Monday, August 31, 2009

One Week!

One week until school starts!

Well, one week from tomorrow, but today is half done, so I'll round down. One of my "friends" on Facebook is sad that her kids are starting back to school today. When people say things like that, I'm instantly convicted by my self centered ways, leaving me feeling like a horrible mother. If I weren't such a selfish person, perhaps I wouldn't be rejoicing over the start of another school year. I can't help it; I love my kid, but I also adore quiet time. As bad as I feel for eagerly anticipating September 8th's arrival, I know I'm not alone. Lots of other moms are doing the same. School is great, for kids and parents alike. As I see it, the only downsides to the school year are: having to get up early every morning, packing lunches and the abundance of germs in the classroom. Honestly, the germ issue is the only one that seriously concerns me. No surprise there.

The summer has flown by; the month of July, in particular, is a complete blur. It's cliche, I know, but I really don't know where the time goes. Wednesday at noon, we'll walk down to the school and see who Caroline's second grade teacher will be. My neighbor told me the other day that she has her fingers crossed that Caroline will get Mrs. Fay. Mrs. Fay's daughter baby sat my neighbor's kids this year and according to them, Mrs. Fay is wonderful. And, much to Caroline's delight, she is a teacher who does not believe in homework. Music to the ears of any normal seven year old.
Last year we didn't know anyone and didn't have a reference point regarding the teachers at Caroline's school. She lucked out and had a wonderful first grade year; hopefully second grade will be as successful.

Deep down, Caroline is excited to start back up. She'll miss playing non stop for 12 hours a day, sure, but she's still young and eager and excited to learn. Or maybe I'm just saying this to make myself feel better for wanting her to go back to school like, um, last week month. Don't get me wrong, I do love Caroline very much, I'd hate for you to think otherwise. I just think that it's easier to love and appreciate her if she's gone seven hours a day. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
I'm really not saying anything redeeming here to make me feel/sound like less of a horrible mother, huh? Oh well, I'll just add it to the ever growing list of contributing factors to my mom guilt.

The truth is, next Tuesday, I'll come home to an empty, quiet and orderly house and wonder what to do with myself. No afternoon trips to the pool, no smoothies to make for the neighborhood girls, no Legos haphazardly strewn about the living room floor, no slamming doors, no questions regarding the whereabouts of bike helmets and Wii remotes and no demands for snacks every hour on the hour. That is, however, until 3:05 chimes on the clock and the chaos begins once again. I shouldn't feel bad, right? School doesn't totally put the kibosh on Caroline's fun loving lifestyle.

It merely stifles it ever so slightly.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Question Of The Day

With the invention of the internet, many establishments offering free wi fi and internet enabled phones, does anyone use a phone book anymore? Why lug out the fifty pound phone book, when you can look up a number online? I ask this question because the new phone book was delivered a few days ago. We live in a fairly decent sized area so we had not one, not two, but three books delivered. Poor Caroline dragged them up the stairs, thankfully without hurting herself. One huge white pages, one huge yellow pages and some smaller one that I didn't even bother looking at, all arrived on our doorstep.
Honestly, I haven't looked at a phone book in ages. I've been known to peruse them if I'm bored in a hotel room, but I've not used one for it's intended purpose in years.
Why should I? I can just look it up online.
I suppose the only time I might find myself in need of the phone book is when the internet is down and I need to call the cable company to fix it. I don't know about you, but I do not have the Cox Communications number committed to memory. Heck, I have a hard enough time remembering my phone number. And don't even ask me to remember Craig's cell phone number. I have a habit of mixing up the first three numbers and have called this poor unsuspecting woman, with a similar number to Craig's, more times than I should. Clearly, I'm not a numbers person.

The delivery of the phone book, which I find almost unnecessary these days, just got me thinking a bit. I don't even know where to store the three phone books. I could find some hidden space, but I'd be willing to bet that once I do, I'll inevitably need the darn thing and I'll have forgotten where I hid them. As for now, they're in our front coat closet. I'm not happy with their location, but it will have to do for now. I prefer for all things to have a home, not just in a pile on top of an art supply caddy.

"A place for everything, everything in it's place" thus sayeth the ever wise Benjamin Franklin.

Every so often I go on a rip roaring organizational binge. I get an itch to declutter and organize and I will not be appeased until it's done. If given the opportunity, I think I could spend myself into serious trouble at The Container Store. I find it much easier to think in a clutter free environment. She says as she stares hatefully at the pile of Legos and various items belonging to Caroline's friends. Caroline's buddies have the habit of bringing their things over and leaving them for days. Every so often I'll make a "if it's yours, take it home" pile. After a few days, they take their stuff and more often than not, they'll leave something else behind in the process. I have three bags full of sidewalk chalk, bubbles and all the accompanying paraphernalia, an octopus sprinkler toy and a box full of lemonade stand supplies all in the garage. None of it belongs to us. And yet, it's there. Annoying the stuffing out of me on a daily basis. It's my fault because I forget to remind the kids to take their crap home.

Now that I've been yapping about organizing, I suddenly feel the urge to grab a garbage bag and declutter. Growing up, my mom used to call that "Bag Day." It's amazing how much junk three people can accumulate.
Caroline is with her friends for a birthday party/sleep over extravaganza, so the afternoon and night (!) are expected to be delicously quiet. Hours of uninterupted house decluttering and beautifying sounds good to me. Especially since Caroline won't be around to sniff around the bags and see what possessions of hers have "accidentally" made it into the trash.

With all this free time today, Craig and I happily went on a very uncharacteristic outing together; we had lunch and then ran some errands, which involved stops at Michael's, The Vitamin Shoppe, World Market, Safeway and Wal Mart. We didn't buy anything fun or particularly interesting, but we managed to cross off all the things on our list: cake boxes, super glue, chocolate, hand sanitizer, blister pads, hair clips and acipdophilus. Like I said, utterly uninteresting, but all necessary. It was fun, nonetheless. Craig and I haven't had lunch together since right before school let out. Otherwise, we're both tied down to the schedule of Queen Caroline. Since Caroline is not a fan of girly princess stuff, she's bypassed the Princess title and gone straight to Queen. Craig and I are her loyal subjects.

OK, enough chit chatting, time to grab a bag and get to decluttering.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

12 Days!

I don't know about you, but September 8th can't come quickly enough. The school supplies list is complete, the clothes are washed and hanging in the closet, the kids are all cranky and ornery and I'm about to lose my mind. All sure signs that school needs to start sooner rather than later. We find out who Caroline's teacher is next Wednesday and go to Open House on Thursday. After that we have a long Labor Day weekend....and then the fun begins. I told my neighbor, who is single and has dogs instead of kids, that she might see me doing cartwheels in the street on September 8th. She laughed and promised not to run me over on her way to work if she sees me "celebrating." Too bad I don't know how to do cartwheels.

I haven't written a horribly lengthy blog post in a few days. To tell you the truth, I was beginning to annoy myself after last week's string of verbose blog postings. I figure that if I'm annoying myself, I'm probably annoying everyone else, as well. You haven't missed much anyway.

It's been an exciting interesting amusing action packed envy inducing few days.

Yep, that much fun.

I am happy and quite relieved to report that Caroline and I successfully found green ball point pens (yes, penS, I had to buy 12, but I got em' and that is all that matters) and new jeans. As I said above, she's set for school. So come on September 8th, Alison's waiting for thee. I do still need to sharpen pencils, but I'll save that for tomorrow. If my weather map reading skills are up to par, I've noticed that Tropical Storm Danny will be bringing some rain our way tomorrow. I can't think of a better rainy day task than sharpening 36 pencils.

Otherwise, our life has been most uninteresting. Tonight is "Fiesta" night at Craig's work. We're providing tacos. I don't consider myself a master at making taco filling, but I located a recipe on that looks promising. I tend to fret a lot more over my savory food offerings than my baked goods, but I've yet to disappoint the crowds, so that gives me some hope. After yesterday's chocolate cake success, I now have two orders for the same cake. I'm going to be knee deep in chocolate butter cream next week. Not that being knee deep in frosting is such a bad thing.
When I prepared the frosting on Tuesday night I had just eaten some raw red onion with my dinner, which proved to be a very big mistake. That was the most potent onion I have eaten in a long time and it left a lingering oniony taste in my mouth, which altered my taste buds. I had to rely on my official taste testers, Caroline, Sarah, Kyleigh and Jonathan to let me know that the frosting was edible. Not that kids are helpful critics when sugar is involved; if it's sweet, they give it two thumbs up.

Not sure what's on the agenda today. The pump at our community pool has been broken for three days and I sure hope it's fixed today. The natives are especially restless this morning and I think I swim would do them some good. I hear lots of mumbling, grumbling and complaining coming from the basement where Caroline and her friends are playing the Wii Fit. One of the girls does not like to be last or the worst and makes her feelings known. It's not Caroline, thankfully, although she doesn't like being last or worst either. She's just not as vocal about it. You can read it in her body language and by her red, on the verge of crying, eyes, but she's *usually* not the type to whine because others are doing better than her. I think she has that internal competitiveness that I also have. It's my hope that Caroline will always be a good sport, even though it hurts to lose.

That is a tough lesson to learn.

Sigh, the laundry basket, which is filled to the brim with dirty clothes, has been staring at me the whole time I've been typing. I don't think it will budge, so I suppose I should do something to rectify the situation.

You know, I'd be much more enthusiastic about laundering if it were September 8th. Too bad I still have 12 days left of less than enthusiastic laundering left. Oh well....

In the meantime, I think I'll go practice my cartwheel skills.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mmmm Cake

(Please ignore the icing smudges on the cake platter, thankyouverymuch).
Well, I'm not Duff Goldman or the Cake Boss and I'm most certainly not a food photographer, but I did manage to make a tasty chocolate layer cake. Or so I'm told.
Craig called and left me a message saying that the cake was a hit. The birthday girl got a slice and was saddened to find out that the remaining cake had been polished off before she could get a second. An order has been placed for another cake next week.
I'm looking forward to baking another one, although I'd be lying if I said I was also looking forward to the accompanying mess. Yikes!
I had chocolate frosting everywhere last night, including on a bottle of Snapple iced tea in the refrigerator.
With anyluck next week's cake won't be lopsided as today's.
I'm still perfecting my craft.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Ch-ching goes the cash register at our local Honda dealer. No, we didn't participate in the Cash for Clunkers deal, but we sure are spending a great deal of cash on our clunker today. Yesterday, Craig piled Caroline and her three friends in the car to see a movie. As they left and I took a moment to cherish the silence, and think to myself how stupid brave Craig was for taking on such an ambitious task, I heard Craig come back inside.
"Guess what light came on" he asked.
Hopeful, but doubtful, I sheepishly said "the gas light?"

Um, that would be a negative.

Yes, my friends, it was the "check engine" light. Oh, what a sad sight it is to discover that sign illuminating in the dash board. So off to the Honda fix it man we went.

$2000 later, Craig will have a fixed up car by 5pm.

Yep, I said it. $2000.

His car is 9 years old and has never given us a single problem, so we can't complain. And yet, I complain. Not because we don't have the money to pay for it, but it's simply not FUN to spend $2000 on car repairs.

I mean, really, can't you think of a better way to blow $2000?

I know for darn sure I can. If I can't wear it, eat it, sit on it, watch it or enjoy it's beauty, I don't want it.

It's been a spendy weekend. Between back to school shopping, soccer sign ups and car repairs, I
can see the poorhouse just over yonder on the horizon.

Speaking of soccer sign ups, I'm still kind of steamy after that pocket emptying fiasco this afternoon. Caroline stated that she wanted to play this fall after a year long break from team sports; most of her friends play and she wanted to be included. I called my neighbor for information on the sign ups and she directed me to the club's website. Naturally, the sign ups ended yesterday, so I knew I'd be facing a late fee.
Eh, no biggie; it's not the first time.

So I fill out the information and come to a page that says something to the effect that they charge parents who choose not to volunteer a $15 fee. Wha!?! So, because I don't want to be a coach or equipment manager, I have to pay $15.
I don't get that at all.
They also charge $5.50 just to sign up.

And then they have the nerve to ask for donations!

So Caroline's $70 soccer fee turned into $100.50.

What kind of hack job soccer club is this? She doesn't even like soccer that much, but she wants to play because a few of her friends are.

It's been one of those rant worthy days, but on a more pleasant note, we met a friend from school at the school playground this afternoon. It was nice for the two girls to play while her mom and I chatted it up. But, alas, it was quite roasty outside, so the fun had to end before we all shriveled up from the heat of the day.
After the park, we made a trip to the pool only to discover that there was some sort of mechanical problem.

Eh, some days are like that.

With any luck, tomorrow will be a little less catastrophic on our wallets.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's Good To Be A Kid

I'd like to blame this on Hurricane Bill and the accompanying rain that has swept our way, but chances are this mess would happen on a blue skied sunny day just the same.

I don't know how, but the zip cord lines somehow, quite mysteriously were snipped. I don't know WHO could have done that!
Whoever did it, must have known that three days of maneuvering through a booby trapped house was enough.


I'm bored, so I thought I'd hop on ye old blog again to blab about my boredom.
It's raining now. The sky looked threatening all day, but the rain didn't really come until 3ish. I was at the school playground with Caroline and her three friends before the heavens opened. Unlike yesterday, when we got stuck in a downpour on our way back, we made it home with plenty of time to spare. Two days of hair ruined by rain is absolutely unacceptable.

I managed to get some shopping done this morning. Well, except for the blasted green ball point pen, which I'm pretty sure I'll be hunting for indefinitely. I should go to Staples, but I fear I'll be forced to buy 12 of them. I only need one. Same thing happened last year when we waited until the last minute to procure a highlighter. Staples didn't have a package of one or two; six or eight, yes, but not one or two. The one bright side to that situation is that I didn't have to purchase another highlighter for Caroline this year; thankfully I had the wits about me to check our stash of art/office supplies. We also have a large and quite random assortment of pencils from birthday party goody bags, holiday parties, etc... Too bad none of the pencils we have are Ticonderoga #2 pencils. We have Barbie, Superman, camouflage and snowflake pencils, but no Ticonderoga #2 pencils (with Microban!). I was unsuccessful at locating pre-sharpened Ticonderoga #2 pencils today, but I did find them, unsharpened, in smaller package sizes. The magical Target carries 12 packs as opposed to Wal Mart's 24 count packages. That's only 36 to sharpen, as opposed to the 72 I feared.

36 is a good number.
Well, for pencils. Age is another story. Thankfully, I still have a little over three years before I'll face that horrific sight.

Have I bored you enough with my pencil woes?


Now, I'll whine about the trouble I have finding clothes that fit Caroline. She's in between sizes, which is so very annoying. Should I buy the size that fits *perfectly* now, but won't have much longevity in her closet, or do I buy the next size up, in hopes that she won't look like she's swimming in them? Why is there such a huge difference in sizes? Gah, so annoying. In usual Alison fashion, the fiscal side overruled. I bought Caroline a few shirts today, in the next size up. I washed and dried them and measured them to her current shirts. The ones I purchased today are longer, but not so much that she'll look like she's wearing a t-shirt dress. But, per usual, I'm second guessing my sizing choice.
I don't know why I'm so bothered by it; it's not as if Caroline cares a lick about what she's wearing.

I checked the Target circular and saw that jeans are on sale starting tomorrow. Against my better judgement, I'm dragging the kid along with me tomorrow to try jeans on. She hates trying on clothing almost as much as I hate making her. It's a lose-lose situation. But, it's necessary. She only has one pair of jeans without holes that aren't three inches too short.

After my Target adventure, I hopped over to World Market to get some chocolate to use on the cake I'm making. Lucky me, they had their chocolate bars on sale for $1. I bought milk, dark and white to use for the shavings. And I bought a dark chocolate with sea salt (!) for me. I can't wait to give it a taste. I read on another blog about the wonders of this combo and I fully expect to be over come with joy when I taste it.

And no shopping trip is complete without a trip to Wal Mart. Well, not really, but I needed to find a cake carrier. And I wanted it to be cheap. When we were in Hershey, my mom and I went to Super Wal Mart for groceries. While perusing the aisles, I happened upon a covered cake carrier on clearance. I thought about buying it, knowing that I always wanted one, but figured that would be a silly purchase to make on vacation. Like, when do I ever make two layer cakes, I said to myself. Yep, life is funny like that. Little did I know that I'd be making one three weeks later.
I thought I'd struck out at Wal Mart. And as I was getting ready to slap myself for not getting the clearanced one, I found a different type for $5. Not too shabby. The clearanced one in Hershey was a prettier color and one dollar less, but, I shant complain.

Oh, who am I kidding? My blog would be virtually non existent if I didn't have anything to complain about.

Am I the only one who can turn a 90 minutes shopping trip into a 500 word recap?

Maybe Probably Absolutely.

Playing Hooky

Last night, having trouble falling asleep again, I set my internal alarm clock, which works *sometimes*, for 7 am. I have a standing reservation at Golds Gym for an 8 am beating on Saturday mornings. It's one of my favorite weekly gym experiences, but this morning, at 6:57 (yay for my internal alarm), I decided that sleep would serve a greater purpose than Body Attack. Blah, blah, blah, honor your body, blah, blah, blah.
In all honesty, I would have been fine at the gym, but I talked myself into believing that after 10 straight days of exercise, I deserved a break.

So, take a break, I will.

I guess I'll add rationalizing to list of things I do well.

I do have some errands to run this morning; getting out earlier than I would had I spent my morning sweating it up at the gym will serve me well. It's Saturday after all, and like I said last week, I try my hardest to avoid getting stuck in the tangled web of weekend traffic. But alas, we still have to complete the school supply list. I have pencils and a green ball point pen to purchase. I also need to buy round cake pans and a covered cake carrier. I've been requested to make a two layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for someone at Craig's work. I wish I could remember her name, because then I wouldn't feel like such an airhead, but, well, I don't. It's the nameless woman's birthday and if she wants a chocolate cake, then she'll get one. Since I'm not too secure in my cake beautifying skills, I think I'll cover the top with chocolate curls. It's my belief that chocolate curls on the top of a layer cake will cover a multitude of sins. Especially those of a severely amateur cake froster. I feel the same way about powdered sugar. And gravy. Slap some gravy on it and no one will know that you mutilated that hunk of meat.

I suppose I should get a move on. It appears that Hurricane Bill is sending us a present, as he whips through the Atlantic. The only thing worse than traffic is being caught in the rain while shopping. Rain is great when I'm home, with my hair protected from the damage that a sprinkle can cause. It's a nuisance when you're out and about.
It stormed last night and they're is an 80% chance of rain today. Looks like the pool is out again. We didn't go yesterday, either.

The days of summer are winding down, which is truly bittersweet. Yes, I talk a lot about wanting Caroline to go back to school, but the quickness of the summer only serves as a reminder that every day passes quickly. Soon she'll be a second grader. I'm ok with second grade; it's third grade that makes me queasy. Third grade qualifies her as a big kid. I know every mom says it, but I sure wish I could freeze time.

Blah, now I'm bummed.

Does that mean I can call my outing "retail therapy?"

Friday, August 21, 2009

That's What I Get For Thinking

Last night, as I tried to go to sleep, doing my best to calm my rather unquiet mind, I realized that it has been nearly six months since I stopped taking Accutane. My skin has behaved itself quite well in those six months, which I find to be a rather happy surprise. I suck at thinking positively, so this is news that makes my heart happy. Surprised, but happy. That is, until I woke up only to discover a little zit friend on my chin. Holy irony, Bat Man. Last night I was almost ready to raise a "mission accomplished" banner in celebration of my defeat of acne, but this morning, I've decided to remain on the cautiously optimistic train.
Thinking gets me in trouble more than I'd like.

Speaking of thinking, I find that my primary thinking/ life evaluation time is conducted as I blow dry my hair. What else can you do? You're stuck in a stationary position and it's impossible to be distracted by the tv, radio or the voices of others. What's left? Um, not much. So as I was drying my hair at the gym, swaying from side to side as I'm prone to do, I started thinking about how it's a good thing my personality type doesn't require a lot of friends, because, well, I don't have any. I have long time and far away friends, but none in the immediate area. Surprisingly, this doesn't make me feel as pathetic as others might view my situation. I can't say that I'm always enthused to sit alone, but for the most part, I do alright. I used to have friends. Good friends. And I miss them terribly. I talk to my neighbors here. I get the gossip, which I'm always intrigued by, but I haven't had lunch with a girl friend in over a year.
That makes me feel sort of sad. But not sad enough to cry a river and organize a pity party.
I save my pity parties for important things like getting a hole in my favorite jeans or ruining yet another attempt at pot roast (my culinary nemisis).

I guess it's also good that I despise "heart to heart" talks. Those that enjoy these types of conversations, really NEED a close set of friends. As for me, well, I'd rather talk about shallow things: tv, food, shopping. I'm an introspective person and keep my feelings to myself. I have found a good outlet on this blog, but for the most part, my rants are usually focused on things of a superficial nature. I'm not even sure that I have any deep thoughts. I have strong political/social opinions, but those are surface conversation topics, as well.
I don't remember a time when I've really bared my soul to anyone. I find it insanely difficult to make the words that come out of my mouth match what my brain is thinking. There's some sort of glitch in my wiring that makes the verbal expression of feelings a painful and unsuccessful venture. I'm just not the soul baring type. Truthfully, I fear that my soul is as shallow as the rest of me. Chances are my soul cares only about reality tv, chocolate and snagging a good bargain, like the vessel that houses it.

Maybe some people aren't meant to be deep. I use my brain; I think, I plan, I strategize, but I don't ponder. I don't think about my existence much. I get easily confused and figure that maybe we're not meant to figure it all out. On the other hand, I'm not vapid, socialite shallow. I care about people, about their health and well being. I want my family to happy, healthy and secure. I don't ONLY care about me. Sure, I'm the star of my show, but I have a spot for others inside, as well.

It almost makes me sound as if I'm a really cold person; I think it's my reserved nature that makes me appear a little cool. It's kind of funny, because I'm really not standoffish. I'm happy to have a conversation with others, so long as it's on a simple and fun topic.

I occasionally find myself nostalgic for the backyard gathering spot we had in Georgia. All the moms grabbed their chairs and we sat by the trampoline and chatted the afternoon away. The kids played, fought, cried, ate popsicles and we had an afternoon of laughter and fun. I do miss that.
Here, I'm like the hermit I think I was made to be. If I had a friend, I'd join her outside, but housing subdivisions in the civilian world are so different from their military installation counterparts. The demographics on a military base lends itself to lots of neighborhood interaction. Married couples with kids. It's hard not to find a friendly face in the crowd.

But like I said, I'm not the kind of person that NEEDS friends. I like them; I appreciate them, but they're not a requirement. With Army life being so transient, it's hard to maintain friendships from afar. My only desire is that when it's time for Craig to retire and we settle down for good, I'll find a friend. As for now, I find myself much more concerned that Caroline finds quality friendships.

With all that being said, I do feel slightly pathetic, sitting here in my house day after day, letting the demands of a 7 year old dictate the course of my day.
My activities director is at the neighbor's house as I type this. Each kid brought a lunch from home and gathered at Sarah and Rachel's house to watch a movie, "Alvin and the 'Chickmunks'." Earlier in the day they re-booby trapped our house. It was initially done last night, but we had to undo it so that Craig wouldn't trip and break his neck coming home from work late at night. We're thoughtful like that.

The labyrinth of pink curling ribbon is fun for the kids, but annoying for those over five feet tall.

At least we'll be exercising our agility.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I'm Gonna Wash That Day Right Off Of My Face

Have you had one of those days where you felt like getting in the shower and scrubbing the day off of you? That might sound strange, but sometimes I feel like scrubbing and scrubbing to rid me of whatever is plaguing me. Wouldn't it be nice if a hot shower was enough to wipe away the crud and leave you a new person when you step out of the tub? Too bad soap and hot water only wash away dirt and the excessive amount of product in your hair. Even the roughest loofah and the most potent soap only deal with surface issues.
Does that make me sound looney?
I'm not looney, I promise. And honestly, I haven't had a bad day. It's been a perfectly normal day, quite actually. Maybe I just feel grimy from sweating so much at the pool. I really should put my bathing suit on and actually get in the pool to cool off, but that seems like so much trouble. As I say to Caroline, I'm allergic to bathing suits! I think I'm better suited to reading under an umbrella. Yea, I'm boring like that.

I don't know. I think I have too much extra time on my hands. Perhaps if I had a hobby I wouldn't find myself thinking about such things. Or, maybe it's just the clean freak in me. When I'm mad or sad or frustrated nothing sounds more appealing than scrubbing the kitchen sink or organizing a messy dresser. After I've eaten ice cream, of course.

Right now I'm sitting in our basement while Caroline and her friends set up a labyrinth of curling ribbon from the top of our staircase down to the kitchen and dining room. Their intention is for the jumble of lines to serve as both a booby trap and a zip line to send messages hooked to a coat hanger. I'm glad they're having fun, but navigating my way through the kitchen has proven to be quite difficult. That would explain why I'm hiding in the basement. When I told Caroline that she'd have to take the trap down tonight, she looked at me with such disbelief.

How could I be so unreasonable?

I told her that her dad would end up killing himself in their trap when he arrives home to a dark house after work.

Well, it looks as if it's time to accompany Caroline to the school playground. She's very happy that's she has grown tall enough to reach the monkey bars. This is a huge deal to her.

Time to sweat some more!

This Time I Really Am A Fraud

This wireless internet we've got going on sure has facilitated a lot of blog posts lately. I find sitting in my favorite chair to be much more conducive to composing trivial drivel than when confined to a desk top computer in our bat cave/basement. Perhaps the sunlight streaming through our plantation shutters is opening up the inner recesses of my brain, allowing my thoughts to fully form in a coherent matter manner. Um, yeah, I wouldn't go THAT far, but I must say that I find this to be the most enjoyable bloggy spot. Besides, Caroline and her pal, Sarah, are down in the bat cave watching a syrupy Disney show whilst they eat lunch. Do we know how to entertain, or what? Check that, it's not Disney they're watching. I just heard the theme music to the $25,000 Pyramid. They must be watching the Game Show Network. Huh, go figure. All kids need to know the fabulousness of 70's/80's game shows; Dick Clark is an institution. Oh and Bob Barker with his skinny microphone on a long cord. Sigh, I miss the good old days. I remember being so happy to stay home from school and watch game shows when I was young. I loved Card Sharks and just yesterday I was reminiscing about Name That Tune.

So anyway, as my post title indicates, I am a fraud. Just two days ago I wrote about how I managed to avoid spending $$$ on iced coffee by making my own at home. It is thrifty and convenient and I plan to make more in the very near future. However, would you like to wager a guess as to where I stopped this morning on my way to the commissary? No, not Starbucks. If you guessed Dunkin Donuts, then ding, ding, ding, you're the lucky winner. There is a DD inside the shopette/gas station near the commissary. I usually NEVER stop there, but it's sweltering hot outside. Humid, sticky, uncomfortable, wilting, hot, hot, hot. The type of humidity that makes your makeup just slide right off your face. Blech, I hate summer. I woke up especially early this morning to get in a quick jaunt around the neighborhood before heading to the commissary for our weekly deplete the bank account food stock up. I ran for 30 minutes, but judging by the amount of sweat on my shirt, it looked like I ran for three hours. My body refused to cool down properly so by the time I was dressed with make up on and hair sort of dry, I was still sweating. And what better way to cool down than with a lovely iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts?

If it weren't for the fact that I took Caroline to the Ft. Belvoir pool on Tuesday, I wouldn't be in this surplus-of-excess-cash predicament. There I go deflecting the blame. Selfishness comes so easy. You see, the pool only takes cash, which is a rarity in my wallet. Excess cash = frivolous spending. Not that I haven't been known to use the debit card for $1.73, but that's only in emergent situations. Or, you know, when I'm really, really thirsty or out of bananas. True blue emergencies. Before going to the pool, we stopped at Wal Mart to finish up school shopping. I planned it that way because Caroline's shopping tolerance is low, but the promise of a trip to the pool works wonders in the bribery department. This also provided me with an opportunity to get some cash back while we checked out our school supplies. The only problem is that they only do cash back in increments of $20. I took out the minimum, $20, but the pool's entrance fee is only $2.50, thereby leaving a whole lot of change, taunting me with the promise of unadulterated bliss upon spending. Oh wait, we stopped at 7-11 for a muchly desired Super Big Gulp of diet Pepsi and a Slurpee for Caroline. So $14 has been calling my name for two days. Two days! I'm weak. I had to spend. And spend I did. A whole $2.18 for a medium iced coffee. I'm an animal with no self control.
Some women need Coach purses and fancy shoes that aren't Old Navy 2/$5 flip flops. Some women need all the latest gadgets and weekly manicures. All I need is a cold drink every once in a while. I guess I shouldn't beat myself up over $2.18. Not that I really was. I like to kid. It keeps me youthful.

The first half of the day seemed jam packed with items on the to-do list; can't say the same for the second half. I imagine we'll go to the pool. There was some chatter last night about me taking the girls to the school playground this evening. As long as I locate our bug spray, I'm game. Evening time is prime mosquito bitin' time. And I seem to be their prime target. Must be because I'm so sweet!

Again with the kidding.

I've been called many things in my life, but sweet probably isn't one of them. I wish I were sweet. Not syrupy or mushy, but sweet. I'm not brash or loud, but I'm certainly not demure. I'm too big boned to be demure. I'm more bull in a china shop than porcelain doll. Not that I'd want to be a porcelain doll; they're kind of creepy. We passed a doll shop while driving through Amish country and even the store front window gave us the heebie jeebies.

This post has officially meandered so off course that I have no idea how to bring it back around. Normally I'm a fan of a neat and tidy ending.
Today, I've got nothing.

the end.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

You've Got Me St-St-Staring At the Ceiling

That title makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but I've got a song from Body Pump stuck in my head and that is one of three lines that have been on auto replay in my brain all morning. I hate when that happens. Don't leave me with the light on. Sorry, that's the second of three lines stuck in my head. It's going to be a long day if this keeps up.

You know, it's nearing 3pm and the day has been most uninteresting. Caroline is out with her friends collecting their free books for reading 8 (or is it 5?) books this summer. It's a program offered by Barnes and Noble. Or Books A Million. Or Borders. I can't remember which, but still, a free book is a free book. As you know, I'm, ahem, cheap and almost never buy books. I do like the books from the Scholastic fliers sent home from school, because they are really affordable, but otherwise, I'm strictly a library girl. I had a conversation with Caroline's teacher last year and she said that she never uses library books. She prefers to buy them and be the sole user. I can understand, in a way, especially when you think of all the germy fingers that have flipped through the pages of a library book. Who knows the hygiene practices of the library card holder. Ew, I'll try not to think about that anymore because I don't want to tarnish my positive feelings towards the public library system.
So, I see her point, but it appears that my cheapliness overrides my germaphobiness. I read a lot; books aren't cheap. Therefore the library wins. She says as she quickly locates the closest bottle of hand sanitizer in the house.

Yikes, I just saw lightening. So much for a trip to the pool today. The morning started out sunny, but the dark clouds moved in as I drove home from the gym. The rain came around noon, but left quickly. Looks like it's going to make a repeat appearance. Rachel, Caroline's friend, is very scared of lightening and thunder. She'd never make it in the southeast. She'd be under her bed with ear plugs in her ears every afternoon during the summer months.
Caroline's a tough chick and doesn't seemed phased; she's been fully indoctrinated into the thunder club after living in Georgia for 3.5 years. She is, however, quite easily annoyed when the power goes out during a thunder storm. Priorities, people. Priorities. What good is an afternoon summer storm when you have to sit in the dark without television. Television makes a good storm great. We're not high maintenance women, but we do not like to be inconvenienced by the lack of electricity. We would make lousy pioneer women.

This summer when we traveled to historic sites like Colonial Williamsburg and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, I was awestruck by the beauty of the old buildings. The Governor's mansion in Williamsburg was beautiful and so regal looking, especially on the inside. But as regal as it appeared....the occupants didn't have running water. And they had to use an outhouse. Somehow these facts lower the regality rating in my book. I'm no diva, but I do have an unabashed appreciation for indoor plumbing and a hot water heater.

It's really starting to storm now; I should power down the computer before thunder fries it. We had that happen in Maryland, and it's no joke.

When you hear a crackle and a sizzle coming from your computer after lightening strikes, don't be surprised when your computer is unresponsive to your attempts to power it up.

Ha, the power just went out. I forgot that I was typing on the laptop. Hooray for battery power.
The power was only out for a minute, but now my microwave clock says it's 6:00 pm. Don't clocks usually flash 12:00 when the power comes back on?

We're so backwards.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Such A Fraud

As I've mentioned a zillion times before, Caroline's neighborhood playmates of choice are sisters, Rachel and Sarah. They are really nice, polite girls and I'm very happy that they get along so well with Caroline. To me and Craig, seeing Caroline play with girls is really quite bizarre; previously she solely played with boys. Lots of boys. We'd have to drag her out of neighborhood football games, kicking and screaming, with a dirty face and scratches up and down her legs. She'd get right in the mix, even though the other participants were older, bigger and stronger. She simply did not care, believing she had every right to be there.
Thankfully Rachel and Sarah aren't "girly" or TOO girly, which suits Caroline just fine.

Caroline is out right now with the girls, having lunch at McDonalds and accompanying them to Toys R Us so they can get their own Lego sets. We currently supply the majority of the Legos to the neighborhood, but Sarah and Rachel are eager to have a set of their own. When I spoke with their mom, Cindy, on the phone about lunch, she was hesitant to admit that she was taking the girls to McDonalds. She's not a huge fan of cooking so their family eats out quite a bit and from what I gather, they eat a lot of quick fix meals when they are home. Nothing wrong with that. I'm not judging. When I'm perfect, I'll judge. That's what I tell Caroline when she and her friends are feeling morally superior to the other kids in the neighborhood.

I just find it slightly amusing that Cindy thinks we're so health minded that we wouldn't dream of feeding our child McDonalds. Au contraire. It's our overall goal to eat a healthful diet and I do make sure that Caroline eats a serving or two of fruits and/or veggies with each meal. Thankfully she's compliant and enjoys them, however, I've yet to drill into her head that fruity flavored yogurt does not constitute a fresh fruit serving.
I'd like for Caroline to eat fewer Happy Meals, but we don't shun them. I'm not sure how in the world I've managed to deceive my neighbor into thinking *I* am the epitome of healthy living. Sure I exercise and drink green smoothies. I also eat handfuls of chocolate chips with scoops of peanut butter straight from the jar. I'm not perfect and I don't have any desire to try and sell myself that way; that would take way too much effort. Besides, I'm a terrible liar. I'd like to pretend my faults away, but that wouldn't be very real, would it? Everyday is a struggle to avoid stuffing my face with snacks in an effort to eat away my problems. Mindless, unsatisfying boredom induced snacking.

A few months ago I stumbled on a whole web of healthy living blogs. I read them daily, gleaning lots of information and inspiration, but I find a few to be heavy on the condescension. Sure high fructose corn syrup isn't the ideal sweetener, but you know, a little bit now and then won't completely defile your body. People who eat JIF peanut butter aren't bad because their peanut butter has added salt and sugar and "fully" hydrogenated oil, which is NOT the same as "partially" hydrogenated oil, AKA trans fat.

I would hate to come off as that kind of person; on this blog or in real life.

I find comfort in reading about the struggles other people face. Misery loves company.

The further along I go in this life, I've committed myself to the fact that I am only responsible for me and my family. What I do, what I say, how I live my life, what I feed my family. I haven't a right in this world to tell people how they should live, how many kids they should have, what kind of car they should drive, what they should feed their families. As this country moves closer and closer to that "big brother" mentality, the idea of libertarianism really appeals to me. It's your it how you see fit (being mindful of those around you and within the parameters of the law, of course).
With that being said, it's hard not to feel insecure and pathetic when reading the self righteous words of a blogger I don't even know. I'm not a confident enough person to keep other's words from bothering me. By the end of the day I'm usually defeated and pretty annoyed with myself for the poor food choices I've made. Especially when I've read the blog entry of a thin beautiful woman with immaculate self control. I excel at self loathing, in case you were wondering.

That's the thing about the blogosphere. While I find the act of blogging cathartic, reading some other blogs leave me feeling like a big dumb chump. Expressing my thoughts with spoken words is difficult for me; I think better with my fingers. Heck, sometimes my fingers even do a hack job of my thoughts, but it's still far better than anything that could possibly come out of my mouth. Sitting here blabbing my inner most thoughts to the internet at large seems completely normal and acceptable. Even though I remain on the outside, writing, reading faithfully, but not getting truly involved, I'm thankful for the blog community.

After Caroline left for her outing, I got to thinking about my conversation with Cindy and let out a good chuckle. I'm an unintentional fraud. Somehow, through no effort of my own, I've managed to dupe my neighbor. I keep telling her otherwise, in my charming self deprecating manner, but it's yet to register. I think all moms have a sore spot where they feel most vulnerable in their mothering ability. Discipline, food, sleep habits, health, behavior. I'm such a truly exceptional mother that I can't even think of one area where I'd most like to improve!

Ha, just kidding.

That's not very real now, is it?

As you know, as well as I do self loathing, I do mom guilt even better.

Smoothie Queen

To the neighborhood girls, I'm not only Caroline's mom, giver of drinks and snacks and keeper of all their junk until I finally remember to make them bring it home, but I'm also known as the "Smoothie Queen." They actually don't call me the Smoothie Queen, but every time I make them a smoothie they tell me I should open my own shop. With such a glowing critique of my work, it would only be natural to start calling myself the "Smoothie Queen."
It all started when Caroline busted her front teeth at her very first slumber party and found herself limited to a soft foods diet for several weeks while her teeth healed. Smoothies are soft; they're also a great vehicle for incorporating healthy foods into the diet of a Dorito loving seven year old. I've told you about my love for green smoothies and while I'd love to stuff some spinach into Caroline's smoothie, I'm not sure how well that would go over. Actually, Caroline is a veggie lover and would probably enjoy a green monster. Her friends, however, wouldn't be down with that, whatsoever. They're a bit more typical in their veggie hating kid ways.

So instead, they discuss the combination of flavors they're fancying on any particular day, and place their order. It's quite hot out today, so I wasn't surprised when Caroline and her friends trudged up the stairs muttering something about "peach, banana, strawberry....chocolate chip." I put the kibosh on chocolate chip smoothies; that sort of defeats the purpose of a "healthy" drink. Strawberry was out, as well. Can't make a strawberry smoothie without strawberries. It came down to banana/peach. And that's what we made. The girls tried to convince me that chocolate would taste really great in their smoothies. I told them they were nuts, but allowed them to put a squirt of chocolate syrup in their drink. Caroline, in her usual first taste fashion, grimaced but said "mmm, it's really good." I didn't quite believe her, but she's drinking it, so it couldn't be all bad.

I could really use a green smoothie right now, but the blender is dirty and I'm not really feeling like washing it out. Besides, it's almost lunch time; I'll eat my greens then.

I played hooky from the gym again this morning. My favorite instructor is out of town; her substitute is adequate, but it's hard to get motivated when you're not sure what the workout will entail. Instead, I woke early and went for a 4+ mile run. Hills and all.
It has been another productive morning: run, water plants, shower, library, bake cookie bars for Craig's work, laundry, smoothie making.

As I sit in my favorite chair, sharing the minute, mind numbing details of my life, Caroline and her friends are laying on the living room carpet intently building their Lego ships. Let me tell you, they take this constructing business quite seriously. I can't help but chuckle on the inside when they have serious conversations in which they weigh the merits of rocket launchers and power boosters. Many tears have been shed over Legos. Territory disputes. Destruction of property. The proper amount of weaponry. Emergency attack mode strategies.

No one plays house anymore.

If they did, mom and dad would surely be packing some sort of ammo while they push their baby in a jet propelled rocket launcher/baby carriage.

And continuing on with this random post of everyday happenings, I made myself an iced coffee this morning, saving myself time, money and gas. I don't get iced coffees all that regularly, due to the expense, but I've been craving them like mad lately. Must be the heat.
I went to the library this morning while Caroline stayed and played with her pals, Sarah and Rachel. If there had been a coffee shop in close proximity to the library, I would have stopped and purchased one to calm my craving. However, my options were limited; there is a bbq restaurant and a senior citizens center next to the library. Neither sell iced coffee.
I mulled over the idea of driving to the nearest Starbucks, but opted to go home and make some at home. I had baking to do and didn't want to waste any extra time.

I have a love hate relationship with coffee; I'll love it for awhile and then suddenly find myself repulsed by it. Therefore, I do not own a coffee maker. I do, however, have a package of instant coffee that I purchased to use in a recipe. Even though instant coffee isn't the greatest stuff on earth, I'm happy to report that iced instant coffee is indeed quite tasty.

I sat down to write this post before 11 and it's now 12:12. Needless to say I've been interrupted by phone calls, cookie bars in need of attention, dishes in the sink and smoothie craving kids.
But, all is well. Caroline will be having lunch with her partners in crime this afternoon, leaving me ample time to finish the laundry and wash the floors.

22 days!

Monday, August 17, 2009

But I Don't Want To Sharpen 72 Pencils

Things sure have changed since I was a soon-to-be second grader at JC Crumpton Elementary school. I'm not sure that we even had a school supply list. If we did, it probably listed two things: lunch box and back pack. And if you bought lunches in the cafeteria, you could scratch the lunch box from the list.
Caroline's list isn't unreasonable, but it is a tad bit lengthy and oh so specific. When it comes to food and household products, I'm not brand loyal. However, when it comes to crayons and markers, I am Crayola's number one fan. So for that I can understand the specificity of the school supply list. Elmer's glue and glue sticks, name brand tissues, Crayola crayons, markers and colored pencils, Fiskars scissors, Ticonderoga #2 pencils, sharpened.

Three boxes of Ticonderoga #2 pencils sharpened.


I don't want to sharpen three boxes of pencils.

Last year, the list also specified sharpened pencils, but did not list a specific brand. No problem, they actually sell pre-sharpened pencils. Those evil geniuses at the pencil factory.
While at Wal Mart today, home of the overly crowded school supply section, with a zillion navy blue folders with prongs, but NONE WITH POCKETS, they had sharpened pencils. However, the sharpened pencils were some lame brand that was not Ticonderoga. They had Ticonderoga pencils, 24 to a package, all with blunt bottoms. Now here's the deal: 24 times 3 is 72. Does each child really need 72 pre sharpened pencils? If all 20+ kids bring in 72 pencils, that's a whole lot of pencils.
I wish they would have specified a number instead of the generic "3 boxes."

I didn't buy three boxes of Ticonderoga pencils, which incidentally are protected by Microban. I'm all for germ killing, but antibacterial pencils? That might even be a little to crazy for me. Well, not really, because in all honesty, when I saw the Microban label, my heart skipped a beat.

Hoping to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome from sharpening 72 pencils, we're going to check Staples before making a final purchase. Besides, those three boxes of pencils would have cost nearly $12.


For pencils.

I'm not one to make waves, so I'll do as the list commands, but I'm not giving in without an honorable fight. I'll search high and low for pre-sharpened Ticonderoga #2
pencils, before caving and consequently subjecting myself to a wrist injury from pencil sharpener over use.

The list is *almost* complete. We have pencils, a green ball point pen and a large container of antibacterial wipes to purchase. I'll also buy the industrial size bottle of hand sanitizer to present to the teacher. It's my own personal tradition.

Heck, with copious amounts of hand sanitizer and pencils with Microban protection at Caroline's disposal, perhaps she'll remain illness free this year. As much as I adore sending Caroline to school, not a day goes by without me wondering what type of germs she's picking up in her sess pool classroom. Thankfully she's been made fully aware, by her ever vigilant mother, the merits of proper hand washing and keeping pencils out of her mouth. I wish I had been so informed at her age. I clearly remember chewing on pencils, biting my filthy germy fingernails and placing my sandwich on the dirty cafeteria tables. Ew, just thinking about all of the gross things I did as a kid makes me feel a little squirmy on the inside.

Suddenly I find myself motivated to have a sit down with Caroline in order to reiterate the importance of hand washing and keeping your mouth far away from foreign (and dirty) objects. Especially, communal objects in which classmates, with unknown hygiene practices, also have access to.

It's a list of rules that warrants repeating.

And hands-on practical exercises.

And a Power Point presentation.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lazy Saturday

Aren't they all?

Well, mine are.

I've always been a hermit, but the busy Saturday traffic around here really brings out the homebody in me. I go to the gym on Saturday mornings when many are still asleep, but look forward to staying far away from the always-in-a-hurry crowd out shopping on weekend afternoons. I realize I sound like I'm 65, but I just really, really dislike traffic and crowds.

Caroline and I need to finish up her school shopping, but we'll go sometime during the week when the store aisles aren't filled to the brim.
I think we only need, a navy blue folder (I can find royal blue and baby blue, but no navy), a pink eraser and a green ball point pen. Oh, and a back pack, lunch box and new shoes.

Only 25 days to go!

I was talking to a lady at the gym this morning who has three kids enrolled in Catholic school. They start on August 31st. Do you think it's too late to convert to Catholicism?

So, not only is today a lazy day, but it's kinda quiet, as well.

I got home from the gym at 10:20 and still haven't seen Caroline. I spoke with her on the phone, and I know she's alive, but she hasn't been home. She's down the street eating lunch with her pals, Sarah and Rachel and no doubt plotting evil. Craig left for a quick run as soon as I drove up and now he's at the movies.

So it's just me. In my favorite reading/nap chair, with my laptop and the glorious service that is wireless internet.
I did some housekeepery things, ate some lunch and now plan to relax in my cozy chair.

I'm sure Caroline will eventually come barreling in, not using her inside voice, asking if we can go to the pool, but until then, I'll enjoy the silence.

One of the newer girls in the neighborhood came by with her cute little black and white puppy, named Oreo. I bent down to greet Oreo and Kayleigh said, be careful, he's a pit bull and he bites.
Great. Just what we need around here.

Kayleigh came by wondering if Caroline and the girls wanted to have a hot dog/chip/kool aid stand. Evidently they've all been scheming to do this, with the hopes of charging $3 a pop, since there are three items. Such lofty ideas from these budding capitalists.
Since spring time the girls have been planning a big lemonade stand to be held in front of the pool. They secured permission from the HOA board, since two of the girl's mom is on the board. The lemonade stand has been postponed due to inclement weather, illness, vacation and various kids being grounded. Last week I crushed their hopes and plans because it was 95 degrees and I didn't want to sit in front of the pool, baking and then melting into a puddle of sweat, while they tried to sell lemonade. Also, I felt very uncomfortable with the idea and not solely because the idea of selling things makes me nauseous. I know they received special permission, but in reality people are not supposed to solicit in front of the pool house. I didn't want to be in a position where I'd have to explain ourselves, when in actuality, we're not even members of the HOA. We're renters; our landlords pay the fees so we can use the pool.
My timidity over ruled the demands of the girls with dollar signs in their eyes. I really had a bad feeling about it, so I put the kibosh on the plans. They were crushed, but moved the stand to our street and were just fine.

I asked Craig if he thought I was being unreasonable. He said yes.
He was probably right; atleast partially. But, I can't imagine him supervising the event, so who knows.
I carried around a lot of guilt that day.
Heh, what else is new.

As of now, the street remains quiet, so I'm not sure if the hot dog stand idea will be a winner today. I hope not; we don't have any hot dogs, chips or kool aid.

Speaking of hot dogs, Caroline ate her first one about a month ago. Craig and I aren't particularly fond of them. We'll eat them, but don't crave them. I can't think of the last time I bought hot dogs; five years, maybe. Caroline, a definite picky eater, has always seemed slightly afraid of them. Unless the meat she is ingesting is chicken, and ONLY in the form of a nugget, she's not interested. She went to a neighborhood party and tried a hot dog. And liked it.
Or so she says. She hasn't asked for another one, but she ate it and didn't die. I guess that's a victory of sorts. Not that I really want her to include hot dogs as one of her favorite foods.

It's just nice to see her have some variety in her diet. You know, I can't complain too much because, sure she won't eat a hamburger, but she'll eat cauliflower and broccoli without complaint. And then ask for seconds.

OK, I think it's time to close the computer, open my book and promptly fall asleep.

I really do love my napping chair.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blisters, Cookies and Blogging From A New Location

Usually I blog from our desktop in the basement/cave. It's a dark room, with green walls and one window looking out to a shaded patio. Hardly light and airy. Honestly, the room suits me just fine because I don't like to have a lot of natural light. I'm part vampire, you know. Also, copious amounts of natural light does nothing to hide dust. I'm a proficient duster; I love the smell of furniture polish (especially the new Swiffer kind) and therefore dust often. However, this house's dust collection to my dust removal ratio is overwhelming. Therefore, the darker the room, the less evident the dust is. I don't understand how dust collects so quickly. Especially since it's summer time and with the air conditioning working it's tail off to cool this place off, the windows haven't been opened in quite a while. Where does the dust come from? When we lived in Hawaii, we lived on the second floor of a three story apartment complex. We did not have air conditioning, but due to the trade winds blowing, we stayed pretty cool. Well, I did. Craig, who often worked nights, found sleeping in a stuffy, un airconditioned apartment during the day to be less than ideal. With the windows open almost exclusively, we had a LOT of dust. Dark reddish dust. Much like the red clay that stained EVERYTHING. Cars, shoes, PT clothing. Yuck. I hated that dirt. LOVED Hawaii, but despised that dirt.

Have I typed enough about dust yet? Somehow I've lost my train of thought.

Oh yes, a new location.... We've had a laptop for over a year now. In fact we bought it with the last round of stimulus money President Bush sent out last year. We felt it was our patriotic duty to stimulate the economy. And stimulate we did. Somehow I don't think our measly purchase was all that helpful. Go figure.

So anyway, we bought the laptop before we moved here to Virginia and anticipated installing wireless internet in our new place ASAP. I'm not sure what ASAP means in your house, but in ours, ASAP means 13 months.
So 13 months later, we have wireless internet and here I sit in the kitchen, typing away.
Too bad a wild herd of children, obviously not minding their manners, keep pummeling their way through the kitchen. Maybe I should go downstairs. Nah, if I do, they'll decided it's time to play the wii and then proceed to make lots of noise. I've pretty much resolved myself to the fact that I won't get any decent peace and quiet until September 8th. 26 days!!!

The wild herd of children, six of them today, are especially rambunctious this afternoon. They convinced me to bake cookies. Baking I like; baking with six pairs of hands trying to "help" I don't like so much. I had a pre-packaged, preservative laden cookie mix in the pantry that I bought on super sale with triple coupons sometime last year. Sometimes sanity preservation trumps nutritive quality. They wanted to do the roll out kind so they could sprinkle the cookies (and the floor and cabinets) with colored sugar and sprinkles, but thankfully, all I had was chocolate chip. So while the punks practiced their wrestling skills in the living room, I made the dough. I *should* have had them help, but really, a cookie mix where you add some butter and an egg really is a one person job. Well, a anal retentive, orderly minded person's job. If I didn't care about having little people standing behind me, peering over my shoulder, I would have asked for helpers. But you all know me better than that.

So, I baked the cookies; summoned the rugrats when the cookies were cool enough to eat; and watched them devour the cookies like they'd never eaten before. But, they had just eaten lunch. There are Doritos crumbs all over the floor to prove my point. Two of the girls brought their lunches from home (with the aforementioned Doritos) and I made Caroline her lunch. At the time there were only four girls over. The fourth girl asked if she could eat lunch here too. "Sure, I said, just go get your lunch." "No, I meant, can you fix me lunch?" She said. "I want the same as Caroline." I wouldn't have minded so much if I hadn't already fixed Caroline's lunch, put away all the ingredients and did the dishes. I find that I'm more likely to say yes to things if I'm asked at an appropriate time. I still said yes, and made lunch for the girl. She ended up wasting half of it, but then ate three cookies.

Oh man, they just ran through the house screaming. I hate screaming. Girly screams are the worst.

Maybe I should go hide in the cave.

I have so much to say today.

Let's see, what's next.

Oh yes, blisters. I think it may be time for new running shoes. I'm getting blisters on the balls of my feet, which is a good indicator. Craig got a coupon in the mail, which I'll be putting to good use shortly. He single handedly keeps Road Runner Sports in business so they're generous with the VIP coupons. I hate buying new running shoes. They're expensive, make my feet look huge and it's hard to find the perfect pair. I'd rather buy flip flops.

Or ice cream.

I miss ice cream. I've been good about not buying any after I crafted my self imposed ban on ice cream. However, a popsicle, while tasty, is not a satisfying dessert alternative.

When I was a kid and had better self control, I remember eating my dessert, usually a popsicle or push up, at exactly 7:37 pm every night. I have a very vague memory of watching "Too Close For Comfort" at 7:30 and rushing to the freezer at exactly 7:37 for a frozen treat. I was am a genuine head case.
Every now and then, I think about reinstating that odd ritual. Perhaps it could keep me from shoveling a handful of chocolate chips in my mouth or eating way too many graham crackers; grazing throughout the night.
I had impeccable self control as a child. What happened?

I could really use some of it right now.

Ok, time to shepherd the wild punks to the pool. I think they need to swim off the cookies they just ate. Especially since they've been laying around in cool house like cows under the shade tree.

Off we go....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yep, They Really Do Hate Me

The words "mom, can we build a tent" induce a myriad of emotions within me; none of which are all that pleasant. I half heartedly say yes, knowing that I don't have a legitimate reason to say no, but on the inside I feel like running, hiding, screaming and throwing up. Sure, that seems a bit dramatic, but, well.... you'll just have to see for yourself. Once tent building commenced, I fled the basement area, retreating to the kitchen for some tent-free solitude.

It had been three hours since I found myself leaving the basement in search of a quieter, less messy space in the house, forgetting the web of blankets and chairs being constructed downstairs. The kids went outside a few minutes ago, allowing me the perfect opportunity to come downstairs and sit at the computer.

Guess what I stumbled upon?

Weren't they so kind to leave me with this......

Oh, and I miss counted. Yesterday I thought they had 27 days until school starts, turns out it was 28.

So today I can correctly say, "27 days!"


That seems like such a large number.


I'm feeling quite productive this morning. On a normal weekday morning I wake up, make the bed, make breakfast for Caroline and me and then go to the gym. By the time I've worked out, showered and come home, it's already lunch time. Half the day gone, with not much accomplished on the home front. And then by the time lunch has been eaten, I'm hardly in the mood to do my housewifery upkeep. Instead, the computer calls my name, or the demands of a kid wanting to go to the pool derail my good intentions.

This morning I woke up early, put the hunk of pork for tonight's pot luck in the crock pot, ran 4+ miles, pulled weeds, cleaned the garden dirt from beneath my nails, ate breakfast, showered, vacuumed my car and most of the house, cut up the baked goods I made yesterday and did laundry. I have a full day of cooking, and the accompanying dishes, ahead of me, so it's nice to have so many things already crossed off my imaginary to-do list.

Days like this, where I'm pleased with my productivity and recharged by the satisfaction of not being a schlub, I start to feel bad for spending so much time at the gym. But, then again, I really crave that time. I need to get out of the house. I want to chat with people who are over the age of 10. Otherwise, there would be an even greater chance of me actually losing my marbles.

I don't want to lose my marbles. I don't want marbles (literal or figurative) all over my floor. Because even though I will have lost said marbles, I'll still have to clean them up. Marbles are kind of sneaky and one may roll away, leaving the possibility that I might step on one in the middle of the night. Have you ever stepped on a marble? Or a Lego? I have a tendency to allow obscene words to escape from my lips when I've stepped on one. Hey, wasn't there a study recently that said if you curse when you're hurt, the pain will subside more quickly? I'll have to keep that in mind. So long as there aren't any children present. That's one thing you never want to explain to another kid's parent.

It's quite clear that this productive morning has done nothing to squash my ability to babble about ridiculous things no one cares about..

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Broke Out My Zester

A few months ago I purchased a microplane zester. I very rarely need to zest a piece of citrus fruit, but on the two occasions in my life where I have, a microplane would have come in very handy. Otherwise, you have to deal with a box grater. If you're anything like me, you're more likely to grate your knuckles than the fragrant zest of a lemon. And let's not even discuss the task of retrieving the zest and cleaning the box grater afterwards. Kinda makes you not want to make lemon bars.

Actually, it was baking a batch of lemon bars that prompted me to buy the microplane. So, with great anticipation and a laundry list of citrusy creations on the to-bake list, I bought the zester. Which, despite my great intentions, has been collecting dust in my kitchen gadget drawer ever since.

However, I whipped it out today and very quickly and effortlessly zested two lemons for the lemon chess bars I'm making for Craig's workmates tomorrow. Let me tell you, the microplane is a miracle worker. My knuckles are band-aid free, which, is a true testament to the microplane's greatness.

One of Craig's civilian work mates is moving on up to a different job. In true government fashion, a pot luck will be held in Bobby's honor. A pot luck, provided by yours truly. I've never met the guy, but I'm pretty sure he's the one who kindly offered me one of his kidneys should I ever find myself in need of one. I think he also said that one of my baked goodies nearly made him fall out of his chair. I like him. Too bad he's leaving Craig's office.
He chose pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, baked beans and some sort of dessert. Since I have a stack of dessert recipes as tall as me, I chose one that I've made before (cream cheese swirled brownies with heath bar) and one that would enable me to christen my microplane (lemon chess bars).

There's nothing like baking to put me in a good mood. Which, I'm quite thankful for, because I've sort of been in a foul mood the past couple of days. I think it has something to do with my desire for the school year to begin. Not that I don't love my kid, or anything, but she's been sort of cranky herself the past few days. Yesterday, tired of Caroline's friends (who are sisters) bicker with each other and really annoyed that Caroline has been crying over trivial matters like she is three again, I found myself, frustrated, hopeless and defeated, in front of the calendar. The countdown has begun. 27 days!!!

However, I did get a greatly appreciated break today. For the past three days, we've entertained Caroline and her friends in our house almost exclusively. It's been hot, really hot, so the kids have stayed inside. We also made a trip to the pool each day where I proceeded to sweat to death while the kids swam and then devoured the snacks I brought during break time. Today, it was another mom's turn to tame the wild rugrats. It's nearly 5pm and the kids are just coming to our house to play. Yep, from 9am until 4:45pm, Caroline has been otherwise occupied at someone else's house.

That's what I call a good summer day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Went To DC This Morning And All I Got Was A SpongeBob Sticker

The rooster crowed awfully early this morning.

After two bouts of pneumonia in a nine month period, Caroline saw the Pediatric Pulmonologist a few weeks ago, for purely precautionary reasons. Since she is an otherwise very healthy child, the doctor didn't really have an explanation, but she did recommend that we have one simple, non invasive test done. A test that she was quite sure would be negative, but in the spirit of being thorough (and avoiding malpractice concerns), she suggested the Sweat Test anyway. The Sweat Test checks the level of sodium in a persons sweat; people with high levels of sodium have Cystic Fibrosis. As the doctor was explaining this to me, and reassuring me that she's 99.999999% sure Caroline would test negative, I kept telling myself to not go home and Google Cystic Fibrosis. After I was done telling myself that, the doctor said the same thing. She must have seen the wheels turning inside my brain.

And while I know that Caroline is more than likely fine, the .000001% possibility that the test could come back positive scares the bejeeezus out of me. However, she's almost NEVER sick. She's never had respiratory issues and even when she had pneumonia, she was roller skating in the basement. Hardly the portrait of a sickly child.

Today was Sweat Test day. On the bright side, the test is quick and non invasive. They only do them at 8am, which is fine, we don't mind an early start to the day. However, the test is only done at Walter Reed, deep in the heart of Washington DC. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but Walter Reed gives me the creeps. Big time. It's old and just not a happy place.
The Dunkin Donuts inside makes up for a little of the creepiness, but I'd really rather not have to go there. I think it's the apartments across the street with bars on all the windows and doors that exacerbates the creepy vibe.
I'm a plain jane, white bread, happy to be in the 'burbs kind of girl.

Weekday morning traffic in the DC area is nightmarish at best. We allowed ourselves an hour and fifteen minutes to drive the 22 miles and needed every single one of them. After getting a little disoriented, we found our way there, with a minute to spare. Thankfully Craig came along to navigate us through the crazy congested one way streets, copious amounts of traffic lights and pedestrians too busy texting to pay attention to the road. Had I been the driver, we might still be looking for the hospital, three hours later. While I'm a competent co-pilot, I lose my directional sense when in the driver's seat.

Perhaps I should ask Santa for a GPS next Christmas.

The test is complete; Caroline, as always, was a trooper.

Craig, the marathoner in training, is out running now. He left as soon as we got home from the hospital. It's hotter than Hades outside, but he's ever committed to the training schedule. And Me? Nah, I'll go to the gym tomorrow. Besides, my thighs are still smoldering from yesterday's Body Pump class. I should NEVER go a week without any physical activity; the first day back is just too painful.

Not sure what's on tap for the rest of the day. I'd like to have a nap, but I'm sure my house will be brimming with chatty kids, eager to hide from the scorching sun this afternoon. Yesterday the kids created a humongous tent in the basement, scattered Legos all over the living room and made Webkinz beds in the kitchen/dining room. I literally had no where to sit, so I was forced upstairs to hide out in my bedroom.

School starts in less than a month.

Hooray, hallelujah and amen to that!

EDITED TO ADD: The pulmonologist just called to say that her test was, as expected, negative.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

When She Cries Over A Popsicle, You Know She's Tired

It's going to be an early to bed night, I do declare.
Caroline, my even keeled, non dramatic, go with the flow child, cried over a popsicle this evening. She wanted a swirly popsicle, like Rachel, but she opened a plain purple one instead.

She HATES purple popsicles.

Or so she claims.
If it's true, this is news to me.

I looked at my pitiful child with her puffy eyes, snotty nose and red, tear stained face and said very matter of factly,
"You're crying over a popsicle!?!"

That was all I could say.

We haven't dealt with this type of meltdown in a very long time.
I'm glad it's been a long time because I find these whiny outbursts to be utterly ridiculous.
And totally unnecessary.

So, she's going to bed early tonight. Without exception.



I talk big on this blog, but in reality, I have trouble following through. I get side tracked very easily and lose track of time. Caroline, the ever vigilant time keeper, quite conveniently misplaces her keen ability to tell time in the evenings, as well. Sneaky.

But not tonight.

That is, of course, if I can find her.

She's probably out wandering the neighborhood, befriending every dog in sight, with swirly popsicle stains on her face.

And shirt.

And shorts.

And there is probably some in her hair, too.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

So, I Went All the Way to Hershey

and didn't bring home any chocolate to eat.
I find this news quite baffling, as I'm, you know, quite fond of chocolate. Based on previous blog postings, this is clearly a well known and often documented fact. Eh, oh well. I don't need more junk anyway. And besides, I'm going grocery shopping tomorrow to restock my barren refrigerator and cupboards and I'm sure a bag of Hershey miniatures will find their way into my cart; they're sneaky like that.

As I sit here eating an after dinner popsicle, which is most definitely NOT chocolate, I'll share some pictures with you. In general, I don't take many pictures. I prefer to hold my precious family memories in the vast and dark abyss, otherwise known as my memory. Or in other words, by the time I get my camera out, if I remembered to bring it in the first place, the moment has more than likely passed. Therefore, the pictures I do take are generally not very good. I'll weed through those not destined for the garbage can and try to find any that look atleast mildly acceptable.

DISCLAIMER: I realize that my child has a dirty face in nearly every picture. I am not proud of this fact, but some battles are pointless. Before motherhood, I was determined to have an impeccably clean child at all times to show my high parental aptitude. Naive much?
You see, I try. I try so very hard to keep her face clean. Despite my dedication to the task, I've proven to be rather unsuccessful at achieving this goal. I fervently pray that when she goes away to college she'll have the forethought to check her mouth in the mirror to see if there is any spaghetti sauce on her chin. Surely a teenage girl won't walk around with a milk mustache. Right?

Anyway, ignore the perpetual schmutz on Caroline's face, and everything will be quite alright.

First up, Caroline checking out the king size bed in the room with the jacuzzi tub we hijacked from my mom.
Thanks mom, you're the best!

Caroline pointing to her favorite color (the one she could reach, anyway) at the Crayola Factory.

Me and my 60 lb, 51 inch tall baby.

Next up: Chocolate World. Cue the Hallelujah chorus.

Caroline looking stylish in her 3-D glasses, waiting for a movie to begin.

Next up: Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Craig took Caroline to play miniature golf while my dad brought, my mom, aunt and me on a long and scenic drive through Amish country. We stopped in a quaint little town called none other than.....

Oh, those crazy Amish folks.
While shopping, I came across a tshirt that said "Virginia may be for lovers, but Pennsylvania has Intercourse." Ha.

We ended up at a little place called Kitchen Kettle Village. We sampled homemade jams, jellies, salsas and fudge made by the locals. And then we ate lunch at a smorgasbord (!). My mom picked the place and although my aunt and I made fun of her mercilessly for choosing a smorgasbord, it was altogether a tasty lunch. But still, the word smorgasbord lends itself to a little teasing.

The Pennsylvania countryside is very pretty. Lush and green. And FULL OF CORN. I've never been to Iowa or Nebraska, which are well known, heavy corn producers, but I'm fairly certain that Pennsylvania is a competitive corn producer as well. Seriously, I've never seen so many stalks of corn in my life. Maybe it's used to feed the cows that produce the milk that is in Hershey's milk chocolate?

We also toured the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in a lovely town called Lititz.

Tall Caroline and my itty bitty mom.

Craig and I took Caroline to Hershey Park on Thursday.

They offered a great military discount on tickets, which was a huge blessing. The lines were LONG and Caroline is impatient, so we only went on a few rides. However, Hershey Park also has a water park, which proved to be quite the highlight.

Craig and Caroline on the gondola ride. Not wanting to squish, I got a car to myself.

Here I am. Sweaty face and all.

The gondolas go through a few of the loopy steel roller coaster rides. That is the closest I'll ever get to one of those crazy upside down, shake up your insides, lose your $15 lunch, rides.

There are people in those pink harnesses hanging from that hunk of metal!

The Boardwalk at Hershey Park

Bug girl Caroline

after getting pummeled by

a gazillion gallons of water

The final stop on our trip was to Philadelphia, PA.

A slightly askew picture of Independence Hall.

A fuzzy and hastily snapped picture of Craig and Caroline standing by the banister inside Independence Hall. The park ranger giving the tour asked everyone to touch it because it's the same banister that Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson once touched. Of course, the germ freak in me said, "yeah, they may have touched it, but so have millions of other people, too." Not one to turn my nose up at historical banisters, I touched it. And used some hand sanitizer shortly after. Ahem.

The Liberty Bell

And, of course, no trip to visit our nation's historic symbols is complete without a trip to the gift shop.

Do you think Ben Franklin walked around with ketchup on his cheeks?

We couldn't resist having our pictures taken with Craig's boss.

Yeah, even me. The big guy and I don't see eye to eye on many any issues, but he's the President. And he does have a lovely smile. Oh, and more importantly, he signs Craig's paycheck!

And this concludes the pictorial review of our vacation.

Oh, except, no vacation recap would be complete without showing the newest additions to Caroline's Webkinz collection. We added Tommy, the Boston Terrior, in Williamsburg, but our time in Pennsylvania proved to be doubly fruitful.

Meet Cocoa, named in honor of Milton Hershey's pet elephant, Cocoa.

And Chip, as in Chocolate Chip. He's a guinea pig with the cutest, puffiest cheeks EVER.

And their little friend, Brownie.

Whew, this is one hugely gigantic post.