Friday, August 31, 2007

First day as volunteer

Since I (well, WE) have 70 hours of volunteer time to put in at the kids' school this year, I have jumped in as soon as I could to get what I can done before February.

Today, I made a bunch of photocopies and organized next week's homework folders for DS1's class (2 grade levels, about 10 different math homework sheets, and a cover page). Oh, and right after I got there, I went out on a fire drill with them, but they didn't actually need me for that except for the part where they couldn't find the red binder with emergency cards. And then I read out the weekly spelling test to 3 of the groups. They didn't need me to check them, but in quickly looking over the sheets, I'd say most kids got about 80 or 90%. Smart kids :)

After that, I went to my fabric store and bought up a bunch of clearance yarn and fairly inexpensive plastic placemats - the yarn for the lunchtime indoor program (they have someone willing to teach crochet, along with people donating board games) and the placemats to liven up the cafeteria a bit. Money spent on stuff for the school can count toward hours, so it's not straight altruism.

I need to get my driving record from the DMV and I'll be all set to go on field trips.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Because I don't get the paper everyday anymore...

Baby Blues

I'm not sure how I originally got here, because the website is only supposed to run 2 weeks late, but anyway.

Series this week on third babies :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bit frustrating, though.

As of today in karate, everyone is learning that I am preggo. Now no one wants to hit me.


Life is sooooo hard sometimes.

Not even in the shoulder! I don't mind at all if they don't actually hit me on the femoral triangle pressure points (the points of the hip bones), because that's awfully close to ground zero, but they - especially my friends the geek boys - are a bit freaked.

But hey, I got a black tip, so I am 1/3rd of the way to my next belt. DS2 will get his gold tip tomorrow in class (I went tonight after a parent-teacher meeting at school, which conflicted with the kids' class times). DS1 passed his red tip test last week, so he will get his orange belt and move up to the intermediate class this Thursday. Yay!

But what you REALLY have been waiting for...

Wondering why I have been tired and sick so much lately?

Wondering why I haven't labeled any posts "PMS" for a while?

Ah yes. That would be our new baby, Condom Failure Jr.


14 weeks along and happy as a clam. Due end of February (overdue and we could have a Leap Year baby).

It is healing in a way, since my miscarriage of a surprise pregnancy last year. But, y'know. We thought we were DONE.

Vacation photos!

All I had was a lousy one-time-use camera, so the pictures are a bit meh.

DS2 with camera. This is actually a pic taken LAST summer on vacation. It took that long to finish that camera and then get it developed. It captures the spirit of adventure that the kids feel when presented with a camera of their own.

Basic blocking set, ma'am! Karate above Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, CA.

Contemplative DS1. The tiny grey blobs next to his head are the edge of the only island in all of Lake Tahoe.

Silly DS1. Falls above Emerald Bay.

DS2. Same falls.

No idea if this is Emerald Bay or not, but most likely, since those are the same clothes. Cool tree, though. We saw one later that was hollow like this, but they had reinforced it with concrete.

Granny (my mom) on the beach in front of the Norse-inspired house, Vikingsholm. Those are Stellars (sp?) Jays in the foreground.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Phooo... Mom, you're in trouble now!

Good news: my big brother's getting married!

Odd news: my mom told him that I probably wouldn't go. Huh? Well, I booked the tickets while still on the phone with him. Whole family. 5 days in Louuuuusiana in October.

Odder news? The engagement happened before I talked to him for about an HOUR on his birthday in April and he never mentioned it. No really. Not a breath. Just that he and his GF were talking about living on some of her parents' land so they could keep goats. So really, he's in trouble with me for that. Well, and he didn't call me on my birthday. But anyway.

I also told him my news, which will become public in the next couple days. So we both left the conversation outrageously happy.

I think maybe we rely too much on Mom to pass our news back and forth - I assumed he was calling because Mom told him to and he was confused by that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ethelred the Unready

I've been messing around with genealogy again, now that the kids are in school and I can slouch here for a couple of hours at a time without being interrupted for milk or DVDs or world war three.

I followed the link back from my great-grandfather Victor E.'s line, through his mother, relying completely on other people's family trees (in case I haven't mentioned it, I love, and have found that oh, about 30 generations back from him, I am descended from Ethelred the Unready of England, 968 - 1016.

I mean, unless there were mistakes made in all these charts and we didn't quite make it to the Stricklands and Curwens.

Oh, and via Victor's wife, a Clawson, I am related to Pres. James A. Garfield. Which is funny because one of my best college friends married a direct descendant. Not that WEIRD, really, because my family has lots of roots in Ohio and in the Hiram, Ohio area - James A. was president of Hiram College for a while. So now E. and I are 9th cousins or something by marriage.

I am still trying to find the link between Victor E. and the Wright brothers. Using's One World Tree thing, you can click on a link looking for famous relatives. Your relatives have to be matched to people on One World Tree, so I had to go back several generations, then the site came up with 8th cousins or so. But the Wright boys came to visit the Michael farm and the farm boys played tricks on their town "cousins," and my grandfather remembers having them visit when they were older, so there has to be a link a whole lot closer than the 17th century.

They are definitely linked through the church. We have a Bishop of the United Church of Brethren, Andrew Zeller, stomping around founding churches in Ohio in about 1800 (and about 5 generations back, Zellers who allegedly hung out with Zwingli in Switzerland). Orville and Wilbur Wright's father was a Brethren bishop in the same general area of SW Ohio in about 1900. Oh, and the Brethren later became/merged with the Methodists.

I'm still not having a lot of luck with the Germans. Loads of 'em from all over what is now Germany and the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. There's a German census that's apparently online now, so I have to dig through that, though from what little I looked at a couple of months ago it seems to be either too early or too late for the families that came to America.

Last edit, I swear: I have ancestors whose last name is Boger. *giggle*

Monday, August 20, 2007


It's 5:40 am and I've been awake since about 3, when DS2 crawled into our bed, across my foot. After half an hour, I thought it was that I needed to pee, so I did. Then an hour and a half later I decided that maybe I was hungry and should get up and have a snack and go back to bed. And a half hour after that, I said to heck with it and here I am. A friend is giving the kids a ride to school, so once they are on their way, I am going back to bed.

DS1's teachers are having a parent/welcome meeting this evening. I hope I can take the kids along, especially because the Kindergarten playground is fenced. DS2's class meeting is Thursday, so I will likely have to work something out with DH.

Maybe I'll go try to go back to sleep for the next hour. Maybe if I do get back to sleep, I can shove DH out of bed at 7 to make the kids' lunches and make sure they eat and get dressed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hooray! Waaaah! Yippeee! Boohoo!

My little, teeny, tiny, baby boy, Darling Son Two, started Kindergarten today. sniff

He can't read yet and even his older brother who can doesn't read blogs, so I'm safe in calling him a teeny, tiny baby.

We had gone to the open house yesterday, so had seen the classes and met the teachers and found out that there would be 5 or 6 other kids from DS1's class last year in his class this year, etc. This morning, I told DS1 that I was going to take DS2 into his class and he said "OK. Bye." and took off for his own class. So I went in with DS2 and re-met his teachers and went with all the other kids and parents into the K playground and pretty soon told him goodbye and he wandered off to play.

I then talked to one of DS1's teachers from last year, then went to give DS1 and official goodbye, then talked to a friend from book group who had just dropped her child off for K - Hi M! - and was walking back past the K playground just in time to see DS2 sitting alone on a low wall and a teacher going between him and two boys. I turned around and went back to his class and he was still sitting alone and looking a bit lost. I have no idea what happened with the other boys, but he had just realized, really and concretely, that what we had been saying along, that his friends from his preschool and his bestest buddy and friends from playgroup are going to different schools. Even the one friend who does go to that school is in a different class.

So somehow I survived the day without my guys (Got some sewing done! Went to the store alone!) and went back to get DS2. He seemed a bit tired and neutral, but OK. I asked if he made friends and he shrugged "I guess so. Some." So I suggested that he at least met some people and some of them would get to be his good friends and he thought about it and looked a little more happy about it. Best buddy-ness isn't built in a day, but he's a happy, mostly agreeable kid and I'm not worried.

There is only an hour between pick up times for K and for everyone else and it's a good 20 minute drive each way (insert rant about the district deciding to move our school, along with several other charter schools they house), so DS2 and I went and had a non-nutritious snack at the nearby grocery store and picked up a bag of chips to share with DS1.

We got back to the school a bit early and sat down and waited. And waited. And waited. Pretty soon, all the other classes were out except his. (And it was in the upper 90's today.) So, finally, the door opens and kids start coming out. And there's DS1, hobbling across the room. Day One and he has tripped on the (truly abominable and crumbling - a sub-topic of my rant about the district moving us) blacktop on the playground and skinned the shhhhoot out of both knees. I'm not sure how much the wounds still hurt, but they had put huge bandaids on them and so I'm sure that every time he moves a leg, he is restrained by those, too. Ah well, I was thinking we wouldn't go to karate anyway because they would need to rest and this was an extra reason.

And otherwise, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play? He had a good day, it sounds, except for the fall. They are watching the Great Muppet Caper and eating fruit and drinking milk, so I think that they need bigger lunches and that they won't be too hungry for supper.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

My top books of all time

"A friend of mine came up with a rather nifty question recently: compile a short list of books specifically meant to help somebody understand you. These are not (necessarily) non-fiction books that catalogue your particular disorders or quirks, but books that especially resonate with you, that express a facet of you in book form." Says Candy of the Smart Bitches website.

So I'm putting it here instead of in their comments because I have a feeling that I'll be adding more and more. Leave me a comment and/or link to your blog to let me know yours!

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen - I read it for the first time in high school and I didn't really get all the layers of comedy in it, but I wanted to beeeeeeee Elizabeth Bennett and came from a large family with some very silly sisters and was in love with Darcy. I didn't know then that 99% of women agreed - or would, once the BBC got Colin Firth to play Mr. Darcy...

, Jane Austen - because Austen really captured the regrets of a life lived following others' rules and the attempt to get back what you lost.

Jane Eyre
, whichever Bronte it is, probably Charlotte - before I ever read Austen, back in junior high or maybe even 4th or 5th grade, I got this book from my grandparents' house when we were emptying it out, and was I ever swept away. Now I reread it and the melodrama sort of sticks in my craw, but, hey, that was the goal of the Brontes. I never did understand the point of Wuthering Heights, by the other Bronte sister though. *ducks*

The Hitchhiker's Guide books, Douglas Adams - I've never been deeply into sci-fi, but have always loved these. Whenever I do read some sci-fi, I can see the traditions and parallels that Adams draws and makes fun of. The radio version of this is forever linked in my mind to a radio comedy about the tooth fairy that I heard at about the same time - I'd say late 70's.

Harry Potter #1 - #7, JK Rowling - I read the first four in about two days when DH gave me the boxed set in paperback a few years ago for Xmas. Then I re-read them. Then I re-read them. Then I got excited ;) #5 is my favorite, though it's the one that lots of other people don't like so much. I think she really dug down and showed the essence of Hogwarts and magic. Or something.

The Highly Sensitive Person, Elaine Aron - self-help book for those of us who get overwhelmed by the noise and hustle of life. Not even so much self-help and self-recognition. Hey, it's OK if I can't handle crowds and loud noise and going out after being with people all day. I'm not a freak. I don't need to get thicker skin. I do need to spend time alone. I'm not the only one. Woah. Breakthrough.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving - I have mostly liked all of his books, but this one gripped me more than most.

Most of Kurt Vonnegut, especially Slaughterhouse Five.

I love Jennifer Crusie, especially Faking It and Bet Me, but I wouldn't say they have changed my life, more opened my mind a bit more to a good writer, which made me think that maybe I could write. We're still waiting to see on that.

All of Laura Ingalls Wilder and The Chronicles of Narnia because Mom read them to us more than once and so they are very deeply rooted. More "formed my life" than "changed my life."

Ditto Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time and, well, most of the books she wrote.

In no particular order, of course.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

When you stay in a hotel, never open your door to....

your children.

Not if they are 5 and 7 and are already in an ongoing tussle/debate about whose turn it is to open the door with the key card. Oh, the heavenly joy and excitement of it being one's turn to use the key card! Oh the dashed hopes when someone hears them coming and opens the door unthinkingly, unfeelingly, unlovingly before they get there. Even if she did open it because she heard her five-year-old crying and wailing and thought that someone had been hurt. Turns out he was just really really mad because Daddy said he couldn't use the key card.

So anyway, we had a really good trip to Lake Tahoe this weekend. We drove up I-80 on Saturday and spent the afternoon at the infamous Donner Pass - including watching the movie at the museum, which had my 5 yo worried about being snowed in and my 7 yo wondering why they didn't pick up the cows that died in the desert and take them along to use for food later. Because it's August and not even remotely cold, and because they already had to abandon a lot of their stuff including some wagons because they didn't have enough oxen anymore to pull it all. Oh, and we played in and around Donner Lake for a while.

We spent one night in a hotel in Truckee, which had a "cuzzi" which was too hot. The next day, we drove a ways down the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe and stopped in the state park and went swimming. It was cold (OK, 70's) and really windy and the waves were big. Can I tell you how big an advance it is for my 7 yo who has always hated having his face get wet or to feel out of control to wear a scuba mask and hold my hand and jump through waves that are way over his head?

Then we drove the rest of the way to South Lake Tahoe and stayed in a Days Inn close to the Nevada border, which meant that it was in a crowded area with few trees. But it had a pool and an "a-cuzzi" (building a word, syllable by syllable), the former was freezing, the later was lukewarm, but enough to keep one from freezing. We were also within walking distance of Chaat's Cafe where we had decent Indian food that night (DS1 had a hot dog and DS2 had some naan bread) and a sushi place (can't remember the name) that was quite good (and the kids had plain white rice and DS1 had shrimp tempura).

The next day, Monday, we dropped my mom off at a laundromat while we were going to take a quick drive to Emerald Bay. Well, it took longer than I thought to drive there, the kids were on some really awful loud behavior, and then there was nowhere at all to park in the lots, so we stopped for a bit at the scenic overlook and went back for Granny. I dropped everyone at the hotel and went to the grocery store and got fruit and bagels and cream cheese.

After that, we headed back out to Emerald Bay and found a parking spot and hiked the mile down the Vikingsholm trail. The kids and DH played in the water a bit, but there weren't enough waves for DS1's taste. Then we went up to see the Lower Eagle Falls, then back down, then all the way up the Vikingsholm trail again. It's a fairly gently slope and very wide and smooth, just looooooong.

Emerald Bay has only a narrow opening onto the rest of the lake and is very calm and beautiful. Vikingsholm is a big house in a Nordic style commissioned by a woman with more money than sense in the 1920's. That's not fair, because it's a cool-looking house (from the outside - we didn't go on the tour) and the setting is fabulous. She also had a tea house built on the island in the bay - the only island in all of Lake Tahoe, the third deepest lake in the US, though only 20-ish miles long and 12-ish miles wide.

So after our Japanese restaurant (see above), I was ready to collapse and my mom and I stayed in the hotel room and chatted while DH took the kids out to the pool where they played and screamed for almost two hours. I finally went out and said they should come in and they barely dried off and put on their PJ's and lay down and WHAM they were asleep.

DS2 woke up this morning and asked if it were tomorrow, then was cross because it was morning and the night had gone too quickly. Ah, a sign of a day well spent!

This morning after Denny's, we went to Pope's Beach which is closer to South Lake Tahoe. It was chilly and windy, so the kids got wet, but spent much more time playing in the sand. After lunch of leftover cheese and bread and fruit, we piled in the car and headed out on I-50. We stopped not far over the pass because there's a trail to a waterfall. Turns out, it's a couple of miles and you end up still about a half mile away from the big falls. We just went the qurter mile to the small cascades lower down, because I am a grumpy spoilsport and climbing a mile over a barely-visible trail of rough boulders seemed a bit much after a busy weekend - especially with two young children, an out-of-shape tired wife, and a 60+ year old mother-in-law with a pinched nerve in her hip - just to relive the glory days of the one time DH hiked up a mountain with his dad when he was a teenager.

So grumpy old meany won and I drove the rest of the way home. I was thinking of stopping at Sutter's Mill just north of Placerville, but DS2 was asleep, I don't know what time they close for the day, and we were 45 minutes from home at that point. So here we are.

Pictures to come, um, soonish. We forgot the digital cameras and so I bought the one-use ones (a pack of two that was on sale at Long's drugs) and I will need to get them developed and then scan some pics....

Oh, and the bark of Ponderosa pines smells like vanilla. I had to get that in there. Especially since DS2 still has a patch of sap on his right cheek from two days ago due to sniffing trees.

Other stuff I found out: Lake Tahoe doesn't drain to the ocean, it goes down the Truckee River and through Reno and to another lake which then evaporates.

The lake was originally a low place among mountains, but volcanoes blocked the Truckee River and it filled up to some really deep depth (ah, numbers elude me), which is why it doesn't have islands.

The water going in is mainly from small creeks and swamps and is filtered before it gets there, which is why the lake is clear to an amazing depth.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Who needs underwear?

My mom made it safe and sound. Her first flight from Ohio was cancelled so she spent 2 hours in line to get rebooked. They put her on a different airline and told her she'd have to run. So she did and checked in and because she was rushing or because they're profiling white grannies just to be fair, she got the complete search and pat-down and just barely made that flight.

Then by the time they arrived in Dallas, she had missed her connecting flight back on the original airline - but that's OK, because she would have had four minutes to change planes in Las Vegas. So back to the second airline, the one she actually flew the first leg on, and hang around for a while, then get on that plane, then sit on the runway for 45 minutes while everything stopped due to storms in the area. But at least she was coming straight here and didn't have to change in Las Vegas.

So I had put off until the last minute leaving for the airport, forgetting that it was rush hour. I realized I was almost out of gas, so I stopped and was filling the tank at the time that her plane was supposed to be arriving. We "rush" the rest of the way to the airport - about 15 minutes - and park right across from the terminal so we won't have far to haul her suitcase. I can't find her flight arrival on the arrivals board, so am about to head off for baggage claim when we see her coming down the escalator, having JUST arrived.

So we hung out at the baggage claim carrousel. And waited. And waited. And nothing. And so off we go to the check-in for the airline that she did fly on, but they don't have it and no one is answering the phone at the airline that she was originally supposed to be flying on. The nice woman took all her info and my address and we headed home (stopped at McD's with playland for some nice healthy dinner, because it was after 7 by that point).

No suitcase. All night: no suitcase. All day: no suitcase. Mom called the number they gave and got an automated system that said her case had been picked up at 7 AM and should have been delivered within 6 hours. Uh, this was 8 hours after 7 AM already. Now it's 3 hours after that and still no sign.

Good thing we wear almost the same size. My shorts are hanging off her as if she were a teenaged boy, but she's clothed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What she says

And then don't even get me started on how low the low-cut hip-hugger pants think a size 18+ woman should wear. Um, I'm got a belly hangin' out the front and when I bend over, I get plumber's crack.

Mom jeans all the way!

P.S. Mom's flight schedule has been re-rearranged and then delayed due to storms in Dallas, so she's supposed to get in at about supper time.

A short reprieve

We were supposed to go get my mom from the airport a bit before noon today, but she called and said she will be on a later flight and will come in a bit before 6. I didn't ask why it had changed, because she called before 7 am. So anyway, we have a few more hours to get the floor swept and the kitchen mopped.

I can also take the boys to their swimming lesson, which we were going to have to skip.

But it means we won't go to karate tonight *or* tomorrow (as I'll be working tomorrow), so will definitely have to go on Friday for a makeup, which makes me cringe because it'll be Hawaiian Buddy Day and only part of it will be actual class time. Ah well. The rest of the time will be training with my brand new six-foot staff, which I got last week in class and which doesn't really fit into my car very well.

Speaking of which, I went to my first intermediate class last night and this cycle we're doing what they're calling "pressure point fighting." In other words, learning a sequence of hits aimed at pressure points to slow your opponent down without shedding blood or breaking anything. It definitely hurts, though, if the ouchiness of B___ barely bumping my radial nerve, definitely not full force, is anything to go by.