Thursday, June 30, 2011

 For Father's Day Saturday (because all holidays that celebrate our Papa get extended to a full weekend) we took PB to the "Avon Heritage Duct Tape Parade" held in Avon, Ohio.  Why?  Why not?!?

That first shot is the boys having a snack in the wagon, waiting for the parade to start.  In retrospect, we should have taken the truck to show off our red-nekked-ness, but the wagon provided shade and a bit more comfort.
 PB and little o were ready for action.  The theme was "The biggest fan" or something like that. We were ready!
 Oh, yes.  This is Miss America.  She really did put on a dress made from duct tape just for the occasion!
 The people from the "Duck Brand" duct tape company.  Duck Brands have their home office out here in Avon.
 And now on to some of the more exciting floats.  For this one, they made all the flames, and the gas can out of tape.  The chairs were covered in tape.  It was pretty cute.
 It's the bubble wrap car.  I love seeing this one around town, too!
 What does a pipe band have to do with duct tape?  Duh, they sound like DUCKS!  he, he, he.
 Boy scouts get creative with duct tape.  Good for them, learning early.
 A duct tape hover craft.  PB was jealous.
 Duct tape super heroes.  Yup, costumes are duct tape. 
 No caption necessary, they did it for me.
 This was the girl standing next to us.  How cool is her "How to tame a dragon" bag???  All from duct tape. 
 A little league team getting into the tapage with a Teepee (keep in mind that our home team is the Indians, and everyone within an hour of Cleveland is "In the Tribe").
 One of the local day care centers did an animal themed thingy.  It was really cute.
 The roller derby chicks made duct tape skirts to skate around in.
 This was a VBS float.  The "team players" were God and Jesus.
 Corleone's Pizza.  I didn't get a good shot of their float, which was a huge pizza oven.  This is their mascot with his duct tape pizza and duct tape violin case.  When LG asked why the pizza man carried a violin case, PB explained it was so you could have nice music with your dinner...
 Home Depot's duct tape race cars.  I'll admit, after the hover craft, I was disappointed the people at the Depot couldn't do better.  Look at me, the duct tape snob.
 Another VBS.  Clearly these folks are NYers, though.  (go team!)
No duct tape on this car.  I just thought you guys would appreciate that people in Cleveland love their sports (and Jesus) so much that they will have their truck specially painted to support the Browns...
 The two figures on the float?  Duct tape karate guys.
 Duct tape bus.
 The 4-H did duct tape saddles for the ponies and the girls are in duct tape uniforms.
 Some nimrod  sporting soul covered their whole car in Fleur de Lis duct tape.
 The duct tape wedding dress.  Amazing.  Duct tape rosettes all over the skirt!
 I have no idea what this is, but it was all duct tape.
 The Shriners!!!!  Finally.  I love these guys.  This one was threatening people with his cane.
 Shriner fire truck.  LG giggled so hard I thought he'd have an accident.  I love those little cars, too.  The best part of any parade.  (aside, at the Uncle Sam Parade in Troy NY they have over 30 different kinds of Shriners driving 30 different kinds of mini-vehicles.  I was in heaven.)
 Shriner big fire truck (for a scale reference?  I'm not sure.)
The zoo made this big boy to celebrate the new Elephant exhibit.  He's really cute in person.

After all the parade excitement, the actual fair was a bit of a let down.  Little o got to ride his first Ferris Wheel, though, and LG enjoyed the people viewing.

That about covers it.  The annual Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival.  Who'd a thunk, huh?  Go see Pseudo and see if someone can top this travel experience!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spin Cycle- Wishes

LG:  "Mamamama, O-ie hit me!"
MB:  "LG, O-ie is strapped in.  His arms can't even reach you!"
LG:  "He hit me with HIS MIND."

This week's Spin Cycle is all about wishes.  What we wish for mostest.  That thing we hold in our hearts, and makes us wish on stars and candles and bones at Thanksgiving.  That thing you want so much you dare not imagine it too much for fear that all your daydreaming will make it not come true.

I was going to blow this one off by saying, "I don't wish for anything right now.  I have everything I want, and I can work for the rest."  But I realized yesterday, that's just not true.  There is something that I want that I have absolutely no control over.  No amount of hard work or saving will get it.  I can exude some influence, but the end result will have very little to do with me.

It came to me yesterday when I was watching the boys play.  I want them to be best friends. Not just brothers, or buddies.  I want them to be like Phineas and Ferb.  Or Jake and Elwood.  I can't explain it any better than that.  I don't care what it is they do- form a band, go to jail, build a rocket to mars, cure cancer (ok, maybe not go to jail) as long as they do it together.

I don't want o to be the banished "little brother" or LG to be the "one who gets to do things first".  I want them to have a gang of friends that includes each other. Because this matters in all the little ways.  When people gush over little o, most times LG will say, "He's my little brother.  Say hi O-ie!" instead of glowering over it.  When LG gets his license, I'd like him to say, "Hey, o, let's go ride!" instead of lording it over him and leaving him pining in a cloud of dust.  Encouraging each other instead of always competing. 

I know this most likely won't happen.  Most likely, they will grow up, get jobs, get married, have a few kids.  They'll get together on holidays, maybe in between once or twice.  They'll write on each other's Facespace walls, maybe join the same softball league, or borrow each others tools.  They'll see each other at my house.  Hear about one another's trauma and triumph through me.  That's the way it goes for most siblings. 

But this is my wish.  And I get to wish it any way I want, right? So, best friends it is. 

Now, go see what everyone else wants at Sprite's Keeper.  And if you send a link to this blog to 100 people in the next 10 seconds, your wish will come true!  I promise!  A new jag in your driveway, even.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Random Tuesday Complaining

What?  I'm being honest here.  It's Tuesday of a 4 day week that will be followed by a 4 day vacation and another 4 day week.  Which would make you think I'd be happy.  But my allergies are trying to kill me, so all I feel is whiny.  I'd go home sick, but I don't have enough time to do all the stuff I have to do to enjoy my 4 glorious days off as it is.  Sigh.

->  We took PB for Japanese lunch on Father's Day.  This is what little o thought of sushi:

He was pretty peeved.  He couldn't eat it whole, and he didn't understand that if you cut it in half, you can't eat it with your "choppers".  Poor kid.  LG settled for just shoving his into his mouth with his hands (I'm sure the waitress loved that one).  Little o just whined and poked at it.  Oh, well.  The first time's not always a success.

->  Please people at Caribou Coffee, can you come up with an "App for that"?  It is a pain in the rear that I can't consolidate your gift cards or use my phone to pay for your coffee.  So much that I have taken to going across the street to the Buck because it's just easier.  They aren't as nice as you.  But they have an App.  And it really does make it that much easier.  Get on that.

->  Come back Thursday and maybe you'll get to see my pictures of the duct tape parade.  Nope, I'm not kidding.  We went.  We saw Miss America.  We loved it (and got to see one of my favorite parade attractions.  You'll have to visit on Thursday to find out what it is.)

->  We are having a small dilemma in our family right now.  Little o is at that stage where everyone thinks he's just so freaking adorable.  He's still chubby and baby like, but he can walk and talk.  And he says the funniest things.  And, while LG is still adorable and funny and sweet, he's living in the shadow.  Damn, our own family does it (without realizing it, I'm sure).  People will walk up to o and tell him how adorable he is, offer him lollies, and walk right past LG.  Most of the time he doesn't notice, but the look on his face when he does kills me. 

However, my oldest nephew is now 6 and realized that LG is a BOY cousin who is old enough to play cars and Legos and all sorts of stuff (as opposed to being a baby during the winter).  They can be BOYS together.  They don't need to be cute, or sweet.  They get dirty.  Nobody babies them.  They can ride bikes, or crash things and they both love it.  Finally!  My nephew has waited almost 4 years for this.  If you're about to say that girls do these things too, can it.  I know girls do, but it's not the same.  There is nothing quite like two little boys and cars and mud. 

->  LG told PB last night that when he and his bicycle grow big they are going to ride in the basement with PB (he has his bike on the trainer down there).  He'll tell his bicycle he needs to sit and eat all his dinner if he wants to grow.  What do you feed a bicycle?

->  I have to make a list of all the krappe we need to take camping this weekend.  I haven't quite worked out the logistics of sleeping, so I've put off the list.  It should be funny to pack come Friday.

Well, that's about all for me.  I know, after a week off you'd think I had more exciting things going on.  Nope, just little boy wrangling.  Nothing to see here (that's not my kid on the floor at the Target thrashing, nope).  Have a good week.  Go see Stacy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Spin Cycle - Books

This week's Spin Cycle is about books.  Sigh, books.  I could go on for days about my favorites, or my least favorites, or the "canon", or why I no longer feel the need to read because someone tells me it's one of the greatest books ever written.  Instead, I'm going where no other Spinner dare go.  Oprah.

I'm am here to tell you that Oprah and her book club are one of the best things that ever happened to the written word.  I know this because I experienced wonderful things that resulted from her book shows, first hand.

Oprah started her book club in 1996 (yes, 15 years ago!)  Her first recommendation was, The Deep End of the Ocean, by Mitchard. I had just gotten out of college, and it was discounted, so I read it.  Was it life changing?  I was 21 and didn't have a real job, fortune cookies were life changing.  I thought it was, but clearly I wasn't a great judge at the time.  Since the first one was good, though, I stuck with her recommendations.

In the fall of 1998 I started at the book store.  No one there respected Oprah or her book club.  Who were these people she recommended?  We were book snobs.  Oprah would announce her pick and hundreds (I kid you not) of housewives would rush in that evening, kids in tow, to snatch it off the shelves.  They formed clubs so that they could be motivated to read it before the next one came out.  They sat on the comfy chairs in the afternoon and made a treat of talking to their friends about the Oprah pick.  All the while the "book sellers" sneered behind the stacks.  And I read on.  Just because I liked them.  All of them.  I wasn't ashamed.  These were good books.  Some of them I had read before in my college lit classes.  Clearly, Oprah wasn't expecting her viewers to simply suck down trashy romance novels.  She wanted them to be exposed to good literature.  When the ladies would come to the information desk and sigh because it was a thick book, I would encourage them.  When they came to get the next recommendation, we'd talk about last one.  And it never occurred to me then to think past the the meaning of the book to the bigger meaning of what Oprah's club was doing.

Oprah encouraged women of all generations to do something many of them hadn't done since high school (and some had never done at all).  Read.  For pleasure.  Take a few minutes of their day to sit and enjoy a book.  Resist the urge to just flip on the TV or the radio or grab a magazine and be mindless.  Just you and the author for a little while.   She eventually started putting her own book club questions at the back to help people think about the themes and characters.  What she was doing was giving people an opportunity that they might not otherwise take during the day.  A little time for themselves that wasn't "wasted".  They were educating themselves and they didn't even know it.  Look at Oprah, sneaking vegetables into the Spaghetti -o's.

I know people have their own opinion of Oprah, and I do too.  She tended to encourage some controversial opinions (Jenny McCarthy?  Suzanne Sommers?) but on this one I think she got it right.  Say what you will about her, but Oprah got millions of people off the couch and into the library and the bookstore, so she's alright in my book. 

(oh, and if you're wondering what I'm reading?  I finished re-reading Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo and I'm about to start my summer of trashy romance novels.  I have a rule that no serious books cross my path between 4th of July and Labor Day!  Nora Roberts here I come.)

LG and his cousin Rach doing some reading.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spin Cycle- I believe...

Don't you think it's a little early for the camera?  I haven't even had my sippy.

This week's Spin Cycle is brought to you by the letter's U, F and O.  I ignored the U and F and went with o.  He believes. 

Alie and I are ready for snuggles.

Let me tell you about when Alie and I first met.  I was chilling with this guy called "The Claw"  at the Chuckie Cheese one night...

No, Alie, he's not real.  It's just a picture on my shirt.  I still loves you mostest.

Alie's green, he gets to be in the St. Pat's picture.

My favorite people to cuddle:  LG and Alie.

Pants are optional, but Alie is a must.  Can you spot him in this picture?
As for me, the jury's out.  I have a hard time believing that in a universe this big we're all alone.  I could also see why any intelligent life forms would steer clear of our planet.

If you like space and good comics, though, go visit the Drive website.  I am not usually into Sci Fi.  but Dave Kellett is really doing something amazing with this comic.  It only runs weekly, on Thursday no less, so it's like a little bit of the weekend come early.

And that's it for me this week.  I'm sure Jenn was looking for something artful, that involved Arizona, or probes of varying types, but much like religion and politics, I steer clear of calling anyone a nut job because of what they believe.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Random Tuesday Thoughts

I'm hanging out with Staci and the other random hopefuls this week.  Go visit and see the amazing dino pool.

->  Does your mental image of yourself match with your outer image (the one your co-workers or people at the grocery store see)?  I'm not sure mine does.  He, he, he.  You see, a woman asked me the other day if I thought it was OK to encourage the boys in the kind of lifestyle that Hawaiian shirts promotes.  (as an aside, I need to smile less.  people seem to take that as encouragement to speak with me about all sorts of inappropriate things...)  Back to the subject.  I had to think for a minute.  First, what kind of lifestyle do Hawaiian shirts promote?  Laid back?  Happy in your own skin?  Wishing you didn't have to go to work/school everyday and could just sit by the pool?  (I didn't ask her, for fear she'd say something that would be insulting in front of the boys- LG's godfather-who is the coolest guy to him- bought him that shirt...)  I told her I wasn't too worried that Hawaiian Shirt Fridays in daycare would negatively effect their SAT scores.  On the way home it gnawed at me, though.  Who the hell do the other people at school think we are?  Light bulb.  I show up every day to pick up my kids in my business attire.  Pencil skirts and argyle sweaters.  High heels and hose.  Ahhh, she thinks I'm a responsible member of society.  She has no idea that I'm prone to Bermuda shorts and Birkenstocks at home, that LG has Nutella on a spoon before breakfast and little o walks around with a bucket on his head.  To her, I'm an accountant with two kids married to an engineer.  No wonder she thinks I'm a tight arse.  Well, we have someone fooled.

            ->  Shortly after that it dawned on me that I'm married with two kids.  Holy hells, how did I get here?     How did I let this sneak up on me?  Don't think about it.  It's just too scary.

->  LG has put in his two cents for what he'd like his room to be if we put little o in with him.  Tree house.  I'm mulling it over.  I realized that I kind of had my heart set on a space room.  I'm not sure I'm ready to get rid of that idea just yet.  We'll see.

->  I think one week soon I'm going to take the family HFC free.  That's right, no HFC.  Originally, I thought I would just go "moderation" (they way they say it's OK for you), but I ditched that thought.   I don't want to sit and judge "moderation" all week.  My only exceptions are for outside functions.  I'm not going to try to get school on board, or tell PB he can't have a coke at a BBQ.  But if it comes out or goes into our house, there will be no HFC.  PB looked traumatized when I asked him about it, but he's willing to go along.  I'll let you know when we get there.  (PS, no worries.  Snapple doesn't have HFC.  Neither does Mexican Coke.  I'm trying to be healthy, not drive myself insane here...)

->  Freezer Jam!  That's right.  I'ma let you in on the secret.  The secret to "Secret Ingredient Soup"?  There is no secret ingredient.  Freezer Jam is the same way.  You need this:

Sorry- upside down.  Ball Simple Creations No Cook Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin.  Available at many grocery stores, Walmart and on Amazon.

And you might need these:

Also available at the Mart and on Amazon.  They aren't like regular plastic jars (slightly thicker, screw top), and they are just the right size.  The screw top Ziploc ones might work, as well, but they don't come this small.  Freezer jam doesn't stay as long as stewed jams do, so it's better to freeze it in small batches and take out only what you'll use in two or three weeks.

To make it all you do is take fresh fruit (see last weeks post) and squish it up to your desired consistency.  I put strawberries through the food processor, but raspberries I do with a potato masher.  Add the pectin and some sweetener (sugar or  artificial- there are directions for both on the package).  Mix. Put in jars.  Freeze.

and when it's done it looks like this:

This is raspberry.  Keep in mind that there is no cooking involved, so freezer jam tastes (to me at least) more like the original fruit than regular jam does.  And it's way easier than traditional jarred jam. 

->  I downloaded the iTime ap from the ap store.  Because bedtime was getting out of control.  The resident scammer (LG) wants prayers and stories in little o's room.  They each get to pick one.  Then he wants to stay for little o's songs and snuggle.  But then he wants to go to his room for his own songs.  And he needs more water because the glass he started at the beginning of this saga is all gone now.  Not. Any. More.  Now I start the hourglass for 15 minutes, and when the sand is gone, so are PB and I.  So far, so good (two nights in).

->  I'm thinking on Friday I might start posting what we get in our CSA box Thursday night.  Then, if I need help figuring out what to do with what I get, maybe you guys can help me?  Most of last weeks box is already gone, but I'm still hanging on to some lemon basil and bok choy.  People keep telling me to hid the bok choy in all sorts of thing, but I'd like to find a way to make it so we actually enjoy it.

Ok, I've said enough this week.  Go on now, git.  And remember, we do not wash our pits in the pool of sacred tears.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Knee deep in the water somewhere...

I really need to find a better background for these pictures.  Could they look more redneck?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Spin Cycle- Decorating

Ahhh, decorating.  I suck at it.  If you had to describe my house it is mostly "refined Salvation Army".  As long as it's comfy and clean, I don't really worry too much.  Meh.  I hate spending money on things that are only "decorations".  What purpose do they serve???

However, I do put some thought and effort into the boys' rooms. At least the walls.  I grew up with peachy/orange walls for 18 years, and I think it might have damaged some brain cells.  What?  It was the 70's, my Mom was trying, for God's sake.

You will recall that I had a plan for Little o's room when he moves out of the nursery.  We were going all space for him, with his Alien friend as our inspiration.  I picked colors, we started sketches.  Thoughts ruminating and all.  But.  Screeching halt.  I had another thought.

What if we put the boys together in one room?  With bunk beds?  They're only 19 months apart, and they get along.  Hell, if he could little o would sleep with LG right now (he can't get out of his crib, though).  I know, I know, so many people I know who had to share a room hated it.  Wished their sibling would die or get lost at the mall so they didn't have to share any more.  But this is optional.  When one of them says , "Hey, I've had enough time sharing with Bozo, I want my own space" this will be an easy accomplishment.  The spare room will still be there to convert at that point (and we'll keep their convertible cribs, so beds won't be a problem either).

Which has lead to my next dilemma, how to decorate this shared room?  Airplanes are really LG's thing (and hence on his wall).  Space (and Alien) is really little o's thing, not LG's.  I need a simple theme that works for both of them.  Cars?  Trucks?  Castle and knights (oooh, dragon?) Thoughts?  Help a girl out, here.

Ok, that's all I've got this week.  Lame, I know.  Get over it.  Oh, for those that asked, we did have a great day yesterday.  We met up with some cousins at the Natural History Museum and tore the place up.  Space, building blocks, dinos and ot-ters.  The boys had a great time!

Go see Sprite's Keeper, and keep the Spin going.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Stacy's still having us over at her place.  Even with school out for the summer, she still finds time for us.  Since I'm not on summer break, I'll dive right in and then get back to work.

->  The boys have discovered the sandbox.  And I have discovered how much I hate sand.  It gets everywhere.  Ugh.  All over the floor, in their pockets, in their hair, under their finger nails (which creeps me out when I go to cut their nails and hear it crunching).  I'm trying to mitigate the mess by instilling a "decloth on the porch and enter in only your undies" rule but you should see how much sand little o can pack into a diaper!

->  Tomorrow I shall be know as "the fun one".  PB is gone for a few days, and normally I would be my usual strict self.  Nothing out of order, stick to the schedule and we'll get through just fine.  But now that the boys are a bit older and more independent (read fun) I'm taking the day off, taking them out of school and we're going to have an adventure!  I'm not sure what yet, but I'm pretty sure that the day will end at the splash pad.  Hopefully Mother Nature agrees with my plans.  You have no idea how out of the ordinary this is for me.  I usually NEVER take a vacation day for a random fun day.  I use them for school holidays, or trips we have planned far in advance.  Then, at the end of the year, I have one or two (or in the case of last year 3) that I end up tacking on to Christmas to use them up.  Not this year!

->  I made a most strange request to the maintenance people in our building, apparently.  I am the only person in my corner of the world most days (I share a cube block with someone who only works part time).  So I don't want any "climate control".  If it's hot, let it be hot.  If it's cold, let it be cold.  They usually set the thermostats to 68 at night to save energy, but right now that puts the AC on, and I end up freezing.  I asked them to just leave it be (and they looked at me like I have 9 heads).

->  I'm diving right into Office 2010.  This old dog can learn new tricks.  All around me you can hear the moans, but I refuse to be party to the grump.  Technology didn't stop when I turned 30.  It's funny to see people get all bent out of shape, though.

->  PB and I finally made a 4th of July plan.  We're taking the boys on their first tent camping trip.  They've both slept in a cabin, but this will be the great out of doors.  We invited some friends, but due to location and lack of outdoor desire, we're ending up going solo.  (as a side story, PB has made a resolution that when we invite people to do something he is no longer going to let them change our plans.  it has happened too many times, and he always ends up disappointed that he didn't do what he originally wanted.  I completely understand).  Now we have to purchase a new tent and get them psyched to sleep outside.

OK, duty calls.  If I want my adventure tomorrow, it means today must be overly productive.  And away we go!

Monday, June 6, 2011

CSA and old men...

Happy Monday (say it like Frosty the Snowman would, that's how it went in my mind)!

I would have a microfiction for everyone, but I suck and still can't link to the offending Grandma's Goulash.  Maybe next week.

Instead I offer you two trains of thought (no worries, they are traveling on two completely different tracks, and I could care less what time they left the station or how fast they are traveling.  you will not have to compute when they will meet in my mind.  quite possibly never...)

First- our CSA rocks.  Here is a picture of week pre-1:

Sugar snap peas, green beans and 4 quarts of strawberries.   Pre- week one because we don't start our scheduled pick up until this Thursday.  The veg and fruit started coming in early, though, so they've been offering up what's in and they will take the weight off our total (hopefully over the summer when it will be too much for us to consume!)  Mmmmm.  The peas and the beans were pretty much gone about an hour after they made it home.  The berries were, too, but they went here:

 and then here:
And when I get 30 seconds all in a row, I'll turn them into freezer jam.  Since we've tried to cut out corn syrup and food coloring, our options for items to go with peanut butter are limited.  Besides, a nice sandwich made with freezer jam (which tastes quite different from regular jam) makes a winter day feel like a little bit of summer.

Now on to the second topic- old men and little boys. 

I need to give a little background before I start this topic.  I work for 3 brothers (well, actually, now just two).  They have been in business together since the youngest could have a job.  Serious business, they owned a company.  They have a charitable foundation.  The oldest was 99 when he passed away (just a few weeks ago), his brothers are 97 and 90 this year.  Until last fall, the older two would eat lunch together at the office every day.  The youngest is the one that runs the business now (yes, at 90) so he ate with them when he was in town.  It truly amazes me.  Not that brothers could be successful together, or that they love each other.  It's really more that after 90 something years together, they still wanted to come to the office to eat lunch together.  To just hang out.  The office was their park bench.  Towards the end the conversations weren't much (the 2nd brother's mind is slowly fading away).  But there they were, two little old men, just being together.  Brothers.

The older the boys get, the more I get to see them act like brothers.  Now that little o is starting to talk, LG is treating him like a real person (instead of a baby).  They've actually started having conversations.  It's not much, little o doesn't have that many words, and LG doesn't have that much patience.  But it's starting.

 And when they're out and about in their hats and long shorts, they remind me of little old men. 
Partners in crime, even.  And I hope that when they're 99 and 97, LG and little o are still hanging out together.  Brothers.