Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Getting Some Traction

Okay, gotta get a few things out of the way.

First, I do not get the whole tags/categories thing. Does that bother anyone? Cause I really don't get it nor do I know how to undo my ignorance. I think I've just given up. Everything will be declared worthless drivel from now on. There.

Second, the weather has turned, thanks be to God. The sun has returned (sorry Daria), the humidity has gone (though I do not for a minute believe that it is for good--this is New Jersey, after all), and it is seasonably cool and sunny outside. Perfect weather for a field hockey game! Well, would you look at that, we have one this afternoon! I'm just a pumpkin latte away from the perfect afternoon, folks! This should be a good game; this team usually puts up quite a fight and we can never be sure to beat them.

Third, I have found my debit card and procured the necessary food items for the week. Thankfully, the card was not in Chicago as I had feared, but in Redheaded Snippet's jacket pocket on the floor of the bear pit in which she sleeps. Which may actually be scarier than being in Chicago.

Fourth, Stacy over at 19 Butternut (my latest victim go say hi) gave me a most helpful tip pertaining to my doomed crow trees. Big styrofoam bells inverted in the urns. Brilliant! I may have to trek to the decent Walmart (not the closer but icky one) and look into this. I am eternally grateful.

Fifth, Man-Cub...well, he said his teacher almost sent a note home yesterday because he wouldn't stop messing around in class. Sigh. I fear he is being just as much of a problem for her as he is for us. I think I'm going to have to contact his poor teacher. I've started praying for self-control and patience for the unfortunate woman because I'm sure she needs it. Another kind soul (you can visit her here) has suggested he might improve after Daylight Savings Time for which I am certainly going to hold out hope. I'm starting to wonder if he's bored out of his gourd. He's a smart kid who needs to be active and I don't think school is doing it for him. Yesterday I actually thought up a physical task for him to do and he spent a good amount of time happily finding and hauling bricks from the shed. I was going to use them for something, but decided to have him do the work even after I'd changed my mind. It did seem to help, though only for a while. I think I need to start looking for a punching bag and a weight set for him. Hello, ebay and craigslist!

As compensation for not being able to line dry my linens yesterday, I have thrown open every window that can be thrown. I have to truss and dress a chicken and set it to roasting with the gas turned off while I'm gone and then I'm going to down that latte and lie on the grass at the game with my tanning goggles on, just overdosing on Vitamin D. Should be fun.

Last thing: Dinner last night was delightful, the butternut squash was a big hit and, in fact, I'm about to have the leftovers for lunch! Yay lunch! Tonight is roast chicken with mashed potatoes and broccoli or asparagus I haven't decided yet. I'm planning three meals with this chicken this week; I am so amazing every once in a while!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Spinning My Wheels

I'm frustrated and nothing makes me crankier.

It's Monday, bed stripping and redressing day, and I can't hang the linens out on the line to soak up all the fresh, sweet, sunshiny goodness. Because there isn't any. It's appalling outside. Grey, humid and threatening to rain-again. I knew it. I knew we'd have weather like this come Fall. Summer was so unseasonably dry, cool and enjoyable that I knew we'd pay for it somehow. Now, Lobelia has assured me that Lenny's Farmer's Almanac, which isn't exactly his, he's just the only person I know who has one, though now that I've discovered what just might become my new favorite website to obsess over, I might not need him anymore, anyway, it is calling for a hard, cold Winter with lots of snow and I am hoping it is dead right, but I don't think even a good, blustery Winter can make up for a disgusting, humid and tepid Fall. Okay, maybe it can. I do love snow. But still, I want my Fall weather and I want it now!

I had my menu and grocery list all ready and just enough time to get to the store before school lets out and I couldn't find my debit card. I think it might actually be in Chicago, of all places. You may be asking, "Why not just shop the old fashioned way and stop at the bank for cash first?" Well, I was so irritated and perplexed by the missing plastic that I didn't think of that until it was too late. Now I'll have to either take Man-Cub with me which he loathes or wait until Redheaded Snippet is home from hockey practice and leave the children home alone while I battle the hordes of people tearing around the store after work, desperate for something, anything to make for dinner tonight. I hate shopping after 4:00. And at 1:00 cause that's when all the retirement homes shuttle their residents to the stores. The aisles get very clogged by slow-moving, easily startled people. This is why I shop at 2:00 or before noon.

I have STILL not completed those bloody crow trees! I have not sunk into despair, just flounced into bratty frustration. Here's my issue: the urns I painted are on the larger side which is good. But I only have a little florist foam which is bad. I need to fill the urns with something else...wait, I just remembered I've already complained about this! Well, the point is I can't think of just the right thing to use as filler. My plan was to use dirt. But The Viking is one very busy man and I feel bad nagging him to fill a wheelbarrow full of dirt just so I can mount some crows on our porch. I wish I could just come up with something I could do myself and not bug him. Maybe I could borrow some gravel from around the pool? Maybe look for a few bricks in the shed? Maybe I'll set Man-Cub to that task when he gets home. After he stops whining about his day.

That's another frustrating thing: Man-Cub's behavior lately. I just don't know what his problem is. Is he just being a brat and a cry-baby? It's entirely possible and if so, I want to fix it! I don't want to have a bratty cry-baby for a kid. Is it allergies, something in the environment that's making him be so Jekyll and Hyde? Is it something worse like OCD or a personality disorder? I just don't know and I don't know how to help/fix him. He's driving us a little nuts. I've always said he has that difficult temperament that runs in my family. I have it, my dad has it, Lord help us EGOD has it. I've always maintained that Man-Cub will be okay because he (like me and unlike my dad and EGOD) has an attentive, devoted father. But the way he's been lately, nothing seems to please him. He is unpleasable. We've tried being extra kind, a little harsh, reasonable, uncompromising, everything we can think of. He is determined to be miserable it seems. Is this normal for a seven-year-old boy? I'm not used to boys, so I don't know what they're usually like at this age. Will he really drive me out of my tree for the next 10 years? Or do we need to get some help? I JUST DON'T KNOW anymore.

In much less important news, we have to wait until Wednesday or later to find out if Redheaded Snippet made it into the hockey program. I've become a wee bit over-interested in my email today, checking and double checking to make sure we haven't gotten the notice yet. It's kind of pathetic. But it makes me feel like I'm doing something instead of sitting here feeling frustrated.

See? I'm frustrated. I'm still doing okay, just frustrated. I know all this stuff is temporary, even Man-Cub's issues (cause even if he is like this forever, at some point he will cease to be my responsibility), but it still makes me cranky. I think I need to make a pan of bread pudding and all will be better. How very Amelia Bedelia of me, no?

Well, 'tis time to haul the linens out of the dryer and go see what drama Man-Cub has in store for this afternoon.

BTW, we copped-out and got Chinese last night, but tonight is marinated pork loin, butternut squash with brown butter (thanks for the idea Dharma!) and, our stand-by, peas. Gotta run!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Deflating a Little

*No photos today. I'm tired.*

So Daria has flown away. Her 10 days with us has ended and she is heading back to Chicago. I am trying hard not to be sad and I am glad she is going back to help Dharma and jealous she will once again be living with Baby Bee, but I will miss her terribly. I don't know when I will see her, or Dharma, Vance and Baby Bee, for that matter, again and that is almost the worst part. It always helps to know when the next visit will be so we can look forward to it, but when it seems indefinite like this, it SUCKS EVEN WORSE!

Still, it will be very good for me and my household to get back to normal, even if normal is less fun and interesting. I got too tired out last week from staying up late in an effort to squeeze out as much quality time with Daria as I could. And my housework suffered for it. I'm behind on laundry (I'm not even sure where it is), menu planning, grocery shopping, tweezing, manicuring and facialing. Is that even a word? I don't think so, but I needed a verb form of facial. I try to give myself one each Saturday but I haven't done it in close to 3 weeks now. Hmmm, I could be doing it while I'm typing, huh? I mean, not literally applying and rinsing it while typing. That would be messy. But I could have run upstairs, smeared it on, typed away while it dried and then run back up to rinse it off. Another opportunity missed. I think I'll just stay comfy under the throw blanket on the couch instead. Tonight I'll have to complete my beauty routine between loads of laundry and episodes of my favorite Britcoms on PBS. Or are those on Saturday nights? I always get that mixed up.

Today was Redheaded Snippet's field hockey tryouts. As far as I could tell, she did well. She felt pretty confident coming out of it that she did well enough to qualify. The weather was awful, pouring rain for the entire first hour and grey skies and damp, icky humidity the entire time. We all were uncomfortably moist. And, after 3 solid hours of sitting in the bleachers, my bottom was so sore!!! She should find out this week if she made it in and then we wait for the registration papers to arrive in November.

I am supposed to be getting my Fall decorations out and about today, but I'm not finding this weather very inspiring. I have a very hard time being Harvesty without crisp, cool weather. It's too humid and too...glargh...outside. But I know the next time I'm going to have the time to do it, it will be October already and I'll be kicking myself that I didn't get it done sooner. Also? Crow Trees MUST be finished today or I will fall into the depths of despair and run the risk of never finishing them ever! The Viking is supposed to help me with it so I am not left to my own terrible completion devices. He has to haul a wheelbarrow of dirt/gravel/filler so I can fill the urns for ballast and as a base for the florist foam. I couldn't afford to buy enough foam to fill both urns completely so I'm just doing a foam crust over a nougatty dirt center. That made no sense. But, for some reason, Daria and I kept using the term, "nougatty center" whenever possible while she was here and I've decided to continue the tradition. Only now I'm remembering I miss her again. And want a Snickers bar.

Oh yes, dinner this evening. What culinary delight am I preparing tonight? No idea. Well, that's not entirely true as I'm pretty sure it will involve a pork product of some kind. I've gone a little pork happy lately (and is it just me, or does that sound even the slightest bit dirty? probably just me) because of the excellent variety and quality of products available at my favorite Amish market. This week alone I brought home bacon, sausage, smoked pork chops and a large marinated pork loin. I've started calling my kitchen Pippa's Pork Palace. But beef and chicken are expensive and don't forget: Pork is the other white meat! So I'll probably plop the pork loin in the oven and heat up leftover potatoes gratin or make some mashed potatoes tonight. I think we have peas in the freezer. And I know there's a head of lettuce so that takes care of our green veg. Oh good, that's settled.

I really must be off. Must prepare for another busy week. We only have two hockey games scheduled this week, but with two games needing to be rescheduled already due to rain, I'm anticipating a last-minute third game by Friday. I'd better go batten down the hatches.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I don't like to take a lot of time for this anymore. After all, I've grieved and recovered and made my peace with it. But I just can't let it go unmentioned.

Today my second child, my first son, the babe we lost when he was only a month old, would have been 10. TEN! I just cannot believe it. He will always remain that tiny baby in my memory though I always try to imagine what he would be like-the more time passes the harder this is to do.

What would he be like? What would he be doing? How would we be spending this day if things had gone differently? All unanswerable questions. Would he be in 4th grade, or 5th? Would he have been ready enough for Kindergarten to start 3 weeks before his 5th birthday or would we have decided to wait until the following year? Would he have cried on his first day of school?

Would he be athletic like his sister? If he was in 5th grade he would be eligible to play on the boys' soccer team this year. I could be managing two school sports schedules, trying to get to soccer AND field hockey games! Would he be musically inclined? Would he be playing the trumpet or bass in the school band? Would he be studious and analytical like Man-Cub? Would the trials and tribulations of pre-teen life be weighing heavily on him? Would he be secretly crushing on a sweet little girl in his class? Would he be starting to pull away from me, hiding his thoughts and fears?

What would our home be like with three children in it? Would we be able to live in this house or would we have had to move to one with more room? Man-Cub likes to point out that the boys would have to have Redheaded Snippet's room and she would have to have his if his brother had lived. Would we have built our addition the same way if we had three children? Would Man-Cub even be here? My pregnancies were so difficult we were seriously considering not having anymore children after first son was born. Would it be three children or still only two?

These are questions I will never have answers to. And in some ways I think that's good. I don't like to dwell on whether Man-Cub would be ours if we hadn't lost his older brother. It almost feels like having to choose one son over another. Which, of course, we could never ever do. But I am happy and peaceful with the knowledge that, for whatever reason, God designed our family to be the way it is. Our first son is not with us. But Redheaded Snippet and Man-Cub are. I would prefer to have my house chaotic and full with them all, but I've learned to trust that God knows what He's doing, even when it makes absolutely no sense to me.

So, on this day, I am remembering my precious first boy and giving thanks for the life God has given me, the good and the bad.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Still Trying to Catch Up

Alas, I did not have the best evening last night. Don't tell anyone but we sat down to eat at 9:00 pm. I KNOW! WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

I think it's my new lease on life. Seriously. Now that I'm drugged up but good and feeling motivated and ambitious and all, I am trying to cram all these great (and necessary) things into my schedule. With my new vim and vigor, I am convinced I can do it all in a day, no problem. But, ah, there is a problem, you see. The medication has had no effect on my complete and utter lack of a sense of time. I am clueless about time. I can't tell you how many minutes have passed since I first started typing this. I can't tell you how long it's been since The Viking and Co. left for work/school. It's terrible and it's really getting me into trouble lately.

I wake up, get the kids off to school and think, "Today I am going to make the beds, clean the bathrooms, wash, dry, fold and put away three loads of laundry, finish my porch projects (nope, STILL not done and Daria is leaving soon), do my Bible study, sweep the floors, take a shower and a nap, create our weekly menu and grocery list, do the shopping, play some Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for Wii and be ready by 3:00 to pick up Man-Cub and drive to Redheaded Snippet's hockey game. No problem!" But I have absolutely no idea how long it takes to do any of those things and, invariably, I get distracted somewhere along the line and I wind up trying to finish everything in the evening and dinner gets finished at 9:00. I think I need to pull back a little, no?

It is raining here. And when it's not raining, it's threatening to. It started yesterday. All day long the winds whirled around, making great about-to-rain noises. The sun, probably cranky about Daria's rages at it all day Tuesday, went into a sulk and everything was grey, grey, grey. Today they're calling for intermittent rain and there's supposed to be a hockey game. A good one. The first really challenging game of the season. We had another shut-out on Wednesday, winning 7-0. This team put up a fight, but it still wasn't an evenly matched game. The team we're supposed to play today historically beats us, except for two years ago when we tied in a scoreless game for the Championship. They're an excellent team and, between you and me, I think we're going to lose, but we're looking better than I've ever seen us and I am eager to see how we do against them. AND I WON'T GET TO IF IT KEEPS RAINING! Gah.

I have decided that I am going to go out and buy GALLONS of apple cider today. It's time. I think it's also time for cider donuts and perhaps pumpkin cookies, or maybe I'll just buy a gross of canned pumpkin and make my own Harvest treats from now on. Ooops, there's that overly ambitious streak again. Maybe I'll just buy a can or two and make a few loaves of pumpkin bread. We'll see.

I've been playing my Halloween music list on itunes every day and lighting pumpkin candles and I'm just so exciting that Fall is here and Halloween is (okay a month away, but still) just around the corner. Man-Cub is going to be Indiana Jones this year. I am happy with that choice. I just need to find a fedora, leather jacket and a whip. He'll also need some kind of leather-looking (felt, maybe?) bag, some stubble, and perhaps a pistol, though he can't take it to school because they are not allowed to display weapons, blood or any other violence-related items in school on Halloween. I wonder if a whip will count? He was allowed to keep his quiver of arrows for his Link costume last year, but not his bow. I suppose it wouldn't be a good idea to set a young, probably hyper, 7-year-old boy loose in a school with a whip when there's an excess of sugar floating around.

Redheaded Snippet is not going to dress up this year because she will be on a youth group retreat on Halloween weekend instead. She says she's taking a costume with her and wearing it on the retreat, so I think I'm going to have her take a costume we already have in our costume bins in the attic. I don't really even have bins anymore, I have those G-I-A-N-T ziplock bags, but when I was growing up we called them costume bins and so that's what they still are.

I would like to dress up (when wouldn't I like to dress up?) but, as per usual, I can't figure out a good costume. I was going to be Sarah Palin, but I'm hearing of lots of people doing that so that's right out. I suppose we could resurrect an old costume, maybe have The Viking be a viking again and create a female counterpart for me to be. I could handle a breastplate and long blonde braids for an evening. Of course, we'd have to walk around everywhere singing, "Kill the Wabbit! Kill the Wabbit! KILL THE WABBIT!" That could get tres annoying. Even for us.

I think that's all I've got. Oh, not it's not. Listen to this:

I was awakened this morning by the gobble of a wild turkey. And I'm not talking about my husband or children. I was lying there, making use of the snooze, when I heard a distinct gobble outside. My eyes popped open and I lay there, wondering if I was dreaming and then I heard it again. And again. It was weird. We've seen a flock (bevy? murder? gobble?) of them roaming around the neighborhood in the early mornings, but I've never heard them gobble before. It felt kind of rural. I'm sure it's some kind of omen for the day, like everything is going to go screwier than ever, but all it's done so far is got me thinking about Thanksgiving dinner. Mmmmmmmm.

Right. Must go be productive in an appropriate and moderate manner.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Funning Myself to Death

You know what? I'm still tired! I'm choosing to blame Daria because it's fun and she doesn't read my blog anyway (and poo on her for that) so she won't know anyway! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

It's not really her fault. If I wanted to, I could tell her, "No, I do NOT want to have fun with you right now. I have had quite enough of laughing and talking and laughing some more, thank you! Take your Typhoo tea and your scones ingredients and your Harry Potter video game for the Wii and go away for a while!"

I AM NEVER GOING TO SAY THAT! Does that make me an irresponsible person?

Our Funapalooza continues. For those who aren't caught up, we're trying to cram as much fun as possible into 10 short days. And I have a household to run. And 3 field hockey games this week. And I had to make bacon, eggs and sausage for the hockey team yesterday morning. And today I'm supposed to bring oranges for them. And Redheaded Snippet has Futures tryouts on Sunday. And there's the usual Wednesday madness to contend with. And Man-Cub has been more ornery than usual. And I want to get all my Harvest stuff out. Daria was kind enough to artistically arrange the crows from Michael's all over my kitchen and dining room in deliciously sinister ways--they're staring at me right now as though they're anticipating eating my eyeballs--but other than that, it still looks like Summer in here. Oh ick!

Redheaded Snippet's team won their third field hockey game yesterday. It was actually a very boring game. The teams were not well-matched and we won 9 or 10 (I lost track) to 0. You would think that would be fun, winning by a landslide, but I don't enjoy it very much. I want to see action! I want to hear the clash of sticks, the thud of a hard-hit ball hitting inside the goal! I want to see my baby run all over like there's a bee up her skirt (sorry, I mean kilt)! Instead, Daria and I got bored (which is NEVER a good thing) and began the most asinine debate spurred by her sunglare-induced rage. We were sitting facing the sun which had the nerve to blaze out in gorgeous flame yesterday afternoon. It was not hot, oh no. The temperature was perfect. There wasn't a cloud in the storybook-blue sky. But we couldn't look at the field without shading both eyes with our hands and squinting, despite the sunglasses. And Daria, apparently, had had enough of it and began wild talk of starting an Anti-Sun Society. The A.S.S. She would be it's Grand Master. Fitting, truly.

So, we sipped the tea and sausage rolls I had packed and surely drove the poor woman who had the misfortune to set her blanket on the ground next to us halfway out of her mind with our verbal diarrhea. We are very good at that. We've decided it's because we both love vocabulary, we're both raging dorks, and we are very skilled at riding that line between pithy profundity and vapid nonsense. The Viking doesn't usually play along with me like Daria does. We get about 3 steps in before he goes, "Whatever" and starts planning next year's vegetable garden in his head. Daria will go all the way to complete and utter absurdity at a moment's notice with no hesitation at all.

Sigh. I made the most Badass Shepherd's Pie last night, did I tell you that? Oh, man, it was to die for! Oooh! I think there's some in the fridge! When is lunch? Oh, an hour and a half...can't wait for lunch! It took me almost two hours to make it as I had to repair the damage I had previously done to the kitchen while cooking bacon, sausage and eggs for 22 junior high girls while I was trying to make dinner. But it was worth the wait. Actually, it was Cottage Pie. I did not use lamb. But one of these days I will, and I bet it will be swoony!

I don't really know what's for dinner tonight and that is not a good thing. I know I had planned something, I just can't remember what. Maybe it was the London Broil with Potatoes Gratin. But then, what's for dinner tomorrow night? Maybe we'll have to eat on the run. There's another game this afternoon and I may not have time to cook anything anyway.

So, I'm supposed to be catching up on stuff. Showering. Laundry. Ironing. Sweeping. Dishes. Maybe even sleep. I am sleepy and tired of my house being a near mess. It's not a full-blown mess, but it's just a few steps away. I keep saying I'll catch up tomorrow, but then that day gets so filled with stuff I don't have the time and push it off again. Maybe tomorrow. There's no game and nothing going on in the evening. It might be a good day for it then.

We'll see...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Worn Out

I'm worn to a frazzle. From both fun and fear.

What a weekend. I need just one more day to recouperate and get ready for the week ahead. Can't I have one more day? Just one? Please? No, it's Sunday night and our busy week begins in little less than 12 hours.

Daria and I have beaten the fun out of this weekend. We've shopped for craft supplies, taken walks in the woods, played video and computer games, sipped tea, attended a field hockey game, began construction of my very first Harvest/Halloween craft project (description and photos pending), and laughed ourselves rotten.

Friday was just about the perfect Autumn day. The weather was cool, crisp and ridiculously sunshiny. Redheaded Snippet's game was the perfect opportunity to bring my favorite corduroy jacket and hand-knitted scarf out of storage. Good friends came to the game with us and we all sipped hot chocolate and spiced chai and cheered and clapped. Afterwards we had The Viking's celebratory feast with all his favorite manly foods: ribs, stuffed jalapenos, shrimp (there was some debate as to the manliness of shrimp), Smithwick's and sour cream cheesecake. He gota bottle of Glenlivet and a wool fedora as gifts. I came home later that night (after a last-minute Walmart run) to find him sitting on the porch steps with a cigar in one hand and a tumbler of whiskey in another, a very happy and contented man.

Needless to say, we got to bed late Friday night. We had been asleep for only an hour or so when the phone rang at 2:00 am. That is never a good thing. It was a very grave Daria telling me Dharma (21 wks pregnant) was on her way to the hospital with contractions and lots of pressure. Mom had already booked a flight and was packing her bags. Dharma and Vance were beside themselves, having lost twin girls at 21 weeks just three years ago.

We called Lobelia. Daria came over. None of us could sleep. The Viking poured out a round of whiskey to calm our nerves (I was trembling from head to foot) and we sat, waiting and crying. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. Another funeral for an infant? Another tiny white casket? Another year or more of trying to heal from a devastating loss? I was terrified, and not just of losing another niece.

Almost two hours later, Mom called again. Dharma and the baby were fine. Absolutely perfect, in fact. Apparently, the increase in the baby's size and lower position in the uterus was causing the increase in pressure. And, several weeks ago, Dharma had had a cerclage, a procedure in which the cervix is literally sewn shut. Dharma's was done with a thick ribbon-like tape that, previously unbeknownst to her, has a long tail that hangs down into the birth canal. As the baby has grown, the tail of the tape has dropped lower and lower. Dharma didn't realize this and when she was able to feel the end of the tape for the first time, she thought the cerclage had worked its way out and with the increased pressure she'd been feeling, assumed the worst and thought delivery was imminent.

The good news brought fresh tears of relief, another call to Lobelia, and another round of whiskey. We were too keyed up to sleep after all that and wound up going to bed at dawn. This led to all of us sleeping past noon and lying around like sleepy slugs all day Saturday. After the excitement of the night before, we were pretty worn out.

This morning we all had to be up bright and early to attend Vantastic's dedication service. That boy just might be the sweetest-faced baby I've ever seen and I've seen a LOT of cute babies! He's not just cute, he's so sweeeeeeeeeeet! And getting to be with two of my sisters at once, while not nearly the joy that is being with all three of them, is a delight that is becoming increasingly rare. But, dang! I'm tired! Something about having to be in fancy clothes with nice shoes and stockings all day long just drains me or something. It's only 9:30 and I'm more than ready for bed!

So, I'm worn out! All the activity, both good and bad, has taken its toll. I'm not even going to go back over this post and check it for mistakes, that's how tired I am! So, if you've come across typos or grammatical errors tonight, just remember I'm running on a very low battery.

Right then. I must to bed. A day of excessive busyness arrives with the dawn.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Well, Bless My Soul!

So, last night I went into Philly to pick up my mom at the airport. She had been visiting my sisters in Chicago. Dharma, Vance and Baby Bee are living there now and Daria has been staying there to help Dharma while she's on bed rest (20 weeks and counting). Dharma had had a few scares with contractions so Mom went out for extra support.

I get to the airport, find Mom pretty easily (only had to circle the terminal 4 times dodging kamikaze taxis and airport shuttles) and just as we're pulling away from the terminal, she says, absentmindedly, "Oh, I have to stop at Terminal C for a second." WHAT?? What the heck for? That's what I asked, crabbily. It was 11:30 at night. And now that I'm being normalized by pretty, little, lavender thyroid candy I go to bed by 11:00. I was tired. She said, "Oh, it'll just take a second. Here, right here."

I look ahead to where she's pointing and she a person standing in the distance who, for a split second, looks a lot like Daria. And before my mind can compute the retro glasses, rust-colored sweat jacket and faded jeans, I realize, IT IS DARIA! I literally gasped and it's a good thing there weren't any cars anywhere around me because I just cut straight across two lanes to get over to her!

Mom and Daria were both laughing at my shock and excitement, and I almost cried (I actually did jump up and down a little while hugging her) but I didn't care! I have been missing my baby sister SO MUCH lately and Autumn is the WORST time to be far from her. She is my partner in crime in all Fall Frolickings. I've been planning things for the weeks and months ahead with bittersweet sighs, knowing she wouldn't be here for them. She's only here for 10 days, but we can cram enough seasonal silliness into that amount of time to hold us for a while. Believe me, if there is anyone who is good at silliness cramming, it's me and Daria. Here's what we're going to do:

1. Laugh. A lot. And a little more.
2. Indulge in our favorite fall foods: pumpkin cookies, tea and scones (well that's a favorite year-round), beef stew, shepherd's pie, hot cider, cold cider, apple crisp for a start.
3. Go apple picking.
4. Scream ourselves silly at several of Redheaded Snippet's hockey games (NO ONE is more fun to spectate with at a junior high game than Daria) and probably mock the other players' hair and clothing choices behind our hands.
5. Catch up on Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga for Wii. Don't judge me. It is what it is.
6. Catch up on The Sims 2. I gave SimDaria a beyond-belief castle and a kilt-wearing, mohawk-sporting husband that she needs to see. Again with the judgement, alright?
7. Wander around Michael's drooling over art supplies and Halloween decor.
8. Rent Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for Wii. We've been planning that all summer.
9. Laugh some more. Drink some more tea.
10. I can't think of a tenth but I'm leaving it open because there are always unplanned fun things to do.

On that note, I may not be blogging as much for the next few days. I will be busy stocking up on fun instead! But, Daria always provides me with lovely blog fodder so I'm sure it will be worth it, blogwise. Well, we're off to several of our favorite haunts today and there is lots to do so I must go!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Real Quick

Just a quickie here as I have scads of errands to run!

I've got a bad case of Fall Fever. I get it every year. There is no treatment and the only cure is Thanksgiving. So, I figure I've got about 9-10 weeks to get through before relief is in sight. I am buying pumpkin cookies today if I have to sell a few inches of my hair for it! I am putting my fall decorations out if I have to wake up at the butt-crack of dawn to find the time! I MAY even go for a gleeful frolic in the woods across the street to forage for inspiration from Nature's bounty.

I am also going to be yelling and clapping at another hockey game this afternoon (go Snippet!) and preparing a birthday feast suitable for a Viking. Okay, maybe not a real, historical Viking, I doubt I would allow one of those near my house or children, but for my real-live Viking, it will be a suitable, manly feast.

Remember my dilemma? What to prepare for my man to show him I love him best of all? I was really leaning toward the fancy lamb and veg dinner, but Redheaded Snippet suggested I go with the less formal choice and I think she is probably right. So, I am picking up racks and racks of The Viking's favorite ribs (I keep envisioning a rack of ribs as large as Fred Flinstone's, you know when the car flips over?), vats and vats of beer (Redheaded Snippet's exacts words), troupes of shrimp (did you know they travel in troupes? I googled it), jalapeno poppers and anything else I see that I know he loves and doesn't usually get to have. We're also renting a few guy movies for him and Man-Cub to watch together. Batman Begins was a special request. And if I see a good video game for rent, I'll pick that up, too. There has also been a request for Cheetos, Pringles and Combos with pretzels and cheese. We shall see. I think it shall be a fun night, don't you? I'd better not forget the Tums. Lots and lots of Tums.

In other news, we've decided to try to get Redheaded Snippet into the US Field Hockey Futures program. After much discussion we've decided to treat the time and money required as an investment for college. She seems to have talent and potential and God has placed us in the school district that is home to the best high school hockey team and coach in the state and the third best in the nation. It would seem foolish not to. Try-outs are next Sunday and I'm really excited for her! I'm pretty sure she'll get in, but you never know!

Right, I'm off to fill my shopping bags and drain my wallet!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Piss and Moan

Okay, I can't remember the last time I posted twice in one day, but I cannot go to sleep until I get this off of me!

I had such high hopes for today, despite it being Wicked Wednesday (and not in a good way, mind), such visions of glory, lofty get the idea right?

Well, it was a limping disaster. Oh fie!

The ONLY good thing that happened was my discovery of the delights of the Asian-Indian market (NOT Pakistani as I had former--and mistakenly--believed). The shop wasn't fancy, but it was fascinating! Such exotic scents and spices and grains. If I ever need green cardamom pods, a beautiful sari or household Buddha, I know where to go! I did in fact need the cardamom today, as well as whole cloves, and as I didn't want to pay $11 for half a teaspoon, I decided not to get them at Wegman's. Wegman's, you know I love you, truly I do, no one else has that yummy French-Canadian yogurt I could eat like ice cream, but your international foods are overpriced. I got 7 oz of cardamom and whole cloves and I paid, like, $5 for it all! I also got several funny looks while perusing the shelves. It wasn't until I was in the checkout lane and the Indian woman wearing the beautiful sari (I really do think I want one of those) in front of me turned completely around to get a good look at me that I realized I was the only non-Asian person in the store. They must have been wondering what on earth I was doing there!

Once I left the store and my spice buzz wore off, things just went downhill from there. I had decided to make pecan bars for The Viking to share in class tonight. I've never made them before, but they're just like pecan pie in bar form, right? And I make pecan pie twice every year (Thanksgiving and Christmas) because it's The Viking's favorite, right? So it should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong, wrong and more wronger!

Ha! Those stupid bars would not set, not matter how long I fried their little bums. And I had to make a tin foil sling. And I didn't have cooking spray. So I had to butter the tin foil sling. And the whole process just made me want to fling the whole thing on the floor and stamp on it. Then as I'm sliding the stupid pan into the oven I notice that the bars need to cool for two hours before cutting. I was leaving for church in 45 minutes. Great plans for super-wife brownie points dashed to ruins.

So I turned my attention to dinner: the curry and rice, hence the cardamom and cloves. I've made these dishes before, but I guess I'd conveniently forgotten how high-maintenance they are. There's a lot of chopping, dicing and mincing, not to mention stirring and babysitting. Not a good choice for my busiest day of the week, especially when I've already added baking to it.

Long story short, we were 30 minutes late for church, I was a frenzied lunatic of a mess, my kitchen looked even worse, I burned the rice, there wasn't even enough to feed the four of us and I had to leave the bollocky pecan bars at home to bloody cool!

See? Limping. Disaster.

Oh, but there's more.

I got home late, exhausted and sore, looking forward to cutting up a nice, large gooey pecan bar for The Viking. I gently and painstakingly extricated those pesky bars from their aluminum prison. I proudly presented my husband with the ceremonial first piece. I waited until he made the appropriate noises and then happily cut one for myself. I poured a glass of cold milk and dug in...

They were terrible! They were salty! Salt! They tasted like salt! What gives??? There was only a teaspoon of salt in that recipe! I double checked And there wasn't any white sugar in it, so I couldn't have accidentally put salt in by mistake (by the way, Daria did that once when making apple crisp--it was so gaggingly terrible, it was hilarious)! It is going to drive me crazy if I can't figure it out!

There, I think I got it all out. The veg curry was good so I might be able to sleep if I just meditate on that for a while. Yes, I think that's the solution. Veg curry dreams to you all!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Almost Officially Autumn

Victory! None of the girls on either team played with any kind of passion yesterday, and they all seemed to be having trouble with the straggly grass on the patchy field, but we still managed to win 5-0. Redheaded Snippet had a mixed game as she scored a goal and made several breaks, but finished the game crawling off the field with a charley horse in both legs. She's the center mid this year, which requires horrifying amounts of running, but apparently, the real problem was she wasn't drinking enough water. She got dehydrated and her legs cramped up. I'm going to go out and buy her a bigger water jug!

Dinner last night was a success, too, thank you for asking! We got home at 6:15, tired and hungry and all I had to do was transfer the roast and veg to a platter and whisk up some gravy while The Viking and Man-Cub set the table (Redheaded Snippet was stretching out those calf muscles). We were at the table in roast beef heaven within 15 minutes of walking in the door! I got the mouth-full-thumbs-up from The Viking across the table! That's what I look for!

Tonight I'm planning a vegetable curry with basmati rice but I still have to get to the Pakistani market for some cardamom pods and whole cloves. And I want to bake something yummy for The Viking to share in his bible study class tonight as it's HIS BIRTHDAY!

Yes, that's right. And that IS an actual photo of me and My Viking taken several years ago in Cape May on our Anniversary! I can share old photos that are already loaded into the computer just fine!Today is the day my darling bloody hairy beast of a husband was born, 37 years ago! This morning, Man-Cub gave him this fire engine M&Ms dispenser for his desk at work but the other gifts are waiting until we have his official birthday dinner which will be Friday or Saturday.

I'm still looking through my spell books for the perfect magic brew for the celebration. Now that my cooking skills have gotten to be so much better, I'm feeling a little more confident in whipping up something truly impressive. I asked The Viking last night what he thought he might like for his special dinner. He thought for a second and then said, "Lasagna?" Lasagna? Why not just stir up a pot of hamburger helper? Gah. I think I may just ignore him and make shrimp cocktail, some fancy-ass salad, lamb shanks braised in red wine, potatoes gratin, and a superb dessert to knock his socks off that I haven't settled on yet. What do you think? Or should I cater to his Viking side and present him with several huge racks of ribs and a vat of beer? We shall see. But, lasagna? Honestly...

So, has it hit you yet? Fall Fever? Are the leaves beginning to turn where you are? Have the nights turned crisp yet? Are the days lovely and mild? Have you caught a glimpse of any early-birds with their Autumn decor displayed? Yesterday was the first day I woke up chilly because of the open window and had to shrug into my jacket in the afternoon! It made me want to make pumpkin soup and beef stew and hot apple cider.

I LOVE Fall! It's my favorite time of year and I always feel like I've come back to life when the weather turns brisk and dry leaves scuttle along the sidewalks and streets. I love the orange glow of pumpkins, the creepiness of dry, dead cornstalks, the muted russety colors of pots of mums. I love the eeriness of crows, bats, full moons, howling winds; the sticky sweetness of caramel apples, hot cocoa and bowls and bowls of trick-or-treat candy. I love tromping through an orchard or pumpkin patch with pink cheeks and a numb nose, wearing a bright scarf and my favorite corduroy jacket. I love field hockey games, Halloween parades, back yard bonfires and snuggling up in flannel bedding, falling asleep to the sound of crickets.

I'm dying to go into a Fall Frenzy over here! I want mums everywhere! Pumpkins everywhere! Bittersweet vines wound wherever they can be wound! Cornstalks! Indian corn! Crows bats spiders mice! ACK! I want it all and I want it now! I want to plan weeks and weeks of hearty, stick-to-your-ribs comfort foods like chili and cornbread, shepherd's pie, bangers-n-mash, lamb stew! I also want my blog to be decked out for fall, but I have spent days and days trying to figure out how to do it and all I've got are a few favorite fall images in my sidebar and that familiar ache between my shoulder blades. I am a pathetically lame blogger.

So, imagine you're looking at beautiful Autumn images in shades of orange, rust, brown, and goldenrod, okay? Imagine beautiful, soothing, mellow Autumnal music (it's out there, be creative). And if you have any good resources for me, please tell me!

Sigh. I must be off. There are beds to make, clothes to wash and goodies to bake.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Every Corner is a Goal! Score! Score!

Field hockey game this afternoon! WHOOOOOOOOOOO! I am so totally stoked! Friday's game was rained out so this is the official first game of Redheaded Snippet's last season on this team (next year: the high school team)! It makes me a bit sad that this is our last year because it has gone by us just so fast, but I'm sure the next few years will be even more exciting.

I have to be off in just a few minutes (have to gather drinks and snacks and chairs and jackets just in case--it's a bit chilly today THANK GOD) but I did want to report that I was able to get through the day and night yesterday without committing any sort of punishable crime. I sulked and sighed in the recliner the rest of the night while The Viking accomodatingly made dinner and cleaned up afterwards (homemade cheese steaks--yum). Then I hauled ass to bed and made the most of my beauty sleep. Which didn't really help because every time my face realizes the rest of my body is in PMS panic mode it has to get in on the action and act out in all sorts of unattractive ways. Which is why I need to stop and go plaster some fake beauty all over my face. I don't want to distract our girls while they're trying to win their very first game of the season, now, do I?

That is all except I have NOT completed my chores for the day (making the beds, tidying the kitchen, cleaning the bathrooms, empyting the trash, doing the laundry) but I HAVE completed preparations for dinner. A-HA! So THERE! A cheap but tasty pot roast is simmering nicely nestled in a pot full of veg in the Thermowell. In fact, the timer just dinged so I get to turn the gas off and let everything cook on all that lovely retained heat for the next 3 hours or so. When we come home from the game, all will be miraculously ready and delicious! I know I've said it before, but that's the beauty of vintage technology for you!

Off to yell and clap myself silly on the sidelines!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bitching Hour

I have found the chink in my thyroid medicine's armor: PMS! I am in full raging-bitch-on-wheels mode! Red alert! Red alert! This is not a drill! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! All in one day I have cried for no reason, been bitchy for no reason, had three headaches (I know, maybe it's the same headache just taking pee breaks, whatever, shut up), taken a three-hour power nap, whined about stupid things like why we have no cereal left (I mean, I just bought two boxes two days ago and they're gone! that's a box a day! that's carbohydrate overload!), laughed myself silly over the cute little things my kids do, and inhaled exactly 3.53 ounces of chocolate. I think I would recommend everyone just stay away from me for another 24-48 hours. This is how I used to be when I was young and my thyroid was still pulling its own weight. So it's a good sign, but I think I might be driving my family to contemplate restraining and gagging me.

I was going(I just cannot stop with the italics tonight) to bake my own very healthy, very yummy granola bars this weekend and continue with my campaign to shock and amaze all who know me. But, alas, it was not to be. My ovaries had other plans for me. I did my shopping blitz on Friday (pre-PMS) and brought home all kinds of clever little bits of healthy food with which to fool my children into eating something nutritious at least once a day.

See? I was going to chop and roast and mix and bake and have little bars of love to wrap up and nestle sweetly in Man-Cub's lunch box. I was going to be waiting at the door with my apron on and a tray of homemade bars and a tall glass of ice cold milk when the children got home from school! I was going to be the best mom ever!

But now? It's Sunday night and I haven't baked a single thing and now there are no granola bars to pack for tomorrow's lunch. And we've snacked on all the yummies all weekend (after I told everyone--including myself--not to) and I'm not sure there's enough left to even make granola bars. Damn ovaries.

I am also, like, totally bummed that I don't have a clever little camera at my disposal all the time anymore! We lost it back in May, but I've been in denial about it and keep trying to believe it will turn up and we'll slap ourselves on the forehead in disbelief that it was there this whole time. I don't want to believe that someone else has absconded with it and has callously deleted all our happy family photos to use the card space for revolting photos like dogs dressed up in costumes or friends throwing up at keggers or something. But I fear it's true. Either that, or the camera is lying in a field or at the bottom of a river in New Hampshire and is in ruins due to either the cows or the water. Oh well. Easy come, easy go.

Except that it's not easy! I have only one way to post photos now and it is so complicated I'd rather spend time I don't really have looking around on the Internet for photos that closely resemble what I would have taken photos of! And that, my imaginary friends, is lame. And frustrating. I won't tell you how long it took me just to find the photos for this post because it might make me cry. Or punch a hole in my monitor. Or hold up the convenience store around the corner for the contents of its candy aisle.

I do think it's time I put myself to bed. No one else will dare come close enough to do it for me. If only I had some wine.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dreaming (and Slouching) at the Computer

Okay, do you know, I think blogging is ruining my posture, not to mention killing my back? I know, I know, why don't I just SIT UP STRAIGHT at the computer? Well, for whatever reason, I don't. Many, many times, I feel that aching between my shoulder blades and I sit up straight and prop something behind my back to keep proper posture, but before I know it, I feel that ache again and realize that at some point during the last 30 minutes I've slumped forward with my chin in my hand again. Aye me.

Anyway, I was at this dang (and dirty--boy, it needs a thorough going over!) computer for hours yesterday, trying to fancy up this blog. I got a lot done yesterday morning (made the beds, cleaned my room, not just tidied it but cleanedit, cleaned the bathroom, washed two loads of laundry and hung them out to dry, tidied the kitchen, dusted the upstairs) so I rewarded myself with a large chunk of computer time in the afternoon. I made the mistake of digging around other people's blogs, checking out the features they use, the blogrolls they belong to, looking for tools I could use. This was a mistake because it made me feel completely and totally inadequate. I came back to my humble little blog all disgruntled. It's so BORING! And PLAIN! And I have nothing to talk about! So WHY am I doing this?

Then I remembered this is the equivalent of buying new clothes for school and then going over to my cousin's house and seeing all her new school clothes when I was in junior high. It didn't matter how much I loved my clothes, the minute I saw hers, mine suddenly seemed like crap. It's all perspective! If my blog satisfied me before, then there's no reason it shouldn't still satisfy me, no matter how many flashy, cute, busy or well-run blogs I see. I'm just going to keep telling myself that...

Thing is, I want to blog about a new project every day, or a new trinket I bought at the store yesterday, but with our budget as tight as it is, projects and shopping expeditions (even teensy ones) are hard to come by these days. The Viking is working his booty off to cover things we know are coming up (we both need to order contacts, Nutmeg needs to go to the vet, I'm not sure if my visits to the endocrinologist were covered by our insurance, etc) and there is very little, if any, left over. Plus, my favorite uncle is in bad health so we may have to make the trip to NH should things take a tragic turn, and my sister is on bed rest in Chicago and I'm feeling a deep need to fly out there to be with her and relieve my mother who is currently there.

There's nothing more frustrating to a Do-It-Yourselfer than having plenty of ideas and no cash.

That being said, a girl can dream, can't she? I told The Viking I have a few projects to brainstorm about with him this weekend. You should have seen the light in his eyes. He looooooves projects and has always longed for a wife who will share his mania. Now, thanks to my wonky thyroid, his wish has been granted.

Here's what I've got incubating:

I saw this idea at a new blog I've discovered, 19 Butternut. I am so doing this this year!

You take a pair of these:

Evil 'em up with a bit o' this:

Implant them with some o' this:

Cover it up with this:

Insert a bunch of these:

And sprinkle judiciously with these:

And you should have something that closely resembles THIS:

Isn't that great? Again, that isn't mine, but I hope mine looks just like it when I'm done!

That's project #1. For project #2 you're going to have to use your imagination because I can't find an image of what I want to do. We have a mess of fence pickets in our basement, leftover from when we put our fence in. Several years ago, The Viking made me a rustic American flag out of some of them (13 of them, to be exact). We hang it on our porch every year from Memorial Day to Labor Day. A few years ago I decided I want one for Autumn/Halloween. And this year, I've decided, is the year I'm going to make it. Trouble is, I only have a vague idea of what I want it to look like. I want a corn stalk, some pumpkins, maybe a basket of apples, at least one crow, maybe a sheaf of wheat, you get the idea. But I am no artist and cannot just make this out of thin air. I need an image to follow. I've been looking online for days now with no luck. So, until I find a photo I can share, you'll just have to imagine it like I've been. That, is project #2.

I have great plans to raid A.C. Moore, Michael's, Home Goods, Marshalls and the Dollar Store tomorrow to see what I can find. Maybe I'll even trek out to Goodwill. I also need to get some storage bins for Man-Cub's ever growing pile o' crap. He's been hording and gathering lately and his stuff has just been accumulating in a corner of the living room. It looks like squatters have taken up residence. Have I mentioned I think he may have OCD? Well, that's for another post, perhaps. I may not tackle that one. I'm still not sure how I feel about the whole thing. For now, I'm going to get bins so his treasures can at least be organized.

I suppose I've languished in front of the computer long enough for one morning. I need to heat up some lunch (leftover homemade chicken noodle soup made completely from scratch--yum-MY) and those beds, floors and laundry aren't going to make, sweep, wash and hang themselves out to dry!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Life Most Mysterious

First off, is it wrong that I go through most of my days planning how I'm going to blog about whatever it is that's going on? Does that just mean that I am truly back in the saddle? Does it mean I am a dedicated, intrepid blogger? Or does it mean I should really go and get myself a life or a suitable facsimile thereof? I've decided almost immediately after asking the question that it's kind of like eating sausage: don't look closely or ask questions!

Now then, something preposterous is going on here. I think those windows I've put up in my kitchen are indeed portals to another dimension and my family has somehow fallen into it. This morning, for half a second, I literally pondered whether I was dreaming.

My house? Is tidy. Our clothes? Are clean. My husband? Left for work on time having gotten a good night's sleep and eaten a home-cooked breakfast. My children? Were early for school (oh, yes, it's true) also after having eaten a hot, home-cooked breakfast. Get this: Man-Cub was awake before I was and sitting on the couch, fully dressed with a cherubic smile by the time I came down the stairs. And I? Am rested, content, dressed and cheerful, though a little perplexed and suspicious that Man-Cub may be sneaking my thyroid pills.

It's not even 2:00 and I've stripped and made the beds, done 2 loads of laundry, hung one load out on the line, done the grocery shopping, taken my mother to the airport, and now I have some time to blog and enjoy a slice of my rather healthy homemade pumpkin bread with a cup of tea.

WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? Is it too audacious of me to hope that this could last, that this could be permanent? That all my adult life I wasn't battling depression or laziness, wasn't trying hard enough or having enough faith, but simply had an underactive thyroid? It seems too good to be true...

Oh dear. What if I turn into one of those horribly obnoxious women? You know, those perky, perfect housewives who make all their own bread (after harvesting and grinding their own wheat, of course), sew all their children's clothes (after spinning the wool shorn from their very own sheep, of course), keep their houses white-glove clean, head the PTA, Blood Drive and local Girl Scout Unit, and run a few 5ks a year? What if I become an insufferable Alpha Mom?


Oh, I needed that! Okay, I feel better now. Honestly, can you see me going near a sheep? Smelly.

Now that I've got that off my chest, let me share a mystery that has been confounding us for a week now. No, not the mystery of that vile song, I Kissed a Girl, being stuck in my head all week (thank you, Plato's Closet, for subjecting us to that song twice while we were shopping there last Wednesday. I, and all the other mothers of the many young teen girls who shop there are most grateful). I refer, instead, to the mystery of the dying bee-like organisms on our kitchen porch.

Every night, late into the night, there are hordes of enormous winged insects that look very much like giant bees, flying around our porch light. Every morning there are a dozen of them dead on the porch floor. They're like lemmings; they won't stop this behavior even though it seems to lead to certain death. We don't know what they are, why they're out at night and why they are dying with such predictable regularity. I've tried looking them up online, but the only info I can find says I'm a doofus for thinking they're members of the bee family when they're actually moths, duh. I haven't brought one into the house and checked under a magnifying glass or anything (cause, ew, gross), but I've looked pretty closely and they do not have moth bodies or wings. These same insects made a mass grave in Redheaded Snippet's bedroom window, between the screen and the storm window, about 2 years ago. The buzzing used to drive her crazy. What are they and what are they doing here???

Okay, I'm purged now and I feel sooooo much better. But it's time to switch some more laundry and take my sweet-smelling sheets off the line so I must be off.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

June Cleaver Look Out!

So, in case anyone is interested, I have totally rocked my job. I've been a brilliant housewife lately (I know, it's shocking!), but today I surpassed anything I've ever done. I owe it all to the thyroid meds, of course, and I hope I never, never, never, like ever have to stop taking them!

We had dear friends over for dinner tonight. We decided to feast together before they jet off to Scotland next week, making us unbearably jealous, the cheeky bar stewards. They brought a bottle of wine and a salad and we had one of my favorite meals: roast pork loin, potatoes gratin and roast asparagus. I must confess, those photos are not of the actual food that I prepared with my own two hands. I'm still having unresolved camera issues and loading pics into the computer is way too much of an ordeal for the wee hours of a Sunday morning (especially when I've got to leave for church in, oh, 7 hours)! But trust me, the meal looked exactly like those pics up there!

This afternoon, my house was tidy and there was minimal prep to do for dinner so I decided to have a baking day. I honestly don't know what came over me. I have never done that willingly before. And I've never enjoyed baking so much before! These drugs are amazing, I tell you!

By the time our guests arrived, the kitchen was tidy again, the roast and potatoes were almost done, I was showered with my makeup and hair arranged to satisfaction, and two pumpkin bread loaves, a bread pudding and, my favorite dessert of all time, a sticky toffee pudding were cooling on the kitchen island! I had time to chat and socialize while I took everything out of the oven and finished the asparagus. I sat down to dinner calm and looking forward to a delightful evening. Everything was delicious and I just could not believe myself! I hardly broke a sweat and every other time I have hosted the smallest dinner party I have ushered my guests into my chaotic kitchen exhausted, drenched in sweat, with hair unbrushed, no makeup on, with 45 minutes left until dinner is ready, vowing I will never, never have anyone over for dinner ever again. What a difference a little thyroid hormone makes!

What a wonderful night! A favorite meal shared with some favorite people, the kind with whom you can talk about politics, religion, parenting, tv, movies, music, literature and much more. The kind you can share your fears and worries with. The kind who share your Anglomania. The kind you know will laugh at the same dorky silliness you laugh at. The kind who genuinely like your children, though they have none of their own, and never tire of playing The Fart Noise game with them or teasing them about the boys they're IMing. The kind you can fall asleep on the couch with while watching The Office or ABBA in concert.

So now I sit, blogging guilt-free, in my still-tidy kitchen looking into my tidy dining room, knowing the living room and bathrooms are still tidy (save for the basket or two of laundry waiting for my attention tomorrow) and I feel so at ease. And so proud of myself. And thankful. I will sleep well tonight.