Thursday, January 31, 2008

Because I am an odd Anglophile

I read The Sun occasionally. Not every day, but once a week or so. Certainly often enough to say that, yeah, I'm a reader. (I can't believe I'm admitting that. Talk about a tabloid!)

Today, this is on the front page. And it made me laugh.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Not sure I would have stopped to Google that

I love Home-Ec 101. Yes indeedy. It's one of my faithful reads, just because it's so full of great tips and information.

Seriously. The cookie-a-day thing they had going on in December. My taste buds were thankful. My hips? Not so much.

Today's post? Not helpful, but so funny I'm glad I use a saucer for my coffee. Go check out their latest post on the search queries that led people to their site. Note especially that last bullet point.

Um, yeah.


Sass has been quite the budding photographer lately, and two of her favorite subjects are the dogs. I like these two photos, even if both dogs do have that "could you get that stinkin' camera out of my face" look about them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

So, my little Sassafrass is now 6

It was a small birthday celebration, just family, but I think she enjoyed it all the same. After all, it was a day that was All About Her. (She prefers every day to be that way.)

In honor of my girl at her sixth birthday, six things I love about my Sass:
  1. Her singing. If my girl is content, she's singing. I love to hear it because I know she's happy.
  2. Her willingness to help. She is always the one who wants to help me, whether it's cooking dinner or picking up trash in the yard.
  3. Her caring nature. My Sass is quite the diva. No mistake about that. But she truly does care about how others are treated, and she sticks up for her friends.
  4. Her creativity. Sass is quite the budding artist. Something sparked in the last year, and I'm amazed at how her artistic skills have grown.
  5. Her enthusiasm. Once Sass gets an idea, she throws herself into it completely. I love to see her so excited and enthusiastic.
  6. Her love. What can I say? She's my best girl. I love her beyond measure, and it's a joy to know that she returns the feeling.

Yeah! Something new!

Every single time I've decided to write something, the internet has been kaput.

Mr Michael Smartypants says, "So open up a Word document and write it there." Well, yeah, I could. But -- ya know -- it should work when I want it to, not when it's convenient for the ISP. And when I sit down at the computer (at a time that is convenient for me, I might add), by golly, I want it to work. If it doesn't, I'm angry. And whatever I had on my mind is *poof* gone. Bare. Like the trees in winter.

But here are a few bullet points, in case the ol' ISP isn't agreeable to posting more later.
  • My Sass is now 6 years old. Unbelievable.
  • My bookstore hosted a massive birthday party for Elmo on Saturday. We had at least 70 children there. We stopped counting at 70, anyway. There were easily 120+ people there. And our children's section isn't all that big. It was great fun though.
  • Spyder has started hustling money for magic tricks. He made $6 tonight. I'm on the line between proud and appalled.
  • Skeeter has been working 19 hour days for the last 5 days. (And, nope, he doesn't get paid overtime.) And he got confirmation today that That Company isn't giving bonuses this year. For the first time in 32 years. Yay. The rumor had been floating around for the last week or two, but the official word came today.
  • Our new CVS opened this week, but I haven't had time to go. I've been so excited about it too. We used to shop at CVS when visiting Skeeter's parents, and I always found cool stuff there. A friend is the CVS Bargain Queen, and she's given me the scoop on the best savings plan. I'm hoping to try it out tomorrow.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Raising them to appreciate the finer things in life

We got the first disc in the mail today from Netflix. I had told them yesterday that I had put it as #1 in our queue, mentioning how much I liked it when I was little. Once we got past the initial snarky comments from Spyder during the opening credits -- "Oooh, Mom! I can see why you loved this. Those special effects are awesome!" (snort) -- we watched the whole thing.

It is some seriously cheezy stuff. But fun. Definitely fun, even when you're making fun of the effects and acting and story line while throwing Cheerios at the screen.

We'll see how long this lasts

I am so mad at my ISP that I could bite nails.

We've been having internet issues for over a week now. (Partly the reason for my little break since it never worked when I had time.) Spotty service -- in for an hour, out for three -- plus, we could receive email through Outlook but not send. All in all, the whole thing has been unreliable at best.

We have a little family website, really nothing more than a portal for our frequently used sites and such. But it does allow us to have our own domain for email addresses. Our ISP had decided to block the port that we were using for outgoing email.

The domain was fine. Skeeter checked that first since the server had experienced an outage not long ago. The problem was definitely with the ISP, so we called customer service. (Crazy idea! Calling the ISP customer service for a problem obviously on their end!)

The goon on the "customer service" line (HA!) was no help. He spent 15 minutes of a 20 minute call telling us that we should be using the email address they provide. Skeeter asked for a supervisor (uh, twelve times!). When the guy finally said he'd check, of course, one was "not available." After listening to my little tantrum, Skeeter searched around on the internet and figured out that the port was blocked. Change a few little numbers and presto! We can now send mail!

Well, we could until this morning at about 9:30 when the whole thing went out. And it was out all day, continuing through until we left for the evening at about 6:30. It was back on when we got home at 10.

It's been on for three hours now. I'm not keeping my hopes up though.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I like her logic

SASS: I want to go to New York.

ME: Really? Why New York?

SASS: (looking at me as if I'd lost my ever-lovin' mind) You know. New York. I'd get all new stuff.

Wherein I once again astound my daughter

(at bedtime, discussing the day)

ME: So, what was your favorite part of today?

SASS: Going to Olivia's house to play. That was good.

ME: That was fun, wasn't it? We need to do that more often.

SASS: Why do you like going to Olivia's house? You don't run around and play like we do.

ME: Oh, I like talking to Mrs Brenda. She's my friend, just like Olivia is your friend.

SASS: (gasp!) You mean grown ups have friends too? I didn't know that!

ME: Well of course! I've been friends with The Michael since I was 12. And I've been friends with Michael Ann since I was 6!

SASS: You mean one day Olivia and I will be old too?! Wow!

ME: Oh girl. You do know how to make a mama feel good.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Life List

I loved Vanessa's "Life List" term in her comment to my original post, so I'm stealing adopting it.

Skeeter and I are still working on them, but here are a few that are on both of our lists:

  • Visit all 50 states
  • Become a published author
  • Earn a Ph.D.
  • Revisit the UK
  • Revisit Germany and Switzerland
  • Walk part of the Appalachian Trail
  • See the Pacific Ocean
  • See the Aurora Borealis
  • Live outside of the US for at least a year

Grand? Yes, but if you're going to dream, do it right.

Rorschach brownies revisited

Ah, the brownies. The question everyone wants answered! Sass did use a Christmas tree cookie cutter, but I didn't notice that at first.

The first thing that came to mind for me was Edvard Munch's The Scream. I think that's because of the way I approached it though. I saw it from the side at first, and it was a bit distorted with the parchment paper underneath. It's not nearly as obvious when looking straight at it.

My second thought was immediately Herman Munster from The Munsters, quickly followed by Frankenstein. (Tina, you got that one spot on!)

Who knew that my Sass could be so talented with just a Christmas tree cookie cutter? :)


I am back. Not that I went anywhere. I just stepped away and stopped sharing for a bit. But now I'm back to stun everyone with new levels of mediocrity.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was our most recent audiobook. I remembered reading it as a child -- appropriately when I was about in fourth grade -- and I remembered that I enjoyed it, but I had forgotten just how much I loved it.

Spyder is in the fourth grade. That, combined with my memories, made me pick it up on impulse last week. We had just finished The Castle Corona, so we were looking for a new book for the car anyway.

The book is read by the author, and she does an excellent job of giving life to the characters. While the book shows us Peter's point of view, I always think of Fudge, the younger brother, as the main character. My children were absolutely enthralled while listening to his antics.

So far we've listened to the book twice, and they are now (impatiently) awaiting Superfudge on audio.

Rorschach brownies

Spyder made brownies this afternoon, and Sass attacked them before I realized it. What do you see in the brownie art that she left behind?

I had three things come to mind -- in rapid succession -- but I want to hear what you think first!

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Bucket List

While I'm not particularly interested in seeing the movie, the I love the idea of a list of "things to do before I kick the bucket."

Skeeter and I are working on ours. I'll post them soon.

In the meantime, what's on yours?

A little gem

Tonight while I was surfing around, I happened upon Dylan Thomas reading "Do Not Go Gently into That Good Night" at

To my joyful surprise, I found a nice-sized audio section of poems, each read by the author.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Where to begin

The weekend was full. Fun, but absolutely full.

On Friday, the urchins and I went back to my parents' house. Skeeter had gotten a 16 pound ham (!!) from one of the contractors. My cousin owns a bar-b-que shop (here in the south, most of us seem to have a relative or close friend who has just such a place), and I had taken it to him on Wednesday to cook. My dad and I feasted on the ham Friday afternoon, and it was fab-u-lous.

The children and I didn't get home until about 7 pm, when we had our usual pizza and movie night. We were rather tired from the day though, so we didn't play a game in addition to the movie.

On Saturday morning, the whole family went to the bookstore. I wasn't working, but Curious George was going to be there. Curious George is one of Sass' favorites, so we couldn't miss it. She loved it. Spyder is always glad to be in a bookstore, and Skeeter is all about coffee, so it was good all around.

We stayed quite a bit later than expected, mostly because the manager and I were discussing strategies for the new boys club based on The Dangerous Book for Boys. Spyder has the book and absolutely loves it, so he's leading the first meeting -- on magic tricks and spy codes. (Astonishingly perfect for him!)

Spyder had a Cub Scout activity that afternoon -- bowling. Since we were late leaving the bookstore, we rushed off to get lunch, then to the bowling alley. Skeeter was planning on staying anyway, but Sass and I decided to stay and bowl at the last minute. I'm glad we did. We were pretty horrible (my score was a 54!), but it was loads of fun. Possibly even worth the broken fingernail.

Saturday night was a stay-at-home night. Skeeter and I reorganized part of the bedroom while watching Black Books. (I really must buy the first two seasons. Brilliant!) Sass and Spyder played Scooby Doo on the GameCube.

Today we decided at the last moment to go see Jim Cosgrove (aka Mr. Stinky Feet) play a benefit concert for Blue Streak, a local scholarship program. It was so much fun! Spyder wasn't all that thrilled about going ("Mooooom! I don't wanna! It's for babies!"), so I told him that he was required to go, but I would not require him to have fun.


As expected, he had just as much fun as the rest of us. I let the children buy a CD afterward, and he and Sass chose it together. (They've both been singing the "Stinky Feet" song all night.)

The concert ended just in time for us to get home, change clothes for Awana, and head out to the church. We decided for dinner out after church, so we didn't make it home until almost 9:30. Finally (wonderfully!) everyone is cleaned, dressed in freshly laundered pajamas and asleep!

I hope I get to sleep in tomorrow morning. I know I'm not setting the alarm!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Castle Corona

The children and I finished listening to The Castle Corona while in the car the past few days.

Truly, Sharon Creech isn't one of my favorite authors. I've read Walk Two Moons and Bloomability, and I was disappointed by both of them. I picked this up on a whim because it had a king and a queen, a princess, and a castle -- all components that my Sass loves in a story.

I decided to buy this book on audio because we needed a new book on CD for the car, and I'm glad I did. It's told very much like a storyteller tells a fairytale, and I honestly don't know that we would have liked it as much in book form. The reader also gave an excellent portrayal of the orphans, with enough innocence in her voice to make it believable.

While the book starts in naming the royals, ultimately the book centers around two orphans, Pia and Enzio and a mysterious pouch they find. While I didn't find the mystery particularly difficult to sort out, my children enjoyed going back and forth with theories. It seemed to me that the author spent most of the time analyzing archetypes and the philosophical reason for the journey rather than moving forward with the plot. I like those sorts of novels though, so I wasn't bothered by it, but a person who prefers completely plot-driven books will be disappointed.

Strangely, I was pleased that the names in the book were Italian rather than the English or French names and place-names that are usually found in books that are set in a similar period. It made the story all the more enchanting for me.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Mom Scouts

With Spyder in Cub Scouts and Sass in Daisy Scouts, it's only right that I sport my own Mom Merit Badges with pride.

I think I'm going to order the whole set. I have earned the right to wear every single one of them.

And to think, I've been jealous of those with a Super Target

Hmm. Maybe not any more.

Check out this post from Vanessa. Her Super Target brought out a special kind of crazy!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bitter is the New Black

Just finished Bitter Is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered, Smart-Ass, or, Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office : A Memoir by Jen Lancaster.

Funny, funny, funny! Loved it so much, in fact, that I bought one to add to The Michael's (quite late) Christmas gift.

It's either very popular here or there aren't many copies available in the library system, as it took me nearly three months to get my copy. Truly, the title says it all. The tone is egomaniacal and self-centered and smart-assy. And wonderful.

There were moments where I laughed out loud. That doesn't happen often while I'm reading. I'll smile while reading, but seldom more than that. (Unless it's Celia Rivenbark. Then it's a full-out laughfest.)

Memoirs are one of my favorite genres, probably for the same reason that I read blogs -- it's a real person, revealing his or her real life. While the overall tone is snarky, the reader can see a shift later in the book, when Jen contemplates what she did with her money when she had it. And one of the things I most admired in the book was how, despite it all, Jen and her boyfriend (then husband) Fletch stuck by and encouraged each other when they needed it.

An excellent read!

(Oh, and Jen Lancaster is a blogger too, although I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know that until after I'd gotten the book!)

I am happy to report that I survived

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes! I feel human again!

My ear still hurts a bit, although thankfully it's not my bad ear because I'd definitely have to make a trip to the doctor if it was.

Today was spent at home, mostly. I had a few things to do this morning, and I got out to do them rather early since storms were predicted. We got them too, although later than anticipated. Still, I'm glad we got our errands done early.

Spyder and I spent part of the afternoon talking about writing papers. He's written a first draft and an outline. He's working on the second draft now. I'm rather proud of him. He did far better on the first draft than I had anticipated.

Sass and I spent a great deal of time coloring and drawing today. No surprise really. That's how she wants to spend most every day.

It was nice though, as tomorrow will be a running day. It begins with a run to my parents' house at around 8 am. We should make it back home tomorrow afternoon around 4:30 or so. I'm so not looking forward to a whole day out.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The one where I act like a whiney baby

You know how a baby will whine and fret and cry when he has an ear infection? Yeah, I know how that baby feels.

My ears hurt all the way to my throat. I've wanted to do a big fat lot of nothing today. All day.

Fortunately, I've had moments when I could think clearly and realize that the fridge needed a serious clean-out since trash day is tomorrow.

And clean socks are nice, and those socks in the laundry room weren't going to throw themselves in the washer. Or dryer.

So today I did the must-dos only -- in between fits of wanting to stick my head in a big vat of boiling water.

I sure hope that tomorrow is better.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A fine and pleasant evening

Skeeter worked today, and the children and I spent the day at home. No errands, no must-dos. It was lovely.

I made pizza for lunch, slightly different than usual because Kroger was out of yeast when I stopped in last night to get the must-haves for today. (I was amazed at this. How can a grocery store be out of yeast?!)

I love Google. I was able to find a non-yeast recipe right away, and I gave that a try. The verdict? I like the yeast better, but this was certainly a heckuvalot quicker. I'll use this again, I'm certain.

After the pizza came out of the oven, the urchins and I sat down to a mega-game of Monopoly. We usually have to start out with a time limit because there's something to do, but not today. We played for about 3 hours before Skeeter got home and we abandoned the game, declaring Spyder the winner because he had far more cash than Sass or me.

Skeeter missed out on the lunch pizza, so I made another for dinner, just for him. Sass and Spyder had spaghetti instead. What can I say? We were feeling the Italian vibes today.

The evening went the same way. Earlier in the day, we had discussed going to the bargain movie theatre. No one was particularly eager to go once night had fallen, so we scrapped that idea and stayed home to play games instead.

We played our own version of Encore, where each person gets to give a word and the rest of us have to come up with (and sing!) part of a song that contains that word. We played two different trivia games. We played Scooby Doo on the GameCube.

It was the best family night we've had in a long time.


Remember those things I mentioned? Those non-resolutions for 2008?

#1 has gotten of to a stellar beginning. Stellar, I say, as I have misplaced my tennis shoes! And unless I want to get on the treadmill in my oh-so-cute-and-comfy-but-non-athletic Rocket Dogs, it's going to wait a bit longer.

On a better note, I completely amazed Spyder yesterday in having enough cash on hand to pay for our drinks at the Sonic. When I pulled into the spot -- the only one available because happy hour? It's hoppin' -- Spyder saw the sign over the speaker "Credit card machine is out of order in this space."

"MOM! We're going to have to move!"

"No, hon. We're not."

"But you can't use your debit card."

"Today I've got cash."

(silence) "Really?"

Oh, Spyder of little faith.

Yes, I can now be proud that I have (at minimum) $3.77 on me. In cash. And I had change left over. Yes, indeedy.

Take that, things!

Obviously he was serious about this paper

Exactly as he left it before he went to bed. And you can't see the two pages he already wrote on ancient Rome that are off to the side.

My son continues to amaze me

Tonight at dinner, Spyder announced to The Michael that he was writing a five page history paper. This was news to me, as I hadn't asked him to write a paper.

After dinner and a sojourn at the bookstore, we returned home. Sleep! Blessed sleep! Not for Spyder. He started in on his paper.

I am quite amused at this, and I'm a bit curious why he decided to write one. We were discussing paragraphs and sentence structure today. Perhaps that was the impetus.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Gifts revisited

A couple of recommendations for your next gift-giving occasion:

I gave a friend one of Mika's CD holders for her car, made in a leopard print just for her. Cause it's her style. I had bought one for myself so I knew it would be fabulous.

I bought Sass a little CD wallet that Mika designed just for her. I just told her what I wanted and she figured out how to create it. How excellent is that!?! It was a big hit with my Sass too.

This sewing-challenged person was able to give two excellent handmade gifts this Christmas thanks to Mika. And -- shhhhhh -- don't tell, but she's creating Spyder an awesomely cool real magician's cape!

So check out her shop. Have an idea for something but don't see it? Email her, and I'm sure she can come up with some way to make it.


Now, what is my favorite gift that I didn't receive? The Find It game I gave Sass. It's addictive! And I still can't find that penny!

Sass, Spyder, and I all enjoy playing with it. We even created our own timed game, three minutes to find as many things as possible. It's especially fabulous for the car -- self-contained!

I bought hers through Hearthsong. I had never seen them before, but I checked the website and it looks like there are several stores in my area where they can be purchased. I have a feeling I'm going to go looking for a few of the other versions.

8 Things for 2008

Shamelessly lifted from Kaleigh at The Musings of Yet Another Working Mom.

1. Go to the Y twice a week, just for me. We've been pretty good about using our Y membership for the pool, mostly because Sass intends to grow gills and become a fish. I haven't been good about going for ME and using the exercise equipment.

2. Use cash. I've gotten so bad about using the debit card for everything that I seldom have even $1 in my wallet. Using cash to pay for things is a tactile, real-life learning experience that I believe my children need. I've taken both the debit card and the checkbook out of my purse to help with that.

3. Take advantage of the activities nearby. We have loads of things here in town, but some of them we've done to the point of boredom. When Spyder was little, it was nothing for me to make a day trip with him somewhere. Once Sass came along, it became a bit more difficult. Several things contributed to that, but it allowed me to get out of the habit. There are loads of great places within a 3-hour drive -- easily a day trip -- and both children are fine with long car rides. The actually enjoy them because we always listen to an audio book or a Jim Weiss recording (our favorite!).

4. Keep track of my reading. I read quite a lot, but I'm not very good at keeping up with *what* I read. I can remember if I've read a certain book when asked, but I have a hard time at keeping the list in my head.

5. Make our diet involve more organic and basic foods. I've already done quite a lot of this one. We keep very few processed foods in the pantry. I've cut HFCS out almost entirely. It sneaks in occasionally because I don't think to check the label, but it's mostly gone. All of our dairy and coffee is organic and many of our fruits and vegetables are as well. Going further will require a trip across town to the whole foods market, which is a big fat pain, but I think it's time.

6. Buy local fruits and vegetables. Again, I've done a bit on this, but I could do more and haven't, mostly because I don't want to drive so far. You'd think that I'd be able to find a bit more in my suburban area, but it's been difficult.

7. Cut out the fluff and live in the moment. There is so much that I do -- and feel I must do -- that's just not important. Some days I feel as if I'm just going through the motions to get through until tomorrow, and that's simply not good enough.

8. Show my friends and family that they are important to me. I'm not good at telling people how much they matter. I never have been. But it can never be done too much. My dad's poor health and extended hospital stay made me realize that all over again.

I've been reading the same theme in many blogs -- 2007 wasn't such a great year. I'd have to agree. Here's hoping that the next year is much better!