Thursday, August 31

Hoeing Out

I wrote and attempted to post this earlier, but since Blogger wasn't working correctly, it gave me more time to take more action on the subject.

Ever since El Kiddos entered school age, I have experienced a weird phenomenon around the August/September timeframe. I get this irresistible New-Years-Resolution-type urge that I just can't ignore. I get all fitnessey again, determining to get back on my regular schoolyear schedule of working out since I don't have two little scooterheads to bring along (you know, the ones that Razor right in front of me and cause me to stumble over my own feet, as if I need any extra help). I get all nesty, the same way you get when you are 38 weeks pregnant, feeling like I'm gonna scream because I can't stand the clutter and mess that is created by four people who are staying home lots of extra hours during the summertime. And I get all ambitious, the same way you feel when you are planning the work, but before the lull you get when you actually start working the plan.

The fitness impulse is pretty convenient, because it doesn't really affect anybody else's schedule but my own. Hero Guy goes off to work, kids head into school and I can make it to my 9:30 kickboxing class with room to spare. The nesting impulse, on the other hand, affects everybody else. Because it's their stuff that I am losing tolerance for. I have learned over the years to indulge this particular "garbage therapy" on the sly. I've actually begun already, and I sneaked a pickup truck load of castoffs into the bed of Hero Guy's pickup truck and concealed it under the handy tonneau cover he has on the back. He did really well, only salvaging one measly something-or-other and hoarding it back into the garage. It is yet to be seen how he will take the most recent discarding of his prized stereo system (the same one that we bought in our first month of marriage 17 years ago, and the same one that hasn't been plugged in or played since we moved into our current abode 11 years ago). The conversation usually goes like:
Me: "Babe, come look at how great I cleaned up the computer room."
Him: "Wow, where'd all the stuff go."
Me: "It's packed neatly away." (not mentioning that the present storage place is in the back of the truck).
Me: "Hey, next time you've got a few minutes, I need you to drop off some stuff at the recycling center (in other words "dump")
Him: "What are we throwing away?"
Me: "Just some old junk I found laying around. None of it works anymore."
Him: "This is totally good stuff."
Me: "This is stuff you didn't even know you still had. I don't think it even still works."
Him: "You really need to inventory this stuff and take it to the Salvation Army so we can get a tax write-off."
Me: "You inventory it, and I'll be happy to unload it at the Salvation Army."
Him: "Let me check the hours of that-there dump. I'll run the stuff over as soon as I get a chance."

And so it goes, my house gets a little neater, I get a little happier and we actually have some walking room until next summer.

The tough part is getting to the kids' rooms without them noticing. I have learned to wait until the first week of school, when their rooms are good and messy and I've been bugging them to clean them for a week or so. One day they come home from school Mom has done them a huge favor to show them how much I've missed them. I've cleaned those rooms for them. They love when I do that, but it is so irksome to try to find that certain toy that was buried just there, under that pile.....

Tuesday, August 29

Getting Over Ick

I have had some seriously weird stomach bug since Saturday, which is why blogdom has been so dull without me. I've waffled between a severe headache with nausea and okayness, only to have the misery return sporadically. During a somewhat feeling alright period yesterday, Little Chic convinced me that she had been tortured long enough not being able to pack her new backpack with all the supplies she'll need for school because we didn't have them.

I met two buds for a lunch (which turned out to be a mistake in the stomach arena) and then took Little Chic and Brainy Boy to get their school supplies. Little Chic is the type that packs for a trip the moment it's announced, even if the scheduled date is weeks away. She then constantly dips into the suitcase to get all the needed items, like toothbrush and shoes, that she prematurely has packed up. Luckily we won't be needing to access any of the school supplies until a week from tomorrow, so they should be able to remain packed in the safety of the aqua shoulder bag she chose.

Little Chic was in fine organization form, checking things off her list, keeping them well away from Brainy Boy's so that nothing would get mixed up. She mulled over exactly which package of markers and which pencil box would be just right, while Brainy Boy seemed totally bored with it all. Little Chic has a precise description of everything in her backpack, while Brainy Boy was so disengaged with the process that he will be asking me in the next day or two when we will be buying his school supplies.

The kicker is that as I dashed home to make it to the garbage can, I realized I still have a couple of those outstanding items to get. I always hate that. I like to take the list, wipe it out and get it done. Luckily the remaining items will be easy to come by and we'll be doing that soon, because Little Chic will have ants in her pants until every single miniscule item is accounted for.

So with that, I am feeling a bit more on top of things today and maybe tomorrow we can put the remainder of the list to rest.

Sunday, August 27

I Don't Eat Fungus

"I don't eat fungus" was the answer I got when I offered Hero Guy some sauteed mushrooms this afternoon. From an earlier post, you all know that Brainy Boy is enamored with mushrooms at this point in his life. He has a mushroom field guide that he pores over, and a recent trip to Old Country Buffet reminded him that he absolutely loves mushrooms in any form. He has been bugging me to cook him mushrooms, so I grabbed a pack at the grocery store the other day. Now I like a good mushroom myself, but I don't generally have them on hand, and I don't cook them since Hero Guy and Little Chic gag at the thought.

This afternoon when I was fixing lunch after church, Brainy Boy was really irritated that I hadn't included his mushrooms on the menu. I admitted I had totally forgotten we had them. I promised that after we ate lunch and waited a while, I'd cook them with his help. He woke me from a nap about 4:00 stating that he absoultely could not wait any longer and I had promised we'd cook his mushrooms and he was definintely ready. He generally does not have any interest in helping me cook but I didn't even have to coax him today. He rinsed and I chopped and after butter had melted in the pan, he helped me pile them all in. He sampled them at various states of readiness and ate a huge bowl of nothing but sauteed mushrooms when they were ready!

Meanwhile Hero Guy and Little Chic opened every window, turned on every fan and escaped upstairs to get away from what they called the "gross smell". I will admit that the mushrooms did taste pretty good and will also admit that I have a very weird son.

Friday, August 25

Practice Makes Perfect

One of my favorite parts of being a parent is the opportunity to observe personality in the making. Little Chic is at that age where she is becoming just a bit self-conscious, but when she isn't aware of her surroundings she still envelopes that essence of little-girlhood where her true insides are displayed right out in the open. It's such an interesting phenomenon with an eight year old, because rather than being in the true fantasy-land of a preschooler, an older child is gaining an understanding of the real world and you see them try on different aspects of it for size.

Tonight is a case in point. Little Chic has been anxiously awaiting a Cheetah Girls movie (sort of a modern-day musical) to come on the Disney Channel. It has been advertised quite a bit and today there was a countdown clock on Disney that showed how many hours/minutes/seconds until the premiere of this new movie. I had forgotten this detail, but earlier in the week, Little Chic had been feverishly looking for her favorite nightgown--a pink cheetah print with fake fur around the neckline. I had assumed it was in the laundry somewhere and told her she would have to wear it some other night when it was clean.

As 8:00pm drew near tonight (the time of the show), I realized that Little Chic wasn't sitting on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn the way I do when I'm getting ready to watch a much-anticipated movie. She was fully decked out in her cheetah-print nightgown, various scarves and belts draped around her waist and shoulders and she was standing about two feet from the screen singing along, doing motions and rehearsing the dance steps during each commercial. Apparently she had been searching for the nightgown so she could dress with the theme of the movie and pretend to be a musical star along with the characters in the show. I was a little surprised that she would still be interested in "dressing the part" but also aware that she didn't mention it to me because she would have been embarrassed for me to know. She didn't invite me to watch the movie with her as she usually does either, I think because that would have inhibited her participation--she wouldn't have the courage to fully enjoy herself in front of me since she was pretending and that would be "silly". I heard her from the other room giggling, laughing, bouncing up and down as things happened in the movie, and you would have thought she was actually watching the action real-time. With any hint of Hero Guy, Brainy Boy or me coming near the room, the activity abruptly stopped and she would nonchalantly sit, watching intently as if she had been there all evening.

It is so much fun watching my kids go from little people along to medium people and one day on up to big people. I've never been the type of parent to wistfully yearn for the days when they were babies or toddlers or back at some already experienced stage. I've always been excited and looked forward to their next steps because I learn so much about myself and human nature through watching them develop. It does put a huge sense of responsibility on me to be the caretaker of these little people who will be contributing members of society, spouses to somebody else's kids, neighbors in some town, employees at somebody's company. It is staggering to know that the type of parent I am today will directly affect the type of person they turn out to be. Never again in your life do you ever have the opportunity to so greatly influence the making of a person. It's a humbling prospect. I'm glad I'm not doing it alone - in the physical and the spiritual sense.

Thursday, August 24

Read for the Record

Today the kids and I became famous. Well, not us as people, but we participated in a famous event at least. We went to the local baseball stadium to help set a world record. We are attempting to set a record for the most children reading the same book on the same day. The selection was The Little Engine That Could and we turned out with lots of others to hear our Senator, State Assemblywoman and several other local celebrities take turns reading the book aloud to those in the stadium. There is a higher purpose for the event than just setting a record, as the event is sponsored by Jumpstart on behalf of literacy. But honestly, we really went for something fun to do. We got free books, free lunch, free popsicle and to top it off, a caricature drawn by a childhood buddy of Hero Guy's. He goes by Bon Fed and he's quite the accomplished artist so it was a privilege to have a blast from the past captured for my kids. To book us out, Little Chic and I have our monthly book club tonight, the selection which we have not finished. Did I admit that? We were to read The Horse and His Boy and I protested having extra time to read, saying that we had more than time during the summer. The night has come, and we're not finished and I can only hope we're not the only ones in this boat. We're liking the story, though, so even after the spoiler tonight, we'll finish the whole book. Until something more inspiring comes along, that's what's going on in our neck of the woods. That will be tomorrow, when Brainy Boy sees the foot specialist. See you after toe inspection!

Wednesday, August 23

Morning Glory

I've always said I'm a night person, but I guess I should requalify myself as an early bird since my best work always seems to be done after midnight. This is why I was up till 1:45am this morning. This digital scrapbook stuff is driving me crazy trying to figure out little odds & ends so I figured Hero Guy wouldn't be too mad at me if I were at least experimenting on something for him. If you call early, my kids will not be ashamed to tell you that I'm still in bed.

Tuesday, August 22

Discipline is a Dirty Word

Hero Guy and I have been attempting to teach our kids some principals of proper money management. To do this, we have allotted an allowance of sorts to our kids each week. In typical kid-fashion, we have one saver and one spender. Little Chic faithfully saves her money, forgoing lots of cute toys, candy and other trinkets to save until she finds something she totally loves. As a result, her bank is usually well-stocked. Brainy Boy on the other hand, has a hard time not running to the Dollar Store, CVS or the gas station to buy some type of candy, soda, gum or other soon-to-be forgotten treasure of the moment. As luck would have it, the only time he has any significant dollar amount is when I've forgotten to fork over his allowance for a week, and he gets double. Our only requirement is that they have to give 10% of what they earn, and the rest is theirs to spend or save as they see fit.

On our recent trip to the Adirondacks, Brainy Boy found a musket he absolutely was dying to have. We had forced some savings habits upon him before we left and he had a grand total of $17 to spend on vacation. Little Chic had $43. Since Brainy Boy's funds were too short, Little Chic offered to 'lend' him the money to buy the $35 musket since we wouldn't be able to find one around home. Dad intervened and worked a deal with Brainy Boy--all his savings plus some serious weeding of the four flower beds at home would get him the gun. Good attitudes and treating his sister nicely were also part of the deal. He readily agreed, forked over his portion of the money and walked out with the gun. He played with it continuously throughout our camping trip while Hero Guy and Yours Truly reminded him of the payoff to be done at home.

Now I do require my children to pick up after themselves, keep their rooms tidy, put their clothes in the hamper and such, but I do not excel in enforcing lots of chores around the house. Since I'm home while the kids are at school, much of what needs to be done is completed while they are away. Thus, the prospect of spending several hours outside in the buggy warm weather pulling weeds was not a familiar one to Brainy Boy. And since Hero Guy would be at work while the task was being completed, enforcement fell to me. Have I ever mentioned that a particular pet peeve of mine is having to enforce consequences that Hero Guy dishes out?! But, I digress.

So yesterday, after being home from camping for an entire week and having exactly no repayment for the toy yet, Hero Guy declared the day had come to get the weeding completed. Brainy Boy had a leisurely morning, waiting until the last possible moment when I finally shooed him outside to get started on his work. I was prepared for an afternoon of prodding, threatening and locking all the doors leading inside. But to my surprise, the only stalling was to ask just exactly how thorough did we expect him to be? Did he have to pull up absolutely anything that was green? What about the things that had prickers on them? Oh, and would I mind getting him some bug spray?

I was ashamed to admit that I expected less. My little guy spent a total of 4-5 hours outside, nonstop (even skipping dinner on his own) to complete the task, without one complaint and even running inside when he was finished to drag Hero Guy and me out to see what he had accomplished. On his own, he finished the job by doing a bonus flower bed that we didn't require, saying that he'd really gotten his technique down, and he could have it done in a flash.

Our purpose in giving him the job was to make him sorry that he'd asked to borrow money in the first place. I'm hoping that we did accomplish that. But the bonus was that he went to bed thoroughly pleased with himself at a job well done--a difficult one at that. My bonus was seeing his self-satisfaction at getting a hard job done, and I'm going to try to build that in to our routine a little more often. I will say that he was a filthy kid when he came in, and it was a good thing too--it kept him occupied soaking in the tub while Hero Guy and I got the rodent out of the house. But that's another story.

Monday, August 21

Bat in the Belfrey

For those of you with run-of-the-mill, boring lives, you really need to come spend a day or two at our house - the activities never do slow down around these parts. Tonight I heard a frantic wailing from Little Chic that there was a bird flying around the living room while she was watching TV. This did not surprise me immensely because this morning I woke to a dead one in my bathroom, it's feathers spread from stem to stern. Apparently when I let the dog in (without wearing my contacts) she snuck past me with a treasure.

As I darted out to see just what kind of bird we had tonight, I quickly recognized the gliding and fluttering that only a bat makes. Since we've already had the family bonding experience of all getting a full set of rabies shots, that's not really on our list of summer excitement again. So I quickly herded Little Chic, HyperDog and Monsterpaw into my bedroom and closed the door. Brainy Boy, usually the alarmist, thought it was pretty funny to have a bird in the house, so I decided to let him continue taking his bath in ignorance--otherwise I'd be chasing a bat and a boy. Meanwhile HyperDog was having a fit at being left out of the hunting action.

I made a quick call to Hero Guy to get home (he was on a rescue squad call) and I proceeded to use a flyswatter to try to guide the critter to its natural outdoor home. I turned on all the lights except for the ones where I wanted the bat to stay, and closed all the bedroom doors. The open style of our house still gave him ample room to fly to and fro throughout several rooms. Having vaulted ceilings didn't make it easy enough for me to reach him, but it made it a lot freakier when he would swoop past my head as I stood on the balcony overlooking his flight pattern.

By the time Hero Guy arrived, the bat had landed on our stone fireplace, clutching for his dear life. Hero Guy made a quick entrance with a BB gun and proceeded to lodge five BBs at various places in our tongue-in-groove ceiling, wounding the bat, and thoroughly ticking it off. Hero Guy had the nerve to suggest that my flash photography was irritating the bat, rather than his constant pelting BBs at the poor thing. After realizing the sight on the gun was not accurate, he switched to a different BB gun and followed the bat into my kitchen where the bat apparently felt safer buried in my grapevine surrounding the kitchen window. Hero Guy took one shot with the second gun, downed the bat and convinced himself it was indeed a faulty sight, not a faulty aim. He does pride himself on being an excellent marksman after all.

Now the gloved hands have been cleaned, the kitchen counter (where the bat plopped) has been Cloroxed and the bat has been discarded. We'll be leaving the BBs where they are for posterity, I'm sure. Hero Guy wouldn't have it if I tried to remove them. And, I only made one teeny-tiny shriek the entire time, which is more than I can say for Hero Guy!

Sunday, August 20

Alternative to Sunday Napping

I can't say for sure, but I may have found an alternative to the Sunday afternoon nap that I love to take. Generally after church and lunch, I grab a book and read until I fall alseep. The problem is that come Sunday night, my night-owl status is in full throttle.

Thanks to Laurie, I believe I have found an alternative activity. We'll have to wait and see if it becomes the full-blown passion I've been looking for, but between the hours spent last night and this afternoon clicking and dragging, the it's looking pretty good so far. Above is a sample of the digital scrapbooking craze I'm tinkering with. If you want to know more about it, you'll find more than enough info at Scrapbook Bytes. Laurie, aka "Coffeequeen" is one of the designers of the site, and conveniently for me (though I'm sure she won't always think so), attends my church!

I will make a disclaimer on behalf of myself...I often get bitten by the bug of some new hobby or interest only to find after I have all the equipment, that it was the gadgets I liked and not the actually hobby itself. This new persuit, however, combines two of my favorite elements - pictures and the computer, so perhaps I've found my niche.

Saturday, August 19

The Best Laid Plans

Personalities are a weird thing. Just when you think you have yourself all figured out, you do something even you can't explain.

Hero Guy and I planned to go to an all-day outdoor concert today, listening to a couple of singers we like (Sherri Keaggy and Scott Kripayne). To make the deal sweeter, the tickets were free. However, due to gloomy weather and an urge to get some stuff done around the house that has been neglected this summer, we decided to forgo the pleasure of the concert.

Due to the glum weather turning downright dreary, much of the work we wanted to do outside had to be put off. Now it would seem that my normally scheduled, list-making self would jump to the conclusion that some inside tasks should be tackled, but alas, I have succumbed to the flaw of the perfectionist--a real dislike for a change in plans. Especially when the change in plans gives me an opportunity get something done that I'd rather not do. Thus today I fell into the mode of "frustrated perfectionist" claiming that if I can't get done what I intended, I just won't do anything at all.

To give myself a wee bit of credit, I will claim that I loaded my pile of books onto the large green boat now residing in my bedroom and I also stocked our refrigerator (even though Hero Guy claims that I'll even use groceries for an excuse to go shopping). I also cooked a proper dinner for my family forgoing the Chinese takeout that I almost ordered. Other than that, today was a bust as far as meaning contributions go.

I did make a fair effort at self-indulgence sitting down to investigate a new hobby I'll be addicted to in short time, I'm sure. My friend, Coffeequeen is going to be my new buddy in digital scrapbooking. I've dabbled in paper scrapbooking and I have pretty much every tool available, but I've found that I'm not the scissors and glue crafty sort. Imagine my surprise when I found that I could use my affinity for the keyboard to create something beautiful out of my pictures! Who knew?

Friday, August 18

Letting Go

To start, this is a sideways picture of a canoe bookcase. I'm sorry you have to turn your head to view it, but I have no idea how to turn a picture in Blogger, and I wanted to you see it.

SO, to continue, some would call this piece of furniture an insurance policy, a bargaining tool, leverage. But not me. I choose not to be that kind of wife. To let you in on the story, Hero Guy and I built our own house (which I did not want to do). We then moved into said house before it was totally completed (which I also did not want to do). Now we have a 10-year-old house that is ready for some updating (new carpeting, painting walls, etc., along with some projects that never ended up getting finished. Like our basement.

The original house plans included 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a great room, a kitchen/dining room AND a finished basement/family room. To make a long story short, the basement has never gotten finished. It's not even inhabitable. It's the typical "cellar" right now, dusty, used for storage and collecting junk. It became a thorn in the side of our marriage for a period of about five years (because of me). It became the center of every little argument, the reason to get irritated, the perfect topic to bring up every time we talked about our house. I would even make a point to bring it up in public and basically every person we know at one time or another has joked "Is your basement done yet?" At one point, our relationship was looking a bit shaky and I was angry, depressed and frustrated...because I didn't have a finished basement (go figure). Hero Guy was determined to finish it himself, resisting every mention of letting a contractor come in and do the work, but it just never got done.

During that time God really began working on me, asking me some point-blank questions like "Are you really willing to ruin a perfectly good relationship over a room in a house?" and "Other than not finishing your basement, doesn't Hero Guy have pretty much every single quality you could ask for in a husband/mate?" and "Would having a finished basement truly bring you happiness and satisfaction, making all the rest of your life a perfect place to be?" Sounds crazy, doesn't it? I'm the perfect example of how you can drive yourself nuts over the goofiest details and make those small things seem like life-shattering obstacles.

It reminds me of the movie, War of the Roses. If you've never seen it, I don't recommend it because it is very depressing. But the basic premise is a perfect relationship souring over time because of little tiny irritants, and becoming a full-blown war against one another filled with bitterness and resentment.

The point is, as I reflected and listened to my conscience, I realized that I had let something material become the center of my life, that I was choosing to ignore every other good thing and focusing on the one minor detail. I finally began to see some things clearly. 1) Hero Guy truly doesn't have time or energy to finish the basement right now. 2) Hero Guy built the entire house and the thought of having someone else's workmanship in it, made him feel like some of his ownership was gone. 3) Hero Guy did have full intention of finishing the basement, and not getting it done was a lack of time, not a lack of love or commitment to me. I finally told him that he was officially off the hook from ever doing the basement and that I would be content to live in our house without a finished basement. If he ever did finish it off, it would be a bonus and he could do it in his own time if he ever wanted to. It's amazing how much I've liked my house ever since then.

Coming back to the above picture, on our most recent camping trip, we stopped into an Adirondack store. This bookcase was on sale for half-price. I've been bugging Hero Guy to get me another bookcase so I can get the stacks off my bedroom floor. It goes perfectly with the hunting theme that Hero Guy wants to use in the basement. And it looks very much like the real canoe that he has. After much doe-eyed begging, Hero Guy convinced me that it would fit in with all our camping gear we had to lug home, I can use it for my books and he is immediately going to begin working on the basement. So far I've done a good job at being balanced--offering to help him and looking forward to some progress, but not getting my heart set and then broken because real life settles in again.

We'll see how it goes. For now, this thing is breaking up the theme of my coordinated hydrangea bedroom set. But I do have my books off the floor, and that's always a plus.

Thursday, August 17

What about You?

I've always been a psychology buff and and I thought the answers to these questions can reveal a lot about a person. I found it on another blog, so I thought I'd share a few more of my quirks with you. This blogging is a strange thing. I've revealed more about myself since December '05 when I started blogging than I ever have in my life.

1. Do you sleep with your closet doors opened or closed? Closed. Otherwise I feel like somebody can sneak up on me.
2. Do you ever take the soaps and shampoos from hotel rooms? Yup, they are there for me and they throw them out if the seal is broken anyhoo. I don't raid the maid's cart or anything, just take what's in my room.
3. Have you ever had sex in a hotel room? I started to leave this one out, but hey, I have two kids, so you guess the answer to this one.
4. Have you ever stolen a street sign? Uh, no. It wouldn't go with my landscaping.
5. Do you use post-it notes? Constantly. I love them. My girlfriend gave me a big bag of them she got at the business fair and I was Sooo happy!
6. Do you cut coupons out but never use them? Always. My intention is good, but my follow through stinks.
7. Would you rather be attacked by a bear or a swarm of bees? A bear. I have a plan. I've taken a lot of kickboxing classes to prepare for the moment.
8. Do you always smile for pictures? Yup. My "alluring, serious" look always makes me look like a weirdo.
9. What is your biggest pet peeve? Dirty fingernails & toenails on anybody, especially my kids.
10. Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out? In. Otherwise you are buried from the waist up in sheets and your feet are naked, and that is really annoying.
11. Have you ever peed in the woods? Oh, I have on my one and only backpacking trek with Hero Guy deep into the Adirondack forest. Which is why we now camp at campgrounds with proper toilets.
12. Do you chew on your pens or pencils? No, I prefer my hangnails.
13. What is your favorite animal and why? I love monkeys because they do all the hilarious gross things that humans can't get away with.
14. Do you like popcorn from those big tins? No, I like the microwave mini-popcorn bags. The tins always have stale popcorn in them. I will put up with the cheese flavored, though. It's kind of addicting.
15. Could you marry the person you are with right now? You betcha, baby. I'd do it again.
16. Is is okay for a guy to wear pink? For sure, but Hero Guy wiggles away whenever I try to get him into that pink polo shirt.
17. Do you still watch cartoons? Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is the newest introduction my kids have given me. I prefer the Flintstones, though.
18. Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had it? In the most obvious place I could think of so nobody would look there.
19. What do you drink with dinner? Cranberry seltzer or Pepsi One.
20. What do you dip your chicken nugget in? Honey Mustard, always. It's my condiment of choice on everything from sandwiches to tuna salad dressing.
21. What is your favorite food cusine? Italian.
22. What movies could you watch over and over again, and not get tired of them? Benny & Joon, Untamed Heart.
23. Where you a boy scout or girl scout? Not when I was a kid, but I got to join when Little Chic signed up!
24. When was the last time you wrote a letter to a person on paper? I wouldn't even know. I'm definitely an email and phone call kind of girl.
25. Favorite kind of sandwich? PB and banana.
26. Best thing to eat for breakfast? Biscuits & gravy is my fav, but my usual is a high protein granola bar.
27. What is your usual bedtime? 11:00
28. When you were a kid, what did you dress up as a kid? I was usually a princess.
29. Do you read the newspaper? Occasionally. I get my info on my My Yahoo page.
30. How many languages can you speak? English and a little bit of American Sign Language.
31. Do you have any magazine subscriptions? Reader's Digest.
32. Are you in love? Who couldn't be in love with the Hero Guy?
33. Which are better? Legos or Lincoln Logs? Lincoln Logs (Geomags are even better though).
34. Red or white wine? I'm pretty much a teetotaller.
35. Are you stubborn? When I need to be.
36. Watch a soap-opera? I'm more into reality TV.
37. Sing in the car? Always. But if somebody looks at me weird, I turn around and pretend to be talking to my kids.
38. Dance in the shower? Last time I tried, I slipped and fell.
39. Dance in the car? If banging on the steering wheel and bouncing in my seat counts. And if somebody looks at me weird, I bend down and pretend I'm trying to reach for something.
40. Ever use a gun? I'm a great target shooter.
41. Last time you got a picture taken from a photographer? About a year ago for the church directory.
42. Are musicals cheesy? I like the classic musicals.
43. Is Christmas stressful? If we're travelling, yes. If we're staying home, I love it.
44. Favorite type of fruit pie? I like blueberry.
45. What did you want to be as a kid? A spy.
46. Do you believe in ghosts? Not of people, but I do believe in spirits (angels, demons).
47. Ever have a deju-vu feeling? I have had it a couple of times--I dreamed of a place I eventually went to.
48. Take daily vitamins? I take liquid vits from the health food store.
49. Wear slippers? Flip-flop style terry cloth ones frpm Bath & Body Works.
50. Wear a bathrobe? I have a couple, but I never wear them.
51. What do you wear to bed? PJs.
52. First concert? Amy Grant.
53. Walmart, Target, or K-Mart? Walmart prices, Target merchandise.
54. Nike or Adidas? Nike trail runners.
55. Fritos or Cheetos? Either one, any time.
56. Corn nuts or Sunflower Seeds? Ditto as above.
57. Have you ever chosen a boy/girl over a friend? I'm sure I did at some point. I was a little boy-crazy in middle school.
58. Ever take dance lessons? No.
59. Can you curl your tongue? Yes and roll it sideways too.
60. Ever won a spelling bee? Absolutely. It was my pride in school.
61. Have you ever cried because you were so happy? Yes, when I found out Little Chic was a girl.
62. Own any records or record player? Just got rid of our never used record player a year ago.
63. Regularly burn incense? I use candles, but Hero Guy thinks it's a fire hazard.
64. Who would you like to see in concert? Little Big Town.
65. Ever been in-love? I believe we covered that in #15 and #32.
66. Hot tea or iced-tea? Sweetened iced.
67. Tea or coffee? Coffee, xtra cream, no sugar.
68. Favorite kind of cookie? Snickerdoodle.
69. Can you swim well? Yup.
70. Can you hold your breathe without manually holding your nose? Yeah, for a little while.
71. Are you patient? Not usually.
72. Ever won a contest? In middle school ran track and I was a first place sprinter.
73. Ever have plastic surgery? I won't unless it's repair from an accident.
74. Which are better, black or green olives? Def black.
75. Can you knit or crochet? I've tried, but failed.
76. Best room for a fire place? The family room.
77. What is the best way to show affection? Hugs/cuddling.
78. Would you rather do without your cell phone or car? I could easily live without the cell phone. It's just for emergencies anyway. Just the idea of being without a car would drive me nuts.
79. Do you have any regrets? Not having my sis be my maid of honor in my wedding.
80. Did you do well in high school? Flunkie in 9th grade, straight As from 10th on through college.
81. Do you still talk to people from high school? If email contact counts, several.
82. Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Yes, but it was around middle school. I survived.

Wednesday, August 16

Al Dente

Brainy Boy, 10 years old and going into 5th grade, unexpectedly lost a molar last night. It had just started getting loose a couple of days ago and as he was wiggling it, it popped out. Being the cynic that he is, he's never been a big fan of the Tooth Fairy. However he does readily accept any and all prizes that may happen to appear under his pillow the morning following a tooth loss. The only rule at our house is that he has to play along, put the tooth under the pillow and the "Tooth Fairy" will understand that he likes to keep his own teeth and she'll leave a prize and leave the tooth where it is under his pillow. He puts all his teeth in a little 35mm black film canister and keeps it in his treasure box. We've told him that if he's too big to play along, then he's too big to get a prize for the tooth. He always gets a big kick out of using his two fingers to make the "quotation-mark" sign when he talks about the Tooth Fairy in front of his sister, who thinks he is really crazy not to believe.

To make a long story short, following the tooth expulsion at 9pm I quickly instant messaged Hero Guy to run by the gas station and buy some sort of little toy or trinket to stick under Brainy Boy's pillow. When Hero Guy got home, Brainy Boy happened to still be awake. He ran in to Hero Guy asking if anything looked different about him. Hero Guy did the dad-thing and asked if he'd gotten a haircut, grown an inch and lots of other crazy guesses. After revealing the tooth-gap, Brainy Boy said he thought that since he didn't really believe in the Tooth Fairy anyhow, dad could just go ahead and hand over whatever prize he would be getting for the tooth. Hero Guy reminded him that if he didn't believe in the Tooth Fairy, he didn't need to get a present for a useless peice of enamel.

Brainy Boy's response: "Dad, I haven't believed in the Tooth Fairy for years and I always get something for my tooth. So that renders your argument moot. Hand it over!"

In a stupor of vocabulary shock, I nodded to Hero Guy to hand over the plastic cap gun with little red caps.

Tuesday, August 15

Mother Instinct

Being a mom is great, but it comes with responsibilities that are sometimes not to my liking. One of them is taking care of barf and boo-boos. I am married to a medic, and believe me, that comes in handy usually. But when in medic mode, Hero Guy treats the wee ones like every other patient and sometimes mother instinct just takes over and I have to step in. Now this is difficult for me since I have always been a bit squeamish. From the earliest time when people would ask "So, are you going to be a nurse like your mom?" I would emphatically decline. I am a medical transcriptionist and you can regularly see me typing along with a knot in my stomach, a look of disgust on my face as I listen to the details of some unfortunate patient having their ingrown toenail removed. It is hard enough for me to listen to it described, and I certainly won't sign up to actually view it in progress.

Thus, when Little Chic crashed on her scooter in the last hour of our camping trip, I readily volunteered Hero Guy to bandage her up. But when it came time to remove the bandage, we discovered that it had been left on too long, and the gauze was firmly implanted in the dried-up goo that had oozed from Little Chic's wound. Hero Guy began soaking the gauze and at the point he realized it was not going to come off easily, he described the painful process Little Chic would have to endure to get it off, and she began to howl. His method is quick and simple, do what you have to do and just get it done. My sympathy began flowing in full tilt and I intervened to say that I would remove it slowly and as painlessly as possible.

Hero Guy let me take over, but disapproved of my Qtip, water and two-hour method versus his bite-the-bullet and rip it off. I will have to say that I think Little Chic cried a lot more while I was doing it since it stretched into such a long process and she still went to bed traumatized. Her tolerance for pain and grossness is about like mine, so it probably would have been better to take the short version and get it over with.

However, this morning, she is in fine form, we both have dried our tears and Hero Guy did say he admired my patience. And we will not be asking him to put another bandage on it either.

Monday, August 14

Wilderness Adventures

It's kind of scary. I spent my third ever camping trip (2nd this summer) feeling totally at home and at-ease in the heart of the Adirondack mountains. I have never been a rough-it kind of gal, always preferring the hot tub and room service at the Marriott to anything remotely Tom Sawyer-ish. But I found last year, while trying it out for the first time, that it was actually kind of fun. After the success of Summer '05, we decided to take the leap and actually plan two separate camping trips this year. Trip #1 was fun, but a bit hectic with planning a 10-hour jaunt to a wedding on the heels of the forest trek.

Trip #2 proved to be everything you hope for in a vacation, and I found myself returning home in a state as I've never been at the completion of a 'holiday'. Instead of collapsing the minute I returned home, catching up on all the missed sleep, recuperating from jetting about town to pack as much experience into the week as possible, I found myself relaxed, energized and wishing that I had just one more camping trip to look forward to before school starts in three weeks.

It was kind of liberating to pull on the same pair of jeans when I got out of bed in the morning that I'd had on when I sat around the smoky campfire the night before. It was a secret little thrill to let Brainy Boy run around the camp site all day long with a cowlick sticking straight up the backside of his head since nobody looks that great anyway. I actually thought it was kind of funny to tell my kids to go swim in the lake after breakfast since they had skipped their nightly shower. And I really liked letting them get 5 Laffy Taffy and eat them right away every time the supply bus drove around the campgrounds twice a day. It was pretty enthralling to realize that although we were camping with friends, I didn't have to ask how to do every little thing--and Hero Guy was quite amazed to realize that I could disassemble and correctly pack away an entire 5-piece tent all by my lonesome.

I had always imagined that I'd be grossed out by camping, get sick of a limited menu and hate sleeping on the hard, cold ground. But I found that actually an air mattress is a swell makeshift bed, everything tastes really good when you eat it around a campfire and it's not all that hard to get used to dirty fingernails for a few days. The payoff is that the kids don't fight at all and they run around staying busy for hours. You can eat breakfast at 6am or noon, whenever you get around to it, because there is no place you have to go. You can sit in the sunshine and take time with that book you've been wanting to read all summer. You can let the kids eat chocolate candy every single day because how else are you going to make S'mores?

The best part is that when you get home, you are not exhausted, you do not feel like you need a vacation from your vacation and you have not spent a lot of money. I'll be thinking about all that good stuff while I catch up on all the laundry I brought back with me!

Sunday, August 13

We're Back!!

We're back, and I'll tell you all about it tomorrow. BUT, in the meantime, I have a tidbit for you. My next-door neighbor has a little guy who contracted juvenile leukemia while in kindergarten. He has been battling this disease for the last two years, and is just about finished with his entire course of chemotherapy. He will be all done in November, and is doing brilliantly. Each October, my kids and I do the Light The Night Walk for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to help raise money to fight this killer. We'll be walking this year on October 12, so if you'd like to support Brainy Boy and Little Chic honor their sick friend, you can click this link and make a donation.

And then tomorrow you'll get the campfire stories!

Tuesday, August 8

Off to See the Wizard

Well, okay, it's not exactly a yellow brick road we're following, but hey, family camping is a little bit like a trip to Oz. You have an idea of where you want to go, you somewhat know how to get there, but you don't have a real clue of what you'll find when you make it to your destination.

We are off to adventure in the semi-wilderness until Saturday, 8/12. Wish us no rain, lots of fun, and perhaps a glimpse of a black bear (for the Tarzans of the family).

Monday, August 7

Joy of Gardening

I've said it before, I'll say it again. I love beautiful things, but I don't enjoy the process of getting things beautiful. I love flowers, I don't like the planting, pruning, weeding, etc. I like a clean house, but I don't like washing dishes, scrubbing floors or any of the stuff it takes to get it there.

When my flower beds thrive, they often begin looking like overgrown eyebrows and I end up with one huge unibrow plant, one running into the other until you can't tell what is a weed and what was put there on purpose. My method of taking care of this little problem is to let it all grow, enjoy the flowering perennials and then wait until it gets really out of hand. Then when I can't stand it any more I weed it ALL. And I do mean it all. I much prefer looking at brown mulch than having chest-high green things creating a miniature forrest outside my front door.

So I go through the list:
Lamb's Ear weeded (chopped down)? Check!
Hosta weeded (demolished)? Check!
Chives weeded (cut to the quick)? Check!
Irises weeded (hacked to smithereens)? Check!

And I just go through the whole garden like that. Above is my happy result! It's not pretty, but it sure feels good. I'd offer to come over and do yours for you, but I've heard it's therapeutic to do it yourself.

Saturday, August 5

Blogging, the Legal Addiction

I began blogging in December 2005 after my sister sent me a link to her Yahoo 360 page. Thinking this would be a great way to stay in touch with my family, who all live out of town, I took a few minutes to upload some pictures, set up a profile and write an entry. After a few days of having some readers actually respond to things I wrote, I figured I'd expand a little and invite some close friends to read my daily journal as well.

All it took was for me to get a comment from friend of a friend or to hear that a colleague at my mom's work was checking my page every day - and I got bitten by the bug. I began to dash out of bed in the morning to update my page, I began to fret over adding little icons and links, I started to spend way too much time trying to figure out HTML. Eventually my Yahoo page became too limited and I decided to set up a Blogger page. That's when things really started to take off. I began to meet cyber-friends, I started looking forward to seeing who would visit my site so that I could visit theirs and I became acquainted with other people who blogged.

I've pondered over what it is that gives me the impulse to blog every day, and I think these are some of the reasons:
--I've always been a web surfer, so I feel at home when I'm blogging.
--I like to write in a journalist style, and blogging is the perfect forum. I'm not a fiction writer at all and I never keep up with a paper journal.
--I love connecting with people of similar interest, and I especially like being able to keep a steady flow of communication with far away family and friends.
--I love typing and working on the computer and I enjoy figuring out how to make new things work, so my site is the perfect place to experiment.
--Although I have a lot of friends, I tend to be private about personal things, so it's easier for me to let my personality come through in writing than face to face.
--There's something addicting about knowing people are going to be "checking in on you" every day. It's probably a little like performing, but the stage fright isn't nearly as bad.

So, there you have it--that's my habit. It keeps me awake just about as well as the coffee.

Friday, August 4


They did report strong thunderstorms yesterday afternoon. All of the Southern Tier was looking forward to the break in weather since the temperature has been pushing the high-90s. In these parts of the north, air conditioning is rare and central air is unheard of (except for mwah whose is not working correctly at the moment). What they didn't forecast was the marble-sized hail, the temperature dropping 20 degrees and the fact that my 10-year-young roof would be leaking all within 15 minutes.

Generous person that I am, I forced both my children outside to gather a handful of the evidence so I could share with you and plop it into the freezer to show Hero Guy so that he would actually believe me. Only one of my children whimpered something about getting struck by lightening or bonked on the head by an ice ball. I assured him that I would quickly drag him back in the house by his feet if that happened. Five minutes down the road, Hero Guy lost power at work and got the rain, but none of the icy stuff. He declared the hail was quarter-size when he peered at it inside our freezer, but the most accurate description is that it was almost exactly the size and shape of the flat-bottomed glass marbles you decorate vases and fish tanks with. Amazingly, the van didn't get dented, although I would have rathered that than the dripping I heard from the slanted ceiling.

HyperDog, of course, was out on the balcony, yipping wildly at the thunder. MonsterPaws was hiding in the back of the closet. 20 minutes after it started, it stopped and today is sunny, breezy and just downright heavenly.

Thursday, August 3

Ten Things You Won't Hear Me Say

I saw this on another BLOG and I thought it was a hoot.

TEN THINGS YOU WILL NOT HEAR ME SAY (and to which I regularly say the opposite):

10) Oh, good, I'm up half a pound. I've been looking a tad bit scrawny lately.
9) Babe, could you let that back hair grow in a little? It makes you look really macho.
8) Brainy Boy, skip brushing your teeth today. Your front teeth look great with that white gunk all over them.
7) Little Chic, don't bother clipping back your grown-out bangs. I love it when it hangs down the front of your face and hides your baby blues.
6) Feel free to leave your books and papers on the kitchen table--it's so handy right here by the front door.
5) I met Kickboxer Buddy for breakfast yesterday so I really shouldn't spend the time or money to go with you for lunch today.
4) I'm really too tired to read in bed before I go to sleep.
3) I'll just get up a little earlier in the morning to throw that extra load of laundry in.
2) Hero Guy, don't wash your medic pants at the station--I look forward to dealing with the bodily fluids of complete strangers.
1) I'm kind of in a hurry this morning. I'll just skip my morning cup of coffee.

Wednesday, August 2

The Swiss Family Olsen

To satisfy the curiosity of all who know me as a suave, polished sort, I'm here to state for the record that I did famously on our recent trek to the Adirondack mountains as we roughed it for five days.

We began our trip with Yours Truly in fine form, singlehandedly shopping and packing all but the few final items that needed Hero Guy's help. Hero Guy was putting in some extra hours at work, but I did 90% of the prep work so that he could throw his clothes in the bag and we'd be on our way. He assured me that it would only take him 15-20 minutes to toss his clothes in the bag, throw our gear on the handy-dandy camping trailer he built to haul our stuff, and we'd be on the road. It was to be our first trip in The Beast and we were all excited about the prospect of loading up absolutely anything and everything we wanted to take with us to test out Hero Guy's claim that it was so HUGE, we'd never run out of room. Let me just say that 4 hours of packing later, and many protests by Hero Guy that we absolutely did not have room for all the stuff we wanted to take, we got on the road, moods a bit dampened by our unrealistic expectations.

We arrived at our campsite in record time. We spent approximately 3 hours setting up camp and I will say that Hero Guy and I make quite the efficient team erecting tents, screened-in kitchens and all. I even do quite well adhering to Hero Guy's rules of not getting anything dirty, wet or sandy because he wants to keep us all pleasantly comfortable and we're sure to be miserable if any of that happens. Unfortunately the clouds decided to vacation with us as well and by morning, the storm clouds were in hot pursuit. Also unfortunately, our camp site was not permanent. A new resident was coming in 2 days and we were going to have to move. We made a snap decision to move into our second site before the rain began so within 12 hours of setting up camp, we were tearing it down to reset a few sites down. We decided that to make things easier, we'd just drag our stuff from site to site. However the sheer size of our gear along with the winds whipping this way and that, it became easier to disassemble and spend another 3 hours setting up our new house. As we finished, the rain clouds opened. Somehow, between Hero Guy ordering everybody to stay out of the rain, not let the sleeping bags get wet, dry this off, carry this in, etc., we managed to collapse at our picnic table and watch the river and we were only slightly wilted. The rain lasted the entire day and we awoke to a swimming pool on our tent floors Sunday morning but none on the beds.

We spent the next days drying out, enjoying the water, fishing and letting me try my hand at camp cooking. During our only other camping trip, I had been the soux chef, and didn't actually have a hand in preparing anything. It is with self-satisfaction that I report everybody declared my food delicious (and I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that everything tastes better when you're camping).

In addition to the normal camping activities of sitting around the fire, roasting marshmallows, fishing in the lake and such, we also visited an Iron Mining museum, went to Whiteface Mountain, watched snow skiers practice jumping at the Olympic training site and spent an afternoon at Fort Ticonderoga.

We liked it so much that we're camping again in another week, and then we'll probably be ready to do each other in. This time, we'll be ready for the rain (which probably won't come) we'll be more realistic about how long it actually takes to pack up our gear and with any luck, we'll teach our kids to do the set up and we can be the ones playing army in the woods, pelting each other with pine cone grenades.

Tuesday, August 1

Off the Road, Again

Whew, we're home. I gotta tell you, I've always been one that loves "ramming" as my girlfriends call it--jetting from place to place (usually involving shopping, but it can apply to trips as well) running through the door just in time for hubby to get home, sighing from exhaustion which he could possibly take as a sign that I've been cleaning all day, except for the fact that the house looks like a cyclone hit it. BUT, my old age is catching up with me, and I'm craving a bit of space between jaunts so I can catch my breath and get things in order before I head out again. In any event, I thought you might like to share a few of my observations that I gleaned from my recent double-whammy of a "vacation" as I like to pretend it was. Some of the lessons were from our camping trip, a couple of them were from our road trip to my mom's wedding. I'll start with:

1) When camping, it is best to choose a camping site and then stay there. It sounds interesting to try one site for a night or two, and then move over to perhaps a better site for the rest of the stay, but it's actually crummy. Getting your little "house" all situated and then having to tear it down in the pouring rain because somebody else is coming to your spot, is the worst. Setting back up in the new spot that is completely soaked, getting your sleeping bag back into the tent without drenching it, is impossible. Besides, it takes way too much time and energy to set up camp today, tear it down tomorrow and set it back up. PS--the idea of just dragging everything over to the new spot rather than tearing down doesn't work either--we tried it.

2) Staying at a camp ground where wild bears don't come around sounds like a good idea. It is actually quite a disappointment for those of the macho persuasion. You regularly see the guys leaving crumbs of bacon, listening intently for what could be a bear-foot in the woods, fussing about how the last campground was so much better since a bear actually tromped through the campsite.

3) People from Vermont apparently don't drive outside their state. While driving 10 hours from NY to NC, I can understand not seeing license plates like Alaska, North and South Dakota and Wyoming. But hey, if Hawaii can be parked at the church in NC, I think Vermont could humor me a little as I do my State license plate game and show up somewhere. And I was almost as peeved at South Carolina as it took me getting back up to Pennsylvania on the way home to be able to check off that little "SC" on my wipe-off mat.

4) New Ford pick-up trucks do not mix well with family trips. The kiddos and I about had our fill as Hero Guy sighed and humphed as we deposited the occasional crumb of cracker or splash of water on his new insides. You'd have thought we were toilet papering his yard the way he reacted as the upholstery got that "lived-in" feel.

5) The guy that marries your mother has relatives that are as leary about you as you are about them. Everyone wonders what the "Other Side" is going to be like, how they will act, what weirdness will appear. It is a great relief to everybody when you all realize that the opposite family is as pleasant, attractive and normal as you are. And that's saying something.

6) Jack Russell Terriers would much rather stay in a kennel than stay at their own home with an elderly aunt checking in on them three times a day. Something about being able to bark at the other doggies, having somebody take you out to walk a couple of times and playing with you helps keep your mind off the fact that your family is gone. Plus, the kennel doesn't really mind if you pee on the floor several times a day because you're lonely--they understand. Your family gets a little irked that every time auntie comes to let you out, you've already demonstrated that you're too bored at home alone and done your business--at least you were nice and kept it off the carpet.