Sunday, December 28, 2008

On The Road

Look! It's a picture of Greeley. It doesn't relate to any sort of story or anything, but that's what I've got on the road. Most people probably remembered to take the camera out of the diaper bag to capture all of those Christmas memories. Not me. Wait. Wait. Greeley's holding a toy camera... I'm talking about forgetting the camera. Yeah, I totally meant to do that.

I haven't forgotten about all of you, I promise. We're off to New Hampshire tomorrow to greet the New Year. After that we'll be back in Gettysburg where I can resume my leisurely life of blog reading and bon bon eating.

But I want to hear from all of you, so...tell me.... what was your favorite Christmas present this year?

Monday, December 22, 2008

It Just Screams Christmas...

Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer posted this and I had to share it too because what else is better than tornadoes and Christmas music....

Thanks to

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Because I Didn't Send Out Christmas Cards This Year...

I'm sorry, but it's true. It just didn't happen this year. I could try to bluff you a thousand ways as to why I didn't do it (I've decided to become greener and it seemed like a waste of paper...), but it just didn't happen this year. Please don't think it reflects on how much I love you all.

If I had, this would have been the picture inside...

We've been having all sorts of Christmas like fun though.

We went to see Santa. We even had breakfast with Santa. My kids seemed to be more excited about the all you can eat bacon aspect. Atlee has a sort of knowing smile here because she knows Santa is our close friend, Uncle Ricky.

I walked into Atlee's room the other night and saw this.

I was kind of hoping my little princess wouldn't pass out with a beer bottle on her headboard until she was sixteen. It turns out she was writing a message and trying to put it in a bottle- or at least that was her cover story.

This is just a random shot of Greeley with the Santa Bear.

We're getting ready to roll out of Gettysburg for Upstate New York on Tuesday. Greeley's driving the first shift.

Have a great Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Parenting by Cyrano...

Are you familiar with the story of Cyrano de Bergerac? My favorite scene is where a man points out that his nose is rather large. Cyrano then goes off with all of the insults the man could have used, but didn't.

We have a similar situation going on around here. The seating arrangements in Shea's class were recently shuffled and resulted in Shea being seated by a boy who calls my son retarded daily. Not surprisingly, this kind of bugs Shea. Rich and I both offered our (ahem) sage counsel.

Rich's solution: [aka the boy solution] Retaliate with like insults. There was a brainstorming session which brought up such words as butt licker.

My solution: [aka the Cyrano approach] Point out that this young man's vocabulary is exceedingly limited. Offer up five or six alternatives to the word "retarded". I'm happy to say Shea listed a host of possible words immediately... but we went to the thesaurus for extra firepower.

We'll see what happens. I'm curious though- what would your advice to Shea be?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Have You Ever?

Have you ever had an outstanding Christmas Party? And at the end of the outstanding Christmas Party- a friend, who has perhaps had too much to drink, sees your computer with its annoying little viruses that you've learned to live with and that friend says, "Oh I can fix that!"? And then your computer- the one that you love and cherish and without it you feel like an isolated frontierswoman on the prairie a hundred years ago- it seizes up like a car engine that's never seen a drop of oil and stops working for a week? No? I don't really recommend the experience.

Because then you have to be fortunate enough to have another friend who knows an awful lot about computers considering he doesn't work in the computer field come over and spend a few hours fixing the problem. And he might mention along the way that he told you after the last incident-the one that cost you $250 and the computer still wasn't ever quite right- to start backing up your information. Like, at least your husband's business information. And you didn't.

On a slightly different note, I learned this morning that my friend Gretchen has joined an exclusive group of North Country residents. I belong to the group. It's the "A Tree Landed In/On My Car and Destroyed it During an Ice Storm" group. I'm actually a two-time member. Do you belong?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Have You Ever...

Have you ever started the holiday baking only to realize that EVERY cookie recipe you're planning on is in a magazine and you can't find ANY of the magazines? Not a one. Then you realize you asked your husband to clear and set the dining room table for dinner last night- so dear god- they could be any where? Then, you find them in the recycling box and instead of starting the holiday baking, you run downstairs and write up a quick post about it before you forget? Or is that just me?
** Bonus Non-Christmas Party related photo content included complimentary-like**

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Multiple Countdowns

That's right. We've got multiple countdowns going on around here. The first is the dog countdown. My parents are back from their fabulous vacation and are ready to collect their dog. Well, my Mom is.

However I have enjoyed the best feature of a dog for the last month. The clean floors.

Well, there are still scraps of paper everywhere. She doesn't eat those. She's licking up orange juice up there. The roaming vacuum cleaner- it's a nice feature on a pet.

In other countdown news, have you perhaps heard we're hosting a Christmas Party? Did I mention that? Are you sick of it yet? Not much longer, I promise.

***Right here is where I realized the two girls had been far too quiet for far too long and went to investigate. I found them cleaning the toilet. I then cleaned the entire bathroom while they took baths. I'm back now. ***

Did you hear Rich built me bookshelves? Love them. Look at all the books they hold. Even my Nancy Drew collection in the upper right hand corner there. The shelves are decorated for Christmas. That's the other countdown going on around here.

We got a tree on Saturday. Slung it on the roof of the car and strapped it down like it was a dead animal.

We brought it in and decorated it .

The railing too. I didn't realize Corwin the kitten would think this was here just for him.

Nothing says Christmas like Santa tins next to almost dead succulent plants. Because I can't even keep a jade and aloe plant alive.

Whimsical touches (shouldn't I be writing cheesy travel articles?) are appearing throughout the house.
Did I mention the dog was leaving on Friday?

Definition of Fun

Fun: When both your one year old toddler and your four month old kitten discover on the same day that you have a ten gallon aquarium filled with water and swimming fish. And it's within reach.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Obstacle to Christmas Party Preparation

Do you see the Currently Reading (or maybe it was back in February) section over there to the right- way, way down? I love to read and I read a lot. Honestly, I can't fathom people who read two books a year. I'm not insulting them, I just can't understand them. However, I recently stalled on a book.

I have spent the last six to eight weeks reading Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter. It's only 200 pages. It was ridiculous. I could not get excited about reading it. I trudged through it a page or a two at a time. It's a quirk of mine that I generally feel obligated to a book to finish it once I've started to read it. I finally finished it the other day. Then I devoured a James Patterson in two days.

This week I'm supposed to be planning and cleaning and preparing for the annual Christmas Party around here. The one where sixty people show up- looking for food, spirits and merriment. I've encountered a harsh obstacle though. When we were in DC for Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law, Bev, passed along two books to read.

Stephanie Meyer's Twilight. and New Moon. I read 250 pages yesterday. This is clearly not getting my deck cleaned off and decorated. I know I shouldn't, but I can't help picking it up to read just a little more. I think I get all the hoopla now.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Couch

Shea: "Atlee, if you're going to be on the couch you have to sit on it- not stand."

Atlee: "Hmmm.... I can do what I want to because these are my legs."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday Greetings...

Lamest title ever. But, that's what I've got right now.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! We enjoyed yummy turkey in DC with Rich's family. There was also a butternut squash dish that I brought that we won't talk about or repeat. On the bright side, there were fluffy white dogs, little cupcake sized apple pies and seconds of ice cream sundaes. At one point Bev was filling the kids open hands with whipped cream. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

However, we need to forge ahead now. Thanksgiving is over. The annual Christmas Party is next weekend and I need to make my living room look something like this by then. This is last year. It looks nothing like this right now.

I sure could use a couple of elves or reindeer or something right about now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tag, You're It.

Remember how I was all, "I'm so totally doing Memory Monday." And then Monday came and I didn't do anything? How lucky for me that Tracey from Just Another Mommy Blog tagged me for a Meme. If I've understood her directions correctly, the recipient is supposed to first go to their Flicker-esque account and post the sixth picture on the sixth page. I don't have a Flicker-esque account, so I went with the sixth picture in the sixth file in one documents area. It keeps the spirit of the task at least.

It's a Panda butt. Not just any panda butt though- that's a National Zoo Panda butt.

For the second part of this task, the recipient is supposed to go photo #6 on the sixth page of their computer- here I went for the sixth picture in the sixth file again in a different area.

It's a little girl Atlee at the Mountain House. Just barely past 2. So, now I'm supposed to tag six people. So...


City Mouse

Jenny @ Whilrled Yarn



Judi- I can't find the link to the blog you haven't posted anything to in a while and Greeley is screaming. Did I mention the baby was sick?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Still Dog Sitting

Don't you love when you're dog sitting and the dog wags her tail and knocks the baby down a flight of stairs? Yeah, me too.

Friday, November 21, 2008


See how the hands are all blurry because she never stops moving? I suspected she couldn't quite keep still, but here's the photographic evidence.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's Like A Function Meeting...with lots of links.

When I worked at the Mirror Lake Inn, we had function meetings. Can I get a hallelujah from Deanna or Judi? It was just a coordination like meeting between all the departments about what was going on.

This post is kind of like that. I have all sorts of details to convey. I also have a picture of Atlee giving her dinosaur a pedicure. It wasn't quite enough for a full post. Cute though.

The November Book Giveaway:
My readership is small enough that I think I can give a shout out to all my peeps. Hang with me. Or just skim on ahead to something more interesting.

Mouse Department: the Cranky Lincoln guy is a client of my husband's. The Cranky Lincoln Guy was just awarded the 2008 National Humanities Medal by President Bush. Whilst (I do love the word whilst, sorry.) receiving this award my husband was constructing him a closet. I hope I didn't break any confidentiality records here.

The movie Mouse refers to is Buddapest to Gettysburg by Jake Boritt. It's good. You should buy a copy.

Jana: Thank you for all of your warm fuzzy love from the Czech Republic. I tossed around the idea of Jana for a name with Greeley. I just thought hearing that might give you a warm fuzzy feeling. I miss free spa services at the Mirror Lake Inn. Those were occasionally possible for training purposes when I worked with Jana and Martina at the Mirror Lake Inn. (If enough of you click over, they'll have to recognize I'm a legitimate referral system and give me free stuff. Do you hear me Carl?)

SpeedyMac: defrocked as Judi, another MLI friend. She's going to come down to Gettysburg with her husband, Shane and son, Blake, sometime soon. I know she is.

Michael: It takes work?! OK- fine. Welcome to my function meeting. I am truly happy to post more frequently if you -you can hop on over from Facebook now and again.

Tracey: I wish I was going to BlogHer. But we'd need to increase my traffic by about 300%. Oh, wait. I have an idea. You know you want to go out for snooty food with me and drink margaritas by the pitcherful while husbands tend to children.

Next Post, Off to the Races:

So, City Mouse, John A Magee (best middle name ever, Greeley came " " this close to sharing it with you), Mr. Michael in DC: you don't seem to think we could handle a full team of dogs. Well, you're right.

Did I mention Cady has become the quiet chewer? She has quietly (trying not to draw attention to herself) chomped upon
1.) a Tigger stuffed animal
2.) many, many Tinkertoys
3.) Shea's many socks.
But, to be fair to Cady, this wouldn't be a problem if Shea put his socks in the hamper. I'm just saying.
4.) Various plush Atlee toys
5.) Various Non-plush Atlee toys
6.) The Bathroom Garbage (Ewwww...)
7.) The Kitchen Garbage when an empty can of wet dog food is involved.

Oh- did I get distracted by the dog? That happens these days. Video of the kid riding the evil eyed dog... yeah. I'll work on that.

My brandy new like idea- Memory Monday:

OK- This idea comes out of my brother-in-law and a couple different levels.

1- My brother-in-law (aka Michael in DC) called me out on not posting frequently. Fine, fine. I'll try to better.

2- My brother-in-law (Michael) mentioned in passing that he wished he had a journal or some record of his Mother's thoughts before and after she passed away. For my own children, based on this, I offer this blog. It's the best I can do.

3- This could become an effective way to slap down a family history for the kids. I, for one, will be harassing my poor mother over the holidays... grilling her for family history. Who was that lady and what did he do again? Have you heard the story where my Dad bought my Mom a Picasso, but over the holidays the family maid threw it out into the garbage? That's classic family lore.

4- I'm too lazy to scrapbook. I blog because I'm too lazy to do the snazzy scrap book thing. They all look quite nice, but like a lot of work. Did I mention I was too lazy for the pretty scrapbook thing? Oh- Maybe you are too? Maybe you've been looking for a reason to post outstanding memories? Post them and preserve them on your blog. For your kids. To Laugh At. Eight Years From Now. Because No Matter What Sort of Connection We try to Forge, They'll Still be Teenagers and Mock Us, Because That's What Teenagers Do. Ahhhh- Memories.

5- Memory Mondays. I Need A Badge. Yeah- Happy Hour Sue. I'm Looking At You. Or whoever is willing to contribute whatever I can get. I'm not picky. I just don't want to do the actual work of creating a badge. Fine, I'll try to work on the badge. But that's the best I can say, because I have to throw a Christmas Party in like, 3 weeks. For clients. That definitely means clean bathrooms.

Any thoughts before I call this function meeting to an end?

See the odds of being called on by name when you hang out around here? No, wait! Please don't run away! You'll be back on Monday for Memory Monday, right? We'll all write about our first memory of our mate. No memory of your mate? Open selection of what ever memory you want to share. Now, where's that Mr. Linky information?....

Christmas Party Prep:

Look at how my minions practice. Bwah hah hah hah hah. Does the evil laugh convey?

Comment you. Yes, you. Two Irish Catholic Families should be able to come up with enough comments to keep my vanity salvaged. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Off to the Races

I hear competitive dog racing is considering adding jockeys. Never to soon to start training.

Monday, November 17, 2008

November Book Giveaway

Ssshhhh. Listen Carefully. Do you hear it? The sound of tumbleweeds blowing around on my page. The whistling sound as my number of readers drop off? Commenters plummeting? So, what's a girl to do? Depend on the kindness of strangers and give away something.

The Gettysburg Family November Book Giveaway.

Here's the book I'll be giving away. Michael Crichton's Timeline. It's a gently used copy, because I rarely buy myself new books. That's silly.

The rules: Please leave a comment telling me your favorite historical period. No comment, no qualify. You also need to leave me some way to reach you. Comments are open until Friday, November 21, 2008. Random winner drawn on Saturday. I'm willing to ship worldwide. Judging by my numbers lately, your odds are pretty good here people!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

True Confessions of a Dog Sitter...

How's everybody doing today? Good. Good.

Perhaps you heard we're watching my parent's dog, Cady, while they're off globe trotting. Mom and Dad are somewhere in Australia. Unless you're reading this a few weeks from now, in which case they're in New Zealand. Or Tahiti- or was it Fiji? In any case, we have their dog for a month.

My husband is not what you'd call a "dog person". Is that how you describe someone who doesn't like any dog that barks, breathes or poops? And family lore is filled with stories of the destruction this young pup has caused. I'm truly not exaggerating when I say she has chewed thousands of dollars worth of things. Think about that people. Thousands of dollars.

This isn't our first tour of duty watching this dog either. We watched her last spring when I was still pregnant with Greeley. My Mom and Dad dropped her off with a check for a $100- to cover damage. And then my Mom said, "Just run a tab for whatever she destroys over the $100- because she will." Encouraging words, no? During the month she destroyed just a few items. However, we discovered that she really excelled at cat chasing. We didn't see much of Zoe that month. Unless you count looking a hundred feet up a white pine as seeing your cat.

Cady is also ridiculously strong and likes to lunge when on the leash. One lunge caused me to turn my ankle on the patio bricks, resulting in a visit to the ER and crutches. Ever try to use crutches when your seven months pregnant? I don't recommend it. In summary, we had some experiences with the dog which backed up the family lore.

It pains me to say this. I know Mom left her laptop behind, so she shouldn't be able to read it. (Unless there's free internet access somewhere in New Zealand.) [deep breath] Cady the Destroyer, also known as Cady the Terrible, is better behaved than my baby.

There is complete agreement amongst all six of Mom and Dad's children that Cady would be a pretty good dog with the introduction of a little consistent discipline. She's been sent to doggy time out a few times for chasing the cats, but is catching on pretty quickly. Zoe and Corwin are able to come into the house and eat food- a vast improvement over Cady's last visit. And when she puts her doggy snout near the cat box to smell those oh-so-alluring smells, all it takes is, "Cady, no." and she retreats to some other spot. Oh how I wish I could say the same for Greeley.

Greeley in the last forty-eight hours has: played in the cat box no less than eight times, dumped the dog water, dog food, cat water, cat food on the kitchen floor approximately four times each, climbed onto the dining room table and dumped a box of Count Chocula (a wasteful crime in its own category), picked up the new kitten by his head at least three times, unzipped my wallet and scattered $80 around the dining room. I'm too tired to go on, but I certainly could. We won't even get into Atlee cutting her bangs with safety scissors or pouring little piles of sugar all over the house.

Before anyone leaps to any conclusions, I'm not volunteering for permanent Cady duty. I believe in the previous comments we have a written commitment from my sister, Katrina, for the next round of dog duty. I just needed to confess that Cady the Terrible, Cady the Destroyer, she's got nothing on Greeley.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Destroyer Arrives Today...

She looks all sweet and innocent, right? She was probably just chewing on that toy in front of her.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

City Mice and Lots of Cats...

Welcome fans of the Mouse!

We're very excited you stopped by. If I'd known you were coming, I would have vacuumed the carpet before I took pictures. Well, I would have said I was going to vacuum the carpet. Then I probably would have gone to check my email, made a snack and done some laundry.

Regular readers will recall that I decided last week that three kids, one cat, one punk ass rabbit, and seven fish weren't quite enough. We decided to get a kitten. Regular readers will also recall that my mom's two year old black lab mix is coming to stay with us next week. For a month. She likes to chase cats. So, next week we may be up one dog and down one cat. You should come back next week to find out. Hint hint.

Cats are popular around here. As the preschooler in the faux leopard fur coat illustrates.

We went for a walk last week around the neighborhood with Amy and her daughter, Kaya. Amy's very good at getting us out and about. The idea was to collect leaves to take home and do a craft project.

Greeley enjoyed picking up leaves.

They made crispy rustling noises.

And it was a beautiful day for a walk.

Oh wait. We're digressing. Back to our topic: Cats. Both girls were cats for Halloween.

My mom says all little kids get dressed up as a tiger at some point. I apparently was. And I did see a lot of tigers out and about.

And faux leopard fur jacket kitty-cats. We went trick or treating in Pete and Amy's town on Tuesday. It was cold on Tuesday. Dare I say it was Upstate New York Halloween cold on Tuesday? Perhaps it's just that I've grown soft since leaving the Arctic Tundra and moving to warmer climes.

I mean there wasn't any snow. But there could have been.

The kids managed to cover a few blocks before the frost bite set in.

Perhaps you didn't know that tigers like lollipops?

Because, I assure you, they do.

To cat and mouse fans alike, Happy Halloween! Oh wait. It's too late for that. Happy End of Daylight Savings time to you!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Swear, I Was Sober...

How about a little back story? We used to have two cats: Zoe and Moose. Moose died about two years ago and Atlee has missed him dearly since then. She has saved money to help pay for Zoe's doctor bills so that someday, someday we could get a new cat. That day arrived yesterday. My Mom's dog, Cady, is due to arrive next week. Things are going to be a little bit crazy town around here. I'd like to introduce Corwin. The rest of the video is the kids' eating Halloween candy from our trick or treating excursion on Tuesday. Pictures coming soon. Promise.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Because I Can't Seem to Get to the Camera Upstairs...

Thank you everybody for your great ideas with Shea. It's slowly getting better. It took four years to get this off kilter and will probably take another four years to get closer to normal. Last night we went to dinner at Pete and Amy's. Amy made a yummy pork tenderloin, rice and broccoli. I explained to Shea that he had to taste something. We were going trick or treating after dinner and he wasn't going to get to enjoy any of the candy haul if he didn't try something. I explained I didn't care if it was pork or rice, but he had to try something. He opted for the broccoli. Granted, you needed a glass slide and microscope to see the bite he took- but he tried it. We've also been grading the new foods. Did you know that broccoli is a Y and banana chips are a Z? Because sweetened banana chips are worse than broccoli.

In the meantime, I made this quick video for a friend this morning. I've been hitting play again and again on it because I find it slightly addictive. I don't know why, but I thought I'd share it with you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's a Battlefield Around Here Lately...

Things are a little tough around our household lately. We've decided to crack down on Shea's eating habits. Why?

Shea's Previous Diet:
Breakfast- Pop-Tart containing chocolate
Lunch- maybe some peanut butter crackers, so-called granola bar containing rainbow chips bound to "granola" with high fructose corn syrup, and "fruit" snack in various colors never found in nature
Dinner- Perhaps Garlic Bread, Biscuits, Toast

Do you see the problem? Shea's diet has been dwindling for a few years now. We decided to pick our battles and chose pleases and thank-yous over what he ate. Mom friends consoled me with the thought that he would eventually try different foods. Instead? Instead, the selection of foods he'll deign to eat has been growing slimmer and slimmer. I have the only eight year old in the country that will not eat mac and cheese. Or pizza. Or hot dogs.

For years my mom and other moms argued that if we just continued putting healthy food in front of him, he'd eventually eat it. Rich and I talked about it and decided to bite the bullet and try it. I no longer prepare a breadlike side for him at dinner. I try to offer something innocuous for him to sample. The results?

Shea's new diet:
Breakfast- Whole Grain English Muffin
Lunch- peanut butter crackers and high fiber granola bar that he nibbles the chocolate chips off
Dinner- One glass of chocolate milk

So- any suggestions out there? Because the kid can't really afford to lose any weight.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stay At Home Mom: It's Not All Bon-Bon Eating

Remember when I told you a couple of posts ago that Amy was still speaking to me? Come on- you remember. She watched all three kids so I could go shack up in a hotel with my husband. Well, when I left my kids with her, I also left her an assortment of exotic fruits. They didn't get around to trying any that night, so she came over last week with all the zany fruits.

The pineapple was definitely the girls' favorite. Shea wasn't here to partake in exotic fruit sampling. Even if Shea had been here, he wouldn't have partaken in exotic fruit sampling. That would require trying something that doesn't belong to the Pop-Tart family.

Amy recently joined the ranks of Stay-At-Home Moms. It's nice to have someone to swap bonbon recipes with now.

Amy's holding a horned melon. No, not up there. In the picture below. The one up above is a pomegranite. Does it even look like a horned melon? I don't think so.

Have you tried a horned melon? I don't recommend it. She had printed out all sorts of information about the various fruits we were going to sample. The information on the horned melon said it was slimy. An accurate description.

Kiwi? A huge hit.
Starfruit? Another huge hit.

Sometimes you need more than fruit, though.

And so we went to visit our local pizza place, Roman's. The owner, Mike, made us a yummy pizza while we watched.

My hands were full of Greeley, so I couldn't really help with the two girls who wanted to see the pizza being made. Well, my hands were full of Greeley AND I clearly had to take pictures of all of this. Kaya and Atlee peeked over the edge to watch what Mike was up to.

Amy (I told you all she was brave) held two four year olds so they could see a bit better.

See? It's not all bonbons. Sometimes you have to sneak fruit and pizza in there too.