Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thanksgiving Craft

Well, it's that time of year again. And if you think I'm referring to Christmas carols, breathtaking snow scenes and joyful family gatherings, then we've never met! No, I'm referring to the constant complaints from certain children that 'there's nothing to do,' 'everthing here is boring,' and 'I wish I had different parents.' Or maybe that's just me...

At any rate, here's a cute craft that should keep the kids busy for an hour or so -- and if you're lucky their fingers will stick together with the tacky glue and this will keep them busy for another hour, or so! :-)

Any way, here's how to make some cute napkin rings to grace your Thanksgiving table. You will need:
paper towel or toilet paper tubes
Tacky Glue (you have to use the stuff called 'Tacky Glue', regular Elmer's Glue won't work)
a foam paintbrush
different kinds of dried beans

First, cut the tubes into slices about 2" wide, or so. I used a big bread knife for this.

Then, slather the tacky glue all over the outside of the cardboard tube.

Arrange beans in patterns, or just roll the gluey tube through a plate of beans. We tried it both ways and thought each was cool.

You could also decorate these with buttons, sequins, foam shapes, feathers, fabric, or beads.

Here's Addie concentrating hard on creating her first napkin ring.

Here are a few of our napkin rings, drying on a newspaper.

A finished napkin ring. We can't wait to take these to the farm for Thanskgiving!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ixnay on Ristmas-Chay

So, yesterday was our neighborhood's trick-or-treat night. Since this is the first year that Buckey really could understand the concept, I took some time yesterday morning to tell him about it...that he'd get dressed up in his vampire costume, take his pumpkin bucket to our neighbors' houses, knock on the door and yell, "Trick or Treat!" and then people would put candy in his bucket.

For the next seven hours, Kiefer followed me around the house with his empty trick-or-treat bucket, repeating, "I want candy!" *sigh*

I guess this means that it's Ixnay on Ristmas-Chay until the morning of! (For those of you not well-schooled in the fine art of Pig Latin that translates literally to "Nix Christmas," which means I better not tell him about a guy coming down the chimney and leaving trucks and diggers under the tree until Christmas morning.)

Silly kids! Here's our vicious, blood-sucking vampire at his preschool Halloween party:
Here's our wicked witch, who had just been given the go-ahead on trick-or-treating:

Both kids on our front porch at one minute till 6 (the official start of trick-or-treating):

Happy Halloween!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Patchwork-Trimmed Baby Blanket

My cousin and his wife welcomed the newest baby to our family in June. I am just now getting around to crafting a gift. Sorry, baby Ramsey! Anyway, I decided to make a blanket with a patchwork edge. Here's what I came up with...

Closer view of the various patterns used:

Finished dimensions are 34" x 37".
Time to complete: under 90 minutes.

Here's how:
Get a square of fleece, 1/4 yard each of 4 coordinating flannels and matching or contrasting thread.

Cut two of the flannels in half (parallel to the selvedge edge).
Cut one of the flannel into fourths.
Leave one of the flannels uncut.

Arrange the flannels to your liking. Sew them together with a 3/8" seam allowance. Press the seams open or to one side.

You should have a rectangle of fabric. You are going to cut this fabric into strips perpendicular to your seam lines, so you need to have a straight edge to start with. I used a rotary cutter and mat to square up and slice a straight line. Then I cut six strips each 6" wide.

I folded them in half and ironed them. Then I placed the fleece inside the flannel trim right up to the fold line and pinned in place. Using a fairly tight zig-zag stitch, I sewed along the flannel edge. I wasn't too concerned with perfect neatness, but I made sure to sew all edges down, since I didn't hem the trim.

That's it -- a funky fleece baby blanket!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Camouflage drawstring skirt

For the past several months I've been looking for camo pants, shorts or skirts. Obviously, camo is not "in" this season -- or maybe even this decade -- surely I don't know! At any rate, on a recent trip to my local Jo-Ann Fabrics, I spotted some bolts of camouflage and bought a few yards of this fabric, a pack of black twill tape and some black lace-type trim. I drew up a pattern for a basic A-line, drawstring skirt and created this baby...
A close-up of the hemline:
It's a great summer skirt, paired with my ever-present Chaco sandals and a black tank. But I can't wait for fall to wear it with boots and a chunky sweater.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fabric+Sewing Machine+1 Hour = Cute Skirt

Got a yard or so of fabric (for a kid-size skirt), a sewing machine and about an hour? If so, you could make this!

You will need: fabric, measuring tape, scissors, thread, 1/2" wide elastic, sewing machine

It's ridiculously easy and NO pattern is needed. First, you need a willing subject (or someone who has to be willing because you are THE MAMA!). Measure that subject's waist or hips (whichever is wider) and add about 4" for kids and 5" - 7" for adults. We'll call this number "A."

Cut fabric for the top tier 5" x A
Cut fabric for the second tier 5" x 1.5 times longer than first tier (multiply the measurement of the first tier by 1.5)
Cut fabric for the third tier 7" x 1.5 times longer than second tier (multiply the measurement of the second tier by 1.5)

For adults you'll probably want 5 or 6 tiers, so if you are making an skirt for an adult, just keep increasing the length of the additional tiers by 1.5. You may have to sew several strips together to get the required length. I didn't have to do this until the third tier on this skirt, but if I was making one for myself only the top tier would be made of a single strip of fabric.

After you have your tiers cut out, make an elastic casing in the first tier. Turn under the top of the first tier 1/4" to the fabric's wrong side and press. Then turn under another 3/4" and press. Sew very close to the edge of this fold the whole length of the fabric to make the "tube" for the elastic.

Then take the second tier and baste a wide stitch along whichever side will be the top. Then pull on one thread to gather it so that it is the same length as the bottom of tier one. Distribute the gathers as evenly as possible, pin the right sides together and sew the pieces together with a 1/2" seam.

Do the same thing for the rest of the tiers. NOTE: Before you gather and attach the bottom tier, hem it first. Do this by turning 1/4" to the wrong side (press) then turn another 1/4" under to the wrong side and sew close to the edge. You could also hem with bias tape or an overlock stitch, but whatever method you choose, do it before you gather and sew it.

After all your tiers are gathered and sewn together, sew the side seams with a 1/2" seam allowance. STOP and backstitch just before you get to the waistband casing.

Take 1/2" elastic and wrap it around your subject's waist and cut the length you need. Then feed the elastic through the casing and sew over it, closing the opening of the waistband and securing the elastic in place.

That's it! Easy peasy!

Here is the skirt on my subject. She liked it so much, she wanted to wear it UNDER her dress.

And 30 seconds after the above photo was taken, the skirt was placed here.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Decided to make use of some of Joel's t-shirts by refashioning them into wicked cool skirts. Here's the first one: He had this shirt for at least ten years, if not longer. I cut it off just below the sleeves, measured it to fit my waist, resewed the side seams on an angle to the outer corners and then made a casing for some 1/2" elastic at the waist. Easy peasy!

The front of the skirt, which used to be the back of the shirt:

The back of the skirt, which used to be the front of the shirt:

From the side:

Yes, I am wearing rain boots -- a true fashionista, I know!

Coming next: an Ozzy t-shirt-turned-skirt. And if I am brave, I'll refashion his jeans into a skirt. Just not sure if my machine can handle two-plus layers of denim.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hershey Park - 1, Buckey - 0

We went to Hershey Park for the first time on Saturday. Addie decided that she wanted to go to the Boardwalk and swim even though the air temperature was only 70 with a fair wind. Anyway, we packed up all our swimming stuff and headed over. Addie was all about the water despite blue lips, goosebumps and the little bastards hitting us right in the face with the water guns. (That only happened once, I can assure you.) Addie had a great time, as evidenced here:

Buckey wanted almost nothing to do with the water, but finally we convinced him at least to stand around the perimeter of the water, so we could all sort-of be in the same place. They had some beach chairs around the zero-depth water and it appeared that Kiefer was trying to climb onto one just as Chris and I switched duties (he to swim with Addie and me to try and get warm and herd Buckey.) Since the chairs are only 6 inches off the ground and do not fold, I didn't try to stop him. He had both hands on the back of the chair and had just put a knee on the seat when it started to tip in ever-so-slow motion. I stepped over to him just as he hit the ground and uttered a horrendous scream. I was surprised that he was crying so hard, and chalked it up to he a) hated the water and b) hated every place where he could see the water and c) falling down just cemented his resolve to get us the hell out of there.

Anyway, I scooped him up right away with a quick look at his face to make sure he didn't bite his lip or scrape his face. Nope. He put his head into my shoulder and tucked both hands in between us and screamed and screamed and screamed. I decided he really was hurt and so I pulled away from him so I could look him over. He lifted his right hand out from between us and that's when I saw the blood and something white hanging loose.

Oh shit.

Luckily, I am pretty solid in a crisis, so I checked it closely and the result of Buckey's mishap with the sun chair was the complete dislodge of the middle fingernail of his right hand. I don't mean most of was torn away. I don't mean it had bent back and loosened from his nail bed. I mean the entire fingernail was torn out from the root.

Oh shit.

He's still screaming. I wrap his finger in a fold of the towel, quickly walk over and tell Chris that Buckey lost a fingernail and then headed out to the closest First Aid Station. There is a chance that I ran over a few small children on the way.

He screamed like a siren all the way there, but stopped suddenly when he was descended upon by two EMTs and a nurse. They cleaned his finger and wrapped it up while the nurse filed an incident report and before he was done, Buckey was the proud recipient of two cheap stuffed dogs -- one for himself and one for sister. *(On a side note, just to illustrate how completely sweet and adorable is Buckey: He's kind of crying when they're working on him and his finger no doubt hurts like bloody hell. But one of the techs handed him this little stuffed dog and he grabbed it with his free hand, hugged it tight with a sound like, "Awww...", kissed its little nose and patted its back until they were finished working on his finger.)

Here's the First Aid Station we visited. This photo was taken AFTER the incident.

Here's Buckey with one of the first aid pups.

Here's his finger approximately 20 minutes after the incident. I re-wrapped it once we got to the car.

I cannot bring myself to take a picture of his finger the way it looks now. However, it doesn't seem to bother him anymore and today was the first day that he didn't seem to mind it without a bandage.

Here's to hoping that this does not color further interactions between Buckey and Hershey.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


So, you've probably read or heard about the hub-bub surrounding Tyler Frost, his Baptist school principal and his girlfriend's secular prom.

If you haven't, I am pretty sure you live under a rock, but here's the nutshell:
Tyler Frost attends a private fundamentalist Baptist school that forbids dancing, rock music and hand-holding, among other things, I am sure. Tyler's girlfriend goes to a public school, where presumably all of that is encouraged. Tyler wanted to take his girlfriend to HER school's prom. So, he approached his principal, requested permission (principal signed some kind of permission slip, but gave him a verbal warning that he would be suspended if he attended), and went to the prom.

*GASP* Tyler got suspended!!

Now it seems everyone (including his mother and step-father) is painting poor Tyler as the hapless victim and demanding that Tyler be allowed to attend commencement ceremonies with his classmates. His parents (mother and step-father) are preparing to sue the school.

PUH-LEASE! Give me a fucking break!

First, SOMEONE is sending Tyler to a private fundamentalist Baptist school. He's surely not sending himself there. My guess is that it's his parents (mother and step-father) because they share the wacky beliefs of this particular sect.
a.) If the parents DO agree with the principles of this school, they shouldn't file suit.
b.) If the parents DO NOT agree with the principles of this school, they shouldn't send their kid there. Duh!

Second, not a peep has been heard from Tyler's father and/or step-mother, presuming there is one.

Third, No one has given ANY explanation to points above. No journalists have asked these questions. HELLO!?!? Can someone do his/her job?

Fourth -- Tyler, suck it up, dude! You're still going to be able to take your finals and you'll still get your diploma if you pass them. You knew this would happen, you made a decision, now you have to take it like a man.

Fifth -- Tyler's parents -- give me a fucking break!!! Your lawsuit is a sham and I hope you lose, lose, lose if it even gets heard. You're idiots, either way.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Emergency, Emergency -- Red Alert!!

My daughter is frequently dramatic, imaginative and expressive. (I'm pretty sure she's a 7 with an 8 wing on the Enneagram, if that means anything to you, which it probably doesn't.) She frequently emits bloodcurdling screams and frantic cries for help when, in fact, she is pretending to be trapped in a dragon's lair that she's created out of couch cushions.

I used to run immediately, because, frankly, when your child emits bloodcurdling screams, you almost can't NOT run. However, after a few years of conditioning, I am becoming a little less urgent in my response.

The other day I was upstairs working through a mountain of laundry. (We are extremely fortunate to have our washer and dryer on the second floor where all the clothes need to go anyway, and not in the basement, where trekking up two flights of stairs with eight thousand loads of clothes every freaking day would create a serious backlog in the availability of clean clothes and would probably necessitate the enforcement of such rules as "You will wear that outfit all week, young lady!" and "The towels are not dirty till they stand up on their own!" But I digress.) The gate was at the top of the stairs and the bathroom doors were closed so that Kiefer couldn't (a) flush the toilet sixteen thousand times, (b) fall while crawling into the tub to retrieve a tub toy, or (c) drown in the toilet. Both kids were in Kiefer's room, I thought looking out his window. Everyone was safe. Or so I thought.

Addie begins to scream, "Mommy! Red alert, red alert! There's been a pooping incident! Emergency! Emergency!" Based on previous patterns, the fact that I did not hear a crash prior to the screaming and the fact that I was knee-deep in whites and colors, I asked (in kind of an exasperated fashion), "Is there any blood?!" To which, Addie replied with a little laugh, "No..." I said, "OK, then, just a second."

Seconds later my dear, sweet son comes around the corner with his cute, pudgy hand outstretched and said, "Here!" In his palm was a turd.


Apparently, while they were looking out the window, Kiefer thought what would be more interesting than watching birds, cars and the damn school bus parked out back, would be to get into the diaper pail and rifle through old diapers.


Anyway, no one was harmed, even though I had to sheepishly thank Addie for telling me right away about the incident. "I told you so!" she said.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Alright -- I get it!

Every time Buckey and Addie are playing and Buckey starts crying, I immediately say, "Addie, what's wrong?"

Apparently, she's sick of it, because just today they were playing in the living room and Buck started to cry and I asked her, "Addie, what's wrong?"

Addie answered, "I don't know -- I'm not crying!"


Friday, March 20, 2009


In the car:
Addie:  "Mom, can you drive as fast as the law allows?  I gotta poop!"

In the kitchen:
Addie puts some shamrock confetti on the counter and says, "Look, Mom -- Leprechaun poop!"

In the car:
Addie:  "Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a race car driver.  Because then I can drive fast and won't have to pay the law."

Regarding her baby brother:
I had to have a conversation with Addie about being mean to, and hurting, her baby brother.  So, I went into a long explanation about how I cannot allow one of my children to hurt the other.  And how I hate to yell at Addie, but when she hurts Kiefer, I get so angry.  Then, I asked her for suggestions about what to do so that she would remember that hurting Kiefer is not OK.  
She paused and said, "Well, Mom, it is very difficult to handle two kids...that is why you should only have one child."  

Regarding tattoos:
Addie:  "Mommy, I like  your tattoos."
Me:  "Thanks, I like them, too."
Addie:  "When I grow up, I want to get a tattoo."
Me:  "OK."
Addie:  "But, I don't want them to use a needle, I want them to use a brush."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Drink Till You're Irish!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! Drink till you're Irish!!! (That's just a wee joke. I am in no way implying that all Irish are lushes, but as someone who proudly carries some Irish blood, we typically don't shy away from the drink...and if the shoe fits...)

Anyway, this joke is also a Scottish one; as Scots, too, know a fine single-malt when they taste one!

Mac and Paddy were fishing off the coast one fine morning. Alas, they strayed far out to sea and soon became lost.

They floated for days, hoping for rescue, but just as soon as things seemed grim, Mac fished a bottle out of the water.

He took it off his hook and wiped it clean and as he was doing so, a genie popped out and said, "Thank you, Master, your wish is my command. I will give you anything you want."

Mac didn't even hesitate, "I wish the sea were made of fine whisky," he blurted.

Paddy looked aghast!

"For God's sake, Man," he cried, "why on earth would you wish such a thing? Now, we'll have to piss in the boat!"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March Fucking 10th...

So, of the three people who read this blog, probably only one of them knows that today is my brother's birthday.  Or was my brother's birthday.  Or should be my brother's birthday.  I don't fucking know.  All I know is that my brother's dead and if he weren't, today he'd be 22.

So, instead of taking him to the Angus for a shot this weekend, or going to a strip club (oh, yes I would have!), or even calling him up just to say, "Hey..." I'm writing this stupid blog.  And if you haven't noticed, I'm still furious at him.  

But, he did visit me in my dreams on Wednesday night (March 4th -- interestingly enough, our cousin's birthday).  It was the first time since, I think, last January 21st.  Anyway, in the dream we were sitting on the front porch swing of the house we used to live in (outside Clarkstown).  In the dream I was my age and Joel was the age I remember him.  We were kind of leaning against each other, swinging back and forth and I was telling Joel what happened to him.  He didn't know and I was telling him and sobbing and he didn't want to hear it, but he listened to the whole sordid story.  He said he didn't remember any of it, and he just kept shaking his head in disbelief.  He felt really bad.  

The next scene, we were walking down the hallway of an old farmhouse I didn't recognize.  There were lots of doors on either side of us, but we kept walking to the one at the end.  I was in front and he was right behind me. 

The next scene was Dad, Joel and me putting siding up on the barn.  Joel and I were each holding and end of a pine board and Dad was using a nail gun.  Then Dad started screwing around with the nail gun, swinging it towards us and acting crazy.  I screamed at him what the fuck did he think he was doing?, was he crazy?, didn't he know he could shoot a nail through someone's head and it would kill them?  Jee, I wonder what that part of the dream meant?  (duh...) 

For the last week or so I've been thinking about Joel more than usual (birthday week and all).  And even though I haven't talked more than usual about him, or played his music, or looked at videos, somehow Addie must be getting a vibe, because for the last week or so she's been asking about him and talking about him.  

Here's the latest conversation:
Addie:  Is Uncle Joel dead?
Me:  Yep.  Uncle Joel is dead.
Addie:  How did he die?
Me:  Well, he hurt himself.
Addie:  How?
Me:  He hurt himself really badly.
Addie:  I know, but how?
Me:  [pause...think, think, think...]
Addie:  Well?  How?
Me:  [pause]  Well, honey, actually he shot himself.
Addie:  With a gun?!
Me:  Yes.
Addie:  [Exasperated]  Why would he do that?!?!
Me:  That's a good question, honey.  We don't really know.

He'd be graduating college this year.  I was sure he'd be a crime writer, or an FBI profiler.  He wasn't sure, though he knew writing would be something he'd always do in some form or another.  

He'd be teaching Kiefer to wrestle and he'd be showing Addie how to hold a guitar.  He'd be laughing with me about some damn thing or another.  He'd be talking to Chris about some kind of psycho babble.  He'd be drinking a beer with us at Loralie's birthday.  We'd all pick on Gram.  He'd tap my arm and shake his head.  He'd give me the finger shake.  He'd laugh and bend all the way over and put his hands on his knees.  

He should be and he would be.  But he isn't and he won't.  

Joel, I miss you always and love you to the end.   

Credits:  From "Bird's the Word" Collaboration kit: papers by arti-bytes and Creative Confusion (both altered). High Tower Text and Tempus Sans fonts. Adobe PSCS. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Mom, by Addie

An Interview with my Daughter:

1. What is something mom always says to you?
"Be gentle with Buckey."

2. What makes mom happy?
"When I love you."

3. What makes mom sad?
"When I push Buckey."

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
"You make silly faces and tickle me."

5. What was your mom like as a child?
"You were playful."

6. How old is your mom?

7. How tall is your mom?
"40 feet tall. Let me get something." [Looking for the measuring tape.] "Let's see how tall you are with this measuring tape -- Wow! One half and a feet tall!"

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
"Go to the grocery store."

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
"Um, she loves you..."

11. What is your mom really good at?
"Loving me."

12. What is your mom not very good at?

13. What does your mom do for her job?
"Taking care of us."

14. What is your mom's favorite food?
"Neato Burrito."

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
"Because you love me."

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
"Snow White."

17. What do you and your mom do together?

18. How are you and your mom the same?
"We both have the same colory skin."

19. How are you and your mom different?
"We both have different hairs."

20. How do you know when your Mom is mad?
"Because you're angry."

21. How do you know your mom loves you?
"You are happy."

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
"Um, to the park."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Car Conversations I

Addie:  Hey, Mom, what's the baddest bad word?
Me:  I'm not going to tell you.
Addie:  Why?
Me:  Because I don't want you to know it and I don't want you to say it.
Addie:  Well, just tell me what letter it starts with. 
Me:  No way!
Addie:  Why not?
Me:  Because I don't want you to know it and I don't want you to say it.
Addie:  Why?  
Me:  Well, first of all, Dad would be really mad.
Addie:  Well, we just won't tell him.
Me:  Very funny.
Addie:  OK, is it 'stupid'?
Me: No.
Addie:  Is it 'butt'?
Me: No.
Addie: Is it 'jackass'?
Me:  (Hiding a smile -- she's heard that one before!) No.
Addie: Is it 'damn'?
Me: (Well, OK, not so bad...) No.
Addie: Is it 'Christ'?
Me:  (Thinking, "At least she didn't say, 'Is it Jesus H. Christ on a Cracker'.")  No.
Addie: Well, what is it?
Me:  I'm not going to tell you.

Phew!  If she's heard me drop the f-bomb, she wasn't paying attention...DON'T tell Dad!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Miss You, Gram

Gram and me in FL, 2000.
With her first great-grandchild, 2004.
Four generations! 2005

My mom's mom died a year ago.

At the time, I was still grieving the loss of my brother, Joel, who, at the age of 20, decided his life was over and shot himself in the head with my dad's .308. I am still grieving my brother -- no doubt I always will -- but the loss of my Gram is becoming more real to me. She was young -- she became a mom at a young age and then became a grandmother at the age of 39 when I was born.

My grandfather died in 1992, just about the time I really took an interest in my grandparents as people. I remember my grandfather was full of laughs. He wasn't a large man, but his presence and his voice filled a room. My gram was just that same way. She loved having fun and was always quick to giggle and laugh. I never remember her being idle. She was always doing something: walking, working outside, painting, traveling, going here or there with this person or that. Her life was full of activities and friends.

She particularly enjoyed painting. She was in several art leagues and almost always had some kind of showing, or art festival, on her calendar of events. Every birthday or holiday card that we received from her was either painted by her, or was a print of one of her works.

As long as I can remember, Gram (and Grampa, too, when he was alive) spent only the warmest months in Pennsylvania. They were usually here from late spring to late summer or early fall, and the rest of the time she (they) spent in Florida, or traveling around the United States or Canada. Actually, there were a good many years where they were only in PA for a few weeks per year, when they owned Green Bay Camp in Cloyne, Ontario. They would live and work there in the summer and then would winter in Florida, just stopping by in PA on there way to and from.

Anyway, all of my memories of her are full of fun -- playing with her button stash while she sewed, singing Puff the Magic Dragon and Green, Green Grass of Home while she played on the organ, helping her clean cabins and pretending to mind the store, listening to the almost constant (but strangely comforting) sounds of her and Grampa bickering, going through her multitude of photo albums and hearing all about her latest adventures, laughing, joking, playing cards, eating sticky buns, looking for Burrowing Owls, gathering together for the annual Labor Day picnic.

I miss you, Gram.

Credits: Papers, elements and alpha from Amy Teets' "Sun Porch" and Shabby Princess' "Vintage Florals." Paper tear templates from Diane L. Miller. Georgia font. Adobe PS/CS.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Post-Valentine's Reflections, or Things I Really, Really Like...

My husband
  • Because he's super, duper smart.
  • I like the sound of his voice.
  • No one else could put up with all my bullshit.
  • He's ultra-patient and tolerant.
  • He takes really good care of us.
  • He's a great dad.
  • He has a good sense of humor and makes me laugh.
  • Did I mention he's really patient, and puts up with all my shit?

My kiddos

  • They are super, duper smart.
  • I love the way they laugh.
  • They are so adorable, sometimes I'd like to eat them.
  • They are brave and adventurous.
  • They are full of mischief.
  • They still think I can do anything and know more than they do.
  • I see parts of my brother in them.

My family and friends -- you know who you are!

  • For all your dysfunction, idiosyncracies and craziness, you've been around, made me laugh, held me up, talked me down and make my life full and complete. I love you all.

Aikido at Itten Dojo (hope this comes up on your google search, Sensei!)

  • It is full of fun, dedicated and genuinely nice people.
  • It has whipped me into shape.
  • It is both physically and mentally challenging.
  • NO ONE SMELLS BAD! Can you believe it? I can't, but it's true.
  • Once in awhile, for a few brief seconds, by some alignment of the planets, or some freak chance, I actually experience the magic and power of Aikido and it is exhilarating!
  • Sometimes, there is blood.

The Farm

  • The farm holds all of my best childhood memories.
  • It is my refuge, my retreat and where my family gathers.
  • It is beautiful and clean and lush.
  • There is something fun to do there in every season (hunt, make maple syrup, garden, swim, hike, sled, snowmobile, four-wheel, harvest honey, fish, can/freeze/preserve, relax, eat/drink/talk, etc., etc.)
  • No matter where I am, it's what I think of when someone says "home."

Books and Music

  • Duh!

Ashley @ Lush317

  • She's super funny, totally real and cuts and colors like a magician!

Tattoos, Boots, Harleys, Dive Bars

  • They're just cool.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cheating to Lose

My daughter recently has acquired enough interest and skill to be able to play board games like Candy Land and Uncle Wiggily. We play just about every day, Candy Land being her favorite and Uncle Wiggily being mine.

She becomes intensely focused on winning and frequently has outbursts of temper if she loses a game. Then she tries all methods to win: trying and stack the deck, or changing the rules, or skipping spaces. I have spent a significant amount of time teaching her that it's fun just to play a game together, that you never know what will happen in a game, and that it's good sportsmanship to play fair, etc., etc.

Well, yesterday we were playing Candy Land. I kept winning over and over and over. Addie was taking it like a champ. She really kept it together, sighing when she would lose, but for the most part playing fair and being pleasant.

I really wanted her patience to pay off. I wanted her tolerance to be rewarded by a hard-won victory, fair-and-square. But her win never came. She put on a brave face, but I knew she was so disappointed.

On our last game, I thought she was going to pull it off. I was on the home stretch and she had just pulled the Princess Frostine card, putting her one space behind me. We were keeping pace down the straightaway. Then I pulled two doubles in a row, which put me three spaces from the finish. Addie kept pulling singles. I knew if she got one more double card, she'd make it to the finish for a win. I was on orange and was hoping for a single green or red, which would give her an extra turn. But as I began to pick up the next card, I saw it was a double. If I picked up that card, I'd win again...I paused and Addie said, "Come on, Mom, pick it up." Instead of taking the top card, I picked the third one down, a single red and took my turn. Addie picked the card I should have gotten and won the game. She was so happy! She repeated some of the phrases that I had used on her over the last months, "See, Mom? You just never know! It's fun to just play!"

I felt a teeny bit guilty that I had stacked the deck in her favor. After all my talk about playing fair and someone has to win and someone has to lose and how it's just nice to play a game together...I wanted her to win so badly that I cheated.

It is my hope that she didn't notice. I did it very quickly and we were talking of other things at the time, but I think she knows what I did. Was the reward of her being momentarily happy worth the potential "lesson" that cheating is okay? Or that she thinks she can't win on her own merits, that she can only win if someone rolls over for her?

Certainly this isn't the biggest parenting dilemma that I've faced, or will face, by a longshot. But, it's a dilemma nonetheless. Not even hindsight is giving me 20/20 this time. *sigh*

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

One More Post Before Bed

In our pre-kid days, Chris and I used to visit all kinds of creepy places. Neither of us is entirely sure if we 'believe' in ghosts, but we'd sure be interested in seeing one. Anyway, this photograph was taken inside Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadephia. ESP was a prison started by Quakers, who believed that solitary reflection would lead criminals to find their best selves.

The prison is now an historical site, and a way cool one at that! We spent hours there. All around the grounds are numbers placed in certain locations. You are given an MP3 player upon arrival and when you get to a spot with a number, you press it and get a recorded message about the significance of whatever you are viewing.

We didn't see any ghosts, but I got some stunning photographs, this being one of them.

Manic Mama, Signing On...

Well, here it is -- my first official blog!

Here are some topics you may read about here, because they are things I like and/or love and things that interest me:

The Kiddos
The Fam (some of whom shall remain nameless to protect the guilty...)
Wine and Food
Digital Scrapbooking
County Fairs
Life in the 'Burbs

You may also read about my hatred of Dell, Inc., their crappy products and pathetic customer service.

Sometimes I may write about politics, religion or social issues. If I offend you, it is not intentional, but this IS my blog...