Wednesday, November 29, 2006

We had fun up in the mountains over Thanksgiving – well mostly. My oldest looked good around the campfire, but was not thrilled with the lack of shower and hot tap water. The really dark night was also a bit creepy for her, but it did make for great star gazing.

Shortly after roasting the marshmallows, my youngest & I even saw a shooting star. We were unprepared for authentic s'mores, but found the toasted sugar puffs were tasty between two chocolate chip cookies. I've heard s'mores are good with peanut butter, but I haven't tried it yet. How do you make s'mores?

My son enjoyed his first real hunting trip, although this picture is about as close as he actually got to the guns. The hunting party we joined had “a buck hanging” when we arrived and he marveled at the butchering of it. My son only saw a couple of does, which were not considered fair game. It was fun to watch him soak up the experience.

We drove ATV's up to the top of the mountain. The view was spectacular. The weather was perfect. I even drove the nicest ATV, I called it a hillbilly Harley, up to the top. So fun!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jesus has been shattered. It happened this afternoon. I was washing some dishes when I heard it and said, “That sounds like something broke.”
My youngest, overwhelmed with sadness, had dropped the hand painted, porcelain baby Jesus onto our hard, tiled floor. She just stood there staring.

She was determined to heal the tiny savior, but Elmer's wasn't strong enough and there were simply too many little pieces. Neither could she bring herself to sweep him into the trash.

We weighed our options. She could call her grandma in Ohio and commission a replacement, which would not arrive in time for Christmas. That simply was too long a wait. We need Jesus now. So we've decided to go shopping for a new Jesus. Our old Jesus was too fragile. Besides that, he was blond. We need a much more durable, realistic Jesus for this family.

Monday, November 27, 2006

On Thanksgiving Day my family ditched the traditional sweet potato casserole and red jello and met up at the National Native American Museum. My daughters and their cousin stared up at the cool ceiling in the main hall and spun around until they couldn't walk. Can you see my family waving to me from the fourth floor?

On the second floor was a library with a trove of resources. My sister-in-law was able to find photos of her ancestors who really looked like her family. My kids enjoyed playing the computer games in the library with the fantastic view of the Capital. It would be a great place to do some research.

My youngest and I tried our hand at "weaving" little bracelets.

Before I went into the museum, I would have told you that I could name quite a few Indian Tribes. After spending a few hours in the collections, I would now tell you I only knew a very few tribes. I also can't help feeling a little sickened at the oppression wrought by my ancestors on these people. I'm so glad they are such proud survivors. They have so much beauty and wisdom to share.

Did you know that Native Americans, the folks that were here first, weren't even allowed to practice their own religion until 1934 - banned by the people who came here for religious freedom? I guess that "freedom of religion" was the freedom to worship the way the party in power worships. I guess we're a couple steps better than that now, but some days I don't think we've made much progress.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

In an implusive burst of holiday spirit, I bought ingredients for a fruitcake at the grocery store. I've never made one. I've experienced the concrete variety and I've tasted delicious ones.

Does anyone have a good recipe or website with one? (That's how impulsive I am sometimes: buying ingredients with no actual recipe in mind.)

We had a fun Thanksgiving weekend, but more on that later. Did everyone have fun? If not, do you have any good stories at least? I'll be making my round of blogs soon. I'm looking forward to catching up.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Real of fake? Which do you prefer?

I mean Christmas trees.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Leaf raking work out. Fortunately I don't have so many that I hate it. It's kinda zen-like. Are you sick of raking, or do you enjoy it a bit?

Today feels like Friday with no school tomorrow. Being the stay at home mom in the neighborhood, I'm the go-to girl for kid watching. I have a few extras scheduled for tomorrow and I'm sure I'll have a few bonus kids from the neighborhood. Even though it will be a loud day at my house, I'm glad kids feel comfortable here. I think I'd rather get my kids used to hanging here with their friends so when the teenage years hit hard, I'll see them more. That's the theory at least. They'll all be gone before I know it, so I try not to stress about busy kid days.

I helped in my 3rd grader's class today. It's fun to come in for art and story time. It's like being a grandparent: all the fun without the hassle of the responsibility.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My son attempted to change an air return vent cover for me. I thought it would be a simple job. He was working on it this morning. When I got out of the shower, I heard the pounding of a hammer and had to check out his methods. Obviously he had become frustrated not being able to sink the screws. I told him to drill holes first, or start in a different place. When I came back downstairs he had abandoned the project in frustration. I saw the kids onto the morning school bus and took a look at what I thought was going to be an easy task. Look carefully at the photo of his unfinished job. Do you recognize all the tools? The last tool he tried was his Harry Potter wand.
Isn't he a cutie?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

What do you guys thing about hunting?
I'm taking my kids for a weekend in the mountains. The guys in the party will be hunting deer. My son, who has no experience with this, will be accompanying the hunting party, although he will not carry a weapon due to his inexperience. I really can't take it back because he is so excited to go, even when I told him what time hunters begin their day.

I'm not planning to shoot any animals, although the target shooting was kind of fun. I will let my kids try that.

I'm thinking it will be a good experience, even if he hates it. Being entrenched in suburbia, my kids don't really have a feel for where their food actually comes from, not that we eat venison. I'm looking forward to some time in the quiet, dark mountains, regardless of the rustic conditions.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Talk about mixed messages.

Most often when I part company with my mother, especially if I am going somewhere unusal or with someone, my mom says,
"Don't do anything I wouldn't approve of!"
Be good."
She says this in a singsong kind of teasing way - especially when she knows I might be up to mischief.

Well, you'll never believe what she encouraged me to do today.

I assisted in the installation of a grab bar in her tub/shower. So Buck & I were in there, using all those tools. Can you imagine the double-entendres that are just way too easy? I'm not even writing them down.

So now when she says, "Don't do anything I wouldn't approve of," she has really lowered the "bar" for me!

I love you Mom!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Construction Girl was having a hard time behaving herself today. We were working on Anne's side gates, which posed several puzzles for "us" to solve. I bit my tongue a lot, but it's hard to do when you are talking about
loud screws
cheap screws
hot screws &
square screws.

"We" also fixed my sister's downed gutter, which had some hidden difficulties. But I don't think it'll come down again.


I was on the phone shortly after my daughter & her buddy came in from school. I thought they were setting out their homework, like they usually do. Instead, I found them scrubbing up rocks in the bathroom. When I asked why, they said they were selling them on e-bay.
Of course.
I'll let you know when the bidding begins.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I started an aerobics class tonight with my 13 year old daughter. I knew she'd love it, even if I am worried about my delicate knees (see Mom's blog: bad genes working against me!)
Well, we were happy to see our neighbor walk in as a student. Then the teacher arrived. It's the same teacher I had for years over 10 years ago! She remembered me and says hello to those of you who used to take her class with me. She's still as cute as ever.

So it was
out out in in
pony forward
knee knee double

Like riding a bike.
It was good to see my daughter enjoying herself.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Well, I don't know how well I have to do on the GRE to get in, but I'm happy with the initial reports on how I scored. I had to look it up because it isn't a straight 100% scale.

Perfect score is 800. Every answer wrong is 200. I got 730 on verbal and 550 on math. 550 is 50th percentile. Fortunatley I'm not applying for a degree in finance. I rely on my dad, the rocket scientist, my CPA friend in Boise, and my walking buddy, the HTML geek, to get me through the math portions of my life. There was also an essay portion that seemed simplistic, so hopefully that will boost my overall score.

I have no idea when I'll be notified of admission to Maryland's Grad school or not.

I didn't get to be Construction Girl at all today. Buck was kind enough to let my daughter & her buddy "help" him. (Buck's the same guy who cans pears and grows tomatoes. He's good, isn't he?)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Whew! Installing windows can be hard work. Buck chaperoned me as I installed a window almost entirely by myself. It was good to understand the entire process. For most of the rest of the windows, I prepped it and finished it, leaving the big middle to him. Wrapping the exterior trim with aluminum is the most time consuming part. Some of the trim was in bad shape, so I'm glad I didn't let it go longer. It was certainly easier when “we” could stand on the front porch. My daughter and her buddy got a little thrill out of it too. The new windows look so much nicer.

Caulking isn't as easy as it looks. My first attempt was a mess. It is tough to get it into the rounded crack of the trim work, plus my tired muscles and reaching up high made my hand shaky. The picture is not of my first attempt. My first attempt I had caulk up to my elbows. Buck was kind enough not to laugh his head off at me until I left the room. I felt like a kid “helping” mom cook.

I used the chisel, hammer, utility knife, and pry bar to remove the old trim, take out the old window, remove the plastic slides on the sides, and hammer in or pull out any leftover finishing nails. Oh yeah, and my old favorite, the end nippers were good for removing those too. I needed my pink toolbelt to switch off. No sawzall after all. And I couldn't operate the aluminum break without someone to anchor it down while I yanked the handle into place, so I didn't do the metal bending either.

The blurry picture of him is blurry because I leaned out my window just a hair too far and scared myself. gheez! So much to learn!

Buck estimated he could do 4 windows a day by himself. We did 6 together on Saturday. Woohoo! The upstairs is done. They are so nice!

I can't help him tomorrow (Monday) though because I'll be taking that GRE finally. Cross your fingers for me!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I have been window shopping in the most literal sense today. This picture isn't even the whole pile.

My windows are old wooden ones that have been drafty for years. But the job is expensive. So I was lucky to make a kickass friend this summer who is helping me install them. OK, that is a stretch, I am helping him install them, like Dora to David Copperfield. But what a friend, huh?

Fortunately, the weather has been beautiful. Bodes well for a Construction Girl Revival Meeting. If you hear any “wahoos” from up here, it's probably me with the aluminum break – or the sawzall.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Have you ever tried to put ear drops in a cat?
Boy, are those guys an impulse purchase I regret!

Monday, November 06, 2006

I took my kids on a field trip to Philadelphia today. It was a bit spur of the moment, and lots of fun. I bet if I had planned it out better, it wouldn't have been so perfect. It was warm in the sun, but cool enough to use the furry blanket on the handsome cab ride around Independence Square. (I was relieved the driver had not recently come into a large quantity of Beefarino.) As we passed Independence Hall, the birthplace of our nation, my kids said, “Wow, Mom. I can't believe that right here they filmed National Treasure.” Oh well. I try.

We pitched two pennies on Ben Franklin's grave for good luck. I heard two pennies were the luckiest since he said “A penny saved is a penny earned.” He set up a library in Philadelphia. It cost 2 pennies to take out a book and you got one back upon its return. The grave had a lot of pennies on it. Probably overdue fines.

In Constitution Hall, I couldn't keep those frisky Declaration signers to leave me alone. I didn't realize how many of them were about my age in 1776. They were a very do-able group ;-) Fortunately someone had the good idea of bronzing them.

We ended at the City Tavern, built and frequented by our founding fathers in 1773. There was rabbit, duck, and venison on the menu among other delicious options. I wasn't in the spirit to try rabbit. Besides, I was still full from my lunch of a Philly cheese steak.

I was thinking I'd double duty and use this restaurant for my other blog. Who ever heard of a restaurant critic with three kids? When my youngest was running her finger through the candle flame, she crashed my iced tea to the floor. Later she picked the crispy sugar off her crème brulee and put patches of it on the back of her hand and pretended they were scabs. My son used the cinnamon stick in his hot cider like a kazoo. It's not always easy to pull off professional in my life.
Last night I enjoyed a cozy little family game night with the kids. We made s'mores in the fire place and drank hot chocolate. Have you ever played "Apples to Apples?" For those of you who haven't, you win by collecting the most adjective cards, so it is perfect for a former English teacher like me. I thought the collections were amusing last night. When we quit playing to watch "Extreme(-ly sappy) House Make Over," these were our adjectives.

my son - old & dangerous
my youngest daughter - tiny & misunderstood
Peggy - pretty, calm, & ordinary
Peggy's daughter - fabulous, loud, & important
me - expensive, creative, & hard

What three adjectives would describe you?

Friday, November 03, 2006

I've had pizza on the brain recently due to this press release I wrote for Ledo's Restaurant. I've been at the restaurant, watching the Oprah episode, going to viewing parties, and watching the stat counter on the press release and their website jump off the hook. It has been so fun, even if a little fattening. Last night my last thoughts falling asleep were “smoked provolone.”

So today at the deli, I was intrigued when the woman ahead of me ordered a hunk of smoked provolone. I live in such a friendly town. I just asked her, “Excuse me, but could you tell me what prompted you to order smoked provolone today?” She happily explained that she's a fan of the cooking channels and Oprah and she had just seen this thing on Oprah. I was delighted! We talked about Ledo's and how I was given the opportunity to write a local press release for it. The guy working the deli gave her a sample of the cheese which she share with me. I ended up ordering some too. I think those guys at Ledo's are onto something. It has just been fun to be part of the buzz.

What are your favorite toppings? Favorite cheeses for homemade pizza?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Did I ever mention that I hate Science Fairs?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cheetah Mama's Growl Power!