Sunday, September 27, 2009

Photos of the Week (Homecoming Version)

It was Homecoming week!

Here's The Boy's football team. 7th grade football isn't quite the same level of action as older players, but it's fun to watch nonetheless. The Boy's team beat their opponents in both the A and B games, and The Boy got quite a bit of playing time, so he was on cloud nine!
*photo of The Boy's team out on the field during a play:
junior high football

There were themed days for Homecoming. Monday was class color day. Hollywood couldn't wear her class color because she is football manager and had to wear her black jersey, so she decided to show her class pride by wearing red in her hair and makeup. She looks like a vampire:*photo of Hollywood with red eye makeup all the way around her eyes and red streaks in her hair:
Homecoming class color

Wednesday was mismatched day, where the kids got dressed up in goofy outfits:
*photo of the kids wearing mismatched clothes:
mismatched day

Friday night was the varsity game, and The Boy took off before I could get any photos of him. Hollywood was busy with her football manager duties, but The Husband and I had great seats by the endzone. We had blankets laid out for the kids, and so Bumblebee's posse came over to hang out with her. This was a great spot to watch the game, until they started practicing field goals at halftime.
*photo of the kids playing with the football game in the background:
Kids at the game

Saturday was all about Hollywood since it was time for the dance:
First, we got together at a friend of Hollywood's to do hair and makeup.
*photo of me curing Hollywood's hair:
homecoming09 015

Then we took pictures of everyone. Notice how the girls dress up in these amazing, glamorous dresses, adn the boys wear jeans and shorts? When I was in high school they at least wore ties!
*photo of the large group of kids who went together:
homecoming 2009 crew

Here's Hollywood with her date (they're just friends, or so she claims):

Homecoming 2009

And here's my favorite photo of her:
*black and white photo of Hollywood except for her dress (which is red):
lady in red

After the dance, Hollywood planned to have 'a few' kids over for an after party. "A few" turned into about 50 kids. It was chaos, but they were well behaved, actually! We had a bonfire, so some of them went outside to hang out by the fire, while the rest watched football and played Rock Band in the family room. I didn't get many pictures of them because each time I did, they all protested, but here's one bonfire shot that I did manage to sneak in:
*photo of kids around the fire in the back yard:
Homecoming bonfire

Today we're going to clean up after the party and do some laundry/resting. What a week!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This? Would Not Be A Good Way to Die

The other day, I was driving home from work on the Interstate, going about 75 miles per hour, when I almost died. My life flashed before me and I let out a bloodcurdling scream.

Because of this guy:
*photo of a spider on my dashboard, at a little above eye level:
spider on dashboard

That nasty effer was on the inside of my dashboard. I freaked out and scrambled for something to kill it with. As I was digging through my purse for a napkin, I fumbled across my phone, so of course I took a picture of the creature that was about to cause my death. Maybe the insurance company would find my phone among the crash rubble, see the picture, and realize that I drove off the road because of a scary spider who was crawling across the glass about six inches away from my head!!!

I never found a napkin, so I took my entry badge for work and flicked it off the dashboard onto the floor by the passenger seat. I didn't want that creepy thing dropping down onto my lap. That would have ended badly - like with me in the ditch, or worse... in front of a semi.

Spiders in cars are dangerous! And why did he choose my car anyway? It's not like there's spider food in there. There may or may not be a tootsie pop stuck to the carpet in the back seat. And it's possible that some extra goldfish crackers are hanging out on the floor. Perhaps even a grease stained McDonald's bag or two have taken up residence in my fancy, meticulously clean car. But no spider food. No flies, moths, or whatever else spiders munch on.

Of course, flinging it to the other side of the car didn't kill it, so I was completely freaked out the rest of the drive home. I was sure that the little monster was going to be stealthy and crawl around the back side of my seat to catch me by surprise. The way someone will come up to you from your left and tap your right shoulder so you look that direction and nobody's really there? Spiders are sneaky like that too.

I'm not kidding, I was sweating by the time I got home. Then I spent 20 minutes looking for the little bastard in my car. I finally found him and squashed him unceremoniously. I hope 'he' wasn't there long enough to lay a whole slew of eggs.

Shudder.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mr. Achoo McSneezy

The Husband is an odd bird. He loves to sneeze. I understand the basic bodily enjoyment of a good sneeze, but he takes it to another level. He loves the satisfaction of a good sneeze almost as much as, well… I won’t go there, but trust me. It's blissful for him.

When Hollywood was a few minutes old, The Husband was holding her in his arms. We could not stop staring at this beautiful little human. All of a sudden, she scrunched up her perfect little face and inhaled suddenly. I panicked. “What’s wrong with her? Is she in pain?” I asked.

Then she squeaked out an adorable little newborn sneeze. There was a look of almost orgasmic relief on her face. The Husband smiled and told her “Congratulations!”

He loved that she was a sneezy baby, because, as I mentioned, he loves to sneeze. And the weirdest things set him off. He almost always sneezes after a good meal. In fact, if we’re in a restaurant and the bill hasn’t been delivered soon enough, he might have to go outside to have his sneezing fit. And he never sneezes only once. It’s usually a three-sneeze sequence. But often times it’s more like six or seven.

He’s a freak, I tell you.

Perhaps the most unusual (and annoying) sneezy habit is his middle of the night sneezes.

Did I mention that he’s a loud sneezer? No tiny little squeaky sneezes like Hollywood’s first ones here. Nope, TH sneezes loud enough to shake the chandelier in the dining room. No joke! So you can imagine how it is to be woken up from a deep sleep by the loud sound of one of his sneezes. He’s not an Ah-Choo sneezer either. It’s more like AH-CHHHHHAAAHHHHH….

Last night I was in that warm and snuggly place you get as you drift off to sleep, when I was jolted awake by another of his sneezes.

“GAH!” I growled, seriously irritated. “You realize that normal people don’t sneeze in the middle of the night, don’t you?”

Without missing a beat, he said, “Those people aren’t allergic to their wives.”

Nice. A sneezer and a comedian. I’m so lucky!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another Memorable Bumblebee Conversation

We were sitting in church yesterday. You know when you're supposed to be quiet and contemplative? Bumblebee had the contemplative part down, but the quiet part? Not so much.

She turned to me and whispered, "Mom? I don't think my golden birthday is going to be any fun at all."

Do you know what a golden birthday is? It's when you turn the number in years of the date of your birthday. My birthday is on February 26th, so my 26th birthday was my golden birthday. Bumblebee's birthday is July 30th.

I shushed my chatterbox and told her not to talk in church.

She persisted. "Really. It won't be a fun golden birthday. Because I'll be thirty!"

"Oh, that's not true. You can have lots of fun when you're thirty. Trust me."

She didn't believe me for one second. "No. I won't have any fun. I'll be old. Like a grandma."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Photos of the Week

These photos are from the past two weeks, actually, since I slacked off last weekend and didn't put a post up. If you're wondering why I slacked off, it's because I did some serious tailgating with my brothers and sis-in-law last weekend. Here's proof:
*photo of me and Dani at the Iowa/ISU game:
Dani and Me

I took some great photos while camping the weekend before last, so here are some of my favorites. This bird was giving me the stink eye the whole time I sat by the lake. He was creeping me out!
*photo of a large pelican type bird standing in shallow water:
Creepy Bird

This little guy decided that he wanted my apple. I decided to let him have it.
*closeup of an apple with a bumblebee crawling on it.
Bee on My Apple

My brother took this awesome picture of Bumblebee. I love the colors and shadowing!
*photo of Bumblebee with the shadow of Brother Z in the background:
Bumblebee Z Shadow

This is a picture of The Boy hanging out underneath a blanket that we'd draped over the picnic table:

The Boy Under a Blanket

Hollywood found this little guy and wanted him to pose for a picture:
*photo of a toad being held between Hollywood's thumb and forefinger:
springbrook toad

This was a sanitation lagoon. I'm not exactly sure what a 'sanitation lagoon' is, but I think it means you shouldn't take a dip in the water. Sure is pretty, though:
*photo of a lagoon covered in green algae with a fallen tree in the center of the water:
springbrook lagoon

I love taking pictures of fungi:
*photo of mushrooms growing out of the side of a tree:
springbrook fungi

Well, those are my favorites from the last few weeks. I'll have more with the kids in them next time, promise.

Friday, September 18, 2009

You Know What's Great?

Girls Night In.

Hanging out on my bed with some nail polish, lavender lotion, scented candles, and Bambi playing on the TV:

*closeup photo of me painting Bumblebee's fingernails.

fingernails

*photo of Bumblebee's freshly painted toenails:
toenails

*photo of my feet and Bumblebee's feet, crossed at the ankles on my bed:
feet

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'll Take a Housekeeper and a Triple Espresso Please

I am going insane. For real, I’m riding the crazy train and there are no scheduled stops until 2012.

Back to school has been a series of sucker punches: we got slammed in the pocketbook with all of the fees, supplies, clothes, and for the love of GOD, the shoes. Why do kids always need shoes?!! And then there’s the crazy scheduling. Football game here, practice there, boy scouts, church group, play practice, etc. The Boy requires a significant amount of hand holding to make sure he gets his homework done, and packs his lunch, and brings his french horn to school, and doesn’t forget his football jersey. Et cetera and to infinity and beyond. Bumblebee’s been begging me to sign her up for her own activities. She doesn’t really care which - dance, soccer, gymnastics… She deserves her own activities too, poor thing’s been trucked around to thousands of sporting events and school activities for the older kids. She’s due an activity of her own. I haven’t done it yet, because have I mentioned that I only get 24 hours each day? But I will have to soon.

Sigh.

And, did I mention that work is like a circus on fire right now and I can hardly stay on top of my tasks? I’m putting in extra time at night and yet I’m still in the office at 6:30 a.m. The end to this chaos at work is nowhere in sight because I guess there’s an economic crisis going on still. Giant Ass Bank is coping with said crisis by making the remaining employees who weren’t sacrificed to the Gods of the Recession do the work of three full time workers. And we are happy to do it because we have jobs, but still… Did I mention the part about only having 24 hours in each day?

Sigh.

I think my problem is that after I get all of this working, cooking, driving, cleaning (wait- I haven’t done any cleaning in forever… scratch that one) homework helping and parenting done for the day, I try to take some time for myself. I sneak in a walk with the neighbor or a run on the treadmill or some other kind of exercise. And after that, I just want to chill and relax my aching muscles. So I watch TV. Until 11 pm. Sometimes later.

And then I sleep, but my alarm wakes me up at 5.

And then it starts all over again. I need to cut out the TV watching. I know I do, it’s killing me, making me drag by early afternoon. And then I pump my veins full of caffeine which works for a while, but not forever… Really, the TV watching has to go. But there are so many good shows on right now!

Sigh.

So I’m tired and cranky and I am sleepy all the time and my house is messier than I can even begin to describe and it’s making me crazy and…

I need some chill time.

Sigh.

Ok. I’m done with my tirade. I will try to quit stressing out. Here is my goal for the next week. I will get in bed no later than 9:30 p.m. so that I can be asleep by 10. That will give me 7 hours of sleep a night, which is still less than what I need, but better than I’ve been doing. If there’s a great show on that night, I will not stay up to watch it. That’s why I have TiVo. Maybe with some extra sleep I won’t write crap like this on my blog too. Who knows.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thirteen Years

Isn't it funny how 13 years can be both a long time and the blink of an eye?

Happy Anniversary to The Husband and me. We've still got it going on!
*photo collage of pictures of the two of us over the years:
Anniversary

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Adventures in Camping

We went camping over Labor Day weekend. Had a nice time, but I always forget how much work camping actually is.

The Boy had football practice Friday afternoon, so we didn't get to leave until much later than we wanted to. We got to the campground pretty late. I snapped this photo while The Husband and Brother Z put up the tent in the dark.*black rectangle image with cartoon speech bubbles saying that whoever said camping was relaxing is on crack:
putting up a tent at night

The first night was really low key. After the swearing and the toe stubbing and the this pole goes here and that stake goes there discussions, we (and by 'we', I mean 'the men') finally got the tent up. We relaxed around the fire and went to sleep.

On the super hard ground. Because we'd forgotten the air pump nozzle that we needed to fill up the air mattress.

We also forgot the fishing poles.

And the canoe paddles.

And pajamas.

And Bumblebee. (ha. Just kidding.) It was annoying that we forgot so many things, though.

I woke up early and had to get a fire started before I could make my coffee the old fashioned way:
*photo of a camping percolator coffee jug:
coffee over the fire

It takes a LONG time for coffee to get ready that way. Once I had my coffee made, I began to make breakfast. As you can see here, the entire crew was hovering around me while I made the bacon and eggs over the fire. Step back, people! (I'm not even going to comment on The Husband's 'do rag. Well, yeah, I guess I am. My two cents: the 'do' in 'do rag' stands for DORK.)
*photo of me cooking over the fire with everyone staring at the food:
Campfire cooking

After breakfast, Hollywood went with the men on the 3 hour round trip home to get the things we'd forgotten. In the meantime, The Boy and his friend Michael went to the beach and goofed around while Bumblebee played in the pit bathrooms. What? I don't see a problem with that... it's free entertainment!
*Photo of bumblebee opening the door to a camping latrine bathroom:
Women's Room

The Boy did some bike riding around the campground. If you're not a camper and you decide to give it a try sometime, bring your bikes. They are perfect for going all around the campgrounds. To the camp store, the showers, the bathrooms, the beach, the playground, etc. Much quicker than walking.
*photo of The Boy on his bike:
Biking at the Campground

The men got back from getting our forgotten things and the rest of the weekend was spent doing campy things like telling stories and talking and eating and posing with strange hand gestures to the camera:
*photo of TH with bull horn hand gestures:
The Husband Doing I'm Not Sure What

And canoeing on the lake...
*photo of TH and Bumblebee in the canoe on the lake:
Canoeing with Daddy

And singing campfire songs. Ok, we didn't really sing Kumbaya or anything, but Hollywood did play the guitar for us all:
*photo of Hollywood playing the guitar in front of the camp fire:
Hollywood Campfire Guitar

The boys had some chill time by playing the Nintendo DS under a fort we'd made from a blanket draped over the picnic table. The Boy's friend Michael had a really bad sunburn earlier in the year, so I didn't want him to be out in the sun much, and our campsite wasn't very shady. Plus, the DS screens are hard to read when it's sunny...
*photo of The Boy and Michael under the picnic table:
Under the picnic table

I goofed around with the camera in the campsite bathroom because Bumblebee was taking forever in there. (That kid loves to take her sweet time dawdling in gross bathrooms. It's how she rolls.) A weekend without fixing my hair or applying makeup isn't the most glamorous life, but it's real. And comfy.
*photo of me in the mirror:
photo mirror

Brother Z decided to try to release the spillway waters:
*photo of Z pretending to turn the spillway release valve:
Z Water Release

It wasn't all laziness and goofing off, though. We did some serious hiking too.*photo of Hollywood with Bumblebee perched on her shoulders among the tall prairie grass on our hike:
girls springbrook trail

*photo of Brother Z, Hollywood, and Bumblebee on steep trail steps:
springbrook trail z b v

All in all, it was a great trip. We were pretty exhausted by the time we got home. This is how we spent all day Monday when we got back:
*black box image with speech bubbles that say "zzzzzzzz"
zzzz..........

And then I spent the rest of my life doing laundry. The End.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Have the Agility of a Dancer. A Really Drunk and Clumsy Dancer.

I'm wearing loud shoes today. Click clack, click clack, click clack. I sit by a bunch of boys here at Giant Ass Bank, and my noisy shoes usually annoy them. Annoying them doesn't bug me. They annoy me too, we have a symbiotic relationship that way.

I do wish I'd have listened to them and worn quiet shoes today, however.

Because when my click clack, click clack, click clack walking rhythm is interrupted by a thud-thunk-twhack sound when I fall down the stairs, people come rushing to investigate.

Oy and ow.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Photos of the Week

Comfort in a cup. I love Tazo's Refresh tea. My favorite is drinking it in my sun room after I get home from work:
*photo of a closeup of a tea cup:
tea mug

Bumblebee and I went on a hike last weekend (we've been doing that a lot lately!) She found this little guy along the way:
*closeup of Bumblebee's hands with a toad in them:
toad in hands

Why do kids always want to play in public restrooms? This one is from the park where we took our hike:
*black and white photo of Bumblebee playing with an electric hand dryer:
bw hand dryer

Our dishwasher decided to stop working a few weeks ago. The fancy control panel has several buttons on it. They all work except for the 'start' button. The dishwasher had a one year manufacturer's warranty. Guess how long ago I bought it? 54 weeks ago. The damn thing broke 2 weeks after the warranty expired. I'm waiting until my finances recover from the 'back to school' hit to have the repairman out. The kids aren't amused that they have to do the dishes the 'old fashioned' way:
*photo of The Boy doing the dishes by hand:
dishes

Here's the last picture for this week. I love that you can see the bugs crawling around on this cool flower:
*photo of green bugs crawling in a lavender colored flower:
flower & green bugs big creek

Friday, September 4, 2009

R.I.P. Summer 2009

How did it get to be Labor Day weekend already?

This summer flew right past us. It didn't give a wave or backward glance. Just WHOOSH! and it was gone.

How rude!
*photo collage of 2009 Summer pictures:

RIP Summer 2009
(Click to enlarge)

We had such a great summer. Our vacation was lovely, we've had a couple of weekend trips to see family, and there have been a lot of fun, laid back gatherings. The kids enjoyed themselves, while keeping busy with their summer sports activities, and Bumblebee had fun at the babysitter's playing in the sprinkler with her friends.

But now. Labor Day? Seriously?

This really bites.

I love early autumn. The weather? Perfect. Changing of the leaves? Beautiful. The start of football season? Bring. It. On. But the crazy jam-packed calendar? The shorter days? The body numbing, shiver inducing, God-forsaken cold as it turns into late autumn? Nuh-uh. Me no likey.

Because BAM - then it's winter. And in my mind, that cloud that we call winter has a microscopic silver lining. Almost nonexistent, really. Good things about winter? Fashion boots, warm comfort food, and snuggly blankets. That's it. Three whopping items in the "pros" column. The "cons" column is longer than my credit card statement. Trust me, that's long.

Summer is effectively over. To send it off to the Southern Hemisphere (those lucky bastards!) with one last hurrah, our family is going camping this weekend. It should be fun. We're tossing the bikes in the back of the truck. We'll be packing up the tent and the fishing gear, and maybe the canoe, and heading to a state park about an hour and a half East of home. My 'baby' brother (who isn't a baby- he's the one with the chain saw a few posts down) is coming along too. I'm looking forward to it. I might even put a worm on my own hook. But if I catch something, I won't be touching the fish to get it off my line. That gives me the willies like you wouldn't believe.

Have a safe holiday weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Grandmother Love

My aunt and uncle started co-writing this wonderful blog, and one of my aunt’s recent posts is about her grandmother. She mentions a project called Grandmother Love, which I think is a really great idea. The entry deadline was yesterday, so I won’t be submitting my entry, but I do want to write about one of my grandmas anyway, and this is what I’d submit to the project if I had learned about it soon enough to meet the deadline.

*****
*photo of Grandma Viv as a young child:
Grandma Viv* is my dad’s mom. She is warm, funny, intelligent, well read, and thoughtful. I have nothing but good memories about childhood visits to her home. In Grandpa and Grandma’s house there were two bathrooms next to each other in the hallway. One for Grandpa and one for Grandma. We always called them the girls' and boys' bathrooms. Grandpa’s bathroom was utilitarian. A small mirror hung above the sink, and the lighting in the room was bright and harsh. The washer and dryer were across from the shower and toilet and one of those tall old-fashioned scales sat against the wall adjacent to the sink. There were no unnecessary decorations in the room. It was sparse, clean and smelled like shaving cream.

Whenever we visited, I would assume that familiar bossy oldest child position, and with hand on hip and pointed finger, make sure that my five brothers used only Grandpa’s bathroom. After all, they were stinky boys who had no business in the girl’s bathroom.

Grandma’s bathroom was very different from Grandpa’s. It was lovely. After all these years, I can’t help but sigh contentedly when I think about it. It was pretty, with soft, delicate lighting, and a definite feminine touch. One of the walls was completely filled with cabinets covered by a smooth counter top. Above the entire thing was a giant mirror framed by soft lights. If I stood on a step stool, I could see all of myself in that mirror. I came from a home that had no full length mirrors until I bought one with my part time job money at the age of 16, so this was an amazing discovery for me.

Above the toilet was a shelf with pretty bottles of perfume. The counter tops displayed more crystal bottles of perfume and powders. They were beautiful:
*photo of perfume bottles:
perfume bottles

I touched them with a reverence and seriousness fit for valuable ancient artifacts. Chanel No. 5, Chantilly, Poison, White Shoulders… They sat arranged on the counter; reflected light from their glass bottles would bounce in the mirrors. And the powders… Oh how I loved those powders! Once, Grandma gave me one of them to keep. It was gardenia scented. I still have that metal powder container in my memory box. If I hold it up to my nose, I can still catch a whiff of that light floral scent, even though the powder is long gone. Today the smell of gardenias never fails to transport me back in time to that magical bathroom.

The bathtub was modest – small and square, it was probably only 12-18 inches deep. Nothing compared to the giant soaking tubs we have these days. You couldn’t stretch out in that tub, but I loved it. It was perfect, mostly because Grandma let me use her bubble baths that were divine. She always had such girly, wonderful smelling things around. At home, with all those brothers of mine, it was hard to find a trace of femininity, especially in the bathrooms. I was lucky to get a five minute shower with hot water; baths were out of the question. Grandma knew this, and she had a way about her that made me feel special and loved because she actually let me use her bathroom things. I treated them with care, I tried not to make a mess, but I also thoroughly enjoyed myself in that bathroom. I would soak in the tub, surrounded by rose petal scented bubble bath. I’d use a shampoo that made my hair feel silky. Then I’d towel off and dust on some floral scented powder. It was time for me relax, enjoy myself, to bask in the glory of being a girl. Oh how great I felt. I smelled pretty fabulous too.

That’s how Grandma always is- impeccably put together and she always smells great. Never stale or 'old ladyish', just feminine and delicate. To this day, I'm drawn to a light floral or citrus scent. I don’t like heavy, musky or spicy scents. My preference for floral scents was formed by my experiences in Grandma’s bathroom. Those memories aren’t just about the powders, perfumes and bubbles that Grandma had. The foundation of those good feelings is the warmth and generosity she showed me. She trusted me enough to touch her stuff. She made me feel special by letting me use those private things. That’s how she’s been my whole life. Even though she has many grandchildren, she always knew how to make me feel like I held a special place in her heart among them all. She remembered what I liked, stuff that might have seemed common to other girls but was very special to me.

She’s still doing that today. In fact, now she does that for her great-grandchildren too. She sends my kids homemade cards for their birthdays and holidays. In each of them, she tells a little story to them about something that she once did at their age, or maybe about something that I did as a child. Or, she’ll tell them that she heard from me about something special in their lives, and she’ll let them know that it is special to her too.

I don’t get to visit with her very often. When I do, I don't tell her how much she means to me. But I think she knows how important she’s been in shaping who I am today. I’m very blessed to have had her in my life for all of these years. And I’m not just saying this because she reads my blog.

I love you, Grandma Viv. You have always made me feel special.

*photo swiped from her Facebook page. Did I mention that she’s a ‘cool’ grandma too?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Deep Thoughts by The Husband

The Husband posed the following very serious question last night.

If you have one of these nifty little Norelco Multitrim G270 nose and ear hair trimmers,
*photo of a ear/nose hair trimmer
Norelco Mulititrim

And you decide to actually use it...

Do you start with the ears and move to the nose or start with the nose and move to the ears?

Ew.