Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pictures of A Random Nature: Part Three

Usually I complain about having nothing to do; this week, as I learn to be the mom of three for a few hours after school, I have more to do than I could ever wish for. I suppose having two charges after school isn't much different than inviting the neighborhood into my home every day BUT if there is ever a problem or emergency, I can send friends home. I can't send Jason and Jonathan home.

Since I've been so busy, I haven't had much time to devote to the blog.
Instead of nothing, I thought I'd post a few pictures I took this weekend.

It all started with a suggestion from one of Caroline's soccer coaches.; she said that since Caroline is a blossoming soccer goalie, we should purchase some goalie gloves. And that's what we did. However, positioned very near the soccer gear were shiny new skateboards. The skateboards must have been calling Caroline's name, as shiny new merchandise is apt to do, because as I posted earlier in the week, Caroline bought one. She used her own money, a whole $9, because I didn't want anything to do with that guaranteed-emergency-room-visit-on-wheels.

She started out tamely enough, navigating the board-of-probable-injury on her belly. Belly boarding I can handle; what happened next still leaves me a little shaky. Like those drawings of the evolution of man, Caroline went from belly to feet in no time at all.

Not long after, she learned her first trick: the flip your upside down board over with your feet and land on top.

I should return the too small knee pads and get her some better fitting ones. At least she's wearing a helmet! Can't call me *totally* negligent.

My burgeoning dare devil doesn't risk life and limb solely on the skateboard. Nope, the whole world is her playground. Or more specifically, the playground at her school is her playground. Um, whatever.

There was climbing. And hanging. And swinging.

There was talk of blisters on her palms,

and "milkshake" practice.

She buffed up with pull ups

And chin ups

and stared off into the distance where kids from the adjacent neighborhood were jumping on their trampoline.

Lots of staring.

A sly wave to get their no avail.

Oh well.

And finally, remember my budding azaleas (or whatever they are?)

They bloomed!

Who is that peeking through the pretty pink blooms?

It's evil watch bunny.

My landlords must have placed him in the bushes, but I promise he doesn't bite. Although, those beady, pupil-less eyes might lead you to think otherwise.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


This week, I'm helping out a neighbor by watching her two boys, ages 9 and 6, after school. She's in a class all week for work and her husband, a physicist (!) is overseas talking science with a bunch of fellow scientists.

Because I'm a pushover good neighbor, I agreed to help her out, despite the fact that her children are over scheduled and have a different activity each day of the week. On the plus side, she's paying me. I haven't made any money in quite some time, so I can't say that I'm not a little excited about earning some extra cash to blow on frivolous things. I like shopping for frivolity.

We keep a pretty tame schedule around here; Caroline plays soccer and that's about it. We have one practice a week, which will change to two per week next fall, and one game a week. Otherwise, our afternoons are spent at home: doing homework, playing, running like a wild savage through my house with her crazy stampede of friends and devouring every last snack in my pantry. Every now and then we throw in a session of swimming lessons, but for the most part, we're pretty laid back in the schedule department. It's easy, for sure. But then I wonder if I'm not doing enough to develop a well rounded kid. Maybe she needs piano lessons? Maybe she should take tennis lessons or join a bowling league? What if she has great potential to become a professional bowler and I didn't let her hone her skills early enough? I don't know. This parenting thing sure is confusing.
My gut tells me that kids just need to play. One activity is enough, right?


Anyway, the boys I'm watching are bizzy. Therefore, this week, I am bizzy.
Take yesterday for instance: after school at 3:20, we walked home from school, stopping so that Jason (age 9) could grab his piano lesson gear and Jonathan's (age 6) tball gear. We quickly ran over to my house, grabbed snacks, hopped in the car and drove Jason to piano lessons, which started at 3:45. Then Caroline, Jonathan and I went back home to get Jonathan changed for tball. Now that was a feat of epic proportions. I forgot how unfocused littler people can be. Or, maybe that was just Jonathan's usual behavior. I don't know? Caroline, thankfully, has always been pretty cooperative.
Once we got Jonathan together in his Mets uniform and removed him from atop Caroline, where he was trying to get her to smell his feet (ugh!), we got back in the car to pick up Jason.

Next on the list was pre-game fuel. Fuel in the form of Boardwalk Burgers and Fries.
It was close by and had something for everyone, so we went with it. Nutritive value be damned. The kids ate their chicken fingers, burgers and fries and I drank a very large diet Coke and stole more than my fair share of french fries. Man, were they good fries. Seriously addicting.

Next up: tball game. Oh, and also, a drive of craziness through after work traffic that was peppered with some unsavory ridiculous kid conversation. On the drive, Jonathan kept putting up his middle finger, just to get a reaction out of the older kids. I told him we weren't allowed to say bad words, with our mouths or with our hands, in my car. The conversation was pretty varied and somewhat inappropriate, thanks to the wise ways of a certain 9 year old. He's almost 10 and in the fourth grade...and a little too eager to share anything on his mind, despite the immaturity of his listening crowd. Sigh!

What is with kids these days? They're innocent for such a short amount of time and there I was, driving the mom/neighbor taxi of doom, listening to them all say how they know all the bad words and what they mean. I guess I probably knew such things when I was their age (since my mom curses like a sailor and all--ha! just kidding!) but when you're the mom, it just seems sad. Although, in all honesty, I'm sure Caroline has heard many bad words (not from ME...I only curse in private!) from other hoodlum neighborhood rats, but I'm not sure she really understands ALL of their meanings. I know my kid isn't an angel all the time, but it really burns me when other kids corrupt MY BABY.

What have I gotten myself into?

This parenting thing sure is mind boggling.

Thankfully, I needed Jason's help with directions to the ball field, so I as able to divert any conversation that was heading in the wrong direction. Whew!

The boys mom met us at the game to relieve me of my duties, but we stayed to watch all the little people play their game. Have you ever watched 5-7 year olds play tball? It's so cute!
One of the little girls, in her purple batting helmet and purple glove, was much more interested in catching caterpillars than catching balls. I wish they stayed that little and innocent forever; especially after that car ride of inappropriateness.

Caroline was having a ball playing with some older kids at the ball park, so we stayed much later than I had anticipated. We didn't get home until after 7.

If anything, this week makes me feel better about having an only child. Usually I second guess the decisions I've made regarding family size, but this week, I can say with absolute authority that onlies are awesome.


Monday, April 26, 2010

My Brain Is Still AWOL

Exhibit A:

What, you mean you don't keep your glass cook top cleaner in the refrigerator next to the eggs and ketchup? Neither do I.

Um, usually.

Exhibit B:

I let Caroline get a skateboard! I must have been under the influence of some powerful stuff, because against my better judgement, she's now the proud owner of a skateboard.

Hello emergency room!

I actually made Caroline buy it with her own money, because I couldn't bring myself to do it. However, I did spring for the knee/elbow pads, but they're too small.

I'll post some more pictures later, but the school bell is about to ring and I'm still sitting here with my laptop.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Can't You See My Hazard Lights Are On, You Moron?

Like I mentioned earlier in the week, I'm quickly earning my grease monkey wings. I can't say that I'm thrilled about it, mostly because it has involved several trips to the Tire and Lube center at Wal Mart, perpetually dirty hands, a few dropped bolts followed by a few more curse words and a couple of scraped knuckles from trying to remove a heavy battery out of the car. No offense to the Tire and Lube employees, as they were really very nice and accommodating, but even *I* have more interesting things to do than stand around waiting for my battery to recharge.

Anyway, after Wednesday's big mistake of leaving my keys in the car and the resulting second dead battery of the week, I scored myself a new, shiny, well charged battery. Problem solved!!

Ah, but nothing is ever that easy. Right?

Not for me, anyway.

It's clearly documented, given the name of my blog and all, that I have some neurotic tendencies. Along with the neuroticism comes a laundry list of fears. Some are far fetched, irrational and down right ridiculous, but some are relatively common.

One of my greatest fears (besides having a snake drop on to my head from a tree or peek it's head up through the bathtub drain) is to get stranded with a malfunctioning car in the middle of the road.

Would you care to wager a guess as to what happened to me yesterday?

I'll give you a hint: it didn't involve a snake.

Nope, no snakes. But I did get stuck with a dead car in the turn lane of a relatively busy intersection. As much as I fear car trouble, I'd still rather be stranded with a dead car than encounter a snake in any manner.

I drove Craig's car to the gym because I wanted to make sure it got some use, with its brand new battery and all. Our trip there was uneventful..and quiet, since I still don't have the radio code to reactivate the stereo system. Things seemed to be going well on the drive home, too. Until I came to a stop at an intersection when the battery light came on and the car died. DEAD. DEAD. DEAD.

In the turn lane.

While I was in my sweaty gym clothes.

Of all the days to not shower at the gym, I chose the day my car died in the intersection to shower at home.


Sweaty. Stinky. Thirsty. Hungry.
And not going anywhere.

Sitting in the turn lane, hazard lights blinking, wondering why people kept stopping right behind me, not noticing my arms sticking out the window waving them around when clearly I WASN'T ABLE TO MOVE. If I see a car that isn't moving and has it's hazard lights on, I go around. I don't stop right behind them and get mad that they're not moving. Some people are really clueless.

Thankfully roadside assistance and cell phones make these inconvenient situations easier. I immediately called our insurance company for roadside assistance and got the ball rolling for a tow truck. I waited for a bit and then called my neighbor to see if she could pick me up once the tow truck arrived and towed our stupid, piece of junk car to the service center.
She agreed and told me that I should call the police (non emergency number) because something similar happened to her and she was told that it's wise to call them so that they can make sure an idiot driver, who might not be paying attention, won't ram into you.

Because I always do as I'm told, I called; a police man arrived a short while later.

A few people hollered out their windows to see if I need help, which was thoughtful. One particularly nice Guido-like guy, with a thick gold chain around his neck said "yo, do you need help?" That was nice. I declined, though. Knowing that help was on the way. Besides, who wouldn't want to sit in her dead car in the turn lane stinky, sweaty, hungry and thirsty?

After like 40 minutes, the tow truck guy called. On a whim, I tried to start the car and low and behold the darn thing started. Made me look like a real winner, huh? Dumb girl, panicking over nothing.

Still puzzled by the car's lack of cooperation this week, I spoke a little more with the tow truck guy, who said he had similar problems this very week. He suggested I drive the car to the service center and to call if I broke down again.

And that's what I did.

I put on my brave face and drove through lunch time traffic on a very busy road to the service center praying the whole time that the car wouldn't conk out on me. By the grace of God, I arrived without incident.

The service center people were nice and accommodating. I gave them the run down of all the problems I've had recently and promised that when I returned to pick up the car, I'd be showered and my sweaty hair wouldn't be plastered to my sweaty forehead.

My lovely neighbor picked me up and we had a nice chat on the way home. She has an 11 year old daughter, who is in the midst of all that undesirable tween angst. I can't say that our conversation made me feel hopeful for the future, but it was nice to chat without the kids disrupting us every three seconds.

In the end, I'm glad I met face to face with my big car-conking out fear. Despite the inconvenience of it all, I guess it turned out okay.

I just really wish that I had showered at the gym.

Am I really that shallow?

Yep, I think I am.

In all actuality, I thought the hard part would be sitting in an undriveable car in the middle of the turn lane, but as it turns out, I think paying the car repair bill will be the most painful.

$941 + tax.

I told the service guy that we paid $2600 in repairs and new tires back in September, so $941 + tax sounds like a real bargain.

Sure the bill might be high, BUT, on the bright side, they'll be able to retrieve the car stereo code while they're working on the car, so we can listen to the radio again.

I'm not entirely sure if the pleasure of listening to the radio is quite worth $941 +tax, but I'm doing my best to find the bright spot in the pile of crud I've had to wade through this week.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pardon Me, But Have You Seen My Brain?


It's lost.

My brain is GONE. Missing. Vacant. Absent without leave.

I misplaced it sometime last week and have yet to recover it. I assure you it's not inside that big empty cavity attached to my neck, for if it were, I wouldn't be in the predicament I've currently found myself in.

If you happen to stumble upon my missing brain, please brush off any debris it may have collected and send it back to me. If you're inclined, feel free to rewire any of the kinks it know the ones that make me, um, special. If you can't fix my quirks, that's okay. At this point I'm happy to have anything to fill that empty space between my ears. Being neurotic is challenging enough WITH a brain; being the Neurotic Housewife without my brain is presenting me with a whole pile of different problems.

I'm not kidding when I tell you I'm losing it.

Maybe I need some ginko biloba? Mental clarity would be welcomed with opened arms, but it's hard to achieve such clarity when your brain has left the building.

Go ahead, roll your eyes. Call me a drama queen. I can take it.

In fact, if I didn't know any better, I'd label myself a drama queen. BUT, I know better.

It started innocently enough, as most stories are apt to do. It was Sunday afternoon and Caroline went over to her friend's house to play. A little while after she left, Caroline called and said "hey mom, we're having a car wash, does daddy's car need to be washed?" To which I replied, "yes, it is covered in pollen." With plans for me to bring the car to Alayna's house, we said our good byes and I grabbed my keys.

I got in the pollen covered car and put the key in the ignition. And what did I hear? Well, I heard the very same click-click-click-click I heard back in February when my neighborly good deed got me nothing but a dead battery. Argh!

Just six weeks earlier I gained grease monkey status and changed the battery. Six weeks is way too soon for a new battery to die. Right? I was clearly confuzzled by this situation because I didn't leave any lights on the last time I drove the car.

Understandably annoyed, I sighed loudly, muttered a few things under my breath and kicked the front tire. Then I took off on foot to alert Caroline that her car washing services wouldn't be needed that afternoon.

On Monday I went to Wal Mart and inquired about their battery guarantee policy. They said to bring the battery back and they'd test it out. So, that's what we did. After school, Caroline and I brought the battery back. They tested it and the results concluded that the battery needed to be charged. Duh!
The kind folks at Wal Mart charged the battery while we ate ice cream cones at McDonald's and shopped for things we didn't need. And then we were on our way, charged battery, plastic cups, tank tops and a toy for Caroline in hand. It's nearly impossible to get out of there without some sort of purchase.

You know, I'm getting pretty good at disconnecting and reconnecting batteries. In fact, I think at this point I'd be able to do it blindfolded.

Thankfully, after a good charging, the battery worked like a charm.

But still, the question remained...why did the battery die in the first place?

Thanks to my dad's wise car guy advice, he suggested I take the car to Pep Boys to have them check the voltage on the alternator to insure that the alternator wasn't draining the battery. I did that yesterday. I even skipped the gym and coffee with gym friends afterwards because the whole situation was eating at me. No surprise, eh? According to the Pep Boys dudes, the alternator checked out just fine. Of course they also felt the need to give me an itemized list of all the services they suggest we do to the car. Services to the tune of $509. I said thanks, but no thanks. Most of the things they suggested were done a few months ago, anyway. They were nice guys though and I'm sure their "suggestions" are just part of the job.

Before I left, I picked up some new windshield wiper blades for Craig's car because the rubber part of the driver's side blade was completely detached from the rest of the wiper. I *could* have had the Pep Boys dudes put them on for me, but I opted to do it myself. Because I'm an idiot I like a challenge. I changed the battery, for crying out loud. How much harder could changing wiper blades be?

And those my friends, are words of foreshadow.

Let me tell you, it took me 30 minutes to figure out how to change the first blade. 30 minutes! I promise you that this is not an exaggeration. In fact, it may have taken longer. Once I figured it out, the second blade took me 20 seconds. I think whoever was hired to write the directions in the wiper blade box should be fired and never allowed to work in the technical writing field again. I would have been better off reading Chinese instructions.

It was a victory, for sure. Except for the fact that when I was fiddling with the first blade, the metal blade holder slipped from my hands and put a teeny tiny little crack in the windshield.


After I've told you my story, you're probably confused. Confused as to why I'm claiming to have lost my mind. Because right now, besides the small crack in the windshield, things seem to be going pretty well. You're right, things WERE going well. Going well, that is, until this morning when I couldn't find my car keys.

Wanna guess where they were? Go ahead, take a guess.

Did you guess they were in Craig's car? If you did, you're right on the nose. Not only did I leave my keys in Craig's car, which is parked in an uncovered parking area where anyone could have stolen the car, but I left the keys IN THE IGNITION!


And guess what?


Please excuse me while I pull out my hair.

I wish this was just a joke, but it's not. It's very real. And very frustrating. And you know, it's raining outside and for just today, I'm going to stay in the house. I'm going to bury my head in the sand like a good little ostrich and pretend this didn't happen.

I'll deal with it tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


We're rejoicing in SmithLand today.

The foreign wing of SmithLand (Craig) alerted the domestic office (me!) of some most excellent news. News worthy of shouting from the rooftops. IF our rooftop wasn't so far from the ground, that is.

Craig made the CW3 promotion list!


Excuse the exorbitant amount of exclamation points, please. Normally I maintain impeccable control over the excessive use of exclamation points, but this is most certainly exclamation point worthy news.

The date in which he'll pin on (velcro on, more accurately) his new rank, is still unknown. There are nearly 700 people on the list and they have a year to clear the list; Craig is #99. Hopefully the wait won't be too long.

Oddly enough, Craig's last promotion occurred when he was deployed. Ah, the bright spot amidst the lack of sleep, 14 hour work days, 7 days a week. Kind of makes it all worth while. Right?


Of course, with Craig being so far away, Caroline and I will not be able to witness the big event. Come to think of it, I've only been to one of Craig's many promotion ceremonies. Way back in 2001, I was able to attend his promotion to staff sergeant; that's when baby Caroline was still cooking away in my belly. Wow, that seems like forever ago.

Oh well.

We may not get to see the promotion in person and eat promotion cake, but we'll make the best of it. And by "make the best of it" I mean that I'm already making plans for the pay raise that comes with the promotion.

If you only knew how happy this makes me....

Congratulations, Craig! We're proud of you!!

PS--congratulations to my friend Mandy and her husband, Steve, who also made the list.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pictures of a Random Nature: Part Deux

Ever since we cashed in Caroline's free doughnut valentines here and here, we haven't been back to Krispy Kreme. With nothing pressing (and nothing not pressing, either) on our agenda, we took a trip to the K. Kreme yesterday. Sure it's unhealthy, but despite that little fact, it's good old fashioned fun for all. Caroline enjoys deep fried, glaze coated refined white flour and sugar a doughnut while I enjoy hot, fresh coffee that has been brewed by someone other than me.

Truth be told, doughnuts and coffee, while tasty and all, can get kind of boring. However, accessorizing with a fun hat adds a certain amount of novelty to the whole doughnut experience.

Cream filling!

Yikes, TOO MUCH cream filling. Never thought we'd say those words!

We scraped some of the excess filling out with a wooden coffee stirrer and it was still too much. Caroline didn't even finish the doughnut! For a kid who would shovel sugar in her mouth if I let her, this is way out of the ordinary.

I think we'll stick with sprinkles next time. Lesson learned.

Despite Caroline's unintended sugar overload, the doughnut conveyor belt of fun still managed to catch her attention.

Watching alone is fun, but bonding with strangers in front of a vat of frying oil is even better. The kids stood there for a very long time, checking for doughnut deformities and wondering, aloud, what it would be like to swim through a waterfall of glaze.

And then we went home and ate broccoli.

Actually, first we went on the great peach pie filling hunt of 2010. It was no small feat, but we were victorious in the end. I'm making a peach cobbler coffee cake for "school staff appreciation week" and peach pie filling is, quite obviously, a key ingredient. I guess I could have made my own, but I'm getting up at the crack of dawn Monday morning to bake it, so I'm okay with taking the easy route.

On to the next random subject....
We have some bushes that line one side of our driveway. I *think* they're azalea bushes, but I could be (and probably am) quite wrong. Nevertheless, after the great snow dumpage we experienced in February, I was really fearful that the bushes didn't survive being weighed down by snow for a couple of weeks. Good news, they're about to produce their beautiful pink blooms! Guess they're alive, after all.

You have NO idea how relieved this makes me feel.

Lastly, Craig forwarded a few more pictures of the area surrounding his deployment locale. The email says they were taken by Dan. I'm not sure who Dan is, but, well....thanks, Dan!

There's snow on them thar mountains!

Sorry, no unsettling pictures of mines this time.