Saturday, December 25, 2010

Silent Night

Wonderful Christmas.

For our book group this month we read Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, and it put me in a completely foul unChristmaslike mood which lasted until about 7:30 this morning.
We went to some dear friends house last night for Christmas Eve, and they were lovely, she looked like June Cleaver in her cute dress and pumps, he was warm and entertaining, their kids are sweet and fun, the food was marvelous, and I was complaining and tired and whining and watching myself be complaining and whining and hating it... we got back late and with all the final preparations for today didn't get to bed until 3:00 am.

But the kids let us sleep until 7:30 (bless their hearts!) and we had a lovely wonderful magical Christmas.  Once the gifts were open and things were settling down the girls helped clean up the living room and we got everything set up for our dinner guests at 6:00 pm, and Hubby's roast was exquisite and the potatoes which he suffered over were divine, everything was just lovely.  As we were trying to shove the wrapping paper and boxes out of the way, I was rather stunned by how lucky we are, what exceptional kids I have, what an over-the-top amazing guy I married...

Tomorrow I have a church obligation, otherwise we'd just hop in the car and head to my folk's house right after breakfast.  But we're going to bug out of the church block early, as soon as primary sharing time is over, and head up for Christmas part deux at Grandma's.  Two years ago there was a mix-up with one of Thing 2's gifts, and she was shorted.  I have an image burned into my memory of her bright excited 5 year old self perched at the edge of the couch with her too short legs sticking straight out, her face beaming, her brand new doll on her lap, raising her hand when I asked who was ready for a present.  She was absolutely crushed when I told her as gently as I could that her presents had all been unwrapped.  It's a long story...  but in an effort to bring some sanity to the whole affair and to even things out my mother assures me she's cut way back this year... I think the truth is she's just got bigger boxes and is putting more than one thing in them.

Either way it's shaping up to be a lovely holiday.

If I can just get some sleep it will be perfect.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Me Being Crafty

I am not accomplishing nearly what I had hoped in this little ramp-up to Christmas.  So, to offset that, I am taking a little of my precious double-and-triple booked time to post some past accomplishments.

I finally finished a couple of quilting projects for Christmas.
This one I started over two years ago:

Go ahead!  Click on it and zoom in!  It shows up much better.  I need to work on my photography skills.
I did these in a church quilting group with a half a dozen or so other women. Some of the fabrics we swapped, and some we didn't. On mine, I swapped some of the creams to get more variety, but I didn't swap many of the greens. The other women had a lot more going on in their greens, they were pretty busy, and I didn't like some of those busy fabrics. The problem was when the others were done and mine was next to them, theirs looked like decorated busy Christmas trees, and mine looked kind of plain. So, in a brilliant plan to make my life much more difficult, I decided I'd attach little magnets on mine, on the wrong side of the fabric, so we could use little metal things to decorate the tree. This slowed me down considerably, but I finally found something that would work, and found some sparkly things to use as decorations.  I just finished it up a couple months ago, that's the kind of schedule I'm running on. I'm pretty pleased with the result, though every now and again someone walks by and brushes it and all the little metal decorations skitter across the floor.
Here's some detail:

The next one was the project from a year ago. I noticed that it is the same size as the opening on my front door, so I hung mine there. Normally it is hung the other way, facing out and the sun isn't shining through it.  I should have taken the picture from the other side, but it's could out there!!!  I have some buttons to sew down his front, but that's farther down my to do list.

Okay.  Now I should get back to work.

I got my Christmas cards off, finally, but there is so much other stuff to do.  And I haven't even figured out what to do for the neighbor gifts!  I'm doomed to be up until 2:00 am every night between now and Christmas!!!  And we were going to cut back this year!  Ha ha ha!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cough, Sniff, Cough

I hate it when people send their sick kids to school, so when I reread my previous post I thought I better clarify about my brag of sending a coughing germ-infested Thing 1 to school.  She did feel a little better on Wednesday but claimed to be coughing more.  By Thursday she had rallied and was doing much better, and by Friday just had a mild cough.  By Saturday she was pretty much done, but Thing 2 threw up.  If it's not one thing, it's another.  I think Thing 2 had a 24 hour flu thing, she was pretty much recovered with that on Sunday, but then her throat started to hurt, so now we've got to get her (and me) over our head colds by Christmas.  wah!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Putting one over on the guy in the red suit

Santa is a sap.  He will have those elves of his make ANYTHING.

Not me.  I will NOT buy those horrible battery operated talking robot pet toys, but Santa, he is a complete push-over.  My girls know that anything you REALLY want, you ask Santa for, and that chubby old partially deaf guy with the thick white beard and REALLY DEEP POCKETS will find it for you.  The old guy hasn't let them down yet.

Yesterday Thing 1 asked me how many times we'll be seeing Santa this year.  Well, there's one this weekend at the church party, and we might see another one at the mall, why do you ask?

Because the tradition seems to be you can only ask Santa for one thing, and she has two items at the top of her list = two Santas.
Oh, clever girl!

Thing 1's cough has gotten worse but I've been sending her to school to cough and spread germs to all her class mates.  Because they only have two more days of school before the break, even if they're both half days, (?!? Why is the Thursday before Christmas break a half day?!?) and then after that I've got to ditch the kids to accomplish anything.

As I tucked Thing 2 in last night she decided she can't sleep with the vaporizer running in their room.  She decided that she needed something, preferably earmuffs, to muffle the sound.  I didn't find any earmuffs in my quick search of the available winter clothing but I did find a fleece scarf, which she agreed to let me tie around her head.  I forgot to mention that a month or two ago Thing 2 took to wearing sleeping masks.  She saw one at Old Navy and fell in love. I thought sleeping masks were something women only wore in movies and sitcoms, never in real life.  It seems kind of dramatic to me, but whatever.  It seems to work, she no longer calls me in the middle of the night complaining about nightmares, now she just calls me complaining she can't find her sleeping mask.  It's usually around her neck or forehead, but still it's less frequent or alarmed as the nightmare calls, so I'm cool with it.  She now has three, in case one gets lost.  Her favorite has huge exaggerated eyelashes painted on it.   So back to the scarf.  Last night she just had me tie the scarf around her eyes and ears and left off the sleeping mask.  I tied it in back so the knot would be out of the way because she sleeps on her side, and she looked like the sleeping bandit or someone who got just got really tired of swinging at the pinata.  Tonight she wanted the knot in front, and when I tied it over her eyes she pushed the knot up on her forehead so she could still wear the sleeping mask.  So she is wearing the fleece scarf tied in front on her forehead, and the sleeping mask underneath.  Rather than embarrass her by taking a picture of how she looked, I have taken it upon myself to make a digital recreation.
Except Thing 2 doesn't have the exceptionally pleased smile, of course.  She is quite serious.  But I couldn't find any towel wrap pictures looking serious, probably because no one can hold a straight face if someone points a camera at them when they're wearing one.
In any event, she looked awfully darn cute.  And almost regal.  Like she was wearing a towel crown.  It was sweet.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

There are no merry gentlemen or women RESTING around my house

I have a new addendum to Murphy's law.

For all effort exerted to achieve a particular objective, an equal or greater negative force will arise to thwart that objective.

In my case the objective is getting to bed on time.  I stopped doing several things I wanted to do last night, pushed my Christmas list back on the burner, and got to bed close to midnight - earlier than usual for me.
Then the negative force arose at 1:30 a.m. in the form of Thing 1's cold escalating suddenly into an inability to easily breathe.

I find breathing rather necessary, and require it unequivocally from my children.  It's hard to argue with the "I can't breathe" problem, even at 1:30 in the morning when I had tried so hard to get to bed.

So I let Thing 1 stay home from school today.  I didn't get some of my errands run because I hate to leave her home alone any longer than absolutely necessary.  Unfortunately all my nagging didn't produce one nap from her, and left me even more exhausted than before.  Why is that?  Unless she can spontaneously eject a lung or a limb, she's going to school tomorrow.

I have sent out most of Hubby's corporate Christmas gifts today.  He wanted to send something cheesy (in a good way, as in dairy cheese) and summer sausagey this year.  I voted for the chocolate, like usual.  Sausage and cheese requires more planning and organization, and possibly even refrigeration.  The candy is an easy phone call away.  Already boxed and packed for shipment.  We went with the candy same as the past two years. We ordered 20 boxes.  I penned the hand written sentiment from Hubby (in my weird girlish scrawl, but that will have to do since he won't be back in the country until Saturday which is well past the required shipping date), then inserted the cards, addressed, sealed, and sent 15 boxes today and am waiting for addresses for 2 more.  I think 2 others have local destinations not requiring a trip to the post office.  That leaves one for me, as his secretary/bookkeeper/personal assistant I believe I deserve one.  I'll even write my own Christmas card.   
Sincere thanks for a job well done.  You're irreplaceable, you truly are.  And in lieu of a huge raise, WHAT?  You're not getting paid?  Hmmm... well then in addition to a 100%... no, a 400% raise, I'm giving you this lovely box of caramels, English toffee, fudge, and mint cookie malt balls.  Enjoy!!!

Guess who chose all their favorite things from the candy store to go into the boxes?!  That's right!  Which is why it is taking a profound act of will to keep me from running in and raiding what I have already determined to be my box.  But there is Hawaii, and swimsuits on the beach to think about, grumble grumble grumble.

There is so much left to be done before December 25th, and a little more than a week left to do it. The race to the Christmas finish line continues.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Let the Holidays Begin!

I haven't written anything for a month!
Actually I've written several but they all end up whiney and then the whiney mood passes.

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving.  Ours is a multi day event, starting with dinner on Wednesday night and continuing until Saturday evening with a glorious revolving extravaganza of yummy food and playing games and a little shopping thrown in.  The only dark spot was a dominance problem with the dogs, who usually all stay with my sister, since dogs are persona non grata at my folks.  Her stepson's puppy was annoying all the other dogs so much her older, dominant dog seemed to feel the need to lash out at something, and it was Kelso, since he's the biggest of the little dog pack.  So we had to bring him over to my parents, where out of necessity he was tolerated.  Of course he did just fine, aside from a little shedding which my father politely didn't mention until asked later.  The shedding is not too surprising.
Oh, I took another one that shows even MORE hair.

I just HAVE to mention that when I took him for his Rabies booster shot he had hit a whopping 83 pounds.  He's 16 months old now and so has probably stopped growing.  Finally.

Since then it's been life back to normal.

Thing 2 has been having some friend issues.  Just when I think she's found a new one and we can relax about the whole thing, they have a falling out and she's unhappy again.  This time she tells me she asked the little girl what the problem was and was told, "you have too many other friends and I'm jealous."  We have tried to teach her to play with everyone, and apparently she's learned her lesson well enough to annoy other the other kids.

The countdown to Christmas has the girls very excited.  Thing 1 made a list which started out as a single page but then later gained a 2nd page and eventually a fully illustrated cover.

I didn't get out all the Christmas decorations this year, it just seemed like so much work.  The tree has quite a bit less of the usual flotsam and jetsam, I didn't set out any of the many nativities.  When I went to put up the outside lights, I found many of them had burned fuses and bulbs.  I put up what lights I could get to work, didn't want to deal with anything more than replacing a few bulbs, and called it good.  So far no one has complained about the relative decrease in festive clutter.  I think I'm the only one who noticed.

Hubby leaves tomorrow for a week in Paris, same as last year about this time.  He'll be back next Saturday and will be home for three weeks after, during the end of which is our week in Hawaii.

That's all, nothing big or exciting.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Care for a game of.....?

My girls are 23 months apart in age.  I don't know if it's their nearness in age, but they usually get along swimmingly and are usually very happy playing with each other.  I've seen some rather interesting activities come about as part of their play, a couple of them have reoccurred lately and I wanted to write them down.

There is one where one girl grabs the dog's pull rope, then waggles it in the air until the dog grabs it.  Then the other daughter grabs the dog's tail, and they trot off to make laps around the house with one daughter pulling the dog, the other being pulled by the dog.  They sing a weird little chant that sounds kind of like a limbo chant, they say "Congo, congo, Puuh-PEE! Congo, congo Puuh-PEE!"  The dog loves this, by the way.  They can do this until they're both panting. They call it, naturally, "Congo Puppy."

My girls have a problem in that though they usually play extremely well together, their likes are different enough that sometimes it's hard for them to figure out WHAT to play.  For example, one wants to play pokemon, the other wants to play Littlest Petshops.  They've found a work around activity that sometimes works, where they each play their own thing, but the two communities (for example, pet shops and pokemon) discover each other and have to learn to get along.  This is called "Meetings."

Another one which usually happens when they're getting dressed in the morning; they'll pull their arms into the torso of their shirts or pajama tops, letting the sleeves dangle empty.  Then they begin wildly thrashing their upper bodies back and forth like washing machine agitators on acid.  Their flailing causes the empty sleeves to whip around a little, and if you can hit someone with your sleeve you have scored.  I don't think this is that unusual, I seem to remember doing it as a kid. What I like about their version is what the girls call it:  "Sleeve Ninjas." 

I was going to be landing in Germany today,  had our plans not changed.  Hubby skyped and said he's tired of being on the road and feeling overwhelmed and wants to come home a day early, not even staying to do a day of sightseeing.  If he can get a flight, he will.  My initial reaction wasn't the normal "Oh honey, that would be great!  We'll be so happy to see you!"  Instead I guess I looked at him a little stunned...  I just couldn't imagine going to the effort and expense to come home early, avoiding the fun of looking around Nuremberg for a day.  He said "Don't you want me to come home?"  Well, of course, but don't you want to stay?   No.

We're taking the kids to Hawaii after Christmas in exchange for the Germany trip.  Maui, actually.  I've never been to Hawaii and am kind of excited.  We haven't had a vacation that DIDN'T involve a conference or my extended family in a long time.   And all in all I think at the age my children are they'll enjoy the beaches and fun of Hawaii more than the cultural interest of Germany...
But I definitely would have stayed in Germany for an extra day.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Oink Piggy Oink

Thing 2 has a tendency toward drama.  If she's going to be upset about something, she can be VERY upset about it.  Thing 1 tends to internalize a lot of things, but Thing 2 projects her emotions.

There was a particular time when Thing 2 was in preschool. One day when I came to pick her up, there was some drama at the door from another kid.  For a birthday favor, one of the kids had passed out some rather cute foamy masks of different farm animals.  They looked something like, but not exactly like, this:

I seem to remember a chicken and a cow, I know it was a set of farm animals.  There must have been three or four of each animal.  The problem was that one little girl was offended that she'd gotten a pig mask.  She didn't want to be a pig, pigs are dirty and fat and stinky.  She wanted to be a kitty or a puppy.  That was the only thing she'd be happy with.  She was crying and carrying on, and I was very proud when the teacher didn't just give in and trade out the little whiner's pig for someone else's kitty.  So the girl's parent carried her off screaming and crying about her pig mask.  
I entered the room not quite knowing if I was going to have to carry out my own child in a melt down.
I found Thing 2 by her coat cubbie.  With a huge smile on her face, she told me she had a mask.  She put it on, it was a pig.  She started to snort and grunt.  Her snorting made her laugh.  She laughed so hard she could hardly walk.  She laughed and laughed and snorted and snorted, and would catch a look at herself in a window and then laugh some more.  Of course I was laughing at her too...  All the way to the car she was snorting and laughing, and stopping to snort and laugh some more.

If she's upset about something, no on cries harder.  At a playdate recently the mother hosting told me she thought a trip to the hospital was in order based on Thing 2's cries, but it turned out there wasn't actually an injury, the tears stopped and everything was fine.

But if she's happy...  She finds humor all around her.  She watches her environment, sort of scouting for something funny to happen, and will point it out and giggle about it with you.  She is the one who mis-hears things, in a completely ridiculous way, and then giggles about it. Stuff like that is really common.

I just can't get that scene out of my head... Thing 2 in her pig mask, snorting and laughing so hard she snorted, then laughing and snorting some more.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Scheduling is hell

Scheduling anything with Hubby is usually fraught with danger.  The danger of cancellation or of having to call everyone else involved to change the date.  Birthday parties, group photos, get togethers...  nearly anything involving anyone beyond me, Hubby, and the girls gives me a headache and requires multiple phone calls and emails.  If it's just the four of us our options are always open anyway and I know things will change dramatically at any moment.  We just don't plan much of anything and as much as possible we're a seat-of-the-pants kind of bunch. That's fine.  Sometimes annoying, but fine.  It's when other factors, like extended family, or Delta, become involved, that I go crazy.

A couple months back Hubby got a four day contract in Nuremberg.  Then there was a two day class for him to teach in Hamburg the next week. If we wanted, we could schedule them as far apart as possible, and the girls and I  could  come to Germany and play with him in between.  If I had my top choices of where it would be cool to take the family, Bavaria would be right up there.  I've been there twice, I know some fun things to do there, it's a beautiful area.  Hubby's never been to Germany, I could show him around a little too.  We weighed all the options.  Briefly.  For a couple of days.  Seriously enough for me to see that if we DID decide to go, we had to renew the girls' passports. Yeah, how freaky is that?  I got my first passport at 18 or something.  My girls are 7 and 9 and they need theirs RENEWED, and they've actually needed them TWICE.  The times they are a changin'.  I digress.
We decided to go to Germany.
Then we talked about it some more for another couple weeks or so. Of course when I say "talk" I really mean "brought it up while squeezing everything of relevance into a late night phone call, or an intercontinental skype session in which one of us was trying to have dinner while the other was trying to have breakfast."  That's what I meant.
After briefly discussing it a couple times, for many reasons we decided not to go.
Then Hubby talked to his contacts in Hamburg to see if he could schedule his thing there the 2nd week at the beginning of the week instead of the end, and only be gone for 7 or 8 days or so all together, instead of the full 2 weeks.  They said it's too late to move the dates, so he'll be stuck alone in Germany for the full two weeks, just working at the beginning and the end.
So we decided the girls and I should go meet him.  We're going.  We're taking the girls to Germany! 
We looked into airfare. It seemed relatively inexpensive, and we got these sweet direct to Paris flights...  so we bought tickets.  That's always a scary moment... the "YES DANGIT GO AHEAD AND DO IT!!!  LET'S GO TO GERMANY!!!" moment.  Everything is rolling toward going.
I told the girls' teachers at parent teacher conferences that we'd be leaving on November 10th after school, coming back the weekend of the 20th.  We'll come get any homework assignments for them to take with us and do on the plane. It's getting closer and closer!
Then on Saturday Oct 30th I get an email from Hubby telling me his thing in Hamburg at the end of the 2nd week in Germany was canceled.  Suddenly we have no real reason to have a big family vacation, with the girls missing 7 days of school, in the middle of November, right before the Thanksgiving break.  
We talk.  We decide to cancel, eat the change fees on the tickets and use the remaining credit to go somewhere else another time.

Hubby calls the airline to make sure it really is a $250 fee per ticket to cancel an international ticket.  Yes, it is. He is shocked that it really will cost us $1000 to NOT go, in changing his ticket and cashing the girls and my tickets in for credit.  He gets off the phone and doesn't cancel.  We start talking about what we'd do in Germany.  I start getting excited, and telling him all about Bavaria and the castles and the nutcrackers and the shopping and on and on...
We decide maybe we should go.  By now it's Sunday evening.
We talk some more.  We weigh our options.
By Monday we'd changed our minds again.  This one is looking final.  The reasons to go?  The experience, the cancellation fees on the tickets.  The reasons NOT to go?  For me, the thousands of dollars of the expenses of this trip (in addition to the price of the tickets we have sitting on this cycle of the credit card) and the fact we'd be pulling the girls out of 7 days of school.  There are quite a number of other, lesser reasons.

So we're not going.  Hubby leaves Saturday for Nuremberg, and will have to change his ticket anyway to come back the following Saturday.  And will enjoy having a week at home, for a change.  We've told the girls to tell their teachers we will be here after all.

There.  The decision is made.  Final.

This is not the first time a European trip was cancelled for me... the last time I found out TWO DAYS before we were leaving that our trip to Sheffield England was off.  But knowing in the back of my mind it always could fall through isn't much comfort.  I'm still sort of sad... I did really want to go.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Where I live we're Trick-or-Treating tonight, on Saturday.  

We carved SEVEN pumpkins.  The girls each had three, and Hubby had his usual big pumpkin chewing on the little pumpkin.  I like the roasted seeds, my recipe calls for two cups. This year I had to 5x the recipe for all of our seeds.  Thing 1 helped me pull them out and she did a very good job.  There are only six of the seven carved pumpkins in the photo, one is on the other side of the porch.

It's raining like crazy.  I expect to have tons of candy left over.
I hope some more kids come tomorrow night.  I'll be ready for them.

I am manning the door, Hubby bought a costume this afternoon to go around with the kids.  This is just fine except he bought a blow-up bronc rider, and the chest of the bull is around his knees.  So he's forced into a mincing little geisha walk.  He's holding an umbrella for himself, and Thing 1's umbrella and candy basket, as she refuses to hold it herself and is carrying her handful of candy from the door to her basket each time.  

Thing 2's costume we bought online, but enhanced it. She has a patch but refuses to wear it. The parrot came from Hubby's recent trip to Sri Lanka. He bought each of the girls one, without knowing she'd decided to be a pirate.  These pictures were taken last night before the school carnival.

Thing 1's costume we made. She wanted to be a werewolf but I couldn't figure out how to do that without using a mask, or at least some fake fur glued to her face, neither of which would she tolerate. We were at the fabric store for something else and she saw the pattern for the wizard, and decided that would be okay.  Whew!  A wizard I can do.  The dragon on her shoulder is a puppet she got for Christmas a couple of years ago.  There is a slit in the shoulder of her cape where his controller goes down her back.  The strings to make him talk are broken, but she can make his head move and his tail hanging down her back can twitch a little.

We had decided that I'd keep the dog here as he sniffs at everyone he passes... but he is in AGONY.  His little people have left, and he knew SOMETHING was up... he's been pacing and barking incessantly since they left.   My family went up our street and when they were coming back down the other side I went out with the dog, to hand him off to my husband.  But Hubby's hands are already full.  So Barking Boy gets to come back with me.

I am manning the door.  I have five bags of candy.  Four were on purpose, one was an accident that I was going to donate to the school carnival last night but didn't get over to them in time.  Two are the mongo Costco bags.  I'm going to be lucky to get through one.  The kids reach in and politely take a piece or two.  I say, "No, that's not enough!" and I give them as full a handful as I can hold.  A couple of the little kids have had these petite little bags, I've nearly filled them up with just the one stop.

The kids are back, they had a lot of fun.  I wrung a good cup of water out of Thing 1's cloak, which drags on the ground.  They're in the candy exchange now. It appears to have been a good Halloween.

Heinous Week

This has been the craziest week. 

Finishing the kid's costumes.
Parent/teacher conferences.
Half days at school.
Memorizing a story to tell at the class parties. 
Being room mother for both of the simultaneous class Halloween parties.
Volunteering for the school Halloween carnival.
Drinking the gallon of seawater to get ready for a colonoscopy.
Having the colonoscopy. (No polyps for me! I dodged the family bullet.)
Carving pumpkins and getting ready for Halloween.

I don't think I could survive many weeks like this.  I'm so glad it's nearly over.  If I just make it through the Primary Program tomorrow...

Monday, October 25, 2010

School Picture Day

So.  Sometime last month was School Picture Day.  Last year we had some issues with the school picture, and I was really hoping for a good one this year.

In an attempt to get you more committed to your kid's pictures, the company is giving you more choices.  Instead of the standard gray or purpley blue background, you can now choose different backgrounds, including electric green or muddy amber.  You can also choose a close up shot, or a horizontal shot.  Here's their example:

In their example I like the close up.  Oooh, she's cute!  She's got a great smile! I figured maybe a closer shot would show off my girls' charm and their sweet smiles. I chose pose #2, the close ups. 
 It's sort of close up, but not so much so.  
Fast forward to today, when the picture packets showed up in the kids' backpacks.  My girls don't want to wait for me to look, I can look after we've walked home, and off they go.  I don't want to make a big deal about it because I've already embarrassed Thing 1 enough with my telling everyone about her picture last year.  Can't wait to get home!  How-do-they-look-how-do-they-look-how-do-they-look!

Take into account that my scanner isn't working so well, and everything seems to be coming in dark with a smear across it.  But this is what I got.

The girls themselves look great.  Thing 1's smile is still pretty enthusiastic, but not off the scale.  Thing 2 looks great but the funny little scab above her eyebrow (I can't remember anymore how it got there) really shows up.  The scanner is making them look like they were assaulted by a spray-on tanner.  In reality the color is okay.

What I don't like is the extreme close up.  It isn't showing up so well in the dark to the side, but Thing 1's ear barely made it in the shot, and she has all these little natural curls around her face that were cut off completely!  Thing 2 also lost a bunch of hair on that side especially, though on the other side her curls got cut off too.  The girl in the sample was not in danger of having her ears cut off.  She also has a collar bone.  With my kids the collar bone is just a rumor and the rotating knives which cropped the picture are dangerously close to their ears.

I'm tired of having the School Picture be an endurance until the next one.  And since the kids' pictures are okay and what I don't like is the extreme close-up business, I decided I'd probably do a retake, just to get the camera out of their faces.  By golly, Yeah!  I'll get retakes.  Now they've got the looking cute part down, we'll deal with the stupid photographer.  When is picture retake day?
Snap!  November 16th.  We'll all be out of the country.  

So we get to live with the Uber Close-Up photos.
At least no one looks like they were hit with a frying pan. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

$15 worth of pumpkins

I finally got the pumpkins unloaded from the car and out to the front porch.
This is $15 worth of pumpkins. 

I should probably just take off my last post.  Having a rant sitting there is like starting to complain and never shutting up.  It's embarrassing.  And I would take it down but it took me a long time to write it.  So now I want to move it to the past.  But I really have nothing exciting to write about.

Except that HUBBY COMES HOME tomorrow!!!

It has been working pretty well to Skype him, except that the best time to do it comes out to be during meals.  We're eating breakfast while he's eating dinner and vice versa.  I set the computer up at his place at the table and we kind of crowd to the opposite side and talk to him while we eat.  Kind of like a sitcom where we're all crowded into camera range.  He and the kids often have rather disjointed conversations... the girls get excited and have to run get things to show the camera, at extreme fuzzy close-up.  There is sometimes a slight delay in the upload, or it freezes entirely and we have to come around the table to deal with technical issues, but they push through.  They were having a knock-knock joke contest the other day that turned into a giggle fest on our end.  I made Salmon for dinner (that no one ate but me, BTW) and Hubby kept stalling out his system by uploading full screen pictures of salmon to show us.

It will be awfully nice to have him back on this side of the planet.  

I can't imagine what it's like to have your spouse in the military where they get deployed to the other side of the planet for three months or longer at a time.  The longest Hubby's been gone was three weeks, and he's in no serious danger, but it's still brutal for us.

I have been volunteering Thing 1 for more clip art.  I'm bucking for her to become the school newsletter clip art specialist.  But it might just be for this month, we'll see.
This morning she provided the graphics for an article the principal wrote using an analogy about apples and how volunteering helps distribute the work and helps divide things up.

Thing 1 just likes having an excuse to draw something.  She is very frustrated that 3rd Grade is so much less creative than 2nd was.  She said her "creativity is going away."  I can't let that happen, it's so much a part of who she feels like she is.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The trier you hard, the screw you more it up

Are you up for reading a whine?  A long one?
If so, gentle reader, read on. If not, you might want to come back in a few days when I'm not ranting.

I was having a perfectly fine day.  Not getting as much done as I'd like, but hey, I was still moving forward.
Around 2:15 I realized I hadn't done one of the most important things on my list: hit the grocery store.  I had a church activity thing I was taking my girls and another little girl to at 3:30.  So I figured I better head to the store before I picked the girls up from school at 3:05 (yes, school gets out at three OH FIVE).  
I headed out to the store, not really in a hurry.  But as I was checking out I opened my purse and saw I'd left my wallet home on the table when I was paying bills this morning.  It was now 2:45.
I live roughly an 8 minute drive from the store.  I give the cashier, who I know from shopping at the same store for 9 years, a panicked explanation.  She says "Dash home and get your wallet and come back.  We'll put it aside for you."
I run to the car.  It's 2:49.  I drive home pushing the neighborhood speed limit as far as I dare.  I get home at 2:55, park in front (no time to back into the garage like usual) and sprint in and out of the house, and speed back to the store.  It was just after 3:00.
I go to the cashier, she's ringing someone else up.  I bounce on my toes to catch her eye.  She looks at me apologetically and says, "I'm sorry, I screwed up.  They took your stuff over to Customer Service."
So I trot over to customer service.  Two ladies with a huge shopping cart of food are standing in front of the counter.  On the counter is my stuff.  The store employee behind the counter is scanning my jar of Boysenberry Syrup (what Thing 2 loves on her pancakes).  
She looks up at me bouncing.  When she makes eye contact I say, "I think you've got my stuff."
One of the ladies on my side of the counter says, rather amused, "So it's your croissants and pop tarts?"  (Thing 1 lives for cinnamon pop tarts.)
"Well, they rang it up with our stuff."  She smiled.  They were taking it pretty well.  They didn't have anywhere else to be.  They watched me fidget.
The Customer Service lady tells me she has to "return" and credit my stuff from the two ladies and then she can sell my stuff back to me.
Can you do this later, after I pick up a bunch of kids from school which let out two minutes ago and get them where they need to be?

I run to my car.  There are four cars idling in the parking lot.  I finally maneuver my way through the traffic jam and head to the school as swiftly yet carefully as I can, traffic cops have been known to watch for speeding carpool moms in this area.
I get to the school about 3:10.  There is no parking. I have to go around the block, and settle for a space further away than I'd like.  People are leaping out of the way as I RUN for our usual pick up place.

I find my girls and the other little girl, and they weren't as panicked as I thought they'd be.  I load them up and drive them to the church.  The class was for the 8 and 9 year olds to learn some basic sewing. They had borrowed my sewing machine and I had agreed to stay and help the lady doing the kids' class, but I figured she'd be okay while I ran back to the grocery store, where I got my groceries.  The cashier who rang my stuff up with the two other ladies came over and apologized a couple of times.  It's okay, she's still my favorite cashier.  Then I took my stuff home and put the cold stuff in the fridge. They can live without me at the church for 10 minutes.

The kids' church class wrapped up at 5:30.  It went very well, and Thing 1 was very proud of her sewing abilities.  (Thing 2 could have participated but at 7 is younger than everyone else and decided to draw pictures instead).  Time to come home and do homework.  Then I remember I had volunteered Thing 1's artistic abilities for a friend of mine.
Last month this friend had suddenly found herself in charge of the monthly school newsletter.  She asked if Thing 1, who likes to draw, would provide some clip-arty kinds of drawings.  They have to be in black-and-white, which is somewhat limiting.  But it makes sense to have student art instead of clip art.  Thing 1 would be thrilled.
I had tried to help this friend scan in a drawing her own daughter had made for last month's letter, and found our scanner doesn't do so well with penciled drawings.  So I told Thing 1 to use my tablet computer, which I inherited from Hubby (you can read about that little slice right here if you want to).  I thought that way I could just save all that scanning trouble.  Ha.

Finally an opportunity to take advantage of this whoop-di-do tablet computer. Except I can't find the stylus.  Don't know where it is, have no idea where it was last. Which makes this fancy computer just like any other old computer, she'd be drawing with a mouse.  Which is awkward at best.  So I find the iPad.  The iPad stylus is pretty wide and clunky, and I can only find one drawing program, which is a "Buddy Draw" and somewhat limited.  But it's what we have on the iPad.  Which has 3% of its battery left.  I forgot the charger when I was at my parents' house.  Great.   I hunt around for a while and finally find an alternate charger (which probably won't work anyway because the charger only works when the iPad is asleep but hey), let's see how far we can get on 3%.

Lucky she's fast.  Thing 1 finished her 3 required drawings of a pumpkin, a turkey, and a roasted turkey just before I put dinner on the table.

After dinner, bath, and bedtime for everyone but me, comes the challenge of getting the pictures off the iPad.
I am iPad illiterate.  I can play Field Runners, and Angry Birds, and watch Netflix on the iPad, but much beyond that I'm helpless.  So first I tried opening my yahoo mail on the iPad internet server, but it only let me read letters I'd already received.

I opened my husband's mail server on the iPad, at least there I could compose a letter, but it wouldn't let me attach anything to the letter. 

I got on the PC and did a little Googling and found something that said  open iTunes and then sync the iPad with the computer, and get the files through iTunes.  Which (to spare several minutes worth of details) I found didn't work.  I decided to take a picture of the pictures on the iPad with my cell phone, and email it to myself.  But the pictures came across too dark and cloudy and digitized.  I pulled out my REAL camera, but the battery was dead.  I charged it up enough to take a picture, and that looked pretty good.  Then I had to upload the file from the camera to the computer.  I plugged in the camera and then clicked on the pop-up window to copy the files over.  I clicked on it, (and here is when the clouds parted and I got a break) but it turned out it wasn't a window to copy files from the camera, I guess it had been there for a while and was asking me if I wanted to copy files over from the iPad.  It let me browse directly to the files on the iPad and copy them over.

It's been a long freakin day.

But since I'm at it... here are Thing 1's clip art drawings.

Just think what she could have done with color and a real stylus.

Now... to finish the rant, I'm up ranting until after midnight. I REALLY should have gone to bed two hours ago.  Rant rant rant.

Okay, now I'm done.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Three days at Grandma's

We got home late last night from my folk's.  The dog had a ball, the girls had a ball, and I actually got a couple things accomplished.

I wrote in my last post how we picked apples.  We also trimmed the trees a little.

Trimmed branches make dramatic (if somewhat unwieldy) swords.

The dog and his cousins romped and ran and growled and played.  We drove them out to a field and let them all play, trying to wear them out.  My father doesn't want all these hairy beasts in his house, so the dogs all go to my sister's.  This time she had her own two boxers, our collie, my brother's short hair/border collie mix, and her stepson's lab/pointer puppy. She doesn't usually have all these dogs and was worried they were going to keep her and her husband up all night, so she wanted to give them a good run to wear them out.

On the way back from that walk we saw three deer in someone's front yard. Just driving along in the middle of the neighborhood, and there are three deer.

The next day the girls and I went on a horseback ride with my sister.  (This was the highlight of the trip for them.)  A friend of my sister's came to help, so there were three grown-ups to herd the two little girls, who both did very well at steering their own horses and obeying the orders called to them.  

"Pull his head up!"  
"Don't let him eat the grass!"  
"Don't let her get ahead of the leader or she'll run home with you!"  
"Pull his head up!"
"Remember you're in control!"
"Don't let her stop and talk to those strange horses on the other side of the fence or we'll be here all day!"  
"Pull his head up!"

It helps that the horses they're riding are very well behaved.  They do what they're told, if they're told firm enough to notice, and are not too prone to misbehave. It's also nice they're not the "stick your nose in the tail of the horse in front of you and never remove it" kind of horses.  My sister owns the horses she and Thing 1 rode, her friend owns the horse she rode, and Thing 2 and I borrowed horses from a family friend, who used to keep my sister's horses.  

Thing 1, me, and Thing 2

The horse we borrowed for Thing 2 is "half draft" which means she's a little stockier than the others, which are mostly Tennessee Walkers.   She also had to trot to keep up with the long Walkers, which explains why Thing 2 spent so much of the ride giggling hysterically.  Apparently when you're 7 years old having your bones bounced out of their sockets while trotting is fabulous entertainment.
Seeing the little Thing 2 on the back of that big half draft reminded my sister of a cartoon she'd seen once, so she had to take a picture, which turned out better than she'd expected.

"Does this kid make butt look big?"
We also picked out pumpkins from a neighbor of my sister's who sells them much cheaper than the grocery stores.
We were driving back to my parents' house for dinner when I saw some kids out on a corner wearing bee keeper suits, waving at cars and selling their honey. The house looked familiar and so I stopped and bought some Raw, Local Honey, and sure enough the kids in the bee suits belonged to a good friend of my sister's (whose big brother I used to date) who has become something of a farmer.  She came out and talked to us, then took us to her garage and showed my girls her hives and gave us a brief lesson on how they get honey from the hives. 

We had really gone to the garage to see giant pumpkins they raised.  The bee hives were actually a bonus.

We had a great time, and got back very late last night. I still haven't unloaded all the pumpkins from the car.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The kids have Thursday, Friday, and Monday off from school.  Since Hubby's out of the country I brought the girls and dog up to my folk's and sister's houses, respectively.  The dog plays with his cousins and the girls and I play back and forth between the two houses.

Today we picked apples.  The girls most enjoyed riding around on my and my sister's shoulders, but they're also pretty good tree climbers.

I went pretty high up one tree and Thing 1 came right along behind.

We picked 9 boxes of Golden Delicious and 3 boxes of Jonathans.
My parents were trying to talk us into as much as we could take, but one box is really about all I can go through.  My applesauce is the only thing I cook that Thing 1 really praises. 

Monday, October 11, 2010


I just posted a complete brag about my knitting, but had to add this.

Hubby is in Sri Lanka this week.  He's been to India several times, but never to Sri Lanka.  Ask me how jealous I am when you've got some time.  But anyhooo...

He just sent this from his iPhone.

Apparently they send Men and Women through separate security lines.  I just LOVE how there's no one in the women's security line.

This is karmic revenge for the comparative shortage of stalls in the women's bathrooms at every major public event. 

And I also have to say that I can no longer hear the word "ladies" without translating it in my head to the way Demetri Martin says it.

Five Year Sweater

I finally finished the sweater I started for Thing 1 FIVE YEARS ago!  I think.  I think I started it when she was about four.  Maybe five.  In any event I had finished the body and was halfway up the sleeves when I put it down.  And didn't pick it up until a couple months ago.  So what was Thing 1's has become Thing 2's.  They're practically the same size, but Thing 1 won't wear anything that has more than two of the following: 
1) has THAT much of THAT shade of pink on it
2) buttons up the front
3) doesn't have a pocket on it where her hands can touch each other
4) itches AT ALL (the yarn on this has just a smidge of wool in it)

It's not perfect (there is a slight puckering where the left sleeve joins the body) but it's done!  Yippeeee!  And Thing 2 gets to wear it.  Between the quilting and the knitting and getting Hubby out the door (he left yesterday for two weeks in India and Sri Lanka), the house has gone to pot.  But the SWEATER IS DONE!

I had to hand sew all those little flowers, which is a stretch of my embroidery capabilities (I have none), and sew on the buttons, which I was so tickled to find because they're practically perfect in every way.
Thing 2 stepped away from the computer long enough to let me take this picture, hence the, "Are we done here?" expression.  I was tempted to just lop off her head, which would also have cut out some of the mess in my kitchen, but the headless sweater seemed a little weird.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tent City

In my description of myself I wrote - well, you can read it for yourself, right there to the right.
So it was pretty amusing to me that this afternoon the girls constructed not one, but two tent forts.  Thing 2 built hers in the family room, and Thing 1 built hers in the living room.  Between the two of them they've confiscated nearly every blanket and chair in the house.

Thing 1 claimed the dining room chairs first, but then Thing 2 trumped her by claiming the whole family room. Not many tent forts can claim a 42 inch flat screen TV.

Party Edition

I don't think I've won anything in my life except for a cakewalk in 3rd grade, when I won a somewhat tired looking cake slathered in crusty  boiled icing.  It was my first experience with boiled icing, I remember finding it fascinating, and picking off large divinity like chunks of it.  My mother raised her eyebrows when she saw me coming with my wonderful prize, which I remember because it was certainly not the reaction I was looking for, and I think her comments were somewhat restrained.  I believe I was the only one who ate a piece before it found its final resting place, plate and all, in the trash.

This week I won a drawing on the wonderful Buried With Children blog. I confess I probably should have told the lovely Jen to pick another winner because my kids are a little older than the target audience for this level of Dr. Suess, but the thrill of winning and the possibility of bequeathing this anniversary addition of Green Eggs and Ham upon my progeny or some other worthy child was too tempting to pass up.

The book arrived in this morning's mail, and it is certainly shinier and prettier than the edition I read to my own kids, with a glossy metallic orange cover and the "50th Anniversary" label in the corner. Just beautiful. Thank you, Buried With Children!!!!

What gave me pause, though, was the words "Party Edition" printed on the cover.  "Party Edition"?  I looked through the book, but found nothing different from previous editions... Sam I Am didn't raise a glass to toast the eventual consumption of the Ham and Eggs...  There are no musical notes wafting from a Suessian sound system on the last page while the furry critters shook their collective groove thangs...  I see Sam I Am as more of a loud music and beer kind of partier, where the Do Not Like guy as maybe more of a Wine and Cheese sort of individual.  Neither sort of celebration is depicted.  So I guess it's a make your own sort of party.  But it's a lovely thing to have won, and totally eclipses the Boiled Icing Cake.

The other joy of my life is that I have finished the Primary program. I should distribute it to the other members of the presidency to have them give it a once over before I copy it to distribute parts to the children, but I'm still in my pajamas, despite the fact that it is 4:15 pm. 

And last but not least on my list is the 12 quilt blocks, of which I have completed 5. I think I can knock out the last 7 tomorrow, the exchange is on Monday.  Here is one block, I'll post pictures of the whole thing after we exchange.
I am too lazy to get out my real camera to take a picture, and upload it to my computer, but not too lazy to try four times (unsuccessfully) to get a picture from my phone that isn't blurry. Sorry.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

January 2002

From back when I kept things short and sweet.

Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2002 5:37 PM
Subject: Christmas photos

we had a marvelous Christmas, hope yours was good too!

...and another one...
Sent: Monday, January 28, 2002 1:54 PM
Subject: Vacation photos

Hubby and Thing 1 and I went to Oceanside CA to get away
from all this snow! We had a lovely time, and Thing 1
was a huge hit with her baby sunglasses!