Thursday, July 31, 2008

No vacation this year

My favorite place to go in the summer is to my hometown, Wheeling, WV. We usually stay for 4-6 days. I get to eat my favorite Di Carlos' Pizza, stuff myself with pepperoni rolls, take my kids to my favorite local park, play mini golf and go paddle boating. We go the Cabela's and look at the fish and other animals & do some shopping.  We get to visit my parents and my brother & his family. My kids get to play with their cousins for several days and we usually all go to the Good Zoo.  The last couple of years my folks have rented a cabin at Oglebay Park for all of us & before that we crowded into their small house, that used to belong to my grandparents.

This year though, we don't get to go. My parents now spend 11 months a year in Florida instead of 8-9. So they sold the house to my uncle and rent an efficiency apartment for a month while they are in town.  My dad organizes a couple baseball tournaments in July and he has to be there or they probably would just stay in Florida apart from occasional week long visits here & there. 4 additional people will not fit into an efficiency apartment (especially one that shares a kitchen with another apartment). There are no cabins available at Oglebay due to a golf tournament and no hotel rooms in a 50 mile radius due to those baseball tournaments and Jamboree in the Hills.  July is a busy month for the tourist industry in Wheeling and like it or not I am now officially a tourist. I have no 'home'  there any longer.  I have to start making reservations in January for our July visit.

My parents are coming here in August, on their way to Florida, and will stay a few days, so at least we will get to see them. We'll see my brother's family at Xmas. But this means I will have to go 2 WHOLE YEARS with no Di Carlos pizza. I'm seriously bummed about the pizza.  I love that pizza.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Not quite wordless Wednesday

I've been scanning photos from my childhood.  This was taken on Easter Sunday in 1978.  I was 11, my brother was 8. If you know my brother, ask him about the suit.


My hair looked 'good' in this photo. Or so I thought at the time.....

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Finished a crochet project at last!

I've been working on these amigurumi dinosaurs since June.  I'm fast enough crocheting the wider parts but I'm not so good when the circle is only 8 stitches around.

This is the brachiosaur and the stegosaurus I made.



The stegosaurus is my own pattern creation.  I got the brachiosaur pattern from Claudia Vodermaier.  My dino does not include the back ridges because I was informed by my 4 year old "Brachiosaurs don't have plates Mama!" The boys like them though.  Havoc already has the brachiosaur fighting fires at the castle with the knights. (it has such a long neck it can blow mouthfulls of  water over the ramparts)

I'm going to remake both of them, with some adjustments, in pink and yellow for my nieces. The brachiosaur's neck will be a couple stitches wider & slightly shorter & his body a maybe a couple of stitches narrower, plus I'll include the ridges.  The stegasaur will be bigger all over.

But first I have to make a triceratops

Monday, July 28, 2008

Let's play pretend

Pretend is a game I never get tired of playing - even when I know I really should stop. Even when I know I am doing nobody, least of all myself, any favors by continuing to pretend.

I've always played pretend. It didn't become a problem until I was 14 and took an interest in this boy. He was one of those dark, moody types who read obscure philosophers and wrote deep, tragic poetry. I was in love with him so I pretended to be dark and moody and to love philosophy. I pretended I knew what he was talking about and I pretended his poetry 'spoke to my soul'. But I'm a basically cheerful person who doesn't think she is being persecuted, and his poetry sucked. We broke up at some point, probably because I was desperate for a laugh.

Later in high school I dated a guy who was a punk, in a new wave sort of way. I pretended I loved punk music (I like it but it was the 80's and I was more of a Bon Jovi girl) and I loved his blue mohawk (which felt like sandpaper) and that I was angry at the world (See 'basically cheerful person'). That ended when I chose to go to a Duran Duran concert instead of sneaking into a bar to see some local punk band.

I dated semi-athletic frat guys for most of my college years. For them I pretended to love football, rugby, baseball, boating body surfing, skiing, and sex in unusual outdoor places (fire escapes for instance). I pretended that spending a day engaged in some athletic activity, followed by drinking excessively all night and then getting up with no sleep and doing some more vigorous athletic activity was my idea of a good time. (actually I was just there for the drinks & possibly I had a teensy self-esteem problem). I'm not athletic, I don't like watching or playing sports. These relationships ended for a variety of reasons that I can't recall now, though they all seemed terribly important and life altering at the time.

Why did I pretend so much? Two reasons.

First I believed "love him, love his interests", as did most of my friends. If you didn't love everything he loved, you must not really love him. (I never expected him to take up crochet, nobody did, this was one way devotion). Second I believed "fake it until you make it", the theory that if you pretend to like something & do it as though you like it, eventually you will actually like it. This theory has some rather large holes in it in my experience but it took 10 years of dating and then a few more years of experience before I was willing to admit that. And of course, if I loved what he loved, then he would love me even more. Right?

I finally met a guy who liked mostly the same things I did. I wasn't always as into some things as he was, but I didn't have to pretend. He was very into things like recycling, reclaiming, cleaning up the environment - very green before it was called green. I was into it too, not as much, but I was happy to participate in recycling collections and cleaning highways. It was a serious relationship. He was a year ahead of me and as his graduation came closer we began talking about the future. He'd get a job, we'd see each other on weekends and when I graduated we'd get engaged. Then he decided to be the change he wanted to see in the world and joined the Peace Corps. I pretended I was fine with that. I was not thrilled, but I accepted he really wanted to do it. I also spent a few months pretending I was the sort of person who was happy with a long distance relationship that held out no hope of seeing one another for 2 solid years, even though I knew damn well I was not that sort of person at all.

I met my husband a few months later. He and I had a great deal in common. We liked enough of the same books, the same shows, the same food, the same music, with enough differences to be individuals, that I never felt the need to pretend. Except for camping. He really like camping. I loath camping. I pretended to be ok with camping for a few years (I cannot pretend to like camping, despite years of pretending experience). Then I pretended that camping "is not the first summer activity that came to mind" followed by "ok, I'm not that fond of camping" and then the honesty - I really don't like camping. It only took me 8 years of a relationship to admit that.

Eleven years later I am back to pretending I like things males like. Also, as a parent it is important that I provide a good example. So I pretend I like vegetables I don't like and that I find knock knock jokes funny. Someday, hopefully soon, my sons will be old enough to understand you can love someone and not love everything they love. I would be doing them a disservice if I pretend too long.

This confession is brought to you by My Confessions Monday. Head over and take a look at what other crazy things people have done in the name of love.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 is launching tomorrow!

or possibly today, depending on when you are reading this. Check them out. There are some great prizes to be won & some great blogs & boutiques to visit.


“Hey BlogoSphere! MomDot is so excited about our launch! We had been working hard to get going for August 1st, but with all the amazing support of mom boutiques and mom bloggers, we are ready to get the Party Started! We want you to come every day starting on July 28th with the party ending on August 31st, including prizes daily and feature bloggers, just in time to bang out the end of summer and into the school year. Don’t forget to list your blog for free and connect with other mommies on our forum!”

Weekly Winners July 20-26

I've gotten out of the habit of posting my Project 365 photos here, but today I visited Sarcastic Mom's website and saw her Weekly Winners post. She is an awesome photographer, stop by & check her photos out. I'm not such a good photographer but I'm working on it. These are my favorite photos from this week.

Thursday was the Allosaurs' birthday. They had banana muffins for their party. This is what happens when you run out of muffins at a dino party.


It was a pool party & the dinos were not happy to have to wait 30 minutes to get in the pool after eating their muffins.


Dino pool party


This guy got put on time out for too much splashing


We had a butterfly visit earlier in the week


DH and the boys playing "pillow volcano"


Saturday, July 26, 2008

What $4.38 will get you at Target

The boys and I went to Target last night before meeting DH for dinner. They have been hoarding the loose change they find around the house and finally felt they had 'enough monies' to go shopping. Havoc had $1.56 and Mayhem had $2.82. They were hoping for some Legos or Hulk themed toys, or failing that a couple Take Along Thomas Trains. I did explain to them that most things cost much more than the $4.38 combined that they had. I tried to help them understand that they couldn't afford those things, that maybe they should be thinking about things from the 99 cent bins or the $1.99 bins, but they don't trust me to know how much things actually cost. (They don't trust me to know there are no cookies left either and always insist on seeing the inside of the jar) We walked up and down every toy aisle in Target, except the 'girl stuff' one. They pointed things out to me and I told them how much the things cost. They were not at all happy to learn that Mommy was right (and I may as well get used to that now). There was much wailing & whining as my litany of " 14 dollars, 28 dollars, 12 dollars" went on and on. At last we came to the random cheap toy aisle, many of the already cheap toys were even further marked down. We looked at a variety of sandbox toys, squirt guns and various plastic animals before they made their choices.

Here is what you can get for $4.38 at target

48 plastic army menOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

48 plastic knightsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

12 'hand painted dinosaur replicas'OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I'm sure I don't have to mention I am just DELIGHTED to now have 108 more tiny plastic things to step on in my house.

The boys are happy though. They feel they got value for their money.

************Dinner Score************

Friday - dinner at IHop. Havoc had chicken, Mayhem had grilled cheese.

Both ate main meal & ignored fries

Saturday - grilled chicken & sweet potatoes, salad and mac & cheese

Mayhem ate everything (I'm shocked!). Havoc ate mac & cheese and a bite of everything else


Friday, July 25, 2008

Summer Reading - round 4

There are entirely too many library books checked out right now. We currently have so many library books out that they don't all fit on the 'library book' shelf. I'm going to have to start setting limits, maybe just 7-8 books each.

This time we checked out:

  1. Hooway for Wodney Wat
  2. Score One for the Sloths
  3. The Wingdingdilly
  4. Captain Underpants and the Big Bad Battle of the Bionic Booker Boy - books 1 & 2
  5. Discovering Dinosaurs with a Fossil Hunter
  6. Plaeteosaurus
  7. Dooby Dooby Moo
  8. The Jungle Baseball Game
  9. How I Became a Pirate
  10. Pirates Don't Change Diapers
  11. Ornithomimus
  12. Safari
  13. Dinosaur Dinosaur
  14. Dinosaurs
  15. All Aboard the Dinotrain
  16. The Big Book of Dinosaurs
  17. Berestain Bears Count Their Blessings
  18. Berestain Bears and Mama's Day

The dino theme is still going strong with Mayhem, all those dino books were his selections. Havoc picked the others. Plus we have about 10 books that didn't get returned because they want to read them again.

************Dinner Score******************

Wednesday - roast chicken, spinach salad & flatbread

Both boys ate a bite or 2 of chicken & salad and all their bread

Thursday - spaghetti with spinach alfredo

Havoc picked at it, claiming it smelled funny. Mayhem ate it all


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dino muffins

Havoc has informed me that today is the allosaurus' birthday. (We have about 20 plastic dinosaurs, 2 are allosaurs). They are 26 today and they would like banana muffins at their party. The orange crocodile was content with Cheerios at his party last month but I suppose allosaurs think big.

I made muffins with the help of Havoc, Mayhem and 2 allosaurs.


(the lighting in my kitchen sucks in the morning)

There has never been such a mess making muffins before. Those allosaurs need to learn to control their tails. Melted butter got knocked over, the 'wet stuff' bowl had stuff sloshed out of it, molasses seeped slowly across the counter and pureed banana splattered everything when Havoc took the lid off the mixer too soon. Usually I just get flour all over the place. Other issues include - melted butter instead of softened butter, plus spilling it so it wasn't actually 1/2 cup, more yogurt than the recipe calls for, probably not enough flour due to humidity and an unknown quantity of pureed banana because Mayhem dumped it in before I measure it. We were also out of mini chocolate chips - I'm looking at you DH - so I have to use regular ones & they don't distribute as well.

Despite all the issues though they turned out well.


Happy Birthday Allosaurs!

Here is the recipe for the muffins

Banana Yogurt Muffins

1 2/3 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup really very soft butter

2/3 cup natural bran (or crushed Bran Flakes)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or mini chips or both combined

1 egg

2/3 cup pureed bananas

1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 Tblsp molassas

Preheat your oven to 375

Mix the flour, baking soda & baking powder together. Add the really very soft butter and stir it in gently until the mix is all crumbly. Stir in the bran, nuts and chips.

In another bowl mix the egg, bananas, yogurt, brown sugar & molasses together. Add to the dry ingredients and stir gently until just blended.

Spoon into 12 lined muffin cups, bake for 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Importance of Taking Turns

Last week we were at the museum. We'd been there about 25 minutes or so, just leaving the dinosaur fossils and headed into the mammal section, when suddenly a small girl of about 4 comes running through and down the ramp. She was wailing/squealing in that way small children do when they are having a blast but know that they are BIG trouble when they get caught. Running after her was her mother, shouting the things mom shout in this situation. "STOP! You stop right now! Stand still!! I said STOP!!" She caught the girl right next to us and started in on the rest of the mom speech "I told you to stop. I told you to stay next to Mommy & Daddy. There is no running in here. We don't run indoors. There are too many people. You could get lost. You need to listen to the rules. If I have to chase you down again we are leaving." in that tone you get when you are frightened your child will be lost or hurt and angry that they are not listening to you. Stern Mom Voice. As she lead her whining child off I leaned over to DH and said "It's her turn today." and he replied "Well we can relax then."

I used to worry about being *that mom*. You know, the one with *that child* in the store. The child you could hear 2 aisles over crying and wailing for something, the one with the exasperated mother saying tensely "Stop whining. I said no!" Those people? Havoc was a colicky baby. He cried nearly all the time. Grocery store trips were hell until he was about 8 months old and I learned he would happily munch on a plum while I shopped. Then I was *that mom who let her kid eat the unwashed fruit she hadn't paid for yet* in the grocery store. I did always take a plum to the checkout and insist on paying for it & letting them keep it. The plum trick stopped working when he was about 14 months old and had added some words to his vocabulary - WANT and THAT and NO!  He'd much rather express himself than eat a plum.

Then his brother was born. Mayhem was placid enough, unless Havoc was upset. If Havoc was whining, Mayhem had to join in. Removing just Havoc from the store had been enough of a problem. Removing Havoc and Mayhem was darn near impossible because most of the time, the whining and wailing began after I had stood in the check out line for some times and had finally reached a point where I was unloading groceries onto the belt. Maybe I am a terrible person, making others suffer through the wailfest, but while I am perfectly willing to leave a cart in the pasta aisle & haul small noisy beings outside until they calm down, I am not willing to reload the cart, get out of line, move the cart out of the way and then remove the noisemakers and then get BACK into line, only for it to start over again because Havoc wanted to put the olives on the belt & I didn't realize it and had put them on the belt myself. 

Then I got sick. I developed bronchitis when Mayhem was 2 months old and it lingered for 9 months. Most days I was just too miserable to care and would push the kids around Wal Mart beating myself up inside about what I lousy mother I was, what a poor excuse for a human being I was, not teaching my kids how to behave in public, making these innocent people suffer listening to the wailing of my children. But I was sick and tired and damn it I needed milk.  I didn't have the energy to keep walking in and out of the store. I was about 3 months into this when one day the wailing began and it took me a minute to realize that it wasn't coming from my cart. Someone else's child was wailing! OH RAPTURE! it wasn't just me!!! I heard the mother say in a tone I knew all too well "I said NO! You cannot have the cookies. Put the cookies down! 1....2...PUT THE COOKIES DOWN." and something somewhere inside me said "It's not your turn today."

It's not my turn today..... you mean, it isn't all about me? Other people are involved in this? Other people can be *that mother*? It's a big worldwide game that all parents get to play. We all get a chance to be *that parent* with *that child* in the store, the restaurant, the airport, the museum. But unlike the games of our own childhood, no one wants to be *it*. We spend a lot of time & effort making sure we are not *it*.  But inevitably, our turn does come around.  Usually shortly after we make some statement that starts "My child would never....".

The idea that this is just a single incident, just my turn today, and not an overall indictment of my parenting has helped me come to terms with my children's occasionally forays into unsocial behavior. It's made me stress about them less, made me less tense before we go into the store and better able to cope in the middle of the situation. "This isn't proof that my child is a little maniac. It's just my turn today." It's made me notice more the occasions when my children behave well (which, honestly, is the majority of the time, but because there was that period where it was all miserable, I sometimes don't notice when it is good) It's made smile at mothers who's children are acting up, who are whining and grabbing things off the shelf. "Ah, it's your turn today.  Don't worry, it will be someone else's turn tomorrow."

So if your child is acting up in public and you see me looking at you, please know I am not judging you. I am not mentally commenting on your parenting skills or lack thereof. I am looking at you with sympathy and relief. I'm sorry it's your turn & glad it's not mine this time. But I know my turn is coming.  Probably Saturday, when we go out to dinner.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I will let them make their own choices

But I will still offer advice and in the case of 5 year olds insisting on wearing jeans, a heavy hoody AND a jacket outside when it is 96 degrees and sweltering with humidity, I will probably put my foot down and insist they change or stay inside.

Am I stifling their creative minds, that are just beating to a different drummer, or am I saving them from unconsciousness and possible death? Does the one outweigh the other. Judging by what I saw at the park yesterday, I'm guessing it is a matter of opinion.

Seriously, would you let your 5 year old run around an unshaded park in unbearable humidity and burning sun wearing jeans, snowboots, a sweatshirt and a denim jacket because he dressed himself & you didn't want to interfere with his freedom of expression? I've let my kids be seen in public in some decidedly odd outfits because they did the choosing, but I do insist on at least marginally weather appropriate wear. No flip flops in the snow and no snowsuits when the heat index is over 100.

The kid was really grumpy the whole time & looked like he was ready to pass out at any moment, sweat was pouring off of him & he was red in the face.  He was still playing when we left though so I guess maybe I'm just over cautious about clothing.

But I'm still not letting Havoc out of the house in his hoodie and jacket in the middle of summer.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's wasn't about the beer - honestly.

Today is my birthday!  I am 41.  41 is a rather dull birthday year, coming right after the big 4-0 and before the Ultimate Answer (42).  There really isn't much to say about it except - nope, no perimenopause yet.

However, exactly 20 years ago was my favorite birthday year, the year I turned 21. There is more background story to why my 21st birthday was my favorite than just the alcohol I was now allowed to consume. There is the drama of offers made and reneged on repeatedly in the years prior to my birthday. While drinking is the focus of the story, it was never really about the drinking. It was about the sheer irritation and annoyance of constantly having the metaphoric rug pulled out from under you.

The drinking age in West Virginia as of January 1985 was 18.  Yes, that is right, 18. The nationwide push to raise the drinking age back up to 21 was gaining steam but my home state had been holding out. They made a token gesture though around April or so. The state government announced that as of July 1st you had to be 19 to buy alcohol, and they very kindly added a grandfather clause, if you were 18 by June 30, you could still drink. So anyone born before July 1, 1967 was legally allowed to purchase beer and liquor.  I was born on July 20th.  Missed it by *that* much. I, and everyone else born in the second half of 1967 were pissed. What made people born in June more responsible than us? That's just mean!

Not that the majority of us had any trouble getting alcohol when we wanted it. Unless you looked really young, you rarely got carded.  I looked really young. It isn't that I wanted to drink specifically. Had I wanted a beer, there were some in the fridge at home I could have with my parents full permission. It was that something I regarded as a right was being taken from me.

So ok, fine, I'll wait a year. I'm a freshman at WVU, which then the #1 party school in the nation, obtaining alcholic beverages is not a problem. We had keggers and grape & grain parties in the dorm rooms and I was a pledge at AOTT, the number one party sorority on campus. Not drinking was a bigger problem actually.

Then word came down from above (the national government) to the state "You will raise your drinking age to 21 or we cut off your highway money." WV is a mountainous state. We need our federal highway money to keep the roads driveable. So the state legislature caved in and said on August 1st 1986, you will have to be 21 to buy alcohol. And they didn't grandfather it!!! There was no fine print reading "must be born on or before July 31, 1967" this time. You must be 21. Period.

What this meant for me was that I was legally allowed to drink for 11 days and then at midnight on the 12th day it was all over.  I know people who stockpiled beer and wine coolers in those last couple of weeks of July because it would be 2 more years before they could get any. The new drinking age also brought more rigorous ID checking. So everyone who's fake ID said they were 19 now had to go get a new, better, more realistic ID that said they were 21. I got one. Not especially because I wanted to drink but social life was in bars and at frat parties & they now had to check your ID.

Honestly, I've never much cared for beer. I was more of a wine cooler girl. But bars never offered 25 cent wine cooler nights.

I was again irritated and annoyed by this change in the drinking age because one again I was being denied a right. Not only that, I was losing one I ALREADY HAD! It could have been the driving age, the voting age - it wouldn't have mattered. I would have been pissed at the way I was being yanked around for any of them.

Early in 1988 I began to be nervous. Were they going to do it again? Would they find some reason to raise the drinking age to 22 or 25 this time? Once again the carrot was being dangled in front of me. Would I at last be able to grab and keep it?

They left it alone. Finally!  To celebrate my long awaited, lost and regained legality I had a tequila party. It might not sound like a big deal but for a bunch of people who's budgets usually ran to 25 cent draft night, buying bottles of Jose Cuervo was highly significant. We had shots, margaritas, tequila sunrises and something called a prickly pear that involved pineapple juice. We ate nachos, burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, and quesidillas. It was a great party and my favorite birthday year ever.

So far.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Summer jobs

I had a summer job all through my teen years. It was the same job, except for one memorable year.

When I was 13 I started working in the concession stand at the lake of a local park. We sold pop, pizza, hot dogs, popcorn, ice cream and crackers. We also rented out peddleboats and clubs for mini golf. During festivals and large gatherings I would spend hours making cotton candy.  I was paid a whole $1.20 an hour that first year.  I was earning a whopping $3.35 my last year there, when I was 19. There was a core group of us who were there every year and we had a lot of fun those summers.

When I was 18 I got a job at Walt Disney World for the summer. I sold ice cream at Epcot Center. It was the first time I had ever been really far away from home by myself. It was very exciting but I missed my friends back at the lake.  They wrote me group letters and I sent them postcards (this was back before email & the internet).

The following year I was back at the lake for one last summer. We had a lot of parties that year.

After that my jobs lost their seasonality. The pizza restaurants, bars and retail shops I worked at in college are open year round & I had summer school, so I couldn't come home to work anymore.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Now this is a conference I can get behind

Apparently I am not the only person in the world not attending CHA in Chicago or BlogHer in SF this weekend. Who knew? Swistle has come up with a wonderful idea for a low pressure, very relaxing Blogger Conference complete with no early morning events. Check it out!
Swistle: Blogstle

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Adventures in day tripping

Adventure 1 - Getting Out of the Driveway - The day began much as I expected it would - with a late start due to numerous last minute things. The big one was refilling the car's air conditioner with freon or whatever comes in this can you hook up to a valve on the a/c unit.  My car a/c leaks and the repair was not part of the $2200 worth of work done last month.  This refill stuff costs $24 or so a can and lasts 4-5 months at a time, much cheaper than repair.

Adventure 2 - Parking the Car - Eventually we get the a/c filled, the DVD player hooked up, everyone visits the bathroom one last time - again and we take off. We did miss most of the traffic, as planned, despite parts of the minor highway being blocked off for repair.  There was the usual slow down just before the first metro station. There always is a big slow down, if not complete stop, there. It's almost as if people are driving along at their usual 65MPH when all of the sudden SSCCRREEECCHHH!!! Holy shit! When did they put that metro station there!! and pause while everyone slows down to look at it. That metro station has been there for 15 years. I'm not sure what the shocker is but we all crept by & looked at it slowly for almost 10 minutes.  Naturally that station's parking lot was full. But they didn't put a sign out to tell you so. We drove around the 5 story lot, along with a few other cars, up and down the rows, avoiding the rows the other cars were driving down. There was nothing, but it took us 15 minutes to be sure.  As we were leaving we saw them hauling out the 'lot full' signs. They did have some metered parking available but since we are the sort of people who never have cash, we certainly don't have quarters. We did drive around briefly looking for a bank or something but by the time we spotted one we were 2 more stations in and this one had open spaces in it's lot. The problem with this one was they only accept MetroSmart cards as payment. We'd never heard of such a thing.  We did ascertain that they could be purchased with out metro tickets, so we parked the car at last. Parking problems caused us a hour delay in our plans.

Adventure 3 - The Metro - Is it $3.35 a trip per person or is it $1.85 and the kids are free? Or is just Mayhem free? It's off peak according to the sign so why did that official tell those people it was $3.35? The SmartCards are $5, does that mean you have to put $5 on them or are they $5 just for the card and then you put money on them? Despite all the confusion about it, we only ended up with 90 cents leftover on our various cards & tickets but I still have no idea how much anything cost.

The boys loved the ride! I think they found it much more exciting than the ride with Thomas a couple months ago (and there was no urban blight in sight).  They counted down the stations and asked questions about the announcements and how fast we were going. They even stayed back from the edges when we were waiting for trains.

Adventure 4 - The Natural History Museum - Mayhem was overwhelmed! he kept saying "I so ess-eye-ted" and wanting to see the next thing. He was so eager to see everything, he couldn't stop and look at anything. We had to constantly ask him to slow down and to try and get him to focus on what we were looking at right then. naturalhist008

Havoc was enjoying himself as well, but was more restrained about it. He was willing to examine things and ask questions about them, but he was eager to see the cave people and the mammoths.  They both enjoyed the geology area.



We gave Havoc our old digital camera and let him take some photos. He liked the fossils best.




I am 99% sure I took more photos than were on my camera.  I know I took photos in the mammals area but there were none on my camera when I downloaded them.  Odd. 

We had a picnic lunch on the Mall and had a snack in the museum cafe.  The boys each bought a souvenir chomping dino head on a stick


Adventure 4 - The Journey Home - We beat the rush out of the city fairly well. It wasn't until Metro Station that we encountered crowded trains. There were few slow downs on the drive into the ends of the suburbs. We were able to take advantage of the HOV lanes and that helped.  We found a shopping plaza with a Borders, a sports store & an Olive Garden. I bought 3 books, the guys looked at camping stuff and we all had a nice dinner.  The boys watched Chased by Dinosaurs on the ride home.

Adventure 5 - Repairing the Toy - A mile from our house, Mayhem's dino head snapped off it's stick. I have no idea how it happened.  Mayhem could only shriek and wail and repeat "Sorry sorry sorry" and "I didn't mean to break it" over and over again.  Poor little kid. His heart was as broken as the toy. He sobbed and cried for over half an hour.  I felt so bad for him.  Little kids feel things so intently. We tried to fix it but naturally we had no glue for plastics in the house. We'd bought some back in December but it's disappeared. DH and I both thought the other had used it last so God only knows where it is.  Today I went to WM and bought some glue. The problem is it is a thin hollow plastic tube that snapped in 2.  There isn't enough surface area for the glue to adhere. It's right up by the head so taping it together isn't a lasting solution. I glued it, let the glue set for a half hour or so and then duct taped it together as much as possible. It's still wobbly but Mayhem can play with it - sort of.

All in all it was a good trip. We're going to repeat it in April and maybe include the Air & Space Museum as well.

This time we'll bring quarters.

Monday, July 14, 2008

12 hours away from home requires 7 bags of stuff

Shhhh... you didn't see me type this, because I don't want to jinx it, but assuming nothing dire happens at the office in the next 36 hours, DH is taking Wednesday off. We're headed to the metropolis 2 hours away. We're going to take the boys to the Natural History Museum so they can see actual dinosaur bones. Just getting there should be quite an adventure for them. We're rural folks & to get to the metropolis we have to drive through the bedroom communities, the exurbs, the suburbs and then get on the Metro and take it into the mysterious 'downtown'.  Our county's main 'town' has a half mile long street, with no cross streets as it's downtown. The larger town in the next county over has a cross street but we tend to stick to things on the edge of that town because the traffic is so bad at that stoplight.  So you can imagine what a thrill the boys are in for - bumper to bumper traffic on 8 lane highways! (ok, I admit they have sat in honest to God traffic before on I75 when we visit my folks, but not 8 lane traffic). Not to mention the vast number of city dwellers and tourists alike that we will encounter on the Metro and at the museum.

The plan is to leave at 8am, thereby catching the tail end of commuter traffic shortly before we reach the start of the Metro (ensuring that we will find no parking at the first 3 stations), park the car, hike the enormous distance to the station, keep the boys from falling onto the track, board the train, change trains, arrive at the nearest to the museum, walk in sweltering heat & humidity to the museum and then spend the next 3-5 hours exploring in air conditioned joy. Repeat the process backwards on the trip home, hopefully catching the beginning of the evening rush until we reach the end of the exurbs, then pull into whatever shopping complex we can find featuring big box electronic & book stores (for the novelty of browsing in them), shop, have dinner & then join the tail end of the commuter traffic and go home.

I have been making lists of things to take with us, so far we have a bag with the portable DVD player & some DVDs for the kids to watch, a bag with my latest crochet project to keep me occupied, one backpack/purse each to hold food, drink, camera, video, maps, phones, wallets, ipod, notebook, crayons, coloring books and a change of clothes for the boys. Last we have the 'miscellaneous' bag that has wipes, paper towels, reuseable grocery bags, umbrellas, flashlight and a clean towel (because I have to know where my towel is). Only the backpacks come with us to the Metro but still.... I'm only missing a couple suitcases to be ready for a 10 day trip.

This is a milestone trip for us. It is the first time we have ever taken the boys anywhere that involves a lot of walking without a stroller. They outgrew the stroller the summer before last and we just didn't go anywhere last summer because we knew they weren't up to walking all over the aquarium or Ren Fest (and we certainly didn't want to carry them).  I'll be interested to see how it goes. It's a short walk to the museum from the train so most of their walking will be in the museum, which has plenty of places to sit.

They are excited to see the museum and to be having a picnic there. They will be carrying their own food in their backpacks & they feel very grown up because of that. They want to bring a bunch of food but I suspect once they put on their packs they will change their minds.  With any luck they will exhaust themselves and nap nicely through the worst of the traffic on the way home. I'm excited to see them seeing the museum & I'm looking forward to it myself.  I must admit though my second thought on planning this trip was "add stopping at a bookstore on the way home to itinerary".  I haven't been in a bookstore in months! 

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It'll grow back

I had my hair cut yesterday.  I think she cut it too long. I realize that I am probably the one woman in 10 who would say something like that. "it's just hair, it will grow back" has been my mantra since I was 27.

I told her I wanted a couple inches cut off and she gave me that look stylist give women who say things like that. The look that says "You mean millimeters don't you?" because most women really do mean millimeters. She held up my hair and said "a couple of inches would be about here"; just to make sure I understood what she thought of when she heard 'a couple of inches'. I replied "Better make it 3 inches. I need all the damage off". We talked a bit more about just how short my well below the shoulders length hair would end up being once all the layers & things were done & I reassured her. "Even if it's shorter than I'm thinking, it's just hair. It'll grow back."  She seemed relieved by that.  I can understand why.

I would imagine that stylists encounter the "I didn't mean for it to be so short" problem almost daily. A quick informal poll of the women I know reveals that 95% of them are not entirely honest about just how not short they want they hair trimmed. They think they are. They are saying things, but not the things they really mean. And when the stylist doesn't read their mind to find the correct interpretation, they tell everyone they know that the stylist did a bad job without perhaps all the details of the conversation.

"I said I wanted a couple inches off, by that I meant millimeters"

"I said I wanted some layering, I meant don't cut my hair any shorter"

"I said I needed a trim, I meant get rid of the split ends without actually making my hair any shorter."

Don't believe me? Watch What Not to Wear sometime. What is the number one thing almost every one of those women is most afraid of? Not having thier clothing choices mocked on national tv. Not shopping for bras and thongs while millions tune it. No, they are afraid the hair stylist is going to CUT THEIR HAIR. And he is. It's going to be noticeably shorter than it was and probably a different color as well.

All this makes it quite difficult for those who actually want a decent amount of their medium length hair cut off, to get the results they want. The stylist, with knowledge from experience, doesn't believe us when we say 2-3 inches off because they think we've never actually held a ruler up to our hair and seen just how much that is. Or when we point to our mid neck and say "about to here"., they are sure we THINK we want that but faced with the reality we will go off about it being TOO SHORT. They have seen these things happen too many times to take such statements at face value. I don't blame them either.

If I regularly went to a stylist I'm sure we'd come to terms on this. She would, with time, come to realize that I know how much 3 inches of hair is and if I say cut it, I mean cut it. Problem is, I don't get my hair cut that often.  This is possibly the second time this year I have had it done.  I never remember where I went or who did it last time.

I did end up with something close to what i want. It's a bit longer than what I had in mind but since this was more of a damage control issue, rather than a desire for a specific hair style, I can live with it. If I want it shorter I can go back & have her trim some more off. And if I don't like, it'll grown back, it's just hair.

Just for the record, in case I do manage 2 visits in a row  - it was Angie at Hair Cuttery by Target.

Friday, July 11, 2008

No vacation this year

My favorite place to go in the summer is to my hometown, Wheeling, WV. We usually stay for 4-6 days. I get to eat my favorite Di Carlos' Pizza, stuff myself with pepperoni rolls, take my kids to my favorite local park, play mini golf and go paddle boating. We go the Cabela's and look at the fish and other animals & do some shopping.  We get to visit my parents and my brother & his family. My kids get to play with their cousins for several days and we usually all go to the Good Zoo.  The last couple of years my folks have rented a cabin at Oglebay Park for all of us & before that we crowded into their small house, that used to belong to my grandparents.

This year though, we don't get to go. My parents now spend 11 months a year in Florida instead of 8-9. So they sold the house to my uncle and rent an efficiency apartment for a month while they are in town.  My dad organizes a couple baseball tournaments in July and he has to be there or they probably would just stay in Florida apart from occasional week long visits here & there. 4 additional people will not fit into an efficiency apartment (especially one that shares a kitchen with another apartment). There are no cabins available at Oglebay due to a golf tournament and no hotel rooms in a 50 mile radius due to those baseball tournaments and Jamboree in the Hills.  July is a busy month for the tourist industry in Wheeling and like it or not I am now officially a tourist. I have no 'home'  there any longer.  I have to start making reservations in January for our July visit.

My parents are coming here in August, on their way to Florida, and will stay a few days, so at least we will get to see them. We'll see my brother's family at Xmas. But this means I will have to go 2 WHOLE YEARS with no Di Carlos pizza. I'm seriously bummed about the pizza.  I love that pizza.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Music in Me

I don't listen to music very often. I'd like to while I am on the computer, but it is in the family room and the kids make too much noise playing, or have a Wii game on, or someone is watching TV and I feel guilty wearing headphones to shut my kids out even more than I already am by being on the computer in the first place. Unless I am alone in the house, I don't listen to music very often at home.  I listen to audiobooks at the gym, which mostly leaves me with the car for music.

I have a Zen Vision M mp3 player now. It has 40GB, holds a couple dozen audio books, my entire music collection, a ton of photos plus I don't know how many videos (I don't use the video function much).  I mostly use it to listen to audio books at the gym, waiting for appointments or when I am in the car. Problem is lately I'm listening to not family friendly books. Assorted curse words are heard, sexual situations, violence, etc. It was one thing when I was listening to A Bone of Contention and my son wanted to know what a whore was. It is an historic mystery set in the late 1100's. The sleuth was a whoremistress. The word was being appropriately used in it's proper context. (He also asked what a bishop & destrier were) But I wouldn't like to explain the use of whore in a modern pejorative context.  So audio books are out in the car for now, leaving me with just music.

Before the Zen I had an iPod mini. A nice little 4GB player.  I traded up to get more space and the video option. I gave the iPod to DH, who has never used it. I found it the other day and decided to load it up with all my music and just leave it in the car or at least in my purse. That way I'd always have music ready to go & wouldn't have to go through bookmarking the audio book, checking to make sure the bookmark took (I never trust it, but it has always bookmarked things), backing all the way out to the main menu, going back into the music playlists, etc and then having to reverse it all to get back to the book 20 minutes later when we get to they gym. Plus I don't mind if the kids play with the mini. I'm terrified they will accidentally lose my place in an 8 hour audio book & it will take me 45 minutes to find it again.

Here is my problem - I don't know how to categorize music.  When I say 'load all my music' I am talking about 350 tracks, 100 of which are Celtic and another 50 are kiddie songs. I have about 200 songs that, in my mind, fall into 2 categories - 80's and not 80's. 40 or so songs are 'not 80's', leaving me 160 songs to subdivide into manageable playlists.  I eventually came up with 80's alternative, 80's pop and 80's metal/hair band.  Most of the music in 'not 80's' is from the 70's, except for some Nickleback & the Bare Naked Ladies.

When was the last time I encountered new music? ummmmm....

Monday, July 07, 2008

Summer Reading - round 3

from the library

The Runaway Dinner

The Berenstain Bears Blaze a Trail

The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday

The Berenstain Bears Report Card Trouble

The Berenstain Bears and the Bully

The Berenstain Bears and the Double Dare

The Berenstain Bears and Big Question

The Berenstain Bears and the Big Road Race

Hurty Feelings

Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

Did Triceratops Have Polka Dots?

My Favorite Dinosaurs

We went a bit heavy on the Berenstain Bears books this time, but Havoc is into them at the moment.  DH is not thrilled. I don't blame him really. Papa Bear is an idiot in most of the books. He says & does dumb things, fails to listen, gets into endless trouble and Mama & the cubs have to save him or Mama has to make everything right. DH finds that really annoying and rightly points out that no way in hell would a series have Mama Bear acting that way with Papa saving her. Perhaps if the dumb actions, etc were spread out more amongst the family.  Papa isn't too bad in many of the books, usually the newer ones, but I usually glance through the books before we bring them home, leaving the more obnoxious ones at the library. This bunch is pretty good. Papa's his usual self in Blaze a Trail but he's pretty mellow in the rest.  Mayhem of course, insisted on some Dinosaur books and found a new Thomas DVD.

The guy checking us out said "You have 17 other books checked out. Do you want me to change their due date to these?"  I have 17 other books checked out?? Well, ok there are 7-8 on my nightstand & possibly I didn't find all the kiddy books we checked out when we stopped in last week, but 17 other books? Surely I would know if I had that many out? So, with the 17 and what we checked out today I now have 34 books checked out. I need to track them all down.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Milestone attempt in progress

Havoc has expressed an interest in learning to tie his shoes.

He has one pair of tie shoes. It's the only pair of tie shoes he has ever owned in the entire 5 years and 9 months of his life. He's owned them for 5 months and has rarely worn them because they tie and Lazy Mommy usually won't deal with them.  They were bought in a moment of shoe desperation (the sole had come off his existing pair & he had school the next day) when they were the only shoes in his general size available. A week later they were replaced with shoes that velcro closed. He's had them on a few times since then and random attempts to learn to tie them have been made, but Lazy Mommy won't tie shoes very often, especially shoes that don't stay tied, even in a double knot.

However, for the last couple of days he has come to me with the shoes and asked me to teach him how to tie them. He says "how do I make the bunny ears" and I say "bunny ears?". Mayhem adds "How about the squirrel running around the tree?" Squirrel? Tree?  Sorry kiddos, mommy learned to tie her shoes about 37 years ago and has no recollection of forest animals being involved.  I had to google to find out what they were talking about. Attempting to use these little rhymes and things only made me mess up tying my own shoes.

We struggled for a day with the tying issue. I'd show him how a few times & let him try. I'd walk him through it, I even tried holding his hands in position as he did it but he's left handed and I am right handed. There are 2 problems. He's not really paying full attention (IMO) because when I say "Here, where my hand is" putting my hand where you pull the string through he persists in reaching to the side, obviously not paying any attention to where my hand is.  The other problem is that I have been tying my shoes for so long I honestly have no concept of how you can NOT understand how to tie your shoes. Make a loop with one lace, toss the other lace over & pull it through. How do you not get that? How, having seen it done & been walked through it a couple dozen times can you not get it? So this is a real test of my patience

Part of the problem I'm sure is that we were practicing tying black laces on black shoes. Probably it would be easier if I could say "put the blue lace over the yellow lace & pull it through" rather than having to attempt to figure out how to differentiate the one bit of black lace there from the other black lace there and the other dangling part over there.  Plus there is all that hand movement. You have laces in both hands, then in one, then in another. You really need 3 hands to tie laces - 2 to hold the loops and a third to pull one through.

I went to Target today looking for a board book that has 2 colored laces and diagrams for various knots. They didn't have it. I suspect an actual bookstore like Barnes & Noble sells it but there isn't one within a 50 mile radius so I got this toddler lacing toy called "One, Two, Tie My Shoe" which consists of 4 large foam shoes and 4 brightly colored laces. I tied 2 of the laces together, stuck one end of each through the foam shoes and we began practicing. We again had the attention issues. Me- "Toss the blue lace over the green one". Him - "the blue lace?" 

Havoc can now make the base knot but not the bow. He decided to take a break a couple hours ago & just told me now that after the Backyardigans he wants to try again.  I'm glad he's self motivated because honestly, right now I am so frustrated he can wear velcro shoes up to and into the college years as far as I am concerned.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

June accomplishments

I read 22 new books. I also reread 17 of them and 3 others. On April 1 I started keeping track of my reading as part of the 50 Book Challenge on Library Thing (the challenge being to read 50 books in a year).  I was 100% certain I'd meet the 50 book goal well before the 12 month mark.  I was not expecting it so early. As of June 30th I had read 56 new books and reread 20 more books in 3 months.  Granted, 40 of those new books would probably be called 'fluff' but still, I read them.

I scrapped 14 layouts and earned a 40% discount at SSD.

I cooked dinner 5 nights a week every week.
I went to the gym at least 2x a week every week

I patched 5 cat clawed holes in the pool ring, one of those holes I patched 4x before the patch actually held.

I was accepted as a Hawt Freelancer on Traci Reed's CT.

I was given a guest spot for August on Eva Kipler's CT

The boys and I read 19 books, most with a dinosaur theme.

DH bought a motorcycle

I finished 3/4 of a crochet dinosaur and am a third of the way through another one I am designing as I go