Saturday, May 31, 2008

The birds and the bugs

This morning I noticed Mama Robin standing on the side of the nest and carefully watching whatever was going on inside. I thought we might be getting some hatching action, and I was right! Two down, 2 to go:

And in other news, the 17-year cicadas are crawling all over the place. There is an article in today's paper about them. We've been noticing them for the past week or so, but we've really started hearing them just in the past couple of days. Here's a rather blurry picture of one that I saw on our front sidewalk a few days ago:

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sex report

Aha! I thought that might get your attention (and heaven only knows what sort of Google traffic that title will bring). We just got back from seeing opening night of "Sex and the City" with a couple friends of ours. It was so good!

We wound up double-dating in a rather roundabout fashion. When I first saw the preview on TV about a month ago, I squealed and grabbed Fred's arm and announced, "Oh, we are so going to go see that on opening night!" He reacted with the enthusiasm one might normally reserve for, say, a trip to the DMV to renew one's license--not as bad as an unpleasant medical procedure, but not as much fun as a day at the beach either.

Then last week I saw my friend Angie at a party. She and I had gone together at Christmas to see "Sweeney Todd" and had a wonderful time. She came up to me at the party and shrieked, "Sex and the City! Next week!" And I shrieked back, "Hell, yes!"

Then I came home and told Fred that he was off the hook "Sex and the City"-wise, an announcement I expected would be greeted with some measure of relief. Instead, he looked all disappointed and said, "But I thought we were going to see that together!" So that is how I came to have 2 dates for the same movie and how we decided to invite Angie's husband along and make it a double date.

Fred and I have a long history with SATC. It was the reason we first subscribed to HBO when we moved to San Antonio. And when the last season corresponded with our first year in Germany--where HBO was unattainable--that was the show that prompted me to figure out how to download TV shows off the Internet.

Seeing it on the big screen was just incredible, like catching up with old friends. And it was such fun to watch it in a theater mostly filled with women. I haven't seen that kind of audience response to a film since the original Pokemon movie (and needless to say, the audience was way younger for that one). I know some reviews say it was too long, but from the first opening bars of the familiar theme to the final credits, I enjoyed every single minute.

No spoilers from me, but you can see the trailer here:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Do I look different?

I'm blogging at you from Panera on my brand-new Dell Inspiron 1520 laptop! Fred needed a computer of his own to take to the War College and I needed a new laptop because the old one is one step away from certain death, so last week we took the plunge and ordered his-and-hers 'puters. Economic stimulus indeed!

This morning I set them up side by side in my office and got them up and running. This afternoon I'm test-driving my newly rediscovered mobility by bringing it with me while I wait for Annabelle to be done with her play rehearsal.

So far my review is mostly favorable. With its 15-inch screen, it's bigger than my old laptop, but I think that will be a benefit in the long run as I use it for working away from home (like next week in Alabama). The biggest drawback is that new-car feeling--you know, the one where you love your new wheels but you're just waiting for some idiot to slam a grocery cart into it or for a bird to take a dump on it? I just carefully brushed a cat hair (how did a cat hair follow me to Panera?!) from its keyboard, which is kind of funny when you consider that the screen on my old computer looks like a Jackson Pollock painting--if Pollock chose dust and household grime as his medium.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

At last

Finally! The last day of school has come and gone, and now we can get down to the serious business of summer. My days will stay more or less the same except with hardly any meetings and NOBODY turning on the light at the crack of dawn to use my flatiron (I'm lookin' at YOU, Mike).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trip report

I didn't take a whole lot of photos while Annabelle and I were off on our minivacation, but I did manage to get a few on Saturday night when we went out to Lake Erie to watch the sunset.

Here are Annabelle and Katherine at the beach:

They sure have changed a lot since last summer:

They tried to catch the setting sun:

And here's one photo of just the sunset. I left it big in case you want to click to see all the birds:

Speaking of birds, I still have 4 eggs in the nest on my back porch. I think we might be getting some hatching action soon though! I saw Mama Bird standing on the side of the nest looking in a little while ago. Quick! Boil some water and tear up some sheets!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Are we there yet?

490 miles, 4 Broadway musicals, 2 stops at Starbucks, 1 stop for gas, and 1 detour through IKEA in Cincinnati, and we are HOME! We had a terrific weekend, but it feels great to be home again.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Another lovely day of vacation

We spent today hanging out in the sun and then went to Lake Erie to watch the sunset. I'll be back home tomorrow night, and we'll see how my pictures turned out.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Greetings from PA!

Hi, all! We're having a great time visiting with our friends. I just wanted to take advantage of a quiet moment to pop online and post a quick greeting here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Packing list

"Cabaret"? Check.
"Wicked"? Check.
"Lion King" (the musical, not the movie)? Check.
"Beauty and the Beast" (again musical, not movie)? Check.
"Sweeney Todd"? Check.
"Annie"? Check.
"Spamalot"? Check.
"Grease" (the new Broadway show with Max--we're Slacker Backers!)? Check.
"Les Miserables" (auf deutsch)? Check.
"Das Phantom der Oper" (obviously auf deutsch)? Check.
"Cats" (again with the deutsch)? Check.
"Little Shop of Horrors"? Check.
"Man of La Mancha"? Hmmm . . . decidedly not check. Must find this.
Carefully edited map showing Starbucks and IHOPs along the way? Check.
Assorted clothes and crap? Check.

Yep, it looks like Annabelle and I are just about ready for our roadtrip!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Busy, busy!

Today was a packed day. I spent the first 3 hours of it at the Toyota dealership waiting for them to replace my tie-rod (I have no clue what that might be). Then I zoomed home and zoomed immediately back out to the middle school for Annabelle's award ceremony. I had a couple hours downtime this afternoon and then went out to a farewell dinner for a friend of mine who is moving. On the way to the farewell, I stopped and bought a headboard I had found on Craigslist (goal for the summer: fix Mike's room so it isn't the pit that it currently is). Now I'm home again and packing for the weekend. Annabelle and I are heading up to Pennsylvania to visit her friend Katherine. We'll continue to blog every day, but it'll probably be short and sweet.

Have a happy and safe holiday weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Each bassoon having its big, fat say!

You might recall that I had wanted to go to Louisville last Thursday morning to see Annabelle's band perform at Kentucky Kingdom. I ultimately decided that driving in the rain while high on Vicodin was probably not a Good Idea, so I opted not to go. I was really bummed though because that was her first time playing the bassoon with the band. This morning one of the moms who did go on the trip sent me the following picture, which just totally makes my day:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Public service announcement

I hope this isn't cheating to post something Annabelle already posted on her blog, but I wanted to make sure that everybody got a chance to see her first try at animation. For a few days last week, she kept mentioning "this animation I want to do," and I just nodded and said uh huh and thought nothing more about it. Until I got home from Louisville on Saturday afternoon, and she said, "I'm almost done with my animation." And I looked at it. And it blew me away!

I'm at serious risk of becoming a Good Charlotte fan! (I've always been an Alicebelle fan.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Clearing my schedule

Fred got called back to work last night, and at first I thought about going to the farewell party for our friends by myself. I even drove by to make sure I knew where it was. But by the end of the day, my mouth starts to hurt, and I just wasn't in the mood to stand around chatting and of course I'm still in no condition to really eat (although I did just wolf down some scrambled eggs a little while ago and I swallowed most of a piece of pizza practically whole yesterday). Anyway, instead of going to the party, I came home, put on my PJs, and spent the evening working on my indexing project.

Then today Fred had to work again, so I decided to go up to Louisville just long enough to listen to the band perform at the competition (I thought they sounded great!). I bailed on going to Kentucky Kingdom, and I couldn't be happier about that.

Instead I spent some time this afternoon transferring the video of Annabelle's piano recital last night to my computer. She played Joana from "Sweeney Todd" and did a really great job! Hard to believe she just got started on the lessons last fall:

I don't think there's any hope of getting out of our pre-dawn drive to Lexington tomorrow, so I'm just going to take it extra-easy for the rest of today.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lots of moving, lots of shaking

Like the cake says, today was the 2008 Movers and Shakers Conference for Mike's Honors Literature/World History class. Each student chose a famous historical figure to study this year, and today was the day where they dressed as their subject and presented everything that they had learned. We had a great assortment of many interesting people such as these:

What is not commonly known about historical figures is that they did enjoy cranking that soulja boy:

Movers and shakers indeed! Nicely done, kids!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rain, rain, go away

Enough with this stupid weather already! I need some warm and sunny, and I need it NOW!!!!!

I feel amazingly better today, although my sleep is a little wonky--from the narcotics or the steroids, who knows? I woke up feeling FABULOUS at 3:30 this morning. Seriously good, like I would have gotten up and vacuumed or something except that it might wake everybody else up. So I stayed in bed instead and fell back asleep at around 4:30 and slept off and on until 7:30 (our room gets a lot of traffic in the mornings, so there's always something to wake me up). Oddly enough, I didn't feel as terrific at 7:30 as I did at 3:30. Not bad really, just not that fantabulous.

Today has been run, run, run. Fred and I had to go down to E'town to get my car from the garage. It needed a new starter and will be getting new tires soon. If there is a less sexy way to spend money than car repairs, I can't think of what that might be.

I had a school board meeting for most of the afternoon. I had the good sense to skip the board luncheon that we do every month, as I am not ready for solids and I doubted the luncheon fare would feature my basic 3 foods: chicken broth, tomato soup, and lime sherbet. Lime sherbet is a freakin' wonderfood!

Tonight is Mike's honors assembly at the high school. While it's always fun to go hear how terrific your kid is, I DREAD going back out in this horrendous weather. I've already granted Annabelle special dispensation from attending, as she spent the day slogging around Kentucky Kingdom with her band and changed into her PJs immediately upon returning home.

Tomorrow is Mike's historical petting zoo that I told you about a couple weeks ago. I have to get up at the crack of dawn to help Mike powder his hair and then lug all his Beethoven-related stuff over to the school. The show starts at 9, and I guess I'll be there most of the morning, as parents are invited to watch.

Tomorrow night is Annabelle's piano recital followed by a dinner in honor of some friends of ours who are leaving. (I hope they have chicken broth, tomato soup, and lime sherbet!)

Saturday Fred and I will be at Kentucky Kingdom all day with Mike's school band. I can't even begin to express how much I am not looking forward to this. Normally I wouldn't confess such a thing publicly for fear of hurting my child's feelings, but in this case the only person dreading it more than I am is the child who we're doing it for. So, whatever. Where does one get chicken broth, tomato soup, and lime sherbet at Kentucky Kingdom anyway?

And then on Sunday we have to be in Lexington, which is 100 miles from here, by 7 (that is SEVEN! in the MORNING!) for Mike's swim meet. Let's hope they have chicken broth, tomato soup, and lime sherbet at the concession stand.

So I guess it is really good that I am recovering as quickly as I am, although at least if I were feeling worse I could pass the weekend in yesterday's pleasantly stoned Vicodin condition. Hmmmmm . . . is that a twinge I feel?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Please send milkshakes

Well, I survived! All in all, it wasn't TOO horrible, but the local is starting to wear off, so maybe it's about to get horrible. I just took a Vicodin to ward off the horribleness. Crossing fingers . . .

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you

For the past few years--at least 10 years come to think of it--dentists have been urging me to take care of a pesky little area of gum recession that is over 3 of my teeth. I, however, am a tremendous wimp, so I have continued to live in denial instead of allowing somebody to cut a hunk of flesh from the top of my mouth and stitch it to my gum.

You know that old--OK, relatively new--saying about how hard work may pay off in the long run but procrastination pays off NOW? I think this is a classic illustration of that bit of wisdom. Over the years that I have been delaying this "procedure," the protocol has gotten easier and easier (or so they tell me in the glossy preoperative brochures). Rather than removing tissue from the roof of my mouth (OUCH!), the periodontist will simply "loosen" the gum tissue and then stuff in some sort of collagen matrix. Easy-peezy, right? Let's hope so.

I have been promised some good drugs, and I'm hoping I may lose a pound or 2 in the following days. I'm trying to reframe this in my head as kind of a spa vacation.

It would seem appropriate to end this post with a reminder about the importance of good oral hygiene, but unfortunately it wasn't sloppy habits that got me here. Instead it was my slightly obsessive-compulsive tendency to pick at any imperfection (squeezing blackheads and peeling sunburns are only 2 of my favorite things). It turns out that when you have something stuck between your teeth, you shouldn't use a seam ripper to remove it. Who knew?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Belated trip report

So . . . about that trip to Alabama weekend before last! We decided to go down so that Mike could attend a breaststroke clinic at Auburn. The instructor, Auburn alum and record setter Dave Denniston, was an enormously successful swimmer until a sledding accident robbed him of the use of his legs. Mike picked up a lot of great breaststroke tips and came away from the 2-day clinic eager to test his new knowledge in the upcoming swim season.

Fred and I joined Mike to hear Dave speak at the end of the first day. We had expected it to be a technical presentation on swimming, but instead Dave just shared his story with us. That alone was worth the price of the clinic! He's one inspirational dude--encouraging the kids to focus on the positive and worry about only the stuff they can control. He's also funny--speaking, for example, of his choice to shave his prematurely balding head ("if they can't play nice, NOBODY gets to play!").

Over the course of the weekend, Dave brought in several of his pals from the swimming world. The names meant nothing to me, but Mike was very excited and took a Sharpie with him the second day so that he could collect autographs on his camp t-shirt. He also had his picture taken with Dave, once in a normal pose and once doing the obligatory MySpace thing:

On Sunday after we dropped Mike off at the pool, Fred and Annabelle and I took off for Georgia to meet my invisible friend Dawn and her invisible daughter who is one of Annabelle's friends. (I refer to my Internet buddies as "invisible" until I've met them in real life.) We had a wonderful lunch and then cruised around Barnes and Noble browsing and chatting:

Sunday afternoon was beautiful (after a rainy Saturday), and after we picked Mike up from swim camp, we all went for a ride on Lake Martin in my father-in-law's new boat. Mike got to drive for a little while:

We had a great time and are looking forward to our next trip down in early June. Mike will be swimming his butt off at a 5-day swim camp at Auburn, but the rest of us are going to kick back and enjoy the lake.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Working like a mother

I spent a nice, quiet Mother's Day. My day started with blueberry pancakes and ended with barbecued chicken, and everything in between was fairly peaceful. I didn't have to go anywhere, which was wonderful, especially considering the cold, rainy, blustery weather that Just Won't Stop.

I worked on my freelance indexing project all morning, which probably doesn't sound very fun. I have had a real procrastination issue with this project, however, so it felt really good to get a lot done and finally see the end in sight.

I had hoped to get even more done this afternoon, but Mike was having some serious technical difficulties with the slideshow he was doing for extra credit for his language arts/history class. He had his music, all his pictures, his video, everything. But he was using 2 different video editing packages (Pinnacle's Studio and Window Movie Maker), and they were BOTH acting stupid. At one point with WMM, he was literally opening the software, making a couple changes, saving it, and then closing out the software and opening it again after it froze up and refused to budge. This happened over and over and over again! So I wound up spending more time than I had expected just helping him make the programs work. He had hoped to make it about a minute longer than what he wound up with, but by this point he was ready to just be done with it. It came out really nice (WARNING: It's a holocaust theme, although it's not especially graphic as far as that sort of thing goes):

I think I am going to finish off Mother's Day by having a nice soak in a hot tub. Here's wishing a happy Mother's Day to Mom and Grandma and all the other cool moms I know!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Driving my life away

I just got back from my fourth trip to Louisville in 3 days! Thursday I took Annabelle up there for her bassoon lesson. Yesterday I went with a friend to pick up some stuff for the baseball team and to make a Whole Foods run. This morning Annabelle and I went up to get our hair cut, have lunch, and do a little shopping. And then this afternoon, she and I and Fred went back up for a farewell party for some friends of ours. Very fun but exhausting!

Friday, May 09, 2008

New developments

This morning I took a little video clip of the babies through the door because they were just sitting there looking so darn cute. They didn't really do anything during that time though, so I'm not going to bother posting the video, but here is a still shot from the clip:

I'm glad I got it when I did, because I walked to the door a little while ago just in time to watch them both fly out of the nest and into the trees across the alley. Now I have empty nest syndrome:

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The daily birdie

A view from above:

This is a blurry picture from yesterday, but look! it's Mama Bird (or maybe Papa Bird--they're hard to tell apart):

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

And then there were two

Well, as it turns out, Tuesday's bird is NOT full of grace. Tuesday's bird is, instead, somewhat of a klutz. Every few hours today the poor little guy would wind up in the laundry basket underneath the nest, and I would go out and pop him back into the nest:

By this evening, however, he was strong enough that when I lifted him up to his family, he simply ran across their backs and dove out the other side of the lattice and dropped 7 feet or so to the hard pavement below.

I called the wildlife rehabilitator for advice, and she told me that in the wild (as in Not On My Back Porch) a robin would never be able to get a group of 4 babies to maturity. She suggested that I grab 2 and bring them to her.

You can see how crowded the nest was getting. As my friend Deana so poetically put it, it's like a "teacup full of condors":

The reduction was a lot less Sophie's Choice-ish than you might think. The basket bird was an obvious selection, and Fred just reached into the nest and grabbed the one that he could most successfully grab without disturbing everybody else. We took the 2 little guys to the rehabber, and she said they looked great. The nest sure seems a lot more comfortable now:

Monday, May 05, 2008

Monday's bird is fair of face

OK, actually Monday's bird is fair of butt. We got home this afternoon, and I couldn't wait to get a new shot of my babies, but they all had their little rear ends pointing in my direction:

I have the sweetest friends! Laura called me today to let me know that she had checked on the birds while she was feeding Eddie and that they are all fine. She also told me that my neighbor Tammy had been checking on them regularly and built an addition to their nest. Apparently little birds are starting to fall overboard with the quarters being so cramped, and she was concerned that Mama Bird didn't have a place to sit. So she built this cool new wing (ha ha, get it? "wing"?!) for their home:

Here the babies are enjoying some supper:

We got home about a half hour ago. We've got another hour to unpack and unwind and then we're taking off for the middle school for Annabelle's induction into Junior Beta Club.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Mini trip report

Greetings from Alabama! We've had a really nice visit. Mike had fun at his swim camp, and Annabelle, Fred, and I went to Georgia today to meet up with my previously invisible friend Dawn and her daughter. We're driving home tomorrow and have to get out of here early in order to be in Kentucky in time for Annabelle's induction ceremony into Junior Beta at 6. Give me a day or so to get my act together, and I'll post pictures.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Back to the future

OK, it's really Friday, but if this works the way it should and publishes as scheduled, you're reading it on Saturday. How weird is THAT? And what is it like in the future anyway? Do we have those little hovercrafts yet like on "The Jetsons"? With any luck, I'll be able to get on tonight (tomorrow night?) and tell you all about Mike's swim camp. But just in case, here's my blog post for today (tomorrow?).

Friday, May 02, 2008

Bye bye, birdies (until Monday)

I'm going to miss their sweet beaky faces while we're in Alabama this weekend:

This morning I got a brief video clip of them enjoying their breakfast:

That will have to tide you (and me) over until we return on Monday! (Mom and Jenny--and any other bird-worriers out there--I am putting a laundry basket lined with towels underneath the nest, and my neighbor Tammy will be checking on them daily.)

Happy birthday to youuuuuuuuuuuuu!

Today is Fred's birthday. We will be celebrating by driving to Alabama so that Mike can attend a swim clinic at Auburn this weekend. That's kind of a lame thing to do for one's birthday, but yesterday there was cake!

We had Fred's office over for an Anti-Law Day Picnic. I had this picture (one of the very few I have of Fred as a kid):

put on a cake (thanks, Walmart!):

He got a kick out of it:

Here he is blowing out the candles on the cake that has a picture of him blowing out the candles on a much older cake:

Happy birthday, Fred!

The final chapter of the trilogy

I give you "Beverly Hills" by Weezer:

Farewell, Fiesta Day 2008!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Outstanding musician

Tonight was the middle school band concert. Annabelle came home from school today reporting that her oboe was inexplicably flat so she would be playing her duet with her friend Kari on my old flute instead. I was in band for 5 years, and it never dawned on me to play more than 1 instrument. She, on the other hand, has gotten quite good on oboe, bassoon, flute, and piano--all since September and now she's teaching herself guitar.

Hmmm . . . think her band teacher knew what she was doing when she chose Annabelle to receive the award for Outstanding Musician for the seventh-grade band?

Here is the video for their duet:

Way to go, AB! (You really should go read her thoughts on the evening!)

School of rock: Part deux

Here is the second clip of Mike's performance yesterday:

That's "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne, but I like to drive Mike nuts by calling it "Crazy Bus," the earworm song that was so popular with the younger sister of cartoon aardvark Arthur. Just one of the simple joys in my life!

Bird report

Today's picture of the little cuties:


Morning: Clean house in preparation for Fred's office party here at the house
1300: Host said office party
1630: Annabelle to school for band concert
1700-1800: Attend said band concert
1830-2000: Annabelle to first rehearsal for summer theater show
2000-???: Pack for trip to Alabama tomorrow

Do you see "2100-2200: Take baby bird to wildlife rehabilitator"? Do you? No, you don't. But no sooner had we gotten home from the play rehearsal than a couple of girls from the neighborhood showed up on our doorstep with a naked baby robin that was tiny enough to fit in a teaspoon.

Thank heaven for Woodland Wildlife Rehabilitation! Monica Wilcox runs the program out of her home here in Radcliff, KY, and she has taken several orphaned birdies off my hands over the past couple of years. Tonight Fred, Annabelle, and I hopped in the car and took the latest foundling to her. She estimated that the little guy was a couple of days old. She fed him and popped him into a warmer with a bunch of other robins and a nest of baby bunnies and predicted that he should have a fairly good chance of making it. Let's hope so!

A trip to Woodland Wildlife Rehab is always an education. While we were there, we saw a kitten so young it still had the umbilical stump attached, and Annabelle got to hold a baby raccoon.

(I know I sound all grumpy about being the go-to Bird Lady here in my neighborhood. But I really would rather that the kids bring their foundlings to me so that I can get them to Monica--as well as a check, because wildlife rehabilitation does NOT come cheap and she relies on donations--rather than have the kids try to "help" the critters on their own.)

Is it true what they say?

Must you really fight for your right to party?

Yesterday was a HUGE day for Mike. He got to play 3 songs with the Army rock band when they performed for the school's annual Fiesta Day. That is just the first video clip with more to come plus photos!