Tuesday, November 13, 2012

And There Was Light

We have power back on. 12 days without power is something I really don't want to repeat (yes, I'm aware that's a very first-world statement. I live in a first-world house in a first-world country). We cheated a bit by going to Indiana for 5 days with the marching band, and came home to power.

However, we still don't have tv, phone or Internet, so I am still posting from my phone. Hopefully, we will have our internet back on Thursday, which was the earliest I could get a service appointment. I have things to say and pictures to share, and that's tough right now.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

So Close and Yet So Far

We STILL don't have power. Friends of ours down the street about less than a mile away got theirs back this afternoon, so it is creeping our way. There was a crew working on our corner, and they said "maybe tonight, probably tomorrow morning".

I hope they are right. It was very cold last night.

We have rigged up our small tv to the old antenna, so we do get to watch some of the election, at least.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Put On Your Own Mask First

We are still without power after a full week. I referred to it as an anniversary, but the kids were not amused. The power company said "Wednesday?" when I called for a status update, so I don't know if she was trying to be hopeful or truthful.

We have reached the stage of tedium. It is really completely boring to be without power this long. It's not like there's much we can personally do to change the situation. John has power cords running all the house to make various things possible - I was able to do some computer work that  needed to get done and he even watched the Giants on the big tv (we still have an antenna in the attic). But he brought down the whole system trying to fire up the upstairs furnace, so that was the limit. It has kept him busy, and that's been a good thing.

Honestly, that's been the lesson. John and I have to be careful to keep ourselves on an even keel. Don't forget to eat, drink enough water, get enough sleep, etc.; because if you get stressed, the kids react, and everyone starts to fall apart.

Put your own mask on before you try to help others.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Still Powerless

Not sure what to say anymore. Yes, still sitting in the dark. Yes, still cobbling together a little power to for hot water and heat. John tried to fire up the upstairs furnace in the hopes of warming the bedrooms some, but we don't have quite enough juice.

The good news is that John was able to fill up his car without much trouble today, so hopefully the gas crisis is easing with Gov. Christie's rationing. And a few more roads are clear, and a few more people have power.

But not us.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Still in the Dark

We are still powerless. We've achieved a stable state of a little bit of power from the inverter, hot water, and we have plenty of food. We've done laundry at frIend's houses.

Being a "victim" in this case is surprisingly boring. There's not much we can do to regain electricity. We've done some cleanup on the yard but it's all non-urgent. The kids didn't have school, and evenings have been a lot of sitting around, talking of course, but still kind of slow. Just, you know, boring.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Sorry, the iPhone apparently not supported by blogger. Praying the forecast changes, of course.

Still in the Dark

No power here, of course, but it was an ok day. We spent most of it at a friend's house doing laundry. The kids played video games and surfed the web and are a little happier tonight.

We've seen a few signs of progress. There are new poles at the major street about a mile from us. Gas rationing goes into effect tomorrow (based on license plate, odd fill on odd numbered days, etc ) which will hopefully reduce the insane lines (and fights). We have not had to fill up yet and are waiting in the hopes things calm down.

We still have major trees down and getting I. And out of our neighborhood is a challenge. Which streets are open? Which was and is now blocked because they're working? I'll take it as a sign of progress.

But the weather is predicted to get colder and a nor'easter may hit middle of next week. Praying the f

Thursday, November 1, 2012

This is Not an Adventure

We are still without power and likely to be this way for some time. Our house is on the eastern side of the ridge in our town, and appears to have caught the brunt of the wind in our area. The eye of Sandy passed south of us, so the north side of the hurricane, which has less rain but stronger winds, hit us and our ridge sheltered the towns on the other side. They have some trees down and no power, but nothing like up here.

The trees all fell towards the west, so the north-south streets have multiple trees on them, some very very large. Power lines are down all over the place, and we've found one spot where a high voltage line came down and melted a crater into the asphalt - we are lucky no houses burned here. But there are power poles snapped and we've yet to see even a city crew even starting to clear roads. Power will be at least a week, maybe more.

We are surviving off an inverter John hooked to his car battery. It gives us enough for the gas appliances that have electronic ignition (water heater, stove, fireplace) and to charge our phones. We did have the router on it and internet - until someone cut our fiber yesterday. It was hanging kind of low across the street and I guess they thought it was a hazard to large trucks.

I was doing pretty well until we lost Internet yesterday and John couldn't get the water heater to light this morning. We used the last of the water for short showers, but it's going to be a long wait if we don't have hot water.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


No power. No damage to house. Posting from my phone so keeping it short. Will try to get some pictures up. Hope all are well and safe.

Monday, October 29, 2012


We have already lost and regained power here, so I figured I should post while I can.  It's been pretty uneventful so far, but we are still early in the storm. John hooked up an inverter to one of the car batteries, and rigged power for the hot water heater, sump pump, and stove.  He can also add in our fireplace (gas, with an electric gas valve and igniter) if it gets cold. He was supposed to fly to Toronto this morning, that got canceled Saturday night. They rebooked him for tomorrow afternoon, but that got cancelled already. So I don't think he's going to make it to Toronto this week, and that's fine by me.

So far, the biggest emergency? My children trying to figure out what to do with themselves without power.  Oh, the horror!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Unfortunate Trends

Dear Knitting World-
What is it with all these cardigan patterns that button at the top and are open below?


There are many more. All of these sweaters are lovely on the models, and some of them look really fun to knit, but... none of them would be flattering on me.  I have a stomach, it's bigger than I'd like it to be, and the last thing I need is some lovely lace contrasting with my shirt and drawing attention to it. Or a sweater that looks like I knitted it a size too small on purpose.

I'd love to see a trend of v-neck cardigans that button at the waist (or just above), and have clever ribbing or something that makes it look like I have a waist!  Yeah, that's it! I could get excited about that!

If you could arrange that, I'd be most grateful.  Thanks, Knitting World!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


We have pea gravel in our playground area. It's mostly cream colored, but there's the occasional piece of clear quartz.  When Rachel was little, say 3 or 4 years old, she would collect stones from the playground, particularly quartz ones, and ask me for a container. They were, I was informed, "meenie minie moe" rocks, and they were magic.

She never explained why they were magic, or what they did, or even how she selected them, but we had little containers of rocks stashed here and there for a long time.  I even found one a few months ago, cleaning out the back hallway.

William has friends over today, and when they came in from playing in the back yard, the little brother had his pockets filled with rocks.  I gave him a baggie to put them in, and you know, I guess they're still magic.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Perils of Suburban Living

I walked out to get the paper this morning, and there were three deer in the front yard - a doe and two fawns.  When I came out the door, one of the fawns panicked and started to run towards the back yard, but then realized that brought her closer to me (sort of). She totally lost it, and ran one way, then circled around, then back towards Mom, and was doing these crazy loops around the yard.  Her twin ran across the street, then stopped, and came back, and clearly didn't know which way to go.

Mama Deer? She stood there, watching me carefully as I walked up the driveway, got the paper, and walked out to the mailbox to get yesterday's mail.  It didn't spook her even when I picked up the recycling bucket and brought it back to the house. Granted, I did move smoothly and fairly deliberately and didn't come any closer to her than necessary. But she never moved her feet the entire time I was outside.

I wish I had a video - babies running all over the yard, Mama standing like a rock.  There's probably a metaphor there.

Friday, September 28, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different

Last week, I actually made some cards.  I know, it's been forever! But, as usual, having a little push makes me get off my duff, and my friend Janet invited us all for a swap.  I've mentioned these before - everyone designs a card, brings all the materials, and we spend the evening making each others cards to take home.  It's fun, it's creative, and it's a great chance to catch up with friends.

Here are the cards, in no particular order.

Janet, our host. You can't tell but the centerpiece is embossed in gold, giving it nice dimension.

Cathie's card. It looks a little fuzzy because the button stands out enough that the scanner can't focus.  The dress form is covered in a pearlized paint that gives it a lovely shimmer.

Ruth got my award for elegance and simplicity. The flowers are stamped on watercolor paper and then painted, giving it a lovely delicate feel.

I did not do Grace's card justice.  I was rather cautious and sparse on coloring in the wreath - her sample looked beautiful and autumnal and was really lovely.

It's completely lost in the scan, but the lighter paper on Jamie's card actually is a pale green with a little shimmer to it.  Somebody else stamped their turtles marching all the way from the back to the front, which was brilliant. And what a great card for a masculine birthday - those are always the hardest. Maybe not as elegant as Ruth's, but simple and fabulous.

This was my card (it's actually on a white background). I was inspired by a makeup bag fabric I had just picked up at TJMaxx, so I used a rainbow ink pad in Autumnal colors for the leaves and did a simple collage.

Shona's card.  The ghostly leaf images are done by sponging ink directly onto glossy paper, and then using water as "ink" on your stamp to lift off some of the color. (Use a dampened paper towel as your ink pad). Then we ran it through an embossing folder and lightly sanded to make the tree stand out.

There were only 7 of us, and although I missed getting to catch up with everyone who couldn't come, it was nice to be able to get through all of the cards and not go late into the evening. And now I'm feeling a little inspiration to get working on the cards I need to get in the mail!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Falling Behind

We are into the second week of school here, and I still feel like I'm wondering what happened.  In theory, all the kids are at school all day and I have plenty of time for housework and everything else.  In practice, everything else has exponentially expanded and I'm behind on housework and groceries and everything else.

Can I blame the fact that John is travelling every week? Not that he does a lot of housework (he is a whiz at laundry, though). But having another adult around does keep me more honest in terms of cooking dinner vs. getting pizza, and it does make things like back-to-back back to school nights more manageable.

Not to mention I'm much better about getting to bed on time when he's around.  Maybe THAT'S the real problem.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Same Thing Again

I've read several blog posts today about they weren't going to blog about 9/11 because they feel like its all been said before.

It probably has.  But that doesn't mean it isn't appropriate to say it again.  My children are young enough (even the 17 yr old) that they don't really remember, and one wasn't even born when it happened.  My 9th grader's Social Studies teacher told the class he was in 7th grade at the time. The generation that is teenagers now has only the vaguest memories, if that, of 9/11, and we need to tell them.

Tell them where you were when you first heard. Tell them how you felt. Tell them how the country reacted. Tell them everything, and if they're old enough, watch the videos. Because this horrible, extraordinary event bound our country together in a way that still makes my eyes well with tears. If we forget the sacrifices, knowing and unwitting, that were made that day, we do a disservice to those that were lost. We are a country that has survived revolution, civil war, world wars, assassinations, and horrific terrorist attack.  Like it or not, it is part of our national fabric now, and is part of what makes us Americans.

So say the same things again, about a beautiful day in September that became unforgettable in the worst way, and how you experienced it. "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." Let's not forget.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The End and the Beginning

Tonight is the last practice of Band Camp.  It's not the last practice of the season, of course, but it is the last of the all-day all-evening practices. They're doing a run through of the show tonight for family and friends.  Full uniforms, in the stadium, the whole nine yards.

It won't be perfect, of course, and it's always amazing to see how much they improve and add as the season continues.  But I love this event, since it's a sneak peek of what's to come. I've heard JC practice, and I've heard a bit of the rehearsals, but I haven't heard the whole show yet.

And then on Wednesday, they start school.  I'll have two in the high school and William at the intermediate school. Hard to imagine, really.  Both that Rachel is old enough to be st the highs school and that JC was once that young. And that my baby is entering 5th grade.

But I'm not any older.  Right? Right?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Band Camp For the Win!

Band Camp is kicking my butt this year, and I'm not even the one participating! We are on the 2nd week - all day rehearsals and back in the evening.  If it was football, they'd call them 3-a-days. It's challenging enough getting TWO kids out the door every morning with everything they need (and feeding them by 5:15 so they can go back), but William and I have been going to band camp, too. John's out of town this week, so William gets to be my shadow, poor thing.

See, the Band Parents Association helps with the management of the uniforms.  The Color Guard gets new uniforms every year, so that's not really an issue.  The Marching Band, however, purchases uniforms only once every 10 years or so, and they have to be cleaned and maintained, and most of all, fitted.

That's what we're doing right now.  We have about 140 uniforms and 128 kids this year. These uniforms (which are 9 years old) were sized for the set of kids they had 9 years ago.  We have to make the assorted sizes of this year's band fit the uniforms that we have, keeping in mind the director's guidelines that he wants them snug - no "potato sacks", as he put it. And when you have 12 kids that need a size 26 pant and only 4 pairs of 26's, well, you do the best you can.

So last week a group of parents got together and got everything sorted and labeled and prepped.  That took two and a half days. This week, the director is sending us small groups of students, who try on pants and jackets and shoes and it all gets packed into a garment bag and we keep records of who is wearing what and...

William and I have been there Monday from 12-3:00, and Monday night went back for a BPA meeting in the evening. We were there at 8:30 this morning, and left at 1 because the director had them over at the stadium and it was decided it would be easier to continue fittings during the evening session.  When I told William we had to go back tonight, he was NOT happy.  But I finally got smart and called a neighbor's daughter to come babysit. He's been a trooper, but even he has his limits.

Me? I'm being groomed to run this show next year because the current moms in charge both have seniors.  That means that next year, I get to be there for the ENTIRE process, kind of whether I want to or not.  It's the penalty of being a stay-at-home mom - there are jobs that have to be done during the day, so not having to take vacation time is a big deal.

Hmmm...  Maybe I should start looking for a job.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day Two - Boeing

Day Two in the Seattle area saw us heading north to Mukilteo, WA, location of one of the Boeing factory lines. The Everett facility is home to the 747, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner production lines, and is open to the public for tours 7 days a week. 

It's EXCELLENT.  Buy your ticket online before you go, as walk-in tickets are limited.

It was extremely cool to see the gigantic (and I mean GIGANTIC) hangers where they manufacture the airplanes.  They are so big that it is hard to comprehend the scale - there were 4 or 5 completed or mostly completed 747s in one of the hangers and they looked small. It wasn't until later in the week when we had the opportunity to stand next to a 747 that I realized how big it was.

Unfortunately, there are no cameras or cell phones or purses or ANYTHING allowed on the tours, so I have no pictures from the production lines for you.  However, I do have pictures from the "Future of Flight" exhibit that is part of the visitor center.

 One real, live 727 cockpit that you can sit in and flip all the switches.  It even had a warning sign that the control yokes are connected so don't hurt your copilot when you go into a steep climb.

Rachel and John are examining the navigator's station.  I admit to feeling a little sad at this display - my Dad worked on the 727-stretch when I was born in Seattle, so things like this always make me miss him.  Although if he had been with us, he would certainly have gone into lecture mode about airplanes. 

In honor of John's Dad (who is not deceased, merely in Florida), we took a picture in front of the GE turbine engine.  He worked for GE for many years.  Not on engines, though.
We had a great time at Boeing, then headed back to the city to meet our friend Cara in the International District.  She took us to Kinokuniya Bookstore, and the Japanese grocery next to it, and a dollar store across the street, which were all great fun.  Her mother was along for the ride and we had a lovely time poking around and looking for the most kawaii things we could possibly find. Then they took us out to dinner at the Fisherman's Terminal.  We got there before her father, so while we were waiting, we wandered around the docks.

 Fisherman's Terminal is a (mostly) commercial dock, so it had a huge variety of fishing vessels, and some pleasure craft as well.  We saw a couple of crab boats, but unfortunately, F/V Northwestern, of Deadliest Catch fame, was out to sea while we were there.

This was, possibly, the oddest boat I've ever seen.  It appeared to have a flat bottom like a scow, but the sides were very high and appeared to be plywood. It had a hatch on the front, like you could drive a vehicle in and out. And it was called "Thor". William and Rachel thought it was hysterical. They're still talking about it.

Next up: Glass!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pacific Northwest Day One - Seattle

Okay, technically it wasn't Day One.  We flew out of Philadelphia late in the evening (even later because of delays) and got into Portland at 2:30 am.  Yes, it was every bit as ... wonderful as it sounds, especially since the car rental place had closed already. But the bus to the hotel was fine, and the room was actually lovely and we were all asleep by 3:30 or so. Except that I woke by 7 because it was, ya know, 10am by my body clock. 

After we all dragged ourselves out of bed and ate and showered and picked up the car, we met my sister and her family for lunch, which was actually wonderful, and then packed up and hit the road for Seattle. Our nominally 3 hour trip took an extra hour + because of traffic, but we checked in to our hotel and headed over to our dear friend J's house for dinner.  Dinner was tasty and fun and the kids were having so much fun (she has two boys, one William's age and one a couple years younger) that it was well after 9pm before we headed out of there - after only getting a couple of hours sleep the night before.  To say that we went back to our hotel and crashed would be an understatement.

We slept in the next morning, so we missed the hotel breakfast.  But our plan was to go to Pike Place Market, then the Seattle Center Chihuly Glass exhibit in the afternoon, so surely there must be something breakfast-like at Pike Place, right?

Our hotel was in Georgetown, just south of the actual city of Seattle.  It was really quite convenient, although driving past all the docks was scenic only in the "wow, that's a lot of cranes!" sense.

Breakfast was from Piroshky Piroshky and it was beyond delicious. Russian pastries - Rachel and William had apple, JC had sausage, I had cranberry and sweet cheese, and John had some marionberry thing that was beautiful. Walk by the shop and you'll be hungry just from the smell. Tastes as good as it smells.

This is the famous fish stand that throws fish.  We stood there for a while, along with a LOT of other people, waiting for them to throw something, but they only do that if somebody BUYS something.
After lunch, we decided to walk down to the Olympic Sculpture Garden, en route to the Seattle Center.  We didn't quite realize just how far it was, but we were rewarded with this sculpture installation under an overpass.

Don't really know what it was or why, but it was interesting.  Except for the garbage.

The Olympic Sculpture Garden is lovely, has a nice view of the harbor, and the building is not open on Mondays.  Bummer.  But there is a bathroom downstairs in the parking deck, if you are in need.
Walk uphill/inland 2-3 blocks, and you end up at Seattle Center.  It's been renovated in the last year or so from a rather run-down bunch of kiddie rides to a very nice art and civic center.  The complex includes the Space Needle (obviously), several sculpture installations, and the Experience Music Project, which we didn't visit (ran out of time).

We actually stood under and around this sculpture for quite a while, because the helicopter was taking off from the TV station across the street.

It was cool.

Actually got all three kids to "pose", sort of.  I believe this was a Louise Nevelson.

We actually spent an hour or so at the new Chihuly Glass exhibit, but I will save that for a separate post.  As part of buying the tickets for that, you could get fairly cheap tickets for the Space Needle, so I did.  The line was long, although probably not as bad as some times.  It was worth the wait, though.

We got to see several sea planes taking off from Lake Union, which was really cool.

Looking back towards Pike Place Market, downtown Seattle, etc.
Our only miscalculation of the day was the distance we walked away from our car.  By the time we were done at Seattle Center, the prospect of a mile+ walk back to Pike Place Market was really out of the question.  We were lucky enough to find a good restaurant across the street from the Space Needle (yay Sport! Convenient AND yummy!). But we realized we could take the monorail back to downtown, then just walk a few blocks downhill to Pike Place, and that worked out just fine. The interesting thing was that by then, about 8pm, it was clear that downtown was pretty much closed for the night.  There were bars and nightclubs open, but any shopping was over. Given our hangover from the strange sleep and time change, that was probably just as well, because we were pretty over as well.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Where Did the Summer Go?

John pointed out last night that I hadn't posted anything since the Fourth of July (which, yes, I was aware of). And now it is halfway to August and we are anticipating Band Camp next week which means Summer is Over.


It's not that we haven't done anything blog-worthy (not that THAT'S ever been a consideration).  But we've been busy, or lazing around and "I'll get to it later" and suddenly, Fall is looming.

What have we done?
Camping (again, just after the Fourth and maybe I'll post some pictures)
Traveling (Seattle and Portland and again, pictures!)
Wisdom Teeth (poor Rachel!)
College visits (a few)
Hanging Out (this would actually be the major category).

So consider this the placeholder - I need to find my camera and get some pictures downloaded and maybe then I'll figure out something to say.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Sleeping late.

Burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, corn on the cob, chocolate cake, with old friends and new.

Fireworks, with a little lightning and just a sprinkle of rain thrown in.  Running into other friends.

The faint hint of gunpowder in the air, along with beer and sweat.  Smells like the Fourth of July.

Today? Happiness pursued and achieved.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Well, the pita bread didn't puff up like it was supposed to.

Looks like pork chops, I know
But it did make a tasty flatbread.  Next time I will divide it into smaller portions, and perhaps more rising time will give us the puffiness of pita.  It's definitely on the "tasty" list, though.

This is Why We Go Camping

We went camping up in the Poconos this weekend.  It's our favorite area to camp in - lots of little family-friendly campgrounds, a variety of things to do, and usually cool and pleasant.

JC stayed home, by himself, for the first time.  He had plans with friends, and also? Doesn't particularly fit in the trailer anymore.  There are 4 bunks in the "bunkhouse".  He is too heavy for the top bunks and too long for the bottom bunks.  And he declined our offer of a private tent.  However, he did have the excitement of a severe thunderstorm the evening after we left.  Torrential rain, high winds, and the next-door neighbors lost a major tree.  Fun times!  We came home to a large branch balancing on the power lines, but John was able to cut it off.

 Back to the trip. We drove through the rain and had a completely dry weekend. Made pancakes and bacon,went to a local flea market, hung out at the pool some, and did a fair amount of this.

We acquired a new accessory for our trailer - a Jiffy Pop extended handle!  Allows you to safely use your Jiffy Pop with a campfire.  Worked great.

And my favorite part of the whole weekend?  Rachel decided that William should read Peter and the Starcatchers, by Dave Barry (yes, THAT Dave Barry) and Ridley Pearson.  It's a pretty rip-snorting adventure, perfect for adventure-minded kids, but William was resistant.  So she offered to read it to him.  This was around the campfire Saturday evening.  They had started that morning in the car on the way to the flea market, and every moment in the car since.  And a session in the afternoon.  Not too long after this picture, Rachel decided her throat was getting sore, so I read for a while.

And now that William is finishing the book by himself, John and I may have to borrow it so WE can finish.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Taking Advantage

It is HOT and humid today.  Not a day for cooking.


I thought... what if I made pita bread?  On the grill?  That wouldn't heat up the kitchen and would be tasty for dinner with our left-over steak and salad.

So I have made the dough, and since it says to let it rise in a "warm place"....
I stuck it out on the deck.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Haiku - Just The Basics (by Rachel)

The first line is five. The second line is seven. The third line is five.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mom Was Right

I heard this story this morning on NPR and thought it was fabulous.

I love that he doesn't quite say that he was more scared of his mother than the police.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Loose Ends and Micro Cupcakes

1.  Rachel had a good time at the dance and a better time at the amusement park the next day.  I have seen one picture of her from the dance - she looks lovely and happy but you can't see the fantastic hair or the whole outfit.

2.  The Pampered Chef party was swell - the thing I was forgetting to do was take a shower after cleaning all day.  The consultant walked in, and I said, "Oh!" and abandoned her for 15 minutes to walk through the shower.  And the thing I was most worried about DID happen - I had so much hostess cash to spend that I really struggled with finding things to spend it on in the catalog.  I suppose there are worse problems.

3.  Still no picture of JC in his costume.  He had to skip the LARP event this month because it coincided with the Memorial Day parade.  If you are going to be in Marching Band, you have to march in the parade.  It was hot, though not as hot as last year.  The director didn't let them take off their jackets during the speeches, but he did let them march without their helmets.

4.  We had two snow days this week.  I suppose it would be more accurate to say that we had two days given back because we didn't use all our snow days this year, but it's more fun the other way.  William only got one - his school was closed for several extra days after the snowstorm in October because the power lines were down.  Yesterday, after he left for school, Rachel and JC and I (and a friend) went to New York City.  Mostly, we went to a Japanese bookstore with an excellent Manga selection (Rachel is a little obsessed).  But we also got lunch, of course, and found some tasty little cupcakes.  REALLY little cupcakes, they're barely a mouthful.  That means, of course, that you can have more than one, so you can try several varieties.  We got a dozen for the four of us, and simplified by ordering three kinds.  Yum.  But since they're smaller than mini cupcakes, I decided they were micro cupcakes.

5.  We also went up the Empire State Building because we were there and we had time.  Touristy, but really, you have to go.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Girls Are Different

We have tried fairly hard to raise our children "non-gendered".  Within reason.  I fix things around the house, John does laundry, we try not to label things as "man's work" or "women's work".  I bought a dollhouse for Rachel and didn't comment when William played with it more than she did.  They all played with trucks.


Tonight is the 8th grade dance.  It is the culminating social event of the Middle School.  It also takes place as part of an overnight trip to an amusement park, which only adds to the complexity.

When JC went, the biggest issue was teaching him how to tie his tie.  John practiced with him several times, but I ended up printing out instructions from online just in case.  Turned out that JC did fine on his own but a couple of his roommates borrowed the instructions.  Beyond that?  Nothing - didn't worry about what to wear - dress pants, shirt, dress shoes, tie.  All the boys wore the same thing.

Now it's Rachel's turn.  It's been a bit of drama, and I will fully admit that it is mostly my fault.  You see, she's not really a girly-girl.  She is perfectly happy to head off to school with her hair in a very simple ponytail, no makeup, no earrings, t-shirt and jeans.  Her fashion sense leans toward "tomboy", and "modest" which is just fine with us.  (Have you SEEN what teenage girls wear these days?  OMG!!!)  Having watched several friends with girls go through 8th grade dance prep in previous years, I was concerned that if she didn't amp it up a bit, she was going to feel uncomfortable and out of place.

So we talked and shopped and finally found a compromise outfit that is perfectly Rachel but fancy enough (skirt and boat-neck top).  She actually liked the dangly earrings and bracelet that coordinated.  And I talked her into getting her hair done - the school lets parents take the kids out of school for an hour to get their hair done during the school day before they leave.  We tried painting her nails last night to match her top, but she mangled one nail almost immediately so we took it all off and just put on clear shiny undercoat (actually much more age-appropriate).  I gave her a crash course in makeup application and am hoping her roommates may provide some guidance.  She got her hair done today.

There's about a million bobby pins and about half a can of hairspray (maybe more) so I think it will last until the dance.

Because, you see, the worst thing about all this?  Since the dance takes place at the hotel at the amusement park, I don't get to see her all dressed up!  They had a full day of school (sort of, it was pretty relaxed from the sounds of it), then loaded up the buses and left from school right afterwards.  They all had to bring their luggage to school in the morning (to get inspected for contraband) and will dress for the dance there.  Buffet dinner, dance, then tomorrow morning they will hit the park for most of the day.  Back on the buses, and call your parents about 15 minutes before you arrive back at school tomorrow evening.

It's been a lot of angst and some arguing, at least for me.  But I think she will be comfortably appropriate - I don't think there's many things more uncomfortable than being under dressed for an occasion.  Especially when you're 14.  I hope she has a really good time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I'm having a Pampered Chef party tonight. (Pampered Chef sells kitchen Tools and gadgets and such at home parties). I'm not having a party because I'm dying to get lots of kitchen gadgets, I'm having a party because I really needed a kick in the pants to get the house cleaned up. It's 2:45 in the afternoon, and I need to vacuum the back hallway, change the litter box, and move just a couple of things around. I've cleaned the kitchen and living room, the front hall looks good, (almost) all the piles of stuff are gone, and I'm just about ready. I've even baked my blondes and cooked the bacon for the consultant to use in her demo tonight. Unbelievable. Have I just jinxed myself?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ten Things on Friday

1.  I fixed the washing machine yesterday.  John had noticed that the upper agitator was not, well, agitating.  He figured out that it was likely the agitator dogs (little plastic cams), particularly since there were little broken pieces of them floating around the inside of the agitator.  I found the appliance repair store that carried parts, called to confirm they had them in stock, purchased them ($16.05 including tax!), found the YouTube video that showed how to open up the agitator to get to them, and installed them.  We are now agitated.  At least, our laundry is.

2.  I am a bad blogger.  I took no pictures of the process.

3.  I still have no pictures of JC in his costume.  It did, however, survive its trip through the washing machine (perhaps because there wasn't much agitation?), so there is still hope.

4.  My sister has officially finished her doctorate in education, and actually has her degree in her hands. I am insanely proud that we have a Ph.D. in the family.  And hugely impressed with her fortitude.  I was going to get my doctorate - I wimped out pretty early in the process, and I didn't even have kids at the time!

5.  There is photographic evidence of the graduation, and the degree, thanks to my mother. Does this make her a better blogger than me?

6.  And perhaps the best thing?  My sister has a job!

7.  John's birthday is tomorrow.  He has requested no presents, doesn't want to go out to dinner, and says that "if I make a cake, he will eat it."  I am sorely tempted to leave the event completely unacknowledged, except then I am afraid he will do the same for Mother's Day.

8.  My only request for Mother's Day is to not have to cook.  I am sure that there have been no preparations for any of my children (or my spouse) to cook, and I am also sure that there have been no reservations made anywhere for Mother's Day brunch.  I don't know what we're doing, but I'm not cooking.

9.  I have invited my friends over for a Pampered Chef party on Wednesday.  This is less a crass grab for hostess cash and more a last-ditch attempt to motivate myself to actually CLEAN the house.  It is working, but there is much left to be done.

10.  Perhaps I should expand my Mother's Day request to include help with the housecleaning?  It's only a gift if they don't whine about it, and I don't think I can push my luck that far.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I Am Officially a Nutcase

I was going to post about the third day of our spring break vacation, but life has gotten in the way.  Last week, I helped run a vendor fair as a fundraiser for the band parents association.  Good fundraiser, but as one of the co-chairs, it got a little... time-consuming in the last week.

This week, I lost my mind.  The back story is that my darling oldest boy has discovered LARPing.  Lest you think that is some great new video game, let me set you straight.  LARP stands for Live Action Role Play.  You see, some people who play role-playing games (for example, Dungeons and Dragons) are not satisfied to move little figures around a hexagonal board and roll dice to determine what happens.  No, they want to dress and run around the woods beating on each other with foam swords.

JC thinks this is great.  I think this is pretty great because he is running around the woods instead of spending the weekend sitting in front of the computer, and I don't have to yell at him about that.  He went last month for the first time, and loved it.  So last week, he asked me if I could make him a costume for the next event.  That was occurring in a week and a half.

Long story short, I made him a costume.  It took me all week, because I didn't want to make him some crappy home-made looking costume.  No, I had to look up authentic styles and real finishing techniques and rip things out because it looked wrong and generally drive myself batty doing it "right".

And I have no pictures to post, because he got home late from a school field trip today, and we were frantically running around getting him packed and transported to his ride.  Sunday, I hope, you can see him in all his glory - tunic, cloak (with hood!), pouch.  I even made little beanbags, which are used as spells in the game (you throw the beanbag at someone, and if you hit them, you've "hit" them with the spell you incanted).

Why couldn't I just slap something together?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Break, Part B

Not quite so summer-like today (but darn close).  I actually turned on the A/C - not because of the heat, but because the boys were really feeling all the effects of the current pollen explosion.  But back to Spring Break...

JC really liked Champlain College.  Majors, campus, philosophy of teaching, dorms (almost all old Victorian houses that have been renovated inside.  No two rooms alike), environment,... pretty much everything.  So I had suggested that we tour University of Vermont, since we were there anyway, and while he agreed, there was not much interest on his part.

Tuesday, we went to the UVM information session, again at 10am.  It was much more crowded (bigger school), and while they did a good job, it didn't grab any of us as much as Champlain.  The tour was fine, it's a lovely campus - not as hilly as Champlain, despite the fact that they are about a block apart.  Nice mix of new and old buildings, and a big emphasis on "green" design.  After the really good experience the day before, it may have been inevitable that UVM was a bit of a let-down.  Honestly, though, they just didn't have any majors that JC was really interested in.  Oh well.

So we sought out some lunch (downtown again), and headed off to Waterbury, VT.  Home of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory.  And better yet?  It was Free Cone Day.

William was ECSTATIC when he saw the silos by the building - the grey one says "Sugar" and the white ones say "milk" and "cream".  Yes, they really do contain those ingredients (well, liquefied sugar).  We asked.

This was our very entertaining guide.  I'm sorry, I didn't write down his name and therefore do not remember it.  This is actually the end of the tour - no pictures allowed in the factory area.  But the 10 minute or so film of Ben&Jerry's history was actually quite entertaining.
This is the door to the Quality Control lab.  The kids got all upset when I took this picture.  "Mom, he said no pictures!"  "Yeah, in the FACTORY area.  This is not factory."  Nobody arrested me.
This is the line for free ice cream when we came out of the tour.  Fortunately, we had taken the wise advice of the guide when we bought our tickets (which turned out to be free on Free Cone Day), and gotten our ice cream then.  And we had a generous sample at the end of the tour, and while we could have waited in line again, we'd actually had enough ice cream for a while.
Yes, this is the continuation of the line from the previous picture.  It goes all the way down to the bus.  And I didn't take a picture of the DJ and free popcorn that were behind me.  It got pretty crowded as the afternoon wore on.
The original of this bus, which Ben and Jerry drove around the country dispensing samples from, actually caught fire outside of Cleveland, which actually made for pretty good publicity - "World's Largest Baked Alaska"
A little dark, but it says "Flavor Graveyard".
There were about 30 "headstones", all with funny poems/sayings about the departed flavors.  I won't put in all the pictures of them that Rachel took, but I did like this one...

The most amazing event of the day?  William wanted more popcorn after we wandered around the graveyard.  So without quite asking permission, he ran back around the other side of the building to get more.  I didn't actually see him go, and after a while realized he was no longer playing on the playground.  About the time we were starting to actually wonder where he was, he came trotting back with his popcorn...and a t-shirt.  Seems he had been standing next to the DJ booth when they started a trivia contest, and he knew the answer to the first question they asked, because he'd been paying attention on the tour.  He won a "Life is Good" t-shirt, signed by Ben and Jerry, for answering this question:

What's the WORST flavor they've ever produced?

Sugar Plum.  Created in honor of a production of the Nutcracker, it was apparently just... not good.  Retired quickly.  But good for a free t-shirt!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Break, Part 1

Feels odd to be writing about Spring Break tonight.  It was only a week ago - but today hit 90 degrees and feels like summer in a big way.  But I will persevere, if only because I've finally conquered the hurdle of actually sitting down to write a blog post.

We went on a college tour for Spring Break this year.  JC is a junior, and I've had people telling me that we are BEHIND on this looking for colleges thing.  Granted, they are the kind of over-involved pushy parents that give parenting a bad name, but still, it starts to sink in anyway.  We went on a college tour in November, at a place that had a very nice campus but really wasn't a good fit for JC, and we managed to hit another college during its winter break and there were no actual tours available - we walked around anyway but it's not the same.

So we made the effort for Spring Break.  JC has received a ton of college porn during the last three months (you know, the beautiful brochures you get when they buy the PSAT/SAT mailing list).  The very first one to hit our mailbox was from this little college up in Burlington, VT, that, wouldn't you know, advertised a "Creative Media" major.  Creative Media (along with Interactive Media and about 16 other names) is what they call video game design, 3-D animation, website design, and similar programs of study these days.  The challenge is that every college and university seems to call it something else, so doing a Google search to find schools is... challenging. 

So this one found him, and as he did some looking around the school website, he liked what he saw.  I checked out their admission statistics and said, ok, this one has potential.  And you know, from what I knew of Burlington, it sounded like a cool little town to visit.  And Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream!

Off we went.  Burlington was great.  We got there Sunday evening, and had our admissions office visit at 10am on Monday morning.  And can I say, Champlain College has their act TOGETHER.  We got there, they had a name tag and tote bag for JC.  We got sent to the waiting room and a charming young lady immediately showed up to chat with us and answer questions.  The information session was informative AND entertaining (well, except for William, but he hung in there because I let him play his gameboy), and then they divided up all the interested students into groups for the tour.

 Our tour guide was Josh, who was also charming, entertaining, informative... and way too fast on his feet.  Burlington is quite hilly, and Champlain is on a very steep hill.  We started out walking UP the hill, trying to keep up with Josh, and then immediately to see a dorm room - on the third floor.  Then to the library, again the third floor.  The kids were ok, I was falling further and further behind.  But it was worth it.  This above picture doesn't do justice to the view.  It was lovely.  That darker blue is Lake Champlain, and you can sort of see New York State on the other side.

 It's a very compact campus.  Basically a city block, plus just a bit.  This is a statue of Samuel de Champlain, who of course discovered Lake Champlain (among other things).

 I thought this was great.  This is the "Stall Street Journal", on the inside of the bathroom stall in the Student Center.  Events and activities, in a location where you won't miss it!

After our campus tour, and lunch in the student center (courtesy of the admissions office, which I thought was a really nice touch), we went downtown to explore.  Yes, we drove, even though it was barely a mile.  It was a mile DOWNHILL, which meant we would have to hike UPHILL to return to the car.  We were already getting a little tired.

 But downtown Burlington was well worth the effort.  Parking was pretty easy, and there's a several-block-long pedestrian mall right through the center of downtown.  All sorts of cool shops and restaurants.

 This one's for you, Mom.  We didn't actually go in, but I loved the bright blue front, and the name of course.

And this was hysterical. 

We had a really good time wandering around downtown, went back to the hotel in the late afternoon to recharge our batteries (i.e., us old folks took a nap and the kids read/played Game Boy).  Dinner was back downtown at a local steakhouse, very tasty.  Alas, we got done too late to hit the gourmet cupcake bakery, they had closed about 5 minutes before we got there.

Tomorrow: University of Vermont and ICE CREAM.