Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's the Banned Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays of the year; the smell of fall in the crisp air, the sound of leaves crunching underfoot, and the tangible anticipation of the next sugary-crack score. I think it's because I've always had really great memories of trick-or-treating growing up that I'm taking Bumfark's ban on it so hard.

Evidently, one year they had some *gasp* minor vandalism in the form of some smashed pumpkins and toilet paper adorned trees. To avoid such a catastrophe in the future, they banned door to door visits and decided to throw a Halloween party in the gymnasium every year. Which, I suppose could be a lot of fun, but they've dumbed it down to pure torture. Picture a tiny gym filled with every child and parent in a 10 mile radius standing around like cattle, waiting to be herded to the center of the room for the costume judging for their age group/category. After two hours of this idiocy you and your sweaty, miserable children exit and are handed a small bag of candy.

They don't even have the decency to buy the good chocolate.

This year bio-dad offered to take them to his neighborhood, a real live subdivision, jack-o-lanterns sitting on porches the way it should be. And I'm sad that I'll miss enjoying the actual event with them, but I'm glad that they're getting to experience it. And in the spirit of the holiday, last night I gathered up the kidlets, poured some popcorn into bowls, and we all sat down and enjoyed another Halloween tradition by watching poor Linus wait for his great pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Brettism Hump Day has all the answers

Last night it was the usual chaos during the arsenic hour as I was making dinner. The kids had assembled at the table as I scrambled to get food onto eight waiting plates. Finally the din got so loud that I turned around and yelled "Is it so difficult to JUST BE QUIET???"

Emma looks up and starts to reply, but Brett cuts her off. "Em-ma, you're going to get us in more trouble. And that was called a rhetorical question. That means you should know the answer by how loudly she asks the question."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I'm posting this because of two things that happened yesterday. First, the super cool Beth tagged me and challenged me to reveal seven things about myself that you might not know. A few minutes later I pulled up the Pioneer Woman website and she had written a post asking everyone to write five adjectives to describe themselves, after she talked in great length about the movie Heartburn, inflicting me with a Carly Simon-Coming Around Again earworm. Thanks a lot PW.

So without further ado...

  1. I almost named Emma, Chloe instead. In fact, I went into the hospital completely intending to do so, but after looking at her I decided that she just didn't 'feel' like a Chloe. I've regretted it ever since.
  2. I have a huge weakness for both good chocolate and good body lotion. I also try to avoid both if at all possible; the first because I have no control and it likes to sit where I do, and the second because I can't justify dropping $27.50 on a jar of stuff that Emma will likely try to paint her room with.
  3. I grew up in an agnostic house, but attended both Catholic and Protestant churches from time to time growing up. In the past year I've realized that as a mother, I needed to not be so apathetic about my stance on religion and am now raising the kids to be secular humanists.
  4. Despite not wanting any more kids, or even really liking being pregnant, I think I will always miss it. Rather like a gestational Stockholm Syndrome.
  5. A few days ago Curt and I booked a mini-vacation to Vegas in February. Geekie brother and his girlfriend are going to meet us there...VEGAS, baby!

And my five adjectives, although I left out the obvious maternal one.
  1. Tenacious
  2. Weaning
  3. Sarcastic
  4. Introverted
  5. Protective

That was actually pretty cathartic, if you're feeling up to it please do your own and link me to them, I'd love to read them!

Monday, October 27, 2008

And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true.

Holy crap, she did it, again! The amazing Jen somehow, some way, managed to get not only a good shot of all 12 of us, but some beautiful shots of our little nuclear family. Okay, it's not really little.

And neither is Jen's gift. You can check out a few of our photos here at her blog. (bookmark it too, she's a hoot!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Make mine a Venti

Brett went with me the other night to take his friend back home after having dinner with us. (During which, by the way, the kid proudly proclaims "I'm failing English. I have a tennessee to talk too much." I think they share a brain.)

During a lull in the conversation I reach over and flip the satellite radio on and the station identifies itself as Sirius' Coffee House. It's a mellow station, a lot of acoustic songs and sounds not unlike something that would play in a dentist's office.

We listen to a couple of songs and Brett looks thoughful. "Ohhhh, I get it. The reason they call it the coffee house is because you have to drink the stuff to stay awake while you listen to this station."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Slow ride

Ellie, who is all girl and will steal your shoes as soon as you take them off, is also a bona fide motor-head. Anything with an engine and she tries to make the noise and then begs to get on it. So I guess I wasn't too surprised tonight when I turn around and found this.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Keeping it real

In the interests of full disclosure, I'm posting the kids school pictures from this year. I buy them every year out of a sense of guilt and duty, throw one in my wallet, but mostly I just file them away for future spouses to gawk at. I don't make the kids get all dressed up, there are certainly no bow-ties; but I do make sure they have something clean and decent on, and it's the one day of the year when I require Brett to wear a collared shirt.

This year things went a little differently. One morning a few weeks ago, I get a phone call from Michael in the office at school. He'd forgotten to tell me about school pictures, the order form was on my desk, did I see it?, and could I please run it up to him? I chatted with the secretary a minute to discover that Brett too was having them taken. It wasn't until after I got back home from running the forms up that I even gave what they were wearing a second thought.

And then the pictures came. Michael proudly tells me that he covered up the AC/DC tee-shirt he was wearing that day with his soccer jersey. A marked improvement, surely.

Brett on the other hand was wearing one of his many over-sized, obnoxious tee-shirts with something goofy written on it. This particular one looks like an eye chart and reads "Y DID YOU BOTHER READING THIS SHIRT". Klassy, surely.

And, I'd love to show you Lucas and Emma's pictures, but you see I totally forgot about their picture day and they didn't take any. They both brought home the order forms, I tucked them into my calendar, and that was the last thought I gave it.

2008 - The year mom sucked.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brettism Hump Day, Comic relief from the conceited

In a fit on insanity I succumbed to my mother-in-law's suggestion, and called the uber-talented Jen to come over and get another family picture. As soon as I opened my eyes yesterday I could feel the stress creeping up on me, figuring that I'd probably spend a good portion of the day with a headache and in a foul mood. When Brett walked in from school, I started him on his chores and warned him that I wasn't in the mood for any funny business. "Don't worry, I got this." he said.

Twenty minutes later he walks out of the bathroom, handing me the window cleaner and the rag. "Here mom, I cleaned everything off of the mirror but that handsome guy staring back at me."

When Jen showed up, we got everyone set up with the lighting on the couch and she started to snap shots. Naturally Evan just wanted to scowl, Elle to get down and run, and everyone else looked about as happy as if I'd told them we were all going out for root canals afterwards. When we finished one set I told the kids they could take a break and Brett jumps up. "Great, if you need me, I'll be in my trailer."

~ I'll be posting the proofs from the session as soon as I get them, if anyone could get a good shot of this motley crew, it's Jen!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Curt mowed the grass a couple of days ago and yesterday as we were pulling out of the driveway he turned to look at the yard and started to mutter under his breath. I glanced over and the tree in the front yard was literally raining leaves, there was a huge pile carpeting the ground beneath it. It was actually quite beautiful but I knew it wouldn't last, because it's only a matter of time before Mr. OCD-yard-care busts the mower out again to clean it up. When Evan went to play outside and gravitated towards the pile I grabbed my camera, happy to be able to capture them both.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin

Today Curt and I decided to get the younger two out of the house and head over to the local farm for a hay ride and to pick some pumpkins. I was kind of missing the older kids, who were with bio-dad, and as we climbed on to the hay bales and set off through the fields I started giggling thinking about a joke Brett had told me.

"There were these three robbers who were running from the cops and found themselves hiding out on a farm. The cops were catching up to them so the first robber told the other two to split up and hide among the farm and just to act natural. The first robber hid himself in a chicken coop and when the cops walked by he said 'Bwaack, bwaack, bwaaaack, bwack!' like a chicken and the cops moved on. The second robber hid himself with the pigs and when the cops walked by him he said 'Oink, oink, oink.' Then the cops walked by a big field of vegetables and heard 'Potato, potato, potato'."

Brett must have told me that corny joke three times last week, each time laughing a little bit harder at the punch line and each time I would giggle; not at the joke, but at Brett finding such bad humor so funny.

So riding across the farm today, in my head I heard 'Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumkin.' I'll have to remember to thank him later.

At any rate, the trip was a success and after much wandering through the patch Evan found the perfect little pumkin that he'd been looking for. I was suprised he didn't ask to sleep with it when we put him to bed.

Friday, October 17, 2008


A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a box of old pictures from my childhood and spent a good hour going through them. Strolling down memory lane, remembering people and places. I couldn't help but marvel at how much Ellie looks like me at that age, laughing at all of the bad hair and shag carpeting, and how geekie brother's smile hasn't changed in over 25 years.

Then I started looking a little bit more closely at some of the pictures. And I was struck by just how much times have changed. And that I made it to adulthood in one piece.

What, you didn't have a mega sized box of Marlboro cigarette's to play in??

Forget the bottle or the pillows, what I really used to love to nap with was a nice, accessible power outlet and cord.

Little known fact; most minerals can be attained by directly ingesting them via yard dirt. Bonus points for leaves as fiber.

Clearly this was before Oprah did the special on the dangers of mesh suffocation. And if you look closely you'll see my toes in the chair next to the playpen, either I was standing up there rooting Michael on, or getting ready to do a flying Wallenda on him.

"No, the Pall Mall's please. The Kool's leave too much of a menthol aftertaste."

Sitting on a box of Budweiser, surrounded by cigarette butts. Makes me wonder what's in the cup.

And my favorite, I believe Camel used this for one of their more family friendly ads.

Then on a lark, I started flipping through my digital photo albums.

And think maybe I'd better start fattening up the therapy fund for my six.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tag! 666-Damian approved!

I got tagged by the supa' cool Angie earlier today to participate in a rousing game of blogging photo tag. You go through your hard drive and select the sixth photo in the sixth folder, give a description and memory of the picture, and then tag six more bloggers.

I was a little worried about what I might find, a random blurry picture of Evan with his eyes closed playing outside. As it turns out the picture was of the fabulous florist-tanning-faxing-truck garage abortion of a business, the one where Curt in desperation sent me flowers from one year. The place that just screams "Yinzes in BUMFARK now!"

And in the spirit of the game (or half spirit of the game), I'm tagging Kate, JL, and Linda.


Spare tire

Brett wanders up to the computer desk, dressed in pajama pants for bed.

"I feel so fat without a shirt on." he says.

"What? You weigh like 23 pounds, how do you feel fat?" I'm incredulous.

"Because Michael and his friends at school say that I'm fat because I don't have a line and a keg on my abs."

"You mean a six-pack abs?"

"Yeah, whatever, something about beer and my stomach."

"Trust me when I tell you that beer will not help you in the svelte department, or in the live-to-see-adulthood department either."

He rolls his eyes. "I would never drink it. Man, you take everything so illiterately."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Brettism Hump Day bounces

Brett and I are finishing the dishes while Luke and Mike are sitting at the table, when Lucas loudly grumbles that he hates homework, math in particular.

"I used to hate it too Lucas, but then I found this cool trick. I look at a problem and I think 'I wonder what the answer is?' and then I guess. I think to myself, I think the answer to this problem is 10. And then when I solve it, if I was right, I do a little happy dance." Mike says, sounding very much like a cheesy motivational speaker.

Brett looks over at me and inquires somberly "Did you ever drop him?"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Concreted in Bumfark

One of the many things that this house needed when we bought it last year was a new walkway. We briefly debated doing a brick walk, but the sheer amount of precision and patience required quickly ruled that out and we decided to go with plain concrete. For two days Curt formed the mold for the walk, then filled it in with gravel. This morning the truck showed up to pour it, and his grandpa came up to help. It was actually really cool to watch, the two littles stood at the door for almost an hour and taking in the action, totally silent and engrossed. I think maybe we should pour concrete every morning, I'd almost forgotten what hot coffee tasted like.

I'm resisting the urge to go and carve my name in it. But just barely.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What happens when you investigate the erie quiet

Yeah, that Dustbuster in the background? Worth every cent.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

9 bushels + 13 hours = total blast

Every year Curt's grandparents host Apple Butter Day, and for weeks ahead of time they peel, core, slice, and freeze bushels of apples for the big day. Curt crawled out of bed at 5 to head down to the farm and help start stirring. The kids and I got there a little after 9, and except for a little bit of paddle work, they were a blur for the rest of the day. It's really one of my favorite days of the year, we have a big pot luck, sit around and just enjoy each other, and then jar enough apple butter to feed a county.

Mike and Tucker took a quick turn before venturing off into the wild green yonder.
This was the last I saw of them until they turned up dirty, shoeless, and starving. Ellie fell in love with Marley the puppy. So did Ellie's mommy, who then spent a good portion of the day trying to convince Daddy that Ellie needs one of those under the Christmas tree. Of course he had to counter with things like vacuuming hair, poop patrol, and all of the fun Ellie would have dumping the water bowl on an hourly basis. Scrooge.

I looked up and found Evan like this, nothing says redneck quite like riding a big wheel shirtless. And after 13 hours of stirring, it was finally it was time for the big bottling assembly line.
Brett asked if we could have pancakes again tomorrow and crack open 'some of that sweet fresh butter from apples'. Something tells me we'll need more pancake mix.

Won't you be my neighbor

Michael managed to pull his grades up and eek out passing scores just in time to invite his friend Tucker over to join us for the family's annual Apple Butter Day. They all woke up early and I was standing in the kitchen making pancakes, while the kids sat at the table and filled Tucker in on the joys of a whole day of running loose on the farm, stopping only for sustenance.

"Cool. My mom and dad had to let me off grounding for today so I could come." Tucker says.

My interest is piqued. "Why were you grounded Tucker?" I ask.

"For failing Bio. I wasn't turning in my homework." he replies sheepishly.

Brett looks up from his plate. "Welcome to the neighborhood, my friend. Where your neighbors are 'Un' and 'Fair'."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Guilty as charged

This week there have been a lot of discussions with Mike and Brett on responsibility and accountability, not coincidentally as mid-term reports came out. Both of them are failing to turn in work, even work that they've completed. As Brett rationalizes, "If I do the work, and I learn from it, and I pass the test, isn't that what's really important." And while I look forward to him filling out his law school applications to fulfill his true destiny, it's a bit like trying to get a square peg in a round hole getting him to accept that some rules have to be followed, just because.

He asked for the millionth time this week to be ungrounded and for the millionth time I turn the discussion back to his grades, and did he turn in the freaking draft to the report yet??

"Ugh. Yeah, yeah, I know. Anything I say can and will be used against me in the court of Mom."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Brettism Hump Day wants Starbucks

Since I've yet been able to talk Curt into installing a coffee station in the bedroom, most mornings it takes me a while to find my brain. Yesterday I blindly stumbled out into the kitchen, Ellie in one hand, my other searching for my coffee cup. My eyes were just starting to focus when I noticed Michael trying to sneak off.

Part of Mike's chores is to handle the dishwasher in the morning. Which he hates, as it apparently cuts down on his time sitting on the couch looking surly.

"Michael, don't try and slink out of here yet, get the dishwasher."

"Why do I always have to do it? This stupid freaking family and it's stupid freaking dishes. I'm tired of it!"

I hear Evan walking down the hallway crying, apparently woken up by Mike's yelling. This does not improve my mood.

"Poor, poor you. With the bedroom to yourself and the iPod and the later bedtime. Life can get a hella of a lot harder for you Michael, go ahead and try me. And if you wan to talk about tired, I'll share my list, like doing your freaking laundry, preparing enough food every night to feed an army, picking your nasty socks up where ever you decided to drop them, and having to stay on top of you to make sure you do the bare minimum. I get tired of doing things too!"

The whole time Brett has been sitting at the table, eating breakfast, very mellow. He pipes up.

"You're not tired of me, are you mom?"

I sigh, willing the coffee pot to work faster. "No Brett, I'm not tired of you."

"Good. Because I'd just gotten used to you and everything. Even before your coffee."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Kindergarten math

I glanced down at my calendar this morning and realized that it was Emma's day to shop the book fair at school. Next to her name I had penciled, $5, a reminder from last year's lesson learned.

Except, apparently I didn't learn it. Today when I looked in my wallet, I found only a twenty. Again. Last year I sent Emma off with a twenty dollar bill, figuring that since most of the books in the catalog were under ten dollars that I'd still get plenty of change back and she'd get to have her pick.

Only what she picked cost $15.95 and wasn't really a book. It was called Fashion Girls and was a cardboard tri-fold monstrosity. One side had a blank notepad for sketching her designs, the next a series of faces, all tramped up to illustrate the color lipstick each girl should wear according to her 'season', and the third side held *gulp* actual make up. After a little talk with Em, I threw the Britney manual in the trash and we spent 20 minutes perusing Amazon looking for a replacement.

This year, determined not to blunder again, when the catalog came home from school I sat with Emma and pointed out all of the nice books under five bucks. So this morning I frantically scribbled a note on the envelope with the money to her teacher and then went over the ground rules with Em.

"Here's the money in the envelope Emma. Do NOT spend more than five dollars. Do NOT buy a toy, just a book. If it's more than five dollars, DON'T buy it."

"Right. You said I could buy the Hannah Montana book, it's five."

"Yeah, I guess." I said, searching for an alternative that didn't require me to sing the Best of Both Worlds. "Unless they have the cool Fancy Nancy book we looked at."

"Yeah, and if that's five dollars I could buy that too!"

Monday, October 6, 2008

The alarm clock

Unfortunately Ellie inheirited her father's the-sun-hit-my-eyes-I'm-awake gene. At the tender hour of 6am, I used to be able to chillax with my cuppa tea on the couch and watch the news as she played quietly at my feet. Alas, Shiva the destroyer makes that a little hard these days.

The bonus is that with all of the noise she made with the pan and spoon, I didn't have to worry about rousing the rest of the grouches, they filtered down the hallway with their hands over their ears.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

You've lost that lovin' feeling

I'm sitting at the table helping Lucas with his math. Brett is sitting with us, eating his fourth piece of pizza.

"Man this is good. What's your secret ingredient?"


"Seriously??? There is honey in this?"

"Yup, in the crust."

"Wow." He takes another bite and chews slowly. "I guess I can tell. What is the secret ingredient in everything else you cook?"

"Love, Brett, love."

"Well, I'm not tasting that."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brettism Hump Day wants an epidural

I was going through a box of old photos when I look over and see that Brett has grabbed a small photo album from the pile.

"I wouldn't open that if I were you."

"Why not? It has my name on the title page, see right here?"

"Yes Brett, I know, I wrote it. But I'm warning you, you might not want to go through it."

"Well, can I anyway?"

"Yup, fair warning though."

He opens the book and on the first page I'm lying bundled up on a hospital bed, looking tired and hugely pregnant. He flips to the second page and comes face to face with his very graphic entry into the world.

"Oh my god!" He drops the book. "The blood! No wonder you get grumpy, look what I did to you!"