Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The cherries dress

my favorite.
It's hard to see in the tiny picture how much detail is on it. It's constructed just like Osh Kosh skirt-alls would be. Lots of fake double needle stitching, a cute pocket on the bib, etc.
Rilla was cute. She saw that the skirt landed above the doll's knees and said "Mom, the skirt's too short!" I had to tell her the rules were different for dolls.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Way too proud of this to wait

I made doll clothes for Rilla (and a niece) for Christmas. She's getting an 18" doll and now the doll has five outfits to wear. Here's four of them: Those are a pair of boot cut jeans. The pattern made straight legs so I altered it for the jeans. I did some fake double needle stitching and fake pockets on the front.
This is a dress that is made from the fabric we used for her flower girl dress she wore to her aunt's wedding. My niece was also a flower girl, so she has a dress to match this one.


A mini jumper made from the fabric I made Sarah's mini jumper out of. The capris are also a pattern alteration. I would never wear white capris, but they sure look cute on a doll, don't they? My niece has an outfit to match exactly. Their dolls can be twins at the Christmas party.


And the clincher: PJ's to match Rilla's new Christmas PJ's. The doll is dressed in them and wrapped up. I can't wait to see her face when she opens the doll and sees her in matching PJ's.

I don't have a picture of the black with cherry print baby wale corduroy overall skirt (with matching red t-shirt.) It's cute too.

BTW, yes, that is the doll we got her. Yes, I used it as a model and dress form for my sewing and pattern alterations. Yes, I had fun dressing the doll. I am a girl, after all.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dinner Table Masterpiece

"Look she made a sculpture."

"Why yes, she did. How lovely."

"It's a comment on petty dictatorships present in the modern world."

"it is?"

"Yes. It's titled, 'Eat your dang food!'"What an artist.

PS. Yes, she's in her pj's at dinner. December is not a month in which I have the energy to wrestle unwilling toddlers into clothing. Especially toddlers who can undress themselves and put the dang pj's back on whenever they want. I try begging and bribery. If they don't work, the pj's stay.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Modern Life

Matt wanted to know what time it was. He went running into the kitchen and then ran back out yelling for Rilla.

"It's 8:32!" he said. "I checked the thing that makes the popcorn."

What else is it good for? ;)

It's a completely different generation

Last week, Sarah competed in a talent show. She sang "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz and did a fantastic job. She won second place, beaten out by a couple of girls who did "Loathing" from Wicked. They didn't sing nearly as well, but they had personality and costumes. Sarah is still a bit stiff at the microphone.

Anyway, the first act was a garage band made up of 8th graders. It sounded like you would expect a garage band of 8th graders to sound (although they all blamed the equipment, of course.) There were four boys on stage and off to stage left were two very proud dads working the sound system. The dads helped set up and you know those dads bought the instruments.

It's just so different from generations past. My husband has a friend who's father refused to buy him a guitar when he was a teen because rock music led to the devil. Then Steve's friend learned how to play electronica on a keyboard. Now that example is a bit extreme and most parents were pretty resigned to heavy rock by the time we were teens, but it still got a lot of guff. Lots of "what is that crap you're listening too?" Now of course, parents are trying to keep up on who's hot in the music industry. They love rock and not a few of them aren't bothered by rap either. (not me. Rap is crap.)

Isn't it funny? What are our children going to do to rebel? Instead of getting a "cut your dang hair!" Their moms' will say "You know you'd look great with the tips dyed blue!" Poor things. Your heart just breaks for them, doesn't it?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Some Christmas Projects

Here's a picture of my crayon rolls. Aren't they cute? They roll right up and secure with a ribbon. My first one fastened with a snap and I love that because even Libby can fasten it. The ribbons are easier to sew on, though, and since I was doing several I went that route. The ribbons look cuter anyway.
Here's a photo of it unrolled. Cut 2 pieces of heavy fabric 25"x5", like denim, canvas, or corduroy, for the base and one piece of fabric (preferably a contrasting fabric) 25"x6" for the pocket. Fold the pocket in half length wise and press flat. This will give you a piece of fabric 3x25. Lay it over the right side of one piece of base fabric with raw edges matching and the fold to the center of the fabric and pin. Starting at the center, mark the pocket every inch. Sew down along those marks. You should have 1/2" on each end beyond the 24 pockets.


On the other piece of base fabric, sew down an 18" ribbon about 4 1/2" down from one end of the base fabric. If you use polyester ribbon, you can melt the ends with a match to prevent fraying. Lay your two base pieces with wrong sides together. Pin. Sew double fold, double wide bias tape all the way around the edge.

Easy peasy. They make great stocking stuffers or friend gifts for young children. 3/4 of a yard of 60" fabric will give you the base fabric for four rolls. 3/4 of a yard of a 45" will be plenty for the four pockets.

This is one of the shelves I made for my kids:
It's not painted yet. I bought pre-primed wood ('cause I'm lazy like that.) So far I've spent about 1/2 an hour per shelf. They are my version of this Pottery Barn Kids shelf My kids are pack rats and their beds are their nests. My hope is that we can get the stuff off the beds and on the shelves. I have two 3' shelves for each child that will be secured above their beds.
I still have several projects left to complete and I'm not even thinking about the candy boxes for the in laws. I might manage to get pics of the stockings here in a few days. Maybe. I might be crazy by then. Which is perfectly fine, after all, I do live in Bedlam.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Peanut Brittle

OK, so "next day" is really "five days from now when I have 5 minutes to sit down and think because yet once again I've decided to drive myself crazy in December." Forgive me? oh good. thanks.

Peanut Brittle. It seems to be the man favorite around here. I put off learning how to make it because I prefer fudge and toffee so much more. Brittle, however, is Steve's favorite, so I'm finally showing my love enough to make it for him.

The key to good brittle is the final cooking temperature. If you under cook it, you get chewy brittle; if you over cook it, it tastes burnt. My mom cooks candy without a thermometer (and if you make candy for 50 years (sorry, Mom) you too can stop using a thermometer) so I'm going to teach you how to use a cold water test with this one.

Peanut Brittle

2 c sugar
1 c corn syrup
1/2 c water
dash of salt
1/2 c butter
2 t vanilla
2 t baking soda
3 c raw peanuts (also called Spanish peanuts)

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, salt, and butter in a 4 1/2 or 5 quart sauce pan. Cook over medium heat with a lid on until the candy syrup comes to a full boil. (this is sweating the pan for you. ) Remove lid, add thermometer and cook stirring constantly until the syrup reaches soft ball stage (234 degrees F.) Add the peanuts. Keep stirring until the peanuts begin to look toasted. they will take on a golden color and your candy syrup will be a golden brown as well. When the candy reaches about 295 degrees F (hard crack) it should be done. You can test it with a cold water test to be sure. Grab a short glass of ice water (a 1 c measuring cup works well for this) and drizzle a small amount of candy into the cup. The candy will immediately solidify. Take it out and taste it. It should be hard and crunchy with no bend at all to it. if it's not, cook it a bit longer and test it again. If that is your candy, remove it from the heat. mix in the vanilla and baking soda. The baking soda will fizz up, so stir quickly and completely. Then pour it out onto a buttered, rimmed baking sheet. Using a heat resistant spatula, spread the candy out to be as even and flat as you can. Let the candy cool to room temperature and break into pieces to serve.

If you've missed my previous candy posts, the links are in the side bar. Start with the first one, the candy making tutorial. It will give you some pointers and techniques that will make all your candy come out better.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Choosing a Candy Themometer

In honor of it being December already, I'm adding my annual candy post. Tomorrow (I hope) I'll post a great peanut brittle recipe, but in the meantime, we're going to discuss candy thermometers. Your thermometer can be one of the most important pieces of equipment you own, especially if you make candy infrequently. A quality, accurate thermometer can make the difference between a mess of syrup and the candy you meant to make.

That said, there are some really lousy candy thermometers out there. I'd steer clear of those glass tubes with the colored plastic caps. Water gets in them and then you can't read the temp. They also aren't terribly accurate. Just don't buy a thermometer at a grocery store. All they ever seem to have are those cheap Good Cooks brand ones.

I have one very similar to this one: CDN Thermometer I have had mine for 12 years. It's almost indestructible because of the stainless steel back. It protects the glass and it keeps the thermometer off the bottom of the pan. I also love how long the thermometer is. It makes it so easy to read 1-2 degree changes in the syrup.

My mother used one of these for years: Sunbeam thermometer You'll notice that the glass tube is sealed so it's accurate and moisture can't get inside. They are very, very fragile however, especially when hot. You'll want to keep it well protected or buy a spare.

Instant Read Style You could choose one of these, it would probably read accurately and doesn't have mercury, but you'll notice the small amount of swing on the needle. This would make it very difficult to see small adjustments in temp. There's a big difference in 234 and 238 with candy syrups. If you can't see that difference on the thermometer, you don't want it.

Digital candy thermometers also exist out there, but I have no experience with them. If you do, please leave a comment. I'm very interested and I'd love to know if they live up to the hype.

Try going to a cooking supply store to find thermometers. You'll be able to ask questions and look at several different styles. They'll also have a better quality product. If you have a restaurant supply store in your area, try there first.

You will still need to test your thermometer before you use it no matter which one you choose. Have fun making candy! It's one of my favorite things about the holidays.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Matt Story

Last night Matt read The Little Engine That Could to Steve. This morning he came wandering out of his room, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, with the book under his arm.

"You've got your book." I pointed out, because I'm so good at stating the obvious.

"yeah." says Matt. "I can read it now." And he proved it to me after breakfast. He read with inflection and gave different voices to the different engines. Then this afternoon he read it to a friend who came over to play.

He can read and he's good at it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's nice when kids get older

I've been sick for about a week now. Not horribly sick, but sick. Saturday was the hardest. I have had to stay busy because of the holiday and because of the things I wanted to get done for Christmas. I've also had stuff to do on the house. I haven't had a lot of time to rest and get better. Saturday evening it hit me and I had no energy left to cook dinner.

At 6:45, Steve stopped as he was walking through the family room with plumbing product in hand on his way too the bathroom. "are you going to make dinner?" I could see that there was no way he could do it. He had his dad over helping him install the toilet and sink, so no time for a break.

My brain is good at getting me out of stuff when I don't want to do it, so it came up with a good idea.

"Sarah," I declared, "we're going to play Delicatessen. You're the cook."

I made a "menu" for Rilla with all the sandwich fixings in the house, the two kinds of chips, and the fruit and veggies we had around as well. Rilla happily took the menu and a pencil and began taking orders like a good little waitress. Sarah and Rilla put together the orders and I only had to get up when my roast beef and cheese on wheat (dill pickle chips and carrot sticks) was ready for me.

Yup, it's good when they are old enough to help.

PS: the old bathroom color was a very, very bright sky blue. So not a pale sky blue, but sky blue in the summer, blue with a touch of green to it. It was way too bright for a small room. The longer it was on the walls the more I hated it. The new color is so much calmer and more elegant.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Progress!

On the bathroom of course. I laid the tile last Saturday, we hung the door Friday, and we got it repainted yesterday morning. That afternoon, Steve and his dad installed the vanity, sink, and toilet. I love it! Everything looks so perfect.
The original paint I chose was just awful. I babysat for a friend on Wednesday and when her husband came over to pick up the kids, he offered to repaint the room for us with a better color. Seeing as how he's a professional house painter, we took him up on the offer. The new color is gorgeous. A medium slate blue and it fits the room perfectly. The blue gives it a calm elegant feel without being overwhelming (you know, like the original color. I hate paint chips.)
Here's a couple of photos:



yeah, small room and I don't have a lens wider than 28mm. anyway, you get the picture. The vanity is an ultra slim model with a sink that hangs over the edge. it gave us the passing room we needed to get back to the toilet. The mirror and vanity light are waiting to be hung on Monday along with the glass door for the shower, the towel and tp bars, and the moulding. Ok, so some of that will be done on Tuesday, if only to save my husband's sanity. But we should be completely done with the room by the middle of next week.

Here's a lovely close up of my pretty tile:

didn't I do a good job?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Caving To External Pressure

I bought a velour jog suit. Yeah, one of those knock off Juicy things, only mine doesn't have inappropriate comments across the behind. It's grey and I bought the jacket as well.

I used to roll my eyes at those silly velour sweats. I thought all those women were just following the latest trend in suburbia. Velour just went with soccer balls and minivans.

Ha! Those women just knew something I didn't know. Velour is comfy. Really, really comfy. It's like wearing pj's all day long only you don't get dirty looks from grandma's at the grocery store in velour.

You do however get rolled eyes from self righteous holdouts.

I can live with that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Compromise

So we went to talk to a cabinet guy today. He came out and did a measure for us yesterday with all the plans ready for us to look at this morning. It looks like a nice kitchen. The problem is that we don't have a nice budget. What I would love is about $1500 more than the cheapest option, the option that's still $800 over budget. (Ok, the kitchen I would love would cost about $10,000 more, but I'd be happy with the much cheaper one.) We may go with that anyway, but it puts our timeline back quite a bit. We would have to wait until our tax return came in to do the kitchen.

So, it's all compromises. What do we give up for this? What is going to have to wait? How can we pinch pennies in other areas to make this happen? Are we even going to have the money to do the other bathroom?

The thing is, there is never enough money. That's life.

It's frustrating some days, though.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Look! It's finished!

I did it! I finished all the kids' stockings by Christmas. I'm pretty proud of myself. Now I just have to sew the stinkers together. Which will involve somehow managing the seam line so I don't over sew the embroidery or under sew too much and show too much fabric. With cording in the seam. Doesn't that just sound like fun?


anyway, here's the stocking my mom did for me:

cool huh? I still need to fill in the name on the top. I kept forgetting to give my mom the chart for the letters so she finally just told me I'd have to do it myself. oops.

And here is Libby's stocking:

Hers was actually the easiest of all. It went quickly, thank goodness.

Now I just need to make Steve's by next Christmas and I'll never have to cross stitch anything ever, ever, ever again. If my children want their kids and spouses stockings to match, I'll loan them the pattern book. ;)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Halloween Pictures


Aren't they cute? Libby's face totally cracks me up.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Update

We had a busy Halloween week. We ate plenty of doughnuts at Grandma Kaye's. We wore costumes. I took pictures. I jammed a piece of pumpkin skin under my big toe.

what? oh yeah. That story. So Monday night we decided to carve our pumpkins. We had a spare that I put on the floor. Libby took it upon herself to move it right behind me. I turned around and promptly stubbed my bare toe on it. I shook it off and moved on until it started to go numb. I looked down and it was bloody with this strange pulpy thing sticking out under the nail. The pumpkin skin had been shoved under the nail when I stubbed it. Steve was nice enough to pull it out for me with tweezers, although it felt the opposite of nice when he did it. the skin piece was an inch long. The only good thing about it was I didn't have to help paint the bathroom that night.

The bathroom is moving along slowly. I was supposed to spend this week tiling and we might get to that tomorrow. I've got a line on a wet saw though, that should help. I'm going to have Sarah help me snap chalk lines this afternoon so we are completely ready to start laying tile tomorrow morning. I'll post pictures when it's done.

I'll also post pics of the kids in costume as soon as I get them off the camera.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another Milestone

Libby has always said "I hold you," when she wants me to pick her up and hold her. It's sweet and adorable with her little three year old lisp. I loved it and a little piece of my heart would just melt every time.

Yesterday she said "You hold me." and that little piece of my heart broke just a little bit.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It's Like Deja Vu

Sarah got her Delia's catalog (teen clothing) in the mail today. The models all look like they were chosen from an Alissa Milano look alike contest. Check it out: Delia's

They even have t-shirts with cuffs that are meant to be worn over the hand and red and black buffalo check in whatever clothing item you like. Doesn't it make you just feel like your best friend is going to call in five minutes to discuss the new guy in homeroom?

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Banner Day For Bedlam

The furnace is moved! There are heating vents (that work) to the back bedrooms. Woohoo! The workmen aren't quite done, but they are staying late so they can get it so we can turn it on this weekend.

When we first bought this home, we chose it quickly because we didn't have a lot of time. It was priced about $25,000 under value, it was the ugliest house on the street, but had good enough bones to fix up and sell for a good profit. We were right about that; we should be able to price the home at nearly triple the purchase price by the time we are done. That said, it's taking a lot of work to get to that point.

For instance: the furnace was a mess. The home had an addition that had never been ducted into the original duct work. It's been heated with only passive heat since we moved in, keeping the addition about 10-15 degrees cooler than the original section of the house. Which means the living room and the master bedroom have to be kept hot so the kids didn't get too cold in their rooms. See? mess.

Yesterday, the workmen showed up to move the furnace to it's new location and get the ducting mess straightened out. It is now in a closet in the fourth bedroom (not used as a bedroom) and no longer in a closet in the kitchen. As soon as the hot water heater gets replaced in a new location (we're going with an on demand system to save floor space and for efficiency) we'll be able to rip out that kitchen closet. Oh and the wall. A great big wall between the living room and kitchen. It'll be cool.

Now I told you all that so I could tell you this: I got to wire in the furnace. Last night Steve ran the new wiring for the new location while I did the easy part of running the wire fish and not climbing in the attic. He just left a wire hanging out of a box in the wall. One of the installers told me that if the furnace were wired today, they could turn on the gas and we could have heat over the weekend. He also said that we could do a temporary wiring that just involved connecting wires. I can do that.

So I did. Cool huh? Yes, I'm pretty proud of myself. If I had a gold star I'd put it on my forehead.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Presumption

Joshua was visiting at a friend's house yesterday. There were three nine year-olds there and they were allowed to eat in the friend's bedroom. We'll call them stinker 1, stinker 2, and stinker 3 (aka Joshua.)

Stinker 1 calls out: Waaaaaaiter! I want more chicken nuggets!

His grandmother (who was visiting that day,) calls back: I'm not the waiter!

Stinker 2 (a friend of stinker 1) calls out: Waaaaaaiter! I want more french fries!

Grandmother: I'm not the waiter!

Stinker 3 (my boy) calls back: Waitress! I want a glass of water!

She brought him the water.

And then after he told me the story we had a good talk about respect and especially respecting other people's grandmothers.

Monday, October 01, 2007

There are times when a woman doesn't want a huge boquet of flowers

Like when it would cause the shared checking account to hit the negatives, or say the day before leaving on a long trip, or when they were free because the deceased's family didn't want to take home the chapel flowers. Sort of like these:




Yes, my sweet husband brought me home flowers. He came home Sunday after Church choir practice (he directs, I don't attend.) "Come see what I got you for our anniversary!" he said in his falsely bright, the joke is coming tone. It's been 14 years. I'm very, very familiar with that tone. He dragged me into the the living room and proudly pointed out the gaudy display perched on top of the piano, the only piece of furniture in the house that could possibly have held it. "See! I got you flowers." Having just returned from church myself, I recognized them, "um. Those are the flowers from Saturday's funeral." He laughed. Apparently, the family didn't want them and they were offered to Steve as he was leaving the building. He brought them home for me. Isn't he nice?

There is just something about the fact that they sat in a room honoring the body in the coffin that really takes the bloom off them so to speak. I'm trying not to let it bother me, but my goodness it gives me the giggles! See my pretty funeral flowers! They don't even match my room!

That cute bouquet completely dwarfed by the funeral flowers Steve brought home for me last week. That is pretty. I like it lots. It matches my living room. They don't make me giggle though. Not like my funeral flowers do. I giggle every time I look at them. Giggle at the complete ostentation and inappropriateness of them being in my living room. Which is probably why he brought them home in the first place. And that's why I married him, because he makes me laugh.


PS. here's my new purse as promised:



totally cute huh?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

hi.

It's been a week, so I probably should post something, huh?

I've actually spent all week composing blog posts in my head and then promptly forgetting what I was going to say when I sat down at the computer. I had kid funnies I was going to post, because my kids are pretty funny. Can't remember any of them. sigh.

Life has been a blur this week. I was busy all day long all week long and I'm tired. My kids decided to be really, really loud as soon as they woke up. How can they be so wound up that early in the morning? It wasn't even warm enough that I could chase them outside. It's days like this when I decide our house is just too small. I'd like them to get the idea that Sundays are a quiet day, but it's a hard slog. They really aren't quiet about very much. There is more than one that can't even read quietly. I had to get after Matt for laughing so loudly at a funny in a book that I could hear it on the other end of the house. I love that he laughs, I just don't want it to echo. yikes.

So, anyway, on a positive note, I got a new purse. it's totally cute. I've gotten a ton of compliments on it and everyone keeps asking me if I made it. (not because it looks cheap or homemade, but because it's fabric and I've been known to make purses before.) It's chocolate brown oriental style brocade with a cream flower and branch pattern. I got it at Target for $2.50 in the "dollar spot." I'll see if I can get a picture this week and post it.

I'll also see if I can get a picture of Sarah in her new top. It's a jumper top. Black with white polka dots. She wore it twice last week, guess she likes it.

Also look this week for instructions on how to make a crayon roll. it's a fabric roll, like a jewelry roll that holds 24 crayons. I keep mine in my diaper bag. It's been a life saver on more than one outing.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

In Which Amy Does Lots of Walking

This is where I was this morning:
At the Women's Fitness Celebration. I didn't hear the announcement about how many participants they had this year. Last year they topped 15 thousand; this year the highest race number I saw was 14,868 or something like that. There could have been more. The photo above is from about the middle of the block. There's more behind me, and the two blocks to the side are pretty packed as well. That makes three city blocks full of women. Archie Bunker's second worst nightmare. ;)
This was my fourth year participating. I skipped the year I had Libby. It was just too close to her birth to go. I love being at the Celebration. I go with Steve's family. Steve's sister organizes a team for us and it's fun to be there with them. We had a good time but we were tired. This year we parked close to the finish line and walked up to the start, so we already had half a mile on our feet before we even started. Then we walked the 5k (under an hour including a potty break. go me.) Then we walked back to the car. Then we went and walked the mall. (Which was totally worth it because I snapped up a huge bargain at Pottery Barn. The only way I can shop at Pottery Barn.) I estimate we walked five miles by the end of the day.
While we walked back to the car the TV station that helps sponsor the walk was putting together with the women sticking around at the stage a video invitation to Oprah to come next year. It's was so funny to hear the news anchor instructing the women in multiple takes and getting them to cheer loudly each time. (It wasn't hard.) "Oprah, what do you celebrate?" we heard behind us as we left the park. It would be cool if she responded. After all, it's just the sort of thing that she eats up for her show. It's women. It's a charity (they give to a different women's charity every year.) It's encouraging fitness. Friends and family walk together so you get all sorts of heartwarming "three generation" stories. And the clincher is it takes place while she's filming her next season. How could it miss?
Maybe next year instead of getting a shot of Jared the Subway guy:.
I could have a shot of Oprah (hey, maybe she'll bring Gayle.) I'm sure it will be a long telephoto shot. I really doubt I would have the desire to fight the lines waiting for her autograph while pushing a stroller. As you can see, I didn't fight the line for Jared either.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Another Stocking Down


This one is Matthew's (of course.) It took me several hundred hours and months of work, but, dang it, it's done! Now I only have two left. Libby's I hope to have done by Christmas, but Steve's I'm not going to even try to finish before next year. I pawned mine off on my mom. My mommy loves me, but more importantly, she loves to cross stitch.


Sigh. I'm so over cross stitch. I most definitely bit off more than I could chew with this project.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

First Days


School started this week. We had three first days of school. Monday was Joshua and Rilla. Aren't they cute? Rilla is wearing her new outfit from Aunt Cathy. Cathy, aren't the shoes totally perfect? We do a group shot in front of the tree every year. When we started this, Rilla was the cute little toddler.
This is Matt from this morning. He was so excited. He was up and dressed with his back pack on by 6:20 this morning. He came in to our room to give me a hug and tell me goodbye. cracked me up. We made him wait until 8 to take him. He wasn't a bit nervous; he just sat right down and started coloring the picture his teacher had for him.

My kids are all weird. They were all up at 6 this morning. Since our room is right by the bathroom, I didn't get much sleep from that point on. Libby did though. that girl sleeps like a rock. The girls can turn on the light and get dressed and visit all they want and Libby doesn't even stir. This will be nice in the coming weeks. Maybe I'll be able to go back to sleep after the kids leave. Probably not, but at this point I'm willing to think positively.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Excuses, Excuses

Why haven't I been updating my blog? Because I'm freaking stressed. I mean that freaking literally, by the way.

A little over two weeks ago we got a check in the mail from the mortgage company. A nice check that was more than our usual payment amount. I deposited it in the bank and then didn't touch it because I knew it was a mistake or the evidence of some huge mess up on the part of the mortgage company.

Three days later we got a nasty gram from the mortgage company. Your insurance is canceled! You can't not have insurance! We will buy really expensive, really lousy insurance for you! If you have a disaster this insurance will only pay off the mortgage and not actually replace anything in your home or even rebuild the home! You are bad! You will now have to pay through the nose! bwhaaaahaaaa! OK, not the last thing but it felt like it.

This is when I started freaking. I called the insurance company. Why yes, we don't have insurance. We haven't had insurance since last freaking OCTOBER. Wanna know why we didn't have insurance? BECAUSE THE IDIOTS AT THE MORTGAGE COMPANY DIDN'T PAY IT! sorry. breathing . . . OK. anyway, yeah, they didn't pay it. not at all. They just sent us an escrow "refund" ten months later and called it good.

It was not good.

I called the mortgage company. They proceeded to LIE to me. oh, they paid! They paid in November! and then the evil insurance company kept the money and didn't send it back! gasp! It's all the insurance company's fault! Mortgage company was good they did everything right and they feed the homeless and pet cute puppies. Seeing as how I got a late notice from the county for unpaid taxes last June, I didn't believe the story. I did however make arrangements for our new insurance to be billed to our escrow account directly and the mortgage company was happy to pay for overnight shipping of the check. Wasn't that nice of them?

I called the insurance company back and the lovely agent who's represented us in some way since we got married and is as honest as can be and runs a tight ship was happy to come out and assess our property. She called us back and said if we wanted "preferred rates" we would need to fix up a few things. Simple little things, like redo the roof, cover all the bare wood, get Britney Spears to act sane, etc.

So we redid the part of the roof that was bad. I'm still tired from that. Steve rebuilt the back steps and I painted them. We did a patch job with stucco (from a spot where we had taken out a window). I ran around for a week buying crap from Home Depot and spending several hours a day working on projects on the outside of the house. I am tired.

Today insurance lady came back to write up the policy. She walked around the house and admired all my hard work. She told me the story of how the mortgage company called her when they discovered their mistake in July (even though they had been sent notification of the problem at least twice at the time of the cancelation) trying to cover their own butt by asking her to reinstate our policy without telling us it had ever been canceled. Then she told me that she couldn't give us preferred rates after all because our roof has a sag in it.

After two weeks of stress and headache and expense I don't care. I just don't care. We have insurance. Our mortgage company sucks. I'm done with the whole mess anyway.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Every Once In a While I Turn Type A

I've been wanting to organize the girls hair stuff for ages, but I finally found the right container. The ponytail holders are on the top level, barrettes on the second, and the base is saved for bulky items like hair bands and claw clips. The container is a basic two tray tackle box from Walmart, I believe the brand is FlamBeau, but it's a classic design that would be easy to find anywhere. I paid less than $8 for this one. Seeing everything all organized actually makes me want to go out and get more now.

Funny Libby calls the ponytail holders in the top "berries" and carries them around like a toy once they fall out of her hair. She's quite attached to them.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Just a bit Jealous

I want to be my sister today. Today Cathy is helping Karen Burniston work a booth at a scrapbooking convention. That sounds so much more fun than my day and not just because Karen is totally funny on her blog and therefore is probably funny in person or that Cathy is getting paid to do it. Actually I think I'd like to just be there with both of them because Cathy is cool and funny too.

No, I'm jealous because I have had an insane week and it's not over yet. My list today looks like this:
wake up
do laundry
get kids dressed
feed kids
walk three miles (I have a walking buddy, it makes it easier)
go school supply shopping (I took four kids. yes it was awful.)
register Matt for school
call the insurance agent
paint the parts of the siding that have peeling paint (There's quite a bit)
make dinner
get kids ready for bed
fold laundry
finish cross stitch stocking
stay sane

See. It would be so much more fun to be with Cathy and Karen today. I've got good shoes; I would welcome the chance to stand on my feet for eight hours at this point.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I should really keep my mouth shut.

I was not a nice person at the grocery store today. I ran to the corner store for a couple of things and had to stand in a long line because only one cashier was working. Some friends of the young man in front of me came in and struck up a conversation. They were both wearing full bike leathers and somehow this made the young man proudly proclaim: "I bought purple chaps!" and apparently they were for horse riding.

"what goes with purple chaps?" the biker woman teased him.

I couldn't keep my mouth shut. "A large floral bouquet for the horses rear end?" I said quietly, but loud enough to be be heard. This earned me a glare from the young man.

The teasing continued for another couple of minutes and I stayed out of it until the biker pair teased their friend about how long it was taking him to write a check.

"I'm not allowed to have a credit card." he said.

"well, that's probably a good idea." his friend responded. "a lot of young people your age have way too much credit anyway."

He was disgusted with such a sentiment. "I wouldn't get in trouble. What am I going to buy anyway?"

"Purple chaps." The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them.

I'm really quite surprised he didn't key my car.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Back to School

We start school this month. I am slightly sad about this because we have had a good summer. I am however, mostly happy because I prefer our school schedule. Things seem to go more smoothly and we get more accomplished.

I took the girls shopping this past Friday for clothes. This was the first year Sarah could shop at the teen stores. She seemed a bit bewildered by the process. We gave her an armload of clothes to try on and she still hasn't worked out the whole try on an outfit at a time to save time. She kept changing shirts without ever trying on the pants or trying on a pair of pants in the same shirt she showed us last time. We caught a great sale at Aeropostle so there was a lot to try on. Good thing too, otherwise she would have walked out of that store with maybe one t-shirt. With the sale, the prices were better than I've seen at Target. I was even able to buy her a cropped jacket.

Now Rilla understands the trying on process instinctively. She loves clothes. Aunt Cathy treated the girls to a little something at Limited Too. Rilla went through the store gushing about everything while I followed behind blanching at the price tags. Cathy is my hero. I had only planned to buy one cheap T on clearance helped to be affordable with a $5 gift card (the only reason I was even in that store. Those prices are ridiculous!) Now I have Too Bucks that I have no clue what to do with because I'm not spending $20 on a size 6 t-shirt.

The boys were much easier. $9 jeans. get ones that fit. we were done in 45 minutes.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I called it.

Two years ago, I was called to work in the Young Women's organization at church. I was the Sunday teacher for the 12-13 year old girls. When I was called, Steve expressed how cool it would be when Sarah was 12 and I could be her teacher. I laughed and told him that no one keeps jobs that long in our ward.

I've never been so sad to be right. My ward released me one week after Sarah turned 12.

Usually, by the time the release comes, I'm about 3 months into being completely ready for it. This time I just kept loving the calling more. I can't see that happening with a calling again for awhile.

The nursery leaders have been in awhile. It's been a whole five years since I was a nursery leader; they are going to throw off my averages if I don't get called in there again.

Friday, August 03, 2007

In Which Amy Lectures

I have a rant for today. You can skip it if you like. This news story started me on it this morning: Mother cuts off 61 year old son's allowance. It got me thinking about how people put off marriage longer and longer these days. About 20 somethings who think their 20s are for playing around and getting drunk and they'll get serious once they hit 30 and then they hit 30 and can't stay married because their spouse wants them to actually be a grown up. About all the teenagers who are less responsible than I expect an eight year old to be.

Helicopter parenting, that's what's doing this. We have parents who can't let go and want to solve their kids' every problem and they end up raising kids who can't solve any problems at all, kids who are perpetually kids because they've never been given any responsibility.

Pain and responsibility make grown ups. That's basically all their is to it. Stress matures us. If we spend all our time making sure our children are never stressed, never in pain, they won't grow up. You'll find yourself having to do "tough love" on a 39 year old child who still thinks you owe them some kind of support.

Cutting the apron strings is not an abrupt action, or it shouldn't be anyway. Apron strings should be slowly left to fray and tear until all you have left is the last thread. If you desperately repair and rebuild every tear, there will come a day when you have to slash your child away from you and that wound will bleed you dry.

Sarah recently went on a handcart trek with our church youth group. She left the day of her twelfth birthday when she was still emotionally very much an eleven year old. She came back a full teenager. She stood there in front of me last Saturday night, covered in red dust, her hair barely combed, tired, but poised. She grew so much and it hit me within the first five minutes of our conversation. We could have spared her pain by keeping her home or insisting that we went with her to hold her hand and ease her through the experience. She would still be eleven then no matter what the calendar says.

Pain is growth. Imagine how shallow you would be if you had never experienced stress or hard times. Do you want your child to be that?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Just call me Elphaba

Because I'm melting. July and August are always hard months for me. I hate being hot. I can't handle heat well, so living in a house without real air conditioning in a desert is probably not the best situation for me, especially with triple digit temperatures.

I need to find something to do today that involves air conditioning. This may mean taking four kids to the store with no intention of buying them toys. This is how desperate I am.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I love being right

How was I right? I had one, only one, real prediction for Harry Potter 7. I was right. A lot of people told my I was crazy for believing it because it couldn't be possible. Heck, even a Muggle.net editor (whom I met in line at Borders while waiting in line for my number) didn't buy it. That's ok because I was right. neener neener.

Yes, I'm an HP nerd. That's what you call yourself when you plan a family vacation around an HP book release. We were in Vancouver, WA last week visiting my sister and her family. The trip finale was a Harry Potter Day. Rebecca and I put together a Day at Hogwarts Party for all the kids Friday afternoon. We had the practical portions of Hogwarts final exams in Herbology (they had to identify local plants) Potions (they mixed vinegar and soda but we added a few things and gave all the ingredients magic names) and Care of Magical Creatures (where they had to do a hunt for magical animals and name each one.) For the last one, we had Steve direct the hunt and then give hot/cold clues for how to find the last animal, a thestral, which only he would be able to see in Harry's world. (there are drawbacks to working geriatric PT, and one of those is seeing death first hand.) After the final exams, we had an End of Term Feast. We thought about calling it "start of term feast" but with the book release being the last one, having it be the end of term was the only logical choice. If anyone wants my recipe for canary creams, let me know. ;)

I'll have pictures of our vacation up later. I didn't get my camera out on Friday at all so no pictures of the HP party, darn it. We do have some fun ones from Cannon Beach though.

Friday, July 06, 2007

My new alarm clock

is a piano. It was moved in Wednesday morning and for the last two mornings, I've been woken by children playing it. They don't just pound, thank goodness, they've found Sarah's beginner books and are trying to teach themselves to play. They are actually pretty good at that.

The piano used to belong to my mother. It's the piano I grew up with. My parents got it so they could have kids who play piano and they ended up with one daughter out of seven children who play competently enough to want a piano as an adult. That daughter isn't me. That daughter got her own piano ages ago. I lucked out having musical children. My mom felt sorry for Sarah learning to play on an electric keyboard and decided that her piano was just collecting dust so she offered it to us. We were happy to take it just as soon as we had space for it.

We needed quite a bit of space, actually. This is not a modern low slung upright. This is an Upright built in 1900, which means it's very tall and wider than a modern one. It's got lovely carved wood all over the place and the wood has aged to a mellow dark color. There's one broken key and it needs tuned quite badly. However, it was free, and it's pretty. I'm very glad to have it.

Thanks, mom.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

always do the test strip

My hair is brassier than a marching band. ugh. I can't win. Either I pay through the nose for hair color, I live with the hair of a 45 year old, or I walk around like an advertisement for John Philips Sousa.

My plan is to not leave the house for a week, and then use temporary color until I can use permanent and get this ugly color gone. Either that or just cut my hair to match Steve's. The longer couples are married, the more they look alike, right?

Monday, June 25, 2007

You're going to love me today

I really don't have anything to say today, so I'm going to post a recipe that everybody asks me for. It's not my recipe, but I make it often. Yes, it's a cookie. This stuff is so good, I actually ran across a woman who seems to be making a living selling them over the internet. You can choose milk or dark chocolate and pay her an astronomical sum for six cookies. Granted, these are expensive to make, but not that expensive. Plan on a pan costing you just over $5, depending on the price of butter in your area. The measurements are a bit strange because they were converted from metric, so there's lots of "generous" in the recipe. Don't worry about it. It's ok for the measurements to be a bit inexact; this recipe has the latitude for it. The original recipe calls for golden superfine sugar, but since that's pretty impossible to find in the middle of nowhere, I substitute brown sugar with very good results.

Chocolate Carmel Shortbread (aka Twix cookies):
1 cup butter
generous 2 cups flour
generous 1/2 cup light brown sugar
12 oz chocolate, either milk or dark depending on your taste

caramel:
3/4 c butter
generous 1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 T light corn syrup
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you want, line the bottom of a 9x13 pan with parchment paper. (I never do. it just protects your pan from the knife and makes it slightly easier to get the cookies out.) Process the sugar, butter, and flour in a food processor until it starts to bind together. (stand mixer will work fine) Press into the prepared pan and level the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden.

while the crust is baking, make the caramel. Place the caramel ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan. Heat gently until the sugar has melted (I use medium heat.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 6-8 minutes, stirring, until very thick. Pour over shortbread and let chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or until firm.

Melt the chocolate and let cool, then spread over the caramel. Let chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until set. These are easier to cut if they are at room temperature, so you can let them sit out for a bit before you cut them. Once the chocolate is set, they don't really need to be refrigerated any more. Be sure to cut them into small pieces because it's a very rich cookie. I usually do 42 (6x8) small cookies.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

If you didn't get the phone joke:

I present . . . Ma na me na, from the Muppet Show:



click the arrow twice to get it to play.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Where's my award?

For mother of the year.

I've been trying to potty train Libby lately, in my own not so into this way. I hate all the laundry that happens with potty training. Those first few weeks, when there's never a successful trip for days and days, there's a lot. So, I just put my kid in underwear and skip the pants. (Keep the shirts, those usually aren't affected.) This means that Libby thinks pants don't go with underwear.

The other day we had someone coming over but I didn't want to stop the potty training and go back to pullups. I tried to put pants over the panties and she had a massive breakdown. I tried hiding the panties in the pants and that only worked for one clothes change. She wanted the pants but not the underwear. After the third change, I gave in.

That's right. I let my two year old go comando. Can I have my award now?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Doesn't it just figure?

Just when I was really getting into my exercise routine, the school district decided to redo the track. It does need it. It's over 20 years old now and the rubber is pretty packed down, so I totally understand them doing it. In the meantime though, my routine is screwed up. Matt isn't big enough to keep up on the streets and Rilla isn't ready to walk four miles. I'm not quite ready to leave Sarah in charge during the day for longer than half an hour or so.

There is another track in the area, but last time I was there the bleachers had boards with rusty nails under it and I couldn't keep the kids out. Not exactly the safest play environment. We'll see. maybe they cleaned up. I will probably try it this week to see.

Anyway, I'm just venting. It's annoying. But there you go. I hope the track construction goes quickly. I'm sure it will be really nice when it's done and after I've managed to gain back the five pounds I've lost.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Doing the Obvious Joke

Yesterday I bought a new cordless phone system. The system part means there were three handsets. It's a pretty cool phone with some cool features and I got it for $40 on clearance. (I know! good deal, huh?)

Our favorite feature is the intercom. It's the sort of thing I always felt phones should be able to do. Ever since I was a little girl, I've believed you should be able to talk to the person on the other phone in the same house. It's just an obvious thing that apparently the phone people didn't agree with (or couldn't do) until these multiple handset systems.

So naturally, now that we have an "intercom," we're totally playing with it. The kids begged to play with it and they begged me to call them for dinner by calling the family room phone, which is a perfectly naturally request since I called them to lunch that way. Joshua even felt I should announce bedtime through the phones even though everyone had already been informed it was bedtime.

Steve, however, had to play the obvious joke. The first thing he did when he learned about the intercom feature was to call the basement phone. Sarah answered.

"Ma-na-me-na" said Steve and he hung up.

We watched way too much Muppet Show on Sunday.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Apparently, I'm Scary

Steve just called me from work to ask a question on behalf of one of his patients. She wanted to know which book Anne Shirley got married in. I, of course, had the answer to that. I could also answer which book she got engaged during and generally spouted my Anne knowledge to show off a bit. (I named a daughter Marilla, who was not named after Marilla Cuthbert, but rather Anne's daughter Marilla who doesn't appear until book 6. I know a bit about the subject.)

"that's just scary," he responded.

"Oh really? What Styx album had "Lady" on it?"
"ummmmmmm . . . ."

"I'm not buying it. You know. Who sang lead? What year was it released?"

"1975 . . . But it's not the same."

It's exactly the same. We're all scary about our passions.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

(half) Moved In

To the basement that is. We got the couch and entertainment center moved down Saturday and half my craft mess was moved down today. The other half is giving me raspberries and daring me to do something with it. Since it's 12:30 in the morning, I think I'll pass for now.

And that's one of the stinky parts about having depression. I'm exhausted all the time. I mean I could take a nap anytime anywhere exhausted, but I can't sleep at night. I will be falling asleep on the couch at nine thirty, go to bed at ten, and lay awake for the next two to three hours. It sucks, to put it delicately. (If you don't find that delicate, you haven't had insomnia.)

That's why I'm up. Insomnia is sitting in my brain blowing horns and playing rap music (the kind that has themes of guilt and stress and is only found in an insomniacs brain.) It keeps making to do lists for me that involve things like becoming a successful stock photographer, tearing down full walls in my house, and winning the lottery (which I never play but Insomnia doesn't seem to know this.) Insomnia is a busy body with no sense of timing. (This makes for very bad rap music, by the way.)

I'm trying to get my craft mess to blow raspberries at Insomnia in the hopes that they will fight it out. Insomnia is a tough customer but it's a baby compared to Craft Mess, a towering behemoth capable of standing up to Logic and Budget without even flinching. Once the swinging starts, it's only a matter of time. I'm hoping for a KO in the first round.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Always Check Your Lids

I finally got around to painting baseboard yesterday afternoon. I planned on doing another coat, so I left the paint outside next to the boards. It was a completely full gallon of paint when I started the project.

Before dinner, things got a bit hairy while I finished up dinner and shooed my scout boys out the door to their pack meeting. Steve and Josh were about to leave when Joshua pokes his head in the door to tell me that Libby is outside. Lovely. Someone had left the back door open and she had escaped. I sent Sarah out to supervise her until dinner. Libby wasn't in the backyard; she was out front. I ran out to get her myself and discovered what she had been up to.

Libby was "helping."

She found a paintbrush and went outside to paint baseboard for me. Three or four sticks had fresh paint slopped onto the ends and the paint can had been tipped over and the lid knocked free. Half a gallon of paint was dumped into the grass. It was at this point that I started to worry about what she looked like.

Covered in paint is what she looked like. It was on her hands, her feet, her shirt . . . and on her best jeans. the adorable ones with the embroidery on the right leg. They are ruined, of course.

I feel so "helped."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The better way to avoid work

Steve asked me to paint baseboard today. I did this instead:


One Step Closer

We laid the carpet in the basement last night. Steve did a great job. I just sat around and handed him his knife or rolled the carpet stretcher along the wall when it got stuck. I'm so helpful. But as I said, we laid carpet last night, because I'm all for glomming onto someone else's coattails if it means I get a bit of credit. Oh and I told him what to do all the time even though he's done this several times before and I have never even watched someone do it.

I know I've said this before, but I bet you are all just sitting back wishing you could remodel with me. I've decided to make Steve a bracelet that says "WWAD," (that's What Would Amy Do, for those who aren't following my entries) just to help with my nagging campaign.

The furniture gets moved down Thursday when Steve's band shows up for rehearsal (they usually don't bring drums, thank goodness.) I mentioned that he might want to call and warn his buddies that they'll be hauling furniture for the first 15 minutes of rehearsal, but I think he's just going to surprise them with the good news. Isn't he a nice friend?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How to blow an afternoon

Take up digital scrapbooking. My first version of this layout (very similar) totally disappeared from Photoshop. All the other files I had opened stayed just fine, but the layout just went kablooey. I didn't think it was that horrible but apparently PS felt differently.



Here's my afternoon waster in full living color:



I will probably do this again, despite the frustration of losing work, because my scrapbook desk is buried right now and I've been missing scrappping.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Photographic Proof of my Insanity

Friday night, I realized that I had just hours to complete the family room project before Steve came home, so in the midst of my panic, I invited Sarah to help. Joshua overheard me ask her; Rilla overheard him ask me if he could help; Matt overheard Rilla getting excited about painting; Libby just followed us down without asking. I ended up with all five children excited to paint. I was sunk. There was no getting out of it at that point, so I just started handing out rollers. I didn't have enough for Libby to have one (and I think it says something about my organizational skills that I had six roller handles when usually only two of us paint. I tend to overbuy, I think.) Libby was not happy with the idea of not painting, so I found a paintbrush for her to use.






when we were all done their feet all looked like this. I was only able to grab a shot of Matt's because they were quick to clean up.



I also discovered that Libby likes showers. When you are this covered in paint, a bath just doesn't work.

The room actually looks pretty good and they managed to get less than half a gallon on the floor. And they got to surprise their daddy with their paint job the next morning because I was a stinker and evaded the question when he came home that night. (He asked if I had gotten any painting done that evening. I said I was too tired to paint after I got the kids to bed. I'm so clever.)

So room is painted. We are finishing up electrical and then the carpet will go down. I'm thinking that we'll be completely done by the end of Memorial day. woohoo!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My New Superhero Handle . . .

is Avoidance Girl.

Before Steve left town, I promised him I would finish painting the family room. I know, I know. It was a lot to promise, but the faster that got done, the faster the room would get finished. It's obviously something I can do myself, so why not?

All good in theory, of course. In practice, I seem to find every excuse to not start painting. I can't paint during the day because the little ones will make a mess with it. I can't paint at night because I'm too tired; I'll do it tomorrow; I've got something else I need to do right now, etc.

In the meantime, I've managed to find all sorts of other projects this week. Yesterday I mowed the lawn. It needed it badly; Steve's been so busy lately on the basement that we've become "those" neighbors. The ones that get everyone else on the block looking up city ordinances on grass length. (Luckily, we live in the sort of town that doesn't have city ordinances on lawn maintenance.) However, I haven't mowed a lawn since I was 18 and left for college. It was my job during my teenage years to mow my parents abnormally large lawn with a non-self propelled lawn mower with a non starting gremlin residing in the gas tank. I hate mowing lawns; Steve likes it. The division of labor was obvious. Yesterday, though, in the face of my unpainted family room, I found myself with the itch to just get it done.

I sent my children to a neighbor's house to play (I have this thing about young children being anywhere near a running lawn mower.) The lawn mower was retrieved and I pushed it around front. I pulled the cord. Nothing. I pulled again. Nothing. I pulled the stupid cord on our "one pull start" lawn mower for nearly five minutes and couldn't start it. I called my husband and ranted at him via voice mail. (And he was glad his phone was off, I'm sure.) I called my neighbor to whine, and being the totally awesome, giving person she is, she offered the use of theirs.

She pushed it down to my yard, where I begged her to start it for me, because I truly believe lawn mowers hate me. (If you had had to mow lawns with my father's Frankenstein creation of a lawn mower, hobbled together from three different mowers to create one that works, you would have a complex too.) My neighbor leaned over the front and said, " it's got a priming button. you have to push it three times and then it will start."

Yes, folks, my lawn mower has a priming button, too. There was a two second delay while my brain processed the idea of a button before I made the connection. I did blush.

Anyway, yesterday I mowed the lawn. Today I froze 10lbs of carrots. I also brought over 10 wheelbarrows of gravel from the neighbors' yard to mulch the flower beds. Not something that needed done this week, of course, but it worked to avoid the basement. Cool neighbor did another 10, so we've about got it done.

This evening, when I swore to myself I would at least get to the family room ceiling, I fixed the zipper on my new (Craigslist) couch. I do love the couch, but it had a broken zipper. I'm glad it did, actually. The owner had it listed for two weeks and no one was even remotely interested because of the broken zipper. I paid $40 for a beautiful, tan couch with 25% down filled cushions. It's got a very up to date shape to it, unusual for Craigslist, the land of broken down, corduroy pillow backs. About a week after we got it home, I inspected the cushion and discovered the zipper wasn't really broken. It was just missing the pull, so I bought a cheap, metal zipper at Walmart in the right gauge that I could canabalize. This evening I did a little cover surgery, slipping the new pull on and sewing the popped seams back together so it wouldn't happen again. It looks fabulous and I'm feeling especially clever.

I'm thinking tomorrow I can do a complete wardrobe switch out for summer for all the kids. Finish the other 10lbs of carrots, finish leveling out the gravel in the flowerbeds, wash 6 loads of laundry, completely clean the house, cut off and hem the jeans with the holes in the knees . . . .

What? Family room? What family room?

Bedlam in Fact

Where have I been? Going crazy! Steve left early Monday morning for a week long conference in Kentucky. Why Kentucky? Because the home offices for his company are there. The airport he finally flew into was so small that his plane was slightly larger than a Cessna. The in flight meal consisted of milk shakes. The attendants poured the milk and then just handed the glasses to the passengers. The turbulence did the rest. It was so small, Steve didn't even use a standard airport gate when he transferred to that plane. He ended up on the tarmac using one of those ramp stairs things. I forgot to ask him if he remembered to wave like the president from the top.

So anyway, he gets home tomorrow. at midnight. You may pray for me.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A brief moment of pride

this evening, Rilla had a concert. They last about 30 minutes and the room is just packed with people. If you show up any later than 15 minutes before the performance, you stand. My kids actually behaved the whole time. I did have an issue with Joshua and his attitude, and a couple of moments of Libby getting restless, but over all, they were good kids. It was so nice. I often dread these things because I hate being the mom of the distracting, rude kids. We've tried hard to get them to behave and it might actually be sinking in.

The second part of the evening, Steve had a scout dinner he needed to be to (he was the entertainment) and I was invited as well. I ran the kids home and went back to the school for the dinner. When we got home just a little over an hour later, every single kid was in bed and in their pj's. They had read to each other out of the book we are doing our bedtime reading out of as well. whew. I had visions of them racing through the living room fighting like cats and dogs and Libby outside digging in the dirt unsupervised. Nope. In bed. Good kids.

We might be near the end of our hired babysitter days. That's a good feeling. It sounds terrible, but it's like a weight has been lifted. It means a bit more independence for me. More date nights too where we actually leave the house. ;) I'm very much looking forward to the years of free babysitting.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

If I had a red carpet to walk down

I'd want to wear this: Shades of Pink. (with sleeves of course)

That is all.

Breather

We've been working on the basement all week, every single evening until nearly midnight. It's an interesting process this remodeling. We sit in a house for five years with very little work done on it, then all of the sudden we blast out a room in a couple of months. It will be completely done before the end of the month, including mouldings.

If I weren't so tired, I'd be looking forward to it. I'm typing this while lolled out on the new couch. It's shoved up between the computer desk and my scrap desk upstairs, patiently waiting for carpet in the basement. Couches are patient like that. Their whole existence is so people can relax.

We started texturing last night. We would have finished texturing, but we ran out of dry wall mud. We are always running out of mud. I think there are mud gnomes that steal it at night. If I can manage to stand up straight and lift my arms, we'll primer tonight. Then Thursday we're going to paint. Then we get to look at an almost finished room while we figure out where the heck to get carpet (and pad) for a measly 1.60 a square foot. yeah, I know. we're dreaming, but I'm trying not to let my fantasies blow up until I've been shopping.

Catch some sleep for me, please. If you can manage it, make it a totally wasteful afternoon nap.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bad Blogger

so yeah, I get you all used to frequent updates again and then I disappear. it's all part of my master plan. Don't ask what that is because I'm still trying to figure out what master plan includes sporadic blog updates. (and somehow this master plan also includes not noticing the spell check feature on Blogger for months.)

We've been working on the basement lately. It's been an interesting process and slower than we (well I) expected. I wanted my family room by the end of March. I may get it by the middle of May. We're mudding and taping drywall now.

Mudding drywall is an interesting thing. I've spent much time watching home remodel shows. I love those. Tommy Silva, the contractor from This Old House, can handle a mudding knife. Of course, my new motto for home remodeling is "WWTD?" (what would Tommy do?) It is not in fact "WWSD?" ("what would Steve do?") which annoys Steve somewhat because he does not memorize Tommy's methods and I have to call him on his improper technique. Even though Steve's mudding is very far from Tommy's, we still manage to mud the same room a the same time. My tongue has visible teeth marks in it by the time we are done with one layer, but we are still married, so I count that as a roaring success. Today is layers number two and three and hopefully texture (sometime before midnight but I'm not counting on it.)

I already have a couch for the room (gotta love Craigslist) and I was promised carpet for Mother's Day. I'll post pictures when we're done. Steve just left to run some errands, so I need to get to the basement and get as much mudding done as possible while he's gone so it can be done right. (don't you wish you could remodel a house with me?)

After that, I'll be making a bracelet with WWTD on it. Let me know if you want one too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Distracting You With Good Links

So, yeah, I haven't been so hot at updating. I'm slipping back into my old habits, it seems. I still don't have anything intresting to say, so I'm going to draw attention away from my lousy blog posts to say:

read this blog: Thursday is Bazzar Day

That is all.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Planning for the future, or at least pretending to

I have a guilty pleasure I indulge in sometimes. I go in waves, not indulging for weeks at a time and then all at once, hours have gone by while I sit over my obession. This is one of those weeks where I spend hours. Mostly, I look on the internet. It's fast and easy and I can indulge my fantasies without spending a penny. This is my porn. Isn't it lovely? Just decedant at 850 sq feet per person in my family. I'll never own a million dollar home (unless the US dollar somehow ends up with the same buying power as a Mexican Peso,) but it's fun to dream about it.

I love looking at home plans. I'll look at luxery homes (like this,) and budget homes, and modern homes (I adore this one. the floor plan is so practical and perfect and the whimsy of combinging the two styles totally works for me.) I even spent time yesterday looking at house plans for straw bale homes.

Yes, straw bales. You use them for the outer walls. It gives an impressive R value, is very cheap to use, is easy to aquire, and is a completely renewable resource, not to mention the very cool deep window sills all over the house. :) There are some gorgous homes out there designed for straw bales. google it.

I just love residential architecture in general. I would love to go to parade of homes, but I never manage it. It's a date thing to me. Can you imagine hauling five kids from house to house just because you feel like looking? Of course, there is the problem that once you've seen one cookie cutter tract house you've seen them all, so Parade of Homes are often not as cool as I'd like them to be.

Someday, Steve and I will build a house. We don't know what it will look like or how much money we will have to build. If we have a lot of money, we will hire an architect and buy a beautiful lot on a hillside. We'll build a house that's basically a part of the hill, building back in with tall windows and passive solar heating. I can picture it in my head. It will be long and narrow with a modern feel that gives a nod to Frank Lloyd Wright's Prarie style. Two levels. doesn't it sound lovely?

If we don't have a lot of money, we will buy a stock plan that hopefully looks nothing like what everyone else is building but it will probably be like naming your kid Ava, not nearly as unique as it sounds. Although this home would make me very happy even if all my neighbors had it.

Someday we will build and it will be either off the grid, or luxurious, or adorable, or a victorian, or a craftsman, or a tudor, or French Provincial (the real thing, not the stuff they just call French provincial) or georgian, or colonial, or . . . . it will be a house. And it will be a house I love . . . I hope.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Stubborn

no, not me. Libby. Yesterday afternoon I decided to make bread the old fashioned way: in my Kitchen Aid. I had just gotten the bread into a warm oven to raise when Libby came bolting through the kitchen. She slammed on the breaks when she caught the sight of the mixing bowl.

"cookie dough?" she weedled, with big puppy dog eyes. The mixer being out only means one thing to her.

"no. I didn't make cookie dough. do you want a cookie?"

"No, cookie. coooooookiiieeeee doooooooough!" she wailed.

"no. there isn't any cookie dough."

"cooookie dough." and her eyes squinted up and the crocidile tears streamed down her face.

"no. I didn't make cookie dough. I made bread."

"bread?" the tears stopped and her face brightened.

"we're out of bread. I'm making some but it's not done yet."

"bread!"

"bread all gone. Have a cookie."

"no cookie. bread."

"no bread. There. is. no. bread. it's all gone. do you want a cookie?"

"cookie dough!"

"no cookie dough. have a cookie, for pete's sake!"

"cookie?" and she reached up and took it and walked off happily.

That folks is why I'm tired all the time.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Taking my husband's background into consideration

Joshua: Why does the oven timer say 23 minutes?

Me: Because that's when the house blows up. (Yes, I am that type of parent)

Family discussion about bombs and home evacuation ensues and then degenerates to Joshua's discussion about how he would diffuse the bomb.

Me (to Steve): So when you diffuse a bomb, do you cut the wire giving power to the bomb or the one leading away?

Steve: I don't do either. I just run.

Me: how many bombs have you been around?

Steve: ummm . . . .

Me: Not counting the ones you and your brother's built.

Sigh. He's not a terrorist. He was just a bored teenage boy in a rural town with four brothers.

Forget purse obsession, we will now discuss cake pan obsession



I did it. I bought another Williams-Sonoma cake pan. This one is a castle pan:
totally cute, isn't it? Because it's a castle, I actually have more uses for it than the train cake pan. I have two girls who love princesses and two kids who love Hogwarts. What Matt likes doesn't count because he's stuck with the train cake until he's 16 and the cost per use has dropped to a level that doesnt' make me cringe. (because I'm a weird person that figures costs per use on things. This is why I don't own a swiffer. I couldn't bring myself to sweep my floor if I knew it was going to cost me 50 cents a day.) anyway, that's what he gets for liking trains at a time when W-S made a pan for it.

Rilla had a birthday this week. This was how I justified the castle purchase, of course. I intended to make her a princess cake. It came out like this:


so yes, the designers at W-S do a much better job, but Rilla liked it. All the funky green is my attempt at landscaping. Now you know what my yard looks like, only with fewer flowers.

Sarah and I joked about making Joshua a Hogwarts cake in honor of book six. Lego Harry and Snape would be up at the top of the north tower and poor Dumbledore would be all splat at the bottom. I would, however, refrain from using red frosting for that. That would be just tasteless.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Friends

I have this problem keeping friends. I have no clue why, I guess people just get tired of me after a year or two. Or maybe I just have unrealistic expectations. I get a little twinge of jealousy when I hear women get teary eyed when they talk about the woman who's been like a sister to them for 20 years.

yeah, not even close here. I have had maybe two or three friends in my entire life who considered me their best friend, at least that's what they told me anyway. I have had friends where that person was my best friend and I was most definitely not theirs and let me tell you, that's a pathetic, sad possition to be in.

Lately I've been really thinking about what I want in a friend in the first place. I had a friendship go sour this last year and it's made me stop and reevaluate what I was doing.

1. I want a friend who wants to talk to me as much as I want to talk to her. I want her to pick up the phone when I call (and how pathetic is it that I even have to specify that?) I want her to stop for a second in her day and say "I really want to talk to Amy." and then call me herself instead of waiting for me to call.

2. I want a friend who takes equal responsibility for the health of the friendship. I'm tired of it all being on my shoulders. Which has happened to me more than once. It's hard to continue a friendship when you get the feeling that your friend wouldn't miss you that much if you just stopped calling. and it's really sad when you stop calling and they don't, in fact, miss you. or call you themselves either.

3. I want a friend I can trust. One who doesn't talk about me behind my back. One who doesn't see me as competition or expects me to be the president of the fan club. I will cheer my friends on but I won't do that.

4. I want one I can be honest with. Not one who doesn't want to listen (or talk to me) when I disagree with her. It's not a matter of loyalty, it's a matter of me being a different person and having different ideas. It's ok. I can still be friends with someone I don't agree with 100%.

5. I want someone who wants to hang out with me and talk to me and really wants to be my friend. that's it. I want a friend who wants me as a friend.

How hard is that?

Harder than I ever thought it would be. I have given up on having a best girlfriend. I have Steve and he is all those things for me and more. He gets excited to hear my voice on the phone. He cheers me on when I have good things happen. He wants to spend time with me. He is my best friend.

Maybe that's one reason why I have such a hard time with friends. Steve is a hard act to follow.