Showing posts from January, 2009

Brave New World

There's a lot of talk these days about how difficult it is for us parents of teens to manage this brave new world of IPods, text messages, and Facebook. But I'm here to tell you, technology can also be our friend.

Anna needed me to take her somewhere yesterday morning. She stood in the front hall, anxiety exuding from her every pore because she didn't want to be late. So I sent her to start the car while I found my purse, my coat, etc.

I reached the car 5 minutes later, where she was sitting in the passenger seat, waiting impatiently. I got in and closed the door and buckled in. Then I said,

"You know, we can't go anywhere right now."
"Huh?" (accompanied by annoyed, confused look endemic to foggy-brained teens)
"We can't go anywhere. The windshield is covered with ice. I can't see to drive."
"Oh?" (another confused, "why is she talking to me?" look)
"Hey! I have an idea! Why don't you take the scraper …

Nobody Knows The Clutter I've Seen...

Because we were hosting clubs this afternoon, I spent yet another day stowing all sorts of household junk in my bedroom in order to make the main floor of my house presentable. One would think that, after 17 years, I could come up with a better method of housekeeping. But no - Larry and I have resorted to dumping things into boxes. The box that holds all the odds and ends he cleaned off the computer desk before our New Year's party? Sits right here in the den - I just keep tossing more stuff into it. The top of my dresser was covered with I-don't-know-what-all; so I grabbed an empty box, swept everything into it, and shoved the box into my closet. The clutter is utterly defeating us.

Don't tell me to throw things out. I throw zillions of things out every single day. I've read all the books. I do the Flylady thing. But we are still overwhelmed. The enemy is winning.


On the bright side, Girl Scout cookies are arriving soon! When in troubl…

Kids? What Kids?

Time for a knitting update. I don't know why it is time, but it is. I even took pictures. Although, now that I look at them, I think I'll have to find a background less glaringly red than the slipcover on my beloved Ektorp ottoman (with removable top, so you can shove all sorts of junk in there before company comes).

I've been working on this top-down baby raglan sweater. If there is anything I hate, it is knitting something in separate pieces and then having to sew them together. If I wanted to sew, I wouldn't be knitting. Duh. This sweater is knitted in one piece from the top, leaving the sleeve stitches on holders to come back to at the end (like knitting a mitten with 2 thumbs) (sort of).

I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled with the pattern; although I don't understand why I can never knit small enough for gauge. The pattern already calls for small needles (sizes 2 and 4), and I wanted to weep at the thought of knitting a sweater on needles even tinier tha…

Three Cheers...

Three cheers for Larry! He fixed the dishwasher while I was doing the orchestra carpool last night. I think working appliances are so sexy, don't you?

And yes, that picture to the right shows exactly how we all feel today...


Three cheers for Mother Nature, who finally delivered us some snow this morning. Although, I must say it is rather pathetic to see my poor deprived children dancing around chanting, "There's tons of snow!" when the grass is still showing. Then again, it takes some skill to go sledding in less than 2 inches of snow, doesn't it?


Three cheers for Susie, who decided she would like to go sledding this year. That is, until her mother managed to dump her face-first in the snow. Whoops.


Three cheers for my aging brain, which has forgotten everything else I wished to post today. Off to bake cinnamon rolls and make some hot cocoa - it's snowing!

Monday? Again?

For all of you who mentioned that you wouldn't be foolish enough to try to collaborate on things like FAFSA or taxes with your spouse, I agree - it is foolish. Our system has always been that I do the taxes - it has worked well for us for almost 20 years. Larry volunteered to do the FAFSA because, well, I'm doing the taxes. Unfortunately, there are points at which the 2 intersect. I could volunteer to do both, but we would still have to collaborate, as Larry has the non-tax financial numbers required by this fiendish form.

Any social scientists out there wondering why many marriages tend to fall apart at the 20-year mark? I think I've got your answer.

Speaking of which, a very pleasant-looking gentleman in his mid- to late-sixties came to the register the other evening to buy a book: How To Get A Divorce Without Ruining Your Life.

Hello? How about the other person's life? Did his wife know already what he was planning? I felt complicit in wrongdoing just by ringi…

Title Expired

That dishwasher part that was supposed to be winging its way to my domicile with all possible speed? Still isn't here. Yeah. And I absolutely, positively did need it overnight; FedEx, I am so disappointed in you.

Oh, and thanks to fawndear for making me look like a whiner. Apparently her dishwasher has been broken for over 2 months. And she has 6 kids also.


All of you who are thinking I feed my kids on 150 dollars a week can stop beating yourselves up over not being frugal enough. That is just my commissary bill. I pick up soy milk and bread locally; eggs, too, and some produce each week. So it is more like 200 dollars (sometimes more) a week. And that's only because the commissary tends to be a lot cheaper than a regular grocery store, too.

If you want to see a real grocery-shopping-maven, check out this chick. She totally puts me to shame. Incredible.


Today was one of those days when I try to remember exactly what was in those we…

Let's Dish

Gosh, I wish I had time to blog, but instead? I'm doing dishes. Yup. Seems that fixing the broken latch on the dishwasher door wasn't as high on Larry's list as it was on mine, at least not until last night when he came home to a wife who would not stop talking about all the dishes she washed that day. Inspired by this scintillating conversation, he went online and ordered (nay, had FedExed) the broken part. Which he may or may not be able to install himself...


For all of you who are thinking that I am being a bit too strict with Anna (no IPod!), let me clarify things a bit. She is more than welcome to buy herself an IPod. She would prefer, however, to be given one. Cellphone? Same deal.

But we do let her share one of ours.


We did our commissary trip today (which, um, made me fall behind on those danged dishes, but that's another story) and, as usual, I ran up quite a bill. I don't know about you, but I always feel…

As The Food Turns: We Are One

Refrigerator? What refrigerator?

Oh. Oh, yeah...that refrigerator...

In answer to President Obama's call for unity of purpose, I have chosen to photograph the glass and the plastic containers together this week. No more false divisions here, folks; all my spoiled leftovers must forge ahead together on the way to their destiny (which, um, happens to be disposal into my stainless steel trashcan).

Let's see:

turkey pot piered beans and rice (mostly rice)gravy from I-know-not-whenChinese beef and green beansleftover oatmealold carrot sticks
Next week you will probably see applesauce gone moldy because once again my children have opened 2 jars at once. Ditto for the Vidalia onion salad dressing...I swear, there is no stopping the waste.

Do I sound a little fed up (no pun intended)? Because that's the way that I am feeling. Just what are 2 and a half bunches of celery doing in my icebox, anyway? I mean, aside from turning brown...

Oh, and I asked Larry to pick up a little somet…

Hail To The Chief

I don't know about you all, but I'm pretty disappointed. I mean, here it is, 7 hours after Obama is sworn in as President, and nothing has changed. Nothing. We continue to be at war in Iraq, Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, and the economy continues in its downward spiral. You just can't trust those politicians and their promises, now can you?

And, is there anyone out there who didn't think of Mr. Potter upon seeing Vice President Cheney in that wheelchair? Just wondering...

Our day here was given over to Inaugural festivities - neighborhood party, celebratory cupcakes, watching way too much computer and TV. Also, some very good champagne punch. I'll probably wake up tomorrow with a major political hangover.

Celebratory cupcakes? Well, yes. I attempted to decorate 2 dozen cupcakes so that they looked like the American flag (I'm patriotic that way). This would have been a fairly simple, non-traumatic endeavor if it had not involved the help of 4 ch…


We've been having a family UNO tournament of sorts. We've even got Larry playing. Mean mother that I am, this afternoon I caught Rachel out for not saying "UNO" and made her cry. A lot. Her cute braided pigtails made it seem even more pathetic. But, hey, she looked cute the whole time she was stuffing toilets and decapitating stuffed animals, too.

Larry felt sorry for her, but that's because he doesn't know how to compete.


We bought a dishwasher back in August 2007, after summarily finishing off the old one we inherited with this house. This new appliance was my favorite dishwasher ever. It held everything, and didn't have lots of silly little compartments to get in the way of the large dishes and pans. I was, quite frankly, head over heels crazy in love with it. And I thought it felt the same about me, the way it faithfully scrubbed all our eating and cooking implements clean twice a day, every day, week in and week out.

Well, t…

Where There's Smoke, There's Dinner

Sue mentioned the other day that she was so inspired by Top Chef that she attempted a new recipe for her family's dinner, with disappointing results (hilarious, but disappointing). This made me think about how unrealistic and misleading cooking shows can be. I, for one, would be glad to star in a cooking show that demonstrates what it is really like when a mother of 4 or more kids tries to cook dinner.

Picture it - I could appear before the audience in a real kitchen: old phone numbers and miscellaneous magnets hanging all over the refrigerator door; a counter cluttered with the candy canes we're saving for hot cocoa and a bowl full of almond shells that a certain teen family member was too darn lazy to throw out; and the requisite sinkful of dirty dishes in the background. The featured recipes would, of course, require no more than 2 steps, maximum. In the process of preparing them for the TV audience, I would also demonstrate how to search for the right-size bowl in a cab…

Breaking News

I may just have to start a new series here, to go along with my Parenting for Dummies there in the sidebar. I could name it Wealth Makes You Stupid. Exhibit A would be this post from last summer; Exhibit B could be this article I found in the Wall Street Journal just this week. It has the intriguing title The Hot New Car Is Your Old Car.

It seems that people in the upper echelons (economically speaking) of our society are rediscovering the joys of driving cars with more than 50,000 miles on them (or, in WSJ parlance, "old" cars). Apparently, it is all the rage in these penny-pinching times to hang on to your vehicle for more than 3 years. Here's my favorite line from this piece of informative, hard-hitting journalism:

An extended warranty...along with the cost of more-frequent oil changes and replacement parts, still usually costs less than the monthly expense of financing or leasing a new car.
Imagine that! Really? Costs less, did you say? You mean, I can save money…

Gone Missing

Excuse my disappearance (what do you mean, you didn't notice? Hmmph...), but we just endured 2 days without the beloved Internet.

I know, I was hard. Last night we were all sitting around looking at each other and saying, "Now what?" I mean, it was like Little House on the Prairie or something. Unfortunately, Larry doesn't know how to play the fiddle; so instead the kids all went downstairs and watched a 3 Stooges DVD.

I don't know why the Ingalls family never thought of that.

So now I have approximately a zillion blog posts to catch up on. I mean, look at what happens when I'm out of the loop - Bia (!) jets off to Las Vegas (without her husband!). You know, I would have voted her the mommy blogger the least likely to do something like that. (And remember, Bia, what happens in Vegas....)

Anyway, the Verizon man just left and he's my hero. Does anyone out there realize how hard it is to live without Internet access these days? Seriously, ev…

Into The Abyss

Well! Thank you to all who delurked yesterday; it was fun to "meet" some more of the people who stop by this humble blog. Many people asked how to find out how many Google Reader subscribers a particular blog has. It's simple - subscribe to the blog (be it your own or someone else's). When you go to its Google Reader "page," click on "show details" at the upper right.

I was very pleased with myself when I discovered this little trick. My self-congratulatory joy was tempered somewhat by my discovery that most blogs I admire have way more subscribers than I do. (That would be my more competitive side coming out.)

Others asked me how I knew someone from Littleton, CO, was hanging out on my blog. Sitemeter (it's free!) supplies all the info you could ever want to know about your readers. Warning: it's addicting. Not recommended for people who have more important things to do with their lives.

And the philosophical award goes to Lynn, who w…

Delurkers, Unite!

Okay, Littleton, Colorado! Now you're teasing me! Just how many times can you check out this blog in one day? Or maybe I have an entire fan club in that city. Don't y'all know it's Delurking Day today? Don't you think reading 15 pages of my blog demands a little hello?

Here is where I would place the cute Delurker Day Button if only I knew how...

And what about the rest of you? I've got 251 subscribers through Google Reader alone - about 30 of you comment. Wouldn't you like to drop a line today so I know who I've been communing with this past year? Show Littleton how it's done, won't you?

We had a hot competition at Bunko this evening to see who could lose the most games, and I won! I mean, I lost! So I got my 5 dollars back for the evening. Plus all the hors d'oeuvres I could eat.

I had a routine obgyn checkup today (and yes, I do want applause for going - I've put it off for at least 2 years), and the nurse who checked me in men…

Guide For The Perplexed

Recently Kalynne posted a sentence from an e-mail someone sent her. It was "The proof of good parenting is in the lives of our children..."

Oh, Lord, that still cracks me up. Gets me every single time...

I mean, if only, right? If only we could rest assured that by doing everything "right" (whatever that means) when raising our children, we would be rewarded with responsible, loving, hard-working teens and adults. But, um, no. Doesn't work that way. I've seen kids raised on TV and junk food and general neglect turn into the most wonderful people, and I've witnessed children nurtured and read to and lovingly disciplined develop into the most nightmarish teens you would wish to see.

There are no guarantees, folks! Parenting is a crap shoot! Isn't that great? So let me supply some of you unsuspecting innocents with a little guidance, gleaned painfully from personal experience. You're welcome.

How To Know Your Formerly-Precious Daughter Ha…

Slob Central

I just had the privilege of rummaging through the box into which Larry swept all the junk off our computer desk (I was looking for my scrapbooking tape runner - David needed it for a paper biplane he's creating). I never found the tape; but here's a partial list (and I can't emphasize the word "partial" enough here) of what I did find, in case any of you doubted my description of Larry and I as a couple of disorganized slobs.

My missing knitting book (and yes, I know I said last week it wasn't in there; apparently, it was hiding)Assorted sticky notes with phone numbers scribbled on themOne (large) electric stove burner drip pan (really)4 (yes, 4) expired and/or broken cellphones
One 10-dollar LLBean gift card (cool!)
New-in-box computer speakers (?)
6 pens1 paintbrush (new)
1 MP3 player that we are still trying to figure out how to useHalf a bag of cough drops (Ricola)30 dollars (finders, keepers!)An 8-month-old local newspaperStray playing cardsOne golf ball

As The Food Turns: One Day Late Edition

Before I get started on our regular feature, I need to say that my writing skills (particularly at 2 AM) were not up to the task of conveying my neighbor's customary joie de vivre as he expounded on the meaning of life. He proclaimed in the most jovial of tones that life was all about not getting what you want. I still think his wife may have felt a tad annoyed at him, though. I mean, it would be hard not to take that sort of statement personally, wouldn't it?

Back to the refrigerator, however:

Glass on the left, plastic on the right, lone representative from the produce category in the middle. That's an old grapefruit, which somehow got overlooked in the deluge of holiday sweets. Too late now...

Glass, from top to bottom:

potroast drippingsenchilala duff, circa 2008potroast fat and some cooked carrotstortellini in spaghetti sauce, which I prepared as an extra special treat for my dairy deprived children while Theo was away and which they unanimously disliked....

Quick Thought

Tried posting about my refrigerator earlier, but Blogger wouldn't take my photos...then I fell asleep early, due to having been up half the night with a coughing I'll leave you with a quick thought that was spoken by an only-slightly-soused neighbor at our New Year's Party:

Life is what happens while you're not getting what you want.

This was spoken in response to his wife's saying (about teens): Well, it's good for them to learn that sometimes you don't get what you want. And he said: Sometimes?!...

I don't know whether she is currently talking to him or not.

Discuss. I'll be back tomorrow.

The Yarn Cure

Octamom is demanding pictures of Fridge #2. Let's make a deal - the day I go over 10,000 readers a day, I'll post those photos. Which makes me pretty safe, as my current average hovers around 200...

My parenting today was less than stellar. I seem to have picked up the cold I thought I had ducked (which is what happens when your 3-year-old sneezes in your face), so I spent half the afternoon lying on the couch; the rest of the day I spent being spectacularly unproductive - jigsaw puzzles, cards, whining...

No, wait, it was the kids who were whining. Whatever...

Rachel has a special talent for injuring herself in bizarre ways. Today she screamed for half an hour because she had shoved a playing card under her fingernail - repeatedly.

[Are you wincing? I'm wincing.]

She says that was the only way she could pick the card up from the floor. I say she was inflicting Karmic payback on herself for a former life spent as a torturer of political prisoners.

It refuses to snow here…

Nothing Of Importance

Larry and the 2 oldest have once again left me to fend for myself while they join other homeschoolers on a ski trip. So, the remaining 4 kids and I continued eating party leftovers all day until dinner, when we ordered pizza. It is hard to believe there was ever a time I enjoyed cooking.

Now I have to finish the dishes and I don't want to do that either. I have been utterly deserted by any domesticity that I may have once possessed. 18 years of housewifery will do that to ya, you know...

That's right - 18 years...Saturday was Larry's and my anniversary. What with all the party and plumbing excitement around here, we both forgot about it until late Friday night. I remembered first, though. I do regret telling Larry right away. I could have earned lots of marriage points if I had waited until Saturday to let him in on the secret.


I can't find a knitting book of mine (The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, for those of you out there dying to kno…

Mr. Clean

Well, now that last week's craziness is over...

We had our neighborhood New Year's Day party, a casual affair which nevertheless required Larry and I to work like dogs for approximately 5 hours that morning cleaning up the house (not counting the hours I spent on Wednesday cleaning up the basement family room). Larry went above and beyond by cleaning out all the crap in our computer desk (thus ensuring that we wouldn't have to spend the afternoon praying that no one would open the cabinet doors and discover what disorganized slobs we really are). I almost cried with gratitude, it looked so good.

Then he moved all our files upstairs (to our bedroom), along with the box full of aforementioned computer desk crap, the basket full of unsorted mail, and a box of Christmas goodies I never got around to mailing (hey, I'm not proud of it, okay?). Oh, yes, and there was a tub for Christmas decorations, also. So what if we had to crawl over piles of junk to get into our bed tha…

Medical News You Can Use

Sometimes science can be our friend. Get a load of this!

Dieting at this time of year could impair your body's ability to fight the flu virus...
Were sweeter findings ever reported? I mean, can you believe it? Now it makes absolute sense that the Girl Scouts start their cookie sales in January - they're doing it as a service to the general welfare. Maybe the Surgeon General should post a little advisory label on those cookie boxes, stating that consumption of the contents thereof can contribute to one's wellbeing (something many of us already knew, right?). Maybe we should be able to use the money in our flexible healthcare spending accounts to purchase said cookies.

Still not convinced? Another quote from the article: is not the time to be thinking about diets...

So skip the flu shots and pass those Trefoils, will ya?

Fail Safe

All right! Stop right now! Raise your hands above your head and back slowly away from your keyboard....

Every blogger and her uncle, it seems, is posting New Year's Resolutions today. Lose weight, be more organized, pay more attention to your kids? Ah, you foolish, foolish souls...why would you set yourselves up for failure like that?

For the coming year, I firmly resolve to...

Maintain my current (over)weight.
Studiously ignore my children at least 2 hours every dayMake sure to have a minimum of 10 knitting projects started at all times, with fully half of them not findable at any given moment. Finish projects only when absolutely necessary.Take thousands more pictures, but only edit a minimal number (say, when a small child asks, "What does Grandma look like again?")Breathe loudly near my teen daughter. She likes that.Refuse to number lists properly. If Blogger wants me to count to 4 and then start over again, who am I to argue?Oversleep.Waste time blogging.
My motto…