Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Thomas the Tank Engine recall

Not Thomas, himself, but James is affected, as well as just about everything red and a couple of brown and yellow things. We have two James (and their tenders), a Skarloey, and a Sodor Line caboose that are painted with lead. The Jameseses are slightly different, so I'm not positive that they are both recalled. We also have a similar but not the same Christmas caboose. I'm emailing.
to get info on what was recalled and how to return them.

I just want to wash my hands over and over and over now.

This blog is rated G

Online Dating

Not sure how. Don't I sometimes at least discuss PG subjects? Hmm. Maybe not.

(Thanks Liza Lee)

Monday, June 25, 2007

25 days!

Until Harry Potter #7 hits the stores! Wooooohooo! I need to be sure I ask for that day off work.

I got "The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes" (Jennifer Crusie, Eileen Dreyer, and um, someone. Oh Anne Stuart) late last week, even though it's not officially out until tomorrow. Don't know why, but B&N sent it out. Good book. Three main characters, three love interests (four if you count the VP), one "bad guy" sort of made it unfocused and I think everyone could have used a lot more depth. But a fun read.

I have about 30 books out of the library right now and 5 more holding for me and I haven't re-read all the HP books yet and am down to less than a month to do it in. Oh, and a bunch of books from the library book sale and a few new ones from Amazon... I'll have to prioritize and turn some things in without reading them.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The kindness of strangers

After our anonymous neighbor sent us a postcard about our lawn and I got over the inital outrage and then laughter at the man's expense, I sighed and thought that well, maybe now's a good time for a new lawnmower, since we have a small reel one that is dull and can't handle tall grass and I hate mowing the lawn more than I ever have before.

The kids and I got an electric mower today - the Black and Decker that was a Consumer Reports best buy. I thought it would fit in our trunk. It might haveif the box weren't just a half an inch bigger than the opening of the trunk. It might have fit in the back seat, but my kids are little and need to be in the back seat.

I was about to return it and then call a friend to come get it when it was convenient for her to squeeze it into the back of her minivan.

Now this sounds like I'm just stupid, but a woman was going past just then and was going to help me get it in and offered the back of her pickup. She followed us home and we unloaded it and I gave her a bottle of wine (one I hadn't tried before and it was fairly, ahem, inexpensive, so I hope it was drinkable). Total stranger, a woman who was probably 50-ish years old, reminded me a bit of one of my coworkers, who would do that sort of thing, too, I am sure.

Of course, I was required - by the kids, but also out of curiosity - to try it out as soon as we got home, so I did a small section. I kept almost running over the cord - it's going to get some getting used to. It was only about 90 with sun beating down at 1 pm. It was a very small section. The kids were very, very excited by the bag. I'd rather leave the mulch on the lawn myself, but hey, they got to see the clippings.

Can't move my arms

First I'd like to say that DS1 (the 7 year-old) got his gold belt yesterday. Woohoo way to go baybeeee! He's loud and proud. We're all gold belts until next month when DS2 (almost 5) and I move to orange. Well, I move to orange and he gets a junior orange belt (white with an orange stripe). Assuming we keep our attitude and hard work up, of course.

Today we all went to the Friday karate classes, which for me is a combination of a makeup day and what they call Black Belt Club, which is for everyone with gold belt with a black tip (halfway through gold towards orange - which is where I am right now) and up to do some of the black belt curriculum.

Since it's the last day of the cycle and everyone has tip tested and belt tested and all, the teacher decided to start on the new curriculum.

The bo staff.

It's a six-foot staff, an inch+ in diameter and it weighs a ton. Well, at the beginning of the class, it wasn't so bad. You're supposed to keep two hands on it at all times and treat it with respect and try not to break your own ribs. After a while of waving it over your head, you get a bit sweaty and you really start feeling it. We're going to be buff by the end of the next two months.

So now I decide if I want to get my own (surprisingly inexpensive when bought through the dojo) and go for it, or just stick to my own classes. I think I'm going to go for it. If I can't use my arms when I get up in the morning, I might rethink that.

But this is real karate geek territory. Like ninjas or samurais or Dungeons and Dragons. Can you imagine me with a fighting staff in my closet? Duuuuuuude.

ETA: We're going to have to learn to count to ten in Japanese and we have to learn the parts of the stick, too. Chu-shin is the center. The ends are Key-something? And the striking parts (edges near the ends) are micha- or mugu- or something-something. Yeah, it was the first day. I can find Japanese numbers on the Net, but not those.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

This is just amazing is working today, so I started entering some information. My info about a distant GGGG+mother, Mehitabel Kingman, died 1772, mother of Ruth Wade, 4 more generations down to my grandmother. Anyway, it triggered ancestry to find someone else's family tree, so now I have 4 more generations on top of her. Woah. Dude. Check it out. People being born in the 16th century in England and dying in the 17th in Bridgewater, Plymouth, Mass. (Or, more worryingly, Salem, Mass.)

And then I get to Fanny Goodrich (b 1782, parents were first cousins) and WHAM, it's got 5 generations running around in Connecticut. OK, once you get to one set of the grandparents, it's the same on both sides.

I'm now going to enter the bare essentials of my dad's side that my grandma did 20 or so years ago. We smack into Germany pretty early on for grandpa's side, of course.

P.S. Hey Mom! Is Otis Shepardson the Civil War Captain (?) who ran off with his secretary? I have Lydia on Grandma's chart and have an Elizabeth as his wife elsewhere. Oh wait, it just came up with a Mary E on a census record as his wife in 1880 and 30 or 40 years younger. So where did I get an Elizabeth Johnson?

P.P.S. I think Elizabeth must be Lydia's mom. But why is she in the census as George J's grandmother Johnson when Lydia's maiden name was Calvin? Remarriage, I guess. I made a hash of adding her in a couple of weeks ago. I'm trying to figure out how to unlink and clean up and erase. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The horror! The horror!

My mom sent a stack of genealogy things (Thank you! Most of these are originals, Mom, is that what you meant to do? And is this David's handwriting?). Woohooo!

And goes to a blank screen when I try to sign in and flashes like it's busy, but nothing ever comes up. Augh!

Oh sigh.

Good news is that this morning, I wrote a new scene of about 1500 words.

The boys have watched hours and hours and Rocky and Bullwinkle and we went to the grocery store for the second day running. Different store, different items. More bananas. I bought 8 yesterday and there was one left.

Later, we're going to something about masks at the library. I'm not sure if they're making them or what. Probably. Could be entertaining.

DH has been working at home today and I have to go to work at the fabric store this evening.

That's about it for all the news. I need to go finish quilting that butterfly quilt I have had lying around for a couple of months. I'd better email the person I'm doing it for, because I bet it's due yesterday.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Officially summer now

Our first week day with no school. We had to change out of our PJs to take DS2 to his karate class at 5 PM. They did puzzles this morning, played and argued this afternoon. Watched Rocky and Bullwinkle some.

DS2 then messed around with the Pingu and Bob the Builder websites, then we came across the Art Attack site on the Hit Entertainment site and it was all over. DS2 had to make a newspaper dog. Or rather, I was required to do 3/4ths of the work in rolling paper and taping and such, then we both glued strips of paper towel on. It had to go outside to dry (95 degree dry heat is good for something) and now he is painting it in multi-color spots. To say it is even odder than the one on the website is an understatement.

I started a new story today. I seem to be stuck in meeting the characters and they're info-dumping right and left, but I promise they'll be going out to sneak around in the woods soon. I'll try to work it into the story a bit better to develop the characters, but that's later. It's about 3500 words already.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Little Boy Blue is officially old

My blue Corolla got to 100,000 miles just before we pulled into the driveway Friday evening. I was excited, the kids not so much. I've really been itching lately to get a new car (well, probably a used one), and this makes me want to even more. BUT it's such a good car and is likely to last another few years. Besides that I just poured another $1,400 into it. Sigh.

Friday, June 15, 2007

School's out, teacher let the monkey out

Not much to report today. DS1 had his last day of school. I use the term "school" rather loosely in reference to this week. They had outdoor game day, board game day, luau day, and water play day. Today, they had a fathers' day brunch and then a completion ceremony where each kid got a diploma. Then it was only 10:15 and the rest of the morning (it was a minimum day, so they were getting out at noon) was to play and to have a picnic lunch. In 100 degree weather. We signed DS1 out early and came home so DH could head off to work.

I spent about an hour trying to get the CD-ROM/DVD yearbook to work. The DVD player just spits it back out. I gave up for a while and then finally found that it has to be read ONLY in Win XP (not 98 or 2000), and ONLY in Windows Media Player 11 (not 9 or 10). Ah. Good thing we have so many partitions and auxiliary (read: ancient, but still used for memory) in our PC.

We have about 3 weeks before they might or might not get places in the summer camp at ds2's school (which now goes preschool through about 3rd grade), then swimming lessons a couple of weeks after that starts. Otherwise, we're hanging out and going to karate classes. Since the weather's already scorching, I'd like to head out to the mountains or the coast one weekend sooner instead of later. I wonder if they still have openings in the next session of swimming lessons. At the very least, we need to spend a lot of time in the wading pool.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I got a new feeder and one of those thistle seed bag things and hung them outside my front windows. I don't think to look, necessarily, but today at noonish, I walked out and found a little brown bird with a crest that I hadn't seen before. About the size of a sparrow, but skinnier.

I know what it is.

It's a bird.

(My intention with this post is to drive my mom nuts)

Sounds about right

You Are a Boston Creme Donut

You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you.

But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft.

You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily.

You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.

Tee hee!

Asphalts Chilly

Hatch Laps Silly

Chap Salty Hills

Yacht Pals Shill

A Staph Chill Sly

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Good idea gone bad

The library is starting its summer reading program. The theme is Super Readerpants or something of the sort, and there's a theme of vintage toys somehow in there. Anyway, someone had the idea to give the kids their packet of info and a reading list and so on with a paddle ball. Well, the paddle ball thing is cheap cr**. DS1's had the elastic slip off before he ever used it. Luckily, I could fix it. DS2's elastic broke, right up next to the ball. I managed to reattach, then it broke even closer, so now I can't do anything else without a better piece of elastic, a sharp needle, and a lot of luck.

Poor little boy is crying in his room.

My very own geek boy

Y'know how I've talked about the super-intense, super-loud guys in my karate class?

Well, DS1 has taken it to heart that he needs to be loud. Every time they say to be louder, he is. Then they praise him for being loud or point him out as an example of loudness so he gets louder. Right now, he's screaming and likely to tear up his throat. They've started asking him to be maybe not quite so loud.

Ooooooh! Aaaah!

I emailed Dh's dad and uncle, asking if they had done any family tree work or knew of any. Onkel Walter very kindly emailed me back, attaching the tree and data following their mother's side of the family with her siblings and their kids. I'll be busy transferring them to my tree now! Interesting to find out if anyone has done the same for their dad's side.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Today, we got an anonymous postcard from "a neighbor" asking us to mow our lawn. It has been just about 2 weeks and some of the crab grass has sent up tall shoots, otherwise, it is a uniform height of about 3 1/2 to 4 inches, mostly clover. Gorgeous dark green with flowers.

Now, I know it needs to be mowed a bit more often. It's not even that big, being a California lawn. DH did it last time, but barely notices it until I ask him to do it.

How many guesses that it's the same older man who stopped by a few weeks ago and asked for the landlord's phone number when I was out front playing with my son? And it had been about 2 weeks that time, too.

And the fact that the postcard said we need to teach our children about responsibility and self respect by mowing the lawn.

Thanks. Got plenty o' self respect, jerk wad. No respect for idiots, though. Mind your own darn business. Go live in one of those gated communities for retirees where you get fined if you don't live up to a bizarre, twisted set of artificial rules for turf maintenance. It ain't a putting green, it's a place for kids to play. I guess that's another thing - no kids playing out front. Wouldn't want to actually SEE our neighbors, would we?

Dang, I'm mad.

Monday, June 11, 2007


The horror! The horror!

My mom went out of town *gasp* BEFORE sending me the genealogy stuff! She won't be back until Thursday! My head may explode!

OK, OK, deep calming breath.

I have decided to mess around with my mom's dad's dad's side of the family tree, looking up siblings and cousins and such of Victor E., since it was through him that we are related to the Wright brothers. The link's probably in the stuff my mom will send, but the sense of discovery is fun, too.

So my sticking points right now are:
The L_____ that came from Pomerania - date, boat, family brought and left behind, etc;
my dad's grandma's maiden name; and
if there was another Victor E. M_____ in Central Ohio at the same time as my GG-father in NE Ohio, or if there was something fishy going on (my mom said "I wouldn't put it past him" - this was not a terribly nice man, by most accounts, but I hadn't heard bigamy mentioned before)

Oh, and by linking up with someone else's family tree, I have found some ancestors who were in Maryland for the American Revolution. Quick. Call the DAR.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

He's HOW old?

DS2's school had their Kindergarten graduation party today and then got out early. School's over for them tomorrow, but because he was just there MWF, today was his last day. So now he's a Kindergartner. Yikes.

I need to go by tomorrow to firm up plans for both kids to go to the summer camp for a couple of weeks this summer (it's Montessori and is expanding up through elementary school. DS1 went to preschool and K with most of the kids who are still there and who are likely to be there over the summer. A bit of a shock to go back to those kids after a year away, but I think it will be fun for him. I hope.).

Maybe tomorrow he can say goodbye to people a bit better than he got a chance to do it today with all the teachers cleaning up from the party and the kids bouncing off the walls in the after care room.

DS1 has school all through next week - though they seem to be pretty much done with academics - then he's officially a second grader.

I posted this and then wanted to add: DS2 brought home his latest math workbook, which was counting groups of 100 and he finished the last 12 pages in about 15 minutes. Any ideas for fun math games or activities for a proficient counter? And math games for a fairly advanced second grader?

I realized today that starting now, I am not going to have a day off of SAHM-ing for just over a month. Oh yeah, we need stuff to do!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

*stall* whoops! *stall* whoops!

Got my Baby Blue back from Midas. The clutch pedal works like a hot knife through butter. The gears engage right away, no slipping, no waiting until the top of the pedal's range. So I keep stalling, as I am used to the pedal pushing back a bit and the sound and feel of a spring sproinging and then the gears not engaging.

It's a thing of beauty. :)

I had to turn in the Camry at Enterprise. *sniff*

My chiropractor says that they just got a Hyundai sedan for their daughters and love it, so that's another option - especially since it's a lot cheaper than a Toyota. I'll get out my Consumer Reports and geek out.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Geneology and history

Just thinking I should get into it someday. I was a History minor in college and frequently thought I should have dived into it more deeply and double majored.

Mom also brought up my German grandpa's grandpa, who is the [hard to spell last name here] who came to the US from Germany. She said early 1800's, but I thought it was more like 1870 (which would fit better with Grandpa's age, Mom). Anyway, they were having themselves a war and my Deutsche ancestors wanted out. 1870-ish was the time of the Franco-Prussian war, but in spite of having a few history classes that focused on France, I don't remember a whole lot about it.

Wikipedia: Franco-Prussian_War

Ah, learning lots of stuff. Various German states were annexed by Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, then Bismarck wasn't getting along with Napoleon III (not many people were, and Nap3 wanted a war to try to rally France behind him, so was trying to start a fight.) (I remember from French Lit classes that Victor Hugo had his finger in the anti-Nap3 propaganda. And weren't they making a total colonial hash of Mexico at the time?).

Basically, the Germans won and united Germany, Nap3 was captured early on and a new French Republic was declared, then the Germans laid siege to Paris and the Third Republic lost. Alsace-Lorraine went under German control again. The French wanted it back, which helped lead to WWI, then the humiliation of the Germans at the end of WWI helped lead to WWII, which led to the Cold War and the division of Germany. Etc etc.

And maybe I'll go back and read the whole Wikipedia article someday. It's heavy on sieges and dates. Anyone know of good historical fiction or even a readable history of this time and place? Then if I could place my ancestors - dates, places, times, etc - we could find out better if my brother's facetious claim that they were Prussian draft dodgers was true or if they were getting out because they were tired of getting blown up, or if it just seemed like a good idea at the time.

My new car!

I took Baby Blue, who is a Corolla just shy of 100K miles (like 300 miles shy!), to the shop this morning because while it had been revving sometimes when we accelerated lately, a certain husband of mine was feeling lead-footesque this weekend on some big hills and the smell of the burning rubber was not so happy. Then it became hard to go up hills at all and we were slowing, slowing, slowing.

So they're putting in a new clutch. Plus the brake light was on because the rear brakes were pretty much toast. $1100+ for the clutch, $250+ for the brakes. Better than I figured it would be. Considering I haven't had any brake work done on it at all since we bought it 40K miles and 4 1/2 years ago, it was due.

But it won't be ready until this evening and I have those pesky kids to pick up from school and haul to and from karate and no other vehicle, so I rented a car for about 24 hours. It's a brand spanking new Camry - smells new, even - with so many buttons and levers to adjust the seats that I had to go back into the rental place so someone could show me how to scoot the seat back so I could even drive it. It then took me a few miles to figure out how to lower it so my head wasn't scraping the ceiling. I'm still not positive about the angle of the windshield and how it feels like it's obscuring the top part of my field of vision. That would only be a problem for a very few stop lights and for spotting low-flying aircraft.

Anyway, gimme one of these, maybe in a hybrid. Definitely in a more exciting color than Standard Silver - though if it's used, then silver's fine, too. In a couple of years this specific car will be up for grabs, I am sure. By then, Baby Blue will be ready for more major repairs which will cost more than the trade-in value.

DH seems to think he's going to need his own car in the not too distant future. I am thinking he can have mine and I get the Camry ;)

Friday, June 1, 2007

What my mom wrote

Clarification from my mom. (Further clarification from me is that Pappy is her dad, Nanet is her mom, and Grandpa is my dad's dad, Uncle Bob is my dad's brother). Essentially, no warriors. We've got doctors, vets, farmers, and one postal worker, but no major fighting.

"In re grandfathers in wars: Pappy had arthritis, narcolepsy, and was in an "essential industry" (small farm farmer)
Grandpa was "older" and he was German (Uh oh!)
Uncle Bob did other service when he was drafted. He worked in DC doing some kind of humanitarian work
Nanet's father was too old for WWI so worked in resettlement work with the YMCA and was sent to Japan and Vladivostok, Russia
Pappy's father was too old, too."