Friday, June 27, 2008


The comic Zits really strikes home if you have a teenager in the house. I notice Jenn @ Juggling Life posts about it.

Today's little gem:I SWEAR, this looks like Frank's room. I scythed a path through it the other day. Ernest was looking for a video game. We found a decorative cover but not the actual game and box. Frank noticed the path..."Mom, my room looks different," he said in a humorously accusing voice.

We've got to have a "discussion" when he comes back. Part of his earning the right to live in the apartment over the garage (the Handy Husband is calling it the Fonzie Pad -- Aaay!) is that he keep it relatively clean. The state of his current room does not qualify.
  • Is it that he's lazy? Yes.
  • Does he care? Meh.
  • Is the new room 3 times bigger than the old room? Definitely.
  • Will he have a bigger TV? Yep.
  • And privacy? Surely.
  • Should he care? Yes, dammit, or he won't get it!

Heart of the Home

Thanks, Mrs. G for inspiring the Open House!

The Heart of My Home is where my family is. Usually that's in our living room.

Here's my favorite reading chair. The Kindle is "open" to Petite Anglaise. It's good. That abstract blue cat on the wall is nicknamed "Acid Kitty" after a story someone told about his cat who went on an acid trip. Don't look at the pile of laundry at the foot of the bed in the next room. It's clean. Also don't look at that bag of Kettle Chips trying to hide to the left of the chair. Whose chips are those? Hmmmmm. Ernest also sits here to play World of Warcraft. We might have to share the chips.

The cat, reaching for my glass of wine. Naughty kitty. That's the handy husband in the background. Behind the wine glass is the computer where I blog. Because Ernest is usually playing World of Warcraft on my laptop.

The other end of the couch. The cat barfed on her end this morning. No, she didn't drink the wine. It was a hairball. That darn laundry pile is peeking in again. See that blue painting? That's my Precious.

The TV. Would that be another Precious? That's Guitar Hero on the floor. See, I am honest. I did NOT clean up for these pictures, except for the cat barf.

Some tchotchkes.: Ernest as a bee, and his cowbell from the bike race. You know we like more cowbell.

Some of Ernest's artwork in the dining room nook.

The view from one of my new windows.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back any time!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Women and Money" Free on Oprah for 24 hours

Until 8 pm Central Time Friday June 27th, you can download Suze Orman's "Women and Money" from For FREE.

I've just skimmed through it and it is chock full of useful information on getting yourself into good financial shape. Because I've had good advice, I've done most of the things she recommends. Pat myself on the back. But there is always room for improvement!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Au Revoir

Here's Frank right after we got to the airport. Just a little bored, he got out his keychain sized Rubik's Cube.
He's sometimes so grownup, but not quite.

Like yesterday, when he dumped his khaki pants on the kitchen table. I looked at them, and realized they were Ernest's size 12 pants. (Sometimes laundry gets mixed up, but it's usually not my fault. People should check first.) He thought they looked the right size, but when he held them up to himself, I just said "No," and tried not to laugh because they would have been highwaters Capris on him. Fortunately, he found the right khakis in time because otherwise what a horrorshow that would have been this morning when he had to put them on!!! Because they are part of the uniform.

Instead, we had a slightly smaller problem: I discovered he forgot his belt. The belt is also part of the gosh-darned uniform. And it keeps the pants from dragging down below the butt. If he'd told me yesterday, we could have got another. But he didn't bother to tell me. And then this morning: "It's no big deal, I just have to wear the uniform until I can borrow another." (From who??? Everyone else has to wear one too.) AAAARgh. I commend the Radisson Hotel gift shop for selling belts, because that relieved MY stress level. I'm sending them a thank-you note.

OK, next photo. Now we've been standing around a while. He's said, "Mom, it's boring, you should just go..." a couple times. I got the hint. But he had to hug me first. Good-bye, Frank. Have a great time.
This was my view from the onramp as I got on the freeway. It was like this for an HOUR. I swear, it took an hour to go less than 10 miles. The tie-up eventually turned out to be because of a Big Blasted Blue Bus Broken down in the center lane.

No picture of that, as I was happy to speed up to go around it!

So I was happy to leave the Big Town and return to my Small Town.

And here's my favorite video about CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC:

I've taken over his computer but Frank is Fine

I swear, Frank's plane is fine, I just took over (I was going to use hijacked another word but then I thought it would be politically incorrect) his computer because it was the only one I could get to. It does not accept my camera's memory stick, so the au revoir photo will have to be posted later.

{{Hey, Frank, I swear I'm not snooping at anything on your computer. Except I like your new rainbow skull desktop.}}

So, we got to the big airport in 2.5 hours last night, had room service, watched a little Harry Potter on HBO, and then tried to sleep on the evil sleep number beds. Why do I stay there? Because it is closest to the airport, actually within walking distance (20 min.). And Frank was bored enough in the morning to suggest walking. What a difference from 2 years ago (Australia) when we had to drag him on the walk. Now he knows how long those flights can be and is willing to have a little activity beforehand!

Anyway, he arrived on time, unlike a number of students and TWO of the four leaders. After all the annoying e-mails one of them sent, she was late. Ha HA. Frank's leader is a nice calm man who works at a local prison. (I believe he's a counselor, not a guard. ) There were a number of jokes about where he works.

Frank was bored even before they got in line, and told me repeatedly that I didn't need to stay. So after they were in the ticket line about 20 minutes (and the ticket agents still weren't there), I agreed with him, hugged him, and left. As I walked past the primary leader, she asked, "Are you leaving?" And I said he told me to, and "this is the third time I've said goodbye and it gets easier every time."

That may have been a lie. No, it doesn't get easier to say goodbye. But it gets easier to let him go. Because he always comes back with a new and wonderful experience.

Hurry, It's Lovely

Finally, the heat wave has broken and I have the doors and (new) windows open, saying, "Hurry, it's lovely here."

Which reminded me of this:

Even though it's way past spring.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Seeing Ernest nap yesterday made me want one so badly. I tried, both today and yesterday, but just couldn't fall asleep. Noise, light, heat, whatever.

And I was reminded of how cute he was as a sleeping baby.
He's about 3 here.

Sometimes he would fake napping
(Upper left is real, upper right is pretend.)

Yesterday's nap was a real, rare one.

I caught Frank napping a couple weeks ago.
How sweet that he still naps with his favorite toys.

Sweet Dreams!

Friday, June 20, 2008

How It's Made

We were just watching How It's Made and the last segment was on Lasik surgery.

I was surprised that it freaked me out.

I have been terribly nearsighted all my life and would love to do without glasses or contacts (but only if I could still read afterwards). And I am normally not squeamish. But seeing them do that clockworky orangish thingy on the eye, and then slicing it open...all while the patient is still awake??

I had to turn my back and go on the internet at that point. And was compelled to find this:

...I must admit that Malcolm McDowell is a Secret Boyfriend and I think my husband is fine with it (based on the number of times we have watched Clockwork Orange AND the fact that there is a resemblance between them) and I don't think Mrs. G has stolen claimed him yet...

But that's beside the point. [Definition: not relevant to the subject that you are considering or discussing] Not relevant but possibly more interesting.

So, the SUBJECT... What the heck was I asking about??? Let me regroup...

If you have had a Lasik experience, please comment!

"We Want to Be Your Weather News Source"

That's what the man just said. The weatherman, who said it was 107 yesterday, said it was this today:

I shall repeat:

And here's a Smalltown Mom Useful Tidbit (I know the acronym is SMUT. I planned it that way): In the European Union, the emergency number is 112. Not 911 but 112. You're welcome.

I love that's on my profile.

Main Entry: tid·bit
Pronunciation: \ˈtid-ˌbit\
Variant(s): also tit·bit \ˈtit-ˌbit\ [I don't think I want my tit bit! A little fondling would be OK.]
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps from tit- (as in titmouse) + bit
Date: circa 1640
1 : a choice morsel of food [I think I'll sneak one right now before dinner.]
2 : a choice or pleasing bit (as of information) [This is what my blog is about. The choice or pleasing bits of my life.]

Back from Camp

Here's Ernest looking tired and sweaty. He had a great time, despite the heat. He can't tell me his favorite activity because, "There were a bunch of really fun ones." It was only 104 in the shade the day of the 9-mile hike.

P.S. I was out in the car a few minutes ago and the thermometer read 108.

P.P.S. Ernest asked what we were going to do this afternoon. I said, "Nothing. You're going to veg out and relax." It's 4:50 and he's asleep on the couch. He needs it.

P.P.P. S. It's 5:50 and he's still sleeping. This was a child who wouldn't nap. This is going to inspire another blog post as soon as I find the right pictures.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's Clearly a Clear Day

Thanks for the suggestion, Vanessa:

And my favorite, Barbra:


The weather report said:

One Hundred and Seven Degrees

I shall repeat...

One Hundred and Seven Degrees

One Hundred and Seven Degrees

I'm just saying, it really was hot today.

I Have Holes

In my head? No, in my house, in 100 degree weather of all days! Today, after much deliberation and four weeks of order time, we had 7 new Milgard windows installed!

This is the story of 5 of the windows; the other 2 were in another room. I'm rarely able to get a before picture because things get torn apart when I'm not paying attention too quickly. But there must be family photos that show the before. These were the holes in my house this morning:

From the outside:

This is after:

We got a bevel in the glass, instead of the standard grids, or muntins.

Me, Myself, I We have serious psychotic issues concerns with our replacement windows looking like replacement windows. For example, these had to be paintable on the exterior. That's why there's no picture of the exterior, because painting them is yet another project.

I am just loving them. They actually lock, have screens, are air-tight and well insulated, and give me a much clearer view outside. Ahem, not just because they are cleaner. But because they're not divided up with the muntins.

So we're ordering up 5 windows for the upstairs really really really soon. Plus I think the garage will look really cruddy if we don't, so 2 more there. That leaves 3 pieces of the house undone. 1) the kitchen/dining nook (it's too small to be a room). I'm going to delay that one as long as possible in the hopes that we will just get disgusted and do something major like bump out the front of the house. 2) our master bedroom, which is such a funky addition we don't want to mess with it right now. And 3) the side door/windows....which does need replacement before the cold winter air comes it. Yes, we get below freezing in the winter.

And after having the house open in 100 degree heat, I am longing...just a little bit...for cooler days. I hope Ernest didn't take his 9-mile hike at camp today!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Self Improvement, or at least Self Pampering

While Ernest is at camp this week, I set a goal to do something for myself every day. I feel very selfish doing this, but since I rarely take time out for myself I think it's important.

  • Monday: OK, not so glamorous, but I had my teeth cleaned.
  • Tuesday: Bellyrobics* and Champagne excuse me Sparkling Wine tasting (because some of it was from California) with my Beloved Niece. I brought a bottle of real Champagne home to share with the HH.
  • Wednesday: I plan to use the gift certificates from ??? sometime last year ??? to get a massage.
  • Thursday: Bellyrobics again and going to the movies with the HH in the evening.
  • Friday: Still unplanned, but something before 1:00 when I pick up Ernest.
*Bellyrobics is an aerobic/cardio/core workout with a belly dance flair.


This is the summer of the big interior move. The HH and I are tucked away on the first floor, but we have 3 bedrooms upstairs: 2 small ones for the kids and one large one for my stuff, the "sewing" room. We also have a room over the garage with a separate entrance, the "guest" room, which is also full of my stuff. "Hello, my name is Smalltown Mom and I'm a pack rat."

The plan is to move Frank into the room over the garage, and Ernest into the bigger upstairs room with the higher ceiling. He will finally have more than 1 foot of space above his loft bed. Whoo-hoo. And the sewing room and guest room become much smaller. Un-whoo-hoo.

The problem is stuff. Frank said, "I'll just pack up what I want and leave the rest." Huh? Sorry buddy, you've got to pack up what you don't want, too! Anybody want some Star Wars toys?

Ernest's problem will be Lego. Mass quantities of Lego. He likes building the set the first time. After it falls apart, he isn't really interested any more. Anybody want some broken-apart Bionicles?

And me, my problem is everything. Yesterday I purged:
* Cancelled checks from 1996-2000
* Many Stephen King books. They take up too much space. Those are up for grabs, too.
* The makings of snow globes, ala Martha Stewart

But I was unable to purge:
* The wisteria stencils and paints I've never used, because I want use them in the new sewing room.
* The box of duplicate photos. When I opened the box and saw baby Ernest with a runny nose, I knew I could never part with them, even though they are also in an album and I have the negatives.

I know, I know. I have issues.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Ernest just loved the shopping cart elevator at Tar-zhay. We bought socks and chocolate.

Other recent obsessions fascinations include: playing Guitar Hero,

petting the cat,

and this morning, going to camp for a week:

He has been so excited about Woodland Adventure Camp. "Yay, I get to go on a nine-mile hike!" He packed at the last minute last night. The boots he wore last year didn't fit. He was rather surprised. He doesn't realize how much he has grown.

So I thought the house would be quiet and lonely without Ernest but when I got back it was full of boys. Large ones. That's OK.


Premium is now over $5/gallon in my small town. If I drive 3 miles to the small town next to the freeway, it is around $4.75.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Kilroy Was Here

I've been scanning slides. Here's a great one of my mom in 1948, wearing a graffiti t-shirt. How trendy! And can you hear my jaw dropping as I realize she is braless?

For an explanation of the "Kilroy was Here" graffiti, go here or here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Gradumalation Updatey Thingies

Yes, the diploma was spelled correctly.

No, he chose not to wear the kilt. Dagnabbit! I think he was afraid of flippage in the hour-and-a-half he had to wait in the gym before the "show" started.

He smiled a lot.

I have tons of leftovers.

And I'm sending belated announcements to a lot of friends. My bad.

Here's to summer! Bellyrobics, Champagne Tasting, Multiple Trips to LAX, and whatever else is on the calendar!!!???!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

He's Gradumalated

I love the way the tassel stuck to his hair.

Proud parents.

(Recognize dress from previous post? Worn with the flat shoes.)
Tossing hats.

A real diploma. (Please excuse his dad's thumb in the corner. It was a tiny camera.) And a beautiful friend next to him.

Yes, he did eat some of my sumptuous buffet.

Enjoying the party with my dad.

Mr. Thomas takes his cousin's dog for a walk run marathon. It was a lovely day.

I didn't cry. But I'm a little misty right now.

Mostly I am proud to have such a wonderful son.

Congratulations, "Frank!"

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I've been bogged down for several weeks. The flu, the cough that won't go away, the children at school who have stopped listening, the multiple lists of things I have to do for the graduation. The fog lifted somewhat last night when Ernest's Friday rehearsal was cancelled. One less thing to do on Frank's graduation day!!!! The Handy Husband will be home, instead of driving Ernest!!! That was the straw that unbroke my camel's back.

Suddenly I felt a huge reprieve. And to top it off, today I was left ALONE, blissfully alone. Frank had his last day of finals (yes, he passed everything!), Ernest went off with his MorFar (my dad), the HH was at work, and I... wasn't at work!! I satisfied my internet addiction, cleaned the most disgusting bathroom in the house (see footnote***), had lunch with my Beloved Niece, shopped and cooked for 4 hours for tomorrow's after-graduation meal, AND STILL MADE DINNER. My dad's amazing and wonderful Significant Other washed dishes. ("Thank you thank you! " And they both made dinner last night, "Thank you again!")

***OK, here's the Bathroom Footnote: I told Frank, if he's going to have his new girlfriend visit upstairs, he needs to keep the bathroom cleaner. It was beardacious. Beardatrocious. Beardisgusting. Beardrepulsive. You get the drift: there were beard trimmings everywhere. The Handy Husband trims his beard in his closet (it's a walk-in, but just barely). I refuse to enter it because the beard trimmings end up on the carpet. The HH swears he vacuums often. Anyway, Frank needs to "man-up" and deal with the beard better. I'll go through the house and clean toilets with out too much nausea but beard hairs just freak me out!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The School's Out Countdown is Over!

Ernest swore he would play this song as soon as school let out, but he forgot.

So hum along.

I thought this version was fun !

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Enter the Wayback Machine

Here's Frank, roaring (Literally. He roared a lot, like a Maurice Sendak wild thing: "And they roared their terrible roars...") on the first day of kindergarten, way back in September 1995.

And here's his senior picture, taken in September 2007. He recently got his yearbook, and told me, "I had one of the better yearbook pictures." He's not usually self-congratulatory, but he was right. It was one of the better ones. And it's so him. I call it his Eric Clapton shot. (OK, I'm old. I'm sure there are a lot of younger musicians he also resembles.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Classic Teenage Communication

Taking bikes
Doing stuff
Be back @ a time.

(From Frank.)

Typoid Fever

THAT'S NOT A TYPO. I'm not talking about Typhoid fever. I'm talking about Typoid fever, the disease of bad typing!

I can't stand reading stuff with typos. I'm embarassed when I make one because I proofread so obsessively before I post. I couldn't stand the typos in the school paper (for which Ernest writes) so I volunteered to proofread the kids' articles. Oy vey, was I sorry. I proofed one kid's piece three times and he never seemed to put in the corrections so I gave up on that one! Sorry, Mr. P.

Anyway, there was a news article today: "Typo on diplomas embarrasses Ohio principal."

WESTLAKE, Ohio - A Cleveland-area principal says he's embarrassed his students got proof of their "educaiton" on their high school diplomas. Westlake High School officials misspelled "education" on the diplomas distributed last weekend. It's been the subject of mockery on local radio. Principal Timothy Freeman says he sent back the diplomas once to correct another error. When the diplomas came back, no one bothered to check things they thought were right the first time. The publisher has reprinted the diplomas a second time and sent them to the 330 graduates.

Oh, yeah! Be embarassed. If Frank's Friday the 13th high school diploma has a typo on it, that school is going to hear from me. The school drives me crazy already.

They love their automated phone system. So much that they send out false messages. Last September, just a few weeks after school started, I had a list of 6 phone system complaints I e-mailed to the principal. #1-3 were personal issues, but here are their mass gaffes #4-6:

4) Yesterday, the infamous call about absences which went out to 1100 people!!!!!!!
5) Today an apology return call because the 1100 calls yesterday were a mistake.
6) This evening, yet another mass call about absences.

Of course I never heard back on the personal issues#1-3. Just a few weeks ago, we got the "your child was not in school today" message. Oh, yes he was. Check with his band teacher! Today, same message. Excuse me, it was Senior Ditch Day. And he signed in at the Senior Breakfast.

And is there a word for these phone-mistakes? Because that's what our high school is guilty of and it bugs me even more than printed typos because I can't correct them!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Graduation Preparations

Frank and I were discussing the events of the upcoming week, leading up to his graduation on Friday the 13th. Hello, planners? Were you looking at the calendar? Some people do not like Friday the 13th. Frank's maternal grandma and her sister, may they rest in peace, would not leave the house on Friday the 13th. Of course, they would not leave the house on most days, but they made a special point not to go out on those specific Fridays.

Anyway, Frank said that he did have to play in the band after all. He thought he was off the hook after the last concert. I did warn him that seniors usually had to join the band for a song during the graduation program, although they escape playing the processional/recessional.

So yes, he does join the band for one song. He said, "At least I don't have to play Pomp and Circumstance for 20 minutes." Which reminded me of a certain high school graduation 30 years ago. The processional was "The Theme from Star Wars." The recessional was "We Are The Champions" by Queen. We were the coolest class!

There is a question: is a kilt an acceptable substitute for dress pants? Or the corollary, is he brave enough to wear it?