Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekly Winners

From my 365 set


Doing dishes


A walk in the woods


Dino tech support. I was having trouble with my mouse.


Clowning around

For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Defining moments

Everybody has them, usually a few.

That time you wore those thigh high stiletto boots & mini skirt out bar hopping & were the most popular girl in every bar you entered and never paid a dime for drinks all night long & came home with 15 phone numbers.

Or, that time you did all those beer bongs at a tailgate, passed out before the game even started & woke up at half time in the driver’s seat of god only know’s whose car wearing a fake beard and a bra on your head.

Not that either of those have happened to me….just by way of example.

So you can say to your friends when they ask you about a recent experience “Remember the time with the stiletto boots? Like that, but less booze”

An everyone knows what you are saying.


About 5 years ago I paid a repairman $60 to plug in my stove.

That was all that was wrong with it – loose plug. But only the oven wasn’t working. The clock & the burners still worked. Maybe that would lead normal people to check the plug but not me. I assumed since everything but the oven was working, the problem was the oven.  Not the plug.

But sure enough, guy shows up, pulls out the stove, looks behind it at a plug nearly out of the socket (which…how? it’s not like it’s being bumped back there, the stove hadn’t been moved in 3 years) plugs it back in and TADA! Oven works again.

That’ll be $60!

And I have a receipt that says “plugged in stove” under Labor Completed.

This is my defining incompetent moment.

Until now.

I took my car in to get the rotors milled & the engine light checked.

ScifiDad suggested the light might be caused by my gas cap not being on tight. This is such an easy thing to check I ran right out & took off my gas cap & replaced it.

The light was still on.

I did it again.

The light was still on.

The next day I stopped for gas and spent considerable time experimenting with the gas cap & ways to put it on.

The light remained on.

Ah well, SciFi was wrong, but hey, the easy fix is never for me. This was proven by my stopping by Auto Zone for a diagnostic test, where I was told “Um yeah the guy that does that isn’t here right now.”  In my worldview of signs & portents being everywhere, this was clearly ominous.

So I take the car down to the dealership, they take off the brakes & then check the engine light.

Turns out SciFi was totally  RIGHT and apparently I am just utterly incompetent at screwing on a gas cap.

But since I was there for the brakes the labor charge was already included so I didn’t have to pay $50 to be told I don’t know how to replace a gas cap.

I had to pay $200.

$95 for new rotors because it turned out that after mine had been milled they were too thin to meet specs, and $105 for the labor.

Which took 3.5 hours!

Why so long? Well, obviously an hour or so was spent just waiting around for the milling to be done, add to that the 20 minutes spent taking the car for a test drive on unacceptable rotors, just to prove they really were bad, the half hour of taking off & on the tires & brake parts, the time spent locating the new parts & your are still nearly an hour short on time. What happened during that time?

Well…the guy who was originally working on my car began experiencing shortness of breath followed by severe chest pains and they  had to call the Rescue Squad who checked him out & then took him to the hospital.

Apparently my total incompetence with the gas cap literally took his breath away.

Then they had to wait for someone else to  be free to finish working on my car.

The mechanic is fine, they think it was stress. I’m not making light of his situation but you know how an already unpleasant situation then becomes ridiculous and then yet something else happens that tips it over into insanity? This was it for me.

“Oh the engine problem is that you apparently can’t put a gas cap on correctly, oh and those milled rotors ended up being too milled & you need to just get new ones, which probably you should have just opted for in the first place and oh yeah your mechanic had to have the rescue squad come & take him to the hospital for a suspected heart attack in the middle of all this”

I called DH up after the whole debacle and said

“Remember that time I paid $60 to have the stove plugged in? Dude, I have topped it.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Numbers, in lieu of prose

6:40 – when I wake up

7:30 – when I go back to bed

9:30 – when I wake up again

8 – years I have struggled with insomnia

3 – years I took Lunesta

10 – months I have been off of it

43 – nights I have had more than 3 hours of sleep in a row

22 – days I have been congested in my chest

20 – giant horse pills of amoxicillin I have taken for bronchitis

8 – containers of pro biotic yogurt I have eaten

4 – times I have served spaghetti for supper this month

1 – times I have actually eaten it myself

6 – pounds lost while ill

7 – pounds regained in the past week

?? – cookies eaten since my appetite returned

8 – games I already owned & played this month

3 – games I have purchased this month from Big Fish Games

0 – times I have made it to the gym this month

5 – new books read so far this month

.25 – crochet projects completed since school started

3- episodes of The Tudors Season 4 I have viewed so far

This post inspired by Day 2s prompt in Shimelle’s True Stories class

Monday, October 25, 2010

Is 18 months a long time?

We bought the mini van 18 months ago. It’s a 2006 & currently has about 48,000 miles or so on it. This week I have to take it in for the first real repairs it has needed. The brake rotors need milled or something. They stutter when you hit the brakes, the brakes still work just fine but you can feel the stuttering in an alarming “Good God the brakes are going to fail sooner rather than later” sort of way. Though I am told if it takes me 9 months to get the job done mostly I’ll just need new rotors & the brakes themselves will continue to work.

But nevertheless it is alarming.

I was told that about 3 months ago & for various reasons have been putting it off. The dealership, who told me I needed the milling, quoted me a price that seemed really high to DH who once had rotors milled back in the 20th century. So he’s been sporadically calling around looking for lower prices.

It appears the costs of brake repairs have in fact gone up in the past 2 decades.

Should we be willing to disassemble the brakes ourselves and drop off the rotors it would only be about $60 to get them milled. Dropping the car off adds $60-90.

We’d eventually decided on a place near his office & he just had to pick a day to do it. While he was dithering about this, last week, the engine light started staying on.

Could the place fixing the brakes also check out the engine light?

Maybe. And they’ll need to keep the car overnight because of the milling. They send that work out.

So I called the dealership. I don’t like going to the dealership for repairs. I always feel I am paying more there. But I usually feel I am being taken advantage of in auto repair shops. They use words I’ve never heard before & they always sound so grave about things and when you ask about putting that repair off they always say “Well, you could….” in a tone that implies your fiery death is imminent if you put this repair off.

Maybe it really is, but having lost more than one belt while traveling at interstate speeds I know it really isn’t a matter of life & death if I wait a month to replace it. It’s just wildly inconvenient and adds towing to the overall cost of repairs. 

The engine light though, made me consider the dealership. I mean, it’s a Dodge Grand Caravan, one of the most popular mini vans in the country. Odds are any garage can diagnose & repair whatever that light is indicating. But still… I am familiar with that light in an ominous sort of way from other vehicles. An engine light with no other sign, no other sounds, no perceivable issues could be any damn thing & probably expensive and the less time spend sorting it out, the less the labor charges.

And the dealership asked me all sorts of questions about that light & what else was going on in a way that led me to believe they have a very narrow field of exploration. I was told it probably would only take a couple hours. I know Ganders (our usual local repair place) would keep it overnight at least.

Here is my problem. I’ve had two new cars in my life, one in 1992 that I kept until 2001 when I got the second & kept it until 2008. Before that I went through a slew of used cars between 1983-1992. My sense of what to expect repair wise from vehicles is a little mixed up.In my experience you need to repair something major on a car every 10-12 months or you go literally years and years before needing a major repair.

So, is this something I have caused through neglect? Am I a bad braker somehow, tapping them or pressing too hard? Or is this normal? Is this engine thing whatever it may be a normal occurrence after 48,000 miles or did I forget to replace some fluid or other? I know for certain that I am responsible for my first transmission failure simply because I got into a habit of shifting from R to D without coming to a full stop all the time & it wore the gears or whatever down. But I stopped that & am very aware of that now (and it had nothing to do with the other 2 transmission failures, one was simply a badly reassembled refurb job I got to save money. The other turned out to be something interior I couldn’t have caused). But maybe I am doing something else? Engine lights do have a tendency to come on on my cars, but they always seem to mean different things.

Any thoughts?

I suppose I’ll have to ask the mechanics, but usually I don’t understand their answers.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weekly Winners

Misty morning


Fall colors


Waiting for the bus


Me & my Kindle


For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Something unusual part 2

This is the interior of my house, click for a larger view.


Every room but the junk room has a sliding glass door, or a French door.

This is why there is a security system. Not to keep people out so much but to keep boys in. They could, in theory, go out their bedroom door and up the atrium steps and we’d never know they left unless we went in their room to find them. Bad enough when it is just them at 7 wanting a little adventure. Fast forward a few years to friends with driver’s licenses, who could drive part way up the driveway and pick up or drop off the boys at night, again, without us having the slightest clue because sound does not carry through dirt.

So fully armed alarm system with keypad in parents’ room it is! Fortunately it is right off the kitchen so it is an easy dash to disarm when you get home.

The junk room’s window opens onto a shaft in the hillside. It looks like a wide chimney from the outside but it’s just a shaft to an underground window. I suppose it’s purpose is to let in some light. We use it as a root cellar & keep potatoes & things in bins in it.

If you saw the photos yesterday you see we have a regular front door. It hasn’t been used since 2002 & is now blocked off with bookshelves and the entryway itself is a toy storage area. The French doors to the kitchen are now the front door. Salesmen find it confusing. They knock at one door & watch me walk past them to another room & open a different door. We’d remodel that space but we have no idea what to do with it & it’s a bump out area & weird architecturally so we’d need professional help with it & there is never money for professional help in the budget.

You might notice there are bookshelves in every room, including the bathrooms.

We read a lot. And we often lose guests for ages in the bathrooms when they get caught up in a short story or something.

There is a 2 foot cinder block wall running through the middle of the house. This is an example of the over engineering done on the roof support system.

It’s also the reason I have wonky internet in the bedroom


You can access the internet on the porch, in the swimming pool, on the toilet & in the shower. But NOT in bed. Theoretically the signal should reach the bed, but the cinder block wall has a dampening effect on many things.

Including my spirits whenever I think about remodeling.

You cannot remodel around a 2 foot thick cinder block wall.

Not on our budget, which does not run to that level of demolition & then people throw around words like “load bearing'” on top of it.

But still, I never have to worry about my teenagers surfing porn sites in their bedrooms.

They can surf for porn in the living room like their father.

Despite the 14 feet of dirt around my house. We do not have 14 foot ceilings. We have tiled drop ceilings. Useful from a wiring, venting & plumbing standpoint. EVERYTHING is in the ceiling & easily accessible, assuming the stoners who built this place didn’t think it would be neat to block off that  area, run a wonky dog leg bend in the vent around a corner for no good reason or run the drywall up into the ceiling in that spot for some reason. Also a problem for my allergies. Moving a ceiling tile is deadly for me.I have to leave the house until the dust settles, making me useless as a helper.

But the Dish guy was DELIGHTED by it. His 2 hour install booking only took 30 minutes & he was able to run some personal errands as a result.

The wiring is interesting. My kitchen has 3 light switches in it. It’s not that big really. Two switches would be sufficient.  They are all dual switches. One also turns on the hall light. One also turns on a living room outlet (I suppose they expect us to plug a lamp into it but I have my mp3 player speakers there instead). And one switch we don’t know what the hell it turns on. 13 years of living here & we’ve never figured out what that switch is connected to. Tracing the wiring leads DH to believe it has something to do with the soffit lighting outside, but we’re not sure what. It doesn't turn those lights off & on.

There is a triple switch in the entryway. It’s got it’s own special brand of wonkiness. Sometimes the middle switch turns on the overhead light. Sometimes it doesn’t. We don’t know why. Maybe poltergeists?

The other two switches control the motion lights outside & the soffit lights. Except when they don’t. The motion lights come on with motion no matter what the switches are up to, but sometimes you can set them on permanently.

When the stars align.

This only happens at 2am when you are trying to sleep. It never happens at 9pm when you have people over and are sitting outside & would like continuous light, not light you have to keep getting up, going to a corner and jumping up and down to have.

The soffit lights?  Rumor has it they work. Supposedly they have fresh bulbs. Not that they have been replaced in my children’s lifetime but then those lights have never been on in my children’s lifetime so I don’t see how they could have burned out. We think it requires some arcane combination of switch flipping involving the triple switch in the entryway, the dual switch in the kitchen and some other switch we have yet to identify.

I told DH I wanted him to put a switch for them or the motion lights in our bedroom because as it currently stands say I hear a noise outside & for whatever electrical reason the motion lights don’t come on. I have to leave the bedroom, walk, fully exposed past the French doors, go into the entryway, flip switches at random until light appears, walk fully exposed again past the French doors and then peek through the curtains in my bedroom to see what the noise was. Because I am not pressing myself again the French doors & trying to see the sides of the porch. Nor am I opening them to do so. And I have to do all of it in the dark because if I turn the inside lights on I cannot see outside from the window glare.

But DH cannot figure out how to wire in a switch to the wonky mess of outside light wiring. Neither could an electrician who suggested we just rewire the whole thing.

The budget does not allow for mass rewiring by professionals and DH does not have the time for mass rewiring by himself.

Until then I suppose I’ll continue to dash at top speed across the kitchen in the dark whenever I hear a strange noise outside.

Did I mention I sleep in the nude?

Now THERE is a visual.

Next time in this series I’ll discuss fun facts about the plumbing, the cement flooring and this odd dead space behind the steps.

header 150x150

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Something unusual about me

You know how you always get asked that as an ice breaker?

Some people just bang right on it. They can always think of something. They can turn their tongue inside out  or they were downhill skiing national champions in college.

Me? I end up sitting there trying to come up with something unusual that isn’t down right odd (certain food combinations) or too much information (no on needs to know about my underwear) and I usually end up muttering something about Tudor England, the subject of my Master’s.

Which always makes people who do know me in real life roll their eyes and exclaim something like “Jesus Stacey! That’s it? That’s all you can come up with? What about your house?”

Which. um. yeah…my house.  But see, it’s *my* house & it’s normal to me. It’s just my house you know. Yeah it’s sort of out in the middle of nowhere but apart from that, it’s a house. I never give it much thought unless prompted to do so.

But ok, it is odd.  This is the back view.


and side views



and the front view


It’s an underground home. Also known as earth bermed or earth sheltered. It was build by hippies, who we firmly believe were stoned most of the time (and you would too if you ever tried to find a stud or understand the wiring in this house), in 1978. We bought it in 1997 from the second owners.

I suppose it is unusual, but after 13 years it’s just my house.

I only remember it’s unusual when I get notes from the boys’ teachers asking why they claim we only have one window in the whole house or when I try to give directions to people who never have been here “If you see a house from the driveway you are in the wrong place. You will not see the house from the driveway or anywhere else. Ever.”

That metal tower sticking up in the first photo is a 75 foot eyesore that brings me my internet.

So I love that eyesore & there is nothing odd or unusual about it. It’s WONDERFUL! Though granted, many people are not blessed to have such a wonderful eyesore on their roof.

The building in the background of the top photo is the barn. Though really it’s not a barn, it’s a two story shed DH uses for his projects but it looks barn like.

We do mow our roof. Its sod over about 12 inches of dirt, over a gigantic pond liner, over plywood, over massively over engineered trusses & supports. Technically you can drive a small car over my roof.

No one will ever attempt that in my lifetime however.

Sometimes DH feels ballsy & drives the Kubota tractor over it to mow but usually he drags out the 20 year old barely functioning push mower for that.

No one wants to have that conversation with the homeowners insurance people.

“Your roof collapsed why?

“The Kubota fell in it”

“The Kubota? You mean there was a tractor on your roof?”


“How did the tractor get there?”

“We drove it up the side of course. How else?”

“And you did this why?”

“To mow the roof. Why else drive the tractor on it?”

“Hey Sam!!! Lunatic on line one!! You have GOT to hear this!”

And just TRY reporting stray goats on your roof to animal control.

So yeah, that is something unusual about me.

It always generates questions so please leave any you have in the comments and I’ll try to answer them later this week. Tomorrow I’ll share the interior and some of it’s peculiarities.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


People recovering from bronchitis cannot be expected to compose whole paragraphs, let alone entire blog posts.

So, my scrapbooking sisters! Who has signed up for Shimelle’s new class True Stories, which begins Oct 25? It focuses on journaling & I am hoping to get a bit of a jump start on Journal Your Christmas with it. Since this will be my 4th year of JYC I’m hoping to go with more journaling & less scrapping for it this year.

Mayhem’s handwriting sucks. Pretty much our entire conference with his teacher focused on that. The problem is that most of the time no one can read his homework or his writing assignments so he doesn’t get full credit. But since that is all that is wrong with him he doesn’t get special writing time, so we have to do it at home. The nice part is the teacher thinks she can get some writing workbooks & things from the special assistance teachers & send them home for us.

Havoc is doing fine. They want us to work on his reading comprehension. He and the 3 other accelerated readers are all focusing on that. While they can read 5th grade stuff, they don’t always understand it so we have all these questions we are supposed to ask as part of his reading homework from now on.

I had an appetite for the first time in a week yesterday! Felt good to want to eat something. And to want to cook. Dinner was so haphazard, if it happened at all last week. DH must have brought home food 4 times.

iPhone has this cool new app called Stop Motion I think. You can make stop motion videos with it. It’s 99 cents, totally cool.  Anyone know of a similar thing for the Droid?

I won a Boba Fett Xmas ornament on eBay! Only $9! It’s the one from 1998. I got Leia that year. But I am slowly backfilling the ones I wanted but wasn’t able to buy at the time. I need to decide if I am going to be a first trilogy purist or go with second trilogy as well. I didn’t like the second trilogy that much.  But I like the Clone Wars series.  Decisions, decisions.

Tonight is bunco & we are supposed to come in costume. Probably I could just show up  in my pjs, carrying my meds and a big class of OJ.  Go as a sick person. But probably no one would want to sit near me. So I bought a witch’s hat. I’ll wear that, normal clothes & carry my staff. Probably I have some pentacles around here somewhere I can wear.  I have no energy to get into a full costume.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekly Winners – illness edition

From my 365 photos this week.

Last weekend I developed a nasty chest cold


So I took some standard meds and thought staying in bed a couple days might help


Mayhem sent these guys in to keep me company. They like being scratched between their plates


But the bed rest didn’t work. The cold became bronchitis & serious meds were called for


I spent a lot of time in bed playing computer games


Turns out, these guys were Hidden Object Champion Gamers of the Late Cretaceous era.


For more Weekly Winners, please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

That does explain a lot

So it seems walking into the living room is exerting myself. Not from walking but from being unable to ignore the legos and dinos and empty bowls and blankets and crumbs and toy cars and oh yeah balled up socks. I have to tidy them! Cannot ignore mess! So I am staying out of the living room this weekend, which means no internet. My SITS tribe sister, Jia has stepped in for me to keep you entertained in my absence. Check out her blog, her sister just had a baby!


Matt and I were playing Scene It last night, the video game about movie trivia. Normally, Matt kills me during this game, but somehow, I completely lucked out last night.

Question: Kate Winslet starred in Sense & Sensibility, true or false?
Matt: False.
Me: True. (Correct)

Question: Who was the lead actress in the Pride & Prejudice 2005 remake?
Matt: What?
Me: Keira Knightley (Correct)

Question: Who had Tom Cruise at Hello?
Matt: I don't get it.
Me: Renee Zellweger (Correct)

Question: In Pride and Prejudice, how many daughters are in the Bennet family?
Matt: How are we supposed to know that?!
Me: Five (Correct)

Matt: Alright, I know for a fact that you've never read that book!
Me: Saw the movie once, like fifteen years ago or something. I think.
Matt: Then how do you know the answer?
Me: It's Jane Austen.
Matt: And?
Me: And I have a vagina.
Matt: What's that got anything to do with it?
Me: It's basically pre-programmed information. My vagina came with Jane Austen 2.0 and Meg Ryan Movies version 3.5

I've also successfully downloaded Hugh Grant 1.6, Molly Ringwald Widget and the latest Twilight 4.5 (Team Edward update).

While the vagina is programmed with many helpful features, it's competitor hardware the penis does have several functions that just aren't backwards compatible for the vagina. The penis, like many hardware systems perform their tasks VERY well, but it does not have the ability to download new software.

Case in point:
Matt: Honey, will you go make me a sammich?
Me: Why can't you do it?
Matt: Cause I have a penis.

Me: Hey babe, will you load the dishwasher?
Matt: I can't.
Me: Why not?
Matt: Cause I have a penis.

The penis is apparently also incapable of downloading programs such as laundry 2.6, salad eating 4.0, and any chick flick torrents unless prompted with rewards. I think it's made by Apple.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Counting the blessings

1. Officially it’s bronchitis! This is a blessing because me & bronchitis go way back & once it is officially bronchitis, I am given the SERIOUS drugs. 875MG of amoxicillin! An inhaler, some heavy duty expectorant. Plus all the pro biotic stuff I have to take to offset all the the meds. I know I’ll probably be feeling better by Monday & if I am not the docs have already got SERIOUS drugs 2.0 lined up for Tuesday. (I have issues with chronic bronchitis)

2. DH, who got a new boss Monday, is still employed! Today is Friday, and payday & if they were going to fire him soon, today would have been the perfect day. But they didn’t. And they reinstated direct deposit!

3. I get to lay in bed all day in my pjs and everyone say ‘oh poor you.’. Not ‘get your lazy butt out of bed'

4. The kids are in school all day, so I can actually STAY in bed most of the day.

5. Lack of appetite has led to a 4lbs weight loss this week

6. There is lots of time to read when you lay in bed all day. Not on the computer because the wireless doesn’t reach the bedroom, but books.

7. I’ve almost finished Professor Layton & the Curious Village, which I will swap with a friend for her copy of Professor Layton & the Diabolical Box.

8. Orange juice tastes exceptionally good when I am sick. Like I am drinking health.

9. I honestly don’t care the house is a mess. Really.

What’s blessing you today?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Making the most of it

So, yeah, I am still sick. Not as sick as this weekend, but still not well.

So I am stuck not exerting myself for a few more days

I seem to have turned a corner early Tuesday morning. You know that feeling you get when you have been sick awhile & have a fever & spend all night sweating & at some point the fever breaks and while you feel very weak, you feel better that you had? Like the worst is over?

I had that Tuesday morning.

Though I never had a fever, I did sweat buckets that night & woke up feeling like it was an improvement.

I thought one short gentle trip into town would be ok. I went to Hallmark and bought our new ornaments for this year


One for each of us, plus the Father Christmases that I collect when I like the look of them. I think this guy is 7th in the series and I have 2-3 others.

These bring our Star Wars collection of ornaments up to 12.  Getting closer to my goal of one year having an all Star Wars tree. 4 are minis and are for the tiny tree.

I try to get something meaningful every year but some years it’s more challenging than others. Like this year? Pokemon reigns with an ongoing Star Wars theme.

I’m not wild about Pokemon ornaments I have found & refuse to pay a $10 premium for pikachu (all the others are $9, he’s $19), the boys have played no organized sports, and have ignored all current culture, so Star Wars it is. Havoc gets Luke and Mayhem gets Yoda & Rex (which I am sure will cause complications when Elvin, our Christmas elf, delivers them. How come he got 2?).

DH & I had this tradition back before we had kids. Every year we’d buy 1 or 2 ornaments that mean something about the year. Usually from Hallmark. Then we had kids and switched to a small tree & those hallmark ornaments are generally too heavy for the small tree. The kids got 1st Christmas ornaments but we just didn’t buy any new ornaments for a few years, so I have a gap of few years worth of ornaments to fill. The grand plan is when they move out & have their very own Christmas tree they will get all their childhood ornaments to put on it, plus some of my mom’s wooden ones. (I have no idea what my future DILs will think of this, maybe they have this white gold tree fantasy that a bunch of gaudy superheros and dinosaurs total ruins, but that’s their problem to work out. Maybe they will be delighted by the sentimentality. Who knows?)

One trip into Hallmark & lunch with DH was apparently over exerting myself. I took maybe 50 steps! How is that exerting? I take that much around the house just getting water & going to the bathroom from all the water. 

As a result I spent most of today laying on the sofa & online trying to find ornaments to fill in the gap years. I’ve found some dino ornaments and am going to get some personalized trucks from Miles Kimball. I think I’ll make some Thomas the Tank Engine ornaments out of a couple trains we have duplicates of. That will cover the preschool years & I’ll feel caught up.

I’ll probably lay around tomorrow too, until parent teacher conferences, which are an hour apart & we live 25 minutes from school, which makes it awkward. They are after dark so the playground is out, so I suppose I’ll take them to multi food play place 10 minutes away & hope no one gets stuck & needs me to crawl around in those hamster tubes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The week is off to a rousing start

Where to begin…?

I’ll pick Saturday afternoon. It’s as good a place as any.

Saturday afternoon DH took the kids in town to see the airshow & pick up stuff for the sleepover camp out we were having as Havoc’s birthday party.

They left around 1.

I had a slight cough.

They returned about 4:30.

I was in bed with a heating pad & steamer dealing with a body that was trying to remove my lungs & tonsils by coughing them out.

The sleepover boys arrived at 6. I hauled myself out of bed long enough to put frozen pizzas in the oven and help DH set up the tent.

There after I made random appearances throughout the evening whenever the coughing slowed down, leaving everything in DH’s hands.

For which I apologized profusely and hoarsely .

At some point I lost a filling that had been loose for ages.

That’s $125 I hadn’t planned on spending.

Sunday I slept until noon. If you can call dozing between bouts of long jagged coughing fits sleeping.

The guests were gone by then and Havoc had a huge rash on the right side of his face. He claimed not to have fallen in the wood or had and leaves brush against his face and he had gone all summer without a single incident of poison ivy so my thought was “new washing detergent used on the sleeping bags” and I gave him some Benedryl.

I spent the day steaming & warming my tight congested lungs in bed, randomly getting up to get the boys things or play a bit.  Havoc’s rash cleared up some.

Monday morning Havoc’s eye was red & swollen all around it & the rash was still there & starting to look poison ivy ish. So we made a doctor’s appointment. We go to a family practice & all see all the docs so I was hoping the doc would see & hear me trying to hack up a lung and maybe offer some meds to me as well.

Nah. The doc we got this time doesn’t know me as well as some of them so I didn’t ask but she did say it was going around and I might want to get some Mucinex or other expectorant and & get plenty of rest. Come back & see her if it’s still bad Friday.

Havoc does have poison ivy but is not contagious and can return to school. A prescription was called into the pharmacy. I took Havoc back to school and…

locked my keys in my car.

So I had to call DH, who by the way, was getting a new boss this day.

And had two servers down & couldn’t figure out why

And got to tell his new boss:

Hey, nice to meet you, we’ve got a couple problems, I’ve got a guy on it but I have to drive a half hour south of here and bring my wife her spare keys, after I go by the house and get them. Be back in about oh…90 minutes or so. k?

Only redeeming feature of it was that it was noon and technically he was on his way to lunch when I called.

Then I came home to discover that the load of ‘dry’ clothes in the dryer I had been neglecting all weekend, were not in fact dry at all. Either I never turned the dryer on Saturday morning or it shut off early when someone bumped the door. Now all the clothes smelled funny and needed rewashing.

Yay me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Weekly Winners

I’m late today but I do have some


self portrait


dino bin




Clone meets shark attack!


But is rescued by t-Rex


The lego people brave the shark & pirate infested waters


And I am almost finished with a new scarf

For more weekly winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 08, 2010


The boys’ 6 week report cards came home. If I said they got all Ps and Ss what would you think? Except for the things Havoc got 100% in, which is not an available option for Mayhem so don’t hold it against him that he didn’t get 100%.

Apparently actual grading with the established A-F scale or 0-100% scale doesn’t happen in the primary school. Not sure what system is in place in the elementary school but I know know the middle & high school do use A-F so I will finally understand their report cards starting in 6th grade at least.

We’ve been a couple years with this P & S system so I do have a general idea how they are doing. And I know the one thing you should never ever do is compare children.

Naturally the first thing I did was dig up Havoc’s 1st grade report card and compare it to Mayhem’s.

I can’t help it. Havoc is the only frame of reference I have for 1st grade. I don’t do it to say who is ‘better’ at something but to be able to say “Oh ok, Havoc had Ps in that and he was doing x,y,and z, so that means Mayhem probably can to.”

Mayhem seriously needs to work on his handwriting. Seriously. It’s horrible. I can always pick his stuff out on the class walls because of the handwriting. But that is due to a motor skill and lack of patience. Not knowledge or overall behavior, so if that’s his big problem, I’m ok with it.

As it were. not OK with it, but ok with it, you know?

Mayhem is reading 106 out of 120 and the expectation is 10 out of 120 at this point and I am so happy about that. I’m a reader, DH is a reader, Havoc is a reader, so Mayhem’s lack of reading skill/interest has been stressing me out. All through kindergarten I was like, How can he not be reading??? I’m doing everything they say plus more besides. But finally that switch has been flipped on. He’s jumped 8 reading levels since school started. While I do credit the school with a lot of it, I think his fascination with all things Pokemon has helped. You have to be able to read those cards or read the words on the DS game, plus there are all these handbooks with facts to be learned. You can play with dinos without reading about them but apart from watching the TV show, you need to read to play with Pokemon stuff.

Havoc’s reading, writing & math skills are all fine, showing progress, with a couple 100% on things. They don’t grade science & social studies this term. His problem is he can’t stop talking, which I have mentioned before. Havoc has a lot of info on some things that he wants to share, nay, he NEEDS to share. Havoc also wants to go for the laugh. So we always end up with S- in the ‘control’s social talking’. Sometimes it’s an S and probably at least one term it will be a U, because he just cannot help himself.

We have parent teacher conferences next week which will go over some standardized test scores on math & reading for our individual students.

We were given the school wide, division wide and state wide results in an accompanying letter.

We are in Year 1 of Title I School Improvement. We’ve failed 2 years running to to meet adequate yearly progress goals.

The letter basically said “Your school sucks. It sucks so bad you can invoke the option to transfer your kids. Oh but wait! There is no place to transfer them to in your district. Too bad for you! Maybe your kids might qualify for some extra assistance we might be able to offer, legally we should, financially we’re not sure we can. But we are working on improving. It’s only been two years we’ve sucked & this is the first time it’s been bad enough you could, theoretically at least, transfer your kids. So there is hope! (Insert feel good buzz words here) More information to follow once we figured out what we can afford to do.”

It seems our school sucks, the division sucks somewhat and the state itself has a general suckiness that is not quite as bad overall as it is locally. Though I honestly cannot tell for sure because the report is long on data but low on labels. It looks to me like we met the passing criteria, but obviously we didn’t so. The only thing it looks like we failed in was English Performance –Economically Disadvantaged, which, yeah, poor rural county. 

Ok and the real kicker to me… the part that I went “Oh dear God!” was when I got to the school safety statistics page and saw the column “Weapons Offenses” and saw that last year, for the first time 5 years, there had been one.

You know which one it was don’t you?

It was MY SON not realizing he’s left that damn toy gun in his backpack that the other kid pulled out on the bus! He wasn’t mentioned by name but there is only one Weapons Offense listed. The horror of that whole episode came right back to me. Havoc’s a Weapons Offense statistic!

I’m looking forward to the conference next week because I want someone to explain this data to me. Where is the problem specifically? What do I need to do or help with my kids because of it?  Since apparently my only other option is home school & since they are currently succeeding at public school I am not willing to go there, yet.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Havoc is 8 now

Oct 02011

He was 8 days old in this photo.


Oct 02017

Look how tiny he is!

He weighed 7lbs!


Oct 02002

And he somehow sensed that his parents were boring people who were incapable of entertaining him.

 nov 02015

Not just boring parents, but odd parents.

 nov 02012

Easily amused by babies in sunglasses

florida (43)

And toddlers in them as well


not to mention hats

jan 04dl003

He wore lots of hats until he was about 3 and decided hats were passé.


This child never slept.

Oh there are dozens of photos of him sleeping, but that is because it  was such a rare occurrence I felt the need to document it. His waking up at the crack of dawn was a source of serious trouble in our house and probably he watched more TV than recommended because at 5:30am all his parents were capable of was turning on Sprout and drowsing on the sofa.

He only just this past year decided things other than tacos, pizza and goldfish crackers might possibly be food he could enjoy eating. All the years before are filled with long long battles over just how much of what he was going to eat.


These were his favorite books as a toddler. He could read truck related words long before he could read anything else. (much like Mayhem who knew Triceratops before he knew cat).

He’s reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid and How to Train Your Dragon now.  DH is counting the time to when he can read Lord of the Rings.

He’s less of a gamer than Mayhem, though he loves his Nintendo DS.

His big fascination right now is Pokemon. He knows all about them, buys the cards with his allowance,and has a few DS games.

He is still interested in Star Wars and Legos

He is an artist. And he gets paid for it!

He still sleeps with the bear my mom gave him and the monkey I gave him when he was born.

He’s so big! He’s 50 inches tall and weighs 50lbs.

Too big really for my lap anymore.


And he is just going to get bigger

Happy Birthday my not so little man!

Forgive all the baby photos please, I didn’t have a blog then so I rarely got to share them.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Causing Mayhem

Havoc gets his artwork posted so I feel I need to talk about Mayhem for a bit since he is not as into drawing or writing as his brother.

Havoc talks non stop. All the time. Constantly. And since school started and he’s had to keep it in during the day, it comes out in a flood when he gets off the bus. And Mayhem can’t get a word in. But he persists. Whenever Havoc pauses for a breath Mayhem speaks up “You know I…” but Havoc just keeps going. Mayhem is persistent though. He just keeps interrupting and interrupting until an adult intervenes and makes Havoc let Mayhem talk. (I let it go so long because I keep hoping Havoc is about to get to the point, but he never is)

Then Mayhem says his one sentence and is done.

Mayhem has his own personal sound track. He goes about his day and occasionally he accompanies himself with a little tune which I cannot replicate because it sound like do do do do do do do do do. But with specific timing & emphasis. Sometimes he just walks around Target humming it to himself.

Mayhem is often the kid playing off by himself. He is also the kid who wants everyone play one game together. “Lets connect up or DS’s together!” “Bring your wiimotes so we can all play together” “Lets play in the woods”. He’s uncomfortable when there are several small groups doing different things. It’s all or nothing and I don’t understand why.

Mayhem is such a techy gamer he doesn’t play Freeze Tag on the playground. He plays Pause the Game.

When Mayhem plays Wii it  is a full body experience

05 gamer1

Mayhem’s favorite food is pizza. Cheese only. Second is mac & cheese. Kraft only. If you serve him non Kraft mac & cheese (obvious because of noodle shape, cheese color & overall creaminess) he will pitch a fit because ‘this macaroni & cheese is frustrating me’. Glory Days Grill is known to our family as “the place with the frustrating mac & cheese” because they are the only chain in the area not to get Kraft microwaveable portions from the distributer.

Mayhem can grow the most beautiful head of curls



But he won’t let me brush them so he ends up with a short hair cut.


Though he always says “I want my curwls back” he won’t agree to brushing or conditioner because ‘that’s gurwl stuff’

Mayhem is most likely to get into trouble for one of two things. Either he physically assaulted his brother (with or without provocation) or he just screamed “NOOOO!” at a parent when asked to do something, ‘like come eat dinner’ or ‘time to brush your teeth’. He can drag a 5 minute time out for upwards of 45 minutes by shouting a non stop stream of variations of “NO!” and “I didn’t do it” from his room, plus making himself cry & get hysterical. Rule is, you have to be calm & speaking normally to leave your room. His insistence on drama can mean he spends the entire time from dinner to bedtime in his room because he just won’t let himself calm down.

Mayhem’s favorite thing to do is to sneak up on people from behind and then just before he grabs them he announces “There is hug coming up behind you!”

Monday, October 04, 2010

A light in the darkness

I have this problem with laziness.

Imagine, for example a lamp in my living room had a bulb burn out. Say, just to pick a lamp at random, it’s the lamp by DH’s chair. It is one of 4 lamps in a sort of lamp triangle lighting arrangement so it’s light is useful but not technically necessary to normal living room activities, like reading a book, watching tv, playing with legos, surfing the web, etc. You can still do all this, it’s just less bright.

It could be days before that bulb gets changed. Even weeks.

Partly it never happens sooner because I only notice it when I am in the middle of something else & I never remember it later. Partly I put it off because I am sure we have no bulbs and I’ll have to remember to buy them. Partly I am thinking “It’s by DH’s chair, surely he’ll notice & change it” But that never happens. (nor does he say “Honey we need light bulbs”, so I know he hasn’t attempted to replace it & been stymied by an absence of them).

I have a phobia of some sort about stocking up on light bulbs. Everything else I have multiples of. I have 5 jars of Skippy Natural peanut butter. I have 14 Scotch bright sponges and 3 jugs of dishwasher liquid.

I have 2 spare bulbs, both 40 watts with those tiny little bases that don’t screw into any fixture in my house & probably I absentmindedly bought them by accident. But I have to keep them in case I am mistaken and there is a fixture that uses them, or maybe the fridge does, or the stove.

I think this phobia is left over from when we moved every year and every apartment had different sized fixtures in the bathroom & I never could remember if this place was small bases or wide bases, or if i need the short fluorescents or the big ones and I always bought the wrong bulbs.

For me, buying light bulbs is like buying hardware. I pretty much have to take the thing I am replacing with me to buy a new one.

Even then I end up having random drawer pulls & bolts & light bulbs in my car or purse for months before I think about them.

Overhead lighting fixtures with 3 bulbs? They never get 1 bulb changed. I always wait until a second bulb goes. If I have to get the step ladder out & then risk having heavy glass fixtures fall on my face while I remove or replace them, it had better be worth my time. Plus by the time I get around to buying the replacement bulb for the first one, a second one has usually blow as well.

In my defense… I am not the only person in this house who uses the lighting. At least one, possibly two, other people could notice the burned out bulb and replace it, depending on location. One of those people doesn’t need a step ladder to replace most of the overhead light bulbs.

But I have always replaced the bulbs eventually. I have inadvertently taught them this behavior. The others have come to expect only I change bulbs and simply live in the dimness until I get around to it. “Better to sit in the dimness than curse about how long it takes to get a light bulb changed around here” being their philosophy

If something were to happen to me and I would not be around long enough for all the bulbs in a room to blow, I think probably they would start moving working lamps around rather than change the dead bulbs.

They would of course, have to do it while struggling through knee high drifts of dirty socks.

This post inspired by the fact that two weeks later I had to cannibalize a working but little used lamp in the junk room in order for there to be one working bulb in the boys room.

I’m going to buy bulbs tomorrow. I swear.