Monday, August 31, 2009

Trying to create, with hecklers

This post has been written by the voices in my head. If I don’t let them out every now & then they get cranky.

Voice #1: She’s been crocheting randomly again.

Voice #2: What is that thing?

Voice #3: It looks like a crocheted bowling pin


Voice #1: Would it kill her to stick with a pattern & not go off on her own?

Voice #2: That would make the results too predictable

Voice #3: I think she did stick to the pattern on this one.

Voice #1: Geez! There she goes again. Anthropomorphizing things


Voice #2: Someone needs to take the plastic eyes away from her.

Voice #3: The eyes add something.

Voice #1: Yeah, something creepy.


Voice #1: Oh look. She did a bunch of them in different sizes

Voice #2: Anthropomorphized mutant bowling pins.

Voice #3: The little one is cute

Voice #1: Does she think people will buy these things?

Voice #2: I don’t know, some people will buy anything.

Voice #3: With some little accessories she could probably get $5 for the small one as a Christmas tree ornament.

Voices #1 & #2 make contemptuous sounds

Voice #1: Oh no she didn’t!

Voice #2: Oh yes she did!

Voice #3: hahahahaha!



Voice #1:I cannot believe my eyes.

Voice #2: Anthropomorphized mutant bowling pins on a bad hair day!

Voice #3: I think they are adorable

Voices #1 & #2 : You are such a suck up!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Weekly Winners - week 35

Just have a few this week, in the hopes the gods of upload continue to bless me.

Monday night was just gorgeous


Smoke was so happy I bought new table linens


Troopers on Hoth had tauntons. On Tatooine they had dewbacks. Troopers here get dinos.




A clone & his brachiosaur


For more weekly winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.  Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Saturday Scan

The photo today is from 1903

This is The Family House.

Though actually the family didn’t own it until 1942.

My maternal grandmother bought this house while my grandfather was off in the Pacific fighting the Japanese. Apparently it was an incredibly good deal & she wrote to ask him if they should spend their savings on it. But mail took weeks to travel to and from people in the military and my grandmother had to act without hearing from him.

It was a 4 square style home, cinderblock with siding. 5 rooms, one bathroom, and a crawl space under it. It was maybe about 800 sq feet.

When the war ended and my grandfather came home the first thing he did was elevate the house and dig out a full basement. Due the house layout he had to put in probably the steepest set of stairs I have ever encountered. My cousins and I, to this day, have never ventured down them without a parent shouting after us “Be careful those are steep!” And we say it to our own children every time as well.

The larger front porch was removed at this time and a smaller stoop with steps on the side replaced it.

My mother and uncle grew up in this house. My cousins and I spent many Sunday afternoons in it. There would be dinner – featuring ham, mashed potatoes, noodles and canned vegetable and then there would be Hee Haw and Lawrence Welk on TV. Sometimes we’d get to see Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom or the Wonderful World of Disney before we all dispersed to our various homes.

After my grandparents died, my own parents sold the home I grew up in and moved into this one. They were living half the year and more in Florida and a small house was perfect for them. Two years ago they reduced their time in Wheeling to 6 weeks and they passed the house on to my uncle who still lives there with my youngest cousin.

The house has been in the family for 67 years now.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Word choice

DH and I lately have been discussing words and the sorts of words people choose to use when there are several appropriate words available.  We’re both Douglas Adams fan and he never used 1-2 words if 5-6 were possible. I am currently reading books by Edmund Crispin written in the 1940s & 50s and they are Very Wordy Indeed. They seem to be written on the principle of never use a two syllable word if a 4 syllable one is available.  They are common garden variety murder mysteries, not ‘literature’ btw. They are a blog post unto themselves (coming soon)

Anyway since the topic of word choice was on his mind, last night he related the following anecdote about his boss:

Boss came into DH’s office that morning and said “I’m aggravated I lost my favorite money clip. I’ve had it for years.”

DH agreed that losing a favorite item is aggravating.

Boss says “Yeah, I really liked that money clip.” then as an afterthought he adds “It had $600 in it”

So my question to you all today is…. Would ‘aggravating’ be the word you chose to describe the loss of a favorite money clip with $600 in it?  If not, what word would you use?

Catastrophic comes to my mind.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Supper with a side of drama

I made turkey croquettes, mashed potatoes and asparagus for dinner. Turkey croquettes are turkey burgers with a fancy name. They and other burgers are also known as ‘wittle meatwoafs’ because Mayhem “HATES burgers!” but likes meatloaf – big or little.

Everything on the menu tonight has been on the menu before & has been eaten with the bare minimum of fuss. Mayhem doesn’t care for potatoes but will gulp down 3 bites while grumbling. The rest of the meal has always been perfectly acceptable to all involved.

But not tonight.

Tonight’s meal began at 6:15 with wails of protest from Havoc at the very idea I might expect him to eat something other than mashed potatoes. Mayhem joined it with cries of “This is YUCK!” and was banished to his room briefly. He returned insisting that he was “not gonna eat it! no! No! NO!”

Havoc fell silent and occupied himself making mashed potato sculptures and nibbling his way through half of one 4 inch long asparagus spear while all attention was focused on the loudly protesting Mayhem.

DH & I ate our dinner mostly in silence interspersed with terse commands such as “Pick it up and put it in your mouth.” “Put the whole bite in your mouth.” “Stop playing and eat.”

20 minutes later DH & I were done eating. Mayhem had eaten half a forkful of potatoes and dropped the other half on the floor. Havoc had eaten half that asparagus spear and nibbled maybe a half a forkful of potatoes. It was hard to tell because he had them all flattened out in the shape of Australia.

They each had been given 6 bites of turkey and 3 asparagus spears. Mayhem had one heaping spoon of potatoes (about 3 bites) and Havoc had double that because he asked for more.

Time passes

The attitudes of everyone at the table were going steadily down hill. Mayhem has never stopped insisting he doesn’t like this food and won’t eat it. Havoc said he wasn’t going to eat anything, he would just go hungry.  I shook my head because I know this road ends with a 4am waking & snack attack. He hadn’t eaten since noon, it was now 6:45. He said he would have it for breakfast. I shook my head again. Been there, done that. Not doing it again on a school morning. He said “FINE! I just WON’T eat! I’ll sit here all night!”

Bad thing to say to a woman who is designing a crochet pattern. I have all the time in the world to sit here with you & crochet while you stare at your plate. Let’s begin shall we?

So we all continue to sit at the table and time continues to pass…

Eventually Mayhem dips an asparagus spear in some ketchup and comments that with ketchup the asparagus ‘tastes like nothing’ and proceeds to eat the rest of his meal. Havoc forks some potatoes in his mouth and glares at me while doing it, then insists he isn’t going to eat anything else. I start cleaning the kitchen. DH sits and reads. Havoc slowly eats a bite of turkey and says “This is really good Mama.”

I refrain from banging my head on the counter while he eats the rest of his dinner.  It is 7:39

I suspect the drama was caused by the fact that they were awake at 5:20 this morning, after goofing off in their rooms until after 10pm, and were almost 3 hours short on sleep.

They went right to bed after dinner tonight.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Menus

It’s the first full week back to school and time to get menu planning,

I’ve slacked off badly this summer, especially this month. Meals have been very haphazard & slipshod. I’ve been at the end of my rope by late afternoon and it has been too damn hot to turn the oven on & too rainy to use the grill.

I attempted a crock pot dish last week. We have taekwondo 2 evenings a week. We have to leave about 25 minutes after the bus arrives and we get home about 10 minutes before we are used to having dinner. The crockpot seemed ideal. (btw, it is an actual Crock Pot, not a generic slow cooker. It was a wedding gift from 1993. I’ve maybe used it a couple dozen times since then)

Except I suck at crock pot cooking and I have never been wild about hardly anything I have cooked in it that came out decently. It always tastes like food that has been on a steam table for too long. Plus with the can of cream of soup nearly every recipe calls for it tastes like salt that has been on a steam table too long.

I know this is my fault because plenty of people turn out a good meal in a crock pot. Just not me. Last week’s dinner was so bad that just the smell of it by 4pm had me calling DH to get him to bring home a pizza.

So I have instead a collection of fairly quick stove top meals and a couple grills for the weekend. I’ll revisit the crock pot thing another day

In general order of serving:

Frittata with zucchini

Turkey Croquettes with mashed potatoes & asparagus

Penne with roasted eggplant*

Pretzel breaded chicken strips with veggie TBD

Steak tips with grilled mushrooms and beets

Sweet pea soup with toasted cheese bread

Chicken & orzo with veggie TBD

Chicken, bean & antipasti

Veal/Chicken Milanese with spinach salad

Grilled Garlic pork loin and corn & sweet potatoes*

Grilled steak with potato & beet salad

Homemade pizza – toppings TBD*

*depends on the weather. It’s too hot to run the oven most afternoons & still rains almost daily.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekly Winners - week 34


I’m really really hoping the upload fairies continue to be kind to me, as they blessedly have been all week, and all the photos in this post come through.

There was more play in the drained & refilled with rain water swimming pool


I think the dinos felt right at home DSC_5179

Everyone was soaked


The rebel forces have been active again


And school started

 1st day school-5

For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom 

If you are interested in very old photos check out my post yesterday.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Saturday Scan

I have a ton, or at least a very huge pile, of old photos that need scanning.

And by old I mean old.


Like before 1900 old.

I have photos starting from somewhere in the early 1890s & running up through the early 1990s, with large concentrations of photos in 1930-45 and 1967-75.

Some of these photos have stories behind them, some of them I only know a little about and some of them are of people whose names I don’t even know but can guess.

I’m going to start posting some of them here on Saturdays & sharing what I do know about them. Maybe through the magic of the internet someone out there can tell me more.

These are the first:



This young girl is my great grandmother. Her name was Anna Klotz. That is her family in the first photo. Her parents are Balzer & Minnie. She had 6 brothers! I don’t know any of their names or what happened to them. I'm not sure if just her father was from Germany, or both her parents or if maybe it was her father’s parents who were from Germany. Someone in that photo has a German connection, but I have no information beyond that.

I don’t know when Anna was born, but a rough estimate based on my grandmother’s birth date & comments made by my mother, put these photos somewhere between 1893-1897, though possibly 5 years later.

Tune in next week for more distant ancestors.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First day of school

Yesterday the boys went back to school, starting kindergarten & the first grade.

They were excited but a bit dubious


We made the long hike up & down the driveway


We were early because we were told ‘sometime between 7:15-7:20’. We were at the end of the driveway at 7:10 and the bus didn’t come until 7:22.  Not sure yet if that is the firm arrival time or not, but every extra minute helps when you can’t find socks in the morning.

DSC_5296   And there they go.

I feel like I ought to write something sentimental here about my baby starting kindergarten, but I went through all those feeling last year when I put him on the bus for pre-K. And the last 2 weeks have been no joy for the three of us. We are all sick & tired of being together. We need a break. They are excited to be someplace different doing new things and I am excited to finally be able to get some things done around the house that i have been wanting to do for months.

Give me a few days. I’ll probably all maudlin about the passage of time sometime early next week, once the initial excitement dies down.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Monday was the meet & greet at the boys’ school. Kids were able to meet their new teachers and parents were handed a mountain of paperwork to complete.

Thank goodness I only have the two kids. My wrists are not up to completing paperwork for more.

The paperwork began with being sent to the principal’s office for a ‘911 verification’. 911 verification is for proof you actually reside in the county. Apparently there was some question about it, despite the fact that my kids are returning students and would have needed this last year. I say “Sure here is my driver’s license”. She says “No. I need something else, like a utility bill.”

Well, I don’t walk around with those in my purse. Most of my bills are e-notifications now anyway. So she suggests a check. I haven’t written a check in ages. I don’t even know where my current checkbook is. (though I do know where the book is for the account I had in 1998).   What is wrong with a DL? They would have had to mail me the form for it. I did end up finding the top part of a refund check the ER sent me that was addressed to me. It was a plain white piece of paper with my name & addy typed in the left hand corner. No business logo, no other info, just my name & addy.

But that was acceptable & my driver’s license was not.

I was then handed the back to school paperwork – mountain A & mountain A (2)

In real life, Havoc & Mayhem have very similar names and I have been known to use them interchangeably so filling out two identical sets of forms, each about 12 pages, gets confusing for me. I’ll start filling out Havoc’s data, get distracted & continue on with Mayhem’s. And I did write ‘Mayhem’ in the ‘child’s name’ area once, as well as writing my own name and age when asked for Havoc’s

Then they ask me difficult questions like “father’s name” and “work phone”.

DH is known by his middle name. Only his 2 closest friends and telemarketers use his first name. But sometimes a full legal name is needed, like on a car loan. I have no idea how ‘official’ these school forms are. Will they be part of the boys’ permanent record? Are they what is used to compare to when a parent picks up a child at school unexpectedly? Are they just busy work to make parents feel they are involved in the education process? So sometimes I write down just DH’s middle name and sometimes I write down his first name. Sometimes I do both on the same form, which makes it look like I had a child with my husband’s brother.

But this is a rural area, and we are from West Virginia originally…

They also want every phone number remotely connected with you in case of emergency. DH has a cell phone that is glued to his head. I call him on that. I have called his main office number maybe twice in 4 years and the last time I had to look it up in the phone book. I used to know his direct dial number but only if I didn’t think about it. It ends 2870 or maybe 2780 or possibly 7280. I can dial it, but I can’t tell you what it is and if I pause to remember what I am dialing, I forget what I am dialing. So the ‘work phone’ box is tricky for me. I can give them my cell number, but my phone doesn’t work at the house and isn’t always on when I am away from the house. If you can’t reach us at the house or on DH’s cell there really is no point in trying other numbers. But they have called me in the past to ask “Do you have work number ma’am? You left that blank.”

I’m hoping they call about the various names of my sons’ fathers.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Latest crochet projects

I mentioned last week that I was crocheting some apples. Here they are


I think they turned out rather nice if I do say so myself.

But being the sort who can’t leave well enough alone and who loves to anthropomorphize things (I think that is the word) plus being in possession of more googly eyes than any one person should be allowed to own, I did this


They look kinda creepy sitting there on your desk, staring out at you.

Stalker apples.

So I added a mouth


Happy  apples.

(someone explain to me how the white balance changes when you take a photo of the exact same thing, in the exact same spot, the exact same distance away a mere 5 minutes later)

A long time ago I had a store on etsy that sold my little crochet things. Then I got bored with crocheting little things & stopped selling. I’m in the mood again to sell and now is the perfect time of year. You can do fall fruits & veggies, like the apples, Halloween things and Christmas things. Plus my favorite year round item


Fingertip warmers!

Or this guy.


Defend your space with the Angry Traffic Cone! 

Weekly Winners - week 33

This little kitten went for a walk

 aug kittens-29a

She wandered off into the grass

 aug kittens-32a

And found some interesting things

 aug kittens-33a

Including a drained algae ridden swimming pool

 aug kittens-21a

This guy also found a pool to enjoy



For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Weekly Winners - week 33

This little kitten went for a walk

aug kittens-29a

She wandered off into the grass

aug kittens-32a

And found some interesting things

aug kittens-33a

Including a drained algae ridden swimming pool

aug kittens-21a

This guy also found a pool to enjoy


For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Which mom will I be this year?

I am not a social person by nature, so when I am forced to interact with others I spend a lot of time thinking about the impression I am trying to make on the people I am meeting. I know that my shy silence can be taken as cool reserve, leading people to think I am aloof, so I give a lot of thought to what I will say & how I will say it.  I am easily flustered by simple questions like “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?”.

I worry a lot about boxes. I don’t mind them much. When you first meet a group of people it is handy to have adjectives to hang on them to help you remember each one. When each child has at least 15 classmates, you are not going to get close & friendly with 30 other moms (at least, I’m not) so it’s helpful to say “Billy’s mom Joyce. She’s the one that sells Mary Kay.” or “Caitlin’s mom Ann. She made the mural on the classroom wall.”  I worry though because there isn’t much to say about me. “Havoc’s mom. You know, the quiet one.” or worse “The snobby one who won’t talk to us.” 

I know from past PTA type experience around here, that first impressions are the only impression unless you really get to know someone, so I figure since I am going to be put in a box I might as well choose which one I want.  I tend to prepare what sort of persona I want to show before I meet people. I think about hobbies, work and activity related things, questions about what the new person does and try to come up with a truthful yet very indirect answer to the inevitable “Where do you go to church?” question.

(saying upfront that I belong to a Wiccan coven leads to a good deal of immediate awkwardness in an area where 19 out of 20 kids get out of an hour of class time every month to attend the bible bus parked in the soccer field. I’m awkward enough socially without adding that.)

The boys had martial arts class Monday. I have been the only parent there for the past 3 classes, which is a bit boring for me. I decided this time I would bring the crochet project I am working on to kill time. Only this time more kids showed up for the class, and their moms stayed. We parents sit over in a corner out of the way and I was already crocheting when they joined me. We talked a bit about the class & about the teachers our children would have in school this year (the martial arts class is for the k-2nd graders at the primary school). The conversation eventually came around to what I was making. I said it  was an apple & since it was obvious she wanted to know why I said I was making them to give to the boys’ teachers at the meet & greet.

I could see the from their expressions the instant I became THAT MOM. The crafty one that helps out in the classroom with creative projects and gives out handmade overly elaborate goodie bags along with decorative cupcakes on their child’s birthday. I could tell from their questions & the direction of the conversation they were thinking I’d probably put together a scrapbook of classroom activities for an end of year teacher gift.

I am *so* not that mom.

I am hard pressed to explain why I suddenly decided to crochet apples for the boys’ teachers. Probably vague guilt over the way I totally failed to do end of year gifts in May and the lame unwrapped gift cards I gave for Xmas.

One of the martial arts moms is Havoc’s new teacher’s SIL. I live in fear on meet & greet day I’ll be greeted as “Oh you are the crafty one! Shannon told me all about you!” and then I will be asked to lead some art classes.

Still, it’s better than being the silent/snobby one.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

7 days

7 lllooooooonnnnnnnggggggggg days to go.

Well, the days themselves are short enough, it’s the individual minutes that seem to go on endlessly. Probably because of the repetition.

“Put that down please”

“Take your hand off that please”

“Stop doing that please.

“Put it down.”

“Take your hand off it.”

“Stop it. Now.”

“Put it down!!”

“Hand! Off! That!”



(Yes, I said the damn thing. I say damn rather a lot when I reach end point. I do try to control it ever since Havoc told Mayhem to sit down & eat his damn dinner. But it slips in. The good news is I don’t generally reach end point, usually the issue resolves itself somewhere between the second & third repetition because I have sent them on time out.)

All day long, starting as early as 6am with the initial howl of fury that  one sibling has touched the other’s bowl of cereal, continuing though wails of frustration that one is not playing the way the other wants him to, one has pushed, shoved or hit (usually accidentally) the other, plus the inevitable retribution, cats not wanting to be petted, toys not shared, food taken when the other’s back is turned, one humming or singing to annoy the other ending finally with wails over who is sleeping where in the bunk bed.

“it” can be anything – legos, games, balls, army men, cars, their penis, a kitten, yogurt, a box of goldfish crackers, the Wii remote, their brother’s arm, a floor mat, toothpaste and/or any one of hundreds of things they pick up off of shelves in every store we enter.

My entire conversation these days is limited to telling people to knock it off and then telling them they are on time out for not knocking it off.

I’m ready to abdicate several hours a day to someone else. Summer vacation has gone on long enough. I was done sometime the week before last. It’s been fun, don’t get me wrong. We’ve done some great things & I have loved having the kids around & being able to talk with them & play with them & do things together. I’ve enjoyed hanging out & doing things at our pace rather than needing to be places as school dictates.

But like many long family vacations, after awhile you need some space. You need to go back to the routine to feel comfortable. Some vacations just go on a little too long. People get bored. The newness and fun wear off & then people start feeling out of sorts and quarrelsome. We’re there now. Maybe it’s all the rain & the kids not being able to get outside as much as last summer or even this spring.

I hit the wall at 8 weeks. I’ve been counting down the days since then. 7 more. I know I’ll miss it once school starts, but I need a break.

Right now I am watching the boys play together in a mud puddle in the yard. They have some of the dinosaurs and the alligators in the puddle and some sort of Jurassic beach scene is going on. I will miss times like these. 5 minutes ago they were fighting over who got to hold the hose to make the puddle and who got to be the big crocodile. I will not miss that.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer is over – phase 1

This came a bit sooner than I expected. I had thought the first day of school would be phase 1.

But I have been dealing with this for weeks and I am done


It rains, the pool turns green, I dump chemicals, the pool clears for 24 hours, it rains, the pool turns green, I dump chemicals, the pool clears for 24 hours – repeat for the last 5 weeks. I’ve shocked it, chlorinated it, stabilized it, Ph balanced it and hit it with algaecide. I swap out filters every 3 days. The boys have not been swimming since we came back from WV. Either the pool is green, it is about to rain, or it is actually raining.

This morning started off sunny but oh look


I’m done fighting it. Normally I can keep ahead of the green but it has just rained too much this summer & there is no sign that is about to change. Normally August is hot, humid and dry. So far dry is not an adjective I can use for August and it is the 11th. The boys return to school the 19th. I was going to leave the pool up until Labor Day but I can’t see draining, washing it and refilling it, only for 3 weeks the same as the past 5. 

The boys are ambivalent about it. They were into swimming in June and early July but have no interest now. I wish we had had more use of it, but there is always next year. I’m a bit sad. Taking the pool down is usually one of the last phases of summer ending. I’m not ready for it to be starting now.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Weekly Winners – week 32

Some photos from my 365 collections.

We visited Dinosaurland Sunday.


The clones were weary after a long day


The boys played


The weather was often misty


For more great Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Aunt Becky doesn't quite visit

Aunt Becky, my BFF, who I would totally love to hang with in person, was unable to come visit in person but she sent her cards instead. Which if you love Aunt Becky like I do, is almost good enough. After all - Aunty Becky herself actually *touched* these cards!

Look Aunty Becky’s card has arrived!


These guys are thrilled to get their picture taken with her


They immediately rush off to entertain her. Many muffins were eaten


And much wine was drunk

DSC_5050 (2)

They thought about going swimming but Aunt Becky’s card thought the water was a little too Jurassic green


The kittens gave Aunt Becky’s card a much more mixed reception

Some were interested. “Will it give me lovins?”


Some were aloof. “I’m not even going to look at it.”


Some were downright hostile. “Cards! bah! I eats cards!”


Smoke though, was very welcoming. “Come lay down with me Aunt Becky’s card


We can read a book together


Everyone else was so happy to see Aunt Becky’s card that they held a parade


And that was Aunt Becky’s cards lively visit.