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Archive for February, 2010

“Self Portrait In A Brass Switchplate”

“This is what you look like, Mommy,” Sue asserted, handing me the portrait.  And I have to admit I look happy but certifiable.


Something about the eyes is just not right, and in that vein, I have decided to spend some quality time photographing the myriad of light switch plates throughout my new house because I think they are overwhelming and affecting me in some deep existential way.

(In my old house I switched out all almond switch plates to a clean white…it helped me psychologically in such a great way…)

I’ll start with this one because it has a certain design flair.


Please note that the brownish gunk on the “knob” part is not smeared maple syrup but was present when we bought the house and appears to be some sort of tan nail polish or glue.

(Maybe it is varnish?)

This next one has baffled us to no end, but I must say is lovely with the wallpaper sheathing.


Note the care taken to swath the plate in the hot colors  for 1992.  According to the previous owner, this is some light-sensor time switch that cuts the outside lights on and off at appropriate times.  Since we have moved in, however, the lights have remained on 24 hours per day.

Nothing will turn them off.  We even took the batteries out of that white apparatus.


Now for this next one, you might wonder why I would include it.  I mean, everyone has switches like this in their home, right?


Let me first assert that the mathematical possibilities for the various lights and ceiling fans linked to this device appear to be endless.  Turn one switch one way and one section of a ceiling fan turns on with no lights; turn the switch the other way, and some florescent lights begin to shudder in a troubling manner but the fan goes off.  I have personally spent hours trying to understand the complexities of this switch to no avail.

Still, for design and aesthetics, the juxtaposition of the textured plastics and forthright colors makes a certain statement.

Ok, these next two need no commentary:


“Brass is back, baby!”

I have titled this one: “Self Portrait in a Brass Switchplate.”


Nothing trumps the simple beauty of wood:


Gracing Sue’s bathroom, we find this trifecta:


One controls a heat lamp, one a fan, and one a light that can be found, fascinatingly enough, INSIDE the shower.  (It has a plastic cover.)  You can imagine the types of things that happen when all three of these are left on…

My final offering can be found in the master bathroom:


It appears to control some sort of bathroom heat lamp on a timer.  Yet there is no heat lamp to be found in the master bath.  Perhaps it dually controls the heat lamp in Sue’s bathroom?

Do you have any ideas?

On a bigger note, what should I do?

Posted on 26 February '10 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 6 Comments.

What The Heck Wednesday




Posted on 24 February '10 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 9 Comments.

An Easy Decision

After a host of trying decisions involving homeschooling/public school, old house/new house, to pen a diagnosis on a child/to leave things vague, to try medication/to stick with homeopathy, one decision we had to make lately has been delightfully easy!

This is Sue.


She is four.

She goes to preschool now two days a week and loves it.

She colors inside the lines, writes her name neatly and packs her own backpack.


Every day as I greet her teacher, I hear the same words: “Great day!  Perfect behavior as always.”  And I smile to myself every day and say a prayer of thanksgiving because I know what it feels like to be the mother who is motioned to the side almost every day for a one-on-one conference about the days’ infractions and trials.


Sue is a “young four” which means she would be one of the youngest in her class if she attended kindergarten next year.

As I said, it was an easy decision.  She’ll go to Pre-K again next year.  That give me one more year of jammie days, Barbie jamborees, teddy bear tea parties and playdates.


An easy decision…

Posted on 19 February '10 by , under Faith is the Evidence, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 7 Comments.

A Pencil Sharpener Honesty Lesson


Since I enrolled Edward in social skills immersion public school during October, I have become accustomed to emails from his teachers which usually have subject lines like “A Situation Today,” or “Not sure how to handle this one please help,” or sometimes simply “Edward!”

(Eureka!   You see now why I haven’t blogged lately.  Not that I don’t have any content, per se, but that I haven’t yet built up the emotional stamina required to withstand all this teacher input!)

The latest one involves an award-winning titanium pencil sharpener, a pencil eraser and my second grader.

Apparently Edward approached his teacher with a concern that the pencil sharpener was “broken,” only to be corrected by a well-meaning (and honest) classmate who offered details regarding Edward’s attempts to sharpen the eraser end of the pencil to which Edward retorted something to the effect of “Silence!  Don’t speak about it!” obviously trying to hide the fact that he had indeed shoved the a$$ end of a Ticonderoga into a rather expensive sharpener that was naturally a gift from a classmate’s  attorney-father.


His explanation?  “I thought it would be interesting and entertaining.”

Sound familiar?

So cut to the Office Depot where we are purchasing a new titanium pencil sharpener for the class.  Edward locates the sharpener and approaches the counter where he carefully studies the box while waiting for other patrons to complete their purchases.

“Look–it says this sharpener is three times stronger than steel!” he muses, garnering the attention of the waiting patrons.

“Is that your personal experience with the sharpener?” I ask coyly.

“Uh, no……….ma’am,” he says looking up at me sheepishly.

And then he’s on.  People are looking, he’s got an audience and he is ready!

“This sharpener broke at my school so now I’m sellin’ my brand new Star Wars Lego Separatist Shuttle complete with Nute Gunray, Onaconda Farr and three Droids.  Sellin’ it to pay for the broken titanium sharpener,” he announces, a little too proudly, to the “audience.”

Yes you are, baby.

Yes you are.

Posted on 16 February '10 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany, Social Skills. 7 Comments.

Only Betty!


H’s great-grandmother was a baker of divine cakes–some homemade–but most, I am told, inspired by Betty Crocker.  She was known to taste a bite of someone else’s cake at a covered dish event and murmur under her breath, “Well, you can tell it’s not Betty!”

My own attempts at gluten-free cakes and cupcakes have been met with comments like “Sort of like quinine,” or “My…hmmm…can I get a glass of water?” or “It reminds me of unflavored corn pone.”  Usually Edward just licks off the frosting and leaves the cake for squirrels, much like this.


That’s why I got so excited a few weeks ago when the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free products showed up at my local grocery.  I made the cupcakes to prepare for Edward’s school Valentine’s party, and paired with some Whole Foods dye-free sugar sprinkles, they were decent.

As Edward explained, “The icing was great, the sprinkles pretty good and the cake is not that bad.”


While these cupcakes looked exactly like their gluten-infused counterparts, they were still dry and crumbly.  Betty’s fine, but we’ll keep looking for the PERFECT gluten-free cupcake!


Posted on 14 February '10 by , under GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews. 4 Comments.

Slushed In


Last night as we left OT, Edward’s eyes lit up as the snowflakes fell, ponderous and thick, drifting on the van and rendering it somewhat civilized.  By the time we got home, our deck and yard were covered in an inch, and by bedtime, three glorious inches transformed our yard into a veritable wonderland.

We even made a small snowman (complete with chocolate goldfish eyes and an organic carrot nose) in anticipation of the morning to come.

I was awakened this morning, however, by a blood-curdling scream.

“NOOOOOOOO!  Where is the SNOW????  Agghhhh!  I cannot take it people!”


In the cruelest weather trick, a cold rain reduced this glorious bounty to an alluvial slush-fan.

“We can’t even make Gatorade ‘icees’ out of it!”

(Or even hope to sled.)


(That sled cost me $20.00, I kid you not!  Snow-hope price gouging at its best!  Trouble is, I bought three of them!)

So now I am sitting here just listening to my three and their eight-year-old cousin…listening and typing verbatim:

“Edward, your head is BLOCKING!”

“I am the king and you two are my henchmen!”


“Stop it!  You’re being a Jack-Math!”    (Do you get this?  Is it a way to avoid saying Jack-A$$? Should I be worried?)

“What??? That is so cheap!”


“You know Mario and Luigi are brothers.”

“I don’t care if they are Siamese Twins.  I don’t care if they are Japanese Warriors.”


“No human shields, OK? No human shields allowed!”

“Edward, I mean seriously man….you ran ahead!”

“We’re in this together–we’re tryin’ to WIN!”

Always about the winning, isn’t it?

Posted on 9 February '10 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 7 Comments.

Hot Cross Recorder

“Thought I should let you know, I’m failing Recorder…the only one who can’t do ‘Hot Cross Buns.'”

My mind raced.  Recorder–some sort of online speed spelling bee? Yet another homework checklist organizer?

(I haven’t begun to discuss the adjustments we’ve made during our transformation from homeschooling to public school, but this is a grand example.)

Joseph continued, patiently, “When you achieve your goal, they tie a tiny white string to the end of it and then everyone knows you are a White Belt.”

I reel.  What are we tying a string to, and what’s this about a white belt because the last time I checked, nobody has done Karate since kindergarten.

“Mom,” he drones in that just-turned-ten kind of voice, “That blue plastic thing Grandad bought me from Target when he was trying to find all the school supplies because you hadn’t moved here yet.  That’s the recorder and we play it for music class.”

He continued to regale on the “fancy” Japanese recorders brandished by all classmates other than a suffering fellow called “Henry” who was left to languish with an older brother’s cast-off gray recorder which was, in Joseph’s astute estimation, “more cheap” than his own blue Target option and smelled of  apple sauce.

“Do you think it’s bad that I’m the only one in the Fourth Grade who can’t play ‘Hot Cross Buns?'” he asked, semi-concerned, “Because Mr. A told me today after I tried to play it that I needed a lot more practice.  I mean he said a lot more practice, Mom.”

“I didn’t even know you were playing any musical instruments at all.  How long have you been working on this recorder anyway?” I ask, the panic settling in.

“Eight weeks or so I guess.  Most people are on, like, song number 10, somethin’  ’bout some saints marching.”

This doesn’t sounds good.  This sounds like an “N” in music.

So cut to Friday afternoon.  See what I found in his backpack?



I am so proud of my white belt.

Now we are off to master “Merrily We Roll Along.”

Posted on 7 February '10 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 10 Comments.

Apologies and a Promise: “I’m No Poe Toaster…”


I was watching some random news channel the other night and learned of 50 or so lamenting Edgar Allen Poe fans waiting for a glimpse of the famed “Poe Toaster,” — a devoted Poe fan who faithfully, (and stealthily),  leaves a half bottle of cognac and three roses on Poe’s grave in the wee hours of his death day.

This year, however, toaster never showed.

Those poor, poor Poe fans.  What happened to the toaster?  Did sh/e pass?  Consume all the cognac?

Not that I can count 60 fans or anything but the story made me feel quite lousy.  That and all the emails from so many of you worried that I might have succumbed to some contagion or simply not survived the move…

I know it appears I am making light of the situation, but I truly feel horrible.  I have been a terrible friend to many of you and all I can say is that I am sorry and I hope you can forgive me.  I’ll be revealing more of what went on during the past five months and what God is teaching me through it once I have sorted it out a bit further.

In the meantime, I leave you with a sketchy timeline of a few momentous occurrences you have missed.

1.  We all lived with my brother and his new bride for three months where my children, naturally, relished  “sleepin’ like slaves” once again as they shared a bedroom with a cousin.  I slept on a couch downstairs and became addicted to Tylenol Cold PM.


Yes, that is a level holding up a mattress next to a train table in a makeshift fort bed.

2.  All six of us shared one bathroom with a leaky toilet that required us to wrap towels around the bottom to sop up the watery leakage.  Yes, I’d spray a little Clorox around there now and then because the whole thing squeemed me out considerably.

3.  Our puppy, Sophie, went into heat.  (Just imagine the questions and comments this created, such as “What is that red on her pull-up?” and “Look how popular Sophie has become since we moved!  She’s got so many other dogs coming to visit!”)


4.  My laptop crashed and I lost EVERYTHING!

5.  Since we now live in a town with grand restaurant variety, Edward has developed a love of the bento box!


6. We made an offer on a great cul-de-sac  house within walking distance to that school as well as nature preserves and libraries only to have the inspection come back with a promise of toxic black mold.

7. Valiantly I try to homeschool at my brother’s kitchen table but between the puppy heat, house hunting and general homeless craziness, I enroll the boys in an award-winning public school down the street from my brother’s house.  Believe me, it’s been interesting.

(I know I just lost all my homeschool readers…)

Yet I am now becoming fluent in IEPs, para-pros and peer helpers…

8.  We finally close on a house and move in on Halloween.

9.  Because nothing says Christmas like a Sasquatch cookie!


10.  Joseph writes an essay for school in which he laments, “I have always felt that something was missing from my life–something small and furry that I can cuddle and take care of.”   (Isn’t that why we got the puppy??)  Anyhoo, that painful cry resulted in Taco, a fragile, sickly creature who succumbed quite rapidly to some unknown ailment


only to be replaced by Fajita…

A  hearty, loud, messy creature who can kick potty pellets 12 feet across the room to the delight of Sophie (the dog) who views them as tasty nuggets of goodness.

11.  Before I moved I had this many friends:


But now, I have to start over, which is much, much harder than I thought it would be!

Thanks for sticking with me through all this!

Posted on 2 February '10 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 14 Comments.