Tuesday, May 31, 2011

edited highlights from the holiday weekend

People went camping.

People other than me.

I stayed home, set up the swimming pool and indulged in some gastrointestinal distress. In fact, I got a jump on the holiday & started my gastrointestinal distress on Wednesday just to be proactive about it.

So it’s now been a week since I slept more than an hour at a time.

And the sleep had been going so well too…

I’m more distressed about that than the gastrointestinal thing.

After all, the gas shall pass.  (pun intended)

Other distressing news?

Well, Sunday evening I went to Wal Mart to buy some chemicals & filters for the pool & when I came out of the parking lot I discovered this in the back of mini van


and not a note in sight.

So this morning, me & my distress get to drive an hour to get an insurance estimate at an insurance approved body shop & leave the car to be fixed. My lovely insurance (and I mean that really, in spite of the hour drive. Everything just is an hour drive) will have a rental car waiting for me there & I can be on my way in about 15 minutes (plus the 2 hour round trip, but I’ll get to check out a new Wal Mart on my way back. Because I never learn & hey, won’t be my car this time)

The insurance told me that due to a peculiarity of the state I live in, the fact that the responsible party (probably in a jacked up pick up – in the COUNTRY? REALLY? ) failed to accept that responsibility, my deductible gets lowered from $500 to $200 & my rental car coverage goes up from $900 max to $50,000 max.

So I’m thinking of renting a Ferrari.

Except I’m not sure how I’ll get the kids’ booster seats into it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Weekly Winners

As always on Memorial day weekend I spend Saturday setting up the pool.


While I was doing that, the dinos were checking in at their weekly Weight Watchers meeting


the blue guy is angry he has put on a few pounds

How many clone troopers does it take to sharpen a pencil?


And earlier in the week we found this guy living in a safety cone, laying on it’s side


For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Scrapbook Saturday

Some new layouts from me






for credits check out my gallery


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ah swimsuit season

And my favorite swimsuit seems to have done a bunk over the winter.

I cannot find it anywhere.

It was last seen at my folks’ house in FL over Thanksgiving vacation & I am 100% sure that, had I left there when we departed, I would have gotten a phone call about it, followed by a UPS package containing it.

This did not happen so I can only assume it is hiding out somewhere in my house unbeknownst to me.

It was a 3 piece set from Lands End, probably in 2006. A tankini top, a regular bottom and a skirt bottom, back when skirt bottoms were a new thing.  I still have the skirt part but the other two parts are missing & it’s the tankini I miss the most.

You see; it fit. It had the proper straps. And it contained the bewbs.

The bewbs are my problem area with bathing suits.

The tummy area is problem too but honestly I’m too busy dealing with the bewbs to give a rap about the tummy area.

See, when I go shopping for bras I have to look for the fourth letter of the alphabet-twice.

And I am a size 10. Sorta. (which is why I wear two piece suits not one piece)

You cannot find a size 10 tankini top that accommodates the fourth letter of the alphabet-twice easily.

Unless you like overflowing out all over the place.

Back before gravity struck I didn’t mind it that much, but since gravity found me in my early 30’s I’m not so into it.

Bathing suits are generally made to fit the first through third letters of the alphabet. So I have to get a size 14 to hold the bewbs, but it doesn’t fit across the back or anywhere else.

Then there are the straps. They must go over the shoulders like a bra, not fasten behind the neck. This is because of the combination of gravity & the fourth letter of the alphabet-twice. Straps behind the neck are painful & make me feel like my head is being pulled downward.

This combination eliminates every easily purchased suit in Target, JCPenny, TJ Maxx & Khols.

Lands End does accommodate the fourth letter of the alphabet issue, giving you choices of ‘regular’, fourth letter & fourth letter-twice (both cost $5 more). But their idea of sizing and a bra’s idea of it are not always quite the same in my experience so I end up guessing. Even after reading the size charts. (lands end size charts & me have had problems since the mid 90s when I never fit into the size jeans the charts said I should & apparently I was a 11,7,9  all at once in dress sizes. How do you begin to choose with that?)

This leads to exchanging, which means I have to put things in the mail & I suck at putting things in the mail.

I think it’s the padding in the bras, because once you get out of ‘regular’ cup or suit size and into the fourth letter of the alphabet or plus sizing, they put in underwires & padding because they think you need the structure.

And probably you/I do, but they don’t seem to take the depth of the padding into consideration or they over compensate for it. So you are either squished by the padding or flopping around all loose in an oversized padded cup. Sometimes it’s a removable pad. Sometimes that is a good thing.

I found a suit I liked online & called around to stores in ‘my area’ (up to 2 hours away) and naturally NONE of them had it in stock. Online reviews seemed mixed on how it fit, with people claiming large, small & true to size, but all of them loving the support & most of them being in their late 30’s & up. So I ordered it at just the fourth letter of the alphabet because historically that seems to work best.

I’m guessing about a week after it arrives my old suit will suddenly reappear in the drawer where it belongs.

***disclaimer…I know I mentioned Lands End a lot, but this post is nothing to do with them really, they just happened to be where I bought the missing suit, so that’s where I went to look for a new one. Mostly this post is about my bewbs being a challenge. There is certainly is no compensation for this post, though jeebus! after spending $60 on a top that may or may not fit I absolutely would welcome some.***

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy Towel Day!

Towel Day is an annual celebration on the 25th of May, as a tribute to the late author Douglas Adams (1952-2001). On that day, fans around the universe proudly carry a towel in his honor.

I have, all my adult life subscribed to the beliefs of the Holy Lunching Friars of Voodoon

“lunch is at the center of man's temporal day & man's temporal day can be seen as an analogy of his spiritual life, so lunch should be a) seen as the center of man's spiritual life & b) held in jolly nice restaurants”

So in honor of Towel Day, I am taking my towel to a jolly nice restaurant for lunch.

Sadly there will be no Pan Galactic Gargleblasters consumed because I have to drive.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Unexpected bumps in the decaffeinated life

3 weeks ago I gave up caffeine entirely.

It’s had it’s problems.

Not the ones everyone was warning me about – headaches.

Everyone said “Oh take a couple weeks to wean yourself, you drink a LOT of coffee”

But that coffee was 2/3rds decaf already,sometimes 3/4 decaf, so just using straight decaf was a simple thing. No physical effects were felt at all.

Until a couple weeks later when my brain started taking longer to boot up in the mornings.

It’s a problem, but not a big one.

There is a bigger problem. The problem  no one warned me about.

The coffee maker itself.

My coffee maker does not like straight decaf coffee grounds & throws up at least half time I make coffee.

By throws up I mean the coffee grounds overflow the filter & sometimes the basket & drip into the pot, clogging its openings (it’s a thermal carafe, keeps my coffee hot for 4 hours) causing the liquid to slowly drain down the outside of the carafe.

Makes a terrible mess.

So I bought a French press coffee maker. A cheap one from Wal Mart for now but probably I will invest in a thermal one. Maybe.

The press has it’s own issues.

It makes a good cup of coffee & the decaf grounds stay where they are pressed & don’t seep into my cup.

But cleaning it is a challenge.

We have a septic tank so I can’t keep washing the grounds down the drain, but getting them loose enough to come out of the bottom of the jar requires water.

But I can’t pour water into the garbage can because I never have a garbage bag that doesn’t have a hole poked into by something or other. 

I try scooping it out with a spoon but half the grounds stick to the sides or I can’t reach them so then I swirl a spatula around the inside & try pulling what is left out that way

Any thing I try makes a terrible mess.

I suppose I could get a really fine mesh strainer, pour water into the jar, get the grounds loose & then strain them & thrown them away.

I’m trying to decide which coffee maker is less work to clean.

How do you clean out your French press if you use one?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Meanders

I had some happy news last week.

I got a spot on Penny Springman’s creative team!  She sells at Sweet Shoppe Designs & her own store My Digital Stash.  I’ll be doing tutorial posts for PSP & Lightroom on her blog starting in June. I also get to play with her stuff.


I did this for an SSD challenge using Penny’s new kit Smile, Sunshine.

I did a bunch of layouts this weekend as well, while waiting for the Rapture to come so I could go loot Target’s camera area.

Looting & pillaging are on my Bucket List you see.

But Jesus never showed up so I didn’t get a new Nikon.

Guess I’ll continue saving my pennies.  It’ll give me more time to dither over which model I want, rather than just grabbing whatever was in stock.

I was going to grab a bunch of books too because I have NOTHING to read. 

Do you ever get like that? There is a stack of new books from the library on your nightstand & while they seemed interesting when you chose them, you now wonder what the heck you were thinking?  Normally I can find something in the house to reread but there is nothing.

DH is all “There are 1000 books in this house! There is something to read!” and I’m all “No there isn’t. I need to buy something for the Kindle”. But all the somewhat interesting to me Kindle books are more than $5, which is my cut off price for new to me authors.  The ones that are under $5 currently don’t interest me.

So there is NOTHING to read on Amazon either!

There is also NOTHING to eat in the house & I am thinking maybe what I need to get are some new cookbooks thus giving me something to read & ideas for something to eat at the same time.

What is your favorite cookbook? Or cooking website? I love Tasty Kitchen & AllRecipes.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I’ve got nothing

The Great Sleep Experiment continues apace. The lack of caffeine has finally caught up to me. Not in the form of headaches but…

see, here’s the problem…

I can’t sleep because my brain is too busy. So I cut out caffeine (among other things sorta, more on that shortly) and now my brain isn’t busy much at all.

But you need your brain to be busy if you expect to function on a day to day basis. Right now, I’m not functioning, mentally, much before noon. Fortunately making the kids lunches & my pot of decaf coffee are so ingrained I don’t need to think about them. It takes about 5 hours of awake time for my brain to boot up without caffeine to give it a kick start & so I am more vague & rambling than usual.

I know some of you are thinking “But how can you tell?”

Trust me, it’s noticeable.

Just ask SciFi Dad who was treated to my early morning mental gymnastics on his Thursday blog post.

I’m starting to think I should stay off the internet before noon but what the hell would I do from 7am until then? Clean?

I’m  hoping this is just a temporary thing or that the cognitive behavioral therapy I’ll start in August helps. Cuz giving up 5 hours of brain function in exchange for nearly 6 hours of sleep is not the best deal out there I think.

But still, there is that nearly 6 hours of sweet sweet uninterrupted sleep.

That seems to be holding fairly steady. I go to bed around 11, I fall asleep around 1 and I wake up around 6:30ish.

I’ve stopped getting out of bed if I can’t fall asleep in 20 minutes, like I was instructed. I’ve tested it. Doesn’t matter if I get out of bed or just lie there, it doesn’t change a thing. Now, if I wake up & can’t fall back to sleep in 20 minutes I do get up, but if I just can’t fall asleep to start with, I stay in bed. I’ve tried staying up until 12:30 but I get too tired & have to go to bed.

Not to sleep, just to bed. The two are mutually exclusive.

Other things I have ‘cheated on’ as DH puts it, though I prefer to think of it as ‘experimental testing of a range of variables under controlled conditions’, are the no alcohol & no chocolate.

People, I couldn’t give up alcohol or salmon sushi entirely while I pregnant either time & don’t get me started on hot dogs, so it really should come as no surprise to him that I had a brownie at bunco Tuesday.

None of these factors appear to effect my sleep or lack thereof so it’s hardly a tragedy.

The two things I have been afraid to test are the no caffeine & no screen time an hour before bed. I think those might actually be part of why I am sleeping better (that & the meds for restless leg syndrome). I was going to try watching tv right up until bedtime Friday night but I have a cold & it’s messing with my sleep & could result in skewed data so I have to wait for next weekend. But I’d been planning on having a Coke that weekend & you can’t reliably test two variables at the same time.

The real test though will be in July when we go visit my folks. Sleeping in my own bed was/is challenging, sleeping in some other bed has been damn near impossible for the past 9 years. I am actually feeling hopeful about it, which is real progress.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Words on Wednesday


My latest manicure. Inspired by Pinterest. I have a board of different manicure photos.

You Tube has a bunch of videos on how to do water manicures or water swirled manicures. I’d explain but seeing it written down is a detriment. It sounds so much more complicated than it is.

Basically polish colors are dropped in water, swirled around & then you dip a nail in them.  There is more to it that that but with a bit of practice it really is fairly easy.

Remember, I am basically lazy. I’m not going to make too much of an effort for anything. So if I can do it, you can do it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Meanderings

The chickens are still with us.

Yep. A whole WEEK and they are still alive.

The boys have gotten up every morning, let them out of the coop & fed them. Well, Havoc has. Mayhem sometimes helps, sometimes not. Havoc has become possessive of the chickens. DH mentioned, while they were loose in the larger fenced area, that they might be able to flap up on to the smaller area & then onto the coop and then get loose. Ever since then Havoc herds them back into the smaller area when DH isn’t around because he doesn’t want them to get loose where the dog could get them.

Odds of those chickens reaching the top of the smaller run are very slim but there is no telling Havoc that.

He was also “shush”ing his friends when they came over to see the chickens & warning them how to behave so they wouldn’t alarm the chickens any.

In non chicken news I’ve decided the ‘workout at 10pm’ thing just isn’t…um…working out. First off I cannot be relied on to make myself all exhausted & sweaty by coming up with leg lifts & jumping jacks.Secondly I hate taking a shower before bed & hate going to bed sweaty. Third I already go to the gym 3x a week or so & adding ANOTHER workout on those days just makes me sore.

Friday I spent 4 hours walking all over creation on a field trip with Mayhem & slept like the dead for 8 hours that night. So I was thinking I either need to get a job as a tour guide, which I would have to quit in 3 weeks when school gets out because I cannot imagine making enough doing that to cover daycare, or maybe I could try working out later in the day. Ideally this would be 4-5pm but right now that is a wildly awkward time, 7pm would be less awkward, but still fairly inconvenient since dinner is at 6:30, and I think the gym closes at 8. Come summer 4pm would work fairly well but for now I am going to try 2pm, which lets me have a 90 minute workout & get home with 10 minutes to spare for the bus.

A side effect of the leg spasm meds I am on to help me stay asleep is weight gain.

Of course THAT is the side effect I get. Not the ‘may cause drowsiness’. Oh no, not anything USEFUL. I get weight gain.  **grumble**  But it is water weight & apparently the weight goes away when you stop taking the meds. So having worked my way up to 1500mgs, I am now trying to work my way back down. But it’s looking like I am stuck at 900mgs. Anything less and the spasms come back. I get a few jerks here & there with 900, but not enough to wake me up. So far anyway. I’m thinking 900-1200 is probably what I need.

Then there is the photo project… you know… it’s just not working out well for me. I’m finding it far harder to take 14 photos a month then it was to take a photo a day. Sure, I was getting burned out but I’m over that now. I think I’ll restart my 365 project on my birthday in July. I’ll just incorporate the 14 photos into it for 2011, then do similar thing for 2012 which will continue after my birthday that year. That way I end up with 3 photo projects in 2 years. I’ll be 44 this year & I have been kicking around the idea of a 45th Year Project since my last birthday.

This way I get to take many more photos of my various manicures over the course of a month. Plus I have some ideas for ‘self portraits’.

It rained all weekend. I read romance novels all weekend & never quite got around to fixing dinner for one reason or another either night. Though I did make Mayhem a pizza.

How was your weekend?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Erratic sleep due to books

So another week on the sleep regimen has passed & really, nothing too exciting to report. Mostly I fall asleep around 1am & wake up around 6. So, it seems the ‘staying asleep’ issue is improving & the ‘falling asleep’ issue still needs work.

And I have cheated on the no chocolate thing a few times to the tune of 1 Reese’s Cup and 2 dozen M&Ms with no real effect one way or the other.

End of story.

Now on to an even better story, which is the reason for the ‘mostly’ in the opening paragraph.

I checked out two books from the library on Monday & spent Monday-Wed consumed with reading them, so much so I totally lost track of time & forgot to meet the boys’ bus Tuesday & found out just what happens when no parent is waiting…

They call the house & inform you the bus is at the end of the driveway & would you please go get your kids.

All that angst last year about CPS…

The books I read were by Connie Willis – Blackout & All Clear. They are combined about 1200 pages, so they are an investment in time (not to mention money but my copies came from the library). You cannot read one without the other. If you just read Blackout you will be annoyed,confused, irritated & have no idea how it ends. If you read just All Clear you will be confused, probably irritated & have no idea how it began.

These books tell the story of 3 time travelling historians (Mike, Polly & Merope/Eileen) from Oxford in 2060 who travel back to 1940 to study various aspects of the early part of WWII on the English psyche – specifically Dunkirk, the Blitz and London evacuees in their relocations. Each of them was only supposed to be there a short time but due to various circumstances they are each unable to return to 2060 & find themselves trapped in the past. Eventually they meet up in London, each hoping the others’ ‘drops’ are working.  A good deal of both books is spent on speculation as to why this happened, is someone watching their drops? did they accidentally change history? but historians can’t change history, that’s been proven, right? or not? or is it something else entirely?

The narrative hops around in time between 1940, 1945, 1995 & 2060 as we learn about various characters visits to those times & efforts by the time travel team in 2060 to get the drops to open & rescue the stranded travellers.

There is a wealth of period detail in there books. To say I felt like I was there does not convey the wealth of detail. London in the Blitz is wonderfully researched & the day to day lives of ordinary people comes through excellently. The main characters are fully drawn & you care about them, so much so my brain could not let it go & kept me up most of Monday & Tuesday night speculating on what happens next & going back over bits trying to draw conclusions & wondering if any of the were going to die. After all, it was the Blitz & while the characters had some knowledge of which Underground Stations were going to be bombed, that knowledge ended in December 1940, so come Jan 1, 1941 they were in the same position as the contemps, never knowing when or where a bomb might hit.

The main criticisms I have seen of these books are that they are 1. too long & 2. there is too much repetition as the characters run around & around checking drops & trying other things to get word back to 2060.

However I have just recently read Land of the Painted Caves & let me say Connie Willis has nothing on Jean Auel for length & repetition.

I’d much rather read about Mike, Polly & Eileen trying desperately to contact fellow historians through various means (and failing) repeatedly than the endless repetitive description of every single cave painting in prehistoric France.

Willis’ makes far more sense. Imagine you were trapped in the past. Wouldn’t you do everything you can think of to get back, even if all the previous attempts to connect had failed, wouldn’t you keep trying? IMO that needs to be described fully to convey the emotions & desperation felt by the characters. Not to mention the motivation for later actions and the conclusion.

Whereas nothing is really added to the story by yet another description of yet another horse on yet another cave wall.

Though perhaps we did not need to keep hearing about Polly’s deadline & the whole ‘for want of a nail’ metaphor could have been cut from a few places. (much like the Mother’s Song in Painted Caves could have as well)

There are small annoyances, like Wardrobe in 2060, where time travellers get appropriate clothing. Wardrobe can’t find a tweed jacket or a black skirt. Seriously? In Oxford? I suppose we’ve all switched to polyester jumpsuits by then, but no there are contemporary people walking around wearing both. Perhaps they are wearing the only ones still in existence?

There are the Hodbin children, who are at times completely believable & at other times completely implausible.  They can be quite hysterical though & turn out to be very important indeed.

Then there is the popular ‘keeping secrets so as not to worry others’ plot device that can & did go on a bit too long. (Really, if I have learned nothing else from fiction it is to trust other adults can handle the truth & you should tell it to them.Even if they seem distraught & you want to save them from more distress.  Otherwise they will draw their own conclusions, take their own misinformed actions & cause even more problems than you thought the truth would.)

There was also the confusion of names the FANYs in 1945 gave one another, using first names, last names & a variety of nicknames, often for the same person, including what I can only assume were all names of WWII era British motorcycles, which left me feeling the same way I did about Ford Prefect’s name in HHGTTG - as if there was a joke, I just was not in on it - and then when one of those names turned out to be Douglas I was convinced it was a sign I was correct.

And last there is part of the conclusion, which left me, and a number of other reviewers going “wait, what?” and paging back through previous chapters to figure out the cryptic statements.

These books are a wonderful mix of historic fiction & sci fi. There is humor, tragedy, perseverance, sacrifice & triumph. I highly recommend them to non-insomniacs & as for my fellow non-sleepers…just surrender & stay up & read them, you won’t sleep anyway.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Words on Wednesday


Welcome to 1975! Christmas 1975 as evidenced by the nativity set on top of the tv.

Note the dark wood paneling, the orange & brown carpet, the orange kiddie chairs, the brown curtains and of course the tv. We’d had this tv for about 4 years at this point.

They would remodel this basement in 1988, just around the time 1970s décor was coming back into fashion. It like the rest of the house would end up all blue & white.

You can, if you squint, see a mark in the middle of the tv screen. That is not dust on the negative. That mark is actually where the tv screen was cracked one Saturday morning when my brother took a swing at me with a glass soda bottle, missed, and hit the tv instead.

We were regularly left alone in the basement family room for hours on Saturday mornings. My parents left out bowls and a box of cereal & put small Tupperware bottles of milk for us in the fridge so we could get our own breakfast & they could sleep in.

I’m not sure what my brother was doing with a soda bottle. I know he got it from the garage, since that’s where they was kept, but we had no way to open one so he couldn’t have been drinking it. I also don’t know why he swung it at me, probably we were arguing over whether to watch Scooby Doo or the Banana Splits.

My parents FREAKED when they saw it. And not just because we would spend the next 6 years watching tv on a chipped screen but also because had the tv screen been less sturdy, or my brother been older than 4 & stronger, he could have shattered the glass & possibly caused the tv to explode & catch fire & burn the whole house down & we all would have died “including your hamsters too”.

I don’t recall much specific of my mom’s freak out, but I do remember the bit about the hamsters.  Weird what sticks in your head.

So great an impression did she make on me, that I am, to this day, freaked out when my kids get too close to the tv while holding something.

And by too close I mean 10 feet away.

But it has not stopped me from setting out bowls, cereal & putting milk in easy to pour containers on the weekend so we can sleep in.

I have my priorities.

And soda comes in plastic bottles now.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New animals in the menagerie

Well, a mere 14 years after moving to the country, where we are surrounded by farms on all sides, we have finally got some farm animals of our own.

We now have 4 chickens and so far they have survived 48 hours in our care, which is just short of miraculous. (We’re lazy & somewhat incompetent & know only what we’ve read on the internet about chickens, well, that & some advice from some people we know who keep chickens but still…).


This is Stewin’, Fried & Fricassee. Rotisserie walked out of the shot as I was taking it.


WHAT did you say my name was?????

The reason we are surprised they are still with us is her


Our dog, Houndini. DH has been fairly certain we are not getting chickens so much as buying expensive & short lived dog treats. But after a couple hours Houndini lost interest in the walking snack bar & so far things are ok.


It’s not so much a chicken coop as a chicken prison. Maximum security.

It’s not the chickens breaking out we are worried about but Houndini breaking in.

Once the chickens are settled in and we’re sure Houndini & the cats have lost interest in them, we’ll let them  out of the smaller run attached to the coop & into the larger pen area.

Also once DH has replaced that leaning piece of wood with plywood actually cut to fit & nailed on the coop to keep the chickens from escaping out of the big gap there.


The boys are responsible for letting the chickens out in the morning & feeding them. They get up at the crack of dawn anyway so they might as well start doing something more useful than fighting over which DVR’d episode of Star Wars the Clone Wars they are going to watch.

I’m more concerned the chickens will escape the boys than that the dog will eat them.

Despite their names, which is just me amusing myself, we got them for the eggs, though we have 4-6 more weeks before they are mature enough to start laying, but then we’ll have fresh laid eggs! Though given laying times, it will take most of a week to have enough for an omelet.

Mostly this is an experiment. We’ll see how it goes.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Weekly Winners

Back from 2 nights camping edition



Meanwhile, while they were gone…

the clones got their speeder stuck in the mud and had to call the Jedi Auto Service


and I went grocery shopping


For more weekly winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Vanity, Martha & Common Sense have an argument

I went shopping at TJ Maxx recently.

I rarely go there because mostly I find clothes that are in my size but ugly or clothes that are cute & the wrong size.

And this time was no different - I found THE CUTEST DRESS!


They only had it in purple in a size 6, which I have not been in..oh…say a decade or so, probably more like two, possibly an entire quarter century, since I regularly forget just how old I actually am & don’t honestly recall ever being a size 6 though I must have been at some point- logically speaking.

Common Sense shook it’s head at the size & wondered where exactly Vanity thought I’d be wearing it if there was a size 10 version.(Common Sense spends a lot of time asking “And where will you be wearing/using THAT?” when I go shopping. I think I have mentioned before that Common Sense sounds like my mom.)

Vanity was drooling over this dress, so much so that I found myself in the dressing room in possession of a dress I suspected would not be able to put on. I doubted I could pull it up over my hips or bring it down over my bust.

Much to my shock and awe it DID come up over my hips

Did I mention I cannot recall the last time a size 6 did that?

And it zipped just fine over my waist!

But then it stopped & no amount of tugging & twisting on my part could budge it.

Defeated by the bewbs!

They had a red version in an 8. It was loose in the waist (an 8! loose in the waist! Oh happy day! If only it reflected weight loss instead of the complete lack of standardized sizing in clothing) and smashed my bewbs flatter than a board once I finally forced the zipper up.

I’m guessing a 10 would have fit the bewbs but would have been way too loose in the waist.

I am generally, depending on the body part you are trying to fit & maker of the clothing, a size 8, 10 or 12, which number applies to which body part depends on the manufacturer. And I must admit, more often than not, size 8 only applies to my feet.

(but I am SO buying Nine West pants from this point forward. Size SIX!)

Had they had a 10 I would have bought it.  I could have altered it a bit to fit. I know how to take things in & frankly it wasn’t noticeable that the 8 was loose, it just *felt* that way. What I cannot do it let things out, unless there was a generous amount of fabric to work with & even then the results are uneven to say the least. This dress did not have any fabric to work with.

Enter Martha & her overreaching plans.

Her idea was to take the dress to a fabric store & find some matching purple fabric  & then to take apart the dress at the sides and add one inch wide strips of the purple to the sides & then, depending on how it looked, add an additional one inch wide strip of fabric to the bottom of the dress to tie it all together.

Really Martha?

Maybe if the dress were a solid color. Common sense was 100% against the idea, thinking that it would be ugly & mess up the straps, leaving me with something else to fix. Vanity really really wanted the dress, really really, but was inclined to agree with common sense. Martha was having none of it. Fine, get black fabric, she suggested. Vanity wavered. Common sense stood firm. And I stood in the dressing room having a 3 way argument in my head for several minutes, while my bewbs were painfully squished by the dress.

Common sense sneakily won vanity to it’s side by totally lying that I’d be able to find it online in the right size & Martha was defeated. Martha also lost out to common sense in the housewares department over new sofa pillows.

Martha struck back with an idea to turn the hallway into a photo wall of Legos and other toys. Which is an excellent idea but will probably suck up the rest of the month putting together.

I did find that dress online. No way was Vanity about to let that promise go. Unfortunately it was $128 at Macy’s or $90 some other place & even vanity isn’t willing to spend that much without a specific event in mind & without trying it on to see just where it does & does not fit. If there were a Macy’s within a 45 minute drive I would have gone there & tried on the 10 & probably bought the dress.

It was $40 at TJMaxx, which explains why there was only a single size 6 left.  I did ask if they could call around & find another one in a 10 but no joy there.

Ah well. There will be other CUTEST DRESSes.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Healthy Sleep Habits

April 27, 2011 – My first visit to sleep specialist, who gave me a list of ‘clean living’ things to do over the next 8 weeks. I’ve done almost all of these things at various points over the past 9 years, but this time I will do them all AT THE SAME TIME!

  • Give up alcohol
  • Give up chocolate
  • Give up caffeine
  • Give up ALL screen time after 10pm
  • Exercise vigorously for 20 minutes prior to sleep
  • Get out of bed if can’t sleep after 20 minutes
  • No going back to bed in the morning

April 27 – I decided I need time (and a glass of wine) to take this lifestyle change on

April 28 – I created a schedule to make this happen (the doc told me to take up to a week to give up the caffeine so I don’t feel bad dragging this out a few days)

April 29 – I gave up caffeine (not too hard really, my coffee was 2/3 decaf already & Coke & Sprite are interchangeable to me, no headaches reported, despite much naysaying).

I woke up at least 6 times, probably more, during the night. I felt I never really did sleep all night long.

April 30 – I gave up chocolate. Yep, booze is more important to me than chocolate. (also not too bad as I ate the last of the ice cream on the 29th & just didn’t buy anything chocolate to replace it)

I fell asleep about 1a & slept until 7a.

Oh so it’s the CHOCOLATE’S fault! Damn Damn DAMN!

May 1 –I got off the computer at 7pm & turned the tv off at 10pm (thus missing the announcement at 10:30 about bin Laden being killed. First time I have the tv off at 10pm in a decade & look what happens). I also gave up alcohol (tricky, there are 4 bottles of wine and 8 of hard cider in my house & I have to keep reminding myself not to drink it) I started some meds for my not-quite-but-almost restless leg syndrome. Side effect of the meds? May cause drowsiness.

HA! I laugh at your puny side effects!

I went to bed at 11. At midnight I forced myself to get out of my nice warm bed & go sit in the living room & read. I was physically uncomfortable now & had not been uncomfortable in bed. I ached, I was cold, my hips hurt. I could not get comfortable reading. I did some yoga & then paced in circles around the kitchen island until I felt I’d been up long enough. I fell asleep at some point after 12:30 but then was awake from 1-3 off & on before finally dropping off around 3:30 & woke up at 6:30.

May 2 – I added the nightly exercise. I did the the Prison Workout.  Ok, really I just *tried* the prison workout.  210 burpees are not happening anytime soon. 12 burpees was as many as I could manage before my arms gave up. I did some planks and some wall squats & tricep dips & then some really really slow burpees with no jumping at the end.Also? Another side effect of the meds is headaches (which may or may not clear up after a few days) I had one. It sat right between my eyes for about 4 hours in the middle of the day & possibly was allergies.

I went to bed at 11, made myself get back up at 12:30, read a bit & did some jumping jacks, went back to bed around 1, eventually fell asleep & stayed that way until 6ish.

May 3 – Had another headache, hit at the same time as the last one & lasted about as long, but this one was in the back of my head. Did mostly the same exercises as last time. I need to get that better planned.

Went to bed at 11, got out of bed at midnight, read, did some yoga, paced around the island & went back to be around 12:45. Not sure when I fell asleep but it was not long after 1:20, which was when I thought to myself “Dammit! I have to get back up again.”. I slept until 6:15 when my kids started screaming at one another about who gets the last of the Frosted Flakes.

May 4 – Brain function is down. I went into Safeway to buy taco shells & mexi cheese for dinner, found the aisle & grabbed the box. On my way to get cheese I had to walk past the meat department & then I began to wonder what I was going to make for dinner. No lie, I spent several minutes looking at the various meats, considering what was on sale & what I might make with it, or do I just want spaghetti, maybe DH could bring home a pizza. All while holding the box of taco shells in my hand. It was only through association of various ideas that I finally recalled that I was making tacos.

I had 2 chocolate chip cookies & I did not exercise last night because I did Pump at the gym & your body needs a rest. Went to bed around 11, not sure when I fell asleep but it was around 12 I think, woke up at 5, fell back to sleep woke up at 5:55, fell back to sleep & then the alarm went off at 6:40. I think I might have found the right dose for the muscle spasms as I had  none last night.

So, progress is being made. 5 hours in a row is 2 hours more than I normally get.

I also lost 2 pounds! Yay me! 5 hours sleep and 2 pounds down!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Words on Wednesday


May the Fourth be with you!

Happy Star Wars Day!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Only 23 more to go

At the end of April 2009 we acquired 48 months of car payments. We bought a 2006 Grand Caravan with 24,000 miles on it and I wrote this post about it.

I thought I would update that post with my thoughts after 2 years of ownership


We had looked at 2008 version in an electric blue first & I liked it more. But I didn’t like it $4000 more. It had the same mileage & I like the radio better. I mostly liked that it was electric blue.

Because there are exactly zero electric blue mini vans in the Wal Mart parking lot at any given time.

But silver?

You can’t swing a cat without hitting a silver mini van in the Wal Mart parking lot.

However it does have electric doors, so I can stand in the general vicinity of several silver mini vans, push the remote & then go to whichever one’s door opens.

***2010*** This losing-the-car-in-the-parking-lot thing is pretty much a monthly occurrence. I regularly find myself standing next to a silver minivan, pressing the remote unlock button & wondering if the battery on the remote has died because the door remains locked. It isn’t until I actually look in the van that I realize it isn’t mine. Then I start walking around pressing the rear door button on the remote until it opens & I can finally locate my own minivan

***2011*** I’m still doing this on a regular basis. “Look for the silver mini van!” has become the standing joke in our family

Mayhem loves the electric doors. He pushes the button & then stands in the doorway waiting until the last possible second to leap through the gap, like Indiana Jones.

Assuming Indiana Jones would have anything to do with a mini van.

***2010*** Mayhem gave this up during the summer. Now, both boys are so blasé about the auto doors they can’t even be bothered to push the button to close the door after them, leaving the Magic Door Button Fairy (me) to do so

***2011** Dude, push the damn button already. How hard is it to remember?

I wanted a car with more space for luggage and thought a third row would be nice for the 3 times a year I need to seat more than 4 people in the car. We looked at a lot of hatchbacks with 3rd row seating & then we got to the 08 Grand Caravan

It has this


Stow & go seating. No need to take out chairs or benches & find somewhere to store them.

And when the seat isn’t collapsed you have a storage bin!

The car has POCKETS! I couldn’t resist the pockets

It gives me the ability to do this


Havoc sits in the second row, Mayhem in the third & I get all this space to climb in and get everyone settled without pulling any muscles reaching over anyone.

The real bonus though is that they CAN’T TOUCH each other.

Sweet Mary & Jesus what an unexpected blessing!!! They can’t grab things away from each other. They can’t push or shove each other.  Drives are so much quieter now.

And! And! The boys decided all on their own that they wanted to sit that way! They do it willingly!

***2010*** Seriously, y’all, this is key! The not sitting next to one another thing is so wonderful! Having that seat down makes the van feel so spacious and roomy! Even when Mayhem is alone riding with me, he sits in the back seat. He likes the shelf and pockets next his seat back there. I had to pop that seat up & move Mayhem into it when we bought the new TV and TV stand and OMG! the car felt sooooo crowded! And the boys COULD NOT STOP TOUCHING each other while they were sitting next to one another. I could not get that seat stowed again fast enough.

***2011*** Lately Mayhem has been suggesting he might like to sit next to his brother & thinks I should pop up that seat. I’m holding out for as long as I can though. It always ends in tears when we let him sit there.

I may never pop up that other seat again.

The only drawback is Mayhem is so far back I have to throw snacks to him and hope he catches them.

Bring the water & pemmican! I’m headed for the back of the mini van!

Speaking of the back of the mini van


There is no trip to Sam’s I cannot make.

I won’t have to UPS clothes to FL for our vacation this year. 

DH won’t have to pack the explosives around the children when we buy fireworks in South Carolina.

It even has a roof rack, in case, you know, we want to bring our bed with us.

***2010***I have not been to Sams much since I bought the car. With the end of needing diapers and formula and finding fresh chicken in bulk elsewhere, there hasn’t been much need for buying things at Sams. But! I was able to pack everything for our trip to FL and DH was able to buy a bunch of fireworks and all of it fit fine in the back area.  Plus it hauled a bunch of furniture from IKEA and the aforementioned TV and stand.

***2011*** No large purchases this year, but did you  know you can fold down all the seats and fit a queen sized futon in the back? True. DH does it sometimes while camping.

Then there is the entertainment system.


It doesn’t play 8 tracks, VHS or Blue ray but other than that you are good to go. It has a cassette player, a CD player that also plays mp3s, plus an AUX jack for my mp3 player & Sirius satellite radio. Hell, it may even get AM & FM stereo but where we live there is only the Christian Country station & a static-y NPR station from someplace about 75 miles or so away & I haven’t really tried those out.

It’s overkill in a big way. All I use is the Sirius and the AUX jack. But it makes no sense to have it replaced because I want to get rid of features.

***2010*** I still only use the Sirius and the AUX jack & had to get SOMETHING INSTALLED to it so I can listen to my mp3 player while the kids are watching a movie. Somehow in all that media overkill that little feature got forgotten

***2011*** Stupid new AUX jack is the bane of my existence. It has cable issues, meaning every single connector cable we try comes across static-y after about 2 hours of listening

Oh, and it has a 6 disc DVD changer. 6 DISCS people! That’s like 12 hour of non-stop movie viewing (or at least 12 hours of no arguments about who’s turn it is to pick a movie because that was all decided before we left home & you get what ever is next up in the player) And wireless headsets! We had a dual monitor portable DVD player we strapped to the back of our headrests in the Cruiser. They were connected by assorted cables & there were other wires that plugged into the car and headset wires…wires all over the damn place.

It’s not an option we would ever have chosen ourselves because it just seems like a hassle waiting to break, but I’m delighted to have it. We use it on any trip over 90 minutes long & we take one of those every month just about.

***2010***We still think it is a hassle waiting to break but we still love it. It actually gets used less than I predicted. For instance it was last used when we came back from FL at the end of November. But it was like the Holy Grail of travel accessories for that trip. Mayhem has a tendency to switch receiver channels on his headset, thus cutting off the sound, and then wailing & whining about it NOT WORKING STUPID FING! and since we never know if it’s user error or dead battery & the headsets don’t receive in the front seats (behind the video screen), the passenger seat rider has to lean back at an extreme angle in their seat to get their head in front of the movie screen and then play with the buttons to test the headset, or pull over the car, get out, get in the back and then test the headset should there be no passenger available. Not fun. But since movies get watched on maybe 5 occasions all year, not that big a deal & hopefully Mayhem will be able to do his own troubleshooting before too long.

***2011*** The remote has stopped working. This means we can’t mute the sound to just headphones, so we have to listen to the movie because without the mute I can’t switch the AUX on to play our audiobook. It cuts the speaker sound out on the DVDs. So I need to order a new remote, but there are two styles, neither of which looks like the one I have.

2010 - The car currently has 40,622 miles on it, which is sort of low for me but since I am not driving the kids to school & back any more thanks to the wonders of public school buses, I am not driving  250 miles a week.  It has to get a new inspection sticker today & the back brakes are squealing so I know they will need fixed, but I have high hopes that for the first time in about 5 years I am not going to get hit with a bunch of surprise repairs that need done.

2011 – The car has 57,009 miles on it & has needed some brake work. It also randomly puts the engine light on because it doesn’t like how I put the gas cap back on. My tags expired Sunday & the DMV never sent me a notice about it. I only noticed it because I was washing the car. I didn’t even notice the inspection sticker until I was reading the old post on this. I need to get that done this month. But as before I doubt I’ll get hit with lots of unexpected repairs. At least I hope not.

Overall I’m liking the mini van.  Still wish it were electric blue though.

Monday, May 02, 2011

April book reviews

I read 14 books in April. 4 on the Kindle and 10 dead tree books from the library.

On the Kindle I read

The Folklore of Discworld – which tries to be a comprehensive collection of folklore & myth on Discworld but mostly draws parallels between things on Earth and things on the Disc.
Nothing wrong with that in general, but I was hoping for more Discworld myth & stories than Earth stuff. I could make nearly all those connections myself. I enjoyed it but felt it wasn’t living up to what it could have been.

Anthem for Doomed Youth: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery (Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries) – I love this series but this book was a bit of a disappointment. It was well written, the familiar characters were there (though why Melanie was I can’t guess). Alec was off on one big mystery Daisy was unable to get tangled in (much to the Superintendent's delight) and there was a smaller one that she was in over her head on (that the Superintendent didn’t hear about until it was over) but it seemed to be missing that spark you get when Daisy & Alec (her CDI husband) work together on something.

The Land of Painted Caves: A Novel (Earth's Children) – And at last, what was possibly the slowest written series in the English language is  over. I read Clan of the Cave Bear in 1982. No spoilers but anyone who has read the series saw the ending coming from 3 books back.. ok, one spoiler – we now know who’s to blame for the rise of the patriarchy.
This book has the feel of Plains of Passage, lots of travel. Ayla is taken by Zelandoni all around France to see all the painted caves as part of her training.  Fewer caves would have been fine. Or perhaps less description of them. Detail overload on the cave paintings. Lots of research went in to it but perhaps every last one of those findings did not need to make it into the narrative.  Also? Jondalar was missing much of the time. Oh he was around… in that vague way secondary characters are around & I think the book suffered from that. Especially since we learn in the last quarter of the book that he has had this whole subplot of his own running since the beginning without word one mentioned until then. I think dragging that plot out into the light early on would have added some needed tension & character development to the story. I’m glad I read it, I needed the closure after 30 years, but it felt lacking somehow.

The Clue of the Twisted Candle  -A Classic Mystery from the Golden Age.  I love 1920s-30s British mysteries. This one is a classic locked room mystery, which are always entertaining in small amounts. It confused me at first because there was a murder & a set up against an innocent person & then a conviction in the first third of the book & I was like “Well, now what?” But then the *real* murder happened (that first murder was just incidental to the plot). I’m not used to such a vast amount of guilt being so incredibly obvious. But HOW did he do it, without the how there will be no conviction! This was a great read & free on Kindle too!

Overall the Kindle reads were rather a disappointment this month, apart from the last one.

I had more success at the library

The Spellman Files: A Novel There are 4 books in this series & I read all 4 of them in a row. If you like Stephanie Plum or Meg Langslow you will like Isabel Spellman. She was born into a family of PIs and has been working for them since she was 15. Unlike Stephanie though, Isabel learns from her mistakes (and they are doozies) & over the 4 books she grows as a person, slowly putting her troublemaking aside, learning to think about others, learning judgment, patience & to trust herself, though she still has issues with men. She refers to them as “ex boyfriend #12” while still dating them since no relationship has lasted more than 3 months. It’s a fun series overall, though her younger sister can be really annoying.

The River Knows – a Regency romance with a mystery thrown in. It was exactly what I expected. I’ve read her books for years & years & I enjoy them for the mind candy

To Defy a King – Historic fiction set at the time of King John & Magna Carta, part of a series. This book focuses on Mahelt Marshall, daughter of William Marshall & her husband Hugh Bigod. They are part of the rebellion against John…eventually…it takes time for Hugh & his family to work around to it, though Mahelt has been anti John since we met her as a child. It is very well done, great research, lots of detail. Loved it.
The Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation Christmas A fun entry in the series. It’s the story of Turnip Fitzhugh, the buffoon of the series, and Arabella Dempsey, who has appeared a couple times in other novels as a shy wallflower. They come together over some trouble with a missing Christmas pudding & end up taking on a murderous spy. Lots of witty repartee & I love witty repartee. I enjoyed it, probably more than the rest because it stayed set in the past, none of the hopping back & forth between the past & the present like the rest of the series.  I like the story about Eloise & Colin but sometimes the hopping back & forth drives me buggy. I have been known to check the books out & read them skipping the modern stuff & then reread them skipping the historic stuff, so I appreciated just having one story to follow in this one

The Forever Queen Emma, queen of Ethelred the Unready & of Cnut, mother to Hardicanute & Edward the Confessor. Great Aunt to William the Conqueror. 50 years as Queen of England, dealing with the Vikings & politics & men being men. A very interesting book about a very intriguing woman. I found it hard sometimes to sympathize with her. She cares more for her crown than her kids & is cruel to them & her 1st husband (though she’s giving as good as she gets where he is concerned) I simply cannot imagine the choices she had to make to keep her sons by Ethelred alive when Cnut came to the throne, but she doesn’t seem to like them very much & to be acting for England rather than as a mother, which I suppose is the price you pay for power.  It was very engrossing, lots of period details, rather heavy on temporary secondary characters with similar names but I highly recommend it if you like historic fiction.

The Third Circle (Arcane Society, Book 4) Regency romance with a supernatural twist. I’m not a fan of the mystical in most books anymore. Once I was. Once I loved it, but apparently I OD’d & now find the mere mention of the paranormal a turn off (oh look ANOTHER vampire/zombie/witch book). But this was ok. I can deal with this level of mystical, its more of an ESP kind of thing. Kind of a weak plot though, the heroine can use stones to help people in various mental ways. There is a particular stone the bad guys want & the good guys want & she wants for herself. You can guess the plot from there I suspect
The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer Oh look! ANOTHER vampire book! I’d been staring at this book on the ‘new books’ shelf for a couple of months now. Being a student of Tudor history I have a hard time turning down any form of Tudor fiction… but vampires? Really? Did you have to go there? But then I hit a lull in book acquisition & ran out of viable options. There was NOTHING TO READ. Or at least nothing that drew me more than this book.
It was not as bad as I feared and I’ll read the next book when it comes out. I can deal with this vampire series. Elizabeth turns out to be the Slayer that England has been waiting for over 1000 years. Her direct ancestoress was Morgaine, the famed vampire slayer of yore. (what? you didn’t know that?) Morgaine failed to slay Mordred (the Vampire King. He became a vampire to defeat his father Arthur) 1000 years ago after the battle where Arthur died (several other slight detail changes in that story) & ended up dying herself while only gravely wounding him. Though apparently she killed off all the other vampires. Mordred has spent the past 1000 years rebuilding his vampire kingdom & waiting for the new Slayer, who he plans to seduce to his side & make his queen. Elizabeth has other ideas. Yeah, it’s a vampire book, no I don’t like vampire books, but I kind of like this one. Vampires are clearly the bad guys, they don’t hog the narrative, Elizabeth is still Elizabeth but with something extra. I can deal with this.

Just as a disclaimer…I OD’d on Anne Rice back in the day. I loved the Lestat books (though Marius was my favorite) and read them over and over and over and well… I feel sort of ‘been there, done that’ about vampires now. Then there were her Witches books. Same thing. So I’m just not that into the current plethora of vampire/zombie/magic books that are saturating the market. I try some every now & then, usually I am disappointed. I got lucky this month.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Weekly Winners–Smithsonian edition

We went to the Natural History Museum at the Smithsonian this week. I took a ton of photos, these are a few of my favorites from the Hall of Gems.

Mostly I thought they looked like food

Chocolate chunk ice cream


Hard toffee candy




Scrambled eggs (lower left)


And some mushrooms


For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.

Thanks for stopping by!