Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Strawberry Pie

Frank's been on a baking kick with multiple variations of chocolate chip cookies. Also a pound cake from scratch. Most recently, he made a strawberry pie.

This is before baking...I didn't get an after picture. The outer crust was a little overdone...I'll have to show him the foil trick. The pie was delicious, though.

I do like his new hobby.

This reminds me of a first-grade story. One of my tasks with the first graders was to work with them on writing. One of their prompts was a picture of 3 kids at a pie-eating contest. They had to use describing words (adjectives). Most kids described relatively normal pies (sweet strawberry, tasty pumpkin, etc) but one boy was very imaginative and had lightening pie and rain pie!)

What kind of pie should Frank make next?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Luggage Yes!

Ernest called earlier tonight, and said that YES, his suitcase did arrive with him. So despite the long agonizing wait in the Special Services line, and the warning that the suitcase might not make it, I have to compliment the TSA and luggage handlers who got that suitcase onto the correct plane in time. One less worry! Ta ta for now.

Ernest's Itinerary, Part 1

Day 1, Travel Day
Day 2-3 Quito and the Equator.

Ernest will be interested in the whirlpool effect at the equator. Frank was supposed to test which way the toilets swirled when he went to Australia a few years ago, but he said the toilets jetted water from either side too fast to tell.

Their first dinner is supposed to include " a select menu of Ecuadorian foods." That's better than when he went to England and had Mexican food the first night! But we've watched a little too much Bizarre Foods at our house...who knows what he will be eating?

They are also going to the famous market at Otavalo city, visiting Cuicocha Lake, and seeing the Folkloric Ballet.

Then, on to the Galapagos Islands.

Stay Tuned...

Monday, June 28, 2010

And Here's Yet Another "Bye, Mom" Picture

After spending a ridiculously long time in the seriously under-staffed "special services" line, he was lucky to have made it to the plane with a whole 15 minutes to spare. No time for breakfast. We're not even sure if his suitcase will make it with him...

Fortunately Ernest is a wonderfully calm child young man. Mom is a frazzled wreck right now. Yes, he's flying on I didn't have a choice Delta, the airline which mixed up two unaccompanied minors. (All the paperwork goes into a red-labeled envelope...I can see how they could have mixed them up,,,but I really wish I hadn't looked up these other stories.)

Fortunately, there was only one of Ernest and I saw him walk down the tunnel to the plane. (What do you call that tunnel? Gangway? Gangplank? I looked it up -- "airbridge." Now you know.) And someone non-Delta was meeting him in Atlanta to take him to his connecting flight.

I haven't heard from him yet...he was supposed to call in Atlanta but he didn't (I am thinking cell phone trouble, forgetfulness, or too busy with the meet-and-greet). I did call the organizers who assured me everyone got there OK.

Next plane departed 12 minutes ago, according to

But you can understand why I am a teary-eyed, snuffly mess right now. I miss him already, but when I post some of his itinerary you'll see what an amazing opportunity this is.

Bon voyage, Ernest.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Ernest has to be at the airport early tomorrow, and since I'm not interested at getting up at 2 am to drive him there, we came down tonight and are enjoying room-service and free wi-fi. And the columns of light at the airport entrance...I always pick the closest hotel even though I don't really like their sleep number beds.

So, we can sleep till 5. Joys... While he remembered the passport, other smaller things were forgotten. The retainers, remembered when we were only a few miles away from home, we went back for. The watch? Stopped at a Target. The reusable water bottle (not realizing it was left at home until we got to the hotel)? Hopefully there will be one at an airport gift shop tomorrow morning. It's always something. One year Frank forgot his belt, which was a bigger deal than you would think.

Now I won't have any going away pictures because I forgot a camera. So here he is, leaving 2 years ago. And leaving last year. (Maybe I can get a crappy picture from my cell phone.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Castle Green (Looking Up v.3)

I went back to Castle Green for the semi-annual tour. It was lovely. The ballroom was filled with dancers in Edwardian costumes. It was like being on the Titanic except it wasn't sinking.

I think almost every single turret apartment was open for viewing. Some were ready to move in. I was ready. I so love round rooms.

Honey, can you build a turret onto our house? We could just bump out the front a little bit.

No? Darn it.

Looking up in the Turkish Room...

and the rest of the camel collection would go well in there...

Looking up the stairwell...

And what was at the top...

There was even a cat.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cookie Monster

Frank has a new hobby: baking cookies. Every batch has a new twist, and they've all been delicious. The latest batch was chocolate/chocolate chip.

That big cookie? Was his. NOM NOM NOM!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Adding on to the list

Ernest promises to start packing soon*, as he is leaving next week. (*sooner than the night before, which is what happened last year. )

We have made some interesting discoveries...

Not only does Ecuador use U.S. currency, but the electricity voltage and plugs are the same. Whoo-hoo. One less thing to worry about.

In cleaning out Ernest's dresser, we discovered he really needs some new boxers. Since he grew 4 inches in the last year, I have replaced a lot of pants and shoes, but the unmentionables remained unmentionable, tucked away in the drawer. When I was finally allowed to check, I found size 8 SpongeBob choners in there. Obviously at 5' 10.5" and 131 lbs., they weren't fitting any more but they were still there (I saved them for posterity, along with this SpongeBob Tshirt. Quilt material?)

There is no place to buy men's undergarments in our small town. There's a lingerie store (which might have a small men's selection) in part of a hair salon, but their sign says "use the back door" which does not give me a good impression. Maybe CVS has underwear? Oh, and the western store in another small village has the red longjohns, but I don't think Ernest would go for that.

No, definitely not.

However, he's got a yen for something that can only be found at a big boys' hobby store in a big town, so we are taking a trip there tomorrow. But before he gets to the Big Boy Toys, he's got to brave the trip to Target for the boxers and other various sundry items.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Time's Flying By

This first bit of vacation went fast! While I confess to spending far to much time on the computer, my sons were equally guilty.

Frank started a summer class in the morning, so that cuts down on the time he can waste. Comparative Geography. He now knows all the countries in South America.

Ernest will be comparing geography for real in a couple weeks, traveling to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. In between driving him to the zoo and completing all the school paperwork for the fall, we are trying to get things together for Ernest's trip...

In addition to all the shots he's already had, he's got anti-malaria pills to take with him too.
And to keep the skeeters away in the first place, bug repellent. And then there is always the issue of appropriate footwear.

"Sweetie, I don't think you can really hike in your Converse," therefore hiking shoes were a must. He hates buying shoes. I dragged him into Sports Authority this afternoon. Why are all the hiking shoes brown? Brown is not his color. I dug through the boxes on the shelves and found one pair of black shoes he could tolerate. OMG, size 11.5! This child! Keeps Growing!

Speaking of keeping growing, it's really hard to find long skinny pants. The group requires khaki pants as part of their uniform, so I got them unhemmed from Dickies. Turns out he is a 29/34. So I have 3 pairs of pants to hem. I guess that's my next creative project.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

That Darn Bird, Episode Three

It's still attacking the car mirrors. And not just cars that are here all the time, but even the mirrors of visitors' cars which are parked in the street. Catch up on episodes one and two, if you like. The Handy Husband had the bright idea of using a pair of old socks to protect the mirrors.

He took the socks off in the morning and carried them inside. When he got back to the car, guess what! The bird was there, pecking away. But the socks were over-stretched and couldn't be used again. He and Frank have been using towels, but that looks so trashy.

Frank took the towels off in preparation to wash his car. The bird, who had been stealthily laying in wait, seized his moment. When Frank turned back around with the bucket, the bird was already there.

So for this week's creative project, I made mirror cozies out of an old pillowcase. At least they are color-coordinated now.

According to what I've found on the net,
A behavior pattern often mentioned in the literature is the brown towhee's so-called "shadow-boxing," a fighting response aroused when its reflection in a shiny surface suggests the presence of another towhee in its territory. D. P. Dickey (1916) first described this action for senicula as follows: "Perching on the sill, the bird would eye his reflection, and then set systematically to work to kill the supposed rival, with all the ire and intolerance of a rutting moose." (Quote from, California Towhee Bent Life History)


Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I saw this on Facebook yesterday -- thanks, Debbie!

This kid totally reminds me of toddler Frank, with the curiosity and the inflections in his voice!

I don't remember when Frank met his first lobster. Anytime his dad went on a business trip through Boston, he brought home lobsters from Legal Seafood at the airport, so this wasn't Frank's first. I can tell he's still two-and-a-half-ish here because he is still wearing only Batman. This time I brought them home from a trip (and the box sat on my LAP on the last leg of the trip home to our local airport because the plane was so small). After Frank and his dad picked me up, he had the box next to him, taking good care of the lobsters, and proudly carried it into the house.

We would always let the lobsters crawl around on the floor and distract the cats.

He really liked eating them, too. I think he growled and roared playing with the claw. Look at his straight blonde hair! (Mine came from a bottle.) Now his hair is dark and curly.

Rock on, lobsters!

Monday, June 14, 2010

5 best bands

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt is "What are the five best bands you've seen play live?" Janet at Fond of Snape has some great ones.

Here are 5 of my relatively recent favorites. (Yes, I blogged about them all.)
Green Day
Bruce Springsteen
Alice Cooper
John Mellencamp

The worst in recent memory was Ozzy Osbourne.

There have been so many wonderful concerts in the past that I can barely remember.

This summer, we're looking forward to Yes/Peter Frampton, Aerosmith, Rush, Crystal Bowersox (I guess some other Idol contestants will be there), and Roger Waters/The Wall.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Graduation Pictures

Playing "R-E-S-P-E-C-T." He learned the guitar solo the day before. One of the many reasons why he won the music award.

Receiving his Community Service Award. 560 hours at the zoo paid off.

Some of the guys he's known since kindergarten.

The immediate family.
Hey, here are the usual suspects. The girl with the black belt also won the community service award. The three on the left are band kids.

It was a beautiful graduation.

To the parents who worked so hard to make it a memorable event, thank you.
To all the teachers, past and present, who inspired him, thank you.
To the staff who appreciate him because he doesn't cause any trouble, thank you.
To his great friends and classmates (some of whom we've know since age 3), thank you.
To his family who thinks he can do anything, thank you.
And most importantly, to Ernest, thank you for being yourself!

I'd love to show the 8th grade musicians' performance of R-E-S-P-E-C-T but it would eat up all my blogger photo space. If you're a Facebook friend, you can see it there.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bubble Day

Tuesday, the second-to-last day of school, was Bubble Day for the K/1s. Ernest still reminisces about Bubble Day. "I wish we could have had Bubble Day every year," he said wistfully a few days ago. It's especially hard for the second graders, whose classrooms overlook the Early Primary playground, to see the fun happening outside without them. On the other hand, those who toil in the bubble trenches every year aren't quite so nostalgic. They have the rotation down to a science...12 minutes at each bubble station, 3 minutes to rotate. I lucked out and got to man the only station that was in full shade!

In honor of Bubble Day everywhere, here are some of Ernest's favorite moments from SEVEN YEARS AGO!

(I was in charge of rackets this year...)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Graduation Day

We won't have pictures of him until tonight, but here's 8th grade graduation pictures of his brother....

his mom...

and his dad...

Excuse the leisure suit -- it was 1974.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Right now I'm pretty calm...

No art projects today...unless you count my greatest work of art...

This was the ritual trying on of the tux to be sure it fits, not the actual event. That happens tomorrow. (I heard from another mom/co-worker that her son got a child's pair of pants with his tux by mistake...he actually got them on but they were capri-length! They discovered this last Friday, so they had time to exchange them!)

Someone else at work asked me how I was feeling about him graduating. Was I a little misty? You know, up until that moment I hadn't really thought about it. As I told her, on one hand, it is a milestone at the end of a 15-year period of having children in elementary school. On the other hand, I've beentheredonethat with the older brother. I'm sure I'll be teary-eyed at the actual graduation ceremony, but right now I'm pretty calm. While I adored his childhood, he's always been my "little man." My grown-up boy in a child's body. He's just a lot taller now. I see his potential and all that he has to look forward to and that's pretty darn exciting.

Besides, I have a substitute to lavish my little boy affections on. This looks SO familiar!

I love a boy in a cape. And that silver suit? It was Ernest's robot suit!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Tux Time

First thing on today's to-do list was: "PICK UP ERNEST'S TUX" for his 8th grade graduation on Wednesday.

At first he didn't want to rent one. I just want to wear black. But you'll need a jacket. Everyone else will have one. Can we just get a suit? If you're willing to go shopping. (And that would be a resounding NO!) So we rented the tux instead. He was relieved to find that several of his classmates had already rented them.

I picked it up today. Ernest will be disappointed that the tie is not a REAL tie. It's tied already and hooks together in the back. Because he's been a tie-tier for a long time. 8 years old and he was already tying them on his own.

He may end up substituting one of his own ties for the rental tie.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Coconut Shrimp with Apricot Salsa

I did have my Lost Luau but I totally forgot about using my Lost Party Pack. So I guess it's a collectible now, even with the potato chip stains (to the left of the Dharma logo). Backstory here.

Look closely, even the bottle opener is labeled.

I remember when "generic" products were first marketed -- they looked just like this. Great joke!

Back to the main point here, I made lots of tropical themed food. The best was coconut shrimp with apricot salsa.

The Coconut Shrimp were so easy, you almost don't need a recipe. I had about a pound of 31-40 count shrimp (turns out I had 38) -- two per skewer, dredge in flour, then egg, then roll in coconut. Fry until done.

The Apricot Salsa came from a recipe in the newspaper, which I can't link to. My proportions turned out a little different, so here's my version (You can find other versions all over the internet.) Mix all this together and let sit about an hour. It was best the same day -- by the next day the leftovers were mushy.

Apricot Salsa
1 lb. apricots, pitted and diced
1/2 of a red onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon jalapeno pepper, minced
juice of half a lemon
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped (a handful?)
1 avocado, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Looking Up v.2

In my ongoing quest to look up...

Is that a circus tent in my neighborhood? Am I in Mr. Roger's neighborhood? Is he at the circus?

No, our local outdoor theater had a termite problem. Been there, done that, but this was on a massive scale.

They had a large machine to lift them up to the top of the roofline. I don't know what it was called -- it was bigger than a cherry picker but smaller than a crane. There were high winds the next morning which blew the tent off the highest part of the roof.

I'm picturing thousands of little termite swarmers, wearing blue and white kilts, screaming "FREEDOM" as the wind ripped the tent off!

So what's up with you?


The banner is finished!

Although when I think "Happy Birthday," I always want to spell it HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA BTHUTHDY, Owl's spelling in Winnie-the-Pooh. But I didn't have enough cards for that!

(There were enough cards for BIRTHDAY but that was an extra picture that showed the mess at the other end of the room.)

Last week's class project was a jungle scene. The kiddies learned how to draw elephants, lions, and monkeys. I took a few liberties and added a pond to mine. We had a choice of markers or colored pencils. Since the markers are pretty dried up by the end of the school year (see following sample)...

I chose colored pencils. Here's mine:

There's something zen-like (from Urban Dictionary: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind) and relaxing about coloring. You get into a state where it's just you and the color, and time just flies by.

It made remember how much I loved coloring books when I was a child. My favorite coloring book involved some girls going to their ballet recital. I was a little obsessed with making sure all the costumes were colored perfectly, and that the colors remained consistent from page to page. (So I was a tiny bit OCD even back then.) Frank's favorite coloring book was Batman, of course. Ernest liked Pokemon. But they drove me crazy!

What was your favorite coloring book?