Thursday, November 29, 2007

The easiest way to make a charitable donation EVER.

So we visited the hospital and saw Frankie's old tutor, and she told us about this web site. I researched it a little, and it really seems to be true. If you play this vocabulary game -- actually pretty good for any age, and fun if you are like me and enjoy words -- they donate 20 grains of rice to poor people for every word you get correct. You really should check it out. It's at -- click on the link (the freerice words, not the picture) and give it a shot.
I "beasted out" at the game, (as the kids would say,) averaging about a 43, peaking at about level 46. Frankie held his own at about 29. Let us know how you do!


I'm not feeling that good today, and yet I'm afraid to take a day off work. It's partially just that I'm too tired. It's partly that I miss being home and having the freedom that I used to have. It's partly just hearing bad news about things -- although none of the bad news really directly affects me, it does affect my mood.

So basically, blah.

At least it isn't Wednesday. The week is more than 1/2 over.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A retraction is clearly in order.


I looked out the window this morning and realized that I was totally premature when I called the peak leaf day last week. I thought that with the rain, all of the beautiful leaves would be falling soon after that day. I was so wrong. And I have to admit it.

This is the view through my kitchen window. Have you ever seen such beautiful leaves?

Yes, I know I have too many knick-knacks. The bottle doesn't actually have any wine in it, it is just a pretty color so I kept it. I have jelly jars in the window too -- but it's fake jelly, actually candles. I love the way they look when the light shines through them.

So Happy Fall, Y'all.
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Out the front door

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Women in Art

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You have to watch it. I was amazed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Christmas is breathing down the back of my neck.

I hate that feeling.

I'm not feeling that well today, I'm fighting a cold.

But I had a really nice weekend, and I saw several friends that I hadn't seen or hung out with in a while. I also went to a pleasant gathering with a few new people from my new job. I even tried something new -- Thai food -- which really is too spicy for me, thanks for asking. (I'm not the most bland person I know, but I guess I'm pretty close. I didn't order anything overly spicy -- it didn't actually say chili or curry, it had bell peppers and not spicy peppers -- but I couldn't eat it anyway. I enjoyed the new experience, anyway.) And I spent a few hours doing a food drive with the Boy Scouts, so that was something to feel good about.

All in all, a good weekend. But right now, I'm sitting here with a bit of a tickle in my throat and I'm getting a little uneasy about things like Christmas shopping and decorating and writing cards and baking cookies and cooking and planning and

I think I'm going to go lay down.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Peak Leaf Day in Iselin

In spite of the rain, and two weeks later than last year, I hereby pronounce today to be Peak Leaf day in Iselin!!!
The rain makes the sky a bit drabber, so the leaves might not pop out as nicely, but I really think if you look carefully at the trees you'll realize they don't get any better than this.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Back to Work (using trickery to wake up!)

It's silly, but it seems to be working.

After that lovely week off work, I'm back to the daily grind.

Starting at 7 is pretty painful. On the other hand, with the time change, my body is still kinda used to getting up even earlier.

So I set my alarm clock to ring 1/2 hour before it was ringing. I'm getting up at 5 now instead of 5:30.

You would think that an hour and a half would be enough time to get ready for work, but it wasn't. I was about 5 minutes late everyday, and I haven't had to scrape my car windows yet. So now I wake up at 5, but since the time change, it doesn't feel that bad. But the only way I can make myself get up that early, is by tricking myself into thinking it's the same time I WAS getting up. I always fall for that kind of trick in the morning.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Veteran's Day


Our troop was in the parade downtown in Woodbridge. We looked pretty good!
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Work or Play?
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Free Time

We're just finishing up the week off. Every November, the schools in our town close for a whole week. Many schools in New Jersey close up for this week. It's like a bonus vacation -- better than Christmas or Spring break because there is no major holiday attached, so no major holiday pressure or commitments.

We spent part of the week traveling, a bit of the seek straightening up the house, and most of the week "recreating" in one way or another.

I spend quite a bit of time thinking about the meaning of life. What is it all about? What makes life meaningful? Is it living in the daily, mundane tasks, with serenity? Is it excitement and fun, with travel and partying? Should I spend more time working or cleaning? Should Frank and I make more of an effort to be social? We seem to become less and less social with every year that goes by. Also, as the kids are getting older, I worry both that I spend too much time and energy on the kids and that I don't spend enough time and energy on the kids.

Sometimes I feel left out, out of the loop, like life is passing me by.

Sometimes I think about the harsh and brutal lives of primitive cultures -- like cavemen -- and I wonder, has the meaning of life changed over time? How amazing is it that our lives are made so much simpler and easier and longer by all of the things that technology and education has brought us? And how can I complain about my life?

I ran a few errands yesterday. I had to pick up bread and pick up the dry cleaning.

In the quickie mart, I said Hello to the three guys who are ALWAYS there. They are there at 6AM and they are there at 11 PM. They are there every single day of the week, and have been ever since they bought the store.

Then, at the dry cleaners, I said hello to the same lovely ladies who have been helping me for as long as I can remember. They sit at their sewing machines, working on alterations, and listening to a Christian radio station talk about God. They have been sitting there everytime I have walked in for at least the last 20 years.

I wonder if they have time to worry about the meaning of life? Or maybe they have already found it.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

It was a beautiful day in New Jersey


A perfect day for hiking, climbing and shooting!
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Venturing event...


Today, Nick and I went on our first Venturing activity -- a day trip to a camp in Northern New Jersey. The Venturing crew was allowed to shoot rifles and shotguns, and learned how to rock climb on rocks, not on a wall built to simulate rock climbing.

Nick just joined venturing. So far, I think he really likes it. I'm not surprised. It is a part of Boy Scouting, but it is different. It is more flexible, less oriented towards earning badges. It is more about doing the kind of adventurous stuff that the kids really want to do. Not to mention that it is only for the older kids -- 14 and up -- and girls are also invited. That has to help.

Nick declined to shoot; I don't think it is something he really is interested in too much. I shot the shotgun, though, and I think I hit the clay target. Well, maybe it was the other kid who was shooting who actually hit it.

Nick did make it up the mountain, and then repelled down. I decided against climbing. Just getting up to the cliff was hard enough... the cliff was located up a pretty steep hill. I had to skitch and slide down on my butt. I was a little petrified. Just a little.

Everyone had a great time. I think Venturing is going to be a really great opportunity...
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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

College Shopping

It is lovely in Massachusetts right now, which is where we went for the last few days, shopping for colleges. It is really early so there was no pressure to decide. We went to see one really big college (Northeastern University) and one really small college (Franklin Olin College of Engineering.)

Both have great, and I mean GREAT, programs, as far as I can see. Frankie would be lucky to go to either school. He'd be lucky to get into Northeastern because it costs way more than we can afford, and about 30,000 people apply and only 3,800 get in every year... and he'd be lucky to get into Olin because the kids that go there are even smarter than he is -- the average GPA for new freshmen is 4.0, and the average SAT scores are something like 2200.

He couldn't decide which one he would like more. He might not go to either. But it was an interesting place to start looking.

We were going to look at MIT, too, but decided not to because it was raining and we didn't feel like taking a tour in the rain. Besides that, he knows he does NOT want to go to MIT. Too much pressure, I guess. So why go look at it in the rain? We were going to go look just for the sake of looking at it -- kinda the same way you go to a museum or something.

Nick was dragged around to look at the colleges too. Maybe he'll have a better idea what he wants to do when it is his turn to decide. Or maybe not.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I miss Halloween

I miss having my kids little. There is a toy commercial out there with little blonde boys riding on a tonka truck. Reminds me so totally of Nick at age 1, scooting around on the little tykes race car. Makes me want to have another baby. Which is precisely why I had that operation all those years ago -- so I couldn't go back in a moment of weakness and have another baby on an impulse. When you're done, you're done, and you just have to accept it.

Yesterday, as soon as we got home from his blood test, Frankie was back out again with the car... he really feels like a big deal, I guess, being able to drive when and where he wants to. Nick had to wait for me to give him a ride to trick or treat with his friends. But it's not like they needed me to trick or treat with!

I didn't go to the Halloween parade at school, either. I barely got dressed up -- I dressed normally for work, and then wore my witchy shirt with just a regular pair of jeans, not even a hat or funky makeup, when I got home. How lame is that? And I didn't make gingerbread -- I couldn't find it in shoprite, for some reason -- and I didn't buy (or make) a pineapple upside down cake. Which is one of my personal traditions. Even though I am the only one who would be eating it. Which is why I didn't try too hard.

I only saw one group of trick-or-treaters -- but it was a good group; a bunch of my kiddies from aftercare stopped at our house. They looked adorable!

On the good side, I had a nice evening with my husband, and we went out for a good dinner with wine. And I finished off a book -- the Pilot's Wife, which was really interesting. So it was a good day.