Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wanted: Magnetic Pin Boards

I loved Megan’s idea inspired by an expensive Pottery Barn Kids product. Jonah’s current artwork display method is to scotch tape every scrap of paper he draws on or finds visually appealing (this would include junk mail) onto his bedroom wall. Until this point I endured the “scrappy” look because I couldn’t really think of any other way to display Jonah’s valuables that didn’t include purchasing 47 frames and mounting them on every available inch of wall space in his bedroom.

When I saw the project Megan did, I knew it was the perfect solution for Jonah’s room. Unfortunately, I can’t find the magnetic pin board she used in her project to save my life. I’ve even undertaken an exhaustive internet search. (Well, at least I found it to be exhausting.)

Not wanting to leave the craft store empty handed, I picked up the supplies for a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time. After all, if I ever find the magnetic pin board, I’m going to need a lot of magnets. I also thought this magnet craft would be great for the kids to do.

I did a few sample magnets to make sure I had the procedure down before I turned the kids onto it. It was not only easy, but a lot of fun. I’m not going to list out the instructions on this post, but you can find them here, or here. (Or here, if you didn’t trust the first two links.)

Unfortunately, Jonah ran off to his buddy’s house instead of doing this fun project with me and then Isaac spilled all the clear, flat marble things on the floor. (Most are still probably nestled among the nasties under my oven.)

I think I’ll get some Valentine scrapbook paper and have the kids make these for their classmates for Valentine’s Day. Or I’ll just make more for me. Yes, I think that is what I’ll do.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More Book Chat

Here are some of the books I’ve been reading lately. I’m always looking for good recommendations, so if you’ve read something you loved, let me know.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules, Jeff Kinney
(Juvenile) Because I loved the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid and because Ethan devoured it in an evening or two, I decided to make this book a permanent fixture in our home library. Is it wrong that I laughed at the picture of the mom fake-calling the dentist to scare her son into brushing his teeth? The text in the little speech balloon reads, “Do you have dentures in kid’s sizes? Oh, only wooden ones, OK.” I would use this tactic on Ethan, but he’s already read the book and would see right through me.

Skulduggery Pleasant, Derek Landy
(Juvenile) This was a fun book, clearly the first in a series. It was original and yet very much like Harry Potter at the same time. (A young person finds out there is a secret world of magic alive and well with its own ministry, bad guys and good guys operating in the cities of…wait for it…Ireland.) The author spares no sympathy for the physical safety of his main character, even though she is a girl. She really gets into some serious scuffles, but is healed by magic. Fun, but a little predictable.

Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature, Robin Brande
(Young Adut) I very much loved this book. I don’t know what to say about it other than “I loved it.” I related with the main character in so many ways. I loved her struggle and was furious at the injustices hurled at her from seemingly every angle. I also loved who her “savior” turned out to be.

The Maytrees, Annie Dillard
(Adult) The first grown up book I’ve read in a really long time. In other words, there’s imagery, allusions to things I didn’t get like Greek philosophy and literature (I’m guessing here because as I mentioned, I didn’t get a lot of it), rich symbolism, complex characters and beautiful language. Thanks Betsy for getting me to read it and for the discussion that followed.

Feathers, Jacqueline Woodson
(Juvenile) I decided I’d give this one a try because it won the Newbery Award. I’d never heard of Jacqueline Woodson, but after reading the book I checked out her website and was amazed to find out what a prolific and successful writer she is. A beautiful and meaningful story; Short and easy to read but makes a big impact.

Epic, Conor Kostick
(Young Adult) This is a great sci-fi book that doesn’t require the learning of strange names, customs and histories to be enjoyable. Also, if you or someone you love enjoys playing video games, this book will definitely give you a new appreciation for, or apprehension of them.

The Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, Laini Taylor
(Young Adult) I wanted to read this mainly because the author is supposed to at a SCBWI conference in Seattle this spring and she has pink hair. But I found out after reading it that she lives in Portland. So I suppose I need to be adequately prepared to gush should I run into her in on the funky streets of Northwest Portland. (Or the cookie cutter suburban sidewalks in front of QFC.) Actually, this was a great story that I’m more than happy to gush about. Also the first in a series, the main faerie/character is smart, strong, determined, fearless, and powerful with just the right amount of self-wondering and humility.

Peaches, Jody Lynn Anderson
(Young Adult) This was a fun, “Traveling Pants” kind of book. Three girls with nothing in common and their own set of problems build bonds of friendship while picking peaches one summer in Georgia.

Repossessed, A.M. Jenkins
(Young Adult) A big surprise with this book; not what I expected at all. A Devil (fallen angel) takes over the body of a slacker teen boy so he can experience the 7 deadly sins: lust, sloth, gluttony, envy, greed, wrath and serving leftovers for 3 nights in a row (or something like that). So, based on that description, I expected lots of sinning to go on. What I ended up getting out of this book was something very different. Deep thoughts galore!

100 Cupboards, N.D. Wilson
(Juvenile) I’m starting to get annoyed by the new books that end up being the first in a series. I kind of feel a little duped because I start off reading a book thinking that it’s going to be a great story: beginning, middle and end thank you very much. But the end of the story only leaves open other avenues to explore. I end up feeling tricked into a commitment I didn’t bargain for. I feel bad pinning this comment under ND Wilson’s name because his isn’t the only book on this list that is a first in a series. I loved Leepike Ridge and I liked 100 Cupboards. I suppose the idea of 100 cupboards that lead to 100 other worlds would require more than one book to do it justice (one hundred books maybe?). Overall, a wonderful story with some surprising twists.

Born Standing Up, Steve Martin
Autobiographies don’t usually rank high on my reading list, but this one was wonderful. (It’s hard to believe there was a time when 10 year old boys could ride their bikes to Disneyland and get a job there too!) Again, thanks Betsy for the surprise birthday gift. My favorite line from the book and one that I actually underlined crookedly with a red pencil was, “Through the years, I have learned there is no harm in charging oneself up with delusions between moments of valid inspiration.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Good Timing

Yesterday was a scheduled Teacher Work Day so the kids did not have school. We were thrilled to wake up to a very thin blanket of snow and NOT have to take off an extra school day. You might be thinking that surely Portland area schools would not close for a scant inch of snow, but they do and they did. Our neighbors who attend St. Pius had the day off for snow even though all the stuff had melted by 10:30.

So there were plenty of kids to play with yesterday and the boys (not Isaac because he didn’t want to get cold…is he my kid or what?) built a snowman and even did a bit of sledding.

Today’s weather has been a bit eclectic. We’ve had snow, rain, dark clouds and clear skies. Forecast for this afternoon? My guess would be hail, a tornado and locusts.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

I had a great birthday yesterday. After church we came home and I read in my room while Robert and the boys did their own thing. How is this different from any other day, you ask? Good question: yesterday I didn't feel as guilty as I normally do about sitting and reading while everyone else fended for themselves.

On Saturday I spotted a beautiful King sized comforter set at Fred Meyer. I'd had my eye on it for months and finally it was on the 50% off table. Woo hoo! I figured it would make a great birthday present and I threw it in the cart. I figured I'd need new sheets to go with it, so I picked out some lovely matching, 400 thread-count sheets which were also on sale and some coordinating pillow cases.

Fortunately I didn't open those plastic zipper bags with the comforter and sheets folded in impossible-to-duplicate-manner before realizing I had a California King sized bed and the sheets and comforter were most likely Standard King sized. Ugh.

A little work with a tape measure confirmed my suspicions and so my entire birthday load will have to be returned. I'm sad. I'm even more sad because quick search on revealed that a California King-sized comforter set (not including sheets) in a similar style was over $300 and my birthday budget is closer to $150.

I felt so much better though, when my super-neighbor (and friend) I-Shüan brought me a bag of those know, the ones that are so amazingly good, dusted in cocoa powder and just melt in your mouth fabulous? They make great reading snacks too. Amazing how chocolate makes you forget your woes.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tuna Taste Test

I’m on the look out for inexpensive snack-type food we can bring to Disneyland so that we don’t have to pay outrageous prices for in-park food every day. (I’m looking forward to paying an outrageous amount of money to eat at the Blue Bayou for lunch one day, but that’s it!)

I was in Target yesterday and spotted these little tuna/cracker darlings. Don’t they look cute AND tasty? OK, I’m not a big fan of tuna what with all that mercury and everything, but these little snack packs don’t need to be refrigerated, come with 6 crackers, a spreading/scooping spoon type thing, and the delicious sounding tuna mix. To top it off, they are $1.25 each. For that price I think I can put up with a little poison in my tuna. Hey, if it doesn't kill ya...

I bought one of each variety and today at lunch we had a family taste test. I wanted to find out a) if the family would indeed eat tuna on crackers and b) which variety they liked best.

Here are the results:

Robert—Liked everything, thought the Spicy Thai Chili was probably a little too spicy, but that didn’t stop him from gobbling it all up.

Ethan—Turned his nose up BIG TIME at the idea of eating tuna on crackers, even though he begs for free samples of the same stuff at the Fred Meyer deli. He took a microscopic taste of the Spicy Thai Chili and the Sundried Tomato Basil, but ate an entire cracker topped with Lemon Pepper.

Jonah—Loved the Lemon Pepper, not so much the Sundried Tomato Basil and Spicy Thai Chili, although he was much more good natured about trying the tuna crackers than Ethan was.

Isaac—Didn’t want to commit to a big bite of any of the crackers until he tasted the Lemon Pepper. He ate it all and asked for a second cracker, which he promptly fumbled in his fingers sending all the Lemon Pepper tuna to the floor. Oops.

Afton—I liked all three varieties, but Lemon Pepper was a clear favorite.

So, I’ll head back to Target in the next few weeks to pick up 5 or so Lemon Pepper Tuna Medleys. Hopefully the kids will all remember how much they loved it when we are at Disneyland.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Star Wars Bath Time Adventure

Vanilla ice cream tastes great with chocolate syrup and chocolate syrup, once the vanilla ice cream is gone, must be licked from the bowl. After the licking, the little boys, and their chocolate covered faces head upstairs for a bath.

At first they are reluctant to get in the tub until one says, “Hey! We can have a Star Wars Bath Time Adventure!” Mom gives a puzzled look to Dad, but doesn’t complain much when she sees the two boys race upstairs to get in the tub.

Later, Mom learns that a Star Wars Bath Time Adventure means bringing all your Star Wars guys into the tub, filling it with water and bubbles, and then acting out different scenes with all the Star Wars guys.

In this picture, Isaac's guys act out the famous fight between Annakin Skywalker with the bionic hand and Annakin Skywalker with the two light sabers. I think this scene is from the 7th Star Wars Movie titled “Return of the Clone: A Bath Time Adventure.”

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Reasons to Never Leave the House

It’s been really cold here in Portland. Not Minnesota cold, or Alaska cold, and thank goodness not North Dakota cold. We’ve had lows in the 20’s and while our highs have been in the 40’s, before you call me a weather wimp, let me add that it’s been quite windy. So, those of you in Minnesota, help me out here: Doesn’t that wind add a certain factor to the temperature. Wait, it’s coming to me…a wind chill factor!

Last night on the news one Portlander was interviewed about the weather. Her comment: There is NO bad weather, only bad clothing choices. Hmm. I guess I have made bad clothing choices then because I have no desire to step outside. It’s a shame too because for the first time in months, it’s not rainy.

I forced myself to run to Old Navy to find some church khakis for Jonah who came home with a hole in the knee of his church pants last Sunday. (Strangely, it was Isaac who had a scabby knee while Jonah’s knee appeared to be fine.)

Also on my list were a couple of sweater vests for church, church shoes and possibly socks. Here’s what I found at 3 different stores:

Old Navy—I can’t complain about Old Navy’s prices. I can complain about their selection. They must have been clearing out to make room for the spring line because, it’s 20 degrees with a wind chill factor and that means it’s time to sell bikini bathing suits, flip flops and tank tops.

Old Navy carries approximately 5 times as many girl clothes as they do boy clothes. I’m not even exaggerating. So, even though there were racks and racks of sale clothes for kids, there was very little square footage dedicated to the boys. (Like 10 square feet…I did the math).

Miraculously, I was able to find a pair of khakis in Jonah’s size that were, drum roll please, on sale. After the discount I paid $4.24. I also picked up a cute sweater for me for $8.50.

Ross—I don’t know why I torment myself by going into Ross. If I were to actually find what I was looking for, I’d be subjected to the world’s slowest check-out line. It doesn’t matter if there is one person in front of you or ten. It can be slow cashiers, customers who are arguing the last dollar off a $2 Betty Boop, sequined throw pillow or, heaven help you, both.

If Old Navy has 5 to 1 girl clothes to boy clothes, Ross is 10 to 1. What is the deal? Don’t the 7 year old sweat shop kids in Thailand and Bangladesh know how to make things for boys? Just to torture myself, I made my way over to where the boy’s clothes should be and found 2 racks with about ½ a rack’s worth of stuff on them: mostly jeans that would fit middle schoolers. I didn’t see any boys shoes.

Famous Footwear—With approximately 5,839 different shoes in the entire store, Famous Footwear had just 2 styles of boy’s dress shoes. One pair was black and shiny and stiff like plastic. The other was brown and thick soled, and would have been perfect for parents trying to make their kids taller so they’d get on rides at Disneyland. I got neither.

Back at home, I spent 10 minutes checking out a few different on-line stores and purchased 2 sweater vests from Hannah Andersen; sale priced at $12 each, thank you very much.

So, lame stores with poor selection, you have forced me to make a choice and I don’t choose you!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Hairy Post

I decided it was time to start coloring my hair, a task I will most likely repeat every 6-8 weeks for the rest of my life. How depressing is that? I guess I didn't have THAT much grey. Most people I complain to tell me I'm over-reacting and that I am hardly grey at all. Whatever! I figure if it's too much to pluck out, then it's too much.

So today I colored my hair for the very first time. Here is why I think I'm going to have it professionally colored next time.

1. Color Selection: So I'm in Fred Meyer in the "hair color" aisle and I think they need a mirror there because I could not see my hair enough to match colors. I tried pulling my short hair around to the box top with the little color sample on the top, but it just didn't reach. When Robert saw the color I'd chosen (Cinnamon Stick) he just laughed.

2. The Back of My Head: Newsflash, I can't see the back of my head. The instructions on the hair color indicate that time is of the essence when applying the color and that you need to move quickly. I didn't know what would happen if I took too long to apply the color, but I didn't want to find out at the expense of my hair. Meanwhile, I'm expected to apply the goop to the back of my head and not drip and make sure there is even coverage all at the same time. Not likely.

3. The Results: Well, it is kind of a little fun to have that red tint in my hair, but I'm getting a little melancholy about my old hair color. I feel like I've abandoned a child. Well, maybe not a child, maybe a beloved pet. Anyway, it doesn't look like I did a very consistent job with the goop application. Also, the grey at my temples didn't get covered that well anyway, and that was the whole point of coloring in the first place.

So, Corrin, if you are reading this, expect a call from me in the next few weeks to schedule an appointment for a real hair coloring.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Writer's Strike Benefits

I'm trying to be a little controversial to get more comments. I'll see how it works. I know that most of my readers are attending a wedding and probably already on their way out of town, or else packing and don't have time to check blogs, so I guess I can't expect too much action.

I'm pretty sad that the Writer's Strike has halted some of my favorite shows like "The Office" and "30 Rock." While "The Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" are up and running, after viewing the first couple of episodes and feeling like I was staring at a minor auto wreck on the side of the road, I decided to look away and wait until the funny stuff came back.

With that said, I do think there are some benefits to the Writer's Strike. I think I actually have enough perceived benefits to make a list, so I will. And here it is:

1. No People's Choice, Golden Globes and (fingers crossed) Oscars. Sorry, but I think earning millions of dollars for 3 months of work is "praise" enough. The only practical reason I can see for these awards shows is for Joan Rivers to show off her latest "surge." By the way, have you seen her lately? Disturbing.

2. More time to read books. That is, unless you are actually tuning into drivel like "Wife Swap" and "Celebrity Apprentice." (Come on! I'm going for controversy.)

3. Opportunity to learn about new shows that were always great like PBS's Masterpiece Classic, and just about anything on Discovery Channel.

4. Time to truly reflect on the need for the premium cable or dish channel package. Cancel these services and buy yourself a pair of swanky boots with the savings.

Well, that's all I have. Really, the main reason I'm happy is because those self-indulgent awards shows have been canceled. It makes up for not getting any new episodes of "The Office."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

On Second Thought...

OK, I did a little more reading about how preschool is bad. As it turns out, the first article I linked was written by a "deschooler." I'm just going to let you draw your own conclusions. Maybe this bit of info will give the article more credence, or maybe not.

The second article that I wanted to remain blissfully ignorant of, concludes that full-day preschool and daycare is the real problem. Isaac is only in preschool for 5 hours a week, so I feel like the Berkeley/Stanford research is not relevant to my personal situation.

If wanting two and a half hours of "time off" two times a week makes me a bad mom, then I guess I can live with that.

Meanwhile, I'm back on the play date article!


I'm writing an article for trackmyfoodstorage about how to set up successful play dates for preschool aged children. As part of my research I wanted to learn a little about how play dates might help preschoolers develop social skills. It seems to make sense that when kids play with other kids, they would have more opportunity to learn how to do things like take turns, cooperate and communicate.

My google search lead me to this article that I had to force myself to read because I sensed it contained information that would make me have to admit a few things I didn't want to. The real knife in the back was the following paragraph:

"Preschool, ultimately, is for parents, not kids. If preschool didn’t exist, who would lose out? Parents. Because parents would 1) have less time for themselves. 2) Be responsible for providing a rich learning environment 3) Have to be a parent full-time and not be much else. Kids, they would be just fine without preschool. They were before preschool existed, and they would be today. But parents, it would be very hard for them to give up preschool. That’s why it’s so popular. Although, this reality is hidden behind the “it’s good for kids” argument, which really has no real weight, except that’s what everyone wants to believe."

I then found this article on the same search that continued to rock my world. I skimmed it in hopes that I could remain blissfully ignorant about this latest research (from UC Berkeley and Stanford, no less) that indicates preschool actually damages children's social skills and emotional development.

It's always a shock to learn that you've been lied to, but I feel even worse now that I realize I've been lying to myself! I didn't know I had it in me. I will most likely need a big dose of chocolate to get over this betrayal!

Meanwhile, what kind of implications does this research have for play dates? Should I even bother writing the article now? What about the friend that Isaac has over this morning? Should I call his mom and have her come pick him up?

I'm so confused.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Now I Remember!

What is up with people who ask, “So, what did you do this weekend?” Why do I have to “do” something? Can’t I just slug around the house and call it good? I guess I’m not as annoyed with the question as much as I am with the fact that the question usually reminds me that I have no idea what I did on the weekend.

Angela just asked me this a few minutes ago on the phone. “Where were you yesterday?” Hmmm, that would have been Saturday. Just 24 hours ago. Right, I have no idea. How can my mind have blocked out whatever it was I did just 24 hours ago? Oh! I remember why my brain is suppressing that memory.

It’s because I spent many hours making 12 chicken pot pie recipes for my freezer dinner group. Actually, I only need 6 pot pies for the swap, but I like to make a few extra for myself.

This pot pie recipe is one of my family’s favorites. Everyone eats it, even Isaac. Sometimes I even get requests for seconds. I know! How crazy is that?

I was pretty efficient with my pot pie making yesterday. I spent several hours in with prep work. I cooked and chopped 27 cups of chicken, chopped 4 ½ cups of mushrooms and 4 ½ cups of onions. Oh, and I chopped 2 ¼ cups of parsley too. The fresh parsley really makes this recipe, in my opinion.

After all that prep, I was able to cook up the chicken pot pie, 3 recipes at a time and transfer them, with out spilling thank you very much, to zip lock bags.

Best part of the whole chicken pot pie experience was acquiring the pie crusts. For the swap, I include a double pie crust with each bag of chicken pot pie filling. The Pillsbury pie crusts are normally around $3.50 each so I was thrilled to find them at Winco for 95 cents each. Really, it pretty much made my weekend, now that I’m able to remember all of it.

Do you want slip into a mental coma after your weekend too? Here’s how to make chicken pot pie times twelve:

90 oz. frozen peas and carrots
4 ½ cups chopped onion
4 ½ cups chopped mushroom
2 ¼ cups butter or margarine
3 cups flour
4 ½ tsp salt
2 ¼ tsp sage
1 tsp pepper
18 cups water
6 ¾ cups of milk
9 TB chicken bouillon
27 cups cooked, chopped chicken
2 ¼ cups chopped pimiento
2 ¼ cups chopped parsley

Cook onions and mushrooms in butter until tender. Stir in flour, salt, sage and pepper. Add water, milk and bouillon all at once. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Add frozen veggies, chicken, pimiento and parsley. Heat through and transfer to 12 zip top freezer bags. On cooking day, thaw filling, place 1 pie crust in the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan. Place chicken mix in pie dish and top with 2nd crust. Bake in 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until GB and D. (That’s golden brown and delicious for those not infatuated with Alton Brown.)

You will need a super-duper, industrial sized pot to make this whole recipe. If you only have normal sized cookware, just divide this recipe by 9 and it should be enough for one deep dish or two 9 inch pot pies.

Check back tomorrow to read a fascinating post about Pimientos: What Are They and Why do We Need Them in Chicken Pot Pie?

Friday, January 11, 2008


The post-holiday season has a tendancy to be a little of a let down. If I didn't love the sound of rain pattering on the windows so much, I just might find myself getting a little depressed. If I was depressed, this patch of dirt would be the thing to snap me out of it. Because, in a month, this patch of dirt is going to look like this:
Bonus question: How many bees do you see on the crocuses?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Race

Jonah and Isaac were playing so nicely upstairs. I could hear them cheer each other on: "You're winning Isaac, good job!" Jonah said. "Yay!" Isaac exclaimed.

I couldn't take it any longer. I had to witness this cute display of brotherly kindness for myself.

As I walked up stairs I could see Isaac and Jonah cheering at the top of the stairs. I didn't see any hot wheels or nerf balls or anything else that could be used in a race. What were they cheering for?

I'll tell you what they were cheering for. Two streams of spit (a.k.a. saliva) were slowing making their way down the staircase railing. Gravity had favored Isaac's spit which was slightly ahead of Jonah's.

"Is that spit?" I asked, my eyes wide.

Jonah quickly erased the "race" with the sleeve of his shirt and said, "not anymore."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Things I will do to stop thinking about eating the Häagen Dazs Pomegranate Dark Chocolate ice cream bar in my freezer:

Spoiler Alert! I’m about to give away the ending of this blog post, so if you want to be surprised, stop reading right now and skip down to strategic point number 1.

I’m going to eat the Häagen Dazs Pomegranate Dark Chocolate ice cream bar. I’m going to do very little to keep myself from eating it. I’m even going to keep this post short so I can eat the ice cream bar all the sooner. If you are craving a special treat, feel free to stop reading here and just go and eat it. And enjoy it! I’m sure you deserve it.

Strategic Points

1. I will blog about the Häagen Dazs Pomegranate Dark Chocolate ice cream bar. This will keep me from eating the ice cream bar for approximately 7 minutes.

2. Come up with a complicated strategy to avoid eating the Häagen Dazs Pomegranate Dark Chocolate ice cream bar.

3. Don’t look out the window and watch the rain, stop thinking about how dark and dismal the day is. Don’t think about curling up on the couch with a good book, a blanket and the Häagen Dazs Pomegranate Dark Chocolate ice cream bar.

4. Eat the Häagen Dazs Pomegranate Dark Chocolate ice cream bar to remove temptation.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Missing Gene

I realize this is going to be a huge cop out, like when someone says, "I can't help it," or "it's the kids fault," or "it's just the way I am." Listen up! We all find a way to do the things that are important to us no matter what kind of outside influences come into play, so with that in mind, rather than saying, "I just don't have the card-writing gene," I will say this:

"I just don't have the gene that assigns proper importance and/or urgency to writing and sending cards."

It's completely true and while I realize there is probably a 12 step program out there to help me overcome this genetic disability, I also seem to be missing the gene that makes me feel that a 12 step card writing program would be a good thing to be a part of.

Of course I apologize to all who have to wait by as special events come and go without a glittery Hallmark with my name on it showing up in the mail. I know there are many of you (your names and special occasions are currently haunting me like irritated little ghosts) and I realize that my excuse, even in its reworded form is still lame.

This is how the card writing process goes for me.

If you are lucky, I think of your event a few weeks before it occurs. I realize at this point that I have plenty of time to craft the perfect greeting on a card, find your address, find a stamp, and put it in the mail box. At this point I also realize that I should probably write the event on the calendar as a reminder. I'll be honest and tell you that the calendar reminder usually gets written about 30% of the time.

Yes, I know. I could spend 5 minutes and write out all the special events on the calendar at the BEGINNING of the year. Please don't ask me why I don't do this. That would cause me to have to admit something, 12-step style.

Moving on. Two days before your special event I tell myself, "Oh! Today is the day to write and send the card. (I know what you're thinking and I actually do have cards. I bought a huge box of all-occasion cards at Costco a year ago, thank you very much, and I still have plenty left!) I tell myself that I will get right down to business with the card writing right after I have my raisin bran and quickly change over the laundry...oh, and make my bed too. And the kids beds while I'm at it. And isn't it about time I took a shower? Once in the shower, the hot water pretty much resets my brain and I've completely forgotten about your special event and the thoughtful card that would go with it.

One day before your special event, I look at the calendar and realize that, Holy Cow! I was supposed to write that card yesterday. I realize that now there is absolutely no way the card will get to you on time. I realize that there is hardly any reason for me to embarrass myself by sending a late card, but...BUT...a little voice in my brain reminds me that it's the thought that counts and a card that is one day late will still be appreciated. So, I tell myself there is absolutely no way I'm going to forget to write that card today for crying out loud!

The day of your special event, there is much sorrow and self-loathing as I realize that yet again, I have not written a card. How hard can it be to write a card, I ask myself. I didn't do the card, but I can call! Yes, that is it! I will call. A phone call will be MUCH better than a card, maybe. I just have to find your phone number, after I have my raisin bran...

So you see, my card writing method clearly has some major weaknesses. I know that some of you out there are fabulous card writers. I know because I always receive your cards on my special occasions. Your on-time and even early cards sometimes remind me of my glaring deficiencies in the card writing department, but I try and push those feelings aside to enjoy the mirth with which I'm sure your card was intended.

Now, if you've made it this far into my jibber jabber, I will fill you in on my latest missed special occasion, and it's a big one. My Grandma and Grandpa McDonald are celebrating their 70th anniversary today. 70th!! That's a very special occasion. Evidently it's also my Grandma Atwood's 94th birthday. Now I'm getting information in that it's also Grandpa McDonald's 92nd birthday. It's the TRIFECTA! I've officially become the world's worst card sender AND granddaughter in one fell swoop.

I give everyone permission to not send me cards for a year as punishment. I'm serious...don't send me cards.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Post of Procrastination

It's cold and dark and wet today. I have several other things I could and should be doing, so naturally, I feel like procrastinating.

One of the things I should be doing is undecorating the Christmas Tree. This is the longest I've gone with a decorated tree post-Christmas. One year we took the tree down the day after Christmas, but that had more to do with the fact that the tree stand had been leaking water for 3 weeks and had completely ruined our floor.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not getting sentimental for the tree. Although it sure is pretty when the lights are on. The main reason the tree has not been taken down is that I'm lazy. Removing the ornaments and taking the tree down would require me to make a trip to the garage and bring in that big, awkward, dusty bin labeled "Christmas Decorations." I would have to remove all the little boxes and then repack them again in puzzle-like fashion so that everything fits just right. I simply don't want to do it.

Instead of taking the tree down or working on dinner or even working on the Relief Society lesson I will be teaching this Sunday, I'm going to blog about the books I read over the holidays. The break is not over and there still might be another book I will read, but I just can't justify massive amounts of time spent reading when I have a tree to take down and a lesson to plan.

Tamar, Mal Peet--Even though I figured out one of the twists at the beginning of the book, this was still a really great read, and that is something considering I don't normally like books that have Nazis in them.

Looking for Alaska, John Green--I finished this last night, didn't think I would love it because I didn't love Abundance of Katherines, but it turns out, I liked this one much better. By the way, this video is partly what made me want to give "Alaska" a shot after not liking "Katherines." I thought it was kind of funny, especially that part about Beowulf.

One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies, Sonya Sones--Since the mother is already dead when the story begins, I didn't find this overly sappy or sentimental at all. Similar plot to Beige.

Bloom, Elizabeth Scott--Fine teen read, not really anything I would have ever related with as a teen myself.

A Crooked Kind of Perfect, Linda Urban--Quite hilarious and even touching. Best use of a Perfectone D-60 organ in any book I've ever read.

Hard Love, Ellen Wittlinger--Quick read, very enjoyable, sad, but in a good way.

Beige, Cecil Castellucci--OK, but too punk rocky for me and since I'd already read the Dead Mother book, it wasn't too much of a surprise. And I found out that Cecil is female, which I didn't know before.

Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Lisa Yee--This actually made me a little depressed. It frustrated me that the main character had so few social skills and was unable to read social situations, but I think the author was going for humor, so I shouldn't feel too bad. Really, a cute book.

Fever, 1793, Laurie Halse Anderson--Enjoyed this because I'd previously read a non-fiction about the Yellow Fever outbreak in Philadelphia in 1793. I don't know if I would have enjoyed it as much with out that background. I would have found it too depressing.

The New Policeman, Kate Thompson--Very Irish with no apologies, but there is a glossary. Good story, kind of confusing for a very long time though. It all comes together in the end.

The Name of This Book is Secret, Pseudonymous Bosch--Great story, exciting, clever set up and narrative voice (good on the reverse psychology) but was kind of bugged when the ending made it very clear a sequel was coming. Sometimes I just want the story to be over.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ode to Red

You’ve been a good fish Red. You never once complained about your breakfast, but ate it all up like you hadn’t eaten for 24 hours. You kept your fish house clean and never swam around with “organic matter” hanging out of your back end. (Big thank you for that!) You never got in my way in the kitchen, even when I spent all day cooking for the big family get together. You didn’t even mind when I piled up all the ingredients for baked beans right next to your tank. Most of all, thank you for never puffing up at me, which I’m told you do to people you don’t like. I think I can say with confidence, we have become friends.

(We have been fish-sitting for the last 2 weeks and will send “Red” back to his family in a day or two.)