Checking In

Knock, knock…
Who’s there?
Me! It’s me again. Can you believe it? I came back. For a visit. To my own blog. This will probably be a brief visit, but anyway…

Did my last post really say that Snags was starting 3rd grade? Because peoples, he has almost finished FOURTH grade. Where have I been? Not at my blog, obviously.

To sum up the missing year and a half: Snags is 10. He plays three instruments, all of them well. He plays the piano, the violin, and the oboe. He wants to play the trumpet too, but it looks like that will have to wait until I can convince the world to add another day to every week on the calendar. I propose we call it “Anotherday” and it should go somewhere in the middle of the week. Kids would go to school on Anotherday, but parents would have the day off from work to run all their errands without having to listen to complaining children demanding to know how many things are on the grocery list and do we REALLY have to stop at Target too, because a new episode of iCarly comes on in 20 minutes, Mom (but if we are stopping at Target, can we look in the Lego aisle?). Anotherday will help free up our weekends a bit, don’t you think?

In the absence of Anotherday, we are keeping our current schedule that does not include trumpet lessons but does include going to school, doing homework, watching Nickoloden re-runs (by the way I HATE Big Time Rush only a little less than I hate that show with that high-pitched whiny kid Fred), music lessons, and Tae Kwan Do (only two belts away from Black belt which means the kid could kick my ass and hard if he tried). And, thanks to The Hunger Games series of books and the movie, Snags is getting ready to start a six week course in archery.

Yes, I do sometimes question the wisdom of teaching a child how to kick the crap out of you and backing that up with weapons training. But really, once you let a child walk on their own and you teach them how to read and tell time, life as you know it is over, so hey, might as well go all out.

And, that’s about it. For today anyway…


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From a Phone

Hi there! Again, it has been a long time since I have visited my own blog. No reason in particular, but maybe lots of little reasons. Time, or lack of it, being the biggest.

Only now I have a new cell phone, and an app (fancy phone speak) that lets me log onto my blog and blog! So I guess this is a test. Maybe with this I will blog more often. But in shorter words. Or maybe I mean fewer words? It’s a small keypad, typing could get tiring, hunt and peck method a must on this device. And also, this phone likes to self correct words I type, only it is rarely right. So if anything here is gobbledygook that would be why. But I will say this much, it found the right spelling for gobbledygook and for that, I am thankful.

Snags starts 3rd grade in a couple of weeks. I don’t write about him as much anymore out of respect for his privacy, but I gotta tell you, 8 going on 9 is an age of new awareness. He comes home from summer camp every day having learned a new bad word, and how to spell it. Some words he hears from his camp mates, some he reads on walls in the city as they go on field trips to study graffiti.

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Off and Running…

Hi there! It’s me again. I have a new thing going. I’ve got a new blog set up, Running With Photos, where I will post pictures of things I see while I’m out running.

“Running?” You ask.

Why yes. This blog, here, the one you are reading, RIGHT NOT, is called, as you know, Running With Books. Because I like running, and I like books (although I realize I’ve written very little (ahem, mostly NOTHING, about either of those topics here). And anyway, now, I’m kind of in love with my Kindle. Picking up a real book seems, oh, I don’t know, like cheating or something. (Rest assured real books, I will hold you again when I go to the beach, because I don’t want sand grains to ruin my beloved Kindle! In the mean time, stay on the shelves, I’ll see you soon!).

Okay, back to running. I run. Not fast, but fairly long. I like half-marathon distance races, and I’m (gulp!) training for a full marathon, coming up this fall. I’m training now, for the race that’s in the fall (in case that wasn’t clear). My goal there, for that race, is simply this: to NOT DIE. We’ll see…

Anyway, when I run outdoors (because a lot of time I’m on the treadmill), I take pictures with my camera phone. I decided to start a new blog where I will post those photos. Mostly of stuff I see on the roads or trails where I run. Maybe, sometimes, of my treadmill (yeah, won’t that be exciting!)

Look, I’m no professional photographer. I’m no elite runner either (I know this because someone scoffed at my most recent half-marathon time and said “That’s not marathon time… those guys finish a full marathon in that time…” Okay, whatever. And gosh, thanks for the compliment…

So the photos will be from my camera phone and you can find them, a new one approximately once a week, here.

I do hope you’ll stop by!

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All I Need is a Miracle

There’s a story in the bible about one of the many miracles that Jesus performed. With nothing but a couple of loaves of bread and a few fish, he fed a group of thousands and not only that, after they ate their fill, they were able to carry away many baskets full of leftovers.

I always more or less took that story at face value. Obviously Jesus had multiplied the little food there was into tons of food in order to feed the large hungry crowd before him. It was a miracle, simple as that, and I’d been taught by the nuns in 3rd grade not to question miracles.

My son, however, has a different take on the story. As he told me recently, “Jesus just broke the bread and fish into lots of little pieces, and that is how he fed so many people.”

So basically, he fed them crumbs.

I was shocked, to say the least. I’d never even thought of that. When I mentioned it to my husband he pretty much agreed with my son.

Crumbs. Huh. Go figure.

And now, related to that only because I’m in need of a teeny little blanket miracle, I tell you this: My son has a favorite blanket that he’s had since he was an infant. It’s a blanket his godmother made for him that has old shirt tags sewn all along the edges. There is one tag in particular that has always been his favorite. Snags calls this tag his “Night Tag”. He sticks his fingers through this tag and holds it up to his nose and sniffs it. In all honesty, after 8 years of nose rubbing and sniffing, the tag is the foulest smelling thing on earth, and no amount of Tide or OxiClean or Febreze can help it. But my son doesn’t mind, and in fact, PREFERS it when I don’t wash the blanket as he loves the smell, one so foul it makes me gag. My eyes water just thinking about it.

Thankfully, it’s a small tag on a larger blanket and unless it’s pressed to your nose as a form of torture, you won’t smell it at all. A tiny air spoiler it is, (imagine a teensy weensy skunk smashed onto a blanket), but luckily it’s so small it doesn’t usually attract attention because Snags only sniffs on this tag as he’s falling asleep at night, and nobody sees him but us and the dog.

Well, Taggie (the blanket) and the Night Tag have been through 8 hard years of sniffing and nose rubbing, and Night Tag is now worn thin at its fold. My son brought it to me in tears the other night, asking if I could fix it because it’s falling apart. I told him I could sew it back together but it would feel a little different. He’s not happy about that.

This morning he woke up more or less crying. He was crying because he said he’d prayed to God to fix his Night Tag “but he didn’t!” he cried.

“Oh.” I said. “I don’t think God works like that. He doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we think he should. He might answer your prayer about the Night Tag by helping me to sew it nicely for you, but I am pretty sure he’s not going to perform a miracle and just fix the tag overnight while you sleep (although me sewing anything nicely would be a miracle in itself!)

I mean, really, think about this. If Jesus fed the masses by chopping up the bread and fish into tiny little pieces, rather than by multiplying the little before him, why would he miraculously weave back together the frayed edges of a smelly shirt tag sewed onto a blanket? I don’t think he would. I think he’d point me toward the sewing kit in the closet and call it a day.


Filed under Jesus, Night Tag, sewing, Snags

Now That Would Be A Torturous Vacation

This evening, as we were discussing a possible summer beach vacation, my husband announced that he would like to try parasailing.

Now, last summer, when we spent a week at the beach, the very idea of parasailing was met with much resistance and hand-wringing and whining and crying on the part of our son, Snags. He wasn’t the one who would have been doing the parasailing, mind you, but he feared for his father’s life. And so, to end the cries of certain doom and bring the fear of his father’s death down to a more respectable level, my husband chose not to go parasailing after all. This year, he just might.

I held my breath at this most recent announcement, expecting my son to start arguing against such a dangerous activity. Instead, he responded with:

“Oh yeah, I’d like to try water boarding!”



WHA?????? (And for the record, let me just say that I have absolutely no idea where he heard the term water boarding!)

Doubled over in laughter my husband asked, “Do you mean boogie boarding?”

“No.” Snags said. “I can’t remember the name of it…”

“Water SKIING?” I suggested.

“No. That’s not it either.” Snags replied.

“WAKE boarding?” My husband offered.

“Yeah! That’s it! Wake boarding!” Snags said, all smiles.

“I don’t know if you can go wake boarding, bud, but you know, they might have a nice dolphin watching cruise you could go on.” My husband said. “Maybe you can do that.”

So, the parasailing might be in. The water boarding is definitely out. And the dolphin watching cruise is open to debate. Which, I think, is just as well.


Filed under funny, Snags, vacation

Not Your Average Cup O’ Soup

Ahem… Am. NOT. Eating. This.

(photo credit to my husband who saw this on the grocery store shelf and snapped the photo with his camera phone)

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Filed under food, funny, soup


Tap, tap, tap… tap, tap, tap…

Hey, is this thing working?  Can anybody hear me?

This little old blog of mine is like a favorite hangout of my youth, one I haven’t visited in ages.  I’ve been away so long, and now, upon my return, I find it dreadfully neglected.  It needs some dusting, perhaps some weeding, definitely needs a broom taken to it to clear out the cobwebs.

I’ll try and get on that.

Where have I been? You may wonder.  Or maybe you don’t.  As the lyrics to that Tom Petty song go, maybe you don’t come around here no more, either.  I wouldn’t blame you. I realize it’s not much fun to hang around an old place like this, one where the proprietor can’t even be bothered with its upkeep.

I’ve just been doing other things.  Nothing exciting, nothing worth writing about or believe me, you’d have heard about them. Mostly, work. And reading books (hey, I bought myself a Kindle!), and running.  Lots and lots of running.  But not with the Kindle in my hand.  It seems a little delicate.  I JUST bought it, I don’t want to drop it.

And then, well, Snags is growing up.  And growing up means there just isn’t as much to share. 

There is this, though….

The other morning at breakfast Snags was telling me about the world and how in some parts of the world, because the world is a “sss-fear” (that’s sphere but he can’t pronounce it correctly) people are walking upside down.

“Mom,” Snags asked.  “Do you know why that is? Do you know WHY they can walk upside down and not fall off the planet?”

I was happy. I felt like it was the Final Jeopardy question and guess what?  I knew the answer! (Which is totally opposite of how I feel when he quizzes me about Star Wars, by the way).

“Um… gravity?” I replied.  (You see, I added the “um” before I said gravity so I wouldn’t sound too smug.  I’m a nice mom like that).

“No!” Snags replied.

“Not gravity?” I asked, stunned.

“Nope.  It has to do with the way the earth spins around and the angle it tilts and all that.”

Folks, I was a geography major in college.  I learned a little about the earth and how it spins and its tilt and “all that”.  The kid has mixed up gravity with the seasons.

But I let it go, because here, where we live, we’re in the middle of the snowiest winter on record, and schools have been closed for over a week and the roadways are one lane wide, and snow piles hide stop signs and swallow turn lanes.  It’s pretty grave, for sure.  I can see how Snags would confuse gravity and the seasons.

Now if I can only get him to say “sphere” instead of “sss-fear”.  I’ll try and get on that too. 

And oh, yeah… I’ll be back.


Filed under blogging, geography, kids, seasons, Snags, snow, Star Wars

Dear Neighbor

Dear Neighbor One,

The proper words would have been “thank you.”  After all, I did you a favor the other day. You had driven to pick your daughter up from school because you were supposed to take one of her classmates home. Your poor daughter was distraught with tears streaming down her face because she did not want to ride home, she wanted to walk home with her friends. You asked if she could walk home with my son and I. Since we live right next door to you I said, “sure!” and “no problem!”

Your daughter and my son enjoyed the walk home and they played in our back yard for a little while. When you got home you opened my back gate and took your daughter home. I yelled goodbye and waved to you both as you left my yard, but you didn’t so much as turn around to offer a thank you.

I think that’s rude.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Neighbor Two,

You did not give up your babysitter for me. I called to ask if she was available to sit for us and she said was watching your kids during the day but would be free that evening. She even checked with you a second time to be certain you didn’t need her that night so she could sit for me.

But today you said I took your sitter, that you were going to need her all day AND night. You suggested that we share her. Because I’m so nice I’ve agreed to let your kids come over to my house, or my son go over to your house while this nice young lady baby sits all three children.

I’m not thrilled with the arrangement but it will have to do. Mostly I just want to say, who do you think you are? Telling Neighbor Three that I stole your sitter? Really, when were you planning on telling the sitter you needed her that evening? After you failed to come home at the time you’d originally agreed to?

By the way, you don’t pay her nearly enough to watch your kids.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Neighbor Three,

Don’t believe anything Neighbor Two told you about me stealing her sitter. It’s not true.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Neighbor Four,

Hello! I live right next door to you. You can acknowledge me when you see me. You don’t have to pretend I’m invisible. In fact, when I am standing and talking with a group of neighbors, it’s NOT appropriate to ask them as you point to me “What did she say?” You can ask me directly. I speak English.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Neighbor Five,

Please keep an eye on your children. Your three-year old should not have been found all by herself half a mile from your house. I find it disturbing that you had no idea she was gone in the first place.

Your five year old is a cute kid, but he’s legally blind, and therefore should not be riding his bike in the street without supervision. By law, the three year old does not count as supervision. And Neighbor Four isn’t much better as I’ve seen her instruct your kids to cross the street as fast moving cars are approaching.  

Don’t feel too bad about that though.  I don’t think she likes me either.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Neighborhood,

Seriously? What the hell?


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Everyday Math

So the new school year has started (Hello Second Grade!) and along with it, homework.  Every night.  Homework.  And it’s really no big deal, this homework.  Except… EVERYDAY MATH.  It’s a math curriculum that was supposedly developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project.  From what I can tell, the University of Chicago is a place where they apparently don’t know shit about math, or how normal people use math in everyday situations.

Case in point, my son’s most recent math homework: a review test to cover the topics that he learned in EVERYDAY MATH back in First Grade.  Topics like telling time, and using hatch marks to count, and filling out number grids, and counting by 2’s and by 5’s, a little bit about money, and simple addition and subtraction.

Here’s the rub.  The simple addition and subtraction problems?  Each one is accompanied by a drawing of a domino with a corresponding number of dots on it.  So 5 + 3 = fill in the blank, has a picture of a domino with 8 dots on it.  Too dumb to memorize or add in your head or count on your fingers, well, search your house for a domino and add up the dots to get your answer.  Because, yeah, that’s how normal people do math everyday, right?  Calculator’s be damned!  But if you can’t find a domino, don’t worry, your math test will have a picture of one on it and you can simply count the dots to get your answer. 

When I was in school, they didn’t put the answer right on the test like that.  If they did, that would have probably been called CHEATING.

But perhaps I’m wrong.  Maybe that’s how you do your taxes every year?  You swipe your child’s train game domino set and start counting the dots while they are wailing in the background about the unfairness of it all?

I say this: you want to teach a child real math?  Math they can use?  Math they can use every day?  Teach them to count on their fingers or give them a calculator.  Both are easier and more portable than a set of dominoes.  Did they not sell calculators in Chicago when they developed this program? Had the creators of the program lost their fingers in some grisly accident?  If so, how did they pick up their dominoes?

And the number grids?  They look like a chunk removed from a blank crossword puzzle, with one number filled in somewhere along all the empty boxes.  Somehow, don’t ask ME how, my son knows that you fill in the horizontal boxes by increasing the numbers by 2 or 5 or something, and the vertical boxes by increasing or decreasing the numbers by 1 or something.  Or maybe I’ve got it reversed.  Or totally wrong.  I don’t do this everyday, so what do I know?  I just know that NEVER IN MY LIFE have I been told to fill out a funky grid like that.

A giant plain number grid that looks like empty graph paper is to be filled in by columns, rather than rows.  It teaches the children to look for patterns.  I contend it’s far easier to count by ones and just go ahead and write: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12….  My son insists THAT TAKES TOO LONG, and instead spends precious minutes (hurry up and finish your homework it’s dinner time and then you’ve got swimming practice!) calculating the number directly under each number.  So the number under 10 will be 20, and directly under that will be 30.  The number under 8 will be 18, then 28, and so on and so forth until he’s filled out each column. OMG THE INSANITY!  My friend’s son, who also contends it takes too long to count by ones, fills out each square several times.  If the number grid goes from 100 to 199, he writes a 1 in each square, then goes back and writes the 2nd  digit in each square, and then finally gets around to writing the 3rd digit in each square.  To that I say, what the hell? and how is that faster? 

Oddly enough, they seem to be teaching the children how to tell time on a clock the normal way, by looking at the hands of the clock.  I’m not sure why they aren’t using sundials or a pendulum clock for this exercise, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.

And money?  They’ve taught the kids to represent money by drawing circles with letters in them.  A penny is represented on paper with a circle with a P in it. Or sometimes, just the letter P.  A dime, a circle with a D in it, or sometimes, just the letter D.  Learn this, because if it’s truly EVERYDAY MATH, then I suspect the next time you venture into a Walmart, that little smiley face on the blue sign is going to tell you that the dominoes you’ve come to purchase to help you with your child’s math homework cost QQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQDDPPPP, and not $7.99 as you’ve come to expect.


Filed under homework, learning, math


I’m in the shower, all soaped up when suddenly there’s banging on the bathroom door. I see the door handle rattle back and forth in vain against the lock.  If I don’t shut and lock the bathroom door I don’t get a moment’s worth of peace.  There’s always someone wanting to get in, demanding my attention. If it’s not my husband (no, you can’t hop into my shower) then it’s my son, the dog, or in the case of one day last year, a partially deflated mylar Darth Vader balloon that caught some current in the air and floated, eye level to me, into the bathroom while I watched in horror and tried to suppress a scream (calm down. it’s just an air current, not a ghost. there are no ghosts. how would you know?  you can’t see them…maybe it IS a ghost dragging that balloon… if it gets any closer, then surely it’s ghost…. RUN!).

And so I lock the bathroom door.

But that doesn’t stop people from banging on it.

“What?” I demand.

Muffled sounds come from the other side.  The fan is running, the water is streaming down my face.  I can’t make out what he wants.

“WHAT?” I holler again.

But again, I can’t make out the words on the other side of the door.

Soapy and perturbed I shut off the water.

“What do you want? I can’t hear you.  I’m in the SHOWER!”

“MOM.  HOW OLD WERE YOU IN 1902?” Snags scream-asks.

Now I’m really annoyed.  This wasn’t an emergency.  And REALLY!?!

“I wasn’t even BORN yet,” I holler.  “I wasn’t born until 1968!”

“Oh yeah!  I forgot!” Snags yells back.  “I was thinking you were born in 1868!”

I roll my eyes and turn the water back on.  I’m careful rinsing.  I don’t want my rotting flesh and bones to disintegrate in the stream of the shower and clog up the plumbing.  I thought that Darth Vader balloon was kind of scary.  I can only imagine the horror a plumber would feel upon finding zombie parts in the shower drain.


Filed under ghosts, humor, motherhood, parenting, zombies