Monday, June 30, 2008

When 1 + 1 = Not Exactly 2

Tootsie left on a long-awaited road trip to Colorado with her grandparents last Friday morning. She was supposed to be experiencing this inter-generational, cross-country adventure with her cousin.

Sadly, that cousin was sick. Sick enough that she couldn't make the trip.

Before the final decision was made about keeping her home, there was a flurry of phone calls placed, messages and status reports relayed, wishes made, fingers crossed, and tears shed. It was a tough call for her parents to make, but ultimately had to be done. Her health was their top priority, and it just wasn't worth taking a chance.

Now, while there was great disappointment and frustration taking place during this time, something of a very different nature was added to this bubbling broth and was slowly stewing away in the back burner in our house: hope (albeit of a bittersweet variety). We realized our son, Bubb, could go in the cousin's place.

In less than 24 hours, we got everything lined up so that this could happen -- physician's signature on the camp health form acquired, return plane ticket held, "emergency" haircut received, new shoes purchased, bags packed. As the checklist was being completed, Bubb's hope was building.

Now let me just back up and say that Bubb...well, he just isn't typically all sunshine and rainbows; but throughout the preparations, I could literally see his shoulders straighten, his brow unfurrow, and his eyes start to sparkle. BUT! We were setting him up for a bad case of schadenfreude; his pleasure would be the result of someone else's misfortune. (To his credit, he never voiced anything like that; in fact, he was feeling really awful for his cousin.)

Then, with mere hours to take-off, it occurred to us -- he could go either way! We didn't need to make it dependent on anything. There was no need to add that additional pressure to the situation.

Our kids were excited and the final countdown was on! (And there was still the lingering hope that their cousin would be able to join them later.)

Well, the decision became final yesterday; she didn't make it.

But our two kids did. And while they are incredibly excited (and so am I!), it still feels like something's amiss.

When I picture that car driving off, I can see two heads in the back seat...but in this case, 1 + 1 doesn't precisely add up to 2.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Heard Round the Deo 'Hood

Since I glommed my posting duties off on amalah's doorstep this morning, I had time to take a nice long shower. During which I continued to giggle and imagine more product talk. And when I opened the door to the medicine cabinet and saw my own FOUR DEODORANTS standing there innocently, I realized I was perhaps a victim of marketing, too...

"Victim of marketing?? More like victim of over-active sweat glands!"

"Seriously, dudes -- I mean I know her air conditioning was broken and all, but hello?! STANK!"

"Hey, guys! Wanna hear a secret? We saw her throw a t-shirt away recently because the pits bleached out!! We'd watch your backs if we were you, because we're pretty sure she's gonna figure out who did that and you'll be outta here!"

"Plus? She's just kind of fickle."

"Kind of fickle? Yeah, tell us -- all three of us! -- about it. She even muttered around about trying to pin the problem on us -- something about comfort strip residue. Like we even have any comfort strips left! We've been here, like, FOREVER, and we're only disposables! I mean, as if!" (eye rolling)

"Tell it, sister: One of you four up there on your high shelf? You're goin' down!"

"Uh, fickle? Hello? Over here? You guys don't even know from fickle."

"Yeah, well at least you get some action! We're practically just bathroom decor."

"Don't even start with that again. You two at least get frantically used for about a week every 6 months or so....But us? We're dying here!!"

"Joke's on her, though -- cuz, her face? It's dying, too!!" (maniacal laughter)

"Whu? Action? Did somebody say action??"

"Aw, go back to your snofgest, Mr. Fancy Brush. Like you are in need of any action?! Seriously. your shelf is hopping all day long! We see how you are."

"Hey! Don't throw me in that shelf mix! We all know I'm only here for Junior's sake, and he hardly ever even wants to mess around. It's hard to be a mint-flavored soul stuck in such a ridiculous package. I'm a patsy! A decoy! A JOKE!! I only dream about action."

"Yeah, well you can HAVE the kind of action I get. All of you? -- SHUT IT!!"

Amalah's Deodorant Dialogue

I sat down to type up an idea I had for today's post....but first took time to check in on amalah's latest, and after laughing my way through THAT, everything I've got is just pretty darn dull!

Please allow me to offer you this Post of Deodorant Silliness, courtesy of*, while I go grab another cup of coffee and keep my daily drivel to myself this time.

Trust me; you'll thank me later. Click on it! Go on -- click, already!!

(See? Told ya so.)

ANOTHER EDIT - 6:02pm: -- OH! Mom! Forgot to warn you....amalah swears. Um, kind of a lot? Or, rather, her toiletries do? But just, ya know, beep it out in your mind, mmkay? Hey, mom? You coming back?

*Well, yes, I do realize that I mention her regularly. And link to her, too. But do you see why?! Plus, she is the blogger who got me hooked on the whole bloggy-blog thing in the first place, ya know. I Stalk Heart Amalah! **

p.s. -- OK, and now I feel compelled to clarify that I meant "stalk" in the nicest internet-y way possible. I read her blog daily (and have for several years now) but don't comment or anything, cuz, ya know, there's like 300 people commenting already! And I know she's mentioned stalkers many times, both the genuine and jokey varieties...and, so, just to be sure we're all on the same page here, I'm a tongue-in-cheek jokey one, OK?! Amalah, if you read this, please know I am in an entirely different state! And I never even leave it! And --aw, screw it,...I'll just go edit my silly little strike-out to something more innocent.

**In future editions, this paragraph will be edited to read as follows: Well, yes, I do realize that I mention her regularly. And link to her, too. But do you see why?! Plus, she is the blogger who got me hooked on the whole bloggy-blog thing in the first place, ya know. I Lurk Heart Amalah! --Ed. 11:50am, 6/27

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Top Chef: The Jujyfruit Family Elimination Challenge

Our family loves to watch Food Network, and we have many must-see-t.v. shows thanks to that channel. Now that "Top Chef" is over for the season (which by the way, I never blogged about the finale, but didn't they totally make it look like Lisa was going to win?! Her food did look good that day, but, I mean, LISA?!?? I was yelling at the tv & threatening that I would NEVER WATCH AGAIN...and then, thank goodness, Stephanie won, because I would have hated to follow up on that threat), we are watching "The Next Food Network Star".

So anyway, the kids and I went to the library and checked out a bunch of cookbooks (after I paid my large fine and got my checkout privileges back...) because we all agreed we wanted to actually DO a little cooking, instead of just WATCHING it with stomachs growling.

We browsed and planned and came up with a group menu for supper last night. Then yesterday the kids and I went to the grocery store, each armed with our own list of ingredients for the cooking challenge (just like they do on the shows).

I gave orders to my husband to start the Baked Chicken Fingers recipe from this book while we finished up at swimming lessons. Then he cleared out of the kitchen with Junior while the bigs and I finished the rest.

Bubbs wanted to make BBQ sauce, so he cooked up a batch from a Williams-Sonoma sauce cookbook. Tootsie made Caesar Salad with the recipe from the first cookbook (minus the chicken). She also had plans to make the Potato Skins...but when we realized it was a two-hour endeavor, we 86'd them. (See my insider kitchen terminology? We're savvy cool foodies!) I whipped up some garlic bread as a quick replacement for the potato skins, and then my featured menu item was Swistle's Modified Baker's One Bowl Brownies, served with a duo of ice cream (Breyer's vanilla and a Peanut Butter version we mixed up in an effort to recreate a local ice cream stand favorite).

Now for the results from the Judges' Table.

The sauce was good, although a bit tangier and chili sauce-y flavor-ier than we prefer. Plus it was chunky. It was a good start, though, and now that he knows the basics of sauce-making, Bubba's gonna run it through the blender and doctor it up today to experiment a bit.
The chicken was a total flop (literally) for some reason -- it stayed pale and floppy and the egg dip & coating sort of pooled beneath each piece and baked onto the pan. We cut up the strips into nugget portions and finished cooking them IN some of the BBQ sauce on top of the stove. We gave them a thumbs-up after our modifications.

Based on his lackluster cooking results, my husband had to be eliminated from the family. Heartbreaking as it was, we were forced to ask him to "please pack his knives and go." Ha! Just kidding! It wasn't really an Elimination Challenge; I just said that to get everyone properly motivated -- it was really more of a QuickFire Challenge.

Anyhoo. On with the critique.

The Caesar salad was really garlicky, and quite good, and the recipe didn't call for eggs or sardines, which we considered a plus for home cooking. We thinned the dressing with some additional EVOO, but I don't think that was a good move. We'll definitely make that recipe again, but add extra lemon juice instead (if needed).

The brownies were delish. They were chocolatey and dense, with a thin chewy crust on the top and bottom - perfect! They actually didn't take much longer than they would from a mix, either, and the flavor was well worth the few extra minutes. I will have to start keeping unsweetened chocolate squares in the pantry now, rather than boxed mixes, because they are definitely craveable.

Hmmm, in fact, I'm suddenly thinking about how delicious one would taste right n....

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How to Pack for Summer Camp

So here's an interesting discovery I made this morning: boys need very very little to survive at camp for a week. I knew as I was packing that I included more clothes than my son really needed for 5 nights away from home...but I was planning for the possibility of cold nights, hot days, rain, mud,...perhaps even changing clothes.

Near as I can tell, this little pile on the left represents the dirty stuff. (Oh, plus one towel...not sure if it was used for the beach or for a shower, though...or possibly for both?) The bag on the right is still largely filled with clean stuff.

And I have one other little thing I'm wondering about. Do you think this travel-sized toothpaste looks like it was used twice a day for 5 days? I'm thinking maybe not...

Ah, details, schmetails! He had a great time, so it's all good, right?
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Priceline Negotiator & Marvin the Martian: Friday Night Smackdown!

I love to see Junior playing with his siblings. I mean, really playing WITH, not just following from the outskirts. This occurs more & more now that they are all a little older, and they have a handful of silly little games in their repertoire.

The latest game, developed by Junior's older brother, and reserved solely for the two of them, is called "Priceline Negotiator". Ya know, like the commercials? (Click to access video if you want to watch a snippet.)

To play the game, first you have to sing the phrase, with inflection like this: "Price-line Ne-go-shee-A-TOR!" And you have to wear special headgear (small shoulder pads from an old Halloween football costume). And then you run around and jump on things and then fall down and wrestle a bit, singing the phrase with abandon and repeating the steps as necessary.

It was really cracking me up, and made me think of Marvin the Martian from those old Bugs Bunny episodes, with his crazy helmet and "Space Modula-TOR" voice. So I started randomly saying, "Where is my Space Modula-TOR?" in my best imitation of Marvin the Martian, and that quickly became part of the game as well.

Every so often, now, Junior runs into the room and points to my mouth with an excited grin, which is my cue to pipe in with my silly Marvin line (which then cracks him up, and makes him do some crazy, throaty vocalizing of his own).

So it's not only a whole barrel o' fun, it's also therapeutic!

But wait, there's more!

No batteries required AND I can type while they play it! (Look at me! Whee!! Type type type type!)

And on top of all that, it truly tickles my funny bone. Yes, it's true -- a wild, loud, wrestling game moms approve of! Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Now, what would you expect to pay for all this? $39.95? $29.95? How about the unbelievably low limited-time offer of $19.95?

Be the envy of your neighborhood! Simply send a one-time payment of $19.95 in cash or money order to Jujyfruit Inc., and you can expect to recieve your very own set of Matching Protective Headgear and Detailed Instruction Booklet within 4-6 weeks.

Yep, we're obviously ALL pretty easily amused around here. Heh heh. Ahem.

Seriously, though, this game? It's a keeper.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rediscovering the Forest (Despite All Those Trees!)

So. I had quite a day recently. It actually started off well; I had some energy and felt like doing a little yardwork, the kids were happy and mellow and busy.

I did a little weeding around the back yard, then spent a long time sweeping all the maple seeds off our deck and patio. (They dropped by the treefull in just a matter of days.) Everyone was still happy, so I decided to hose down the deck & patio, too. It looked great, but then I noticed some of the plants looked dry. So I watered those, too. The VERY LAST PLANT that needed water was a potted fern hanging from a tree, and the hose just wouldn't q-u-i-t-e reach. So I gave ONE QUICK TUG on the hose....

...and knocked over the little side table. The very lightweight tippy one that is topped with a piece of shatterproof glass. The same one that has been knocked over half a dozen times before, with no ill effects except my annoyance. But this time? This time it SHATTERED. Into a million zillion trillion little hunks and chunks. (Thank goodness it wasn't into shards and slivers...but STILL!) There were pieces in an arc covering a good 8 feet of patio.

You should have seen the look on my face.

I was this close to completing a very satisfying task. And now I would have another hour of time cleaning up the very same area all over again. And I couldn't even be mad at anyone else -- it was purely my own fault. My stupid fault because I was just so close to finishing that I didn't want to take two seconds to untangle the hose.

And then? Then all three kids come outside and say they are hungry, so am I almost done? And is it time for lunch? Big. Heavy. Sigh.

The most positive thing I can think of to come out of this situation is that it's great material for a blog post! So I run inside and grab my camera, because a picture is worth a thousand words.

I was still in awe over the chunky shapes the glass broke into, and bent down to pick a little piece up to examine it...and suddenly, before I even know how it happened, Junior is right there beside me, and he PICKS UP A PIECE OF GLASS AND STICKS IT IN HIS MOUTH!

I shrieked so sharply that it startled him, and he jumped and yelled and threw the glass back down. I let into that kid, I tell you. I was angry and scared and just in such disbelief.

"What on earth are you thinking?!? That is GLASS! DANGER! OUCHIE! NO, NO, NO!! No touching!! BACK OFF! (he freezes) SCOOT!! BACK!! (he shuffles back) SOMEONE-COME-GET-YOUR-BROTHER-NOW!" I yelled. (Plus maybe a few choice words...)

And Junior looked at me with the hugest eyes ever and shakily signed "Ice."

Oh. Yeah. Huh. I just blinked. Because it really did look an awful lot like ice cubes. I was staring at them myself, slightly hypnotized by the strange little shapes just a second ago, after all! Count to three, deep breath.

I sent Junior inside, FAR AWAY from the glass, and I started sweeping. Those chunks on that bumpy, grid-like, crevice-filled surface were next to impossible to sweep up. I had to pick much of it up by hand. Then I hosed everything down again. Finally, FINALLY, I was done with the area.

And you know what happened then? Well, Junior came outside to check on my progress...and to seek some assistance. He must have been pretty hungry while waiting inside, and so he foraged around in the kitchen until he found a really good snack...

And here's the strange thing. I was so worn out by all that mess, and just so deeply, deeply thankful that Junior hadn't ingested or been injured by the glass in his mouth, that I didn't even yell this time. The blind rage, utter disgust, or numb annoyance (reflex reactions not uncommon from me lately, I have to admit with shame) were just nowhere to be found. I had literally been startled into the present; narrowly escaping that very close call opened my eyes to see beyond the mess of the moment.

"Oh, guy. What a mess. You are really, really hungry, aren't you? And that was a very long time to wait. Let's go clean you up." I murmured to him.

And then I walked in the kitchen and saw the rest of his snacking debris.

And I sighed again, and, together, we cleaned everything up. And then we all ate lunch and lived happily ever after for the rest of the day.

But first, of course, I took another picture or two...

And I'm glad I did (even though I had learned an important lesson today about when NOT to take a picture), because just look at that expression.

The thousand words said in this picture are ones that remind me to see the other side in the situation, to maintain my patience, to not lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Say Hello to Blog, Jr.

I've been realizing how many of my day-to-day situations and posting ideas have to do with my youngest son, Junior. But I don't think those things belong on this particular blog. This blog? Well, it's a sorta-kinda mommyblog, I guess, but I really view it more as a creative outlet and source of entertainment for both me and my loyal readers three browsers neighbor (hi, Lynne!) and mom.

I have decided to create a separate blog for Junior. He single-handedly produces enough fodder for many posts to come, and there is often a story behind the story in these posts that I could tell. I do envision occasional overlap, and some posts might be cross-linked, but it is a separate endeavor with a different purpose and audience. Feel free to come join me there, too, and learn more about my son and my experiences in just daily being his mom.

Some of the posts are about things that occurred a little while back (while school was still in session), so they will be back-dated, but I will try to put new ones up regularly for the next few days until we are all caught up to the current date.

Click here to read the first post on the new blog.

Don't worry, uh...Lynne & mom -- things will carry on as usual here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More From the Fancy-Free Files

I had a small revelation this morning, triggered partially by my last post, which mentioned asparagus, and partially by Junior sitting on my lap as I typed it while we sipped our morning coffee.

Here it is (although I should warn you to stop reading now if you are eating or are easily offended!): there are certain smells that just don't belong in diapers.

An odd statement to make, I know, because I've been changing diapers for 12-odd years now, and I'll be the first to admit there are all variety of unpleasant odors involved with that task. But, let's can I put this? To phrase it somewhat delicately, you know how sometimes after eating asparagus or drinking coffee, the corresponding odors seem to exit the body via the bladder?

Well, asparagus-scented pee and coffee-scented pee just do NOT belong in diapers! Trust me, there is a reason you don't see Gerber's Creamy Asparagus Puree or Similac Coffee Latte Formula in the baby food aisles.


And now that I have thoroughly made this site Fancy-Free for the day, I feel compelled to note that I recently mentioned this blog to certain family members. And that they will likely be paying a visit soon. And now I feel sort of like I invited them to a lovely little dinner party....and then proceeded to greet them at the front door with a lampshade on my head, asking them to pull my finger!

Footloose and Fancy Free!

Last night was quite the wild and carefree evening! The two older kids were at summer camp, and we dropped off Junior for a little sleepover at grandma's house. (Turns out there was no sleeping -- it was more of a stopover at grandma's house. But that's a whole 'nother story...)

So what do a couple of unfettered middle-aged folks do on a rare evening out like this? Why, dinner and a movie, of course! Now don't get me wrong, we both manage to get out a fair's just usually more of a tag-team situation. One of us is home, one with the kids. Or we do have a sitter, but in the back of our minds we are wondering how it's going for her. Or we are with a group of people. But just the TWO of us? Alone?! That rarely happens.

We decided to go eat at a nice local restaurant we've been wanting to try. Pops bought a gift certificate at a fundraiser last November, and it seemed like we finally had the perfect opportunity to go use it.

We were ready and rarin' to 4:45pm! We were so excited to hit the town that we took Junior to his grandma in the parking lot at work! No time to wait 5 more minutes and actually take him to her house, ya know. We had places to go, things to do!

We made the transfer of last remaining child, and set off with grins. I called the restaurant on my cell phone just to make sure they were open, and asked if we needed a reservation. The guy on the phone actually laughed at me and said he thought we would be fine. (I mean, seriously, 5:00pm on a Monday? Was I worried the senior crowd would have filled the place up already? This place doesn't even serve jell-o!) (heh, heh -- just kidding, mom!)

So we walk into the restaurant as they are still lighting candles on the tables and arriving for the evening shift. First ones! Whee! Bring on the party!

We ordered appetizers (shrimp cocktail and crab dip with garlic & olive oil bread crostinis). And drinks (pomegranate fruity martini thing for me). And then we proceeded to clean up every last little crumb and scrap and bit of dip on those plates! And by "we", I mean "me".

We still hadn't ordered our meals by this point. Two other tables in the restaurant had filled. I leaned into Pops and said, "I think they think we are here for a long, romantic dinner or something!" And then we giggled and giggled, because that was so funny to think about. (And by "we, I mean "me".) I mean, obviously we were there at the crack of dusk for some chow! And so we could have time for the rest of our wild evening plans!

So we ordered (herbed filet mignon dotted with homemade butter, served with grilled asparagus & chef's mashed potatoes for me) when she came back to refill our drinks (a fruity "august apple" little number this time).

When the food arrived, the presentation was lovely. It was served on white, square plates, with everything attractively arranged and garnished, finished with a colorful sprinkling of chopped parsley confetti all around the edges. I wished I had taken my camera to capture the delicious beauty.

I took my first bite, and as I was chewing, Pops said something that made me laugh. Through my nose, obviously, because I was chewing. The gust of air it produced caused some of the parsley confetti to fly off the plate and land on the tablecloth. Which made me blow-snort-laugh again! Which of course caused a second little flurry of green activity.

"This is so much fun!" I thought to myself as I sipped again on my martini and went back to speed-eating my gourmet meal.

Well, before you know it, we had both finished our entire plates. I mean, we practically licked those suckers clean! And by "we", I again mean "me". Pops's plate still had a bone on it, after all. And of course it also still had lots of green confetti. But mine? By this time, mine was bare, I tell you! A one-inch piece of asparagus stalk and a small bunch of mint garnish was all that remained. The tablecloth surrounding my plate was rather colorful, but the plate itself was impressively clean.

The waitress removed the plate, asking, "Was everything ok?"

I teasingly replied, "What does it look like?" and we all cracked up!! We just laughed and laughed! And again, by "we", I mean "me".

For dessert, I drained the last of my drink.

About this time we realized we completely forgot to order our salads. Turns out some meat and seafood and good old starch was really all we needed, though, so it was fine. We wrapped everything up (bill-paying, that is -- certainly no food left to take!) and started to leave, both deciding to visit the restroom on the way out.

The waitress was sitting just outside the bathroom doors, which were located right at the end of the bar, incidentally, where several people were sitting. The doors were unmarked, but she helpfully encouraged us, saying, "They are both either/or. Go on in!"

Unfortunately, the bathroom I chose was out of toilet paper. But there was a nice new roll on the back of the toilet, so I started to unwrap it, suddenly aware of how LOUD removing the crinkly wrapping was! And thinking everyone could probably hear it and knows that, for whatever reason, I needed more toilet paper! I gently pushed the foot pedal on the steel trash can to open the lid and dispose of the crinkly wrapper as quietly and discreetly as possible...but the lid wouldn't open. So I pushed a little harder...and the whole can tipped over and clanked loudly on the stone floor.

By now I was giggling quietly and telling myself that my audience listening a door's-width away was likely wondering if everything was ok in there and feeling bad for me since I was obviously caught up in some kind of loud & unfortunate bathroom-emergency situation. I proceeded without incident, until it came time to dispose of my hand-drying paper towels...which again required me to wrestle with the trash can.

On my way out, I noticed a neat & convenient open-topped wire trash can right by the door! Who knew?!

I noticed the waitress had discreetly moved away from the bathroom doors by the time I re-appeared. I straightened my shoulders and we waved and left and giggled our way out to the car. And by "we", I mean "me", of course.

I had a great time. Loved my meal, loved my martinis. I did really well on the "footloose" part, but I don't think I performed too well on the "fancy" part. Just add a hyphen between the words fancy and free, so that it becomes a more apt descriptor. Fancy-free: no need to use your inside voice; shoes & discretion optional.

How did the rest of our evening pan out? Well, we went home, curled up on the sofa, and watched a movie! We stayed up late -- 11:30pm!! And enjoyed deep uninterrupted sleep!! We were wild party animals, I tell you!

I love a night out on the town, but really, when you get down to it, sometimes you just can't beat staying home in an empty house.

We had a great evening. And this time, by "we", I mean "we"!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Unbearable Cuteness of Being

So you know how we finally broke our "no pet" rule and got a bunny? Well, the very same weekend, our friends got a new puppy. Behold the cuteness that is Lucy.

We couldn't pass up a little romp in the grass with the two of them together. Aren't they the cutest little things?

And by the way, WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?? Why am I suddenly finding these animals so cute? And why am I using the word "cute" in every other sentence? Is this just a honeymoon stage, or am I actually finding a teeny tiny little space in my gristly, grinchy heart to become a PET LOVER? (gasp!)

Don't worry, mom, I'm pretty sure it will pass...

The Long, Long Road to Bunnyville

Say hello to the most adorable new member of our family -- a bunny named Maddie. After years of the kids begging and pleading for one, we finally have a pet in our house. Well, technically in our garage, but she does get to come inside and be cuddled now and then.

The proud mama of this furry little baby is my daughter, Tootsie. (She actually informed me that I am now a GRANDMA...but I prefer to think of myself as Supervisor. Or Facilitator.) Either way, Tootsie worked long and hard to make this adoption happen.

When her pleas for a pet first started, we were able to satisfy the desire with a fish. That was all fine and dandy...until one day the fish died. Then my son, Bubbs, got a hermit crab. Again, it was pure excitement around here...until one day the hermit crab died. Then Bubbs found a tiny turtle on a camping trip and he became the new pet of the house. (T.J. the turtle is still alive and well, knock on wood!)

But the kids started to get more expressive about the specific needs that a pet should be able to fulfill. Like being holdable. And cuddly. And warm. And furry.

My solution was to get them each a brand new Webkinz stuffed animal! They're furry AND holdable AND cuddly. And the virtual online version can be taken care of every day. And they always do exactly what you say and they never shed or poop! (Or die!)

The Webkinz did actually fill the need last summer. The kids had fun, everyone was happily distracted, and I thought they all made perfectly ideal pets.
But they weren't alive. And that became the topic of the next round of discussions. So, being the clever problem-solver that I am, I bought them a container of...PET GRASS! It's alive! It needs daily care and watering and trimming and sunshine! Tootsie was particularly pleased with it...for about 24 hours. She trimmed and examined and watered it with pride.

Then she came to me and said, "Mom? It's just GRASS. This is NOT a pet." She's so quick, that one. (sigh)

So here's what we finally agreed: Tootsie would research the specific type of pet she wanted to have and then write an informative report about it. The report would include information about daily care, housing requirements, training methods, etc... If she could find a pet that required a minimal amount of care with little to no effort on my part, that would not aggravate my allergies, and that would not unduly interrupt our daily routines, I would CONSIDER the idea.

She got to work that very night, surfing the internet for information about rabbits. The pile of print-outs grew, and notebook paper and gluesticks were flying around the office for a time.
She completed her report within 2 weeks. And I have to say, she did make a pretty good case for having a cute little unassuming rabbit as a pet. (Did you know they can even be litter-box trained?!) She narrowed her rabbit of choice down to a Holland Lop, due to its relatively small size, gentle temperament, and adorable floppy ears.

About this same time, some friends of ours got a hand-me-down rabbit which they took along on a camping trip with us. Tootsie held that thing all weekend long, and even gave them a few pointers about rabbit care. The weekend helped convince me she really was serious and ready.

We finally agreed to her rabbit plan.

The next step in the rabbit-acquiring process was for Tootsie to earn some money to pay for it herself. She picked up trash from the yard and watched Junior several times to earn the first bit of money. Then she got a more enterprising idea: she purchased bottled water, pop, and candy to sell in a stand in front of our house. She had the $25 she needed after two days of sales (thanks, everyone!).
I found a local rabbit breeder, made a call, and discovered they had one Holland Lop bunny left, which would be available that very weekend! (Bunnies have to be left with their mothers for the first 6 weeks.) We looked at pictures online, and Tootsie's little heart was set on that furry little girl. The fact that the timing was so perfect seemed like a sign that the match was meant to be. Then came four days of waiting, which Tootsie claimed were some of the longest days of her life.

When the pick-up day finally came, Tootsie took along her entire money jar and paid all by herself. Her face absolutely lit up when she got to hold her very own, long-awaited, desperately-loved bunny for the very first time.

So far things are going pretty well...although Maddie is nowhere near litter-box trained yet. (In fact, I had no idea such a tiny little thing could produce such incredible amounts of poo. At least it is tiny, harmless-looking poo. That I don't have to pick up. Or step in. Or smell.) So for now, Maddie comes into the house on a towel.

The first morning of pet ownership, the kids were up at the crack of dawn. I went downstairs to see all three of them cozily snuggled up on the sofa together, sleepy and grinning, quiet and proud, holding the bunny while they watched cartoons.

I think this is going to be a good thing. I'm really, REALLY hoping so.

(Especially since Bubbs now has his eye on this little fellow, a 3-week-old Mini Rex...)

Is there any way to keep him exactly that adorable size?? Because THAT could convince me...

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

NailWatch 2008 (Another Important Follow-Up Post)

So remember that little story about Junior getting his finger pinched in a door last month? And how a trip to the doctor's office removed all evidence of injury? Well...despite that nail's outwardly lovely appearance, things were not quite right underneath it all.

Junior came home from school a week or so later with his entire nail hanging by a hinge, opening and shutting like a tiny door. He kept messing with it and pulling on it and saying "Owsh"...and then I walked into the kitchen to find him getting ready to cut the whole thing off with kitchen shears!

It was like a slow-motion action scene, with me flailing my way across the room, feet stuck in molasses, shouting, "Nooooooooooooooo!" while the audience gasps and peeks through parted fingers.

I made it in time, thank goodness.

Willing away the shivers running up and down my spine and trying to replace the wince on my face with a Confident & Wise Nurse Mommy mask, we cut that little sucker off. Once again, I am utterly amazed at my ignorance of all this nail injury stuff, because I thought that would have to be the most sensitive and tender little fingertip in all the land...but Junior just goes about business as usual.

He does love to show people, though. And it's pretty funny to watch the sudden comprehension appear on someone's face as he realizes exactly what it is he is seeing; it's clearly not just me who gets the heebie jeebies from that thing!

Wanna see?


Friday, June 13, 2008

Important Bathroom Update

I would just like to announce that my bathroom has been restored to clean, sparkly shininess! The shower curtain has even received its periodic laundering. The scent of cleansers and fabric softener fills the air in there!*

You no longer need fear a visit to Casa Jujyfruit. (And to those of you who came despite the fear, you may now feel free to pee as needed.)

PS. Even though I scrubbed it all clean, apparently I forgot to hang the hand towel NEATLY. Ah, so sue me! At least it smells good!

PPS. That was a joke, you know. Don't sue me! Read the fine print below!

*Management does not assume legal responsibility for the veracity of this statement over the passage of time. This is a one-time claim with limited warranty. All consumers waive their rights to take legal action pertaining to the subjective nature of the manager's claim. No refunds will be given. No rain-checks will be issued. Plus, any claims about shiny neatness do not pertain to bunched or wrinkly towels.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thanks, I Needed That

(graphic courtesy of

Here's a big shout out to my gal, Mother Nature! (Hey there,, friend! Love your haircut! Have you lost weight? You look fabuous today -- love that shade of blue on you! We're all good, right? Even after that letter I sent you recently?)

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Seriously, just beautiful! The sun was shining, a refreshing breeze was blowing, the temperature was a mere 79 degrees, the humidity was lower -- I mean the sky was actually blue! And after that sweaty run of humid heat (with no air conditioning), it was an incredibly refreshing change.

In other news, we got our air conditioner fixed yesterday, too. (Yeah. I know.) Turns out the coolant was low, but mainly the breaker was off. (Yeah, I KNOW!) But it's working now, and last night I slept much better and not only used a sheet, but actually got a little chilly during the night and had to get up for a light blanket!

And, just wait, it gets even better -- JUNIOR

Think I'll buy a lottery ticket today.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Weather Word Games: The Hink Pink Edition

We are on our 5th straight day of 90 degree temps and high humidity/rain. Our air conditioner is on the fritz. It is hot and still and muggy, indoors and out. I thought a nice, cool shower would refresh me...but then I was confronted by the ugly reality of the unpleasantness that these hot & dripping weather conditions can create in a bathroom.

But you know the old saying, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade"? Well, in this case, I say, "When life hands you nonrelenting high humidity and heat and turns your house into a giant petri dish of thriving spores and fungus and you are too hot and sweaty to repair the problem, make a word game!"

So here's a little bit o' fun called Word Games Inspired by the Weather. Remember the old rhyming game called Hink Pinks? Here's how they work. I give you a little riddle to solve which can be answered by a pair of rhyming words. "Hink Pink" means they each have one syllable, "Hinky Pinky" means two syllables, and "Hinkety Pinkety" lets you know each word has three syllables (although I don't think I have any of those in this round).

Here are the riddles:

1. unpleasant odor in tub stall due to nondrying hanging curtain (hinky pinky)

2. black and orange discolorations in shower curtain valleys (hink pink)

3. puddles and general stickiness on nondrying bathroom walking surface (hink pink)

4. strange aroma eeking out of water basin pipe drain (hink pink)

5. the ooze around the very edge of the circular screen in the sink (hink pink)

6. mildew growing around water level in toilet (hink pink)

7. what all this humidity is doing to the surface of our overhead bathroom paint (hinky pinky)

8. the scent wafting out of my body-drying fabric (hink pink)

9. what this ripe, humid petri dish condition might cause to grow on our tooth-cleaning devices (hink pink)

10. the layer of gnats stuck to the damp floor (hink pink)

Go ahead -- play along at home! You can check your answers below. If you come up with some more, feel free to add them in the comments section.


1. sour shower
2. fold mold
3. floor gore
4. sink stink
5. drain stain
6. pot rot
7. ceiling peeling
8. foul towel
9. brush thrush
10. bug rug

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Now THAT Is A Love Note!

I have a confession to make. You know my last post, all hopeful and prepared for the long days of summer? seems I'm going to have to renew that pledge every single morning. Yesterday was just frustrating and long and annoying. And really humid & rainy outside, which doesn't help matters any.

I kind of lost it last night.

The details are nothing new. Nothing dramatic, nothing last straw-ish. Just the same. The same same same same SAME! The sense of being stuck in a time warp is overwhelming sometimes. My Life As A Science Fiction Novel: The Day That Never Ended, That In Fact Turned Into Years and Decades and Eons of...THE SAME.

Of course I'm exaggerating. A little, anyway. Things have changed, but the changes are such baby steps that they are easy to overlook.

Anyway, back to the love note heading of this post. I went to sleep a little beaten & weary. I managed to sleep in until 8:00am this morning, which is pretty good for me. Before I even opened my eyes or made a peep or moved a muscle (for fear of waking Junior, who is still ending up in our bed every night, with our last uninterrupted sleep back in April, and before that...oh, I don't know, NOVEMBER, maybe??!), I gave myself a firm talking to, along with an encouraging peptalk. Today is a new day! I will do better!

....and when I rolled over, the bed was empty!

I was so grateful that my husband had slipped out of the room with Junior and let me sleep. That is such a rare thing. I felt pretty perky heading downstairs for morning coffee and to say good morning to them.

.....and when I reached the living room, the couch was empty!

Ditto for the kitchen and the back yard. Huh??

Then I saw it. A bright white rectangle of LOVE, I tell you, fairly glimmering with sunshine adn rainbows and peace and happiness and hope for a better world! Take a look:

I don't know how he's doing it, I haven't called to check in, I hardly even dare to peek out the front door without knocking on wood, lest my little slice of Coffee-and-Computer Paradise vanishes.

That is a love note, pure and simple. One of the sweetest ever.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Drawing the Calves

Yeah, I'm still here. Been a little negligent on the blog front, though. Sorry about that.

The main reason for my absence boils down to this: summer vacation. No, I haven't gone on one -- I've just been filling my tanks and drawing the calves in preparation.

"Drawing calves" is my mom's saying. She was the daughter of a dairy farmer, and she recalls that before going on any family trips, her dad would have to go out and draw the calves (literally). He had registered Holsteins, which meant there were certain standards regarding coloration and markings that had to be met. Each calf had to be drawn from all four sides on special graph paper so that the percentage of coloration could be properly determined and recorded. It was one of those jobs that could really have been done at any time...but somehow was left until the last minute when it became essential. So while the family waited to leave, grandpa would be out drawing calves.

Similarly, as the school calendar days ticked off (unbelievably quickly, I might add!), I started remembering all the things I meant to get done. So I've been cleaning and going through closets and working in the yard and running errands and making phone calls and going shopping and reading and enjoying my freedom. Then there was also a camping trip in there, a 4-night/5-day stretch when my husband was out of town, various school events to attend, and a short bout of flu (yuck).

Basically, life happened. And instead of stepping out of my life to blog about it, I just lived it. (Plus, I was just too distracted by the ever-present tick-tock-ticking in my head to post.)

Anyway, school ended last week, and now I'm all ready for summer. Sort of. I mean, the calves are drawn and all...but I'm still not feeling fully prepared.

Summer has been hard for me the last several years. Long days stretch out before me, but I don't know how to fill them. The older two kids want to have friends over, go swimming, plan adventures, just do typical summer kid stuff. But Junior isn't on the same page; his behavior is such a challenge in unfamiliar or stimulating situations. He needs the routine and predictability that the school year provides. I end up feeling pulled in very different directions (while dreaming longingly of my own!) and disappointment and frustration abounds. Summers? They're just hard.

I've done what I can to prepare for the summer, both physically and mentally. I'm being proactive! I'm remaining optimistic! I've organized and cleaned and planned!

The drawings are complete. The itinerary is filled. It's time to head on out, folks. Wish me well.