Sunday, September 30, 2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Busy weekend

The weekend was absolutely full.

On Friday, my sister came into town to give my mom a break at the hospital. Mom had to go home to do end of the month paperwork at her store, and Lisa came to stay at the hospital with dad. She deserves huge kudos for that. I'm pretty sure she was going stir-crazy within the first 24 hours.

That Company of Skeeter's had a Family Day on Saturday at one of the local state parks. Along with the usual cookout fare, there was moon bounce, a dunk tank, and a bungee-type bounce. Loads of fun! The organizer also got water guns and kites for everyone, and that was a tremendous success! The weather was perfect -- sunny, but not too hot -- and my children had a blast running around. Heck, Skeeter and I had a great time with those water guns.

Afterward, we stopped by the hospital to see Dad. Sass and Spyder brought their treat bags from the Family Day, and Dad decided to wear the little hat. It was so nice to see him in such good spirits, especially after everything he's been through.

After seeing Dad, we went directly to the church to take food for a party on Sunday night. We were there for almost an hour and a half, arranging food in the refrigerators and cleaning the little spills we had made. (Large aluminum pans + baked beans = lots of little spills.)

By the time we got home at almost 7, everyone was exhausted. I'd love to say that we all stayed in and had a relaxing evening, but no.

Sass and I still had to go out to buy tennis shoes for Awana, so she and I headed out to Target, where she tried on every pair of shoes in the store. Yes, that's an exaggeration, but not by much. After we taking far too long on that shopping expedition, I had to go to the grocery store since we were out of important things like coffee and milk. And chicken. The chicken wasn't an issue for me, but Skeeter is determined to be a lifelong carnivore.

I finally was in for the evening at about 10:30, and Skeeter and I sat down to watch Bionic Woman. The premiere episode felt like it was all setup for the series, so I was unimpressed. It seems to have potential though. We'll see.

Now I need to pass Bionic Woman to Michael so he can see it. Poor Michael is going to be cable free since he's getting rid of Comcast (a division of hell), and I suppose it's up to me to keep him current on the television shows.

I was supposed to go to Michael's new apartment and help him unpack today, but his air conditioner has issues -- non-working issues. We decided it might be better to give it a try when we wouldn't be roasting inside the new apartment. Eau de sweat is not a good aroma for the new place.

So instead of working at Michael's, Skeeter and I took the urchins to swim at the Y. We haven't been since Dad was admitted to the hospital, so it was a good escape to be able to go again. I sat in the spa pool for a bit, and it was wonderfully relaxing. Probably a little too relaxing, since afterward I only wanted to lie down and nap.

A nap was out of the question though, since it was time for Awana. We ran home to change into real clothes, and the we were on the way to Awana. The party was afterward, so we didn't leave the church until just after 8:30, an hour later than usual.

The children went to bed almost as soon as we got home. I should have. Instead, I decided to do the dishes and listen to the last bit of my audio book while Skeeter did something for work that had to be done before tomorrow morning. I didn't even try to figure out what it was. His work confuses me most of the time.

Despite the busyness, it really was a good weekend, and an excellent way to move out of September and into October.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Skeeter and me and the TV

Most people don't believe me when I say I don't watch television. But I don't. It's just not something I do. We watch television series on DVD and occasionally I'll turn on the television while I'm folding laundry. I'll usually put in a movie or a book on CD instead of random television though. Pride and Prejudice is usually my laundry-folding choice. Because I'm all cool like that.

Skeeter is just the opposite. He loves to sit down and "flip channels" just because he can. Nothing but fluff and crap, and he'll still flip for more than an hour. I don't get it.

This week, for the first time in more than 8 years, I sat down to watch prime time television. Really!

Skeeter and I watched the premiere episode of Chuck. My reaction -- "eh." It wasn't good enough for an action show, and it wasn't funny enough for a sitcom. Maybe it will get better once the people making it figure which they want it to be. I don't know that I'll be tuning in to find out though.

We also watched the season premiere of Heroes. We just finished watching Season 1 on DVD a few weeks ago. It seems to be starting like the first season did -- lots of set up before you get to the main story line -- so I don't know how I feel about it yet.

We attempted to watch Journeyman, but children interrupted, and we only were able to watch the first 15 minutes or so. Skeeter had set it to record though, so we'll attempt that again. I'm intrigued by the whole premise.

Skeeter has this nifty TIVO-like contraption in his computer so he can record what's on television. I had him record the premiere of Bionic Woman last night since I wanted to go visit Dad at the hospital. The Michael and I discussed that at the hospital, and he told me that he is dumping cable, so he's requested that Skeeter record Dr Who.

I'm somewhat concerned about this whole recording-then-watching thing for us though. It's only been a week, and already I'm behind by two episodes.


The tragedy of man is not that he cannot find happiness, but that he looks for it in the wrong places. Because the desires of man are boundless, no particular good, whether outside himself or in himself, can perfectly satisfy him.

- from Thomas Aquinas' "My Way of Life"

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Susan at Pyles of Clutter has given me the Rockin' Girl Blogger award! I haven't been rockin' in years, so I feel especially flattered!

Before I name my list of rockin' ladies, I'll encourage you to check out Susan's site. Make especially sure to check out the photos of Chile, taken when she went to pick up her son from his mission trip. Very cool!

And so, the list (in no particular order):

1. Piper at Bliss in Bloom, a single working mom (with two super-cute boys) who has a wonderful enthusiasm for living life to its fullest!

2. Julie at Multitasking Mama, one of my dearest friends, who always has more plates in the air than I could manage!

3. Alkelda at Saints and Spinners, a clever lady who makes up some of the wittiest songs and stories I've read! Waiting (somewhat impatiently) for her to produce a CD!

4. Kaleigh at Musings of Another Working Mom, truly a cool and rockin' mom who has two awesome children.

5. Mika at Froggy Girl Designs, crafty, thrifty mom of four boys! I don't know how she has time to be crafty, but I bought one of her CD holders, and it's super cute!

Play along as you wish, but make sure you credit the originator, Roberta Ferguson. The code for the button is in the comments in Roberta's post, but I couldn't get it to work. Perhaps someone can have sympathy on a less technologically savvy girl.

Happy birthday, Julie!

An enthusiastic happy birthday to my dear friend Julie! We've been friends for (gasp!) 11 years now, since we worked in a bookstore together. We don't live in the same town any more, or even in the same region of the country -- utterly my fault, since Skeeter and I were the ones who moved away.

Our schedules don't coincide at all, not even for phone calls, so we don't talk very often. We seem to have moved into that type of long-time friendship that doesn't require daily contact. When we do talk, it feels like we just pick up where we left off. It's wonderful!

Happy birthday, Julie!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Happy birthday, Michael!

A huge birthday shout to The Michael! His birthday wasn't celebrated in high style as it normally is. I was at the hospital with dad. He's moving apartments next week, so he spent the day packing. I saw him very briefly, when I picked up a load of stuff to take to the thrift store for him.

I am told that he intended to spend the evening with friends at his favorite restaurant, a local place with great margaritas. I hope it was excellent!

Happy birthday, Michael!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Learning a foreign language

Sass, Spyder, and I are all learning German this year. We start a homeschool co-op for conversational German in just a couple of weeks. I took three years of it in college, but I haven't used it since, well, college, so I don't remember very much.

I've been coveting the Rosetta Stone German program. Spyder and I used the free download, and it was really, really good. We both loved it, but it's very expensive, so I have to save up for it. I've been looking for other alternatives, but I hadn't had much success until today.

Today I heard about a new site, Mango, via Dumb Little Man. I only signed up today, but it looks promising. And the best part? It's free!

It doesn't look as comprehensive as what I want or need, but it does look like a good supplement to a language study.

Happy learning!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Year Without "Made in China"

I've gotten away from posting reviews of my recent reads, partly because I've been reading more fluff than I want to admit, and partly because I've been retreating into old favorites.

I picked up A Year Without "Made in China" last month while Skeeter was out of town, but I didn't finish it until early last week.

Most people will probably find it surprising, but it was a very easy read. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but good all the same.

A Year Without "Made in China" chronicles a year in the life of the Bongiorni family, one in which they vow not to purchase items made in China. Any parent will sympathize with the author in her troubles with finding toys and shoes for her children without breaking the "no China" rule. And any parent will laugh in reading her sneaky ways of allowing China products into the house to keep the peace. After all, they can accept gifts made in China . . . .

The book is written very much as a chronicle of the family's life, without much digression into global economics. I was actually hoping for a bit more statistical and economic information, but I know that I'm a bit odd in that respect. Spyder is reading it at the moment, and the writing style is easy for him to follow and enjoy. In my bookstore, it was cataloged in the business section, but truly, it's more of a biography.

When I was reading it, Spyder was a bit concerned that I might want to join in this whole "no China" thing. I reassured him that I wasn't planning on it, but the book did make me more aware of what I'm buying and how it got there.

It's not all gloom and doom

Quick update on my dad:

Monday was bad. Badbadbad. He declined rapidly, all day, and the doctors had us gather the family members. I sobbed so much and so hard that my face hurt -- my jaws were sore from clenching them so much; my teeth hurt; my head felt like it was going to explode. My aunt (his only surviving sibling) had a panic attack that night in the waiting room, chills and throwing up so much that we had to take her to the ER.

Tuesday, his decline halted. *poof* Just like that. He was stable and able to communicate all day, as much as possible with charades and eye movements, anyway. It was a lot of guesswork on our part. Toward the afternoon, he had something important to tell us. No one could figure out what it was and it took ages. What was so all important? He couldn't see the television. Oh yeah, that's my daddy!

Wednesday he was stable. Same as Tuesday, but a bit of pain and definitely tired. Whenever I went in, I only stayed a moment, just long enough for him to know I was there, then I left to let him get as much rest as possible.

I haven't been this morning yet. I'll go a bit later, once I do a bit of neglected housework and the children do their schoolwork. Dad is definitely feeling more himself though. He asked for a Coke first thing, then he asked for Skeeter's coffee. :)

They're taking him off the ventilator today, and they're taking the internal blood pressure monitor out. It's still touch-and-go, but it's not as precarious as it was earlier this week.

Prayers work wonders! Again, thank you all so much for the prayers said on his behalf.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

More and more

First, my dad is doing about the same. He is still critical, still on a ventilator. The nurses are encouraged and are encouraging us, but no one is sure of what is going to happen.

To add to the already high stress level, my Memaw had a wreck this morning on the way to church. She's Lutheran, and being Lutheran in the rural South isn't convenient. She drives an hour each way to attend services on Sunday morning. She's also 83, with bad hearing and bad eyesight. We've been telling her for the last few years that she doesn't need to drive any more, but she's stubborn, and she drives anyway. To her credit, she is as safe as possible when she drives -- she never drives at night and she only drives around her very small town, with the exception of church on Sunday morning.

So this morning, she totaled her car, and she was the at-fault driver. Thankfully, the driver of the other car wasn't hurt at all. The ambulance took her to the ER, and she had no broken bones. As far as we know, she's okay, but my aunt is staying with her tonight to make sure that she doesn't have any internal injuries that they didn't detect.

In an interesting bit of irony, my mom, aunt, and uncles had already decided that they were going to take Memaw's car away at the end of October. Maybe this is a blessing and she'll realize that it's for the best because I know she would have argued against it before this.

Thanks so much for all of your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dad update

Dad is doing a bit better than yesterday, although he hasn't improved much. He is in the intensive care unit, and he's still on a respirator. On Friday, his heart rate was extremely high, and his blood pressure was extremely low. Today both his heart rate and blood pressure are more normal and holding pretty steady.

He is still unconscious, but they're no longer sedating him. He was aware of us when we went in to see him, and he was trying to wake up. They have him tied down though, so he won't pull the tubes and wires out. They are slowly weaning him off of some of the medicines (specifically, the one that was helping keep his blood pressure up), and after he can hold his own with the blood pressure, they'll see whether he can breathe on his own.

The doctors were telling us Friday that it would take a miracle for him to pull through. Today they said it's still grim, but they were pleased with the progress he was making. They're not even talking about doing the surgery he initially went in for, although it will have to be done before he can leave.

Thanks so much for your your prayers.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Quick update on my dad

They weren't able to do the surgery this morning. They gave him the anesthesia and his blood pressure plummeted. They did . . . something . . . that's supposed to help bring it up, and they're going to attempt the surgery again tomorrow. They moved dad to ICU, then to a transitional room. I know nothing beyond that.

I'm going to go sit with him a little bit later. My mom has to go home (2 hours away) to do payroll this evening, so I will go to be with him while she's gone.

Skeeter had to write a nasty letter to one of his contractors yesterday, and he's dealing with the fallout today. He's happy to come home and keep the children while I go.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Update on the microwave (or lack thereof)

I love the huge amount of space that is now open since the microwave is missing. My kitchen is quite small, and the huge microwave took up one of my two food prep areas. I've since moved the coffee pot and teapot to that area, so the corner where I do most of my prep is now clear except for the crock of serving spoons and spatulas. I actually had to room to use the crock pot today -- without moving the coffee pot out of the way!

I had a brief moment of uncertainty this morning when I realized that I couldn't reheat the pancakes I'd made and frozen a couple of days ago. Ultimately I put them in the skillet again to reheat, and it worked just fine.

Skeeter has decided that he'll go along with my "crazy idea" for the moment, but only because he thinks I'll give in soon enough.

And the people who know me in real life are laughing like mad. They all remember my stubborn streak and know I'll never cede.

My dear old dad

My dad is having his pacemaker replaced tomorrow. He's had it for just over 10 years, and it's been giving him problem after problem since March.

He and my mom had to miss this big family vacation in July because he was in the hospital with pacemaker issues. In fact, he's spent about six weeks in the hospital so far this year (not counting today's admittance), and every moment can be traced back to pacemaker troubles.

Tomorrow's surgery isn't supposed to be a big deal at all, but I would appreciate any prayers on his behalf.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Death of an appliance

My microwave has waved its last. I'm somewhat sad about it, but only in the sentimental aspect. Skeeter seems to be grieving much more than I.

I got the microwave, a huge Tappan, in the fall of 1992. My roommates and I were seniors that year, so we all moved into the campus apartments. My mom bought the microwave for us as a "happy senior year" gift, and believe me -- we used it.

I'm quite astonished that it lasted this long. Between rowdy college students and rowdy children, it hasn't exactly been treated gently.

Skeeter is grieving because I'm not rushing out to buy another one. I've thought (more than once) about getting rid of it before now, but I haven't been brave enough for that. But now that I don't have a choice, I'm just going to see what happens.

It actually stopped working on Sunday, and I've been thinking about the appliance itself and how we use it. With the single exception of popcorn, everything we use the microwave for is just to save time. I can't see it as a necessity. I even made "Easy Mac" on the stove today! (Hey, it was in the pantry, and I didn't want to (a) throw it out, or (b) buy a new microwave just to make it. And it tasted just fine.)

Now I need to practice making popcorn on the stove. It's been a long time, and I know there will be errors at the beginning.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Happy Birthday, Skeeter!

It was a good day for a birthday.

Yes, yes, it's my dear Skeeter's birthday today. Sundays are always such a difficult day for birthdays. It's just such a busy day for us, and it always seems as if Sunday belongs to the church rather than us.

It was that way today. Skeeter worked in children's church; I worked in the nursery (although I did sneak and listen to about half of the sermon).

Skeeter decided to have lunch at a little Mexican place that we haven't tried in a while. It was good, and they gave him a free margarita since Sass announced that it was his birthday. They took a picture of him for the birthday wall too. In a big ol' sombrero. Funny!

The afternoon consisted of Skeeter playing around on his computer and me folding clothes and baking. We did go get new safety glasses for Skeeter though. He had a visit to the eye doctor on Friday afternoon, and he has a new prescription.

Tonight was the first official night of Awana, and it looks like Skeeter is going to be working with the 3rd and 4th grade boys. He hadn't planned to work Awana this year, but the older boys leader was a little bit overwhelmed.

I baked brownie birthday cookies instead of a cake. Skeeter loves brownies, so I opted for those instead of the messy cake. Tonight after Awana, Sass and Spyder set up a little birthday party for him. It was really cute. They set up the little tables and put all sorts of snacks and drinks out, complete with stuffed animal decorations. They made a birthday banner, and they insisted that the three of us hide and jump out when he came in the room.

One of Skeeter's gifts was an all-in-one game set, and Spyder and Skeeter played a few games of checkers (their favorite) and a game of chess.

Sass spent the evening coloring pictures for Skeeter to hang on his walls at work. In her pink bow and "Indian princess" bead headband and princess nightgown.

I had intended to take a photo of the brownie cookies, but alas, they're gone. Not an unexpected development, but I wasn't anticipating it quite this soon.

Friday, September 07, 2007

It's pear time again!

My next door neighbor has a fantastic pear tree, absolutely loaded with fruit. She's just wonderful about letting us harvest from her tree.

I generally don't let them pick the fruit until I start seeing some on the ground around the tree, and we picked for the first time this week.

The top of the tree is still loaded with fruit, so next we'll have to drag out the ladder. I refuse to climb it, but Spyder is part monkey, so he's thrilled to have the opportunity to climb around a tree legitimately.

We had a big storm a few weeks ago that knocked down part of one of our trees, and obviously it got the pear tree too. The fruit is still plentiful and yummy though.

I found a few excellent recipes last year, so I think I'll try to dig them out again.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Skeeter and That Company

Skeeter started a new job at the beginning of July. He had been a consultant at That Company for about 8 months, and they eventually decided to hire him instead of using a middle man.

Neither one of us realized it at the time, but apparently That Company is a Big Deal. Quite truthfully, I had never heard of it before Skeeter started his consulting gig. But considering how some of the people in his profession act when they find out his employer, it must be a Big Deal. And hey, it's now a Big Deal to me too, since it pays the bills and it got him a nice little discount on my new car.

On Monday when we went to the fair, Skeeter was wearing a baseball cap with the logo for That Company. A young woman noticed the hat and stopped him just after we walked in the entrance, asking, "Hey, do you work for That Company?"

Skeeter said yes, and the woman asked question after question about how to get a job with That Company. That Company is quite a stickler for paper trails and hierarchy, and Skeeter told her that the best way was simply to talk to Human Resources and put in an application. He gave her the website address, and how to go about starting the application process.

I was busy corralling the children, so I didn't pay much attention, but the woman followed Skeeter around the entire time we were in Spyder's brochure area, all the while talking about how much she liked That Company. After he was rather tired of her following him, Skeeter took Spyder and went to the livestock area, leaving Sass and me behind to look around the arts and crafts a bit longer.

I found out later that the woman had followed him all the way through the livestock pens. She eventually gave up her idea of subtlety and asked straight out if he had another hat that she could have. He said no (and he really didn't have an extra), and a few minutes later she finally gave up and moved along.

I'm a little disconcerted by the woman's perseverance. I had no idea that That Company had groupies.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Fair

The Tri-County Fair is the fair of my childhood. This weekend my children were able to experience it. We've taken them to many different outdoor festival-type gatherings, but they had never been to a small country fair like this, and it gave me a strange pleasure to be able to give them the same "first" that I had.

My parents were never big fair-goers. It has always opened on Labor Day -- at least in my memory -- and we never went then. Labor Day has always been a day for a family gathering for us, partly because it's right around my mom's birthday.

When my mom and dad took me, it was always one night during the week after they'd gotten home from work. Because we generally went at night, the lights stand out most in my memory -- lights brightening the otherwise dingy rides; lights making the cheap game and toy stands seem a bit more welcoming; lights seeming overly bright at the food vendor carts, blinding compared to the surrounding dimness. Skeeter and I took the children at midday, so they weren't able to see those lights that burn so vividly in my memory.

The children did get to experience that quintessential dining experience that IS the fair. A middle America fair just isn't complete without cotton candy, a funnel cake, and lemonade. My parents seldom got any of those, but to me they are just as much a part of the fair as the rides or the smell of the livestock. Or perhaps I see it that way because they usually didn't get those treats.

At any rate, the Tri-County Fair was exactly as I remember it. The entrance is lined with booths from various organizations -- the police department, the fire department, churches, a local state park . . . . Spyder was in brochure heaven. I'm not sure why he is so fascinated with brochures, but he is, and he collects them at every possible opportunity. He had a field day in that section.

The booth exit leads to the entrance to the arts and crafts building, where all of the various contest entries are displayed. As a child, I always found this section was always the most boring, but as an adult, I found it fascinating. My favorite display was the flowers, but not for the flowers themselves. They weren't displayed in vases, but in glass and plastic bottles. Many were in plastic water bottles, but for some reason I was enamored with the ones displayed in the soda bottles. Even now, I'm wondering if I could get away with displaying flowers that way on the mantel -- in my most assuredly "non-country" home.

After the arts and crafts was the obligatory livestock visit. Personally, seeing and smelling chickens, cows, goats and bunnies isn't a big part of my "must-dos" on a normal day, but the fair isn't any normal day. We spent more time than necessary wandering around the smelly chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. I could have handled a little bit more of the bunnies, and the cows were glad to be rid of us. Two boys about Spyder's age who were there just before us spent their time teasing one of the cows (with a calf!) and that cow hated Spyder on sight, probably because he looked a little like the other boys. They were all wearing baseball caps and denim shorts, and I'm pretty sure that the cow wasn't interested in the little details like faces. She wasn't at all concerned when Sass and I were nearby, but she was annoyed and angry any time Spyder was in her line of vision.

The only place to go after the booths and prize winners is the midway -- food and rides. Spyder and Sass said they were dying of thirst, so we headed to one of the food vendors and bought -- you guessed it -- a lemonade, a funnel cake, and a cotton candy. Wandering around came next, of course, and Sass decided that she absolutely must ride a little carousel with dragons. We went on "armband day" where one can buy an armband for $12 and ride the rides all day. We weren't staying long, so I bought $10 worth of tickets for the two children to share rather than the armbands. Sass never did make it to the dragon carousel, but both of the children had a blast in the "Jungle of Fun" and at the big slide exactly like they have at The Bounce. Spyder and Sass used all but one ticket before we left, and I gave the extra ticket to a little boy without an armband on our way out.

The whole adventure took all of two hours and $20. I think we're going to make my small-town fair an annual tradition.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Blatant catch-all post

  • On Friday night, Spyder was climbing the tree (as usual) and poked a branch into his eye. I took him to the doctor on Saturday, and he had scratched his cornea right over the pupil. (Ouch!) The doctor prescribed antibiotic drops for him, and he spent most of the weekend on the couch, listening to audio books or listening to Skeeter or me read to him. He's pretty much back to normal now, although he's still taking the drops for another few days.
  • Saturday was a completely at-home day, besides the trip to the doctor. Sass and Skeeter were feeling kind of puny, and Spyder was definitely not feeling so great. It was a quiet day for us, and I got some organizational things completed that had been bothering me.
  • Sunday was another quiet day. Sass and Skeeter were still feeling sickly, and Spyder was embarrassed by the eye-patch, so we skipped church in the morning. Thankfully, Skeeter and I weren't scheduled to work in any ministry that day, so I didn't have to find replacements.
  • Monday was Labor Day, so Skeeter didn't have to work (YAY!). We went to see my parents that day. My sister and her boyfriend came for a surprise visit. Mom's birthday is tomorrow, so they took advantage of the long weekend to get to see her.
  • Skeeter and I took the children to the little Tri-County Fair near my hometown. It was everything I remember, just smaller. That's a post in itself.
  • Sass was sick again today. Today's came with a fever though, so she spent the morning on the couch, alternately watching Strawberry Shortcake and snoozing. She started feeling better around noon, and by dinnertime she was back to normal. Tonight she realized that she hadn't done her schoolwork today, and I had to remind her that she was in no condition to do it this morning during our usual schooltime. It was bothering her though, so she did her work tonight after dinner.