Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Tale of a Procrastinator

I had so much to do today. Tutors to coordinate, more PTA checks to count, mountains of laundry.

So of course, the first thing I did after dropping off the kids at school was to sit down with my coffee and start reading blogs. I'm so efficient that way. It's not like I can run around with my coffee, can I? No, coffee requires sitting. Until it's exactly the right temperature. Then drink it down and get another cup and wait for it to cool to exactly the right temperature. It's an art.

So I cruised through my blog reader and then I saw it - the page that changed the course of my day. This lovely woman, a mother of 8, has started a block exchange based on a cottage block she developed. She provided the pattern a few days ago.

Go look at the Christmas quilt blocks people are making. Right now! Then scroll down and see what she's doing with Fall fabrics. Waaaaaay too cute. I had to drop everything I was doing today.

I was only going to make one.

But I thought it was really cute. Eyeballs in the windows! I crack myself up! But I also have an alarming amount of Halloween fabric in my stash. So I made one more.

Hee hee! A dancing skeleton opening the door! Glow in the dark cats and mice! Wacky colored spiders.

Of course, you know what happened after that.

It's amazing anything gets done around here. You know what's even more pathetic? If you look carefully you can see it's pinned up over that hexagon quilt on my design wall. I have a crafting addiction. It's hopeless.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Be a Rebel! It's Banned Books Week!

"There is no such thing as a moral book or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all."
-- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
The last week of September is banned books week, marked by booksellers and libraries across the United States. As I've been looking into information on this week, I've found a dizzying number of lists of banned books. Harry Potter tops many recent lists, and so does my recent sob novel Bridge to Terebithia. Gone With the Wind, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men - many of the greatest books of the 20th century have been challenged and banned from schools and libraries.

Those books don't surprise you? How about The Lorax? Challenged for "criminalizing the foresting industry." Or Where's Waldo? Removed from a school library for "nudity" (a tiny picture of a woman lying on a beach wearing a bikini bottom but no top). A Light in the Attic, Little House on the Prairie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - all these wonderful books have faced attempts to ban them from libraries and curriculums. [source here]

As parents, we are gatekeepers to our children's minds and morals. If you don't want your child to read a book, don't have it in the house. If it's on a required curriculum, ask that your child read an alternate title. Just please don't try to impose your morality on others.

This week is a great time to talk to your children about banned books. A list of local libraries and merchants with displays can be found here. I've talked about this with my children as we've looked at the banned books displayed at our library. Reading is a freedom. But along with that freedom comes a responsibility to choose wisely and listen to guidance from parents. I don't want Drama Girl to read the Gossip Girl books right now, but I'm reading Twilight with her, and heaven knows she's read an enormous number of the books on the lists. My son has read and enjoyed Phillip Pullman's books, but he knows the difference between what that author espouses and what we teach at home and in our Church.

This week I think we'll act like outlaws and read James and the Giant Peach together.

"The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion..."
-- Henry Steel Commager

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Happy Feet

"How did Nutcracker rehearsal go?"
[Jungle Boy] "OK"
[Drama Girl] "He got another part."
"Did you get another part? Really?"
"[Drama Girl] "It's another soldier part I think."
"Can you tell me about it Jungle Boy?"
"Congratulations anyway. Tell me when you're ready."

later. . .
[Jungle Boy] "Can we watch 'Happy Feet?'"
"You haven't watched that in a long time. Sure. TV turnoff week is over."
"I got another understudy part. The head soldier. I come out first. And I get to shoot the mouse! And all the soldiers have to salute me!"
"That sounds so cool. I'm glad you're enjoying it."

And later it hit me - Happy Feet. A story about a misunderstood kid who just loves to dance.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What your checks say about you

I'm the PTA Treasurer for our middle school. How I fell into this job is a mystery to me to this day, but that's another story. Today I'm thinking about you and your checks.

Seems like just a few years ago I wrote a lot of checks; for groceries, department store purchases, whatever. But I think I'm like a lot of women who now write checks rarely. We pay online, or use our credit card.

But we still need checks, like when we need to write one to the PTA.

I just put $16,000+ into the bank today in small checks. They were for our magazine drive. After spending countless hours handling all these checks I have a few things I want to get off my chest.

  1. Disney and Tinker Bell are cute on checks, if a little juvenile. Nice little flowers and designs? Shows you care about these little aesthetic details in your life. Spongebob Squarepants on your checks? I'm worried about you.
  2. Checks shredded across the top - is it really so hard to tear them out? Try pulling down instead of up.
  3. Handwriting. Other than your signature, where you are free to scribble away, you really need to try to make it legible. Some of these checks had to go through a committee of us to figure out what they might say. Printing is best. Slow down.
  4. Some of you write your cents as xx/oo's. But those xx's often look like 44's or 99's or 55's . Aren't we supposed to write no/100's? Is there a rule book somewhere?
  5. Don't write on the back. That's the recipient's spot to endorse or sign over for cash. Why would you write "for deposit only?" Maybe I don't want to deposit it. You're taking up my space.
  6. Write it down in your register. Do you know how many people have written a check to the PTA for the same thing twice? You'd be surprised. Write it down.
  7. When I contact you to tell you that your check bounced, I'm as embarrassed as you are. I'm just a mom here, volunteering. But who writes a bad check to the PTA anyway? I'm sure it was just a mistake. Just write me another one (that's good) and we'll forget about it. No need to keep apologizing.
Ok, I'm done ranting now. Can I say how awesome you are for donating to your school? Especially here in California where we have some of the lowest per-student funding in the nation, we depend on parent participation.

I'm talking to you, single mom out there, who didn't order magazines but just wrote the PTA a check for $500. You make my whole job worthwhile.

Friday, September 26, 2008

It looked like a box of junk to me.

"Mom! Can I have some of that fluffy stuff you stuff animals with?"
"Yeah, that stuff, can I have a bunch?"
"Um, ok, Drama Girl, let me go get a bag for you.
"Thanks, it's going to be cytoplasm. Can I have some ribbon?"
"What for?"
"Endoplasmic Reticulum."
"You're kidding. I learned about that in college. What else do you need?"
"Um, Chloroplasts. I'll use bottle caps and color them green. And a big storage container for the vacuole - how about an empty can?"
"You've got to be kidding. You're making a cell? When is this due?"
"Tomorrow morning."
"I need some more ribbon for the golgi body."
"Of course you do. What are you doing with those old batteries?
"Mitochondria mom. Duh."

I particularly like the balloon with dots on it that she's using for the nucleus. School's back in session - bring on the science projects.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vintage Thingies Thursday: The Land of Make Believe

This is a poster-sized picture I picked up years ago called "The Land of Make Believe." Sorry about the flash on the picture - I had trouble capturing the colors without the flash. It's really colorful, if a bit faded.

The land is populated by nursery rhyme and storybook characters and the places where they lived or had adventures. There are captions throughout.

It has wonderful detail, and the kids and I used to spend hours playing I spy with it.

Down in this corner you can see the "Copyright 1930."

Since I put this up on one of our hallway walls, several visitors have commented about how they used to have it up in their rooms when they were kids. One electrician had tears in his eyes because of the memories it brought back for him. Awwwww. I have to assume this was a pretty popular poster back in the day.

I googled it today, like I have many times before, but today I actually found some information. It was created by Czech artist Jaro Hess, and part of it has even been used for an album cover. You can buy a modern reproduction here. Many thanks to blogger "Daddy Types" for the information in the post "Freaking Out Children Since the 1930's: The Land of Make-Believe Map by Jaro Hess." He seems like a pretty funny guy.

For the Vintage Thingies Thursday carnival , visit Confessions of an Apron Queen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dear person who stole our credit card

Dear thief,

How far did you think you were going to get with our credit card number? I got a call this morning from my card company asking me to call the fraud department right away. I rolled my eyes and put it off because the fraud department always seems to be calling wondering why my husband is charging his $3 lunches in his office cafeteria to his credit card.

But then when I went to buy cat food, my card was denied. Do you know how embarrassing that was? That sweet little old lady at the pet food store is my cat sitter. I could have died when she told me that card was denied.

So I called the fraud department. My, but you've been busy! In less than 24 hours you managed to spend $1600 at Home Depot, $141 at a gas station (was it just gas, or some snacks too?) and $200 at Safeco - whatever that is. Hope you had fun on your little spree.

Because it's over. And when you try to use that card again? I hope they report you and your identity is discovered. Because you need to pay for your crimes.


Coming tomorrow: Vintage Thingies Thursday
Follow-up to yesterday's post: The one fatality in the tragic accident at the grocery store was a 10 year old boy, a little scout just like my son. His mother remains in critical condition. Please send good thoughts for that family, and hug your kids an extra time today. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The inconvenience of grocery shopping

Follow-up; I'm sad to learn that the one fatality in this accident was a 10 year old little boy, a Webelo, in the same district as my son. His mother remains in critical condition. My prayers are with that family. I am so terribly sad to hear this.

I hope this post was in no way construed as snarky. I meant to describe how small my problems really are. I fear it may be misinterpreted. My heart is just breaking on hearing this news.

Like every other mom on the planet, I had a busy day today. I finally dropped a few kids at a few lessons and had time for some grocery shopping. I felt too lazy to go all the way to the fancy grocery store so I went to our local ho-hum Safeway, which is a few blocks closer.

It was crowded at 4:00 pm.
I couldn't find the feta.
They moved the mixed nuts. My husband can't live without them.
Some lady with her cranky sons kept shopping in the same aisle as I did. When I doubled back because I forgot something, so did she.
The bananas were too green
My cute grocery bags were in the other car - which is in the shop - so I had to use plastic.

But on the way home I listened to the news. That fancy grocery store down the street? A runaway truck had plowed through the parking lot. One person died, three were critically injured.

Puts a little perspective on inconvenience.

Are you joining me for TV turnoff week this week?

The absolute best site to get information on TV shows, movies, websites, games and books is Common Sense Media. Read reviews and ratings by staff, parents, and kids themselves to help you decide what media you and your family should consume.

Responses to comments yesterday: I spent a dollar on ebay

What a card; what ever happened to a sheet with eye holes cut in it? Goddess in Progress; why didn't I think of that book? I think we read all of those books a million times when the kids were little. Maybe I was thinking of it subconsciously. texasholly; thanks! Monkey Memories; Let's not even talk about Target. I go in for floss and go out $100 dollars poorer. Marcy; If ebay is a gateway drug, I'm in serious trouble. Eileen; I *knew* I had to have those mice - thanks for backing me up on that. Klucky; there is already a long queue of pre-orders from my kids for those animals. You'll have to take a number. Or I can teach you to crochet! Des; I've seen her pictures on Flikr but I didn't know she sold them in an Etsy shop. I'll have to go look. Laura; if stitching prevented people from putting food in their mouths, I would look emaciated. Not the case, I'm afraid. Coloradolady; the mice may have been worth the dollar, but I'm not so sure about the rest of the purchases. Lea-Ann; I'm one of those unsuspecting folks who buys old patterns off ebay. Go ahead and put yours up there, I'm sure I'll be bidding on them soon. You should see my sewing room. I have enough projects to last me the next 50 years. Jill, you're right! I should have been watching television, then I would have avoided all these terrible creative urges! (ha ha!) EmmaK; Yeah for young readers! Once they get the bug you just have to keep feeding them books and they're happy. Good for you! Amy; if only I knew how to avoid the next chain reaction! LuAnn; thanks! Have you tried subscribing to blogs in a reader? Try bloglines or google reader. Click on that orange square logo when you see it on blogs and you can have all your favorites updated for you in one place every day. noble pig; I'm seeing that with the new mahogany dresser we got. Oh dear! Even more expensive than the craft store. Alisa; get the book! I see it on ebay often (doesn't everybody search on "dickens" in the "crafts" category?). Really cute patterns. The ghosts crack me up. angie; thanks! Domestic Accident; I wish I'd thought of that book! I could have made a much funnier post. Arrrgh! Cheryl Lage, you can give up French TV programs, but you also have to give up any that have French subtitles, OK? BoufMom9; Who doesn't love little mice in clothes? (Probably lots of people actually). Glad you like them too.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I spent a dollar on ebay

I spent a dollar on ebay and got a book of patterns to stitch mice. Mice dressed up as characters from "A Christmas Carol." Like I need more patterns around here. But what a deal! Only a dollar! Plus a little postage. And I just love little animals in clothes, and Dickens. It was meant to be.

Then I made one. Mrs. Cratchitt with the pudding. Kinda cute.

So I made another. Ebenezer Scrooge. But I didn't have all the colors I needed. Really his glasses should be gold, not silver, like I used.

So I went to the store.

I bought the gold floss for Scrooge's glasses. All 9 stitches. Then I realized that my box of floss is really full, and I have a million skeins that I need to wind on bobbins.

So I bought bobbins. And another box. And those little stickers that have the color number. And some more fabric. Might as well, right?

And then I saw it. The book of Amigurumi patterns. How cute are these? Had to get it.

So then I had to get some worsted weight yarn, because I don't usually use that size. But then I got hungry for a snack in the checkout line and had to get a Snickers.

I really shouldn't have spent that dollar on ebay.

Joining me for TV turnoff week this week? These might help:

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two not watch television. Here are some ideas to help parents get through the dinner-prep hour.

France has just banned television shows targeting children under the age of 3.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Disney's Bad Idea: Stay Home and Watch TV Week

Here's some logic for you; save gas by staying home this week. What's that? You wouldn't know what to do with yourself if you stay home? Well, luckily Disney and ABC have the answer for you! Watch TV! Wont that be great? I bet you couldn't have thought of that! And guess what? It's the premier week for Disney channel's new lineup. What an amazing coincidence.

As someone who stopped watching TV years ago, I find this particular promotion ludicrous. It's like suggesting we all go on a jelly-donut diet.

The Center for Screen-Time Awareness hosts an annual TV-turnoff week every Spring, and in light of the announcement from Disney, they are proposing an additional week in the Fall. What does this mean?

It means they would like to challenge you and your family to go TV and game free for one or more days beginning today, September 21. From their website:

Why Turn Off?
Screen Time cuts into family time and is a leading cause of obesity in both adults and children. Excessive use of screens for recreational purposes leads to a more sedentary and solitary lifestyle and that is unhealthy for all of us, both mentally and physically.
On average, people watch 4 hours of television and then spend another 4 plus hours with computers, games, video, iPods and cell phones. According to Nielsen, the average World of Warcraft gamer plays for 892 minutes per week! The company that owns Second Life (a virtual world) claims that its users spent over 1 million hours on line. These statistics hold true for children directed sites as well, including Webkinz and others.

What's So Great about Turnoff Week?
Turning off the screen gives us time to think, read, create, and do the things we never have time for. This allows us to connect with our families and engage in our communities. We feel good about ourselves as we grow more physicaly and mentally active.

Turnoff Week Works!
According to hundreds of responses to our Turnoff Week follow-up surveys, 90 percent of responding participants reduced their screen time as a result of participating.

My kids like Webkinz, and Drama Girl is getting obsessed with a virtual online world called Dizzywood. This week, like most weeks, they will not participate in any of these until the weekend. We will read our email, they will do homework, and I will blog during the couple of hours after they've gone to bed. No TV, no wii, no DS, no DVDs for anybody.

Not sure you want to do this? Here's some more information:
So what's it going to be for you this week? How about "take a walk every night after dinner week" or "play all the board games in the closet week" or "look eachother in the eye and talk week?" I think we can find better ways to save energy than by having TV sets on all week.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The News I Shouldn't Read

There is a particularly cruel form of self-torture that I subject myself to pretty regularly. It's painful every time, and I swear I'm never going to do it again. Yet yesterday it happened once again, and I'm not sure if I'll recover.

I'm talking about reading the class updates in the college alumni magazine.

Sure, it was only a little hard in the beginning. Reading about classmates going to medical school and Wall Street and the Peace Corps. I had a good job, that was interesting to me.

Then the years came when the column was full of marriages and promotions. Books were written, businesses started. I had a better job, but nothing exciting. I hadn't met Prince Charming yet.

Later came the news that classmates were the heads of their departments at hospitals, and partners at law firms, and parents. I got married at age 30 to my own Prince Charming - an alumni of our rival school.

This month when I opened it up, I read the most shocking stage of all.

Some of my classmates now have children enrolled at our school.

How is this possible? I don't feel any older. And I feel like I just paid off my student loans last month. I guess I've been out of school longer than I thought.

So today I am feeling not only mediocre, but painfully old.

I've really got to stop reading this thing.


Responses to comments yesterday; Friday House Tour

Auds; I'd make you a quilt but my project queue is already as long as my arm. I'll teach you though! ohholly, kids taxi driver; thanks! Des; LOL Viggo is mine mine mine! Alisa, Cheryl Lage; thanks! Lidian; those cats are slavedrivers. And we're the slaves. Katherine; thanks, and I hope you're right about the bright quilt. The back is calmer, so they can always turn it over. Jocasta; Great! Let's borrow from each other - I want to do a time lapse on a messy room like you did. Laura; that is funny! My kids are so into it, they gather around every time. Note how I have to buy the monster-sized jars of peanut butter - one each of creamy and crunchy. Scrapmaker; thank you! Monkey Memories; hmmm, are you hinting I should upload a song? Maybe. Might be easier for you to just come out and visit. Or maybe I should come visit you. There's a lovely harp store in Las Vegas where they let me practice once. Texasholly; Thanks! I thought I'd get some angry words about abusing the poor cat. Noble Pig; this makes us even - I am insanely jealous of your cooking skills. Cheri; three little everybodies in my house is enough! I'll pencil you onto the waiting list, for all that spare time I have around Christmas.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday House Tour

I've had a great week, and now it's time to look around and see what's been happening.

The furballs, as usual, gave me the silent scream to be fed.

Jungle Boy beaming after yet another ballet class. Furballs again, hanging out in their usual spots on the couch.

Work in progress on my design wall; a hexagon quilt. This one's really fun. Drama Girl is really begging to get this one, but I'm not sure. Don't know if I want to do that whole "everybody gets a quilt for Christmas" thing. Again.

Husband sat on the couch and ate a banana and then put the peel down on Ashleigh. Poor old senile blind cat. I don't think she cared. She didn't even move.

Whipped up this baby quilt today for the neighbor's newborn. A bit bright. Maybe I shouldn't have had so much coffee when I was picking fabrics. Every fabric has hearts on it though.

Latest needlepoint to be finished up. Need to block the mouse ornament.

On my music stand; "Into the West" from Lord of the Rings. Sounds great on the harp. Maybe if I play it enough, Viggo Mortensen will fall madly in love with me. Or not. Also playing Liebestraum by Liszt.

Ashleigh mimicking the lion statue. First fire of the season. We get the ocean breeze in the evening and it's been very cool lately.

And now, for your vicarious pleasure, I present the joy of diving into a new jar of peanut butter. Original music composed and performed by Wasabi Girl. (go ahead and click - it's only 18 seconds!)


Thank you everyone, for the kind words about my show and tell yesterday!

To follow up on my post about the Nutcracker auditions -- both Drama Girl and Jungle Boy have made in into the cast! (yeah!) Final parts will be assigned after a few rehearsals.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vintage Thingies Thursday: The Real McCoy

This is a vase I picked up a few years ago. It has "McCoy" in raised letters on the bottom and is a beautiful swirl of reds.

This particular line from McCoy was called "Cascade" and was only made in 1961, as far as I can tell, and was also made in shades of blue. This is a little wilder and a little more kitschy than most of the old sedate McCoy pottery line. It has a wonderful weight to it, and I just love it's shape and color. In fact, I never put flowers in it, maybe I should! I always pick other vases first.

The next is not McCoy, although it looks like American pottery. I just love the colors. I'm not sure what people did to arrange flowers in this shape. Maybe they used one of those spiny "frogs" on the bottom. I'm a terrible flower arranger, but I love vases. Figures.

For more vintage goodness, visit Confessions of an Apron Queen.

Coming tomorrow: Lit and Laundry video premier!
Responses to comments from yesterday: The Big Scavenger Hunt

Jaime; I wish I hadn't already thrown out the torn dividers! That's a great idea. Beth, Aw shucks. Denise; That frog just refuses to die. Most boring pet ever. Marcy; Will do! I'll even remember to include the graphic! magda; Yes, the free section of Craigslist is amazing. I've already looked at a few pianos but all were pretty old and sad. Cheryl Lage; Did you hear that sound? That was me slapping my forehead. Of course Aqua Net! Why didn't I think of that! It's the best hair cement around. Hmmmm maybe I can work that into a post somehow. . . Amy; Thanks! Noble Pig; I've seen that stuff for badges, but I'm skeptical about whether it works in the wash. I think I'm going to try it this time. Laura; I live for naps. Hope I didn't wear you out! Angie; Yep, my life just seems to get more and more random. Such is motherhood. I'm sure your house is similar!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Big Scavenger Hunt

When I was pregnant, I read baby magazines and envisioned days of sweet smelling infants in colorful footy-pajamas. I had vague ideas of their school years, and of course, complete plans for the girls' weddings.

What I couldn't see from that vantage point though, is how motherhood is really just one giant scavenger hunt. And I never win - I just get more lists of weird things to find and do.

This week my list includes;

  • A new heating bulb for the frog. Requires a trip to the special pet store that has the special bulb that's about $17.
  • A ticket to the dance at the youth center for Drama Girl. Note to self: duck out really fast before they ask you to chaperone. Meanwhile, find out who all the chaperones are and call every last one of them.
  • Trip to the bank to deposit money for the school PTA. I love the random checks left in my "PTA Treasurer" box with no explanation. I'll just deposit them and figure out what they might be for later.
  • Jungle Boy needs a luggage tag for his trumpet case. Don't we have a million of those around here somewhere? But where? Shoot. I'm going to have to buy one.
  • A Webelos shirt for Jungle Boy. Oh Joy. I get to sew a bunch of patches on it too. I can quilt all day but I hate utilitarian sewing.
  • I need to install the software for Wasabi Girl's camcorder.
  • I need to get the alarm on Jungle Boy's watch fixed so it doesn't go off every hour.
  • Wasabi Girl needs hair stuff so her hair will stay in a bun during gymnastics team workouts. Do they sell sprayable cement?
  • Drama Girl needs more ballet tights.
  • Jungle Boy could use some new pants for Church
  • Everybody needs a haircut
  • I need to get a gift for a birthday party
  • Jungle boy needs new dividers for his notebook because he already tore the holes in the paper ones. I should have just bought plastic dividers to begin with.
  • Keep looking for a baby grand piano on Craigslist
My brain feels splintered. I think I need some things too, but I just wont have time.

Who needs reality TV? Motherhood is the most frantic game of all.

Coming tomorrow: The return of Vintage Thingies Thursday
Responses to comments yesterday A Picture of Me and All About My Kids

Monkey Memories; I have all kinds of valuable advice (or not). Cheryl Lage; I'm all about wanton leg display, and yes, we do smile a lot around here! Katherine; I knew it! We're not the only ones who nickname our food! Lidian; We Product 19 lovers are a rare breed. Nancy; Save the best pictures and be sure to put dates and names on them! We think we'll remember but we don't. Noble Pig; I thought I'd die when George Clooney left ER. That's when I gave up on TV. Might as well enter a convent at that point. Coloradolady; Thanks! Sister's Style; The "Lit" is slang for Literature - the thing I don't get much of any more because of all the laundry. Scary Mommy; I think that people will be disappointed if I ever finally do get around to posting a picture. For now, it's as if I have a "mystique" about me. Or I'm too lazy to get a picture taken. Amy; Once upon a time I had a lavender suede mini-skirt that I loved. And I was a skinny little stick. And I didn't appreciate it enough. *sigh*. Denise; I don't know how I'd survive this crew without a great husband/bartender. Elizabeth; Thanks! Laura; Actually that picture was from 2004. Wasabi Girl has refined her talent a little. Peg; I really think I might have to do it. I might even pick the same fabrics you did - I love them so much. Anissa; Blame the current administration. Always a safe bet. Jocasta; Thanks!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Picture of Me and All About My Kids

Cheryl at Twinfatuation has tagged me for a meme. I'm always game for a challenge, so here goes;

1. Post a picture of you and your kids.

(It didn't say photo, did it?) I pulled this out from the vault. Wasabi Girl did it many years ago. I like to wear pink mini skirts up to there apparently. At least we all smile a lot.

2. How many children do you have?
Three - Oldest daughter Drama Girl and twins Wasabi girl and Jungle Boy.

3. What are their ages?
12 and 10 now.

4. What do you eat for breakfast?
Often cheerios, only in our house they are referred to as "Daddy cheerios" (the plain kind) and "Mommy cheerios" (multigrain). I like mine with grape nuts on top, which everyone calls "nutty nuggets." We also have Special K, Product 19 (hard to find these days), Rice Krispies and Chex. My husband often makes oatmeal (we like to let him think he's a great cook), and I often make pancakes, or eggs or omlettes. Sometimes I get up in the morning and make coffee cake or muffins, but the kids are out the door by 6:45 these days so that's not going to happen as much.

Dear husband makes the Peet's coffee every morning, and cleans out my favorite mug if it's dirty.

5. Do they watch TV?
No, none. We stopped our cable subscription years ago and without it we get zero TV stations. Once in a while they watch a DVD though.

6. What are their favorite activities?

Drama Girl loves acting, and is pretty good at it (don't all parents say that about their kids?) If I let her, she would read 24/7. I regularly confiscate books and flashlights from under her pillow.

Wasabi Girl is quite crafty. She's big into scrapbooking (didn't get that from me!) and is learning how to quilt. She is uber-social and hangs out with friends a lot.

Jungle Boy is passionate about ballet. He doesn't stop when he leaves the studio every day, but does pirouettes endlessly in the dining room. He also reads voraciously, and fast. He's a scout and enjoys doing the camping-oriented activities. Also a gymnast. Come to think of it, he doesn't sit still much.

7. Do you get a break away from them during the day?
They're in school from 7:00-2:30.

8. How do you end your day?
Um, yelling at them to brush their teeth and get into bed already? Maybe I shouldn't put that.

9. What is your best parenting advice or tip?
Select a husband who knows how to mix drinks well.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Ultimate Kiss Taste Test

In order to assist you, the blogging community, in the selection of fine candy for your Autumn and Halloween pleasure, I hereby present the official results of the great Hershey's Kiss taste test, as performed by my children and tabulated by me.

The contenders:

  • Caramel kisses
  • Candy corn kisses
  • Pumpkin spice kisses
  • Cherry cordial kisses
  • Special dark chocolate kisses
  • Hugs
  • Almond kisses
  • Milk chocolate kisses
The experimental conditions:
Single-blind trial, prepared by me. Subjects were given unwrapped kisses coded by letter, and instructed to silently answer three questions for each. Choice of milk or water was provided to cleanse the palate between tastings.
  1. Flavor 1-5; 1 being barfy, 5 being "mom please buy lots of these"
  2. What do you think the name of this flavor is?

The Results

A. Hershey's kisses filled with caramel
  • Average grade for flavor: 5
  • Name guesses: "basic kiss" "caramel chocolate" and "caramel-filled chocolate jumbo kisses"
  • Comments: "I think the middle tastes different. It is sort of creamier." "It's delicious and I love the middle."
  • My thoughts: I can't believe Jungle Boy thought this was a regular kiss. And he hates caramel usually, but loved these. Go figure.
B. Candy Corn flavor
  • Average grade for flavor: 4.67
  • Name guesses: "Candy corn (2)" "Halloween kiss"
  • Comments: "It's delicious and I love the flavor." "I think they are good but they would be really good for Halloween."
  • My thoughts: Waxy, but definite candy corn taste. Fun.
C. Pumpkin Spice
  • Average grade for flavor: 3
  • Name guesses: "Cinnamon" "Peanut caramel kiss" "Cinnamon cream"
  • Comments: It's really yummy and it gives a feel of Christmas." "These are ok but I might like them some times more than others."
  • My thoughts: I love these, but I can see why the kids aren't crazy about them. Perfect for Thanksgiving.
D. Cherry Cordial
  • Average grade for flavor: 4
  • Name guesses: "Pez candy" "Milk chocolate kiss" "Strawberry filling"
  • Comments: "I love how it's sweet like candy but at the same time chocolatly" " I think they are a little sweet but they are good for the holidays."
  • My thoughts: I was expecting cough-syrup flavor, but they're actually pretty good. Definitely very sweet though, as the kids said. Probably perfect for SAHM's who sit around all day watching soap operas.
E. Special Dark Chocolate
  • Average grade for flavor: 4.41 (Drama Girl stopped using round numbers)
  • Name guesses: "Dark Chocolate" "Hot chocolate"
  • Comments: "Even though they are simple with nothing special, but I think they are great." "Delicious."
  • My thoughts: Not as rich as some dark chocolates. Good though.
F. Hugs
  • Average grade for flavor: 4
  • Name guesses: "White chocolate" "White and dark chocolate swirl" "zebra stripes and cow poop in the middle"
  • Comments: "Sooooo good" "It was kind of bland for me but I wouldn't mind if other people like it."
  • My thoughts: Not my favorite.
G. Hershey kisses with Almonds
  • Average grade for flavor: 4.08
  • Name guesses: "Almonds (2)" "Marshmallows and nuts"
  • Comments: "Yummy to the tummy" "I think it was really smart to put an almond and I like it."
  • My thoughts: fun to watch Drama Girl make a face and spit it out. I guess you have to like almonds.
H. Milk chocolate Hershey's Kisses
  • Average grade for flavor: 4
  • Name guesses: "Chocolate kiss" "Dark Chocolate" "Awful" (I think Drama Girl had had enough chocolate at this point).
  • Comments: " I think they were good, and these are probably the cheapest because they are so plain but good." "I love it."
  • My thoughts: The original and still the best.
So there you are, with the final word on each type of Hershey's kiss. I know that you, the demanding candy consumer, will probably print this out for your next candy purchase expedition. Some people can rate wines, but how many people can rate Hershey's kisses?

And for the record, that little piece of paper in every kiss? It's called a niggly-wiggly. Now you know.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pointing toes, holding breath

The Nutcracker. Love it or hate it, it's a holiday tradition for ballet companies everywhere and a rite of passage for dancers.

Saturday our local professional company held auditions for the child roles for the Nutcracker. Jungle Boy and Drama Girl both went, and I spent hours with other parents in the next room, filling out forms and waiting.

Oh how I wanted to be a fly on the wall and see how they were doing!

After a while the tiniest kids came out and met their moms. Then some of the 7-10 year olds. I waited. And waited. No sign of my kids. Finally there were only a few of us in the room. And then our kids came in. I was so greedy for information I nearly burst.

"How did it go? Did they cast the kids to play Fritz and Clara [the leads]? What did you have to do? How did the other kids do? Was it hard? Could you do it? What did the choreographer say?"

I'm sure my kids wanted me to just shut up, but they were pretty good about the whole thing.

Jungle Boy; "They asked me a lot of questions, and asked me to do cartwheels."

Drama Girl; "I was one of the tallest, so they made me stay later and work on a special dance with three other girls."

Jungle Boy; "The boy was there who usually plays Fritz, but he was really goofing off the whole time and not paying attention."

Drama Girl; "Jungle Boy was better than that boy."

Believe me, I am trying not to get too excited. But really, it sounds like they held their own. We'll know in a week or so.

OK, I'm lying. I'm excited.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The People's Court

Marcy over at The Glamorous Life posted a career test that revealed that she and I both missed our calling to the law.

To practice our skills, in preparation for opening our firm of Glamor, Lit and Laundry, I would like to pose the following completely hypothetical case to you for your opinion.

Let's say mom A makes a delicious pot of homemade soup, but has to run out the door. So she instructs mature pre-teen child B to watch, and occasionally stir the soup, while she takes child C to gymnastics. Mom A leaves the soup simmering on the lowest heat setting.

While driving down the hill moments later, mom A waves to Dad D as he drives up the hill home from work. She drops child C at gymnastics, picks up child E, who has just finished gymnastics, and returns home to find child B and Dad D merrily eating soup. She scoops some out for child E and herself, pries the book "Twilight" out of Child B's hands at the dinner table, and sits down to enjoy her meal.

After dinner, Mom A assists Child E with homework while Dad D clears the dishes, puts them in the dishwasher, and turns off the hood fan to the stove.

Hours pass. Child C is picked up from gymnastics, assisted with homework, and goes into the kitchen to help himself to a snack.

All children are finally sent to bed with dreams of lovely soup. Dad D disappears to his computer and Mom A puts her feet up and embroiders. For hours. Until the urge strikes her to get a glass of water. At which point she enters the kitchen

And discovers the soup is no longer simmering. It has become a hardened mass on the bottom of the pot because the burner was left on and is still on.

Who is guilty? Purely hypothetically, of course.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I refuse to follow instructions

Dear people at GK gymnastics wear,

Thank you for attaching care instructions to the garment I purchased for Wasabi Girl today. I'm sure they took some effort to compose, and you attached no fewer than two copies, so you must be pretty serious about them.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to comply, because my life is already a little too busy, and I can't organize even one more routine.

Let's review what you would like me to do;

All caps, separate paragraph. You really don't want me to hand wash this, do you? Just what damage do you think I'm going to do with my bare hands and a little woolite?

Turn garment inside out. Machine wash individually in a large volume of cold water on gentle cycle. Must use a very mild *liquid* detergent. We strongly recommend using Ivory Snow *liquid* detergent.
The inside out part shouldn't be a problem, since most of my children deliver most of their clothes to the wash inside out. Washing individually in a large volume of cold water though, seems a tad impractical, no? Does this garment need to swim free to get really clean? I do so many loads of laundry, I really cannot fit in another two loads during the week to wash this twice for Wasabi Girl's class. So sorry. And it gets Tide liquid. That will just have to be close enough.
DO NOT use bleach, harsh or granular detergents or liquid fabric softener.
Again with the capital letters. Did you know that's considered shouting? And if a load seems skanky, it's getting a shovel full of oxy-clean. Great grainy wonderful stuff.
DO remove immediately from washer and tumble dry on low or no heat setting.
Whoa. Sorry again. I have to drive around a lot, like to that gymnastics place, ballet school, piano lessons - you get my drift. I throw a load in and put it in the dryer when I have time when I get back. I really can't just sit there waiting for a load to finish.
Do Not hang or lay flat to dry and DO NOT use dryer sheets.
Or what? Are you going to come check on me? I'm thinking at this point I may lay it flat to dry just to spite you. And dryer sheets? My best friend, next to the oxy-clean.

I guess I'm just going to have to be a rebel.

You see Jungle Boy was on the gymnastics team for a few years and I was more than a little haphazard when I washed his garments. They never faded, or pilled, or curled, or did anything awful. On the day he outgrew each piece it was as bright and perfect as the day he got it.

So I'm just going to throw all caution to the wind, because this garment? It's underwear. If it really gets trashed after I wash it a bajillion times the wrong way, I will buy her a brand new pair.

But I'll never say you didn't warn me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I remember

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's Always Like A Mad Tea Party Around Here

I love Fiestaware dishes. I would feature them on Vintage Thingies Thursday but my collection isn't really old.

But I have this itsy bitsy problem: I like to wander through a local thrift store, and if I find any Fiestaware I just. Cannot. Resist. I consider it my duty to rescue it.

I also can't bring myself to match them up. The whole beauty of Fiestaware is the mixy-matchyness of it. The kids know that a good way to drive me crazy Is to sort the dishes by color in the cupboards.

The urge to buy happened again a few days ago at the thrift store. Cups and saucers! Mix and match! Bargain-priced!

My husband just rolls his eyes. Apparently he thinks you should actually use all the cups and saucers you already own.

I have visions of of using them to make cute little birdfeeders on stakes for the garden.

Who am I kidding. I'm just going to stack them higher in the cupboards.

Coming tomorrow: Vintage Thingies Thursday!

Responses to yesterdays comments on About That Harp:

Cheryl, I do need to get around to writing my harp history. There's a lot of material there. Marcy, I'm actually really camera-shy. There are no pictures of me around the house. If I went missing the family would have to give the police an old high school yearbook photo or something. Katrina, yeah! I'm so glad somebody understands! I guess it's like some men yearn for fabulous sports cars. Hope you get your piano someday! Good N Crazy, I figure if I just tell the kids they can't go to college, it's do-able. Denise, yes I play it, but I mostly dust it and remind myself that I should play it more. Laura, we could do duets! noble pig, maybe if I borrowed my husbands American Express. Nancy, the closest I'll get will probably be seeing it from afar *sigh*. Scary Mommy, now you do know a harpist!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

About that Harp

The harp in my avatar is not my harp, it's the harp I daydream about. It's the Louis XV Special Concert Grand 23k harp available from Lyon and Healy, and it will be mine when I raise $179,000.00. Plus tax and shipping.

I love it because it is so completely, insanely, over-the-top. The original was commissioned by the owner of a coal mine for his daughter and was finished in 1916 after craftsmen worked on it for two years. I think the coal miner must have a) really loved his daughter's music and b) had more money than he knew what to do with.

The history of the original instrument is interesting and includes time spent in museums, and ownership by a number of famous harpists and recordings made from it.

Because you see, it is not only finely made, it is reputed to have a spectacular sound.

So this is the harp I want, if I come into a fortune somehow or win the lottery.

Or maybe this is the one I'll get if I get to heaven. I'm hedging my bets on getting in - I think they probably need more harp teachers up there.

Responses to comments yesterday: Remembering Summer

Beth, I like cold December days too, but in really small doses. Blakely, the flowers look better than the ones in my yard. We have a problem with deer munching blooms. What a Card, I'm too nervous a mom to let her try rollerblades yet. She does ice skate, but I think the old fashioned skates are just fine for sidewalks. Amy, we are lucky here that it's never humid. Summers are pretty nice. Good N Crazy, I inherited some roses when we moved in here, and I've learned to deal with them, but they're not my favorite to grow either. I like the climbing ones I put along my fence though -- those are the ones in my header. Noble Pig, I used to have skates like that when I was a kid. I love them too. Angie and Scary Mommy, isn't it funny to get nostalgic when it's barely over? But between kids going back to school and all the Halloween stuff in stores, I feel like summer is long gone.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Remembering Summer

This is how I want to remember this summer. One perfect day last July, on a walk with Wasabi Girl. Technically, I walked, she skated.

The quilter in me loved all the flowers. She stopped and waited for me while I took pictures.

These are my favorite colors. This is what summer feels like to me.

This guy got in this car and drove it. I'm sure has a whole story about this car. Wish I knew it. Looking at this picture reminds me to take life in the slow lane when I can, and enjoy the ride. Time flies.

Wasabi Girl would skate to the end of the block and then back to me. She is my kid who stays close. Her independence is quieter than the others. This image will always help me remember this perfect day. I'm going to pull it out and look at it in January when it's cold and gloomy. And then I'll look at it when she moves away from home someday, and I'll remember that she always came back to check in, because that's the way she is.

Coming tomorrow: About that harp

Responses to comments from yesterday: Making Heroes

Lidian, I think some young people just get infected with a dance bug! It certainly surprised us too. noble pig, thank you! I'm just along for the ride at this point. The support isn't too hard, since his dance teacher isn't charging us for most of his lessons. She wants to give him every opportunity to work now, while he's a perfect age and so enthusiastic. He just sort of lives at the dance studio. Jocasta and Denise, I think it's wonderful and rare that someone can find something like this that really speaks to their heart. It's fun to watch. Cynthia, it is a good goal to support what's important to them in the present. I keep reminding myself that next year it might be something else. *TONYA* LOL, I didn't expect you to read them all. Darn kids always get in the way of our blogging time, don't they? And I love that he loves it so much too.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Making Heroes

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
I sat outside with Jungle Boy last night and we discussed ballet classes for the tenth time this week.

Me: "I think nine dance classes a week is a lot. And now you want to audition for Nutcracker too?"

Jungle Boy (grinning): "Yeah! Then I'd be doing ballet six days a week instead of five!"

Me: "Do you see yourself doing this when you're grown up?"

JB: "I haven't thought about it."

Me: "Do you see yourself doing it in college?"

JB: "I haven't thought about it."

Me: "Do you see yourself doing it in high school?"

JB: "I haven't thought about it."

And then I realized. I visualize my children's lives and futures constantly, but at this age, they still live in a blissful bubble where the only time that exists is now. Along with freedom from worrying about his future though, I see that he doesn't see the need for any plans for his future either.

What he does know, is that dancing gives him joy. It is all he wants to do. And while he can't tell me any names of any kids he's met at his new middle school, he can rattle off the names of all the willowy teenage girls in the advanced class he's taking.

So while I wanted to tell him that he needs to think ahead, and plan his life so that he will be the hero of it, I refrained. I don't know if he'd understand what I mean.

And he already is a hero in my book.

My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Responses to comments from yesterday: Photo Tour

Denise, woo-hoo is right. I'm so grateful that our schools have daily band and orchestra options. Carol, I'm the queen of unfinished quilts I think. That's why I always do the happy dance when I do get one done. belinda, in the old days, accomplished girls always had a stack of quilt tops in their hope chest. We'll just call you retro-cool. leezee52 congratulations on being featured on The Secret is in the Sauce! I'm impressed that you're visiting all of your visitors. angie, anything my kids can't do? HA! Cleaning their rooms comes to mind. Eileen, I need a photo editor like that! How clever. I can't even remember where I got that platter, but I love it. *TONYA* Thank you for the award!! I can't believe you're going to go read all the old posts you missed. You might be my biggest fan. Anissa Mayhew, I agree, she's way cooler at age 10 than I have ever been. Sort of Lisa Simpson smart cool. Melanie, I didn't realize sax is so hard. They had to try out all the band instruments and were scored on their ability on each, and she did really well on the sax, so I guess it's a good fit for her. All those buttons look intimidating to me.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Photo tour

Remember that misadventure I had basting a quilt? It's taken me months to finish, but now all the pins are finally out, and it's all done. Here's a nice crooked picture to make you seasick. Note to self: learn to use a camera.

My twins aren't the only twins in the neighborhood. We see these two all the time when we're driving around, but I never have my camera with me. Yesterday they came up our street. They don't have their cute white spots any more, but they're still small.

Here's their mom. She stared at me for a long time. I gave her the URL for How Do You Do It?

Wasabi girl is learning how to play her saxophone. Actually, I think I can say she learned to play the saxophone yesterday. She learned how to play the first three notes in band and she came home and spent hours working on them. By the time she was done, she was able to make a good sound.


Responses to comments from yesterday: And the blog button goes to

Beth, I'm so glad you're enjoying my blog - but don't get in trouble at work on my account! Laura, I love lip smackers! Got any Dr. Pepper flavored? Nancy, feel free to use the idea, it certainly helps me feel like I'm closing the loop with my commenters. Cheryl, you can bring the Love's Baby Soft, but don't forget we're going to play with our makeup later. noble pig, I hope the blankie helped! LOL. Eileen, you're welcome! Good N Crazy, go for it! Of course, I'm going to claim full credit when this takes off like wildfire all over the blogosphere. angie, you're welcome! Kelsey, thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 5, 2008

And the blog button goes to:

Seriously, what could a woman want more than a gold card? And a BFF (Blogging Friends Forever) gold card at that? Laura at Catholic Teacher Musings passed this along to me. I feel like I should make her a friendship bracelet or something. Maybe share gum.

The cool thing is, while I get to max out my virtual account with her, I also get to give away 5 more. That gives me a total of 6 BFFs! Woo-Hoo! Enough for a really rockin slumber party!

The rules:

Rules: You may choose 5 awardees

Choose 4 faithful readers of your blog.

1 should be someone new or someone far away.

I have some great faithful readers, and I want you to go visit them right now. Please step up to the podium

Widney Woman

Angie from Seven Clown Circus

Beth, from Beth Loves Ice Cream

Eileen from Eileen's Attic

Jocasta at The Princess and the Peas is in New Zealand. She's my far-away BFF.

But wait! There's more!

Look at this psychedilic fabulous award! The SuperCommenter Award! I want to give this to all my commenters, but I'm going to hold it to one. You know who you are. My number one stalker extraordinaire. My personal wine advisor. My cooking teacher who always makes me drool with her pictures. The woman who is embarking on a new life many only dream about. And yet for some reason she still finds time to stop by my blog. Come and get your super comment frog noble pig!


Coming up tomorrow: Remember that quilt sandwich I made?


Responses to comments from yesterday's post: Vintage Thingies Thursday; Workbasket Magazines.

Amy, there are lots of thrifty patterns, like making aprons from dish towels. Makes me realize how much we take things for granted these days. Coloradolady, I think the apron was for a hostess to put on for show, not wipe her hands on like I do. Eileen, yes I do collect them. I usually look for them on eBay, where there are lots of oldies listed. What A Card, I'm testing out this comment response section. Hopefully people will come back the next day to see what I say? At least it's a place to answer questions. Monkey Memories, I'll teach you how to make them! Little slippers for kids aren't hard to make. lidian, thanks for the compliment! What I conveniently failed to show in the picture are all the other coasters -- they all have coffee stains on them. Yet another thing to wash around here. magda, that's so interesting to hear about how the soldiers really did appreciate the handmade things. Angie, great minds think alike! noble pig, I'm so glad you like my little show-and-tell. I hope you get around to visiting the other sites on the tour. Tons of great vintage stuff out there. ellen b. Thank you! Carrie, June 1962 was a very good month. That's when I was born! It is fun to see how the crafts reflect the times. Good N Crazy so glad you're back! I went without my computer for a day and nearly went out of my skin. Vintage Mommy, four under three beats my three under two! Hope you do come back to visit! Stephanie and Patty, Thank you! Jane, I enjoyed visiting your blog! bejewell - sheesh, no you don't. Des, I don't know what's funnier; the whining/crying, or the posting a comment on the wrong post. Love ya.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Workbasket Magazines

I love all kinds of needlework, and these old magazines make me feel intimately connected to the generations of craftswomen who have gone before. In honor of The Apron Queen, who hosts Vintage Thingie Thursdays, the first booklet has an exquisite crochet apron on the cover. It was published in 1946.

The Workbasket was published between 1935 and 1996. It began as a small business run by a husband and wife team and became very popular. My mom had crates of them (where are they now???). I used to love to sit on the floor in the basement and go through them one by one. The issues published during WWII had lots of patterns for scarves, gloves and socks to make for loved ones serving overseas.

These 1946 editions are mostly filled with decorative objects (oh for the days of a snood!) and seem to be pretty heavy on the crochet patterns, although there are also plenty of tatting and quilting patterns.

How many women made these cute slippers? Probably thousands.

To fill space, there are some household tips, such as "paint your nails twice a day with white iodine to keep them strong." Huh? Really? Who had that kind of time and organization?

Here is one of a set of coasters I made from a pattern in The Workbasket. I used a lot of wild colors, but I think the original designer wouldn't mind if she knew.

Coming tomorrow: It's awards time! Wear your loveliest evening gown and take a seat. Plenty of swag to be given away.

Responses to comments from Yesterday: "Spreading Joy"

kawaii crafter, Nancy, Jenn P, noble pig, Amy, and eileen; you're welcome! I thought there were a lot of us out there feeling the same way. Patty, not only do I love that tutorial, I love the picture she used! I definitely have to try this.

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