Saturday, December 27, 2008

Aaannd CUT! That's a wrap.

I have officially come out the other side of the holiday alive and well. I have been filled with enough joy, love, and sugar to last me 11.5 months. My kids have enough crap to keep them from asking for anything until their birthdays (which are conveniently clustered in the warm months of the year). I have good coffee, good books, good craft supplies, and a husband who is on vacation until the new year. Hopefully, I won't go nuts before he goes back to work. Distance DOES make the heart grow fonder, really.

I had so many little stories I thought about sharing, but my brain is complete mush in this post-frenzy period. Let's just say that H will be coached to NOT quote The Family Guy at the next family gathering. Apparently, she likes to stray from the Mom-approved script. And allowing yourself to be baited into a family (metaphorical) pissing contest is no more fun when you win than it is when you lose. That was a disappointing lesson for me to learn. As was discovering that C seems to have learned hotel behavior from watching VH1's Behind The Music while we're asleep.

I'll probably continue to neglect my blog for the next few days. I put a lot on hold this month, then rushed to get Christmas in order, and now I really need to focus on catching up on everything I brushed aside. My plan is to ring in the new year bright eyed and bushy tailed and without dog hair in the corners of the stairs.

I'm also hoping to start over with my homeschooling blog, and I plan to unveil it with a giveaway on January 1st. I'd really like to make the giveaway about 10lbs of leftover candy, but I doubt there would be many takers. If there are, feel free to let me know. The kids will never notice.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and you're all recuperating nicely.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's all good

Second cup of coffee. Half a dozen electronic toys beeping, blipping and blooping. Trash and candy everywhere. And an overwhelming feeling of peace, love and happiness. Who says it needs to make sense?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Deep breaths

I am a procrastinator and a semi-perfectionist. It is December 22nd. The next 4 days will be the most chaotic of the year, and my house is a wreck. It is time to stop and count to 10 before I turn into Lois Griffin.

"You all think Christmas just happens. You think all this goodwill just falls from the freakin' sky, WELL IT DOESN'T! IT FALLS FROM MY HOLLY JOLLY BUTT! So you can cook your own damn turkey, wrap your own damn presents, and hey, while you're at it YOU CAN ALL RIDE A ONE HORSE OPEN SLEIGH TO HELL!"

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm cheaping out on this post

Lorrie says I need to post something, so I'm stealing her holiday survey. It's been a rough couple of weeks, and I just haven't had anything amusing to say. Hopefully, this will buy me some time.

Both. I don't mind the time it takes to wrap rectangles, but I'm not about to spend hours trying to figure out the corners of a hexagon or attempting to make a pretty arrangement around something shaped like a snowman. If it can't get in a box, it's gonna go in a gift bag.

Real. And we usually cut it down ourselves. There have been a few years, including this one, when we've purchased a pre-cut tree. Trekking through the woods with toddlers and saws just isn't as much fun as my parents made it seem.

I grew up with a star. The husband grew up with an angel. The husband benefits greatly from keeping me happy. We have a star.

Yes. But now I have to share.
We mostly stick to kid-friendly eggnog. My kids were never really big fans. All of a sudden they are, and I'm lucky if I get the last few drops. My hips seem to be somewhat grateful.

My mother-in-law. We are very different people

Nope. I don't even have anywhere to put one.

The Family Man. Okay, maybe that doesn't count as a "real" Christmas movie, but I love it. I love all Christmas movies. John Denver and the Muppets probably top the list, followed closely by Emmit Otter's Jug Band Christmas. And The Grinch. And Charlie Brown. And Little Bill. And It's A Wonderful Life. And White Christmas. And A Christmas Story. And all of the rest.

A nap that lasts until 2009.

Now I need to go decide who gets to punch the bulla down.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Math in pajamas

My kids work best when they're fresh. Not fresh and clean, just fresh out of bed. Even as an otherwise non-morning person, I teach best in the morning, too. We try to get as much school work in before lunch as possible, even if that means working with bad breath and bed head.

We don't even require matching jammies!

We're brushing up on telling time. It's not an easy skill to master when the only analog clock in your home is from Our Name Is Mud.

And you have to work extra hard when there's so much "help" being offered.

I was not a fan of collaborative learning until we started homeschooling. I was so wrapped up in individualized education, I became blind to the benefits of learning from others.

Now there's a very limited amount of one-on-one teaching in our house. We're big on group effort.

And we're very big on time chips!

Our ancient kitchen table has the scars to prove it.

It is now 1:07.

I hope Bambi is dead

I have never been a fan of hunting. Not that I'm an actual fan now, but I've gone from thinking it's a mean, despicable, unnecessary hobby to almost being willing to take up arms in effort to thin the herds of filthy, tick carrying, poop dropping rats with hooves.

But I can't even manage to secure scissors in my home. There's no way I could trust a gun safe with my maniacs around. Plus, hunting season starts on Cyber Monday, and I'm not missing that. And I hate the cold. And neon orange is not my color. And I doubt I could bring myself to touch a dead deer.

So, as I sat here surfing the internet, two loud shots rang out. I don't usually hear the hunters. Hunting not permitted in our development, and they usually go pretty deep into the game lands we border.

We do, however, have a lot of wack jobs around here. The SWAT team was behind my house a few weeks ago. We've had a string of burglaries. There was a suicide a few months ago. The convenience store down the road (conveniently located next to a gun shop) was robbed (again) last week. And I know where the drug dealers live. Some of them, at least.

Welcome to the country! To think, I used to dream about living in NYC.

So, as I sit here contemplating the gun shots I heard a few minutes ago, I hope Bambi is dead. But now I'll be tracking the news sites to be sure. I miss NJ.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I spy

I'm trying to find some time to play with my new camera. As it turns out, my brain has been leaking for the past decade, and I've lost a good deal of my photography knowledge. I have cute kids and automatic settings, so it isn't like I'm at great risk for awful pictures, but I feel like I should at least TRY to remember what's what.

But I hate owner's manuals. So now I'm just playing.

And then there's the shot that illustrates my life perfectly.

My house has some lovely architectural features. I love the beam. I love the trapezoid windows. But they're a pita to clean. Which is why I rarely clean them. So rarely, that I haven't been on a ladder to clean them since... well, since long before this wall sticky was thrown in the air.
It adds character, don't you think?

Ho, ho, hum

I guess Christmas is coming, huh? I haven't exactly been in the holiday spirit.

I was mostly phoning in Turkey Day before I burned the bejeezus out of my fingers, causing me to eat with one hand while the other was submerged in a bowl of cool water. The husband had a lot of food to cut that night. (At least I got out of doing dishes!)

Black Friday didn't exactly excite me this year, especially since shopping carts are difficult to push one-handed.

There's way too much extended family drama going on, and I even have my own little drama for an extra kick in the pants.

Getting out the Christmas decorations and starting all of the baking just seems like so much work. There's too little room and too much clutter. Too much to do and too little time. Too much preparation and too short a celebration.

This morning, I listened to Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song.

Thank you, Racie, for giving me that twinge. I needed it. I think I'll bake a batch of cookies today.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A conversation in my daughters' room

Overheard by the husband-

M: "It smells like farts in here. Did you..."

H: "No! It wasn't me."

M: "Maybe it was Daddy."

H: "Daddy doesn't fart."

M: "Ever?!"

H: "Not as long as I've been alive."

Friday, December 5, 2008

I'm cheap (not easy) and I'm a dork

I just started a blog for my grocery shopping trips. Meanwhile, I have done nothing with my homeschooling blog. Sad, sad priorities!

I'm Cheap, Not Easy

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Spam, spam, spam, spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

The holidays bring out the bargain hunter in me.

Black Friday has been my favoritest holiday for quite a few years. The husband and I used to dump the maniacs with the in-laws on T-Day evening and hit the stores running by 5am. We were an awesome team. We had the playbook memorized.

There was the Divide and Conquer, which could be used in a single store, or a wider zone, multi-store method. There was the Full Court Press, where the offense would grab the merchandise while the defense maneuvered the shopping cart to clear the path. And there was the Out of Bounds play, where someone would wait on line with the cart while the other grabbed a few more items.

And then we'd celebrate our victory over breakfast. Followed by a nap.

Once our home team really out-numbered the in-laws, our tradition had to change. We started tag teaming Black Friday. The husband would hit the midnight sales or get crazy enough to hit the insane lines for the 4am sales, and I would head out on my own once he came home.

Sure, we did most of it for the sport, but we really did snatch up great deals. This wasn't insanity for insanity's sake.

This year, BF really didn't have much to offer us. There was no thirst for victory to quench. And it was kind of sad.

I headed out to Walmart around 8, unable to fully let go of the tradition. I wandered the aisles with a heavy heart, picking up a few odds and ends in attempt to sooth myself. I did get a few good deals on some small gifts. The only steal of the day wound up being my own Christmas wish. I snagged a Cricut Expression (retail $499.99, often on sale for $249-299) for $199. Which has actually made me feel guilty for the past week.

And then I went on to take advantage of the Nikon sale and bought myself a new camera, which has made me feel even more guilty.

I had much more luck with Cyber Monday, something I hadn't really participated in, since I've always blown my budget 3 days earlier. I won't go into detail, but the packages have started to roll in. I averaged about 50% savings, with free shipping on nearly everything. Not too shabby.

So I'm trying to rationalize my splurges. The whims I indulged probably come close to matching the savings I got. And these are things I've been wanting for a very long time, but didn't feel comfortable paying retail. And I definitely didn't pay retail! They're things I know I'll use to their full value. They're things that will make me happy, once I get passed the guilt.

But the spam thing...

You know all of the grocery shopping spam that goes around? Usually something like this:
"The Free Groceries Loophole!
Being a mom of 4 I know how important savings are. I am also a cashier at a major supermarket. When I noticed the same 4 people always coming in and getting overflowing carts of products for practically nothing, I knew I had to find out how they are doing it. One day I decided I would ask them when they are on my line. They all told me they are members at XYZ dot com, which they told me is a savings clearinghouse for just about anything you can imagine. It didn't take me long to visit their site and sign up for the sampler kit. When the package arrived about a week after I signed up, I knew I had something special in front of me. The people I spoke with weren't kidding, groceries I knew were at huge discounts but just about everything else to from perfumes to fine jewelry and tools. I hope this will help others too!"

I hate spam. I hate Spam, and I hate spam. I haven't indulged in Spam since I discovered what Spam was, and I haven't indulged in spam since I discovered what spam was. But I did learn to make my mom's Spam casserole with real ham, and I learned to look for legitimate grocery store savings. The following is NOT spam. I'm pretty sure it's impossible to spam your own blog.

I did try a grocery site about 2 years ago. It was 100% legit, but I had commitment issues. It required things like... remembering to buy the Sunday paper. I was expected to organize my coupons. And one of the big keys was sticking to lists. When I realized they weren't giving me a shopping fairy to take care of all of that, I quit.

But now I'm in full bargain mode. I've gotten a taste of what it feels like to buy myself fun stuff, and I want to squeeze more money out of my budget to be able to do things like that. Or send 4 kids to college. Or keep up with my hair maintenance appointments so I don't ever have to spend 4 hours in a salon again, trying to fix myself. So, once again, I signed up at

Please believe me- this is not spam!

I just went grocery/drug store shopping based on The Grocery Game for the second week. The first week, I saved around 30%. This week, cross my heart, I saved 50% on my bills. On stuff we actually use. Including meats and produce. Including 7 boxes of cereal, which will be gone in less than 2 weeks, I'm sure. Including batteries and curly light bulbs. And I didn't buy any Spam.

I'll admit, I did buy hot dogs. At least they weren't in cans.

Now here's some quasi-spam. The Grocery Game does offer a 4-week trial for $1. If I refer people, I can get free weeks on my membership. Instead of posting my referral info and saying "Do this now!" I'm just going to tell anyone who might want to ask me about it to email me at

I'm not posting this because I'm desperate to save about $10 over a 12-week period. If I were that desperate, I'd return my camera or sell a maniac. I'm posting it because I really did save a good chunk of cash and want to share the info with anyone who's willing to look like a loony tune in order to do the same.

Today, I think I may take a few pictures and maybe even work on a few scrapbook pages. Tonight, I might start opening boxes and wrapping gifts. In the long run, I've probably broken even. How can I let myself feel guilty about that? After all, I have at least 7 years before Yale tuition bills start rolling in!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's here! It's here!

Actually, it's been here for a couple of days. Between turkey clean-up, Black Friday, grocery shopping, cleaning my bedroom like a good girl, hunting down the owner of a stray dog, Cyber Monday and... what else... oh, taking care of 4 maniacs, I got a bit sidetracked.

The TBBG is Kristin's baby; a nice way to spread cheer among our blog friends. Our mailing list includes around a dozen people. I say 'around' b/c I guess it depends on which list you read. I like to read the one that actually HAS MY NAME ON IT! :-P

So far, the box has traveled from Kristin to Tiffany to me via Karen, who apparently has oodles of self-control. I do not have much self-control. Which is why the box itself is now completely mangled. I think I need to start carrying scissors in my car.

My goodies included an adorable scarecrow, Girl Scout cookies, a specially brewed brewski, Lewis Carroll poems, and Life of Pi. All really wonderful treats for me.

The scarecrow is just about ready to be put away until next year's display. I think there are 3 or 4 Thin Mints left. I haven't opened the beer yet, but only b/c I want a nice, quiet, uninterrupted evening to enjoy it to its fullest. Hello- it has a picture of chocolate cake and raspberries on it. It deserves a nice evening.

I'm looking forward to reading Life of Pi. I desperately needed something non-technical to read. And I'm a huge Lewis Carroll fan. I've also been planning to have the kids work on a bit of poetry recitation, and I think we'll try a few from here.

How about

"Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes:
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases."

Now it's my turn to spread the love to Karen. Everything is just about ready to go. I have one item to finish up for her and I need to come up with something amusing to write in the Bloggy journal before shipping back out to NY.

Thank you, Tiffany, for some great picks. Thanks to Kristin for a fun idea, even if you tried to cut me out of it (:-P, again) and a big thanks to Karen for being kind enough to squeeze me back into the circle. I hope you find it was worth it. :-)

2 things-

I do plan to update with links to everyone's blogs and box posts. I just know that if I try to do it right now, I'll never get this posted!

Also, if anyone can explain to me how to move my pictures around, I'd really appreciate it! I'm feeling quite stupid right now.