Monday, October 31, 2005


Because if you don't IM your own spouse in your own home (and even in your own livingroom, together) you're just not Geek enough for me.

Lapper808 [9:38 AM]: My guess is Max Milo Ben
Lapper808 [9:38 AM]: You have to go to your comments and tell them who won the nothing points.
BringsCrickets [9:44 AM]: Don't you think it's a wee bit early to go awarding points?
Lapper808 [9:45 AM]: Well, it's Halloween. They might want to spend their points.

I just thought that was very funny.

Chris and "Unca" Jake are right. It's Max, Milo, Ben. Don't spend all your nothing points in one place.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

In Which I Prove Once Again That I'm Hideously Unphotogenic

But the blanket looks great and that's the point. This photo is just for grandma Gaye so she can see how she is helping us keep our heating bills down. And apologies--the house really is pretty clean right now. This particular corner has my work stuff spread all over it since I am, at the time of this photo, working.

Tonight's Family Home Evening. 1,000 nothing points if you can correctly name the designer of each pumpkin. I did all the carving because I'm mean that way, but they did the designing thanks to washable crayola markers and some poetic license.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

It's like being smacked upside the head by reality! --herself

[If you're on dialup, just skip this one, okay?]
Okay, work has been on the vicious side recently, so by the time I sit down to blog, I really don't have two brain cells left to rub together. At this moment I have four or so, that's enough to post some pictures. Yesterday in review:

In the time it took to make pancakes, this happened:

So I tossed the puppies out in the cold most of the day. Emily was thrilled to play catch and eat the snowball.

Snowmen were made

It was dropdead gorgeous, but not without its dangers. See all those leaves?

They make the limbs really heavy. This is what you see.

Followed by:

Eventually some limbs fall on a powerline and you get:

I was worried about the roof.

Neither tree fell, but the second one played "chicken".

All in all

it was a great day. (Phone and electricity came back on around 3:30 in the afternoon, and I decided I can only put the purchase of winter coats off for another few weeks.)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

"It's like a little mini-honeymoon!" -- Himself

So I warned anyone expecting work from me next week that I was actually going to take the whole weekend off (because otherwise they'll assume that of course I'll work at least part of the weekend) and I bundled up the dogs and took them off to their five star resort where they happily trotted off without looking back. It's *really* nice there. I don't blame them.

From there we headed back home where I gave the twins to Chris and then took Max to piano. That went well, and then it was back to the house to finish packing. We locked up the house, turned down the thermostat (but I checked to be sure there were wood pellets in the stove just to be safe), and headed to Baltimore.

Our first order of business was to check in, because although we were using Chris' "Oh I'm Such An Important Businessman Points" that didn't mean we couldn't end up in a sucky room overlooking the restaurant trashcans. We were in luck. We popped back in the truck, braved traffic to get to my brother's house, and delivered to them, our kids. Again with the not looking back. (Okay, trying not to start taking it personally.) Jason and Karen fed us pizza. It was really good pizza. At this point we were supposed to trade cars with J&K and take their wicked cool miata for the weekend, but the Marriot wanted to charge us $20 to park and frankly, no. So instead Jason drove us back to the hotel and dropped us off.

They gave us an upgrade, found us a room WAY up high, and it had a superfantastic view. Not a big room, but that's okay, we didn't intend to dance in it. We bounced on the bed, punched all the buttons on the phone, ate the chocolate on the pillows, opened all the fancy soaps, and took a shower in a bathroom that didn't have soap crayon spelling out real and imaginary letters of the alphabet all over the walls.

We watched TV, we did spontaneous things you just can't do when your kids might walk in on you at any second, we talked, we just hung out with each other. The first night we were still tired from driving and life in general, so we crashed kind of early on.

The next morning we were up bright and early. If bright and early is 11:30 am. (Boo-yah!) After a bit we headed out to Little Italy and lunch at Amici's. Chris demonstrated the muli-spec look.

And from there to the sweets store where we got some cookies.

Check out the truffles though.

From there we decided to do some sight-seeing.

Oh, c'mon. Like it's not the first place YOU find when you hit a new city? Sheesh.

I couldn't decide on a book, although I spent a good long while flipping through books and reading some. We left without buying anything. For the time being. From there it was back to the hotel.

Where we goofed off and watched football. We went ESPN's to see if we could watch the last twenty minutes of the game there and eat dinner, but they said the wait for a table was TWO HOURS (what, were we supposed to tip them just to get a table?) so we left. Around this time I realized I kept thinking back to the first page I'd read of Passing for Thin so we stopped at B&N again and got the book. Then we went and found an inexpensive Japanese place where we got take-out and then went back to the hotel.

More spontaniety. More goofing off. Back to the sweets place for desert. Then back to the hotel where Chris watched TV and I devoured the book. I can honestly say that it's the first time in a very, very long time, that I've started and finished a book that wasn't parenting oriented. It was worth it. I finished the book this evening with a great deal to think about. I highly recommend it. Anne Lamont wrote passionately and honestly about the great difficulty and joy of her son's first year on the planet and her first year as a single mother. I'm so glad I read it before my first son was born. It just forced/permitted me to be that baldly honest with myself about my mothering. This book offers something like that for eating disorders/obesity/fundamental change.

But I digress.

At some point we both had to admit that it was pretty darn late and the next day would come whether we were ready for it or not. So we slept. I had heartburn, so I was really grateful for the gajillion pillows.

When I got home, my own bed looked tragically pillow bereft.

We woke again at 10:30, got around to breakfast at 11:00 -- we tried the hotel restaurant, but when we got the menus I was astonished to see that what amounted to a bowl of oatmeal with raisins and two pieces of toast -- $10.95. We left. Instead we found Chipolte's where we spent considerably less for considerably more. From there it was back to the hotel. We packed up and met Jason downstairs. They'd survived the day and a half with the kids nobly, albeit by feeding them every sugary treat known to kid kind (I believe they started off each day with poptarts). I was amused and no, I don't care. The kids were happy, happy to see us, and in no real hurry to leave. We took them anyway.

The ride home was beautiful.

But not as beautiful as our own backyard.

And may I say it again.

We are never, ever, ever moving again. But WOW that was a great weekend with my sweetie. Thanks again Uncle Jason and Aunt Karen. My kids will grow up worshipping your uber-coolness and the sweet availablity of chocolate pudding at your house. See you at Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Inch by Inch, Row by Row . . .

Max grew again. I looked at the boy today and my "growth spurt" alarm went screeching off. Quickly, I suited up in his helmet and shoulder pads and tackled him, pinning him to the wall long enough to mark his height. Then I went to get to my tape measure. Sure enough -- another quarter inch -- bringing his total growth to an inch since March.

An inch! That's rebellion if I ever saw it.

9 more inches and he'll be my height. I'm thinkin' at this rate . . . that's the year he's twelve. You think? I'll have to ask BabaGaye. She'll remember when her little insurgent got to her height -- and she's taller than me by at least three or four inches.

Not to be outdone, we had to roll Ben and Milo's pant legs down again. Some of their pants are fully unrolled now.

Where is a good melodramatic sob icon when you need one?


I got some work done. Not as much as I wanted but enough so that I'll get that first lesson finished tomorrow if I skip the grocery auction at Belleville. I still need to pick up some items at Peight's for the food order, so I'll go out that way in the morning anyway, but I'll try to force myself to skip the auction. The tomato fairy left a box of tomatoes on my porch two days ago anyway. I still have potatoes from last week. I still have hot peppers from last week.

Monday, October 10, 2005


So I finally have a nice, big paying job and I've been procrastinating for the entire weekend. I worked on some other piddly stuff due to another company that never pays me on time. "Alaska!" you wonder, "why on earth would you procrastinate now that you have work?" Good question. It might have something to do with the guidelines:

I put the quarter on there for scale. That's a 3" binder bursting at the seams and I have to read the whole flippin' thing before I write a word. Soooo . . . .

I cleaned. I cleaned some more. I made grape jelly using 7.5 lbs of concord grapes that I got last week at the grocery auction for $2.50 (they're $4 a lb at the grocery store). You never really know what you're bidding on at the grocery auction. He's always WAY up there and you're in the back and he tends to be vague and sometimes grossly inaccurate (he had a basket of apples he was calling a "bushel" -- shyah. MAYBE a third of a bushel. The Amish ladies in the back were having a good snort over that.) Anyway, I bid and won and these were nearly perfect. As soon as I got them home I hopped online and found a different source for pectin. I'd been using the Ball canning pectin and getting, erm, syrupy results. Poor gelling to no gelling. I did have one batch of strawberry jam turn out nicely. This is because done right, strawberries have enough natural pectin in them to jam all by themselves. I'm tired of spending half the day making little jam jars just to end up with more syrup. So I googled up Pomona Pectin and ordered two boxes. They arrived Saturday, so Sunday I started on the syrup.

Now, I've never actually uncanned any of my runny jams, but one batch came out SO poorly that I decided to test the first box of Pectin on it. It came out perfectly so in the end I had a batch of new and vastly improved pineapple orange jelly, LOTS of grape jelly, and some blackberry/raspberry jelly. Now I'm out of pectin again, but I *finally* have giftable jelly.

That reminds me, I have to hit up Sarah for a link to her recipes for her Christmas goodies from last year. I think between the cookies and the jam I could be done with most of the folks on our list.

Still there.

Still there.

Chris brought me back some ice cream from the store. He says he's duct taping me to my chair 'till I get through the first lesson (it gets MUCH easier after the first one).

Still there.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Not for the squeamish

Poodles are retrievers.

They are also, it appears, damn fine rodent killers.

I had no idea until we moved to So Cal and three days into things Thor killed two rats in a wild back yard rumpuss the likes of which I'd never seen. He seemed simultaneously proud and horrified.

Occasionally there we would lose a live mouse that was supposed to have been Jax's dinner. No worries. The longest it ever took the dogs to find it was three hours.

The farm house in Indiana is a farm house in Indiana. So it has had many a mouse. Thor and Emily took care of the problem for as long as we were there, though.

We hadn't seen any rodents in this house, but the last two days I'd heard what sounded like movement in the ceiling panels near my "office" -- under the kitchen.

Tonight while Chris and I were hanging out in the living room post date, the little guy got bold enough to scamper out in full view, headed, it seemed, for the oatmeal.

Chris squinted across the living room and said disbelievingly, "Is that a MOUSE?"

Said rodent stopped and froze.

"Nope," said I, "that's a ground squirrel." (Very cute, rather like a large chipmunk.)

We looked at each other for a bit.

The squirrel thought better of things and ran back in the kitchen.

I went into the hallway where Thor, fast asleep and enjoying his dream very much, was crashed out in a favorite spot on the linoleum. I woke him. He was happy to see me but a bit disoriented. I carried him to the kitchen. Squirrel was STILL kind of hoping to rush the oatmeal and wasn't in hiding. He was sitting there in the kitchen, against the baseboard, trying to decide what to do next. He saw Thor and bolted. Thor woke up and went chasing after him.

But Thor was definitely still suffering from the effects of a good deep sleep and since the fan was in the living room, he seemed to keep losing the squirrel's scent. I sent Chris down to let Emily out of her kennel. Emily was wide awake since she was put off by the fact that we hadn't let her out of the kennel when we got home, so she happily bounded up the stairs. It took her a moment to catch on to the fact that we had a JOB for her, but as soon as she saw the squirrel she gleefully took chase. The squirrel panicked and ran into the closet. That was the beginning of its end. Emily flushed the squirrel out of the closet and caught it in two bounds.

Poor squirrel. But the rules are clearly posted over the door. "All ye creatures great and small, we love and respect you all, but you on your side of the door and me and mine on my side. And if I think you might bite the kids or eat my food storage, you are SO out of here."

Poodles. Great with kids, no shedding, non-allergenic, and great mousers/ratters/rodent killers.

[pic removed as point was made and it was making my brother sad. Something about killing Rocky the Squirrel?]

Some Fridays Are Like That

Sometimes you're just wandering along in your week and then one morning your eldest who ordinarily draws rather simple drawings fills a page with crayon. Your youngest reads the entire alphabet from the wall. Your middle comes to you and says, chest puffed out to there, "All. By. Myself."

So you all head downstairs, get the eldest going on math -- and this is when the youngest reads the alphabet off the wall chart. Ben gets antsy. He demands HOMEWORK!!! You think, well, okay, why not today? So you pull out "Teach Your Child to Read in 1,000 Torturous Lessons" (I'm paraphrasing there, can't remember the exact name ;) and you read the first page about how you're going to teach him to read and he says, cheerily, "Okay!!!" So you flip the page and you go through the lesson and it's like BUTTER. Sweet cream freshly churned butter. And you get to the end of the lesson and it says you're supposed to teach him to WRITE the darn leter.

Ooohhkay, so you pull the MCP phonics book off the shelf and leaf through the book until you find an m page. So you hand the kid a pencil and let him work at your desk because by now Milo is threatening to IMPLODE all over the basement if you don't teach HIM the lesson. And you do a few m's with him and then leave him alone to -- you assume -- scribble over the remaining pages of the book in pretend "school" the way he normally does. (This is WHY you have workbooks scattered everywhere. You go through a workbook really fast with the scribble method of school.)

So you do the lesson with Milo and HE goes through the lesson like butter and you're tickled pink and you get up to go check on Scribble Ben and instead you find that he has turned the page and produced . . .

and then one of your favorite people to work with calls and offers you a small job to go with the big job you already have and


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Da Da Dum!!!

I'm printing out emails for a work project I'm involved in. This means sitting on the floor of Chris' garage because, um, I don't get a wireless signal at my own desk (oh no, this is a GOOD thing).

He's watching LOTR 75.

I've never actually seen any of the thousands of minutes of these three films and don't intend to start now, but it does have a magnificent movie score.

Da da dum dum da dum!

Okee, here is a mitten. A likely victim of second mitten syndrome -- it's just a wee bit too wrong. It's too tight. It needed a bigger set of needles for the main part -- but hey, the next try will knit up even faster and it was just a few hours of work.

Bookshelves and jars. This is the only room I didn't paint. I have the paint, I just haven't gotten to it yet and I guess it will be spring now before I do.

Matching chairs

dresser in Blues Clues room that, um, yeah, still needs drapes. Hey! I have a year.

Okay, this movie is getting to the point where I shouldn't be watching it any more, so off to punch holes in my emails, stick them in a binder, and go to bed.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tuesday Night

Ahhh, October. The gently falling leaves, the up and down temperatures, the shorter days. And, in my case, the end of the summer buzz.

I hate this week.

It happens every fall. A period of a few days where I wonder what the hell is wrong with me lately. Pardon my language, but for this one post I won't edit. Maybe . . . it will help someone.

What the hell is wrong with me lately?

Oh, that. It's fall. The summer with its gentle lift of extra energy, optimism, Faith I don't have to work at, ideas I don't have to reach for -- it's over. There's a period of floating. Of normalcy. I experience it some years as a gentle peacefulness, a contentedness, I stop rushing and pace myself better. I hardly notice the affiliation with the season. I think it's me. That I did something to make things more even. And, maybe I did.

But then, like a car coming around a bend, the road slopes gently down. At first it's compeletely ordinary. The road levels out in spots, but after a bit you realize that jeez, we were up WAY higher than we thought and the valley floor seems awfully far away. The slope steepens. Your ears start to hurt and you find yourself swallowing frequently so they keep popping. You're not looking out the window anymore, not enjoying the scenery anymore. You're spending all your energy manning the breaks and swallowing to ease the pain.

It used to be impossible for me to stop the slide and I had to spend all spring fixing whatever damage I had done over the winter. Rebuilding relationships and catching up on school work or work work or whatever. That was before we got to Minnesota and met the Mayo clinic the same year that the first Minnesota winter kicked my butt.

Alaska, this is your light box. Lightbox, meet Alaska.

It's an incredible thing to find something that WILL relieve the worst of the symptoms. It stops the fall. It relieves my personal worst symptom which is anxiety and can manifest itself in terrible images drawn from every horror movie I ever forced myself to sit through because I was with people who would have taken it personally that I really just CAN'T expose myself to those things. The visuals come back so vividly and apply themselves to the people I love and it just the most horrible thing.

Regular use of the lightbox takes away the images, takes away the unreasonable fear of abandonment, of loss, of violence. It takes away the unreasonable belief that I am fundamentally flawed.

But I have not yet figured out a way to avoid the week each fall when I realize that the fall -- not Autumn, but my brain's fall -- has begun. And the disappointment that comes with it. Like I secretly hoped that this year I would find myself miraculously -- and I mean that in its original context -- miraculously cured.


I feel angry about it. I am tired of being "cracked." I am tired of doing my homework and finding a good doctor and moving the stupid light box. I am tired of monitoring my sleep and avoiding triggers and eating right so I can feel my best and have all my coping skills in place. I am even tired of pretending that it's not that big of a deal. So tonight I am saying just once, for this fifteen minutes here, that it sucks.

I hate it! I hate it. I hate it.

and I cry, "GOD! Why have you for. . ." and then I remember that he has NOT. In the moments before his death Christ took all the pain and sorrow exactly as we feel them -- and exactly as all those who feel so much worse than this feel it.

And I STILL hate it. But at least I don't feel even remotely alone anymore. And I pick up the self-pity and crumple it in a ball like a poem that was going nowhere and toss it in the trash. And I walk downstairs and dig the lightbox out of storage. I set it up. And I put my scriptures in front of the lightbox. In the morning I will come downstairs and before 9am I will sit for 30 minutes in front of the light and read my six pages for the day. And I will wonder, as I do every year when I first turn on the light again, if maybe God didn't appreciate the analogy, too -- the bright light. The scripture. The relief from pain.

It's not so bad being me. It could be worse. Maybe next year I won't fight it. Forgive the typos. If I go back and edit, I'll erase it all.

Monday, October 03, 2005

But They Love Me Anyway

Milo works away on his magnadoodle for eight minutes or so.

He's humming.


"Ta da!" [no, he really said that.]

Me: Oh! What did you write?

Milo: See?? [gestures in a "spokesmodel" way at the Magnadoodle board. It says MLOMLOM.]

Me: That's wonderful, Milo! What does it say?

Milo: [stares at his notverybright mother. stares some more. Looks down at the board thoughtfully. Decides to go for flattery.] It says "Mommy!"

Me: Awww, that's so sweet! Can I show you how that word is written in books?

Milo: Sure!

[We erase the magnadoodle. I dictate. He writes. Ta da!]

Me: Want to write your name now?

Milo: Sure!

[I dictate. He writes. MILO.]

ohmyHECK. I am such an IDIOT!!!! That first board said:

Milo Milo M....[and then he ran out of magnadoodle board or he'd have happily gone on "writing" his name over and over again! Because he's in that stage of writing where there ARE NO VOWELS!!! -- okay there are o's but o's don't count because o's are CIRCLES and circles are WONDERFUL -- He doesn't have his name memorized but it's okay because he can sound it out!!!!! But people at his writing stage often only "hear" the consonants.]


Really. There's a reason they never let me teach anything below fourth grade. Fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth -- did that. Primary? Never for more than a week (of subbing).

I'm off to eat a quart of ice cream on the PATHETIC EXCUSE FOR A MOM couch.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


That's today. Woke up at some nice reasonable hour because Milo was sobbing -- turned out to be a bad dream in which he wanted to have a picnic and was unable to. I am SO glad I'm not three.

The twinkies wouldn't go back to sleep so I got them their little blankets and gave them each a big pile of books and settled them into an easy chair. And I went back to sleep. Chris got up and started getting ready for his day. I kept sleeping.

Sleep, sleep, sleep.

I finally got up around 9ish. I fed the kids. I have no idea what. I did some knitting. I think. I did some laundry -- I'm sure of that part. Then we got Max dressed and went to his football game. I worked on some knitting there and then concentrated on keeping the twins alive. The game ended. We all came home. I worked for an hour on bread making and then made us all a cheap/easy dinner of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwhiches. More time passed with rolling out the dough and putting it all in pans. Then dishes. Then a quick pickup through the house. Then dogs.

When was I supposed to work?

This coming week looks like another whirlwind of activity. A ton of work tomorrow. Ben and Milo will have preschool in the morning. Max's speech evaluation is Tuesday morning. Wednesday more preschool. Football on some of those nights. We need to get over to the Y and do some swimming for exercise. Piano, piano, and more piano. Hopefully a check and some bill paying. It's all good but I'm thinking I'm probably WAY too low on chocolate.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

While I'm Blogging About Knitting

Yesterday I finally did weave in all the loose ends on those soaker pants. Lacking any confidence that the waistband would fit the child for whom I'd knitted them, I decided to wash and block them and then send them to Sarah, (who commented below about waiting for her son to make his appearance. She had that "trying to be patient but not really succeeding" sound to her voice, so maybe he's here by now).

I don't often block the stuff I knit. I didn't really GET how that was supposed to go until I saw a bit on it on the Yarn Harlot's website (this O key is KILLING ME) and suddenly the light came on.

So this time I washed and blocked and WOW! It really, really finishes the piece. DUH. See? You can knit for 15 years and really have no clue what you're doing (not that socks, mittens, and most scarves require much in the way of blocking, kwim?) So I feel better about those pants.

The kid I'd originally knit the soakers for though still will need some soakers. Good thing I have way too much of that yarn.

Belle and the Castle

Ben and Milo are in LOVE. While they've long been prone to finding a good video and watching it daily, sometimes even twice, they've never done this before with a feature length movie. A few day ago, however, they discovered the movie Beauty and the Beast. We've had this on DVD for a few years, but it was MY movie and the menfolk only tolerated it as the occasional chick flick.

Not Ben and Milo. They are enthralled. They watched it three times today alone. It gets 'em every time. In addition to the fact that they just adore Belle, you can tell they're trying to make sense of the basic plot. I don't know how much exposure they've had to the whole "spell on a castle" plot. We don't do a lot of classic fairy tales here. (Because I'm a rotten mom, that's why.)

It was a good day although it didn't feel extraordinarily productive. I'm on a "finish things" kick right now. I have a list of "loose ends" or "thing that I've been putting off for long enough now" and I'm slowly making my way through them. There is a sense of relief for many of them, but you know, there's a reason I've been putting them off. Nevertheless the living room carpet is a lot cleaner since I shampooed it (until the darn valve on the thingy that holds all the water broke). I mailed packages I've been meaning to mail. That sort of thing.

My goal for the rest of the evening is to knit for my own happiness. I was going to try to do work but I kept sneaking away to knit that I decided after a few HOURS of this that I needed to just get a clue and let myself knit.

Tomorrow I'll pay for that, but that's tomorrow.

Chris and I had a very nice mid-day date today (we were going to do the classic night date until a compassionate local informed us that there would be about a three-hour wait for a table since there was a late afternoon Penn State home football game which would then flood the town with post football revelry). It was beautiful weather. When we were done with lunch we went downtown and explored the artsy fartsy stores. We didn't buy anything but found a used movie/music store that looked interesting.

My "o" key isn't wrking prperly. I'm tired of ging back and hitting it a second time to make it wrk.