30 September 2006

Stylin' Sleepware

If matching Halloween pajamas isn't cool enough, these GLOW IN THE DARK! Many snaps to Lady Epiphany for the ultimate holiday pjs and extra snaps to Alec for asking if the "No Memory Card" message blinking on my camera's display was important...

29 September 2006


Five years ago, I left my first "real" job in search of something different. The job had changed and I had changed and we were no longer the right fit for each other. Leaving was a hard decision to make but the right one. As a parting gift, my friends there gave me an amazing scotch whisky, a 1981 bottle of Blackadder Raw Cask. We cracked it open at a party just after I left and each time I've had a bit since, I think of them and all the fun we had over the years.

In leaving, I found a lot of things I was looking for and some things I never knew I wanted. It's taken me all of five years and several job bounces but I'm finally in the place I think I was hoping to find. I will always miss working with my friends. I like my coworkers now but they're not like family and I doubt they ever will be. I will always miss the fabulous collaborative spirit with which our team worked - my work now is done mainly on my own, a blessing and a curse. I will never miss the hours spent in my car, inching along the highway hoping for some sort of disaster that would disintegrate every vehicle on the road except for my own (I do miss stuck-in-traffic calls with Kara, though, and have had to suppress the urge to drive into rush now and again just to have the old excuse to phone...).

I've been contemplating the last bit of the Blackadder for several months now. It didn't seem right to finish the bottle without some sort of ceremony and none of the presenting occasions seemed suitable so the bottle has remained on our shelf, quietly biding. Next week, I will go in to my old place of work for the first time since I left. I haven't been avoiding the place but it's quite out of my way and there hasn't been any reason to go until now. So here I sit, with the last bit of Blackadder poured and marvelous tendrils of rich aroma wafting up to my nose from the desk. I'm going to reflect on the last five years as I enjoy the last drink, closing out an era. I wonder what the next such gift will mark in my life?

25 September 2006

Girl's Night In

Last time I got to spend a night in NYC, I had five of my favorite friends along. We stayed in multi-room corner suites with astonishing views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower New York Bay. After some fabulous shopping, we dressed to the nines and rode to dinner in an elegant, new model stretch limosine. Heaven!

Back in the city again, I find myself alone and in less resplendant (although still very nice) digs, with a view of the other side of 28th Street. I did squeeze in some shopping, although I doubt the memory of purchasing a lint brush will make me smile as often as remembering when I found the totally cute pleated skirt. I've just completed my in-room "spa" service (Clinique skin calming moisture mask) and decadant nosh (Chips Ahoy & milk, bought in duane reade with the lint roller) and am now off to see about a bit of sleep since I can't seem to concentrate on the product information I'm supposed to be learning. Do you think people asking hard questions about the product will be as distracted by cookies as I seem to be? Perhaps I should get another box...

24 September 2006

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

What makes a good Saturday night?

* Friends to share your bucket of cars (favorite car can substitute for favorite yellow bear as thumbsucking friend, if necessary), carton of rocks, and Star Wars ride model with

* Ticklish Ghosts

* Cute baby to play with

What makes a good Sunday Morning?

* Mrs. Lady and Spiderpotatohead

22 September 2006

Hockey Guys

The new skating sessions are underway! The kids are on a club team this time, with "home" and "away" sweaters. While I think Ross and Lars would make good linemates, they are on opposite teams...so, of course, they're after each other every chance they get. Little is white #14; Bug is blue #2:

Lars did manage to score on Ross once today, but he had to work hard to do it!

19 September 2006

Mystery Mint

Lars: Zachary gave me a circle mint, a one what's white, at school today and I liked it really a lot!

Mama: A circle mint like an Altoid?

Lars: Not like an Altoid. It had a HOLE in the middle!

Ross: Ok... (thinking) OK! You had a LIFE SAVER! It was white and flat with a hole and it had words on it, right?

Lars: Yes! A hole! And bumps what were words!

Ross: (with all the satisfaction of a detective who has just sewn up a tough case) That was a LifeSaver. They are good!

Piratey Goodness

All good Dave Barry fans (and The Pirate Brethren) will know that September 19th be International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Best wishes and good fun t' all!

18 September 2006

Relative Directions

Chris will tell you that I navigate the world by shopping malls and it's mostly true. I can generally only tell you which direction is North if I can coordinate in my head where I am with the brass and tile compass inlaid in the foyer floor of my junior high school which, even when I'm trolling around WNY, is pretty darned tough to do. I can sniff out a mall almost anywhere, though, and if I've been to one once, I can tell you where other stuff is relative to it. We lived in our last house for seven years and I could barely get in and out of town (although I could find the hat shop blindfolded). I've done very well with directions around this house because, I think, for all our deer and trees, we're just over a mile from the mall.

So you see, malls are a necessary part of life for me - and not just because they offer many fine ways for me to engage my shopping hobby. Still, I was distressed to learn that someone is mounting a plan to build a strip mall near our library. Who cares that he might put in a Starbucks that might open in time for me to get coffee before the train (the mall one isn't open until 7:30)? It would screw up traffic. It would draw even more people to this end of town, driving at top speed around our badly paved roads in search of a "shortcut". Plus, there's already a dreary strip mall around the corner from the proposed new location - if they want to add shops, they should clean up the one we already have.

Chris bored himself silly at the Township Planning Board meeting tonight (possibly out of a sense of civic duty but probably because he was shocked that I'd oppose a mall), to hear the real story. At the meeting, he was accused of being a reporter, a sycophant, and a mole planted in support of one of the lawyers (an accusation immediately declaimed by the lawyer). Toward the end of the meeting, after everyone else not seated on the plinth or attempting to win favor from those on high had left and it was readily apparent that nothing of substance would actually come out of the meeting, Chris was asked to ring in on the matters at hand...which had come down to the particulars of a Township Zoning Ordinance. Caught a bit off guard, he introduced himself as a concerned resident of the Township and gave a brief summary of his thoughts, which can be roughly translated to, "Since this is the only property in the Township of this Zoning Classification, and there is a proposal out to re-zone this property, it is a waste of all your time to argue over how to rewrite the ordinance of the current Zoning Classification." He did not add, "And my wife, Queen of All, thinks the strip mall idea is ludicrous," which I would have put in on my own behalf if I'd been the one to go to the meeting. Then again, he had that whole flatterer image to keep up...

17 September 2006

Second Grade Speed Dating

The assignment is to write a biography of the person who sits next to you in class. Directions are given in three parts; write a list of interview questions, conduct a telephone interview, construct an article about your classmate that will serve to introduce her to the rest of the class. It's a neat way of getting to know the other kids and a creative way of introducing multi-part research assignments. Here's Ross, having done his list of questions, making the interview call:

She likes karate, art and music, has three siblings and likes to vacation in Florida, Texas, and Mexico. Her favorite food is macaroni. He likes hockey and gym, has one brother, was born on Groundhog Day and likes to eat spinach. From our end of the call, it sounded just like a speed date.

15 September 2006

More on Food

After a day full of dreary rain, the neighborhood kids gathered for a twilight romp session before dinner, yelling through the yards as they ran out the energy they'd not used all day. Nothing would get them into the house for dinner, until Chris thought of broadcasting the menu to the yard. Two quick rings of the cow bell on our porch and "WILD MUSHROOM RISOTTO" boomed through the woods.

A small, blonde head appeared from nowhere. "My favorite wild mushroom risotto? The one what has the rice? And the wild mushrooms?" Lars was in. Ross allowed himself to be herded when I offered to let him set the table with good china. My kids are weird but wonderful and dinner was fabulous.


Burns in our house are treats, not tragedies. Burns, as applied here, mean food that's been cooked just a little too long. Carmelized bits of lemony garlic from the bottom of a roasting pan, crisped edges of cookies, golden cheese on oven toast. Burns are sought after and relished most by Lars, who will offer up great behavior on the hope of an overdone cookie. Clearly, he is related to my mother who taught me to automatically add ten minutes to cookie baking times and who owns a toaster oven just so she can finish off brownies right before eating them.

13 September 2006

Ankle week

At the end of June, Ross had a funky rash on one leg. As we were bound for a week on the left coast, we got him in to the doc right away in case he had something horrible that would prevent him (or us) from having a good time on vacation. The doctor examined the leg with interest but came up blank on what it might be. We were told to watch it for a few days and bring him back in if it spread or just wouldn't go away. When I said we were getting on a plane the next day, we got a tube of antiviral cream and told to keep all the spots covered. Armed with a box of band-aids and the cream, we took off. I made Ross wear pants to fly, as I worried they'd keep him off the plane fearing contagion if they saw 23 band-aids all over his legs. By the time we got to the hotel that night, we were up to 34. Ack! We found a drug store and stocked up on large bandaids for mass coverage and gauze & tape for the night. Even though it didn't seem to make a difference at all, we creamed and covered with vigilance and waited for his legs to recover or fall off. Nothing happened for days...and then he scabbed breifly and then it was over. Weird.

Last weekend, I told Ross a few too many times not to scratch himself THERE in public and finally wrangled him into a bathroom to see what was really up. Bug bites, two, on his upper thigh - poor kid! I borrowed some anti-itch and no more was said.

Tonight, Chris called me upstairs while he was herding the kids through their showers and pointed at Ross' ankle, which was blistered in a funny line. Not bug bites. The evil rash! All over his legs! AGAIN! ugh. And then, Chris said something about poison ivy and I realized I don't know what a poison ivy rash looks like - I don't get one. So, I Googled "poison ivy rash" and there it was, Ross' rash, all over the web. Duh!

11 September 2006


I know his foot is in a shoe and mine is not...but he's five.

10 September 2006

Logical Succession

As we were compelled to empty the basement for the waterproofing work, it seemed a good time to take stock of what was actually down there and possibly cull the herd a bit. Lady Epiphany & family helped out immensely by getting their township to host a town-wide yard sale, so we filtered items into three piles, scrap, keep, and hope-to-sell (hts). Scrap and hts seemed to be the biggest piles, so there's a bit of a chance we'll actually have some elbow room in the basement even after we can move things back in. We dragged the hts pile over to the next town and enjoyed modest success at the yard sale Saturday, coming home with a bit of cash even after substantial investments in beer and coffee.

Things I've determined are necessary for a good yard sale:

1. Friends. Having a yard sale on your own is just not as much fun.
2. Beer. Having a yard sale without is just silly.
3. Firemen. Isn't everything better with firemen around?

Things every yard sale should have but which will never sell:

1. A lawnmower for $1. It even works - the price was clearly too low.
2. A Nordic Trak. Nobody wants such a heavy drycleaning stand.
3. An overpriced antique doll's high chair. It annoys pesky neighbors.

On Sunday, we celebrated Lauren's fourth birthday with the all-for-nothing end bit of the yard sale (still no takers for the lawnmower or Nordic Trak), a lot of coffee, some beer, some family, some friends, good food, a load of presents (good thing a bunch of toys sold off at the yard sale!), and ice-cream cake. The kids all ran themselves silly and fell asleep as soon as we got them near their beds (well, mine did, at least). In all, a great weekend!

09 September 2006

Door Number Two

Our basement, before full-scale waterproofing, which will save the footings of our house from becoming completely waterlogged and collasping on us all. It doesn't look so bad, does it? I mean, the house is 86 years old and the spidery 'Christmas tree cracks' with water coming right in through the wall is only in a couple of corners...:

The work crew was fantastic! Each man was polite, well mannered, good humored, professional and efficient. When they arrived, each man introduced himself to us by name, offering his position if he had a distinct one or pointing out the man in charge. In the days they were here, there wasn't a moment when we didn't know exactly what they were doing, as they took care to review the process before starting a new bit and to ask us questions or let us know along the way if the plan changed. They were mindful of the kids and would hold the work or make a clear, safe path whenever any of us wanted to come into the work area for a peek. Despite the fact that we showed them our bathroom and offered open invitation to use it as necessary, they knocked and asked each time before coming into the living part of the house. If they worked in an area, they left it neat as a pin when they were done with anything they'd displaced put back and cleaned. As they were heading to the trucks to leave, one man was sweeping our front walk as he went. The others were good naturedly teasing him - he's apparently the lead neat-freak - but they all pitch in. Clearly the best work crew we've ever had!

During the Work:

After (so far - it'll be 30-45 days before the installation cures and we can paint):

...Somewhere, Monty Hall is visibly disappointed that I got a basement drainage system, complete with two sump pumps and a zillion little base-filled holes to force acidic water out of the foundation walls instead of the Beautiful New Kitchen behind Curtain Number Three.

08 September 2006

The Peanut Note

Day 2 brought the first 'peanuts kill' note, this year in duplicate (one from each kid). Also, this tidbit:

Mama: So, Little, did your teacher read a story to your class today?

Lars: Yes! She read us the BIGGEST BOOK EVER! It was SO HUGE!

Mama: Really? Cool! What was it called?

Lars: "Peanut Butter & Jelly"

Mama: Oh? I didn't think that one would be allowed...

Lars: Mama, it's JUST a BOOK. Not a real peanut. Just a book. So, it's ok - we didn't have to wash.

07 September 2006

First Day of School, '06 - '07

Ross, ready for the morning bus to second grade; Lars, ready much too early for the afternoon bus to kindergarten:

Finally! Lars and our neighbor waiting for the afternoon bus (neighbor's little sister attending):

At last! Lars boarding his very first school bus:
Ross and Lars have the same bus coming home:

Street gang (aptly titled, "Future Prom Dates" by the fathers and "Future Prom Disaster" by all the mothers...)

06 September 2006

Mid-day hooray

Bibliofilly's coming over for lunch! At least I think that's what she said. It's hard to have a phone call with three power hammers going in the house...

Update, 9pm: It's been my habit to serve something wacky for lunch when Bibliofilly comes over. I'm not sure quite why it got started but it's fun and so, when I have time to plan, I'll make something adventurous. Her welcome call today ("save me!") came in the midst of great goings on here - it's the first day of school and we're having major excavation work in the basement - so, while I've been missing her, I haven't been sitting around dreaming up menus. When she arrived, we cracked open some beer and looked in the cupboard. Lo and behold, a perfect solution was just waiting! My mom went to Japan this year and sent us a packet of Japanese noodles and sauce, the package of which is decorated with cherry trees in full blossom. Chris and I have been meaning to try them but hadn't yet, so there they sat, a perfect adventure dish!

Pink noodles! Instructions entirely written in Japanese...

We made some educated guesses about how one might prepare the dish:

We applied the sauce directly to the noodles:

First tastes were tentative, but everyone enjoyed the meal! We decided couldn't pinpoint the flavors in the sauce, but speculated it was miso based; it didn't taste quite like a straight soy sauce. We also thought there might be something sea-related...not fish, exactly, possibly seaweed? I've saved the wrapper and will ask my mom's Japanese penpal, who will visit us in October, to translate so we'll know what we ate. :)

"Mama, take a picture of my Big Silly Face."

03 September 2006

Digging for Dinos

After four days of rainy weather, today dawned bright and mild and we got the kids outside right after breakfast. It's too wet to play in the woods, so they're paleontologists, excavating on the wilds of our deck. Lars is unearthing a sabre-toothed tiger and Ross is working on digging out a velociraptor. Their banter is a mix of jargon from adventure stories - they are making "very important discoveries" and finding things "previously unknown to man" - it's hard for me not to giggle but they're so grave and serious about their work that it would be really rude of me.Later, we'll take a pile of things for a garage sale over to Lady Epiphany's (in preparation for having our basement dug up next week) and will celebrate the good weather by grilling. I'm off to load cars, make cookies, and see the next Very Important Discovery which, I'm just told, is the Lower Jaw of An Ancient Creature!

02 September 2006

Peaches, Plans, and Good Teacher Vibes

One of our neighbors went peach picking and gifted us a large bag of peaches today! If the rain ever lets up and the humidity gets reasonable, I'll turn a bunch of them into peach pie. If not, I may take Ging's lead and take a stab at canning.

Ross has started making his own plans with his friends. It's amusing and heartbreaking at once; they frequently wind up spending an hour or two in their own houses, each waiting for the other to appear at the door. I know he's a boy, but I fervently hope he'll get better at making and executing plans!

The new head of our PTO, a neighbor who had no idea what she was getting into when she agreed to run for the position, says the teacher Ross has been assigned for second grade is the teacher most requested by parents. She is apparently dynamic and quite well respected by students and parents alike. I will be SO thankful if this year goes well - heaven knows I won't live through another school year like the last one...

01 September 2006


We've been reading a wonderful dragon tale at bedtime this year, the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini. The story is filled with Dragons, magic, heroism, wonder, bravery, all the good stuff. Book 1, Eragon, was fantastic, so now we're on Book 2, Eldest.

Last night, a village in a remote part of the land was in trouble. Serious trouble, the sort it looked like they would not be able to handle on their own. Ross leapt to the edge of his bed, eyes wide, exclaiming, "They should get the Varden (resistance force - good guys)! Or call the Dragon Rider (hero)!"

As the story goes, the resistance force lives in a secret location - very few people outside of the force actually know where they are. Also, even if someone in the town knew where they were, the secret location is weeks away by horse and foot. The hero is, for the most part, still unknown to the kingdom at large and again, even if someone did know about him, his location is fairly random and unknown. When I pointed these facts out, Ross said in his best I'm-being-very-patient tone, "The dragon can fly there faster and it doesn't matter where the Dragon Rider
is - they should just call him on his cell phone."


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