Friday, September 28, 2007

Birthday countdown!

As many of you know, my birthday is coming up a week from tomorrow. For those of you who are in some way related to me, or who would like to buy me a gift out of the kindness of your hearts, my Amazon wish list can be accessed through my profile. Anything on that list would make a wonderful gift which I would in no way turn down.

Next Saturday, we will travel to the Philly area for a Rockapella concert. I'm so excited that this is actually ON my birthday. And not only that, but it's free! It's a completely free concert! Which means we can bring the kids this time and not worry about paying $30+ dollars a ticket! (Not that Scott wouldn't comp them, but I hate to keep asking). Lest you think I've lost my mind, we will only be taking the older two boys. I shudder to think of the scenes that would be caused by a talkative 5 year old and a screaming 2 year old.

And because one of my secret Rockapella dreams has always been to have them sing Happy Birthday to me, I will absolutely be letting them know it's my birthday. Don't worry, I'll be subtle. I'm making myself a t-shirt that says, "It's my birthday - sing to me!"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The roller coaster

I was thinking last night about this house. The cleanliness of this house, specifically. Any of you who do not have at least three children probably can't imagine the sheer volume of filth in my house. The numbers of drinks spilled, crumbs dropped, and toys kicked under furniture add up to a continual, uncleanable mess.

There are times I feel like I have it relatively under control. The boys do their chores, I come along and finish up, and things look pretty good. And then there are times that almost all of the work is left for me to do, and I can't keep up. Then I get sick, like this past week, and absolutely nothing gets done, and then when I'm well, the sheer volume of disgustingness makes me want to crawl into a hole and never come out. I feel like I am constantly either at the pinnacle of making things just the way I want them (this usually happens right before company comes), or down in the dirty depths of grossness from which there would seem to be no escape.

It's not that I don't have the time to clean. But when I spend all day teaching, then cook dinner, I really really don't feel like spending two hours cleaning on top of that. And when I do, it gets messed up immediately, so where's my motivation? Why bother to clean at all? Can you tell I'm at a low point right now?

My oldest son always does his chores. The younger ones don't. I've tried taking away every privilege they have and they Just Don't Care. I've tried taking their chore money so that the oldest gets to buy neat toys when they have no money to buy anything, and they just don't care. Oh sure, they whine at the toy store, but that doesn't motivate them to work at home. I don't get it. Does anyone have any ideas to motivate two kids who won't work? Because I'm going to lose my mind here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lest ye think I forgot...

Last Wednesday was Talk Like a Pirate Day. I know you're thinking I forgot, but let me assure you that my oldest son and I did our entire math lesson in pirate speak. Well, mostly me. But he loved it. It went something like this:

Me: Are ye comin' to math class or are ye walkin' the plank?
Son: (No response)
Me: (imitating pirate's parrot) Walk the plank! Walk the plank!

Once we sat down to the workbook, I looked at the problem: 157,295 divided by 2172. So I said:

If ye have a treasure chest filled to overflowin' with 157,295 pieces of eight, ye must divide it amongst the 2172 members of yer crew or risk a mutiny. How many pieces must ye give each man to avoid bein' thrown in the brig?

When he got the answer, I said:

Aye, 72 pieces per crewman. And since yer the captain, take those extra 911 pieces for yerself!

We did all of his problems this way.

Oh, why couldn't there have been a Talk Like a Pirate Day when I was in school? My friends and I would've had a blast. How about you? If you were still in high school, would you have walked around talking like a pirate last Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

When grown-ups act like babies

We have these two sets of tenants. One is an older couple, I'll call them Fred and Ethel, and one is a younger couple, I'll call them Jack and Jill. Jack and Jill have lived in one of our houses for four years now. They always pay rent on time, they pay their sewer bill, and we have never had any complaints about them.

A year ago this past month, Fred and Ethel moved in next door. At first everything is fine. But then we start getting calls from Jill. Ethel is calling her names, standing at the window screaming at her two kids, telling them to get off her lawn. Basically, Jill and the kids can't go outside without this woman screaming at them. In fact, while Jill was telling me this on the phone, I could hear Ethel shrieking from her open window in the background.

So I called Fred and asked him to please control his wife. She is slightly mentally unbalanced (and that's not a dig, she really is), but he knows how to handle her. He assures us he will take care of it. But summer is coming, which means the kids are going to be outside more often. Sure enough, Ethel calls me to complain about people walking through her yard. She wants me to pay for a fence. Um, no, sorry.

Three weeks ago, I spent three hours on the phone, first with Jill, then with Ethel. They were both in tears. Jill was upset because Ethel just won't leave her alone. She can't walk outside without being called an f-ing b- and that's on a good day. Meanwhile, Ethel is in tears because she can't have a decent looking lawn because people won't stay off it. So I asked Jill to please not walk across Fred and Ethel's lawn, and to keep her kids off as well. This was mostly to see if that was really the problem.

Naturally, it was not. Ethel has since grabbed another neighbor's son around the neck because she thought it was Jill's son. She has also told Jill that she should keep her kids inside if she wants to keep them safe. The police were called, and would have pressed charges for harrassment, but indicated to Jill that it would probably get thrown out because of Ethel's mental illness. Jill is at the end of her rope. So at this point, since their lease has expired, I'm going to be asking Fred and Ethel to leave. I will evict them if I need to. Which is a shame, because they have been perfect tenants as far as paying rent on time and not giving us trouble. Unfortunately, they, or I should say she, can't seem to stop causing everyone else trouble.

I probably shouldn't have let it go on as long as it has (four months now), but until this recent incident, it was just Ethel's word against Jill's. I finally have other people willing to tell how this woman is terrorizing Jill and her family. What a pain for me, though! I have to kick out perfectly good tenants and then try to find new ones. Ugh. Why can't people just get along?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

To NaNo or not to NaNo?

In just a little over a week, signups begin for this year's NaNoWriMo. That's National Novel Writing Month, a time when thousands of writers all over the world crank out 50,000 words in just 30 days. It's always in November, which always seems to be a busy time for me. But I've managed it two years in a row, and come out a winner both times. It really seems to help get my creative juices flowing and focused on a task. I just don't know if I should do it this year or not.

See, I'm still revising last year's novel. I love it, I think it has a strong story and characters, and I think it could sell. But it still needs a lot of editing and tweaking, and maybe I should spend two hours a night doing that.

On the other hand, I already have the second book in the series all plotted out in my head. I just need to write it. And what better time to write it than when I'm forcing myself to write new material every night for 30 nights? Except it would be more like 25 nights, because of Thanksgiving and everything. I mean, whose idea was it to do this the month of Thanksgiving?

So, what do you think? Should I go for it again this year, or take the time to "finish" (and I put that in quotes, because all writers know that nothing is ever truly finished) last year's novel?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fall previews

Earlier this week, I discovered four brand-new NBC shows in our On Demand menu. Pilot episodes of new shows, available to watch more than a week before they would be shown on television! Naturally, I had to check them out. And as a public service, I will now tell you which one(s) seemed most worthy of your time.

First up, we watched Chuck. Now, I was all prepared to like this show, just from the commercials. I thought it looked cute, smart, and funny. And I'm happy to say I was right. The character of Chuck (Zachary Levi), a bumbling member of the "Nerd Herd" and lonely guy still stuck on the girl he lost in college, is well developed and interesting. He unwittingly becomes the keeper of government secrets and enters a life he never would have dreamed of. Along the way, he learns a little something about himself.

Sounds cheesy, right? I'm telling you, the humor and action on this show is a great balance. I enjoyed every minute of it. My only criticism is that is was obviously written by a GenXer, which Chuck is not. So when he talks about writing programs on a TRS80 in college, and college was only five years ago, geeks like me have to say, "Wait a minute, that's not right." Though when I heard the line, I laughed, because I can relate. Hey, who just yelled, "Nerd!"? I heard that.

Okay, moving on, we have The Bionic Woman. I was all set to love this show. After all, I loved the original, watched it every week, never missed it, wanted to be Jaime Sommers. The new Jaime is played by Michelle Ryan, whom I absolutely loved in the BBC series "Jekyll," so there was another vote in its favor. But I have to say, I was a little disappointed. I know they have to set up the story, but I found it highly predictable. Except for the part about the evil Bionic woman. That was just weird. This Sara Corvus character really freaks me out. The actress has a way of looking at people that's just, well, freaky. And she has a bionic chest? Excuse me? She actually said that.

Having said that, I truly enjoyed Michelle Ryan's performance, which is flawless. And by flawless, I mean that you forget she's English. Not a trace of her accent was heard. I like that. It's the main reason I watch House. Well, maybe not really. Anyway, I think she does a wonderful job of playing a Jaime who's both vulnerable and strong. If anything makes this show fun to watch it will be her. So I'm not ready to say forget it just yet, but they need to start pulling out some surprises if they want to keep viewers.

Next we watched Life, a show about Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis), a cop who was unjustly imprisoned for 12 years and has just been exonerated. He's been given a large cash settlement (some guess $50 million), but chooses to go back to work as a cop. Only now, he has a unique insight into both the ways that criminals think, and the way that cops think about criminals. And apparently, he read a lot of books about Zen, because he makes all these really deep observations that make you go, "Wow." I didn't think I would like this show, but I really enjoyed it from start to finish. Lewis is likeable as the wronged Crews, who no longer really fits into society ("What's an IM?") or into life among the other cops. Despite his time behind bars, Crews has a wonderful ability to connect with people, and gets answers other people can't. Playing his partner is Sarah Shahi, who does a wonderful job of being tough but vulnerable at the same time. I loved the shower scene (you'll have to watch it to see what I mean!). And I loved how they solved the case at the end. I'm looking forward to seeing where this story goes, especially as Charlie tries to figure out who framed him twelve years ago.

And finally, the show I was most skeptical about, Journeyman. From the ads, it looked like a rip-off of Quantum Leap, one of my all-time favorite shows. Guy travels in time, but can't control it, doesn't always know why he's there, but ends up putting things right that once went wrong. And I was right about the similarities. Yet I was strongly drawn into the story, right from the start. Kevin McKidd stars as Dan Vasser, a reporter who lost his fiancee in a plane crash eight years ago. He's now married to Katie (who used to date his brother!) and they have a son and a sometimes rocky relationship. It doesn't help when he starts disappearing for days at a time. At first he thinks it's a dream. But then he begins making connections between what he "dreams" and real life. And he makes a startling discovery in the past that promises to make the series very interesting indeed. Just like Sam Beckett and his computer Ziggy, Dan's got a handheld computer (his phone) to give him info. But often, right when he's about to find a clue, he loses service (because he's just flashed into the past). And when he's in the present, he has to deal with friends and family who think he's on drugs. I loved the intervention ("Trust me, you have not been where I've been.").

So the show I was most prepared to dislike I actually really enjoyed. Dan is intelligent and passionate, and I loved the ending. I turned to Hubby and said, "I'm intrigued." I think this show has amazing possibilities, and I can't wait to see what they do with it.
If you have Comcast On Demand, you can check out these pilot episodes, right now! If not, they will all be premiering this coming week. Happy viewing!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nice matters!

I just received a lovely award from the very sweet eMom at Chrysalis. Thank you so much!

"This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you've been awarded please pass it on to 7 others who you feel are deserving of this award."
Now to pass it on to seven others! Probably all my picks have already gotten it, but I'm going to hand it out anyway! Excuse the excessive use of the word 'nice' - it's part of the award.

  1. Cheeky, who is just one of the nicest people I have "met" online. Love you, girlfriend!
  2. Tracy, a.k.a Tee, is the only blogger I've met in real life (who I didn't already know), and is just as sweet and nice in real life as on her blog.
  3. Mary Anne, a.k.a. CameraDawktor. She hasn't been around much lately, but when she is, she always has a kind word to say.
  4. Blest, a dear friend who gave me the encouragement to keep plugging away at this weight loss thing. I would have given up after 20 pounds if not for her, and she knows it.
  5. And while I'm at it, all the ladies at One Weigh or Another. No one there ever has anything nasty to say to anyone else. They are the most encouraging group of people I've ever been around.
  6. Jean-Luc, who should be totally snobby because he's such a brilliant blogger, but who is always so nice and leaves such encouraging comments. Plus he's English, so automatically he gets bonus points. ;)
  7. And finally, I'm sending this one right back to eMom! Thanks for thinking of me!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

WCW - Way back!

This week, TKW asked to see our leftovers. One of those pictures we were planning to use for Way Back Wednesday, but never got a chance. This is one of my favorite old pictures of me. I like it because it's funny, and because it reminds me of autumn, one of my favorite times of the year.
Clearly I am very into whatever game I am playing as I leap into the air to catch the ball. What ball? See that thing over my head? Yeah, that's the ball. I never was one for great hand-eye coordination.

So, did you play?

Monday, September 17, 2007

I love to count!!

I suppose it was bound to happen, with a father who's an engineer. My youngest, age 2, is obsessed with numbers. In particular, with counting. He loves to count. It's exactly like living with the Count from Sesame Street. This morning, for example, he poured the last of the Ritz crackers from their crinkly package onto the table. "I count them, Mommy." He pointed at each one as he recited, "One, two, three, four, Mommy!" "That's right, there are four." I have to confirm it for him. You know, measure twice and all that.

He's taken to counting anything of which there is more than one. Last week in a restaurant's bathroom, he had to count the light bulbs. "One,two,three.four,five,six,seven,eight,nine,ten... ten, ten, ten, ten, ten! Ten, Mommy!" Yeah, he doesn't count past ten yet. Still, pretty good for a two year old.

I envision him in two or three years' time doing long division, trig, maybe even calculus. After all, that's just advanced counting. And with him at home, there's no limit to what I can teach him.

But first I'm going to teach him to say, "I love to count!" with a cheesy Transylvanian accent. Cause I'm cool like that.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I answer your questions

On Monday, I asked you to ask me any questions you wanted. And today I shall answer them.

Hubby asked, "Why?" The answer to that is, as always, because I said so.

Cheeky wanted to know, "Is you is or is you ain't gonna be my one state away neighbor?????"
The answer to that is still up in the air. As far as I know, they haven't gotten back to us with an offer. And it would have to be a pretty spectacular one for us to go to all the trouble of moving.

Karmyn had several questions: What is your favorite time of the day and why?
If I'm awake, I love the early morning, when it's cool, a light mist still hangs in the air, and the boys are still asleep. Unfortunately, I'm usually up too late at night to get up early!
What is your favorite subject to teach to your kids?
I really love teaching science, but I hate doing experiments. I have a bad track record with experiments. Apparently, the laws of physics work differently in my house. At least, that's my story.
What is your favorite way to pamper yourself?
I like to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of strong, black coffee. If I'm away from home, going out to eat is my favorite treat, especially if I can get good seafood (and I'm from Maryland, so I mean good seafood).

And finally, Beth asked, "What is your hardest day of the week, and why?"
Monday is usually the hardest, because the boys play all weekend and then we have to get back into the school routine again. There are some Mondays when we don't start school until 10 or 11 because we're all just dragging. But even worse than Mondays are Tuesdays after a 3 or 4 day weekend.

Thanks for all the questions, everyone! That was fun!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

WCW - Tentacular!

I'm trying to think how this fits into the letter W, and it just doesn't. But here it is anyway. The other day we were at the grocery store, and I noticed this on the shelf:
Now trying to tell four boys they won't like octopus is like trying to convince a dog to ignore a T-bone. It ain't happening. So we put the octopus in the cart, with the understanding that I would be taking photographs of their octopus-eating experience. This is going to make a fun scrapbook page.
So first, the five year old tried it:
And his reaction:

Get it out! Get it out! Then the eight year old tried it.

He likes it! At least one of them will eat it. And then, the two year old had to have a sample, because he loves seafood.
See? Food!

So, did you play?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six years ago

I worked as the childcare person at a local gym, for two hours every weekday morning, 9 a.m. to 11. This particular morning, one of the regulars had brought her two preschoolers, I had my five and two year olds, and I was a few weeks pregnant with #3. Like every other morning, the kids played and watched Nickelodeon.

A few minutes before 10, the other mom came back into the room. She looked at me. "Did you hear?"

"Hear what?"

"Change the channel. Two planes flew into the World Trade Center."

I jumped up and started flipping channels. My older son wanted to know why. "I want to see the news," I replied. "A plane just hit the World Trade Center."

Yes, I heard her say two planes. I did. But out loud I said one. Because in the back of my mind I knew instantly that if two planes hit, it was deliberate. And then she said it again. "Two planes." I looked up at her, and we both knew what that meant.

Mere moments after I changed the channel, the first tower crumbled. The news commentators didn't even notice at first. I remember shouting, "The building is falling and they're not even paying attention!" We watched in utter disbelief as one and then the other building fell. And our world changed forever.

Never forget.

Please go read my tribute from last year, if you feel so inclined.

Monday, September 10, 2007


I have reached my 800th post! All I can say is, I sure talk a lot. I never did a 100 things about me list, and by the time I got to 400 posts, I knew I'd never be able to think of 400 things about me to write down. Besides, pretty much anything you'd want to know about me is probably in this blog somewhere.

But just in case there's something you're just dying to know, I'm opening the floor to questions. What do you want to ask me? Anything at all, just ask. I will answer questions later this week. Come up with some good ones!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Kids are weird

Yesterday, while I was teaching the oldest boy, the younger three decided that it was absolutely the most hysterical thing ever to stick stuffed animals down their pants. The two-year-old was calling himself Mr. Plushy Butt. Which, of course, made me Mommy Mr. Plushy Butt. He fell asleep with a duck and frog on his back end.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Can you read me now?

I've been told by no less than four different people recently that they have trouble with my blog coming up. It takes a really long time, or doesn't ever load at all. So in an effort to find and fix the problem, I have changed a few things around. First of all, the blog entries should load before the sidebar content now, so if Blogrolling is hung up, it should still let you read the latest entry. Second, I've deleted a lot of stuff that was hosted elsewhere and tried to stick to my own Photobucket account. And third, I took away the expandable boxes for the blogrolls I belong to, making the sidebar impossibly long, but also giving the computer less to think about before opening my page.

So, did you notice any difference in speed of loading? I'm still getting an error, but everything seems to load okay. Let me know what you think, and I'll keep tweaking.

Oh, and don't you just love this retro template? I changed it from the original somewhat, and will probably change it again, but I just love it!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

WCW - The land of snow and, well, you know the rest

This is a picture Hubby took while landing in Wisconsin. No, not this time, silly. Even there it doesn't start snowing in September! At least, not the beginning of September. It's just a pic I had on the computer. Anyway, he's on his way home today after interviewing for two jobs. When I spoke to him last night, he hadn't found out what the offer is. Clearly, we're not all that interested in actually moving. But it would be nice if the people here would offer him the same amount or more vacation or something.

So there's my W for the week - Wisconsin!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What day is it?

School is moving right along this year, which is definitely a good thing. We haven't yet had a major battle. But then, I haven't tried to get the sixth grader to write anything yet. I guess he gets that from his father. Hubby doesn't even read anything unless I'm not around to read it to him, so writing is pretty much off the table for him. Which is fine. We balance each other out. I do all the reading and writing, and he does all the math and science. I've already told him he's going to teach high school math to the boys because it's just not my thing.

Anyway, long weekends always mess with my head. It feels like a second Saturday, and then Tuesday is completely thrown off. I need to start lessons this morning, but I really don't want to. And Hubby's off interviewing for that job in Wisconsin today, so that throws the daily rhythm off, too.

Okay, gotta go.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Happy Labor Day!

Hubby's off for the day and we're heading down to Baltimore to visit family. I hope everyone has a great day!

And if you're here, why not drop a word of congrats to my parents, who are celebrating their 42nd wedding anniversary today! Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!