Those irresponsible Jordanians

I am cleaning my desk and there is a piece of paper which amuses me greatly.  But I don’t want to keep this piece of paper, because it is clutter.  Amusing clutter, but clutter nonetheless.

And then I remembered: I have a blog.  No need to keep a piece of paper when I can commit it to my digital memory.

Many months ago, Bill went to Jordan.  He went swimming in the Dead Sea.  He saw the spot where Christ was baptized.  And he complained about how awful it was being away from home.  Drives me nuts.  Just flippin’ enjoy yourself.  How hard is that?

Anyway, he brought back a receipt from swimming somewhere – Amman Tourist Beach Swimming Pools – and it has rules written in English, of a kind.  Here they are:

  • Please Keep up the public
  • It is just for families
  • the administration is irresponsible for the loss of your property
  • please dont sit on she green yards
  • don’t enter any kind of animals
  • don’t enter tables or chairs or the nargniles
  • don’t enter balls or bikes
  • you will bear the responsibility if you swim after the sunsit
  • the ticket just for one use and at the same date
  • don’t enter alchoholic beveragess pubc
  • Prevents swimming for more than 100 meters


Velvet Elvis

The antique store was closed, but Bill and I were looking in the window.  Right in the front was a set of collector’s plates.


“When you’re dead,” I told my husband, “I shall live a spartan life.  Except for some of these…”  I waved my hand at the plates, all different, all featuring Elvis.


“Oh,” he replied, “I thought you were going to have one of those velvet pictures.”


“Yes!  One of those and all of these.”

It will save the children fighting over my belongings.


A few months ago, my husband got a new laptop.  It has Windows 8, a touch screen, and all sorts of other cool features.  I have not yet figured out how to use it, and if he’s not home, I spend considerable time fumbling around until I mange to get it to do what I want it to do.

One feature is that it has apps, just like the Kindle Fire or an iPad or a smart phone.  One app – our favorite app – is some bartender program.  You can tell it all the alcohol and mixers you have on hand, and it will tell you all the drinks you can make with them.  After checking off everything we had, it told us we could make over 80 different drinks.  I’m taste-testing them, one-by-one.

The latest is a Cosmopolitan: 1 shot of Cointreau, 2 shots of vodka, 1 shot of lime juice, and 2 1/2 shots of cranberry juice.  I have opened the cranberry juice, so all drinks for the next week will have to include it.

However, I am learning that one drink is more than enough, especially on an empty stomach.  While waiting for my still somewhat frozen meatloaf to bake, I decided to have one.  Well.  My cheeks are tingly, and it doesn’t bother me at all that the children are on their 4th straight hour of watching tv.  It’s thunderstorming, and it’s Sunday, right?


We all managed to get to confession yesterday.  For the second time in perhaps 6 months, I had a priest (different one each time), tell me I needed some “me-time.”  (Last time, the other priest suggested a vacation.  Not a family vacation, but a real MOM vacation.  That never did happen.)  Part of my penance this time has been to seriously consider how I can do this.  (Side note: dear, wonderful priests: I don’t mind you telling me to think about such things, but I really appreciate a penance I can do right after confession.  Three Hail Marys, a decade of rosary, cartwheels on the altar: something concrete and complete.  Giving me a vague “think about it” penance leaves me wondering if I have done enough yet…am I forgiven yet?  Just a suggestion.)  

Anyway, I’m wondering if having 2 or 3 shots of alcohol a few times a week is good enough “me-time”?  

Am I forgiven yet?

Crazy Conversations

I allowed Mary to look at the crayons I bought her for kindergarten.  But, no, I told her, she may not use them yet.  She has to wait until we start school.

So there she is, sighing and smiling over the big, beautiful box of neatly sharpened colorful Crayolas – do you remember what that was like? – and she says, “Oh, I can’t wait to go to school!”

I noted her interesting word choice, but merely agreed with an “mmm.”

“I suppose I’ll make lots of new friends,” she said, with a sideways look at me.

“Mary,” I said, “Where did Fritz go to kindergarten?”

“I don’t know,” she said.  And since she hadn’t even been born, I guess it was a rather silly question.

“Where did Peter go to kindergarten?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she persisted in trying to prove her ignorance on such matters.

“I’m sorry, honey,” I said, gently.  “We’re a homeschool family.  You’ll do kindergarten right there at the dining room table.”

A Post about a post

I had intended to write about how I designated each day with a task to make my week flow more smoothly, but I simply had no time today.

Tomorrow is supposed to be “Do Something Fun” Day.  I have to go to the tax collector’s office and shell out $500 just for the sales tax on Bill’s car, plus all the other fees to get it properly titled and registered.  There is nothing fun about this!  I don’t know what fun thing we will do after that, but I do hope it’s free.

First Birthday

The day before George’s birthday, we drove to Cross City, Florida to meet my parents.  They took my three older boys for the week, and I brought my brother home to stay with me.  I decided to bring a birthday cake and celebrate.

I don’t have a cake carrier, so I made do with what I did have on hand.



Along the way, we saw some Hobbit holes for sale.


I was planning to have a parking lot party at a local fast food restaurant, but my mother, who is much smarter than I am, asked the ladies behind the counter if there were any local parks.  This was a much better idea.

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After the kids played for a bit, we sang, we helped George blow out his candle, and we ate a delicious lemon cake with a raspberry filling.

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My parents gave him a John Deere Duplo toy tractor.  Because every little boy needs a John Deere.

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No pictures of my dad, alas.

But here’s a picture of my brother enjoying my pool.


Hopefully the next movers will “lose” it

Bill was participating in a multi-country exercise while in Germany.  Some of the countries brought token gifts, and he received more than a few things to take up space on our shelves.  My “favorite” is this 10″ tall “bonzai” tree.  The “leaves” are various stones, quarried in that country.  I can’t remember which one – Tajikistan, perhaps?  Bill said he saw trees like this in stores all over the country.  When he described it over the phone, it sounded pretty.Image

A Tale of Two Cars

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…

In 1997, we bought a brand new Honda Civic.  It was a lesson in how not to purchase a car.  We had intended to get a car at some point to replace my husband’s 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.  Instead, suddenly, my 10 year old Ford Escort started leaking oil in a big way.  We (meaning mostly me) were so tired of one thing after another needing to be fixed on these old cars that we (meaning mostly me) were determined to get a new car with zero problems, thinking this would save us money in the long run.  Unfortunately, we had no money saved to buy a new car, or even a used car.  And we couldn’t even afford the payments on a modest car like a Honda Civic.  So we got a lease.

This decision ranks among the stupidest and most expensive of our financial mistakes.

And, instead of saving money on repairs, we spent boatloads on required maintenance: oil changes, 7500 mile service checks, etc…at the dealer all required by the lease.  Suddenly a random water pump breaking on our used car, though inconvenient, seemed a preferable expense.

When that lease ran out (I think it was a 4 year lease), we had too many miles on it to be able to turn it in.  So, we bought it according to the terms of the lease.  We had even less money then.  I was pregnant with Katie; we had bought a house.  When I say “bought” the Honda (and the house), I mean we got a loan.  

{Sidebar: When we first got that Honda, I was not even pregnant with Fritz.  Bill and I (and later, Fritz, too) would commute together leaving the gas guzzling Trans Am at home.  I stopped working when Billy was born, and Bill continued to drive the Honda while I used that Trans Am to go grocery shopping with 2 car seats in the back.  The same year we got a loan for the Honda, we used our $2400 tax refund to buy a $2400 used minivan to finally replace that 22 year old muscle car.}  

I finally paid that Honda off, early, in 2003.  Oh, the freedom of no car payment.  

Bill has been driving that car for 16 years.  That ends this week, maybe even today.  We’ve been talking about replacing it for at least 5 years.  We’ve been seriously talking about replacing it for about 2 years.  We’ve been desperately talking about replacing it for the last 6 months.  With over 250,000 miles, back doors that only open from the inside, peeling hood paint, and a death-rattle, it is past time.  If he hadn’t had to be out of town so much in May, June and July, he would have gotten something else by now.  Fortunately, because he was out of town, he didn’t need to drive the car much.

He had been online shopping, had a good idea of what he could get for what we could afford.  No monkey on our back – this “new” car will be a cash purchase.  And it won’t be “new.”  Several times, he saw cars at dealerships and called about them.  Sometimes, he would be too late; the last time, they wanted too much and he didn’t have the time to go down there and negotiate.  They continued to pester him via email the entire time he was in Germany, finally stopping when he asked if that particular vehicle was even still available.

Yesterday morning, lucky man that he is, he found a listing at eBay for a 2005 Honda Civic within 10 miles from our house.  We went to see it after Mass.  It’s exactly what he needs at exactly the right price.  He is to stop at a bank on his way home from an appointment this morning to get the cash, and meet the owners at their bank to pay off their lien.  I hope that he can get through the DMV this afternoon and be able to drive it to work tomorrow.

I had told him, months ago, that he was not to get another Civic.  It’s not that I don’t think it’s a great car.  It really is.  We drove that thing for ten years without a car payment.  We got our money’s worth.  They will go for over 200,000 miles and maintenance isn’t too expensive (those “required” services every 7500 miles were expensive, but we stopped doing that after we owned the car and the thing kept chugging along).  However, after much thought, I realized that we should have another driver in another year and I could really use a break in ferrying children to various activities.  Having a 3rd car in a year or so might be very useful.  So I suggested, and he agreed, that buying a very practical car right now and saving up for a less practical but more fun car (such as a Miata or a Jeep) next year is good planning.  

And that is my tale.  How not to buy a car…and how to buy a car.  The freedom from car payments beats the pleasure of driving a new car any day.

3 AM Adrenaline Rush

There is nothing alarming about waking in the middle of the night and sensing another person’s presence in the room.  George is too little to just magically appear in my bed, but Mary, and even on rare occasions Peter, will relocate to my room without waking me.  Sometime later, I may wake up and feel her there; perhaps I hear her breathing or some slight movement.

Bill was gone half of June, and he’s been gone all of July.  Just as finding a little person in my room in the middle of the night is normal, so, too, is not having him there in the bed.  I get used to rolling over and finding pillows.

Early this morning, though, I heard the baby crying in his crib.  As I roused myself, I felt someone else in the room.  Turning in my bed, I saw a body much, much too large to be Mary or even Peter.  I had a moment’s panic before I remembered picking my husband up from the airport late last night.

All is well.