Archive - April 2008

Um, no
Random Pictures from April
Evidence of Boys in the House
Retail Therapy
Sometimes You Kick
Boo Cooks (Baked Ravioli and Meatballs recipe)
A MacGyver Moment
TV Armoire
Seven Random Facts
Office Corner Revisted

Um, no

It seems like a good Catholic girl, with 4 children, the youngest of which is getting a bit old to be called the “baby”, cannot knit a pair of baby booties without everyone thinking that another baby is on the way.

Sorry, the only thing being knit is the booties.  One of my good friends from Korea is expecting a grandson in June and the booties are for him.

Thanks for the laugh, though.  I didn’t see that one coming.

Random Pictures from April

Found in the garden: ladybug

Resting at the National Aquarium in Baltimore: African bullfrog. Sometimes they eat their siblings.

Created by Pumpkin Girl under Boo’s loft bed: stalactites

Being knitted: baby bootie

Seen from the freeway on the way home from Baltimore: a pineapple on top of a building. Click on the picture to enlarge.

Discovered on the internet: close-up of the pineapple

Flying by my house: CH-46 Sea Knight

Retail Therapy

We can’t just “run out to the store” around here.  Our military base is wedged in between the Potomac River and the worst neighborhood in DC.  Plus, our base exchange, or BX, is small and it is a rare day when we can find everything on our list.  So we keep a running list of things to buy off base and when the list gets long enough, we load up the young ‘uns and mosey on out.  As much as one can mosey in a minivan.

Last week we hit the much bigger post exchange at Fort Belvoir.  Much consuming was going on and there was no evidence of a slowing economy.  We bought a toddler mattress, a garden gnome, wooden hangers, boy’s dress socks and a bunch of other stuff that has been happily stored away out of sight.  The only impulse purchases were from the Usborne Book lady lying in wait at the entrance.  If it’s one thing our family loves, it’s books.  We got off relatively easy with a children’s book of King Arthur stories and one sort of fairy stories with morals.   Hmm, I guess the garden gnome was an impulse purchase, too. But really, can one really have too many gnomes?  Don’t answer that.

We ventured out again on Sunday, this time to Target.  Oh Target, how do we love thee, let me count the ways:

Wide, open aisles
Bright lights
Nice things I’d actually display in my home
Decent prices
An actual selection of items, not just one

And Hello Kitty.  Target sells a lot of Hello Kitty.

Armed with my list, we shopped.  Since our little BX doesn’t carry binders (you know, the 3-ring kind) unless it’s back-to-school time, imagine my joy at finding not just file folders at Target, but color folders.  And children’s chewable Tylenol – also not to be found at our BX.  And there, minding her own business in the health care aisle, this cute Hello Kitty humidifier.

Stop laughing already!  Our humidifier broke while Phil was enjoying three hots and a cot and a daily exercise routine in Afghanistan.  We hadn’t replaced it yet, so I ask you, why not Hello Kitty? Plus, Pumpkin Girl and I look really cute when we smile pretty and bat our long eyelashes over our big eyes.  Into the basket went Kitty.

Onward to the toy aisle.  Not so much of a dangerous move as you’d think.  Boo needed some Storm Troopers (don’t we all?) and he had his own money.  Then we moved on to the girl toys to shop a gift for Pumpkin’s BFF.  I’m just glad we weren’t at Toys R Us, or we’d all still be there.

Indecisive Girl is wickedly tough to shop with.  Everything I suggested, knowing a thing or two about little girls, was met with a resounding, “no!”  Since she obviously had her own ideas, I suggested that she should pick something.  Oh yeah, that went well.

“How about playdough?”  Um no, honey, your friend is turning 9, not 5.

“My Little Pony?”  Again, with the turning 9.

Then Helpful Boy started piping in with suggestions like a tea set or an Easy Bake Oven or Storm Troopers.

I suggested a game.  Pumpkin spotted Mancala, her newest favorite game.  It was a great idea, except that it cost all of $5.   So then we tried the Barbie aisle.  Barbie is not without controversy, so I was reluctant to buy one without asking BFF’s mom.  But Pumpkin would not be dissuaded.  Thank God for cell phones, and yes, Barbies are fine.  So then it was a matter of which Barbie out of the 20 on display.  This one or that one?  Blond or Brunette, princess or ballerina.  Finally we had it narrowed down to 2 and I explained the pros and cons of each.  Then Pumpkin says, “I like the ballerina one.”  You mean the one you said no to ten minutes ago?  ARGH!  I was ready to lie down, right there on the Target floor, and cry.

What I actually did was walk away and tell Philip to deal with it.

Turns out that Pumpkin was cranky at the purchase of Storm Troopers.  Once the birthday present was decided on, she asked very nicely if she could spend her money on something, too.  Her choice – a Barbie car.  If your child has a Barbie, you are contractually obligated to provide Barbie with a car.  Even I had a Barbie car – a yellow Corvette with a luggage rack.  Pumpkin’s choice was this sweet little beach car, complete with drink cooler.

So, everyone all smiles again, we went off pick out some sandals for Pumpkin.  More drama, indecisions and mama on the floor in tears.

At least I got a Hello Kitty humidifier out of it.

Sometimes You Kick

Grief is funny.  There you are, minding your own business, doing your thing and then it hits you – a piece of you is gone forever and not coming back and there is nothing you can do about it.  It really hurts.  Sometimes it’s just a little hurt, like seeing the pretty Easter dresses in a store which are available in multiple sizes.  How cute my little girls would look, all matching for Easter.  Would, being the key word.

Or walking along the ship’s deck on a Disney Cruise.    I know she would love the princesses.  She should be here. Should.

And then the moment passes and it’s ok again.

Sometimes though – wow, it just hits full force and knocks you down and you don’t think you’ll ever get up.  You may not even see it coming.

A few times a year, we sing a song at church that we sang at Rebecca’s funeral.  Sometimes we all make it through, sometimes we get a little teary and some days it is all too much.

Today was such a day.

I fell out first.  I couldn’t even manage the first verse.  By the chorus I had tears streaming down my face.  At some point Philip stopped singing and then I saw Boo was fighting tears.  By the end of the song, the four of us were a sobbing mess, shaking and holding on to each other.  Poor Bip was the only dry eye in our family, the only one not bobbing in the wake of such an intense loss.

We sit in the front row of course, our grief  on display for the whole congregation.

We are all lucky to have experienced such a deep, long lasting love.  When we were parted from the one we loved so dearly, we were left with pain so intense that sometimes it comes bubbling out.  There’s nothing to do but let it go.  I’d like to say it makes you feel better, but it doesn’t.  Nothing does, really.  Except the promise of heaven.

In the immortal words of INXS, “Sometimes you kick, sometimes you get kicked.”

Boo Cooks (Baked Ravioli and Meatballs recipe)

This month’s recipe is brought to you by Boo. It’s a baked ravioli and meatball extravaganza, resplendid in its use of pre-packaged food. It may not be good for you, but it’s good. And quick and easy. If you have a big enough freezer, you could even keep the ingredients on hand (even the cheese) for last minute dinners.

Bake Ravioli and Meatballs

1 25 oz pkg frozen cheese filled ravioli
1 20 oz pkg frozen cooked meatballs, thawed
1 28 oz jar spaghetti sauce
6 oz (1 1/2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 13×9 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Cook ravioli to desired doneness as directed on package.

Drain ravioli; place in sprayed dish. Top with meatballs and sauce; sprinkle with cheese.

Bake at for 30-35 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.

See how easy that is? Don’t go crazy trying to find the exact right sizes of the ingredients. Just use what you can find. Better yet, have your 9 year old son make dinner for once. Maybe you should help him drain the ravioli, though.

Boo dumps the cooked ravioli into the baking dish…

…and pours on the sauce. (Please note that where he is working is my entire kitchen workspace.)

Dinner is ready!

A MacGyver Moment

So the Pope arrived in town today.   Philip, as our intrepid parish council president had one (and only one!) ticket to view his arrival at Andrews AFB.  Sadly, I don’t have any pictures to share because Philip turned down the ticket because he felt he couldn’t take that much time off of work.  He just couldn’t appreciate the importance of the event, especially to my blog.  Short sighted man.

And even though on Friday he will officially be over 40, I won’t be trading him in for a younger, newer, more blog sensitive model.  Where would I be without him, after all?  OK, so I could’ve gone without following him to Korea, but still he’s very useful.  Did you see the Pantry of Love he made me?  He even cleans out the Mama Car, right down to bringing in all the extraneous bags floating around in it.

And if one of those bags contains say, extra diapers and wipes, one really can’t fault him for that, right?  Because after all, he was helping me out.


So it was my turn to drive ballet carpool this morning.  I have to bring both of my boys with me, which isn’t really that big of a deal.  Except that for the first time ever, Bip had a poopie diaper while waiting.  He didn’t smell particularly bad, but he kept saying very clearly, “Mama, me-a poopie!”  What could I do?  All the other waiting parents heard him.  I knew I didn’t have any diapers in my purse, so I went out for the spares in the car.

Of which there weren’t any. See above paragraph.

So what is a mom to do?

I searched and searched that car for any diapers.  And since Bip had a cloth diaper on, I also needed some sort of bag for putting the soiled one into.  What I came up with was one rogue cloth diaper-turned burp cloth, circa 1970.  My mom gave me a bunch of my old cloth diapers to use as burp cloths.  Why that one was still in our car long after Bip outgrew the spitting up, I have no idea. But there it was.  I also found some wipes, still wet.  And a Priority Mail bag, unused.  Just enough to get the job done.

The burp cloth was very thin, not like the luxurious cloth diapers I use.  But it would get us through the last 10 minutes of dance class and the 20 minute ride home.  Fortunately, Bip already had pins in the soiled diaper and a diaper cover or it wouldn’t have worked at all.  Back in the bathroom, I dunked the liner in gloriously clean toilet and stuck the whole thing in the mailing bag.  I twisted the top and walked out like it was no big deal, feeling very much like MacGyver.

Good for Philip, cleaning out my car.  Not so good with the removing of my spare diapers.

I’m starting to think I need my own theme song.

TV Armoire

A long time ago I once read about “one motion storage.” The concept is to strive to store your things in a way that only requires one motion to retrieve them or put them away. I’m sure most of you do this instinctively most of the time. Like your dinner plates are probably located on the lowest shelf in your cupboard, and nothing else is stacked on them. You need a plate, you open the cupboard, you get one out. Easy.

Lesser used items can be stored in a way that requires multiple motions. The guest towels can go behind the every day towels. The turkey platter can have pie plates stacked on it. The point is that the more you use an item, the less work you want to be doing to get it or put it away. If it’s a much used item and it’s hard to put away, chances are, you’ll let it sit out until the next time you need it.

Did you know that this applies to laundry hampers, too? I took the lids off our laundry hampers years ago and it totally increased the odds of the dirty laundry actually getting into the hamper. Who knew that lifting the lid could be such an obstacle? (oh, and notice I said taking the lid off the hamper increases the odds of clothes going in.  I don’t want you getting any false illusions now!)

When we lived in Korea, we had a very small TV that sat on the government-provided end table in the living room. I kept a really nice Longaberger Collector’s Club Membership basket on the TV. It was just the right size to hold our most watched video tapes. You know how children get into watching the same thing every day? Well, those were the videos in the basket. No digging around every single day in the video cabinet – just reach into the pretty basket, get the tape, put it in the VCR.  When it was finished, back into the basket.

Now that we’re back in the States and have our TV armoire and larger TV back, the basket doesn’t fit on the top of the TV. Plus, we’ve since made the move to DVDs. But we still have several DVDs that we watch at least once a week, if not more. School DVDs like Geography Songs, Math U See lessons, Science experiments – all get pulled out constantly. Then Bip’s current movie obsessions – Cars, Curious George, Madagascar, to name a few. All these DVDs never end up getting put away.

Here you see them sitting on top of the TV, ready to be used at a moments notice. I guess it is one-motion storage, but of the “it’s too hard to put away, just to get out again, so I’ll just leave them out” variety.  And be careful not to bump the TV or you’ll end up with everything on your toes.

So I cleaned up a bit – see.

Ha, ha! No, I didn’t just close the door on the mess.

Here it really is.

I bought a small CD wallet and put all the school DVDs, my workout DVDs and Bip’s movies of the month in it. They are easily accessible just by reaching up, and putting them away will be just as easy. And much better than leaving them out to gather dust. I stuck the cases in the way back of that upper shelf. Yes, I know I should throw them out. My one workout video still in VHS form is on that top shelf, too. Netflix movies are just off to the side of the cable box. I’d rather have them up on that top shelf, but the children need to be able to reach them.

Cleaning up this area was such a small thing, but it makes a big difference.

Seven Random Facts

The warmer weather is slow cooking my brain, so I haven’t come up with anything interesting to blog about lately. Trish in Honduras tagged me for this meme not too long ago, and now is as good a time as any to play along.

1. Link your tagger and list these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.

4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Seven things…hmm. So what haven’t I told you about already?

1. I can play this piece -Khachaturian Toccata- on the piano.

2. Ambitiously, I’d like to learn to play Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (skip to about 6 minutes in for the fun parts)

3. Realistically, I could do this.

4. My hand is too small to play Liszt or Rachmanioff, thus dooming my career as a concert pianist.

(obsess much over the piano?)

5. I took French in high school.

6. I was ready to jump on stage and take up arms at the end of this scene of Les Miserable. Sometimes the French in me just takes over and wants to riot.

7. I think Boo takes after me in this respect:

Boo with Weapon

Office Corner Revisted

It has been months and months since I last tackled one of the Corners of My Home. I’m not sure what happened really. I’ve still got a lot of areas that need serious work, and many of the previous cleared out spaces need a little touching up.

We really struggle with our office area. Part of the problem is that every room in our house is being used and we don’t have a real office. It’s really just a portion of the living room. Anything that needs to be stored temporarily ends up here, then somehow never moves out. If we have people over – too bad. We can’t close the door on the mess because there is no door. It doesn’t matter what the project is, if we don’t have a place for it, it ends up in the office.

For years we used a small rolltop desk and a small computer armoire. We combined the two and got a nice, L-shaped computer table. The old computer desk was damaged from many moves and our flood, so it went out in the trash. The rolltop just stayed in the office area, blocking off one of the bookshelves. It became a clutter magnet, a place to stick stuff on, under and around. Last week, I’d had enough.


I started with the rolltop. Two of the boxes sitting in front of it were waiting to be mailed out. That was easy. The boxes under it are full of Girl Scout cookies waiting to be donated to Walter Reed. Even though I try very hard not to use our guest room as storage, I moved the cookies up there. They will be out of the house by the end of the month and I cannot store them outside. Good enough! The terrarium was moved to a more isolated area, which makes the crabs happy. Their food, sitting in a basket on the desk, went with them. Everything else was relocated. I found a new, very happy, owner for the rolltop and it went to its new home last night.

There’s some junk next to the desk that is hard to see. That’s gone, too.

Here’s the area now:

Look! Bookshelves!

I’m not too thrilled with having stuff in that corner by the piano, but it’s wasted space. I’d like to move the piano to the right for better access to that corner, but it’s already taking up the whole wall. So for now, that’s my yarn stash in the clear box, with a couple of projects in bags. At least it’s neat and out of the way. And now Philip knows where I hide my yarn.

Oh, and I changed the picture over the piano. The first one is a Kinkade of the US Capitol. We rediscovered it when one of my Ten Friends Named Jen came and helped me declutter. I’d forgotten we had it! So we hung it up, but I thought it was too small for the wall. Also discovered in the dejunking was this cool Norman Rockwell print that Sonlight Curriculum gave out one year. We stuck it in Philip’s homework pile to get framed. It came back a couple of weeks ago and it fit the space better. The Kinkade was moved to another wall.

So now that I can access the bookshelves again, it’s time to go through those. I think that’s my next decluttering project.

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