Saturday, May 31, 2008

That's My Cue to Exit

Yesterday - while I was getting ready to leave (as in standing by the door waiting for Pippi), Harry was busy jumping from the 3rd or 4th step while holding his sheet (he was supposed to be making his bed).

Pippi came downstairs.

Harry said to his Dad. "Can I jump off the roof with my parachute?"

Yeah. Time to leave.

And since he was still in one piece when I came home, I assume permission was denied.

Middle Class Dreams

Recently there was a meme question bopping around the intenet: "What would you do if you had a billion dollars?"

Most of the answers I saw had answers like: buy a bigger house, travel, start college funds for the kids, give to charity and friends.

What was interesting was that there was no real mention of drastic life style changes. Mainly things that would make the current life someone was leading more comfortable. When it comes down to it it's hard to picture a life style extremely different than your own.

But juxtapose this with a recent very highly-publicized and hotly contested divorce going on in our state involving our former governor (I won't give more details than that - if you know who it is you know all about it; if you don't - trust me, you don't want details). The former first lady is complaining that her life style has gone dramatically downhill now that she does not have a $51,000 monthly budget. She has to shop at the Gap now instead of Nordstroms. She had to give up State Police protection, a driver and two summer houses at the store.

Excuse me - but the Gap is a store we buy stuff at when we want to splurge a little bit - or if they have good sales going on. And $51,000 a month? I can't imagine how to spend that much money in a month.

My husband pointed an item out to me in an ad today - a $249 remote control. It has an LCD screen. I don't know what else it does. Make dinner for you? I can't imagine spending nearly $300 for a remote. Heck, I'll get up and turn the TV off manually (if you can find the power button on these new TVs)

There must be people out there who looked at that remote for sale and said "ooh - must get, it's only $250 this week." Maybe these are the same people who by the 72" TVs that they need a whole room devoted to.

Maybe the thing keeping me middle class is not a lack of money - but a lack of imagination.

(I think it has a lot to do with lack of money)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Poetry Friday - Spring Carol

It's actually a beautiful spring day today - a day that they are predicting the temperature may get up to 80 degrees - which brings us a little more into summer than I'm quite ready for. The beautiful spring like days this year have been fleeting - a few to really enjoy - not enough to get complacent about them.

So in honor of Spring I offer:

Spring Carol
by Robert Louis Stevenson

When loud by landside streamlets gush,
And clear in the greenwood quires the thrush,
With sun on the meadows
And songs in the shadows
Comes again to me
The gift of the tongues of the lea,
The gift of the tongues of meadows.

Straightway my olden heart returns
And dances with the dancing burns;
It sings with the sparrows;
To the rain and the (grimy) barrows
Sings my heart aloud -
To the silver-bellied cloud,
To the silver rainy arrows.

It bears the song of the skylark down,
And it hears the singing of the town;
And youth on the highways
And lovers in byways
Follows and sees:
And hearkens the song of the leas
And sings the songs of the highways.

So when the earth is alive with gods,
And the lusty ploughman breaks the sod,
And the grass sings in the meadows,
And the flowers smile in the shadows,
Sits my heart at ease,
Hearing the song of the leas,
Singing the songs of the meadows.

The Poetry Friday Round up is at Wild Rose Reader today. Head on over.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Five Day Weekend

The holiday weekend around here got extended by two days due to unused snow days. And as fun as it is to have a five-day weekend, it would also be nice to finish school before June 24 - and I kind of wish they had simply given us that last Monday and Tuesday off and started vacation a weekend earlier. But I'm sure there's some bureaucratic reason why they can't do that.

So we had an extra two days. Yesterday I took the kids to see Prince Caspian. They really enjoyed it and didn't mind the protracted battle scenes. When we got home I started reading the book to them. I had read it to Pippi years ago, but Harry had never heard the story (normally we try to do things like this before we go to a movie - but oh well.) After dinner the thunderstorms rolled; for which I was grateful because yesterday felt like a summer day in Jersey (but the pool wasn't open) with high temperatures and high humidity.

The weather was sunny and clear today - but much cooler than yesterday (by at least 20 degrees for a good part of the day). In the afternoon we went for a bike ride. We did both of our local "tours" and then it was home to start the pizza dough, have ice pops - and read a few more chapters of Prince Caspian.

Alas all good things must end - and the weekend ended with the inevitable fight about homework. Pippi didn't want to spend her time off doing the project that was assigned several weeks ago - but due next week. She'd rather do it when she has a lot of other work to do as well. I personally don't think that's the best way - so tempers flared. But the project was eventually worked on and now it's bedtime - because tomorrow it's back to school (yay .... did I say that?)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I'm almost to a new milestone. Pretty soon I'll have had 20,000 visitors to this blog. Check the sitemeter in the side bar. If it's you - let me know!

Tuesday's Proverb

Receive my instruction in preference to silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold. (For Wisdom is better than corals, and no choice possessions can compare with her.) (Proverbs 8:10-11)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Secret Garden

We have a Secret Garden in our yard. It's not a secret because no one knows it's there. It's kind of obvious there in the back corner of the yard. It's called that because we were reading A Secret Garden when we created it several years ago. You enter the garden through the trellis - or honestly you could simply step over the fence - but one should be official about such things. There is an area covered by patio blocks (rescued from a friend who didn' t want them any more) and a garden bench. There are two areas to the garden - the smaller area used to be for vegetables - but since it was essentially in the shade that proved rather futile - though our rhubarb is growing very nicely, thank you.

The larger section of the garden has a garden path that doubles as a hop scotch game. The stones need to be repainted - all the delightful paintings on them are coated in dirt - but at least the numbers are still visible (lets see if I even remember what is on the stones: 1 heart, 2 ice cream cones, 3 leaf clover, 4 hands - Pippi's and Harry's handprints from years ago - 5 spots on a die, 6 crayons, 7 butterflies, 8 slices of pie, 9 petalled-flower, 10 raindrops.)

Most of the flowers in the garden are perrenials which means that there is less and less I have to do each year - the garden just comes into bloom all by itself.

The catmint is in bloom now, and the Clemantis, and the Columbine. The roses are just starting to come out. Soon there will be purple cone flowers and fox glove and other stuff (on which I'm drawing a blank right now).

We put this garden together when the children were still quite small. I thought it would be a cool hideaway and a place to play. We did this instead of putting one of those adorable plastic children's playhouses in our yards. My feeling was that this could grow with the children - and I was right. They've long outgrown those plastic playhouses, but they still enjoy hanging out in the Secret Garden.

So - now that I've shared the Secret Garden with the world, it truly isn't a secret anymore. Perhaps I should call it by it's other name - The Enchanted Garden.
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Guitar boy (Harry) has groupies. It's handy to start out with adoring fans.
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Memorial Day

A parade and good company make for a perfect day. Thanks to the soldiers who sacrificed everything so we could experience days like today.
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Sunday, May 25, 2008


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We went canoeing today at a canoe club near us. It had been years since my husband and I were there - before we had children. At that time the club also rented paddle (pedal) boats. Now they rent canoes and kayaks. The rental is for two hours - but we were out for about an hour and a half (long enough).

Besides the fun of gliding along the river and the joy of doing something together as a family - the scenery was so idyllic with the wonderful green canopies of trees above us. We occasionally shared the narrow river with Canada geese and their goslings. And of course there were plenty of other canoers and kayakers on the river. Mainly families - lots of young kids. A wonderful fun outing - one I think we're going to have to do more often (or get the members of our family who have boats and kayaks to take us out)

For now though - I must say that an outing on the river has left me very tired!

Random Thoughts on Corpus Christi

While driving to church this morning, I asked the children if they knew what the feast day was this Sunday. Right away Harry said "The Body and Blood of Christ!" Then I asked if they thought we'd hear about it during Mass. They both answered 'no' - which I think is kind of a sad commentary on our parish - but *sigh* only too true sometimes. Though - I must say, we had an old retired priest for the Mass today and he did talk about Corpus Christi - but he spoke more about the recent ordination of a local man who would be saying his first Mass today (fair enough).

I also mentioned to the children that during the Pope's Mass for Corpus Christi during the week (because here the feast is transfered to a Sunday) that they brought a kneeler up and the people who received communion from the Pope did so kneeling and on the tongue. Pippi's immediate response to that: "Awesome." It makes me wonder if there's somewhere around here that we can observe some more of the traditional observations. Could prove interesting.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pop Culture for Libraries

Have you seen this? Pop Goes the Library, the blog created by Sophie Brookover - and contributed to by lots of others has gone from virtual to actual. That's right - Sophie, with the help of Liz Burns, has taken her blog concept and turned it into an actual book - one with real pages that will feel right at home on any library shelf.

Congrats and kudos you two!

I Like Sunny Days

...and I like rainy days.

What drives me nuts are days like today. Right now it is sunny and there is lots of blue sky. A little over an hour ago it was pouring rain. This has happened several times during the day already. I can't trust it. What's it going to do next? More importantly do I go meet the kids with the car or let them walk home from school? Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


The fifth grade class was shown The Video today. The one that explains how their bodies are changing; they are growing up. (The boys and girls were shown separate videos, naturally.) When Pippi came home she told me they'd seen it and Harry, of course, had questions.

Harry: But why?

Pippi: I'm going to grow and have changes.

Harry: I don't want you to change.

Me: Everyone has to change

Harry: But... (softly) she's beautiful just like she is, I don't want her to change.

Now that's a sweet little brother.

Life as an Open Photo Book

Once upon a time, many years ago, when I was in college, I took a lot of pictures. These pictures are in scrap books. These scrap books are in the living room. Pippi decided to peruse these books yesterday.

I sat with her as she flipped through the pages. First of all - there are definitely pictures you take in college that maybe are a little embarrassing when your eleven year old looks at them (nothing 'bad' mind you, but, you know - college stuff.) And then you see the people that were important to you over the years. The people who are in one or two pictures and then don't show up again - and the people who are there in picture after picture throughout the years.

Pippi flipped through, reading off the names under the pictures - I did label all the pictures (except for the last few pages - and wouldn't you know, in those last pages there are people I don't remember). I labeled with first names (sometimes last names). Even a lot of labeled people I look at the pictures and go - um, yeah - I went to college with that person - and that's about as far as memory will take me. Other pictures brought back lots of memories (many which I decided it would be best not to share with my children - I do have some sense)

So she flipped through the pages, reading off names - often the same names over and over. When she'd get to a name she didn't recognize she'd go "Oh! That's a new one!" And when it became obvious that some of these new people never showed up again, she added something new to her observation. "That must be an expandable character."

After the second or third time she said that - actually, it was because someone she thought was an 'expandable' character showed up in more pictures than she expected, I corrected her. "I think you mean expendable."

She laughed as she realized her mistake. "I wondered why he wasn't getting fatter in these pictures," she said.

She was very happy when she first saw pictures of her Daddy, (we've known each other a long time) marveled at how young her uncles looked in some of the pictures and made fun of hair styles that were just begging to be made fun of.

It was interesting to see how much of my life at college was really told through the pictures - the finer points of the stories would need embellishments, but the bigger picture is there. Some people say their life is an open book. I guess I could say mine is an open picture album.

And I don't think I'll be scanning too many of those photos in to share - though it would be amusing.

Disappointed Little Boy

Our school district has a Literary Magazine. The district is very large - 16 elementary schools, 5 middle schools and three high schools. The annual literary magazine offers a representation from all the schools and all the grades. By it's very nature most students do not get in it every year - it would be a physical impossibility.

Pippi has had something published in the magazine every year since she was in kindergarten. Harry was following in her footsteps, with something published the past two years. Yesterday, Pippi came home with the permission slip indicating that she would be in again this year. Harry looked horrified. He didn't have one of those.

I reminded him that all teachers don't give out all papers on the same day.

But today he came home from school in tears. He'd asked his teacher, and no - his submission hadn't been chosen. He's heart broken.

It's pointless to remind him that it's impossible for everyone to be in every year - even wonderful writing will get side stepped in order to make sure that there is an even representation between schools, grades and subjects. He doesn't want to hear that now. And I won't tell him.

Pippi has been lucky. Every year I remind her "you might not get in this year." So far that hasn't happened. Inevitably it will. We had a friend who was in every year except her senior year I think (now that's a hard one to take!). Harry has had his disappointment now.

But - there's always next year!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Do you want Pickles with That?

My brother, Leo, is clearly very excited about being a father - and wants to be the best supportive husband he can be. That's why when he found out his wife was pregnant he went out and bought several gallons of ice cream.

When Kristen saw the many cartons of ice cream that came home from the store, she questioned him on it.

"But you're pregnant now," he told her, "Doesn't that mean you'll want ice cream?"

She hasn't had the craving for ice cream yet - which maybe is good. Leo has already eaten most of it.

Chorus Concert

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The fourth and fifth grade chorus at our elementary school had their concert today. The 60 kids involved gave a great show - featuring show tunes. The vocal music teacher is a doll who really gets these kids to give their best effort. This was Pippi's last elementary school chorus concert - and she had a great time. She had a solo line in the last song - and impressed us all with her stage presence and her ability to belt out her line.

They also sang a medley from The Wizard of Oz - and I could tell when they were singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow that Pippi was having flashbacks to when she played Dorothy this summer.

Auntie Chris

Big news in the family today. My youngest brother and his wife are going to have a baby! This is big news. Right now I have three nephews and a niece. The youngest (twins) turned three a few months ago.

The new baby is due right around Pippi's birthday. She's marveling at the fact that she will be twelve years older than this baby.

So head on over to Kristen's site and offer her congratulations! (And the title of her site was because they were planning on adopting two children soon - not because they are having twins. I suspect the adoption plans may be put on hold for the time being.)

Tuesday's Proverb

Sincere are all the words of my mouth, no one of them is wily or crooked; All of them are plain to the man of intelligence, and right to those who attain knowledge. (Proverbs 8:8-9)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Five Things Meme

I've been tagged twice for this meme now, by two members of my writing group, Patty and PJ. I guess it's about time I do it.

Rules for the game:
1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing 10 years ago?
Ten years ago my daughter was a one year old and I was working. I'd go into the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while my Mom watched Pippi - and work from home the rest of the week. I was the editor for the Official Cruise Guide.

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Buy a bigger house
2. Invest - so I'd never have to worry about money again.
3. Fund the children's college funds.
4. Give to charity
5. Go on vacation

Five jobs that I have had:
1. Babysitter
2. Title Searcher
3. Editor
and that about sums that up.

Three of my habits.
1. procrastination
2. reading anything that's in front of me
3. not passing on chain e-mails.

Five places I have lived:
1. Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
2. Ewing, NJ
3. Aberdeen, NJ
4. London, England
5. Woodbridge, NJ

I'm not going to tag anyone this time (I'm breaking a rule) but this has been around awhile - if you want to do it - consider yourself tagged!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Mighty Tree

There used to be a big tree in the park. The other day we had a storm come through and I noticed that there were some large (very very large) branches on the ground. Apparently, one of the branches (like a good portion of the tree) had broken off - and taken a branch from the neighboring tree with it.

I was surprised - when the clean up was all done that the town removed the tree. I'm guessing that enough of the tree had fallen to make the rest of it not seem safe anymore.

I was also surprised at what was a casualty of the fallen branches. When I saw the branches on the ground I didn't even realize that's where the bench was. Or had been.

Let's just say it's a good thing no one was sitting there at the time.

A Fish Story

His First Fish

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And as he pointed out - Pippi was nine when she caught her first fish; he is only eight. (It's not that they're competitive or anything - oh no).

They'd only been out for a few minutes when this catfish decided that the hot dog on the end of the hook looked tasty. Luckily Dad was home to get the hook out of the fish's mouth and send him on his way. I don't do fish.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Poetry Friday - Singing

It's another rainy Friday here. And it's time for more poetry.

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Of speckled eggs the birdie sings
And nests among the trees;
The sailor sings of ropes and things
In ships upon the seas.

The children sing in far Japan,
The children sing in Spain;
The organ with the organ man
Is singing in the rain.

Notice the line about rain? That's what made me choose the poem, even though there is no organ man singing in it (at least none I can see.)

The round up is at Two Writing Teachers today.

May Edition of The Edge of the Forest

The May Edge of the Forest is up.

Here's what's in store this month (taken directly from Kelly):
The Edge of the Forest will be back in early June.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fourteen Years on the Fourteenth

Fourteen years ago the weather was perfect. The temperature was somewhere in the low seventies. There was a light breeze. The sun shone. My brothers cut dashing figures in their tuxedos. My grandfather led them in song in the backyard - practicing for the songs he planned to sing at the reception. I'd spent the night at my parents' house - as had some of my best girlfriends; girls who lived too far to drive home after the rehearsal dinner and back again Saturday morning.

It was a day preceded by nearly fourteen months of planning; there'd been a dress to choose; a hall; a DJ (he came with the hall, that part was easy); main courses and appetizers; flowers; gifts for the wedding party; readings for Mass; songs.

And then the day came. And I married my best friend.

And life didn't come to an end after all that planning (though there were times it was hard to believe that a 15th of May really existed - after all, all roads led to May 14, 1994) life went on.

Because May 14th may have been the end of the planning; but it was the beginning of the marriage.

The card I got my husband today says "Forever is too short a time for me to spend with you." And that just feels so very true. I can't imagine not being with him. I feel so blessed.

Here's the song we were dancing to:

Oh - and I know of at least two others celebrating their fourteenth anniversary today: Amy at Epiphany Springs and Lissa at Here in the Bonny Glen. Go wish them a happy day!

Star Power

When Pippi was in pre-school we signed her up for a ballet class. It's kind of the thing you do in the suburbs. Her class was composed of about eight three- and four-year old girls, and one three-year old boy. The little boy was so cute (and so good) that he got all kinds of oohs and aahs from the audience during their recital.

Pippi no longer dances - a few years of dance class were enough for her - she loves being on stage, but in an acting capacity. But apparently the little boy from her dance class has continued to wow the crowds. This week he was a finalist on Dancing with the Stars - Kids. He's ten.

I present Jaryd - and can say "I knew him when..."


That's how many un-read items are in my Google Reader right now.

I surrender.

I think I'll be hitting "mark all as read" and starting from scratch.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

When Dad's in Charge

I had to go out for awhile tonight. I was gone about an hour and a half. I left my husband in charge.

When I came home I was very pleased to hear that homework had been completed - except for a small project that Pippi was working on. That was good. But then I noticed what Harry was doing while Pippi looked through the craft box for things for her project.

He was gluing craft sticks together with black acrylic paint. On the floor. On the (dark gray) rug. Without any newspaper underneath. Dad was making a cup of tea.

I think I blinked a few times to take in what I saw. His explanation - Pippi wouldn't give him the glue.

Her reason: she needed it close to her for when she had something to glue. They were sitting next to each other in a room that measures about 10 x 10.

We cleaned the carpet as best as we could - but the black spots are destined to be part of the landscape (along with much ground in play dough - that rug is not in the best shape.)

Finally I got him off to the shower - and Pippi continued with her project. My husband went out to the store. It was then I noticed that I was walking in something gritty. I picked up my foot and looked at the bottom of my shoe. Salt? Sugar? Sand? What was it? I couldn't be sure so I got out the Super Broom.

Pippi insisted that whatever it was - it wasn't her. Maybe it was Dad - she suggested.

"Dad salted the kitchen floor?" I didn't think that was very likely.

As I ran the vacuum over the floor I finally solved the mystery - there near the counter was a whole pile of white grains. Sugar. On the counter sat the container with ice tea in it. Near it sat a cup with undissolved sugar coating the sides.

I headed upstairs. Through the bathroom door I asked Harry why he'd poured sugar on the floor.

He'd needed to sweeten his ice tea. The sugar spilled when he opened the sugar bowl. He'd cleaned some of it up - but I guess he then got distracted by painting the sun room floor.

"I leave Dad in charge for an hour and a half and look what happens!"

"That's the problem," Harry said, "you were gone too long."

Or not long enough. Maybe if I'd timed it better it would have all been cleaned up by the time I got home.

Tuesday's Proverb

Yes, the truth my mouth recounts, but the wickedness my lips abhor. (Proverbs 8:7)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

My son wrote me a Mother's Day letter:

Dear Mom,

You are extraordinarily wonderful to me in these three ways: being helpful, caring for me, and doing a lot for me. For the first reason, you tell me what books are really really good. You also check over my homework. For the second reason, you show me your love when someone hurts my feelings.

And finally for the last reason, you wash my clothes, you make dinner and you buy dessert. That's a lot for one person to do everyday!


What more could a Mom want?

Oh - and he actually signed it with his first and last name (I guess just in case I wasn't sure who it was from.)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Poetry Friday

Although it's chilly and rainy here today, Spring is definitely here. And although the daffodils have already bloomed and faded, I thought I'd share this poem today.

by A. A. Milne

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead."

The Poetry Friday Round-up is at Findings.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Updates on a Tuesday

Last week with the preparation for Harry's First Holy Communion - and the ensuing party - kept me pretty busy. I thought that this week things would start to settle back into routine.

But, no.

Pippi is sick. She has a fever and a cough. She came home early from school yesterday. She's sleeping most of today away. And of course, she's missing the standardized testing at school - meaning she'll have to make that up.

So things aren't back to normal yet. (or as my Mom said, maybe this is normal - not Pippi being sick, but something always out of whack)

A happier thought is that birds have moved into our bird house. They are small birds. I don't know what kind - and haven't gotten a close enough look to try to figure it out. The robin's nest in our holly tree is vacant this year, it was wonderful to have such a close look at our family of birds last year.

And on the writing front, I finished up a revision of one WIP and am starting the revision of another. I feel like I'm always revising!

Happy Tuesday to you all!

Tuesday's Proverb

Give heed! for noble things I speak; honesty opens my lips. (Proverbs 8:6)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

First Communion

Yesterday was Harry's First Communion (we're all going to ignore the fact that his real name is prominent in these pictures, and maintain the fiction that he is called Harry). It was a very nice ceremony. Crowded, however, because instead of splitting the 2nd graders into two groups, they decided to do only one Mass. So ninety children received their First Communion yesterday. With lots and lots of family members. The church was standing room only. We had a seat - but not a good view. No matter, I'll see him receive communion lots of times in his life.

This first picture is a poster I made. I did one for Pippi's First Communion too. It has the First Communion child surrounded by pictures of other First Communion children. In this case, his sister, parents, grandparents and great grandparents. (I'm the one in the picture with the priest.) I like that it shows a continuity and tradition. (Oh, and no one is too sure why his great-grandfather is holding a tennis racket.)

Next we have some pictures from church. Before and after the Mass. Notice the huge crowd of children. It was sweet to see everyone dressed up though.

And finally, from the party. It didn't rain. Yay! Ten degrees warmer and a little sun would have been nice. But we managed.

And finally, here is a card I made for my children, to help them focus their thoughts in the prayer time following Communion.

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