Showing posts from March, 2009

Major obstacle overcome

I'm in the middle of a Creative Writing independent study class. One of my assignments is to write a short story. My short story is called The Preserve. I like stories, and I think I write well enough to tell a good story. My problem is having people read what I write (except for what I write in my blog. I LOVE for people to read my blog. I don't know why I feel differently about the two kinds of writing). After months of fear, procrastination, fear, anxiety, and more fear, I finally allowed my short story to be critiqued by people who know how to nitpick the written form of communication. I let some English teachers read it. I let a recent English major college grad (who plans to go for her master in reading people's writings and telling them how to improve) read it. I let another person who has been instructed in creative writing more than I have read it. And I survived their comments with my dignity and hopes for a decent grade intact. I am now able to handle…

Ten things to do after vacation

1. Give great and glorious thanks for being asked to get on a non-midnight-arrival flight instead of the one we had tickets for that got in very very late.
2. Remind myself that the grouchy flight attendant may have had previous issues and I probably caught her at her near-boiling point.
3. Unpack
4. Admire the ceiling fan that Jim put in while I was away and the flower on the table that he got for me to say "Welcome home, I missed you."
5. Curse the van for costing $$$$ for repairs and for the new irritation of a bad gas tank sensor that beeps every 10 seconds signaling an empty tank when IT ISN'T EMPTY. More $$$$. ARGH! WE CAN'T AFFORD THIS!
6. Unpack some more.
7. Watch Matt show Jim the alligator head that Grandma bought him.
8. Carve down the talons. They are fun to have if I could live my life as a full time princess with servants to scratch my itches for me and type my blog entries for me and play the organ for me and open doors for me and pick up things off the…

Florida gators

Jenni successfully turned 40 and I think she may have even had a good time. Her birthdy bash was last night and here she is, just about to blow out the fire hazard.
Before the party, however, we needed our nails done. This is the first time I've been to a professional nail stylist. I had my nails enhanced and augmented. Is it obvious?
Needless to say, but I'm going to say it anyway, it's hard to type with these talons. But I'll willingly suffer for my beauty.

Remember the apron I made for my mom at her request for her birthday? It's because I asked her for fabric to make Jenni an apron. And here is Jenni with her apron. Happy purple birthday to Jen!

OK, so we thought it was cool that we had seen three four-foot alligators on the local ponds five times in the last few days. Until Roger called yesterday afternoon. Roger and Lani are good friends of Jenni and Travis and live on the edge of a pond. Roger called us to tell us about this behemoth within sight of his…


I haven't been computering much lately. I've either been running around or knitting. Jenni has been knitting, Mom has been knitting, and Matt has been knitting. Yes. Matt knits. Right now he's knitting a tiny orange scarf. Whatever. It's his exercise in purling. He and cousin Maddie had quite a knitting conversation last night. I don't remember all of it, but the two of them found much to discuss in the realm of knitting (although Maddie doesn't knit, she only purls).

Today we went to a knitting store. Matt liked all the colors of yarn. I got some yarn to make a little shrug for Hayley (shhhhh don't tell her!). Jenni got some purple sock yarn. Mom got a magazine. Matt got to help the owner of the store wrap yarn into yarn balls and she also showed him how to twist blobs of wool into yarn using a spinner. He was fascinated with the machinations of the spinner. He also saw a replica of Captain Jayne's knitted hat . The knitting store owne…

Finally I'm at a computer today

I have just a few pictures to share. Here is Jen being all surprised that we showed up at her house unannounced.
This morning Jenni had to go to work but I know she totally didn't want to because WE were visiting. But alas, she had to work. So Mom, Matt and I "had" to take a walk to keep ourselves busy. Matt has a list of things that he wants to see while he's out here in Florida and we were able to check off most of the things on the list. Matt LOVED the lizards. He saw several.
Matt saw a sign that intrigued him. This is the sign and that is Matt in the distance, ignoring the advice. He REALLY wanted to see a 'gator.

We didn't see one 'gater, we saw TWO! Here is one of them. Keep in mind, this gator is not behind any fence. There is nothing but water and a bit of fire ant infested ground between it and us. Fortunately, we must not have looked too much like gator-chow at the moment.
Tonight we go out to dinner with the Smiths. It's in the low 70s …

NOW I'm on Spring Break!

In case you didn't know (and Jenni didn't), I've been planning a spring break trip to Florida to visit Jenni and Travis and their girls. It was a surprise for Jenni's birthday. I got my mom to come along too and because Matt has not had a "big trip" and all the other kids have, I brought him along as well.

Matt was fascinated by the airplane. Before we left this morning, Katie called and talked to him to try to scare him. She tried to convince him that planes crashlanded etc, but he would have none of it. He wouldn't let anything put him off this trip. Matt watched the takeoff with great enthusiasm and was very excited to see what the tops of the clouds looked like. He also liked checking out the "kitchen" on the plane as we were waiting in line to use the bathroom. Everything about flying made Matt smile.

When we got to the Smiths, I suggested we send Matt in first, and he walked in with Travis and yelled "Pizza's here!" I g…


I'm taking a break from all the hubbub of spring break (where it's neither spring, nor do I get a break) to post a picture. Just an interesting picture of Hayley and a disapproving cat. Hayley had these lights up in the family room for her party.

And now, time for vague recollections from my childhood:
Drawing floor plans for boarding schools. I liked to envision and draw places to live. Sadly, I never became an architect.

Making mud pies in the back yard with Jenni. We ate mud. I don't think I liked it.

Playing elevator in the first house I lived in. There was one place in the house that was surrounded on each side by a door. One led to mom and dad's bedroom, one led to the bathroom, one led to my room which I shared with Jenni, and one led to the living room. I would place a stuffed animal or doll behind each door and then pick each toy up as the "elevator" went up and down.

Playing "watergate" with Eric from down the street when we lived on …

Spring broken

So it's Spring Break for the kiddies. Already, I feel like my brain is about to explode. My blogging routine is going to be irregular this week. Normally, I post by 8 a.m., but this week I probably won't get around to it til late morning. So consider yourself informed.

I tried to exercise when I got up, but having kids milling around the house doesn't make exercising in the house easy. And I WOULD go for a walk outside, but apparently the weather didn't get the memo about Spring Break. It's raining. Sigh. The first day of vacation and it's raining too hard to play outside. It's one of those rains that could last all day. The sky is a uniform cold gray and the rain is steady and determined.

Paul is off to his first track meet today. He has been placed on the 4x800m relay team with the three fastest guys in the track program (sez Paul) so I'm thinking that he will run varsity for that event, at least for the first few meets. Then he has also be…

One year away from being a teenager

My little Cheeky is now 12. Last night she had a birthday party (I'll get to that later) and as we were walking one of the girls home, Hayley noticed that she had accidentally brought a stuffed animal with her; she had brought Bun bun along.

She got Bun bun from Uncle Mike and Aunt Jen, pictured below with Hayley on her first birthday (when she got Bun bun).

She still loves Bun bun, and despite the allergy doctor telling her NOT to sleep with stuffed animals, she still does. I thought it appropriate that on her 12th birthday, we post a picture of her with Bun bun. Thanks Uncle Mike and Aunt Jen for a present that has been with Hayley for many years (mostly because he is washable)!
Here are some party highlights. This girl, R, loved the bags and the tissue paper.
Hayley blows out the candles.
And all the girls decided to eat the cake with no forks. Sigh. I had to mop the floor later. We played Werewolves of Miller's Hollow for the last hour of the party and the girls LOVED …

Ten things I would have Twittered today if I were on Twitter

1. Matt is practicing piano @ 7:45 a.m w/o me telling him to. Good boy!

2. Apple crisp for breakfast is OK on weekends.

3. Went to McDs with M and Fake Child. Didn't order anything for myself! Go me!

4. I hate when the kids have to fundraise.

5. How much dust can a Swiffer duster hold?

6. Stupid vacuum!

7. Nevermind! Vacuum is now cooperative.

8. Hayley is flarping again.

9. ARGH more dust! My perfect world would contain NO DUST.

10. I'm dead. Cause of death: extreme dust inhalation


One of my children got to choose a prize out of a prize basket yesterday and that child chose "Flarp." It is described on the can as "noise putty." I'll give you ONE GUESS as to what kind of "noise" this product makes.








I'll give you a hint. A whoopie cushion makes the same noise.


I had to drive in the van for 20 minutes with constant "flarping" going on. And constant laughter. No matter how old the kids are, gastrointestinal noises never cease to amuse.

And guess which child picked it?





Hayley. The girl. She said, "I'm gonna have so much fun with this!"

*Forehead slap*

Jimmy's eating habits

Several years ago at the dinner table after eating hotdogs (I think), Jimmy contemplated his empty plate and decided he was still hungry.

"Mom, can I have a sandwich?"

"Sure," I said, "If you make it yourself." I already fixed dinner; I wasn't going to expend any more energy preparing food, and he was certainly capable of doing it himself. I didn't pay much attention to what he was doing, but as he topped his sandwich with the second slice of bread, I asked him what was in his sandwich, because it looked a little odd, a little flat, and it dripped red and yellow.

"Ketchup and mustard."

I paused, waiting to hear what else he had put in it.

"And...?" I prompted.

"And what?"

"And what else did you put in your sandwich?"

He looked at me like I was nuts. "Ketchup and mustard. That's what's in my sandwich."

I almost gagged. He ate most of it.

Fast forward a few years and Jimmy had developed a habit…

Question for the philosophers

Why is it that the dustiest filthiest place in the house is to the immediate left of where you spend the most time of your waking hours?

I'm decluttering the bookshelf that our printer sits on and it is VILE. The dust bunnies are this big! The dead spider bodies are more numerous than live ones! There are THINGS of nebulous origins! WHY DO WE STILL HAVE OUR OLD SCANNER? I've dug through strata dating back to the stone age--I've uncovered VHS tapes, fercryinoutloud!

You know you're wasting time when... find yourself watching your cat watch a spider.

No science project today

I never did get pictures of Hayley and Matt and their little experiment that is taking up valuable counterspace in my kitchen. I'll have to put picture-taking on my to-to list. My to-do list is getting long, mostly because I ignored it yesterday, although I did iron two shirts. The ironing pile is almost as big as the actual dirty clothes pile so I am working on it a little every day. I don't iron the big boys' shirts anymore; they are learning to do that for themselves. Hooray for teenagers and their "need" for independence! You want freedom? Then you must be responsible for yourself! Iron your own shirts. And both boys know how to run the washing machine and the dryer and are big helps with laundry. Except they don't fold as often as I want them to.

Spring Break is next week for the kids. We have no plans, but that doesn't seem to bother anyone. Jimmy has to work a lot, which he is not happy about (see me roll my eyes). I think I'll hav…

Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles

Background: Magic the Cat is a skittish cat. He doesn't let us pick him up, and he dashes downstairs to hide the minute Jim gets home from work. One look from Jim and Magic will cower and try to escape.

Last night Jim sat down on the couch to relax for a bit, and within minutes, he had a "friend."
We don't know what prompted this, but I had to take a picture.
Magic, we cannot figure you out. Katie, maybe this means that Magic will like you too when you come back in July for a visit.

In other news, the weather was GORGEOUS yesterday! I saw the temp at 65! Everyone was out and about and I took fake child to the park after dinner (I babysat until 9:45 p.m.). Oh, how nice it was! The temperature hasn't been this nice since October, I think.

Tune in tomorrow when I chronicle a science project that is taking up precious space on my kitchen counter.

Edited to add: Happy St. Patty's day everyone! St. Patrick's Day reminds me of my Aunt Peg, who was vehementl…

Short meme because nothing worth posting happened this weekend

1) Describe your everyday dishes. Do you like them?My everyday dishes are a mix of white corelle and grey stoneware with a blue edge. The cupboard that houses my dishes looks like a garage sale inventory. I don't know if I would go so far as to say that I LIKED my dishes; they are dishes, they serve their purpose, I have enough of them, and they aren't covered with art that gets in the way of a visually appetizing meal. I don't mind when they break because I'm not attached to them, though. If I want pretty dishes, I'll use my seashell set (but only on OCCASIONS).

2) What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done on purpose? Got married without knowing if the groom was Mr. Right. He did turn out to be Mr. Right, though. I hope I turned out to be Mrs. Right.

3) Whose reputation would you like to ruin, and how would you do it? And whose would you want to enhance? I'd like to ruin Angelina Jolie's. Those lips could stand to be popped. And I'd l…


10 things for me to think about

1. How I'm going to survive a hosting a birthday party next Friday. A dozen relatively quiet girls in the house. Hmmmm. And no crafts or events to plan because the birthday girl just wants to "hang out" downstairs with friends playing board games or the Wii. Just order a couple pizzas and make a cake. How EVER will I do it?
2. What to put on my list of things to do today. I've accomplished much in two days of intensive list following and I plan to follow a list again today. So what do I put on it?
3. Going on a walk. I'll think about it but probably not do it today.
4. How I narrowly escaped melting down at the possible loss of my beloved fLossie. Yes, she's two years old and out of date, but she's my friend and I would hate to have to bury her. She froze last night and my eVil iTunes program (which has been conquered by teenage boy music recently) said that fLossie was corrupted. But I googled frozen nano and, lo, m…

Popcorn for dinner

Yesterday was not for the faint of heart. From 3:30 on, I was away from home with several children in tow. I had to pick up Paul and friends from track, drive friends home, insert Paul into the house, pick up Hayley and Matt immediately and drive to children's choir, play piano at cc, drive straight to the high school for a double band concert (both Hayley's band and Paul's band played) and listen to the concert. It doesn't seem like much written down, but it's a 20 minute drive from home to children's choir and driving kids home from track takes longer than I thought it would. And the band concert was over an hour long. OK I'll stop complaining. But Thursdays are always busy and Jim works so he isn't home to help, although he did manage to get Paul from home to the band concert while he was delivering pizzas.

I didn't fix dinner. I left sandwich fixings out but by the time I was home, it was too late to think about a sandwich, so I just had s…


That's the full picture of the sneak-peek from yesterday's post. The apron is for my mom, whose birthday is tomorrow. I had told her about a really cute apron pattern I saw on the web at this website and when she came over for piano lessons last Saturday, she brought a bag of fabric pieces and said, "Make me one of those aprons for my birthday." Not even a "Please" or "If you have time." I think she's the only one in the entire world who I will still let order me around. Click on the picture for an up-close view. The third fabric down has eyelashes on it! Mom likes her weird fabrics. But those weird fabrics came in handy when she made the tumbler quilts for my boys. The pieces had all kinds of pictures and thematic rows. The boys and I used to play "I Spy" with the quilts before the boys went to bed (when the boys were little. Paul and Jimmy would ignore me completely if I suggested we play I Spy with the quilts these days).


Drum roll please....

Who won the random drawing for a random prize package worth several cents???


Karie gets some dishcloths I knitted!

(Karie, email me your new address so I can send you your loot!)

Thank you all for playing "Pat the Princess on the back for her blogging stamina." Next milestone: 10,000th hit! Who will it be??? And will there be a prize for that? Stay tuned...


OK, I promised a picture of Matt and his bridge, but Matt has declared that he HATES his bridge (not enough toothpicks) and he refuses to have his picture taken with it. *major irritated exhalation of breath from Matt's mother* So I can't take a picture of the bridge and its architect. I'll have to sneak a picture of the bridge by itself tomorrow morning.

And here is a sneak peak of a not-surprise for a soon-to-be birthday girl:
Anybody wanna guess what it is? And who it's for? And if I was pretty much strong-armed into making it? (no prize awarded for your guesses)

One more day

I'll do the giveaway on Wednesday.

I would have done it today, but it's already 9 AM! I didn't get enough sleep last night (stupid Daylight Savings Time!) and woke with a start at 8:20 this morning (much later than normal) after a weird dream of someone standing over me and glaring at me, and I feel like suddenly there is no time left in the day to get anything done!

Yesterday track practice started for Paul. He's really excited about it because he likes the structure and order of organized running practice. He knows most of the guys who are trying out for the 1600m and the 3200m because most of them were in Cross Country together. I'm not so excited (I'm just some excited) because it means driving to pick Paulie up every day; although I won't be picking him up all the time. Two other mothers and I have conspired to carpool, thank goodness. I'm driving this week and R's mom will drive next week and hopefully, T's mom will drive the week afte…

Happy birthday to this blog yesterday

So it was my first "blogiversary" yesterday. I actually thought I started blogging March 9th, which is today, but I checked to make sure and I WAS WRONG.

A day late is better than not at all, right? RIGHT???

I figured I'd have a little celebration here with blog cake and blog decorations
and presents!Yay!

And a giveaway!

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is to leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite post, theme, or picture that I have posted on the shoebox castle wall. I'll pick a comment number at random (out of a hat. But first I have to find a hat) and I'll send the winner a prize! A prize picked from the vast array of items sitting around my house without use or function, or something I have too many of.


The kids are home from school today (it's the end of the trimester and the teachers get a workshop day). What should I do with the teenagers on days off? I have come across a lot of websites dedicated to making life fun …


From Jimmy:

"Mom, would it be OK if I took a jar of peanut butter and a bottle of honey and a loaf of bread to school to keep in my locker? Then I could just make my lunch at school."

He would ask something like that. We argued over the bread getting stale in his locker, but now that I think about it, the bread wouldn't be in the locker long enough to get stale. He'd eat it in a day. And I'm not going to fund his "need" for a loaf a day.

From Matt:

I drove Matt to a birthday party just a few minutes ago. He wrapped the present himself and stuck a tag on it. I didn't see what he wrote until we got out of the car at the birthday boy's house. The tag said:

"To: Colin, From: King Squirrel"

"King Squirrel" sounds about right for Matt.


After months and months of exercising in the tiny floor space in front of the TV, trying to keep up with several Barbies with b00b jobs who bounce around way too fast for me so I end up MARCHING IN PLACE for half an hour, I got out of the house for a walk. The weather was finally warm enough so that I didn't have to worry about windburning my cheeks or wearing mittens. I still had to wear the parka, mostly for the several square acres of pockets, which held my iPod, cell phone, chapstick, mittens (JUST IN CASE), a water bottle, and several pounds of Kleenex because I have a runny nose and going outside in melty-snow weather makes it even runnier. I wish I could run as fast as my nose, then maybe I could burn enough calories to lose some weight.

My new camera came with me on my walk. Too bad the cloudy sky made everything look miserable. Late winter is the worst picture-taking time of year because the snow is dirty, the melting exposes months of garbage that has not been picked…

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong

Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

(Thank you Sesame Street)

So what do we have here on a teenage boy's dresser? Let's see. A CD. Dreaming Out Loud by One Republic, borrowed from the library. OK, that's fine. We have a stack of books. Might be a little odd for a teenage boy's dresser, but not so much if the books are scifi/fantasy, which they are. We have Axe deodorant. Totally belongs (and gives the air surrounding a nice but very heavy aroma of machismo). A camera case. Yep, necessary to take pictures of many girls. Can't quite see it in back of the camera case, but there is an assortment of pocketknives. Not at all out of place, especially on the dresser of someone who likes sharp implements. A pitcher. Which belongs..........IN THE KITCHEN IN A CUPBOARD, NOT ON A LEDGE BEHIND THE DRESSER. I have been LOOKING for that pitcher for several days, especially at dinner time!!! Do you know how frustrating it is to …

Some blogs do a "Wordless Wednesday" photo essay, but I can't go without yakking in print

I got a new camera. I saved my pennies (I call it embezzling from myself) and purchased a camera that will be able to handle capturing Paul running track and has better zooming capabilities. My old camera is a decent camera overall, but it didn't zoom very far (which is bad for band parents who sit far away) and it couldn't deal with action shots. There was a huge delay between pressing the "ignition" and the shutter actually opening. I really want to get some good shots of Paul running track this year and cross country next year. I gave my old camera to him, too, since he is next in line for a camera.

Of course when one gets a new camera, one must play with it. Here is a sample of the playing:

Tom Servo Kitty
Paul texts. This is one of a series of continuous shutter action. I have a great new feature on my camera that lets me take a series of pictures in quick succession.
Footprints in the snow
My favorite Minnesota transplant
Tom Servo in profile
This picture is f…