Sweetheart Tree

Posted on 9/30/2009 11:24:00 AM

I desperately wanted to carve Me + T here, but I restrained myself as it wasn't my tree.

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Some Pig

Posted on 9/29/2009 08:49:00 AM
(click to embiggen)

I looked closely for some other words like "terrific" or "radiant" or even "humble" in this web, but all I can see is "EEEEEmmm sideways W." Apparently, this spider doesn't spell so good.

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Happy Little Trees and Almighty Mountains

Posted on 9/28/2009 10:00:00 AM In:
I don't know how many of you even know who this is, but as a teenager on Saturday mornings, I used to turn on PBS and watch The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. I never knew very much about Bob, but personally, I liked to believe he was a burnt out ex-druggie who was there at Woodstock, protested the war in Washington, got arrested at the Democratic National Convention in '67, hung out on the corner of Haight and Ashbury during the Summer of Love, and sat at the Human Be-In -- sort of the Forest Gump of the hippie generation.

As it turns out Bob retired from the Air Force as a medical records technician. (What did we do without the Internet? How did we know anything at all?)

Having held military positions that required him to be, in his own words, "mean" and "tough," "the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work," Ross decided that if he ever moved on from the military, "it wasn't going to be that way any more," and "vowing never to scream again."


Bob's soft voice "Dab... dab... dab... let's just tap a little color in there," his positive affirmations "even a little tree needs a friend," stories about his pet squirrel Peapod, and the constant reminder that "in your world, there are no mistakes, you can create anything you want," had the ability to immediately relax me and make me believe that if I picked up a brush, I too could paint like that.... even though I'd never tried or been interested in oil painting in my life. If you have been prescribed beta-blockers for your high blood pressure and can't afford it, try watching Bob Ross. I swear it works better than any pill.

There are a ton of Bob Ross parodies on the interweb; all of them funny (well, not all of them). But this is my favorite because it's more of a tribute to him than a spoof. So I will share it with you.

A tribute to Bob Ross



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Lawn Whacking

Posted on 9/27/2009 05:18:00 AM
This year was the year I wanted to have a decent lawn in the back yard, so I hired some guys to mow the lawn a couple of times a month since we are woefully unreliable about doing it in any sort of regular fashion. I figured I could mow the lawn when it needed it in between the times they come, but if not, at least it would get taken care of every two weeks. The grass in the front of the house is spectacular, but you can see by the bare spots in this picture how well worth the money it was for the back. *sigh* Oh well, at least there are fewer weeds.

I hired these guys because they, as opposed to all the other companies I spoke to, said they have push mowers. You see, the only way to get from the front to the back yard is by this narrow little path around one side of our house. Big fancy lawn maintenance businesses generally have riding or standing mowers and they don't fit down this path. So I spoke with about three different people who wouldn't even take my business before I happened upon these guys who said they could get their equipment from the front yard to the back in order to mow back there.

It was only recently that I realized how they were mowing my entire lawn:


They don't have push mowers at all, they just have one very accommodating guy with a weed whacker.

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The Game That's Sweeping the Nation

Posted on 9/26/2009 04:06:00 PM

Go here to play. I dare you to do better at this than me.

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A Healthy Self-Esteem

Posted on 9/26/2009 08:02:00 AM
Me, walking into the nursery to get the Caterpillar out of her crib in the morning: "Good morning Caterpillar! Do you want to see someone?"

Caterpillar: "Yeah, yeah!"

Me: "Whom do you want to see?"

Caterpillar: "Dormouse!"

Me: "And...?"

Caterpillar: "Daddy!"

KoH coming in the room behind me: "Who is your favorite?"

Caterpillar: "Caterpillar!"

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Busted Flat in Blue Ball

Posted on 9/25/2009 11:08:00 AM
"According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a secret panel meets every week in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to go through applications for state vanity license plates to reject any that are considered sleazy or offensive. They wouldn't want anyone with a crude saying on their license plate driving through the town of Intercourse, Pennsylvania."
--Jay Leno

One of the most charming things about Southern Pennsylvania - especially the Lancaster County area - is all the unusual names of the townships. (Pennsylvanians are also fond of putting a structure on a hill and calling it "something Knob." Even FLW did it. The KingofHearts and I have a plan to purchase a hilly property in Pennsylvania some day and name it "Rhee Knob." I'll let you ponder on that one a bit.)

For example:



Or:


And possibly my favorite:


You can all get your mind out of the gutter (because everyone knows I can't) while I inform you that the name of the township comes from the historic Blue Ball Inn which stood in the city for more than two hundred years. Unfortunately, it was torn down in the 1990s. Ah. Progress.

Anyway, our sense of humor being what it is, I handed the camera to The KingofHearts while driving through Blue Ball, so he could take a photograph of this:


Because who doesn't need a picture of that, may I ask? No one! That's who!

As I was slowing the car and pulling over to the curb, I heard The KoH suck air through his teeth and yell, "Oh!... Wait... look out for the... don't hit the... Aaaaaah!"

Side note to young women currently considering a proposal from their beloved: The ability to finish a sentence in one pass is a character asset you might not consider mandatory now, but will gain increasing importance as years go by. Especially when that trait (or the lack thereof) is passed down to your children and you spend approximately one-quarter of your waking hours silently thinking, "WHAT?!?!" while WAITING FOR THE FREAKING POINT.

As I was frantically looking around for the small child that I assumed had run into the street and was now about to become a permanent part of my paint job, a loud "clang" finished his sentence for him and informed me that my right front tire had hit a large piece of steel that was covering a gap in the sidewalk and sticking about six inches into the road.

Yeah... that's what he was trying to warn me about.

Then we had a chance to get a real close up picture of the sign, because we all had to get out of the car and change the tire with the big gash in the sidewall.

The Caterpillar wanted to help, and I offered to do it, but I'm much slower at these things than he is and she is slower still (we're working on that - by three I expect her to be able to rotate my tires in under six minutes). So we deemed it better to take everyone for a walk instead. Because Getting Out of Blue Ball now seemed to have risen to the top of my priority list. (And there's a sentence I never imagined I'd write and publish in an open forum.)


So we left The KoH to change the tire all by himself.


As we walked away from this scene, The Dormouse exclaimed, "Finally, Daddy can have SOME PEACE!"

So let that be a lesson to you young men with that engagement ring burning a hole in your pocket right now. If you do not want your definition of "peace" to one day mean "changing a tire on the side of the a state highway," run, do not walk, to the jewelry store and get your money back. But if you're lucky, you'll find some young blushing bride who is willing to take the kids on a walk and will find this:

and will share your sense of humor and think it's funny enough to let you pose like this:

in front of it.

Moral of the story: Do not laugh a Blue Ball, Pennsylvania because Karma is a harsh mistress.

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Along Came a Spider

Posted on 9/24/2009 04:09:00 PM

We spent about five full minutes watching this spider watch us in Lancaster county. He'd wander around, look up at us, wander around some more, look up again. This is my Pioneer Woman Photography assignment for the day. Fall bokeh. I took this picture as he looked up at me shortly before he jumped onto my camera lens. That would have made a great picture, but I needed a much better lens.

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Big Al Knockoff

Posted on 9/24/2009 10:58:00 AM
Like just about every other kid place on the planet, Dutch Wonderland has it's share of animatronic creature bands singing badly recorded music. These girls sat transfixed.


It's no Country Bear Jamboree, but it's got a good beat and you can dance to it. It'll do.


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It's My Birthday, Where's My Cake?

Posted on 9/24/2009 06:58:00 AM
I started thinking about The Caterpillar's second birthday about a week before... or, more accurately, "Oh crap! What am I going to do for The Caterpillar's second birthday??!?" Our general rule is this: the first birthday is for the parents. It's a celebration of keeping them alive for a year and mom and dad deserve the accolades. We almost didn't make it with The Dormouse and had to rush her to the ER early one morning ten days before her first birthday. That's a story for another day, but it did make all that, "Hey, we kept her alive for a year, let's have a party," talk a little less appropriate.

For the second birthday, they pretty much have no concept of the occasion, but the parents are pretty much too tired by this time to be interested in any big celebration, but you should do something that will generate a lot of good pictures which you can show later on when they ask, "Mom, how did I celebrate my second birthday?" and you don't have to answer with, "Well,
I got a pedicure. I don't remember what YOU did."

So my brilliant brainstorm for The Caterpillar's second birthday was,

Da ta ta da.....


Dutch Wonderland - a kingdom for kids.

For those who aren't from this neck of the woods, Dutch Wonderland is a sweet little park in southern Pennsylvania that's been around for thirty years, at least. (Seriously, a guy standing in line behind me that day told me he was there when he was a kid and rode some of the exact same rides.) When The Dormouse was small, we were driving around one weekend and just happened across this place. It was perfect because we were on our way back from Hershey, where we had bypassed
Hershey Park after we looked and the ridiculous entry fee and the fact that The Dormouse, at age two, could ride on approximately two rides in the park.

Basically, Dutch Wonderland is a Six Flags for toddlers. Almost all of the rides in the park are ones that little kids can ride on - some by themselves and others with their parents. We thought this would be more interesting for her than any party, so we headed up to Dutch country bright and early that morning and that substituted for a party and cake.
The theme of the theme park is: Princess, Castle, Dragon.

You saw the castle. Here's the princess:


And meet the dragon.


The Dragon's name is Duke, by the way, although The Dormouse refuses to call him by his name. When she first met him at age two it went something like this:


"Monster?"

"No, baby, that's not a scary monster. That's a nice dragon. His name is Duke."

"I love you Monster. Moooooooonster, come back!"

"Guess we didn't have to worry about her being afraid of the monster."


Some people did have to worry however. As we stood in line to board the lagoon ride this time, The Dormouse asked why all these boats were coming back from the lagoon empty.


The KingofHearts kindly explained that these boats had taken people out on the lagoon ride and the Dragon had eaten them all. So the boats were being sent back to fill up with new people because the Dragon was still hungry. Just then I heard a loud sigh and looked up to see a woman standing in line with her two little boys in front of us. The boys had overheard The KoH's explanation and were panicking. "They were already scared," she said, "I was just trying to tell them everything was all right."


We muttered, "Sorry" and The KoH told the boys that he was just joking, but apparently they didn't buy it because a couple of seconds later the whole family got out of line for the ride and left, mom in a huff. In a related story, I have a brilliant new plan for making the wait for amusement park rides shorter.

Here's the full view of the lagoon. See? The Dragon is totally not scary at all.


However, just to the left of the frame I hear there is a turtle who loves to eat wussy boys.


Some of the less scary rides included, "Ride a Dump truck."


See how exciting?



And possibly the loudest ride in the park, the panda bears circling the beehive.


Let us pause here for an announcement from The Caterpillar.


"I believe for birthdays you are supposed to have cake. I see no cake here."

We couldn't scare
everyone out of line, so The Caterpillar entertained herself while waiting.


I'm pretty sure someone could just set up a bunch of stanchions and charge admission. I know at least a couple of girls who would be perfectly happy playing on those with no rides whatsoever.


This cute little ride seemed like a great idea until I put The Caterpillar on the train and then they handed me a big stick. Because apparently, they don't expect someone who is small enough to be able to ride the train, to have the physical dexterity to be able to propel the train. So moms and dads have to follow the train around with the stick and push it.


Which isn't so awful until the ten year old behind you who
can propel the train by herself keeps running into your heels with her train and then finally asks you in an exasperated voice, "Can you please Move. A. Little. FASTER???" And then you have to use every ounce of self control to keep from pushing that little girl backwards with your stick.

The one ride that The Caterpillar couldn't ride was the roller coaster. But The Dormouse could, and as we got there pretty early in the morning there was no line for the roller coaster. I was thrilled to send The Caterpillar off with Daddia and Gramma and teach The Dormouse one of my favorite theme park past times: riding the roller coaster, getting off and running hell bent for election back to the other side, and immediately getting on the roller coaster again. We rode in the front car. We rode in the back car. We rode in the middle. Then we discussed where the "best ride" was and went back once more to take that ride again. I also taught her that it is completely inappropriate to ride a roller coaster while holding onto the guard rail. The proper position is, of course, with arms in the air. Fortunately, my adrenaline gene was passed down to her and she loved every minute of it.


My other little adrenaline junkie tried to assume the position in more tame rides and threw her hands up in the air too.


Aw, this does my heart proud. As does the look on her face here:


Dutch Wonderland also has a water park section. Which we enjoyed until someone couldn't keep her teeth from chattering and had to take refuge in the sun.


So we went back to the non-water portion of the park and rode the carousel.


It was no roller coaster, that's for sure.


But eventually, you get the romantic notion of it and can enjoy the ride.


While you contemplate just what it is that makes those horsies go up and down.


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Grandma's Shamrocks

Posted on 9/23/2009 07:10:00 AM
I never knew my great grandmother, but as the stories go, she was fond of shamrocks. I always keep a pot or two of them growing in my house for this reason. It makes me feels somehow closer to her. These shamrocks have been growing in these pots for better part of the last ten years. They go out and hang from the porch in the summertime and during the winter, I bring them inside and they hang in the kitchen. The purple one especially likes the chilly air of the very early spring and I can put it out while it's still pretty nippy outside. One year, a sparrow made a nest in the middle of it's leaves and we watched baby birdies hatch that Spring through our front window. As a thank you for the show, we stopped using the front door so as not to disturb Mamma bird when we went in or out of the house. Every time I think these Shamrocks given up the ghost, I give them a little TLC and they come back with a vengeance. I generally manage to kill even the most easily kept of plants, but these guys, they keep going and going and going. I've often wondered if Grandma has anything to do with that.


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36 Little Piggies Went to Market

Posted on 9/22/2009 02:14:00 PM
These days one of The Caterpillar's favorite games is to come up to your feet, grab a toe and deliberately say, "Dis Pig-Gee" and then smack you on the thigh as she squeals "WEEEEWEEEWEEE WEEEEEEEEEEE!"

In lieu of a birthday cake for a two year old, we decided on a nice low maintenance cupcake that Monica found for me (I highly recommend getting someone to scour the web, so you don't have to but back off, she's mine). The Dormouse and I made them together for The Caterpillar's preschool class. And then in a startling moment of brilliance, I remembered that they don't allow homemade goods in her school only superior store enclosed goodies... just seconds after I sent The KingofHearts to the store to buy six packages of wafer cookies (they only come in chocolate/vanilla/pink packages so he had to buy three times as many to get enough pink ones) and made thirty six cupcakes.

They turned out cute.


But I've given them away to friends and family and I still have a herd of piggies sitting in the fridge. They are starting to haunt me.


And I think they may be plotting against me when I'm not looking.


Can someone
call "soo-eee" for me?



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Ook!

Posted on 9/22/2009 06:44:00 AM


We did this for about an hour, but the camera ran out of batteries. Which is good because I don't think there's enough room on the internet for all the things she showed me this day.

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The Card So Nice They Printed it Twice

Posted on 9/21/2009 02:05:00 PM
This weekend was The Caterpillar's second birthday and good stars in the sky, how did that sneak up on me so fast? I have not even had time to process the myriad conflicting emotions I have surrounding this auspicious occasion nor how often I've ordered her to stop growing, because I'm simply not ready yet. She seems to have little regard for my feelings in this area of concern and has begun using the toilet on a regular basis just to show me that I'm not the boss of her, no matter how often I protest. I'll have to do a recap of our weekend o' fun later, but in the meantime, she's been getting several lovely cards and gifts from friends and family. Every day when I bring the mail in, we sit down at the table to read them to her -- or rather, read them aloud to each other while she plays with the junk mail and yells at the kitties for looking at her stuff.

Two cards came in the mail last Thursday and I sat down and opened one while The Dormouse opened the other and asked if she could read it to The Caterpillar.

"Sure," I said absentmindedly, while I opened the card in my hand and began to read that one to myself.

what I read in my head: For you, 2 Year-old! All about Princesses. This princess looks pretty in pastel pink.

what I hear The Dormouse read: "For you, 2 Year-old! All about Princesses. This princess looks pretty in pastel pink."

what I think: Hmmm, there seems to be an echo in here.

reading on: And this one looks best in blue - but the princess who always looks perfect...

Dormouse continues: "And this one looks best in blue - but the princess who always looks perfect..."

I glance over and see that The Dormouse has a different card than the one I'm holding, so I think I just imagined it or possibly I'm suffering from kid-induced dementia and go back to my card.

reading: is the one and only you.

Dormouse: "is the one and only you."

me: OK, wait I know I didn't imagine that. "Lemme see that card honey."

She hands it to me and I put them side by side. They are definitely not the same card, at least not exactly the same. (click to embiggen)


I love that they're even both made by the same company, but seem to each be a part of two different brands within that company.


I still can't quite figure out the reason for buying different illustrations for each and I have this long elaborate story worked up in my head about how one card was focused group tested and deemed offensive to children with fine, frizzy hair but it was too late because the first thirty thousand were already at the printer. But maybe some executive just has a budding artist/illustrator daughter who wants to break into the business and they decided the foil embossed card was too much of a risk for her. Whatever, they're both adorable cards and The Caterpillar loves them and immediately snatched them both from us and began running around the room yelling "Pinciss! Pinciss!" So I guess she's didn't take any of it personally.

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Pick Up Sticks

Posted on 9/21/2009 06:44:00 AM

Last year for Christmas, Santa brought The Dormouse this game, which I thought would be a good thing for The KoH and I do with her. I always loved board games as a kid but never could convince anyone to play them with me. So I'm trying to set a precedent now where we spend some time to do that kind of thing together. But you can guess that a game with easily breakable plastic sticks and small choking hazard sized marbles probably isn't the best thing to get out and put on the floor while The Caterpillar runs around. I'll say it right now: Santa does not always think his presents through to their natural conclusion. So it's been up on a shelf, untouched, for several months.

However, The Caterpillar is getting old enough now that we can get out things like marbles and they don't immediately go in her mouth, and she sometimes sorta half listens when you tell her something, so I've felt more confident getting things like this out around her as long as she has supervision. The other night I thought this might be a good exercise for her to teach her to take turns (which is something she's not so good at right now.)

She managed to make it through one round of "Now it's Mommia's turn. Now it's Daddia's turn. Now it's Dormouse's turn. Now it's Caterpillar's turn." And we were pretty much all glad when it was over. Then we just let the girls play with the game however they wanted. With ended up being the game of, put everything inside the cup and then drop it on the floor. Then put everything inside the cup again. Which was really more fun than the game itself anyway.


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Italian Ice in an Orange Peel Cup

Posted on 9/20/2009 04:54:00 AM

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Dr. Caterpillar

Posted on 9/19/2009 07:05:00 AM
So, the other day I was down in the shop and I must have stepped on something metal which embedded itself in my foot. I'm barefoot a lot. (Shut up, I don't like shoes.) I grew up in the desert, running around barefoot on the blacktop when it was one hundred degrees in the shade and the bottoms of my feet are like leather anyway, so when that happens I usually just rub my foot on my shin and walk it off. But every once in awhile, something gets stuck in there just to prove to me that my feet aren't made of metal. And then I need some help to get it out. Because I'm just not flexible enough anymore to perform minor surgery on the bottom of my foot.

So one this particular occasion, I asked The KingofHearts to fix it out for me. So he got the tweezers and a pen knife and a flashlight and operated. This is to truly love someone. Some people marry for love, some for money, but I postulate that the real reason people stay in a relationship is to have another person available to scratch that itch you can't reach on your back and to take slivers out of awkward places.

Once the procedure was complete, The Caterpillar had to inspect his work.


But she wasn't quite satisfied with his treatment, so she took over.


Apparently, I had slivers in many other places on my foot of which I was not aware. She was happy to oblige.


This kind of work requires the utmost in concentration, as you can see.


And then, as any good CDC employee knows, you have to check family members for cross-exposure.


Because you never know when one of those slivers might jump from Mommia's foot to Daddia's.


But she told Daddy he was unharmed.


And then moved on to check The Dormouse, who was a bit trepidatious about the whole thing.


Gee, I wonder where she gets her interest in doctoring?

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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