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!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Some of my best friends...

Scooba, affectionately known as "Scooby," is one of my dear friends.  Along with Roomba, and Garmin we have become something of a family within a family.  I have counted on them so many times, and they have come through for me so many times.  That last minute realization that I have company coming, and my kitchen is a disaster, there are dishes in the sink and not one square inch of kitchen counter showing?  No worries, Scooby will mop while I take care of the rest.  And I'll have a little friend to keep my company while I'm washing, clearing, organizing: a bumbling friend who wanders around drunk while I wash the dishes.  I occasionally have to rescue it from under the cabinets where it wedges itself too tight to move, but once I pull it out it staggers off leaving a trail of cleanliness behind it.

For a year my upstairs was the cleanest area of the house because we knew Roomba was coming out twice a week, whether the kids were ready or not.  There was no clutter because we had to stay ready for Roomba.  Sorry kids, gotta clean up, Roomba comes out tomorrow!  And that lovely feeling of walking upstairs to find it vacuumed while I was out, priceless.

Garmin is more my husband's friend.  He takes her on his business trips, I only get her on vacation.  But I learned to love her as I was wandering around Florida a couple years ago in a rental car that felt very strange to drive, with a sick kid threatening to throw up at any minute.  We had checked out of the conference hotel and I was trying to find the Disney hotel we were moving to for the remainder of our stay.  There's no way I could have followed even the most clear google map directions.  I needed someone sitting next to me calmly telling me where to turn...  and I had that in Garmin.

But Roomba's been sick for a while.  It makes a distinct persistent knocking when it starts, then stops.  There is a system of diagnosis, counting the beeps to analyze the problem.  I wish it would just tell me, but no, I have to count the beeps.  Roomba is my oldest electronic companion, and is way past warranty.  My understanding is once past warranty the nice people at iRobot become surly and monosyllabic.  If you're under warranty they're happy to help you, shipping of complete replacements without even raising their voices.  I know this because I've had both Scooby and Roomba replaced under warranty.  This of course does not bode well in the long term.  Scooby had a minor hiccup recently but a quick online search gave me a quick solution, and we were back in business.

I'm feeling better because my house is somewhat cleaner, my primary program is half written, and I was able to steal some time to work on the sweater I'm trying to finish (pictures when it's done).  Today while the girls were distracted with playdates, I made the felted rose for Thing 2's purse which my mother knitted and felted for her. It is the first time I've felted anything.  I have to buy a magnetic clasp thing to sew on it, and it will be done.

Please excuse the fuzziness of the pictures, they're from my phone's camera. Too lazy to drag out and upload from the real camera.