Come play in my world for awhile!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

10 signs you've reached your pie making quota

1. You have to send your husband to the market because you've run out of pie plates.

2. The daughter who is currently assisting you with the massive pie production looks at you with eyes as wide as saucers and asks incredulously, "You mean we still have to make ANOTHER ONE?!"

3. You get busy chatting with a mommy who has dropped your daughter off and suddenly you remember the pie in the oven. Didn't the timer go off already? How long has that thing been in there anyway?! ACK!

4. The next daughter-helper is pensively stirring pumpkin custard and counting egg shells. She looks up with an expression of mild concern and says, "So how many eggs was I supposed to put in this thing anyway?"

5. The same daughter looks down at the next bowlful and cheerfully exclaims, "Hey Mom! I don't think there's any egg shells in this one!"

6. Change helpers again. This helper is measuring dry ingredients into a bowl. I casually look over to check her progress only to gasp, "Holy cow! How much sugar did you put in there anyway?!"
7. Amble over to asses progress on pies and notice a strange crunching noise underfoot as you approach the daughter who just had the excessive-sugar-in-the-dry-ingredients problem. The excessive sugar, apparently, was not confined to the mixing bowl. It's all over the floor as well.

8. Yuuummmm. Something smells really good in here!
9. Let your gaze wander around the war zone that your kitchen has become. I think we used every stinkin' mixing bowl I own. And I have a fairly impressive array of bowls. Trust me.

10. Open a new bag of flour so we can bake the last.two.pies. Peer closely into the bag to try and ascertain what those funny little flecks are. Pull your head back abruptly when you realize they are bugs. Oh my. Tell me that wasn't the last bag of flour?!

Pie making is finished.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On becoming your parents

I was reading a post from one of my favorite blogs the other day. And yes, I realize that most of my posts start this way. Yada, yada, yada.... the other day. There is a reason for that and it's called I'm behind and I can't catch up. If I wrote about today then I'd never get around to what happened yesterday. I like to think of it as running to stand still.

Anyway, in her blog post she basically concludes that she has turned into a geezer. I'd say she's turned into her parents. And I'm reading this and thinking, "Oh well. Another one bites the dust." No matter how hard you try, it's inevitable. Because eventually, sooner or later, in spite of the promises that you made to yourself in your youth you will become your parents. I guarantee it.

For me, the realization that I had made this disturbing transformation came while sitting at a ridiculously long traffic light with my mom and sister. We had been there so long that I was in that zoned out sort of half aware state of consciousness. It was a looong light. Through my haze, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the car next to me was jumping. Seriously? I instantly snapped out of my comatose state and watched in fascination as the car continued to jump higher and higher. And then POOF! it happened. Without thinking twice, I started belting out an enthusiastic rendition of Low Rider.
The song complete with jumping car video can be heard/seen below. .. Just in case you aren't as fabulously hip as I am.

My mother has a long history of singing commercial jingles, and oldies songs. Usually it's in response to something someone has said. For example, if you ask her if she'd like another cup of tea she might start singing, "Have a nutter, nutter butter, peanut butter sandwich cook-ieeee." Or she'll see one of the kids do something silly and do, "Sometimes you feel like a nut -- sometimes you don't. Allllmond Joy's got nuts..." Or you're talking about dinner (not necessarily a hamburger - just dinner in general) and she might go with, "I like mine with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes... (Jimmy Buffet, of course). When I was a kid I thought this was great fun. As I got into the teenage years it got annoying. As an adult it drives me bananas. She has been singing the same jingles for pretty much my entire life without adding anything new to her repertoire. Enough with the Nutter Butter jingles already.

So the fact that I burst spontaneously into song, and an oldie to boot, was the death knell. I had officially become my mother. The light turned green as I sat staring in fascination at the jumping car and belting out Low Rider for all I was worth. The car behind me honked, so I stepped on the gas and looked over at my mom and sister. I had a big, stupid grin on my face and I was mentally congratulating myself for nailing all the fun musical effects in the song as I turned to glance over at my passengers. Mom and Julie were staring at me with bulging eyes and mouths gaping open. For decades I've been pleading with my mother to stop singing jingles. The fact that I was sitting there and behaving exactly like my mother had them literally frozen in their tracks.

And then the dawn of realization. Oh crap. And as my face fell my mom burst into laughter. "Oh Kathy!" she said, "You are just like me!"

Monday, November 24, 2008

The other day I was at the police station...

...waiting for someone to post my bond with the Daisy Girl Scout troop that I co-lead. We were doing a unit on respecting authority and I figured, what better place to see authority in action than at the police station? Personally, the sight of a loaded gun always inspires me to feel respectful.

We did the tour of the station, and concluded with a discussion about calling 911. 911 always brings a smile to my face. I have fond memories of 911. Are you curious yet? Of course you are. Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time there was a mommy named KathyB! She had four young girls: Rachel was 4, Hannah was 30 months, and Abby and Emily were 6 months. The mommy was having a hard time adjusting to life with her four young girls. Everyone seemed to need her at the same time, and yet she only had two arms with which to meet everyone's needs. One day she was upstairs nursing her twins, and praying that they would both fall asleep. And stay asleep. Her two year old toddled in with an empty sippy cup and asked for some milk. If you've never nursed twins then trust me when I say that you can't exactly get out of your seat without shutting down the whole operation. And I really needed those twins to take a nap. I told Hannah to be patient and sent her on her way.

Hannah returned a bit later. I was still nursing the twins. Hannah really wanted milk. I begged her to wait just a few more minutes. I was so close to being able to put them down. If I got up.... heaven help me. The moment would be lost and the colic would intrude and the chance for an afternoon free of crying and rocking would evaporate forever. Or at least for today. I assured her that I was almost done, and I sent her on her way. Again. And made very little progress with the twins.

Poor Hannah. She looked a little deflated when she left the second time. It pulled at my heart strings that I couldn't meet her needs. I wasn't too worried, though, as she was a pro at filling her cup from the dispenser in the refrigerator door. I rationalized that she wasn't dying of thirst, and I let it go.

I really under estimated how badly she needed that milk. Apparently she went downstairs, picked up the phone and dialed 911. She had been going to preschool two days a week and Ruff the Crime Dog had come in to teach them how to dial 911. He even brought in a phone that they could use to practice, and a sticker to wear on their jacket to remind them. Well, Hannah took that lesson to heart. She embraced the lesson. She was desperate for that milk, she needed help, and mommy.couldn't.get.up. In her two-year-old world she had met all of the criteria to justify an emergency call.

The sheriff's department came in full force. After all, there was a two year old who needed milk. And her mommy couldn't get up. When the 911 operator pressed her on this crucial detail Hannah replied emphatically that I could not get up to get milk or come to the phone or even talk for that matter (I had told her that I couldn't talk to her or read her a book while I was nursing that day because I was hoping, hoping, hoping that those crazy babies would go to sleep!) and that the only other people at home who could help her were her new baby sisters. Can you imagine what the 911 operator must have thought? Medical emergency, baby.

I heard the sirens in the distance and didn't think much of them. I heard them coming up the street, and that got my attention. When I heard the authoritative banging at the front door I remember thinking I was trapped in the Twilight Zone. This is a joke, right? My husband's out of town. I'm not in control. And now the house is burning down. I think. Because why else would there be sirens and loud banging at the front door. I disentangled myself from the twins, and winced when the screaming started. As I rounded the corner at the top of the stairs I could see the officer peering through the window by the front door and Hannah standing in front of it looking confused. She's not supposed to open the door, but maybe policemen don't fall under that rule? By now I am running as fast as I can while carrying screaming twins and descending stairs. I was convinced that the house was on fire at this point even though there was no sign of smoke. Miraculously I didn't fall down the steps. It's not easy to carry wriggling, colicky, infant twins while racing down steps as though your life is at stake. Although I guess if I had fallen it would've been okay since all of the necessary emergency personnel were on hand to put humpty-dumpty back together again.

Once the officer and I convinced each other that there wasn't a problem he was very understanding. As were the other three who had been called to the scene. And the EMT, too. Sigh. They were just glad that we were all okay. Hmmmm. They seemed to think we were okay. At that exact moment I knew for sure that "okay" was a subjective state of mind because I felt anything but "okay" at that moment. I think I cried a little when they left. And then I got to explain it to the curious neighbors. Why is it that I can never have a humiliating moment in privacy?

Mother of the Year I was not.

Hannah, on the other hand, was so proud of herself. She had done what she had been taught at school. She had waited patiently just like mommy asked. And when push came to shove she got her milk. We did have a very specific conversation about what constitutes an emergency that afternoon. And I took the "Call 911!" sticker off of her jacket. I didn't think the men and women in blue would continue to be amused if the milk emergency became a daily occurrence.

At the time it was not funny. At the time I was truly at my wit's end. But now, looking back... I still smile when I think about it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I hear you got a new pet!

I was at the school (shocking, I know!) the other day when I ran into a mommy whom I haven't seen in quite some time. After the initial pleasantries she inquired about our new pet. I was a little surprised as we've had the rabbit since August. I think. Maybe it was September? Anyway, she asked how we were getting along with the new pet and then commented enthusiastically on what an unusual choice we had made. She really put a lot of emphasis on the word unusual.

Hmmmm. I'll admit that a bunny isn't the most common pet, but it surely doesn't qualify as unusual either. Given that I don't have much of a poker face I'm pretty sure that I gave her at least a moderately odd look as I assured her that I knew at least a few other people who had made the same pet choice before us. She looked astonished and exclaimed that, "No, I'm quite sure that I've never known anyone with a pet beaver before! What did you name it again?"

Yikes! Did not see that one coming!

I really had to fight to keep from laughing out loud as I had a pretty good idea how this had all transpired. And so it was that I had the ridiculous task of explaining that we don't actually have a pet beaver. In fact we have a pet rabbit. Who I think must have been cross-bred with a beaver because she chews everything. Like a beaver. So instead of calling her Cutie, which is her name, I call her Beaver Bunny or Beaver McBeav or even Beav for short. The nickname stuck (as my weird nicknames are prone to do), and now everyone refers to her as The Beaver.

Apparently, Emily has been running around town talking about her beaver. One of Emily's teachers was even under the impression that we'd gotten a beaver. She admits that she thought it was a bit odd, but not odd enough to question it. The teacher just laughed and said that she could, "See me doing it." As in she could see me having a pet beaver. Hmph. I can't decide if I should take that as an insult or not. I guess after teaching for awhile you hear some pretty good stories. But a pet beaver? Sheesh. I'm going to have to do some serious work on the image that the Belinski family is projecting.

How many times do you suppose I'm going to get to explain this little bit of misinformation before word finally gets around?

She's a cute little beaver, right?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I am thankful for...

Since we are exactly one week away from Turkey Day I thought I'd fuel the anticipation by writing about something for which I'm thankful. That and with my first guests beginning to arrive today the likelihood that I'll be on the ball as Turkey Day draws nearer is slim.

Today I volunteered in one of my daughter's first grade classrooms teaching small group writing strategies. I do this two times a week and I always look forward to it. First graders are an interesting group. Their minds are beginning to mature and they are able to look at events with greater perspective, and yet their logic and reasoning is still so linear and simple. No matter what we do they always say something interesting or funny or completely unexpected.

Today we read a long and detailed story about a Pilgrim boy named Samuel. The objective was for them to listen to the story and then write about their favorite parts. They needed to have a distinct beginning, middle and end to their writing and they needed to provide sufficient detail to explain their choices.

We had finished the story and the children were engrossed in their writing with the exception of two little boys. Assuming that they were outlining their plans for recess I went over to help them get back on task. As I drew nearer I could hear their conversation, and it was so sweet that I stopped to listen:

Boy 1: I don't think so many Pilgrims would have died if they would have worn the right types of clothes.

Boy 2: Yeah, those white fluffy collars make them look like a bunch of dorks.

Boy 1: I know but, I mean, what if they used that material to make warmer clothes instead of fluffy collars. Maybe they would have stayed warmer and not died so much.

Boy 2: Grunts.


Boy 2: More like they died because no one knew what anybody was talking about back then. Some guy probably said go find food, and the other guy went looking for firewood instead by mistake.

Note: The story was written in the voice of Samuel who lived in the 1600's. It was peppered with thou, and whilst, and coney and all sorts of stuff. It actually was a little hard to follow. Especially if you're in the first grade.

Boy 1: Grunts.

more silence.

Boy 1: You know what I'm thankful for? I'm thankful that turkeys are slow. If they were fast they would have gotten away and then we'd be eating something gross like a squirrel for Thanksgiving dinner.

Both: Ewwww!

Boy 2: I'm glad we don't live back then. I wouldn't want to wear those funny clothes. (Pause) Do you like my new Pokemon shirt?

Boy 1: Yeah, it's awesome. (Pause) But people still wear funny clothes now, too. Did you see that HUGE collar on Mrs. B's shirt? She would make a good Pilgrim.

At this point I stepped in. After all, they just called me a Pilgrim for pity sake. The cuteness had passed, and it was time to get back on task. As I took a seat between the two boys I glanced down at my charcoal gray cowl-necked sweater that had seemed quite fashionable this morning.

I know one of the things that I am truly thankful for:
other than the fact that we don't eat Thanksgiving squirrel - ewww!

first graders
sweet and innocent
observant and thoughtful without malice
blissfully uninhibited
brimming with promise

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This video got me thinking

A friend forwarded me this commercial from about a year ago, but I hadn't seen it yet. It's quick - only 30 seconds or so. After watching the commercial I honestly wasn't sure if I was amused or mortified. I've never owned a dog. Do they actually do that?! Ew.

Once I got over the mental image I started thinking about Stanley Steemer. I know it's random but that's how my brain works. Anyway, Stanley Steemer used to clean our carpets growing up. And remembering that made me reminisce about my childhood....

I have one sibling, Julie, and she is almost five years my junior. We got along fairly well growing up which means we were only actively trying to kill each other 50% of the time. Fairly normal.

One day, when I was 8, I was in our playroom painting. We had the best playroom. It was big and low maintenance and we were allowed to do all sorts of fun, messy stuff in there. Like paint. There was a pocket door that divided the playroom from the rest of the house, and the rule was that the mess could not pass that threshold.

I had my paper and my cup of red paint laid out on the floor and I was working diligently on a masterpiece when Julie pranced into the room and, of course, wanted to help. Obviously I was not interested. So she proceeds to do the typical little sister routine by pretending she's going to stick her fingers onto my still wet masterpiece and render it a finger painting. Or picking up the paint cup and pretending she's going to pour it on my masterpiece. Or dancing around like a loon singing stupid songs and laughing like the little nut that she is was.

This continued for what seemed like an hour. Really, it was probably only 3 minutes, but I had reached my boiling point. I got up from my painting and was prepared to... I don't actually remember what it was that I intended to do but I ended up chasing her in cirlces around the play room. Apparently Julie is part leprechaun. She jumped and ran and zigged when I zagged, and I could not catch her. Finally I lunged at her and almost got her by the ankle.

At this point I think Julie realized we were no longer engaged in a little bit of sisterly mischief. I was really ticked that I couldn't catch her. The impish grin left her face and she started running again in earnest. And so it was that she ran right across my very-wet-red-painting and through my cup of red paint wearing what I swear are the world's most absorbent socks. She streaked over the threshold, and she was gone.

I froze briefly as she zipped through that door. I shrieked for her to stop. I chased her for all I was worth -- over the snowy white, brand-new carpets and even over the couch. The farther she ran the less distinct the footsteps became until she finally stopped.

I can remember looking in horror at her little footprints. They were everywhere. I can also remember that sick, heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach when my mom walked in to see what all the hullabaloo was about.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The clock is ticking.

I pride myself on being organized. Multi-tasking is something that I view as a challenge. I think I have previously alluded to the fact that I like it when my schedule is the slightest bit crazy. It keeps things interesting.

On Thursday I had a full day. Not crazy full, but there wasn't any down time. It went something like this:
- Shower the night before because you recognize that you are a massive morning procrastinator.
- Wake up at 7:20 (we need to be out by 8:00) and walk room-to-room rousting sleepy children.
- Begin to run late when you snuggle too long with a particularly drowsy kiddo.
- Head downstairs to make breakfast and pack lunches before getting yourself ready for the day. This is a mistake. A wise mommy would get herself ready first. But then again, a wise mommy would have gotten up earlier to begin with.
- Get distracted discussing child's oral presentation and lose 5 precious minutes. Now you're officially pushing it.
- Race to change out of jammies, and become presentable - in 10 minutes. I am good, but 10 minutes is tight.
- Herd kids into the car and begin the drive to school.
- Contain grumpiness with the kids (which really should be directed at yourself as you were the one that cut the schedule too close), and crank up the Jonas Brothers in a vain attempt to drown out their conversation.
- Drop kids off in front of the school.
- Sit in the school parking lot for 20 minutes until it's time for volunteer stint.
- Enter the school to teach small group writing strategies in the first grade.
- Leave the school two hours later feeling as though you've been accosted by ornery wood elves. A room full of first graders is a force of nature.
- Sit in parking lot, again, for 25 minutes. 'Cuz what can you really accomplish in 25 minutes if you have to return to the exact spot you just left?!
- Enter the school to retrieve eldest daughter for quarterly doctor's check.
- Sit in doctor's waiting room for 15 minutes.
- Lie to doctor when daughter states that there was no milk in the house for breakfast this morning. There was no milk, but there were bagels and cream cheese. Sheesh. She made it sound like I was starving her for pete's sake.
- Lecture daughter about making mommy look like a putz in front of the doctor on the way back to school.
- Make mental note --
- Drop daughter off at the school and race home for lunch so that you can get to the market to pick up milk before you have to head back to the school to pick up kids.
- Arrive at house and switch into multi-tasking mode. The goal:
  1. hard-boil eggs for lunch,
  2. check email,
  3. vacuum mountain of crumbs created when cereal had to be poured back into box because we were out of milk.
  4. finish a blog post, and
  5. head back to school to teach advanced math.
  6. complete tasks in 35 minutes.
The clock is ticking. On your mark... get set... GO!

- Place eggs in water to boil while you dive into the emails.
- Lose track of time by getting completely engrossed email.
- Hear popping sound, ignore it, and then hear it again.
- Decide to investigate and then start running for the kitchen when you remember that the eggs have been boiling way too long.
- Peer into the pot where the eggs used to be boiling. I say "used to be" because all the water has long since evaporated.
- Retreat in alarm as egg explodes and shoots toward the ceiling.
- Watch in horror as cooked egg splatters all over the cook top and the floor.
- Shriek when the second egg explodes en route to the sink and nearly hits you in the eye as it rockets out of the pan.
- Dance around like a fool trying to get the pan to the sink before additional explosions detonate.
- Curse (eh, no one's around to hear so you can use the creative ones) at the sight of cooked egg, literally, all over the kitchen.
- Curse some more when you realize the pan is probably ruined.
- Marvel at the stench and crack a window.
- Clean hastily.
- Dash out the door to go to the market to get the milk so that you won't be late to pick the kids up from school.
Time's up.
I tried to take a picture of the tiny egg fragments that were everywhere. It didn't come out so you'll just have to use your imagination. The first picture was the explosion that occurred as I was peering into the pot. The second picture is of the yolk that nearly shot me in the eye en route to the sink. The pictures really don't do justice to the brief chaos.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I give up

About a year after we brought Abby and Emily home from the hospital we began to feel cramped in our home. This was unfortunate as we had just moved in to this particular home. We began what became a constant and pervasive quest to cram ourselves into a space that was clearly too small. Abby and Emily shared a room that could barely contain their two cribs and a rocking chair while Rach + H shared a reasonably sized bedroom.

We knew we were going to have to get creative to make the home conform to our family, but had no creative ideas to fill the void. So, one day we were in Costco and I noticed they brought in furniture. I love that about Costco. The regular stock is always there, but they throw in some new stuff every couple months to keep it from becoming drudgery. I took the bait and browsed, and to my delight I discovered the answer to at least one of our space issues: loft beds.

As a child I would have killed for a bed like this. What could be more fantastic? I really wanted to get those beds. In a fit of rationalization I concluded that loft beds are cheaper than an addition to the home and, just like that, we became the proud owners of some new furniture.

It actually turned out to be a great purchase. The kids adored the beds. They thought we were amazing; possibly even brilliant. It opened up enough space in their bedroom to allow the kids to cohabitate fairly seamlessly for the next four years. And then we moved. Once we stretched beyond the confines of the expensive California housing market we were able to give the kids their own bedrooms. And now the loft beds were up for grabs.

A significant amount of negotiation and bartering took place. When all was said and done Abby and Emily ended up with the beds. I felt good about the turn of events, and I was glad that all of the girls were going to have an opportunity to sleep in the "special" beds.

Except Abby and Emily don't even like use the beds anymore. They're sleeping underneath the loft beds. On the floor. I guess we could try to broker a bed swap amongst the sisters, but that would require the beds to be disassembled (to get them through the doorway) and then reassembled in the new room. I know better than to even raise the subject with my husband. And I'm certainly not going to do that. Even if I felt so inclined the likelihood that I'd incorrectly assemble them and maim one of the kids in the process is just too great a risk. Conversely, I could try to orchestrate a room swap. Talk about opening a can of worms! Noooo thank you.

They look comfy. Right?

And so it is that the beds that were once the envy of all the Belinski sisters have been shunned. There is no accounting for the logic of children. I give up. I actually helped them make nests under there so they'd be comfortable.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What goes around, comes around

Yesterday I took Rachel out to ride her horse, and I got a healthy dose of karma for my trouble.

A few weeks ago we were out in the pasture and Rachel got zapped by the electric fence while she was nuzzling a horse. She made a big production out of it, and kept going on and on about how she felt like she had gotten punched in the arm. I've been zapped by a few electric fences in my time. Growing up I used to tag along with my cousin and feed apples to the horses at the farm near her home. Inevitably I got too close to the fence, and ZAP! Sure, it doesn't tickle but it isn't the end of the world either. So after some initial sympathy I smiled, patted her on the shoulder, and basically told her to suck it up.

Today when we arrived our horse was grazing on hay in the warm Fall sun. He wasn't in his usual pasture, and I reveled in the walk out to get him. The dappled sunlight filtering through the Fall leaves and the glisten of the water on the pond behind the horse was stunning. I wish I had the camera with me. It was that gorgeous. I'm telling you this because I need to blame what happened next on the fact that I was distracted by the natural beauty surrounding me.

I grabbed the plastic handle and opened the gate to the pasture. And then for some inexplicable reason I wrapped my hand around the metal hook that secures the fence rather than keeping my hand on the plastic handle. Unlike plastic, metal conducts the electrical current that runs through the fence. You know where this is going, right? I got a healthy zap delivered to all five fingers, plus the palm of my hand.

Unfortunately, ours was not the only horse in the pasture that day. The other horses were excited by the open gate and must have been thinking that they were going to be fed. Actually I have no idea what they were thinking, but they were headed for the open gate. They were probably coming closer to get a better view of the crazy woman trying electrocute herself. But the point is that I couldn't let go of the hook. You see, the hook is attached to the equivalent of a bungee cord. If I were to abruptly let it go it would either a) zing one of the horses in the face, or b) create a giant gap through which the horses could escape. So being the conscientious person that I am, I held on to the hook and got zapped again. I'm certain wisps of smoke were curling from my ears by the time I got the fence secured

Let's not talk about the fact that, in retrospect, I could've just moved my hand back on to the plastic part thereby avoiding the second zap.

At this point my entire arm was tingling and sensation in my palm seemed to have disappeared. Rachel, of course, was oblivious to the whole thing. She finally figured there was a problem when I was still standing rooted in the same spot, and she was halfway up the trail. When I explained what had happened she grinned from ear to ear. If I didn't know better I'd swear the horse was grinning, too. After all, I'm sure he's gotten his fair share of zaps over the years. Rachel asked if I was okay. And then she put her arm around my waist and said, "Jeez, Mom. It doesn't hurt that bad."

Karma's a b!&ch

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Are we human?

Today was a big day. I vacuumed. Actually, I always vacuum, but today I did the big vacuum. You know, the one where you move furniture, pluck cushions from the couch, and get out all the fancy attachments for cleaning the little crevices.

In the midst of this fun and games I had an epiphany. The catalyst for the epiphany? A dust bunny. Actually, it was several dust bunnies. Given that I vacuum, like, twice a week I am perplexed by the fact that they return with such speed. I decided that a closer examination of the little puff balls was in order. It seems gross to dissect a dust bunny, but I had just returned from school where I had been assisting with the dissection of owl pellets (which by the way was fascinating). Dust bunnies are a step up from owl pellets.

We have no pets (except the stupid rabbit that has taken over the screened porch, and she's not allowed into the house so she doesn't count). So what could be generating these dust bunnies? Prior to my dissection I had been blaming some wonderful chenille throws that the kids like to snuggle up with on the couch. Most of the dust bunnies hang out under the couch so it seems like a strong hypothesis. But now I'm not convinced. Could it be that the dust bunny might really be a hairball? Hmm...

Which leads back to my epiphany. Apparently, my family isn't human. A human would be bald if they shed this much fluff. And we are not bald. The epiphany actually explains quite a bit. It explains why my kids will do anything I ask just to get a treat. Or, why having my back scratched gives me goose bumps. It certainly explains all the energy the puppies kids have. It also explains my fierce urge to protect my children. So I guess that makes us half golden retriever.

Either that or the object in question really is a dust bunny and I just need to change the furnace filters and (gasp) vacuum more often.

I'm going with the golden retriever theory.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The good wife

Saturday we went to the Georgia Tech at UNC football game. This is the second time in a month that I have attended a UNC game. I'm really not much of a football fan, but I went along with it because I knew it would make my husband happy. He puts up with a lot being the sole male in the household, so I figure it's the least I can do.

The last game I attended was miserable. When we left the house it was raining -- not dumping, but a nice, solid downpour. The logic rationalization was that the storm would pass by the time we got to the game. So we loaded up the car with Dad and Pat in the front and me crammed into the backseat of the car with two of my kids. We took the hybrid because I am cheap because it's better for the planet. We should have taken my minivan so that I didn't have to ride packed in like a sardine with my kids using me as a pillow. It's a 45 minute drive. Is it really too much to ask that I not be used as a pillow? Did I mention that I was sick and had just had my root canal and still had a throbbing pain in my jaw? I was not feeling very hospitable back there. Fortunately, I kept it to myself.

So I hunkered down in my seat, closed my eyes, and dozed all the way into the parking garage. As we unloaded ourselves from the car Pat handed us each a rain poncho and a golf umbrella. I was advised to leave the camera in the car as the camera might get ruined if it got soaked. Holy cow. How hard was it raining out there anyway?! I mean, if it's raining hard enough to ruin a camera then surely they call the game. Right?

Apparently not. So we slogged our way through the drizzle and puddles and finally made it to the stadium. By the time we got there I was damp. Not soaked, but definitely damp. I hate to be damp. To make matters worse it quickly became apparent that the golf umbrella would need to be put down once I got into the stadium. Great. The only thing worse than being damp is being wet, and the only thing separating me from being soaking wet was a Disneyland rain poncho. The outlook was not good. So I put on a happy tolerant face and watched some football as the rain came down. It was not the happiest day of my life.

So yesterday we had tickets. Again. Imagine my excitement when I woke up to discover that it was raining. By the time I went out to grab the paper it was pouring. Seriously. Here we go again.

But then a funny thing happened. The rain cleared on the way to the game, just like it was supposed to, and the weather was fabulous. It was homecoming weekend and the energy in the stadium was palpable. I actually had fun a fantastic time at the game. I'd even go so far as to say that I'd like to go again. Just don't tell my husband. I'm still getting those you're-such-a-great-wife hugs. I need to milk this.

Every seat had pom-poms on them. And at the end of the game nobody seemed to want theirs so my girls ran around and collected at least 10 each. I don't know if the girls watched the game or the cheerleaders, but they are getting a ton of mileage out of those free pom-poms. And they've only made a small mess in the house as they deteriorate. The pom-poms are deteriorating. Not the kids.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Consider yourself warned!

I have repeatedly stumbled into a mommy-trap over the last 10 years. The trap is called a "tradition". It is a very, VERY easy trap to fall into so I feel it is only fair to give warning to other new moms so that they might realize what they are getting into while there is still time for them to save themselves.

Here's how the trap is set... New mom has first child and is excited to experience life through the eyes of a child. She does things like bake elaborate birthday cakes. Or Plan elaborate scavenger hunts through the neighborhood. Or make an all-pink dinner on Valentine's Day. The list of elaborate concoctions grows longer every year, and the mommy is happy. After all this is fun, right?

I turned a cake into a throne for a princess Groovy Girl

A&E were obsessed with Dinosaurs and The Land Before Time

Then the mommy has more babies. The mommy gets very busy and very tired. Suddenly, the prospect of turning a cake into a work of art doesn't seem like fun anymore and, SNAP! The trap is set. Because now, after all the years of crazy ideas, your concoctions have become traditions.

And once you've started a tradition it's yours forever.

I am currently face to face with one of these traditions. Many years ago I started making a special Halloween dinner of monster eyeballs (meatballs with provolone melted on top to make them white and a sliced green olive to serve as the pupil -- these come out really well, but there are some tricks to making them look really authentic. Let me know if you want the tips!), roasted ghosts (garlic mashed potatoes that are placed in a ziploc bag and piped into an upright ghost shape -- very easy), worm sauce (applesauce with a drop of blue food coloring to make it green-ish and then gummy worms stirred in), and skeleton punch (sparkling cider with an ice "hand" floating in it -- this is tricky but I can talk you through it).

I used to prepare this dinner before trick-or-treating, but in NC we have been trick-or-treating with another family in a different neighborhood. Their neighborhood has a big block party with pizza and games and a camp fire, so there is no opportunity for my dinner.

So here I am today. Halloween has passed and, frankly, I'm over it. I have zero interest in turning potatoes into ghosts. The kids on the other hand are not over it. And so it is that I am stuck in my trap.

But how can you complain when it is a trap that you have set for yourself?

Yes it's an old picture. And it's from Mother's Day. But I like it. And it's MY blog :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

OH! Sudoku!

I stumbled upon Sudoku almost a year ago. I picked up a pocket-sized book of easy and medium puzzles to occupy my mind while I rot in the carpool line at school every day for half an hour waiting for the kids. I subsequently moved on to the harder puzzles, and I've found one that I can not solve. And it is taking over my life.

I've found the sudoku solution engines online, and I know what the answers are. But that's not the point. The point is that I can't figure out how to get there on my own. I have re-printed the puzzle 6 times now, and every time I end in gridlock. All of the remaining blocks could be a combination of 2-3 numbers, but there is no unique number in any row or column to allow me to disqualify one of the options. I have become completely irrational. I am obsessed with the fact that this stupid number puzzle is beyond me. When I think of the time I have invested in this puzzle it makes me a little sick. Trust me when I tell you that there are alot of other things that I could should have been doing.

So I went on line -- again -- in defeat. I was looking for someone else's strategy to apply to my puzzle. I need to solve this stupid thing. If I can't do it with my own logic and strategy then I am willing to copy someone else's at this point. Unfortunately, the strategy that is posted online is ridiculously difficult (for me -- remember these are the HARD puzzles. They really are difficult. I swear. I am not an idiot.) to follow, and there are a lot of different strategies to try.

So the puzzle is still unsolved. And things are really starting to pile up around the Belinski household. So, in a fit of defiance I actually tore the puzzle to shreds and threw it away. It didn't make me feel any better. Now I can add quitter to my resume. Stupid puzzle.

The only bright spot (read those four previous words with heavy sarcasm) is I found this while trolling around in search of strategy. Sudoku toilet paper! Who in the heck has time to think of these things? And more important, who in the heck is buying them?!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Okay. So I've gotten, like, 50 emails asking about the license plate that nearly caused me to have a car accident (see previous post!). I stand firm in stating that the license plate, and not my lack of attentiveness to the task at hand, nearly caused the accident. Shoot, I've even gotten a couple of comments on that post. Yay for comments! So, without further ado....


...that's the license plate. It isn't actually that difficult to puzzle through, but initially I got hung up on the GAO. I was thinking Government Accountability Office... but that's not even in the ballpark.

I'm liking this license plate for my personal car -- fair warning to those behind me., right? But I really just posted it as a break so your eye wouldn't go directly to the answer:

Georgia On My Mind