Sunday, December 28, 2008

Taking a bit of a break

I'm taking a short break from blogging to spend time with family and think about the direction(s) I want to take this blog in during the new year. I'll be back in a few days!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Brrrrr.... it's cold!

Poor doggies. Their water dish keeps freezing over, and every few hours I go outside, dump out the ice block, and fill it up again. It's very cold outside. No fights to get the kids to wear gloves and keep their hoods up today!

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Resolution


More of this, and less of that deliciously sinful fudge. I'm going to get serious about exercising and getting back in shape again. Yes, I'm doing this now, three days before Christmas and all of its associated gluttony. ;)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fudge

This is some sort of conspiracy. I'm trying to be good and eat a minimal amount of junk food, and yet I've received two gifts of fudge - yummy, good, homemade stuff - in the last few days. Can't let good fudge go to waste, can I? I have to try a little bit so I can be truthful when I say how delicious it was in my thank you notes, right?

I can share it with Hubs, Big Girl, and Two, of course, but they've received even more sweets themselves - and Christmas isn't even here yet!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What a week!

This week has been so busy with all kinds of pre-holiday activities, health issues, and more. Two and Big Girl both missed a day of school while Two had a short-lived stomach bug (didn't want to chance sending in Big Girl in case she had it too). They both enjoyed class parties on Wednesday, and tomorrow they'll both be singing in the preschool Christmas musical performance. I'm really looking forward to seeing that - this will be Two's first time singing for an audience, and I'm interested to see how he reacts.

This morning I had a kidney stone. Could have done without that early Christmas gift. Fortunately it moved along at a quick pace, so I'm feeling much better.

And then tonight, Hubs and I get to enjoy a holiday party! The kids will stay with their grandparents while we go. It's been so long since we've had any adult time, gone anywhere without the kids, and it will be nice to enjoy conversation without the interruptions to "stop hitting your sister" and "leave your brother alone."

I just saw a preview for an episode of Rachel Ray in which couples go to a hypnotist to see if the hypnotist can fix an annoying habit that drives the spouse crazy. They showed a man who left dirty laundry piled all over the house, and the wife who hated picking up after him. I wonder if a hypnotist would be a useful approach to get Hubs to clean the house while I sit on the sofa and read? Without any complaints or grumbling from Hubs while he works, of course. Yeah, it wouldn't be nice or fair of me, but it's still a strangely appealing idea...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Baby Fever

I think I have a mild-to-moderate case of baby fever. Big Girl asked for a baby sister for Christmas, and I thought, "Oh. That's not a bad idea." And then I just watched a video that one of my college roommates posted online, of her daughter rolling over for the first time, and with that the baby fever really kicked in. On an intellectual level, I know that I get incredibly sick when I'm pregnant, and I feel nauseated and wretched for the entire nine months, and yet... babies! So cute! So sweet! And I've thought for a long time that our family isn't necessarily complete at this point. With everything going on in our lives right now, the timing isn't good at all, so I guess I'll tuck this away and revisit the idea in a few months. And I'll try to keep my baby fever to myself, at least for a little while.

On a related note: I wonder if men every really get baby fever in the way that women do? Hubs didn't really get interested in the kids until they started interacting with him. Before that, he cared for them and spent time with them, but once they started to give back in terms of attention, conversation, etc. - he was hooked. That's when they became really cool to him, in ways that I hadn't observed before.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ow.

I did something very, very bad to my back on Wednesday. I'm blaming Two, who's certainly big and strong enough that I don't need to be picking him up all the time. I think packing up the items left from the church Ten Thousand Villages sale was a contributing factor as well. Anyway, I've been miserable. I can barely walk, and I wince when I do. Fortunately my doctor took pity on me and gave me some meds when I went to see him yesterday. His explanation of how I did it and how the muscles in my back are so much easier to injure made a lot of sense, but at present I'm a little too woozy to recap. Maybe later. Sitting up to type starts to hurt more and more, the longer I do it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Amusing.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Sarah Palin pictures

Disheartened.

I think that's the best word for it. I'm feeling disheartened. Various stresses that I don't want to hash out in detail are really starting to get to me, and I hate that it's so close to Christmas when I'm feeling this way. But so it is. Christmas at our house will come together, eventually, but so far I haven't put out any decorations, put up a tree, or even put out that magnetic cover thing that my mom gave me for our mailbox. I'm looking at hiring my cousin to come over and help me do some of this holiday-decorating-stuff, since I know he would love to make some money after his semester winds up. And I think I would be more motivated if I had someone to help me, but Hubs is so busy with work and so exhausted from the end of his semester that I hate to bug him too much.

I've decided what I want for Christmas. I want a fairy godmother. Surely I could call on her for help and not feel inept/guilty/awkward about it. And maybe she could hook me up with a winning lottery ticket and some free housecleaning, too. Oh, yes, and she could probably help me get in better shape and lose some weight, too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Watch out for pumas!

Today the kids and I visited at my parents' house after Big Girl got out of preschool. Two had been there for a few hours during the morning while I worked in my office. Apparently he went shopping with my mom at Tuesday Morning (love that store), where he put on a performance as "charming grandson" for some of her friends who were also there shopping. For his efforts, he won a toy, but he doesn't get it until Christmas - fortunately he was distracted by the time they got back to the house and didn't ask about it.

So while the kids and my mom read books in the living room and watched us out the big front picture window, my dad and I put out lights on the bushes in the front yard. The kids kept knocking on the window and yelling at us, but I couldn't really understand what they were saying. Big Girl came to the front door and opened it and stood there trying to interrupt my conversation with my dad, and - annoying mother that I am - I told her to close the door and not interrupt.

When we finally came inside, the kids raced up to us, and Two grabbed my leg and kept saying "pumas bite!" repeatedly. Big Girl was chattering about pumas too. My mother explained: they wanted to warn us to watch out for pumas hiding in the grass. Because, you know, there might be a puma hiding there (in the front yard of a house, in the middle of town, in Georgia during December) and it might go for our legs. It would be a shame to be surprised and suffer a puma bite, particularly this close to Christmas.

I know two highly imaginative kids who love to watch Go, Diego, Go!


image from National Geographic

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thwarted

Two is at an absolutely adorable age. But he doesn't photograph well. He and his sister wore some very cute coordinating outfits to church today, and then after church I attempted to photograph the two of them so I could make photo Christmas cards. But no. Two would have none of that. He told me he was a puma and roared at me at first, but then quickly lost all good humor and stuck out his lip. And whined - a magnificent whine that I'm sure was heard all over the neighborhood. Big Girl sat there looking cute and shivering, since I was being a bad mommy and had them take off their coats so I could see the sweaters underneath. I didn't get my picture. Two got a nap, and after a bite of lunch, Big Girl took one too. I'll have to come up with more tricks and try again another day. Maybe I'll be forced to pick a card design that accommodates multiple images, and then get a decent shot of him without his sister (since she inevitably looks away when I get his attention focused on the camera).

Friday, December 5, 2008

I won! I won!

I'm so excited - I won a giveaway! Dr. Mommy Says offered a winner's choice of treat from Paw Luxury, and I can't wait for the lads to receive their treats! They will be very, very excited. Well, they get excited every time they see me, but I know they will be even more wagtastically pleased to see me coming with treats. I'll let you know what they think of their Polka Dog Peanut Butter Medley treats!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanks for your input.

I decided to let my students take the exam home to complete it. I finished writing it earlier this evening, and they'll have more than a week before they have to turn it in - but they're also finishing term papers due on Thursday, so I suspect most of them will wait a few days before starting the exam. It's already posted online, so they can start when ready. They were all very excited by the change to a take-home exam, and I'm hoping that, with less pressure and more time, they'll all do very well.

Because honestly, all of my "mean teacher" talk aside, I want my students to do well. It makes me sad when I have to flunk plagiarists and assign low grades to students who haven't done all the work. I would rather read good papers and tests.

Nice teacher? Mean teacher? Spineless teacher?

My college students are scheduled to take exams next week - one class on Tuesday night, and one on Thursday night. Two hours, open notes, open book. I feel pretty generous about that.

I let them use the book and notes because I assign massive amounts of reading, and I don't think I should require students in a first year composition (lit based) class to memorize authors and titles. The focus should be on demonstrating what they can do with the literature more than anything.

But now I'm kind of tempted to give them the final as a take-home on Thursday, and just have them return it next week. Is that being too generous? Is this my laziness trumping my teacherly duty? Because I would rather not sit there for two hours while they take their exams. That is definitely one factor.

The midterm was take-home. Apparently some of them took much longer than I anticipated to complete it, so I know that the final will be shorter than the midterm.

I worry that the spirit of generosity and all that is taking me over and compromising my mean teacherness. And then, I remember that I don't HAVE to be a mean teacher, not all the time, even though being a little scary can be fun. And the important part is that they demonstrate competence with the material and all that.

What do you think?

More giveaways!

Mom Maven is giving away a great book that I would love to share with my kids: The Random House Book of Easy-to-Read Stories. Big Girl is just starting to learn to pick out letters and identify words (so exciting to watch this!), so I try to read books with her that will help her in the learning process.

PakNak giveaway at Grocery Price Blog - aren't they cute?!

For those of you with a Wii, you can enter to win a Build-a-Bear Wii Game at Just a mom's take on things.

I know I've said this before, but there are so many great blog giveaways going on this holiday season. I'm really impressed. I'm entering like crazy. You can, too, provided you don't win all of the stuff I want and leave nothing for me. :D Just kidding.

Monday, December 1, 2008

This recipe sounds divine.

(image from Food Network)

As if I need more delicious recipes for sinful food - Alton Brown has this recipe for Chocolate Truffles. The cook time on this is only five minutes, and if they taste as good as they look, they will make great Christmas gifts for select lucky neighbors and friends. Something different from my usual loaf of banana bread, perhaps.

Stumpers from Big Girl

Big Girl likes to ask tough questions. Complicated questions. Questions that catch me off-guard. She specializes in unexpected questions that involve religion and/or science.

Tonight, something she saw on television prompted her to ask if she could go to space. I told her that she could do it when she got older and finished college. She didn't like this answer, I guess, since she asked the same question again later in the evening.

There's a certain attractive, deceptive logic to her questions, too. If Rusty (our late dog) is in heaven with God, and God is always with us, why can't we go see God and Rusty? And how, exactly, do we get to heaven? Can we float up there like the balloon that got away at her cousin's birthday party? Can we take a plane there?

She has also asked for a baby sister SEVERAL TIMES in the last week. She seems to have dropped her request for a pony for Christmas in favor of this sibling request. And she's very certain that she wants a sister, too - I think she wants the girls to outnumber the boys in our family, and in particular more sisters than brothers (i.e., Two). She likes him, sure, but she doesn't like the idea of more like him nearly as much.

The alligator obsession also continues. She brought her fantastic painting of an alligator home from school today, and I'm wondering how best to display it. It'll definitely make its way to her scrapbook pile (the large bin of things that I will put - someday - in her scrapbook).

Holiday gift idea - frugal, personal, and crafty trifecta!

I took the kids on a nightmare trip to Hobby Lobby today. I love that store. And yes, I love my children. But the two don't mix well, even with one strapped into a shopping cart. They like to touch and pick up and run and hide and... well, all of that stuff. Sometimes I morph into "that mom" who screeches "NO! Don't touch!" repeatedly throughout the store. Ugh.

Nonetheless, I managed to pick up a few supplies for Big Girl and Two to engage in a little bit of festive craftiness over the coming days (more on that in another post), and I browsed one of my favorite rows: the prefab wood stuff.

In years past, I acquired a couple of cute step stools from a craft store and painted them blue, with stars, moons, and the like, and personalized them with my nephews' names. I've also picked up plain wood birdhouses on clearance at Lowe's (I love clearance stuff - I could spend hours browsing) and painted them as gifts. One for my mom was solid white with tiny pastel flowers and butterflies. I also did one for my in-laws with the Texas flag on the roof.

I'm not a fantastic artist, but I love making gifts like these. I can personalize them for the recipient, and they're fun projects for me. Now that Big Girl is getting older, she can also start participating (another vague reference to the stuff I got at Hobby Lobby today) and I expect my relatives will be thrilled with her handiwork. So here, in short, is my mad plan for painting neat stuff to give as gifts:

  • Buy plain, pre-constructed items - bird feeder, picture frame, step stool, trays, etc. - or, if you're ambitious and super-crafty, make your own.
  • Paint and otherwise decorate items. For the step stools, I used several layers of blue for the base coat and also used several clear coats on the finished product in the hope that they would withstand a bit of rough treatment from the boys. With the bird houses, I used a final clear coat in case the recipients wanted to use them outside. For items that will be kept indoors, you could use beads, shells, and other assorted bits.
  • Choose a design and/or color scheme to appeal to the recipient. Hence the Texas flag bird house. Sports teams are also good, or hobbies or other interests can be used as a theme for the project - gardening, birds, hats, pets or other animals, etc. I have a project for Two rolling around in my head, not quite crystallized, which involves John Deere tractors and a farming theme. Stencils are also a great way to produce a design or picture, and even personalization.
  • Give yourself enough time to finish the project and to let it dry, and then you're set.


I want to revisit the step stool idea for my own children sometime. They both love anything that's personalized - are all kids like that? I also have an idea about making UGA birdhouses for relatives who are big Georgia fans. This would likely involve a stencil to get a good facsimile of the Georgia "G" - and I don't know if I would attempt Uga. I don't think my skills are quite up to painting a bulldog.

So, this is *not* the direction I'm going this year with holiday gifts, but since I'm already finished with most of my acquisitions, I'm already thinking about next year. And I'll definitely have my eyes open as I peruse the clearance aisles, particularly after Christmas. I may be able to pick up some cute "plain" stuff that the kids and I can paint and decorate for next year's gift giving. They demonstrated a marked interest in the wooden bird houses when we were shopping this afternoon...

Holiday Giveaways - $500 Walmart Gift Card edition

The Walmart ElevenMoms are giving away $500 Walmart Gift Cards (also courtesy of Nickelodeon) - I could do some serious shopping with that! Some of them have already started their contests, and while you can only win once, you can register in each contest to improve your chances!

Check out To Think is to Create and sign up to win a gift card.

Visit From Dates to Diapers and Beyond! for another contest.

Classy Mommy is also giving away a Walmart gift card.

You can also enter at one of my favorite frugal living blogs, Frugal Upstate.

Check out Green Your Decor and enter to win.

Share money-saving tips for holiday decorating at Jessica Knows to enter.

Enter at Skimbaco Lifestyle for another chance to win a gift card.

You can also enter at Being Frugal (I love her tagline: "Live more. Spend less.").

There's also another giveaway at Consumer Queen.

And finally (for now), Mommy Brain Reports has a gift card giveaway.

From the looks of the Walmart site, the other ElevenMoms will also be giving away $500 gift cards (can I just say "wow" again) but haven't started their contests yet. Note that these contests all require you to do something for a chance to win - and the focus is on saving money with holiday decor and gifts. So mull over the ways you make your holiday fantastic and frugal, and then go enter!

In the interests of smelling good,

or making sure that the people around you smell good, you may want to check out Caswell-Massey. They're offering free shipping today (December 1) on all orders. Use the code BFCMSHIP and get something nice. I'm a big fan of the Almond & Aloe line - smells fantastic!