Fall woods

Fall woods

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Good Friday Night

Himself's gumbo preparation is in full swing, I am on my eleventh or twelfth baking sheet of cutout cookies for The Girl's school bake sale (pecan, gingerbread and now sugar), and zydeco music is blasting.  The kitchen is a complete disaster, but that's okay; it smells amazing in here!

Himself has the stovetop and one end of the island, I have the oven and the other end of the island--so far, we are managing to stay out of each other's way while both getting our cooking done.  Good wine, good company, and good smells...this is a soul-feeding evening and for that I am grateful!

I Just Sat Down For The First Time In Two Days

Thursdays suck.  I don't even want to go into the whole schedule for that day because it makes me tired to think about it, but in general:

get kids up and to school
knee rehab (bike)
taekwondo class
errands, errands, errands
get kids from school
kid activity #1
kid activity #2
kid activity #3 (which ends at 7:30-7:45PM)

all in a row, with time somewhere stolen to be home with the dog.  Oh, and in there I have to feed the kids dinner and make something for Himself to eat when he gets home, too.

Enough by itself, but then last night a friend had a holiday get-together at her house that started in the middle of kid activity #3 (Himself very kindly relieved me from kid detail on his way home from work so I could go.)  And I still had to pack lunches for the kids and get my house ready for a construction crew when I got home from her house!  I accepted the party invitation earlier in the week, when I didn't realize how bad Thursday was going to be: I would SO have cancelled yesterday if it wouldn't have been rude.  And you know what?  That party was the best part of my day, and probably my week.

It wasn't a huge fancy deal, either.  The lady who hosted it is a bigwig in the local community, but very nice and involved in absolutely everything related to the boys' school (in a good way.)  It's a lovely group of women who are involved in all that stuff in general, but we are usually so busy with whatever events we are organizing that we don't have time to enjoy the company.  The point of last night was simply to spend quiet time together socializing before the holiday insanity gets too insane!  Wine, low-key food, good conversation, and re-grounding in the friendships that keep us going in the midst of all the stupid stuff we have to deal with every day.  I walked out of there with recharged batteries...funny, I hadn't realized how empty my tanks were until they were filled.  And they were very, very empty.

Got home at 10PM and started on the rest of the day's tasks...primarily, getting the house ready for the influx of workers today.  When we bought this house, there were six different flooring materials on the first floor alone: two kinds of (heinous) linoleum, two kinds of carpet, wood in the front hall, and nasty institutional white tiles in the hall bathroom.  Last year's kitchen renovation took care of the two kinds of linoleum--they were replaced by porcelain tiles that look like slate.  The current job involves tearing up both the hallway wood and the hall bathroom tile and replacing them with the same porcelain tiles that we have in the kitchen and laundry room--to get ready for the demo crew, I had to clear out the bathroom and hall closet and hallway.  My guest room looks like a bomb hit it at the moment, but oh well.

And of course, this couldn't just be a flooring job--I was told this morning that I need a new sink and toilet and I already knew I needed to replace the light fixture, so apparently we are now doing a total gut job on the bathroom as well!  At least it should still be done by the end of next week (please???)  We'll need both an electrician and a plumber to finish the job, too.

Thank God that the friends coming for the Cajun feast tomorrow have good senses of humor and are okay with big chunks of plywood floor and having to use a second floor bathroom!  Never a dull moment around here...    

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Warning: Scroogelike Rant Ahead

I have 10 stations pre-set on the radio in my car.  Two of the ten have been playing nothing but Christmas music since several weeks before Thanksgiving--one adult contemporary, the other best-of-the-70s-80s-and-90s type.  A third just started playing Christmas-only this week, this one a country station.  (And the countrified versions of Christmas carols it is playing are really awful, too--just saying.)

Dammit all to hell, it isn't even December yet and a full 30% of my pre-sets are already off limits to me!  Just can't face Christmas music yet.

Bah HUMBUG.


She's Got The Fever

My daughter has just discovered Justin Bieber, God help me.

The video for "Baby" has been in constant play on YouTube for the last two days, much to the disgust of her elder brother.  :)



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Power Struggle

Just for something different, we lost power today.  Five or six times, actually, but fortunately only briefly each time.  The electrical grid around us is so old that a breath of wind or a drop of rain takes it down, sad to say: part and parcel of living out in the sticks across the street from cows!

I had intended to bake some of the cookies for The Girl's school fundraiser this afternoon, but decided not to risk using my electric oven with the power popping in and out.  Ended up making two more batches of cookie dough (caramel malt chip and thumbprint tea cookie) and calling it a day instead.

On the bright side, the school board meeting tonight was blessedly uncontroversial and world-record short--on balance, I'll take it!      

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Cajun Feast

It's always a good thing when Himself looks over at me and remarks, "I feel like cooking.  Let's have some friends over this weekend."

Now, he is not a day-to-day sort of cook.  99% of the time, the kitchen is my domain.  His repertoire is limited and he cooks almost exclusively in crowd-sized quantities.  But what he makes is amazing.

Back when we lived in Texas, one of his best work friends was a good ol' boy from eastern Louisiana, a proud graduate of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.  This guy hung out with a crowd of his former frat brothers, all also from Cajun country, and every single one of those boys could cook like a dream.  (One of said frat brothers actually went to middle school with me in the United Arab Emirates, proving definitively that this is an inordinately small world.)

Anyway, under the guidance of this motley crew, Himself learned to make real gumbo, red beans and rice, and jambalaya, all of which he is going to cook for us on Saturday!  My involvement will be limited to procuring the ingredients for him and making rice and garlic bread (and possibly a salad.)  My kind of entertaining.  Two families of close friends are coming over, bringing kids, dogs, a dessert and an hors d'oeuvre between them.  We will stuff ourselves silly, drink lots of good wine and just enjoy the company.  I can't wait!


Gumbo...

            
Red beans and rice (my absolute favorite...)


And jambalaya.  Yum.



Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's A Good Thing I Like To Bake...

Did not get any more holiday decorating done today, but had a nice long walk with the dog (good for both of us!) and made a bunch of necessary cookie dough instead.  I'll take it.

For various logistical reasons, The Girl does not attend the same school as her big brothers (although she will from next year on), and her current school has a big fundraiser every December that involves selling cookies.  It brings thousands of dollars into the school, but the catch is that each child's family must (yes, must--not sure what they do if you refuse) send in 12 dozen cookies by the middle of December sometime--I forget the exact date.  This means that you are seriously up a creek if you have more than one child there: one of my friends is expected to send in 36 dozen (!!) cookies, and since she is a working mother of her three children, I have no idea when the hell she is going to have time to bake that many cookies.  Especially since they want pretty holiday cookies, not run-of-the-mill chocolate chip.  Yikes.  And my mother, who ordinarily would be ALL OVER my part of this job (she is a primo baker) does not arrive with my dad for their holiday visit until a day or two after the cookies are due in.  (Never fear, she will be put to work making the traditional family favorites after she gets here!  And helping me paint my hall bathroom and take down shelves in The Girl's room and a hundred other things, but that's another post.)
Since I am constitutionally incapable of waiting until the last minute to do anything major, I started browsing cookie recipes on the Web this afternoon, printed out a stack of potential candidates, and then made two batches of cookie dough, which will be sitting in the freezer until whenever I actually have time to bake and decorate the cookies.  These two are pecan (above) and maple-walnut spice (below middle) respectively...I will also be doing gingerbread men, sugar cookies, and I think probably chai shortbread and chocolate malted cookies as well.  I don't need all of these kinds just for the cookie sale, but since I have to bake for it anyway, I will make a bunch of different kinds now and just stick some in the freezer so there is one less thing on the to-do list before Christmas dinner, which is always at our house.
 



I haven't even thought about what to serve for Christmas dinner yet, but that's OK.  One thing at a time...I think that will be my mantra for this crazy month.  In any other direction lies madness!



Okay, I Promise To Stop Posting About College Football For A While...

But I have to share this.

On Oct. 28th, ESPN analyst Mark May promised (former ND coach and fellow analyst) Lou Holtz that he would dress in a leprechaun suit and sing the Notre Dame fight song on national television if Notre Dame made it to the BCS National Championship Game.  Well, it did and he did...


He's a man of his word, anyway.  Funny clip!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

We're Going To Miami!!

ND 22, SC 13: ND is 12-0 and headed to the national championship game at the Orange Bowl!

Fall Is Officially Over

This morning I packed away all my Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations (and cooked and pureed two small pumpkins that were on my dining room sideboard, which will become pumpkin bread later this afternoon) and then dug the first of the Christmas decorations out of the basement.  The house now looks like a bomb hit it with all the boxes everywhere, but it's a step toward getting ready for the holidays, and I had to get some Christmas things out anyway to use as props for our Christmas pictures.

My friend Gretchen is a professional photographer, but would not let me pay her for the shoot at our house today.  And God knows she deserved to be paid--we must be five of the least photogenic people on Earth!  Who's not looking at the camera, who's blinking, who can't follow directions, who's making a funny face...it is virtually impossible to get a decent picture of us all together.  And we didn't even try to get the dog involved!  Hopefully one picture of the whole family came out well, but if not, we will revert to our usual practice of sending out a card with three separate pictures on it--one of each kid--and call it a day, since this is definitely one of those holiday things that is just not worth becoming crazy about.  (See?  I'm learning...)

Gretchen is also in my taekwondo classes...she is relatively new in town but we immediately clicked as friends, so it feels like I've known her much longer.  While I was shopping in a kitchen store yesterday, I saw these cookie cutters and immediately bought a set for her as a small thank-you, in addition to one for myself--she cracked up when she saw them, as expected.   I know what I am bringing to the holiday party at the dojo this year!


Having temporarily OD'd on holiday stuff, I took a break from the activity with a cup of tea and the Wireless catalog just now and just have to share some of my favorite t-shirts.  (Bear in mind that I am a raging dork and please don't judge me...)



  




  And last, but not least:


Over and out...

Friday, November 23, 2012

I Bought A Pair Of Shoes Today

Yes, I realize that most women aren't all that excited about finding one pair of shoes.  But I am!

I've mentioned before that I am very tall: about 5'10."  Many people who are tall have correspondingly large feet, and I am no exception--size 10 or 11 depending on the shoe.  Let me just tell you how much fun it is trying to find shoes in those sizes...most of the cute ones max out at size 10.  (In fairness, I'm told by my aunt, who wears a 5 narrow, that a similar problem exists at the other end of the spectrum.)  Because shoe designers are apparently total morons who have not grasped the connection between shoe size and height, the ones available in my size often look like this:



Because I'm not tall enough already (yes, I am being wildly sarcastic), I clearly need four-plus inch stiletto heels!  GROWL.  At any rate, our Black Friday expedition invariably includes a stop at a particular large shoe store, which I almost always leave empty-handed, but not this year.  Cute flats in my size and on sale...the stars must be aligned for me right now!  Guess I should go buy a lottery ticket before they move too much.

It was a successful day overall, too.  We left my in-laws' house at the highly civilized hour of 7:30AM and returned at 3:30PM, during which time I found Christmas gifts for my mother, my mother-in-law, my three children, two of my nephews, my husband, all of my kids' teachers (homeroom, special ed, and CCD), my dog, and even a girl whose birthday party my daughter is attending next week.  And as the icing on the cake, something for my father, who is the single most impossible person in the universe for whom to shop!  The man has everything, and whatever he may decide he needs, he goes out and buys for himself, so this is a real coup.  (Bless you, Apple Store!)  To celebrate, I bought myself some mascara and eyeshadow at Sephora and a ring at Macy's in addition to my shoes.  Merry Christmas to me...

A very good two days of extended family time, delicious food, and productivity.  Not relaxing at all (I had to steal away for a few minutes alone when we got home today to recover my equilibrium), but that is the goal for the next two days...peace and quiet, maybe a little puttering with decorations, and having our pictures taken for the Christmas cards.  Small, low-key goals: balance for the craziness.  It was good for my type A soul to get so much accomplished, though, because it takes some of the pre-holiday stress away.

But now I am tired: time to curl up with a cup of tea and watch some mindless TV!

 






Thursday, November 22, 2012

Full Of Turkey

And beyond tired.  Can't imagine that some hardy souls are, even as I type, gearing up to go out and shop all night!  More power to them...they can have the early bird bargains.  I am curled up on my in-laws' sofa in my fuzzy pjs and will not be moving until bedtime!


A Traditional Thanksgiving

Another pet peeve of mine!

I know that we will be listening to Christmas carols for the full hour it takes to drive to my in-laws' house today; the deal I have with Himself is that he will not subject me to anything Christmas-related until Thanksgiving Day!  I'm with Nordstrom on that.  


The hatches are already battened, although I do feel slightly better about the impending season since we finally sat down and decided what we are getting for the kids and placed some online orders.  I'm not quite so far behind the 8-ball anymore.

And I even relented when he wanted to watch Love Actually last night, even though it is technically a Christmas movie.  Of all the tangled plotlines in there, my favorite is Jamie and Aurelia (no surprise given my adoration of all things Colin Firth!) closely followed by John and Judy.  Laura Linney's character makes me so sad...clearly I am lower than dirt, but I'm not sure I could make that kind of sacrifice and I really have a hard time watching her scene with Karl after the Christmas party.  And of course, after a glass or two of wine I find myself flipping off the tramp secretary and her slimeball boss every time I see them on screen!  (Ahem.)

Anyway, the turkeys for the kids' dessert are made, and actually came out very well (not quite as pretty as the picture below, but hell, I'm a scientist, not an artist!)  If you ever try to make them, do use the kind of chocolate cookie frosting that comes in a pouch and is designed to harden quickly for the 'glue' that holds them together--this is critical.  And it is much easier to pipe the details if you use the small tubes of decorating frosting (not gel) rather than the large tubes.


Per tradition, we will go down to my in-laws' house early, let the kids and the dogs (ours and my sister-in-law's Belgian Malinois) run outside until they tire themselves out, and then eat.  At the end of the evening, Himself loads up the kids and the dogs and comes home, while I stay over in preparation for the traditional Black Friday shopping experience with Himself's mother and sister.

Now, let me say that I had never in my life shopped on Black Friday before marrying into this family, but it's one of those bonding things.  (Much like running all those races with them early on!)  Ours is a fairly civilized version of the insanity--we leave at 7, not in the middle of the night--it's more a girls' day than a frantic search for bargains or I would have opted out long since, tradition or no tradition.  We do the same route every year, pick up some Christmas presents, have a nice lunch, buy shoes at DSW and makeup at Sephora, and return exhausted and with a full car mid-afternoon.  Himself and the kids will have come back while we're out; we eat leftovers and then all load up and go home in the evening.  Then we have Saturday and Sunday to recover!

Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving, wherever you may be and however you are celebrating it...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Roads Not Chosen

Thinking again today about how I ended up living here, of all places.  The short answer is that I followed a man (who subsequently became my husband) when he chose to take a job in this state.

By my count just now, I've had five serious significant others, including Himself.  The other four men are (now) an anesthesiologist in Texas, an Air Force pilot in Louisiana, a civil engineer in Wisconsin, and a chemical engineer in Pennsylvania.  Besides the fact that my beautiful children would not exist, just about every element of my life would be different had I married any of them rather than Himself, which is a sobering thought.  Of the four, we had, in no particular order;

Mr. Good Guy At The Wrong Time,
Mr. Okay Guy But Wrong Guy Altogether For Me,
Mr. Geographically Inconvenient Who Subsequently Became Way Too Much Of A Thumper For Me Anyway, and
Mr. More Baggage Than Continental Airlines.

One was way too possessive and made me cry.  Another would doubtless have been unfaithful over the long haul (and could have been in the shorter term for all I know.)  The other two are genuinely good men, both happily married now with children of their own.  I've kept in touch with both of them, but not the first two.

Each of these guys helped me to learn what I need in a relationship so that I was able to recognize the real keeper when he came along: something else for which to be thankful this week.  Even if I did end up living in a small town with cows in the field across the street from my house!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pride Goeth Before Turkeys

Was awarded something for the wrong reason this morning and that fact is stuck in my craw like a jagged boulder.  The fact that I arguably deserved it overall isn't helping, since I essentially got it out of sympathy today.  I know this probably sounds cryptic, but it's not a big secret or even anything important--it's a petty situation and just not worth the words of explanation that would be required.  The bottom line is that I don't want anything I don't earn fair and square...call it stubbornness or pride or whatever you like. (I have both of those in spades, unfortunately.)

So, I came home, loved on the dog for a while, and then got to work in the kitchen, which brings me peace.  To my great joy, the boys' Thanksgiving celebrations at school tomorrow do not overlap, and my daughter's school party is kids-only and blessedly does not require any party contributions from home. (Logistics are [is? singular or plural?] half the battle on holiday party days with three kids in two different schools.)  I just made a chocolate cream pie for Thing One's party, and when I get home again later this afternoon, will be making a plate of these cookies for Thing Two's class:


 Oreos, peanut butter cups, malted milk balls, frosting and candy corn.  Cute and easy.  These will be my Thanksgiving dinner contribution as well if they work out...my mother-in-law asked me to bring a kid-friendly dessert.  And as long as I manage not to eat too many of the component pieces while making them, I should be able to avoid any more pre-Thanksgiving trips into the insanity of the grocery store as well!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Doing Better Today

Cleaned house for five hours straight this morning and feel slightly better; it's one way of claiming control over my surroundings and I am nothing if not a control freak!  Our office was a flaming disaster and is now actually presentable...no more teetering stacks of paper on every flat surface.  Mind you, next week's recycling will now be a significant undertaking given the current overflow of paper in the bin, but sufficient until then is the evil thereof.  I also finally mustered the strength of will needed to tackle the Halloween decorations--they are down, if not yet put away.  One step at a time.

Nearly rear-ended someone on my way back from taking The Girl to school this morning...fool slammed on his brakes at the last second before making a turn.  First turn signal...THEN brakes!

But it gave me a chance to find some funny bumper stickers:
Love this one!
And, of course...
And then, my favorite of all:

Ok, I feel a lot better now.





Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weekend Recap: The Good, The Bad, And The (Very) Ugly

The Good:

*Notre Dame's football team is #1 in the country right now!

*Thing One scored a beautiful goal yesterday (on a free kick!) to tie a key soccer match for his team, and earned the captain's badge for today.

*Thing Two played goalie for three quarters of his soccer game today, and did a great job focusing (for a borderline ADHD kid, this was awesome.)  The other team only scored on him twice, and they were totally legitimate goals. I was so proud of him!

*Beautiful clear, sunny weather for all four soccer games of the weekend.

*Himself and I had a lovely dinner out with friends last night (sans kids)--can't remember the last time we managed to synchronize babysitters with another couple, but we need to do it again soon.  And much more often in general.

*Tonight's dinner: roast pork tenderloin with homemade peach chutney, smashed sweet potatoes with rosemary and onion, and green beans with bacon.  Yum.


The Bad:

*Weekend totally overscheduled, as usual, leading to highly crabby parenting.

*Thing Two also played goalie in his game yesterday, and apparently spent the whole game watching his shadow and counting airplanes or picking daisies or something.  Himself about had a heart attack watching (I was with The Girl at her practice and mercifully missed this.)

*In today's game, Thing One was playing center defense when the other team scored four goals in a row.  Not quite sure what happened, but it was painful to watch.

*My right hand is still seriously bruised from taekwondo on Friday night...yet another reminder that technique is far more important than power in board breaking!  Ouch.

*Spent a stressful hour this morning working out the kids' winter after-school schedule--regular soccer being done for the winter, now we are juggling basketball and once-weekly soccer clinics for all three at their respective age and skill levels into the schedule with all the other crap they are already doing.  Came to the conclusion that I will need to clone myself (and my drivers' license) if there's to be a prayer of getting all these kids where they need to be when they need to be there.


The Ugly:

Actually had a crying breakdown this afternoon out of sheer overwhelmedness (if that's a word?) on the way home from the grocery store.  Thing Two didn't mean to throw a carton of eggs into my shopping cart upside down in such a way that every single one broke (he was trying to help me load the cart in the checkout lane, bless his heart, and I didn't notice him picking up the eggs) but that was the absolute last fragile straw at the end of a long day at the end of a long week.   At least I managed to cry rather than yelling at him...a small victory.

My Halloween decorations are still up.  I don't have the heart or energy to take them down, because that means I will then have to think about Christmas and I REALLY don't have the energy for that.  Christmas used to be my favorite holiday, way back before I became the one who has to make the holiday happen for everyone...now, just the thought of all the shopping, baking, wrapping, organizing, decorating and dealing with class parties etc times three is enough to make me want to go to bed now and get up sometime in January!!  The season officially starts this Friday whether I want it to or not, and it will drag me along with the flow whether I like it or not.  The radio stations are already playing carols, and I turn them off every time I hear them.

Bah, humbug.  Maybe a good night's sleep will help...







Saturday, November 17, 2012

Holy Frickety-Fracking &%@$!

ND 38-Wake Forest 0; K State and Oregon both upset in late stunners.  Light the #1 on the top of Grace Hall, boys...ND is first in the AP rankings for the first time since 1993 and first in the BCS for the first time ever!!




You Know What They Say About Assumptions...

While shopping in a department store the other day, I happened to pass by two sales clerks who were having a conversation in Mandarin Chinese.  This being highly uncommon in my part of the world, I tuned in just for practice as I was going about my business, and was pleased at how much of the conversation I actually understood.  It was nothing exciting, just a discussion about what the store had on order for the holidays.  But it reminded me of one of the ways I entertained myself in graduate school other than playing practical jokes on Texan football fanatics.

Now, I am close to six feet tall and clearly Caucasian.  Not exactly an obvious candidate for a Chinese speaker.  However, my father's career landed us in Hong Kong while I was in junior high and high school, and I studied Mandarin as my foreign language in school.  Despite the difficulty of learning Chinese--very interesting article, if a bit long--at one point I was reasonably fluent, and a good bit stuck with me through college even though I took German for my required language credits there.  (I did mix the two languages together fairly regularly, though, much to the amusement of the TA teaching the German class...my brain would crap out and insert a Mandarin word or phrase in the middle of a German sentence.)

At any rate, by the time I got to grad school, my Mandarin was still there but a bit rusty.  In any scientific institution pretty much anywhere in the world you will find an abundance of Chinese researchers, and my grad school was no exception.  As I did my lab rotations the first year, I eavesdropped on the conversations going on around me--not out of any prurient interest, just to get my fluency back.  (These were normal-volume conversations held in the same room with me, nothing secretive.)  To the credit of my colleagues, I have to say that I never overheard anything that couldn't have been said in English...not the case with foreign-language conversations in a lot of nail salons, I'm sure!!  But it was really, really funny to casually throw out a sentence in Chinese after about the fifth or sixth week in a lab and watch the look of blank horror as people mentally scrolled back through everything they'd said in front of me...yes, it probably wasn't very nice of me, but grad school sucks and survival mechanisms are survival mechanisms!

Crazy and Crazier, You Pick 'Em

So, this morning Himself ran 22 miles in preparation for the marathon he's doing in a couple of weeks.  He got up at 5:30 to do this, in 30 degree weather, and came home limping and shivering.  Does not sound like the actions of a sane individual to me!  However, when I mentioned that to him, he pointed out that he was not the one who spent a good chunk of his Friday evening at the dojo working on board-breaking techniques, and who subsequently returned home with a bruised hand requiring much ice and ibuprofen, plus a sore elbow.  To each his own form of physical insanity, I guess!!  At least we are a matched set of nut jobs...

Friday, November 16, 2012

"Me And My Boy Joe Can Do It"

My dad's father had a workbench set up in the back corner of his basement; I remember going down the creaky wooden stairs with him as a little kid to keep him company while he puttered around with it.  He would give me a piece of wood, some nails and a hammer, and I would amuse myself with those while he was doing whatever he was doing.

Despite having all the tools and equipment (and apparently the desire as well), Grandpa was just not good at fixing things.  Dad is the youngest of his three kids, and profoundly not-handy as well.  When Grandpa would tell Nana that the two of them were going to tackle some job together (the title phrase was how he usually put it), Nana would immediately run for the Yellow Pages and call a professional in to keep the house from being flooded or one or both of them from electrocuting themselves.  A lesson she had learned the hard way!

Now, by comparison, my mother is pretty good with basic home repair and maintenance, and she's taught me a fair bit.  She and I are the primary toolbox-users in my house (Himself is handy enough when he is home and puts his mind to it, but that just isn't how he enjoys spending his free time.)  And for what the two of us can't do between us, I have both a handyman and a contractor on speed dial.  Mom and I are a much safer bet together than Dad and Grandpa ever were, though!




Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Absolute Best Petraeus-Related Comment EVER

From Will Saletan of Slate magazine:

"I just don't understand how anyone arguing for intelligent design against evolution explains the dick."

His point being that important men with a great deal to lose cheat so often despite this fact (clearly, counter to their own best interests!) that no "intelligent designer" would saddle his menfolk with the particular piece of equipment that leads them to act this way.  I have to wonder why so many powerful men seem to think that the rules don't apply to them...and if they really do feel compelled to change their companion, why they can't do it upfront and honorably via divorce (or at least as honorably as that gets.)  Total "I-can-have-my-cake-and-eat-it-too-because-I-am-special" syndrome?

Apparently Holly Petraeus is furious.  As she should be.  I am so glad that she is not silently standing by in the public circle of shame...it positively turns my stomach when wives do that.  If my husband dragged me through 23 moves in 36 years in the advancement of his career, while constantly deploying and leaving me home to handle the family, and then had the nerve (and selfishness, and ego) to pull this stunt on me, I'd be absolutely livid.  And there would be hell to pay.  


Well, What Do You Know??

Learned something interesting today in an elementary school science lab: A can of regular soda sinks in water, while a can of diet soda floats.

I would not have predicted that.  I watched it with my own eyes...try it for yourself!  Apparently the density of the sugar in the regular soda makes the difference--there is so little artificial sweetener in the diet soda that those cans float.  Go figure...

  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

If Women Are From Venus, Men Are From The Absolute Edge Of The Known Universe

Had one of those moments with Himself last night--I was yet again reminded that we will never be 100% on the same page when it comes to cleanliness, tidiness and general order!

I do the laundry.  Generally, I am the one to fold it as well.  I put away the clean clothes belonging to four of the five family members, but I do draw the line at his.  I figure that as a grown and able man, he should be able to handle putting away his own clothes!  This not being a priority of his, his clean clothes often accumulate in a stack on the floor by his side of the bed for weeks at a time--this to the absolute horror of my mother--but I figure this is not a battle worth fighting (with Himself OR my mother) so I ignore it.  The mess is on his side of the bedroom, out of my way and not in a common area--I have barely enough energy for the 'battles' that involve keeping the common areas of the house habitable as it is.

Not sure what exactly happened last night while I was at my meeting, but the cleaning bug apparently struck my husband in my absence.  In addition to the laundry folding and kitchen tidying and dishwasher emptying I mentioned in my last post, he also put away every item of clothing in his laundry pile (which was approximately the size and shape of Jabba the Hutt by that point) and even cleaned all his clothes off the side chair for good measure.  I was stunned when I went upstairs to bed--the room looked fantastic.

But then I looked closer at the area of the floor where Jabba had formerly been, and noticed a dead fly.  On white carpet, I might add.  Very visible.  Plainly visible.  Curious, I enquired whether he'd noticed it.  Of course he had, was the reply.  I can only assume that he just didn't think it was worth the effort required to pick it up and get rid of it after all the effort required to put the clothes away??

After all, what's a single dead fly compared to the mess that had been there before?  Positively Martha Stewart-like decor, I guess...  





  

    

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's Been One Of Those Days

One damn thing after another, going full speed.  Topped off by the discovery (45 minutes before I had to leave for an evening meeting) that Thing Two was supposed to turn in a model of the Mayflower today.  Or at least a reasonable facsimile capable of carrying 102 pennies across a kiddie pool.

So, instead of packing lunches for tomorrow, folding laundry and emptying the dishwasher as planned, I made a boat.  And mostly by myself, since Thing Two was packing such an attitude problem that I banished him to his room halfway through.  I was SO glad to get in the car and go to my meeting.


When I came home, Himself was folding the laundry.  The kids were all in bed, the kitchen clean, and the dishwasher emptied.  And I didn't even have to ask.  Bless that man...




The Blessing I Might Not Have Had

One of my favorite blogs is written by the mother of one autistic child and one neurotypical child.  She is a profoundly insightful writer and expresses a lot of things that many of the rest of us with 'different' children feel or think but can't manage to put into words so coherently.  Today's post was no exception.  It's entitled "Ask Me No Questions: On The Child I'll Never Have" and discusses why she and her husband chose not to have more children (and whether it is ever an appropriate question to ask of anyone in the first place.)

I did leave a comment on her site, but felt strongly enough about what I wrote there to decide that it was worth a post here as well.

As more frequent readers know, our older son is neurotypical.  A happy, easygoing child who is, if anything, far ahead on most curves.  Our younger is not.  A handful of diagnoses may potentially apply, but from a practical standpoint, he has significant difficulty processing language, some social challenges, and the almost total inability to sit still.  He also has a very hard head, but I think that is a separate issue!  We didn't fully realize how profound his challenges were until he was three (the lesson there is to listen to your gut and not your pediatrician in case of conflict.)  At any rate, our third child was already in the picture by the time we really understood what we were facing.  I had wanted a girl, since we already had the two boys, and on the third try we were blessed with one.  But to be completely honest, I don't think I would have ever had a third child had we known in time what we were already in for with the second one.

That said, our youngest has been the absolute best thing that ever happened to her 'different' brother.  She refuses to let him go off by himself.  She drags him into games and conversations and interactions.  Very precocious herself (but in a completely different way from our eldest), she quickly caught up to his level of development and the two have progressed together, with her helping him with his language and behavior and serving as a peer for modeling purposes, since they are very close in age.  Not that they don't fight sometimes: they absolutely do, but even a fight is a form of social interaction requiring behaving according to rules and the construction of sentences!  And this little girl loves both of her brothers to distraction, anyway.

She is my angel: sweet, loving and full of joy.  She has her moments, as all kids do, but I cannot envision my life without the sunshine that she brings to it, and I am beyond grateful for all that we didn't know when she was born.  A blessing, indeed.

    


Monday, November 12, 2012

One Day Late

One year ago yesterday, I formally adopted our beloved dog.  (11/11/11--not likely to forget that date!)  The kids had no idea that Himself and I had chosen one, and I told them that I was going to a meeting when I left to pick her up.  Although it was a Friday evening, they are (sadly) so used to my many evening meetings that not one of them thought anything of my departure, so the surprise was absolute when I came home shortly afterward with a small wriggly black and white puppy!  It's very hard for me to believe that she's been with us for a full year already.


She is a pointer mix; what other breed(s) may be in her, I have no idea.  Apparently there is a DNA test that can be done with a cheek swab, and at some point I will actually find out what else is in the mix.  Not that it matters--it is purely a matter of academic curiosity, but I am curious.

She was born somewhere in the general vicinity of Savannah, Georgia, and the wonderful souls at Georgia Animal Rescue & Defence saved her from certain death.  (This is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit animal charity and a licensed 509(a)2 no-kill shelter...they are a tremendously worthy organization and adopt out-of-state as well, so please check them out!)  Since this dog approaches absolutely every person she sees with an enthusiastically wagging tail, I can only assume that she was an unwanted puppy rather than an abused one.

In honor of her anniversary with us, I want to share a link to a blog that is on GARD's website.  This particular post deals with a way to help animal owners let medical personnel know that they have animals requiring care if they are suddenly incapacitated--it contains links to cards that you can print and put in your wallet and/or post in your home so that people know who to call to take care of your pets if you can't (and that you have pets to begin with.)  Useful info.

I will also be celebrating her anniversary with us by going up to the feed store and buying her the biggest peanut butter-filled bone I can find!

 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

11/11

So, Notre Dame is now 10-0, and the Boston College demons from 1993 have officially been exorcised!  I am afraid to exult further, for fear that the other shoe will immediately drop in retribution, but I have to admit to enjoying the ride this year.  Especially since Alabama was upset yesterday as well.

On a much more important note, today is Veteran's Day in the US, the day on which we honor our current and former service members.  


Four of my husband's cousins, two of his uncles, and one aunt are Army veterans.  An additional cousin is still on active duty in the Army Infantry.  Both of his parents are civilians who worked for the Army until retirement, and his grandfather was in the Coast Guard.  His best friend is a Lt. Colonel in the Marines, a helicopter pilot.  On my side, two uncles and an aunt are also veterans--two Air Force, one Army.  We take Veteran's Day seriously around here.


Honoring all current and former service members today.  The four-legged ones too.



It is the soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

--Charles Michael Province, U.S. Army

(Copyright Charles M. Province, 1970, 2005. 
All rights reserved.)





  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Ringing Question

I forgot to put on my wedding rings before I went out today.  In my usual weekend state of overscheduled distractedness, I didn't realize it until somebody hit on me at the grocery store.  Fair enough (and good for my midlife-battered ego!) but not at all my goal.

For a number of years I wore only the wedding band, anyway--the diamond on my engagement ring is in a raised setting and I kept inadvertently scratching the kids with it while changing their diapers.  Now that my life is devoid of both very small children and diapers, that is no longer a worry.  And since I love both the full ring set and the man who gave them to me, I cheerfully wear them both every day.

Himself, on the other hand, is one of those men who does not like jewelry.  Left to his own devices, he would wear a watch.  Period.  And he is a fidgeter--he is constantly fiddling with whatever is available to keep his hands occupied while he thinks or talks.  I can't tell you how many times I have seen his wedding ring spinning on a table in front of him!  It's amazing that he's managed not to lose it for all these years.

He actually didn't want one to begin with--he'd never worn a ring and said they felt awkward on his hand.  It was important to me that he wear one, though, so he agreed.  I told him once, only half-jokingly, that his other alternative was getting the words "I'm married" tattooed on his forehead!  I just figured that if I was going to have to wear jewelry indicating that I was 'taken,' per the social convention, he should wear a ring too.

Did anyone else have a strong opinion about this?  Just curious...

Friday, November 9, 2012

More Murphy's Law

While not quite the living embodiment of Murphy's Law like my friend, I have had some serious run-ins with it.

Happened to drive by the home of the realtor who worked for the sellers when we bought our house today, which made me think of the first week we were in this house.  Or, I should say, that I was in the house--Himself was in England on business.  My wonderful in-laws helped me pack up the apartment and move myself and tiny Baby Thing One to the new house across the state in his absence.  The day after they left to go home, a terrific windstorm blew the roof off a shed in the yard, which was very exciting, but not as bad as the following day, on which I inadvertently locked myself out of the house with the baby still in it.

Of course, I had no spare keys hidden outside yet, and I had no idea that the garage door would lock behind me when I went out to look for the cat!  (I thought she had escaped...turned out later that she was hiding behind the dryer.)  Fortunately, the baby was clean, fed and sleeping in the swing at the time, and I could see him through the window, but I had no idea what to do.  Neither of my neighbors were home, and I was beginning to panic.  Providentially, the realtor happened to stop by to collect his sign from the yard at that exact moment, and he immediately called the local locksmith for me.  This being a small town, he even left his cell phone with me afterward, telling me to use it if I needed it and to just drop it by his office up the street after the locksmith came!  The locksmith was there in ten minutes, and didn't even charge me for the visit--they have a policy that any job involving children who are locked into anything is free.  And you had better believe that I put a spare key outside in short order!

Sometimes Murphy's Law teaches lessons the hard way.






Thursday, November 8, 2012

How To Drive The Good Ol' Boys Totally Insane

Read an entertaining blog post recently about how a blogger I like makes some of her less-critical voting choices.  For some reason, this made me think about a football pool I participated in way back in the distant mists of time.

I went to graduate school in Texas, home of some of the craziest, most pumped-up football fans in the country.  One of the guys in my lab dragged me into a football pool that was being run by one of his college buddies.  I think there were eight of us, all guys but me, and I smoked their butts, week after week.

Now, I was and am not a general football fan.  I follow a few teams, and that's it.  But, because I was not about to let the XX team down in this endeavor to the ridicule of all those XYs, I spent a positively ridiculous amount of time deciding on my picks each week.  I checked all the expert predictions, the Vegas lines, you name it.  But, of course, there was no way I was admitting that to the guys either.  So, when I made my picks, I told them that I was choosing on the basis of which team had the less heinous uniform.  Or the handsomer coach.  Or the more stylish helmets.  Or the quarterback with the butt that looked better in those tight football pants.  Whatever I could think of that would make a bunch of good 'ol Texan boys absolutely bonkers as a criterion for choosing one team over another!  And since I had done all that homework before picking, the team I chose generally won, which REALLY made them nuts.

I never did explain--it was too much fun to watch them get mad.  But that pool got me through a tough period of grad school with a smile on my face, and is still making me smile now as I think back!





Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Brother! What A Way To Run A Railroad.

Fellow Looney Tunes aficionados will recognize this as a line from the Bugs Bunny-Daffy Duck classic "Duck Amuck," which is without question (at least IMHO) one of the best cartoons of all time.  For anyone with a few extra minutes on their hands, here it is:


In the cartoon, Daffy Duck uses this line to express his frustration with the actions of an unseen, powerful entity who is generally making his life miserable.  I was reminded of this today while talking on the phone with a good friend from New Jersey who is approaching her tenth day with no power following Hurricane Sandy, and is probably now getting snowed on for good measure if the nor'easter that was forecast actually came through! 

Now, I know y'all saw all kinds of news stories on TV showing pictures of the NJ coast, which was basically either flooded or flattened or both except for a few areas.  My friend would probably be the first to tell you that she is one of the lucky ones, since her home is still standing--she lives in a part of the state where the problem was primarily wind, not water (trees being blown over onto power lines and houses and cars and all sorts of other things that should not have trees on them.)  But it is dark and cold in her house, and she has no idea when her power will be restored.  Every time she calls, she gets a runaround and a date that's a day or two later than the last one they gave her: last she heard, they might get to her street by Sunday. (!!)  What a way to run a railroad, indeed.  

And so, here I sit in my warm house, writing on a fully charged laptop by the light of a desk lamp, drinking the cup of tea that just came out of my microwave and listening to the background noise from the TV, and NOT taking my electricity supply for granted for a change.  In this month of thanksgiving, I am taking her reminder to heart and giving thanks for the heat and light in my house!





Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Now, For Something Entirely Different

I've HAD it with politics.  Don't want to see anything about it, hear anything about it or talk to anyone about it for a long time.  And the results aren't in yet, so this is not sour grapes about the outcome, whatever it turns out to be.  Just so desperately sick of the whole damn show.

And I don't like either candidate at all, anyway.  I needed a third choice.  I voted for the man that I perceive to be the lesser of the two major available evils, but I can't say I felt good about it.  And in my state, my vote doesn't matter anyway.  As you can tell, I'm not too happy right now.

So...while y'all are watching election returns and raising your blood pressure, I'll be the one watching the kids' Looney Tunes DVDs.





Monday, November 5, 2012

Food For Thought

Found this quotation on a friend's blog today:

"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides…"
~ Goethe 

Not sure if I would go quite this far, but without doubt, a good part of life is what you choose to make of it.  I will say that, as a mother, I notice that my mood significantly affects the overall mood in my house...when I am crabby about something, the entire house becomes crabby in short order.   If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, and that is the truth.  

It does mean that Mama needs to be careful what she does and says (and how she says it) when she's not happy, though! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

"Call Me Whatever You Want, But Don't Call Me Late For Dinner!"

Watching my kids eat lunch today and pondering their differences.  In contrast to his older brother and younger sister, Thing Two does not mess around when it comes to food: when a plate is placed in front of him, he systematically and efficiently devours everything on it, largely ignoring all conversation going on around him unless he's directly addressed.  And he's always, always asking for food!  The child never stops moving, so he needs all the fuel he can get.  He's invariably the one asking me what I'm making for dinner, even though my stock answer to that dreaded question is "Elephants' toes with strawberry sauce."

My grandfather was a big redheaded and rawboned Midwestern Irishman, a college football player in the 1920s.   I'm told that there was not a lot of ceremony around eating in his family growing up--they were a kind of embodiment of the old tongue-in cheek grace, "Father, Son and Holy Ghost, who eats the fastest gets the most!"  The title line is one I remember Grandpa saying on multiple occasions...he was not about to miss out on food.  (And I don't remember him ever being overweight, so maybe he had a metabolism like Thing Two's.)  When my mother first started dating my father, Grandpa would wade into the action surrounding whatever was on the table and make her a plate, fearing that she was going to starve out of timidity otherwise!

My grandfather never met any of my kids--sadly, he passed away when I was 15.  But I like to think that in Thing Two, he would have recognized a kindred spirit!  And I smile every time Thing Two makes me think about him, because his legacy lives on in this young and perpetually hungry great-grandson.  Miss you, Grandpa...


Saturday, November 3, 2012

What The Hell Was That??

ND 29, Pitt 26.  Took THREE frigging OTs to win it, after a major fourth quarter comeback--ND trailed for almost the entire damned game.  Going in, Pitt was unranked and ND was #3, FFS!  Not how I thought the game would go, to put it mildly.

That's the ugliest way to get to 9-0 I've ever seen.  I think that game took 15 years off my life in pure stress!  Major flashbacks to BC in '93 again...

Going to drink a big glass of wine now and pray that this game was just a letdown following last week's huge win against Oklahoma.  Otherwise, bowl season will be ugly!




Friday, November 2, 2012

But Seriously, Folks...

Hurricane Sandy was utterly devastating.  I'm sure you watched it on TV in horror, just as I did.  Large chunks of the Jersey Shore are gone.  Buried in piles of rubble or simply vanished.  Most of the entire state is still out of power five days later, even the parts that are still standing.  Trees and wires down.  Roofs damaged or gone.  Flood water and sand everywhere.  And now it's getting cold out there.  The same kinds of stories are coming from NYC.  They've sent in the Marines, for crying out loud.

Fortunately, my brother's house is still standing, although the basement took on five feet of water and they can't move back in until substantial work is done.  And they were some of the lucky ones.

Please help if you can.






Wear Whatever You Want, Since You Will Anyway!

I mentioned recently that Himself has been working longer hours than usual for the last couple of weeks.  He's been in the city on business, in a situation which requires him to wear a suit and tie rather than his normal business casual attire.  Since he leaves for work very early in the morning no matter where he's working, he always puts his clothes out the night before.

Invariably, as part of the process, he will show me two combinations of shirt, tie and suit, ask which one I think he should wear, and then choose the other.

I have no idea why he even bothers to ask.  I can only hope that he is not regarding my sartorial taste as a lesson in what NOT to wear!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

It Is Possible To Have An Entire Conversation Without Saying A Word

One of the many advantages of knowing someone for a long time is that a series of gestures and facial expressions can sometimes completely replace an exchange of words!  Very useful in social situations.  Himself and I have gotten quite good at this form of couples' telepathy already...I'm sure that within a few years we will be finishing each other's sentences as well.

On a similar note, a while back I read a very interesting book written by a former FBI profiler about the importance of being able to accurately read body language in his line of work.  Amazing what you can figure out just by looking at people's eyes and mannerisms, even if the person you are trying to 'read' doesn't happen to be your spouse of umpty-ump years.

Thinking about this because I just came across a blog post talking about body language expressed through the eyes.  I've noticed that when people are processing information, they often look down (and often to the right as well)--this is one of the points in this post.  Food for thought...