Friday, July 30, 2010

Mommy’s Piggy Tales – 6th Grade

I’m participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales where I’ll be writing stories about my childhood once a week for 15 weeks, starting with birth and ending with graduation in the hopes that my children, and possibly my children’s children, will one day appreciate it.


Whenever I think about 6th grade, I remember three things:

1) My teacher’s name was also Diane, which I thought was pretty cool at the time

2) We did a report on constellations and I chose Cassiopeia

3) Mean girls

And #3 is really what I think of first every time.  My class had two girls whom I’d known for a while.  We’ll call them Jennifer and Jennifer (because those are their names). 

We’d never been best friends, but I’d never had any problems with them and had even been mildly friendly with one of them in previous years.  At some point during 6th grade, though, I became their target.  I have no idea why it started, I just remember them coming after me.

One day, in particular, I remember them harassing me, though I don’t remember what it was about.  I tried just leaving and went out into the hall (where our classroom computers were), but they followed me and kept picking at me.  I truly felt like I was under attack with nowhere to go. 

I don’t think the things they said to me were truly awful (neither of the girls were “bad” kids).  It was more like hurtful (relentless) teasing.  I could never figure out what I had done to them to warrant such treatment.  I understand now, though, that it was probably because I reacted so satisfyingly.  I’m sure it was very easy for them to hit a bulls eye and hurt me, which made them feel powerful.

Thankfully, they didn’t keep it up in 7th grade and I was never harassed to that degree by anyone else (well, except my best friend’s brother – he NEVER let up), but it taught me very well how mean people can be and, unfortunately, that stayed with me for a long time.

Now, I wonder how my girls, who are so much like me, will fare when they run into mean girls (or boys, for that matter) and I wonder what I can do to prepare them to navigate the badlands of adolescence.  It’s enough to keep a mother up at night!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mommy’s Piggy Tales – 5th Grade

I’m participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales where I’ll be writing stories about my childhood once a week for 15 weeks, starting with birth and ending with graduation in the hopes that my children, and possibly my children’s children, will one day appreciate it.


Like many kids, even now, 5th grade meant I was finally old enough to join band!   I don’t think there was every much question of what I would play: I was a girl – I wanted to play the flute!

Now I cringe at such a stereotypical choice, but it actually turned out to be a good one for me.  I will never forget (nor will my mom, I’m sure) the day we went to the music store to get my first flute.  It was a rental flute, but I didn’t care, it was mine!  We also bought a “learning to play the flute” book and I couldn’t wait to tear into it.

And, in fact, I didn’t wait.  When we were ready to go home, I climbed into the back of my mom’s red 1982 Mazda RX-7, pulled out the mouth piece, and started practicing my embouchure.  I blew and blew until I figured out just how to hold my lips to make a really nice (and shrill) sound.  Then, I put together the rest of the flute and proceeded to  learn “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.  By the time we’d driven the 40 minutes home, I had learned several songs and I was on my way.

I still can’t believe that my mom actually allowed this to happen.  I can’t stand shrill noises when I’m outside.  How did she ever stand to listen to a beginner flutist practice from the back of this (only in fire engine red):

RX7 1RX7 2

She’s definitely a better man than I.

However she managed it, I like to think she was rewarded in the end because I took to the flute like a natural and had a fair bit of success and enjoyment with it.  In fact, I even won my band’s Musician of the Year award that year.

So, just in case she hasn’t heard it enough: Thanks, Mom!

And now…I think I’ll go play my flute.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do You Coupon?


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the amount of money we spend each month on groceries and have been feeling slightly mortified.  Let’s just say, I’m not at the $50 per person, per month level that the Grocery Shrink is at.  Heck, I’d be ecstatic if I were only at twice that!

I used to try to use the grocery store inserts to determine what I’d buy for the week and I kept a price list so I’d know when good prices came up, but then I became a vegetarian and half those inserts became useless to me and I stopped.

While I’m no longer a vegetarian, we only buy humanely-raised meat (from our local butcher) and I’m trying to buy more organic produce, so we are buying some pretty expensive food and I had half-resigned myself to just spending a ton on groceries. 


Lately, though, I’ve been seeing lots of bloggers talking about saving money on groceries and this morning I saw a few links to couponing sites (Mrs. Money Saver and Madame Deals) and I started realizing that I buy a lot of things that aren’t produce or meat that could be potential money savers for me. 

After perusing the above sites for a few minutes, I found deals on some things that I actually needed (including $.25 for 24 packs of Crayola crayons at Fred Meyer/Krogers!  Run!  Run!!!), so I decided to take another stab at this coupon thing.

I ran down to my recycle bin and grabbed the grocery store inserts and clipped out a few coupons for things that I actually use and wrote down a few more in-store deals that looked good.  These deals were, of course, at three different grocery stores, but I figured “what the heck” – I’d give it a try.

coupon organizer

This afternoon, I dragged Thing 1 and Thing 2 to these different stores and it actually went very smoothly.  But the best part was I saved $22 with my coupons alone (plus another $20 on the Fred Meyer crayons deal and whatever my various membership cards would have saved me anyway).

The thing that has always bothered me about coupons is that you often tend to buy things you wouldn’t have bought otherwise – just because they seem like a good deal.  Today, I made sure that I only purchased things I knew I would use (paper towels, spaghetti sauce, cake mixes), so I feel pretty good that those $22 were actual savings.


I also think I could probably have skipped going to Albertsons AND Safeway.  It seemed like my Safeway (my go-to store) had all the deals (or extremely similar deals) that I went specifically to Albertsons for.  So, I’m going to give couponing another go next week.  Maybe if I just take it one week at a time, I’ll actually be able to make some progress!

What about you?  How do you save money on groceries?

I Won! I Won!

Just wanted to quickly drop in to let you all know that I won the blog re-design over at Uniquehorn Designs!  I’m so excited.  I think this is the first time I’ve ever won anything!

Pepper’s got a waiting list, so I’ll have to wait a bit, but I’ve already been given a homework assignment to start honing in on what I want my site to look like, so I’ll have to get to work on that!

Thanks to you who added your votes for me.  It’s much appreciated!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Our Arbors


Two years ago, I was regularly searching Craigslist for a big wood swing set for our backyard (well, for our kids really, but it would go in our backyard), but I could never find anything that I liked for what I felt was a reasonable price.

Around the same time, we had someone come in and help us draw up a planting plan for our backyard.  In the plan, she suggested we build two arbors: one for our BBQ area and one that we could turn into a swing set.  I immediately fell in love with this idea.  Especially with the fact that, once the kids were done with the swing set, we’d still have a beautiful arbor!

So, one fine weekend, we trekked to Lowe’s and bought ourselves a ton of wood and a post hole digger.  The holes for the BBQ arbor were a piece of cake to dig (in fact, I dug them all myself), but the 8 holes for the swing set were so NOT!  It took us (mostly my husband) hours and hours in the hot sun to dig those holes. 

Finally, though, the holes were ready and we started placing the beams.  We tried to be so careful to make sure they were lined up and square, but we were constantly foiled.  At one point, one of the posts in the long arbor ended up just an inch or so off from the one next to it.  Didn’t seem like a big deal until you continue that out another 18 feet and that one inch offset quickly becomes something like 4 inches.  My husband ended up digging up that post (which was already set in concrete), just so we could move it over an inch.

DSC_2198 (There’s the offending post in the back, right)

Finally, all the holes were dug and it was time to cut the notches for the horizontal supports (two years ago, I knew all the terms for these, but I no longer remember).  We started cutting them with a circular saw and a ladder, but the circular saw eventually had to go home and the posts sat there, with half of them cut for about a month.

Eventually, I got enough motivation to have at it again, but this time, I went out and bought a rip saw.  We’d tried using our cross-cut saw to saw down the length of the post and that just does NOT work.  The rip saw was a dream, though.  I had the remaining notches cut within a half an hour.  Guess it’s true what they say about the right tool for the job.

Once those notches were cut, we were able to finish the rest of it fairly quickly.  We were able to cut the notches for the cross pieces (again, can’t remember the name!) several at a time on our table saw and up they went, lickety split!

We’ve planted Wisteria on each side of them and the blackberry bushes are helping to cover one of them and they look really lovely (sure maybe the BBQ’s not so pretty, but you get the idea).


The next step was to figure out how to attach swings to the arbor’s cross pieces.  A friend of mine came to the rescue and fashioned brackets that wrapped around the wood out of bits of metal and up the swings went.

The first time I saw the kids swinging on them, I freaked out a bit because the whole structure sways with them.  It took me a while (say, several summers) to get used to the idea and to realize that that thing is really safe! 


The next summer, we added on a platform with stairs and a slide, which made our play structure complete.  The kids love to climb all over it now and have picnics on the platform on sunny days.


I love how it’s a beautiful, permanent structure in our yard – much prettier than a standard play set.  And, when the kids are done swinging, we’ll take them and the platform down and maybe put a swinging bench in the middle instead.



I’m linking this up to:


Monday, July 19, 2010

How I Spent My Saturday – 7/17/2010

Hi all!  Hope you had a fantastic weekend!  We were very busy campers here.

Saturday morning, we were greeted by this site in our driveway:


7 yards of Compost Grove mulch mix!

Since the delivery man was so nice as to dump it right-smack-dab in the middle of our driveway, we had to get this pile moved pretty quickly, so we got to work doing this:


and this:


Until finally it was all gone.  I’m so happy to have this done, but the best part is that, in order to get the mulch into the back yard, we had to take it through the side gate – a place we rarely go – and every single time I walked through, I was treated to a lovely view of my yard.


I’m usually noticing all the things that still need to be done in the yard, but this view was so pretty that it made me notice other wonderful things about our yard and I ended the day feeling quite pleased and content (and how often does that happen, really?). 

Just a few more pics to share…






Hope your weekend was fun and productive as well!

Vote for Me!

As you’ve probably noticed by now, I’ve been participating in a weekly writing project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales.  Each week I, and a bunch of other women, have been writing about a year of our childhood.  It’s been a really fun project and I can’t wait to have all my stories finished!  I’m hoping to make them into some sort of book for my kids.

This week, Janna has a really great giveaway for project participants: a free blog re-design by Uniquehorn Designs (LOVE that name!).  I would SO love to win this. 

The giveaway closes tonight at midnight and we’re allowed to leave a comment once a day to win, which I’ve been doing.  We’re also allowed to ask other people to vote for us, so I’m asking you: if you have a minute, would you stop by here and put in a vote for me?

Thanks ever so much!


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pillow Talk


I finally got my act together and made me some pillows and I am lovin’ them!  Now I’m bummed it took me so long.

You may remember that I was so excited to have finally found some inspiration for my family room, but then I freaked out and started questioning my choices.

I actually did end up cancelling the order for the ottoman fabric and decided to go with a wood coffee table (which I got off of Craigslist and never shared), but I still had the fabric for pillows and window treatments just sitting in a box – taunting me.

A few weeks ago, I took some time to make the window hangings.  They’re not really curtains because:

1) It’s pretty dark in that room and I didn’t want anything even remotely covering the windows


b) That fabric was $22 a yard and I didn’t want to buy anymore than the absolute minimum!

You can definitely tell that there’s not enough fabric there for it to be a real curtain, but I was really pleased with how they turned out.  They add a great pop of color to an very bland corner.  And they actually match very nicely with a painting I have from my Great Aunt.


I decided to go the no-sew route and used Stitch Witchery to make them and let me just say that it would have been waaaay faster to just grab my sewing machine and sew the four lines on each curtain.  Seriously.  Even if you don’t think you can sew, standing there holding the iron over each 8 inch length (the length of my iron) for 15 seconds takes for.ever!  Plus, it pulled up a bit when I put the rod in.


After the “curtains”, I ran out of steam and went on vacation, so nothing got done until this past week.  First I made the green pillows, then my husband went out with some friends last night and I had two hours all to my very lonesome.  I used it to make pillows!


I’m just so happy with how it looks now (at least in that corner)! The rest of the room makes me feel schizophrenic, so I’ll just keep coming back and looking at these pictures.

I need to find, at least, one more fabric too.  I think I actually want to put the patterned green pillows and one of the raspberry ones on my other couch and I want to put two solid green pillows on this couch.  Right now, there’s a little too much pink.  I want the room to be mostly greens (and blues?) with a pop of pink – not pink and green.  But, just to be this far is so motivating! 



Still To Do:

  • Find more fabric for pillows
  • Make said pillows
  • Modify slip cover so cushion covers aren’t too big
  • Find pretty, tall dresser for corner
  • Make slip cover for brown couch (if only I had a blogger friend who lived close by and owned a sewing machine…)
  • Stain coffee table top darker (or paint?)
  • Finish picture wall (may require painting frames again)
  • Re-tile fire place
  • Rip up carpet and put in hardwoods (dream…dream)


Friday, July 16, 2010

Farewell Old Friend


This is the sight that greeted me when I walked in the door tonight.  Our poor, faithful vacuum cleaner has finally succumbed to whatever was ailing it and has gone kaput.  (Notice how it didn’t even have the decency to wait to die until AFTER the carpet was clean?)

Actually, that makes it sound like I had some sort of relationship with this thing.  In reality, I’ve probably used it fewer than 20 times in the 15 years that we owned it.  I hate to vacuum and my husband is allergic to grass, so when we got married we agreed that I would mow the lawn and he would vacuum.  Works nicely.

Still, I do enjoy having semi-clean carpets, so I’m going to miss this thing.  It started its death throes last weekend when the belt broke.  My husband found a local vacuum cleaner repair shop that had actually heard of this make of vacuum and went today to buy a new belt.

$3 later he had a new belt in hand and was ready to make our vacuum cleaner work like new.  Apparently, though, the machine had other ideas…not two minutes after the new belt was installed, it started making some scary noises and awful smells.  When Hubby opened it back up to see what was wrong, the new belt was broken! 

Clearly, the vacuum is trying to tell us it’s done and it’s time for us to listen.


As I’m typing this up, my better half is sitting next to me researching new vacuums.  This last vacuum was a gift and it lasted us 15 years, so we have never actually purchased a *real* vacuum cleaner.  Those things are expensive!  I am not pleased.  How am I going to buy new fabric and doo-dads if the appliances keep breaking?!

Anyway, as the ole ball and chain was telling me about all the decisions we have to make (canister or upright, bag-less or bag-ful, paper or plastic), I decided that I’m going to appeal to blog-land and ask for your recommendations.

So, tell me: which is the best vacuum cleaner out there?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mommy’s Piggy Tales – 4th Grade

I’m participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales where I’ll be writing stories about my childhood once a week for 15 weeks, starting with birth and ending with graduation in the hopes that my children, and possibly my children’s children, will one day appreciate it.


My fourth grade teacher was Mr. Lamp.  He was my first (and only) male teacher in elementary school and I thought he was awesome!  He was very interested in science and physical fitness, so I remember doing several science experiments and a lot of running.  In fact, I believe that was the first year that I ran Bloomsday (a 12K run through the streets of my hometown).

At one point, Mr. Lamp had us all building our own Rube Goldberg-ian mouse traps out of paper and office supplies.  I remember spending a long time on that thing trying to get it to work just perfectly.

My favorite assignment from Mr. Lamp (or at least the one I remember the best) was to write precise directions on how to make a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.  The goal was to make the instructions as exact as we could because the next day, Mr. Lamp would read our instructions to each of us and we were to follow in making our own sandwich.

I worked so hard to make sure I wrote each step in perfect detail.  I remember feeling so proud of myself as I followed my instructions and built my sandwich.  I also remember the twinkle in Mr. Lamp’s eye and the smirk on his face when he read my last instructions: “put the two pieces of bread together” (to paraphrase).

As I started to push the two pieces together, jelly to peanut butter, Mr. Lamp stopped me and pointed out that I had not specified how to put them together and that, perhaps, I should put them together gooey-sides-out. 

I gave him his smirk right back and slammed my two pieces together as fast as I could and took a bite out for good measure.  I may have been less than precise, but I’m no dummy!

Missing In Action

Just wanted to let you all know, in case you were wondering, that I’m still here.  I am just in an anti-computer phase right now.  I have tons of stuff waiting for my attention at home and I spend my work day looking at computers, so I’m avoiding my personal computer like the plague.  I’m barely checking my email and Facebook right out!

I’m finally getting caught up at home, though, and I have some renewed interest in a couple of interesting projects, so I may be back soon with something to share.

In the meantime, I hope you are all enjoying your summer!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mommy’s Piggy Tales – 3rd Grade

I’m participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales where I’ll be writing stories about my childhood once a week for 15 weeks, starting with birth and ending with graduation in the hopes that my children, and possibly my children’s children, will one day appreciate it.


Third grade must have been a fairly uneventful time for me because I remember very little that’s specific to that year.  Writing about your childhood is difficult when you can’t remember a lot of it!

My class was actually a 3/4 split, so I was in class with my best friends older brother.  My favorite thing about that year was a book the class put together.  We all wrote (and illustrated) stories and poems and combined them into a little booklet.  We voted on the name of the book and came up with “Our Little Book from Class 3/4”.  I believe we even sold the books to family and friends, though I don’t remember what we would have used the money for.

I remember someone (perhaps it was me?) wrote a story about a haunted house.  I can still see the little drawings of bats and a crooked house.  I wish I could get my hands on that book now (I believe it’s hiding in one of my mom’s storage lockers) – I love getting glimpses of my thought processes when I was a kid.

When I wasn’t in school, my time was spent running (or riding) around the neighborhood with my friends.  I was a latch key kid, so when I came home from school, I’d do my homework, have a snack, and run out to play!  Every once in a while, I’d forget my house key and be locked out of the house.  One day when this had happened, my friends and I decided to try to get in a window.  Unfortunately, all of the windows were locked…except for one: the cat window.

Our house had a room in the corner of the basement that was purely for storage.  This room had a window up high in the wall that led out to our back deck.  It was an extremely small window with an opening that’s probably no more than 12” square.  My mom put a tall cat tree under that window and left it open so the cats could come and go.  Hence the name.

Anyway, one day when I was locked out, my friends and I decided to use the cat window to get me into the house.  We went around to the deck and I pushed my feet through trying to find the cat tree.  I wasn’t quite tall enough, so my friends grabbed my hands and held onto me as I lowered even further into the room.  Eventually, I did find the cat tree with my feet and was able to jump down, then run upstairs to unlock the front door.

That was the first of many trips through the cat window over the next several years.  Eventually, we had to stop (and I had to remember my keys) when I almost got stock at the shoulders (not a good feeling!), but whenever I think about that, I’m always amazed at how brave (and stupid) kids can be.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mommy’s Piggy Tales – 2nd Grade

I’m participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales where I’ll be writing stories about my childhood once a week for 15 weeks, starting with birth and ending with graduation in the hopes that my children, and possibly my children’s children, will one day appreciate it.


I remember very little about actual 2nd grade.  My teacher’s name was Mrs. Green, we learned phonics, and I had a seizure that no one even saw during class.  That’s what I remember about school.

Outside of school, I played a lot.  We had the run of the neighborhood and I was always out with my best friend and the other kids in the area.  We’d build forts in the woods, ride bent over trees like horses, and play impromptu baseball games.

One of the favorite games for my friend, her brother, and me was “Bunny and the Hunter”.  My friend and I would each grab a pillow case and step into it.  We’d then jump around, pretending to be bunnies, while her brother, the hunter, tried to shoot us.

When we got tired of “Bunny”, her brother and I would pretend to box or wrestle while my friend recorded color commentary into our tape deck.  She was actually quite good at it and I remember laughing my head off at some of the things she said.  I think my stomach always ended up being the part of me that hurt the most after these fighting sessions.  How I wish we still had those recordings.  I would love to hear what we thought was funny at the age of 8.

Second grade also saw Mt. St. Helen’s blowing its top off.  My mom, her friend, and I were driving across the state with my brand new kitten when it blew.  They closed the highway and we had to pull off and camp out in the parking lot of a convenience store with a dozen other stranded travelers.  My mom and her friend nearly got themselves arrested by trying to break into an Ai&W-type restaurant.  (Note: this is very unusual behavior for them, but they were feeling a bit desperate, I think.)  When the police arrived and threatened to take them to jail if they didn’t stop, they said jail would be better than staying out all night in the ash.  I was so scared!  I was way to young to go to jail!

By the next morning, we had made it to the nearest good-sized town and were able to find rooms in a motel (no easy feat, in fact I think the motel was actually closed, but my mom talked a maid or someone into letting us rent a few rooms), but the stress of the last day must have gotten to me because I had two of the biggest seizures I’d ever had in a row.  I remember standing over the sink in the motel room, gagging, while my mom tried to help me stand.

Next thing I knew, we were at the hospital…camped out in the hallway because the hospital was overrun with people who were affected by the ash…and eating the one and only McDonald’s Egg McMuffin I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Eventually we made it home, after a week of waiting for the car to be fixed and the roads to clear, but those two seizures were the last I ever had.  I give full credit to Mt. St. Helen’s and every year, I mark the date of the explosion as my own special anniversary.

Related Posts with Thumbnails