Sunday, October 31, 2010

Of Copters and Classes

Friday was a busy day up at M2's school. First of all, it was their dress-up day, so when I woke up at 7:19 a.m. and realized that we needed to be out the door in 20 minutes or less WITH costumes and breakfast and bathroom stuff all done, I completely panicked. Thankfully my kids are finally old enough to understand the word ***NOW*** when I really mean it, so we made it. I dropped M2 off, ran back home, started laundry, gave M1 his math test and short writing assignment and review spelling lesson, and then we headed back to the school with him studying French and Latin flashcards on my phone on the way. Yay for a short school day!

Shortly after we arrived at the school, all the classes came outside and lined up beside the field. We waited.

We heard the sound before we saw it.

It rounded around the field and circled back. I loved watching the trees flap in the wind created by the rotors.

It wasn't nearly as noisy as I had expected.

Meet the YL-37, a Vietnam-era helicopter restored to its former glory. What a treat!

The kids were all well-informed about the copter, but they still all had questions. M1 wanted to know how much cargo it could carry (5000 pounds), and the kids had questions about all the specific equipment ("What's that yellow thing up there?" "That's a winch for lifting people or cargo out of dangerous areas."). Each class went up separately, and the guys running the show were amazingly patient and tailored their answers to the age and knowledge of each class. They didn't talk about dead people in front of the kindergarteners, for example.

They could have, though. There's a long list of men from their squadron who didn't make it back to American soil.

The men who flew in this cockpit saw their fair share of combat, too.

See the riveted patches? Those are where the bullet holes riddled the copter. That just blew my mind. There are FIFTY-FOUR of those patches. In one copter. Frightening.

I've always been fascinated by the nicknames that air squadrons gave themselves. This one was "The Ugly Angel." My kiddo wanted to know where the cute angel was. I had no answer for that one.

M2 took this photo. That's her teacher - the nun - up there with some of her classmates.

And here's M2 herself with another one of her classmates. Isn't that dress lovely??

After M2's class went back inside and another class came out, I saw this book sitting on the table next to the school office. M1 picked it up for a quick read. It's a wonderfully done book, written in first-person perspective from the helicopter's point of view. It's informative enough for a bookworm like M1 but delicate enough that M2 also enjoyed it when it was read to her class a few days ago to prepare them for the helicopter's arrival.

In addition to the students, of course, the local media showed up to shoot their own story of the day. You can read their online story here. If you click on the slide show, I'm actually in the last photo... at least, the back of me is. I'm the blonde person with my purse strapped diagonally over my torso. They did a video segment as well, for the evening news, and M2 made it into that, but it's not online. Oz recorded it for her, though, and she loved seeing herself and one of her friends on TV.

It was a truly neat experience. Now I just need to work out when it's going to be somewhere that I can score a ride...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Living the Viking Life

It all started innocently enough. M1 declared that he was vegetarian again the second Oz was out of town, and since I hadn't made a meat-filled menu or a grocery list or gone shopping, I shrugged and said fine.

Then I asked M1 if he wanted me to make some pea pottage at some point during the week. Pea pottage is a recipe I got out of a medieval cookbook of modern publishing, and I make it once or twice each fall/winter. There are always tons of leftovers, but with a vegetarian boy back in the house, I don't see that being a bad thing.

Anyway, there's the pottage. Basically it's dried peas that have been soaked overnight, rinsed, and then simmered. You also add other vegetables (onion, cabbage, and in this case, turnip) that might have been available during the period. Because I'm wealthy by medieval standards, I added peppercorns, but I also added some salt, rosemary, bay leaves, and marjoram. The recipe also calls for some salt pork or bacon, but obviously I couldn't do that and have the boy eat it.

Then M1 and I read about the Vikings. He likes Vikings. He loves their myths and their weaponry. He has read Beowulf and adores it. Now that he knows that they became Normans in Normandy, he can't wait to read what happens next. We learn about the Battle of Hastings next week.

Anyway, there was a recipe for 'Viking bread' in the activity book. I had the soup simmering on the stove and we had to go to the grocery store anyway, so I asked M1 if he wanted to pick up some stuff to make an impromptu Viking 'feast' for dinner.

Stupid question. Foodie boy had an instant happy.

We found some cheese curds and bought those. They're probably not entirely authentic, but they're delicious.

When it came time to make the bread, I looked at the recipe. It called for some white flour and some whole wheat flour, but the note above the recipe said that true Viking bread would have been made out of oat, barley, or rye flour and that they would have ground the flour by hand.

Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, a light went on. I told M1 to hang on and dug these out of the pantry:

Then I said, "You wanna make our own flour and have it be REAL Viking bread?"

I'm all about stupid questions.

The blender made the flour nice and coarse. Some of it was very finely ground. Some of the pieces were still almost whole. Then there was every nature of granulation in between.

It made a very stiff dough...

... and a very stiff bread. The outside was almost like a shell. The center was soft but coarse and very dense. It was delicious, though. M1, who has long had a fascination with medieval cooking, really loved it. It soaked up the pottage beautifully. I had - and shared with the children - the thought that if this bread dried out, it would almost be as hard as stone and could easily have been shaped into a trencher for eating.

And so we ate and drank water (I should have had a beer!) and talked about those good ol' Norsemen who went i viking. Here's to them!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Entertainment Slacker

I love Halloween. I think I've mentioned that. I love the traditions, the history, the everything. Usually the kids and I do a bunch of stuff for the holiday. We carve pumpkins, make cookies, read stories, visit a pumpkin patch... the whole nine yards.

This year? Not so much.

We were supposed to go to a pumpkin patch with my homeschool group, but the kids went to spend the night at Grandma's instead. We had plans the following weekend, and then last weekend... well, it was the weekend before Halloween, and have I mentioned that I hate crowds? I especially hate crowds when there is a one-lane dirt driveway involved and it's rained recently. I have a great tendency to get stuck. So pumpkins haven't happened this year. We did decorate Halloween cookies, which was fantastic till the kids started sneaking them for breakfast and lying about it, and then the cookies had to disappear into the realm of the garbage because my kids are like heroin addicts - once they get a taste of something forbidden, they come back to it again and again. At one time I could have put them on the top of the fridge for safekeeping, but that no longer works... M1 can reach up there. And with no impulse control whatsoever, I can't just tell them 'no.' That's an invitation to see what they can get away with.

It's also why M1's Nintendo DS that he got for his birthday is living in my room already... finding him at midnight with circles under his eyes down to his knees while muttering, "One more level... one more level..." doesn't do good things for anyone.

I digress.

So we haven't done a lot for Halloween. I'd apologize, but I'm not terribly sorry. The kids haven't been asking about these things, so I suppose that means they're not terribly missed.

Plus, I have friends who will take all the entertainment responsibility off of my hands.

This was our hostess last weekend at my friend Sonia's house. Isn't she a perfect little dead girl?? She's M1's age and just as adorable as can be.

She also has a playhouse that is the envy of the entire neighborhood. M2 clearly loved it, and I was grateful that I'd made her wear shorts underneath her costume.

I sneaked this shot of M1 when he was least expecting it. He's developed a sudden aversion to cameras. I'm going to have to work on this. He's supposed to be Death, but Death had already lost his mask and scythe somewhere in the yard. I have no idea how he manages to keep track of his head. I think next year I'll have him be the Headless Horseman just so he can misplace his head.

It would amuse me.

The kids decorated cookies during the party. Most of the kids also painted small ceramic figurines, but my kids didn't want to do that (which isn't surprising for M1 but is for M2), so they didn't. Cookies were a bigger draw. Sonia had all sorts of sprinkles and goodies available to put on the cookies.

M2 couldn't wait to bite into hers. Little Devil. She's really looking forward to this weekend when we go to my friend Christy's house to trick-or-treat.

Thanks to all my friends for keeping my kids busy this holiday! Makes my job easier!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Facing Facts

Subconsciously, I knew it was coming. I really did. Otherwise I wouldn't have made Oz put on our heated mattress pad before he left for Arkansas on Monday morning and I wouldn't have agreed to put fleece sheets on M1's bed. (M2 is her own furnace, so she sleeps without sheets and in her underwear most nights, regardless of the ambient temperature. I'm reasonably sure she'd be quite happy living in the Arctic Circle wearing a pair of shorts and a tank top and flip-flops.)

I knew it was coming when Oz and M1 bought me fuzzy Halloween socks, which are like a massager for my feet, and when the massive flocks of starlings started taking over my yard and sounding like so many teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert.

But when I looked at the thermostat this morning and saw that it said "70," I knew I couldn't deny it any longer.

Fall is here.

Part of me has been excited about this for a while. The end of the phrase 'heat index,' which is a loosely-worded way of saying 'death by humidity,' is a great thing. And fall does mean that I can bust out the hot cocoa and marshmallows. It means the kids aren't going to melt in their Halloween costumes when they're dashing across my friend's neighborhood.

It means the candy won't melt, either.

The leaves have been falling for a while, too. It might *look* like there are still a bunch of leaves on this tree, but you'd be deceived. Those views of the sky weren't there a month ago. I'd say about 50-60% of the leaves on that tree are down. The crape myrtles are losing all their leaves quickly, too. The hackberry trees (the origin of the infamous berries that my children stuffed in their ears) are always the last to lose their leaves, but even they're starting to get that golden hue.

Anyway, I couldn't deny any longer that fall is upon us. Even the sun mocked me on Monday when M1 and I were outside studying shadows and directions and talking about how your shadow will always point north at noon - assuming you're in the northern hemisphere, of course - and I looked up at the sun and had to move my arm down about 10 degrees from vertical to point directly at it.


I had left my hummingbird feeder up till today. I just couldn't bear to take it down, because to me, hummingbirds are summer. Watching them play domination games and listening to their little squeaky chirps and testing to see how close to the feeder I can be while watering the garden and have them still eat... those mean warm weather. Sprinklers and swimsuits. Fresh tomatoes. Lemonade. And those are some of my favorite things.

So I took the hummingbird feeder down and emptied it out onto the grass. The liquid had been sitting there for probably a month, but I'd been in deeeeeep denial. Then I replaced it with this:

We get cardinals and sparrows all winter long. When it's snowy, they will come up onto the front porch for food, which is so cute because then you can go outside and see little birdy feet tracks all over the concrete.

And with snow comes cat tossing. And Christmas decorating. And sweaters that hide all the holiday calories.

Hm. Maybe this whole fall gig ain't so bad after all.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Dilemma

I need your advice.


I like the way you people think.

It's M1.

Last Friday, we took M2 to school and came home. M1 announced that he wanted to go take a nap. Now, usually I say okay, and he goes to his room and reads for 30 minutes and comes out and tells me he's slept and I go along with the charade and we start school and go from there.

This time, he slept.

He didn't just sleep, either. I *WOKE HIM UP* at 11:15 because I wanted him to be able to sleep at night and I insist on doing at least math and writing each day because those are his weak points - math because he has a hard time focusing (hello, caffeine!) and writing because his fine motor skills are lacking (though I have recently discovered he has a true love for the Handwriting Without Tears' tiny pencils).

Anyway, he slept just fine that night with a little melatonin, and he woke up on Saturday around 7 a.m., which is normal for weekends.

This morning, we took M2 to school, and we came home, and he again announced that he wanted to sleep. I had just put brand-new fleece sheets on his bed, and the sensory side of the boy was dying to wrap itself up, so I told him to go for it. He sacked out. I checked on him a couple of times, but he was dead to the world. I decided to do an experiment just to see how long he'd sleep. He woke up about 11:30.

The up side of letting him sleep like this is that he does seem to focus on his schoolwork better, which is good because he's been extremely fidgety and unfocused lately, which usually accompanies a growth spurt (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!), and I know sleep is helpful.

The down sides are more numerous, but I'm not sure their merits are as strong. First, we don't get started on schoolwork until he wakes up, which means that sometimes we have to take a break to go get M2 or run errands, and then it's debatable whether we get to complete anything or not after that because if M2 is home, she's 5 and his brand of schoolwork - which he loves! - just isn't her bag, baby, and she won't let him work in peace, and he does get frustrated when he gets 'behind' in a subject, which causes stress, which causes him to get in trouble when he acts out because he wants to push himself and M2 is irritating him. (How's that for a run-on sentence??) I *can't* let him sleep on Thursdays because he has a swimming lesson at noon, and he needs lunch before we go. Oh, and I have guilt about sending M2 to school where she only gets a small rest even though I know that logically she'd NEVER sleep at home, anyway, but that's really not a down side, that's just me having guilt because I'm good at guilt.

So do I let him sleep? Do I have him do some schoolwork first, then let him nap, then have him do the rest (like math) when he wakes up? Do I insist on a regular work-rest-pick up your sister schedule that won't screw with his nighttime sleeping patterns? What do you all think?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Randomness

1. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page. Check out the blue box. I've set up a Twitter account for this blog. If you tweet, you can find me at @oursunnyview. It contains a lot of the randomness that doesn't make it on here. Right now I have two followers. One of them is Bill Engvall. I feel special.

2. Oz is home, but he's working again. He's also going to be out of town all week. Weekend? What weekend?

3. The kids and I are going to go to a Halloween party this afternoon. I look forward to taking pictures.

4. M1 is no longer vegetarian. I know he did this on purpose because I now have more cans of beans in my pantry than any living person should ever have. Thankfully, those keep. I've also made him swear to finish up all vegetarian soups (and the tofu) that I had already bought and to give me at least a week's notice if he ever decides to become vegetarian again.

5. We had biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast.

6. The horse lady has put a scarecrow in my pasture. It's bright orange and is stuck in a matching bright orange traffic cone to stand up. Every time I look out there, it startles me.

7. The light in my bedroom kept flickering after I went to bed last night. This wouldn't be an issue except that the light was turned off at the switch. After I went to sleep in the living room, it apparently stopped. No, THAT doesn't make me paranoid at all.

8. We're now getting 5-6 eggs per day out of our chicky-girls. I know they're taunting me, because when the weather finally takes a turn for the cold, they'll (more or less) quit laying.

9. I discovered the other day that if I scratch my 25-pound black cat in just the right spot, he involuntary starts gnawing on things. Like me. Or whatever is in front of his mouth. It's hilarious, and it tickles.

10. I watched "Full Metal Jacket" and "When Harry Met Sally" last night. I'd never seen either of those movies. I thought they were both awesome, and now I understand why they hired Adam Baldwin to be John Casey on "Chuck." Last week I watched the original "Ocean's 11" with the Rat Pack. Now I feel the need to see "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "Casablanca," "2001: A Space Odyssey," and "Gone With the Wind." I'm sure that list will grow, and I'm happy to take suggestions of good movies.

Have a happy Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Somnolent Saturday

I did have plans for today. 'Did' is the operative word in THAT sentence. We were going to pick up some pumpkins and straw, carve the pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, rent some kids' Halloween movies, and let the munchkins stay up late and watch movies and eat popcorn.


The best-laid plans of moms... die a swift death.

Oz got a text message about 11 last night from an account manager in his company who works down in another city saying that the servers for a convenience store chain had gone down. Not good. He got the official summons about 5:45 a.m., and he took off to go see what miracles he could work. So far, the battle has been a draw, though Oz's team did get an advantage when one of the employees found a back-up for one of the servers that was only two days old.

Whatever that means.


I am undaunted. Faced with the prospect of dashed plans and vast quantities of disappointment, I did what any good mom would do.


Who says the day has to be filled with activity? Isn't a lazy day of nothingness just as good? The kids and I took two of the cats to get their annual vaccinations this morning, but that was the only thing that *had* to be done. M2 thought about throwing a giant fit when I dared to ask her to put on clean socks rather than digging yesterday's socks out of the hamper, but I just caved instead of cause a rage because, really, if she wants to have stinky feet, I don't have to smell them, soooooooo yeah, I'm letting that one go. It's not worth the screaming and kicking.

Yes, the fits have returned.

Anyway, we got the cats back home, and I told the kids, "Go play!"

And, wonder of wonders, they DID.

I got to READ. In relative silence!

I fixed an easy lunch crafted entirely of leftovers, and then checked Facebook and talked the kids into running to swap a dozen eggs for some bell peppers with a friend.

Now the TV is on. We were watching Kid vs. Kat, but now that's over and I switched on Nova. It's a show on Gothic building methods, and M1 is shushing M2 as she tries to talk to my mom on the phone.

We'll have a stir-fry for supper, complete with fortune cookies, and who knows, maybe we'll have popcorn and movies anyway.

All I know is, this day has been a lot quieter than I could ever have imagined, and I like it that way!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Can't Stop Laughing

I honestly can't stop laughing at the boy today. He hasn't shut up since he got up, which usually annoys me, but I think my good mood from last night has carried over to today, and I can't stop laughing.

He 'failed' math this morning. We've been studying subtraction, and today his assignment was a review page. He got EVERY SINGLE SUBTRACTION problem... correct. And almost every other problem wrong, which cracked me up because it was things like tally marks, and he'd do his fives and leave off the ones, or he'd be reading a clock and forget to count by fives for the minutes - all silly mistakes that the minute I just looked at him, he would go, "Oh, yeah!" and fix them.

He's been asking me for WEEKS to help him solve this riddle:

"What is there that is once in a minute, twice in a week, and once in a year?"

So I finally caved today. He spent the next ten minutes giggling over the answer, because it appealed greatly to his sense of humor.

Now he thinks I'm going to tell him what 'REDRUM' means. He is SO wrong.

He also picked up an atlas today to figure out which mountain range is between Spain and France, because we've been studying the Carolingian kings who battled the Spanish Moors, and I explained that the border between Spain and France was easy to determine because there are mountains there, and Geography Boy just HAD to know which ones.

But then he flipped to other pages that showed a political map of portions of Europe and announced, "MOM! There are only FIVE wine places in all of Spain!"

He was looking at commodity symbols on a map, and I had to explain that those were simply indicative of a region where that particular commodity was grown, mined, or created in large quantities, and that I was reasonably sure there were more than five wineries in the entire country of Spain because there are more than five wineries in Oklahoma, and if he looked at that, he'd discover there isn't even a symbol for wine on our map.


So he started checking out other countries.

"Mom, I'd live in Ireland, but they catch lots of fish, and I don't eat fish. And they don't grow a lot of wheat, and I would need that."

I reminded him that we grow wheat HERE.

"We DO??"

Well, OK, not at THIS house, but in this region, just a little bit of wheat, yeah, maybe...

"OK. I'd also live in Germany, but there are A LOT of cows there."


"Hun, what animals do we see when we go to visit Grandma Wagner in Kansas?"


Oh, my. He finally flipped over to a map of the US of A to see what commodities were grown around here.

"MOM! Did you know we're near a cotton region???"


"MOM! Did you know there's lots of tabocko [he can't pronounce tobacco to save his life] in these states: Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky???"

"Um, yes..."

"MOM!! I want to go live in Florida! They grow LOTS OF LEMONS!!!"

At that point, I gave up trying to take him seriously and laughed out loud. I know he IS serious, but yeesh.

He then moved on to flags of the world and is deciding where to live based on the flags of a country while hooting "The Star-Spangled Banner." He's asking me why there aren't a lot of people in New Zealand ("but there are a lot of sheep!!") and why people in Africa carry things on their heads. He has just discovered that they raise reindeer in Russia and just declared that the city of Houston smells weird because there's lots of manufacturing there.

And now he wants to move to Hawaii just because they grow sugar cane and coffee.

I still don't think he quite understands this whole commodity thing, but I'll worry about it another day. It's time to feed him and take him to his swimming lesson. I might try to work at it on the way, but I think I'll just leave it. There's a time for everything, and today, it's time to laugh.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The surgery is complete. And I am in a better place mentally than I've been in MONTHS.

Beer might have helped with that, but here's to delaying the good story and going through the tedious stuff first.

Please ignore anything that I type that doesn't make sense, because I'm typing this while I'm in the happy place with fuzzy socks on my feet and Ghost Hunters International on the TV and freshly washed hair on my head and beer in my system.

Three cheers for beer and friends and the happy place!

The day started at about 6 a.m. when the phone rang. Oz answered it before I did, and it was the surgery clinic (the one we were NOT going to) asking if we were on our way, and Oz said no, and the chick got seriously pissed off at our ENT because apparently they neglected to let them know that they had cancelled the surgery at their suite in favor of a local hospital, thanks to insurance reasons that we had nothing to do with. Gotta say I'm glad I wasn't at the end of *that* tirade.

*I* went back to sleep and had weird dreams involving Macy's department store and an unnamed restaurant and the longest phone cord you've ever seen in your life.

I woke up for good about 8 when I heard Oz up making coffee. The kids surfaced about 8:30, which was perfect because they weren't allowed to eat or drink anything and I didn't want them to be grumpy because they'd been up hours and hours without food or drink. We had to be at the surgery check-in by 9:30, but I knew from experience that they'd make us wait if we showed up on time, so I deigned to show up at 9:37 just to show them who was boss.

Apparently it worked because we were only in the waiting room for about 10 minutes before they got us back to an intake room, where they got the kids' vitals, had me sign all the consent forms, and started taking medical histories.

(This was where we discovered M2 had decided to come to surgery commando and Oz got sent to the nearby Target to get her some brand-new underwear to put on under her hospital gown, but never mind...)

They kept us so occupied that I hardly had time to do M1's school stuff with him that I'd brought with me, which I had done solely on the basis that I'm not going to reward earberry experiments with a day off from school and if he was going to an actual brick-and-mortar school like M2, I'd have had to pick up his homework anyway.

They gave M2 the silly juice first, which for any surgery novices (these were #5 and #6 for us) out there is a sort of liquid sedative that makes the kids relaxed and tired before they take them away from the parents... but it also makes them a bit loopy. M2 got quite silly at the end. She announced that she was tired, folded her little hands, and said she was going to pray about being tired.

"Thank you, God, for my sleep
At the hospital beep beep.

And then she crashed her head back onto the bed and didn't try to really get up again, though of course her mouth NEVER closed. They took her back shortly thereafter, and M1 followed after that.

Between the three berries we'd gotten out before visiting the ENT for the first time and the four berries they extracted during surgery, the grand total was seven.

The kids woke up beautifully, which mostly meant that nobody had been intubated or had an IV inserted, so nobody did the ugly scream or the ugly cry, and nobody had to have extra Tylenol to re-sedate them. They amused the entire recovery staff so much that I had to share my iPhone to take pictures of both kids in recovery simultaneously, because really... it doesn't happen often that they get siblings in at the same time, and we hope it never happens again!

We took the kids home and fed them some lunch (including a CHEESEBURGER for M1, whose resolve about being a vegetarian is suddenly fading fast because he apparently also ate some of his sister's pepperoni pizza at dinner), and then Oz picked up his mother so she could babysit for us.

He and I went to Oktoberfest.

My MIL doesn't usually, if ever, babysit for us on a school night, partially because I work and partially because there's nowhere for Oz and I to go, but my MIL had been at my house a few nights ago to pick up a partially-functional printer and had mentioned that I looked like I needed to go to my room and have a good cry, to which I replied I'd been in THAT place for months and was just fine so long as I got to have a few nights now and then when I could lay on the floor and photograph cats.

But Oz's work/networking friend had obtained tickets to Oktoberfest's corporate night (and, not to brag, but our Oktoberfest is considered one of the best in the country and isn't too shabby by world standards, either), and Oz had convinced me to go.

I'm *SO* glad I went.

We had a table about eight feet from some very loud speakers that were blaring music played by a band that included a Rastafarian who played a washboard (and they were good!), and I couldn't handle the noise, so we all headed just outside the doorway of the tent and drank vast quantities of beer and hovered over slightly odorous Port-A-Potty seats and ate bratwurst and apple strudel and drank more beer until my feet were absolutely sore from the fact that I'd worn my brown hoochie boots because clearly I'm all about fashion. But I had FUN. I told stories and laughed and made jokes and vented about the kids and got to meet some wonderful people and talk to some others whose company I'd enjoyed before and just relax and not worry about a danged thing, and that in itself made the trip worth it.

I'm sure tomorrow when I have a headache and don't have any Treximet left, I'll feel slightly differently, but I'm still enjoying the happy fuzzy place (yes, Oz drove), and that's a good thing.

The day is done now, though, and I'm off to bed. Thanks for all the support!! I appreciate you all!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

And the Saga Continues...

Just shoot me now. Please. It'd be a mercy killing, I promise. I can try to shoot you first if you'd like to have a self-defense plea when and if the cops show up.

We had our ENT appointment this morning. THAT was fun, assuming your definition of fun is Chinese water torture.

We arrived on time, in the rain, and I had some paperwork to fill out, so M2 looked at books and M1 was supposed to be working on some schoolwork I'd brought with me. He did that for a while, and then he got frustrated and apparently tossed his eraser into the air. I had no idea that it was gone, but I knew that he was having difficulty focusing on the assignment I'd given him, so I decided to switch subjects and do the 'hard' one at home. I handed him writing. He got five letters in and transposed two. He stopped. I asked him to fix it.

"I can't. I can't find my eraser."

"Where is it?"

"I don't know."

I figured it might have gotten shoved under the couch I was sitting on, so I asked him to check. No luck.

"Well, M1, where did it go?"

"I don't know. I tossed it and it rolled away."

"OK, well, that was a bad decision. I guess you're going to have to ask the receptionist if she has an eraser you can borrow."

Holy stinking heck. You'd have thought I had asked him to stand up and recite the Gettysburg Address naked. He started spinning on his knees in the middle of the tiny waiting room shrieking, "NO! NO! NO! NO!"

Have you ever seen an 8-year-old who's almost 5 feet tall do that? I don't recommend it.

I got him stopped and convinced him that the receptionist would not, in fact, turn into a banshee and fly through the window to eat him if he asked for a mere eraser (and she didn't), and then he settled back down.

And found his eraser under a chair.


Shortly after that, we got taken back into an exam room, and I stuck M2 in the chair first because usually she likes to show off to her brother at how well she does, and I knew the thing would probably be a bit noisy, and she doesn't mind noise.

I was SO wrong.

She freaked instantly, as soon as the ENT doc turned on the toothpick-width suction tube and started showing her how harmless it was by tickling her on the skin.

We swapped kids, and M1 seemed enthusiastic about showing up his little sister. That is, until he heard the sound, and then his shoulder started twitching up and trying to cover his ear.

It was useless. He started wigging out and crying, too, and M2 had huddled herself under a chair after I told her she couldn't actually leave the room, so the doctor and I gave up.

I'll be getting a call in the next day or so to schedule an appointment to use gas to put them both under to extract the berries.

Consider this a public service announcement to make sure you've trimmed all your hackberry trees so your children can't reach them. Apparently, hackberries are an expensive proposition.

Daiquiri, anyone?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Night of the Cat

One should never, ever let me become bored on a Friday night. Especially when there's a camera available.

OK, so there wasn't originally a camera available, but gravity had taken hold, which cause me to slither off the couch and loll on the floor like a drunken monkey (but I wasn't even drinking) and start to giggle at cats, and then I ordered Oz to retrieve the camera from the utility room where it was resting, and when I'm like that, it's hard to deny me. It's hard to deny insanity its right to take over the world, one photograph at a time.

It was one of those nights. The type of night where it looks like you're trying to fist-bump the dog except he's not cooperating and is giving you the tongue, which is the dog equivalent of the finger. I can hear Oz now: "Dude, not cool! Don't leave me hangin'!"

Except that what Oz was actually saying was, "Don't lick me, you filthy creature!"

I like my version better.

It was one of those nights where you take a picture holding the camera upside down while you're underneath the table where the cat is sitting and it turns out better than anything you could have possibly taken while sitting upright and TRYING to take a good picture.

Then, of course, I had to crank up the ISO to make the pictures nice and grainy, but it helped me capture THIS gem. Even the cat is having a total WTF moment, trying to figure out what on earth has possessed the MomCat. It didn't help that I was giggling at her flattened fur lying against the glass on the coffee table and tapping the glass to see what kind of reaction I'd get. I'm sure that didn't bug her AT ALL.

I'm kind of annoying like that. Are we worried about my mental status yet? You should be. I am.

Tempest did oblige me by meerkatting on her hind legs so I could give her a scratch. She'd sell her soul for a good ear-scratchin'. Much like I'd sell mine for beef stroganoff and Halloween decorations.

It's all what you're into, I guess.

Dorian Gray is just wondering what the bejeezus is going on here. He's easily confused. It comes with lacking a few brain cells. Love him, but he hit the 'Nip pretty hard in his youth, and it shows.

Vixen saw the camera and tried to do her best Abercrombie & Fitch modeling pose. She's the epitome of apathy for the sake of fashion. The only thing keeping her off the feline runway is her tail. Her tail is its own entity and sometimes reaches around and whaps her in the nose, just for the sake of reminding her it's there. Then she feels the need to bite it, which hurts, so then she licks it, and then she dashes off across the house with her little genie kitty feet. She's such a priss. I'd say she also lacks brain cells, except that she's a very bright cat. She's just blond underneath all that fur. As a blond myself, I can say that. She and I get along nicely. It's why I can make fun of her Entity Tail.

Kuro? Well, Kuro was in the same mood *I* was, I think. I can hear him wondering, "Dude. My brain's messed up. I think I need to mess with someone."

He also likes the 'Nip. Dorian introduced him to it. He's such a bad influence.

One... two...


And Pepe watches it all, with the most unconcerned look on his face, one that only an 18-year-old cat with a scarred ear can muster. He just wants to know what's the point of it all.

There is no point, my good kittyboy... no point at all.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Being a Groupie

I've been wonderfully lucky to find a homeschool group to participate in that works for my family. I've tried one, I've tried another, and they always seem to not work out for the same reason: Time management. Many homeschool groups seem to meet in the afternoon, which is great if it's timed perfectly or on my side of town, and I totally understand that most homeschool group members are available at that time of day, but I have to pick up M2, and that throws the whole schedule off.

So when a woman I'd met a few times started up her own group and wanted to meet on my side of the river, I thought I'd give it a shot, because even if the time was pushing the envelope for picking up M2, I'd at least be close at hand. Couldn't hurt, right?

It's been a better fit than I ever thought possible.

Last month, our monthly meeting theme was arts and crafts. Our fearless leader led one craft; I led another.

The kids are always up for something new and fun!

OK, except for M1, who gets kind of bored when he has to sit for more than fifteen seconds at a time.

But even he perked up when we started working on making the actual project.

This month's meeting was about Latin America, led by a woman who was born in Panama. She taught the kids a few basic words and phrases, talked about customs such as Dia de los Muertes, and led them in creating Lucha Libre masks.

Then this weekend, we held a fall festival. We thought about renting a venue, but I figured what the hey, I've got a big yard, let's DO IT!!!

Welcome to Fall Festival 2010. We started with a costume 'contest.' One of the moms made little prizes for each kid based on their own costume. More on that in a bit.

M2 enjoyed being the devil... cat. I guess she's decided her horns are actually cat ears, and her tail is a cat tail. I can live with that!

M1 enjoyed working the Grim Reaper angle.

They changed out of their costumes and played a game called "In the River, On the Bank" and won prizes.

We all ate lunch and bonded with one another, sometimes over a good pipe fence.

Then we played the Mummy game, where the first one done got a prize and the best-'dressed' mummy won a prize.

M1 and M2 didn't win either, but they had fun, so who cared?? There were plenty of prizes for everyone, anyway.

So we all had a great time. I think. I hope we can do it again next year, and I hope the weather is just as beautiful then as it was yesterday. I even came out of it with what is probably the last sunburn of the year! The kids, even better, were exhausted.

When I was on my way to bed, I stepped into M1's room to check on him and saw this stuck in the top of his fish tank:

It was his prize from the costume contest... slightly altered.

Slightly competitive much? I just had to smile. My boy is so proud of all he does. It just cracks me up.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Feast of the Moors

First of all, an update.  The children's ears are still intact.  All four of them still contain berries.  They have a simultaneous appointment at the ENT, given to me by a very amused receptionist, next Tuesday at 9 a.m.  I fully intend to take photos of the final berry count. 

The berries in question, by the way, are hackberries.  I was just glad to at least know, because those aren't poisonous. 



Moving on.

M1 has been studying Islam in history this year, and he's really enjoying it, so when we got to the Moors and how they ruled Spain for many years, I decided it was time for one of our traditions:  A "Feast."

There was a recipe for Pollo con Arroz in our history book, but since I *can't* eat pollo and M1 *won't* eat pollo, that was out.  So I went hunting for authentic-esque Moor-ish vegetarian recipes that M1 and I could (mostly) fix together.

We started out with a garlic Parmesan spread for our bread.  It was SO easy.  M1 mixed it up.

I love this photo.  Why?  Look on the counter, just to the left of the mixer.  See that cord?  See how it's not plugged in?  Anticipation Boy was incredibly shocked when he pushed the button and nothing happened.

Once he plugged in the mixer, we chopped up several cloves of garlic, then added about a cup of grated Parmesan cheese and mixed it all together with water until it made a paste.  Fresh cheese probably would have worked better, but it wasn't in the house, and I wasn't going to put on socially-acceptable clothes that day.  But I can tell you, this was DELICIOUS.  I recommend serving it at room temperature.

Then we whipped up a chickpea salad with honey dressing.  M1 loved it; the rest of us thought it was okay.

We made whole wheat flatbreads...

... and whole wheat polvorones (cookies).

The piece de resistance, however, was the paella.  I've tried making paellas before, and they've always come out as dismal failures.  I have now learned why. 

1.  Do not use long-grain rice.

2.  Do not use long-grain rice.

Short-grain rice or, in this case, arborio rice (which, yes, I know, it's pasta, but hey, I had it on hand) works beautifully.  This was a meat-free dish, but it could be easily modified to add chicken or other ingredients. 

And yes, I spent $9 and got the actual tiny little container of saffron for this dish.  I don't know how much it added in the way of flavor, though, so next time I might just stick with turmeric.

The real Moors will never know.