Monday, December 31, 2007


This is what I have been working on tirelessly (?) for two days. That's me taking a well-earned nap on the bed, ha. I've been fascinated with dollhouses since visiting the Museum of Science and Industry's dollhouse display when I was less than ten years old. It seems like there are two there (but perhaps they are different museums). One is a huge Victorian traditional dollhouse with details so exquisite it could make you cry. You walk around it and must stayed behind the velvet ropes. I think it is decorated for Christmas during the season. The other, and this may be at the Art Institute of Chicago, is small windows behind glass with separate dollhouse rooms. There are little steps in front of each display for children to see in better. They are both amazing.
My house is, well, mine. A gift from my husband a couple of birthdays ago.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas 06 and 07

Oh what a difference a year makes. My brother in law Chuck, my dad, Boy13 and I last year above and this year below.

Goodbye Toys, Goodbye Games

I should have done this a long time ago, but it's hard for me to get rid of things. Just a habit formed in childhood, when everything unneeded was shipped to the attic. That makes for a really full attic.
I have offered these items on Free Cycle, a nifty on-line community where you can give or receive things for free. I think it is available anywhere in the country where there's a moderator willing to monitor it. I got a nice computer desk a couple of days ago, and have picked up items for clients, too. This is my first offer (see I don't like to get rid of stuff).
It took a long time to go through that toy box. I had to ask the boys to identify which figures were Pokemon, Digemon and Yu-gi-oh so I could sort them properly. And yes, I kept some of their toys. What for, I don't know? Sentimentality? Because I know they will bring memories for the kids in the future? Grandchildren? Yikes I can't believe I said that.

Friday, December 28, 2007

More B-ball

Here is Boy13 leading the team onto the court (I think they start with the shortest). His team is winning a holiday tournament and will play the championship game tomorrow at 5:00. It's a 30 minute drive from home, not too bad. I may not go tomorrow night, as in a competitive game he won't play. I like the other kids, but I've spent the last 3 days watching them play.

I hear the thumping of a bass drum in the back room. Supposedly Boy14 and his friends are jamming here everyday, but I don't hear anything that sounds like music. They have taken over several rooms in the house, and so tomorrow it's time for them move onto someone else's house.

I feel like I am already getting behind on my vacation 'chores'. I still have to vacuum Boy19's room while he's away, do something with my dollhouse (I'll show the results if I get anything done), get some pictures printed and maybe scrapbook them, clean out the toy closet so I can turn it into something more functional like 'music closet', finish reading "Reading Lolita...", etc etc.

I've had some bizarre dreams lately involving Eva Longeria (that's how she spelled it in my dream), Katie Holmes, Bridget Moynihan and Tom Brady. It's either the Valerian root tea, or perhaps too many bad gossip magazines.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Embracing My Age

I've been enjoying my reading glasses around my house until my mom commented I looked liked Aunt Myrtle. Aunt Myrtle was my very eccentric childless great aunt on my mom's side. My mother was the only child among her mother and her three sibs, so she was kinda special. It's hard to describe Aunt Myrtle but maybe this vignette will help: whenever we visited her farm in Minnesota or later the house in town, she sat down at the piano, lifted up her reading glasses from her ample bosom where they rested and launched into a mediocre but enthusiastic rendition of "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window" and insisted we sing. Once while taking the required photographs at the end of our visit, she approached with a large powder puff of make-up which she slatered all over my sister and me, like a 1920's Hollywood director. I'm not sure this is the image I want to evoke with my reading glasses.

I've been kicking around the last two days, organizing the house between ball games. I'm easily distracted so it takes a long to get a task done. For example, while working on the living room I had to go to the dry cleaners, eat pumpkin pie, look through photo albums, re-arrange my scrapbooking supplies, send several emails, print off my annual holiday memories. I also found it's been so long since I vacuumed, I forgot how to turn the sweeper on.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Here is my contribution to the ornament photographs. This is Boy13's favorite team, the Louisville Cardinals. My sis is so hoping he does go to college at L'ville so she can see and feed him every week. A simple fantasy. She indulges him with everything Lousville, pillows, sweatshirts, t-shirts, pj pants, blankies,...

The next photo is somewhat of a tradition of using different monikers on the packages. My brother started it years ago with his hysterical football inspired quips.

The three boys debuted their latest homemade video last night, entitled The Ups and Downs of Kenny Chesney. It was inspired by a goofy cowboy hat Pat got for Boy14
($2) as a joke. His new guitar was featured as well as a laser light and funny dental scene (using those awful fake teeth they found in their stocking). It was pretty hilarious.

Poshlust redux

Okay, I missed the boat on Poshlust. It is more or less false attractiveness, maybe garish posing as beautiful. It could also be false importance, false cleverness or someone who is a fraud. My first thought was pink flamingoes, but better yet, those giant blow-up turkeys people put on their lawns, robbing our last sacred holiday, Thanksgiving, of its quiet simplicity. I really could almost handle the cardboard cherubic pilgrims posted on schoolroom doors, but a blow-up turkey, come on. Poshlust!


I'm going to put another Nabokov term into my own words. It is kind of a juxtaposition of two discordant things; in Nabokov a picture of a happy baby picture next to a person about to get beheaded. We've been watching old Seinfeld episodes, courtesy Boy14 Christmas present, and were discussing the family stress around the holidays and George's father screaming out, "Serenity Now." That's poshlust, to me.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Christmas must entail at least one new book and with it, a renewed enthusiasm for reading. My book is from my sister and is called Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. I think I had vaguely heard about it sometime in the past year, and it is capturing my imagination and broadening my understanding of the world so far. I had the mistaken idea that somehow putting women in veils and robes would strip them of all individuality and personality, but luckily this is not the case. I am meeting some extraordinary women through the pages of this novel.

Upsilamba is a word from Vladimir Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading. Possibly an invented word, the girls in the novel each have their own meaning for it. It became part of their secret language, these Iranian women who are covertly studying Western literature in secrecy. I'm sorry to say I am terribly underread, and haven't even read Lolita.

On another note, has anyone ever listened to Josh Groban? The name evokes images of John Mayer or even Michael Bolton, but that he is not. I believe he sings in Italian and English, another language anyway. A client of mine introduced me to him and burned a CD for me. I was in a Josh Groban mood today, I guess you could say.

Merry Christmas

This is my special family Christmas tradition: Strawberries. We have been making them for 43 years, according to my mother. This year the boys shaped the strawberries all by themselvs. It was a quite an accomplishment, as there is a certain apprenticeship one has to endure before becoming a true strawberry maker. I submitted a story to one of those newspaper insert magazines about the process, but it never got published. Guess it will have to be another self-published tome on the blog (later). The plate is one of the exclusive patterns of the Lomonosov pottery in St. Petersburg where we had a tour and spent too much money in 2001.

Right now I am smelling the sweet scent of butterscotch pecan pie that I just removed from the oven. Kind of my own creation, or at least variation. This is a first time recipe so I will have to let you know later how it is.

Everyone is going to the new National Treasure movie at 2:00 today except me. I will be cooking and setting the table, etc. and perhaps enjoying a little peace and Christmas music. My goals are to clear off my dresser to make way for some new trinkets I got last night, and to go through the CD box and match all the CD's up with their cases. That and prepare the ham, twice baked potatoes and whatever else I can scrounge up. I won't accomplish everything.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Crabby Pattie

I've been in quite the mood today. Perhaps it was too much caffeine, or just the added stress of the holidays.
Boy19 has made it safely across Iowa and to Nebraska to spend the holiday with his grandparents and father. I think it was his first hazardous driving experience. There was ice on the trees and snow on the ground at 3 am and I was a little worried about what the day would hold for him. He was sleeping on the couch when we came downstairs this morning and he took off about 10:30 a.m. in my car and with my cell and the warning, "Don't f--- with my cell phone." Meaning, don't lose, break or othewise abuse it. He called promptly upon his arrival at 6:10 p.m. at the same moment I was thinking of calling him.

That said, I have decided to take my parents lead and put money in a jar everytime I swear in an effort to reduce this bad behavior I have. Since I would go broke in a day putting in $1 a word, I will do 25 cents per violation. I'll let you know when I can afford a nice meal out (probably by the end of January).

Merry One

I'm sorry I waited a week to update the old blog. It was a busy week, in spite of having no classes to worry about. I worked until Friday and it was a wild week. My fellow case manager was off to Jamaica for a belated honeymoon, lucky girl, so I had to cover her caseload for her (she has mine this week!).

There were two basketball games this week. One was a nail biter in which only 8 of the 15 boys got to play. Thursday night was a domination by our team, so everyone got to play. I have to say I understand the flip side of "running up the score." I used to think there was no reason for it, and it was simply bad sportsmanship. However, when your kid rarely gets to play, he gets in and wants to play. He also wants to prove himself and perhaps increase his chances to play next time. So Boy13 made a nice steal and breakaway layup. He was also fouled while shooting and made the first of two freethrows. Finally with two seconds on the clock he shot and made a nice jumper, falling on the floor in the process and evoking a big cheer from the crowd and dogpile from his teammates. It reminded me of when Boy19 won his first wrestling match in two years of varsity wrestling.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

cookie dough

Those are Mexican Wedding Cakes aka Russian Tea Cookies aka Danish something or others in the grocery store, so who knows the real name or origin? We used finely chopped pecans and they were delish. Along with Alice's best ever sugar cookies and Bark, it was quite a day. Luckily, they are all devoured now.

Friday, December 14, 2007


My day...

I shouldn't have gone to work, but I always go when I'm sick. I reserve my sick days for mental health. First, I cancelled a home visit where a newborn lives, so as not to hack all over her and infect her. The next visit there was smoking (not good for my lungs at all). About 20 minutes in I had a coughing fit I couldn't control. I was hacking so bad I was gagging and throwing up in my mouth. They generously offered me a bottle of water (boil order still in effect).

Later in the copy room it happened again. The whole office was I'm sure irritated with me spreading my germs all over. At this point, I called the doctor and got in at 2:15. The nurse practioner gave me a couple scripts for cough syrup with codeine, I'm feeling it, and Zithromax because, "your throat looks red". Okay, I know we're not supposed to be taking antibiotics willy nilly, so I considered blowing that off, but after coming home and lying down I felt worse and decided to take it anyway.

Did I mention I won Spider Solitaire yesterday (at work)? haha. My scrapbooking friend and I were busting a gut about some study stating the average American spends two or three hours a day messing around on the Internet or playing games at work. What did we do before computers to waste time at work? And what about all the pressure and downsizing and squeezing the life out of employees? Somehow it doesn't quite add up. Actually I was told I shouldn't be exceeding productivity standards regularly so I've been trying to kick back. I think today would qualify since about all I did was cough.

I think the codeine is kicking in. Pat and I are going to relax and watch the Bourne Ultimatum (2nd time)tonight. I love the opening sequence in that movie. Thank you Secret Santa.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I've been sidetracked by life. No bloggee for 10 days. I did have a nice long paragraph written last weekend but when I navigated away from the page I lost my text. It was just too aggravating to start over. I did catch up on reading a few blogs last night. I'm sure my handful readers have given up on me.

The news is: classes and finals are over. I have one month without school which is a big relief. I am now wearing reading glasses, which my 25 year old co-worker gave me a chain for, so I can look like real old lady. I am coming down with something and losing 1/2 my voice. The water in our entire town is under a boil order for going on 3 days.

My young sports enthusiast, Boy13, who has been honing his writing skills this year (Writer of the Week X3) won a school wide essay contest on Jane Addams. This makes me especially proud because she was my childhood idol and reason I am involved with social work to this day. Illinois has named December 10th the first commemorative day for a woman in the U.S. (can that really be true?).

I have been playing Spider Solitaire (won only twice on level 2) and Free Rice vocabulary game regularly. Try free rice at Learn new words and donate to a good cause at the same time.

Work is going great. I am helping people connect with jobs, winter coats, apartments, food and anything else they need to live more healthy and productive lives.

Madz, you are so insanely crafty. We don't even have a tree up yet and you are making button trees.

Ginnie, you are the most fantastic photographer and collector of unusual things.

Ragged, your button tree is antique-esque and very nicely done.

Now, I must tell a story that Ragged's cookie cutter mobile reminded me of. Here goes: Boy14 does get credit for starting his final geometry project a couple days ahead by mentioning something about making a gingerbread house. The assignment was to make a Christmas ornament (what if you are Muslim/Jewish/Jehovah Witness?)using 10 geometric concepts no larger than 5" by 5". It could be a mobile, which is what reminded me. So I was nice enough to pick up some graham crackers and frosting for the project. One evening, Monday I believe, I look in the refrigerator and see the ugliest, most un-geometric graham cracker house I've ever seen (I've seen 4 year olds make better ones). I take it out, call him over and start a beat down on him, tearing the mismatched walls off and cursing the lack of effort. Boy19 who is sitting nearby says, "Bro, I'll tell something I learned in 6th grade: never ever ask Mom or Pat for help with a school project."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Madz' Meme

I have not been keeping up with reading everyone's blogs, but I think (?) Madz asked me to fill out this meme. I think it is secretly some kind of memory test to see if you have Alzheimer's. Though unless I just admit I can't remember anything and it doesn't sound too nutsy, you would never know if I made it up or truly remembered it.
If the answer is in bold print, that's what Madz said.

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night? that guy on The Soup.

2. What were you doing at 0800? sleeping, unusually late...

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago? picking up Boy14 at a friend's house. It feels like -15 degrees out there, time for this boy to get his driver's license.

4. What happened to you in 2006? Uh, I had a rectal exam?

5. What was the last thing you said out loud? “I think you have a game tomorrow night.”

6. How many beverages did you have today? who cares

7. What color is your hairbrush? same as above

8. What was the last thing you paid for? a coffee from the Old Dairy

9. Where were you last night? at home, there was a supposed ice storm outside

10. What color is your front door? brown wood, with a large plate of glass so you can look right in (or out).

11. Where do you keep your change? bottom of my purse and spread all over my dresser just like a man.

12. What’s the weather like today? cold as a witch's tit

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor? Breyer's Vanilla Bean

14. What excites you? conversation

15. Do you want to cut your hair? yes, my bangs are so in the way.

16. Are you over the age of 25? obviously.

17. Do you talk a lot? only when no one is around

18. Do you watch the O.C.? is that still on??

19. Do you know anyone named Steven? An old client in NY.

20. Do you make up your own words? yes, I just can't think of any good examples...

21. Are you a jealous person? Nope. Well, maybe a little.

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’. Angie: Me too!

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’. I don't have that many friends.

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list? what the hell is a received call list? Wait, I think it might be my mom. Do you mean the last person that called me?

25. What does the last text message you received say? I've never had one, nor do I know how to get one if I did.

26. Do you chew on your straw? not particularly, I like to pull and push that accordion kind of straw together a bunch of times.

27. Do you have curly hair? doesn’t get much straighter than this, DITTO

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to? I hope to work in the morning, and not to the hospital in the middle of the night.

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life? a certain member of a certain group I belong to.

30. What was the last thing you ate? manicotti

31. Will you get married in the future? Huh?

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks? I was starting watching a sappy TV movie called "The Ron Clark Story" or something like that about a teacher in NYC and thought it was interesting. Mr. Magorium was okay. I did watch Slingblade again and that is terrific.

33. Is there anyone you like right now? Well sure, my husband, my kids, fellow bloggers, for starters.

34. When was the last time you did the dishes? While cooking dinner this evening.

35. Are you currently depressed? Nope.

36. Did you cry today? I got a little teared up when I heard "Little Drummer Boy."

37. Why did you answer and post this? Shameless self promotion.

38. Tag 5 people who would do this survey. I don't think there are five people reading this, but if you are please post your answers!

So Nice

It was so nice to be able to walk at the YMCA with my Ipod playing. Boy13 had selected a pretty good playlist for me when I used his, called "Rock" which avoided all his rap and hip hop stuff (some is okay). It was good to have had a break from listening to my tunes, as they were getting stale and now it's all good again.

I'm baking some Manicotti which we haven't had in ages. Doesn't that sound good with Garlic breadsticks and salad? Well, I don't really have any salad. How about carrots?

I've been trying to find and request some materials from the U of I library and they make it so darn complicated. I already had 3 different ID and passwords, now I have another 14 digit library card number and a myriad of instructions on how to request materials that aren't available on-line. And they won't process your request unless you use the proper on-line form, which doesn't seem to work for me and my g.d. name and number.

I will be glad to go back to work tomorrow. It's been a really long weekend.

Here is a picture of Nephew8 playing piano for the family over Thanksgiving. In one year of lessons, his repetoire is very good. He is also wearing an old sweater of mine, which he used to play an "old lady" in the movie the boys made. He also wore a pair of my boots and carried a purse. It was pretty funny