Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Working Out

As I type this, I am sitting here thinking that the only muscles not hurting are the ones in my fingers. And my calves. My hamstrings are okay. And my glutes. But everything else? I feel like I've had whole body whiplash. Why? Because I started my sessions with a personal trainer yesterday.

I received a gift certificate from my beloved for my birthday for some sessions with a personal trainer. Now, before you go thinking that he is a horrible husband and a neanderthal, let me assure you that he only gave me what I asked for. He asked me what I wanted and I told him that I would like to have some time with a trainer who can help me get myself back into shape. Trust me when I say that he asked me about 467 times if I was sure that was what I wanted. He kept telling me that it felt like he was giving me an appliance or something equally unlovely. (Actually, I asked for a stand mixer for Christmas and he gave me one. What can I say? I am practical. Perhaps I should start asking for different things? A trip to Ireland?) I reminded him that I asked for it. It's not like he was giving it to me and dropping a hint into my lap at the same time. He told me that when he went to the Y and bought the sessions, he made sure to tell the ladies behind the counter that it was my request. I think he was afraid they would come after him in the parking lot.

So. After a few weeks of trying to work out the schedule, I met with my trainer last week for a consultation and to set some goals. And yesterday was the day. It was good. And horrible. And exciting. And tiring. And stimulating. And exhausting. I discovered that I could both do more and less than I thought I could. Does that make sense? The trainer was great and I can't wait to meet with her again. But today I am, as predicted, sore, but not so sore that I can't move. In fact, I'll be heading back to the Y this morning to do some torture cardio. Should be a blast. What with the fact that my quads have decided to go on strike. Seriously. Walking upstairs last night? I didn't know I was grunting until my children mocked me. Then this morning I discovered myself grunting on the way downstairs. Yes, things should be interesting this morning.

I thought that I might start painting our living room this week, but the thought of trying to climb a ladder and also kneel down to paint along the baseboard is anything but appealing right now. Actually doing the 37 metric tons of laundry waiting for me upstairs sounds more doable. Although it does have me cursing my beloved 2nd floor laundry room.

Maybe after I work out, I'll just mentally fold the laundry while I sit on the couch and watch Mad Men on Netflix. Oh, and my shower is upstairs too. But you know what? My 7 year old tells me that hygiene is overrated. Perhaps she's right.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Just A Quickie

No. Not that. What kind of blog do you think I'm running here? I may regret giving this post that title later when the google hits from the pervs starts coming, but for now, it's all good.

This quickie is a quick craft project I did yesterday. It all started with a framed painting from Goodwill.

I spray painted the frame black because the silvery/brassy/leopard-spotted frame didn't really do it for me. (Sorry I don't have any completely "before" pictures. I just jumped right in and then remembered to take pictures. Bad blogger!) Then I chose stickers for the word I wanted to stand out, in this case, "peace." That word sometimes seems elusive around here and so I thought that having it staring out at me from a frame, well, if it didn't make me take the time to find some, at least it would look pretty.

So! I stuck the letters onto the landscape painting, and then I painted over them in white. I removed the letters while the paint was wet and cleaned up any smudges from any paint that might have seeped under the stickers. And this is what I'm left with. I like it! I like that the texture of the canvas is varied because of the underlying oil paint underneath and I like the variations in paint color in the letters.

Yes, I know I have some touching up to do on the frame where I got white paint on it. I was too impatient to get started and the black paint on the frame hadn't had time to harden completely and I didn't want to risk having to paint it again, so instead of taping the frame off, I free-handed it. Yes, I know that my free handing looks like I'm suffering from DT's. Whatever. I'll fix it. The point is, I took a not so pretty picture from Goodwill and turned it into something I like much better.

Also? I found this idea somewhere in the pre-Pinterest days and I cannot remember where so I cannot give proper credit. Just know, as usual, this is not an original idea, but, as ever, I am a copycat.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I finally replaced my 50mm lens and now I have some pictures to edit. (I'm sure you'll be seeing them soon. Boring family photo alert! Um...not that we're a boring family. It's just that you'll probably be bored looking at the bazillion pictures I took of my offspring using my nifty fifty. Digression over!) Also, I need to do some laundry since my husband came home at 12:30 this morning after a week on the road. And I need to cook some turkey bacon because my daughter ate the last strip. And I should probably go for a walk and a bike ride. After I get out of my pajamas. Ahem.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Art Show

Sean came home a few weeks ago and very excitedly told us how he had one of his paintings selected to be in the district wide art show. This is a non-juried show, designed to highlight the works of students of all  grade levels throughout the district. Each grade level from each school was represented and there were many different forms of art--painting, drawing, sculpture, print making, graphic design, photography, fabric art (weaving and such)--and they were all on display for two days at Maggie's high school.

I was astounded at not just the sheer number of pieces displayed, but by the quality of the work at all levels.  First I'll show off my curly boy's project.

They were making pop art spirit animals, in the style of Andy Warhol. He chose to do a cougar. I was impressed. I knew he liked drawing and art activities, but I was surprised nonetheless.

Here's Mary checking out some sculptures from an elementary school.

This painting? Totally framable! And done by a 2nd grader. Wow!

I love this cow. I cannot explain to you just how much I love it. It makes me indescribably happy.

A wonderful Islamic tile print. James brought his home and I'm absolutely putting a frame around it. It's red and blue and I have no idea where it will fit into my home, but I don't care. He did a great job on it. Even he thinks he did well. And he would be the first to tell you that art just isn't his thing.

Mary and I both loved this glittery maraca-holding cactus. Seriously. What's not to love?

More sculptures. 

I'm pretty sure if I did an art project involving paint and pasta, it would wind up looking like a 3 year old did it. It wouldn't turn out cool like this one.

One of two sculptural dresses I saw. The other was made out of burned and unburned matchsticks. I wish I had taken a picture of that one. It was very cool.

These 3-D paper sculptures were some of my favorites in the show. 

And how about this paper wig? Awesome!

These last two are self-portraits done by seniors in the AP art class. Maggie tells me they've been working on them for 12 weeks. The works have been in the hallway and so the school has seen them progress since the beginning of the year. They are very big and while I only show two here (my favorite two. The blue-eyed girl? Maggie pointed her out to me at the show and she looks just like her portrait.) there were about 10 others and they were all extraordinary.

This list was on the back of the program. I wanted to share it with you because I think it highlights reasons that art is important.
*Art is a language that all people speak that cuts across racial, cultural, social, educational, and economic barriers and enhances cultural appreciation and awareness.

*Art integrates body, mind, and spirit.

*Art provides opportunities for self-expression, bringing the inner world into the outer world of concrete reality.

*Art is an opportunity to experience processes from beginning to end.

*Art develops both independence and collaboration.

*Art provides immediate feedback and opportunities for reflection.

*Art makes it possible to use personal strengths in meaningful ways and to bridge into understanding sometimes difficult abstractions through these strengths.

*Art merges the learning of process and content.

*Art improves academic achievement--enhancing test scores, attitudes social skills, critical and creative thinking.

*Art exercises and develops higher order thinking skills including analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and "problem-finding."

*Art provides a means for every student to learn.

I'm so impressed with the work that all these students have done. But I'm also impressed by the quality of teaching occurring. You know how people say you get out of something what you put into it? It's obvious the love, care, and level of expertise that our children are receiving given the outcome I witnessed. Well done, students! Well done, teachers!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Love Only Takes You So Far

Mary's first grade classroom has a writing center where the children are encouraged to do all kinds of writing: books, lists, letters, notes, poems, stories, and the like. As you can imagine, Mary Rose really likes this center and since the start of the school year, she has brought home all kinds of written material. Every once in a while, she'll bring home a jewel that I know will go into her "Special Box" to keep. Sometimes they are sweet and sometimes they are funny. This one was both.

Just in case you had a hard time reading the print I'll set it out for you here, inventive spelling and all:

"I Love you Mom   you and dad are the best parents ever  thanks for bieng so nice   I will help do loundry or the dishes   but if i do the loundry you'r folding dadies tidy whites"

Yep. The kids loves us. But not enough to fold her dad's tighty whitey underwear.

Hey. You've gotta draw the line somewhere.

* If you are visiting from Facebook, then you will know that I also posted this photo as what I'm grateful for today in my 365 Grateful album. Really, I loved it so much that there was just no way to not share it here too.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dream A Little Dream

I had a dream the other night. It was weird. Not the part that I had a dream. I mean, I'm sure I dream every night, but I don't remember most of my dreams. No, the weird part was the dream itself. I know some people dream very vividly quite often, but I am not one of them. Occasionally I'll wake and remember my dream and while it may have a strange part in it, it's not like I'm dreaming that I'm a chameleon on a rug and that I blend into the rug and nobody can see me, which is a dream my sister-in-law once had. No, it's more like I'm dreaming that I'm running errands and instead of being in my own van I'm in a van that's different but I know that it's my van. What I'm trying to say here is that most of my dreams are rather like my life--average and not very exciting. (I'm not complaining. There's a lot to be said for average and a noted lack of excitement, really.)

But this dream I noted not only because I remembered it the next morning, but also because it was just so darn strange. I need a Joseph-esque dream interpreter to tell me what it means. Would you like to hear about it? Too bad. Here goes:

I walk into the Subway shop down the street from my house. I'm alone and I just want a turkey sandwich. I know exactly what I want on my sandwich because I always get the same thing every time. (See? Average. Not exciting.) I'm going to order a turkey on nine-grain wheat with American cheese, lettuce, onion, green pepper, cucumber, and mustard. I won't ask for chips or a drink. I just want to order my sandwich and get going, because in my dream I know that I have to be somewhere else soon, but I'm not certain about where it is I have to go.

I step up to the counter to order, and I notice that instead of the usual family that are the owner/operators of the shop, two new people are behind the counter. Standing there, ready to take my order is Christopher Moltisanti, and next to him is Paulie Walnuts. (Both in Tony Soprano's crew on The Soprano's.) Christopher asks me for my order. He says it politely, but I can tell he's agitated, as if there's something happening somewhere and he's missing it. I stand there non-plussed, because, well, there's a Mobster asking to take my order at my local Subway. I shake it off and step forward. I am the only customer in the place and suddenly I am very nervous. I don't want to do something to make this guy mad because, hey, I've seen him whack people and I don't want to be next. Part of me wonders if he is in the Witness Protection Program and they've relocated him to Fishers, Indiana of all places. I calm my jitters and order my sandwich exactly the way I want it.

Meanwhile, Paulie Walnuts is standing down the line in front of the condiments. He's leaning on his hands against the counter and he's chewing gum. He's watching me but doesn't say a word. I offer a timid smile.

Christopher gets the bread ready and puts on the turkey and the cheese and passes the sandwich to Paulie. Paulie gives me a long look and then looks down at the sandwich as if he's considering something. I don't know what. Probably if he wants to whack me. Which makes me jittery again. I quietly repeat what I want on my sandwich.

"No," Paulie says. "What you want is a little salami with that. And some provolone. You need some pepperoncini and some olives. And mustard won't work here. You need some vinegar and oil."

I feebly protest that I just want my turkey sandwich.

It does no good. Paulie goes on throwing whatever he wishes onto my sandwich while Christopher looks on with a little triumphant smirk.

Finally, Paulie Walnuts finishes my sandwich and hands it to me. I quickly think that I will pay for the sandwich, leave the store, throw it away, and find another Subway to get my usual turkey sandwich. I just know that I want to leave. Now.

As I take the sandwich Paulie says, "Try it."

"Oh, that's okay," I respond quickly. "I'm sure it's very good, but I have to go."

"Try it!" He says again. This is no suggestion.

I nervously take a nibble. Black olives and pepperoncini are not my favorites.

Paulie and Christopher look at me expectantly. "It's good, right?" Paulie says in his Jersey accent.

And then I wake up.
Seriously, what does this even mean?

I don't know if I liked the new sandwich because I woke up before I could find out. Does it mean I should try something new at Subway, or am I simplifying things? Should I be trying new things in my life? Because, really, I'm comfortable in my average, non-exciting life.

I just don't know.

What I do know, is that next time I go into that Subway, if I see someone from the Soprano's behind the counter I'm turning around and running out the door.

Friday, March 9, 2012

She Blinded Me With Science

Hmmm....how shall I dominate the world?

This seems like a problem best solved with...


Yes! I've got it! The SuperMorphingInvisibleBackpack-inator!!

Oh, the possibilities! And I owe all my evil genius capabilities to Science! Bwahahahahahaha!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

More Stuff--But With Pictures!

I won't be all wordy today. I'll just show you the stuff that's been happening around here.

Hipsters in training.

"Put a bird on it!" (Don't you watch Portlandia?)

She blinded me with science! 

She has "dress like a scientist day" at school on Friday and she needed to practice acting like a scientist. This involved saying things like "hmmm...we should check it out under the microscope" and pushing up her glasses.

I like dead ducks and I cannot lie...

Got that stuck in your head now, don't you? Sir Mixalot's got nothing on me!

Dr.Tilly gave her new duck a squeakerectomy. Now she plays with it and keeps nosing its abdomen in a puzzled manner, as if she's wondering where the squeak went. I'd say given this dog's probable IQ, she's already forgotten that she de-squeaked the duck.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


My high school English teacher would be appalled at that title. But if I remember correctly, titles are supposed to succinctly summarize the story and entice the reader. And while that title summarizes okay, I realize it is lacking in enticement. If I had entitled this post with a summary of what it's really all about, it would have read something like "Random Boring Crap That Has Been Going On Around Here, And Oh Yeah, The Funny Thing My Kid Said." Summarizing, yes. Succinctly? Not so much. Enticing? HAHAHAHA!!!


Remember how I got my Shevel Knievel snow gear for our ski trip? Remember how I was gonna be memorable on the slopes? Well, my friends, I am sorry to disappoint you, but there will be no blog about skiing mishaps, being mistaken for an Olympic athlete, or how I broke my everything trying to ski again. We made the decision a few weeks ago that since most places are having the kind of winter that we are having here--rather a lack of winter--that instead of skiing on conditions that in early April probably wouldn't be so great, given the monetary outlay, we would ski another time. Bummer. I am disappointed because I was looking forward to it. Maggie, on the other hand, is delighted. Skiing is a dumb way to spend Spring Break. Didn't you know that?

On the upside, we converted plane tickets and money otherwise spent on ski stuff into a vacation get away this summer. So instead of Shevel Knievel, you just may get "How I Got Stuck In My Swimsuit: The Sequel." Yay! Maggie is delighted. Because vacations should involve getting premature wrinkles and precancerous moles a tan. I am excited and I keep going back to the website when I need a boost in my day. Yesterday I believe I single-handedly rolled their site counter over to some new numbers.

James had a project due yesterday. It was a book report of sorts. He was required to find a pivotal moment in a book that he's reading and make a model of it. He also had to write a short paper about that moment and why it was important.

My preshus, showing initiative, decided that he wanted to get his model done in plenty of time so that he wouldn't have to worry over it later. He got it done a week ahead of the due date. Yay, James! Then he spent Sunday evening writing his paper. He printed it and left it sitting in the printer tray. I reminded him several times not to leave it there. After my 4th or 5th reminder, he came over, got the paper, and laid it on his model. Good to go.

The next morning, after he had left for school, I realized that he had taken his paper, but not the model sitting directly underneath it. I debated for a few minutes about whether or not I would "save" him before deciding that after trying so hard not to procrastinate that I would grant him mercy and drive the model over to the school for him.

When I got to the school office and explained what had happened, the office staff cracked up. Then I told them that it was kind of typical by relating to them the story of my Jamsieboy needing clothes and instead of loading the entire load of clean laundry from the washer to the dryer, he took out one pair of underwear and dried it, leaving all the rest of the clothes in the washer. Absent-minded professor or just typical junior high boy lack of attention to detail? I'm not sure. But I did make sure that before I left, the ladies new that it was okay to give him a hard time when he came down to the office to pick up his project. My mercy only extends so far.


At the dinner table the other night, we had both strawberries and grapes on the table. We were commenting on the deliciousness of the grapes. Then Sean said, "Mom, don't you think that grapes and strawberries and yogurt would be good together?'

"Yes," I replied.

"Dude, it's called a parfait," said James.

To which Mary, my picky eater responded, "More like barf-ait!"

And then I died. That kid.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

11 Great Things About My "Real" 11th Birthday

Yesterday was Leap Day. How did you celebrate? Did you do something you've never done? Did you use that extra 24 hours to do something fun? Was it your birthday, too?

I spent yesterday with a big old grin on my face. It was a beautiful, sunny day and nearly 70 degrees. I can't remember the last time I was in short sleeves on my birthday. It was awesome! Here are 11 things that helped to make my 44th/11th birthday great:

* A dear friend came by with a sweet card, some delicious cookies, and a great hug.

* An early morning phone call from my parents in which I was serenaded with a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday." This is a tradition that started when my brothers and I left for college. Now my parents do the early morning phone call for their children, their daughters and son-in-law, and grandchildren.

* Spending the day doing things I love, like fixing up furniture I found at GW and browsing in some stores.

*All the wonderful birthday wishes I received from friends and family on Facebook.

*Having my kids get up nicely for school with no griping.

* Birthday cards. Particularly the one for "someone who's 11" from my Supah Jeenyus brother that has 11 fun facts on it. My favorite facts: James K. Polk was the 11th U.S. President,  a rock that weighs 11 pounds on the moon would weigh 66 pounds on Earth. Also loved the fact that two of my birthday cards addressed me as "Birdlegs" (the name my father called me as a baby and which, sadly, no longer applies).

* Complete strangers wishing me happy birthday.

* Secretly leaving Post-It notes with the phrase "You are uniquely beautiful" on people's windshields, on the mirrors in bathrooms and dressing rooms, and on different products in the Ulta store and then watching people find the notes.

* Calls from my brothers to wish me happy birthday. The message from the brother my kids call Uncle Grumpy said this: "...hope you get a few seconds of your own time to really conjure on the fact that you have to be more than halfway through life and that the end of the line is just a black hole of nothingness. Maybe. Or! Maybe it's jellybeans everyday. One can dream...."

* Having dinner out with my beloved at a place that wouldn't dream of serving grilled cheese. And if they did, it would be goat cheese. Or brie. In fact, the fried goat cheese that came with my spring greens salad was amazing and I know for a fact that none of my children would touch it. Perfect place for a birthday dinner.

* Cake. Chocolate cake with chocolate icing, to be exact. Oh, and the Chocolate-Amaretto Flourless Torte that the restaurant gave me last night. Yeah. That was pretty awesome as well.

All in all, a pretty great way to spend my birthday. Gotta live it up because the next one doesn't roll around for another four years!