Friday, November 20, 2009

Okay, hmmm, let's catch up

The household has been sickly. Thankfully we have avoided the regurgitation form of sickly, but still ... it hasn't been fun.

We spent last weekend in Chicago. I can't remember if I have mentioned it here, but we will be moving there soon, and we went for a recon mission. We had a fantastic time. Busy, but fun and productive. And it sure is going to be different than the South.

The urchins and I drove all day Friday, listening to Anne of Avonlea. We all love that series. On the last trip we listened to Anne of Green Gables. We got to the hotel right at 5 pm, and we mostly took it easy that night. Swimming was on the bill, of course.

Saturday was the 'big' day, lots of going and doing. The only thing that we planned in advance for the day was to visit Legoland, but we ended up having a full and fun day. Sadly, I have no photos for any of our stops yet because the camera didn't care for the cord we have. Picky, picky.

We visited the Old Joliet Prison, which was featured in The Blues Brothers. Beautiful building, almost like a castle rising out of the city. That was just a short drive-by stop, but I think we will go back at some point.

Afterward, we drove to Ikea. Oh, I do believe that my Target love has been eclipsed by Ikea. I could have spent hours in there, but the urchins were waiting patiently for Legoland, so I kept it pretty short. I will return though. Oh yes I will.

Legoland was quite fun, although oddly enough the funnest part was the free play area in the cafe. I think we spent half of our time in that area. The sculpture areas were really cool, but, well, you can't play with those.

We saw Big Bowl, a Chinese/Thai restaurant, as we were walking through the parking lot toward Legoland. We knew the moment that we saw it that we would be eating there for dinner. And we did. We left Legoland around 6:30 -- prime dinner wait -- but the wait wasn't horrid, only about 30 minutes. I am SO glad we waited. The meal was fantastic, but the best thing on the menu for me was the ginger ale made with fresh ginger. Oh. my. word. It was fabulous!

Sunday was less fun and more business. We did neighborhood scouting and a bit of house hunting. We did locate a magic shop though, and Spyder spent a happy hour in there. The magic shop is also a party store, and Skeeter found a great cactus pinata that we will use for this year's 10th annual Christmas Eve fiesta. Ole!

The urchins and I left on Monday morning at 6:45. Spyder is attending meetings of a local IBM ring, and he had a meeting that night. So, bright and early, we were on the way.

And since Tuesday, we've been home sick. I suppose it was good that we had a great weekend!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I had planned to write a post about our weekend in the Chicago area, but alas, I have been catering to an icky-feeling Sassy today, so instead a reposting seems more appropriate. I'll tell you about the trip tomorrow. :)

Originally posted 2/2/06

Yesterday Sass was sick. She woke up at 4:15 am and said she needed to "frow up." We made it into the bathroom and waited for a few moments, but it never happened. After a bit, she decided it would be best for us to sit on the couch for a while. Personally, I wanted to go back to bed, but I could tell that she really did feel sickly.

We went to the living room, put on the Heffalump Movie, and cuddled up on the couch. Surprisingly, she didn't go back to sleep during Heffalump (she usually does when she's tired), and we moved on to Scooby Doo after Heffalump. Sass and Spyder have both become huge fans of the classic Scooby Doo cartoons recently, so Spyder heard Scooby and came running!

Skeeter left for work at 7:30, and the day continued pretty much the same way that it began. Sass took a nap from about 9:30 to 10:30. I was shocked that she didn't sleep longer since she had gotten up so early AND she was so sick. She had started out the day feeling tummy-sick, but it moved into sniffles and coughs. By the time she was up from her little nap, fever was added to the mix.

She and I spent most of the day cuddled together on the couch or in the rocker. And it was actually a pretty good day.

Years ago, before Sass was even born, I read an article in Mothering Magazine called "Mom Medicine: Offering up the Day to a Sick Child." It completely changed my outlook on "sick days." Instead of feeling upset and exasperated and annoyed that my to-dos are still undone, I offer a prayer of thanks that we have so many healthy days, and I welcome the excuse to do nothing except be with my child.

Last night, Spyder said, "Mom, today was a really good day." And his day was essentially the same as usual, so I think HIS day was better because MY day was less hectic. It's food for thought, anyway.

Today is beginning pretty much the same way as yesterday. Skeeter got up at 6:00; I got up at 6:30; Sass got up at 7:00. Skeeter left for work at 7:30. Sass and I are on the couch, watching Scooby Doo. Sadly, there are three errands that MUST be done today, but I think I can make them painless. :o)


Monday, November 16, 2009

Fun in the rain

We have had a rainy autumn. A very rainy autumn. At times we had to sneak visits outside between rain showers.

The urchins and I had planned to go to the zoo one day, and, well, we had rain. Of course. It wasn't cold, and it wasn't a huge storm, just rain and more rain. We decided to go anyway -- rain or not.

I admit, I was rather skeptical about the whole endeavor. Mostly because I don't like to have wet feet. That annoys me beyond measure.

We did skip the planned picnic, but other than that, it was exactly as we had intended. And we had a blast. In fact, it was probably our funnest time going through Cat Country. The normally lazing cats were up and ... frolicking. That's the best word I can use to describe it. We stood and watched JUST the tigers for nearly 45 minutes. They came into the water, right up to the viewing area and stared at the urchins, who were just behind the window. It truly was a bit disconcerting.

It rained pretty steadily for the first 20 minutes or so, then it tapered to a drizzle, then just to damp. If it had been cold, we would have skipped altogether, but we were all glad to be outside that day, rain and all. Sometimes it really is just as easy as taking the plunge and doing it anyway.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009


The urchins and I volunteer at our church food pantry at least once a week. And every single time we are there, it is such a humbling experience.

Now some of the people are stinky liars who are just there for the free stuff. We know that, and we can pretty much tell who they are before they ever open their stinky, lying mouths. And we do serve those stinky liars if they qualify based on income. But most don't fall into the stinky liar category. Most of them are there because they simply don't have another option.

Skeeter was unemployed for several months about 5 years ago. We went almost 6 months without a paycheck or insurance. We used our church food pantry twice during that time, and let me tell you, it was a tremendous blessing. The pantry challenge may be a game for me now, but at that time it was a necessity.

Recently our church's pantry has seen a significant increase in younger people, families with young children, who are there because of unemployment. And I have been there. I know how it feels to humble yourself and ask for help when you'd rather do anything but. And yet the rational part of you knows that if you've got food in the pantry, you can use food money to pay for other, just-as-important things like electricity and water and a place to live.

We also have the older people who are now getting by, barely, on Social Security. Some of those people have to ask me to write their special requests because they aren't even functionally literate. Some of them are just doing the best they can to take care of their grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

As I said, it's humbling. It's one thing to hear about people who are struggling; it's another to see it. And because of that, I do think it's important for us to be there, the urchins included. Learning to show caring to others is just as important as history or math -- and arguably more so.

Many food pantries are now overwhelmed with requests, ours included. During the upcoming holidays, I encourage you to think about setting aside an amount to give to a food pantry, even a small amount. You would be astonished at the amount of food that $5 can purchase from the food bank. You will be making a difference in someone's life. And you just might be showing God's grace to the stinky liars.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

I am totally stealing this

Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers has an excellent post about her 30 Days of Gratitude. Nothing unusual; a lot of people do that in November. But read a little further down and look at the Gratitude Tree.

We focus on thankfulness at our house quite a bit, and each night at bedtime we all give our Yay of the Day, something excellent that happened that day. More than one is good too. On those really craptastic days where you want to throw in the towel, it's a good reminder to look for the little things that really DO matter. On the good days, it's easy to see how blessed we really are.

I love the added visual of the Gratitude Tree. The trio of hearing/reading/writing will plant that gratitude a little more firmly in their hearts. I am shamelessly stealing it for our house. Thanks, Kris!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Today Skeeter and I celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. Well, technically we won't celebrate today because he is away on a business trip. But 14 years ago today, we were married.

1. We were married in the church that I had attended since I was 5.

2. Everyone made fun of me because I wanted an opera selection as part of the music. I think everyone else hated it, but I loved that piece. Still do.

3. It rained horribly the night before, and I just knew, KNEW, that it was going to be a terrible mess at the church. The rain stopped in the early morning hours, and one of the men of the church was thoughtful enough to clear the tree debris from the parking lot. That was an incredible kindness that I have never forgotten.

4. I quit my job a week before the wedding. I moved from my city to stay with my parents, then after the wedding, I moved to Skeeter's city. It was a scary time for me.

5. Skeeter and I went to England for our honeymoon. It was fabulous.

6. One of Skeeter's groomsmen couldn't come to the wedding because his wife went into labor. I can always remember his son's birthday because of it.

7. The Michael saved the day and stepped in for the missing groomsman.

8. Skeeter was nervous and made one of the candles shoot into the air at the ceremony. Everyone in the church laughed, but he borrowed and lighter, relit the candle and we moved on. It's a great memory.

9. I wish my Nana had still been alive to be there.

10. Skeeter's cake had Mickey Mouse and equations that I still have no idea what they meant.

11. Skeeter's nephew was the ring bearer. The nephew is now in college.

12. I bought the gifts for the attendants at antique shops. My hometown's downtown area is filled with little antique shops, and I had fun looking for individual gifts.

13. I still think that potluck wedding receptions taste far better than catered. They may not be as pretty, but you can't argue with the flavor.

14. I would happily do it all over again.

Happy anniversary, honey!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

For no particular reason

Thanks for all the welcomes. See, it's easy to forget how much I like doing this, and then once I begin again, I'm all, "I LOVE IT!" What can I say? I'm a complicated soul.

An example:

I had a few free minutes over the weekend, and I started cleaning out some old bookmarks. One of the bookmarks I found was a blog named I'm Just Sayin'. Shamefully, I don't remember bookmarking it, but of course I had to check it out, if only because Skeeter has been enamored of that phrase lately.

On the first page, I ran across this little jewel. Skim on past the rude peeps and get to the awesomeness of the dog. I laughed so hard that I woke MY dogs who were snoring nearby.

And then, for some unknown reason, I decided that I needed to get back to blogging. Because of a flatulent dog that I don't even know. Perhaps 'complicated' is an understatement.


Monday, November 09, 2009


So, yeah, it's been a while.  When I "take a break" from blogging, it's easy for me to forget how much I enjoy it.  I wonder why that is?  Like splashing in puddles ROCKS when you're a young thing and then it's as if you forget eventually.  So I'm making myself remember to splash in the bloggy puddles again.

I haven't really been reading OR writing in the last few months.  Um, should I be ashamed to mention that it's been so long that I didn't realize that Blogger had changed?  It's not a lack of things to mention, that's for certain.  I just don't take the time.  And in fact, I am making myself write now because it was a busy day and I'm just worn out.

Tonight we went to a farewell celebration.  The urchins take fencing, and their instructor's dog is dying.  The dog is 16 years old, and he has had a wonderful life.  He has been a real companion for his owner.  So fencing classes were canceled for this evening and the instructor hosted a celebration instead.  It was lovely. 

Afterward, we met The Michael at the pizza cafe for dinner, which is slightly amusing because last week at this time I was swearing that I didn't want to eat pizza again for a year.  We had been in Chicago for a week, and I think we ate pizza every day for that entire week.  Next time, I am going to have to make sure to branch out a bit.

And perhaps tomorrow I will schedule time to write a post before the day has gotten the better of me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An urchin laugh

Those children o' mine just make me laugh so much.

(Just for reference, we play a game in the car where we call out "JuicyFruit" any time we see a yellow vehicle. It's mindless fun. Try it. You'll never miss a yellow vehicle again. In our version, commercial vehicles don't count.)

SASS: That was a man driving that JuicyFruit.

SPYDER: How do you know?

SASS: Well, he was bald ....

SPYDER: That doesn't mean it was a man. It could just be a REALLY UGLY woman.


Monday, September 14, 2009


We are reviewing prehistory, mostly for Sass because she was so young when we did it four years ago for Spyder. On Sunday we read a couple of chapters and discussed art in particular, so I went searching for the famous prehistoric art at Lascaux.

Oh. My. Word.

The French Ministry of Culture has a fantastic website that is absolutely filled with information. It actually allows you a virtual walk through the cave itself, with detailed information on the individual paintings and engravings.

The site map gives the visitor direct links to information about the geology of the region, the discovery itself, the research on the artworks, and much more.

Even if your students aren't studying the era, the website is well worth a visit.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

The new school year

It is amazing how time gets filled. And the best laid plans often have to change. So it is with our school year.

I had hoped to manage a three day week this year, with Spyder working (mostly) independently. That hasn't happened, either one. We are continuing with the four day week, and I am doing direct teaching for both 6th grade and 2nd grade. We are managing, and it's better to continue with the same-old since I know that it will all get done that way. Perhaps we can move into more independent learning as the year progresses.

Add the extra activities -- fencing (twice a week), music class, volunteering at the food pantry, church, art class (twice a month), plus a couple of field trips every month -- and we are always busy and often running like mad. It is a treat to stay home for an entire day, and it seldom happens.

Sass is especially enjoying her studies this year. She hasn't said that she has a favorite. She likes them all. Math is her current #1, but I think that's only because we've been doing hands-on activities for the last week.

Spyder has read every book that I've assigned for this semester. Yes. He has already read all 16 of them. And he read two extra ones that were on the list for NEXT semester. Thankfully, he still needs to write the papers for most of them. I suppose that buys me a little extra time on deciding on more books for him.


Monday, August 10, 2009

His best girl

(via text)

SKEETER: I came home to surprise you. You aren't here.

ME: We are @ Target, but we will be home soon.

SKEETER: We need trash bags and chocolate.

ME: We are buying the trash bags.

SKEETER: And chocolate. I haven't seen Little Debbie in some time. I kind of miss her.

SKEETER: She is my not-so-secret crush. Even though she is Michael's girl.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Christmas Carol train tour

Next stop: Dickens' London.

To promote the new Christmas Carol movie, Disney has a train tour that is traveling throughout the US.

First, this was marketing genius. Seriously. It's just a movie. But the promotional tour that they are doing is great!

But before we get to the tour, let's talk about the line to get in.

OH YEAH. There was a two hour wait. There was a worker dude at the end of the line asking everyone, "You made sure to notice that there is a TWO HOUR wait from this point, right? TWO HOURS." It was as if he was even surprised that we were staying. I know I was.

But wait we did. For two hours. It was 92 degrees.

OH PEOPLE. The things that I do for my children. I should have taken a photo of the guy in front of us. He had this cool little camping belt with two canteens hooked to it. And a pocket for snacks. The woman two families behind us had a folding camp chair. I felt thoroughly unprepared.

But we stood in line like troopers, minus water and snacks and camp chairs. We did a lot of standing in line.

But, as usual, we made friends with the people near us. (Not with Mr. Prepared with Camping Gear though. He was a little snooty, as if we were beneath him because we didn't anticipate the two hour wait.) (I didn't. I was pretty shocked by the wait time.)

Ahem. Back to the friends. We actually found out that the family behind us was just starting homeschooling, and we had a mutual acquaintance. That was unexpected.

Anyway, the chatting made the wait much more bearable. And about an hour into our wait, Christmas carolers showed up! Sass sang Christmas carols all day after that.

But alas, even with the carolers, we had more waiting. A little closer to the train itself, there were three of these cooling fans set up. My children thoroughly enjoyed the mist generated by the fans. But it really looked more like a spray once they were finished.

Finally! The wait was over! And once we got inside ... WOW! The first car was set up with period costumes and portraits of characters from the film. Plus it had three cases full of books and letters on loan from the Dickens Museum. I could have stayed there longer reading the letters.

Aside: Did you know that Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins were friends? And even wrote a book together? I didn't until reading some of the information in the cases.

But alas, the two hour wait seriously cut into the "seeing" time because Spyder had to get to fencing class afterward. So we moved on to the models.

The movie uses computer generated animation, but they used models in some of the process. This model of Big Ben was amazing.

We weren't allowed to use flash photography, and so this photo was the best I could manage.

Next came the ... I'm not sure what it's called. The actors wore suits like in the photo and acted out the scenes, then they were animated in a later process. It was pretty interesting, and there were screens set up along the wall that gave the information about how it was filmed that way.

I loved the way they used the mirror to make the train car seem much bigger than it actually was.

On the way out we visited the interactive car, where the favorite activity was taking photos of ourselves and morphing them into the movie characters. That was really fun. But let me mention here -- that particular car was hotter than waiting in the sun outside. I felt like I was about to faint when we got out of there.

And finally, the end of the train cars. A happy ending, of course.

We also got to see a 10 minute preview of the movie in 3-D. My children were in awe. And YUP, 3-D still gives me a headache, even with all of the improvements since the 1970s.

The bottom line: If the tour is coming to your city, it's worth going. Just make sure to bring a camp chair and a cooler.


Monday, August 03, 2009

One week

School starts in one week.

The last of our materials are scheduled to be delivered tomorrow. I will spend the next few days going through and organizing, but I am afraid that I might have to hide them. The urchins are really excited about digging into their new studies. (Let's hope that continues for quite some time AFTER we have begun.) Truly, I think that I am just as excited as they are. We have some fun and interesting things this year.

This year we have scheduled for three bookwork days and two non-bookwork days. I am a little nervous about that, and we might end up changing. We have never had two non-bookwork days each week. We are attempting it this year because we work at the food pantry for four hours one day per week, and it can be tiring work. Friday is generally set aside as a free day for museum or zoo visits, but it can be used as a catch-up, catch-all day if necessary.

As always, it's a work in progress. I am sure that things will get rearranged during the first couple of weeks to see how it works best for us.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Couponing, an update of sorts

This is EXACTLY where I am. Skeeter and I changed over to a cash-only system for grocery shopping last month.

Anything pertaining to food or toiletries comes out of our grocery budget. That includes any eating out and food for the dogs. I spend $10-$15 a week for coupons, so I subtract that from what I take out of the bank. Oh, and I toss my change into our Disney fund every night. I do SPEND the change when I'm out though -- if I haven't dumped it yet -- so it's usually less than $1. I am all about change management.

Changing over to the cash system made it evident that I was going over budget regularly -- sometimes not by much, but regularly -- in search of that elusive deal. Not good. That has stopped due to the cash-only constraint. If the money isn't there, I can't buy it, no matter how good the deal is. I can also honestly say that I've learned to choose the deals I buy more carefully. I was moving there before, but changing the way we handled grocery money is making it a reality.

When I first began couponing, I was really overwhelmed with all of the information available. I spent hours finding deals and even more time getting the coupons together to do them. But deals will come around again! If I miss it, no big. I will get it on the next go if it's something we need.

I've changed to choosing the stuff we need that week (bread, milk, produce ...), then finding the deals on items that we already use, then finding deep, deep deals for things to stockpile or donate. I have certain sites that I check, and that's about it for the searching. I use the time that we are waiting for Spyder at fencing class to sort coupons so that I have to spend less time doing it at home.

The deal sites that I use have become more of a launching point than anything, looking for what others already know is available. Some of the best I have found simply by looking at the clearance sections to see what is there.

Last week, I lucked upon half gallons of organic milk discounted to $.99. I bought two of them, but I should have bought at least three. I should have known that we would use them before the expiration date. (We did. They all had a July 31 date. I had to go back and buy more milk -- full price -- on July 30. My urchins love milk.)

Kroger has a fantastic clearance area. Absolutely fantastic. I never know what I am going to find there. A few weeks ago I bought dental floss for $.19 a package after coupons. I found Pull-Ups for a friend for $2 a package.

Target also has fantastic clearance sales. I've been shopping those for years; I'm just using coupons to make them better now!

So it has only taken me a year (!!), but I think I finally have a handle on how it works best for us. Changing over to the cash system was just another piece in the puzzle.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Science quiz?

My 11 year old took this Science Knowledge Quiz. My 11 year old. And he scored better than 90% of the people who have taken it? Considering the questions, that worries me.

In all truth, he did ask me about one question, so I suppose technically we collectively scored 12 out of 12. But still, he would have gotten 11 of the 12 correct without me.

(H/T to The Common Room)


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Flight of the Bumblebee

Accordion style. Pretty amazing, actually.

Sass and I were talking about musical instruments, which led to listening to some in our collection, which led to looking them up on the internet, which led to this. Isn't that always the way it is?


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Grumble, grumble

I have been rockin' the coupon thing lately. People are getting tired conversations containing "Hey, do you need barbecue sauce? How about some A1? Please take it. Please."

Tonight I made a stop in the Kroger for a few things -- using coupons, of course -- and my total actually ended up being in the negatives after I used all of the coupons. I didn't really want to add anything, so I had the cashier take a couple of them off, and I paid my $2.03.

After I was in the car and on the interstate, I realized that I had left the change from my $10 bill in the little change dispenser in the self-checkout.


How's that for negating all of the self-congratulatory thoughts on the couponing?

I just hope that whomever found my $7 felt blessed by it.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Something right

So much of parenting is a trial and error. At least for me. I'm sure that many (most?) parents will disagree, but I often find myself thinking, "Oh, I could have done so much better if I had ________." It's nice to actually SEE where something turned out well.

Sass and Spyder went to a Vacation Bible School this week, at a different church where they knew no one. Despite what non-homeschoolers might think, this was not a problem for them. Not at all. They are always ready to meet new people. The other children at the VBS? Not so much. At least not unless they look/act/talk like everyone else.

For those who don't know, Spyder has long hair.

This isn't exactly common around here, but obviously he isn't the first male to have long hair. And yet, all of the children at the church could NOT let it go. They teased him about it all week.

All. Week.

I can understand it being a topic of conversation the first day, as he was the only one in his class with long hair. But to go on day after day with it? Excessive, to say the least. And it wasn't just talking about it. The others were really mean about it. So mean that the day after VBS ended, he asked to get it cut.

Spyder is actually growing it to donate to Locks of Love. I think he said that at first so that I would let him grow it out, but now it has become truth. Little did he realize that I would have let him grow it long any old way. My only rules were to keep it brushed and out of his face.

We went to the salon and the stylist measured it. He is at 9 inches. It has to be 10 inches to donate. He mulled it over silently. I went to pay for Sass' trim because it was his decision. After a few minutes, he said, "No, I'm keeping it. I'm almost there. Doesn't matter that other people don't get it. I'm still me, and I know why I'm doing it."

Why am I pleased? Spyder navigated an entire week

a) with people he didn't know
b) in a completely new place
c) with those people who were determined not to like him,
d) ultimately deciding to continue with his plan
e) despite the raging disapproval of the children in his age group.

That is the kind of child that I was hoping to raise.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009


6:30 am -- Take Skeeter to work.

7:15 am -- Back home, unpack car, take shower.

8:30 am -- Take urchins to McDonalds for breakfast. Because I promised in a moment of weakness.

9:30 am -- Volunteer at food pantry.

1:15 pm -- Leave food pantry. Stop home for a snack and to gather the library DVDs.

1:25 pm -- Library.

2:10 pm -- Home from library. Start laundry in washer. Sass conks out on the couch. Spyder starts reading his book. I sit for mindless computer time.

2:55 pm -- Friend calls. I forgot I was supposed to meet her to trade coupons. Rush over.

4:05 pm -- Home again. Move laundry to dryer. Start packing clothes into a bag for Goodwill.

5:10 pm -- Got a call that fencing was canceled. THANK THE LORD! Realized I hadn't checked the bank account today. Paid two bills. Continue cleaning bedroom and getting Goodwill bag together.

6:00 pm -- Meet Michael at Fazoli's. Stop by the Kroger on the way.

7:15 pm -- Leave Fazoli's and head home to check air filter size.

7:40 pm -- Shopping at The Dreaded Wal-Mart for air filters, sprinkler, and something else that I can't remember now. Remember why I avoid The Dreaded Wal-Mart at all costs.

9:10 pm -- Leave The Dreaded Wal-Mart with a now-grumpy husband.

9:30 pm -- Leave husband and urchins at home. Go to Kroger.

9:50 pm -- Return home from Kroger. Sit to help Skeeter with filing paperwork while watching Psych.

10:40 pm -- Finish television show. Husband off to bed. Lucky him.

10:50 pm -- Begin this post.

11:20 pm -- Give up because I am too tired. Attempt to read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

11:45 pm -- Takes me 25 minutes to read 20 pages. Decide to give up on the day and go to bed.

** Not every day is quite this busy, but you get the idea of what my days are like lately! Thus, sporadic posting.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Proud mama

Spyder performed three magic shows today.

My friend is a first grade teacher, and today was the last day of school. First grade + last day = nothing planned. Several weeks ago, she asked if Spyder would be interested in coming to her classroom to do a little performance.

Naturally, the answer was, "OF COURSE I WILL!"

Word spread around the school of the magician, and it ended up that every class wanted to see it. Most of what he does is close up magic using cards and coins, so it doesn't work all that well with a really large audience. Instead of one huge audience, they split the classes and he did three shows instead. Even at that, each performance had about 25 to 30 children and 4 or 5 teachers, so he walked among the crowd.

I know that I am biased -- I figure I'm allowed -- but he did a really great job. Last week he did a show at the library for an even larger audience and he did just as well. Spyder is a natural at performing, and it's somewhat surprising for me to see. He knows what he's doing, and he is comfortable enough in front of an audience to change things around depending on the reactions he gets. I'm still a little bit astonished at how well he does. His performance isn't perfect by any stretch, but he just doesn't let the stumbles get to him and rolls with it.

One of my favorite instances was when Spyder did some card trick, and one of the children was absolutely unimpressed. The child called out, "Hey, why don't you make that card disappear?" Spyder just looked at him and said, "Okay." *poof* The card was gone. The child's jaw dropped, and I was glad I was standing behind the door because I had to laugh.

His shows today took about two hours. That's a long time for an 11-year-old, and he was visibly tired at the end of it. Pleased-tired, but tired all the same, so we all went out to lunch as a "yay, Spyder!" and had ice cream for dessert to celebrate.

I am really proud of him. Even though I get tired of being the practice audience sometimes.


Monday, May 18, 2009


This afternoon the urchins and I were at Big Lots, specifically to get manuscript handwriting paper (I was quite disappointed that they had none), but we ended up wandering. Because really, that's the best thing to do at Big Lots. I love that place.

I had told the children that they could each choose a package of snacks to put in the snack basket at home. Of course they ran straight to the super-sweet, teeth-rotting, mom-would-never-choose-those shelves.

I must admit, I ended up being glad about that. Sass picked up a package of Little Debbies, pointed to the logo picture and said, "What's that girl's name? Michael loves her." And it was said so honestly and earnestly that Sass couldn't quite understand why I was laughing so hard that I couldn't speak.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

$250 later

Ol' Skeeter got mad at the faucet tonight. It has always been quite temperamental, that faucet. We've lived in this house for six and a half years, and the faucet has dripped the whole time. Not horrible, just drip-drip-drip. It didn't really bother me. What DID bother me was when it just decided to stop. It would whine -- yes, high-pitched whine -- and suddenly the flow of water was reduced to a trickle. You would have to wiggle the handle just. so. to get it to work properly again. That was quite an annoyance. Thankfully, it didn't happen terribly often, perhaps once a month, possibly less.

Today it did the whiny trickle, and Skeeter attacked it with a vengeance. Oh, he was attempting to fix it, but I think he might have gone at it a bit too vigorously because -- SURPRISE! -- he busted some gasket. Water flowed freely throughout the kitchen. And yes, the laundry room. The laundry room that has been flooded four times in less than a year. That poor laundry room.

Thankfully, I was at work when this occurred because I probably would have had a panic attack. And yelled. I am told that there was quite the tidal wave of water flowing freely from the pipes. So Skeeter did what any man would do when he's in over his head like that. He called the plumber, the guy that worked on his job site and came to fix our laundry woes back on Christmas Eve.

Let me take a moment to note that this occurred on a Sunday. On a Sunday night. He called a plumber on a Sunday night. Not that there was really any way around it, but when he told me, I will admit that I wondered if I needed to sell a kidney or something to pay for it.

Skeeter finds such convenient times to have water woes.

I found out about all of this at 7:30ish, when he told me that the kitchen flooded and the plumber was there. In a text message. I was calm. And patient. I sent him a text message asking him to let me know what happened when he could. I was VERY. PATIENT. Especially for me because I am not a patient person. I waited a whole hour before asking for an update. As in do I only need to sell one kidney, or do I need to put both of them on the market? And WHAT WAS GOING ON IN MY KITCHEN!

Truthfully, I still don't know what really went on. That might be a good thing though. I just know that it's going to cost me $250. But since I kind of like having a working kitchen and an unflooded house, I am not going to complain.

The only other things I really know are that all of the items that were on the counter and underneath the sink are now outside on the picnic table. And that the plumber's parting comments were, "I don't mind being your plumber at all, but I'm taking your plumber's wrench away."

And he did. When he cleaned up his stuff, he took Skeeter's plumber's wrench right along with him.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Flower Potty

Just in case anyone thought I was joking about the whole toilet-as-lawn-art thing.



Saturday, May 02, 2009

Road trip!

Originally the plan was to take a little overnight trip. That was scrapped though, partly because Skeeter wasn't interested in getting up early. The kicker was the weather though. Rain, rain, and more rain. And storms. I couldn't leave the poor old doggies out in the bad weather, and I sure couldn't leave them inside for an overnight away trip.

So instead of an overnight, we took a drive to the Jim Henson Exhibit in Leland, MS. It has been on our list of "someday ..." and we decided on a whim that today was the day. It was a longer trip than we anticipated, but all four of us were pleased that we went. The attendant (docent? host?) was incredibly accommodating when we arrived late -- very late. The museum was scheduled to close 10 minutes after we arrived. EEK! It's a small museum, but not quite THAT small. The attendant graciously stayed an extra 45 minutes so that we could have a decent look around.

The main room of the exhibit is filled with letters and photos of Henson's childhood and later success.

It also includes an original Kermit made by Jim Henson and used in one of the films.

A smaller room filled with memorabilia was just as fun. There were so many things there that Skeeter and I remembered from when we were little. Most of the items in that room were donated by Muppet fans. And sadly, they did not have my absolute favorite album -- Sesame Street Fever. If I can find mine, I will donate it. Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos of that room. I had forgotten my camera, so I only had the piddly little camera on my phone. And I only have room for about 6 photos at a time! Talk about limited!

We might make it back there at some point if we are nearby. We were a little bit rushed because we were conscious of the fact that the attendant stayed extra just for us, so I would like to go through it again. But even if we don't, it was a satisfactory experience. And I think I love the Muppets just a little bit more now.


Friday, May 01, 2009

My nefarious plan is working ....

ME: So, what do you think? Corn or broccoli for dinner tonight?

SPYDER: I think ... broccoli.

ME: ::double take:: Seriously?

SPYDER: I KNOW! You've indoctrinated me!

Now if I could only work my sinister English pea magic on him.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Box of Nothing

(conversation via text)

SPYDER: *indistinguishable photo*

ME: The picture was too dark. I couldn't see what it was. Can you tell me?


ME: A box of what?

SPYDER: Nothing

ME: Why did you send me a picture of a box of nothing?

SPYDER: I want it.

ME: You want a box of nothing?


ME: Um, okay?


At that point I decided to call.

ME: So tell me ... what did I really just agree to?

SPYDER: I want the box.

ME: The box of nothing.

SPYDER: Yes. Well, I want the box. Not really the nothing inside.

ME: Oh, I see. I was wondering what you would do with a box of nothing.

SPYDER: Well. Probably nothing.

Anyone else see that as a scene from an Absurdist play?


Saturday, April 18, 2009


My parents live in a very rural area of the south. Very. Rural. As a result, they have few neighbors. One of their neighbors is a man we'll call Ralph.

Ralph is the epitome of any redneck stereotype you've ever heard.

Homemade tattoos? Check. They're from prison too, so I suppose he gets double points for that.

Long scraggly hair? Check.

No shirt or shoes? Check. Sass called him The Naked Man for ages because -- hello, Ralph! -- you ought to wear a shirt!

Double wide trailer? Check.

Inappropriate flower pots? Check. Ralph has a toilet sitting on his front lawn with flowers planted in it. And he thinks it is gor-ge-ous. I should take a photo of that. He did that a couple of years ago, I think. His next door neighbor (not my mom) almost had a nervous breakdown over it. But there are all of 250 people in the whole town. It's not as if they have a homeowners association or anything. And my parents live in "rural [town]."

Aside: Imagine my shock when I went to vote the first time and the voter-checker-inner asked me if I lived in "urban [town]" or "rural [town]." My smart-assy 18-year-old self looked at her and said, "Have you looked around here? It's all rural." Apparently the definition of "rural" is whether you live on this side of the curve or the other. We're on the other side, so it's rural.


Anyway, back to Ralph. He is everything I listed and more, but I will say that he has been a good neighbor to my parents. He has helped them too many times to list, especially during my dad's severe health issues, and that is probably worth a toilet flower pot.

Ralph and his wife have taken to showing up at our family celebrations on occasion, and they were there for Easter. Our family is pretty big, so they just sort of mingle with the rest of the crowd. It's not out of the ordinary for non-family members to be there anyway, and we're a "the more the merrier" kind of bunch. It's not exactly a big deal to have two extra when you've already got 20 people, 3 dogs and a cat running around.

He often shows up at random times as well, like neighbors do. But now I'm thinking that Ralph might be getting a little too comfy around the house.

Ralph and his wife showed up around noon on Monday. My dad had just gotten back from the doctor. He has an upper respiratory infection, so he was feeling pretty crappy. Dad answered the door and Ralph said, "What have you got to eat for lunch?"

::double take::

Oh yes he did. Ralph came right on in and asked for lunch.

Dad said, "I am sick, so I am going to sit right here in this chair, but there's the kitchen." So Ralph and wife went right on into the kitchen and made lunch for themselves, getting all of the leftovers out of the fridge and heating them in the microwave. They (Ralph and wife) had a nice little lunch, put everything away, and left.

When my mom told me the story today, I laughed so hard that I couldn't breathe and my children thought that I was bawling over bad news. It was that shocked and astonished sort of laugh that just gets bigger and bigger the more you think about it. We were both laughing so hard that we had to change the subject so that we could actually speak.

When I told the story to Skeeter later, he said, "It looks like they've got their own personal Kramer."

I think he might be right. That was reiterated when my mom told me that Ralph showed up later today and said, "That yard is gettin' kind of high. When are you gonna mow it?"

Call me on it if you want, but I think if you've got a toilet flower planter in your front yard, you can't really say much about anyone else's landscaping.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Oh, they are just SO FUNNY

My children have been all about April Fool's Day this year. They have been anticipating this day of sanctioned mischief for weeks. So just what did they do?

Spyder short-sheeted the bed.

Spyder taped a piece of paper over the track ball of the mouse.

Spyder put a fake "blue screen of death" on my computer.

Those were all quite good efforts, but the best one came from Sass. Well, it was her idea, and Spyder helped with the execution.

Sass (and Spyder) hid all of the soap in the house. All of it -- the shampoo, the body wash, the bar soap in the shower, the pump of hand soap on the sink. They even took the extras out of the linen closet so that I couldn't replace the missing ones.

I will admit that it was pretty effective. And funny. They are just too clever for their own good. Now I will have to get them back.


My peeps

Some of my favorite people are going through some hard times right now. Keep them in your prayers and/or thoughts.

Celtic Buffy



And woohoo! After I started writing, but before I posted, Vanessa posted an update that she has gotten good news from the doc.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Magic and mayhem and ... sickness

The weekend was quite a whirlwind. We were going non-stop since Friday morning. In addition to the usual schooling and family stuff, I was scheduled to work four nights straight (hasn't happened in a LONG time). I had forgotten how tiring it is! And it's not as if I have some sort of high-stress position. Working at the bookstore is pretty great, actually, and I love it. But combined with everything else, it was just a bit much this weekend.

Weekends are always busy, but for this one, we had something special planned. On Saturday we went to see Magic Tree House: The Musical. Both of the urchins are big fans of the Magic Tree House series, and they were overjoyed to hear that the musical was going to be performed in town. It was crowded and noisy, as expected, but both of the children were just enraptured by it. I wish I had been able to take a photo of Sass while she was watching the performance.

After four days of go-go-go -- really, five days if I count the 5 hours at the zoo on Thursday -- I shouldn't be surprised that Spyder and I are both sick. Blech. We are both having allergy issues. His has turned into a cough; mine has turned into a sinus infection. Hot tea is my friend. And sleep, although I'm not getting much of that with Spyder's coughs.

Today I sat down and watched a full hour of PBS Kids with them, just watching and nothing else. I never do that! If I watch with them, I am doing something else too -- clipping coupons, folding laundry, knitting .... Today, I just sat.

Here's hoping there will be more of the sitting and recuperating, and soon. I hate when we're sick.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Home of The Crazy

Vanessa is not the only person who finds the crazies at Target. I have moved into that elite class as well.

Tonight I had to run in to get ... something. I can't remember what. But it was important, I swear!

Anyway, I was wandering around the clearance endcap in the grocery aisle -- because, hey, you never know what you'll find, right? An older man, probably in his 60s, was loitering in the cereal aisle. Yes, loitering. And kind of creeping me out. I moved on. A bargain is not worth attracting the attention of The Crazy.

I stayed in the same general area, and about 10 minutes later I decided to go back to the clearance endcap (hey, there was coffee on there). The Crazy was still there in the cereal aisle, but he was now taking items out of his basket and putting them behind the cereals. When he was finished, he moved a box of cereal in front of his stash and walked to the main aisle.


Once at the main aisle, he took a moment to look around. Then he walked back to his stash and pulled out a Target bag.

UH huh. Now I knew what was going on. (And yes, I stood there and watched the whole thing because I was just riveted.) An employee was a couple of aisles over, so I told him my suspicions and went to get the rest of my stuff.

-- OH, I remember. I went to get coupon organizing things. I'm attempting a new system. I'll report back once I'm done. --

I finished the real shopping and went back to the dog toys. I always have to check out the dog toys at Target because they're just so darned cute. The Crazy passed right by me, speed walking. A few minutes later, he passed again. And then a few minutes after that -- yep -- he zoomed on past once more.

As I was going to the checkout, I saw the employee. He and another employee had removed the stash. The Crazy had gone back to gather his items, and when he found that they were missing, he had taken to speed walking the entire store. For the last 20 minutes. He passed me four more times while I was in the checkout line.

Until now our Target has been mostly Crazy free. The Wal-Mart was the place to find The Crazies. Apparently they've migrated.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Doggy ATM

I actually saw this a few days ago, but Skeeter and I had such a laugh about it tonight that I had to share.