Saturday, January 31, 2015

The More Things Change...

Tonight, Petticoat Junction High is holding the annual winter formal dance. At the last minute, the Man-Cub decided to attend with friends. They are going to dinner as a group before heading to the school, and I hope they have a good time.

I'm also a little sad. I knew that it would be a very different world once The Teenager graduated and left home, but, I secretly harbored the hope that I would still have the opportunities to hover over the Man-Cub as he attended his school activities. That's crazy, I know; boys are very different, and, the Cub is particularly uninterested in following the crowd, but, I'm still just the slightest bit bummed that I won't have photos of this dance to add to the photos that I have of The Teenager.

On the bright side, I will have more than enough sports pictures of the Cub, so, there is that. Plus, all of the preparations and planning for The Teenager's activities cost a small fortune, so, the Cub is saving me a ton of money that I can put toward my upcoming trip to Paris. It all works out in the end, I suppose.

And, speaking of sports pictures...

Hugh and I have been traveling to watch games on Friday nights. The past couple of weeks have found us in a particular town, where we discovered a fabulous Italian restaurant; last night I had an awesome baked pasta marinara and a glass of really good merlot, which, kind of took the sting out of the loss that the boys suffered at the hands of their competition.

Games this coming week will be played mostly at home and I am hoping for a win (or two) for the boys; I think their morale could use a lift. I would suggest a good glass of merlot but, you know...probably not a wise idea.

I may enjoy one myself while I wait for the Cub to get home from the dance, however. That is one of the few perks of adulthood, after all.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday: The Male Milestones Edition

It' s hard to believe that the Man-Cub is already halfway through his sophomore year of High School;  just yesterday he was in diapers, rocking a pot belly and blond curls.

Now he's lean and lanky and his hair has darkened to a shade just slightly lighter than his father's. He's also shaving and driving and, obviously, not wearing diapers.

So, it is true what they say about not blinking; they really do grow up in the wink of an eye.

We're Solid

The title of this post is an update on the situation with the cats. As of right now (yes, universe, I do realize that I am about to jinx myself), both cats are back to their normal, um, output, if you will. And, if you've been waiting on the edge of your seat for that report, I feel really, really sorry for you.

As an aside, Guinness is no fan of canned chicken, which I have subbed in for canned cat food. He will eat it, but, he would much rather have something cooked from the kitchen; he may be spoiled.

Finnigan is not so picky (which explains his girth) and has been enjoying the novelty of people food quite well. Today is the last day for that, as I feel relatively confident (yes, universe, I still know...) returning to the normal routine of dry food supplemented with a can of wet a day.

We will see how it goes.

And, I have now written two posts on the topic of my cats and their poop.

I need new material.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

In Which the Fur Babies are Unwell

The last couple of days, both Finnigan and Guinness have been suffering from diarrhea. Since they are both exclusively indoor cats, I haven't been terribly concerned about parasites, and, since they are both having the same issue, I'm not concerned that they have been suddenly struck by cancer or some other fatal disease (God forbid), so, I am chalking the problem up to their food. They both eat the same brand every day, so, we must have either gotten a bad batch of canned food or their dry food is bad.

Either way, after consulting Dr. Google, I have determined that the best course of action is to withhold food for 24 hours, while providing plenty of fresh water. If the diarrhea doesn't clear up, I will make an appointment with our actual vet (no offense, Dr. Google). If it does clear up, I will open a new bag of dry food and start them off with just that until they seem like they are back to normal.

You know, normal for them.

In the meantime, I feel like such a heel. As I type this, both cats are staring at me pathetically from the doorway of the mudroom, where, on a normal day, they would currently be enjoying their morning can of wet food.

Thank goodness I leave for work in a few minutes and won't have to look at those pathetic faces.

Anyway, fingers crossed that this will work and that they will feel better, soon; I really am not a fan of cleaning up liquid poo. I know, who is, right?

Please don't tell me if there are freaks in this world who are fond of that particular chore; Guinness is, as you can see, a long-haired cat, which, requires that I assist in the cleansing of the butt area following a session in the litter box and, frankly, I am already grossed out enough for one day.

Feeeeed us....we are starvingggg....

Sunday, January 25, 2015

These Post Are Never Easy to Write

Friday afternoon, an eighth grader from Petticoat Junction Middle School died after skiing into a tree while on a school ski trip. He was appropriately supervised, was wearing a helmet, and was skiing within the boundaries of his skill set.

It was just a tragic accident.

And my heart is so broken for his family and friends. I'm also devastated for the school faculty and adult chaperones who were on the trip. Hugh chaperoned the Cub's ski trips just a couple of years ago and it created a fabulous memory for him and the Cub; I cannot imagine what those poor parents are going through, there they were, having a great experience with their kids and the kids' classmates and boom!


The school staff handled the accident gracefully and with the kids in mind; in fact, the majority of students weren't even aware that there had been an accident until they were back at the school, under the care of their parents.

I found out about it from the Cub, who came home from practice Friday night in a far more subdued manner than he usually enters our home. He told me that one of the Freshmen had been pulled out of practice and that the coaches had then been tasked with the grave responsibility of telling the boys about the accident that had befallen their teammates younger brother. Out of respect for the family, the coaches also made the decision to cancel the basketball games that were scheduled for the following day, and, the boys were sent home to be with their families.

I am so sad for those kids; I'm sad that yet another of our boys has been lost at such a tender age. I'm also proud of our little community and the way that it comes together to support those left behind.

I just wish I didn't keep getting so many opportunities to be proud of that particular thing.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday: The Downhill Derby Edition

One of my goals for last year was to get better organized. Part of that effort included organizing the pictures that I have been storing in my mudroom for the past sixteen years. Now, I have been a lover of photography my entire life, so, you can imagine how many albums I have (it's a shit-ton, and, let's not even mention the numerous boxes of additional snapshots and negatives that I have accumulated). Needless to say; I was (and am) facing a huge challenge when it came to finding a solution to the clutter.

Enter my handy-dandy pocket scanner, with which I am cataloging each album and box for tidy storage in the digital warehouse of life (please don't ask me what I am going to do with the pictures once they have been scanned, because, I honestly haven't thought that far ahead; a giant bonfire is becoming a very attractive possibility).

Earlier this evening, I scanned photos from a box that dates back to 2003, when the Cub was five, and I came upon the pictures from the first annual Petticoat Junction Downhill Derby. I had forgotten the detail that Hugh and I put into the construction and design of that car, as well as the unmitigated joy that sailing down a hill (at breakneck speed) brought to the Cub. Thank God I have the pictures to remind me.

The Cub took first place that day, earning a trophy and an interview with a reporter from the Hooterville Daily Press.

 I still have the trophy and the clipping from the newspaper, as well as a double-page spread in one of the Cub's scrapbooks, so, it's safe to say that the event was duly recorded for posterity.

The fact that we still have the car in the attic over the garage doesn't qualify us as hoarders, does it?

Boys and their toys..

Please don't answer that.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Heroes and Villains

Hugh and I left for Aspen Friday afternoon and took our time making the drive. The weather was gorgeous, the roads were good, and we had time to spare before the Cub's game started. Our leisurely pace turned out to be a blessing when the coach of the varsity team called in a panic; his personal vehicle had lost a wheel bearing and he and his wife were stranded halfway to Aspen. Since we were just a bit ahead of them, it was no trouble to back-track for a rescue. The coach was very grateful and we were branded as heroes, but, the real hero was the mechanic at the small service station that the coach managed to reach just as his car hit situation critical; that guy stayed late to fix the bearing and coach's car was ready for him to pick up on his way home from the game. You don't see service like that very often these days.

Totally heroic.

Speaking of the game and of heroes, the boys played well but were not quite able to get the win. They never gave up, though, and they went down swinging.

Saturday afternoon, the boys played again, this time at home. The game was a nail-biter from the first tip off to the final score (38-35). The Cub played a really aggressive game, receiving an intentional foul call before ultimately fouling completely out with four minutes left to go in the final quarter. While all of his fouls (including the so-called "intentional" foul) were clean, meaning no malice involved, he was still bummed about having to take the bench. His coach, on the other hand, applauded his determination. Unfortunately, one of the referees appeared equally screw us over. I've never seen such a blatant disregard of fouls in my entire life; the opposing team was throwing elbows and purposely tripping our players and not a call was made against them. It was baffling and frustrating.

At one point, Hugh got a bit vocal about the inequity and came thisclose to getting kicked out of the gym, which, is not embarrassing at all. On the bright side, the athletic director at the school was present and he was disinclined to remove a parent from the gym (smart man). Then, at one point, a player from the guest team slid head-first into the brick wall, smashing his head hard and, the referee was so busy trying to keep the kid's coach off the court (he though the coach was protesting a call), he failed to notice the almost-unconscious kid on the court. It was ridiculous.

What an ass.

Also, I really hope the coaches check that kid for a concussion, because, as I said, he hit hard.

Anyway, all is well that ends well, and, as I've also said, we won. So, yay!

I'll see your "intentional foul" and I'll raise you a three-pointer

To celebrate the win, we went to see American Sniper with almost the entire boys basketball team. Not on purpose or anything, that's just how it worked out.

Did you know that, where teenaged boys go, teenaged girls are sure to follow? Yeah, last night was no exception; Hugh and I had front-row seats to the flirting ritual of the American teen. Trust me when I say, you have not lived until you sit back and observe that adolescent awkwardness in all it's glory.

The movie was good, too.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday, Already? Where Did the Week Go?

It's been a busy week at Casa de Chelle. Between work, chores, work, and more chores, I haven't had a minute to rest. Part of the reason for this is that the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one always produces more bookwork at the store; combine that with the mental haze that I operated in for much of the late part of 2014, and you can imagine how many small mistakes I am now having to correct.

It's not fun.

Thankfully, this is a slower time of year at Day Job, so I don't feel as overwhelmed as I would if I were juggling an equally stressful job load, there.

Of course, things haven't just been busy for me; The Teenager is back in the groove of college classes and has also taken on a job hunt. She has an interview later today and I am crossing my fingers for her, as she has recently made the adult decision to transfer schools at the end of the semester and will need to finance a large part of her living expenses once she moves. Getting some job experience under her belt now may very well help in securing a position in Neighboring City later this summer which will help meet her financial obligations (My baby has obligations! She's so grown up!).

The Man-Cub is also busy with school and basketball and has been helping his father to process the two cow elk that they killed earlier this month. It is a time consuming job and I think Hugh is grateful for the help. Also, it is a life skill that the Cub will need if he intends to continue hunting (Since, you know, he is also growing up).

I wish I could say that today is the end of my busy week, but that would be a pipe dream since, later today, we are making the drive to Aspen to watch the Cub play basketball. He has another game tomorrow and, after I watch it, I am going to meet with Emily to work on the year-end reports some more. Then, on Sunday, I get to go to the store to do payroll, pay bills, figure sales tax, and stress over how I am going to rob Peter to pay Paul.

On the bright side, there is always next week, right?

Next week, I am going to make time for a pedicure and a latte if it kills me (I need to, my feet are beginning to resemble the hooves of a cave troll).

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Food Blogger, I Am Not

It's Day Two of the official Pantry Purge and I am 0 for 2 in the picture-taking department; I think it's safe to say that this experiment will not be immortalized in photos for a shot at internet glory.

Eh, I can live with that.

So, what have I managed to scrape together the past couple of meals? Yesterday, we had pot roast, slow-cooked in the crock pot with a sauce mix unearthed from the darkest recesses of the cupboards. This evening, it was one-pot Mexican quinoa, made with quinoa (duh), black beans, corn, tomatoes, vegetable stock, and an assortment of peppers; it was actually really tasty, the Man-Cub even ate it and asked for more (as Oliver said, "Please sir, may I have some more?" Snerk).

I haven't planned tomorrow's menu yet, but, based on the plethora of canned tomato paste in the pantry, some type of pasta is a likely possibility.

In news somewhat related to my culinary skills, the Cub is back in the swing of High School sports; he started basketball prior to Christmas vacation and we finally had our first home game on Saturday. Although the boys lost, they scrapped hard, and, we could not be more proud. What does that have to do with cooking, you ask? Well, I'll tell you: I have volunteered to host a team dinner for the boys next month and the ridiculous number of cans of refried beans and the commercial-sized tub of taco seasoning that I discovered in the pantry will lend themselves quite well to a taco bar menu.

Winner, winner, taco dinner.

I might even remember to take pictures.

Of the food, I mean. Until then, here are some pictures of the boys; I am a mommy blogger after all (Gag).

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Who's Rocking the Resolutions? I Am!

I am off to a fantabulous start with the New Year's resolutions, and, I'm not even being sarcastic when I say that.

You know, for once.

Now, I don't want to jinx myself, but, the clean eating thing is going fairly well. And, while I do realize that I am only on day seven of a very long three hundred and sixty-five days, I am still optimistic for success. I am also starting to come out of the sugar fugue that has clouded my brain over the past six weeks, and, I am starting to remember how much better I feel when I am not indulging in high fructose revelry. I also broke up with Diet Pepsi again; he is a very bad boyfriend and he done me wrong.

I haven't jumped back into my previous exercise program yet, but I plan to do that next week; I read somewhere that making more than two changes at a time can derail the efforts at making a lifestyle change, and I don't want to sabotage myself.

Or, I am lazy. Your call.

The numbered goals on my resolutions list are going to be easy to achieve this year, given the fact that my mom, sisters, and I are planning a trip to Paris this spring.


For real!

I am both excited and terrified. The excitement is natural, I mean, who wouldn't be excited to go to Paris? The terror stems from a general inability to hand over control of every situation in my life, and, there is a lot that will be out of my power on a trip like this. I guess I just need to make peace with that and focus on living in the moment. That's not one of my resolutions, so I am going to file it under Stay Positive and call it good.

See? Rocking it!

Also? Paris!

    Photo credited to a random Google search

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Clearly, I Failed the Christmas Cookie Challenge

I don't think I mentioned it, but, I participated in this year's No Gain Challenge at Day Job. Wait, I should have said last year's. No, I was right the first time. No? Yes? I am so confused, anyway, the challenge started with a weigh-in before Thanksgiving and ended with a weigh-out yesterday. The goal of the challenge was to gain no more than two pounds over the course of the holidays, and, apparently this is an achievable goal.

For some people.

For the girl who eats all the Christmas cookies, pound upon pound of mint chocolate fudge, enough sage dressing to stuff three turkeys (although, there were only two), and her own body weight in assorted chocolates...not so much.

The reading on the scale yesterday sent me into hyperventilation mode. I did not think it was physically possible to gain as much weight as the scale said that I did. Not in six-to-eight- weeks, anyway.

So, I went home, and I stewed about it.

Were my clothes fitting more tightly? Well, yes, a little. My yoga pants are definitely a lot less stretchy and a lot more stretched, but, that much weight? No, weigh (Ha! See what I did there?)!

So, I blew the dust off my own scale and hopped on. The number on my scale was a lot less hyperventilation-inducing than the scale at Day Job. So, this morning, I whined to the coordinator and made her re-weigh me on a different scale in a different location in the building (hard floor vs. carpeting) and, the number coordinated with the number on my scale at home.

The coordinator went "Huh, that's weird", and adjusted my final weight accordingly.


Except for the part where I gained three pounds, which means I failed at the challenge.

Three pounds of gain vs. eight pounds of gain...yeah, I'll take it.

Rest assured, however, New Year's Resolution #2 (Eat clean, for a year) is well underway.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

This House is Clean!

I spent all day yesterday taking down the Christmas decorations. I was determined to finish the inside of the house in one day, so determined in fact, that I worked through a migraine to accomplish it, and, all I can say about that is thank God for Imitrex.

Of course, the porch is still decked out like the North Pole but, it's freaking cold outside; I'll get to it, eventually (My version of eventually meaning within the next seven days, unlike Hugh's definition which means sometime between now and March).

This morning, I got up bright and early to clean the now-barren house. It looks very nice and I shall enjoy it until the boys get back from their snowboarding trip to throw their belongings all over the house. Then, I shall grouse about cleaning up after them. Wash, rinse, repeat.


Speaking of thankless chores that I accomplish each year, only to have my hard work undone over the course of the rest of the year, today I am cleaning out and reorganizing the pantries and freezers. I intend to embark on yet another Pantry Purge, meaning that I will use as much food that I have on hand as possible before purchasing anything new. I'm betting I can make it at least two months without buying any canned or dry goods. This is always as interesting time for the family; they never know quite what to expect for dinner, but, there were a couple of recipes that I made last year that became staples (one pot pasta being one), so I am hoping that they will be open minded and humor me through the experiment.

The Teenager gets a pass, of course; she is heading back to school next Saturday. I'm going to miss her, it's been nice having her home. Unfortunately, she is not all that excited about going back to school and is seriously considering a transfer to the University in Neighboring City for next year. Hugh and I have mixed emotions about that but, I have arrived at the inevitable conclusion that she is an adult now and she needs to do what makes her happy. Also, 2014 taught me that life is too short to be miserable, so, more power to her.

And, on that note, I am off to wrestle unrecognizable mystery meat from the inner most recesses of the deep freeze. Not only is that part of the Pantry Purge Project of 2015, but, I need to make room for these..

Meat is going to feature heavily in future meals, I mean, obviously.

Friday, January 02, 2015

New Year, New Attitude

Welcome 2015! I just know that you and I are going to be the best of friends.

As predicted, New Year's Eve was a rip-roaring bacchanal! Well, the pictures would have you believe it, anyway... actuality, the girls left the house well before midnight (adults now, college parties to attend, yada,yada,yada), leaving the boys to spend much of the evening holed up in the Cub's room with a bottle of sparkling cider, a plate of appetizers and the Xbox, while the adults shared a bottle of wine and a few beers while watching movies.

The boys made an appearance shortly before midnight, just in time to watch the ball drop at Times Square and to annoy the neighborhood with noisemakers and bottle rockets. Then we quickly called it a night so we would be at least slightly energetic the following morning; we had sledding to do, you know.

The weather on New Year's day left a little to be desired, it was cold, and, by the time we set up camp, it was also snowing. But, tradition is tradition, and we stuck it out for four hours of sledding, hot dog roasting, cocoa drinking, and enjoying the company of the people that we have spent the last ten (or there-abouts) New Year's days with. Say what you will about black-eyed peas being the luckiest way to start a new year, I'll take a day with friends over that any day.

So, 2015 has officially began (begun? Beginned? College English major here folks, clearly tuition money well spent)!

The Christmas decorations are coming down today, from the last sprig of mistletoe right down to the final jingle bell, so, by this time tomorrow, I will have reclaimed my house.

I wonder if it's too early to decorate for spring?

Happy 2015, y'all!