Thursday, August 28, 2008

Goodbye, House. Goodbye, Moon. Goodbye, Room with the Red Balloon.

So today's the day we move. While I've been working here behind the scenes for a while now, the literal, physical, actual moving of boxes will commence shortly! (Yay!)

Which also means my beloved computer will be unplugged shortly. In fact, according to the phone company, my internet service will be disconnected today...and will not be available again for several days. (Boo!)

I just hope I can actually finish this first.

I was brainstorming about a cute post that would parody the beloved Goodnight Moon children's book that I would call Goodbye Moon. I couldn't remember all the words, because it's been a while since I've read that one to anybody. So, I googled the text, and up popped this link to a New York Times Op/Ed piece that made me giggle...

...and since I don't have time this morning to take matching photos or come up with new words to complete the book theme, let's just say that it was a really good idea and move on! Go read the link instead.

Catch ya on the flip side.

This One's For You, Mom...

I woke up this morning with a nosebleed.

I'm pretty sure it's because I said "damn" in last night's post.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Regretful? No.... Disheartened? Yes.

We got the keys to the new house tonight, so took the kids over for a little walk-through and family house-warming party.

I looked up "House Cleansing" and various and sundry other New House Blah-di-blah Traditions and made up a list of things I decided we would do the night before our big move. I had a whole little ceremony planned for our family that included bits and pieces from a variety of cultures and traditions, all Jujyfruitized appropriately.

For example, we followed the feng shui recommendation to boil water for tea and rice so we could share a meal bringing Happy Meals from McDonald's to eat picnic-style on the floor of our new home. (Get it? HAPPY Meals, which add an attitudinal statement in addition to paying homage to the tradition of food and fellowship first. Plus? Easy.)

We dried sage today (in the microwave -- again with the Jujyfruitized version) and brought a stick of cedar (from my husband's siding company!) to burn and we "smudged" the house, as a nod to rituals the Native Americans have long used to cleanse and protect.

We brought a live plant to the house, to symbolize new life and growth. What's more, the plant was a pot of mint dug from my brother's yard for the kids to transplant in our new yard, so there was the added symbolism of family and connections and roots which grow and prosper and spread.

We each had tiny candles to carry from room to room as together we spread the "house-warming glow" and offered prayers and hopes and dreams to be carried up in the smoke (a Thai tradition).

I had a bottle of wine (a Jujyfruit tradition) with which to toast the future. (I came across the wine today as I was packing up the kitchen, and noticed the Turning Leaf label. Now I realize this may not be the fanciest of wines, but the label jumped out at me because we are in the process of turning over a new leaf! Auspicious, yes? So the wine became a part of the bag o' house-warming stuff, too.)

Bubbs had his special rock and lucky key along for the ceremony.

We had our positive attitudes. I told everyone that I read that all negative energy (e.g., bickering, criticizing, pessimism) should be left outside the front door, as we were entering our new home for a fresh start and wanted it to be positive.

Now, you know what they say about good intentions....

The kids were more interested in their Happy Meal toys than in my little inspirational talk about how we can change anything we want in this house -- from wallpaper and walls themselves, to who we are and who we want to become, both individually AND as a family. I encouraged them to focus on their goals and dreams and picture what they wanted to achieve while we live there.

The kids silently chewed while staring at the fast food bag, played with the beeping R2-D2 toy, and scooted around the floor while dragging a cheeseburger behind, respectively. (I'll let you guess which kid did what.)

My inspiring talk ended when chocolate milk sprayed all over my left calf.

Then, also, the sage kept dropping burning bits on the floors. The candles worked well until suddenly dripping hot wax on our fingers. Yes, the shouting, stomping pain literally went from person to person in the order we had lit them, mere seconds apart. The Meaningful Wine was greatly appreciated, but we had two vehicles to drive back to our old house, so we didn't drink much of it. Junior shattered two of the little glass candle holders on the driveway, had TWO separate stinky diapers, and someone else (who shall remain unnamed, BUT IT WASN'T ME!) had an urgent bathroom call also, in this empty house with no toilet paper!

Now, let me just take a moment to say that I tried so, so, SO hard to focus on the good things and stay really positive...because those incidents I mentioned above really aren't that abnormal. I mean, I didn't consider them omens, or anything: that's just pretty much how we roll.

But the thing that I had a really hard time with was the house itself. I was making a conscious effort to only bring my best self in, but -- gag! -- the house is dirty!!

I'm talking grime and gunk in every corner. I'm talking cobwebs you could lay an egg on. I'm talking PEE & PUBES ON THE TOILET!! Stinky, yucky, DIRTY! (Put it this way: when Junior kept setting his cheeseburger on the carpet during our Feng Shui picnic, I was worried about the cheeseburger instead of the carpet!)

I was (am) so discouraged. I didn't have the sellers pegged for the neat overachieving type, so wasn't completely surprised...but seriously, don't you at least SWEEP THE DAMN FLOOR before you leave??

Guess I'm mad, too, eh? (And apparently this glass of Meaningful Wine I brought back to the old house to guzzle helps the anger bubble to the surface ever-so-smoothly. (Until it begins to froth and boil and crash to the surface in an unstoppable tsunami of bitterness, that is!)

I really thought seeing the house WITHOUT all the sellers' stuff would make me feel even more secure in our purchase...but instead I am freaking out.

I know, I KNOW -- very few people actually live in their dream house, and it's fine if I'm not, either. (And this new home is a pretty safe bet. I mean, WORST case scenario -- we decide we don't like living there, we fix it up, sell it in a few years,... I KNOW we could make money on it. It would sell, because it has a great location and tons of potential.)

But the house really needs some TLC, and my T is all dried up for the month, and my L is directed elsewhere at the moment, and I frankly don't C tonight.

I was so excited earlier today...and now I'm just tired.

OK. I have vented. The Meaningful Wine is helping my vision of the future to reappear. (It's also helping my eyes to droop, and making me yearn for bed.)

It will be fine. Really, it will. This move is a good thing.

Not an EASY thing, but a GOOD thing.

It's just like I told the kids -- we can change anything in our new place.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Right Jolly Old God

Junior was looking at a book, and he came over to me with an excited sparkle of recognition in his eye, pointed to a white-haired, bearded illustration of God...and then delightedly exclaimed, "Ho! Ho! Ho!"

I'm gonna take that as a sign that it's time to go back to church; our summer hiatus is over.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Hot Square Meal...and Other Important News

Take a look at our menu tonight. It's a smorgasbord of savories! A rainbow of rarities!

....A bounty of boxes. A jumble of junk.

But still, it is a hot square meal! Well, ok...a hot rectangle. See?

...a hot, rectangle meal with a couple of circles thrown in so it is balanced.

There's a reason we're eating like this tonight: I'm trying to clean out the freezer.

And why am I suddenly interested in cleaning out the freezer?

It's because of a little thing I like to call "WE ARE MOVING!" Yep, the rumors are true. I've been waiting to post about this until all the last-minute scares and negotiations and loan approvals were neatly signed, sealed, and delivered. (Which they finally were, as of Monday night.)

One week from today, we will be waking up in an entirely different house. In an entirely different neighborhood. In the very same town.

There will be plenty of posts about this change, I'm sure, but for now I've got to keep moving along here! (pun intended)

Much of our stuff already looks like this:

...but there are still a lot of empty boxes waiting to be filled.

Posting may be light for a bit, while I finish clearing out of this house and settling into the new one.

But don't leave! Back in a sec!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Product Review: Alphabet-Shaped Pretzels

I realized in looking back over my description of this blog, I mentioned that I love to find bargains and deals, but I have yet to feature any of these in my posts! So it's high time to include a few items in this category.

For my first product recommendation, I offer the perfect Back-To-School snack: Meijer Alphabet Shaped Pretzels. They taste like regular old pretzels, if perhaps not as thin and crunchy as the gold standard (Rold Gold Pretzel Sticks, IMHO). But pretzels? It's hard to go wrong with any brand, frankly, and the sheer fun that these alphabet shapes offer is well worth any difference in taste or crunch.

Of course, these pretzels are a wonderful snack for younger kids who are still learning the alphabet; Junior loves to discover one of his favorite letters while munching on a bowl of these. And I think they make an excellent choice for a classroom snack offering, if you happen to get requests from your kids' teachers (as I do), since they are fairly healthy, AND educational, AND cheap ($1.59 for a 15-oz. bag).

But the other thing these pretzels have going for them is the bonus entertainment factor they provide for older kids. Kids who are able to spell words and write phrases. Kids who like things snarky...

Kids like ME!

The possibilities are endless! Just think of all you could do with this little bag o' fun:

Do your kids ever complain about the snack you give them?

Do they ever tell you they're not hungry for the item on their plates?

Do they ever request something completely different than what you've already prepared?

Well, now parents have a fun and creative way to make a statement, let the kids know their options, or let off some steam, while at the same time providing a quick and easy after-school snack!

Or, of course, you could use them to help your children practice the alphabet or work on weekly spelling words...

...or to, ya know, leave messages like "Enjoy your snack," or "Hope you had a good day," or "I love you."

(Hunh! I guess these pretzels really would work for that, too, wouldn't they?!)

Please excuse me now...I need to quickly go change something before the kids get home!!


Product Rating: 4.5 Jujyfruits

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Take This Job Soap and Shove It

So the kids completed their first week of being back in school. Actually, it wasn't even a full week. In fact, the boys (who are still in elementary school) only went for 2 1/2 days.

This was a good thing, though, because I think they needed to ease back into it. My oldest son, especially, had a hard time simply waking up in the morning, let alone waking up with a cheerful attitude, all refreshed and alert.

I thought a morning shower would help him perk up and feel ready for the day. But when he was all done in the bathroom, this is what I found:

Perhaps a shower before bed is going to work out better...

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back-To-School Essay: What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Ahhh, vacation...

It was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of these final days of summer. I've been strung a little tightly lately, and squeezing in some R&R at this particular time was, ironically, adding to my general pinchedness. But, of course, the trip turned out to be a good thing.

We stayed in an unassuming beach-side cottage with my side of the family (13 of us, in all). The cottage is a bit of a throw-back to the good old days: no phone, no tv, no satellite, no computer, no radio, no dishwasher. It has a general rustic feel that keeps things simple.

The cottage is located between two lakes. Steps and a path lead a short distance to the smaller of the two out the front door; out the back door, a steep & rugged path cuts straight over a hill and through the woods to the larger one. No palm trees or tropical fruits here; this is an area of ferns and pines and mossy, leaf-blanketed woods.

It's the kind of place where you are more likely to spot deer than crowds of tourists fighting for a patch of beach. The deer seemed to love the area around the cottage as much as we do. We spotted them daily, nibbling on leaves and daintily frolicking through the woods.

The kids did plenty of dainty frolicking of their own, while strengthening their cousinly bonds and building memories together. (They also did a LOT of fishing!)

We spent most evenings playing games. The week started out with silly rounds of Apples to Apples, but ended with nightly rowdy, cut-throat sessions of Up and Down the River. (By the end of the week, even the kids were playing that one!)

We all took turns planning and cooking meals and ate a lot of really great food. The grandparents stayed in with the grandkids one evening, and the rest of us went to a local restaurant...but actually the best food we had was all made right there in the cottage.

Eating all that good food was ok, though, because the four oldest kids and I did some jogging. Well, jog-walking, actually. Some. We set a goal of trying to run to this sign and back every single day (about 1 1/2 miles, roundtrip) and were surprisingly successful. I have not exercised regularly in years, so this was a pretty big deal for me.
We did have some rain, as feared, but nothing like the scenario in that dire forecast. The days were sunny and beautiful, quiet and relaxing, full of family and fun.

Now we're back, slightly weary and rumpled, but feeling good about ending summer on such a mellow note. The kids had a weekend to recover, then it was back to school for them (right after a small flurry of appointments and supply shopping and registrations). There are some other big changes just around the corner for us, which I will post about soon...but for now, let me just say that it's good to be home.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Summery Summary

Here's the short version: I MADE IT!

Summer is officially over; all three kids are back in school today! Some days felt long long long, but at the same time I can hardly believe it all went that fast. I'm celebrating with some extra mugs of coffee this morning, and free reign on the computer for the next 2 hours.

I've got a lot of catching up to do around here.

Let the posting resume!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Aruba, Jamaica, Oooo, I Wanna Take Ya...

And if that post title doesn't immediately start the song playing in in the jukebox of your mind, you must be considerably younger or older than me...

The Perfect Photo credit here.
Now that I have removed the sitemeter bug and am able to post again, I'm gonna make an escape!

Yep, we're taking a little vacation. To a nice, sunny, beachy spot (though not actually Aruba or Jamaica).

There's one little glitch in the lounging-on-the-beach scenario I've been picturing, though.

Once again, there is a less-than-ideal local forecast for the special occasion:
And the extended version?:
I'm not exactly sure what I've done to offend Mother Nature so, but she really has been acting a bit spiteful towards me recently.

(Sigh) Ah, well. It will still be fun to get away, spend some time with my side of the family, and enjoy more scenes like this:
Bye, Internets! Be back soon!

Sitemeter Issues

So apparently there is a wide-spread sitemeter problem, and viewing sites that use sitemeter (like this one) through several versions of Internet Explorer causes the page to crash.

Sorry if you've been getting that error message here -- I was unable to even access my own blog until I realized what was happening and deleted the code.

I'm back!

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Moustache and Garanimals

August 1, 2008

Dear Middle School,

It has come to my attention that my daughter, Tootsie McGee, is listed on your roster as an incoming 6th grader for the 2008-09 school year.

Are you absolutely sure this listing is correct? I am aware that she has completed all educational standards required in area elementary schools, and, in fact, has done so with flying colors. So I understand why the powers that be might be under the impression that she is ready to transfer to your hallowed halls.

But can we talk?

I accompanied Tootsie to the sports registration night held in your main office last night, and several things made me question her school assignment as it now stands.

First of all, when I announced her name (Tootsie McGee) loudly in the office, everyone started to giggle and point at her. Ok, you're right, that one is totally my fault. Forget I mentioned it.

Let me start over.

First of all, before we even entered the office, we had to verify that she was going into the 6th Grade, and therefore was not required to watch the Anti-Drug Educational Video like the 7th & 8th Graders were; she merely needed to sign a form agreeing that she would abide by the school's Anti-Drug and Alcohol Policy. Are you serious? Have we already reached That Stage? That stage of cell phones and bubblegum, MySpace and peer pressure, pre-teen drug and alcohol use, Jamie Lynn Spears and birth control? Plus, not to mention, -- when did she start needing to read the fine print for herself and sign her own signature on papers??

I feel a little dizzy, but I will try to finish this letter.

The second item that concerned me as I waited in line last night was the general appearance of all the children adults teenagers waiting along with us. I had to verify that we were, in fact, in the correct line to sign up for 6th Grade Cross Country. That it wasn't actually the BMV License Branch waiting line, or the Free Moustache Shaver line, or the Ginormous Bras and Free Proactiv Solution line. While I was assured WE were in the proper line, I'm still not completely convinced everybody else was. But if indeed the information was accurate, let me just say that I am very, very glad I didn't dress her in her Garanimals last night!* And that I allowed her to tie her own shoes.**

I am aware that one should never judge a book by its cover, and while I freely admit to doing that all the time anyway, I try very hard not to judge by appearance when it comes to humans. So, taking into account all the hormone-laced milk and human-growth-factor-filled chicken these young adults have likely eaten in their brief-yet-obviously-long-enough lifetimes, I decided to close my eyes and just listen to the happy chatter of excited middle school students. Let me just tell you, Middle School, my eyes flew right back open at the offensive language freely flowing from the mouth of the allegedly pre-teen man behind us while he carried on a conversation with his wife mom. And, what's more, the words were issued forth in a decidedly bass voice. And I'm pretty sure I saw a moustache.

So, in summary, I am requesting a full review of all paperwork pertaining to my daughter's middle school placement. I need additional verification that this assignment is, in fact, correct.

And while you're reviewing, please keep in mind that this is the same child who, yesterday, asked me if we had any milk, and when I replied yes, asked me where it was.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Respectfully Yours,
Jujyfruit McGee, Concerned Parent

*While this entire post will likely cause my daughter considerable embarrassment, let me at least state for the record that she does not in fact own Garanimals. That was purely a mother, mourning The Loss of Innocence, taking a bit of literary license to illustrate a point.

** Ditto.