Monday, September 29, 2008

DD11 (!!!!) Birthday

Today is the second stop on the Birthday Train for our family. Starting in August each year we have 1 birthday every month until the end of the year. And that is just in our immediate family! If you count my DMiL, whose birthday is Jan 1 and at whose house we try to always be at for the celebration, it continues well past Christmas.

Anyhoo...My oldest daughter turns 11 years old at 6:32 pm this evening. You know kids though...she insists on celebrating ALL DAY LONG!!! (the nerve!)

There are gobs of presents, a friend sleeping over (no slumber party like last year, thank heaven!) and a $25 check from her grandparents with which she intends to open her own savings account. We are on our way to do that in a few minutes. What she doesn't know is that I am thinking about matching funds to get her off to a rolling start.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Yard Work

Mom is here to visit. We were outside going through some boxes of stuff that is mine that was stored at her house. Once that was done we stayed outside talking. (At 3pm...couldn't have done that a month ago) It was great. After a while I noticed that the branches of one of our bushes were drooping way down over the side walk in the front, so low even the girls had to watch for them. I had DD8 get the pruners and cleared up that problem.

That led to trimming the larger bush by the door. (the one I plan to axe soon. It is not to my taste, even when in bloom.)

And since I was right there by the front door I decided to trim the ivy in the brick planter box. It was taking over the porch. A whole foot of porch space was covered. After I got that cleared, I decided to trim the ivy a bit here and there to clean up the look. By the time I was done I had changed my mind and decided to rip out the lot.

Note- If you are ever given the choice between cutting/cleaning up English ivy or kudzu, choose the kudzu. It is softer and much easier to deal with, even with it's longer length. Ivy catches whatever it is growing on and does NOT let go.

I haven't decided what exactly I am going to do with the planter, maybe roses, maybe cover it and put a seat, maybe seal it and put a small koi fountain. We'll see.

Next job on the list, cutting out the wood stems that still remain and cleaning up the pile o' vines in the front lot. We were out of lawn and garden bags after the first was filled.

I think this will be a nice change of look for the front stoop, whatever I decide.

Here are some "BEFORE" pictures. I wish I had taken some today, but it was too late before I thought of it. These are this past April a few weeks before we moved in.

The ivy had grown a foot inward to cover the porch, as I said. It had grown more than that in the other direction, along the wall under the overhang. You can barely make out the tops of the bricks in the pic. There was about 8 inches more of ivy this afternoon.

Now all of this is out. The clean-up job remains of getting woody stems out and trying to clean up the walls. You can see in the pic where the previous owner had trimmed the vines back and they had left grabbers behind, even pealing paint in some spots.

I'll go take a pic to post, and keep you updated as needed on the changes.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Media Mayhem

If you follow American politics you are probably aware that the first Presidential Debate is going to be held this Friday.

You may not know that it is being held in the city where I live, at the university I attended until last year. Cool for the town, but a pain in the you-know-where for a few days.

At this time of the year we normally have horrendous traffic every few Saturdays, when there is a home game for the football team. This is looking to eclipse even some of the biggest of those.

My brother, who still attends said institution of higher learning, says there have been road closings on campus, parking rearrangements, security precautions, reporters interviewing students or asking to film during classes. He is a journalism student. He said they were warned about walking around in the journalism building. They could come around a corner and find someone filming live. I guess they wanted everyone to be on their best behavior and not make the networks worry about bleeping out a few colorful Southern college colloquialisms.

He said there were rumors that Jay lenos people were in town and McCain's bus had been seen. Interesting. Maybe true, maybe not. I am trying to avoid going in to town.

Dang! I just realized that if Mom is coming to visit tomorrow and stay a few days I need to do some grocery shopping. Yikes! I'll ask DH if he wants to come along.

In honor of Zirbert (whose blog is listed on the left) who got to shoot of shot guns recently (lucky Canuck, no, wait...does that count as a slur? Not meant as such) here is a picture of the Civil War reenactor who gave a presentation to the kids at our home school group's history festival. They loved it. Here he is showing a revolver.

He fired his rifle (with no ball.) That was awesome! And loud. How's the hearing, Zirbert?

Your random sig from someone on a forum I visit is:
"There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don't."

Note- If canuck is considered a slur than I completely withdraw it. My two favoritest internet people are north of that border. I have never been able to keep up with political correctness.

Cleaning House

Well, of all the fun ways to spend an afternoon this isn't one of my favorites. But, we have made progress. I can see the surface of the buffet AND the kitchen counter. Heck the state of the kitchen is nothing short of a miracle. Either that or two hours of dedication from a true slob on a mission.

I won't say I am the world's WORST housekeeper, but I am on the slobby side of normal. Let's just leave it at that. Kitchen, dining room, living room, family room, and child bedrooms all tackled today. Sewing/junk room saved for tomorrow. of course, I may not feel as motivated tomorrow. My bedroom may just be a lost cause. I might pick at a few things and clean slowly. It's better than nothing.

Weird thing. Mom called to say she was coming to visit tomorrow and stay a few days. AND THIS WAS AFTER WE HAD SPENT A FEW HOURS CLEANING, rather than before and therefore being the motivation behind the whole thing. Weird. Not that I am worried about Mom seeing our mess. Her house is MUCH worse.

My mother-in-law, now that is a WHOLE other story. I may have had a heart ttack by now if I were preparing for a visit from them. They are not mean or grouchy or even judgemental. But they are neat. Which causes me to get all judgemental on myself.

But I digress. The house is looking good. DH even went outside with a broom and tackled the spider webs and whatnot there. Cool.

You picture for this entry is of DD10 during her history presentation on The Great Depression, for which she coded a website.

Your random quote from a sig of someone on one of the forums I sometimes visit is:
"When Life gives you d4s, cast Magic Missile."

(Note- If you don't get it at first glance, don't bother trying. Thinking about it won't help.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Great Time

DD10 and I had a great time yesterday. Although, I have a hard time imagining not. The parameters are pretty well set up to make sure it happens, barring something completely unforeseen.

We had our breakfast at IHOP. It was good. We did a monumental amount of shopping. Too much, really, but it's ok.

We saw the new Star Wars movie. It was better than I was afraid it would be.

All in all we had a very good time.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mommy/Daughter Day

Today will be mine and DD10 (nearly 11)'s 7th Mommy/Daughter Day. I started the tradition when she was 3, getting ready to turn 4. Two weeks before the girl's birthday, or thereabouts, the two of us go out for a fun-filled day of whatever the two agree would be a great day of things to do.

The first year I told the wee one that she could pick wherever she wanted to eat. I fully expected McDonalds (a favorite at the time) or maybe Taco Bell. I was flatly shocked when she said IHOP. How did she even know there was such a place? It was not on the list of restaurants we frequented with the kids. She even knew exactly what she wanted to eat.

It turns out there had been a commercial for International House of Pancakes on television. It had very adeptly showed their blueberry pancakes looking as appetizing as possible. It caught that 3 year old's eye and stayed in her mind for who knows how long waiting until she was given the choice of her "dream restaurant meal."

Every year since then that has been a staple of Mommy/Daughter Day, blueberry pancakes at IHOP. It is like a tradition within a tradition.

Last year DD got her ears pierced for the first time. She asked to do it again this year but I decided not to OK that. She did well taking care of herself this year, but I want her to learn some contentment with who she is and what she has rather than upgrading every year.

This year we are shopping for Webkinz, earrings, books, and possibly going to see a movie if there is anything worth seeing for an 11 year old. I'll let you know how things come out.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

As a Family

When I went away to college I took my sweet time in choosing a church in my new city, (read: I never went to church) Eventually I fell out of the habit and Saturday nights were way too much fun to cut short for sleep in order to get up early the next day.

The same thing happened to DH.

Both of us had come from church-going families and been regular attenders up until graduation. When we got married the habit of sleeping in on Sundays was strong. We never did attend church while we lived in Alabama unless it was while we were visiting family.

When circumstances led to our moving to Mississippi and living with my family we did go to the church my parents belong to. That was the easiest way to keep them from bugging us.

It isn't that we didn't believe or didn't want our children to learn about God, it was just too much of a hassle to do it normally and the reasons for going when we did go were all wrong.

Guess what, when we moved out and into our own place again which habit do you think won? The habit of sleeping in and ignoring church or going, like we had been for 2 years, albeit for the wrong reasons. You probably guessed right. We took our own sweet time finding a church in our new town.

After the move to this new house I decided we could spare one Sunday morning to check out the church down the road. (It was by no means the first Sunday morning we lived here. A couple of months had passed.)

The Sunday school lesson seemed pointed right at us. The sermon as well seemed to be speaking to the two of us about coming back after wandering.

We attended for a few weeks, dropped off a bit due to illness and death in the family, but came back. Last week DH and I decided that this church was where we should be. This morning we walked up and spoke to the pastor about joining.

The girls are excited. They love going to church and are thrilled that we have an actual church home now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A question I have not asked in many years...

I stayed up until 3am this morning. DD10 and I watched some episodes of Monk we hadn't seen and the first episode of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? I had slept late yesterday and didn't really feel like going to bed since there was no one there to sleep next to.

Once there I read for another hour and then got to sleep.

I had told DD10 that I will get her up when I get up and that if she gets up first she should remember to start the laundry and wake me up.

When I got up the sun was going down, 7-ish at this time of year. I didn't hear the girls. It is nice when they don't argue all day. They hadn't done their chores, but that is actually normal if I sleep all day. I don't see any reason we can't do school and laundry over night if we all want to be night owls.

I know we need to get some groceries today but I really didn't feel like going to Wal-Mart. I planned to order a pizza for dinner. Not healthy, I know, but easy and lower on the hassle-meter.

I got dressed and came out to the computer. Despite the large picture windows things were a bit grey out here. I sat down, turned on my lamp, and started to boot up the computer.

My DB was eating his dinner at the table. He is eating cereal, which the dudes around here sometimes do when there isn't anything else, even for supper. I guess he didn't feel like waiting for me to order the pizza. I can understand that. I asked him where the girls are. He said he thought they were still asleep. (I think he doesn't like that I let them stay up all last night and then sleep all day. Oh well. My kids, my business)

The computer boots up. This thing is moving SLOW (cue blurry worm-hole effect and low, drawn out voice effect there.) I started flipping through the book I had been reading in the wee hours this morning to find the pages I wanted to email quotes from to DH in Chicago, in case he does get a chance to read emails. My eye glanced to the clock in the lower right hand corner of my screen.

7:04 AM

What the...? The virus I have been suspecting is making my computer super slow has screwed up my clock! No, wait...

Deep thinking for a few seconds. (cue cute-because-it-is-cliche elevator music)

I ask DB if I can ask him an embarrassing question. He says ok, but I can't bring myself to get out those words I haven't spoken since college (the first time around.) You know, the ones usually reserved for the wasted college students or the trans-oceanic traveling types. Is it morning or night?

So, I wuss out and ask him if he is getting ready to go to class. Yes, he is, he says. At that point I hang my head and tell him why I asked. We both get a little laugh. He points to the window and says "The sun is coming UP, not going DOWN."

Yes, well, it is hard to tell on a cloudy morning at this time of day at this time of year.

You know who I blame? DH
If he had been here he would have been getting ready to go to work and I would have KNOWN it was morning.

Tell me, how in the world I could feel so awake after 3 hours sleep that I could even POSSIBLY mistake it for 12+ hours!

Then again, if I am making that sort of a mistake, perhaps I am not as refreshed as I think.

You know what annoys me the most? I was looking forward to the pizza and now I can't order it(at least not for many hours.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


DH said he had already seen some crazy people just going from O'Hare to the hotel. Mostly he said he was referring to people behind the wheels or cars.

He did cut them some slack, though. He said he didn't blame them since driving in 6 lanes (each direction) would drive anyone nutty.

That reminded me of my high school trip to New York City. You have to wonder if the tax payer money spent to buy street lane paint might have been better spent, since the lane lines were all but ignored by the vehicles. He said that pretty much summed up Chicago where he is as well.

He and his coworkers (let's call them Brian and Bernie) walked (can you blame them?) down the street to get some dinner earlier. DH said that, other than the national chains (more Subways in one block he has never seen!) every restaurant they saw was either a PUB or a Tavern or a BAR. If you were lucky it was a Bar and Grill.

They walked past one bar near the hotel and someone pointed it out and said that place has the best steaks in Chicago.

DH said he couldn't get used to it. Things just aren't like that in Mississippi or Kentucky. I told him that it was just a selling point for restaurants that are probably just like the ones here inside, more or less. He acknowledged that, but said it was still weird.

They ended up going to a place called Paizano's (sp?) Since he was in Chicago he wanted some local cuisine. Not being a fan of hotdogs with a bunch of weird gunk all over them he opted for ... you guessed it ...PIZZA! Mmmmm!

He said the crust was deep, but not especially bready (whatever that means). The sauce was thicker and more prevalent (again, whatever that means). He said it had less fennel and more basil than what he usually gets. He impressed his co-eaters, sounded like a "reglar con-su-er," he joked. Just because his wife make her own pizza sauce HE gets to be impressive.

He said it had less cheese than what he usually likes. Next time he'd order extra cheese. He said he did order extra sausage because he could, and he thought it would be good, and it WAS, he said. The sausage was spiced differently than he is used to, but in a good way.

All in all, Chicago may not have impressed him much so far, but the pizza was great. If we ever go as a family we will have to make sure to get some of that.

Business Elite

So, DH is off to Chicago for his business convention. (I miss him.) He just called and we talked for an hour or so (actually more now that I look at the clock.) He talked about the cab ride. Going into Chicago from out takes and hour. Going out from in takes 30 minutes. Why? "There are too many people in Chicago," says the cab driver.

At the hotel, he is staying at the ... rhymes with Rilton ... they had two lines for check in. One for Rilton Elite members and one for the regular schmoes. He and his coworker were in the Elite line (by decision of whoever booked and arranged everything.) DH said after a few minutes it became obvious that the Schmoe line was moving faster.

Coworker- (leaning in to speak privately) You watch. They (Schmoe people who arrived at the same time as DH and DH's Coworker (let's call him Brian) will be served before we are.

Man nearby- The line you are in is for people who are willing to pay more in order that the hotel take the time to do anything they want. Not to move through quickly.

Sure enough, checking in took longer in the Elite line.

He also commented that his room was much smaller than the room we had stayed in in Tupelo. It was at the ... rhymes with Rarriot. I have no real illusions that it is specifically the hotel chain. I bet the Rilton in Tupelo has bigger rooms (for comparable class) than the one in Chicago and the Chicago Rarriot probably smaller. Anyway, my point is his room is small.

Said small room was reserved at the exact same time as Brian's room. It has the same confirmation number. They were on the same receipt. For some reason the desk clerk said Brian's room is $350 and DH's $450. They worked out what was going on there. Good thing they were in the Elite line, I guess.

DH also said that he didn't have free internet in his room. See, now that I have a laptop we have begun to notice and appreciate (on the rare occasions we travel) that most hotels now offer wireless internet access. One thing I have appreciated is the fact that at the Rarriot (in Tupelo, at least) and the Romfort Inn said internet access has been free of charge.

Not at the Rilton in Chicago. Apparently, the wireless internet access is part of the Business Perks package (no italics for lack of actually being able to quote the name of said business package) For a mere $17.99 per day the traveling businessman can enjoy wireless internet, free unlimited local calls, and they can drink the water in their room.

That last bit caught my attention when DH said it, seeing as how he is in Illinois, not Mexico.

You can drink the water in your room only if you buy the Businessman package? The sheer mechanics involved in having two water systems, one safe, one not were an interesting thought. The fact that they would charge to have you switched from one to the other rather than installing only the safe ...

No, no, of course that is not it. There is bottled water in the room. Normally, if you drink it is runs about $13 per bottle (because apparently the Rilton Hotel chain only serves water from a cool mountain spring in the French Alps that has been poured into the Holy Grail and from there into cut crystal bottles with gold foil labels that say Je suis plus que tois.)

However, if you pay for the business package your bottles are included in the $17. Nifty

He opened his curtains for the first time while on his phone, to see what sort of view he had. He got the fine privilege of looking out onto the courtyard space in the center of the building and the windows of other rooms. Good thing I didn't bother sending the digital camera with him.

So far he said he wasn't too impressed with the Rilton experience.