Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where Did November Go?

I am always sort of sorry to see NaBloPoMo end. I enjoy posting regularly. My problem with November is that it is such a busy birthday month for us I end up doing a lot of quick and not particularly thoughtful posts. Oh well. I always intend to continue posting more frequently into December - we'll see.

The other trouble I have in November is that I find it really difficult to keep up with everyone else's blogs, especially those of you who are also posting daily. There are several HUNDRED posts sitting in my reader. So I'm just a bit behind.


Am I the only one who feels like this month just FLEW by? I swear I was just feeling like November had sort of crept up on us and now it is over already.

Our Christmas decorating is on hold while I wait for one more strand of lights to arrive - I forgot that I was supposed to order two more to finish relighting our tree... My goal is to have it finished by Sunday (the lights should arrive tomorrow) before the Packer game. Watching football beside the glow of the Christmas tree is just about my perfect evening.


For book club next month (next week!) we are reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. This is the kind of book that I have heard so much about, has gotten so much positive attention, I really feel like I should read it. (The Kite Runner was another of those books for me.) BUT the subject matter, from a distance, didn't really grab me. It didn't seem like something I'd necessarily enjoy reading, but another book club member recommended it and I had no problem giving it a try. I'm not even 50 pages in and I cannot believe how compelling it is. I have a history of coming late to good books, especially if they aren't children's books. Why is that?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Our Elf on the Shelf is back!

The other morning Harper said to me, in reference to our elf, "Mom, I don't believe in most magic, but I really believe in Snowy!"

It was a shot right to the heart - I can practically hear the clocking ticking as these days of belief and wonder trickle away and I am going to treasure every last moment of them.


Michael told me excitedly about how he had leaned over to pick something up, while on one foot, without falling (oh, my balance-challenged boy!). He was so proud as he exclaimed, "I did not even lose my balance beam!"


We had to eat dinner without Matt tonight and, in a last minute fit of inspiration, we decided to eat by candlelight, with Christmas music playing. The kids loved it! Part way through dinner Harper noticed snow in the headlight beams of the cars driving by. The first snow, and a very little bit of it was sticking to the lawn. Harper and Michael were so excited they kept getting out of their chairs to look out the kitchen window. It was annoying - I'm generally a fan of everyone staying in their seats for dinner - but very sweet at the same time.

Ah Winter, I think we are ready for you. Please come and leave again by March.


Our Elf on the Shelf is back!

The other morning Harper said to me, in reference to our elf, "Mom, I don't believe in most magic, but I really believe in Snowy!"

It was a shot right to the heart - I can practically hear the clocking ticking as these days of belief and wonder trickle away and I am going to treasure every last moment of them.


Michael told me excitedly about how he had leaned over to pick something up, while on one foot, without falling (oh, my balance-challenged boy!). He was so proud as he exclaimed, "I did not even lose my balance beam!"


We had to eat dinner without Matt tonight and, in a last minute fit of inspiration, we decided to eat by candlelight, with Christmas music playing. The kids loved it! Part way through dinner Harper noticed snow in the headlight beams of the cards driving by. The first snow, and a very little bit of it was sticking to the lawn. Harper and Michael were so excited they kept getting out of their chairs to look out the kitchen window. It was annoying - I'm generally a fan of everyone staying in their seats for dinner - but very sweet at the same time.

Ah Winter, I think we are ready for you. Please come and leave again by March.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Apparently this is my 900th post... That's a lot of online rambling. Perhaps a contest will be in order once I reach 1,000. I'll have to think about it.


I just finished placing our Elf on a Shelf out for the first night. This will mark the third year we've had an elf, Snowy, and I better be on my game because Harper told me this morning that she'd been up early looking for him.

There have been times the previous two years that we've forgotten to move Snowy at night. In the past it usually hasn't occurred to Harper to look for Snowy in his previous location. There have been a few mornings when we've had to scramble to relocate Snowy while stalling the children in their bedrooms.

We'll see how we do this year, I have a feeling it will be more difficult to convince Harper the magic is real if we goof this time around...

Any of you doing the elf thing this year?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

'Tis the Season

Did you hear a contented sigh a few minutes ago? That was me settling into the big chair in the living room and basking in the glow of Christmas lights.


We're really only about 75% there with the decorating. We can't find the remote that turns on the outside (very meager) lights. The top quarter of the (artificial, obviously, but beautiful nonetheless) Christmas tree still needs to be lit and attached. The tree needs to be decorated. The boxes need to go back downstairs. But we've got a good start on things.

For the next six weeks or so, this living room will be my favorite place in the house. I will happily read Christmas book after Christmas book by the light of the tree, listen to carols, and enjoy the Santas and snowmen and the Willow Tree Nativity I love.

Need a little Christmas joy to rub off on you? Stop by for a visit!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

We Made It

We are back in Ohio and, in some sort of Thanksgiving miracle, when we got to Urgent Care we were the only ones in the waiting room!

It still took an hour and a half (with bonus chest x-rays) for the doctor to determine that Michael is most likely coming down with pneumonia. I am not generally a fan of throwing antibiotics at a situation if not absolutely necessary - but the doctor said if he was coming down with pneumonia and we left it untreated it could get worse quickly. Given that we only slept two hours or less at a stretch last night, I was not terribly interested in worse.

For now Michael is sleeping peacefully. We've got instructions to keep him calm/restful for the next two days.

I will try keeping him glued to the couch with Christmas movies and books for the next 48 hours. Not such a bad sentence.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Have I made any silly statements about how healthy(ish) the kids have been? If so, I'm paying for it now.

Harper seems to be doing quite a bit better, but now Michael has a cough that won't quit. 

Please send good thoughts that we can get back to Ohio tomorrow and hold off on urgent care until Sunday...

Thursday, November 24, 2011


In no particular order:

-Loving family (ALL of them!)

-Terrific friends that stand the test of time and distance

-Plenty of good food

-New opportunities

-The crazy kiddos (especially when they're not hopped up on prednisone!)



-Hand-written letters

-The luxury it is to be watching television and typing from a beautiful kitchen in my parents' warm, welcoming home

Of course there is so much more, but those are the things that spring to mind at the moment.

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Time to Start the Music

My sister and I took Harper to see The Muppets this afternoon.

I loved it!

I have always been a Muppet fan, but the most recent Muppet movies haven't been so great. (Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets from Space I'm looking at you.) The movie had lots of fun musical numbers and the children in the theater seemed to enjoy it and find it funny, but the best parts (for me) were all the references to 80's pop culture.

It was rated PG, but I can't think of anything that I worried about Harper watching during the movie. (WHY are there no G-rated movies out there right now? Pet peeve!)

I am wondering how many of you have fond memories of the Muppets and whether you're planning on seeing the movie.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thank Goodness They Aren't Babies

We made the trek to Wisconsin today, where we will spend Thanksgiving with my extended family.

Despite the very persistent and enthusiastic rain we dealt with for most of the trip we got to Wisconsin (from Ohio) in just over seven hours. Two main things helped make the trip quick:

1) The kids can eat dinner in the car.

2) We only stopped twice. (Once for food and bathroom, then one more bathroom trip.)

I remember when Harper was a baby and these trips home involved many stops for feeding. Often Matt would go in and eat somewhere while I sat in the car and fed the baby. Then he'd get me food to go and I'd eat in the car. Our stops rarely lasted less than half an hour and we couldn't get home without several of them.

There were plenty of less than pleasant things about the drive - but really it just means the children were arguing in the back seat, rather than around the kitchen table. That's life.

This traveling thing is SO MUCH EASIER than it used to be. For that I am very thankful.

Monday, November 21, 2011


It is 11 p.m. Harper is STILL awake.  Why?

Two breathing treatments and a dose of prednisone. This is not what I expected when we went for her "well check" today.

It could be an interesting week. Please pardon me while I go bang my head against the wall.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Boy Genius

I'm relaying this little story second-hand, so Matt will have to correct me if I have the details wrong...

Matt and Michael were sitting in the living room tonight. The television was on (showing the Bears/Chargers game) but it was muted. Matt looks up to see a play and says, "Yes!"

Michael observes the same play and says, "Interception!"

He was right...

How did he know that?


My guess is that he was remembering a moment from the Packer game earlier in the afternoon when I said, "Yes! Interception!" But it's pretty good, either way.


Later I was asking Michael what an interception was when Harper piped up, "Isn't that when the players do something they aren't allowed to do? Wait... that's just a flag."

She still has a thing or two to learn about football.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Harper's "Friend" Party - A Really LONG Post with Lost of Pictures

I can't think of a better way to do this birthday party wrap-up post, so we'll sort of go one element at a time.

The basic facts:

       - party was comprised of 8 first grade girls, including Harper
       - party lasted two hours (long enough!)
       - dinner of pizza (carryout!), grapes, and carrots was served

The cake:

Did anyone really think I would get through birthday season without baking/attempting to decorate a cake?

Step One: Basic cake. Headache spared by not trying to cut it into particular shape, or even remove it from the pan.
Step Two: Cover in basic pink frosting. "Draw" outline for Harper's requested music note.

Step Three: Add chocolate frosting music note, attempt to stay in the lines, fail. Add sparkling accents. Harper was very concerned that I make the "slash" correctly. That's what she called the little detail on the music note.
Step Four: Admire sparkling accents closely... Harper LOVED those sprinkles.

The Goody Bags/Decorations:
First grade girls' goody bags: fruit snacks (last minute addition to bulk up bags), sticker sheet, two fun pencils, smiley face bracelet, ring pop, Bonnie Bell lip gloss.
I totally struggle with goody bags. I don't want to spend a fortune on them, but I don't want to fill them with cheap junk either. I don't want to give a lousy goody bag, especially when some kids give really nice gifts. I also don't want to give a goody bag that costs more than the average gift. Also, this soon after Halloween, I don't want to give all candy.

Goody bag / paper products table. We were actually pretty cleaned out of paper plates, etc. so we splurged on matching stuff from the party store. Turns out our "theme" was on sale.
We always splurge on fun balloons for the kids' parties, it is generally the only "decorating" I manage. I heart the owl balloon.
Harper had her heart set on a banner this year and it didn't break the bank either. I like that it is easy to store/reuse. Let me know if you want to borrow it! (Seriously.)
The Activities: 

For about the first five minutes or so the kids just ran around like crazy as everyone arrived. It was insane. I wonder whether the parents were grateful to be dropping their children off, or concerned that I apparently had NO CONTROL over the situation...

I remembered late this week that I had some extra shrinky dink sheets - the kind you just draw on, not the pre-printed ones. I thought we'd start with those while Matt was out getting the pizza. The kids were pretty happy to draw on their pieces and no one freaked out and asked for a new one. I'd warned them ahead that I didn't have any extras. (I baked them while the kids were eating).

We ate about 15 minutes into the party. There was a burping contest going on the whole time - what the heck? The girls were MUCH more rowdy that I'd expected. I'm pretty sure one little girl didn't anything except dessert. I figured she'd be okay since the party was only two hours long.

After pizza/grapes/carrots/pretzels/juice I decided we needed to do a calm-ish activity. I gathered the girls in the living room for some charades. We used the cards from our Kids on Stage game. I just had the girls take turns being the "actress." They drew a card out of a cup and acted it out. Anyone could guess what they were or were doing. We did not do any score keeping. Each girl was able to act out two cards. Once everyone had had a turn, they each acted out one more. The girls enjoyed this more than I thought - I was worried someone wouldn't want to do the acting part, and made it clear that no one had to do it if she didn't want to. (Side note, I kind of hated birthday parties as a kid, I was afraid of having to participate in games I didn't understand or wasn't good at...)

We were half way through the two-hour party time when charades were wearing out their welcome so we headed back to the table for singing and eating cake:

The sparkling 7 was a pretty candle but the flame was impossibly small. 

Opening gifts was the next logical step. It feels sort of strange to have everyone sit around and watch Harper open gifts, but that is pretty much standard for a birthday party.

After the gifts were open we were about half an hour from the end of party time. For the next several minutes we let the kids dance around with a video camera connected to the TV so they could watch themselves. I took that idea directly from Giselle and I would like to thank her because they loved it!

We do not have a tripod but made do by placing the camera on the entertainment center. It worked OK. The girls liked getting really close to it, which made me nervous, but they couldn't really knock it down so I don't know what I was worried about.
After ten? fifteen? minutes of dancing, the girls got a little wild - after the third or forth time Matt suggested they not throw things, it was time to transition to another activity.

We ended the evening by using the white board to play a drawing game - basically the exact same thing we did earlier but with markers instead of acting. I think every girl had had one turn and then the parents began to arrive.

All in all I would say the party was a success - the girls had fun and I'm pretty sure there were no tears.

Final thoughts:

- I should have had a calm activity (we made some coloring pages I should have used) set out as the girls arrived to try and avoid the first few minutes of everyone going completely insane.

- I should have waited to turn music on until the actual dancing time, again, to avoid some of the insanity.

- Eight girls was probably one or two girls too many. But which girls not to invite? These were all pretty good friends of Harper's. We could have easily invited three or four more. I'm so glad we didn't!

- Two hours was a great amount of time. If we hadn't been serving dinner it would have been too long.

- One of my concerns about "friend" parties is the gift part. As a parent I know it is difficult to buy gifts for a child you might not know that well. There are also a handful of things that are popular that I really don't want Harper to have - happily none of them appeared tonight!

If you read all of this, you deserve a treat. Do you want some leftover cake?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Little Girls

Tomorrow seven first grade girls will come over to celebrate Harper's birthday. When we started discussing birthday plans we decided Harper could choose to have one friend come out to dinner and a movie or have a few friends over for a simple party at the house. She chose party!

So the party is tomorrow. There is a cake on the counter waiting to be frosted. Harper and I will assemble goody bags in the morning. I think it will be just fine, although I keep going back and forth wondering whether I have too much planned or not enough. We'll see. I'm sure you'll be holding your breath, waiting for updates!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Dear Harper,

We have one celebration behind us (last Saturday, with family) and one ahead (this coming Saturday, with friends), but today is your actual birthday.

Seven years old.

This feels like a big year for you. It is your first year at school all day long. Your first year eating lunch away from us on a daily basis. Your first year with regular homework. Your first year with art class! First grade is the real deal and you, of course, are taking it in stride.

Not only do I remember my own first grade year fondly, first grade is the grade I taught (for four years) before becoming your mom. First grade is familiar territory to me, and yet it feels brand new in so many ways, experiencing this year as a parent and watching you meet the challenges of your time as a first grader.

What has changed about you in the last year? You are bigger of course, growing too tall for your pants at an alarming rate. You are a more comfortable and accomplished reader - a fact that has brought both of us hours of delight.  I love being able to discuss books with you and watch you branch out on your own. The Rainbow Magic Fairies series is a favorite right now and yet, even as we buy them (dozens at a time, it seems!) I know they will rest on your shelf briefly and you will be on to bigger and better things. Your writing has blossomed, too, and I love reading the stories you concoct almost as much as I love the fact that it is no longer agonizing to work with you on thank you notes! You've even started writing in a journal of sorts, given to you by your Aunt Molly last year around this time. And you have pen pals, a sure sign that you are, in fact, my daughter.

You are so confident Harper. This is both a good and challenging thing, at your age. Your teacher tells us that you often need to be reminded that you, in fact, are not the one in charge in your classroom. You have a lot of learning to do to balance your natural leadership ability with the compass that needs to be tuned in to the feelings of those around you. You are most definitely a take charge type of person, and I've no doubt that you will continue to take charge as you grow. Right now you want to be a teacher yourself, and, while I know that may very well change, it isn't too much of a stretch to imagine you the "boss" of your own classroom someday. For the record, Michael would also like you to know that you aren't the boss of him.

Nana started you in a ballet class this year. It is a long commitment which will culminate in a big recital this spring. Once in the fall and once in the spring there are days when family members may come in and observe the class. This is your first experience with any kind of dance class and you didn't want us to come and watch. After much prodding you admitted that you didn't want anyone to see you because you didn't think you were very good. The other children have all had dance class before and I think this is one of the rare times that you've felt out of your element. You are used to things coming fairly easily to you Harper, and this dance class is a bit of a different story.

There are things to learn here... you will not always be good at something the first time you try it, try anyway. It is okay to feel uncomfortable and to make mistakes. We agreed to put you in this class knowing that you would be out of your comfort zone, wanting you to have an opportunity to truly grow. Still it broke my heart a little when you cried to me that you weren't good enough for anyone to watch you.

We came to watch anyway. And you, my dear one, were much better than you think. Sure you have things to learn, but I'm confident that you will learn them because you listen, you follow directions, you try. Will you ever be a ballerina, paid to dance on the stage? Eh. Genetics say probably not. Will this experience have been worthwhile? Of course. Will I be fighting back proud tears, watching you in your dance costume on stage this spring, even if you forget everything you are supposed to do? Absolutely.

At age seven, many of the things I've always observed about you are still true. You are stubborn. You like to be in charge. You are smart. You are beautiful. You are creative. You are a girl who makes me very proud to be your mother. And I love you with all my heart.

Happy birthday, Harper.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

There are Worse Things

When I got home from subbing yesterday there was a notice on our door that a crew was going to start working on a nearby water main this morning. From 8 a.m. until sometime after 1 p.m. we had no water at all. Now the water is back on but we can't use it for cooking, drinking, or oral hygiene. We might not be able to use it without boiling until FRIDAY. Blerg. Not the end of the world, I know, but kind of a pain in the butt nonetheless.

I woke up this morning with the left side of my neck all knotted up - whenever I change the angle of my head or move my jaw or reach for anything with my left arm/hand, the pain just radiates through my neck and left shoulder. This is not fun. Advil is only providing very mild relief. I am pretty sure I just slept on it wrong, what was I doing in my sleep? What do you think the chances are that I'll wake up tomorrow and it will be all better?


Remember when I worked full time that spring semester? Back in 2010? How did that work? I've subbed two half days in a row and I am wiped out. Guess it is good that I didn't get a job this year.


Tonight I am grateful for clean running water (when we have it, 99% of the time), for all the days I wake up without being in excruciating pain, and the fact that I'm not working full time right now.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Two Questions and a Statement

Out of Michael's mouth lately:

Does the sun eat food?

Do they have butts? (Pointing to pictures of kittens in a storybook, one was on its back and fur was strategically covering everything.)

I see a ho truck!
("Ho truck," is how Michael says "tow truck," cracks me up every time.)

My birthday was good. Coffee in the morning, subbing in the afternoon, PTO meeting after dinner, and out for margaritas after the PTO meeting - a pleasant and much enjoyed surprise. Now as my birthday present to myself I'm going to bed before midnight.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Tomorrow is my birthday. I'm not generally one to freak out too much about getting older. This particular birthday gives me a small amount of pause, I'm about to have to check a different box when I take surveys.

Don't worry, I won't fret about it for long.


I know I ask this every year, but here we are, mid-month, and I'm feeling slightly less motivated about the daily blogging thing than I did two weeks ago - so do you all have any questions to ask? Feel free to dust off your question from last year, because I didn't manage to answer all of them...


I'm thinking it will be time for the Christmas music giveaway again soon. Every year I swear I won't acquire any more Christmas CDs - and yet I managed to get four of them (per request) as birthday gifts, AND I'm currently salivating over the next Glee Christmas album. Surely this is some kind of addiction.


Matt took at a half day from work today to take me out for my birthday. (We can't go tomorrow because I'm subbing in the afternoon). We ate at Red Lobster - one of my favorites but not a good place for the kids. After lunch we hopped over to the discount theater and saw Crazy, Stupid, Love which I really enjoyed.  It was a very nice afternoon and totally offsets the fact that I'll be working and attending a PTO meeting tomorrow!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Birthday Weekend the First

It is possible that a luckier child/family does not exist. We've just had a really lovely birthday weekend. Everybody pitched in to get things ready yesterday and we had a delicious taco dinner which I highly recommend for a party because you can prepare everything ahead of time.

I thought Harper would go out of her mind waiting for the party yesterday, as it did not officially begin until four. AND we had to eat dinner before opening presents. Torture! Fortunately Auntie Shannon was around to help pass the time with a Can You See What I See? book.

This year Harper decided she wanted brownies instead of a cake (and the angels sang!). She did want some decoration on the brownies though - a multicolored frosting peace sign. I made a batch of plain brownies as well, for those among us who prefer not to have a side of sugar with our sugar. Incidentally I didn't need nearly the entire recipe's worth of frosting to decorate the 8x8 pan of brownies. (It's possible I had one or two spoonfuls of frosting with my coffee Saturday morning.)

Harper was thrilled with her brownies - even if they looked a little wonky - they tasted great. And the addition of seven crazy candles made them even more festive.

Harper received tons of great presents. And she cheered over every one of them. Well maybe not about the blanket that we got her for her bed, but she's cold every night so I know she'll appreciate it. There were games, clothes, books (lots of books, hopefully enough to keep her busy until Christmas), crafts, a princess Barbie, and a few items for her beloved Kit.

Below you can see Kit sporting her winter look - very stylish.

We enjoyed church and breakfast together this morning and then said our goodbyes. 

Matt, Harper, Michael, and I were able to continue celebrating tonight. Ann made a wonderful dinner for my birthday and I also received lots of great gifts. (I am seriously spoiled.) One of my gifts was a new camera! The digital camera I had been using is older than Harper and something of a dinosaur as far as cameras go, I am so happy for a new toy to play with!

I hope your weekends were half as happy as ours. For tonight I'm going to enjoy the rest of the evening and not worry about the details of Harper's "friend" party (next weekend) until tomorrow!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Around 2:30 this afternoon the leaf pile in our front yard was the place to be. More about Harper's birthday celebration tomorrow, for now, please enjoy:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Start Celebrating

Family members have arrived in town because we are kicking off Harper's week of birthday celebration tomorrow. Uncle Joe and my parents, sister, and sister-in-law were here for dinner this evening. One birthday present to me was that I didn't have to cook (for today). I also received some gifts this evening. I have two new Christmas CDs (before long it will be time for the giveaway!) and some new shirts from Land's End. I also got a new wool "swing coat" from my very generous parents. It has been a long time since I've had a nice coat to wear for church or other occasions that require me to go beyond my old fleece. It was the perfect type of gift because I can really use it, but would have had a difficult time spending that much money on something for myself.

Tonight I've been baking and preparing meat for the tacos we'll eat tomorrow. For our family celebration Harper requested brownies - so no cake drama this year. I'm very thankful to have a little break from that.

I'm barely able to keep my eyes open enough to create coherent sentences here, but I'm keeping the streak alive.

(Michael is talking, loudly, in his sleep about Clifford the Big Red Dog.)

Back tomorrow, maybe with birthday party pictures?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Full Moon

Michael has been in a MOOD today.

We have up to half an hour between Harper's school drop off time and his, sometimes we use that time to run a quick errand. Today I told him we had to drive through and mail something at the post office... His reply? 

"Awwww. Can't you just do it by yourself? I want to go right. TO. SCHOOL!"

However this same child looked up at me as I was walking him in to school and said, "I like you the best Mommy."

I don't know if these fluctuations in temperament are due to the full moon, to age 3.5, maybe to the huge shift in our weather over the last 24 hours... 

Michael's Jekyll and Hyde thing has had me slightly worried about our prospects for getting a good family photo at the portrait studio tonight, fortunately it ended up working out okay.

We're about to have a houseful of company as we celebrate Harper's birthday this coming weekend. Next weekend we're having a second party with some of her friends from school. Wish us luck!

(P.S. Both Matt and I are still a tiny bit jumpy - one little mouse can really get into your brain.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Ding Dong the Mouse is Dead!

Mouse-Invasion 2011 is, at least temporarily, over!


Oh you guys, I handled this in a completely ridiculous way. I KNEW I was being ridiculous and yet I couldn't help myself. Ah well, apparently I'm not going to be a mouse tamer in this lifetime.

We are already laughing about this, but trust me, if another furry friend shows up I will be right back on top of a chair, wishing Matt well from a distance.

In the madness of the great mouse chase I managed to grab the camera and get a photo of our two mouse hunters...

They were... not that much help.

Remember how we attempted to "lock" the mouse in our bedroom? When we briefly opened the door to get clothes and brush teeth this morning we saw no sign of the mouse. I was convinced that it had crawled into the heating ducts and would reappear in any room at any time.  Well Matt went into the bedroom to change after dinner (we'd kept the door closed with a towel stuffed under it all day) and the mouse appeared on the floor next to my dresser.

Matt grabbed a bucket and dustpan and the kids and I stood with various containers in the hallway - backup in case the mouse got through Matt. Apparently the mouse had been moving a bit when Matt first spotted it, but by the time he was prompting it into the bucket he said he thought it was dead. We put a garbage bag over the bucket, dumped the mouse in, double bagged it for insurance (?), and took that thing to the garage (garbage day is tomorrow).

What the heck did the mouse die of? Did it starve in our room? Is that even possible?

Since none of the four traps we've laid out have been touched I'm choosing to believe that this guy was operating solo. BUT I'm still going to leave the traps set for now, and we're still going to have our pest control company come and take a look on Friday.

All's well that ends well? Let's home so, Mama needs some sleep tonight!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Oh Dear

We have a mouse.

I saw it as we were finishing dinner.

I could write a lengthy post about our Mousecapades this evening, but I'm too pooped.

It is currently blockaded in our bedroom with two traps. Matt and I are sleeping in the living room and hoping maybe the mouse will be caught by morning...

I'll let you know.

Giant parenting fail tonight as I squealed like a little girl, many times, whenever I spotted the mouse.

Harper has been awake three times already crying/worrying about it.

Michael was upset he didn't get a chance to catch it himself...

I KNOW the mouse won't hurt me, but this situation is causing me a fair amount of STRESS.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Help Wanted

I have a long list of things I was going to do tonight but my motivation has kind of waned and I was just thinking I would head to bed when I realized I hadn't posted yet. Drat!

Short on inspiration for today I am wondering if you could help me with two small problems.

#1: I had a recipe for pork tenderloin that I wanted to try. The piece of meat Matt brought home was huge, so I cut it up and froze half of it. The first half turned out great. Today I thawed the second half and prepared it the same way. Part of it cooked great, but about a 1/3 of it was undercooked - the cooked and undercooked portions were separated by a vein (?) of fat... So what happened? It was very strange and I'm  not sure how to avoid such a thing in the future. If I'd cooked it longer, then 2/3 of it would have been overdone... What's that about? (If I'm not cooking w/ chicken, turkey, or ground beef I'm a little out of my element)

#2: I have a volunteer position at Harper's elementary school this year that requires me to send a LOT of email. I have noticed that email to Road Runner addresses will randomly be bounced back to me. It only happens w/ Road Runner emails and it isn't always with the same accounts. (I have Yahoo email) The worst part is that sometimes the bounced emails don't come back to me until a couple of days after I'd sent them.  You can imagine this is a problem, especially because we are often dealing with time sensitive situations. Anyone know why that might happen and how I can stop it?

Please help our mom not give us food poisoning with her delicious but unevenly cooked pork. And deliver her from bounced emails. Amen.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Honor Flight

I have been waiting for what feels like MONTHS to write about this one...

This weekend my father accompanied my grandfather on an Honor Flight.  It is a really cool program that flies veterans to Washington DC so they can see their memorials during their lives.

Even though we were far away and couldn't be at the airport to meet the veterans as they returned to Milwaukee we still got to participate. On the flight my grandfather was given a packet of letters written by friends and family - just like mail call when he served.

I just had to share the items that Harper made to be included with our letters - I scanned them before sending them off.

First, a drawing:

Apparently Harper's idea of "soldier" is stuck back in the 18th century. I love the hat!  And the fact that the guy is marching into battle with nothing but a flag. Please notice the moon reflected in the pond and the cattails, which Harper called, "You know, the plants that look like hot dogs." The black lines on the background hill are more soldiers marching.

She also wrote her own letter, with minimal input from me. You can click on it to read it more clearly:

Finally I have a photo I yoinked from my brother's Facebook page (hope you don't mind Jamie!). It was taken after my grandfather arrived back in Wisconsin.

I'm sorry I couldn't be there to welcome Grandpa home, but I'm glad we had the chance to send our thoughts in letter form. And I'm grateful we have a large wonderful family, many of whom were there to meet him. (Family members! Feel free to add your thoughts/experiences in the comments!)

Thank you Grandpa.

Saturday, November 05, 2011


We're having the perfect kind of weekend around here - things to do, but not too many.

Today Matt took Harper downtown for a performance in a family theater series we subscribed to - they saw a percussion show. Think Stomp for kids... While they did that, Matt's father took Michael to a local arena for a train show - he was in heaven! Since I was child free for a couple of hours I did some damage at Hallmark. I was able to get our ornaments for this year, holiday wrapping paper, gift tags, and the birthday and anniversary cards I need for the next three months. It was incredibly pleasant to do all of that without worrying about what little hands were finding while I was distracted.

Tonight we are having another couple over to our house to play a card game that is well loved in our family. It's not a big or fancy affair, but I'm thrilled at the idea of more social time with adults. I feel like I should have something larger planned, since they are going to the trouble of getting a babysitter and everything. Hopefully we'll have enough fun that they'll think it was worthwhile.

Tomorrow afternoon Harper has basketball at the rec center and I'm planning on taking her to a local children's theater production of Gooney Bird Green. Between children's theater, community theater, and high schools in this area I think we could see a different show every weekend!

We'll round things out by having dinner with Matt's parents tomorrow night.

This will be our last sort of "easy" weekend this month. Birthday celebrations will take place over the next two weekends, followed by Thanksgiving weekend in Wisconsin. Before we know it DECEMBER will be here! Time flies.

And speaking of time flying, check out this growing up smile:

You may not be able to tell without enlarging the photo, but Harper has finally lost those first eight baby teeth. Her middle front ones are nearly all the way in and she continues to look ridiculously grown up to me... She will be seven in less than two weeks. In related news, I'm old.

Friday, November 04, 2011

A Thank You, An Answer, A Costume

A Thank You:

You were all so nice to me after yesterday's post... That was sweet of you. I was basically boo-hooing because my child isn't perfect. Thank you for your support, but you should know I have taken my head out of my a$$!

One thing Harper's teacher said that I LOVED and is so true - if you list the traits you admire in adults and then give them to a six-year-old they aren't quite as desirable. I think all the things that make Harper difficult to parent and teach at times will serve her really well as an adult.

Moving on...

An Answer:

Bluedaisy had asked how I handle keeping Michael entertained while I do homework with Harper... My horribly unhelpful answer is I do it by the grace of God...  Seriously. The most difficult part of doing homework with Harper is that she's sometimes too pooped to want to do it after school. Michael is (again, BY  THE GRACE OF GOD) either happy to sit at the table with us and look at his books or color OR he will go into the computer room (w/in earshot) and play with trucks and toys by himself. If he's feeling needed/cranky he will insist on sitting on my lap while I help Harper. Not really a problem. The most disruptive he usually is is when he "reads" his books out loud at the table, interrupting Harper. Then we just ask him to go read in another room and he generally complies.

I do not know what to tell you to have this experience translate into your home... have only two kids? Make sure the second kid is pretty mellow and easily entertained?

Again, not helpful! Sorry!

A Costume:

I didn't get very many guesses as to what Harper dressed as for Halloween. Which makes me think you aren't really all that concerned about it, but I'm going to explain anyway. I'm stubborn like that. Now you know where Harper gets it!

So it all started because Michael was going to wear the same dragon costume as last year - Harper wanted to dress up as something that would go with his dragon... we talked about it and she finally decided to go as a storybook character - The Paper Bag Princess. Emily was right!

If you don't know The Paper Bag Princess, you should. It was first published 30 years ago but the story really holds up - a great early girl power story. My copy is from way back in my camp counselor days. It's still a terrific read.

Unfortunately it is not a very well known book because NO ONE knew what Harper was for a Halloween. One guy said, "Oh look! A UPS package..."

Fortunately she didn't seem to mind. Do we win any points for creativity?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

First Grade

We had parent teacher conferences at Harper's school tonight. And I don't know what to think about how our conference went.

I will say this, Harper's teacher this year definitely knows Harper better than any teacher she's ever had. And her teacher is willing and able to work hard to meet Harper where her needs are, which is awesome. All of this is good.

She also called Harper out on all the things she does that drive us crazy at home - being bossy, wanting to do things only her way, be so confident that she's inadvertently hurting others' feelings... I don't think she's a big problem child in the classroom. I do think she's going to have an adjustment period with Mrs. B who is going to hold her to a higher standard of behavior and really push her academically as well.

I think this year, even more than in the past, some of Harper's less admirable traits are coming forward in school and that's frustrating because of course I want her to show her best self to the world.

Don't get me wrong - I feel like Harper's teacher appreciates her and enjoys teaching her. Our conference was mostly positive. But there is a small part of me that worries that I have failed her in some way. Yes, the academic stuff is important, but I just want her to be a kind person - if I can't teach her that I think I've missed a critical part of what this mom gig is all about.

(It's also possible that I'm having an overly emotional response to all of this because I have been up too late every night this week.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

I'll begin by saying that we got a really late start on Halloween this year. So late that I didn't even bother getting any of my Halloween decorations out - I left them in the bin and went straight for the Thanksgiving stuff... Matt and I were at a family wedding in Wisconsin the third weekend in October so we didn't procure pumpkins until Friday evening and then we only got one large one to carve - it seemed silly to carve two of them only to have them sit on the porch for less than a week.  

It turned out to be a good thing we didn't get two for carving. The children were very cranky Saturday morning and ended up fighting and being removed from the kitchen. Matt more or less carved the pumpkin solo this year. He's a good sport.

Happy family before the madness.

In our community Trick-or-Treat was held on the 31st. This is not always the case. Our school district decided to have their celebrations on the 31st as well. Having all of this on a Monday was kind of a nightmare, but at least it is over for this year!

Here's a photo of Harper in her school's Halloween parade. The K-3 students dress up and parade around the school while the 4th and 5th grade students, and the parents, provide a captive audience. There are about 600 children in Harper's school so this is a big event.

After the parade, students went back to their classrooms for room parties. In Harper's first grade class each student had one pumpkin-shaped cookie to decorate with a small amount of frosting and a mini box of raisins. They also had water bottles, tube yogurt (which I think is disgusting, but not exactly horrible for them), and bananas. There's been a big push at our elementary school to have healthier snacks and not so much junk at parties - between that and the food allergies we tried to be really conscious about what was served. The kids did get to stir yellow and red food coloring into their white blob of frosting to see it turn orange - a little science thrown into the mix!

For any of you wondering - I made the pumpkin shaped cookies so they'd be allergy safe. I also spoke to the parents bringing in other food for the party and checked all the labels. It was great to have an event where all the food was safe for Harper and no one brought out any surprise candy that she couldn't have (which happened last year). I may have to write more at some point about how we've handled the allergy thing this year because there are lots of pieces to it, but this year we have an awesomely supportive group of families. (We had great support last year too, but the group was less aware as a whole, I'm not sure why.)


Of course after school and after dinner it was begging for candy time!

I think Michael's costume was testosterone infused... Two minutes after he put it on he started to roar and smash stuff - he actually broke the pumpkin bucket he was supposed to collect candy in by slamming it into our kitchen wall. Next year I'm going to make him dress up as a pillow.

Some of you already know what Harper's costume was, but if I haven't told you, want to take a guess? I'll share the answer later this week.

The spooky pumpkin Matt carved while the kids were pouting.

The bottom picture shows Harper and Michael with some of their "safe" candy. We just confiscate the stuff they can't have and trade them something else for it. This year Michael got two cars and Harper got the DVD of a horrible Annie sequel that she loves (I found the DVD for $6 months ago and stashed it away for this very purpose). 

This post has gone on long enough - I'm not a huge fan of Halloween and the allergy stuff does not make that any easier - but the kids were smiling at the end of it so I guess we've done our job!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Well hello there!

So it is National Blog Posting Month. My recent track record would suggest that it is next to impossible for me to post every day for a month.

I signed up anyway.

I wanted to begin with a post about our Halloween, but I cannot find the camera to download the photos. A Halloween post is better with photos. So maybe tomorrow?

I would have started this post this morning but I was too busy cleaning up after the dog. He ate a bunch of Hershey Kisses so I had to induce vomiting and then clean up the evidence of his Halloween binge. That was fun. In a related note, I don't think I'll be eating Hershey Kisses anytime soon.

Life has been crazy here, mostly in good ways, stick around this month and you might hear more about it.

When NaBloPoMo comes around I'm especially interested in your questions, so go ahead and ask away! As long as they aren't too difficult. My brain is fried.