Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Days!

Larry brought Theo home from his freshman year of college today. And, yes, that would have been my husband and I tap dancing in our parking lot this afternoon whilst singing "Happy Days Are Here Again!" You would have been equally exuberant to have your 19-year-old babysitter/bug-killer/stir-fry chef back home again for a few months. Admit it.

Not sure how Theo feels about the situation, however. I do hope he sticks around.

David, our resident vegetarian, is feeling a tad glum. Due to Theo's dairy allergy, David and I had to scour our refrigerator clean of any traces of the dairy products he has come to know and love over the past 9 months. Good-bye, lasagna fixin's! Fare thee well, quesadilla ingredients! Adieu, beloved shredded mozzarella! It was an emotional afternoon, to put it mildly. But at least I now have a fighting chance to shed the 10 pounds I've gained since Theo went to college last August.

I have no idea whether or not this is a decent rendition of the song - I don't have earbuds with me (I'm goofing off here in Starbucks). I decided not to risk embedding the Barbra Streisand version of it, though. You're welcome.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Further Proof We're In The End Times...

This just in...

...the Cub Scouts are offering merit awards for playing video games. That's right - developing an expertise in Xbox 360 and PlayStation is taking its not-so-rightful place beside such time-honored skills as fire-building, canoeing, hiking, and orienteering.

Talk about lowering the bar! What's next? A texting-your-friends patch for the Girl Scouts?

Sheesh! Kids these days...

[Photo credit: Boy Scout Heroes]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chocolate: Friend or Foe?

Larry has the habit of leaving what he considers relevant articles up on the screen for me to see in the morning. Thus, this article greeted me before breakfast today:

Chocolate lovers 'are more depressive', say experts

Chocolate eaters tend to be more depressed? Really? Look, take away my chocolate and I guarantee you will see what "depressed" looks like. And, despite its misleading headline, the article itself backs up my militant chocolate-consuming stance by acknowledging that this is a classic chicken-and-the-egg situation; i.e., it could be that depressed people reach for chocolate to alleviate their feelings of sadness and purposelessness.

I heart York Peppermint Patties, ergo sum...

This latter view is bolstered by an earlier BBC article entitled Chocolate Makes For Happy Babies. Well! That settles it for me. And since those democratically-elected tyrants in Congress who dared to pass health reform have not yet made a move towards restricting our medicinal chocolate supply, I will make sure to hoard as much chocolate happiness as I can before we all become cacao-less government welfare slaves.

Or something like that....

In the meantime, I think I'll leave this article up on the screen for my coffee-addicted husband's perusal. I mean, I'm sure he wants to know that he is at risk of hallucinations from his 8-cup-a-day habit. Of course that knowledge might depress him...

Want a Peppermint Patty, honey? It's happy food.

[Frowny Face photo credit: this baseball blog]
[Happy Face photo credit: Home School Image blog]

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stage Mother-itis

Yesterday's post might have made some of you wonder if this blog were going to devolve into a "bragging about my kids' amazing talents" type of place. I mean, here was my super-brilliant son coming within 7 of the correct number of chocolates in the jar! He's amazing!

Except, um, I helped. Under the guise of teaching Brian how to measure volume, I showed him how to count up, and then across, and then across the other side and helped him multiply those numbers. I was heavily invested in his success in this thing. But, hey, I bet all the other parents are doing it, too. And since my kids don't go to school, I don't get to do all their science fair projects and history dioramas for them.

[That science fair project to the left there? The kids' parents helped him. He admits it right here. It doesn't hurt to have a chemistry professor for a mom and a dad who can help you with your "titration graph," whatever the heck that is.]

Do kids do dioramas anymore? Or is it all power point presentations now?

My stage-mother persona needed an outlet, dammit. And I found it in that jar of chocolates. Next step? Well, maybe it will be what any other self-respecting homeschooling mother aims for...the National Spelling Bee. We homeschoolers own it, you know. And have I ever mentioned that way back in 1975, I was 3 people away from going to DC for that particular contest myself? I coulda been a contender.

"Quixotic"...that's the word that got me...and some kid from Puerto Rico won the nationals that year, on "incisor." Sheesh. I knew how to spell "incisor."

"the nationals" - like how I just tossed that one out, as if I were competing in something athletic? Because, yeah, that was the closest I've ever come to winning a trophy in anything. You see, (at least back then) no one would hand you a trophy for wearing dorky eyeglasses and tripping over your own foot while trying to kick a ball. Spelling was my only chance, my way out of the suburban ghetto, as it were...

[Gah - I was searching for an image to slap on here for the National Spelling Bee and I stumbled on this website Vegas Watch that is essentially figuring the odds for particular spelling bee contestants to win - you know, in case you want to start betting on your own kid (or someone else's). ]

Oh, and the correct guess for the chocolates was 540 (Brian - and, uh, myself - guessed 547) - kcinnova got it right off the bat in the first comment. She must help her kids with their homework all the time.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Happiness Is...

...winning a jar of chocolate. Our credit union sponsored a guess-how-many-chocolate-balls-in-the-jar contest, and Brian won. Oh, to be 10 again! At that age, what better thing could possibly happen (particularly since a 50-dollar bill was included in the jar)? Lego money and candy - his happiness is complete.

Feel free to guess the magic number. We've only eaten a few of them. I have to supervise the Uncle Matt poker game in the kitchen - the kids are playing with M&M's instead of chips, and Susie is crying (albeit with a full mouth) because her winnings are "gone."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

You Heard It Here First

Peter Sagal? Call me. The What to Expect When You're Expecting joke you blithely tossed off this past weekend (in reference to George Washington's likely choice of library books) was already published (see Homemaker Man's comment on this post in my humble blog 2 days earlier).

I'm sure we can work something out. You wouldn't want Homemaker Man coming after you with his Zamboni.

[Disclaimer: I in no way know whether or not Homemaker Man actually resembles SpongeBob. For his wife's sake, I hope not.]

[Photo credit: LockerNerd]


We gots company! It's Grandpa's birthday, so he and Uncle Matt are here to celebrate with the young'uns. And I'm wondering what new skills Uncle Matt will teach Rachel that can be shared with her American-Girl-Doll playing friends....blackjack, maybe?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Science NonFiction

Someone I thought was a friend posted this link on her Facebook page. It led to an article describing deadly Cryptococcus gattii spores floating through the air, looking to take up residence in my lungs and kill me. I had to read it 3 times to understand it wasn't just an April Fool's joke, War-of-the-Worlds style.

I don't know about you, but something about the phrase "25 percent mortality rate" makes my ever-lurking hypochondria flare right up. Silly me.

[Photo credit: TechRepublic]

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What Would George Washington Borrow?

Auntie Kate has left us for her clean, quiet, child-free home, albeit not without first giving my living/dining area an Extreme Makeover (well, as extreme as you can get with only a sewing machine and a few yards of decorator fabric).

Voila! Re-upholstered dining room chairs (with a matching cover for the built-in bench where we hide our rain boots, recycling, roller skates, and other items beginning with the letter "r"); plus, coordinating throw pillows for my beloved Ektorp couch!

I heart Auntie Kate. This decorating project, though relatively simple from a seamstress's point of view, was beyond my wanna-be crafter's ken. Even Larry had to get involved, as the chair coverings required a staple gun. "I have a staple gun," said he. "No problem!"

"Are you sure?" I asked. "I can run out to Home Depot today and buy one."

"No, I've already got one," he assured me.

What he didn't tell me was that he had looted this particular staple gun from his deceased father's belongings. At least 45 years old and unused for over a decade, it was missing a crucial piece. Well, maybe crucial is too strong a word; but it seems to have been the piece that prevents the staples from shooting randomly across the room when the gun is used.

Have I mentioned that we live less than 2 miles from a Home Depot? And that staple guns are really not that expensive? Meaning, less expensive than our emergency room copay?

For the sake of our marriage, I absented myself during the actual operation of this piece of crap. I went to work (after depositing all the children in the basement in front of the TV with strict orders to NOT GO UPSTAIRS), leaving Larry and his sister to intrepidly affix the fabric onto the chair seats with the malfunctioning stapler of death.

They both thought it was fun. There's something wrong with that family.


Homemaker Man (in the comments yesterday) contributed his thoughts on just what books the father of our country would have taken out of the library in the first place:

  • Wood Craft and Dentistry
  • What to Expect when you're Expecting to Father a Country
  • The Pelican Brief

Okay, I'll admit it - I don't get the last one. But this did start me wondering: What Would George Washington Borrow? (or, WWGWB)


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Who Knew?

It seems I no longer need hang my head in shame over my penchant for paying ginormous late fees to our local book-lending institution. According to this news article, the father of our country currently owes 300,000 dollars in overdue fines at the New York Society Library. Imagine my relief at finding my deadbeat self in such illustrious company!

He may not have been able to tell a lie; but he certainly had some sticky fingers, eh?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bus Stop

In a recent post, Dawn talks about breaking out of her comfort zone by taking a new way downtown. I'm thinking her message is that breaking out of our comfort zones is a good thing to do, a way of expanding our horizons and experiencing new things.

I'm not too sure of that.

You see, about 3 pregnancies ago, I had to take a bus downtown for a medical appointment. Now, I hadn't been on the bus in years - not since, it turns out, they replaced the old-fashioned fare boxes with the ones that you carefully slide your money into so it can be electronically counted (you know, like a vending machine). I had never gotten the memo about this sea change in paying for mass transit; so I boarded my bus and blithely crammed 2 dollar bills into the box at once, the way I had years before.

The bus driver, apparently shocked speechless as I manhandled her fare box, managed to choke out, "I can't believe you did that" as she picked up her radio and called wherever it is that bus drivers call when a passenger with obvious bus fare hostility issues boards her vehicle. The incredulous look on her face I could take; what alarmed me more were the looks on the other passengers' faces (seasoned commuters all) as we filed off that bus and waited in the early morning cold and dark for a new bus, a bus whose electronic fare box had not yet been vandalized by an apparent idiot.

Let's just say that it is a good thing that no one had a rope handy. And I'm permanently cured of broadening my horizons.

Not really relevant, but it does have the words "bus stop" in it. Certainly none of my fellow passengers would have been willing to share an umbrella with me...

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Immersed as we are in our craft-fest this week, Auntie Kathy and I have still managed to come up for air long enough to feed the children. Or, more precisely, I have been pulling kitchen duty, while Auntie continues to toil away on sofa cushions, quilt blocks, and burp cloths. The way we look at it, I have a personal seamstress; and she gets a personal chef.

So! Tonight we all sat down to a delicious dinner of crockroast, mashed potatoes, and buttered green beans. Mid-meal, Auntie Kathy asked, "What cut of beef do you use in the crockpot, anyway?"

"It's a bottom round," I told her. "Chuck is too fatty, and other cuts are too lean." I resumed eating, unaware that Brian was sitting, his fork frozen halfway to his mouth, a quizzical look on his face.

"Who's Chuck?" he asked.

Poor kid - do you think I'm looking as sinister to him as this delicious picture of Helena Bonham Carter?

And should we make him watch the movie?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What's So Great About It?

I'm just posting tonight to quash a rumor started in the comments yesterday by Amy as regards my planned manufacture of adorable flannel burp cloths. These cloths are NOT FOR MY PERSONAL USE. I am too old for that, Amy - the baby factory has shut itself down, apparently. No, these burp cloths are for my niece's baby, due in August.

That's right - I am about to become a great-aunt. That's what I get for marrying a guy who is way younger than his siblings - premature great-auntdom. And I never even got to be a real aunt - his nieces were half-grown by the time Larry and I were married, and we've only seen them rarely since.

I'm having an identity crisis. I don't feel old enough to be a great or grand anything. Maybe I should go get myself a cane. Or a decent rocking chair...

[Photo credit:]

Friday, April 16, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday:Do You Smell Stinkbugs, Or Is It Just Me?

Friday already? Really?


Larry and his sister Auntie Kate took the kids out for a hike, leaving me home alone for a blessed six hours. Maybe I should get something done? Dinner prep? Cleaning? Editing work?



Auntie Kate and I are enjoying our annual crafting binge. Before she'd been here even 72 hours, we'd paid 2 hour-long visits to Joanne's, started a few knitting projects, and planned a makeover for my living-dining room. Of course, this all necessitated certain expenditures...

How do you like that beauty to the right, eh? Auntie Kate showed up Monday night waving the sales circular featuring this particular machine, while I frantically gesticulated to her (behind Larry's back) to PUT IT AWAY until later. "Don't you already have a sewing machine?" my beleaguered wage slave of a husband asked. Frugal soul that he is, Larry doesn't realize that a broken bobbin winder on a 20-year-old appliance justifies an upgrade.

And really, what he wouldn't have noticed wouldn't have hurt him....meaning, I was paying for it in cash.


Auntie Kate wants to teach Rachel how to use the new sewing machine. Auntie Kate seems to have put certain traumatic incidents behind her....or else she is seeking revenge....


Our first projects for the new machine are these adorable burp cloths from the Rocks in My Dryer blog. I've been meaning to make them for two years now. It's not that they are difficult to make; it's just that I'm good on the planning, slow on the execution.

Very slow. 2 years worth of slow. I can see Amy shaking her head in disbelief right now. Yes, Amy, I am pathetic. I know. I still need to mail you a book, too. How's about sending me your address again? The third time might just be the charm.


Does anyone else think this volcano thing is super cool? I mean, it's revelatory to me to realize that, even now in the 21st-century, a natural event like this can have such an impact on our lives (and yes, I have noticed the gazillion earthquakes wreaking havoc all over the globe lately - but I had thought that one isolated volcano wouldn't have such far-reaching effects).

22 years ago, I almost went to Iceland (with the Navy). My orders were yanked at the last minute because I was having a temporary problem with my knees. I wish I had been smarter and kept my mouth shut about the knee pain until I got there. It looks like such an amazing place.

Then again, I was young and stupid. I probably wouldn't have appreciated my good fortune in being there. Remember Mt St Helens, in the 1980's? I paid no attention to it whatsoever. Young, stupid, and oblivious....that was me. Youth (life in general, really) is definitely wasted on the wrong people.


I can't tell if I am smelling the potroast cooking in the crockpot or a smushed stinkbug. Maybe there are stinkbugs in the crockpot? Or perhaps I am slowly going insane...

You can check out more 7 Quick Takes posts over at Jen's Conversion Diary - she's much less oblivious (and less of a procrastinator) than I am.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In honor of tax day, this woman's post says it all. Who knew that "American Pie" was really a meditation on the eternal conflict between individual freedoms and collective responsibility? Not me, that's for sure...

Good Lord, that's a great song. But the audience wins the prize for most apathetic listeners ever. And poor Don McLean is practically begging them to sing along...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reasons I Can't Spend Time With Y'All Today

Quickly - Auntie Kate showing up in an hour, Bunko guests arriving in 2 hours, children needing baths and food sometime before they scatter to the four winds for their evening activities...

All of which might have been easier to handle if I had remembered that we also had 2 well-child checkups this afternoon.

Knowing how to use a calendar just might be a valuable skill. I should learn it.

Not that, say, I could have written 2 weeks ago on a calendar, "DRYER WILL BREAK DOWN JUST IN TIME FOR ARRIVAL OF HOUSE GUEST," right? Some things one just cannot plan for. Coincidence? I think not. The appliances just know when I am vulnerable. They have it in for me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Unkindness of Strangers

In light of Ryanair deciding to charge for bathroom use aloft and Spirit Airlines announcing a fee for carry-on luggage, I thought it would be fitting to share with any young'uns out there this Carol Burnett show skit mocking the 1970's precursor to all this nickle-and-diming of the airplane passenger - the NoFrills flight marketing idea. Please take special note of Tim Conway's facial expressions and body language - the man was a comic genius.

I suppose I should be glad that air travel is not in our budget. In fact, I haven't been on a plane since we changed duty stations back in 1994. Larry (back in those halcyon, security-free pre-9/11 days) escorted me and a toddling Anna and a 3-year-old Theo onto the plane and settled us in for what should have been a 5-hour flight. After he left, the pilot announced that we would be sitting on the tarmac for an hour while they "changed a faulty engine." Feeling apprehensive about this faulty-engine business (not to mention being trapped on an airplane with 2 small children for an extra hour), I asked the passenger behind me - in a pathetic, begging-for-reassurance, please-lie-to-me tone of voice - if a faulty engine were normal.

"Are you kidding?" he said. "The airlines have just gone to hell since deregulation."

Thanks, buddy. Just what I needed to hear...

Friday, April 09, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday: A Veritable Hodgepodge

Larry's back from his business trip. He brought me a present - a tin of chocolates shaped (a little too much) like sardines, each wrapped in silver foil marked with scales and one staring eye. My less-than-positive reaction disappointed him. "It's funny," he insisted. He reminds me of a 6-year-old boy puzzled as to why the girl he likes didn't appreciate the worms he dug up for her.


Larry brought me a pretty T-shirt, also. No pictures of dead fish on it, even...


The stinkbug population seems to have diminished. Which made it easier for me to explain to Larry where 400 dollars of his hard-earned money went to...


You folks are too nice - my Followers number shot up to 213. Thank you all. Now I can die happy.


Brian's birthday is tomorrow, and I just realized I forgot to make a cake. What sort of mother would do that? "Gee, honey, I'm sorry - I was so busy blogging I never got around to it." Poor kid....

I could buy a cake. I've never done that before. We've always had the dairy-allergy issue, but now Theo is away at school. Hmmmm.....this could open up a whole new world for me....


Baking for the kids used to be such fun. After 18 years, though? It loses its allure. Actually, after that amount of time, anything kitchen-related loses its allure. Including cleaning out the refrigerator, which explains why there haven't been any pictures of moldy food on this blog in a while. But never fear! With Auntie Kate arriving on Monday for a prolonged visit, I have no choice but to face the unface-able.


Ugh - there is an outsized centipede crawling on the wall. Make that you think Larry missed me enough not to mind my waking him up to take care of them?

More 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary - check them out! I like reading her, because she has scorpion issues. Makes my centipedes look rather tame, you know?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Wherein I Fail The Prairie Test

400 dollars, people - that's what it took. A nice young gentleman from the pest company visited to explain what they do about eradicating stinkbugs, and by the end of his spiel I would have signed over way more than that to have him fumigate my attic and spray my soffets.

Take that any way you want to. But, you know? There's something downright sexy about a guy saying, "We can take care of all these insects for you today, Ma'am." I almost swooned.

And then the guy he sent over gave me a patented box to catch my pantry moths in. These exterminators sure know how to make a gal feel special.

The AC is fixed, too. I'm sure the neighbors are beginning to talk: "Look at that, Larry away for 3 days and she has all sorts of men coming and going..." What can I say? I'm an easy mark. I bet next time Larry isn't going to leave the checkbook lying around while he is away. Foolish man.

When the dad's away, the wives will pay? Something like that....


My Followers number has sneaked up to 196. If any of you read me regularly but haven't declared yourselves a Follower, would you mind helping me reach the nice round number of 200? It's not important, in the larger scheme of things, of course. But misery loves company; and if I have to have this horrible stinkbug smell on my hands (literally) from a traumatic incident with a still-live stinkbug in Rachel's room this evening (and yes, I completely terrified the girls with my screaming - I'm not proud of it), it makes me feel better to know that I have a full 200 people who will hear about my misfortune.

Ma Ingalls, I'm not. Anyone else remember where she calmly shakes the locusts out of her voluminous skirts? Gah.

I just made myself sick, looking up pictures of stinkbugs for this post. Forget it. I need a drink.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

From Bad To Worse

Due to our stinkbug invasion (and the unseasonably hot weather), I shut all the windows and turned on the air conditioning. Which idea worked just fine didn't. The AC, running continually for the past 3 hours, hasn't managed to get the house below 80 degrees.

Hmmm...I could open the windows, but then I would have to deal with the stinkbugs. Suffocation? Or death by vile entomological creatures? Now, there's a Hobbesian choice for you...

And don't think that just because I closed the windows, I eradicated the stinkbug problem. Oh, no - I merely got them down to not-quite-manageable numbers. I had to spend an hour this evening removing the creepy creatures from the bedrooms of my crying children.

I hates them (the bugs, not the children). Where's a flamethrower when I need one?

Ants are still coming in, too. It's an entomological mosh pit in here. We're the party house of the insect world.

Are mosh pits still happening? Or was that reference just too 90's?

I'm losin' it, people. Totally. Tomorrow I am calling the pest guy and the air conditioning guy. I will throw money at them in an attempt to make all these problems go away. And Larry will not dare to leave me home alone again.


Speaking of the 90's, Larry and I missed all of Seinfeld. (Sorry, Suzy). If we were to rent them from Netflix, which seasons are the best ones to go with?

[Photo credit: Hixon Heating and Air]

Monday, April 05, 2010

Yarn Therapy

Larry's away. I'm not. He left the car at the garage for an inspection while he's gone. The mechanic just called and essentially - after saying incomprehensible things about belts, freon, and main engine mounts (?!) - got me to agree to spend all our money on tuning up our 6-year-old Honda Odyssey.

Something about the engine not falling out on the road....sounded sort of urgent to me...oh, yeah, and something about the radiator...that's important, too, right?

So! Without even going to IKEA, I managed to spend over a thousand dollars today. And the kicker? Larry doesn't know about it yet. Gosh, I wonder if he bothers to read my blog while he's away? Hi, honey! Enjoy your trip!

Meanwhile, we are being inundated with creepy crawlies here. The sugar ants woke up and said, "Hey! Let's go back to that house we always invade this time of year!" The stink bugs are supposed to be staying outside now that the weather is warm, but they didn't get the memo. There are a couple of unidentified creatures with wings that I've had to get rid of (I drowned one with Tilex in the bathroom last night - hasta la vista, baby!). The centipedes are beginning to show up in force.

By the way, this thing here? As seen on TV? Doesn't work. I want my money back.

[Photo credit: Taylor Gifts]

I haven't even regaled you with tales of our pantry moth infestation, have I? Maybe because I don't want to relive the experience of Theo's finding larval grubs at the bottom of the raisin container he was snacking from. Stoic that he is, he didn't puke, even though there were raisins in his mouth at the time. If it had been me, I think I would have had to have been physically restrained from ripping out my own tongue. After vomiting up my tonsils, that is...

We refrigerate everything now - as if the refrigerator wasn't overcrowded enough.

Let's recap - unplanned motor vehicle expenditures, spousal abandonment, and insect invasions...hmmm...I need something to take the edge off...something...

Tell me - how much hand-painted sock yarn does this sort of situation require? And do you think I should order several balls of each shade of Swish? I mean, "Swish" is such a cute name for a yarn, you can't knit just one.

I think I need some larger-size circulars, too. Oh, and cotton - look at those fun colors! Lucky for me, I have a baby grand-nephew on his way...

Ah, living well is the best revenge...

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Age of Innocence

There is a bevy of little girls in my neighborhood, all near Rachel's age. They trooped into my house yesterday afternoon, sweetly alike with their pigtail braids and their hair ribbons. Clutching their American Girl dolls (well, all except Rachel, who has repeatedly refused my offer of an American Girl knock-off), they headed down to the playroom, little Susie trailing in their wake with her cheap-o baby doll. I continued with my housework/blogging, reveling in the fact that Rachel was finally playing with dolls (albeit not her own). It had distressed me to see her former lack of interest in this little-girl pursuit, particularly as I remember so many happy hours of my own youth spent playing Barbies with my friends.

Just forget about the swingin' Barbie country camper thing, okay?

Where was I? Oh, yes - Downstairs later to do some laundry, I paused briefly in the doorway of the playroom. The girls were all sitting in a circle with their dollies. "Tea party?" I chirped as I glanced inside, and then I stopped. Did a doubletake, as it were...

Each doll (including Susie's innocent little babe-in-arms) had a pile of poker chips in front of her. Rachel was dealing. It was a veritable American Girls gambling den.

You can find all the accessories in the upcoming catalog, I'm sure - visors, cigars, maybe even a mini-print of that picture with the doggies playing pool. The merchandising possibilities are legion. Any suggestions?

[Photo Credit: What American Girl Doll]