Wednesday, January 28, 2009


My Sass turned seven years old today! I can hardly believe it. It seems almost impossible to think that it has been that long.

This year her birthday has turned out to be more of a celebratory week rather than a single day. But I suppose it doesn't hurt to have more "YAY ME" time, right?

We had her birthday party yesterday. We usually attend church on Wednesday nights (her actual birthday). Sass didn't want to have to miss, so she decided to have the party a day early. I don't think she would have needed any encouragement for it anyway.

Party? EARLY? Yeah!

So we had the party -- hold onto your hat -- at Chuck E Cheese. I know. And despite my reservations, we decided to have the party at dinnertime rather than during the day. The children both have several friends who attend "regular" school, and Sass decided that she would rather have it at a time when they could come.

Those were the initial reasons for having the party at 5:30 pm the day before her birthday. It ended up being a fantastic time for the party though. We got hit with a snow storm on Tuesday night. It had rained all day, getting colder and colder. I suppose that kept most people home because we almost had the place to ourselves. It was fantastic! Then today, Sass and Spyder woke up to SNOW! SNOW ON THE GROUND!

Having a January birthday, you'd think that she would have had a snowy birthday before, but no. Her birthday is usually pretty warm, in the 60s or so. This was really unusual, but she loved it. She spent quite a bit of the morning playing in the little inch of snow on the ground.

One of our longstanding traditions is that The Birthday Person gets to choose what and/or where to eat for the birthday dinner. Sass chose IHOP, which she -- in her long tradition of renaming -- calls "Hop-I's."

My parents had to miss the birthday party, so they are coming to visit tomorrow for a third day of Birthday Fun. Sass is quite thrilled because she always loves seeing them.

We had initially planned to see Hotel for Dogs today, as part of the birthdaying, but the snow won. The snow wouldn't be there for play later and the movie would be. As a result, I think we are going to attempt to see it tomorrow.

It's been quite a week, all revolving around my little Sass. That's just the way she likes it.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Elementary school ...

is like a big ol' cake made by the students.

Give them the tools and the guidance to explore an interest, and let them explore and enjoy, even if you are itching to tell them "the right way" to do it.

What comes out might not be pretty the first time, or even the second or third. But it's still an edible effort, and the beauty and refinement will come later.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Ireland Envy

Small Town Mom just got back from a trip to Ireland, and she is detailing the adventures.

And I am green with envy.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

For the book lovers

I first saw The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society at bookstore, looked through it and passed it by. It's set just after World War II, and that's not my usual type of book. Of course, I don't usually go for World War I books either, and I loved Maisie Dobbs.

Then I saw that Lucy liked it. Since I tend to like the same sorts of books as Lucy, I got the book. I am so very glad I did because I absolutely loved it. Loved it!

We learn the story from a series of letters to and from Juliet Ashton, an author. Eventually Juliet becomes so fascinated with the letters and stories coming from the members of the Society that she travels to Guernsey herself.

It should be mentioned that this is probably a book for book lovers. Personally, I was hooked only a few pages in, with this paragraph:
I love seeing the bookshops and meeting the booksellers -- booksellers really are a special breed. No one in their right mind would take up clerking in a bookstore for the salary, and no proprietor in his right mind would want to own one -- the margin of profit is too small. So, it has to be a love of readers and reading that makes them do it -- along with first dibs on the new books.
Ah yes. That describes me well.

My one troublesome point with the book comes at the end, when the narration suddenly switches from letters and telegrams to the journal of a different character. Since Juliet has been the center point until then, the switch bothered me. Considering what is told in the journal, I can understand the switch in the point of view, but that could have been handled easily in the current letter format, so I wish the author had continued with it.

All in all, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is very highly recommended.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Christmas Eve

Um, yeah, it's a bit late for a Christmas Eve post, but we will ignore that this post is three weeks late. I have to tell the story. And it's a long, involved one. Go pee and get a drink before you get started.

Every year we have a Christmas Eve Fiesta, inviting friends over for Mexican food, just a relaxed time. This year was our 10th year in hosting it. I didn't even realize that until just before the party or I would have planned something special to mark the occasion.

This year was ... different ... than usual though. This year it almost got canceled at the last minute. And if the Fiesta hadn't been one of those well-established traditions, it would have been canceled for certain. As it was, we had invited fewer people this year, simply because we weren't certain that Skeeter would be able to be here, and I didn't particularly want to go all-out without him. Inviting fewer people was a good thing though, since everyone we invited fell into the "good friend" category rather than the "moderate acquaintance" one.

Remember that little water problem? Skeeter couldn't stand it any more (or maybe he couldn't stand to hear me whine over going to the laundromat; we won't quibble) and he tore out a section of the wall to check further. He also found a plumber to come look at it on December 23 around 5 pm. The plumber determined that there wasn't a leak; it was a clog in the pipe, and it was a relatively simple fix to unclog it. He made a phone call, and we were scheduled to have it fixed the very next morning by Plumber #2.

YAY!! Or not.

First of all, Plumber #2 was scheduled to be there at 6 am.

::cue crickets::

You do realize that I am not a morning person, right?

Skeeter and I spent the evening of the 23rd getting things ready for early morning so there would be less to do. The plumber came in the next morning and was able to set to it straight away, working his uncloggy magic.

And then .... swoosh!

A tidal wave of water -- not just any water, but old lint and mildew infested water -- came roaring over the laundry room. It was more than whiffy. WAY more. It smelled horrible. Walking out the door and back in could make me want to gag.

ETA for guests: 11 hours

First we had to clear away the wrapping paper for last minute gifts that had gotten soaked, then we started in on cleaning up the water. That was the first action before working on the smell. It took over 4 hours to clear all of the water properly and start in on making the place smell like something other than a dungeon.

ETA for guests: 7 hours.

Skeeter ran to Home Depot for emergency mildew removal stuff while I started in on cooking. He returned and we began to work. Thankfully, part of that process was "let sit for 45 minutes" so we had time to open gifts.

Yeah, we usually spend Christmas Eve morning in a relatively unhurried state, opening gifts, cooking, enjoying each our own company. Not this year. This year it was more along the lines of "open the gifts so we can get back to work" and not nearly as fun.

ETA for guests: 5 hours

After we opened gifts, we got back into the cleaning. Thankfully the mildew smell was starting to decrease by this time. We had opened doors, turned on a fan, lit candles, used the mildew stuff .... it should have!

I started back into the cooking, and Skeeter started setting up the tables and generally getting things ready. We had been working this way for some time when he decided to put the sodas in the small refrigerator that we keep for drinks. At that point he discovered that someone (probably a small someone who had better thank her lucky stars that I was too busy to be angry!) had put the small refrigerator on "high" and had caused two of the soda cans to explode.

ETA for guests: 3 hours

Skeeter handed off the fridge cleaning to me, and he went back to check on Operation Fetid Purge. Once the cleaning was finished, I went back to the cooking.

We still are without a dishwasher (my fault completely because I just haven't gotten it yet), but being without a dishwasher means that dishes take far longer than before. We don't use disposable items regularly, so we don't keep them in the house. I decided that for Christmas Eve, it might be better to have disposables this time. All of the main food was already prepared, so I put the enchiladas in the oven to keep warm and kept the soup in the pot to simmer, and I ran off to Kroger for plastic food items.

ETA for guests: 2 hours

You do realize that going to a grocery story at 4 pm on Christmas Eve is a horrendously bad idea, yes? I didn't. I had never experienced that joy before, and I (stupidly) thought that the grocery store would be mostly empty, possibly mildly busy. Oh the wrongness of that supposition.


I was astonished at the crowd in the parking lot, in the store. I had to park at the liquor store at the other end of the lot, and I had to wrangle for that spot. I hiked to the store, ran through and got the disposable dishes and cutlery, decided to get a couple of extra bags of chips just in case, and scooted to the register, where I waited ... and waited ... and waited. I read an entire magazine while waiting in line. Finally, at long last, my turn! When the cashier rang my order, I asked for a couple of bags of ice as well. She looked at me blankly and said, "You've got to bring them through in your cart." Perhaps she saw my look of incredulity -- seriously, have you ever had to bring the bag of ice through? -- because she let me go get them during checkout so I wouldn't have to stand in another long line. Honestly, if I had put the ice in my cart, I could have taken a swim in it by the time I checked out.

That adventure took far longer than I anticipated, so by the time I arrived home

ETA for guests: 30 minutes

Skeeter ran off to the shower and I did the last minute table setting and that sort of thing. I had just started making the chex mix when the first guests arrived.

The chex mix was put on hold because I remembered that I hadn't even started making the cookies for Santa. I made cookies during the party, but that isn't unusual. I had intended for them to be slightly more elaborate this year -- decorated gingerbread cookies -- but that ended up not happening.

Despite the troubles getting ready for the party, it was just as fun as always. We all went to bed late and exhausted, so exhausted that Santa didn't even fill the stockings until the next morning! Santa hates that.

Oooh, Santa did discover a brilliant new stocking fill method this year. Put all of the gifts that are meant for each individual into that person's stocking. As for the candy, just artfully drop it around the stockings (ours are placed under the tree when filled) and leave a little trail going to the chimney. Sass thought that was the coolest.

So now that you've read my book, how was your Christmas? And Christmas Eve? Slightly less eventful than ours, I hope!


Friday, January 09, 2009

On a Winter's Day

In the past two weeks, we've had weather extremes -- either completely wretched or quite lovely. Today was lovely, despite being a bit chilly, about 45 degrees.

We took advantage of the sunshine and spent about an hour wandering around the park, playing on the playground, watching the ducks and geese. It was a nice change after being inside during days of rain.