Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Animal Farm

Our menagerie has temporarily grown. We are currently babysitting a guinea pig for friends - they're at Disney, lucky dogs.

Oreo is completely delightful. She talks and squeaks and likes to be petted, although she's a little skittish about us picking her up. So we open the cage door and pet her, and she practically purrs. We're going to go through a lot of baby carrots this week, William has been having them for snacks and sharing with Oreo.

The cats are fascinated.

I can't tell if they consider her prey, or if she's just triggering that "curiosity" gene all cats seem to have. But they have spent a LOT of time watching her, and poking a paw in the cage, and sitting on top of the cage. They'll lose interest for a while, then they're back, trying to figure out what this thing is.

Oreo is unfazed by the attention. Even when they stick a paw in, or sit on the cage, she seems unconcerned (although she stays out of reach). She's got a little house to hide in, but she really seems thoroughly complacent about these predators hanging out nearby. Is she naive, and unaware they are predators? Does she just have an itty bitty brain and not realize?

Who knows? But it's hugely entertaining for both people and kitties. We're watching WPIG this week - all guinea pig, all the time.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympic Hangover

Not an Olympic SIZED hangover, an Olympic hangover. See, even with the DVR, and skipping commercials and fast-forwarding through the boring parts (who needs to see ALL the laps of the mountain bike race? Or the whole marathon? Unless you're related to an athlete), we've been staying up WAY too late watching the Olympics. Yes, yes, I know I could go to bed earlier and catch up the next day, but then I'd still be watching, and it was already hard not to find out results before I watched the event. And as I kept telling the kids, no, you can't watch something else, the Olympics only happen every 4 years. And I'm watching NOW.

But now it's over. We watched the entire closing ceremony last night, and I let the kids stay up, and even though we deliberately started late so we could skip commercials, the kids wouldn't let me fast-forward through parts of the ceremony last night. So we were all up late last night, and fortunately had nothing planned for today (poor John had to go to work, of course). Now I'm catching up on blogs and the kids are watching TV and it's after 11am already.

We are SO going to be hurting next week when school starts.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wildlife - the outdoor kind

We got buzzed by a red-tailed hawk on our way home from church today. Yes, I'm sure that's what it was - he flew across the road at eye-level not 20 feet in front of the car, and flashed his red tail at us.

When I moved here from Idaho, 19 years ago (!!!!), it was not without trepidation. Growing up in the West (and I mean WEST, like, cowboys, cows, wide open spaces), and then going to school on the East Coast makes you very aware of your roots. Like, "this is Ann. She's from Idaho." In my case, that became a very integral part of me. Mountains, camping, knowing about cows and farming (not that my dad was a rancher or farmer). It mostly didn't matter how much I knew, I knew more than those city kids, so I was the de facto expert.

And to move to New Jersey.... New Jersey! Land of highways and oil refineries and "what exit"? You gotta be kidding me! It's amazing what love will convince you to do. I went looking for apartments on a scouting trip in March, and came home in tears, convinced we were doomed to a nasty little hole-in-the-wall in a huge complex of similar "garden" apartments. Fortunately, my husband found someplace better, in a charming town (think "Main Street, USA). We used to walk downtown for dinner every Friday night in the summer. Then we bought a charming little house in the same town, and walked downtown pushing a baby stroller every Friday night.

And now we have moved less than 5 miles away, and we have wildlife. Deer, rabbits, turkeys, foxes, hawks, owls (never seen one, but you can hear them!), and not too far away, bears are occasionally sighted. Not to mention more chipmunks and squirrels than you can shake a stick at. And the random coyote - yes, I'm sure, because I grew up in the West, remember? If I can find the picture, I have a shot of 25+ turkeys roosting on my children's' swing set. Really! I have more wildlife in my backyard here than I ever remember seeing growing up (except for one memorable evening I saw a moose in a field about 2 miles from my house. At first I thought, "that's one ugly horse!" Then I went and got a friend to confirm the sighting).

We've now lived here for 19 years. The long answer is, "I'm from Idaho, but I live in New Jersey." The short answer? "I'm from New Jersey."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Surgery? What surgery?

Ok, I really don't hate JC. I'm just slightly resentful because he has bounced back from the wisdom teeth removal REALLY FAST. I'm astonished, because his cheeks aren't swollen, he wasn't nauseous, he seems to be in minimal pain, and he seems to be having only minimal trouble with chewing.

When I had my wisdom teeth out in my late teens, I remember crawling down the hallway to get to the bathroom later that afternoon, because I was still nauseous from the anesthesia. And I threw up, at least once. And felt lousy for days. And had obvious bruising and lots of swelling.

Yes, yes, I'm grateful that it's been only a minor speed bump in his summer, and he seems to be recovering very very well, and yada yada yada.

(insert nasal whine) Why can't I ever be the one to have a quick recovery?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mostly No Troubles

Soon after I wrote the last post, John and JC got home. The only complication? They only did the top teeth. Seems they sedated JC with the usual amount. And then twice that. And then he still partially woke up during the operation and tore the IV out of his arm. So they just did the top teeth, and we'll have to go back for the bottoms.


Waiting and Worrying

JC is having his wisdom teeth removed this morning. John took him to the appointment. It's been 2 1/2 hours, and he's still in there, I think. I called a minute ago and John didn't pick up, it went to voicemail. Hmmmm... It probably means John's on the phone with someone else, but, well, I worry.

Our orthodontist, whom I love, recommended the oral surgeon and speaks highly of him. But it's hard not to worry. Despite the fact that JC is almost as tall as I am, he's still my baby. I want him home and safe - it's that general anesthetic thing, you know? I need to know he's ok, even if that means puffy and sore. I'm just hoping he has a better reaction to anesthetic than I do - I've only thrown up once, but that was enough.

After the events this summer, I'm feeling a little more worried about things that I might otherwise find routine. It will probably wear off, but at the moment, I worry.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Your result for The Perception Personality Image Test...

NBPS - The Idealist

Nature, Background, Big Picture, and Shape

You perceive the world with particular attention to nature. You focus on the hidden treasures of life (the background) and how that fits into the larger picture. You are also particularly drawn towards the shapes around you. Because of the value you place on nature, you tend to find comfort in more subdued settings and find energy in solitude. You like to ponder ideas and imagine the many possibilities of your life without worrying about the details or specifics. You are in tune with all that is around you and understand your life as part of a larger whole. You prefer a structured environment within which to live and you like things to be predictable.

The Perception Personality Types:


Take The Perception Personality Image Test at HelloQuizzy

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fair Days

Our local 4H is having their annual fair. Yes, even here in New Jersey, we have a 4H fair, complete with cows, chickens, sheep, horses, etc. And model rockets, reptiles, RC cars, go-karts... Way more than I remember from my 4H days. All the food and sewing gets relegated to one tent labeled "Arts". But they still auction off the lambs.

Of course, I think the highlight is the food tent. Not as extensive as a state fair, but pretty darn good. They had fried oreos, but I just really couldn't go there. And Rachel got funnel cake that was stone cold and hard. I probably should have taken it back, but the kids ate it anyway. Along with ice cream waffle sandwiches and chicken nuggets and french fries...

I got to watch the finals of the women's all-around gymnastic competition last night, because Rachel was still up with a stomach-ache. I guess that's my silver lining, because I tried to give her Pepto for the nausea and she gagged and threw up. But then she felt MUCH better.

No surprise there. Maybe next time I'll start with that and save some time....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Is It Really August?

We have been having the most un-August-like weather. The temperature has been in the low 80's (or lower!), the humidity is low, there's a gentle breeze.... Now this I could live in. Our normal August is about 10+ degrees warmer, humid, and stagnant. Or, as weather reports around here always say, Hazy, Hot and Humid!

It was too cold to go to the pool on Tuesday. How's that for August!

Except for some rain, JC is probably having good weather at camp - I was actually wondering the other night if he was warm enough, since he elected NOT to take his sleeping bag, just a light blanket. Because, after all, it's August and it's going to be hot.

We did go to the pool today after going to lunch at my favoritest Mexican place ever. Jose Tejas (Route 1 in Woodbridge) has awesome, cheap Tex-Mex food. Generous quantities, huge drinks, awesome salsa and fresh chips (they are not the BEST chips I've ever had, but they're way up there!). (Jill and Julia - it's the same chain as the Border Cafe in Harvard Square!) So we stuffed ourselves, came home, went to the pool, and I don't know how the kids didn't have stomach aches, since I sure would have. I sat on the side in the shade and talked to friends.

I did go in the pool briefly. COLD. William would get out every 20 minutes or so and spend 10 minutes on my lap, wrapped in a towel. Shivering violently. Did I mention that it's August? And supposed to be hot when we go to the pool?

We haven't turned on the A/C since last week. And I haven't wanted to, either. I don't do hot very well, and normally, don't really like August. But this year....this is ok.

Now watch, I'll have jinxed us into two solid weeks of misery.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Who is this person?

So, while we're cleaning out the garage, one of the many interesting things we found was my old college notes. They had been in the basement, but some of them got wet in one of our floods, so they'd come up to the garage on the way to the garbage. Turned out to be an extended rest stop, but hey.

I looked up the recycling guidelines for our area, and discovered I had to take off the covers. They were organized by course in those paperboard report covers that have a metal strap that goes through two holes, so the metal and the covers had to come off. So I went through two milk crates full of these things.

I haven't worked in my field in 13+ years. I have a master's in engineering, but these were notes from my undergrad days (also engineering). Of course I had to take a look at the notes, papers, tests, etc. Wow. I was a model of neatness and organization. I remember being almost obsessive about taking notes (probably to the detriment of understanding at some points...), but I don't remember writing this neatly. And I remember NOTHING (ok, almost nothing) of the material. All that math, all that physics, all that chemistry? Gone. When JC hits high school? I may have to re-learn it all with him.

It almost feels like that was a different person. My life, but somebody else, or at least someone who doesn't exist anymore. I am so far removed from that time, that person. It really did feel like someone else did all that work.

And I threw it all in recycling. :)

Feeling Accomplished

It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone...

Actually, it has been somewhat quiet with JC gone (yes, I forgot to mention, he's back for another session at the same camp), and with John gone most of the week. We were pretty laid back - William had a day camp all week, and Rachel and I didn't accomplish much.

And then John came home.

Ok, Friday evening we went out to dinner and hung out with friends, but Saturday, ah, Saturday. We had spent much of the evening before debating what we wanted to do on a beautiful Saturday with no obligations. The "we could" list encompassed everything from sitting around watching TV to going somewhere and doing something. If we had been more specific, I suppose we might have done that, but what we did do was monumental.

We cleaned the garage.

Now, we've been parking John's car in the garage for more than a year. But it's little, and we'd kind of filled up the rest of the space, in addition to the stuff that we'd shoved over to make room for the car in the first place. John did probably 80% of the work, the kids were helpful and I did contribute. And we're not actually done yet - the front porch is full of all the various empty bins that got hosed out and weren't dry yet, and a few random things that need decision-making.

But I parked my car in the garage last night. Wow.

I don't have a "before" picture, but I took a few "after" ones!

Yes, there's a piano in there. Good thing John's car is short. It just fits, while still leaving room to get to the shop door on the left, there. You can't see it, but there is also a big, old-fashioned stereo cabinet on the other side of the piano. The kind that includes speakers and turntable all in one unit? Yeah, we have one (from his grandparent's house). John is debating turning it into the world's largest iPod speakers. Why? I don't know.
And here is proof that both cars fit, with room to get out, even. Barely. It will help when we can get rid of the piano. Anyone need a rather beat-up piano? Anyone?
We have some extra bikes that will go to the consignment sale this fall, and a truly staggering number of plastic bins that will get stacked up when they're dry (it's actually raining today). And of course, lots of random stuff like cat litter buckets (Freecycle, I hope), but really, to get two cars in after one day of work. Wow.
And JC missed it. He'll be staggered - but really really happy he didn't have to help.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Ok, not quite ALONE. I still have William and Rachel. But JC is off at camp (yes, the same one as earlier in the summer) and John is off to merry olde England for the week.

That leaves me with two kids, 10 and under. And William is going to a day camp all week. I'm not sure I've had this much concentrated time alone with Rachel since she was a baby and JC was in preschool.

No, not even then. Should be interesting.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Camping He will go...

We are taking JC back to camp today. It was hard to get motivated to get him packed, and while I think he's looking forward to it, there's not that excitement like last time.

We've been slugs for the past week and a half, and we're all still just tired. It's been a busy summer.

Feeling like the home stretch, now! School supplies are in the stores!