Brief Interruptions

The splendid life of a 10 year old boy here has been briefly interrupted for one main reason: a teenager’s attitude with a mouth that has left me speechless.

Those of you who know me know that this is no small feat.

It isn’t swearing. It is ridiculously know-it-all-especially-you-loser-mom mouthiness.

This kid has NO idea how easy he has things.

Except today, he got a little glimpse when he woke up and learned that mom was no longer going to provide assistance until his attitude changed. No cooking, no cleaning, no laundry, no assistance with ANYTHING unless life or death issues are involved.

The battle continued most of the morning, so he spent it in his room. After lunch, things turned around. He folded up the Therm-A-Rest he used over the weekend which was the object that sort of projected the trouble into the stratosphere. He made his lunch (a corn dog with a string cheese).

By 4:00 he learned that iPod downloads were done because only mom knows the password.

He learned that his baked goodie supply took a sharp turn south since he couldn’t eat mom’s food. Initially, this was a benefit until he learned it included cake batter cookies, chocolate chip cookie bars and pancakes.

He learned that making his own cookies and brownies was far more complicated than he anticipated.

He learned that you can’t just buy taco meat. (Admittedly, you probably can, but not in this house!)

He learned that trips to Target and other such places were curtailed.

I suspect that his attitude will change within days, but I don’t really believe he will have learned his lesson in fewer than seven days.

That is enough time to require him to do his laundry and to get tired of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and corn dogs.

A friend wished me luck this way: “may the force be with you.”

I am going to need it.


Some days it feels like I’m parenting with a giant red F across my forehead.

On the day with a seemingly permanent red forehead tattoo, the 10 year old asks for the exact amount of minutes before “I’ll be in” to tuck him into bed and send him off to his dreams with a kiss.

These days, it feels like I’ve done all sorts right.

Despite the red raw marks all over my forehead.

I heard this song on the radio today while in the car driving to work.

I sang my heart out while smiling because when Jack and his little ten year old friends hear this song, they rock out too. It is so fun to see them giving it their all including special emphasis on “a Ferrari.”

I need to remember this when he is running around with these same friends at 17 past curfew.

Clocks, Automata & Paris

It occurred to me last night that one of the best books I’ve read in several years wasn’t up on my Good Reads page. This situation was remedied immediately.

Do you love clocks?

Do you love automata? (Do you know what automata are? I didn’t before I read this book.)

Do you love 1930’s Paris?

Do you want to fall in love with a boy named Hugo?

It doesn’t matter what you answered because you HAVE to read The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick as soon as possible! Check it out from the library or buy it immediately!

Jack brought it home from the school library this past fall. He and his friend had a contest who could make it through the 526 pages first.

Here is a crucial piece of information: my son does NOT read anything that is 526 pages long.

But, he willingly devoured Hugo. Because it was. that. AWESOME.


When he devoured it, I knew I had to read it too.

Then, I willingly devoured it.

It is a lovely story told by words and pictures, but that just doesn’t do it justice.

This book took my breath away. Twice. Seriously.

It won the 2008 Caldecott Medal.

The pictures MOVE the story forward in a beautifully ingenious way.

It involves real people. (I LOVE historical fiction.)

It engaged the real people in the house in a way that hasn’t happened since Troy and I read Harry Potter. (Jack made me read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and they engaged us, but not in the same way.)

Jack and I would check in with one another in the morning to talk about my favorite parts from the night before.

We both noted the unusual drawings. Little did I know what awaited me.

I noticed it was, or is being, made into a movie, but you will want to read it first.

I promise you will not be disappointed.

The tooth fairy strikes again

We were very busy this weekend with dodging rain, or not dodging it as the case was mostly, during soccer and baseball games. Aaron left Saturday afternoon for a work conference, so I pretty much attended all rainy events alone or with Troy. We survived and are no worse for the wear.

The high school was performing Grease for the spring musical, so the boys and I went to check it out. Jack has seen Grease at least 100 times as it was his movie of choice last summer. The high school did a good job on it, but Jack was not impressed. “They skipped three parts. I can’t take it anymore! This is just not right!” Troy and I did a lot of laughing as a result.

A couple weeks ago, Jack had his allergy tests. Troy is allergic to pretty much every nondomesticated animal in Iowa along with every grass and tree. Jack is allergic to the animals we actually have (a cat and a dog) along with dust mites, mold and some grasses. Crazy enough, he has never had any problems with allergies inside the house with the animals. His are mostly as a result of being outside then coming back inside. His allergist was pretty shocked to learn he was fine all winter inside with a cat and a dog…I didn’t tell him that we like to maintain hellish levels of dust as well. Given his test results, there is no doubt he is allergic to the animals. The white blotches are the cat and dog.


We’ve been having crazy thunderstorms and downpours today. It will downpour, then stop and look as if there is an opportunity to walk the dog or something. Then, pouf, downpour. When we were driving in the car today, I saw lightening strike a business and sparks flew.

I was also able to get moving on my quilt this weekend. I was at a major standstill mainly because I didn’t like one of the fabrics I selected. I purchased another fabric and resewed those squares. I am much happier with the end result even if it required significant seam ripping on my part.

Aaron and I are still trying to pin down a vacation for the summer. We’ve been going back and forth between D.C. (though Jack is convinced there is a resident ghost in the White House and doesn’t want to go anywhere near it), Orlando (though the heat may be repressive, I’ve heard the lines are manageable at Disney), and the San Diego area. California is by far the most expensive option. I’ve thrown in a road trip to Yellowstone National Park via Mount Rushmore. This is shaping up to be not only comparatively inexpensive, but also interesting. The cost is going to depend heavily on weather or not the camp sites are reserved or not by the time we are able to make our reservations after May 1st. If the campsites are all reserved, there is very little cost savings PLUS there is all that time in the car with one another.  Soon we’ll know.

I fit in baking two batches of cookies this weekend as well. One was a chocolate chip recipe with instant vanilla pudding in the mix that I made with m&m’s. NUMMY!

Troy lost a tooth Saturday, so the tooth fairy brought him a dollar bill origami boot to add to his origami ring.


Second Graders, Frosting Bags and (Avoiding) Walmart

Its been more than a week, and I have survived 11 second graders making gingerbread houses, secret santa and a Mario Kart Wii shortage everywhere except for Walmart (which in case you’ve forgotten, I HATE…Walmart, not Mario Kart or Wii).

First, Saturday evening after Jack’s friend birthday party, I called my BFF and told her to remind me next year when I think it is a good idea to have a party with children at my house because it will be fun and cheaper than going someplace else. I told her to remind me that $100 is NOT too much to spend, that it is worth every single penny and that to interrupt me if I every start to talk about becoming an elementary school teacher. Since she already upholds this philosophy, it won’t be difficult for her to remind me. THANK GOD!

The kids weren’t that bad aside from all the wrestling, but 11 kids for two hours takes a lot out of you, particularly when you give them frosting bags with tips. Stupidly, I forgot that just because Jack has used a frosting bag and tip and knows that you MUST twist and hold from the top, it doesn’t mean that any other 8 year old know this technique. Thankfully, all the kids were able to make it to the sink before the frosting overflowed onto the floor.

These kids were genuinely fun, just maybe not ALL at one time while they are hopped up on candy and frosting.

Jack chose a chocolate chip cookie bar tower for his cake which saved me a lot of time and energy.


I chose to take part in Secret Santa at work because Secret Santa is fun. I like finding the right gift for my giftee. This year I’ve experienced two problems. The first is completely selfish and indulgent. I got what I asked for: mechanical pencils and Nutella. I was thinking those little packets the size of peanut butter packets at Perkins (say that 5 times fast) , but I got a regular 13 oz jar of Nutella.

Me+13 oz Nutella+a fork=6 oz of Nutella

Of course, I keep forks in a baggie in my desk drawer for my lunches. Of course, the Nutella jar was taunting me sitting there between my monitor and my keyboard.  And, of course, one of my favorite things EVER is being the first person to dig into a smooth, silky mess of peanut butter or NUTELLA! Aaron once got into a little pickle because he dug into the peanut butter without offering me the opportunity, but this is not about issues that I discuss with my therapist…

The second Secret Santa problem is this…my giftee’s wish list included a .5mm z4 Bic pen, movies and Scrabble. I thought the pen should be no problem, but I was wrong. A movie ticket could not be accommodated in the $10 Secret Santa budget, so I opted for specialty popcorn from a store nearby. Scrabble was a toughie…I was hoping to find some word-ie type of fabric to sew up into something fun. Unfortunately, I could find nothing word-ie that was not babyish as well. I found fabric with dominos, bingo and crossword puzzles, but not a single Scrabble related theme.

My next thought in Jo-Ann’s was buttons! Make something and sew on buttons that would fit the theme. Nothing. Ribbon is next to the buttons. Nothing. Scrapbooking supplies surely would have something suitable. Nothing…until I found these capital letter stickers that were BROWN and SQUARE. I found a pack of 8 blank greeting cards and two pieces of fun scrapbooking paper. With my 50% off coupon for the greeting card pack, my total purchase with tax was only $4.83. What a bargain!

I was counting on Aaron for help since he is typically far more creative than I am when it comes to paper items…remind me to post about some of his handmade Christmas cards to frat buddies. I needed him to make something that could resemble a Scrabble tile rack. Just as I suspected, Aaron came up with a pop-up three dimensional tile rack, but it wouldn’t quite work given the time constraints (about 60 minutes for 8 cards). While he cut paper, I dug out Scrabble and added numbers with black ink to all the tile stickers. The previous night, I searched for good 8 letter words (7 tiles PLUS the tile on the board). So, this morning, my recipient got a pack of greeting cards with a Scrabble theme.


Secret Santa left this in the mail room…


I’ll be looking for a used Scrabble game on because Santa’s final gift is this…


As it turns out, Santa has completed his shopping for the boys in our house, but mom and dad have not. I have had a serious lack of inspiration for Jack’s xmas gift after getting him the BEST birthday present ever – a new snowboarding sled and a helmet. Both of these boys have their birthdays in Nov. and Dec. so that makes it that much more difficult. I did get an inspiration the other day with Mario Kart Wii only to find out that no store in all of Des Moines had the game. I went online and everyplace was out –,, Ebay was asking too much. The one place it was available was I searched for another hour online…craigslist, facebook, etc.

For one hour I asked myself again and again if my boycott of Walmart should “ruin” Christmas. Then I thought, good god, I volunteer with the Cub Scouts despite my well documented distate for discrimination against gays. What more do I have to do? I succumbed to the motherly urge to not ruin Christmas only to find that my hour saved me and ruined Christmas – was sold out.

This morning, I searched some more and my last search (before Walmart) was proved fruitful! had it in stock, but you can never be sure at because sometimes items look like they are in stock only to have the out of stock show up at checkout. It looks like I saved Christmas AND avoided Walmart! Yippee!

Here is a picture of one of Jack’s gingerbread houses from school…he cleverly made a door that opens and put a waving gingerbread boy inside. In this picture, it looks like ET. I think he sorta looks like ET in person too.


Cakes and Traditions

While stumbling tonight, I found the Cake Wrecks blog which is awesome! They poke fun at cakes without the mean-spirit. I seriously hope that I don’t end up being poked by them!

Last year on the first day of school, I made Jack a first grade first day of school cake which I took a lot of pride in but that he thought was only moderately interesting despite the smile in this picture. I think I got the idea from Family Fun magazine, but I can’t remember.

With this in mind, this is the conversation Jack and I had before bed last night which concluded the second day of second grade.

J: You should make me a cake for the grade I am in school.

Mom: I made you a cake last year and you didn’t like it!

J: I mean that you should make a cake for whatever day it is that is the same day as my grade.

Mom: Ummm

J: Like on the second day of second grade I get a cake!

Mom: Can it be cupcakes or does it have to be a cake?

J: I don’t care.

Mom: Great idea! But tonight is the second day of second grade, so for this year, can I do it tomorrow?

J: Yes.

I made Julie Hasson‘s Best Chocolate Cupcakes from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes with Jack’s favorite cream cheese frosting. (The buttermilk TRULY makes these killer cupcakes!) Next year, they will be in honor of our tradition, but this year they were in honor of Jack thinking enough about my wanting to give him a tradition that he thought of his own and shared it with me!