Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sew it Goes

I've mentioned before that my sewing skills are virtually non-existent. To use the term "novice" to describe me would be a stretch. Up until this weekend, if you had a never-used sewing machine stored in your attic, then you had more sewing skills that I did. But folks, I am proud to say that I have turned that corner. I have entered the world of sewers and I couldn't be more excited.

Before I unveil my 'creations' (and believe me I'm using that term extremely loosely) I want to reiterate how basic my skills are. I had never even turned on a sewing machine. No one in my family sews, or if they do, I've never witnessed it. All the home economics classes I took throughout school focused solely on cooking, sewing wasn't even touched on. When I sat at my machine with the Instruction Manual in hand, I didn't know what to expect. The sewing terminology meant nothing to me so I really had to actually study the book before I could even turn the machine on. After a few minutes I could feel myself getting stressed. Thank goodness I turned to page 10 which was titled, "Connecting machine to power source." The first thing to pop in my head: Score! I already know how to plug stuff in! Self-esteem officially restored! But seriously, all the little things that most of you would consider basic, were totally new to me. Just winding and inserting the bobbin were major projects. So, I'm really *proud* to have a couple of silly little things to show you. So lets get right to it.

Silly little thing number one: Kitty Cat Catnip Pillow
Yes the seams are way crooked. Yes there are loose strings hanging all over the place. And yes, it may fall apart at any minute. But ya know what, the Kitty Cats don't mind. The shoddiness of the product makes it that much easier for them to reach the catnip. You have NO IDEA what it took for me to make this little piece of junk. Honest to god, I actually had to take my sewing machine apart not once, but twice, because I had installed something backwards and thread had gathered into a nice jammed up ball that was effectively clogging my machine. The fact that I didn't totally ruin my machine in the process is a miracle.

Silly little thing number two: Play Purse for the girl:

(This isn't the best picture---the girl has been a new kind of obnoxious lately. In case you can't tell, the part that looks like it's hanging from the bottom of the purse is actually her dress-up belt, not part of the purse.)

Obviously, I followed no pattern to make this. It's just some fabric sewn in a basic square purse shape. When I initially gave it to her, I hadn't sewn a handle on and was a bit scared to try--so it was more of a pouch. Here is the conversation that followed (sort of):

Me: Hey I made you a purse. It's not very big and virtually useless, but it took me two hours.

The Girl: Ooh. Thanks. It needs a handle now.

Great. Back to the machine. But honestly, I was getting myself worked up over nothing. I just grabbed a ribbon and sewed it on. It took two minutes. Again, obviously nothing fancy, but the seams are straight and it's not sloppily made---so I'm proud. I'm thinking of making a bunch more of these for my mom to put in her classrooms reward/treasure chest. (My mom is a pre-k teacher.) I think the little girls in her class would like this, plus it would give me a way to practice. I want to get more comfortable with the machine before I move on to something more difficult. But, for now, my sewing has reached a standstill. Thanks to my mishaps today, I'm completely out of thread.


Before I close out this post I wanted to show you something created by someone who can actually sew well. This Bird on a Wire Dress is my latest Etsy purchase. I got it at Earth Groovz, which is an Etsy shop I've purchased from before.

I love these dresses and I have my eye on the Hot Pink skulls one as well. I can't say enough nice things about this seller. She sewed up the dress and shipped it out the same day I ordered it. Oh, to have that kind of talent.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Brownies, Bottle Caps, Comics, and Corks

Oh my what a busy weekend my family has had. Looking back, I suppose we've been busy doing only the typical things that families do--it just seemed to be a bit more nonstop than usual this weekend.

Late last week I found and killed a cockroach in the kitchen which meant that on Saturday I spent the morning scrubbing every kitchen surface to the point where my fingertips hurt and then spraying bug spray like a mad woman. I want to say that in most aspects I am very earth friendly but cockroaches are my own Achilles heel. If one manages to sneak past all the cats and finds itself in the kitchen, I am forced to get out the strongest chemicals known to man. I feel no guilt for this.

After the house was properly roach free, the boy and I spent the afternoon baking brownies to take to a kid friendly dinner party on Sunday night. I'm not a big brownie fan but the brownies we make are out of this world. The recipe comes from Ayun Halliday's book Dirty Sugar Cookies. ( Yes, I've totally been in an Ayun phase lately.) The brownies are very rich and not dry the way a lot of brownies end up being. They are always a crowd pleaser. This time in particular, they were so much of a crowd pleaser that the boy and I had to make another batch on Sunday because we realized we only had six left to take to the party. I couldn't find the recipe anywhere on the internet and I'm not going to post it here because I'm thinking that might be breaking some kind of law. But if you want the recipe bad enough, and you know you have no intention of buying Ayun's book, I'll send you the recipe directly because I'm nice like that. Sometimes.

On Sunday morning we moved the picnic table and cleaned out the fire pit that's been covered for the last six or seven months. It was a dirty job filled with plenty of bugs and worms to put in the compost. But the result is a wonderful, cleaned up patio and a fire pit ready for the first cold night to roast marshmallows. I can't wait.Plus, a bit more room for playing hopscotch.
On Sunday afternoon Jay was checking the email and going through the Freecycle posts when he found an awesome artsy woman who was preparing to move and giving away a lot of cool stuff. Jay made two separate trips to this kind and lucky (she's moving to Oregon) woman's house. Here is some of the items he returned with:

Lots and lots of Duran Duran magazines from the eighties. Some from other countries and in different languages. This is only a sampling--there is probably close to fifty.
Over one hundred comic books---mostly Richie Rich and Donald Duck.
One of my absolute favorite things is this Ronald and Nancy Reagan paper doll book.
Of course the Reagan kids, Ron Jr and Patti, are here as well: There are so many great pages in this book but I love this one titled, "Ron Jr. Goes to Greenwich Village." I think the tutu is a nice touch. Poor Ron Jr, so mercilessly ridiculed for his love of dancing.A few more treasures: Corks,
Bottle caps, And still more bottle caps.Probably the most useful thing to come from this haul is a giant box of paper.My kids go through paper quite quickly so this is going to be a wonderful addition to my ever-growing craft cabinet. I don't really know what I'm going to do with all this stuff yet, but I'm super excited to have it in my house. I plan on spending this afternoon sorting it all and deciding its future then. (I am keeping Ron and Nancy though. Love it!)

I had to leave my new found treasures for a few hours yesterday evening to attend the aforementioned dinner party. I want to say that I'm not a very social person. Whenever I get invited to a party I always get a little scared and nervous. Sometimes I end up not having the best of times. This was not the case last night. Even though the only people I knew were the hostess and her family, I ended up having a great time. The hostess, my pal Nadine, did a great job of inviting a mix of people. The guests included people from her old neighborhood and new neighborhood, extended family members visiting from up north, co-workers old and new, and a few long time friends. It wasn't a large bunch of people that already knew each other so mingling was fun and easy. Everyone brought a dish and the food was unbelievably delicious. (You know how sometimes you go to a party and there is usually that one dish that everyone avoids? There was no dish like that here.) There was fried chicken, risotto with sun dried tomatoes and veggies, lots of chips and homemade dips, spaghetti with sausage, and to top it all off cupcakes and cheesecake. We left the party stuffed.

When we came home from the party I had a surprise waiting for me. My dad had stopped by and dropped off a brand new sewing machine!If you remember, a few months back I got an antique one from Freecycle. At this point we still haven't quite figured out how it works. As I mentioned before we know it works, but because it is so old and there is no instruction booklet, we don't know how it works. It has been very frustrating so I can't wait to have a few moments to begin playing around with the new one.

All in all, it was a very fun, busy weekend and I appreciate you staying with me to the end of the unusually long post describing it. I also appreciate my daughter remaining uncharacteristically quiet the entire time it took me to describe it. Miracles can happen.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Weekly Update

The weather here lately has been unseasonably gorgeous. Cool, breezy and with incredibly low humidity. I've had the air conditioner off and all my glass doors open. It's been hard to stay inside. I'm finding myself ignoring the inside of the house and doing more and more outside. If I seem to be overreacting about the coming of fall it is because here in Florida the first day of fall comes and goes with little fanfare and very little change in the weather. But with temperatures in the sixties and seventies I can pretend I don't live in Florida and it's a wonderful feeling.

When the weather gets cooler I become a new person, a better person. My thoughts are clearer, I have a rosier outlook on life, and I'm just an all around more fun person to be around. As the temperature drops I tend to get all Holly Freakin' Homemaker and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen baking. The first sign of cool weather has me psychotically baking something with pumpkin in it. Jay and I have been craving pumpkin pie lately but it just seems wrong to eat a pumpkin pie in 90 degree weather so we've been patiently waiting. We could wait no longer and Wednesday I made this:

But it is not just any pumpkin pie. It's a Chocolate Bottom Pumpkin Pie. The recipe can be found on author Ayun Halliday's very neglected cooking blog, Dirty Sugar Cookies. The recipe is very similar to your average pumpkin pie recipe except instead of evaporated milk you use sweetened condensed and before dumping the pumpkin mixture in, you cover the bottom of the pie shell with chocolate chips. It's going to be hard to not make this every few days. (By the way, if you've never read any of Ayun Halliday's books, you really are missing out. Get yourself to a bookstore!)

Since I was so heavily into bitching about my son's education a few weeks ago, I wanted to update you on the situation. It's.......better? Honestly, I don't know. He's brought home some of his school work. The grades are good but with room for improvement, which is fine. This is typical of my son's work. But there still is little to no homework which I find disturbing. Plus, he brought home a progress report this week that was all A's. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I'm overjoyed---I mean my kid got all A's!!! On the other hand, um....my kid got all A's. It's a bit unusual. My son is not the type to put forth the effort to earn all A's so I'm thinking he might not be challenged. I'm not the only one who felt this way. When I told Jay and my mom about it, they both had responses like, How on earth did that happen?!? Of course we kept our feelings from the boy, not wanting to discourage him if he did earn those A's. But the whole situation is something that is in the back of my mind at all times. As a side note: Another blogger, Texan Mama, has done some great posts over the past few days about the No Child Left Behind Act. She basically is just trying to inform herself and others about the pluses and minuses of it. She has put up with my bazillion comments over the last few days and I'm sure she wouldn't mind yours as well. So head on over there if you are so inclined. It's a hot topic that everyone has an opinion about but the bottom line is that we all want the best education for our kids. So even though we disagree about a lot of the finer points of it, we are all on the same side and the discussion has been awesome.

Notice anything slightly funny about these two pictures?

Firstly, they were taken on two separate days. Secondly, every time my son does have homework, my daughter has to sit next to him doing her "homework" aka coloring in an Elmo coloring book. Thirdly, and most humorously, is that my son is always wearing his Safety Patrol sash, even though the school day has ended. If you watch as much Soongebob Squarepants as I do, then you've probably seen the one where Spongebob became Hall Monitor. Sometimes I feel like I live with Spongebob. He has even been nervy enough to give us "tickets."

I apologize if this Update seems a bit skimpy. I've spent a lot of time outside enjoying the cool weather and not doing much else, which is good because I just heard that this weekend the temperatures are supposed to get back into the high eighties. Oh well, it was good while it lasted.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Clay Aiken, Gay? No Way!

The latest edition of People magazine has Clay Aiken on the cover and he's officially coming out. Um...who did not know he was gay? Seriously, my mom, a woman who pays no attention to the entertainment industry whatsoever, knew he was gay.I mean no disrespect to Clay. I don't like his music, but he seems like a nice enough guy. I wouldn't mind having him as a neighbor or whatever---but this is not shocking news. This is not news, period.

As a slightly embarrassing side note: When I was looking for pictures of Clay to post here I kept coming across this one of his new album and I was like Who is this lady on the cover of the new Clay Aiken album? Then I realized it wasn't a lady. It's Clay. Again, who was in the dark about this man being gay?

More importantly, who cares? Who Clay Aiken is sleeping with doesn't even rank as high as the last thing on my mind.

Stay tuned to the next edition of People. I hear they are going to out Freddy Mercury and Rock Hudson.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend Wrap Up

I'm feeling old this morning. I stayed up too late watching the Emmys. Then my daughter crawled into our bed at two in the morning ready for a chat. It's now 9:15, I'm on my second pot of coffee, and I still haven't found the energy to make my bed. It's going to be a long day.

Another reason I'm feeling old is that last night before the Emmys, I was on the computer looking at pictures of the "stars" as they arrived. I could try and convince you that I wasn't specifically looking for pictures of this man but given my track record of posting about my somewhat school girl-like obsession with him, would you believe me? Probably not. Anyways, while I was looking through the photos I realized that I had no idea who any of the people under the age of forty were.

The only young 'un I did recognize was Lauren Conrad and honestly I don't even know why I know who she is, since in my lifetime I've probably watched all of one minute of The Hills. (See! Why do I even know she's on The Hills?!) Once the shock of recognizing Lauren Conrad wore off, I wondered Why is Lauren Conrad even at the Emmys? How did she get invited? And if she's considered good enough to come, then how come those three ladies that sleep with Hugh Hefner weren't invited? This is why I'm old: I have reached the point in my life when I consider all non-talented blondes to be not only interchangeable, but probably sex partners of Hugh Hefner. It won't be long before I am starting sentences with In my day....

I also have no idea who Josh Groban is but his little TV theme song montage irritated the living piss out of me. Was it supposed to be funny? (As a side note: While I was typing this out I thought "Wait! Maybe I do know who Josh Groban is! Maybe he's the guy that's married to that bitch Katherine Heigl from Grey's Anatomy." And I got all excited thinking maybe I'm not as clueless as I think I am. But no. Thanks to Google I just found out that Heigl is married to Josh Kelley--another musician I know nothing about. Josh Groban is/was dating some blonde actress named January Jones. Again, I have no idea who this is. I have a feeling I could play around on Google all day finding young celebrities I have no knowledge of.)

In other news more related to my home front and less related to the huge yearly Hollywood party that I will never be invited to, it was a really nice, quiet weekend around here. Jay had a rare full weekend off of work and his being around the house and watching football didn't even throw me into a tizzy. Not even once. We did things with the kids and my mom, cooked out on the grill a lot, and just generally "hung out."
It was a relaxing, slow moving, weekend.

Jay was able to complete one small project for me this weekend. He made chalkboards for the kids' rooms.I can't take any kind of credit for this idea. I saw it first over at The Artful Parent, but have since seen it on other blogs as well. It was a quick, easy, and cheap project and I am so happy with the way they came out. I would love to show you pictures of the board in the boy's room as well but frankly his room is dirty, smelly, and dark as a cave and right now I'd rather just not go in there.

Well, it's overcast outside and not incredibly hot so I think I'll leave the computer and spend some time outdoors. Before I go, let me remind you that a certain book comes out tomorrow. Don't expect much from me for the next few days.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Random Thoughts

Isn't this gal creepy? More about her in a moment.
Now onto Random Thoughts.

*Whenever I look in the mirror, I swear that my glasses are crooked. My family insists that my glasses are straight. Which leads me to wonder: Is my vision crooked? Or is my actual face crooked but my family has grown so used to it that they don't notice it? Do random people that see me notice a crooked face? Sigh. It's all so confusing.

*My son wants a cell phone. There is no way this is going to happen. He doesn't even use the regular phone. When I asked him who he would even call with his cell phone, his answer was, "You." To which I replied, "Well now you are definitely not getting one because I would actual prefer you talk to me a bit less." Is this bad parenting? The last time we were at the school together he pointed out all the kids in his class that have their own cell phones. What does a ten year old need a cell phone for? You know how old I was when I got my first cell phone? Thirty!

*Have you guys seen the commercials for high fructose corn syrup? (If you haven't then you can click here and see a few of them.) I saw one the other night and could not believe what I was seeing. At first I thought it was some sort of joke. Do they think we are stupid? First of all, the commercials are paid for by The Corn Refiners Association, so they have a lot to gain by getting the word out to the public that it's okay to eat high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in "moderation." Secondly, HFCS is in a lot of the items on the store shelves, even "healthy" food like yogurt and granola bars. Most of us, unless we are hyper vigilant, are probably already eating it moderation. Lastly, I just went to the The Corn Refiners Association website and I really shouldn't have because it just pissed me off to no end. They say that Moms are overlooking the "real culprits" of their children's weight gain and high caloric intake. Their big argument is that "single ingredients don't make kids overweight and obese." While this on it's own is true, if that single ingredient is in just about every food a kid eats, then I think it's fair to at least partially blame the kids weight gain on that single ingredient. I'm offended that they think I am so stupid as to not see this. My family does not avoid HFCS 100% of the time---that would be almost impossible. But we are aware that anything with HFCS in it, is not health food, not good for us, and has virtually no nutritional value.

*A few weeks ago I found a very ugly caterpillar. As is the plan of very ugly caterpillars, he made a cocoon on one my trees. Yesterday the girl and I were lucky enough to be around when he emerged. In this first picture you can see the remains of the cocoon directly underneath him/her/it.

I am aware that pictures of a butterfly might not be that interesting to the average person that stumbles upon my blog. But I had checked on the cocoon daily, even running outside during the wind and rain to make sure that it was okay. I feel a bit like a butterfly mama. The butterfly obviously did not feel the same connection to me because after flitting around the yard for a few hours it flew over the fence and hasn't come back since.

*A few nights ago Jay came home from work with the doll pictured in the photo at the top of the page. He explained that there had been a bitchy woman in his store with a bratty little girl. After they left and Jay was cleaning the store, he came across the Happy Meal that had been left behind by the little girl. He brought the doll home for our daughter and then explained that he "had eaten the brat's chicken nuggets too!" I was about to chastise Jay for eating someones forgotten (albeit unopened) chicken nuggets, but then I remembered that earlier in the day I had eaten some Skittles that I had found in the couch cushions. Who am I to chastise anyone?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Time Off

Are you wondering how I filled my time when I took a little break from blogging? The answers would bore you. I read, I bathed the dog, I paid bills. See. I said you'd be bored. I wish I could come back to you and tell you about some intense project I completed. Nope, no projects. I wish I could show you some pictures of me actually doing things. Nope, no pictures. Above all, I wish there was some legitimate reason I took some time off, but there isn't. Simply put, I just needed a break.

Sometimes I'll sit at the computer with the sole objective of quickly typing out a blog. The next thing I know, I'm looking up cookie recipes or shopping for books or nail polish. Pretty soon I look at the clock and two hours have gone by and I'm still in my pajamas. Or maybe I'll start out reading others blogs and the next thing I know I've stumbled upon something scary or disturbing. It's very, very easy to get sucked into this e-mail machine and lose hours of my life.

I feel like I've been in another world lately. Does that sound crazy? Maybe it's because football season has started. I'm quite sure that I'm the only person in Gainesville, possible the United States, who doesn't really give a rats ass about the game. But it isn't really the game itself that bothers me. It's the general feeling that comes over this city. It's as if everything else stops and nothing matters but football. Sometimes I worry that something bad is going to happen in the world and my town isn't going to be aware of it until after the Gators score the winning touchdown.

Other times, during the heart of football season, when the weather is cooler and I have all the windows open, I can hear my neighbors cheering and hollering. This bums me out and makes me lonely. I think back to my high school days when I would hide in the bathroom during pep rallies. I felt like an outsider. Sometimes I still do. I have just never been able to understand the whole pack mentality that comes over hardcore sports fans. Maybe because I've never found myself as a member of any pack. It's completely foreign to me.

Wow. I really had no intention of coming back from my break in such a bleak mood. Let's change the subject somewhat.

Because it is football season, I sort of don't have a husband for a few months. I mean, physically he's here. But he's usually in front of the TV, or reading a sports magazine, or in the refrigerator looking for snacks and beer to take back to the spot in front of the TV. Honestly, this doesn't bother me too much, because occasionally I like being left alone for long stretches of time. But if I do want to see a man who isn't spouting football statistics, I usually have to turn on the TV (or read a book.)

One of my other celeb crushes (other than this guy) is Christopher Meloni. I have to admit that when I first saw he was going to be in a Nickelodeon movie I was a bit disappointed. Sitting and watching Nickelodeon just isn't my idea of a good time. But then I saw Amy Sedaris was in it and the decision was made. The movie is called Gym Teacher and it was ok. It was Nickelodeon. I got from it what I expected to get. Christopher Meloni's hotness in it was at an acceptable level.

This is how I'm used to seeing Christopher Meloni on Law and Order: SVU.
This is how he looked in the Nickelodeon movie.

Which isn't nearly as bad as how he looked in Harold and Kumar.

Incidentally, if you Google Image Christopher Meloni, the fourth picture that comes up is from when he was on the HBO prison show Oz. And he's totally naked. I'm not going to post that picture because that would be skanky. Plus, my mom reads this. But I will post the link to the general area of it though. You know, just in case mom wants to look.

For what it's worth, despite the fact that Christopher Meloni is quite sexy, it's hard for me to consider anything Oz related sexy at all. Prison sex just doesn't figure heavily into my sexual fantasies. (I know, I'm such a prude.)

Well people, that's how I spent my mini break: paying bills, reading, and pondering Christopher Meloni's various degrees of attractiveness.

In case you missed all the many hints via the links (or just chose to ignore them), only six more days until Alec Baldwin's book comes out. After I read it, you can expect to find my review of it here. A totally unbiased review of course.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Weekly Update

I really had a hard time getting with it this week. The past few days have seriously dragged. I feel like mentally I just haven't been here. It was particularly bad Friday morning when the girl was up before six a.m. yelling about how she wanted to watch her Caillou dvd. The early morning whines of my daughter and Caillou is enough to put anyone over the edge. Add to that the dog barking, the bird squawking, and a cat throwing up in my bedroom. All I wanted to do was crawl back into bed.

I was so excited when Jay took a few minutes out of his morning and brought me back coffee and breakfast from Starbucks. My at-home coffee just wasn't doing it for me and nothing perks me up like a Pumpkin Spice Latte. As for the breakfast, I didn't even know Starbucks sold oatmeal. Then again I've never entered a Starbucks actually looking for oatmeal. If I do go in thinking about food, I usually veer more towards a gooey pastry the size of my car than a cup of oatmeal. But it was surprisingly good, not at all like a typical fast food breakfast. It's moments like this that make me think I have the best husband ever. (Before my husband gets a big head I want to point out that I was thinking quite the opposite about him when I came home at about midnight last night to find that he had started sanding our bedroom and there was a layer of dust on everything. But since he helped me clean it up this morning, he's back in best husband territory. For now.)

The reason I was out so late was because it was the second Friday of the month and my mom and I had to warm our usual table and watch The String Kings perform. I would quickly like to pose a question to the ladies who read this:

What is the quickest, most surefire way to feel like the ugliest gal in a bar?

Answer: Spend a few hours sitting behind this girl. (I'm not going to mention her name but she's from Gainesville and has been in Playboy, which makes her a minor celebrity.)

Yeah. That's how I spent the last half of the evening. Obviously she wasn't dressed like that, but still. I'll be thirty two years old next month. I thought I was way past the point where I let these types of girls make me feel bad about myself. I hate that I let it bother me, but sitting behind her I felt like a donkey. Will I ever be able to stand in the same room with a girl like this without feeling like the dowdiest of troglodytes? Don't answer that. Sigh.

The rest of the week was filled with all of the usual things that seem to take up so much of my time. Worries about school, a PTA meeting, trips to the park and the library, and so on and so forth. All those things that fill my days that don't seem important yet must be because I continue to do them day in and day out.

Before I close out this update I wanted to share a few things with you. My lovely friend Cyndy is an amazing woman. She's a mom, she works at the hospital, and in her 'spare' time she rescues and fosters dachshunds. She gets no money for it, she and her family do it because they love animals. Her rescue group has a new blog to showcase some of the dogs and basically get the word out. Please check it out.

There are a few other new links to the right as well, including two for bloggers over at The Huffington Post, Eve Ensler and Erica Jong. In recent days they have both posted amazing pieces that deserve a few moments of your time. (Thanks to my friend Melissa for giving me the heads up about these.)

I'm thinking of taking a few days off from my blog. It has become a bit of an addiction lately and I just need a break. A few mental health days. I'll still be reading your blogs, just don't expect anything new from me until around the middle of the week at the earliest. I'm giving myself permission to do very little.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Easy Way

I was getting dressed this morning when I realized I had only one clean bra left. And it was my ugly bra---originally a white one, now kinda brown---sorta looks like it was run over by a lawnmower. Time to do laundry. But you see, the thing is I really didn't want to do laundry. Sunday I spent all day doing every stitch of laundry in this house. Seven loads later all the hampers were empty and I had earned my glass of wine. And yeah, I know that was four days ago but still, I feel as if I've earned a break.

So I decided to take the easy way out and just wash out all my lingerie in the sink. I dug through the hamper (throwing clothes everywhere), found my unmentionables, put them in the sink and turned on the water.

On the way to the laundry room to get the soap, I noticed the girl was drawing an awesome picture so I stopped to comment on it. Then I got to the kitchen, saw there was no more coffee and decided to make a fresh pot. After turning on the kettle and preparing the french press I realized it was time to let asshole stray cat in. Then I remembered I had originally been headed this way to get...what was it I was supposed to be getting? Oh yeah, the laundry soap.


By the time I got back to the bathroom there was water everywhere. The counter top had about half an inch of water on it. All of my makeup, perfume, and other lady items were floating in water. I had left open the door to the cabinet under the sink so water dripped in there as well. Rolls of toilet paper are soaked and warped. The floor was entirely covered in water. The only thing that kept the water from traveling further was the pile of dirty clothes that I had thrown from the hamper while looking for my bras. That pile is now soaked and will have to go in the washing machine today or it will get moldy.

So much for not doing laundry today.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Venting and Confessing

I feel like my life is running in about thirty different directions at the moment. I don't have nearly as much time to write as I would like. Lately it seems like my life is just kids, husband, animals, house. When I do have a few moments to sit at the computer and write something, it seems (to me anyway) like it's all disjointed and thrown together. I suppose there is nothing really wrong with that---it's evidence of my life at the moment. It's honest and real. I just wish it was more polished. Actually, I wish my entire life was more polished. I think I need about six more hours in every day.

A few weeks ago when I was on one of my many library trips, I checked out a book called What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know. This is actually what caused me to get worried about my sons education. There is no other way to put it so I'll be blunt: My son has made it to the fifth grade easily. He has always received good grades on his report cards, but he doesn't know anything in this book. This is very scary to me. I had to return the book but I'm probably going to get my hands on a used copy so I can try to slyly sneak some of the information into my sons brain. But then I wonder, how long can I do that? Won't I eventually get burned out? And won't my son start to realize that he spends seven hours at school and then comes home and does more school work? The whole situation is frustrating and confusing. I know I've been venting about this for weeks now and Jay and I have been discussing a lot of options so please bear with me as my family figures out when and what the next step is.

Nothing takes my mind off my worries better than baking. I love to bake and will jump at the opportunity. I don't do it as much as I would like because baking can get costly, and really, how many baked goods does one family need? But I gave into the urge today and whipped something up.
I've talked about Nigella Lawson's beer cake before. Everything about it is so easy and it comes out perfect every time. Plus, I like the way it looks on my cheap seventies cake platter. Kitschy and fun and it puts me in a good mood. See the grubby hand to the right of the cake? That belongs to the girl who kept hovering over it asking, "Can I have some now? How about now?" I have no intention of typing out a recipe, but you can find it here if interested.

Yesterday we went to Home Depot to get a weed whacker and as I was walking through the garden section I saw some Venus Flytraps, so of course I had to buy one for the boy. A wave of relief came over me when I showed it to him and he said, "Oh cool. I learned a little about these in school." (Score one for you School.) We brought the plant home and the boy has named it Junior. My son is really excited about this and we've done some research to find out how much it needs to eat. From this angle the leaves look kinda harmless:

But in this picture you can actually see that they are closed tightly around whatever it's digesting.This plant of my sons is relatively small, but the gal at Home Depot said she used to have one and it grew quite large. I'm hoping my son has the same luck. (Interesting fact: If you feed it hamburger it will get indigestion and probably die.)

Now I would like to leave you with a little story that embarrasses me only slightly. This morning Jay and I took the girl to the park. After we were there about ten minutes she ran over to us holding her crotch and saying she had to pee. I told her there were no bathrooms so she's have to hold it. She said she really had to go. Great. I really didn't want to go through all the trouble of putting her back in the car, driving to a bathroom, and then coming back, so I indulged in a bit of lazy parenting. I let her take off her panties and squat behind a tree. Shameful isn't it? In my defense, no one else was there except for a maintenance worker on a riding mower at the other end of the park. And frankly, I'm pretty sure he does the same thing when no one is looking.

*****Late Breaking Information*****

The good news: For the first time since school started, my son has come home with homework.

The bad news: I just read a news article that states that "over half of the high school students in Alachua county are reading below their grade level."

Something is very wrong.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Weekly Update

As far as weeks go, this one has been more of the same, filled with the usual aggravations. I will try not to focus on all the things that pissed me off this week. This may be a short post.

I just finished reading Marley and Me and of course I bawled at the end like a big stupid wuss. I had told myself I wouldn't cry over some guys old dog dying, but by the end of the book I was in love with Marley. More importantly, I could totally relate. Our dog Lulu has done some of the same things Marely did: jumping through screen doors, eating inappropriate things, chewing furniture and other valuables. For the first three years of her life we couldn't take Lulu anywhere because she couldn't behave amongst civilization. I will never forget when we took her to the vet and Lulu was just being awful. The doctor sighed and looked at me and Jay and said, "Have you guys considered obedience training?" Of course we had, but the thought of trying to control this 100 pound beast in a room full of other disobedient dogs, was not appealing. It doesn't matter now anyway, because Lulu grew out of her bad habits and is finally the dog we always wanted. It only took five years.

For those keeping track, the finishing of Marley and Me means that I have completed 44 books so far this year. I'm very pleased with this number. As I've mentioned before, I never thought I'd get past 35 books and now it seems I'm well on my way to reaching my goal of fifty books. Right now I'm reading The Easter Parade by Richard Yates. It's the story of two sisters and their trials throughout life. It's a bit of a downer but it's keeping my interest. I've also started reading A Coney Island of the Mind, but as predicted, I'm having trouble with this book of poetry. I'm ashamed to admit that my mind just flits about too much to really grasp what is being said.

Last week I wrote a bit about my concerns about the education my son is getting. It is still something that is weighing heavily on my mind. We are ending the third week of school and he still hasn't had any homework. I asked his teacher at Open House if they would have regular homework and she said she always tries to give them time to do it in class. I appreciate that she doesn't want to overload the kids, yet at the same time I'm wondering if my son is rushing through his homework at school to get it finished so that he doesn't have to bring it home. And now I find out that the school still hasn't gotten the AR (accelerated reading) program up and running so my son isn't being required to read. It's of course being suggested that he read but there is no school related outcome either way. SO.......this leaves me to go to the public library and find books that (I think and hope) are on his level and that will keep him from falling behind. I don't mind going to the library for my son, I consider it just another part of the mom job. But with all I'm doing to supplement what's happening (or not happening) at school, I'm wondering why I even get him out of bed in the morning. As you can tell by the somewhat hodge-podge nature of this paragraph, my thoughts are all over the place about this matter. I'm trying to not overreact. But how much longer should I remain calm and do nothing?

(As a side note to this: Too bad I already said I wasn't adding children's books to the "Fifty Books" List because my son and I are already half way through Lois Lowry's Anastasia Krupnik. It's definitely bringing back some memories. As a kid I would sit in my room for hours and hours escaping in books. Sometimes I would spend the entire day reading. It was nothing for me to read two or three books in a day. It upsets me that books don't bring my son the same joy they brought me. I've been reading to him since he was a baby but he just doesn't see reading as fun. Part of me wonders if the education he's getting has zapped the love of learning right out of him. Sigh)

The other day the kids and I painted clay pots. This kept them busy for about an hour.

The result: Once they were dry we planted wildflower seeds. I'm hoping the squirrels don't steal the seeds when no one is looking. I think the kids will be disappointed if we just end up with dirt pots.

****My son just came home from school and in his "Friday Folder" was no evidence of any work he has done. There was a schedule showing what they did as a class, but no copies of his actual work. I have no idea what my son does in school all day. This is getting increasingly frustrating.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More Reasons To Hate Hasselbeck?

A few months after I started blogging here, I installed Stat Counter on my page. Stat Counter provides me with statistics on my readers. I have a general idea of what part of the world they come from, how they found my site, and how long they stayed. My favorite statistic by far though is "Recent Keyword Activity." These are statistics I get when someone finds my site through something they typed into a search engine. For instance: I mention Alec Baldwin a lot here. Consequently, someone found my page by typing in 'Alec Baldwin scoring.' This person was probably very disappointed that my blog could not help them in their search. (Note to that person: You are one freaky-deeky.)

The keywords I see the most though are related to Elisabeth Hasselbeck, because of this post from back in May. Judging by the hits my page gets, Elisabeth is hated by quite a few people. According to my statistics, the hatred directed at her extends as far as Canada, Australia, and England. Since the new season of The View has started, the daily hits my blog receives has tripled, mostly due to people Googling such phrases as "I hate Hasselbeck", "Elisabeth Hasselbeck view hate," and my personal favorite, "Hasselbeck retard." (Note to that person: You and I are kindred spirits.)

All this makes me wonder, Why does everyone hate Elisabeth? So please, if you came to my little section of the internet through one of the many hate Hasselbeck searches, speak up and tell me why.

As for you Elisabeth, thank you. All the many stupid things you do and say have helped my readership grow in ways I have never known. And for that I thank you. But I still hate you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Random Thoughts

I know it's Tuesday, but I'm moving like it's a Monday. I have a long list of things I want to be completed before the boy gets home at two so I'll make this list of my random thoughts quick and easy.

*I have proof that fall is right around the corner. Starbucks is bringing back the Pumpkin Spice Latte tomorrow, Wednesday, September 3. I'm trying to decide if I want to be at Starbucks bright and early tomorrow for the much awaited first sip of pumpkin-y goodness---or should I wait until the weather is a bit cooler so as to fully appreciate it? I'm thinking I'll hold off for a few more weeks, unless I wake up tomorrow and it's 40 degrees, which I'm not counting on. Of course I won't be in full fall mode until I'm able to pick up a few six packs of pumpkin beer. The jury is still out on when my local independent grocer will start stocking it.

*I'm going to admit something to you guys: I have no qualms about picking trash. If said trash has a sign on it that says "Free"---that's even better. It's not even trash in my opinion. Yesterday Jay and I went out for a bit and came home with this:A gorgeous, real wood desk. I don't know how old something has to be to qualify as an antique, but this is old. Plus, it has no real, visible flaws. None that can't be sanded into oblivion anyway. I was thinking of painting it white and saving it for the girl's room, but her room is a bit crowded at the moment, so I'm thinking I'll just sand it, apply a fresh coat of stain, and sell it at the next garage sale. (The eagle-eyed among you will notice that I still haven't gotten around to sanding and painting my bedroom walls. Sigh. Some day.)

*One of the reasons there is no room for a desk in the girl's room is because of this:That, my friends, is a Rose Petal Cottage and apparently they are quite the rage among pre-school age females. Obviously the cottage is a bit out of place with the whole decluttering, less-is-more thing I have going on now. My mom bought it. And honestly, I can't fault her---it is a lot of fun. You can separate the two areas of the cottage for more room for dollies and tea parties:

Then it can be closed up again for the neat hiding away of all the crap(or children) inside:

Do you know how many people it takes to put together a Rose Petal Cottage? Only one. But a lot of yelling is involved and that one person better be rewarded with an icy cold beer afterwards.

*Lastly, I would like to leave you a picture of the oddest looking spider I have ever seen. He was weaving his web right outside my bedroom door until he was relocated by Jay, who didn't really appreciate him being right at the level of his head.

Anyone know what kind of spider this is?