Saturday, December 30

Back in the Saddle

We skidded into our NY driveway at 10pm, a mere 11.5 hours after hauling out of the NC one at 10:30am. We included a precious few pit stops into our journey, and the wee ones were real troopers. We did indulge in a little Bojangles for lunch along with some much-missed Cheerwine a couple of quick combination fuel/bathroom/food stops and that was about it. Brainy Boy suffered through it by watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy that Uncle lent him and Little Chic used her new Nintendo DS to diligently train her new NintenDog who had graduated puppy training by day's end. I passed the time by doing some admiring of my new laptop until motion sickness set in and then did a little snoozing in a less than comfortable position. Hero Guy fared best by having total control of the steering wheel (and thus the radio and temperature gauge) and we all pulled in with surprisingly good attitudes.

HyperDog was thrilled to see her family back although she did enjoy a bit of a vacation herself, visiting with neighbors for the nights and spending the days back at home annoying MonsterPaw without restriction. Now MonsterPaw is another story, not quite sure if she is mad at us for returning and disturbing her peace, or mad at us for leaving in the first place and giving us the cold shoulder for punishment. As I type this very first post from my brand new laptop (perched comfy against my pillow rather than hovering over my desktop) MonsterPaw is not in her usual place at the foot of the bed.

Hopefully by year's end, all will be back to normal.

Monday, December 25

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,
Will Dasher lead the slay next year? Do you have a magic watch that can stop time or slow it down? Tell dasher hese my favrite. Do you know Tiana M or Erin S? My brother doesn't beleave.

a bealver,
Little Chic

PS. I hope you like your cokies. I left a carot for each reindeer and 1 for you. My favrite animal is a cat. My favrite color is blue.

Dear Little Chic,
I'm fine if Dasher leads next year. I'll tell Dasher, don't worry. Want to know a secret? Dasher's my favorite too. Of course I've got a magic watch. Actually I've got two of them in case one breaks. Tiana and Erin? Yes, I know who they are. Are they friends of yours? I know your brother doesn't believe. That's his choice, I guess. Don't you worry. I love your cookies. Also my reindeer love carrots. My favorite animal is the reindeer obviously, and my favorite color is green. Let me take this time to complement you on your cat. It's so well-behaved. It always walks up and lets me pet her. Her name's Bobcat, right? And your dog's so affectionate and always jumps on me. Her name's Max, right? I love having girls like you in the world, always so nice. I've never had to give you coal.

Your good friend,
Santa Claus

(Santa was helped this year, by his scribe, 10-year-old Brainy Boy who offered to do the honors. Below, you can see "Santa" enjoying this year's selection of cookies and carrots.)

The Nativity

I wrote this script for our live nativity at church, trying to capture the thoughts of what the various characters might have been thinking as they experienced Jesus' birth. It's a story that we've all heard a million times, and I find that 2000 years later, many people think of the Christmas story as a fable or a folk tale. Sometimes it's difficult to really grasp the fact that this story really happened, and it happened to regular, ordinary people like you and me. Our nativity on Christmas Eve attempted to bring the story back to life and help each of us connect ourselves with the people that were around during the time when the event actually happened.

I wrote the script on request--it's definitely out of my comfort zone to do dramatic writing for a public audience like this was, but hopefully it will make the meaning of Christmas more personal for you as well.

Mary’s Reflections
I am but a girl who intended to marry a man and eventually start a family together with him. I was anticipating my life plans as any ordinary young woman does, when an angel of the Lord brought me a message that I would become the mother to a child who would be like no other. I am willing to participate in this wonderful event, but the price has been difficult to pay. I was stricken with fear and anxiety about the reaction I would get from those around me when I related this unlikely story. I am not fit to be the mother of a king, and certainly not the mother of the Messiah who has been expected since ancient times. This is an honor that I know I do not deserve. I experienced doubt and disappointment from my parents even though I have kept myself pure. I was nearly abandoned by my beloved Joseph even though I have always been honest with him.

In his kindness, God gave me comfort when I visited my cousin and her own unborn child gave a sign that the Messiah was in our presence. In that moment, I realized that I would be able to bear this burden and that I am not alone. I also felt validated when Joseph received his own message from the Lord and decided to partner with me to parent this child. As the arrival of my little one draws near, I am fearful of what is to come. I yearn for my child to grow up happy, healthy and strong. I want a safe, comfortable life for him rather than the one of sorrow and pain that he will have. I am heartbroken over the fact that many will deny that He is the One sent from above, and they will scoff at the sacrifice He makes for mankind. I can only do my best to fulfill the promise I made to the angel of the Lord - that I would indeed be the best mother I can with the strength that comes from relying on God.

Joseph’s Ponderings
From the time I was a young boy, I have had plans for my life that included marrying a girl from my village and setting up shop as a local carpenter. I intended to raise a family with sons and daughters and to be a man of honor and respect among my friends and neighbors. It will be difficult to accomplish these things with the arrival of this child that is coming. I am taken for a fool because I have stayed loyal to Mary even when she declared that she was having a baby that is not mine. Although I doubted the story at first, I received a personal visit from the Lord, brought by an angel from the heavens. Imagine the pressure of knowing that you will be responsible for rearing this little child in an environment that nurtures and develops the plan that God has for Him. I am a tradesman – not a rich man, not an educated man. I will not be able to give this baby a life of privilege. I cannot teach this child important things about the world. I can only offer myself, my heart, my example of what a Godly man of strength and honor should be. I don’t know if that’s enough - especially with the opinions and advice of those around me who will be sharing how they think the Messiah should be raised. But God gave this job to me and I have to believe that He did that because He will be working through me.

Wiseman’s Musings
The day I saw the Star was a day that changed my perspective on life forever. I study the heavens and I learn things that are only revealed from above. I have been waiting especially for something that has not come to pass until now An ancient prophesy about the arrival of a new king has been passed down for generations, and many have thought it just a tale. Suddenly the sign has arrived and I believe it will be proven true. I am a man who has important things to accomplish, a family to provide for and I do it on my own. I am a man of influence, an advisor to the king, a respected thinker, a man of significant material possessions. I am able to succeed in my world without the help of anyone. But as I was conducting the business of my life, the very stars that I read every day finally proclaimed the arrival of a Jewish king who will rule the world.

I must admit that the sign given in the heavens is surely sent by a God who is bigger than any god I’ve known before. Although I am a man of importance in my world, I am taking precious time from my busy schedule to accomplish something much greater than anything on my own agenda. I am seeking the truth. With this message from the stars, I am also beginning to understand that I do nothing on my own, that everything I have is a gift from above, and I have needs that I can’t meet through my own strength. With this Jewish king comes the promise of hope for our world.

Shepherd’s Thoughts
I am a man simple man, one who is looked down upon by society. I lead a lonely, solitary life among the animals and no one envies my lifestyle. Because of the responsibilities I have in tending my flocks, I’m not able to participate in many of the customary practices of my people, even important rituals like observing the Sabbath by attending the Temple. For this reason, no one wants to associate with me and I am considered unclean. I am held in such disrespect that I am not permitted to testify in a court of law – not only is my lifestyle undesirable, so is my character. But the God Most High, Creator of the Universe has seen me in my humble state and has granted me the privilege of sharing firsthand in the joyous news of the birth of the Messiah. The heavens burst open with a throng of angels announcing the arrival of the child who will bring to pass God’s master plan for the world. God saw through my outward appearance into the heart of my soul and found that He could fulfill part of His purpose through me.

Sunday, December 24

Christmas Eve

From our family to yours - Wishing you a Christmas Eve filled with the Spirit of the only reason we have to celebrate--the arrival of the Messiah, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 22

Quote of the Day

Said in a high-pitched fakey, sugar-sweet voice "O, have I just died and gone to Heaven?" Said by little Chic during our excursion to get her Christmas dress as she finds just exactly what she wants.

You have no idea just how far from my own personality that is...Don't know where she gets all that drama. Must be from her dad.

Pic is from her school class Christmas party today.

Thursday, December 21

Caught In The Act

MonsterPaw is trying her best to figure out where Santa hid that catnip she asked for! She denies it, saying that she is only trying to help wrap presents, but we all know the truth...

Unexpected Company

It's always a little strange to have 'vacationers' at home during the school year. Those would be the people who aren't usually keeping me company during the daytime school hours (like Hero Guy when he is on vacation from work, or the kids when they are on holiday breaks). The hardest part about it is that the regular routine gets interrupted and I get all discombobulated.

This morning I attempted to keep on schedule, sitting on my bed having quiet time reading my Bible after the kids were gone to school. It's especially difficult to stay focused when Hero Guy is home, because, well--here's an example. While I was minding my business, Hero Guy was entertaining himself by putzing around the house enjoying a day off work. He disappeared into the bathroom where he keeps his handy-dandy binoculars (for spying on deer out the back window) and proceeded to peer off our top balcony at some unfortunate woman who was having car trouble on the road in front of our house.

At my suggestion that he go help her figure out what was wrong, he replied that he was 'letting her gain a sense of accomplishment by figuring it out herself." I suspect he didn't want to change out of his PJs that early, and after I scowled at him, he traipsed off to help her. He got there just in time for her to gun her motor and take off. I'm sure the poor thing is feeling very accomplished at the moment--she's probably thanking her lucky stars for getting out of there before the weirdo with binoculars showed up to help her.

Wednesday, December 20

Who Knows Why?

Why is it that every female head of household that I know, is running frantically like a hen being chased by a wolf as the days whittle down to the BIG ONE?

Why is it that the children of those same females are gleefully pronuncing, "Christmas is in only five days!!" as if their moms are calm and organized with everything done?

And why is it that the male partners of those females (be they husbands, boyfriends, dads or brothers) are saying "What stress? What needs to be done? I'm not stressed, why are you stressed?" ??

As of now, if it doesn't get done, it's not getting done, and I'm committed to being OKAY with it. Well, that is except for the remainder of the shopping to do tomorrow, the school classroom party on Friday, the wrapping on Saturday, the singing at two services in church on Sunday....all except for that.

Tuesday, December 19

Happy Anniversary To Us, Every One.

I realized after reading a post from my own personal Cupid (the high school pal who was a cousin to my own Hero Guy and introduced the two of us) that it's been a year since a group of family and friends started blogging to keep up to date with one another. Before that, I didn't even know what a blog was. Anyway, Cupid posted a hilarious summary of some of the crazy stuff you find in your email box. It is especially funny to me, because I'm such a skeptic (I prefer the term, "realist") that I don't believe even the stuff that turns out to be true per Snopes! So here's to plagiarism...


SUMMARY OF MY LAST YEAR ON THE COMPUTER

I must send my thanks to whoever sent me the one about rat poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet towel with every envelope that needs sealing.

Also, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258 the time.

I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.

I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's novena has granted my every wish.

I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.

I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day

Thanks to you, I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer can buy gasoline without taking a man along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.

I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans.

I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.

And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face...disfiguring me for life.

I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be stuck with a needle infected with AIDS.

I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer receive packages from UPS or FedEx since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.

I no longer shop at Target since they are French and don't support our American troops or the Salvation Army.

I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica , Uganda , Singapore , and Uzbekistan .

I no longer have any sneakers -- but that will change once I receive my free replacement pair from Nike .

I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.

Thanks to you, I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it bites my posterior.

Thank you too for all the endless advice Andy Rooney has given us. I can live a better life now because he's told us how to fix everything.

And thanks to your great advice, I can't ever pick up $5.00 I dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.

Oh, and I can no longer drive my car because I can't buy gas from certain gas companies!

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 PM this afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician...

Have a wonderful day....

OH! by the way:

A South American scientist from Argentina , after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity read their e-mail with their hand on the mouse.

Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late.

Monday, December 18

Music IQ

I come from a fairly musical family and we all enjoy singing, some of us playing an instrument, and generally surrounding ourselves with tunes most of the time. In an effort to keep the passion alive, I have immersed my kids in musical experiences, taking them to Kindermusik as tots, having them join Kid's Choir at church and I've even suggested taking instrument lessons themselves. Little Chic has fully embraced this idea since she pretty much has a song and a jig going inside her brain 24/7. Brainy Boy, on the other hand, loves to hear music, likes to sing, but does it all in his own time. The discipline associated with going to choir practice or playing an instrument does not interest him at all. Now, I'm not the type of parent to force my interests on others, so this year since Brainy Boy is 10 and in 5th grade, I allowed him to opt out of the children's choir at church, and he is no longer required to be in chorus at school. He does still have a general music class, but that's about all the structure his notes get.

Occasionally I will indulge myself in a little prodding, and tonight at dinner I mentioned that if Brainy Boy had joined chorus or had taken lessons on an instrument this year, he would have been performing in the 5th grade chorus and band concert tomorrow night. I knew this would just confirm his decision about not joining, since he never likes the concerts. I decided to try a little psychology on him stating "You know, research shows that taking music lessons increases your math IQ." It took him about a millisecond to respond - "Yeah, well BestBud takes TWO instruments and he still has failing grades." So much for that string of logic.

Sunday, December 17

Benefits of Being Short

Most kids want to grow up, and Little Chic especially yearns to "get bigger". I tell her there are benefits to being small, short, little or whatever you want to call the kid-state. Only a 9 year old can get away with having best girlfriend come to spend the night, don bathing suits and take a dip in the jacuzzi tub.

Saturday, December 16

New Life

This video is one of the most profoundly simple explanations I've ever seen about what it means to have New Life. Thanks to old High School buddy for turning me on to it.

Whewwww, Campaign Over

Just in the nick of time, the 2006 Weblog awards came to a close. I was feeling quite chipper for the first half of voting, as I remained strongly in the #5 position. It became much less satisfying to see my stats as the days dragged on seeing myself slip to #6, then #7 and at one point, #8. Luckily the votes were tallied and I tied for 8th,9th,10th with 2 other bloggers (that's face-saving speak for "tied for last place"). The judges were kind enough to place my name in the first of the losing spots, so that I can trick myself into believing I wasn't the least popular. But were it not for all you friendly types who check my goings on every day, I wouldn't have even been in the running. So thank you for the 144 clicks of affirmation that you all gave me for the past 10 days, admitting to the world that you humor me by reading my ramblings.

My consolation prize is that I get to keep that snazzy little button forever. I probably won't even take it out, well, ever!

Friday, December 15

Holiday Hassle

The hustle and bustle at this time of year is infamous. I, like every other person in modern-day America, promise that I am going to shop online, am going to get my errands and mailing done early, and am going to sit back and relax throughout the season approaching Christmas. Of course I never do, and today was no different.

I headed to the Post Office with arms overloaded at 8am this morning, praising myself for beating the mad Monday rush (the 18th of course will be heralded as the busiest mailing day of the year). I had a dilemma about how to get my too-many packages into the building and up to the counter. Should I even attempt to carry them all at once? (even half the load was near impossible). Should I take in half, and speak to the nice counter woman explaining that I have another load and could I please deposit half the load in a safe spot while I run to the van for the second armload? Should I carry half inside, deposit it in line to hold my place and then dash back out to get the other half and meet my 'party' of packages where I left them? Would people think I expected them to guard my stuff? Would somebody assume that I was trying to budge the line when I returned with my second load? Would somebody take one of my packages??!

My decision was complicated by the fact that when I entered the building, absolutely no one would make eye contact (neither the customers nor the postal worker) so I couldn't nicely ask any favors. I decided all this thinking was using entirely too much energy, so I brought in half my load, stood in line for 20 minutes, made my way to the counter, paid my $34 in shipping and returned to my van for the second load and got back in line for another 20 minutes and paid a second bill of $28 and went on my way.

The whole time I was in line, I assessed whether I had made the right choice. I'm pretty sure I did considering that there were 3 counter people at the the Post Office, one helping customers and the other two intently watching her. Of course, once I was at the counter for the second time, the charm turned on and previously oblivious counter woman acted shocked that I was in line a second time, but she didn't suggest how I could have done it differently. Go figure!

Wednesday, December 13

Getting Even

Apparently Hero Guy was more perturbed than I realized about me not letting him wear his cowboy hat to the country music concert we went to Saturday night. This medic outfit is what he was wearing when he showed up at church on Sunday evening for Little Chic's children's choir performance!

Oh, ok--the truth. He was on medic duty. But you have to admit, the first story sounded better.

Tuesday, December 12

Learning from Experience

Life brings with it lots of experience and if you pay attention, you can learn some really good lessons. Some of the stuff I'd forgotten and have been reminded of this week:

1) "Uh-huh" does not qualify as a "yes" from your kids. More than likely it means "I'm watching Sponge Bob and something (I have no idea what) is making a really annoying noise, but saying "uh-huh" makes it stop."
2) If your computer never crashes, it will - Just as you finish entering all the numbers in that new budgeting program you're trying out.
3) If your husband never drives your vehicle, he will suddenly need to - But only when you have been shopping with the kids who have been eating in your car all day. This will elicit a comment about how terrible it is that you allow your car to be a pigpen ALL the time.
4) You can't go by the calorie counter on those high-tech treadmills. One day, a 3.5 mile run will burn 500 calories, and the next day, at the exact same pace, it will only burn 350.
5) If you're in a hurry before PTA meeting, a meal can be made up of entirely white food--like pasta alfredo with garlic bread - and you won't even feel bad about it. You'll say to yourself "At least it's not take out".

No need to thank me for sharing these tidbits before you have to learn them on your own the hard way.

Monday, December 11

Project Overload

School projects were never my thing. I dreaded the Science Fair. I hated the bug collection. I actually tolerated research projects and book reports but only because I liked reading and enjoyed digging for information. But attach a display or something that you had to build to the requirements and I was out. I'd put the thing off until the very last minute and then try to scramble the entire family into panic mode to bail me out. Now Hero Guy, on the other hand, adores projects and loves fiddling with all the details. He helps plan and construct to the point that I have to slap his hands lest our wee ones not get proper credit for doing enough work.

As luck would have it, our project days are not over. I now have 2 kids of school age and both get projects from their regular classes as well as the enrichment program they are in. I got the glad tidings today that Little Chic will have a longhouse project due on January 3. The teacher has kindly given 'ample' time to complete the project, which for me means before Christmas since we will be traveling out of state for the entire holiday week off.

Why is this a problem? Well, for #1- what is a longhouse? For #2, if I had all my Christmas shopping done, I might be in the mood for a little project supply hunting, but since it's not, I'm not. For #3, if I think a 4th grader can totally construct a detailed replica of an ancient Indian abode (accurate details inside and out) on her own, then my kid will be the only one in the class showing up with a 4th-grade project rather than a heavily-adult-assisted masterpiece. The #4 problem is that Hero Guy is not available to be the guilty party in taking-over-the-kid's-project duty, so it is left to me.

If you see me tomorrow, amid the gifts in the cart, I'll surely have some twig material, faux fur and fake leather and I can't even use it for package embellishments.

Saturday, December 9

Redneck Heaven

My sis has always said that Hero Guy was born wishing he were a redneck. He has quite an eclectic taste in music and although he does like classic rock, contemporary Christian and mellow worship music, he's really a country music fan. I think he likes it not so much for the way it sounds, but because there is a costume that is associated with that genre. Although country & western has never been my favorite, Hero Guy has chiseled away at my resistance and tonight we are going to see Little Big Town, a group that I've actually come to enjoy. I was looking forward to the evening until Hero Guy started asking me what I'm going to wear. This was an immediate red flag because he never thinks about his attire unless we are walking out the door and I tell him that neither his C*ville Fire Department T-shirt nor his medic suit are appropriate choices for the holiday party we've been invited to. And he certainly doesn't think about what I'm wearing, especially whether or not we coordinate.

Upon further questioning, my worst fears were realized. He IS wearing his cowboy boots and the rodeo shirt to the concert (the same shirt that he's rescued from the Salvation Army donation bag several times). I've quietly hidden the cowboy hat that he's so proud of, but no doubt he'll make us late tonight when he's hauling out the closet looking for it. The reason he was asking about my clothes is that he was hoping I'd be wearing something to coordinate. Yeah...um...that would be absolutely NOT.

Everyone thinks that I'm married to a good ol' country boy who lives in a log house, volunteers with the local fire department, obsessively hunts with a bow and a firearm and wears that cowboy getup every time a rodeo comes into town. But it's actually just a clever scheme on our part to cover up the sophistication that comes with being a senior avionics engineering manager. You gotta be stealth, ya know?

Friday, December 8

Mind Over Matter

While getting ready to say bedtime prayers Wednesday night, Brainy Boy (10 years old) informed me that he has the ability to control his own dreams. "So how does that work?", I asked. He looked at me like this was something I should totally know already, he nonchalantly explained, "I just use reverse psychology on my subliminal characters." I expressed my doubt reminding him "If that were so, you wouldn't need to come into our bedroom at night when you have a scary dream. You could just write your dream in a different way that wouldn't scare you." Disgusted with my question of his logic he told me "Ma, I only came into your bed back when I was still at the mercy of my brain power."

So there you have it.

Thursday, December 7

Remember the Little People

Note To The Masses:
I realize that I am a peon in the scheme of humanity. I also realize that my wit quotient is about a paragraph long - maybe two on good days. I further realize that I live in small town America and some might find my life, well, mundane. That's why placing in the TOP 10 for BEST DIARIST in the 2006 Weblog Awards is a big deal to me.

So here it is. If you are so inclined, you can vote for me once a day until December 15. If you're curious, it will even tell you how badly I'm being outvoted. If you don't see this topic ever mentioned again, it will be safe to assume that I didn't win. Seriously, considering that I started this blog a year ago just for fun and subsequently got hooked, it's pretty amazing that I'm even included in the line up. And life goes on.

Wednesday, December 6

Little Ol' Me

The 2006 Weblog Awards

Who Knew?
The category I'm nominated in is Best Diarist. Apparently voting starts on Thursday, but since I have no idea how it all works, I can't give you much direction on how best to help catapult me to fame. So just go to the Weblog Awards site tomorrow and figure out how to vote. For Me. For Best Diarist. I'll mention your name in my speech. Heehee.

Tuesday, December 5

Bright Lights, Big City

The trip to the Big Apple was exciting as could be expected. 5:30 am came much earlier than expected being the morning glory I am not. I did chug an extra cup of coffee and that helped sustain me till we arrived for our 11am show. The Rockettes were pretty unbelievable and the live nativity at the closing scene was indescribable. It brought lots of the audience to tears. Some of the highlights were the Macy's famous Christmas window display, the gaggle of people waiting sale of the Wii at the Toys R Us in Times Square (the store that has a ferris wheel inside) and of course, the tree in the Rockefeller Center which was the #1 thing on my "To See" list.

Notably, I did very little shopping, and spent less than $50 (not counting the show tickets and the bus fare) which I have to say, I'm feeling quite smug about. But the hubub and atmosphere was worth the 4.5 hour drive and I'll probably be making the trek every Christmas from now on. The deli we found for lunch was also worth the drive but we'll have to see if I'm ever able to find it again. In the spirit of the season, we tracked down a street vendor selling roasted chestnuts which were a lot mushier than I remember them being. Not the favorite delicacy of the day, although I did eat about six of them before I decided this.

The only regret I had was not taking Little Chic along although she would have been the only minor in the group and she would have had to miss a day of school. But next year, she'll more than likely have one illegal absence from school in early December.

Hero Guy fared quite well playing Mr. Mom, only getting the kiddos to school 3 minutes late, locking them out of the house in 30-degree temps for about five minutes when they beat him home from school, and taking them to dinner and shopping rather than getting their homework done at a reasonable time. As a bonus, he got them to bed an hour late so they were still up to see me arrive home at 10pm! Believe me, the wee ones were in fine form when it was time to get up for school this morning.

In any event, we all fared well, I enjoyed my day, they enjoyed their prizes and now the Christmas season seems officially underway.

Saturday, December 2

I Think I'm Falling In Love

Over the years, Hero Guy and I have 'shared' responsibility in keeping our financial books in order--he likes to be the one officially in charge, but the fact that his work schedule is very unreliable and I have an irresistible urge for controlling things, we volley back and forth for the responsibility depending on what's going on in our lives. The problem is that when 2 people each think the other is doing the job, it rarely gets done well.

Thus, I recently volunteered for the task of coordinating Financial Peace University for our church (only because coordinating involves pushing the "Play" button on the DVD player) so I have been doing most of the entering, tracking and analyzing of our spending so I feel a bit more put together when the class begins on January 10. I volunteered for this job because I really see finances as being a huge stress in many of the married couples I know, and I could really use some organization help and motivation in this area as well.

In prep of the upcoming class, I've been very conscientious over the last 3 months to carefully track our spending. Over the past 17.5 years together, we've used a variety of systems to do this. I prefer the hands-on, non-practical method of using paper envelopes. I like to look inside, see how much money I have to spend and when the envelop is empty, I know I can't spend anymore. It's pretty easy to figure why that method is a bit cumbersome, getting the bills in the correct denominations for each envelope, having the cash with you at all times, etc.

Hero Guy prefers a computer program like Quicken. It's is basically a ledger style computing system which tracks your budget as you enter transactions. I don't like this program because I can't tell when I've overspent in a category without running a report and when I'm running to Walmart, I'm not inclined to report anything until I'm good and ready.

I also tried for a while to use a very inexpensive (approx $30) shareware type of program called "Budget" which is a virtual envelope system that shows a series of labeled envelopes on your computer screen and you move money in and out of them as you spend or deposit. I did like this program because I could open it, look right in each envelope and tell if I was going to have to "borrow" from another category in order to buy what I wanted, but it was a bit unsophisticated in it's ability to provide enough analysis for Hero Guy's liking. The advantage to this system is you are allowed to download and try it for 200 transactions (which lasted me about a month) before you buy it.

Enter my new love, Mvelopes. Now I am saying this prematurely as I just downloaded my 30-day free trial last night. But after spending about half an hour setting it all up, I think I'm in love. I had heard about this product developed by Crown Financial Ministries before, but had never looked at it. It combines the perfect mix of ledger-style Quicken and virtual envelopes so you can easily see how much you have spent in each category of your spending plan. The best part???? It "calls" your bank account and automatically enters every transaction that passes through your account. Now I only set it up to track my checking account. You can track everything--savings, credit cards, etc., but I need to start slow. I get a 30-day trial and then I have to make the big decision. This is the biggest disadvantage of this program - there is a monthly service fee (depending on the plan you choose, it's as low as $10 per month). The biggest benefit over other budgeting software is that it tracks your money before you spend it, rather than after the fact as all the other popular software does. Another perk is that you get free online chat help with support staff so as I try it out this month, I may decide that it's a good investment since balancing my checkbook is a task I truly hate, and Hero Guy just doesn't have the time to be consistent. OK, OK, I admit there is a bit of pleasure that comes with being the boss of the 'books'. But still, it's a big pain in my neck.

Friday, December 1

Whirlwind

I'm thinking that the 60 mph winds and possible tornados today will not deal kindly with the garland and bows I strung on my porch yesterday. And I did such a nice job too, using that handy staple gun on my own. This is notable because I don't think I've ever put up garland and bows before, so I'm bummed.

I am cheering myself up by thinking about the bus trip I am taking to NYC on Monday. It will be my first time ever to see the city at Christmas. I'm happy now!

Thursday, November 30

Singshot

This site is a karaoke lover's dream. Very fun.

You do realize I'm sacrificing my own pride in order to further the singing pleasure for the rest of you!

What Kind of Reader Are You?

Since I love reading, I thought this was a pretty cool quiz, stolen from my friend, P.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Dedicated Reader

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

Fad Reader

Book Snob

Non-Reader

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz


What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Wednesday, November 29

The Bigger The Better


I have been informed that MonsterPaw is highly offended at the size of her Christmas stocking as compared to the one owned by HyperDog. If I remember right, last year we made a mad dash to CVS drug store because it was MonsterPaw's first Christmas with us and we had overlooked the need for her to have a stocking, thus the less than optimum size. I think Little Chic's stocking may have hosted some of the mousy toys Santa left since MonsterPaw's was a bit teeny. It appears that we'll be fixing this little problem to make things a bit more fair, or Little Chic is bound to fret for the next 25 days.

Tuesday, November 28

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

It broke my heart, but I threw away the lasting remnants of Thanksgiving dinner. Right into the garbage can, I did. Dumped that sweet potato casserole with the brown sugar topping, pitched that gravy and even the mashed potatoes. I just had to because I was eating all of it. By myself. And my scale was hating me and my body was feeling every one of those extra pounds when I rejoined my workout partners yesterday. You will notice that I waited until I had polished off all the macaroni and cheese as well as the remaining pie slices that were left when my family departed on Saturday. And I don't really even like pie that much. That's the problem with Thanksgiving dinner...it's just for eating, and eating, and eating.

Monday, November 27

Back To Being Me

I realize I have been unblogged for seven straight days. That must be a record for me. It is because I was living in the land of overachievement and superwoman status. I am happy to report that I have returned. The real me is back, including the floor that needs to be vacuumed and the laundry hamper that is overflowing while I am doing something more fun. I will give myself credit for volunteering for an hour at school this morning, working out (after a 10-day hiatus with that as well), getting groceries, buying supplies for Brainy Boy's school project and making a feeble attempt to begin putting things back in order after the house guests before I crashed. I will also say that my Christmas decorations are not up and I do not have even a smidgen of a plan of when they will rear their little heads out of their storage bins. I did enjoy having my fall decor up nice and early though, so maybe I can muster what's left of any gumption I might have and git 'er done by the weekend.

I was not un-thankful this holiday - I just didn't have an opportunity to record it for your reading pleasure. So here's my top 5:

5) I'm thankful I have a family to call my very own. Not the one I was born in to, but the one that I've created with my own beloved and the sweet ones that belong to us.
4) I'm thankful for the church that we found 8 years ago. Finding that particular spiritual home was a defining moment in our family.
3) I'm thankful for the friends I have. I went many years without any close friends but since having children, I have more friends with common interests to mine, than I can even count. And they all rock.
2) I'm thankful that I have a nice house to live in. And 2 vehicles. And more clothes than I need. And certainly way more to eat than I need.
1) I'm thankful for my relationship with Jesus Christ. If I had not committed my life to Him, I would be an emotional basket case and probably an addict of some type.

The amazing thing is that I did not do anything to deserve any of this or the many other things that I didn't take time to mention like health, extended family and material belongings that I own. There are others who are far more deserving that don't have these things, and sometimes I wonder "Why Me?" I think the thing that I'm most thankful for is that we don't get what we deserve. Because I'd have far less.

Monday, November 20

Best of Today

The funniest thing that happened today:
Watching 7 college kids go through Walmart buying their Thanksgiving groceries together debating whether or not Kraft shells & cheese was an appropriate side dish for such a special dinner and then seeing them horrified to learn that a party of their friends had just checked out and gone over their food budget and had to put some of their groceries back.

The grossest thing that happened today:
After returning from my trip to Walmart, I attempted to help HyperDog retrieve her toy from under the couch (she was pawing and whining for it) only to discover it was a real, live mouse cowering under the couch. I lifted up one end of the couch, HyperDog dashed under and took care of our little "problem" in a flash.

The most rewarding thing that happened today:
I used the staple gun for the very first time, ran out of staples and I took myself down to the hardware store and bought a new box of the right kind of staples - imagine that. This was after I hung two pictures each requiring 2 screws, AND I hung them straight the first time all by my lonesome! Another first timer. PLUS, I bought myself my very own measuring tape since Hero Guy's always seems to be in some mystery spot - and he won't know to borrow mine because he does not read this blog.

The hardest thing I did today:
I spent an hour scrubbing a huge iron stain off my shower wall. My weekly scrubbing session has been more of a quick wipe down and our water softener apparently is not making the best use of those Morton salt tablets.

The most repetitive thing that happened today:
Hero Guy came home with his 80th deer this morning (well, the 3rd buck this season, plus the coyote he shot on Saturday). He couldn't understand my lack of enthusiasm.

The most relieving thing I did today:
Cleaned out my one 'junk' cabinet in my kitchen that has been driving me nuts for ages. Bummer that the garbage truck won't be coming this week since my garbage day is Thursday (and they don't run a day late on holidays - they just skip a week).

Sunday, November 19

Cranberry Cheese Spread

If I were intelligent, I would spread my posts out for the week, rather than cramming them in one night. But at special request from my digital scrapbooking hero, here is a cranberry spread that I got from my sister, who is my home entertaining hero. The spread has been a hit both times I made it.

8 oz cream cheese, 1 Tbs orange juice, 1/3 cup pecans or walnuts. Mix these 3 ingredients together.

1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries coarsely chopped
4 green onions (scallions)
1 heaping Tbs canned jalepenos chopped
1-1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp ginger
3-4 Tbs fresh cilantro
Mix the second batch of ingredients together and refrigerate for 4 hours, THEN combine with the first set of ingredients.

Top with cranberries and cilantro, serve with crackers.

Minty Fresh

One of the bonuses I got from the Home Party Expo yesterday was a free sample of a peppermint foot soak and peppermint foot lotion from the Body Shop at Home girls. I hadn't intended to use it, but around 9:30 my aching feet saw the little sample jars and spurred me to fill a dish pan with hot water while I sorted through the dozens of recordings that Brainy Boy has programmed on to our new DVR (which we are getting for a 3 month free trial and we are loving it, I might add). No doubt we'll be paying the extra $5 a month for that come January 2007 since we'll be hooked by then. But back to the subject--my feet felt totally cool and refreshed as I headed off to bed, and HyperDog's breath smelled the same as when she chews through Hero Guy's pants pocket to scavenge his Polar Ice gum. Apparently the peppermint foot soak tastes as good as it feels. But you'll have to ask her about that since sipping foot soak water is her department.

You'd BETTER Forward This!

THIS has got to be one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time, in part because I can totally relate to it! Let's toast to all those people out there who detest getting those email forwards that go on and on and on.....

Thanks to Hero Guy's cousin, Mary, who forwarded me this little tidbit ;) She would also the the same Mary who introduced me to my Dearly Beloved all those years ago. You just never know what you're gonna get out of a friendship!

Saturday, November 18

Making A List

Extra things TO DO BEFORE NOVEMBER 18:
2 Parent Teacher conferences - check
Coordinate MOMs group meeting - check
Attend Thursday night Bible study - check
Enroll participants for financial class at church for the next 4 Sundays - check
Planning meeting at church for Christmas Eve - check
Baby Shower for friend - check
Take kids to Family Bingo at school - check
Let kids have sleepover with school friends - check
Visit Brainy Boy's bud in hospital after appendectomy - check
Take snacks to 100 5th graders on state testing days - check
Have 2nd appointment for Flu Shot study (and also get my $100) - check
Sing at Christian Women's Association - check
Coordinate MOMs group meeting (again) - check
Coordinate Home Party Expo - check
Shop for Thanksgiving - check
Have kids home for 4 half days and 1 full day off school - check

Wonder why I've had to skip kickboxing for the last 3 classes? But now it's really going to get busy because I can finally focus on Thanksgiving and the holiday season. Hang on to your hats....

Friday, November 17

Why Is It?

Why is it that when overnight guests are coming, I'm compelled to buy 2 new shower curtains AND liners, 2 new bathroom rugs, new tablecloth, a new set of sheets.....must I go on? This doesn't even take in to account the freshly painted walls and the 3 poster-sized prints I ordered of three photos I took AND the frames they need to go with them (although I must say the pictures are quite attractive). And we can't forget the numerous curtains and rods I've already put up as well as the picture frames that no longer match my new paint and are sitting in the basement waiting for the coats of spray paint to dry.

Maybe it's just that I'm not a detail girl and I don't notice that things need freshened up before they begin to look shabby - Nah, that's not it. I'm obsessed with the most minute details.

Maybe it's that I'm frugal and I'll do without so that I can save a few bucks? I wish I could say that was the truth.

I'm forced to admit that I'm sure it's because I'm a hopeless procrastinator. I notice something that needs to be done, but I wait until it's absolutely driving me crazy OR until somebody is coming that will actually witness that I've put the task off far too long.

The bonus is that once they're gone, I'll have that many fewer things on my TO DO or TO GET list. The drawback is that I've about driven myself crazy running around like a madwoman doing errands and taking care of things that I really should have done a long time ago.

And now, I'm going to crash....

Wednesday, November 15

Home Party Queen

I have always loved home parties - you know the kind where you visit somebody's house and a consultant will be selling the latest kitchen gadget, skin care product or scrapbooking supply? I'm a catalog fiend anyway, and I love to browse every catalog that comes into my mailbox. I'm not typically a hoarder, but those catalogs really like my house and they usually stick around a while. Although I love looking, I tend to go for the authentic buying experience, so stores are generally my preference....except that home parties offer the best of both worlds--they have those glossy catalogs that make everything look so irresistible, but you actually get to see the product before you order it.

Last fall, I came up with the brilliant (and at the time, I thought it was original) idea of holding a mammoth home party show around holiday time in my kids gymnasium at school. I figured it would be an opportunity for those consultants to get their names out and for us customers to see lots of stuff in one place. We ended up organizing it as a fundraiser so the school PTA actually makes some money on the side.

Anyway, in my scheme, the plan would only work if there were many different home party companies, otherwise no one would take the time to attend if it were just a few of the well-known standby companies. I began to scour the internet and quickly became obsessed with the number of different companies that do parties at people's homes. Our first event was a success, and I was able to coerce 38 different companies to come, some from quite a distance. Since it was a hit, we are repeating the event this year...this coming Saturday. I have to admit that I'm drooling over all the stuff these companies offer, although I will be restraining myself a bit more than I did last year. I can testify that several of my family members got unusual gifts courtesy of these obscure companies, but I did go a bit wild.

Since I'm sure you are dying to know, this year's line up includes - Arbonne International, At Home America, Avon, Body Shoppe at Home, Cookie Lee jewelry, Creative Memories, Discovery Toys, Home Made Gourmet, Home & Garden, Home Interiors, Itz Enterprises (health products), Kara Vita skin care, Lady Emily fashions, Lia Sophia jewelry, Longaberger baskets, Mary Kay cosmetics, Northern Lights At Home, Pampered Chef, Princess House, Party Lite, Spa Girl Parties, Simply Fun, Southern Living at Home, Stampin Up, Swiss Colony Occasions, Silpada jewelry, Thirty One Gifts, Tastefully Simple, Taste of Home, The Traveling Vineyard, Tupperware, Vantel Pearls, Weekenders clothing, Yoffi jewelry.

Probably the most unusual group coming is Vantel Pearls-they give you an oyster and you crack it open on the spot to find your pearl. You can then have it set in jewelry if you want. My biggest disappointment is that I wasn't able to get anybody from Tomboy Tools to come to this area. You can't even imagine the number of wonderful sales opportunities I've turned down nor the number of home parties I've declined to schedule! I think that's the downfall of being the contact person with my number on all the correspondence. Although I'm looking forward to it, my life will be a lot simpler, my phone messages will be lots fewer, and my email inbox will be much more empty once it's all over! I'll be glad for that.

Tuesday, November 14

Handy Dandy Me

My painting project has come to a temporary close until after the holidays, and I must say I am feeling quite self-satisfied at this point. Hero Guy did supply the initial impetus to get started, and he lent some manpower to the painting of the living room (and I will also give him credit for installing two curtain rods in the living room windows because I didn't trust myself in that high visibility area).

However, Me, Myself & I painted the entryway, the dining room and the hallway, removed and reinstalled all outlet covers, did all the taping and un-taping, spray painted two 16 x 20 picture frames, went on innumerable runs to Lowe's and even bought a couple of replacement face plates for light switches and/or outlet covers which had never been installed in the first place. These are all things I would have previously waited on to have help.

Just to prove I could, I finished the project by installing not 1, not 2, BUT 4 curtain rods my very own self, causing me yet again to ask why I've been living without curtains at my bedroom windows for 11 years. Apparently my ploy at making Hero Guy feel 'needed' didn't have the desired effect--I suppose that only works on those with co-dependent tendencies, which Hero Guy definitely does not have (self-sufficiency is one of the qualities he loves best). And I didn't even make any boo-boos, leaving 'extra' screw holes in the wall when I installed my curtain rods as Hero Guy did with his. And I used the little wall toggle screw-fastener thingys that you are supposed to use, which he also didn't do.

I just might go into the handyman business. Too bad the community college doesn't teach a shop class for wannabe fixer-uppers, although I did find a company that does home parties called Tomboy Tools that comes to your house and teaches you to use their tools and then sells you little girlie-tool kits. It's like The Pampered Chef for home projects!

Sunday, November 12

Things that Make You Go Ewwwwwww.....

I was happy to see Hero Guy pull in tonight, not just because we missed him while he was away for 5 days, but also to have him investigate the whereabouts of the mouse that kept me awake for the last two nights. I had a suspicion the critter was in the vicinity of this particular outlet as HyperDog and MonsterPaw stayed busy all night sniffing and poking around. Sure enough, this is what we found when we took off the outlet cover. Hero Guy was a bit disappointed that the mouse had opted to electrocute itself rather than be shot between the headlights by the BB gun.

Saturday, November 11

Luck or Skill?

It would seem that the hunter has been successful yet again. Hero Guy left on Wednesday morning, heading to the Adirondack mountains for a wilderness fix. He was going under the guise of hunting, but the area is so remote and monstrously big, it's possible to go for a week and never see game. But not this guy. He called to report that he shot a seven-point buck, the first deer anyone has shot in the area this season. He is over-collecting in the accolade department, so I may need to relegate him to the garage if he begins to get obnoxious. Luckily he's already gotten a bigger trophy this year, so #1, we will not be paying to have this head stuffed and #2, this seriously shortens hunting season for him. Yeah on both accounts.

Thursday, November 9

The Best Laid Plans

What I Planned:
To skip the Bible study that I am loving (Breaking Free by Beth Moore) to let my two favorite kids have their two favorite friends sleep over and taking my 2 plus their 2 Best Friends Forever to family Bingo to support the school PTA. Bonus points - Doing this all alone since Hero Guy is in the Primitive Forrest tracking down additional trophies.

What I Got:
A blue Bingo marker "explosion" by the girl BFF which caused the demolition of 2 winter jackets, 2 pair of pants (one bought new today), 1 favorite shirt. In addition, the five of us returned to my house with very stained arms and hands. As my luck would have it, all ruined articles of clothing except for one winter jacket belonged to my own children. Why is that?!

Please excuse my while I go and gaze at the soothing new green paint on my living room walls.

PS-Believe me, I would have posted pictures except that Hero Guy took my camera into the deep woods while he's stalking the big bad wolf.

Wednesday, November 8

Mad & Crazy Hunters

Hero Guy, being the avid sportsman that he is, had to have at least one offspring share his enthusiasm for hunting. Brainy Boy can't be bothered sitting in a tree stand for hours on end when you can't chat about the funniest Dilbert comic you just read. He has gladly passed all his camouflage to Little Chic and she readily accompanies Hero Guy whenever he'll let her.

On this particular Saturday trip, they did not see a deer. But they did see a small bobcat. That's pretty unusual around these parts, although not unheard of. The best part for Little Chic is that "Bobcat" is MonsterPaw's given name so she was thrilled to see the real namesake for our own family pet. Hero Guy was thrilled to have an opportunity to gloat about seeing such a sight in the wild. And they didn't even get a picture.

Tuesday, November 7

Flames A'Glowin

I've missed sharing my feeble attempts at wit & wisdom with you for the past couple of days, but I'm getting too much enjoyment out of the fresh coat of paint my living room got and now I'm on a spree. I'm a veritable painting machine, going for a bucket of deep plumb tomorrow to freshen up my scarred dining room walls.

Anyway, I haven't been alone while doing the sprucing. MonsterPaw has been keeping me company while I'm painting....warming every last extra toe of hers in front of the fire.

Sunday, November 5

Too Close For Comfort

Depressing: Def., "Realizing that you and your Dearly Beloved are entirely to close to wearing the same pant size.

Case in point - Hero Guy came 'har har-ing' out of the bedroom relating that he had accidentally been wearing a pair of my jeans for the last 15 minutes. He wondered why they felt so weird (translated - TIGHT) until he took them off and inspected the tag. He gloated that at least he knows he can fit into a Ladies Size ___ (you really think I'm going to tell you the number?!).

My Observations:
1) He had a MONSTER wedgie, so the jeans were entirely too small for him.
2) They are my "fat" jeans, a size bigger than what I actually wear, but I just like the broken-in feeling of them. Or the roominess or something.
3) They were the stretchy kind of jeans, so an elephant could have painted itself into them.
4) What's he bragging about having a girlish figure for anyway? Not very macho if you ask me.

Hmph.

Saturday, November 4

It's All in a Day's Work

Hero Guy and I have a few straggling rooms in our house with the original 11-year-old paint on them, which is not a pretty sight considering that when we moved in I insisted on everything being white. I was protesting against living in a log house so I was determined to keep the interior as modern and non-country looking as possible with the all open floor plan and large expanses of white walls.

Many of our rooms have since been painted but our living room, which we really didn't use much until the last few years, was one of them. It was getting to the embarrassing point, especially considering the non-washable surface of flat paint (who knows who chose that particular finish--not me!)

Anyway, at the first hint that Hero Guy might be willing to actually help me paint today, I dashed around all day Thursday and Friday gathering supplies and only making one boo-boo with a quart of paint that turned out to be the WRONG color. That's quite an accomplishment for procrastinator such as myself. We started at 8am, done by 12:30, room put back together by 1:30. It helps that we had the heat blasting and fireplace going considering the irritating snow flurries we got yesterday. Unbelievable--Thanksgiving isn't even here yet, and we're getting snow.

But I digress. I'm happy today. Because my living room walls don't look like I let my kids use them as hand towels anymore. At least for a bit anyway. I also got a bonus. I realized that it was entirely unnecessary for me to wait for 11 years to have Hero Guy install an outlet cover on the one outlet that is in complete and utter view from any standpoint of the room--I did it perfectly well myself. Now I just have to get going on the complementary taupe color that will finish the room and flow into the rest of the house. Somehow I know I'll be doing the rest of the painting by my lonesome.

Thursday, November 2

Say "No" To Crack

This Longtail "T" was the featured product in the Deluth Trading Company catalog I got yesterday. It's a real lifesaver for plumbing customers everywhere. The description goes "Sharing a little too much information? In 2002, in the cause of modesty and good taste we introduced the Longtail "T"....solving an age-old problem: The infamous, much feared Plumber's Butt.

The kicker is that it comes in a bucket labeled "Crack Spackle". Whew, problem solved!

Wednesday, November 1

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo...Which Should I Devour First?

One of my favorite bonuses of having children (a bonus being something you never realized was going to be a pleasant part of parenting) is the post-Trick Or Treat ritual of candy sorting. I'm sure all households go through this, although some may call it by another name. It happens under the guise of "helping" your child sort through and categorize the candy they've gotten in the order of its desirability. The key rule is that this must be done while the child is not home.

My sorting piles looked like this:
Pile 1: Little Chic loves this candy so much she has inventoried it and will totally notice if I eat even one. In this pile were two full sized candy bars! Who gives those?
Pile 2: I love this candy so much that I'll stop at the drug store to replenish the supply if Little Chic notices I ate one. This pile includes Twix, Snickers, M&M...well, half the haul anyway.
Pile 3: Not chocolate
Pile 4: Anything homemade - nobody is allowed to eat.
Pile 5: Almond Joys (I love, Little Chic hates).

Pile 5 finished with 5 mini Almond Joys so I figured for the next 5 days I could treat myself. Then I reconsidered and figured that it wasn't a good idea to tempt myself for 5 days in a row, so I ate them all. Right after my kickboxing class. I'm banking on the fact that one's metabolism does indeed stay elevated for an hour after exercise.

Some other interesting things collected during last night's round: Several trinkets such as Playdough (which will go in the craft box), a Frankenstein ruler (which will come in handy on some future project), a sticky hand (which will mark up my windows and walls) and a spinning top (which doesn't work).

The winner was a little Ziplock bag decorated with a pumpkin sticker containing a Snickers bar, a lollipop, a package of dental floss, a travel tube of toothpaste and a gift certificate for $10 off the first cleaning at a local dentist's office!

Tuesday, October 31

Siberian Tigers Look a Lot Like Zebras

The cost of a white sweat suit: $10
The cost of paint supplies $5
Hours it takes to paint a tiger suit: 4

Satisfaction of wearing your very own creation for Halloween: Priceless

Little Chic was determined since summertime to be a snow tiger (she corrects me saying it's a Siberian tiger). I casually looked for a redi-made costume and decided on a white sweat suit instead. I had a bit of a time finding white in the north after Labor Day, but my shopping prowess made it possible. I offered to help paint the stripes but she would have none of it. She did it totally on her own. We found ears, nose and tail and she was thrilled with the outcome.

Hero Guy and Little Chic went on a trick-or-treat bender while Brainy Boy pretended to be too mature for such frivolity and stayed home with me. He did take full advantage of the treats Little Chic brought home for him. One bummer--a few people called her a zebra. How annoying. She just growled at them.

Monday, October 30

Wanted: Architect, No Experience Required

As Little Chic has been busy at work on all her projects, Brainy Boy has also been busy. This year he has blossomed into quite the accomplished writer as his teacher has been assigning one essay after another. He regularly reminds us that he is indeed pretty much the smartest kid in his class, proven because all the other kids tell him so. He also takes great pleasure in using vocabulary that no one else is familiar with. I take the responsibility to remind him periodically that there is no monopoly on genius and there is enough intelligence to go around for all of us. In any case, he continues to confound Hero Guy and I as to where his brains could have possibly come from. He's 10 and in 5th grade. Here's his most recent essay describing how to do something.

How to Build a Secret Underground Fort:
If you are reading this essay you are about to build the best underground fort ever. You might ask "Why do I want to build a secret underground fort? Well, if you are going to build something secret you're not going to build it out in the open. Or if you're trying to hide something you're not going to set it some place obvious are you? But now let's get something straight, this is going to be BIG and is going to cost a lot of money, so you have to know how to do it. Okay, with that said let's get to work.
First, we have to buy pipe, copper or PVC is good. This is for indoor plumbing which we will do later. To start the digging process, go rent a digger and dig a large tunnel. At the end of the tunnel create a catacomb, and underground room. Make sure the tunnel and the catacomb have structural integrity which means it will not cave in. To do this I recommend concrete and steel garters. Before the concrete hardens lay down piping for the indoor plumbing, also give the catacomb electricity by using wire. Now branch off more catacombs and give them indoor plumbing, electricity, and structural integrity. After that it's time to make smaller rooms, such as vaults, bathrooms, and several personal bedrooms.
Now for the main part! the central catacomb. This must be the biggest, make it about twice the size of the biggest of the others. All wiring will connect here. Also have computers, and monitoring equipment here. Now to put the barbed wire around the fort. Make sure the barbed wire is the twisty kind, it works better. After you finish doing that, start digging holes in some of the main rooms, ten should work. Turn these holes into tunnels. Make the walls strong enough to hold out, and then hide the tunnels behind something, such as a bookcase or a poster. Make sure to put a flash light near the tunnels so the people who will soon work there can escape quickly. Now you can furnish the fort with what ever needed.
Now you have a secret fort. You can use the fort for research, planning, a place of military operation, and maybe even a hidden passage from one point to another. Anyway now that you have read this essay you can start building.

The fact that he has never built a secret fort, or any structure for that matter, is a mere detail to Brainy Boy. His expertise apparently comes from all his books. Another positive note - low self-esteem is not one of his issues. He's a pretty funny kid, this boy of mine. He keeps us laughing with all his seriousness.

Sunday, October 29

What I Like & What I Don't

You know what I love about "falling" back an hour in the fall? I love that when I go to bed at 2am, it's now only 1am!

You know what drives me nuts about the time change? Spending all day Sunday hearing people say, "It's 8:00 new time, but it's really 7:00 old time. No, wait, it's 9:00 old time."

Friday, October 27

Just One Me

There are 280 people in the US with my name, but aren't you glad there's just one ME?!


HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere are:
280
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?



Thanks for this tidbit that I really needed to know, Thad!

Creepy Carrots

Okay, so I didn't want to bring just plain carrots and dip to Little Chic's Halloween party. I was feeling a little out-done with all the super-cool moms in Brainy Boy's class who bring all these awesome creepy treats to his party. So I spotted this idea and decided to try it. The fingers actually grab you when you try to spoon out the dip. Heehee.

Thursday, October 26

Busy Buggies

Little Chic is who I want to be when I grow up. She is the craftiest, project-iest, most creative dame to ever hit this part of the family. I'm such a wannabe that I'll choose all these projects and crafts to do, run around and get the supplies, lay them out to get started and promptly lose interest. Not so with my dearest little gal. She is 100% all-American artsy fartsy. She actually wanders around looking for projects to do and this time of the year is perfect for that craving of hers. I have to say that although I can't take credit for passing her the create-a-gene, I do supply lots of opportunities for her to hone her skills in that particular area.

This particular run of creating started with her Cat-O-Lantern a couple of weeks back. I'm sorry to report that that project has now been relegated to the dumpster due to collapsing with rot. Little Chic progressed to her Siberian tiger costume she is making for Halloween (that will be featured when it's completed). I interrupted her work today by spying these adorable "beetle cookies" in the Halloween feature of a magazine at PTA Friend's house. I stopped by the store and had all the supplies layed out for her after school. She got right to work and whipped out three-dozen of those little buggers. The 4th graders will be chowing on them at their Halloween party tomorrow afternoon. After she was done with the cookies she resumed work on that black & white tiger costume that she'll be roaring around in come Trick or Treat night.

Although Brainy Boy, much like myself, doesn't enjoy the creating part, he's quite an accomplished judge, especially in the tasting arena and he approved of the beetles.

Wednesday, October 25

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The Good News: I'm not pregnant. That's according to the Flu Vaccine Research study that I joined today. Not that I thought I was pregnant, but they kindly informed me that I'm not anyway. I've noticed that whenever it is imperative that you not be pregnant for some reason (like beginning a new medication, or getting certain types of x-rays, etc.) women of child-bearing age will be asked if they are pregnant. If you reply to the negative, they will promptly do a pregnancy test. I suppose they figure your word is more reliable if you are in the family way.

The Bad News: Looks like I'll be going to get that root canal after all. Dr. Miracle Worker's miracle filling isn't working out so well. The 75% better tooth has stayed that way and although it's not excruciating, 25% annoying is bound to get on my nerves since I've been putting up with this tooth for way too long. And believe me, whatever gets in the way of me eating my fall obsession (carmel apples) in comfort is on it's way to tooth heaven.

The Ugly: Because of my own lack of proper party planning procedure, I have become solely responsible for Little Chic's classroom Halloween party on Friday. I was able to scramble and get 2 people to contribute an item each, and they have promised to be there to help. But all the arrangements, planning and supplies other than plates, napkins and popcorn will be dragged in by me. I think I'm already experiencing Room Mother burn-out if there is such a thing. I do have a secret plan--I'm dressing up as a fairy and going to wave the magic wand around, hoping that everything will "POOF" into place. We'll see how that works for me.

Tuesday, October 24

Love, in the "Toothest" Sense of the Word

I just am totally loving my dentist today. I was a bit like a pig going to the...uh...pig heaven when I went to my 9am appointment expecting the worst. He had already warned me that a root canal would be in order. Now this dentist is actually one of the best I've ever been to. In addition to doing good work, he's also the fastest you've ever visited. There is no wait to get in and his procedures are always done before you've even settled into the chair. Even the shivers you get from the squealing drill barely get to your bone before he's ushering you out the door.

Today was no different. I arrived at 8:50. I was in the chair by 8:55. I was out the door at 9:10. In that amount of time, numbed me up, drilled out my filling (which caused me to come only slightly unglued), determined that everything still looked healthy and did a trial run with some sort of desensitizing filling material. I call him on Thursday to let him know if it's working. I have to say that already it is better, maybe 75% or so.

In any case, I just love this guy. At least until Thursday.

Monday, October 23

Toothy Trouble

Tomorrow I'm having my very first ever root canal. As a kid, I had several cavities around the 10-11 year age, but other than that, I've had pretty good teeth. I've been religious about going to the dentist even as an adult, and I've required little maintenance. I'm not sure if it's age or just the luck of the draw but for about a year, I've had a molar that is giving me trouble. It began when I had my dentist change out a silver filling for one of those pretty white ones. I quickly began to regret the vanity that prompted the switch because I noticed that cold and hot things really bothered that tooth. They said that white fillings tend to be more sensitive than gray ones, so I became loyal to Sensodyne. It didn't help. At all. Pretty soon it was any pressure (like chewing) that caused pain and eventually it even became sensitive enough that I can't brush it. After putting up with the aggravation for about a year, I went to see the dentist. He told me to take an antibiotic for a week and call him back. I took the antibiotic but didn't call him back, even though it didn't help. I was too busy. That was this summer.

I've finally gotten sick of putting up with the discomfort so I made an appointment to have a root canal. I made the appointment last week. The appointment is for tomorrow. Could somebody please tell me why over the past week, this tooth has gradually gotten back to almost normal? I'm pretty sure it's psychosomatic, but I have been able to tolerate hot, cold, chewing and even brushing. Veeerrry weird. I'm going to try the same trick next time I'm really sick with a sinus infection or something. Maybe just making the appointment heals you. Who knows? But I'm still getting the root canal.

Saturday, October 21

Tigers VS Golden Bears

My kids happen to go to the school that is the arch rival of the high school Hero Guy attended as a teenager. Little Chic has always taken great pleasure in heckling Hero Guy about "her" school beating "his" school in football. As luck would have it, tonight they were playing against one another and we decided to attend our very first high school football game since our kids have been school-aged. Brainy Boy really cared nothing about going, but he went along with the idea after I bribed him by letting him bring a friend along. Little Chic was totally invested, as she really wanted to see her dad's team beat and besides, she is really into any kind of competition, no matter what the game.

We met a couple of other families and sat in the bleachers until Little Chic realized that it was permissible to stand at the fence surrounding the football field. Once she became aware that she could be within touching distance of not only the life-sized tiger mascot but also the cheerleaders, she and I were permanently parked directly out of view of any and all field action because of the mass of cheerleaders in front of us. We did, however, have a clear shot of the scoreboard, and so we were able to scream and jump at all the appropriate times.

Hero Guy lost interest in the third quarter when it was clear his team was getting stomped, and he offered to take Brainy Boy and buddy home since they were harassing fans for their empty soda cans (all for a good cause - a church fundraiser, Cans for Christ). Little Chic and I toughed it out to the very end when she gleefully called her dad to announce the final score of 21 to 7 in favor of her beloved Tigers. We celebrated with a doughnut and hot chocolate from Dunkin Donuts and we even gave a couple dollars to a homeless guy who looked like he was needing something warm to drink on this chilly night.

Unfortunately, just as the weather is getting uncomfortably cold on these northern nights, Little Chic has decided she is a committed, die-hard high school football fan. She already has plans on how to paint her face in the traditional orange and black for next Saturday night's game. I'm planning on fixing a quarter for the toss-up with Hero Guy to see who loses and gets to take her.

Thursday, October 19

Love Language

I'm an English buff. In school, it was always my BEST, most favorite subject. I was one of the weirdos that loved diagraming sentences and I could always spell words that I didn't even know the definition for. As I've gotten older I've mellowed a bit, so rather than be a stickler for all things proper, I've joined the crowd in the casual grammar department. However I try not to sound like a total imbecile so I make a modest attempt to keep things the way they should be in regard to my language. When my dad sent me the following email, I thought it was a hoot. The sad part is, I have to work overtime to make sure my kids graduate knowing how to interpret this type of thing...

You Think English is Easy??? Can you read these correctly the first time?
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present .
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row .
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting, I shed a tear.
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it: English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. Why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese; so one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? . . . ship by truck and send cargo by ship? . . . have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.
English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. PS. - Why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "quick"
You lovers of the English language might enjoy this. There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is "UP." It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends, brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers, and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special. And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost ¼ of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP. When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP. We could go on, but I'll wrap it UP for now. My time is UP, so... time to shut UP.!

Tuesday, October 17

Anything for a Buck

I've always liked doing research, finding things out, digging around for information - stuff like that. I remember about 15 years ago while working at a medical insurance company, I was intrigued to learn that the medical director had been part of a medical research study for Johns Hopkins for 10 or 15 years. I didn't know people actually signed up to be experimented on. Fast forward to yesterday when I got an email from PTA mom-friend stating that local doctor's office is doing research on a new supplier for the flu shot and you could actually make money if you volunteered and were selected to participate. I called. I qualified. I get it next week. It involves three office visits with a physical and blood work each time, some temperature logging and side-effect reporting along with a phone call or two. The final appointment will be at the end of flu season. You get paid each time you have an office visit. Cool.

This is actually not the first study I've been in. Brainy Boy and I just finished a six-month study run by the Psychology Department at the local university looking at how a mother's mood affects the mood of the child. That paid too.

For me the money was a perk, not really the incentive--I think it's interesting to participate and I get a shot that I might have gotten anyway. But I wonder if people actually do this for a living? I know I've heard of people selling their blood by the pint, but I've generally heard of that in connection with supporting unscrupulous habits. I'm not supporting any habit (even a shopping habit)--I'm just gonna help pay for that deer mount that will be delivered in the spring.