Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's Thursday

And that means it's toilet scrubbing day! Somehow Thursdays have become my major cleaning day--which really just means toilets. I haven't gotten around to vacuuming yet (and it's sorely needed), and I sweep the kitchen way more often than I'd like, and we know that laundry is an almost daily occurrence. So Thursdays are just tons of fun, since most of the gross part of my toilet cleaning consists of wiping up my son's misses from behind the toilet.

Anywho, I haven't posted any current pictures in a while, so here are some!

This is my big Christmas present, which we now get to pay for on the credit card! Of course, it has five burners and a convection bake feature, so it's all good!

Shhh! This is the beginnings of Caitlin's doll quilt. I'll post the finished products when they're done.

This is Caroline's chickee. Still don't have a grade, but I think Rob and I deserve an A. Notice how I tied some of the top together with twine--that's because I started getting afraid that the glue would give way. Caroline did do some work on this--she had to hold it together while Rob glued the pieces. I made the roof--more hot glue, but Caroline painted the structure.

And this morning, I decided to play with the camera a little (and with the blocks--any excuse to play!). I like how the light looks in these last two pictures. All my blog surfing has left me wishing I could take prettier pictures--and not the subject matter, but the way the light is captured. I figure practice is the best way to learn. Don't you just love the freedom a digital camera provides? I mean, you'll never run out of film. Hell, I'm still using the memory card that came with the camera when I got it about three years ago!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


So I was lying in bed this morning--5:50 this morning (damn dog) and thinking about a new post. Then, (at a more decent hour) I signed onto Blogger and begin updating the list of links I've added under Good Reads. But then Blogger just froze up once I clicked the save button, and after I impatiently clicked save a few more times, I discover that the list appears three times in a row. Frustrating. Yesterday I thought I lost an entire post--tragic, I know, especially considering how well written and deep that post was (I later discovered that the thermostat was still set at 65 and that's why I was so cold).

Deep breath. Then, my sister-in-law called to discuss this summer's vacation in lovely Cape May, New Jersey. That got me sidetracked and excited about summer! This will be our first year that we go back to a vacation place.

As I've been typing, I've noticed that the wind has really picked up--like "rip the siding off the house" picked up. Gusty too! This is the windiest place I've ever lived. I wish we had some room on our property to plant a couple of trees in places where it would help slow down the wind, but we don't. I find it kinda funny now that things I wish were different about this house (a back yard, more land, the house situated so that the front door would get some direct sun) are things that never crossed my mind when we were looking. I guess we were so excited about being able to get a bigger house with room for us to move around in (coming from a 3 bedroom, 1 bath, 1200 square feet home) that we didn't think much beyond the interior. I hope I can remember this next time we know, after the kids leave for college.

Okay, I've totally abandoned any pretense of writing about whatever was keeping me up early this morning. There's always tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Freakin' COLD!

I'm baking brownies right now, and believe it or not, I'm not baking them because I crave brownies. I'm baking them because I'm trying to heat up this damn house! I'm freezing!

Damn that Al Gore (and our ridiculous heating bills), I keep our thermostat set to 65 degrees during the day, and most days, I'm cold. So I'm wearing jeans, a long-sleeved tee, and a sweater (and socks and shoes), and my fingers are like moveable icicles and my teeth are chattering. And here's the kicker--this is not an especially cold day today! I think we're going to break forty today. I have already kicked up the thermostat to 68 (70 is as high as I'll go), and now I'm running the oven at 325 for the next 45 minutes or so. After the brownies come out, I'm going to stand around the open oven door like it's a cozy campfire.

The children are cleaning--I had better go check on that. Last time I saw Bobby he was holding the broom like a baseball bat.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Not enough time

I have spent probably the last couple of days at turkeyfeathers checking out all the links to other blogs, and it's amazing! I feel like I'm bursting with creative energy, and yet I can't find enough time to let it out. My quilting project has to wait until the kids are in bed--and sometimes I don't feel like working on crafts at 8:00pm. At least with no new TV shows to watch, I'm more likely to haul out the sewing machine. But still, I haven't begun to wrap up the quilt project, and I'm trying like hell to make myself finish before I go get distracted with a new project. And I'm having a heck of a time choosing the next direction--do I continue sewing? Try my hand at embroidery? Or take up knitting? (seriously--I have been thinking about this waaay too much) Maybe I should get the kids started making valentines for their classmates. That usually takes a couple of weekends...what to make? Better stock up on glue sticks!

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Boy, that internets sure does have a lot of information! I'm giving myself carpal tunnel because I keep finding all sorts of neat places to check out. People are so creative--I just love looking at all their creations! Here's one I discovered yesterday afternoon. She does such marvelous stuff--it makes me want to start sewing tote bags for everything.

Last night I was ready to start finishing my quilts (if that makes any sense). After a couple of tries, it was obvious that my method wasn't going to work, so I quit for the night. This morning, I've been online looking for instructional videos on how to finish quilts, and I hit the jackpot. I can see that I've been going about it all wrong. I know, I know, if I'd done this research last week, I could be done by now, but I was all fired up to start the project. No permanent damage has been done, and I should be able to finish them up fairly easily. I love the internet!

And now I need to check the calendar to see who will be the lucky recipient of a birthday tote bag (you know, when I get around to making them--in my spare time!).

Friday, January 25, 2008

A couple books, but no new novel

pretty much sums up my outing to the public library this afternoon. I actually want to read The Golden Compass, but there weren't any copies in today. So...I checked out a couple of books about sewing. Yes, I know how to sew straight lines, but the couple of times I tried making clothes ended in disaster. I have found a couple of clothing patterns that interest me, so I figured if I started reading up now, maybe I'd have more success later when I try to make clothes again. I'm also hoping that I can be a wee bit more patient with the sewing this time around--I'm a few years older, maybe I've mellowed ever so slightly (?).

Half-day madness

It's a half-day today at school, which for me means that I get to pick up Caitlin at her usual time (11:10) and then turn around and go get Caroline at 11:55. Bobby has school this afternoon, so it'll be just us girls for a couple of hours. I think we're going to go to the library. I'm desperately in need of a good novel. I'm giving up on Tipperary (plus it's due next week, damn those 14 day loaners!).

I haven't been really buckling down with Tipperary because I've been spending my evenings sewing. I decided to make quilts for the girls' new dolls--those American girl dolls. They've been "sleeping" on the girls' nightstand, and Caroline has been covering hers with an old baby blanket. That upsets Caitlin because Caroline will not share the blanket (even though it's plenty big enough--it's the principle of the thing--you do not share with your sister!). So, I decided to make them quilts. Of course, I've never sewed a quilt before...but I'm doing just straight lines (which I'm pretty good at), and so far, they're coming out really cute! I'm also making one for Bobby for his monkey webkin--gotta be fair! These are going to be Valentine's day presents for the kids. I'm trying to stem the tide of unnecessary toys and crap, so we're going homemade for a few holidays.

Caroline is already asking for the new American Girl doll (Mia--available only this year! Hurry and buy it now!) and for a DS for her birthday--which is in June. She started this a couple of weeks ago. You know, right after Christmas. Sigh. Honestly, I'd rather get her the doll than a video game thing. She would just vanish into a cave of sedentariness (is that a word?) with a video game. Of course, I'd rather she want something that cost $25 instead of $100. I've told her how much they each cost. I'm hoping that after a few more months of this, I'll be able to say to her, "your father and I will spend $xxx on your birthday present this year. Which one do you want more?" I'm sure she'll come up with a few more big-ticket items to put on her list by then--she also comes home from the neighbor's house begging for a Wii at least twice a little time, so much crap.

Next week, the Girl Scout Cookies arrive! Caroline and I will be donning our snowsuits and heading out to a local Wal-Mart near you to whore out the cookies. Please buy a box, it's hard to keep a seven year old motivated when she can't feel her toes!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Springing into action

So, you know that I'm trying to "be the change" this year--and not just for avoiding celebrity smut. Over the weekend we watched An Inconvenient Truth again. That movie just gets me fired up! And think about how frustrated poor Al Gore must get if I'm getting frustrated by global warming.

Anway, I've just fired off two emails that may get me branded as the Treehugger Mom, but hey, I look good in my Birkenstocks (*wink*)! My first email was to the school prinicipal to propose a no-idle rule at the school for kindergarten parents. I've gotten to school as early as ten minutes before the kids even come outside and seen parents lined up in their cars, exhaust streaming from the tailpipes. Yes, I know it's cold, but aren't you wearing a coat anyway? And how much are you paying for gas? Are you all made of money?

Then, my second email was to the Home and School association (like PTA--only different letters) to suggest a new fundraiser for next year. In addition to our big money-maker gift wrap fundraiser (don't even get me started on how environmentally wrong all that throw-away paper is--I still buy a few rolls), the school usually sells these coupon books for local attractions and stores. It's kinda like the Entertainment books, only not as good. But Bobby's preschool sells it too, so I usually don't buy one at all. I have suggested we sell reusable shopping bags as a fundraiser.

I have no idea what to expect for either of my proposals, but at least I'm giving it a shot, so yay for me (positive reinforcement--it's not just for kids!)!

All over the map today

I could write about numerous things today, but I know time is growing short for me--I'm down to one hour to shower and dress before we have to pick up Caitlin, so it's a quick trip through my thoughts this morning.

First, I was pissed at the lady at the sign-in desk at the elementary school this morning! Today Caroline had to bring in her project--she (we) made a chickee (a Seminole dwelling). Granted, I put it in a shoebox to make it easier to carry, and Caroline was carrying it just fine, but I was worried about her tripping and sending the thing flying. (I have developed an irrational fear that the glue will suddenly give way--and she'd be left with a pile of sticks.) Plus, I just wanted to go with my kid to her class--is that such a bad thing? But nooooo, the lady at the desk decreed (after I got my visitor sticker on and was heading to the class) that if Caroline could carry it by herself, I couldn't go. Hmpf.

Next, I'm a little excited for my little man. I've just signed Bobby up for tee-ball! How cute is that gonna be! This is his first sport activity, and I'm just tickled to death. I may feel differently once we're into the middle of the season--having to drag along unwilling older sisters, etc. But for now, I'll just go with the excitement!

Finally, I have some reading to do. I really want to find a good novel (my latest pick, Tipperary, isn't going that well. I've decided it's like "Irish Forrest Gump!" And that's not a good thing.), but for now I'm going to settle with reading the various Democratic candidates' "Plans" for America. I read John Edwards' plan last week, and I really really liked what he had to say. Now I realize that he's unfortunately probably not going to get the nomination, so I'd best check out what the other two have to say and see if I can get inspired by either. I'm feeling Barack more than Hillary at this point, but I'm really feeling Edwards the most. Anyway, this is the first time I've really done research on any candidate--beyond just reading blurbs and quick-comparison sheets of candidates in magazines. I think this is the first Presidential election in my lifetime (since I've been old enough to vote) where I really feel how high the stakes are--for our country and for the world, and it's important to get it right. Having dumped that bit of stuff on you, I'm off to the showers!

Monday, January 21, 2008


I just ate lunch--and that's a big deal for me today. I spent most of yesterday in bed. When I wasn't sleeping, I was eating tasty white bread and praying it would stay put. It seems I caught some version of whatever fun virus is going around. Caitlin threw up last Sunday night, and Bobby threw up all over the kitchen table on Wednesday night, so it was just a matter of time before another family member began to show symptoms. But Caitlin and Bobby were really fine as soon as they were done vomiting--no fever, no other complaints--they weren't even really slowed down at all. I would have much preferred to barf once and get on with life instead of missing an entire day. On the upside, I did get to catch up on shows I never knew were on TV--like the one that follows the parking ticket people around Philadelphia, or the series about families that have more than 12 kids, or the Dilley sextuplets (I never even heard of them).

So, today I'm cleaning up and doing laundry--it's really no different from any other day. And Caroline and I are periodically working to finish her Native American project that is due tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

And now, Deep Thoughts...

After I dropped the girls off at school, Bobby and I had to drop off Rob's suit at the dry cleaners. We have a pick-up service, but it only works if you actually put the clothes out to be picked up, and I completely forgot to do that yesterday (never mind that the dry-cleaning bag has never been so full in the time we've used this service!).

Anyway, we were listening to the radio on our short drive to the cleaners, and wouldn't you know it, this radio station was doing their hourly celebrity smut/news segment. Today's report was all about Britney's latest court date. I wish I had changed the station. I'm really trying to cut out all this unnecessary "news" from my life. I don't care about Britney/Lindsay/Paris. I think Jamie Lynn's show should have been immediately pulled from the air. The powers that be--be it these girls themselves, the girls' parents, agents, or paparazzi--have turned these girls into role models for young America. And what awful role models they are! Do we want the new American dream to be "get your own TV show, shack up with your also-teenaged boyfriend, and get pregnant." Or how about "be an actor for a few years, party too much, go in and out of rehab--but be sure to go out shopping as soon as you leave rehab so the strangers with cameras can follow your every move--including the inevitable relapse."

This excessive paparazzi/tabloid coverage seems to be a chicken and egg thing: do they take all the pictures and publish all the tabloids because people really want this stuff, or do people just buy it because it's there at the checkout line every week? How could we break the cycle?

Do Americans really have nothing more to worry about than the current state of Brad and Angelina?

On Saturday night, we started watching The Queen. It's the movie in which Helen Mirren portrays Queen Elizabeth during the week that Princess Diana was killed. We stopped watching after about an hour. But in that hour, I was struck by the real interviews with mourners (the film intersperses real footage among the dramatized portions). These people were genuinely distraught. I'm not saying that Diana's death wasn't sad---most untimely deaths are sad--but the outpouring of grief seemed more appropriate for a family member or a close friend, not a public figure. Then, as the film showed the flowers accumulating at the palace gate, I began to get irritated. If these people thought Diana was such a great humanitarian, why not take the money they spent on flowers and donate that amount to one of her favorite charities? How much money could have been raised in that week?

On Sunday night, I watched a little of 60 Minutes as the children took their baths. Anderson Cooper was doing a story from the Congo. He was reporting on the rampant rape problem that plagues that country and its women. He ended the piece at a school. All of the students were women--most of them rape victims--and for most of them, this was their first formal educational experience. One woman, a rape victim who had been profiled in the story, was in the school with her infant daughter (a product of the eight months of constant rape she endured while held captive) and hoped to one day start her own business. Wow. My eyes were welling up with tears at the end of the story. The life these women have endured, and they're still smiling and hopeful. Don't my problems seem insignificant? And then CBS cut to commerical: Whiten your teeth faster with Crest White Strips!

Disconnect much?

Okay, I realize I'm getting very grumpy. I can see from my TV experience this weekend that people's priorities have been out of whack for quite some time, my own included. I can't make everyone stop buying the Star, or Us Weekly, but I can stop reading them in the checkout line. I can stop going to and I can stop watching Extra and Access Hollywood. I think letting go of the celebrity news crap will actually be pretty easy.

But the larger world issues are tougher. I can't solve the problems in the Congo, but I can think about them. I can try to be more mindful of the world's issues. I can get educated about them. I could give the money I'd spend on an InStyle magazine to a relief fund.

I think it's an American trait to want to tackle a problem head-on. Just bring all your resources to bear on a problem and get it done right away. But when the problem is something huge, like the Congo, that's not feasible. And the feeling that one person can't change the world is discouraging. So how to begin? Ghandi once said, "be the change you wish to see in the world." Those are great words to try to put into action.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Things overheard in my house in the last thirteen hours:

"Mooo-oooommmm, Caitlin pooped in the shooooow-errrr!"

"Mommy, the dog is bothering me. I threw up in my bed, and he's eating the puke."

Needless to say, Caitlin did not go to school today. She has no fever, no real complaints--in other words, this was probably an isolated incident, but I have to keep her out anyway.

So it's 8:30, and I'm already on my second load of laundry today. Awesome!

And it didn't snow last night. I am disappointed. Rob could probably go for years without seeing snow, but I do not feel that way. I grew up in South Carolina, and snow was a very rare occurrence, and thus a very big deal. I still get excited at the prospect. Now that we've moved to Pennsylvania, I think we're just a few miles too far inland to really get those good nor'easters that we sometimes got in New Jersey. I don't like being on this side of the rain-snow line! I am sure that if I hadn't gone out and bought snow boots for Bobby and Caroline last week that we'd be buried in it is only January. February usually has a few chances for snow.

Wishing you happy winter thoughts today! Stay well!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

So, yesterday I went shopping here, and I bought eggs, bacon, some filets and some other stuff. I think the greatest part of my excursion was the chickens roaming the parking lot when I pulled in. Call me strange, but I find chickens to be both tasty and hilarious. And when I was driving away, I passed several other farms. One farm's sign said "American Bison", and damn if I didn't look up and see one standing right next to the fence! That doesn't happen every day. I think the most disturbing part of my venture into semi-rural Pennsylvania was how development is encroaching everywhere. I'd drive by a barn, and over the next hill I could see three developments. The developments looked like eyesores!

This morning we had farm-fresh bacon and scrambled eggs. Pretty tasty! Tonight I'll get my first taste of locally-raised grass fed beef.

Today we went bowling. I bowled a rock-solid 85. I just kill, don't I? For the life of me, I cannot figure out how I continue to be so bad at rolling a ten pound ball down a lane. As we finished our game, the disco lights were turned on. Wow, did I wonder where the time went--I remember when we used to go midnight bowling--with disco lights and pitchers of beer.

This has been a random post, I know, but I'm trying to organize my thoughts while the kids swing from the rafters. It's supposed to snow tonight and tomorrow. That should be fun--we haven't really had any decent snowfall so far this season.

Friday, January 11, 2008

New Year, Old-Fashioned Thoughts

Most years, I "resolve" to keep it up at the gym and to try to eat more fish. Ditto for 2008. It's not really a formal resolution, just some ideas I try to keep in mind.

This year, things are ... well, different, I guess. You may recall from an earlier posting that I want to try shopping at "sustainable" farms--I'm afraid that word is going to become as overused (and abused) as "green." I want the foods I eat to be as unadulterated as possible.

I feel like the Christmas season has become an orgy of unrestrained spending--and this year I did try to pull back on the amount of stuff the kids received. And yet, on December 25, each child had a stack of presents to open. In response to the overspending, I'm now trying like hell not to spend. It sucks. I love shopping. I love buying things on sale. I love telling my husband how much a certain item was originally, and how much I paid for it. And how much money I saved, and how I was able to use that "saved" money to buy something else!

Before Christmas, I received one of those postcards from some organization offering to pick up my unwanted stuff. I've been going through the house bagging up stuff for collection next week. And so much of it is stuff--why do we need all of this crap?

My daughters received American Girl dolls for Christmas. They're pretty expensive, but I like how they represent different time periods in American history. Each girl also has a series of books (also available for purchase!), and we've checked out several from the library in the last few weeks. Caitlin received the Molly doll--she's from 1944, and her father is serving in England (he's a doctor--they'd never have someone in actual combat *eye roll*). Anyway, Molly's family has to make do often--things are scarce, food is rationed. I've been looking through some of Molly's stories. She and the girl from the Depression (her name is Kit) interest me because they came from a time when we all pretty much had to make do with less.

Last Friday, I drove Caroline and a classmate of hers to their Brownie meeting. The classmate has an older sister, and this classmate proceeded to tell Caroline all about how she needed to watch Zoey 101 tonight and how Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant and she's only 16. I was cringeing in the driver's seat. Caroline has no idea who Jamie Lynn Spears is, and probably had no idea that mommies can be 16. She certainly has no idea about how babies are made. And I'd like to keep it that way for a few more years, thank you very much! I told Rob about it. He was not happy either.

I decided to try some counter-programming. On Saturday night, I broke out Little House on the Prairie. Caroline received it for Christmas last year, but we hadn't really watched it. This year, all the kids were into it. They watched two episodes in a row and were begging to watch another one. That's more like it. Now the girls want me to read the books to them--see, they were confused when I explained that Molly and Felicity (their American girls) were not real people, and they were thrilled to learn that Laura Ingalls was a real person.

My little brain has been busy mulling all of this over and wondering how to act on my thoughts. Where to begin? How to really simplify? And what exactly do I mean by simplify? How do we convince ourselves that we really need less? I'll keep you posted as I come up with strategies and solutions...and I'm always open to ideas. Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Back to the grind

It's Thursday night already--now that the kids are back in school, the clock has picked up speed again. Yesterday was their first day back and boy, was it a doozie. Wednesdays are always crazy, what with the two dance classes. I had to set the alarm so we'd be up at a decent time. Nobody in the house has seen seven a.m. since Christmas day! We've all been sleeping until after eight--a minor miracle. The last couple of mornings have been rough.

I took down all the Christmas decorations today. Now the house looks naked, like when I was in school and the teachers took down all the classroom stuff at the end of the year. Of course, the stores are all fully stocked with Valentine's Day goodies already, so we could go ahead and buy candy for the next holiday! It's ridiculous!

Maybe over the weekend I'll have time to ruminate on my lack of resolutions...or maybe I'll get out to one of those sustainable farms I've been looking into!

Happy New Year!