Friday, July 31, 2009

Flowers and Butterfies

I just finished reading Peter Laufer’s book The Dangerous World of Butterflies. It was really interesting and eye opening. Then, last night I caught part of a show about honey bees dying out, they are estimated to be gone by 2035.

What an ugly and tasteless world we will become without butterflies, flowers and fruit.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Synopsis

It’s hot. I’m tired. I’m busy. The End.

Why am I busier in the summer than during the school year? Last week, I noticed that one day I drove more than 60 miles. The kids’ swim team practices alone involve three trips out to Keefe and back because Bri practices later than Lizzy and Jake.

Summer is great but I feel like I have to commute to work, where I work for free; and then I have to buy my co-workers lunch, and make sure they wash their hair.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I realized last Friday that we have a few years right now that are prime for free babysitting. Bri is too young to date, or drive and her friends are too young to drive. Thus she doesn’t have much of a social life and is available to watch her younger siblings.

So, my husband and I went out both Friday and Saturday nights. What’s the problem with that scenario you ask? We went shopping both nights and going to Ocean State Job Lots does not count as a date. On the plus side, I think we may have found a bedroom set we both like. No, not there, at Jordan’s.


Bri just read this post and said, “No, you have to pay me!”

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Today, Will started singing Jingle Bells at church, then he followed that up with I am a child of God.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pictures on the Internet

I listened to Sarah Palin’s resignation speech on the internet a couple of days ago. While she rambled on I heard her say something about people mocking her son Trig who has Down Syndrome. My ears perked up because I had heard nothing about this, so I googled it. (I will not link to it because it offends me!) I was so upset when I found a website that had superimposed pictures of other people faces onto Trig’s body and had hateful comments from people so obviously partisan that they ignored any decency they might have at one time possessed.

I frequently have been sent vicious, partisan, irrational email rants from Republicans. I hear those right-wing nut jobs on the radio and watch clips of them on the internet; but somehow I missed their left-wing equivalent; either because there are fewer or because I don’t frequent their websites.

I hereby declare both extremists groups to be the same – both lacking in decency, and rationality. I don’t understand how one can be so partisan that anything that might cause one to question one’s position is automatically discarded; but perhaps, that’s because I became a Democrat in my 20’s.

I suggest that both groups of extremists take a deep breath, and step back. Extreme Republicans perhaps you could stop suggesting that Obama isn’t a citizen (because after all even if his mom wasn’t an American citizen, he was born in a state which makes him a de facto citizen; and isn’t that part of the reason you don’t like illegal aliens to have babies here?). And extreme Democrats perhaps you could stop making fun of disabled children because that REALLY PISSES ME OFF! And it says a lot about the kind of people you are: cruel, petty and small.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eileen Surely You Have Some Shopping You’ve Been Putting Off That You Must Absolutely Do Now! Right?

I’ve been busy this week talking dirt about my sister Eileen stealing my phone and/or it’s charger. However, due to indisputable evidence I am forced to conclude I am mentally unstable and, how do you say, blind.

After calling the phone company about my lost phone, I found it. After ordering a new charger; oh, yes, I found it. I was sitting on it. I have no excuse. Fortunately, Eileen is in California, and since they don’t have the internet there, she has no idea that I’ve been publicly trashing her for stealing my $29 phone.

She has now left me several cheerful messages which I am afraid to respond to. Perhaps she’ll forget how to read and this whole thing will blow over without my having to ship my first born to her to make up for my libel. . . . Or, perhaps I'll offer her the tee-shirt I left there to make it all go away.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Fridge Full of Vegetables

I’m glad my husband likes to cook. If he didn’t, I fear our fridge would be full of rotting vegetables. This morning I was down to kale, basil and parsley. When I asked my friend Alexis what to do with the kale she said to blend it up and put it in spaghetti sauce.

I tried.

It didn’t puree. I put in an emergency call to her but she’s avoiding my calls so I’m forced to check on the internet. I’m making a pureed kale soup but I don’t have any curry powder (and I didn’t want to open a can) and I started making it before I read the recipe (thus my expectations are low because I did it wrong); so I’m not holding my breath in expectation that it will be delicious.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Close, So Close

I had Jake mow the front yard today. He’s so skinny that I worried that the lawn mower would be too heavy for him; but it wasn’t! I didn’t say anything to him about the occasional strip of uncut grass; frankly, I was more worried about him mowing over my husband’s precious, foot and a half American chestnut tree; because the ensuing scream of agony and heartbreak would have been heard from space.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I did not actually leave my phone in Utah; because I found it in my camera bag at Revere beach. I left my charger in Utah. And it is just as well I suspended my service as I cannot use it anyway.

And I’m sorry for talking dirt about my sister stealing my phone! Clearly that was a little irrational, and it was probably due to my being forced to listen to my children argue with each other since we’ve been home. I shall threaten them with the loss of the TV and Wii in an attempt to get them to stop.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Three Things I Left in Utah

  1. A case full of DVDs. (Actually, I’m fudging. We left them on a plane in Detroit after spending two and a half days on the plane before they let us out!)

  1. My phone. I think I left it at my sister’s house but she claims I didn’t. (Did so, Eileen!) I think she’s trying to steal the cheapest phone in the world from me.

  1. Either my patience or my children’s (admittedly) limited ability to do their jobs. After spending the day telling them over and over again that "no, their jobs aren’t done yet" I am really to club myself into unconsciousness.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Uh, Dad . . .

I tried your recipe for collard greens and while it tasted significantly better than my attempt; I would call it a stretch (or possibly false advertising) to call them “awesome.” However, since I have who knows how many more weeks of eating them in front of me I will, with relief, switch to your recipe.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Flying Home

I should be sitting on a plane right now flying home. All I can hope is that, unlike my flight out, I will get back today and I will be able to change my clothes tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Newest Obsession

My newest obsession is the camera I bought with the gift card my husband got from his work. I bought a Cannon Digital Rebel XTI. I almost bought Rock Band but my sister mentioned that she'd buy a camera and I thought that was a great idea. (And there's $30 left on the card for my husband to spend, thus proving I can share!)

I've never owned an SLR, so I'm learning how to use it. I got a lesson from my sister-in-law who owns the same model and now I know about white balance but I still retain my amateur photographer status.

I really want to learn how to take good picture! On our way down Provo Canyon I stopped the car over and over to take pictures of the beautiful mountains. My poor kids got a little car sick but since I got a few good pictures it was worth it!

The problem I've discovered with my new hobby is that I already need to buy another lens and a couple of filters.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Poor Lizzy's tadpole died. It made her so sad that I told her she could have another. However, I have not totally softened. I still said "no" when Jake asked me for a dog.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


My friend Marcy emailed me her status for the week. Numbers 2 and 3 on her list involved tadpole sitting. Apparently Tad made a break for it and almost escaped from his aquarium at 11:00pm. (He would have made it too, if he'd only waited a little longer. But since Marcy has a dog -- he may not have liked it for long!) All I can do is publically apologise. Sorry! And I will call Pet's Mart and yell at them for lying to me!

However, being in the dog house affected the next favor I was going to ask her for. She mentioned that she had and I quote "A. Lot. Of. Vegetables." Since she was picking up my share of veggies from the CSA; my dad had suggested I ask her to can or bottle some of the veggies for me. Now after the frog trama I imagine she'll say no. Great. There goes that idea.

During that same conversation with my dad he mentioned he'd sent me a recipe for collard greens and asked if I wanted a recipe for chittlins.

Dad. I can not imagine any concievable future in which I would ever WANT a recipe for chittlins. But I'll take the recipe for the greens. (And it might come in handy for Marcy this week.)

Awesome Collard Greens Recipe
2 - 3 medium smoked ham hocks or 2 pounds smoked pork neck bones
5 pounds of collards or several large bunches (If you can't get them fresh, frozen will do.
2 teaspoon of salt

My favorite way to cook collard greens is very simple. I take 2 or 3 smoked ham hocks and put them in a large (6 quart) pot of water. Bring the water to a rolling boil and let it boil for about 1 1/2 hours. Add more water as it boils down. The idea is to boil the ham hocks until they begin to fall apart. You should always cook pork very thoroughly and use proper food handling techniques. You want the ham hocks to be falling apart before you add the collard greens.Take the collard greens and separate the leaves (if fresh) . Now rinse each leaf individually under cold running water. After you rinse the collard greens thoroughly, stack several leaves on top of each other. Roll these leaves together. Then slice the leaves into thin strips using a cutting board and large knife. Rolling them together speeds up the process as you are slicking through several leaves at once.

Next, add your collard greens to the pot. Since this is a lot of collards, you will need to add them until the pot is full. Then allow them to wilt as they cook - then add more. Add you salt, cover and cook for thirty minutes on medium heat. Stir every few minutes to distribute the smoked meat taste evenly. Taste to confirm they are the tenderness you prefer. Serve with your favorite meat dish such as chitterlings. Eat the ham hocks or neck bones right along with the collards.People in my neck of the woods usually sprinkle lots of hot sauce on their collards. I like them that way. Give it a try.Since this is a large pot full, just save the extras in the refrigerator. They should keep for a long time and actually get better as the juices settle in.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Life with Will

Every summer my family gets a glimpse into life with Will. He pulls out all their books, ignores them when they say hello, eats all the fruit in their house and occasionally wakes them up quite early in the morning.

William walks around touching peoples' chests and saying "My name is." He gets his aunts, uncles and cousins to read The Cat in the Hat Comes Back over and over.

Poor Jane wasn't completely prepared for him. She watched him while I took the other kids to a movie. "He wouldn't stop eating." She confided to me. "So, I took him for a walk so he wouldn't have access to the kitchen." (Sweet! I wonder if there's any possible way I could convince her to move next door to me in Massachusetts?)

Then while he was hanging out in her bathroom he dumped out a container of shampoo. And two days later he dumped out the replacement shampoo I bought for her. While we were at her church he started repeating, "Charlie, Steve, Danielle." I ignored that but when he stood up twice to applaud (naturally they sit on the second row) my husband removed him from the chapel.

Ahhh, Will.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


We got our first vegetable share in a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, almost three weeks ago. I decided that signing up for one would force me to eat more vegetables. I cooked up some collard greens in butter -- a lot of collard greens. But I don't know if there's enough butter in the world to make collard greens taste good.

We sat around the table. I put roughly two cups of it on my plate and started eating. The kids picked at their 1/4 cups worth. "Did I eat enough?" Jake asked.

"No!" I roar as I'm choking it down. "I'm eating two cups worth, you all need to eat more!"

Not a great first experience. And everyone I talked to said that I should have cut it up and added it to soup.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Jake is wild to get a BB Gun

He's trying to convince me it is a brilliant idea.

Suggestion #1. "Mom, we can leave it at my cousin's house."

Response: Then what's the point of owning it?

Suggestions #2. "Mom, if someone breaks into our house; it'll give dad something more than his bare fists to defend us!"

Response: Really? You're proposing that a BB gun is a "defensive weapon"? My mind overloads at how many things could go wrong with that scenario! The idea that I'd say, when someone was breaking into our house, "honey, go get the BB gun!" is ridiculous. And as one of my sister said they'd probably take it away and club me over the head with it.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Someone in Jane's neighborhood has a swimming pool. Will discovered it. We stopped him from going there twice but the third time he made it in the swimming pool; although the neighbor stopped him from taking off his pants.

We appeased him by telling him we would take him swimming. We went later than afternoon. He loved going down the slides and we only freaked out a couple of life guards. Later he wanted to jump off the diving board. He'd never jumped off one before so he didn't know what to do. I told him to jump once then stood on the side and called and motioned for him to swim to me and his cousin Amanda swam out to him to encourage him to swim to the side.

After a couple of times doing this a life guard came up to me. "Excuse me, the other life guard is worried about him. You have to be able to swim to jump off the diving board."

I looked at the "11 year-old" life guard and said, "He can swim. He's had two years of private swimming lessons. He just doesn't like to work any harder than he has too. He's autistic."

It was pretty quiet by that time so we weren't holding up the line very much. Will must have really liked it because he jumped off over twenty times.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The 4th of July

Jake woke us up early so we could go watch the hot air balloons. But he was ready to leave five minutes after they took off. We drove him crazy by insisting on staying 20 minutes longer to watch them.

We had a family picnic that ended with a giant water fight. Although ... when I think about it many things end with a water fight at Jane's house. On Saturday when we irrigated their huge, circa 1800s garden we had a water fight which was slightly less fun then last year as Danielle was injured and could not participate (although she did push her dad in the ditch once). Lizzy surfed down the ditch on top of three sleds and Jake tried to squirt all his cousins with a squirt gun. This year I only got mildly wet as opposed to last when I was soaked after Charlie dunked me.

I guess they know how to have fun in the 1800s! Oh, and some people really like to shoot off illegal fireworks in Utah.

A Dramatic Reading

Last night William woke up at 3:30 am. "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, by Dr. Seuss." He began. "This was no time for play . . ." He started reciting from the book.


I wanted to yell "go to sleep" but didn't think it would do any good.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Century Behind

Jane and I sat at her kitchen table talking. Jake walked up to her and asked, "Why do you live like in the 1800s here?" He asked. In trepidation, because I was worried about what he would say, I asked what he meant by that. "Oh, you have a garden and don't watch a lot of TV or play a lot of game cube."

"I like fresh vegetables and we like to read." My sister said.

Poor Jake. He has no idea how close he is to that becoming his way of life. 1. I signed up for a share in a CSA. (Because there is absolutely no way I will garden, I would rather eat someone else's labor.) And 2. The week my kids were grounded from TV, computer, Wii and game cube was fabulous. (I'm toying with the idea of a media-less summer.)

The silly boy shouldn't draw any attention to the advantages of the 1800s.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Unforgiving Minute

In tenth grade I memorized Rudyard Kipling’s poem If; so, when I heard the title of Craig Mullaney’s book The Unforgiving Minute I immediately understood the reference and the feeling he was trying invoke. The Unforgiving Minute is a window into a world that I’ve only seen portrayed in movies. Mullaney covers his life from the time he entered West Point, through his years in Oxford, his deployment to Afghanistan and then his return to the US.

I am impressed by his willingness to serve and his desire to do it well. It is a gripping book and at the end I respect those serving in the military even more as I understand now more about their training and military service. Reading this book is well worth the time!

by Rudyard Kipling

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

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