Monday, December 31, 2007

It's a Miracle!

We have our minivan back from the body shop and it isn't even 2008 quite yet! We had a cruel false alarm Friday. They said it was ready, but when we went to go get it, the driver's window wouldn't roll back up and the taillights didn't work. But all's well that ends well.

In honor of this glorious occasion, I give you the following drivel:

An Ode to My Minivan
OR
Why I Hated Our Dodge Caravan Rental

Minivan,
My minivan,
I hated your kind at first.
Could you be any less stylish?
What other wheels could age me ten years in one day?
Or encourage insecure men in sports cars
To cut me off constantly?

Then I sat inside you,
I hauled my brood in you,
I fit everyone and their dog AND the kitchen sink in you
And I have grown to love you.
Reluctantly at first,
But more with each passing day.

I'm so glad
My husband
Wanted a minivan.
Some might say
A minivan is
Unmanly.
But I say
A minivan is
Not for
The miniman.
It says,
"I'm so virile
I need this huge car
To carry my offspring.
I just look at my woman,
And she gets pregnant.
Also,
I'm secure in my manhood."
A sports car or large truck says,
"My package is so small
And I'm so impotent
I have to compensate
With my car."

But then...
O minivan!
You were ripped from my life
By the passing whim
(Or maybe wham?)
Of a man too old to see
A moving 4,120 lb vehicle.
That should not happen,
Even if it is
A metallic shade of asphalt.

Time passed slowly as I fretted
Over your possible demise
And the lack of reaction time tests at the Department
of Motor Vehicles for persons over age 65.

The news that you would return to my life --
What joy and yet what fear!
Would you still be
The minivan I had grown to love?

Then there was
The rental.

Well, actually there were two.
The first was poopy gold colored.
But then it got sold
And they came and traded me
For a white one,
Which was a small plus.
But, I digress...

The rental.
It was Dodgy.
It sat seven,
Not eight.
Seven is one less
Than how many people
Were at our house over Christmas.
Two cars are not fun
When your husband has a tendency to get lost.
All the controls
Were cheesy
And counter-intuitive.
Thank goodness we didn't
Break them
(Or the toothpicks on a hinge
Posing as armrests)
Off.
The rear windows
Did not roll down.
Good thing there was no
Upchuck festival.
This car must have been made for some
Unfortunate race of squidgets.
No power adjusting seats can compensate
When the windshield was better aligned for
My boobs
Than my head.
I had a fabulous view of
The flipped up sun visors.
The third row
Required adults
To amputate
Their heads.
Don't even get me started
About steering column gear shifters.
I used to think I coveted
Power sliding doors.
No more.
In fact,
This deserves it's own stanza.

With power sliding doors,
There is no hurrying.
The door is too hard to open
Or close, for that matter,
All the way
By hand.
Always fighting
The power door's effort.
Woman versus
That beastly machine.
And me
Laboriously studying
The remote,
Trying to figure out which button was for which door?
Not a pretty picture.
Yet the car lacked the umph
To open both doors
Simultaneously.
So I spent untold
Impatient
Minutes
Waiting for the confounded door to finish opening,
Since I always pushed the button for the wrong side
First.
And heaven forbid you ever try
To fix a botched
Opening
Or closing.
It will always open
When you want it shut
Or shut
When you want it open.
And your husband will always
Push the button again
Just when you have actually managed
To get the thing going the right way for once.
Repeat
Ad nauseam.
And someone had the bright idea
To have the hazard lights go off
Every time you use the power door
And for about 45 minutes after
You thought the darn thing was done already!

I'd guess the turning radius was
About 39.4
Yards.

And every time
I turned at a speed
To exceed 12 mph,
The tires squealed.
And every time
I accelerated enough
To enter the flow of traffic,
The tires squealed.
And every time
My children tried
To be heard above the road noise,
They had to squeal.
And when today
I got my minivan back
To rid myself of the rental,
I squealed

With delight.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Par-tay!

Forget using our imagination, Claire and I had the best "tea party" ever. Double chocolate hot cocoa, caramel flavor Torani syrup, and mini-marshmallows. The only problem is that now I have to actually wash her little tea set and it's too small for the dishwasher...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

At Least it's All Clean!

Maybe I should fold some laundry:



I think I've been busy. And c'mon, folding laundry is pretty low on the priority list. Fold it just so we can unfold it the next day? At least that's my excuse...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I thought I'd send out a blog-card to all of you out there:

Merry Christmas!
Hope you have a wonderful holiday season

PS - Sorry if you didn't get an actual tangible version of this, but the 50 I did make already ate up so much time that, as you can see, I haven't posted to my blog in a week. I still love you.

Monday, December 10, 2007

7 things about G

So G got tagged to blog about 7 things you wouldn't normally know about her but she didn't know what to write.... M to the rescue


7 Things you wouldn't usually know about G:

1) She got stuck teaching an aerobics class in Provo when the original teacher got too pregnant to do it everyday.

2) She is a post-stressor. That means the world can fall apart on her daughters wedding day and she will be calm and in control... until the world gets put back together. Then she falls apart. No really, falls apart, just later.

3) She has a ridiculous collection of socks. Christmas socks, Valentine's day socks, Halloween socks, Polkadot day socks, you name it.

4) She prefers semi-automatic shotguns because they don't kick as bad and she's tool lazy too pump in the next round for the second clay. Specifically this one.

5) Her favorite painter is Rothko. Bonus points if you already knew who Rothko is. I didn't.

6) Her EE degree isn't in Elementary Education and she can't stand SWE.

7) She can't eat ice cream cones without getting ice cream all over her face. You wouldn't know this because she wisely doesn't eat ice cream cones in public.

When the Frame is Bent Like an Accordian...

I know you all have been waiting with bated breath to hear the final verdict on our minivan.

The repairs estimate came to (drum roll please...):

$10,700

That's more repairs than our other car is worth! But they're NOT totaling it. It's more than half the value of the minivan, but I guess that's not the threshold they're using. Apparently it's worth fixing. I guess that's what I get for keeping the interior clean and the paint waxed. (The same thing happened when we hit a deer almost 6 years ago in our old car. They almost totaled it, then saw what good condition it was in and decided to repair it. I really need to start letting junk collect in my cars so they look trashier when they get in wrecks...) Supposedly it will take 3 1/2 weeks. Yah. We'll see about that. I'll believe it when I'm driving home from Home Depot with landscaping supplies in the back of my minivan. (Did you know that you can fit a full 4x8 sheet of plywood lying down flat in the back of the Toyota Sienna? I know this because M has happily gloated about it many, many times...)

But wait, there's more! In other car accident related news, we'll be picking up a rental car tomorrow morning. Courtesy of Mr. 87-Year-Old-Who-Pulled-Out-in-Front-of-Me's insurance. They haven't officially accepted liability yet, but c'mon, we all know it's only a matter of time. We've been spending additional eons on the phone and after talking to the other guy's insurance, among others, we feel safe going ahead and getting the rental knowing that they'll cover it in the end.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Celebrating with Some Good Entertainment

Part 4 - The final chapter (for now) in my continuing series about why I love Sesame Street

The big dinner for church was last night. It went well. Even if it hadn't, I'm just glad it's over. Our neighbors probably hated us for being outside grilling 80 chicken breasts until midnight on Wed. I spent all day yesterday collecting, dividing, and distributing food. And then grilling a little extra chicken. I don't think I want to look at grilled chicken for at least a month.

In celebration, we'll wrap up my series about why I love Sesame Street (at least for now).

I've had food on the brain, so it's appropriate that we conclude with this rap from Cookie Monster. It's proof that his recent controversial discussions about cookies being a "sometimes food" are nothing new for die-hard Sesame Street fans. This dates to back in the day.



An even better recent version has him rapping with Wyclef Jean, but alas, the video was not to be found on YouTube.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Do YOUR Parents Ever Make You Feel Like a Boring Old Fart?

My mom and dad drove from Idaho (where my dad was on a business trip) down to Las Vegas to meet up with my sister, her husband, and his family for Thanksgiving. I wish I could have been there too. My dad took some awesome photos of their trip though.

Well, I said they drove, but I guess I really mean "rode":

Here is my dad's bike.
It's hard to fathom just how huge this thing is in the photo, but trust me. Gargantuan.


My kids totally have typical grandparents, right?
Here is my mom on her bike.
(Doesn't this photo just scream, "I don't need no stinkin' doilies.")

And isn't this photo cool?

Betcha thought I meant photos of being at Thanksgiving with friends and family. No no. My dad sent photos of their motorcycle trip only.

Seriously, I love my parents.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I Am a Victim. Woe is Me!

It's a weird feeling. I feel like I'm the kind of person who's "on their toes," "has their head on straight," "keeps their eyes open," "takes everything with a grain of salt," and whatever other cliche you want to use to mean that I don't feel like I'm stupid. And yet, it turns out that I am a sucker.

It turns out that the woman who called me and told me she was from the other guy's insurance was a total scam. She had nothing to do with his insurance. I had a run in with a bona fide ambulance chaser with a heaping dose of fraud.

Please hold your outbursts and criticisms of my foolishness until the end. Humor me and let me tell you more about my run in with the quack first.

So I got to the chiropractor's office and desperately wanted to leave without going in. I don't do chiropractors. But I also have a deep set fear of fees, and somehow I was sure that I would be charged a missed appointment fee if I didn't show up. (Only later did it occur to me that the chiropractor's office itself had nothing but my name and phone number, so this possibility was fairly unlikely. See how irrationally paranoid about the wrong things I was?) From the perspective of my health, what harm would it do to go inside and talk to them. Just TALK -- I wouldn't let them DO anything!

So I filled out forms as a new patient and then talked to said jeans-clad chiropractor. Oh and for Ashley's sake, the jeans were nice jeans. They might have been brand name, I'm not fashion conscious enough to look for that sort of thing. So it's not like she looked like she'd just finished fixing her motorcycle or painting her living room or anything, but they were jeans nonetheless.

Oh, the mumbo jumbo! You know how "psychics" are "good" because they can read people and get people to divulge information without meaning to? Well, just call this gal "The All Seeing Madame Heather, Palm Reader and Chiropractor." She was admittedly good at pinpointing where I hurt when I made movements that caused me discomfort. But she was also very good at poking spots on me and saying, "You have pain right there." Then I would respond, "Um, no, not really." Then when I would clarify where and how I did hurt, she was very good at acting like SHE had discovered it, and not that I had painstakingly explained it to her, with her getting it wrong a lot along the way. Anyway, surprise surprise, she concluded that I had mild to moderate whiplash and that in addition to some muscle pain, parts of my spine were "out of line" and that I needed 11 treatments over the next 5 weeks. Does anyone else find it interesting that she supposedly specializes in the spine and yet nowhere along the way did it come up that I have scoliosis? You'd think that would get asked in the paperwork, or even more likely, that she'd notice the fairly obvious fact that my right shoulder is significantly lower. Was my spine really out of line, or did I just have a nasty case of "this phony is trying to blame scoliosis from adolescence on my car accident two days ago"? The world may never know, because I'm certainly not going back. I told them that I didn't really want the treatments. I saw a possible easy out. "After all, who will pay for all this?" At this point, they start going on about how I should probably get "legal representation." This bothered me even more than the rest of their horribly unprofessional behavior, and I think it showed on my face. So then they asked if I'd like to speak with "Brenda" (you know, scam-o-rama "I'm from the insurance company" lady). They had Brenda's phone number and dialed it for me. When I started to talk to "Brenda," she also started telling me that I should get a lawyer and prepared to give me some "referrals." Before now, my "weird-o-meter" had been timidly sending out beeps. Well, I may not be the brightest, but at this point, the "weird-o-meter" started sounding the wailing alarm. I told them I needed to go home and "think about it and talk to my husband" ( I LOVE that M and I have given each other free reign over the spouse excuse, it's the BEST!) and high-tailed it out of there.

The next day I spent a lot of time on the phone with the REAL insurance company for the other guy. Also with my insurance company, the police, and the Texas Department of Insurance. I better not get a bill for that appointment. If it comes to it, the quack is on my insurance (What? The quack is on my insurance's preferred provider list?!?!?), so I'd only pay $20 plus 10%. But this underhanded group of people in shady employment messed with the wrong soccer mom. As M put it, "Hmmm, let's see. Who should we try to scam? How about a stay-at-home-mom with all the time she needs to spend on the phone getting our licenses yanked? Maybe even one with a fairly challenging college degree lying fallow. She definitely wouldn't see us as a fun challenge to break up the nose wiping, no no."

Anyway, I feel painfully stupid that I got suckered in enough to go to that appointment. I should have known better. But another part of me thinks, but how should I have known better? She SAID she was from the right company and she knew my name and the name of the other driver. How should I have known what standard procedure is? I'm not in car accidents very frequently (in fact, this would be a first for me personally). But I know I'm stupid. She probably saw the accident report somehow. Please don't fill the comments with an interminable list of tips for avoiding this in the future. Or further reasons that I was blind to the clear signs of my impending doom. I heard it all in my head and ignored it anyway. Life is a senseless blur right now between all this accident stuff and the fact that I'm living and breathing our big church dinner on Thursday night for all the women that I'm organizing all the food for.

I'm tired of talking about this car accident. I want it all to just go away, but alas, it won't. Today the body shop finished the economic verdict on my car. Roughly $9300. It's close enough to totaling that they have to wait for my insurance to come look at it and decide if it's totaled. I almost want it to be totaled at this point, because I'm sure I'll get a working car sooner that way. Waiting for repairs is bound to take weeks. And then it will be delayed because of Christmas. And then we'll have to wait for some obscure part. Etc., etc. If it's totaled, in theory, we can email car dealerships that very day and start pitting them against each other to give us the best price on a van, maybe even from last model year (the BEST way to buy a new car!). Sure it will cost more than having it repaired, but time is money people!!! Or maybe we'll try to find a used 2 year old Honda or Toyota minivan with not too many miles. HA! As if! We already went through this 2 years ago. That's why we bought new last time. Nobody sells these things. They drive them into the ground. The few ones you do find used either have a gazillion miles on them or else they have every bell and whistle upgrade so the price is more than just getting a relatively featureless new one. Hello? I'll take the new car smell and a warranty any day over heated side view mirrors. I know you're all wondering why I don't have a rental in the meantime. Once we know the final verdict on the van, I'll decide if it's worth hassling the other guys' insurance to try to coerce them into paying for a rental. I mean, it's bound to take so much time on the phone.

Also, do you have any idea how much time I have spent on the phone in the last week? Do you remember that I HATE talking on the phone to people I don't know well? Well, I loathe it. I keep thinking that when I go through things like this or church assignments that have me on the phone all the time that it will break me of my telephobia. Like when people try to solve, say, a fear of snakes by forcing someone to spend a day in a room full of snakes. But it never works. Sometime I improve a little, and then I relapse.

Seriously, all I want to do is not think about anything to do with the car accident for a little while, so I gotta go.

Friday, November 30, 2007

But I Wanted to See a DOCTOR!

I'm sure this will offend some of you. I wish I felt bad.

On Wednesday morning, the other guy's insurance called to ask me if I was injured. When I admitted that I had some neck pain, they wanted me to go see a doctor. They said if I went to the doctor they set up I wouldn't pay anything. I knew I was fine, but I agreed. I mean, it seemed like it might be a good idea to see a doctor in case I was oblivious to some serious injury I had sustained. My mind was swirling with conflict of interest issues, but whatever.

All might have been well and good had they actually sent me to see a doctor. When I got to the address they gave me, there was no doctor to be found. Only a jeans and t-shirt clad, gum chewing, 19-year-old-looking female CHIROPRACTOR!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

There's Nothing Like the Stench of Airbag Propellant in the Morning

Just to get it out of the way right off the bat, here's a preemptive, "We're all okay."

Claire, Scott, and I were driving to take Claire to preschool yesterday morning on a fairly big road. Another car pulled out in front of us to turn left from a cross street onto the opposite direction of the road we were on. Are you still with me? Ooh, let me go over the top and provide a diagram (complete with color accurate ovals that totally look like cars, right?):


I saw the look on the other guy's face when he realized he'd pulled out in front of me. It can probably be summed up as, "Oh, CRAP!" Everything happened so fast, but I could almost swear the other guy braked and stopped in front of me instead of gunning it to get past me. I wonder if I would have had my wits about me enough to step on it if the roles were reversed. I think so. On the other hand, I'm not an old man, so I probably wouldn't have gotten myself into that fix to begin with, pulling out in front of cars going 45 mph and what have you. I guess he just didn't see me. One could argue that's what I get for having an asphalt colored car...

Anyway, needless to say, I slammed on my brakes and tried to steer to the right to clear the other car, but it was not to be. I suppose I had a lot of faith in the safety of my car because the main thought in my mind just before impact wasn't "I hope we don't get hurt." It was, "You have GOT to be kidding me. I do NOT need this today. I have SO MUCH TO DO!!!" The airbag deployed and I got to sit in a cloud of air bag powder. Several people stopped to help and they called 911 before I even collected myself and got out of my car. Claire was pretty freaked out. She was crying and kept asking me, "Why did we get in a car crash?" Then she kept asking me how we were going to fix the broken car. I kept trying to explain and tell her that all that mattered was that we were all okay. But eventually she was only upset about missing preschool. Once M showed up, we were able to get her there for the tail end of it due to a very generous friend who drove her home afterwards. Scott was totally oblivious to everything except the fact that there was a fire engine and ambulance there. He just kept pointing and saying, "Woo woo!" which is his rendition of siren noise. I love Scott: Mr. Mellow. The other driver complained of neck and chest pain and was taken away in the ambulance. I hope he's okay, I haven't heard an update yet.

Anyway, talked to the EMTs, police, witnesses, etc. So on and so forth. All while trying to keep Scott from wandering out into the road, so I was pretty distracted and in retrospect I wish I had gotten more info about the other driver. Since he never got out of his car, I don't even know his name. And could I be any more of a dumb broad for not even taking note of what kind of car he was driving? I'm disgusted with myself. In the end, I had to have my newly beloved minivan towed because it was totally undrivable. And the cops said we need to get new car seats now. I hope the insurance covers them. We don't know the full extent of the damages yet. Keep your fingers crossed...

Other than being stuck at home with no car (I sense a lot of blogging in the near future!) and accompanying car repair hassles, the only lasting effects today are the fact that I'm sore and Claire keeps pestering me with questions. For me, yesterday was all about torso achiness and stiffness. Today is all about a horribly sore neck and a tender seat belt bruise. This is one of the few times in my life I've allowed myself to take ibuprofen. Claire keeps bringing up the accident even though I'd rather forget about it. Mostly it touches a nerve when she tells me that I didn't see the other car and we got in an accident. No, I saw the other car. Apparently he didn't see me. I know she doesn't mean it this way, but it infuriates me that she's trying to lay any of the blame on me. Even the cops basically said I did everything right. Just before he left, one of them told me that "my evasive action" kept this from being "a lot worse." That made me feel so much better. Yah, basically, I rock. And ache. Ugh. Fortunately I've been taking comfort in a half batch of Texas sheet cake. (How am I not overweight???)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Dinner - No Oven Required

Our last Thanksgiving guest left today. We had guests here for just a few hours short of a full week. So although I'm relieved in a way that it's over, I must say it was a FABULOUS week.

I know part of it was that we didn't have to go anywhere; we got to be at our own house. (Emphasis on the word house.) I know part of it is that my in-laws and my husband's best friend from college are such wonderful, fun people. I know part of it was that I had my sister-in-law who actually enjoys little kids around to help me teach preschool and wear paper pilgrim hats with me on Tuesday. I know part of it was doing fun things like going to downtown Austin, taking family photos, and making a pilgrimage to Fry's. But if I'm really honest with myself, it was mostly because the food was so good.

I mean, we got to choose the menu, not just for Thanksgiving itself, but for the whole Thanksgiving weekend. More importantly, for once we had enough people coming to warrant LOTS of food, and something more than a starving student income (or lack thereof) to fund it. There was much excellent gorging. Let me elaborate.

DINNER BEFORE THANKSGIVING:
- Rudy's BBQ!!!

THANKSGIVING BREAKFAST:
-Ralphie's fabulous buttermilk pancakes, some with chocolate chips, served with regular and blueberry pomegranate syrup
- scrambled eggs with cheese

THANKSGIVING DINNER:
- grilled steak
Who am I kidding? This bullet point deserves it's own paragraph:
We got these awesome New York Strips from Costco that must have been over 2 inches thick. M and his brother grilled these suckers on our gas grill in the backyard (Remember the only nice thing in our back yard?) Herein lies the genius of it all. No dried out turkey from the oven. No gravy (that I'm still intimidated at the thought of making - it's so American). No thawing bird in the fridge for an indeterminate amount of time. No dead carcass I have to fondle and manipulate into a roasting pan. NO GIBLETS! Just delicious boneless, thick, juicy, delicious, red meat. You know it's good when you even don't mind eating the fat. As M's dad put it, I love being an omnivore.
-sourdough garlic bread (warmed on the grill)
-mashed sweet potatoes (These were made in a pot and were the only thing I actually had to start more than about half an hour before we wanted to eat. Once started they could keep cooking longer, so they weren't an exact science.)
- green peas (microwaved from frozen!)
- stuffing (I don't really like stuffing that much, but M does. But he likes Stovetop. Cliche, but easy and ovenless. I actually got my mother-in-law to do this.)
- homemade cranberry relish (I made this the night before. It has pineapple, oranges, and lemons and it actually tastes better if you give them all time to "mesh.")

BEVERAGE OF CHOICE:
- schorle (This is something my family picked up in Germany. Sparkling water combined with fruit juice.)

SNACKS:
- chips with salsa and guacamole
- petite quiche
- brie and sourdough bread (It's just not a holiday for my family without brie.)

DESSERTS:
On Thanksgiving
- 1 Sugar free pumpkin pie for M and his dad and 1 regular pumpkin pie, plus Reddi-Whip (I'm way too lazy and we go through way too little whipped cream to do it any other way)
- 2 apple pies from my mom's famous recipe
(NOTE: The pies were also made the day before. Also, extra pie was important so that we could have my family's traditional "pie and eggs" breakfast the next morning)
Other Desserts
- ice cream (sugar free for M and his dad and both Cookies and Cream and Intensely Chocolate for the rest of us) with dark chocolate syrup
- dark chocolate shortbread (sugar free for M and his dad - I even sprung for better cocoa, so it was extra tasty)
- the most sinfully wonderful chocolate truffles ever (You know, the soft kind rolled in cocoa that feel like a little bite of obesity? We bought a double pack at Costco, so we only got a fourth of the way through them. Look out Christmas guests...)
Are we noticing a theme here? Yes, I love chocolate.

I think I've made reference before to the fact that I probably have an unhealthy perspective on food. This doting discussion of our menu may confirm it in your eyes. All I know is that if an unhealthy perspective on food can make a week this great, bring it on!

Oh yah, and as a crowning glory to it all, I managed to send my in-laws home with their Christmas presents (beautifully wrapped with homemade tags and everything, if I do say so myself). I won't have to ship them!

Could I be on any more of a "homemaker power trip"?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I Am Thankful for Sesame Street!

Part 3 in the continuing series about why I love Sesame Street

Having people in town for Thanksgiving is keeping me busy. I offer up another easy for me, fun for you video clip. This time? Norah Jones.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Scott's Trying to Upgrade to Aggravated Assault

I thought it was bad when Scott was throwing fabric fish at people in the pew behind us at church. Well, now he's upgraded to throwing train cars. Fortunately, the woman who was behind us isn't planning to press charges.

I wish we could stick with softer toys, but we've tried everything. The only way we can stay in any meaningful portion of our church meetings is if we bring not one, but two trains cars for Scott. He insists on one for each hand. Hey, at least they're quiet, right? Things usually go well as long as we don't prevent him from driving them over EVERY surface in a 10 foot radius and as long as he doesn't get the cars turned around so the magnets on the end repel instead of attract each other. Otherwise, the "choo"s start flying...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

We All Need More Sesame Street in Our Lives

Part 2 in the continuing series about why I love Sesame Street

Ralphie posted one of her favorite Sesame Street guest celebrity appearances (James Taylor, so fabulous) and got me in the mood to wallow in Sesame Street adoration.

Let a little R.E.M. put a smile on your face.



Does it get much better than Michael Stipe moshing with muppets?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Just Routine Me to Death

UPDATE - I realized while talking to M tonight that I forgot the MOST annoying part of Claire's bizzare ritual. I have remedied the situation below.

-------------------------------

Claire is addicted to routine. Scary addicted. I will highlight one of her current annoying obsessions. Every time I put her in her bed for quiet-time-that-sometimes-turns-into-nap-time (Hallelujah!), we have to:

1. Read a book
2. Give Claire the option to go potty one last time
3. Hold her a specific way and sing the same obscure church hymn every time
4. Give Claire a certain cup with a few sips of water
5. Before she can accept the cup of water, Claire must place the back of her right hand on her forehead and her left hand on her bedpost and recite the same nearly unintelligible quote from Toy Story that goes something like this, "Gah! How am I going to convince those guys it was an accident..." Then she forces a completely fake laugh, every single time. From there it trails off into garbled sounds that I think, at least back when this all started, were names including "Buzz."
...

I won't bore you with the endless list of steps from there. (And this is only nap time, imagine the added complexities of bedtime!) #5 is the point. What is that?!?!? If I try to give her the cup before she's done, she will try to balance the cup in her lap so both hands are free for this ritual. It's a shame that my child is such a weirdo. Do other (non-Rain Man) kids do this?

--------------------------------

By the way, in case any of you were running out to buy Juicy Juice's Harvest Mystery or Autumn Conundrum or whatever it is, DON'T GET THE ORANGE MANGO FLAVOR! We liked the Tropical flavor, but yesterday we cracked open the orange mango flavor. When I first tasted it, I actually thought it had gone bad. Now don't get me wrong, I love fresh mangoes, but you know how they do kind of have a "peaches dipped in kerosene" like quality? Well, multiply that by about 20 and then let it get so ripe it goes bad and that's what this stuff tastes like to me. Claire likes it, so I'm generously saving it all for her.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

No Flower Pots in the Middle Required

I finally made Janssen's Chocolate Banana Pound Cake. Blissful.

In case anyone else out there is without the ability to make a bunt ("A bunt." "A bunt?" "A bunt." - I love My Big Fat Greek Wedding) because their bunt pan is in an attic in California - or something else like that, I can tell you it turns out rather well as 2 loaves. I just had to cook it about 5-10 minutes longer than the recipe says.

I already indulged in breakfast dessert and lunch dessert, so now I must stop blogging to go have afternoon snack dessert.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why I STILL Love Sesame Street

Happiness is when skits like this come on Sesame Street. The whole point of letting my kids watch TV is so I can get stuff done, but stuff like this just sucks me in.



Sesame Street gets some of the best celebrity guests! Who else can get people like James Blunt to parody their own songs? I love this the way only a geeky parent can. I mean, they sang hypotenuse!!! The sad thing is that this particular video doesn't include the part afterwards where Telly talks about Euclidean love stories. Man, them's the goods.

I will always have a special place in my heart for Sesame Street. Among other reasons, I watched it until I was much older than it's designed for because my grandma sent tapes of it for my little sister while we lived in Japan. Anything in English held great allure...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Backyard Dreams

Right now, our backyard looks like this:

Except nix the patio furniture, it belonged to the previous owner. Instead add more brown to the grass, 2 plastic patio chairs, a couple dying potted plants, and a gas grill (at least the gas grill is nice!).

This is the almost final draft of the plan my sister is doing for our backyard:

If you need help interpreting:
- WF = water feature
- There's a shed and garden in the back right corner, and an "open use" area for whatever (sand box, hammock, play equipment, hot tub, stuff that will "grow" with our family) and a 2nd sitting area in the back left
- To the left of the patio and to the right and up from the 2nd sitting area are 2 woodland garden areas
- The pokey trees are evergreens and the rest are deciduous.
- The only big change to this will be that the tree above the deck will be gone


Oh, how my sister rocks. She'll bring the big, detailed, final one at Christmas. I'm so excited. You like? I can't wait to "dig in."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Scott's Stash

I guess this is what I get for leaving Scott's high chair too close to the window. We had guests over, so we had moved it from it's usual position in the middle of our tiled combination family room dining room. The middle of the room is good because it's far far away from any walls. You should have seen the state of the wall in our old apartment that had the misfortune of being next to Scott's high chair. Just think culinary Jackson Pollock. No wonder we still haven't switched him from a high chair to a booster. After the visitors left, we were lazy about moving his high chair back to it's correct position, so I suppose we deserved this.

Maybe he was hoping to save a little hot dog for later as a snack.
Scott, I promise I feed you regularly. Even if hot dogs and candy aren't always on the menu, there's no need to horde.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Internet Munchies

Do you ever get the internet munchies? That's what M and I call them. You know, where you don't actually have anything you need to do online, but you're itching to get online anyway. Thank goodness for Google Reader, it keeps me from making up stuff to do online. When I get this feeling, it's totally the cyberspace equivalent of snacking. You're not really hungry, you just have the munchies.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Top This!

So I know I probably hyped this post a little too much yesterday, but I can't stop laughing about this story 10 years later. It makes me SO glad I'm not single anymore. For no apparent reason, let me tell you a little story about the WORST date ever.

When I was a junior in high school, my best friend's boyfriend's best friend (are you still with me?) asked me to go to his senior prom with him. Okay, we better start using some names or this could get out of hand. My best friend was Amanda. We'll call her boyfriend Brad* and his best friend John*. Now right off the bat, it's never fun to go on a double date where you're part of a couple that has basically just met and the other couple are all over each other. Plus, my best friend was basically going to be the only person I knew there since I didn't have a lot of friends in the year older than me. Plus, I was still a little sore about the fact that before Amanda and Brad starting going out, Brad had asked me out. We had all gone to a concert together and apparently I peaked his interest. He asked Amanda for my number. At the time, I was out of town on a family vacation. When I got back into town, we went out on a date, but totally didn't click. Well, later I found out that the whole time I was gone, Brad kept talking on the phone to Amanda. I guess he just couldn't stand the something like week long wait to go out with me, so he decided he was interested in Amanda instead. Whatever, I felt no real loss, especially for a guy with that little patience.

Anyway, I agreed to go to the senior prom with John. I mean, I was happy to be a date for a friend of a friend so that he didn't have to go stag to his senior prom. I'd get to be with my best friend. No big deal, right? HA!

The prom was at a country club about 1.5 hours away. His parents didn't really want him driving home from there at whatever late hour the prom would be over, so they got my parents' permission to do the following. John and I would drive down to the prom. His family would later drive down and get a hotel room. After the prom, he would share a room with his parents and I would share a room with his sister. Then we would all drive home the following morning. Seemed okay to me.

It pretty much all goes downhill from here.

Right before the dance, Amanda and Brad broke up. They wouldn't be going to the prom anymore and it was just me and John. We'd already made plans and I couldn't really back out on this guy, so I plowed ahead.

John came to pick me up. My parents are not sentimental, and certainly not about me going with some random guy to his prom, so I don't even know that we took any pictures. Then he took me to his house where somehow his parents manage to make exchanging a boutonniere and corsage and taking photos last AN HOUR!!! I barely even knew this guy, why did they want so many photos?

Finally, we were off. The car ride was passable. His A/C wasn't good enough, so I was sweaty most of the way, but other than that, fine. The dance was fairly uneventful. Painfully boring, but compared to what was ahead, boring was great! Other than having to hang out with some of his nerdy friends (think about how bad they must have been, I'm calling them nerds!), the only remarkable thing about the dance is that every time I had to slow dance with him, he stood so far away it was almost impossible to dance with him. I'm mean, I'm all about propriety, but this was just plain awkward because he stood really far away but then leaned his upper body in really close. I still can't decide if he was just that awkward or if he was a little too "excited" by our mind-numbingly boring evening together and was paranoid that I might find out.

After the prom, we started driving to the hotel. Just as we were almost at the hotel, he ran a red light and we got in a car crash. A car from the cross-traffic hit the driver's side front fender at what felt like full speed (probably about 35-40 mph on that road, so not too bad). No one was hurt. I suppose for John's sake I will admit the mitigating circumstances. It was late and we were driving on dark unfamiliar streets. (Oh yah, don't forget how "exciting" I apparently might have been.) So there I was. My shoes had been killing me, so I had taken them off and they were fairly complicated to put back on. The night had gotten a little chilly. It must have been about midnight or later. I don't know when I have ever felt more pitiful than I did standing there in the middle of some strange town with a guy I barely knew, barefoot and cold in my prom dress, waiting to give a report to the police. The actual report part was almost comical. It ran something pretty close to this: "He ran a red light. It was all John's fault." Short and sweet cruel.

Finally we got back in the car. John was extremely shaken up. Of course, who could blame him? In addition to a long night and a car accident, he was dreading facing his father whose car he had just wrecked. He asked if we could stop into a Denny's or something for some hot chocolate to give him a little time to collect his thoughts. I agreed since I felt bad for the guy. So we started looking for a restaurant that was open. This was no big town, but he was convinced there was one just around the next corner, and the next, and the next... He succeeded in getting us lost despite having me as a passenger (I have a great sense of direction). And I'm not talking about the "we took a wrong turn" kind of lost. Or the "this road doesn't go where we thought it did." Or "I know where I need to be but you can't get there from here." No, no, I'm talking about full-fledged, totally disoriented, I-don't-know-where-I-am-or-even-an-inkling-of-where-I-want-to-go-
from-here kind of lost. I think this may have been the only time in my life that I have been at all involved in navigating that this has ever happened to me.

Lost as we were, we did find the coast. This at least resembled knowing where we were. ("Look, west!") He suggested we get out of the car and walk for a bit. I'm thinking: Seriously? Well, it might be better than arguing with him more about which way to turn. I laboriously put my shoes back on and to John's credit, he let me wear his coat so I didn't actually get hypothermia. We walked along the coast. It would have been SO romantic in almost any other circumstances. But there was something more important than moonlight and the music of the crashing waves at play here. M penned a little something I like to call "M's Law." (Well, actually I refer to it using his whole first name, but you get the point.)

M's Law:
The only difference between Romeo and a stalker is the girl's opinion.

Suffice it to say, my opinion was leaning toward stalker.

We sat and attempted some "get to know you conversation." It failed miserably. A tip for all of you Johns out there. Do not bring up your obsession with taping UFO shows and watching the VHS over and over again until it wears out on a first date. Don't bring it up on any date, ever. In fact, better yet, just DON'T DO IT AT ALL!!!

Finally, I put my very sore foot down and told John I was cold and exhausted and wanted to go find the hotel. So we got back in the car and wandered around town some more and, of course, once we finally figured out where we were and how to get back to the hotel, we happened upon a Denny's. John was back to near-panic-attack levels now that the encounter with his dad was imminent. He begged for the hot chocolate we'd set out for eons ago, and I was so exhausted I'd lost the will to protest. I didn't wear a watch with my prom dress (it didn't match!) so it wasn't until we got into Denny's that I realized it was 3:30am. I ordered my hot chocolate and listened half-heartedly to John rehash the accident for the 485th time and then fret about facing his dad. I had felt bad for him back at midnight, but at this point I felt like echoing the oh-so-elegant words of Jo Dee Messina (not my usual music genre, but this is too apropos), "My give a damn's busted." I proceeded to actually fall asleep sitting there in the Denny's booth while John droned on. Eventually I roused enough to realize John was informing me that he didn't feel well. All I could think was, There goes my hope of leaving. So we sat there for who knows how long with John moping and feeling ill until he disappeared to the bathroom. He was gone a long time and I sat there half asleep while the truckers, weirdos much creepier than John, and other flora and fauna of a Denny's at that ungodly hour looked on. When John finally returned, he informed me that he had just thrown up. Like I wanted to know...

After that, it's kind of a blur. All I know is that eventually he decided he felt well enough to acquiesce to my demands that we go find the hotel. We finally stumbled up to the hotel rooms after another seemingly interminable wait for the hotel desk clerk. His dad was outside waiting for us. All his dad said was, "Where the h*** have you been?" I'd have probably said the same thing if I was his dad. At this point it was 5:30 in the morning. Fortunately, I think John's father, bless him, had a sixth sense for who was to blame because he ignored me completely and let me stumble pitifully into the hotel room for sleep, blessed sleep while confronting his son. I wonder how long John got chewed out while I blissfully slumbered? Oh well, maybe he made a tape of it and watched the VHS over and over and over again.

I know this was long, but the sheer duration of the ordeal is half the humor. So was my story worth the eye fatigue? If not, sorry. I have been on a lot of bad dates, some others of which would make good stories in and of themselves, but when you've got this story in your repertoire, why bother with anything else? So tell me, what's your worst date experience? I'd love it if someone somewhere someday had a worse story than mine...

* = names have been changed

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I'm Working on a Real Doozy

No real post today, I'm too busy penning an epic post for tomorrow. It's gonna be good, if I do say so myself. So rest your eyes so you're ready to go tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Feeling the Love

Yesterday was a rough day. I divulge the following in the interest of the punchline, and not because I'm fishing for pity. It's tempting not to write this, but I think most of us have been there so I won't let my pride get in the way.

There was no particularly good reason, but I reached a point yesterday where I was just completely discouraged, fed up, and overwhelmed. I hate to admit it, but I was unable to ward off tears. In theory, the kids were both in their rooms napping and I went into my room to "cry it out." However, I could hear both the kids awake in their rooms (part of the cause for tears). After a while, I was feeling so sad and I couldn't help but think, "As difficult as my children can be, wouldn't it all seem worth it if they felt bad for how sad I was and tried to comfort me?" I became convinced that if someone was just there to give me a hug, everything would be okay. Since Marshall wasn't due home for hours and Scott was confined to his crib, Claire was my only real hope. But who was I kidding? She wouldn't leave her room and come find me.

But then, hark! The sound of little footsteps coming down the hall. Could it be?

Against all odds, Claire enters my room. She slowly and tentatively walks over to my side. Then she says, "Mom! Stop crying I'm trying to sleep."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Daddy... how do they make computers?

Claire asked me this the other day.

How does one answer a question like that? I know what you're thinking, "Ask your [insert other spouses title here]" followed by "I don't know" right?

Neither G nor I have such luxury. I most unfortunately know pretty much everything that goes into making a computer. I suppose at the ore refining/crystal growth level I'm a bit spotty but from that point on my geek to the max education and relentless pursuit of completely irrelevant knowledge pretty much take care of the rest.

Even if the question is not about my particular specialty I probably know more on the subject than my three year old bargained on. "How do cars work?", "Why is the sky blue?", "Why do my hands have germs on them?". I could go on for days about any of these questions if I needed to but I don't really want to and Claire certainly doesn't want to hear anything longer than a Sesame Street skit.

I really do think it's important to give your kids fairly straight and informative answers. I also think it's good to explain how the world around them really works. I also think it's good for your kids not to get beat up every day of second grade because they are a know it all dork.

So what do I do? Give watered down answers? Teach my kid all this cool stuff and then teach them to act stupider than they are around their friends? Just let them get their lunch money stolen at school every day?

I guess at the moment I dont really know. Melty sand it is for now. We'll see when they get a little older.

But the Shoes Will Keep Him From Escaping the Police!

We've been lucky enough to receive a decent amount of hand-me-down clothes for Scott from my parents' next door neighbors. I'm painfully cheap, so this is a very good thing for us. Except when something is stylistically undesirable enough to us that, even for free, we just can't bring ourselves to put Scott in it. You might think I am the fashion whistle blower, but in fact, it's often M who declares we are not dressing his son in that.

Here is an example. Scott inherited a pair of acceptable looking brown boots/shoes. They are slightly marred by having Sesame Street characters on the side, but I was totally willing to live with this. Then we jarred them and discovered that they light up. Now who set out to design these shoes and said, "What we really need is conservative brown leather shoes that you could almost wear to church if it weren't for the fact that we will plaster them with mythical characters and flashing red lights"?

Anyway, when we first got the shoes they were Claire's size, so despite being a little boyish, I let her wear them. M informed me that this was unacceptable. You might think this was a gender issue, but no. It was the lights. I mean, I'm totally with him on the fact that I would never buy shoes like that, but it wouldn't stop me from using FREE shoes. M told me he'd rather spend the money on shoes without lights. Ouch. So despite her protests, we told Claire they were boy shoes and packed them away. (Whatever works...)

Yesterday, Scott found the shoes. Why didn't I give them away yet? He loves pointing at the Sesame Street characters and making almost intelligible noises regarding them. But most of all, he loves banging them on the floor and watching them light up. I'll be downstairs and hear horrible thumping noises upstairs. I'll run up to see what Scott has gotten into only to discover it's just him and the light up shoes. He loves experimenting about what will cause them to light up. Throwing them against the wall? Check. At least for now they're still too big for him, but what will we do once that excuse doesn't work? Maybe we'll just keep letting him play with them in hopes that the batteries will die. What ever happened to those great old school lights and batteries that would die after one day of playing with something? Darn LEDs and lithium batteries. On the other hand, I don't know if my face can survive his experimentation much longer. Last night he tested his hypothesis that banging the shoes on mommy's nose would cause the shoes to light up. It worked. He thought this was hilarious. I had mixed feelings.

Monday, November 5, 2007

And I Thought 52 Card Pick-Up Was Bad!

NaBloPoMo or no, I'm just not gonna post on Sundays. Sorry. I like to spend Sundays resting from my cares, not dredging them up and exaggerating them for the sake of a humorous blog post.

But anyway, yesterday was apparently all about spillage.

First thing in the morning, Claire explored the stack of board games we had foolishly left out from the night before. While I was busily distracted, she took ALL the games out of their boxes. As I tell you about the games pieces I got to sort, it will also serve as a little tour of our game collection. That makes my complaining seem much more legitimate! I got to sort the following sets of cards: Uno, Apples to Apples (green and red cards, mind you), and Mille Bornes. Then there were the Scrabble tiles everywhere. And the Settlers of Cattan land and water hexes with a loose road or two. Don't forget a nice sprinkling of Monopoly money! Fortunately, the Boggle dice were still in their box and I only had to collect the tray and timer. Thank goodness we had put away Trivial Pursuit (the game we had actually played the night before) because those pie pieces can be brutal. So not that this serves as an exhaustive list, but there's a decent sampling of our game holdings. Feel free to scoff or cheer at will.

Then Claire decided to spill a cup full of very orange colored fruit juice all over her shirt, her capris, the table, the floor, and worst of all, my very tired but better than nothing upholstered dining chair. It was actually Juicy Juice's new "Harvest Surprise" in the tropical flavor. It has carrots and sweet potatoes in it, in addition to mango juice and some fairly normal fruit juices. Hence, very orange. Though it tastes pretty good aside from some graininess, I think the name is a little disturbing. I generally prefer my food and drink to come no where near the word "surpise." But I was actually suckered in by this latest marketing gimmick of juice with vegetables in it because Scott really is that bad of an eater. Don't get me started...

Never fear, Claire was not the only one participating in yesterday's spill science experiments. I foolishly left a mostly full spice container of cajun seasoning on the dining room table after making my stew palatable. Apparently I also forgot to close it because Scott picked it up and immediately started dumping it out. I was only maybe 5 yards away, but by the time I got Claire off my lap and dashed over, there wasn't even a dash left in the container. Somehow it must have gotten turned to the "pour" not "shake" opening. There must have been at least a cup of the stuff on the table and floor, if not more. Note: Canjun seasoning does not come out of the cracks in tile well, so if you let your toddler get ahold of it, you'd better enjoy the "creole breeze" scent. I wonder why I've never come across that candle scent??? Ha ha!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

How Can You Be BAD at Candyland?!?!?

Note: For everyone who played this game as a child, it's worth knowing that the game has received a few "updates." For example, apparently "Queen Frostine" kicked the bucket and was succeeded by her daughter "Princess Frostine." Also, kids these days are apparently considered too dumb to know what molasses is, so now it's the "Chocolate Swamp." On the up side, the spaces with the dots have been replaced with "Licorice Spaces" that merely involve losing one turn rather than an indefinite wait for a certain color card to be drawn. In this post, I refer not to the version I played as a child (I believe the 1985 edition), but to the I think 2002 edition.

It's finally happened. I beat Claire at Candyland.

We gave Claire Candyland for her birthday back in March. I've played A LOT of Candyland since then. (I'd say we've averaged about a game a week.) But by some strange twist of statistical improbability, as an adult I have never won Candyland until yesterday. I solemnly swear that I do not throw the games out of pity for my child. Once, I did put an interminable game out of it's misery by stacking the deck with "Princess Frostine" and several sets of doubles in Claire's favor, but that was only because she was further ahead of me and represented the fastest path to the game finally ending and me putting Claire down for her quiet time. I was so sick of reshuffling! But most of the time, letting her win on purpose just wouldn't be healthy for her in the long run. No, I really just lose even when "trying my best." (As if that's possible in Candyland...) Apparently, Claire won't gain the full beneficial experience of losing on a regular basis despite my best efforts. Once, I did beat Claire, but I didn't win the game. The neighbor boy won and then Claire always insists we keep playing until everyone gets to the Candy Castle. So I did get there before her... does that count?

I've been telling M for a long time now that I'm bad at Candyland. "How can you be bad at Candyland?" I know, I know. There is NO skill involved. Apparently the fates just hate me. M didn't actually believe me until a couple months ago when we played a game as a family. If normally I'm bad at Candyland, then this time I was abominable. I couldn't seem to get past Grandma Nut in Peanut Acres without drawing a "candy card" and going backwards. This went on for A LONG TIME. He finally believed me that somewhere along the way I must have crossed the Candyland gods and doomed myself to Candyland failure. But no more! The Candyland gods, for once, smiled on me yesterday. I don't know what changed, but maybe this is beginning of a whole new Candyland life for me!

Friday, November 2, 2007

HD-DVD vs Blu-ray... Round 1... Fight

OK,

G has taken the risk of letting me post on this blog. This is good for me because I don't have nearly the quantity or quality of material necessary to sustain my own blog and this gives me a chance to leach off of someone else.

Down to business.

Many of you are probably unaware that a technological war is going on right now. The war is about what kind of discs will be used to display high definition movies. In case you are unaware DVD's just don't have what it takes to produce a "sharp" picture on today's Hi-Def TVs. I assure you that soon, you will realize that your current television and DVD player don't really cut it and will go out and buy one of these new high tech thingies.

There are two main contenders in this fight. Blu-ray (pronounced Blue-Ray) and HD-DVD. They are fairly similar. Blu-ray stores a little more data, HD-DVD is cheaper to make, blah blah blah.

I'm hoping Blu-ray wins for one simple reason.

I don't really want to say HD-DVD. It is five difficult to pronounce syllables and makes me think of a medical disorder more than a cool new toy. Blu-ray rolls of your tongue and sounds like some kind of super weapon or piece of medical equipment. I feel like I should be able to diagnose someone with HD-DVD using a Blu-ray scanner.

Seriously though, when coming up with a trade mark did they not notice that every other acronym longer than your standard TLA (three letter acronym) is pronounceable? Like DARPA or CORBA or COBOL? Why not just add vowels until you can pronounce it like HIDEDIVID (HIgh DEfinition DIgital VIdeo Disk)? Oh wait, I think I know.

So if for some reason Sony or Toshiba calls you in for a focus group, remember, why use five syllables when two would do?

What Could Make This Blog Geekier?

All right, all right. Enough with my doting mom posts already. I'm sure you've had enough of my kids' costumes. Moving forward...

How would y'all feel about M doing some cameo appearances on my blog? He's expressed interest in being a guest writer. I think he'd be fabulous - much more amusing than me - but I fear I might be biased.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

My Beauty and My Beast





Here is some photo proof that these costumes were apt choices:

"The Beast" trying to climb up the steps rather than pose for a photo while "Beauty" tries to stop him.



"The Beast" making a break for it out into the parking lot as "Beauty" calls for him to stop. 
(Don't forget M rushing in for the save from stage left.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Sneak Preview

We got a new camera! It was time. It has been time for awhile now. The bad days for our camera progressed from mere lines through the picture, to this:

And then finally, it reached the point where the photos were completely unintelligible and no amount of banging, slapping, or knocking it would solve the problem. It reminds me of when our last TV started to give out. It never fully died, it just got to the point where the controls were messed up. You couldn't use the remote and the buttons on the actual TV sometimes didn't do what they were supposed to do. You couldn't change the channels down, only up. And then they would keep changing out of control. Still, I was willing to cope because I'm that cheap, but when we got to the point where pushing the channel down button instead caused the volume to skyrocket up out of control, we started considering a new TV. Even then, I was feeling guilty about spending the money. I didn't give in until M brought me to the realization that I had taken to sitting on the coffee table to watch TV because of not having a remote and needing to repeatedly fiddle with the controls hoping that I would get lucky and land on the correct channel and volume. Fast forward to the present. I finally realized our digital camera had gotten to the point where I was "sitting on the coffee table." Luckily, the new camera arrived yesterday, just in time to record all things Halloween at our house. (Okay, it was more than luck. We paid for a rush order on Newegg to make sure...)

So without further ado...

We carved pumpkins as a family last night. The family pumpkin (the big one) was "designed" (from a limited set of options) by Claire. She kept saying, "Happy pumpkin, I love you SO much!" The other 2 were done by M and I after we got the kids to bed. How computer geeky are we??? I dub them our emotikins. And I've decided that carving pumpkins with a drill and mini-hacksaw is the only way to go.

And, most importantly, I put the finishing touches on the kids costumes today. Just in time too, since we have a church party tonight!

Here is Claire's Belle from Beauty and the Beast ensemble:


Don't forget the accessories: shoes (courtesy of Grandma), hair bow (Claire INSISTED), mock gloves/gauntlets, and matching trick or treat bag


Scott, true to life, is going to be The Beast as Claire's sidekick. Here is the main "prince" part:


Again, don't forget the accessories: shoes (they aren't as mismatched as they look in this photo), matching trick or treat bag, and Beastly head cover. This is the back view showing the stylin' pony tail. The next photo shows the front view.


Now hopefully the kids will actually keep the costumes on...
And now that the costumes are done, maybe I can start living again!

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Guinea Pig

In theory, I blow dry my hair straight most of the time when I actually intend to interact with real human beings (the people I live with and clean up after have disqualified themselves). But the results are often less-than-fabulous. So I have been devouring hair advice from whoorl, as you've probably already noticed. I try to blow dry my hair the way she does on her recent video tutorial, but alas, I'm a hair gimp. (I'd link to the video, but it seems to have disappeared at the moment. She had a bit of a blog explosion a little while ago and I'm not sure she's fully recovered. But here's the post it went with.)

Enter Claire.

I blow dried Claire's hair straight for church a little over a week ago. It was a great way to practice my technique without needing detachable arms. I'm exultant that apparently I'm at least passably capable, because Claire's normal corkscrew jumble became this:


It was so fun to see how long her hair really is!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Recurring Dialogue

Me or M: "Claire, you're so smart!"
Claire: "I sure are!"

Monday, October 22, 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New and Improved Me

For all of you who voted back when me and m'hair were featured on whoorl, feast your eyes on the results here. If you didn't vote, I suppose you can go look anyway...

Can't...Blog....Must.... SEW!!!

Halloween is just 13 days away, EEEK!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Propaganda for NSIM

The issue I'm going to rant about today is straight from M's agenda. He gets so worked up about this issue! He asked me to blog about this and I was happy to oblige. It amazes me that this isn't more of a hot button issue. Forget SCHIP. Forget Blackwater.

What our nation really needs is universal milk cap color coding.

I mean, how do they pick? Do they just throw darts? To become a distributor of dairy products, do you have to sign an agreement that you will ensure that your milk cap colors are completely different than everyone else's? It sure seems that way. How can something so important be left to the color choosing whim of the various dairy companies?

Perhaps y'all (I've decided that I've lived in Texas long enough that I claim the right to this superbly useful plural second person pronoun) don't appreciate the gravity of the milk cap color situation. Let me enlighten you to our plight.

First of all, I hate having to actually read the label of the milk every time I reach into the fridge. See, at our house, it is totally within the realm of possibility to have all 4 "grades" of milk in our fridge at one time. You see, Scott is still under two and is a little bean pole (unlike the thunder-thighs that Claire was as a toddler) so he drinks whole milk. Claire drinks 2% most of the time because that's what her pediatrician suggests. M would probably prefer the whole, but for the cost as much as for his health, he usually drinks 2% too. Then I prefer the "unleaded" variety. Skim is so much better for quenching thirst and for cutting through sweets. When you put away the sweets like I do, you really need something that will dilute the the richness and let you plow ahead with your indulgence. But given the fact that we're all milkaholics, we're always looking for ways to cut down on the number of milk jugs in our fridge. So sometimes, milk supply optimization requires that M, Claire, and I drink 1%. So not only do we have all 4 types of milk, but we have to buy milk pretty much every time we find ourselves at a store that sells it. (Is that a sign of addiction? Never mind...) I mean, it is totally normal for us to go through more than three gallons of milk in a week. And when milk is cheap, we try to stock up as much as possible given expiration dates. So at any given time, we could have 6 gallons of milk in the fridge, each with a different color cap. Total chaos. Every time, I have to read the label to find which milk I'm looking for. And when the jugs are stacked three deep, can you figure out what that one in the back is from the cap you can see? No, of course not! You have to pull the other jugs in front of it out, balancing some precariously on shelf edges and juggling others in your free hand, just to see if that one in the back is a red Costco whole milk or a red HEB 2%.

The second problem is that as conscientious as I am, my husband is well, as loathe as I am to say it, absentminded. So everyone in the house ends up being served the wrong type of milk when he's the milktender. Not that this is the end of the world or anything. I mean, a little more or less milk fat never killed anyone. (Well, not as an immediate result...) But I just have to point out the milk cap color inconsistency is more than his sometimes distracted mind can keep track of. He can't help but automatically reach for certain colors based on our usual purchasing patterns.

I did a little searching and determined that there is at least one other person out there who thinks this is an important issue. Credit to them for the following:

This may not be the exact color scheme I would choose, but goodness, who cares as long as it's standardized!

Monday, October 8, 2007

This is Worse Than a Giant Zit in the Middle of My Forehead

Alright, you've all successfully made me look like an idiot. How humiliating! I've got a measly four comments so far on my last post. I know there are more than four people reading my blog. No really, I do know. I am using Site Meter on my blog. That little icon at the bottom right corner? It means I know people are reading, I'm just not sure who they are. But fine, sit there at your keyboard laughing at me.

This is bringing back unpleasant associations with middle school and high school. I thought I was over the days of wallowing in self-pity due to my social outcast status. Well, I guess I might as well go put back on my old army surplus pants and combat boots, re-dye my hair a fabulous shade of fuchsia, and embrace the fact that I'm horribly unpopular. (Wow! So melodramatic! It's really is like being a teenager again! Are you all laughing at me even more as you picture my past fashion blunders?)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Keep Up the Habit

As many of you are probably aware, yesterday there was a big push in the blogsphere to delurk. I really wanted in on that action, but I suspected that, much like myself, many of you might have been feeling a little commented-out yesterday. So I decided that I would insist that you (yes, YOU!) delurk on my blog today instead. This will help keep you in the commenting habit!

So, here is your food-for-comment:

What is your least favorite holiday?

Cuz, honestly, for me it's Halloween. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to deprive my children and scar them for life or anything by being an anti-Halloween fanatic or anything. Dressing up can be fun. But seriously, can I just have the candy without all the dark creepy stuff? And the girls who use it as an excuse to dress like hookers...

But even if you love/hate all holidays so much you can't pick a winner (loser?), please, let me know you're out there ambiving and leave a comment anyway.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Fridge Update

Before I receive any more undeserved pity, I must announce that my fridge is now fixed. So I only deserve 7 days worth of pity, no more. The repair people actually did come yesterday evening at about 6:30pm. They obviously went to great lengths to come and do my repair and for that I am grateful. It's amazing the kind of results you can elicit when your sob story involves two little kids. Once they actually got here, they were able to fix it in about 10 minutes. Such bitter irony: almost a full week of waiting for 10 minutes of work.

Last night M and I spent a romantic evening cleaning out our fridge. There was an exciting new ecosystem forming in there, but we decimated it with a variety of cleaners. This morning the fridge had been running long enough that I could take everything out of the coolers and put it back in it's proper home. I can just hear my mayonnaise saying, "Ah, home sweet home."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Why Do Stereotypes Have to Prove Themselves True?

All right, appliance gods, we have to talk.

First of all, there's the spelling thing. When I want to use the full name "refrigerator," it uses only a "g," but when I want a shorter way to say it "fridge" has a "d" and "g." What up with that? Do you know how many times a day I've had to remember that distinction in the last 7 days???? Which brings me to the larger issue.

My refrigerator is a glorified cabinet. No wait, it's worse than that because now it's full of melted ice water (from the brief attempt to keep it cold in there with an extra bag of ice we had), rotted produce remains (the stuff that wasn't worth saving), and the smell of warm barbecue sauce. My other cabinets definitely don't have those problems, no matter how bad a housekeeper I am. So make that, "My refrigerator is a big stinky cabinet." I mean, I love Rudy's Sause, but not enough to enjoy "eau de BBQ" every time I open the fridge out of mindless habit. (Why do I keep doing that? You'd think I'd learn. Especially since the only way to get to my fridge is to basically trip over the two big coolers in the middle of the kitchen floor full of ice and all my perishable food staples. I suppose if nothing else, maybe this experience will break my habit of mindlessly opening the fridge when I'm bored.)

How could I abandon my Rudy's Sause to the broken fridge abyss you ask? We all have to make choices in a moment of crisis. I did the best I could... Back when the fridge first started to go, the things made of predominantly vinegar seemed like they would fare better in the slowly deteriorating environment. I mean, better to lose the the mustard and bottles of salad dressing with only a few tablespoons left of whatever creamy dressing whim struck me when I was pregnant than risk a coup when Scott discovered we'd be spending another week where he couldn't drink milk. (Yes, you're doing the math right. I'm not making any announcements about being pregnant again. The salad dressings were past their expiration dates anyway.) The problem became compounded when my first and thoroughly useless repairman came on Friday and my fridge gave up the ghost. Or maybe I should say it gave up the rest of its freon. It used to cool at least a little bit. As I watched, the repairman opened up the back, pointed out a bad weld on what he called a previous repair (previous repair?!?!? your guess is as good as mine...), then touched the suspect spot. This commenced a loud hissing sound that signaled a new chapter in our refrigerator saga. No longer were we in the "mildly cool" stage. No, no! Now we'd progressed to "accelerate bad smells because it's musty and warm in here" stage. So in the interest of whining as much as possible, here is my timeline:

June 23, 2007 - We purchase a brand new (still has all the packaging tape and styrofoam) LG refrigerator from a scratch and dent appliances store. It indeed had some pretty significant cosmetic damage, but since I have two children under the age of 5, this seemed irrelevant. It comes with a full manufacturer's warranty, so everything will be fine, right? (On the cosmetic side of things, it was a good call. My kids have already generated two new dings on the front of this thing in the two months we've been using it.)

July 21 - We actually pick up our new fridge and start using it.

September 22 - We notice that our recently purchased ice cream is more of a chilly soup/foam. It never recovered from the trip home in the trunk. We wonder if we've overloaded the freezer and blocked air flow. We move a couple things to the chest freezer in the garage and turn the freezer a little colder.

September 24 - We notice that things have not improved in our freezer. We completely rearrange everything so that we have even less than before in the freezer and spread it all out in a nice even layer just begging to be frozen. Also, we adjust the temperature again. I begin hunting for our owner's manual. "Which box I haven't unpacked yet did that end up in?" Also, I must not forget to mention that, apparently oblivious to the mounting peril, I go the grocery store for our bi-weekly trip and stock up our fridge. How dumb could I be? But hindsight is 20/20...

September 25 - We try everything suggested in the owner's manual. We start cooking up our own ideas. We leave only a few things in the freezer and place a test cup of water in there to see if it will freeze overnight.

Wednesday September 26 - By morning, the cup of water in the freezer has succeeded only in forming only a very thin layer of ice which begins to disappear as the morning wears on. I decide to call LG. I spend my morning making touch tone selections and listening to hold music. They reffer me to someone who offers to come the next morning, but Claire has a preschool field trip we're all going on, so I put it off until Friday morning. If only I had known then that the freezer inadequacy was just the tip of the melting iceberg. After I set up a repair appointment, I realize the few things we've left in our freezer are now thawed and dripping everywhere. So I transfer what can be salvaged to the other freezer, then start to realize that my problem may be getting worse. Is it me, or is the fridge not quite cold enough? After an hour of conflict, I finally ignore the voice in my head that says, "The fridge is definitely colder than a breadbox (what scale can you use?), the food will be fine" and heed the alarmist voice in my head saying "How will you know if the fridge is cold enough? Do you want another upchuck festival?" (Man, that just keeps coming up, doesn't it? Sorry...) I pull out our cooler and borrow one from the neighbors. I scrounge ice from our house and our poor under-appreciated neighbors.

Friday September 28 - Repairman #1 comes. His name was given to me by LG, so why couldn't he fix anything? He doesn't "do" the sealed system. Well I don't "do" soggy cheese that has been floating in a cooler full of ice and water. So I call LG again and get three different names of other repair companies so I can call until I find someone who does "do" the main components of refrigerators. The first company I call sounds like it will work great. They can't quite squeeze me in that day, so I schedule them to come Monday morning. I try calling the other two companies and leaving messages to see if they can come any sooner. They never return my calls. Hmmm.... I guess we'll wait through the weekend.

Monday October 1 - Repairman is no show. I get a call at about lunchtime telling me that the repair guy is bogged down with some huge job that turned out to be more than they expected. He won't get to me today, he'll come the next morning at 10am so that I'll be back from dropping Claire off at preschool.

Today, Tuesday October 2 - Repairman is no show by 11:30am so I call to see what's up. He's behind but he'll come this afternoon. Well, that's all fine and dandy, but I have to pick Claire up from preschool at 12:15. Now, we all know how this works. If I go, I just KNOW the repair man will definitely come while I'm gone. But as long as I'm here, he'll never show up. I mean, afternoon seems like it would mean later than 12:30, but I'm not willing to bet a likely case of food poisoning on that. At this point, I'd rather eat the soggy ziploc bag of raw bacon we fished out of the cooler yesterday than risk not having my fridge repaired as soon as humanly possible. Ah ha! I need a substitute me! Enter my good friend Liz. I frantically call and have her come stay at my house while I go get Claire. She is under strict orders to pretend to be me at all costs if the repair people try to make contact. (What will I do when Liz finally finds a job? Then she won't be available for crisis impersonations and other sundry shenanigans!) Of course, the repair company does call while I'm gone. Of course. They tell her some sob story about how they're short-handed and over-worked. Cry me a river... Wait, I'm already up to my neck in river generated by melting ice in my kitchen. They tell her/me that they'll try to come later in the afternoon but that if I'm desperate, I can see if LG will just send me a replacement fridge. He also says this would probably take about 3 weeks. Gee, I wonder what I'll pick???? Anyway, at about 4:30pm today, I called to see if they were still going to come now that afternoon was rapidly turning into evening. They said they'll still come before they finish up for the day. I'll believe it when I see it.

Everyone jokes about how terrible it is getting warranty repair work done. Everyone jokes about how terrible repairmen are about coming when they say they will.

I hate living in a joke.