Tuesday, January 31, 2006




Hmm? Oh, nothing.


Oh, alright. If you insist. Yes, I've the following items to complain about to no good effect:

1. I fell down the freakin' STAIRS like the light-on-my-feet-full-of-grace wench I am on Sunday morning. My boot heel caught on the carpet and I was carrying a huge food-storage bucket full of STUFF for the lesson I was giving in Sunday school. So I pitched forward and fell--then slid on my front--the rest of the way to the bottom. I was embarrased, I was um, stunned. But I wasn't hurt. Till the next morning. Here we are nearly two days later and I am STILL SORE ALL OVER. So wah to that.

2. I got an invite to my baby sister's wedding shower and I can't go. (Put the phone down, Dad. I'm not taking your frequent flier miles. It's a work issue--March, April, and May--and most of the summer really--will be insanely busy with work. I'm taking a week to go with Max to the wedding, and I'm hosting the 2006 Black Family Sister Party and that's about it for my social life this year.)

3. Just--it's Tuesday, that's all. On Tuesday the whole week stretches before you with a To-Do list like you read about. And we're out of bread and I don't FEEL like baking more. I made way too much pizza for dinner. We can live off of that another day.

4. I've been stuck at the same weight for four weeks straight. Wah to that. And pass the chocolate.

5. Max is shooting up. He needs new pants and I'm feeling kind of "what's the point? He clearly has no intention of staying the new height either!" about it. But I admit, the only time we can't see his ankles is when the pants he's wearing are sliding off of the butt that once held them up. Pretty.



At least I'm not moving anywhere this year.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Skiing, Day 3 of 4

When we last saw our intrepid hero on skis, things were looking up. He'd made it down the slope 6 times in three hours which was a 600% improvement over the previous time when he'd made it down the hill not once. Let's check in with him tonight. From the interview:

Mom: So you started with a lesson . . .
Max: No [Mom thinks, "Shoot, did he not know that he was scheduled for a les--"] I went down once before the lesson. Then we started the lesson. We did some snow plows and then we learned how to turn. Only I didn't really LEARN how to turn since I already KNEW how to turn. [manly hair flip]
Mom: Ah. You practiced how to turn.
Max: Right! I practiced how to turn. So then we played kind of a red-light, green-light style game.
Mom: Lemme guess, you were "out" if you ran into the back of the ski instructor.
Max: [giggles] No, he used his poles to signal you which way to go and you had stop when he crossed his poles behind him. So we did that twice and then the lesson was over. I went to eat, played some video games--well, arcade games, and then went out and skiied some more. Remind me to tell Grandma** that I only fell down seven times in 13 total trips down.
Mom: Okay. [Is glad it's dark so she doesn't look like a shmuck for getty teary-eyed over this. Mental note to maybe get some more sleep.] So, did you run into anyone?
Max: No--oh! You mean, did I make any friends? Yeah, I did! Actually it was one of my old friends! [Mom chokes and nearly dies of asphyxiation from stiffled laughter] I knew him from football. [Mom does NOT respond, "ooh, yeah, football, I remember the good old days . . . three months ago."] Actually, I think Conrad was kind of jealous.
Mom: Conrad?
Max: Yeah, he's on my basketball team and he kept saying "hi!" really loudly everytime he saw me. I think he kind of wanted to ski with us.
Mom: You can ski in threes. It's just someone has to go by themselves in the lift.
Max: Oh! [this had not occurred to my little homeschooled genius] Well, next week I'll invite him then!
Mom: So you had a good time.
Max: I had a great time! Oh! My biggest fall?
Mom: Mmmm? [thinks she's maybe going to hear how he got mud on his back from hip to ankle]
Max: I really thought I was going to stop in time, but I got to the edge of the snow and kept going. As soon as I ran out of snow I came to a sudden stop and would have fallen forward except that, you know, I had skis attached to my feet. So instead they kind of bowed up and I ended up doing a full flip!
Mom: Um, cool? [is guessing]
Max: Yeah, it was, otherwise it was like a normal fall, only, with my head. But it was okay







::::wait for it::::









nothing broken except my concentration.

[Mom laughs. out. loud!]

My firstborn is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo worth all the trouble. [His brothers are too, but this entry isn't about them.]

**This would be Grandma Gaye, who gave him gloves and a hat specifically for skiing for Christmas with the understanding that he was to email her with his progress. I think he's upstairs emailing now.

Friday, January 27, 2006

I'm moving to Canada

Because George W. is going to take all my money.

in the meantime, I found this outrageously funny:

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Knitting Olympics

There are some very funny buttons being made in honor of the knitting olympics. Here's one:

I've heard there's a swearing-at-lace button, too.

I may end up using this one, but the US looks fuzzy, so I'm still looking

It's a true olympics:

Apparently Minnesota declared independence and nobody noticed. It could happen. (Shout-out to Deb.)

So did the sock people.

Here's Norway. They're a formidable opponent.

A few more

I *love* this one:

and with the translation:

I think I'm going with this one:

and with that important decision made, I'm off to kill some wildebeasts and drag them home for the cubs.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I paid the bills today, oh boy

The above sung to the tune of the Beatles A Day In Life.

Well, I hurt ALL over. I guess it was a good day, but it may be a few days before I know for sure. We had some serious conflicts of interest.

The kids all had speech over at Penn State. I needed to write six simple pages of math for someone and I thought for sure it wouldn't be a problem. But it was--it was a much bigger job than I thought it was and I was plagued by problems with opening the files. Files I was sure I'd opened before . . . wouldn't open. I had to have a bunch of them resent.

I worked like a crazy woman until 2pm when it became crystal clear that I didn't have a snowball's chance of getting done before end of business today. In the meantime I had the problem that I'd promised Max I'd go skiing with him.

Realizing that I *couldn't* make the deadline and realizing that Max *couldn't* continue in the ski lessons we'd signed him up for unless I spent one afternoon doing it with him, we made plans for me to go ahead and go with him, then hurry home afterwards and get back to work. Five minutes before we left we found out that the school had cancelled the ski trip because of slushy weather. I looked at Max, Max looked at me. I remembered that I *couldn't* make my deadline no matter what I did--all I stood to lose by going with him anyway was a few hours of sleep tonight. If I went with him, we'd have short lines, wide open spaces on the hills, and we wouldn't hold up the ski lift too much every time we fell off the lift.

So we went and I *think* that was the right thing to do (again, I won't really know until I a) succeed in turning this in before my boss gets to work in the morning and b) she calls and offers me more work on this same project).

Max was pet-ri-fied. We got our stuff, stomped out in the slush to the spot where the fake snow started, and put our skis on. Max immediately slid backwards. I forgot how much you just don't KNOW when you first put on skis. You don't know to instinctively keep yourself perpendicular to the slope of the hill. You don't know not to cross the ski tips. You don't know not to use your stick thingies for anything other than balance (or help getting up). They certainly won't help you not slide backwards down a hill.

So I taught and coached and coaxed and taught and coached and coaxed and joked and made light of and encouraged and joked and (hey, I was getting laughs from *other* people's kids) 35 minutes after he'd first put on skis he was slowly attempting five to ten feet at at time and then stopping with the snow plow. The kid had analyzed his problem correctly -- he couldn't snow plow. But we fixed that. It took us I think another half hour to get to the bottom of the hill the first time. He fell down once, pretty close to the bottom. I was behind him and helped him up.

We got on the ski lift, which for those of you who might not remember, is an athletic event when you're not very good at skiing. We got off the ski lift and he fell down. It took us another hour to go down the hill two more times. My ex-accountant called and we had a nice talk while Max was picking himself up again from getting off the ski lift the second time. (That sounds heartless, but I swear he was starting to get the hang of things by this time and at some point you have to let a guy learn to get back up again by himself.)

After our third trip we took a break and went to get what is arguably the WORST cheeseburger I have EVER EVER EVER eaten. First, it was still pink in the middle. Second, it tasted like liver. This was NOT the good part of the cow. Assuming it was cow at all. I stopped eating once I noticed the pink. I like my burgers medium rare, but given the taste of the burger, I couldn't take a chance.

After we could feel our feet again, we went out again. Max fell down MORE now, because he (and I) was getting really tired. But his attitude had done a 180 since the previous week (and, um, the first twenty minutes we were on that hill). He fell -- and got up again by himself. He got good at undoing his bindings and good at putting the skis back on. I encouraged him to go in his own chair on the chairlift thinking maybe he wouldn't crash if he wasn't worried about hitting me. Sure enough -- success. I gave a mini-lesson on turns and the second time he not only didn't crash, but he turned nicely to the right.

Ta-da! We'd been there about 3 hours at this point and my legs were noodles. We headed back inside, turned in our skis and boots in time to see about 75 college students show up for an evening Penn State skiing class--that explained the sudden influx of snowboarders on the bunny slopes in the last 30 minutes we were there. I'd never seen so many young men falling down in one spot in my life.

So there. It was a bit of blind leading the blind. If you know me well you know that I never graduate beyond the intermediate slopes and I prefer to ski alone because anyone with any talent is so much faster than me that I immediately feel rushed (and STILL slowing them down). I didn't know anything technical to teach him, just a few observations about why snow plowing works and why you can't stand up on skis with the tips pointing down hill. I think this was good as Max really just needed someone to go down with him, hollar out the simple and obvious (look up!) on an as needed basis, and occasionally help hoist him back on his feet.

I got a Really Big Hug at the end of it all. He's looking forward to next week. He knows he can do it now.

Of course now it's 8pm and I'm sore everywhere, mentally and physically exhausted, happy, but hoping that the next few pages go a LOT faster than the first few.

But I *think* that was the right thing to do.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

After Ten Years, I Know When He's Lying

Lapper808 [8:25 PM]: You promised me brownies.
BringsCrickets [8:25 PM]: I did not!
Lapper808 [8:26 PM]: We've been married for over 10 years. At least once, probably more times, in that timespan you have promised me brownies and not delivered.
BringsCrickets [8:33 PM]: But over a gazillion times I did deliver. I think, therefore, that it's YOUR turn to add the egg, oil, and water to the brownie mix, stir, pour it in a pan, stick it in the oven, and set the timer.
Lapper808 [8:35 PM]: No comprende
Lapper808 [8:35 PM]: Add egg to oven. Stir pan.
BringsCrickets [8:37 PM]: I know your high school GPA, dude. I know your college GPA. While not nearly as stellar as mine (okay, that's not true, my high-school GPA was pretty mediocre) it's high enough to read the side of a Brownie Mix box.
Lapper808 [8:40 PM]: If I have to operate the Krusher 5000, I might lose a limb.
BringsCrickets [8:42 PM]: Yeah, power equipment has always been a problem for you. It's okay -- a spoon will work fine.
Lapper808 [8:45 PM]: spuh. . . what? How many valves does that have? Overhead cam or pushrod? If it works like a Rubicon's hydrostat tranny I'm fine. If not, I'm as helpless as a little girl.

He cracks me up. And no, there are no brownies cooking. But he is doing a nice job of keeping the kids occupied while I work. Milo comes in every ten minutes to update me on the plot of Ice Age. He was kind of scandalized during a diaper changing scene. "The BABY took off his UNDERWEAR!"

I don't remember that scene, but according to Milo, it's there.

Herself in HipHop

This is the Berroco HipHop hoodie I knit. Initially it was supposed to be for Milo, but it knit up more girly than I had thought it would, so it went to Jill's shorty, "Little G". It has dropped shoulders and the hood is "bigger" up front than I would like, but that's the pattern. Next time I'll pay more attention to the hood when I pick a pattern like that.

Big Spender

Ben: Mommy?
Mommy: [typing] hmmm?
Ben: I'm going to need an RC Car.
Mommy: [stops typing] no kidding?
Ben: That's what Daddy told me. Green, Blue, Pink, and Orange. You need to pay me that.

[Mommy IM's Daddy because why get up and walk the 25 feet to the other side of the basement?]

BringsCrickets [7:24 PM]: Did you tell Ben to ask me for an RC car?
BringsCrickets [7:25 PM]: He says, "That's what Daddy told me. Green, Blue, Pink, and Orange. You're supposed to pay me that."
Lapper808 [7:25 PM]: He was asking me, because "I'm the only one with the money."
Lapper808 [7:25 PM]: I told him you had the money.

Ben: I need the money. Two thousand three dollars.

BringsCrickets [7:25 PM]: He estimates it might be about "two thousand three dollars."
Lapper808 [7:26 PM]: Well he could get a really nice one for that.

Mommy: I love you, honey.
Ben: I love you, too, Mommy.
Mommy: Ok, go to bed now.
Ben: [sighs deeply]

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Dr. No and with good reason

I went to Sam's club today with Ben and Milo. I needed ink from Office Depot which shares a parking lot with Sam's club, and I needed eggs, butter, and cereal, all of which is cheaper there. I ended up buying a refill kit from Office Depot (but haven't had the guts to try it yet). At Sam's I bought the twins each a hot dog and then sat and did some knitting while they ate. Then we were off with list in hand and heading towards the back of the store. Milo positioned himself on the front of the cart facing out like a masthead. Suddenly a gentleman about my age, maybe a smidge older, steps in front of the cart, pokes Milo in the belly, and says something like, "How are ya?" Milo, my mini-me, is taken aback and has no immediate reply. He's still REELING from the fact that a stranger TOUCHED him! The man looks up and smiles genuinely at me. I smile back him -- you know, the kind of smile that says, "I'll let you live this time, isn't that nice of me? Next time though, I shoot first, ask if you're a "nice" guy later." His light dimmed a bit and he walked on. Poor shmuck. He's probably fine, but ya know . . . I recently learned that a guy in all my education classes in college is now listed as a registered sex offender. I googled up his name a few weeks ago to see if he was still in the same teaching-related job that he used to be and imagine my surprise . . . Yes, I'm sure it's him. And yes, he was a really "nice" guy. Anyway, just as the guy starts to walk away, Milo recovers his voice and YELLS "NO!"

I stopped the cart and walked around to the other end. I hugged Milo and said, "You didn't like it when that guy touched you, did you?" He said with great indignation, "No!" I said, "That's fine. And it's okay that you said no. Next time you can say No! right away and even louder." He said, firmly, "YEAH!"

So, huh. Take that. As the emperor would say in The Emperor's New Groove--"No touchie!"

Ok, the twinkies are desperate for some hot chocolate. I'm called to serve.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Introvert Night at the PupHouse

Although I wasn't up at any incredibly early hour this morning, by 9am I was sitting down to work at the computer and realizing with some hope that I felt more lucid than I had for the previous two days. So I answered work email for a half-hour before hearing, again, from Ms. YMCA via email again.

I did like her reply. It did not meet with my approval.

So I kissed the kids goodbye and grabbed my gun knitting and headed over to the bank. From the bank I obtained printouts of the EFT transactions. I drove over to the Y and got what I wanted on at least two different levels. I was right. They were wrong. And now my twins have another four weeks of swim lessons scheduled.

Score one for my team.

I drove home and got back on the computer. More work-related email. More hurried typing, more clock racing. ACK! 1:15! Grab Max, stuff him and piano bag in truck. Speed off to lesson. Max plays.

On Thursday nights if Chris is home he watches the twinkies and I take Max to group piano and sit in the corner and knit. My only other job is to give him the evil eye if he requires it or to gesture to him with the universal sign for "write that down!" [Following which he usually gives the universal sign for "huh?"] If Chris is not home then I take the twinkies with me, but they're not welcome IN the class, so I just drop off Max and go run other errands. I didn't have other errands last night, but Chris was in Altoona, so I put a video in the truck (the truck has a VHS player, LOL -- freakin' 5-yr-old truck was da BOMB when it came out--right before everyone started putting DVD players in their minivans) and worked on my knitting.

At the end of class one of the other mothers came over to the truck and gushed about how well Max played this song that's been stuck in his craw for the last three months. He got unstuck. I said something along the lines of "Great! Thanks." Which seemed to disappoint her. I'm not sure what I was supposed to say. Honestly? I knew he'd get unstuck. I wasn't surprised. And I would have rather have heard it from him.

So at his lesson today Mrs. B in her Russian accent that I STILL find so delightful (hey, it's a SMALL town we've moved to, not much happening) spent a good five minutes lecturing him about how important it was that he recognize that stuckness happens and so does unstuckness and therefore one should always persevere -- or not! That sometimes it's okay to kind of move on and then come back to the piece later. But quitting is never an option. She knew that before the break he was moaning and groaning about maybe quitting piano in a year (hah! good luck kid, not with me as your demontor mother) and all because he was discouraged about this song. So she was rubbing his success in. In the process of the lecture she talked about her own struggles, which inevitably leads into her playing bits and pieces of various songs.

Max and I enjoy her lectures a lot. Her piano playing is WONDERFUL. Just :::happy sigh::: wonderful.

Anyway, eventually the lecture was over and the lesson continued. Then it was back home and back to working on putting these poetry packages together. I'd spent (no joke) four hours and $60 at Kinko's yesterday making copies and today I needed to compile all of them, so that's what I did.

At 6pm I stopped and fed all the 3rd and 4th grade boys on Deepwood Drive as well as the twinkies (it was spaghetti and meatballs, so it's maybe $1 more to feed a few more kids and since they were all here playing Super Mario Sunshine anyway . . .) and then at 6:40 I sent all but Max home. At 7pm we went to basketball and I brought the poems with me. At 8:30 we were back home and by 9:30 I'd put everyone but me and Emily to bed. Emily is hiding under my bed, so I can't put her in her kennel. Clever girl. Chris is sick so he went to bed four hours earlier than usual. Want to bet he'll still go racing tomorrow? If he has what I had I predict he'll regret it though.

So there I was at 10pm, still working on children's poems, with the house to myself. At midnight I was nearly done and my mp3 player switched from the last David Ramsey show I had saved on there to some of the music. I had to get up and dance to this one.

No More Drama
Mary J. Blige

Verse 3
Oh, it feels so good
When you let go
Of all the drama in your life
Now you're free from all the pain
(free from all the pain)
Free from all the games
(free from all the games)
Free from all the stress
(free from all the stress)
To find your happiness...
I don't know...
Only God knows where the story ends
For me
But I know where the story begins
It's up to us to choose
Whether we win or lose
And I choose to win

Can I have an Amen to that? Amen.

Next up was Sheryl Crow, who ordinarily I'm not that fond of, but she got this one right.

"Soak Up The Sun"

My friend the communist
Holds meetings in his RV
I can't afford his gas
So I'm stuck here watching TV
I don't have digital
I don't have diddly squat
It's not having what you want
It's wanting what you've got

I'm gonna soak up the sun
Gonna tell everyone
To lighten up (I'm gonna tell 'em that)
I've got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I'm looking up o I'm gonna soak up the sun
I'm gonna soak up the sun

I've got a crummy job
It don't pay near enough
To buy the things it takes
To win me some of your love
Every time I turn around
I'm looking up, you're looking down
Maybe something's wrong with you
That makes you act the way you do
Maybe i am crazy too


I'm gonna soak up the sun
While it's still free
I'm gonna soak up the sun
Before it goes out on me
Don't have no master suite
I'm still the king of me
You have a fancy ride, but baby
I'm the one who has the key
Every time I turn around
I'm looking up, you're looking down
Maybe something's wrong with you
That makes you act the way you do
Maybe I am crazy too


I'm gonna soak up the sun
Got my 45 on
So I can rock on.

I finished up the poetry project and put everything in fedex boxes. I'll sleep in tomorrow morning and then go drop the boxes off at fedex tomorrow. Then it's on to a weekend of writing math stuff. That's alright. Math is good and it's a relief to have my brain come back from its virus-induced vacation.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Friday Eve

I can't believe the way this week has hurled itself at breakneck speed through the universe. Or at least, it seems that way to me. I've been sick with a cold and sore throat since Tuesday, but only stupidly so (as in, staring off into space for hours at a time) since Wednesday. I'm starting to feel a little more lucid now, although I have the energy reserves of a very old slug. Luckily, the weather was horrible, too -- Max's skiing on Wednesday was cancelled till next Monday and I didn't have to go pretend to enjoy skiing while just trying to stay upright and conscious. Hopefully by Monday I won't have to fake enthusiasm.

Just to even the score, the universe is handing me some more financial bad-karma to clean up in the form of a minor, but ever more irritating, skirmish with the YMCA. To make a long story short, they took their fee out of my account this month -- twice. And they won't give it back. Today the lady tells me she's "still waiting to hear back from Cash Flow -- the people who handle their EFTs" to see if they can confirm the deposit. Then she says, "it's not that I don't believe you, it's just that I don't see it in our records."

Okay well, Wal-mart never saw any of their mistakes in their records and yet they still screwed up every step of that massive transaction we had back in mid-December. Even after they DID deposit over $200 in my checking account on the Monday following -- they still had no record of it. *I* took the money out and drove it back over to them. Goobers.

So, guess what I think of their records?

So she says, "why don't you come by tomorrow and we'll try to work it out?"--in an email. I wrote back "What will my physical presence in your office change about your 'records'?" but I didn't hit send.

type type type


delete delete delete

rinse. repeat.

Finally I wrote: "I can come by now, but I'm assuming that what you meant is that you need something more from me. Shall I ask someone from the bank to call you?"

I know. I know. I ask too much.

Then I called my health insurance company and reminded THEM that THEY forgot to take out my premium this month. "Oh, yeah!" they said. On the upside, they somehow decided they owe'd me $12, so my premium this month will be $12 less. As you can imagine, that greatly reduces the financial burden of being self-employed this month. (not)

We're cell phone holders again. I almost hate to admit it. But after going through the books sixteen times and weighing what it would cost to get out of the contract with what we'd save by reducing the landline to nearly nothing -- we went with cutting the landline and DSL services.

Little known fact: if you get sick of paying your Verizon Wireless bill, you can opt to suspend your own service for 90 days to think about it. Nothing happens. There's no interest, no change in your service, no credit dings, nothing. The only downside is that your contract end is extended another 90 days. Anyway, that's what we did this past fall. We cut it off ourselves for 90 days and thought about how to handle the twin burdens of high home and cell phone bills. We thought we'd cancel the cell phones and stick with the landlines, but in the end, we did not. But don't call us on the cell phones this month. I moved the payment date to the other end of the month and we only have 500 minutes "left" till the 28th now. We can still receive calls on the landline. We just can't make outgoing calls (for less than the cost of a bodily organ anyway).

I'm morphing into a budget Nazi.

::ring::: "Hello, is this [pause while caller double takes on the first name] Uuuhhhh-laska?"
Me: NO! No money for you! And take me off your calling list!
Chris: [in background] Go, Girl.
Max: [in background] You'd think they'd learn . . .

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

This Day Brought to You by God

I can always hear my father's voice with this song:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
praise him, all creatures here below;
praise him above, ye heavenly host;
Creator, Son, and Holy Ghost.



Some days things do not go my way and some days they do. Today I picked up two reasonably small projects that will fill in some gaps. I have a cold and a sore throat -- but am not flat on my back sick. Jill came over last night and helped me read children's poems and we made GREAT progress.

So life is good. Amen.

Monday, January 16, 2006

I LOVE Federal Holidays

They give me am opportunity to get caught up with work. Today I'm reading children's poetry aaaalllll day. Some of it is pretty awful. Some is cute. Most of it I can't use.

I just read this:

I've taken to listening to his show online. It's inspiring stuff. I like his message because it's, well, it's not above my head. Also, listening to other people call in and talk about their situations gives me ideas, sometimes hope, and sometimes gratitude that I don't really have it all that bad.

If you're starting to wonder if you'll EVER get out of debt, read that book.


Indicating that I might have lost any sense I ever had, I gently ended my 7-year business relationship with Bill the accountant who keeps me out of jail. That this is the WRONG year to do that, is obvious -- I'll have two different state tax forms, a house sale, a dormant S corp . . . what a mess. But I decided that I really need someone local. You know, since we're never, ever, ever moving again. I learned SO much from this accountant. SO much. All I can hope for from the next one is to not hate him.


It's colder again today. I hope to sit some in my green chair with my warm wool blanket and knit. Chris is painting cars. The twins are playing cat/dog (no, not THAT catdog, in this one Milo is a cat and Ben is a dog and they wander around the house doing catty and doggy things. Housetrained catty and doggy things.).

Max just got back from Jill's house with Brian. I sent them over with an overnight pull up and she sent them back with five eggs so I can make brownies, LOL. I love having neighbors I know! I also love that I didn't have to go out in 29 degree weather.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Oooooh, Shiny!

From fiddlesticksknitting.com:

THANKFULLY it's too advanced for me because it is NOT in alignment with my knit only from stash policy.

Blessedly, this one is even harder:

I like this one. It appeals to me :)

I think I could swing this one:

But back to my stash. My grandmother bought me this poly-cotton yarn a few years ago:

It's a very pretty deep blue -- like the sky right before it goes to black at night. And I have enough to knit a man's XXL sweater. Only getting MY man to wear ANY sweater is nearly impossible. On the other hand, Ben and Milo are still slaves to my fashion sense and LOVE to be knit for. So bring on the ideas.

I have enough to do this one, times two--only all in one color:

NO. But is the kid not adorable?

Friday, January 13, 2006


Here's a dishcloth--it's straight off the needle. After the first time you use it, it straightens out properly into a square.

These are the honeycomb washcloths, pattern found here. I'm using stash yarn and posting my own pictures because the photo that goes with the pattern doesn't show the contrasting colors at all. The green one is smaller because I ran out of green.

purple and blue--a little washed out from the flash.

Yesterday went well. I got a project turned in and made some progress on another project. The kitchen is nearly under control and Penn State and I came to an agreement about how to handle the kids speech needs since even with their incredibly low costs ($40/50 minute session) I can't pay for 4 sessions a WEEK, which is what they were hoping for. They wanted one each for the twins (in addition to the English Language Group--the speech preschool, more money, although I'd never find another preschool at that cost) and two each for Max to address his stuttering. That would have averaged out to just under $800/month.

The director of the program offered 50% off of Max's therapy sessions and offered her opinion that Ben and Milo would probably be fine without the individual session -- they just have plenty of college students and Ben and Milo have some intellgibility issues that the kids could work with them on. But they've made good progress and she feels that its not crucial for them at all. Mostly she wants them to stay in the speech preschool. So that's what we'll do. Speech preschool for the twins and stuttering therapy for Max. This feels much more doable.

The conversation with her about the twins was fun. It's always pleasant hearing people say nice things about your kids and she had lots of nice things to say. She shared that they were getting a new space in a different building with lots more room and that they expected to expand the program so there were many more kids in it. She marveled at how recently interest in the program had exploded. I offered the opinion that the father of the other set of twins might be behind that as he's tapped into the Cooperative Preschool and that's a huge and chatty network of parents. If he let it slip that his daughters were getting two mornings of preschool a week for hundreds less than he was paying at the cooperative preschool, I'm guessing lots of parents suddenly had kids with speech delays ;)

Anyway, they're expanding the program to go through the summer, which is fine with me. I offered the opinion that I had to hope that they would keep some mild delays since they really love the preschool and I didn't want to put them elsewhere. She said that there isn't actually a requirement that the kids have delays -- they can score as developing normally because the program works the way it does because it gets these kids talking. Ben and Milo are the cruise directors of the group, coordinating imaginative play, modeling please and thank you with each other, (and how to stand up for yourself without coming to blows), welcoming any new child or adult that comes in, and just generally using their ability to never stop talking to great effect. In short, as long as I can keep paying them SOMETHING, Ben and Milo can stay.

That makes me feel great.

In other news, I admit, I'm second guessing myself on continuing to homeschool here. Maybe I should just after school Latin? The schools *are* supposed to be good. But I don't WANT him in public middle school at ALL, and I don't see how we could keep up with his other activities (piano twice a week, the sports, etc) if we had to work around those school hours.

I'm not sure what's bothering me about the current arrangement. Except that I always start to worry this time of year that he didn't learn enough. And by the end of school five months later, he's learned enough. I should order his ITBS for the year.

Back to work.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Quick Photo Blog

While my office is briefly at a point where it won't embarass me with its clutter, here are photos of it (and my stash). See the pretty new swift? I LOVE that. I've had the same painted-blue door over two filing cabinets desk for three years now. It could use a new coat of paint, but I'd want the same color blue again. High gloss.

On the far right is my math manipulatives stash. All those green and blue shelving thingies are full of different kinds of math manipulatives. I love that, too!

The ball winder that goes with the swift is in the front there on the edge of my desk.

These are the larger portions of my stash. Those three bottom buckets used to be full, but I've been good about knitting from my stash, and they're gone now except for one lonely skein of weird orange mohair that I haven't quite come up with a plan for yet.

This is the smaller portion of my stash. These are primarily orphans left over from projects past. I have a new washcloth pattern that is actually really pretty and fun to knit, so I'm turning some of the cotton into washcloths for birthday presents.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Well that didn't go as planned

Not that Monday usually does, but I admit I did expect a bit more out of it than I got.

Let's review.

1. I expected a check
What I got: a check, but for 1/3 the expected amount. I was pissed, not so much for the missing money because this company WILL pay me, but because they'd told me it was coming on this paycycle, it didn't, and I'd wasted hours last night planning for a different set of financial circumstances. I spent another hour this morning reprioritizing and then paid the bills that will get paid this week. The rest will wait two weeks now.

2. I expected Max's piano lesson.
That actually happened. Because of the check fiasco, though, I only got about an hour of school work out of Max before the lesson.

3. I expected to make BLT's for lunch.
I discovered that the lettuce and most of the tomatoes had gone to the dark side. Dang. So I bunted and we had grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches. Milo complained that it wasn't peanutbutter. I complained that it wasn't filet minon (filet minion?) but ate it anyway. So did Milo.

4. I expected it to be winter, still, today.
Instead it was freakishly warm. So warm that I had to concede that only an idiot would pass up the chance to go out in the yard and clean up two months of dog poop I'd been ignoring (on account of the COLD) and finally chop the enormous tree branch in the yard into pieces so that the dogs could have more yard to poop in. No, really, it had to be done and if it has to be done then doing it in beautiful weather is way better than doing it in freezing weather. Plus, my neighbor was out looking for things to do and the next thing I knew he had his chain saw out and was reducing that branch to rubble. I stuck the logs under the deck in case we ever lose electricity for an extended period of time and need to burn actual wood. I put the branches out in the brush pile on the other side of my property line (beats me, but apparently it's a long-standing arrangement with whatever entity owns the forest on the other side of the property line). This led to a nice long bs session with aforementioned neighbor in which I learned exactly what the Amish charge to reroof a house like mine.

It was THOUSANDS less than I thought it would be.

I *also* learned exactly why my roof sags in this one spot, what was done to de-sag it in the past, and what the chances are that big oak to the left of my deck will fall on the house any time soon are (better than you might think, but now that I know what the cost of a new roof will be, I no longer WANT the tree on my house as I now know that if the roof sprung a leak tomorrow, I could probably swing it without help from the insurance company).

5. I expected Max to go skiing and have a great time.
I don't even want to go into what actually happened. Suffice to say that I forgot that my firstborn can be very cautious and if rushed into a new physical activity will panic. At some point along the way, the was-a-teenager-just-yesterday ski instructor gave the kids a CHOICE of whether or not they wanted to go down the bunny slope and then said something along the lines of, "if you don't want to, you can go inside" instead of, "if you're worried, let me know, and I'll go down with you." Everyone but Max went down the bunny slope. Max came in, bought dinner, and sat and waited for me for over an hour.


He was frustrated and discouraged and disappointed in himself. I'll give him this. He didn't say he didn't want to go back. He didn't blame his evening on anyone else. He said, "I'm the only one who didn't get the hang of the snow plow right away, so I didn't get to go down the slope."

I had him give me a blow-by-blow of the day and that's when I understood that he'd been able to go down the slope, but given no real encouragement to. He was afraid, so he passed.

So, I'm not sure what I was supposed to do here, but my gut said that this boy is too old for the, "do you want me to go down with you?" thing. That's, you know, bringing your Mom into it to fix it for you. So I explained matter-of-factly that the course was too expensive to be spent in the way that he spent it that day. It made no sense to use the time that way. I also pointed out that the REASON the instructor wanted them to go down the hill is because if you don't get the snow plow at the top of the hill, I guarentee you that you'll have it by the time you get to the bottom. Something about picking up speed helps you find the right technique. Quickly.

So, I said, I'd be coming next week to go with him to make sure that he got the snow plow so he could do the bunny slope. Just once. That's all it will take. (There are plenty of parents doing this by the way -- it's at a steeply reduced rate, so there were easily as many parents and big brothers and sisters as there were 4th and 5th graders there.)

He made a relieved noise.

Then, I pointed out that part of the reason we were doing this was so he could meet some more kids from the area. And unless he was out on the slopes, there was no way he could run into anyone new.

Get it?

He got it. He started laughing.

I offered a few scenarios for conversation. It could go like this:

Max: Hi! Sorry about that gash on your cheek! I'm not so good at the snowplow yet. I'm really glad you were there to break my fall! I'm Max! Want to come over and play some time?

Max: Ooooh, that's gonna bruise! Hey, are you into bionicles?

Max: Hey, are you okay? I'll get you a medic! But maybe tomorrow we could get together when you're done with school!

We headed home and I tried to table my disappointment. I must have achieved something in there though because an hour later Max said, "Oh, hey! Where's the calendar?" as he walked towards the calendar. He picked up a pen and said, "next week . . . skiing is on Wednesday" and he drew an arrow from Monday skiing to place it on Wednesday.

Yes. Someone in a learning situation stood in front of a large group in which Max was present and gave a bunch of directions. And Max heard them and followed them. And in the directions they mentioned that the kids needed to go home and tell their parents that since there was no school on Monday, skiing would be on Wednesday instead.

And Max heard. And then . . . he remembered. Before Monday. And THEN he communicated it to an ADULT.

I'm pretty sure this is a first. I'm getting emotional just thinking about it.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah.

6. I expected to get some work done.
I didn't. Not one lick.
Okay, well, that's not entirely true. I cooked, I cleaned, I paid bills, I went to piano lessons and did ski patrol, and I baked 12 loaves of bread. My desk will be clean before I crawl in bed tonight and I'll have a prioritized daily task list for tomorrow (not really, but I'll have a to-do list).

But I didn't get to the Y to get on the treadmill and I feel fatter for it.

And I didn't get as much paying work done as I wanted.

And my domain name expired and I don't think I'm going to renew it because I didn't budget for that.

I downloaded the entire William Tell Overture today. I thought I might need it.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Theme from the Lone Ranger

Bill Cosby had this sketch in which he describes the mammoth go-cart races that he and his friends participated in. In one, there are 500 cop cars waiting for them at the bottom of the hill. I'm sure we've all had days like that. The funniest part of the sketch for me is where he explains that each go-cart operator had a theme song that they sang or hummed as they flew down the hill--even Weird Harold.

It is Sunday evening now and I am safe at home. I picked up the living room, ran the carpet machine, and tried to ignore everything else. Today we made it to church where people complained nicely that I was overdue for another food order, the Bishop reminded me that I'm teaching the 5th Sunday lesson this month, and all my kids were given new Sunday school teachers (because in the LDS church, the kids travel together in a group up the Sunday school ladder, changing in January -- every kid turning 8 this year is in the same class, every kid turning 9, etc.). I HATE this and completely block it out of my mind because inevitably I'm unprepared to hear what year my kids are turning this year. Today was particularly unkind as I had to face the unreasonable FACT that my BABY is turning double digits in June and my other babies are turning 5 which is just not very baby-ish. Scott, a friend from church, saw my horrified expression as Ben sat down in a CTR5 chair and said, "It's not till November, Alaska." That's easy for him to say. His son (who turns 5 the day after mine do) is only his MIDDLE child. He still HAS a baby left. SHE just went into nursery and will stay there another year. And anyway, he's a man. They never seem to mind the aging process in their children.

We didn't stay for the third hour of church as we have a church/basketball game conflict for the next 6 weeks or so. So after the first hour of Sunday school, I gathered the boys and we ran home to get Max to his game on time.

The game was at the elementary school downtown, which is good, because it's the only one I know where to park around. They used 10-minute quarters or something, because the time flew by. Max did just fine and I really LOVED how his coaches interacted with his team. They were the warm-fuzziest men I've ever seen and their young team of nine-year-olds would do ANYTHING for them. Including win by more than 20 points. It was soon clear to me that Max had landed on a team with a bunch of kids who really already knew the game very well. The other team was much more mixed. What this meant is that Max, who is the only kid on his team who has never played before, only looked goofy compared to his own team members. It also meant that the other coach soon pulled the super-tall kid off Max (well, that is, he pulled the only kid he had who is also Max's height) and replaced him with a younger, shorter kid. This left the boys pretty evenly matched. Max's height is no substitute for skill at this stage of the game.

The best part? Max kept up. He ran for the whole game, ran back and forth and wasn't the last kid at the other end (he was the second last, but that's moving up for Max), and I was happy to see that we seem to have lost little ground in the battle to keep Max fit and healthy. He still has a ways to go, but he didn't lose ground.

Anyway, since the rest of the kids were doing just fine, both coaches coached Max plenty -- but not so much that he started to feel picked on. Like I said, these guys had coached LITTLE kids before. They were great.

So we went back home and I walked the dogs and started dinner and the piano teacher called and we set a lesson up for tomorrow and I wrote it on the calendar and . . .

Dy, what happens after the paint dries is that you get more and more involved with life. You get piano lessons and sporting events and vet visits and it's January 9 and the calendar is soooo full!

It's wonderful -- and occasionally panic inducing.

Tomorrow I need to find a short story for first graders involving dogs, some poems about penguins, and write a chapter of math problems. I need to take Max to a piano lesson and get him to the elementary school at 5 of 3:00 so he can get on the intramural bus to go skiing with the other 4th and 5th graders in the area. I have to remember to pick him up from the ski place at 7pm.

We have thank you cards to write and I'm really hoping to find a check in the mailbox in the morning so I can deposit it and pay the rest of my bills for the month. I need to get the Y to walk off the Ben and Jerry's ice cream Chris brought me yesterday and oh yeah -- Max needs to do a regular Monday's worth of school work. We did school last week but I've been afraid to look and see what, if anything, he got done the two days I was gone.

Tuesday the twins start swim lessons and Thursday will be their swim lessons and Max's piano theory class and then Friday is Max's regular piano private lesson plus basketball practice and Sunday is church and another game again.

So I'm sitting here tonight playing financial guru so that when that check does arrive I can put cash in the food and gas envelopes and send checks off to the people who get checks and be done with that.

And I am loudly humming the theme to the Lone Ranger (AKA the William Tell Overature) as I sit here, piloting my go-cart down that steep slope that is 2006.

I can only hope that at the bottom of the hill there is Victory! -- and not 500 cop cars.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I'm leeeeeaving on a Jet Plane/Don't know when I'll be back again

Yeah, I do. Lickety split. This is an in to town, meeting all day, back out of town deal. Even so I Chris had to practically shove me out of the truck at the airport. I've just lost my . . . ovaries, when it comes to flying. And 48 hours away from the kids seems like eternity. I don't know what I'll do this summer when Max and I hitchhike across the country to get to my sister's wedding.

I have dropped out. I write with a pink pen, wear my hair in a ponytail, and the security guy speaks condescendingly to me because I don't know the routine at the State College airport. We don't have cellphones anymore. We don't have cable, so I only know what I read of the world--and we don't get the paper, so we only know headlines.

I have to go to Chicago for a meeting that takes place tomorrow. It occured to me yesterday that my jeans/t-shirt combo wouldn't cut it--and my black velvet skirt and white blouse winter church "uniform" would look too, Amish for this crowd. So I dug through my closet and found three possibilities. All jumpers (none denim, Sarah). The first is a bright yellow jumper in a light cotton fabric. The second is a loose gray jumper in a heavier cotton fabric. The third is a navy blue jumper in a medium-weight fabric. I would freeze in the yellow. The gray is probably 10 years old. Chris hates it. I haven't wanted to let it go because once it was kind of dressy and it always fit no matter what my size. But looking at it yesterday, I had to admit that it has faded, the fabric looks worn, and is is finally too big. So I packed the blue with some tights for warmth and will hope for the best.

I am not happy about flying. I loved flying as a kid--really until Max was born. I realized it had all changed when Max was 15 months old and we flew together for the first time out to Michigan together to see family. He spent the 4-hr red eye flight wide awake and pacing the aisles with me visualizing the thousands of ways I would save him if the plane blew up. This was long before 9/11.

It hasn't gotten any better. I brought my knitting. It meant I had to check a bag but sacrifices must be made. The Delta employee checking me in sympathised and said, "I'm a knitter, too." She asked what I was working on. "Just dishclothes, " I said. "I don't want to have to pay attention." She laughed and said, "That's my on-flight knitting, too. Scarves and dishcloths." It did make me feel a little better.

In the end the first flight ended up being the entertainment portion of the trip the steward--a stocky late 20-something--was a regular standup comedian. After declaring our destination to be Honolulu, HI, with a stopover in Cincinnati, OH, he said, "This is a highly technical piece of equipment--you might want to pay attention." he said before giving the funniest demonstration of how to use the seatbelt I've ever seen. He then asked, "Anyone need me to demonstrate that again?" The whole plane raised their hands--then laughed.

For the 60-minute flight to the Cincinnati airport armpit of the Universe, he promised us lobster, steak, and peanuts although he suggested we allow the lobster and steak more time for preparation.

It almost made up for the fact that the landing in that puddlejumper had me gripping my armrest and PRAYING tha when I threw up it would be IN the bag. In CinCin I bought dramamine, only to have the gal behind me warm me that it would knock me out.

Well, poop.

I would ordinarily chance it but I knew that I'd be meeting an old friend/boss for dinner and it would be unkind of me to ruin his dinner by drooling on my plate. So I stopped by the nice sit-down restaurant and begged crackers. Maybe I looked green, or pregnant, because she ran to get them. I was still sucking on the peppermint that DELTA had given me on the last flight.

At the next gate I asked if I could move up front because I'd heard there was less turbulence. Well, no, but he could give me a seat with noone else in the row and noone in front of me and noone behind (apparently January 5 is not a big flight day) so I could puke in peace. I took it.

In the end the flight was fine thanks to the crackers.

When I got to Chicago I found my bag and then it slowly dawned on me that I knew neither how I should get to my hotel or exactly where it was. I kind of vaguely remembered that Evanston is more of a suburb than actually Chicago and I had a hunch that O'Hare wasn't in Evanston. But O'Hare is some SERIOUS real estate and if you walk far enough you can get anywhere. So I decided to try the shuttle. It was about a mile from the baggage claim to the shuttle area and I was grateful for my tendency to pack lightly. But there was no shuttle to where I was going. I was however able to get a map and some good advice. I learned that I could pay $35 to take a cab to Evanston or I could pay $2 to take the "L". The "L" would be a two-hour ride. I looked at the clock. 3:00 pm. I knew that the person I was meeting for dinner wouldn't even get off the plane until 6:30 pm.

The L station was one floor down and about 50 feet to the right. I got some change and bought a ticket and gpt on the train. I put on my headphones and caught up on Dave Ramsey shows and listened to the next hour of my audio book -- which I am really enjoying and highly recommend. I had to change lines downtown, but that wasn't too complicated. Everything was relatively clean (I mean, compared to New York or Boston) and well marked. I ran into one weirdo -- but a benevolent weirdo. He held the door open for me and then talked my ear off for the next ten minutes before parting ways. Every other human being was nice to the obviously-not-from-around-here girl. The second train was faster and there was a lot more swaying. I turned the mp3 player to classical and after 20 minutes began to really fear that I was going to puke all over the wrong person's shoes, so I took half a dose of dramamine, all the while thinking it wouldn't help anyway because the label said that I should take it 30 minutes to an hour before traveling.

Apparently that's not as important if you've been to nauseated to eat anything since breakfast. The chewable tablet must have gone straight to my bloodstream because five minutes later I was feeling like I could at least sit up straight and I was feeling almost okay by the time I got to my station. I did not throw up after all.

The security guard at the station gave me clear directions and I found the hotel only a block from the station. So, it took a little bit of walking, and a lot more time, but it was definitely worth saving $33 by taking the train.

I checked in and ran up to my room to call home. I talked to everyone, changed clothes, ran to the treadmill to walk, walked 35 minutes, ran back upstairs, showered and changed, and was just about to go find a vending machine when the phone rang. We found a great Mexican place, caught up on five years of news and gossip, exchanged photos of our kids, tried some seriously funky new food (and awesome guac), and walked back to the hotel.

Then, I worked.

And now, it is 12:33 (or 1:33 in PA) and I am off to bed.