Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Extra Kid; 2+1=3

A&P have had a friend over for the last 24 hours or so- I don't think he'd leave without encouragement so I've dropped the temperature on the thermostat and we've strategically run out of food.

Truly, it's fine. My kids tend to be less problematic when someone else is around. I was smart enough to remove the Nerf dart guns before the friend arrived since I tend to be the favorite target. Nothing like a Nerf dart in the eye to motivate hiding a toy.

They've been playing XBox for hours... I know sometime one of them will need a thumb joint replacement, or a brain transplant.

Medically speaking, we did have an injury here two nights ago when Andrew decided he desperately needed cookies at about 10pm. He was navigating the house barefoot, which shouldn't be an issue unless you're clumsy and manage to wrap your toes around a door into the dining room.

Rather than fall to the floor dramatically, he ran around the house screaming to make sure we understood the magnitude of the abrasion. It was all pretty terrible and then we realized he had a large cut between his toes that was bleeding profusely and in his injured wanderings he had left quite a trail on all the white carpet in 3 different rooms. BONUS. I can't figure out why he stayed off of the kitchen floor.

Anyway, he's really fine with his toes taped together. He walks through the house with a Ka-Thump that just scared me- he sounds like a pirate with a peg leg coming through the house. Not a lot of pirates in Perrysburg this time of year.

I should probably feed these children. I'm so inspired by the bacon responses below...
Happy New Year's Eve!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Figuring this out...

Doesn't this chick look "in control" of her giant puzzle piece? Doesn't this picture just scream "this is my puzzle piece and if you take it I'll make sure you wear it sticking out of your right frontal lobe for the rest of your life"? I envy her! This blogging adventure so far has been at times exhilarating and at other times enough to make me pound my head against the keyboard until it breaks or I get a flat spot and some permanent squares embedded on my countenance.

Enough of the violence. Here in Blogburg, (population 1) I've added a few things; I've taken a few things away. Yes, that's right, I giveth and I taketh away. Just like the chick in the picture. And, I'm still trying to figure out what I want this corner of Blogburg to be. They (the blog experts- who knew there were such people?) say that it may take a bit to get my voice (what is that exactly? My kids seem to know it when I'm screaming about picking up their socks. You must not be able to hear that), locate some victims, er readers, and try to figure out what this whole things means.

Considering that I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, I'm not holding out much hope that this blog will bring about enlightenment or an epiphany, but if it could, tomorrow is Tuesday and it's wide open.

Thanks for your patience while I navigate Blogburg. Suggestions are always welcome. Unlike the suggestion box at work, I'll read what you say and probably do it!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Stinky Bacon

Thomas Jefferson once said, "I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give. "

I'm not sure I'd be happy to be closed up in a small house with bacon, especially not stinky bacon. Before I get to the stinkier aspects of this post, I was amazed by the sheer volume of bacon related information on the web- including the Royal Bacon Society and their holiday picture of a bacon adorned Christmas tree. Truly, wonders NEVER cease.

This morning I made stinky bacon and I am officially a bacon enabler. Let me first state that I do like bacon- I don't mind it, I cook with it and I've been known to pack away BLT's with the best of them. However, there is bacon from a certain bacon purveyor that is the stinkiest stuff ever. It leaves a lingering scent of smoke in the house for days. It tastes like a campfire. It is Tim's favorite thing.

The bacon purveyor, Mom Wilson's is located north of Columbus, Ohio and whenever anyone travels within the one hundred mile radius of the shop, there is a standing request for stinky bacon and other stinky pork products. Tim has been known to pack an empty cooler when heading south for loading with smoked sundries.

Me, on the other hand? I make EVERY EXCUSE I can think of to avoid stopping-

  • It's raining
  • It's snowing
  • It's cold
  • It's dark
  • It's late
  • The bacon people smell and they scare me
  • This bacon will kill you

Last trip, I tried these excuses and a few others, but after years of excuses I buckled under the pressure and stopped in to make a purchase. I had the bacon people cryovac the bacon and I wrapped it in multiple paper bags before stashing it in the cold recesses of my trunk for the trip home.

My trunk still smells like stinky bacon.

And now, so does my kitchen.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Rice Cooker

Once upon a time, I got married and received a fabulous rice steamer, exactly like this one pictured here, from a generous guest. We used the cooker for years to steam rice and various vegetables and we lived happily ever after. Until one fateful day, I dropped a can of stewed tomatoes (a really big can of them) on the glass lid and it smashed into a million, sad, super sharp, shards of pointy glass.

We recovered, slowly, from our shock and dismay over the destruction of the cooker. Being the cheapskates that we are occasionally - and no doubtedly we were still in mourning which must have affected our judgment- we decided that rice consumption was not high on our food needs list. We dropped around $40 on a cheap model rice maker that appeared to be functional. This was a ruse! The people that made the rice cooker make things like drills, power saws and electric knives so how could they mess up a rice cooker? A HA! They sure can and boy-howdy did they ever!

This replacement model, not nearly as nice as the first cooker we had, was horrible. It did terrible things...

  • The handles got too hot resulting in the loss of my fingerprints on more than one painful occasion (Upside, I am able to commit crimes with wild abandon);

  • The thing spit and sputtered like a dying harpooned whale being chased by 19th century whalers (Upside, I was inspired to re-read Moby Dick);

  • The rice it did manage to cook developed a starchy crust on top and was a sticky mess on the bottom (Upside, we ate less carbs);

  • The humidity the cooker spewed forth was enough to make my hair curl and the wallpaper peel. (Upside, no one had respiratory problems in our house for a few years, the wallpaper was easy to remove and I am the envy of all my friends for my easy to obtain curly locks).

But now, drumroll, I got a shiny, brand-spankin' new rice cooker for Christmas. The dragon could be retired!

But who ever throws anything away? Even something that doesn't work? My brother and his wife were lucky enough to spend the holiday with us and they are now the proud owners of the dragon masquerading, steaming water spewing, rice starchy nightmare mess that was our rice cooker.

Tim did nothing to help with the gifting of the cooker- in fact he nearly derailed it. He tried to tell the rice cooking tale of woe, but I glossed it over like nothing had ever happened and the rice cooker was packed away and is now safely on its way to Georgia. I think it's humid enough there that they might not notice the spewing.

In case you want to buy a rice cooker, there's lots of advice out there to help you avoid a nightmare dragon purchase. I even found a blog devoted to picking your rice cooker. How lucky is that?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oh! What Fun!

This is the pile of Christmas trappings that appeared at my feet yesterday.

Not too far away, other other side of the room I found Andrew...

After nearly two days of festivities, we fell into bed trying to remember when we've had so much to eat and drink and so much fun.

Happy Boxing Day (I am going to figure out what this is) and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cookies for Santa

A&P used to believe in Santa. At some point along the line, Peter figured us out. Despite my very best efforts to...

# Disguise my handwriting on tags
# Speak of Santa Claus in the third person- no matter what
# Place the Santa key on the door so Santa could get in without a chimney
# Control the Christmas Eve, profanity laced, toy-depackaging-putting-together-nightmare that is the Playmobil Airport

However, Andrew remained blissfully unaware. We thought surely the elf was out of the toy bag but realized the closer we got to Christmas last year- he had no clue. This was tough- do you out Santa yourself or let the jerks on the bus break his 5th grade, nearly eleven year old heart?

So, one day last year, a few weeks before Christmas we had THE TALK. Never in my wildest dreams did I think the harder conversation would be ratting out Saint Nick. But..


And, in the end broke my heart instead.

I felt lousy for a few days and so did he- he would spontaneously burst into tears and say "You LIED to me ALL these YEARS!"

A year post hence, we've recovered and Andrew joyfully helped me make the cookie dough for our baking frenzy. Peter was unwilling to get his hands dirty but participated in the gingerbread cut outs and the obligatory eating of all the broken cookies.

And, Santa will still come... but we're all in on the secret now and A&P can put their own toys together.

Monday, December 22, 2008


It's bitter COLD, frosty and the snow is crunchy this morning. I know this because I ventured into the backyard to get the picture of my pine needles. I only got stuck in the ice once or twice and both slippers made it back to the house. I can't describe this frosty kind of day any better than Robert Louis Stevenson and his poem "Winter-Time" that I have reprinted below. But before that, Stevenson was born in 1850 and was largely ignored until the 20th Century where he became a favorite childrens' poet (and of course he wrote Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). Go pull out your "A Child's Garden of Verses" curl up with some tea and don't go outside in your fuzzy pink bathrobe to take pictures. The neighbors will TALK.

Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap;
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding-cake.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Jewels

Every girl wants diamonds for Christmas, but they are not always received in the manner we might expect.

School is out which makes 100% of our household exceedingly happy. Work is out for me except for wrapping up a few loose ends. I'm having a hard time relaxing however. I find it usually takes about 3 days to stop incessantly checking email and to stop the brain zaps of stressful obligation.

I read somewhere that if you focus your thinking in the more creative, right side of your brain, you'll be happier. Sounds crazy, but it does actually work for me although it's probably psychosomatic. I'll make that my goal for the next few weeks and let you know how it works out and how many people wonder what's wrong with me when I lean to one side and blink my left eye too much while talking.

Last but not least, here is a link to a great article about one of our Eagle Scouts from our morning paper. His work towards his medicine badge led him to discover a hole in his heart needing repair. This is vaguely reminiscent of my brother diagnosing his own brain tumor, but that's a story for another day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Andrew and I are CRAMMED in the chair watching the news. It's going to snow tomorrow and maybe some ice. A&P are placing bets that school will be cancelled and they'll be hitting the sledding hill.

Anyway, the picture is an overturned tree missing the dirt. An entangled mess to be sure, but still a foundation that worked for a that tree for a while. Watching the news everyday- my assistant's husband laid off for from his Chrysler plant until late January- it makes us focus on what we can control. Not very much to be sure, but family, living within our means and behaving ourselves certainly tops the list. Could someone deliver that message to Wall Street? Getting back to the basics...

Give to the food bank.
Write a check for the homeless shelter.
Volunteer to read a book or deliver a meal for Mobile Meals.
Buy gas for the person next to you at the pump.
Put money in the kettle.
Clean out your closet and give it away.

We don't control the economy, our children, gas prices,interest rates or the crazy people pillaging our retirement accounts. But, we can control what we give to our community and whether or not we take care of each other not just physically but also spiritually.

We'll get through this mess if we stick to what matters. Can someone figure out how to re-establish the roots?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Totally Under Control & A Birthday for My Mom

We are totally under control. The shopping is NOT done and the cards are NOT sent, but...

We wait for Santa (Andrew made this very cool one in school last year)...

And we get ready for a few parties and then we'll make some cookies and eat the dough.

And I'll try to tie some bows and fail miserably, as usual.

One more thing, the 18th is my mom's birthday. So, if we were together this is what we'd do...

- Sleep late because that is a good thing to do, any day, no matter what.

- Go to breakfast and I'd drink lots of coffee. She would restrain herself.

- We could shop for some bargains. But we'd only buy stuff we NEEDED because otherwise, it's not a bargain.

- We would get some lunch- just a cup of soup and a Diet Coke, because we'd still be full from breakfast.

- We could shop some more, or maybe sit at home and look at the river and read a book or take a nap, but we'd really just be resting our eyes.

- Then we could have some dinner and some cake and ice cream with Dad and Matthew and Adam and all the crew of sisters in law and cousins and grandchildren and friends.

- And we'd have champagne. Everything is better with champagne.

-Maybe the cake would be a surprise because she would say she didn't need one, but we would decide differently. I think a white cake with fancy frosting and some raspberry jelly. It would be a FANCY cake indeed. Definitely not a PLAIN cake.

-We would only put a few candles on- no need to discuss age. Really- because what goes around, comes around.

- Then she would open all of her presents and the phone would ring when her friends from Australia (a day late for them) would call. It would be the right day when Wisconsin folks would call. They would probably sing because those are happy folks up there.

-We would be pretty tired after all of that celebrating, so we'd probably have Dad get us some Bailey's and we'd sip that until bedtime.

Now that would be a good birthday for my Mom and me.

Love You, Always and Forever

Monday, December 15, 2008

Strong Willed Child? You need a Strong Drink...

I appear to be promoting drinking as an appropriate outlet for relieving the stress associated with raising a kid that questions EVERYTHING. If it works for you, fantastic, because it's doing NOTHING for me.

This is one of my favorite pictures of EXHIBIT A...

He's so cute and happy here wearing a goofy hat at Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco. If we had tried to take this picture today I'm pretty sure it would go like this:

Me: Hey look at the cool hats!
Child: Why? You really hate me don't you?
Me: This place has lots of chocolate, isn't that fun?
Child: Fun? You never let me eat anything I want. You put onions in everything. You probably put them in waffles. You lie all the time and call them shallots.
Me: Look! I'm trying on funny hats to make you smile because you're sad! Did you know that shallots are often used for their garlic characteristics- not the onion ones? I read that on the Internet!
Child: I can't be seen in public with you. I am not related to you and if you keep standing near me I'll scream for the security guard and tell him you're not my mother.
Me: How about some more chocolate?
Child: How about a new cell phone and an unlimited texting plan?
Me: No
Child: See, I told you that you hate me.

When I see him later tonight I'm going to give him a big squeeze and tell him how much I love him. I can't wait because I had onions for lunch.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Comments? Where Art Thou Comments?

The Internet is a lonely place. And, it's even lonelier when you can't figure out how to talk to people. A girl could flip out over this.

Alas, as is usually the case, the wrong flipper was flipped. Rest assured that the flipper has now been unflipped and the flipper's absence will now allow comments without getting all sorts of information from you. I'd call this state of affairs, FLIPTASTIC.

I am a bit disappointed not be able to gather your information as I was planning world domination based on your user names, passwords, mother's maiden names, your first pet, favorite color, favorite constellation and the ever popular, favorite artificial preservative. We'll just have to leave this info gathering to Dick Cheney for the time being and I'll have to find something else to do.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas is... Stomach Flu?

We made our annual trek to the Toledo Metroparks Manor House Christmas display this week. A&P have a lot of great memories since they've been going to the Manor House to see the decorations from the time when they could barely walk. The house has a bowling alley in the basement and an awesome train set they set up for the holiday. There's a secret staircase to the attic that is decorated with mini battery powered skiers navigating the descent.

The master bath of the Manor House is always a treat- Santa is usually in the bathtub. The docent enforced path in the house leads visitors through the dressing closet and into the white, marble bathroom. This year, there were a lot of folks so we were in a small traffic jam moving our way into the dressing closet, but we knew what awaited us, just steps away, in the bathroom. We were rounding the corner when the family in front of us started acting erratically and saying things about their daughter like:

"What's wrong with her face?" "Did she swallow a bulb?"
"Why does she look like that?"

Well, she looked like that right before throwing up all over the pristine white marble tile- smack-dab in front of the Santa bubble bathtub extravaganza we've been waiting a year to see. We waited a few more minutes, in disbelief, and then realized there was no way we'd be going into that bathroom this year.

Henceforth we will remember A&P, in their stocking caps, barely tall enough to look at the trains. And as an added bonus, with us forever, is Suzy Stomach Flu, who kept us from leering at Santa in the bathtub.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Meanest Mom in the Universe!

Every day after work and school I ask myself a few questions:

1. How can I torture my children?
2. What can I make for dinner that will make them barf?
3. Can I get away with (for one more day) calling an onion a shallot?
4. Where did I hide the chocolate vodka?
5. How many hours until I go back to the office?

After our normal power struggle over normal things:

1. No you may not order knives off of that website.
2. No you may not get a cell phone with an unlimited texting plan like all the other kids on the bus whose parents clearly love them more than yours do.
3. No I will not make you a dinosaur diorama complete with edible plants and a volcano for school tomorrow.
4. No you cannot have a slumber party with 9 boys, 27 pizzas and some knives.
5. No you may not eat fruit snacks, PopTarts and drink green apple pop for dinner.

We do regular family things:

1. Locate all the lost socks.
2. Find all the homework you said you didn't have and do it at 9pm.
3. Count down the number of bites of the dinner containing "shallots" that will enable you to either leave the table or get a dessert or just leave the table for goodness sakes so we can load the dishwasher.
4. Say our prayers- really loudly, emphatically and repeatedly.
5. Say " COME ON GUYS!" 99,000 times.

I announced today that I had submitted a super, top secret application for TADA "The Meanest Mom in the Universe" award. Peter wanted to know how I applied, but I said if I revealed my sources I'd have to torture him with a spork (or a foon). Andrew was very nice and said I was nowhere near close to achieving the level of meanness required for this distinction. "Surely you'd have to lock us up and take away our video games for more than 30 minutes to win something like that!" Peter, on the other hand, spent the next 2 hours trying to figure out, in explicit detail, what I could do to torture him with a piece of combo picnic silverware all while rearranging faux shallots on his plate.

Time well spent indeed.

I think the awards are announced in Sweden in February.

P.S. There were some doubts that shallots were a real food. Indeed they are Peter and you may visit the shallot website.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No One's Thinking About You, Believe Me

How do I know this? Did I get my crystal ball back from the crystal ball fixing shop? Can I read minds? Was I conked on the head by a falling coconut? Well all of those would be nifty (but for the head injury) alas, none of it is true. Bear with me, I am going somewhere with this.

Each of us is a small fish in a big pond. Ok, that was trite. I'll try again. Each of us is a small pebble in a big sea of many pebbles. That's better, and I have a picture to illustrate...

So a person, I'll name him Peter, is a little pebble in this big sea. Peter goes to junior high school everyday. As a parent, this is a hard thing to do to a child. I HATED Jr High. The only word I can use for this period in my life is "sucks". I don't think I'm alone in this and a wise friend told me that the main goal is to get your kids through Jr High with some semblance of their self respect and no felonies.

Peter is convinced that everyone is always looking at him, staring at him actually, and plotting unique ways to facilitate his demise (probably by stuffing him in a trash can or by making him eat a school lunch). Using my parental powers granted to me by the State of Ohio, or at least by the hospital that insisted I take BOTH children home, I have imparted the following wisdom...

No one is thinking about you, because they are too busy thinking about themselves.

This truism, this fact, is POWERFUL- almost Dumbledore crystal ball powerful. Once you realize that everyone else's head is simply too clogged up with thoughts about their own mismatched socks, their cowlick or their inability to master Greek, you are set free. I mean that. Not free like flying in space or like my dreams of a great day at Macy's, but it is an amazing thing to walk into a room full of people and know that short of a brussel sprout embedded in your upper left bicuspid, you're fine. Not only are you fine but everyone else in that room is so worried about their own proverbial brussel sprout, that you are completely off the hook. Short of stuffing a lampshade on your melon and breaking a window with your best soprano warble, it's all good.

, where does that leave Peter? Nowhere really, he doesn't listen to me. Maybe some day.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Little Prince

Once upon a time I read "The Little Prince" in my high school French class. Reading it in French and not being particularly good at it, I did not really get the point. "Baobabs" or "Elephant in a boa constrictor" are not normal vocabulary words. Anyway, many years later, (it doesn't matter how many so don't try to count) I read the story to A&P. We had a nice time and as often happens when we finish a book, we had to take a break for me to recover from the sad parts. You don't want to be here, without Kleenex, when we read "Charlotte's Web."

Anyway, the Prince has a rose who causes him some fits, ironically like being married, but instead he's trapped on an asteroid with this very cranky, high maintenance flower. The very best part of the whole book is the following quote which is the secret the Prince, who is busy fretting about his flower, hears from the fox he has tamed:

One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.

So when we're fretting about our own flowers, whatever those might be, we're missing the important parts. The Little Prince has to sweep out his volcanoes; we have to pick up the socks and not leave he dishes in the sink. The Little Prince has to dig up the baobabs so that they don't grow so large that his planet explodes into a million pieces. I can't think of anything around here that dire- although Peter gets fairly upset when we're out of PopTarts.

The Prince misses his rose and finds a way to return to his planet, but I'm NOT telling you how. Here is a link to the entire story so you can get some Kleenex and find out for yourself:

The Little Prince

When the Prince realizes the fox was right all along, he repeats the fox's secret. When I'm raising my kids, and learning (read: messing up, repeatedly) along the way, perhaps together we'll realize this too...

...eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.

If you could GO anywhere, where would you GO?

If someone handed me a plane ticket, or even the keys to a rental car, I'd throw my family in (or on the plane) and head to Montana. Right before Christmas this might appear that I'm begging, I'm not, just being wishful and somewhat wistful.

The Glacier Park people have my email address from reservations made last summer. (Feels like a decade ago) When the emails come, I stop and wish for a few minutes that I am not sitting in an office up to my neck in projects, but instead with a bandanna around my neck whacking at giant mosquitoes and telling my kids to hurry up so the bears don't eat them for a mid-day snack. (I'm not thinking that an 11 year that eats only fruit snacks and pop tarts is particularly tasty however).

So here's Avalanche Creek...

Water filled with glacial detrious and as blue as anything you have ever seen. It's not quiet with the rushing water, but it works like noise cancellation headphones- it's hard to think about anything else.

So, TODAY if money was no object and you had nothing else to do- no laundry, no school projects to help with (so much that they feel like yours) and no concern about showing up at work- where would YOU go?

A quick update: KURT emailed and said he is going to live. AND Tim left me the last cup of coffee. Now that's LOVE.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunny Sunday

It stopped snowing and we have bunny prints all over the front walk. Preserving the tracks is a good excuse not to shovel.

This morning was the Christmas pageant. A&P were villagers in snazzy robes made of upholstery fabric. Here's a shot of them being goofy. I promise to get some new pictures once my new camera is functional- maybe tomorrow.

THANKS to those of you who emailed me with encouragement. I am a little daunted by the very public forum, so I'll have to make an effort to behave myself. This will be rough.
PRAYERS needed for our friend Kurt who has been in the ICU at St. Anne's all weekend with a heart issue.
BLESSINGS on the super easy pork roast for dinner and the peanut butter cookies I promised the aforementioned goofballs.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Snowy Day for Basketball

We're receiving our first appreciable snow fall today- little tiny flakes that haven't made much effort towards accumulation but have accomplished the slippery road technique. We haven't seen any deer today, but we know they've been spying on us...

Anyway, it was off to basketball for A&P. They were tired from a Boy Scout event that didn't afford much sleep, but they had a good game. They didn't win, but had a few rebounds, blocks and generally tried their best.
I am trying this out for the first time and I hope it appears in good shape, just like we are.