Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour

We signed up for Earth Hour tonight. The idea is to turn off all lights from 8 to 9 pm.

I wasn't sure how it was going to work since we had A's Blue and Gold Cub Scout banquet tonight from 6-8pm. As it turned out, M wasn't feeling well (temp of at least 101), so he and D stayed home. A and I went to his banquet which ran long - we didn't get home until 9.

We came home to find M feeling better (amazing what a bit of acetaminophen will do), and M and D playing Upwords by candlelight.

It was a little dim, but they had a good time. A and I kibitzed for the last bit of the game. It was a close call as to whether the game would end first or the candles would burn out!

The candles lasted through the whole game, but one of them is down to less than a half inch nub. Guess I need to put out new candles...

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Friday, March 28, 2008

M tries out the skateboard

M got a skateboard (and safety gear) for his birthday.

Pretty cool design:

He's had fun with it, but is quite clearly still early on the learning curve. I took some video which I tried to upload here, but no dice. I tried on the Mac and on the PC and its still not working. Guess I need to go check out the help files sometime... maybe...


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Not the Easter bunny

It was way too small to be the Easter bunny, but Shadow just appeared in the house with a small bunny. We don't even know how he came in since D and I were both in the living room with the cat door, but all of a sudden there was the cat and a squealing bunny. I opened the front door to try to shoo them out, but Shadow decided to take his bunny out the cat door.

Now every time I hear a noise, I keep wondering if he is trying to bring the bunny back in. Please no.

I suppose I should just be glad that I wasn't awakened at 3am by a squealing bunny.


Happy Easter!

Easter egg hunt at home:

M and A with flowers for flowering the cross at church

A with the partially flowered cross:
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

12 years ago

Right about now, 12 years ago M was born.

Happy Birthday M!

We'll be celebrating tonight. In the meantime, I suppose I should go wrap some presents...

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

egg dying

Egg dying seemed so much easier this year since I didn't have to make up the dye. My mom had brought back the dye she and A used at the assisted living center. So all I had to do was lay out newspapers and open the lids on the yogurt containers. Easy as pie!

M and A dying eggs:

D dyes one egg:

M's trogdor egg:

M drew the design with pencil, then tried to trace it with a wax crayon, but I think he didn't get enough wax on there. The pencil shows up nicely though.

We ended up with 15 hard-boiled eggs dyed. After the bunny hid them outside this morning and the kids found them, we each had one for breakfast. That and Uncle D's saffron bread made a quite yummy breakfast. This time I even used some saffron in the bread, but I can't tell that it made much difference.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter egg hunt

We had the annual Easter egg hunt at church today.  I took a video and wanted to test uploading video here.  Not working at the moment, so here are some photos:

A running to get to the eggs.

A's basket is mostly full here as he's reaching into the bush for yet another egg. He ended up with a basket overflowing with eggs.  Nothing chocolate, though, to his and my dismay.

After the egg hunt, A went with my mom to help the ladies at an assisted living home dye eggs. My mom says that it mostly consisted of asking them what color they wanted and then A dying the eggs. He had a good time and so did they.

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M's birthday party

M's party was last night/this morning.  It went quite well.  I had been a bit concerned that there might be some 2 against 1 issues since we only ended up with 2 guests (out of 4 invited - one had a baseball game last night (we told him/his mom that he could come over afterwards, but he didn't) and one went out of town for the weekend).  No such issues though.  Good!

They were so excited about playing on the Wii, though, that they ate dinner in bursts.  When D came home with the pizza, they each ate 1-2 slices and then declared that they were full.  I looked at the 2 full pizzas remaining and thought we were going to have lots left over.  Not to worry - they came back up twice more for another slice each, and before I knew it, I had just over half a pizza left.  That was good, because I only had room in the fridge for one pizza box.

My mom came over 8ish to have cake with us, but having just finished another round of pizza, the kids weren't interested.  We finally ended up eating cake around 9:30 I think.

Finally the cake!

Unfortunately no re-lighting candles this time. They are really getting too short to use again. I need to buy some new ones. And one of M's friends stepped in front of the picture of M blowing out the candles, so instead we got M cutting his cake.  After the first ceremonial cut, he wanted me to do the rest.

Then after cake came presents.  It didn't take too long with only 2 gifts, but he was quite happy with his presents:
an iTunes gift card and cold hard cash (plus a cool holographic birthday card).  His presents from us will come on his actual birthday.

I told M and his friends that the pizza was fair game for midnight snacking as well as popcorn (regular microwave and flavored) and bananas, but that the cake was not - it was being saved for M's actual birthday.  One of his friends was surprised to hear that - "you mean he's having another birthday party?"  No, just family.  

I like separating the family and friends gifts, because when I've been to parties where they don't, it seems like the friends gifts get short shrift compared to parent/grandparent gifts.  It's hard for a kid to be excited about a $15 gift card when you're comparing it to a video game system or motorbike.

It seems I'm 0 for 2 on movies at the kids parties this year.  But its not because I'm picking them out - no, each time the kid has picked out his own movie and then not watched it during their party.  Last night M and his friends watched the Simpsons movie (I don't have a problem letting 3 12 year olds watch it, but I wouldn't let A and his 9 year old friends watch it during his party).  Amazingly enough, I think they even went to sleep once the movie was done around 12:45.  Or at least, we didn't hear anything more in the night.

Tonight we watched M's movie - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  M enjoyed it and says he wants to read the book now.  I think there was a fair amount there that he didn't get, but that's ok.  There's probably some stuff that I got now that I didn't when I read the book many moons ago.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Silly M!

This morning at bus time, I handed M his coat.  

M: No, it will just make my backpack too full this afternoon
me: but its cold out there, almost freezing
M: I'm fine (as he goes out the door)

30 seconds later, M runs back in.  Is he cold?  NO, or only at his ankles

M says something like, I'm still wearing my slippers.  Why did you let me go out in my slippers?
(me, breaking out in laughter)
Ummm, because I didn't notice...  Maybe next time I should get you bright red slippers so we would notice.  

M didn't think it was funny.  He raced to put on socks and shoes - and luckily still managed to catch the bus!

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Critters before breakfast

Yesterday seemed like a normal ordinary day... that is, until I got out of the shower, only to discover bird feathers all over the back hall.  But NO BIRD.  Urrrggh.  The cat is not known for taking his "friends" back outside, so now I have to wonder exactly where this bird is?  Is it decaying under some piece of furniture??  (I checked under the obvious sofa and chair, but haven't done an exhaustive search yet.  I guess I'm waiting for my nose to tell me...)

Then, while I was eating breakfast, I heard the cats and discovered that Shadow had brought in a snake.  Just your ordinary small garden snake, but still not what I want to see during breakfast.  I decided it would have to wait until I finished eating.  But by that time, the snake had disappeared.  Oh no, another missing critter!

Mid-afternoon though, a snake appeared with no cat around, so I think it must be the missing morning snake.  I ushered it outside in the dustpan.

Today the cats have brought in a lizard and another snake.  Joy.  I guess the snakes are coming out of hibernation/hatching/whatever.  We're certainly seeing more of them now...

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A's very long sentence

One part of A's homework each week is to use his spelling words in a sentence.  A was quite happy when he discovered that he didn't have to write a different sentence for each word, but could use several words in one sentence.  He has to use 15 of his 20 words in sentences.  He always manages to get several words per sentence and once he got as many as 9, but this week he hit a home run.  All 15 words in one (LONG) sentence.

In the future a motel will begin behind that hotel near a cabin at the ocean with music owned by a miner and a baker that has crumbs, from the delicious filling pastries that are so tasty.

I think he has a misplaced phrase in there, but WOW.  He puts a lot of effort into getting the maximum number of words per sentence, probably more time and effort than writing more sentences (but with less actual writing, which is what he seems to care about).  A's teacher wishes he would write such interesting sentences in his essays. 

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Sunday, March 16, 2008


Saturday we had storm warnings all day.  If I had a nickel for every time I got up to listen to a weather alert from the weather alert radio, I would be rich - or at least I could have a nice lunch out.  It seems that there were several fast moving storms and each time one would threaten a new county, we would get another alert (even if said county was an hour north of us and the storm was moving northeast).  It seemed to work out to a new alert about every 5 minutes, for much of the day.

Finally we got tired of getting up to listen to the alerts (actually M got tired of getting up, I had given up and gone down to the basement for a while), and turned the radio off.  We'd been getting alerts all along but nothing more than clouds and an occasional raindrop.  Well... about an hour later, we got our storm, complete with hail.  

The hail was lumpy and bumpy and only lasted for a few minutes.  Then about 15 minutes later, we got round 2 - lots more hail and lots of rain too.  And pretty smooth round hail:

15 minutes of hail and 3/4 inch of rain later, here's what our deck looked like:

and the front yard

Luckily we didn't get any tornado action here, but we did get bits and pieces of limbs and such down.  I'm really glad we got those dead pine trees taken down in the fall.  Our front yard smelled really piney - "like a Christmas tree" according to the kids.

Almost as soon as the hail passed, the weather started to clear up.  The clouds were clearing and we saw blue sky (at least in patches).  However, the internet was still out all yesterday evening....  Today it was back and we had a beautiful spring-like day.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Home again and back off

The busy life of a pre-teen.  I picked M up at school after his Space Camp trip.  I heard lots about it - fun stuff, riding simulators and such, staying up late.  I brought him home to drop off stuff and see the rest of the family, then he packed up the Wii and D took him down to church for the middle school lock-in.  Well, only the evening part of it.  After 2 late nights in a row, we decided he could stay up late, but not lock-in at the church all night.  The rest of the kids there (all girls tonight!) have probably not been up late the last few nights and will probably be up giggling most of the night.  I'm off to pick him up again now...

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Our non-M friendly dinner

We had decided that tonight would be a good night to go out to eat, since we wouldn't be bound by constraints of where M would find food he likes.  But then we had a hard time trying to figure out where we did want to go.  I really rather felt like Chinese food, but not a buffet.  But I've never managed to get a recommendation for any Chinese places around here that people like.  It's always something like "well, there's X place, but ..." the food was cold, the service terrible, etc. And we don't get much of a chance to try out Chinese places as they don't serve anything M will eat (except rice - and he doesn't even like white rice anymore, only brown rice).

We finally settled on Jamaican, a little place that we took D's brother and wife to last summer.  D was happy to find that they had roti this time.  It was tasty and reminded me a bit of the Ethiopian meal we had over winter break, although the breads are really not at all similar.

My mom and A came with us.  A ordered curried shrimp.  Unfortunately it was spicy hot, even though the waiter told us only the jerk chicken was hot.  Neither the curried goat nor the curried chicken was particularly spicy, so we're not sure what is up.  Anyway, A ended up sharing out most of his shrimp and trying some of the rest of our meals (and he had too much food anyway since his order was the same size as mine - no kid meals available).

A and I went over to the drink case to find something interesting to drink.  He was aiming for the Snapple, but I convinced him to try one of the more interesting drinks.  He ended up with a pineapple/ginger drink.  It was really good, the kick of the ginger really moderated the sweetness of the pineapple.  D had a sorrel/ginger drink - it was ok, but not nearly as good as A's drink.  I ended up sticking with the traditional gingerbeer, good and spicy!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Childfree Night

Amazing - no kids for the night!  

M is off at Space Camp with about 40 other 6th graders from his school.  They left after lunch today and will return Friday evening, exhausted I'm sure.  And just in time for the lock-in at church...  We've pretty much decided he's not spending the night there, but if he's in not too tired, he can go all evening (the only other boy that usually shows up for the middle school church group isn't spending the night either).

A is off with my mom tonight.  She mentioned that perhaps he could sleep over sometime soon and he said "how 'bout tonight?"  So, he's off there.

And what are we doing with these lovely kid-free hours?  Each on a computer, par for the course if the kids were in bed.  But we have plans to go out to dinner tomorrow - somewhere non-M friendly.  Because D still has to go to work Friday, we probably won't go to any really interesting places (no place really interesting exists in this town), but there are places that are tasty and don't serve traditional kid fare.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Daylight Savings

Daylight savings time always throws me in the Spring, but this year it seems worse than usual as its just too early.  

Dinner was rather late tonight because it was still so bright outside at 6 that I hadn't even thought of fixing anything yet.  And that led to - kids still playing on the Wii at 8:15, even though 8 is supposed to be off the electronics time.

I'll bet we're going to be back to bus time in the dark for A again tomorrow - just when it was finally actually light for his bus.

We'd meant to go to bed a bit earlier last night to get a jump on daylight savings, but that didn't happen...  So I REALLY should make more of an effort tonight.  Wish me luck.


Super Smash Bros Brawl

The kid's newest diversion:

It was released today and M has been bugging us all weekend about wanting to get it. Finally after checking that Target had it and getting all homework done, (and checking to see whether the Teen rating was one we should be worried about (answer: it doesn't seem to be a problem)), I took the kids to go and buy the game. I was impressed that A voluntarily offered to pay for half the game. I realize that it was perhaps self-interest, in that if A pays for half, then he can rightly argue that he gets equal playing time. But I was still impressed.

M wanted me to live-blog the action in the game, but I'm not going to go that far...

Game looks cool. It has the possibility of playing tournament style with up to 16 or 32 players (depending on something..). Initially they had problems getting the second Wiimote to activate. I found some instructions online that seemed to do the trick.

M and A are having great fun with the game.  They insisted that D and I should try it.  We're both lousy at it.  D managed to kill A once, then A promptly killed him 5 times in a row.  The game is set to 5 kills.  When I played M, I think maybe he died once.  While I died 5 times, at least 2 of those when I managed to let my character get scrolled off the screen.  Oops.  

M wants me to play again.  I told him only if he can give me a handicap.

Later:  M says he set up a handicap, but I think it will only work once I've lost some and am using the same character.  Not sure.  Anyhoo - they wanted me to play again.  

1st game: I played M and lost - Badly.  Not so much that he beat me as that I kept killing myself by falling off the platform.

2nd game: I played A.  Amazing.  I won.  It was a very close game though.  I think he died 5 times to my 4 times.  I also didn't kill myself at all.  Maybe I'm learning...


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Snow in March?!

Yes, the weather has been really crazy here lately. Yesterday it was in the 60's, this morning it snowed. Of course, because it was in the 60's yesterday, absolutely nothing stuck. But still - it snowed in March. Amazing. And that makes, I think, 3 times it has snowed this year. After no snow at all for about the last 3 years. While I don't really want to live somewhere with a lot of snow, I do enjoy an occasional snow day.

Years ago, I might have said I wouldn't mind living somewhere snowy. Snow was fun and exciting. But then, one time when D and I were visiting his family, it snowed. Oh boy, we had fun. Walks in the snow, snowball fights, maybe even a sled ride. And we shoveled the driveway - not so much fun, but manageable. Until the day that it snowed off and on all day. We shoveled the driveway in the morning, before guests arrived. We shoveled again in the afternoon. And again in the evening. Thoughts of getting up at 0:dark 30 and shoveling snow in the cold dark wintry morning before work quickly killed the fun aspects of living in snow country.

The rest of today - snow flurries for an hour or two. Then it was on to just cold and windy. Decidedly wintery feeling, not like the glimpses of spring we'd been having. It's supposed to freeze tonight. Correction - its already freezing now and is supposed to get down to something like 26 tonight. Right on schedule to freeze the buds on lots of flowering trees. One of our Japanese magnolias is blooming at the top and not quite budding at the bottom of the tree (vast differential in amounts of sunlight received). The top is toast, and probably some of the middle top of the tree, but hopefully the lower part of the tree will bloom successfully in a few weeks.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Top is Done!

I finally got the whole quilt top for my challenge quilt pieced.

The green border was kind of a pain because it is very directional. I had to cut the sides one way and then cut the top and bottom the other. I was going to make the border a little bit wider, but I didn't have enough fabric without having to piece it.

Now its time to lay it out with the backing and batting and get it all pinned together. Then its on to quilting...

I can't decide what color of binding I will eventually use.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Vision Issues

I went back to the eye doctor (3rd time in the last 2 months) and got checked out again. Back story is that I went in to get a new contact prescription the beginning of this year. Got checked, yep, my prescription had changed (and guess what - I was wearing the contacts in the wrong eyes! Wonder how long I did that??)

Then a week later I got new contacts. Joy and wonderfulness abounded - I could see things clearly, across the room. Though it was not as stark a change as when I got my 2nd pair of glasses ever - 6th grade - and walked out of the eye drs and said, amazed, "there are leaves on that tree!" (across the street). I had forgotten that I should be able to see individual leaves at a distance of, oh 40 feet or so.

Then a couple of weeks pass and I notice that maybe my vision is not quite as sharp as it had been. That little message light on the answering machine, which I had been so delighted to be able to distinguish blinking from not-blinking on initially, was no longer so clear. I thought maybe I had gotten lotion on my lenses. So I cleaned them and checked again. And did a REALLY thorough job of cleaning them. But, still, things were a bit vague.

Finally I called the eye doctors office and tried to explain. They had me come in again, 2 weeks ago. When they found that, yes, indeed, my vision was not the same. Hmmm. They had no real explanation other than that the 2 appointments were at different times of the day. But, the thing is, I'd like to be able to see well ALL the times of the day! They sent me home with a return appointment in 2 weeks. That would be today.

So, I went back again today and it was determined that my vision was basically the same as 2 weeks ago. Still no real clue as to why it changed - more noticeably than it has changed in the past 20+ years. But, I have new contacts ordered and they should be here within a week. I can't wait!