She's From Venus

July 22, 2008

I think my daughter, Amanda is from outer space. I mean, I know "they" say, "women are from Venus," but it's got to be because there's some logic in it, right? Surely there are people where she comes from that speak her language, but I'm sad to report that I'm not one of them. I've tried...God knows I've tried, but it makes me physically weak sometimes trying to decipher what it is that she's talking about. Just trying to get her to answer a simple "yes" or "no" question can sometimes take hours! (OK, I exaggerate a little bit...) Getting a response to things that shouldn't even be difficult like, "do you want milk?" can cause me to hyperventilate.

Now, I realize that if I don't end my sentence with, "pick one: yes or no," I'm asking for trouble and it's clearly my own fault. I know I should know better, that's a rookie mistake. If I simply ask if she wants milk, I might get a story about how during lunch one time one of her friends ate all of her (DD's) cheese curls and tried to get her sandwich too, but she needed to tell a teacher so that she could get her to stop and then she got in trouble herself when she hollered for the teacher to come over, and didn't get to drink her milk at lunch. (I know! Wow, that's a long way to go to talk about milk!)

Meanwhile, back in reality, my arm that's been patiently holding the gallon jug of milk carefully over her glass and waiting for her response begins to tremble until finally, I either put it away or decide to go ahead and pour it (without being invited to do so), which inevitably ends in wails for orange juice because what she is trying to tell me in the first place is that she no longer enjoys milk, but I'm not listening. (Do you see what I have to go through?)

And it's not like she's too young to be able to articulate a proper response, either. She's going into third grade! She's just from Venus, and I only speak conversational, touristy Venusuvian.

Case in point: Last night, she came up to me - apparently after pilfering through my jewelry box - holding a pair of dangly silver earrings. "Mom, can I please have these?"

(Not even can I wear these, or can I borrow these, or even I love these, but straight to "can I have these")

ME: No. They're mine, they're dangly, (she's not allowed to wear danglies) and they're not real (they'll make your ears hurt they're not real gold).

HER: Well, you see, I have a lot of gold earrings, and I like gold, but only because it goes with orange. And yellow. And sometimes some brown and maybe red...but. I have always wanted silver earrings because I love silver and silver goes with everything, and I always wanted hoops anyway, but not dangly earrings, but I love these ones, though and I thought that since you never wear them I could have them, and because they make me feel cleanse.

ME: Hmm? Cleanse? Did you just say they make you feel cleanse? (she nodded in agreement). Amanda, honey, do you even know what cleanse means? (It's not even in the right tense for this sentence! Where are you pulling this from!)

HER: No, but I like the way it sounds. And I feel it.

ME: Well, OK then! (Who can argue with that logic?) But no, you still can't wear dangly earrings.

Homemade Antibacterial Lavender Surface Cleaner

July 12, 2008

Homemade cleaners are better for you, your family, the environment, and your pocketbook.  This particular cleaner is perfect for just about all messes, and it's antibacterial too.  The best part of all is how easy it is to make.

Prior to this cleaner, I had been using a simple 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water, but I wasn't satisfied with it for a couple of reasons. The smell was awful, and it took a long time to dry - even after wiping it off with a towel.

Armed with just a few common household ingredients, I created a spray cleaner that is perfect for surface cleansing. The ingredients kill bacteria, and the final product is superior to commercial cleaner (in my humble opinion).  It smells GREAT too! 

Give it a try - and be sure to check back here and let me know how you made out!

Antibacterial Lavender Surface Cleaner
2 Cups of warm water in a measuring cup
2 teaspoons of Dr. Bronner's liquid Lavender castile soap
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 teaspoons rubbing alcohol
8-10 drops of lavender essential oil - optional
Mix well, add to your favorite spray bottle.

Here are the reasons it works so well:
  • Dr. Bronner's contains essential oils that also kill bacteria
  • The vinegar also kills bacteria
  • The rubbing alcohol makes the solution evaporate quicker by reducing the surface tension of the water and it kills germs too!
I estimate that with one bottle of Dr. Bronner's, one bottle of vinegar, and one bottle of rubbing alcohol will cost roughly $7, and can yield approximately 40 bottles of prepared cleaner. That brings the per unit cost down to $0.18 per bottle, compared to $3 to $5 for a comparable commercial cleaner.

The best part of this cleaner is that you can change the castile soap you add, which changes the scent of the cleaner you make. Dr. Bronner's has some wonderful smelling soaps! My personal favorites (after lavender, of course) are the peppermint soap and the Almond soap.

Words heard on vacation...

July 8, 2008

Over the 4th of July holiday, I went to Colonial Williamsburg for 8 days with my BFF, my two children, and her two children. We spent a very exciting 8 days together, and along the way, we had a lot of fun laughing at the words our children came up with. Here is a list of some of what I heard:

Gillet: That thing that comes down and chops your head off (origin - my daughter, Amanda)

Telepathetic: is the ability to mentally control any function the brain controls, hearing other people's thoughts and sending thoughts directly to other people's minds. (Origin - BFF's #1 DD, Ashley)

Surfectent: A cross between disinfectant and surfactant...maybe it's a soapy germ killer.(origin: BFF)

"P"terodactyl - This was said with a non-silent "P". (Origin - my son, Ryan)

Intensification of the Super Fog - (Origin Williamsburg's ABC weatherman) OK...I know that intensification is a REAL word, but at 11:00 at night, it sounds downright funny! Intensification. HA! It still sounds funny. And the superfog that he was referring to, is a mixture of smoke and fog. Isn't that SMOG? How does he get to make up his own word for something that already exists. That's like me calling a FIRE a super hottie. Why. Why would anyone do this?

You're a blue-bellied SKINK.

June 5, 2008


Doesn't that title sound like the worst thing to call someone? Well, it's really not directed at anyone in particular. It's one of the things I got to play with recently. (Yup. that's my photo, too!) I went camping again this past weekend. This time with daughter and the Girl Scouts. Brought plenty of my own TP so I don't have a repeat of what happened last time, but I'm happy to say that I didn't even need it! That's the beauty part of camping with (only) girls. If we're in charge of planning it, we will make sure that life's little necessities are taken care of.

As one of the comments on one of my previous posts eluded to, I went camping....but I went kicking and screaming. Although I love to camp, and love the group I went with, it just wasn't a good time for me to be gone on a personal level. (Hey anonymous....I'm really sorry I was grouchy about camping. I hope you're not too mad.)

Camping with girls is a very different experience than camping with boys. For instance, boys will not stop poking or adding wood to the fire. No matter what you say, or how often...they are fixated on the fire. You only have to tell girls not to touch it, and they comply for the most part.

If you tell the boys where they'll be staying.....they sleep there. Girls want to change cabins, switch bunks, and move about freely, only to end back where they started (musical beds).

If the boys get irritated with one another, they're likely to throw a ball at some one's head or tussle - albeit briefly. Then it's over. With girls, drama will always ensue. "She's not my friend anymore...She said mean things about me". And no one can pout better or longer than a young girl. They just plainly have the market cornered in this area. It can be tiresome, but...I speak "girl" so I can relate very well to their struggles.

This trip was a good one. We stayed in screen-houses, slept on bunks, and ate in a screened in kitchen. We didn't "overbook" the activities, and we let them explore and be part of the chores in a meaningful way. They hunted the firewood, and cleaned latrines, and helped flip pancakes. The food was not only good, but it was simple to prepare. All in all, I'm glad I went, but it was tough to stop worrying about everything that's going on in the background (of my life).

One of the ways I was able to put my worries behind me was by watching the girls as they interacted with the local residents. There were dozens of toads in various sizes, a few salamanders, and many skinks. Most of the girls were pretty creeped out, but we had a healthy handful that were in it for the hunt. My daughter and my co-leaders daughters were leading this pack. There were more toads than there were hands, so they did as any girl would do, and they began loading up their "fanny packs" with toads. Mmmm! Toad pee and lip gloss. Now that's what little girls are really made of!

I cannot begin to describe how many times I had to say, "don't bring that toad into the cabin." Amanda wanted to keep hers as a pet, and kept sneaking it into her cabin so that she could do "obedience training" on it. Once it was properly trained, she could then (reluctantly) release it back into the wild, and if she encountered it again, it would run straight to her (because it loved her so).

She also officiated over several Toadie weddings. Imagine...a toad in each hand coming closer and closer to one another and then...SWAK! Sealed with a kiss! All the other toadies were surely jealous (haters). Always a toad-maid...never a toadie bride.

Happy Mother's Day

May 11, 2008



So much has happened over the last few weeks I hardly know where to begin! I guess I should start by saying, "Happy Mother's Day"! Of course, this is the (one) day that I get to sleep in, and being as it's currently 4:51 am, it looks like that's not happening for me this year. I just cannot sleep! My mind is racing and I keep thinking (obsessing) about all the things I need to do today.


Last weekend, I went camping at Delmarva's Cubscout Jamboree. It was a fun time, but it fell in a busy time period for me. The day before we were to leave...this is when I am frantically collecting the necessary gear and making lists of things we need to take...and at the end of the hall, I see my son is in his room struggling with a pair of blue jeans. He looks a bit like a commercial I've seen where a woman is trying to get into her jeans and is laying on the bed, twisting and kicking her legs up in the air. This catches my attention, so I stop to watch.


Him: AHHH! Mom, I HATE these jeans! The buttons don't work! They're broken! All my jeans are like this!

Instead of thinking to myself..."hmmm, we're leaving for camping in less than 24 hours, and only NOW are you telling me that you have no blue jeans to wear," I say: Really? Let me see what a broken button looks like. You say this has happened on ALL of your jeans?


As he thrusts the inside-out jeans into my hand and I fumble to right them, I see the button looks fine to me. Looking at him sideways, and carefully sizing him up, I ask: What exactly do you mean "doesn't work?" Do you mean that the buttons won't go together anymore?


Him: Yes!


Me: Well, they're not too small silly! That means they don't FIT!  I can't believe what I'm hearing, or why this is the first time I've heard it. I've seen him wearing these jeans every week since the beginning of the school year, and didn't realize they were too small for him. I look inside at the tag, and see SIZE 7.  Size 7? He wears a size 10! His little sister doesn't even wear a size 7!


Even though every single minute was accounted for between then and the time we needed to leave to go camping, I had to CREATE time to go to the store and get blue jeans. 

Moms are great like that. They can CREATE time.


So once more for every Mom out there: Happy Mother's Day!

TV's Ghost Hunters Investigate Fort Delaware aka Pea Patch Island

April 23, 2008

If you follow my blog, you know that back in March, I stayed overnight at Fort Mifflin with my son's cubscout pack. If you missed that one, you can read all about our adventure here.

One of the reasons that trip was so cool to me was Fort Mifflin was widely reported to be haunted, and TV's Ghost Hunters had been there a few weeks before us to do an investigation. It was aired on television a few days after we got back.

Ghost Hunters airs on the SciFi channel, Wednesday nights at 9 pm. It's a "reality based" program where the investigators go to places that are purported to be "haunted" and attempt to debunk reports of paranormal activity by finding plausible explanations for the claims. Often times they are successful in finding alternative explanations...sometimes, they cannot find plausible explanations. Other times, they encounter some pretty interesting stuff. All in all, it's a lot of fun to watch, whether you "believe" or not.

Last week, they were here in Delaware - on Pea Patch Island, investigating Fort Delaware. Fort Delaware is an incredible location for this type of investigation because of it's rich history. Construction of the fort began in 1819, and it was originally slated to be a garrison to defend against water attacks from the British, however, it became a prisoner of war facility that housed 33,000 prisoners by the time the Civil War ended. I've read conflicting reports that anywhere between 2,400 and 3,200 people died on the island.

This past weekend, I saw a group of people standing and cars parked on the grass right up against the Delaware City ferry launch as I passed by. After ascertaining what was going on, I decided to wait with the onlookers in the hopes of meeting the cast of Ghost Hunters.  As it turned out, however, they had been just been ferried over to the island and I missed them.

It was fully dark by this time (about 9pm) and they had the Fort all lit up. The kids and I went over to the water's edge and could see shadows being cast on the Fort's walls and flashlight beams cutting through the darkness on front side of the fort. To the left of the Fort, back where the bird estuary is located, incredibly bright beams of laser-like lights were casting light up to the night sky and back down to the island. It was really neat to see. We stayed about an hour - certainly way past bedtime for the children, but it was really exciting for all of us.

I'm not sure when this episode will air, but I'll be sure to keep everyone posted.

What did you say?

March 13, 2008

I finally got a little sleep last night. I went up a little after 7pm,
and other than waking up about dozens of times throughout the night, I
slept great. At least I felt like I slept last night when I had to get up
this morning. It's getting harder and harder for me to get up on time.

Yesterday, the children were given a few comic books. I sent them up to
"clean their room" (wink, wink - go ahead and check out your books). All
was quiet,  for a few uninterrupted minutes, which is a rarity.

About 15 minutes later, Ryan comes downstairs and to tell me that he shouldn't
be reading THAT comic book (The Hulk) because it has CUSSES all in it.

Me: What? I thought this was a kid's comic book. Lemme see that.  Show me a Cuss!
Him: Thumbing to a page that has been creased open (like he was really
looking at it).... Here! Here it is! Look at that! There are lots of them in here, too, Mom!

I looked down, and saw a bubble with the words: "&@!*#$%*". Seriously,
that's what it said. It's not even a WORD! I couldn't help but laugh at
that. Seeing an opportunity to make sure he knew both how cool I was and
what kind of behavior I expected from him, I took the book and held it out
to him while giving him a stern look.

Me: Listen. It's ok if you read this...but I don't want to hear you SAYING any of these words...do you understand me young man?

Excited that he was being "allowed" to read books with cusses in them, he
ran out of the room before I had a chance to change my mind yelling, "Okay
Mom". He had a huge grin on his face and he surely thought he was getting
away with something big.

The Stink

February 27, 2008

I wish someone had told me that it would kick in out of the blue one day with no warning whatsoever. I mean, really! Who knew? I expected this from a fifteen year old...or maybe even a thirteen year old....but not my ten year old. As I walked past my son, the other day I got a whiff of something really foul. And not the typical dirty kid kinda stinky, but more on the order of full blown man BO - but not quite. Ewwww, I said leaning into him to make sure he was the source.

ME: OMG - is that YOU stinking like that?
HIM: (leaning his own nose deep into his own armpit and sniffing heavily with a HUGE grin on his face) YEAH! Isn't it COOL!

My son was both excited and proud of the fact that he now officially smelled...bad. If someone had told me that I stunk when I was 10, I might have been insulted. Hell, I might have even cried! But here he was standing before me giggling like the child he was, excited about the man he is becoming.

Waiting for me to respond in some way, he gave me two thumbs up and reduced the grin to a half smile.

ME: (after waiting a full minute and dripping of sarcasm) Yeah...it's fabulous. Now...go get a shower! I have to go to the store to pick up some deodorant.

The rule of words

February 21, 2008

What's the rule of words? It's actually my grandmother's rule, and she taught it to me when I was probably around 8 years old. It goes like this:

"Never write down on paper what you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the newspaper".

I follow the rule still, and I write all the time. And obsess. These are my two specialties. I write as often as I can about everything I can, and obsess about everything and anything too. That's just how I roll.

So is it genetic? I write...my grandmother was also a writer, and was even published!  ( yeah...she obsessed too)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * **
So I went upstairs to tuck my 8 year old daughter into bed this evening, only to find her hunched over a journal writing in the dark. She found a journal that I bought for her last year, and was busily writing it's first entry.

Proudly, she handed it over, and asked me to read it. It was all about her and her life as it is now.

Looking back, I see that she has always been a writer too. Even before she could swing a full blown journal entry, she would write out lists just like her mommy. Only hers were just wavy lines on paper that she would refer back to and consult all day long. (OH - it's 2pm, I have a tantrum and then some pouting scheduled...I can fit you in a little after 4pm. I only have to smack my brother on the head and then I'm free...)

I'll have to explain the rule of words to her soon.

And so it begins...

February 13, 2008

OK, here it is...my first posting on my shiny new blog. Come on in, have a seat. Relax and enjoy yourself. I hope to see you back here often.
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