Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve

We're having a wild and crazy night here: Larry and Susie have fallen asleep on the couch, David is doing college applications, and Brian (with 2 of his friends) is having a Dr. Who marathon in the basement.  Rachel is waiting for me to play cards with her (I know! The excitement!), so - for the final night of 2014 - I will leave you with some of my favorite tweets of the year. A Happy New Year to all of you! 

My superpower is the ability to be the only one in this house who can see the trash overflowing.

If Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel today, instead of saying "what manner of salutation is this? " she'd just say, "OMG, WTF?"
The last machine I raged against had my bag of Funyons stuck on the spindle thingy.
If I were holding my baby, and I saw a spider on my arm, I'm not confident of what my instinct would be.
A tornado siren but for when my daughter rolls her eyes at my wife.
You always hear about how scary clowns are yet nobody ever mentions middle-aged women in pigtails.
"Finish your homework before you get online, Malala." "I must have misplaced it, maybe I'll check here under my NOBEL PEACE PRIZE."
Married with Children was much funnier on TV.
I always see more people walking into Sam's Club than out of Sam's Club, but the meat's cheap, so I don't ask questions.

How dare you refer to the internet as "outrage culture," you stupid talentless hack. Unbelievable.

Sorry pregnant ladies, all of your 3D ultrasounds look like Gollum in an Ikea lampshade.
Nothing helps you realize your parents weren't assholes for no good reason than trying to put a fitted sheet on the top bunk.
The closest we've ever come to time travel is saying, "Hang on I'm just gonna check one thing on the internet," and then it's 5 hours later.
So we’re all just going to keep pretending Putin isn’t Dobby’s long lost brother? Ok cool.
Tennille to Captain: "Look at me. Look at me. I'm the Captain now."
Teenage daughters: because God hates parents.

[Twitter image: Edudemic
[Happy Twitter: The Telegraph]
[Hat Twitter: seoclerks]

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Water, Water Everywhere

You know what's fun? When one of your kids walks up to you at 10 PM and says, "There's water dripping from the fan in the bathroom ceiling."

That would be the ceiling directly under the attic, folks.  I could actually feel Larry's blood pressure shoot up when he heard this.  Especially when I said, "Oh, yes - I kept meaning to ask you about that weird spot near the fan where it looks as though the ceiling is bulging."  He loved that.

We decided to wait until morning to investigate, as we'd need daylight shining through to show us where the roof leak was.  I couldn't sleep, thinking about how much a new roof might cost, so I finished Bel Canto.  I'm very proud of myself for reading a work of fiction, finally.   I might even try another one.  Or maybe not.  We don't want to get too carried away around here.

Remember my week without an IPad? Once I got it back, I (somewhat grudgingly) adopted Christine's suggestion - I now charge up this particularly addictive electronic device only once a week.  When it runs out of battery, that's it - until the next Sunday, anyway.  This approach has definitely helped to limit the time I waste playing Words With Friends and scrolling through Twitter, but I was probably still better off (healthy-living-wise) the week I was without the IPad altogether.

I can't give it up though, I just can't.  My preciousss...

[Gollum image: Wikia]

Thursday, December 25, 2014

True Colors

14-year-old Brian woke us up at 7:10 this morning, which made me so cranky I snarled at everyone for an hour.  I guess we Jews aren't so good at that Merry Christmas thing.

All 6 of my kids were here for Christmas dinner, which made me very happy. We essentially cooked Thanksgiving dinner all over again, as Theo wasn't home for that holiday.  As a side note, I am sick of cooking and have no desire to ever cook anything ever again.  This is it - 24 Christmases and I am done.  DONE.

2 people (including a spouse who shall not be named) gave me scarves that were predominantly black or grey.  Has no one else seen the episode of All in the Family where Edith is going through menopause and flips out over the black suitcases?  I AM THAT WOMAN NOW.  

This is the WRONG green

All the Christmas knitting got done, except the thumbs on Anna's fingerless mitts.  That's pretty good, right?  I managed fingerless mitts for the 2 Girl Scout leaders and my yoga teacher (along with the above-mentioned thumbless ones for Anna), plus a scarf for Theo.  I am content.  Onward to January knitting, which will all be FOR ME (well, except the fingerless mitts I rashly promised to both Rachel and Susie).

Dammit, I tried to take a good picture, but the color of the green mitts (which are, in real life, a stunning emerald green) just won't show up right.  I even brought in a lamp and moved it behind me, and in front of me, and right on top of the darn things, just like I imagine a real photographer would do.  And yet, the color of the purple ones is spot on. What is up with that?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Marriage. For Reals.

So, Larry and I had a cocktail party to go to on Saturday night.  It's an annual thing at a friend's house - someone we don't get to see very often during the year, now that all our kids are older and we spend all our time driving them around.  Other people show up whom we also rarely get to see, so it is a pleasant yearly reunion of sorts.

At 6:45, Larry headed upstairs.  "Oh, yeah," I thought. "I should start getting ready, too."  When I reached the bedroom, however, I discovered that the floor in front of the master bathroom and the master closet was covered by things that Larry had apparently just pulled out from under the sink.  ALL THE THINGS.  A veritable cornucopia of Q-Tips, deodorants, razors, panty liners, and hair appliances effectively blocked my access to my dress-up clothes, my make-up, and my hair goo.  The bathroom door was closed, and I could hear banging going on.  "What happened?" I called to Larry. "Was something leaking?"

"No," he called back. "I'm just fixing the drain."

Fixing the drain...

"You mean the one that has been clogged all month?" I asked.

"Yeah, that one."

Don Draper never fancies himself a plumber
People, I had to go into the other bathroom and sit down with my head between my knees.  The man formerly known as my beloved had just spent a good 4 hours relaxing on the couch with a book - 4 hours during which the urge to fix a long-clogged drain had not once seized him. But now? Right before a party? Hey, why not?

Now, perhaps Larry thinks I am naturally beautiful and isn't aware that this face takes a bit of work if I am going to go out in public.  Or maybe he wrongly assumes that  I keep my party clothes somewhere besides the master closet.  Or maybe he is just a passive-aggressive psycho who likes to destroy the bathroom minutes before his wife needs it to get ready for a fancy party.

And yes, I do think it's that last one, actually.

I returned to my formerly functional living quarters and let loose with all the reasons that attempting to fix a clogged sink 45 minutes before a social engagement is a BAD IDEA.  Larry - apparently sensing displeasure in my tone - left the bathroom, muttering, "I was just trying to help," as if he had the right to feel aggrieved.  And then he acted huffy because I threw him out of the bedroom area altogether while I got dressed.  For better or for worse, people, but not for watching your middle-aged spouse struggle into Spanx and support hose.

[Mad Men image: Queen of Style]

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Flavored Lip Gloss Doesn't Cut It Anymore, I Guess

"Mommy, Alison got an IPhone for her birthday!" Susie informed me while we were out shopping.

"Alison?  As in 12-year-old Alison with the really sensible parents?" I asked, my heart dropping at the thought of yet one more of my girls' tween friends walking around with the Internet in her pocket.

"Yup! Isn't that neat?"

"No. No, it isn't. Not at all."

I know these people well.  They're wonderful parents - loving, strict - and their kids are great.  And now even they are handing out smartphones.  Which says to me that this - IPhones for teens and tweens, that is - has simply become the new norm.

Look, I'm not a Luddite, and - 23 years into this parenting gig - I am certainly not at all idealistic about raising children; I am all too aware that, no matter how you raise them and what rules you may enforce, those kids are going to do what they like the minute they leave your house (and sometimes before that).  Hey, my only prayer now is that none of my children grows up to be an axe murderer. Seriously.

But why does a tween need a smartphone in the first place? I know access to a phone is somewhat of a necessity now - my kids all have dumb phones with talk and text so they can stay in contact with us or with their friends. Heck, a dumb phone is what I use myself, although I certainly wouldn't turn down a better device if someone were to hand it to me (with a free data plan, of course).  But a tween?

Maybe what bothers me is that kids (mine included) act so entitled these days (yes, I just wrote "kids these days" - so sue me) - I mean, don't they have to wait until they are grown-up for anything anymore?  And if you give them an IPhone at age 12, what can you wow them with when they are 16? You know, I remember being excited about tangerine-flavored lip gloss when I was 12. Granted, I was a simple child, but still...

Or perhaps my real problem is that a 12-year-old (and my kids, when they are with her) has unsupervised access to the Internet - do people actually bother to restrict that anymore?  Or is that just too 2010?  Have we all simply given up, what with the Internet being so darn ubiquitous these days?

And how can people risk giving their kids expensive electronics, anyway? Is there special insurance for these things? I'll have you know that, last summer, my 14-year-old managed to jump into a pool with his (luckily cheap) cellphone in his pocket.  I would have killed him if he had done that with an IPhone.  Is there some secret place where all the other parents are buying these things cheaply and no one has told me?

In short, is there something everyone knows that I don't?  Do all your kids have smartphones now? Am I the lone tightwad holdout here? And what IS up with kids these days, anyway?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Impersonating A Gentile

I am inordinately proud of this
So what does a Jew in an interfaith household do on the first night of Chanukah?  She puts up Christmas lights, of course.  It's taken years for me to get the hang of this, but I can now manage to make it look as though I know what I am doing with a long string of icicle lights.  Don't I make a good goy?

In other news, tonight I managed to find the dreidels AND the menorah, all in one fell swoop.  I would like to thank the super-organized me of January 2014, who packed all the holiday things together properly before sending them up to the attic.  I used to be one amazing woman, I tell you.

My only concern is that I cannot find my Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers Christmas CD.  I suspect foul play, as Larry has never evinced much fondness for listening to lyrics such as "Pass the porter, pass the beer, Christmas comes but once a year."  Coal in his stocking, for sure...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Yarn, Paper, Wood

I am knitting thumbs tonight.  I will be very glad when all this is behind me.

I just finished ANOTHER book - The World's Strongest Librarian. Quirky but a good read, and I learned a lot about Tourette's Syndrome.  You'll notice that my memoir habit still exists.  The 2 other books I've just read are Ann Patchett's compilation of non-fiction memoir-type essays This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage (excellent) and David Harris-Gershon's What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife? (which wins the prize for longest title ever).  This last was pretty good, if only for its excellent description of the history behind the state of constant crisis in the Middle East.

Oh, AND The Late Starters Orchestra, by Ari L. Goldman. That one was okay, although the author went on too long about his son's cello lessons.  Also, it could have been titled "If You Have Lots of Money, You Can Do Many Neat Things as You Get Older" or (even better) "With Lots of Money, Middle Age Does Not Have To Suck."  Still, it got me thinking - for an evening, anyway - about asking to audit my kids' summer band camp and learn a new instrument.  So, yeah, sort of inspiring.

You will be noting the effect of my not having my IPad handy, right? I'm almost caught up on my New Yorkers, also.  I did retrieve said IPad this afternoon and spent a blissful 25 minutes on it, catching up on Words With Friends and checking out Twitter.  But not this evening.  This evening, I'm all thumbs.

Get it?  ALL THUMBS.  Oh, man, I'm something else.

I'll try it, but I won't promise I'll like it

So! A variety of novels written by Ann Patchett are winging their way toward me right now, courtesy of PaperbackSwap, as I try once again to revive the interest in literary fiction that abandoned me completely the day my eldest child was born (oh, 23 years ago).  I don't know why that happened, but it did.

In other news, Larry came home early today and took the girls to go buy a Christmas tree.  As mentioned in these pixels before, our family tree tradition consists of selecting one of many pre-cut and reasonably priced trees from the outside lot of our nearby Home Depot. Festive it isn't, but it's definitely efficient.  The three of them came back with a very nice-looking tree that now reminds me of ALL THE THINGS I still need to do over the next 9 days.

Including knitting thumbs - I've got to get back at it now, folks, time's a-wastin'...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Anyone Have A Spare Quill Pen?

Remember this post here?  You know, the one I wrote last Monday, telling you all about my having left my IPad at the art teacher's house and I didn't know how I would even manage until I could retrieve it on Wednesday?

I never picked it up.

Me, without an IPad
That's right, folks - it's been 6 DAYS without it. I've read 2 books, 1/2 a New Yorker, and done a lot of knitting.  There was even some jigsaw puzzling going on. And, I will have you know, I am not the only one surprised by my resilience in the face of hardship. In fact, after dinner tonight, Larry (clutching his trusty IPod Touch) looked at me on the couch, where I was reading Ann Patchett's latest compendium of non-fiction essays (excellent - I highly recommend it) and said, "I didn't think you could do it."

"Yes," I said.  "I did.  It's one week tomorrow."

"I really didn't think you could do it," he repeated, staring at me as if I were wearing a prairie dress and bonnet and churning butter right there in our living room.

"Well," I said, "I guess SOME of us aren't addicted to our electronics." Hey, I earned a little gloating, all right?

Unfortunately, this makes tomorrow my moment (or day, really) of truth: the girls have art class on Mondays, so I will once again be in possession of my beloved IPad. Much as I LOVE playing Words With Friends and trading quips on Twitter, I have to admit that I have felt more grounded and sane not having my nose in the Internet all the time.  So, short of moving to the moon, what am I supposed to do about this pesky conundrum?

In other words, I desperately need to hear what has worked for you in your own quest to limit personal electronic usage.  Considering that you are AT THIS VERY MOMENT wasting your time reading this blog on the Internet, this may turn out to be a matter of the blind leading the blind, right?  But let's give it a try, anyway - especially since I can't seem to remember whom we asked for advice before the advent of the worldwide web.

[Butter churn image: History for Children]

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Jews Have More Pun

Did you wake up this morning thinking, "Gee, today seems nice, but a slew of Yiddishe puns would make it a whole lot better"? Well, look no further, folks - Simcha Fisher has you covered.  Just put down the cookie dough and the shopping list and take a look, will you?  I'd copy and paste the whole thing here, but that wouldn't be right.

And yes, all 3 of those hyperlinks go to the same page.  I really want you to see it, all right?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Fun! Educational! Sort of...anyway, this is what I managed to waste time on today (seeing as how I don't have my IPad to keep me company):

Monday, December 08, 2014

Forced Deprivation

Have I told you about my IPad? I've had it for a little over a year (it was my dad's, actually, and I inherited it when he died). Today I left my IPad at the art teacher's house and didn't realize it until I was all the way home. Now here's what bothers me: 14 months ago I didn't even need an IPad. But today, when I realized I had left it 15 minutes from my house? Well, I don't think "panicked" is too strong a word to describe how I felt, if panicked means that feeling where you can't breathe right and one of your limbs seems to be missing.

My faithful companion
So! I have challenged myself to wait until Wednesday to retrieve my lovely little electronic friend. A little over 48 hours to wait, people, and I do not know if I will be able to do it. I will have to use our balky desktop computer if I need ANYTHING Internet-related. Weather reports, Amazon, Paperback Swap, Ravelry, EMAIL...and believe me, there is nothing efficient or pleasurable about sitting at the computer desk, drumming my fingers on the mouse and waiting for a graphics-heavy page to load. I'm telling you, it makes Morse code look efficient.

There will be no lounging on the couch in the evening, either, happily playing Words With Friends or scrolling through Facebook or Twitter. Heavens - I might actually have to pick up one of these library books I have lying around or catch up on the last 2 issues of The New Yorker. Or maybe I should just finish knitting those last few pairs of fingerless mitts I plan to give as Christmas gifts? This whole experience has the potential to be spiritually regenerative, I guess - a sort of finding my way back to all those things I loved before the blasted Internet became so easy to use. I mean, it's almost like I am going on a retreat, in the comfort of my very own home. That's good, right?

But I still miss that darn IPad.

[IPad image: Amazon]

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Recapturing My Youth

I believe I am beginning to make a fine art out of wasting time.  Darn you, Internet, with your viral videos and you, too, Twitter, with your hashtags and 140-character quips.  I wonder, do you hear of anyone on their deathbeds saying they wished they had spent more time on Facebook?  I'm thinking I will have to pull the plug on all things Internet, just to get a handle on this problem.

Or, maybe no.  Let's not be rash.  After all, what would I do without you lovely readers?

Anywhoo, my fingerless-mitt knitting extravaganza is proceeding apace.  At this rate, I will have to knit, oh, 6 pairs of thumbs some evening next week, all the while bemoaning the fact that I saved them to do all at once.  I don't seem to learn from my mistakes, now do I?

I'm not even shopping for kids' presents until the 21st - I mean, aside from ordering some books from Paperback Swap for Rachel.  That's right, folks - for the SIXTH YEAR RUNNING, I am holding fast to my resolution not to prepare for Christmas until the last week or so.  Stressful?  Not at all.  While the rest of you are talking about running around, looking for gifts, making cookies, and generally doing all things Christmas right now, I am sitting here with my fingers (figuratively) in my ears, singing, "LA, LA, LA, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

Yes, it does feel great.  Thanks for asking.  You see, the years previous, I had subscribed to the notion that it was best to get EVERYTHING DONE in November and the beginning of December, which method only resulted in my trying to do everything right, so we would have an awesome Christmas. Because, you see, I had so much time to prepare. This, I can sadly attest, is a very stressful way to approach the holiday season.

Hark back, if you will, to your college days, when you (or at least I) sat in finals until the 21st of December and couldn't even THINK about Christmas until that last exam book was handed in. At that point, it was actually fun to realize, "Oh, hey, it's almost Christmas!" I would go off to the nearest store and buy some silly presents for everyone I knew and maybe even pick up a Charlie-Brown-type Christmas tree for my off-campus apartment.  Then I would call up (or maybe run into?) a few friends (how did we manage to get together without cellphones, anyway?) and invite them over to my place for hot cocoa and Christmas carols on the turntable (that would be a Flintstones-era music player, you young'uns) and probably a game of Trivial Pursuit (it being the 80's and all).

No stress.  No striving for perfection.  Just enjoying one another's company and the end of all that exam pressure.  And that is the feeling I am going for here.  Of course, I don't think anyone at age 51 (particularly someone with 6 kids) could ever feel as carefree as a 20-year-old, but I am certainly going to give it the old college try.

College try...oh, I slay me...

[CB tree image: Digital Bullpen]

Thursday, December 04, 2014

In Over My Head

What's up for today? Oh, not much - just ice skating, and the dentist for 4 kids, and, oh yes, a Girl Scout field trip into the city. I don't know about you, but I tend to get stressed out when there is more than one major thing scheduled per day. Today, therefore, officially ranks as a humdinger.

So, naturally, to make things easier on myself, I stayed up past midnight, playing Words With Friends and hanging out on Twitter. I never claimed to be rational, you know. Wish me luck - I am going to need it.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Show Me The Money

Apparently, my cleaning skills at half-past midnight are not top-notch.  The day after Thanksgiving, the entire bathroom smelled unmistakably like puke, thanks to Susie's overindulgence the day before. It reminded me of my freshman year dorm on Sunday mornings, when the odor of regurgitated beer and pizza filled the air.  In desperation, on Saturday I went to PetCo and picked up this remarkable product:

An essential part of any parent's toolkit....

Yes, this is my new friend.  I SOAKED the affected areas (sink counter, wooden vanity, wall, heating duct, and Little Tykes step stool) with this stuff before I went to bed.  The next morning, miracle of miracles, only a faint smell of pumpkin pie barf still lingered.

Pumpkin Pie Barf - new flavor coming soon to a Starbucks near're welcome.

The cashier at Petco said it worked really well for her also, on the unfortunate occasion when her son spilled milk under the couch and left it. And no, it hasn't escaped me that we both shopped at a pet supply store for cleaning supplies to deal with our kids' messes. It would appear that children are nothing but glorified pets, after all, aside from that whole college tuition thing.

Speaking of which, David has been applying to colleges, which activity always makes for a fun holiday season. Luckily, a couple of the schools have not required essays. Either they have finally realized what a bunch of BS the college-application essay is, or else they take anyone who can fill out a basic form. "Are these places accredited?" I asked, concerned enough about the lack of essays and the comparatively low application fee to put down the scarf I was working on.

"Of course," David said. "They DO ask for my transcripts and my scores, you know."

"I know," I said, "but maybe they just do that for show? What is their acceptance rate, anyway?"

"I think it's about 75%, actually."

"Is that higher than normal? Is this a real school?"

"Well, it looks like one on the website. See, look, there's a quad with a bunch of students walking together and carrying books."

I squinted at the screen. "Are we sure they aren't just actors?"

"I don't know," said David, "but I do know the school offers free tuition and room and board to anyone with test scores like mine."

"Really? Well, then, that sounds real enough to me," I said, returning to my knitting.

I do hope no one reads this blog for a rigorous analysis of the relative merits of various institutions of higher learning.  Around here, we're all about the money.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Jean-ius Idea

I woke up this morning and realized that I had no clean jeans to wear, so I was forced to stay in my pajama pants all day and lie around reading a book (Leaving Church) while playing Words With Friends. Really, I couldn't have planned things better if I tried.

And don't begrudge me my laziness, people - I mean, not unless you too were woken up around midnight by a child informing you she had just thrown up. I don't know why we can't have a holiday without someone regurgitating all the holiday goodies, but there you are. Every family has its traditions, I guess.

It was Susie this time - she claims she WOKE UP to find herself standing in the bathroom, at which point she barfed into the sink. So, 3 cheers for sleepwalking, eh?

Useful, but a hazmat suit would've been helpful, too

Unfortunately, she didn't have great aim, which explains why I was on my hands and knees in the bathroom in the middle of the night, wiping vomit off the freshly painted walls and trying to floss the slats of the heating vent clean of any puke particles. Larry stood in the hallway and handed me paper towels and bleach spray like the pro he is. Neither of us looked terribly alert, which might explain why the bathroom still smelled of puke this morning.

Is anyone still reading this?

Anyway, my point is, I earned this pants-less day. Tomorrow I will resume shouldering my usual responsibilities; but for a while, at least, I was able to live out the desert island fantasies entertained by many a mother with 4 kids still at home. I mean, so long as the desert island has Internet access...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I Will Survive

It's just not Thanksgiving without this singing turkey, folks.  Enjoy!  I'm off to figure out how to roast brussels sprouts and carrots while the turkey is in the oven.  I guess this is one of those things I forgot to do yesterday while I was busy patting myself on the back for making the stuffing ahead of time.  Pride goeth before a fall, and all that...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Encroaching Darkness

I spent 3 hours in IKEA today and - quite remarkably - spent less than 50 dollars.  Most of that money went for a curtain and a curtain rod to conceal the upstairs linen closet, which has become Job One in our ongoing campaign to eradicate bi-fold closet doors. Soon, I will be able to retrieve a new roll of toilet paper without the closet door, which is propped up against one side of the frame for all the world like a drunk who can't hold his liquor, falling on my head.

It's the little things, folks.

I'm calling it my Sherlock pillow.
The rest of the money I spent on a throw pillow (removable cover!) to cushion the spot on our new-to-us leather recliner couch where a metal bar pokes into one's butt.  This problem makes it rather painful to be the one stuck in the middle seat, so I am counting on this pillow to not only redeem our impulsive used furniture purchase but also render my Benedict Cumberbatch ogling sessions more comfortable.

In the meantime, Larry has gone off to Home Depot in an effort to relieve the Great Lightbulb Shortage of 2014. You see, ever since incandescents were banned and fluorescent and LED bulbs took over the store shelves, I have been flummoxed - FLUMMOXED, I tell you - every time I have attempted to buy some light bulbs.  For the life of me, I cannot tell which bulbs are the ones that come on immediately and which are the ones that take forever to warm up to full brightness and which ones hurt my eyes if I look at them.

So now we are down to zero spare light bulbs in the house and even some empty sockets, as we have slowly cannibalized the lamps in order to have working bulbs in the overhead fixtures.  I informed my somewhat confused spouse yesterday that I am incapable of ever buying these things again and he would just have to do the thinking for both of us.

Which is why Larry is at Home Depot right now, undoubtedly staring at all the expensive light bulbs and thinking, "What the heck?"

Speaking of which, I thought these newfangled bulbs were supposed to last longer and that's why they are more expensive.  Why then am I still replacing light bulbs every minute? Can someone explain this to me?  Please?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fan Girl

Well, I've learned what it takes to keep my house presentable. All I have to do is have people over twice a week. Let's see, park day last Friday, Bunko on Monday, park day today...voila! Clean house!

I guess I had better invite someone over for Thanksgiving before this place turns into a junkyard again.

In other news, having run through all the Dr. Who episodes available on Netflix, we decided to try Sherlock (mostly because everyone I know has said, "Oh, you HAVE to see Sherlock!" Talk about peer pressure, huh?). I'm not really into detective/crime stuff, so I didn't have high hopes for this show. But I convinced Larry and the boys to try it with me, and we all snuggled down last week on our (new-to-us) awesome couch to see what all the fuss was about.

Apparently, THIS is what all the fuss was about:

Good Lord, people, I had never seen this man act before. How does he do that...that thing with his eyes that lets you know he's thinking? And that little jerk of the chin when something snags his attention?  And that voice?

Look, I just didn't think it was possible to swoon this much. And, lest you think I am swayed only by this man's preternaturally good looks, I'm equally impressed with this fellow here:

No movie-star looks, but still...perfection. Acting perfection. What is up with the British, anyway? Are they raised in special acting camps from the age of 5?  Are they genetically screened at birth for dramatic ability? Or maybe it's just something in their drinking water.  Whatever it is, even the actors in bit parts in British productions have it all over American actors.

You think these guys are busy for Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cold, No Snow

So I would be lying if I didn't admit that we've wasted a lot of time the past few days Googling pictures of the snow in the Buffalo, NY, area.  A LOT.  But it is irresistible to us deprived Southerners, I guess.

I've raised 6 Southerners.  This still bothers the Jersey girl in me, you know.

My kids don't recognize the beauty of this man.  I have failed.

Anywhoo, our favorite Buffalo-area photo is the one where the snow smashed the family room door in.  What do you do when snow invades your home?  Apparently, you call 911 and a bunch of hunk-y firemen come help you dig out.  Now that's my kind of snowstorm.  I'll make hot cocoa for shovel-wielding firefighters any day.

Where was I?  I don't know.  So, anyway, it finally got COLD here, but of course there is none of the white stuff to enjoy. I find myself having to re-educate the teens on how to dress to avoid frostbite, but certain children of mine (BRIAN) seem to find it easier to complain about the cold than to put on a coat when taking out the garbage.

Sing it, St. Francis!
Speaking of complaining, certain children of mine (BRIAN) also find it easier to kvetch that the overhead light in their room is not working than to strategically position a couple of lamps so as to continue building with Legos.  And my telling the affected offspring "Tis better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness" did not seem to do much toward resolving the situation.

But it sure made me happy.

So now Brian is cleaning up his room, because I told him the electrician couldn't fix anything until we removed the risk of a liability lawsuit being engendered by the Legos scattered EVERYWHERE in there (and I am kicking myself for not taking a before picture).  The vacuum cleaner is running as I type. I call this a win, don't you?  I mean, so long as you ignore the money I'll be spending on the electrician?

[Bruce photo: Rolling Stone]
[Candle image: Aligning With Truth]

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Crisis Clean

Last month, when the weather was still warm and winter was oh so far away, I somewhat rashly volunteered to hold cold weather homeschool park days at my house, not realizing that my regrettable impulse toward hospitality meant that I would have to excavate our basement playroom.  You see, normally, we manage to use that room as is - the neighborhood kids are used to the flotsam and jetsam that ends up down there, and they are all old enough not to get hurt by the shop vac, say, that somehow ended up next to the exercise bike or by the piles of construction materials that Larry pulled out of the basement (guest room) shower because his sister was coming to visit.

Look, I never said I liked living this way, okay?

But park day - that meant numerous kids, ages 3 and up, visiting our far-from-childproofed basement playroom.  Aside from the public humiliation I'd experience should I leave everything where it was, there was also the possibility of liability lawsuits to consider.  So Friday morning the kids and I got to work.

Quite frankly, it was a horrendous experience - I mean, who knew there could be that many shards of plastic Easter eggs embedded in any one carpet?  And the pencils! Apparently, the basement is where all the pencils go to hide the minute the kids sit down to do any schoolwork. But the girls worked hard, putting away stray game pieces (SO MANY GAME PIECES), fitting all the games into the cabinet so that it would actually close (this is a Tetris-like puzzle, actually, that is quite difficult to solve), and neatening the bookshelves so that they didn't look as if a tornado had just hit them.

Brian did himself proud, also, hauling the 2x4's and panels of extra insulation and drywall back into the basement shower (shut up), while David hustled around, moving all sorts of myriad painting supplies and the shop vac I didn't even know we owned back into the laundry room whence they came. In the meantime, I labored over piles (PILES) of Larry's books which had been displaced from a bookshelf I gave to Anna months ago; I thought I had already managed to find homes for all of them, but apparently I was living a lie.

People, my basement looks so good right now.  And no one got hurt last Friday, when everyone showed up to play.  And, because I had to clean up and childproof the main floor for any babies who might be at park day, my house is almost all ready for Bunko tomorrow night.  I call that a win-win-win scenario.

But this question lingers in my brain - do any of you have to work this hard just to have people over? Or are we just hopeless slobs, as I have theorized before?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Budgetary and Dromedary Almost Rhyme, Right?

I ended up buying some more yarn, because that stupid Michael's coupon went on for FOUR WHOLE DAYS, and have I mentioned that I can walk to that store from my house?  So, yeah, it's getting a little ridiculous here.  And then, because I am suffering from an extreme case of start-itis, I cast on for a hat for Susie.  Because I didn't have enough to knit already, with 5 other projects on the needles.

Tried to pose it with flowers, but flowers were too tall.

So now I have to explain to Larry that, what with the yarn and the winter clothes and my weekly trip to Costco, I seem to have gone way over budget and could we just pretend I didn't do that and start fresh this payday?  I mean, just get my regular amount of money and not subtract for the things that ended up on the credit card the past 2 weeks or so? You know, a sort of amnesty? Larry? Larry?

Incidentally, this seems to happen somewhere towards the end of every year, where I end up one whole payday behind.  In a perfect world, we would have one extra payday per year, conveniently situated in November; but I guess that simply isn't possible in this post-Eden existence of ours.

All this might explain, by the way, why Larry insists on our staying on a mostly cash basis around here.  Of course, he set up that system before Internet shopping even existed.  I can't even remember how I managed to spend too much money back then, when everything was bought in person and stores were fussy about how you paid them.  I mean, seriously, people, I remember being in a McDonalds with a friend and her kids in 1998 or so, and we were short on cash and THEY DIDN'T EVEN TAKE CREDIT CARDS.  Also? DEBIT CARDS DID NOT EXIST.  This boggles my mind. How did we pay for fries back then?  I think I had to watch the kids while my friend jumped into her horse and buggy and drove down the street to an ATM.

Dark times, people, dark times....

Oh, and while I was taking that amazing picture of Susie's hat-to-be up there, I noticed in the background (before I cropped them out) 2 MORE CAMELS that have sneaked into my house.

I think they are mugs. See? The neck is the handle.

I probably shouldn't keep talking about my camel problem here.  I mean, before you know it, my Sitemeter stats will show people Googling "camels" and landing on this blog.  I'll start getting emails from animal rights enthusiasts who will want me to plug "Save the Camel" campaigns in my posts.  My subheading might even have to change to "Kids! Vomit! Camels!" because my entire online identity will have undergone a seismic shift, due to my eldest's predilection for gifting me with the beast-of-burden-that-shall-not-be-named.

On the other hand, I just managed to use the future perfect tense in a blog post.  So maybe even being saddled with dromedaries (get it? Saddled - oh, I slay me) has a bright side.  I mean, if you care about stuff like that...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Did Someone Say Yarn?

Well, Auntie Kate has had enough of us and has departed for her peaceful home, where no one forces her into decorating projects for children's rooms.  But before she left, she accomplished this:

Color is off again, but I never claimed to be a good photographer, you know?

The girls are thrilled, I'm thrilled, and Larry is also happy, but that is because he hasn't seen the VISA bill from the fabric store yet.  Ignorance is bliss.

In the meantime, there's been this:

Which, combined with a yarn sale, turned into this:

Apparently, restraint is not my strong suit.  See that Charisma yarn?  $1.50 a skein, after the coupon. It's a bulky yarn that knits up quickly into great hats, cowls, scarves, you name it. And it comes in a dozen awesome colorways.  Have I mentioned it was only $1.50?  How could I not fill my basket with it?

There are a couple of Sugar 'n Cream cottons thrown in there, because I keep getting this itch to knit a few dishcloths.  And then the baby yarn is needed for a top-down baby sweater I plan to knit for a neighbor. These projects would be in addition to the 3 pairs of socks and 2 pairs of fingerless mitts that I have on the needles right now.

I blame the cold weather, folks.  It brings out my inner crafter, who apparently believes that we live somewhere on the prairie during the 19th century (i.e., Before Target) and need many winter woolens to survive.  Past life experience intruding on present time? Or just a simple yarn addiction triggered by dropping temperatures?  You be the judge.  I'm too busy casting on to figure it out.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Auntie Kate, my personal home decorator, is slaving away over my sewing machine, while I sit here and blog. I'll be lucky if she ever visits us again. The project this year involves curtains to cover the closets in the girls' room, plus coordinating window treatments, which is not something I ever could have accomplished on my own. But Auntie Kate not only helped me pick out the curtain rods (believe me, this was way harder than it sounds), she also managed to find fabric for the curtains that both girls - BOTH - gave a thumbs up to.

The Miracle of the Fabric Store, we call it....

The colors aren't quite right here - that top piece has more green in it.

The reason we have to make curtains for the closets is because Larry has developed, over the years, a deep and abiding hatred for bi-fold closet doors. So much so that he trashed both sets when he tore apart the girls' room in September to insulate it. He gets a little crazy sometimes.

I don't know if Larry thought we could save money by making curtains rather than buying new closet doors; but if he did, he has a nasty surprise coming to him when he looks at our Visa bill. As in, 250 dollars worth of nasty. And that was with a fistful of Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons ( for the curtain rods) and a bunch of sale fabric at Joanne's. Maybe seeing how much money I can spend will keep Larry from tearing out more walls in our home?

I can only hope.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Twizzlers And Snickers And Rolos, Oh My!

Time sure does fly when you're busy eating all your kids' candy...

Our Halloween went well, although it was almost derailed at the outset by the discovery that our camera's battery need charging and neither Larry nor I could manage to find the proper charging cord for it. We found a lot of other charging cords, though, and had a jolly old time discovering that none of them would do the trick.  Words would have been exchanged, but luckily my mouth was too full of candy for that to happen.  As it turns out, my IPad took a decent picture of the carved pumpkins, so the festivities were able to proceed as planned.

Saved by the IPad...

Costume-wise, this year we had a red Lego piece (Susie) and a Christmas present (Rachel), plus a hastily thrown together pirate (Brian decided at the last minute that he wasn't too old to go trick-or-treating, after all). I'd like to point out here that this was Larry's 19th year in a row of taking the kids trick-or-treating, and I really don't know how he is going to cope in a couple of years when the youngest two outgrow his Halloween chaperoning services. I picture him wandering around the neighborhood, showing up on neighbors' doorsteps anyway, from sheer force of habit.

Auntie Kate arrived on Halloween day, which added to the general buzz and excitement. I mean, if excitement is what you call waking up at 7 and running around like mad for 5 hours trying to make one's home look presentable for company...I was so tired by the time she got here, it's a wonder I had the energy to shove all that Halloween candy in my mouth all evening.

But I certainly did manage. In fact, we spent the weekend eating our leftovers (we gave out only 47 of the 60 treat bags we had prepared) and the kids' unwanted loot.  True, the candyfest was interspersed with a trip to the local yarn shop and 2 (count them, 2!) yoga classes; but, truth to tell, I was still eating Snickers (fun-sized) while driving to the yoga center.

I am efficient that way.

Larry's looking forward to taking all the Halloween loot to his office tomorrow (he forgot the bag today), because that is usually what he does (and his colleagues love him for it).  But this year they won't get quite as much candy as they usually do, since Halloween wasn't followed by a workday. You know, I had never thought about how having this holiday on a Friday would give me that much more time with my beloved sweets.

Oh, short fat strawberry Twizzlers, how I adore thee!

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Have Triumphed

This is what victory looks like, people...

Yes, that's right - after a ridiculous number of hours last night and today spent untangling the painted purple skein of sock yarn that I USED TO love, I have finally managed to conquer its knottiness.  There are 2 balls there because the yarn was split in one place, which probably contributed to my winding problems in the first place.

No, this isn't turning into a knitting blog.  I just needed to vent.  Also, this is what passes for excitement around here.

In fact, it's been so exciting, I forgot to mention that I finally met Juggling Jenn in person a couple of weeks ago.  She was in DC to advocate for better treatment for eating disorders, yet she made time in her busy schedule to get together with me for dinner.  I met her at her hotel and we walked a few blocks to see the White House, something I hadn't done in, oh, about 2 decades.  That's the problem with living near our nation's capital - you take it for granted, and a visiting tourist ends up having to show you around.

We spent a few hours talking about everything and anything - blogging, eating disorders (of course), kids, mental health care.  Jenn was exactly as she appears to be in her blog, which was a relief. We've read each other's posts for just about forever (in blog years), so it felt like catching up with an old friend.

Gosh, I love blogging.  Too bad it's dead.  Soon it will only be old ladies like me left on Blogspot and Wordpress and Typepad.  Everyone else will be all witty on Twitter and annoyingly cloying on Facebook (What a great day! I have the best hubby!), and I will still be here reminiscing about kids and vomit and mice.

And listening to "Glory Days" on my IPod, of course...

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Oh, what a tangled web we weave...
I have spent my entire evening trying to untangle the above skein and roll it into a ball. Hours that I could have spent knitting if this skein had only behaved as it was supposed to, but no! I still have a ways to go, and no finished (or even started) fingerless mitts in sight.

I know...I suffer.  But isn't that yarn gorgeous?  And wouldn't it be nice if I could remember the name? Handpainted something or other, 75% superwash wool...I bought it from one of the yarn shops my sister-in-law and I managed to visit in Acadia last summer.  I've got a skein (cooperatively NOT tangled) in shades of blue, also.  4 pairs of mitts, if I can just get started...

Can you hear them?

Meanwhile, there are SO MANY BAGS of Halloween candy in this house, and every one of them is calling my name. Particularly the one that has those short, fat, chewy Twizzlers in it - you know, the kind you can only get around Halloween? I love those so much.

I probably should check to make sure it's the right kind, no? I'd hate to be disappointed on Friday, and if I test them now, I would still have time to go out and search for the right ones.

Of course, if I do that, it will be a candy free-for-all around here for the next 5 days.  ALL BAGS MUST STAY SEALED.  Get thee behind me, Twizzlers!

We have so many festivities planned, this holiday is getting busier than Christmas.  Pumpkin carving on All Hallows Eve Eve, as it were, and then a trip to Chipotle in costume on the High Holy Day itself, in order to buy our $3 Booritos, and then of course trick-or-treating, followed by the Great Candy Swap in our living room.  Auntie Kate is arriving just in time for all the excitement.  She used to arrive the week before Halloween, but she's wised up - she always ended up making all the costumes that way.

So that's what is on my mind tonight - candy and yarn.  And candy. Does anything else really matter?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In Which I Survive Introducing Myself To A Stranger

You know what?  I went to the library all by myself today.  I haven't done that in years, it seems.  I had forgotten that a trip to the library can be relaxing and fun.  Especially when I owe only $5 in overdue fines...

Then this evening I went out to hear Anna speak (I know, again - I am becoming a stalker).  I actually worked up the nerve to introduce myself this time.  It was a small group and a great discussion.  My only disappointment was that my copy of Rare Bird didn't arrive in time (Yoo-hoo, Amazon - what's up with the (not) 2-day delivery?), so Anna couldn't autograph it.  Looks like I will have to keep stalking her, I guess.

Okay, usually I sit down and start typing and a topic sort of emerges, but tonight my Muse stays stubbornly silent.  So I leave you with this informative video on the perils of second puberty (aka middle age).  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Doggy Danger

It's late, The menopause fairy won't let me sleep.  I hate her. The only time I ever want/need to sleep is at 4:30 in the afternoon.

I'm on a dishcloth binge, knitting-wise.  I just can't stop - they're like the potato chips of the craft world.  Can't knit just one...

I tried taking pictures of my creations, but they don't look right.  I swear, I am the only person on earth at this point who lacks photography skills.  Everyone else is using filters and doing whatever else it is that you do to make your photos look amazing, while I am still just trying to make sure to get whatever it is I am photographing into the frame.

In other news, my fit friend adopted an older puppy.  She brought the dog along on our walk today, which would have been FINE, except a neighbor of mine tripped over another neighbor's dog leash on Saturday and managed to bash her face in and break both her forearms.  I know, awful.  So I spent the entire walk convinced that the dog, which was essentially trotting in circles and attempting to wrap its leash around us the entire 3 miles, was going to be the death of me.

 I'm a lot of fun, really.

Okay, that's what's new.  I'm going to go pretend to sleep now.  What are you folks up to, anyway?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Wherein I Don't Even Mention Ebola

Friday? Already? Look, people, what the heck is going on here?  One second it is Tuesday, and I am boasting about canning some applesauce; and next thing I know, it is 3 DAYS LATER.  Has the space-time continuum been collapsing inward, or what?

At this rate, I'll be 80 years old by Wednesday, I swear.

We have some pumpkins now.
You know what a good friend is?  A good friend is someone who volunteers to take your 2 girls to the local fall farm festival for 4 hours when she notices that you are on the verge of a nervous breakdown because you need to accomplish 3 billion small and discrete tasks before heading off on a trip the next day.  I'm thinking I sounded a little frightening on the phone, babbling about snowplow contracts and hair appointments and Party City, all in one breath.

But I feel better now.  New haircut, snowplow contract signed and mailed, and heck, our hotel in NJ is right next to a Target - I can find party tablecloths and plates there.  Breathe.  Just breathe.

Of course, I am looking at 4 1/2 hours in the car tomorrow with 4 kids, one of whom has been down with a stomach bug all day today.  He definitely gets a window seat, I'm thinking.

Time for some shut-eye, as Larry keeps threatening to wake me at some ungodly hour in order to hit the road early.  I've packed my knitting and our Harry Potter audiobook, so I'm ready, right? We are heading up this weekend for the unveiling of my father's tombstone (it's a Jewish thing), followed by some awesome deli food and then another 4 1/2 hour drive home. Sort of like speed dating, only more stressful.

Enjoy your weekends!  Relax for me, will you?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Apples To Apples

Victory is mine.  For the first time in maybe a decade, I have managed to get some of my homemade applesauce jarred and into a canner before my family can eat it all up.

Yet more preserves artistically posed with fresh fruit...

I peeled apples all day for those 7 little jars of sauce, you know.  I read online that 21 pounds of apples should result in 7 QUARTS of applesauce - I used at least that amount and ended up with only those 7 pint jars plus another 3/4 of a quart that my family got their hands on.  Meaning, my yield is only a little more than half of what it should be.  I don't know what I am doing wrong here.

I am currently reading a memoir called A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story.  It's written by someone who grew up in Afghanistan during the late 1980's and 90's.  Let me tell you, it has made me even less sympathetic toward any complaints emanating from my offspring.  Brian had the temerity to make a face when I told him to take out the garbage tonight.  "Listen," I said, "it's not as though you have to dodge sniper bullets in order to reach the trash can."

I don't know why that kid always looks so confused when I talk to him.

Signing off here, folks - I have to try to get to bed before midnight one of these days.  The menopause fairy seems to have doused me with extra insomnia dust lately.  As if my face isn't looking haggard enough...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Spin Me 'Round Like A Record, Baby

Happy Columbus Day! Susie threw up last night, maybe to express her gut revulsion toward our honoring a conquistador with a federal holiday.  Pretty politically savvy for a nine-year-old, but kids these days...

Costco-sized pretzel container - very handy
So today has been all soda and pretzels (no beer) and hunkering down with school work and making yet ANOTHER crockpot full of applesauce, which batch might just make it into the canner before we eat it all.  Or not.  I haven't been able to get around to canning applesauce the past 10 years; I don't see why this fall should be any different.

Larry declared today FIX ALL THE CARS Day and has been shuttling our fleet of minivans over to the nearby garage to have oil changed and whatever the heck else they do that ends up costing us close to a thousand bucks a year.

We like to support the local economy, so it all works out.

Oh, and here's a picture of my latest Amazon purchase:

You're all jealous of my mad photography skills, I can tell.

No, I am not talking about the warehouse-size bottle of tabasco sauce; look at the lazy susan underneath it. LOOK AT IT! No more having to ask people to pass the salt or otherwise communicate in a civil manner at the dinner table. Now we can just spin that thing like a big ol' roulette wheel and hope that it lands with the Sriracha sauce facing the right person.  Vingt-et-deux, ladies and gentlemen! Vingt-et-deux!

Yes, my children are apparently incapable of uttering such common niceties as "Pass the salt, please." Also, they insist on referring to this item as a lousy susan, because that's what Ricky Ricardo calls it on the I Love Lucy show.  Noble savages, we call them.  Or not so noble, actually...