Maybe I should find a turkey somewhere. Although, really, the kids should be perfectly happy with just corn, right? Corn and pie. Harris Teeter has pies on sale.

There! That's taken care of. I'm nothing if not efficient.

Efficient and unrealistic...I decided our family needed to do something different today, something fun that would provide our children with fond memories of parents who were willing to abandon the drag of the daily routine and hop in the minivan in search of adventure. Have potty seat, will travel - that's us!

So we trekked almost an hour away to see a friend's son perform in The Music Man. Music! Dancing! Skittles at Intermission! The young'uns were enthralled. Then, as if that weren't adventure enough, we went back to the friend's house for dinner. Just like normal people who aren't totally overwhelmed by the day-to-day requirements of living with children! Of course, now we're exhausted; apparently Larry and I are too old to have fun anymore.

By the way, our friends had a Wii. This was exciting, because my kids had never seen one.

I know! We live in a cave.

Anyway, I had no idea you just plug the Wii into a TV to make it work. I thought it would be way more complicated than that. As in, input cables and ethernet cables and special electronic boxes and all that...

So the children were enthralled, and I was grateful that we adults were allowed to talk in peace. But, folks? You know, you folks who say that the Wii is good exercise for the kids? Get out of town. Every time I looked towards the den, I'd see my kids standing in front of the TV (hey, at least they were standing - is that what y'all are raving about?) and sort of waving their forearms around in the air. It looked very abnormal and not at all strenuous.

I'm thinking that we've lowered the bar on our definition of exercise these days.

[Wii image credit: Technology Universe]

Friday, November 20, 2009

7 Quick Takes: Better Late Than Never

35 minutes more, and Friday's over - I have to do this fast, because I don't know how to change that sign up there to 7 Quick Takes Saturday.

  1. Mrs. G has a post up at the Women's Colony in which she reminisces fondly about 8th-grade roller-skating nights.  I, too, remember going to the roller rink in 8th grade.  I managed to fall on my butt so hard that I must have bruised my tailbone.  All I know is that I could hardly walk and my mother had to write a note to get me excused from gym that Monday.  Whatever she wrote made the gym teacher laugh at me.  Thanks, Mom!
  2. I pulled out all the stops for dinner on Thursday:  I roasted 2 chickens, meticulously carved them up, made gravy from the drippings, and mashed my own potatoes.  At the last minute, I realized I had forgotten a vegetable and threw some frozen corn into the microwave.  Guess which item the children raved about?  That'll teach me to make an effort, won't it?
  3. Larry thought the above incident was very funny.  He kept saying throughout dinner, "Gee, honey, they really like that corn you made" and "Boy, this corn is delicious!"  I'm thinking that if he didn't have me around, he'd have to amuse himself by going downtown and kicking homeless people lying on the sidewalk.
  4. Larry would never kick a homeless person.  I am in no way advocating the abuse of homeless people.  #4 is an example of hyperbole, a writerly trick used to make a point.  The point being that Larry gets his giggles by rubbing salt in my wounds.  Is that nice?  I don't think so.
  5. My best friend met me at Starbuck's tonight with a bag of Halloween candy she had stolen from her children.  We sat around and ate their candy and complained about them.  Also, I helped her cast on for a poncho she's knitting for her 7-year-old.  Whose candy we ate.  Go figure.
  6. I finally convinced Susie to wear a pair of overalls that were in her drawer.  Half of her wardrobe this winter consists of cute overalls with matching shirts handed down from Rachel.  Susie's been refusing to put any of them on.  Why?  I know not why.  Perhaps she was holding out for something more sophisticated.  She's got quite the fashion sense, for a 4-year-old. 
  7. 10 minutes to go - I made it!
Go on over to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes - I promise she won't be making jokes about homeless people.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Grand Experiment

For the past decade I've tried subscribing to the "get everything done in November so you can relax and enjoy the holidays" school of thought. You know - address Christmas cards, buy and wrap the presents, plan menus, bake cookies, etc. And you know what? It never worked out that way. Instead, it felt as though Christmas lasted 2 full months. The season of Noel and Ho, Ho, Ho became an albatross around my neck. By the time 25 December rolls around, I'm sick of the whole thing and can out-humbug the most Scrooge-ish Ebenezer.

So I'm being a maverick this year, folks - going rogue, as it were. I'm not doing anything for Christmas until December 15th. Yup. Nothing. My favorite Christmases were the ones I had in college, when my friends and I might wander out to find a tree when finals were at last over and done with, and then we would hitch a ride to the mall and walk around and buy goofy presents. Afterward we'd all go to someone's apartment and make hot cocoa and watch stupid TV. Those were the days - no agonizing on finding the right gift, no fussing on when or how to trim the tree, no worrying about fancy food or matching plates. Just a pleasant little respite at the darkest part of the year, a time to hang with people you love and eat fattening food and waste money on frivolous purchases...

Low expectations, people - that's what it's all about. My own little experiment in recovering my Christmas spirit is now underway. If anyone cares to join me, feel free to sign up in the comments. Maybe some tech-savvy soul can even come up with a button for the "Save Christmas for Christmas" movement. Or, at least a better slogan...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Review (Sort Of)

I know it's hard to believe, but I'm not in the mood to post. Life is just smacking me around a bit too much the past couple of days...

Plus, I've been spending my spare time reading an actual book. If you haven't read The Glass Castle yet, check it out. The description sounds depressing, but it's not. I mean, it should be; but for some reason it isn't. The author is definitely not a whiner. Unlike, say, yours truly...

I'm thinking of doing a giveaway once I'm done with it, but I guess I'll have to buy it first. Right now it's still over at Barnes and Noble where I've been sneaking peeks at it rather than doing my editing work. I'm just proud of myself for reading something that has paragraphs that are longer than 2 or 3 sentences each. I think my brain's been shrinking.

Oh, and things got so bad in the refrigerator that Larry cleaned it out while I was gone on Saturday. I think it was the liquefied tomatoes in the bottom of the produce drawers that got him. When I came home, both produce drawers were sitting on the counter and filled with soapy water. And the fridge was half-empty. I don't know what he threw out and I don't care. Free, I tell you - I feel free!

I did clean out one of my kitchen cabinets the other week. I do regret not taking a picture of a (very old) bag of pita bread I found - most of it had turned into this weird brown powdery substance and the remaining solid parts were green. Come to think of it, I probably threw out the cure for cancer.

Oh, well, there's more where that came from...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Let's Play Santa

I thought I would take a break from meaningless drivel that does the world not one whit of good and inform y'all of a coat drive that Sue is running for refugees in Salt Lake City.

I know! I had no idea there were any refugees in SLC, myself. But Sue says there are. They come from war-torn areas of Africa and Asia.

(You wouldn't lie, would you, Sue?)

Now, Sue and I go back a long way (I mean, in blogging years); and, although we may have had our disagreements now and then, say, like when I had to defend her mother's honor against Sue's slanderous post about her childhood eating habits, I remain convinced that Sue has a heart of gold and deserves our support in rounding up 100 winter coats for refugee children.

(Hmmm....that still sounds fishy....maybe they're just for Sue and her family? We all know how many kids those Mormons have running around.)

(More than 6)

(6 is normal, dammit)

Where was I? Oh! Oh, yes - coats. Sue came up with the idea of asking people to buy coats online and to have them shipped here:

Gayane Manukyan
Att: 100 Coats for Kids Project
Refugee Center at AAU
1588 South Major Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84115

Which may or may not be a legitimate address, but hey - according to my husband, Sue is an imaginary person, anyway.

This is all getting very confusing.

Anyway, if you are moved to purchase a coat for a kid who is being forced to share a coat with 3 siblings and to ship it to an address that was given to me by a person who may or may not actually exist, that would be a good Christmas-y thing to do. Any size coat will do, baby through teen...

Speaking of refugees sharing things, I have a story for you. Larry knew someone who used to work for a Jewish Social Services agency; this agency assisted recent Russian emigres to the US. One of her jobs was finding apartments for the new arrivals and getting them settled in. So! She drove one such family (with 5 or 6 people in it) to their new 3-bedroom apartment and told them she'd be back in a few days to see how things were going.

When she came back, she found them with their belongings unpacked and set up all over the living room. The bedrooms were empty. "What's wrong with the bedrooms?" she asked them.

"Bedrooms?" they said. "We thought those rooms were for other families."

So, yes - we are fortunate. More than one room to a family, more than one coat to a group of siblings. Let's spread it around a little, eh?

[Sue did a much better job of this appeal thing, I'll have you know. She managed to tie it in to that scene in The Little Princess where the Indian gentleman sneaks all sorts of lovely things into Sara Crewe's bare garret room and Sara thinks it's Magic that does it. And then Sue wrapped up her post by saying we're lucky - we can all be a part of that Magic (by donating the coats). That Sue has the writing mojo, all right. Compared to her, I'm just a hack.]

(Santa image courtesy of Free clipart, animations and web graphics)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Glass Houses

As previously reported, we traveled more than 3 hours with the kids on Monday to take advantage of the free admission to a living history museum. While there, we received a frantic phone call from Anna - she was locked out of the house and she had a horrible headache. We told her that the headache medicine was in the kitchen, suggested a neighbor's house to check for an extra key, and reminded her that we were too far away to come home and rescue her. She sounded upset with that.

After hanging up, I was mentally rehearsing my already well-polished "See? This is why it's important to remember your key LIKE WE TOLD YOU" discourse and thinking of following it up with a supplementary "You're old enough to keep track of important things like keys, you know" speech - when I noticed Larry staring at my shoulder. My, uh, empty shoulder....

"Where's your purse?" he asked.

"Purse? Where is my purse? Did I have it when we left the car?"

Larry, with nary a word of complaint about my apparent senility, jogged back through all the exhibits we had visited, looking for the missing item. Oh, we greeted him like a conquering hero when he returned with my purse in his hands!

Anna would have greeted Larry likewise that evening had she known that his lack of reproach over the purse incident saved her from a big fat hypocritical lecture - a lecture that could not now reasonably be delivered by her grateful yet chastened mother.

Score one for poetic justice.

["Lost and Found" Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on]

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

There's a lot of talk on a day like today about how selfless military people are.  People left and right in the blogosphere are thanking veterans like me for our service.  So I just want to set one thing straight.

I joined the Navy because I needed a job.  I had student loans to pay; I was ashamed of not being on my own (unlike many "kids" in their 20's nowadays); and no one wanted to pay a fresh-faced History major anything close to a living wage.

In other words, I joined the military for totally selfish reasons, as do many in the armed forces.  I joined for money, I joined to gain my independence, I joined in the hope I would get a chance to travel.

What I got was a lot more.  For the first time in my life, I worked and lived alongside people of another skin color.  For the first time in my life, I saw African Americans in positions of power.  And I came into close contact with those heretofore exotic people known as "Southerners" and "Texans." (And I learned very quickly the difference between the two.)  I met people who were from comfortable backgrounds and people who had signed up because they were tired of crashing at friends' houses and getting food from dumpsters.  I met people with college degrees like mine and people who had never even considered college as an option.  I also encountered people like my husband-to-be who were taking advantage of the tuition subsidies the military gave them to earn their degrees.

I learned in the military that America is a lot bigger than any one of the segregated social bubbles in which we live and are brought up.  I learned that an organization as hidebound and conservative as the military could still be in the forefront on issues such as equal opportunities for minorities and for women.  Most importantly, I learned that people of different races, religions, and beliefs are able to work together toward a common goal.

I think that last is a lesson that a lot of people in our country today have forgotten.  Maybe they've never even learned it.  It's easy in this country to stick with your own kind, easy to become convinced that your reality is the only reality.  You can watch "your" channels, read "your" news, listen to "your" radio stations.  But the truth of the matter is, this is a really big country with all sorts of people in it.  And none of them are better or more "American" than any of the others.

Go ahead and thank me for "serving."  But realize that I benefited from my service to my country more than anyone else did.  I hated a lot of what I had to do, and the military does have its own particular brand of crazy; but I came away knowing a lot more about my fellow citizens than I could have learned by staying in the familiar bubble of my particular upbringing.

Would you believe that lately I have actually had people say to me, "How could you let your son go into the Army?"

How?  Tell me, how could I not?

[Recruiting poster image: Wikimedia Commons]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When Technology Goes Rogue

Last night we came home from our road trip (more on that tomorrow) to find a friend's email informing us that our computer - apparently feeling angry and betrayed by my absence all day - was sending out spam messages to everyone in my address book. Larry spent the next 3 hours (and let me tell you, after driving over 7 hours in one day, this was not what he had in mind for his evening activities) doing whatever magically tech-y things he does to erase viruses and build firewalls and generally batten down the hatches on both our computers.

[Ladies! If your husbands are ever similarly engaged, let me advise you - it is not the best time to helpfully mention that the clothes dryer is drying too slowly and maybe it's time to clean out the dryer vent pipe again. His response, as I can sadly attest, will not be a positive one.]

This morning I sat down to send an email to all my contacts explaining that actually, no, I was not trying to introduce them to an "international trade company" that sells "many kinds of famous electornic (sic) products." And I certainly don't think it is "really a good opportunity for us to do shopping." But, as it turns out, I never had a chance.

My contact list was gone.

Let that sink in for a few minutes. E-mails, street addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, anniversaries - all vanished. Evaporated into thin ethernet, as it were...

Sometimes things really are as bad as they look. But, as always, we've got a bright side - that Christmas cards mailing thing? This year, it seems, I'm off the hook.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Only The Strong Survive

I know there are families who like nothing better than to pile everyone in the car and go off on a road trip for a day or two. I mean, I've read about this strange phenomenon. And we do have friends who managed to cross the entire country with 4 kids (ages 2 - 8) in a station wagon in a mere - are you ready? - 4 days. (No DVD players involved - they hadn't been invented yet.)

Our family, sadly, is not of that ilk. The kids' bickering during a 90-minute road trip last July almost put me in the loony bin. I've blocked out how we made it to our vacation spot 12 hours away last August without abandoning someone en route. And the logistics of preparing for a family car trip are enough to make me cry.

Which makes it all the more puzzling why I brought to Larry's attention the "Free Admissions For Veterans" week at a living history museum we've been too cheap to visit all these years. Why don't we just pop down there for the day? I asked brightly. It's only 3 and a half hours away!

I don't know what's wrong with me, really.

Of course it might have been that Theo's college is on the way, so I'm planning to finagle a stopover there for dinner. It is his birthday, you know...

Anyhoo, all that to explain why I can't post tonight - instead, I need to pack sandwiches, find water bottles, locate travel games, and (most important) plan my knitting for the trip. Larry is already abed, having just returned from a weekend encampment with David. That man is not as young as he used to be, I'm afraid. Camping in subfreezing temperatures and peeing in the woods seems to be taking its toll.

Let's just hope tomorrow doesn't finish him off.


Check out this ode to station wagon living - babies stretched out for a nap, children playing in the back while Dad motors down the road. Ah, the simple life before seatbelts and car seats!

Friday, November 06, 2009

7 Quick Takes: Warm and Dry

  1. Larry went camping with David's Civil Air Patrol this weekend, in sub-freezing temperatures. Meanwhile, I'm home eating the rest of the Halloween candy. Sometimes Dads do get the short end of the stick.
  2. Yes, it is surprising there is any candy left to eat. Don't rush me. These Twizzlers are chewy, you know.
  3. Hot Tamales, too - yum!
  4. Readers of this blog possess an impressive amount of scientific knowledge, if one can judge from their explanations yesterday of why the moon sometimes looks orange. I feel smarter just from reading all of their comments. And I like the way "Harry" (whoever he is) managed to combine a science lesson on the wavelengths of light with a little bit of child-rearing advice.
  5. Gah, 3 more? This calls for candy. Smarties, anyone? We have a surplus.
  6. Theo's 18th birthday is coming up. I should write a heartfelt letter to him on this momentous occasion, expressing my love for him and my pride in his growing up to be an independent young man. It would be a missive he would keep for the rest of his life and perhaps pull out at my funeral to share with his fellow mourners. "You were so lucky," they'd tell him, "to have had such a wonderfully eloquent mother." But, honestly? All I've been able to come up with is this: "What have you done with my little boy and can I just give him one more hug?"
  7. I also have this strange urge to ask Theo if he likes the name we picked out for him all those years ago. I mean, now that he's a grown-up and all...
  8. (8, because I can't count.) When Larry's not here, I leave all the lights on in the house when I go upstairs to bed. Which is only an effective safety measure, I'm guessing, if your armed intruders tend to be of the vampire variety...
Check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes. There are some that are sugar-free!

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Too tired to write tonight - no jokes, not even a good link. The 3 fun-sized Snickers I consumed this evening may have something to do with my current malaise. I'm going to bed (before midnight!). But if someone could explain to me why lately the moon looks orange while it's rising but not orange when it is way up in the sky, I sure would appreciate it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Exercise - Who Needs It? Not Barbie...

Every once in a while, scientific research comes along which reaffirms my faith in the ultimate justice of our universe.  This article, for instance, talks about a study which found that exercise does not help people lose weight.  Take that, all you self-satisfied early-morning joggers...

[Please note that I was way out in front on this important issue, as shown by this post from 2005, wherein I asserted that exercise can actually make one fat.]


David spent today teaching Susie how to joust with the craft-stick-and-duct-tape swords that he created.  I must say, Susie is a very giggly jouster, even when (especially when) theoretically cleaving her unfortunate opponent in two.

Whatever happened to playing with dolls, anyway?  Do little girls do that anymore?  My best friend and I used to spend hours playing with our Barbies.  At my house, my Barbies led a cloistered existence, focused on fashion and undisturbed by any love interests or significant others. It was only when they got around my friend's Barbies, with their swingin' Country Camper and their slightly randy Ken, that things got a little wild.  There was skinny-dipping, too, if I'm remembering properly.

I'm getting off-topic here.  Which was....what was it?  Oh, yes - don't exercise.  And watch who your daughter is playing Barbies with.  And, um....Barbies are skinny because they never, ever exercise....

Maybe it's time to sign off for the evening...


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Prose And Poetry - A Twofer!

Larry took my giganto bag of candy away today, forcing me to break into my secret stash. Be prepared is my motto; he's done this to me before.

This year I tried to be one of those people who save the pumpkin scoopings and pick out all the seeds and roast them. I managed to do the "save the pumpkin scoopings" part all right. But there wasn't room in my refrigerator for them (not surprising). And then I forgot about them all day Sunday, even though they were sitting in a huge bowl on my counter.

Monday morning? Wow. You know, I had no idea that vegetable matter could smell like dead fish. Learn something new every day, eh?

And where's that NatureMill electric composter when I need it?

I leave you with a bit of doggerel (apologies to Joyce Kilmer):

I think that I shall never see
A day lovely as Halloween.

A Snickers bar with peanuts packed,
Fills up my mouth and gives good snack;

A Reese's cup with peanut butter,
Why, yes, I think I'll have another;

What's this? A bag of M&M's?
Both plain and peanut are my friends.

Some minty dark 3 Musketeers,
Will chase away those ghoulish fears.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only chocolate makes Halloween.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled diet...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sexy Prairie Women Love Reese's

For the second year in a row, we saw a slide in our trick-or-treaters index - a mere 18 cute costumed children showed up at our door last night. That's down from the more than 70 we had come by 2 years ago. It's even less than last year's all time low of 27.

I don't know about you, but I find these numbers disturbing. And when I find something disturbing, I blame the Obama administration. You know, you get those government nannies interfering in your life, regulating your chocolate consumption and banning flammable flashlights from China; and all the fun is drained out of the holiday. What we have now is a population too demoralized to even think about trick-or-treating. They're all huddled at home, hoarding their Reese's peanut butter cups and hiding from the vaccination police.

Or else, it was the steady rain that deterred them. That's a distinct possibility.

Speaking of Reese's peanut butter cups, there seems to have been a bumper crop this year. Or, at least, my kids harvested a lot of them last night. Yum.

Anna woke up sick (again) this morning. Worse, she seems to have given it to me. So, instead of doing laundry, cleaning bathrooms, and getting some editing done, I spent the afternoon sleeping off a headache. To keep the kids busy, I popped in the 2-hour TV movie that kicked off the Little House on the Prairie series. I thought it was a safe choice. I was wrong. Thank you, Michael Landon, for embarrassing my children by kissing Ma Ingalls full on the mouth. Repeatedly. And one time in a drenchingly sexy downpour...

You know, that just didn't happen in the book.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Dark Of Night...

Halloween on Saturday should be easy. You have all day to get ready, right? So why did Larry and I find ourselves with 4 yet-to-be-carved pumpkins at 2:30 this afternoon? And why was I visiting the grocery store at 3:00 on a Saturday to buy a new battery-operated pumpkin carver? Can anyone tell me?

Believe want scary? Try fighting the crowds at your local Harris Teeter on Halloween. It was a harrowing situation which caused even yours truly - Miss Can't-We-All-Get-Along - to contemplate shoving a certain woman's shopping cart into the checkout-line candy display. Hello? It's a single line for the self-checkouts. Don't give me that crap that there's a line for the right and a line for the left. There is one line, and I am at the head of it. Me, the person armed with a battery-operated pumpkin carver...

The rain began this evening at precisely 6:30 PM, the official trick-or-treat start time... In a perfect world, it would be possible to say to the kids, "Oops, it's raining out there. Take off your costumes, we'll just do it next year!"

Alas! This not being a perfect world, we have 2 soggy princesses and 2 soggier pirates (those felt capes are quite absorbent) traipsing around in the dark with a Daddy who has enough foresight to make them stop at home between neighborhoods to empty their candy bags. "You don't want those bag handles breaking like last year," Larry warns the kiddies as he dashes into the kitchen to pour himself a quick beer. Selfless, I tell you...

Friday, October 30, 2009

7 Quick Takes: Night Of The Snack-Size Twizzlers

  1. I had a post ready which lamented the condition of my overstuffed mess of a refrigerator; but then I read this article in The New Yorker this morning about North Koreans and how their lack of food caused them to eat corn husks, tree bark, and other delicacies (that is, the North Koreans who didn't just starve to death). Somehow, my fridge post doesn't seem all that funny now.
  2. Yes, I do sometimes read something besides blogs.
  3. My new-found social awareness, however, is not stopping me from preparing for Halloween, that most gourmand-ish of all holidays to be celebrated here in the US tomorrow. Nor is it keeping me from exulting over the annual appearance of snack-size Twizzlers. Their chewy goodness, a far-cry from the stiff dryness of their year-round brethren, has knocked me completely off the diet wagon for now. I may climb back on sometime after New Year's. Or maybe not.
  4. "Exulting" doesn't begin to describe my behavior, actually. I've already eaten half a bag of these things. I cannot stop.
  5. Americans do not know who is in charge. That is what I can surmise from the results of our "Name Those Cabinet Positions" test. Only two of you even took a stab at it. Of course, it might be that the rest of you found the subject so boring that you clicked away to something more interesting, like Miss G's post about her first frat party at The Women's Colony. I don't blame you.
  6. This year we have 2 princesses, a pirate, and a knight in shining tinfoil armor for Halloween. I didn't have to lift a finger except to spend 3 bucks for tiaras at Michael's. I call that a good Halloween, don't you? It sure beats the tornado costume fiasco of 2007. Throw in those Twizzlers, and I'm in heaven.
  7. Everyone around us has the flu. The only question now is will we be sick for Thanksgiving? Chanukah? Christmas? Or maybe all 3! The suspense is killing me.
Click on over to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes, where no one is quizzing you on your knowledge of US government. I promise.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Name This Post (Cause I Can't)

Apparently, the H1N1 pandemic is providing fertile ground for conspiracy theorists. I watched a YouTube video (why? I don't know) in which a woman propounds her theory that the (secretly deadly) swine flu vaccinations are part of a sinister gov't population-control plan. Why else, she asks, would pregnant women and young children be first?

Apparently, she has never seen Titanic.


Fortunately, there were less frightening videos being passed around this week also. This was the family favorite:

Of course, we don't have cable. So anything will amuse us.


Finally, I'm sure the Supreme Court will be relieved to know that, collectively, we've remembered all their names. Turns out that it was Souter who retired (Sotomayor took his place), Stevens is still there, and Kennedy was the one that none of my friends and I remembered. Jeopardy, here we come!

Not many people wanted to tackle the Cabinet questions though. Shelley was brave enough to take a stab at it and mentioned Janet Napolitano, Director of Homeland Security. So now we've got 4: Napolitano, Clinton (Secretary of State), Gates (Defense), and Sibelius (HHS). There must be more, right?

Remember, honor system, no Googling - how many Cabinet members are there and what are their names? I know that, together, we can do it. Yes, we can.

Well, maybe not...but it's worth a try.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Quiz

Why, hello there! Larry had the nerve to leave me for a couple of days and somehow he took my blogging mojo with him. Also, I've had to do all the work around here. What's up with that?

Today, at our weekly Burger King date (yes, it's a glamorous life I'm leading), 2 other homeschooling mothers and I could not come up with the names of all 9 Supreme Court Justices. We got 8 of them: Souter, Alito, Roberts, Sotomayor, the other lady, Breyer, Scalia, Thomas. So, who's the ninth? Help us out here, or our kids will grow up stupid.

I know I could just look it up, but it's more fun this way. No cheating now!

Also? Among the 3 of us, we could only come up with the names of 3 members of the Obama Cabinet: Clinton, Gates, and Sibelius. Then we argued over whether Obama's Chief of Staff (Emanuel) was a member of the Cabinet or not. And how many Cabinet members are there, anyway? And is "Emanuel" spelled wrong?

These are the sort of things homeschooling mothers discuss at lunch. I'd like to say, in our defense, that any one of us could have recited the 8 parts of speech and the formula for the quadratic equation at the drop of a french fry. Not to brag, or anything...

So? Remember that ninth Justice yet?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Conundrum, Solved

Larry, recounting to me some episodes from the Boy Scout death march he took David on last weekend, said, "What was really scary was when the huge tree fell down..."

"Wait," I said. "You were hiking in the forest and a tree fell?"

"Yes," he said. "And the noise it made..."

"Whoa!" I said. "You were hiking in a forest and a tree fell and it made a sound?"

"Yes!" he said, catching on. "It did! So I suppose that proves that even on that trip, far away from civilization and all its womenfolk..."

" were still wrong!"

Poor guys - they just can't catch a break...

(You really have to click on that last link to understand the joke...)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Like A Raisin In The Sun

Theo was diagnosed with a severe dairy allergy when he was 10 months old; and ever since then we've been an essentially dairy-free family. Which isn't really a bad thing, right? It's hard for anyone to become obese when they can't have ice cream, cheese, and pizza. No overweight kids here! So I'm not complaining.

But all those years, through the subsequent births of 5 more children, I knew I was missing out on an experience as germane to motherhood as giving birth - that of feeding macaroni and cheese to a horde of grateful children. I pictured the little ones clambering to the table, forks in hand, their dinnertime cries of complaint silenced (for once) by the prospect of a meal that no one could hate. On cold winter days, I fantasized about the stomach-filling, cheesy goodness of this most quintessential of comfort foods. I wept over the fact that my children would not have this particular childhood memory to look back on.

Forbidden fruit does have that effect.

So! Theo was barely out the door this past August before I sat down at the computer and printed out macaroni and cheese recipes from the Internet. There were a few false starts, but I can safely say that at this point I have perfected my gooey-cheese-over-pasta technique. I religiously inflict it on my offspring every single Friday, rejoicing that there is one day of the week that I don't have to think about what's for dinner. A healthy, kid-friendly meal that's easy to cook and easy to clean up - what more could a mom ask for?

Well, for starters, she could ask for normal children. Normal, as in children who know a good thing when they see it. Children, say, who can appreciate the simple things in life. Because (wouldn't you know?) Brian and Susie complain every single time...

Yes, 2 of my children regard this particular all-American favorite as child abuse, pure and simple. They protest when they see it on the menu. They cry as I get the ingredients out of the fridge. At the table, the sight of the inoffensive elbow macaroni cloaked in an unassuming yet fragrant cheese sauce makes them wail.

Yet I persevere. I waited 17 years to become a real mom and make macaroni and cheese for my kids. 17 years, people! It's hard to let go of this particular fantasy.

Where does a dream go when it dies?


Friday got lost in the shuffle there - that happens when half the family is sick with a mysterious virus and Mom goes to bed at 7:30. I sure hope Larry remembered to pick up Anna from her drama night at school. Maybe I should check her room...

Typing all this is exhausting. I'm going back to bed.