Tuesday, March 31, 2009

passive-aggresive dishwashing

I am one very lucky wife. My husband doesn't assume I am automatically in charge of all the domestic tasks. He vacuums, does the laundry, mops the floors and cleans the bathrooms. I don't have to ask him to do these things. He knows they need to be done and just does it. Meals are all on me but as for just about any other household task you'll find him doing them as often as you'd find me. Except for cleaning the bathroom, I HATE cleaning the bathroom and leave that onerous task all for him. We have a great post dinner system in which he does all the dishes and I put away any leftovers and wipe down counters, table and stovetop.

But of course, I still have to complain. He is under the impression that any pot or pan MUST sit in the sink and soak. And this drives me absofreakinglutely nuts. It doesn't matter if I boiled frozen peas, made pasta or roasted vegies in it. IF IT'S METAL IT MUST SOAK. It doesn't matter if there is food bits stuck all in the corners or if it looks as clean as it did coming out of the cabinet. IF IT'S METAL IT MUST SOAK. And he doesn't just leave it there overnight. Oh no...the pans sit there and soak for days, until they're practically rusting away and I finally get so pissed off I clean them myself...angrily cusssing him out all the while. I have politely explained to him when soaking is necessary and I have not so politely explained to him when soaking is necessary. It never seems to make much of an impression. I finally let in to him one afternoon when I had to empty the dishwasher and fill it AGAIN and the sink was FULL of SOAKING pans. I had had it. I went on and on until he was ready hit me off the head with one of those soaking pans.

So the other day I made some cookies and the cookie sheet went to the sink to await cleaning. I know Joe took my words to heart this time around, because when I went to put the dried dishes away, I found my non stick cookie sheet clean and sparkling in the drying rack. Wait a minute...a wee bit too sparkling. Non stick isn't supposed to sparkle and it's not silver colored. OH MY GOD!!!! The fool of a man scrubbed my cookie sheet so diligently he scrubbed the non stick coating right off.

Friday, March 27, 2009

got myself a tutor

Last Christmas Joe surprised me with a Canon Rebel xi. I had been drooling over the digital SLR cameras for months and months and months but never imagined he would get me one. And while the pictures I've taken since I received it are better than what I was getting out of my digital point and shoot, I knew I wasn't using the camera to it's fullest. Heck, I kept it on full automatic mode and was completely clueless as to what any of the other pictograms and letters on the dial meant. Any time I tried to use one of the other options the pictures were blurry or dark or just not what I was hoping, which wasn't much considering I had no idea what I was doing. I stumbled onto iHeartFaces blog through Andrea's blog. They are doing a tutorial for digital SLR cameras and I decided to follow along and give it a try. It may take some of the dauntingness (word?) away and I could end up with some better photos. I've only just begun playing around with the camera and these are some of the photos I got when I put it in the Av mode. It was tricky not to have everything all blurry but I practiced on still life and then got a couple of Kate when she was relatively still. I'm really pleased with the results. I know I won't be winning any prizes or having my own show or anything but still...not bad. So if you have a digital SLR and are stuck in auto mode, give these tutorials a try. You may be the next Ansel Adams once you figure out your camera...you never know. I am going to continue following the tutorial and practicing and look forward to demystifying my camera further still. Stay tuned for more of my new and improved (hopefully) pictures as I learn more.

The last two I turned off the flash and also adjusted the iso and aperture. Don't I already sound like I know what I'm talking about. I'm such a smug little know it all. (I won't even tell you that I only have the slimmest understanding of what that all means ;)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

what about your family...is it odd?

Teresa: We have an odd family.

Marie and Joe: (cue hysterical laughter)

Teresa: (looking perplexed) Well, we do...five is an odd number, not an even one.

Monday, March 23, 2009

that'd be some really hot soup

I asked Teresa what she would like to bring for lunch today. She asked for some butternut squash soup I have in the fridge. Sure thing! She then added "And Mum...can you put it in my furnace so it's nice and warm?" hee! heee! hee! (she meant thermos, you know)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

leprechaun on the loose

When I was kid my parents always had fun on Saint Patrick's day. My Mom, I mean a leprechaun, would turn the milk green and my Dad always organized a Corned beef and cabbage dinner at the church. We spent the evening waiting tables and raked in all kinds of dough in tips. What we looked forward to the most, however, was the singing. You can't get the Irish together without someone breaking out in song and everyone joining along, whether they know the words or not. And my Dad's corned beef and cabbage dinners were no exceptions.

While I don't particularly care for corned beef and cabbage myself, I still try to make the day fun for my kids. So ever since Sam and Teresa have been old enough, a little leprechaun has come make mischief every Saint Patrick's day. You never know what the little devil might do. The fun is stumbling upon one of his little tricks when you least expect it. The kids keep their eyes peeled, hoping to spot him at his antics but have yet to catch even a glimpse of him. This year they built a little trap, hoping to lure him in, but...alas....he was much to clever to stay caught for long. So they haven't managed to catch him and collect his pot of gold as reward. He's a careless little leprechaun though and is always dropping gold coins as he goes about his mischief which the kids hide away, as if they too were little folk. Green toilet water, stuffed toys in the tissue box, shoes in the fridge, superfort on the coffee table, the chairs turned the wrong way round, rocking horse standing on it's head and a monkey on the potty are a sampling of the kookiness we encountered this Saint Patrick's Day.

This year our Irish visitor was quite taken with a stuffed frog. The frog was seated on a stool and wearing a crown upon the landing as they came down the stairs in the morning. And no matter how many times we put him back on the windowsill where he belonged, we'd turn around to find him in some other impossible place. We thought when we went to bed the trouble would be over, but the leprechaun had the last word. We got up the morning of the 18th and found the poor frog stuffed into the leprechaun trap.

We are already thinking and planning next year's trap. Watch out little leprechaun!

on cats...and water

I have a darling little cat. Our Benjamin Baadaabooty is perfectly suited to our loud and often chaotic home. Unlike the cats we had previous to him, he adores company and being in the midst of whatever crowd we have. He will lay his fluffy self down on the floor in the middle of a gaggle of 2 year olds and tolerates, no actually enjoys, when they drive cars over him, poke fingers into his ears and mouth, or land drooly kisses on his fluffy self. He will cuddle with us but not in an annoying way. He curls up by our feet or nearby...never close enough to my face to get my allergies complaining. At the moment he is obsessed with getting outside. He is an inside cat for a variety of reasons. Number one among them being coyotes. Nuff said, if you catch my drift. But he will hear a door open and makes this mad dash for freedom from whatever corner of the house he is in. And that furball is fast. We're all trained now to holler "CAT!!!!" and dive to grab him anytime we're standing by an open door and we hear the thunder of little feet. This is an annoying and inconvenient habit, especially when he actually makes it outside and I have to trudge out there shaking the cat treats and hoping I can get close enough to nab him.

I can deal with his insatiable desire to be outside, but what drives me insane is his habit of jumping up onto counters and tables. I hate it. It grosses me out and I will not tolerate it. I have a little spray bottle of water that I use to spray at him every time I catch him in forbidden territory. He hates it. I can tell that he knows I'm somehow responsible because he never fails to glare at me each time I use it, but he still hasn't figured out exactly what it is I'm doing to cause jets of water to soak him just when he was about to drink from the dish sitting in the sink or creep unsuspected to lap from Katie's cereal bowl. Thank goodness my war of terror is working. I need to use the spray bottle less and less lately. And while Baadaabooty hasn't seemed to work out exactly what I'm doing, don't you worry about him...he got his back. This morning at just after 5:00, I woke up in shock as water poured down on top my head. I looked up and peered between my dripping bangs and saw Sir Benjamin, perched on the top of my headboard in the spot where I keep my cup of water, and he had a most satisfied grin on his face.

Monday, March 16, 2009

sour grapes

I still water down my kid's juice. Granted it's more juice now than it used to be, about 50-50, but it makes me feel better knowing I'm cutting out some unnecessary sugar by adding in the water. Teresa doesn't particularly care for juice...especially full strength juice. She actually prefers water. We have these juice pouches in our fridge in the basement that we bring out for parties, cookouts and impromptu gatherings and the other day while playing in the yard, the kids asked Joe for some. So he gave each one a pouch. Teresa's found it's way into the fridge up here. I hate to throw away food, so the next morning at breakfast I asked her if she wanted to finish it. She made a face and said, "I don't like it...it tastes like sour grapes." Now I knew she probably didn't care for it because it was full strength and she's not the biggest fan of juice anyways. I didn't think it really tasted like sour grapes or I wouldn't have done what I did next. I turned to Sam and asked him if he'd like to have it. He looked at me for a moment, to see if I was serious, and then politely said "no thanks. I don't really care for sour grapes."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

grades are in

Report cards came out on Friday. Oh, I remember too well the feeling of dread that day used to bring. In my school the principal would call each student one by one to her office and go over the report card with you. I hated that most of all. I have no idea why, because I always did well. Who knows...I think it was just the idea of going to the Principal's office.

I was proud of both Sam and Teresa. They have worked hard and their report cards illustrate the time and effort they put into their schoolwork. Teresa's teacher wrote glowing comments, describing her as "an exceptionally bright and articulate young lady." Teresa struggled initially in school and to see her flourishing now is wonderful. Sam's report card does not have the same letter grades or gushing comments Teresa's does but we are no less proud of our boy. Sam faces challenges and has had to work doubly hard to deal with them. He is holding his own right now and putting forth an enormous amount of effort to do so. School for Sam is exhausting because of the amount of concentration and effort he needs to put into just getting through the day. It's exhausting for me too. I have been working with him extensively on test taking skills, his comprehension strategies and work habits. I think it's time for me to take a step back and let someone else take over the reins for a bit. I have decided it may be a good idea to have a tutor work with him, even if it's just once a week. We shall see how that goes.

It's so hard not to worry about grades. I know ultimately what grades they get is superfluous. It doesn't determine the rest of their life. But it is the only indicator we have of the progress they are making in school and so while logically I know I shouldn't get hung up on them...I still do. I want to see forward progression. Even if it's minute, I still want forward movement.

Even though I dreaded getting my own report cards, I loved school. I soaked up learning like a little sponge. I want to pass on that excitement and enthusiasm to my kids. I see Teresa looking forward to activities and projects and future units. But for Sam, right now, school is just so much work and that's it. It's very hard for him to see past the enormous amount of work that it is to get excited about the learning. Hopefully he'll get back to being excited soon.

Speaking of report cards...I thought I had it bad, having to speak with the principal when I got mine. Joe's Mom gave me his childhood report cards. They are so bad, they're laughable. One year he missed over 60 days of school because of his asthma. No wonder he got E's. Yes, he did. E's. Have you ever heard of them? I hadn't. And for some crazy reason E's are worse than F's. They indicate Complete Failure. Nice...that won't kill a kids drive to succeed, do you think? Thank goodness Joe didn't let his teachers promotion prediction of "doubtful" get in the way of actually succeeding in life. Let's hope Sam's got his Dad's perseverance and can do attitude.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

what words can't you spell?

Last night I went to my parent's for dinner. I love to go there. They feed me, make me tea or serve me wine, and I can go through the enormous stack of magazines and catalogs they always have around. It's always fun to get my Dad going about the economy or education or politics. The kids eat cookies nonstop and play with my Mom's collection of action figures and try to stay out of their Uncle Tim's way.

The door is always opening and closing as people come and go...my sisters, brothers and nieces and nephews are in and out. We are all so nosy and if we see a car in the driveway when we drive past it's impossible not to stop in and say Hi and see what's going on and most importantly make sure they're not talking about you...or at least make them stop talking about you.

While we were eating dinner last night the conversation turned to spelling. My sister remarked on some words that always gave her trouble...before (Kath! are you kidding me!!!!),license, and knowledgeable. My brother and I mentioned some words that we always seemed to spell wrong too; pieces, pacifier, business. It's like you have a mental block for certain words. And then my Dad added his two cents. He said "I know exactly what you mean. Every single time I use the word "funneling" I always spell it wrong." And when he looked up and saw our blank stares ("funneling" when in God's name do you use the word "funneling"?), he proceeded to explain how sometimes the cervix becomes smaller at the top and widens at the bottom...you know, like a funnel. Ummmmm...OH! yeah, that kind of funneling. Ob/Gyn's....they sure know how to kill a conversation.