Archive for September, 2009

Field trip

Today I accompanied Autumn on a field trip to a local farm.  It’s hard to believe I have a kid who’s old enough to be going on field trips, but there we were. On a field trip to a farm.

It wasn’t the first time I chaperoned a group of youngsters on a field trip.  When I was in high school my dad recruited me to join him on a class trip to Lansing and I held about as much authority with the middle schoolers back then as I did with the preschoolers today.  Which is to say not much.  Not much at all.

I took the camera with me, which was a good thing because I had something to do since my child was only mildly interested in spending time with me.  The first of many times she will prefer the company of her friends over mine, I’m sure.

But enough of my whining. Let’s get to the farm.

We started off with some pumpkin donuts and apple cider.
donuts and apple cider

After which we went on the hunt for some animals….

A horse! A wee one at that.

Sheep that have never been shorn. I heard they will be offering up their virgin wool come February. Well, at least someone will be enjoying that wool this winter if the sheep can’t.

Today was the first time I ever saw a goat on top of a shed. It wasn’t this guy, but I really wish I’d have gotten that picture.

Hay! That got everywhere!

Becca, our friendly tour guide. Out of all the pictures I took today, this is the one of my favorites simply because I was sitting on my ass on a flatbed full of hay and she happened to turn her head at the exact moment I took the shot.
Tractor lady w/ds

Each child was able to pick out their own pumpkin from the pumpkin patch. Even me.

I think we have about six pumpkins of varying sizes at home right now.

And last but not least, no trip to the farm would be complete without a barn cat.  Since my last post indicated I’m not much of a cat lover, you can plainly see I was in the minority today. This cat was the first thing the children saw when they got off the bus and we had to literally tear them away to see the rest of the farm.
kitty love

Trust me. There is a cat in there somewhere.

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Raising her right

This past Saturday was our absolute final day of visiting the farmer’s market.  Nathan had the itch to can some peaches and it didn’t go well.  He wound up making peach jam, which was tasty, but I think it’s safe to say we won’t be revisiting peaches again next year.

We picked up a bone for Molly while we were at the market and Autumn was excited to give it to the dog when we got home.  It was a small bone, the kind left over from a nice slab of meat and Autumn asked why we had bought it for Molly.  Yeah, why did we buy such a nice treat for a dog that has proven to be unworthy of such specialties?

“Because everyone likes a special treat now and again,” I said.  “It’s nice to do unexpected things for others.  Even Molly.”

“Even dogs?” asked Autumn.

“Yes, even dogs.”

“But not cats, right mama?”

Right on, sister.

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Heart breaker

Another picture from the teacher, and as she tells it:

“I held the camera for about 10 seconds waiting for her to smile- and it just wasn’t happening! She was in a very good mood too- I think she just wanted a glamour shot.”

Shit. We’re in for some trouble with this one, I think.

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Screening calls

A couple of months ago I got a new cell phone. I haven’t distributed the number to many people and thus haven’t been getting many calls, but a little while ago I receive a call from a number I didn’t recognize.

I Googled the number and found a thread debating on whether or not this was a courtesy call from Sprint (my carrier). Some said yay and others said nay.

This reply, however, had an entirely different take on where the number was coming from:

Watch out for this number. I confirmed with Sprint that it’s not their number, and they claim to not know who it is. After doing a little more research(my brother in law works for ATT), I found out that the calls actually originate in Pakistan. They ask for you number and pin and then use it to attempt to order a Palm Pre for members of the Taliban. Apparently the Palm Pre is very in demand with members of the Taliban, due to it’s revolutionary UI and ability to tether whilst riding a goat.

After refusing to give them my information on numerous occasions I was eventually taken off the list, however subsequently a religious fatwah calling for my death was issued. So it’s kind of a mixed bag.

While this was obviously written tongue-in-cheek, I’m still not thrilled about getting calls from telemarketers and/or phishing scammers ALREADY.

And what does it say about me that I’d actually like to see how someone would manage to talk on a Palm Pre whilst riding a goat?

It wouldn’t even have to be a member of the Taliban. Anyone with a goat and a Palm Pre would do.

And really, it wouldn’t even have to be a Pre. Just give me a dude with a goat and a cell phone. I’ll have the camera ready.

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Last night Nathan and I had dinner out.   It was just the two of us since my parents had picked Autumn up from school earlier in the day, so we were free to have a relaxing meal at the restaurant of our choice.  We picked Wendy’s.

As we sat down at our table, I couldn’t help but look back at the young man who had taken our order.  He was about 17 or 18, thin with brown hair and glasses.  He was sort of plain an unassuming, but I couldn’t help but think he looked really familiar.

After about the third time of noticing my glances over his shoulder, Nathan finally asked what had caught my attention.

“That kid up at the counter,” I said.  “He looks just like Harry Potter.”

Nathan shrugged.  “I guess he does. Sort of.”

I turned my attention to my salad, a little disappointed that Nathan did not share my enthusiasm for the Harry Potter doppelganger.  And so we sat, politely ignoring the double’s presence until I put my fork down and said, “I have to get a picture of him.”

“What?” said Nathan.

“I want to take a picture of that guy.”


“Because he looks just like Harry Potter,” I insisted, obviously leaving out the part about how I’m actually a crazy lady with a camera phone who has little respect for the personal boundaries of strangers.

I sat there for a few moments, chomping on my salad and calculating how to surreptitiously take the young man’s picture.

“Why don’t you just go up and ask him if you can take his picture?” asked Nathan.

“Because he looks enough like Harry Potter that he’s probably sick of people telling him he looks like Harry Potter,” I said.  And I also didn’t want to look like an idiot.

In the end, I chose to turn my camera on and put the phone up to my ear pretending to make a call.  I then wandered up towards the counter and turned to the left corner where the condiments were so I could take the shot.  Only the condiments weren’t in that corner.  The only thing in that corner was a line of high chairs and a bib dispenser, neither of which I needed.  Crap.  I quickly hit the button to take the picture, tore a bib from the dispenser and hustled back to my seat.

“Well?” asked Nathan.

“I took a picture of the wall,” I said.

Eventually Harry wandered out into the dining room to clean some tables.  I tried to follow him with my phone without being obvious that I was stalking him and missed my shot several times.

I had all but given up on the picture, and as we threw away our trash and walked towards the doors, I tried one last time by putting the phone up to my ear and engaging in a phantom conversation with nobody.

I kept the phone in position and hit the button several times.  Each shot yielded a breathtaking vista of the menu board and very little of young Potter.  Nathan stood patiently in front of me, obviously amused with my foolishness.  He kept his eye on the counter and when a shot presented itself, he told me to take it.

“Now!  Do it now!” he hissed

I pushed the button.

And this is what I got.


For the record, my parents had brought Autumn to this same Wendy’s earlier so I asked them if they didn’t think the guy behind the counter looked like a candidate for Hogwarts.

My dad said he did. Sort of.

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There was an e-mail from Autumn’s teacher waiting for me Monday morning when I got into the office.  I was told last week that her teacher, Miss Mary, would be performing an assessment of Autumn’s abilities since she’s been at the school for over three months now.  They use the results to see how she compares to other kids her age and to help develop their future lesson plans.

The e-mail from Miss Mary wasn’t about the assessment per se, but rather that she and her co-teacher have noticed exceptional growth in Autumn’s language development and that she seems to have a natural talent and passion for literacy.  Miss Mary asked if we had been doing anything different to spark such a leap in Autumn’s development and I could think of nothing.  We’re still reading as many stories as we always have and we’re still watching a little too much TV.

As someone who fancies herself a writer, I couldn’t be more thrilled to hear my kid has mad language skills and that she seems to come by them naturally.  As soon as I read that e-mail I started imagining myself as the mother of the next great novelist, journalist or editor and couldn’t help but issue a silent, yet effusive, SQUEE!

But then my neurotic voice piped up and suggested that maybe Miss Mary sent the e-mail as a preemptive strike before breaking some bad news.  You know, flatter the parents by telling them how great their kid is with language and then lower the whammy by telling them the rest of the assessment went horribly.  Let’s face it, when you’re born to a couple of dorks, you automatically enter the world with a handicap no amount of book smarts can overcome.

It turns out I have little to worry about because there are just a few things Autumn needs to work on.  I won’t get the full skinny on how things went until parent-teacher conferences on November 16th (Autumn’s birthday!), but Miss Mary assured me whatever Autumn needs to work on will be addressed in school and that I shouldn’t feel pressured to work on them at home.

What we will be working on is fueling her love of books and language. We’ll be starting weekly trips to the library where we may be able to find some Spanish versions of some of her favorite stories:

Buenos Noches, Luna

El Gato En El Sombrero

Jorge el Curioso

And really, how fun would it be to read Green Eggs and Ham to your kid in Spanish?

Me gustan mucho,
mucho, mucho,
los huevos verdes con jamon!
Gracias, gracias,
Juan Ramon!

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I had the best intentions of posting my gratitude every day, and while I do have many, many things for which I am grateful, I just don’t have enough stinkin’ time to write daily posts.

So we’ll just do the best we can throughout the rest of the challenge, okay?  No promises of posts every day or feelings of guilt for abandoning the blog for a week. Just live each day and express our gratitude any way we can.

Today I want to express my gratitude for the fall harvest. I’ve written about my canning escapades, which turned into a three-weekend canning extravaganza that culminated with my husband making five quarts of homemade pasta sauce all by himself.

Yeah, I know. He rocks.

This past weekend we also went apple picking at Crane Orchards in Fennville, Michigan.  It was their one and only weekend to pick Honey Crisp apples and we bought a bunch of them along with some Macs and a new breed of apple called the Blondee.  All of them are delicious.

Can you believe I have lived in Michigan all my life and this was the first time I’ve ever been apple picking? We really enjoyed ourselves and I think a new family tradition has been born, especially since it ended with fresh donuts and Crane’s apple cider.

I had my camera with me that day and snapped a few pictures at the orchard and the farmer’s market.  This was apparently our last trip to the market this year as the harvest season is now coming to a close.  I posted the photo set below, though if you’re an e-mail subscriber or perusing from a feed reader you may have to click through to actually see them.

And while I do wave goodbye to summer with a little bit of sadness, I also love this time of year.  The crisp, chilly air, the brilliant colors and coziness of making comfort food like soups and stews are all things that make this my favorite season.

There is a reason I named my daughter Autumn, you know.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer


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Here we are on day six of the Gratitude Challenge, and while I did say I was going to post every day, I suffered a minor gratitude fail yesterday by not posting at all.  It wasn’t intentional, but the day got away from me because I actually cooked dinner, washed the dishes and made eight mini loaves of chocolate chip zucchini bread.

The manicotti dish was a little more challenging than I thought it would be.  How does one fill a cooked manicotti shell without ripping the thing apart?  How do you even cook the manicotti without them falling apart in the pot? The recipe was a win win win with everyone, but presentation most surely would have elicited an ass chewing and a few f-bombs from Gordon Ramsay.

So anyway, considering yesterday’s oversight, you get a Gratitude twofer today and I’m going to start with one of the most hilarious tweets of all time. OF ALL TIME!


Is that not brilliant?  It combines the timeliness of Swayze’s death with the train-wreck douchebaggery of Kanye’s display at the MTV Video awards (Drunk? Ya think?) and spins it into something you might hear in an opening monologue on the Tonight Show.  The best part is that this came from a gal in Oklahoma who happens to be a good friend of mine.  She’s someone I’m grateful to have in my life so go follow her. She rocks!

The second bit of gratitude comes from being able to improvise this morning.  Improvisation is one of those skills you develop when you become a parent because you always have to be ready to turn things around when they go bad.  This morning things went bad when I spilled coffee on my white (why? why do I continue to wear white?) tank top and found out my Tide pen was empty.

In the grand scheme of things this was not an epic tragedy, but the stain was huge and right smack dab in the middle of my shirt where anyone who bothered to look at me would see it.  So I went to the bathroom and turned the thing around.  Voila! A clean canvass on which I can spill manicotti leftovers later.  It doesn’t even look like I’m wearing it backwards and the tag is gone so that I’m not getting scratched in the throat.

I still smell like coffee, though.  I love the smell of coffee, but the lingering scent of spilled coffee on clothing does nothing other than remind me that I will forever be that woman with the Tide pen in her purse who has to brush crumbs from her chest after every meal.

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An inconvenient truth

Yesterday morning I took a different route to Autumn’s school, hoping to make up for some lost time. It didn’t work at all, but Autumn made note of the different scenery and became very excited when we passed the practice fields at a local middle school.

“Look, mama! They play soccer there!” she exclaimed.

Ever the literal, I said, “Um actually I think they play football there, sweetie.”

“No, they play soccer,” she insisted.

“Ok, they play soccer.” Seriously, you just have to pick your arguments.

A minute later she piped up again. “Am I going to play soccer mama? After Christmas?”

I confirmed that yes, we will be putting her in soccer classes after Christmas.

“And after Christmas I get to see my friend…?”

“Cambry,” I said. “Her name is Cambry. We’re going all the way to Oklahoma to see Cambry and her mom and dad.”

“Does she have a brother or sister?”

Hmm. That’s an interesting question coming from her.

“No,” I said, “but she has a new puppy.”

“What’s the puppy’s name?” she asked.


“I like that name,” she said, “That’s a good name.”

“I think so, too.”


Then I thought, what the hell, I’m just going to go ahead and ask her but ask the question in a way that doesn’t seem like I’m offering something only to immediately take it away. I just needed to pick that nearly four year-old brain and see what she’s been thinking.

“Autumn, if you could have a brother or a sister, what would you want? A brother or a sister?”

“A girl,” she said.

“A sister then?”

“Yes, a girl.” She was very insistent. It was like, why would I want a boy around, woman? Just hand me the sister and be done with it.

Then I broke the news to her.

“Well, honey, I don’t think you’re going to have a sister.”

“But Raymond and Conner are,” she said.

“Yes, Raymond and Conner are going to get a little brother or sister because their mom is going to have another baby. Daddy and I aren’t going to have another baby.”


I titled the mirror down so I could see her face. It was blank as she stared out the window.

I know having a sibling and being a sibling are abstract concepts to her and that she really didn’t grasp what I was saying. Maybe four is too young to have this conversation, but I thought if I start telling her early enough and often enough that it will always be just the three of us, then she won’t feel the need to ask questions that don’t have easy answers.

I continued to steal glances at her in the mirror as she continued to silently stare out the window.

“So you won’t get a brother or sister,” I said, “but you will always be able to make lots and lots of friends.”

She smiled. “Yeah, I like my new friends.”

“I know you do, sweetie. I know.”

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Note: This is the fourth installment of my three-week daily Gratitude Challenge. If you’d like to catch up, you can start at the first post and read on from there

Last night Autumn did not go down very easily.  Some nights are like that and she repeatedly gets out of bed for one reason or another.  When she does this, I’m almost guaranteed to get attitude from her the next morning because she didn’t get enough sleep.

Imagine my surprise when I stepped into the kitchen this morning to make breakfast and found I had a little Autumn-sized shadow. She had gotten up on her own without any prompting from me and very politely asked for something to eat.  It was a very body snatcher-like moment.

Nathan was sick today, so Autumn’s great mood was a gift for which I am very grateful because I hate mornings in which I am solely responsible for getting her out the door.  The mornings when I desperately need her to cooperate are usually the mornings when she doesn’t cooperate at all, so today was an unexpected treat and I loved it.

If only every morning could be just like it.


I stopped at the store after work with Autumn in tow. My only goal was to pick up baking soda, but of course I wound up with baking soda, ice cream and two bottles of pop.

My first indication that things were not going to go well was when Autumn tossed her Pooh Bear into the dairy case. I asked her to stop throwing Pooh around and she claimed she couldn’t stop so I confiscated him and put him in my purse.

When I wouldn’t return him, Autumn plopped herself on the floor and wailed repeatedly while I waited in line at the checkout.

“Pooh Bear! I want my Pooh Bear back! Pooooh Beeaarrrr!”

First I tried to pick her up and reason with her. Then I tried to ignore her, but the more I heard


the more I couldn’t control my laughter. People around me were shooting dirty looks. The woman in front of me with the very docile-looking one year-old sucking on a paci looked at me with a pained expression.

“How old is she?” she asked.

“She’ll be four in November.”

And I could just see her mentally calculating how much time she has left before she’s the one pretending the child on the floor is not hers.

After we checked out and got back into the car, I explained to my daughter that her behavior was unacceptable and that she would be going to bed right after dinner.

So now I’m left feeling the victory of this morning was negated by the horrible grocery store tantrum.  However, I can at least be grateful for the extra hour and a half of peace and quiet we received when Autumn went to bed after dinner and immediately fell asleep.

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