Monday, July 28, 2008

How I Like to Waste Time

I can sum it all up in one word: Surfing.

OK, maybe that's not so clear. I mean, it's probably somewhat obvious that I'm not surfing on the ocean because I live in the mountains. So maybe my one word should have been Internet or Web. But I liked surfing.

I typically hit the hay at midnight. Ugh. I know. That's terrible. Sleep is so, so, so important to your health and I spend an inordinate amount of time throwing around health-related advice willy nilly. Apparently I seem unable to take my own advice and just go to bed.

What usually happens is that I get my work done, with some surfing in between documents, and I look at the clock. Like tonight. Hey, look at that! It's only 9:36 pm! Hallelujah! I'm going to get to bed at a decent time tonight! I'll just check a few blogs, CaringBridge pages, and research random Web sites before I hit the hay. And then, before I know it, it's 11:30pm and I'm wondering what the heck happened. The Internet is the black hole of my free time. And actually time that is technically not always free, as the boys will attest.

So I thought I'd take a look at what Web sites I'd been visiting recently just to see what's what. Maybe I can do some analysis and cut down my time wasting.

Hilarious. I can't even find the history button yet. Ever since I started using Vista, life is one big mystery. Still looking.

AHA! It's on a pull down menu accessed via a tiny arrow to the left of the address bar. I'm sure there's some sort of shortcut button I can add, but as this is the first time I've accessed the history since I got this computer in November, it seems like a waste of time. Until I try to find it in six months and can't again.

So, I'm only going to list what I did for fun, not for work, because that would bore you to tears, beyond how boring this lame post already is. Unless you have some sort of unnatural interest in FASB pronouncements and any other auditing stuff. If that's the case, e-mail me and we'll talk.

www.actionforhealthkids.org -- went here doing some research for our school district's healthy food committee. I was trying to sign up for their e-newsletter, but couldn't find the signup page. So annoying.

www.allnurses.com -- went here because I think I was trying to self-diagnose myself with colon cancer. I don't think I have it. Yet.

www.allrecipes.com -- trying to find good recipes for the five million pounds of green beans I have from a farm I bought fruits and veggies from in bulk and then sold to the good citizens of our town. I made a red potato, green bean salad that had a dressing of olive oil, spicy mustard, basil, red onion, garlic, Wort sauce, basil. It was a little spicy.

www.bobsredmill.com -- was researching gluten-free things. I'm experienting with going wheat and gluten free for awhile. Just because I like to do weird things like that.

www.beachbody.com -- have been participating in some weight loss forums through this company and so I go each day and log what I ate and commiserate with other fat-bottomed gals. It stinks when I have to go and write things like, "Today I ate enough cookie dough to make the Pillsbury Dough Boy blush, a jar of bleu cheese stuffed olives, and an entire box of macaroni and cheese." You'd think that would make me stop. You'd be wrong.

www.cookie-recipe-club.com -- I had no business going to this site given the above site.

www.dianagabaldon.com -- When is she going to release the 8th book, darn it? She doesn't even sound like she's hurrying to write it and it's ticking me off!

www.glutenfreegirl.com -- trying to learn more about being gluten free. Darn, it's hard! And that gluten free bread? Nasty!

www.landsend.com -- Any good overstocks this week?

www.pbs.org -- Please tell me I didn't miss an episode of Foyle's War!

www.people.com -- Who is doing what with whom is of key importance to me. Yes, I read this brain crack, as my brother in law likes to say.

www.pickyourown.org -- I haven't gone to double check, but I think they're talking about fruit, not your nose. I was looking for instructions on how to can things. Specifically, all of the fruit I hope to acquire soon.

www.ricksteves.com -- I was doing some research for my friend Marci's trip, because heaven knows, if I can't be researching my own trip somewhere, I will plan my friends' trips instead. So I got hooked on Rick's daughter's blog. She's in Europe by herself for her first time (actually she's traveling around with a friend) and I'm living vicariously through them. Ah, such memories. For some reason, Marci, the episode with the peach in your backpack is coming to mind. Where was that? Brussels? 15 years ago--15 years ago--ACK ACK ACK--we were there right now. Oh my word. I feel old.

www.turmeric-curcumin.com -- was reading about the incredible health benefits of turmeric. I need to revisit this page and see if one of the benefits is anti-aging.

www.bestbuy.com -- trying to figure out what the heck a Wii really is and if we should own one.

www.dickies.com -- Yikes! This one sounded scary I almost didn't look to see why in the world I had been on a site with this name. But I was looking for new fleece jackets for the boys and Dickies is a brand that came up in the search. Whew! The FBI will have nothing on me.

www.ebay.com -- Looking for something random, I'm sure.

www.fodors.com -- Planning a fictional trip.

www.kidstolondon.com -- More research for Marci.

www.rottentomatoes.com -- Trying to figure out if Journey to the Center of the Earth would be an appropriate movie for the boys to see.

And this is just a partial list and doesn't even include all of the blogs and CaringBridge pages I follow. No wonder I never get to bed.

Surfing is a full time job.

It's now 10:12 pm and I'm going through this post and finding all the typos. Still not going to bed.

10:16 pm. Dang, there were a lot of typos tonight. Still not sure if I got them all. Gives you a lot of confidence in me as an editor, doesn't. Sadly, I edit for clients.

10:17 pm. I am a MORON! There is a "history" button right over my list of favorites that I could have simply clicked on and saved myself five minutes. I could have been in bed five minutes ago!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Friends

Whew! It has been kind of a whirlwind around here. Erin and the kids left, but my Mom stayed until yesterday. The boys were so sad to see her go. Fortunately we'll see her again in about 4 weeks. Just enough time for her to recover. And stock up on french toaster sticks.

Anyway, last Friday we had the privelege of meeting a CaringBridge family! In all these years, we've only met one other CaringBridge family--Kristie and her crew. I know many of you visit Kristie's page regularly (and probably like her better, admit it. That's OK, I feel the same way.). When I met Kristie, I felt like she was a kindred spirit. I mean, I pretty much suspected we'd hit it off. Which we did. But there's always that little nervous feeling beforehand--will she like me? Will she think I'm a crazy, neurotic weirdo (Not far from the truth, actually, but will she be put OFF by it? That's the real test!). In the end, it has all been good and I love Kristie to bits--we want you to come visit, Kristie! We do have a Sonic--35 miles away though.

Anyway, a few months ago I learned of yet another family battling pediatric cancer. Kami has just over a year left of treatment for ALL, which is the same kind of leukemia Finn had (so nice to say HAD). Kami's Aunt Lisa lives a mere mile from our house. The weird thing was right around the time I learned about Kami, two other acquaintances here in Eagle had young relatives diagnosed with cancer. Sigh. It never ends.

So I still follow a lot of CaringBridge pages, and while it's always fun to think about, I never really have on my radar that we might get to meet a family. Meeting Kristie and her family was a lucky break. We met them when we were driving home from Florida in '06. But when I read on Kami's page that they were coming to our area to celebrate her grandparents' golden wedding anniversay, I could hardly believe it. I put a post in Kami's guestbook that said something like, "Oh, I wish we could meet you while you're here. . ." Like I was some sort of lunatic or something. I mean, isn't this what crazy people do and then get trapped by Dateline: To Catch a Predator? I was trying to lure this poor family into meeting me from the Internet. And to make matters even weirder, I was offering them NEEDLES online because Kami was having bloodwork done. A stranger. Offering you needles. In your daughter's CaringBridge guestbook. Would YOU want to meet me?

Well, Kami's mom, Jill, was very brave and invited everyone who had been following Kami's story to come to and meet them.

Finn adored Kami who immediately sat down and started coloring with him and was so sweet to him for as long as we were there. Her poor brother fled back to the hotel room--possibly, as I found out later, because Finn kneed him in the crotch to try and wake him up. Alex, I am so, so sorry. I'm totally mortified. I don't blame you for trying to escape!

I was mortified further when I discovered that Finn had been sitting next to a very lovely leather chair. . .and scratching it with his fingernails because he realized he could make marks on it. We won't be going back to that hotel anytime soon.

Finn and Kami. Kami was so good about wearing her mask because of low counts. Good news--her ANC is back up over 1,000.

Now Kami, Jill and the family are all safely back home, but it was so much fun to meet them. When your kids have cancer, you automatically have a bond, but then to get talking and swap stories and tears and that shared sense of "I know what it's like" and really be able to mean it, well that's something else altogether. Thanks, Jill!

Another milestone for The Mighty Finn last week--his last day with his preschool teacher, Mrs. S. Of course, school had ended in early June, but his teacher had offered several weeks of summer programs and Finn was able to go for three of the sessions. When school ended, I didn't feel too sad because I knew we had the summer with Mrs. S. But when the last week rolled around, I found myself feeling a little melancholy. My boys are both now elementary schoolers. Preschool is over. This past year was pretty much the ideal situation. I still liked having one of them home with me a few days a week. And although I have to admit I'm looking forward to having big spans of time to get my work finished during the day (as opposed to staying up late at night), tackling some big household projects, volunteering at the school on a regular basis, and skiing whenever I can, this is the start of a whole new era. School--all day, every day. It feels weird. Sometimes I have this crazy thought that I'll keep the boys home and homeschool like Erin does with great success.

Then I put down my crack pipe and remind myself that I am in no way cut out to homeschool. No way, no how. And I recall the time my friend Karen and I taught Sunday School together when we were in college. (Karen can confirm this story for you because she was there) I think about the class of unruly third graders we taught and how William Wolfe became so out of control that I grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground because he wouldn't pay attention to whatever Bible story we happened to be reading that day. Yes, I really wrestled William Wolfe to the ground. In my defense, he was a total handful, but in this day and age I'd probably be branded a child abuser and hauled off to jail for that.

So basically what I'm saying here is that it's unlikely anyone in this house would survive a homeschooling experience. And besides, I still count on my fingers so I don't know how I'd cope with teaching math.

Here she is! Mrs. S poses with Finn on his last day of summer camp. I love this woman. She is an angel is preschool teacher's clothing and I'm going to miss her terribly.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In the Good Old Summertime

The boys have been wanting to have a lemonade stand since last summer. Somehow I got away with not having one. . .until now. I even delayed it for a few more weeks, and then promised the boys that last Saturday would be the day. Erin and the kids were delivering Mom to us from her visit in Utah, so I figured it would be a good way to pass the time until they arrived.

A few days before the Great Lemonade Stand was to take place we purchased all of our supplies. Holy cow. When did lemons get so expensive? Because no way were we making a lemonade mix! I am Floriene Moffitt's granddaugther for goodness sake! The scandal that would take place from serving up Country Time, well, I could just never live it down. So we made the boys' favorite lemonade "recipe" which happens to be Great Ruth's. After I took out a home equity loan to buy the lemons, we realized we didn't have the right size cups. Story of my life--how many trips can I make to the store?

As we were preparing to go get the cups, Declan rushed inside, total anguish in his voice. What? What? What is it? Did Finn get hit by a car? Was the Suite Life of Zack and Cody cancelled? What could be the source of this anguish? Unfortunately, Cameron, our next door neighbor, had scooped us and was selling lemonade on the corner. For $1 a cup! At first I thought this was highway robbery. And then I considered the price of lemons and figured Cameron had it about right.

So Declan was crushed when I explained that we should wait and have our lemonade stand another day. His little face was so sad. Which explains why I promised to bake him cookies to sell with the lemonade. Sucker.

Finally, the day arrived. As did Erin, Mom and the kids. Eamonn took the whole gang out to a pretty busy street corner. . .and they sold out in about 30 minutes. Their marketing strategy? All six kids standing there yelling, "Lemonade! Cookies!" at everyone within earshot. And in the case of Finn's vocal reach, a few people who were probably out of earshot.

We made another batch of lemonade. That sold out, too. In the end, they made $31 (That's gross profit though. Next time I'm removing my supplies fee!). (Side note: Cameron made $4)

The original price: 25 cents. Fortunately Eamonn convinced us to raise the price to 50 cents. The boys wanted to charge $10.

Now they're ready to spend their earnings. It's time for that "How to Save Money" talk.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Husband is a Really Good Sport

1. He buys feminine hygiene products and isn't embarrassed.

2. He tolerates my endless research and experimentation with all kinds of foods and then serves as a guniea pig. Except for the lentils. That didn't go down well.

3. Has offered to build an addition on the house for all of my extraneous kitchen appliances.

4. Drove me around to at least 10 different department stores and let me spend an obscene amount of money to try and find just exactly the right kind of giant granny panty, stomach-holding in undergarments when I needed to fit into a bridesmaid dress after Finn was born.

5. Rubs my feet. And my back. And rarely requires that I reciprocate.

6. Actually likes "Love, Actually."

7. Didn't say a word when I drove the car into some rebar, puncturing a hole in the bumper. . .about two weeks after the car came out of the shop to have the bumper replaced.

8. Keeps his thoughts to himself even when I complain about my weight. . .and then binge on popcorn and rootbeer.

9. Graciously steps in when I am trying to sew something. . .and get it wrong three times in a row.

10. And, the most recent good sport example. . .he let me cut his hair. And he only nervously squeezed his eyes shut once or twice when I accidentally cut off a sideburn and then shaved him to the skin behind his right ear.

You're a good man, honey.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cheap Summer Labor

At first, I was dreading the summer break. The boys are in this phase of constantly picking at each other. It gets on my nerves. Quickly. I listen to other people talk about how well their kids get along and how they never fight. It makes me want to put a sharp stick in my eye.

I think I finally found a solution though. Or at least Erin told me about a solution. Probably three years ago, she turned me onto a scheduling "program" that's designed for homeschool families. Following the scheduling program, I divide the boys' days into 30 minute blocks. I have very smartly left "fight with your brother" and "engage in behavior likely to drive your mother insane" off of the schedule. Still patting myself on the back over that one.

But what I did schedule time for is chores. And mysteriously, the boys love it. Well, Declan does anyway. Finn? Not so much. The boys have historically been responsible for their rooms, getting themselves ready in the morning, and doing other small tasks like setting and clearing the table. But now, the chores are getting serious. Laundry. Dusting. Swiffering the floor. Straightening the basement. My attempts to capitalize on the cheap labor that summer brings knows no bounds.

They're going to be so sick of chores by the end of the summer, they'll be beating down the doors of the school to get inside. There's a method to my madness.