Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

We have a sort of New Year's Eve tradition. When we have nothing else planned (which is almost every year), I make up a bunch of tasty appetizers, we watch Dick Clark and toast the new year with sparkling cider or grape juice. Sometimes, on rare occasions, we actually have some champagne on hand. This year I think I'll pop open the bottle of bubbly John got last year as a Christmas gift. I hope it's still good. I have no clue how long champagne stays "good" in the fridge.

This year's treats will include pigs in a blanket and mini quiche. John couldn't find the Greek spinach thingies in filo dough (spanikopita). Love that stuff. I also forgot to order my other fav New Year's Eve treat...seafood chowder from Legal Seafoods. I plan to order some as soon as I post this entry. I'll eat it later this week. What can I say...I'm giving in to my craving. :-)

It also looks like we'll be getting some snow tonight. What do your plans look like for New Year's?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Morning...the Video

OK. I've had a few inquiries to see the less than stellar Tyler reaction to a tree full of gifts from Santa. It IS pretty funny, now that I look at it again. So sure, I'll post it. Sometimes I just don't understand this kid. What a character! :-)



You think his arms were tired then??? Wait until he went to bed that night after playing his new Wii all day long. Heh! Talk about sore!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Do the Happy Dance with me, people!

Woo hoo! With the Amazon gift cards I got for Christmas (thanks Mom, Dad and Karen) plus the gift certificates I've been saving up with my Amazon Rewards Visa card (can you tell I shop on Amazon a lot???); I managed to save $290 on my new Canon Digital Rebel XTi 10.1MP digital SLR camera with a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. I have no flippin idea what the lens stuff means, but I understand it's a starter lens that professionals would thumb their noses at. LOL! But I am a beginner when it comes to a camera like this, so I should start slow.

Along with the camera, I bought a bag, battery, neck strap and a professional grade CF card (the camera has a high speed burst mode, so I thought it would be good to have memory that can keep up). [SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!] I got the camera strap for free, thanks to an Amazon promotion. I also got $25 off my order because of the camera bag I picked. I threw in some new towels that were on sale and 2 travel trays for the boys to use in the van and in the end, my almost $900 shopping cart order was down to $538! And the money my Mom gave me for Christmas will cover that.

Happy dance! Wooop wooop...mash potato...wooop wooop....watusi....wooop wooop....now do the monkey! And pony out of the room....wooop wooop!

It's Good to be HOME!

It's been several years since we spent Christmas morning anywhere else but our own living room. For various reasons, my family didn't see us at all last year for any of the holidays; so we decided to make it up to them by spending a few days over Christmas. Honestly, I can't recommend a long car trip in a vehicle with no trunk. It's tricky trying to hide all those presents from curious eyes! Not to mention the fact that Max is NOT a good long haul traveler. The last two hours of the ride I felt like a vaudeville performer in my efforts to keep him from wailing (there are only so many ways to puppeteer a paper cut out of Elmo). The last 30 minutes of the ride, I had to pull out the secret weapon. I blew bubbles into the back seat until my throat was raw.

My mother was on her best behavior (thanks Mom!) but my Dad was up to his usual tricks. We don't call him Grumpy Grampy for nuthin. Luckily his crotchety moments weren't too bad (I've packed up and gone home days early, in the past).

We had a birthday dinner for my brother at a favorite local Chinese restaurant on Christmas eve. Good food and great company. The boys were on their best behavior too. Thanks to Grampy for picking up the tab.

Christmas morning...Santa was very good to my boys. I think we kept Tyler waiting a bit long to go see the tree. He had to wait for Mommy and Max to wake up. Then he had to wait for his Grands to get out of bed (they were a bit slow at 7am - the "Tyler" alarm clock is a shock to the system at that hour). Then he had to wait for Grandma to get out of the bathroom (what the heck does she DO in there for that long???) Then he had to wait for Grampy to make coffee and finish doing the dishes (wait...what??? Hurry UP Grampy!) By the time I got the video rolling on my camera, Tyler strolled in and just stood there with very little reaction. Where was the excited screams? The shreds of paper flying everywhere as he tore into his gifts? WTF? LOL! The video is dead boring. Oh well. You'll just have to watch the cute video of Max playing with Tyler's new race car.

My mother shocked the CRAP out of me with her Christmas gift. She is terrible at keeping a secret, but she managed to stay mum about receiving an inheritance from her Aunt. She shared a little of the wealth with my brother and I via a check in our Christmas cards. I cried. It was so unexpected! Money and my mother are not soon parted, unless she's at the mall and it comes in a size 2! Thanks Mom! I was wondering why she kept hinting that Santa might have brought the camera I've been dreaming about. John was nervous that she was raising my expectations so high. He knew what was in the two wrapped packaged he gave me from the boys (a back scratcher from Tyler and a new game for my Nintendo DS from both boys).

As a return favor, I shocked the crap out of both my parents with the announcement that I had connected with my bio-mom, Liz. But seriously, I told them on the 23rd. I didn't want to spring the news on Christmas day. What a bomb to drop that would have been. They took the news fairly well. My Mother had lots of questions (primarily on whether Liz had asked about HER and what had I told her.) *sigh* I wish she wasn't so worried about how everyone else on the planet thinks of her and worry more about what she thinks of herself - or how her daughter thinks of her. Ah well. I can't knock her too much. She paid me! LOL! Just kidding. I am totally getting that new camera, tho. [squeeeeeeee!]

Uncle Mike and Aunt Katia were present rock stars this year (so were Grandma Lois and Uncle Greayer and Aunt Anne). They got the perfect things for Tyler and Max. Good job, guys. Only one glitch...Max was TERRIFIED of TMX Elmo. I feel a little ashamed that I laughed at his reaction. But it was too funny! He would pick up Elmo, carry him to me, I would tickle Elmo, and Max would stare for a moment then his lip would quiver and he would burst out crying. Awww! He did NOT like how Elmo threw himself around on the floor in a laughing fit. They aren't kidding when they say this Elmo is extreme. He's practically maniacal.

The rest of our stay was pretty uneventful. The drive home was hellish. Once again, Max is NOT a long haul traveler. We had to stop sooooo many times. Ugh. I'm so glad to be home. And now for some photos:

John's Birthday Party/Christmas with Grandma Lois

Christmas with Grandma Carol and Grampy Bob


Max and the Smash n Crash Racer:

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Shhh! Santa just came...

I'd post a photo of the tree, but I can't find my darn cable! I think the boys will be pleased. Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hello Kitty! Come and Eat ME!


We have a new furry friend. He and his mate have been visiting us just about every day out on the back deck. Sparty, however, does NOT want to be friends.

Can't say I blame him. I swear that squirrelly couple do everything in their power to drive Sparts to the brink of madness. Poor cat has been trying to claw his way through the back door. Since he has no claws in his front feet, I just hear his little toe pads rubbing the glass with a squork squork squork sound that has me practically rolling on the ground with laughter.

I watch as one of the furry fellas comes up about a foot away from the glass, turns his back to the cat and flaps his tail up and down, side to side. I can vividly imagine a sort of Alvin the Chipmunk voice taunting, "Here, kitty kitty! Don't I look taaaaaasty?"

I better get some more nuts at the store. I just threw my last handful out there. Ahem. Yes, I have been encouraging them to come back. I'm a baaaaaaad kitty momma.




Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Baby!

It's John's birthday today. It is his birthday wish that from this moment on, we no longer acknowledge his actual chronological age. He is officially 46 forever. Or was it 47. I forget. Ooops.

Say What?

I can't believe I forgot to post this little exchange from a couple weeks ago:


Tyler came racing into the house after school, obviously very excited about something.

"Mommy! Mommy! We have to go to the store!"

"Why, sweetie?"

"We need to buy 8 candles!"

"8 candles? Why???"

"For Harmonica! Harmonica starts soon!"

Ah. My eyes welled up with tears from suppressed laughter.

"OK hun, I'll get right on that. You want to call Uncle Jeff and Aunt Beth to wish them a Happy Harmonica? I'll bet they would really appreciate that."

"Nah. Maybe later Mommy. I'm going to play ToonTown now."

OK son. Oh, and happy belated Harmonica to all my Jewish friends.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pitcher

Rewind: 1975 Becky is sitting on her bed reading a book, minding her own business.


*BOOM* *CRASH*


A look of alarm crosses my face as I race to the window to see what is making that horrible racket. Down on the driveway, I see a couple of my little brother's toys. One of them is smashed to bits. Movement out of the corner of my eye makes my head turn to the left just as something comes flying out of the house.


*SMASH*


Another toy hits the pavement and disintegrates.

"Michael!!!!" I run into my brother's bedroom next door.

He has his window wide open and a collection of toys on his bed. One by one he rapidly flings them out the window and watches them fall to their doom. Only his Tonka dump truck and another vehicle called a Pounder truck survive...a testament to their respective manufacturers.


Fast Forward: 2007 Becky is sitting at her desk quietly typing an email, minding her own business


*BOOM* *SMASH*


"Max!!!!" A small figure standing on Tyler's low computer table turns away from the railing to grin at me.

He has a collection of toys on the table next to Tyler's monitor and is flinging them through the railing into the living room below.

I smack my hand to my forehead and massage the sore spot between my eyes.

I can't wait to tell this little incident to Uncle Mike at Christmas.


Ho Ho Ho, y'all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On Being Adopted...

That fact that my brother and I were adopted was never a secret in our house. My parents were very open about it. They COULD have kept it a secret and I never would have questioned it; that is, until I studied genetics in high school. They would have been hard pressed to explain away their blue eyes and connected ear lobes (I have neither). As a child I would proudly tell my friends that my mother had never had a baby, but yet she had 2 children. It was like my own personal riddle. Most of my friends never guessed the answer to that one, but once I told them, they would run home and tell their parents.

I never set out to be the root of all neighborhood gossip and I felt badly when my mother came to me and asked if I'd told little Sarah that I was adopted. (Her mother had called all full of probing questions...the woman had no self-censor.) My mother reminded me that while it wasn't a secret in our own family, she wished I wouldn't talk about being adopted with my friends. Mother didn't like thinking about the reasons why she and my father had turned to adoption to start their family and much preferred the harmless fiction of people assuming my brother and I had arrived in the "normal" fashion.

There was just one problem. I didn't FEEL normal. I had an imagination that was off the charts. It would get me in trouble in school because I would just drift away into my own head. I spent a lot of time wondering where my "other" mother was, what she was doing and if she ever thought about me. It didn't help that I was made to feel like I should simply be grateful that I was placed in a better environment than I probably would have had otherwise.

When I hit puberty, my personality underwent a pretty dramatic change. I became more withdrawn and sullen. I was full of resentment over what I felt was the excessive control my parents were trying to exert over my life. I blamed my parents for everything that was wrong and put them through the wringer. I was constantly on the brink of an emotional explosion and my parents caught most of the fallout.

In my most angry moments, I would yell about their past mistakes and dredge up every slight and hurt I could think of. I would THINK about telling them they were bad parents and that I bet my "real" mother would have been better than them. I didn't really think that. I just knew it would rip their hearts out to hear it. But I never crossed that line, even in my most angry moments.

I wasn't a bad teen, really. My rebellion was very mild compared with most other kids my age. Sure I missed a few curfews. Yes, I tried smoking. Yes, I dated a boy they didn't like and when they forbid me to see him, I would sneak around to be with him. But I never tried drugs. I never drank (not until college anyway). I was sort of a wimpy rebel.

At one point I asked my mother to reiterate all the information she had about my birth parents. She got very defensive and evasive. One of her deepest fears was that I would leave home to go on some insane search. Honestly, I was on the brink of running away from home a number of times, but I was too smart to follow through on the impulse. I just always had the feeling that my parents weren't telling me the whole story. They were keeping something from me.

Once again, my vivid imagination reared it's head and I had all kinds of horrible scenarios play out in my mind. My adoption wasn't legal, I was actually the victim of a kidnapping. I was the product of rape. I was abandoned in a bus station. I was a twin (or more) and my parents only wanted one child at a time, so my sibling went somewhere else. You name it, I thought of it.

My curiosity and my need to KNOW was overwhelming. No one really understood. Even my own brother, who was in the same boat as me, showed no curiosity whatsoever. He never expressed any interest in doing a search. Me? I would search the faces of people on the street looking for a resemblance and wonder if I would recognize a biological family member if I ever saw them.

In my 20s, I got busy with life in general. My search was always at the back of my mind, but I had more pressing issues. Finding an apartment, paying my bills, dealing with work pressures, and waiting for my long time boyfriend to finally pop the question.

Many years later, after being happily married for quite a while, we starting trying to have a family. Having a baby was VERY important to me. Not only was I eager to be a mother, but it would finally give me that biological tie to someone - a baby with my looks, brains and talent (stop laughing!). It would also enable me to give my mother the greatest gift of all, the experience of being in the delivery room to watch her grandchild being born. I knew missing that experience was one of the biggest disappointments of her life.

We were struck yet again by the fickle finger of fate. I had a host of female problems that made it impossible for me to conceive or carry a child. I was lucky in one respect. The devastation of infertility and the journey to adoption was not as big a stretch as it can be for some. Adoption as a way to start our family was always an option, right from the start. And that option worked out very well for us. I have two beautiful boys now, but there was still something missing.

I built a great relationship with the birth mothers of my boys. It made my heart glad to know that Tyler and Max would never face the uncertainty, curiosity and sense of loss that private adoption can foster. They would never have the same questions or feelings of disconnectedness that I always had. But at the same time, the joy I had in the openness and freedom of my new family only served to remind me of that missing piece of my soul. I wasn't a complete person.

Shortly after Tyler was born, I had a long conversation with my mother. She was fearful of open adoption and had a lot of concerns she wanted to voice. It was a great opportunity for me to explain my feelings to her. I think I finally made her understand how much the "not knowing" had hurt me over the years. How my birth family would always be a part of who I was and my joy in how that part would never be missing from my children. A short time later she handed me an envelope that would rock my world.

From the moment I was placed in their arms as an infant, my parents had also received a copy of some court documents that detailed the termination of my birth mother's rights. They looked at the documents once, and then sealed them away in a safe deposit box never to be spoken of again. I opened that ancient manila envelope and there, in black and white, was my birth mother's last name.

At first I was angry. My parents had been evasive about the agency I was adopted from. They had denied for decades that they had any additional information they could share. And yet, there it was. Hard evidence of their deception.

I got over my anger in time. I finally had something to go on. A name. With my husband's encouragement, I researched Kansas adoption law online and registered with a reunion registry (Adoption.com). I found out the agency that handled my adoption was still in business and contacted them. I contacted the state and requested a copy of my original birth certificate which revealed even more information about my birth mother. I requested information on doing a search and was sent all the forms I needed. You all know the rest of the story. The forms sat on my desk as I let everyday life keep me too busy to take that critical next step.

What I didn't know was that my bio-mom was also looking, and at around the same time I was. I had plugged her name into Google a few years ago just to see if there were any genealogical sites on the family name. There was just no way to be sure if who and what we found had any real relevance. I needed to bite the bullet and send in those forms. Goodness knows I didn't want to start calling every family with that last name in Kansas and the surrounding states in the hopes I would just get lucky. That kind of bull in a china shop approach just didn't feel right.

This was one of those times that my tendency to procrastinate finally paid off. She found me first. And with Google, no less.

I hope my "other" mother and her family have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I already got the best present I could have ever asked for. Thank you Liz. I am finally starting to feel whole.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

12 Days of Christmas

My all time favorite version of this Christmas song is the Muppets version (with John Denver).


But this season I feel like the 12 days are moving more at THIS pace:


Yeah. Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays everyone!

Christmas AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!

What's that word my dad always loved to use? Oh yes...this season it's been one boondoggle after another.

1. Oh how I tried to get a photo of my two boys together and smiling. Who knew it would be an impossible task and I would need professional help?! I just wish the opportunity to have the family photos done had arrived SOONER. Because...

2. The portrait I selected for our Christmas card took SO long to get here that the place where I normally get my cards done wouldn't be able to send them before Christmas. So I shopped around. That took HOURS of research. Finally found that my local CVS could have them done in 2-4 days (according to the website) and I could just pick them up at my local store. Perfect! Just one problem. Today is day 4 after I sent in my order and what do I get in my email? A shipping notification. Yep. My card are done and it will now take 2-4 business days for them to SHIP to my local store. Grrr! So I guess I am sending New Year's cards this year.

3. I finally got a call back from my mother with gift ideas. The idea for my dad was primo! I hopped right on to Amazon and ordered it. The item was in-stock and would arrive (according to the website) 2 days before we headed up to my parent's house for Christmas. Groovy! A few days later I got another one of those craptastic "shipping notifications" that said the estimated arrival date of my package was 2 days AFTER we leave. Swell. No clue what I'm going to do now.

4. My mother's idea for herself? Same as last year. Buy a few more dishes from her kitchen china pattern. Uh, yeah. There's just one problem. Those dishes were discontinued 2 YEARS AGO. Mom says, "But you were able to find some last year!" Sure. After I spent a week calling every freakin' store in the states of PA, NJ, and CT. I lucked out and found one store that still had some stuck in a storage room and basically bought everything they had. No such luck this year. I did manage to find a lady in Canada who had one bowl on Ebay. I won the auction, but there is no way it will arrive before Christmas. *sigh*

5. I spaced. The boys didn't get to visit Santa yet this year. Where is my mind at??? Maybe I can make a mall run sometime this week when Tyler gets home from school.

6. It's been a few years since we've celebrated Christmas morning any place other than our own home. How the heck are we going to transport all these gifts in the same van with the boys??? Good gravy. That also means I need to wrap everything before we leave. Yikes!

7. I hope to heck I have some Christmas wrapping paper left from last year. Yep. I didn't buy any this year. I miss the cool catalog I used to get from Ty's preschool. Gotta love those fund raisers.

John just walked in with a stack of boxes from the postal lady. Cross fingers that the stupid Amazon shipping notification lied and one of these boxes is my Dad's gift. Oh pretty please...


Edited later: YES!! Amazon rules! One of the boxes was my Dad's gift. Whew. One less stressor.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Creative Gift Giving...

Ha! I can't remember buying so many gift cards and certificates in one year before. It's going to be REALLY dull Christmas morning when everyone ooo's and ahhh's over their little envelopes. *yawn* But no one would give me any ideas this year! And I couldn't think of anything they might need on my own. Oh well. At least it's not cash. I am forcing them to go shopping in a store they love.

Honestly? All I really want for Christmas are lots of THESE:


Seriously! I am saving up for a new camera. Plus I get points on my Amazon credit card when I buy all my stuff there which earns me MORE Amazon gift certificates.

You can buy ANYTHING at Amazon. I'm not joking. I just bought baby socks, an electric shaver, christmas cookies, a Terry's chocolate orange, and new towels for the bathroom. Plus lots of other stuff that escapes me at the moment.

So see? An Amazon gift card is the perfect gift. (Kim, I hope you like yours when it arrives. LOL!)

Police Action and Mug Shots

Life is never dull in this house. The other day, John was in his usual morning rush to get Tyler ready for school and out the door (Ty's feet tend to turn to lead when we try to rush him to do anything.) As the boys were headed out the front door, John did his typical move to activate our alarm system. The alarm is on a 60 second delay. Why turn on the alarm when you are only driving 5 minutes down the road and back again? Well...because we leave the front door unlocked. Don't ask. Sometimes we just don't make sense in the things we do.

Well, Tyler forgot something, so they ran back into the house before the time had run out on the alarm set. Good for me and Max, since we were both still fast asleep and I have no desire to use that blaring siren as an alarm clock. Unfortunately, Tyler left the front door ajar, so when the count down reached zero, the house alarm started to go off anyway; for about 3 seconds. John rapidly punched in our code and turned it off (the siren let out a feeble squawk only). I opened my eyes briefly but went right back to sleep. Max didn't even budge.

No big deal, right? John waited for a minute or two to see if the alarm company would call and then left again to drive Tyler. Moments after they left, the phone rang (I assume this part, since I was already back to sleep.) They also called John's cell phone (which was off and attached to the charger in our kitchen.) What happens when the alarm company calls and there is no one here to tell them our secret password? That's right. They call the police.

The police arrived in minutes (must have been a slow morning). The nice officer looked all around our house and tried the doors and windows - leaving the front door for last. The front door that John left UNLOCKED. The nice officer knocked. He opened the door a crack and called inside. I rolled restlessly in my half asleep state and wondered if I heard a man's voice yelling in the living room...

Have I mentioned recently that I sleep in the nude? Want to see our mug shots?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28485147@N00/2111309393/

I'm just kidding. That photo was taken during our session to have a family portrait done a couple weeks ago. Here are the other two shots.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28485147@N00/2111309151/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28485147@N00/2112087916/ (I hate how I look in this one)

Yep. This story could have ended up like an X rated sitcom, if John hadn't arrived home at that exact moment. He explained about the alarm to the nice officer who took a report and went on his merry way, after sternly telling my hubby to ALWAYS LOCK THE FRONT DOOR.

A little embarrassing, yes, but it could have been so much worse. I do NOT want the cops bursting into my bedroom when I am nude and half asleep, thanks very much.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Incredible News! (Why I love Google...)

Just a quick warning for my parents. If you find this post, you might not want to read. I don't want to upset you.


Something amazing happened the beginning of this week. I've been dying to share with my bloggy pals! Remember these posts from a while back, this one and this one? I could use Max as an excuse for why I never mailed in the forms to officially enlist the State of Kansas in my search. But honestly, I've always been bad about filling out forms. I HATE having to write things out long hand. Seriously, in this day and age, I get annoyed if I can't do things online. I want to TYPE a form. But I digress...

I got a mysterious email Sunday night asking me to visit a new profile on one of the photo sharing sites. My heart skipped several beats as I read an introduction from a woman who said she was my birth mother. At first I cried. Then I got angry. I honestly thought it was too good to be true and that someone was messing with me.

After exchanging several emails and doing some fact/background checking, I came to realize it really IS her. I feel badly for questioning her identity the way I did, but I had to be sure. I've wanted to search for her for so long and always hesitated (damn the media for creating all this fear over reunions gone bad.) For the last 5 days, there has been a nightly exchange of photos and information. I've been in this giddy, surreal state of mind. It's overwhelming!

I have to laugh a bit over how she found me. You hear people talk about using Google to locate people..."I just Googled her and voila. There she was." Well, she Googled me! Well, not ME exactly, but my birth date/location. She found entries from my blog, saw her maiden name and knew she'd found the right person.

Well everyone, say hi to Liz. She reads my blog and I have her permission to talk about her. I won't be sharing any photos or anything until we both get things squared away with our families. I hope to meet her in person one day soon. We'll see how things go (I'm sure the weather here will conspire against me, at least until Spring.) Now I just have to screw up my courage and tell my parents. I'll be seeing them at Christmas. Pray for me.

Yay Google!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's coming! Run for your...supermarkets!

SNOW! Good grief, from the news you'd think the Storm of the Century was about to hit. The predictions start at 6 inches. Yowza! Anywho...John made the mandatory panic trip to the supermarket so we could stock up (him and 500 other people he fought through to get to the checkout). "We could be snow bound for days!" OK, hun. What ever you say. I just want the phone to ring at 5:30am again (darn that school emergency auto-phone-tree) so we can all sleep in.


In other news...I had an experience today that I've heard about from other mothers and always dreaded. Max removed his poo filled diaper and created a scene of poopie carnage right in the middle of my new rug. Of course it had to be the new rug. I had flashbacks to when Ty was this age and the moms in my mother's group would joke about using duct tape to prevent their little ones from doing this horrific act. Some really DID use duct tape. I just kept Ty perpetually in onsies so he couldn't get at the diaper tabs.

You'd think I would have learned my lesson. But no. Max had on a onsie, but I'd left it unsnapped at the crotch because his inner thighs looked a bit chaffed. Oye that little stinker! If I hadn't snapped and blown a Mommy gasket, maybe it would have occurred to me to snap photos like another Mommy blogger I currently read (she always seems to remember to take photos of the poop oopses).

Back to the snow for a moment...

I won't panic over a measly 6 inches of snow. Oh no. The snow accumulation has to look like THIS before I will panic:


This is me and my little brother after the blizzard of 1978 (Bedford, Massachusetts) See our mailbox down there on the lower left? We are sitting at least 4 feet above that 4 foot tall mailbox post.

Now people, that THERE is some snow! Am I right? ;-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

DONE!

Woo hoo! I just finished my Christmas shopping. Have I mentioned lately how much I lurve the internets? OK, so this years' gifts lack imagination. What can I say? Almost everyone asked for gift cards. Except my Dad. He will have an actual gift to open.

Speaking of gift cards... Tyler got quite a few from Toys R Us for his birthday (thanks everyone who gave him one!). When we realized how much they all added up to, it was a no-brainer deciding what to buy with them. John bought Ty a Nintendo DS a couple years ago when we were away on vacation. Since that time, that old DS has taken a serious beating. I can't tell you how many times it has been dropped, thrown, and/or punched (Ty is a sore loser). It was being held together with two plastic loop ties and looking pretty sad. So Ty got a shiny new DS Lite in red and black. And John promptly took it away from him this morning when he saw Tyler lose his temper and punch the screen. We are working on that with him.

No one is going to want to play with him if he keeps acting that way.

Fun and Charity

We're back from our weekend-o-fun at Great Wolf Lodge. You may remember that it has become an annual tradition to take Tyler there to celebrate his birthday. Going forward, this annual tradition will become a birthday treat for both Tyler and Max. We're still trying to decide if we'll go in November - sort of at the half way point between both boys' birthdays; or perhaps we'll wait until January or a suitable school vacation so we can stay a bit longer and escape the winter chill. We'll see.

A few photos from our weekend are here. I seem to have lost my photo mojo lately. I've been very dissatisfied with almost every picture I take. I'm saving up for a new camera, so maybe one day I'll get my groove back. I just can't seem to make my old Canon do what I want it to do anymore. I've outgrown it's limited capabilities I think.

Switching gears...

Tis the season for gift giving (and I sure do love getting gifts), but I know many of you see this season as an opportunity to give in other ways. If you are in the habit, as I am, of setting aside funds for charity and you are looking for the right place to spread your meager wealth, please check out:

ModestNeeds.Org - Small Change. A World Of Difference.

Every year I make donations to a few select charities, including Modest Needs. The great thing about them is they help out regular Joes like you and I. Hard working folks who spend most of their time living pay check to pay check (and maybe carry a little credit card debt for those unexpected emergencies). At any moment, disaster can happen in the form of a hospitalization, or huge and unexpected expenses like your vehicle needing repair or something vital in the home breaking down.

When those bills hit, they can hit hard and leave some folks with the tough choice of paying rent or buying food (but not both). If you make a good salary, there aren't many places you can turn to for help. Most charities and programs are geared toward folks below the poverty line. Where can the rest of us turn when we need a little extra help over the short term to pay that one bill we just don't have the cash for? Modest Needs is there to fill that void.

This time of year is especially hard with home heating costs at an all time high. Not to mention the large number of people being screwed by suddenly ballooning mortgage payments. It's scary to me how just a couple hundred more dollars a month can drain the average family and cause them to lose the home they worked so hard to buy.

Another nice thing about Modest Needs is their low overhead. If you are like me, donating $5 to UNICEF or some other big charity is almost embarrassing. Once the charity takes their operations cut, how much is actually left to help? Not much. But $5 actually makes a difference and adds up with Modest Needs.

Modest Needs currently has 469 applicants looking for help with bills and expenses in the month of December. Wouldn't it be cool if all 469 of them could look forward to a happy holiday season? I hope you can take a moment and click the banner above to check them out. Read some of the testimonials. You might be surprised how a little can go a long way.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Stocking Stuffers

I need some help! So far, I have 2 cool aluminum travel sport bottles and 2 holiday scented giant bath fizzy balls for the boys' stockings. I've been looking for some cute holiday candy dispensers or something, but I'm not having much luck. Any thoughts out there in the blogosphere?

I know for many the stocking is an after thought, but when I was growing up, my brother and I would save our super long Christmas stockings for last. We wanted to savor each item. It drove my mother nuts that very often our favorite holiday gift would be some trinket we found in our stockings.

I've continued the tradition with Tyler (and now Max too) and he eagerly looks forward to dumping out his stocking to see what goodies Santa brought him. It's going to be hard to top last year. I was on fire! I found the coolest stuff.

This year? Not so much.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Damn! Where's that extinguisher?!?!

My husband, bless his heart, has the best of intentions. I know he does. I appreciate it more than he knows when he helps out around the house. Really! But a couple days ago I was left scratching my head at his house cleaning methods.

We have 2 cats. Sparty the gray tiger and Sasha the tabby with patches of white, tiger, black and tan. Sasha is 16 years old and has been bulimic for most of his life. Seriously. He will binge eat and then make himself throw up. I love him, but this nasty eating disorder can make it hard at times.

While my husband was running the Hoover around the dining room, Sasha was in the hallway purging his latest gorgefest. What does husband do when he encounters the wet, fresh pile of cat puke? He vacuums it up...and sets the Hoover on fire.

With thick black smoke POURING out of the vac, he carries it rapidly to me and asks my opinion. OMG! Throw it outside! THROW IT OUTSIDE FAST!

So I watch my poor Hoover smoking away on the front lawn and wonder what the next step should be. The lawn is covered with leaves and it hasn't rained any time recently. If the leaves go up in flames, so will the house.

Luckily the fire never spread to the leaves.

I think now would be a good time to make my sweet hubby aware of a new item on my Amazon Wish List:


That would be the Dyson Animal DC-17. Isn't it purty?! Yeah. Now would be a good time to win the lottery.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

PaaaarrrrTAY!

As a Mom, I don't seem to do much that impresses my jaded kindergartner. Today, however, my street cred went up several points in his estimation. I volunteered to work at the annual Holiday Boutique and Craft/Vendor Fair at Tyler's school. I was put right to work as the lady who takes the money for the Holiday Boutique. Daddy brought the boys down to check out the trinkets for sale. Ty's eyebrows shot up when he came to pay for his toys. Mommy was the "banker"! (He loves to play Life with his Dad.)

Later, after I got home, Tyler came over to me and whispered; "Mommy? Since you take care of all that money, can I get mine back for the clock I bought?" What a scam artist! I told him the money we raised was for projects at his school, so nope. No freebies! He told me he was proud of me and that my job was "cool". Heh.

Then it was time to get ready to par-tay! I had 18 treat boxes shaped like a slice of birthday cake to assemble and fill (Tyler decorated them with Pokemon stickers). And off to Time In we went for Tyler's 6th birthday celebration. Ty invited his entire class plus his best pal from pre-school and we had a very good turnout. Photo and video montage below...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm just weird that way...

Sometimes the seemingly random firing of my brain synapses come up with an idea that surprises me. Today? I was sitting in my place of deep thought (a.k.a. The Bathroom) and my thought train derailed with this:

Tyler John and Max. TJ and Max. TJMax. OMG! Was I thinking of the retail chain somewhere in my subconscious when I named my boys?! Nah. I never shop there...

See. Told you I was weird.

So, shifting gears... I experienced an extra special convergence of the Scalzi Law of Internet Invocation last week. Apparently some ex-students of a former teacher of mine were conducting an internet search to try and locate the aforementioned teacher (something about a reunion invite) and they came across my blog entry from a few years ago.

When they finally located my former teacher, they also remembered my blog post and decided to send him a copy. They let me know via a comment on a recent post (to my shock). Then I got a comment from my former teacher with his email address (to my even greater shock). So I sent him an email. Today I got the nicest email in reply. Turns out my former teacher liked my post about him so much that he read it to his kids and grand-kids over Thanksgiving. How about that! Not only does HE know how much I appreciated him, but now his family does too. It doesn't get much more special than that.

Hi Mr. Maxwell! I just hope my kids have a teacher some day as wonderful as you were. Keep in touch.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Stubborn? He learned from the best...

Max! Lunch time! Look what Mommy made for you (from Taco Bell). Mmm! Soft taco! All cut up in nice bite size bits. Yummo! Here you go. Try it! [try to put morsel in child's mouth]

Max: Uhhh! [turns his face away]

Come on sweetie. Here, you feed yourself. [place plate in front of child]

Max: Uhhhhhh! [pushes plate away forcefully and shakes head]

Awww Maxie...it's really good! Just taste it for Mommy... [try again to get morsel into child's mouth]

Max: UHHHHHH! [grabs bite from my hand and throws it on the floor]

Fine. I know you are hungry. I'll put this plate on the table and you just go eat it when you are ready. Mommy is going to eat HER taco now (and her burrito too).

Max: Uhhh? [climbs up onto sofa beside mommy and reaches for her taco]

Honey, this is Mommy's. Yours is over there on the table. It's the same thing. Honest.

Max: AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! [mouth wide open, reaching for my taco]

Alright already! Here, have a bite. OK. Have another bite. More? You like Mommy's taco, eh? You know it tastes the same as Max's, right? Fine. You eat Mommy's. I'm going to eat Max's. [nibbles on tiny taco tidbits and sighs]


p.s. Thanks to my darling husband, I got my driver's license renewed yesterday (and the chance to stop at Taco Bell on the way home). He did some research and found that we could go to the court house or municipal office in the jurisdiction where we got married to get a copy of our marriage license. So he went to Montville and they gave him a copy right on the spot (for a fee). Yay! I don't know what we would have done if I had to wait 4 months for a copy from the state department of vital statistics.

And my photo didn't turn out too badly. I look like I typically look on an average day when I get the chance to shower, comb my hair and put on street clothes. :-) OK, so that doesn't happen all that often.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I guess I don't love ALL Apple products...



I'm not usually political, but this was just too good not to post.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Family Fun Day

We avoided "Black Friday" like the plague and took the boys to the Crayola Factory instead. It's nice when the whole family does something together. Not too exciting, but a sweet video about our day:



So, did you brave the Mongol Hoards and go shopping today? Get any good deals?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!


We had a nice day over at Grandma's house. Photos here. Tomorrow we're off to the Crayola Crayon factory. More photos to follow, I'm sure. ;-)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Monkey Max

I don't know who stole my sweet, easy-going child and substituted him with this clingy, whiny and willful child; but they'd better bring him back PDQ! Once upon a time Max would wake with a grin, eat what ever I put in front of him (with relish!) and then play happily on his own or with me (he was good, either way) for hours until he would finally ask for a nap.

Now? If I say no or don't touch, he throws himself on the floor with all the drama his little body can muster. He will thrash and whine and carry on until he nearly turns blue. I just roll my eyes and wait for him to run out of air. Then I talk to him quietly and he calms down. I figured out really fast that it didn't work to try and shout over his tantrums. He can out-yell me every time.

It's possible this phase is partly caused by Max's (and my) recent illness. We were both sick for weeks. Today I am finally starting to feel a little better. Max slept until 9:30 this morning and he seems a lot more chipper too. I do see signs that he is starting to take after his big brother, unfortunately. Or maybe it's his Daddy. He used to just eat what ever I gave him. Lately he makes a face and turns away from what ever is on the fork. Even for things I know he loves.

My husband's first reaction to any request is to say no. Then he'll just do it. I don't know why he always says no. I've wondered about that for years. Max says no to everything I try to feed him, then he will eventually take a bite, realize it's tasty, and eat. All I can do is shrug.

This morning Max was just hilarious. I made him some wheat toast with butter. I thought I'd try something new on him and brought out the grape jelly too. He was happy with the buttered toast, but oh my heavens! the reaction to the jelly! He FREAKED OUT! He literally threw himself backward away from my hand and smacked his head on the floor. You'd think I was holding out a big bug for him to eat!

Once he stopped crying he climbed up onto the sofa and watched me eat some toast with jelly. I cut a slice into quarters and pretended I wasn't watching him. Sure enough, he dipped his finger into the jelly. Then he took a piece and tasted it. Next thing I know, he's eaten 3/4 of the slice and is sucking the jelly off the last tidbit. All I could do was laugh! What a kid.

Now, if you'll excuse me... I have to go find the jelly. Max took the bottle off the table and ran into the other room with it. I think he likes it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Snow!?!

The last thing I expected yesterday at dawn was a automated phone call from Tyler's school announcing a 2 hour delay. The forecast was for RAIN!



Rain, my ass! This video was from 6:30am. It was still snowing. An hour later I took Max outside to play in the snow (his first time), and it was still coming down. All told, I think we got about 7 or 8 inches.

Max in the snow. I don't think he likes it. ;-)



Honestly, I think he was just ready for a nap. We'll try again with the next snow storm. Tyler got to play in the snow when he got home from school yesterday, but this morning the snow is almost gone already. And it's raining. Oh well.

I'm off to a Portal to Hell...er, um...the DMV

Time to renew my drivers license. Time to get a mug shot. Time to look like hell in yet another photo. Joy!

I know I have cosmetics somewhere in this house, darn it! I can't find any at the moment. I find myself debating with myself.

Self? Why put on makeup? You never wear any. You won't look like YOU in that photo, and you know it!

I know, I know. But shouldn't I try to put my best face forward?

Get serious. You've been sick for 2 weeks. The DMV patrons are lucky you even took the time to shower. Just look like you always do. Like a tired Mom of two boys.

Fine. FINE! I'm going.

As soon as I comb my hair. I can do that much at least. Wish me luck.

I'll be back later with videos of the HUGE snowstorm from yesterday.


LATER:

Argin fargin DMV!!! Grrr! Apparently my vast collection of IDs and shite aren't good enough. They want a certified copy of my marriage license from Vital Records. Gah! Website says it will take 4 months. My drivers license expires the end of this month. Do duh math. I is screwed. I think it will be faster to renew my passport.

Off to ask my hubby to take a fugly passport photo...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blog Blahs

I spent some time tinkering with my blog template tonight. Yeah, it's easier to just use the canned template that Blogger provides...but it's so blah. I feel generic. I've been to a number of new Mommy Blogs in the last week or so and I have blog envy. Most of them have cool custom graphics...so I made a small attempt to personalize my header.

I also updated my profile pic. It's a step in the right direction, but I'm still not satisfied. I need to jazz up the header some more. I think I'll go blog jogging again and look for more inspiration. Maybe being sick the last 2 weeks has just sucked all the creative energy right out of my body.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Don't call her Grandma!

I read a funny (well, funny to ME but not to HER) post the other day. It reminded me of the first time no one asked for my ID when I ordered a mixed drink. And the first time some teenage clerk called me "Ma'am". That Ma'am still gets to me a little, but I'm finally starting to get used to it. The post also reminded me of my mother (not that Ladybug Carol is ANYTHING like my Mother Carol, mind you).

Many of you will think she is just a product of her generation (it is impolite to ask a lady for her age), but you didn't live with the woman for 20 years. My mother is OBSESSED with aging. Remember the movie Terms of Endearment where the Shirley MacLaine character won't allow her grandchildren to call her "Grandma" and insists they call her Mrs. Greenway? My mother agreed with that sentiment for many years. She tried to train Tyler to call her "Nanny" instead Grandma. She has mellowed a bit on this point. Probably because *I* have been calling her Grandma for 6 years now.

I've mentioned her multiple plastic surgeries and her weekly trips to the hair salon (heaven forbid any gray should ever appear...she hasn't seen her own natural hair color since 1968.) And yes, my brother and I tease my mother all the time over the fact that she looks half the age of our Dad. I guess he likes having a hot, young looking wife; but where do you draw the line?

Personally, I think plastic surgery is over the line. Hair color is OK. Thousands and thousands of dollars each year on various beauty treatments, creams, lotions, ointments, oils and other devices? That is over the line. Altering your birth certificate/birth year and lying about your age to friends? Over the line. Lying about the ages of your children and where they are at in life (I think I finally got out of college a few years ago. My brother is still there. He is 36.) Over the line. I think you get the idea.

Now for the funny part. About 10 years ago (maybe longer) my mother received a welcome packet from AARP. When you are old enough to join AARP, you can get all kinds of cool discounts and stuff and their magazine is full of great information for retired folks. My mother? She went BALLISTIC! She accused my brother and I of playing a joke on her and signing her up. I do admit, I wish I HAD thought of it. It's a good joke! But it wasn't us. We swore up and down that it wasn't us, but she didn't believe it.

I think it took about a year for my Dad to work up the courage to tell her HE signed her up. He was annoyed that she was well past the age of eligibility and she wasn't taking advantage of all the discounts (my Dad is a chea...er...frugal man). Not to mention the fights they've had at the movie theater because she wouldn't take the senior discount. Restaurants too. My Dad would ask for the senior special for both of them and my mother would shriek that he was fibbing.

She won't act her age even to save a buck. I'm waiting for the day when she starts telling people she is my Dad's oldest daughter (instead of his wife). It's only a matter of time.

I'm thinking I'm going to add my mother's name to a few mailing lists in the coming weeks. Memorial companies and cemeteries, I think. It's about time those two got a couple of plots. It's the grownup thing to do once you reach a certain age, right? Maybe I can time the arrival of the catalog from these fine folks to arrive right around Christmas. I'd love to be there to see her reaction to this mail delivery.

Gosh I'm evil. ;-)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Can you spray Febreze onto skin?

Unintentionally Funny -

"Mommy? My butt itches. Can I take a bath?"

"Uh, sure Tyler. I can't have you running around with an itchy butt."

Intentionally Funny -

"Mommy? Does your butt itch?"

"I don't think so. Why?"

"Because you really need a bath too." [said with saucy grin]


Honestly, I really could use a shower. They forgot to put a chapter in the Mommy Handbook about how we are supposed to squeeze an occasional shower or bath into our crazy daily schedule. Especially with a 13 month old running around with a raging bout of separation anxiety...because it's SO much fun showering while your toddler thrashes on the floor, screaming and crying to near puking levels of drama.

Totally off the topic - I got curious just now. I went to Amazon to see if there was such a thing as "The Mommy Handbook". There isn't, to my amazement. No one swipe my idea. I might just have to write it. There is a "Parents Handbook" but that's not the slant I would want to take. Maybe I'll do a Daddy's Handbook too. This could be fun.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pet Memorials

This morning, I received the sad news that my brother and sister-in-law's beloved dog had passed away. I just cried when I saw the email from my SIL. They love their two dogs like children and it broke my heart knowing how devastated they must be.

This afternoon and well into the evening I combed the internet looking for something to send them to show my sympathy. I already know they plan to have Memphis cremated this week. I thought perhaps an urn or a memorial plaque. I'm not sure if they plan to keep or scatter her ashes somewhere. At any rate, every thing I found just seemed cheezy, too cutsie or just plain weird...until I found these.

The idea of having a small amount of a beloved pet's ashes infused into a beautiful hand-made glass pendant to wear close to the heart (or they have a style with a stand for display)...I just thought it was a really cool idea.

Then I asked my husband's opinion. He thought it was creepy. [insert eye roll] In his defense, he has never had a close bond with any pet. He didn't grow up with animals in his home, the way my brother and I did. We always had a dog or two and various other small animals. I have always formed a very close bond with my pets. It still hurts my heart when I think about my beautiful Sheba being gone. I know my brother (and his wife too) feel the same way.

So what do you think of the pendant idea? Cool or creepy?

Gotta Love YouTube

Well, last night I think I participated in the most unusual use of YouTube I've ever seen. I was IMing with a good friend of mine (hi Kim!) and sharing in the woes of parenting sick children when she shared with me how concerned she was about her son's breathing. I am blessed by the fact that, so far, my kids have never been seriously ill. Kim has not been so lucky. By late last night, she had already administered a couple of nebulizer treatments to her little boy, but it didn't seem to be working very well.

We talked about whether or not a trip to the ER would be necessary. She just wasn't sure. It seemed a simple decision, since she works in a doctors' office and could get her son seen first thing in the morning, but should she wait? His heart rate had finally slowed enough for him to drift off to sleep, yet Kim hovered and watching his breathing with deepening concern.

Finally, she made a video recording of the rapid rise and fall of his chest, uploaded it to YouTube and asked me to watch it to get my opinion. This is not her first time on this carnival ride (how many folks do you know who keep a portable nebulizer at home?) She's made too many trips to the ER in her two kids' short lives. Another hospital bill at this stage of the game would not be a good thing...but that worry falls to the bottom of the list when your child is in distress. One look at that video, even knowing the hardship it would cause, and I didn't hesitate to voice my opinion. Bring him in.

Luckily another friend who is a nurse also logged on about that time, saw the video and agreed with me. A second opinion from a medical professional always helps and she agreed with me. So off to the hospital they went. Sure enough, the baby was admitted. They suspect pneumonia.

I wonder if the developers of YouTube ever thought about this particular use of their service when they designed it. It's nice to be there for a friend, even from 7 states away. Oh, and please keep my friend Kim and her baby in your thoughts. They could use some positive vibes right about now.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Poop and Barf and Snot...oh my!

Once again, everyone in the house is ill. Max is full of the snot and coughing. He's been that way for about 5 days now. I got the snot and coughing about 2 days ago. Tyler appears to have a stomach virus that has stuff shooting out both ends. John has mentioned a generalized feeling of malaise with a touch of nausea. It's a sicky party!

Anyone want the cooties? I am ready for them to leave us alone now.

In the meantime, John was nice enough to run out last night for some of my patented "cold cure". That would be Indian food. Mmmm! Nothing like a shot of chicken curry and veggie biryani to get the snot flowing and free up those nasal passages.

Ahhh! Much better. I just had leftovers for lunch.

Next up, sushi for dinner. Extra wasabi. That works nicely on those pesky nasal passages too.

Friday, November 09, 2007

You Should be Dancin'! Yeah!

I just got a new toy today.

How cool is that?! Naturally I had to take it right out of the box, dock my iPod and tune into my fav soft rock station. It's been sooooo long since I had an easily accessible and working boombox.
So here I am, groov'in and rockin' to some great music, when one of my all time favorite Bee Gees songs comes on...ya know, from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
Naturally I have to jump up and execute my best John Travolta moves.
Tyler: "Mommy? What the heck are you doing?"
Me: "Disco dancing, baby!"
Tyler: "Well... you look like a crazy person."
Me: "Thanks! Dance with me!"
Tyler: Long hesitation as he studies me. "I think you're gonna hurt yourself."
Feh. The kid has no appreciation for the classics. But ow. I think I hurt my hip...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

WeAss #190 - "I'm Bored!"

Weekend Assignment #190: Share some of your favorite boredom-alleviating tactics from when you were a kid.

I wasn't often bored when I was a kid...just a little on very cold snowy days. Not that I was easily entertained, mind you. I just think my mother was an expert at keeping the kids out of her hair. There always seemed to be a ready supply of new coloring books, fresh crayons or new packs of markers, paint-by-numbers, big ready-to-color posters and other assorted craft projects.

I used to love making jewelry (I had a rock polisher and various plastic cord or bead sets). I also made clothes for my Barbie dolls. I could play with my Barbies for hours. My mother didn't sew worth a darn, but she would go through phases where she would try. From that, I had access to a sewing machine and assorted scraps of fabric. There was also the large assortment of old cocktail dresses my mom had given me to play with. Dress up was WAY more fun when you had heels and outfits that could have come from Marilyn Monroe's closet to use.

When I wasn't in the mood to be arty, crafty or God to my Barbie universe...that's when my mother would shove us out the back door and say, "Be home when it starts to get dark." We had a nice swing set in the yard, this merry-go-round thing that seated 4 people and you pumped with your hands and feet to make it spin, a tire swing and woods to explore.

There was a shallow stream not too far back in the forest that was perfect for polliwog and frog hunts. We would also flip rocks looking for salamanders and earth worms. Then there were wild Concord grapes and blueberries for the picking. There were these other berries that we all seemed to instinctively know were poison, but we would improvise a mortar and pestle to crush them and make this vivid purple "ink". We would make primitive drawings on large boulders with a slender twig dipped in our ink. It was amazing how long those drawings would last. It was also amazing how permanent those purple stains were on our clothes.

Those boulders became props in endless games of "Let's Pretend." I always seemed to be the ring leader and would make up the story line. One of the larger boulders also had an adjacent tall tree full of thick vines. We would yank one loose and play Tarzan until the vine snapped from all the swingers. Fun stuff!

Riding our bikes, skateboards or big wheels up and down the street...playing ping pong in a neighbor's basement...helping the lucky kid who's parents encouraged his model rocketry hobby...drawing elaborate hop-scotch boards in chalk on the driveway... I could go on and on. Even just listening to the radio and dancing with my friends. There was hardly ever a dull moment.

Sadly, I haven't been very successful in imparting this "how to make your own fun" mentality to my oldest son. He frequently says he is bored. I guess having access to over 100 video games just isn't enough. I need a stash of projects tucked away somewhere like my mom always had. Unfortunately - where I would happily take an item and run off to do it - my son won't. He has to have someone do it with him. That doesn't help me get the house work done. :-/

It's a different world now-a-days. I can't just kick the boys out the front door and tell them to be home by dark. They don't have many opportunities to meet the neighborhood kids and make friends. Most other parents work full-time and play dates need to be scheduled during their precious free time. TV, video games and computers are a major distraction that is hard to fight (Super Mario Party on the Game Cube or a coloring book. Hmm. Yeah, right!)

*sigh*

I know the boys would be much happier if our yard were fenced with a nice swing set jungle gym thingy out back to play on. Hopefully we can work on that in the spring.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Candy Leftovers

On Halloween last year we ran out of candy by 7:30 PM. Not good! So this year I bought extra. A LOT of extra. Too much extra. So, naturally, John and I have been eating a lot of sweets over the last few days.

Every year I tend to get the same kinds of candy...kinds that *I* like (just in case of leftovers). I always get KitKats, Snickers, Milk Duds, SweetTarts (or Smarties), and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Sometimes I get Almond Joys too (the kids almost never take those). When I let the kids pick their own candy, the SweetTarts and Reese's seem to go the fastest. So it's been a couple years since I had leftovers of those.

Am I crazy, or has the peanut butter cup recipe changed? The chocolate seems softer, paler and the peanut butter center seems...dryer. Not sure how to explain it. In my memory, the chocolate on the cups was a tad thicker on top and more "crisp". There was a snap to it when you bit into the cup. Now they seem soggy. I remember a sheen of oil in the bottom of the paper wrapper if the chocolate on the bottom was a tad thin. I assumed it was peanut oil leaching out. I never see that anymore - like the peanut butter isn't as oily.

Has anyone else noticed a change in peanut butter cups? Sadly, I've come to the conclusion that I don't like them anymore. I guess it's not a bad thing since I don't NEED to eat them. I'm better off if I don't. But it still makes me sad.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Time Warp

I'm in the mood to blog, but I don't really have anything pressing (or even interesting) to talk about. What's a gal to do? I know! I'll dig through my collection of old photographs...


There's me in July, November and December of 1966.
I love looking at old Christmas photos. It's fun to see what I got for Christmas that year. I love the rocking horse with the girly pink saddle. I had that Raggedy Ann doll for many years. I wonder what ever happened to her.
Oh! Here's a thought... November is National Adoption Month. I might as well mention that I am searching for my birth mother. I was born "Baby Girl Dorland" in March of 1966 at Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka Kansas. If anyone out there knows the Dorland family of North Eastern Kansas, pass on my info. I'd love to be in touch with anyone who knew my birth family.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

RRPC: "Other Settings"

This weeks Round Robin Photo Challenge was thought up by yours truly, so of course I have to participate. The challenge is to use one of those funky settings on your camera that you've never tried. You might not even be sure what it does. Time to experiment!

OK. Now I know my camera has a "panoramic" setting on it, but I've never tried it. Since we are going to a local farm to pick pumpkins, I think today will be a good time to try it out.


--Later--


Success! I think. I probably should have read the manual for my camera before we left, but oh well. I had a pretty good idea which little icon on the control dial was the "panoramic" one. Yay! I lined up my shot and took the first frame. The little LCD screen on the camera showed that shot with a funky arrow and a blank frame next to it. OK? Time for frame 2. I used the screen to line up my next shot, trying to marry the edges together and took the shot. Right! Uh oh. The camera was now on frame 3. Frame 3??? I was under the impression that a panoramic was only 2 frames.

Fine. I lined up the shot again and snapped frame 3. The camera asked for frame 4. Oh crap. Now I needed to swivel my body around a bit to rotate and get the next shot in frame. The camera asked for frame 5. I was starting to see a trend. When would it end?

On frame 26, I'd come full circle and was tired of the whole process. Then I noticed the tiny words under the frames..."Set?" Duh. I hit the "Set" button and finally the panoramic started over with frame 1; ready to go again. Whew! OK, I've got it now. I can take as long a panorama as I want to, even a full circle. Cool!

Too bad I'm not too familiar with Quicktime tools - I've seen those rotating panoramas before where you can take a 360 degree look around. That would have been cool. Maybe another time.


I took a few other panoramas and then moved the dial on to the next setting. I think it's a type of action setting. Very fast shutter speed so you can take several photos in a series. I never got the rhythm down, but I did channel my pal Karen and took some interesting shots out the car window on the way home.


First, the panoramas:




This is the first 3 frames of my 26 frame series.







This is a 3 frame one.






This one is 2 frames.







And finally, a 3 framer. I really like this one.


When I first installed the software for this camera, I vaguely recollect a special program with "auto-stitch" that puts the panoramas together. Uh, yuh. No dice. I couldn't find it. So I had to stitch the frames together manually. I've discovered that I make a horrible tripod. I had to do some creative editing to get things to line up. Can you find the seams? [Click the photos to see bigger versions over on my Flickr album.]


Next time I need to remember to bring my Joby.




Now for those "action" shots. Heh.




Cruising through the "German District" of Long Valley. Hmm. That looked clearer on my LCD display.







Interesting. I thought that house was neat.





Getting clearer. But what's with that wonky angle? I could correct that in photochop, but I think it lends interest.



You get the general idea. I need some practice taking photos out of a moving car, I guess. But it was fun to experiment today!

Linking List

Karen - POSTED!
Outpost Mâvarin
http://outmavarin.blogspot.com

Janetfond of photography
http://fondofphotography.blogspot.com

Nancy - POSTED!
Nancy Luvs Pix
http://journals.aol.com/nhd106/Nancyluvspix

Vicki - POSTED!
Maraca
http://mymaracas.blogspot.com/

Suzanne R - POSTED!
New Suzanne R's Life
http://newsuzannerslife.blogspot.com

Steven - POSTED!
(sometimes)photoblog
http://sepintx.blogspot.com/

Carly - POSTED!
Ellipsis
http://ellipsissuddenlycarly.blogspot.com

Friday, November 02, 2007

Annual Halloween Report

Woo hoo! I finally got the video put together! Windows Movie Maker SUCKS! I finally gave up on it and put Pinnacle Movie Studio on this PC. Works much better!

I did a Halloween report last year, and again this year...so I guess it's becoming an annual tradition. It's worth watching, if only for the Max cuteness at the end. ;-)


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Shopping Karma

Every once in a while the universe sends me a message. The latest was, "You are meant to have this rug." How was the message delivered? Oh, it was OBVIOUS! You be the judge...

Frequently my family room carpet will catch my eye and make me cringe. White berber...what the hell was I thinking?! So yeah, it looks pretty bad. Every time I "see" the carpet (when I'm not too busy ignoring it), I get the urge to shop for a nice rug to cover it up. [It would be a major pain to replace the carpeting in here, so camouflage is the only option.]

So I window shop. I've been looking for just the right size, pattern, colors, etc. for over a year now. A couple months ago I found THE rug. It was GORGEOUS! Turkish... wool... expensive... totally unaffordable. Then it went on sale. Even at $800, it was out of our reach.

Oh how I wanted this rug. Do any of you know how hard it is to match a plaid sofa???

Then a couple weeks ago I got an email from one of my favorite internet bulk bargain websites. They had just acquired close-out stock from a major carpet retailer and it was all on sale. Right. Like I was going to find a rug for this room in some internet bulk bin...but I went to look.

There it was! THE rug. Turkish... wool... gorgeous... and under $200!! Holy crap! I put it in my shopping cart on the website. I agonized over it for a few hours. I watched the ticker on the site steadly go down. "35 left in stock." "23 left in stock." "16 left in stock." "Hurry, only 7 left in stock." Eeeeeeeeee! Then my husband walked in with good news. Something about sales numbers and commissions and blah blah blah he'd be getting a good pay check this month. What, what, what??!

I hit CHECKOUT and bought the rug...with only 1 left in stock. MINE!!!

New Rug
I unveiled it today. ~Squeeeeeeee!~ It's perfect! Max loves it too. He's spent ages today just running, spinning, and rolling on it. Hee hee! See? The universe really likes me.

Halloween

Photos from Halloween are here (that should go right to a slide show, with any luck). It was hectic, but fun! I took video clips through out the day, but Windows Movie Maker is giving me FITS right now. It keeps crashing and messing with my creative flow in a major way. Grrr!

*sigh*

I'm going to keep trying to make WMM do what I want. With any luck, I'll post my video blog here later.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pumpkin Dress-up

While Max took his afternoon nap today, Tyler and I had some fun with the pumpkins we picked on Sunday. Check out Ty's handiwork here. Dressing up a pumpkin is way easier than carving one, I must say. :-)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bumbo Recall

Since I have several friends who use this seat, I thought I would give you all a heads up about the recall.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Time for Pumpkin Picking!

We took our annual pumpkin picking trip today. The weather was great, in my opinion...53 degrees, sunny with a nice stiff breeze. Perfect! There is finally a fall snap in the air. View the slide show on my shutterfly album, if you'd like. Loads of fall color. Gotta love it!

Friday, October 26, 2007

WeAss #189: Amuse Him...

John Scalzi says, "Amuse me!"

Um. Yeah. OK! So I've been sitting here for a while now, wracking my brain, trying to think of something that Mr. Scalzi would find amusing. Lately he seems greatly amused by clever photoshoppery that relates to his life or writing. My pal Karen (aka Mavarin) has that pretty well covered. So I started thinking about what she did. I tried to picture who would star in the epic motion picture event that Old Man's War would surely be when it comes to a silver screen near you.

The book has great characters, some kick-ass action and humor too (but it's not a Will Smith vehicle, no no.) Arnold Schwarzenegger? He's an old man. He knows his way around heavy weaponry. But that accent... He just doesn't fit that old dude from Ohio vibe that John has in the book. Jack Nicholson! He'd be great as the "old" version of John Perry...but really, that would be more like a cameo at the beginning of the film. How about the new green super soldier version? Um. Christian Slater does a killer impression of a younger Jack; but damn, he's MY age now. Too old. I'm getting too out of touch with all the young whipper-snappers out there in Hollywood.

OK, so bag the casting of OMW for now. What if it wasn't a live action film at all? What if the Japanese are the first to jump on the bandwagon and they make an Anime version of the book?! Genius! So what would that look like...

I started flipping through my vast collection of anime titles, focusing on the ones that have to do with armies and war. Narrow that down to MODERN or SPACE warfare. OK. Now we are getting warmer. Narrow it further to a space armada...with strong Naval overtones...OMG! It hit me. I think I've found a heretofore unmentioned influence in Scalzi's writing.

So tell me John, did you watch many cartoons as a kid? OMW is TOTALLY Starblazers. No doubt.

*VBG*

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Halloween is nearly here...

Everyone dance!



I've been trying for weeks to catch Max dancing. I finally got his "spin" move. He also has this knee bounce, arm flap, and clap move that is totally adorable. I hope to catch that too. Just ignore the cheerios all over the floor. I find those darn things in the strangest places (like inside my shoes).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hello Kitty!

Just for Chris...

I love Hello Kitty stuff...

My Hello Kitty jewelry box (with nifty removable bracelets you can wear) and my Hello Kitty toaster style note paper dispenser with toast shaped paper. I also have a Hello Kitty watch and a bunch of other stuff, but I didn't feel like combing the house for those. These were handily right on my desk.

I'd love a Hello Kitty backpack. But they don't make one with the straps long enough. They are designed for tiny little child bodies. LOL!

Book Fair Booty

I know a couple of you are curious about what I got at the school book fair...

Cell Phone Gems, Funky Pen, Clip-on Calc

There is my new clip-on calculator (purple to match my new purse), my cool pen with the feathery fiber-optic dealy-boppers (the cat goes WILD every time I use it) and my cell phone gems. I can't wait to bling up my cell with those!

See? I am sooooo a 6th grader. But Andrea, you are also right. There is the GROAN factor every time I go to stand up. *sigh* Adorable grade school girl trapped inside this aging hulk of a body. It ain't fair, I tells ya!

Thought of the Day...

I've always considered myself an optimist with pessimistic leanings. Most days the glass is half-full, but there are those times when I see half-empty instead - not to mention the times when some schmuck stole my soda or perhaps laced it with strychnine. (What? You aren't paranoid if people really ARE out to get you.)

Today it occurred to me that I really am a full blooded optimist. How do I know for sure? Easy. I am still playing the lottery AND I still think I have a shot at one of those jackpots on Pogo.com.

See? Eternal optimist.

And so concludes my thought of the day. Now for my product review of the day.

Eat these: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Seriously. They are like frozen crack. Only 70 calories too. I've been eating one or two, every day, for a couple months now. I can't stop.

Friday, October 19, 2007

On Aging Gracefully...

Aging gracefully - I've heard that phrase frequently during my lifetime. It lead me to believe that aging is a process that occurs gradually over time. You know what? That's a crock of bull. When I turned 40, some switch in my body got flipped from the "young" setting to "old". Just like that.

1. Now when I sneeze, cough or laugh really hard; a tiny amount of pee comes out. What the hell is that?? My husband sees the look of alarm on my face when this happens and I rush out of the room. I know what he's thinking. "How many years have I got before she's wearing those sexy adult diapers..."

2. My hips and finger joints hurt. Add in my bad knees, my swollen feet, my bad back and the weird crick I keep getting in my neck and suddenly I am paying attention to those Alieve commercials with the arthritic 60-somethings...and those ads for the "Hover-round" and other personal mobility vehicles.

3. The cool little wings of gray hair that have framed my face for the last 15 years have spread, virtually overnight. As I ran to the store for hair color so I wouldn't be mistaken for Grandma at my son's first birthday party, I found myself reading the box and wondering if "more that 50%" of my hair was gray, which meant I would need permanent color instead of my usual semi-permanent. Maybe it's time for a violet rinse like my great aunt used to get. Am I ready to join the blue hair set?

4. I used to tune out those commercials for Colonial Penn and AARP supplemental life insurance. Now? I wonder if we DO have enough money for our family to pay those final expenses... Did you know the average cost of a funeral these days is $6,000???

5. I have a problem with anemia, so the husband volunteered to pick me up some new multi-vitamins at the local CVS. He called me from the store. Apparently the selection of vitamins geared toward women is massive and overwhelming. He asked, "Do you want the Geritol ones? They have extra iron..." I almost said YES.

On a brighter note... for a number of years I have been a once a day pooper, if that (joyful years I must say, after suffering from IBS). Like clockwork. Then I turned 40 and it's like my body shifted into a different gear. Now it's like 2, 3, 4, 5 times a day. Where the hell is it all coming from? My eating habits haven't really changed. Was all this just sitting up in my colon somewhere? All those years of stored red meat just waiting to come out? Oh wait. Maybe it's been that craving for Raisin Bran.

If I start drinking prune juice, I need someone to just shoot me. My granny was addicted to the stuff. She even poured it on her All Bran (or "Colon Blow" as my brother and I used to refer to it.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"I want one!"

As if I needed further evidence that I've never fully grown up... I volunteered at Tyler's new school on Monday. A small group of us did set-up for the annual book fair. It was pretty overwhelming to see all those boxes full of books and other stuff. It's amazing what we did with a few folding tables, some plastic sheeting and the empty boxes.

After we got everything organized, I spent a few minutes really looking around the room at all the stuff for sale. OMG! I was drooling over all the neat pens and pencils, the little lunch box shaped pencil sharpener with the food themed erasers and stuff inside, the cool purple clip on calculator that would go so well with my new purse, the various arts & crafts kits...I can go on and on. All that stuff is designed with your typical elementary school girl in mind. And I want one of everything!

*sigh*

Good thing I am a grown up with access to a credit card. Yep. Gonna come home today with one of those pens with the puffy ball googly fiber optic doo-dads on top. And that calculator. And maybe one of those glitter erasers. And that cool looking...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Monday Photo Shoot: Lounging

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Picture someone or something in the act of lounging about or slacking off. Naps, loitering, general loafing -- it all works. Show yourself, show friends, show pets. All this shoot needs is to have them not doing much at all.

Not sure where Scalzi's entry has gone. I have it in my bloglines cache, but it seems to have vanished off his AOL Journal. Ah well. I like the theme, so I am running with it.

Here we have my boys napping together. Can I hear an "awwww"?

They are so cute...when they're sleeping.

Update: Apparently AOL had a glich (so what else is new?). So I was able to come back and add a link to the original assignment.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

WeAss #187

Weekend Assignment #187: Share a story about when you were once memorably late to something. Late to a big event? To a date? To a wedding? Your wedding? If you were late, and it made for a good story, that's what we want to hear.

Extra Credit: How many times do you have to hit the alarm clock before you get up in the morning?


I haven't done one of these in quite a while, but this one struck a chord. I am one of those folks who sets an alarm with the best of intentions but always manages to be late to everything. Doesn't seem to matter how much time I leave myself to get ready. I am late.

The one incident that comes instantly to mind is the time we went all the way to Hawaii for John's cousin's wedding. This was early in our relationship and I wanted to make a good impression on his extended family. I thought we'd left plenty of time to get to the church, but we forgot how crazy traffic can be in downtown Honolulu.

Then there was the fact that our rental car was over heating and stalling every 1/4 mile or so. We finally had to run the heat full blast so the car could make it to the church. We snuck into the back of the church, all drippy with sweat, just in time to watch the bride and groom come down the isle at the END of the ceremony. Ouch.

At least we made it to the reception on time, but ohhhh were we ever the topic of mumblings and buzz. I overheard one conversation where a gaggle of gossip queens hissed about how "s.e.x." must have been more important than being on time. What in the world?? Did we give the impression that we were on some sexcapade type vacation?

As for my alarm clock... when I was working, that snooze button got one hell of a workout. I almost never got up when that clock alarm first went off. I'd hit snooze 2, 3, 4, 5 times or more. John called me a "dirty stay-up" because of my propensity to ignore a proper bed time and stay up into the wee hours.

Now? I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've even set the alarm in the last 6 years. My kids wake me up. And they don't have snooze buttons, unfortunately. I wish they did.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

School Photos

We've had pretty bad luck with "professional" photos and Tyler over the years. His first pre-school photo he had ketchup all over his face. Good thing I'm handy with PhotoShop. His baseball photo, he had a huge scratch on his nose. Hooray for PhotoShop again. I couldn't do much about the times he had the frozen CHEESE face.

Today Tyler brought home his Kindergarten class photos. And what do you know! It's actually pretty good!

Tyler's School Photo 2007

Gosh, he's getting so mature looking. *sigh*

Maximum Poundage

I sorta left my loyal reader hanging with my last post, didn't I. Sorry about that. During the first year, babies see their doctor a lot more frequently. Several months ago a red flag went up at one of Max's checkups. The doctor remarked that he was below the curve on his weight and if he didn't show significant improvement, she was going to have to do some uncomfortable metabolic tests and whatnot. She also told us to hold off on the introduction of solid foods (formula has more calories).

We were left scratching our heads on that one. Max has had a pretty great first year. He held up his own head only days after coming home from the hospital. He rolled over early. He crawled early. He stood and then took steps early. He's had 2 head colds and one minor ear infection. He eats well and often. He looks fine...in proportion, not too small or anything. No one has ever commented that he looked too skinny. What the heck?

So we started feeding him more. More bottles, at first. Then we just couldn't hold off on solids any longer. He was constantly reaching for what ever we were eating. He ate his way through stage 1, 2 and 3 baby foods in no time flat. Before I could even use up all the jars of food, he flat out refused to eat them and only wanted what I was cooking. So we gave it to him. I was amazed at what this kid could eat with only 2 teeth. I would leave snacks within his reach so he could help himself, too. He was pretty much eating all day long. He just had to gain weight, right?

At his next checkup, he'd gained a pound. It was enough to put him in the 1st percentile. Just barely on the curve. What the heck??? His doctor once again told us to focus on bottles, because that's where the calories are. But she had no idea what he'd been eating. We were not skimping on the calories.

Then we went on vacation to a resort that had a buffet restaurant on the premises. Max was in heaven! Steak tips in gravy, french fries and burgers, baby back ribs and chicken smothered in jack cheese and bacon, sausage and egg sandwiches for breakfast with home fries, french toast, roast beef, cheese and fruit platters, ice cream...

We continued to feed him anything he wanted at home. I figured his first birthday checkup would finally be the turning point. He HAD to weigh more now. There is no way he was still at the bottom of the curve.

And, thankfully, he is now in the 10th percentile. Still low, in the doctor's opinion, but a big improvement.

You know what I think? I think he just needed time to catch up. He was only 5 lbs at birth, for cryin' out loud. I just hope this healthy appetite continues. I can't tell you how nice it is to cook a meal and have one of your children stuff it in his face while making mmm mmm yummy noises. Tyler is so blasted picky! It drives us crazy!

So far, Max seems to be following in my footsteps. He loves all the same foods I do. Creamy soups, rich sauces and gravy...red meat and cheese...ice cream and cake... I just hope his good metabolism continues. I don't want his love of yummy rich foods to catch up with him later in life. One person in this family with a weight problem is enough!

Oh! And birthday party photos are in my Shutterfly album, if you're curious. Link over there to the right. :-)