Monday, June 30, 2008

Mighty Hunters

All the rain this past weekend made the worms easy pickings for the birds. It was almost creepy.

More Memory Than They Counted On

The kids have established “going around the block” as their regular route for riding trikes.

Well, Leah pedals her trike, but Ben really just rides while Mom or Dad pushes. Sometimes he’ll go Flintstone-style, but he’s got us figured out and enjoys working the system, getting a free ride at a much faster pace than his own. He’s even exploring standing on the little foot rest while we push, or standing on the seat itself. I predict that this is not the last summer that his knees will be covered in scabs.

Our block is extra big because of a “elderly care facility” about 4 doors down from us. It and its facilities make up half the block.
The first time we explored this route, Leah noticed that there were little signs under some of the trees behind the elder-home. We stopped at each one so I could read them to her, and we continued home.

A few days later we were again making our way around the block, and as we approached the first of these trees, Leah sang out, “In loving memory of Donald Pete Bucholz!”
And this continued: “In loving memory of Grandma Irene Bucholz! In memory of Ruth Moll! In memory of Vera Bruebeck! In memory of George Thompson and Mary Thompson!”

I was shocked that she remembered these names so clearly, but apparently Aaron had done the same thing with her just the day before. It is now part of the ritual of our walk. She’ll check, “Is this the Brubeck or the Moll one?” and has me read the “In memory of…and in honor of…” at the Thompson tree. Just to be sure she gets it perfectly correct.
I wonder if those families knew that when they dedicated a tree in the memory of their loved one, that they were also committing them to the memory of a 4 year old girl and her mother.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Slacker Saturday

Lipstick in School

Thanks, Tara!

According to a news report, a certain private school in Washington was recently faced with a unique problem. A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom.

That was fine but after they put on their lipstick, they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints. Every night the maintenance man would remove them, and the next day the girls would put them back.

Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night (you can just imagine the yawns from the little princesses).

To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required.

He took out a long-handled squeegee.......dipped it in the toilet........and cleaned the mirror with it.

Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

There are teachers and then there are educators.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Shabby Chic

Recently I heard that someone was surprised that I buy my kids clothes at garage sales. Apparently, this person can’t see anything WRONG with that, but can’t bring herself to dress her own child in such a fashion.

Poor girl.

She’ll never know the joy of finding a cute outfit for a quarter of the new price, or better yet, a quarter. Her kids will have to settle for the 3 toys that come in a package at the store those few times a year, rather than getting something new every week, like my kids. (Seriously, they think garage sales are like Christmas…in fact, last year, most of their Christmas gifts were FROM garage sales.)

She’ll also have lots of tears as she watches her kid eat or play in that outfit off of which she just took the tags. It will never look as pristine again.

I LOVE to go to garage sales. Maybe not as much as my friend Crystal, but more than the average mom, I’m sure. I love the rush of getting an item for next to nothing, and I love hauling into the house bags of stuff after spending so little.

Also, I really love being able to give my kids new toys and books for no reason and not worry about the cost. Last weekend, I got Leah 4 new puzzles (24 pieces each – the perfect size for her) for $1 each. She also got a fantastic ABC puzzle/game, which has only piece missing out of at least 78. That’s a pretty good track record for any puzzle, new or otherwise, after it’s been in the house for a week.

In addition, the kids got a stack of cool books, a swimsuit & hat for Leah, and a couple outfits, winter outfit and pjs for Ben. Aaron thought the winter outfit (one piece fleece) and pjs (3 piece set) looked worn, but I assured him that those fabrics would look that way after having been washed twice anyway.

Another benefit of second-hand clothes, no matter the source, is that you are less likely to be emotionally attached to them (unless, of course, it was a SUPER good deal) so you are then less likely to hold onto them forever. Kick those suckers out at YOUR next sale!

Speaking of, it’s become my habit to have, or contribute to, a garage sale right away in the spring. Then, the cash I make there (between $80-$200) goes in a baggie as my funds for buying “more useless junk” as Aaron says when he’s trying to get me worked up. He doesn’t argue too much, though – he knows how much I’m saving on the kids clothes alone.

Of course, we’re still debating over whether or not they really NEED all the clothes I find for them.

Since the kids were with me last weekend, most of my “shopping” revolved around them. When I’m with adults only, I like to look through the random piles of miscellany. You never know what you’re going to find, and that’s almost all of the fun. I am also the one who buys crayons & markers at garage sales. I’m a little type A (as I may have mentioned before) and it really bothered me to see Leah breaking her crayons. Not anymore! Go ahead, honey, drop them on the floor as much as you like – that whole bag was 50 cents!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Trying to Prevent Unsightly Piles

Actually, that could be my mantra as I prepare to set up housekeeping in my new house. I know that every house has it's problem areas, but I'm going to confess mine here to keep me accountable:

1) Kitchen counter/phone area. In our old house, this was desperately needed space. In the new house, there's so much counter that if things start to get stacked up, we could be in serious trouble.

Mostly I want to get really organized in the desk area of the kitchen. Put hanging files in a drawer, something. Anything.

2) Computer hutch. This became a graveyard for items that were shuffled from the kitchen counter. You know, those things that don't have an official home? This has got to change. I got a good start on it before we moved. Now it's just maintaining it.

Also, we are considering putting our desktop on the desk in the kitchen. It was in the hutch in the guest room - totally wouldn't work in the new house. This way we'd actually use it, and the laptop could be more mobile. This change would require the assorted disks/ink cartridges/paper to be stored in a useful way.

3) Laundry room. This is a big necessity now because the "laundry room" is right off the kitchen, instead of way down in the basement. The laundry room used to contain:

a box for future garage sale items, usually overflowing
my "craft" cabinet - not scrapbooking, but everything else. Sewing, fabric, kids stuff...
pantry - bulk items or back ups (of spaghetti sauce & tomato soup, usually)
rarely used cleaning supplies
oh, and the laundry stuff

Garage sale and cleaning can go downstairs, and the food will fit in my cabinets in the kitchen, I hope! The craft items I'm not sure about.

4) Scrapbooking station. Previously this was a folding buffet table with my bags piled around and under. Worked great. a big messy pile. We are blessed with a new house with lots of living space, but it doesn't have a "craft" room, where I could have my scrapbooking stuff ready to use anytime. Which is the only way I'll do it, you know.

Even though I've already got the software to start scrapbooking digitally, Aaron's afraid that it will make our laptop crash, and we're procrastinating. I'll probably still do traditional scrapbooking anyway, at least in our yearly family album.

So I'm thinking about getting two pieces of furniture that will allow me to store AND use my scrapbooking materials in the family room.

This one would be the main storage piece. And this one would be the workspace, and also a game table/extra seating for entertaining.

How do you keep craft/hobby materials both tidy and useable? Or, how do you keep your counters cleared? Does anybody actually manage this?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Already an Addict

Have you seen the skeeter counts for this area? Apparently the count in the mosquito traps (I have no idea how they do this, by the way) jumped from 24 to 200 something. Which basically means all those T-shirts about being carried away by super-sized stingers may actually be true.

My kids had matching bites on the necks, right on the hairline. So I whipped out my secret weapon: Target's No-Itch (clear) lotion. This was recommended by a friend last summer. Apparently there is a numbing agent in it, so it's not just a psychological thing. It actually works.

And now my daughter is addicted to it.

The up-side of her developing Type-A personality is that she adheres to a routine, once it's established. Wait, did I say that was a good thing? Let's just say it depends on the situation.

And in THIS situation, it means that as soon as a mosquito bite starts to itch, she demands to have lotion put on it. Which means I'm carrying this bottle in my purse 24/7, and she woke me up at 2am to put some on her arm. "No, not there, Mommy, HERE."

She's also very diligent about being "sprayed" with our standard spray, Deep-Woods Off. This is a good thing, except I haven't been putting it on her face. And now tonight at bath time she asks, "Mommy, do I have a bump (bite) on my forehead?" Um, yeah. Two. And one in the corner of her eye by her nose. The magic lotion is in the bathroom waiting for the wake-up call.

Ben? He's not so into it. He doesn't trust me. Just wait until those skeeters start lifting him off the ground. THEN we'll see who he comes running to.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's better if it's stolen.

We had a lovely family dinner last night at the Texas Roadhouse, which went very well, until we sat down in our booth. At that point, our children promptly turned into animals. It didn't help that Aaron had arrived first (on his scooter) and ordered the kids specialty drinks - a cherry limeade and a Strawberry Cowboy cooler? The man has been a dad for FOUR years. Has he learned nothing? Our kids usually get chocolate milk or lemonade at restaurants. These red drinks just made them nuts.
And did someone say nuts? Texas Roadhouse has peanuts at the tables instead of popcorn or chips, thank goodness. I'd much rather have my kids fill up on something with some nutritional content. But between the drinks and peanuts, the kids ate about two bites of their dee-licious steak & mini-burgers. One kids meal would have been plenty for both.
Poor Ben was so tired (we'd been at a park beforehand) he was laying his head on his arm:
And then he was so nice and actually posed for me!

During the course of the meal, Ben decided that he enjoyed Leah's peanuts much better than his own. Also, he was eating at about twice the speed of Leah (typical).

I predict this boy will be a master of manipulation - he already does a pretty good job with his mom - and even the sister being robbed wasn't too upset. The sign of a true genius.

ps - the outfit was a gift and has shorts of the same fabric. Be nice.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Slacker Saturday

Forwarded BEFORE the election year. No offense intended to Democrats, Republicans, Muslims, or Southerners.

Are you a Democrat, a Republican, or a Southerner?

Here is a little test that will help you decide. The answer can be found by posing the following question: You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, an Islamic terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, praises Allah, raises the knife, and charges at you. You are carrying a Glock cal40,and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reachesyouand your family. What do you do?............................................................. THINK CAREFULLY AND THEN SCROLL DOWN

Democrat's Answer: Well, that's not enough information to answer the question! Does the man look poor or oppressed? Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?Could we run away? What does my wife think? What about the kids? Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out ofhis hand? What does the law say about this situation?Does the Glock have appropriate safety built into it? Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children? Is it possible he'd be happy with just killing me? Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me? If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me? Should I call 9-1-1? Why is this street so deserted? We need to raise taxes, have paint and weed day and make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior. This is all so confusing! I need to debate this with some friends for a few days and try to come to a consensus.

Republican's Answer: BANG!

Southerner's Answer: BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!BANG! Click..... (Sounds of reloading)BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!BANG! Click
Daughter: "Nice grouping, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver Tips or Hollow Points?"
Son: "Can I shoot the next one?"
Wife: "You ain't taking that to the Taxidermist."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Medium: Pen & Ink

My kids are very well behaved. In general, I mean. Of course they whine, fight, complain, and disobey on a regular basis, just like every normal kid out there, but still. I can take them into a store without a cart and leave with my sanity intact. Assuming of course that I'm not in a hurry, the store isn't packed, and Aaron is with me.

They really don't do very naughty things...yet. We haven't had any scissors incidents, or pushing anyone off of high furniture, or anything like that. Leah did use a bunch of my scrapbooking stickers once, without permission, but really, it wasn't too big of a deal. I realized that after the blinding flash behind my eyes dissapated.

However. Both children seem to have a weakness for pens.

About a week after we brought Ben home from the hospital, when Leah was not quite 2 years old, she found a purple Sharpie marker. And those Sharpies are permanent, ya'all. Fortunately she did not use the heirloom bassinet skirt (which we were borrowing from friends) as her canvas, but instead chose her own body, like so many (tattoo) artists today. Specifially, her pants, hands, and face. Amazingly it came right off of her skin. Not so for the pants, which, fortunately for ME, was half of a brand new garage-sale outfit. (I would include a photo...maybe another day, when I know where things are.)

UNfortunately, her artistry did not stop there. She also wanted to decorate her favorite new toys, the babies that came with her Big-Sister Dora doll, which I'd given her in the hospital when she first met Ben. I was particulary peeved about this, because I rarely buy her honest-to-goodness new toys, and this one was one I'd been planning for awhile. The babies are solid plastic, but the purple "accents" (including all four eyes being completely covered) did not come off easily, even with rubbing alcohol. The stains have now turned a faint pink.

Ben had his first experience with true naughtiness yesterday while Aaron and I were both otherwise occupied getting ready for our days. Leah has a dot-to-dot game that includes a dry erase marker. And Ben tried it out, using the off-white carpet in the living room as his canvas. And it's a flat-type carpet, which means it worked REALLY WELL as a canvas. We're talking five or six big swipes right in the middle of the room.

Most of the marks came out with just water, but we bought some fancy carpet cleaner too. And still, if you look really hard, you can tell where they are. So we may try something else, but I'm really hoping that the first carpet we replace isn't in our temporary house.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's like riding a bike.

Aaron came home from running errands to today all excited about a new idea: buying a bike. Since our new house is almost too close to work for him to drive his scooter (it's supposed to warm up for 2 minutes, and that's about how long it would take him to bike) and his mountain bike is about 11 years old, he thought he'd buy a cruiser bike that I could also ride if we all wanted to ride somewhere.

One problem: I haven't been on a bike in years, and it had been possibly decades until that last time. After which my rear hurt for three days.

I learned how to ride a bike while living in Imperial Valley, a little housing development in Bismarck. The neighborhood is a big circle with duplexs (or twinhomes, if you prefer) all the way around, and just a big empty field in the middle. And folks, there were kids aplenty. The field was covered with bike trails and jumps, pitholes and little forts. Heaven. Especially if you happened to be a 6 year old boy, like my brother Dave.

My first bike was pink and white with a banana seat. I rode it around to friends' houses and stuff, but was never too adventurous.

And then we moved to the farm.

Scoria roads (you know, those pink roads in Western ND) and bicycles do not mix, apparently. Brother Dave had become quite the biker, and I had not, but I was still horrified to discover one year that he got a new bike for his birthday. I think Mom said something like,"But he RIDES HIS BIKE! And he can take it into town to ride with his friends!" Which to me sounded like: "You don't have any friends to ride with anyway!"

That was the last time I sat on a bike until Aaron and I lived in Rochester. And my rear hurt for three days. Did I mention that already?

After dinner tonight, we took the kids down to Island Park Cycles. We had some good help from employee Asa, who also talked to the kids while Aaron and I rode a couple bikes around their parking lot. This is the one we liked best, but we're not rushing into anything yet. Personally, I'm waiting to hear from my two brothers, who are as close to biking experts as I know.

The kids had to try out bikes of their own, and Ben managed to climb all on his one onto a lime green two-wheeler with training wheels. He also ripped a helmet out of its box and insisted on trying it on.

Leah does pedal her trike and even steers pretty well by now, but Ben is too little yet for his trike, but he motors right along Flintstone style. He likes to cruise down the driveway and make a quick little left turn onto the sidewalk. Which is why he is soon going to be wearing a helmet, too.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

This is for BIL Tim. You know why.

This dude has the voice of a 250 lb., 40 year old African-American, instead of a scrawney red-headed 22 year old. Go figure.

Dream Guy

What a Zoo.

As if yesterday weren't enough, today we met three other moms at a zoo about an hour away. All the moms are friends of mine, but none have kids that are really Leah's buddies, so we borrowed one. Best Frenemy M rode along with us for the fun.

Leah and M chattered on about "clumps of trees" and "castles" (farmhouses!) along the interstate for most of the drive. At one point, I heard this conversation:

M: I'm going to be in heaven someday.
Leah: No, you're not.
M: Yes I am! My dad told me so last night.
Leah: Well, boys are usually wrong. (!!!! Not sure where she got this...Aaron's sure it's because I always argue with him, but I think she was just trying to make her case...)

Me: Leah! That's not true! And, M means that because she believes in Jesus she'll be in heaven someday, right M?
M: Yes.
Leah: Well, I've never heard anything like that before.

That's where I gave up. Folks, she has just had a FULL WEEK of that message at Vacation Bible School. Not to mention Bible stories every night at bedtime, etc, etc. She's a stubborn, stubborn girl, who will not give up an argument. Wonder where she gets that.

The Zoo was a total success and included a ride on a carousel, tigers, spider monkeys, the girls petting a miniature horse, a picnic lunch, bison, ducks, and zebras.

Ben was asleep in the van before we got to the Interstate again, and M fell asleep about half way home. Right after we dropped her off, Leah (who had stayed away somehow) and I had this conversation:

Leah: I don't have anyone to play with!
Me: Are you KIDDING? You got to play with friends yesterday, and you just got to play with M ALL MORNING!
Leah: But I never...(this is usually followed by "get to do anything fun" or "anything I want to do" but she knew better, and I cut her off...and may or may not have slapped her leg.)
Me: Don't even. We have done nothing but fun stuff all day yesterday and today. Now knock it off and go to sleep.

Which she did. Both kids were sleeping when we got home, and then slept for an hour (Ben) and an hour and a half (Leah).

Ahhh. Another successful day.

ps... Ben's new words: Bike, boat, hat, hot. Oh, and crocs. You know, the shoes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Fair-ly Good Day

Today was Kid's Day at the Red River Valley Fair, and since that included photos with Dora and a performance by a local favorite, Penny & Pals, we headed out. Here is what I did that was smart: I fed the kids an early lunch at home, at which they both ate lasagna. After that, I didn't really care what else they ate at the fair.

Even before meeting Dora, we got for free:
ice cream
stickers for Leah
a ball for Ben (which is now lost in the back yard somewhere, courtesy of me)
handshakes from THREE different mascots in costume (of which we discovered Ben is terrified)
a reusable shopping bag
face painting for Leah (which lasted until bathtime tonight!)
balloons for the kids (which blew away shortly after leaving the building)

THEN, the folks sponsoring Dora were also giving out bags of animal cookies and bottles of water.

This was an awesome event.

We found a chair for the Penny & Pals show, and ended up visiting with several friends as they came through the Dora line. At the table across from us, I thought I spotted a high school classmate, D. D and I were not particularly good friends (I wasn't really good friends with anyone in my class!) but we were at similar levels in the social ranking. So I sat there deliberating whether or not I should say anything.

Penny was great, as always. There were several groups of daycare kids there, and as one group(seated directly in front of us) left, the kids, all school aged, left behind several ice cream cups and spoons, and a decent sized puddle of melted ice cream on the floor. This really irritated me. Those kids were plenty old enough to take care of their own stuff on their own, and if they forgot, their "care providers" could have reminded them. Space was at a premium, and no one wanted to sit there, thanks to their mess. So I sat Ben on my seat and gathered up the garbage. After checking on them, I ran to the bathroom for paper towels and cleaned up the melted puddle, too.

And here's what else bothered me. Neither of the other moms seated in front of and behind the mess even registered that I had done anything. They were the ones most directly affected (one child was inches from getting sticky) and there wasn't even a glance of acknowledgement. I understand why they didn't clean it up themselves - they probably didn't want to get arrested. But they could have said thanks. Right?

After Penny, I finally scraped my courage together and went to talk to D. Her first husband, right out of high school, was killed in a car accident only a few years later, but she has since remarried and is expecting her 2nd child with her 2nd husband. That will make 4 kids, with the oldest being 12. It was interesting seeing her again, and it appears that she is very happy.

It was a good snob check for me, because I guess I thought she'd be living on welfare or something, being miserable. And she's really not. It's really ironic that I have this attitude about my classmates, since one reason I didn't like them is because they treated me this exact same way - with pity. That, alternating with open mocking. I may be a little bitter.

The rest of the day included a petting zoo, racing pigs, funnel cake, and two rides for Leah. Total cash output: $13.

Ben fell asleep on the way home and slept for over an hour.
And THAT, folks, is the sign of a successful day out.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The End of My Youth

Friends, my Youth did not end with the birth of my first child. It didn't end with the birth of my second child. My 30th birthday last summer did not signal the death toll, even.

What was the final blow?

Finding my first gray hair, Friday the 13th at 6:30pm. The offending hair was finally isolated and removed the next morning.

Here are the things that have ended, along with my youth. (Many of these have been long gone, but now I have to finally admit it.)

Being mistaken for a high schooler.
Being mistaken for a 7th grader.
Feeling like I look like a teenage single mom pushing my kids through Walmart.
Shopping at Maurices, Vanity, and American Eagle.
Looking through the "Juniors" racks at TJ Maxx.
Wearing plaid shorts (actually never have, but am convinced they are only made for twiggy teenagers)
Eating chocolate at 9:30pm. (this is more like a goal...)

This new shade of hair prompted a friend to give the following advice, "Start saving your money...those coloring get expensive." But I'm not sure that's the route I want to take. I mean, I'm not going to start dyeing for ONE HAIR. But 50? Hmmm.....

I've known ladies who dye their hair, and some of them end up aging about 20 years when their husbands stand next to them...because you KNOW they don't have a 20 year age difference, but that's what they look like...poor guys.

Mom had a very distinct gray accent over her forehead, just one chunk, which Dad always insisted was very chic. Gradually her hair became about 50% gray, but after her chemo (she is a breast cancer survivor) it grew in all gray. Mom never fought it, never dyed it or really freaked out at all...she's not the type to let her beauty routine get in the way of getting her hands dirty.

I'm hoping that I mature as gracefully. Thanks for your good genes, Mom.

Slacker Saturday IV

a) For those with no children - this is totally hysterical!
b) For those who already have children past this age, this is> hilarious.
c) For those who have children this age, this is not funny.
d) For those who have children nearing this age, this is a warning.
e) For those who have not yet had children, this is birth control.

The following came from an anonymous Mother in Austin, Texas...
Things I've learned from my Boys (honest and not kidding):

1.) A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 sq. ft. house 4 inches deep.
2.) If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite. 3.) A 3-year old boy's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.
4.) If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20x20 ft. room.
5.) You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.
6.) The glass in windows (even double-pane) doesn't stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.
7.) When you hear the toilet flush and the words "uh oh", it's already too late.
8.) Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.
9.) A six-year old boy can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36-year old Man says they can only do it in the movies.
10.) Certain Lego's will pass through the digestive tract of a 4-year old boy.
11.) Play dough and microwave should not be used in the same sentence.
12.) Super glue is 4-ever.
13.) No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can't walk on water.
14.) Pool filters do not like Jell-O.
15). VCR's do not eject "PB & J" sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.
16.) Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.
17.) Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.
18.) You probably DO NOT want to know what that odor is.
19.) Always look in the oven before you turn it on; plastic toys do not like ovens.
20.) The fire department in Austin, TX has a 5-minute response time.
21.) The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy.
22.) It will, however, make cats dizzy.
23.) Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.
24.) 80% of Men who read this will try mixing the Clorox and brake fluid.
25.) Women will pass this on to almost all of their friends, with or without kids.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I like to be a winner, too!

Carmen at Mom to the Screaming Masses is doing a week of giveaways this month, including three books. And folks, this one was tailor-made for me.

Because what was the second book on the list?

Mr. Knightley's Diary - Jane Austen's Emma from Mr. K's point of view. I know! Sweet, huh?

And I WON IT! No, skeptics, I didn't have to send my credit card number. Just my address, which since it's going to change in a month and this blogger is very reputable, (you know how you tell your kids when they're lost to find a mom? Well, she's got like six kids. She's pretty safe.) I'm okay with!

Oh wait, there's a catch. You have to pass the book on. So my Austen-loving book club buddies, get prepared to bribe me. I accept baked goods.

Better yet, maybe I should do like Carmen and make you leave a comment saying you'd like it. I'll have Leah draw the lucky name out of a hat and send it to you.

But I'd still like some cookies.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

going BUMP in the night

Early this morning I was awakened by loud thunder...AND sirens heading towards the hospital. Yay. I will be so glad to move to our new quiet little neighborhood. Of which, surprisingly, many residents of this town are unaware. It's a very cool little loop around a 9-hole golf course - cool because all the houses are different. Sizes, shapes, decades, you name it. Very fun.

But I digress.

Aaron and I were hanging out here the other evening, and heard a strange crash/smooshing sound. I was on the phone, but I did check the kitchen, and nothing seemed to be out of place.

Later I went downstairs to switch loads of laundry, and there I discovered the source of our odd noise. Apparently our dryer does quite a bit of shaking while it does its job, because it had shaken the bottle of liquid detergent right off the top. And when it hit the floor, the top broke right off, so there was a clean-smelling blue puddle on the concrete floor.

I started mopping it up with a paper towel, and that's when I had a genius idea. I grabbed a nearby dust pan and started shoveling up the goop and pouring it back into the bottle. It worked great, and if I really had wanted to, I could have reused that detergent. But I didn't.

Paper towels easily cleaned up the rest, and you can't even tell anything happened.

This reminded me of other odd "we weren't even in the room!" occurrences:

1. As part of our Christmas decorations, we had some blue and silver glass bulbs in a tall glass vase (for example) half-filled with water. This vase sat very happily on top of our 13" (and only, at the time) TV for several weeks.

And then one night, while Aaron and I were in the other room, we heard a crash that could have woken the dead. On investigation, we found, of course, that the vase had fallen off of the TV. There was a slight decline on the top, and it must have been gradually heading down that slope until the perfect moment to make us both wet our pants.

2. Yet another night (these things seem to only happen when it's dark!) both of us were sharply awoken to yet another loud crash. I got up to check it out, and when I got into the kitchen, I found that a plastic photo collage had un-stuck itself from some of its magnets and fallen off the fridge, slapping onto our laminate floor. Such a small thing, but such a loud noise!

In our current house, the hardwood floors make almost everything sound like a cannon going off: Ben kicking his feet in his bed, Leah jumping out of bed (directly above the dining room light fixture with its glass globes), Aaron crutching over to get the newspaper, and just the other night, Leah dropping her sippy cup of water onto the floor at 2am. That, however, was easily fixed, unlike a mountain-fresh mess of blue goo.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Only in extreme circumstances.

Here are some things I just don't do. What brought this on, you ask? Well, until the other day, wearing Crocs-style shoes would be on there. But I recently bought a pair ($8 knock-offs), although I only intend to wear them around the house/yard.


1. Wear sweatpants in public. Yoga pants, maybe.
2. Wear my glasses in public. If you see me with them on, you are free to ask how I'm doing and if I'm planning on having Lasik.
3. Mow the lawn. Which is why I expect Aaron to give me lots of praise for the five or so times I've mowed our rental lawn while his knee is healing up.
4. Eat the fat on the edges of meat. I'm sorry if it offends you that I'm "wasting the best part" ahem, Dad, but go ahead and eat it yourself. I really don't mind.
5. Play tag.
6. Ride rollercoasters. I have before, so don't think I'm afraid of them. I just don't find feeling like I'm going to die very fun. I'll be happy to hold your bags while you ride. See you at the bottom.
7. Dress in sports attire unless I'm actually doing something sports-like. Others may be deceived into thinking that because I'm wearing sporty sunglasses or a "wicking" T-shirt I may actually be doing something athletic. The aforementioned yoga pants don't count, by the way, since they have transitioned into loungewear. At least at my house.
8. Floss. My dental hygenist has learned to accept it. Probably because I haven't had a filling since grade school, and even then it was only two.
9. Cut hair. It has to do a little with my hair phobia, but mostly it's because Aaron is very particular, and I'd rather hear him gripe about his haircutter lady (he hates the word "stylist") than me.
10. Leave the house without showering. Unless I'm heading to a garage-sale. That would be an extreme circumstance.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

And the best part is, I can go to garage sales again!

After looking at AT LEAST 57 houses - those are the ones for which we have info sheets- we have finally found one that's just about perfect!

It has:
One big open room, just waiting to have parties
NO formal dining room
An amazing kitchen, which includes:
a garbage drawer
a chopping block section of the counter
a cooktop in the island
a prep sink also in the island
an eating section of the island
oodles and oodles of cabinets (all with roll-out shelves) and countertop!
The dining area currently has a 10 person maple table in it, which was part of our initial offer, but was rejected by the owners. Because it was custom made for five THOUSAND dollars.
3 bedrooms upstairs
Master bedroom closet that may be turned into a bedroom in the future. No joking.
A huge yard.
With room for a swingset, sandbox, AND the waterslide. This is all Leah needed to know.
On a golf course. Aaron is already making plans for buying a golf cart to drive the 8 houses to the clubhouse.
Oh, this house is also 4 doors down from friends of ours, whose daughter is a good pal of Leah's.

We close July 11th, and oh boy! Are we excited!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Slacker Saturday the Third

Forwarded: Men Are Just Happier People

What do you expect from such simple creatures?

Your last name stays put.
The garage is all yours.
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack.
You can be President.
You can never be pregnant.
You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.
You can wear NO shirt to a water park.
Car mechanics tell you the truth.
The world is your urinal.
You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one isjust too icky.
You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
Same work, more pay.
Wrinkles add character.
Wedding dress - $5000. Tux rental -$100.
People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them.
The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected.
New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.
One mood all the time.
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
You know stuff about tanks.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
You can open all your own jars.
You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.
Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
You almost never have strap problems in public.
You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.
Everything on your face stays i! ts original color.
The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
You only have to shave your face and neck.
You can play with toys all your life.
Your belly usually hides your big hips.
One wallet and one pair of shoes one color for all seasons.
You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife.
You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier.

Friday, June 6, 2008

It's not easy being green.

Leah, yesterday while I was cleaning the kitchen: "When you run the water while you're doing something else, I'm pretty sure that's called wasting water."

Leah, today while eating corndogs for lunch: "I recently liked this inside part. I mean, I exactly like this inside part." Just now I had to go and ask her what she said, and she said, "I definitely like it?"

It's so refreshing having a serious conversation with Leah. For instance, she brought up this big topic today:
Leah: "Do you WANT to have another kid?"
Aaron: "What do you think, Leah, should we have another kid?"
Leah: "Yeah! I'd like to have a brother and sister."
Me: "What if we have another boy? Would you like to have two brothers?"
Leah: "Yeah! And what if we had THREE boys, and one girl? That would be silly."
Me: "Yep, that would be silly."
Leah: "What if we had 10 boys and 10 girls!"
I tried to explain the logistics of this being highly unlikely. Obviously Leah understood, because her next comment was: "What if we had ONE HUNDRED kids?"

Ben is talking a lot more, although not all the words are there. He especially chatters while in the van, and when that kid does get words, we're going to have to invest in earplugs. These are the things we are compelled to identify on a typical drive:

watertowers (BALL! - Anything round is automatically a ball. Especially those big red concrete things outside of Target.)

Also, on the drive back home from touring a neighborhood yesterday, he was fed up with his carseat and tried every trick in the book, all while holding a foot in the air with each hand. Of course, the enunciation is not quite there yet, but you get the drift:
"MA! MA"
"DA! DA!"
"UP! UP!"

Ben seems to be a lightening rod for negativity. If Aaron and I are arguing about something, no matter how benign, this is what happens, for instance:
Me: "Aaron, you're wrong!"
Aaron: "No, YOU are!"
Ben: Comes up and smacks one of us with his fist.
Me: "Ben, we've got it. You don't need to hit."

This is true no matter who the conflict is between - Ben just feels the need to express his own feelings about the situation, and the impulse control part of his brain is still pretty undeveloped.

Leah has impulse control issues as well, but as a typical female, hers appear to be more verbally focused.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I just want to be happy.

Apparently, not many of you are fans of romantic comedies. Well, here's why I AM.

I watch movies to be entertained. I don't want to feel depressed- or sad in general- when I'm done. I don't even really want to have to think too deeply.

Books are another thing. I'll read serious, in-depth novels, and avoid the chic-lit fluff almost entirely. (Except for Bridget Jones. And The Nanny Diaries.) I think it has to do with the time investment.

I like rom-coms BECAUSE they are predictable. But the best ones aren't TOO much so...I'm picky, see? Or, maybe you totally know what the general plot line is, but the characters grow and change a bit in the process, and become better, happier people. I like this insight into our humanity.

Here are a few of my favorites. All the Jane Austen and Shakespeare movies should go without saying, so I won't. And I'm no movie snob, so I'm not guaranteeing the quality. Just so you know.

Bridget Jones' Diary, natch.
The Cutting Edge - Came out during high school, and I swear I saw it 10 times - mostly at school, since it's pretty clean. It's got the formula of a classic romantic movie- meet, fight, fight some more, big kiss at the end. Aahh.
Hope Floats - I don't like the ending (not married/engaged? C'mon.) but Harry Connick Jr. is pretty great, and the soundtrack is awesome.
The Princess Bride - Classic. And completely quotable, if you're into that sort of thing.
50 First Dates - Not an Adam Sandler fan, but this one was so cute. I wish that darn Rob Schneider would stay out of it, though. Along with all the F-bombs.
French Kiss - Meg Ryan & Keven Kline. And an accent. Mon Dieu!
Fever Pitch - that Jimmy Fallon is so adorable! Another Drew Barrymore film, too...
Stanger Than Fiction - Not a Will Ferrell fan either, but this is a great movie! AND Emma Thompson is in it!
Pretty Woman - Okay, it's practically a classic, but still. She's a hooker. This movie totally romanticizes that life, but I still love Julia Roberts in it.
Speaking of...Notting Hill is one of my favs, too.
Just Like Heaven - Reese Witherspoon & Mark Ruffalo (who's handsome but not TOO handsome, you know what I mean?) Yeah, it's a bit like the Patrick Swayze/Demi Moore standard Ghost, but I still really like it. And the happy ending.

Okay, that's most of them. Do you have a favorite that would fit this genre? Or one you think I should have listed? Let me know. But please, if it has Kate Hudson in it (or Matthew McConaughey for that matter) don't bother. They're cute and all, but I guess this is where I get snobby.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

27 Dresses

I made Aaron watch this Katharine Heigl movie with me the other night, and we both enjoyed it. So there!

It was better than I thought it would be, mostly because James Marsden is really hot.
Really. Hot.

And, Katherine Heigl is excellent. Her character is very much like her role in Knocked Up (which also was better than I had anticipated, although it has much more swearing and naughty references), where at least if she has to be a gorgeous, statuesque blond, she doesn't rub it in by getting herself all gussied up. She plays a great "straight woman", but still allows herself to be goofy. Like, for instance, running and leaping off of a dock onto a yacht getting ready to cruise. Yes, she makes it, but it takes a minute to get her balance. And immediately after her first step she falls. That is totally something I would do, minus the leaping.

The characters actually have some depth and development - not many are static, which is soo nice. I really hate movies where nobody learns anything and it's all just watching attractive people meet up. (Ahem, Kate Hudson & Matthew McConaughey)

Caution! Spoiler ahead!

Towards the end of the movie, just as she's given up on her crush on her boss, she finally gets the nerve to quit. Of course the boss gives her a big kiss, and I right away said, "Of course now she's going to have to decide between the guy who actually knows her and the guy she's been after forever." But NO! They decide together, right there, that there isn't any chemistry between them. (and isn't that the truth? Those silly crushes we build up in our heads so often end up not being anything worth remembering...) So she goes on to pursue her true love.

And this movie ends in my favorite way for a rom-com - with a wedding. Yay!

Ed.: After rewatching, I felt I must list a couple of things that annoy me in this movie.

1. The end credits are set up as the "Commitments" section article about the wedding. They say that the bride had 27 bridesmaids, which is wrong. She had 29 - the 27, plus her sister and friend Casey in "real" dresses.

2. There is an ad in the section for the 27 dresses, saying they'd only been worn once. This is also wrong. They'd been worn twice, since Jane wore them in the original wedding once, and then those 27 brides wore them at Jane's wedding. Unless, of course, they all had one of their own bridesmaids' dresses for themselves.

3. Only in the deleted scenes do we get to see the bridesmaids dress Tess had picked out...complete with a big 'ol butt bow. I SO WISH this would have made it into the final cut, but I think the producers thought it unlikely that would believe Tess when she said, "They're so chic! All the rage in Milan!" Or maybe the Italians got wind and threatened a lawsuit.

Monday, June 2, 2008

You know what they say about kids being TOO quiet?

Sunday afternoon Aaron and I were analyzing the day's realty open houses. We usually look online on Saturday, and then skim through again Sunday to make sure we didn't miss any, and mark the ones we liked the day before.

We were deep into the list when I realized that Leah and Ben, playing in the yard, had been awfully quiet for an awfully long time.

I went out, called for Leah, and checked around the back of the house where the lawn shed is. No answer.

Back up on the deck, looked down to the gate, calling the whole time, with no answer.

Notice the gate is open.

Thankfully, the cursing stayed in my head.

I ran out into the front yard, where I see my two cherubs happily riding their trikes on the sidewalk, about one house down. Have I mentioned before that we live on a rather major street? WE DO.

That moment tops my previous Most Terrifying Parenting Moment, which was when I arrived home from a morning at the park to find that Ben had not been strapped into his infant seat. Gack!

So anyway, I ran over to the kiddos, who clearly had no clue they were being naughty.

Me: Leah, you CANNOT be riding bikes out here without Mommy or Daddy!

Leah: (rather insulted) Yes, I can!

Me: No, you can't! You need to ask us when you want to come out here!

I managed to keep my voice down a bit, but the lady walking her dogs across the street was still laughing. I'm sure she saw -and understood- the whole scene, and personally, I'm just grateful she wasn't on her cell phone calling Social Services. If you think she should have, check out this blog. You'll just LOVE it.

One more cute kid story - We were up at mom & dad's the other day, and Ben was messing around with something in the living room where Dad (Grandpa) and Aaron were watching TV. He was going to put it on the coffee table, but instead of putting it, he was going to slam it.

Grandpa: No, no, Ben, put it down gentle.


Leah: No, put it down gent-ly, Ben.

Me: Wait a minute, did she just correct Dad's grammar?

Grandpa: Yes. Yes she did.

And what was really shocking, is that she was right. I honestly don't know how she knew that - Aaron and I have a fairly good grasp on adverbs & adjectives, so I don't think she's heard us correct each other...But it looks like we may have another Grammar Master on our hands.

Yay for us.

This is Leah and Ben being appropriately quiet. Leah is READING Dr. Seuss's "Hop on Pop" to Ben. Who was thrilled. She also puntuated her reading with identifying the photos to which Ben was pointing. Hence his expression.