Friday, September 28, 2012

Old Photos...

... can be so heartwarming.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gets Old Fast

I knew it would take a while, getting a kitchen redone.

I knew I was going to have to give a few things up for awhile. I knew we would have to make adjustments.

But I'm a bit tired of washing our dishes in the bathtub.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Camera

When Steve told me he had ordered me a new camera that was heavier and bigger than my old one, I got nervous. Especially when he told me it wasn't blue.

And then the camera was delivered.

It's true, it's heavier than my old red camera. But these days cameras are so light, that it doesn't make a huge difference. It's also bigger than my old camera. But it's still small enough to sit in my back pocket.

Which, of course, I will not do, because I am sworn to protect this camera. I mean, to take care if it. To not just throw it in my bag and let it bang around.

You'll have to let me know what the photos look like. So far, I've only been able to try it out a little bit, with Andy's help.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Too Much Information

A notice came home from the school informing parents that a child at the school has been diagnosed with Whooping Cough. I mean, what is this, 1950?

All I knew about Whooping Cough was that there is a vaccination for it, and that, when you get it, you cough, and your cough makes a whooping sound.

So I looked it up.

It turns out that being vaccinated does not, actually, mean you can't get it. In this case, you actually have to get a lot of boosters, and even then...

Also, there are three stages to Whooping Cough.  The first stage, which lasts about two weeks, is like a bad cold. The actual whooping cough part is the second stage. So two weeks could go by where you think you just have a cold, or your kid has a cold and you're sending him to school anyway, thinking "sheesh, it's just a cold, we can't stay home for a cold!" and then, Hey! Whooping Cough!

Actually, I think there's a fever that should tip you off, but still...

I should never be allowed to research illnesses.

Last night I went on Web MD Symptom checker and typed in Fatigue. I got a couple of kinds of cancer, mumps, and nutritional deficiencies before "lack of sleep" popped up.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Uncle Jamie!

You're awesome.

Jamie, As Andy Sees Him.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bring Back The Ladybugs

I've posted about the Ladybug invasions that take place in the fall. We had a couple of years that were really bad, with hundreds of ladybugs in our home, coming out when the sun hit the windows.

Well, we now have a different kind of bug invading the place.

Box elder bugs, or maple bugs, are much larger than ladybugs. We don't have as many of them, thank goodness, because unlike ladybugs, they don't hide when the sun isn't shining. At night, when I'm sitting in bed reading or at the computer, they dive-bomb me, land on my pillow or in my hair, and when I sleep they crawl on the bed. 

When you crush them, they smell like grass. I've smelled that smell in the middle of the night and realized I had just crushed one in my sleep.

They don't bite, they're just there. All the time. Bugging me. 

And they're creepy. And no mater how many I squish in tissues and flush down the toilet, more keep coming in. I swear they're chewing through the walls or something.

I think it's a kind of karmic retribution for making such a fuss over the ladybugs. After all, they're harmless. I'll take them back. Really. And I will not complain. Just get these icky ones away from me.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Name That Baby!

Baby Fleen in a snuggly sweater.

No, really. Name it. I have a good idea, but I'm just not sure.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Ceiling

As part of our kitchen project we are getting new lighting. The old lights were ugly and not bright enough.

We're also getting rid of the popcorn ceiling. It will still be in every other room in our house, but at least we'll have room where the kids can feel balloons are safe.

All this, however, requires a step where the ceiling looks like this.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Project Idea

I haven't quilted in a long time.

The thing about quilting is, it takes a long time.

I don't have a long time. And I don't have a consistant time. By the time I figure out where I left off in a projrct, I'm ready for bed, or to pick up the kids, or something.

I also have a lot of fabric, which I usually purchase by the fat quarter, or find by cutting up  old clothing items.

Recently, I inherited my Aunt Betty's fabric stash. She had a lot of fabric, and what's more, she had yards and yards of some of it.

It's been sitting in the guest room, piled up in boxes until I can get my act together and find a quick sewing project.

But the other day, I found a use for some of it.

Ta Da!

In case you can't make out what it is, it's a number of tents, or forts, in the boys' bedroom. They loved it. I'm keeping it in mind for the long winter days ahead.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What Did You Want?

Andy: I SAID I wanted a Nature Valley Gorilla Bar!

Monday, September 17, 2012

One Small Step

When I was a kid we always bought our shoes at the same shoe store.

I can picture it so clearly - the storefront display, the shoes all placed just so on either side. The same salesman sold us our shoes for years. I'm not exactly sure when the store closed, but one day the displays were of women's hats and scarves and clunky jewelry.

The store was called Stride Rite.

I love Stride Rite. Yes, the shoes are expensive, considering they get holes within two months, or are outgrown within four. But the less expensive shoes at other places get holes within two weeks, sometimes days, and let's not forget that time in New York I realized Nick's shoes had holes in the soles and water was seeping through his socks! Cheaper isn't always better.

So, for as long as I have been in charge if buying shoes for small children, we've gone over to Stride Rite a few times a year. A very nice saleslady would measure my boys feet, and then the boys would choose usually only one pair of shoes. The main pair of shoes. And then I'd buy a backup at Target. (Sometimes shoes get passed down as backups as well.)

Yesterday I took every pair of shoes the boys own and lined them up in the hallway according to size.

I meant to take a picture, because it was really impressive, but I forgot. What made it more impressive is that we recently inherited five pairs of very gently worn shoes from one of Nick's friends, who happens to have very large feet. Size 4. These are shoes he's outgrown - Nick is just a size 2.

Back to my point - I was trying to figure out who needed what in terms of shoes. But all I was able to find out from the great shoe lineup was that we had a billion size 11 shoes, and that Nick has been wearing Merrells that are a whole size smaller than his new (in June) sneakers.

I needed to know what sizes the boys needed.

So I made a plan, and this morning I packed everyone into the car to go to the mall. To Stride Rite.

We don't go to the mall often anymore. Gone are my teen and pre-teen days, when I would spend hours walking up and down, spending money on GAP attire and music albums (remember those?)

Stride Rite....

...was gone.

Oh, they still exists in other places, but not at OUR mall. No. Now there is a store there called The Good Foot where I think you can buy orthopedic shoes and / or inserts. Boo!

This is when I realized I depended on Stride Rite to keep track of the boys sizes. What was I to do? Ahhhhh!

I spent a very frustrating afternoon walking around the mall until we found another shoe store, one with all the shoes stacked up, and you have to find the shoes yourself, and know what size you are, and while you are searching the employees give you nasty looks as your kids try to tell you what they like, or that they actually do not like either of the two non-sneaker shoes in stock. The employee actually glared at me because the boys were sitting and trying on shoes in the area he was trying to shelve boxes of shoes... I'm sure it was hard for him. I know it was for me.

We actually found those foot measuring devices there, so I was at least able to size the boys and take it from there.

All I know is, with the carousel at the mall now replaced with some basketball throwing machine and the guys trying to sell the flying squirrels, I'm not planning on visiting a mall again for quite some time.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Temporary Eat-In Kitchen

The thing about having to pack up your kitchen and move to a different space is that you begin to understand what's important.

We need a microwave and a toaster oven. We need a coffee maker. We do not need the the waffle maker or the cookie press. (es.) We also don't really need a food dehydrator. How do we get these things? Do we really need to keep them?

I did pack away a few items I would regularly use if I had an oven or a stove. Like my mini cuisinart and my kitchen-aid mixer. OK, maybe I don't use that mixer all that much, but I do love it. I use the hand mixer a lot more frequently.

I did my best to keep our temporary kitchen down to the essentials, but even now I'm realizing we have a lot more than we need down there. In some cases, to keep stuff together, I used the old drawers. I really had no idea how many spices we had until I stood them all up in this drawer.

I've also decided that, if I'm even in a situation where I need to rent a studio apartment, or a house with no shelving, I'm investing in these exact rolly carts for storage. The company doing the work provided us with them, but they look nice, and hold a lot. I could totally see myself, alternate universe, storing my dishes on them because my kitchen was only the size of a closet.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Gramma and her brothers

Gramma and her brothers Jay and Carl
I think these are her brothers. They might not be. It's my best guess... Mom?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kitchen Update

Remember my kitchen?

I didn't take formal before pictures, so I had to go scouting through some old photos to find a few that had the actual kitchen part of the kitchen in it.

Two days into the project, our kitchen looks... a bit different.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Movie Night Critic

So far, we've successfully implemented 3 movie nights. 

The last person who got the choose was Andy. I was kind of worried about Andy, because he's really easy to influence. When he first found out he was next to choose, he picked Atlantis, which we've all seen a billion times very recently. Then he changed him mind and said "Harry Potter Two," which I knew wasn't his choice - let's face it. Nick's the Harry Potter fan. I pictured Nick whispering into Andy's ear, and Andy making that choice to please. 

I also happen to think Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets (otherwise known as Harry Potter Two) is a bit scarier than the first one. And I said so, out loud, to all three of the boys.

Which brings us to Friday, Movie Night.

Andy said he changed his mind again. He wanted to watch Harry Potter One (The Sorcerer's Stone) instead. Never mind that we'd watched it together two weeks earlier. Never mind that, since then, Nate's been popping it in every weekend morning, and non-school night. They must have seen it 14 times in as many days. I wouldn't be surprised.

This is when I myself intervened, and had the following conversation with Andy / Myself. "You know," I said, "You could also watch movies you haven't seen before. We could watch... "
 Oh, no! What can he watch? Quick, think of something! 
"Um,  a Disney thing we haven't seen... Or something from the library...." 
OK, that's Pokemon and a lot of bad Scooby Doo cartoons! Think! Think! Something decent! What did you watch when you were little? 
"Superman - we could watch Superman."

We watched Superman.

The original. Well, the 1978 version. The one I watched when I was little.

I haven't seen that movie in a long time. It's hard to watch, now, knowing what happened to Christopher Reeve. But it was the first movie that ever made me cry (when he leves his mother), and I know we used to love it. 

Or, maybe we just used to run around singing the Theme song and pretending to fly. But whatever. I thought the boys might be interested.

And guess what - Andy choose it.

It actually took two nights to watch it, because at 9PM the first night Nick had already fallen asleep and there was still an hour left of the film. The second night had all the action - the bombs, the kryptonite, the flying around,  the rocks, the earthquakes... 

Steve and I discussed Lois Lane, and why she was so irritating and, well, not smart for a snappy woman reporter. We also talked about that part where Superman flies around Earth until it spins backwards, reversing time, which is just so totally unbelievable I can't really get past it.

But we all had fun, I think.

When it was finally done, I said, "Thank you, Andy, for choosing that movie. What did you guys think of it."

Nick said "Good." One word.

Nate said it was good, but scary. You might be surprised, but he's often the one who can't sleep because he's scared of something from a book or movie. 

Andy was enthusiastic. "Yes! I loved that movie! I give it One Star!"

He's tough, that one.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I don't know if I mentioned the cupcake store that opened up a few years ago. I'm sure I must have, because the place is such a fabulous cupcake dream in an Eloise-At-The-Plaza kind of way...

Anyway, the cupcake store happens to be located very near Andy's School. And the lady who owns the cupcake store - which is now so successful she has an additional kiosk at the mall and, if rumors prove to be true, is also opening up a third location - has a little girl who was in Nicholas's class at school. Two years in a row.

The cupcakes there are expensive, by NH standards. Over $3 for a cupcake seems extreme, when you aren't sure the kid's going to  eat it. But it should be said that these are not your run of the mill cupcakes. They're fancy. They have fancy flavors. Children don't always appreciate them. And they look....

Well, they look like this:

These are the cupcakes I bought in celebration of the first day back to school. And NO, I did NOT eat a cupcake before taking the picture! I only bought five of them, so it looks that way.

Aren't they beautiful, though? Let's take a closer look.

Fudge Sundae

Chocolate Peanut Butter

Vanilla Raspberry Swirl

Monday, September 10, 2012

What the camera looks like

Thanks to my phone, I have taken a picture of my camera.

It sounds like a strange thing to want to do. It's just to show you what the camera looks like at the moment.

If you want to see the zoom blob, go back and look at the photos of the boys on the first day of school. Beautiful photos, colors so bright... but there's this little mystery blur left of center...

It seems odd to think I need a camera when my phone obviously takes photographs.

I know some people get along without a camera just fine, and they take pictures with their phones all of the time. And they have no troubles at all.

 But I am not most people. When I take pictures with my phone I have all sorts of troubles. I can't focus right. I can't get everyone in the screen. I accidentally press the wrong button and instead of taking a picture I keep shutting out of the app.

I use my camera when photo ops come unexpectedly. Not for things like vacations or family gatherings.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Thing With Cats

The other day one of my FaceBook friends posted a picture of kittens that are, apparently, up for adoption. They really were cute little things, huge ears, humongous eyes, and just so sweet looking. It's almost enough to win me over, make me forget myself, and say "Gimme Gimme Gimme!"

But I have two cats already. And they are a world of trouble.

As I am pretty sure I mentioned, Puck is diabetic, and requires an insulin injection twice daily. He also needs Thyroid meds twice a day, 3/4 of a really tiny pill which I need to break into bits slightly larger than dust specks and enclose in a pill pocket, special treats designed specifically to trick pets into taking pills.

That's a handful. As is the fact that Puck needs special food and Frank, the other cat, gets a little uppity with there being no wet food in HIS bowl...

For some time now, one of the cats has been peeing outside of the box.

Not on the rug, not in some other location, but right outside the front of the box. It's like the cat climbs in, but misses. I place a rubber mat there, to catch the bits of cat litter before they get tracked all over the house. And at least once a day I lift it, very carefully, because it is full of cat pee. It always overflows and gets underneath the box itself, so I need to clean the floor, the underside of the box, and whatever mat or cloth I managed to place under the box because this has been going on for so long I have been trying everything!.

I have to admit, in my lowest moments I often think about taking Puck to the vet and having him put down. I mean, the medication, the crazy feeding arrangements, and the now the pee? It's just too much. I can't take it any more.

The thing is, I was never 100% sure Puck was the one peeing outside the box. It's just that he's been the one with all of the issues. What if I had him put down and it wasn't even him? Also, he doesn't seem to be in any pain, so I don't feel it's right.

With the kitchen getting redone, and the laundry room, I have moved all of the pat things around. The dog food and the water bowl are also moved to the dining room. The cats are getting fed in all different places. And the litter box has been moved into the bathroom.

I was worried about this, because of the pee issue. I'm a little fed up with pee issues. See, I live in a house full of boys, and apparently they all have terrible aim. I mean, TERRIBLE. Actually, I think they are all just in a gigantic hurry, and as soon as they think they are done, they begin to move away from the toilet, but the last few drops of pee always seems to hit the floor in front of the toilet. You know, the place where my feet, as a woman who sits down, would go. 

Oh, we're all kinds of bathroom issues. closing the door is one thing. There is no modesty, as became painfully away during Nick's Sleepover, when a little boy was looking at me, wide eyed, asking about a place he could change into his PJ's, as Nate was running down the hall naked shouting "Whoohoo! Whoohoo!"

This lack of modesty is why the door was open when Nick was using the bathroom yesterday, and why I heard him shout "Mom! Mom! Come quick!" I ran in to see Nick using the bathroom, sitting on the toilet. And in front of him was Frank, who apparently had also felt the need. His tail was sticking out of the littler box opening, and a stream of pee was hitting the mat behind him. 

"Caught!" I shouted, hitting the side of the litter box. Frank flipped out - no really, he jumped straight into the air and flipped around - then dashed out of the bathroom,  cat interrupted.

So now that mystery is solved. I know who is doing the deed.

But this morning, as I was carefully carrying the pee on the mat across the room to dispose of it, I realized it didn't matter. We STILL have no idea how to get him to stop. I just have a target for my anger and frustration. Which doesn't matter. Because I can yell at him and scold him all I want. He just looks at me and meows a "Feed Me!"

Bratty Cat. 

Thursday, September 06, 2012


I may have mentioned this in passing.

We are getting our kitchen redone.

Why, you ask? Why would you do that? Didn't you just go on and on about buying things you don't need and all that?

Yes. Yes I did.

But I have my heart set on a new kitchen. You see, the kitchen cabinets do not make me happy. They are painted white, and are scratched and chipping. The knobs fall off. The drawers rub together and sawdust snows down onto the dishes and pot and pans below. There is a gap between the cooktop and the counter and grease and water drip inside and fall into the drawers beneath. The oven and microwave are attached, and the microwave part stopped working years ago. The self-cleaning function on the oven has ceased to function. The lighting in the kitchen is terrible.

And so...

So Steve called a guy who got this nice lady to draw us up a new kitchen. Not only a new kitchen that would fix all those above things, but that would also give me a bigger window, more space between the fridge and the counter, more workspace, a bigger laundry room...

How could you say no?

All we need to do in return is give up our kitchen for 6 weeks, live with banging and dust for a bit, and decide which of our children to trade in order to afford new cabinets.

It starts in a couple of days. Today's goal is to create a makeshift kitchen in another room. Tomorrow's goal is to make a few things to stick in the freezer, so we can microwave a few hot things to eat during the whole process.

And then all I have to do is be patient and hope the outcome is worth the pain.

I'm 50% dread and 50% excitement at the moment.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Bright Idea

Last week I had the bright idea to institute a Family Movie NIght on Friday nights. The boys have usually had Wednesday night as Movie Night. This is my choir night, and they usually watch with Steve. Sometimes they play Wii instead. Regardless, I'm never included in these movie nights.

I thought maybe we could all take turns picking the movie. That way, we'd all get to watch something we'd like to see. It would be fair. And fun!

The boys immediately chose Harry Potter as the first movie. The first one. It isn't that scary, I figured, so we all watched the first one, and it was great.

Then, last Friday, Nate chose Yogi Bear.

It wasn't so bad, in that I hadn't seen it before, except for a few moments on a plane at some point.

Next week is Andy's week. He wants to watch Atlantis, a Disney movie that we own, and have seen a billion times.

It suddenly occurred to me that, even though I now have an opportunity to expose my boys to classic films such as Superman and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (originals, please), they now have the opportunity to expose me to a number of silly and stupid and mind numbing things, such as Pokemon films. And movies with talking dogs.

Me and my bright ideas.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Nick Names

I read the boys a book at bedtime called My Name Is Elizabeth, by Annika Dunklee and Matthew Forsythe.

It's a very cute book about a little girl who likes going by Elizabeth, not Lizzie, not Beth, not anything else.

As a Kathleen who actually goes by Kathleen in a world of Kathleens who go by Kathy, I can understand this, and I would like to remain sensitive to my boys, who may have preferences themselves. Which led to the following conversation after the book.

Me: You all have names that can be shortened. You could be called all sorts of different things. Like, Nicholas could be Nick, or Nicky... What do you like?

Nick: Nick.

Me: And Nathan could be Nate or... (pause as I try to think of another nickname for Nathan...) Nato-Potato... What do you like, Nathan?

Nate: I like Nate.

Me: OK, that's good to know. And how about Andy? Your name is Andrew, so we could call you that, or we could call you Andy, or we could even call you Drew. Sometimes people named Andrew go by Drew. What do you think? What do you like to be called?

Andy (taking his time, looking thoughtful): Ummmmm...  I think I like... Andy Potato.

And this is how nicknames are born.


Monday, September 03, 2012


Every summer we tell the kids we're going to set up the tent and have a few sleepouts in the yard.

And every summer, in late August, we realize it's now or never.

Usually we pitch the tent close to the house, rather close to the swingset. But this year we decided to pitch it farther down. Way, way at the end of the property. Closer to the brook.

See? No? Too far away? Here. I'll zoom it for you.

There! Better?

You'll notice that there is a car next to the tent. This is because, after we pitched it, Steve realized he didn't want to carry all of the sleeping bags and pillows and books and flashlights down there all by himself. So he loaded everything into the car and drove.

They had a great night. The bigest issue was that we pitched the tent pretty close to the brook - not an issue in terms of flooding, as the brook is rather low, but we didn't want to leave the boys down there for even a second.So when a boy woke in the middle of the night needing to use the bathroom and too frightened to walk the long way across the misty lawn alone, he was kind of out of luck.

We didn't take the tent down, and a couple of nights before the first day of school I took my turn. I had giggled at Steve for taking the car down to the tent, and instead I insisted that the boys carry their own sleeping bags and headlamps. We settled in.

It wasn't too bad. Even that far away fromt he house, the wireless works, so while the boys fell asleep at 8pm I was able to read and get on the internet with my ipad. I determined yet again that I prefer sleeping in a bed with indoor plumbing a short walk away, but the boys had a great time.

And then, at around 5am, it began to rain.

It was light at first, and I was sure it would stop before the boys woke up.

It didn't.

In fact, it got harder and harder. The boys woke up and started to panic. "We're fine," I said. "We'll just wait for it to slow down or stop."

Nate looked at me, deadpan. "It's never going to stop."

The rain got harder and harder, and I knew we were going to have to leave our stuff there and make a run for it. Even so, we' d get soaked to the bone. It takes the boys forever to walk across the lawn, especially Andy, and the rain was just too unforgiving...

And that's when we heard the car.

Steve had woken up, heard the rain, and decided to save us. He drove the minivan down across the lawn to pick us up. It was 6:30 AM.

And then we had coffee and it was good.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

And It Begins...

The start of the school year is always hectic. The end of Summer Vacations brings a push to get everything done that hasn't been done. Then there's the excitement of starting school - meeting new friends, a new teacher... The entire family needs to adjust to new schedules. School, bus, piano, karate... Library Story Hours, Volunteer hours, meetings, Church is starting again, which means meetings are starting again, choir is starting again... All this without a kitchen, as ours is scheduled to be upgraded.

I have been anticipating all this for some time now. I have a calendar. I knew September was coming.

On Wednesday, after his first day of preschool, Andy complained of a headache. I chalked it up to over-excitement.

When I placed my hand on his arm and noticed it was warm, I was surprised he could get so heated from sitting on the porch and blowing bubbles.

I was wrong. And wrong.

The next morning he complained that "his mouth hurt."

And he had a temp of 100.1.

I took him in to the pediatrician.

When they swabbed the back of his throat, the swabs came away red with blood. The nurse looked at me sympathetically (apparently I looked worse than Andy at that moment) and told me it sometimes happened with really irritated throats.

The doctor said the test usually took 2 minutes to process, and five minutes to get a definite answer. Only Andy's test took about 20 seconds to turn bright purple (or some color) for a VERY positive Strep Throat Diagnosis.

And so Andy missed his second day of school, and we had our first sick day.

Please don't let the others get sick.

Please please please please please.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Bunny Bunny

It's September already.

Boy, I have a lot to do.