Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

This is my last post of 2007. Thanks for checking in on my life and I look forward to entertaining you with tales of stained carpet, bad dinner conversation and bodily fluids in 2008. If that doesn’t keep you coming back, I don’t know what will.

On deck for tonight: Robert will watch the recorded Oregon bowl game, I will finish reading my book, and our boys will stay up to celebrate New Year east coast time. That means 9:00 everyone, and I mean it. (Robert is campaigning to celebrate Nova Scotia time so the kids will go to bed an hour earlier.)

We have little bottle poppers and something called “Magnum Poppers” which I’m going to have to google to find out how to use. (They look like little guns, so should be very popular with the boys.) We will top our evening off with a drink of sparkling cider. I know, we are party animals.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

It's White, It's Cold, It's SNOW!

Although snow was forecasted to come to us twice over the holiday season, it failed to make an impressive show. So, we had to go to the snow. It took two hours to drive up to the snow park on Mt. Hood. For another two hours we sledded, dug snow caves and threw snowballs. Actually, Isaac pooped out after one hour, so I made the sacrifice of sitting in the car with him while the rest of the boys got the snow play out of their systems.

The drive home took three hours. One of those hours was spent making our way down to Government Camp, a distance of about six miles. I’m not sure what I could say to adequately describe the misery of traveling 6 miles in one hour other than to say I’m glad I have boys and that they know how to pee in an empty water bottle.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cute Christmas Picture

I’m posting this picture because it’s cute and because it’s just about the only picture that didn’t turn out blurry from Christmas morning. Every year my Christmas pictures turn out blurry. I think it’s because of the low light and fast moving kids. They can’t get the wrapping paper off quickly enough. It’s a fifteen minute frenzy of ripping and shouting and good times.

Isaac loves the cartoon “Max and Ruby” based on the books by Rosemary Wells. So when I found these little Max and Ruby beanies on-line about a month ago, I didn’t have to think twice before entering my shipping and credit card info.
Score one for Mom!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Didn't Think it Through

The frog habitat seemed like such a good idea at the time. It was sitting on the shelf right next to the Ant Gel Habitat, Butterfly Canopy and Sea Monkeys.

I considered my options: Ants could escape their space gel enclosure, find their way into my pantry, start a colony and would probably be holding general elections within 9 months. (I know…ant colonies are monarchies)

The butterfly would start off as a caterpillar, spend weeks as a completely boring chrysalis and then turn into a butterfly that would last 2-14 days, unless we released it into the wild where it would probably die from exposure.

There were also Sea Monkeys, but I became disenchanted with those when I found out that the girl sea monkeys did not have lipstick and hair bows, carry snazzy handbags or play tennis.

I pictured Jonah watching his mail-order tadpole grow and develop into a full-fledged frog. I imagined the excited look on his face as his frog took its first hop. I also figured that after a few months, we’d release the little creature into the wild where it would assimilate itself with the natives and enjoy a happy frog life.

I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what frogs eat. I spent even less time considering how long frogs live.

The answer: live crickets and 5 years. Also, according to the frog information pamphlet, we can’t release our frog into the backyard when we are done with it because it would not have the skills to survive. Crap.

And, in a related story, Ethan received a totally cool microscope kit from his cousin Erik for Christmas. Included with the plethora of little parts is a frog dissection kit. Unfortunately for me, Ethan has already informed Jonah that he should not worry because he will NOT dissect his frog.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hot Stuff

And so it begins.

The boys donned their Christmas pajamas, posed for this picture and ran up to bed as fast as their little legs would carry them. This year, there was just enough fabric for 4 pair of pajamas instead of 3, so Robert got his very own matching pair. I have to say, I do feel a little left out. After all, don’t these boys look HOT? (See? There's flames on their pj''s like "hot" because of the flames. Get it?)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Carmel Corn for Breakfast

I don't need to justify my breakfast choices to you! Don't judge me. But seriously, what is the difference between carmel corn and this?

Ok, Corn Pops is fortified with vitamins and minerals and is a "healthy part of this nutritious breakfast." But other than that, it's basically carmel corn. You know I'm right.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fudge For Lunch

Around this time of year, there is a spot in my kitchen that starts to pile up with goodies. Neighbors and friends bring over really great things like chocolate dipped pretzles (excellent), Harry and David truffles (heavenly), big buckets of popcorn and movie night goodies (fun), gourmet brownie can cookie mixes (delish!) and much, much more. Today, my friend gave me big hunks of fudge, which I know exactly how to not eat.

It's pretty much like not eating fudge you get at the beach, except you drive around with it in your car and just take one little bite every time you come to a stop sign. Or a stop light, when a new song comes on the radio, when you use your turn signal, when the kids start fighting in the back seat, when the kids stop fighting in the back seat and when you use the garage door opener.

So, I had fudge for lunch.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Squeaky Wheel

It’s true; the squeaky wheel gets the grease. What you don’t usually hear, however, is that before the squeaky wheel gets the grease, the squeaky wheel keeps you up all night. Or to be more specific, the squeaky wheel keeps you up all night unless you are younger than 10, or male.

Like all hamsters, Ethan’s little ball of fluff is nocturnal. As mentioned on this blog before, hamsters run a lot. Sometimes up to 5 miles a night. I wouldn’t have believed that before last night when the constant, squeak…squeak…squeak persisted for hours.

I moved the hamster to the kids bathroom and shut the door, but it didn’t seem to help at all. I laid in bed trying to figure out how to put more distance between me and that rodent! Honestly, the squeak was pretty faint. I should have been able to fall asleep despite its annoying constancy. I can fall asleep to the sound of rain quite easily, why not this quiet little squeak? Maybe I could pretend the squeak was frogs in the springtime or crickets in the summer. Those sounds would be almost relaxing.

Oh have mercy! The squeaking! And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, Robert started snoring.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Best We Could Do

I had a Seinfeld moment today when I licked 80 cheap envelopes and felt like I was going to die. I had to eat 3 brownies just to get the horrible taste out of my mouth. However, the Christmas letters are done! It might take me a couple weeks to get the stamps, but the letters are in the envelopes, a huge accomplishment.

I even got the family to hold still long enough for a family picture. I won’t say that it was a good family picture. In fact, you can see for yourself up above. My hair is blowing in the air, Isaac is not looking at the camera, Ethan’s eyes are practically closed AND he was trying to give me rabbit ears, and Jonah has some kind of “how dare you take my picture” scowl. Robert isn’t particularly happy with how he looks in the picture, but come on! Compared to the rest of us, he looks great! Although I believe he's holding onto a rolled up "Friend" magazine for some strange reason.

Getting this picture was an effort that almost required a nap afterwards. We had someone take it after church. The boys were climbing the tree, running all over the place, flying paper airplanes, running out into the parking lot, and basically doing anything but holding still. Robert was busy with tithing settlement appointment arranging and couldn’t come outside until just about everyone was gone.

I grabbed a friend as she was getting in her car and she graciously came back and agreed to snap a picture. I didn’t have the heart or the patience to ask her to take more than 23 pictures just to get this shot. OK, I’m kidding. She took two, but really, that was enough. It gets really hard to smile when you feel like strangling your kids.

So, this is our picture. On the letter it will be in black and white and much smaller. You almost can’t see my blowing hair flying in the air. But now you, my faithful blog readers will know the truth behind the picture. Aren’t you glad?

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Shoe Fits, But...

A few months ago I was alerted by my non-blogging sister, Allyson about a great deal. This GDA (Good Deal Alert, as she called it) was for a pair of Heelys shoes for $25. Don't know what Heelys are? Have you ever seen those kids zipping around the mall on their rolling tennis shoes? Those are Heelys and they are very popular with the kiddos.

Normally Heelys sell for around $55 to $70, so I thought that $25 sounded like an offer I just couldn’t refuse. There were 2 shoes at the sale price: one was pink and white, the other blue and white. The fact that the style was called “glitter” only caused me a moment’s pause. Blue was a boy color, right? The blue ones must be boy shoes. Ethan will love them!

The shoes were ordered, the shoes were delivered, the shoes were stuck in a corner in the back of my closet to await Christmas or birthday. All was hunky dory until the other day, when non-blogging sister Allyson mentioned the shoes she’d purchased for her daughter during a phone conversation.

She mentioned there was a pair of glitter laces and I should check my pair of shoes and possibly remove the glitter laces so Ethan would not be under the false impression that his Heelys were “girl” shoes. So, I opened the box.

Hmm, there were RHINESTONES on the shoes. Yes, rhinestones. I racked my brain to think of when I ever saw rhinestones on anything “boy” related. The answer: Never! The glitter shoelaces were there too, but clearly the least of my worries. I was looking at a pair of powder blue and white girl's Heelys.

Allyson suggested a little shoe alteration with a Sharpie to disguise their feminine origins, but I could not bear the thought of sending my son to school in girl’s shoes. We all saw the abuse Michael Scott took on The Office when he came to work in a ladies suit! (OK, maybe not all of us saw that, but trust me; it was hilarious, and so embarrassing.)

I decided I needed to unload the shoes, so I sent an e-mail to all my friends who might possibly have daughters hoping for a pair of rhinestone studded, powder blue, glitter Heelys. I offered them for $29.97, which was the exact price I paid including shipping. I had one person interested almost immediately. In fact, I thought I’d definitely unloaded the shoes.

When she decided not to buy the shoes a little later, I posted them on Craigslist for $40. Robert was pretty excited at the thought of making a little profit on the shoes. Well, we will see if that happens. This morning a potential buyer is stopping by to look at them. Hopefully those rhinestones will dazzle her into parting with forty bucks. If so, it would be my very first Craigslist sell.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why I Hate Toys R Us

I had to go to Toys R Us today. Yes, that's right, I was physically forced. Because honestly, the only thing worse than having to set foot in Toys R Us, is having to do it during the Christmas shopping season. (OK, I wasn't physically forced, but it felt like it.)

I had the worst expectations for my venture into toy hell. Sorry for the coarse language, but really, it's like an evil maze of stuff and even though they have approximately 3 billion toys in inventory, you can never find the exact toy you are looking for. But you have to wend your way through the maze of super narrow aisles anyway on your quest for that one toy. Heaven help you if you are pushing a cart because managing those tight corners practically requires special training. Just make sure you know the rules for cart etiquette if you happen upon someone else with a cart going the opposite direction. Be prepared to back up all the way to the video game section to let them by.

This is the bad attitude I took with me to Toys R Us.

The parking lot was completely packed as I arrived and I hissed, "I hate this place" under my breath. But a spot opened up and it was pretty close too. The surprises didn't end there. I looked for what I needed for about 30 seconds before a helpful store employee came up and asked if she could assist me. She took me right to where I needed to go. There was a huge assortment of just the kind of toy I was looking for. While I was thinking about which one to buy, another helpful store employee approached and asked if I was finding everything I needed.

OK, not what I was expecting.

The check-out line was short and moved very quickly. The check out girl even made a really witty observation that made me laugh. I was in and out of the store in less than 10 minutes!

Unfortunately for Toys R Us, this just makes me loathe them more. Death, taxes and the fact that Toys R Us is a miserable place to be: all things I could count on... until today. Today that idea was shattered. Thank you so much Toys R Us for proving me wrong!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Book Chat

I loved my latest read in the Kiki Strike Series, "The Empress's Tomb." Is it so unrealistic that a group of five fourteen year old girls could get along well enough to be spies in New York City, all behind their parent's backs? Actually, there is a bit of infighting in "The Empress's Tomb" but that helps me to stop thinking about the fact that the main character's parents are so clueless that she is able to sneak out of her house every night and come back around 4am.

Seriously, if you need a kick-butt break from reality, this book is for you. True, there isn't any actual butt kicking in this book, but it's not for lack of ability among some of the characters. The first book is "Inside the Shadow City" and is also a great read. In fact, I suggest reading it before "The Empress's Tomb."

From November 9th post's list of upcoming reads I've read the following:

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little, by Peggy Gifford. I didn't love this book as much as I thought I would. The writing style was fun and quirky, and I loved how Moxy could creatively rationalize her procrastination. I would be interested to hear a 7 year-old girl's perspective on this book. I wanted to love Moxy and she really just kind of annoyed me, but maybe because I'm a grown-up.

Good Masters, Sweet Ladies: Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz. Wow! I wish I was in middle school and studying the Middle Ages. Any book that can make me wish I was back in middle school is seriously good.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan. This is a graphic book, not necessarily a novel. And when I say "graphic" I don't mean blood, gore and sex. I mean it's all pictures. This graphic book does not have words. In spite of the absence of words and BECAUSE of the absence of words, this book is able to convey a whole gamut of emotions. Really great.

Love Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. I returned this book to the library. I wasn't really interested in reading it in the first place. The first one ended just fine for me and I had no desire to follow this fictional character any farther. Besides, November didn't leave me a lot of time for reading.

Hatchet by Gary Paulson. Hatchet ended way too soon for me. I really liked it and could have kept reading about this character for at least 100 more pages. I didn't want him to have to survive a winter, like some people did. I did want him to be able to use his way cool survival kit for more than 20 minutes though.

I'm still waiting for a few more books from the library and on deck is Epic, by Conor Kostick and Tamar by someone else I can't think of right now.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cherry Pie Tips

When you make cherry pie and you don’t want to use the pre-made pie filling, which is delicious and great for making Jean Atwood’s Famous Christmas Cherry Ring Roll, or just eating out of the can when no one is looking, here is a tip.

Use tart cherries in water and follow a recipe like this. Do not use 2 bags of dark, sweet cherries. Even though they are pitted and sweet and dark, they are not the cherries you want for a cherry pie.

I knew that I didn’t want dark, sweet cherries when I went to Safeway yesterday to get cherry pie ingredients. I knew that I wanted tart, pie cherries. But when I couldn’t find them canned or frozen, I bought two bags of dark, sweet cherries anyway.

Maybe I thought that they would mysteriously become tart, pie cherries on the drive home? I’m not really sure. Luckily, QFC had exactly the cherries I needed.

So, since each of these cherry products cost $4 each, I spent $12 on cherries yesterday. A pie from Marie Callender’s would have been cheaper, don’t you think? So, if you have any tried and true recipes using dark, sweet cherries, please pass them on to me. I would love to use up these cherries in my freezer.

Potter Personality Test

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz

This is me...who are you?
Harry Potter Personality Quiz by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Can you guess which table I decorated? Let me give you a hint. My plan was to distract the diners with candy so they wouldn’t notice the centerpiece. Trust me, there is candy on the table. Really, it’s in those little cups that look like they should be used instead for crème brulee.

So, I did my first table centerpiece and survived. Following Anna’s advice, I went to Dollar Tree to get a little inspiration. Instead I got 3 candles. The little balls were from Fred Meyer. Since I chose to purchase the boxes with one broken ball, I paid $1.25 instead of $3 per box.

The meager evergreen sprigs were stolen from a Christmas tree lot at Safeway. They were closed, otherwise I would have asked first. I saw a pile of discarded branches next to the baler. I looked around to make sure no one was watching, jumped out of the car, grabbed a handful of branches, and then made my getaway.

The pedestal plate thing goes with my cake plate and was where I was going to put Robert’s birthday cake tonight. But he wanted pie instead, so I didn’t feel so bad using it for my centerpiece.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a pie to make.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Why I Look Tired Today

I'm sorry. The kids have not done anything cute, destructive or annoying. I've come to terms with the following:
  • Isaac does not like anything I make for dinner
  • Ethan will spend twice as long hiding his dirty clothes under his dresser and behind his bed as he would just putting them in the laundry basket
  • Jonah's paint project will somehow end up face down on the carpet while his flubber will stain all the white grout on the kitchen counters bluish-green

None of these things surprise me anymore, and I don't feel inspired to write about them. I also don't feel inspired to clean the house, but that's a different post altogether. Well, I guess it could be the post, but it's not going to be.

Instead, I will post about what kept me awake as I lay in bed last night.

  • I have to write the Christmas newsletter. It's not the actual writing that is causing me grief, it's the family photo. The thought of getting our family somewhat presentable and then snapping a picture of all of us boggles my mind. I can't possibly see how it could be done. I have nothing against putting individual shots of each of us in the letter, but I just don't have a decent picture of myself. Actually, there are literally 2 pictures to choose from and one was taken last year. No one ever takes a picture of mom. Sigh.
  • That brings up the second thing that kept me awake. I know some would say, "why not just put a picture of your kids in the Christmas letter?" Well, I'll tell you why, after I apologize to all the people I will probably offend by saying this. (Sorry) I get a little bugged when I receive a Christmas letter from an old friend I haven't seen for like 15 years and it only includes a picture of their kids, who I've never met in person. I really, really want to see YOU. I like YOU! You are my friend and while your kids are very cute and I do want to see what they look like, I also want to see YOU. So, that is why I insist on including my picture in our Christmas newsletter.
  • Next thing keeping me awake: Money. The credit card bill is going to be high and the spending isn't over. Even though I want it to be and I feel like feeding my family powdered milk for the rest of the month just to save money. And I think I just might have put in $20 instead of $10 when I went out for dessert with some friends the other night because I can't find the extra $10. And it's making me sick even though it's $10 and I should just let it go.
  • I offered to set a table for this Thursday's Christmas Enrichment meeting because I have a lovely set of Spode's Christmas Tree patterned dishes I received from my grandma Atwood. However, I didn't realize that I would also have to set the table with silverware for 8 and a centerpiece. The silverware isn't that big of a deal, but I don't know if I have service for 8. A few pieces met their demise in the garbage disposal. The real issue is the centerpiece. Some would call me creative, but honestly, I don't think I have the attention to detail for a centerpiece. I feel a google search coming on. Of course the more I think about the lack of silverware and the need for a centerpiece, the more the size of my credit card bill creeps into my mind and I find it hard to move onto the next thing keeping me awake which is...
  • I need to turn 7 yards of flannel into 3 pairs of pajama bottoms.
  • I shouldn't have spent so much time reading today, but since I can't go to sleep, I wish I would have gone to the library to pick up that book that just came in. Then I could just get up and read until I fall asleep.

I think that is all the things that kept me awake last night. So, what will I do today to ensure these same things don't keep me awake tonight? I'll go to the library and pick up my books. Denial works so much better between 8am and 10pm, doesn't it?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Lesser Known Christmas Traditions

Jonah informed me tonight of the following:
"You know some parts of Christmas are about shooting staples."
I can see it now! Sing along everyone: On the thirteenth day of Christmas my true love ambushed me with 13 shooting staples, 12 lords a-leaping, etc...