Showing posts from December, 2007

Learning All The Time

Okay, so I finally convinced Larry that the USB ports on the monitor aren't working and he was nice enough to find another port to plug the MP3 player into... and it worked! I figured out how to get into ITunes and find my podcast (Garrison Keillor, natch) and download it to my computer; and then I even moved it to the player (I think I did, anyway - Theo didn't actually listen to the player to make sure, mostly because we don't know how to use it yet and now I have to locate the missing earbuds).

I'm thinking there might be a way to download podcasts directly from ITunes to my player(?), but I can't figure it out. (That was a not-very-cleverly disguised plea for technical assistance.)

Some people have e-mailed me and asked why the fact that I am homeschooling 6 children does not figure prominently on this blog. I don't know. Mostly because this started out as a family newsletter; and, believe me, the less I brought up the homeschooling thing, the better. Plu…

And The Croup Goes On...

Anna has the disease we've all been passing around. Anna can be very dramatic when she is ill, clutching her throat, moaning, languishing all over my new, flowery, overstuffed armchair. We should have thought to buy her one of those Ektorp fainting couches while we were at IKEA.

That leaves only Larry and Brian untouched by this plague. We assume Larry will get it while he is chaperoning the homeschoolers' ski trip later this week. At which point he will understand just how much I suffered. Not that I am wishing it on him, or anything.

Meanwhile, as long as he is healthy, Larry has been painting like one possessed. It may be because today I handed out invitations to our 45 neighbors for a little party at our house on New Year's Day. He works well when properly motivated.

Unfortunately, I don't know how to throw a party that doesn't involve birthday candles and goody bags. I'm not quite sure how I am going to pull this off. It was challenging enough to pri…

Paint Fume Musings

Larry's painting! Boy, do I owe him big. And don't think he doesn't know it.

Did I announce that we caught Mickey? No? We did. No more poop in the silverware drawer, which makes me very happy. That, and I still have chocolate left. Not Raisinets, though - I've lost my taste for any candy resembling little turds.

I sat at the ice rink and knitted while Anna skated with some friends this evening. I just want that fact on record, for when Anna accuses me of never letting her do anything fun. The rink itself was dark with strobe lights going and loud, discordant music playing. I sat out in the lobby and observed all the girls dressed like sluts flirting with all the boys dressed like bums. I came home feeling about 80 years old. Was I ever that young?

Monthly trip to the commissary today. I managed to keep it under 500 dollars. I'm going to spend the rest of my money at Barnes and Noble tomorrow, while Theo's employee discount is still valid. 30 percent…

Easy Does It

There's a movement afoot to have people trying to blog every single day in 2008. I'm begging those of you I have on a reader - don't do it. I almost went nuts trying to keep up with everyone's postings in November. The pace was killing me. Just say no to Blog 365. Thank you.

We've all been in the position of our children not taking care of their little critters as they had promised. Check out this article on guinea pig cuisine for ideas on what to do when your kids get tired of their caged animals. The article uses the phrase "alternative food." Is that a euphemism, or what? Doesn't sound quite as harsh as "Hey, kids, we're eating your pets!"

Can you tell that nothing exciting happened in our household today? Essentially, I goofed off all day (though I did get a little knitting done). No one misbehaved. No one did anything cute (though we did have quite a ticklefest with Susie, whose giggling and screeching were exceedingly d…

A Wonderful Life, Indeed

Larry didn't paint the living room today. He spent the morning catching up on his charity disbursals for the year. He started having trouble with his credit card after a bit, so he had to call the company. Seems they had put a stop on it because of suspicious activity - i.e., someone using it for several online "purchases" within the space of a couple of hours. They deemed the activity suspicious, even though the money was going to places like the Red Cross and Children's Hospital. "Okay," Larry asked, "who the heck do you think is using it - Robin Hood?"

I thought that was sort of funny.

Then we spent the afternoon watching It's A Wonderful Life. Larry noted that Donna Reed (in the movie) managed to have 4 little children, wallpaper her fixer-upper of a house, and still find time to run the local USO. I told him that if he could only stammer in that cute way that Jimmy Stewart had, I would be inspired to run a household as efficiently a…

Are We Done Yet?

Yesterday we had our annual gingerbread house party, otherwise known as the "Sugar Extravaganza." By mid-afternoon, I could no longer see straight and was thinking of calling some EMT's to bring me a dose of insulin. The kids, of course, were fine. They had a blast creating all sorts of graham cracker structures and plastering them with Skittles and gumdrops and marshmallows the headache is coming back. Oy.

I was preparing to take snapshots of the finished houses when I realized I needed to take a closer look. You see, I could tell that David had added a little "garage" onto his edifice, but what was that mess in the driveway? A dramatic scene unveiled itself: a graham cracker car with a green gummy bear caught halfway underneath it and (get this) a yellow gummy bear (apparently the driver) standing next to the victim, looking as puzzled as a gelatinous piece of candy can look.

It's always the quiet kids you have to watch, you know?

I've b…


I've officially given up. Nothing else is going to get done before Christmas. Nothing. Tomorrow we have to make our gingerbread houses (nothing difficult, we "glue" graham crackers to little orange juice cartons and then cover them with candy), so that will take up most of the day. Tomorrow night I will stay up late and rearrange the den. That's it. I had planned a lot more, but when you have to keep lying down and taking naps, things just don't go as planned.

Next year, though....that's different.

Someday I may be over this bronchitis. Someday I may be able get through the night without being jerked out of a sound sleep by a silly coughing fit. Someday I may be able to do three things in a row without lying down in between. But not now.

We watched A Charlie Brown Christmas tonight. I am happy to report that Charlie Brown remains a neurotic loser, Lucy is still a bossy know-it-all, and Snoopy's antics can yet make little kids laugh. It's nice…

Cocktails and Witchcraft

I just saw a promo photo for Charlie Wilson's War and all I can say is, what happened to Tom Hanks? Does he really look that way now, or is it just make-up? Granted, I'm a bit behind on movies and my reference point for Tom is about 20 years ago (I'm thinking Volunteers or Big); but still.....

This evening Larry and I actually got to act the way I thought all grown-ups acted, back when I was a kid - we went out to a cocktail party. I got dressed up and everything. There were lots of other grown-ups there, so I did my best to sound intelligent and talk about something other than housework or laundry; but once I ended up in a room with a bunch of other home school moms, our conversation veered to comparing math programs and chemistry textbooks more quickly than you can say "curricula obsession." It's an occupational hazard.

We also spent a disproportionate amount of time talking about Santa. Don't ask me why. I got bored at that point and decided to ha…

Status Report Updates

News Flash: Larry returned the chair to IKEA this evening. I convinced him that he deserves a better recliner than the one we foolishly brought home. Those of you readers who are hitched know that this whole episode has cost me an untold number of marriage points. Fun note: the woman at the returns desk wanted to charge him 20 percent because the item wasn't in the packaging. He pointed out that the receipt says only to return item with original packaging and then dumped a pile of mangled cardboard and plastic wrap on her desk. A supervisor got involved. Larry won. Life is sweet.

Mice Caught: Zero. And they're well-fed.

Health Report: Poor. I was up with my own croup in the middle of the night. Now I am coughing like a TB patient. In fact, Larry may be bargaining on my imminent demise and simply hiding the chair in the back of his car until such time as he can bring it back in here unimpeded.

Friendships: Shaky. One friend tried to steal my daughter's babysitting ser…

A Better Mousetrap

Many thanks to Leah for sharing her, um, traumatic mouse-catching experience in the comments of yesterday's post. You don't have to go read it; just make sure you use the good old-fashioned kind of traps, that kill the creature quickly. Or you may be sorry....

And we do use those old-fashioned kind of traps; but apparently we have smart mice, mice who know how to lick all the peanut butter off the trap without springing it (and who then go take another dump in my silverware drawer - thanks). I hate being outsmarted by rodents. This situation is going to give a whole lot more meaning to "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," won't it? I mean, "not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse"......we should be so lucky.

And what about those goodies we leave out for Santa? I can just hear the kids on Christmas morning: "Oooh, look, Mommy, Santa ate some of the cookie! See? You can see where he nibbled it. Hey! What are those little brown things…

Of Mice and Men

All over the blogosphere people are discovering that we've gotten away from the true meaning of Christmas by going hog wild on buying presents. Try not to be too shocked.

I'm sounding a tad cranky, aren't I? You know why? That chair is still here. I went to the trouble last night of moving a different chair from the living room into the den, a chair that coordinates beautifully with my new flowery bower of an armchair; and I put the ugly navy thing into the center of the room, in order to emphasize the fact that there really is no place for it in our home. So I come back from Knit Night tonight to find Larry sitting in it, in the middle of the room. Happy. Apparently, subtlety is lost on him.

Plus, I officially have bronchitis. And the house is a mess. And I have people coming over for Christmas dinner.

No mouse poop in my silverware drawers this morning, though. That's a good sign, isn't it? Although now I'm wondering whether I'm suffering from a ha…

We Can Run, But We Can't Hide

So, people who have been following this blog know that in our old house (the one 2 doors down from here), we tended to have a little mouse problem (like, um, the Israelis have a little Palestinian problem). And the woman who owned this house never got mice. That fact alone made it worth the extra 110,000 dollars to buy it, in my opinion.

Maybe it's us - maybe we are just rodent-attracting folks. All I know is I'm late posting tonight because I've been cleaning mouse poop out of silverware drawers and cabinets and trying not to think about the fact that we used silverware from those drawers today and, um, put them in our mouths, as a matter of fact......excuse me a moment while I go throw up.

Okay, let's change the subject, shall we? I think that would be a healthy idea. Larry took me to IKEA today. I didn't feel well enough to go (this cold seems to have a hankering to turn into pneumonia), but if I had refused a trip to IKEA on terms of ill health, Larry would…

Coughing in a Winter Wonderland....

Well, I solved the grout problem - I went out and bought plastic shower curtain liners and spread them all over the eating area and some throw rugs and threw them (that's what you're supposed to do, right?) over the work area; so now I can stop carping at my kids about their food-dropping habits. And the shower curtain liners are transparent, so you can still see the pretty new tile. Maybe I'll use the liners even after the grout is sealed, and just throw them out and replace them when they get dirty - I've always wanted a disposable kitchen floor.

Let's update....Susie all better, Rachel better except that she starts coughing and cannot stop, and now Brian is coming down with whatever lovely virus this is that we've been passing around. Good Lord, I'm tired. The problem with head colds is that you need to sleep to get better, but you can't breathe if you lie down. I really like to breathe. So I sit up and surf the blogosphere, or I …

O Tannenbaum

He's done! The Tile Guy is done! Everything except sealing the grout, that is. "I'll come back in 2 weeks and seal it for you, so it doesn't get stained," he said. Can you tell this guy doesn't have kids? What we need is pre-sealed grout. I give this stuff about 5 minutes before someone spills half a quart of grape juice on it. Larry convinced him to come back in a few days instead; but why bother? It will still be too late. For now it looks gorgeous, though; I need to remember to take some pictures before those little monsters ruin it.

Still sick here. I made it to Anna's flute choir concert anyway (I call it preemptive attendance - she could have cared less whether or not I showed up, but I don't need her throwing my absence in my face 10 years from now, thanks), which was bearable. I am missing the Mom gene that makes it possible for me to go gaga over these concerts - her friend's mom was gushing, "Weren't they wonderful?!&qu…

Sick, Sick, Sick

I'm baaaack! Can't get rid of me that easily, you know. I seem to have picked up whatever bug my kids have (without the sore throat, fortunately). I refused to come downstairs this morning and left Larry to deal with everything - the hungry kids, the tile guy, the toddler who pooped for the first time in 3 days (sorry, no pictures). Larry solved the hungry-kid dilemma handily, by letting them eat the candy canes they got from Santa last night. Way to go for a healthy breakfast!

Yes, we saw Santa himself yesterday evening. Our church had its annual Christmas pageant and party, and Anna plays in the ensemble, so we all went, even though half of us were sick and looked pathetic. Of course, if I had been a really good mother, I would have remembered to sign up the little kids to be angels and shepherds; but I guess that will have to wait until next year. The little disease-vectors would have coughed through the whole thing, anyway.

I dragged everyone to the library yesterday…

Knitting, The Best Medicine

The kids are still barking like seals here. I should put it on YouTube - "This is your kid on croup."

I managed to get some medicine from the doctor yesterday without having to go in to the office. Would you believe the receptionist tried to transfer my phone call to the advice nurse? I hung up and called the receptionist again and told her, "Honey, I don't need any advice. I have 6 kids, the youngest has croup, and she needs steroids. Tell the doctor." And she did. And he called in the prescription. Now that's power. (You need to have at least 4 kids in order to pull that off, though.)

And Larry did sneak off to work today. I overslept (that happens if you go to bed at 2 in the morning, you know) and earned the Bad Mother of the Year award by not getting up in time to wake Theo for his job (yes, I know he needs an alarm clock - we've bought gazillion alarm clocks and they all end up breaking). So he was late, but they didn't fire him - yet…

Who Needs Sleep?

All my kids get croup. I blame Larry, who had it himself as a kid. (When all else fails, pin it on your husband.) Rachel is ensconced in the armchair under the open window now, breathing in the cold air and trying not to freeze to death. Susie is upstairs with the window open and what Larry calls the eucalyptus stink-bomb nightlight going full-blast in our room. Larry thinks he is going to sneak off to work tomorrow. Won't he be surprised to see those slashed tires on his van? (insert evil laugh here - I can't spell it) Not so fast, Mr. Croup Genes - your wife needs some sleep.

I feel as if I am in one of those sleep deprivation experiments. My brain feels foggy. This morning, at the Christmas party (which we made it to, amazingly enough), a woman I had just met asked me what Susie's middle name was, and I couldn't remember. I can't remember the woman's name either; but that doesn't matter, because I don't think she is going to talk to me again.

Sick and Tired

So, I missed posting yesterday. Sue me. Susie developed croup yesterday evening and blew all my finely laid plans to heck. Now I'm sitting here after a lousy night's sleep with a non-functioning brain, wondering how to pick up the pieces. Of my day, that is, not my brain - the brain's a total loss.

Let's see - it might help if I'd get dressed. And there was the Christmas party for our home school group that I am supposed to bring some food to. And I was supposed to bake cranberry bread for my husband's office party (you know, the party that spouses aren't invited to, but we are free to contribute baked goods and other yummy comestibles) (the hell with them).....

I could just blow everything off and lie on the couch all day (my favorite option), but Brian and Rachel are supposed to be in some little skit about St. Francis at the party (the home school party, not the office one). I think. The skit wasn't my idea. One of the other, more ambitious, m…

Blog Business

I'm feeling bad for the poor unfortunate from Maryland who was googling "stomach flu large family" today and landed on my blog - apparently they went through all 33 pages, hoping to find some useful information. Not here, honey. All I've got are horror stories. And someone at a high-priced NYC law firm has been googling for a tornado costume. I find this puzzling. But that's okay - I'm sure they find me puzzling, too. And not at all helpful.

I don't know when I find time to analyze my sitemeter referrals so closely - probably when I'm neglecting the children and the laundry.

Like my tag cloud? Pretty, isn't it? I'm rather proud of myself. For those of you who asked, you need to log in to Technorati and look for the tag cloud widget. If I can figure it out, anyone can.

So, where's the funny? I don't know - I thought one of you took it. None of my children acted outrageous today. Or, if they did, I didn't notice. Anna was ple…

Everyone Else Has One (Tag Cloud, That Is)

I'm trying to figure out that neat Technorati tag cloud thing that all the other kids are getting on their blogs, but it isn't working...yet. Ignore any weirdness in the left-hand column until I figure it out. Except the weirdness, of course. That's permanent.

I'm sure all 10 of my faithful readers remember my crowing with triumph over ordering my Christmas photo cards way back in November. As soon as the cards arrived, I efficiently addressed the envelopes and then put them aside (readers, please note - don't try this at home) until I could get around to buying Christmas-y stamps. I'll be lucky if those darn cards ever turn up again. But the stamps I got are nice. I guess I could just use them next year, if the postal rates don't rise again.

Larry and I attempted to sneak away for a date this evening, but Susie woke up and screamed until we agreed to come back. I hate cellphones.

And is any evening complete without a child coming up …

Cannot Think Of Title To Save My Life

Never did get those packages mailed. But they're not eaten either. So that's good. I think I'll send Larry to the post office with them tomorrow. He'll enjoy the relative peace and quiet there.

Today we were expecting dinner guests for Chanukah, which meant it was time for Larry to start yet another home improvement project. He decided today was as good a time as ever to climb up to the roof and nail the gutters back into the side of the house. The job took a while, since Larry decided that, as long as he was up there, he should clean the leaves out of the gutters also. He stopped short of reshingling the roof, but I know he thought about it. Meanwhile I spent the day cleaning the house by hiding all our extra crap (including those unmailed packages of cookies and fudge) in our bedroom and trying to cook a decent dinner.

Theo escaped the chaos we call home to go to his training session at the bookstore. He watched many scintillating videos instructing him on th…

Betty Crocker 911

I dedicated today to baking all the goodies we need to send in our Christmas care packages to Larry's relatives. What? Where are all the goodies we baked last week? Oh, yeah, those....well, we weren't quite prepared last the time we procured all the cute little tins and boxes to pack the sweets in, well.....they were all gone, okay? The lemon bars, the peanut butter cookies, most of the fudge was no more. I am one person who takes my holiday weight gain quotas seriously.

So this time I planned it right. Boxes at the ready, I decided to just whip right through all the baking in one day and get those babies out of here. By the time I was done, I was seeing double from sugar overload. I'm not trying a baking marathon like that again without a medic standing by to administer insulin as needed. And a pox on outdated cookbooks. The lemon bars recipe called for "granulated sugar," as in what everyone else in this day and age calls just "sugar." …

Sleep Deprivation and Spousal Alienation

Well, I was going to take a day off today; but I've become addicted to watching the numbers on my sitemeter creep up after I post, and I just can't stop.

Today went fairly well, considering I had 3 hours of sleep last night (and not consecutive, either). David kept waking up barking, so I put on 2 coats and wrapped him in 3 blankets and opened the living room window and let him breathe in the blessedly cold, dry air. Larry came down at one point (no doubt motivated by my hissing at him, "How come I'm always the one getting up?") and, thinking that David needed a hat, placed his own rabbit-fur hat on David's cold head. This maneuver upset our little vegetarian very much, even though no flesh-eating was involved (on our parts, anyway). So we went with wool instead, the shearing of which (we assured David) in no way hurt the sheep, aside from perhaps leaving it a tad chilly in the evenings for a week or two. This conversation seemed a bit surreal at 2 in the …

Shovel This, Kids!

Epiphany of the day - when you get too old for the holidays to be magical, it's time to make them magical for someone else. My teens were unimpressed with this news, but I can't wait to make them put this thought into action (more on that another time). And tonight I forced them off their bored butts to shovel all the common-area sidewalks in our townhouse neighborhood. (It had snowed a few inches today, and it was all starting to ice over.) That was fun. I hope it snows a lot here this winter. Community service is good for the teenage soul.

I swear they are sucking all the enjoyment out of my life. Like dementors. I need to fight back. Must...not...lose...strength....

I'm sitting up with David tonight, who is barking like a seal. I explained to him that 10-year-olds don't get croup, but he didn't listen. Stubborn, that kid.

Larry went to bed early this evening, because I was ranting and raving about our two eldest and he didn't know what to do (this was …

Cookies and Dreidels and Chores, Oh My!

We made fudge today. Peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies yesterday. Lemon bars tomorrow. Maybe we'll throw some steaming cups of cocoa in there for good measure. I'm glad I was smart enough to put off returning to Weight Watchers until January. I don't care how much I have to starve myself for 10 months a year, as long as I can have my holiday goodies.

Because it's holiday time - time for the children to fight over which color candles to put in the menorah, which wooden tree ornament to decorate with markers and glitter glue, which bowl they get to lick. Next week, they'll fight over who wraps which present. Yes, indeed, it's a magical time of the year - magical in that, somehow, I manage not to kill them. Now they're throwing dreidels at each other and screaming. I don't know why. And I don't care.

Larry (with great trepidation) informed me that the tile guy (for the kitchen floor, remember?) isn't showing up this Sunday, after all; bu…

My Brain Is Empty

Today I got more visitors to this site than I ever have before. Which means, I'm more popular when I don't post....I think. Oh, well.

Nothing of note happened today. Anna was pleasant (well, that is somewhat remarkable, now isn't it?), Theo made latkes, Rachel fell asleep before dinner, Susie wet my bed (as usual) because I forgot to put her diaper on her (as usual), and David had fun flying a kite he made out of fishing line and a plastic grocery bag (it was a tad windy here today). He looked rather pathetic, like a poster child for a Toys for Tots campaign.

I'm starting on my annual schizo December breakdown - what with Chanukah, St. Nicholas Day, Chanukah, Christmas pageants and parties, flute recitals, Chanukah (some holidays overstay their welcome), Christmas tree decorating, and gingerbread house construction, I turn into a snarling, Grinch-type creature by the morning of the 25th. It ain't pretty. When did the holidays turn into an endurance test, any…

'Tis The Season

Bia over at La Dolce Vita has tagged me with a meme, and I'm actually in the mood to play along. Maybe because it's easy. Plus, Anna has been working on an essay for A Christmas Carol for her ninth-grade English course; so the meme theme (hey! did I coin that phrase?) fits right into the Christmas Past, Present, and Future motif. Bia would like me to name 3 favorite gifts - my favorite one from Christmas past (as a child), one I enjoyed receiving now as an adult, and one I would like to receive in the future. No problem!

Christmas Past - I grew up Jewish, but I always went to my friend's house for Christmas Day when I was little. I'm sure I received many lovely, thoughtful, even price-y presents from my friend's parents throughout the years; but the one present I remember, the present that my friend and I jumped up and down in ecstasy over, was a little cardboard box full to the brim with Bazooka bubble gum. And it had a little handle to carry it around with. T…

Working For A Living

Some of you may have noticed (and wondered at) my 7-year-old doing the laundry. Makes it look as though I'm teaching them the value of teamwork and responsibility, right? But appearances are deceptive. First of all, it ain't quality work. If you ever eat here, make sure to rinse your silverware first. Second, the children aren't exactly running around singing, "Whistle While You Work." Instead, my kids all sound as though they work in a union shop -

"It's Tuesday, it's not my day to empty the dishwasher - I set the table."
"Rachel empties the silverware - I do the dishes."
"I watched Susie yesterday for 20 minutes. It's Theo's turn."

Sheesh - do those seem like the sounds of teamwork and responsibility to you? I doubt it.

Occasionally Larry or I will do all the dishes, and each time we're amazed at how easy the job is. What with all the whining and groaning that goes on around here, you'd think we we…

She Said, He Said

So, I had to do our monthly commissary shopping trip today (that's the military version of a grocery store) and I sent the boys to do some chores before we left. A few minutes later, forgetting they were still working, I said, "Okay, everyone, shoes on, let's go!" Whereupon Rachel (5) marched to the top of the basement stairs and yelled, in her very best boss-the-boys-around style,

"Brian! David! Get your shoes on! We're going!"

And Brian (7) bellowed back, "Rachel! I'm doin' the laundry!" in an exasperated, male, give-me-a-break voice.

Gee, I wonder where they picked up those methods of communication?

It was funnier if you could hear it. Larry and I laughed until our stomachs hurt.

In other news, I spent 560 dollars on food today. Did you?

And, we have more gray stripes on our living room wall. We needed to argue for a couple of hours over whether Larry had inadvertently switched the sample-paint-can lids, an argument which necessitate…