Monday, July 28, 2008

It's hot here

Some of Big Girl's herbs are dying off in the oppressive heat. We're under water restrictions due to the severe drought, and my beautiful hanging basket of impatiens looks all but dead. The dogs lay around in the shade, panting. We hide inside the house and scurry out to get the newspaper or mail, then run back inside to the comfort of air conditioning. Bleh. The hottest days of summer in Georgia leave me tired, physically and mentally.

Ode to a milkshake

Oh chocolate milkshake, so cold and so sweet,
So delightful on a hot Georgia day!
Thou are deliciously sinful!
Shall I compare thee to a chocolate chip cookie?
Thou art more refreshing and creamier!
Had I but purchased you in a larger size,
Thy chocolatey goodness I would still taste!
But alas, thou art gone. Slurp, slurpppppp!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fun with Peas!

Big Girl, Two, and I took a road trip today to meet one of my favorite bloggers and her beautiful young daughter, known on Peas in My Hair as Peanut. We met at a park, where the kids fed some ducks and Two ran wild. Feral boy that he is, he just laughed as he got further and further away from me, until I got concerned enough that he might just disappear. At this point I ran over to gather him up and bring him back. We repeated this "game" several times. The park was nice, with good play equipment on the playground and the ducks around the pond. We were able to talk some, in between my sprints to reclaim Two. Big Girl was rather taken with Peanut and asked repeatedly on the ride home if we could go play with her again. Hopefully we will be able to meet up with them again on a future trip our way.


We are going to meet Peas in My Hair, and the forecast is excellent!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This looks promising

Now that's just mean, Google!

Running ads for vacations in Europe over there--->
while I'm stuck here with no prospects for a vacation anytime soon. :(

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One track mind

Two and I dropped his sister off at her art class this morning and took a quick trip to the post office, to mail a couple of books for paperbackswap. He apparently had other destinations in mind, as he kept posing other ideas in a questioning voice from the backseat: "Cowz? Twack-tas? Hay bay-uls?" and (this one cracks me up) "Bob?" Bob is my dad. Big Girl and Two call him Bob, or sometimes Granddaddy Bob, but never just Granddaddy. This is something Two started, I think because he conflated his grandfather with Bob the Builder at an early age. After all, the two of them watch and discuss BtB frequently, and Two associates my dad with similar equipment. Everyone in the family has tried to get them to call my dad "Granddaddy" but Two is dogged in his insistence on "Bob." And he says it so clearly and articulately, too!

Anyway, after I told Two several times that we were going to the post office, and that he would see his grandfather later today, he finally switched his tune: "Pos Off? May-ul?" He was quite pleased when I let him hold the books I was mailing while we stood in line. Like his sister, he likes to be a helper.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Name Musings...

Hubs and I were discussing my cousin, whose wife is pregnant, and as so often happens, the topic wandered toward names. Hubs is mildly obsessed with naming a child after Phil Ken Sebben. Yes, I'm serious. He used to discuss name a child Thurston, after Thurston Howell, III. He's an interesting fellow, my husband. No matter how frequently I've told him that I'm not sold on these unusually-inspired names, he persists. For a man who loses his keys so often, he has a particularly dogged memory about some things.

At least my brain's still young!

Mandalynn posted a link to this interesting online game-thing on her blog, Hugs and Hissyfits, and I took the test. Apparently my brain is a youthful and spry 27 years old!

To play, click on the link and then press Start. There will be a countdown from 3, and then numbers will flash up on the screen. Try to memorize them. They will disappear and be replaced by circles. Click on the circles in order from the smallest to the largest number. You'll repeat the process ten times, and then the site will tell you the "age" of your brain. Let me know your brain-age in the comments!

Budding artists

Big Girl is taking an art class this week in the mornings, and she loves it! They're experimenting with different media, which I love - breaks her out of her coloring obsession a bit. The teacher is a lovely, patient woman whose daughter was a friend of mine growing up. I've already signed Big Girl up for more classes this fall, in addition to her ballet classes. Hubs wants me to sign her up for tae kwon do as well. I worry that this is too much, but I'm going to look into the classes.

Two is a bit jealous, or at least incredibly curious, about all of his sister's activities. In a streak of naughtiness, he's also been coloring on the walls at home and at my parents' house. Thank goodness for washable crayons.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I don't remember how I learned this concept...

so I'm having some trouble teaching it to Big Girl. How did you learn that it wasn't cool to cut in line? She keeps cutting in front of the boys so she can stand next to her friend at swim class. This often means that, as soon as she gets out of the pool, she cuts right back to the front of the line to stand next to her chum. I call her on it, and her swim teacher does too, but she seems oblivious and/or clueless so far.

She's quite the daydreamer in swim class, too - she gets caught up in her own thing and doesn't always pay attention. Meanwhile I'm sitting over to the side watching her, just waiting for the teacher to ask her to do something, at which point he will have to explain it to her again. When this type of situation arises in my own classes, I find it exceptionally frustrating. I think it's a developmental thing with Big Girl, as opposed to the unabashed slackness I see in the college classes I teach.

Big Girl has this wonderful imaginative personality, and she's easily distracted - and since this is quite different from the way I function, it's a bit tricky for me to know how to help her while at the same time respecting her individualism and spirit. This is something we'll have to work on. I try to think about it in terms of the way I get completely caught up in a book, to the point that I'm unaware of anything around me. She seems to make this shift quite easily when she's enjoying herself, and her timing doesn't always match the expectations of adults around her. Suggestions welcome!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My wound looks freaky.

I took the big bandage wrap thingy off this morning, and now I only have to wear a small bandage over the actual wound. I don't have to wear the sling anymore, either. Very nice. Still hurts, and it looks very weird. My hand still has a greenish-blue cast from the cleanser used on it before the surgery, too. I managed to function passably for church this morning, despite being unable to lift anything. So slowly, but surely, I am recovering...

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Hubs hates to change diapers, won't do it unless he can't find a way around it. If there's any chance that someone else will show up in the near future, he (pretends he) doesn't notice the dirty diaper. Two, however, served up a big dose of rottenness this evening. I can't change diapers with my one good hand, and Two served up a world-class messy stinker for his dad to address. Hubs and I aren't even by a long shot in the dipe dept, but my boy definitely served up a foul diaper full of karma.

Hubs is infatuated

with the Documentary Channel. Last night we watched a documentary on ABBA, which included this gem (reminder: I'm recovering from surgery and taking some *nice* pain killers, which made this even sweeter):

Watch for the part where they do tiger motions - straight outta high school chorus!

We are so easily amused...

Hubs and I have watched this several times over the last week and still find it funny:
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Father-daughter bonding

Big Girl and Hubs have gone to a gun show this morning. I'm very interested to hear what my girl says about it when they return. She was so excited about a solo excursion with her dad. It's a small show, so hopefully he'll see enough to interest him without crossing that line at which Big Girl becomes bored, tired, or cranky.

Two is here with me for a Bob the Builder mini-marathon. He is mesmerized!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Who's your favorite?

Anne Taintor really struck a nerve when she created these. I've loved her witty, snarky little gems for years. I gave my mother this one several years ago, because it seems so like my father. But I think I have a new favorite now. Close observation has revealed that Big Girl and Two rule the roost across town.

I'm baaaaaaaack!

Typing with left hand only is slow and annoying. Surgery went well. Recovering. Some pain, but mostly just annoyed b/c rt hand in sling. All 4 now. Bye!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

He's Dead, Jim!

Big Girl, Two, and I raced out the door this morning, running late for Big Girl's dance class, and the battery on my van? Dead. Totally, completely dead. I think we must have failed to close a door tightly last night, so the interior lights ran down the battery. So Big Girl missed the first half of class, and there were considerable tears, but my mom came over and drove her to the second half. Big relief! Meanwhile, my dad drove over separately and charged the battery for me, and then drove to an auto parts store to have the battery tested. It seems to be in good shape now. At least this happened today, and not tomorrow when I have to report for surgery quite early.

Tomorrow's the big carpal tunnel surgery day. I don't know how easy it will be to type, or how long it'll take to heal, so I may not update here for a while. Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A brief warning

If at all possible, do not allow your child to ingest Purell Hand Sanitizer. If your child does ingest Purell, call Poison Control, so that the nice lady can tell you to watch your child for signs of drunkenness. And so that she can tell you that your child may vomit. If you are fortunate, your child will not vomit and will not appear drunk, and you will be able, after an hour of watchfulness, to resume your regular routine. At which point you will, if you are like me, go to church and thank God for your precious children, their amazing curious minds, and the nicely sanitized esophagus of your son.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Shows that didn't survive

I was just watching Eli Stone (rerun), and an ad ran for its second season this fall. This pleases me, because I enjoy it, but so many of the shows I enjoyed last year didn't survive. This happens far too often, particularly with the shows that are articulate, well-written, thought provoking. I like to call it the Sports Night effect, after the show Hubs and I loved so much. We were both big Sports Night fans, and watched religiously, and SN was also loved by critics. Apparently that wasn't enough for ABC, which cut it after its second season. Aaron Sorkin went on to write The West Wing, of course, which I enjoyed initially but which really wasn't as tightly constructed and elegantly deployed as Sports Night. I think the 30-minute format forced Aaron Sorkin to be even more effective with his dialogue, and it kept him in check in a useful way - not unrelated to the way that some writers excel in writing short stories, but become a bit too verbose when writing a novel.

There are so many shows that I enjoyed, that did not survive. This tells me that my tastes do not correspond, in many cases, with whoever it is the networks hope to attract. They also choose to renew some of the most bland, boring programs imaginable, and they keep other shows on life support far too long (case in point: ER, which I haven't been able to bear to watch in years).

I know I have quirky tastes. I know I'm nerdy, and I like sci-fi and fantasy more than your average bear, but I can't stand that feeling of getting invested in a show, and getting really into it, watching for it, making it a part of my routine, only to have the rug pulled out from under me. I don't like falling on my butt, literally or figuratively. But The Powers That Be - or The Man, or Mr. Columbia, whatever you want to call the suits who make television programming decisions - have no qualms about seeing me land on my tuckus again and again.

And so, my list, of Ten Shows That Ended Too Soon:
1. Sports Night - The Complete Series Boxed Set
2. Jericho - The Complete Series
3. Moonlight
4. The Dresden Files - The Complete First Season
5. The Mole - The Complete First Season (original version, with Anderson Cooper)
6. The Dead Zone - The Complete First Season
7. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - The Complete Series
8. Threshold - The Complete Series
9. E-Ring
10. The Agency

Pretty flowers

Big Girl sat in my lap this evening and we browsed the Jackson & Perkins catalog together. She loves to discuss the "pretty flowers" with me. I'm an insatiable flower and plant catalog addict. I love to admire all of the new varieties and dream of planting fantastic gardens, some day, at a house that does not yet exist...

So this particular catalog features several of my favorites, including the rose shown here, the Summer of Love Hybrid Tea Rose. I love roses with pink-tipped petals, with white or creamy yellows in the center. Hubs is a smart guy and always tries to find these when he brings me flowers. I would love to have a large rose bed and grow my own, along with others in yellow, peach, deep pinks, and white. If I had this rose bed, I would be able to participate in the J&P Rose Test Panel, which I think sounds like such a neat idea. They send you four plants, all hybrid teas in contention for Rose of the Year, and you get a scoresheet to give feedback on the roses' performance in your garden. My mom did this one year, many years ago, and I've always wanted to have a yard suitable for doing this myself. I would want these hybrid teas, but I would also need to have arches and arbors to grow some fabulous climbing roses as well. And maybe a gardener to help me maintain all of this, since I'm already dreaming extravagantly.

That would just be one portion of my garden, of course. I would need many beds for many, many flowers, plus an herb garden and an area to grow vegetables as well. Including pumpkins for Big Girl and Two to carve for Halloween. And lots of crook-neck and zucchini squash, plus tomato plants. Maybe I'll need a larger staff for these dreams.

Delicious summer food

My mom sent me some recipes from the ABC website that sound delicious: Ribs, Slaw, and Coffee Cake from the Deen Brothers (Paula Deen's sons). I could tell the ribs would be delicious when I saw the first ingredient, dark brown sugar. Yummy.

This got me started looking around for yummy recipes, and I found a delicious one from Southern Living for Spinach-Stuffed Squash. We've had a lot of fresh squash lately, courtesy of my aunt's vegetable garden, and I can't wait to try this one. It has three of my favorites: spinach, squash, and onion.

I need to dig around and find the recipe for my (other) aunt's black bean and corn salsa. It's delicious, and I tried to track it down on the Southern Living site for easy linkage, but couldn't find it. I'm pretty sure she got it from the magazine. They must have a limited number of recipes online to keep people buying the magazine. ;)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bat houses

I bought Hubs a bat house, and while I am not the sort to want a pet bat AT ALL, I am eager to have bats around, for several reasons. We had a couple of bat houses mounted outside the apartment where we lived right after we got married, because we had a serious mosquito problem outside there. It was miserable because I got bites every time I went out, to get the mail or walk to the bus stop, and bats would have helped. Bats love tasty mosquito snacks! We left those bat houses behind when we moved, hoping that the apartment maintenance guys would recognize what they were and leave them, but no - of course not.

Anyway, I've wanted to get more bat houses since then but haven't been able to find them until I saw some made here, locally, when I was searching etsy. My second reason for wanting bat houses - and bats - is that Hubs thinks they are really cool. That's excellent unless he wants me to pet the baby bat (he tried this once when we were dating - I declined). I like to watch bats as long as they keep my distance. The bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, flying out at sunset, are more my style. But the bat houses would be interesting for Hubs, and the kids would likely enjoy the whole thing. Big Girl is already intrigued by the bat house we bought yesterday.

So, the single bat house I bought is great, but I would love to have more, and beyond that I think it would be great for my dad to put some up on the side of the barn and encourage bats to take up residence there. My aunt would FREAK (and I would laugh - because while I'm a bit skittish about bats, she's far beyond that and would be afraid of the bats banding together and conspiring against her or something), but I think it would be great to have them there to help with mosquitoes and provide a good habitat for them. From the reading I've done, I know that good habitats are hard for bats to find, particularly with regular logging and forest management taking out trees where they might live, and I'm in favor of making my environment as friendly to its natural inhabitants as possible.

So, after that long-winded diatribe... I got the bug to find plans for a bat house online, and it looks fairly straightforward. Hubs is busy with school stuff at the moment, and I have surgery next week, but perhaps I can get Hubs and my dad on board for this project in a month or two. This page from the National Wildlife Federation has a great first-person narrative about a woman who built her own bat house, and she really clears up a lot of misconceptions - now I know why bat houses should be placed on poles or buildings, not trees, and why they should be painted dark colors. She used the Economy Bat House Plans from Bat Conservation International, which I'll likely try as well. I also found another site with plans, but I think I should try the simple route first.

Quiet day at our house

The kids and I are enjoying a quiet day at home. I'm planning to do some work on ye ol' dissertation, and Big Girl has some serious coloring plans, as usual. Two was busy stealing her crayons and looking for trouble before I sent him to his room for a nap. It's gray outside, so maybe we'll get rain. Big Girl's herb garden could use it. So far she has harvested two jalapeno peppers and three cherry tomatoes. The cilantro is dying - it started blooming before I noticed and nipped that in the bud, and so now it's dying off. I may try to replace it if there's any more left in the stores. This happened last year as well, but I wasn't able to find any plants this late in the season.

I have the cutest little leotards and pink ballet tights hanging on the drying rack in the kitchen. Big Girl starts dance camp - and another swim camp - next week. I'll have to figure out some way to make sure she gets there on Thursday, since I'll be having my surgery that day. Her little pink leather ballet shoes are adorable, and I'm making her some cute bows to wear in her hair (with her bun!) using some bears wearing tutus. I'll post pictures when I finish them. I need to post a picture of the bow I made her for the 4th of July as well - I was very pleased with how it turned out!

Yesterday the kids and I got a birthday gift for my mom, plus an early anniversary gift for Hubs. We found a local couple who sell on etsy - she sews things, and he makes bird houses and bird feeders. I got a ladybug house for my mom, and a bat house for Hubs, plus a bird feeder for Big Girl to paint for our backyard. Everything seems really sturdy and well-made - I was impressed with the workmanship. The man had several bird feeders that he had already painted, in the colors of various college sports teams, plus a cute John Deere one that Two would have wanted had he seen it. I need to read up on ladybug houses before deciding if we'll paint it, too. I'll be back later to share that information, plus some info on bat houses, with you, dear readers.

Monday, July 7, 2008

This looks (deceptively?) easy - handmade coffee cozy

This flickr set is a tutorial on making a coffee cozy, and I really want to try making one now. I think these would be very cute Christmas gifts! I'll have to try them (you know, in all of my copious free time) and report back with results. This is an ideal combination of my favorite beverage and a crafty-creative procrastination project.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Slow news day here...

We've been big bums so far this holiday weekend. Hubs smoked some delicious ribs yesterday, and we enjoyed some earlier in the day before heading over to my cousin's for a party. Good food and fantastic fireworks there - the fireworks were better than a lot of professional shows I've seen! Big Girl and Two had a fantastic time playing with all of the other kids in attendance, and as usual they think that their cousin has a superb toy collection. She has one of these which they just love:

Mid-post interruption: Big Girl came in, looking sleepy and disheveled, to tell me that her (toy) cat can't go to sleep. I took her back to bed and she told me she would go to sleep, but her cat just didn't want to sleep. I told her she needs to tell him that it's bedtime - hopefully both she and the willful cat will stay in bed now. This is not the first sleep-resistant pop-up visit from her this evening.

So we had a grand time at the party, and Hubs kept Big Girl busy so I could sleep in this morning. She likes to crawl into our bed in the wee hours, but Hubs lured her to the den with the promise of food, and I went back to sleep for two more hours, which was divine. Sometimes he is extremely good to me.
Today we lounged around. Hubs watched programs that did not interest me while I watched a movie on my laptop during the kids' naptime, and aside from Hubs spending some time on studying, we were all generally lazy. We've had a lot of busy days lately, and that combined with the heat tends to wear me out, so I was grateful for a day of rest. Tomorrow promises to be fairly low-key as well. Aside from possibly taking the kids swimming after church, no plans, and that's such a nice thing to do sometimes.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My daughter, a danger to her own health and safety

Big Girl has become a bit wild with the furniture-climbing and bed-jumping lately, and today her antics - trying to climb on my mom's back while my mom and I were wrestling with Two and trying to change his diaper - led to the inevitable injury. She fell off the bed and hit assorted parts on the dresser and floor. It was loud, and very frightening, but she says she feels okay. She has a nice knot on her head, so I'm watching to make sure she doesn't have signs of a concussion - and since she's tired and wants to sleep, I'm annoying her considerably by waking her up to ask her questions, like what her name is and how old she is. We were all scared by her fall, and while my mom and I were tending to Big Girl, Two (in clean diaper) wandered around looking concerned and wondering aloud why his beloved sister was "cwying." For all of their sibling abuse and wrestling, they also can be very sweet and affectionate toward each other.

Fun Read

I raced through a book yesterday, and it was a fun, easy read. Academy X: A Novel is written from the perspective of a male English teacher at an elite private prep school in New York, and while I couldn't exactly relate, a lot of the themes - academic politics, grade-grubbing students, sex-obsessed teenage students who wear skimpy clothing - sounded very familiar. Some of the classroom descriptions sounded a lot like the groups I encountered at my last teaching job, and the academic politics, while a bit more sinister that most of what I encountered, were pretty amusing. It's a short, fun read, and there were a lot of allusions, to Jane Austen and Charles Dickens novels as well as others, that made things fun for me. I have a bit of a weakness for postmodern novels that recycle and/or reimagine classic novels, and while this wasn't the finest of that genre, the way that the central character taught his students Emma while simultaneously using it to question the events in his life, to see if there were parallels, was a neat device. On the whole, I recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in any of the themes I've mentioned.