Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Whenever we make great strides against the bug infestation, I rejoice and remark upon our victory. My husband, ever the realist, qualifies each step with a reminder about what still remains to be done in our battle. For example, he sprayed the bed frame with bug killer this morning and this afternoon I vacuumed up several dozen corpses. I told him how much I was encouraged by this and he reminded me that we will need to do this again in 2 weeks' time.

Then I reminded him of one of my favorite quotes from Buffy:

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Lie to Me (#2.7)" (1997)
[last lines]
Buffy: Does it ever get easy?
Giles: You mean life?
Buffy: Yeah, does it get easy?
Giles: What do you want me to say?
Buffy: Lie to me.
Giles: Yes. It's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true. The bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies and... everybody lives happily ever after.
Buffy: Liar.

To Review

Last weekend, before my mother left for her retreat, I made an announcement to the general public (meaning, all the adults present, which only included my mother and my husband). I was going to see the new Transformers movie this weekend. It's exactly the kind of happy-action, brain-dead movie that cheers me up; I am like my father this way, although I have more tolerance for massive CGI-wonderfests than he does. So, it is encouraging me to see that it is receiving better than usual reviews, so far.

Because of all the excitement around here for the last few weeks, we are woefully behind in our movie-watching. Marshall and I are hoping to take a couple of days to spend away from the rest of the clan while we are in San Diego in August, and I would like to spend them at a hotel within walking distance of a movie theatre.

But, since I, apparently, have nothing better to do this afternoon, I thought I would update my move list for 2011:

January 14
Green Hornet (I actually tried to watch this, but it was so horrible, I turned it off. I made the horrific mistake of watching the original series in its entirety first, which is decent if a little campy. The movie seems to miss the point entirely. Ugh.)
April 1
Source Code (Marshall and I were able to go out and see this while my parents were here and we really liked it. Not as amazing Moon, but still very good.)
April 29
Fast Five (So much fun! Ridiculous fun, even. Rotten Tomatoes gave it an excellent rating
May 6
Thor (I enjoyed it, but mostly for the actors themselves, especially Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, and, of course, Idris Elba. I did not like Natalie Portman as Jane.)
June 3
X-Men: First Class (I enjoyed this, mostly because of Michael Fassbender.)

June 10
Super 8 (We were supposed to see this to celebrate Marshall's birthday, but we both got sick)
June 17
Green Lantern (still want to see it despite the poor reviews)
June 24
Cars 2 (ditto)
July 1
Transformers: Dark of the Moon(I am going this weekend!)
July 15
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (the new trailer is out and looks awesome!)
July 20
Another Earth (this just looks interesting)
July 22
Captain America: The First Avenger (the trailer looks like a lot of fun)
July 29
Cowboys & Aliens (Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in a western with aliens and all the early buzz is good!)
November 11
Immortals (second trailer out this week; still looks interesting)
December 16
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (directed by Brad Bird; end of story.)
December 16
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (the first one was fun, so perhaps this one will be, as well, though not as good as Sherlock.)
December 23
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (directed by Steven Spielberg and based on famous comics that I've never read; still, could be fun)

Okay, so what was supposed to be a 20 minute post turned into 2 hours because I don't really know how to edit html and my background color went funky so then I removed all the hyperlinks. I'll try to put them back in later. I should really go feed the children, like, now.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Notes from the Front

(Yes, I stole the image straight from Amazon!)

So, there is this great book that I loved as a child and my children love as well (we've loved our way through 3 different copies, so far) called Henry's Awful Mistake by Robert Quakenbush. It tells the story about how Henry the duck found an ant in his kitchen while he was cooking dinner for his friend Clara and in the process of trying to kill the ant, he destroys his entire house. (And he never actually kills the ant!) It's starting to feel like that around here.

So we ripped out Miranda's carpet and baseboard, threw out nearly half the contents of her closet, enclosed her mattress and pillow in plastic, and are washing her bedding every morning, only to discover, thanks to my mother, that the most effective way to kill the bedbugs is to wait until Miranda goes to sleep, then lurk over her with a flashlight and a kleenex and smash them one by one when they come out to eat.

Yes, we are still going to poison her bed frame with the chemicals that arrived this afternoon, which should further cut down on the population, but this is what my stalwart mother and husband do in the evening before they go to sleep. I, myself can't seem to face the bugs in the dark. In the light of day I have no problem smashing them, but after the sun goes down, I twitch and shudder and run the other direction. The give me the creeping horrors. Ugh.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fuzzy Friday

1. I am just fuzzy. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune have been coming so fast and furious around here that I don't quite know how to process them yet. So I'm just kinda dazed, moving forward in an automatic fashion.

2. My mother is here and helping tremendously by cleaning a house that hadn't been cleaned in too long (I've had to put off the cleaning lady for several weeks in a row, what with one thing and another) and had no energy to keep up with the mess. She's actually outside, now, mowing the lawn. God bless her. She's wonderful.

3. You know how last week we thought Miranda's rash was caused by scabies? Well, it wasn't getting better, so we investigated further and found bed bugs in her room. For all my West Coast readers, this is a pretty serious problem that will take weeks to resolve. For all my local readers, I won't take it personally if you never want to come to my house again. Seriously.

So, on Saturday we purchased and installed plastic covers for her mattress and pillow. And then, on Sunday, which as you will recall, was Father's Day, Marshall worked from 10 am to 7 pm to rip out the carpet and padding in Miranda's room, tear out all the baseboard and pull up all the carpet tacking. Then he dosed all the cracks at the edge of the room. We have seen a decrease in bug activity, but we still plan to spray all the furniture in the room with pesticide as soon as the mailman delivers it.

This would also explain why I have become the perpetual laundry machine because every morning, after Miranda gets out of bed, I look over her bedding carefully for any live bugs (and squash them) and then put all of her bedding through the washer and dryer, running both as hot as possible. I have been checking Alex's sheets carefully as well, but we don't have any sign of bugs outside of Miranda's room and we want to keep it that way. Of course, this means we have to keep letting them bite her every night until we've killed all of them. Not a happy situation for a parent.

She's had this "rash" on her body for weeks. Two trips to the pediatrician, school nurse, nobody identified it until we found a live bug. Apparently, her bites don't look like all the ones on Wikipedia and such. She's special, but we knew that.

4. But that's not the kicker. This morning, I took her into the city (read: Philadelphia) for a regular visit with our pediatric neurologist who had previously diagnosed her with a Sensory Integration Disorder but today decided a more accurate diagnosis would be to put her on the Autism Spectrum, like her brother.

We're essentially in shock. This shouldn't change her IEP or plan for the Pre-School Inclusion class next Fall but labels mean a lot, and we are just reeling from this change. It's not that we necessarily disagree; I guess we had just considered that Miranda wasn't as bad off as Alex since she didn't have ASD.

5. VBS starts on Monday and I'm actually starting to dread it. Alex was game for going to Citizen's Bank Ball Park last night for a special company picnic but he threw a tantrum all the way home in the car. VBS will take place at our church, where he loves to be, but it will be structured in a new way and for a much longer stretch of time. I'm planning to sit in a corner somewhere and wait for him to explode.

6. Some stitching progress:

At least I've made it to the bottom line of the pattern.

7. My mother's book, Bathsheba's Lament, continues to earn praises and recognition from among a growing number of readers. There is a great review of it on the International Christian Fiction Writers' blog that you must read! There is another awesome review of Bathsheba's Lament on LeAnne Hardy's blog. Read it here. Remember, if you haven't already ordered a copy, you will find it available here, or, if you are a local fan, you can purchase my last remaining copy of the book.

If you've read the book and enjoyed it, won't you please consider writing a review on Amazon for her? Click here.

Jen had her baby on Wednesday, so she's a little busy. Hallie is hosting today.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mid-Week Freak Out

So, my mother arrives tomorrow and instead of starting on the list of things that should be done, I'm lolling around with Miranda, waiting for Alex to come home from his last day of school, thinking about taking them to get their hair cut this afternoon. Why, you ask, am I so complacent?

Well, she is my mother (if you know her, you know how wonderful she is) and she will forgive me for a little bit of mess around the house. And last week, and this week have been rather exciting. I feel like Inigo in The Princess Bride:

Inigo Montoya: Let me 'splain.
Inigo Montoya: No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

  • Rather unexpected remodeling of Miranda's room on Sunday (more about that on Friday) which meant Marshall spent the day ripping out the carpet, the baseboards and the carpet tack strips, and then vacuuming up everything that was underneath. Ewww.
  • The people we had asked to create for us a real asphalt driveway (what we have now is mostly weeds a what's left of a driveway from, like, 1984) said, "We can start on Wednesday." Okay, then.
  • I am still the perpetual laundry machine and, for the first time in a long time, becoming weary of it.
  • Miranda can create a mess in a clean room in a few seconds flat, in the time it takes you to turn around and watch Alex run by in the other direction. "Helping" her clean up is rather like pulling teeth out of a mid-size shark. 
  • Remember, my mother arrives Wednesday, which means a trip to the airport with children in tow and then we're straight off to a birthday party for a dear friend. 
  • Marshall has needed to spend longer hours at work to finish up important things, which is fine because we like his job and want to keep it. It just means less help for me at home. But, considering all the work he did on Sunday, which was Father's Day, I am so grateful for all he does for us every day.
  • Remember that sinus infection, well, it's still healing. Which means my head will still feel like it's exploding every time I bend over to pick up after Little Miss Mess-A-Lot. 
  • And then there's the cross stitch that I should be spending every spare moment on so I can finish in time!
We're running on high anxiety here, which is only useful when it comes along with high adrenaline. 

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, has mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us. Please.

Friday, June 17, 2011

In the Land of Affliction (O, Lord, Have Mercy on Me)

1. These have to be actual Quick Takes because I don't have much time to write this morning, which is why I knew I should have written this yesterday, but I was too busy trying not to die! Both Marshall and I have sinus infections and, being parents and responsible adults, we can't lie in bed for a week to recover. No, a few hours here and there, and that's all we get. Ah, to be a young adult again with nothing to do but sit and watch Lord Peter Wimsey videos all day (which is what my mother and I used to do when I was home sick).

2. There was no lying about for me this week since we finally obtained from the pediatrician a diagnosis for Miranda's strange rash: scabies. Don't look it up unless you want to be completely creeped out. So, in the midst of my exploding head, I was washing everything in Miranda's drawers (which inconveniently lie under her bed and could thus be harboring nasties), all of her bedding for the umpteenth time, every stuffed animal in the house, and all of Alex's bedding for good measure. (He shows no sign of them but I wasn't going to be too careful.) I lost track of how many loads of laundry it was after 9 or 10. I can't wait to see the water bill.

We treated Miranda's skin with the prescribed cream on Monday night and washed it off Tuesday morning, per instructions, and are now waiting for all signs of the foul creatures to disappear. Lord, have mercy.

3. In the midst of all of this, my callas are blooming, which should be rather cheering, instead of just a "That's pretty" as I rush by them. Here's a few photos, by request of my mother:

And my hydrangea, that has been swallowing a swimming pool's worth of water for the last few weeks, is finally starting to pay me back in blooms:

4. We have yet to make it to the pool yet, because of weather and parental illness, so we have hopes of trying again this weekend. Starting next week, I think they'll be open on week days. So, twice this week the kids did the sprinkler instead, so here's another mud picture for you:

He is a darling boy and cleans up quite nicely.

5. I got the final pages of my cross stitch pattern from my father-in-law this week (he's been scanning and enlarging them for me so I can actually see well enough to work) and I have more left than I thought, so I have switched from the "Of course I'm going to finish before we leave for CA" to "AAAAAGGGHHHH! I have to stitch every possible moment!" Which doesn't help when you spend your evenings feeling horrible because your head is threatening to explode, so this week not much got done. But, still, it's progress:

6. Angry Birds just got ported to Chrome, which means that Alex, Marshall and I have been playing it incessantly on 3 different laptops. Here are my children playing before school yesterday:

Miranda wants to watch so she shoves him aside in the rocking chair to make room for herself. Silly woozles.

7. My mother's book, Bathsheba's Lament, continues to earn praises and recognition from among a growing number of readers. There is a great review of it on the International Christian Fiction Writers' blog that you must read! There is another awesome review of Bathsheba's Lament on LeAnne Hardy's blog. Read it here. Remember, if you haven't already ordered a copy, you will find it available here, or, if you are a local fan, you can purchase my last remaining copy of the book.

Bonus 8. I really should be cleaning the front room up because we have a fun wedding to attend this evening (in the midst of all this chaos and since almost all of my babysitters are in the wedding or otherwise attending, I'm breaking in a new one tonight--pray my children are good to him!) but I'm already weary from running around town this morning restocking the larder. I hate being sick because I lose a week and the To Do list is unforgiving. But Miranda is done with school Monday, Alex on Tuesday, and on Wednesday at noon my mother will arrive. Thank you, Lord, for your mercy.

And here's Jen. Who is having a baby on Wednesday. Lord, have mercy on her.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Notes from the Furnace

1. I was a little alarmed earlier in the week when I heard the weather forecast for Wednesday and Thursday: "Unbearable heat." So, yes, it is a little hot outside. Not Fresno in August hot, mind you, but close. I keep pouring pitcher after pitcher of water on my hydrangea bush and it still looks wilted. I'm a little obsessed with the blue-purple of the hydrangea blooms, which is feeding my watering compulsion. I think a colony of ants have built a swimming pool underneath it and are cheering every time they see me come with more water because they are diverting all that moisture for their own devices instead of letting my poor shrub drink.

I have burnt leaves

And floppy leaves

Of course, I also have beautiful callas just opening

Memo to myself for next summer: find a new flower to fall in love with that doesn't require as much water.

2. This is another Thursday afternoon post and I'm writing it now because it's too hot to clean the kitchen (somehow, I always promise to make Miranda a new batch of chocolate chip banana mini-muffins on the hottest day of the week, and the last ones just came out of the oven) and I don't want to do any of the myriad of other chores on my list of things to do. I'm sure I will spend tomorrow morning running all over town getting enough groceries to survive the weekend (I haven't made my errand list yet, but off the top of my head, I already know I need to stop at the bank, Costco, and JoAnne's) and I need to take Miranda back to the pediatrician tomorrow afternoon to make sure her ear infection has cleared up and have them take another look at her rash, which is making a resurgence and has worried her teacher enough to comment upon it. I plan to stop at Trader Joe's on the way home from there and stock up on Miranda's cookies and Marshall's new favorite salsa. But, I am no longer dreading my life like I was last week because...

3. My mother is coming! The Lord has answered my call for help and encouragement (or, at least, he got tired of the incessant whining) and is sending me the best kind of assistance. She has been invited to attend a creativity retreat at the "Bellfry," a retreat center in the Virginia mountains. So, she is flying here on the 22nd (the FIRST day of summer vacation), will spend June 26-July 1 on retreat, and then come back here to stay until her birthday, July 8.  The Lord is good to me, in spite of my bad attitude and casual parenting and action movie watching. And cross stitching when I should be playing with my children. Speaking of which...

4. I am making great progress. Depending on how difficult the last few pages are, I certainly expect to have this finished by the end of July.

Of course, I'm stitching in the afternoons as well as the evenings, but my children are being very considerate. Miranda will come and sit with me while I work, for a little while, or watch something on the bed with me, like...

5. Gnomeo and Juliet, which was a lot of fun. She enjoyed it for it's adventurousness and I liked it for the excellent (voice) actors and seeing yet another interesting adaptation of Shakespeare. Also, we did enjoy X-Men: First Class last weekend, but not as much as the rapturous critics, apparently. Although if all bad boys are like Michael Fassbender, I'm starting to see the appeal. And keeping with theme of watching the same actors in different roles, I also watched Wanted. Very violent, lots of bad language. But it is entertaining, after a fashion. And I finished Sea of Monsters and am looking forward to starting The Titan's Curse. I tried to watch this new mini-series called The Shadow Line, but I got bored enough after 3 episodes to delete the lot. Somehow, Chiwetel Ejiofor just doesn't have the charisma to hold up a story on his own, like Idris Elba (Luther) or Kenneth Branagh (Wallender). Or maybe it's just bad writing.

Together, Marshall and I made it through the first half of Inglourious Basterds (another film on Michael Fassbender's resume; I don't think I'm going to watch his Jane Eyre, though; I was never a fan of any of the Brontes) and were surprised by all the talking (in a Quentin Tarantino film). In fact, there is almost as much of the dialogue in French and German as there is in English. I'm not a big Tarantino fan (Pulp Fiction is on my list of "Movies I Hate the Most") and I tried to watch Kill Bill, Vol. 1, on Ebert's recommendation, but got bored and turned it off.

I don't know if we're going to try to see Super 8 this weekend. I may try to get a sitter for Saturday night.

6. Our old refrigerator, which has been sitting in the driveway for several weeks, should be picked up by the state's recycling program tomorrow, which will clear the way for us to schedule the paving people to come and dig us out a new driveway (no more weeding the driveway!) which will then clear the way for me to call the nursery nearby to get our regular load of mulch. The flowerbed is in desperate need. Of course, then we'll have a place for our children to ride bikes, so maybe we should buy them some.

7. My mother's book, Bathsheba's Lament, continues to earn praises and recognition from among a growing number of readers. There is a great review of it on the International Christian Fiction Writers' blog that you must read! There is another awesome review of Bathsheba's Lament on LeAnne Hardy's blog. Read it here. Remember, if you haven't already ordered a copy, you will find it available here, or, if you are a local fan, you can purchase my last remaining copy of the book.

Bonus 8. We have yet to make it to the pool. I was hoping to go this weekend, but scattered thunderstorms are in the forecast. Ah, dang.

If we don't make it to the pool, there's always the sprinkler, which for my children, means mud:

And here's Jen.

Friday, June 3, 2011

General Malaise (or, Come Whine With Me)

1. I am actually writing this post on Thursday afternoon because I had enough caffeine today that my brain is still fairly functional at almost 4 pm and the children need direct chaperonage in the living room while they're playing the Wii. Alex had a bad ride home from school because one of his schoolmates screamed all the way home (he is a sensitive dude and picks up on the emotional currents flowing around him) and Miranda is in the perfect mood to bug her brother. 

While Alex likes the play the Wii, he seems to spend more time creating Mii's, so many that we have to regularly throw a bunch of his creations away, in order to make more room for new ones. 

2. I have finally identified the source the of my malaise: summer vacation is imminent. Now, it doesn't officially start until June 22nd, but the number of new things we will be introducing to our regular schedule is enough to start my habitual panic. So, in order to distract myself from the incoming tsunami, I have been watching a host of brainless, action-heavy movies, which is a time-honored Boyle tradition. In fact, my favorite date activity with my father is still to watch James Bond movies. We started with The Living Daylights (in the theatre in 1987, which is probably why it's still one of my favorites), and while we haven't watched every single consecutive film together in the theatre, we did manage to see the last two together. Daniel Craig is awesome, although I am still fond of both Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton. 

(As an aside, if you are a Bond fan, you should also see the documentary Bond Girls Are Forever, hosted by Maryam d'Abo. It's excellent.)

On Sunday, I watched Am Number Four (mostly for Timothy Olyphant, but the chemistry between Alex Pettyfer and Dianna Agron was impressive). Yesterday, I watched Centurion; unfortunately, the director learned his craft in horror films, so the gore and language is rather over the top, but I wanted to introduce myself to Michael Fassbender and it's supposed to be a good companion piece to The Eagle, which I have all cued up to watch tonight. (Yes, like my weakness for Vin Diesel, I also have a fondness for Channing Tatum.)  I also have Taken to watch as well; I've been a fan of Liam Neeson since Nell. And then, on Saturday night, Marshall and I are going out to celebrate his birthday and see X-Men: First Class, which, so far, has excellent reviews

Friday morning update: I actually watched Taken last night instead of The Eagle. Adrenaline filled, yes, but it really strained believability past the breaking point. I liked Neeson much better in The A-Team

3. And what, pray tell, am I trying to distract myself from?
  • End of the school year: Alex, Miranda and I are all people who love having a regular schedule. Life is just so much happier when we know what to expect from day to day. 
  • Joining the local pool: We need to get into the habit of getting ready and driving over there in the afternoons. I need to get Alex tested to swim in the deep end and figure out what flotation device Miranda will tolerate using this year. Since each of them had ear infections last week, I was given a momentary reprieve. But, on Saturday, I should really take them over and start getting familiar with the Ramblewood Pool system.
  • VBS: We've never been able to attend it at our church due to scheduling and potty training issues but this year, we are all ready to join in on the fun. Supposedly. 
  • Alex starts summer school on July 5th, but Miranda, once again, did not qualify because she made so much progress during the school year. Last summer, Miranda was mad at me for (it seemed) the whole summer because Alex got on the bus every morning and she did not. I'm really hoping she is a happier camper this year.
  • And then there's our massive trip to San Diego in August. Long plane trips. Unfamiliar cars and house. Two (sweet) dogs, but Miranda is a little dog-phobic at present. Unusual sleeping arrangements. New food (well, probably not for Alex). I can't wait to spend time with my family and spend my afternoons lying around on my aunt's patio, watching my children enjoy her pool. But so many other things about our trip are uncertain.
I hate change. I hate new things. I hate uncertainty. I hate being the responsible adult. I would rather spend my summer reading, sleeping, and stitching. 

Of course, when I told Alex and Miranda's teachers my plans for the summer, they applauded me. I'm doing all the right Mommy things for my children. Opportunities for therapy and learning life skills. 

Hopefully, my attitude will improve. Or I'll just grit my teeth and move forward, regardless of my feelings. And watch lots of action movies. 

4. I finished listening to The Lightning Thief and have moved onto Sea of Monsters. I'm still not crazy about the narrator, but I will endure him to enjoy, once again, the adventures of Percy Jackson. I haven't gone back to Harry Potter, though, even though I really enjoyed listening to the first two books. The details of those novels seem to be burned into the pathways of my brain so well that even though it's been years since I read them and only read them all once, I don't seem to have forgotten much. So I should be fairly well prepared for the new movie in July, even if I haven't finished my survey.

And, Julia Quinn's new book came out on Tuesday, Just Like Heaven. I am off to Borders tomorrow morning to pick up my copy!

5. My DVR is rather full and I've only myself to blame. As I mentioned here, I have difficulty finishing things. Since I've been distressed about upcoming events, I haven't felt up to watching any of the following:
  • the season finale of Castle, even though I know what happens since I haven't been able to completely avoid spoilers;
  • the last 2 episodes of Hawaii-Five-0, which I was enjoying in a rather brainless fashion;
  • the last 2 episodes of Lie To Me, still, which has been canceled. To be fair, this last season was rather all over the place. When compared to something like Justified, which had an amazingly well-planned arc over all 13 episodes this year, Lie To Me was terribly uneven;
  •  the season finale of NCIS: LA, which I know is going to end in a cliff-hanger, and I hate cliff-hangers;
  • the last 6 episodes of Nikita, which I'm sure is also going to end in a cliff-hanger;
  • 30 episodes of Stargate: Universe. I liked the first 10 but then had to wait for the next ones and never got back to watching it;
  • the last 3 episodes of The Chicago Code, which was also canceled. And Jason Clarke is amazing in this. Oh, well;
  • the last 4 episodes of The Mentalist. Yes, I know what happens at the end; it's just going to be painful to watch.
  • and, finally, all of the new season of Doctor Who except for the opening episode, which, after Saturday night, will be 6 episodes. Part of the problem is finding a time when Marshall and I can watch these together. It may wait until vacation, like it did last year. And the year before. 
Perhaps a DVR with hundred of gigs of storage isn't the best thing for me. My hoarding impulses take over.

6.  I didn't get as much stitching done this week as I wanted, but here is the progress picture, nonetheless:

7. My mother's book, Bathsheba's Lament, continues to earn praises and recognition from among a growing number of readers. There is a great review of it on the International Christian Fiction Writers' blog that you must read! There is another awesome review of Bathsheba's Lament on LeAnne Hardy's blog. Read it here. Remember, if you haven't already ordered a copy, you will find it available here, or, if you are a local fan, you can purchase my last remaining copy of the book.

And here's Jen.