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First, an item of business: yesterday, my humble little blog surpassed 20,000 visits!  That means, in the past two-and-a-half years, people have clicked over here twenty THOUSAND times.  Wow.  Thanks, everybody!  If I had my act together, I’d have thought of a giveaway.  Maybe for 25,000.  Any ideas?

Now, onto the fun stuff:

Have I mentioned how much I love Halloween?

Oh, I have?

Once or twice?

Thrice even?

So, yeah.  I love Halloween.

Jason took Nicolas out for some guy time today, so Kalen and I took the chance to spookify the yard.

I suppose introductions are in order.  That fellow on the right is Spot.  We acquired him years ago, when Nicolas was a toddler.  He was named (by Nicolas) after Rolie Polie Olie‘s dog.

The pirate on the left is a new addition to our graveyard family.  I found him at the thrift store last November.  I’m not sure who that extra skull belongs to, but we do have his twin brother up on the deck.

He’s keeping all the dead flowers from Garden Week!™ company.  Now that I’ve gotten the cobwebs up, I feel much less guilty about my lack of green thumb.  The dead plants fit the mood perfectly.

Kalen’s creativity added the perfect touch:

Nice spider placement, kiddo.  He’s got this creepy thing down.  Mostly.

Hey, Spot.  Are you glad to be out of that box?

randomtuesday

  • It’s Tuesday!  It’s the 12th!  Yes, that means TWO posts today, you lucky readers, you.  Unless you just pop in here from Keely’s for Randomness or from Chad’s for 12 or 12.  Then you probably won’t even notice the other post.  So forget I said that.
  • Yeah, I know.  I’m doing well these days if I can manage two posts a WEEK.  I was stressing about it there for a while, but now I’m just letting it go.  This whole spend-three-hours-at-the-gym-every-day deal is eating up the time.  And I’m okay with that.  Even if the antibiotics did halt my weight loss this week.  Dammit.
  • Today, I made this chicken.  It is cooking as I type, and it. smells. glorious.  It also looked quite pretty when I put it in the Crock Pot this morning.  I took a picture.  You have to wait ’til I post my 12 of 12 tonight to see it.  I hope you can handle the suspense.
  • When I was at the gym yesterday, I noticed a couple of those really buff guys in the free weight room* giving me encouraging smiles.  I told my trainer that it was a nice change from other gyms I’ve been to where the encouraging smiles are lacking, and the smirks are poorly hidden.  He replied, “Well, to anyone who works out regularly, it’s obvious you have great form and know what you’re doing.  So that might be part of it.”  I might have actually blushed, but thankfully, I was already beet-red from my workout.
  • My sons are amazing me.  Kalen has had four or five piano lessons, and he’s doing great.  Nicolas has had three trumpet lessons and three weeks of band practices, and he’s zooming through the songs in his book.  My dad, who was a trumpet player for many years, admitted to being impressed at his progress, too.  I suppose there’s a reason neither of them has been interested in sports.  Looks like I’m not a soccer mom — I’m a music mom!  (Phew!  Even with folding chairs, recital halls are much more comfortable than Seattle-rainy soccer fields.)
  • Have I shared that Jason is doing this program, too?  He, of course, is down nearly 20 pounds, but as my dietitian reminds me every week, I am NOT allowed to compare myself to him.  Because he’s a guy.  And guys, when it comes to weight loss, suck.  Jason also reminded me that antibiotics and monthly visitors do not contribute to weight loss.  Which also sucks, but is true.  Watch out next week.  I plan to rock that scale!
  • Purple button.  At the top.  Press it!  Or, if you’re Southern, mash it!  Go random; you’ll never go back.

*Yes, I work out with my trainer in the free weight room.  Me, an overweight, 30-something, stay-at-home mom — in the free weight room!  I love it and feel so strong in there.

Today, I’m thinking about a few years ago, when after school simply meant having a snack, watching a video, and playing until dinner time.

I kind of wonder if they even remember those days.

This is why we stay on the school playground and run wild for a while at the end of the school day.

The painful part is knowing how much bigger the workload is going to get in the next few years.

Things I have learned today:

When you have laryngitis, it does more harm than good to whisper.  Try to talk with your voice, or don’t speak at all.  The latter is preferable.  My PA-C suggested a small white board.  That I do not have, but I do have about three trillion (give or take a dozen) partially-used spiral notebooks.  And slightly more pens.  The combo works just fine.

When you have to communicate with your seven-year-old via the written word, you can’t use your usual cursive-printing-hybrid scrawl.

Or substitute ‘w/’ for ‘with.’

You can, however substitute ‘@’ for ‘at.’  Thank you, internet age.

Even though I do a large majority of my communicating via e-mail and IM, there are still some things one needs a phone for.  And, if one is not connected to the Telephone Relay Service, a voice.  (e.g. Elementary school Safe Arrival Lines.  Oops.)

Short of having one’s mouth wired shut, it is probably impossible for an extremely verbal person to assist a ten-year-old with his homework without talking.

Friends and family are extremely helpful when they hear you croaking (literally, not euphemistically) over the phone.

Pharmacists can be very sweet and helpful when you present them with a sheet of paper that says, “Sorry, laryngitis!  Do you have…”

Both seven- and ten-year-olds respond quite well to being clapped at and whistled for.  This discovery, I believe, has definite training possibilities.  My future daughters-in-law will thank me, don’t you think?

When you communicate with children via expression, note pad, and hand gestures, they will be tempted to respond only in nods and grunts.  Hence, this page, which I’ve referred to several times this afternoon:

(The first page was quite neatly written.  That went downhill, and fast.)

randomtuesday

  • I’ve been doing this exercise:
  • I don’t think anything can adequately convey how much it can hurt, but I’ll try.  Derik (my trainer) said, somewhat jokingly, “Most of the women I start on this say childbirth hurt only slightly less.”  Yes, well…I had a c-section.  The epidural wore off in the middle of it.  Okay, imagine that pain.  Believe it or not, this exercise did come sort of close to that sharp, excruciating feeling the first time I did it.  There were tears dripping off my face onto the gym floor.  The cool thing, though?  The second time I did it, a couple of days later, no problem.  Sure, it was really painful, but exponentially less so than the first time.  It was even less painful today (the third time).  There is hope, especially since doing this on a daily basis may help relieve some – or a lot – of my knee pain.
  • I am now reading The Hunger Games.  Wow, it’s as fabulous as everyone says it is.
  • I just got a great email.  In 2005, Jason and I drove from Atlanta to St. Louis to see one of the last games at Busch Stadium, before it was torn down to build a new Busch Stadium.  While there, we planted a letterbox with a very cool stamp, if I may say so.  Upon arriving home, I lost the clues for the box.  Oops.  *Time warp to 2010, almost exactly 5 years to the week after that trip.* Someone found the box, rescued it, looked me up on letterboxing.org, and emailed me tonight.  I do hope the box is intact and that we can get someone to replant it in that area.  Trust me, this is very exciting news for a letterboxer.
  • Kalen has a raging ear infection.  It’s so bad that doctor actually recoiled from his ear when she first looked in.  Apparently, both ears are fire engine red on the inside.  Of course, he feels miserable, but he loves the pink amoxicillin (who doesn’t?) and the break from school to watch Star Wars movies.  What is he most upset about?  Missing the first Lego Engineering class after school tomorrow.  (That “24 hours free of fever” rule.)  I can’t say as I blame him, especially when I think about how much that class cost.  Oh, and, I guess, the Legos.
  • That should do for some random.  Plenty more available if you click the not-so-ugly button up top!

I have said for years that any conceivable world energy crisis would be solved instantaneously if we could just hook up giant hamster wheels at every home with young boys.

It looks like someone finally heard me.

Where do I sign up?

Happy First Day, boys!

Yes, yes that is a blue fauxhawk on my seven-year-old’s head.

Why do you ask?

randomtuesday

  • So, you all know I jump from hobby to hobby like a toddler on a sugar high, right?  Only without so much energy.  Or any energy, actually.  Get this:  I’ve been hobby-free all summer.  Sure, I’ve knitted a bit here and there on the baby blanket I started last spring.  (The child WILL get it before she goes to preschool.  I promise.)  And I knitted a hat/scarflette combo for myself.  But that’s it.  Really.  It’s like this summer was a giant hobby black hole.  I can’t say it’s going to pick up anytime soon, either.
  • I saw this video on Dooce’s site today.  I could have written her post about it, right down to the goosebumps.  I canNOT dance.  I really wish I could.  I so enjoy watching people with true dancing talent.
  • Okay, summer, you’ve made your point.  I’ve interrupted writing this post three times already to put out fires (i.e., tell the kids to STOP ALREADY) or remind them that We Have To Leave To Go To the Chiropractor in TEN Minutes, So Get Your Shoes On.  ~*~  Whoever invented summer break was genius.  Make it just long enough that the crazies hit the kids a week or two before it’s over, completely obliterating any parental sentimentality that might make us wish for a longer summer break.  Brilliantly played, summer break inventor person.
  • Is anyone else really curious and really excited to see Jennifer Grey on the new season of Dancing With the Stars?  Is anyone else going to get misty when she’s not dancing with Patrick Swayze?  Am I a hormonal nutcase?  (Hint: the answer to that last question is likely a yes.)
  • And, c’mon…David Hasselhoff?  Awesome.
  • Speaking of, the boys have discovered the original Knight Rider on Neftlix.  It does an 80’s girl’s heart good to see her boys enjoying a bit of Kitt and Michael Knight time.

randomtuesday

  • 8 days until the first day of school.  Yes, this does translate to about 9 days until my blog and I get to know one another again.
  • Is there anyone more wonderful than the front office staff at an elementary school?  I love those ladies.  (Sorry to exclude you, men, but our two schools have been guy-free in the front office.)  They are always happy smiles and comforting hugs.  Just genuinely great people.
  • They are also the people you want to get to know.  Even if you’re working two jobs and just don’t have time to be a school volunteer, get to know the front office ladies.  Having a relationship with someone who has their finger on the pulse of the whole school can only be a good thing for your kids’ educational experience.  Plus, they are usually, like I said, just neat, neat people with a true love for the kids.  There’s my unsolicited advice for the day.
  • The boys are on a Harry Potter kick, thanks to the Lego game that came out this summer.  They are currently running around the backyard, casting spells.  Conversation snippet that has me losing it:

Kalen: Halt, Bloody Baron!
Nicolas: I’m not Baron!

(Say it out loud.)

  • Jason and I have kidcare (yay for kidcare swaps!) for a movie date this weekend.  What shall we see?  Inception?  Scott Pilgrim?  The Switch?  It’s a huge choice.  This kind of opportunity comes but once or twice a year, after all.  I’m leaning toward Inception.  I hear we should make another date for a second viewing, so we can glean some understanding of it.
  • Time to stop procrastinating and make some phone calls.  While I’m doing that, you go ahead and click that purple button up top for more randomness, mm-kay?

randomtuesday

  • I’m feeling incredibly Random today, which you would think would bode well for Random Tuesday Thoughts.  Hint: It doesn’t.  Random = scattered = what, a blog?  Where?
  • I’ve been enjoying all the BlogHer posts trickling in everywhere.  No jealousy.  None.  Okay, I lie.  Maybe a tad.  But it’s mixed with “I don’t know anyone anyway and would have felt like an outsider” relief at not being there.  So, mostly, I’m happy to read from afar about the fun that was had by most.
  • Have you ever gone mini-golfing in the rain?  I highly recommend it.  It’s sort of become a family tradition now.  Our Saturday escapade in the Seattle drizzle doesn’t quite match the downpour on the mountainside course in Gatlinburg when I was a kid, but still.  I really do think wet days are the best ones to be out on the mini-links.  The main reason: NO crowds.

  • Look at Kalen’s happy smile.  See how his eyes are all squinty?  Pure, fabulous genetics.  That squint is how I know I’ve actually captured a joyous moment.  If you see Kalen or my dad (or his mom) smiling in a photograph, and you can see the whites of their eyes, it’s not their “happy” smile.  It’s a posed “picture smile.”  Or a stage smile.  There’s nothing wrong picture and stage smiles; I just happen to be partial to the happy, squinty ones, myself.
  • Look at Nicolas’s smile.  It’s pure “for the camera.”  As is his pose.  The kid should be a model.  He does this every time.
  • The Spin Cycle this week is all about weddings.  Scattered brain over here is trying to decide which aspect of ours to write about.  (“About which to write,” I know, I know.)  Any requests?
  • Hey, lookie there.  I managed some random!  Check out Keely’s for a lot more.

My boys

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