Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Obi Wan Kebaby using the Force to try to snitch the candy.

(He pulled that chair over there from across the room - too funny!)

Happy Halloween


Look who I just met as she and her husband rolled through town! Frequent commenter and fellow blogger Bev!


Haircut + sucker = 5 o'clock shadow on the baby.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Furnace Woes

It's funny how things always break on the weekend, isn't it?  When we returned home from Chicago our furnace wouldn't light.  The blower comes on, but it doesn't go "foomph!" and the air coming out of the vents is cold.  BJ changed the filter and punched it like the Fonz, but it stubbornly refuses to light.

We have a small, wall-mounted heater and a fireplace, and it never got below 60 in here, so we decided to avoid the weekend rate and wait until this morning to call the repair service (they'll be here in an hour).  The kids and the dog have enjoyed sitting directly in front of the wall heater.  And if they get too warm, they can go outside and sit in front of the electric meter, which is spinning like crazy with the liberal and inefficient use of the heater, creating a strong breeze.  The neighbors behind us probably won't have to rake their leaves.  They'll all just blow away from the spinning of our electric meter.

Anyway, being without heat for a couple of days makes me worried for the folks in the path of Sandy.  I checked out some of the coverage and predictions this morning and it looks pretty scary.  If you're reading from the east coast, I hope you have lots of food and booze, and that it isn't as bad as they're all saying it will be.  In fact, I hope you get a couple of bonus days off from work and school and a nice, gentle rain.  Be sure to remember to check on elderly and infirm neighbors if you're able.

It's worth noting, with just over a week until the election, that Governor Romney would like to eliminate FEMA and make disaster management a state - or better yet private! - responsibility.  He also would like to remind you that if your house is destroyed by Sandy, you can always live in one of your other houses.  Because he thinks the middle class makes about $500,000 a year, don't you know.

But even if Mr. Romney gets elected, don't panic.  Like most of his positions, all you have to do is wait 15 minutes and he'll change his mind.

(This post has been brought to you by the Committee to Annoy My Aunts and Uncles)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gnomeo and Juliet

One character in Gnomeo and Juliet calls another an "illiterate."

MG: What's an illiterate?

Mom: Someone who can't read.

Claire: I'm an illiterate!

Mom: An adult who can't read. Claire, you're a kindergartner. That's different.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bitch on the Train

Amy: if my husband helps, can we put some of your stuff up on the shelf above so my son can sit on the seat?

Bitch: no. I have suitcases all the way through. There are plenty of other seats.

Amy: we're a family of six trying to sit together.

Bitch: that's not my problem.

I'm going to let Jack get potato chip crumbs all over her crap. I hope someday you travel with children, Train Bitch. And I hope when you do that people are nasty to you.

Almost everyone else in Chicago was delightful, though, and we had a great day. We are all exhausted, which is probably why I can't just let the Train Bitch's comment slide. Maybe Jack will get motion sick and puke all over her stuff. That would be perfect.

I'm gonna squeeze him.


Less terrifying in theory.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Glow Stick PSA

It's Halloween, and glow sticks are everywhere.  Kids love them.  But.

CONvergence Glow Sticks

Glow sticks have glass in them.  That popping noise that you hear when you activate it?  That's the ampule of glass breaking inside the plastic tube so that the two chemicals can mix and glow.

This means that you should NEVER activate glow sticks and then dump them in your baby's bath (no matter what Pinterest says!).  You should NEVER let children or babies chew on glow sticks.  You should always proceed with extreme caution if a glow stick breaks.

One of my scouts was activating a glow stick on the way back to school from our meeting tonight and it burst, sending shards of glass and chemical into her left eye.  Thankfully, I'm good friends with her mom and I had her number in my phone, so I could get in touch with her immediately.  We met my friend at Urgent Care and the scout is going to be absolutely fine.

I have spent the last half hour updating all of my scouts' parents contact info in my phone so that if (knock wood) something happens to someone I haven't known since she was an infant, I can get in touch with her parents right away, too.

Tonight Mary Grace said, "Daisies is complicated, especially when you're the leader."  True story.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Doing It All

I kind of do a lot of things.  I have three young, active kids, a workaholic husband, and a puppy.  We own our own business.  I am the erstwhile president of a fledgling neighborhood association and I'm leading or co-leading two Daisy scout troops.  I write here.  I write elsewhere.  I do a lot with and for my friends and family.  I volunteer quite a bit of time for the kids' school.  And people often ask me (and I'm not saying all this to toot my own horn, I do have a point...) "How do you do it all?"

Two answers:

1) I have a lot of help.  I have a network of available and willing babysitters, including a grandpa who lives right down the street.

2) I don't watch TV.  I would guess that I average a total of an hour of TV a day, and most of that is when my husband turns on The Daily Show before bed.  Occasionally we'll watch Saturday Night Live, or I'll watch CBS Sunday Morning (that I've recorded) while I'm folding laundry.  Sometimes I watch The Big Bang Theory or Doctor Who, but most of the time if I have a choice, I'd rather listen to a podcast or watch a movie.  (I'm an absolute podcast addict - The Moth, Radiolab, This American Life, The History Chicks, all the How Stuff Works ones.  Love).

No one can "do it all" without help.  You have to be willing to ask for (and to receive!) help.  Sometimes you have to be willing to pay for help.  I try to barter for help when I can ("you watch my kids, I'll watch yours,").  Help is essential, because no one can be an effective parent alone.  It's really just not possible.  Stop trying, you're killing yourself.

And TV is just a colossal waste of time.  There's nothing good on, anyway.  You'd be amazed at how much you can get done when you turn the damn thing off and start living your life.  I was flipping through People magazine today while Mary Grace was in the dentist's chair, and I was astonished at how few of the celebrities I recognized.

I think that's a sign of a life being well-lived, don't you?

How do you "do it all"?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Corn Maze

At the corn maze/pumpkin patch with 11 Girl Scouts today. It's going really well! I haven't lost anybody!

Friday, October 19, 2012


Dear Karen,

Eight years ago, when we were both pregnant and I was going through one of the worst bouts of anxiety and depression that I've ever experienced, fate led me to you.  And somehow you saw through the hot mess that I was, then, and liked me anyway.

(We didn't take pictures then).

Knowing that no matter what happens, you are always there to share my laughter or dry my tears means the world to me.  You are one of the most generous and thoughtful people I've ever known.  You give much of yourself, and ask little in return.  It's always so much fun to be with you - whether it's a carefully planned party or just hanging out with the kids and the husbands.  I cherish our relationships with each others' kids,

and our kids' relationships with each other.

What a gift it has been to always have someone who was going through the same phase we were to help me keep perspective and stay sane!  How fun to have seven kids to love, instead of just my three.  How cool that our kids are growing up with each other and love each other like siblings.  Your family has become my family, and mine yours, and that is special and rare.

Honestly, this town didn't really feel like home to me until I met you.

I am so blessed to be your friend.  I love you like a sister, and I am so glad you were born.  Happy Birthday to one of the most beautiful people I have ever been blessed to know.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oh, Irony

On the day when I post about worrying about Claire because they're on lockdown at the school she's visiting, I'm featured on Free Range Kids writing about the emergency notes that parents are being asked to write for their kids.

Oh, the delicious irony!

The thing is that because I am a free-range parent, I didn't go rushing to the school to pick her up.  I trusted the teachers and the administrators to keep her (and the other kids, many of whom are precious to me, all of whom are precious to someone) safe.  I faced my fear, mostly by writing about it here and getting it out of my system, and I was able to finish my work.

The teachers didn't tell the kids what was going on.  Claire is completely clueless that anything abnormal happened near that high school today.  This is the way it should be.  I asked her how the Fire Safety Show was, she said it was fun and told me about "stop, drop, and roll," and then we went to Daisy Scouts.  Just another Thursday.  Nothing to see here, please move along.

But what message would I have been sending if I had rushed to the school in a panic?  I mean, that was my instinct, but part of being a human and an adult is rising above our instincts, right?  If I had come rushing to her rescue, I would have been teaching her that the teachers can't keep her safe - that she needs Mommy all the time.  I don't want to send her that message.  I want her to trust the other adults in her life, especially her teachers.

I rose above my instincts today, and I allowed my daughter to continue to trust her teachers.  Maybe my Free Range link isn't so ironic, after all.

Thanks, Lenore, for keeping me sane in a crazy world, and for teaching me to be a better mom than I ever could have been without you.

With love,


Police carClaire was at a nearby high school in another town for a convocation this morning when some asshole decided to rob a bank that's near the school.  I just got a text that the high school was on lockdown while MY baby was there.

The text said that everyone is fine at the school, both our school's students and the ones who attend that school.  I received a text from Nixle (do you Nixle?  You should) about the bank robbery, but it never occurred to me that it would affect Claire's field trip.

She was already worked up about this field trip because it's about fire safety, and MG's class watched a video yesterday when they did their fire safety field trip about calling 911 that upset her - a baby drank bleach and the older sibling called 911.  Claire didn't want to watch the video today.  Luckily her teacher said it wasn't on their agenda.  No, instead of a video, they got the much scarier experience of being locked down because of some psycho with a gun running around the area.  Nice.

I wonder what they told the kids.  I wonder if she's going to be freaked out.

I trust Claire's teacher completely, and I know she wouldn't scare the kids unnecessarily, but I'm worried about what announcements might have been made over the PA that would have scared her.  I guess I'll find out when she gets home.

And my good friend Anxiety is whispering in my head about all the what ifs.  I just don't think I'll feel calm until I see her tonight.

School is scary.  Letting them out into the world at all is scary.  Sometimes I miss the days when they were never more than an arm's length away from me.  I don't know how people whose children are grown and live across the country or on the other side of the world relax at all.  I can't even stand her being on the other side of the river.

I think maybe it's time to up the Zoloft.

The Suspect

(ok, maybe now that I got that out of my system I can get back to work...)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Secret Formula

Some mornings are about 10 seconds long.  The kids end up at school with tangled hair, unbrushed teeth, and mismatched weather-inappropriate clothes.  I pelt them with granola bars as they run to catch the bus.  By the time they leave, I am ready for a nap.

Other mornings, like today, everything clicks and they actually have time to watch a whole cartoon (which is what they're doing now) and I have time to blog (ditto) before the bus comes.

I can't figure out the difference between the first kind and the second kind.  If I could figure it out, though, things would be a lot easier around here.

I guess I did wake up a little bit earlier today than I usually do, but not so much that it should account for this big a difference.

Mornings are weird.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Busy day

I crammed about 12 hours worth of work into a little over 4 hours today.  I am exhausted.  It didn't help that Jack woke up at 4 and stayed awake until around 6.  I wish I could understand what possesses that child to do that to us periodically.  Maybe I need to start giving him milk of magnesia again, although he didn't act like he was in any pain.

BJ got the kids all wound up wrestling, and now they're in the bath and they are making so much noise that they're giving me a headache - and I'm two rooms away.  I think he must have earplugs in.  I would be screaming and threatening by this point.  I would give them more baths if they would act less insane. It's like as soon as they touch water all their brains leak out their ears.  They're yowling like cats.  I wish I were kidding.

I have to put sheets on the bed and fold a load of laundry tonight before bed.  I just have no energy right now.  Snore...  Sheets are optional, right?  Maybe a little coffee would perk me up (sadly if I d rank coffee right now I would be up until 3 am).

Headed to Grammaland tomorrow.  Super excited to snuggle Kate and see Grandma Susan, Uncle Chuck, Aunt Sara, Aunt Megan, and Uncle Trey.  I'm sure I'll have a picture or two to post.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I'm at the dentist on nitrous and novacaine. And blogging. Hahahahaha!

Meaningless Gifts

Thanks for all the nice comments about the new bedroom decor!  You guys rock.  Jamie suggested using books to raise up the right hand lamp to the level of the left one, and it worked beautifully!  You're so smart!

So I have a dilemma.  The room parent is organizing a fall party for one of my girls' classes.  The note home said "feel free to bring in 22 non-food trinkets for the class."

A+ for saying "non-food."  My kid does not need 22 pieces of candy a few days before Halloween.  I am being 100% truthful when I tell you that we still have candy from last Halloween (and last Christmas, and last Easter....) in the house.  Mean Mommy does not let the children eat much candy.  Seriously, look at all the candy.

I took this, consolidated it all down into the blue bowl, threw some away,
and then promptly found ANOTHER container of candy.
Here's my problem, though...  We already do Valentine's day, and there will probably be a "holiday" party.  So, assuming that everyone participates, that means my kids will be bringing home 66 trinkets or pieces of candy per year.  Each.

132 is a lot.

I have two kids.  So assuming I spend twenty bucks to get these cute witches broom pencils for the class, times 2 kids in school, times 3 occasions per year...  That's $120 a year for a bunch of clutter.  (Or ~200 trinkets and $180 when Jack is in school!)

Furthermore, these transactional gift giving occasions - where you're required to get something for each child, and each child is required to get something for your child - I think they detract from the true meaning and spirit of what gift giving is supposed to be about.  How can I expect my kids to understand gratitude and generosity and those really important values when they're getting a bag full of cheap plastic crap from China three times a year?  (At the beginning of the school year I divided up all the pencils we got last year into two bags and sent them to the girls' teachers for their classrooms - and I still had a ton left.)

On the other hand, though, I don't want my kid to be the one jerk who shows up without something.  I don't want them to be singled out for not participating. I don't want them to feel uncomfortable if all their friends bring them something, but they don't have anything to give in return.

So what do I do?  Do I hit "reply all" and say, "Really?  Let's skip the trinkets!" and link to the blog (that is a VERY bad idea, no one should read this blog).  Do I just suck it up and send the trinkets and find something cheaper to buy in bulk to send?  Please tell me that this madness will end sometime in the next couple of years!

Love and kisses,

Monday, October 8, 2012

Trading Spaces

With some help from my friends, I decorated our bedroom (note that I did not just say redecorated our bedroom, because that would incorrectly imply that it had been decorated before).

The bed is actually the crooked element in this photo.  The right side is resting on some wires and I need help to lift it and move them...  BJ and I will take care of it eventually.  Also, the tables are not the same height and it annoys me, but it can't be helped (unless I get another cheapo bookshelf for my side of the bed, but then I wouldn't have a drawer for my jammies).

I finally got the picture hung straight, and I realized that it was not evenly spaced above the bed.  Instead of moving it again I just moved the bed over a little more.  HA!  Take that, HGTV!

Ok, so that's blurry and it shows all the mess where I just haphazardly tossed stuff on top of the bookshelf so that I could hang all the things, but it shows the metal art piece that I got for that little piece of wall.  The colors in it match the colors in the painting perfectly.  

The best part is that the painting on the wall brings in the red in the carpet without making the whole room look like a French bordello.  I mean, not that there's anything with being in a French bordello, it's just not the look I was going for.

After living here for almost 10 years, our room is finally done.  Mostly.  Now all I need to do is get a couple of new dressers and nightstands to replace the hand-me-downs from my cousin that I've had for 20 years.  

Baby steps.

I moved the lamps that used to be in there (they were way too big) into the living room, where they make a lot more sense.  

In other news, I've decided to stick with black shutters.  We ordered the cool concrete stuff to re-do the porch, and it should be here in a couple weeks.

I need more candles.  Candles and earrings went away when the babies came, and I haven't gotten them back out.  Jack is almost big enough to handle both, I think.

Part of the reason it took so long is because I totally lack confidence when it comes to stuff like this.  Do you like decorating?

Sunday, October 7, 2012


I've been channeling all of my energy into other projects lately, and this sad little blog has fallen by the wayside.  Sorry!

Yesterday BJ and I got a good start on painting the porch.  I did the posts (which are turned wood, so they have lots of little groovies in them, and it was a lot harder than I expected) the soffit across 2/3 of the house (insane people built our house, and there are a bunch of different layers of wood that make up that part, too), and the trim around the garage door.  I was just about to start on the ceiling under the porch when BJ decided that we're going to replace the original-to-the-house aluminum siding under there.  It's cracked and old and really needs to go.

We went to Lowe's and while they do have vertical vinyl siding, it would look screwy, so we're going to use a concrete product that I'm kind of excited about.  Anyone have any experience with this stuff?  We'll be able to preserve the "board and batten" look of the front porch without using actual wood (which would swell and rot and require painting and blah blah blah).  I wish we'd known about it before we re-sided most of our house (we still have one side of the upstairs, above the garage, to finish.  Eventually).

Meanwhile, I also got new curtains for the front room (white sheers, to let in more light this winter!) and moved the brown ones into our room.  I got a new headboard for our room, too.  I got a heck of a deal on  I need to find new lamps for our bedroom, and some sort of art to go over the bed.  Monica is coming over tomorrow and we are going to see what we can make.  Arts and Crap!  Yay!

If I ever find lamps for our room that I don't hate, I'm going to move the ones that are in there into the living room.  The advantage of using the same few colors all over the house (blue, light brown, dark brown...) is that I can move everything around as needed.  That and I suck at matching colors, and you can mix blues and browns without it looking crappy (as opposed to reds which have variations in the orange direction or the blue direction, or greens which go yellow to blue - you can't mix those as easily, or I can't, anyway).

I also need to find a new curtain for the kitchen because I hate the one that's there, but that's not an emergency.  The kitchen is painted a very light green.  I think I may just go with off white in there.

I'm trying to decide if we should paint the front door cranberry and get cranberry shutters, or if we should stick with the white door and black shutters.  We need to replace 5 out of 6 of the sets of shutters on the house, anyway, so if we're going to change color, now's the time.

Do I have a picture of the front of the house??  Somewhere, but heck if I can find it.  It's too dark to go out and take one.  Oh well, maybe tomorrow.

Decorators?  Leave your comments!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Make My Day

I just got a note from my neighbor, Joey, before the school bus came.  It was a writing assignment from school that said:
Amy Austin is our Neihberhood Leader.  She helps people find their dog if their missing.  She helps people find any pet.  She writes leather* to people.  She help our neihberhood.  She is a good neihberhood leader.


* I think he means "letters."  :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bad Blogger, No Cookie!

There's been a lot going on lately with work and school, but nothing really notable that rated its own blog post.  BJ is in DC (returning tonight) on a business trip.  He would probably get irritated if I went into much detail about that.  The kids get so cranky when he's gone.  "It's hard without Daddy here," Claire said this morning.  Yeah, kiddo, it's hard.

Mary Grace had a fever last night (she's the easiest patient ever - she just wanted to sleep), so she's home from school.  I'm selfishly excited, because if she's home I can take a really long shower and not worry that Jack will have put all his toys in the toilet, dumped the trash all over the floor, or performed abdominal surgery on the dog in my absence.  And she's not really sick anymore (fever has gone, she ate breakfast, she just wants to rest) so I don't feel too awful asking her to straighten up the toy room.  (The 24 hour fever free policy is in effect.)

I have my Daisies meeting tonight.  Tomorrow we're seeing a show with a couple friends.  A birthday party for another friend on Saturday.  I'm hopeful that we'll finally get the porch painted with the rest of the time this weekend.  We'll see.

The bus just came and gobbled up the kids, so I can go get that shower now!  Woo hoo!