Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Would you rent to this man?

Here is an email I received in response to advertising one of our rental houses:

I am Dr. Walton,I saw your apartment advertised on a classified advert on the internet and i want to rent it,please let me know if it is still available and the modalities for renting it.I will be signing a one year lease for this unit and will be staying in it with my wife and Two year old daughter,and i will like to know if the house is not fully furnished,because i want order for some furnitures in my furniture company so i will be able to move in with the furnitures we intend to move in by ending of Novermber and i will like to know the total cost of moving into the apartment, inaddition with the cost of utilities. I am a chemist by profession and i am currently working with CHALFONTS & GERRARDS CROSS HOSPITAL.Hampden Rd.. Chalfont St Peter, Gerrards Cross, Bucks, London .
I will be in the states for year with my wife and two year old daughter and during my stay i will be working with the United States Environmental Protection Agency on a private research work. We will appreciate a quick response to our enquiry via email or you can please call me at my number ++44 7031970241.i will be looking for ward to hear from you soon
Okay, let's examine this, shall we? First of all, this man claims to be an English doctor, yet he has no concept of the basic rules of spelling or grammar. I mean, seriously, if you're trying to defraud someone, at least have the decency to spell things correctly. Then we have the name of the hospital in all caps. Guess what? When I did a search on that hospital, the first website I came to had it written out just like that. Cut and paste, anyone?

So, 99% sure this was not legit, I emailed the guy back and told him I wanted almost $3000 in cash up front, plus he would have to pay for all of November even if he didn't move in until the end. Now, what would you say if someone said that to you? Yeah, I wouldn't do it either. Well, he jumped at the idea. Except he'd prefer to pay by check. I received that email from him at 3:30 a.m. London time - is this guy really in London? Anyway, when I wrote right back telling him we only accept cash, and that I would have to do extensive background checks first, I didn't hear from him again.

But I did get an email from another English doctor almost immediately. Medical professionals seem to be fleeing the UK en masse. And how lucky am I that they all want to rent my house? Maybe I should borrow some of Cheeky's Irish lottery money to buy more rental properties!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Those squirrels are nuts

Did you know that squirrels don't remember where they hid their nuts and acorns? It's a collective effort. They just hide them in places that seem logical. Then in the spring, all the squirrels run around thinking, "Now if I were a squirrel, where would I have hidden a nut?" And that's how they find them.


Monday, October 29, 2007

King Tut had nothing on this kid

Have you ever read about boy kings? You know, those small children throughout history who were thrust into positions of power at the age of two or five or ten. I used to think these children must have been so confused and scared. I pitied them. This was before I had children.

I now understand that having the worship, adoration and servitude of others is the normal mode of operations for small boys. There is nothing strange to them about being told, "You are ruler of the kingdom" because, deep down, they all suspect that they are. Everything around them is theirs to command, and woe to those who get in their way!

This morning, before eight o'clock, I was ordered to change the wet sheets, turn on Bob the Builder, remove the wet shirt, get room-temperature lemonade (or "yellow drink," which must never be served cold), heat some fish sticks, and get a clean shirt and pants for His Royal Highness the two-year-old. All of this he ordered without the slightest bit of self-pity.

And lest you think I am the sole recipient of his dictatorial tendencies, while eating his fish sticks he said, "Stop it, I'm eating!" When I asked to whom he addressed his royal tantrum, he replied, "The snot in my nose." You see, even mucous is expected to hearken and obey.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween pics

So we went trick-or-treating last night. And to answer Mrs. Darling's question, I really think people from neighboring towns do come in, and then vice-versa. The whole county does this - there's a listing in the paper. Some towns were last night, some are tonight, some are Sunday, and a few are even on Halloween. But how weird to have to look in the newspaper to see when trick-or-treating is!

Anyway, we picked a neighborhood we hadn't been to before (since our neighborhood doesn't participate - houses are too far between and far back from the road) and went to every house with a porch light on. Apparently, we found the right place to go. There were very few kids and the people gave out candy by handfuls just to get rid of it. Then we went to our local community center for a Halloween party and they were trying to get rid of all their candy too. Each boy came home with over ten pounds of candy!

So, without further ado, here are the pictures of the final choices of costume. We had a few shake-ups. I loved the robot idea, but didn't have any of the dryer vent to do arms and legs. So here's what we did.

Oldest son was an alien again. He loves that costume. I think he's going to be 35 and still trying to wear it every year. Second son decided to go with an idea I had for third son - sunburned tourist. Only he had to be the Sunburned Ice Cream Tourist from Lilo & Stitch (a character who never speaks and who is constantly dropping his ice cream before he gets to taste it). We made the ice cream so it fell out if he tipped it, and I used bronzer and blush to give him that sunburned look. Third son was a train engineer. He loved the idea at first, then he hated it. I finally convinced him it was really good and he went with it. Isn't he adorable? And the two-year-old was a cow, again. Easy and cute.

Tagged by Cheeky

Cheeky has tagged me to reveal six random facts about myself. Not weird this time, just random. Okay, here we go:
  1. I am about the least crafty person I know - and by crafty I mean able to make crafts. I just don't have the patience for it, and trying to do it with four kids I'm pretty sure is one of the non-violent forms of torture used by the military. If my kids want to do crafts, I put them in the craft classes at co-op.
  2. I always put my left contact in first, even though I'm right-handed.
  3. I once set off the burglar alarm at my boss's house and couldn't turn it off (the code wasn't working), so I just ran away before the cops came. Major adrenaline rush.
  4. I have been to multiple Star Trek conventions, and yes, I have my own Next Generation uniform. I wonder if it fits again...
  5. I will never have enough DVDs. That's just the way it is.
  6. I'm thinking of writing a screenplay about the life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. I just need to do a lot of research and I'm not sure when I would actually be able to do that.

And now I'm supposed to tag other people. Hmmm. Okay, by closing my eyes and randomly poking at names on my blogroll, I come up with Karmyn, E-Mom, and Mrs. D. Have fun!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Halloween tonight

Or, I guess it's not Halloween, it's just trick-or-treating. I wrote about this last year. It's just bizarre to me that we all go trick-or-treating six days before Halloween. But the even more bizarre part? Not every community is the same. We could go out for candy tonight in our town, and probably hit three other towns three other nights this week. And none of them would be on Halloween. I'm sorry, but that's just strange.

The eleven-year-old is going to be an alien again. He loves that costume. The eight-year-old is dressing as some Bionicle thing he got from the Lego catalog. The two-year-old will be a cow (another bought costume that has served us well). So this year, I'm in a last-minute rush to find a costume for the five-year-old. If anybody has any suggestions that don't involve sewing, let me know. In the meantime, I'm going to cruise the Family Fun website.

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Office party

I am so sorely tempted to go to this. The Office is one of my favorite shows, and Scranton is only a couple of hours away. It sounds like a blast, and the street festival part is free - free is always good. Unfortunately, I already agreed to work at the refreshment stand during second son's soccer game Saturday. Oh well, if this is a success I'm sure they'll do it again next year.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Not at all surprised

You Are a Werewolf

You're unpredictable, moody, and downright freaky.
You seem sweet and harmless, until you snap. Then you're a total monster.
Very few people can predict if you're going to be Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde.
But for you, all your transformations seem perfectly natural.

Your greatest power: Your ability to tap into nature

Your greatest weakness: Lack of self control

You play well with: Vampires

Big fat deal

This year, my parents got me a new bathing suit for my birthday. And I tried it on, and it looked good! I couldn't believe how good it looked, actually. The only way I was able to go on deck on the cruise last December was by looking around at all the other people who were heavier than I and still sitting out in their skimpier-than-mine bathing suits for all the passengers and crew to see. Now, it wouldn't bother me at all, and I wouldn't even wrap a towel around my waist. I'm wearing things that I had kept in the back of my closet, thinking I'd probably never fit into them again. Some of my favorite jeans fit me again. I can even tuck in my shirts (gasp!) and look good.

I am currently only ten pounds more than I was before I got pregnant with my oldest son. In all honesty, it's a number I thought I would never see on my scale again. Now, I'm thinking I could probably get within five pounds of that number and maintain it indefinitely. I've learned how to eat and what to eat. I realized the other day while perusing one of my cooking magazines that I automatically scan the ingredients to determine whether or not I can eat those things. There are lots of really yummy things out there. Like Kashi. Mmm, Kashi. Oh, sorry, I think I drooled a little there.

Honestly, I'm not trying to make anybody who's been trying to lose and hasn't done it feel bad. I want everybody to be at their ideal weights and be healthy. My message is just don't get discouraged, and be consistent. I don't think in terms of cheating. I'm either on track or I'm not. A cookie here or a Hershey's kiss there doesn't take me off track. A bowl of M&Ms on the table or a package of Oreos might, so I just don't have those things around. It's long-term that counts. And long-term, I like to know I'm healthier and I feel better. Plus, I am now smokin'.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Nobel Prize, here I come

If Al Gore can win the Nobel Peace Prize, then it's not out of reach for me, right? Ah, but what cause to pursue? Then it hit me: aliens. Just as many people believe in aliens as in global warming, maybe more. And it only stands to reason that if there are thousands of inhabited planets out there, a bunch of them are going to be hostile. But what are we, the peaceful people of Earth, doing to prevent a deadly invasion? Nothing. Nothing, I tell you! And this is where I come in.

First of all, in my campaign for the prize, I must point out that I've been staving off aliens for years. Do you doubt my claim? How dare you?! Have you ever heard of aliens attacking the Earth? You haven't, have you? My methods are working. But, my friends, we must do more!

Step one is to have everyone, everywhere in the world, line their homes with aluminum foil. In fact, I have already done this and I can testify that not once have aliens invaded my thoughts since completing this vital step. I think we've all learned from movies like Signs that aliens can't penetrate aluminum foil. Naturally, the U.S. will subsidize any countries who are not able to afford millions of square feet of aluminum foil for their citizens.

Next, I will tirelessly cull through years of research by all the top scientists in the field of alien life to determine the best way to defeat each individual race that may pose a threat to us. If we all need to keep glasses of water and baseball bats sitting around our houses, I want you to know about it.

And finally, I will work with experts in alien linguistics, such as Marc Okrand and all those people out there who speak Elvish. Together we will work to develop a way of communicating with any aliens who reach out to us through the cosmos. We need to know if those strange gutteral sounds mean, "I'm pleased to meet you" or "I'm pleased to eat you."

So, my friends, won't you spread the word about preventing the threat of alien invasion? If everyone does their part, we can have peace in the cosmos.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Literary Lovin'

Tee tagged me for a meme I thought would be much easier than it ended up being. Here's how it goes:

"Ten Literary Characters I Would Totally Make Out With If I Were Single and They Were Real But I’m Not, Single I Mean, I Am Real, But I’m Also Happily Married and Want to Stay That Way So Maybe We Should Forget This..."

In no particular order:

1. Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. I just reread this recently, and Holden's definitely a guy in need of some loving.

2. Rev. Dimmesdale from The Scarlet Letter. My favorite novel by my favorite writer.

3. Aron Trask from East of Eden. I just love this character.

4. Petruchio from The Taming of the Shrew. Everybody loves the bad boy.

5. Duke Orsino from Twelfth Night. If music be the food of love, I'll sing him a few songs.

6. Romeo from Romeo and Juliet. He has to be a good kisser, right?

7. Hamlet from Hamlet. I guess I have a thing for troubled souls.

8. Ivanhoe from Ivanhoe. Hot guy and knight in shining armor - what's not to love?

9. Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. Yeah, I definitely have a thing for troubled souls.

10. Peter Pan from Peter Pan.

Okay, this was a rather fun and disturbing look into the way I think... If you'd like to play too, post it and then let me know you played!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's a grand slam

I find myself missing Denny's this morning. What could I possibly miss about overpriced food, slow service, and the much-less-than-five-star dining experience? Well, it's not so much the place, it's the time in my history.

My senior year of high school, they built a Denny's literally around the corner from my house. Lots of kids from my class applied to work there. I don't remember if I did or not, but future-Hubby came home from college and started a painting business, and I decided that would be a good way to spend time with him - work as a house painter.

While the days were long and the work was hard, I always looked forward to the evenings, because future-Hubby would come from whichever job he'd been supervising and we'd go out to Denny's. I don't remember getting meals there, just dessert - the chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream on top in particular. But then, we didn't go for the food. We went to hang out together, talk, laugh, or even just be quiet together. In the fall we'd be going to different states for college and we wanted as much time together as we could get.

And sometimes we'd bring his friend Dan along, who was just about the funniest person I'd ever met, and he kept us both in stitches. It was a fun summer. And every now and then, it would be nice to go back there.

Do you have a special place you'd like to revisit?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How am I today?

Combine my last two posts and that's how my night was. I couldn't sleep for the migraine pain, and when I did get to sleep, I got awakened by the dog breathing and/or licking. I actually moved to the basement for a couple of hours, but then the sounds of the water heater and the cat prowling around above me kept me awake.

Right now, I have the remnants of a migraine, which could turn into another one, just depending.

Seems I can't do anything but complain at the moment. Sorry about that. Um... co-op went well today. And my lunch is yummy. How's that?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sick of sick

Spent all weekend sick in bed. This is twice in three weeks, folks, and it's not even cold season yet! I'm going to have to up my echinacea dosage or something. Plus, I think I have an ear infection. The temp in my right ear (with my hand-dandy ear thermometer) is 97.2 and in my left it's 100.2 - unless I'm supposed to average them, in which case I'm right on target.

And then this morning I had a migraine, which is always exciting. It started last night, and I took medicine for it, but to no avail. Fortunately, my parents are here for a couple of days and could take the boys while I slept it off. I feel mostly better, except my left eye is out of focus.

Only 37, and I'm already falling apart.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Stop breathing - I'm trying to sleep

When I became a mother, I lost the ability to sleep soundly. It seems no matter how tired I am, I am awakened by the slightest sound. Well, that's not entirely true. I can sleep through wind, rain, thunderstorms, dogs barking, cows mooing, and insects chirping if I'm tired enough. And I actually tend to sleep better if there's a little bit of ambient noise going on (I even used one of those white noise machines until it started talking to me, but that's another story).

No, it's not the random nighttime noises that bother me. It's the human and dog sounds in the house that keep me up. The boys sleep across the hallway from us, and the 2 year old has a monitor in his room through which we can hear him. Last night, I turned on our air cleaner (which makes white noise and helps my allergies) and went to sleep. But I was awakened in the middle of the night. The dog was breathing again.

Don't get me wrong - I like my dog, for the most part. Now that Hubby has mounted our trash cans four feet off the floor and she can't raid them when we're not home, I like her even more. But she breathes SO loud! Not just breathing, but panting. I woke up and all I could hear was "huh-huh-huh-huh" on and on and on. I tried rolling away, but Hubby was breathing, too! Just when I got him to roll over and breathe quieter, the 2 year old started breathing loud over the monitor.

I think I need one of those soundproof rooms, the kind they put game show contestants in to keep them from hearing what's happening outside. Yep, just make me a horizontal soundproof room, and I'll sleep in there.

Or earplugs. I guess earplugs could work...

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Accents fascinate me. I'm not sure when I first started noticing them. I know it wasn't when I was six and watching Star Wars for the first time. Years later, I realized the film was full of English accents, both real and affected. But somewhere along the way, I started to notice the ways people talk.

There are linguists who can tell you exactly where someone is from based on a few sentences or even a few key words. I remember hearing such a person commenting on the annoyance of Dennis Franz playing a New York cop with a Chicago accent. I think it would be really cool to be able to do that.

I remember my best friend from home moving to Nebraska when we were 12. She and her sister got teased relentlessly for the way they said "water." When Hubby and I moved to Louisiana, everyone had trouble understanding him because he talks so fast, and has no Southern drawl. And I'll never forget the story a friend from college told, about going to Scotland with her father and being asked to translate. "Dad, they're speaking English," she told him.

When I went to Spain, I discovered the same is true of other languages. The Spanish I heard in Madrid sounded different than what I heard in Seville. And the Spanish in Cuba is different from the Spanish in Mexico, which is different from the Spanish I hear around town. I have to learn how to listen to each version before I can understand it.

I think sometimes it's good to remember that even though we might be speaking the same language as someone else, we still might not be understood. Everything from personal background to where you grew up can change the meaning of even the simplest words. People say things all the time that don't get heard. We find a true friend when we find someone who speaks the same language in every sense of the word. And that has nothing to do with their accent!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nice visit

You know when you meet someone and you just click? I had never met the woman who came to my house yesterday, but by the time she left, I felt like I had known her forever. We had a wonderful visit, I cooked lasagna, everyone had dinner, and then we talked until 11 or so. They had to get going this morning. I just had a terrific time. And their kids were so quiet compared to mine! Of course, they have three girls and one boy, so I'm betting that's part of the difference. The kids all played with the Wii and had fun hanging out together, too.

All the work cleaning the house and cooking and everything was inconsequential when I think about how nice it was to share our home with this couple, even for only one night. Maybe next time they're on furlough (in 4 years) we can do it again. Until then, we've always got the internet!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


We're expecting some friends shortly. Actually, we don't know the wife, and we haven't seen the husband in years. And we've never met the kids. I saw this lady's name on a Mr. Linky and thought, Naw, that couldn't be. So I emailed her. Turns out, Hubby and I grew up in the same church as her husband. They are now missionaries working in a camp in Alaska, and they're on their way to the Baltimore area to visit some of their supporting churches.

So we agreed to let them spend the night here on their way to Baltimore, so we could visit for a while, and let all eight kids play together. This means I have been cleaning and organizing like a mad woman for the last 30 hours. They will be here any minute, so I won't have much chance for blog hopping and commenting today. But I'll tell you all about it later!

Monday, October 08, 2007

What a great weekend!

Thank you all for the birthday wishes - that was awesome! We left here Saturday morning and didn't get back until 8 last night. We had such a fun weekend!

The boys all decided to stay with my parents, so Hubby and I got a date night! We drove the two hours to Philly, and then drove around trying to figure out where to park. The concert was part of a big fall festival in the town of Bensalem, and parking was nonexistent unless you wanted to walk a half mile. Finally, we saw some signs saying there were buses from the high school. Once we found that, we were good.

We got to the amphitheater and there were these red metal mesh seats on either side of the stage, right up front. Over on the right side, there were empty seats in the front row! So we went over and grabbed them. I tell you, if you're going to go see Rockapella, you must get a front row seat if at all possible. It's just like on a roller coaster - the other seats are fun, but you're going to get maximum thrills in the front.

Here's something the people in the back didn't see - watch Scott's microphone (Scott is the blonde, in case you're new to Rockapella).

Scott did see me in the front and wave right near the beginning of the concert. Unfortunately, because there were going to be fireworks after, everybody had to clear out and I never saw the five guys together after they left stage. I did happen to run into Scott and he wished me a happy birthday and gave me a hug. I say "happened to" because there were thousands of people, and it was dark. My hubby saw someone he thought might be Scott coming from the general area of backstage and sure enough, it was. Anyway, long story short, I didn't get them to sing Happy Birthday to me. :( Maybe next year.

But it was awfully nice of the town of Bensalem to put on fireworks just for my birthday! Take a look!

Then yesterday, we hung out with my parents at the campground in Hershey (Hubby and I slept in a tent - my back still hurts). We played tennis and mini golf with the kids, which was fun. I only had sandals, so I took them off to play tennis. I do not recommend barefoot tennis. Maybe on a grass court, but not on cement. Still, it was fun!

Now I'm going to do some shopping with my birthday money! Later!

Friday, October 05, 2007

A one-day-before-my-birthday rant

Hypothetically, if you were going to threaten to take your landlord to court for something, do you think you would perhaps check the lease you signed first to see whether or not the landlord was within her rights? I think a reasonable person would.

Of course Fred and Ethel unreasonable people would call and leave hostile phone messages merely because the landlord has returned their October rent checks (they paid last month in advance) along with a note saying they will get their deposit back within 30 days after they move out. Hey, idiot, you signed a lease that says I have 30 days to get it back to you. How stupid would I have to be to give your money back before I inspect the house for damage? If we weren't going to be on vacation then, I would definitely wait the entire 30 days.

I'd actually kind of like them to take us to court for this. They would have to pay $100 or more in court fees to have the judge laugh at them. And really, according to the lease, if they break any of the rules, we're not required to give them back one penny. Which, if they were to take me to court, I would love to point out.

I now know 100% for sure that Jill has been telling the truth all along (not that I really doubted) and these people are nuts. Especially since, hypothetically, they're the type of people who would slash their own tire to try to get their neighbor in trouble. Hypothetically.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Two days to birthday!

My oldest son started talking at 18 months, and everything he said could be understood by almost anyone. I'm told I was the same way as a child. Then my second son came along, and no one could understand him except me. He went to speech therapy, and by the time he was three, he spoke very clearly.

Apparently they've changed the rules since then, because even though my youngest was saying fewer words and was less easy to understand than #2, he didn't qualify for speech therapy. And so the battle continues - I understand, but only what he's said before. If he adds a new word, it involves me having to determine from context or repeat it over and over myself until I figure it out. Endless frustration for both of us.

So for anyone who is planning on visiting, or who might be living with, a toddler, I'd like to present the toddler translation dictionary.
  • nant noo - thank you
  • mcnahno - McDonald's
  • it neem - ice cream
  • ferdetti - spaghetti
  • wake - like, as in I don't like that
  • ahmam - I am
  • nant - can't
  • fadater - refrigerator
  • difor - dinosaur
  • nain - train
  • Nahmit - Thomas, as in the tank engine

Just a small sampling, of course. But I'm telling you, if they ever let toddlers join the UN, I'll be a shoe-in for translator.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Birthday month - day 3

You've heard of the Cookie Monster? We have the Brownie Monster. Last weekend I bought a tub of bite-size brownies from Sam's Club. The two year old wanted nothing else for three days. He got up in the morning and asked for a brownie. I said he had to eat breakfast first. He said, "I want a brownie for breakfast!" This went on for three days. I'm not sure how they lasted that long, when he was eating 57 at a time. He had a perpetual brown stain around his mouth, and if we didn't have a dog I would have been able to find him by the trail of little brown crumbs. Needless to say, I will not be buying those brownies again while he is still small. It seems to me I read somewhere that kids should eat something besides brownies if you want them to be healthy.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Birthday month - Day Two

Why do I celebrate the whole month? Well, I was due to be born at the end of the month, but I arrived at the beginning of the month. I figure that pretty much gives me the whole month to celebrate.

I got a nice "gift" from a friend this morning. I showed up at co-op wearing a pair of jeans I literally could not fit over one thigh a year ago. And my friend looked me up and down and said, "You just get thinner all the time!" That felt good. I am officially at 60 pounds lost, people! That's like a large dog.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Birthday month - Day One

Official celebrations may begin - it is now my birthday month! While there are no official ceremonies planned, don't forget that my birthday month always ends with lots of people donning costumes and handing out treats. Start planning now!

In other news, Fred and Ethel are not at all pleased about being told to move out. We weren't home all day yesterday and when we finally got home last night, we had an angry message from Fred telling us we were making a mistake, because Jack and Jill are the ones who called the cops on them. Um, duh! That's one reason we know we're not making a mistake! Then he started ranting about his security deposit and taking us to court. Yeah, good luck with that. He signed a lease saying we have 30 days after they move out to get any money back to him. And unless the house is trashed, he'll get all of it back that he's supposed to.

Honestly, in almost nine years of being landlords, this is the first time we've had people complaining over and over about one of our tenants. Do they really think they're the innocent ones here? I have nothing against them personally, but they clearly cannot play nice with others, and I'm tired of the phone calls. So my phones are off until they calm down. They've said they'll be out by the 30th. We'll see.

Hey, where was I 12 years ago today? Any guesses?
That's me in a Rockapella sandwich. Mmm.