Friday, December 25, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Season to be Freezin'

It started snowing after we went to bed Friday night, and it did not stop until this morning around 8 or so. The result? According to the news, our area hit "the jackpot" in snow totals: 24 inches.

This is a view of our patio, taken from the back door.
Patio with 24 inches of snow!
I had the door open to take the picture, and there was a snow wall of about 10 to 12 inches of snow up against the doorway. The cat already had one front leg in the snow and was poking the other in, so I quickly snapped the picture and grabbed the varmint to pull him back in the house. Idiot feline.
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This was the view that Mathboy awoke to:
Mathboy's window!
See the snow up against the window?

Here's the office window:
Office Window
This is the second floor, folks. The snow accumulated on the front porch roof under these windows.

Rich did a great job digging out the driveway this morning:
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It's always hard to get perspective on the amount of snow there is from a picture. I mean, white is white. Maybe a picture of our neighbor's car will help:
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Or another neighbor's house:
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Catgirl was out for hours yesterday, while it was snowing pretty heavily:
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But the best part is this:
Aftermath
Warming and drying everything by the fire afterward.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Cheerleader marching in the Cold


One Cold Cheerleader
Originally uploaded by sydneycm
Catgirl marched in the Christmas Parade yesterday. Unfortunately, the weather was not too cooperative. It was in the high 30's and doing a rainy, sleety-type thing. Snow would have been nicer.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

'Tis the Season

It's December already! How the heck did that happen? Holy impending holidays, batman! Better get cracking with that shopping, and maybe some knitting. Nothing like the last minute, hm?

We had a great time on Kiawah Island with April, Mike, the kids, Grandma and Grandpa, and we even saw Aunt Tina, Uncle Frank, and Jeremy and his son. I have lot of pictures on the Flickr page, but here are a few:

The view from the deck in the morning. That's the pool in the foreground.
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Look how big all the cousins are now:
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Two generations:
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Manhandling Sammy the dog:
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First time fishing:
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Hope he doesn't catch any of these guys, photographed from the deck:
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Biking on the beach was great:
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fantastic!

I don't know about the rest of you, but in our family we get speech ... habits, I guess you could call them. We start to use certain words, and then use them more, and then more, and then too much. It's like vocabulary addiction, you might say; our tolerance for the word increases, leaving us inclined to use it more and more and leaving our brain less able to find a suitable alternative. Unfortunately, as our fondness for that particular word increase, as it seems to serve more of our expressive needs, the tolerance of those around us for the words decreases.

Accordingly, Mathboy increasing use of the word "random" in everyday conversation began to grate on my nerves to such an extent that I recently told him I would fine him 25 cents for every time he said it. My threat actually seems to have worked, as I notice the word coming out of his mouth much less often. He has become less random, so to speak, and I am less annoyed.

In a similar vein, I have noticed that my own word of the month is fantastic. Now, I haven't heard any complaints from my family about my overuse. However, I have noticed that, thanks to the versatility and sheer beauty of the word, as well as my penchant for sarcasm, I have been using it in all sorts of situations, and to mean a variety of things.

So, in keeping with my word of the month, I offer you a few of the Fantastic Things in our house this November. You can judge for yourself what fantastic means by the context.

1. Schools. Mathboy's got his grades this week, and they were fantastic. We were blown away, not only by the grades but by the way the teachers write at least a paragraph of comments. It's fantastic to get such communication from teachers for a change. Mathboy's school is also offering some scholarships for the freshman class next year, which is fantastic news. On the other hand, Catgirl's teachers have been assigning a fantastic amount of homework. This is especially fantastic, when you consider that I also need to reteach the day's math lesson every afternoon, before she can even start on the homework. We had to let her drop flute and the school band, because the idea that she would be able to do the required 30 minutes of practice each night (or gets marked down a grade) is utterly fantastic.

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2. Thanksgiving. The week after Halloween, Joann's was putting up all their Christmas stuff. Because of that, I got a fantastic deal on this turkey, and just had to share. I know he's ridiculous, and he doesn't really serve any practical purpose for us, but it tickles me to get seasonal decor in the season in which they are to be used for 80% off. Fantastic.

3. The annual drama over how to celebrate Christmas in my family was fantastic. I hope next year we can avoid this by not expecting too much from each other.

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4. Growing lettuce indoors. I will have baby lettuce to eat at Christmas, thanks to my fantastic planter and my recently added growing lightbulbs--fantastically cheap at Home Depot, who knew? This picture is actually a week or so old; the seedlings are a lot bigger already. I have chard coming up, too, and something else at the other end but I can't remember what I planted there. My memory is fantastic.

Snapdragon Tam 1
5. My fantastic Snapdragon Tam, in the fantastically gorgeous Dream in Color Classy yarn in Ruby River. Catgirl wants it. I'm afraid it might be too big for her, but we'll see. If it is too big for her, it will go to someone for Christmas, which means another gift done. Fantastic!

6. Taking Hairy to the guinea pig vet. Two words: Rodent lice. Fantastic.

7. Catgirl made the cheerleading squad at school. This involves sparkly cropped shirts and being thrown up in the air. Fantastic.

...I leave you with this, but I know there have been more. I may have to edit this post later. For now, I have to go to get ready for Mathboy's fantastic 13th birthday party this weekend.

Friday, October 30, 2009

You Gutless Pumpkins

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This morning I did what I had been dreading for days. I gutted the pumpkins. This is my least favorite aspect of Halloween. I am the designated Pumpkin Disemboweler for the household--neither kid is really old enough and Rich just doesn't have the time. This has been my job for years, and I don't really enjoy it. In fact, I dislike it so much that for then past few years I no longer choose and carve a pumpkin a pumpkin of my own--figuring that cuts down on the pumpkin scooping I have to do by 25%, right? Passive-aggressive mom that I am, last year, when I was working, I did not remind anyone that Halloween was coming and that we should carve the pumpkins soon. Halloween arrived and we had no Jack O Lantern, other than the pottery one Mom gave us several years ago. And the sky did not fall, it was not the end of the world. I got out of pumpkin scooping for one year, which was not a bad thing....

But this year, because of the lack of carving last year, Rich and the kids have been talking about it for weeks. Gotta remember to get pumpkins, we can't forget like last year. And so, this morning, I cracked out the big scary knife and the other pumpkin carving implements of destruction and I went at 'em. I was afraid I'd be out of practice, but I did great. 3 pumpkins, thoroughly scooped in about 30 minutes. It may be a new speed record for me. Tonight they carve; I sit. My part is done.

In keeping with the theme for today, I am making Spicy Pumpkin and Apple Soup for Dinner, and I have Harvest Bread going in the breadmaker. I am rocking on with my bad homemaker self today. Word.

In other news, look what Rich just got:
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It was the last one at Lowe's and it was half-price, and it unfortunately came without a manual. Rich and Mathboy are going to figure out how to use it so we can tell the lawn service to take their $230 per month in lawn-cutting charges elsewhere. Now if they only figure out how to get it started....

Seriously. Anyone have any tips? We had to push it into the garage.

Knitting: I have had serious startitis this month, starting no less than 3 socks. Maybe 4. There are toes everywhere. Here's the nicest thing I have going:
Midsummer's Night Socks
Midsummer Night's Dream socks from the latest Knitty, in Shibuiknits yarn. I totally love these. The yarn is great and the pattern is so much fun. I am already halfway down the foot on the second sock.

I also have a plain sock going for World Series knitting, the kind you can do without looking or concentrating, a second sock for catgirl, and the toe of another sock I started just because I really wanted to try the yarn. Goodness. And I have about 6 inches done on a wool baby blanket for Afghans for Afghans. Somehow I don't think I am going to make the deadline for the blanket. Well, I can always save it for their next campaign, right? (she said hopefully).

Did I show y'all this?
Colonnade Shawl 1
Colonnade, also from the latest Knitty, in Mmmmmmmalabrigo. I love it, although, if I could do it over, I would do the brown inside and the pinky-red for the lacy outside. This took, like, a week. Super-quick.

And I close with...
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The Birthday Girl fresh from the shower and snuggling by the fire with a few of her favorite gifts. The Justice snuggie, Garfield book, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid were from friends; Rich and I got the Yeti in Disney and sneaked it home in one of the suitcases.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

You know they're growing up when...

1. Their clothes won't stay on the kid-sized hangers anymore. I just had to buy 5 packs of adult-sized hangers at Target to keep all Mathboy's shirts (and some of Catgirl's as well) from ending up in a pile on the floor. Of course, it's not that he minds them in a pile on the floor, but, um, I do.

2. They aren't that excited to have their picture taken anymore, even to show the blog-nation how cute they look in a tie.
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3. They actually know how to tie a tie. Sigh.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Letting the Sleeping Cat Lie

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Not that I could have awakened him if I wanted to.

Isn't he cute?

Monday, October 05, 2009

October Miscellany

Well, we made it through September. Every year, our ability to just survive September becomes more and more amazing. There's is just so much to do. It's ridiculous. Once school begins, all the activities begin, the Back to School nights, the Back to School Socials, the homework, and various meetings and appointments. As Rich said last Wednesday--when we were supposed to have a soccer game, choir practice, karate, and Back to School night--"It's relentless."

As it happened, last Wednesday ended up being pretty light because of that common September Monkey Wrench, the kind that trumps all the activities and sports and appointments: illness. Yes, Catgirl was sick. All week. And I mean, all week. It was a seven-day'er. Last Monday, the school nurse called me at lunch: Catgirls was developing a fever, would I come pick her up? She had been totally fine that morning when we had to run for the bus, but was now miserable. She pretty much stayed that way until Sunday morning, yesterday, when she woke up fever-free and feeling good. It was just the flu, according to the doctor, which is the worst because there is so little you can do for it. But at least she's better now, just in time for October and her birthday.

October is so much better than September. I can tell just from looking at my calendar--there's only half as many things scheduled, for one thing. Wahoo!

I finished this scarf:
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Pictures can't do it justice. It's is splendidly squooshy, and destined for someone for Christmas, not sure who yet. Any requests?

I started a vest for Rich, in the same pattern that I used for one for Mathboy this spring:
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I've got a good way to go on this one!

I ordered our Disney Photobook from a website called blurb, using their free software to design the pages. Their software gave me a lot more layout options than Ofoto or Kodak offered. I'm actually a little frightened at how affordable it was. It should come next week. I hope it looks good so we can bore all our friends with it over the holidays!

The Phillies managed to make it to the playoffs again! Yay!

Holiday Insanity Begins! This morning I drove Catgirl to school because, after being out for a week, she had too many books to carry on the bus. She also needed her flute and music stand for today, and there was a school project that was due Friday. I think we had about 100 pounds of stuff we needed to get to school. There was no way she could take the bus.

After I dropped her off, I went to Target, and figured I would get the Halloween candy while I was there. I was roaming the Halloween aisles, enduring the recorded screams and cackles from the weird animatronic witch and cauldron display, when I happened to glance around. Our Target apparently has decided to get a jump on the Christmas season, and they have already filled many aisles in the holiday area with Christmas cards and decroations. The candy aisles were side by side with displays of boxed Christmas cards. I took a closer look at the cackling witch-robot-thingie, and saw that she was surrounded by a display of Christmas lights. No, they were not Halloween lights--a ridiculous invention that a few people in our area hang--they were honest to goodness Christmas lights. Once I noticed it, it looked truly bizarre. And to have the screaming witch sound effects playing loudly as I looked at Christmas stuff was just ... wrong.

I am sure that, as the candy and the Halloween costumes sell, the Target staff will fill in the empty spaces with more Christmas stuff from the back. It will be a slowly morphing holiday season, from Halloween directly to Christmas (forget about Thanksgiving, there's not enough to market in that holiday). Hallo-Christmas? Whatever, it made me very unconfortable. I hurried to find the Mike and Ikes the kids had requested so I could get out of there (by the way, why do they care what candy we buy to give away? They're not getting any.).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Changes

I would like to say a few words in farewell to ...
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My nano. Sigh. A week or two ago, it suddenly died. I did not realize how much I used it and how much I relied upon it until it wasn't there anymore. Oh well. I have replaced it with this glamourous toy:
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My new ipod touch. So far, we are still becoming acquainted. It's quite a change from the nano, and I am not sure about it yet. It is quite a piece of equipment, though.

I finished the socks I started this summer, and they look great. The pattern was driving me crazy with boredom by the leg of the second sock, but the yarn was loads of fun.
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These are the Lace Rib Socks from Wendy's new book, Socks from the Toe-Up, and the yarn is K1C2's Ty-Dy Sock in Blueberry Fields. The color changes are pretty wild, but the yarn is so soft and very nice to knit. There was tons of yarn in this skein, I still have a lot left over.

I give you ... Baked Apple Muffins.
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We were in a baking mood today. Yum!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No, this is not the Bayou

This is New Jersey. It's pretty much one big suburb. But in our corner of New Jersey, bordering on the Pinelands and boasting a good amount of farmland despite the encroaching McMansions, I am so happy that we still get to see so much wildlife. Well, Rudolph would probably be happier if the wild turkeys would go elsewhere. But we all love these little guys:
Frog 1
This dude had the misfortune to be crossing our front path as I was taking the garbage cans out the other night. I caught him rather easily, and then everybody wanted a turn holding him. After dazing himself by repeatedly leaping out of our hands and getting re-caught, he finally sat quietly on Catgirl's hand for a while, before trying to climb up her arm.
The Frog and My Princess
Mathboy ran to get the camera and was our Frog photographer. After snapping some pix, we deposited our buddy in the grass and watched him hop away.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

First Day of School '09

First Day of School '09
And off they go. Mathboy looks little nervous, and he did still feel somewhat under the weather, so I hope all goes well!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A Magical but Exhausting Trip

Our First Night at Epcot
The books are not kidding when they say that a trip to Disneyworld is not a relaxing vacation. We returned Sunday night from our Disney extravaganza, and today both kids are laid up with colds, trying to recover before school starts tomorrow. But it was worth it because we had a great time. We hit each of the Disney parks at lest twice--and Epcot at least 5 times, because that's where the good food is! We also spent some time at the Universal Studios parks as well.

Gotta love the Cinderella Castle

Although it was very hot some days, it turned out to be a good time of year to go: the lines were extremely short most of the time, and the crowds weren't bad at all. Two or three times, we took a break in the middle of the day to go back to our hotel and swim, and then went to a different park for the evening (usually Epcot).

Before we left for this trip, Catgirl had repeatedly stated that she would not be riding any scary rides. It was a little frustrating for Rich and me, because we had visions of waiting in line for the teacup ride again. Oy.

On the first full day, we went to the Magic Kingdom, and Catgirl consented to ride Splash Mountain with us. This ride, in particular, was the one she had said for months that looked terrifying. She absolutely would not ride it the last time we were in Disney and she said she wouldn't ride it this time either, so we were pleasantly surprised when she changed her mind at the last minute. It's a great ride, with the whole Song of the South story and all the music, and the fall into the briar patch is awesome. We were so sure that she would enjoy it if we could just get her to try it. Well...
Splash Mtn from afar
Splash Mountain

...she loved it. And at that moment, a crazy Disney thrill-ride-seeker was born. After that, she wanted to go on everything. The Rock N Roller Coaster. The Tower of Terror. Summit Plummit, at Blizzard Beach (a five-story water slide, which you descend at about 50 mph, no tube). Dinosaur. Mission Space. Soarin' (one of our favorites). You name it, she and Mathboy were raring to go. Catgirl even wanted to ride the Hulk in Universal, but she did change her mind at the last minute about that one, and we did not blame her. Here is The Hulk, all seven loops and corkscrews of it:
The Hulk, Universal
Yikes. Once was more than enough for Rich and me, although Mathboy could have done it all day.

Here are Catgirl and Mathboy in the front car of Expedition Everest:
That's us in the Front!  Expedition Everest, Animal K.
I wish you could see them better, but trust me that they are there. The kids rode Everest six times, in the front car, the back car, the middle. Catgirl, Rich and I prefer the front, Mathboy likes the rough ride you get in the back. Man, that one is an incredibly good roller coaster. If you are in the front, or close to it, you get a tremendous view of Epcot and everything around there from the top--at the point where the Yeti has ripped up the tracks and you have to go back down through the mountain backwards, in the dark.

The Disney Imagineers should be really proud of Everest. Not only is it a great ride, the mountain they built for it is beautiful.
Mount Everest, Animal Kingdom

On the first day, as we were waiting for the Magic Kingdom to open, Rich bought Catgirl new mouse ears: Pirate Princess ears, with a pink kerchief. They were a riot, and they got her noticed by "cast members" (Disney-speak for their employees) all over. She got picked out to participate in the High School Musical street show, the Flights of Wonder bird show, the Monsters Inc comedy show, and all sorts of things. We also think her ears got us chosen to be the first family allowed into the Animal Kingdom on the day we went there. They gave us noisemakers to shake at the opening countdown and announced our names...
We get to Open Animal Kingdom!
...and we were able to race to the Safari so we got the first ride to see all the animals of "Africa." There was a lion. :o)
Lion in the Grass, Kilimanjaro Safari, Animal Kingdom

Just like our last visit to Disney, we all agree that we like Animal Kingdom the best of all the Disney parks. Beyond the fact that it has Everest, the whole park is so beautifully designed. I love the Tree of Life, and the design details on the walking trails are just amazing. Here's a meerkat standing guard on the Maharajah Walking Trail:
Meerkat Standing Guard 2, Animal Kingdom
And look at the awesome digs this tiger has:
Tiger Has Gorgeous Digs, Animal Kingdom

And here is the Tree of Life:
Tree of Life, Animal Kingdom
Clearly, this is no average zoo.

Well, I have many more pictures at my Flickr page, including some great pix of Universal. For example, here is one of Catgirl in Seuss Landing, at Universal Islands of Adventure, which we all really enjoyed.
Catgirl chooses Moose Juice, Thank you (Universal)
Go on over to Flickr to look at, oh, maybe another 150 pictures, if you like.