Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dear So-and-So...

Dear Fellow Avian Appreciation Artist,

I saw you the other day at the intersection, where I was making a right-hand turn. In fact, it would have been hard to miss you, what with the squealing of tires as you blew through the six-lane intersection at top speed and slammed on your breaks just inches from my car and all. Although I had a green light, I stopped to watch the show, and was truly amazed at your many bird tricks! With your arms flapping and mouth going so quickly, I could only assume that you were perhaps showing off your pterodactyl impression, and that you had even added your own personal touch - a broken middle claw that stuck straight up in the air! Fabulous! I hope you didn't mind my imitating your fingerwork as I continued on my journey. My son thought you were a very entertaining showman, and commented on the 'funny guy' all the way home! However anxious you are to share, however, perhaps you should save your showtimes for moments when *you* have a green light. Just a thought.

Saw the Show, Didn't Buy the T-shirt


Dear Ms. Hasty,

When we saw each other at the mall the other day, I appreciated your willingness to remind me, at top volume, that the highway patrol had kindly placed a stop sign near where I had been for the last few moments. Leaning out your window was a great way to make sure that I saw you. However, in doing so, you seemed to miss that fact that you, also, had a stop sign, which you almost ran over in your excitement to point out mine. Perhaps mine was of better quality, and therefore more noteworthy? Did you want me to give it to you? Regardless, maybe it would be better if your head remained in your own car, rather than bobbing all over the outdoors while your body remains behind the wheel. If you need help with that, I'll be happy to whip out my newly-purchased roll of duct tape and wrap your hair to the seat.

I'll Drive My Car, Please Drive Yours!


Dear Patrick,

Why, oh why, have you sudddenly completely lost your mind? Has it run away with your common sense? When I told you to please set up your godforsaken poh-kee-mon cards with your friend anywhere BUT near the model your sister and I had been working on for over an hour, did your Earth-to-Boy translater tell you that that meant to set up RIGHT BESIDE IT? We have a 6ft+ dining room table, and yet somehow the foot-long model ended up in pieces literally less a minute after I left the room. If there's someone coming to beam you up, E.T., they'd better hurry, because I'm about to put a stamp on your head and mail you in for a replacement! I don't think Sears has a repair plan for your model. Maybe I'd better try Game Stop and see if they'll trade your brain back to me if I return those hideous cards.

When Does School Start?


Dear Craptastic Parents,

Hello, it's me, your kid's Vacation Bible Camp Counsellor, with a reminder that if your overspoiled child brings his bajillion transformers doohickeys to camp ONE MORE TIME, *I'm* going to transform - into Camp Bitch From Hell. It's a 2.5hr camp, with constant activities; if you felt he was going to be so bored as to need a literal army of toys, why did you sign him up? Why did you let him bring them back after the first night?! While I appreciate the opportunity to carry his robot unit around and get acquainted with their shape-shifting boyhood weirdness, I do *not* appreciate the sassy lip and bratty attitude I am presented with when I remove them from his spoiled care YET AGAIN. If my own child talked to me that way, I would transform his a** right into his room, courtesy of my foot! Somehow, I don't think pretending to blow up the pulpit with BumbleBee is what BIBLE CAMP is supposed to be about.

Wishing for Tranquilizer Darts

and, finally,

Dear Wasps,

You seem to have mistaken my yard for a new development opportunity. Did you lose your last hive to foreclosure? Did your realtor take the money and run? First it was my planter, and now the kids' TIRE SWING?! Thank heavens it rained the other day and the swing had some standing water inside it, because if Patrick hadn't had to tip the thing up to get the wather out, he would have sat down and placed his feet Right. On. Your. New. Condo., a situation that would probably have ended badly for both of you. Please take your gross wasp building-spit, stingers, and lazy leg-hanging flying, and go SOMEWHERE ELSE. I have spray, and I'm not afraid to use it! (Well, maybe I am a *little*, but I'll do it anyway!)

Coming to a Hive Near You

Friday, June 26, 2009

It's Here!!!!!!

After putting the former furniture on craigslist for $100 and getting several responses (one of whom stood me up, one who backed out at the last minute b/c of pets, and two porn responses - WTF?!?!), we decided to let a young couple getting their first house have them for free. They were supposed to buy them a week ago, and the girl called me in tears the day they were supposed to come because she'd had a car accident and the WV police copied their license plate wrong and arrested her husband thinking he was the owner of another car who apparently has drug charges pending (read: don't go to WV on a Friday night!). By the time we talked the next day, he was free and the MD police had straightened things out, but they were still needing to retain a lawyer to get the auto impound fee and his record cleared. After that call, DH and I decided that they needed furniture a lot more than we needed the money, which was really only to cover the delivery charges on our new stuff, anyway, so we called her back and told her to just come and get it, which she did a little while ago, in tears again (but in a good way), using the husband's work truck and his boss as an extra set of hands.

Just to remind you, today I went from this:

to this:

to THIS!!!!!

There's about two feet between the back of the couch and the double doors, so there's plenty of room to RECLINE in all four end seats (yahoo!!!) We have lots and lots of room now, so anyone who wants to join me in making a *serious* asspotatoprint via long and careful lounging, the line forms here! :)

*Note: boy and girl sold separately. Not responsible for any assiciated snoring, drooling, or butt-spreading.


I have never been a big fan of Michael Jackson. Even as a child, when my friends were all swooning over him, I thought he was weird and definitely *not* cute. I didn't like his music, or his dancing, and didn't' care who he was friends with. I much preferred the music he made as a child with the Jackson 5.

As I've gotten older, and become a parent, I now cannot listen to the 5 music without feeling some sadness, and wondering at the parenting that would allow such insanity to occur. I look at Patrick, who is the same age MJ was at the time, and can't imagine expecting him to repeatedly rehearse and perform in such a way. I know that children are different, but when I look at that, all I can think is, no wonder he's messed up as an adult. Of course, the allegations of childhood abuse and fear make me even sadder, as I wonder what he and the rest of the children, for that's what they were supposed to be, faced once they left the stage. It makes me think of Ike Turner.

I have never really taken any reports of his physical health seriously, because they always seemed to be so conveniently staged. Trial? Oops, back pain. Poor sales for a concert? Oops, dehydration. But I never really thought about him as an actual human being, because he seemed so all-around fake, from his appearance to his behavior to his performances. Even yesterday, when I saw on cnn.com that he was taken in for cardiac arrest, I thought, yeah, sure. I knew there were problems stemming from an auction of his things that he was stopping, and figured it was something to do with that, more drama. After the initial allegations of child molestation when I was in high school, I never thought of him as an actual, worthy person again.

Apparently, underneath it all, there was a real physicality, an actual human that hid somewhere under the makeup and masks. A poor, twisted, mentally and physically misshapen homo sapien.

I'm not writing this in tribute, just in rumination. A human, regardless of the joke he became, has passed. As I listened this morning to the radio, my first knowledge of what had occured, I wondered at his strange life, and also thought again about the allegations. The children involved aside, I'm not sure which would be worse for a person - if he actually did do it, the guilt and repugnance at himself, or if he didn't, but had had his life and career demolished on false accusations. Either way, his life was ruined, and his decent into seeming near-insanity was the result. He obviously was working himself to death, physically and emotionally, to gain the love he so craved, and that he would probably never again get from the public who had adored him, and more importantly, from the father who should have, but did not.

Also, this creature had children himself, and I wonder what will become of them now, and whether they will be better off knowing their father as the wonder he was, rather than the snide wonderment that people felt about him in his later years.

I saw this morning that his autopsy is due tomorrow, a mere two days after his death. I wonder, myself, at this speed, when my friend Craig died from uncertain causes on an army base in TX months ago, one of several soldiers to do so, and yet his autopsy results were two months in coming. What does this say about us?

A human has died, yes. In the end, what does his life - and death- say about him, and about us?

Thursday, June 25, 2009


People, did you know that there are SO MANY free things on iTunes?!?! I am almost giddy. I am obsessed with downloading podcasts.

What am I downloading?

Free podcasts!!!! I love NPR, and all their stuff is free, including their funny Car Talk and even funnier Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. I've been getting those for a long time. But, BUT, there are podcasts for *everything*!!!

Feeling melancholy? Listen to This American Life or Storycorps, where people interview people they know, such as a mother who interviewed her daughter to find out what it was like to have breast cancer.

Feeling childish? Get GriddleCakes Radio, Batman stories, Kidcast UK, or The Land of Nod.

Feeling like old-time radio shows? NPR's Big Broadcast will give you Johnny Dollar, plus you can get Batman serials, Old Time Horror and Old Time Sci Fi shows.

Feeling stupid? There's a whole series of things to be learned in the Stuff You Missed In ... Class casts, like History, general FAQ questions, Roman empires, etc.

Like certain genres? Get celtic, irish, 80's, pretty much anything podcast, for free.

I am addicted to this stuff!!! I listen to them while I cook, do housework, or play on the computer. I listened to three Car Talks and two Wait Wait's while I wallpapered in the dining room today. I've also started playlists for the kids, and I copy their folders on anything I download for them, so I can just either burn the cds for them without looking too hard, or upload them to the kids' ipods. Josie has an old small one, and Patrick has an old nano that we got along with my 3rd gen regular one from ebay for $100, and they use them at bedtime or whenever they happen to be in their rooms to listen to stories or music. As a bonus, this way I know exactly what they're listening to, and that it's clean and appropriate.

What do you download? Are you a Pod Person?

I think naming my obsession means I might need a twelve-step program or something. Maybe they make a podcast for that, too....

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Grocery Roundup and a Post 301 Giveaway!

First thing's first - we'll get to the giftie later. :)

So, I went to the more expensive store in town this week, because they were having a good sale, and plus - drumroll, please - they were doing a partnership with Kraft where if I spent $40 in Kraft products, I would get a FREE ticket to Hershey Park!!!! This was *exactly* what I needed, because since we weren't able to go for Josie's birthday with her friend, I still have the three tickets, but now that it will be the entire family going instead, I'll need four. Ta-da!!!! Fuh-ree, baybee! So, even though Kraft is generally more expensive than the store brand, I also had a lot of coupons for their stuff, and they have a good variety, so it was easy to do.

Here's the breakdown:

Items purchased: 109
Coupons used: 18
Total spent: $320.43
Coupon savings: $18.70
Bonus card savings: $55.22
Total saved: $73.92
Percent saved: 19%
Gas savings: $.30 per gallon

PLUS, a free ticket to Hershey! Woot! If you count that in my savings since I would have had to buy one, anyway, I really saved $118.92, or 30% of my bill. Not too shabby!


I made some new jewelry yesterday!

Now, since this is my 301st post. To reward those of you who have joined up and stuck around, I'm doing a giveaway! In one week, I will draw a name from the comment-bin, and the winner will get this:

Comment away! :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

So Much For That! ...but at least there's pictures.

Remember how I was all, 'I'm getting a vacation!' last week because the kids were going to be busy this week?

That was before I remembered that this week is decoration for VBS at our church. Sigh.

So, after running all kinds of errands yesterday morning, I went there for the afternoon before getting Patrick from camp, taking him to get some dinner and then to karate. Today I dropped him off and went straight there, and just came home about a half hour ago at 2:15. I am wiped. At least I didn't have to bring the kids like last year, though, which was nice. DH is picking Patrick up on his way home from work tonight, so I don't have to go back out today, which is good because the house is an utter dog-hair-covered wreck. As soon as I get some energy back, I'll be vacuuming and dealing with the laundry.

Hair?! We no have no stinking hair!

Patrick's having a great time at camp. Yesterday they played in a creek, swam, went on a horseback ride, did a treasure hunt, and did some 'jousting', since it's pirate theme week at the camp. I haven't heard from Josie, but I assume she's having a fabulous time. I miss her, but I'm not going to call, because I want to let her do this on her own without her Mommy butting in. Besides, cell phone conversations with her never go well, since it's hard to hear her little voice, anyway.

Last night was Patrick's first time in the big kid karate class, and it's obviously the right place for him. He did really well, and really, it's just hilarious watching all these little kids do their exercises. For instance, they were doing jumping jacks, moving front, back, right and left. Half the kids don't seem to know R from L, so they were all crashing into each other, plus they look more like electrocuted frogs than boys doing jumping jacks! All the parents were cracking up watching them.

See these eggs? They are in one of my my hanging geraniums on the front porch. They're sparrow eggs. I have no idea how long it'll be before they hatch, but I imagine that we'll know when it happens by the loud PEEPING we'll be hearing around 5am once it does! I know it'll probably kill the plant, but I stuck one of those water globe things in it to keep it watered, and hopefully that'll help. I really don't want three nice, lush plants hanging there and one big, ugly dead one hanging right in the front.

I made these last night while I was watching Jon and Kate, which I haven't watched in years but kind of wanted see last night, with what they were probably going to announce. Anyway, I had originally made these a couple of weeks ago at the bead company in town, but I didn't like how they came out, so I went to AC Moore yesterday and picked up the necessary tools and the little silver dangle beads and put these together by myself! It was so fun! I love being able to get exactly what I want, and the exact length I want. I have some other things I'm going to make too, since the store had some beginner kits on clearance that had stones and shells I liked for cheaper than it would have been to buy them separately. My next step is going to be to take a wiring class, so I can learn to do funky wire wraps with stones, etc.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Seriously Kickin'!!

Yesterday was a GOOD day.

Josie was invited to go swimming at a local pool with a friend, and it stretched out into an all-day thing. One child gone = no fighting!!!

Patrick behaved himself all day, walked the dogs with me, and had his first karate class last night. It was the cutest thing EVER! There were about seven boys ages 5-6, and all had their little uniforms on (except Patrick, who was taking a free trial class, and hadn't gotten one yet). They looked adorable, and listening to them yell 'ACE!' in their little voices as they did side kicks against tiny punching bags was just hysterical. Patrick was SO in his element, which was nice to see since he's a little harder for me to figure out sometimes. He's shy about displaying emotion, so if you ask him about something to closely, he stops talking, whether he liked something or not, and you can never be sure if the answers he's giving you are true or if he just wants you to shut up already. Actually seeing him so obviously enjoying himself was so cool. The place has an observation deck above the training area, so you can watch without being intrusive, and the teachers were wonderful with the kids. The main guy, whose name I've already forgotten, was firm but fun, and was visibly interested in making sure the kids had a good time. You could tell that he actually likes children, which I think is so important, and at the end of the class, he gave what you could tell was a weekly short speech on not to use karate anywhere other than the gym because that would be what? (the kids shouted, 'bullying') and bullying is not what a karate master wants to do. So, that was nice. After the class was over, the sensei talked to us, and said that he thinks Patrick would be fine in the older class (ages 7+) because this one was too slow for him, and I agreed, but it was nice to hear another adult say it. Also, it was nice to see that he *is* really ready for that. I think I forget sometimes that a) he's not his sister, who has always been very concerned and in tune with people's feelings and fairly mature for her age, and b) just because he's advanced in other areas, it's easy to forget that he's actually still little, and his behavior while seemingly freakish is normal for a boy his age. Phew. So, we signed him up for the 7+ class, which is a little longer as well, and meets twice a week.

THEN, get this, Josie's friend Kira called and invited her to go camping with their family at an awesome local camping resort (it's called Jellystone) next week! They leave Sunday around noon and will be back Friday afternoon.

Know why this is especially cool?

PATRICK HAS CAMP NEXT WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All day long!!!! So, I will be free from 8:30 - 5!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Holy kick ass, Batman!!!!

Then this morning the kids and I took the dogs to the C&O Canal for a walk, and found a small boat-launching site where we could stand shin-deep in the water while the dogs swam in the deeper sections on their extendable leashes. Next time, we'll definitely bring floating toys for them to fetch. Last year, Baci was totally confused when he tried to swim, and kept holding his head above the water like a ninny. This year, he took right too it, and Delilah did pretty well, too, especially for her first time. I love being with them when they swim, they look so happy and cute! Next time I might let Dilly be off her leash, since she's not interested in running off and the area's pretty secluded, but Baci seemed like he was ready to swim off to the Potomac, so he may have to stay on his leash for awhile. :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Zoom! Updates Galore! (with photos, you know you like photos)

It's been awhile! I've been so busy, I hardly know where to start, so let's just revert to bullet-style, shall we? Hrm?

Oh, good, I love when we agree!

Thing 1: My poor, poison-ivy covered SIL Jen came over this weekend with the kids. They stayed over Sat-Sun, b/c my BIL is away for his two-weeks-a-year (but really they invade his life every, single, effing day). Since Sun was a family gathering at Kathy's (the other SIL, which I'll get to in a minute), who lives closer to me, rather than driving here and back on Sat, and there and back on Sun, they all stayed here and we had a blast (other than her itching). We went to the bead company store for her belated birthday gift and made jewelry in the morning, and then went strawberry picking in the afternoon with all the kids. That night we played Raving Rabbids TV Party on Wii (if you haven't played it, and you have a Wii, you MUST GET IT, because you will pee your pants laughing) until after midnight.

Thing 2: The gathering at my SIL Kathy's house was, as expected, totally unpleasant. I literally can't eat when I'm there, so I didn't have dinner at all (we always just do a cookout potluck buffet thing when we're there, so it wasn't like we were inside at a table and it was glaringly obvious that I didn't eat anything). I ended up holding one of the twin babies most of the time I was there because she was being fussy. I still don't feel terribly connected to them, but I'm trying. I am definitely not emotionally over the email freak-out they did on me, and also I saw what is now the babies' room for the first time. It used to be Ryan's room, and this is the first time I haven't been able to go in there and just sit amongst his stuff and mentally talk to him. He was cremated, so there's no cemetary or headstone or bench to go to, and now that his room is finally changed, it was almost like losing him all over again, which was hard, to say the least. Between that and feeling like you could cut the tension between my BIL and I with a knife, I was near vomiting the entire time. DH said that he really never wants to go there again, because it's so filthy and because it makes me so unhappy, but I don't see how we'd get out of it. If the family is gathering there, we'll just have to make the best of it.

Thing 3: I threw caution to the wind and bought a new couch!

It looks a lot like this one, except instead of
the loveseat on the right, it has three full seats. The back of both middle seats (right and left sides) fold down to make a table, and four of the seats recline. It is SO COMFY!!! It'll be here on the 26th, and I'm so excited!

I have to admit to a little bit of buyer's remorse in that it was expensive, and we could have used the money to pay towards some credit cards, but our current couch is eight years old, and isn't really comfy anymore, while the oversized sleeper-chair that is next to it has almost totally fallen apart, even though it's only about five years old. Plus, we only have seating for four or five at the moment in the living room, depending on how cozy you want to be, and that's not really good for when you have company. We may actually take the corner piece of the sectional and set it in the corner of the room, and use the other two pieces as separate couches since there are arms on both sides of each piece. It was the same price to get both couches alone as it was to get the group, so we got it, and we'll see what happens. If we use it as a corner piece, we won't use our end tables anymore, and I kind of like them, so we'll see what happens.

Thing 4: Patrick is SO grounded. He left the house yesterday AGAIN without telling me!!!! He trotted on down the street with a much older boy who had stopped by out of boredom, when I thought they were out on the front porch! I had a HEART ATTACK. I was literally out in the street calling for him at the top of my lungs, hoping he was still within shouting distance, trying not to freak out. Luckily, he had 'only' gone as far as my friend Megan's house, about seven houses away, so he did finally hear me and come running. I burst into tears, and then he did, too, which I thought was slightly redeeming until I realized it was because he was afraid that he was going to get grounded (well, duh). So, he spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in his bed, until about 9pm, when DH let him get up to say hello to a couple members of the touring Kantorei Boy's Choir, who were staying with us last night after a performance at our church. Other than that, there will be no friends and no computer useage until he goes to camp on Monday.

Thing 5: I've been appointed the vice-chair of the worship committee at church. This is sort of a big deal, since that committee is really an assembly of all the committee heads in the building, like the people in charge of children's activities, music programming, holiday activities, decoration, finance, etc). It'll be an interesting way to learn about the workings of the structure of the church. The chair is an elder, and when he's ready to leave, I assume I'll be chair if I want to be. We also get to appoint people to positions, and if we don't like how a committee is being run, theoretically we could replace them, although I can't imagine doing such a thing since I know all the people. So, now I'm vp of the pta, and of this, too. Huh. Maybe I should run for office, while I'm at it.

Thing 6: I finally started wallpapering the dining room, and it looks awesome!!!! There will eventually be a chair rail around the bottom, which I'll probably paint cream.

Thing 7
: Over at Literally Booked, another author stopped by!! This time it was Lisa Genova, author of Still Alice, which I loved. She said the nicest things about my review, and I was so flattered!! It's really hard for me not to go all Sally Field when someone like that makes nice comments on there, because they like me, they really like me!

Thing 8: Josie's piano teacher told her this afternoon that she has a rare gift and will make a truly talented musician. It was hard not to run over and kiss him, but I restrained myself. :)

I think that's it. See? Lots. Aren't you glad it was in easily-skimmed bullet format? I knew you would be. You're welcome!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sticky Kid Friend Situations

I am entering into some sticky kid-friend situations.

Problem #1: Patrick's friend, Seth, is a lovely boy. He's polite, and sweet, and generally pleased to do anything. He even loves our big dogs, and runs around the house playing tag with them and Patrick. Great, right? You wanna know why he's not afraid of dogs? Because his family has PIT BULLS. Why do I know this? Because he came over to me and told me that our dogs were good, but his isn't. I asked him what his dog did, thinking it ate his shoes or something, and he said, 'oh, when you point your finger at it, it bites your finger.' That's when I asked what it was, assuming it was a small dog, since they live in a VERY small townhouse, since he still has all his fingers, and that's when he said it's a pit bull - boxer mix. I am not against pit bulls, or boxers, in an appropriate environment. I think both can be lovely dogs, depending on the breeder and family situation. HOWEVER! Now that Seth has slept over at our house, reason determines that Patrick will probably be invited to go over there relatively soon. There's NO WAY I want him in that house (where, by the way, Seth has been allowed to watch all manner of slasher movies, because he was telling me all about Jason, Freddie and Michael Myers), but how do I approach this? I mean, WE have dogs, so I can't say that we're afraid of dogs. I'm not sure I can say, 'well, your boy told me that your dog bites him, and I love my baby's face, and want it to stay PUT'. What am I gonna do?!

Problem #2: The severely autistic boy down the street, Teddy, who pushed Patrick off of the playset, really likes Patrick. Patrick has been over there since the accident, to play with Teddy's older sister, with Josie. This morning, Teddy and his mother showed up on our doorstep because Teddy wanted to come over. Urm. There are several issues with this. One, I'm not sure I'm comfortable having Teddy here, with his obvious disconnect from cause-and-effect situations. Two, Patrick doesn't like Teddy all that much, for obvious reasons. Three, when I talked to Patrick about the situation, he said that he's OK with being with Teddy at his house, but he doesn't want him in our house because Teddy breaks things frequently by accident and he doesn't want his things getting broken (like our Wii, or, you know, Patrick's arm, which just stopped needing the air cast yesterday). Plus, he's unsure about animals, and it worries me what he'd do if he didn't want them near him (ie throwing things, kicking, screaming, etc, all things I've seen and heard him do from all the way down the block at our place). What do I do about this? I don't want to hurt Teddy's feelings, or his mother's. She's perfectly nice, and our kids do play there, so it's only fair that they could come here. But I will have to follow them around constantly, which to me is more like babysitting than a playdate, and Patrick is perfectly within his limits saying that he doesn't want his things to get broken. Also, I can't really say that his sister can come by anytime, but he can't. This morning, we were honestly on our way out the door, so it wasn't an issue, but I know this is going to come up again. I don't know what to do.

Issue #3: My friend Megan, who lives about a block away, has a large building that has been converted into apartments as a neighbor. One new tenant has a dog (yet another pit bull mix, what IS IT with these people!??!) that has been getting loose and busting through the shrubs onto their property, and getting loose in the alleyway that runs behind their houses, going into other yards as well. It's gotten so bad that her one daughter is afraid to play in her own yard. It hasn't acted aggressively towards the children (yet), but the one time Megan was sitting on her deck by herself and it came over, she didn't know what to do since it was blocking her only exit, and she just held out her hand and said, 'hi, good dog'; it growled at her and left. That doesn't exactly inspire a warm feeling. Our kids play there a lot. Megan's husband has reported the situation to the building's management company, and one of their other neighbors has gotten in the owner's face a little and told him that if it happens again, he's calling the police. Well, it's happened again, but the guy wasn't around. Megan's not a very forceful person, and doesn't want to call the police. I, however, AM, and I would more than happily call the police if I had ever seen it happen. As yet, I have not, but now I'm nervous. I've talked to my kids about staying away from strange animals, but having a strange dog of a breed like that bursting into the yard isn't, uh, optimum. What to do? Thankfully, I haven't seen it near our part of the neighborhood. I'm nervous to be anywhere near there with my dogs now, since a loose pit bull around boisterous labs is probably not a good situation. Suck.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fun AND Educational? Complete with photos!

I have been searching around for a long time, trying to find summer bridge activities for the kids that are also a) fun and b) not so easy that they're barely worth doing. I've found some of the readily-available versions, like the ones actually *called* Summer Bridge, and another set called Summer Smarts, but they didn't look terribly fun, and didn't have exercises for every day, which to me doesn't seem like it's establishing a good enough routine. The SB book in particular only had fifteen worksheets in each of three subjects, divided into sections, and they were standard, rote reading and math stuff. Bor-ring. Plus, the initial days were so easy that about half of the book would be a waste. I mean, if your kid has completed kindergarten but is at a risk of forgetting how to count, you're in a dire situation that needs more than a workbook.

What I found, finally, at Barnes and Noble, were these:

I love these! There are two books for each rising grade, one with pages marked with daily activities and another with just fun sheets for them to do. I think what I like best about them is that the topics they cover are varied, like there's math, but also weather and geography and storytelling.

For instance, a few days into the book, rising first grade has this as an activity:

simple alphabetizing and adding the last letter to words, plus suggestions for things to do on your own if you want a challenge

While rising fifth graders get this:
synonyms using hinky pinks and money math

They're different kinds of activities, and are more like a game in a lot of instances, which make the kids more willing to do them. Patrick actually asked if he could do MORE than his two sheets (1 day = one side of a sheet from each book). They're the perfect solution for him, in particular, since he's so far above grade level in reading and math, I was having a harder time figuring out what to do for his bridge activities - to get him the regular 1st grade stuff, which was too easy, or second grade, which might be too hard at the end of the books. Each one also has a reading list suggestion section and ideas for projects you can do at the back of the book. These were about six dollars each, and you can also find them on Amazon.

I also wanted to get some new games to play to help Josie be more fluent in math. She's pretty good at it, but hates learning rote facts, and gets bored easily. I found these:

this is the back of the World Almanac box

The math war is prety self-explainatory, but the World Almanac game looks really fun! It's a box of cards with challenges on them, like the one on the back of the box that shows the pyramid with the dots: you have to use a certain set of numbers, and each side has to add up to the same total, and you can only use each number once. This particular set is for ages 9-11; there was a set for ages 5-7 at the store, but it was WAY too easy for kids going into 1st grade from what I could see, like naming colors and stuff. It seemed like it would be good for preschoolers, though. We haven't actually played with these yet, but I'm hoping to use them at dinner tonight. I really think that Patrick will be able to use them, too, if he works with one of us, and I think he might even be able to use the mult. war cards, too, because he understands the basic idea of multiplication. We do have regular math war cards, too, so we can always use those. Now that I'm looking on Amazon, I don't see this particular set on there, but I do see science ones and geography ones, which I will probably order at some point. They're $10 a box.

Finally, while we were at the store, I found this for my FIL for father's day, and I think it's hysterical:

It is SO funny. It's all about going to the doctor and thinking you're OK and ending up with all these tests and medications and doctors, but told in Dr. Seuss's silly way. :)

Monday, June 8, 2009


I am so mad I can't see straight.

That F#@$%@#$ing hot tub is doing the SAME DAMN THING that it did *before* we dropped (are you sitting down?) $850 to get it all fixed up and ready to go this year, two weeks ago. That's right, $850!!!!!! which was *WAY* more than he had led me to believe it was going to cost. He acted all surprised that it had come to that, but guess what? The difference was the $330 in labor he charged me! ARGH! He was only here, over two visits, for MAYBE three hours. Even with travel time, which I don't think I should have to pay for, that would still be almost $100 an hour! PLUS, I found out that he marks things up 100%!!! I found the same filters we use, and bought from him, for literally half the price online. I know people need to mark things up, but ?DOUBLE?! Saturday was when I realized the thing was busted again (the error message was the same, and the heat pump, which is what we just replaced, was burning hot again, just like last time, when I took the front panel off), the temp was down to 68, meaning it's probably been down for about a week. Had we known that it was going to cost that much, we probably never would have fixed it in the first place, since that's most of the way to a pool membership at the hoity-toity pool place here in town. SO, I drained the thing, washed the filters, suctioned out the pump area with a wet vac just in case one of the kids' toys somehow got in there (which is essentially impossible), and refilled it, just in case that was the problem. NOPE. So, we now have a sparkling clean, beautiful piece of shit sitting on the side of the house.

I called the guy and left a message saying that after two weeks, it's doing the exact same thing, and for $850 I expected better. I said that I want him to come out here and fix it, and if it's not right this time, we're getting rid of the tub (the implication being that he will lose our business, which after he fixes it this time, he will have anyway, but I'm not telling him that until it's working again). He'd better not be expecting to charge me, either, because I'm not paying him one. red. cent. Oooooh, that burns me UP!

My only other thought is that it might be the wiring, which there is no way to repair, since the previous owner wired it and then built the deck ON TOP OF THE WIRING so you can't get to it. Oooh, I hate that guy!!! Come to think of it, that's probably what it is, or at least what the repair guy is going to say it is. Although the electrician said that the ampage was adequate.... we're probably going to end up getting rid of the thing in the end, which makes me even MORE furious, since we've sunk all that money into it for NOTHING!

Which leads us into my other weekend story of messed-upedness. When I went to rip up the rest of the carpet in the attic on Saturday, guess what? Mr. Previous Owner glued and screwed subflooring OVER THE HARDWOOD FLOORS UP THERE. There is no way to get it off without destroying the floor underneath. Now, I can't swear that the floor underneath is perfect, but my feeling, based on how badly he screwed up his other projects around here by cutting corners (outdoor outlets missing GFCs, crappily wired hot tubs, etc), is that he was just being lazy somehow and didn't want to repair a board or two before laying carpet. So, now that's what we're going to have to do, too - replace the w/w up there rather than removing it entirely. :( At least I'll get to put new carpeting up there, I suppose, and it *is* a little fun to pick out carpeting.

So, instead of that, I went through the whole room and got rid of stuff no one used anymore, put other stuff, like the small multipurpose fooseball/airhockey/pool table in storage up there, and rearranged the whole place so it works a lot better, and isn't crowded anymore. I also installed a new air conditioner up there, since the old one wasn't working well enough to fill the large space.

The a/c instructions gave me the best laugh of the whole day. They were obviously packed in China or somewhere, because the lable on the plastic wrapper covering the instruction packet, I kid you not, said,

"assy instructions"


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

End o' the Year Stuffs

Before and after:

Aug 2008

June 2009

The chillins are officially out of school for the year! Josie is now a fifth-grader, and Patrick is a first-grader. Holi crapioli.

Unfortunately, Josie's had a rough day. She was nearly crying when she got into the car, because the kids found out today that their principal, who was very popular, has been transferred to another school, and that school's principal will be coming here. I don't know if Mrs. P just found out yesterday, since the letter home stated that it was accounced at the school board meeting last night, or if she knew she was going somewhere but didn't want to talk about it until she knew where, or what, but that was kind of a crappy surprise to dump on the kids at the end of the last day. She did go around and say goodbye to all the kids in their classes, which was nice. She'll be missed - she is the kind of principal who knows all the children's names and classes, and her door was always open to them.

Then, when we got home, we discovered that Josie had left her bedroom door open, and Delilah (and Baci, too, I assume) trashed it. There were papers and pencil shavings and pieces of her birthday puzzle (which was a beautiful photo of a ship with about a dozen butterflies in the place of sails) all over her room and the upstairs hallway. The final insult was that Delilah had peed on her bed, which has never happened before, but when the dogs get to wrestling hard she generally has to go out right afterwards, and I was gone for five hours, so I imagine she held it as long as she could and then it just burst out. Luckily, it was only on a quilt that was piled up near the bottom of the bed, so we can wash it and it'll be like it never happened.

Other than that, it's been a nice day. I had a thank-you brunch for the MOPS staff that was held by the moms, and we all got plants and little gardening gloves and gifties, and Josie had a very good piano lesson, and tonight I have the annual banquet for choir. I'm only sort of looking forward to the bakquet, because mass-prepared food is never all that great, but it will be nice to hang out with people for awhile and not have to rehearse.

Also, I had a doctor's appointment today, to follow up on my bloodwork, and surprise, my blood sugar has been a little high the last several times it was taken, but Dr. Quack never mentioned it to me, so this was the first I heard of it now that I have a new doctor who actually, you know, sees that I'm a PERSON and all. It's not high-high, just right around 100, so I'm supposed to keep an eye on that. We talked about Zoloft again, and she changed me over to Wellbutrin, which is supposed to help you lose rather than gain, and be more interested in brown chicken brown cow, if you know what I mean. So, I have high hopes that at least this will allow me to stop having to fight so hard just to maintain my weight, and even if it doesn't make me lose weight itself, perhaps I'll be able to do so on my own without Zoloft dragging me ever upwards. I'm encouraged, too, about its helping to remove cravings, since really they are my biggest battle in the food department. Has anyone else used it? If so, what did you experience (and please don't tell me that it made you sprout an extra eyebrow, because that would be just too depressing!!!)?

Monday, June 1, 2009


Today has been another chock full o' stuff day. This morning, the kids and I were all actually up and ready in time to walk to school, so we brought the dogs and did that, and then after a brief breakfast, I went out to...

- get my TB test for substitute teaching

- stop at PetCo for Delilah's new, larger pinch collar (she's big enough that she totally ignores everything else now, which is NOT going so well)

- go to Kohls for a new 'babysuit' for Josie (OK, bathing suit, but that's what she called it when she was little, and I can't stop thinking of it like that! Also ended up getting pretty plasticware half off for outdoor eating - 2 sets each of four bowls, four glasses, and four plates, at $4 apiece. Yay!

- meander through Michaels to get new picture frames for our growing photo wall. They're having a 40% off sale on frames, plus their flyer had an extra 25% coupon in it.

- run into Walmart (GAK) for cheap workout shorts. Gawd, I hate that place.

- pop into Best Buy for photo paper

PHEW. Then, as soon as I got home, I started tackling the carpet removal in the attic. It smelled SO BAD now that more humid air has arrived, and I found out why - it was old, but also there was lineoleum under the stuff on the landing (I only did the staircase today), so anything that was spilled in it (or messed on it, aka Delilah's potty training escapades) ended up puddling there and not really getting to dry right. It was nasty under there. I hate wall-to-wall carpet. The last time we ripped up carpet, two houses ago, the padding underneath had all dry-rotted, and plus there was a huge colony of dead crickets under it from some past infestation the previous owners must have had. I'm going to rip up the rest of the room tomorrow, probably, because now that I've seen what was under the stuff on the stairs, I can't stand it anymore. Plus, the stuff in the room itself is really, really badly stained from spills and whatnot that wouldn't come out when I had the place professionally done before we moved in. It's Berber, which may hold up well to traffic, but is a bear to clean, and it's CREAM, for chrissakes. Need I say more? What's underneath is darker wood, not like what's in the rest of the house, but still good enough to leave on its own with an area rug or two.

Anyway, the first half of the stairs (there are five steep stairs and then a larger landing, and then five or six more stairs) took about two hours because rather than using one whole piece for the set, the guy used individual pieces for each step. He didn't use carpet strips, either - there were about 20 staples in every step. It was a total pain in the ass!!! I had to get the kids as soon as I had that part done and cleaned up, and then I did the rest of the stairs as soon as I got home. Those were all one piece, so it went a lot faster because there were fewer staples and the ones that were there were in better shape, for some reason. Seriously, people, if there was a staple shortage about ten years back, it was totally all this guy's fault. My hands are a sore mess.

My plan for the floor up there is to whitewash it, with floor paint. I think that'll be pretty, but casual, and will cover up any scratches left by God-knows how many nails that are probably in place up there, in a shabby-chic kinda way.

After that was all done, it was time to vacuum the bedroom and main levels of the house, and tidy up the kitchen so we can make dinner in a few.


But, I'm thinking about going to yoga tonight. I haven't gone yet at this new gym, and I'm looking forward to trying it out. The same woman that works there did a couple of sessions at our church before Easter, and she's good. But, I may wait until next week, 'cause I'm wiped, y'all.