Move It Mama Monday! So How Many Plants Have I Killed?

I know, I know. I’m running late again. I apologize. The Hubster had a paper to write this weekend for a big important conference, so my little blogging adventures kind of got pushed to the side by a double helping of weekend child-rearing activities. It’s okay though. I’m here now.

Anyway, I thought I’d talk a little about Operation Kill A Lot Of Plants, since I haven’t mentioned it in a while. So far, most of the plants are doing… okay. Not terrific, but not dead. For some reason, a few of the plants had a delayed growth spurt and are only just now graduating from sproutling to actual plant. The vegetables we planted aren’t exactly producing a bumper crop, probably because I started the seeds so late. I have been told that next year I need to start my seeds in February, which leads me to wonder where the hell I’m going to keep all those tiny plants for the two plus months I’ll have to wait until we’re past the final frost (which I have been told is on Tax Day in April). I also may have not helped things by trying to make a homemade pesticide out of apple cider vinegar, dish soap and hot sauce. That recipe came out of a gardening book I have, and I thought it would help kill the leaf eating pests we’ve been having problems with. Well it did, but it also caused the plants to shrivel up and nearly die too.

In spite of my attempts at planticide, we do have a few ears of corn coming up, but the bugs got one and now the others seem to afraid to come out of their husks. We have the odd tiny green tomato and banana pepper hanging on the plant. The herbs have done the best, though for some reason my basil took forever to hit puberty (do plants do puberty? I dunno).

The best grower by far has been the beans we planted. I have no frikkin’ clue anymore what kind of beans we’ve planted, but they grew like weeds, trailing all around the tomato cages I set up around them. We harvested about 25 pods and got enough beans out of those to feed myself and both girls one serving of beans each. They turned purple when I boiled them (the beans, not the girls), and the girls thought that was a little too weird so yours truly is the only one who would eat them. For the record, if I die suddenly in the next few days, it was probably the beans.

The rest of the yard isn’t looking too bad, except for the one side where the Hubster planted a slew of creeping juniper a few years back. I hate creeping juniper. Weeds get in there and the only way to kill them is to reach into the prickly, scratchy branches of the juniper to pull them out. I tore up my arms good this past weekend and only managed to weed about a square foot. I’ve still got another twelve square feet or so to go. Joy!

But the flower garden in the side yard looks good, as does the small herb garden in the back, plus a few other odds and ends I’ve managed not to kill over the years. Here are a few photos I took a week or so ago.

Princess, standing by the towering Russian blue sage in the side flower garden. I’ve also got some calla lilies in there, plus some daisies, yarrow and button flowers and a few other things I can’t recall the names of.

The containers of herbs on the back deck. Note the delightful chalk art the kids drew for me!

Our vegetable container garden. The big bushy thing is the beans I ate that are probably going to kill me. And next to that is our stunted corn.

A mixed pot of sunflowers, colieosus, and marigolds. Probably the weirdest combination of plants ever thrown together, but they’re doing pretty good. Nothing’s blooming yet, of course…

This is not my garden. This is Norfolk Botanical Garden, about an hour from where I live. Norfolk Botanical Garden is gorgeous. I wish I could get my yard to look even a little bit like it. Yes, they teach gardening classes there. Would they help improve my black thumb? Probably not. Drives me crazy.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on with Operation Kill A Lot Of Plants. It’s not a roaring success, but we are getting outside and digging around in the dirt, and I consider that a sign of success, even if all we manage to grow is a bunch of purple beans that kill me.

Homemade Holidays

I’ve had a lousy week do to work issues, and I’m so fed up and frustrated that I can’t seem to stop snapping at my kids. I hate being the Grinch, so I decided to take a little time off from my obsessing about stuff that I can do absolutely nothing to fix and spend an evening just enjoying my girls instead. Cassie needed to make a Christmas ornament for her bus driver and Sam was in a pissy mood because Cass has all the good play jewelry and she wanted something new. So I broke out all my old beading stuff and this is what we made.

Cassie’s holiday ornament. She did most of this herself. I helped by bending the wires after she beaded them and then finishing things off by making the final loop for the hook. Otherwise, everything else is all her work.

Sam’s new necklace. I used memory wire, which holds its shape forever. That way I didn’t have to add a clasp to the ends or tie anything off. She can just slip it around her neck, but it still has an opening so the necklace will come off if it gets caught on anything. Sam picked out the beads and handed them to me. I did the stringing and finished off the ends with some needlenose pliers.

There was a lot of fussing and fighting over beads and who got Mommy’s help when, but all of that taught me a very important lesson. Doing any sort of craft thing with kids can be frustrating and stressful, but not nearly as frustrating and stressful as what some adults (who should know better) do to others. I’ll take my girls over most adults any day of the week.

So I Fell Off The Blogosphere…

I’m not even sure if I’ll get this entry written and posted, but I’ve been gone for more than two months, and I thought I should explain.
Hell with that. Explaining takes too long. Let me sum up.
My folks visited for the week of Halloween. Cassie refused to wear the Hermione Granger costume Grandma bought. Sam refused to wear anything.

I’ve been working like crazy on my podcast, Heat Flash. Several of the stories have shown up on the ERWA’s story galleries, so I know the writing is good. I wonder if the podcast is good too.
Sam, Cassie and I keep giving each other some sort of near-lethal upper-respiratory infection. I’m on antibiotics right now, and am so fed up with being sick I’m just blowing off the whole week. I’m doing the work I have to do, but have opted to skip going to karate and the gym and doing anything else. Did I mention that I have a pinched nerve in my neck as well?

I’ve decided getting up at 4AM in the morning is not feasible at this time. Yeah, I get a lot of work done, but it’s almost like being in an entirely different time zone from the rest of the family. Nobody else wakes up that early, and nobody else goes to bed as early as I need to in order to get up the next morning. So I haven’t been seeing Michael at all. Plus, with being sick so much, I’ve gotten out of the habit. I’m resetting my clock for a more reasonable time, still letting me get up early enough to work on the podcast before the kids wake up, but not so early that I might as well be in Englad, you know?

Michael cleaned the office over the garage, which means there’s now room enough for both of us in there. It looks very nice, and I am actually considering moving back in. The biggest problem I have with it though is that my computer in there runs on Windows 2000, and some of my software doesn’t work on an OS that old. So I need to update my OS. Plus, that computer doesn’t have a DVD drive, which means it can’t read any of the disks I’ve stored all my old files on. Michael is toying with the idea of building me a new computer. He bought a $100 case for $10 the other night. I only hope he doesn’t junk up the office again in the process. That would kind of defeat the purpose, you see.

Sam is running, playing, laughing, giggling, and dancing all the time. She climbs on everything, including the coffee table, and gets into everything, like Michael’s papers in the roll top desk. The roll top broke, with the top half disappearing into the back of the desk. We keep the bottom half down, but Sam has figured out how to pull out the chair, climb onto it, and reach over the remaining roll top to get Michael’s papers. Not good. Kid’s too damn clever for her own good.

Cassie is growing like a weed. In fact, I’d almost say she’s freakishly tall. She’s doing pretty good in preschool, and in karate class too. She keeps begging me to get her sparring gear so she can join the Power Kids class. So guess what she’s getting for Christmas? Don’t tell her though. I’m having a hard time imagining my freakishly tall four-year-old sparring with the older kids. My baby’s growing up so fast!

John turned 40 the other day. Ha ha! You’re older than dirt John! I just had to say that.

And I’ve got a ton of work to do. E-book covers, podcasting, stories to write, a book to outline, an image to finish up for a contest. Baby is screaming right now, so I’ll wrap this up.

Hope I don’t fall off the blogosphere again.

What A Lovely Family!


Ah, a peaceful moment from Father’s Day. Here you see my wonderful husband and two darling children. Aren’t they something? What you can’t see in this picture is that the youngest has trashed our Father’s Day picnic by stomping all over it. What you also can’t see is that later that day, the oldest child will throw a screaming temper tantrum. And my husband? Well, he will simply keep me up all night with his snoring. That never-ending, sleep-depriving snorting and grunting that ruins any chance I have of getting eight hours of… wait, what was I talking about? Oh yes, my lovely family. Here they are! Aren’t they something?

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Happy Birthday Samantha Ann!

Okay, so her birthday was actually Saturday, but we’ve sort of had a weekend-long celebration from which I am still recovering, and which I will now relate the details of here.

Rather than throw a big party like we did for Cassie’s first birthday, we opted for something different. Not because Sam is the second child and we’re slacking off, but mainly because 1) we have a diarrheic cat in the house that would give all new meaning to the term party-pooper, and 2) the usual suspects- er, party guests, were not in town this weekend. Both sets of grandparents were unable to attend this weekend’s celebrations, so Michael and I decided to keep things strictly between the four of us. Besides, we do not have $150 to rent a cat-poop free facility to hold a big bash.

Happily enough, there were plenty of activities to choose from this weekend to help celebrate Sam’s big day. In Hampton, thousands of people turned out for the annual Blackbeard Pirate Festival, while in Newport News one of the local Greek Orthodox churches held its Greek Fest. The plan was to hit the pirate fest first, as early as possible, then spend the late afternoon enjoying Greek food and music. We had to adjust the schedule when Sam fell asleep about 15 minutes before we were set to head out. She took a two hour nap which threw all our plans out of whack, but Michael said if the birthday girl wants to sleep, hey, it’s her day.

Cassie and I passed the time by baking a birthday cake from scratch. We even made the butter cream frosting! Once Sam woke up, we headed out for downtown Hampton to enjoy all sorts of pirate-y activities, only to be overwhelmed by a large assortment of inflatable kiddy attractions. You know the kind – big bloated canvas contraptions hooked up to an air-blower that the kids crawl into and then bounce around in until they’re ready to puke. Cassie loves these and she had to try out every one of them at the festival. Sam, of course, is still too little for such things, so we walked around a bit and looked at pirates while Michael watched Cassie leap about in puffed-up cage dubbed “The Moon Walk” (I swear, it looks like a professional wrestler’s nightmare and an orthopedist’s dream).

After a fifteen-minute tour of pirates and boats, Sam and I returned in time to see Cassie disappear into the mouth of a gargantuan caterpillar. Now as much as I dislike the Moon Walk, I hate the caterpillar even more. With the caterpillar, kids go in the mouth and get pooped out the other end. At least that’s the theory. The reality is that kids go in the mouth and run amok inside the stomach area, forgetting entirely that the rest of the family is outside waiting for them to come out. There are no windows in the caterpillar’s stomach area, so you can’t spot your kid inside, tap at the clear plastic and gesticulate wildly that it’s time to go. No, you’ve got to stand and wait at the ass-end of this thing and hope that eventually your child will tire of bouncing around inside a smelly, inflated bug and come out on their own. It’s either that or else you’ve got to pry open said caterpillar’s backside, stick your head in and scream until your child finally gets the idea that hey, Mom and Dad might want to move on. Fortunately, Michael did not take pictures of me with my head stuck up a caterpillar’s ass, though he had plenty of opportunity to do so.

After the inflatable caterpillar, there was the inflatable pirate ship. At least that one wasn’t completely enclosed and we could get Cassie out of it without too much yelling. We did have to drag her kicking and screaming to the docks to see the pirate ships and displays. Sam all the while just fussed in her stroller. I bought her fries to keep her happy. I never bought Cassie fries when she was little. In fact, I don’t think Cassie even so much as tasted a fry until Sam started eating them. Maybe I have slacked off with child number two. Or maybe I’ve just relaxed a bit. Yeah, we’ll go with the latter I think.

So we ate fries and looked at boats and pirates and then Cass decided she wanted to go play in the sandpit where kids could dig for buried treasure (who’s birthday was it again?). This would have been okay except that there was a puppet show in progress directly across the square from the sandpit and Cassie was too distracted by the puppets to do much digging so she wasn’t finding anything. After about ten minutes of watching Cassie stare vacantly at the puppet show while standing in sand up to her ankles (she flat out refused to leave the sandpit to watch it up close) I decided it was time to head out. Naturally Cassie howled as we dragged her off. In fact, she howled so much that I decided to give her another crack at digging for treasure – they were getting ready to re-seed the sand with loot when we left – and we took her back… only to watch as she stared vacantly at the puppets again while everyone else dug for treasure. I decided to let Michael take over at that point and I wandered off to nurse the birthday girl.

Michael the Ever-Patient Dad managed to coax Cassie into a little digging, so she eventually found two strands of beads and a cheap plastic pirate, and then even he was worn out with “treasure” hunting. So once again we dragged a screaming Cassie back to the car and headed off for Greek Fest.

Because we hit the Greek Fest late, we decided to go straight for the food lines. The Newport News Greek Fest has the best food and we all ate enough to choke a horse. At least three of us did. Cassie somehow manages to subsist on air and two-percent milk. I fed Sam, the baby with a hollow leg, some of my meal and then most of Cassie’s meal and then some of Michael’s meal until ol’ chubby cheeks decided flinging food was more fun than eating it. Then I took Cassie over to yet another display of inflatable kiddy attractions while Michael took Sam to buy Greek pastries and deserts. Two giant slide rides and a couple of moon-walks later, we coaxed Cassie back to the parking lot with promises of sweets, only to discover that we were completely blocked in.

We had made the mistake of parking in an unattended, unmarked lot and some fool had decided to park his big-ass truck smack in the middle of the only route in or out of the back half of the lot. So Michael headed back to the festival to see if someone could make an announcement about the truck blocking people in while I waited in our car with two very cranky kids. I lucked out and the people parked in front of us showed up five minutes later to leave, so I pulled through and spent the next five minutes warning folks off from the parking lot. I pissed off one guy when I pointed out that he had just triple-parked his vehicle and sandwiched another car in between his SUV and someone else’s van. Too bad. At least I was polite enough to let this idiot know he might want to move his car before someone else moved it for him.

Actually, he wasn’t the only idiot I ran into during our whirlwind birthday tour. At the inflatable caterpillar, I saw a woman pull out a toy gun and fire it at one of the plastic windows near the tail end. I had a heart attack when I caught sight of this out of the corner of my eye. At first look, all I could see was someone pointing a gun at an attraction full of kids, and my kid was in there. It took me two seconds to realize that she what she was pointing was a pirate-style pop-gun, but in those two seconds I almost leapt onto that woman and snapped her fool neck. Fortunately for her, I managed to restrain myself, but I did tell her in no uncertain terms that she needed to stop pointing a gun, even a toy gun, at the kids inside, otherwise someone might report her to the police. Did I over-react? Maybe, but see how you feel when you glimpse someone pointing what might be a deadly weapon in your kid’s direction. It’ll stop your heart, that’s for sure.

Anyway, after pirates and Greeks and stupid people, we made our final stop on Sam’s birthday tour – Rick and Cindy’s home. Cindy and I met when I was twelve and we’ve been best friends ever since. Cindy was pregnant with her daughter Izzie while I was pregnant with Sam, and the two girls were born ten days apart (Izzie is the elder baby). We arrived at Chateau Rindy with Greek deserts and greasy kids and spent the evening chatting, pulling the kids out of trouble, eating, pulling the kids out of even more trouble, watching TV, yelling at the kids to PLEASE STAY OUT OF TROUBLE SO WE CAN ENJOY A LITTLE ADULT CONVERSATION WITHOUT CONSTANTLY CHASING AFTER YOU, etc. Cassie watched three full episodes of live-action Sailor Moon. It was all in Japanese, with English sub-titles which Cassie can’t read yet, but she understood enough to know that for Halloween she wants to be a cat princess soldier girl with really long hair and a necklace. Wait till I explain that one to the great costume maker, a.k.a. Grandmama.

While Cassie drooled over a Japanese kids’ show (okay, I liked it too, even with the ridiculous costumes and ludicrous fight scenes), Sam just drooled. She drooled on Izzie’s toys, and on Rick and Cindy’s papers, and on Rick and Cindy’s cats. We had a little excitement when we put both babies in the play yard. Sam started to howl and I thought for sure we were going to have a little baby cage-match, with Izzie and Sam fighting it out for the best toys, but then I realized that Sam wanted Mommy, not toys. Actually, what Sam wanted was boobies, so we finally packed up and headed home.

Cassie was out cold when we pulled into our driveway. Sam woke up long enough to nurse then passed out again. Both kids slept through until about 6:30 AM this morning, and then we got up for our usual routine. While Michael was at church, I let Cassie decorate Sam’s birthday cake. She poured on every bottle of juju beads, candy glitter and sprinkles that we had. There is so much sugar on the top of that cake that you can stick your finger into it up to the second joint and still not touch the butter cream frosting. Made for lots of fun when we blew out the candle. Sprinkles and glitter went flying everywhere.

We opened Sam’s presents after lunch. She got lots of new outfits for the summer, plenty of books (Yertle the Turtle is sure to be a hit if I can get Sam to sit still long enough to read it), a set if piggy finger puppets, a cow with a giant computer chip in its butt that allows it to interact with an accompanying DVD, and two Little People play sets. Michael and I got Sam the Little People bi-lingual super-market and the Little People airplane. Fisher Price had a buy-one-get-one-free deal, and you can tell which set we got for free. There was practically no packaging on the super-market, whereas the airplane was secured with enough wire to set up a trans-Atlantic telegraph line. But the super-market is way cool, with a cart and lots of little items for sale and a refrigerated section and a talking cash register. Makes me want to run right out to our local Food Lion for a little grocery adventure.

The plane is pretty cool too, with a female pilot (how very PC) and a couple of touristas in Hawaiian shirts. If you press down on the pilot, the plane sings about how all the passengers go up and down as they ride on the plane, and when you roll it across the floor, the people really do go up and down. The last time I saw people bounce around like that on a plane, I was watching the very first episode of Lost. Perhaps I’ll call one Little Person Kate and name the other one Jack. Or should I go with Sawyer instead? Hmm…

Anyway, Sam loved the bows and the wrapping paper and Cassie loved playing with the toys. Our big girl got a few gifts as well from her grandparents and great aunt – books, clothes, and a plastic novelty cup with a light up ice cube. After gifts, we did cake. Sam, who will eat just about anything, decided she would rather fling cake than eat it, so most of her slice ended up on the carpet. Just enough ended up in her hair and clothes that I had to give her a second bath, after which I tried to put her down for another nap. But our new big girl was having none of that! So she ended up downstairs with Michael and Cassie while I snuck off to do some work. Dinner was a quiet affair, aside from a repeat performance of food flinging from Sam, followed by bath number three (perhaps I should just install a hose in the dining room?), and then a final nursing before bed.

I truly love those last moments of the evening, when Sam is just a limp bundle of sweet cuddly baby-doll in my arms. Her little head droops over my arm, exposing the neck I can otherwise never find beneath all those extra chins she has. And there’s always just a little breast milk drooling out of the corner of her mouth. She’s so relaxed and content, so warm and sweet. She was like that tonight when I put her in her crib. Then as I leaned over to kiss her good night, she startled and popped her head up, smashing me in the mouth with that rock-hard cranium of her. I’m not sure which one of us howled the loudest as I staggered from her room. Sam’s probably okay, but I think I swallowed one of my front teeth.

So that was Sam’s birthday weekend – two days of pirates, Greeks, idiots, presents, cake and minor injuries. What a way to celebrate my baby’s first year.


In honor of the big day, I’ve uploaded some photos to share. Yeah, I know, this is a first!

Okay Izzie. You go that way, I’ll head over the couch, and we’ll see if we can defeat these tyranical fascist adults and steal their sodas.

Are these for me? You shouldn’t have. Let’s open them right now!

Cassie: How do you like it Sam? I decorated it myself!

Sam: Really? I thought Martha Stewart did it!

And here’s a close up of the cake…

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Swimming With The Little Mermaid And Banana Boat Girl

Summer is here and we started taking the girls swimming. I’ve been taking Cassie to the YMCA pool on Wednesdays, where she is a big hit with all the life guards. They think she looks adorable in her swim costume. Yes, I said costume. Grandmama bought Cassie a purple Little Mermaid bathing suit, complete with terry cover up and wrap. She also has a set of Little Mermaid fins, hand paddles and face mask with goggles. All of this is done up in aqua, green and purple. Her floatation vest is not Disney themed, but it is the same shade of purple as her terry cover up, so it fits in quite nicely with the rest of the outfit.

Grandmama also bought an outfit for Sam. It’s a little red and white Minnie Mouse swimsuit with ruffles sewn around the butt. It also comes with a matching cover-up, but no fins and goggles. Sam’s too little for that. She does however, have a float. It’s a sort of yellow inner tube with an inflatable palm tree sticking up the back and a banana-shaped back rest. The tube has a seat in it with two little leg holes so Sam gets to dangle her little tootsies in the water as she leans over the front trying to drink straight from the pool.

Our neighborhood pool opened up this weekend, so Michael and I took the girls for a dip yesterday afternoon. I’m sure we looked quite the sight with the Little Mermaid and Banana Boat Girl. Cassie is finally tall enough this year that she can stand in the shallow end of the pool without drowning. With her little floatie vest, she can actually swim. She gets into the water and starts to paddle and kick like mad, splashing water everywhere as she screams, “Look Mommy! I can swim, I can swim!” Then she goes under for a few seconds until I drag her back up by the straps of her vest. She only sputters for a moment however before demanding that I let her go so she can swim some more.

Sam, meanwhile, floats along serenely, still trying to drink the pool water. She’ll actually stay in her float for a good long while before deciding to climb out of it to get herself a drink. She must really like the taste of chlorine.