Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Quarterly Update

I was debating whether to abandon this space, as the kids have introduced me to tumblr, and there's Facebook and Pinterest and so many places to express all sorts of things...

But, no. I'm back, for now at least.

It's been an interesting fall. We've had the adjustment to life with only two kids at home, which has been easier than expected except for the niggling worry, "is JC really ok? Is he really going to class and eating healthy and making friends and...." I'm pretty sure that's just my inner "Mom" voice that will be worried about my children for the rest of their lives.  I'm making peace with it.

We've gotten through marching band season. It went well, though I felt even more involved than previous years. I managed the band uniforms and chaperoned once and several new jobs, plus dealing with Rachel and the drama of colorguard (mostly not HER drama, but her dealing with the drama of the other members). And the colorguard uniforms were complicated this year (fantastic. But lots of laces). And the buttons popped off, so we got good at sewing on buttons, or did you know you can hold on a button with a safety pin if it has a shank and you have NO TIME to sew it on?

Soccer for William is over. They had practice Friday evenings, which was a pain in the patootie because, of course, band plays at the Friday night football games, so there was a lot of driving back and forth and compromising.

The big charity gala I help with is over, and went very well. Our only glitch was the online credit card acceptance wouldn't let us log in for some reason, but we managed to change the password and I ended up typing in credit card numbers on my phone. It worked well enough.

I have finished a scarf for JC. It matches the hat I made him over the summer. The stripes are a Fibonacci series (1,1,2,3,5,8... Next number is the sum of the previous 2). And I'm about to turn the heel on the socks I started in August. Knitting doesn't happen very fast if you don't sit down and do it. Picture later, the iPad and Blogger don't play together very well.

So I have a craft fair I'm running for the band parents in early December, and then, it's just family. Now that I'm down to one major volunteer commitment, it's a much less hectic time. But herein lies the trap for me - I'm much better organized when I have to be. Deadlines are my friend.

How about you?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Happy New Year!

I don't know about you, but I'm with the Yarn Harlot on Fall being the real beginning of the year. This year in particular, Fall brings a very "new" year for us.  William is in 6th grade, not yet in the Middle School but we can see it coming.  Rachel is a sophomore at the High School, that odd year between being a freshman and really being an upperclassman.  And JC is away at college.  There are a few adjustments inherent in that statement.

1) I am not in the least bit old enough to have a college freshman.  I only play at being an adult, how did this happen?

2) Likewise, he can't possibly be old enough, I REMEMBER going off to college and I was much older than he is (never mind that my calendar age was actually almost a year younger).

3) We are a family of 5 - in fact, on the way home from dropping him at school, we stopped for lunch and John was arguing that the server had forgotten a drink on the tray.  There were only 4....oh, wait.
(I will admit that #3 does make it easier to get a table at restaurants, but I digress.)

We are slowly adjusting to his absence.  I haven't cried, though I have worried off and on. I've tried very hard not to text/call him too often, though the weirdness of not having daily contact and knowing what he's up to is still pretty fierce.  I'll even admit that I've missed him most during band camp, as last year he was driving himself and his sister to every practice.  And Rachel will surely miss him more as she waits for the bus tomorrow morning - she didn't ride the bus once last year.

Tomorrow the other two start school. (There might be a very discrete happy dance from this mom). I'm looking forward to a more settled routine, football games and marching band, discussing books with Rachel and hearing William get better on the trumpet.  I'm even almost looking forward to helping with homework since Rachel is taking Chemistry and it was my favorite subject.  We'll see how much I remember...

I'm not looking forward to nagging about homework and bedtime, and getting up at the crack of dawn, but it all goes together.  And I'm sure by May of next year, I'll be counting down the days, looking forward to summer again.

Friday, July 19, 2013


It's been hot. We have central a/c and its still hot. I opened the front door to take out the garbage last night at 11pm, and it was like walking into a sauna. And we wake up in the morning and its already over 80 at 7am.  I don't know how you people in really hot climates live like this.

But hope springs eternal. I'm sitting here listening to tremendous thunder outside. Here's hoping that the heat and/or humidity breaks with the storm (at this point, lowering either would be an improvement!) and the weather report promises cooler weather next week.

Here's hoping the weather breaks before I do.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

17 Years

In case you haven't been paying attention on the news (or perhaps you don't live on the self-centered East Coast), this is the year of the cicadas.  The much-ballyhooed "Brood 2" of 17-year cicadas has emerged and is singing their love song and leaving shells and carcasses everywhere. Including my yard.

Seventeen years ago, we lived about 4 miles from here in the next little town down the hill. My sister-in-law lived in this house, and my oldest, who is about to graduate from high school, was a one-year old.

 And that was the last time the 17-yr cicadas were out in New Jersey.  Makes you think how long 17 years is, doesn't it? I was going to add a picture of JC as a toddler, but it was long enough ago that THEY WERE TAKEN ON FILM.

Two people stopped by my house yesterday, and both of them commented a variation on, "Are they always this loud?" Well, yes and no.  They aren't noisy at night, and they get louder as the day warms up. And then another friend mentioned that she had a decibel meter app on her smartphone.  Ah!

They were at about 65 decibels at about 10am and are now around 75dB at noon. According to the app, that's a loud conversation. John thinks they sound like car alarms.

How many more weeks of this?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Again

It is Friday again, but unlike last Friday, I am not frantically rushing to finish a to-do list. In fact, the only plan I have for today involves coffee with a friend, and getting William to soccer practice on time.

Last Friday:
1. Got the map put together for the vendor fair  - took less time then expected, but I also didn't get fancy and try to make a computer version.  Just made a list of table numbers and vendors, which was fine.

2. Got the cookie bars baked (they were yummy), but not the cupcakes.  That was ok because it turned out there were a couple of people who made cupcakes, which was plenty. Not everything sold, but I got to bring home my leftovers, which the kids appreciated.

3. Underarm gussets worked.  Yay!

4. Got 14 spell packets made by sewing 3 sides on the machine on a bigger piece of fabric, then cutting them apart. Then whenever I had 5 minutes, I filled and handsewed the 4th side. To explain it better, I'd have to draw you a picture.  Suffice to say, Rachel was appreciative - and the scrap of rainbow stripe fabric I used was a big hit.

5. Got William to soccer  bit late, but since we're almost always the first ones there, I feel no guilt. Rachel and JC didn't leave until after we got home anyway because the other girl they were giving a ride got home late from a school field trip.

6. Didn't try to meet with the janitors until Saturday morning, they got the cafeteria arranged in 20 minutes flat. Excellent.

I'm enjoying quiet week or two, but graduation is looming in about 7 weeks. Since the grandparents are coming, we are having a party, which means cleaning the house. Given the state its in right now, I think it might take all 7 weeks. Yikes!

Friday, April 26, 2013

I've Officially Lost My Mind, edition ?

Yet again, I have made choices against a deadline. And yes, they are choices that I have deliberately made.

1.  Tomorrow is the Band Parent Vendor fair.  I'm the co-chair.  I'm in charge of the vendors, and I have yet to make the plan of who gets which table (if we have people selling similar products, they get REALLY cranky if they are next to each other, and some people need electricity, and some have more than one table...). I also have to stop by the middle school and ask permission to put up a few posters because they are having an event tonight.  I also have not made said posters.

2. I have also volunteered to bake a couple of dozen cookies for said Vendor Fair.  Which is tomorrow.  I have not started (although the butter is softening right now).  I have ambitions to make cupcakes as well, but that may not actually happen. I know, I didn't need to make cookies - but we are having a sad lack of participation from the Band Parents for this event, and since I've told two different vendors they cannot sell baked goods because we're going to, I feel somewhat obligated to make sure there are baked goods.

3. Rachel and JC are going off Live Action Role Playing this weekend. JC has LARPed many times before and has his kit together pretty well.  This is Rachel's first time.  She asked me quite some time ago to make a white shirt for her existing Renaissance Faire costume - she has a two-sided bodice we bought her, but the floral side doesn't play well with her current striped shirt.  Yesterday, I decided I had the fabric, I really should do this.  They leave this evening.  I declare victory on this one:
 If you're thinking, "that looks like a nightie!", you are not far off.  A chemise was the multi-purpose undergarment of the Middle Ages. You wore it next to your skin, under your corset/bodice/jerkin, and it also acted as your slip or underskirt.  At night, you took off your outer clothes and slept in your chemise. I whipped this together after dinner last night (hemmed this morning).

I made it from a very simple pattern (rectangles and straight lines) I found online.  However, and I am kicking myself because I've made it before and had the exact same problem, this pattern makes an armhole that is way too tight for even a skinny girl like Rachel. She said it was "okay", but with that tone that says, "no, really it's not but I don't want to make a fuss."

Behold the fix:

That, my friends, is an underarm gusset.  My first ever. It is not the most perfectly sewn thing, and may break all sorts of tailoring rules, but I am hopeful that it does the trick. It's a costume, after all, and is only required to be reasonably sturdy and washable. And at least somewhat comfortable. But sucked up time this morning.

4. Rachel realized last night, in the middle of chemise construction, that she wants to play a spell caster. Spells are represented by mini bean bags. Oh. There are some for sale by enterprising players, but I really hate spending money on something I really can make for almost nothing. Put it on the list for today while the cookies are in the oven.

5. William has soccer practice right in the middle of when JC and Rachel are planning on leaving.  The saving grace is that JC can drive them, so I don't need to spend 2 hours on the road tonight.

6. Oh, and I probably need to go in and meet with the school janitors to explain how we need the tables arranged.  Guess I better get working on the floor plan.

I made the commitment to the Vendor Fair months ago, although I suppose I didn't need to say I would bake. And I could have been working on the sewing last week or even earlier this week.  The floor plan and cookies are really the things that HAD to wait until today (we still had vendors signing up earlier this week).  But you know? Don't tell anyone but the urgency is kind of fun.  Wouldn't want to do it every day, but once in a while adds a little spice.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I Am in Love

Yesterday was rather challenging. I lived in Boston 4 years during college, and have been back many times to visit. We still have friends in the area, and in fact, were there less than 3 weeks ago for Spring Break (in Copley Square on Boylston Street, no less). My heart goes out to all those affected by the bombs, and I pray for healing for the city.

That said, this morning, I missed a step while taking out the garbage and twisted my ankle (a bit, no swelling but it twinges some). Seemed like a perfect excuse to sit on the sofa with my foot up and cruise the internet.  And I found this:


This is a magical website full of fabulous videos. I started with Adam Savage of Mythbusters 
building a miniature Strandbeest. (Google it, it's awesome) I have watched video from a weather
balloon in space (with Hello Kitty!), how to make several recipes, liquid density experiment, and
on and on.  It is a simply marvelous collection for young and old.

I love this website. And it was just what I needed today.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Begin Again

What can I say?  I haven't posted for a couple of months.  Life hasn't been any busier than usual, but I guess my motivation was lacking (in many areas, not just blogging).

I did go on a bit of adventure earlier this week, albeit a bittersweet one.  One of my favorite yarn stores is closing in May.  I didn't go there often because it's about 45 minutes away, but it was lovely and helpful and all the things you would want from a local yarn store.  So a friend and I trekked down on Tuesday, stopping for lunch at a charming deli/luncheonette along the way.  (They were so delicious I bought chicken pot pies for dinner, which JC and I devoured.  He wanted the rest of mine, I refused, and then regretted because eating it all was a bit too much.  But so yummy!) The yarn was rather picked over, but I found a few things that were lovely, of course.

And then this morning, I got a notice on Facebook that my other local yarn store is closing in May.  What???!! This one is much much closer, not quite as large but equally nice.  In fact, I just had a wonderful experience there about a month ago, buying yarn for a chemo hat for a friend of my mother's. The saleslady could not have been more helpful.

So now I am left with no LYS within 45 minutes of here. I know, many knitters survive on the internet alone. But sometimes it's nice to touch things.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Morning After

I don't know about you, but my recovery time goes up along with my age. We had a few friends over for the Super Bowl last night, and a)I didn't drink anything and b) I hardly cooked (heating up ham and appetizers from Costco doesn't count). And yet I still feel sluggish and hungover today. I guess it's the staying up late and having to be more social than usual.

I spent part of the morning reviewing the reviews of Super Bowl ads. I don't know about you, but our consensus last night was that there weren't any really memorable ads - remember the Budwieser frogs? Not sure there was an ad last night that everyone was talking about in the morning. And the list of 10 best and 10 worst varied from place to place (including the occasional "my worst is your best", which is always entertaining). There were some very touching ads (Oprah's Jeep am, Budweiser, the Paul Harvey Dodge ad), and some clever ones (I liked the Mercedes sell your should to the devil one), but not much that made us laugh out loud.  Oh well.  It was still fun, and a good game in the end.

And dinner tonight? Maybe those appetizers that I forgot from the freezer...

Friday, January 25, 2013

It's Cold

Yes, I'm going to while about the cold, just like every other East Coast blogger.  Yesterday morning, I checked the Weather Channel and our town clocked in at 8 F.  Single digits don't happen very often, and just for perspective? Toronto, Canada at the same time was officially at 11 F.  It was colder than Canada, people.  That's cold.

This morning, though, we're besting Toronto by a full 4 degrees. Ooo!

Friday, January 18, 2013


I always sit in the chair at the end of the counter. Since I'm always the one getting up to fetch things during meals, it has become MY chair.

It has also become George's cuddle place.  If I sit for more than 5 minutes, George will hop up on my lap, whether I invite him or not. And he likes to be held, with my arm around him.  Anywhere else, he'll sit on my lap for awhile, but won't tolerate being held.

But every time he hops up, I was about to get up to do something - refill my water glass, stir a pot on the stove, something. It's uncanny how bad his timing is.

I need to teach George to bring a cup of coffee with him.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Small Things

1. Last Friday, I took Rachel to school. We left as the sky was just starting to brighten with the sunrise, and it was bright red. Candy apple red streaks, and really striking.  It wasn't until later in the day, when it had started to rain/sleet, that I remembered "red sky in morning, sailors take warning." I guess it's true.

2. I have studio time on the printing press today and tomorrow. The studio is sponsoring a print exchange - if I can get 25 prints done by the deadline, I'll receive 20 different ones in return. I have a somewhat ambitious plan, wish me luck! I'm hoping to remember to take pictures of the process.

3. I spent a very enjoyable morning last Thursday helping a friend learn to knit.  She is a long-time crocheter, and had a good grasp of knitting except for the casting on. I cast on a scarf for Rachel (Wingspan, on Ravelry), and am close to finishing the third triangle, which makes me excited since I might finish it before winter is over.  Maybe.

4. The scarf is to match her new winter coat.  It's purple and blue plaid. Do you know how many purples are in my stash, none of which were a good match for the coat? We settled for a variegated blue.

5. I have rediscovered my father's treasure trove of Terry Pratchett books. Terry Pratchett is a British fantasy author with a wicked sense of humor, best known for the Discworld series. I'd read a number if them, Rachel and JC have read almost all of them, but I picked up one of the books a couple of weeks ago, and now I can't put them down. I think I've been through 4 in the past week and a half or so.

6. Pinterest is to the Internet what crack is to cocaine. I might need an intervention.

7. I can't decide if I'm amused or annoyed - my computer has a touch screen (which I never use). Sheba the cat has decided that if I'm on my computer, that's the perfect time to get very affectionate with me and anything in the vicinity.  She rubs up against the monitor, and invariably her tail touches the screen and selects something random.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year, New Start

I have no excuse for not posting.  I can't say that I was exceptionally busy - the weeks before Christmas are always busy.  We got our Internet/cable/phone service back a week after our power came back on, so even that was before Thanksgiving.  So I'm not even going to try to recap all that happened between Hurricane Sandy and now, although I reserve the right to post about events at a later time and out of order (the horror!).

We took the kids down to Florida for Christmas - John's parents live near Daytona Beach, and we haven't been down there for several years.  They usually come up to New Jersey sometime in the summer, as three of their kids live here, but they didn't come this summer, so we hadn't seen them in a while.  It was time.

We drove.  It's not a challenging drive, but tedious, and slow before Christmas because it seems that everyone on the East Coast is driving south at that time of year.  We "collected" license plates, because, you know, you have to, and got all but 4 states (Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming).  And 3 or 4 Canadian provinces, too.  There's a lot of cars on the road. We left Friday evening around 5pm, spent the night in Fredricksburg, VA, and then didn't get into the Daytona area until midnight because there was so much traffic.

And now it's easier to tell the story in pictures.

Christmas morning, at my in-laws

Don't know if you're familiar with MineCraft, but it's a currently popular online game.  We paid way too much to get this set of limited edition MineCraft Legos on eBay, but it was worth it for the thrill it caused. If you're familiar with MineCraft, please notice that he's also wearing a MineCraft t-shirt.

William gave Rachel a small stuffed octopus that she was far more excited about than I expected.

John got a camera.  He picked it out, shopped for it, bought and wrapped it himself. I feel no guilt; he's happy.

Monday, John's dad took all of us (and our niece and nephew) to visit the Fairchild Oak.  It was big 400 years ago when Europeans arrived in Florida. I think one of the signs said it's estimated to be about 2000 years old.

Love the bit about "the follies of Mankind"

To say that it is dripping with Spanish moss is an understatement. And it should be in the dictionary under "gnarly". I don't mean the California definition, either. 

John's sister and her husband had to work Christmas week so their kids came over and hung out at Grandma and Grandpa's with us.  There was much video gaming on Wednesday. And another MineCraft t-shirt.

Thursday, we dragged everyone to a nearby plantation ruin.  This is the remains of the sugar mill, which processed sugar cane into white sugar using slave labor in the 1820s. It was a remarkably good historical site for a small state park - good signage and well-maintained. The kids actually seemed to enjoy themselves. A MineCraft hoodie this time (the green one on William).

And then we went mini-golfing. JC didn't want to participate until we divided into 2 groups.  I took the teenagers and John took the little boys.  They had two "courses", so we played separately and everyone actually had fun.  JC had a couple of unbelievable bounce shots - including one which bounced 3 times and did NOT go in the water hazard, much to our surprise. Rachel and Danielle tied for the win.

Mini-golf was across the street from the beach, so we had to walk over.  We walked down the beach about 1/4 mile, then back.  William was dying to go in the water but we hadn't brought towels or anything. And we were headed to a local chocolate factory  for their tour, so we kept him dry.  Ish.
And then the battery in my camera died and I didn't bother replacing it right away.  I have a few pictures in my phone still to upload, so I may share those later.

It was a nice vacation, although without our usual Christmas rituals, the kids kept saying, "It doesn't feel like Christmas!" It was lovely to see John's parents, and we had a nice visit, but by the time we left, John's dad had a bad cold.  Time to go.  We drove home all in one LOOOONG day (about 16 hours), because it was forecast to start snowing/raining along the I95 corridor that night and we wanted to beat the snow home.  It was nice to sleep in our own beds, but that's the only upside of doing it all in one go.

We had a quiet New Year's Eve, Rachel and JC each had a friend over for part of the day, but neither stayed past 10pm.  So we all stood in the kitchen, counted down with the TV, shouted "Happy New Year!", gave each other kisses, and went to bed.

And now we are back to routine.  School started on the 2nd, John leaves on a business trip to Toronto on Monday, band practice, dance class, midterms are in 16 days.... It's like we never even left.