Wednesday, May 31, 2006

WBW - Pomp and Circumstance

The Kept Woman has asked for photos recalling our glory days when we all thought we were smart and a piece of paper actually meant something. Then you enter the real world. Anyway...

Here I am after graduating from preschool. My neighbors' daughter just graduated from preschool the other day and I dragged out this picture to show her that I was once young and cute, too.
Here I am accepting my high school diploma from an unknown guest speaker while the principal looks on. Check out the perfectly coordinated shake-and-grab. Almost like I practiced it. Oh, wait, I did. They made us practice that. All 250 of us.

Here I am showing off my high school diploma. I was thinking, "Thank goodness I don't ever have to see any of those people again!" Hence, the big smile.

And here is my "official" college graduation portrait. Don't I look proud? In this one, I was thinking, "I just want to get out of here so I can start the rest of my life!" Which included getting married one month after graduation. I use my degree all the time, though. I majored in English and Creative Writing. I speak English, like, every day. And the writing, well, you're reading it!

So, did you play?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A memorable Memorial Day

I was sitting on a lawn chair last evening, watching Hubby and his brother building our deck. It was a hot evening, after a day where the temperature hit 90 degrees. My sister-in-law and I had been working in the garden, and I was hot and sweaty. I watched my other brother-in-law building a little fire to make s'mores. He asked my oldest son to bring a bucket of water for putting out the fire later. He quickly ran down to the outdoor faucet and filled a bucket. Then he brought it back to where we were all sitting.

I looked at the cool, clear water in the bucket and thought about how miserably hot and sticky I felt. "Go get another one to dump over my head," I joked.

He obediently ran off to fetch another pail of water. When he returned, I told him I was just kidding. He looked disappointed and set the bucket down. But apparently the tempation was too great for him. A few minutes later, the whole bucket got poured down my back and over my shoulders! I went running after him and gave him a nice big, wet hug! We were all laughing. Then he poured water over himself and we all laughed some more. What a goofy kid!

Friday, May 26, 2006

The happy dance

Noah is a dancing fool!

SPF - 5/26

This week, Kristine has requested the following:

Your suitcase: Bright purple. Let me tell you, it's really easy to spot this puppy on an airport conveyor belt!

Your ground: Most of what you see here is my ground. The barn on the left and the land beyond that is my neighbors'. This is just my front yard. We have four acres. I love having all this space for the boys to run around. Now you see why we desperately needed to find a new mower when ours broke!

Something to which you're powerless: The sweet, sweet sounds of Rockapella. Their website is here if you've never heard them. Oh, the bliss. This picture was taken in October 1995 at the very first Rockapella concert I ever attended. There's a whole long story behind this picture, which you can read here. Only two of these guys are still in the group: Scott, the gorgeous blonde high tenor, and Jeff, the one on the right, who's the vocal percussionist. They just keep getting better and better all the time, and they still make me go week in the knees.

Did you play?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lost finale - SPOILERS

First of all, hooray Taylor, Soul Patrol, yadda yadda yadda.

I wasn't going to post about the Lost finale, but I just can't help it. Hubby and I stayed up talking about it and I dreamed about it all night as well, so it's the only thing on my mind right now. Stupid ABC. Stupid writers. Arg!!

Of course it was the giant electromagnet that made the plane crash. Anyone else smacking themselves in the forehead for not realizing that sooner? I usually spot these things a mile away and that one took me by surprise.

Naturally, "Henry Gale" is the leader. We suspected as much. But "We're the good guys."?? I don't see how that's possible. And if they're the good guys, who are the bad guys?

Okay, here's the theory Hubby and I came up with last night. Widmore was mad when Desmond wouldn't take his money to leave his daughter alone. So he had Des followed until he found out that he wanted to run this sailing race. Then he hired Libby (who was never really married) to put on a bad red wig and give him a boat. He made sure the path of the race would take Des near the island during monsoon season. The rest of the racers, meanwhile, were given a completely different path to follow to keep them out of harm's way. Widmore knows all about the island because he was integral in setting up the Dharma initiative. Sure enough, there's a storm and Des is stranded. Widmore knows that even if he gets away from the island (unlikely, since no one who has been sent there for the Dharma project has ever returned), his daughter will have long since gotten married and will have given up on him. End of problem.

However, Widmore didn't plan on his daughter using her own extensive cash reserves to try to find Des. She has hired these two guys in the Snow Station to monitor for unusual electromagnetic activity anywhere in the world, because she's good at snooping around and knows about Dharma as well. Now, she's been alerted that they have found "it."

That's our theory. I'm sure half of it will be disproved in the first episode of Season 3, but it's fun to speculate.

My only other burning question is why in the world did that bird say "Hurley?"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Scroll down for WBW, but I'd love your opinion on my scrap pages, too!

I have been a sort of part-time scrapbooker for a while now. I bought a few things, but not too many, and any time there was a sale on paper, I picked out a few new ones. But then my color printer died, I had no way to print pictures, and so I stopped.

I've known about digital scrapping for a while, but the only program I had that would do it could only save its own format. No good for showing off to anybody else, which is, after all, one of the points of scrapping in the first place. Well, my dad lent me a program that will do everything I want and let me save as a JPG, so now I can catch up with all those moments I've missed scrapping (yeah, right).

Here are a couple I've done. Each one took less than fifteen minutes!

What do you think?

WBW - History!

This week (which I mistakenly thought was two weeks ago), The Kept Woman wants to see pictures of us in front of historical monuments or locations of some sort. And while I have been all over this country and had my picture taken in front of any number of historical sites, I don't seem to be in posession of those photos. What I do have are pictures from my semester in London, where my roommate was kind enough to snap a few shots of me in front of some very interesting history.

This is me at the Roman baths in Bath, England. Very old, very historical. Very steamy. That thing under my arm is a video camera. Would you believe I lugged that thing all over the British Isles? Got some great video, though. It was worth every little back pain.

Here is the obligatory shot of me in front of Stonehenge. Notice the rope barrier to keep pesky people like the Griswalds away. And there's that camera again, this time perching on my shoulder like a large, mutant parrot.

Finally, a picture without the video camera! It may look like I am posing atop a hill in ancient Greece, but actually this is a hill overlooking Edinburgh, Scotland. Years back, someone had the bright idea of building a replica of the Parthenon up there. They got as far as what you see here, then they ran out of money. The monument is now known as Edinburgh's Disgrace. And if it looks like I'm wearing the same outfit in all three pictures, well, I probably am. I only took seven changes of clothes with me for the three and a half month semester. And I wore that coat all but two days we were there because it was so flippin' cold all the time.

And that's all for History with Jana. Come back next time when I explain why we refer to prisons as "the clink," and exactly why all those people near Loch Ness think they saw a monster.

Did you play?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The "d" word

Yes, I need to go on a diet. Well, actually, I have been on one for two weeks, and lost three pounds so far. Yay, me.

See, for the past ten years, I have either been pregnant, breastfeeding, or have managed to lose a scant few pounds before becoming pregnant again. Before my first pregnancy, I weighed 139. I won't divulge my weight now, but let's just say that even if I lose all 50 pounds I plan to, I won't be 139 again.

Anyway, now that my last baby is almost weaned (he still nurses once in the morning), I feel like I can finally cut back on my caloric intake. I discovered, which has wonderful free weight loss tools, and you don't have to use Slim-Fast to use them. It will track your daily calories, fat, etc., and even suggest menus for you! You can also track your physical activity, if you have any (whistles, looks away guiltily).

Feel free to ask me how it's going and keep me accountable. I need all the help I can get!

Monday, May 22, 2006

My weekend

We had a nice weekend. Friday night my parents brought pizza, which was so nice! No cooking, yay! Then I sat up with my laptop adding all the Blogging Chicks to my Bloglines feed so I won't have to click through to each one separately. There are over a hundred now, you know! While I did that, Hubby cruised Ebay looking for a lawn mower.

Saturday morning, he found one ending that day located in Charlestown, WV. He researched the type of tractor a little bit, told me about it, and we both agreed he should bid on it. In between pulling weeds out front, he kept checking on the auction until finally, at the last possible second, he bid. He was the only bidder and we got it! Hooray! So we left the kids with my parents and rode down to Charlestown to pick up the mower.

Well, the guy selling it thought the best way to get in on our truck (we had removed the tailgate) was to drive it up the two boards we'd brought as a ramp. So Hubby climbed on and started driving. Unfortunately, friction was being a pain and one of the boards spun out from under the left side and fell, taking Hubby and the mower with it! Fortunately, he landed upright and the mower still seems to work properly. Anyway, they then decided that I should drive it up the ramp while the two of them pushed. I was a bit nervous (okay, so I was on the verge of freaking out), but we did eventually manage to get it on the truck. So now, our lawn is finally cut! Only time will tell if this will have any effect on the tick population.

Saturday night I took an Imitrex for a migraine. Sunday morning it was gone. But by Sunday noon I had to take a second Imitrex. I zonked out until around 3:30. Then I felt a lot better and it was time for Isaac's birthday party. We had my parents and the little girl from next door come over for cake and to open presents. He was thrilled to get a bunch of GeoTrax sets and immediately opened them and played for the rest of the evening.

Today I am debating whether or not to take another Imitrex. It is one of those migraines that just doesn't want to go away. If it's still here at noon, I probably will. Ugh.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Happy Birthday, Isaac!

Four years ago today, Isaac was born. Here he is with one of his big brothers while we were still in the hospital:

And at one:
Age two:

Age three:And currently:

I can't believe it's been four years! Happy birthday, big boy!

Friday, May 19, 2006

SPF - ???

I have no idea what to call this week's SPF, so I'll just do it. Kristine gave the following assignment:

Something discarded: I'm sure if you have small children, you have at least one sippy cup discarded somewhere in your house. At any given time, I have more like 20 of them hiding under furniture and behind doors. Oh, how glad I will be when they all drink out of normal cups and then put them in the sink!

Get down low and make something ugly look pretty: You don't get much uglier than an old college snack bar table. This was our first kitchen table when we got married. It now holds my dollhouse. But look how shiny the brass is, and what a pretty green the base is! Cool!

A picture that imitates someone else's style:

I'm not sure whose style this reminds me of, but I know it's not mine. I never manage to capture that perfect moment. Yet here it is. How much fun is that?

So, did you play?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday TV Talk

First off, I have not finished watching the finale of The Amazing Race yet, so don't spoil it for me!!

I was not entirely surprised that Elliott left AI last night, although that would not have been my choice. Did you see how close the voting was? Scary! So now it's down to Taylor and Kat, and frankly, does anyone care at this point? I'm not buying either of their albums. Watch Chris Daughtry outsell both of them combined.

And on Lost, I knew I could count on Sayid to see through Michael's pathetic lies. But what are they going to do about it? We've been promised a mind-blowing finale this season, and answers to lots of questions, so we'll see. And what does that boat showing up at the end mean for the losties? Will they be rescued? Also, I've found my favorite new euphemism: We got caught in a net. I'm so going to use that one!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tick, tick, tick

My lawn is rapidly turning into a jungle. Our riding mower, which we bought in Louisiana (so that's about 12 years ago) has a broken part and we're having trouble replacing it. So the mower sits unused, and the grass continues to grow.

The shagginess of the lawn does not bother me. But the creatures which have arrived to make a home in our newly grown jungle kind of scare me. For one, ticks. We have seen so many ticks this year it's not even funny. Every one of us has had at least one tick on us, and all three of the older boys have at least one a day. Even when the lawn was short, it was pretty bad. We spread tick killer on the lawn. It's still bad.

I have had dreams about ticks almost every night. And when I try to sleep, I keep getting that creepy crawly feeling like there's something on me. I have to check every little itch to make sure it's not a tick. Talk about your skin crawling!

The dog and cat don't seem to bring in many of them, oddly enough. Our neighbor's cat must be tastier fare. He's always got a few hitchhikers.

I just want tick season to be over. Reason #22 why I love winter.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My Mother's Day present

Hubby said I could share pictures of what he brought home on Mother's Day. I almost didn't. I mean, I wouldn't want anyone to get all jealous. Here it is:
I know, how lucky am I? He knows someone at work who had this car, and he has been wanting a diesel so he can experiment with bio-fuels, like vegetable oil. So when he found out he could get this one for almost nothing, he had to have it. Now most women would be thrilled with the gift of one car, but look what else Hubby brought home:This one actually runs (unlike the diesel), and is worth probably $1000. He got both cars for (are you ready?) $60! After we sell the second one, we'll have a nice little profit. In the meantime, I have a new lawn ornament. Don't you want to be me?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Fuel for blogging

Recently I received a package. I love packages. But not half as much as I love what was in this one: coffee! Six different kinds of coffee, representing Boca Java's new Blogger's Fuel line of coffees. They have asked me to review them for my readers, which I am more than happy to do.

I was impressed with the packaging of the coffees right away. Each blend has its own attractive, blogging-related graphic. Every package is stamped with a roasting date. None of them had been roasted more than a week before I got them. The coffee comes in half-pound packages, each with it's own resealable zipper to keep it fresh.

The first type I tried was Late Night Log In. I was a little concerned when I saw how dark the roast of this coffee was. It's so hard to find a coffee which is both dark-roasted and smooth, without an ashy taste. The aroma of this blend is wonderful. I used one tablespoon of beans for each cup of water, and ground the beans mere moments before brewing them. Almost right away, my house smelled like a coffee shop. I waited until it was fully brewed before pouring a cup, to allow all the flavor of the beans to come through. This coffee produces a nice, dark brew, a deep translucent brown with a rich, full aroma. The first sip was a pleasant surprise. Far from being too strong or burned-tasting, it had a deep, full flavor with plenty of body. I waited for the ashy aftertaste, but it never came. This coffee has a nice, smooth finish and a pleasant, nutty aftertaste. Sip after sip, it only got better. I would definitely buy this coffee.

The next kind I tried was the Bloggers Pajama Passion blend, a vanilla, kahlua and caramel flavored coffee. The aroma of this coffee is wonderful. I could tell I was in for a treat. Using the same ratio of coffee to water as before yielded a medium brew with a subtle aroma. I have to say that I didn't enjoy this coffee as much as the first kind. The flavors I expected based on the scent of the beans just didn't come through in the brewing. It was good coffee, but not as good as I expected. My husband, however, had some the next morning, cold (which is how he usually drinks his coffee) and said that the flavors were very evident and he really enjoyed it.

The third type I tried was the Blogs of Bravery blend, a combination of light and dark-roasted beans. It has a nice, hearty aroma, and you can see the two different types of beans in the package. Again using the one-to-one ratio, I brewed a pot. It yielded a dark brew (though not as dark as the Late Night Log In) with a full aroma. This coffee was wonderful, full-bodied, but not too strong, with a nice finish. It has a pleasant aftertaste and is just as good once it's cooled off as it is piping hot.

Next I sampled Bloggers Beach Blast, which promised a hint of chocolate kiss and caramel. Using the same brewing ratio yielded a nice, medium brew with a sweet aroma. From the first taste, I was hooked. The caramel flavor comes through nicely in the brewing, and the aftertaste has just enough of a chocolate flavor to keep me craving that next sip. This blend moves to the top of my must-buy list.

The fifth blend is called New Media Mavericks, a medium roast of Tarrazu beans. Since I don't normally drink medium roasts, I wasn't all that impressed. It is good coffee, if you like plain coffee. It has a nice, nutty taste, but not a lot of subtle flavoring.

Finally, I sampled the Bloggers Boot Up Blend, a breakfast blend. This is a nice, strong coffee, when brewed at the one-to-one ratio. From the first sip, I could tell it's a great pick-me-up for those slow mornings. It has a bold coffee flavor, with a smooth finish and a non-bitter aftertaste. This is probably the best breakfast blend I've ever had.

So, there you have it! Click on that button at the top of this post to go get your own! Plus I've added their button to my sidebar. I will definitely be getting myself some more Bloggers Fuel, and you should too, if you love coffee like I do! (And incidentally, all these flavors are available in decaf).

How was your Mother's Day?

Mine was wonderful! I got some much-needed rest, which is always a good thing. The highlight of the day was when my boys brought me lunch. They had made a salad with tuna, lettuce, croutons and salad dressing all on their own. It was amazing! It truly rivaled any tuna salad you'd get in a restaurant. I told them they could make that for me anytime!

My mom told me she'd suggested breakfast in bed to them, and my oldest pointed out that he's usually not awake when I eat breakfast. Very true. So thanks, Mom, for suggesting they make me lunch instead. It was delicious!

Hubby has hinted about taking me out to dinner tonight, when his sister is supposed to be here and could watch the boys. I hope she gets here early enough!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Stuff Portrait brought to you by the letter F and the number 2

This week, Kristine has challenged us with the number two.

Something you have two of:

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know I have two kitchens. The family that built the house was Jewish and kept this kitchen kosher for Passover. We mainly use it for breakfast. The other kitchen is in the basement and is where I do all of my cooking. The downside to two kitchens, though, is that I have to clean two kitchens.

Something you need two of:

Rooms full of books. I love books. I have one room full of books, but I really need two (or more!) because they're taking over every other room in the house. And I keep buying more! (Sorry the pic's so dark - it wasn't that dark on the camera).


From one of the baby's toys.

So there you have it! Did you play?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Okay, I have to get this out of my system

What were you thinking, America?? Chris, the only one with any real star potential, is gone. I am still shocked. Now don't get me wrong: there are things I like about all of the final three. But Chris has "it" - that special something that makes a star. There, I said it. Of the final three, I really can't make a prediction. Now that Chris is gone, ah, do I really care?

Moving on, I was cheering for best buds BJ and Tyler last night as they wolfed down two giant bowls of fried crickets and went on to come in first in that leg of The Amazing Race. I guess MoJo lost their mojo. Talk about karma! Go, BJ and Tyler! It's great to see people having fun with the race. Although I really won't be upset if Ray and Yolanda win, either. But not the Frat Boys, please, not the Frat Boys!

And finally, Lost is moving toward one major humdinger of a finale this year. I can't believe they let Libby live long enough to see Hurley, but didn't let her say, "Michael shot me," before she died. C'mon, it's two more words! I have to say, the actor who plays Michael is awfully good at those evil looks. Now, what is up with Eko? After watching a video that tells him the whole "push the button" thing is just a psychological experiment, why in the world does he think it's more important now than it ever was to keep pushing the stupid button? What is he thinking? Anyone? (sound of crickets) That's what I thought.

So, now that you're all aware I watch too much television, let's have your comments. Am I right or am I dead wrong about Chris? Who should win the race? And what in the world is going to happen in the Lost finale?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Bye, Gran! Come again soon!

My parents are taking my grandmother to the airport today. It's been so nice having her here, and the boys have barely left the motor coach since it pulled in! Then they're going to visit my other grandmother on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. They'll be back in about a week.

The boys all went to the dentist yesterday and, miracle of miracles, there were NO cavities! I think that's the first time that's happened. Which is definitely a good thing, not only because there will be no return trips for fillings, but because I finally feel like we've accomplished something with all the brushing and rinsing and stuff.

Have you seen The Village? What a cool movie! I just saw it for the first time this weekend, and even though I guessed the secret, it was still really good. Of course, I've liked all of M. Night Shyamalan's movies.

Boy, I'm really rambling this morning.

Just a reminder, if you want to vote for me in the RFS blog awards, do so here.

Ta ta for now!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Should I be flattered?

I have been nominated for the Really F---ing Stupid Blog Awards, in the category of best layout! You can go to Christie's site for the details, here. (Be warned, she uses that F word a lot.) If you feel so inclined, you may then email Christie to vote for me!

Well, I have to take the three older boys to the dentist this morning, so I've got to go get ready. Should be a fun day - NOT!

Friday, May 05, 2006

SPF - Cinco de Mayo

Kristine has a truly random list of things this week. Let's see:

Body of Water:Did you know the human body is roughly 2/3 water? This is the smallest "body of water" I've got around here.

Something with Flavor:
I found this mint growing wild in our yard. I can't wait to make some mint tea! Yummy!

Where I Plant Myself:You would not believe the number of sofas I sat on before I found one that was actually comfortable. We've had it ten years now and it's still just as soft and cushy as it was then. This is my preferred place to sit and read. If we moved our wide-screen tv down here, I'd probably never get up (well, except for the obvious reason).

Did you play? I'd love to stop by and see your stuff.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Time to rest

My parents and grandmother finally arrived yesterday afternoon. Apparently, all the work I was doing last week wore me out, because almost as soon as they got here, I got sick. I spent all night tossing and turning with a fever. I think I'm okay this morning, but I still have a nasty sore throat.

So, anyway, the boys are very excited to have Granny, Grandaddy and Gran Jan here. They want to go toy shopping, but I've told them their room must be clean first. We'll see if that happens. I'm not holding my breath.

I'm just happy to have them here. I know summer's on the way when I see that big coach pull into my driveway!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

WBW - Swimwear edition

TKW, in anticipation of summer and her impending trip to Mexico, has asked to see our swimwear of the past. So to get your mind off McPhee's slaughtering of "Against All Odds," here are mine:
Here I am enjoying the sun by the pool. My youngest son makes that exact same face when he's excited about something.

Here I am by the pool in Ocean City, Maryland. My grandmother owned a condo there when I was growing up and we went every summer. I always preferred the pool to the ocean - no sand.

And here I am a couple of years later, by the same pool, posing with my dad. I wish I could go there right now. Not to the pool - to a time when I was skinny. Ah, well.

Did you play?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ow. Pain. Ouch.

We are still in full-on cleaning mode around here. I spent all weekend cleaning the house and it's still not done. The floors need to be scrubbed again, the bathrooms cleaned, and lots of general straightening must be done.

I would have done more today, but Hubby went out to mow the lawn and the riding mower died. So he gave me a choice of weedeater or push mower. I chose push mower. I had already done around a bunch of trees and it wasn't so bad. However, I wasn't taking into account the fact that push mowing around a few trees is nothing compared to push mowing an acre of lawn.

I am typing this on Monday night because I'm afraid if I wait until morning I will not be able to. I am relatively certain I will be so sore when I wake up that I may not be able to get out of bed. I have blisters threatening to turn ugly on both my hands and my feet. Every inch of my body is reminding me just how pitifully out of shape I am.

In the morning, my sister-in-law (who's been here over the weekend) is going to help me do some work on our garden, or maybe she'll be working while I'm teaching. Then I'm going to have to get the rest of the cleaning done. My parents and grandmother will probably pull in sometime tomorrow evening. Once they're here, I can rest. But in the meantime, I'm going to be busy.

That is, assuming I can move in the morning.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Haircutting party

Last night, we had a group haircutting. Three of the four boys badly needed a cut, and we had some extra hands to help out, so we figured it was a good time. First came the three-year-old. It was decided that the most efficient way to do this was to hold them over a trash can, thus avoiding hair on the floor, and at the same time making it fun for everyone involved.

You can see that he is having a blast, and thoroughly enjoying the haircut. Here he is afterward.

Next was the nine year old. He was very cooperative, leaning back over the trash can for his head shaving. He was not as cooperative afterward, when I asked for a picture. He stuck a ski hat on his head. Oh, well.

Finally, we did the six year old. He is usually very squirmy at hair cut time, and last night was no exception. Even though he is not being hurt in this photo, he certainly has the Lee-Harvey-Oswaldesque grimace down, doesn't he? "Don't cut my hair - I'm just a patsy!"
He cheered up when we dangled him upside down. He also refused to be photographed post-haircut, running around screaming "No pictures!" as though he's been dodging paparazzi all his life.

It was a fun evening.