Saturday, December 30, 2006

Our Favorite Gifts

Look Ma, I'm upright! The Wednesday before Christmas I'd worked and one of my residents coughed right into my face. I should have known I was in for it. Yesterday I was starting to feel better so we went out and today I finally uploaded Christmas pictures. Took me long enough, hey?

S3 asked my mom and dad for a new skateboard for Christmas this year and the little stinkhead found the receipt from CCS a few weeks before the big day. I told my parents and my dad emailed that he had something evil planned for boys who sneak around and figure out their presents. So the day we celebrated Christmas with them rolled around and my nephew opened a tall thin package with his custom skateboard inside. S3 and Ty opened their tall thin pacakages and found old scooters inside. Shortly after I heard Steve say to Ty, "Try not to pout," and Ty reply, "I know but I just really wanted a skateboard." After a while my dad brought out two more tall thin packages. When Ty opened his this time he found his custom skateboard inside but S3.... Well this is what he pulled out of his package:

Later my dad relented and gave S3 his actual board. Poor Ty was more upset over the whole gag anyway since (as S3 put it) S3 was sure he'd get his board eventually. Brat.

Steve gave my dad some disgusting looking gummy eyeballs.

My children gave me Elvis for Christmas. It's one of those glass blocks with the three-dimensional picture inside. It sits on a base that alternates between red and blue lights.

Steve surprised me with an auto detailing package for my van which is absolutely perfect since I have become the clean van nazi ever since we bought the new one.

Chef E is going to cook us all sorts of meals.

G pulled out the pottery wheel today for the first time. I don't think she did half bad for her first attempt.

And of course, the ring that I knew I was getting. It's such a shame to put such a pretty ring on such ugly fingers but hey, something has to be done to make them look better.

I gave Steve a money clip with his initials engraved on it since he doesn't like to carry a wallet anymore and a new golf bag. Ok really, I think my dad should get the credit for the golf bag. Sometime in November he emailed me and said, "Hey remember when we were talking about that gift idea for Steve?" I was totally baffled. Even after he reminded me of his idea (he'd noticed Steve needed a new bag one of the times they went golfing together) I still didn't remember the conversation. Anyway, Dad picked out the bag, hid it at his house and then when Steve was in Italy he even delivered it to my house with a large plastic bag to "wrap" it in. Pretty much all I did was stuff it behind my tree for a few days and then pull it out and say, "Ta-Da!" If you ask Steve what his favorite gift was this Christmas he'll tell you the bag but I know really it's the bluetooth headset my parents gave him for his cell phone.

I think it's going to take a whole different post to tell you about the DDR that Ty got...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Merry Christmas

I meant to post this the other day but didn't get a chance and I've been pretty sick since Christmas day. I hope you all had a blessed holiday!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

School Pictures, Part Deux

Since all the other kids had a portrait done at school and E did not, I took her to Sears. Why I went to Sears I don't know. It's not that they're unfriendly but I usually prefer the Picture People. They tend to take more natural pictures which I guess I prefer but in this case I wanted E's picture to match the other three kids' school shot. My only real complaint is that I wanted a bright background like the others had (remember G's hot pink?) and the photographer put her on blue. Why didn't I say anything? I don't know. I hate to rock the boat even with little things like this but I was kicking myself the minute we walked out of the studio. Anyway, the picture we bought came out really cute and will match well enough with the others.

Here are the rest that we didn't purchase - not because they aren't wonderful but because I think the kids might wonder if I had pictures of the baby all over the place and none of the rest of the gang LOL!

And here is S3's retake. It's much, much better and we got them back just in time!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Insane Soccer Mom You Say?

Look, S3 is not the world's best basketball player. It's not that he can't do it; it's more that he's not sure what to do. I have every confidence that he will improve mostly because it really makes him mad that he's not the world's best basketball player so he has a basketball in his hands every possible moment he can. However he is not getting a lot of actual game time.

During his last game I was unable to attend and my friend Joann told me the coach played S3 for the entire second half. Doesn't that just figure; the one game I miss. I had that in the back of my mind and then S3 asked me not to miss his game last night in Lansdale, so how could I say no?

So on a little less than two hours sleep, I loaded up the van with a bunch of kids who don't really enjoy basketball and drove 1.5 hours in heavy traffic to the middle of nowhere because my son asked me to do it. He did indeed get to play last night. In the last minute of the game. Literally. He had a terrific steal (or whatever they call it in basketball) and started to get the ball back to his basket and the buzzer sounded.

Hey at least I got to stop at a Boston Market on my way back home.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Poof, She's Gone

Sorry for the disappearing act. Steve's in Genoa, Italy and I've been working. I keep having experiences that I think, "Oh I should blog that," but by the time I get the chance, I've forgotten what happened! I hope I'll be back later this week but for now I'm just trying not to go under. I think this week my kids have spent more time at my parents' house than home in their own beds. Thank God I'm off tonight.

After all this time, last night I had my first fall. Some of the residents tend to roll out of bed at night or they'll try to transfer themselves without calling for help and they'll fall when I'm not in the room but last night was the first time I was actually in the bathroom with my resident when he fell. He's the sweetest man who says the funniest things but because he tends to fall, he has an alarm and when he's not in bed, someone has to be with him. He'd finished using the facility, had washed his hands and had pitched the towel toward the trash can but had missed. The same thing had happened when he used the toilet at midnight too and so I started to say, "Mr. L, don't worry about it, I'll get the towel," which is what I'd said at midnight too. Unfortunately I didn't even get the "Mr. L" part out and he was falling forward and about to crack his head on the counter. I tugged him back onto my legs and he and I managed to slowly lower to the floor without injury. Luckily for me the med nurse was down my hall so I hollered out to her that we were on the floor and she came in and helped me get him back up on his feet. It was a pretty scary experience. I always wondered if the time came if I'd be able to lower someone onto my own body the way the textbooks instructed or if my reflexes would be too slow. I really thank God for his protection last night. I believe otherwise my reflexes would have been too slow and also we'd have been in a real pickle if the med nurse hadn't been nearby since Mr. L's room is all the way at the end of the hall and the other aides were down their halls doing their rounds.

This morning the kids had their six month cleaning at the dentist. I believe I had mentioned in a previous post that our last dentist has retired so this was our first visit with this dentist. Ironically before we left my mother's house this morning she asked if E would be ok in the car since she'd had breakfast (E tends to get carsick very easily - we have a bucket in the car just for those moments) and I had replied that she'd probably be ok since we'd be on all highways. G and Ty went first for their cleanings and E danced around me the entire time asking when it was going to be her turn. Finally the dentist called her back and about twenty minutes later she came back to me with something brownish and wet staining her shirt and pants. This poor dentist! He said he sat her up so she could get a sip of water and she just spewed all over. He was amazed that it didn't faze her at all and she was indeed running around playing as if nothing in the world odd had happened. Well I guess for her spewing up her guts isn't that unusual but OMG that poor dentist. Can you imagine that surprise? HA! I feel bad for laughing but I just keep replaying that scene in my imagination.

Steve called a minute ago. He says Genoa is gorgeous. He told me to picture that scene in one of the Star Wars movies (I think it's the #1 movie, fourth one released) when the ship is landing on that planet that the queen is on - can't think of her name either but she is Luke and Leah's mom - and the way the city is on the cliff side with the sea below and that is a lot what it looked like when he flew into Genoa. So far he said he had a stromboli for dinner the other night and he could tell the cheese, mushrooms and ham were all really fresh. He's hoping to get over to Christopher Columbus' home at some point but since he forgot to take the digital with him, it'll be a while before we get to see any Italy pictures at all.

And last of what I can remember I wanted to tell you, I know one of the things I'm getting for Christmas! Before he left, Steve and I were in the mall looking for a gift for Ty and passed by a Kay jeweler. On a whim we stopped in and they happened to have the anniversary ring I've been wanting for three years (since our tenth) and it was 40% off. Yay! It not only looks fantastic next to my somewhat unique wedding band but also I can wear it to work. There are no prongs so there's no worry that I might accidentally scratch a resident with it. I'm very excited.

Ok friend, I'm off. I have a basketball game in Lansdale to watch. Hopefully I'll see you tomorrow! Ciao!

Friday, December 15, 2006

She Doesn't Just Sing

Melanie is amazing! I was over at her house this morning because they needed help getting the kids to school and my niece was showing me the mouse costume her mother made for my niece's Nutcracker debut. It's fantastic! Even the little mousie hat is lined with the pink satiny stuff. I told my niece if I were her mother, she wouldn't have been in the Nutcracker because I couldn't have ever made a mouse costume like this. Wow!

(Thank you E for modeling since Eeyore wasn't available at the moment)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Strangers with Candy

Well I'm strange and I made candy... That counts doesn't it?

Yesterday I began the candy making phase of Christmas. I usually make a little box up for the bus driver, the postman and my neighbors and I try to make different candies every year with one exception. Peanut Brittle. I always get lots of compliments on my brittle and I really think it has everything to do with the Watkins Vanilla that I use. In any case, here is my recipe and photo guide for making 10 Minute Peanut Brittle.

10 Minute Peanut Brittle
  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup

  • 1/8 tsp. salt

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups peanuts

  • 1 Tbsp. butter

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Combine sugar, syrup and salt in 2 qt. casserole or mixing bowl.

Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Be VERY CAREFUL whenever you remove the brittle from the microwave. Both the bowl and the candy is very hot and will leave a nasty burn.

Stir in peanuts and then microwave 2 to 5 minutes, stirring after 2 and 4 minutes until syrup and peanuts are lightly browned. This is the most important step! You do not want to under or over cook the candy.

In the mean time mix butter, vanilla, and soda together in a prep bowl.

Stir in butter, vanilla, and soda until light and foamy.

Spread to 1/4 inch thickness on large well buttered cookie sheet.

Break into bite-sized pieces once cooled.

Once you've made it with peanuts, get brave and experiment with other nuts. I love cashew brittle!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Who Really Cares?

I read this op in our local paper and was wowed. I'm not particularly a fan of O'Reilly but I would like to read Mr. Brook's book now...



So what are we to make of the fact that conservative Americans donate 30 percent more to charity than liberal Americans? A new book called "Who Really Cares," by Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks, is not going to please the Howard Dean crowd. The book states flat out that religious Americans who vote Republican are far more likely to be generous to the downtrodden than secular-progressives.

The big question is, of course, why? Liberal philosophy is all about "nurturing" people who need help. The "tax the rich" crew can't yell loud enough that more money needs to go to Americans in need. Just not their money.

That may be unfair but probably is not. The cornerstone of liberal economic thought is "income redistribution," that is big government taking assets from the affluent through taxation and giving said assets to the less well off through entitlements like subsidized health care, housing, educational scholarships and the like. The left is also big on imposed "economic justice," things like guaranteed wages and lifetime job security.

But a funny thing happened on the way to socialism. Americans who believe in "income redistribution" give 75 percent less to charity than Americans who do not, according to Dr. Brooks. That is a stunning differential.

I believe this is a religious thing. Secular-progressives believe in individual gratification, and that often takes money. Buying that jazzy new SUV and a vacation home can deplete disposable cash fast. If it's all about you -- then you are thinking about you -- not about poor Dave down the street.

But devoted Christians, Jews and Muslims are compelled to help the poor by their beliefs. Personal gratification is not a big theme in Scripture. Jesus was a huge "help your neighbor" guy. For J.C. it is all about Dave down the street, not the latest material possession.

The statistics say that religious Americans give four times as much money to charity each year than secular people and are 23 times more likely to volunteer to help people than folks who never attend church. And here's another crushing stat: If liberals donated blood at the rate conservatives do, the nation's blood supply would rise 45 percent.

So in this season of giving, Christmas, a word some liberals don't like to say, it might be worth pondering just who is really looking out for the have nots. The leftist media often portrays conservatives as mean, cruel and insensitive to the plight of the downtrodden. But, as the tax returns of multi-millionaires Dick Cheney and Al Gore prove, the media image is false. The vice president gives millions to charity, Mr. Gore very little.

So the next time you hear a big government liberal bloviate about helping the poor, please trot out the statistics mentioned in this column. And then tell that person that in America today giving money to charity seems to be the right thing. What's left is not even close.

Veteran TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor" and author of the book "Who's Looking Out For You?" To find out more about Bill O'Reilly, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at This column originates on the Web site

Originally Published on Saturday December 2, 2006

In Case Of Death, Break Glass

I have Googlehome set as my home page and one of the personalized items that appears daily is the WikiHow of the Day. Today's WikiHow is "How to Share Your Obituary With Your Online Friends." Interesting reading if you've never thought about it. Since I have a morbid fascination with death, I've already told Steve how to log into all my boards and I made him promise to contact the cross stitch girls before he gets rid of my stash.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sweeny Sister

Actually, my sister got roped into singing at my grandfather's assisted living community the other day - go read her blog about the details, it's pretty funny - and then her husband recorded the show when it aired on TV. He has been threatened not to show the video but he and I decided at dinner the other night that no one said that I could not share the video with the entire world, or at least the piece of it who visits my blog. I'm having trouble getting the whole file to download at the moment however so you'll have to click the link rather than just watching on YouTube. Sorry. I'll edit later if I can ever get it to work for me.

Aqua and Pearl Necklace

It's a Christmas gift that gave me such heartache while I was making it but it really turned out exactly as I'd imagined.

Review: Une Hirondelle A Fait Le Printemps (The Girl From Paris)

Ah, another French movie. I seem to be on a kick lately, don't I? In reality I enjoyed Michel Serrault's performance in Le Papillon that I looked for more of his movies. I would say that The Girl From Paris was a good movie but not quite as wonderful as Le Papillon. M. Serrault's performance was wonderful as a grumpy old farmer who, because of his declining health, decides to sell his family farm to a young woman from Paris. She has dreamed of the countryside and of becoming a farmer and quit her job to attend farming school in persuit of that dream. Soon both the old farmer man and the young city woman realize they have a lot to learn from each other. By the end of the movie I was wishing it wasn't finished yet, I so thorougly enjoyed the story.

"Simply Delightful" and "Endearing" are perfect ways to describe this movie.

Starring: Michel Serrault and Mathilde Seigner

Amy the Pampered Chef Lady

My friend Amy is the hardest working, most dedicated mother I have ever met. She does all these amazing things, she is an excellent cook, she sells Pampered Chef so she can stay home and she constantly volunteers her time at school and church. The one thing I think Amy does not do is take enough care of herself. She is so busy caring for the rest of us (I have frequently said I'd be lost without her!) that she never takes the time for Amy. She doesn't buy herself treats and she doesn't go out just for fun without her kids. I found these cute little cooking charms the other day and when I saw her at school running the Christmas shop for the kids and looking like she could happily pull her own hair out - who wouldn't look that way with 3,000,000 kids trying to pick out Christmas gifts - and I knew she just had to have them.

I know I didn't express my feelings to her well enough when I gave her the bracelet the other night because I was so worried about whether or not she'd actually like the bracelet and I was glad to see that she was really excited about it. Here's a closeup of the cooking charms:

Monday, December 11, 2006

It's Harder Than it Looks

S3's first game was not the most stellar performance I've ever seen him give but to his credit he learned from every mistake he made and he did not make any of them again. He was in for a total of three minutes for the very first game of the season. He did a fantastic job on defense but when he was passed the ball a look crossed his face that said, "OMG now what do I do?" and before he could decide, someone came along and took the ball from him. The coach made a good decision and pulled him out shortly afterward.

It turned out to be a good experience since we had a tournament this weekend and he ended up playing the entire second half of the third game. He did much, much better in that game so I have hopes that as the season progresses, so will his ability.

S3 told me that if anyone asks how his team did for the tournament I'm to say that they came in third. He said I don't have to mention that there were only four teams.

Christmas Concert 2006

G, Ty and S3 had their school concert on Friday. I tried to pick their three best songs and keep the clips under 20 seconds each. Here's the highlights video:

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Last night I was running late for work because of the kids' concert at school and when I got about a block from my house and saw a lot of cars and some flashing lights I thought there had been an accident. Reasoning that I was late and that they'd probably be making us all turn around anyway and watching the guy in front of me turn around and head the other direction brought me to the decision to make a quick U-turn in the middle of the road.

It was not one of my better decisions.

The police officer who pulled me over said, "You do realize you made an illegal U-turn right in front of me?"

No wait, it gets worse.

He says, "When we're doing a DUI check and cars start making U-turns we tend to get a little suspicious."

No wait, it gets worse.

We'd just had the van in the shop a while ago and I'd taken out the registration and insurance papers.

He says, "There is a $300 fine attached to not carrying your registration papers with you in the vehicle."

I'm not sure if it was the soccer mom van, the nursing scrubs or the copious tears but he said it was my lucky day because I seemed like a good person and he was really just looking for DUIs tonight.

Note to self: You are an idiot.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Idiot Mom Strikes Again

Ah it's been a while since I've seen Idiot Mom (a.k.a. I-Mom). She used to make lots of appearances but I really thought I had managed to banish her. Apparently she's stronger than I thought.

I-Mom is infamous for her idiocy. She forgets school activites. She burns dinner. She has poor judgement (sure you can drive the van!). She gets lost driving a block away. She messes up appointments. Yes, somehow I managed to royally screw up the kids' dentist appointments. In my defense it was really only half my fault this time.

I made the appointments last week for this morning and I even made all the arrangements for the kids' school activities that they'd miss while they were out this morning. So we all piled in the van and took off for the office which is right around the corner. There was a sign in the door that our dentist has retired and the doctor who is taking over his patients should go to a building one block down for their appointments. Well even though it's only a block away I got stinkin' lost so I called the office and told them I was their 8:45 appointment but I was lost.

Turns out there was some issue with our insurance and I had to check into our coverage for the cleanings vs. our coverage for cavities and they were expecting me to call back to confirm that I wanted the appointments. I thought I had the appointments and I would call back if our insurance would not cover the fees and I needed to cancel. They had cancelled our appointments and didn't have a hygenist in the office so basically I kept the kids home for nothing. If only there were snow on the ground. I could have called it a two-hour delay.

The good news is, I had a thought this morning so I threw my camera in the van on the way to take the kids to school and sure enough my feathered friend was hanging out on the side of the road again. He had his girlfriends with him today and either he is a chicken or they are birdbrains because when I pulled up next to him, he dashed into the weeds but the girls hung around wondering what the heck I was doing.

Confessions of a Thumbsucker

When I was very little, I used to steal my mother's couch pillows and spit on them. I would then lay my cheek in the spittle and suck my thumb. I can sort of remember why I did it too. I remember that it would make the pillow cold. I still like a cold pillow under my head although I don't hock up loogies much anymore. My mother said I ruined lots of couch pillows until finally I started using one that had a removable (and therefore washable) cover. He has a terrifically original name of Goldie (short for Gold Pillow) and I have him still. He is flat and his fabric is weak. I can't lay on him anymore for fear of tearing him more than he is already torn, but he is still my lovey. My sister tried to repair him for me once but he's just that old, he tore again almost immediately (she said, "You weren't supposed to LAY on him anymore stupid!").

Out of four children, two of them sucked their thumbs and both of those two children had loveys of their own. Ty carried around a ratty old crib comforter imprinted with dinosaurs. He used to stick the corner of the blanket in his ear, in the corner of his eye, up his nose and in between his toes to make it smelly. It was almost like a ritual; I would wash the blanket and he would immediately try to make it dirty and smelly again. After a while not just any corner of the blanket would do. He had a specific corner he particularly liked. His blanket's name was Cornie. He stopped sucking his thumb long before he outgrew using Cornie and it was a sad day for me when he decided he was too big to sleep with his baby blanket anymore.

E had a much odder "lovey". She used her belly button. I know, I know, that's weird but it's true. She used to stick her finger in her button and pop her thumb in her mouth. She had a very funny Pavlovian response - If I stuck my finger in her belly button she would still pop her thumb in her mouth. I wonder even now if I touched her belly button if she'd start sucking her thumb but it hasn't been that long since she broke the habit and I don't want to tempt fate by trying it out.

I can usually tell when someone was a thumb sucker. Most of us have a very slight speech impediment, so slight that I think most people don't notice it. We thumb suckers tend to have a slight "th" sound to our "s." I was lucky that my mother has her masters in speech pathology so when I'm not being lazy I have very clear diction but both my thumbsuckers have that slight "th" sound. We were watching MindFreak on tv last night and I suspect Criss Angel was a thumbsucker. Next time you're talking to someone, listen for it. Maybe you'll be able to tell if they were a thumbsucker or not.

I suspect my sister could tell you whether someone has had braces on their teeth for the same reason.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

To Match G's Nutcracker Dress

I have created this...

Now I just have to make matching earrings...

Impromptu Country Drive

A little while ago I got a call to work tonight and while I was checking my schedule to see if it would be feasible I noticed one of the kids has their Christmas shop at school today. I happen to know for a fact that none of the kids took money with them to school today and I know for a fact that that kid would be terribly upset. So I called the school and it turned out I had just enough time to run money over to the school before the scheduled time (btw, it was G that forgot her money).

On the way there I was cruising down this little back road that twists and turns around a creek when up ahead on the road I could see flares and flashing lights. I know because of the windy road that people tend to have lots of accidents and I was worried the road would be closed (I only know one way to school really well. The others I tend to get a teeny-weenie bit lost sometimes).

As it turns out there had been a water main break and around one of the turns the road had frozen and turned into a pure sheet of ice. Some guys had gone out to set up flares until PennDOT could come and salt. I asked the guy if I could still drive through, explaining my direction predicament and he said I could give it a shot so I slowly started up the twisted incline. There was a guy standing just off to the side of the bend in the road and I thought, "Boy that guy is brave," and I started going around the bend. I wasn't near him but he jumped out of the way anyway and I laughed. Brilliant!

On the way home I spotted a couple of interesting birds on the roadside and grabbed a pic with my phone. It's hard to see them but they're pretty little Ring-Neck Pheasants.

O Tannenbaum, Pt. 2

So I wouldn't overwhelm you guys with tree pics, I split them into two days. If you missed our tree-hunting adventure, you can read about it here.

We have really lucked out every year in that our lights have magically worked without any fuss or muss on our part. Unfortunately this year out luck ran out. I think the guys managed to combine enough of the strands that we ended up with one that worked. I'm slightly disappointed that we only have one strand of lights on the tree this year but I'm sure I'll make up for it next year.

I thought the girls were really pretty patient while Dad and Mr. Fix-It worked on the lights. They were so excited to start decorating and the dancing around was driving Steve crazy so I stuck them on the couch with pinwheels and that entertained them until he finished.

Usually I do all the work when it comes to decorating for Christmas but I was grumpy so this year I decided no matter what happened I was going to sit on my butt and watch everyone else decorate. It was the nicest decorating experience I've had yet.