Saturday, January 29, 2005

We're Having Our Ups and Downs Here...

Things have been intensely busy here at the DollyMama household. Not only am I trying to launch a business very soon, and trying to sponsor a seminar to be held in less than 6 weeks, and doing all the regular stuff that I do, but we also got an additional exciting element:

Our Van Died

Or, perhaps she's just taken a convincing turn for the worst. You be the judge.

On Tuesday I was heading out to pick Sullen up from school, and I smelled a very weird smell in the van. I was thinking to myself, "What's that smell? What *is* that smell?" and then I got to find out. Because there was smoke pouring from the steering column! Nice. Fortunately, I was very close to home, so I turned right around and went back.


So, poor old Bessie now has the following ailments:

back door will not close properly if opened (aka we do not open the back door ever)

side door does not close properly

driver's side power window control broke right off last week, so now we can't put the window down

the carpet in there is perpetually damp and just waiting for a warm day to overtake the entire interior with mold

the big dent from the deer, which creates a terrible noise when I turn left

a front end problem that we were told by a mechanic (some time ago) is only a matter of time before it dies

air conditioning died at the beginning of last summer

and now, some problem within the steering column

So, we thought to ourselves: Hmmm.....seems like it's time to look for a different vehicle. Bessie has nearly 200,000 miles on her now. I think she's done her tour of duty.

So, we spent Wednesday looking for vehicles. First we got online and checked everything we could. Then we got on the phone and called around. There was a 15 passenger van very close to us that was a 1998 in very good condition for only $3500 from a private seller, so we were pretty interested in that. The hubby comes home with the report:

Well, it's very nice. You can tell it's never had any rough use. Everything looks great. It drives really well. But....

Uh huh? The BUT is what?

It has 218,000 miles.

That's right. Two hundred and eighteen THOUSAND miles!

I was stunned. Never in my wildest dreams did I think he would come home with a number like that.


As we let that sink in, we looked over our list from earlier in the day. And we found an Astro Van for $4400. So we decided to go take a look at it. So I call the sales guy, tell him that we want to come look at this particular vehicle, get directions, and head out. (after getting a babysitter on short notice) So we drive an hour through terrible traffic and foul weather....and when we arrive we find out that there is no such vehicle there. Nope. Nothing like that. Not even close. Not even like they just messed up the year or something. Not. There. And hadn't been! Nice. The sales guy says, "Oh, I am so sorry. I hope we haven't inconvenienced you." I said, "Well, actually, you have. We drove an hour to look at that vehicle." He offered me gas money which I said no to (I should have said yes plus had him give me babysitter money!). UGH.

We also stopped at one dealership where hubby saw a used Suburban and that actually looks like it might work out for us. We had it checked out by a mechanic friend on Thursday, and got to drive it on Friday. We've been so cramped on time that we've done almost all of the negotiating on the phone, which you know car salesmen hate. They actually had the nerve to jack up the price at the end, playing the "you must have heard him wrong/someone made a mistake" and the original price that we were told is actually $650 less than the real price. Yeah, right. So I counteroffered, and the beat goes on. I don't feel real confident that they'll go for our offer. But I'm hoping that with it being the end of January, that maybe they're desperate for sales and will break down on Monday and give us a really good deal.

Actually, the price is pretty good as it is. But, alas, with the whole single-income-family thing going on here, a car payment isn't even really doable to begin with. Hopefully my new business is going to bring in money by the bucketfuls and we can just pay off whatever vehicle we get and go on our merry way.

On Friday I got a very encouraging report about both of my preschoolers. Some of you may remember that after the first marking period my 4 year old was being evaluated for all manner of developmental delays, and my 3 year old wasn't doing that great, either. Between the two of them, plus my struggling 1st grader, I was completely downhearted after that round of conferences. "My kids are ruined and it's all my fault!" But THIS TIME was much different. Both of them are doing quite well, but my delayed kiddo is doing GREAT! His teacher said it's like night and day the change he has made, and that he has progressed much more than she anticipated he would in such a short time. Of course, we have noticed a lot of good things at home, too, but it was so nice to get so many positive comments.

Last night the hubby took our 6 year old Jake the Great to a Monster Truck thing with the boys group from church. They didn't get home until 1:30am and Jake was a little zombie. What a hoot this morning to hear him tell about the trucks and their noises and such. He was cracking me up with the sound effects and personalities he had attached to various vehicles.

I got to have some fun of my own last night when I went to a church ladies shin dig. I was in supposed to bring a few games, so we got to play some Outburst, which is great for groups. And then I got some people playing the all-time greatest card game ever! Dutch Blitz and successfully created Dutch Blitz converts out of them. Now we shall have to have DB nights at my house. I'll have to get the hubby to put all the kids to bed, and the women can sit around working out all of our aggression at the card table..... :)

Today featured hubby gone for the first 24 hours of 48 hours he will be working. I worked on the car deal with the sales people. Izzy Man threw up and hopefully will NOT throw up tonite since he is in my bed.... I guess more of the same is expected tomorrow (except for the throwing up, we hope). I know one thing: I won't be going anywhere. Because Bessie is a fire waiting to happen, and I don't want to be there when it does.


(phew! I feel better already, just getting that off my chest....)

After seeing all the glowing reports about mozilla firefox and how it was So Much Better, So Much Faster, So Much Smarter, So Much Safer, So Much Sexier (yes, I actually read that! ha!) than internet explorer, I figured I better see what all the hype was about. And, you know, I've had this sorry program for a couple months now and I have yet to be endeared to it. Pages don't load properly and definitely are slower than my IE. It gives me all sorts of trouble when trying to fill out forms. I'm sure that some of these are probably simple to fix setting problems, if only you know where to look, which I don't. So, hey, I'm daring to say No to Kim Kommando's advice. I'm not switching to crappy Mozilla. In fact, I think I'm going to uninstall it, since I hate it so much. (That'll show Kim!)

Just for kicks, today after reading her newsletter I decided to check my system for all this terrible invasive spyware that comes through to people from the eeeevil, terrible, vulnerable Internet Explorer....and guess what? No spyware. No adware. No viruses. We're all clear here.

So, I don't see what they problem is with IE, and I don't think MF is all that great. The day may come when it is, or when someone points me in the right direction so that I can make the great Mozilla work properly. In the meantime, me and my friend IE and sticking together.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Today I got duped

This morning I was getting my preschoolers out of the bath and ready for their bus, and the 3 year old, Doodles, declared that he didn't want to go to school. "I not go on the bus! Izzy go on the bus. I stay home!"

It is fairly common for him to decide that he is not going to take the bus to school. I usually respond with a calm, "Oh, you don't want to go to school? OK." and then I turn all my attention toward Izzy Man and get him ready with enthusiasm and talk about all the fun he will have at school, and of course by the time we are waiting for the bus at the door, Doodles will decide that he does indeed want to go to school, and so we scramble to get him ready, and off he goes.

So, I followed my usual routine today, but Doodles didn't.
"I don't like the bus!"
"I'm going to take a nap!"

And of course I start having those feelings that probably all concerned parents have. "Is there some reason that he doesn't want to ride on the bus?" "Is something bad happening on the bus?" and of course every horror story you ever heard about some victimized child goes flying through my brain. My preschoolers are not too strong verbally yet, so I tend to want to just respect it if they say they don't want to go on the bus or go to school.

And today, Doodles stuck to his guns. He was *not* going to school!

And so the bus came, Izzy Man got on, I told the driver that Doodles would not be coming, and off they went.

And there stood Doodles at the doorway of the house

almost in tears


"I want to go on the bus!"

And so then I got to start thinking to myself, "What's worse? I could make him stay home and miss school and say Tough Tooties, Brother, in order to fend off any notion he might get that he can just decide to not take the bus and then force me to drive him to school. OR, I can have him here all day when I have all this stuff to do....."

So, I took him to school. But if there's a next time, he'll just have to miss it and listen to me mention throughout the afternoon how much fun all the kids are probably having at school. ;)

And of course, I shot myself in the foot anyhow. Squiggy was all snuggled down for a nice nap when it was school time. I actually had to wake him up to drive Doodles to school. SO now I have a clingy, tired toddler hanging off of me, so I probably won't get squat done today anyhow. Great.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Inspirational Day!

This morning I started out with my breakfast smoothie and was reading my wonderful new book, Frugal Luxuries, by Tracey McBride. This book and it's cousin (sister?), Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons have rapidly become some of my favorites. I guess I could best describe this book as a combination of Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, The Tightwad Gazette, and Martha Stewart. The author shares her belief that life is worth adorning in beauty and with attention to details, no matter if your budget is humble or huge. She has tons of great ideas and inspirational quotes all throughout the book to help the reader get into the mindset of enhancing their life by using commonly found objects.

This morning I got really inspired by what she shared in the section about our homes. She talked about going ahead and adding details and embellishments throughout your home that reflect your personality and that make you happy. She also talked about not waiting, always thinking that you should not do anything too permanent in your home. She says:

"I don't believe in someday. Someday is that great hoarder of 'best' things."


This reminded me of the home we lived in for 8 years. It was a mobile home on a farm on the outskirts of a town we loved. We were back from the road, enjoying peace and privacy. My husband had a job working on the farm, which was in exchange for our rent and utilities. What a deal! When he was offered this job my husband was a college student and I was trying to be a stay-at-home mom to our one son. Money was t-i-g-h-t. The job came at the perfect time. We had gotten to the end of a semester and thought we probably couldn't afford for my husband to stay in school. Then, amazingly, the gift of a great job with wonderful people, and a home that we didn't even have to scrape up rent money for! Wow.

But things we so tight that we had literally been living to the point where I could not buy anything extra at all. No plastic containers for organizing if I got the urge. Not a new spatula if my current one broke. No trips through the drive through. Nothing. No.thing.

So I brought this poor mentality into my homemaking. That, combined with the fact that I had virtually no experience with decorating or wallpapering or painting or.....anything! Well, it didn't even hardly occur to me how I might spruce the place up. I didn't feel like we could spend money on extras like curtains or plants or whatever. And I didn't know what to do with what I already had, except for maybe put a few pictures on the walls.

When we finally did have some spare money, we had lived there for a year or two and I thought, "Well, we probably won't live here that much longer. Why buy curtains when the next place will have different sized windows?"

After we had lived there 6 or more years I was thinking I should have gone ahead and bought those curtains....but then I knew that surely we weren't going to be there for that many *more* years!


So, anyhow, I never did have curtains there, and actually I'm not even a big fan of curtains at all, since I like to be able to see out of my windows as big as the window will let me.

Now we own our home (well, the bank does...) and I have had some ideas about things I might like to do here, but a lot of it seemed so....personal....I've been hesitant to do it. I don't know if it's more about making myself vulnerable enough to do really unusual decorating things for all who enter our home to see, or if it's that thing in the back of my head that makes me think that we probably won't live here forever, so maybe it's not worth it to do stuff to it.

Recently we went to the home of some new friends and I was amazed and inspired by their home. She had these beautiful shimmery silver-and-beads curtains at the long narrow windows on either side of their front door. She had purple walls and bright lime green walls and little color accents on the spindles going up their stairs! So many beautiful, cheerful colors, daring colors, little special touches. I LOVED it.

So, I've been thinking....

And then this morning I was reading this book and was reminded that there is so much I can do to enhance my home right now, from simply keeping it clean and clear of clutter, to finishing all the half-done projects, to going ahead and taking a chance on some new things, and knowing that it won't be a big deal if I don't like something.

So, first I decided to clear off the top of the refrigerator. There were wrapped Christmas gifts that I had bought in bulk for Christmas 2003, candy canes from the same year, a broken air purifier, Halloween candy in a pumpkin can, plenty of confiscated toy guns and swords, and MY DIGITAL CAMERA! It had fallen behind something and I almost didn't even see it. I was quite thrilled that now I can document all manner of daily accomplishments and minutiae for your enjoyment. :)

After that I went into the bathroom to take a look around. I've been thinking about what to do in the bathroom for quite some time. (almost 5 years that we've lived here) We have a nice yellow on the walls, and just painted the long cabinet that the sink is in a boring white. I have one small/medium window that has privacy glass on the bottom and plain glass on the top, and I just had a tension rod with some lacy fabric covering the top of the window. Nothing terrible about it, but not really what I wanted for long term.

In the summer I found this painting at a yard sale for $5 and I just loved it.

Painting that hangs in my bathroom.
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I love the colors, I love the vibrance. And I love it that the woman is so vibrant, and also peaceful. It's not the kind of artwork you'd normally find in a bathroom. (Sorry, but I'm just not the seashells and butterflies type. ) The only reason I even put it in the bathroom to begin with was because there was a screw in the wall with nothing on it, and I didn't know where else I would put it.

Now that it's been in there for awhile, I love it. It's staying. As you can see, it's got tons of color in it. So, with the help of an idea from Frugal Luxuries, I got an idea about using the colors from that painting for the rest of the room. I found some paint sets that my kids got from a 4-H activity in the summer, and started mixing.

Now, this is BIG for me. I've never considered myself to be artistic. And I've always been intimidated by paint. I guess I didn't think that I could mix the colors or apply it right or something. And, really, for a lot of things, I probably wouldn't be too good. But the painting on the wall is somewhat abstract, so that's not too difficult of a look to imitate.

I took down the lace window covering, washed the window, and started painting on the glass. And now I have a really, really cool and unique colorful, cheerful privacy window. it kind of looks like stained glass. My kids think I'm an artist!

New window!
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One of the best things about it is that I can scrape that paint right off of there any time I decide I don't like it or want something else.

I decided to paint the sink cabinet as well, and actually was gutsy enough to use blue and red paint that we had left from another project, mixed it to create a slightly purplish blue that ties in with blues from the painting, and started painting. The second coat is drying right now..... Looks good!

I got to thinking about other things I have around the house that I might be able to use in some special way to enhance our home. One thing I got to thinking about was this:

tissue paper
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It's just tissue paper that I bought at Dollar General and used for wrapping a gift. There was a lot of it left over, and I just love the happy, funky stripe. I realized that my daughter's lilac colored walls would coordinate nicely with this, so went in her room to think about how I could put the tissue paper to work. And do you know what I saw?

plain door
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That's right. Two plain white doors.

And I got a happy idea. Decoupage! I had a bottle of decoupage glue left from a Christmas craft (again, circa 2003). So, in between coats of paint in the bathroom, making dinner, and so on, I did this:

groovy doors!
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Close up of one of the panels.
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This was a totally simple and easy thing to do, and it looks fabulous! My daughter is thrilled.

And we still have lots of tissue paper left over. Wonder where it'll turn up next......

My hunk of burnin' love hubby, in his dress uniform. Posted by Hello

And so it begins

About a week ago my 6 year old son Jake the Great came home with a project he had completed in art class. The assignment had been to find a picture in a magazine that you liked (for whatever reason), and then they glued it to a piece of paper and drew or whatever they wanted to on the paper, around the picture they glued.

The previous day our daughter, who is in second grade, had come home with her project from the same assignment. The picture she had chosen was a beautiful baby from some baby food or diaper ointment ad.

And what did my 6 year old son choose?

A pretty picture of Cindy Crawford.

Cindy's a little old for Jake, don't ya think? Posted by Hello

(Now stuck to his bedroom wall.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

It must've been quite a balancing act.....

Today my 3 year old had an interesting experience. It seems that when they were playing in the gymnasium he had to go to the bathroom, so off he went to the locker room. Apparently the teachers weren't watching too closely, because by the time they got to him, he was perched upon the *urinal* balancing ever-so-carefully, and pooping.

Uh huh. BATH TIME!!!!

(I'm getting some serious chuckles out of imaging what he might have been thinking about that strange toilet)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I found the missing birth certificates!

They were in a fluke place. I wouldn't have found them for ages if I hadn't been looking for something else.....

So we made it through the 3-day weekend. And now I have my 2 preschoolers home for the fourth day since they have both seemed sick. Somehow, even with my 3 wild-and-wooliest kids here, I've gotten some key stuff accomplished from my Very Long To Do List. Thankfully, my Hey! It's 2005! letter is now on the way (formerly known as the Christmas letter) and the bills are well on their way to being paid. Better late than never, I always say.

Thank you notes are also en route, which is a good thing because not having that done was eating away at my conscience so much that last night I told myself that I had to make getting that done top priority because it was torturing me so much.

So, hey, even if I get nothing else done today, I've unburdened myself significantly already.

I was talking to my 12 year old son Sullen yesterday and found out that he believes blondes are generally not smart, and that girls his age talk too much.

Sullen: Girls are just so talkative, and they are always talking about such stupid stuff.
Me: Well, I've known a few talkative boys in my day, too, you know. YOU are a fairly talkative person.
Sullen: Mom, no way. When girls talk it's like, "blah de blah blah blah blah blee blee blah blah blah de blah blah blah blabber blabber blabber blah blah..." and when guys talk it's like, "Blah blah blah. The end."

Okay then.

I suggested that maybe girls were smarter since they had more to say, which was only met with snickers and laughter. Surely you jest, Mother!

At least he did say that he felt that girls his age were at the height of the jabber jaw spectrum, and that by the time girls get to adulthood they usually taper off to a more respectable amount of talkativeness. So I guess he doesn't think I talk too much.

I learned a new thing yesterday. If your 6 year old comes up to you with a big grin on his face and says, "Hey mom, do you dare me to pull down my pants?!" the correct answer to this is "YES! I Dare You to pull down your pants!" No worries, though, because he will probably be wearing a one-piece Power Ranger costume under his clothes.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Two movie reviews

(it's a two kind of a day...what can I say?)

Double Jeopardy is a thriller starring Ashley Judd. I was pretty excited to get to watch this movie because I had seen the preview for it once upon a time but had forgotten the title and starring actors, and never saw anything about it again. Thanks to someone in my book group, I found out the title of my long lost movie, and Netlfix sent it to my door yesterday.

So, you've got a beautiful husband and wife with what looks to be the perfect life. He takes her sailboating for her birthday, and she wakes up to find her husband missing and his blood all over her and the boat. She gets convicted of his murder, asks her friend to adopt her young son and take the $2 mil in life insurance money to raise him, and settles into prison life....only to discover that her friend has run off with her son, the money, and what's more.....her husband! She's been framed and left to rot in jail.

A fellow inmate enlightens her: nobody wants to hear your appeal. It'll be expensive and take too long and get you nowhere. Do your time, make your plan. And when you get out? Well, take advantage of the wonderful legal loophole: You can't be convicted of murdering the same person twice.

Once she gets out of prison she uses her smarts to track the guy down through a variety of name changes and locations, with Tommy Lee Jones as her parole officer in hot pursuit.

I'm guessing this movie didn't do well at the box office since I never heard much about it, but I'll admit that I liked it. It definitely had it's tense "thriller" moments, and got to me because the main character was a mother separated from her child. Not all of it is realistic. We could see a few places where the obvious was overlooked in order to make the story more interesting. Nevertheless, I'm glad I finally got to see it.

Raising Helen stars the adorable Kate Hudson as a young modeling agency assistant who inherits her sister's three children after their parents are suddenly killed in a car accident. The arrangement turns her life upside down and she seriously doubts her ability to be a parent to these kids. There are a few kind of unbelievable stupid moments, but overall it's a sweet comedy with lots of heart.

Two Short Books

I polished off two wonderful books today:

Seaside, a novella by Terri Blackstock, is a beautifully written story of a mother who takes her two adult daughters on a week-long vacation in order to share some final memories and impart some important truths about life before she dies from cancer. The book is full of quality spiritual truths, questions, and observations without being cheesy. Thankfully, the author does not sacrifice quality of writing or the beauty of the tale in order to share the moral of the story as some Christian novels tend to do. To her credit, Blackstock isn't afraid to show the flawed side of these Christian women, and she does so without making them into characatures. The women in the story are believable, and the scenery and story came across so real that I could see the whole thing in my mind as if it were a movie. A lovely short book that I heartily recommend.

Heartbeat, by Sharon Creech, is similar in length to Seaside, but was even quicker to read because of it's unusual style. The entire book is written in poetry form, from the perspective of 12-year-old Annie. Annie writes about so many wonderful thoughts and things going on in her life: Her special friend Max, her love of running for the sake of running, the baby that her Mom is expecting, her aging Grandfather that is getting forgetful, her dreams, her art, being true to herself, and more. Although Max sees their small town as always the same, Annie sees it as always changing. Everyone, everything, always growing and moving and changing in so many different ways.

Here is one of my favorite excerpts:

In my parents' room
I lift the miniature white t-shirt
from the basket that holds
a few little things for the baby.

The shirt seems infinitely small
too small for any living person
and I wonder if the alien baby
can think now
and if it can think
what does it think?

And what did I think
when I was small
and why did I forget?

And what else will I forget
when I grow older?

And if you forget
is it as if
it never happened?

Will none of the things
you saw or thought or dreamed

It would be hard for me to describe all the feelings I had while reading this book. I was stricken by the poignancy of it. The profound-but-simple thoughts that Annie shares are pure gold. It made me smile, made me nod in agreement, made me cry....and made me very glad I read it. Check it out.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

I know I already sent pictures of The Big Fire, but we got a bunch of new ones today, so here are some more.

They look a lot clearer if you click on them and get to see the larger versions.

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This is the side of the buildings that The Firecrapper was in charge of. Posted by Hello

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front side Posted by Hello

Dec. fire Posted by Hello

Lost in Translation

Some things that have been said around our house today:

(Scene: Early morning. Kitchen.)
(Starring: Dolly Mama, Jake the great--age 6)

Jake: I hope we get to go outside today at school. It's boring when we have to stay inside for play time.

Dolly Mama: Well, didn't you get to play outside yesterday? It was a nice day yesterday.
(It had been 65 degrees and sunny)

Jake: Yesterday? Um.....when was that?


(Scene: After the kids got home from school. Living room, looking through the back packs.)
(Starring: The Firecrapper, Izzy Man--age 4, Dolly Mama)
(background: Each week in preschool there is a letter that they learn about, and on Thursdays the kids are supposed to bring something that starts with that letter, because it is Share Day. At circle time they get their letter items and show the class what they found to bring that starts with that letter. Today I placed the items in ziploc bags with sticky notes that said "Share item" since they were small and not necessarily going to be recognized as the Share item rather than just some junk in their bag that little boys like to collect.)

The Firecrapper (looking through Izzy Man's bag while Dolly Mama is in another room, speaks to Izzy Man in his best I'm-talking-to-a-preschooler-with-learning-disabilities/Mr. Rogers tone in his voice): Oh look! Ear Plugs to share. Izzy, would you like to share these ear plugs? These are from school and it says to share.

Izzy Man: Yeah, ear plugs. I gots ear plugs.

TF: Yes, ear plugs. Isn't that nice? You have to share, though. (looking around and nodding at at the other children in the room, as if they would all start clamoring, "Yes! Me! My turn! *I* want to use the ear plugs now!")

DollyMama is in the other room wondering how TF could believe that the school sent home those little foam peanut earplugs wishing for a 4 year old to start sharing them all around the family. Also wondering how hubby does not recognize that the writing on the note is hers.

Dolly Mama (entering living room): Honey, the share item was *from* us for Izzy to share at school. You know, Share Day? Where they have to bring something that starts with the letter of the week? it's P week, so one of them took a Polly Pocket Pool and the other one took ear Plugs.

TF (nodding head like it all makes sense to him now, snuggling Izzy Man on the couch, same tone of voice): Oh! So, Izzy, who did you share your ear plugs with?

DM (bursts into peals of laughter as she imagines Izzy Man at preschool going around nicely asking every classmate, "Would you like to try out these ear plugs? I brought them to share!"): Honey! Share day doesn't mean they share it as in give some away or let everybody use it. It means you sit in the circle and show what you brought! (laughing, laughing, laughing)

TF (retreat to bedroom to lay down, rolling eyes): Well I don't know what the heck they do at share day!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Today's Health Food Ups and Downs, plus The Hot Date Update!

Today's quest for health had me making bread sticks, 2 different kinds of crackers, some bread, and a raw food rendition of pecan cinnamon rolls.

The bread sticks could more descriptively be called Dog Log Breadsticks. Needless to say, we won't be serving them again. Just the looks of them is enough to ruin one's appetite.

The Pecan Pie Cinnamon Rolls use sprouted wheat for the dough, and turned out quite good. Everyone around here is clamoring for more.

I enjoyed an excellent lunch of guacamole spread on some flat bread that I made yesterday. Very, very yummy. Something that we will continue to have around here, I'd say.

One of the crackers I made today was a big hit with my daughter. So, now I have added those to her feeding repertoire, along with the pecan pie cinnamon rolls and the uncorn chips from yesterday. She is 8 years old and has a very narrow selection of foods she will eat. To add three new foods to her regime in 24 hours is Huge.

But, anyhow, enough about that. I realized that I never got to tell you about my Hot Date with the hubby.

First the babysitter was running late (by an hour) so we ended up eating at home.

Then, when we got to the movie theater we found that it had started 20 minutes earlier than the web site had told us it would.....and we were already 15 minutes late for *that.* So, no movie.

So, what are 2 wild and crazy thirtysomethings to do in a small city with not many choices???

I know!

Go to Goodwill to bargain hunt!

Yes, I'm serious. Because, you know, I am a big believer in "anything can be fun if you make it fun."

So, we found a pair of shoes and a pair of boots for the kids, saving ourselves over $30.

Then we went to Applebee's where there was a 50 minute wait. So we left.

Then we went to Cracker Barrel where there was a 50 minute wait. So we left.

And from there, where else could we go, but.....



First, the produce section to stock up on all those lovely veggies to juice at home. Then a walk past the food processors to check those out. Our big snack was some healthy veggie and fruit juice, which we guzzled down while we rented a movie and headed home.

I know it sounds pretty pathetic. But, you know, the company was good. :) My husband was a great encouragement to me about some mental gymnastics I had been doing about my various ideas, goals, and interests. He got me all fixed up and moving in the right direction again, which was mighty nice. And of course, any time we can get some talk time in without being interrupted by the children, we are thrilled.

The movie we rented was Saved. For those of you who don't know, it stars Mandy Moore and Jena Malone as students at a Christian high school. They both did a great job in their roles, but Jena's character Mary (the main character) was portrayed wonderfully. My other favorite character was Patrick (played by Patrick Fugit), who is sort of a Jesus symbol in the movie. This character portrays unwavering friendship, and unconditional love and acceptance, while not changing his own personal standards for living.

I really, really liked this movie for several reasons. For one, it pokes some good-natured fun at Christians who live their lives within a totally Christian bubble. There was the Christian school, Christian activities, Christian music, Christian vanity plate, Christian meetings and committees... But my personal favorite was the Christian Home Interior Decorators Association......laughing out loud over that one.

Secondly, although the movie's comedy vehicle is an over-the-top portrayal of Christians, it addresses many valid and common questions that people have about Christianity. Things like,
"How do I know if I'm hearing God?"
"How can Christians best accept others while also being willing and able to effectively share their faith?"
"Even if the Bible seems black-and-white about something, what do we do about all the people and situations that cannot or do not fit into this mold? Does God still love them? Does God still accept them? How are Christians to respond to them?"

The movie is big on the questions, but doesn't offer much for answers. Which I think is valid, because, heck, I've been a Christian for 19 years and I don't have many or any of those answers. If anything, the more I think about the questions, the fewer answers I seem to come up with. Or at least, the answers I come up with are a lot less hard core than they might have been years ago.

In short, Saved is an intelligent and humorous look at faith, friendship, and big questions. I'm so glad I saw it.

So, kids, this wraps up another edition of Boring Stuff To Tell You Today. Tune in next time for more!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Since I know you're all checking in here every day wondering, "What on earth is Dolly Mama up to?" I thought I'd have mercy on you and check in.

I'm on one of my healthy food kicks. My kids kind of cringe when this happens. My oldest son still has nightmares about the time when we kicked all sugar, meat, dairy, and white flour all at once. The first meal of that regime was hummus on whole wheat bread with sprouts. He was *not* a happy 6 year old......

Thankfully, I'm a little more balanced and a lot more busy this time around, so we aren't having any radical, hard-core changes. I'm trying out a new philosophy. Instead of focusing on all the stuff we can't or "shouldn't" eat, I am just working on incorporating more of the things I want us to be eating. The idea is that eventually the healthy stuff could dominate the diet. What I'm trying to do is include more raw foods in our diet, and to gradually cut out sugar.

So, I've done some revamping of my kitchen. I have all this mighty-fine healthy food equipment, but none of it was in an easily accessible location. So, I've switched around things in one wall of cabinets, had my husband drill some holes for power cords, cleared clutter, etc. Now I have my Excalibur Dehydrator right where I can get to it all the time, right behind a cabinet door. It's all plugged in and ready to continuously churn out goodies like cookies, breads, and snacks that are all made with raw ingredients, and dried at such low temperatures that they retain their raw food nutrients! The big hit of the day was Chili Lime Un-corn Chips, which are kind of like tortilla chips with gusto. They are really good. (Thankfully! It was kind of a lot of work to make them. Good thing it made a big batch.)

I cleared a similar space in the same wall of cabinets to make a home for my wheat grinder and Bosch mixer. This is my bread making station. I never have to get these items down from the shelf, as they are all plugged-in and ready to use right there.

My next project for that wall of cabinets is going to be clearing one shelf for sprouting. Until I got interested in raw foods, I had no idea that you could sprout grains and use them to make all sorts of things, without cooking all the the live enzymes out of them. Very interesting. But, again, when I am sprouting large quantities of a variety of grains, it can easily take over my counters with rows of colanders. They need to go away behind closed doors as well. And they will, as soon as I can deal with all of the stuff that is in that section of the cabinets.

Our newest member of the healthy-lifestyle appliances is our Green Star Juicer, which we just got last week. This is something I have been thinking about for a long time, and we finally had the opportunity to get one. It has a perfect spot on our counter in a narrow section that wasn't ever used for much, so it's not in the way, yet it is convenient to the sink and fridge. I am really enjoying this juicer. It's very quiet, simple to use, and easy to clean. We have been juicing things like apples, carrots, zucchini, celery, and dark green lettuces. It's a great way to get the health benefits of a whole bunch of veggies in one compact shot. Plus, I can get the kids (and, heck, myself!) to consume stuff that we normally wouldn't. Stuff with lots of good-for-your-body stuff inside. yay! The juicer can also be used to make a lot of additional things besides just juice. Tomorrow I am planning to make some bread, bread sticks, and crackers with it's help. (Plus the dehydrator.)

I made a frozen pie from all-raw ingredients today as well. My ever-sceptical kids gathered round this gorgeous confection trying to find the catch. "What's in it?" they'd ask with a tint of hopefullness in their voice. They wanted to eat it, but they were afraid. Afraid of the health, I guess. My daughter said, "I think it's VooDoo pie!" Alrighty then.

But, hey, my daughter is one of the most dysfunctional, picky eaters out there, and she tried about 5 new things today, and actually liked some of them. So, Mom, good news! Booboo will now eat tomato, zucchini, nuts, sesame seeds (lots of calcium), and a few other things. This is major progress. I consider it an extra success if she will try something new and like it. (but, SHHHH about it! She has no idea what's in the chips she liked so well. No need to alert her to the fact that she ate vegetables...)

I wish I could show you some pictures of all these great treats and kitchen revamps, but my digital camera is MISSING! Do you know where it is?? My guess is that it has run off with the two missing birth certificates.

I got an email from the preschool teacher today. She told me that there had been two false fire alarms at the school today. She had come to the conclusion that it was caused by someone in her class, but she wasn't sure who. When they were playing in the gym the alarm went off and she whirled around to see who was pulling it.....and there was my son Doodles... hanging off of the fire alarm handle. Yep. That's my kid. (It's always the firefighter's kids that are doing stuff like this, isn't it?!) She gave him a stern talking-to about not pulling the fire alarm handle, which may account for why he has been going around the house with a guilty look on his face, telling me, "I pushed the button." This kind of thing doesn't surprise me one bit.

Doodles is my child who, when 1-2 years old, would:
-- run to the oven to fling open the door when it was in use (HOT),
--then when shooed away from there, climb up on the kitchen table where he would spill some juice or milk, and lay down in it and swoosh his arms back and forth, pretending to swim in it,
--from there, stick his entire hand in an unattended jar of peanut butter, lick it off, and share with the dog by allowing her to also lick peanut butter off his hands....
--from there, he'd get his hands washed, run to try to throw things into the toilet, throw things over the railing from upstairs to downstairs, and on and on and on he went.....

And all of this was while I was pregnant and trying to homeschool. Ha! Can you imagine the agony and insanity?!

In short, he was a Very Active Child. (can I get a witness?! Sooz?!)
Thank the Good Lord, he is now much more civilized. I think the worst is over. As long as we can get the fire alarm pulling to stop.

I had a plan when my 6th baby was born. I started telling him in sweet whispers that he was going to be a good boy for mommy. He was never going to do naughty things like Doodles did. No sirree, only good and sweet behavior from the baby. Or else!

And, you know what? So far, it's working. Squiggy Magoo is a very sweet, smart, active but not Too Active kind of an almost-2-year-old. This is a blessing I do not take lightly.

As for my New Year's Resolutions, I'm doing well on some of them. Every time I stoop over to pick up a toy off the floor, or put a CD or DVD back in it's case, I'm silently congratulating myself for not being a lazy sack of crap. The food goals are working out well, as I already reported. I worked out a grand total of ONCE this year, which is possibly once more than last year, so it's better than nothing.....but not by much. I don't know *how* I am ever going to fit a 45 minute workout into my life. It seems like far too much time to give. Maybe if I get a full-length mirror I will be more motivated...?

How about you all? Making any progress on your resolutions? Any that you've already flunked out on?

So, that's where it's at here in Dolly Mama's life. Would you like to come over and have some Chili Lime Uncorn Chips with me? Or maybe you'd prefer a slice of VooDoo pie...

Saturday, January 08, 2005

I started my day with a heart attack....

Well, not a *real* heart attack, but...

This morning when I got up there was a message from my mother at work, asking me to please call her because my brother, who is currently visiting in China, had a "major problem" and she needed me to do some hunting on the internet to try to help him.

Major problem?! My little brother is in a foreign country with a major problem?

My mind immediately thought of some movie I once saw with some college age girls traveling in Asia, getting framed for drug smuggling, and ending up in some Singaporean prison camp, suffering for years with no hope of getting free.

I called my mom at work but she is a nurse and was busy with a patient. So, I had a good half hour more to fret and pray for my brother. I envisioned myself posting an SOS here on my blog, beseeching anyone with any ties to the US Embassy in China to please contact me to help set my poor brother free from his mistaken enprisonment.

Finally I called my mom back because I couldn't stand the stress of waiting for her to call me.
Me: "Hi mom, what's going on?"
Mom: "Hi honey. I already took care of it. Everything is fine now."
Me: "Well, what was going on?"
Mom: "Oh, his computer crashed and he didn't have any numbers for tech support."
Me: "His computer? Oh jeez..... I thought he was in prison or something!"
Mom: "In prison? I told you it was a computer problem, didn't I?"
Me: "No, you just said 'major problem' and I was really worried about him."
Mom: "Oops. Sorry. Just the computer."

Actually, my brother's computer is pretty darn important. He's a musician and he performs all over China while he's there (and in Massachusetts when he's not) and his very cool Mac Laptop is an essential part of his act, playing lots of different sounds and mixes for his shows. So, no doubt a computer crash would be a major problem......thankfully not the kind I was worried about.

Other news includes my son Sullen getting a straight-A report card in the mail today. My kid rocks!

The Firecrapper and I are going out on a Hot Date tonite. Actually, I have no idea if it'll be hot, or even what we're doing. But, we've got a babysitter lined up, and we're getting out of the house. Hot enough for me!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I thought you all might enjoy seeing some photos from that big fire that my hubby went to last week.

courthouse tower in background was not on fire Posted by Hello

front attack (they were able to save most of the face of these historic buildings) Posted by Hello

hose lines Posted by Hello

Attack Posted by Hello

fire guys Posted by Hello

Izzy Man's Mantra for the Day:

My butt is warm!

He has been saying this since he woke up. What do you think it means?

I did not pace myself. That's all I can tell you.

OK. Not really. I'll tell you more.

Yesterday the kids went back to school and I got busy right-quick with all of my putting the house back together, keeping all of my New Year's Resolutions, PLUS, searching high and low for two missing birth certificates.....

For some reason I never ended up with BCs for 2 of my kids. I needed them for school, of course, and had to special order the documents. And so they came in October or November, I carried them around with me several days thinking I would stop by the school and have them copied, but I never did. And now......I can't find them. Wouldn't I be the biggest dork to have to order yet another 2 birth certificates?

It's obvious to me that one of my new habits needs to be an efficient filing system and habit. My hunt for the birth certifs went like this:

Look where you think it will be. Don't find it there. But go through every paper in that stack just in case, sorting and piling and throwing away as you go.

Clear said space of all it's paperly clutter and set up a nice cards-and-addresses area in that cabinet. hooray! Good job. Looks great.

But still no Birth Certificates.

So, onto the next most logical place: A medium sized plastic container with many papers put into it and hidden from some time in the past several months when somebody was coming over and I was trying to make my counters look like I don't pile papers on them.

So, dig through all the papers, continue with the sorting, piling, throwing away.

Eliminate almost all of the mess from this container. Continue eliminating all clutter from this entire cabinet shelf. Then set up new shelf paper, put new things on this shelf (a change I had been planning, so this was a good time). Put the stuff that had been on that shelf onto a different shelf.

But still, no Birth Certificates.

It went on like this through several clutter areas. I made great strides on the decluttering. I have a fresh pile of papers to file (that will be ignored). But I still don't have the darn Birth Certificates.

So, I went on like this non stop, except for when I caught up on all the laundry, did a 45 minute Joyce Vedral workout, did phone calling (chores, not pleasure, I assure you), miscellaneous paperwork, and so on. I stopped for nothing except lunch.

By the time the kids got home I realized I had not paced myself very well. I forgot! After I work the first shift, I still have to work the second shift. (Hubby was at work, too. So I was on my own.)

So, I kept right on going.

I had planned my meals! Yes! Because I am an organized New Year kind of woman. That's why. So, I got going on making my healthy and delicious applesauce bread. I made Potato Cheese Soup. I did all those parental things like look through 4 backpacks worth of papers and school notes, heard about everybody's day, and attempted to have the kids clean their areas.

My feet were killing. My body was getting sore. (but not as sore as today!! Yow! At least I know my workout did something for me...) The homework and kitchen cleaning and bedtime routine were waiting...... UGH!

So, I did what any sane mother would do.

I went and hid at the computer for a little R&R.

We didn't get much accomplished after that. I was still sending people off to bed at 10:30 (my oldest and my youngest), and then proceeded to be an even bigger fool by staying on the computer chatting with my mom until 1 am.

So, 5 hours later I got to start all over again. Except today...I'm going to pace myself.

(and I think that might be one of the most boring posts I ever made. Sorry.)

(sniff, sniff....) NOBODY LOVES ME!!!

Alright. I'll admit it. It stings a bit. Would you believe that I didn't make it into the final 10 for the Mommy Blogs category in the Best of Blogs contest? Rats, I say!

So, I went to check out these finalist Mommy blogs to see just how good they were. And do you know what I found out? Most of them are funnier than me on a more consistent basis. So, if funny is what you're looking for, these ladies have got it. Here's a little Meme tour of the finalists that I most liked. Check 'em out, and then don't forget to vote anytime Jan 1-14!

Fighting Inertia is a blog that I discovered some time ago thanks to Blog Explosion. I liked it then, and it seems she's gotten even funnier recently. Actually, it's not so much that she writes stuff funny, it's that she just seems to have funny, embarrassing stuff happen to her a lot. She's got no trouble laughing at herself, and I like that. Her turtle logo is mighty adorable, too. She also gets points from me because she lives in Rochester, NY, where I went to college and met my dear hubby. Here's a recent bit from her blog:

Last night, my husband and I had a party to attend.

I was a little more dressed up than usual -- in other words, I wasn't wearing jeans and a bulky sweater. I was wearing high heeled brown leather boots and moleskin slacks with a cream colored sweater.

My carpets had just been cleaned. So my house is feeling nice and sparkly.

For a moment, I feel great. I look nice. My house is neat and clean (ok, relatively). And I'm going to serve dinner to my boys.

I fill two bowls with steaming white rice. No, we aren't Chinese. Yes, my boys love bowls of white rice. I go to carry it over to them.

And, I step and

WHAM BANG BOOM!I catch my heel on the small step down into the family room and fly head first into the newly cleaned carpet. I try in vain to balance the two bowls of rice as I do this, so instead of putting my hands down to block the fall, I basically just fall face first. Imagine a swan dive. Into the ground. And without any grace.

Rice explodes everywhere. Mostly on the newly cleaned carpet. It is hot warm buttery rice. Granted, it could have been Kool-Aid, but it still wasn't exactly what I was hoping to have all over my carpet within 6 hours of it being cleaned.

If only it were videotaped, I'd most definitely be winning the $10,000 on America's Funniest Home Videos. And even after taxes, that amount would probably cover having the carpet redone. Plus a tidy sum left over to compensate me for pain, suffering, and undo humiliation in front of my children.

Yet another example of the infallibility of Murphy's Law.

Fluid Pudding. What can I say? I think she made me laugh out loud 5 times just reading over her current from page. 5 laughs definitely earns a star! Just a little snippet here:

When we attended MC’s eighteen month Well Baby doctor appointment a few months back, we were asked if she has at least a fifty word vocabulary.
Me: Um, no.
Doctor: How many words does she say?
Me: She says Yes, No, Mama, Daddy, Go, Home, and Hi.
Doctor (with her pen on fire in MC’s chart): HHHhhhhhhhhmmmmmm… Bad parents, dumb kid, Division of Family Services…

Frisbee Flingers is written by a mom of a new baby. She's got a lot of cute stuff here, including this little bit of wisdom:

A few things you don't need when you have a newborn:

1. An alarm clock
2. Decaf Coffee
3. Dressy Clothes
4. If you're the dad, an opinion (contributed by Mr Flinger who was kidding, of course, but frickin' funny)

Inland Empress is written by a mom with one kiddo on the outside (or at least that's all I've noticed from my short visit to her blog. Sorry if I missed someone!!) and one on the inside. She's got some pretty funny stuff to talk about, what with her boobs exploding and all.....

Classified ads for my bod

I'm getting rid of my body. The damn thing's useless -- it's sick again. All it's done this weekend is flop around in bed and feel achy.

I'm hoping someone'll take it off my hands.

If I were a car:
'63 Female: Low mileage, only ridden on weekends. Prone to occasional breakdowns and high tailpipe emissions, but headlights work just fine. Sluggish handling, especially in traffic, but good for short hauls over empty roads. Seats one. Perfect for budding mechanic in need of a challenge.

If I were a house:
Handyman Special: This charming fixer upper just needs some lifting, tucking and maybe a high colonic to become your dream home! Fully 5.5 feet of room, plumbing needs an overhaul. Front features big knockers, plus bonus room in the rear. Subject to 9-month expansion project. Owner motivated to sell! This offer won't last!

If I were a pet:
Free to a good home: Non-spayed female, expecting litter sometime in July. Gentle temperament but will bite when tired or hungry. Good with kids. Doesn't shed or pee on carpet. Needs frequent petting. Won't fetch worth a damn.

Kiwords is a momma who seems to write more like I do. Some long posts with more serious stuff to say, but every now and then a darn funny episode to report. Here's one that I enjoyed:

Do you ever feel like you're just not being heard?

We were driving along on our endless route to…somewhere or another, when Raphael turned to Max and said, “Way to GO, chicken.”

I may have mentioned that it’s NOT my job to understand them.

Anyhow, Max reacted with predictable furor.

Because you know how searing to one’s self esteem a moniker like that can be.

“Raphi,” I said, “knock it off. Don’t call your brother a chicken.”

“Ok,” he sighed, “ah’m sorry. Max, ah’m sorry ah called yoo a chicken. Ah’m sorry ah said, ‘way to go, chicken.’ Ah’m sorry ah said chicken to yoo.”

Max reacted with predictable furor.

I was only half listening, as I was trying to puzzle out the lanes under a new layer of snow on the road.
“Raphi, I said don’t call him a chicken,” I muttered back.

Raphael was INFURIATED at being misunderstood.

“Oh, right. Sorry, baby.”

He was writhing in his car seat, contorted with rage.


“Ok, Raphi, settle down. It’s ok.”


“Yeah, you mentioned that.”


And he proceeded to glower out the window for the rest of the car ride.

More Christmas cookies, anyone?

Suburban Bliss, whose subtitle is "Birth Control via the Written Word" is a blog I go to fairly often. But....I can't exactly tell you why. She seems pretty sad and angry. She writes a lot of hilarious-but-negative stuff, with a lot of quite bad language. The only blog I can think of that is more angry, negative, and offensive is dooce, who seems to be loved the blogosphere over. I often ask myself, "Why do I keep going back here?" It's one of those blogs that I go to with one eye covered....but she must be doing something right, because I keep going back. Here's something funny she wrote today about one of her New Year's Resolutions:

*I'm going to stop acting so horribly awkward when people hug me. I have come to appreciate warm people who embrace you just because they're happy to see you. I used to hate it and think it forward. But now I've become more continental and I like the hug. But I hug like a retarded and grandmotherly robot. Plus, I do this really annoying back tap while I hug. Tap-Tap-Tap.

Very Mom is one of my very favorite blogs, as you all know if you've been coming 'round here very long. From her Great Poop Battles of 2004, to moving to per-ta-ter country (Idaho), she keeps me laughing and is the one I have voted for as my fave Mommy Blog. Here's a funny from VM's life (This is only part of it. Go here to read the entire post):

Cable Customer Service Person: May I help you?

Me: Yes, I have some questions about how to order Pay-per-view movies.

CCSP: [Launches into sales pitch]

Me: No, I don’t think you understand. We already have cable.

CCSP: Phone number, please?

Me: 208.555.5555

CCSP: Hmmm. Shanon Boswell? It looks like you’ve already ordered PPV movies, I’m showing “Dirty Cindy Does Texas” and last month, “Cinderella’s Anal Ball".

Me: Uh, that’s not our account. We’ve only been here three weeks.

CCSP: Address?

Me: 123 Booneyville Street

CCSP: Nothing is coming up. Name?

Me: Well, it’s a new house, just built… my husband called from Utah before we moved to set up our account, his name is Eric Wiseman.

CCSP: Weisman?

Me: No, Wise - Man.

CCSP: Weirman?

Me: No, just like the three kings, W-I-S-E-M-A-N.

CCSP: [Starts singing We Three Kings] Nope, nothing. When you moved in, was cable already in the apartment?

Me: No, this is a brand new house, we built it. The cable guy came four days after we moved in and set it up.

CCSP: So you’re already a customer.

Me: Well, we’ve been watching cable for three weeks now.

CCSP: Cable One?

Me: Yes, you are the only cable company that services Rigby, Idaho.

CCSP: So you already have a box.

Me: ???!!?

CCSP: I found it! It’s spelled wrong, W-I-S-E-M-A-N!

Me: No, that’s the correct spelling.

The other nominees for Best Mommy Blog are:

Miss Zoot

The Cheese Stands Alone (Elizabeth Dunne)
This Full House

Frankly, I have gotten very tired of looking through these Mommy Blogs, although they are all quite enjoyable. So I am sorry to say that if you want to know about these last 3 you will have to go check it out for yourself. If I wait til I have time and patience, the voting will be over.

Go vote for somebody....there are real prizes and everything. Some momma is gonna be very happy. And you know, if momma ain't happy.....