Saturday, January 28, 2012


So once again we are plagued by sickies, which is always a bummer, but especially a bummer when it means missing fun things like my friend's daughter's Bat Mitzvah.

I've wanted to attend a Bat Mitzvah ever since I read Davita's Harp in high school. Even though Davita did not get to have a Bat Mitzvah while David did, because she was a girl and girls did not have a Jewish rite of passage in the 1930s.

By the way you should read Davita's Harp. It's definitely in my top 10 favorite books, and one I'll re-read every few years along with A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Life of Pi, Jane Eyre, all the Harry Potters. . . you get my point. It is one of the good ones.

And just so you know, you should read everything by Chaim Potok. He is one of the greats.

Anyway. So Mastermind and I woke up with uber-sore throats today. I actually had mine yesterday, while I was STILL on antibiotics for strep throat. So it can't be strep again, right? I mean seriously.

Can it?

Ox has had a cough since November along with Belinda Jensen of channel 11 news (according to my  mom). He had choir practice and a performance today, but a barky choir boy sort of ruins the sound. So we shipped him off to my mom's along with Little Frog, dragged ourselves to Target for lots of salty food and happened upon an awesome estate sale. That's right, an estate sale in January. And it was a good one.  Lots of books, glassware, and a bedroom set nearly identical to ours. Too bad "Sold to Dawn" had already bought up most of the place otherwise we would have gotten a new dresser.

Check out the de-tarnished set below!

Better still everything was 50% off today.

Lots of books like I said, I got the best ones there, a set of apple green Louisa May Alcotts for $6 and this cute silver-plate cream/sugar set for $7.50.

Not sure if they're worth much, but they're cute.

Also snagged - a cute end table for the basement (I needed a place to set my tea) that may or may not be a Duncan Pfyfe. If not, it is cute, and matches our dining room table.

But more importantly is a place for me to put my tea.

The mock-pfyfe tea table

But still, I'd rather have gone to the Bat Mitzvah. We have all summer to hop the sales.

Not to mention missing a night out without the kiddos, to celebrate a friend's birthday. We're almost always sick on this particular friend's birthday. It's a little ridiculous.

People are going to start thinking we're pretending to be sick to get out of doing things, but we're not.

At least there are the Alcotts, apple green.

This Just In: My darling Mastermind has a thing for cleaning tarnished silver (or silver-plate). See the silver at left? SO much shinier than before.

Trick: line a large pan with aluminum foil, fill with water. Add a 5:1 ratio baking soda to salt and let it come to a boil. Add silver and let it simmer for 1-2 minutes. Follow up with a good silver polish. This is a no-fail method, and pretty easy.

Friday, January 27, 2012

My day job

I am one of the lucky ones. My day job incorporates most of the things I like best; books, computers, Dr. Pepper, and every Wednesday it even includes potatoes.

That's right, I am a librarian. Or more specifically, a Media Tech Integration Specialist. I am SUCH a librarian that I tend to send people away from my house with books to borrow. I actually reorganized the upstairs bookshelf in my house when a church group was coming over to books that I might be willing to lend out just in case someone happened to glance at them. 

I recently switched schools in no small part because I had read all the books at my last school and needed more, even though I am currently completely absorbed in the Game of Thrones series by George R. R. Martin as well as the new Stephen King (remember that picture of my nightstand in the last entry? slowly getting covered again) I just opened a box of Advance Reader copies (ARCs) that are not yet published.

I'm getting chills just looking at them. There is nothing as exciting as opening a box of brand new books, even if they are not for me (but hey, if they're in "my" library they're "mine," right?). Here are the ones I'm most excited about right now, and are in my very near future of reading: 

(apologies for the blanks, the barcode has already been placed, awkwardly, right over the summary)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Because it is a part of our history, because it won an award, and because a group of seniors said it was good.

Junior is a budding c__________ 
on the Spokane India_________
with a variety of med_________
picked on by everyone________
Determined to receive a g______ leaves the rez to attend an all-white school in the neighboring farm town where the only other Indian is the school mascot...

Switched by Amanda Hocking

Because as a mother, sometimes I think my children have been switched with monsters, so I might find this relevant.

When Wendy Everly was six years old her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her, and eleven years later Wendy learns that her mother was right and that she is actually a changeling troll, who, at the age of seventeen, must be returned to her rightful home.
Eve by Anna Carey

Not only does it have an excerpt from The Giving Tree but it's blurb compares it to The Hunger games meets The Handmaid's Tale (all 3 are must-read books), and is the first in a planned trilogy

The night before Eve's graduation from her all-girls school, she disc__
really happens to new graduates - and the horrifying fate that awaits_
the only home she's ever known, eve sets off on a long, treachero____
searching for a place she can survive.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

I'm a SciFi junkie so this is right up my alley. . . and it's TRUE (sorry, I mean Non-Fiction of course). The IB Biology students are reading this one right now.

Doctors took her cells without asking. Those cells never died. They launched a medical revolution and a multimillion-dollar industry. More than twenty years later, her children found out. Their lives would never be the same.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

This one just won a Newberry for the best children's book of 2011. That alone is reason to read it (I'm a firm believer in reading award winners, if only to test the credibility of the judges). 

... is the story of an incredible two months for a boy named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation adventure are suddenly ruined when he is grounded by his feuding parents. . . a chore involving the newly dead. . . Girl Scout cookies. . . Hells Angels and bloody noses.

Monday, January 23, 2012

On the Surface (part 1)

I would like to dedicate this post to some surfaces that make up my life. They are by no means a comprehensive list of surfaces, nor do they represent any particular order (such as My Favorite Surfaces, or The Surfaces I Just Cleaned, although one of those might be true). Stars, as we all know, are very concerned about how things appear on the surface.

nom nom nom (if you're six)
 This first surface represents the ritual of Making Lunches. As my blog followers no doubt recall I dedicated an earlier post to making lunch, and it took me nearly an hour to complete. I have definitely, absolutely whittled that time down. Call it the difference between September and January, but I call it I Would Rather Read A Book.

a) little plastic containers. I hate these, but Zulily just put Lunchbots duos on sale again, and mine haven't arrived yet. Once they do, my quest for no plastic will be complete.
b) Pampered Chef crinkle cut thingie. I use this quite often to cut sandwiches, cut carrot sticks (I can't cut carrots with a knife for anything, they always turn out wonky), and my trademark wasabi deviled eggs. It makes things pretty but more importantly, it makes things easier.
c) kids' lunchbags. Don't look too close, Little Frog's Skip Hop Zoo frog is pretty nasty, since it is bare canvas and not so easy to clean. I'm going to get her a SugarBooger bag (example: Ox's monster lunchbag) because it is awesome, durable, and easy to clean.
d) Lunch tomorrow consists of: pbj for Ox, ccj* for Little Frog on white wheat bread, blueberries, carrot sticks in tinfoil, little yogurt smoothies, bunny grahams/marshmallows in their snack bags. Wax paper helps keep the sandwiches fresh for tomorrow, and keeps the sandwich bags clean for an entire week so I don't have to wash them every day.

my real happy place- my fake one is someplace else

This second surface might just be my favorite surface in the house: my nightstand.

it does not always look this clean!

. . . but I love it when it is. Clockwise from picture: pic of Mastermind and me pre-dating, he is very crabby in it which is funny. Pottery dish my sister made in college, she made a bunch of great pieces. Lamp (and nightstand itself) were a gift from my mother-in-law when Mastermind and I moved in to our house. 2 books; 11/22/63 by Stephen King, and A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin (I love nice, fat books. Especially really good, nice, fat books). Below, NIV Bible on top of a word search book. Box of Things. Sony eReader in black [below the] Nook eReader in green.

I clean my nightstand off about once a month, and it slowly gets covered with books that I drag out of hiding as I finish one and need a next. Once it gets a little silly (or if people are coming over) I'll grab a grocery bag and drag them all back down to where they go. Mastermind had a Master Plan of getting rid of the thousands of books in the house by getting me an eReader, first the Sony when eReaders first came out, then the Nook Color when it came out because it's way cool. But I like big, FAT books.

Chamomile in Beryllium Mug**
I do have to say though, that my favorite reading place, the bathtub, is impossible with books as fat as 11/22/63. Bummer. I have to settle for my bed and my tea. 

Chamomile. Because it reduces gas.

(Too much information? hey, I'm transparent like that. Gotta work on that "Surfacey" star thing a bit more)

Speaking of gas, stars, and surfaces, let's take a fun quiz: How Long Could You Survive On The Surface Of The Sun


*ccj = cream cheese and jelly because Little Frog's preschool has banned all nuts.
**Beryllium Mug is Mastermind's 4th Anniversary of being a member of the American Chemical Society. These mugs are the BEST! We get one each year, I love them. The handle is never too hot to hold, and each one features a different element. By the time the kids are in high school chemistry we'll be able to make part of the periodic table out of our mugs. Super NerdyCool. 


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Out to Lunch

"Hey Ox, want to go out to eat tonight?"

"No, I'd rather stay home."

When I was a kid the height of dining excitement was going out to Ponderosa on Central Avenue. To be honest, nothing was as thrilling as that double-long salad bar and those soft, warm dinner rolls. I loved that salad bar. I would take trip after trip to refill my plate, iceberg lettuce topped with little scoops of sunflower seeds, bacos, and croutons; the whole plate doused with generic ranch dressing. And those rolls. I would keep my eye out for when the attendant would bring a fresh tray of them, steaming from the kitchen, and run up to grab one or two, feeling gluttonous and worrying that I was doing something wrong. Was it really okay to eat so many rolls?

The ice cream bar for dessert was no small detail either.

and the taste, apparently.
Fast forward howevermany years. Ponderosa is long gone. I still love a good salad bar, but a "good" salad bar is hard to find. Worst of all, parenthood has made me highly critical of the restaurant industry. We try to take our kids out to eat frequently. I think it is good for them to practice good table manners in public, and try new foods.

"and try new foods"  - Hah.

Nearly every restaurant out there has really, truly crummy kid's menus. The Main Five of grilled cheese, chicken fingers, hamburger, corn dog, and $8 Kraft macaroni and cheese has bored my kids to the point where they don't want to go out to eat. I can't blame them, restaurants that I considered a favorite in college now bore me to death, taste of grease, and I've come to realize that I would rather eat at home, too.

The kicker came when I received an order from Penzey's Spices and it came with a free bumper sticker that stated:

If you love someone, give them tasty food.

That sums it up, alright. I'm done with chain restaurants and their nasty food. Nearly always the kids get the shaft, and I end up slightly dissatisfied (or sick from the grease).

Disclaimer: Joe's Crab Shack has one of the best kid's menus I've ever seen, despite being a chain. They clearly understand that the youngest clients have opinions that matter. The kids got lots of food, little toys, a really fun drink, and left very happy. 

I think we're going to start to skip the kids menu altogether and get something more quality from the regular menu, and split it between the kids. They love fish for example, and few restaurants I've seen have figured out that fish might be a good addition to the kids menu. I don't get it.

Mastermind casually mentioned the other day that IHOP offers kids-eat-free every day after 4. It might be worth it to check out, if only to further prove my theory that chains suck. Their kids menu (which I always check out online first - if they don't have their kids menu posted online, it probably features The Main Five) is promising especially for being free, but there is not a whole lot that appeals to my sensitive tummy. They can't mess up soup, though (because it probably comes in a bag from Sysco). Eh.

Message to all restaurants: if you cater to the kids, you make the parents happy; not only will they come back, they will tell all their friends, post it on Facebook, and blog about the good experience. Think about it. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Year

Out with the old and all that jazz.

So yeah, it's been a while since I've blogged, but I've been sick since August. Cold, flu, you name it and I had it. I've lost 15 pounds and decided a change was in order. I nabbed an awesome job at a high school. I'm hoping that being sneezed on less will help my immune system, and give me more energy to be a mom. I start next Monday. It is completely crazy of me to leave a great school but it would have been crazier not to jump at a job that is. SO. me.  Seriously.

But sickies aside, I cannot believe how fast the fall flew by. December was packed with so much stuff as it always is, amped up by Ox's choir concerts and of course all the sickies. His sixth birthday was last week, which always marks the end of our Holiday season (no bigger holiday than a kid's birthday, right?).

Ox reading at school*
In part of an effort to start calming down the family from the holiday craze we have instituted family Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) time.  Ox is reading beautifully thanks to the rigors of all-day kindergarten, and Little Frog knows about half her letters so it seemed like an opportune time.

I read all the time, and The Mastermind reads too but not when the kids are awake. They need to see us reading, and reading for enjoyment, if they are going to do the same. I believe strongly that boys who see daddies that don't read start to think of reading as something only girls do. This is of course not true, nor is it true of our family (although I AM an incurable bookworm), but kids learn by observation.

It has been wonderful. Not only can Ox fill in the little book-a-day of his pizza chart (I think he gets something if he fills in a lot of book-a-days but I'm not sure since the info was passed out in Blurcember) but when it is that crazy time after dinner or before bedtime when the kids are starting to eat their own hair I can announce "Hey! It's time for DEAR!" and everyone drops what they are doing, runs for a pile of books, picks their favorite spot and reads. I have to admit that even though I am completely engrossed in the Game of Thrones series I am not getting very far during DEAR as I spend most of it listening to Little Frog's interpretation of the the books she "reads."

Little Frog "reading"

I am hoping it will continue. Luckily both of my kids like a little structure so planned activities fit right in.

*Wondering how I got the picture of Ox at school? His wonderful teacher created a Shutterfly account and uploaded about 300 pictures of all the special things that have gone on so far this year. I LOVE having pictures of Ox during his day, and am looking forward to creating a photo book at the end of the year to commemorate kindergarten. 


Eli Kindergarten

Click here to view this photo book larger

Visit to create your own personalized photobook.