Sunday, August 31, 2008

Weekly Update

As I mentioned about a week ago, I'm definitely teetering on the edge of something big here when it comes to my family and our habits. I know I'm not the only one feeling a bit overstimulated. Just about every blog I read mentions something about living simpler, spending more time 'unplugged', and just generally slowing down.

Like I said before, I don't know exactly what brought on these feelings. Maybe it's some of the books I've been reading. Maybe it's that as I travel around the blog world, I come across so many families who are making simple living seem like a viable option, whereas before it was more of a fantasy to me.

Either way, some changes have taken place around here. There has been less TV and more activities---inside and outside the house. More crafts and games and trips to the park. Jay and I are making more of an effort to turn the everyday things into learning experiences, which means getting the children involved more---instead of just taking the easy way out and doing things ourselves.

This new household philosophy has not always been simple. My children are six years apart--they have different interests and are obviously on different educational levels. Keeping them busy in a way that doesn't include TV can be challenging and of course the TV comes on from time to time. But that's fine, I have no intention of getting rid of TV altogether. I think everyone needs a good mindless activity now and then. I just want to make the TV less of a focus, and to work in more "learn at home" activities, especially if they're disguised as games or some other fun thing (such as this weeks grape picking.)

Thursday was Open House at the boy's school. We met with his teacher and she only had good things to say about his behaviour and work. This isn't surprising and of course we are proud.........BUT I'm concerned. My son, although a smart kid, doesn't put too much effort into his work. He does just enough to get by. Most of the time it goes unnoticed because he causes no trouble, is nice, and basically "is a joy to have in class." A more experienced teacher can see through this and will push him to do more, but my son has a first year teacher this year. Again. I don't want to say too much more about this because I love and respect teachers and I know every teacher has to have a "first year" at some point, but my son is in the fifth grade and this is his third first-year teacher. Alachua county is notorious for paying teachers poorly and getting rid of more experienced ones in favor of teachers right out of the University. On the other hand, Alachua county had the best SAT scores in the state so the teachers here must be doing something right. Right? I don't know. The state we are talking about is Florida---we have one of the worst public school systems in the United States. All the schools in the state are shitty, my son is just lucky enough to go to one that isn't quite as shitty as all the rest. My fears and worries are not allayed.

Again, I want to make it clear that I have nothing against his teacher now or any other teacher he has ever had in the past. They have all proven to be very competent and caring people. But with all the cuts in funding and the pressure to focus on whatever is on the standardized test, I think the cards are stacked against them. It's my job as a mom to be concerned about this.

In other news, we had another garage sale this past Saturday. Every time we have a garage sale it starts to rain, so we end up dragging all our stuff back inside and feeling slightly unfulfilled. This one was a good sale though---towards the afternoon, we had sold mostly everything and we had more of a sense of accomplishment. The boy sold a bunch of his things too and made about $40. I'm always proud of him on sale day because he gets up when it's still dark outside to help set up. He earned every penny of his $40.

We took the kids to Squirrel Ridge Park this morning. It's a bit further from our usual park but very pretty. Plus, it also has a dog park so we let the boy bring Sadie.

Groovy peace pole:

The boy and (I consider Sadie to be more of a barking rat than a dog.)
And, of course, swings:
It's a gorgeous park and I hope we can go there regularly.

When we came home, Jay and the boy got busy making one of my favorite dishes, spanikopita aka spinach pie.

Chopping veggies:

Buttering the layers of phyllo dough (sweet Jesus check out that bowl of butter):

The finished, albeit half eaten, product:

While they cooked, the girl twirled around the kitchen.

All in all we've had a busy week and a fairly low key weekend.

Before I go, I wanted to leave you with this one last picture. Remember the asshole stray cat that more or less took over my house? Well, he really can't be considered a stray anymore. He's ours. Here he is resting on my bed. I had just interrupted the licking event he was having with what's left of his bits and pieces. I would prefer he not do that on my bed, but I'm not going to yell at him. I value my life.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Things I'm Into Right Now

It's time again for another list of the little things in my life that are making me happy.

* This handmade blanket for the girl:You know how I'm kinda addicted to all things etsy? Well, my mom has the same addiction for all things e-Bay related. She can't resist a good bargain, as evidenced by the fact that she has amassed a collection of about fifty pairs of jeans, bought off e-Bay for no more than a few dollars a piece.

Over the last few years one of her addictions has been homemade afghans. They are perfect for our North Florida winters--warm, yet not so heavy as to make us sweat. Last month my mom came across this e-Bay seller who will make the blankets any colors of your choosing, so my mom requested one to be made with all the colors in the girl's room.

I love the detail and texture in this blanket. It's adorable the way the flowers pop up a bit from the rest of the blanket.

And, as promised, it matches everything in the girl's room. Even the two Hello Kitty pillowcases that she just can't live without.(I don't know if you caught this, but you can tell by the placement of the pillows, that the girl insists on sleeping with her head where most people would put their feet. I don't know how or why she does this---I would feel like I was sleeping upside down. She's a weird kid.)

*While we are snooping in my daughter's room, I would like to introduce you to her friends, Sandwich and Coral.

They are made by this wonderful company called Bla Bla. They are hand knitted in Peru by artisans who are paid a fair wage. As you know, I love a company with good ethics.

I found Coral the Mermaid at a children's boutique in Savannah. When I saw it I knew the girl would immediately love it. Boy was I wrong. It hung out in the bottom of her toy bin for quite a few months. Then slowly but surely she began playing with it and sleeping with it. That's when I decided to get her Sandwich the cat. Bla Bla toys have a softness that's hard to describe (imagine hugging a cloud.) The girl routinely falls asleep sucking on Sandwich's paws or the closest Mermaid appendage. This is cute when she's in her own bed--not so cute when she crawls into my bed at two in the morning and slaps me in the face with a soaked mermaid tail fin.

If you're lucky, you can find Bla Bla toys locally. I'm not lucky. I bought Sandwich from Oompah Toys. Or you can go directly through Bla Bla.

*Another thing I'm loving right now is grape picking with my family. Jay and I took the kids grape picking yesterday afternoon.

This was a fun family activity and it provided us with some locally grown produce. Here is what fifteen pounds of grapes looks like:

Total cost: $14.

*Lastly, I'm really into breakfast for dinner. Breakfast foods for dinner are cheap, filling, and fun. Last night we had banana pancakes, thick sliced bacon, eggs, and grits. Well, the family had grits. Grits are one of the few foods I can't choke down.

You know what else goes well with breakfast for dinner? Grapes. Lots and lots of grapes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Park

I kept my word. Today Jay and I took the girl to the park and let her stay as long as she wanted, which as it turns out, is only an hour. Who knew? All this time I was thinking she wanted these all day park sessions and I find out she's happy with sixty minutes. I was working myself into a frenzy for nothing---an hour is a breeze.

I'm not one of those moms who bothers to wipe off park equipment before my kid uses it. These slides had huge puddles on them from all the rain. Yep, she slid right through them. When we left, her shorts were dripping.
The girl calls this the "round and round." I could barely take this picture. Just watching it spin triggers my motion sickness. When we go to the park without Jay or another adult, she can't play on it because I can't keep a close enough eye on her. We went first thing in the morning. The sun was shining but it wasn't too hot or too bright yet. We mostly had the whole park to ourselves.

Here she is on that useless piece of playground equipment that you never actually see kids on because it's not really any fun at all. When she first played on it a few weeks ago she mistook it for one of those rides at the mall that you pay 50 cents to bounce up and down on for a minute. When it didn't move she looked up at me and said, "Well, don't you have any money?" Sigh. No Princess, you have to work this one yourself.Hey, check it out---I'm in a couple of these photos. I realize I never show pictures of myself up in these parts. I like to make myself invisible when the camera comes out. I'm elusive, like Bigfoot.And no, I'm not pregnant---it's just a breezy blouse.

Now we're home and she's playing by herself and I'm enjoying the quiet. I may have to make park trips a regular thing.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Morning Thoughts

Maybe I'm delusional. Maybe I'm just wishing for it too hard. But I swear I feel a little bit of fall in the air. Am I crazy? The first official day of fall isn't until September 22, so it isn't time to start baking pumpkin pies yet of course, but it seems like the days with suffocating summer heat are over. Hopefully I haven't spoken too soon.

Things seem to be getting back to normal around here. The boy is at school and the adults are headed back to work. I can plan on getting the girl back on some sort of schedule. Despite the fact that Fay has passed us, we got quite a bit of rain yesterday and last night, so I don't think we'll be having our long park day today---but soon.

I wanted to give you a small update on the baby squirrels. The female died of pneumonia. My mom's friend realized she was ill and gave her antibiotics, but it wasn't caught in time. The male is doing great though, eating well and being very active. As soon as his eyes are open she'll put him in a cage on her porch so that he can gradually get used to being outside. Once he learns to crack nuts on his own, she'll open the cage door so he can come and go as he pleases. Eventually, he'll go for good.

Saturday Jay was looking kinda bored so I sent him to the library with a list of about ten books I've been wanting to read. Usually when Jay makes library runs for me he comes back empty handed or with only one book. Our library tends to disappoint. Imagine my surprise when he came back with his arms full of books. Right now I'm reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I am loving this book and am so inspired by it. In it, Kingsolver and her family chronicle the year they spent eating only foods they grew, or were grown or made locally. Although my family buys a lot of locally grown produce, I am always wishing we could do more, especially when it comes to the growing aspect. There is an awesome satisfaction you get when you grow your own food. Although our garden wasn't horribly successful, we did get a lot of tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and a few random strawberries. The excitement I felt when I put the lettuce that came from my backyard on a sandwich was addictive. I'm definitely going to do some more research and planning for next Spring, instead of just randomly plopping plants into the ground and hoping for a salad. Yesterday I was watching Forcast Earth on The Weather Channel (I know-- so dorky) and there was an interview with Barbara Kingsolver. She was saying how her family never really missed the out-of-season fruits and veggies because there was always something good to eat in-season. Towards the end of the piece she said something to the effect of (and I know I'm probably botching this), Instead of going to the kitchen and saying, what do I want to eat?--we should be saying what do I have to eat? Living by this motto would be life changing, considering most of our food is shipped to us from all over the world.

Another book I'm reading right now is Marley and Me. It's an entertaining, easy to read book about a man and his dog. I think I can relate to this book almost too much. When reading about all the destructive things Marley does, it makes me think back to when my dog, Lulu, was a puppy. She was the most disobedient, asinine dog I've ever known. She chewed everything: baseboards, the kids toys, an entire box of photos I hadn't gotten around to putting in an album. I was so glad when her puppy phase ended. She's about five years old and just now getting to be the dog I've always wanted.

The next book on the list is A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. It's been a long time since I sat down and read a book of poetry. I hope my gnat-like attention span can handle it.

Well, I've already been way too wordy for a Monday morning and I suppose I've ignored the girl long enough. I think the Nickelodeon marathon she has been enjoying for the last two hours needs to end now.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Weekly Update: Fay Edition

Okay. Now I'm really, really tired of being stuck in the house. Because of Fay, there was no school Thursday or Friday. The kids are getting on my last nerve and with all the animals hovering about, it's starting to feel a bit Noah's Ark-like around here. I vow that when the weather is nice, I'm going to take the girl to the park and not leave until she suggests it's time to go. Yes, I am aware that time at the park moves slower than non park time. Yes, I'm aware that every time I take her to the park we stay about 30 minutes and it feels like 8 1/2 hours, but if my three year old does not get outside and running soon, she's going to make me even crazier than I already am.

My brain is a bit fried this week so I'm going to make this easy on myself. Here is a list of what went on this week:

* I've participated in lots of child-based activities. We've painted and cooked. Played Barbies and baked cookies. Read stories and played Wii Fit. When the wind died down and it wasn't raining too heavily, I took the girl outside to gather acorns. Acorns! I'm so, so out of ideas.

(I don't know if you can tell by the picture above, but in her hair is a ponytail holder from the Freshly Picked Etsy Shop. I've mentioned the shop before when I bought some pillowcase dresses. I really love all the Freshly Picked items.)

*The library hasn't been open the past few days, but we were able to go earlier in the week, thank goodness. One of the books I checked out for the girl was called The Witch's Children. It's adorable and entertaining, even for adults. Do check it out if you get the chance.

*One of the books I read this week was Go Green, Live Rich. It was basically a list of 50 ways to save the earth. I almost feel bad adding this one to my reading list because it only took a few hours to read and I didn't get too much from it. Most of the suggestions I either already do (switch to compact fluorescent bulbs, compost, buy energy star items) or are things I would like to do but just don't have the budget for yet. I don't need to be told that solar panels are a great idea. I know they are. I just don't have the funds for the initial cost of $20,000. I did read the book from cover to cover though, so it's going on the list. (That brings the total to 42, for those keeping track.)

*During one of the windier moments of the storm, I heard something hit the roof. I went outside and saw a baby squirrel on the roof. Jay came out and rescued him and we found two more of his siblings in various parts of the yard. Sadly, one of them died before the night had ended. I think he hit the ground pretty hard, his head was a horrible mashed up shape.
They spent the night in an infants shoe box under a lamp to keep warm. We fed them every few hours from a children's medicine dispenser.

The next morning we gave them to one of my mom's friends who has done this sort of thing before successfully. One of the squirrels was starting to squirm and crawl out of the box, and my house with it's six cats, just wasn't the safest place for him. There is a part of me that feels bad, because I'm sure the squirrel mama was looking for her babies, but I couldn't leave them out in the yard in the cold rain.

*Jay and I watched a movie called Smart People. We were both really blown away by this movie. Ellen Page and Thomas Haden Church were hilarious as ever. I've always been sort of unimpressed with Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker, but they really turned it up a notch in this movie. I kinda forgot it was Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker. This is one of the few movies I watched all the way through without looking at the clock and wondering if it was going to end soon.

Well people, that was it for my week. We were trapped in the house but we tried to make the most of it. We really didn't get too much excitement from Fay, some rain and wind but nothing like what was had by the rest of the state.

I want to leave you with this picture of my son wearing his Safety Patrol sash. He put it on the other morning and sighed, "I've been waiting for this for five years."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

File Under F for Fay

I learned a few things this morning.

* The day before a hurricane or tropical storm is supposed to come to your town, is NOT the best time to look for all the paperwork about your homeowners insurance. Go figure.

* The system that I have for filing away all of our important paperwork is in need of a complete overhaul. I have a lovely wood filing drawer that I routinely cram things in with absolutely no rhyme or reason.

Don't get me wrong, I know my ABC's and the more basic statements are in the obvious folders. For instance, the statements for Jay's Chevron card are filed under C for Chevron. It's the items with less obvious titles that I have trouble with. As in, the paperwork that Jay received from the doctor after his vasectomy. It could be under J for Jay, D for Doctor, H for Health, I for Insurance, or P for Penis. If I'm feeling especially creative it may even be under W for Wiener or Wang. There really is no telling where I'm going to file something away.

Ours is not a file cabinet you go to when you need an important paper in a hurry. All requests for important paperwork should be given to me, in writing, at least a week in advance. Then the person doing the requesting has the important job of praying that I don't actually file the written request.

Are you wondering what folder the homeowners insurance paperwork was in? Silly you, it wasn't in one at all.

It was in a cabinet in the kitchen under some cookbooks and a bundt pan.

Monday, August 18, 2008

On Appreciation

About five years ago Jay and I were in the process of redoing the living room of the condo we lived in at the time. We put down some wood flooring and bought a dark wood futon. Then I went to Pier One and bought a wicker chair and three giant throw pillows. It wasn't a huge project, especially in comparison to some of the things we've had to undertake since buying this house, but all in all, we spent about $1500.

I mention this because it occurred to me that none of those things are in my life anymore. I no longer live in the house that had the wood flooring. In fact when we sold the condo, I heard that the new owners planned on replacing those floors with carpet. The futon mattress and cover was peed on by my cat Polly so it found its way to the trash. The three giant throw pillows were stained up by the spills and accidents of children, and the wicker chair was sold at Saturday's garage sale for ten dollars.

I find it both eye opening and depressing that we spent $1500 and have nothing to show for it. My family, and American society as a whole, spends far too much time working to have more and more junk that ends up being gone so quickly. It's hardly worth the effort. Although I don't work outside the home, I do all the bill paying and take care of the finances. I estimate I spend about twenty five percent of my week thinking about financial issues. If I'm not thinking about bills then I'm thinking about what needs to be bought for the kids and Jay, pets, house, or myself. When I'm done focusing on the needs, the wants get my full attention. It's exhausting. I'm so tired of spending money.

These feelings didn't erupt overnight. I've been thinking a lot about consumerism and how much my family wastes. I cannot pinpoint exactly what has caused me to have these feelings. I think it's a combination of factors. Maybe one of them is that on any given day my family has at least $100 worth of items to sell at a garage sale. The fact that I would spend $30 on something and then be so quick to sell it for $2 is really kinda sad. Another factor is that my daughter has become quite the gimme-gimme. I know this is a common phase for kids her age but she takes wanting to a whole new level. Anytime she sees any toy on TV she asks me to buy it and if I say no then she just says, "Well, the mailman will bring it to me." She's gotten so used to the internet shopping that my family does that she thinks most of her stuff is actually bought by the mailman.

I'm aware the ten dollars we got for that wicker chair isn't a lot of money. In this economy ten dollars doesn't even buy two gallons of organic milk. But to be honest, I had never planned on getting anything for that chair. A few months back I was suggesting the hubby take it to the dump for me when the boy walked by and decided he wanted it in his room. Having grown tired of it, he decided to try and get a few dollars for it at the yard sale.

This brings me to a question I've been asking myself all weekend: Does the fact the someone paid $10 for something I planned on trashing indicate that maybe I don't fully appreciate everything I have?

I don't really know if there is an easy answer to that question. I certainly don't think there is anything wrong with getting rid of crap you don't want or need anymore. I guess it would only become a problem if I replaced old, yet perfectly good, items. I suppose this whole issue can only be resolved by striking a balance between maintaining the proper appreciation for what I have, yet not putting too much emphasis on "stuff", all the while being mindful that there are people who might love to have the stuff I own. It's a very difficult balance to maintain.

In the past few months I've tried to be more aware of my spending habits. I've noticed that a lot of my internet shopping is done on days when the girl has been difficult and I'm feeling stressed out. I turn on the computer and use it as a way to escape for a few minutes. Now that I'm more aware of this, I think my internet spending has gone way down. I'm trying to only use the computer when I actually have a need to, instead of using it as a mindless diversion. It's a change, but I'll live. The shopping I did while stressed never really worked to de-stress me anyway.

Right now I'm reading Fat Girls with Lawn Chairs. It's written by Cheryl Peck and filled with entertaining stories about her life and childhood. One chapter about Christmas time with her family contains a quote that pretty much sums it all up , "We were neither rich nor poor, but we were wise enough to realize, gradually, that the hunger for things is never fully cured by mere things."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Weekly Update

Jumping Jehoshaphat it sure rained a lot this week! Don't get me wrong, I love the rain. There is nothing that makes me happier than a gloomy, overcast day. But enough is enough already. If I don't get these kids and animals out of my house soon I am going to go bonkers. We have a fenced in back yard so on sunny days the animals spend a lot of their time outside. Not this week. It's been a lot of this:And this:And this:And this:

Get up and do something you lazy beasts!

When there were a few moments between rain storms, the kids and I went out and tended to the much neglected garden. Are you wondering why I haven't updated you much on the garden? It's because just about everything died. We totally suck at being self sufficient. Everything in the bowl below came from my garden.

Tomatoes and peppers. Wonderful. We can make salsa. I can also rip a few limes from the lime tree (the only other thing in our yard to regularly produce anything worthwhile) and garnish some vodka tonics. Major components to the beginning of a great party? Yes. A balanced meal? No. And certainly not kid friendly. Sigh. Maybe next spring.

Boots in the rainy, drippy garden:

Thursday morning Jay was home and decided to make pea soup. (Jay makes the best pea soup by the way.) He had the boy help in the kitchen. I think this looks like the most dangerous way to cut an onion:Miraculously, no fingers were lost. (By the way, I've noticed I have some of the gnarliest looking cutting boards. Really, I should invest a couple of bucks over at Crate and Barrel and do something about this problem if I'm going to keep putting up kitchen pictures.)

While the men folk were in the kitchen I was trying to keep the girl occupied. I decided we should set up a Barbie clothes laundromat in the bathroom. (Can you tell I'm running out of new and exciting things to do with the girl?) This kept her busy for about an hour.

Wanna know something weird? After washing all those clothes, the water in the sink was black. What do those skanky Barbies do? Ick. Dirty whores.

TV continues to be slim pickin's so Jay and I have gotten back in the habit of watching movies as soon as we get them in the mail. This week we watched Down with Love and Malice. Down with Love is quite possibly the worst movie you will ever see. I wasn't expecting anything groundbreaking from it, but I thought it might be fun. It wasn't. It was irritating. I think I only like Renee Zellweger when she's fat, like in Bridget Jones. (Which really isn't fat, but whatever. I'll save my diatribe about emaciated celebrities for another time.) Malice is a movie that stars Alec Baldwin and a bunch of other people who I don't care about because they are not Alec Baldwin. He was shirtless in it, so I may need to buy this one.

I feel as if it's been kinda hectic around here lately. Today was Meet the Teacher, and Monday is the first day of school. It's been a week of preparations and tying up loose ends. Last minute school supply shopping and trying to think of things to put in the boy's lunchbox that are healthy and that he will eat. I think we are ready.

Tomorrow is the big yard sale. My front room is filled with things to drag out in the driveway at 6:30 tomorrow morning. Pray for no rain.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Barbie Dinner Party

The girl and I hosted a dinner party for all her Barbies. There was a strict dress code. No one could attend looking like this:Since all the guests have limited arm mobility, we fixed their hair and helped them into their best outfits. Mulan was the first to arrive:
But then she quickly left to change because she was quite under dressed.

Once all the guests had arrived they began to feast on some of the largest food known to man:

Actually, "feast" is the wrong word. They barely touched the food!

There was plenty of good conversation though.

(Doesn't it look as if the girl with the big blue earrings is looking sideways at the camera? Creepy.)

The dinner party came to an abrupt end when all the girls realized they had been dating the same man. That Ken can get around!

Once the girls had gone, we had plenty of leftovers to clean up. We just couldn't get these ladies to eat.

Sigh. I really have been in the house too long.

(Note: I need to make it perfectly clear that the boy was not actually playing Barbies with us. He was making fun of us. )

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Let the Countdown Begin

Alec Baldwin(or Sexy Alec, as he is called around here. By me.) has a book coming out on Tuesday, September 23. Forty-three days away.

I'm glad it comes out before the end of the year, since now I will be able to include it in my 'fifty books' goal.

Yes, I do actually plan on reading it. You won't find me batting my eyelashes at it or licking the cover. (Notice I never said I wouldn't actually do those things. I just said you won't find me doing them.)

I may need a few copies.

Monday, August 11, 2008

An Adventure in Spending (someone else's) Money

The girl has always loved the commercials for Build-A-Bear Workshop, but because we rush her past our local store, visiting it was more of a far off dream. Sort of like the lost city of Atlantis. She didn't think she'd ever actually get there. Well, a few weeks ago we were in the mall and because I had just successfully gotten her away from the play area without a tantrum, I wasn't paying attention to the fact that we were standing in front of the Workshop. Of course she had spotted it. And so the nagging began.

No one in our house was real excited about spending money on a bear with it's own pair of Skechers, but because my dad lives a few hours away and isn't yet immune to the pleas of a lovely three year old, he fell for it. Yesterday we went to the Workshop. The girl was in heaven. When we left an hour later, she was tightly clutching a bear that was wearing a complete outfit of Hello Kitty clothes, right down to the panties, and some black and white saddle shoes. My dad was fifty dollars poorer.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Weekly Update

I'm done with summer. If you want to get technical, I was done with summer around the second week of June. Now I'm just angry. Summer needs to get the hell out of here. I'm ready for fall. I want cool weather. I want to make pumpkin pie. I want to wear sweaters and pants. I want to be able to open my windows. I want to light a fire in the fire pit. All the activities associated with summer just don't excite me the way cooler weather activities do. I spend my summers hiding from the sun and heat.

In some misguided attempt to hurry summer along, I have been cleaning closets and getting all the fall clothes out. Because we are having a neighborhood yard sale next weekend, I need to find out what doesn't fit the kiddies so I can sell it. This involves a game I like to call "Does It Fit?" It's a game where I grab all the out of season clothes, throw them in a pile on the bed or floor and yell, "Get your ass in here and see if any of this stuff still fits!" I love this game because it usually ends with neat, de-cluttered closets. The children hate it because it's basically like trying on clothes at the store, only without the hope of actually getting something new.

Of course the children can't hog all the fun, I cleaned out the closet Jay and I share as well. Here is a bit of the finished product. The cat resting on our shoes is Polly. At the time this photo was shot, she was taking a break from pissing in inappropriate places.I took a picture of my closet because I wanted proof that it could actually be clean. In about two weeks the shoes stacked neatly in their boxes will be on the floor and Jay's pants will be everywhere. That will be about the time I'll have to play another fun game called, "Is It Clean?" I don't like this game as much because it usually ends with me needing to do another load of laundry.

Am I the only person really sad about Bennigans closing down? I know everything on their menu was an artery clogging nightmare, but sometimes that's exactly what I want. I can't believe I will never have their Monte Cristo again. In case you are unfamiliar with the sandwich, it is a turkey, ham, and cheese sandwich that is batter dipped and deep fried and then sprinkled with powdered sugar. It's amazing:

Here is a goofy, older picture of the boy, enjoying his first Monte Cristo:

That sandwich will definitely be missed.

Dysfunctional Mom tagged me to do a survey. At first I was scared by the length, but upon further inspection, it's not that scary. Here it goes:

A.) attached or single? attached of course

B.) best friend? Dawn

C.) cake or pie? cake

D.) day of choice? Sadly, all of my days are exactly the same.

E.) essential item? a good facial cleanser

F. ) favorite color? blue

G.) gummy bears or worms? both. in large quantities

H.) hometown? ugh. Florida

I.) favorite indulgence? a glass of wine and the hottest bath you can imagine, preferably in a hotel or somewhere else where I wouldn't have to pay the electric/gas/water bill.

J.) January or July? January

K.) kids? got 'em! don't want anymore thanks!

L.) life isn't complete without? coffee. lots of it

M.) marriage date? 7/16/1997

N.) number of brothers & sisters? none.

O.) oranges or apples? apples

P.) phobias? cockroaches. I consider myself very earth friendly, but when I find a roach in the house I spray the harshest chemicals known to man

Q.) quotes? I don't think I have a favorite quote, I have a hard time remembering them. I suppose the one that sticks with me is Oscar Wilde's "I can resist everything but temptation."(I actually just Googled 'Oscar Wilde quotes' to make sure I was remembering it correctly, and he had quite a few good ones.)

R.) reason to smile? probably my silly kids.

S.) season of choice? winter

T.) tag seven peeps! here is where I break the rules a bit. I can't think of seven people who will do this and I don't want to tag the people I did last time. So I'm just going to tag Jay and his answers will be here if you're interested.

U.) unknown fact about me? I can juggle.

V.) vegetable? love them all except cauliflower

W.) worst habits? too many to list

X.) x-ray or ultrasound? I try to avoid both if at all possible

Y.) your favorite food? Just about anything, but I'm not a big meat eater.

Z.) zodiac sign? Scorpio. I think.

Enjoy your homework Jay.

This morning I had to go to the library. I would like to leave you with some thoughts and a conversation I had while perusing the shelves.

Thought #1: I bet this Freddie Prinze Jr. biography has never been checked out.

Thought #2: A whole book devoted to couscous recipes? Score!

Thought #3: What the hell?!?!?!?

Completely Sarcastic Conversation:

Me (handing Jay a book by that dreadful beast Anne Coulter): "Here, didn't you want to read this?"

Jay (handing me a book about divorce): "Here, I think you'll be needing this."

Me: "You will then need this," and then I directed him to a book titled 'The Amputee's Guide to Sex.'

I win.