Monday, December 20, 2010

I Suppose

I suppose I should change my blog header to something more seasonal.  Marching band is OVER.

I suppose I should finish start wrapping presents.

I suppose I should pack up (and mail) the boxes for my mother and sister and sister-in-law if they have any hope of arriving by Christmas.

I suppose I should clean up my kitchen so I have room to bake the next batch of cookies (sugar cookies for William's class by Wednesday - soy, dairy and peanut free.  I think I'm going for 2 out of 3).

I suppose I should dig out my dining room, currently filled with wrapping paper scraps and shipping supplies, in the vain hope that we could have a nice dinner at the table.  Or at least it won't look terrible if anyone comes over.

I suppose at the very least I should run out and get the last few presents on the list.  Any ideas for husbands?  Any at all?

But there's a heating vent under my desk, and the heat is on and it's wonderfully warm and cozy after the bus stop (22F and a bit of a wind), so I'm not feeling very motivated.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mixed Blessings

Well, the old dishwasher motor works, so the dishwasher works.  Yay!

But it's really REALLY loud (think small jet aircraft) in an open-plan kitchen.  Boo!

But I'm not washing dishes by hand.  Yay!

I have no faith that this will last longer than a few months.  Boo!

But I'd rather shop for a dishwasher in a few months than right before Christmas.  Yay!

But the microwave is getting flaky, too (it sometimes turns on the light and fan when you close the door).  Boo!

I've decided my appliances hate me.  But that's ok because I'm not too fond of them at the moment.  And I have a lingering feeling of "what's next?"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Not Firing on All Cylinders

I was going to tell you about the craft fair (although I forgot to take pictures, so not as interesting as it might have been).  But yesterday was a DAY (not even Friday the 13th!)

Started the day by taking my car in to the mechanic.  The check engine light was on, and blinking, which is apparently NOT GOOD.  The good news?  It made it to the mechanic, they had a light enough day to actually look at it, and it turned out to be the ignition coils which were under a recall notice.  One of my coils was actually cracked, so it really was firing on only 5 cylinders.  The best news?  Free!  Because it was under the recall notice.  Yay!  The bad news?  You really need to replace your rear brakes, at a cost of several hundred dollars.  Ouch.

Showed up to help with the book fair at William's school.  Sat around for 30 minutes before the mom who was authorized to handle the money showed up.  Having rushed through the gym and Costco to make it on time, this was not appreciated.

The day was taking a turn for the better until we started the dishwasher after dinner.  It ran about 10 minutes, then chimed the "help me!" sound and turned off.  After looking up the error code, taking it partially apart to look for obstruction, and spending some time on the Internet looking for wisdom, it still doesn't work.  We think it may be the motor.  This would be less annoying if it wasn't already the 3rd motor in 5 years (original plus replaced twice).  This is WRONG, people!  10 years, ok.  Then I would expect to be doing some work.  But the racks are already rusted through in spots and it's gotten progressively noisier (again).  I'm ready to throw in the (dish)towel on this one and just get one that works.  John wants to pull it out and put the motor that we took out this summer back into it.  He says it's worth a try - fine, but I'm still going to start reading reviews and shopping around.  Because even if the old motor works?  It's only a matter of time.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Still Here!

I (stupidly?) signed up for a booth at the Band Parents Craft Fair this year.  It's tomorrow.

I signed up about 3 weeks ago.

I don't have much to sell (letterpress cards and handmade journals).  I'm frantically trying to make more stuff in a week when I should have been stocking up for several months.

Can I just pretend that I have more stock underneath the table and if I run out, go home?  Given my past history with craft fairs, I have more than enough for the 2 people who will actually buy something.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Your Patience Has Been Rewarded

Pictures = William's 9th Birthday Party. 
Theme = "How to Train Your Dragon"
Goody Bag = A copy of the book How to Train Your Dragon, by Cressida Cowell.  Highly recommend for 8-10 yr. old boys and girls.

Step 1:
Make your equipment.  Shields and helmets.






Step 2:  Dragon Training.  Dragons are tricky beasts, and fighting them takes quick reflexes.  You have to be able to attack them, and defend yourself against attacks.






Step 3: Relax and enjoy the fruits of your victory.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Is it Worth Waiting?

I keep putting off posting so I can download pictures, edit them, and then upload fantastic blog posts with pictures.

Um... not so much, yet.

JC threw up all night Friday night, to the point where John called the airline at 2am and booked both of them on a flight home in the morning.  JC actually pulled a chest muscle from vomiting.  They got home Saturday afternoon, not long before William's birthday party.  JC hid in his bedroom and slept.  John helped with the party, which went very well.  Six guests, all boys, lots of foil and ping pong balls, and a totally awesome cake (How To Train Your Dragon theme, pictures soon, I hope). 

Turns out our band missed semifinals by two places, and barely a point.  Given the competition, I'm so proud of them!  But since JC and 7 of his band mates spent Friday night puking, it may be just as well they didn't have to perform Saturday morning.  As you might expect, the adults took it harder than the kids, and apparently the kids had a great time at the mall and then the finals Saturday evening.

They have one last performance on Friday, since the football team won again.  I think that will be it for the season.  Hoping they don't freeze their fingers off.

I have committed to a booth at the band parents craft fair in early December.  Given how little I have to sell, I should be committed.

Pictures to follow...(eventually)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Disappointment

They didn't qualify for the semifinals.  They're out of the competition.  :(  Too many really fabulous bands with experience on the national level, and our performance today was mediocre, really.  No spark, kind of flat.  Probably nerves, but that's part of the challenge.

And poor JC threw up twice tonight.  Could be something he ate, could be a bug, could be stress.  Could be all three.  I suppose that's the silver lining - he doesn't have to march tomorrow feeling sick.

Small comfort, really.

Slightly Breathless

It's been a busy couple of weeks here - William's birthday party is tomorrow, John and JC are at Bands of America Grand Nationals in Indianapolis right now, I've got a big charity gala next weekend (I'm on the committee), and I bought a table to sell stuff at an upcoming craft fair in early December.  There are not enough hours in the day!  Oh yeah, and Thanksgiving is in two weeks and then we crash right into the Christmas season.  Take a deep breath, here we go!

But I feel remiss not posting anything about Veteran's Day, so here's a great post from Suburban Correspondent about her military service.  I think it's an interesting perspective on military service.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What Does It Say About Me...

What does it say about me that I'm really amused that the "Knitters Without Borders" button on my blog overlaps the border of the page?

Bad Puns 'R Us, I guess.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hurrah! Hurrah!

They won!  The marching band won their division and the overall competition!  Another State Championship!!  (I'm just a little proud of them.)

Actually, I'm a LOT proud of them.  They spent yesterday, from 6:15am until 2 am traveling to and competing at another band event out of state.  (Where they also did very well.)  And one bunch of kids did not make it home until 6:15 this morning because their bus broke down (thankfully not my son).  That's 24 full hours of marching band for those poor kids.  Who got maybe 5 hours of sleep and then went back to rehearsal and then competition.

The parents in the stands decided that the band director must have given them Red Bull.  It's the only rational explanation.

Hurrah for them!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blog Redesign!

Yes, it seemed the Summer theme was getting a little... out of season.  And since I didn't have any good fall leaves pictures for the header, you get the marching band!  It is marching band season, after all.  JC is the 2nd sousaphone from the right.

Wish them (the band) luck this weekend - they have a big regional competition out of state on Saturday, and then the NJ State Band Championships are Sunday.  Oh, and it happens to be Homecoming today, so they are playing a pep rally during school and of course the game tonight.

All marching band, all the time!  At least for another 3 weeks.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10-10-10 on 10-10-10, part 1

I've mentioned before that my stamping friends like to swap cards - specifically, cards that we make that night at a shoebox swap.  Our group, however, likes to call it a 10-10-10.  This name originated with an event I ran when I was a Stampin' Up demonstrator.  I designed 10 cards, that were to take 10 minutes or less, and charged everyone $10 each to attend.  It was fun, although way more work for me designing all the cards, and I got a lot of flak about cards that took longer than 10 minutes (hey, I tried!). 

So we don't do it that way anymore - everyone designs one card.  Much better.  But we still call it that, and Ruth very cleverly offered to host a 10-10-10 on 10-10-10.  There were 10 of us there, although we did 11 cards (Cathie couldn't attend but sent hers).


This is my card.  My goal was to use a stamp set that I hadn't used before.  I love these little birds, but sometimes it's hard to build a card around a small image.  This technique would work with a variety of small stamps.  Not very seasonal, but I liked it.


Ruth went monochromatic again, and did it very nicely.  The fuzzy stuff is Mulberry paper, and it adds lovely texture.  And I think this is a great use of the funky paper clip.


Nancy designed this card.  It is very elegant and would make a smashing Christmas card.  It's hard to see, but the deer is embossed with tinsel, so it has a lot of glitter.  The gold layers are sparkly, too.


Sharon came up with this lovely, simple card.  It's the sort of card that stands very well on its own, or is easy to bling up a bit.  Again, a good use of an odd-shaped stamp that can be hard to build a card around.


This is Susan's card.  She kept apologizing for how simple it is, but we all loved it.  This is the sort of Christmas card that you can think about making for 50 people without having a nervous breakdown!

Blogger is insisting that's enough pictures for one post, so I'll break this up into 2.  Stay tuned!

10-10-10 on 10-10-10, part 2

Ok, if I do this right, I publish this first so part 1 is at the top of the page.  Yes, I know, it's taken me years to get so sneaky.  Onward to the cards!

Grace went for Halloween, a holiday I rarely make cards for, but I always love the Halloween stamps.  She had us stamp wonderful spooky clouds in the upper right corner that totally don't show up in the scan.  Try to imagine all that stark white with shades of grey.  Totally Halloween.


Shona's card also didn't scan well.  The central tree image is done as a resist, then cut into the 4 pieces and popped up on foam tape.  Great in person, not so great on a scanner.  The sentiment is actually stamped behind the rust layer, with a window punched and torn out to show it.  Very fun.


If there's anyone who thinks outside the shoebox, it's Cathie.  She couldn't come, but sent this charming bookmark - we all said, "hey, I never thought of doing something besides a card!"  It's slightly out of focus because of the button.  But aren't the fibers great?!


I think Janet got the award for the most oohs and aahs.  The trees, grass, hills and leaves are all stamped seperately (not each individual leaf, it was a grouping and a rainbow pad).  This card works for any occasion, including the bane of our existence - men's birthdays.

Sue came up with this one.  She said she had to dust off her stamp pads, she hadn't used them in so long, but the card is great.  More mulberry paper, behind the map image.


Last, but certainly not least, Linda also thought outside the box.  This is a black and white version of a picture she took.  We colorized it with distressing ink for a very very cool effect.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Where Does the Time Go??!!

I have new cards, and a book, and marching band, and who knows what else to blog about - but I haven't had time to sit down and actually put a post together!

Maybe tomorrow?  Or sometime?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rachel's Lament

(sung to the tune of the Toys'R'Us jingle)

I don't wanna get up
It's too dark and too cold.
It's too soon to turn the heat on, that's what I have been told.

It's 6 a.m. and much too dark,
I don't care what the weather is.

I don't wanna get up
It's too dark and too cold
Gonna stay in bed 'til the day's old.

Recovery

As I may have mentioned before, my church holds a consignment sale of kids clothing and stuff twice a year.  As I'm sure I've mentioned at least once, I run the sale.

The sale was this weekend.

I'm exhausted.

But it was a good sale, or at least, better than the one before.  We don't know the total net, yet - we have to pay the consignors first, which involves counting all the cards.  One for each item sold, and labeled with which consignor brought the item.  The church keeps 30% of the sale price.  We also take a small fee for advertising if you sell enough.  So that counts towards the church total.  And we do get some items donated so the church keeps 100% of that.

As you can see, figuring out how much we made is a little complicated.  Fortunately, that's not my job.  Somebody else has a complicated computer database all configured to calculate everything, so I am happy to offload.

All the consignors seemed happy at the end, and we got everything picked up, donated, cleaned up, etc.

Are we going to do it again in the spring?  Don't ask me that yet, my feet still hurt.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Really?

Did you know that you can go to My Kleenex Tissue and design your own tissue box?

For the low, low price of $4.99 each plus shipping.

Yes, I checked out their designs (you could make a "Happy Birthday" tissue box for someone!  What kind of message does that send?), and you can even upload your own pictures and art work (I blow my nose on you?).

But considering I buy my Kleenex in bulk, on sale, ideally with a coupon as well, I don't think this is coming to my house any time soon.

(OK, in their defense, you could cut out the bottom of the box and make it refillable.  But it seems like it should come that way for that price.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bad Sign

I think it's a bad sign that we've only had two weeks of school so far - and I'm already sick to death of getting up before the sun.

My oh so helpful husband pointed out that it's just equinox - so I have about 6 more months of darkness to look forward to.

Thanks, dear.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Parenting, For The Win?

Let me start with a disclaimer - the following post is not a whine, nor is it a "look at me, I'm such an awesome parent!"  I'm fully aware that there are many parents facing much more daunting issues, and I'm truly grateful that the problems I encounter with my children tend to be those of privileged suburbia.

That said, last night was one for the small moral victory column.

The scenario - Monday night.  As of this week, Monday includes a tuba lesson (5:25 to 6:10), and two one hour soccer practices at 6:30 and 7:00pm.  Quite doable, on an average Monday, albeit with a fair amount of driving and back and forth.  Dinner will not be a family affair, unless everybody wants to eat at 4:30 pm.  But it's only one night a week.  (There are other activities on other nights, but Monday is the big pile-up.)

This Monday, however, was not only the first soccer practice for the season for Rachel and William, but happened to be back-to-school night at the middle school.  I'm a big believer in back-to-school night.  Since I don't get to drop my children at the door of the classroom and get a little face time with the teacher anymore, this is my one big chance to meet their teachers.  Especially at the middle school and high school.  So...at least one parent will be going, at 7pm.

Enter the wrinkle - only one parent is home.  John had to fly out for business yesterday afternoon.  Now, as much as I've been telling the kids that I'd like my superpower to be the power to be in two places at once (with car, of course), it has yet to happen.

So, do you blow off the first practice of the season?  It's only in-town soccer, the kids probably wouldn't care much either way, it wouldn't be a big deal.  Except that we encourage our kids to participate in group sports to teach them responsibility to a team.

So I made the phone calls and emails and found the rides for the children, planned the low-cook dinner at home for everyone in stages (frozen pizza, but, hey, beats fast food!), got the equipment together and issued detailed instructions for who was going where and when.

And it worked.  I got to the middle school early enough to park decently close (as opposed to the off-site parking and shuttle bus!), all three kids were on time to all three activities, and everyone got fed an adequate dinner.  And they all got home and were safe and headed for bed by the time I came home (having a built in baby-sitter has been AWESOME).  And the homework even got done and instruments practiced.

I'd call that a win.  Sometimes it's the small victories that are sweet.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Antagonistic

We have a large oak tree in our front yard.  It provides wonderful shade in the summer that makes a noticeable difference in the temperature inside the house, and I think it looks nice, too.

But...

Autumn brings a challenge.  Autumn brings...acorns.  Lots of acorns.  Lots and LOTS of acorns (it's really quite amazing how many).  So many acorns that the yard and driveway under the tree go "crunch" with every step.  And if you are standing under the tree?

Watch out.

We have all been clonked by acorns, and my day is punctuated by the "thwack" of acorns hitting the car in the driveway (or the trailer, at the moment).  This year has been particularly dangerous, and there are times it almost sounds like rain, there are so many falling (a hard rain, get it?).

It doesn't quite reach the level of aggression of the Whomping Willow from Harry Potter, but it does sometimes feel as though the tree is deliberately pelting us.  It's a good thing it doesn't have better aim, but it's best not to linger underneath.

Or wear a helmet.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Not Like Any Other Day

September 11th has become an interesting day in our country.

It's not a holiday - while there are remembrances and ceremonies (much as Memorial Day has), there are no celebrations.  No cookouts and picnics and fireworks.

And yet it's not a regular day, either.  For my family, it usually coincides with the beginning of school, and all the resultant chaos that entails.  It usually seems that I spend the day alternating between thinking about the history of the day, and just doing the normal stuff.  And yet, when I do stop and think, it feels a little strange just being normal on this day.

I want to respect the memories of those who died.  Living so near to New York City, many of those people were my neighbors - I am lucky and perhaps unusual here that I didn't personally know anyone who was killed, but I have friends who lost loved ones.  Our small downtown has a memorial, and I know some of those names etched there.

I don't think I want September 11th to be a day off, a day of only remembrance.  We run the risk then of it gradually morphing into a holiday, and forgetting, as with Memorial Day, just why we have the day off and the mall is having a sale.  While I suppose that would mean that the terrorists haven't won (what could be more American than shopping?), it feels disrespectful.  People died that day, people who were innocent victims, people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and also people who knowingly ran into the burning building, or stormed the cockpit to crash the plane.  Is there any difference between them and the soldier that runs out into the line of fire to pull his buddy back?  They were all faiths and many nationalities, rich and poor, men and women. 

As a nation, we owe them a day not like any other day.  Their tragedy should remind us of what the United States is really about.  We may not agree with all the different ways people remember this day, but they died because we have the freedom to choose those different ways. 

And however you may choose to go about your business today, take a moment and remember that it is not just a regular day.  September 11th will never again be like any other day.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Adventures

A few weeks ago, in our end-of-summer countdown, we went with our church to a local amusement park.  By "local", I mean not 6 Flags, not an hour away, and not $60 each to get in.  By "with our church", I mean about 6 families from the church who met at the park and hung out with each other while the children rode and ate and otherwise competed to see who could reach nausea first.  (Actually, to the best of my knowledge, no one threw up or came very close.)

This is one of those smaller, older, slightly seedy looking places that probably did a good business before the larger parks went REALLY large-scale, and now eke out a living catering mostly to birthday parties and school groups.  (This one seems popular with Hasidic schools, last time we were there it was a boys school, this time, a girls school.  Makes for interesting people watching.)  Weeknights are usually pretty uncrowded so the kids can ride the same ride over and over if they want.

JC declined to go, as I recall, he was hanging out with a friend.  John was working late.  So it was Rachel, William and I.  Rachel's plan was to "be the big kid" and help ride with younger kids so parents didn't have to (yay Rachel!).  William's plan was to slide down the big slide (on the burlap bags).  And that was it.  "I don't like rides, they make my tummy feel funny."  This has been the case for a couple of years now, so I didn't really expect much.

Except...

One of the little girls, when we got there, was riding the "Drop Zone" over and over (and over) again. She's about 3.  William watched her for a bit, and then I think he decided that if this little peanut of a girl could do it, maybe he could to.
He's in the center seat.

It was like the floodgates opened.  He rode more than half the rides, including most of the ones that make me sick, and especially the roller coaster.

This one was mellow.  Peanut is in front of him.

You can just see the top of her head.  William was the Big Kid on this one, she was too short to drive.

This one makes ME feel really sick.  He rode it about 5 times in a row.  Or more.  Rachel's on the left side of the back row, William is on the far right of the same row.

Don't ask me what changed, but he was a maniac.  It was like he finally conquered the fear and all that was left was fun.  I was happy for him, and also glad he's grown up some.

Best part?  He was tall enough to go on every single ride by himself.  I didn't have to go on any.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Storm Before the Calm

Yes, I'm still here, still blogging.  The last few weeks of summer ended up being a little crazy, with camping and day trips and band camp and the unexpected death of a friend (that one was hard).  A little break was in order.

So it has felt somewhat stormy here, with bursts of activity and long lulls and some wild gusts too.  But tomorrow is the first day of school, and while the kids' activities will start up again in earnest, and there will much juggling to get it all done, it will be organized juggling.

Tomorrow is only a half day, but there will be more than 3 hours where no one else is home, and no one else needs me for anything.  I can't wait.  I have a coffee date with a friend I haven't seen in ages, and not too much that HAS to be done while they're at school.  After all these years of having kids in school, I'm finally learning not to overschedule the first week!  I need a little time to relax too, you know.

And to impose a little routine on our days?  That's a fine thing.  In three months, when I'm sick of getting up before the sun, you can remind me I said that, but right now it sounds great.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bad Knitting Karma and a Belated Birthday Wish

So, I have a knitting dilemma.  I have finished one lace sock, and it looks good...except that it is rather big.  I knitted a swatch, I got gauge, I measured my foot, and chose the size that would give me a bit more than an inch negative ease, and, well, it's a bit big.
It fits, it just doesn't fit as snugly as you might wish a sock to fit.  I'm afraid it's going to bunch up in odd ways when I wear it with shoes.  And I ended up shortening both the foot and the toe from the recommended length, or it would have been even bigger!  And yes, I double checked on the stockinette sole, and I was at the right gauge.

So what do I do?  Do I knit the second sock the same, and have two socks too big?  Do I knit the second sock smaller (maybe go down a needle size, or knit the next size down in the pattern), and risk having something that's too small, and then also have to tear out and re-knit the first sock?
I'll admit to being a bit stumped on what to do next.  Suggestions?

In happier news, it was Elizabeth Zimmermann's birthday on Sunday.  For the non-knitters out there, Elizabeth Zimmermann was an extremely creative designer of knitting patterns.  Not just pretty stitches, but some pretty amazingly innovative ways to construct garments.  Exhibit A of her creativity is the Baby Surprise Jacket.
Yes, it's an amorphous blob.  I've heard this referred to as "the obligatory amoeba shot".

This is for my nephew, and no, on this one I did not knit a swatch and therefore this came out somewhat larger than planned, which I suppose for a baby beats it being smaller, eh?

(Why is it that when I check gauge, it comes out too big, and when I don't check gauge, it also comes out too big?  Something's wrong with this picture.)


But, you say, it doesn't look like a baby sweater!  And what's the "surprise" part of the title?

Ta dah!  Fold it right, and sew up the shoulder seams, and surprise!  It's a jacket!  (I have yet to actually sew it up and still need to get buttons, but I'm still charmed.)

Knitting this was actually really, really fun.  It's a bit of a scary pattern - it assumes some amount of knitting knowledge (not much, really), and you have to have a LOT of faith in Elizabeth, because, while you're knitting it?  It looks like the amorphous blob.  She actually says in her original instructions, "Work will start to look very odd indeed, but trust me and press on."

Indeed, if you follow the directions (I did watch portions of the available DVD just to clarify a couple of sections), and just trust her, you get a very charming little jacket.  Well worth the effort, and truly, I found it very fun to knit.  I would highly recommend it.

So, a success at Baby Surprise, and mixed on the lace socks.  What do you think, same again, smaller, ???  Help me out!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

So Much for Quiet

Really, it was getting a little TOO quiet with Rachel and William gone.  Don't know what I'm going to do when they're all off to college.

We picked them up from camp on Saturday.  Sunburned, sandy, and very happy.  Happy to have been at camp, and happy to be heading home.  They appear to both have had fun (except for the sunburns).  We've been prying out stories gradually, indulging them with junk food and soda (both were not fans of camp food), and allowing semi-unlimited video game play.

But tomorrow, ah, tomorrow it's back to a rudimentary routine.  School is 6 weeks away, and time is flying by.  There's still fun to be had, but it's time to inject a hint of discipline in our days.

Just a hint.  It is still summer.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lace!

My first lace attempt.  Just finished the leg - waiting to start the heel until tomorrow.  I fixed the color as best I could (John took the picture with his cell phone), but, sadly, I really am about that pale.


The bobbin is just the excess from the long tail cast on (I either make my tail WAY too long, or just a bit too short), I just haven't cut it yet.  I'm hoping I have enough yarn.  I have two 50g balls of KnitPicks Essential in Grasshopper Kettle Hand-Dyed, and it seems like I'm cranking through the first ball really fast.

Pattern: Lace Rib Socks from The Little Box of Socks by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott.  More pictures when more progress.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Letters from Camp 2010

We've gotten a couple letters from Rachel and William at camp.  Actually, we've gotten a couple of letters from Rachel.  She's mentioned a new friend and some funny incidents at dinner, and that she hasn't liked the food much (no surprise there).

We have gotten one (1) letter from William.  It says, in its entirety:

"To mom, hi.  blah blah blah blah blah. from will"

Apparently John told him he should write at least a 10 word letter.  So he did.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Library Love

We don't use our library as much as I mean to (and yes, I do chronically incur fines for not returning things on time, but a friend described overdue fines as a donation to the library.  Guess I'm doing my part).

But I do love the library, and I loved this article I came across.  Libraries as the next big trend?  Sweet!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Free As a Bird

As I was walking back to the common area to give Rachel and William their almost-forgotten water bottles, I passed a mother dancing (yes, dancing) towards the parking lot.  As I passed her, she practically sang, "I'm free for a month!  Free for a month!"

You know?  Much as I love my kids, I'm a bit jealous.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Flown the Coop

Two of my little chicks have flown the coop.  We dropped off Rachel and William for 2 weeks of camp today.

Two WEEKS.

I can't believe my youngest is going to be gone for two weeks.  It's one thing to have JC gone for a couple of weeks - no offense, but he's 15.  I missed him, but I didn't particularly worry about him.  I had faith that he has some basic common sense, nightmares were not an issue, he'd remember to brush his teeth and maintain basic hygiene (well, he's a teenage boy.  Mostly basic hygiene.).  William?  I am sure the counselors will have him brushing his teeth and at least walking through the shower periodically, they tend to do those things as a cabin.  But his common sense is still developing, and not even a week ago he showed up in our room in the middle of the night after a nightmare.  And William is still cuddly with Mom.  JC, not so much.

But he was very much, "bye, see you later" when we left.  No weeping with that one. 

Even Rachel, who's entered the moody and sometimes oddly clingy pre-teen years, gave me an "aren't you gone yet?" when I went back to give her the water bottle she'd left in the car.

I'm quite sure William will be fine, it's just weird that he's older than I think he is.  Hazard of the youngest child, I guess.

Friday, July 16, 2010

And There Was Much Rejoicing!

I unplugged the dryer, plugged it back in, still nothing.
I unplugged the dryer, shimmy-ed it out a bit, tried to get the front panel off (felt like it should come right off, but it didn't), moved it out some more and looked at the back to see if that was easier (not), shimmy-ed it back into place, plugged it back in...

It worked!  I'm thinking there's a loose wire or connector (ALWAYS check for loose connectors first, that's John's first rule).  But I don't really care, it's working now and I've got the important loads done for camp.

And JC's home, just fine.  All my chicks safe in the nest.

For now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

One Thing After Another

Warning - There may be a bit of "woe is me" in this post.  Nothing serious, just accumulating.

The dryer has died.  I'm hoping John's right and it's just a belt, but he's diagnosing from work and I haven't dragged myself back down there to open it up and check.  We're in the middle of washing all of Rachel and William's clothes so they can pack for camp, and I was a bit behind on laundry from the weekend camping, so this is a serious crimp in our packing.

We're packing for camp.  Everything - EVERYTHING - needs to have their name on it.  Some things are labeled from last year, but the new underwear and socks we bought yesterday (to make it through 14 days of camp) are not, and they are in the washer (see above).  Along with most of the shorts they both own, which are a size larger than last year.  I'm starting to see an all-nighter with the laundry marker in my future, not helped by the fact that I am royally procrastinating this task.  Because I love it so much, you know!

We did get the brakes on the Suburban fixed.  Yay, credit cards?  Pile this expense on top of vacation bills and hopefully NOT new appliances.  Budget, smudget.  Actually, the real killer is the property tax bill due beginning of August.  We just LOVE New Jersey!

And there's a couple of other things going on, just adding a little joy stress to my day.

On the bright side?  JC is on the plane, winging his way to Houston and thence Newark, right now.  I can't wait to hear all about his adventures with Grandma.  Yes, we've talked on the phone -he's much more voluble in person.  Just keeping my fingers crossed that his connection is smooth.

All right.  Time to go dissect a dryer.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Crisis Averted

As you may have gathered from the extended silence, we have been away for a while.  The day after school let out, we left for Idaho to celebrate my mother's birthday.  All my siblings and their families came, we had a great time and a lot of fun.  The trip deserves its own post.

This is about what DIDN'T happen.  You see, we flew home Wednesday with the intention of turning right around and going camping with friends over the 4th of July weekend.  Thursday, we got the trailer out of storage, de-winterized, bought groceries, and did laundry.  Friday morning, we packed the food and linens.  John took our truck out to get the oil changed, I stayed home with the kids and was about to get clothes packed.

John called.  The Suburban had lost all brakes.  After I stopped hyperventilating, he went on to explain that after the oil change, he'd gotten in to start it in the parking lot, and the brake pedal went clear to the floor.  And he got out and saw that the truck had discharged all of its brake fluid in a puddle in the parking lot.

Um.  That's not right.  He limped it slowly to a Chevy dealer that was just down the road (thank goodness!), and after a few nasty carefully chosen words ("can you get me the number of a towing company so I can take my truck to a mechanic who cares?), got them to actually take a look at it that day.  Turns out, one of the brake lines had rusted out, and the rest were in the process.  Changing one probably would break another, etc.  No, it was too big a job to fix by this afternoon or even the next morning.

We didn't go camping this weekend.

We also didn't cause a massive pile-up or any fatalities by losing our brakes on the road while towing the trailer.  Of course, that meant we didn't make the evening news.

Strangely, I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's Over

Spring 2010 Soccer season is officially over.  There was supposed to be a tournament next weekend, with each team playing three short round-robin games "for fun."  But the notice came late, there was an entry fee (we play town "rec" soccer, the league for those who don't care much), and not enough teams signed up.  They had Rachel's 6th grade team playing 4th graders, so we pulled out.  They had William's 2nd grade team playing 2nd grade boys, 3rd grade boys, and 4th grade girls.  ???  His team was going to play, but last night the whole thing got cancelled.  Too many teams unhappy with the format, I think.

Can't say as I'm disappointed.  This means that for the first Saturday since early April, we have NO soccer games to attend.  We can legitmately sleep in.

Ahhhh.....

Of course, we still have Rachel's 2nd dance recital.  But that's not until 6:30pm.  I think I can be up by then.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Song in My Heart

Printed on a VanderCooke proofing press.  Hand-carved image, Font is Kaufmann 30pt.  Hand-mixed ink color (from what was around).

Can you find the error?

Friday, June 4, 2010

There Is No Remedy for Love But to Love More

That's the Thoreau quote that our friends used on their wedding invitation.  Very sweet, eh?

So, as promised, pictures!  Alas, I did not take "before" pictures, but I will try and explain all the pieces.



I tried to take a picture of it hanging, but, you know, it moves.  The pink bird on the tag is a punch-out from the save-the-date card.  It was stuck on a cool sepia-toned picture of the old mill that was the venue - but I could NOT figure out how to include it.  So I peeled off the bird and used that.


I made a memento box for them as well, from a Club Scrap kit I've had hanging around for ages.  The paper didn't match their theme at all, but it had that same vintage-y feel to me.  I made the card to match the box, it says "Love is the master key that unlocks the gates of happiness" on the inside.  The couple's initials are on the spine of the box, same paisley paper as the card.  Cut out with my Wishblade.


So I put the mobile in the box and laid the card on top.  I debated wrapping the whole thing, but was overruled by husband and daughter.  I did put it in a plain white gift bag to make it easier to carry.


I sort of wish I had not left it in the bag - it looked very plain on the gifts table.  However, it was apparently a big hit with the couple.  She recognized that everything was from their invitation (except for the wire!) and really loved it.

Yay!

I have to say, as craft projects go, assembling and covering the box was WAY harder than assembling the mobile.  The mobile was a little finicky - after you tie everything together, you just slide the strings to the points where everything balances.  Then add a drop of glue on each knot.  But it wasn't hard.  When we're talking projects, the part I find hard is content (and little tiny things you have to manipulate are always frustrating).  But I don't really think of myself as an "artist" and so things I write or draw or collage always feel a little pretentious.  I'm working on it.

However, I've picked up a new art form.  You'll have to wait until the pieces dry, though.  :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday Update

I will upload the pictures of the wedding present as soon as I figure out where John put my camera.  We brought it to the wedding, he had it in his pocket (since, you know, men's clothes actually HAVE pockets), and I don't know where it got to.

We had a lovely time, the weather was lovely for an outdoor wedding, and the whole event was very fun.  I shouldn't have worried about what to wear so much - the dress ran the gamut from fairly casual sundresses to backless halter mini dress with 4 inch heels.  And everything in between.  My dress was comfortable enough (a little lot warm in the sun) and I actually ditched my stockings half-way through the cocktail hour.  I wore flats and was glad of it - the ground was slightly damp from rain a day or two ago, and all the women in spike heels were sinking in.

The event was at a historic mill (state park) right on the Delaware and Raritan Canal, so we were treated to kids jumping off the bridge to go swimming and lots of bicyclists passing by.  Ceremony was non-religious, outdoors in a grassy area next to the canal.  (They wrote their own vows, so sweet!)  Cocktail hour was in the basement of the mill (and just outside), with lovely appetizers that just kept coming (prosciutto on toast with some cheesy stuff and balsamic vinegar was a fave).  Dinner was outside in a larger grassy area with an excellent band playing quiet music, and also very good (at least, the fish I had was excellent, John said his steak was a little overdone).  Then dancing, inside the Mill, to the same excellent band + the rest of their members.  If you ever need a band for an event nearish Philadelphia, or see them playing at a local club, I highly recommend The Philadelphia Funk Authority.  They were incredible.

I will admit to being a little sore and tired on Sunday (we weren't up THAT late, but haven't been out dancing in, oh, say, forever?).  Ok, ok, I fell asleep on the couch in the early afternoon.  But we had a really good time.  And now, it's Monday equivalent again.  And I'm procrastinating going to the gym (which I really need given the vast quantity of good food I consumed at the wedding).  Onward!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fail Whale

Just saw the infamous "fail whale" on Twitter for the first time.  I know, so lame to be excited, but I am.

I was GOING to tweet that John's car failed on the way home from roller hockey (so maybe the fail whale is more appropriate than I thought...).  He and JC caught a ride home with another hockey parent, and now he has called AAA and gone back to meet the tow truck.  With his dinner in a Tupperware, poor guy.

So with this, whatever it may be, and John going out and buying a suit (and a 2nd one for $100, and some shirts and ties and a pair of shoes (I should NOT let him go shopping by himself)), and the money I spent on a dress and necklace for the wedding we're going to this weekend, not to mention the gift...

I think the budget is shot for this month.  Does this mean I can just give up and stop cooking at home and talking myself out of buying things (not that I'm good at that anyway)?  I keep hearing about how Americans take on too much credit card debt and spend more than they make.  Can I just be like everyone else?

Don't yell at me, of course I know better.  I'm just tired of turning the A/C up to 80 and sweating today.  And cooking, somehow cooking has become a real chore instead of enjoyable.  Doesn't help that it was 92 degrees today and I didn't have anything in fridge or freezer that I could grill.

Oh, and I am still making something for the happy couple.  We bought them a gift, but I am also using parts of their "save the date" card and their wedding invitation to make a mobile.  A little different, I know, but when I pulled out the invitation to contemplate using part of it for a book, I had forgotten that the illustration on it was an old-fashioned hot air balloon.  (It was a funky, cool invitation, I wish I had thought to scan it before I cut it up, to share with you.)  That said "flying things" to me, and with all the pieces of the cards it seemed perfect for a mobile.  I promise I will take a picture when it's done (I'm close).

And I've discovered yet another obsession.  Carving my own stamps.  It is ADDICTIVE, I tell you.  Yet another thing to spend money on, though.  But there always is, right?

Monday, May 17, 2010

What to do, what to do...

No, no moral dilemmas here.  Just that we have a wedding to go to in 2 weeks.  The daughter of a long-time friend of John's from work.  The parents (our friends) are delightful, interesting people.  The daughter we have only met once, but she and her fiance seem delightful and interesting, too.  The sort of people that make ordering something from their registry feel like a cop-out.

Not that I have anything against getting them something useful, but I'd like to MAKE them something, too.  I'm thinking about a mixed media piece (also known as collage), with a love/marriage theme.  Or a little book with the same idea.  Feels a little pretentious to give them art they should hang up, a book they can choose to display or tuck away if they don't care for it.  But... I'm torn. 

Suggestions?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fail! (Kitchen Edition)

I made Macaroni and Cheese last night from my new Alton Brown cookbook that I got for Mother's Day.  Or rather, I tried to make macaroni and cheese.

I followed the recipe, really I did - even buying whole milk because that was specified.  But somewhere during cooking the sauce "broke" and we ended up with noodles and a grainy, nasty-ish sauce.  Edible, but not good eats.  I think I must have overcooked the cheese sauce during the thickening phase.  My stove burners run hot, and "Joy of Cooking" says to cook a bechamel sauce slowly over low heat.  Alton said "medium", and I over-browned the roux (although I don't think that was the main problem) and probably overheated the milk.  I think I tempered the egg correctly, the sauce seemed ok after that point.  But it was NOT cheesy gooey goodness, although the panko breadcrumbs on top were a big win.

Sigh.  At least the dinner we cooked for John for his birthday the night before came out well.  He requested a home cooked meal, and suggested the kids should help.  So Rachel made the cake (from a mix, but she did well), JC made the potatoes (Crash Hot Potatoes from the Pioneer Woman, yummy!) and helped grill the steak, and William helped make biscuits from Alton's cookbook.  Those were a big win, by the way, because even with his "help", which I'm SURE made for more working of the dough than the ideal, they came out tender and yummy.  And I made my first ganache (I know, what took me so long?), which was fun although really really rich on the cake.  Easy enough, and made us feel fancy (way faster than frosting, I'll say).

So it's a mixed bag, but I still love Alton.  Surprisingly, the book did not include any warnings or fixes about the cheese sauce breaking, but I'm betting if I could watch the episode, there would be some little comment that would make the difference.  John LOVES baked macaroni and cheese, so any help would be appreciated!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sweater Quest by Adrienne Martini

I went to the bookstore to buy something for John's birthday, and came home with TWO books for me.  (Yes, yes, and something for him)

I didn't open the book until sometime just before 3pm.  I finished it about half an hour ago, and that includes supervising homework, making dinner, a band parent's organization meeting, and MULTIPLE interruptions from my (beloved) annoying children.  Can't they see that I'm reading?

I know I'm a fast reader, but it really is a quick book, and pretty easy to pick up and put down.  And I enjoyed it thoroughly.  She's a mom, a knitter, a writer, and a college professor.  She likes many of the same things I do (NPR!  Terry Pratchett!  The Yarn Harlot!) and is clearly about the same age I am, so I identified with almost everything in the book.  Except the Type A personality thing.  Adreienne challenges herself to knit an insanely complicated Fair Isle sweater - and finish it in a year.  The last bit is the really hard part.

The book is not just about knitting, though, she goes a lot into the WHY of knitting.  Why handknit something that you could buy for much cheaper with less effort?  While she doesn't pretend to answer that question once and for all, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey she goes on to explore answers.

Good book.  Probably even for non-knitters (she translates).

Yay JC!

JC made Wind Ensemble!  That's an honors-level class at his high school, by audition only.  You're required to take private lessons (which he already is), try out for region band (which he did last year, but didn't make it), and be at school ready to play by 7:10am.  Grooooaaaaannn...

He won't get his driver's license until 17.

But we're very very proud of him.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Green Things and Hallucinations

When I was in High School, my friends and I thought it was funny to greet each other that way.  But as we are in the season of green things, it seemed appropriate.

We have started Spring Sports season here.  Practices, games, lessons, it's all fitting into the calendar reasonably well, although there's a lot of driving going on.  And it means that our formerly quiet (for the most part) evenings are over as of now.  But that's ok.  The kids are enjoying their sports, and so far, all teams are performing well.

But it also means I spend a lot of time waiting for game/practice/lesson to finish, and as I'm too cheap to spring for internet access for my phone, my computer time is more limited than before.

Some might say that's a good thing...

Greeting and Salutations to you and yours.  Happy Spring!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Think I Might Have a B-

I think I get mixed grades on parenting this evening.  One the one hand, I took them out to dinner, I let them have dessert, and I didn't make the two older ones practice their instruments (and I never actually checked the youngest's homework).

On the other hand, we spent 45 minutes or more all curled up on the sofa listening to classical music.  It started with a discussion about the marching band show for next year, which is all Aaron Copeland music.  That led to "who's Aaron Copland" from Rachel, so we had to actually turn on the CD player, listen, and then that led to an exploration of neighboring CD's (we have one of those big changer things), including several Copeland pieces,  Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite", and Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," which William and I listened to all of.  And after they had all wandered off, I put on Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons", which closed up the evening quite nicely.

I think it rather balances out, don't you?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lego Mania

Hey, look!  The Legos we saw at the Philadelphia Zoo were just in the process of being installed.  We only saw the polar bear and the gorilla picture.  Apparently there's many more now.
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/04/lego-artisan-creates-endangered-species-for-zoo.php

Tied Up in Knots

The church consignment sale is Saturday.  I have a volunteer coordinator who is scheduling everybody and (I think) has it all under control.

The usual suspects got the racks to the church yesterday, and put the signs out.

We don't have as many consignors as I would like, by definition that limits the amount of money we can make but there's not a lot I can do about that at this point.

Our advertising volunteer has been ON it, and while we probably never have enough flyers out, we have more than last time.  And we have 2 new signs out, so better advertising than usual.  I spruced up the big sign for the front of the church and got it out on time yesterday.  I have 6 real-estate type signs that I'm supposed to repaint this week and we'll put them out Friday night/Saturday morning.

And my stomach is all tied up in knots and I have a feeling of dread and soul-sucking fear that's making it hard for me to get anything done.  There isn't any real reason for it, and certainly doing stuff this week would be more useful than being paralyzed, but it's like I'm dragging myself through molasses.  What if we don't have enough consignors?  What if we can't get set up in time before the consignors arrive?  What if nobody comes to shop the sale?  What if we can't get rid of the leftovers?

I know, I know, deep breath and get back to work.  Remind myself that it's not just about the money, we also perform a ministry to poor families in the area both through an opportunity to shop and donations afterwards.  But, oh, would I like to make a BIG slug of money for the church!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Whaddya Mean, Spring Break is Over?

I could have used another week of sleeping in, honestly.  And we didn't even do much!  We ended up with a schedule of activity day, rest day, activity day, rest day, activity day.  It was actually a nice amount.

First activity day?  Their makeup day for snow, so everybody went to school.  Not that I got anything done, because by the time Rachel left, the school nurse was calling me to pick up JC, who wasn't feeling well.

First rest day?  It rained, and JC was still recovering.  TV and video games.

First real activity day?  The Philadelphia Zoo!  We've been going to this zoo since they were little, because it's a little zoo.  It's the oldest zoo in the country, so all the animals are up close and great for little ones.  I offered them the Bronx Zoo, New York City, you name it.  They picked Philly and the zoo.  They were probably the oldest kids there, but we had fun.  Got there in time to watch the Amazon River Giant otters get fed.
It's a great exhibit, you get to see them swim (and squabble over fish).
Other favorites, the small mammal house (vampire bats!  marmosets!  sloths!), and the reptile house.  We had a great view of the sloth, but apparently I didn't get a picture.  But here's one of the lions, who kindly offered us a show - he got up from his nap and pooped right in front of the fence.  The kids were in hysterics.

He was really stiff when he got up, and I could see he's got cataracts.  I sympathized.  They also had a cool Lego exhibit going on (although it looked like they were still setting up).

Yes, that's all Legos.  Under glass, so you can't rearrange it.  They had several of these and at least one huge Lego polar bear.

And then on Thursday, we rested.  Which really means the kids watched TV and played video games all day again.  Hey, it's vacation, I decided I didn't feel like cooking, so I played video games too.

Friday, John was back from his business trip, so we drove out to the National Canal Museum (and the Crayola Factory).  I've posted about the Canal Museum before, it's one of William's favorite road trips.  It was John's first time there, and we did have fun.

John being "Mr. Science" for William and some little girl, explaining how the gears work (it was set up so her litttle gear completely overpowered William's big one.  Very graphic when William could outmuscle JC).

William actually did do some of the craft activities at Crayola this time.  Usually he cruises through there as fast as he can.

I also discovered that the Martin Guitar Factory, in Nazareth, PA, is only 20 minutes away, and they do free factory tours on weekdays.  Psych!  Except... I didn't factor in that it was Good Friday.  Oh well.  We know where it is now, and it's a good day trip for us.  Next time.

And now we're back to the usual routine.  Probably just as well that we didn't travel anywhere, I'm having a hard enough time getting back in the swing of things!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Interesting Weekend...

I usually don't expect two major events within 24 hours - heck, I usually don't expect even one.  But it's been an interesting weekend...

Saturday began with such promise.  We went out for breakfast, which we NEVER do when we're home.  And we went to see a movie as a family in the afternoon (How to Train Your Dragon, which I highly recommend (but not for little kids, it's kinda scary)), which is also a rare occurence.  And we went for dinner as well, at Bertucci's, which is a bit of a drive and a special treat.  Appetizer AND dessert, which we never get.
Well, we paid for it later.  Rachel woke me up about 12:30am, saying, "Mom, I threw up."  I of course asked, "Do I need to clean up anything?"
"Yeah, in the bathroom."

Ok, at least it wasn't in her bedroom - that remains the saving grace.  I flipped on the closet light, grabbed the roll of paper towels, went down the hall... and realized a roll of paper towels just wasn't going to cut it.  She didn't make it to the toilet, and well, let's just say, I needed a mop and by the time I was done, I scrubbed the kids bathtub and cleaned the sink because I might as well finish the job.  It was gross enough that I actually told John to go back to bed because there was really no way for him to help clean it up (hey, I was really groggy at that point).

She seems to be feeling better (knock on wood), and I'm hopeful it was just the wierd food pattern and rich food (no lunch, lots of movie popcorn, and eating out for breakfast and dinner (including gigantic chocolate cake)).

So then this afternoon, I was waiting for John to finish something so we could go out and run errands (hey, I take time with my husband whenever I can these days).  Pushed the "on" button since I'd actually turned off the computer for once.  Nothing happened.  Nothing at all.

You know that feeling when you can't quite believe what's happening?  Like panic, but quieter and usually starts out smaller?  But grows?

I'm running a consignment sale for my church.  My database of all the consignor contact information is on my computer.  Do YOU think I made a backup?

So perhaps in Karmic payback for letting him go back to bed last night, John resurrected my computer.  He figured out it was probably the power supply, and came back with this in his hands.

I had visions of a mad scientist building a body out of parts.  Igor!  Bring the brain!

But it works!  And yes, I immediately made a backup of my database.  Two, in fact.  And I'm enjoying the fact that my computer desk is pretty clean, despite the fact that it's clean because he had to have room to work on the computer and we cleaned it by dumping everything on a nearby table.

Tomorrow is our makeup for the snow days, so the kids have school an extended play day in the school buildings because everyone is on vacation, and then we can really start Spring Break.  Oh, I SO need a day of rest.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Almost There

We have one more day of school on Monday, and then Spring Break! (Our district had to add a day because of all the snow days)

I can't wait.  Between the long winter, John traveling so much, and all the kids concerts, not to mention the impending consignment sale, I'm REALLY looking forward to a bit of a break.

Of course, John will be travelling during most of the break - but the kids and I are resolved to go off and do fun stuff without him.  Leisurely, of course, no getting up TOO early.  Although Rachel usually doesn't get up until 8 on a school day, and will sleep in 'til 9 or 10 if we don't wake her up on a weekend, so she might not get to sleep in as much as the rest of us (namely JC and I who are up before 6am).

My only rule?  We can't spend every day playing video games all day.  Maybe one, or parts of others.  But not every day.

We'll see what we acomplish.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

In Which I Become Somewhat Tired of Concerts

Our school district has a "Fine Arts Festival" every year in March.  There are concerts for chorus, orchestra, and band, and an art show.  Each type of music is on a seperate night, and includes groups from 5th grade up through the high school.  We've been attending since JC started music in 5th grade.  But since the two older kids are both musical, we now hit the trifecta.

Rachel sings in the 5th/6th grade chorus for her school, so that concert was last week.  2 5th/6th grade choirs, the middle school choir, 3 high school choirs.

Rachel also plays cello in the orchestra, so that was last night.  2 5th grade orchestras, 2 6th grade orchestras, 2 middle school orchestras (7th and 8th), and 2 high school orchestras.

JC plays in the band at the high school, and that concert is tonight.  2 5th grade bands, 2 6th grade bands, 2 from the middle school, and 3 high school bands.

I'll admit to being a little tired of rushing kids to school by 6:45, and not getting everyone home until 9:30pm.  And of sitting in the bleachers - just had a thought, can I bring my stadium seat tonight?

I suppose I should be glad it's not like last year - we had the trifecta plus.  Rachel and William both had pictures in the art show.  Which is yet another night.

Suzy Homemaker

I am not terribley domestic.  Oh, I can cook ok, and bake pretty well (especially cookies) and I know HOW to clean house even if I usually don't choose to, but I don't think of myself as a "homemaker".

But I had a moment yesterday.  Rachel had an orchestra concert last night, and even though the concert started at 8pm, she had to be there at 6:45.  Ugh.  She doesn't even get off the bus until 4.  And of course, she told me a few days ago that her black pants didn't really fit, but it's ok Mom, I can wear my dance pants.  Which are a little on the short side.  I didn't manage to do anything about this until yesterday (it's been a busy week with a consignment sale I participated in, and one I'm organizing).  I picked up two pairs of pants for her from Old Navy.  Girls 16 black jeans (all they had in black) and Women's size 0 (!!!) black pants.  Hopefully one would fit.

Rachel resisted my pleas to try on the pants until after 5.  She came down and said the women's pants fit but were too long - so at 5:30, I eyeballed the right length, ironed the hems, and started sewing.  I finished the hems, got her dinner heated up (rotissere chicken, I'm no fool on a busy night!), and even had time to finish my own before we left the house at 6:30.  And the pants are exactly the right length.

Hah!  Now THAT'S a sense of accomplishment.  Mom, you should be proud.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lyndon LaRouche is Still Around

Or, at least, his followers are.  I stopped at the post office in a nearby town to mail some letters today (and pick up a sandwich at the deli next door).  There were a couple of Lyndon LaRouche supporters there with large signs and an aggressive (but not obnoxious) attitude.  The posters were obnoxious - I would never have thought to equate Nixon and Obama, but there it was.

First they asked if their posters were large enough to read (most definitly).  Then they asked if I wanted to help them work to impeach Obama.

Uh, no.  Debated about debating them, but in my experience, people like that have made up their minds and NOTHING you can say will even begin to sway them.  Doesn't even matter if you have facts on your side.

It was a good sandwich, though.  And I'm sort of considering checking out the LaRouche website, except that it might encourage them.  Of course, it's really out of a morbid curiousity.

I thought he was dead.  Think if I'd mentioned that, it would have shut them up?  No?  You're probably right.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Artist, shmartist

The lunchbox auction was this last weekend (yes, in the POURING rain, if you've been following East Coast weather).

All of the lunchboxes were lined up on tables, with bid sheets in front of them.  I was dismayed to see that mine was not standing up to handling well - something I didn't think about during construction (well, I did a little, but apparently not enough).  Some of the leaves in particular had fallen off - I stuck things back on as well as I could, while still being discreet about it.  The exciting part was there were bids on my sheet!  More than one!  And none of them were my husband - although he did ask if I wanted to buy my lunchbox back.  Even though I'm really proud of it, I have a tendency to hoard things, so letting go was important.  And what would I do with it, really?  Display it on a shelf?  What's the point of that besides bragging to my friends?

So we didn't bid, and someone else bought it for $50.  $50!!!! There was a bid for $60-but it got crossed out.  I'm feeling a little insulted by that, but oh well.  The winning buyer is a high-school biology teacher, and she loved the roots idea, and planned on bringing it to school to show her kids that science can show up in unlikely places (or something like that, it was noisy there).

No, I didn't bring my camera.  Didn't think of it until we were well on the road.  No, didn't even take any pictures with my cell phone.  I'm both glad it's over (felt very self-concious) and thinking, ok, what next?  The book art on display in the next room takes so many forms, it does make me feel like I should keep working.  I keep saying I'm going to block out time every week, but that hasn't actually happened yet.

But the printmaking group near us has posted its spring class schedule...maybe this time I can actually go.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Whose Homework is it Anyway?

In 2nd grade in our town, the kids do a unit on their heritage.  Every family has to send in a list of what countries their ancestors are from, and the teacher picks one for the child to do research on.  JC did England, Rachel did Canada, and William got England again.

The parts of the project have not changed much over the 7 years between JC and William.  There's an oversized postcard (actually, that one I don't remember with the other two, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen), where they have to create a collage of pictures from the country.  There's a family shield, which has to include country flags from all your claimed ancestors, pictures of your interests, a family picture, your last name in big letters, etc.  This has shrunk by about half over time, which isn't a bad thing.  And it now includes not only the outline of the shield, but specific areas for each section, and a fancy banner at the bottom for the name.  There used to be a lot less guidance and a lot more area to fill.

And there's the food for the "international festival".  We haven't gotten a notification about that part yet, but I'm assuming it's coming.  It's always the hard part for most parents.  Some countries are easy, in terms of characteristic cusine; we have lots of Italians in our area, and there's lots of choices for Italian foods and desserts.  England is a little harder, as most Americans don't associate the English with a particular cusine, or if they do, it's not necessarily a good association.  And I'm not making bangers & mash or fish & chips for a 2nd grade class.  The only fact that William has come home with from his research is that the English tend to call dessert "pudding".  And that there's one called spotted dog.  So I may try to come up with a pudding or trifle when the time comes.  Although bubble & squeak would be fun just for the name.

(The hard food was for Rachel.  Name a typical Canadian food (most people I asked said, "beer").  After some research (yay internet!) we came up with a Canadian cookie called a butter tart.  Very yummy, by the way, and I was looking forward to making them again.  Oh well.)

But the thing you'll notice about all the projects is that they are impossible for a 2nd grader to do on their own.  I suppose if provided with magazines and such to cut up, they could pretty much handle most of the collages by themselves (except for the lettering, probably).  But I don't have magazines with pictures of England lying around, so we're stuck with the Internet again.  And the instructions specifically ask for parental help.  Ok, William and I did some Google image searches and he picked out which pictures to use with some guidance.  But in the process of printing them out, I realized it was more efficient to arrange them on a page to fill the space.  I was going to have him cut them out and glue them on the postcard when he said, "we allowed to print them right on the paper".  Oh.  Well, ok, I added a nice fancy font "England", and printed it right on the (letter-sized) postcard.

So far, all he's done is pick out the pictures (mostly) and I've done the layout and printing (and eventually the baking).  Does this mean I can pass 2nd grade?