Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pictures!







It Feels Kind of Empty...

Everyone is gone now. Mom is home and my sister and her family are on the road back home. While a part of me says, "Ah, quiet!," it was wonderful having them here and I miss them already. My sister's children are just beautiful and I SO enjoyed all of them.

Favorite moments:
-Making Jo the baby laugh (wish I could bottle baby giggles!)
-Andy on my shoulders at the model train exhibit - every time he was ready to move on, he'd lean down so he could see my face and say "Let's keep going."
-Doug being silly silly, singing and dancing.
-JC realizing we really did get him a PlayStation 3. The wonderment appeared to last most of the day.
-Rachel figuring out her toe socks.
-William never did quite figure out the Chinese finger traps.
-Jim telling my kids something outrageous, and they believed him, every time, at least for a moment.
-Sue wanting to play Lego Star Wars, instead of putting her boys to bed.
-Mom feeding the baby, every chance she got.
-John truly surprising me with his present.

So I've cleaned the gubby fingerprints off the glass coffee table, taken down the high chair, and shrunk the dining room table down to normal size. Floors need vacuuming and mopping, and there's sheets and towels to wash, but all so worth it. Wish I hadn't been sick, and that I hadn't shared that with just about everyone, but there wasn't much to be done about that. Can't wait to see them again.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Aftermath

Sorry not to have posted for a few days - my sister and her family are here, as is my mother. So there are 11 of us, including three under 3, so "glorious chaos" would be an apt description. 2 1/2 yr-old twin boys, and a 7 mo. baby girl.

Christmas Eve we went to the Children's Paegant at our church. We call it the "Instant Nativity", because any child who wishes (and arrives a little early) can have a costume and take part. Mary and Joseph are pre-assigned for fairness, but pretty much everything else, the wise men, Gabriel, angels, shepherds, sheep, is up for grabs. You have to use your imagination somewhat with some of the costumes, but it can be a lot of fun. Rachel was Mary this year, so my sister agreed that her baby, Josephine, could play the baby Jesus. Jo was a trooper, as was Rachel. She sat on Rachel's lap, looking around at all these kids coming in and standing around her. By the end she was getting a little fussy, so her big brother Andy (dressed in a "sheep" vest, but who had declined to participate) was sent up with a pacifier. This drew a huge "awwww..." from the audience, so all was well. On our way home, we drove around an looked at Christmas lights, hoping for the boys to fall asleep. Didn't work. But they went down pretty easily at home.

Christmas morning of course was wrapping paper and squeals of joy, and my living room was completely trashed. An excellent morning, therefore. The only dark clouds have been William and his cousins - William is not used to playing with smaller children, who sometimes break things by accident and will say "mine!" even when it's not, and he's been a little grumpy about it. But we're surviving.

Today I think we need to get kids out of the house for a bit, so I think we will either find a playground or visit a local attraction or both.

Friday, December 21, 2007

O Christmas Tree

We do the artificial tree thing. I suppose it's not quite as romantic as trudging through the snow, looking for the perfect tree, but it is a family activity. And warmer.

video

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Loot

I'm always torn at Christmas time. I LOVE buying things for my kids. I've always loved shopping, and to shop for people I love and buy them things I think they'll like is always fun.

BUT, then we have the "stuff" issue. As in, am I spoiling the kids with too much stuff? If they have too much stuff, will it become less important that it's something they like or will having more become the whole point?

There's a great children's book called "Crispin, the Pig Who Had it All" by Ted Dewan. Crispin, of course, is a young pig in a wealthy family who always gets the latest toy for Christmas and has broken it by New Year's. So Santa gives him an empty box, which leads to him discovering that the best gift is friends (didya see that coming?). I try to make sure we read it, especially around this time of year.

And, yet, I still want to make their dreams come true. Hmmm...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Results

Ventured through the storm to the doctor's office and had to wait for her to get there. But she had my biopsy results. Kind of a good news/bad news scenario.

It's not vasculitis (yeah!). However, the nerve was abnormal (boo!) It is delaminating, which is not a good thing, so we have to figure out why and if it is treatable.

This moves us out of the realm of rheumatology (joints) and into neurology. So she had the name of someone she said is a very good neurologist, in Newark of course. And it takes forever to get an appointment, of course.

But, she had better news about the rheumatoid arthritis, now that she knows the foot issue is seperate. She thinks it's probably Ankylosing spondylitis, which is a less severe form concentrated in the lower back, so we don't need to be aggressive on treatment until we know what's going on with the neurologist, and she does want a CAT scan of my back but see the neurologist first.

So, more doctors and appointments, and more unknowns, but is it better or worse than vasculitis? Hard to say. Or rather, I'll keep you posted.

Great Christmas Song (funny)

Slip Sliding Away

Wouldn't it figure that we would have an early closing for the schools on a day when I have a doctor's appointment? To find out my biopsy results, of course.

It is nasty out there - I was surprised when William's school canceled this morning, since there was NOTHING going on. But now we have wind and sleet - there's a good coating on everything already, and I'm sure the roads are very slick. I don't mind driving in this stuff, I have all-wheel drive and my tires are good and I have lots of experience.

It's the OTHER drivers that worry me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Where does the time go?

Holy guacamole, it's already Wednesday. I have been to the surgeon's office to have my incision looked at (healing, but I was keeping it too moist by covering it, so not yet healed), to the dentist to have my 6 mo cleaning, the grocery store, Christmas shopping, .....

This week is all the things I normally would have spread over two weeks, but didn't because I thought I would be recovering. So today is Rachel's chorus concert at school, an orthodontist appointment for JC, and dress rehearsal for the youth group play. Tomorrow I have the all-important appointment with my rheumatologist, at which I will learn if I have fairly common and treatable rheumatoid arthritis or if I have to add on a much more serious disease, vasculitis. And all the drugs and side effects that go with that. Trying not to be paranoid. And then Friday I have another dentist appointment, to start getting the crown that goes with the root canal. Does that make me the queen?

And I have guests coming, starting next Wednesday. Can't decide if I'm excited or panic-stricken (mostly excited). Don't know HOW we're going to get cleaned up enough for two 2-yr olds and a baby, but we'll make it work! Somehow! Can't wait!

Alright, enough time wasted on the computer. There's bathrooms to clean, presents to sort and wrap (that sounds like much more fun, maybe I'll do that).

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Fingernails

As in, hanging on by...

Got two batches of cookies baked today, including the HUGE Molasses Crinkle recipe (almost 9 doz!) and the very tricky Sugar Cookie recipe from my mother's great aunt. They are tender and delicious, with lemon extract instead of vanilla, but it's like rolling out toothpaste. I think I added an extra half-cup of flour, and they were even harder to roll than I remember. Perhaps I was a cup short instead...

Next time I'm adding an extra cup - I think they'll still be good and I won't loose my mind.

I also finished the sign for the Youth Group play. Took me most of the evening yesterday and putting it together took more than an hour after church today, but it's done and it looks pretty good.

So I'm actually on track for my to-do list this weekend. At least, the have-to-do's. The tree still has no ornaments, and my room is still piles of clothes, but there was progress. It's a good thing.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ghost Cat

I haven't yet cleaned up and put away the cat paraphanalia - the litter box is still in the bathroom, the food bowls and cat bed are in the back hallway. I think I will work on that tomorrow, it was still too painful today.

However, this evening, I went into the bathroom where the litter box is, and the box had clearly been used. We use the clumping litter, it turns dark when wet, and this had been used. I know that box was clean before I took Jenny to the vet for the last time, I've been staring at it every time I use that bathroom.

"William, did you pee in the litter box?"
no response
"William, did you pee in the litter box?"
"Yes" (almost inaudible)
"William, you do NOT pee in the litter box. Do you understand?"
"But Mom, I didn't sit down!"

We proceeded to have a stern discussion that humans do not use litter boxes and I went back into the bathroom. And promptly cracked up. It was SO hard to keep a straight face while I was talking to him. And notice, I went straight to William, there was no question about who was the guilty party.

This is the same child who built a construction in the back yard out of branches, snow shovels, and rope, then declared it a bathroom for "Rogue Squadron" (his group of boys at school, I'll post that another time). John was the one who asked, "William, have you used that bathroom?" "Just to pee, Dad, I didn't poop in it." Um, that's good, I guess.

Boys and pee. I don't think I'll ever understand.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Last Chapter

We had Jenny euthanized today. The vets had done a number of x-rays and found fluid in her chest, and her kidneys were not the same size. They speculated that it might just be a kidney infection, but it was likely multiple problems, including probably at least one malignancy.

The vet was very kind on the phone, and really didn't push me one way or another - as much as I might have wished her to. However, in the end, it came down to a 16-yr old cat and quality of life. If we got her through this crisis, when would the next one occur? She was already in pain from arthritis, and the last thing I wanted was to cause her all the stress of treatments and diagnosis, and then have it be hopeless anyway.

We could have had an ultrasound to know 90% for sure if the kidneys were infected or malignant, but that wouldn't have answered the question about the chest fluid, and meanwhile, she's at the animal hospital scared and in pain, and I just couldn't keep her there unless I was sure they could help her. She was so bad at new environments.

Can you tell I feel terrible about this? I keep feeling like I'm rationalizing the decision - even though I know it was a reasonable choice. I wish there had been a "right" choice, but there really isn't in a situation like this. She was an old cat, and we knew this day was coming. Wish we'd had a couple more months of her rejuvanation, but I guess we should be glad for what we got. I feel a little bad about not going to see her again, but she was in such bad shape when I left her there, I really didn't want to remember her in that condition.

Rachel keeps saying, "that's the bad part about having pets. They die!" I'm sorry, my sweet, but that's just the way it is. We have to keep our loved ones, furry or not, alive in our memories.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Geriatric Cat, part two

Jenny is at the vet again. We realized over the weekend that she had basically stopped eating, and moving, and everything else. I brought her in today and they heard fluid around her lungs and realized she was having trouble breathing, so they kept her for x-rays and gave her a diuretic to hopefully clear out some of the fluid.

It's not good news. The diuretic didn't work, which means it's not a heart problem or something like that, and the x-rays showed more fluid on one side than the other. Apparently, this probably indicates a malignancy. She's also very bony around the hips which the vet said means her muscles are wasting away, also probably a sign that her liver is not functioning properly.

So we are waiting until morning for the other vet to take a look at the x-rays, and they may send them to a radiologist for another opinion. But to really confirm a malignancy would require more invasive tests, and then what would we do about it anyway? We will probably have a decision to make tomorrow or the next few days. We did tell the kids this evening, they are very upset, but that is part of owning a pet, unfortunately.

This is the hard part about being the grown-up.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Roots! I got roots!

Ok, well, not as many anymore. I had a root canal this morning, and while it wasn't the horrific experience it is rumored to be, it isn't real high on my list of fun things to do. I got to spend most of an hour listening to our dentist be funny (which he is) and think of wisecrack replies that I either couldn't say because there were too many hands in my mouth or I just couldn't form the words with my numb tongue.

Our subjects this morning ranged from Marie Curie, to Idaho, to Hemmingway and other authors, Wikipedia, and I'm not even sure what else. And no, it wasn't just the gas, although he did have me pretty floaty when he stuck the big needle in but he turned it way down.

So I do have to go back for a crown, because there is a fracture in the rest of the tooth. He thinks that may be how the infection started in the first place - which is actually kind of nice to know, since I've been having the "how? why?" internal discussion with myself.

So now there is a little less of me than there was last week - minus one nerve (in my ankle) and one root (from my tooth). Wish that could translate to a few pounds on the scale...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Snow

Again, we have snow. I've lived in NJ for 18 years now. I don't remember having two snows (that stuck) by the first week of December. Ever, really. The kids are thrilled, and I must say it does help get in the Christmas spirit.

We have our tree up, possibly the earliest ever. It's not decorated yet, but most of the lights are on. Yes, we have an artificial tree - I grew up with one, John grew up with one, and somehow buying and throwing away a tree every year seems wasteful and expensive, even if it gets chipped into mulch. Our previous tree lasted us about 15 years, and is still going strong at the church as the "mitten tree". The only reason we bought a new tree last year was to get a taller one. After doing renovations, we have a 12 ft. ceiling in the great room and our old 6 ft. tree looked dinky, to say the least. So now we have a 10 ft tree - John wanted 12 ft, which would have just about brushed the ceiling. I thought that was too much so we got the "smaller" one. This year, I'm thinking we could have gone at least a foot taller. Oh well, it looks good anyway. And it actually has room for all my ornaments - so far. If I keep collecting, it could get a little crowded!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ok, one down

Got through the biopsy this morning, the hardest part was getting to the hospital at 5:30 am. And now I have "discomfort", although John filled my prescription for painkillers - I just haven't taken any yet. Probably before bed.

And the antibiotic for the leg will take care of any infection issues for the root canal, so the attending dr. said, "that works out well!" Yeah, well, he can go have the root canal.

So I'm a little achy and grumpy, but pretty mobile (a little freaked out by that, seems like should need to stay off it more!), and in some pain but not too bad yet. I suppose it could be worse. It is worse - I can't think of any witty, pithy comment to make about this!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Warranty Expired

Thanks for putting up with my "it sucks to be me" post yesterday. I'm in a better place now, though still shaking my head at the confluence of events.

I did library volunteer today (so I don't have to do it next week, right after the root canal), and the librarian and I were talking about feeling like you're falling apart. She said she hit a certain age and felt like her warranty had just expired, because all sorts of things started going wrong.

That's it, exactly. My warranty has expired, and of course now everything is breaking down. I thought I was going in for basic service and here I am with lots of expensive repairs.

I suppose my only hope is that my husband doesn't decide to trade me in for a newer model.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Joys of Getting Old, part 2

I can't decide if its that I really am falling apart faster in my 40th year, or just paying more attention to it because I feel like it's time to take care of myself.

Found out today I need a root canal for an infected tooth. Like, urgently, we would love to do it today. However, I have a biopsy on a nerve in my leg scheduled for Thursday, so how do these two things mesh? I've called the surgeon to find out if I can take the dentist's antibiotics after the biopsy and before the root canal, and I'm waiting for the call back. The current plan is the root canal on Monday, so my leg will hurt and my mouth will hurt. Bleah.

The last time I had surgery, which was much more complicated and I won't go into gross details, I was in the hospital for 2 days and recovering for weeks at home before I felt "normal" again. I realized I'm sort of expecting that, even though this is a biopsy, really just a deep cut in my leg. I don't know whether I should do more internet research, or if it will only make me more stressed about it. And then of course, I will be waiting for results this time, which is a little different.

I suppose I should look at the root canal as probably no more painful than what I've been living with all this time. And the biopsy site may hurt, but nothing like what I went through before. Oh Joy.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving

We had a really nice Thanksgiving. No, we didn't have a houseful of friends or relatives, it was just us. I had a friend ask, "are you ok with that?" I thought that was an interesting question. I hear so many people moaning and complaining about having to cook for everybody, or having to spend the day with everybody, and it was a nice reminder that getting together with friends and family is a reason to be thankful, despite (maybe because of?) the effort.

So yes, I was ok with just us. And we made our favorite foods, except for sweet potatoes and/or mashed potatoes, because I was the only one who wanted those. And I had no set time that dinner had to be ready, so we just cooked at a leisurely pace and ended up eating about 2pm, which was just about perfect. And John got the dining room and front hall cleaned up while I cooked, so I feel like we're ahead, not behind.

And then Friday night we went to a friend's house for turkey soup and games and the kids played and adults talked and it was great. Best of both worlds.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Geriatric Cat

So how is my poor Jenny, who I was convinced was taking a one-way trip to the vet? It is a miracle of modern science. We have been feeding her the prescription cat food, and the 2nd choice one, at that, because her kidneys can't handle the high protein version. She is now jumping onto the family room sofa, venturing up the stairs into the great room, and actually interacting with the family!!!

It has been a long time since she did more than eat and sleep, so this is very wonderful. Soon, I will take her back to the vet for a bath (really, she needs help grooming) and probably arthritis medicine. And then I won't know how to keep up with her!

And she's still the same old Jenny. I pet or brush her as we sit on the sofa, and she'll lick my hand, and purr, and then chomp down on me. Or dig in her claws as she stretches. Her love nips are on the vicious side...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

We woke up to snow on the ground this morning! Not a huge amount, maybe half an inch of heavy, wet snow, but big flakes in the air still coming down. This is the first time in 17 years of living here that I remember snow on the ground BEFORE Thanksgiving. A flurry, yeah, but sticking? As William would say, "Whoa!" Actually, what he said was "Awesome!" All the kids were excited, even though school was neither cancelled nor delayed.

It's funny how the microclimates work around here. Down the hill from us, there was nothing on the ground and it switched over to rain very early. Up here, we still have good cover, and a few flakes in the air even an hour ago. Rachel scraped up enough to make a very short and squat snowman. Or snow pile with a hat, actually.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm an idiot

Or, at least, I can't read. We winterized the trailer yesterday. John mentioned that he hadn't gotten much antifreeze in the sinks and the traps might freeze. So I went in the garage, grabbed the jug with the pink liquid in it (only an inch or two left, as he said), and poured it down all the traps.

Tonight, he came in asking if I had put windshield wiper fluid in my car. Noooo... Yes, the brand he's been buying is pink, not the traditional blue. And yes, I never even looked at the label of the jug I poured down the sinks. So, yes, the trailer has windshield wiper fluid in the traps. Sigh...

I always tell the kids to read labels. I really do have a master's degree in science!

Birthday Blitz

Had William's "official" birthday party today. We went to one of those kid play places, where there's climbing tubes and this one has dress up and "pretend play" areas like a grocery store and a diner and a post office. They keep it very clean and it's well-run, but of course you pay through the nose. I admit to being conflicted about them, on the one hand, I love a simple, homemade birthday party at a house, without the elaborate goody bags, classic games, etc. On the other hand, I had to do NOTHING for this party. Ok, I addressed and mailed the invites - which they provided. They even had goody bags, for a fee of course, and they were cute little buckets with decent plastic figures (dinosaurs, farm animals, lizards, beads) inside, so nicer than junk I would buy at the party store.

Given that William wanted to invite all 18 of his classmates plus a couple of other friends, and that his birthday is in mid-November so no chance of doing it outside, I opted for the ease of spending money instead of time. But this is it, the last big party. Next year, 5 or 6 friends and some special activity, like a movie or something. We're done.

I am exhausted. Came home, opened presents, got the kids to bed and I've been a vegetable on the couch. Watched football for a bit but the Patriots are beating up the Bills, so channel surfing. Somewhere John came up with a new burst and he's building my IKEA bookcase for me.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

November

Can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving. Had everyone brainstorm this evening about favorite Thanksgiving foods so I can make a shopping list. We're kind of heavy on the starches, and i have to decide if I'm making sweet potatoes, since I'm the ONLY one who likes them.

And no-one else wants pumpkin pie. Apple, which I like, but I've made two of them this fall already, and I'm kind of tired of them. Ok, not really, but pumpkin is sounding good. And I have homemade pumpkin puree in the freezer. Oh well, I'll make it in a couple of weeks.

Cleaned off my kitchen counters today, and cleaned out the fridge yesterday. I'm ready to cook.

Slow Start

You would think, having made it to the meals place by 9am (early, even), that I would come home and mantain that momentum. No, now I've been sitting at the computer, reading email, re-reading blogs I've already read because no-one has posted since 10pm last night, and generally putting off the "getting on with the day". John took Rachel to soccer, so he's freezing his tush off (estimated temp about 38, maybe) and I should probably go have a cup of coffee to get me moving.

The meals thing was nice - I was expecting maybe some "magic" trick to make things that freeze well, but it was just real food and real ingredients, you do have to thaw stuff before you cook it, but one cooks in the foil pan, one goes on the grill, and one gets put on a baking sheet (went for chicken, steak, and pork tenderloin). You pay a little extra, but you don't have to buy things like fresh herbs that you'll then not use the rest of. I'll probably try to do it again with friends.

Ok, getting moving. Mush, mush!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday at last!

I don't know why I still look forward to Fridays. As a stay-at-home mom, Monday is really the day off. Saturday and Sunday are full of sports and church and chores - especially the stuff I haven't gotten to yet, and the stuff John needs to do.

But I still like Fridays - and tomorrow is the last day of Fall soccer so we'll be able to sleep in a little! Two games, winterizing the trailer, and cleaning up enough that I can have guests over for Thanksgiving without being completely embarassed. And I get to go make the meals I won - at my son's school fundraiser, I won three meals from a "take and bake" sort of place. They have all the ingredients prepped, you prepare it, take it home and put it in the freezer, and then it goes in the oven when you're ready to eat. Way cool, especially with my biopsy coming up and a few days off my feet.

William went in for his checkup today and thoroughly charmed the doctor, the nurse, and of course, me. He was in extra cute mode, drawing pictures on the paper on the exam table, singing happy birthday to himself, and generally being William. Healthy as a horse, 95% in height and 58% in weight - am I sure he's my kid?

Accountability

Just created an accountability blog for myself, my sisters, and some friends. All are welcome - we are trying to be supportive of each other in our various personal endeavours. Weight-loss, training, whatever. I'll post "make you think" polls on a regular basis, and comments are welcome.

One of my polls should be "How much time did you spend on the computer today?" and my answer will be "More than I should have." I don't watch a lot of TV anymore, but I spend way more time here than I should.

So show some backbone, get up and walk away and CLEAN that bathroom!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Toys

I'm deciding that a blog is like having a new toy, and now I want all the accessories. Just added a hit counter - didn't realize that I count on that, too, but I guess I could up my totals by visiting my blog often... Guess that doesn't count.

Trekked off to IKEA today in the pouring rain. IKEA is like drugs. You keep saying you're not going to do it anymore, it's not worth it, you should spend your money on better quality, and then you shop at a regular furniture store. Back you go, buying just one more piece of furniture (bookcase, today), and a whole load of other junk of course. And then, you get it all home and realize you have two of the same side of the bookcase and none of the other side. Suckered again. Gotta go BACK AGAIN.

Actually, I love IKEA, I love the styles, I just wish it was just a little nicer and you reliably got the right parts in the package. But maybe next trip I'll have time to have Swedish meatballs.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Joys of Getting Old

Ok, I know 40 isn't old, but it's starting to feel that way. 6 months ago I went to the dr. because I've been having pain and tingling in my feet for a long time (like 3-4 years). You know when your feet get too cold outside and as they start to warm up they sort of burn? It's like that. Finally decided I should deal with this (yes, I know), and went in. She ordered every blood test she could think of.

I'm not diabetic BUT my fasting insulin response was low so I am on an insulin-boosting drug.
My heart is ok BUT one of the blood chemicals indicated I should take a low-dose asprin daily.
My rheumatoid factor is elevated = rheumatoid arthritis = Celebrex
My blood pressure has been creeping up = blood pressure medication
The RA seems to be causing carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists = braces (at night)

Notice that nowhere in there is the explanation for the feet? We're still pursuing that, I have to have biopsy of a nerve in my leg at the end of this month.

I'm starting to feel like I don't want to know what's wrong with me. Objectively, I know it's better to know and treat now before some of these issues get worse, but gimme a break! What's next? But, being the glass-half-full person that I am, I am coping most of the time. I look at what other people have to deal with, and am grateful that I am as healthy as I am, and that my issues are mostly treatable. And if I can loose weight, some of them may go away altogether. So we soldier onward, and I am blessed with beautiful children and a loving, supportive husband. Can't ask for more than that.

Birthday Sucessful

We're having William's "real" birthday party on Sunday at a kid's play place. I know, expensive, but EASY. With 19 kids in his class, home was not an option. So last night, his actual birthday, we went out to dinner at his favorite restaurant (hibachi steak house!) with his best friend's family (the mom is one of my best friends and they love hibachi also), and then came home to homemade birthday cake (mom points there!) and the present.

He has been pining over the Playmobil Roman ship since early September when we saw it in a store. So when he started pulling the paper off, he didn't get very far before he realized what it was. His eyes got REALLY big, and he started yelling "Whoa!" and was so excited he had to run around the kitchen counter to give me a huge hug before he even finished unwrapping it. "Mom, you get 95 points for this!" He really did say that. I guess we talk about "points" more than I thought.

So even though he got only one present from us, since he'll get umpteen from his friends at the party, he never even noticed because he was over the moon. And now I have to tear him away from it to go to school. We're going to be late.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Toasted Bagels

We are back from camping in the cold. Now, I know that New Jersey is not so very cold, after all, I grew up in Idaho and I know cold. However, in November, the weather can be all over the map. It's been shirt-sleeve warm and wool gloves cold. Within a week.

So since the teachers in NJ get two weekdays in November to attend a union convention (which only 16% of them do, according to the paper this morning), we took the long weekend to go camping. We were smart enough to head south about 2 hours, and it turned out to be a good thing. Our other choice was a campground about 1 1/2 hours north, and they got snow. We had low 40's, below freezing at night, rain Saturday morning, and then a heavy frost on Sunday. We had a roaring campfire going most of the time - except during the rain while the guys were stringing up a tarp for protection. But as soon as they had the tarp up, they built another fire. Between the 5 families that camped, we brought down a LOT of wood, and went through all but a tiny stack of it. And we would have used that up except the last morning we used charcoal so people could toast bagels easily.

But it was still fun, although we all complained about the cold, and pretty much all we did was sit around the fire. Last year, we went north and it was in the 60's. You never know. We had trailers with heaters - the boy scouts on the other side of the campground were in tents. In the rain.

Yes, in New Jersey, we toast bagels any way we can. Cut them in half and use a sturdy stick, they're pretty heavy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I Hate Lice

We don't have lice. Yet. There have been 2 cases in my youngest's classroom in the past two weeks. They have been bagging their backpacks and coats when they come in to prevent spreading, and this week we're not bringing in backpacks.

Ewww, it makes my head itch just thinking about it. We are fortunate that he is a boy with short hair, so the odds are in our favor. But ewwww. There are towns in our area that have an endemic problem with lice, so it could be much worse. But still ewwww.

Add on to that all the news about MRSA, and the fact we got a note home from the schools that there was confirmed case in the High School, and now it gets scary. However, I've been reading up on MRSA and in some ways, I'm less worried about that than the lice. Wierdly enough, MRSA is more treatable.

Makes me want to move to the wilds of Montana and live off the grid...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The New Normal

I have realized that this sense of running around like a nut is not going to go away. It's not all the time, mostly after the kids are home from school, and it's not that we're so overbooked that we're ridiculous, but I'm used to having (as Thoreau said) a "broad margin to my days." But with three children all wanting afterschool activities, there is not one day that does not have something, right now. Soccer will end soon, which will give us Mondays back, and Thursday nights are mostly adult choir, so that's John and I instead of the kids.

I am savoring the evenings when we are all home, and I don't feel a deadline to get dinner on before some activity. I keep thinking of the list of stuff to do around the house and realizing there's not going to be a "good" block of time to box up all the outgrown clothes and books. Or a "good" time to get the kids back into doing chores (we've been very lax lately). It's all got to fit in here and there in the time we've got.

It's the new normal, and I will get used to it, but at the moment it feels very strange.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Day After

Do you remember in the 80's there was a made-for-TV movie called "The Day After"? At least, I think that was the title - it was about the aftermath of a nuclear war. Remember, this was the era of Reagan and the Soviet Union (before Gorbachov) and we really did grow up thinking that it could all end tomorrow, and this movie came out and it was ALL over the news and everyone was talking about it and all these kids were scared and...

I never saw it. Don't recall if there was a reason, but I never saw it. This is but one of many cultural events I seem to have missed, mostly revolving around TV. Never watched Saturday Night Live (still not sure I've watched all the way through a show). Never watched Dallas or Dynasty or Hill Street Blues. But it's amazing how much you can pick up through osmosis about things like that. I think those national moments revolving around TV are over (remember Roots?) Too many channels now.

But I always think of that movie when I use that phrase. Today was definitely a day after. Did all the Halloween stuff, got my cookies baked for the nursery school bake sale/concert tomorrow, even got my hair cut this morning (I should have taken before/after pictures, it was scary!). And by 10:30 all that was left was cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming, laundry - all my not-so favorite stuff. I was even bored with surfing the web (no!). So I puttered and frittered for a while and then actually did some of the nasty stuff. I think this was the first morning since William started full-time kindergarten that I was actually bored. 2 months. And it wasn't like I didn't have stuff I could do, even fun stuff, but I just didn't feel like doing anything. Oh well. It's been a busy week. I can have half a day off, right?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween

I was hoping to have some pictures to upload, but they're in John's camera still. We did have a good day, none of the kids had homework (thank you, teachers!), so we had an early dinner and went over to a friend's house to trick or treat. Now, our neighborhood is lovely and spread out, with most houses on an acre or more. No sidewalks in most places, so walking around our "block" is almost exactly a mile and you get maybe half a bucket of candy. And hilly - feels like uphill both ways, sometimes.

Our friends live in a townhouse in a condo complex. We walked maybe a mile total, all flat, and the kids buckets were overflowing. William was using the helmet from his knight costume for the excess. They had a good time, and I was amazed how much "good stuff" they got. We always go through and pull out the stuff no one will eat (nerds, etc.). But they had almost all chocolate. Excellent! Or as William would say "Awesome!"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Awesome"

My 5-yr old cracks me up. Daily. He just came downstairs for our nightly ritual of "Mom, I'm scared in my room alone" and "I want some company while I fall asleep." Every night. I alternate between "tough, just go to bed" and "you're not alone, we're all in the house."

Tonight I explained to him that his bedroom is directly above my craft room (where my computer is) and so I'm closer than I would be if I were in my bedroom. So we spent a moment explaining where his bed is (from below), where his door is, etc. We decided that his door is right above one of the lights, which got an "Awesome!"

I find it hysterical that my kindergarten kid says "Awesome!" like a skate punk (probably an '80s skate punk, I don't know if they say that anymore). But it's still funny.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Creative Moment


Ok, since I haven't created anything new to post, I'll go with an old picture. These were tins I made as teacher gifts 2 years ago. I covered them with paper, decorated, and then put a bag of nice chocolates inside. As you can tell, I'm especially proud of the soccer one - what do you give a male teacher? He happened to be a soccer coach at the high school, so...

I might do clipboards for Christmas or end-of-year this time. Any thoughts on that?

Better Living through Chemistry

Well, got most of the errands done, the important ones anyway, and got Rachel to the doctor. I switched to a family practice this summer, and I am SO happy I did. This was Rachel's first visit, and we happened to get the doctor I've been seeing, so it was all very chummy and comfortable. Dr. Cavallo asked which ear hurt, and took a look and said, "Wow! Have you looked at this? You should come take a look at this." So after 12 years of being a mother I finally got to look through the otoscope and see a raging case of otitis media. I really like this doctor.

So we have the mandatory bottle of amoxicillan in the fridge, and this batch is orange-flavored, which is Rachel's favorite, and I gave her Advil before bed so we both would sleep. As childhood sicknesses go, this ain't so bad. At least from my point of view. I don't have flaming red in my inner ear.

So they SHOULD all go to school tomorrow, and I SHOULD make cookies for the bake sale at the preschool on Saturday, but no promises. I did get the pie pumpkin that's been on my counter for 3 weeks cut up and steamed and pureed and in the freezer in pumpkin-pie sized batches. Watch out, hubbard squash, you're next (cue Psycho music and large knife shadow).

I shouldn't have said anything...

I jinxed myself. Should have known better than to publicly anticipate a child-free morning. Rachel was up during the night with ear pain, so I'm letting her sleep and we have an afternoon appointment at the doctor's office.

So all those errands? Hopefully she'll be feeling better late morning and we can do them then. Meanwhile, I should continue digging out all our horizontal surfaces. Where does all this stuff come from and why can't I deal with it when it arrives?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Monday, Monday, so good to me



I suppose it's a symptom of being the stay-at-home mom that I actually look forward to Mondays now. Sort of. We've had the usual weekend of soccer, roller hockey, D&D, and last minute dinner with friends, on top of trying to do laundry and clean up a little. Now I'm looking forward to everyone else off to work and school tomorrow and having a little quiet time. Yes, I have a list of errands and we have to get up for the bus, but I don't have to coordinate with anyone else once they're all on their way. It's just a little easier for a couple of hours, then I pick up from school and the bus comes home, and we have chaos again, which is ok. I'm liking the break.

Of course, I keep thinking that if I could keep up with laundry and cleaning during the week, we wouldn't have to "cram" on weekends, but that hasn't happened yet. I seem to need incentive. Having friends over this evening on short notice got the back hall and kitchen cleaned up, when I'd been slowly picking at it all week. So progress was made.

Well, I was going to post all the cards I made for family birthdays this month (hoping they've all arrived!), but I just accidentally deleted 2 of them. You get one - they were all the same style, just different papers and decorations on the tags. This is the Double Pocket fold from Technique Junkies, very easy and fun. Stampin' Up double-sided paper, punch and stamp.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bad Mom Alert

Ok, we all got to our evening on time and now everyone is in bed. And no, the brownies have still not shown up to make my kitchen magically clean during the night. I must be doing something wrong.

Am I a bad mom to hope for rain so we don't have to get up for soccer in the morning? I sign my children up for sports, they enjoy playing, I enjoy watching, but halfway through the season I get excited at cloudy skies and the prospect of a day off. Especially those nights when we have multiple activities. I suppose I could avoid the whole issue by cutting out all activities, but that seems worse, somehow.

Ok, since I am still hoping for rain, I can make back points by actually cleaning up the kitchen BEFORE morning, right?

Busy Busy Busy

But not as bad as some. Just when I think , "oh yeah, i can totally keep up with posting every day" I completely miss one. Yesterday was farm day - a friend talked me into joining a Community-supported organic farm with her, so every week one of us has to drive 25 miles to pick up our share of the produce. In NJ, 25 miles equals 45 minutes if you're lucky, and I was not yesterday. SOMETHING happened on Route 206 yesterday and they had both directions closed for I don't know how long. Not so bad, as there was a reasonably short detour, but traffic tends to pile up around here anyway, so it added a good 45 minutes or more to the trip, so by the time I got home it was time to pick up the youngest, then everyone else gets home and we had the fire drill of school project due tomorrow.

I'm just hoping that if I say, "why don't you work on your project NOW before it's due" enough times, it will eventually sink in. I'm still hoping, but we did get it done.

And yet today, I baked two apple pies, delivered one to the middle school for the German Club "Oktoberfest", had lunch with a friend, went grocery shopping, got 90% of the groceries put away, got the kitchen mostly cleaned up after the pies, and fetched everyone from their various activities on time. Good day.

But now I'm wasting time with this when I should be making dinner - we all have to be somewhere at 7. Off to go cook something with all this lovely produce. Any ideas for a rutabaga?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Still Kicking (and biting and scratching...)

Just got back from taking our elderly cat to the vet. I was not entirely sure if I would be bringing her home again, which I did. In fact, it was a much better experience than I anticipated.

This is our 16-yr old, grossly overweight (22 lbs), arthritic and probably diabetic cat that I "rescued" from friends when she was a very young kitten. I had stopped taking her to the vet because
a) I was tired of getting yelled at that she was so fat, and that I should get her more exercise
b) she's an indoor-only cat who fought tooth and nail when being put in the carrier, so if she didn't get her rabies shot it made little difference and saved me some blood.

However, she's now clearly uncomfortable and seemed to be failing, so I realized I could no longer put it off. So, at a new vet's office, I learned that she
a) may be healthier than I think and need a higher protein diet to loose some of the weight
b) may perk up considerably with arthritis medicine
c) still has quite the attitude (bit the vet, hissed at the office cat, and yet still purred when I put her back in the carrier)

So we're waiting on blood work, and trying some new food. If the blood work shows her liver, kidneys, etc. are ok, we'll put her on the meds and new diet and see what happens. If not, well, we'll cross that bridge and I'll feel like I've tried at least a little. And the new vet did not give me any guilt about level of care, for which I am profoundly grateful.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Introducing Me



Now I've done it. I've created a blog. Don't know if I have anything interesting to say, but since I enjoy reading other blogs, I'll try to return the favor.

I am currently a stay-at-home mom with three kids, ages 12, 9, and 5. Right now I volunteer at our church and my children's schools, avoid housework as much as I can, spend way too much time in the car, and when I can, paper craft and rubber stamp. My background is in engineering, Materials Science and Engineering to be exact, and I have a BS degree and an MS degree. This does give me a certain advantage when helping my kids with homework, but is otherwise not currently useful.

I discovered rubber stamping about 8 years ago, and having always had a weakness for a beautiful sheet of paper, was a natural to get sucked into the world of papercrafting. Now that my youngest is in full-time Kindergarten, I keep hoping I will spend a little more time creating and have something to post here. In reality, so far anyway, I'm always in the car and rarely spend the day at home. I'll keep trying. But I do have a sympathy card I just made and haven't mailed yet. It uses the Scor-It Faux grid technique from the Technique Junkies newsletter.
The name of my blog comes from a sheet of rubber stamps I found some years ago. It has a woman with a word bubble, then a variety of sayings to go in the bubble. My favorite is, "What does she do with all those stamps?"