Tuesday, February 28

A New Day Has Dawned

Brainy Boy walked in from school yesterday and announced "Mom, we saw the adolescent development movie in school today". I'm not sure how he knew it was called this, since I'm sure that is not the title they used at school. However, this is an event that I have been awaiting since a month ago when I got several permission slips asking whether I would allow Brainy Boy to see the "growing up movie" in school. I had taken the opportunity to remind him of a few facts-of-life discussions we'd had and told him that he would eventually see a movie about his body growing and changing. He was horrified to think that a stranger would be openly discussing his private body parts, but it seemed like it never happened. But yesterday apparently was the day.

I tried to pry some details out of him, but all he would say was that it was "disturbing". That's BBoy-speak for "personal, embarassing, private". Brainy Boy is quite the scientist, and after he knows the information, he prefers not to discuss it if it is of a personal nature. Somehow repeating it makes it much worse. Double that with being in the room with 50 other 4th grade boys and talking about your body with a strange male gym teacher from the middle school--it makes it all a little weird. At bedtime, though, I asked him if he had learned anything he didn't know before, and he imparted a few tidbits about growing hair and body parts getting larger.

And then this jewel as we said goodnight....
Him: "Hey, Mom".
Me: "Huh?"
Him: "You know how when somebody wakes up and their bed is wet and you think they've peed the bed?"
Me: "Yeah???"
Him: "That's not pee. That's a wet dream. It's made out of sperm or something."
Me: "Really? Good to know."

Ya'll just wait. It's coming to a boy of yours next.

Monday, February 27

The Heat is On

It was a pitiful sight around our breakfast bar at 7am this morning. The two Olsen kids looked like a sorry little lot as they dragged out of bed after having all last week off for winter break. Our late nights and equally late mornings didn't take very long to brainwash their body clocks. We did attempt to get back on schedule over the weekend with normal bedtimes and regular wake-up times, but it appears that bad habits are a lot easier to set in stone than to break. At one point, during cereal pouring, I had two light-brown heads on the counter top with eyes tightly shut. I would have run to get my camera, but my laughing woke the two of them back up. I am sure that Eric dozed off when he was saying the blessing for his breakfast, poor kid.

By the time they were dressed and ready to get in the car, they each seemed a little more chipper. I am sure by the time they greeted each of their friends, their bodies were much more alert and with it. The heat is on as state testing for math gets underway. The only heat around here is the pressure of getting back to a regular schedule. I had to start my van 1/2 hour before we left because the temperature was 1 (yes, that is in degrees) when I went out!

Saturday, February 25

Man of the Hour

One of the most outstanding characteristics of the guy I call "mine" is the fact that the is absolutely crazy about his family. His worst day is when he finds out he has to travel somewhere overnight and be away from home. He has gone to great lengths at times to drive all hours of the day or night just to avoid spending the night away from us. One of my goals has been to entice him to enter Survivor (which he would absolutely be able to win) or go on the Amazing Race with me. But he absolutely refuses because of the time away from the kids.

So it was with great reluctance that he saw us off on Monday as we left for DC. But it was with glee that he welcomed us back and complained about how lonely it had been at home by himself. On Friday morning, when I awoke at 9:30, it was to the sound of John and Caroline toiling away in the kitchen making "Dad's famous omlet" and cinnamon french toast. Caroline loves to cook and she really enjoyed the change from helping me out. Midway through breakfast, he decided that instead of taking a half-day off work, he would hang out all day with us and just enjoy being together. John and Eric spent the afternoon getting an X-box set up in Eric's bedroom, a big bonus for all of us since the video games won't be tying up our main TV anymore.

Then this morning, while I was at archery with Eric, John stayed home with Caroline and helped her get ready for a "glamour" birthday party of a friend. He did her hair in a fancy braid and helped her put on her make-up. Since I am usually the one to work on this stuff with her, it was a special treat to have the extra attention from Dad.

He is quite the guy.

Friday, February 24

Plans, Interrupted

Our plans for the trip to Washington DC included departing Monday at noon, arriving in DC at dinner, and coming back at noon on Thursday, arriving home by dinner. Everything went pretty much as scheduled. Although we arrived in DC a little after dinnertime on Monday, we made up for it by staying up until midnight, everyone included (even the kiddos). They had a grand old time with their cousins Chandler (almost 6) and Gabrielle (soon to be 4) and Cameron (almost 1). We took the opportunity while there, to celebrate the birthdays of the cousins which will be coming up in March. We also took a few hours to spend downtown seeing the Air & Space museum and the Natural History museum. The highlight was definitely the Metro rides, though.

Caroline had the best situation as she is 8 and loved playing with either Chandler or Gabrielle. At times, Eric felt he was a little mature to play with a 3-year-old female. So Caroline made the best of it and toggled between whichever cousin offered the most entertainment at the moment. Thus, on Wednesday afternoon, Caroline informed me that leaving on Thursday would not accommodate the extensive agenda she and Chandler had prepared for the rest of their visit. She said that their agenda included activities that would last until bedtime on Thursday night, so we would just have to postpone our return home until Friday. Their activity plan, written in scrawled handwriting on notebook paper, looked like this (the notes are mine):

1) Breckfast, 5-10 min.
2) Dresed and more, 20 min - 30 min.
3) Scoters, 30 min. (scooters)
4) Outside, 2 hours
5) Dr., 30 min. (Chandler has an impressive doctor kit)
6) Uno, 20 min. (the cousins' new favorite game)
7) Snack, 5-10 min.
8) TV, 5-10 min.
9) Dr., 3 min. (possibly meaning 30?--3 minutes would be a quick surgery)
10) Uno, 20 min.
11) Snack, 5-10 min.
12) Jale, 1-5 min. (I'm assuming jail)
13) TV, 30 min.
14) Rest, 30 min. (whew, all this playing is exhausting)
15) Dinner, 60 min.
16) Free time, till bed

This girl is really after my heart. We love lists, schedules and agendas. I had to suggest that the activities be condensed into a few shorter hours, because the train was leaving at noon on Thursday, regardless of how much was crossed off the to-do list. We pulled out at 11:45 and stopped at Starbucks for good measure and we were on our way. We pulled in safe & sound Thursday just before dark. Great trip. Great to be back home.

Wednesday, February 22

Status Check

We're in Washington DC, a city I have adored since my earliest memories as a 2-year-old since that was where Grandma and "Sissie" (my mom's sister) lived. I am so excited to see that my kids are growing up to love it as well. We made the trip in barely over 5 hours from upstate NY and I navigated and arrived with no need of help from John! I will admit to one small detour as I went through the wrong toll gate and had to drive about 2 miles out of the way to a turn-around, but other than that, all was smooth. The highlight of the trip down was a quick stop into a McDonald's playland for a little leg-stretching. Even 9 year olds like an unfamiliar tunnel maze. It is always bittersweet though, because even a 20-minute stop can cement spur-of-the-moment friendships and my kids always lament that they will probably never see their "friend" again.

Yesterday (Tuesday) we spent about 5 hours downtown in the Air & Space museum and a quick stop to peek at the huge dinosaurs at the Natural History museum. I have to say, that the Metro, with it's ticket booths and automatic doors and choice of seats was the highlight of the jaunt.

Today is a day inside as we have a ground-covering of snow and the cousins fancy building a snowman. I venture a wager that it will be a miniscule guy, but we'll hope for a three-tier nonetheless since snow is a rarity in NC for the little cousins.

We'll head home tomorrow, so we'll check back in then!

Monday, February 20

To Sissie's House we go!

I am headed with the kids to DC for a few days to meet my brother, sis-in-law and kids at my aunt's house. All her neices and nephews call her "Sissie". All her friends call her "Bunni". Long story short, her given name is Harriet Louise. Go figure the nicknames. BUT, she is everybody's favorite aunt, loves to have us come visit, and we always have a grand ole time, and even the great-neices and nephews are thrilled about going.

It feels a little weird packing this morning, because John is at work, not going with us. In my usual Type A style, the bags were all packed last night sitting in the appropriate rooms, just waiting for the morning toothbrushes and combs to be added before they get zipped up. The car is ready, clean and waiting to be filled. Pretty much the only thing not in the van at this point is our butts and the keys. The reason it feels strange is because when John goes with us, he always waits until we are ready to walk out the door to pack "because it only takes him five minutes." Then for the next two hours, he incites panic as we all four run around like chickens with our heads cut off looking for the various and sundry items he absolutely must bring with us. But once we get in the car, he is definitely the life of the party.

Hopefully the kids won't mind me driving though. I am always game for a few extra stops for Starbucks--I won't demand the marathon bladder-hold as John does. Besides, he settles for gas-station java and they don't sell "kid-coffee".

PS--We'll see how desperate I get to blog and what the technology available is at "Sissie's". If I have to wait, I'll see you Thursday night!

Sunday, February 19

John, the gourmet chef

Our typical Sunday morning involves us scurrying out the door at 9:30 with John heading to teach the 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday School class with another teacher, our kids going to their class and me to mine. This morning was different since John was out of town for the weekend and arrived home late, so he arranged for the other teacher to handle class alone. I left him sleeping in bed where he remained until 11:30 this morning.

When we arrived home at 12:30, I vocalized my confidence in him saying that I was sure he would have some superb lunch ready for us since he had been home alone all morning. He assured me this was true--our gourmet selections were 1) Cereal brushed with a delicate glaze of sugar topped with creamy, ice-cold milk or 2) Leftover corkscrew pasta with alfredo sauce that I made on Thursday or 3) Leftover General Tso's chicken take-out that Eric and I shared Friday night. John seemed quite pleased with his skills at offering us choice of delicious, nutritious meals after our hectic morning!

On his behalf, he did have a load of laundry going, and he pledged to help tidy up the house and maybe even vaccum this afternoon so the house is in good order when I take the kids to DC for three days this week (they have winter break all this week). However, I am curious to see how this is going to fit in between the cool episode of Dallas SWAT that is on right now and the Indy 500 that will be starting soon and the wrestling matches that are occuring with the kids during every commercial.

Saturday, February 18

Message In a Muffle

O my--I have undergone blogging withdrawal. We went without any cable service (including phone, tv and internet) for eight hours today because of super-high winds and cable lines being downed. But service is restored and all is right with the world again!

Eric's sick day on Thursday was quite a success for both of us. For him, he sounded sick enough with that barky, croup cough that dad said he really needed to stay home and rest (mom was very skeptical). His day was a thrill of watching tv, eating sugar cereal and playing out in the fresh air since the croup really only shows up at night. It was a success for me too since I could be a little smug about seeing that he would have been well enough to go to school. So Friday morning came, and although he protested going to school again, I sent him and told him to call if he didn't feel well (mean mom that I am).

I was quite startled when my exercise class ended and I had a muffled message from Eric that sounded like "Mom, I can't go to DI today (after school program) because I am very sick". I immediately shot over to the school to pick him up and take him home. I felt terrible, because Eric is not a complainer and will generally just put up with any discomfort until he gets home.

When I got to school, neither the nurse nor the secretary had any clue that Eric was sick and they informed me he had already left for his six-hour field trip. I asked them to hunt down the teacher's cell phone number, as the one accompanying my message was a school number-- and the call had been made before they left for the field trip. After paging the principal, hunting down a teacher's cell phone number, leaving her a message to call the school if Eric needed to be picked up, I headed home. All the teachers' cell phones were turned off since the field trip was to a concert.

As I started for home, I decided to listen to the message one more time. The second time through I heard, "Mom, there is no DI today because Mr. Carey (teacher) is sick". It was a little embarrassing to call the school back and cancel the emergency bulletin. Needless to say, I picked Eric up after DI (Destination Imagination) and he was his usual, chipper self.

Friday, February 17

Grizzly Adams, Looking for Sturdy She-Woman

John has decided he no longer wants to live in our contemporary log home, set on a lovely five-acre plot surrounding by a country setting. I don't think it is so much the pine needles, tree bark and fresh air that he yearns to envelope him, but it's the wildlife. He has consistently sneaked into my contemporary decor, every species of animal that can be killed with a bow & arrow. We have multiple deer, pheasant, full flying turkey, and his two most recent vicitms, the bear (which replaced the turkey, which replaced my large grapevine wreath) and the coyote which arrived this morning (which replaced my candlescape and family pictures). These are just a few of the prouder displays. Regular curtains, wall hangings and art work just don't compare to the ruggedness of what you can kill, drag inside and slap up on your wall. And it's just not that impressive to brag about going over to Pier One Imports, hauling that big 40X60 oceanscape picture to the van and mounting it in its place. It gets a lot more ooohs and aaaahs to show your manly buddies what you chased down and "caught" with your own bare hands.

Instead of living in our comfortable abode, John has opted to move out to the forest. He doesn't realize this yet, but the decision has been made by default when he pushed the limits of bringing the outside in with this morning's addition to my fireplace mantle. I would put my foot down and relegate all these creatures somewhere else, but having a marble-eyed, dusty deer-head peering at my while I sleep gets a little creepy. Plus it doesn't go with my hydrangea flower theme. I would banish them to the unfinished basement, but dang, those things are expensive to get stuffed, and the whining and moaning I would endure as they got dirty would get a little annoying.

So John is in the market for a big-mama, hunter-woman who can cook a deer loin over a spit-grill and can pop open a can of pork-n-beans with her bare hands. I'd be happy to pack up his meals for him each day, but the hike to the place where all these animals hang out together takes too long to get to--the food would be cold by then. The candidate doesn't have to worry about laundry or anything else. I'll do all that...he can just pick it up when he stops in to visit the place he has decided is too civil for his taste.

We're really going to miss him, and we'll think of him each night while we snuggle in our cozy comforters, look at our pretty Pier One pictures and eat our warm steak (yeah, from the deer that he shot).

Thursday, February 16

Bark: What My Son, Eric, Does Like a Seal

The past two nights have been eventful. Tuesday night brought Caroline into our bed with a bad dream. She didn't keep to my cardinal rule of crawling between John and I. Of course, she came to my side of the bed, shoving me into the middle, a position I detest. A king-size bed is absolutely not king-sized when one of the occupants is an 8-year-old octopus. I did fairly well stumbling through the day on Wednesday, however, even with the interrupted REM sleep I got.

Last night was a repeat, but it was Eric this time, barking like a seal. He practiced the same technique as Caroline, taking my side of the bed, my favorite pillow and the comfiest spot on the mattress, leaving me again, squished in the middle to be pummeled and prodded with no escape. Not only that, he continued to bark, wheeze and develop a croupy cough. Being the devoted mother that I am, always thinking of my childrens' best interest, I reverted to the emergency expert and instructed John to go find some medicine for Eric. Since he has more diverse experience with this sort of condition than I do, he couldn't argue. John stumbled out to the medic car at 2am and found the albuterol inhaler treatment used for asthma, croup and other breathing issues. He gave Eric a treatment which did calm the cough a bit, the the night was still full of tossing, turning, barking and waking.

The good thing is that I am a stay-at-home mom. The bad thing is that I had three appointments that I had made for during the daytime since I am a stay-at-home mom. So instead of me stopping by the dentist, hurrying off to the MOMS group and running to a Children's Council meeting, I'll be hauling Eric to the doctor to make sure nothing serious is going on.

A couple of bonuses with my altered schedule--I get to watch Dr. Phil at 9am (which never happens), I let Caroline sleep in and go to school late (which also never happens) and I'll be stuck at home pretty much all day (which really never happens) because I'm a stay-at-home mom.

Wednesday, February 15

Coyotes running in Gaggles, Flocks and Packs

We woke with a start to our dog, Max, yipping, barking and having a fit at 3am. I thought perhaps someone had wrecked their car in our front yard, which happens regularly in the winter since we live on a curve. After peering out the front balcony and finding all clear, we realized that we heard yipping, yapping and howling answering our dog. We tried to shush Max several times, but she was raising the roof and we feared she would raise our kids as well. Since John always has his binoculars on the windowsill at the ready, he took a gander out the back window and sure enough, on the hill he found a couple coyote howling in the back yard. We had no recourse but to let the dog outside and hope that the group would be chased off by the sound of our Jack Russell since her stature isn't exactly a threat to the German-shepherd size of a wild one. The dog returned a few minutes later, wagging her tail and grinning her doggy smile claiming victory at accomplishing her mission of keeping our little kingdom safe.

This isn't really a strange occurrence in our neck of the woods. We live in the semi-country on five acres of wooded land. The country part is the farm land, spaced out neighbors and woods all around. The "semi" part is that town is four miles down the road so you can be to school, the grocery store or gas station in five minutes. However, the deer, coyote, rabbits, woodchucks and other vermin feel totally at home in our yard and regularly feast on our grass, bushes or landscaping. We generally have herds of deer in the fall who love our apple trees, holes in on the back hill where the gophers, woodchucks, rabbits live and anything else that occasionally wanders through. This includes the two rabid raccoons that have visited our porch in the last 10 years and the bear that John is diligently keeping his sights on (it has come as far as our neighbor's yard).

So come visit us, and while the rest of the world is snoozing to the sound of traffic, crickets in the background or the ocean waves splashing, you can enjoy the chorus of yip-yapping that sounds much more like a litter of puppies playing than a hungry prowler looking for dinner.

PS--John would love to be able to say that the pic above is "one of the ones" but truth be told, it wandered within sight during deer season.

Tuesday, February 14

Love Day

As a 17 year-old, I met John in my senior year of high school. At that time, he was a big-deal college senior, five years older than me. I know it is unbelievable since I practically look like a highschooler even now, but we have shared 19 consecutive Valentines since 1987. As a tribute my great score in life, here are 19 reasons why I love him and why we'll have 19 more Valentines together, and then 19 more after that:

1) He gets excited every time he gets another blue fire department T-shirt (100 and counting...)
2) He saves peoples' lives as a hobby.
3) He plows our neighbors' driveways whenever it snows, even though they could do it themselves.
4) He's the perfect mix of high-tech engineer brainiac and country-lovin' hunter-guy.
5) He thinks he can fix anything, and when he tries, it always works.
6) He is always in a good mood and is the friendliest person I know.
7) The 40 year-old men think he's nuts, the 20 year-old guys think he's "rad" and the old ladies adore him.
8) He's the kind of dad every kid wishes they had.
9) He laughs louder than our kids do when he watches cartoons with them.
10) He gets more injuries doing crazy stuff than our kids do.
11) He won't admit he feels his age until he's gotten hurt doing crazy stuff.
12) He tells me it's been too long since I went out and had a night to myself, even if I've just had one.
13) He says I look better than I ever have, even on days when I'm fatter than I've ever been.
14) He makes my coffee for me in the mornings.
15) He doesn't mind saying he's sorry first.
16) He sincerely believes he got the better end of the bargain when he married me.
17) He buys me everything on my Christmas list and then surprises me with something extra.
18) He gives up things he loves, like real wood fireplaces, for things I love, like gas fireplaces.
19) He is 100%, without question, the real deal.

Monday, February 13

Who are all these kids, and why are they following me?

This was the question I asked myself as I drove away from church Sunday morning with a van full of four little girls. When I arrived at church, I had a 9-year-old boy and an 8-year old girl, both mine. Somehow I got suckered in to being the nice mommy and letting my daughter invite three girls home for the afternoon. The exchange was that I sent my son home to another friend's house. I realized quickly that my Berkshire friend, who took my son and hers got the better end of the bargain!

The afternoon was spent watching all the giggling, dancing, gymnastics, changing clothes and other previews from tween-dom that will be coming before long. John earned Brownie points by freezing his butt off taking them each for a spin on the ATV in the 20-degree weather. The girls didn't come in afterward either. They spent about an hour jumping on our trampoline in full winter regalia-snowpants, boots, hats, mittens and coats.

I unloaded 2 of the girls around 4pm and took mine and another one back to church for the kids Praise & Talent night. Caroline was able to wow the audience with her rendition of "Amazing Grace" set to country-style music. She might be heading to Nashville rather than Hollywood if she sticks to her current life's goal.

Today, I'm putting the finishing touches on my Valentine's plans and I even picked up 2 heart-shaped boxes of chocolates for the kids. They just don't buy the story that Valentine's is only for sweethearts. They think they've gotten ripped off if there isn't some little token on the breakfast counter when they wake up. They won't be disappointed though--even Grammy left them each a little treat for the day.

Saturday, February 11

Wives gone Wild

Last night was my monthly dinner out with my kickboxing group. John took the kids to Gander Mountain while we were gone, and the kids were sad to report that the little army of camaflouged squirrels has been removed. However, they were thrilled to report that John took them to their favorite store in the world (Barnes & Noble) and they each bought an intelligence-enhancer called "Calvin & Hobbes" comic book. My kids knew about Barnes & Noble before they ever knew about Toys R Us due to my dad's genetic code of book obsession that was passed on to me.

We girls chose a local Thai restaurant that had superb food. We each got a dish and then passed it around to share. It was an enlightening experience as I didn't know what anything was but everything we sampled was great. The after-dinner shopping was the same way. We all challenged one another to outlandish schemes of making this Valentines memorable for our spouses. We'll see how that goes after Tuesday is over. Dessert was at a little Italian coffee shop where we finalized our individual plans for this coming week and tried to outdo one another in being the most romantic Valentine.

To everyone with a Valentine this year--you've still got a little time to plan how to tell the one you love all year 'round how much they mean to you on the designated day.

Friday, February 10

Brainwashed Juniors

It is a sad state of affairs when I crawl out of bed, squint at the alarm clock and groggily calculate how many hours left until bedtime tonight. It's even worse when I try to estimate whether or not I'll have time to squeeze in a nap before the kids come home from school. But exciting plans are scheduled for today, so the events go on.

The most notable thing happening today is that John is keeping the kids busy while I have dinner with my kickboxing posse'. John is taking the kids to his favorite store, Gander Mountain. He says he is doing some advance planning for our 2 camping trips this summer. I say that he just needs a fix of roaming between the manly aisles, taking in all the bows, arrows, bullets and all the other junk that makes him a "mad hunter". The real thrill is going around looking at the little displays of dead, stuffed quirrels, decked out in little GI Joe clothes, holding their plastic toy rifles. They even have a few plaques with the rear end of a woodchuck or some other animal, the part where the hair cowlicks into little circle patterns. They make a face out of the woodchuck hiney by pretending that the butt circles are cheeks. They glue on eyes and presto--a fuzzy face to adorn your house. Who would buy that crap? My kids beg me for it--but I'm firm....they use their allowance and ONLY in the basement along with the other trophies our warrior prince, provider of wild meat has brought home. Like the deer heads and the pheasant, and the coyotes and the bear, and the turkey, and the .... well, suffice it to say that the list goes on.

The best thing about Gander Mountain is the sheer size of it. It is like a huge camping, hunting, outdoors warehouse complete with concrete floors and lots of places to hide. My kids will gladly spend the entire evening hiding between shelves and aisles, pretending to blast their dad while he wanders, wildly making notes on all the stuff we'll return to buy between now and June. At closing time, they'll protest that they want to stay just a few minutes longer, as they haven't quite anihilated the enemy. He'll drag them out of the store with red faces and sweaty bodies, because everybody knows that little stuffed army squirrels don't pull their weight in the ranks--they are only the lookouts. The hard work gets left for the real soldiers. It's exhausting, which is why they're sweating.

O, and the picture of Eric grimacing with the dead deer is because he is trying not to vomit. He detests everything about hunting. Especially the dead animals.

Thursday, February 9

Belated Birthdays are the Best

I have a couple of friends that I talk to on the phone pretty much every day. One of them is my jewelry store friend, Jill. Sometimes we do miss talking for a day or two, and then when we catch up we have talked for an hour. Or two. The weird thing is, we don't actually see one another that often. Generally, we'll run into each other at church once a week. But if one of our kids is sick, or if somebody is traveling or has a scheduling conflict, we often go quite a while without actually laying eyes on each other.

BUT, we faithfully exchange birthday gifts. Mine is April 29; hers is June 10. The problem is, we insist on exchanging the gifts in style. No meeting up and handing off. No dropping by the house to present the gift. It has to be done over brunch, lunch, a shopping day, or something equally deserving of the friendship we share. As a result, the gifts are exchanged long after the actual event has passed. We do purchase the gifts well before the arrival date of the birthday, but he hold on to them. Indefinitely. And look forward to exchanging. And talk about it. A lot. We plan. We look at the calendar. But we never pick a date to exchange. I finally got my gift from her in November. So as not to put her to shame, I offered to wait a while until sufficient time had passed to give the gift I had for her. So she's getting it today. Over lunch. Which we planned on Monday.

I'm considering this. I think I'll tell her that I decided to skip last year's birthday gift, and this one is just extra early, a whole four months before her next birthday. Nah--it gives us something to look forward to. And I haven't even told you about how we do Christmas.

Wednesday, February 8

Fashion Tips: Black is the new Pink

Anyone familiar with little girls knows well that pink and purple are the colors of choice whenever selecting anything--this extends from choosing which crayon to color with all the way to which new jacket to buy. There does come a time, however, when pink and purple are too "babyish" for the discriminating taste of a maturing eight-year-old and the attempt to grow up causes them to hate all the pastel-colored items they used to insist on having.

Shown above is my most recent load of laundry of Caroline's clothes. The reason they were all in the same load is 1) They are all black and 2) It is what she has worn in the past week. There are other items of black clothing that she owns, but those are in the next load of darks! I have only bought a couple of the items seen here --the others are inherited from other girls who have outgrown them and the kicker is that in this pile of 9 clothing items, there are 3 identical pair of black pants: same brand, same style, same size.

I used to tell her that "black and black don't match" (you know how many shades of black there can be). But that only served to convince her that those particular items of clothing also didn't match with anything else. So now, black and black look great together, says my Fashion for Dummies book.

So if you see my kid walking around school looking like she's mourning the death of her favorite stuffed cat, don't feel bad for her. She's bubbling with joy that I let her wear what she wanted to school that day, she feels great about herself because she thinks she looks like a teenager and she gets to wear her favorite pants 2 more days in a row. And don't feel sorry for me either--stains don't show up on black clothes.

Tuesday, February 7

Ancient Thinks

Hmmmm, weird--sometimes I'm not here! If you can't find my daily post, look in the "Ancient Thinks" archives for the appropriate month and the most current one will be on top!

What's Gray and White and Blurry All Over?

That blurry streak would be Bobcat slinking into the 6-inch hole in the dropped ceiling at the vet's office yesterday where she prowled around for the next 6 hours.

The story goes like this. This morning started with Caroline telling me what a tough time I was going to have getting Bobcat into her crate (pictured above). Caroline knew this because she had been "practicing" with the cat to perfect the technique of entering the crate for the trip to the vet. By the time we were really ready to go, I had to bend Bobcat into a "U" shape and put her in spine first.

We arrived at the vet around 9:30 am to get the overdue rabies shot but we ended up having quite a wait. As we waited, several bouncy puppies sniffed and peered at Bobcat in her crate. She seemed to take it all in stride and appeared fairly calm when we finally entered the exam room. She slowly came out of her crate and proceeded to sniff and explore around the exam room as we waited some more. Apparently she is an internalizer and must have been more anxiety-ridden than I realized at the time.

After about 10 minutes of waiting in the exam room, Bobcat saw that the cabinets over the counter had a space above them. She made the leap to the top of cabinet as I grabbed for her back legs. I lost my grip and she took that opportunity to slink into the 6-inch hole where the computer cords go up into the ceiling. I could hear the pitter-patter of little claws as she roamed around on the dropped ceiling tiles.

It was a bit embarrassing to poke my head out of the exam room and say that I had lost my cat in their exam room ceiling. The assistants at the office proceeded to disassemble the dropped ceiling above the exam room and out into the lobby when we were finally able to locate Bobcat. She was crouched above the bathroom about 12 feet beyond where the dropped ceiling ended. We all hoped she would venture out at lunchtime when the office closed for an hour and became quiet, but nothing doing. She wouldn't come for treats, food or anything else. I eventually left the vet's to run some errands, with cell phone at the ready. About 4pm, I got the call that Bobcat had been captured. They ended up tearing off part of their wall in the bathroom to reach her.

You would think that I would get some sort of discount for all the mental anguish I experienced, but apparently they were determined to recoup their income from time and effort lost. They dispensed every shot, lab test, de-worming and year's worth of medicine that is usually optional. My bill was $85.35 and I came home with a cat that emerged from her crate completely unperturbed from the events of the day.

Monday, February 6


After the flurry of the weekend, I didn't even mention two other notable events that occurred:
1) We discovered on Friday afternoon that Bobcat is overdue for her rabies shot. The significance of this is the rabies occurrence of last week. (See Rabid Family).
2) I rechipped m front tooth that had a run-in with the trunk of my van about six months ago.

So, as of this morning, I would not be whining to my mother about being bored if she were here. It will be off to wrestle a very indignant cat into a carrier for a trip to a vet. Unfortunately, she does not love this experience as much as Max, who practically pees with excitement at the prospect of visiting her doctor. Second, I will be dashing to the grocery store to refill Mother Hubbard's cupboard. After the business of the weekend, we made no pit stops for emergency supplies and we are what my jewelry store friend, Jill, calls "food poor". Then, I'll be calling the dentist to squeeze me in for a fix. I am a bit anxious about this prospect because I anticipate rather than him patching the chip like he did last time, he will opt for a more permanent repair such as filing the chip and smoothing the edges of the other teeth to match. I envision rather than having appropriately sized front teeth, that I will end up with little shoepeg corn-kernal shaped appendages hiding behind my top lip.

So, the next time you see me, DO NOT mention how good my teeth look--I'll think it is so obvious that they look different that you had to say something to cover your surprise. DO NOT forget to mention how good my teeth look--I'll think that you are pretending not to notice how short & tiny my filed, smooth-edged teeth look. Quite the dilemma, huh?

Sunday, February 5

Addicted to adrenaline

After the flurry of activity of this weekend, it is sort of a weird feeling to have things back to normal; it's the sort of sensation you get when you are mulling around with a million things to do, but nothing pressing, so you feel like there is nothing to do. After the late night my mom and I had Friday night, we dragged ourselves down to my friend's jewelry store so as not to waste the $20 coupon we plucked out of the mailbox as we left the driveway. When we returned home we flopped on the couches in the living room while we considered what to do for dinner. Since everybody was pooped, we ordered Pizza Hut in and went to bed early.

Since my mom's flight returned home today, we left the house for the Syracuse airport around 10am. We had an uneventful trip up, but we were puzzled when the gate attendant could not find my mom's reservation. You can imagine our delight when we realized that my mom was actually staying until NEXT Sunday, February 12! After an additional $100 to change the reservation to February 5 (after all, we didn't want to spend another $20 in gas to bring her back next week), she was off and the kids and I stopped at the Carousel Mall in Syracuse for lunch in the food court and a spin on the huge carousel they have in the mall. Now that we've arrived home, running around grabbing the chips and salsa just isn't keeping my blood pressure up enough to seem like I'm doing anything.

Activities I didn't mention for the weekend:
1) Eric had his first successful sleepover since a long time ago. His friend, Isaac, who turned 10 over the weekend, was able to coach Eric through a night away from home. It was a close call, but morning came without a midnight run to pick him up.
2) John was inconvenienced with 2 large structure fires (i.e., houses burning down) on Friday night. This caused him to keep Caroline at the fire station with 2 old ladies, she watching TV and him trying his best to get in front of the TV station cameras as he waltzed into the fire with a huge hose. The one particular fire kept reigniting (darn-it-all) and he left the house several times with a huge grin on his face as he raced back out to demonstrate his bravery. The first time they got home Friday night was a mere 1 hour before my mom and I arrived from touring upstate NY.
3) John was a "rescuer and a victim" in an ice water rescue exercise with several fire departments this weekend. After getting little sleep because of the 2 fires and a myriad of squad calls on Saturday, he was up and at 'em Sunday to hop in the water in a dry suit and pretend to drown while his cohorts pretended to save him in the icy waters. Then they switched roles.

Now that the thrills have died down, if my mom were here, I'd be saying "Mom, I'm bored. I have absolutely nothing to do."

Saturday, February 4

Eeny, meeny, miney, moe, which-way-do-you-want-to-go?

I pride myself on being self-sufficient, levelheaded and generally able to take care of business. So it was with a little bit of smugness that my mom and I arrived in Purchase, NY to attend a concert a full half-hour before we expected to arrive. We found the SUNY campus and located a flower shop and navigated expertly to Alyssa's apartment to meet up with our party all with no help. I temporarily relinquished the keys to Ken, Alyssa's brother, who got us to dinner and the concert with "minus 1 minute" to spare. We stepped into the conert hall as Alyssa hit the first note of her first song.

After a short reception following the concert, it was with heightened confidence that I took the wheel and began a desperate search for a Starbucks. With no gourmet coffee in sight, we pulled into a strip mall and changed out of our concert clothes in the none-too-immaculate bathroom of a Dunkin Donuts. After getting our fix of medium joe-xtra cream-no sugar, we hoofed it next door to the Carvel ice cream place we'd had our eye on when pulling into the parking lot. The nice Indian gentleman was just locking the door as we sprinted to place our order. He didn't cave to our advances and we had to go without.

We hopped on the highway and within the first 15 minutes, I saw a rest stop that had none other than a Starbucks. I carreened off the side of the road only to find out that there was yet another Dunkin Donuts and a Starbucks that was already closed for the night. My mediocre java had to do, and I just chugged it down.

After driving unventfully for approximately 2 hours (the trip takes a little over 3), I realized that we had come dangerously close to Albany, NY. As the sign to Albany said 38 miles, I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach realizing that we had missed our turnoff to Route 17 about 1:45 ago. Apparently in my quest for a Starbucks, I had gotten a little distracted at the point of the very clearly marked turnoff-- and missed it.

My survivor instinct came to the rescue and I pulled out the handy-dandy Atlas I always laugh about John putting in my van. I found that we were way too far to turn back and continuing on to Albany would add another 2 hours to our trip for sure. Instead, we opted for the back road "short cut" that my dad and husband would be so proud of. We took Route 23 (which I can testify takes you through every dinky, no stoplight town in NY) all the way over to Oneonta and then back south to Binghamton.

Rather than hitting the sheets at 12:30 like we anticipated, it was more like 2am! To help the recovery process from the little mishap, we hit Van Horn Jewelers Saturday afternoon to make a few little consolation purchases!

Friday, February 3

Blind Leading the Blind

My mom flew up from NC yesterday for a quick trip down to NYC (actually SUNY Purchase) to see a friend in a vocal concert at the Performing Arts Center. Since we don't know exactly where we're going, we're gonna give ourselves 6 hours to make a 3.5 hour trip. The directions look pretty straightforward, so we should have plenty of time for dinner.

This is Alyssa in the red sweater, the girl we are going to see. She might eventually be my step-sister of sorts, since she is the daugther of the man my mom is dating. Alyssa's dad, Ken (my mom's friend) is in the middle and that's my John beside him. This pic was taken at Thanksgiving, when we all got together to meet for the first time. That's a sliver of me in the orange.

We're heading right back home after the concert and reception, so we should hit the sheets around midnight, and get just enough shut-eye to entertain the kids with my mom tomorrow. On Sunday, my mom flies out of Syracuse around noon, so I'm going to be hitting the gas pump several times this weekend. At $2.57/gallon, I'll need to type all week just to pay for the gas!

Wednesday, February 1

Feng Shui for Black Thumbs

I'm bummed. My chi is dead. According to this ancient eastern philosophy, if you want to be happy, healthy, wealthy, have a good marriage or anything else positive in life then you need to order yourself around the principles of Feng Shui. One of those principals is to include living things in each room of your house (like plants, not people). My problem with this is that I have a black thumb. Not only do I kill all living plants in my house (I've tried ivy, cactus, ficus, even bamboo!) but I forget I even have them.

This poor plant has survived since my in-laws moved to FL 2 or 3 summers ago, but it has been slowly dehydrating for who knows how long. It would be bad enough to kill it, but since I have blinders on when it comes to plants in my house, it sits there dead for weeks and I don't even notice it. I dust around it, I vacuum around it, I even scooch it over sometimes if it is in the way. It took John making a snide comment about me needing to water the plant his mom gave me in order for me to snap this picture before I haul it outside. Who is he kidding? She would have thrown it out if I hadn't begged her for it. It was so alive, healthy and old, and it was even used to living with "Olsens". Wrong gene pool I guess--it knew I wasn't plant royalty. But since he sees it parched and thirsty, does he take it pity upon it himself?!? Huh-uh.

So, I guess I am doomed to live without vibrant chi, to have to compensate in other ways to maintain my health, wealth and happiness (or to get it in the first place). Here's to the next ancient secret to become a fad--and here's hoping that it will embrace plants of the authentic faux variety.