Bison Bluff Farm

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The twins' final kindergarten fieldtrip was a visit to Bison Bluff in Cobden. It was a miserably hot day, but we had a fun time. I think both of my girls have such great teachers--in another clever move, the entire kindergarten tie-dyed shirts in class colors to prepare for the trip, so they could easily tell which child belonged where. Most of these pics are on FB, but I thought I'd share a few more here.

CeCee wasn't in the mood for pictures,
but humored me a bit

Doodle kept asking for more pics and poses

Louie was hot and wanted my lap more than anything

Viva Mexico!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I spent the last weekend in May on a girlfriends' trip to Maya Riveria. After all the storm drama, I definitely needed the break.

Thanks to the swine flu scare, the area was empty. Our resort closed up two thirds of the place, and we definitely had no trouble finding an empty chair beachside.

The weather was unseasonably hot, but luckily, the sea breezes were strong.

We spent pretty much the whole time on the beach, but I did take a little solo trip to Tulum the day before we flew back.

Tulum was beautiful, and the beach was incredible.

I have more pics on Facebook, if you want to see the collection. Unfortunately, I was forbidden to post pics of the girlfriends--apparently censorship is alive and well in Mexico.

Last Month's Storm

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On May 8th, we had the worst storm I hope never to experience again. The day started out with a tornado watch (hardly a big deal around here). I was in Louie's class attending a Mother's Day party when they announce the storm was coming and that they were going to lock down the school. I remembered I'd left the windows open, so I quickly decided to pick up all the girls and go home before the storm hit.

View down our street

The first wave of the storm was simply rain, rain, and rain. The news reports say we got between 4-5 inches of rain in about an hour. We had a break in the storm, for about an hour. Then the wind came. For more than 20 minutes, we had sustained winds between 70-100 MPH. When the power went out, I gave the girls flashlights and they played in the windowless, basement toy room, while I stupidly stood by the window to watch our trees snap or uproot entirely and debris fly about the back yard. At one point, our patio umbrella flew up about 3 feet from where I'd laid it on the table, and I tucked it under the metal table to keep it from smashing the french doors. I was soaking wet, but too panicked to care.

Our mailbox

As soon as the storm let up, James came home to check on the damage. We lost more than a dozen trees, but the only damage to our house was one screen flew off a window and ripped.

Our ponderosa pines completely uprooted

I piled the kids into the car and drove to town immediately--I knew we'd be without power for a while, and I had just stocked the freezer! I got to town and saw that all of Carbondale was a mess. Nobody had electricity. I got the second-to-last generator Lowes had in stock and a chainsaw that I figured would get lots of use. Unfortunately, I couldn't buy gas anywhere. The storm had hit all of the towns in our vicinity. Everywhere I went there were lines of cars hoping for gas, but without power, the pumps wouldn't work.

Powerlines were down everywhere

The next morning, I learned that Anna, a town about 30 minutes south of us, had power. There were gas lines, but it was nice to be able to fill up the gas cans and the kids learned that McDonald's has pancakes (so exciting!) as we ate breakfast out.

Altogether, we had no power for a week, and no cable-tv-internet for 2.5 weeks. We're still working to clean up the trees, but considering that other people lost entire houses, we got off easy.

The tree service originally wanted
$6k to remove this tree
James talked them down to $400 cash

"The Storm" is a part of everyday talk around here. The area is seeking federal disaster assistance and many still haven't recovered from it. This comma shaped storm is officially called a "derecho", Spanish for straight, but it had at least 8 documented tornadoes in it. Amazingly, only 2 people died from the storm.

For more information about "The Storm," including some amazing (admittedly geeky) satellite images, check this blog.

Happy Mother's Day

Sunday, May 10, 2009

To Mom--I'm glad you were mine.

I love you!

What's for Lunch

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

After a nearly a year of kindergarten, CeCee and Doodle have come to love reading and words in every form. They've graduated from asking me how to spell everything to sounding out their words. This image is a school lunch menu Doodle wrote out while pretending to be the teacher.

I think my favorite thing about reading their creations is realizing how much I visualize words as I say them, and I find it interesting how they construct words. Who can argue that "wodr" isn't every bit as good as "water"?

No Wonder I Always Hate Photos of Myself

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

When I can't help but compare them to this:

Rural King

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's Ladies Discount Day at Rural King! It's also Senior Citizen day (perhaps they're synonyms at the farm store?) but since I have a few years to qualify for that discount (and they won't let me combine them), I'll take what I can get.

One of the downsides of living in a small town is the limited shopping. Our small mall is half full (the optimist's way of saying it's half empty--the food court has 2 vendors!) and Target is 30 minutes away. I do have 4 Super-Walmarts within 30 minutes of my house, but that hardly makes for fun shopping. Luckily, I also have 3 Rural Kings within 30 minutes of my house.

Rural King is a traditional farm/home store. They have live chicks, just about every kind of seed and feed imaginable (I first went in to buy 50 lb bags of pond fish food), hunting and fishing supplies, hardware, toys, clothes, food, appliances, lawn furniture, and all kinds of odd things, all a store the size of an average supermarket. They have free coffee and popcorn, both self-serve. I can easily kill an hour munching on popcorn and browsing the store with my cart loaded up with a giant bag of fish feed and whatever else I stumble upon and instantly need.

James bought a windmill from them last weekend. After he finds the time to install it, I'll post more on it and hopefully will have pictures of how it transforms our pond.

In the meantime, I think I need another 50 lbs of pond fish food.

Prize-Winning Recipe

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Unity Point School had a vegetable recipe contest yesterday. CeCee and Doodle each "submitted" recipes (I picked out a couple of my favorites and typed them up for each to bring to school). CeCee's recipe won second place, with a 10$ gift card and a printout of all the recipes submitted.

I like both of the recipes we sent. I'll let you guess which one won the prize :-)

Three Cheese Baked Ziti with Spinach

1 package (16 ounces) ziti
1 bag (6 ounces) spinach leaves (about 4 cups), washed
1 jar (25 ounces) red pasta sauce
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Add the spinach during the last minute of the cooking time. Drain the pasta and spinach will in a colander, then return them to the sauce pot.

Stir the pasta sauce, ricotta, 1/2 cup of the mozarella, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, garlic powder, and black pepper into the pasta mixture. Spoon everything into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Black Bean Lasagna

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (26 ounces) crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup salsa
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
10-12 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded cojack or pepperjack cheese

In a large bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell pepper, salsa, chili powder, and cumin and mix well. In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, and 1/2 cup Parmesan and beat until combined.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spread one third of the tomato and bean mix in the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass baking dish. Top with half of the noodles, overlapping slightly and breaking noodles as necessary to fit. Top with the second third of the tomato-bean mix. Spoon the ricotta mix over the top, spreading carefully. Sprinkle with 1/2 shredded cheese. Layer remaining noodles and tomato-bean mix over the casserole. Top with last of the shredded cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover the baking dish tightly with foil, sprayed side down.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-65 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer, until casserole is bubbling and cheese begins to brown. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

You Can't Get to Heaven on Rollerskates, but They Sure are Fun!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Doodle has wanted rollerskates since last fall, when she put them on her Christmas list. CeCee heard Doodle's wish list and added them to her must-have list, too. Unfortunately, the snow and ice of winter don't make for good skating, and since we traveled to Utah for the holidays, I needed the presents to be as compact as possible. I warned them that Santa probably wouldn't bring the skates, but that if they continuted to be patient, I would buy skates in the spring.

Two days before the official start of spring, the weather was perfect for learning to skate. The girls cheered when they found the skates on the front porch. Louie declared she was the luckiest of the bunch, because she hadn't even wanted skates, but got some anyway!

These pics are from their first time up on the skates. As you can see, they're natural skaters already.

Once, I Caught a Fish THIS BIG

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The other day, I saw these cute Barbie fishing poles and couldn't resist buying them. I stashed them in the garage, thinking that we could use them later this spring or summer. Of course, eagle-eyed Louie spied them as soon as we pulled in from school, and insisted we HAD to go fishing TODAY.

I am clearly NOT a fisherman, though I always wanted to learn. My Grandpa McBride used to go weekly but, even when I was in high school and living with him, he refused to take me along. His excuse? "The fish would get distracted by looking at such a cute girl and ignore the bait." Whatever. I guess he wanted to guard his "guy time" with his favorite fishing buddy.

As a result, I didn't have much of a clue what to do. My sole experiences fishing were two different times at stocked trout ponds where you pay by the pound for what you catch and the staff baits your hook and cleans your catch for you.

It turned out that fishing with three little cuties was both easier and harder than I thought it would be. The fishing poles already came with lightweight fishing line round onto the reel. I remembered using a bobber, and we obviously needed hooks, so I just adapted my Young Women Camp knots and tied them on at what appeared to be good lengths. We used thawed corn for bait. Our casts were terrible, but the fish didn't laugh too hard at us--in fact, they even liked the corn. I did have lots of tangled fishing lines to fix with little girls eager for me to hurry up so they could cast out again.

Doodle was the best fisher among us. She was very deliberate with her casts, and patient. She caught seven bluegill and one catfish, and hooked probably about that many more who managed to get away before we reeled them in. In this case, that's a good thing--less fish I had to handle and unhook to toss back.

CeCee was our most glamorous fisher. She took it personal when she was the last to catch a fish--tried to understand what the fish were thinking when they saw the corn floating in the water, and was satisfied with her one catch. After that, she was done with fishing.

Louie was the most animated fisher. She sang to the fish, and called for them to "come and eat some yummy corn." She even did a victory dance as we reeled in each of her 3 catches.

Despite our not-at-all careful fishing, we did manage to hook one of our catfish. Doodle said, "I think this one is a catfish--it's hard to bring in." I ended up pulling in the line by hand (which gave me a pile of tangled line to clean up--did I mention I'm not good at this fishing thing?), only to find the monster thrashing around on the line. Unfortunately, I wasn't prepared for releasing a catfish. They have sharp spines on their fins and I didn't bring any gloves out to the pond. Also, the line was too thin to handle pulling one of these suckers up. I dragged it to the side of the pond and it was so mad, it pulled itself free of the hook (ouch)! Before I could find something to help push it back into the pond (I really didn't want to touch it), it wiggled and squirmed itself back into the water.

The Educational Spring Break Trip

Monday, March 9, 2009

Karen came to visit for a long weekend--it's so much fun having her here!

Since Carbondale isn't exactly a hotbed of activity, we decided to go to Springfield and check out the "new"(okay about 5 years old) Lincoln museum and his Springfield home.
The girls loved Mrs. Lincoln's attic--the children's play area at the museum. Once they discovered it, they didn't want to leave. Karen and I took turns watching them play and exploring the exhibits solo.

Castle Park

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I posted these pics on Facebook, but some family members refuse to friend me (MOM!), so here are a subset.

This park is our favorite local place to spend a sunny afternoon. A wealthy family in the neighborhood built this park in memory of their sun who died after driving drunk some years back (at least that's what I heard from our realtor). It's such a lovely tribute to him, and you can tell he loved Dungeons and Dragons from the layout.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Monday, March 2, 2009

This week, our elementary school is celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday with lots of fun activities.

Below are some of the Conder Girls' thoughts about Dr Seuss.

"He's turning 105, or 115, or 150, I can't remember. Or at least he would be, if he was still alive. He's not alive anymore."

"Grandma Draper is even older than Dr. Seuss, and she's still alive. She's older than everyone else alive."

"He's not alive anymore, but we can still read his books. He wrote lots of fun books. It's a good thing he wrote all that stuff while he was alive."

"I will still not eat green eggs and ham. That's just yucky! I will try some new foods, but not those."

"Those kids should not have let a strange cat into their house. That was a bad choice. But it was good that he picked up his mess."

"My favorite Dr Seuss book is 'One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.' And now we have lots of fish in our pond."

Needless to say, Dr. Seuss is a popular celebrity in our home.

Here's a link to some Dr. Seuss Parodies for your enjoyment.

We Need Some Noise Abatement!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My road has a random assortment of falling-apart trailers, semi-mobile homes (trailers with additions built on or above them), permanent dwellings and light industrial use buildings. The concept of zoning may not yet have arrived in my neighborhood.

About two weeks ago, I noticed a new noise from the direction of some large sheds near the lake. It is louder on warmer days, starting around mid-afternoon, and increasing in volume into the night. I have not yet met the neighbors with the sheds down the road, and hadn't thought about the sheds until the noise started. It's a steady sound, with almost no break in it, like some high voltage electricity, or a strange broadcast--maybe they're trying to scare away migrating Canada geese or starlings?

One especially warm evening, I went to bed, only to realize I could still hear the noise...with all the windows shut! As I lay awake fuming at the inconsiderate nature of people who would keep their loud machinery going, I started wondering what I could do about it, and if so, how would I report these people without appearing un-neighborly. (This is the first place I've ever lived where people don't honk at each other driving down the road--even if they get cut off--so I definitely don't want to earn a reputation as that "jerk-from-the-city".) In the county, do we even HAVE a noise ordinance? Who would enforce it, and how would I report it? I imagined calling the county police department complaining of a noise down the street "somewhere," not being able to accurately describe it, or even predict when it would happen--good way to make friends with the local law enforcement.

Advil PM helped me fall asleep sometime after 2 am. I drifted off vowing to talk to the neighbors and see if they knew anything about the noise and what they might do about it. Perhaps Dottie, our wonderful realtor, or Fred, the former homeowner, might know something about the noise history and what to do about it.

The next morning, I took the girls to school and in chatting with one of the other parents about the weather, she asked if I've heard the frogs now that they're waking up. Frogs? Yes, I think maybe I have.

Good thing I didn't report any noise ordinance violation--though it might not be a bad idea to fine the inconsiderate frogs.

This sound is obviously frogs, unless you think it's coming from a semi-industrial shed in your neighborhood.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Last month, I accidentally paid too much on the water bill--I looked at the wrong column and paid the "amount due after due date" instead of the "amount due on or before due date". Rather than fix the check, I figured it wouldn't hurt to loan them the $.95 for one month.

Yesterday, I received the bill in the mail. It took me a couple of minutes to remember the overpayment. Apparently the computer system didn't appreciate the my gesture. I now owe the water district -$.95 "immediately!"

I wonder how I could write that check.

My Island Adventure

Thursday, February 26, 2009

(the before pic)

My dad left last Sunday, after more than 3 weeks of remodeling/fixing things around my house. It was an exhausting marathon for both of us, but I am very happy with the results. I'm blessed to have such a great dad who would tolerate my pickiness and let me basically tell him what to do the whole time!

His crowning achievement was definitely the kitchen island and lighting. As you can see from the top picture, it was a nice kitchen before (certainly more kitchen than I've ever had before), but I have always wanted an island with an eating bar.

This was my first experience with a significant home improvement project, and being just a little bit of
a control freak, it was hard to deal with wallboard dust (that stuff is evil) all over my house and all the other things that go with remodeling. During one low point, I came in to discover the spray paint Dad used to finish the wood had drifted all over the floor, well beyond the plastic tarp! (I'm still finding black paint in nooks and crannies--thank goodness it scrapes off without too much effort.) I broke out in hives on the day the installer told us they wouldn't install the quartz countertop they had already cut (and I had already paid for--nonrefundable!) due to "liability issues"--the island has wheels on it and isn't bolted to the floor. Dad told them to bring it anyway and he would install it himself. I so did not want my island to be his first experience installing countertop! After a sleepless night or two and lots of prayer and crossed fingers, the installers came, checked out the island (even complimented Dad on his workmanship), and installed it. I was doing a happy dance the entire day after that one.

The painting is my work. I have to give credit to my SIL Deri--her cupboards are the same color as mine, and over the holidays, I fell in love with her red kitchen. The dining area is still unfinished, but it took me 3 tries to find the perfect shade of yellow for it, so I have to show it off, too. In a year or so, I hope to replace the kitchen countertops with black quartz, install a tile backsplash, and I'm toying with the idea of painting my cabinets a cream color and then "aging" them with a dark stain.

My house is almost clean again, but we are still finding tools in odd places. Two days ago, CeCee brought me a miter saw she found in the closet, and last night Doodle found the missing flathead screwdriver wedged between the sofa cushions during bedtime stories. I'll be finding mementos of my dad's visit for a few more weeks, but we'll always be grateful for the help he gave me!

Lamest Interview Ever!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I wonder what Joaquin was on last night!

Ok, they pulled it off of YouTube, but you can still watch it here:

Understanding Parkinson's

Friday, February 6, 2009

My dad has suffered Parkinson's symptoms since 2001 and was diagnosed in 2003. Tonight, we watched the Frontline Documentary, "My Father, My Brother, and Me" and I highly recommend it. It was certainly an hour well spent.

You can watch it online at their website.

I learned a few things relevant to us.

First, researchers have discovered mutations in the LRRK2 gene have been associated with both familial and sporadic late-onset Parkinson's disease, particularly with people from the coast of Norway (where some of Dad's ancestors are from).

Second, researchers found (through tainted heroin of all things), a link between exposure to herbicides and the onset of Parkinson's. My dad was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam; he's convinced that was his trigger. My maternal grandmother also suffered from mild Parkinson's; I imagine her years farming exposed her to plenty of herbicides.

Dave Iverson also interviewed with Terry Gross on Fresh Air . I know at least one podcast junkie will want to listen to it:-)

The Home Improvement Binge

Thursday, February 5, 2009

While James sails the Pacific between Tonga and Fiji, my dad is here for three whole weeks!

I've lots to keep him busy. First thing he did when he arrived was to finish shoveling my long driveway so I could easily drive up it. He rebuilt a hopelessly clogged toilet, replaced a blue toilet with a new, white one, fixed my back door deadbolt so it can actually lock, and rebuilt the closets in the master bedroom and the toy room. Also on his list are: installing new lighting in my kitchen, building a custom kitchen island and bar (I'm so very excited about this), and repairing the burst pipe in the barn. My house is a giant home improvement project right now, with tools scattered in various places, and lots of odds and ends to pick up. I keep shutting doors behind him, turning off lights, and am constantly interrupted to find a tool, hold this in place, make another trip to Lowes or Home Depot, etc. IT IS SO WORTH IT!

Snow Day #3

Thursday, January 29, 2009

School is canceled today and tomorrow.

I start the day with a nagging feeling; I should check the barn. A frozen pipe has burst, spraying a wall all the way up to the ceiling. The stuff stacked there, including all my boxes of canning jars, is soaking wet. The pegboard is warped beyond use; I don't know if the wallboard will need to be replaced. I found the shut-off valve; the mess will have to wait.

I spend three and a half hours chipping with the garden shovel to carve out one long, skinny, tire track up the hill and digging down the snow berm left by the plows. After about an hour, the poor shovel has lost its nice, pointy tip. It's also very dull, but it's still doing the job.

I see half a dozen earth movers drive down the road--I need to get me one of those! I dig down by the main road in hopes that one of them will have pity on me and stop to help. No dice.

Finally, I dig out enough and I hurt enough that I decide to give my track a try. I head into the house.

My house is a wreck. While I've been shoveling these past two days, Chaos, Entropy, and Disorder have been playing--using the whole house as their toyroom and kitchen. I'm too tired to care--let's go to McDonald's.

The driveway is still scary--the girls gasp each way as we inch and slide down the lane, and then a couple hours later when I gun the engine to clear the berm and slip into the track for the trip up, then gun it again to reach the flat stretch of ice at the top.

The van is safely back in the garage. I am already starting to ache all over. Advil PM will be my best friend tonight.

I can hardly wait for Snow Day #4.

How Can Something So Beautiful Be So Very Vile?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Yesterday, school was canceled due to 3 inches of sleet. We had a snow day at home. We slept in, ate banana bread for breakfast, had hot chocolate with marshmallows and candy canes, watched too much television. We even played out in the sleet, but not for long as the stuff kept falling. It was messy and cold outside. I tried to shovel out the driveway, but it was rough going, and the sky kept dumping as much as I could clear up. The weather turned to rain around 10 pm, and then snow around 2 am.

School is canceled today, too. We wake to find beautiful, sunny skies, and 3 more inches of fluffy snow. Time to tackle driveway. We have pumpkin bread for breakfast (can you see I'm trying to conserve the milk here?), I ask the girls to get themselves dressed, and head out to start shoveling.

My cheap, plastic shovel can only tackle the top layer. Still, I figure, if I can get the top off, maybe I can work on the rest with salt. Besides, I have all day. I can chisel it out later this afternoon.

Two hours later, the girls decide they want to come outside and hinder join me. We make snow angels, sled down the hill, and play on the shoveled snow mountain (More pics on Facebook). They get cold and head inside. I keep shoveling. An hour later, they demand hot chocolate; I'm feeling overheated and starving, so I head inside.

I get sidetracked with tidying up and gabbing on the phone. Really, I just don't want to get out and shovel any more. It's depressing, it's slow, it's painful, and it's useless. Even after I get the layer of snow off, there's the thick layer of ice. It's like someone poured the contents of an entire sno-cone truck onto the driveway and then packed it down with an asphalt roller. Even if I can ski the van down this hill to the road, there's no way I'm going to make it back into the garage, or even over the foot-high snow berm the plows at the street.

Finally, I decide I need to at least get that snow layer off. Two more hours of shoveling and lots of thinking. Thinking how convenient it is that James is in the south Pacific, even if he's worried about a cyclone and getting very wet. Realizing that the only vehicles out and about are 4x4s. I'm very grumpy and my hip is starting to hurt. I take a break to hike down and check the mail, only to see that the mailman didn't deliver at all today, again. I chisel out a few token holes down to the pavement and sprinkle some ice, in hopes that somehow the patches will grow and make things easier tomorrow. Five hours of shoveling, and my lane looks like a mini version of the bunny hill at Sundance. All it needs is a tow rope. If I had a tow rope, maybe I could get the van up the lane, too.

James will be making a big purchase this fall. He will buy a snow blade for the tractor, or a Honda Pilot.

More Info on January's IBM Resource Action

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I've noticed a spike in folks coming here for information on the IBM resource action. That would probably be because there is so little out there. Somehow, IBM manages to keep layoffs under the radar. Below is the only national news story I've seen on it:

After Profits Grow, IBM Quietly Lays Off Workers: NPR

Hope this helps.

Talk about Convenience!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Along the road I often take into town, a new convenience mart advertises its upcoming opening.

Every time I drive by, I wonder about the goats.

It doesn't have a name yet, but "Gas N Goats" has a nice ring to it. "Gass y Goats" would be good, if the owners want to do it in Spanglish.

"Maybe Goats"? I just don't see a lot of traffic coming in for the goats. Then again, I'm still new around here. If Sam's Club can sell mattresses, trampolines, groceries, fishing boats, and health/beauty products, maybe there is a market for a gas/convenience/livestock mart.

Is IBM Imploding?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Last week my BFF and former coworker phoned me. "Guess what happened."

"So, what happened."

"What's the worst thing that could happen to me."


Despite announcing better than expected earnings, IBM is having yet another resource action!

Laurisa had been laid off with me last quarter, but thanks to a super-human effort, she managed to squeak into a job at the absolute last minute. Now, her new department is part of the resource action--the whole group. She gets to go through the whole process again.

I'm learning this round is even bigger than before (rumors have it as high as 16k people, but I can't imagine it to be true); it feels like a war zone where I hear names of friends that have been hit. Most of my friends that lost jobs last fall haven't found new ones yet. I'm sick thinking about the many more who are adding to the highly talented job pool, not to mention how rough it is on the people who are left, happy to have a job, but overwhelmed by the workload and mourning their former coworkers.

I've spent these past few days thinking how very grateful I am that my husband has a steady job and that I don't have to go out and try to find something in this economy.

Fast Food

Saturday, January 24, 2009

With James out of the country, my only incentive for creative cooking (okay, for cooking at all) is gone. With my girls, there's an inverse ratio between the amount of effort put into a meal and the amount it will be eaten and appreciated. Macaroni and cheese from the blue box--no leftovers and a round of compliments. Beef curry stew with sticky rice--a meal with at least two encores, and scores of complaints.

Since Friday night is supposed to be date night around here (and I just don't feel like cooking), I let the girls pick where we go for dinner. Luckily, Moe's wins over Micky-D's this time. If we can leave around 6:00, we'll beat the dinner crowd.

Unfortunately, I get bogged down with IM'ing and phoning work friends due to yet another round of IBM layoffs and lose track of time. At 6:15, I call out, "Let's go to Moe's!" At 6:20, Doodle can't find her shoes, Louie can't find her coat, and CeCee insists she doesn't need to wear a coat and is on the verge of a tantrum because I won't let her come without one. At 6:30, we pull out of the garage.

At 6:44, after dodging a bale of hay in the middle of the road, one possum, three deer, and a black dog that I slam the brakes to miss (sending my purse flying off the seat and its contents all over the floor), we arrive at Moe's. As I put everything back in my purse, I realize that my wallet with my cash and credit cards is sitting back home on the kitchen counter! I explain that I don't have any money and we'll have to go home, and suggest I make quesadillas instead. The crew insist on Moe's, we turn back, and for the next fifteen minutes I get suggestions from Doodle and CeCee about how I should never take my wallet out of my purse, how I should get a leash for my wallet, perhaps use an old shoelace to tie it on, or a stapler to attach it to the purse. The conversation would be amusing, except that they want me to answer them every so often, and I'm steamed that this "easier than cooking" night out has become "not so easy". At least I don't have to dodge anything except the hay bale on the way back.

At 7:08, we arrive at Moe's again, with the wallet. Louie is fast asleep. I carry her in, lay her down at a booth, and she wakes up. I warn CeCee and Doodle that any fighting will mean we go home for dinner, and get into the long line.

As I peruse the menu on the wall, I hear them fighting already. I get out of line for damage control. They're fighting over who gets to sit by me. I'm so touched, I want to leave. I remind them not so gently, "Fighting means we go home. Let's get back into the car."

"No, we want to eat here!" they cry. "We'll be good." They're tired, they're hungry, it's 7:15. I really should've cooked dinner. I get back to the end of the line.

Luckily, the line moves fast. Amazingly, their mood improves. I bring one Joey Bag of Donuts (burrito) and three Mini Masterpieces (kiddy quesadilla meals) to the booth and they're making silly jokes. Louie eats EVERYTHING--she really was starving. CeCee eats three bites of her quesadilla and declares that she's full, except that she wants two refills of Sprite, and maybe she'll eat some chips and salsa (as in all her chips and salsa), but she's much to full to finish her quesadilla so she can have dessert. She gives me her cookie. Doodle takes a full thirty minutes to eat her meal, methodically dipping everything into sour cream and salsa.

As we're finishing up, a gentleman stops by and declares, "This is the Princess Booth! You have Three beautiful princesses. How wonderful! I bet they're a handful, too, sometimes."

They're smiling angelically at him, and giggling that he called them princesses. "Well, that depends on the night," I answer.

I'm Back

Friday, January 23, 2009

Okay, so life bogged me down and I got out of the blogging habit. I'm starting up again; I plan to fill in a few blanks for December, so if you see "old" entries pop up that weren't there before, you'll understand.

Here's a quick summary of life between November and now. We went to Utah for a long Christmas holiday with little time/access to the internet. On our return, I had tons of laundry and cleaning up to do. I told myself that I couldn't blog until I caught up with life. I received a church assignment (or calling, as we call it) to serve in the Young Women's youth group for the 14 and 15 year olds. James flew to Tonga, where he's cruising around and dropping seismometers between Tonga and Fiji, to return in mid-March.

In talking with some friends they said they noticed that my blog is getting stale. I'm flattered that someone is actually reading this, so I suppose I should make it a site worth checking again.

Frozen Pond

Saturday, January 17, 2009

About the only nice thing I can say about the cold spell we've had is that the pond is finally frozen enough to walk on. Our Canadian neighbors are hockey fans and they went out to explore the ice today, and play a little hockey. Of course, as soon as the girls saw their friend outside, they had to bundle up and join him.