Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Last night we visited the nature center for their Solstice celebration.  Things were appropriately festive ...

... and the candlelit hike was fun, even if it was really cold and we didn't see any animals.

The fire looked great until it died down five minutes later ...

... but there were crafts and snacks to keep us occupied.

A few animals dropped by to celebrate with us ...
(whooooo's a little cutie?  the screech owl, that's who)

... and we even got to make our own Yule Log.  While Jason kept an eye on the glitteration of said log, I poked around the center looking for friendly animals to photograph.  My major coup of the evening?  I SAW THE MUDPUPPY FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!!!!! (and we've been coming here for four years now)

The mudpuppy may be a bit shy, but a bunch of the other animals were out and about, and some even seemed to welcome the camera.  A couple of the snakes even came over to the lens and sniffed all around it (through the glass) as though it was extremely interesting (or smelled like dead mice).  A couple of the residents even smiled for me.

Let us all celebrate the true meaning of the holidays

"Let me ask you. So your baby is born, and the first thing you do is put him in an open container filled with grain and covered in oxen drool? Does this seem reasonable to you?" 

This is why I should not be allowed to sort through my blogroll while eating cereal.  Anyone know how to get granola out of a laptop keyboard?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

They are losing their freaking minds

The cats are, that is.

The birds have finally found the feeder that I put in the yard back in November (way to be observant, guys!), and they're hitting it hard.  I put it in the front yard this year, partly to give the birds some cover in the bushes nearby, and partly because this way I can watch them while sitting on the couch blogging (ahem).

I also put the feeder there because it's right near the window where the cats normally hang out anyway - I figured it would be like Kitty TV.  When the first birds appeared, I called Zach over to the arm of the couch and pointed out the window.  Zach normally isn't Mr. Observant, either, and I don't know if I've ever actually gotten him to look at something I was pointing to ... until today.  Dude started barking his head off (yes, cats can bark) at the birds, and I thought he was going to launch himself through the window (which would have been problematic, since it's got a Christmas tree in front of it).  The initial flood of birds - maybe half a dozen female cardinals and a couple of house sparrows or house finches, plus a black-capped chickadee - went down eventually, and Zach regained his sanity.

Just now Bella finally noticed the birds, and SHE started barking at them, and she never barks at anything.  She pretty much ignores the squirrels and chipmunks (which Zach happily stalks and yells at through the sliding door) and hardly ever meows unless there's something wrong (like her food bowl being less than half full).  But she stood on the arm of the chair and yelled at those birds for a couple of minutes straight.  She's quieted down now and trying to pretend that she's resting, but I'm not fooled.  She's trying to figure out how to open the window so she can go get those suckers.

Good luck growing some opposable thumbs and bulking up enough to turn the crank on the windows, babe!

Now that I know the birds will actually come in this close to the house, I'll have to see if I can manage to get another kind of feeder out there.  Just having hulled sunflower seeds won't do it for long, not if we want to have more than two or three kinds of birds around.  I'm thinking of getting a feeder for nyjer seed to see if I can get a few more finches.  And maybe if I'm feeling really kind I'll get one of those suet/peanut butter feeders for the squirrels in the back.  At any rate, it looks like the Ohio Birds guide is out to stay, at least until we can recognize all of the usual suspects at the feeder.

How to tick off your sci-fi nerd friends

Show them this with an absolutely straight face:

Or perhaps this is more your style:

First person to show these to someone and have them patiently explain to them why these pics are "wrong" gets a present!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 Christmas Concert, or, "The Cute! It Burns!"

Friday night Liza's school had its annual winter concert, complete with performances from grades K-7.  I had expected to have to drag Little Miss Stage Fright there kicking and screaming, but apparently she's gotten over that, at least temporarily.  We actually had problems getting through dinner fast enough to make it to the school on time, because she insisted on telling everyone at the restaurant who spoke to her at all every little detail about why she was dressed up and what they were singing and how she felt about it and on and on and on.  I thought our meal would be cold by the time she shut up long enough for the waitress to serve the food :)

The rest of her class were pumped up, as well.  I have a dozen shots from before the show, and every single one of them looks like this:
Her class was pretty much populated by 40 small taffeta-wearing-or-sweater-vested rubber jackhammers on crack.  I'm not sure what the teachers did between when we left Liza in the band room and when she came on stage - it possibly involved large doses of pharmaceuticals or some sort of mind control - but she and the other kids were all well-behaved at showtime.

(that's the legendary Lewis to the right of Liza in the picture)

Their performance was as cute and earshatteringly awful as you can imagine.

Based on data we collected at the show, I'm pretty sure the ability to carry a tune develops sometime early in second grade - the K's and first graders preferred to just shout theirs at the tops of their little lungs.  And by the time the kids hit second grade, the music teacher is sick of having them shout at her, so she hands them all recorders and they honk in dissonant unison for a couple minutes.

I think my favorite moment of the whole evening was when one of the readers from the second grade announced that her "favorite things" (the theme of the show, and what selected kids from each class wrote and read to the audience) included her dog, her teacher, and her school "because I like to blow things up."

Ah, school concerts.  Next time: earplugs and a fully-charged iPod with a new ebook loaded and ready to go.  Doesn't Jason look like he could have used one or both of those to help him weather the evening?

If Liza looks less than thrilled there, it's probably because it was getting close to 9pm at that point, and we were moments away from bundling the limp-as-a-ragdoll performer into the car and heading home.  Well, actually heading to DQ for a celebratory Blizzard, but who's counting?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dear Posie,

It's official, I want to sell everything I own and recreate your decorating in my wonky little split-level in Cleveland.

And I want to borrow your dog every few weeks for a couple days, too.  That's okay, right?



Sunday, December 05, 2010

Post #1441, in which we are all festive and stuff

Snow!  Real snow!

Seriously!  Snow!  Okay, so it's not much, but it's enough to play around with.

Time to get the trees up, I guess.  Okay, chief, you're in charge of your tree this year.  Get to it.

Meanwhile, I'll deal with the rest of the decorations ... after I have a stiff drink.

Aren't you supposed to be decorating so we don't still have ornaments on your floor in February?  Schnell!

Okay, now help me fluff out the branches on the big tree.

And go outside and hang up all these ornaments on the trees outside.  What do you mean, it's not fun?  This is the holidays, darn it!  Decorate!

Ah, how I've waited for the time when she would actually be able to be useful around the house.  Now, if I could just teach her to make me some brownies and unload the dishwasher, I'd be happy.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

What do you call four in a row?

Do you prefer 4-bagger, cherry, or hambone?  Oh, wait, that's bowling, not blogging.

Whatever you call it, I managed to pull it off with NaBloPoMo!

A message for someone special

For: You know who you are

The popup you see when you mouseover the original comic reads: "Having a positive attitude is almost tautologically good for your mental health, and extreme stress can hurt your immune system, but that doesn't mean you should feel like shit for feeling like shit."

And if you haven't read the XKCD comics online, grab a cup of coffee and go check them out.  You won't be disappointed (although you may need to go back a couple of weeks to get past the guest posts and 5-minute comics).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Well, that was a line that I not just crossed, but jumped over with two feet

Two-page spread of cat photos for my Japan scrapbook - done.

I have become One of Those People ... only most of my pages look a little different than theirs.  Today, for instance, I had to text a friend from the scrapbooking section at Joann's to complain about the lack of appropriate supplies to go along with the shots of drunken farewell parties that will be taking up half of my scrapbook pages.  Come on, must everything be babies and weddings and school memories?  Where's the paper that shows a squid on a stick and a giant beer?  The stickers that say "Irasshaimase!" in bold all caps with three exclamation points?  Rub-on transfers with love hotel slogans? Anything with Charisma man???

Gee, maybe I've found a new underserved market ... Gaijin Scrapbooking Supplies!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Magnum Opus

No, not a really big one of these:

I'm talking about this:

She developed the plot, characters, and dialog.  I helped with spelling, she wrote everything down.  I suggested that some periods and question marks might be in order; she decided where to put them.  She proofread it and realized she had left out a word; I helped her erase and then write two words really small so it fit in the space of one original word.

And for clarity's sake, the cat is going to have "babies," not "badies."

I am so very, very, very proud.

Next stop: capital letters and quotation marks, followed by intents and paragraphs.  Possibly with a side trip through Prounounville.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Also, my cat sleeps funny sometimes

Yes, she regularly attempts to sleep with her forehead buried in the arm of the couch.
(Please to be excusing the crappy webcam photo, btw)

I, on the other hand, prefer to sleep like this:

What?  Can I help it if they missed me?  They'd just be scratching at the bedroom door if I tried to keep them out, anyway ...

Trust me, eat this

You know how someone will tell you, "Less is more," and you're all, "Screw that, I'm throwing another 15 ingredients into this soup because I know that one of them will make it transcendently awesome?"  And then the soup sucks because really, who wants creamy chili cheddar chicken soup with rice and noodles and cabbage, for God's sake?

This is not one of those recipes.

This is a recipe that is so good, I'm staying up late to write a real post on my last day of vacation.  Behold the many facets of its awesomeness:

  • It's got 10 ingredients, only two of which need to be chopped and one of which is optional
  • It can be ready in 20 minutes flat
  • It only gets two pots and a strainer dirty, yet it's not spaghetti
  • It came off the back of a bag of Pennsylvania Dutch egg noodles about 20 years ago, back when men were men, chili beef noodles were chili beef noodles and nobody east of California thought about putting seitan in anything
  • It's called "chili," yet contains none of those mealy little red beans that people insist on throwing into their otherwise perfectly decent recipes
Chili Beef Noodles

1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
16 ounces canned tomatoes
15 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
hot pepper sauce (optional)
8 ounces egg noodles

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef, onion, and garlic.  Drain.  Stir in the chili powder; add tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, and pepper.  Add hot pepper sauce to taste, if you like your food spicy.  Simmer 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, cook a whole bag of wide egg noodles according to package directions.  Serve meat mixture over egg noodles.

Serves 6

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wow! Keys that are larger than Chiclets!

I've been in a car for 9 hours, unpacked everything I own, eaten frozen pizza, and corralled my "spaceship Liza" into her "hibernation chamber" for the night.

And all I can think is, "I can type!  I can type!  I can type with more than my pinkie finger!"

Also, "God damn, is November the longest month of the year, or is it just because I have to blog every single day of it that it seems so long?"

Not to mention, "When am I going to get that blogging purple heart for doing NaBloPoMo from dial-up Hell and while driving down a highway and on a tiny little screen that's 2" across?"

And finally, "yawn"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Well, that's not something you hear every day

My daughter is watching a rerun of the Punkin Chunkin special on tv and trying to explain the difference between a trebouchet and a catapult - to her Pillow Pet. It's both cute and freaky, with the freaky possibly winning.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just another family holiday

My husband is trying to get my MIL's GPS to install on her laptop, my SIL is champing at the bit to use the laptop to update her fantasy football roster, I'm trying to blog with a keyboard that's 3" across, and my daughter? She's got her own traditions: Mythbusters Marathon! And if I could figure out how to post the link to my photo stream - oh wait, maybe this is it:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Really, whose fingers are this small?

I'm trying to be all techno-philic and post this from my iPod. Seriously, who has fingers small enough to type without ending up with massive typos? It thinks I should have said 'techno-phallic,' which would be a whole different kettle of fish. Wouldn't it, O Queen of the Magic Bullet? (That's you, Tab, since I can't figure out how to post links right now.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fun at the coffee shop

Today I took my husband to the local coffee shop so we could hijack their wi-fi.  He checked work e-mail and I downloaded new games for my iPad Touch, and it was a lovely date all the way around.

So, which games and apps do you like for the Touch or the iPhone or the iPad?  I'm looking for more time-wasters to load onto this puppy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Not sure where she had more fun ...

... at Longwood Gardens, playing under the ginkgo trees, 

... or playing in the river that runs through the empty lots down the street from my parents' house.

 Both were free today, so I guess it doesn't really matter, now does it?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Revenge is sweet

I may be spending my vacation helping my mother de-clutter her house, but at least I can get my own personal type of revenge.  

Internet - behold, my mother in her "boy haircut" phase in junior high school!

Luckily, her hair grows fast, so by senior year she cleaned up pretty nice.

Now, all I have to do is hide MY junior high school photos and make sure I'm the only one who knows the login for my blog editor ...

Saturday, November 20, 2010


We toured the Hagley Museum today, learning much about gears,

and grinding (and peeking through double walls that protected the factory workers from occasional grinding explosions),

and ginkgoes,

and gunpowder.

Much fun was had by all.  I can highly recommend dragging your offspring and spouse there, should you happen to be in Delaware anytime soon.  Plus, great gift shop!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Just realized this ...

... I never did post a badge for completing NaBloPoMo 2009.  So I'm doing it now ...

Visiting an old friend

It's been a while since we've been by to visit the tortoise statue, but today was a good day for it.

It was also a good day for spotting rainbows, courtesy of the beveled edges of the glass walls around the snack room at the museum.

This was one of 12 we could see from our table, including one that hit both a wall and a trash can that reflected it onto the floor - bonus!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My parents' cats are awesome

They're trying to kill my Hex Bug.  They have not succeeded.

My kid is also trying to kill it, but she's killing it with luuuuurve.  Guess what she's getting more of for Christmas ...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I swear, I can't leave him alone for 10 minutes

After hearing my husband say things like, "I need to be careful that I don't rush into buying a car.  I tend to nickel-and-dime little stuff and then buy big things fast just to get it over with," I was a bit reluctant to let him go over to the dealership by himself to have them assess the value of his trade-in.  Especially since "I guess I should get a new car before I have to go through the e-Check thing again in January" had morphed over the weekend into "I'd better hurry before all of the 2010 models are sold."

He test-drove some models, narrowed it down to the one he wanted, had me test-drive it, and decided that he got home early enough today to stop in and see how much they'd give him in trade for his Impala.  "You're not going to go buy a car while I'm ordering the pizza, are you?  You learned from the 'really awesome used Acura which you didn't notice had a bent frame until months after you bought it' incident of 1999, right?"

"No, I'm just going to have them look at the Chevy, and I'll be home for dinner."


Twenty minutes later, the phone rings.

"So, they're hitting me pretty hard here.  They offered me almost the maximum blue book value for my car and told me I can put down a couple hundred dollars in deposit and reserve one of the 2010s until I get back.  Should I stay here or come home?"


Five minutes later, the phone rings.

"When I said I needed to leave, they offered me $500 more for my car, and another $500 for some obscure rebate, if I buy tonight instead of waiting to start the paperwork when I get back.  What do you think?"


Five minutes later, the phone rings.

"How much do we pay for our mortgage every month?"


Five minutes later, the phone rings.

"Eight-forty, baby!  The lady's eyes just about popped out of her head when she saw our credit score."


Guess who will have a shiny new (red) Altima waiting for him at the dealership when he gets back from his business trip?

And guess who was sort of ticked to find out we'd missed the maximum possible credit score by 10 measly points?  If only I'd paid that $40 medical bill on time in 1998 ...

And guess who now has her eye on a Leaf to replace the LazyMamaMobile in a year or two?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oh, the shame

Yes, I did spent an hour of my life making little fabric hats to cover the jars of jam I'm bringing home for the holidays.  And now I'm wasting another hour trying to make cute labels for the jars.

ETA:  Screw that, I'm using cute ones I found here.

I'm such a dweeb.  But I'm a dweeb with kick-ass cherry jam!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I can't decide which is more awesome -

... his extreme concentration, or his pride in producing the lumpiest God's Eye I've ever seen.

... the four-foot God's Eye frame, or the fact that the three of them started working on it as a team with no prompting from anyone.

... that I get swarmed by hugging kids whenever I go into the kindergarten class, or that two of my elective students stopped to tell me how much they enjoyed today's class.

(And no, that's not Liza - she chose not to take my elective this session.  Wait until you see the awesome bobbly-headed turkey hat she made in her class, though - it's a humdinger!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Odd Meal From Our Fridge

Dinner tonight:
Leftover butter chicken, lamb ghosh, rice, naan, and kulcha
Brussels sprouts with butter
Pumpkin and sage linguine with butter and salt

And the kid had a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich.

Now I just have to manage to use up two heads of cauliflower and two giant squash before, um, Thursday.  Either that, or we're using it as ballast in the car on the way to Delaware ...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Well, that was an odd ending to the day

Tonight Liza spent the evening at school for a parents' night out, singing Karaoke and apparently eating anything that wasn't nailed down.  We didn't have distinct plans for our free time, so we did some early Christmas shopping scouting, had a nice dinner, and went to test-drive some new cars.  We stopped for ice cream, and with a little time to spare we started back toward the school.

Jason was driving down a busy street in a nearby suburban strip-mall-infested area when he said, "What the hell is that?"  He swerved around a bundle that was lying in the road, which we realized as we went past was an old guy stretched out on the ground across half of our lane.  He looked at first glance to be either very asleep or very dead.

Jason slammed on the brakes, pulled into the parking lot near the guy, and got out to see if he could help the man.  Several other cars stopped, too, and another couple reached him first.  Jason came back to move the car to block the lane so nobody would accidentally run the guy (or any of the helpers) down (yay, hazard lights!), and the other two people helped him gather his belongings. Hat on head, cane in hand, collapsible light saber stuffed down his pants (????), the man staggered to his feet, leaving a small pool of blood on the pavement where his head had been.  The couple helped him move to the sidewalk while a third stranger called 911.  While we left to rush back to the school, we saw the man talking - or maybe arguing - with the couple, apparently refusing to sit down and rest while waiting for the ambulance.

So, how was your Saturday?

Friday, November 12, 2010


Dude, if you're going to invade my space every time I sit down to work on my laptop ...

... I'm totally going to post stupid pictures of you on the internet.

Now, go get me a vacuum to get all your fur off my keyboard.  And stop snoring.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mathematical equation





(Li) Z (a)

As far as we can tell from the pictures, my genes can claim the numerator (eyes and eyebrows), Jason's genes can claim the denominator (lips, teeth, and chin), and we're split over the territory near her nose.  He gets body type (including whacked out toes) and I get hair.  Guess that's a pretty even split, huh?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One of those days

Did you ever have one of those days when you planned to do nothing but clean the house, so you put on junky clothes and pulled your hair up out of your way in a dorky hairstyle ... and then remembered you had an appointment, and ran out without changing or even remembering that you should have changed, and then caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and just about lost it?
Yeah, me either.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Open letter

Dear Mr. "My School is an Expensive Private School for Profoundly Gifted Children,"

Perhaps it would come across better at the preschool open house if you would put down your book and actually talk to the parents walking past your booth.  So that, you know, it looks like you're doing something worth that kind of tuition.

Not that I would ever be so uppity as to tell you your business.  After all, the people were walking right past your booth and stopping at mine to have a nice conversation and pick up some literature.

Boo-yah, Mr. I Have 25 Years of Experience Educating Gifted Children.

Sincerely, Mrs. Parent Volunteer

Monday, November 08, 2010

Did you realize ...

... that having a table at a preschool information night is practically the same as staffing the booth at a trade show, only you don't have to wear heels, and you're selling kindergarten instead of chemicals?  Oh, and people aren't such Giveaway Whores at the info nights.  I swear, send a normally sane person into a trade show and they will attempt to come home with at least one of everything that's not nailed down.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Loving the details

A beech tree in the sun ...

... a beaver's construction foreman ...

... and tiny, tiny little hips.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Because you can't have too many pictures of vegetables (especially cute ones)

When Mr. "Amish Vegetable Guy Whose Stand Is Next To The Meat Guy's Stand" told me I was welcome to pick through the containers to make sure I got the tiniest Brussels sprouts, I could have reached across the cauliflower and kissed his frighteningly bearded face.  Because my God, how cute are these guys?

And my God, do you have any idea how long it takes to clean and prep 3 quarts of these little beauties?  I'll let you know in a few weeks when I finally finish the job ...