In this month's issue of Publix's Greenwise magazine was an unintentionally hilarious article on reducing stress and saving time. One of their insights was to "rethink multi-tasking". I giggled when I read it. Really. Without multitasking how the heck would you ever get anything done?! I'm not talking about bad multitasking like driving and reading your mail. I'm talking about the 100,000 things I do - simultaneously - on a daily basis.
I can only assume the article was written by a man because most men, and by "men" I mean "my husband", are pretty bad at multitasking. Mr. J can't coordinate going to lunch and getting a haircut at the same time, never mind the totally efficient multitasking that I, and most women/moms I know, engage in on a daily basis. He also tends to get very aggravated when he sees me multitasking - he says it makes him feel like he's in the middle of a tornado. I say he's just jealous that I can get so much done in the same time it takes him to do just one thing. After which he'll claim exhaustion and need to go sit on the porch for 2 hours.
Even as I write this, I'm doing laundry, making a batch of cookies, finishing a round of emergency vacuuming since Anders decided it would be a good idea to pull the cover off the a/c return vent (with an air filter that hasn't been changed in a year - yeccch), and getting lunch/snacks ready for Dagny's afternoon playdate. Top that!
Now Greenwise did have a decent point - you must try to coordinate your multitasking so that you are doing tasks with similar concentration points at the same time, e.g., folding laundry and watching DVR'd episodes of "Good Eats". As opposed to trying to do your taxes and clean out a closet at the same time. It's probably not a good idea to try to multitask any financial-type activity. No one is getting hurt if your cookies don't turn out right, but you don't want to mess with your money, right?
At that's the thing about women/moms - we've got a LOCK on this multitasking business. I may look like chaos as I whirl through the house cleaning, straightening, piling, moving, cooking, squirting (Slatkin's Winter scent - awesome!) and fluffing, but I know exactly what I'm doing. And I'm getting it all done TODAY.
I am a little concerned that Mr. J has not begun inquiring what I'd like for Christmas. Usually he has asked for a few recommendations by now. So either he's come up with something on his own, forgot entirely or is waiting until 10:59 p.m. on December 24 to figure it out (hello Walgreens!)
So just in case he asks YOU, here are some goodies I wouldn't mind finding in my stocking: Slatkin's candle in Winter from Bath & Body Works. It even gets rid of wet dog smell.
"Artisan Breads Every Day" - to help fuel my 2010 homemade-only bread policy.
"Blackberry Farm Cookbook" - I've never been, but both the farm and the recipes make me drool.
"Bon Apetit, Y'all" - 'Cause Southern cooking is one of our favorites around here!
Pastry scraper - essential for making bread, scones, biscuits, etc.Pastry blender - so I don't have to haul out the Cuisinart every time I want to make pastry Ugg short boots in Chocolate (couldn't find an exact picture)
And finally, if we win the lottery this weekend, I'll be asking for sterling silver flatware, specifically Reed & Barton's Burgundy.
But mostly I would like a healthy and happy year for my whole family. And maybe some willpower to stick to my diet/exercise plan in 2010!
All that fuss about my candy? Turns out it's my wretched old candy thermometer -- totally out of calibration by about 10 degrees! Well no WONDER nothing was setting up!
I'll be looking for one of these in my stocking:
But for now, my candy-making days are DONE. I have one more wretched, gooey pan of peppermint marshmallows (really, peppermint marshmallow fluff) to clean and then I'm sticking with some ez bar cookies. Maybe some biscotti if I find the time.
As stated in an earlier post, I was planning on making candy for my Christmas goody boxes this year. Because candy stores better without going stale. Because candy ships better. Because candy can be made in large batches. But I forgot one important thing - candy is very weather-dependent. Humidity and heat do terrible, terrible things to candy.
And of course this has been the most humid miserable rainy December ever. It's rained so much they even lifted our watering restrictions! It's rained so much our lawn/weeds are as green as they are in July! It's rained so much I've ruined 1 batch of caramels (wouldn't set) and 2 batches of peppermint bark (chocolate wouldn't temper, candies clumped into a giant Starlight Mint ball).
I did manage to get one batch of marshmallows done last weekend, but the humidity came right back up again.
I've been pretty good about my diet this past month, in preparation for all the Christmas goodies I'll be eating next week. But today. Oh today. The weather is cool (and getting colder), gray and windy. I'm in a nesting mood. I've got the munchies. I want to watch a football game. I want:
- Crispy potato skins loaded with pimento cheese and bacon
- Hot wings w/ blue cheese and celery
- Spicy hot jalapeno poppers
- Creamy 4-cheese mac n' cheese
- Crab cake w/ remoulade
- A cold Sam Adams
- A dish of peppermint ice cream
Maybe not in that order.
What I'll have: a tuna melt, green salad and a gingerbread cookie. Sigh.
Haven't seen the sun in about a week now. So humid that our porch has standing water on it (DISGUSTING). Had to turn on the a/c yesterday so we could dry out a bit. Everything feels moist.
Help! Send sun!
Did you know we have a solar water heater? It makes this quiet humming noise as the water cycles through the heater thingamajig. I haven't heard it in Idontknowhowlong so I assume we're on the electrical back-up heater. The downside of going green -- only works when Nature cooperates. Well, I guess we could take cold showers (NOT!)
Going to crank up the oven, make some toasty granola, some pumpkin spice muffins and a yummy hashbrown casserole for dinner.
Anders is sick AGAIN. Is it him? Is it us? Is it school? We're considering moving him to the Tues-Thurs schedule after the holidays. Three days a week may be too much and he's having some behavior problems that concern us. I need to spend more time with him.... or wait? Maybe I spend too much? Anyway, he gets sick every month and he is hitting and he is yelling (at home not at school) and we are thinking it's because of school. He is on the young side -- late July bday -- he is a boy and parents are the best pre-school there is. And if you want to be brutally honest about it, the best thing about pre-school is the time it gives ME. I mean, sure, there are some educational aspects to it and certainly if you are a working parent then it's probably essential, but I guarantee there is absolutely nothing that is taught in pre-school that I don't know. (This is probably true up until 9th grade where I will hit the Geometry Wall of Pain. I had no problem with Algebra or Calculus, but I just don't "get" Geometry.)
But above everything, we have to think about what is best for this individual kid. And maybe I have to be unselfish enough to think that pre-school, even part time, isn't the best option for him.
Can your husband put up the Christmas lights without a single cuss word? Mine can't.
Somehow, during their 11 months in storage, we had three whole strands of tree lights completely burnout. After Mr. J tried for almost 2 hours to find the bad bulb, complete with language that made me hide the Baby Jesus from the nativity scene, I finally sent him out to the Home Depot with instructions to buy five brand new sets. Three for this year and two for back-up. And yes, I agree it's frustrating and silly, but nothing is built to last these days anyway. So just go buy those new ones and THROW OUT the old ones and move on already!
And we haven't even started hanging the wreaths yet.
Have you started thinking about your New Year's resolutions yet (if you make them at all)?
One of the ones I've been toying with is only eating homemade bread at home next year. Except for maybe the random burger or hot dog bun and even those are relatively easy to make, for the few times a year we'd need them. There's some logistical issues like should I make it every day or make a bunch of loaves at one time and then freeze them? Should I do no-knead breads, which are "easier" in terms of prep than traditional loaves, but require much more planning. How do I work in familial preferences since Dags only eats sourdough and Anders only eats whole wheat or honey wheat?
On the plus side, we really don't eat that much bread mainly because we're not big sandwich eaters (esp. Dags & I) so we're not talking about huge quantities of bread. Maybe 2 homemade size loaves a week will be fine. We do eat a lot of rolls and bagels, but those are easier to make in large quantity -- at least I think so. Plus they freeze nicely.
Lots to consider, but since I've gone homemade with ice creams, candies, yogurt, sour cream and almost all other baked goods why not bread?
Someone talk me out of it before I decide it's a good idea.
I started wearing J. Crew waaay back in college, back when they were super preppy and reasonably affordable. Cute stuff, built to last, I have two t-shirts that date back to 1986. (They are only worn around the house because they are not fit for public viewing. But they are soft & comfeeeee and I love them.)
But over the years J. Crew has changed, I have changed and let's face it ... we just don't have much of a relationship anymore. (Except for their favorite fit cropped chinos which I can't live without. And their favorite fit corduroys. Love.)
And here's why:
I mean really? She looks drunk. Or homeless. Or like she's had her spine removed. Her hair needs brushing. And that's how 98% of the models in their catalog look these days. It really doesn't entice me to shop there. If I wanted to see someone wearing 14 layers of clothing, slouching over with a semi-conscious expression all I have to do is walk about 8 blocks south of my house to the nearest public park. I would not pay well over $150 per item to look like this.
And don't even get me started on the absurdity that is CrewCuts.*
Now, they still have some reasonably cute and reasonably priced clothes like their tees, cable sweaters, chinos but guess what? Those things never go out of style. Back to basics J. Crew. A girl really can't have too many pairs of cropped chinos.
*Full disclosure, Anders does own several well-made polos and critter shorts from CrewCuts but I got them all on mega-sale and they will last him through at least the next 2 years of school. Under no circumstances will I cough up $45 for a regularly priced shirt for a child.
Does your three-year-old walk around telling you to "use the Force"? Can he school you on the slight differences between "Star Wars - A New Hope" (or as he calls it "Star Wars Regular") and "Star Wars Original"? Does he know that Harrison Ford was Indiana Jones AND Han Solo? Is he counting the days until Netflix delivers "Umpire Strikes Back"?
Either I have a movie prodigy on my hands or he watches too many movies. I should probably be happy since Dagny's favorite movie at this age was The Care Bears in Care-a-lot.
I'm being very ambitious with my list of Christmas goodies this year. For the last few years cookies just haven't been working for me. They go stale way too easy. They don't ship well. You can't make them weeks in advance. So this year I'm making candy!
On the list:
Homemade marshmallows (choc. dipped, plain and peppermint) - my sis convinced me to try these earlier this year and even though I was skeptical and thought it was too humid in Florida to make them, they actually turned out brilliant and the taste? To die for. So much better than store bought.
Today is cleaning day. Get-back-to-normal day. Resume the routine day. Detox.
Mysteriously, the arrival of family coincided with my being able to drink wine again for the first time in 7 years. I've killed a bottle of Riesling and 1/2 a bottle of Beaujolais Noveau since Wednesday night. Also a half-pint of Silk Egg Nog and a pitcher of whiskey sours. Coincidence? I say there are no coincidences.
Instead, I am entering Ellie's giveaway over on Vintage Victuals. She writes rockin' recipes for home-cooks and gourmets alike. In fact, her freezer lemon pie is now in my permanent dessert rotation after being met with widespread family acclaim here. Which doesn't happen often, so you know it's a good recipe. Go check her out here!
The other night at dinner Dagny asked me if she was lucky. I quickly replied "Of course!" Then I realized that I had an important moment to explain to her just how lucky she really was and as I proceeded to do so I realized how much she (and we as a family) have to be thankful for.
First, that all of the kids grandparents are healthy, vibrant and important presences in the kids lives. They are the source of so much fun, wisdom and stability in our lives. I love to see them with the kids and I love to hear the kids talk about them. I was very close with my grandparents and I am overjoyed that my kids have the same opportunity.
Second, that in these scary and worrisome times that Matt's job has been relatively stable. We do not have to worry about food, housing or the electricity. What a blessing!
Third, that I am able to be home with the kids. Even on days when they drive me insane, or they watch to much TV, or everyone declares that they aren't eating dinner. I am happy to be here each and every day for them.
Fourth, that we are all healthy. I have a friend with a chronically ill child. I pray for her and her family almost every day and thank God that my children are healthy. I will take nothing for granted!
Fifth, I am thankful that sometimes the biggest decision I make all day is what to make for dinner. Not that I'm incapable of big or hard decisions (au contraire!), but I am grateful to the bottom of my soul that my life is pretty darn worry free.
And I have to throw in here that we should all be thankful that we are lucky enough to be American where, regardless of your stance on current events or the state of our Union, even those with the least among us are better off than 90% of the world.
Funny how when you are a mom you suddenly feel obliged to be the one to eat the burnt toast, overripe banana, the "funny tasted" orange popsicle that no one else wants, bread heels, pizza bones and the last of the slightly stale Cheerios.
Have you read the Twilight Series yet? I'm, as usual, waaaaaay late to the party. I scoffed them off at first as teenage angst books, but now that I've read them, I have completely reversed my point of view. The stories have got everything: great plot, romance, long-anticipated love scenes, cool battles, love triangles, hot boys. Of course, I fit the target demographic (except maybe for age) to a Tee:
- True believer in both First Love and True Love (not necessarily the same thing as anyone who knew my h.s. boyfriend will attest) - Someone who can easily get caught up in a romantic moment - Has chased after a boy -- or wanted to - Sucker for intelligent boys with thick unruly hair
But the true genius of the story is that Stephenie Meyer has created a perfect modern romantic heroine in Bella. Sure, you can draw all the comparisons you want between her and the classic romantic heroines like Juliet Capulet, Elizabeth Barrett, or Catherine Earnshaw (as Meyer does frequently), but her true appeal is that she is so insufferably whiny and selfish, so easily dismissed from the narrative, that readers will almost automatically project themselves into her place which means, in effect, that I was the one on that honeymoon with the gorgeous teenage vampire boy. And I had a good time! And I wouldn't complain about the lingerie and wish I had old sweatpants instead! In fact, I'd bet there isn't a reader over 30 who doesn't think she would be a much better wife for Edward.
I am cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner this year! For many years after we got married Mr. J and I would go to his brother's house in GA for Thanksgiving. A wonderful tradition sadly ended by his reposting to Kansas. This year my in-laws are coming down, so I'm prepping the big feast.
On the menu so far:
Turkey Stuffing (my MIL's recipe) Buttermilk mashed potatoes Green bean casserole Roasted brussel sprouts and/or roasted baby carrots w/thyme Toasted corn pudding Cranberry sauce (canned, but a delish cran-orange relish got vetoed by the traditionalists) Rolls & butter (I'm hoping to do homemade, but will depend on time) Pumpkin pie (MIL) Caramel cake
Turkey isn't my favorite meat in the world, but I am using my Dad's foolproof "Roast in a Paper Bag" method which has netted him a juicy, golden-brown turkey every year for the last 30 years.
Girls may be easier and more fun to buy clothing for, but boys are MUCH easier when it comes to toys.
Dagny wants a rock tumbler for Christmas. Anders wants Lego and Indiana Jones stuff. Dagny wants a puppy. Anders wants a camera. Dagny wants Moonshoes (no way, no how, not ever!). Anders wants a rope swing (we'll see).
Obviously, I've started receiving the kid's initial Santa lists.
Everything was fine this morning from 5:45 - 6:30. Then I had to wake the kids for school. I know Anders screaming and fussing is 90% power struggle, 5% not wanting to get up and 5% not wanting to go to school but it's 100% frustrating for me.
I have three hours of peace until pick up time.
And all I want to do is read "New Moon." How, how, how did I get hooked on the Twilight series?
I'm not sure when I became tech-challenged. The list of new, cool, techy gadgets we DON'T have is getting longer every day. Soon we'll be hopelessly out of touch with the modern world. I used to buy every new gadget that came on the market. I don't remember when or why I stopped. Probably right after I bought an iPod (original white, click-wheel, b&w screen, no video, 20GB) and an iMac 6 years ago. Other than upgrading to VoIP phone service and purchasing a LCD TV, we haven't done much since then in the way of tech updates. We're even using our old Sony "surround sound" system I got Matt for Christmas 10 years ago. But we never got around to hooking up the speakers, so it's not really surrounding anything. We use it for the DVD player. (No fancy Blu-Ray for us! We're not even sure what that is!)
And I feel about texting the way my parents did about answering machines and ATMs. I remember thinking how totally crazy it was that they didn't use either (although they do have an answering machine now) and how could they get by without them, blah blah blah. But THAT is exactly how I feel about text messages! Will our kids look at us as completely crazy and out of touch because we don't text? Will they try to teach us one day? Will I start missing out on important information because I don't use text messages? Or worse, will they?
I don't even have a phone that CAN text. Or take pictures, surf the web, Google or IM. It just makes phone calls. It's older than the kids and it can barely hold a charge, but I also don't use it that often so I only care for about 78 minutes a month.
My digital camera maxes out at 2 MP and is the size of a PopTart box. I also don't use Twitter and I gave up on Facebook a month ago because it was too hard to keep up with. We don't have any "game systems" although I did buy Mr. J a plug-n-play video game set for our anniversary. It has PacMan, Super PacMan, Galaga, DigDug, Rally X and Pole Position. The kids laugh at the graphics, the "easy" games, and play Pole Position whenever we let them.
But maybe the time has come for us to reconsider our stance, particularly on the phone issue. A weekend or so ago we were our somewhere as a family and I remember looking at Mr. J and saying "I wish we had a iPhone so we could take a picture of the kids" and then we laughed and said "oh, we'll remember this!" But I've already forgotten.
And yes, that is the full & mighty extent of my 500th post. Y'all need to stick around for post 1000 for something really good.
And, GOGATORS! Surely you know this is Homecoming weekend?! They always put on a good party for the alums who show up, especially ones who are celebrating big anniversaries - like me, Number 20! Twenty! 2-0. How can I have been out of college for 20 years? But it seems like just yesterday I was walking into Simpson Hall for the first time.
... a house like mine then you probably vacuum every day too!
... a son like mine then you've left the house with him wearing blue plaid shorts w/ a brown & orange striped shirt that he proudly put on "ALL BY MYSELF" because you'd rather him be independent than suggest he change.
... a daughter like mine then you aren't surprised that your nightstand drawer is no longer carefully organized but instead is stuffed to the rim with stories, books, drawings, artwork, and tiny clothespin sculptures. Most are tagged with loving homemade notes, like: "For someone special like you!" or "You sparkle all the time!" Anyone seen my glasses?
... a husband like mine then you don't receive surprise bouquets of flowers, but he will bring you surprise tacos from your favorite taqueria (even though he hates the place) because he can tell how utterly worn out and exhausted you are.
... a bathroom cabinet like mine then you have more cold medicine, Children's Tylenol, bath toys and toilet paper than cosmetic items.
... a family like mine then you now how much you are loved despite everything that may be going on in your life.
I've been light on posts this week. Anders was down with a terrible, terrible case of bronchitis. One week of antibiotics, breathing treatments, no sleep (for either of us), high fevers and worry! But he tested negative for flu/H1N1 so at least it's "just" bronchitis.
Yesterday I broke two of my own personal do-or-die laws: 1) never EVER EVER EVER buy a bag of Halloween candy that includes Reese's PB cups and 2) never EVER EVER EVER open Halloween candy a minute before we see the trick or treaters approaching the door.
Both laws were enacted in 2003 after I ate a whole bag of mini Reese's cups by myself in one dark mid-October week. Since then, for my safety and well-being, our H'ween candy has mostly been Snickers & Kit Kats, neither of which I like and am not tempted to eat. And we usually wait until the actual day of Halloween to buy any candy. And we don't open it ahead of time.
But yesterday in Target I had to buy candy for the kids' school Halloween party. So I figured I might as well get our trick-or-treat candy too. And so I grabbed about 8 of those huge (on sale) assortment bags not realizing they had PB cups in them until I got home and unloaded. I should have got right back in the car and returned them. Because OF COURSE as soon as Anders was napping, I popped that bad boy open.
And yes I practically mainlined 4 PB cups in a matter of minutes. I haven't had one since about Valentine's Day and they tasted mighty good. Now I need to dig deep into the musty corners of my mind and try to find my will power for the next 36 hours.
In my last post, as I was carrying on about work and home and motherhood and stuff, I DID neglect to mention a truly stellar individual from my previous WorkingGirl life. So please allow me to introduce my good friend, former mentor and all-around Best Boss Ever, Scott.
Scott hired me onto his team just when I thought I'd be unemployed due to a relocation from Pittsburgh to Florida that was wholly out of my control. I was happy for the opportunity, but even more happy to be working for someone I suspected was going to be really fun to work with.
Scott is one of the kindest, most generous people I know, but can always be counted on for a hilariously snarky and/or honest comment when needed.
Scott was, and I am sure still is to whomever he works with these days, a Great Boss. He made our job fun. I always learned something from him. And although he let me "run with the ball" far more often that I probably deserved, he always knew when he needed to step in, rein me in, or redirect my efforts. And he always did so in the most gracious and professional way. He may have often gone home and drank heavily after a day of dealing with me, but he never let it show at work.
Scott is unbelievably creative, although I bet he'd deny it if you said so directly to his face.
Scott always had my back. He always gave credit where it was due. I always knew exactly where I stood with him. Scott made sure I - and we, as a team - shone!
Scott was one of the reasons I really, really, really, really loved my job, and was one of the reasons it was incredibly hard to leave. I was insanely jealous of the person who replaced me because I knew HE was working with Scott.
Scott is a great cook! I still have dreams about these awesome lobster enchiladas he made in 2001. I raved about them and he gave me the recipe. Years later, I showed the recipe to Mr. J and told him that's what I wanted for my birthday dinner. Mr. J offered that perhaps we should just ask Scott to make them for me because he was pretty sure that he wasn't up to the task.
I'm pretty sure that my family feels like they've met him because I used to talk about him all the time. Come to think of it, I still do on occasion.
So there you have it. Just a few of the many wonderful aspects of my friend Scott. I haven't even touched on the many funny stories, what a great dad he is, etc. You'll just have to imagine all that. Or, better yet, hope that one day YOU get to meet Scott too.
A few months ago, I had a mini-epiphany about being a Stay-at-Home-Mom (SAHM).
I started my new career when Dags was not quite 2, leaving a job & a career that I loved. It was an incredibly hard decision. I worked for a great company with people I was really friends with; I learned a lot and I think I contributed a lot too. So the decision to become a SAHM was unusually protracted and I tried to keep working for as long as I could before Mr. J and I decided that the place that I truly needed to be was at home. We are blessed and I am grateful that I have been able to continue to stay at home.
Even so there have been times, especially since Anders was born, where I questioned what I was doing. I felt jealous that I couldn't go out to lunch, or shop, or relax like I used to. I even missed the positive feedback and approval of my co-workers. So much of being a SAHM can be seen as drudge work. It is an incredibly thankless job.
But then, right about the beginning of this past summer, I suddenly realized that one of the reasons I was feeling stressed and confused and envious of my friends who seemed to have more free time was that I had been trying to do too much, focusing on the wrong things and not really thinking about what it means to be a SAHM. I am a HOMEMAKER. I make our home what it is. Mr. J may provide the means, but I am the catalyst for almost everything here. If the kids are miserable and cranky, it is my job to figure out why and help them learn to work things out. If the house is dirty, it is my privilege to clean it and watch it sparkle and shine. Accepting these things, rather than inwardly rebelling against them, helped me to have a much more positive outlook. An "attitude of gratitude" as they say at school.
So today, after yet another sleepless night with Anders up every 20 minutes, I reached down deep, said a prayer and dove in to my day with a smile on my face. Laundry, cleaning, fluffing pillows and sheets, baking a pumpkin spice cake ... I asked for all of this and in return? The satisfaction of a job well done. By me. For my family.
Also? It doesn't hurt that we're inaugurating our anniversary present tonight:
Yeah, you're darn right that's a 45,000 BTU, 3-burner, rotisserie-and-side-burner-equipped, granite work-surfaced, stainless steel grill hooked up conveniently to the natural gas line at our house (no toting LP tanks for me). What more could a girl want after 10 wonderful years of marriage?!
Crazy week. Girl Scouts, gymnastics, cleaning, dr. appts, vet appts, deliveries, yard work, meetings, Halloween costumes to make, company coming this weekend, trip to Naples to see my mom & dad .... lots of balls to juggle right now.
If you're looking for something to do this weekend, how about the Euclid/St.Paul neighborhood Haunted Hike? It's a lot of fun, and the weather is supposed to cool off by Saturday. I so need a break from 90 degree days!!!
Lizard Update: If you've been following the saga of the Lost Lizard, I'm happy to report it has finally been FOUND. Unfortunately found by my poor Dagny, but still FOUND. We were cleaning out the MomMobile on Saturday and as she was sorting through the bag of beach toys she suddenly let loose this piercing shriek and started to cry. She ran inside and I found her frantically scrubbing her hands. I asked what happened (I thought she got stung by something) and she said a "dried up lizard with its eyes popping out" fell out of a bucket onto her hand. While not happy that it happened to her (although I'm glad it didn't happen to me because I can feel my heart racing just typing that sentence), I helped her scrub for a few more minutes and told her that it was probably the Lizard that had crawled into the car and now we don't have to worry about it anymore! So it was ultimately a Good Thing. Though maybe not for her.
I don't watch Oprah, but I'll make an exception today for one of my favorite "mommy-bloggers" - NieNie.
I don't know her IRL and I'll most likely never meet her, but her story and her faith are truly inspirational. Her outlook on being a wife and mother may not be for everyone, but her outlook on family life is something we should ALL aspire to these days.
Holy greenbacks. Another institution goes belly up.
Read this. Two of my magazine subscriptions - SHUTTERED. I don't care much about Cookie - I think I got it as a gift subscription with an Amazon order. But Gourmet? COME ON. It's been around forever. And I just re-upped for another year!
While the rest of the country is talking about the crisp air, frost on the ground, sweaters and pumpkins, we Floridians are enjoying a perfect beach day. Blue skies, UV index out the roof, no humidity. PERFECT. I love fall.
Fall is here! Fall is here! I woke up this morning to a blissfully cool, unsticky 72 degrees. Fall.
Windows open, pumpkin scones baking, kids off to school. Fall.
Resisted the urge to wear a sweater to drop-off. But I did wear jeans for the first time this year. Fall.
And sure, it'll be in the high 80s by noon and we'll have the a/c on later. But the turn has come and I am pretty certain that we'll be able to open the windows every morning from now until April. Fall.
Good-bye to 24/7 a/c. Good-bye humongous electricity bill. Fall is here!
If you're a regular reader, then you know I have a well-documented terror slash fear slash phobia of lizards and frogs. Despite Mr. J's skepticism, it IS a real phobia and has a real name which I can't remember right now. I also have several lizard&frog-based theories, prime among them being that the lizards&frogs step up their efforts to get into the house when Mr. J is out of town.
For instance: Sunday night, a random huge frog?toad? who didn't get the memo that Mr. J was leaving MONDAY launched itself at our glass-paneled front door as we were watching the season premier of the Amazing Race. I suppose, what with our door being in total disrepair and as ancient as all the other fixtures in our house and it being a fairly large frog?toad?, we're lucky that it didn't knock the glass right out of the moulding thus landing it in our foyer. Mr. J did the honorable thing and without so much as a single cuss word, snuck out our alternate front door, crept up to it and smacked it across the porch with a folded-up Whole Foods brown paper bag (does that count as recycling?). So it goes hopping across the porch for a bit then I saw it hop up and over the wall into the gardenia bushes. Which will now go unweeded for another few weeks because I'm not messing with frogs. But I digress. Where was I? Lizards.
As planned, Mr. J left Monday afternoon for his biz trip and so I shouldn't have been a bit surprised when I found a lizard lurking behind the reading chairs at 10:00 p.m. last night. I WAS surprised that the only reason I found it was that I was hustling over to get to Fizzy who was noisily throwing up in the corner -- all over the lizard. I didn't know whether I should be completely torqued at the dog, who is so utterly high maintenance that if you delay her evening snack by just 30 minutes she will retaliate by throwing up, or completely grateful to her for doing it on the lizard. Anyway, the lizard, which was fairly large compared to the ones that have snuck in lately, was obviously stunned and alarmed by this twist of fate and not moving quickly. Which gave me a chance to run for a can of bug spray (oh yes, Raid stops more than ants & roaches in their tracks) and a shoe. So I drowned it in Raid, whacked it with the shoe (Mr. J's Merrells. Sorry honey.) and then securely covered it with a Hawaiian lei patterned Dixie cup leftover from Dagny's birthday party. Where it will remain until Mr. J returns.
Then I used gloves and roughly half a roll of Bounty, along with my now-standard holy trio of Lysol, Febreze and Slatkin's air freshener to clean up after the dog and mop up the overflow Raid puddles. Wait, didn't I write that exact same line just a few days ago? II've had quite enough of cleaning up after the dog . Who snuck that into my job description?
And, if anyone is interested, there is still no sign of the lizard in my MomMobile, so I will probably give it another week and then declare it dead. At least in reality. In my head it will live on and on.
As promised, Dagny has started ballet and gymnastic lessons after school. She is happy as a clam to be doing something other than swim lessons, I'll tell you. I'm still happy I took a hard line approach to making her learn to swim though, because she's as at home in the water as a fish. FINALLY.
We're about to embark on Swim Lessons, Part II since Anders will be registered to start spring swim. I thought it was a good idea to let him get settled into school before adding anything else. I hope he gets the hang of it quicker than Dagny though -- and with way less trauma.
It's hard to believe they've already been in school a whole month.
Did anyone else out there watching the UF-Kentucky game last night almost DIE when Tim Tebow didn't get up? I just started praying and pacing and freaking out a little - it took me the rest of the game to get my heart rate back to normal. But he did get up and hopefully it is just a concussion. And thankfully John Brantley is an excellent back-up QB -- in any other college program he'd be the starter. And now he might get his chance at UF.
And it turns out it's not the poor dog's fault at all.
Anders confessed to feeding her his unwanted Granny Smith apple slices during snack on Thursday. Well, confess implies he came to me all guilty and sad-eyed to own up to his misdeed. Instead I caught him sneaking her pieces of quesadilla at lunch today. And this after I was up at 4:00 a.m. to take her out, and then I couldn't get back to sleep, and then I spent the wee hours of the morn wondering what dread disease she would be diagnosed with next week at her annual checkup.
So I was in a less than understanding mood about the quesadilla.
"Anders! Stop!" I said. "What's wrong with you?! Remember Fizz can't eat people food? Now throw out that hunk of gnawed quesadilla!"
Anders, looking guilty, "Sorry Mommy! I remember. She only eats apples."
"Apples? No, she doesn't eat apples either. No people food."
"Well, she ate them at snack yesterday." (By yesterday he could mean any day in the past, but the only day we had apples was for snack on Thursday afternoon.)
Ah. Mystery solved. At least we don't need an ultrasound and $50 worth of steroids and antibiotics.
You know how you have that one thing that is THE dealbreaker? The line in the sand? The straw that finally breaks the camel's back?
Turns out mine is canine incontinence.
The dog just destroyed the art room. Never seen the likes of it. Such. A. Mess. It rivals our famous "river of poo" story.
So instead of Anders & I making banana bars w/ cream cheese icing (sorry Debbie, no treats this weekend!), I get to clean up dog s**t from the art room's finely grooved pine wood floors and Anders gets to make funny observational comments about: the smell, the dog, Mommy's language, the state of the art room, poop in general. Which is actually sort of a high point for him because everyone knows how funny poop is to a 3-year-old.
After my thorough cleaning and bleaching, I have the holy trio of Lysol, Febreze and Slatkin's home fragrance at the ready.
Weeding the yard. But with temps in the mid 90s and similar humidity, I'm not feeling too bad about letting this slide for another month. But. It's still atrocious!
Figuring out how to re-place our paver patio area. We still have the pavers, just need to get them back down. See above for the reason I'm putting this off.
Cleaning, decluttering and reorganizing upstairs closets. Some people do this in the spring, I do it in the fall.
Weed out all the 2T clothes from Anders' dresser and take them to the consignment store. Will have to wait until a school morning or I'll risk encountering some, um, pushback on certain items. Like the navy and maroon striped tee that is way too small, but one of his favorites. Dagny calls it his Winnie-the-Pooh shirt since his tummy sticks out.
Search around for: a game table for the living room, bunkbeds for Anders, desk & chair for Dags. I'm thinking Craigslist is a good place to start.
Buy caddies for cleaning supplies so I don't have to schlep them upstairs every time I clean.
Learn how to work the sewing machine so I can make window treatments. And a tablecloth.
Buy wood blinds for master bath.
Check out Etsy for art for the living room.
Frame kids' art for the playroom and our sunroom.
Decide what the heck we're going to do about our lack of a back door.
We just found out that one of our first parenting decisions appears to have backfired.
Up until now, we've been very careful about how the kids have been introduced to various types of media. They don't have (and never will) computers, phones or TVs in their rooms. They watch and love movies, but we have limited their early TV watching. When they do watch it's usually PBS or Noggin, although we've relaxed a little bit with that and, thanks to TiVo, we can FF through commercial breaks and objectionable scenes. And as far as computer games go, except for our whopping three Dr. Seuss CD-Rom games, a few passes around Webkinz world and playing Bedazzled on Aunt Jenny's iPhone, neither kid has ever played online games. They really don't have the attention span for it and since neither Mr. J nor I have the slightest interest in Nintendo, PS2, Wii, online games, etc. the kids have had minimal exposure or interest in those types of things.
BUT. This year a lot of Dagny's homework and practice sheets -- especially for Maths -- is online! And guess what? She doesn't like it! She gets frustrated and bored and doesn't know where to click and is really unmotivated to do her work. I think she'd rather do flash cards with me (I hope I'm not projecting). It's not that she can't do the work, she just doesn't want to do it on the computer and more importantly, she doesn't really get how the online games work. There's no "competition" that she can see, hear and talk to like there is when she & I are throwing down with Quirkle or Mancala or Clue Jr. So now we're in the position of recanting a little and are going to try to encourage her to play online and learn how online games work. We've even debated getting a little laptop dedicated to their homework to make it more fun and to head off any competition between me reading blogs and someone wanting to practice addition.
Or maybe I won't worry about it, buy a set of dominoes to practice number theory, and continue our philosophy that sooner or later they'll pick it up on their own.
At 5:16 a.m. I was jarred from sleep by a huge, explosive burst of white light and the most enormous thunder clap. Seriously, it sounded like a car had fallen on the house and exploded. In 2.8 seconds Anders was up and in my arms shaking and crying (he hates lightning & thunder). I got him tucked into our bed where he dozed and played and talked for the next 90 minutes until I deemed it time to get up; mostly after I heard him muttering "who's going to play with me? no one. no one wants to play with me. everyone just wants to sleep."
Soooo.. we come downstairs and it is early-ish, dark and dreary and rainy. Anders loves loves loves to bake with me so I think, "mmmm. Let's make fresh, hot bagels! perfect!" Or not so perfect. The heat & humidity must have killed my yeast, because I tried to proof 3 packets and not a single one of them got going. Bummer.
I am taking this as a Sign to kick back, pour myself a jumbo mug of hot coffee and go play Indiana Jones with my sweet boy. And maybe go out for bagels later.
*Lizard Standoff Day 6: No lizard, no body. My Mom informed me that lizards are very good at withstanding hostile environments and extreme temperatures and that maybe, just maybe it might still be alive in the MomMobile. But not to worry cause it's probably pretty weak by now and won't be moving fast. I haven't moved my visors in 6 days (and doubt I ever will again) because I'm positive that it has crawled up behind there to wait/die and when I flip it down it will fall into my lap. And yes, I really do think that.
Eight years ago today, at 9:30 a.m., Mr. J and I were on a plane bound for San Francisco. We never made it there. We were grounded in Dallas, with no explanation, and found out about the 9/11 attacks along with about 13,000 other people also stranded in the D-FW airport.
I'll never forget the sadness, anger, shock and uncertainty of that day and the week that followed as we waited to get back home. When we were finally able to fly back to Florida I remember seeing, for the first time in this country, armed soldiers in the airport. And it wasn't scary - it was comforting knowing that they were there to defend us.
I'll never forget that day. I hope my children never have to live through anything like it.
Still no lizard. No body either. As Pooh would say, Oh Bother.
Anders and I went here for our playground time today and had an excellent time - beautiful weather, REALLY nice playground,* great observation tower overlooking Boca Ciega Bay and we had an awesome time pretending we were jungle explorers on the boardwalk. Every time I turned around he'd pretend to make snake noises and then say "Did you hear THAT?!" in his most ominous voice. Cutey little cutester.
We got a bit hot and sweaty by the end, but played for almost 2 hours without major discomfort -- I think a change is in the air.
* The playgrounds around here have all had a major upgrade lately. New, cool equipment and they've also put up big sunshades on a lot of them which keeps the equipment and kids much cooler. As we head into Autumn, and the weather allows us to play outside more often, I'm sure we'll be frequenting a lot of the other really nice playgrounds around here -- one of the reasons I'm happy A isn't in school full time yet. And kudos to our local parks dept. who has started to put astroturf around the play areas! No more torn up scruffy grass! No more sandy messes! No more nasty, dirty mulch! No more bugs! I would have thought I'd miss the "natural beauty" of grass/mulch/sand but NO I DO NOT. The astroturf is soft, cushy, stays cool on little feet and hands, is way cleaner than grass, and I'm sure they save a fortune on maintenance. And as this is Florida, if you want nature there's plenty of other places to see it. (Start with our yard featuring $2000 worth of dying sod. Hmpf.)
While loading up the MomMobile (aka 2007 Honda Odyssey) to return to St. Pete after a fabulous Labor Day weekend at my parents' house, my Dad casually said to me, "Hey Trish, there's a lizard in your car." An innocent statement to most. To me? The eight most terrifying words in the English language.
Why? Because I hate lizards but more importantly I am also deathly afraid, phobic, terrified, petrified of them. The sight of one in my house (let alone my car) can induce hours of near-paralysis and Mr. J will attest to my utter inability to function normally until I know it is dead. Through sheer force of will -- and because it would wake up the children -- I no longer scream when I see them, but I do utter a strangled cry and immediately start praying. Mr. J says he knows immediately when he hears that cry that he's up for a lizard hunt.
My Dad tried hard to get that lizard for me. He emptied half a can of Raid into my vehicle, he moved seats, he thrust a pointy umbrella into the small crevices under seats and under the dash. But, ultimately, he lost eye contact with it and it vanished. (If you are trying to get rid of a lizard, Rule #1 is NEVER EVER lose eye contact.) Sadly, there are just too many places in a Honda Odyssey for a lizard to hide. I'll have to write a letter to Honda since that's about the only complaint I have with my ride.
I couldn't sell the car, I couldn't switch cars with my mom (although we considered it), and I couldn't just stay there for the rest of my life. So, ultimately, we had to leave. I made the 2 hour drive home on red alert. For the first 45 minutes I cried silently in terror. The kids, who are not afraid of lizards, treated me with utter kindness and only shouted out "There it is!" once or twice before they realized it wasn't in the least bit funny. Eventually I settled on driving with my eyes firmly fixed straight ahead. I was so scared that I'd look down at the floor and see it. Or that it'd be hanging from the visor ready to drop on my lap. I spent major mental energy steeling myself in case I did see it because I was seriously worried that it WOULD pop out and then I'd lose control and have/cause an accident - especially bad since I had the kids with me.
So now we're on Lizard Standoff Day 3. I haven't seen the lizard. Can it be alive after two days in a closed-up car in 90+ degree weather? It has to get up to around 110 in there right? Plus no food or water, surely it's dead or found a way out. Right? But without a body for proof, I imagine it's under my seat waiting to sproing out at me.
First week of school is OVER. In numbers, that's 4 lunches (today is a half day), 8 snacks, 2 tries at getting new school shoes for Dagny, 3 very relaxing mornings, if you count cleaning, cooking and running errands relaxing. (I do.)
Things that have gone easier than I thought:
Getting up at 5:40 a.m. - my clock just seemed to reset itself
Anders using the bathroom at school
Homework (so far)
Making snacks - they both love fruit, so this has been easy. But we're about to see the last of the melons 'round here.
Getting everyone out the door at 7:40
"Big kid" carline
Things that have been harder to do than I thought:
Lunches - aargh! Why can't my kid eat sandwiches like everyone else?!
Getting chores done while Anders is at school - I'm used to taking my time (or not doing them at all)
Getting to bed earlier
Finding uniforms/shoes/socks that fit Dags - we still haven't found shoes that fit. She's wearing her shoes from Kindergarten still
Anyhoo. Our fall activities will start soon - sports, Brownies, etc. This will be my first fall without swim lessons since 2005. Since Dags learned to swim this year she opted to do ballet instead. We have a complimentary class tomorrow morning to see if she likes it and then we can go from there. She might do some tennis too, but not until it cools off a little. Anders fall activity is Hanging with Mom. We've been having fun playing games and doing puzzles. We play Indiana Jones for hours! He is too young for any organized sports and declared he "wasn't ready" for swim lessons. I learned my lesson with pushing the pool on Dagny, so I told Anders he could wait until the spring session to start. NO WAY am I going through months of crying and carrying on and wasted time again. Dagny waited until she was good and ready and then just did it on her own practically. She's a fish now.
Now I'm counting down the days until Football Season starts and the weather cools off a little. And by the way..... How 'bout them Gators?!
Anders is in preschool three mornings a week and today was his very first day. Despite the slightly apprehensive look on his face in the picture, I am happy to report that he went off to class without a single tear or complaint and came home bubbly, excited, exhausted and singing "new" songs. I guess he forgot that we've been singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" together for as long as I remember. And best of all, he came home wearing the same clothes I sent him in which means NO POTTY ACCIDENTS! I mean, he is completely potty trained but he has never gone in public without me right there. I guess he IS a big boy now, as he insists so often.
Dagny doesn't get out for another 2 hours, so I won't have her report until tonight. But since she's with all the same kids that she's been with since SHE was 3, I'm sure she'll just pick up where she left off last year.
And I? AM RELAXED. I haven't had a whole morning all to myself in 3 years and 1 month. Even Mr. J knew enough to clear out and give me some breathing room. Ahhhh.....
As adults, we're all aware of how swiftly time passes the older we get. But even though I know this, it still amazes me when suddenly what seemed like 10 boundless weeks of fun and relaxation and sleeping in is now down to two weeks of back-to-school shopping, learning to wear shoes again, and trying to cram in as many activities as we can handle. So I'm declaring a two-week blog-cation here at Three's Company and am going to try to stay off the internet as much as possible. So much to do, so little time to do it!
This is so wrong that I almost feel like calling Nine West and asking them what the heck they're thinking:
I found this coyly lurking at the top of a webpage and almost fell off my chair. Holiday clothing ads in AUGUST? Don't they know that they have to at least wait until the Halloween stuff is put away before advertising Holiday stuff? Really. Unless of course they mean we should be thinking about our Labor Day Holiday outfits, but I have never thought of a pair of mesh cut-out black heels as appropriate Labor Day material.
Have you ever heard of this film or the book by Jon Krakauer that it is based on? Have you ever heard of Emile Hirsch the amazing actor who stars in it? Did you know Sean Penn is a gifted director (whatever you might think of his acting talents)?
I did not know about any of the above until I saw the movie "Into the Wild." It is one of the most amazing stories I've ever seen on film. I can't wait to get the book from the library as well. It has a very Thoreau-ish quality to it, so if you're not a fan of navel-gazing idealism and/or naturalism you'll have to swallow hard to enjoy the first taste. But stick with it, because there is something about the story and the main character that will stick with you. I had a hard time getting to sleep after I watched it because I just couldn't stop thinking about it. It almost has that quality where you think.... did I see that? Did I miss something? Did that really happen? I didn't agree with everything he did (some of his actions seem naive, some self-centered, some just dumb) and I certainly don't think I'd survive 16 hours let alone 16 weeks in the wilds of Alaska with nothing but a sleeping bag, gun and 10lbs. of rice, but something about the movie made me want to believe I could -- or that at least I should try.
Anyway, it's Just Amazing. Rent it or catch it on one of the movie channels (I think it was on Cinemax) as soon as you can.
We are deep in the throes of potty-training. And so far I'm pleased to announce it's going fairly well! Much better than I anticipated given Anders absolute lack of interest as recently as this past weekend. Luckily, while we were running errands on Tuesday, Dagny managed to shame him into at least trying the potty. Despite all of my bribes, entreaties and threats, all it took was some well-placed verbal barbs from his sister and voila! He went!
We've only had two accidents so far, and he even woke me up at 4:13 this morning to go and yes, I managed to muster enough enthusiasm to make a big deal out of that. He won't go on a public toilet yet. But I'm sure we'll work that out by school. Yesterday we went to Target to pick out Big Boy Un*der*wear and I stocked up on Clorox wipes 'cause it's true what they say about boys being a bit messier while they are learning. In the meantime, we're using pull-ups at night and in the car.
I can't tell you how excited I am that my Diaper Days might finally be behind me. So I get a little angst-y when I think "just one more... should we have just one more?" But at almost 43 I just don't think it would be wise.
Today: Baked chicken meatballs with peperonata; baguette; chopped green salad. For dessert: salted caramel ice cream.
I was going to experiment and make my own creme fraiche but got nervous about the 8-10 hr. 72-degree incubation time. Even with the a/c going full time we can barely keep it at 78 here.
The kids are playing "zoo." There are 23000 stuffed animals in various exhibits all over the house - an aquarium, an aviary, Africa, and the nursery featuring a white tiger and baby leopard. Thank goodness for beanie babies.
School starts in 27 days. And not a moment too soon. You know you -- and the kids -- are ready when you find yourself in a pointless argument with your 7 year old about whether or not you'll help her take the carrying strap off a toy. For the record, I was stubbornly refusing to help her because I end up taking the thing on and off 23000 times per day. She was whining at me to "puhleeeez helpppp meeeee" on the grounds that she can't play at all and was getting mad because I wouldn't help. I'm not stubborn by nature, but I can dig my heels in when I have to.
I'd say this marks the turning point of the summer where "childlike" turns into "childish."
The other turning point is when it's officially too hot outside to BBQ and you'd rather crank down the a/c and just use the oven.
I rarely link to other blogs. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I follow about 50 on a more-or-less daily basis? Because I'm too lazy to figure out Blogroll? I don't know. Once in a while though someone's blog strikes me as so passionate, committed, well-written, funny or just darn-right useful I HAVE to link. It would be criminal not to. So I bring you, my faithful readers, all 10 of you:
So (sew) I begged and begged for a sewing machine last Christmas and Santa obliged. And there it has sat, lonely in its box, ever since. I desperately want to learn to use it. People with large, oddly oval dining room tables NEED to know how to sew. I will never, ever find ready-made tablecloths that fit my table. And I've been hankering to make some bright, cheerful, peppy table linens for a while now. Sew (so) what's a girl to do? Enter:
Perfecto! What great fabrics! What great space! What a great idea! My flighty neighbor J and I are going to take a sewing class, if I can pin her down to a time. If not, in One Month, if the potty-training muse smiles on us, Big Boy Anders will be in preschool three mornings a week and I'm going to learn to sew on my own. 'Cause it's time to Step Up My Game.
The Lizard Law: If Mr. J is out of town one of these buggers will get in:
It never, ever, ever, ever EVER fails. So I should have predicted that, since Mr. J was out of town yesterday, that there would be one sitting on the kitchen counter waiting for me when I came down for coffee.
Sometimes they're big ones, sometimes they're baby ones. I don't know how or why they get in. But they seem to know I'm all alone here and they take advantage of my horrible, terrible, debilitating lizard phobia. Then I'm faced with chasing the thing all over the house, screaming like a maniac, spraying in with Raid (the new Natural version, which smells like clove cigarettes to me) or trying to smash it with a shoe. Or worse, staying up all night staring at walls waiting for them to jump on me or make a run across the living room. One got into Anders' room when Mr. J was in Michigan for 3 days. I spent almost the entire time trying to track it down, terrified every time I had to change a diaper. Another time Mr. J was out of town but his parents were visiting and one got into my bedroom. I promised them a steak dinner if they could get rid of it. They were up there for about 2 hours trying to scootch in out the door, but in the end gave up. I slept with one eye open waiting for it all night and then when Mr. J got home he managed to corner it in the laundry hamper -- it had been waiting for me there so that it could scare me to death when I did the laundry.
It's useless to remind me that I've lived in Florida and/or the tropics all my life. I'm sure growing up in Jamaica was were this fear started -- all the women in my family are pretty lizard-phobic too. It seems to me that people who grew up in a lovely, lizard-free Northern states are never afraid of them. I know people in Pittsburgh who think they are cute.
This is the first summer I can remember that I don't have an official Summer Reading list. I was so focused on picking really good books for the kids, I forgot about myself.
Luckily, I happened to find a few MARVELOUS books at the library without having to put in requests:
Atlas of Unknowns, Tania James*
Fragile Things, Neil Gaiman**
Gentlemen of the Road, Michael Chabon***
The Bridegroom, Ha Jin****
As for the fall, I'm looking forward to September 29 when Audrey Niffenegger's new book, "Her Fearful Symmetry," is due out. I love her writing, so I might pre-order this one from Amazon so I don't have to wait for it at the library.
*Have I ever mentioned how much I love books set in India? LOVE.
** Speaking of love, I LOVE Neil Gaiman. His writing makes me tingly. Who else can combine fantasy and horror so very well? His collections are as good as his novels. And the ending to Stardust makes me cry and wish the book would never end.
*** Speaking of wishing for more, let's talk about Michael Chabon. I've read and LOVED everything he's ever written. This book is no exception. There is no one writing today who has a better sense of pacing. And Summerland? One of the best young adult books I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Its like a kid's version of The Talisman (Stephen King & Peter Straub), which was one of my favorite summer reading books from several years (decades?) ago.
**** I have an on-again/off-again relationship with Ha Jin. I liked Waiting, but haven't been as wowed by some of his other stuff.
A while back I posted about this crazy children's catalogue featuring $14,000 baby beds and $500 crib sheet sets. Yes, $500 for crib sheets -- one set, not a lifetime supply. Can you imagine? Anders destroyed at least 3 sheet sets a month. He was a poop machine.
Today I called the nice people over at Chasing Fireflies to ask them to take me off their list too (for all I know it's the same company). I'm in no mood to shop for $100 Halloween costumes and $54 monogrammed kids tee shirts. Not to mention the $48 personalized tooth fairy pillow. My tone of voice probably said it all; they didn't even ask me why. On a positive note, the fact that they're still in business at all is a sign that maybe the economy is on the rebound.
As I predicted a few weeks ago, my fave local Target ALREADY has their Back-to-School stuff up. Really. I know some parts of the country go back in early August, but here? We're not starting until August 24. Over a month away. Unless you're planning elective surgery or a prolonged vacation, there is NO REASON to be buying school supplies in mid-July. Even a school supplies geek like me, who loves picking out new pens and pencils and Trapper Keepers and lunch boxes and folders and could spend hours looking at spiral notebooks, thinks it's way too soon. Sure I've already got the kids supply lists compiled and ready to go, but I don't think you should actually buy anything until at least August 1. It just feeds into the retail merchandising ethic that brings you Christmas displays* in Walgreens starting in mid-October. Or Valentines stuff on December 27. I'm sure if you took a peek into a Target supply room you'd find boxes of Halloween stuff waiting to be put out the day school starts.
It makes me feel kind of grinchy. And also anxious that if I don't buy the kids' school stuff rightthisverysecond all the good stuff, cool colors, neat-o things are going to be snatched up and picked over and my kids will go back with lame no-brand crayons and the ugly spiral notebooks no one else wanted either. But this year, I Will Be Strong. I will not go back to Target until August 3 (I don't shop on the weekends). I will have Faith that there'll be cool stuff left to buy in August. I will Remember that since the majority of their lists is glue sticks and hand sanitizer I am not going to Worry about notebooks and pencil cases. I know I say this every year, but this year I Mean It.
*I'm not saying that if you found the perfect Christmas gift for someone in July that you shouldn't buy it, even if it is at Walgreens. No sir/madam. I'm all about advance planning. I'm just saying that I don't want my halls decked yet.
The party was a blast! The girls all played very nicely (mostly) and I had the perfect amount of activities planned -- mostly involving dancing and limbo and games to keep everyone moving. Dagny got some wonderful gifts, including an INSANE amount of gift card moola. But being her father's daughter, she has already said she wants to "see what's out there" before she decides to purchase anything. She's also already asked how long she has before she has to use them. Not like me -- they'd be gone already.
I did, however, wake up at 5:00 a.m. this morning with the worst migraine I've had in about five years. It was awful. I went downstairs to lie in the dark cool living room and alternated between there and the bathroom until Anders woke up. Then I had to wake up dear sweet hubby to help out while I lay in bed. It was gone by about 1, but I still feel that sore, icky headachy feeling. I attribute this one to WAAAAAY TOOO MUCH chocolate cake yesterday. It was practically all I ate and I had about 2 pieces whilst cleaning up. So fudgy, rich, creamy yummy... but I've not had chocolate much at all lately and apparently it did me in. Ouch.
Better now though and Mr. J is on his way home with yummy takeout from the burger joint across the street.
We've been back on our regular bedtime sleep schedule here and I couldn't be HAPPIER. Both kids are so much more relaxed, easy-going, less argumentative. Anders slept until 7:30 this morning!! Which means I could sleep until 7 AND get about 1/2 a cup of coffee in me before he got up.
And the bonus? Spending time with Mr. J during those wonderful early evening hours.
We're in the throes of getting ready for the big party this weekend. I don't know who's more excited... the birthday girl or me. We've purchased favors, craft supplies and the food. Drinks will be done on Friday - I'm still debating whether handing bottles of Izze to a bunch of 7-year-old girls is a good idea. Maybe I'll stick to juice pouches and water (but fancy water of course). Tomorrow is her actual birthday so we're having a family dinner and opening family presents, but that's just her usual menu of steak, mac n' cheese, corn on the cob and fruit (and some green salad for Mr. J and I). I've no idea how she's going to eat anything since she's missing about 3 teeth right now with another 2 or 3 loose.
So that leaves me with freakingout about the cake. Since D wants a chocolate cake, I'm making the classic Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" cake. I'm either doing a chocolate mousse filling (if time and Anders permits) or a simple raspberry filling. But the frosting.... I can't decide if I should go for gold and make a yummy swiss meringue buttercream or a delicious, but much lower-key regular uncooked buttercream (you know... butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, a little milk). I doubt the girls will care much one way or the other, but I do. There are so many factors: time is the primary one, but I worry about heat too since a meringue buttercream tends to have a real hard time coming together when it's warm and goodness knows it's warm in Florida in July and then the frosted cake will have to sit in the fridge overnight 'cause there's no way I'm attempting to make buttercream Saturday morning with everything else going on. And I'm decorating with shredded coconut and jellybeans and will that look fancy enough or should I find some mini palm trees or hula dancers or flip-flop candles and ohmygosh I forgot about the dog, who's going to watch the dog, she can't be running around the house eating scraps and she'll tear our bedroom apart if I lock her up there and she's going to bark constantly and what will Mr. J and Anders do all afternoon since they didn't want to be around for the party thank goodness my sister is coming although she hasn't really confirmed that and I still have to ask Kari if she'll take pictures and I still haven't got RSVPs from about half the invitees this is kind of stressful but I'm looking forward to it anyway.
At the beginning of the summer I thought I'd experiment a bit with the kids bedtimes and let Anders stay up to 7 and Dags until 8.
After a full month of the experiment I can tell you it is a resounding FAIL. They are up at the crack of dawn and are cranky, belligerent, argumentative and fight almost constantly from 4:00 - bedtime. It is horrible and I blame myself for messing with the almost foolproof sleep schedule that I have adhered to religiously since Dagny was 2 and my BFF, Lisa, told me that her secret to happy kids was sleep, early bedtimes and lots of sleep.
So tonight I'm going back to their originally scheduled bedtimes, although I may allow Dags to read in bed for a bit before lights out, and see how it works.
Have you ever read the Declaration of Independence? Do you think our current government is being true to the principles and ideals that our founding fathers laid out for us? God Bless and Protect America.
I'm including the complete text of the Declaration of Independence from this site.
And I'd like to send a special Fourth of July shout out to Uncle Mike (aka the Colonel) and all the other men and women who proudly serve America.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
July 4, 1776
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
— John Hancock
New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton