Friday, June 29, 2018

Staycation For The Win!

In case you were wondering, the rest of my week went just as it started: everyone gone but Susie, few obligations, hardly any driving, unscheduled bliss. Oh, there was a meal to make for another family on Monday (great timing, since I didn't have to worry about cooking for my own that night), and I did drive to pick blueberries with friends on Tuesday (but that was voluntary).

The blueberry farm also featured (freshly shorn) alpacas

 Susie and I messed around in the kitchen minimally the rest of the week: She made some curry vegetable/tofu stir fry, and I set to work using up the blueberries we brought home, because there was nobody there to eat them.

Lemon blueberry bread

I had to give away one of these loaves, because - again - there was nobody home to eat all this. And yes, I could have simply baked one loaf, as the recipe called for. But, really, why go to all that effort for just one loaf? I cannot abide inefficient cooking.

That was about the extent of our culinary experiments, though. We indulged in a couple more pizzas (hey, we walked to get them), ate eggs and grilled cheese and cucumbers (not all at once). It was heaven. No, really, HEAVEN.

I took a short nap each afternoon without feeling guilty. Heaven.

I sat around and read one of the books I got for my birthday. Heaven.

I finally planted the flowers I bought at a local garden shop. Not quite heaven (because, hey, worms and bugs and such), but it felt good to get it done.

In short, I did stuff without feeling (as I usually do) that there were a zillion other things I needed to be doing at the exact same time. For this one blessed week, I could focus solely on what I was doing at the moment.


So Larry got back late last night, bearing gifts and probably new viruses from overseas (we hugged but didn't kiss, because I've learned my lesson). Among other things, he brought me this shirt:

Note to knitter friends: No, you may not have it.

I have no idea why it says "I am famous" on it. But, hey, it's a sheep, and that's good enough. We're into sheep around here. The stuffed kind, anyway. The real kind are probably too smelly, I would think...

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Left Behind

Oh, last week was busy! What with my all-adult-things-I-hate day, followed by my birthday, and then helping Rachel get ready for Civil Air Patrol Encampment (she left Saturday), things were a bit crazy around here. So much so that, when I tripped over some suitcases in the living room Thursday evening, I said, "What are THOSE doing there?" and Larry said, "Those are mine." And I said, "Why?" And he said, "Remember? I'm going on a business trip Saturday morning."

Oh. Oh, yeah. I forgot about that.

So! Larry's gone, Rachel's gone, David's still in Texas, the 2 oldest plus Brian are in Israel, so that leaves...(turns slowly around, counts) child in the house with me. ONE.

This has never happened before. I mean, not since Theo was a baby and Anna wasn't born yet. Let's see, that was, hmmm, 25 years ago. A quarter of a century, to put it another way. Almost half my life.

People, this feels WEIRD. "There's no one here," Susie keeps saying.

We eat what we want. We do what we want. No one else's schedule to consider, no one else's food preferences to take into account. I feel as though I'm on vacation. For dinner last night, we walked (exercise!) to a local grocery store and picked up a (darn good) pizza for 10 dollars. It lasted for two nights. ONE PIZZA. Susie made a cute little salad for the two of us this evening. Is this how normal people live? Normal, meaning people who DON'T decide to have 6 kids?

Our adorable 2-person salad

Today I invited my knitting friends over for the afternoon. No one else to consult, and house was already clean because there's no one here. Is this why normal people find it so easy to entertain?

Oh, there are drawbacks to being the only ones here. Last night I had to chase down a daddy longlegs spider with the vacuum hose, while Susie shouted encouragement and I tried not to scream; some appliance in the house is giving out a periodic warning beep and neither of us can figure out what it is; and there aren't enough people here for me to use the 2 beautiful cooking pots Larry (somewhat trepidatiously but with Susie's approval) bought me for my birthday.


Really, I wanted them. Up to now, any time I cooked something too big for the 6-quart pot, I had to use a huge 16-quart one, which is too tall and too heavy for me to handle safely. So Larry bought me a nice 12-quart number with a colander insert (Hooray! no more risk of scalding myself while draining spaghetti!). He replaced the old 6-qt one, too - the one I bought 14 years ago that has a broken handle that keeps coming loose.

So that's 55 years for you - a couple of stainless steel pots makes a good birthday. There was some chocolate, too, of course, and a book or two. But mostly there was enjoyment of a day free of dental appointments, funerals, and board meetings. I met up with a friend I hadn't seen in a while - she treated me to gelato and we took a walk. I tried on clothes at Chico's (motto: Where All The Apple-Shaped Ladies Shop) but didn't buy anything. I let Larry take me out to dinner at Nando's. Best of all, I received a video call from my 3 overseas kids, all sitting on a porch swing thousands of miles away, laughing and talking and making this mom's heart sing.

Because, hey - it's my birthday, and I'll kvell if I want to. You would kvell, too...

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Birthday Eve

Today saw me doing all the adult things I hate: Dentist appointment! Funeral! HOA board meeting! And the only thing that got me through (besides the fact that I had no choice on any of it) was the thought that, hey, tomorrow? Is my birthday!

Susie made me more flowers for the occasion:

With Pinterest-y corks, too! 

In just a couple of hours I turn 55 (a thought that, admittedly, feels pretty weird - I mean, didn't I just turn 50, like, last year?). Okay, now I wish I hadn't clicked on that last link. Apparently, when I turned 50, I was planning to do something special on my 55th - a bike trip with girlfriends and NO CAMPING, maybe. 55 seemed a really long way off then, and I was going to be free to do neat stuff and apparently in good enough shape for a week-long bicycling trip.

Where DOES a dream go when it dies, anyway? Huh?

So the future is here, apparently, and is not what I thought it would be. Also, I have nothing planned for tomorrow. NOTHING. Except maybe going to clothing stores all by myself (for once) so I can try to find clothes that fit (which, according to that same link, is the activity I planned for my 50th also) (because I'm still as boring as I was 5 years ago, apparently).

I told Susie my shopping plan, and she said, "That's an AWFUL idea for your birthday. You'll get all depressed when you can't find anything!"

Ignoring that, uh, vote of confidence concerning my ability to fit into clothes, I'll throw it out there - what would YOU do on your birthday?

Friday, June 15, 2018

All Washed Up

You know when is NOT a good time to realize that your minivan leaks? When you're taking that van through a car wash, that's when.

So, yeah, that happened. In retrospect, I should have paid more attention the past couple of weeks when I noticed a mildewy smell in the car. Gee, I thought, that smells just like when the cooler leaked during our camping trip! But there was no cooler in my car lately, so I chalked it up alternately to humidity and/or the AC system (and not the 8 straight days of rain we'd had) and went on my merry way.

I don't even know where to get this fixed. It must be a gasket, right? Do I take it to a body shop? Where IS a body shop?

Actually, I could use a body shop myself. I'm turning 55 next week, and boy do I look it. You know things are getting bad when you consider sleeping inverted to counteract the daylong effects of gravity on your face.

Is that just me? Oh, well.

I was 44 when I started this blog and I wish I could reach back through time to shake myself and yell, "Get up! Go exercise! Exercise more! Moisturize! Use sunscreen!" But no - I just sat here and blogged about kids and vomit and mice while letting time and sun do their damage. I've no one to blame but myself. I ignored all the obvious signs, just like I ignored the mildew smell in my car. So, yeah, there's a pattern here.

On the bright, wait...I'm working on the bright side. It's around here somewhere.

Wrapped and ready!

Father's Day is this Sunday (as if you didn't know, what with all the heartwarming dad-related essays being passed around Facebook), and we've already gotten Larry a gift, several days early. I like to surprise myself with some unwonted efficiency sometimes, which results in crazy things happening like that. And keep in mind that just because that looks like Christmas wrapping doesn't mean it actually IS Christmas wrapping. (But it is.)

I can't tell you what's in there, though, in case Larry actually takes a look at this here blog of mine before Sunday. He hasn't in years, but you never know...

Almost too cute to be a filing cabinet

I also bought him a little rolling file cabinet (used - only $15!), but I didn't bother wrapping that. I'm hoping I can use it to store the contents of those 2 boxes Larry dumped in the newly pristine corner of our bedroom a couple of weeks ago. Then, if he tries to stick it back in that corner, I can just roll it away on its tiny cute wheels. Maybe I'll roll it into Brian's bedroom. Poor Brian - he's only been gone 6 days, and I'm already using his room to store our "give away" bin AND a box full of sheets (for our beach house vacation in August). So he probably wouldn't even notice an extra filing cabinet, right?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Monday was David's birthday. The BIG birthday, 21. He's in Texas for his internship, but that didn't keep Susie and me from celebrating.

In absentia birthday cake

We took a video of us lighting the candle and singing Happy Birthday and sent it to him. Then we ate all the blondies ourselves. It's the thought that counts, right?

Remember David? He used to be our tech guru around here, before Brian was old enough to care about such stuff. Larry and I were terrified when David departed for college, left alone as we were in a sea of technology we didn't understand. As it was, Brian stepped in to fill the gap and we've been happily coasting along on his know-how for the past 3 years.

But now Brian's left us, too. And, as if on cue, my computer has gone berserk. First the sound got stuck at 100%. That's LOUD, in case you were wondering. No matter which sound thing-y I used  - keyboard buttons, slider on the monitor, slider on the actual video - I couldn't get the volume to decrease. In a panic, I hit a bunch of buttons, then I hit mute and it shut up (the mute button hadn't worked previously). Now I can't get any sound at all.

I look around to see who will fill Brian's shoes and things don't look promising. Rachel couldn't care less (although she could probably figure these things out), and Susie refuses to even consider any tech beyond her beloved YouTube, filled as it is with ukulele lessons and crafting tutorials.

Hyacinths, courtesy of Susie and YouTube

There's no one to save me this time. I'll become the old person Brian has grown to dread - the one who shows up at Best Buy and peppers him and other sales staff with myriad tech questions, all accumulated since the last time their grown kids visited at Thanksgiving. Or maybe I'll end up having to beg random teenagers in the neighborhood to solve my computer problems.

Think I can bribe them with some paper flowers?

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Nothing much to say here, really, only my Rachel, who has spent hours of her life taming and defrizzing her long curly hair, finally had had enough and demanded to be taken to the local salon to have it all cut off.

"How about we just try it shoulder length?" asked the beautician, fingering Rachel's long tresses as they both stared into the mirror. "You know, get used to it, see if you want it shorter."

But Rachel, done with being a slave to her hair, insisted on the style she had Pinned: extremely short on the sides and back, with a curly tousled mop on top. I admit it, I had to turn away for the first cut, so scared was I that Rachel would freak out. Also, just yikes. She had a LOT of hair.

Locks of Love material

Rachel didn't freak out. She looks great and, more important, she feels great. Anyone else remember how liberating it is to just chop ALL of your hair off and have a fresh new style? I was tempted to try it myself, but then I remembered I no longer have the distinct jawline needed to carry off a short cut (never did, probably) and left the salon with my curls intact.

Brian is on an airplane right now, and I'm torn between going to sleep (because, hey, I'm tired - we had another grad party today, plus clothes shopping with Rachel) or staying up so I can use the power of my mind to keep his plane in the air.

That works, right? Tell me it works.

Brian's heading off on his all-expenses-paid trip to Israel, and I am left with absolutely no tech support whatsoever around here. Already this evening, I had to figure out two different tech-y things for myself. Maybe that's why Brian couldn't walk out that front door fast enough this morning. My neediness must be driving him away. That, and the fact that he is 18 and can't wait to start his own life. He's all grown up, is what it is.

Still, he was absolutely the cutest 2-year-old. THE CUTEST. And of course Google Photos chose to rub salt in my left-behind wounds by showing me photos from 9 years ago today - a day when apparently David and Brian got hold of the camera and photographed their Lego creations, photographs that include a giggling 9-year-old Brian lying under the bed and clowning at the camera.

Et tu, Google?

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Death Wish

June 7 already, huh? Well, let's just see what's been going on...

Aldi find of the week: nice graduation cards for only 99 cents!

Sure wish I had figured that out before I dropped a zillion bucks on the ones I had to buy on Saturday, on the way to multiple grad parties. All right, not a zillion.  More like 5 bucks each, okay?

That card is for our neighbor's daughter, and I was all set to buy her an Amazon gift card like I had bought for Brian's other friends. Great idea, right? They can use it at college to buy whatever they want. Luckily, Susie was around to stop me. "Her family doesn't LIKE Amazon," she said.

Not like Amazon? I wondered. "What are you talking about?" I asked Susie.

"Mommy, of course they don't like Amazon!" she said. And then it dawned on me: yeah, the neighbors might have a beef with that particular corporation, seeing as how they own an independent bookstore. When did my baby get so smart, anyway?

In an unwonted burst of domesticity after my Aldi trip on Monday, I made my family an honest-to-goodness frittata. It had spinach and everything. Healthy!

See? Spinach! Also, peppers and onions

Look at me being all Pinterest-y, won't you? I hardly know myself.

On Wednesday Susie and I went strawberry picking with friends. I skipped doing it last year and we actually ran out of jam, what with using the jars from years previous for everything from teacher gifts to Christmas presents. So yesterday turned into a strawberry extravaganza, mostly because I thought I needed two full flats of strawberries when I only needed one.

We got a LOT of strawberries, is what I'm saying.

Turns out those metal strawberry hullers that I saved in my junk drawer for I don't know how many years aren't all that efficient. What saved us is this one neat trick (seriously!) that I saw on a Facebook video. It involves poking a straw through the bottom of the strawberry and up through the stem.


It really worked. Have I mentioned that I love the internet?

So I labored for 2 1/2 hours (with some help from Susie - she liked the straw trick) and wound up with about 8 pints of jam. I managed to jam (pun not intended) the other flat of strawberries in the fridge until such time as I could bear to face it again.

Ignore the 2 candy canes on the right over there

That time wasn't today, though, because today Larry and I attended a funeral at Arlington (for the friend whose sudden death last December taught us that Larry could probably manage just fine without me, remember?) Despite the fact that we have had over 5 months to get used to the fact that our friend is gone, today was devastating. Oh, the ceremony was lovely, and taps just about broke my heart, and they did this lovely thing at the end where we all laid special flowers from Hawaii on the coffin. But then I got to go hug my widowed friend, whom I hadn't seen in several years - my friend who is exactly my age, who I've known for almost a quarter of a century, who was a youngish military spouse with me - and I pretty much lost it.

"I have to die first," I announced to Larry as we walked back to our car. "I'm not going through what she went through today."

You know, I don't know why that man always looks so confused.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Sweets Overload

Say, guess what happened on Friday?

Yup, that's for Brian. I decked out the whole house, because I found all these 2018 grad decorations for 3 dollars on one of those Facebook Online Yard Sale pages.

I got these secondhand, and now I'm going to pass them on to our neighbor, whose daughter's grad party is next week. That's 3 uses from one set of graduation decorations, and yes, I WOULD like a medal for that, thanks.

Due to Brian's graduation on Friday and several grad parties we attended on Saturday, we ended up eating an unhealthy amount of Costco cake within a 24-hour time period. So I was a little taken aback when, while sitting at grad party #3 on Saturday and contemplating joining an order of nuns where cake is verboten, I received a photo from Rachel (who had stayed home - she's a grad party refusenik).


"Someone dropped this by," she texted. "Can I have it?"

Apparently a neighbor had leftovers from their daughter's birthday party and they generously brought it over, not realizing they were creating a totally coals-to-Newcastle vibe.

Oh, did I mention there was also a retirement party Larry had to attend on Saturday? They gave him this to take home:

Greek cake

So, yes, a lot of cake. And brownies. And corn chips and salsa. I haven't cooked in two days. I'm thinking someone might need some food around here today, but hey - we still have that cake.

We also have these:

So pretty, I had to show everyone

A Civil Air Patrol mom brought them to us, to thank Larry for giving her daughter a ride to an Honor Flight Rachel coordinated for Saturday morning. You know, because we didn't already have enough planned this weekend? 

So today has been blessedly event-free. I overslept and then I watched Fiddler on the Roof with Susie (she didn't like it, which is upsetting, but I'll get over it) and then, well, nothing. We did NOTHING. It helps that it's raining for the gazillionth day in a row here, so no one is trying to drag me out on a walk or schedule some sort of activity. 

I like rain.