Ponderings…

I wonder…

…where my glasses are.  I left them at the SIL’s house Thanksgiving.  They haven’t shown up. They’re probably at the bottom of a toy box by now.

…why mouthwash leaves a sweet aftertaste.  I keep telling myself there’s no sugar in mouthwash. I wish there was.

…why I always have one unruly eyebrow hair.

…why so many of my friends email, Tweet, and Facebook in capital letters.

…when the spirit of the season is going to hit me.

…why I can’t figure out how to change the f- stop on my Rebel.

…what to get my Secret Santa for Christmas.

…how the laundry multiplies.  It does not own reproductive organs.

…How a grown man can listen to the same Barry Manilow CD over and over without putting a gun to his temple?  Here, let me help…

…if anyone will get their cookie recipe to me in a decent time frame.

…why Zombiegirl has “coloring” assignments in her language class.  Really- the cornucopia should have been colored in Second Grade.  This is Italian, for Sixth Graders…

…how to combine all the leftover balances on my Metrocard.  I still can’t figure out those stupid discounts.

…why anyone is still interested in the Pioneer Woman. Her ” love story” is as exciting as toenail fungus on a Saturday night. Worse, her face is going to be plastered all over the Internets as her sheep flock to buy her book. Gads, spare me the slobbering hero worshipping, please?

…why I can’t remember what I’ve been wondering about all day. CRS, for sure.

…if I will fall asleep anytime soon.

************★*********************

A Happy Birthday shout out to Johnny!  Since I’m no longer on Facebook, I didn’t get to wish you a totally awesome day.  MR wanted to remind you something about going to Hooters? Anyway, we love you, Happy 22nd Birthday!

Black Christmas

Hello, cupcakes!  Here you are, checking in on me every day and not seeing anything new.  Shame on me!  I’ve been neglecting the bloggy while pigging out on Thanksgiving side dishes then nursing the family (and then myself) off the nasty stomach virus we caught from the  sister-in-law’s kids Thanksgiving day.  In the days before Thanksgiving I pulled my usual shit and over-stretched myself.  Was it really necessary to make nine pounds of sweet potato casserole?

(I did find an excellent sugar cookie and royal icing recipe.  The turkey cookies were too pretty to eat.  So if no one ate them, why did I bother?)

Thanksgiving is now over, and it’s back to normal for a few weeks.  Today is Cyber Monday- the supposedly biggest internet shopping day of the year.  The day we’re supposed to take advantage of all the great sales online and buy mucho presents for our loved ones.  After we’ve spent mucho money and precious sleep on Black Friday.

To buy that perfect present.  To make sure our kid has the best of everything.  To get the latest toy.

I was never one for getting out early (and it gets earlier and earlier each year) to go shopping on Black Friday.  I usually do all my Christmas shopping online- no tax and free shipping is a MUST.  The insanity of Black Friday never really hit home until Beena was told not to drive to her midnight shift at the store Thanksgiving night.  The line at the adjoining Toys R Us was lined up about 300 strong and the parking lot was a mess.

At midnight.

This is certainly insane, but somewhat understandable.  With a national 9.2% unemployment rate,  and an unemployed spouse of my own, I can understand the need to save on the toys and clothes the family wants for Christmas.  Santa can’t buy everything, you know.  Times are tough.

But here’s an idea.  It’s radical, I know.  Cut back on the gift giving.  It’s not necessary to buy everything on the kid’s Christmas list, is it?  Our kids are so spoiled as it is, why do we need to feed that materialistic streak that’s so ingrained in them?  Want…want…want.  Need…need…need.  When Zombiegirl asks for an iPad I look at her like she has three heads and one of them is spewing snot.  I ask her why, oh why does she need an iPad, and she never comes up with a good answer.  She asks me daily now, just to see that look on my face, and laughs.

That look didn’t stop her from making a “suggested” Christmas list of over 25 items.  When I complained about the length of the list, she pointed to the word “suggested” and looked at me like I had four heads and two of them were spewing snot.  Okay then, after the relatives get through with it, Santa has it easy.  One or two of the “suggested” gifts should be good enough.

Ahem.

On the other hand, Beena thinks her Christmas list is sad.  There were five modest things on it.  Personally, I think that’s pretty awesome- is she that content that she wants for nothing?  She honestly couldn’t think of anything she wanted/needed.

Until a week later.  She added: a car, a job, not to be in school anymore and a million dollars.

(Dream on, kid.  It ain’t that easy.  Santa don’t play that way.)

Playing the grouchy, grinchy part, I took a cue from last year’s Christmas card slaughter and I slashed my Christmas gift list.  It wasn’t too big to begin with, but there was some excess weight I was able to trim.  Never gave my kid a gift in return, even though I’ve given your kids for years?  Slash.  Totally self-absorbed and not a good friend to me or my family?  Slash.  Teacher gifts?  Even though there are more teachers in middle school than in elementary, I’ll be able to put together some candy tins instead of the Amazon gift certificates I gave every year.  Slash, slash, slash.  Save money by NOT having a Christmas party this year?  Slash!

I will still give to the family we adopted at work, and I’ll still buy toys for homeless kids.  Even in lean times, you still have to remember the less fortunate.

Other than that, it’s a bloody mess on my Christmas excel spreadsheet!  Hooray! 

 So I’m back, bitching and complaining.  Was it worth the wait?

But He Doesn’t Know The Territory.

Most of the singing was a little off.

The microphones cut out here and there.

The scenery looked like it would fall down any moment.

Some of the actors made sure they were front and center, even if they didn’t have any lines.

Friends in the audience yelling out the actor’s names was distracting and rude.

The play itself was old-fashioned and dated.

Yet…

The costumes were imaginative and colorful.

The lead actors didn’t forget any of their lines- and they had a LOT of them.

It took a lot of guts for the actors to sing a capella, kiss believably and play parts outside their gender.

The “families” were multi-colored and no one thought it strange.

The ensemble looked like they were having tons of fun singing and dancing. 

The WH Middle School production of “The Music Man” kept me just as enthralled for an hour and a half as if I was sitting in the best Broadway play.  For that amount of time, we were enchanted and touched (who cries at “Shipoopi”?  Rob does…), we cheered and jeered and sang along with the cast.  The tunes were catchy.  We’ve been singing them around the house for months.

Grandma and Grandpa came in on Wednesday afternoon to go with MR to see the “preview”.  Pop-pop, Kansas, Kendles, MR and myself had the pleasure on Thursday.  Rob, Beena and I saw the final performance on Friday.  As the week went on, the show got better and better.  Zombiegirl said it was better the last day because Marian and Harold actually kissed (they’re in eighth grade and now the talk of the neighborhood.)  I think they just felt more and more comfortable each day.  By the last performance, the cast, crew and managers were all either crying or screaming with delight.  Jessica and Ashley did a great job organizing and directing these sixth, seventh and eighth graders.  I know the kids who decided not to try out definitely felt they were missing out on something.

Zombiegirl, you were a great River City kid (the son I never had) and a cute Won Ton Yee Indian.  You’re a ham by nature (look at your parents!) and I know each year you’ll get a bigger and better part.  Go for it, kid.  If you pile up enough tomorrows, you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.

This play was definitely worth remembering.

Hope The Worms Don’t Turn

Shakespeare wrote,

“To whom do lions cast their gentle looks?
Not to the beast that would usurp their den.
The smallest worm will turn being trodden on,
And doves will peck in safeguard of their brood.”

I have firsthand knowledge that worms are too little (and slimy) to fight back against attackers.

You just have to flick them back with a stick.

Or paint them with salt.  They don’t like that.

If you do tread on them, they stay tread on.  Or dead on.  And squished.  I know because I stepped on them in bare feet.

We have to be careful around the worms.  They are more than just our new pets…they’re Zombiegirl’s science project.

When I was in school, it was always a chore to figure out what type of project to do for the Science Fair.  There was always the potato-acting-like-a-battery project and the music-affecting-plant-growth project.  One year I measured how fast carnations and celery sucked up blue water.  Another year Kathy, Caroline and I did fruit fly gestation and genetics.  The following year, Caroline and I raised and kept mosquitoes.  THAT was fun at feeding time…

It seemed we (I) weren’t too smart back then.

When the girls had to pick their projects, it was the same chore.  I remember one year Beena wanted to experiment on the effect temperature had on worms.  Her teacher nixed the idea- it was cruel to freeze worms.  Their projects were so uninspiring I can’t for the life of me remember any of them.

I dread Science Fair time.

Z-girl came home a few weeks ago and said she had to pick her topic for the fair.  My stomach clenched until she told me there was an online survey she had to do to see what topic was “right” for her.  She filled out about 30 questions and they gave her five suggestions, one of which was vermicomposting.  She was intrigued.

Wow.  I guess my ecological ways have rubbed off on the little one.

My friend Soulspeak did vermicomposting awhile ago, and I was intrigued about it back then.  Zombiegirl and I googled “worm composting” and watched a video on Youtube from the Compost Guy.  Yes, this would be doable.

I had to sign a waiver to Z-girl’s science teacher that stated I would pay for all materials and that my family wouldn’t mind the presence of living things in our house.  Hey- it’s all for science, right?  Bonus points because now I wouldn’t have to trek all my compostable waste out back behind the “barn” each morning.  I signed happily.

Once the teacher approved her topic, we set out looking for worms.  Seems the best worms are red wigglers and there are HUNDREDS of places you can buy a pound of worms on the internet.  Who knew there was money in worm farming?

A pound of worms, by the way, is approximately 1,000 wigglers.

We found the best price at Worms Etc.  Matt also has an excellent blog and is available to answer any questions.  His forum is up-to-date with questions asked by other newbie worms handlers.  I paid my $19.95 and we waited for the big day. 

In the meantime, Z-girl drilled holes in bins, tore up newspaper, broke down egg cartons (not the horrible styrofoam ones) and started weighing our kitchen scraps.  Her science question is: How much waste can 1,000 worms consume in two months?  She sprayed the bedding and the food with water and made the bins nice for her worms to move in.

Our guest arrived about four days later (they have to ship promptly so the worms don’t get hung up at post offices and dry out). MR and Z-girl introduced these little guys into their shiny, smelly new home.  Z-girl was promptly grossed out.  This is a kid that would pick up any bug and study it for hours but these little guys were way beyond her gross-out level.  She wouldn’t (and still won’t) touch them- she flicks them back when they try to escape with a stick MR gave her.  They dubbed it the “Science Stick”.  She “paints” a line of salt water around the rim just under the holes so they don’t cross it to escape.  But they’re quick, these guys.  We’ve lost about 20 of them trying to make a jailbreak.  Zombiegirl was concerned about the numbers, but I told her the pound of worms MAY have had more than 1,000 in it, so not to worry. 

Who’s going to count them?

They’re now munching away on all the leftovers we used to feed the dogs (except for the meat and milk products) and Z-girl keeps track of how much she throws in the bins.  Right before the science fair, the plan is to take everything out of the bin that wasn’t digested and weigh that to determine how much these worms pigged out on. 

We’re going to need more science sticks.

Update: MR just sent me a picture in an email.  Subject: Wrms.  This word really doesn’t need vowels, does it?

Gross.

502 in 1001

I was pleasantly surprised yesterday when I sat down to catch up my books on Goodreads and my 1001 Books to Read Before I Die list and I realized a book I took out of the library just by chance was on my list.  And- surprise, surprise- I liked it.

First, however was the required book, The Prime of Miss Jean Brody.  It was…okay.  I found Miss Brody insufferable and conceited at first, but then pity took over.  It was hard for me to read how she treated her proteges, calling them stupid and idiotic and describing their features in a most unflattering way, but I liked the dichotomy of issues in the book- the Fascist teacher in a liberal school,  good Christian girls talking about sex and love and romance.   Could I have died without reading this book?  Probably.  I was told that I should see the movie- Maggie Smith was awesome as Jean Brodie.

The other book on my list that I was unaware of was The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro.  I think I saw the Anthony Hopkins movie a long time ago, and I thought it was good, so when I saw the book in the library I picked it up.  This book I liked.  I was mostly intrigued that a Japanese author could write so eloquently about an English butler and his duties to his Master.  I found it terribly sad when Stevens (the butler) realized how much he lost living his life “correctly” (and for the purpose of someone else’s pleasure).  Seize the day, people.  Carpe diem.

Zombiegirl picked 502 off the list.  It’s The Ragazzi by Pier Paulo Pasolini.  More Italian drama.  As per Goodreads, “An unsentimental depiction of the poverty and chaos of life in the slums of 1950s postwar Rome, this novel follows Ricetto, an Italian youth, and his gang who survive by their wits, their cruelty, and their instincts for survival. Their lives are shaped by hunger, theft, betrayal, and prostitution, and they celebrate their triumphs with brutal abandon and die bleak deaths. This harsh world is portrayed with an understanding that humanity and even humor can exist amidst a hard and amoral society. A novel that caused a scandal upon its first publication more than 50 years ago, this new translation eloquently captures the gritty Roman slang of the Italian original and tells a story that still resonates powerfully to this day.”

Sigh.

Catching Up

Whew.  The last few days in October are always a whirlwind at our house.  If they happen to fall on a weekend, it’s even worse.  Besides Halloween and soccer games, there’s my nephew’s birthday and of course, Beena’s birthday.  I’m usually found finishing up Halloween costumes at the last minute as well as baking cupcakes and birthday cakes.  Going out dinner, visiting the in-laws, shopping for candy and scheduling Trick-or-Treating dates.  Maybe a party or two.  And carving pumpkins:

(MR’s Oogie Boogie)

(My Hedwig)

(Kansas’ racoon)

(Z-girl’s Flaming Skull)

It’s chaotic.

This year I decided to make matters worse by making cake pops for Zombiegirl’s soccer team.  I had it in my head to make enough for her team as well as the opposing team and all the siblings, probably 60 was a safe amount.  These are the infamous cake pops made famous by Baker-ella, whom after writing her cake-pop-book, took the instructions off her website.  Gee, thanks.  I’ve wanted to make these pops for a long time- they’re so cute and so damn easy, made evident by the sight of them around the WHOLE internets.  Almost every site I’ve visited in the last year or so has experimented in these bite-sized morsels.  Therefore it was easy to get the directions from someone else’s website.  Hah.  More than one way to skin a cat.  I’m not buying the damn book just to get this experiment out of my system.  I’ve made Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter cupcakes with FONDANT, for cracker’s sake.  What’s a few (dozen) cakey bally ghosts and pumpkins?

Okay, maybe I should have at least taken the book out of the library.

I followed the instructions for the ghosts and they came out absolutely horrible.  The frozen cake disintegrated in the chocolate and my tap-tap-tapping caused it to fall off the sticks.  My ghosts looked like they didn’t wash their sheets in a month.  I managed to salvage about 15 of the 30 balls I froze for ghosts and piped eyes and wrapping around the whole mess.  My ghosts were now mummies:

The pumpkins didn’t fare well either.  I now realize I didn’t use the right chocolate to dip them in.  Wilton chocolate disks, although pretty colorful, aren’t right for this project.  At least the dipping part.

I ended up with 15 mummies and 15 pumpkins- enough for the siblings on our side of the field.  The girls lost that game, but at least they had delicious (albeit ugly) cake pops to munch on the way home.

Saturday afternoon was dedicated to making cupcakes for Beena’s birthday (she didn’t want cake and she hates frosting) and the owl cupcakes I made for Zombiegirl’s Harry Potter Party.  I WAS going to make the owls for MR’s soccer team for Halloween (they’re the WH OWLS) but since I wasn’t going to the game it would have looked silly if MR brought CUPCAKES for these guys.  Kansas asked for a dozen of the owls to bring to work, so I split a batch of cupcakes between owls and Beena’s birthday.  I was going to hit Dad up for Mom’s white frosting recipe, but I found this and decided to try it.  Oh, yum- so good!  And it was easy- 10 minutes in the Kitchen Aid and it was done!  In fact at the nine minute mark I cracked up because the frosting puffed up so much it tried to escape the mixing bowl.

(yes, I made the cake stand too.)

Beena decorated them, we lit them on fire and sang.

Happy 22nd Birthday, Beena!

On Halloween, Zombiegirl and her friend were ready to go at 10:00 a.m., but I held them off until noon.  Even then people turned them away because it was too early or they just didn’t answer the door.  Really?  On a Sunday?  We got some kookie people ringing our bell- parents dressed up in costume and holding out bags right along with their kids and thirty-year olds dressed as knights going door to door.  The economy is that bad that adults have to go Trick-or-Treating too?

M’kay.

Zombiegirl shed her costume part by part as the day went on.  She doesn’t have her utility suspenders on.  She is a dead ringer for Hitgirl, no?

 

She’s even got the ‘tude.

So now that tumultuous weekend is behind us, it’s a fast slide towards Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Oh. Joy.

Hang on.

Psst…

No, I didn’t die (although I’m sure one or two of you would have liked that to happen…)  I’ve been stupid sick since Sunday.  I now realize I can’t work from home.  Or blog.  Too many things to distract me like bed, quilts, orange juice, soup, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Fabulous Beekman Boys, Halloween, birthdays, sore throats, worms and wallpaper.

Erm, yeah.  I’ll explain tomorrow, when I’m back to work.  I’ll have so much more time even though I have conference calls and four days of emails to go through.

Are you still there?