Friday, October 17, 2014

Wherein I Don't Even Mention Ebola

Friday? Already? Look, people, what the heck is going on here?  One second it is Tuesday, and I am boasting about canning some applesauce; and next thing I know, it is 3 DAYS LATER.  Has the space-time continuum been collapsing inward, or what?

At this rate, I'll be 80 years old by Wednesday, I swear.

We have some pumpkins now.
You know what a good friend is?  A good friend is someone who volunteers to take your 2 girls to the local fall farm festival for 4 hours when she notices that you are on the verge of a nervous breakdown because you need to accomplish 3 billion small and discrete tasks before heading off on a trip the next day.  I'm thinking I sounded a little frightening on the phone, babbling about snowplow contracts and hair appointments and Party City, all in one breath.

But I feel better now.  New haircut, snowplow contract signed and mailed, and heck, our hotel in NJ is right next to a Target - I can find party tablecloths and plates there.  Breathe.  Just breathe.

Of course, I am looking at 4 1/2 hours in the car tomorrow with 4 kids, one of whom has been down with a stomach bug all day today.  He definitely gets a window seat, I'm thinking.

Time for some shut-eye, as Larry keeps threatening to wake me at some ungodly hour in order to hit the road early.  I've packed my knitting and our Harry Potter audiobook, so I'm ready, right? We are heading up this weekend for the unveiling of my father's tombstone (it's a Jewish thing), followed by some awesome deli food and then another 4 1/2 hour drive home. Sort of like speed dating, only more stressful.

Enjoy your weekends!  Relax for me, will you?

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Apples To Apples

Victory is mine.  For the first time in maybe a decade, I have managed to get some of my homemade applesauce jarred and into a canner before my family can eat it all up.

Yet more preserves artistically posed with fresh fruit...

I peeled apples all day for those 7 little jars of sauce, you know.  I read online that 21 pounds of apples should result in 7 QUARTS of applesauce - I used at least that amount and ended up with only those 7 pint jars plus another 3/4 of a quart that my family got their hands on.  Meaning, my yield is only a little more than half of what it should be.  I don't know what I am doing wrong here.

I am currently reading a memoir called A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story.  It's written by someone who grew up in Afghanistan during the late 1980's and 90's.  Let me tell you, it has made me even less sympathetic toward any complaints emanating from my offspring.  Brian had the temerity to make a face when I told him to take out the garbage tonight.  "Listen," I said, "it's not as though you have to dodge sniper bullets in order to reach the trash can."

I don't know why that kid always looks so confused when I talk to him.

Signing off here, folks - I have to try to get to bed before midnight one of these days.  The menopause fairy seems to have doused me with extra insomnia dust lately.  As if my face isn't looking haggard enough...

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Spin Me 'Round Like A Record, Baby

Happy Columbus Day! Susie threw up last night, maybe to express her gut revulsion toward our honoring a conquistador with a federal holiday.  Pretty politically savvy for a nine-year-old, but kids these days...

Costco-sized pretzel container - very handy
So today has been all soda and pretzels (no beer) and hunkering down with school work and making yet ANOTHER crockpot full of applesauce, which batch might just make it into the canner before we eat it all.  Or not.  I haven't been able to get around to canning applesauce the past 10 years; I don't see why this fall should be any different.

Larry declared today FIX ALL THE CARS Day and has been shuttling our fleet of minivans over to the nearby garage to have oil changed and whatever the heck else they do that ends up costing us close to a thousand bucks a year.

We like to support the local economy, so it all works out.

Oh, and here's a picture of my latest Amazon purchase:

You're all jealous of my mad photography skills, I can tell.

No, I am not talking about the warehouse-size bottle of tabasco sauce; look at the lazy susan underneath it. LOOK AT IT! No more having to ask people to pass the salt or otherwise communicate in a civil manner at the dinner table. Now we can just spin that thing like a big ol' roulette wheel and hope that it lands with the Sriracha sauce facing the right person.  Vingt-et-deux, ladies and gentlemen! Vingt-et-deux!

Yes, my children are apparently incapable of uttering such common niceties as "Pass the salt, please." Also, they insist on referring to this item as a lousy susan, because that's what Ricky Ricardo calls it on the I Love Lucy show.  Noble savages, we call them.  Or not so noble, actually...

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Whack, Whack, Whack, MISS

Yesterday?  I drove.  I drove David to community college, and then I drove to a friend's house to pick up Brian and a friend from their study group.  Then I drove that friend home.  Then I drove to another friend's house to pick up my girls (I had driven them there earlier for a mosaics class), and THEN - instead of heading home - we drove to the shoe store to find dress shoes for the girls, because Brian's Confirmation is tonight.

I live in this now, apparently
I spent, in all, probably 2 hours just driving yesterday, because later I had to pick up David from school and take HIM for dress shoes (I don't know about you people, but it is a tradition here that any fancy occasion triggers the we-don't-have-dress-shoes-that-fit syndrome).  Luckily, we experienced the Miracle of Kohls and found him shoes that both fit and were appropriate for the occasion. Plus, the cashier gave me 20% off.

So! Despite all the driving, I felt proud of myself.  I GOT IT DONE.  I whacked those moles, as it were, and could sleep the sleep of the just.  That is, after I finished cutting out the 100 cloth circles I had promised our Girl Scout leader, for the re-enactment thing-y the girls are doing on Saturday at some local historical place.  No worries - I got that done, too.  I felt good.

That is, until today, when I announced to my Girl Scout leader friend my success with the cloth circles and she asked me, "Did you ever sign up for that Fall Fun Fest you said you would take our girls to?"

"Was that for today?" I asked, panic rising into my throat at the thought of everything I had already planned to do today.

"Oh, no, it's next week," she said.  "But the registration deadline was last Friday."

Smells vile - do not buy

Well, that was one mole that went unwhacked, I guess.  Who knows what other balls I've dropped?  Who knows how many other promises I've made that will not go unbroken? At least my friend, well acquainted with human fallibility in general and my personal fallibility in particular, was willing to forgive and forget.  Or maybe she just didn't want me to give up on those cloth circles?

Hey, I even made some handmade potpourri to go in them, once I discovered there wasn't any potpourri in Michael's that didn't smell disgusting.  That's something, right? Right?  Whack.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014


Just popping in to let people know I am still alive, just life is kicking my a**.  It's a non-stop game of Whack-a-Mole, and I don't foresee its stopping any time in the near future.  Maybe when Brian goes away to college in 3 years or so?  One can hope.

This looks like fun, but it isn't.  Not at all.

We're in the middle of David's college and National Merit Finalist applications, with all the concomitant requirements and deadlines.  This is stressful, very stressful.  Brian is quickly turning into a disenchanted teen, and the loss of his cheerful countenance pains me so.  Rachel is engaging and cooperative and cheerful, but all I can think is "I've got one more year, max, before this changes."  And Susie, praise be to God, has truly caught on to reading and has been holed up for the past 2 weeks or so in her freshly painted room with the Harry Potter series.

A side note here: scientists did a study where they took identical twin babies and let one (the control, as it were) figure out how to crawl up a flight of stairs on its own while they trained the other one intensively on how to do the same thing.  Both babies learned the skill at the exact same time anyway.

This didn't work for us.
Why am I sharing this with you? Well, my oldest (Theo) was the only other really late reader in our family; I pretty much let him be until I saw him picking up books and trying to puzzle them out, at which point I did some intensive phonics with him for maybe 4 or 6 weeks.  He learned to read at the age of 9 years and 3 months.

But for all these years, I've wondered whether or not I should have been pushing him sooner, doing more phonics, etc.  Maybe I had done him a disservice by being so laid back about the whole reading thing.  So along comes Susie (aka Guinea Pig #6), who also seemed to have no desire to read on her own.  Oh, I worked on that child, people.  I tortured her with phonics lessons for 2 straight years, but guess when she finally took off with the reading.  Anyone?

That's right - 9 years and 3 months.

Where was I?  Oh, yes, Whack-a-Mole - despite the craziness that is my life right now, I decided that I have lost the habit of reading real books and magazine articles that are longer than a page.  I set a new goal for myself of reading my New Yorker cover to cover (instead of just glancing at the cartoons and then misplacing it) and also reading an entire book each week.  I know! So 20th century of me, right?

I started with The Handmaid's Tale (by Margaret Atwood).  I knew the book was some sort of dystopian story, but people - I was so depressed at the end of it, I could barely convince myself to get out of bed the next day.  I'm unloading it on PaperbackSwap if anyone is interested (friend me - I'm suburbanmama), just to get it out of the house.

I decided to follow that up with something inspirational and tried The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. It was an excellent antidote, and it also made me realize that, if David had been born in Malawi?  He would have been the one supplying his entire village with power by building a windmill out of scraps from the town junkyard.  It almost made me feel guilty for not letting my resident tinkerer junk up his room more - who knows what he would have invented by now?

I have more to share (I met another blogging friend in person - I'm on a roll!), but it will have to wait until tomorrow.  I've got to go pick up my mallet again; these moles are getting out of control.

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