Thursday, December 28, 2006

tedium, tedium

yesterday afternoon, i helped h put together his lego bionicle playset. that is, if by "helped" you mean "put the whole thing together while child and kittens fiddled with the plastic bits." have ANY of you taken on a large scale lego project in your lives? it is eye-straining, back-spasming tedium. i've put together piles and piles of the actual bionicle robots, they're very easy and very playable once they're built. you can even take them apart and interchange the parts into your own cool new robot creation! wow. but this playset, this was a whole different story. there were about 15 little plastic baggies in the set, each filled with a few hundred shiny, colorful lego building blocks in diffrent sizes and shapes. what they don't tell you on the exterior of the package is that THERE IS ONLY ONE OF THE PIECE YOU NEED, and that YOU HAVE TO FIND IT AMONG THE 20,000 OTHER PIECES.

oh, honestly. h was trying to help me find the appropriate piece per the instructions, if by "trying" you mean messing around with the kittens. usually i could find what i needed, but occasionally it would take 10 minutes to locate the small, flat, red, square, four-nubbed piece necessary to build the ENTIRE rest of the structure. one time, i asked h to go upstairs and get his basic box of legos so i could substitute an unfound piece, and he said, "i'm too sick!" my reply? "then i'm too sick to build the rest of this castle!" (i'm not normally so snotty, but this was after at least 3 hours of legoing. my patience was running thin.) he slunk off the chair and plodded, head down, toward the stairs when i shouted, "FOUND IT!" boy, was he relieved not to put in the effort of 14 stairsteps.

the end result was... i would use the word "breathtaking..." but it was really just underwhelming. all that work? all those itty bitty pieces? for THIS?! h enjoyed playing with the built set until it slowly began to fall apart from playing with it. that's right, folks, FALL APART. from PLAYING. with a TOY. then orion knocked over the towers. then it was bedtime.

it's still on the kitchen table today, and my question is, what to do with it? i can semi-dismantle it and place it in a box, but will it ever again be rebuilt? will it get played with in a semi-built mode? will it crumble into it's original state of a zillion pieces disconnected? but most importantly... what was the point?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

christmas morning

i'm a little late posting the christmas morning photos, mostly because i'm overwhelmed with mess! also, blogger was being testy, then s got pneumonia. i am SO SICK of the doctor's office, i can't even tell you. and i didn't even blog about t's trip there last week which darn near resulted in one-way ambulance trip to the hospital. hopefully everyone is really, truly, FINALLY on the road to recovery (except me, i'm fine).

christmas photos never look so great, but it's the nostalgia that keeps me taking them year after year. luckily, only the back of my head made it into a few photos. photo avoidance is critical.

here is my sweet boy on christmas morning, perusing the gi joe sigma 6 toy he got from grandma & papa. his gift from santa was a razor scooter (faintly visible behind his head), but he got loads of books and action figures, too.
above: i'm just surveying the mess from on high...

girlfriend was ecstatic over diego's animal rescue center. a little babyish for her, but she has a crush on diego. not to mention that she loves animals.

santa brought her the blonde american girl doll; the dark haired one (samantha) is mine. ALL MINE! AND I'M NOT SHARING! no, really. s wanted all the native american accoutrements for the doll, but wanted the doll to have blonde hair and blue eyes like her. no problem. we did extensive research for an appropriate name, and dubbed the doll "kaliska" which means 'coyote hunting deer' in miwok. clever!

altogether we had fun. i got nice new clothes, and t got an xbox 360. but christmas isn't so much about us adults now, is it?

hope yours was fun, too.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

christmas pictures

these are the photos i intended to intesperse with the perfectly pc holiday greeting below as an ironic contradiction. it was good in theory, but a blogger reality prevented it.

my babies on santa's lap... have you heard the terrible song "i farted on santa's lap"? well, that's all i can think of when i see this photo. sigh.

s is JUST learning to write, and worked VERY HARD on this drawing. the bag in her hand is a dog carrier with a dog in it.

she wore this outfit to several holiday events... the nose blinked on and off. my littlest reindeer!

again, merry christmas and happy holidays.

Hello Melissa: Holiday Edition

hey all! i've been trying for 2 days to upload cheerful holiday photos... obviously unsuccessfully... to add to this greeting. no, i did not write it, but found it very funny. my best to you all and your families!

"Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion as well as those who choose not to practice a religion at all."

"Additionally, a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions have helped make our society great, without regard to the race, creed, color, religious, or sexual preferences of the wishes."

"(Disclaimer: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others and no responsibility for any unintended emotional stress these greetings may bring to those not caught up in the holiday spirit.)"

Friday, December 22, 2006

you look so cute in that hat!

i promise no more kitten photos after this. they are still a novelty, and SO DARN CUTE. they curled up today in h's "samurai jack" hat and my cowgirl hat. awwwww! just like a cheesy cat calendar!then orion curled up in the boughs of the christmas tree. more kitty calendar cheesiness! fun for everyone! now that you're all thoroughly sick to your stomachs, you can join t and s in their vomit-fest. h is only hacking up a lung. me?? i'm just fine, thanks, after 52 1/2 loads of laundry.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

about these kittens...

the family is adjusting to the kittens really well! tibby is hissing and growling at them, but tibby hisses and growls at everyone and everything, so that's to be expected. jane follows them with loads of curiosity, and is starting to play with them. the kids have mini kitty scratches all over their hands and shoulders, but that doesn't deter them from loving these little guys to bits.

the kitties are adjusting to our home and family! they are eating more, playing more (the floor is littered with little kitty toys) and have done no major amount of destruction. we have discovered that they like people food, unfortunately, because i served up pumpkin pie with whipped cream and they both wanted their helpings.

however, the cutest thing is that jingle bell nurses on orion's ear when they're snuggled up together. it is so cute! tibby has always suckled his back foot, but i'd never seen a cat do that to another cat. orion gets a little irritated, but gives her a few minutes before he shakes his head and stalks away. very funny.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

orion and jingle bell

yesterday there was a flyer in the mailbox from a foster home for cats. seems the county shelter was so overrun that the foster mother had somewhere around 60 cats at her home and pottery studio that needed adopting. one of our two cats died last summer, and the other cat is just pure evil, so i'd been considering another kitten in the back of my brain for awhile.

when this flyer appeared, i showed it to t, and he thought it might be a good idea to get a kitten for jane. she wants SO BADLY to be friends with the devil cat, but tibby wants nothing to do with her. i called the foster parent, her name is siglinda scarpa, and she also happens to be a reknowned italian-american sculptor. if you need to rent a villa in tuscany, give her a call!

we agreed to meet the cats today when i got done volunteering at the school christmas parties. i went home, grabbed t, and away we went to the goat house gallery. it is a beautiful goat farm, with dogs, cats, and peafowl running around, and fountains trickling behind bent-wood fences along the path from the house to the studio. the studio was almost infested with cats of every size, shape and color. i am a "cat person," so snuggling a zillion sweet kitties was heaven to me. there were several possibilities in the kitten department, but i left the ultimate decision to t. it came down to a sweet, trilling black female or a brother and sister grey tabby set.

t decided on the siblings.

we brought them home and let them get used to some sounds and smells on the back porch, including jane. jane was far more scared of them than they were of her! she cowered when they growled, but within minutes they were all doing fine. the kids got off the bus, and we blindfolded them to surprise them and put one kitten in each of their laps. they had NO IDEA this was coming, so their little faces lit up, and then the laughing ensued.

s claimed the girl and christened her "jingle bell."

h claimed the boy and named him "orion."

they're terrorizing the christmas tree as i type, but there is loads of giggling involved so i am happy. i'll keep you up to date on our new arrivals as the days go by!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

white russian

i was looking for an alcoholic adventure in my nearly-bare liquor cabinet this evening, and came across my almost-empty bottle of kahlua. ah HAH! that's it! it had been awhile since i mixed up a white russian. although it's been incredibly and gorgeously warm here (68-70 during the day) i still want a small taste of the season, and what better than this drink.

first, take a real klassy tumbler like my 'tom and jerry' jelly jar (surf's up!) and add the following, in this order:

crushed ice
1 shot vodka
1 shot kahlua (or bailey's)
and top it with milk or cream.

or eggnog if you're feeling REALLY festive, but i will not endorse the final product as i've never tried it.

you can either stir it or drink it as-is, it's simply delectable. like ice cream for grownups. just don't tell anyone i'm a grownup, k? i'm still in denial.

happy sipping everyone!

ps. i missed my 200 post anniversary a few posts back, so... HAPPY 200th POST-A-VERSARY, HELLO, MELISSA!! here's to 200 more.

Friday, December 15, 2006

someday my prints will come...

unbelievably, our "home" computer printer has not worked since about june. i kept thinking i could uninstall and reinstall, or magically fix it with an update. i've uploaded, restarted, stood on my head, YOU NAME IT! but the printer still refused to work (although the attached scanner worked... odd...).

yesterday we threw in the towel while ordering much-needed ink for the work printer. we needed the package overnight, and to add a whole printer to the overnight order only added $2 to the shipping costs, so we bit.

now it's all prettily installed, and printing all the receipts and necessaries that have been awaiting printing for the past, oh, 6 months. yeeehaw! i'm so excited, i feel almost normal again.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

hot diggity blog ziggety

this morning while i was sleeping, jane the wonder dog started whining at h's bedroom door.

"stop whining!" i told her. "it's not time to get up yet."

i rolled over and looked at the clock. it was 6:30, the time i get h up and dressed. i had forgotten to set my alarm.

needless to say, janey was treated like a queen today, as if she wasn't every day.

confirming what i've secretly known for some time...

You are The High Priestess

Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.

The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know. The High Priestess is also associated with the moon however and can also indicate change or fluxuation, particularily when it comes to your moods (me? moody?).

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

thanks, lotus for the fun quiz. t ("the sun") cracked up when he saw high priestess, while i threw my arms up in the air like a champ. we thought about doing a fake quiz, putting in answers like "asexual" for gender and "vengeance" as a thing we value, but heck, it's time to get to work now.

anybody else wanna play along?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

tuesdays with melissa

each tuesday (as long as no one is barfing up a lung or something) i go to the kids' school to volunteer. i tried to help at school a few years back, and had trouble committing since s was still at home with me and t's schedule was crazy. last year, i attempted to join and contribute to the pta instead, an endeavor that ultimately ended up crashing and burning... THANKFULLY before i lost my sanity. since i really do enjoy the kids, and have much more time on my hands now, i thought it would be better to go back to helping KIDS, and the teachers of my kids in particular. this has been a resounding success for all, and the best part is I LOVE IT and look forward to every tuesday.

first of all, theirs is a small country k-8 school, and a very warm and inviting place. if the pay for a fun job like assistant teacher weren't so ridiculously low, i'd be working there full-time in a heartbeat! as it stands, i go in at 9:30 to help in s's kindergarten. i then proceed to have lunch with her class, then h's 2nd grade class, then help out during the 2nd grade "workshops." sometimes i'm home by 1:30.

kindergarten is a riot. this bunch is loud, funny, crazy and smart, although prone to the immature. the teacher and i were trying to figure out WHY today, and discovered that many of them are the babies of their families! interesting, huh? mostly what i do there is tutor kids individually on alphabet, sounds, words or sentences depending on their ability level. the spectrum is broad... some are reading books, while others only know a few capital letters. occasionally i'm pressed into service doing crafts, monitoring recess, filing papers or passing out snacks... you name it, i do it.

lunch is really pretty boring because for me it ends up to be almost an hour long. and that school food! do you remember it? sometimes lunch is uneventful, with the kindergartners competing for my attention on pointless knock-knock jokes, or needing help opening their milk cartons. the second graders are really into making fart noises with their armpits or asking you to spell "i cup" for them. today was much more eventful as a boy in s's class barfed all over the lunchroom floor and i was left in charge of 19 five- and six- year olds while the teacher took him to change his clothes and to call his mom (the assistant teacher was home sick). instead of having lunch with h, i took mercy on the k teacher as she had had no bathroom break and virtually no lunch, and returned to her class to help her some more.

the second graders are shockingly smart, and much more independent than the kindergartners. i "float" through the room, helping anybody that needs assistance on whatever task they're on. it's SO much easier for the most part than the little kids, but today the big kids were SO full of giggles and wiggles. it was a "sit down and FOCUS!" kind of day, and a kid in h's class also was sick (we got him out before he could barf) causing some drama for the whole group.

normally i'd go home at this point, but taking pity on the kindergarten teacher, i helped her wrap up a few loose ends before leaving.

and i'll do it all over again each and every tuesday! i feel so lucky to be able to know my kids' school, teachers, and friends so well, and it also gives me a frame of reference as to what their curriculum is, as well as their individual strengths and weaknesses in the classroom. also, both my kids and the kids in their classes are so glad to have me there, and i get so many smiles and hugs. it's incredibly rewarding, and i hope i can continue to volunteer for the rest of my kids' school careers.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

my young author

yesterday, t went to school to discuss Being An Illustrator to h's 2nd grade class as they are writing their "young authors" books. he got there at 12:30 and called me at 1:30 saying um? henry feels sick and looks green? and i'm on my bike? so off i went to school, grabbed the boy, went to warn the girl that the boy wouldn't be on the bus with her (she worries) and she burst into tears over her snack of donuts so i took them both home. half an hour later, h got the chills, a fever of 102 and started barfing. he proceeded to sleep, barf again, then wake up at 10:30 pm asking for pancakes and sausage. i agreed to the pancakes, but NO WAY was i gonna clean up partially digested sausage. he's feeling much better today, but we skipped dance class today... JUST IN CASE. anyhow, the following is h's story, and i'll post the illo once it's done.

it's a southwestern retelling of "jack in the beanstalk," and i love all the exclamation points.

Jack Rabbit and the Giant Cactus Stalk
By H L Edwards

There once was a poor family that only held Jack Rabbit and his Mamma. It was a hard year in the desert. One day, Jack Rabbit went off into the desert. Suddenly, he saw something pokin’ out of the sand.

“What in the tater sauce is that!” explained Jack Rabbit. He RAN over to see what it was. And it was a… coyote skull! Then he picked it up and started hoppin’ down the bunny trail to his home. When he got home he shouted out, “Mamma! Mamma! Loooook at what I found!”

“What is it this time?!?” said Mamma.

“I found a coyote skull!” said Jack Rabbit. “We could sell it for some money!”

“That’s wonderful!” said Mamma. “We could sell it to the tree lizard antique collector!”

“Okay, I will, Mamma!” said Jack Rabbit as he started hopping all the way to the antique collector.

When Jack Rabbit found the antique collector he spoke: “If I give you this coyote skull could you give me some money?”

“Oh, you don’t NEED money!” said the antique collector. “How about I trade you some Magic Cactus Seeds?” said the antique collector in his deepest southern accent.

“Okay, I’ll take ‘em!” said Jack Rabbit, unsure about this. He gave the antique collector the coyote skull, and the antique collector gave Jack Rabbit the Magic Cactus Seeds. Jack Rabbit the twelve-year-old bunny started hopping home.

When Jack Rabbit showed his seeds to his mom, she threw them out the window, saying nothing. Jack Rabbit heard his Mamma crying. He felt bad for her. Jack Rabbit thought they might help. It wasn’t his fault. So, Jack Rabbit was sent to bed without supper.

That night, when Mamma and Jack Rabbit were sound asleep, a stem started growing in their yard. Then it got prickly. After that, there was a saguaro cactus in the blink of an eye! Then it grew taller and Taller and TAller and TALLEr and TALLER! And at that time, it touched the sky!

Jack Rabbit could not sleep. He got up to get some fresh air and then he saw that cactus. He couldn’t believe his eyes! The seeds had worked!

“Hmmm?” thought Jack Rabbit. “Maybe there’s some gold and money up there!” But how could he climb a cactus?

So… Jack Rabbit got four big stones, found some prickly pear fruit, and splattered it on each stone. The four stones were sticky now! Jack Rabbit put both of his feet and paws on one of the stones. When he started climbing, the quills of the saguaro cactus were falling off! About two hours later, Jack Rabbit had touched the clouds! He thought it was worth trying to walk on the clouds. Jack Rabbit put one foot on the cloud then another… and good thing he was standing on the clouds. But in a far distance, he could see The Biggest Castle he had ever seen!
Jack Rabbit decided to walk up to it. When he got to the door it was HUGE!

Jack Rabbit was curious, so he creaked open the door and went in. Creeeek! But then…Jack Rabbit heard a “Tee Tie Toe Tum! I smell the blood of a Western Rabbit!”

Jack Rabbit hid behind the giant stove. Jack Rabbit peeked out from behind the stove and saw… A Giant Desert Tortoise! The Giant Desert Tortoise was going to look behind the stove! Jack Rabbit ran quietly to behind the giant green sofa!

“There’s nothing there,” groaned the Giant Desert Tortoise.

But then, Jack Rabbit heard a squawk! Jack Rabbit followed the sound while the Giant Tortoise fell to sleep. Then Jack rabbit came to a room of roadrunners trapped in cages!!!!!!!!!!

“P l e e e e e a s e let us out of here!” whispered one of the roadrunners.

“Where’s the key?” whispered Jack Rabbit.

“The Giant Desert Tortoise has it!” explained another roadrunner.

“Alright!” whispered Jack Rabbit. “I’ll get the key!”

“But you might never return!” whispered another one of the roadrunners.

Jack Rabbit left, not saying anything!

Soon, Jack Rabbit was in the Giant Desert Tortoise’s bedroom. Quietly, Jack Rabbit crept up to the Giant Desert Tortoise’s chest and quietly picked up the giant key and hopped down off of the bed.

Jack Rabbit ran instead of hopped to the room with the roadrunners! He unlocked every cage and the roadrunners ran out! One of them gave Jack Rabbit a ride!

Suddenly, the Giant Desert Tortoise came running down the hall! “Give me back my roadrunners!” yelled the Giant Desert Tortoise!

The roadrunners got down the cactus in five seconds. It didn’t hurt their feet because Jack Rabbit knocked the quills off on the way up. But then the Giant Desert Tortoise accidentally fell off the cactus instead of climbing! The Giant Desert Tortoise exploded at the bottom!

The roadrunners gave Jack Rabbit enough money to buy food for five years! They then lived happily ever after!

The End

Friday, December 08, 2006

stop me if you've heard this one...

three blondes are out hunting when they come upon some tracks.

"are those moose tracks?" asked the first blonde.

"no, i'm pretty sure they're bear tracks," said the second blonde.

the third blonde didn't get to say anything because she got hit by the train.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

abc me me me

okay j, i'll play along.

A - Available/single? happily unavailable since june 1992
B - Best Friend? my man
C - Cake or Pie? pie i think... pumpkin or pecan
D - Drink Of Choice? coffee
E - Essential Item You Use Everyday? toothbrush... i'm a clean mouth freak
F - Favorite Color? green green green
G - Gummy Bears Or Worms? the white/clear gummy bears
H - Hometown? can't really claim one, but i grew up in carmel, in
I - Indulgence? sushi
J- January Or February? the forsythia blooms in february, which means spring isn't far behind
K - Kids & Their Names? h, a boy aged 8, and s ("toilet"), a girl aged 5
L - Life Is Incomplete Without? family
M - Marriage Date? april 15. tax day!!!
N - Number Of Siblings? 2 brothers: 1 older and 1 much (10 yrs) younger
O - Oranges Or Apples? oranges, esp in the fresh squeezed juice form
P - Phobias/Fears? something bad happening to my kids
Q - Favorite Quote? "take it for what it is" axl rose
R - Reason to Smile? my family & dog. generic, i know
S - Season? spring. a fresh, clean, new beginning after the cold
T - Tag Three or Four People? eh, whoever wants to play
U - Unknown Fact About Me? i don't wash my face at night
V - Vegetable you don’t like? raw onions
W - Worst Habit? probably picking my fingernails or swiping at my runny nose with a sleeve for lack of kleenex
X - X-rays You’ve Had? most recently TEETH when i had braces 2 yrs ago
Y - Your Favorite Food? can't pick. too many. i love food.
Z - Zodiac Sign? cancer, and i'm VERY typical of the sign

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

comfort food

when your mind wanders, do you ever ask yourself those "what if" questions? as in, what if i went back to school, what would i study? or what if i opened a store, what kind of store would it be? how would it be decorated? what products would i carry?

the entrepreneurial part of me is thriving, however i don't have the drive to be a small business owner, and dreaming is all i am able to do. the main ponderings i do are about restaurants, and what kind i would open.

after years of careful daydreaming, i have decided that i would open a restaurant called "comfort food" (and yes, i was born a cancer). the decorations would be warm colors, woods and plushes. a couple of roaring fires would invite folks to eat their dinners on easy chairs at a coffee table. it would be small and quaint so as to reduce hustle and bustle, and would smell like mom roasting turkey and baking apple pie at the same time.

the menu would serve breakfast all day. breakfast is one of my favorite comfort foods. eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast, benedict... you name it. all day. a fully stocked oatmeal/grits/cream of wheat bar would be in place where you could choose your own toppings for stirring in. lunches would be mostly creamy soups and thick stews (not from a can) with buttery biscuits and a selection of hot teas... infused of course, no teabags.

dinner would feature bubbly casseroles and sauteed vegetables... primarily squashes and such. roast beef or turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy would always be available. my favorite idea would be that patrons could request THEIR OWN comfort foods from the chef. if the idea is chosen, it would be a special of the week for everyone to try... maybe to become a comfort food for them, too!

dessert would be a focus on pies and puddings. possibly apple, pecan and pumpkin pie, a cheesecake thrown in for good measure, with bread pudding and rice pudding as staples.

i know it's a brief description (must wake children. must shower. must go to dentist), but what do YOU think? what would YOU want to see at a restaurant that featured comfort food? which foods do you turn to? it's easier to ponder with the weather outside being frightful and all... :)

Monday, December 04, 2006

new post

in response to lotus' comment on my last post...


i wrote a lengthy, thoughtful post this morning before running errands the rest of the day and blogger ATE IT. i swear, i am not making that up. here is the condensed version.

f went home on friday. she was happy. i was emotional.

shopping nightmare after dance class saturday.

took the kids to "nutcracker" on sunday.

did a bunch of stuff i needed to do today.

more when i'm less frustrated with losing posts.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

ToiletBob CacaMilk

i now appear to have a new nickname... ToiletBob!! this is a 3 year old's way of saying "s's mom." i was getting her some chocolate milk, which sounds kinda like "caca milk" coming from her, and my kids were rolling on the floor laughing about ToiletBob getting CacaMilk.

i have f through friday. it's been fun and successful... hopefully we'll get a few more days of enjoyment and then she can go home. the summerlike weather has put all of us in high spirits. having a warm breeze blow through the house at this time of year is heavenly.

obviously, there's a ton more to this whole story, and my emotions are running exceptionally high. i'm so fortunate to have such a supportive and wonderful family behind me-- especially my husband. he's my hero.

Monday, November 27, 2006


as if this update is interesting, but my brain can't think on a philosophical level at this point! i KNEW there was a reason i didn't have four kids!! the here and now is about all you can muster. everyone will just have to await my ponderings of comfort food (brought on by lotus' food meme) until i am less scattered. deal?

today i kept the 7 yr old boy-- "m" home from school with his 3 year old sister--"f" while my kids went to school. hey, i'm playing this by ear, and since they're not my kids, i must bend to parental authority. anyhow, we had a successful day walmarting and playing outside in the 70 degree sunshine. beautiful! we all got my kids off the bus at 3 pm and more playing ensued. their mom was dealing with funeral arrangements, but came at 5 or so to see how things were going.

OH BOY did the poop hit the fan. those of you with children understand that kids are immaculately behaved for strangers because they are outside their comfort zone. they know that if they misbehave for mom and dad, well, mom and dad will still love them! when they are not so comfortable, they rein in their emotions. apparently f and i are still in the honeymoon phase because for me, she is an angel. mom came and she was clingy, cry-ey, whiny, and just a terrible pain in the patella, which overwrought mom just didn't know how to handle in her emotionally fragile state. whew!

i had been brewing turkey rice soup all day with the thanksgiving leftovers (YUM!) so while we feasted on that, mom pondered what path she would like to take. it was decided that both kids would stay here again tonight (m decided for himself) and i would meet her at m's school tomorrow morning, without f.

distracting f was amazingly easy, and she has completely readjusted to our routine with not even a mention of mom. whew! i'm glad to keep her here in happy oblivion for a while longer.

so the status is: girl for one more day, boy for morning and possibly after school.

and to sruthi's question of the animals: yes! we have a dog and a cat, and since they have 2 dogs and 2 cats at home, they're all getting along famously. and jane (our crazy border collie) gives us a reason to all go for a long hike in the fresh air every day. it's for the dog! really! she REALLY needs to take a walk and herd us all together! yeah! absolutely NOTHING to do with burning off juvenile energy AT ALL!

Sunday, November 26, 2006


due to a dramatic and soap-opera-like development in the lives of one of my friends (who shall remain anonymous), i have inherited a three-year-old girl for the past couple of days, and all the full-blown hurricane force rosy-cheeked, bright-eyed craziness that comes with it.

i mean, normally i steer as far from personal dramas as humanly possible as i don't want anyone else's stuff to possibly break or harm the sanctity of our home. i'm a "family first" kind of gal, and protect my cubs (and my man) with a fierce loyalty. but when these dramas affect little children, i go all cuckoo. i know, i know, we can't save them all. but when entrusted with said 3 year old for the time being, of course i can't say no. it means keeping her out of some pretty intense emotional turmaoil and family upheaval; instead, she's in the most boring, stable, warm, happy, loved place-- our house. i'm sure that being apart from her family is causing her stress, but we all are trying to keep her so busy with the normal goings-on of our house, all i see on her little face are smiles. we're loving her up one side and down the other.

honestly, i'm enjoying the heck out of this. can it really only be 2 years ago that we had a three year old girl running around OUR house?? impossible. this boundless excitement for every box of toys and every puzzle and every silly preschool tv show is insane. no eye-rolling, "do-i-have-to" sarcasm at all. she BELIEVES you when you tell her she's the very best picker-upper in the whole wide world and picks up the toys with wild abandon just to get a sticker.

my kids are on the moon over this... i hear their cackles over this little girl's antics ring throughout the house. of particular hilarity is the fact that when she says s's name, it sounds remarkably like "toilet." so, s has a new and uproarious nickname, added to the long list of nicknames that start with "the beast" and "the bee" or just plain "B." now she's "toilet," too.

i'll let y'all know how this plays out, but i feel like the longer i can keep her here in steady normalcy, the better. i just wish i could grab the other three kids in the family and help them, too. perhaps this little girl is just who i was meant to help right now... one child at a time, right?

Friday, November 24, 2006

black friday

today is black friday, the day that retailers rejoice. they slash their prices to insane proportions on big-ticket, must-have items on everyone's christmas lists. they then put scads of ads on television, in the paper, on the radio, and on flyers, in the hopes that just a few people will camp out (like my little brother) and even more will show up at the insanely early hour of 5 am to scrabble through the throngs of grabbing consumers to get that blazing-hot deal.

count me out.

for those that know me, i abhor heaving throngs of humanity. i'd rather pay $50 more for an item than fight a crowd for it. i love internet shopping, and walmart on monday morning. i'll suffer with no milk all weekend rather than fight the after-church sunday crowd for groceries!

how about you? were you the first lined up at the door for the sale, or are you in your jammies sipping coffee feeling sorry for all those folks shoving their way to the best possible prices??

Thursday, November 23, 2006


i'm going to let h, age 8, to say it for me this thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

baby boy

**WARNING** this post contains the story of my son's birth.

my itsy-bitsy, teensy-tinesy, little bitty baby boy turned 8 years old today.
how did THAT happen? just yesterday i was giving birth to my first child, and suddenly he's halfway to getting his drivers license. and he doesn't legally need a car seat anymore! huh? it's hitting me like a ton of bricks.

8 years ago yesterday i was 6 days before my due date, happily finishing an important deadline before i gave birth. figuring he'd be LATE instead of EARLY as many first babies are, i knew i'd have no problem finishing coloring the issue of "tattered banners" drawn by mike mcmahon (a comic for those unenlightened). so at 2:40 PM i was sitting in front of the computer on my spinny chair, t and his friend george behind me, discussing their plans to leave for raleigh (almost an hour away) when i felt a "pop" sensation. i was afraid i was going to have to fart in front of george when suddenly.... WHOOSH! my water had broken. all over the chair, and luckily the plastic rolling pad that was under it. i was partially relieved that it wasn't a fart, partially disgusted that i made such a mess, partially freaked out that i wouldn't meet my deadline, and partially EXCITED we were going to meet our baby boy!

t freaked out. he was running around like in a sitcom, packing bags, starting cars, about to faint from not eating. since i hadn't even HAD A CONTRACTION, i told him to chill the heck out and go to subway, then go get some depends undergarments for the trip to the hospital 'cause i was really... damp. while i walked around trying not to leak, i called my editor. "oops! gotta go give birth, might miss the deadline!" she was as understanding as an editor could be, and by 5 or so we were on our way to the hospital.

we got to our room, and i was still feeling really good. i got in the tub, watched some tv, and just hung out with t while dealing with mild contractions. this went on until maybe 9 or 10 when i just wanted to sit in the rocking chair with a heating pad on my back. no one could get me out of that rocking chair. i wanted to stay in that rocking chair forever! the contractions were getting harder and harder, and there was no pleasant "pause" between them where you can regroup your thoughts as they had told me in childbirth class that there would be. finally, at maybe 11:45 pm, i begged for drugs. the nurses were so laid back, and had let us labor in peace for the most part, so they were like, "oh, sure. we'll go look for somebody to help you with that." poor t almost had his hand broken, all i wanted to do was squeeze his hand. don't look at me, don't talk to me, don't move me, don't touch me. just let me squeeze your hand.

around midnight, with no drugs in sight, i guess i started grunting (in the rocking chair) because a nurse poked her head in and said, "are you pushing?" well, heck. how was i supposed to know if i was pushing? i'd never had a baby before, and wasn't quite sure how that whole thing went. "I DON'T KNOW!!!!" i wailed, and she said, "i'm calling your doctor (who was still resting comfortably at home)."

at maybe 12:15 am on november 19th, i was in the bed ready to push. but... there was no doctor! and there were still no drugs. at this point i was thrilled... i was going to do this without drugs! yee-haw! the nurses had me "blow it away" until the doctor came, in other words, don't push out a baby who's coming out anyway. the doctor showed up at about 12:30, i pushed the kid out in like 10 minutes, and we had ourselves a screaming mad little baby boy, his little chin aquiver.

i was NOT prepared for all the pain to be over. immediately. a high like i'd never known before swept over me and we cried with excitement and love and exhaustion over our sweet baby, who looked JUST LIKE walter matthau. "I THINK WE HAVE TO NAME HIM WALTER!" i said through my tears, although that was NOT among the chosen name possibilities.

long story short, i was ready to go home the next hour, but they wouldn't let me (surprise). i took a shower, they cleaned the baby, the doctor got a good night's sleep after all, and the baby didn't look so much like walter matthau after all. but he did have thick black hair, an enormous head, and ears that resembled an elephant-- they stuck out on both top AND bottom. and such cuteness and sweetness we'd never seen. we named him henry in honor of indiana jones. we left the hospital FINALLY at about 6 pm. i just wanted to take our baby home.

here he is today, as i wanted a photo of him on his 8th birthday. he took these 3 goofy photos before crying because i told him to act natural. maybe a bit sleepy from the chuck-e-cheese's trip and sleepover last night? well, aren't we all.

happy birthday, little buddy. we love you more than you'll ever know.

Friday, November 17, 2006

i hate-y bugs

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home. No, really.

Ladybugs. Innocuous, sweet ladybugs. These little beetles, known as coccilinidae have become a sort of symbol of everything that is cute in the natural world. They’re small! They’re shiny. They’re bright RED! They have adorable little polka dots! Everywhere you look, you see ladybugs adorning products. Products ranging from bed wear to bath gear, from stationery to rain boots. Everyone seems to just love ladybugs! I used to love ladybugs! I mean, what’s NOT to love about ladybugs? Even the wikipedia states that, “Because they are useful, colourful, and harmless to humans, coccinellids are typically considered cute even by people who hate most insects. Some people consider seeing them or having them land on one's body to be a sign of good luck to come, and that killing them presages bad luck.”

I’ll tell you what’s not to love.

The fact that they are helpful to humans is what’s not to love. Here’s the deal: ladybugs are natural insectivores and will consume nasty pests like aphids and fruit flies that may cause damage to crops. Thus, each year in the mountains of western north Carolina, usually in October or November, the great state of north Carolina releases oh, maybe about seventy five gazillion ladybugs to defeat any damagey pest that may come their way. And then, as the weather grows colder in the mountains, they slowly fly their little wings westward towards-- who else?-- ME!

i'll tell you what happens then. the little things creep into every crevice of our home, wheedling their way it to even the tightest cracks. those "cute little ladybugs-- by the HUNDREDS-- swarm the air, clog the windows and INFEST the whole place. mostly in sunny rooms with windows, they leave slimy brown trails of muck on white ceilings and woodwork. they congregate in ceilings where they proceed to die, dropping onto the floor where you might step on them, or EVEN BETTER into your DRINK without you noticing. then, if you take a sip, you'll find out that ladybugs TASTE much like they SMELL. a rotten, sawdusty type nastiness that haunts us several months of the year.

what's even better about these little-- BUGGERS-- is that if you're RWALLY lucky, they'll make an undetectable nest in your home so you can enjoy them ALL YEAR LONG!!! woo-wee! i can't even begin to tell you how many ladybugs i've swept, vaccuumed, picked, dumped and cursed at over the years. they're on the sills, in the dog water, in the tubs and toilets, on the mantel... you name it. they're invading us.

so, next time you see a cute, sweet, innocent little ladybug, think of me cursing them to bits instead. they're foul! i'm boycotting all those sweet little ladybug products by the way. it's time these marketers learned the evil truth.
a difficult- to- decipher photo of dead ladybugs on our bathroom windowsill

Thursday, November 16, 2006

bag lady

here are the bags i've been working on, initially for teacher gifts, but the project evolved. last week my folks and i went to grandaddy's antiques mall which houses uncles billy's (i think) fabric depot in burlington. this place is the size of a large walmart, stuffed back to front, floor to ceiling and side to side with antiques and bolts of upholstery fabric on rolls.
the sheer quantity of textiles made my head spin at first, and i thought that no way in a million years would i be able to accomplish the handmade bags task for teacher gifts. that is, until i ran across the remnants section. here is where they take the bolt ends and clearance all of them out for $3 a yard. i happily mixed, matched and sorted, then marched out of there with more fabric than i could ever use for $130.
through my invalidism (is that a word?) i cut through almost all the fabric... making it into a standard bag pattern. they are roughly 9" wide X12" tall X 3" deep. just the other day i started mixing up the colors and sewing entire bags. since i did all the prep work first, the assembly went rather quickly... maybe 45 minutes.

as you can see, i've finished 4, and have 3 ready for assembly. and enough cut fabric to make maybe 40 total bags! they are all fully reversible to another matching pattern on the other side. hopefully the teachers and a zillion other people will be happy to get one of these puppies. i feel like a factory!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

hey! i'm not dead (yet) but i am struggling to overcome a sinus infection turned bronchitis. mom and dad are here, babying the hexk out of me so i can actually take the time to BE sick. they're taking care of the house, the kids, the cooking and the cleaning. i have rarely been so spoiled. meanwhile, i'm taking the down time to work on teacher gifts (handmade bags!) for christmas. looks like i've gotten in over my head, as usual, and quite possibly everyone i know will be getting a homemade bag. i'll post some photos when i've got time. i broke my last sewing machine needle an hour ago, so it's forcing me to think of another sit-down task... reading!

i'm doing the "from the stacks" reading challenge... 5 books that are sitting around just waiting to be read. i chose:

the inheritance of loss by kiran desai
the reader by bernhard schlink
the death of vishnu by manil suri
a sky so close by betool khedairi
balzac and the little chinese seamstress by dai sijie

i have to finish by january 30, so i chose relatively short books. i'll let you know how it goes, as it goes. first up is "inheritance" as i am tandem reading it with lotus. we're sure to have a spirited discussion of it over at her site soon, so check it out.

tomorrow is yet another field trip, this time with the second graders to see a production of "the wizard of oz" in greensboro. hopefully i won't hack up a lung in the middle of the performance! i'll take along an extra dose of delsym, just in case.

promise to be back to myself soon, just bear with me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

extra, extra!

WARNING!!! shameless self (or rather, extension of self) promotion follows in this post. those with heart conditions or who MAY be pregnant, you can read it anyway, but don't say i didn't warn you.

today is a big day at our house, as the first issue of the long-awaited comic book that t has been working on diligently for months has FINALLY hit the stands! the book is marvel comics' "BULLET POINTS" #1 written by j. michel straczynski (the creator of babylon 5 for you sci-fi geeks out there) and illustrated by none other than tommy lee edwards-- a man close to my heart, and at this moment even closer to my neck. anyhow, we're excited, and will probably have to go to the comic shop and geek out a bit today. it's the first issue in a 5 issue limited series. right now, at home, we're working on #4.

if by any chance you'd like to do the same, i'll prepare you for the experience NOW. first... DON'T SHOWER! this is VERY important for smelling as if you belong in your local comic shop. next, dig out the clothes from the VERY BOTTOM of your hamper and put them on. bottom of the hamper is important as well. next, watch an episode of "the simpsons" with the unnamed comic shop owner. this will help you to understand the person behind the counter when you purchase the comic. if you want to be ULTRA prepared, go on and have a bit of lucas trivia to drop on the unsuspecting clerk to throw them off balance. when they effusively respond to your comment for a half an hour, just nod and smile.

if you are in the us or canada and need help even FINDING a comic shop (yes, they are out there, just sometimes stuffed in stinky back alleys or up 2 flights of rickety stairs) click here. if you don't trust my recommendation, you can find actual reviews of it here, here, here and here.

thanks for listening to my rant. now for the big shocker: britney filed for divorce from kevin! and i never even saw it coming.

Friday, November 03, 2006

what is a qui-gon jinn?

susan in italy asked a very pertinent question of my halloween post... just who IS qui-gon jinn? many of you may already know the answer, but for those of you without young boys (or middle aged men who remember BEING young boys) in your home, here's the answer.

when george lucas decided to wreck the entire classic 'star wars' legacy by making a trilogy of prequels, he wrote a weak and terrible screenplay called "the phantom menace" which had little or no interesting characters or plot. the world clamored for this film to be made, not knowing what a piece of crap they might be in for, and a worldwide frenzy surrounded the opening weekend. the resulting film lacked good acting, directing, emotion or believable scenery. it did, however have excellent makeup, costume design, and ship design. but i digress.

one of the only redeeming factors of this film was liam neeson in the character of qui-gon jinn, who was the jedi master and trainer to obi-wan kenobi. unfortunately, most of his fine performance was hideously upstaged by the horrific cgi (computer generated) character of jar jar binks, shown below.

now, my husband had been a star wars fan from waaaay back when he was a little boy, and he passed that love of star wars down to our children (someday i'll post a photo of h's room) and when he found out that his woman could sew, he commisssioned a fine looking jedi suit. he's had it for some time now, but every now and again he cracks it out of the costume corner (no, really. there's a costume corner is his studio) and wears it for a convention, masquerade, reference, or halloween. below is t's rendition of qui-gon's world-famous lightsaber swallowing act.

there you have it, susan! is that more than you ever wanted to know??? :)

disclaimer: i love george lucas (i even affectionately refer to him as 'uncle george'), his entire creative world, and especially all the work that he has given to t. the fact that he is the biggest single collector of t's original artwork doesn't hurt either. but i'm entitled to my opinion of this movie, right?? right??!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

feelin' halloweeny

t and i were running errands today, one of which was picking up my suave new motorcycle helmet, which i will need to expound upon at a later date. i'll give you a hint what i feel like in it... "luke... i AM your father!" anyhow, as i said, we were out, and had lunch at a phenomenal philly cheesesteak place that we used to frequent but haven't been to in ages. at first i thought my ears were deceiving me when we entered the restaurant but NO! i really truly heard the strains of george michael coming from the stereo system crooning, "last christmas, i gave you my heart... but the very next dayyyy, you took it awayyyyy..."

heck, i don't know about the rest of y'all, but i feel like the only person left on the planet that really doesn't want to think about christmas until december. or AT LEAST give me 'til thanksgiving. i mean, i love christmas and carols and santa as much as the next girl, but WHOA man! back up! it was halloween two days ago! it's fall, the leaves are gorgeous, thanksgiving's coming and i DON'T WANT TO SEE SNOWFLAKES painted on store windows yet! am i nuts?

here's to halloween, whose photos i am just now posting and i must say a prayer to the gods of blogger that they ALL LOADED at the SAME TIME on the FIRST TRY. yeeeee-HAW! now to see if they all post properly... hmmmm... immediately below is s carving our pumpkin. we used a whole lot of brain power, but it didn't turn into a coach to carry us in style from house to house while we trick-or-treated. eh, it was worth a try.
the finished product, well designed by h, is shown below. we toasted the seeds with olive oil and salt and they were soooo delicious! and surely they will keep us regular for at least a day. mmmm! fiber!!!here are the finished costumes: s the bat and h the pirate. we had so much fun getting dressed up and painting faces. the pirate jacket i made ended up really nice, and i actually didn't want to tear my hair out at the amount of sewing. but i'm still picking fuzzy red boogers. ha! just kidding.below is my melacholy looking pirate. it's hard to tell, but he had on a black wig, a bandana, the big red hat, a dark red velvet jacket, a glow in the dark skeleton shirt, an orange sash, a pistol, and black pants tucked into cowboy boots.

s's makeup worked out really well, i modified a vampire design that we found in a book of face painting. she's carrying her little plush bat from the zoo.

after we were all prepared, we headed over to our friends' jen and ray's. ray was dressed as darth vader (he needed to borrow h's mask!) and t went as qui-gon jinn. what geeks! i haven't loaded the photos yet, but i'll try to get one soon... very funny. their 3 daughters, our kids, and the dads all loaded into a truck to trick-or-treat... the houses in this neighborhood are too far apart for walking. in other words... lots of walking for not lots of candy. jen and i stayed home with their almost 2 year old who was ill with pneumonia, and we decided to pick up and clean up while we drank red wine, yum! earlier in the day they had to put their 14 year old dog to sleep, and jen was pretty upset at the loss of her first baby (if you're reading this jen, i'm still sad about rover!).

the kids were on fire, and completed a massive amount of trick-or-treating by nine o'clock-- a full hour and a half past their usual bedtime. y'all know that the vomiting incident followed, but other than THAT, the night was a resounding success. it's nice to have the kids getting a little older, a little more responsible, and a little more FREAKED OUT at how fun halloween really is. it's about time! and they've already decided their costumes for next year... darth vader and vampira. say cheeeeeese!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

a hellomelissa record!

i need to take a post to say thank you to the readers of this blog... the faithful checkers, the regular commenters, and even the lurkers. according to my stat counter, october was the most "successful" month my blog has had thus far (if you count success by pageloads, that is). every day i am grateful and humbled by the people i have "met" here and who have become my friends.

the only reason this blog was even a twinkle in my eye is because of lotus, my very first internet friend. yes, i am a geek. we met on while swapping stories-- literally-- and just found that we had too much in common. although we've never met face to face, i count her among my close friends. (shout out to you, lotus!)

a ways back-- maybe about 2 years?-- lotus told me that she was starting a literary blog and to check it out. maybe i would evenwant to start my own? i really had no idea what this thing called "blog" was, but i checked hers and promptly signed up for one of my own. and promptly left it to sit empty for several months. hers blossomed beautifully into a very cohesive, respected blog of book reviews. i simmered on what MY topic would be. i sat, i thought, i pored, i pondered, and i let that naggy little critic in my brain carry me off into no-creativity land. finally one day i decided that "hello, melissa!" didn't have to be about anything. i shoved my little critic (he kinda looks like napoleon) as deep into my subconscious as he could possibly go, and wrote whatever came to mind.

which wasn't much.

but it was good for me to grasp the english language yet again after toddler-speaking for several years. writing each day may not have made me a better WRITER per se, but that was not the goal. the goal was simply to write for me. gradually, due to lotus, j, susan and other friends (you KNOW who you are!) i suppose i've developed a small circle of readers. wow! i would have never guessed that anyone other than my mom would care to hear the incohesive rambings of me. and mom, i love you for it. but the rest of you? you have NO obligation to love and support me, and yet you do... day after day, week after week. thank you!

the rewards i have gotten from this community are uncountable. i have learned new cultures and cultural attitudes. i have tried new recipes, done a few memes (which really are introspective), and thought about the things that are really important to me to write about. i've read a zillion books that i may otherwise have never even known about, and watched more than one movie that i would never have chosen on my own. more than anything i have LAUGHED every day, and have become so much more aware and empathetic to those around me. reading your stories, trials, and triumphs has been incredibly rewarding. thank you!

so here i am, grovelling, in gratitude for giving me a reason to keep writing my silly stories of suburban momhood. it's been fun, and as i look back, i am SO GLAD that i stuck with it. my kids now have a legacy of our lives to read in the future. well, i'm assuming that they'll read it! maybe not, but that's ok. i'll know that our history has been kept in a haphazard, sloppy way, and i'll be happy.

animal, vegetable or mineral?

yes, i'm typing this at 4:38 a.m., after being awakened to loud crying and retching noises coming from the direction of my daughter's room. my first thought... "&^%%$ halloween candy!" but no, she had a fever, and was spewing evil-smelling vomit all over her bed. poor baby's resting now, but mama's wide awake (with stomach roiling uncomfortably... probably from cleaning up barf... does that ever happen to you?) and hey! i might as well try to post yet again and pray that blogger works today.

on monday (yes, i know, it was 2 whole days ago) the kids had the day off school and h had it in his mind that we NEEDED to go to the zoo. it's an amazing zoo, and it's only about an hour from here. no matter that i have to go as a chaperone with the kindergarten class NEXT WEEK, we all packed up and took a gorgeous drive on a stunning, sunny, warm fall day out to asheboro. i think the day was hand-picked for us... the colors, the smells, the air... it was just what you picture in your head when you think of the reasons you love autumn.
there's a cool playground with oversized bugs and plants, and it has that awesome recycled rubber-tire mulch that makes you feel as if you're walking on a cloud. the kids wanted to stay there for hours. and look! they got to climb a spider web.

s liked the lions the best, although there was only a male and he was barely visible. the lioness gave birth to 3 cubs last week, so she was a little busy. h didn't tell me his favorite, but he was way impressed with the zebras and giraffe. t liked the gorillas, and i concur. i could sit and watch them forever! so expressive.

the sea lions were one of the last things we saw, and they are always a hoot. they put on a show for the viewers, and it's awesome to see the animal in action rather than just lying around. the animals at this zoo are so lucky to have gigantic natural habitiats in which to live... but it makes for a TON of walking for humans, and at the end of the day we were pooped!

halloween photos later, probably tomorrow, with any cooperation from blogger. today i have to care for sick child, get my teeth cleaned, and pick up the massive mess that we call "home."

Saturday, October 28, 2006


spotted up the road from our house...
is this taking fire safety week to the next level or what?