Friday, December 31, 2010

Clearing out the Cobwebs...

Even though this place looks so dusty and unused because I haven't set foot in it since beginning my job, I'm going to try to get back on the blogging wagon.  Math and fifth graders have taken over my life for a bit, but now that I have a few months under my belt, I'm ready to get back into the habit of thinking about other things once in a while.

Work has been AWESOME, and this job is everything I could hope for (except, of course, the whole temporary thing).  I love my classroom, the kids are fabulous, and I even played in the school concert with the fifth grade band.  I've also been saddened by the prospect of having to job-hunt again in a few short months, but you can't have everything, right?

We all enjoyed Christmas, and the blizzard was an interesting surprise.  It upset our travel/family plans a little, but all in all it was more exciting than anything else.  After having no snow, a whole pile was dropped on us at once, and the kids have been enjoying the whole thing.  Not being a fan of the cold, I could do with it all melting and not snowing again for the season, but I'm pretty sure that isn't going to happen.  My body doesn't handle cold well, a fact that was documented scientifically yesterday at the NY Hall of Science.  This was a cool camera that detected your heat levels, and showed them on the screen.  I'm standing between the kids, and now have objective proof that I get REALLY cold, and this is in a well-heated museum (my gigundo blue muppet nose is especially fetching, I think):

Stay warm, and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Through the Eyes of a Child

As the first day of school is approaching at an incredibly fast (and frightening) speed, I've been trying to acclimate my summer (read lazy) body to getting up earlier.  As I will be teaching in a middle school, the day starts early (kids arrive at 7:40), and as it's about 40 minutes away, my day will need to start quite a bit earlier than I'm accustomed to.

Thus, I've started trying to drag myself out of bed early, and setting my alarm back about 15 minutes every couple of days.  What I find fascinating is that no matter how early I get up, Big Trouble is already awake and sitting on the couch watching PBS (being the cheap frugal family that we are, his early morning choices are limited to morning news shows or the children's offerings on PBS).  He greets me with a happy smile, and I try to do the same, though I admit it's a struggle.

I've been feeling cranky and rather put-out that I have to get up early (while inside I know I should just be thrilled to have a job to get up for, my outside is TIRED), and as my classroom is a frightening mess, I've been going in to the school quite a bit.  Apparently, all the teachers from last year were so happy to no longer have to teach math that it seems they took ALL their math materials - I'm talking old photocopies, textbook series that haven't been used for 10 years, etc. - and dumped them in my room.  This week has been spent digging through everything, boxing up all the junk, and sending it to the vast abyss of storage.

When I got up yesterday and shuffled into the kitchen, Big Trouble followed me.  He stood in the doorway and announced with shining eyes and a supremely happy voice, "I love it when the light looks like this - it makes the whole kitchen orange! I wonder if the bathroom looks this way?" and he raced over to the bathroom to confirm that it, too, was bathed in orange light.

I couldn't have been more struck about what a different way this was to start the day.  Instead of lamenting that I have to get up with (or before) the sun, I could cherish the way it surrounds my kitchen in soft, beautiful light that can't be seen any other time of the day, and that this is a special moment I get to share with my seven year old son.

I can't say it will make me happy about getting up at 5:30, but I'm working on it.  Thanks, Big Trouble. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

A couple of weeks ago, we took the kids to the NY Renaissance Faire; I wanted to write about it sooner, but it's taken me this long to recover.

I've never been to a Renaissance Faire - I thought it would be something like Old Williamsburg, with historical re-enactors and authentic buildings.  I was wrong.

Apparently, I'm the only one laboring under this misapprehension.  I also didn't realize that everyone and his brother would be going to the Renaissance Faire.  When we got there, we parked on a huge field labeled Lot Number 3, which was already almost full, and took a Shuttle bus to the fairgrounds, since there were already a zillion cars parked and the original parking lots were full. As we got out of the car, I noticed several people walking with us to the shuttle bus dressed in full Renaissance garb.  I assumed they were late to work.  Again, I was wrong.

We got to the fairgrounds, paid our pricey admission (but the kids were free that week-end, so it evened out ok), and started to walk.  I'm not sure how long the fair has been going on, but I think many of the buildings and all of the signage have been in use since the beginning.  Everything was a bit kitschy, and not exactly what one would call historically accurate - pretty much someone's version of what he thought the Renaissance may have been like, possibly under the influence of some sort of alcoholic substance, and certainly without much help from any reference books....

As we were walking, I started to realize something - we were surrounded by LOTS of people in Renaissance garb, some of them wearing such odd items as pointy elf ears to round out their flowing capes, and wildly tight and inappropriate Renaissance-style bustiers.  I quietly mentioned to The Professor that there seemed to be an awful lot of people dressed up, and was surprised that they had so many workers/volunteers.  He looked at me somewhat oddly, and informed me that they were all just fair-goers like us.  I was floored - so apparently this is a big deal - people have their own Renaissance outfits at home and slap them on in billion degree weather to walk around the Renaissance Faire.  I spent the rest of the afternoon in a state of shock and confusion, the remnants of which are still lurking in the corners of my mind.

There was lots of stuff to see, and the kids had a great time.  They got to see a joust, a crazy performer named Dextre Tripp who did wild things like juggling with a chain saw and strapping fireworks to his chest, saw some neat birds of prey, watched a glassblower, and generally enjoyed themselves.

Now I have to convince Miss Serious that we don't actually need matching Renaissance capes...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Don't Cry....

I am a simple woman with simple needs.  I don't consider myself high-maintenance (or maybe I'm fooling myself like in Harry Met Sally), and I don't ask for much out of life.  When Friday rolls around, I'm happy that the working week has come to a close (even if the concept of sleeping in on a Saturday has been missing 'round these parts for, oh, about 9 years), and ask for very little - an easy-to-prepare dinner, some English comedies on PBS, maybe a tasty dessert.

What I don't enjoy on a Friday night is a really odd sound coming from the direction of my kitchen followed by a slightly hysterical, "Help!" called out in the tones that only a nine-year-old with a big problem can muster.

Now, when I'm in the center of my apartment, I'm only about 10 or 20 feet from the opposite end, and The Professor and I made the short trip from the comparative serenity of the living room to the kitchen in record time.

The scene which confronted us was distinctly unexpected and horrifying - my kitchen is pretty much all white (cabinets, tile floor, appliances), but it had attained an extra veneer of shiny whiteness because of the FULL GALLON of milk that was currently streaming quickly across my tiles in a race to get under all the appliances where it could stay in milky goodness and produce a smell that would surely force us to leave our home after 2 hot days.

Leaping into action (as opposed to Miss Serious, who stood in the center of this puddle holding the now-empty and exploded milk container as if transfixed by the beauty of the stream surrounding her), we grabbed all the bath towels we have and threw them down on the milk, jumping up and down on them in some sort of maniacal tribal dance so they could absorb for all they were worth.  Tobie helped out on the hardwood floor in the hallway, and took care of the overflow....

The floor, having been towel-dried, steam-cleaned, and wiped down with cleaner on hands and knees is now dry and no longer sticky.  The towels were taken to the basement and washed, and Miss Serious seems to have recovered.  The Professor and I treated ourselves to a beer and called it a night.

This is one of the things no one ever tells you about parenting - that some night, when you least expect it, your kid is going to drop an entire gallon of milk on the kitchen floor, and since you're the grown-up, you have to fix it.  Just like scraped knees, high fevers, and questions about why that woman in Costco has so many kids - no one will be taking care of it for you.

Luckily the fix was quick, we seems to have caught the milk before it went under the stove, and this particular gallon of milk happened to be a cheap gallon from Costco as opposed to the frighteningly expensive organic stuff.

See - simple needs.  Now if only I had some milk for my coffee....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back to Reality

Well, we're back from Cape Cod, and I think I've recuperated from vacation.  It always seems like it will be restful, but by the end of the week, I'm always pretty zapped (as everyone else seemed to be, as well).  Now we've been home a couple of days, washed all the clothes, brushed the sand off the suitcases, and tucked them away.  I caught up on some sleep, and even though it was rather a shock to come back to the heat (REALLY tired of this, by the way), I'm starting to get my bearings again.

As usual, a lovely time was had by all; the kids were more interested in water this year, so we spent a little more time at the beach and pond.  We did get to the Sandwich Glass Museum and the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, both of which were interesting (although we did have an orthodontic emergency at the Museum of Natural History - Miss Serious popped off a bottom brace, leading to a hanging wire - luckily the staff was able to dig up a wire cutter for us, the wire was clipped, and they even gave her a turtle magnet for bravery).  We even hit the yarn store and picked up some lovely yarn for hats and socks - just what I want to think of when it's 95 degrees outside....

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tying Up Loose Ends....

As we will be leaving for Cape Cod tomorrow at the crack of dawn (NOT my most favorite time of the day), I've been packing all the necessaries and sundries for our vacation (you know - snacks, wine...) and trying to make sure everything that needs to get done (i.e. paying the mortgage) gets finished before we drive off into the sunrise. 

We've been going to the Cape for a few years now, and learned a valuable lesson about departure times on our first trip.  We left our home at a decent hour, drove blissfully up the highway towards our lovely destination, and landed smack-dab into some of the stinkiest traffic I have ever experienced (and as I'm from Long Island, that's saying something).  Turns out there are only two skinny little bridges that lead to Cape Cod, and everyone who is renting a cottage (pretty much all of the cars on the road) rent from Saturday to Saturday, thus requiring everyone in the world to proceed over those two little bridges at the exact same time.  We reckoned we learned from our mistake, and vowed to leave really early next year.

What didn't occur to us (and The Professor and I have a FRIGHTENING amount of schooling under our belts....) was that everyone would also be leaving Cape Cod at the exact same time on the following Saturday.  This become horrifyingly apparent as we sat in the traffic going the other direction in our attempt to leave - and this time around I had definitely lost my sense of humor.  At the time, Big Trouble was just a toddler, and Miss Serious was probably 3.  After spending a week in a small cabin trapped with these little people, I was yearning for some quiet time.  Unfortunately, Miss Serious took this opportunity to talk the entire way home.  If there's a way to make lots of traffic and a long drive even more unpleasant, that would be it.  I think when we got home I went in my room and forbid everyone to talk to me for an hour, but that just may have been wishful thinking...

I have taken a little break from the sock yarn blanket, as it has just been too hot to have it draped across my lap, but I did finish the perfect article for a hot July - wool socks - don't hit the beach without them!  They're made with Adirondack Bearfoot Mountain colors, and are wonderfully soft. 

And, because it's not warm enough in here and I thought heating the place up with the oven would be a good idea (totally worth it though), I made some lime squares (just a lemon square recipe, but I had some limes, and thought they would be good - they were REALLY good), and a coffee cake. 

The coffee cake recipe is from Martha Stewart and uses an obscene amount of butter and sugar in the crumbs, but the resulting ratio of crumbs to cake (about 2:1) is truly genius. 

If only I could figure out why my shorts have been feeling snug?  I must be retaining water because of the heat....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer is Rolling Along

We're almost at the end of July, and I am, as usual, stunned and amazed how fast the summer goes.  As soon as the kids get out of school, it seems like there's all the time in the world, and then next thing you know it's August, and the time starts ticking in earnest.  We have to get out school supply lists (I passed on buying the pre-packaged school supplies from the PTA this year - it was going to end up costing around $60, and as I'm pretty sure the pencils aren't made out of gold, that seems a tad excessive).

We just got back from a whirlwind trip to Boston - we met some friends there (who are actually from here); they unfortunately had a sick child and had to leave early, but we really enjoyed our time with them while we could. We went to the Museum of Science (so awesome - I can't recommend it enough - there is absolutely something for everyone there), walked A LOT of The Freedom Trail (and it was hot, so it definitely seemed like more), and went to the Harvard Natural History Museum.

A quick trip, but we squeezed in a lot, and now are all pretty zapped and needing a quiet day to recover (or at least I am - the kids are bouncing around pretty good).  We go to Cape Cod on Saturday, so I guess we also need to wash some clothes, unless I could talk everyone into wearing their bathing suits for a week....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Not Dead...

but I have been uncharacteristically quiet.  I've been doing lots of professional development at MY NEW SCHOOL (still awfully exciting!!), and my brain has been unable to focus when I'm home because the heat turned me into a soggy puddle of stupidity.  This last couple of weeks have just about done me in, and I was ready to grab an air conditioner (or three!), but The Professor stayed strong and we are still air conditioner free.  It is rather distressing and disheartening, however, that we're trying so hard to be green by not using a tiny window air conditioner while every day the news greets me with how many days bajillions of gallons of oil have been pouring into the Gulf of Mexico...

Despite the heat, we've been busy and enjoying the summer.  We visited some family in PA and had a lovely time - we hit Longwood Gardens which is just too beautiful for words - this is Big Trouble and me kicking back and enjoying the peaceful gorgeousness of it all.

I've been working on my blanket (even finished another sock), and trying to read all my math books.  I got to see the classroom I'll be in, which was really neat.  It's such a change to work for a wealthy district - when I taught upstate, I had to buy tons of supplies myself, including a rug for my classroom (which a fifth grader promptly vomited on). 

During our writing training this week, a couple of books were mentioned which would be good resources.  I promptly wrote them down in my little notebook to check out from the library, but then the principal asked who wanted them, and will order sets for each of us.  A far cry from me having to give lessons to my fourth graders on how to properly use tissues so as not to waste the small supply we had of them.....

Friday, June 11, 2010

Well, there wasn't wine...

but there were lots of happy third graders.   And tons of food, sprinklers, games, hula-hoops, and t-shirt decorating.  It was a lovely afternoon, and the weather decided to cooperate.  The potato salad got all eaten up, so I guess it was a hit.  The kids got t-shirts with the school name to decorate using fabric markers.  Some kids started having the others sign their t-shirts, and next thing you know, they were all running around collecting everyone's names.  All except Miss Serious.  That girl definitely has her own drummer, and is amazingly confident to follow her own way.  She created a very careful design, and worked diligently to make it as neat and symmetrical as humanly possible, until another child unwittingly wrote his name on her pristine shirt, assuming that she was collecting signatures like everyone else.  She managed to contain the scream of horror that I saw flash across her eyes, and was able to disguise the signature with a stripe (which she matched on the other side, of course).  Crisis averted.

I've been continuing to knit on the sock yarn blanket, although it's really not a great summer project - having a wool blanket covering your lap while working is not exactly geared to 90 degree weather.  I think I might have to go back to socks (and then I'll have more yarn to knit on the blanket......).

The kids have some birthday parties coming up, so I also put together a couple of cards.  I got a cartridge for my Cricut with some really cute designs, so thought I'd try out a few.  It helps that I'm trying to avoid working on teaching stuff - my job is now official, so I have started digging through some math books.  Although it seems far away, it will be the first day of school before I know it, so I need to hit the books.  It's time to play are you smarter than a fifth grader for real....

Thursday, June 10, 2010


and the living is busy!  Even though the calendar says it's not yet summer, the thermometer begs to differ.  Especially last week, when we all sweated through some frighteningly hot & humid days.  Being on the fourth (and top) floor, we tend to get pretty toasty up here, and there are times when I definitely regret our green resolve in giving away our air conditioners.  However, the really awful days are very few, and we know if we kept the air conditioners, we would definitely be tempted to use them on a more regular basis.  Not good for the environment, and not good for our electric bill! 

We also decided to try to make some more inroads in both these areas by investing in a new refrigerator.  We had planned to do this a while back, but like many projects we start here at Chez Necessity, we lost some of our mojo partway through the researching process, and it languished.   However, our old fridge is now rusting and dripping, so we decided to get moving.

Unfortunately, like many things, this was easier said than done. NY State is offering a rebate program if you replace an existing appliance with an Energy Star product.  This rebate goes up if you can prove that it was recycled.  The recycling bit was the difficult part, because Home Depot told us that they simply crush the appliance they remove rather than recycling it.  So, we dug a little deeper, tracked down some local appliance stores, and for just a little more money were able to get the refrigerator we wanted and have our old one recycled, allowing us to get the full rebate.  When The Professor dug up the serial number on the old fridge for the application, we discovered that it was from 1987 - a good run, I think, but as it seems to run all the time and the top gets really hot, we should hopefully be seeing a lower electric bill in a month or two.  Now we have a couple of days to dig out all the collected nonsense that has managed to find a home in my fridge and freezer (I'm always amazed what I find when I start digging). 

Miss Serious is having her class picnic today (and sadly it's a bit gloomy outside, but third graders don't seem to care), and I've been assigned potato salad.  I never liked potato salad until I found this recipe (I think it's from my mother's neighbor), and even The Professor (who firmly dislikes potato salad) will eat it.  And, it's easy.  The recipe is:
Red Potatoes
Red Onion (about 1/4 - 1/2, finely chopped)
Chopped Parsley
Salt and Pepper

Cook the red potatoes until tender (not too soft, or you get mashed potatoes - ask me how I know!), and cool.  Cut them up, leaving on the skins.  Add the rest of the ingredients, and mix.  I find it's even better the second day, but it's pretty tasty right away, too!  Now it's off to the third grade picnic - including sprinklers, t-shirt decorating, and a large group of loud, excited 9 year olds.  Do you think there's any possibility of wine being served.........?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Billions and Billions of Years Ago...

I know, not billions, but it seems like it!  Last month Big Trouble had his science fair, and he did a wonderful job. He decided to do the Solar System, and seemed to have a good time with it.  We try to only offer guidance for these things, as it's a science fair for first graders and not their parents. I pick up the necessary supplies, type what he wants on the computer, and guide him to non-pornographic websites (it is horrifying what comes up when kids try to search on Google).

 Not everyone seems to hold this view, however, and there were some rather spectacular examples of parental work on display, complete with individual video presentations on portable DVD players in front of the projects (mind you, this is a K-2 building). I think Big Trouble did a great job, and he learned a whole lot about the planets in the process.

Now, unfortunately, all the planets are hanging in his bedroom, as he can't bear to be parted from them. And sadly, it looks like the Big Bang just recently happened in there...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hello Again!

Once again, I find myself typing a blog post after an extended absence.  Life definitely gets in the way sometimes, doesn't it?  Nothing crazy going on here, just the day to day stuff that seems to take over.  I also haven't been feeling that blogging mojo because I haven't been able to download pictures off of my camera.  I pretty much only read blogs that have pictures, so I hate not being able to slap a few on my own posts.

Luckily, because of this new job (and in in reading over my paperwork, I see that HR has written that it's contingent on the teacher asking for leave - if this falls through, I am going to be one cranky cookie....) we decided to get me a computer.  With both The Professor and myself vying for computer time (when you're a teacher, you spend lots of time at home working on teaching stuff), we decided that it would be in everyone's best interests to get a second computer, thus avoiding the inevitable marital strife that would stem from computer waiting time.  As I'm aging at an alarming rate and my eyes are no longer what they once were, I got one with a big screen (which still ends up having tiny writing which I can't read without my glasses), and so far it's working out dandy.  And, I was able to download pictures.  Here's some of what we've been up to:

We went to the local nature preserve and learned all about how horseshoe crabs lay their eggs.

Tobie had his first (and last!) visit to a hotel. My sister booked a pet-friendly hotel for her wedding, so we thought we'd take advantage of it and avoid kennel fees.  The dopey dog barked every time someone walked past our door or opened their own door (which, you can imagine, in a hotel happened hardly ever....).  I decided around about 4:00AM that the kennel fees are worth every penny.

And I continued to knit on the sock yarn blanket - it's coming along nicely!  The kids have been using it as a throw on the couch, and have been trying to convince me that it would make a good blanket for the dog.   Clearly what every dog needs - a sock yarn blanket knit on size 3 needles - makes it easier to chew!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Marian the Librarian Goes to Middle School

I know - it's been forever!  For some reason my computer no longer recognizes my camera, so I can't download any pictures.  And what's a blog without pictures?  I've also been rather busy - getting a job!!!  Last month I saw a position for a fifth grade math teacher for middle school (in a really swanky school district - we're talking uber-swanky here).  Hmmmm, thought I.  I'm not a math specialist, and I've never taught in a middle school.  But, late on the night the applications were due, I sent one off, mostly because it seemed wrong to ignore any job possibilities, no matter how remote they may seem.

Lo and behold, I got a call from said school district inviting me to come for an interview.  I was tempted to ask the caller if they were sure they were trying to contact me, but decided that probably wasn't the way to play it.  I toddled off to the interview (for some reason, even though it was April, it decided to hit 90 degrees on the day I had to strap on pantyhose).  Even more shocking, they called me in for a second interview; I guess that went well, because they requested a demo lesson, and I am now hired for next year!!!!

It's a one-year leave replacement, but sounds like it may have the possibility to turn into something further.  The most surprising part of this whole situation was that though I've spent almost a year job hunting (and getting few calls), this year I had a whole pile at once.  How nice to be the one to call a school and tell them to take your name off the interview list, because you've accepted another position!

Now off to relearn fifth grade math......

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Not Again!

Wow - long time, no post!  Things have been busy round these parts, what with another science fair project, family gatherings, the start of soccer, and yes - some job interviews!  I had sent out a resume at the last second for a job teaching 5th grade math at a really swanky middle school, and lo and behold, they called!  I've now completed my 2nd interview with them, and I guess it was a success, because they want me to come in to teach a demo lesson.  Sadly, the words "demo lesson" strike fear into my heart, as I've never done one (I've always gotten my teaching jobs in the summer when there are no kids, hence no demos), so we'll see how it goes.  There are some other interviews looming as well - who knew?

I was able to find the time to blog today, because we have once again run slap into "TV Free Week."  Now, I don't like TV Free Week.  We've done it every year since Miss Serious started Kindergarten, and seem to be the only parents around who actually participate.  I figure if we're going to make the kids shut off the TV, it's only fair that we do, too.  And, since the whole point seems to be to illustrate how much time we're actually sitting planted in front of the little box with the pretty pictures, it makes sense that we partake.  Especially since I'm one of those people who is in serious denial, and keep thinking to myself, "What?  I don't watch a lot of TV..."

So - I've read a couple of books, listened to some books on tape (David Sedaris' "Santaland" is really funny - I highly recommend it), but haven't gotten a lot of knitting done.  I've come to the frightening conclusion that I may actually knit just so I have an excuse to watch television...

The blanket does continue to grow, so much so that I'm actually using it as a little throw on the couch while I'm knitting on it (TV-less - what could be sadder?), but I can't get my computer to acknowledge that I've connected my camera, so I've stuck in some already loaded pictures of cards.  It's starting to do odder and odder things - I wonder if it misses TV too?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside

Of course, it's all relative, but compared to the week we had (I think it actually hit 90), a morning in the 40's is cold.  Of course, because of the bizarre weather, my kids think they can wear shorts even though it hasn't cracked 45, and they were asking me when the local pool would be open.  I tried to explain that as it is only the beginning of April, the pool will have to wait for a few months.  My favorite part of this hot week was that I actually had to slap on pantyhose on the hottest day to toddle off to a job interview.  One would think that in the first week of April I wouldn't have to sweat while wearing interview clothes, but one would be wrong.....

I did make some springy cards - I got some spiffy new paper from PTI (lovely company) with my hoarded birthday money, did some coloring and even slapped on a little glitter - because nothing says spring like a sparkly butterfly, right?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring, Spring, Spring, Spring

I love the advent of spring.  I think I must have a touch of SAD, because the winter always gets me down a bit.  It doesn't help that the cold and I are not friends, and that my circulation is stinky and causes me to lose feeling in my fingers and toes as soon as I go outside in cold weather.  I get so weary of darkness, and every year when spring starts to appear, I feel a definite lift of my spirits.  I love the buds on the tress, the warm sun coming through my windows, and all the flowers shoving their way up through the cold ground.  I even finished some really springy-looking socks, and though they are wool, they're pretty lightweight and good for this weather.

Geek that I am, the main reason I finally finished these socks is because I wanted the leftover sock yarn for my blanket (you can see a big square of it at the top).  I thought I had a lot of leftovers, but the blanket plows through them pretty fast, so I'm going to have to purchase some odd skeins if I want to continue with it, as my rate of sock knitting is not nearly fast enough to get ends to add squares.

I also must admit that I got a chuckle from knitting squares with the sock yarn while wearing the socks, but then, I am easily amused that way....

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's Raining....

unfortunately in my apartment.  (Well, not anymore, as this is a post from Tuesday that I couldn't get the pictures to work on.)  We have been battling leaks around our windows for years (supposedly it's coming in through the bricks of the building), and numerous companies have been called in; they set up scaffolding, bang around on the side of the building for a few days, declare the job completed, charge the building many thousands of dollars, and are on their merry way.  And then it rains again, (it has to be a rain with hard winds, and since we are so close to the coast and tall, these are not infrequent), and my windowsill once again looks like this.  It drips in weird places around the top of the window frames, and then the drips splash onto our window seat, hence the myriad of towels and containers.

Now it's finally dried out, and I've washed all the soggy towels, and put back my curtains and the cushion for the window seat.  The wood surrounding all my windows is totally trashed, but our building will take care of that once they tell us that the outside is, once again, fixed.  I'm sure it will work this time.....

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


This weekend we took a drive up to visit The Professor's parents, and they suggested that we go to a newly built park called Walkway Over the Hudson.   (I know the weekend was quite a few days ago, but for some reason Blogger steadfastly refused to publish my photos until today...)  It's the longest walking bridge in the world, and was built on top of a disused railroad bridge.  It was really neat - about 1.25 miles across the Hudson River, with a gorgeous view. This picture was taken from over the side (by The Professor, his palms don't sweat about that sort of thing, and thus he can hold the camera steady.)

It was a beautiful day, and there were lots of people on the bridge.  You're even allowed to bring dogs, so Tobie tagged along (he actually pulled the leash the whole way - I wish we could have hitched him up to a plow and he could have been doing something productive with all that energy). 
Big Trouble brought his binoculars to check out the birds, and a lovely time was had by all.  If you're in the area, check it out - free and fun - two of my favorite things!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Green

I think I've done at least one other blog post with that title, but my brain cells are running low.  The kids had a superintendent's conference day today, so that meant no school for them.

I have been in charge of battery recycling at their school, and it's been really successful; people drop off their used alkaline batteries at the school, and I periodically scoop them up and recycle them.  This is a tad easier said than done, because although many places accept used rechargeable batteries, it's harder (but certainly not impossible) to recycle alkaline batteries.  For a long time our county was telling people to just throw them in the garbage (the amount of toxic disasters and heavy metals in batteries is truly horrific), which was just unacceptable to us, so that's why we started the program at the school.

I've been taking them to IKEA, a store which is near and dear to my heart because of its oh-so-Swedishness.  The store also accepts used fluorescent lightbulbs (which shouldn't be thrown in the garbage because of the mercury content), printer cartridges, and cell phones.  The kids think it's a really fun outing - we walk through all the rooms set up with furniture, they have some Swedish meatballs in the cafe ($1.99 and served on a real plate - can't be beat!), and I might pick up a Malm or a Hoppen - I love that they keep the Swedish names - makes shopping much more fun and exciting (and Scandinavian).

We haven't made the trek in a while, and I therefore had about 9 jillion pounds of batteries residing in my tiny kitchen.  For those of you who haven't tried to carry 9 jillion pounds of batteries, batteries are really heavy.  I mean seriously heavy.  I separated them into three bags, I handed one to each of the kids, and we trekked to the car (amidst a fair amount of whining...).  We drove the 40 minutes to IKEA, dragged the batteries out of the car, got to the little recycling kiosk, and were met with a sign stating that they no longer accept batteries for recycling. the batteries got hauled back to the car, and we had our day at IKEA - even brought home a bag of frozen Swedish meatballs for the kids.  (Who of course had to help me haul the batteries back up to the apartment, as I wasn't sure if 9 jillion pounds of batteries in a hot car were a terribly good idea).

Where shall I drive my batteries to tomorrow?  They do so like getting out of the house.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring has Sprung

But then it decided to go back into its little hidey-hole - we had a whole pile of days in the 60's (I think it may even have hit 70) which were really lovely, but also make me a little irritated because I know it's only March and it's one giant tease.  Yesterday we woke up to heavy fog - so much so that Big Trouble woke me up exclaiming that something was wrong outside.  The only thing wrong in my book is that it's not summer, but whatever....

Now that all the birthday festivities are over (we jammed just about all of my family into my little living room this weekend - what good sports!) we've been getting back to our regular routines, such as they are.  I made another pile of thank you notes for Miss Serious to send - she's pretty good about writing in them once she can bring herself to put down the latest book she's reading. 

It does so pain my heart to have to tell my children to stop reading.  However, if I didn't, my house would be covered in underwear which never seems to make it to the hamper (still don't know what that's about) and nobody's bed would ever be made (although I don't know if you can really call the half-hearted pulling up of comforters actually making the bed, especially with the myriad of lumps caused by various stuffed animals and discarded clothing....).  Take what you can get, I guess.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Survived!

The week of vast difficulties is now over, and I survived the Pine Wood Derby (Big Trouble's car won twice), multiple requests for cupcakes and desserts, a birthday dinner (at the Hibachi place by request of Miss Serious - always a good time), a Greek Mythology birthday party with 10 small children (it was fun), and my final teaching tests (not fun, but THEY'RE OVER!!!).

The storm we had this weekend was nothing short of spectacular - really strong winds, buckets of rain, and trees down all over the place.   The testing site lost all their heat early on, so it was a real treat sitting in a room for four hours which progressively turned into an ice cube.  We actually did quite well in our home, considering, but the rain blew so hard against the side of our building that water leaked in through the bricks.  This is an ongoing issue, which has supposedly been fixed about elventy times, so sadly we weren't surprised.  But, we didn't lose power, so it's all good.

Now that all the hard stuff is out of the way, I've had time to make these (Miss Serious sent them out to her little friends for her birthday thank you notes):

I was trying out some different things, with varying degrees of success.  And - I've also been working on this (I just can't stop!):

It's now as wide as I plan to make it, so now I just need to complete the nine jillion squares needed to make it the right length.  It's still way too much fun - luckily I'll probably be able to be having this much fun for the next twenty years or so.....

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I have my final teaching tests to take on Saturday, and I will be thrilled when this whole process is over.  Another thing I realized about taking tests meant for 22-year olds - when I was 22, I pretty much had all my time to myself.  So if I needed to study, or practice writing essays, I would just sit down and study. 

I didn't have two little kids running around who kept insisting on being fed and having clean clothes (how dare they?), or a daughter who was turning 9 this week and needed cupcakes for her class and her kids' birthday party this weekend (the theme is Greek mythology - still have to come up with the crafts and goodie bags), a game night at the church who also want dessert, a son who has his Pinewood Derby race for Cub Scouts, and the school science fair.  What happened here?  The rest of the month is pretty much blank, but everything else decided to land on this week.

So, of course, I have decided to knit:

This is the blanket laid out on my bed - and it's almost as wide as I'd like - I think I might add 3 or 4 more squares, and then it's all about the length, baby. 

A very lovely knitting friend gifted me with these:

I believe these are all Socks That Rock, and let me tell you, they really do rock (as does she!).  She even wound them into tiny center pull balls for me, so they are a pleasure to work with as opposed to the snarls of yarn I have been pulling apart from my own stash. 

Now back to the studying (or shhhhh - maybe the knitting - got to try out all those beautiful new colors!).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

One Down

two to go!  I took my first CT teaching certification test on Saturday, and it was fine.  Long and far away, but fine.  This is one of the tests that all new (or soon-to-be-new) college graduates must take, and thus I was surrounded by 22 year olds sporting their sorority sweatshirts.  I looked like one of the proctors instead of the test takers, and the fact that I had to get up at 5:30 AM to get there didn't help any.

I had taken the practice test on the net, and it's a good, solid test which is specific to teaching reading, with 100 multiple choice questions and 2 essays.  Although my life plan didn't include sitting hunched over a middle-school desk filling in circles with my number 2 pencil with a bunch of fresh-faced college students (and being required to raise my hand and get a bathroom pass if I needed to use the facilities), the whole thing was over in a few hours and I was on my way.

I heard an interesting analogy the other day about life plans - it involved the GPS unit in a car (I covet one of these, as I get lost just about every single place I go - the kids are so used to it, that they just assume I will have to turn around when I realize we have gotten far off the track); when you take a wrong turn, or go a different way, the GPS doesn't mock you, or deride your decisions (like I do to myself in my head).  Rather, the voice simply says "Reconfiguring."

No judgment, no second-guessing - but getting the job done.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Somebody Stop Me....

because this is way too addicting.  I am loving the immediate gratification of this thing.  Usually when I knit, I work for about a jillion hours, and when I look at the work, it looks about the same.  A slightly longer sleeve, a slightly longer sock, but nothing dramatic.  I can't tell you how much I like being able to churn out a little square in half an hour!

As yesterday decided to cover itself in snow, I got quite a few of the silly little squares done.  (I figure if everyone else gets a snow day, then I get one too.)  Today it's back to real life - Tobie has his last obedience class this afternoon.  He's smart as a whip, but still has quite the attitude.  When I mention that to any sort of animal professional (vet, trainer, etc.) the answer is always, "Well, he is a terrier..."  I've decided that he's like that really smart, really obnoxious kid in your class that you can't help liking the best.  Happy graduation, Tobie!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Oh The Humanity!

Big Trouble has started exclaiming this recently.  Today it seems especially appropriate, because their school will be closing early because of...............RAIN.  Yes, rain.  Supposedly snow will be coming, but apparently we are all frightened by the droplets of water falling from the sky.  Good times.

On a knitting note, because I don't have anything else to do (you know, like find a job or study for my upcoming yucky teaching tests....) I was cruising the web and found a project that had been done with the ends of sock yarn.  Every time I make socks, I'm always left with a pile of yarn that I can't bear to throw away, but don't really have a use for.  I did make some Barbie clothes for Miss Serious, but I have amassed more over the years, so this seemed to fit the bill.

It's fun to knit, and I must admit I like the instant gratification of being able to finish a square in about half an hour.  Much more appealing than knitting forever on a sweater sleeve which never seems to get longer.  I've realized, however, that I'm going to need to supplement my leftovers, or I would be knitting on this thing for the next 20 years as I finish socks. 

A bit of amusement on this treacherous, rainy day.....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Back to School

Well, the week of school vacation is over.  Big Trouble recovered from a stomach virus (he got all of the vomiting out of the way at Grandma & Grandpa's - sorry!), Miss Serious worked on her science fair project (yes, those letters are made with the Cricut - see how crucial it was that I purchase it...), 
we spent many hundreds of dollars at the vet because Tobie wasn't feeling well (doing much better now), The Professor took the kids to a program to view the constellations on a frigid evening (they enjoyed it), I made some cards, the kids played in the snow and went sledding (we borrowed friends' sleds - we tried to buy some at Target, but apparently it is impossible to buy anything winter related during winter.  There was, however, a giant assortment of pool toys available...), I finished knitting a sock, and all in all we had a nice week.

Now vacation is over, and I need to start studying in earnest for my teacher tests.  Yes, that's right, at the tender age of only hours away from 40 I will be sitting in a room on two separate occasions for 4 hours at a time with recent, fresh-faced college graduates, and taking tests for certification in CT. 

I think my excitement is palpable....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Waterfalls in Winter...

Due to a combination of school vacation, snow all day, and Big Trouble recovering from a stomach virus, we stayed in and made some cards.  Miss Serious and I decided to try out something called a waterfall card which I've seen floating around these here internets, and here is my version.  I thought I'd include directions, in case anyone wants to play along at home.

The card is made up of 4 equal-sized images mounted on a long strip.  For this card, I used:

Card base: 6 X 6 1/2 folded white cardstock
Layers for front: 6 X 3 1/4 black, 5 7/8 X 3 1/8 pink, 5 5/8 X 2 7/8 polka dots
4 1 7/8 X 1 7/8 white squares
4 2 X 2 black squares
9 X 2 pink strip
3 1/3 X 3/4 pink strip

I stamped my images on the white squares and embossed with clear embossing powder.  I colored them in with Copic markers, and glued them onto the black squares.

The 9X2 pink strip gets scored at 2", 2 3/4", 3 1/2" and 4 1/4"; fold on the score lines to get clean folds.  

After gluing all the layers onto the front of the card, I attached the 3/4" strip with brads on either side.  It's important not to put adhesive on this strip.  Line up the long pink strip, with the scored side on top.  Place the unscored end under the strip secured with brads, and adhere only the edge closest to the score lines.  Adhere this right to the bottom edge of the short strip.

Adhere the first stamped image onto the square at the edge of this strip; then, adhere the remaining stamped images, but only on the top edge, where the pink strip is scored.  Repeat with the remaining images, then punch a hole and thread a ribbon on the bottom of the long strip.  I stamped a greeting above the ribbon, so that when the strip is pulled, the greeting is revealed.

I made a video of the card being pulled: