Monday, December 31, 2007

It's almost time!

For a new computer? That's for certain as I do not have enough memory left to upload one single photo or scan one more layout. That problem will be resolved later this week.

But really, it's almost time for the new year! Are you ready with your resolutions? I am going to post my list tomorrow - it's all about accountability this year. On that note, I am also embarking on two new year-long projects that are sure to provide much future blog material.

First, Justin and I are going to cook through the Nigella Express cookbook this year. Yep, that means we are going to cook every single recipe, even the 27 seafood recipes, which should be a delightful challenge as I don't eat seafood. I guess I do now!

Next, I am taking my friend Francine up on her challenge to join Project 365 - taking a photo every single day. Come to think of it, I may start a separate blog for this but that is a decision to be made tomorrow. Stay tuned! You can get more information about Project 365 here:

And finally, do you have your one little word ready? I first heard about this concept on Ali Edward's blog and my friend Marci ( convinced me that I needed to try it this year. So, my word for 2008 is FOCUS. That seems a bit odd considering the scattered nature of this post doesn't it? But it's a very appropriate word this year because Justin and I very recently decided that I will not be returning to full-time work when Grace starts kindergarten in the fall. Instead, I am going to pursue a dream and as everyone knows, pursuing a dream means a lot of focus. More on this later!

So that's it! I hope you have a very fun, safe New Year's Eve. If you are making any resolutions or you have a word to share, leave a comment!

Friday, December 28, 2007

I want to live here

We went to see Chihuly at Night at the conservatory tonight. Do you think the staff would notice if I sleep under a big fern?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Don't the days seem to speed up the closer it gets to Christmas? We spent the last few days in a whirlwind of baking and crafting and cooking and then suddenly, it was time to celebrate!

Today we have been much lazier, opening the last of the toys (and those Satan-inspired twist ties that are new and improved with TAPE on top of them), watching movies, playing with music on-line, reading and well, just generally being lazy. I love the holidays!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

When good men get sick at Christmas time

it's never pretty for their wives. My dad has strep throat and Justin has a cold and my mom and I are trudging alone through the last minute to-do lists. I hope Justin is feeling better tomorrow though because I draw the line at buying my own Christmas present.

I had the brilliant idea to organize my scrapbook stuff last night after wrapping most of the presents. I spent hours (or did it only seem that way?) lugging things to the table, Justin's eyes getting a little bit bigger with every trip, until he finally had to say it. "You have a lot of scrap crap."

Well yes, yes I do. And I had bags of kits and class materials from two years just sitting in the closet - all containing even more "stuff" that needed to be sorted and integrated into my regular stash. After several hours of this, I realized two things: 1) I am going to need to get a lot of new storage containers after Christmas and 2) I never need to buy scrapbook supplies again. Ever. At about 1 am, Justin started to complain that I was keeping him up (he was sleeping on the couch because of the aforesaid cold which means he can't lie down to sleep. Are all men like this when they get sick?) so after hours of organizing, I just started throwing things back in bags and hid it all on the porch. A well conceived idea from start to finish.

Santa, if you are reading this, I really need a bookshelf for Christmas. With very tall shelves. Thank you!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Doesn't this look nice?

That speck of a human is apparently my brother. Does it look like there are any ropes up there? I can't tell. I'm told he is also in this month's issue of BackCountry Magazine, skiing in some secret location. Secret locations sound really nice. He lives in Taos. Taos sounds really nice too.

It was a rough day. This week was supposed to be calm and relaxed and instead it turned into a frenetic jumble of chaos. But tomorrow is looking good. I spent a good portion of today crying (sometimes, you just need to cry, right?) and I don't plan to spend any part of tomorrow crying.

Tonight I forgot to put sugar in the gingerbread cookies I made to decorate at Charlie's party tomorrow. But you can hardly tell and with some icing and gumdrops, who will know the difference? And Justin correctly points out that no kid is going to actually eat the gingerbread so I'm thinking I will just go with it.

So that's it. If you can string together the random threads of this post, you win a prize. Oh yeah. It was a rough day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I guess it didn't look good

So I ended up reading Grace several books, in her room. I heard the phone ringing but I ignored it. Several times.

I finally came out to my very disgruntled looking husband walking into the house with a huge package. Apparently he was stuck behind the Fed Ex man in our driveway for quite some time. An alarming amount of time. And I wouldn't answer the phone.

And it turns out the Fed Ex man was pounding on the door for some time since he was positive someone was home. So that's why the dog was barking.

And now my husband keeps making snide comments about the Fed Ex man. Maybe I shouldn't make New Year's resolutions.

My first resolutions for 2008

because I want to write them down and I want to be accountable.

I am going to read her a story. Every. single.time. she asks.

and I am going to take $1 from my weekly scrapbook budget every time I use the words "not right now" or "just a minute" or some similarly dismissive comment.

That will do it for now. Perhaps I should keep a running list.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Don't you just love the Antiques Road Show?

Especially in lieu of bringing all the Christmas presents out of hiding and commencing the wrapping? Really, anything will do. Star Trek Enterprise, Little People, Big World, High Stakes of Poker, The True Story of Noah's Ark. You know. Quality television.

My daughter has been kidnapped by Christmas elves and they have left a sassy, spitting, back talking imitation in her place. She is truly a spectacle to behold. I finally stooped to the "I'm so desperate I'll say anything" admonition and told her that I was going to send a letter to Santa and tell him that she is not being nice. She hissed at me.

If you are checking for updates of the Christmas journal, I apologize. I am basically up to date but haven't mustered the organizational energy to scan and post it. In the meantime, I see that Da Vinci's Lost Code has come on and I really must get busy watching it so as to delay the wrapping for one last day.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The story of a Christmas tree

First you have to go to a tree farm. If you are experienced, you already know which farms are muddy, which are on a hill, which are likely to have birds nests hidden in the trees and which ones have hot chocolate. First you will try a tree farm close to home but you will discover that Christmas tree farms close to home never actually have Christmas trees that are ready to be cut down. You will drive 250 miles and find one that is just a big empty field with a few trees randomly planted a long time ago. This tree farm will not have hot chocolate. Or restrooms.

At this point in the adventure, you will realize that you are cold and that everyone has to go to the bathroom. One of your children will have an asthma attack. You will find a tree 3 miles from the car and your pants will be wet and muddy from lying on the sodden ground to cut down your almost-perfect tree. Someone might announce that this will positively be the absolutely last year you will ever cut down your own Christmas tree. Everyone will still have to go to the bathroom.

The big people will struggle mightily to wrestle the 40 foot tree to the top of the car and tie it on with some package string and scotch tape and hope it stays put. Then you will drive home at 15 miles per hour, people behind you alternately honking impatiently and swerving in panic when it appears as though the Giant Sumac atop the car is about to catapult toward their windshield.

You will arrive home exhausted and trudge into the house, collapse and completely forget about the tree perched precariously on top of the car. You will remember the next morning when you march out the door, 15 minutes late for the Sunday School Christmas pageant practice, in the midst of a torrential downpour. The tree will hold tight long enough to make it to the church parking lot where several of God's children will point with laughter at your vehicle and you will duck down behind the steering wheel hoping that no one recognizes the 483 Strawberry Shortcake stickers your daughter has adorned her car window with. They will.

One of the big people will be convinced to cut the packing string off the tree and push the tree into a mud puddle beside the car before dashing madly back into the house and declaring the intention never to go outside again. The tree will wait in the rain. Eventually one of the big people will decide that the tree should come inside and will drag it through the kitchen and the dining room, knocking every magnet off the refrigerator and picture off the wall, leaving streaks of mud in its wake. After three hours of wrestling the stabbing needles of death into the tree stand and adjusting the tilt approximately 3572 times, the tree will be in place, awaiting adornment.

Three weeks later, the tree will still be in place awaiting adornment. If you have remembered to water the tree, it will still have some needles. One of the big people will decide to put Christmas lights on the tree and spend the next week untangling the lights that you are sure were put away very neatly the year before. If you are lucky, nobody will swear. The children will eventually decide to decorate the tree on their own and will randomly bring ornaments up from their hiding place in the basement one at a time. You will feel the need to remind them every three seconds NOT to put the ornaments in their mouths because the ornaments are made in China and are surely poisonous. The children will feel the need to taste the ornaments just to be sure.

Eventually one of the big people will feel guilty enough to bring all of the ornaments out of the basement and the decorating will begin in earnest. The children will pick one spot toward the right bottom corner of the tree and put 95% of the ornaments on three branches.

You will decide that what the tree is missing is popcorn strings and you will set the children to work hoping that they will not stab each other with the needles. The dog will eat the first popcorn string. The children will persevere on, fortified by the 15 pounds of popcorn they consume in the process. You will hang their creations on the tree. A cat will climb the tree to reach a popcorn string and eat half of it meanwhile knocking every single ornament onto the ground. The dog will eat a few ornaments before you manage to get them back on the tree.

Finally, you will finish the decorating and you will discover that the tree is not located near any outlets and that the only extension cord you can find is bright orange and must be stretched across the length of the house to the nearest outlet. Your cats will chew the orange extension cord. You will eventually realize that there is an outlet behind the tree that your smallest child can reach if she lies flat on her stomach and holds her breath as she inches under the tree and tries not to knock it over.

Finally, you will plug in the lights and declare that this is the best Christmas tree ever.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An interim update

Because I've been trying to wait until I have time to scan all my journal pages and I just don't know when that is going to be. Tomorrow maybe?

Grace has recovered from being sick but she has been having asthma attacks since Saturday. It's a different thing to worry about but at least we have medication for this one.

Charlie brought home a nativity coloring page he did at school today. I'm a bit curious about it. There is no question it's a nativity - Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus, star, shepherds, etc. I wonder what the Jewish student in his class felt about it. Really. I wonder if it's part of the curriculum or just something the substitute teacher came up with on her own. I'm pretty sure I'm not that happy about it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cabin Fever

My dear husband suggested on Monday that I might be suffering from this affliction. I scoffed. I insisted I could be a hermit under the right circumstances. 3 days later, my resolve is weakening. Grace is still sick. Worse, in fact. I am embarassed to confess that I've now discovered there is no such thing as a Scooby Doo marathon. Scooby Doo is simply on all day, every day. That's something good to know.

Today's prompt was to journal about a good Christmas memory and a bad one. I chose a "kind of" bad one rather than delve into the depths of my psyche. Charlie's first Christmas was so crazy busy, running to one place after another. We didn't get to sit down as a family and open our presents from each other and the very first presents from Santa until 5:00 in the afternoon. We've never done it that way again.

And the 2 peas prompt was to talk about holiday decorating. We don't have a schedule. We do it when we have the time and when inspiration strikes. We're about 1/4 done this year. Trees are up in the kids rooms. The stuff that goes on the walls is on the walls. Everything else will come out when we cut down the tree.

One of the cat ate Justin's favorite sweater this morning. Then he ate the cover of the book I'm reading. I think they're sick of having us around all day. Or sick of Scooby Doo.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Baby, it's cold outside!

I am home again today with a sick little girl. Right now she seems to be rallying and we might head out to the grocery store which was on my agenda before it became clear we weren't going anywhere today. Only now we are. See how that works?

Shimelle's prompt for Day 4 was to journal about your perfect Christmas. Yesterday got off all on the wrong foot. I woke up early to do the page before heading off to work but the prompt wasn't ready. It came right before I left and I pondered it all day and even played around with some ideas last night but it just wasn't working. So I went to bed early and as I lay there in the peace and quiet (finally!) I suddenly realized that I was struggling between the concepts of the ideal Christmas vs. my ideal Christmas.

You know, the Christmas portrayed with softly falling snow, a sense of peacefulness, animals gathering reverently outside the window to gaze upon the perfectly coiffed family opening presents one by one in front of the crackling fireplace. It sounds nice, doesn't it?

But that's just not how it is in my world. My family is loud and we are messy. Our houses are small and quite often, messy. (Are you getting the messy theme?) We rip into the presents and talk over each other and the whole experience can be quite overwhelming for a newcomer. (Or so my husband tells me.) But it's perfect for us. It's how it has always been. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

And the 2 peas prompt yesterday was: Does Santa wrap the presents or just put them under the tree? Of course he wraps them. Very messily.

Today Shimelle's prompt was Christmas countdown. So of course I journaled about our advent boxes which have been a hit beyond my wildest expectations. Okay, that sounds a bit dramatic doesn't it? Well, they have been a success. Justin was VERY skeptical at first. In fact, he might have shook his head in disgust and the thought that I have too much time on my hands might have crossed his mind. But he is a convert. Because the kids just love it. Wake up and race each other to the living room to open the day's box love it. Today our activity is to enjoy late night milk and cookies. And to do that, we will have to make the cookies. And they love it.

And the 2 peas prompt is something about hanging mistletoe. Which we don't do. Not for any good reason, we just don't.

And good news for any one who missed the Scooby Doo marathon on Monday. It appears to happen on Wednesdays also!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Snuggle up Monday

Today's prompt was Christmas cards. I knew I save the cards from last year for a reason!

I accidentally skipped yesterday's blog challenge from Two Peas. Hot chocolate or egg nog? Perhaps I skipped it because it's beneath my dignity to acknowledge the presence of the word egg nog in the same sentence as the word chocolate. Which actually should probably be capitalized. Chocolate. That's better.

And today's question is: What is your favorite holiday dish? This is a tough one but I always make a caramelized onion, blue cheese and walnut pizza on Christmas Eve. It is yummy! One year I didn't make it because I thought I was the only one who liked it and I was met with howls of protest and I think Justin ended up going to the store and we made it at the last minute. So yeah, yummy.

We are home again today. Everyone is feeling under the weather. Well except for Justin who insists he is going to get a motel room tonight so he isn't exposed to our germs. He has an abnormal fear of germs. But really, he is missing the Scooby Doo marathon and frankly, it is worth being sick just to get to watch Scooby Doo all day. And eat our own version of Scooby snacks.

The kids are so excited about the advent boxes. They are loving the activities we do together and the chocolate in the morning doesn't hurt. So happy to have made a new holiday tradition!

And just in case you are interested, Shimelle is still taking sign-ups for Journal Your Christmas. If 12 more people sign up, there will be 1000 people in the class! It has been fantastic so far, it really has contributed to our goal of slowing down and savoring this season. You can sign up here:

Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

One the 2nd day of December

Shimelle's prompt today was to journal about the weather. And use a snowflake. Today is blechy. It froze yesterday and it has been pouring all day so when you go outside, it smells like dirt.... that wet, fresh smell of spring when the earth is waking up. I hope it doesn't wake the flowers again.

I am sorry to report that Justin passed on the Tinkerbell snowglobe. However, he could not pass up the blue and white flashing icicle lights. If any of the neighbors are reading this, I sincerely apologize.

I am feeling under the weather and unmotivated today. We're going to make a gratitude garland as the advent box activity this afternoon. And that will probably wrap up the day!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Merry merry!

The first page of my Christmas journal. Today's prompt was journal your manifesto. I adopted Shimelle's manifesto because it sounded pretty good to me.

And I got the advent boxes up! I'm going to put in the activity slips and hershey kisses when the kids go outside to play. Or something.

Justin insisted this year he is going to do the "Safe Auto" Christmas lights, i.e. the bare minimum. Then he went to Lowe's and called me because they have an inflatable snow globe with Tinkerbell in it. We are nothing if not classy.

It's the most wonderful time of the year

It seems like the arrival of December 1st really kick starts the Christmas season this year!

We open the first day of the advent calendar today (or at least we would if I had remembered to hang the advent boxes yesterday but I will get to it today, I promise. Yes, I will!)

And it's the first day of Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas class. (You can check that out right here:

And it's the annual pancake breakfast with Santa sponsored by the kids' daycare.

And did I mention that Tim Holtz has a blog? Okay, okay, I know you are probably getting tired of hearing about it, but he is doing an awesome 12 days of Christmas tutorial teaching a different technique every day. With giveaways!

And Sophia on Two Peas posted a Christmas blog challenge with a question for every day of the season. Today's prompt: Colored lights or white lights on your house, or none at all? We have traditionally been a white lights kind of family. I just like the timeless elegance, the little burst of "ah" you feel when you see those beautiful white lights shining in the darkness. But the last few years, as our kids get older, I think we've gotten a bit more playful and Justin has added some colored light accents in the yard... on a tree and on the wrought iron fence. He is mostly in charge of the outdoor decor and every year he seems to get more ambitious. Can't wait to see what he has in store this year!

My tummy is telling me it's time to go get some pancakes. Justin's snores are telling me it might take a while to get everyone out the door. I think it might be time to play some Transiberian Orchestra!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I come by it naturally

I'm not a follow the recipe kind of a cook. I mean, I follow the recipe the first time, but after that, all bets are off. A little of this, a pinch of that, throw some of this in there and voila! Sometimes it's good, sometimes not so much.

I made ham earlier in the week and wanted to make my great-grandmother's ham potpie with the leftovers. I've never actually made this recipe because my mom always does it. I'm a wimp and I don't really like to touch meat that much. Pennsylvania Dutch potpie doesn't actually have a crust, instead you make dumplings with the dough and drop them into the boiling broth.

So I pulled out my grandma's recipe and here is what I found:

1 c celery
1/2 c onion
2 diced potatoes

Dumplings: Flour, salt and enough leftover broth to make pie dough. Cut into squares and drop into boiling broth. Cook in covered pot for 1/2 hour.

So I guess on the broth and the ham parts. And the dumpling part. Okay, I guessed on pretty much all of it. And I can pretty much guarantee it is not going to taste like hers used to. But hopefully we will still be able to eat it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I should have pictures to go with this post

but I have been a bad scrapbooker and left the camera at home so I could just enjoy watching my kids learn to ice skate.

And it has been an ear-splitting grin kind of adventure. Charlie took to it like he was born with skates on his feet. After only two lessons, he is a tasmanian devil out there. Gracie is a little bit more timid... which is odd because in real life, it's the exact opposite. But she is tiptoeing along, even after watching the figure skaters, determined that she is going to be a hockey player.

Tonight the hockey team that has the rink after lessons didn't feel like waiting to get on the ice so the boys (and they were all boys) were racing around the fledgling skaters, dodging and jumping and being boys. And then one of them got his finger caught under someone else's skate. Ugh. It was at that moment that I decided I'm not sure I have the stomach for this sport. My kids are undeterred though and convinced that this is the coolest thing on earth. So on we skate.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I had a hint

what kind of day it was going to be when we put in Homeward Bound to watch (for the 763rd time) and I cried at every single emotional part. The part where Shadow asks why Peter is leaving. The part when the animals set out on their journey home. When the family finds out the animals are gone. When Sassy goes over the waterfall. When Shadow finds the little girl. When the her dad finds Shadow and the little girl. When the family finds out the animals are found. You get the idea, right?

It's just the kind of day when even the smallest task seems insurmountable. And annoying. And like I just finished doing it 5 minutes ago so why do I have to do it all over again. You have those kinds of days, right? Please say yes.

It was the kind of day where if someone had a whole container of leftover cheesy potatoes from Thanksgiving in the refrigerator, someone might be tempted to eat all of them. Smothered in chocolate. Okay, not the chocolate part. But you believed me for a second didn't you?

Friday, November 23, 2007

A shameless plug

Have you ever thought about digital scrapbooking, even for just a minute? Have you seen all the cool stuff you can do with brushes and fonts and all the great products that are available?

Now I'm a paper and glue girl at heart but I have to admit I'm curious and I've played with Photoshop Elements a little bit but it is not intuitive for me. So... I've signed up for Digital Scrapbook Basics here at

The class is being taught by my friend and 2007 Creating Keepsakes Hall of Famer Paula Girarde and if that's not enough to convince you, check out the awesome kit you get from Katie Pertet at Designer Digitals. All for only $20!

So this is my shameless invitation for you to come and join me in this class. You can even download a trial version of Photoshop Elements for this class FREE! How can you beat that deal?!!?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

And hi Jen! Don't make fun - I warned you!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Things I wonder

why does one of my cats like to play with my hair all night long?

why is my husband's boss making him interview someone at 9:00 on Black Friday morning smack dab in the middle of the biggest shopping plaza in our area?

why isn't Ghosthunters on everyday?

why shouldn't I eat Halloween candy for breakfast?

why didn't Scott McClellan tell us the President was lying back when it could have made a difference?

what am I going to be when I grow up?

where did all of this laundry come from?

will anyone in my family eat poached pears and brie if I bring that for Thanksgiving?

can I take a nap yet?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

There are no pink tutus here

Although I only lasted in ballet for about a second, (I did competitive highland dancing. With swords.) I confess that I've always had a secret hope that my daughter would show an interest in dance and that she would show an aptitude toward graceful, flowing movement belied by the clumsy "can't walk and chew gum at the same time" genes passed on to her by her father and me.

And while Grace is at times a "girly girl", she is mostly not. My mother's description as a tomboy princess fits her to a tee. So she said "no" to dance and signed up for gymnastics. Then she took a break from gymnastics to try karate. And then we took her to an ice hockey game.

I should have suspected something was up from the start. We sat in my husband's company box and rather than bounce around the box and play on the couch and watch tv, she sat in her seat paging through the program, asking about the players' pictures. She showed particular interest in Mario Lemieux's picture when we told her he was one of the greatest players ever. When she discovered Mario was sitting in the box next to ours, she developed quasi-like paparazzi skills. She pointed at his picture. "Dat's Mario. He is wearing a blue shirt tonight."

And when the game started, she was riveted. She turned to me halfway through the first period and told me she was going to play this game. Then she asked her dad if girls were allowed to play this game. We honestly didn't know. We know soccer, football, t-ball... but next to nothing about hockey. But it turns out that there are lots of opportunities for girls to play hockey. So she is trading in her karate uniform for skates.

When I asked her last night if she was interested because of the ice skating, she said yes. Then she looked me straight in the eye and said "and because of the hitting." That's my girl.

Monday, November 19, 2007

That crazy amino acid tryptophan

Well, scientists says it's really not the tryptophan that makes you sleepy on Thanksgiving and it's really the carbs but tryptophan is much more fun to say. Anyway, we celebrated Thanksgiving with my in-laws here yesterday and it was a lovely day right up until the tryptophan kicked in during the Steelers game and I fell asleep and missed it all right up until I woke up just in time to see the Jets score in overtime. It would have been better to sleep through that part too.

Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions? Aside from the meal of course. Our is The Muppets Christmas Carol. Best Christmas movie ever and it goes on as soon as we're done eating. This might be why my husband often decides to go home as soon as we're done eating because there is no football at my parent's house. And then the girls play Scrabble. Come to think of it, I'm surprised Justin doesn't go home even earlier. The last two years we've had a sick kid and he's used that as an excuse, if they stay healthy through Thursday he might have some trouble.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Some more links for you

because I like to share like that!

This sight is really cool. It's a vocabulary test and they will donate 10 grains of rice for every word that you get correct. I got 25 right on my first visit. Check out the donation schedule at the end... pretty darn amazing.

Have you discovered the Pioneer Woman yet? My friend Marci got me hooked and it has quickly become my favorite place to visit on the web. Check out her series of love story entries.

Speaking of Marci, you really owe it to yourself to visit her blog and take in some of her fabulousness.

Did I mention that Tim Holtz has a blog now? ;)

This blog belongs to a very creative, talented woman named Christine Middlecamp. Christine's work has this indescribable quality to it - it's full of details and surprises and well, it's simply amazing. I've long since given up trying to scrap like her but I love to check out her blog and see what she is up to. Her husband is struggling with brain cancer but she has a very positive, inspirational outlook that is equally amazing.

Have fun!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I mean, it snowed today. For a minute. There are many things I prefer about the colder months. (Mostly that the colder months are not the hot, humid months.) But one thing I do not prefer is pumping gas in the driving wind and sleet.

We are hosting Thanksgiving here this weekend. And I just remembered to take the turkey out of the freezer this afternoon. Think it will thaw in time?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The next iron chef

(I am blog cheating this morning and copying this straight from an e-mail I sent to my husband. Love you honey!)

I put Charlie to the task of making his peanut butter and jelly sandwich for his lunch. It wasn't long before I heard him talking to himself... "it's beYOOtiful, such a lovely shade of magenta... it's simply aMAZing." I asked what was going on and he lifted the first piece of bread proudly in the air and said "just look at that. LOOK at that color. It is amazing." I left him to continue his work and shortly I hear (in the deepest, most iron chef-iest voice "it is FINISHED!" When I complimented him on his enthusiasm, he replied "I made the perfect sandwich. It is simply PERFECT."

And I guess it is!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another funny thing she said

while playing with alphabet blocks (you know, the ones that have a picture of an alligator next to the letter A.)

"Mommy!" in a horrified and very indignant voice.

"What?!" (that's me) in a very alarmed tone afraid that something is seriously amiss.

"Crocadator doesn't start with a A! It starts with a Q!"

And how do you begin to argue with that logic?

Monday, November 12, 2007

I moved out of the dining room

Because I was tired of having to clean up my mess for dinner. Or tired of us eating around my supplies when I didn't clean it up for dinner. It's not perfect but it's an improvement. My family thinks so too. Glitter and spaghetti don't go together that well.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Happy Saturday!

Finally something to share. I did this for a recent call in which you had to scraplift the original layout. It got no love and since I can't submit it anywhere else, I will share it here! Charlie was a mummy for Halloween last year... I haven't figured out what I'm going to do with this year's Darth Vader pictures.

The kids have been advocating that they need to get out of the house so we're going to take them to see Ratatouille at the maxi-saver theater this afternoon. Justin has to work most of the day so it's quite convenient that the theater is only a few minutes from his office. Now I just have to survive the part of the day that lasts until the movie starts.

I've been inspired by being inspired lately. Does that make any sense? I've been stalking pictures of bulletin boards and Christmas projects and the like. And yesterday I made my own little bulletin board and clipped up things that make me happy. And it makes me happy. I don't have a scrap space or even an office so it perhaps looks a little odd hanging in the corner of the dining room. But since the dining room has long been taken over by scrap supplies, I suppose it works.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The monkey house smells bad

Well, not anymore. But Grace had a wicked stomach virus yesterday. Everything is washed and lysoled and disinfected. So I guess it might still smell bad but at least it's eau d'lysol today.

Justin and I went to Charlie's parent teacher conference this morning. Ever since I called her asking her about the curriculum, she has us pegged for those meddling, interfering parents who put our child's name on the waiting list for Harvard the day after he was born. After our meeting this morning, it seems unlikely she will change her assessment. Happily, she still seems to like our kid. She has observed his perfectionist, anxious tendencies and she agrees that's our biggest concern right now. She said kids like Charlie get to MIT and then freak out when they get a "B". Justin said, we don't really care about MIT, we just want him to be happy. I don't think she believed us.

So I'll tell you what is making me the most happy about my kids these days. And it's that their new favorite cartoon is Scooby Doo. I was such a fan of that cartoon back in the day that my nickname was (and remains to certain loved ones) "Scooby". So we are going to spend this morning off from school watching the Scooby Doo marathon and eating cinnamon toast. Because that's the kind of things kids should do.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Being a parent is a constant source of amazement

as Grace yells from the bathroom "Mom, I know what 3 + 3 + 3 is." I reply "mmmhmmmm" as I focus on sorting through the bazillion papers that have come home from Charlie's school this week. "It's 9 mom!" What? Where does she learn this stuff? And if she's smart enough to figure out adding three figures together, why can't she learn how to clean her room?

We had an awesome morning. I kept her out of preschool this morning so that I could go get some Tea Tree Oil shampoo to protect her from a lice outbreak at school. So we headed into the city and visited all the stores we don't usually have time to visit. I think in another life, I would love to manage a Whole Foods store.

I keep forgetting to mention that I am going to teach my very first scrapbook class. Okay, it's going to be a "learn how to scrapbook" class at the library but you have to start somewhere, right? And I will come up with a more imaginative title than that. Or not. I think my focus group is all over 70 so maybe I should keep it simple.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Here is my gift to all of you...

Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist. I can not say enough how awesome this stuff is. You shake it. You spray it. You've got bling.

And did you know that Tim Holtz has a blog now?

And did you know that Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End comes out on dvd on December 4th?

Merry Christmas a few weeks early!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Creative blocks and life changes

So if you've read my blog for any length of time, you will know that back around February or March I began lamenting that I had a creative block. It went on and on. Eventually, I started scrapbooking again but it has felt like pulling teeth for months. It just hasn't been fun, it's been something I've forced myself to do because a) I feel guilty when I'm not scrapbooking the memories as we make them b) I feel guilty because I certainly didn't stop buying stuff and c) because I scrapbook and that's part of who I am.

But in the last couple weeks, something has changed. I don't know how to explain it other than it feels like my brain opened up. I have ideas. I have stories to tell. I can visualize the page in my head. The process is fun. For the first time in months and months, I am staying up late because I just have to get this idea translated onto a page. I am letting the laundry and the dishes wait while I create. I won't take this burst of creativity for granted because I know too that it will not last.

And in the midst of all this creative energy, life has shifted subtly. Justin is really happy in his new position. I mean really and truly happy in a way I haven't seen for a long, long time. He is working crazy hours and working even when he gets home and before he leaves. And yet, we are laughing more and playing more and enjoying our time together more. I can't help but see the connection.

In the meantime, the rest of life carries on as normal. We deal with the dramas of schoolyard disagreements, temper tantrums, not enough sleep and loading the dishwasher 800,000 times a day. Or maybe it only seems that way.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

On my camera this week

It has been a long week. L O N G.

I had to go into the city this afternoon to file something at the courthouse and I just happened to park beside my sister's car. Her meter was about to run out and so I put another quarter in it and left her a funny note under her windshield wiper. She repaid me with a foofy mickey mouse pen under my wipers.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Okay Joyce!

It's the former Famous Footwear/Footjoy store at the Miracle Mile in Monroeville. It is being changed to a Footlocker. Good luck!

I'm taking a short blog break. Lots of ugliness and craziness going on in the scrapbook world right now and since my opinion seems to be different from just about everyone else, I think it's best to keep my mouth shut until it blows over.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mars is in retrograde.

Ha! Little joke I have going with some friends. I heard on the radio last week that Mars is in retrograde which means that strange things happen. Although, when I googled it just now, it appears Mars doesn't actually go into retrograde until next week. And I don't even know what retrograde is. Or what kinds of strange things are supposed to happen. But it's a good explanation for strange stuff anyway.

Last soccer games of the year today and it was cold! Gracie scored her first goal in the very last second of the game. Big celebrations all around. Charlie has decreed that she is the queen.

And my quirky little man. This morning he announce that he has developed a new superpower and that this is the ability to see germs with his naked eye. Not surprisingly, this superpower causes me some mild concern. I am going to hope he forgets about it.

Harry (the dog) came down with an ear infection last night. He is still so sweet natured, I might never have realized anything was wrong but he kept flapping his ears all night and it drove me crazy. I took him to the vet in between games and he should be better soon.

So I am about as far from being a clothes horse as one can be. But one of the moms at soccer told me about a shoe store that is changing owners and they are clearancing the entire stock for ridiculous prices. And because they already switched the name, nobody realizes there is a clearance sale. So of course I had to go check it out. 8 pairs of shoes (Merrill, Kenneth Cole, and Eastlands) for $68. I'm still kind of in shock. Mars is in retrograde.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Homer Simpson and jonah days

The day started off innocently enough. I got up early with Justin (who worked a 16 hour day yesterday and left early again today) to make pumpkin bread. Yum.

Then I got the kids up and prepared their cereal bowls only to be rewarded with howls of protest from my son. He is reading a book about bugs and it apparently says that there are weevils in cereal. He can't eat cereal anymore. He is boycotting things made in China and won't eat cereal anymore. Sweet.

Thursday is also library day and he couldn't find his library book. I insisted it was in his room, he was convinced it was in the car. He went to check and in the process let the cat out.

After all of this commotion, we are now too late to make it to the bus on time. Which means I have to wait to drop him off at school, get Grace to school 1/2 hour late and to work 45 minutes late. I am already dreading work today because of an unpleasant appointment in the afternoon. My cell phone started ringing about this appointment exactly 5 seconds after I turned it on when I got in the car.

I had a brief moment of delight at this point in the day. The radio station ran a quiz called "Who Said It? Homer J. Simpson or George W. Bush." As you might expect, George did not come out looking the wiser. My favorite GWB quote... "The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepeneur." You can't make this stuff up.

So I am cruising along finally with a smile on my face when a jet black cat ran right in front of my car. I didn't hit it but geez, it seems kind of ominous given the day and time of year.

I have appointments for the rest of the day and evening and I'm hoping I don't drop a mirror or walk under any ladders in the meantime.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I check my favorite blogs every day

but sometimes I am very bad about updating this one. Often there aren't enough hours in the day but just as often, I have nothing to say.

My friend Vivian issued a challenge to scrap as many new pages as possible for a current book call. So far I have two. Not a very impressive response to the challenge. Gonna work on that tonight.

Charlie developed a vocal tic while I was in Canada. And I have many different emotions about it but mostly, I am really struggling to keep my patience because truthfully, it's annoying. It doesn't change anything about his diagnosis (transient tic disorder) or move us any closer to a different diagnosis (he would have to have this one for a year) and his original neurosurgeon warned us this would probably happen. It's frustrating not to understand something or be able to do anything about it. Happily, he doesn't seem to even notice he's doing it so life continues as normal.

And on the normal front, after surveying the items I purchased for the fall party treat bag, he thinks I am a failure as the homeroom mom. He is convinced his friends will not see the coolness factor of a bag of teddy grahams and Charlie Brown fruit snacks. Kids.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weekend adventures

We had so much fun this weekend! We traveled to Raystown Lake which is a 27 mile lake created by the Army Corps of Engineers not too far from Penn State. It's an incredible resource and the area is stunningly beautiful. We hiked through the mountains, did scenic drives and tried to find the bald eagles. We had some funny moments as well that will be fodder for future scrapbook pages. Justin was offering some suggestions on the drive home. That might be a first.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This will be a scrapbook page

but I need to write it down before I forget about it.

I have night terrors. Not all that often and it's not a big deal. Except maybe for Justin who has to deal with my screams of terror and push me back into a sleeping position. But that's not the point of this story. I didn't think the kids knew about this, I'm still not sure that they do because it really isn't a huge thing in our daily lives.

Last night I went to bed early. Earlier than the kids in fact. I was laying in bed just drifting off when I heard the door open and some little feet pad their way over to me. In a tiny voice, I heard Gracie say, "here mommy, take this." "What is it honey?" "It's a telescope mommy. It will keep the bad dreams away." And she handed me her plastic Pirates of the Caribbean telescope complete with skull and crossbones.

Tis not the end of the story. She closed the door and went out. But was back in about 30 seconds. "Here mommy. You need this piggy too." And so, the stuffed pink piggy helped to keep the bad dreams away last night.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I love this picture!

Scrapbooking is a very good thing.

Today did not turn out as anticipated. I got to the doctor to discover that my appointment was really scheduled for the afternoon. Not really enough time to justify going home, plus Grace wanted none of that. So, we took off up the mountain and this time I took her to my secret, sacred place. She was not as impressed with the bog as I had hoped but she did seem kind of interested in the pitcher plants. And she did seem to understand there was something special about my hidden treasure. We were walking back out of the woods and came to a spot on the path where the sunlight shown through the trees in a beautiful circle and she said "now we're back to our regular world." I think that's 4 year old for "we've left the sacred place."

Then, the doctor did end up having to biopsy another area but he doesn't seem overly concerned. Just a precaution this time. No anxiety at all.

And I had promised Charlie we would go for a walk after school so we headed off to a different park and picked a trail. I really had no idea how many parks and trails our little town holds. It's really a delightful surprise. The leaves aren't changing this year though. I don't know if it's because it's too warm or just a cyclical thing but they are staying green and hanging in there. But then suddenly, overnight almost, one tree will turn brown and the leaves all fall off. So, no stunning fall pictures from today's walk. And that's okay.

I'll catch up with life later this week. As long as I have clean underwear to wear to work tomorrow.

Pictures to follow

as soon as I unpack my camera and have time to upload. We had some fun in Canada! It was delightful to meet my on-line friends in real life and make a couple of new friends too. It was almost like picking up a conversation in mid-stride. While eating only one cookie.

In other news, it appears my husband discovered my blog while I was away. Hi honey! It's a bit creepy that. Why is it okay if virtual strangers read this but now it feels like someone was peaking at my diary? Eh, he hasn't confessed yet.

And eh. I've been saying that a lot in the last two days. And I think I started picking up the Canadian accent. They speak in a very lyrical tone.

So shortly I am off for my skin cancer check up. And I am calm about it. Okay, a teensy bit anxious. But mostly calm. It will be only good news this time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Okay, so one more post before I go

because I'm much further ahead than expected. Did some serious multi-tasking yesterday and got all but one thing scratched off my list. Everything except for the car headlights/electrical issue that I WILL get to first thing today. Or second. Which I can do because Grace's pumpkin patch field trip was postponed due to the threat of inclement weather. That's some good timing.

The craziness factor is about to get bumped up a notch around here. (Or way down as soon as soccer is over. Three more weeks. Three more weeks.) Justin assumes his new role within his company in three and a half weeks. That is exactly two months earlier than expected. After six months of "transition" time, he is still waiting for some kind of transition plan. And while this is generally a good thing, he has also been informed that because he is so successful in his current position, they have decided he will keep that one too. I'm trying to figure out where the 9 other hours a day are supposed to come from. So yeah, a little bit of anxiety as he pretty much stopped sleeping when he got the memo on Tuesday.

And on that note, I really am signing off until next week. Time to get the kids out the door.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Fall is coming, fall is coming!

I am sitting in front of a window in my office watching a torrential downpour. It hasn't rained for weeks and this storm heralds a cold front finally moving through that will take the blasted 90 degree temperatures away. I told the kids that today would probably be the last day of summer clothes this year - usually I lament how soon after school starts that we have to put the shorts away but this year, I am finally ready for sweaters and jeans.

I am going to Canada on Friday and I'm panicking a bit about the getting ready part. I have car issues that need to be dealt with - an oil change, some electrical issues from the recent repair and a deep clean before I can let anyone else ride in it. And then there are the personal issues - haircut, new shoes, etc. so that I can appear to be respectable instead of overgrown and threadbare. And of all weeks, this week Grace is the "Top Banana" at her school which means special snack, special show and tell, guest reader, etc. which results in most of my free time being spent at the school. Oh, and we are going on her pumpkin patch field trip on Thursday. I'm sure we'll squeeze it all in, I just wish I didn't have that frantic "what's next?" feeling going on. (Well, I don't have that feeling while I'm work right now waiting for a client but then again, I'm not shoe shopping either.)

So this will likely be the last blog update until next week when I hope to return with many funny stories and many beautiful photos of the vineyards along Lake Erie.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Rites of passage

Today Charlie will be inducted into the Steeler nation. He is going to his first game this afternoon and woke up this morning saying he was "heaps" excited. He has an official jersey but it is a Hines Ward jersey and his favorite player is Big Ben. He set out this t-shirt last night and put it on within 3 seconds of waking up. It's got Ben's name on the back. Notice that the sleeping cats in the background of the picture do not share Charlie's excitement.

The thermometer on my car should not read 101 degrees in the month of October. What a relief when it cooled down and showed that the temperature outside was only 90. The forecast says we have 2 or 3 more days of this but strangely, this morning it is very cool and overcast outside. Perfect football weather!

I've put some thought into what Gracie and I will do while the boys are off on their adventure and I've decided I'm going to introduce her to scrapbooking. Charlie was doing it by this age so I feel bad I haven't thought of it before. It should be an interesting exercise - she has a very defined sense of style and color. And I think we'll bake some banana bread if the cool, overcast hangs around. When I told her we were going to have a special mommy and Gracie day, she asked if we could watch tv. I think maybe we may have cut back on the tv time a little bit too much!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

And that is how it is done...

Gracie has decided on her own to not continue with karate right now... she wants to go back to gymnastics. And that decision will free up two evenings. Yay!

And we have decided to take the kids for a weekend away in a couple weeks. We're going to do a leaf sightseeing cruise and rent a cabin in the mountains. And even better, Justin is going to take a few days off work to catch up on his winemaking and well, just not be at work. And the dog didn't pee on the door last night. Small victories!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The important thing to remember

when you have strep throat is to take your antibiotics. I'm not always so good at the remembering.

Tonight is Charlie's first ever open house. We are excited and nervous to actually meet with his teacher in person. He is excited to give us a tour of the school.

The school district adopted a new wellness policy that prohibits any sugary treats in the classroom, even for parties. Alas, no cupcakes. I was mad about it for awhile and the other homeroom mothers are forging a rebellion. But I've thought about it and come up with some satisfactory alternatives... banana bread, pumpkin and carrot muffins, cheese the kids can cut with mini cookie cutters. It doesn't sound quite as much fun as decorating cookies but far better than the vegetable tray the school board suggested.

I remember thinking things would settle down when school started and as far as my job goes, that is certainly true. But in complete honesty, our after-school schedule is out of control and needs some serious adjustment. My husband is at the end of his rope. We have some activity every single day of the week, including Sunday, and sometimes two or three activities a day. I don't know what we can change but we've got to come up with something.

To make matters worse (for my husband at least) our dog is being a real jerk. Last night he woke up in the middle of the night and just started going to the bathroom on the door. He didn't whine to go out, he didn't try to wake us up, he just went. Justin already dislikes the dog with deep intensity - he generally thinks animals are filthy creatures - but puts up with him (kind of) for the rest of us. But this episode really really made him mad and combine that with his general state of exhaustion from running to and fro every evening, ack, he needs a vacation. The fact that I am the one who is soon getting a weekend away is only going to compound the problem.

In the meantime, I am trying to make the house be as calm as possible, run as smoothly as possible... ha! Five minues after every one comes in, chaos reigns again. Such is life at this stage in our lives.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Do you need some more wishes?

I wish I was a crocodile.

I wish I was a octopus.

I wish I was a shark.

Mommy, I wish you was a octopus and I could be your honey octopus.

I wish I was a crocodile.

I wish I had three arms.

First soccer game done. Team Spain did awesome today! Poor Charlie looks like the walking wounded. He got stung on the eye at the bus stop yesterday - we thought it was a sweat bee because he seemed okay. But he woke up today and it was completely swollen shut. And then at the game, the boys were goofing around and somebody head-butted him against someone else. Big tears. But he played awesome - he had a lot more confidence this week, he didn't let the fact that he is the smallest kid out there hold him back. I actually cried because I was so proud of him!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fall is creeping onto the mountain

I had a bazillionty things I "needed" to do today. That is the technical term of course. And I looked at the lists and the piles and the laundry and the calendar and I ran to the mountains instead. If I can't have the sea, the mountains are a close second for calming my soul, bringing peace and order to the chaos that sometimes threatens to consume my every thought.

And that's not to suggest I'm in a bad place right now; quite the contrary, as I look back on where I was last year at this time, things are great. Part of that is the learning to let go... to leave the lists and the piles and get away. And the biggest part is ceding control of the universe - accepting responsibility for only those things which are my problem and learning to live with the imperfections that are part of being human.

Next year I need to remember not to schedule anything for October - there are precious few days in this most favorite of all months and as I look at our calendar, it is far too full. Next year, I am blocking off every single day.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

One of those stay-at-home mom things

that I always used to daydream about... I get to be Charlie's homeroom mom! Is it silly that I'm so excited about that? I was always crushed when my own mom wasn't selected to be the homeroom mom year after year. But now, it's official. I get to be the cupcake baking, field trip chaperoning, arts and crafts crazed mom. Sweet!

Not so sweet... I got strep throat from Gracie. Yesterday was a bear of a day. But I've got some antibiotics flowing through my veins and feel a little bit better already. Blessings once more to Alexander Fleming who discovered the magic of penicillin.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

So THAT'S why she was crying

Strep throat and a viral infection. Together a potent combination. Poor kid.

The doctor confirmed my suspicions. He said it has been the busiest fall they've had since opening their practice umpteen years ago (remember, he was my pediatrician too!) He said actually, the summer was crazy too. They don't know what's going on but there is lots of stuff going around right now.

I had a very, um, interesting conversation with Charlie's teacher today. She does not seem to believe in kids being challenged beyond the curriculum. I do not think we are kindred spirits. But Charlie likes her (and she seems to like him) so that's what counts. Instead, we went to the library and he took out some books on reptiles and space. Totally cool boy stuff.

And if you haven't been watching it, I highly recommend the new Ken Burns PBS documentary "The War". My grandfathers did not fight in the war. My dad's father couldn't pass the physical - his eyes are terrible. And my mom's dad was too young - he joined up right at the end but never saw any action. But it is fascinating to watch the accounts from their contemporaries and see it from both sides - the men who fought and the people who stayed at home. There is not a lot of "new" information in it but it has that Ken Burns quality that makes it interesting anyway.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Is this Groundhog Day?

Sometimes it feels like we're living in that movie - doing the same things over and over again. Gracie had a headache this morning but I gave her some Advil and she seemed okay. She went to school and then on to play with her friend while I scrapped with mine but as soon as I loaded her in the car to come home, she started to cry and didn't stop. She can't tell me what hurts and she doesn't know what is wrong but plainly, she doesn't feel well again. She did take a minute to add a new wish - she wished that she was always a baby so she can stay with me all the time. I like that one!

I got Charlie all excited about school today - I convinced him he was finally going to learn something today and he was ready! But when I picked him up, he had that now familiar glum look on his face. What did you learn today buddy? Nothing. Come on, you had to learn something! What did you do in math? We colored more shapes. Ugh. Luckily, I planned ahead and bought a new educational software program so when we got home, I set him up on the computer and he got to play with some very basic equations. And now he's reading a new book. Guess it's time for a conference with the teacher. No Child Left Behind will not destroy the love of learning in my child.

And now, that elusive, quiet, peaceful feeling has descended on our home. Gracie napping, Charlie reading, dinner in the oven. I could live this part of the day over and over again with no complaint.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

There has been a lot of wishing around here lately

I wish I was married.

I wish I was 5 because then I would be almost 6.

I wish I was a table.

I wish I had three hands.

I wish I was as big of Charlie.

I wish I was a real princess.

I wish I was growed up.

I wish I had two dogs.

I wish I was a bumblebee.
I wish I never growed up.

As for me little girl? I wish you would stay like this for as long as possible.

Friday, September 21, 2007

We are having quite a day

or rather, Grace is having quite a day. She is in the midst of temper tantrum number 3. I suspect she needs a nap but that's not in the cards today. In the last 5 minutes she has told me she doesn't want to live in this house, she wants to be a ducky, she wants Ali's mommy, she wants to be like Charlie, she wants to live in Spiderman's World, she wants to be a boy, she doesn't want me to be her mommy and she doesn't want to be my honey pie. And I a mean mommy. A very mean mommy.

Charlie never had a temper tantrum like this so it's quite novel and very amusing. I am surprised she hasn't packed a bag to run away yet.

In other news, my mom got the job!

In still other news, everyone around here is sick. It's kind of crazy, I don't remember anything like this before. Teachers, daycare people, my parents, my secretary, the kids, my husband, neighbors, etc. Everyone is sick right now. It seems a strange time of year for so much bad stuff to be floating around. Knock on wood, I hope we are almost done with it at my house.

Crazy weekend coming with soccer and football games and birthday parties. Gracie may not get a nap tomorrow either!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A conversation that took place in my car yesterday

alternative title "I am writing it on my heart."

Gracie: (raising Princess Ballerina Bride Astronaut Barbie up into the air by her toes) "To insinity and beyond!!!"

Charlie: Gracie, do you know what infinity and beyond means?

Mommy: (Listening curiously in the front seat)

Gracie: "It's a sousand."

Charlie: "No Gracie. It means it's beyond what we know. Infinity is more than we can understand."

Gracie: "A sousand is a wot Chawie."

Charlie: "No Gracie. We can never get to infinity. So we don't know what comes after infinity."

Gracie: "It's a sousand Chawie. A sousand is a wot."

Charlie: "Well yes, a thousand is a lot. But it's not infinity."

Gracie: "Weave me awone. " Princess Ballerina Bride Astronaut Barbie continues her toe-tingling dive and levels out as once more, Gracie squeals "to insinity and beyond!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nights like this

Justin is sick, his own version of a cold that no one else has shared yet. He went to bed early and I stayed up later, reading, and just enjoying the quiet. Quiet until the couch shaking snores started coming out of the bedroom and I realized that I was probably better off trying to sleep on the couch. And then it was just one of those nights; up and down every hour or so; every little noise or prowl by the cat or uncomfortable turn on the couch jarring me awake. By 5:00 the dog started to whine and I gave up and took him outside.

And there I saw the most beautiful night sky I have ever beheld. The stars seemed so close and bright and huge that I could just reach out and scoop them up. There was not a light from anywhere to mar the perfection and I just stood and wondered at the vastness and beauty of it all.

Yesterday I spent the day with an older colleague and at some point the discussion turned to my career and the kids and the constant struggle to balance it all and find some meaning in life. I relayed that I was hoping to return to work full-time next year, that I want to contribute something meaningful to this world but that I am concerned about the logistics of it all. And he advised me to just sit back awhile more and enjoy these precious days as long as we can manage. I don't do that enough. Even while I am supposed to be here enjoying them. I waste time, I worry, I get distracted, I think about tomorrow more than right now, this moment.

So I've been doing a lot of changing lately. Trying and succeeding at being more organized. Trying and succeeding at a regular exercise schedule, healthier eating, paying more attention to where our money goes. Today I'm putting something else at the top of the list. Enjoying this more. Worrying less. Being satisfied with who I am and not who I could have been or who I will be. Writing every moment on my heart so that 20 years from now, I don't regret what I can't remember. I am grateful for nights like this.

Monday, September 17, 2007

One thing is certain

And that is that I am still slow. Because the mornings are dark now, I had to change my run to the highschool track - less picturesque but also less scary than the woods in the dark. So now I can tell EXACTLY how far I'm running in the timed intervals. So I'm a half mile short of where Cool Running says I should be. Nice. I will be the first person in history to run a 10 hour 5k.

Gracie (and her Grammy) bought me purple flowers today. It doesn't get any better than that.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

That's more like it!

It's 60 degrees and smells like fall. Yum. There is chili in the crockpot, pumpkin bars in the oven and lasagna just waiting to get baked. Yum.

I had to do a "vacation" layout for my Big Picture homework so I did this super quick one of swimming with the sharks last month. We didn't get too many good underwater pictures but there were a few keepers.

Little man woke up with another stomach virus last night. That poor kid has had a rough week. Two stomach viruses and his sister's cold. He is feeling better but had to miss soccer (Grace is going to miss it too, her asthma is still acting up) so we are snuggled up at home today. That's just the kind of day we all needed.

Friday, September 14, 2007

This will do

I'm still in a bit of a grumpy mood (darn insurance companies and stomach viruses!) so I "borrowed" this from another blog. I used BOLD on everything I've done. Copy it and link me to your answers!

1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
2. Swam with dolphins - no, but do sharks count?
3. Climbed a mountain
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
8. Said “I love you” and meant it.

9. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped

11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg1
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diapers
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states -I'm getting there!
41. Taken care of someone who was heavily inebriated - too many
42. Had an amazing friend (and lost her)
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan5
5. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke - it was bad too!
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud

64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie -
74. Crashed a party
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an expert
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Eaten fugu (pufferfish)
89. Had a one-night stand
90. Gone to Thailand
91. Bought a house twice
92. Been in a combat zone
93. Buried one/both of your parents
94. Been on a cruise ship Honeymoon
95. Spoken more than one language fluently
96. Performed in Rocky Horror Picture Show
97. Raised children
98. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery - maybe some day
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray -
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Ridden a bike
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse - and it scares the hell out of me every time
119. Had surgery

120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey
135. Selected one important author who you missed in school, and read I
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Yesterday he was faking

Today, not so much. I hoped this might teach him a valuable lesson about the boy who cried wolf but instead it just convinced him that he really did have a stomach virus yesterday morning even though he didn't get sick until this morning. Sigh.

And it's a disastrous day for him to be sick. The kids had an important appointment this afternoon that will be difficult to reschedule. He has karate tonight and can't afford to miss any more classes if he wants to test on time next month. And poor Gracie will have to miss another day of school because I can't risk taking Charlie in the car for the long drive to and from her school. Twice. Sigh again. Oh yeah, and I have to explain to his teacher that yes, yesterday he was faking (I ended up taking him in before lunch) but today he really is sick. Really.

Well that's enough whining, don't you think? In much happier news, my mom has a second interview today. Her company relocated to Tupelo, Mississippi (management) and China (factory) in March. She declined to re-locate with them and has been job searching ever since. She has heard this phrase over and over "you are fantastic but we are going to hire someone who more closely fits our profile." This is code for "someone who is not 50+ years old and makes as much money as you did." But the company she is going back to today seems very interested. They contacted her references. They gave her two, very complicated homework assignments. She is very nervous. But it would be perfect - it's close to home (unlike everything else and even her former position) and it's a family-owned company which would be a breath of fresh air after the evil, baby killing, environment polluting, multi-national corporation she worked for until now.

Is my glum mood showing? I listened to much of the Petraeus hearing yesterday and it was very depressing. Justin and I stayed up venting about the state of things for quite some time so between the sad state of our country, a very short night of sleep and Charlie's illness, I think I am glum. That's a sign I should sign off until a better mood appears ;)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I do believe I was snookered

by my darling child. His sister stayed home from school yesterday with a cold and asthma complications. A stomach virus is going around his school. See the connection? This morning he had a horrible stomach ache and headache. Blah blah blah, he felt terrible. I checked his temperature, he was maybe a teensy bit warm. And then he told me he had (brace yourself)


There is a very funny talk show here in Pittsburgh and one of the hosts says this is the best excuse ever. No one ever questions you about it. No one need see proof. You just say you have it and people nod knowingly and back away from you slowly.

So I gave him the benefit of the doubt (okay, all the while muttering at him that he'd better not be faking or else...) and I let him stay home from school and come with me to work. Funny how he seems to be fine now. His horrible stomach cramps aren't interfering with his enjoyment of the morning at all. Snookered. He is so going to regret this.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Taking some classes

At Big Picture Scrapbooking. I can't figure out how to save my digital layouts small enough to post anywhere, I keep getting an error. So here is a paper one I did of my niece. She's cute.

This is supposed to be a crazy weekend. Justin rented a houseboat with 10 guys from work and they are off gallivanting until Monday. On the homefront, we're juggling karate (for both kids), soccer (for both kids), Sunday School rally day, I'm in the nursery at church tomorrow and then we're going to Justin's company picnic (without him) at a local amusement park. I'll admit, I was dreading this weekend. But it's been nice so far, much more relaxed than I thought. Baked some cookies, tried a new recipe for dinner. Scrapped. Read. Played with the kids. I'm telling you, fall is here.

Friday, September 7, 2007

All golden

I drive on a beautiful meandering country road on the way to and from Grace's pre-school. The kind of road with old barns and horse pastures, lined with fruit trees and goldenrod. Today when we were coming home, it suddenly became fall. It didn't matter that it's 90 degrees outside today or that the calendar says a few more weeks of summer. The trees had a golden hue and the apple leaves were dancing off the trees in the wind. How do you describe that subtle change in color - from the vibrant green of spring to the deep green of summer to the green with a hint of gold that covers the fields?

I got myself out of bed early enough this morning to get my run in before Justin left. (Ha, the 3 minutes is a breeze! Wasn't even winded. Five minutes is next. Errr...) Which meant that I finally got to go to the library to look at art books. Only... Grace goes to school in the city where I went to high school. In my memory, the library is a huge monolith of a building, filled to the brim with books of every imaginable topic. But I haven't been to this library since I was 12. And it was a disaster. If they have a book about art or craft that was published after 1950, I didn't see it. They did not have a single book about graphic design. How can this be? Our local library, for a much smaller population, is fantastic! What happened? So, I hied myself over to Barnes and Noble and played there for the morning. I wish that I had all day, every day, just to play and create and make beautiful things. Instead, I steal moments to admire the work of the men and women that do.

And now, I will steal some moments to go read the next book in the Outlander series. Send help.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Ch ch ch changes

I guess that's kind of a redundancy in life, eh? Nothing ever stays the same.

I forgot to blog last week that I told my dad I will be looking for a new job next year. I didn't plan ahead to tell him but we were just discussing some finance stuff and it seemed like the appropriate time. He took it very well (he is my dad after all); he has been wistful ever since, reminding me several times that I am good at it, but overall, I think he understands.

Days like today, he has to be understanding. I crashed my car when I was taking Grace to daycare. There are some really good things about growing up in a small town. The first person on the scene was a dear friend from highschool who used to be a paramedic (almost went to medical school to be a trauma surgeon but decided he didn't like surgery that much) who now works at the car dealership in front of which I crashed. Next was one of the local police officers with whom I deal quite frequently at work. It makes a big difference to have some friendly faces around at a time like that. They called the ambulance to have Grace checked out (she's fine) and then sent me down to my office to make the necessary phone calls while the officer finished all of his reports. The man I hit did not have a driver's license so I imagine he is really unhappy right now (he was fine too by the way). Then the officer came to work to drop everything off and check on Grace again. Sometimes small towns are nice. On the other hand, within 15 minutes, everyone everywhere knew I had crashed so I guess that's the pay-off. You can't ever hide in a small town either. And of course, I got no work done today at all. My dad was already having a horrible day so I guess that was just the icing on the cake.

So if the preliminary estimate on the damage is correct, I will be shopping for a new car next week. We usually agonize over these decisions for a long time - in fact, I've shopped for a new car twice over the last couple years and just put it off because I hate making these decisions. I guess I need to hurry up and make up my mind. No wonder my stomach hurts.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Technically poor photo share and other ramblings

I've gotten in the habit of keeping my best photos (and layouts) off-line. I guess since I remain now and forever NOT a published scrap success, there is not much need for that but it's a habit nonetheless. So these are the remnant photos of our week. The zoo. The first day of school. The next first day of school. Justin's dad coming to visit. A busy week. A nice week.

I had a rambling, I swear. That's why I titled this post that way. What was it? Oh yeah. Confessions of my literary shame. The Outlander series. Yoy. I got hooked - perused a Two Peas book list for ideas for beach reads. Outlander was recommended by many people. So I went to the store and was shocked when I located it in the romance section. Romance? But as another fan says, it's like reading crack. I finished the third book in the series this weekend. I was not the hostess with the mostess. Justin's poor dad had to fend for himself and retrieve his own beer while I reclined on the couch, in the yard, anywhere I could sneak two seconds to read more. Crack. It gets a bit old too - how many things can possibly happen to this couple in the space of 24 hours - but still I must go back for more. More. Crack.

I put the book down during the picnic we hosted yesterday. Just barely. I might be turning into my father who didn't put his book down (he never does) but hopefully I will stave on that inevitability for a few more years.