Thursday, December 22, 2011

Guest post in which Amy considers Christmas...

"The 12 Days of Christmas", I think, really beautifully illustrates
the escalating panic, uncertainty, and throw-money-at-it
problem-solving of the Christmas shopping season. It begins with a
whimsical, tasteful and thoughtful gift: a pear tree is beautiful
*and* practical, one partridge in it would be pretty, and possibly a
good meal. He probably ordered it online weeks ahead of time, and got
a good deal on it. Then it's like:

"Well, she seemed to like the bird thing, I'll stick with that: turtle
doves! aww, adorable! hens! sure!...  dunno, swans???

"...hmmmm. Maybe the birds are getting old. Yes! FIVE GOLDEN RINGS,

Oh shit, there's a whole nother week??

"Jesus, I dunno, maybe like, a whole crap-ton of birds? No? OK, the
bird thing is definitely tired. I'll just go down to the
mall/marketplace and see if I see anything that looks good...dang,
those milkmaids look good...holy crap, there's still 4 days left!! OK,
you know what? What the fuck ever, it's only money--drummers! dancers!
pipers! lords!"

Pass the grog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Not the Market Basket!

Longtime readers know that when I need to grocery shop, I usually force myself to endure the very special kind of hell which is known as the Market Basket. It is huge and unwieldy and is a favorite shopping destination among both the slow moving elderly and narcissists who like to park their carriage in the middle of the aisle while they decide which brand of salt to buy.

Today I needed to pick up a few items, but as luck would have it I was nowhere near the Market Basket and so I entered the equally hideous, yet far more expensive Shaws.

At first glance Shaws seems like your average grocery store. The milk is where you would expect it to be. The meats are along the back wall. It's in the frozen food section where things get a little weird.

This one I can understand. I like pies too.

  Hmmmm. I guess I like novelties, though I'm not sure that the exclamation point is really called for.

"Potatoes!" Really? An exclamation point for frozen potatoes? Might we be abusing the very notion of the exclamation point?

There is no need for this sort of punctuation for frozen vegetables. This is just false advertising.

I really do not know what to make of this. Yes, it's exciting that you have some frozen kosher offerings, but let's be honest- it's not that exciting.

What the hell is this?

Shouldn't Hispanic be capitalized? Is Hispanic even a real food group? Doesn't this just seem rude somehow? Unless you are actually selling frozen Hispanics, I really think that this sign is misleading.

Is this sort of thing limited to this one Shaws? Does your store sell frozen Hispanics too?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Conversation in which all involved behave exactly as one would predict...

The Scene: Toyota Sienna Minivan driving down the highway at night

I say to Rebecca, "I was thinking that you should read The Metamorphosis. It's a real cool book about a guy who wakes up to find he's a dung beetle."

Rebecca, "Does he turn back human in the end."

Me, "No..."

Rebecca, "Does he make new friends?"

Me, "No..."

Rebecca, "I think I'll pass."

Lily, "It sounds great! I love beetles!"

Kafka would have approved of the entire conversation I think.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nutcracker and Gingerbread...

Well, I very predictably failed in my attempt to blog daily. Maybe it's that I've been busy, or maybe it's because no one gives me chocolate covered cherries every time I manage to post. Either way, mea culpa.

One honest to goodness real life excuse I have is that this weekend was the big Nutcracker weekend for the girls and David. Why yes, my husband did perform in this years Nutcracker extravaganza. He was able to realize a long held dream of playing the role of the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer. Usually this role is played by a teenage girl and naturally the existing costume simply Would Not Do.

Since there are few things my husband enjoys more than wearing a cape, top hat, and eye patch, he rented a proper Drosselmeyer costume. What more could a humble Jewish boy from New Jersey want in life?

Quite dashing don't you think?

The Nutcracker marks the true beginning of the Christmas in our house and so I purchased some giant gingerbread men for the children which they happily decorated. Decorating the cookies gave us an opportunity to use up some of the left over Halloween candy which seems to never end. Some years it lasts until Easter and I refuse to pack Halloween candy.

A good use of candy I think. You can see that Rebecca's gingerbread girl has suffered a leg trauma. She's still smiling though because she's a professional. No whining about her leg being eaten- now that's what I call class.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In which I post again, possibly about nothing, but maybe gorillas.

Today a miracle happened. It was the miracle of being caught up on the laundry. There should be a special name for that sort of an event. Laundrymas or maybe laundvictory. Either way it hardly matters because my satisfaction was quickly squelched by the arrival of my husband (yay!) with two suitcases of dirty laundry (boo!).

It was lovely while it lasted.

One of the things I have been doing this week is making a list of things which we must do before we move. December is feeling like one long goodbye being chipped away in small icy stabs. Each farewell, each "last time" is another gouge in my heart.

We've had such a good life here. I'm sure we'll have a good life there. And yet the goodbyes keep coming.

Tomorrow we are doing one of the most important things on that list. We are going to say goodbye to our gorillas.  The real treat for me tomorrow is that Amy is coming with us to see the gorillas. She's heard me talk about the gorillas and seen pictures of the gorillas, but she's never become one with the gorillas. Tomorrow is her day with the gorillas. I'm sure it will be magical.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Extremely Abbreviated Update which is actually quite long...

The problem with disappearing from your blog for a while is that when you come back there's the sense of having to explain the absence and quite honestly, all of that explaining is too boring to even contemplate so I will give you an Extremely Abbreviated Update.

  1. Rented a house in Potomac, MD.
  2. Hosted a farewell Oneg service at our temple. 
    1. Wept like mad when the rabbi said nice things about our family.
  3. Threw ourselves a huge farewell bash. 
    1. Danced like mad.
    2. Wept like mad in Amy's arms.
  4.  Went to Cape Cod for Thanksgiving.
    1. Due to some overzealous turkey preparations dinner was ready at noon. 
    2. This led to turkey leftovers for actual dinner. FTW!
  5. Went to the beach and allowed children and dogs to frolic on the sand.
    1. Lily's frolicking may have involved getting very wet and required an impromptu clothes change in the car.
  6. Emptied out much of the basement so that my lovely neighbors could avail themselves of our stuff.
    1. Force myself not to weep like mad when the small kids table is carried away by sweet family down the street.
  7. Junked like mad with Amy. 
    1. Did not weep. 
    2. Ate nachos.
  8. Miscellaneous housewife nonsense which includes, but is no way limited to:
    1. laundry
    2. cooking
    3. cleaning
    4. watching Law and Order
    5. playing games on my iphone
    6. beating my husband at scrabble
    7. reading detective novels
    8. teaching the children
    9. driving the children all over town
This week I have also been Christmas shopping.

Lily's list is a pantheon of disgusting desires. She wants the zombie cooking toy that makes candy that looks like viscera and is served out of a skull. Additionally, she wants the toy that makes rubber bugs and a scar and wound special effects kit. Today she asked for a t-shirt that says, "I'm with Stupid", but honestly, I must draw the line somewhere.

Rebecca's requests are far more dignified. A book about gnomes and some art supplies are near the top of her list, as well as a gift card to Forever 21. What kind of a kid is Rebecca? When we went to the mall she went to Bath and Body Works and bought lip gloss and socks. Socks. Add a murder mystery novel and a cup of coffee and she is me.

This week I dragged at the Christmas stuff out of the basement to decorate the house. With the move looming in the near distance I didn't really want to go whole hog, but the children wailed at that notion so I decided to let them decorate with the caveat that I could "edit" afterwards. Not a decoration was spared. The downstairs is extremely festive. Seriously festive. Like Christmas exploded festive. I left most of it, because well, why the hell not.

 So, I think we are all caught up. I am going to try to blog daily.  I appreciate your indulgence and apologize in advance for my inevitable failure.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Twenty houses...

Well, we've been here in Chevy Chase, MD for about three days. In those days we have been in two states and one district.

Our first day here was full of excitement and thrills! The birth of a new life! Possibilities abounded!

We started by driving through Maryland, up towards Gaithersburg. There we giddily stopped at a house with a "For Rent" sign hanging on the lawn. As we got out of the car a small herd of deer paused from nibbling the grass to look up at us. It was as if the angels of house hunting had chosen that moment to smile down upon us and lift any worry away from our troubled souls. When the realtor arrived however, we were met with an unwelcome shock. The house simply would not do. It had not been updated since 1967. Wood paneling, harvest gold bathrooms, and a tiny kitchen were ice water in the face of our drunken joy. The deer mocked us and the angels looked upon us with pitying disdain.

Dejectedly we drove away. The rest of the day was spent touring Maryland, listening to the whining of children, and the complaints of commuting from my husband. I on the other hand was as delightful as always.

By the time night fell we collapsed back at the hotel and ordered room service, hopeful that the next day would bring us closer to our new home.

Saturday morning we woke up refreshed and ready for new adventures. We drove out to Great Falls, Virginia to see my pals Jenny and Matt and to see some properties in their area. Our visit with our old friends and their lovely children was fantastic. How is it that none of us have aged at all in fifteen years? We are amazing creatures I tell you.

Saturday afternoon brought us through nine houses. One of them was simply amazing. Huge, beautifully decorated, and landscaped with a pool. It was perfect in every way, except that it was about $500 over our maximum budgeted price. We walked around the house feeling like country bumpkins, pathetic hayseeds stunned that a house could possess five bathrooms. The house was really too much for us. Ultimately we walked away from it. It would make us feel inferior- miserable that my junk store finds which looked so cozy in my small house would look like trash in this elegant home.

We saw one other house which I quite loved. It was roomy enough for our family and friends without feeling too fussy for us. On the way home from Virginia I couldn't help but worry about the commute for David. Even on a Saturday afternoon the traffic was heavy, and seemed like another invitation for misery.

Sunday morning dawned with no vim or vigor. We felt exhausted, defeated, and more than a little cranky. The mood of the children ranged from to grumbling surliness to outright hostility. We saw many houses, none of which were quite right. In fact we were about to quit, to drive away and drown our sorrows in room service when we received a call from a craigslist posting and decided to try one last house. As we approached the neighborhood we started to perk up. Hmmmm. This neighborhood is nice! It must be completely out of our price range we thought.

"Don't get your hopes up!" we all warned each other. "It's probably too expensive for us."

People, we walked in and found a really great house. Not perfect in every way, mind you. There were no angels or talking pugs guiding our way, but it is a pretty great house. As David and I wandered the house we heard squeals of laughter coming from the backyard. There we saw the children playing with a neighbor child on the tree swing.

We are submitting an application to rent it. It's a little more than we budgeted for, but the short commute and great house make it worth it. Keep your fingers crossed for us dear internet, because if we have to start looking for houses again I'm pretty sure we'll need family counseling.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On our way...

My bags are packed. The house sitter is on route. The dogs are unaware.

Tomorrow the girls and I are headed down to DC to begin exploring the area. We need to find a great area to live, a dance studio, a horse farm, a synagogue, a junk store, a place that has great cheeseburgers, and a dog park.

Luckily we already know that DC has some gorillas. The girls and I plan to make the acquaintance of the National Zoo gorillas at our earliest convenience. I wonder if they will be able to tell that the girls and I are gorilla people. Will they know that we have spent hours staring through the glass into the eyes of their nearly human brothers and sisters?

These are the things we need to sort out.

One of the highlights of our trip will be visiting my best friends from college, Jenny and Matt. When we were in college, people didn't have email. Or cell phones. I was still a cat person.

The world is a very different place and yet, there they are- those two crazy kids who fell head over heels for each other, who traveled the world, had three kids and are traveling the world again. I can't wait to see them.

So there you go. That is the extent of the excitement in my life. No dead birds, insects, or rodents. No barf, animal or otherwise, just a civilized trip to visit the birth of our new life.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My psyche, snow, and Target...

Those of you who are in New England, live on the east coast, or have any sort of exposure to the media are probably aware of our crazy Snowtober storm. Yes, that's right, we were treated to some heavy rain followed by even heavier snow and wind. This lead to the inevitable power outage. It was exciting to lay in bed Saturday night and listen to the branches and trees creaking and breaking. By morning my street looked like a it had been hit by a tornado. Power lines were down and trees were blown across the road.  We lost a huge limb out back, but it caused no damage.

We did lose power for about 12 hours. You know what I do when I lose power? I wander around Target for a few hours to stock up on batteries and flashlights and somehow end up with extra Halloween candy and some cute tops which needed a good home. It was the only way to comfort my battered psyche.

The 12 hours without power really stressed me out. I realized that the fatigue of managing the move and the reality of leaving my town (and most especially Amy) have me just barely keeping my head above water. Losing power and having the additional worries of staying warm and keeping the food from spoiling were more than I could manage.

Once the power came back on I felt such relief. It was so nice to return to my regular worries which felt like old, though annoying friends. A power outage on the other hand, is nothing but a thug.

Happily our town did not postpone Halloween and my children were able to collect plenty of candy for me to steal from them when they are not paying attention. Tramping around in the cold seems to have given everyone colds, so today I was back at Target to return the unopened extra bags of Halloween candy and the surplus lanterns so that I could purchase mucinex and tissues.

This my friends, is the thrill of middle age. What adventures will we have next?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The October that wasn't...

October. Dear sweet October. He used to be my favorite month you know. I pined for him all year long, waiting for his cool smoky breezes to blow through my hair, for his leaves to crunch seductively under my shoes. This year October has been the guy at the high school reunion that you couldn't wait to see again after all those years only to find out he's a twice divorced insurance agent with a comb-over. Where there should be sun, this version of October is rain- whiny, miserable rain.

I blame the rain and overall dreariness on my memory lapse today. This afternoon Lily has dance for three hours and Rebecca has Hebrew school for two, so I had planned on running a bunch of errands. However, it was so rainy out that I decided to stay home and paint gnomes for an upcoming craft fair. I blissfully painted gnomes and fairy mushrooms for two hours before I remembered that Rebecca was supposed to be at Hebrew School and not in her room doing a puzzle.

It's fitting that I chose this pathetic excuse for October to start running again. This time I am actually running outside. In public. In sneakers and everything. I told a friend who loves to run that I had started running and she said, "Isn't it awesome?!"

No. It is actually not awesome at all, but merely a necessary activity which must be done to avoid the inevitable weight creep which has accompanied my late thirties.

Our moving plans are continuing. I stalk craigslist and realtor sites looking for the perfect house. I always try to imagine them in some perfect fictional autumn- an autumn in which October lives up to its potential and arrives on my doorstep with a pumpkin spice latte and the leaf-blown-fall-addition of Country Living.

In fact, so much of this move feels like fiction. Getting the house ready occupied so much of my attention, that once it was spoken for I felt exhausted, as if getting the house under agreement was the finish line, when in fact the race has barely begun. The days go on, slipping away. Amy and I chat nervously about a new life in which we are not constantly in each others orbit.  Sigh. We have never needed October more than right now. If you see it, please send it our way.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Updates for those keeping track...

When last we met, I shared the big news of our upcoming move to Washington DC. Since that time we got the house ready to sell and found a buyer. Now I could brag about my mad real estate skills, my awesome staging, and my home fragrance plug-in devices, but I wouldn't be being completely honest with you. In truth, the reason my house sold so quickly is because a very dear friend wanted to buy it. It ended up simply being a matter of deciding on a price and a time frame. I think that I can honestly say that all of the people involved feel very blessed with how it's worked out.

Now that the house is spoken for, I can get on with the business of finding a home to rent in the DC area. We are taking a trip to Chevy Chase in a few weeks where David will be working to look at houses. Our goal is to find something along the metro line so that David can take the train into work every day.  It seems like Maryland may make the most sense for our needs. The girls and I are hoping for an area which is family friendly, home school friendly, wooded and pretty. If any of my readers have suggestions for great towns, I'd love to hear them.

The children spent the week on the Cape with my folks where they were spoiled and loved. I think that the kids found it very relaxing because they got to forget about the fact that we are moving for awhile. They had mani/pedi's with Nana and watched pirate documentaries with Pepere. They had the time of their lives. David and I had the chance to eat out at grown-up restaurants while they were gone. It was heavenly. We also made a big shopping trip to the shopping outlets in Maine so that David could get some work clothes. David has worked from home for many years now, so many in fact that his "work attire" actually more resembled gym clothes on the good days and pajamas on the bad. Now he gets to be Mr. Fancy Pants, a change which I could not support more heartily.

My list of things to do seems to grow every day and yet I am trying to slow down and enjoy these last months here. It's bittersweet in every way. The excitement of moving. The sadness of leaving. It's all there.  I blog in my mind all the time, but am often too tired to get the words here. I'll try to do better. Thanks for sticking with me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Some news...

I haven't been blogging much lately.

There have been things happening.

Good things.

Great things.

Things which required waiting.

I suck at the waiting.

I am happy to say that the waiting is finally over and I can share our good news. David has been offered a really exciting job in the Washington DC area. We will be moving in early January.

Moving is always hard and this move will certainly be no exception. We've come to love our small town outside of Boston. The list of things and people we'll miss seems endless and yet, we are thrilled too. A new house, Washington DC zoos, and museums and some old friends are exciting prospects.

I'm going to try to blog more faithfully, but I am busy getting the house ready to sell and homeschooling the kids. I hope you stick with me!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

This day...

It seems self indulgent to talk about where I was and what I was doing. There are no words for that day. It was real and unreal. It was loud and then quiet. On September days like this one, when the sun is warm and the air is cool, I remember being more scared than I had ever been, and feeling more grief than I ever had.

I spent today with Amy, as I often do, and we skirted around the topic a bit, but never settled in. I think we both chose not to rehash it, not relive every moment of the devastation. Instead I spent the day with the best friend a girl could ask for and came home to a family I love. If nothing else, this day can be a reminder to love freely, hugely, and without reservation. There is always room for love.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Some junking with Amy...

I was all set to tell you a thrilling tale of animal fur removal, utilizing my two prong approach of furminator and vacuum cleaner which is better than my previous method of swearing and duct tape. Instead I will tell you a story called, "Amy and Sara Go Junking".

This afternoon I called Amy and said, "Dude! Let's got to Global Thrift! I'll pick you up in ten minutes!" and she said, "Okay!".

This story is riveting already, isn't it?

When we arrived at the junk store and I immediately went to look at the furniture. There I saw something which even at first glance I knew I must possess. A small red desk. It was only 9.99, so I grabbed it and hauled it up to the register where the manager Mark guarded it with his life.  Meanwhile, Amy spotted a great mid-century dining room table and chairs which she had to furiously contemplate purchasing. She was still dithering about it when we were in the fitting rooms and I finally yelled, "Just get it!" because that's what friends are for.

Just look at this cute desk!

Here it is in its new home on the porch.

For now I put the round red table that was next to the chair into the basement. I also added some more fall decorations on the porch.

It was a day of red at the junk store because I also found these totally awesome boots. Know how much these babies run? $130. Know how much I spent? Less than $10!

Finally, I want to give everyone an update on Rebecca's health. The good news is that she has been fever free for about a week. The bad news is that she still has an ugly cough and sore throat. We went to the doctor yesterday and the new diagnosis is walking pneumonia. Rebecca is on antibiotics for it and we are hopeful that she will finally start feeling better soon. Thanks so much for all of the kind words and thoughts the past month.  I know that we have all really appreciated them!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Who's a good dog?

I was all set to write a post called, "I believe the decomp is my future" set to the tune of Whitney Houston's hit "Greatest Love of All", but then events transpired which made that title Null and Void.

It all started when I saw our cat Stanley peering underneath the piano in a very determined way. There are only two things which will get Stan moving: mice and barking dogs. Since the dogs are too big to hide underneath the piano, I strongly suspected a rodent. I pulled the piano away from the wall to reveal a very cute and plump mouse.

"Go get him, Stan!", I yelled. Stan looked at me confusedly. The mouse, clearly a student of Sun Tsu, took advantage of the distraction to scurry along the wall. I tried to grab him with a dish cloth, but he eluded my grasp and I lost him. This was the moment when I assumed that Stanley would later find him, kill him, and then leave him to rot and smell up the basement.

I started planning my blog post, humming the awful Whitney Houston song, and contemplating how many babies that mouse was likely to give birth to before Stan killed her.

Later this evening after performing many tedious adult tasks, I agreed to play Go Fish with Lily. Puglsey took his spot next to me, but Sophie was missing. It is not like her to miss the opportunity to sit on a deck of cards and wreck competitive havoc. I sent Lily downstairs to make sure that she wasn't on the porch eating her own feces.

That's when I heard Lily shout, "Sophie caught the mouse!"

And indeed Sophie did. The mouse looked well gummed, though not actually eaten. Sophie was praised extravagantly for her deed and will be given extra treats as a reward.

On the subject of the tedious adult tasks which I have been faithfully performing every day instead of killing zombies, watching crime shows, and reading detective novels, I must say that on the one hand, it's nice to stay on top of things and not allow the squalor to snowball into mayhem. On the other hand, it's so freaking boring. Scooping cat poop every day, breaking down the recycling, vacuuming, laundry, and so on. My god. I don't know how I can stand it.

If you are really lucky tomorrow I'll tell you all about my new pet hair elimination strategy, "No Hair Left Behind". I know, the thrills, they do not cease.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


This weekend sailed by in a blur of end-of-summer fun. We saw my folks on the cape, visited with my pal Julian and his family, and then headed up to Maine to spend a few days with the always lovely Amy and her family. We beached and junked and ate and did our nails. The dogs ran in fields and got fleas, but it did not matter because everyone was on the awesome train and it stopped for nothing.

We returned home yesterday and as soon as we stepped in the door I started a full on unpacking and house cleaning blitz. Know why? Because it's September, people! September is the month which holds open the door to my one true love, October. Today I got our school books organized, worked on containing Rebecca's art supplies, and most importantly I decorated for fall.

I started by plugging in my pumpkin scented outlet thingies. Once I was grooving on that awesome fall smell I started hauling my fake gourds from the basement. It was when I started filling this cool garden box with moss that the crazy fall action really took off.

Look at that squirrel! Isn't he cute? I do not know why he is holding a pinecone.

Now I just need to get some pumpkins for my porch, some dried up leaves for the steps, and a pumpkin spice latte.

Blammo people! It's Fall!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The new chair finds a home...

Remember that awesome chair I trash picked a few days ago? I decided to do something radical with it.

I put it on the porch. I know. Hold yourself.

The funny thing about the porch is that before this summer we rarely used it. In spite of being heated, it tends to be cold in the winter and hot in the summer. This summer however, has been uncharacteristically cool and the porch has been the place to be this summer. We tend to all fight over the one comfy chair in the corner of the windows. Lily in particular will disappear for hours on that chair, reading and playing with the dogs.

The other chairs are wicker, which are very pretty, but not super comfortable for a few hours of reading.

We've been talking about experimenting with putting a space heater on the porch this winter so that we can continue our porch love affair. This got me thinking about seating on the porch and I immediately conjured up an image of cozy reading in the new chair. Since Fall is right around the corner I decided to go ahead and bring the wicker chairs to the basement and bring the new chair front and center.

I decided to stack my newly trash picked vintage cooler, as well as some of my tin baskets for visual interest.

When Fall really begins I'll put out some mums, plaid blankets, and pumpkins. Are you thinking about fall? If you are, you'll love this piece about decorative gourd season.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Death, Electricity, Shopping...

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Actually, for me it was the best of times, for Lily it was the most unconcerned of times and for Rebecca it was the saddest of times. What single event could elicit such different reactions? It was the death of our last hermit crab whose name was (I think), Nemo. Nemo was part of a hermit crab dyad which David purchased for the children out of guilt about three years ago. He'd been working and traveling for months and he decided that pleasing the children with hideous pets was better than having me on speaking terms with him.

When he presented the crabs, the children were enthralled. For about ten minutes. I told David that these crabs were not going to be my responsibility because at the time we had four cats and two dogs and I was not to be held responsible for keeping one more animal alive in my house. For the first few years they lived in David's office, but in the last year they made their way into the house, though why this happened is a mystery.

It is benign neglect for which we have to thank for the crabs living as long as they did. We'd feed them, put some water in their tank, but generally they were ignored. Yesterday I realized that it had been a while since I'd heard Nemo plotting his escape so I took a closer look at him. He seemed unresponsive. I tapped him a bit and his claw came off.

My heart lifted! One less animal to maintain! Call me cold hearted, a mammal elitist- I will own these labels. The only thing I won't own are any more hermit crabs.

In other news, our cape trip has been postponed because my folks are still without power on the cape. They are fine otherwise and grateful that they are without power while the weather is warm and the grill is available. Still, I can't help but think that perhaps Santa should leave them a generator under the tree this year at Christmas.

Finally, I caught Lily in that rarest of moods. She wanted to go clothes shopping. Generally she's not much of a shopper, but today after sorting through her fall clothes from last year and realizing that she had outgrown nearly everything she was ready. We had most of our success at The Children's Place where I purchased six shirts and six pairs of pants for $104.00. That's only slightly pricer than the junk store!

Hope everyone is recovering from the hurricane and squeezing some fun out of the last days of August.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Notes from the hurricane...

Today Hurricane Irene arrived, though by the time she got here she was a Tropical Storm. As you know, we were prepared with batteries, ice cream and Doritos and luckily only the ice cream and Doritos were needed. I suffered a minor injury when some cheesy Dorito powder went into my paper cut, but when one considers the dire hurricane predictions, I feel grateful to have come out with only the stinging pan of artificial cheese on bare flesh.

The hurricane gave me the chance to get a few things done which had been nagging at me. One such thing was finalizing and ordering the assorted curricula for the education of my children. I finally decided to go with History Odyssey which I think will be both interesting and a whole lot of fun. I also sent off my Letter of Intent and Educational Plan so that the Education Police will not come and drag my children into school for standardized testing.

Now that those plans are in place we can attempt to enjoy our final week of summer. Poor Rebecca continues to suffer from her Mystery Illness. The only thing that any of the tests showed was low Vitamin D. The theory seems to be that because her Vitamin D is low her body is having a hard time fighting off whatever virus she has. The hope is that by upping her Vitamin D will help her body fight off this stupid virus.

This week the girls and I will visit my folks on the cape. Rebecca can rest with Nana and Aunt Lois while Lily and I go hang with my old pal Julian and his family. Some fried clams, a change of scenery and some sand in our shoes- summer is not ending without a fight!

Friday, August 26, 2011

I am an English boot wearer!

I am too tired for a proper post so I will share this. In the midst of my hurricane preparations I took a few minutes to stop at Global Thrift for a look see. There I found a wonderful pair of brand new boots from Marks and Spenser which is a British store. It has the original price tag which is written in pounds! Pounds I tell you! This will inspire me to swear in the English fashion when I wear them instead of the more traditional American fashion. I will not tell anyone which boots I am wearing, but when they hear me say "sodding!" "bloody!" etc, they will know and envy my clever English boots.

In hurricane news, the Dorito's have been purchased, the phone is charging and we are as ready as we will get. At the risk of being an obvious git (Ha! Tricked you! I am not wearing my boots right now, but they are nearby.) please stay safe!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stroke or Earthquake? hard to say...

Nothing happened today that was very interesting at all but I will try to find something to tell you about anyway. I did some laundry. I scooped the cat box. I reorganized my office.

The biggest focus of the day has been preparing the hurricane box.

I have five bottles of water, five flashlights, many scented candles, a filled propane tank for the grill if we lose power, and enough batteries to run the house for weeks.

Tomorrow I am going to the grocery store to see if there is any food left. Hopefully there will be some Doritos and chocolate chip cookies left because I would hate to be in an emergency situation without the essentials.

I have also taken an informal poll regarding yesterdays earthquake. It seems that anyone over the age of sixty who experiences an earthquake firstly assumes that they are having a stroke. When questioned about it my dad said that he thought he was having a stroke but did not bring it to the attention of Nana, because it is his preferred way of dealing with mysterious medical conditions. Luckily, it turned out to be an earthquake so it is a system which is working out pretty well for him.

That's all I have for you tonight. My cold is making my face itchy and my nose stuffy and my head hurty, and so I will go to bed and look forward to a another day of exciting disaster preparedness tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Good roadside trash...

Today began with Lily crawling into bed with me and refusing to get out. She did not seem sick so much as stubborn and I felt uninspired to argue with her. I brought her a bowl of goldfish crackers and the roku remote and got on with my day.

Rebecca and I had to be at the doctors office at 9:45 for a strep test (negative) and another exam and discussion about Rebecca's Mystery Illness. The plan is to test for a vitamin D deficiency and then to simply wait it out. If after six weeks it has not resolved we'll see a specialist, but all of the test results show a healthy child- who is tired and running a low-grade fever. I have decided not worry about it and this is precisely what I was doing when I spotted some promising looking trash on the curb in Lexington.

You have perhaps heard of Lexington. It featured quite heavily in the Revolutionary War and is now home to many rich people with old houses. There are regular people in Lexington too, but I bet that their trash is not nearly so good to pick through as the rich peoples trash. As I was driving down the road I saw a sweet chair in my favorite color of green apple. I hit the brakes and pulled over so that Rebecca and I could examine the find. Dusty, but very serviceable!

I took it home and pulled the old crumbling foam from the seat cushion. After the slipcover was washed and the cushion seat stuffed it looked very nice indeed. The fabric of the which the slipcover is made is nearly identical to the fabric my mother used to recover a recliner about thirty years ago.

When I returned home with my chair around noon, Lily was still in bed watching TV and she had convinced David to fetch her some chinese food for lunch. Since I have a cold I thought it best that I have a little soup and kill some zombies which is a very therapeutic thing to do when you have a cough and congestion.

I had to go out for a bit in the afternoon and when I got home at 4:15 Lily was still in bed. In fact, she had not even been downstairs all day. I went upstairs to announce to the children that the afternoon had become quite windy, which means only one thing- it is time to play "Teddy Goes Flying!". This game is played by throwing Lily's rakish teddy bear into the wind and seeing where he falls.

There was much joy at the news of the wind and it inspired Lily to get out of her pajamas and into real clothes. Teddy had a grand time being thrown about the yard, though he narrowly escaped becoming stuck on the garage roof. There is no end to the adventure in our family.

The fresh air and bear throwing seemed to revive Lily and she played happily with Lincoln logs for two hours, pausing only to eat some left over pizza and bounce on the new green chair.

Yesterday we had an earthquake, but I felt nothing. I am hoping that Hurricane Irene lives up to the hype. I plan on doing a big shop on Friday. I will purchase batteries, kitty litter, ice cream and stew ingredients. What do you cook when the weather gets bad?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Je suis malade...

Sunday and Monday were all about being a grownup.

Doing stuff. Making it happen. Setting goals and making them realities.

My plan was to continue being a grownup everyday for the rest of my life and so this morning I got up, had some coffee and started the laundry. I came up with some grownup plans for my office nook, but the thought of executing those plans was exhausting. I decided to execute them another day.

Then I started putting the slipcovers on the chairs and sofa and felt very tired. And headachy. And my throat felt scratchy and I realized that my body was forcing me to stop being a grownup and get into bed.

I have been here ever since, popping motrin and cough medicine and killing zombies with plants.

Many of All six of my readers have been wondering about the state of Rebecca's Mystery Illness. This morning the pediatrician called to tell me that all of the results came back normal, even and most especially the one which would have pointed to some of the Big Scary Illnesses like cancer. We go back in to the doctor tomorrow for a strep test, even though it seems unlikely since her sore throat just started. Interestingly, my child has no fear of having blood taken at all. Since the age of three she has happily sat through blood draws like it was a walk in the park. Throat cultures on the other hand leave her shaking like jelly. Luckily our appointment is in the morning so she won't be worrying about it all day.

Lastly, I dreamt that it was Christmas eve and I had forgotten to buy a Christmas tree. I also dreamt about cutting my hair.

Now you know everything.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Not hacked to bits, but crazy none the less...

It turns out that being a grownup is exhausting. It requires far more energy to sweep stairs and clean the attic than it does to solve murders via Law and Order reruns and as such, I am both smelly and tired.

Remember that huge crap purge I did this spring? Let me tell you, it made a huge difference in cleaning up the basement (yesterday) and the attic (today). The attic only took about an hour since all that was really required was for me to put the luggage away properly and put away four bins worth of dress up clothes. I was quite pleased with myself, so pleased in fact that I had ice cream for lunch.

My most ridiculous project by far is my latest round of slipcover dyeing. I have finally found a Rit Dye recipe with which I am happy (1 package of scarlet, 1 package of wine) and have proceeded to buy out the local craft shops of these colors. This has required much driving around. This is the sort of project which cannot be accomplished without much swearing, not because it is particularly difficult (it requires almost no skill), but because the timing is critical.

The dye must be poured into the washer and allowed to agitate. Only after it has agitated a few minutes can the (already wet) slipcover be put in. Then the washer must be allowed to agitate vigorously. My washer only allows for a 15 minute agitation cycle which means that I must not become distracted by Plants vs. Zombies and forget to pause the cycle and allow the whole mess to steep like my mothers tea. (If you knew my mother you would understand this reference. Like a good woman of French Canadian lineage she makes her first cup of tea when she wakes up and allows it to steep for hours before she finally drinking it after reheating it in the microwave. I promise that right now somewhere in my mothers house, tea is steeping.) The longer the steeping, the better the color. Inevitably I become distracted by a dog, an email or my important job of killing zombies with plants and then I jump up, swear loudly and run down the basement steps to fling open the washer so that I am not a complete fabric dye failure.

Why do I get involved in such insanity? Because spending $40 on fabric dye is cheaper than buying actual new slipcovers and allows me to indulge in my English housewife fantasy. Why do I imagine that English housewives spend their days stirring pots of fabric dye? I have no idea, but it comforts me, so please do not tell me otherwise.

Today also involved the purchase and application of some spackle. I got the heavy duty stinky sort of spackle because the area in need of spackle happens to be the ceiling above David's CPAP machine and I felt that perhaps this was not an area in which I should skimp. 

Today I dyed three IKEA chair slipcovers. I still have the couch to do and I am sorry to say, I have run out of wine colored dye and will have to venture out again tomorrow for more.

We are on Day 17 of Rebecca's mystery illness. We should know more sometime this week when the blood work results come in, but in the meantime I am taking her out on short outings. To craft stores. Several times a day. A mother's love knows no bounds.

Lastly, you may remember that several articles of clothing had gone missing from around the house. The items in question were a bikini of mine, a bra and some of Lily's clothes. My experience as a reader of mystery novels told me that my things had been undoubtedly stolen by a mad serial killer and I was going to be hacked to bits any day. In turns out that all of the clothes were at my dad's house where I left them the last time we visited. Crisis averted.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In which we are very nearly grown-ups...

When I was a kid my dad was always working on the house and yard. There were the inside projects and the outside projects. He'd come home from work, put on his work clothes and mow the lawn or fertilize or build something. Weekends were for the big projects like retrieving used railroad ties from the sides of the tracks to use in our massive vegetable garden. He'd then excavate the area and install the ties. There was always something that needed fixing or building and he was always there doing it. Now he's retired and he still always has a list of projects. Right now he is rebuilding the rails on his deck and no doubt is working on his list of winter indoor projects for when it's too cold to work outside.

I too always have a running list, but I am way more of a slacker than my dad. I have a few excuses. My husband usually works around the clock and so all of the projects must be done by me alone. The children need supervision and education. Hard work gets boring. Murder mysteries are interesting.

This summer has been different. Things are getting done. One of the biggest changes was that David took two solid weeks off from work after his shoot. He had time to sleep and relax and this has given him to energy to tackle some house projects which have been nagging us for years.

Some are embarrassingly simple. For example, the gun part of our sink hose has been broken for about five years. In all of that time we would just look at it and think, "My god, how will we ever fix that." Last night David decided that he would fix it. He did some research about turning off the water valve and headed to the hardware store. He had an entire new hose mechanism in his hand when he noticed that the gun part could be purchased separately and could be screwed on to the existing hose.

Five years of living like droopy-eyed one arm children only to discover that the repair would cost $8, take two minutes to install and would require no actual skill.

This sort of discovery has emboldened us. Suddenly the vast list of things to fix, tidy, paint and clean seems completely within our grasp! Where we were once feeble home economic invalids we are now mighty home improvement warriors!

Proof of this fresh resolve can be found on my driveway. The cracks are sealed. The sealcoat and applicator brush are purchased. All that stands between us and a repaired driveway is a rinse with TSP and the heady smell of fresh tar being spread across 1,000 square feet of driveway. We are even sealing over the painted bricks, which means that after the sealcoat is done, I will be faced with the task of repainting the bricks.

We will not be daunted. The driveway will be repaired, the bricks will be painted, because this is Sparta! And we are grownups.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Miscellany, sickness and squalor...

The last few weeks have been quite vexing here at Shiny Red Houses. Rebecca has been running a low grade fever for fifteen straight days. Her symptoms are primarily fever and malaise. We are onto our second round of blood tests. The first round came back negative for all of the usual suspects- lyme, mono etc. So now we wait for some answers next week. Meanwhile, Rebecca seems to be adjusting to her new life as a sick person. We've been taking short outings so that she doesn't get completely depressed by a lack of human contact.

This summer I have been trying to tackle a lot of the big house projects. Today David spent about three hours in a crouched position filling in the driveway cracks which were on their way to becoming a tourist attraction. Who needs the Grand Canyon when you've got your very own Driveway Canyon of Doom? I spent the day trying to beat back the squalor that has crept into every corner and crevice of the house. So much fur, dust and cobwebs. Where does it all come from? Why does the fur accumulate on the stairs? These are the questions which have no answers.

As part of my house beautification project I did a lot of painting. The kitchen cabinets all got a fresh coat, as did the bedroom doors. You know what I finally painted? The spots on the ceilings in almost every room where I did not do a great job of keeping the wall paint off of the ceiling. My most dramatic ceiling accomplishment involved sanding down the flaking paint off of the kitchen ceiling and repainting it.

I know how to live.

Summer is winding down for us. The dark comes earlier, the evenings are cooler. Our local beach closes next week and all too soon the sweet laziness of summer will end. This summer has been the perfect antidote to our busy spring. David's been home and we've all recovered from his two month shoot.

We've all started to look forward to fall a bit I think. The mornings warming up by the fire, the crunch of the leaves under our feet, time alone with the gorillas. I want the house projects done, so there are no distractions- only large concentrations of coziness.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

In fact, we did start the fire...

I am sorry to say that the Great Wasp Attack of 2011 slowed down my yard projects. It's hard to remain enthusiastic for painting fake bricks on your driveway when there is a buzzing hive of venomous wasps just waiting for you to go near it. Yesterday I sprayed an entire can of wasp killer on the nest. A few hours later I threw some rocks at the nest from the safety of my kitchen window to see if any angry wasps emerged.  I threw one basketball and three rocks at the nest. No wasps responded. I figured I was in the clear.

This morning however, I was dismayed to find that there were more wasps patrolling the nest. How could this be?!! My battle against the wasps was escalating into a full blown hornet zombie war. I sprayed another can of poison on the nest and then waited. I threw more rocks. Nothing happened. Still, I was nervous. The bag and nest needed to be removed, yet I was hesitant to try to move it because I have learned that wasps are jerks and their stings really hurt.

Luckily for me, Amy showed up. Amy has so many virtues. She is funny and kind and pretty and patient. She is also stupidly unafraid of bees, so she was more than happy to investigate the nest. How brave/stupid is Amy? She poked it with a stick!

It was a good thing that Amy did poke that nest with a stick because otherwise I would not have known that the nest was still home to a family of healthy and thriving larva. In some of the holes we could even see wasps trying to emerge. It was like wasp spontaneous regeneration! We debated how best to handle them. They needed to die and I was out of wasp killer.

I suggested we drown them in Tilex, but Amy had a better idea.


I went searching for my lighter and Amy asked if I had lighter fluid.

We chose not to over think this fire idea. Setting the nest on fire was an extremely appealing idea to us and it seemed like the sort of idea that upon more careful consideration might seem like a Bad Idea. We turned on the hose so we could put out the towering wasp inferno if we needed to. I nixed the idea of lighter fluid because that seemed like a great way to have the fire department show up, and I really didn't want that story to be part of my blog post. Now if it had brought a hunky FBI agent into the picture...

We started the fire. The larva did not scream, so that was a disappointment. I think that Amy and I were hoping for a great bonfire of destruction, but the pile was wet so we mostly had smoke, some flame and and some nicely roasted larva. After the larva were mostly dead we squished them with our shoes. That part was very unsettling and truly disgusting.

Then we spent some time poking around the nest and leaf pile looking for any survivors who needed squishing. There were none. We were like the marines and the honey badger all rolled into one.

This will undoubtedly be the most exciting thing to happen to me all month. All I have happening now is trying to figure out who stole my bikini and Lily's bathing suit. Ideas?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I am an idiot: Example 652

Today I mulched and mulched and mulched. Mulch both delights and destroys me. I love how quickly it can tidy up a yard. It is the lipstick of the landscaping world. The part about mulching which quite literally destroys me is the hauling of mulch bags around the yard. It turns out that I am not as buff as I had hoped.

While out working today I noticed that one of the yard waste bags which I'd filled eight weeks ago and never brought to the curb (see yesterdays admission of laziness) had some bees buzzing around it. Hmmmmm, I thought. I should spray that or something. I found a can of flying insect poison and sprayed the area and considered the job done.

You know why I considered the job done? Because I am an idiot.

As the day wore on I decided that I would be an actual grown-up and re-bag the neglected yard waste bags and bring them to the curb for trash day tomorrow. I was determined that the sun would not set before I had accomplished this chore. So determined was I that I continued my work in the rain.

In retrospect, it was the rain which made me cocky. I thought, well, I have already sprayed the bag and it's raining. Bees probably hate rain! And it was with that thought that I pulled up the bag from its rotted out bottom.

Suddenly there were bees everywhere! It turns out that they don't care about flying insect poison and are undaunted by rain. I started shrieking and flailing and ran into the house. I looked down at my clothes- bees! I ripped off my clothes while screaming and stomping. By the time I stopped freaking out I had been stung twice. There were several bees in the house which I killed, including a huge bad-ass wasp.

Then I went to the basement and got out a can of wasp killer. I opened the screen of the kitchen window and sprayed that nest to hell. I am nervous though. I thought flying insect spray would be enough. I thought rain would protect me. It seems that my judgement is seriously flawed when it comes to bee management.

What say you mighty internet? Will the bees be dead by morning or are they plotting their revenge? I am still waiting to find out what I am supposed to do about the maggots.

How many months till winter?

Monday, August 1, 2011

In which I ramble...

It's August. It's August and I can feel summer slipping away from beneath my fingers. The orange pink fabric of summer is so fine that I can barely feel it as it pulls away. I think that what I appreciate most about summer is that the rest of the world is on the same sort of schedule that the girls and I are on all year. Homeschooling gives us time for sleep and friends, for lazy novel reading and an obsession with gorillas. This summer has felt like a gift, a breath in the midst of waiting and wondering.

This awareness of summer's inevitable passing also has me scrambling to get some projects done which I have been ignoring in favor of loafing. Top of the list are dealing with my yard (mulching, weeding, mowing) and repainting the bricks on my driveway. Some of my newer readers may not know that I suffer from a mental illness which compels me to paint things which no sane person would.

Exhibit A: The Driveway


See those bricks? I painted those on the blacktop of my never ending driveway and now the paint has faded and must be redone. Today I bought the paint so that must mean I am serious. Before I paint the bricks I must clean the fence. After I clean the fence I need to pull the weeds and clean the driveway. After I clean the fence, pull the weeds and clean the driveway, I need to fill in the cracks. Once those things are done I can begin to paint. Yay me.

There is one serious downside to summer. Maggots. I know, so many of my posts feature maggots, but I need some support here. Now look, I know I am kind of a lazy chick. I am prone to cutting corners, especially tedious ones. One corner which I cut involves the trash. When I take out the kitchen trash to put into the barrel outside, I close up the bag and tie it, but I don't double bag, or reinforce or do whatever the hell I am supposed to do to ensure that flies do not get into the bag and start families. The flies, quite simply, adore my trash. It is apparently the perfect place to raise a family. I know this because when I took out some trash tonight I nearly lost my dinner when I saw the maggots crawling along the sides of the trash barrel.  How do grown-ups prevent maggots in their trash? I have no idea. I am essentially a ten year old with a mortgage.

Would you like a child update while I am here blogging and everything? The kids rock. No seriously, they do. I feel this especially strongly because they are at camp all week and I am allowed the luxury of enjoying them from a distance for six hours a day. We have been continuing our school work throughout the summer. Rebecca is no longer crying over fractions and Lily has discovered home much fun rhyming poems are to write.

David and I are enjoying him being home. Two months is far too long for us to be apart. We are really not that sort of couple.

So there you are: Paint, maggots, loafing, fractions and true love. You?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The days are a blur of death and nachos...

I could make a lot of excuses for my blog absence, but they are largely boring, so I will spare you the details.

We have been spending huge chunks of our lives at our local beach, where we arrive with beach chairs, and snacks and murder mysteries. The mothers settle in together and chat while the children splash and swim and dig. Summer in my town is a very sweet kind of suburban perfection. I am keenly aware of how blessed my days are and how lucky I am to be keeping such great company. I will not forget the flavor of this summer or the evening light flickering through the trees.

I am also not likely to forget the old man at the beach who completely undressed in front of Amy and me. There we were chatting about laundry, when an elderly man took off his speedo and spent five long minutes getting into his underpants. I learned a few things about age and the human body that day. Things I had only suspected, but thought I would not witness for decades. Nature is not kind to the elderly butt. Nature wrinkles the cheeks and well, I don't want to really tell you what nature does to the testes. You'll have to trust me when I say that nature and gravity are a nasty pair.

In spite of the magic of summer, some things never change and it was the smell of decomposition coming from my basement which so clearly exemplified this truth. Last week I made my way down to my scary basement and smelled something which I have previously only associated with the death of baby birds in my bathroom vent. By no small miracle David was home for this animal related misery and so I demanded that he go to the basement and find the source of the odor. He appeared after a few minutes with a completely desiccated mouse. He was happy with his find because it was neither stinky nor maggoty. I was unhappy because I knew that we had not yet found the source of the smell.

So convinced was I that there was another corpse to be found that I hunted around and sure enough, I found a very freshly killed mouse. It was in the early stages of decomposition. It was not maggot infested yet, but it was surely on its way. David kindly disposed of the mouse and I felt a peace and satisfaction which was doomed to be short lived.

Last week while in the basement to do laundry I was startled by a sudden movement at my feet. I screamed in spite of myself, sure that I was about to find a pile of baby rats under the sink. Instead I found something which surprised even me. There was a toad in my basement. How the toad got in, I do not know. He was alive, so at least he did not smell. I scooped him up, took him outside and gave him a very stern talking to.

Yesterday was my birthday so I did what any other 39 year old housewife would do. I went junking with Amy and we had nachos for lunch. The nachos were perfect. They were crisp and warm and the cheese was hot and melty. Nachos are perfect food, and very soothing if you are entering your 39th year and have had a summer filled with ant infestations and dead animals in your basement.

To those you you who still stop back here hoping for a post, I will try to do better. I appreciate your time, your comments and your gentle nudges to write.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A few junking treasures...

Lately I have been junking less. It has a lot to do both with the great junk purge of Spring 2011 and the sorry state of my checking account. Getting my house in order has made keeping up with it a lot easier and I am loathe to bring in more stuff unless it is six kinds of total awesome.

Last week I found myself with a few kid free hours so I went to Urban Renewals. I enjoyed browsing and scored a few things which were simply too good to pass up.

For Rebecca, I found a brand new North Face Denali Fleece in turquoise for $25. Now $25 is far more than I am usually willing to spend for anything at a junk store, but in this case I made an exception. This jacket is "the thing" for tweens and teens in our part of the country. Truthfully, I don't get it, but as someone who lusted mightily for Guess jeans and Coca-Cola shirts in the eighties, I understand the longing. At least these jackets are practical. They are super warm and comfy which they should be considering they retail for about $100.

For both girls I scored a Polly Pockets sized Hogwarts Castle for .99. It has secret passages, compartments, and is seriously cool for the Potter fans in my house. As a matter of fact, this blog post was written while Lily played with it next to me. That my friends is called a win.

In other news, we have returned from five days in the cape with my folks who fed us, spoiled us and got us through our last weekend without David. He arrives home on Thursday and our excitement is almost too much to contain. If you hear shrieks of joy on Thursday, it's just us, celebrating the return of our long lost love.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Part two of my big adventure...

While I was in Arizona, I stayed in the very glamorous, or at least very clean Days Inn in Prescott Valley. I have never really stayed in a hotel by myself. Unlike women in the state of Massachusetts, which has the distinction of having the oldest mothers in the country,  I started having my children at the relatively young age of 26. I lived with my mother until I was about 23 and then David and I ran away together. I have not had a moments peace every since.

I hadn't had any peace until my trip to Arizona that is. I found having my own motel room positively magical. It stayed tidy and even better- the bed was made by someone else every day. I had the television all to myself and could indulge in back to back episodes of Law and Order for hours without interruption. One night I stopped at CVS for lip gloss and Doritos. I then spent the night watching hard boiled detectives interrogate perps and ate Doritos without having to share with anyone.

One of the stops I made out in Arizona was to World Market. My east coast friends and I are deprived of this great store which can best be described as the love child of Pier One and Trader Joe's. It has all sorts of fun things and it was there that I found the perfect gift for the girls- Giant gummy bears.

My kids are already gummy bear lovers, but these gummy bears were special. Each was about four inches tall and encased in plastic; I knew that my kids would go bananas for these delights.

Once Monday morning arrived, I left my hotel room bright and early. My flight was scheduled for 12:10pm, but left to my own devices I was allowed to indulge in over-preparedness without any complaints from traveling companions. It was thanks to this foresightedness that I was on line for my scan (not probe) by 9:30am.  Everything was going swimmingly. The car was dropped off. I had a pack of lifesavers and a murder mystery. All I had to do was get my carefully packed gummy bears through the scanning machines.

You can see where this is going right?

I submit to the scanning. All clear.

My luggage goes through the scanner and I am informed that they need to search my bag.

The TSA agent pulled out the gummy bears and asked me about them. "They are gummy bears for my kids." The TSA agent considered that. The problem seemed to be in deciding whether they were a gel or a liquid. In all fairness, the TSA agent was very nice.

"I have kids too," he whispered apologetically. "Let's check with the supervisor," he suggested.

It was here that it became clear to me that the TSA is run by underemployed people on a power trip. The TSA god of gels insisted that the gummy bears were both a liquid and a gel and therefore, would not be permitted on board, unless I wanted to check my bag. I made the point that if I had a big bag of gummy bears, it would clear without incident. He would not budge. I said, "Look, I don't mean to be a jerk, but human-to-human, you know that these gummy bears are not dangerous, right?"

Readers, his only reply was, "No exceptions!" and so, flustered and embarrassed, I surrendered my contraband to the TSA weenie, who most likely ate them.

I was two hours early for my flight. I was so early in fact, that my flight wasn't even on the board yet. I was alone in a red state without gummy bears for my children. It was a sad time for me. At least it was until I discovered a seat at the gate next to a power outlet and then logged into the airport's free WiFi. I spent the next ninety minutes watching Law and Order, which I think we can all agree, is a soothing balm for the weary soul.

Once home I was smothered in hugs and noise from the children. I was happy so see them, but I confess I sorely miss the maid service.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Well, hello there everyone!

I imagine you are all breathlessly waiting to find out just where the heck I have been for the last week. If you were my Facebook friend, you'd know. (Friend me with that handy little button up at the top of the page.)

On Friday I flew to Arizona for my mother's wedding. I spent the days leading up to my trip in an absolute frenzy of anxiety. I worried about plane crashes, my luggage, renting a car by myself, driving through the deserts of Arizona by myself, being away from my children, being away from my dogs, the state of my checking account, the size of my butt and so much more.

4:30 Friday morning my taxi came to fetch me to take me to the airport.

I learned many things on this trip. The first being that there is no traffic in Boston at 4:30am. I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to fret my way through security. I was scanned, but not probed and it seems that in 2011 this is the most one can hope for.

The flight was uneventful. It did not crash. It is always a miracle to me when my plane does not fall out of the sky. Why doesn't it crash? How does it stay in the air? Magic. The only possible explanation.

Once I landed and got my car I made my way north to my mother's place in Prescott Valley. I did not dawdle or dwell on the scenery because I had an important job to do. I was the chief decorator and Maid of Honor. Well, I suppose Matron of Honor is more accurate since I am a married lady and all that, but really, is there a worse word than "matron"?

About a month ago I sent a box of supplies to my mother's house. The box contained eighteen yards of tulle, ceramic birds, an assortment of candles in varied sizes, ribbons, silk flowers and pearl garland. I walked in her door and got to work. Since it was a small wedding, my mother and her fiance Jack, decided to have the wedding at their home. They decided that the fireplace would be the best place to create a visual focal point and mock alter.

This is what we created.

This was so quick and easy to put together. We chose the container with the petunias and greens to provide depth and height to the arrangement.

See those ceramic birds? They were about $5 at Michael's.

We used some more flowers and greens to extend the lilac and green theme over by the cake.

The wedding was very sweet. My mother and Jack both got very teary, which caused me to get teary and make the most mediocre toast in the history of weddings.

Luckily, the happy couple did not seem to mind.

Stay tuned for Part Two of my exciting travel tale. It includes me watching Law and Order all alone in my hotel and getting my gummy bears confiscated by TSA.

Monday, June 6, 2011


About a million years ago before the recession and it's long reign of suck, I used to get my nails done with acrylics every two weeks. My nails are soft and peel and I loved how hard the acrylics made them. I could tap meaningfully on the table and gesticulate with authority.

I tried to do my own acrylics, but you will just have to trust me when I tell you that it did not go well. Periodically I would google for super hard nail polishes and even tried a few, but nothing worked. They peeled and chipped and caused me no end of grief.

It was while googling nail polish that I stumbled upon a product that I had seen for years, but dismissed out of hand.

Glue on nails. Could there be anything tackier? Well, the more I read about this product the better it seemed. People raved about glue on nails! Who knew?

Finally, I decided that for 5.97 at Walgreens I'd give it a shot. It was love at first application. They look just like the acrylic nails I used to get and are so stinking cheap! The glue that comes with them isn't as strong as I'd like so I upgraded to a stronger nail glue.

I've been using these nails for about a month now. Once a week I peel them off and apply new ones. So easy.

I must however, offer one bit of caution. It involves nail glue, smoke and fire.

This week while applying my nails, I spilled some nail glue onto my nylon nightgown. It immediately started to feel very hot and then it began to smoke! I grabbed the glass of water next to me and dumped it on my lap which stopped the chemical reaction and saved me from needing some very embarrassing skin grafts.

The internet provided this, which while not being an explanation, provides a visual of what happens when nail glue goes wrong.

So boys and girls, fake nails are good. Super glue will set you on fire.

My job here is done.

(This was not a paid review. Kiss Nails has no idea who I am and would probably be horrified by my fire story if they did.)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ants, Tornadoes, Hair and Guilt or My Week...

So the ants are gone. I wanted to let you guys know that right at the start so you could stop worrying. I did have to kill a big spider today that had chosen to hang out on the ceiling right above my bed, but I am pretty sure that he is unrelated to the ants.

This week kind of felt like a week of trials. There were the ants. Then there was some extremely hot and humid weather, which was then followed oddly enough, by a couple of F3 tornadoes about 60 miles west of here. Yup. Tornadoes. In Massachusetts.

You know, here in Massachusetts we have nine months of soul crushing winter followed by three months of heat and humidity. I have always felt like the humidity and cold were the trade off against natural disasters like tornadoes and earthquakes. What is the point of stoically enduring all of that misery if we are going to have tornadoes?

I suspect that this logic comes from my years of being educated by nuns for whom punishment and discomfort were just another way to show Jesus your love.

"Stop complaining and offer your suffering to Jesus!" the nuns would intone. Sure. What Jesus would do with my suffering is beyond me.

Where was I? Oh yes, the trials of the week. The ants, the heat, the tornadoes, the spider on my ceiling- it all got to me. That's why this morning I offered the girls a choice: do schoolwork or go to the mall.

It was tough for them to decide, but somehow they choose the mall. I had an ulterior motive for going to the mall. I wanted a haircut badly and I wanted to Lily to get one too. My hair has been suffering from self inflicted hair cuts about a year. Lily's crazy short haircut has been growing out into an extreme shag that has gone from looking "cute and spunky" to "Does that mother ever brush her kid's hair?".

We arrived at the mall and snagged appointments with Toni our hairdo guru. You know what I like about Toni? She does not berate me for cutting my own hair. She just smiles nicely and makes me look like a grown-up again. She made me look pretty and made Lily look like a regular child and not a street urchin.

We are about to start week four of the David's eight week film shoot. In general it's going well. I have to say this, I just do, but I could not do this unless my kids weren't so awesome. They are not perfect. They whine and argue, but mostly they are great friends with each other. They laugh and play in all of the ways that make childhood wonderful.

Being with them is the greatest gift of my life. I think it's also why I feel so guilty that I have moments of desperately wanting to be alone. When David is home I usually disappear for a few hours on the weekend and recharge. With David gone and all of the kid's classes over, I don't have any regular chunks of time to myself.  While I know that I can leave my kids home alone together, I feel guilty and rushed when I do. I worry that if I am gone too long they will feel my leaving as a statement about them.

I ask them sometimes, "Don't you guys ever get tired of me?"

"No mommy! Never! Do you get tired of us?" they ask.

I tell them the truth. Sometimes I need quiet when no one is talking to me or needing anything from me. They'll understand some day.

In the meantime, I count my blessings, endure my trials and offer nothing up to Jesus.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I am getting weird...

I started writing a long post about the fun I had poisoning some intrepid ants who made their way onto my porch today.

Part way through the post I realized that my obsession with ant killing is getting weird and is most likely a symptom of not spending enough time with grownups.

It's hard when David is away in the summer because the days are so damn long. In the winter we can eat at 5:30 and have a bath by 6 and there is nothing strange about that at all. It's dark so it must be night. It is perfectly normal to take a bath and tuck into bed at night. Now I push dinner until six and then sit around waiting for night to fall.

This situation became too boring to tolerate tonight, so at 7:15 I asked the kids if they wanted to go to the mall. They jumped at the chance!

The object which we were shopping for has become the holy grail of children's sleepwear. Lily wants a silky nightgown. Something loose with a bit of give- something exactly like the nightgowns I like to wear. I have looked everywhere.

She's been wearing one of my short nightgowns with the straps knotted up at the top.  She loves it but I was kind of hoping to find something that fit her better. Macy's was our last place to look and once again, we found nothing.

We cut back through Forever 21 which I quite loved. If I had a wee bit of money to burn I'd buy a few things that look exactly like the pieces at Anthropologie, but I would not have to mortgage my house to buy them.

So that's my day. I killed ants and went to the mall. Just try to top that!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Good news and bad news...

Regular readers might remember that the two previous summers of my life were marked by the deaths of infant birds in the exhaust vent of my bathroom. It would start with the smell, continue on with the flies and then I'd cook the rotting corpse by running the bathroom heater for 24 hours a day. It was great fun each time it happened.

This fall we thought we'd be very clever and have the entire vent covered in mesh wire. No birds, no maggots. Win!

Well, at lest  it seemed like a win at the time and indeed, until Thursday it was. Thursday while out urging my dogs to piddle already, I noticed big black ants crawling up the side of my house and on the drain pipe which leads to the roof of the former bird death trap. I thought, "Huh. Ants."

That's as far as I went with that thought, because people? I did not want to know.

As a matter of fact on Facebook (If we are not facebook friends we should be- follow the button at the top.) I posted: There are ants crawling on my house. What does this mean? Feel free to lie to me. 

I went to bed Thursday night determined to ignore what was now becoming a gnawing concern. I woke up Friday morning blissfully unaware of the army of heave-ho's moving in.

I got into the shower. I found that I was not alone in the shower. There were two ants in the shower with me and I think we can agree that this is not the sort of shower company a girl wants. I slugged them a bottle of shampoo and tried not to panic. A coincidence! It was just a coincidence. The rest of the house would be ant free!!

That was the lie I told myself until I got downstairs and saw dozens of ants on the walls, the windows and the floor. First I panicked and called my husband who is conveniently away for six weeks.

"Come home right now!" I demanded. "There are ants everywhere and I am freaking out!"

Reader, he did not come home.

I did the only thing a defenseless housewife could do. I went to the hardware store and got enough ant traps to kill every ant in my town. I set them all over the house and tried to comfort the children.

"We want to move!" cried Rebecca.

"Who would want to buy our ant filled house?" I wailed back.

We spent the day out of the house, leaving the ants to have at their poison. Saturday morning there were fewer ants, but enough to have me worried that the traps weren't working. Sunday morning we only saw three and then this morning I saw one- and nothing since.

I think I won the battle. I imagine somewhere in the hot dry earth around my house is a bunker of insect death. A pile of ants defeated by $50 worth of ant poison. I miss winter already.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What is looks like when I declutter...

I was chatting with my pal Dre today and she asked me a very interesting question. "I read about you doing a big decluttering. Does this mean you are adopting a minimalist style?"

The short answer is no, I am not a minimalist by any stretch. I like a certain texture in my home. I like bright colors and unexpected surprises for the eye. I do want a less busy look to my home and I think I have toned it down a few levels. What do you think?

I am finding the changes very soothing. I took the red slipcover off of the couch and just removed anything that felt extraneous. Amy says that on a scale of one to ten, one being minimalist and ten having every space occupied I'm now an eight. I like to think of myself as more of a six and a half. Thoughts?