Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy Birthday M

Happy, happy birthday M! It's hard to believe its been 15 years. This last year has seen a lot of changes. You finished up middle school and moved on to high school - into a very demanding magnet program where you have thrived. Your dad and I are very proud of how well you have handled yourself. There have been a few mis-steps along the way, but overall you have stepped up to the plate, getting your work done (even mostly in a timely manner - and when you have had to stay up too late, you are learning how to cope with tiredness the next day) and getting great grades!

You finally got to be as tall as Dad last year when you turned 14, but you have grown several more inches since then. You are at least 5'10" now, and not showing any signs of being done growing. It's hard to believe that when you were little all the predictors said you would top out at around 5'9". Now predictions are anywhere from 6 feet to 6'1" or even 6'2". This makes you very happy.

I didn't get any pictures of birthday celebrations this year, but we had a lovely dinner out at an Italian restaurant and then back home for the (traditional for several years now) "perfectly chocolate chocolate cake with perfectly chocolate chocolate icing". Quite yummy and we will be enjoying it for several days to come.

I hope your next year will be as good or better than this year!

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Ready to Garden

The weather here has been so nice (read as unseasonably warm - almost 80 degrees at the end of February!) that I have been itching to get into the garden. So far I have managed not to jump the gun too much, but I have gotten some onions, chard, and mixed lettuces planted. They are all even starting to come up. It's about time to put in a second planting as I started the first lettuce and chard about 10 days ago.

We've also done a bit of digging in the garden. I really wish I could go back in time to when they were building my mom's house and convince them not to bury all the trees they cut down - right where we want to garden! I've got a mass of tree trunks and branches at least 2 ft x 2 ft. It's not a solid mass, but I can't tell where one begins and another ends - and its all about 2-3 inches under the soil level! I did manage to dig out a whole bucket full of tree pieces yesterday and today. If we can't come up with some way to dig it out, we either have to try to arrange paths over that area (may be difficult as we may find yet more tree under new areas we are adding to the garden) or decide that that area will be a raised bed and bring in some fresh soil and heap it up there. It's very frustrating as it means that digging up new area is hugely more difficult than it should be.

Meanwhile I'm waiting for the results of the soil sample I dropped off last week, so we know what sorts of amendments the soil needs. And I think it is time to plant potatoes - last year it was way too cold/wet to work the dirt in Feb and we never did plant potatoes. I looked for seed potatoes a couple of weeks ago, but didn't find any. I need to look again.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

Another great Thanksgiving on the books. It was just the 4 of us plus my mom, so the table was not so full as she would have liked, but several extra people were invited, but already had plans.

Cranberry sauce
Sweet potato casserole
Green Bean casserole
Pumpkin Pie
Cran-Apple pie
Apple-Cherry pie

All very tasty and wonderful - and leftovers of all exist! Yum. I think I like eating the leftovers as much as eating it the first time. And pie for breakfast tomorrow. double yum!


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Popcorn Delivery Time

A and I went out and picked up our order of popcorn from the Popcorn Kernel this afternoon. Once we got home, he got into uniform and off we went to deliver it. He got 13 orders delivered today (20% of total). I'm hoping that between church and another round of delivering in the neighborhood tomorrow that he can get over 50% delivered. We may have to take a thermos of cocoa with us tomorrow, though. It was quite chilly today. Not so bad if you are just walking to the car, but pretty chilly for dragging a wagon around for over an hour.

Daylight savings also makes the deliveries more difficult, as I don't really want to be wandering around in the dark trying to deliver popcorn and too many people aren't home until dark once the time changes tonight.


Friday, November 05, 2010


It got cold today. Not just a little cool, but cold, windy, and wet. We even had some sleet, even though the weathermen were saying it was only well north of us. It was chilly in the house this morning, but we were all moving around and didn't feel it so much. Then I had errands to run, then bustling around putting stuff away and making lunch. I didn't really feel it until I went to sit down here at the computer (and instantly got a cat in my lap) and found my mouse hand getting very COLD.

So, once the cat left me, ON went the heat. First time of the season.

I covered up more of the garden than I had initially planned, because several of the peppers and tomatoes still have so much produce on them. I picked another 13 hot peppers today, plus some green tomatoes (the ones that had at least a tiny bit of red/pink on them).

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Jack Frost vs the Garden

We've got a freeze warning for Fri, Sat, and Sun nights currently. I'm not sure it will actually get down to 32 or below any of these nights, but I suppose I must be prepared, for the sake of the garden.

I know the garlic (coming up nicely) and parsley will be just fine. I think we're going to cover the cherry tomato plant, as it still has a couple dozen unripe tomatoes on it. I'll pick any that are even remotely turning red, but then cover and hope for the best. I need to look at the other tomato plants more closely, but I'm leaning towards just picking all the tomatoes and pulling up the plants. Probably the same for the bell pepper and hot pepper plants, though all are still producing well - especially the banana peppers and jalepenos. I picked a good dozen today, off 2 plants. I may just try to cover them, after picking all the good size peppers.

The only other things still in the garden are the basil (almost dead), cilantro (self-sprouting like crazy), and the late potatoes. I know that spring planted potatoes are put in well before the last frost, so can they take a frost?? I've never planted potatoes before, so this is a total experiment...


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

What's for Dinner

It's been a cold, dreary day today. M says that we have skipped fall, but we haven't. If it were sunny, we would be enjoying the low-to-mid 50's of today, but combined with rain, it is just plain yucky.

The house was chilly, so what better than to crank up the oven and cook. Actually soup might be better, but we just finished taco soup and M dislikes soup in any form. So, dinner was:

roast chicken
roasted potatoes
green beans
garlic bread (yeah, so we probably didn't need another starch, but it looked good at the store)
apple pie

The house smells delicious now. I can't wait for my pie!

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Growing and growing

I decided to measure the kids today, and yep, they are both still growing like weeds. M currently measures 69 1/2 inches (5' 9.5") and A is 59 1/4 inches (4' 11.25").

What I find really interesting is that A is the same height that M was on 3/30/08, or 2 years 7 months ago - whereas A is 2 yrs 10 months younger. So A is just slightly ahead of M's pace. This could be A is going to be taller, or A is peaking slightly sooner or just chance. Who knows. I suppose we won't really know until they are both done growing.

But due to all this growing going on, I'm not buying A a hiking backpack anytime soon. I've been told that they will cover about a 9 inch height range, but given that M is a good 10 inches taller than A now, and both are still growing, I think any pack I get now, A would outgrow in the next 3 years. He's borrowed one from the Scoutmaster for the campout this month. It will be a very gently intro to backpacking.

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Monday, November 01, 2010

Garden update

I dug the sweet potatoes today. The nights have been getting cooler lately and it is supposed to rain tomorrow, so it was time. Unfortunately the sweet potatoes didn't seem to do as well this year as last year. Last year we had some gigantic sweets. This year, the biggest ones were about 4.5 oz. (vs almost 2 lbs last year). Our entire harvest this year was only about 4.5 pounds.

We thought about harvesting the sweet potatoes a few weeks ago, but I'm sure they would have been even smaller then. And I just checked - this years harvest is one week later than last year, but last year we had already turned on the heat by then. This year we haven't yet, we've only had one night barely dip into the upper 30's.

I'm not sure why they did so much worse this year. Perhaps because I planted them in-between rows of green beans and they got robbed of sun or water or soil nutrients? I had planted the beans well before the sweet potatoes would be ready to go in, but then my first planting didn't germinate, so I was 2 weeks later. And then the beans just kept on producing, so I didn't pull them out as soon as I had anticipated. I'd been trying for a bit of the square foot gardening/interplanting techniques and making better use of my space, but if that caused my poor yields, I'm not sure its worth it. Alternately it could be that we went on vacation for 2 weeks and the garden didn't get watered as regularly. or just the vagaries of weather. I wish I knew....

The hot peppers and the cherry tomatoes are still plowing on full steam ahead. I picked 8-10 cherry tomatoes today and there must still be dozens on the plant. Last week, one branch of the cherry tomato plant broke off (with a half dozen green to slightly red tomatoes on it), so I brought it home and put it in a vase of water. The reddish ones have fully ripened now, and most of the others are turning red - just one resolutely green tomato.

I'll have to try to add pictures tomorrow...


Friday, October 15, 2010

Waking up A

It happened for the first time this morning. I had to wake up A. Normally he wakes up on his own, generally between 6:15-6:30. This morning, I had to wake him at 7 - still in plenty of time to get ready before the bus at 7:45. It's pretty good to go 1/4 of the school year though.

Speaking of 1/4 of the way through the year, it was progress report time this week. Both kids did well. A managed all A's, without too much difficulty (and the one class that was giving him trouble was mostly with remembering homework issues). M managed A's and B's, with more A's than B's. He's been putting in a lot of work, but not necessarily to the best effect (forgetting some assignments, not keeping up with studying his Spanish, etc), but overall he's doing well. We're proud of both of them!

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Pathfinding in Old Town

A and I took a walk around Old Town today, for work on his pathfinding merit badge. He had a blank map of the area and had to mark all the streets and alleys as well as a bunch of different types of places from churches to sandwich shops to car repair shops and the fire station. It was a truly lovely day for a walk - not too hot and not too cool. And the people at the welcome center were very helpful, providing us with a map, website info and a local history page.

In about an hour A got the small map all filled out and a few questions answered from the police station. He's still got to fill out the county map in a 3 mile radius from the Scout Troop meeting site.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Plumbing Success

A week or so ago, I noticed that everything under the sink in the hall bathroom was wet. Further investigation revealed a slow drip from the cold water supply line - from before the shut-off, it seemed. Humph. I cleared out the cabinet and put a bucket under there - it would catch an inch or two a day. I tried shutting off the cold water line and it still leaked. Grrr. I wasn't sure what the problem was, but guessed it might be in the shut-off valve. The bucket contained the problem for the moment and I figured I would deal with it "later".

Well, last night, I was walking down the hall and heard water running. I thought, oh, A is running his bath now, good. Except A said that no, he wasn't. *cue ominous music*, as I stepped into a puddle on the bathroom floor! I opened up the cabinet to find water spraying everywhere. I turned off the shut-off valve and A and I proceeded to mop up the bathroom floor and cabinet. Then I got to sweep out the garage. And give thanks that the bathroom is over the garage and not a finished part of the basement! D got to escape this fun, having taken M to a school function.

This morning I called the local Ace hardware and determined that I needed to bring in the old supply line (I had a feeling that if I didn't call they would ask some question I couldn't answer). After much contorting, with a headlamp and 2 pairs of pliers (and finally help from my mom (Thanks MOM!)), I got the line off and headed off to Ace. They had exactly what I needed and reinstalling the line was FAR easier than taking it off.

Even better, that original leak I had. GONE! It must have been the very beginning of a leak in the supply line that ran down onto the valve. We now have water in the bathroom again and I can put the stuff back into the cabinet once it finishes drying out.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

First Class Scout

A had a Court of Honor last night at Scouts. They only hold these a couple of times a year, so this was for all the merit badges and rank advancements since May, including summer camp.
A ready for CoH:

A getting his rank advancement, 2nd class and 1st class ranks. This is pretty impressive since the Scouts like to claim you can reach 1st class in a year and A has only been a Boy Scout since February (7 months).
They call a parent up there with the Scout, so that the Scout can pin a parent's pin on as thanks for the parents involvement in the Scout's journey. A managed to pin my pin on with the pin part under my collar - and I didn't discover that until almost the end of the evening.
Happy 1st class Scout!

A also got to participate in an Eagle ceremony that was held immediately after the Court of Honor. He got to light one of the rank candles (in the dark the picture came out extremely blurry). The Scout who made Eagle was a sophomore at M's school, so we got to see a lot of M's teaches there (and his middle school English teacher, who was disappointed not to get to see M - he stayed home to do homework, rather than get free food and sit through a ceremony).
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Monday, September 20, 2010

GA baby quilt

I made a baby quilt for some friends who are expecting their first baby - a girl, as you can probably guess from the colors. And if you look closely, you can see that it has 2 different UGA fabrics, as they are huge GA fans.
Here is the quilt in the natural light out on the deck:
And here Pounce is enjoying it inside:
Happy parents to be, at a baby shower:
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

A with the clarinet

A finally got his clarinet and the first bit of instruction in playing it last week. He seems to be enjoying it so far, though his says they have only learned to play 2 notes.
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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Study Skills

Both kids seem to be in need of some better study skills, though not necessarily the same ones.

A is having issues with remembering:
1) what he has for homework
2) to bring home the necessary books for said homework
3) to take the completed homework back to school.

He has an agenda, but he only really uses it for the classes that require him to (and it only helps with #1). So this afternoon I cleared an even larger area of the dining room table (his preferred study location) of anything extraneous and filled a pencil box with basic supplies. We went over his agenda and I filled in extra assignments. Then we checked the area and the agenda at the end to make sure that all the homework was back in the backpack. I'm sure this will help in the short run and I'm hoping that some of it will stick for the long run.

M is having more issues with time management, trying to multi-task homework, videos, facebook, iPod, etc. And then still be doing homework at 10pm, when he is well past his optimum thinking. He just finished up tonight at 10 and headed off to the shower. He has also had a few issues of forgetting what the homework is or not checking the online sites to see if he has any. He also has an agenda, but I think it gets even less use than A's does!

I know its still reasonably early in the school year, but I also know that things tend to slide rather than improve spontaneously. We'll see. I have a conference scheduled with one of A's teachers next week.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'm trying to come back...

It's been a long time, as my mom reminds me, since I have posted. I feel like I should go to confessional (and I'm not even catholic).

It's been a long, HOT summer. The heat is finally breaking, but oh, my it was hot. Yesterday was the first day in at least 2 months we've been able to use the attic fan. And it was lovely! It's running again right now. I love having all that breeze when I sleep.

The kids have been back in school for a month now. It does and it doesn't feel that long. But progress reports are due next week, at the 1/4 of the semester mark. M is amazed he has already finished 1/4 of the semester and 1/8 of the year. His freshman year! I can't believe I have a middle schooler and a high schooler this year. They are growing up so fast.

Both kids are handling the transition of schools reasonably well. M is buckling down to the MUCH increased level of homework expected - and with minimal, pro-forma type complaints. The grades are still bouncing around a bit, due to increased expectations and with so few grades, one bad one makes much more of an impact currently. I expect things will settle down as the year progresses.

A has different types of homework than last year - not necessarily more, but he feels he has less time to do it as he gets home 2 hours later than last year (and the starting an hour later is nice to him, but doesn't make up for it to him). He has remarked that he wished he was still in elementary. I'm still clueless as to how A is doing in science as his teacher has not posted any grades. I guess I'll wait and see next week...

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Swim Meet

Swim meet tonight and oh my, but it was HOT!!! Sweltering hot in the sun, not helped by the fact that we got a brief bit of rain that made everything seem like a sauna. It was bad until the sun went behind some clouds and then started going down.

Luckily the meet went fairly quickly- over and done by just after 8:30. Our team was much bigger than the opponents, so it was fairly obvious that we would win. I don't think they even announced who won. If its not close, they just announce the winner, if it is reasonably close they will announce the score.

M had a pretty good night. He had a very competitive breaststroke race and he took off over a second and maybe close to 2 seconds off his time. He's down to 45 point something seconds for a 50. Nice! Oh, and took first place in the race. Most of the kids on the team who can beat M in breast either swim high school or year round. The coach suggested that he would do well swimming high school. M is not yet convinced.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Long time no post

It's always hard when I don't post for a bit, because then I wonder how I can catch up. Well, I guess I can't. Maybe at some point I will put up some photos of the past month or so - or maybe not.

Anyway, the house has been quiet this week. D is in Colorado, with some students. He and they seem to be having a good time. They are enjoying MUCH cooler weather than we are. They had snow flurries - meanwhile we're having triple digit heat index days.

A is at Scout camp. I went out there tonight for parent's night and enjoyed pizza and desserts - what a healthy combo! At least I drank plenty of water (thanks to the heat index). A is doing fine and having fun. He doesn't seem overly bothered by the heat. He says the food is good - they cooked themselves spaghetti yesterday and hot dogs today for lunch. He is swimming at least once every day (swimming merit badge plus some free swim).

The Scouts were going to have ice cream after all the parents left, to help console the Scouts at their parents leaving. This is a slightly foreign concept to me - A is having a blast, he won't need consoling. One of the other parents said she had asked her son if he was homesick or crying and he said yes. It hadn't occurred to me before that to ask A, but then I did. A's response, "no, I'm not homesick, but I miss the computer".

A was happy to see me, and the stuff I brought: googles, spray sunscreen and a book. He'll be happy tonight eating ice cream with his friends too. And tomorrow doing his activities.

Meanwhile, back at the home front, M is hanging out in his room on the computer and reading. I'm trying to get him to tackle his summer work little by little, so it doesn't ruin his last week of summer. He misses his friends, but doesn't want to initiate any plans for getting together.

Me, I'm trying to tackle bits and pieces of things around the house and getting ready for our vacation. It sure is quiet.

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Field Trip Frenzy

It must be nearly the end of the year - the field trips are flying right and left. It's not usually this full of field trips, but both kids have an extra trip to go visit their new schools for next year. A to visit the middle (where M is currently) and M to visit the high school (where D teaches).

Even without those new school field trips, M had 2 field trips in the last week, one with just his art class and one for his whole team to a science museum. A has a field trip coming up this week to see the play the middle school is putting on.


Monday, May 03, 2010

Rain, rain everywhere....

except in the house! 2.5 inches and fairly hard at times, but no rain in either the basement or the garage. Maybe I can actually hope this time that we are done with flooding. We did take measures to correct both problems - new siding along the basement and silicone caulking there too. And a rain barrel to divert rain away from the foundation to the garage. Bonus that we have a supply of water for the blueberries for when its not raining.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

31 cent night at BR

Yum! We took the kids up to BR for their 31 cent/scoop night. Conversation in the car:

M: I think I really want an eclair.
me: No, we were going there for the 31 cent ice cream.
M: I didn't know that - it could have been a random act of kindness
me: It's a random act of cheap kindness


Friday, April 16, 2010

The garden is starting slowly

The garden seems to be progressing slower than last year. I know some of that is that it was cold and wet over winter break this year, so we didn't do any ground breaking then. So, once spring break came, we had to do the new ground breaking plus some planting.

So far we have planted:
lettuce - something is coming up, but it doesn't look like lettuce
swiss chard - coming up slowly
green beans - planted 2 types, one is coming up, the other not yet
corn - some is coming up
parsley - nothing yet

Hopefully this weekend we will get some tomatoes and peppers in. Those will be plants, rather than the sees like the others.

Oh, and D planted some amaranth here in the yard - nothing coming up from it yet either.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taxes are finally DONE!

Actually I finished them up yesterday morning, e-filing our Federal return. I had to wait for D's signature last night on the state return, though, because it annoys me WAY too much to pay $19.95 to e-file the state return. Besides, why do I want to pay them just so they can get my money faster???

I was amazed when I went to the post office this morning and found NO line. I was in and out of there in mere minutes, having seen my return postmarked.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Shadow gifts us

Evidently Shadow has realized that it is birthday time around our house. Yesterday he brought M a birthday gift of a snake (small garter snake) and today he brought me a lizard. Such a thoughtful cat. He likes snakes and lizards, so why wouldn't we like them too...


Monday, March 22, 2010

Too many deaths

We've had a run of 3 in deaths in the last 3 days. That is WAY too many. And it is actually 4 deaths in 3 events. First my great aunt passed away (the last of her generation) on Wed, then one of M's classmates (along with her brother) and now a member of our church.

Enough already! And we have dueling memorial services scheduled for Sunday afternoon, luckily only 2, not all 3. We'll be headed to the memorial service for M's friend, taking something for the reception. They are predicting 150 people. I expect that that is wildly underestimating the numbers.

I really hope that things come only in 3's and that we are done with death for a good long while.


Saturday, March 06, 2010

M's First Concert

M went to his first concert last night, They Might Be Giants (TMBG). He had wanted to go to a concert back before Christmas, but since it was on a school night, during finals week, we vetoed it. This time, however, it was a Friday night and a band that D was reasonably interested in. So off they went - and both had a good time.

The opening act was Jonathan Coulton - M had seemingly heard of him and had one of his songs. They bought his CD and M is enjoying some of the other songs that weren't played Friday night. Then there was an long, 45 minute wait before TMBG came out. M knew about 5 of the songs already, D knew more, but not all.

M's verdict seems to be GOOD, but long, late, and loud. It was after 11 by the time the concert was over and well past midnight when they got home.


Friday, March 05, 2010

Our Blackberry Patch is Gone!

I was over at the elementary school today, waiting to pick A up from his field trip, and because the bus was late, I decided to walk around the track. I was astonished to see that they have completely cleared out the blackberry canes! They have also cut down some trees and other brush. Some of the blackberry canes were not terribly productive, but about a third of them produced nice, big, fat, juicy blackberries.

I am really going to miss the blackberries, especially those big, juicy ones - and especially since they were away from traffic and close to home. Now, this spring, I have to be on the lookout for the telltale white flowers that tell me where the blackberries will be in the summer.

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's Happened

I've been expecting it for a while now, but it's finally confirmed - M is taller than I am. And still growing... D is expecting to be outgrown by M's birthday in just less than a month.

Not to be outdone, A is keeping up the pace. I measured him the other day and found that he was almost exactly the same height as M, with less than a month's difference in ages at the time. I had to send A back to change clothes this morning as both his shirt and his pants were noticeably short on him. Even then, the second pair of pants was still a bit short. I guess it's time to go through his drawers again and do the pants sort.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

M's in to Magnet!

M got the official notification today. He got into the Magnet high school for Science and Technology. M is happy, we are happy, all is good. M actually heard unofficially last night, as D had heard from one of the teachers on the selection committee, but today was the official letter.

M and his friends have been tearing up facebook, as various people waited for the mail truck. M says that almost all of his friends who applied have gotten in. I had to remind him, that it is really just almost everyone who has reported, got in (only one person posted that they had not gotten in). I'm sure that he will hear more tomorrow and especially on Monday at school. For now, though, they are all happy to have gotten in. As I told M several years ago, most of his friends applied to Magnet and will likely be there next year. And I'm sure he will make more friends from the kids from other middle schools.

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